Saturday, February 28, 2009

Set Me Up In Vegas

Apparently I'm a good liar. I don't try to be, and in general, I don't lie. Often. And not about important things.

This week, my work had a getting to know you activity among a few different functions (I know, I know -- we really should all know each other by now but whatever). Before we had lunch, we were all to write down two truths and one lie on a sticky note and then place this on our nametags.

We then walked around and tried to figure out who was telling the truth about what and who was lying. Almost no one guessed which were my truths, but I was over ninety percent accurate in pegging other people. If only I knew how to play poker....

I'm not sure what this says about me, but I'm interested to see if you do any better. Below are several statements. Some are true, and some are not. Can you pick out which are the lies?

My first plane flight was when I was four years old.

I used to own a retired racehorse.

I don't eat mushrooms.

I'm allergic to grass.

I've never been in a car accident.

I was admitted to medical school but never attended.

I never had a drop of alcohol until I was in college.

I still bite my fingernails.

I can sing the alphabet backwards.

I can't remember my daughter's birthweight.

I don't know how to swim the breast stroke.

What do you think? I'll give you a clue. Of these items, five are not true. Can you figure them out?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Master Manipulator

Sometimes, I'm that mom. You know, the one who lets her kids do things that seem all harmless fun for me but that other parents cringe at, hoping against hope that their kids don't notice what mine are doing.

Let me give you an example.

Today, the wee ones had no school (again), so we spent our morning at the Kohl's Children's Museum again. We always have a great time, and the membership makes the price right!

One of the Little Miss's favorite things to do is get her face painted. She likes for me to paint it for her, poor dear. My artistic skills leave a bit to be desired. Fortunately, she's happy with the butterfly that I painted. It's really that or a happy face.

The problem came in when she noticed what Mister Man was doing. For the first time ever (and this leads me to think that possibly everything we've been doing for the past four years is really having an impact on his development and sensory issues, yay!), he wanted his face painted, and he did it all himself while I was helping Little Miss.

He calls that masterpiece "Two Face" after the villain. We're way into superheroes right now. You'll notice that one half of his face is all scary and painted up and the other is totally normal. You'll also notice that he chose - of his own volition with no prompting from me - a gorgeous Vikings sweatsuit to wear today.

And in our family, of course.... Monkey See, Monkey Do.

The problem came in when Little Miss decided it would be fun to paint my face, too. Since I have nowhere I need to be for the rest of the day and it is water soluble crayon (read: very easily removable), what's the harm?

I'll admit that I did have a moment of paranoia that with my face painted this way I'd get pulled over on the way home and have to explain my face to a police officer, but I didn't let that deter me. She spent a good ten or so minutes fixing my face up right. See?

As we were leaving, Little Miss decided she had to go potty (yay, good girl!). As we were washing our hands, a girl around five or so said to her mom:

Wow, so mommies can get their faces painted, too?
Her Mom: Well, I guess so.
Little Girl: Can I paint your face, Mommy?
Her Mom: Not today, but maybe next time.
Little Girl: Why not?
Her Mom: We're in the process of leaving right now, so we don't have time to do it today.
Little Girl: Please?
Her Mom: Not today. We've had such a good day playing in the museum and having so much fun.
Little Girl: But my day would be so much better if I could just paint your face!
Her Mom: Nice try. The answer's still no.

And that whole time? I'm the one cringing hoping that Little Miss isn't picking up the techniques to try to manipulate people. I'm not so concerned about her manipulating me, but ... let's just say that her grandparents are a bit more susceptible.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Daddies Make Bad Patients

Achoo, he says with a wheeze,
Behold he begins to sneeze!
Cuz he down for the count
Dizziness does mount.
Even Mommy grows weary
For Daddy acts all teary.

Gone are the days of ease;
He does nothing but sneeze.
Indeed Dads aren't great
Just rely on their mate (for)
Kindness, nursing and care
Lovingly patient and fair.

Must we be the only ones
Never allowed sick nor fun?
Oh to be a dad some day
Playing sick we laze away,
Queen of the castle again
Resting, asleep in the den.

Still, we know that's only a dream
The patient requests some more steam
Until the sickness is gone (up)
Very late, we still see the dawn.

When at last they heeded
X-rays not needed
Yet doctors they had to see
Zzzzz's -- not yet, not me.

PS - This is what happens when my husband gets sick. With "bronchitis" he self-diagnosed. He even stayed home from school today and got a sub. I was responsible for working from home yesterday and today. And wrangling children, trying to keep them away from him. And tending to his every want and need so he wouldn't need to touch anything and spread germs to the rest of us. And whoooo tomorrow is a day off school for the wee ones, so I get to try to entertain them while keeping the miserable patient happy. When's my spa weekend again? Oh. Right. I don't have one planned!

