Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Birthday #1

Ok, I didn't get a picture of the unexpected birthday dinner on Monday, but I was prepared today. And imagine that, I saved the hat. HA!

Now picture a 38 year old and a 64 year old wearing these hats while eating fruity desserts. Yeah... hard to do, but do your best.

At least everyone liked the cake. Working from home has its benefits. And being able to make homemade cakes (I go for taste not looks) is one of them. The frosting was essentially fudge. I really prefer the cooked icings, as they take away the raw taste of powdered sugar and are much deeper and more caramely. And rich, so we still have about a half a piece after 12 people had cake tonight.

Happy Birthday, hubby! Love ya! (Even though you don't read my blog because I refuse to give you the address)

I was only supposed to get him to wear the hat or use my camera but not both. Somehow I got both. And he kept the hat on. And kept it on. Finally (and I mean twenty minutes later), one of the five year olds asked if he could try it on and my husband gave it up. I think he secretly really liked it!

Ok, and I have to give my caveats.

Don't look at our deck. It REALLY needs to be restained and I have quotes for it but can't quite understand yet why I need to pay almost $1500 to have it looking good so I have yet to actually schedule it.

And it rained today. As in I had to turn on lights while working at 2pm because it was so dark and stormy out. Some of the mess on the deck is the still drying puddles of rain, not grease.

And if you see the melted siding in the background of the last picture, that was not us. The previous owners were morons and put their grill there. And melted the siding. And yes, it's also on my list, but that gets done at the same time we replace all our windows, and I haven't pulled the trigger on that one either yet. 32 windows and four sliders makes for an obscene quote.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yeah, I Really Did Go There

Last night, my husband announced that this was his twenty year class reunion.

Granted, I was tired -- up at 5:30 to get to the office, 10 hours of working, driving home in horrible traffic, dinner with the wee ones, my husband and my parents, and I was beat.

Me: You graduated from high school twenty years ago? WOW.
Him: NO. It's my high school reunion.
Me: Oh, I suppose that makes more sense.
Him: Do you even know how old I am?
Me: Yes. (thinking quickly and doing math -- fortunately 1970 is an easy subtraction)
Him: Really?
Me: Yes. On Thursday, you'll be six years older than me.
Him: It isn't six years. It's five and a third.
Me: Whatever. Thirty-eight minus thirty-two is six. So are you going to go?
Him: No. But I did find out some interesting things about old classmates.
Me: I'll bite. Like what?
Him: The guy next to me in the yearbook is now a news reporter in Iowa for W-H-O.
Me: Umm, The Ho? What kind of a tv station is that?
Him: (cracking up and unable to talk)
Me: What? That's what you said. The Ho.
Him: (struggling to breathe) WHO. Not Ho, W-H-O

In my defense, I automatically dropped the W. It's like the radio station Jack is WJMK. I don't even think about the W or the K. But WHO makes much more sense. I suppose. Especially in Iowa, I don't see a station called The Ho going over too well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Birthday Boys

On my way home from work last night, my husband called and asked if I'd meet them for dinner. They were at the pool and planned to have dinner near there afterwards.

Since it was sushi Monday and they were talking about going to said restaurant, I was fine with it. They also do tepanyaki, so I figured the wee ones would eat the chicken and rice, as well as some of the veggies.

While I waited for my family at the restaurant (neither 6:45 nor 5 minutes actually means that when they're at the pool, and I should know that), I took a look at the signs on the outside. One mentioned that they now have a birthday special. This was one you didn't have to sign up online for, you just show your ID. And it's valid for a week before and a week after birthdays.


We're currently entering the week 'o birthdays around here. We get eased into it with my mom's birthday on the first of July. Then we have my husband's on July 31, Little Miss's on August 1, and my dad's on August 3. Each insists on his own cake. Each insists on his own celebration. The only good news is that my procrastination means that the leftover cake from Little Miss's friends party won't come until August 16, so I'll only have three cakes in the house at one time.

Needless to say, my dad and husband both got free dinners (ok, they got $15 off their dinners because they ordered expensive ones). And they were supposed to get Kobe cake, whatever that was.

As a side note, Mister Man loved the miso soup, while Little Miss wouldn't try it. They both devoured their chicken and rice. And Little Miss ate all her broccoli. Mister Man ate some of his carrots. They both enjoyed their rainbow sherbert and shared mine. Who would have thought that they liked green tea ice cream? It surprised me, but let's just say that I only got a couple small bites, which isn't the worst thing in the world!

At the end of the meal, both wee ones were pretty tired, and Mister Man decided he was chilly. The two of us went outside to warm up. After a few minutes, my husband came outside saying they were trying to do the birthday cake for him and for my dad. By that point, I had assumed the scoops of ice cream was the dessert and had forgotten all about the cake.

We walked back in and sat down, but my mom and Little Miss were missing. Not surprisingly, they had headed to the bathroom for the second time. Little Miss loves going to the bathroom in every restaurant or public place we go to. We waited several minutes before I finally went to go check on them.

Needless to say, Little Miss was going to be awhile. Given the hour, we decided to go ahead with the cake without them. We flagged down the waitress, and the singing began. And the colored disco lights. And the balloon hats. Oh yeah, and the cake.

The cake was on a huge plate and was a pink heart. I think it was a strawberry ice cream torte (I wasn't offered a taste). There was also a beautiful glass filled with banana pudding decorated with greens inside it and peach slices, etc across the top. My dad and husband dug into their second (and third) desserts.

Shortly thereafter, Mister Man said he was chilly and wanted to go warm up again. I got up to take him outside. Until I got the protest from my husband.

Him: You cannot leave me and your dad sitting here in these goofy hats by ourselves eating our birthday cakes. It's bad enough as it is, but the pathetic old men can't sit alone here.

He makes a good point. After giggling, I sat back down as they finished. But the picture of the two of them sitting alone at this HUGE hibachi with silly balloon hats, hunched over their tiny little pink heart cakes.... Of all the times to not have my camera with me. My apologies for not giving you a better visual.

And yes, I tried to convince them both that this was their birthday dinner and that I was off the hook for the rest of the week. No such luck!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Luddite or Cheap, Take Your Pick

I like technology. I've just never been an early adopter.

I was one of the last people I knew who got a cell phone. Ironically, I haven't had a landline in three years. The only reason I have a computer at home is because my husband bought me one (actually two in the last six years). I have purchased only one tv ever, and that was a flat screen my husband made me (ok us) buy almost two years ago. The Tivo I have is a Christmas present from I think five years ago. It doesn't record in digital, and you can't watch another channel when recording something. My iPod was a Christmas gift from my husband and is a first generation one from years ago.

I do realize that many of the technology items I have -- including my cell phone -- have newer siblings that have cooler features. I even covet some of those features, including the new Tivo type ones. But I can't bring myself to upgrade when my current versions work perfectly fine. You know the saying... if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

I'm starting to have a problem with my iPod, however. I've used it for years to listen to music when traveling for work or hanging out at home when I need to be quiet due to the wee ones napping or while working in the office. It's always done what I need it to do, and that's all good.

This spring, I started running. I found a running program that would get me from HA! to actually running 5K (my goal) in nine weeks -- you'll notice that I didn't say nine easy weeks. It involved running increasing distances in shorter intervals. You had your choice of running a distance or for a length of time. Considering I was running in my neighborhood, time was the only real choice. But looking at a watch every five seconds to see if I was done didn't seem very productive to me.

I put off starting the program until I discovered that some brilliant person had created podcasts that told you what to do when and played music during your runs. Problem solved, and I quickly started my program. (Quickly being when I started doing it, not how fast I was running of course.)

About week 3, I noticed that my iPod would freeze in the middle of the podcast once or twice and then keep going after twenty to thirty seconds. I tried redownloading the podcasts, but that didn't help. Then the podcast started freezing with a few minutes left in my run. I'd guess at how much time I had left to run, but that was just not good.

In my research, I discovered how to reset the iPod because it got to the point where my iPod wouldn't turn off or anything -- for reference, turn the lock switch on then off, then hold down the up part of the wheel until it turns off. I can now do this without looking at my iPod while running at 6mph.

That's a skill I could do without.

I'm slowly beginning to realize that my iPod will need to be replaced. But when listening to music, it works fine. It's only those longer podcasts that cause the problem. And I will say that the people I hear about downloading their favorite tv shows and watching them whenever they have spare time or oh I don't know while running on a treadmill make me a bit jealous.

