Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why Miss Crabby McCrabbypants Needed A Nap Today

Two giveaways going on right now:
Hot Locks dolls here


Probiotics here.


All I can say right now is "Thank GOODNESS Little Miss is long since in bed and asleep." I'm actually about ready to head there myself after today. It's definitely not been the most fun day.

So while Little Miss thinks she doesn't need to nap, I beg to differ. I'll have to read her my...

Top Ten Reasons Why Little Miss Needs To Nap:

10) My husband put her to bed over an hour past her bedtime last night. I know this because I was at a meeting and came home an hour after she should have been in bed and heard her playing in the bathtub. On the plus side, she eventually had nice, clean hair.

9) Little Miss refused to get dressed this morning. She walked around with her pjs half on and half off and refused every potential outfit in her closet. Whee.

8) She then refused to drink her milk with her calcium vitamin in it at breakfast (and for my non-dairy little girl, that is not an option). She didn't have a good reason other than just not feeling like it. And with me driving carpool today, we couldn't dawdle.

7) As we were trying to get out the door to pick up the carpool on time, Little Miss threw a hissy fit when I told her it was going to be too warm to wear her winter coat on top of her fleece sweatshirt. And by hissy fit, I mean full-on, laying on the floor, burying her head in her hands, screaming fit. I removed her coat while she was still lying there and carried her to the car.

6) Before naptime, Little Miss insisted she didn't have to go potty. We always have to go potty before naptime or there are problems with falling asleep. I picked her up and placed her on the potty (which isn't uncommon; she likes to play a game where she hides in her bed and I go find her). She threw herself indignantly on the floor, just missing the edge of the bathtub. After sitting dry as a desert on the potty for five minutes, I let her go to bed. She was up six times to go potty during naptime.

5) By the end of naptime, she looked like she was wearing eyeliner. Little Miss has always been easy to read when she gets tired. She gets circles under her eyes as soon as she starts to get the slightest bit tired. The more tired she is, the deeper and darker those circles go. They were epic.

4) After Mister Man got home from school, we needed to head to the grocery store. I gave him the option of biking (we're a mile or so away) or driving since he's still a little freaky about riding his bike. He chose to drive, and Little Miss started screaming and hid behind the armchair in the family room, kicking at the curtains with her foot.

3) When I asked Little Miss to put on her shoes, she refused. Repeatedly. When I explained that meant no bike riding for her after we got back from the store, she ignored me. I picked her up and carried her to the car. You would have thought I was ripping out her fingernails with rusty tweezers the way she was carrying on. The girl has a future on the stage.

2) When we got to the store - sans shoes for her - I carried her inside and placed her in the cart, she refused to sit properly in the cart. She made faces at me and turned sideways. There was some more screaming (not going to the grocery store was unfortunately not an option). After being asked if she wanted a timeout in the grocery store, she decided that it was ok to sit as instructed.

And the number one reason Little Miss needed to nap today?

She couldn't finish her dinner, she was so tired. She went up to bed before her normal bedtime and was sound asleep before Mister Man made it upstairs to start getting ready for bed - and they have the same bedtime.

And me? I think I need a nap about now. Or maybe just an early bedtime myself!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tasty Tuesday

Do you have or know a little girl? There's a brand new line of dolls out there, and I'm giving one away with my Hot Locks giveaway!

If you've ever wanted to try them, here's your chance with the probiotics giveaway here.

Odds are really good... quick, go enter and I promise to wait for you.


I had to think really hard about what to post this week. We were on spring break last week, which meant the wee ones and I were running around most of last week. I did a lot of fresh, quick cooking, and many things we made, I've already posted.

Then I had my brilliant idea (ok, so brilliant might be stretching it just a bit). This is one of the super easy dishes that sounds much harder than it is. And it looks fancy, so people think you put a lot of work into it - the perfect kind of recipe!

Oh, wait. Is there a holiday weekend coming up that typically involves a lot of cooking of foods where you want people to think you've been slaving over a hot stove? Why yes, I do believe there is. Perfect again.

Spinach Souffle

1/2 c fresh grated Parmeasan cheese
2 10oz boxes chopped spinach, thawed
3 T butter
3 T flour
1/2 c finely chopped onion
1 c cream
1/2 c spinach juice (reserved from when draining the frozen spinach)
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t nutmeg, fresh grated
1 1/2 c mix of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses
4 eggs

Grease a medium to large baking bowl (a la my ceramic souffle dish). Use the fresh grated cheese to line the greased bowl like you'd flour a cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook and drain the spinach, saving the juice. Melt the butter into a saucepan, and saute the onions in the butter. Add the flour, and stir while cooking for 2-3 minutes.

Add the spinach and onion mixture to a large bowl and gently stir.

In a separate bowl, beat the four eggs.

Add the cream, spinach juice, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cheeses, and eggs to the large bowl and fold to combine.

Place the mixture into a baking dish. Place the baking dish into a pan of water. Cook for 40 minutes, checking carefully after 30 minutes.

Enjoy this and more with Blessed with Grace and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Holiday Creep

Do you have or know a little girl? There's a brand new line of dolls out there, and I'm giving one away with my Hot Locks giveaway!

There is also an almost brand new giveaway for probiotics here.

Odds are really good... quick, go enter and I promise to wait for you.


It's GingerBunnybread time, again! Yes, after the fun we had making gingerbread houses this winter, we decided to decorate houses again.

With Easter coming up, we found a neat one at Aldi (our Aldi still had some this weekend left if you want to go for this fun treat, too). Mister Man spotted it when we went grocery shopping last week, and we both agreed that it had to come home with us.

So what do you think? This was our house.

Wellll... at least this was how the house was supposed to look. On the box.

It went together fairly quickly, with no major issues. Once the construction was complete, the wee ones were ready to decorate. And notice the balls on top of the roof. Go back and look at the picture above again. Yep, my special little boy made sure we had them in the exact correct color order. It was a big deal.

They did a lot of decorating, and they were completely in charge of deciding what would go where and how to divide the candy amongst themselves. Well, once I kicked my husband out of the kitchen after he kept pointing to the picture and insisting they try to follow that exactly. They actually did a pretty good job of sharing.

Mister Man kept asking me to make it look exactly like the house on the box with the piping. However, without moving the premade icing to professional bags with professional tips, there was no way that the icing was going to come out looking that way. He was awfully impressed that I made the heart on the door just like in the picture, even though I explained that there was no way I could then outline said heart.

Their house looked somewhat like the box when they decided they were finished. They were very proud of themselves.

However, as time started to pass, I was reminded of the lesson we learned when making our gingerbread houses at Christmastime. Do the decorating first, then build because the premade icing slides. Ehhhh, now the window in the front of hte house just looks like a door - or so Mister Man says.

Do you like how the bunnies are playing soccer with their multiple multi-colored balls? Yep, these bunnies play soccer.

When they woke up from their naps, they decided they wanted to do some more decorating, so back to work they went.

