Monday, June 30, 2008

Pay It Forward!

For whatever reason, the blogging community (and it is definitely a community, as I've come to learn) is rife with contests. I've mentioned a few of them on my site, as it's always fun for people to win things -- and some of them would be really cool to win; who couldn't use a bouncy house? Or popcorn? Or a really fancy schmancy Brighton handbag (yep, week 2 of the SITS six weeks of summer)? Or heck, twenty days of giveaways? (See the button to your left. No, your other left -- there, click it!)

I've talked about other people doing contests, and I sort of feel like I should reciprocate in some way. Mostly because of all that good Catholic guilt I had placed upon me as I was growing up. But much like I delayed blogging because I didn't have the faith in myself that I could do it and thus kept putting it off, I've delayed holding a contest of my own.

Enter Swistle. She has what I think is a great idea. She's hosting a Pay It Forward contest where we're all starting the paying it forward. Essentially, you enter my contest here. Whoever wins is then obligated to host a pay it forward contest where they give something away and whoever wins that contest is thusly obligated, etc. It's kind of a virtuous circle, if you will. And I like being virtuous.

What's my prize? I don't know yet. And thankfully, I don't have to know yet, which is part of the fun. I can promise that it will be an at least somewhat cool package -- which means more than one item. I may even get creative enough to have a theme.

How do you enter? All you have to do is post a comment below. In your comment, tell me a little about a childhood pet. If you didn't have one, tell me why you didn't (I'm just curious -- no novels needed, just a brief overview). One entry per person.

Who's eligible? Because this requires paying it forward, only bloggers will be able to enter (sorry for any reader without a blog -- but hey, good time to start a blog, no?). And because I can only commit to paying postage in the States, I'll request that you be located in the US (although I don't think I really have any international readers anyway).

How will a winner be chosen? I'll use a random number generator and whoever has that number comment wins. Ta-da!

When does the contest end? The contest will go through Friday July 4 at ohh around 8pm CST. (Note: I obviously have children too small to take to fireworks. What a bummer!) Get your comment in before then! Friday night I'll post the winner... and if I'm lucky, the prize, too! Or maybe it will be a total surprise to the winner. It depends on how busy I get this week.

Oh, and like I said... this is a group effort. Go check out all the other contests that bloggers have put together for this pay it forward hoopla! Good luck!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Innocent No More

Last night, a friend of mine who has a rooftop building (if you've never lived in Chicago, see below*) had the annual party last night. The wee ones are always invited, but I never bring them, as I'd be heading home by 6pm, which is just not in the cards for me. Another friend has an eight year old daughter, however, who she brings and usually lasts until 8pm or so.

*Rooftop building: in Chicago, many of the apartment buildings are many stories (duh). On the tops of many of them are lounge type areas that residents have access to. The building I lived in after graduating college had a small (10x10 or so) area where you could bring a chair and sit. The really swanky ones have pools and tennis courts, in addition to the lounge areas. This particular building has a lounge area with two picnic tables when you first get outside, then steps up to the pool.

My friend was incredibly smart this year, knowing that her daughter would likely want to get into the pool, which would mean that she would also have to get in the pool. She brought a friend for her daugther. This was a genius move, and I highly suggest it for anyone going to an adult type party where kids are welcome.

In addition, my friend of the wise brain also brought along some toys for the girls to play with when they finished with the pool, including some Webkinz.

I was inside the vestibule where the food was laid out (considering that water bottles were blowing away and plates full of food were disappearing at an alarming rate due to the hurricane force winds last night, smart thinking on my friends parts). The girls were also there warming up and playing with the Webkinz.

Below is what I overheard as I was deciding what delicious items to place on my plate for dinner. Oh, and I will preface it by saying that I could tell they were pretending that the Webkinz(es?) were in love.

Abby**: They're so happy!
Jackie: I know. They should get married!
Abby: They can only do it in California though. (This is where I started losing it)
Jackie: Uh-huh. (Obviously not paying attention)
Abby: They can't get married anywhere else, just in California.
Jackie: Why?
Abby: Because it's the law!
Jackie: What?
Abby: We have to pretend that we're in California or else it will be illegal.

At this point, the mom had walked in, saw me doubled over in silent laughter and caught the last portion of the conversation. Needless to say, they also died laughing. I'm pretty sure there was more to their conversation, but neither of us could hear it over our snorts and giggles.

The mom made the comment that at least Abby watches the news. Then she thought about it for a few more minutes.

Mom: Actually, she must have figured that out from reading my People magazine. I saw her reading it yesterday. Apparently between the Hollywood trash, there is some general knowledge in there, too. Maybe I shouldn't let her read it if she's picking things up so readily.

So not only is Abby spouting laws about gay marriage, but she's picking up said knowledge from People. I love it!

Of course we had to harrass my friend about the magazine and we learned that 1) no, she doesn't have a subscription and 2) she bought the magazine because it talked about a breakdown that Heather Lochlear is having and 3) my friend feels better when she sees that stars have mental health issues, too.

**As always, names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Quirks Are Good, Right?

Yesterday, I went to lunch with a good friend of mine.

We used to work together until he took a job in Dallas three years ago. He's since quit that job and is currently consulting at a company up in my neck of the woods. This was his last week, and he's been here for three months. It figures that yesterday was the first time our schedules meshed to catch up. Granted, he did blow me off a week ago Thursday when he had a meeting come up, but still... it's sort of sad!

We went to one of my favorite little restaurants, Bapi, which serves great Italian food. I'm a sucker for gnocchi, so that was a no brainer for me (especially in vodka sauce, yum!). My friend got a chicken breast that was stuffed with spinach and peppers and cheese and a bunch of other stuff. He was quite impressed and offered me a bite.

Me: No thanks!
Him: Are you sure? It's really good.
Me: Uhh, yeah. I can't mix my meats and cheeses.
Him: Why does this not surprise me? So you can't eat any meet and cheese together?
Me: Well, as long as it isn't melted cheese, I'm ok.
Him: But if it's melted, you can't do it.
Me: Actually, I can do cheeseburgers. And bacon and cheese omelettes. But nothing else.
Him: Is it a texture thing?
Me: Pretty much. I also have a really hard time with things like rice pudding.
Him: Wait, don't you eat cottage cheese though? (see -- good friends remember these weird things)
Me: Yeah, why?
Him: They have the same texture.
Me: Oh, not at all! Cream cheese is a solid with a tiny bit of juice. Rice pudding is pudding with these things in them. Totally gross.
Him: Anything else I should know?
Me: I think I've scared you enough for today. But I'm at least trying to not pass them along to the wee ones.
Him: And the world can breathe once more.

As I was driving home after lunch, I started to think about that conversation. And I realized that I really do have some weird eating habits. Many of them I can blame on my mom, but why on earth can I not eat cheese and meat together (I can't even do meat on pizzas)?

I also have issues with:
Nuts (except the pine nuts I put in my granola. And peanuts in Snickers.)
Peanut butter
Green olives
Tofu (ok, this isn't that unusual -- most people are with me on this one)
Overcooked pasta
Green peppers
Salad dressing (I have to have minimal salad dressing or it's too cloying for me; usually I make my own)
American cheese
Mayonaise (I use less than a half teaspoon when making tuna salad but that's about the only place I can eat it)
Chocolate ice cream
Potato chips that aren't plain
Anything ranch flavored
Fritos, Doritos and all of those yucky snack chip things
Cooked broccoli and carrots (but I love them raw)
Corn tortillas
White bread
Coke -- actually, all brown pops, including root beer

Can you imagine being my mom and having to pack my lunch? No PB&J or ham sandwiches for me. I'm trying to remember what I actually did eat for lunch, and the one thing that springs to mind is cheddar cheese slices with mustard on bread (that was part of third grade). I can only pray that my wee ones will have some more "normal" habits. Fortunately, Mister Man currently loves PB&J. And I'm sure Little Miss will, too, once I let her have nuts.

Friday, June 27, 2008

My Big Little Girl!

With Little Miss officially potty trained (knock on wood, cross my fingers, spin in a circle), it's time to finally rearrange her furniture and decorate her room like a big girl.

The first thing my mom and I did was hang up the cute little hooks that I got at Target ohhh about three years ago now. Little Miss immediately decided to hang her pjs on the hooks. As long as she hangs them up again in the morning, I'm all good with that theory.

You'll also see a shelf above the tall dresser. At about 19 months, she suddenly decided she was done with her crib and wanted a big girl bed. She didn't try to climb out or any of the usual suspects, but she refused to get in that crib. My husband and my dad put up this shelf last year when we put Little Miss's big girl furniture in her room. If you look carefully, you can see that there's a large screw hole in the wall to the right of the shelf support from where they realized they needed to hang it on a stud. And if you look really carefully, you can also see that the shelf itself is not level on the supports. Not that this drives me nuts whenever I look at it or anything.

The next step was to change Little Miss's dresser from a changing table into a big girl dresser. We attached the mirror -- after explaining to Little Miss that a hammer is not a toy and ensuring she moved away from the mirror leaning on the side of the bed. It's so grown up now!

We also attached the other set of hooks next to her vanity table. (Costco, summer 2007 -- her birthday present from me last year. Note that the ladybugs and flowers on the vanity sort of match her comforter.) These hooks were intended to hang some of her play necklaces like her flower. Nope, she was having none of it. You'll note that there are more pjs hung on these hooks. And no, those aren't her only pjs. I'm not sure how, but I swear she has almost 15 pairs of pjs between summer and winter styles.