I'm going to bed. At least until that little bell rings again signaling that I'm needed....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It Doesn't Quite Work That Way

Yesterday is one of my favorite days of the year. It's Packzi Day! (Ummm for those of you not from the Chicago area, as I think this is a Polish imigrant custom that hasn't translated much elsewhere, that's "Poohnch-khee" Day.) You can get them at the local grocery store, but they're much better from a bakery, and from a particular bakery near me, too. These are so much better than the King Cakes of New Orleans' Mardi Gras or the Pancakes of Shrove Tuesday. Much better.

And I almost forgot about them. It's been a busy couple weeks, but luckily I remembered yesterday just before lunchtime. I took Mister Man with me to help choose what flavors we want.

Oh yeah. The flavors. These hugely filled donut-like creations (the only time a year I have any interest in donuts) come in everything from pineapple to strawberries and whipped cream to prune to strawberry jam and more. Way, way more. Granted, they aren't traditionally all these flavors -- fruit is traditional, but the other kinds are way yummy.

On the way to the bakery to get our Packzis, I asked Mister Man if he remembered Packzi Day from last year. He didn't really remember it, so I explained that we only have these on one special day a year. Packzi Day is just one special Tuesday.

So he asked why. Of course.

Me: Well, do you remember learning about Easter in Sunday School?
Mister Man: Ummm, yeah.
Me: Well, tell me what you remember about Easter.
Mister Man: That's when Jesus was killed. And then three days later there was a miracle and He came back to life.
Me: Right. And do you know why He did that?
Mister Man: No.
Me: Well, He loved us so much that he sacrificed himself for us and allowed himself to be killed so that we can all go to Heaven if we believe and are good during our lives. Because He let Himself be killed, we never have to worry again.
Mister Man: Oh.
Me: And for forty days before Easter, we think about what Jesus did for us because we know that Easter is coming, and we want to remember what a great thing He did for us. Those forty days are called Lent.
Mister Man: Uh-huh.
Me: And the day before the beginning of Lent is called Fat Tuesday.
Mister Man: Why do they call it Fat Tuesday?
Me: Well, Mister Man, if you knew that during this serious time of thinking you weren't going to be able to celebrate or do or eat fun things, wouldn't you maybe want to have one last night of fun before you start getting serious?
Mister Man: You mean I can't do fun things anymore?
Me: No, not exactly. Awhile ago, though, people took Lent much more seriously than they do now. They didn't eat meat for the whole forty days. They didn't eat at all on some days -- that's called fasting. Nowadays people usually choose one thing to give up for Lent.
Mister Man: Like what?
Me: Well, some people give up candy or cakes or chewing gum or watching tv or other things like that.
Mister Man: So today is the last day I can eat any candy?
Me: Only if that's what you decide you want to give up.
There was silence for a few moment.
Mister Man: Mommy, I think I'm going to give up my mouthwash for Lent.
Me: Generally, sweetie, you try to give up things you really love for Lent so that it's a sacrifice. Kind of remembering that Jesus made a really big sacrifice for us. You don't have to give up something this year, but maybe in a couple years when you're a little older you can start giving things up for Lent.
Mister Man: Ok. But I want to count the days of Lent. Each day I'm going to announce what day it is.
Me: That's a good idea. Some people make little calendars for Lent and mark off each day as it passes.
Mister Man: No, I just want to announce it.
The car was silent again for awhile. Then, a shout.
Mister Man: ONE!

Right. That'll teach me to try to explain the concept of Lent and Fat Tuesday to a five year old. And I still haven't figured out what I'm doing for Lent. Maybe I'll just give up sleep....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tasty Tuesday - Chicken And Dumplings

I can't believe it's already Tuesday. Fortunately, we've done some more cooking. This weekend, I made my mother in law's chicken and dumplings -- with my takes on it (e.g., no bouillion cubes for me!). My husband wasn't feeling too well, and you know what they say about chicken soup!

And I have to confess that when I first had chicken and dumplings (when my husband and I were engaged and visiting his family one weekend), I thought that they were supposed to be a soup. When my MIL put them on the table, let's just say everyone laughed at me when I expressed my surprise. Have I mentioned before that my mom didn't cook much when I was growing up?

In any case, they were great, and I've been a huge fan since. They're pretty easy to make, and they're a huge hit with everyone, including the wee ones -- and those are the best kinds of recipes!

For more yummy stuff, check out this week's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed With Grace!

Chicken and Dumplings


5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 c low sodium chicken stock
4 egg yolks
2-3 c flour
1 t pepper

Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the 5 chicken breasts and turn down to a simmer. Cook 20 to 25 minutes and remove the chicken. Cut chicken into bite size pieces.

Beat 4 egg yolks until fluffy (they will change color and turn a very light yellow). This will take about 2 minutes. Add 1 c of the broth to the eggs, being sure to temper the eggs (add a bit of broth at a time and stir well to bring the eggs up in temperature without scrambling them).