At this point, Mister Man decided he could do the icing on his own, so I let him have at it. He actually did a pretty good job, too.

This time, they wanted to be sure they were in the picture, as proof of the good job they did making their house.

And really, I think they did a pretty decent job with it, don't you? At the very least, we had a very pleasant afternoon that we spent together figuring things out and working together.

And what's a house without landscape lighting anymore? This is an upscale bunny house!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Little Stinker!

Do you have or know a little girl? There's a brand new line of dolls out there, and I'm giving one away with my Hot Locks giveaway!

There is also a brand new giveaway for probiotics here.


This afternoon, Little Miss called out to me from the other room, with a huge smile on her face.

Mommy! I love you.

That was it. Just that simple statement that she periodically throws out there to me. It makes me smile every time, and I responded as I frequently do.

Do you know what, Peanut?

You love me, too, Mommy! comes the delighted shout from the other room. She loves playing this game, and who can blame her?

You know it! I'll always love you no matter what, forever and ever.

She went happily back to her play, and my husband at this point poked his head up, indignant that he hadn't been included in the declarations of love.

Well, what about me, Little Miss? he inquired.


That was her only - and somewhat enthusiastic - response, as she'd already gone back to playing. I giggled. Or possibly belly laughed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Getting Old(ER) Isn't All Bad

Do you have or know a little girl? There's a brand new line of dolls out there, and I'm giving one away with my Hot Locks giveaway!


First off, I'd like to remind everyone that I'm not actually OLD. I'm only 34 (yes, I had to do the math), and the wee ones haven't learned ages and counting well enough to determine that I'm ancient yet. We'll forget what I thought about 34 when I was 17 and imagined what it would be like to feel like such an old lady when I was twice as old as I was then.

However, I will admit that there are certain benefits to the very slow and slight bit of aging that I've done so far. We don't think about them too often, but every once in awhile, we need to remind ourselves and celebrate what we've accomplished.

My Top Ten Things I Like About Being A (VERY) Little Older:

10) I don't have to study for tests anymore. While I know this isn't the case for everyone, I'm finished with school. I don't have any more pop quizzes, any more studying textbooks and taking notes and praying that I'm studying the right thing. No more staying up all night panicking that I'm not retaining the information and that the test the next day is going to be a disaster. As much as I enjoyed school, I'm really glad that I'm done with the exams and tests.

9) Acne is a thing of the past. That isn't to say that I don't have a bit of a breakout every now and again, but they're becoming more and more infrequent. And even when they occur, they're nothing like the daily horrors that I experienced as a teen - that of course I blew way out of proportion. There's no agonizing or freaking out even when they do occur, since I know they'll be gone soon.

8) I care less and less what the general public thinks of me. And I don't mean this in a negative way where I do things selfishly and in a who-cares-about-the-rest-of-the-world way. I mean that I'm more comfortable in my skin. I'm not embarrassed to have forgotten something and have to go back for it. I'm ok if I make a mistake or do something silly. I can make a fool of myself doing something I enjoy and not care because it brings me joy. And learning to do that is probably one of the things I'm most proud about doing.

7) My schedule is (more) my own. While I can't control everything, I choose what I will and won't be involved in more so than when I was younger. I choose my priorities, for the most part. And I can negotiate with others, when necessary, to help carry my load. For example, a friend of mine with a broken foot called me today asking if I could help get her somewhere. I was able to have my husband take the wee ones to a prior commitment and help her out. And those are the things that make me happy.

6) I don't need more friends. Do you remember high school (and beyond, sometimes) when there was the big worry about who was popular and who wasn't, who your friends were and how to get more or different friends. Now? I like my friends. I welcome new friends, but I'm perfectly fine with who my friends are. I'm content with them, and that's a really great feeling.

5) I can deal with confrontation better. I've never liked confrontation. I don't like it now, either, but I can deal with it. It doesn't give me the anxiety that it used to. I can see it for the constructive values that it has and not take it personally when it's directed at me. I don't dread those phone calls that I should make requesting change or telling someone or something that they didn't do a good enough job for what I need. Oh, and I can tell my mom things aren't ok when they aren't rather than swallowing it and resenting her. I can do it - in a respectful manner - and it works out. That adds so much more peace to my life.

4) I see the beauty more. When younger, I followed what I was taught - that there are certain standards of beauty in people and nature. I was afraid of many things that didn't conform to that standard, and I avoided many of them. Not the proudest moments in my life, I'll admit. And now? Now I see the beauty in the unique and the different. I can admire it for what it adds to life and enjoy it. I've experienced and seen things and met and become friends with people I wouldn't have otherwise, and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

3) I'm learning to say no. My mom raised me to be a perfectionist and to be almost a martyr, taking on anything and everything that people asked in the effort to please other people. While I enjoy doing things now for the sake of doing them, I don't always have to say yes. I said no to being on the board of a local charity that was being formed because I didn't have the time. I said no to a choir practice when I needed a break. I said no to working on the gala at my new school because I'm burned out from those kinds of fund raising. And you know what? It feels good to pick and choose what I want to do rather than trying to do it all.

2) My memory bank is getting more and more full of wonderful moments. I love looking back at something in my life and smiling. I remember the last minute trip I took to Germany to visit a friend of mine shortly after college, and while I mentally shake my head at myself, I remember the fun of exploring a small town in Germany where I was the only person who spoke English (and I don't know German) and accidentally discovering a really cool taxidermy museum. I think about the clubs I formed as a kid - the Moss Garden Kids Club and the Junkyard Kid Gang to name two - and giggle about our activities and dues and notes we took. I look back to the days the wee ones were born, to the first time I drove a car, to the ski trip in college, to my disaster making flan the first time, and they all give me warm fuzzies inside. Every year and every day brings me more memories to treasure. And I'm now wise enough to hold them close to my heart.

1) I know what I don't know. When I was younger, I thought I knew it all. I suspect that many of us fall into the same camp. I was full of myself, but I was also secretly hiding that I didn't know it all for fear that someone might think less of me for not knowing something. Now? I know what I don't know, and I am perfectly ok with asking for help when I need it. Having a real sense of what I do and don't know means that I actually make fewer mistakes because I make fewer wrong assumptions. It's removed so much stress from my life.

So what do you like about the ever so slow and subtle aging process? What positive changes have you discovered?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yet Another Idea I Missed Out On

Do you have or know a little girl? There's a brand new line of dolls out there, and I'm giving one away with my Hot Locks giveaway!


We're on spring break up by me. And the wee ones are finally at an age where the other parents are arranging massive playdates at local hangouts to get together. There were two scheduled for today.

Today, when I have a six hour doctor's appointment for Mister Man to finish up his developmental testing. Both started at 10am, which was one hour into our appointment. I left a message with one person that I'd give her a call as we left just in case they were still there.

Just before 3:30, I gave her a call. It was really hard to hear her with all the background noise, but I did catch the - Yes, we're really still here! And so we decided to go.