But much like my car (which also needs replacing), it's hard for me to just toss off something that's been with me a long time. I'm loyal that way -- to friends, to work, to my family -- and that's not a bad thing.

Then people go and throw this new technology in my face and make me drool. The SITS girls are giving away a new 4G iPod Nano in silver. Yep, it's that latest and greatest thing, and now I want one. I was doing ok until I actually saw the picture of it. Until I read the 4 hours of video and 1,000 songs, not to mention the 3,500 pictures. Until I realized that the battery on my iPod was again dead even though I charged it two days ago.

Maybe I'll slip a hint to my husband that I want a new one for my birthday. Of course, well before then I'm pretty sure that I'll have given up on Mr. Freezy and will be listening to the random music and commercials and "Will Liz Thomas please report to the childcare center. Liz Thomas, thank you" that feeds throughout the health club where I run.

Or a girl could always dream and actually win the iPod from the SITS girls....

Sunday, July 27, 2008

How Being Lazy Can Benefit You

And other true statements, when taken out of context.

A couple of you have recently asked questions about the Supper Swapping that my family does (and btw, I love seeing the comments -- thanks!). It's something that I actually first heard about on the blog Because I Said So! She hosted Trish Berg on a "blook tour" last September.

The whole concept sounded pretty cool. You cook once a week for families you know and deliver food to them, and they cook for you on their assigned nights. That means more home cooked meals for less effort -- really, if you're going to make a marinated chicken, how hard is it to toss in a few more chicken breasts?

The other benefit that Trish points out is that you can potentially save a whole lot of money. If you're having food brought to you, you're less likely to eat out, which makes sense. On top of that, though, when you're cooking for 8 or 12 or 16 instead of 4, you can buy more bulk foods which by their nature cost less money.

Oh yeah, and when your child decides that he doesn't like dinner that night, it wasn't you cooking, so you don't have to be offended! Plus, you'll discover foods your kids like that you'd never imagine. Mister Man's new favorite food is cabbage rolls. I honestly didn't think he'd even try them, but he loved them. In fact, when we were at that friend's house for dinner a few weeks ago, he unsolicitedly thanked her for making them and told her how much he loved them. And we had them three months ago.

Before I started, my biggest challenge I thought was going to be anyone who would do it with me. Ideally, you want to do it with people who live near you (or work with you) so that delivery is easy. Ideally, you want to cook for families who'll eat around the same amount of food you do so that it's fair for everyone. Otherwise, those savings mentioned above won't really happen for you.

I asked two families who have the same number of children around the same age who live in my neighborhood. I posed the question totally in a non-pressure situation, and to my surprise, both families agreed to give it a try. We decided to try it out for one month, at which point any of us could drop out with no hard feelings. We also agreed to sit down and plan out three months worth of meals so that we could just keep going if we all liked it.

I chose to cook on Tuesdays, D cooks on Wednesdays, and A cooks on Thursdays. Since Mister Man had Language Stars from 4:05 to 5:30 on Tuesdays, I delivered my meals uncooked around 3:45 with cooking instructions. D works from home on Wednesdays, and A is off on Thursdays, so both delivered their meals cooked between 5 and 5:30. You can be totally flexible like that.

In fact, a few times we delivered meals the night before because we had things going on the day we were supposed to cook. We've also swapped days and skipped weeks because things came up. We agreed that we're fine with that, and you just have to come up with the appropriate agreement.

We plan our meals out three months in advance. We'll take about three hours on a Saturday to sit down with our cookbooks and recipe cards and other ideas. We print out calendars to write down who's cooking what each week, and then I type it up and distribute it. The calendars also include who wants what changed on their particular meal (e.g., for my Mile High Tortilla Pie, D gets no black beans and A is light on the black beans, while I get no mushrooms in a particular dish).

For each meal, we do a main course and then a side dish or dessert. The side dish can be as simple as rice (although we've since learned that A's family doesn't like plain rice, so that is now out of the running) or fruit or a salad or as complex as a homemade ice cream cookie or homemade Spanish rice or whatever! Some of the sides end up being premade (e.g., biscuits from a mix or a salad mix from the grocery store), and that's fine. You can choose what you want to make if that means just an entree or including a vegetable each meal or never doing dessert. It's all about what works for you.

The first time we sat down, we talked about what we like and don't like and what we can't do. D's husband doesn't do fish, so we haven't had fish for any meal. D's son is lactose intolerant, so I did my corn chowder on a week when D was out of town. A's husband doesn't like raw onions, so we avoid those. I'm not a big fan of pork, so we only do a super yummy crock pot pork roast that D makes. When we choose recipes, we all have veto rights, and no one takes offense to any of it.

After that, we've sat down with the "old" recipes and decide which are keepers and which aren't. Sometimes they surprise you. I didn't think the cabbage rolls D made would be, but we all loved them. I thought my kefta kabobs would be a winner, but only my family likes them. No worries though! We do repeats, but we also introduce new recipes each session. Oh, and we generally ensure they're recipes we've made before so that we don't have any whoops recipes.

We serve the dishes in dishes that we each own. We all have Pyrex in a variety of sizes, and that's the primary serving vehicle. We don't worry about returning the exact dish, as we'll all get them back eventually as the swapping continues. Some of the items we serve in Tupperware and the like. Those we try to label with our names if we want them back, but we don't really stress about it. In Trish's book, she has a whole pan formula to ensure you always have enough pans to swap.

For the summer, we decided to cook once every other week since we're all so busy, and that works for us. Come September, I expect that we'll go back to every week. We also decided that once a month, we'd have a barbeque at one of our houses in place of the traditional supper swap. It's actually at my house on Thursday for my husband's birthday. It's a nice way for the whole families to spend some time together, which we don't get to do as often as we like otherwise.

Everyone's group will be different, and that's part of the fun of it. We've talked about finding a fourth member and doing cooking Monday to Thursday, but we haven't explored it yet. Some groups have people drop out and new people come in, as it truly is a fluid and flexible concept. It won't work for everyone, and that's ok. Some groups cook twice a week, so that have food more often. Again, whatever works for you.

It's a bit nerve-wracking to have other people eating your cooking. Especially when you realize you made a mistake, as A did once time with her lasagne. She doubled the recipe for all of us but forgot to double the sauce, so it was a little dry. But it's was fine. And sometimes, you get a phone call around dinner time and panic only to find out that it's one of the girls calling to compliment your restaurant quality meal. Now that's a great way to end a day!

If you have any questions about the supper swapping, let me know, and I'll do what I can to help. Trish Berg wrote a book that was my bible (until it mysteriously disappeared just before we were going to start up our group!), and it's also a great resource. She's got a ton more experience with this than I do!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Choo-Choo Coming Through

You know how sometimes you see something or read about it or hear about it and it becomes a dream? You fantasize about how cool it will be or how much fun you'll have. You plan to go there or do that, and you count down the days.

Then you actually go.

And the dream is dead.

My dad had read an article in the paper a few months ago about the Choo-Choo cafe. It's a diner in Des Plaines that has a train track going around the counter and delivers the food on a train. Train themed, near the train tracks. My dad couldn't wait to go.

About once a week, he'd ask me when we were going, and I kept putting him off because we had other things we were doing. But I realized that yesterday would be the perfect day to go. I wasn't working, Mister Man and Little Miss had soccer camp in the morning and were done just before lunch, and we had no plans in the afternoon. We made a date for yesterday.

We made it to the train station just before the train arrived. Camp ran a little long the last day, and my husband was freaking out that we were going to miss the train. (Ok, so we miss the train. We can drive.) We boarded the train, and the wee ones were fascinated by all the things they saw out the windows.

When we got off the train, I discovered that my dad and husband were a bit turned around by the map. I saw a mom with some boys who looked like they might be going to the same place, asked and got confirmation. We followed them. And soon, we saw:

Being that we arrived at about 11:50, it was a touch busy. From what I've heard, it's pretty much busy from 10:30 (when it opens) on. There's no hostess. There are maybe 12 booths that seat 4 each. There are maybe 12 counter seats. People being the rude and selfish creatures that they are, there's no order and people would just jump on any open table after weaseling their way into the restaurant without regard to the five parties that had arrived ahead of them.