Add pepper and flour 1 c at a time. Mix with a fork until it forms a dough that is just slightly sticky but not dry (depending on humidity, it will be b/w 2 and 3 cups).

Roll out dough on lightly floured counter until about 1/4" thick. Cut into strips which will form your noodles (they can be as thin or thick and long or short as you choose). Drop them into broth that you have brought back to a boil a few at a time to avoid clumping. Cook until all dumplings have risen to the surface, then simmer a few minutes.

Add cut up chicken, stir and let the broth reduce until it's at a consistency you prefer (I like thick but still definitely with a sauce).

PS If you want to make it extra rich, add 1/4 cup of unsalted butter to the chicken broth after you've cooked the chicken and before you add it to the eggs to make the noodles.

Number of Servings: 10

(Pictures coming soon once I find my camera!)


Monday, February 23, 2009

SIT Still.

Little Miss got a really cute new shirt. Ok, so I bought it for her. Because I've been ogling the shirts that Karen makes for months and months and we're finally at a point where Little Miss is moving into a new size where we don't have a bunch of hand me downs. Ok, as many hand me downs. Ok ok ok. It was too cute, and I couldn't not have it. I admit it.

Little Miss opened the package herself when it arrived, and immediately held it up against her body to see what it would look like. Mommy, I'm be-yoooo-tiful. Look at my new shirt? Isn't it be-yoooo-tiful? Why, yes. Yes, it is (thanks, Karen!).

Of course, this is the shirt she chose to wear the next morning. She was so excited to get to choose pants to match, and she did a pretty good job. Once dressed, she announced that she wanted to do a photo shoot. Mommy, go get your camera. I need pictures.

And so I did. I placed her carefully on the steps so that the bright colors of the shirt and pants would have nothing distracting from it. And then she couldn't sit still. She had to talk. She had to move. She had to get the kitty involved. I kept snapping pictures, hoping that I would capture something worthwhile.

When I finally gave up, Little Miss wanted to see the results. I've discovered that this merely means she wants proof that I took her picture. She doesn't care what she looks like or what she's doing. It's all about, That's me! Look, more me, Mommy! I'm in that picture. See me, Mommy?

Oh well. She's only three. And a half. I can't forget that precious half. There's only so much I can hope for, right?

PS It isn't just me. My mom saw the shirt and took with her one of the business cards that Karen so conveniently enclosed. Now I need one for Mister Man!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Karma Is Not My Friend

Last night, my husband went to bed before me by a couple minutes. By the time I finished straightening things up downstairs and getting my mug of water, he was laying in bed and watching tv.

Since I'm usually the one who has the television on minimal volume when I fall asleep, it is kept on my channel. That television is basically a Food Network television. My husband though... not so into the Food Network.

When I walked into the room, the television was on a different channel. Nope, not ESPN (good guess though). Not Comedy Central (another good guess). Not the nightly news. Not the Simpsons on Fox. Nope, not my husband. He was watching the Weather Channel.

My husband is one of those Weather Channel junkies. He actually has a favorite weather guy -- but don't ask me the name. He likes to watch the progress of extreme weather -- in other locales. He thinks it's fascinating. I think it's weird.

As I realized what he was watching, I started to giggle. And make fun of him. I did the big loser sign with my hands on my forehead. Still giggling, I bent down to take off my jeans.

The three years of yoga weren't enough. My ankle somehow got caught in the heel of the jeans. I started to lose my balance and could feel my weight shifting backwards. I had two choices, and I had to decide quickly. I could either hop backwards hoping to regain my balance with both legs in the jeans but one leg half out, or I could try to sit down quickly and control my fall.

I chose option b. I neglected to account for the large magazine basket sitting next to the nightstand behind me. I neglected to notice how sharp the edge of the magazine basket is.

I quickly found out, however, as I sat on the handle of said basket. With all my weight, and the momentum of my fall. As I knocked the basket over, I continued to fall, and the basket ended up atop me. My feet went over my head, and my pride was lost somewhere amidst all the mess.

My husband, on the other hand, thought that it was perfect. He couldn't even offer to help me up because he was laughing so hard.

Thanks, Karma. I didn't really need that bruise. For some reason, though, my husband thinks I did.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Yep, We Need More Drugs

We've all met her. It's very rarely a him; in fact, I can't think of any male afflicted with this disease. The worst part of the disease is that she doesn't know she has it. She thinks everything is fine, and she typically surrounds herself with those who enable her behavior and encourage her.

The rest of us, though, we cringe off to the side, just hoping that we aren't sprayed with the buckshot of her attitude. We don't understand her, and we know there's no talking to her trying to get her to change.

But now. There's a new drug available that will help everyone.

No longer will there be women caught in the throes of cheer. No more overenthusiastic, scaring the Disney chipmunks laughing and giggling and exclaiming. She can finally take it down a level. Once again, she will have appropriate reactions because not everything is that "cute" or "OMG, AWEsome" or worse yet, "the cutie-wootie-est, wittow, itty-bitty, pwecious" anything.