It was at an indoor playground that I'd seen open a few months ago and been curious about. I had first heard about an indoor playground from a friend of mine who had a friend investigating the concept. I somewhat pooh-pooh'ed it. Then I saw this one being built next to a store I frequent. It didn't look like much, but it promised healthy food and wi-fi for parents.

Then I went to ask them for a donation for our fundraiser, and I saw what they had. One wall was a two story jungle gym, with all sorts of different equipment to interest any child, including a separate area for babies. Parents could see their children from any spot in the playground, and there were plenty of tables and couches. I was intrigued.

I was even more intrigued when I heard that my friends were still there over five hours into their playdate. I asked Mister Man, and he was game, so we headed to join them.

When we walked in the door, Mister Man very excitedly told me where he was going to be sure that I saw him. He waited for me, but quite politely asked the worker where his coat and shoes went to ensure they were properly taken care of. (Really, is this my socially adept son? Cool!)

And then he went to play. I was hoping to stick around for close to two hours to get my money's worth. I wasn't sure if he'd last more than an hour before I started having to beg him to try it just a little longer.

And that's so not how it went. He went and played. He was all over the playground. He came back sweaty and looking for water. He went off to play again. He played with first graders from his school. He made new friends. He had three girls chasing him around.

Granted, he did come to me a few times with issues - once after running into the corner of a table with his hip (ouch!) and a couple times with small run-ins with other children. But he kept going back. He didn't let the little things ruin his day as he frequently does. It was simply too much fun.

And he was negotiating playing a Star Wars game of some sort when I told him it was truly time to leave. At almost 7pm, three plus hours after we arrived. He could have stayed longer, but he very politely put on his coat and shoes and waited near the exit. (Seriously, who took my child, and what did they do with him?)

The whole ride home, all he could do was talk about the really cool playground and how he wanted to go back again. And how he wanted to take Little Miss with him to show her. And the games he played.

Me? I rather enjoyed talking to my mom friends. One had brought her laptop and was enjoying the wi-fi. Having stayed over lunch, they all checked out the menu and agreed that the food was pretty decent. There were breakfast sandwiches for under $3. Quesadillas, pu-pu platters (kid friendly), real macaroni and cheese, and more. And knowing how allergic so many children are, it's absolutely a nut free zone. Did I mention the free refills on the drinks?

It was well worth the $10 admission for me. And I'm really kicking myself. We live in Chicago. Our weather is ... unpredictable. We long for healthy things to do with our children. Why on earth didn't I come up with this idea first?

Or at least I could have invented the Ped Egg. Or something!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Should Have Been More Clear...

Becoming a parent isn't always what we signed up for or what we expected. There's something new nearly every day, and so much of it is unexpected - some unwanted and some neat surprises.

No one ever asked me if it was ok to wake up at 6am. However, the wee ones periodically decide that they've slept enough and it's time to have romper room in one bedroom or the other - that is very audible in my bedroom where I have a deep and desperate need for sleep at that hour. I always heard about how life with newborns was hard because they didn't sleep through the night. I was prepared for that. I wasn't prepared to still not get full nights of sleep when they were this far out of diapers.

No one ever asked me if I wanted to ingest chemicals day in and day out. However, Mister Man went shopping with me today to buy a few simple things: crackers, applesauce, bread, and yogurt among them. Mister Man was excited to spot the bread first, but I told him we couldn't buy it at this store and had to go elsewhere because it all contained high fructose corn syrup (have you seen the studies showing that it contains mercury, among other health issues?). He didn't believe me, but sadly he looked at ingredient list after ingredient list and replaced the brands. We did find wheat crackers with four ingredients that we could buy. And we found some plain yogurt to which we'll add our own flavorings that avoided nasty chemicals we don't eat, but we bought no applesauce today because it all contained HFCS.

No one ever asked me if I wanted grey hair. And I don't. I really don't. Grey hair on women just makes them look older. It's not fair that we don't get to look distinguished. And my mom makes fun of me. And that nice little coloring job I did to make the bright red hair (that has since faded, thankfully) the other week? Yeah, those four silver hairs in the crown of my head decided that they liked their color and didn't absorb the dye. Give me another couple years, and you can probably just call me Granny.

No one ever asked me how much garbage I throw away on a given week. Our garbage company provides me with a 96 gallon garbage tote, however. The recycling bin is a mere 64 gallons. In general, we have a single garbage bag (and occasionally two) that goes into that massive bin each week. Our recycling bin overflows on a semi-regular basis - partly due to the large cardboard boxes from Costco that we use as grocery bags. I have to wonder how many people really throw away 96 gallons of trash each week, and then my head hurts when I start to picture the full landfills.

No one ever asked me if I wanted a kid who was different from all the others. But yet here I have Mister Man who is the sweetest little guy you could ever ask for. He still doesn't have a diagnosis, but this is likely short term, as tomorrow is day two of our nine hours of testing and evaluation by a developmental pediatrician. From the two hour meeting with me this afternoon, it sounds like they suspect at least some level of autism, which is no great shock for me. My heart breaks when I see him struggle with things that should be so easy for him - socially and behaviorally. But then I see how protective he is of those he cares about, and I know that I wouldn't trade being a special needs mom for anything.

No one ever asked me if I wanted to share in their lottery winnings. And I'm still trying to figure out why that is....

What question have people neglected to ask you?

PS If you know a little girl, you need to come enter this contest. Even I'm having fun playing with the doll we got. So don't forget about the Hot Locks giveaway!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So THAT'S Who Those Warning Labels Are For

With Mister Man now in kindergarten - and more socially aware - he's started to notice that what we feed him is far more restrictive than what other children are allowed to eat. He understands that we don't eat HFCS, trans fats, and other such fake foods, but it's still very hard for him to deal with not getting those treats sometimes.

In our latest trip to Costco, I discovered (or rather - THEY discovered, my little label readers) a product that is a "treat" similar to what many other kids have on a regular basis that I can - not quite feel good about - but be ok with giving them.

And so I bought the Simply Fruit from Fruit Roll-Ups. They're essentially just fruit juice and fruit puree, dried. And the wee ones were thrilled. They wanted to try them immediately, but we held off until after dinner. Then they wanted to share them with Grandma. Since we were going to see her the next day on our way to a birthday party, I packed some in my purse to show her.

On the drive to the birthday party (the very looooooong drive - we were in the car for longer than we were at the party, boo), the wee ones excitedly told Grandma all about them. They decided what flavor they were going to try, and they asked me to pass back their packages.

As I was helping Little Miss open her package, I noticed some writing on the wrapper, "PEEL FROM CELLOPHANE BACKING BEFORE EATING." (Yes, it was in all caps.) I giggled a little, and I showed my mom.

We then had a nice long conversation about how companies have to put the most ridiculous warnings on products nowadays because of the silly (and sue happy) people out there. I won't recap it, as I'm sure you've all had this conversation yourselves at one point or another.