Now that I sort of know how the rest of her room is going to be arranged, I can finally hang up her baby pictures. This was a present from my MOH when Little Miss was born.
Actually, it's so cute that I need a close up, too. She was so tiny! It's funny, but she looks nothing like these pictures now, does she? This was taken when she was about 6 weeks old by a great photographer (this image is Little Miss at about 10 months -- still doesn't look like her; the next photo is also her at 6 weeks). In the bottom middle picture, that's my arm btw, for any of you sick-minded people.

Then we put up the rest of her shelves that belong over her bed. If I may, I'd like to point out that they are totally level. They are mounted into studs. They are evenly spaced (from this angle, they look more to the right than they are). And they sort of break up the room, in a good way.

My challenge now is ... how else do I decorate her room? Her shelves don't really have anything "good" on them, except for the three piggies piggy bank and picture of her and Mister Man. I'm so not into the little girl things, so any ideas are appreciated!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

They Like Me! They Really Like Me!

Or at least someone does. Morninglight Mama presented me with a blogging award, which is the first one I've ever gotten. And maybe it'll be the only one!

In the meantime, I'm busy composing my acceptance speech. It will have the title quote in it, as I've always wanted to say that.

Anyway, on to the fun part. The award I was so generously presented with was the Arte y Pico award (I speak no Spanish and have no idea what that means, sorry -- anyone, anyone?). Apparently, Morninglight Mama believes that I am deserving due to my creativity (really, it's the wee ones, not me), design (definitely a stretch!), interesting material (again, the wee ones, although I did breed them, technically), and also contributing to the blogging community (awww).

Isn't it beautiful?

Now for the other fun part. This award comes with rules. They are as follows:

1. Choose 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribute to the blogging community. Coming...

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog. Check!

3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name of and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award. Check!

4. The award winner and the one who has given the prize has to show the link of Arte Y Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of this award. Check!

5. Show these rules. Check!

Now for the five. And keep in mind that I can only include five, so know that there are blogs I read and love that I couldn't include. Without further ado, I present you with:

First, I'd like to ensure you go visit Karen's site. The Rocking Pony always has something to make me giggle or smile. She deals with her children with grace that I hope I have as my children get a little older and spend more time in public. Plus, she makes rocking t-shirts that I drool over every time I see them.

Manic Mommy is the blogger who gave me courage to start my own blog, although I don't think she knows that. I'd been reading Dawn's Because I Said So for awhile but felt too inadequate to write a blog. But something Manic wrote this winter finally got me over the hump. I can't remember specifically what it was, but her blog is definitely a favorite.

Angie's Spot is another blog I read regularly. Her most recent two posts made me cry and laugh in that order. I can only aspire to have that visceral an impact on my readers someday.

Irene's blog has some of the most impressive photos. She gives great tips on how she takes them and how to improve your own photos, not that this helps me -- yet. Plus, she throws in some great stories, too. Go check out Our Little Piece Of The World!

And the final blog... Kellan from On The Upside has a razor sharp wit. She always cracks me up and is wonderfully self-deprecating without a touch of self-pity. Plus, she gives me a great view of all that I have to look forward to as Mister Man and Little Miss get older.

It was really hard to narrow it down to just five, as there are so many wonderful blogs out there -- and so many more that I'm discovering via SITS. But congratulations, Ladies!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Sad Milestone

This is my car:

I've owned my car since I graduated from college. I was really lucky, actually -- it was my graduation gift.
In the intervening 11 years, my car has seen a variety of changes in my life.

When I worked in consulting, it spent most of its time in an assigned parking lot in the building across the street from my apartment in the Gold Coast. Oh sure, sometimes I'd drive it up to Evanston to volunteer at the animal shelter, but mostly it was lonely.

When I moved further north, my three flat had a garage spot where it was able to stay out of the sun and snow. I drove a little more often, especially as I changed jobs and worked in town but in the suburbs. I think my car was most happy that I managed to navigate the alley without ever dinging it on the sides of the garage, no matter how little space I had or how icy and snowy it was prior to the city of Chicago getting around to plowing alleys.

Then my car moved with me to the suburbs -- a few too many 2 hour commutes home for my sanity -- and now lived a mere 3.3 miles from work. It was a two car garage for one car, so I'm sure it was lonely. Eventually I met my husband and his car came to live there, so it had a buddy. And then it was burdened with an infant seat, which eventually was replaced by a carseat.

Then it moved to a new location again that involved driving more miles to work, but it liked the garage because there was so much to look at, including a pinball machine with a broken backglass, but I digress. The carseat had an infant seat join it, and soon there were identical carseats.

Last summer, it told me that it was getting tired. When it was hot out and I had driven awhile -- say more than a half hour -- and turned off the car -- say to pick up the wee ones from daycare -- and then tried to turn the car back on, it refused. At least for 20 minutes or so. I never got a satisfactory answer as to why the car was doing this, but I finagled ways around it and put off getting a new car because this car had been with me for so long.
My elbow had worn a small hole in the armrest over the years. There is a gazpacho stain from a potluck several years ago when my plastic wrap was a little loose. But no one has ever vomited in my car -- with the exception of baby puke that stayed in Little Miss's carseat.

My least favorite part of my car (and no matter what I or my husband did -- we never got to the after!):

I was driving along the road with my well worn car. And then I looked down. And what did I see?

Look really close. Can you figure it out? You will notice, I hope, that the picture was taken with the speed of the car being zero! But besides that, what do you notice?

And look now! Look look, what a cool milestone!

I've never had a car last this long. Granted my only other car was a 1991 Explorer that was pretty much a lemon (that and my sister drove it for a year and a half when I was in college and didn't do a single oil change or other maintenance -- that probably shortened its lifespan). I think that car died its sad death around 75,000 miles.

With this car, I always forget to look for the cool mileage changes. I missed 1,000. I missed 10,000. And 25,000. and 50,000. and 75,000. Oh sure, at about 74,996 I'd remember to look and notice that I had a cool mileage change coming up. But by the time I got to the nice even number change, I had completely forgotten again.
FINALLY! Finally, I remembered to look. And it was even a really cool milestone one. And now that it's reached 100,000 miles, I have to wonder how much longer it's going to ask. As I mentioned before, I'm starting my search for a new car. How sad will it be when I trade in my only constant companion for the last 11 years? But at least I managed to get to this milestone.
And raise your hand if you think I just jinxed myself with the no puke comment!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Don't Send A Man To Do A Mommy's Job

Mister Man is doing summer school via his preschool, which means his routine so far this summer has been pretty much the same as it has been for the last nine months. The exception is that instead of me getting him ready and on the bus every day, I’ve left those duties – for the most part – to my husband. Instead I’ve been working or catching up on some much needed sleep or hanging out with Little Miss.

Before summer school started – and especially since it started on a Monday, which means that I’m working – I gave my husband the overview. I told him what time the bus comes, reminded him about the backpack, told him Wednesday was swimming day, etc.

On the first Monday, I settled down to work a little before 8 and let my husband do his job. As he’s rushing Mister Man out the door – what, the bus is here already?! – I stepped away from the computer to go see who his bus driver would be. Lucky us, it was the morning bus driver he had during the year, who we loved.

As Mister Man is climbing aboard the bus, I asked my husband what he sent for snack today. Snack? My husband ran quickly into the house, and the nice bus driver waited patiently. My husband dropped a Ziplock baggie into Mister Man’s backpack, and off he went.

The next morning was an off day at work for me, so I was getting Mister Man ready. As I went to put a snack in his backpack (strawberries), I realized my husband had never gone through his backpack the night before. I pulled out all the papers of work that Mister Man had done before. At the bottom of the backpack lay a bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies.

I held up the bag and showed it to my husband.

Me: Umm, what are these?
Him: That’s odd. Mister Man must not have eaten his snack yesterday.
Me: Uhhh, you can’t send anything homemade for snack. It’s sort of a district-wide policy.
Him: I didn’t know that.
Me: You teach in the district. How can you not know that? And what about the healthy snack policy?
Him: We have a healthy snack policy?
Me: Uhhh yeah… remember the paper that was hanging on the cabinet all year talking about go and slow and whoa foods? It had examples of each for what to send and not send for snack?
Him: Total blank look
Me: You never even noticed the bright red sheet of paper, did you?
Him: There was a red sheet of paper?

Really, that should have been my clue for Wednesday, when I was also working – fortunately from home. Remember, Wednesday swim day? As I was getting Little Miss dressed, I called downstairs and asked what swimsuit Mister Man was wearing that day (you’re supposed to put it on under your clothes and send a set of clean underwear).

The scampering of feet I heard indicated that no suit had been prepared. A minute or so later, I called out asking what towel he was sending. Given the answer I received, I walked to the linen closet, grabbed his Thomas towel and tossed it downstairs.

When the bus came, I went out to say goodbye to Mister Man. As he was getting on the bus, it dawned on me that my husband may not have thought to put our name on the towel. I unzippered the backpack and discovered… yep, a swimsuit and no towel.

My husband ran inside to get the towel and a Sharpie. As he started coming out the door, I saw that he had one of our bath towels and not the Thomas towel that I’d brought downstairs and put on the steps by the door so no one could miss it. Needless to say, we’re lucky we have a patient bus driver, as it took a few minutes to straighten out the towel issue.