I felt bad. There was a table that became vacant maybe 5 minutes after we got there, and I wouldn't let my husband sit there because we weren't next. A group that came in WAY after us instead grabbed it. And since they were a party of 8, they then took the next booth that opened up. My dad is sure that fistfights break out on a regular basis.

While you're waiting, they have a little yellow train ride like the ones outside Wal-Mart that jiggle forward and back. Since it's free and just has an on-off switch, you can imagine the issues that arise. The wee ones had a short turn, as we made them get off to allow other children a turn. The mom who brought her 8 and 10 year old extremely obese children (and I mention this because this is a toy designed for maybe up to 6) climbed aboard together -- the ten year old couldn't fit in the seat, so she sat on the back of it while her brother sat in the seat.

They didn't get out the rest of the time we were waiting. Their mom finally made the daughter get off so Mister Man could climb in with her son for all of thirty seconds, then Mister Man climbed out and Little Miss had her thirty second turn before it was the other kids' turns again.

Did the wee ones need to ride in it more? No, not really, but I hate it when parents don't teach their children to think of others at all -- and I was already irritated by the three year olds at the park who had blocked Little Miss from going down the slide and swore at her and called her names then did the same to my dad before he found their moms and let them know what was going on. they were totally oblivious chatting on their cell phones and had no idea what their children were doing. I'm sure this was the first time something like this had happened.

Back to the Choo-Choo: We did finally get a booth, and we ordered our typical diner food. I will say that they make a mean milkshake. And the cheeseburger was fine. Having it arrive via train was fascinating to the kids. The angle where we sat didn't give me a good shot of it, as I'm not nearly fast enough, but you can sort of get the idea.

The coolest part (other than the food being delivered by train) was that they had cupcakes with train whistles pushed into the top. These also came via train, and all the kids I saw with them thought they were way cool.

Unfortunately, we had no shot at getting said cupcakes. My dad and husband insisted we had to catch the 1:04 train back home (why we couldn't take our time and get the 2:04, I'm not quite sure). We hustled out of there so quick, Mister Man had to grab some of his food in his hands to eat as we jogged down the street.

The good news is that although the gates went down, we did manage to catch our train. The gates came down for a train going into Chicago, not going north. Mister Man was crushed as we stood on the platform and watched that train go. He thought we were supposed to be on it and was so sad we missed it.

It was totally campy, and the kids loved it. There's no order, so you have to be aggressive. My dad will never and I do mean NEVER go there again. I'd be willing to do it, but I'm not going to rush around like we did this time. And we're definitely getting the cupcakes!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Next Mia Hamm

... is not coming from our family! But they had fun at soccer camp this week.

I signed up for this particular camp because a friend of mine had done it with her daughter (Mister Man's age last summer, and her daughter had enjoyed it. Mister Man can definitely use some organized sports for a number of reasons -- the benefit it has for him for fine motor, the learning to play with other kids, the understanding that it's ok to not be the best and do something because it's fun anyway, etc.

The good news is that they both enjoyed the camp. Since I stretched the truth a bit when saying Little Miss was 3, they were in separate camps. Little Miss went from 9-9:50, and Mister Man went from 10-10:50. While one was doing the camp, the other one would play at the park adjacent to the soccer fields. Someone was thinking when designing this field!

The camps were small. Five children in Mister Man's camp, and seven for Little Miss. She had two instructors, so the ratio was great, and the instructors were really enthusiastic and related well to the kids. I actually looked up last night to see if they offered any more camps this summer, but no such luck (ok, one next week in Buffalo Grove but I'm not driving that far!).

We didn't know anyone in Mister Man's class, and that was ok. Two girls we know were in Little Miss's class, however. One was from her preschool last year -- the one my mom dislikes intensely because of her gorgeous flowing curly hair and the younger daughter of my friend who had recommended it. Anabel enjoyed the class and would regularly call out to her mom "Look at me!" which was really cute. But my poor friend. Bianca absolutely would not go near the soccer field. All week long (ok, except yesterday), my friend came to the soccer fields with her two daughters and tried unsuccessfully to cajole Bianca into doing camp. I felt badly for her, but what can you do?

Little Miss really got it from the get go. She figured out how to stop the balls, on her first try she got the backwards kick thing, and she was fast after the ball when they had races.

She looks tough and like she knows what she's doing, doesn't she? And yes, I know the t-shirt is way too big. They didn't have a choice in sizes for the camp t-shirt. I had her tied up like Daisy Duke for awhile because I was afraid she was going to trip, but she'd have none of it.

Mister Man had a slightly harder time with it. He is not a natural athlete, and he doesn't exactly have a killer instinct. The first day of camp, he flopped on the ground when a boy beat him to the ball in a race because it wasn't fair. (Due to work, I was there only for Tuesday's and today's sessions.) Apparently, my husband forgot to explain that soccer is a game where you're trying to beat the other person. And that you won't always win. Fortunately, he picked up on that part pretty quickly and was fine (mentally) after that.

Not exactly the soccer pictures you'd expect from an expert, but he had fun. It was really great to see him so excited about playing soccer.

And it was pretty neat to see them kicking the ball around together with Daddy refereeing when we got to the fields a few minutes early this morning. We were the only people who played beforehand. Everyone else either showed up late or sat on picnic tables waiting to be called to the field by coaches. I love it when kids have passion.

Interestingly though, when I asked the wee ones at the end of the camp who was sad that camp was over, Mister Man was bummed and wanted to keep going to soccer. Little Miss, on the other hand, had fun at the camp but decided that she was tired of soccer because she "was done with it" -- whatever that means!

My other favorite thing from this week was my discovery on Tuesday. As I mentioned, I could only go to the camp on Tuesday and today, so my husband took them the rest of the time. On Tuesday, I went to put Mister Man's cleats on him just before his session started. He has cleats only because we were at our church rummage sale, and they had some great cleats for $0.75 a pair. They were worn maybe a couple times only.

I never put them on him, however. Take a look at the picture. Ten points to whoever figures out the problem first.

I immediately called my husband to ask if those were the cleats that he'd worn on Monday or if he'd somehow changed things up with the other pair we'd purchased at said rummage sale. Nope, these are the cleats he wore Monday. Poor kid!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our New Obsession

And I do mean "Our." Sometimes you just know the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

My son is so like me in many ways.

One of my favorite things to do is to complete a to do list. I actually will write items that I've already completed onto a to do list just so that I can cross them off. A white board is nice so that I can reuse it (thanks to my SIL for giving me a portable one for Christmas two years ago), but sometimes it's not as satisfying to erase something as to scratch it off.

Mister Man is the same way. He loves order and having things done the right way.

When reading through Tip Junkie last week, I spotted the various types of chore charts that people (those creative ones anyway) had put together. As I thought about it, I realized that this could possibly work well for us in many ways.

1) I hate whining. Two and four year olds whine when they're nagged to do something. And when they're tired. Or hungry. Or bored. Or really sometimes for no good reason at all, but I digress.

2) There are things we forget to do some days that really ought to be done.

3) One of Mister Man's favorite things to do is practice reading. EVERYthing.

The only problem was that I'm not nearly that crafty. And cheap (my friend's prefer to call it frugal, but tomato/tomato, I think).

As I continued to peruse her site, I discovered a version that I thought I could handle. Plus, my dad LOVES and constantly eats popsicles. As in a couple boxes a week. And Mister Man loves to use the leftover (washed) sticks to make things when he's playing with his trains.


Mister Man and I had fun deciding what his jobs were. Some were easy, like putting away breakfast/lunch/dinner dishes away. Others are ones he needs to do that we aren't always the best at, like practicing piano. And we just gave him the job of checking the cats' food and water every day. Oh yeah, and making sure the toys are picked up every night before bed. All in all, there are a little over ten, although most are ones he's been doing for a long time.

I am debating whether or not to put clear nail polish atop the Sharpie writing. I've already learned that they smear if you get them a little wet. Fortunately, Mister Man doesn't seem to mind.

The first thing he does in the morning is run over to the chore sticks and plop the "dirty clothes in hamper" into the YES cup. He's so proud of himself for doing his jobs, and there's no whining about them. If I need him to do something, I just direct him to the sticks, and he figures it out himself.