Fast forward to our trip home.

The wee ones insisted that my mom try one of the Simply Fruits, and she decided on the Wildberry flavor. Since she was able to open hers by herself, I passed it back to her and thought no more.

A mere moment later, I heard an indignant, "Hey! Mine has a paper on it. How am I supposed to eat this?!

And yes, sadly, she was serious. She thought the cellophane referred to the outer wrapper. Fortunately, the wee ones were able to show her how it worked.

PS Don't forget about the Hot Locks giveaway!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Baked Potato Soup - Tasty Tuesday!

I did a lot of cooking last week. A lot. In addition to making regular meals for my family, I was also in charge of bringing lunch for twenty-five people at my local school district for our twice monthly meeting with the PTO presidents. That's a lot of food.

Since it was St. Patrick's Day on Wednesday, I decided that whatever I made had to fit the theme. Corned beef was out, since so many people are anti-corned beef - oh and the smell in a small room for two hours? Yeah, that killed it, too. I was going to do baked potatoes (Irish potato famine, anyone?) with all sorts of toppings and chili. Until the person at the last meeting brought in chili with all the toppings. Ugh.

I wracked my brains and finally came up with something. I made the Irish soda bread I mentioned last week, along with homemade whole wheat baguettes. I did a quick spinach salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Oh, and I made a baked potato soup.

I started making all of the above at 7am the day of the lunch. I had to be out of the house for an event at school at 10am. Start doing the math. Yikes! The soup was great. The second day. Cooking for two hours the day of the event? Well, it was decent, but it's possible that the potatoes were a little crunchy. Oops. Needless to say, I changed a few things around to account for my little mistake, and the soup - all two huge crockpots of it - has been gone for three days now.

I served it with a couple garnishes - fresh parsley, shredded cheddar, and crumbled bacon. The unexpected winner of the garnishes? The parsley made the best addition of all of them. If you're making this soup, make sure you put parsley on when you serve it!

Oh, and my other lesson? When traveling with two very full crock pots, use Saran Wrap, not masking tape. Those fill lines on your crock pot are there for a reason. My poor car.

Baked Potato Soup

3 bacon strips, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
4 c chicken broth
1 baked baking potato, cubed
2-3 baked red potatoes, cubed
1 t basil, dried
1 c half and half
1/2 t Tabasco (or other hot sauce)
1 c shredded cheddar
1/2 c fresh parsley, minced

Bake your potatoes, and cube them. Note that the red potatoes will cook faster than the baking potatoes (you want the baking potatoes for their added starch to thicken the soup).

In a large saucepan (I used my Le Creuset bouillabase pan to make the whole thing), cook bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside. Keep 1 tablespoon bacon drippings, and dispose of the remainder.

Saute onion and garlic in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour slowly and mix well to ensure it doesn't clump. Add the salt, basil and pepper; mix well. Cook for 3 minutes to get the raw taste out of the flour.

Gradually add broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the potatoes, cream and hot pepper sauce; heat through but do not boil.

You can also make this without baking the potatoes first. In that case, you'll want to take the boiled broth to a crock pot. Add the remaining ingredients as directed, and cook on low for 10 or more hours. It really is better the next day!

Garnish with bacon, cheese, and parsley. With all the soup I made, you'd think that I had a picture. Nope. I didn't take a one. It was so good I only remembered to take one after half the bowl was gone.

And yes, as always - go check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed with Grace!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I Learned My Lesson

As parents, we should be the ones teaching the lessons, especially when the children are small and impressionable. It shouldn't fall on the children to be the ones to remind us of the lessons that we're trying to teach. It doesn't always work out that way though.

Yesterday at breakfast, I got the wee ones' food ready, I gave them their vitamins, and I left my husband supervising while I ran downstairs to wrap a present for a birthday party we had later in the day.

Shortly after I got down the stairs, I heard mild cussing by my husband followed by "I knew this was going to happen. I could see it coming!" in a not so happy voice.

I trotted back upstairs, prepared to intervene and do damage control. I found him mopping up milk from Little Miss's placemat. He had placed her heavy spoon on the edge of the cereal bowl, and it had tumped over.

The issue here (for me) is that Little Miss has a dairy allergy. Therefore, she drinks rice milk instead of regular milk ($1.88 per regular gallon versus $2.99 for a quart). And since she can't have many foods with calcium, she takes a liquid calcium/magnesium supplement to ensure she absorbs her calcium (since she's too little for a pill, she gets it in liquid form). The vitamin that lasts us a little over a month is $23.95. She loves the blueberry taste and begs me to put it in her rice milk. I obliged yesterday morning, even though I was sure she wasn't going to finish all her cereal and milk, but yet I couldn't waste the vitamin.

Since the milk had spilled only on her just cleaned placemat, had I been in charge, I would have carefully returned the spilled milk to her cereal bowl. With my husband mopping it up, I had no idea how much she had or hadn't taken, making it difficult to redose her. Plus the wasting of money.


I asked my husband to stop sopping it up and explained - not the most patiently, mind you - the issue. He just didn't care a whit, as he doesn't get the whole vitamin thing anyway. And replacing something wasted? It's just money after all - yes, he came from a very different background from what I did.

I groaned, told him I didn't care what he did and went back into the basement to finish wrapping the present. A minute or so later, Mister Man appeared on the stairs.

Look, Mommy.

What's this, Mister Man?

It's money.

Yes, kiddo. I can see it's a twenty dollar bill. What are you doing with it?

I want to give it to you so Little Miss can get some more vitamins. (And yes , just typing this is making me tear up again.)

Oh, sweetie! That's really generous of you, but you keep your money.

But Mommy, they're expensive. You said so. Do you have twenty dollars?

I do. I have a lot more than twenty dollars. You keep your money, Mister Man. I love how generous you are, but your money is yours.

I sent him back upstairs, and then I sat down on the steps a little and cried. He can be such a sweetheart and so generous and so worried about and protective of his sister. And sometimes I can really make a big deal about things that are so minor.

I'm so glad that he reminded me of this. After I was done, I was able to go back upstairs and change the tone so that everyone understood - especially the wee ones - that Mommy doesn't like wasting things, especially expensive things, but that there are so many things in the world that are far more important.

And then we talked about the things that are more important. As my six year old son reminded me.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Real Definition

We've all heard of bi-polar people. I always thought it was simply because of the extreme up and downs and some expert somewhere decided that poles were as oppposite as you could get, so bi-polar it was.

Nope, not really.

Bi-polar came about because of Chicago weather. We always joke that you can have all four seasons in a single day, but really that's a joke. It doesn't really happen.

Right now, I'm not laughing. Today is the first day of spring. The past few days have been wonderful. I've gone outside without a coat. The wee ones have been using their spring coats. My dear friend the sun has been showing his face, and it has been glorious.