We have only two weeks left of summer school now. The good news is that my husband is finally starting to remember all the things he needs to do each morning. Granted, his snack is usually graham crackers, but he did remember to put the swimsuit on under Mister Man’s clothes last week and put the underwear in the backpack.

But we still have a problem with emptying the backpack. For some reason, that never gets done (well, except by me). Fortunately, Mister Man doesn’t yet have homework. By the time he’s in elementary school though, I somehow have to get my husband to learn to empty the backpack.

But really, 90% accuracy is pretty good, right? For a guy at least….

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thanks, Mom

Last week one day, Little Miss inexplicably broke out into hysterics while we were driving down the road on the way home.

This is a girl who I call my “Teflon Baby” because she does something that would cause any other child to melt into a slobbering pile of cry simply bounces up and keeps going. I actually worry that she’s going to seriously injure herself one day and that we’ll have no idea because she doesn’t acknowledge or realize that she’s hurt.

Needless to say, hysterics are pretty foreign to her. I pulled to the side of the road to try to figure out what had hurt her and why she was screaming that way with the tears streaming down her face for no apparent reason. I finally got the word “BUG!” out of her after a minute or so.

Yep, apparently someone (my mom) had managed to convince Little Miss that bugs are very scary, and even though this was just a harmless random flying bug on the outside of my car as we were driving down the road, histrionics worthy of any Hollywood starlet are the logical result.

This is not going to last long. I can’t have the wee ones petrified of perfectly harmless bugs. It’s bad enough that my husband squeals like a little girl when he sees a bee, but I can ensure my wee ones act normally around insects.

I have spent the last several days explaining to both the wee ones that bugs are not scary, that they generally just want to come fly or crawl near you to see what’s going on, and that they won’t hurt you if you leave them alone.

(As a side note, my d├ętente with bugs does not extend to the interior of my home, nor to my the enclosed spaces of my car to which the lovely spider that first appeared on my leg tonight and later (and finally) on the ceiling can attest.)

Apparently, it’s starting to sink in.

Little Miss: Mommy, there’s a bug on the window.
Me: Is there now?
Little Miss: It’s a good bug, a friendly bug. Hello, cute bug!
Me: Is he coming to say hello?
Little Miss: Yes, he’s a nice bug who helps the flowers grow big and beautiful.
Me: You’re right. Bugs who help flowers are very nice, aren’t they?
Little Miss: (flapping her hand wildly at the bug in an effort to gain its attention) I love you, bug! Kisses, kisses! (And yes, kissing noises commenced)
Mister Man: If you want, I can teach you how to squash bugs.
Little Miss: NO! He’s a nice bug. He’s my friend!
Mister Man: When you squash them, you kill them and then they’re dead.
Little Miss: MY bug. He’s my friend; I love my bug!

There’s a happy medium somewhere, isn’t there? Mister Man requesting over and over for the past few days a list of the nice things that bugs do has sunk in. For Little Miss, at least. And in general, I’m ok with him squishing bugs – so long as he isn’t the kid out there with the magnifying glass trying to fry the suckers. That’s when I sit down and have a totally different conversation with him.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Our Streak Is Over

Just a little giggle at my husband’s expense. Since he told the story in front of friends we had for dinner tonight, I figure I can share it with the rest of the world.

First, I shouldn’t have been so proud of Little Miss being potty trained. She’d been perfect all week. Until Friday, anyway. For some reason, she’ll keep dry now, but she gets umm streaks about four times a day, although she insists she doesn’t have to poop. Twice yesterday, there was actually some poop in her underwear, which my husband didn’t appreciate. Today, she did again when my friends were over.

Since I was working on getting dinner on the table, he was in charge of getting her on the potty after nap and was the one to discover her issue. I didn’t hear what he said, but she came out of the bathroom quite upset. A bit later, I was helping her climb into the dining room chair (cleverly covered in a huge towel to prevent rice from being ground into my nice chairs), and I smelled something and checked.

The first thing I noticed was that she was in a Pull-Up instead of her underwear. My husband hasn’t read many of the parenting books, and he definitely missed the you can’t go back part. That explains her being upset the last time she came out of the bathroom. Rather than make an issue of it, I simply passed her off to my husband again, as I still had dinner work to do.

She came out of the bathroom bawling. I picked her up and asked her what was wrong and she couldn’t tell me, but I finally figured out that she had been lectured on how to use a potty and had been quite shamed. I had mixed feelings about this, but quieted her enough to eat dinner – given how exhausted she was yesterday when this was such an issue and today was more tiredness, I didn’t have the heart to pick on her.

When we put her to bed after dinner, she came out about twenty minutes later as I was helping to whip the cream for dessert (my friend’s daughter was the “baker” for the evening but still needs supervision!). I took no notice until my husband came downstairs about twenty minutes later.

Little Miss had decided she had to go potty, so my husband took her into the bathroom and placed her on the potty. She peed, and the following conversation commenced.

Husband: Are you done now?
Little Miss: No, I don’t think so.
Husband: Are you sure?
Little Miss: I think I have to make poops.
Husband: Oh that will make Daddy really happy!
My husband walked out of the bathroom to check on Mister Man and left her be for a bit. When he cam back, he heard a “ploop” as he described it.
Little Miss: (brushing her wisps of hair out of her eyes so that she can be sure to look my husband clear in the eyes) Are you happy now?

Oh, are we in trouble. The good news is that she does feel more confident about it now, so fingers crossed tomorrow is a better day!

Are You Saucy?

I’ve mentioned The Secret Is In The Sauce once before and how cool I thought the concept was.

They’re verging on dangerous now. Every day, they feature a new blogger who I’d otherwise never come into contact with. And I keep having to add more absolutely hilarious blogs to those I read. The downfall is that I have a limit as to how much I can read, and I can’t just stop reading some of them. So if I’m behind on reading your blog, blame SITS. Unless I started reading your blog because of SITS in which case it’s a blessing and a curse!

They’ve also helped me discover what I’m going to get my mom for her birthday (July 1, so I’m starting to run out of time!). Check out this way so cool necklace that they featured – and gave away, although not to me – recently.

And now, they’re giving away a bouncy house! As you saw from my post yesterday, my kids rather enjoy jumping. Plus, it’s a nice pseudo-therapy for Mister Man. And ok, so maybe I love the fact that they both took four hour naps yesterday after spending two hours jumping. I soooo want this!

If you haven’t stopped over at SITS before, go check them out. Community is key, and they’re developing a great one. Besides, apparently this finding cool things to give away is gaining momentum. If you haven’t become a SITS girl by now, it may be time to rethink it (and yes, they allow men, too, before you ask!). Tell them I sent you. All you have to do is grab their banner and put it on your blog. Then show up, roll call and go enjoy some good bloggy writing. If I can figure out how to do it, anyone can!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

No Means No - Next Time!

All I have to say is I KNOW BETTER.

Somehow, my husband neglected to tell me that he’s stepping in to manage his baseball team this weekend while the normal manager is out of town. Oh, and that if the fields are at all questionable in terms of playing condition (uhhh, say from the constant rain we’ve had), the managers of the teams playing in the first game of the day have to be at the fields an hour and a half before the game.

Mister Man had a 10am birthday party this morning, and before we left we had a few tasks to complete. We had to wrap the presents for his friends and make the cards for them. Plus, we had to do the usual getting dressed, eating breakfast, showering, cleaning up and getting out the door by 9:40.

I didn’t factor in my husband not being around to help out with any of this. I finally called him around 9:10 to find out where our only roll of wrapping paper was, since he had wrapped the present for the birthday party on Wednesday. Oddly, it wasn’t back where it belonged, nor was it in the place my husband sometimes thinks it belongs. It turns out that while he had wrapped the present in the kitchen, he decided to put the roll into the playroom leaning between two bookshelves. OH! Of course! Fortunately, he called back before I panicked and wrapped the presents in newspaper. It was close though.

The good news is that the birthday party was great. We had no rain by the time the party started, and the sun even came out. The family had rented one of the huge bouncy houses that has a slide also integrated into the side of it, in addition to the huge trampoline they normally have in the backyard. Needless to say, the wee ones spent the entire two hours of the party going from one jumping activity to the other. They did take a brief break to sing happy birthday to the birthday boy, but neither of them were interested in the cupcakes, so back to jumping we went.

The neighborhood next to mine (we’re connected by a path, and our two neighborhoods make up my babysitting co-op) has a park that we’re trying to raise funds to rebuild and make it much nicer. Today, they had a fundraiser in the park where various neighbors made and were selling items – everything from stuff your own animals (ah-ha! An idea for Little Miss’s birthday party) to pancake puffs to pet rocks. I had promised we’d stop by there, so on our way home, we did the fundraising thing.

Shockingly, by the time we got home around 1, they were both exhausted. Mister Man decided he wanted to go straight to bed with no encouragement from me, which is unusual. I heard nothing from either of them – and even managed to get my own nap in, which tells you how tired I was – until I went to wake them up at 5. Even Little Miss was hard to wake up, and she usually pops right up when someone comes into her room.

At dinner, they were both still slightly out of it, but they insisted they wanted to go to the club and go swimming after dinner. I explained that we could do that, but it would mean they’d have to eat dinner, as I didn’t want them to be overwrought while swimming, as it had already been a pretty jam-packed day. Yep, they both ate a decent dinner, including a banana each for dessert.