Our ears will thank us. Those afraid of surprise hugs will thank us. And our gag reflexes will thank us.

I can't stop laughing.

My husband sent that to me. And he promises it isn't because I need Despondex but because I find these people a little scary. Ok and it's possible that sometimes we spend the evening on the couch just totally vegging. Like a normal couple.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I know, I know. It's only February 20. I think I make a pretty compelling case, however. I would like to hereby submit my application for Mother Of The Year 2009. Please see below for the details. I'm pretty sure I've got this one in the bag.

On Wednesday, we woke up and got ready for school. Little Miss gets on her bus around 8:30 or 8:40 or 8:45 or 9:05 or whenever the bus feels like showing up. I then take Mister Man to daycare by 9 to go to his kindergarten class there and begin work. From there, the school district handles getting Little Miss from preschool to daycare and Mister Man from daycare to preschool. I just need to make sure they're picked up before the daycare closes.

When I looked out the window that fateful morning, it was raining. I checked the thermometer, and it was in the high thirties. Given how hard it was raining, I decided the right call was Wellies and raincoats for both wee ones. They happily put them on, we went on our merry way, and that was that.

Exept for one small issue. By the time the afternoon rolled around, it looked something like this outside:

Just in case you can't see it too well, here's another image. Yes, that's snow. And yes, that's an accumulation on the ground. You can't see that it's now seventeen degrees.

Yep, by the time the wee ones got home, it was most definitely parka weather. But not for my wee ones. Nope, they were in their spring raincoats and wellies. Yeah....


Next time, I'm checking the weather forecast. I promise! In the meantime, I'm a shoo-in, aren't I?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ummm, Is Sorry Enough?

I have a younger sister. In fact, I can't remember life without her, as she's only fifteen months younger than me. In many ways we're very similar -- or my parents pushed us to do the same things -- but our personalities are very different.

I was always the older good girl who did everything first and who was remembered when my sister came behind me in school and sports two years later. Looking back, I kind of feel sorry for her, but at the time, I was annoyed that she always had to do the same things I did. I never had anything for myself.

I even had to wait until I was six and a half before I could get pierced ears. July 25, 1982 I got my ears pierced. I had waited so long, and my mom kept telling me I had to wait until I was older. Want to guess when my sister got her ears pierced? Too?

I wanted to start horseback riding. I had to wait until I turned eight for a few reasons. We were in Belgium and I didn't have strong enough French to start. When we moved back to the States, I was told that the barn wouldn't take students younger than eight. I waited and waited. When I turned eight, I started my lessons. My sister was in the same lesson group. (Then again, she fell off her horse the fourth lesson in and has never gotten on a horse since. Needless to say, horses became my -- defensive? -- passion.)

As I got older, I learned to deal with it better. As a young child, however, I probably could have been a better big sister.

I had the usual dream that I was an only child. That my parents loved me best. That my sister was an imposter. That she'd go away someday. Soon. (Hey, I was four or five at the time. Cut me some slack!)

I decided that having her believe this would make it that much more real.

So I told her that she was an alien. Quite matter of factly, I informed her that when she was a baby, aliens landed on the roof of our house. They had her all wrapped up in her special yellow blanket and left her on the roof as they flew away. My parents had found her up there after she started crying loudly enough to wake them up, and they felt sorry for the little alien baby, so they decided to take care of her. But any day now, those alien parents were going to come back and take her.

I repeated this story. Often. My sister became frightened to go outside, and when forced to, she'd stare at the sky and the roof just absolutely petrified. Secretly, I was pleased with myself for getting back at her for some imagined slight.

Unfortunately, my parents eventually noticed her odd behavior. Even though she was only three or four at the time, she finally explained why she was so scared. Yeah, I got into a little bit of trouble for that, but somehow I escaped too much trouble. I know I wasn't grounded.

And then there was the time when my sister was grounded and I rubbed it in her face by playing outside directly below her window... but I'll save that one for another time.

Luckily, I've grown up quite a bit since then, huh?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

And The Battle Rages On....

In most homes, there's a flipper battle. (And let me take a brief aside to clarify what I mean for those of you who use wrong terminology for the flipper. I'm referring to the remote control that you use to power the television. It's a flipper. At least in my house.)

From what I've heard, the husband usually wins this battle. He controls the remote control, flipping through channels at random anytime a commercial comes on or he's otherwise bored. Don't think you're watching the whole way through The Terminator or seeing an entire baseball game uninterrupted. There are three other baseball games on at the same time, and -- unless there's a no hitter going on in one of them -- the man must watch all of them as simultaneously as he can. He rests no more than two minutes on a single game before moving to the next one.

Not so in our house. In our house, we have an entirely different battle of the flippers. Observe.