Today? Not so much. We are going from one pole to the other here - winter spring winter - and I can only hope that our bi-polar trip finds some equillibrium soon and bring me back my precious spring.

This morning when I woke up:

This afternoon, with the snow not yet letting up:

C'mon. I want my spring back. Enough with the joke. It's just cruel after a long, cold, dreary winter.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Why I Love My Children

Little Miss and I were baking in the kitchen the other day when she turned to me to have a little conversation with me. It took me awhile to follow where she was going, but my heart melted once I realized the way she was thinking.

As background, I've been doing a lot of baking lately for a variety of reasons - Irish soda bread for a meeting, brownies for a ladies night, banana bread just because, etc. Most of the time, the end results were meant for outside my family, so I didn't generally attempt to make them dairy free.

Mommy, it isn't fair if everything is always for me.

You're right, Peanut. Everyone deserves a turn - yep, totally unsure about where she's going with this.

I don't get to always have everything. Sometimes it's other people's turns. She turned and fixed me with a very serious look.

Why yes, sometimes it's your turn and sometimes it's someone else's. Now I'm preparing for an admission about something bad that happened in preschool.

It wouldn't be right if we only ever made things for me. Some of the things we make we want other people to eat, and so it's ok that we make lots of things that have dairy that I can't eat. It isn't always my turn to get what I want.

Oh! You're right, it isn't always your turn, but next time we make something, I promise I'm making it just for you!

What a little sweetie! Now if I could just get a few adults I know to have the same lightbulb moment.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This Is Not A Setup

I haven't been around much this week. It's our school's book fair, and of the thirty total hours we need volunteers (geeky me, yes I calculated it at about 5am this morning), I'm there for fourteen of them. Plus Little Miss had a parent/child activity at school. And Mister Man has his language group. And I had a President's Council meeting today for two plus hours, for which I also provided lunch for twenty-five. Why does everything always happen in the same week?

Shockingly, that isn't the point of the post, as everyone is busy - this isn't exactly earth shattering news. However, because I haven't been home and my husband has been gone because he has conferences at his school, my mom graciously agreed to watch the wee ones after school today and tomorrow, including feeding them dinner and putting them to bed.

I happened to have an hour free between the presidents' council and my shift at the book fair, so I headed home to do some quick cleaning of my disaster of a kitchen (try making four loaves of bread, Irish soda bread, baked potato soup and homemade dressing for a salad in about three hours and see what your kitchen looks like at the end of it!).

As I was putting away some things in the fridge, I noticed that my mom brought dinner for the wee ones. Because apparently she didn't trust me to have food for them. Yep, me who loves to cook and bake has no food in the house for the wee ones to eat. My mother, who I've mentioned previously does not like food and never really cooked when I was growing up, instead made and brought dinner.

This is what I discovered:

I'm pretty sure that I'd mentioned at some point that my mom used to make up a pound of spaghetti and leave it in a Ziploc bag for us to eat when we got hungry. Yep, the tradition is carried on. I wasn't joking when I said my mom did that.

Although I will admit that we didn't get the extra protein from the turkey bacon that she included for the wee ones. This gets placed on a paper towel and stuck in the microwave to cook.

I was mildly jealous that they got that extra treat. Then I noticed something. My mom always made spaghetti for us. The wee ones get special shaped pasta with cool textures. Yep, they're definitely getting spoiled.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You Learn Something New Every Day

In the past few days, I've been learning lots of new things. Did you know that Almond Joy and Mound now use a Jamaican theme to sell their candy? Red Robin is now selling a really awesome looking burger with fried onions and other yummy toppings. And the movies that are coming out in the near future? Yeah, I'm probably not going to see a single one. The Toyota commercials with new customers touting how they still bought their cars even after the recent recall issues make me giggle, though.

Why do I know all this?

Wellll, on Friday, I sat down after the wee ones were in bed and turned on the tv for the first time all week. Funny - you'd think with me being off work I'd have more time to watch tv and get caught up on my computer, but oddly the reverse is true.

I immediately flipped over to the saved shows on my DVR and started to watch one from a couple weeks ago that I hadn't yet seen. Oddly, it had no volume. I sighed, as this sometimes happens where the volume goes out for awhile but then comes back partway through. No dice. I tried another one. Same thing.

Then I noticed that my husband had stopped the recording of one of my favorite shows earlier in the week so that only a single minute recorded. I sighed and decided to watch at least that one minute. Annnnnnd nothing. I received the error message "Sorry, no video data detected. Show not recorded."


I began looking at other shows, and they all had the same volume problem. I noticed other shows that had taped in the past week that also recorded only for one minute. Even shows that I had watched previously with no issues and saved no longer had volume.

I tried watching just the regular tv, but it wouldn't change to television and instead kept playing the silent recorded show. Worried, I flipped over to straight cable instead of the DVR feed, fearing that all tv was gone. Nope, that still works.

I went through my usual fixes of turning off the DVR and resetting it. I reset the cable modem. I reaffixed the little laser DVR readers to the cable box. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

My DVR has died.

I've lost three weeks of LOST now, two weeks of Grey's and Private Practice and other shows that I won't quite admit to - the last two were revelation enough. And nothing else can record until this gets fixed.

Our DVR is a Replay TV that offerd a lifetime subscription. I think we hit its lifetime (granted it's over seven years old and my husband has been begging me to replace it for years with a model that allows you to record one show and watch another and does so in HD).

We kept it all this time, however, as I had no interest in paying an extra $15 for cable for something I was essentially getting for free. I knew it couldn't last forever, but I didn't think it would just go like this.

Since Friday, if I wanted to watch something, I had to be home to watch it, and I had to watch it commercials and all. I couldn't rewind and rewatch something particularly interesting or something I missed. I couldn't pause to read details on the screen that are too quick to catch when watching live tv.

And I haven't been home much. I miss my shows. That's sad to admit, isn't it?

How did we live without DVRs again? What technology is now a required one in your life?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Irish Soda Bread - Tasty Tuesday!

This week, I had a plan for what I was going to put up on Tasty Tuesday. It's my week to bring in lunch for everyone at the bi-weekly PTO president meeting in my district. And hey, it's St. Patrick's Day on Wednesday, so making something Irish was an easy choice.

Not so easy? Figuring out what to bring for 25 or so people that's Irish but isn't something that half the people won't like. Thus, corned beef was out. And lamb stew. I was going to do baked potatoes with a variety of toppings, including chili, until that was done last meeting.


Then I found inspiration (literally). While cleaning off my book shelf to make more room for the wee ones' books, I discovered that I have a traditional Irish recipes cookbook. I eagerly leafed through it. And then I decided that I was bringing in the cookbook just to show everyone how lucky they are that I didn't bring in any of those items.

I was back to the drawing board and drawing a blank. I finally decided to make a potato soup (still deciding what recipe to use, if you have a suggestion), fresh bread, scones, and Irish soda bread. Wa-la. Hopefully that's enough food to make everyone happy.