My parents met us to go swimming, and we played in the pool until it closed at 8. Actually, the wee ones were ready to get out at 7:53, which is unusual for them. However, it was getting a bit cool, and I think they were feeling it. As I carried Little Miss into the locker room to change her back into street clothes, she laid her head against me and just hung out. When Little Miss is quiet and calm, that means she’s exhausted, and I know this. Really, I do know this.

When we all met back up in front of the club, my dad started asking if we could go to Steak ‘N Shake for some dessert. I declined, pointing out the bags under Little Miss’s eyes, Mister Man lolling around staring into space, etc. My dad kept begging and saying that it would be quick. And my husband threw in that they had $0.99 junior milkshakes right now. I kept demurring. They kept asking. My mom stayed out of it, as she’s usually with me on the “we don’t need to eat out or ingest and more junk food” kick. However, she told Little Miss that my parents would meet her at Steak ‘N Shake. So I gave in. Dumb, dumb me.

Following along with the theme of last night, service was incredibly slow, and both kids were showing how tired they were. However, I will say that Mister Man drew a very nice picture of James with his tender and a troublesome truck with coal in it. Mister Man couldn’t stay sitting in his chair, and when his milkshake came, he had no interest in drinking it but wanted to keep playing with (and breaking) the crayons. Hello, red flags! Little Miss was bouncing up and down on the booth bench.

To be honest, I don’t even remember what set her off, but my mom said something to her that caused her to just burst into tears. I took her outside, which is our routine when she gets overstimulated or overtired. We sit down on the curb and either sing a song or talk about a topic of her choice. Tonight, it was the three little pigs. Within about 20 seconds, she was fine again, and we went back in. Fortunately, my husband had heard me ask for a to go container for the 80% of my shake that I had yet to drink, and my mom and dad and husband drink like fiends and finished their shakes by that point.

When we got home, the wee ones told me they were too tired to put their shoes away, which again is telling. To brush Little Miss’s teeth (which I almost didn’t do at all but then remembered all the sugar in that shake!), I had to lay her one the counter and hold both her hands with one hand while I brushed her teeth with the other. You could say that she wasn’t a fan, but after pitching herself to the floor when I first presented the brush, I know her well enough to know that there aren’t many alternatives.

The poor girl has never and I do mean never, been up past 9pm before. I’m usually a stickler about sleep, both naps and bedtime, and tonight reminds me why. She was so overtired that she just didn’t know what to do with herself by this point. We sang our special song, and she was finally calm enough to try to sleep. I haven’t heard a peep from her, but I have my suspicions that she’ll be up around 5am.

Mister Man, on the other hand, went into his room as he was supposed to. Then he came out after five minutes because he had to go potty. Ten minutes later, he needed a drink. And another ten minutes later, he was out of his room in the bathroom again for something. At 10:37, he was still coming out of his room every so often. He doesn’t cry and fall apart like Little Miss does; his issue when he’s too tired is that he simply can’t sleep. He, too, will likely be up extremely early in the morning and be cranky the majority of the day. The last time he came out, I threatened him with not going to the Strawberry Festival if he came out of his room again and didn’t go straight to sleep. Knock on wood, it worked.

And yes, I would really have not gone to the festival tomorrow if he wasn’t able to sleep. While I want to go to the festival, as it’s fun to go to every year with the added bonus of tuckering out the wee ones. However, if they’re too tired when they first get there, it will just be a disaster. I’ve learned – the hard way, of course – that in situations like that, I’m best off just having a quiet day at home and praying that they take solid naps to get back on schedule.

But in the meantime, I’ve remembered how critical it is that the wee ones get their sleep. When I was buckling Mister Man into his carseat as we left Steak ‘N Shake, I mentioned that this was definitely too much for them. Mister Man even knew it, “Mommy, next time we swim until the pool closes, we need to just go straight home afterwards. We’re too little to stay out this late.”

Yeah, it’s sad when even he can figure this out. The good news is that once again I will stick to my no. The bad news is that I was sort of hoping that I’d be able to take them to see fireworks this year. And then again… maybe not!

Friday, June 20, 2008

You Can't Ruin Our Night!

Sometimes, we all need adult time. Time to remember what it was like when there was no one hanging on our legs, whining or begging for something. A few moments when there is no need to referee or answer why for the five thousandth time.

Last night, I arranged for a Girls’ Night Out with some of my friends from my playgroup at the Melting Pot. On Thursdays, they do a Ladies Night special where you get cheese fondue, a salad and chocolate fondue for $18 (it used to be $15 but …). Plus there are $6 special martinis (that used to be $5).

Needless to say, I was looking forward to the evening. Especially after spending 10 ½ hours at work – and I do mean literally 10 ½ hours in the office working. That doesn’t count the hour commute.

As I pulled into the parking lot at 6:44, one of my friends called me. Apparently, they had no recollection of any such reservation for us and were making an issue of it. Fortunately, the friend who called me tends to be somewhat forceful, shall we say? When I walked in, they were about to seat us. As I walked through the restaurant to our table, I wondered why they were concerned about our reservation when there were so many empty tables. I never did figure that out.

Our waiter introduced himself and took our drink orders – yay, the first time a waiter didn’t try to take the drink menu immediately after a group of ladies ordered the first round of martinis for an evening out. Twenty five minutes later, he informed us that the bartender was still a bit backed up but that our drinks would be coming soon. Uh-huh.

He also took our cheese and salad orders. One friend asked where the tomatoes were from, as she had tomatoes on her salad. He reassured us that there were no tomatoes on the salad. So we waited. And waited.

When he came back twenty minutes later with our cheese, he dropped bread all over our table, and we felt bad for him, as he was obviously nervous. He did manage to make the cheese fairly well, however, so that was ok. Yum!

He checked on us when he brought our drinks and asked if we’d like more bread or vegetables. We requested more vegetables. They never arrived. As in he totally forgot. Hmm.

By that point, my water glass was completely empty – even the ice had melted – but I couldn’t find the waiter to even ask him to refill my water. He did finally come back to take away the cheese.

By that point, another friend had tasted her raspberry martini. She gave me a taste, too, and it was pure alcohol with no hint of raspberry; it was definitely not the same drink I’d had there before, and she didn’t like it at all. Since she’d asked the waiter’s opinion prior to ordering and explained that she didn’t like martinis in general, we expected this to be a non-issue. When he took the cheese, she explained that the drink was too strong and she didn’t care for it and requested that he take it away and just get her a Diet Coke.

Waiter: Oh, ummm. I know the manager doesn’t like us to take away drinks after they’ve been served to customers. I’ll have to ask him about that, and I don’t think I’ll be able to credit you for that. But I guess I can bring you a Diet Coke. Seriously? Seriously you have to talk to your manager and throw around some attitude when someone doesn’t like a drink that (honestly) wasn’t made properly? And you guess you can bring a paying customer a Diet Coke?

Oh, then he let us know that actually, they do have tomatoes, just as an FYI. My friend again requested the tomatoes’ background. He also reassured the other three of us that our salads had no tomatoes. When he came back, he told us the vendor they used for the tomatoes, as if that would clear it right up for us. Finally he discovered they were from California, which was a cleared state. Oh, and actually two of the three of us also had tomatoes in our salads. Needless to say, we were losing faith in him quickly.

The good news is that the four of us can gab for hours with nothing to sustain us, so the evening wasn’t ruined by any stretch. And the food totally rocked – once we got it. When he brought our salads, I looked around for the coconut crusted cashews that I’d asked for on the side instead of on the salad. The waiter saw me looking and again I can only quote him, “I have no idea why they didn’t put those on the side for you. Did you actually want them?” Uhhh, yes. That’s why I asked for them on the side rather than requesting that they just be left off, thanks.

I asked for my water refill again (I’d asked during the tomato clarification). A female who happened to walk by our table saw our empty glasses, and she voluntarily refilled them without us asking.

Dessert also took a good fifteen minutes after ordering before it finally came. And he about started his hand on fire, but by that point we just wanted to eat our chocolate. And we just about did eat the chocolate by itself, as he forgot to bring us the goodies to dip into the chocolate. Arg!

While we were eating our chocolate, he brought us our check. Fortunately, we completely ignored it while we chatted away and enjoyed our dessert. Apparently he had completely mischarged us, so he brought us an updated bill before we were ready to start heading out.

He then checked on us every five minutes to see what else we needed. We decided to pay, thinking that would give him some satisfaction and he’d let us be. It wasn’t like anyone was waiting for the table or the restaurant was about to close! Half of us had cash and the other half had credit cards. When he picked up the bill, he honestly couldn’t figure out what to do. We finally had to explain to him to take the cash off the bill then split the bill in two and charge each of the credit cards half the amount that remained. His muttered “No problem” as he skulked off didn’t inspire confidence, but he did get it right fortunately.

We continued to gossip like the magpies we are, and he continued to check in every five minutes until we gently explained that he needed to just leave us alone. After we’d been just sitting and chatting for … well, awhile, the manager – you remember, the snooty one who insisted someone must have called to cancel our reservation – walked up to our table. Internally, we all groaned.

But no, for whatever reason, he simply wanted to share with us a bottle of muscato. Maybe he realized that we’d had a rotten time or maybe he felt a tiny twinge of guilt for treating us so yuckily when we first got there. Regardless, he gave each of us a glass of lovely dessert wine for us to savor as we wound up our evening.

We finally decided it was time to go when one of the husbands called for a second time to find out where we were and what time we were going to be home. Of course, the first time he called, he wanted to know how his wife did it with the two kids at home all the time – oh yeah and to find out how to put the kids to bed. We all giggled over that one.