His are all red popsicle sticks. See, I know my children well. As soon as Little Miss saw that Mister Man got jobs to do and had sticks that he could put into a YES cup, she wanted her own. She can't read, and many of their chores (dirty and clean clothes in the appropriate places, dishes into the dishwasher, toys put away, etc) are the same. Color coding was the easy answer. Hers are all purple, and everyone's happy. Mister Man is even willing to share his YES cup.

On Tuesday night, my mom watched the wee ones while I went to my softball game and my husband was our umpire for the night (and a very serious one, I might add!). She put the wee ones to bed, and all was well.

About ten minutes later, she heard the door to Mister Man's room opening. She assumed he had to go to the bathroom or get a drink, but she went up to check on him anyway. She saw him walking down the hallway taking off his clothes.

Grandma: Mister Man, are you hot?
Mister Man: No.
Grandma: Uhhh, what are you doing then?
Mister Man: I forgot to take a shower, and I want to put my stick into the YES cup.
Grandma: Sweetie, it's too late tonight. We can count the washdown you had after swimming as your shower. How's that?
Mister Man: Ok.

Oh, and I found him still mostly undressed Wednesday morning. Awww, such a sweet kid, right?


Happy day! My system board came in today, and it was replaced in my computer. I can once again unplug my computer and not have it instantly lose whatever I was working on. Yay! Now I just need to figure out why it keeps randomly turning on the screen saver as I'm working. Gotta love typing and a black screen suddenly appearing!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Passing Along The Joy

Four o'clock came and went today, and my pay it forward contest has ended. Yay to the 13 people who entered (really, only 13 -- odds are good, people!). You were good sports, and I got some good guesses and info on the delicious variety of Asian food I won from Parking At Home -- thank you again!

I will say that I've been enjoying many of the boxed items for lunch when I don't have the time to make something real. And when I've neglected to go to the store to buy something that is tasty and also suitable for lunch.

My favorite is the anchovy rice noodle soup. You might agree with me if you tasted it, but I don't think that many of you would agree to taste it in the first place!

The good news is that the food I've tasted thusfar has been yummy AND easy to deal with. I've figured out that the ones in containers are dehydrated soup type foods and just need to be filled to the line inside with hot water. That I can do.
And yes, the apple candies are REALLY apple-y. In fact, I'm going to send along a few of those to share with my pay it forward winner. Feel the love!

And according to my friend's mom, the mystery food that I couldn't decide if it was like oatmeal or something else may have multiple purposes. As originally intended, it is a breakfast food. It's roasted brown ride porridge. And no, I haven't tried that one yet. However, Parking At Home is also right in that frequently it's just crumbled up atop other soups, etc.

Parking at Home was also correct that the second mystery item was ramen noodles. I haven't made those yet, either, but I loved ramen when I was a poor college student, so I'm looking forward to trying the "real" stuff.

And now... for the unveiling of my mystery prize!

First, I have three books that I hope the winner will enjoy. Sandra Brown is one of those authors who writes a pretty entertaining novel that's really brain candy. I haven't had much of a chance to read since ummm my wee ones were born, but fingers crossed this will be passable. The Life of Pi is actually a book club book, so it's been read by me and has some underlining in it (sorry!) but it's a really thought provoking book while being a good read.

Second, I have some books for a small child. These are two that my wee ones enjoyed, and they aren't the most common. Crawlies Creep is a popup book where the creepy crawlies demonstrate their prowess (the owl blinks, the crocodile snaps, etc). I always loved pop ups! I'll Teach My Dog a Lot of Words is Mister Man's favorite. It was the first book he read by himself (outside the Bob books)!

Four refrigerator magnets are the next part of the prize. I thought they were so cute and homey. This is where having a stainless steel fridge doesn't work out so well.

Who doesn't need a cute little stuffed bunny? I never got into the collecting of Beanie Babies (my stuffed animal collection was already too large), but I always think they're so cute!

I know Little Miss loves carrying around purses, and the winner has a daughter (oooo, how's that for a clue?). I thought this striped tote would be perfect for her.

Now I have to hope the winner is Christian. Or at least celebrates Christmas. I love the old fashioned Washington Post look, and this ornament perfectly captured the look. I know I'm five months off, but preparation is a good thing, right?

And lastly, you all know about my apple-y candies. I'm going to share a handful of these with ...

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:10
Timestamp: 2008-07-23 22:42:07 UTC

The tenth commenter was a new visitor to my blog: Shelly Overlook of Scenic Overlook! Congratulations, Shelly! I hope you like your prize. Remember to pay it forward with your own contest. Your prize won't be in the mail tomorrow, as I'll be in the office, but I'll try to get it out on Friday.

And if I ever receive my second PIF prize, I'll do the second PIF contest. However, I haven't heard from the contest sponsor since getting the first email saying I won (I did follow up once), so maybe not.

Tomorrow, we'll be back to our regularly scheduled blogging! Here's hoping that some of the new readers come back to visit again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Magneto's Daughter

Quick reminder that tomorrow (Wednesday) is your last chance to enter my pay it forward contest for a fabulous mystery prize. Check out the prize I won, too! I've been rather enjoying my noodle soup lunches the past several days!


I have some sort of special force field around me. I swear I do.

Watches never last more than a year or so before they conk out. I've given up on the nice expensive fancy ones. They last no longer than the $12.99 cheap-o's at Target.

I have the same problem with laptops.

I'm nice to my laptops, I swear. I don't drop them. I don't spill things into them. I don't expose them to excessively high or low temperatures. I don't let the wee ones touch them. I don't download programs or do any other funky things that we're admonished not to do to keep our computers safe. In fact, I'm even responsible enough to use the laptop cable when at work (picture a bicycle lock but for a computer).

But they just flat out don't like me back.

When I was a management consultant, I went through over 13 computers in the course of just over three years. Granted, travel can be a little hard on laptops, but I protected mine adequately, and I more than outpaced anyone else in the need for laptop replacements.

My first day at work for consulting, I picked up my laptop and flew out to the orientation. When I had a chance to turn on the laptop that evening, it was dead. It never worked, and laptop number two was shipped to me.

I don't remember all the other reasons I lost my laptop, but a few stick out in my mind. One laptop would get stuck opening a Microsoft Office program and couldn't be turned off without removing the battery. The tech guys never could figure out that one.

My all time favorite though was when my laptop started making a high pitched whine all of a sudden. I picked up the phone and called the tech guy and put the phone on speaker. I was told to RUN, not walk down to the tech area with my laptop. Apparently, that's the sound when a hard drive is about to go.

Working at the company I work at now, I've managed to slow down the laptop merry go round. But it hasn't stopped entirely.

The control key at the bottom left of my keyboard is missing, and I still don't know where it went.

And a few months ago -- while working at home, mind you -- my power cord simply stopped working. Lucky for me, I'd recently gotten a new work at home kit that includes a power cord. I swapped it out, and the problem was somewhat fixed. Oh, and yes, my laptop was less than a year old at the time.

When I went into the office next, I called in a ticket to our tech support (don't get me started on my longing for the days when I could just call up my guys and have them fix the problem). They swapped out my broken power cord for a new one.

Shortly after that, I realized that my battery had stopped charging. I tried three different power cords, but none of them worked to charge my battery. I realized this, of course, when the battery was so low that jiggling the power cord shut down my computer. You don't want to know how many times I accidentally jiggled it.

The next time I was in the office, I called in a ticket for the new problem. Some nice tech person came up and agreed that my battery was not charging. And told me to order a new one. My lovely admin did this for me (as I can't figure out our ordering system to save my life), but such things can only be shipped to the office and not home. I had to wait for the next time I was in the office to pick up my battery.

When I put in the new battery, I called our tech folks on an entirely different issue. I'd started getting an error message that my power cord was not a recognized power source etc etc whenever I started up my computer. Oh and when trying to turn my computer on, it started shouting at me and wouldn't go past the first screen.

The nice tech lady came up to help, but my problem couldn't be duplicated, of course -- the screaming part at least. She also tried to fix my power cord error message, but someone who configured my computer used a non-standard admin password, so she couldn't get in. Whee! She also confirmed that my first battery was dead as a doornail and took it away to recycle.

By the end of the day, I realized the new battery was not charging, and that I had a larger issue. I called again for a new ticket and explained that I had a problem and was going to be leaving in two hours and not back for another week.

No one called me back. I got an email the next day saying my ticket had been resolved. Interesting, since no one had called or talked to me. When I called the 800 number to find out why my ticket was closed, I was told that they had closed it because I would be out of the office for a week and they can't keep tickets open for more than 24 hours or they get dinged. Uh-huh.