The Irish soda bread I make is the same one that my mom makes that her mom made that she got from her husband's family who came from Ireland. That being said, I have a feeling it isn't the most traditional Irish soda bread, but it's ours and it's yummy.

You'll notice in the picture that the bread has butter on it. Odd, I know, but this is something my family does. While I rarely put butter on regular bread, my family has taught me to put butter on other bread-like products that definitely don't need any additional fat or calories - coffee cakes, muffins, cinnamon rolls, and the like. Go fig. It's what we do. And the butter on the Irish soda bread is pretty yummy.

Irish Soda Bread

5 c flour
1 c sugar
1 T baking powder
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 c butter
2 1/2 c seedless raisins
2 1/2 c buttermilk
1 egg

Grease two large loaf pans. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter until pea sized chunks appear. Add the raisins and stir to distribute.

In a liquid measuring cup, add the egg to the buttermilk and whisk gently until the egg is lightly beaten and no goopy strands remain. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients, and stir gently until just combined.

Turn into the two loaf pans, and cut across the top lengthwise. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Butter the top when it comes out of the oven. Lay on one side for a few minutes, then lay on the opposite side for a few minutes. After both sides, remove from the pan and continue cooling on a wire rack.

Enjoy warm or room temperature. This will keep for a few days but is best within the first two days. And yes, butter makes it better!

For this and more, go visit Blessed With Grace and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

That'll Teach Me To Listen To My Mother

A couple weeks ago, as I was about to walk out the door to go to work, my mom looked at me (and keep in mind, this is at 6:15am and I am not a morning person) and said, "Wow, you're really getting grey!"

Yep, just what you want to hear from your mother first thing in the morning. Now I will admit that I've never been one to color my hair. To be honest, it just seems like so much maintenance and time that I don't have. My mom, on the other hand, has been coloring her hair forever and doesn't actually know the true color of her hair anymore.

That little comment stuck with me. And now that I have a little more time on my hands since I'm staying home for a bit, I decided to do something about it. It could be fun to color my hair and have a little bit different look for a bit.

Having never done this before, I decided to find one that is not a permanent color. The last thing I want to do is have a disaster on my hand until my hair grows out. I looked around, and I was shocked at how hard it was to find non-permanent hair coloring. But I was persistent, and I found some that claims to last for a month.

The hard part was finding a color. I didn't want to go blonde. Or black. Or red. Or really anything with a major difference. I wanted to find something that had a little bit of a hint of color and highlight more than what mine does naturally these days. I finally settled on one that was a mild auburn. It was fairly close to my natural color but a bit brighter.

I read all the instructions and followed the preparations. As I poured the color from bottle one into bottle two, I was reassured that it was a lovely brown color. I put on the gloves and shook. I was supposed to shake until it was thickened, but who knows how long that takes. I kept shaking and shaking and finally decided that had to be long enough.

On went the dye, and I somehow managed to not get it on anything other than my hair. I consider that to be a minor miracle. I set the timer for eight minutes, figuring that it had taken me a minute or two to apply everything, and I was to leave it on for ten minutes.

Once I heard that magical beep, I began to rinse. I added the small amount of water to my hair and worked it into a lather. Next step was to rinse until the water ran clear. Yep, that's when I realized we might have a problem.

You see, the water was running purple. And I don't mean mostly brown with a little color, I mean full on Northwestern purple with a hint of red. My first instinct was to hyperventilate, but I managed to hold that back. As much as I love purple - and yes, it's my favorite color - having purple hair wasn't really what I was going for.

Every splatter against the shower walls freaked me out more, and I quickly used the gloves to wipe away those traces - because if I can't see them, it didn't happen, right? The water finally ran clean, much later than I thought it should have.

I cautiously peeked at my wet hair, and it appeared to be much the same as it was before. Of course any dark hair that's wet looks the same, but hey - it made me feel better.

Then I looked at the gloves I'd been using first to apply and then to rinse my hair. That's when I actually did start hyperventilating.

This doesn't do a good job of showing how truly red the gloves were (I so need a good camera!), but this doesn't look like the brown with a bit of a brighter hint that the package had promised, does it?

As I dried my hair, the sunlight streaming into the window showed me exactly what I had on my hands, errr my head. It was a gorgeous color. For Sharon Osbourne. In fact, I think this might well actually be her color.

Ironically, I heard my mom come into my house at this point, as she wanted to take Little Miss to gymnastics. I walked downstairs, and she started laughing. This is not a good sign. Once she recovered, she asked whether I was trying to go that red. Umm no.

Once Little Miss got off the bus, we moved into the kitchen, where I had the blinds closed. The good news? When I'm not in the sun, it doesn't look nearly so red. In fact, it's actually a decent color. I'm working on staying inside in bad lighting for the next month.

See? It's cloudy and rainy and yucky right now, so the red isn't coming out very well but you at least get the idea. Sorta. I should really know better, shouldn't I?

The friends I've seen in the intervening two days have yet to comment at all on my color change. And you know what that means - if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all as my mommy taught me.

Twenty-seven more hair washes, and I'll be back to normal. I hope. Apparently my virgin hair really liked the dye, so I'm hoping this doesn't mean it will last longer for me, too. In the meantime, does anyone have a cute hat I can borrow?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bring On The Bubonic Plague

This Easter is shaping up to be a fun one for me.

My husband has tickets to the first game at Target Field (the brand new home of the Twins) for their exhibition against the Cardinals, which is my husband's favorite team. He mentioned that he had these tickets and that we were going to go, along with a friend of his from St. Louis.

He neglected to mention that he didn't have tickets for the wee ones (although with a night game on Friday, that would be a trick anyway). And he neglected to mention that this was Easter weekend. Once I found out those two facts, I started hemming and hawing - and we love our baseball (and football and hockey) around here, especially in person.

Easter is a holiday weekend. It's for families. The wee ones want the Easter Bunny to bring their baskets, and I want to be with them to celebrate. We sort of agreed that we'd drive up sans children on Friday and then drive home Saturday immediately following the game. That's a lot more driving than I want to do, but it worked.

Then we got The Call.

In February, my husband's younger brother announced he was getting married. Considering that he's eleven years younger than my husband and had already been engaged once and had it broken off, forgetting the fact that he's made a lot of life choices that I certainly hope the wee ones never do, we didn't put too much stock into it.

Then we heard that they were planning to get married quickly (and no, not for that reason). They didn't have a date, but considering that my husband coaches in the spring and is either at or hosting tournaments most weekends in spring, he was fearful of what the date would be.

We finally heard from my MIL that the date did not coincide with any coaching commitments. Not only did it not coincide with any of the coaching dates, but we weren't invited to the wedding. No one was. They were getting married in Vegas and then holding a reception later.

The reception? Yeah... the Saturday night before Easter. Good-bye first Twins game. Oh, and the reception is going to be held about forty miles east of where my in-laws live.