This group has been hanging out together now for four and a half years. Periodically, we’ll do a girls’ night like this, and every time we do, we have a ton of fun and say we need to do it again soon. And yet, I think this may have been the first one – or maybe the second – since one of our group moved to London two years ago. Oops!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Have An Inkling About a Tinkling

On Monday when Mister Man and I had the stomach flu, my mom very generously showed up uninvited to take Little Miss with her to help prevent Little Miss from getting sick.

When she showed up, she had three pairs of Disney Princess underwear. Not surprisingly, Little Miss immediately chose a pair, took off her bloomers and Pull-Ups, and put on a pair of the underwear. Five minutes later, the bloomers came off and another pair was put on. Since she was headed to my parents’ house and I was feeling pretty wretched, I wasn’t about to fight it.

When I called Tuesday morning to check to see how Little Miss had done overnight and how she was feeling, I discovered that they were headed to Swedish Days in Geneva with my aunt and uncle. And my mom was brave enough to try to keep Little Miss in underwear (really, once she goes into underwear, there’s no going back). I stifled my laughter but reminded myself that it was her car, not mine.

Apparently, Little Miss went potty before she left my parents’ house. She went potty when she got to my aunt and uncle’s house. And she announced she had to go potty while at Swedish Days. Like most festivals, the only choice was Port-A-Potties.

Personally, I’ve trained myself to have the bladder of a camel to avoid most public bathrooms, and I can proudly say that I’ve never used a Port-A-Potty. Ever. The whole concept so grosses me out, I can’t even explain it. I can only pray that the wee ones will develop similar self-control.

When Little Miss got inside, she announced in quite the indignant voice, “Grandma, someone forgot to flush!” We’re all still cracking up over that one.

But she stayed dry. All day yesterday, and she was dry when she got back to our house last night. This morning, she chose Elmo underwear, and she stayed dry through all the errands she ran with Daddy, including announcing about five minutes after they finished eating lunch and were back in the car (Daddy has yet to learn to require that all children use potties before getting into the car). Fortunately, he was near a Dominick’s, and she quite proudly used the potty there.

She stayed dry during naptime. She stayed dry all afternoon and evening. And now she’s been back at my parents’ house (they do childcare on Thursdays) and has been dry again. She was so proud to choose her Ariel underwear this morning. Before she put them on though, she opened up her diaper drawer so that she could look at her old diapers and say good-bye to them – totally her idea and ohhhh-so-cute!

I’m crossing my fingers, knocking on wood, spinning counter-clockwise three times and whatever else I need to do to avoid jinxing this. BUT. I think Little Miss will be allowed to go to preschool next year (there was a question for awhile). Yay, Big Girl!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'm Like The Magician With The Bunny!

As you may recall, I sometimes have issues with losing things. I can search and search where I’m pretty sure I lost an item, but it will quite simply not be there. It’s the evil fairies – or maybe the underpants gnomes branching out.

So last summer, I lost a pair of sunglasses. I know that I go through sunglasses every couple of years, so I refuse to buy expensive ones. These sunglasses fell into the same category, but I’d actually really liked them, and I’d only gotten them the year before. I was bummed, but I moved on.

I vaguely remember looking for them for another couple weeks before finally giving in and buying a new pair. I didn’t like the new pair as much, and they weren’t just cheap, they were cheaply made. The nose clips broke off by late winter this year, so they were less comfortable, but not quite bad enough for me to justify throwing them away.

At some point this spring, I lost the bad sunglasses, and I happily bought new ones the next time I was in Target. I liked these ones better. Of course, that meant I found the bad ones a couple days later. For the first time, I now had two pairs of sunglasses. Oddly, I pretty much have only been wearing the new pair.

Last night, I pulled my cleats and glove out of my backpack (hey, I may have the tools, but that doesn’t really mean anything. With the cleats came a pair of sunglasses. As one of my teammates was talking about an expensive pair of prescription sunglasses she’d left behind last week, I immediately asked her if they were hers. Unfortunately for her they weren’t.

Anyone want to guess who those sunglasses belonged to? Yep, I’m now the proud owner of three pairs of sunglasses. I may be starting a pool for how quickly I’ll be back down to one pair and laying odds that the pair that remains is the bad pair. I can’t really complain though!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Exception To The Rule

We have a rule in our house that if I serve something for dinner, the wee ones have to try it. It’s ok if they don’t like it, but they at least have to try said item.

And by trying, I don’t mean putting your tongue somewhere in the vicinity of the fork and deciding you don’t like it. Trying means actually putting a piece, even if it’s fairly miniscule, into your mouth and chew and swallow it.

I had to instate this rule after some of the wee ones’ favorite foods were vetoed. As in “Mommy, this is YUCKY!” when a week before they had tried and loved it. And when I made them try the food again, shockingly, they loved it again. It’s also been a great way to get them to eventually like new foods like salmon and edamame, which took lots and lots of trying and not liking before they finally liked it.

For Mister Man, this has sometimes been a challenge, and there are some foods I know not to make him try. He has a texture issue, which I can somewhat relate to. I don’t like certain textures mixing, so I have a hard time with rice pudding, mushrooms, tofu, squid, etc. They just don’t feel right in my mouth. Mister Man takes it a step, ok a marathon, farther.

When they were babies, I made all their food. It was pretty easy. You bake a sweet potato and then mash it with a fork, put it into ice cube trays, freeze it, and voila, instant baby food. One of their favorites was avocado. I’d simply cut the avocado in half and scoop out baby size portions at a time. Usually, I’d plan to have half the avocado myself and share the other half with them, but it didn’t always work out that way. Sometimes I’d end up with none because they loved it so much.

Somewhere along the line, avocadoes went out of season, and I didn’t feed them to Mister Man for awhile. When I got an avocado again, he refused to eat it. I’d try to get it near him, but he’d scream and turn away. Since this was before he talked (and he was a LATE talker) and before I instituted the rule, I let it go. My mistake.

One day, I went out to eat with a friend and accidentally grabbed Little Miss’s bib from breakfast instead of a clean one for Mister Man. The one from breakfast had a small bit of avocado on it. Mister Man saw the avocado on the bib and gagged himself until he puked. I learned my lesson, I really did.

Or so I thought. Tonight was lemon chicken kebobs. Since they’re kebobs, they come with tomatoes (a texture I won’t force on Mister Man), onion (which I won’t force on either of them), and red peppers. They had to try the red peppers. C’mon, they’re sweet and a little crunchy but nothing gross.

I finally convinced Mister Man to try a tiny sliver of his pepper after he’d eaten all his chicken. He put it in his mouth, chewed twice and declared he didn’t like it. I told him to take a quick drink of water and swallow it. He started to gag as he picked up the cup. I told him to drink it down. He took a drink. And kept making the “yuck, I-can’t-believe-this-is-in-my-mouth" face. And gagged again. He tried another drink, but it wasn’t to be. By the time my husband (who was not completely across the table from him like I was) reached him, he’d managed to throw up the pepper and much of the chicken he’d eaten. Apparently red peppers are not Mister Man’s favorite food. Who’da thunk it?

On the plus side, as soon as he got cleaned up, he asked if he could have the ice cream sandwich I had made for dessert. Apparently, he got over it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I Want My Truth In Advertising

Grumble, grumble, grumble – just a warning for anyone who wants to start reading now!

Every week, two friends of mine and I do Supper Swapping. I cook and deliver dinners for all three families on Tuesdays, friend A cooks for us all on Wednesdays, and friend B cooks on Thursdays.

We have all our meals planned out in three month increments, so there’s never any worry about what we’re going to make, as we just have to refer to the calendars we create. It’s super helpful and saves so much time and energy for us.

Generally, I pick up the veggies I need for Tuesday’s meal on Saturday after my yoga class, since the really good produce market is out by yoga. I’m generally furiously cooking or marinating or chopping or all of the above on Tuesday afternoons in order to get it delivered in time.

This week, I was smart. Since it’s summer, we’re doing a “big treat” and making ice cream sandwiches for dessert instead of a salad or side or healthy dessert. Granted, I’m cheating by buying cookies and ice cream and simply combining them instead of making my own cookies and ice cream, but I knew Monday and Tuesday were unusually busy for me this week.

I got my 24 cookies and ice cream from Costco on Saturday. Last night after I got home from my husband’s baseball game and put the wee ones to bed, I started preparing the cookies. I laid out 12 sheets of Saran Wrap (and I need 12 sandwiches, as each family has 2 kids and 2 adults). I put 12 cookies on top of the 12 pieces of Saran Wrap.

Then I looked suspiciously into the cookie container. It didn’t look like there were 12 cookies left. I counted. Twice. And I came up with 9 cookies each time. Great, now I can make 10 sandwiches and have a spare leftover cookie. Wheee!

Of course, I immediately accused my husband, who has been known to eat my creations without asking or realizing that they were being saved for a particular purpose (I’ve had to remake my scones more than once unfortunately – now I just make a double batch). He denied it and appears to be telling the truth.

Then I called my parents and asked if by chance my mom or my dad had eaten the cookies or fed them to the wee ones. It was pretty much a given that my mom wouldn’t do either, but my dad is a glutton for sugar. He always comes home from the store with a pie or cookies or cinnamon rolls or some treat he doesn’t need to eat. Last night, he tried to talk Mister Man into stopping for Dairy Queen after the baseball game because Mister Man had decided he wasn’t hungry and therefore didn’t want a cupcake that my mom had brought. Good for Mister Man for knowing when he isn’t hungry, but my dad totally didn’t get him turning down ice cream. Needless to say, my dad denied knowledge of said cookies, and I do believe him.