Yep, we've got two identical flippers to control a single television.

Now, we didn't start out intendeding to have dueling flippers. We originally only had one. But then our new tv started acting funny. I got the black screen of death a few too many times (think computer blue screen of death except ummm black). After sending out a guy to repair our new tv twice, the nice people at Vizio agreed that we had a defective television and gave us a new one to replace our icky one. When they took the old one away, they didn't want its manuals. Or the extra flipper.

So now we have two.

This means that when my husband turns the volume up to 22 when the wee ones are sleeping, I can just quietly pick up my flipper to turn the volume down. Or when something we didn't intend to record starts recording and my husband is panicking trying to figure out how to stop it, I can calmly put things right. Or when he starts flipping the channel too often, I can flip back.

At least, I can do that most of the time.

You see, my husband typically goes to bed later than I do. And when I head to bed, I set my flipper on the coffee table in front of me so that I can easily access it when I next need it. Sometimes, I even put it in the drawer, and everything is all neat and uncluttered.

My husband, however, is from the family where the flipper belongs with the tv. He'll pick up my flipper at some point and put it... here where I found it this morning.

Or he'll move my flipper over here, like I found the other flipper this morning.

Or he'll have it in the kitchen. Or it will be buried in a couch cushion. Or on top of the mantel of the fireplace. I even found it in our bedroom once and once in the dining room.

One positive from this is that at least he doesn't try to blame it on the wee ones. He knows better. While I've successfully trained them to leave the flippers be or put them on the coffee table, I've yet to have any impact on my husband's habits.

And really, with two flippers, you'd think I'd have a chance at being able to easily spot a flipper when I need one, right? Not so much in our house.

Putting the flipper underneath the television is the one that cracks me up the most though. The whole point of having a flipper is to avoid having to go up to the television and change channels -- and yes, I've had televisions where I've had to do that. Back when there were three channels and then the U for the other two channels that supposedly were out there but were almost impossible to tune in (my family didn't get cable until 1986, I believe, and even then only one television had it). If you're trying to avoid walking up to the television and pressing buttons, why do you put the flipper where you must walk up to the television? At that point, I'd rather do it manually.

On the plus side, I'm sure I burn off a few calories each day looking for the wandering flippers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tasty Tuesday - Chicken Stew With Biscuits

Ok, first of all, I realized (too late) that I oopsed and forgot to take pictures. And since this was a nasty work week and then I got sick -- and I still have no voice -- the options for me cooking "real" food that I haven't already posted were minimal.

But this is one of my favorite wintertime recipes. I hadn't made it yet this year, but as soon as I did, I realized that I need to make it more often again! If you're up for more, go check out this week's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed With Grace for more fun recipes and kitchen tips!

Chicken Stew with Biscuits:

4 chicken breasts
2 1/2 c flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
7 T unsalted butter (butter substitute - Crisco or Earth Balance for dairy free)
1 1/3 c milk (rice milk for dairy free)
1 carrot, medium dice
2 stalks celery, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
4 c chicken stock (low sodium)
2 T parsley, chopped (tarragon and sage also make great additions)
salt and pepper to taste

Poach chicken, then shred to bite sized pieces.

Heat heavy soup pot (wider is better to fit more biscuits) over medium heat and add 4 T butter. Add carrot and celery and saute until softened (4-5 minutes). Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in 1/3 c flour to make roux, cooking 2 more minutes.

Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil, then simmer 20 minutes until sauce is like a thick soup. Add 1/3 c milk and the poached chicken pieces. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add parsley.

While sauce is thickening, make biscuit dough and heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix 2 c flour, baking powder, and 1 t salt in large bowl. Heat 3 T butter and 1 c milk in small sauce pan, then pour over flour mixture. Gently mix together until it just forms a ball. Roll in your hand to make ~10 biscuits (flatten slightly).

Once the chicken mixture is ready, add biscuits atop the mixture (if your soup pot is too narrow to fit or won't go in the oven, move mixture to an oven safe Pyrex type pan). Don't fill all the space (although some touching is fine), so that the biscuits will cook properly.

Cover the pot (use tin foil, if necessary) and place in the 350 oven. Cook 10-15 minutes until the biscuits are firm and puffy, then serve.

Number of Servings: 10

In fact, my mouth is now watering thinking about this. Enjoy!

PS Yes, I did make this dairy free with soy milk and Crisco (for Little Miss), and it was fine. Not as good as the original, but pretty darn good nonetheless!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thanks, Dear!

So I'm sure you've all been waiting with bated breath to see what my husband got me for Valentine's Day. I mean, c'mon, it's a special day, right? And he's learned.

He knows not to do flowers. The cats jump up on the counters and eat them. Every time. And I'm only into really good chocolate, but he doesn't know what that is, so he avoids pretty much all chocolate. I don't really do cards, so he no longer sends me cards. And thankfully, he never thought lingerie made for a good Valentine's Day gift.