Now we have a problem:

There is a reception that starts at the wee ones' bedtime in a city where we have no childcare on the night before Easter. The wee ones are invited to the reception, but I am sure there will be behavior there that I just don't want them exposed to.

The only good news? My husband got it and agreed with me one hundred percent.

But how do you say that you aren't going to your brother-in-law's wedding because it just doesn't work with your schedule? That just isn't going to fly.

My husband's aunt offered to let us use her babysitter for the evening. Buuuuut someone I've never met watching the wee ones in a city they don't know well while we are almost an hour away just doesn't quite sit well with either of us.

So we noodled and noodled on it. (Fortunately, the reception invitation hadn't come while we were thinking.) My husband finally suggested that I might become deathly ill on the Thursday before the reception, which would preclude me from coming. And maybe the wee ones will start to come down with it, too. (Sadly, you can see the impact of how we was brought up in the fact that missing Easter with the wee ones doesn't seem to faze him.)

And now I'm the bad sister-in-law hoping that I get sick. Or rather, planning to get sick. Then again, my husband didn't sell his baseball tickets for the weekend until we got the text last night from Vegas from his brother in law stating that "The deed is done."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'm Becoming Me Again

Today: ran, read, wrote.
Frequently doing my choice,
at home, loving it.

The wee ones are fed.
We play and have fun and work,
getting used to Mom.

Commitments are met;
my inbox unread are down.
Piles are decreasing.

I went out to eat.
I feel like I have friends again.
Next: Mani pedi?

I'm into Week Two of my leave of absence, and I can't believe how quickly the time is flying by. While I'm not getting nearly done what I thought I would (outgrown clothes are still unsorted, I haven't packed the eggs for the Easter Egg Hunt, and my filing hasn't been touched), I've been cooking dinner each night and playing with the wee ones, getting to the gym, feeling mostly caught up with the PTO, and I think I'm less crabby.

May 24 is coming up really quickly. Here's hoping I'm ready for it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

*This* Is Not My Child

Little Miss still naps. Yay! Most of the time, she actually sleeps, but there are times when I have to head upstairs during naptime to figure out what she's doing up there. I've yet to fully decipher the bangs and what the differnt kinds mean.

Yesterday, I was hearing noises that I was pretty sure meant Little Miss was jumping on her bed, which is a no-no in regular times (her bed isn't built to withstand that) and definitely verboten during naptime. I sighed and headed upstairs.

I found her laying atop her bed bouncing slightly, and whining.

Hey, Peanut, what's the problem with sleeping here?

I'm cold!

Well, of course you're cold. Climb back under your covers, silly girl.

And then the crying ensued. Seriously, this girl needs to pursue a career in drama. She has got the crocodile tears thing down pat. Ohhh the horrors of childhood in my house.

I finally got her calmed down enough to tell me what the problem is. But, Moooooooooooom, if I get under the covers, then the bed will get all messed up again!

Oh. Huh. Well, yeah, now that she mentions it, I notice that her bed is rather ... organized. Her blankets are folded, and I don't remember having done that in the past few days. Hmmm.

The truth finally comes out. Little Miss made her bed this morning, unbeknownst to me. When I put her down for her nap, I not only put her under her covers, but I also "ruined" the blankets by covering her with them. While I'd been downstairs, she'd remade her bed and refolded all the blankets. And rearranged all her stuffed animals.



I'm not quite sure where this came from. My bed gets made on the days when I change my sheets, and that's it. I tried briefly to teach Mister Man to make his bed a couple years ago, but it didn't take, and I let it go. It just isn't that big a deal to me.

I'm pretty sure an alien is inhabiting my daughter's body. On the other hand, I'm not sure that this is an entirely bad thing.

In the end, we struck a bargain. She'd take her nap - under her covers - and I'd help her remake her bed after naptime.

I had to wake her up three hours later from a nice, sound sleep. And then she directed me in exactly what I had to do (while she helped) to fix her bed just the way it's supposed to be.

Weird, I know. How long do you suppose this stage lasts?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

It's that time again. And hey, with me having been not working for the past six days, I've whipped up a lot of great food right? Welllll sorta. I've been cooking each day, but unfortunately I've for the most part I've gone with tried and true recipes from the quinoa entree to chicken noodle soup to spaghetti and meatballs.


Fortunately, I also had bunco last week (ummm twice with two different groups, sadly), which means I had to whip up something to take with me. I chose to go the dessert side, knowing that I was going to be slightly late and didn't want my food to go uneaten.

Fortunately, it wasn't. While I have a few leftovers, for the most part, my mom's recipe for Texas Sheet Cake Brownies was gobbled up. And several people asked for the recipe, so here goes:

Texas Sheet Cake Brownies

2 c flour
2 c sugar (that is not a typo)
1/2 c butter
1/2 c shortening
1 c water (my mom sometimes used coffee, but sadly, I don't drink it so I use water when I make them)
1/3 c cocoa
1/2 c buttermilk
2 eggs
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla

Frosting ingredients:
1/2 c butter
2 T cocoa
1/4 c milk
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla

In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour and sugar well.

In a heavy saucepan, combine the butter, shortening, cocoa, and water (or coffee). Bring it to a boil, and boil for one minute. Pour the boiling mixture over the flour and sugar mixture.

Stir briefly. Add the buttermilk and stir until just mixed. Add in the two eggs (I beat mine ahead of time, then add them), baking soda, and vanilla. Mix well (this sounds weird, I know, but my instructions tell me to beat on high for one minute. I can't quite bring myself to do that, but I do bring it to high and beat briefly, and they don't turn out tough).

Pour into a greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes until the cake springs back when you touch it.

While the cake is baking, melt the butter in a small saucepan, adding the milk and cocoa. Stir well. Remove from the heat and add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

When the cake comes out of the oven, use a fork to pierce holes throughout the cake. Pour the hot frosting onto the hot brownies and spread to cover completely.

Let cool, then cut into squares and try not to eat them all.

Enjoy! For more recipes, check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed with Grace!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beware The Small People

On Friday, Little Miss had a day off school (again, whee!), so we had a playdate. In fact, we sort of had two playdates, as we also invited a friend's son to join us since said friend broke her foot and is pretty much down for the count for awhile.

Picture me with three four year olds running amuck in my house for three hours. Two of the three were boys (because, after all, Little Miss has no interest in girls an only plays with boys now), and Little Miss plays like a boy anyway.

They were all pretty well behaved, but three children running around playing requires an active eye. One child had to go potty, so I showed him where the bathroom was and resumed monitoring the other two until he requested my help washing his hands. All was good.

A little while later, the same boy announced he had to go potty again, but this time he wanted no help. No worries. I kept playing with the other two children, and the little boy returned shortly thereafter.

At lunchtime, one boy's babysitter arrived to pick him up. We came up from the basement when we heard her, and she was in our foyer petting one of our cats. She asked if I knew that he'd been outside. In fact, he was sunning himself in our driveway when she pulled up and the car scared him.