The only possible answer now? Costco only put 21 cookies into the container that was meant to sell 24. Grrrrr. Fortunately, my dad had some spare cookies from Costco at his house that he will bring by tomorrow for me to make into the sandwiches (see, I told you!). But I will also be counting the cookies in the containers at Costco and complaining, as it was somewhat important for me to have the advertised 24 cookies. Besides, there’s sort of a principle of the thing – and I do complain nicely to stores. Really. See, I get out all my angst here and then I’m really nice in person, which definitely helps.

I would have gone tonight, but unfortunately both Mister Man and I have come down with a bug. I actually thought it was food poisoning as I was driving as quickly as I could to get home this afternoon. When I was awakened from my nap by the crying of Mister Man after he’d been sick, I realized that wasn’t the case…. Needless to say, I’m not heading out to Costco tonight. Oh, and yes, my husband will be the one making the rest of the cookies (and the lemon kebobs for the Supper Swap) tomorrow. He just doesn’t know it yet!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Time To Buy Stock In Wrigley

Of course … a Happy Father’s Day to any dads reading today … or anyone who knows a dad, has a dad, wants to be a dad or has read a book about a dad. Here’s hoping that it was a great day for everyone!


And I forgot to mention part of the game from Friday night. We had a runner. Stupid people. Like I said, the game must have been a bit disappointing for Brewers fans. And some of them overimbibed. One of those who indulged a bit too much (or God, I hope he indulged too much) decided it would be a good idea to run onto the field late in the game. Needless to say, he was tackled hard by one guy and then piled on with several other security workers. As he was dragged off the field in handcuffs, he was still kicking and hopping and generally acting like a moron. Seriously, what part of your brain has to not work for you to think that’s a good idea?


Do you remember last week when I was talking about how we should all do something nice for people every day? Apparently, I'm not alone in my quest. Of course Angela is cooler than I am in that she's making a contest of it. I just made it a personal quest!


Anyway, back to today…

My husband had a baseball game this afternoon, so we all packed up a picnic and went to watch the game. It’s always fun to do but between some of the nasty heat we’ve had lately and the wee ones’ nap schedules, we haven’t made it to many games the past couple years. The nice thing is that there are several other guys on the team with children near the wee ones’ ages, so they have kids to play with.

Today, they actually ran off to play (within sight and safely, mind you) and didn’t need constant entertaining by any of us. Such a lovely development. There wasn’t even any fighting. And the only crying came when Mister Man wasn’t watching where he was going and bumped his head on the side of the bleachers. Fortunately, the odd shaped ice pack I had for the cooler made him laugh, and he was fine and ready to play again.

One of the children there offered Mister Man some gum at one point. He’s never had gum before. Yes, I know he’s 4 ½, and I know there are people who start giving their kids gum and pop and everything else before the children are 2, but I’ve held off. I actually have been interested in trying gum with Mister Man, as I’ve read a bit about how chewing gum really helps children with sensory issues and also children who have a hard time attending. For some reason, the chewing seems to center them, which could definitely help Mister Man.

So I said he could have a piece. And then I proceeded to have “the talk.”

Me: Mister Man, when you get gum, you just chew it and chew it. You don’t ever swallow it. And you don’t spit it out right away. You just keep chewing until you’re done with it and it doesn’t taste like anything anymore. And it’s veeeeery sticky, so make sure you put it into a garbage when you’re finished. Do you understand all that?
Mister Man: Uh-huh.
Chris: Yeah, and if you swallow it, you’ll get a really bad tummy ache (apparently his older brother snuck a pack and had some nasty tummy aches many years ago now).

He popped it in his mouth and started chewing. About 10 chews in, he pulled it out and tried to hand it to me. (Note, I say tried. Apparently I'm not a real mom yet, as I don't simply take anything handed to me but first insist on verifying what it is and sometimes refuse to take it.)

Mister Man: I’m done.
Me: No, you aren’t. You keep chewing it and chewing it for a really long time.
Mister Man: Ok.
Chris: Yep, you just keep going until it’s dinner time. When it’s dinner time, you have to spit it out in the garbage. But only in the garbage.

At that point, he seemed to get it a bit more, and he was very proud of his gum. He ran off to show Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Margie. And when I say show, I mean take it out of his mouth and shove it in their faces and insist they smell it. I believe he also showed it to several of the other random spectators.

And when my husband walked up to bat?

Mister Man: DAD! Dad! Dad! Look, I have chewing gum in my mouth! And I’m chewing it. Dad! DAAAD! Look, I have gum! And I’m not swallowing it! Dad! Do you want to smell my gum?

My poor husband fortunately hit a sharp RBI single, so all was well, but he came by after the inning was over and expressed his relief that he wasn’t chattered to like that for his entire at bat. I will say, it was pretty cute.

So here’s my scorecard for the afternoon, which probably isn’t complete:
1 – number of times the gum landed in the grass and was put back into his mouth
14,356,732 – people he told he had gum
17 – minutes he chewed the gum before throwing it away
42,326 – times he took the gum out of his mouth to look at it, show it to someone or otherwise examine it
0 – sticky bleachers at the conclusion of the gum chewing
1 – happy children who want to chew gum again

I’ll have to look into it, since I don’t chew gum myself, but the mom assured me (after he was finished with it and spit it out) that the gum was sugar free. But it was little and square and didn’t have wrappers that he would have to dispose of. Oh, and it was strawberry-kiwi flavored!

Now that I know I can at least mildly trust him to chew the gum without spitting it out, I want to see if it helps him self-regulate at all. I will say that he played beautifully with the boys today, but no idea if it was the gum or the fact that he’s really maturing hugely the last few months. I’m writing a note for his summer school teacher for tomorrow to get her (ok, it’s the teacher I don’t like – I’m really asking her to ask someone who knows something) opinion on the gum. Has anyone else heard the theories on the effectiveness of gum as a quasi-treatment?

I suppose regardless, it’s a right of passage for a kid, and Mister Man passed beautifully and was so proud of his gum. If only I’d remembered to bring my camera to the game to capture some of that oh-so-innocent joy. My bad!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Wave Those Homer Hankies!

While we live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, my husband and I have quite the eclectic set of season tickets. My husband has season tickets for the St Louis Rams and a partial plan for the Milwaukee Brewers, while I have season tickets for the NU Wildcats.

Granted, mine are really the only ones that make sense given our address. My husband has had the Rams tickets since 2000 though (and yes, he went to the Super Bowl when they lost in 2002), and we still go to games on occasion when we visit his family in St Louis. He generally sells the rest of the tickets, and ditto with the majority of the Brewers games. He always buys the Twins/Brewers interleague games with the thought that I’ll want to go to them. Unfortunately, that’s somewhat hard to do with a 2 and 4 year old.

However, we did go to last night’s game, and I forgot how fun they are. If it weren’t Father’s Day weekend, we probably would have gone to at least one other one. Oh, and speaking of Father’s Day – Manic Mommy is giving away a set of really cool books to any dads to be or those who know a dad to be who’d enjoy them. Check it out!

And now back to our game.

Last year, my husband got a bit distracted on the way to the game. We left later than we thought we should and got stuck in a huge traffic jam because he wouldn’t listen to me when I suggested we exit and take a back way. By the time we got to Miller Park, there was no parking left in the stadium lots and we had to find quasi-legal parking VERY far away. For someone who never gets to a game late or leaves before the very end, this was quite frustrating.

This year, no such issues. We exited where I’d suggested last year and would our way to Miller Park while there was still plenty of parking. As we were walking into the stadium at about 6:40, he suggested stopping in the Metavante Club for dinner.

To be honest, I don’t know much about the Metavante Club other than apparently we have a few passes for having the season tickets. It has a buffet, but there were no openings for the buffet until 7:30 (a problem for those of us who go to a game to actually, I don’t know, watch the game!) and a sit down restaurant of some sort. Whee, only “special” people are a obscene amount of money to eat a mediocre meal at the ballpark. I vetoed that one given the time. Good call, too, as we sat down with our dogs just before the national anthem.

Needless to say, I enjoyed the game. The Twins kicked some major rear end last night. Seriously – they bunted twice in a row and were safe on both. Tell me the last time you saw that happen – and I don’t mean in a little league game! The final score was 10-2, but the game wasn’t even that close.

Brewers fans in the past have always been pretty good baseball people, but they were quite abusive towards many Twins fans (granted, by the end of the game, some of the Twins fans deserved it). Worse, apparently they’re starting to turn into Cubs fans, as they started leaving the game during the fifth inning. By the end of the 7th, the stadium was more than half empty. Win or lose, you’ve gotta stick around for the whole game!

During the game, I also explained my internal scoring system to my husband who thought it was quite apt. Rather than the winning team be the one that scores the most runs, the winning team is the one that earns the most points. Runs count for two points, hits earn one, and errors are negative three points. Needless to say, for awhile it was 17 to -4, and my husband felt this much more accurately reflected the feel of the game than the traditional score. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll talk MLB into adopting it though (and yes, I adjust the scoring based on the level of baseball – high school only loses one point for errors since the error is that much more likely to translate into a run and thus would otherwise be penalized too heavily).