Instead, here's what he got:

What, you don't think the basket full of plastic sticks is a good gift?

Oh. Yeah. Only the sticks are left. We ummm (and by "we" I mean my husband and the wee ones AND me but mostly the wee ones, in particular Mister Man) sorta ate it all already.

Originally it was a fruit bouquet. It had lots of chocolate dipped strawberries (yum yum yum yum!). And heart and flower shaped pineapples. And cute little grapes that look like ferns. Or something. Did I mention the chocolate dipped strawberries?

Yeah, sorry I didn't get a picture before it all disappeared, but I promise to try harder next year. Yeah, I know. I'm presumptuous, aren't I?

So what did you get?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stupid Genetics

As parents, there are always traits we pass on to our children. Some we are grateful to pass on, while others we wish would end with us. I appreciate that my mom gave me her low blood pressure, but I'm even more grateful that she kept her mouth of cavities to herself. You know. That kind of thing.

This afternoon, I realized that a trait I'm grateful for in the wee ones is directly passed down through my husband's side of the family.

It was very quiet this afternoon. We had two birthday parties this morning (yes, two -- and I will post a couple of cute pics), and the wee ones were tired, especially after spending the previous night at Grandma and Grandpa's.

On the way home, Little Miss was happily chattering to me and singing away in the back seat. Until all of a sudden, she wasn't. I went from hearing "chim-chiminey chim-chim cheroo" to soft snores in about thirty seconds. She was out. I couldn't do anything to wake her up, not that I really wanted to. On the plus side, it made it easy to take off her shoes and coat and get her into her bed without her waking up.

Mister Man went into his bed and didn't come out until I went to wake him up almost four hours later. And by the way, he went straight to sleep before 7pm. My wee ones are good sleepers. They need a lot of sleep, and they typically fall asleep pretty easily.

I never really thought too much about it, but today I was tired. It was one of those days when I wish I could just lay down and take a nap. The wee ones were quietly sleeping, and I didn't have anything urgent I needed to do. The only problem is that I cannot nap. I'm just physically not capable of doing so.

Then there's my husband. He was sitting in an armchair across the room from me. He announced that he thought he might take a little nap. He closed his eyes, and snoring commenced. It took all my willpower to avoid throwing things at him. He didn't wake up until I was on my way to go wake up the wee ones.

He slept through my turning on the tv and watching something about two feet from his ears. He slept through me getting out the pots and pans and making the chicken noodle soup for dinner. He slept through my phone ringing - twice - and me carrying on (hoarse) conversations.

At least he never needs to worry that the wee ones are his. I'm grateful for their ability to sleep and sleep well, but ... couldn't it have been something that skipped my husband and came directly from the grandparents?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mommy Has A Life, Too. Sometimes.

Yesterday, I talked about the fun day I had with my kids. And really, it was fun. After I posted, I went out and had more fun. Each quarter, three friends and I (all of whom live in the city except for me) go have dinner somewhere fun downtown. It's our seasonal get together -- to the point where our reservations are now under the name spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

It all started out pretty well. I made the train -- and I haven't always done that. Plus, I was reading. An actual, honest to God real book. A poorly written one, admittedly, but I was actually reading a real book like an adult. Ahhhhh.

When my phone rang and saw it was my husband, I debated not answering. Fortunately, I did. He wasn't having such a good time in the 13 minutes since I'd left the house. He went to wake up Little Miss, who was sleeping so soundly after our day out that ummm she kind of had an accident in her bed. And she was very upset about it. OH! And the reason my husband went to go wake her up was that well, long story.

He coaches. And today (Valentine's Day, thank you very much) he has a tournament in Bloomington. That's like three hours from here. And he drives a mini-bus with the kids to the tournament. Smart and efficient man that he is, he picked up the bus last night from the garage place and brought it home to save time this morning.

That's all well and good until he got the call from the high school asking if he'd taken bus number three. Yeah... the cheerleaders needed that bus last night. And he had to return it. Immediately. Thus, Little Miss was woken up from her nap. Needless to say, Mister Man and Little Miss loved the special bus ride last night. And I got to just giggle while I relaxed on the train down to the city.

When I arrived, I remembered yet again how much I miss it. As I walked down Madison, there was a guy singing his original composition "Oh Yeah, Don't Give Her No Peanut Butter" over and over again while accompanying himself on his makeshift drumset. There's nothing like it.

I met up with my friend at her office building and we headed over to the Gage Cafe. It's an upscale Irish gastropub. Basically everything from fish and chips to a saddle of elk. My friend and I walked in about ten minutes early, and my first comment to her was that they certainly weren't hurting for business.