When I was in the office next, I called in my ticket at 7:15am. Someone called me back at 4:20 when I was not near my phone. When I called them back, they didn't answer, and no one called me back before I left that day.

Surprise surprise, when I talked to them on Monday, they gave me the same 24 hour runaround and told me to call him when I got in that Thursday as he'd print out my ticket and have it waiting on his desk. Thursday rolled around, I called at 7:10am and no return call.

I realized there was no return call around 3:30 when I had a chance to take a breath. I called in a new ticket. No one responded that day. Let's just say that I started to get a little frustrated.

When I called again on Monday, we agreed that it was probably a bad system board. However, they had to verify it when I was next in the office and wouldn't order a new system board without doing so.

Yep, I called again that Thursday (this would be last week) and got no response. At 3:30, I called a different person in the tech group I know to see if she could help me and got no response from her either. I opened a new ticket, but it was too late in the day to get a response from anyone before I left.

At this point, you can imagine that my hackles are up. Unfortunately our tech group does not report into our division but is instead its own business unit and therefore the responsibilities don't always align with our interests.

I decided to go into the office on Monday, knowing that even if someone were to address my problem, I'd still have to wait for the new system board to be ordered and shipped so the real fix isn't same day.

And yes, I've been very careful with that power cord! One jiggle, and I've again lost whatever I'm doing.

My day at the office yesterday:
7:02am I called in a ticket and stressed that this needed to be addressed and has been going on for weeks and that I'll be out of the office again after that day.
7:08am (Gotta love those hold times!) I called and left a message for the first tech guy with the new ticket number, stressing that I am in the office solely for this purpose and need to talk to someone that day.
10:00am Confirmed with my boss that he'll contact higher ups if he can find any if I don't hear from anyone by 11.
11:00am Sent an email to my boss detailing the issue, including all ticket numbers
11:30am Called the 800 number again to check on the status of my ticket and reaffirm the need to have this addressed in the next couple hours. I also found out that my ticket had been looked at and by which tech guy.
11:32am Called new tech guy who apparently is working on my ticket and leave him a voicemail.
1:28pm Leave message with new tech guy explaining that I'm headed into meetings for essentially the rest of the day and need to have him call me ASAP.
3:11pm Voicemail is left for me by original tech guy (not the one assigned per the 800 number people) telling me he was working on my ticket.
4:23pm Step out of meetings, pick up voicemail and call tech guy. Leave message for tech guy and ensure I do not move more than three feet from the phone.
4:38pm See the tech guy's name popping up on my phone and do a little dance.

In my four minute conversation with said tech guy, I review the history of my issues. He confirms that they've changed out the power cord and the battery. His diagnosis? A bad system board. He's going to order me a new one, and it'll take a few days for it to arrive.

You'd all be very proud of me. I did not blow a gasket after trying to deal with this for four weeks and having people tell me (including this guy) that they need to work on my computer first, that I have to be in the office for them to resolve it, etc., and then have them tell me that I was right in the first place and that they don't need to see my computer. And that I therefore have wasted four weeks and came into the office for absolutely no reason that day. Meaning being awakened at 5:30am after having caffeine issues that night and getting little sleep instead of waking up at 7:15am.

Instead, I politely asked if the board would be at the office by Thursday. He wasn't sure, and I very politely and very firmly explained the necessity of it being in by Thursday, as I wouldn't be in the office again until the following Thursday. He's going to do his best. I have little faith.

And in the meantime, I'm using superglue to ensure my power cord remains in my laptop. Think they'll have a problem with that?

And anyone who's considered going back to work because there are fewer irritations and you have more control over things... think twice! Or just make sure you keep your electronic devices away from me. You don't want to know the stupid iPod issues I'm having lately. Suffice it to say that I can restart my iPod from a frozen state without looking while running 6mph on a treadmill. That isn't exactly a skill I was hoping to hone.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lesson Learned

I'm not a coffee fan. To be honest, I don't like the way it tastes. It's bitter, and I never bothered to learn to like it. I know I'm in the distinct minority, but I never learned to like beer either, and I'm ok with that.

Don't get me wrong. I love the smell of coffee. And if you put it in ice cream, I'm all over it. But normal coffee? I'll pass. Of course, if you manage to sweeten it up and turn it into something that just happens to barely pass for coffee, then I can drink it and enjoy it.

I mentioned yesterday that we went to a lovely patisserie for breakfast. They happened to have caramel coffee there. It sounded good, and we were having a very special treat, so I got a mug of it. And yes, they put whipped cream in it. And I mean real whipped cream. As in: they took out a silver mixing bowl from the refrigerator and used a spatula to scoop some whipped cream onto the coffee.

As you might imagine, it was pretty good.

After we finished breakfast (and I finished my lovely caramelly coffee), my husband helped get the wee ones into the car, while I gave my mug back to the nice ladies at the counter. (Mister Man and my husband had already carried the plates inside to clear the rest of the table.)

One of the two lovely ladies asked me if I'd like a cup to go. When I looked at her quizically, she explained that they give free cups to go. Nice perk. I asked if I could get a cup for my husband, as well, since he'd probably kill me if I, the-woman-who-doesn't-drink-coffee, came out with a free refill and he had nada.

They graciously gave me my two cups to go -- and marked one with a pink dot so I could tell which was the yummy one and which was his -- and off we went to the parade.

So at 1am last night, who do you suppose was lying wide awake in bed cursing the caffeine?

Yeah, that would be me.

I really should know better. When we drove back from St Louis after Christmas last year, my husband graciously got me a Starbucks bottled thing from the gas station when he stopped. I drank it at 2pm and was still awake at 3am the next morning.

Apparently when you don't drink caffeine often, it tends to really affect you. That or I'm just super sensitive to it. Of course today was a day I was going into the office, which meant I was getting up at 5:30.

Good times when the alarm went off this morning, I'm telling you. Good times.


Oh, and I stopped at Costco on my way home from work today to pick up some more cherries and some diapers and/or Pull-Ups for Little Miss for night time and nap time. I got my cherries and some water softener salt and a couple more very intriguing workbooks for Mister Man and some spinach asiago dip for the barbeque we're going to tomorrow night and talked to the mobile phone folks about switching to Verizon.

When I got home, my husband asked if I had a diaper handy for Little Miss, as we'd used the last one last night. Oops. I knew there was something I was forgetting. Fortunately, we had a diaper that just had a broken tab. Masking tape solved that problem.

At least until I go to Costco again tomorrow. Any guesses what I'll come home with?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lookin' Good!

Sometimes you have days with your kids where you wonder whose children they could possibly be, as there's no way you birthed such monsters. Those are the days where you can say that the sky is blue, and they'd argue until blue in the face that it was orange. The days where you can smile at them and they'll fall to the floor in a full scale tantrum. You really don't want to go out in public those days, as you just know that people will judge you.

But sometimes, you're lucky. Sometimes your children are angels and you again don't know where these foreign beings came from, but you'll accept it. And those are the days you're happy to spend in public places.

This morning, the whole family went out to breakfast at a patisserie near us. Everyone was able to choose a couple of small items for breakfast, and the wee ones each chose a juice (as there was no chocolate milk available for Mister Man).

We sat down outside, and no one grabbed at the plate of goodies prior to being served by me. That, in itself, was a miracle considering it was around 9:30 before the first morsel of food was presented to them.

Mister Man had a croissant and a chocolate almond pastry. Little Miss had a croissant and a tiny cinnamon roll. I hate a carrot zucchini muffin. My husband had a blueberry muffin, a cranberry muffin, and a blueberry pastry.

The blueberry pastry was supposed to be for me. Not because I chose is but because everyone else had two items and our gift certificate was for $20 and we needed another item to make it $20. While I was helping the wee ones choose their juice, he decided to get me a blueberry pastry. Unfortunately, I like raw blueberries but not cooked ones. And I don't like pastries in general, as they're too chewy and buttery for my tastes.

My husband asked Little Miss if she'd trade her cinnamon roll for a blueberry muffin. And she graciously did.

Then, Little Miss asked Mister Man if she could please try his chocolate pastry. He quickly handed it to her for a taste. He just as politely asked if he could try her grape juice. And the sharing continued back and forth. If only I had video of it!