I’ve never claimed to be great at understanding certain things either. When crowds chant, it generally takes awhile to understand what they’re saying. We had a guy in our section chanting “What’s number 16?” and the crowd would reply “Beelzelbub” which made no sense to me. Unfortunately, having kids means that I don’t follow the Twins as closely anymore, so I can only assume that the Twins’ right fielder had some sort of odd devil tie.

It wasn’t until much later in the game that I discovered the crowd was actually replying, “He’s a bum!” Huh. That makes muuuuuch more sense, doesn’t it? Needless to say, my husband got a pretty big kick out of that.

Our plan had been to wait out the crowds after the game was over in the Fridays at the park. I hate rushing to the car and then sitting in the parking lot for an hour waiting to get out. I’d much rather have a treat in the park and wait there.

Funny, it’s only been since January 1, but already it seems so weird to walk in somewhere and see and smell people smoking. I totally forgot not everywhere is smoke-free. Bummer, really. But I’ll say that the Brownie Obsession my husband and I split almost made the smoke worthwhile. Pretty good stuff, especially since the brownie was only mostly cooked vs totally done. Yum! Of course, given that the majority of the crowd had left long before the game was over, I suppose we didn’t really have to stop at the Fridays, but once my husband gets an idea in his head….

It really is a shame that this is Fathers Day weekend though, as it would have been fun to head up to another game. I’d forgotten how fun they are. And really, my team kicking major rear had nothing to do with that assessment. Ok, maybe just a little.

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's The Fourth of July!

… or some of my neighbors apparently think.

While I admittedly live in the suburbs, it isn’t like I’m in the middle of unincorporated nowhere. Fireworks are illegal in Illinois. Some people near me don’t quite get this however.

For the past two years, the Fourth of July has been a month long celebration. Actually, I shouldn’t exaggerate. It only seems like a month. It’s generally been 11-13 days. And when I mean celebration, I mean one to two hours’ worth of fireworks going off on a nightly basis. These celebrations aren’t the cute little popping things but actual real large fireworks. And the celebrations go on until 11pm or later.

The first year we lived here, I closed the windows, gritted my teeth and put a pillow over my head – all to no avail unfortunately. I don’t tend to be one of those people who falls asleep easily and being irritated really prevents me from sleeping. And unfortunately, Little Miss is a lighter sleeper than I am and the least noise wakes her.

Last year, armed with the knowledge that the fireworks weren’t simply a one or two night occurrence, I decided to inform the local authorities if they got too bad. So on June 28 last year, we heard the first 45 minute celebration.

The next night, my husband took a bit of a drive in a neighborhood behind us. We found the culprits. In fact, it was really easy, as neighbors were dragging large coolers to their house. Nope there wasn’t going to be a loud series of fireworks that night or anything!

At 9:45 on the dot, the fireworks started going off. At that point, we realized that we didn’t know technically which police to call. We live right on the cusp of two counties (literally my neighborhood is half in one county and half in another). And there are three possible towns that neighborhood could be a part of or it could be one of the tiny bits of unincorporated land. Fortunately, when there are large fireworks parties going on, the police are quite helpful in tracking down who’s in charge.

About 20 minutes later, there was an abrupt ceasing of fireworks activity. And then twenty minutes later, I believe they let off their entire remaining stockpile at once. Neighbors down the street also apparently had some fireworks issues, as my husband saw the cops talking to them one night as he was trying to figure out who the moron was shooting off fireworks that close to our houses. Someone apparently didn’t like that idea either.

For the last two nights, we’ve had the random bottle rocket go off here and there at night, but nothing like what we saw last year. Then again, it’s only June 13, so maybe they’re practicing to be sure that the month long celebration is up to snuff.

However, it’s 3:45pm right now, and I’m currently hearing occasional fireworks. Isn’t the joy of fireworks seeing them? At night? When they’re visible due to lack of other light? Someone please explain.

And don’t get me wrong. I love fireworks. They’re gorgeous and fun and cool, and I love to see the new developments they’ve created each year. But not at 11pm when I’m trying to sleep. Night for a two week stretch. And definitely not in enough proximity to my house that I worry about one landing on my roof and starting a fire. Oh, and don’t get me started on the unattended large illegal burning people do sometimes by my parents’ house!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Neighbors Hate Me

I’m a nice person, I swear I am. But I’m also one of those neighbors. While my husband usually does a good job of keeping the lawn mowed and edged – as he likes to remind me, he worked for the parks and rec department when he was in high school – there are times when his schedule gets too busy to keep things up the way we want them to.

He has baseball announcing after teaching all day at school and doesn’t get home until late. Or he has a Scholastic Bowl match that keeps him away. Or it rains. Or he’s in a tournament. Or he decides the Monday before Memorial Day that this is the time to finally get the mower tuned up and its blades sharpened.

(My only comment is to ask – any guesses as to how many days it takes to service a non-emergency repair of a lawn mower at the end of May? 13 business days, in case anyone’s wondering. Ok, I’ll comment: I asked him in November of 2006 to take the mower in for servicing. He didn’t and didn’t service it at all last year. I asked him again after the first snowfall if he was going to take it in. Finally, the third lawn cut of the season showed that the grass was being ripped by the mower instead of cut nicely. He took it in. Grrrr.)

Plus, we have previous owners of our house (we’ve lived here for two years and four days now) did nothing to the landscaping. They didn’t trim, they didn’t weed, they didn’t mulch, they didn’t stop the volunteer trees. Inside had a lot of halfway done things, but outside was bad.

The first summer we were here, we trimmed back everything hugely in the vain idea that this would solve the problem and keep us looking ok. We realized that fall that things were growing faster than we could trim.

Last spring, I called a couple of landscaping companies to get a landscape design and some quotes. Apparently business was really good last year, as only two called me back. I had one come out and create a plan for us and give us a quote. They drew up lovely blueprints that mostly listened to what I had to say (other than ignoring my disdain for prairie grass). By the time they got out and drew up plans and reviewed them with me, it was already mid-June.

For the front quarter of our house, they gave me a price. I requested a price for the other three sides of my house, but I never heard from the guy again. Apparently my jaw dropping to the floor when he told me the front alone was going to be over $11,000 (yes, that’s eleven thousand dollars – American dollars, at that) alerted him to the fact that I wasn’t really going to use their services so he decided to ignore me.

Seriously, $11K. For one quarter of my house. I was afraid to see what they wanted for the rest of the house – where there were more plants, but I was afraid to ask. I never heard from them again, and I never did get that quote. Needless to say, landscaping didn’t happen last June after I got that design.

Last summer, I started working hard out there though. I decided that maybe it was possible to save the landscaping. I pulled out the 18’x18’ patch that had once been a swingset area (according to neighbors) and when we bought the house had housed the trampoline that they had owned. Needless to say, it was filled with weeds and old mulch and yuck. I’m proud to say that I pulled out every weed by hand and fully resodded it. And the sod took beautifully.

I also weeded every bit of the landscaping and cut back all the bushes so they weren’t so horribly overgrown and nasty. That way, I could also see the weeds to try to pull them out. I also began to pull out the yucky white rocks that had been put in 15 years ago for apparently decorative purposes. The huge pile that began appearing next to the garage was my first clue that my strategy wasn’t going to be successful.

At this point, I knew we were the eyesore of the neighborhood and people had to be talking about us.

I talked to another landscaping company who was willing to install the design we’d had created. However, I also realized that I wanted to try to save some of the tulip and daffodil bulbs that the previous owners had planted. We did put in a new brick paver sidewalk and stoop late last summer, but I had to wait until I could find the bulbs after they bloomed and then died back this spring before I could redo the landscaping.

Finally, I got a quote from the landscaper, I got quotes from two different nurseries – which took three weeks, much to my frustration – and had a time for my landscaper to show up. They were coming this Wednesday, and it would take them four to five days to finish the job. Yeah!

So Tuesday morning, I had just gotten out of the shower when I heard a diesel engine. It was way too early for Mister Man’s bus, so I peeked out between the blinds. Huh. It was the landscapers’ truck. They came a day early. I wasn’t about to tell them to go away, so thank God for the schoolteacher who was home and could deal with the landscapers while I finished getting ready.

Last night, the plants were placed in their positions, and I was able to move them around to my liking after I got home from my conference. Yep, using the moonlight to move plants and try to read blueprints was a trick. But I succeeded in getting them all arranged before I drove off at 7am this morning to get back to my conference.

And when I got home tonight? This is the sight that awaited me:

Seriously, three days to do ALL that work. These guys are fantastic. They pulled out all the old landscaping. They removed all the “decorative” rock. They removed the roots of the trees and shrubs. They edged. They widened the sidewalk and built two retaining walls. They dug out the clayey soil and replaced the topsoil. They picked up all my plants. They planted them, mulched them and watered them. Then they cleaned everything up. I mean there was not a stray water bottle top in sight. And the cost for the whole thing was thousands less than the quote for the front quarter of my yard. Anyone need a recommendation for landscapers? These guys ROCK!

Now when the neighbors slow down to stare at our house – which they have been doing the past few days – it’s for a good reason, not because they’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with the morons in the neighborhood who have the worst landscaping they’ve ever seen.

So even though the Fox River is starting to flood. And even though we were deluged last weekend, I’m praying for rain tonight! Two to three inches are predicted, but I don’t trust the weathermen!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I've Got Issues

Hello. My name is Michelle, and I’m addicted to TIVO. Actually, I’m addicted to ReplayTV, but whatever. Who doesn’t call it Tivo? With the exception of football and hockey, I don’t watch live tv. In fact, I prefer to watch football games that I’ve Tivo’ed. If I don’t have something saved, then obviously there’s nothing I need to watch.