The place is loud. REALLY loud. Loud enough that after we'd been waiting for a few moments, a couple approached me and asked if I were from around there. They wanted to know if I could recommend a place nearby that was quieter. Luckily, they asked (in my opinion, of course) the right person, and I directed them to a few places. I saw them leaving about three minutes later headed, I believe, to The Village. The third floor has a lovely quiet restaurant with suberb food and wonderful service.

When we sat down, we were in a loud area, but we were too hungry to wait the extra forty minutes for a table in the back section -- where presumably it was quieter. Our waiter appeared after we'd sat there for five or ten minutes. Just long enough to say he'd be back shortly to take our drink orders.

I will say that our waiter had a really great accent. And he had stories about everything -- including items on the menu to avoid, which you never hear. When we finally got our drinks about forty minutes after sitting down (Cucumber Cobbler for me, and yes it was a) as interesting as it sounds and b) as strong as the Irish like their alcohol), I realized that I wasn't going to make the train I usually do. And I was so totally ok with that -- gotta love hanging out with my girlfriends!

And the food? Ohhhh, the food. It was delicious. We started out sharing four appetizers. They chose fried chicken livers that I didn't partake in. We all enjoyed the other three -- house cured salmon with some delish caviar, the Gage fondue (and we so could have gone for another round of that), and caramelized lobster over quinoa. Funky, huh? I was really bummed that we weren't more hungry, as the trough of fries with curry gravy sounded really good, too. Granted, they didn't include "trough" in the description.

The entrees weren't as easy. There wasn't anything that jumped out at me, so I chose another appetizer as my entree. Have I mentioned that I love risotto? Yeah. The goat cheese risotto with crispy basil and escargot rocked. Everyone was jealous, although one of my friends had a fluke that looked really good.

Before our entrees arrived, we each ordered another round of drinks -- plain mojito for me this time. And yes, I know it doesn't go with risotto. Apparently the waiter did, too, as the second round didn't arrive until my risotto was gone. Needless to say, nice waiter comped them all. And he blamed my mojito for being the cause, as the bartenders hate to make them because they take work. Uh-huh.

Ohhhh, and did I mention dessert? Usually, we all check out the dessert menu before ordering so we know how much room to save. This menu didn't show desserts, so we had to wing it. Fortunately, we saved room. The creme brulee with mission figs was wonderful and not freezing cold for once. Our brown sugar souffle with the alcohol-y goo they poured in the middle -- di.vine. And the coffee and donuts? I can't even begin to describe them, but they're so not what you'd think coffee and donuts would be. They're orgasmically better. We were really glad we saved room -- me, especially since I had an appetizer for my entree.

When we finally left the restaurant way more than three and a half hours after we first walked in, it was no quieter. Outside, however, it was snowing. With the sort of -- for Chicago, anyway -- nice weather we've been having lately, I forgot that it was still only the middle of February and snow is kind of normal. But my very, very nice friend drove me back to Ogilvie so I could just barely make the 10:30 train and not having to wait until 11:30 to start my trek back to the boonies.

I swear, the late night and the alcohol and the very, very loud restaurant have nothing to do with the fact that I'm without a voice today. Nothing.

How many days until the spring equinox when we can start planning our next dinner out?

Oh yeah -- and Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Forget The Art, I'm All About The Kids!

I love museums. I love science museums and kid museums anyway. You know, the ones where you get to play. I know this makes me a bad an uncultured person, but for me art should be something you love that's on your walls. I just have no interest in looking at weird (or beautiful) thing after weird thing in hall after hall.

Before kids, science museums were my savior. They were so much fun to play in. And don't ask me about the toy and ummm stuffed animal (like taxidermy) museums I went to in Munich. I still enjoy them today, but luckily I now have children's museums that I can justify going to.

The Kohl's Children's Museum is one of our favorites. They have a ton of stuff to do and play with, and they change up some areas. We go every chance we get when we have a day off school. Like today.

And mmmm the pretzel cafe. I was so proud of myself for walking out of there having only a veggie sandwich pretzel and not getting one of their specialty stuffed pretzels or their chocolate chip cookies with pretzels on top. Ok ok ok. That's only because I'm headed out NOW for my quarterly girls' night out in the city where we're going to a fantabulous restauarant. And eating and drinking. A lot. I love Metra!

But without further ado -- my cute wee ones enjoy the museum! And remind me to renew when we go back in two weeks. Our membership expires March 1!

Little Miss loves to decorate the house they have there. The magnetic wallpaper may be tacky, but she's learning her home improvement skills early! Then again, I wouldn't wish the skill of wall papering on anyone. That stuff is such a pain!

Mister Man absolutely loved being a vet. He put that little lab coat on the second he walked into the vet area and never took it off -- including when we left. Oops. He was fascinated by the microscope that blew up images of everything from a tapeworm to a flea to a human hair. Watching him examine all those was... well, adorable.

As the vet, he got really into it. Not only was he taking care of the animals there, but he was getting into their kennels to help them out so they would feel more comfortable there. And it's possible that Little Miss closed the door on him and tried to lock him in. Possible....