Once we finished breakfast, we headed to a nearby town for their Lions parade, which is a fun one to see - tons of Shriners and other interesting floats. They also throw out tons of candy, which seems to be requisite for any parade now.

Little Miss was having a blast collecting candy. Then she'd run to the family sitting to our right and hand over the majority of the candy she collected. She'd run back to me and ask me "Am I being kind?" Of course, I'd have to agree that she was being very kind.

She was having more fun giving candy to the family next to us than she was collecting it for herself. She has yet to ask to eat a single piece of the candy she collected, actually. And the adults with the group next to us kept commenting on how good of a sharer she was. And how sweet. And adorable. I had to agree with that, too.

The surprise of this -- to me -- is that she was sharing the good candy. She put all the candy she didn't like (peppermints, primarily) into one bag. She never gave them a single piece of the "bad" candy. We had a second bag for the yummy candy, and she patiently sorted each piece into the proper bag. And the candy she shared with the kids next to us? Generally lollipops and Tootsie Rolls, her two favorite kinds of candy.

Altogether now, awwwwwwwwwww.

You might be asking why Mister Man wasn't also helping to share, since he apparently was quite the sharer at breakfast.


Right as we were getting situated for the parade (meaning putting down the blanket and setting out the wee ones' chairs), my husband got a call from a friend of his. The friend had tickets to the Sox game today that he couldn't use and wanted to know if my husband was interested in them. Oh yeah, and it was youth jersey day.

While my husband was listening to the voicemail and doing the "Aw, man!" reaction that you'd expect from someone who couldn't go, I suggested he go. And take Mister Man. While it was 11:15 and the game started at 1:05, it could be fun. And Mister Man hasn't been to a baseball game since he was a baby. He has the attention span for it, and it would be a nice treat for him. I talked my husband into it.

Did I mention that we drove to this parade? And that the town is about 15 minutes from our house? And that we drove in one car? The car my husband would need to get the tickets and to the game?


Lucky for me, when I called my parents (after my husband was on his way), they were just out walking the dog. I did have a brief moment of panic when I called the home phone and no one answered. Had I not been able to get ahold of them, I would have been reduced to calling neighbors and begging a ride home, but one way or another, we could have done it, right?

So as we speak, Mister Man is probably sound asleep in the car on the way back from the game, while Little Miss naps upstairs. Here's hoping when they wake up from their naps that the inner demons don't wake up with them!


And speaking of sharing, the SITS girls have a second blog called Saucy Eats. Much like the red digital camera they're giving away this week for the fifth week of summer giveaway, they also have a giveaway on the recipe site. Go check out the talented featured chefs at Saucy Eats. And enter to win a $50 Williams Sonoma gift card while you're at it. My favorite so far is the hot garlic artichoke dip from Steph's Cafe. YUM! I know where I'm headed if I need inspiration.

And don't forget to enter my pay it forward contest if you haven't yet. The pictures are what I won from the previous contest. I haven't yet decided on what my prize will be, but I promise to do my best to make it worth your while! You have until Wednesday to enter.

Say What?

Some of my favorite recurring posts to read are the ones showing how people found various sites. Stat Counter is a great tool. It not only tells me how many people visited my site (100 did for the first time ever yesterday, and I'm still beaming) and where they came from, but also how they got here. Some of the searches make perfect sense based on posts I've put up, but some just crack me up. Or confuse me. Or both.

My all time personal favorite though was "goddess." How that knew to go straight to my blog, I'll never know. But I'll take it!

Other recent favorites:

i found love never even crossed my mind

Apparently, the old adage is true that you'll find love when you're least expecting it. But I didn't think that my blog would be the conduit. Or maybe I'm interpreting that search incorrectly. Maybe that person doesn't love whoever loves them. But unfortunately, I don't see how my blog fits in there.

should i stay with a man i don't truly love but is good to me?

Oooo, now this is a potential post all on its own. I know several people, including some close friends who have settled. They really wanted to be married and some to have a family and so married someone that they know isn't a soulmate but is "good enough." I always felt bad for both parties in that arrangement. When you're in love with someone, you want that person to be in love with you and not in the relationship because they feel you're suitable. I actually broke up with someone a couple years out of college who worshipped the ground I walked on but who I knew wasn't right for me. He was crushed, but I honestly believe it was the right thing for both of us. I want any relationship I'm in to be equitable. I just hope whoever searched for this finds happiness. I promise, the rest will be less maudlin!

i truly hate my life sometimes
Now really. How do you get to my blog from this one? Have I really been that painful to read? Do I sound like I hate my life? I'm guessing that maybe this is the other person in the relationship who can't decide whether to stay or go.

redecorating the attic

Interesting concept. Of course, considering that I've never decorated an attic to begin with (unless you count the mouse droppings from the invaders we had last fall), I'm not sure that I can help this person.

my throat only whisper

Mine doesn't. Mine frequently gets much louder than that. I'm usually pretty good about not yelling at the wee ones, but I suppose it does happen.

ladys lost underpants

While I do frequently lose things. And apparently sometimes I find them, that doesn't mean that if you've lost your underwear you're going to find it on my blog. I do really wonder what the purpose of this person's search was. Did they think that there might be a site where people find underwear, then post about it so you can claim it later? Freaky thought, really.

repair jeans rivet

I think this is one of my favorite searches. It proves to me that I'm not the only person cheap enough to not just toss a pair of jeans because the rivet broke. Of course, most people probably don't try to use Gorrilla Glue to fix them.

michelle what am i supposed to do - listen

I can't tell if this person is asking my advice -- ahh, someone after my own heart -- or trying to order me around. I am pretty good at offering unsolicited advice though.

preschool whinging

Oh yeah... you can get your fill of that here. I still haven't posted my biggest vent on last year's preschool teacher. And I think I'm over it enough that I won't have to. I have to admit that's probably the only person I've heard of who purposely goes out searching for other people's whinging.

lost my phone dumpster

Now that just sucks. I really feel for this person. And I think the only two options are a) dumpster diving and b) buying a new phone. Although now that I think about it, if my phone landed in a dumpster, I don't think I could put it next to my head after that. Really, buying a new phone is the only option. Yuck!

how can i get someone to take my kids to disney?

Uhhh, if you're paying, I'll do it!

preschool piano music beer barrel polka

All I have to say is please. PLEASE don't do that to your poor child. Really, the beer barrel polka? On the piano? For a preschooler's innocent and impressionable young ears? Even if I could help with this one, I think I'd refuse on principle alone!

Michele and princess of the potty

Oh my. Now I know I was happy with the goddess title, and generally I'd like to be a princess... but I think I may have to turn this one down.

Unnaturally large bladder

Yeah. This one is really quite self explanatory, I suppose.

Car bladder bathroom

I assume this follows from the above, but ... what exactly do you suppose this person was trying to find?

no voice only whisper

I've been there, and it's not fun. Trying the tea and honey thing.

Not a morning person bunny

Me neither, sweetie

how many ounces in a typical state fair serving of cheese curds

Dude, I so don't want to know the answer to this. If I know how many ounces, then I'll want to know the fat and calorie content and then I'll never eat them again. And I love my cheese curds. Just once a year, but I love 'em!

pee large bladder -porn

I'm trying to decide if this means that my site is considered porn or if searching for pee and bladders brings up a lot of porn sites. If it's the latter, I'm so totally disgusted and don't even know what to say.

green banana hole

I've got nothing. No idea what this person was looking for, but I can guarantee he didn't find it here. Ok, I hope he didn't find it here.


Great. Just what I want associated with me. When depressed, I'm your woman?

fingers twinkle fingers close

Oddly, two people searched this one. I feel like I'm reading a baby book. Fingers twinkle (not mine, but hey -- it's a baby book), fingers close. Eyes twinkle, eyes close. Mouth twinkles, mouth closes. I'm so glad we're done with the baby book phase.

i am pregnant look pictures

Ummm, not that I'm really into pregnant pictures, if you know what I mean, but searching for it won't help me find you. Congrats on the pregnancy and please let me never have to post pictures of a pregnant me.

Here's hoping you found me by a more ummmm normal route!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Costco Is A Black Hole

Really. It is. You walk in there, and by the time you manage to suck yourself out of there, everything in your wallet has been left behind.

I swear, they must pump something in to the air when you walk in that lowers your inhibitions and opens your wallet. That or maybe I need to not go there after my belly dancing class, considering I'm usually pretty hungry by that point.