I don’t have the tv on when the wee ones are around, so I do get enough of a stockpile for the times I want the tv on. When I’m home alone working, for example, I like to have something on in the background to keep me company.

This all works out well until the day that I turn the tv and the Tivo on and realize that it isn’t recording a show it’s supposed to be recording. And then I realize that I. Can’t. Watch. TV. Through. My. Tivo. It isn’t recognizing the signal. Panic begins to set in.

Granted, I got the ReplayTV for Christmas before Mister Man was born, so it’s over five years old. And my husband has been complaining for years that it doesn’t record in high def – primarily because high def didn’t exist way back in the Stone Age when we bought it. Err, he bought it. But I refuse to pay my cable company an additional $14 (plus tax, mind you) a month for the recording service.

This can’t be happening. I need my Tivo. I can’t watch tv live. It absolutely drives me nuts. Ok, it drives me nuts unless I’m in bed trying to fall asleep to the Food Network. Details.

Being at least moderately handy, I checked all the connections. They were all good – pulling them out and replugging them in didn’t help, either. Having it reconnect to the ReplayTV service didn’t do anything. *sigh*

I put the remote down and settled into a very quiet day of work.

When my husband arrived home with the wee ones, I implored him to fix it as soon as I finished my conference calls. Nice guy that he is, he dubiously agreed to try.

He got as far as I did. See, I told you he was dubious. Apparently for good reason.

I trudged off to my yoga class, disappointed that I was going to have to do something that involved spending money I didn’t want to spend.

When I got home, I discovered that my husband had continued to investigate and determined that it still wasn’t working.

Him: Well, all that’s left is to take it upstairs and try it on a different tv to see if it’s the cable box.
Me: Ok, ummm. Why haven’t you done that yet?
Him: Oh. Well. Uhhh.

He then proceeded to unhook it and take it upstairs. Yay, it worked upstairs! Boo, that meant that the video output on the cable box was malfunctioning. Yay, that meant all my husband had to do was take the cable box up to McHenry tomorrow and exchange it for a new one – provided that they had another one in stock when he got there (don’t ask, really don’t ask). Boo, I can’t set it up upstairs in the meantime because that would involve completely unhooking the modem and resetting up our wireless network. I’m pathetic enough to ask the question though. Rest assured, he gave me the look and confirmed that I was insane for asking if that was an option.

For some unknown reason, he decided to hook it up again until he took the cable box in. Maybe he just wanted to torture me. But somehow, somehow the act of hooking it all back up made it *gasp* work again! Whoo hoo! My Tivo capabilities are back.

One small problem though. The channel guide is all gone, and unless the Replay unit recognizes what tv shows are on, it won’t record anything. Apparently, that’s an easy fix though, and my husband did the exact steps I’d done two minutes before asking him to help me get that last piece fixed and … of course it worked for him. I swear they were the exact same steps though!

So now, I once again will be able to watch tv without having to deal with commercials. And my addition is again sated. I’m beginning to think that maybe this isn’t a good thing, however!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's Finally Summer

I know this because tonight was the first softball game of the season. Ahhhh, softball. To be able to pretend to be young again. Except for the prayers for no injuries before the game.

Yep, I’m in a church league. The various churches around my town play a non-competitive league where each church is a different team. We play every Tuesday for 8 weeks at the local park district, which means lights and real fields – a bonus, trust me. The home team provides the ump (and I’m proud to say that my husband is the team’s preferred ump), and we all do it in fun.

Except for one team – the Lutherans. I don’t think it’s a Lutheran thing; it’s just their coach. They’re the only team in the league where the coach isn’t a member of the team. He doesn’t even have a wife who plays on the team. But man, is he into it! For years, they were the best team in the league, or so I’ve been told. Last year was my first year in the league, and we beat their pants off. It wasn’t always pretty, as the coach gets a bit intense, but we beat them handily last year. And I’m really just being vain if I pretend that my playing last year had anything to do with beating them.

Even though I’m shopping for churches, I’m still playing with the Catholic church this year. In fact, I may have to beg to play with them again next year, as the Episcopalians are the one church I know if in town without a team. I don’t know that I’m quite up to starting a team from scratch, nor do I know that there’d be enough interest. But shhhh the team doesn’t know that I’m shopping for a new church. Yet.

So the team I play on apparently requested to play the Lutherans in the first game of the year. Amazingly, we had 16 women show up – for anyone who doesn’t play softball, this never happens. Our two coaches from last year weren’t able to make it, as they were both coaching their daughters’ teams, but that’s ok when you have so many others make it.

Since we didn’t have strong coaches on hand, the Lutherans took the field for infield practice before the game, even though we were home team and technically, it was ours to practice. But we’re Christian and don’t make an issue of it.

The game is a good one, as it usually is between us. First inning was 1-0 them. Second inning, we broke out for 5 runs. Third inning, we gave back three. Fourth inning, we gave back another two. And there it stayed at 6-5 for the next two innings. Unfortunately, the only reason that they had the lead was that our third baseman and shortstop both had bad innings.

My first two at bats were nothing to right home about. I tried the “Judy” bat my first at bat, since everyone on the team raves about it. I found out the hard way that it’s too short for me. And sadly, I vaguely remember learning that the hard way last year, too. The next at bat, the stud left fielder caught my beautifully hit ball. And the right fielder caught an even better hit ball the next time up – right fielders aren’t supposed to be able to catch in non-competitive softball leagues! My next at bat, I finally got it down and had a sweet single up the middle.

By the time we ended the sixth inning, it was just after 8:30. Our games are supposed to start at 7 on the dot (ours didn’t) and end at 8:30 so that the next team can play (no team waiting for the field). We also had an injury timeout, as one woman slid into third and jammed her ankle badly, and that took a good 10 to 15 minutes to get her stabilized and off the field. See, I told you we prayed for no injuries. Apparently we didn’t pray hard enough tonight!

Given the situation, we asked if they wanted to play the last inning. Their coach didn’t care one way or the other, and the team finally agreed to play. Rally caps went on for my team. They may only be visors, but you can turn those things upside down and backwards just as well as a regular ballcap!

One went down easy – short to first. The second batter reached on an error. The third batter fielders choiced the second batter at two. The fourth batter, also short to first. Phew!

And somehow, we started hitting. We got runners on. Eventually we reached two out, but we’d scored one run and tied the game. And yep, you guessed it, it was my turn to bat again. Gotta love that pressure. Of course, I didn’t realize that we’d already scored a run, as I’d been checking on our injured player when I realized I was on deck. It’s all good. I hit a single and managed to score another run, which ended the game. Yay!

And the first words out of the coach’s mouth? “Really, we won. This inning doesn’t count. Say what you want, but we won.” Ummm, dude, noncompetitive league and you agreed to play the last inning. Oh and we don’t count wins and losses.

When I got home and told my husband about the game, I asked if he could guess what team we played given their reaction at the end. Yeah… he sorta nailed it on the first try. Then again, the teams in our league don’t hold a candle to the unsportsmanlike activities I regularly witness at his games. Silver lining!

Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm Not *That* Talented!

Among my group of friends, I’m known as the cook, the one who likes to cook and bake. I’m the one who hosts the birthday parties at home and makes the homemade cakes. I enjoy it, and I like to do it for people.

When it comes time for playgroup, people always make sure to show up when it’s at my house, as they know that they’re guaranteed enough food to skip dinner that night. In fact, one friend insists her husband stay late at work on nights I host playgroup.

I’ve had the same playgroup since Mister Man was a few months old. Our group has grown and shrunk and grown again. There are only a few of us who remain from the original group, but we’re all good friends. Until earlier this year, we met every Monday at someone’s house. Now that we all have two children who are involved in a variety of activities, it’s down to once a month. I miss having it every week and seeing all of them as often, but I’ll admit that it was getting really hectic to try to make it every week.

Today was my day, and I have to live up to my reputation. I had planned on making a bunch of food, but I ended up having an unexpected mandatory call for work from 3 to 3:45, while I was planning to get ready for playgroup from 3 to 4:15. Needless to say, it became a bit rushed.

The good news is that I’d planned ahead a little and made cookies the night before. It wasn’t my banana cake or chocolate ├ęclairs or chocolate cherry chip brownies, but they were homemade at least. I also had made a batch of bread dough a little after noon that was rising.

I ended up making homemade bagel dogs and pizza with the dough. In fact, I realized that I had no sauce in the house (whoops!), so it was truly homemade pizza – homemade dough, homemade sauce, homemade cheese. Oh, just kidding there was no homemade cheese.

After that, I cheated. I cut up cheese and put out crackers. I washed the mongo strawberries I bought at 7:30 this morning. I put out pita chips, although I had forgotten to get hummus. Ironically, I bought salsa but forgot chips, so it sort of evened out.

Partway though the playgroup, the following conversation ensued:

Friend A: This is all really good.
Me: Thanks!
Friend A: By the way, what is this white creamy dip? It’s my favorite!
Me: Uhhhh, you mean the Cool Whip?

Apparently my friends have too high of expectations for me. While I do occasionally whip cream myself, I wouldn’t do it for small kids at playgroup. And I had intended to make a yogurt dip for the strawberries but ran out of time. I’m definitely not capable of recreating the creamy goodness of Cool Whip, however!

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