Ummm, no. I didn't know that my indoor only cat was outside. I thought quickly and headed to the powder room, across the hall from my garage. Where the door was still standing wide open.

Of course the babysitter had found the ummm less intelligent of my two cats sitting in the middle of the driveway. After calling briefly for Roar (no grief on the names here, folks, Mister Man was only just three when he named Meow and Roar), I realized that he was outside, too.

Whee! Fortunately, he came running from the bushes to the side of my house once I called him, and he was redeposited inside, safe and sound.

Note to self: keep track of all small children and don't trust potty breaks.

After we ate lunch, I returned the little boy to my friend with the broken foot. She was in the process of trying to build and iceberg cake for said child's birthday party the next day, and she was requesting some assistance from me. She didn't believe me when I told her that I don't build or carve cakes for a reason, but between the two of us, we came up with some workable solutions.

While I was in the kitchen helping her figure this out (and racing into the basement to find a toy dinosaur I could wash and stick next to the cake before it fell over), Little Miss and her son were playing nicely in the other room. All was well.

I gathered up Little Miss when it was time for us to go, and luckily I didn't even need to ask Little Miss to put her coat on since she'd never taken it off for whatever reason. In fact, she even had put on her mittens.

We climbed into the car and began backing out of the driveway. I heard Little Miss shaking her mitten. Yep, I heard it. It jingled. In fact, it sounded rather like money. I sighed and pulled over, requesting to see the mitten.

Little Miss refused and pulled the mitten close to her chest. Fortunately, she quickly saw reason, and I began collecting the coins from Little Miss's mitten that she'd stolen from my friend. The only good news was that they were all pennies.


I decided against returning to the house and making my broken footed friend in the wheelchair let me in again, as we were fortunately going to see them again at the birthday party the next day. Instead, I placed the coins in my pocket with a mental note to return them.

Note to self: Little Miss doesn't get the value of money and apparently has no compunctions about taking them from other people. Have a little chat about thievery and respecting other people's property.

I'm feeling like a great trying-it-out-SAHM this week, can you tell?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Take A Step Back

Mom, what's in your bag there? I sighed as I could see into my mom's purse. No wallet or lipstick there.

What? I could see her pulling her innocent face.

What is in the bag that you're opening up right now? By now I could see that the only thing in her purse was food.

Just a couple of pretzels and some grapes, why? She started to reach inside to offer them to the wee ones, who had just eaten lunch not twenty minutes before.

Put them away, Mom, I cringed some, knowing that this was going to not be fun.

What? They're just some healthy snacks. Wee ones, don't you want some yummy grapes?

Mom, please put them away. They just ate. The smile was falling from my face.

What? Grapes are healthy. Wee ones, your mommy doesn't want you to eat these nice healthy grapes. Don't you want some yummy juicy grapes? My mom dangled the aforementioned grapes in front of Little Miss's face.

Mom. Put. Them. Away. I could feel myself starting to growl.

We'd had this conversation over and over again, but it was always the same. My mom has an odd compunction to feed people, constantly. She is always giving the wee ones snacks of all kinds, albeit relatively healthy snacks. It didn't matter if the wee ones were hungry or not, my mom would offer them food. It got to the point that they entered my parents car and started to reach for food like Pavlov's overstuffed dog.

The odd part of this is the my mom doesn't even like food. She doesn't eat much, and she's always been thin as a rail. However, she's also always pushed food on me and the wee ones. It took a long time for me to recognize what hunger actually meant and to be able to listen to my body.

I remember being a kid and ordering three cheeseburgers from McDonalds, plus fries and a strawberry shake. The thought of eating that much food now makes me sick to my stomach, but somehow my parents never thought that they should possibly reign this in. I'm lucky that I was never heavier as a child than what I was, although I was never a string bean.

I refuse to have my children fall prey to the same challenge. When they're hungry, they can ask for food, and I am happy to give it to them. When I sense that Mister Man's blood sugar is getting low and his moods are getting wonky, I'll have him sit down and eat an orange or something along those lines. A snack every time we take a break in the day? Not so much.

What's wrong with a little snack?

Mom, they just ate lunch. If they're hungry, they can ask for a snack, but trust me, they're fine. Put away the food. They don't need it.

Why are you being this way?

Mom, you seem to have forgotten whose children they are. They're my children, not yours. Uh-oh, I'm on a roll now, and I was just hoping that no more came out than I intended and that I wouldn't regret this. I've been pushing this conversation off for a long time, silencing the irritation I felt every time my mom did something that ran counter to how I was raising my children, counter to the requests that I'd made of my parents. They don't need food, they don't need you to shove food in their face every time they see you. It isn't healthy for them. They need to learn to listen to when their tummies are telling them they're hungry. Until you hear it from them, close the bag, and put the food away.

There was stunned silence in the car. My dad took me to task for the tone I used, but at that point, I was done. I'd requested nicely time after time, and no one was listening. With the amount of time my parents spend with the wee ones, it was an issue and not the typical different rules when Grandma and Grandpa see their grandchildren.

See, I'm not always a very nice person, am I? And here you thought I was just full of sweetness and light!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

I got a little creative last week as I was trying to ensure that my iron level was high enough to allow me to donate blood. For whatever reason, a steak or good, juicy burger just wasn't interesting me (I know, what's wrong with me?).

On Thursday, I was struggling with what to make for dinner, as it needed to be relatively low effort since I was working from home. And it needed to be something the wee ones would eat. And I wanted it to help me with my iron.

I finally came up with an idea, very loosely based on my take on chicken and pea "risotto". Amazingly, even though I held out the spinach from part of it for Mister Man, both the wee ones loved it with the spinach. In fact, Mister Man asked if he could have it again for breakfast the next day. Who woulda thunk it? Behold:

Quinoa Entree:

1 c quinoa (ok so I doubled this to ensure that I'd have leftovers)
1 T oil (or butter if you aren't trying to make this dairy free)
2 c chicken stock (make it with veggie stock or water to make it meatless)
1 t dried parsley (or 1 T fresh, but hold it out until the end)
5 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained (or use fresh, but chop and wilt it)
1/2 t pepper
salt, to taste (I don't add salt when using chicken stock)
1 oz Parmesan cheese, fresh grated (no green cans!)

Soak the quinoa in water two inches over the dry quinoa for a couple hours. Drain and rinse. Add oil or butter to the pot and replace the quinoa. Heat it on medium, stirring frequently, until it has a nice toasty scent - about ten minutes.

Add the chicken stock (or veggie stock or water) and dried parsley, and bring to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer and cook uncovered for ten minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

Fluff gently, and add the thawed and drained (or chopped and wilted) spinach. Stir to combine, and add the pepper and any salt desired. Serve immediately, and grate the cheese atop the quinoa.


And yes, I do have a photo, but my camera is out of batteries. I'll upload it once it's charged!

For more recipes, check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed with Grace!

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