Today I went there for one thing. I should know better. Who goes to Costco for just one thing? Unfortunately, Little Miss had a string of streak accidents yesterday while at my parents' house and was out of underwear (and when I mean out of underwear, I mean she was wearing a pair of Mister Man's).

Raise your hand if you think I succeeded in my mission (meaning purchasing toddler girl underwear and only that)? No one? Really? Ok, fine. Who thinks I succeeded in at least part of my mission (getting the toddler underwear but maybe having a few other things sneak in)? You all are awfully trusting.


I succeeded in none of it. As I got near the section where they stock the underwear, I passed an endcap that had educational books. (Not that I didn't just buy a ton of books from Usborne last week or anything.) They teach skills from Pre-K through (I assume) elementary school. I saw grade 4 in there, but really didn't pay attention except to kindergarten and grade 1. The books concentrate on handwriting (letters and numbers) and telling time, etc., which is something that Mister Man loves to practice. So those two books went into my cart.

As I searched where the underwear should be, I saw some really cute socks. Little Miss could use some new socks, as she's starting to outgrow her old ones. So yeah, they went into the cart, too.

I didn't see any underwear there, so I searched the clothing stacks thinking maybe, just maybe, they'd moved it rather than stopped carrying it. No such luck, but I did find a cute little dress for me. And I need some new summer dresses. Ok, maybe I don't need it, but I could really use it. Or so I convinced myself. Item number three entered the cart.

I gave up on the underwear at that point, and the smart thing to do would be to walk out then. But it was a Saturday morning, and they had samples. And I was hungry. So I meandered up near the samples. Actually, they had some really good ones. The croissants were so soft and pillowy. The peaches unfortunately weren't very ripe. The gouda was incredible, but I talked myself out of it knowing that I already had a bunch of cheese at home (yay, me!).

The rest wasn't as memorable, probably because I was busy filling my cart. The blueberries looked lovely, so I bought the two and a half pound container (granted, I'll eat the majority of those in the next two days -- I love blueberries).

And the cherries were relatively inexpensive, so the three pound container was an easy sell.

Ditto with the bananas, as they actually had ones that were fairly green. Yes, I'm unusual in that I like bananas only before they're fully ripe.

On Wednesday, I had grilled some pineapple for supper swapping but didn't have enough for my family. My husband was jealous that the other two families were getting it, so I had to buy more pineapple for us, right? Tomorrow night's dessert.

Last night, we ate at a neapolitan pizza, which was fantastic. I honestly thought about getting a second pizza for dessert. (I didn't btw -- but I'd had only oatmeal and one of the small cup of rice soups before that and I was starving!) I realized that I had yet to make pizza on the grill this year, so I have to do that soon. I have pretty much everything I need to make the adult pizzas, but I was out of mozzarella for the kid pizzas. Yep, the two pound block of mozzarella came home with me.

I searched for Nutella then, as I'd recently discovered that they had stopped carrying that, too (BOO!). I didn't find it, but I passed the dried fruit and realized that we were out of my dried cherries for my granola. Guess what happened.

Then I remembered a friend of mine telling me about a Morningstar product that was made from spinach and a great treat and had been sold at Costco. I searched and searched and found no spinach treats. I did, however, find an item that appears to be in the process of being discontinued -- chicken and vegetable risotto. I love risotto. I make it myself, and it's relatively easy to do. But I never make it in the summer, as I hate having my stove on for that long heating up the house. This product was precooked and just needed to be heated. At the about-to-be-discontinued price, I had to try it.

Darn Costco. Tell me I'm at least not the only person this happens to. Granted, nothing I bought will go to waste, but I went in there for one thing and one thing only!

Of course, I also saw the rotisserie chickens at Costco. I didn't buy one, as I knew that Caputo's had them on sale for $3.98 per (as opposed to Costco's still relatively decent $6.99). At Caputo's, I did well. I bought only the chicken and the butter on sale for $1.98. Even though they have incredible produce, I managed to restrain myself.

Then I had to go to Target to look for some laceup gym shoes for Little Miss for her soccer camp for next week. I eventually found some, but not before I found a few other things. Fortunately, girls' toddler underwear is still carried by Target, so I was able to cross that one off my list.

See what Costco caused? Fortunately, I think the effects have worn off, and I no longer feel the need to find things that I could use but don't need. Well, at least for the moment!

Edited to add: After all that shopping, would you believe that when I went to make a three cherry cobbler type dessert (I didn't use a recipe, so it doesn't have a name yet) dessert, I was out of cornstarch and had to send my husband back to the store? Oops.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Anyone Hungry?

Really, that was just a rhetorical question. I'm not sharing. Well, actually, I am sharing, but not the food pictured below. That food is what I won from Parking At Home's Pay It Forward contest! It arrived yesterday, and I'm so excited!

I'll admit that there are a few items that I'm a little unsure of what they are, but I've sent the images to a friend of mine who's mom will know and can give me cooking instructions that aren't in a language that doesn't share characters with English. Were I not headed to Cirque du Soleil tonight and then out to dinner with some friends, I'd be eating one of these tonight!

It looks like the Mother Lode, doesn't it?

When I spread it all out on the floor (with Meow's help, of course), I realized that it really is the Mother Lode. And yes, I'm anal retentive enough to unpack it and organize it. It didn't do this just for the picture. I'm aware that I have isues.

This is some roasted corn tea and some green tea with roasted brown rice. I've never tried either (green tea, yes, but not with the roasted brown rice). The friend I sent the pictures to said the corn tea tastes vaguely like popcorn. Basically, I'm all in on that one!

Next came the Cups of Instant Rice Noodle Soup. I'm imagining it like the Lipton Cup 'o Soups, but man these are huge! Two meals at least, I'm thinking!

This is the first of my mystery items. There is no English translation anywhere on this, although it appears to my untrained eye to be some sort of breakfast item. If I figure out how to cook it.

We move on to my lifetime supply of nori! The good news is that nori never goes bad. If you've had it for awhile and it gets a little soft, just pop it in the microwave, and it'll crisp right up. These are the whole sheets great for making all kinds of sushi (and snacking).

The lifetime supply also comes in mini-snacking size. This is 24 packages of precut nori. I think I need to have a sushi party someday soon!

This is another soup, anchovy flavored. And yes, I do like anchovies. Salty, but yummy. The cooking may be a slight challenge, but I'll figure it out. This is a front runner for dinner tomorrow.

More mystery items with no English translation. They appear to by ramen noodles, however. I just have to figure out how to cook these, too!

And lastly, who can complete a meal without some candy? Really.... I'm still trying to figure out how I have yet to dive into these. My only excuse is that I was exhausted last night when I got home after work and the wake and watching my friends' kids (we brought them home from the wake because they were SO done -- including the younger one jumping up to grab his grandpa's beard) that I forgot I had them and just went to bed.

So now that I have my treasured Mother Lode, it's my turn to run another Pay It Forward contest. This one starts once the post goes up. I'll run it until Wednesday around 4pm (CST) next week and post the winner that night, the 23rd I think.
My prize is again a mystery, but hopefully it will be somewhere in the league of the Mother Lode, although I don't think I can be quite that cool.
1) If you are entering, that means you are committing to run a Pay It Forward contest on your own blog once you receive your prize. Don't disappoint me!
2) To enter, comment below between now and Wednesday July 24 at 4pm CST. Your comment should include guesses on what my mystery items are and how I should cook and eat them. Hopefully I'll have the real answer from my friend's mom by then!
3) Enter only once, and please have a blog so that you can carry on the torch.
4) I'll use a random number generator on Wednesday to pick the winner and post. I'll also email the winner, so be sure you reply by Saturday the 26th so I can get your prize out to you.
Good luck! And THANK YOU again to Parking At Home!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I May Not Be Cool...

but I'll do what I can to help the wee ones on their way to coolness.

I was thinking about this today, as I realized that all the cool kids are at BlogHer right now. Laughing it up in San Francisco. Enjoying the not 95 degree with 99 percent humidity weather. Sipping frou frou drinks. Being entertained by the witticisms of all those around them. Gnoshing on appetizer that usually only appear on the Food Network.

They're the blog world's version of the cool kids. And I'm not even hanging out with the band kids. In fact, I was at work today at 7am. I worked all day until I left to go to the wake for my friend D's dad. My only entertainment comes from the wee ones and my husband. And appetizers? We don't even serve them.