Little Miss wasn't going to be left out of the action. She wouldn't wear the lab coat, but she walked around with the giant shot needle for a long time. Look at the expression on this poor girl's face as Little Miss gave her kitty a big shot!

This museum also has face painting available as an option. Generally, Little Miss prefers to do her own face painting. That means she dips the crayon thing into the sponge to get it wet and then draws all over her face and clothes. I have a picture of her on our calendar for this year where she's almost all magenta. Apparently she's maturing in that she wanted me to draw a butterfly. I have no artistic skills. Do the polka dots hide some of the bad job I did? That was the goal.

And then there's the car wash. This is another perennial favorite. The wee ones run one way through the car wash. Then they run the other way. They dance in the middle. They run back and forth and back and forth. I love it. This pretty much ensures a good nap by the time we get home from the museum.

The most fascinating part of the museum for the wee ones -- and many other kids -- is the dirt pusher. Basically you have a crank that moves little containers up and around a track. When the "dirt" bundles get to the top, they slide down the roof, and there are wheelbarrows to catch the "dirt" and bring it back to the beginning. We always spend about half our time at this one station. Then again, so do most of the boys that make it that far into the museum! It is pretty entrancing to watch, to be honest.

And as a "fundraiser" they offer the twirly coin collector. You put a coin in, and it goes around and around and around. At the bottom, it tells you how much the coin is worth. Ostensibly, this is educational as well as fascinating, right? Well, let's just say that I've caught my kids begging for coins (successfully) from strangers before, but never once have they looked up to see what the value of the coin was worth. We spent a good sixteen cents here today -- not counting what my friend plugged in.

Little Miss announced that she was Captain Hook driving her pirate ship to London to catch Peter Pan. Forget the fact that this boat is supposed to be in the midwest in a traditional pond with deer and geese and dragonflies and such. She's using her imagination, and you should have seen the fierce look Captain Hook gave me after she caught me taking her picture....

And really... I ummm didn't play with any of it. I was just ummmm helping them when they got stuck. Yeah. That's the ticket. And now? It's time for me to go out and act like an adult with my girls night!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oh Those Glory Days!

When I was in the eighth grade, I had an interesting year. Prior to that point, I had attended Catholic school from kindergarten on. A couple weeks before the school year, I had told my mom I wasn't going back to the school again.

Apparently I made a pretty compelling argument for abandoning the small school with a Spanish teacher who didn't speak Spanish. We went to go register, at which point my mom realized that we didn't live in the district she thought we had. For four years. So we registered in the correct district about three days before school started.

I went from having 31 students in my grade and knowing every one of them to having three hundred in my grade, having a locker, going from classroom to classroom by myself, and making all new friends... with people who had gone to the same school together since they were in kindergarten themselves.

Luckily there was a new girl in my neighborhood (who recently found me on Facebook, yay!) that I clicked with. We didn't have the same lunch period, which meant that we ended up being friends with slightly different groups, but the two of us still hung out at my house every day after school watching tv, making nachos in the microwave and sometimes even doing homework.

When my birthday rolled around, she stopped by right after dinner. She had a present for me. I was so touched, as I don't think we did birthday parties in eighth grade so this giving a gift just because was all new to me.

I eagerly unwrapped the small square-shaped present to find a CD. My very first CD. It was INXS Kick. I had never heard of INXS before, nor had I ummm seen a CD. I was so stoked though, as my friend explained it to me. Keep in mind that my parents still had a record player in the great room at that point. We hadn't even moved on to tapes yet.

My face fell as I realized that I couldn't actually listen to it though. It's possible (knowing me -- not from memory) that I started to throw a bit of a fit. Just saying that I know myself at the age of 12.

My parents then brought out their gift to me. It was large. And heavy and rectangular. I ripped off the paper to discover my own personal CD player boombox! It rocked. It had two tape decks, a CD player, AND a radio.

I. Was. Cool.

My friend and I raced upstairs to my room and plugged it in. We put in the CD and turned it up loud. To this day, I can still tell you the songs and what order they are for that CD. I can sing every word of it. On the fourth track of the CD, I swore (quietly, of course) for the first time along with the music.

It's one of those things I can't quite give up. Even (OMG, I just calculated this and I don't like the answer) twenty-one years later.

The antenna doesn't stand up so well anymore, so you have to use the handle to help position it. Other than that, it works just fine. The batteries in the remote control -- yep, it even had a remote control -- need replacing, but other than that it's just like new. Minus the tape goo that's still stuck on it in a few places. And the dust. And the scratches from who knows what.

Right now, it's sitting in the garage, as it doesn't really fit anywhere. I'm thinking, though, that maybe it's time to pass this gift on to Mister Man. After all, his first CD player has already bitten the dust. They just don't make things the way they used to, do they?

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