Back in high school, one way to know you were cool was to have a good nickname. I never really had a good one. For softball, my sweatshirt read "Shel" but few people actually called me that. It wasn't until after I graduated college that I started to get some good nicknames. I'll decline to share them with you for the moment, though.

The wee ones, on the other hand, have a plethora of nicknames. And they seem to stick fairly well, as even those outside my family periodically use the nicknames.

Below is the Tally:

Mister Man:
1) Mister Man (duh)
2) T-Bass (thanks to my uncle)
3) Walnut (it will become clear shortly)
4) Tee (anyone think his name might start with that letter?)
5) Sweet Pea (only another year or two that he'll answer to that, I think)

Little Miss:
1) Little Miss (shocking)
2) Peanut (Walnut makes more sense now, doesn't it?)
3) Pumpkin
4) Kitten
5) Princess

When I first started thinking about this, I was sure that Little Miss was going to have more nicknames than Mister Man, partly because of her personality (again, the stronger the personality and the more people are drawn to you, the more nicknames theory) but also because we call her by her given name much less often than we do Mister Man.

I sometimes wonder how many of the nicknames will still be with them as they grow older. Peanut is so contant with Little Miss that I have a feeling she'll be a 6' volleyball player still named peanut.

Mister Man, I don't know. If he were to become a good sports player, he's at least got a decent stock of nicknames to start with though. Doesn't T-Bass just sound like a running back? And Tee works for so many sports. Sweet Pea I might have to let him give up though.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Twinkle, Twinle, Little Fingers

When I was younger, my mom started me taking piano lessons. She did it simply because she took piano when she was younger -- hey, she even played organ in her church for awhile! -- and when I was in fifth or sixth grade, she started me with lessons.

The nice thing was that she could read music, so she could help me with practicing. I actually stuck with it for three years before switching to the flute for one year. I liked piano as long as it was easy for me. (This goes back to the wanting school to be challenging to Mister Man -- I never learned how to have to try and fail before succeeding until I was in college.) Once I had to practice a song for more than a day to get it perfect, my interest quickly waned.

And flute was fine, except that cleaning out the spit totally grossed me out, so that lasted just the one year. Plus, I'm double jointed in my fingers, and I had a really hard time with my pinky finger getting caught up double jointed and being unable to use it when I needed to. I know, I have my own personal issues.

Since I was that age, more and more research studies have come out about the benefits of music and kids. They help with math and science and spatial reasoning. Plus, it's great for fine motor.

All of this is appealing to me, as my husband never had any music lessons of any sort, and it's interesting to see the differences where I see music when I see notes and he just sees things on a page. I want my wee ones to be able to read music as adults.

The daycare we use for Mister Man and Little Miss offers piano lessons for kids once they turn four. This fall, we signed Mister Man up as a trial to see how he'd do. He enjoyed the lessons and liked to show us what he learned. No, we didn't buy a piano btw, we have a keyboard that actually was mine from junior high.

The downfall was that the lessons were at 3:30 on Wednesdays. That meant that he'd gone to preschool in the morning, then he'd gone to daycare where he'd eaten lunch, rested for a half hour and then played for awhile before piano. It was hard, but he enjoyed them.

Then, a piano teacher moved in across the street! She teaches out of her home, and she teaches kids as young as four. Plus, she had openings. Once the spring session at daycare ended, we switched to the lady across the street. She's sweet as pie and just loves Mister Man.

We aren't as good at practicing as we maybe should be. Ok, really as we should be. But we try to do some practicing. At least once a week. Actually, when I'm in charge, we practice at least something once a day. Usually he enjoys practicing, as I allow him to choose what song to practice.

Right now, he's stuck on a song called "Halloween" which is pretty basic -- three notes up and down a few times, with a half note thrown in and a repeat just for fun. I think it's his favorite because of the name, personally.
Right after I took these pictures, he played some more piano and then announced that he'd just played "Halloween" without looking. The book was closed. He tells me that he plays the song now without looking at the book. He won't let me check the book, and I keep forgetting to look at the notes before he sits down to see if he's really memorized it or not. I wouldn't put it past him though.
The only downfall is that I can see much of me in him. He only wants to play the songs he already knows. He wants to play that same song over and over again (although when I ran upstairs tonight to see what Little Miss was up to, he came up a moment after telling me he just played "Halloween" again and another song, too.
Sometimes I debate pulling him out of piano for a couple more years, but I don't want him to feel like he's failing. Plus, how do I tell my neighbor and not make her feel like it's because of her? And he does enjoy it frequently. On his terms.... I do definitely want him to learn to play at some point!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How Long Before It Turns Green?

With the amount of time that the wee ones spend napping, we sometimes miss out on the common childhood activities, especially with me working three days a week and Mister Man attending preschool five mornings a week.

We managed to do gymnastics for awhile, but we gave that up this winter. We've done Language Stars since last summer, but after this fall, I think that may also fall to the wayside. We've yet to do dance or an organized sport (although we may do a soccer camp next week). Mister Man also started swim lessons in January once a week.

The swim lessons were ok, and he certainly enjoyed them, but he hasn't made much progress. His biggest issue is that he doesn't want to put his face in the water when swimming so he can see where he's going (much like when he was trying to be born -- it caused issues then, too!). And don't get me started on Little Miss. When we've gone to Florida with her, she would go in the baby pool only and wouldn't even consent to being carried in water deeper than what she can touch.

At the end of May, we joined a new healthclub (ostensibly so I could run inside in the summer since I don't sweat, again causing issues), and we've been getting a ton of use out of it. They have a great indoor and outdoor pool. They're both pretty big, and they start at zero depth, so even Little Miss enjoys the pool.

Once the swim lessons at the old place were up, we signed Mister Man up for swim lessons at the health club (ironically, cheaper AND better than the private ones), which started last week. Little Miss will start in three weeks, after she's turned three (and I don't have to take the lessons with her) since she's now potty trained.

We've been spending a ton of time at the pool over the past few weeks, and I can see that they're finally starting to get more comfortable in the water. Little Miss finally let me carry her around the lazy river. Then she let me grab her hands and pull her through the "deep" water (really about three feet).

Mister Man has also started getting more adventurous. He'll go under the mushroom that has water cascading off the top and get wet from there with minimal fuss. And then we invented a game where he would twirl around in the water and make us "dizzy" so that we -- being the adults -- would fall over. He thought that was great fun and did it over and over and over again. Eventually, he started putting his face in a bit. And now he has to be all the way under water and spinning to have me fall over.

And today -- his first handstand. Granted, his hands may or may not have actually touched the whole bottom, but it was close. And he was proud of himself. He's even swimming full on under the water, although I'll admit that he doesn't go anywhere fast. Speed will come later.

As for Little Miss, now that she knows she's going to take swimming lessons, she's taking notes from Mister Man. Little Miss Independent can do it all herself, and anything he can do, (she's convinced) she can do better. She'll stand on my knees in the deeper water and jump into the water to Grandpa or Daddy and "swim" her way there, fully submerged.

Quite a leap for the girl who wouldn't go past her waist a few weeks ago. My biggest concern is what's going to happen to Little Miss's very thing and scraggly very blonde hair with all the time she's spending in the pool. Even though I try not to get my hair fully wet each time I go (it's long and takes forever to dry and when we leave the club with exhausted wee ones, the last thing I need to worry about it my hair), I can still feel that it's really getting dry. And I remember having green hair as a kid myself.... Somehow, I have a feeling that I'll be investing in some chlorine extracting shampoo soon.

The real benefit of spending so much time at the pool is that it wears them out. Of course, it wears me out, too, and I'm almost ready to go to bed now, but I have a softball game at 8:30 so that isn't happening! In fact, Mister Man fell asleep on the car ride home. Granted this was after his second swim session of the day. We went to a park district pool with some friends for a playdate for two hours this morning (and it made me realize how nice we have it at the club), and then Mister Man had a swim lesson at 3:30 and we swam after that until 6.

My favorite part about him falling asleep though? I was listening the kids' radio station in the car, and they happened to be playing the Star Wars Theme Song. Most kids? Bouncing up and down excited about the song and the music. My son? Falls asleep. Typical!

  © Blogger template 'Solitude' by 2008

Back to TOP