Monday, June 29, 2009

Tasty Tuesday!

Once again, I am posting my Tasty Tuesday on a Monday. Actually, going forward, this is going to be par for the course. Due to the move of a meeting because of my boss's procrastination, I am now in the office on Tuesdays instead of being off. And my company is pretty strict about any websites that don't appear to be work related, so I'll be putting these up early.

The good news is that I now have Wednesdays off, which means taking a Thursday off gives me a five day weekend. Who knows when I'll manage to do that, but it sounds good, right?

Anyway, I'm back to the grill again, although this is also one that I make during the winter in my oven. While this is a recipe that sounds somewhat odd, it is absolutely delicious. I would never have tried it (ok, I exaggerate) had I not tasted it at a class I took once.

Every time I make this, I get huge compliments from my friends. The uniqueness adds a nice touch, I think.

Potato Pizza


Pizza dough
1/2 T yeast
1/2 c water (hot but less than 115 degrees)
1/4 t sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 T olive oil
1 1/3 c flour (up to 1 1/2 c if humid)

3 1/2 slices of prosciutto (more if desired)
2 lb red potatoes, sliced very thin (can use less)
10 oz Kokisko or fontina or other similar cheese
1/2 basil leaves (FRESH)
1/2 c thin slices red onion
1/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Directions (oven first, grill to follow):

This makes a jelly roll pan of pizza, which cuts into 28 pieces nicely.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Add water to bowl then add yeast, oil and sugar. Mix to combine, then add half the flour. Mix well and add the salt (do NOT add salt prior to mixing in half the flour or it will kill your yeast), then mix again. Add the rest of the flour and mix until well combined then knead (or use stand mixer) until nicely elastic and soft like a baby's bottom (about 15 minutes on medium in stand mixer). Cover with damp towel and let rise for 1-1 1/2 hours.

While rising, grate the cheese and slice the potatoes (mandoline works great here or that blade on your food processor). Parboil the potatoes if you slice them thickly or they won't cook in the oven (Boil water, add potatoes, boil 3 minutes and remove). Slice the red onion thinly and separate the slices. Tear the basil and prosciutto into bite sized pieces.

Roll or press out the dough until the size of a jelly roll pan and press into the pan (I've not had an issue with them sticking). Brush the dough with olive oil and lightly salt (five twists of a salt grinder is PLENTY).

Add 3/4 of the cheese, then layer on the potatoes. Add the onions atop the potatoes, then the remainder of the cheese.

Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the prosciutto and basil. Cut into 28 squares and serve. This is also good at room temp if serving as an appetizer at a party (if so, cut into much smaller pieces).

If you're doing this on the grill, follow the direction up until the oven part. Heat your grill on medium, then place four scrunched up balls of tin foil on the grates and then the jelly roll pan on the tin foil and close the grill. Cook for 10-12 minutes until the cheese melts, then follow the remainder of the directions.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

BAD Blogger. I wrote and "published" this post on Friday morning and then went out of town. For whatever reason, it never posted... nor did the one I had scheduled for yesterday. Boo! But, my husband and I smartly chose not to take the wee ones to the Cardinals game yesterday when it was so hot that the city was asking the team to move it to a night game in an effort to reduce heat illnesses.


Yesterday, we took the wee ones to their first professional baseball game. Technically, Mister Man has been before, but not since he was an infant and we were rained on while at an indoor stadium. Don't ask.

My husband decided it would be a good idea to go to see a Brewers Twins game during the day with my parents and the wee ones -- and me, if I could get the time off work. I agreed, although I'm mildly regretting it now.

Our seats were in the sun. It was 94 degrees and incredibly high humidity throughout the game. They ran out of iced lemonades during the game, it was so hot. The wee ones were tired, and they didn't like sitting stil that long. And ohh, don't get me started on the traffic.

I unfortunately wasn't able to get the day off work, but I was able to take a half day. While on a conference call, I drove to my parents just in time to see my dad pulling out of their driveway. Oops, I knew I was late, but I didn't think they'd leave without even telling me!

They didn't. My dad was going to get gas for his car. By the time he returned, we discovered he also took the time to wash his car. My dad isn't exactly a sports fan. Sadly, that ate into (no pun intended, I swear!) our time budgeted to stop for lunch on the way to the park, so we drove straight there.

Straight there involved driving past the gas station where my dad filled up his tank. It also unfortunately involved being stopped in a traffic jam for twenty-five minutes on a two lane highway that had one lane closed. Fortunately, we arrived slightly before the end of the second inning.

I'm quite impressed at all the food Mister Man consumed. My dad got him a hot dog. Unfortunately, he was only four bites into it before he dropped it on the ground under the seats in front of us and I refused to let him pick it back up and eat it. Instead, he ate an entire iced lemonade. And half a gigantic pretzel covered in cinnamon sugar that my dad got. And half another hot dog that my husband got him to replace the first one. And half of a strawberry iced lemonade. And then half of a strawberry ice cream container.

On the plus side, when he was full, he didn't keep eating. He didn't finish the hot dog or the ice cream. Instead my husband had that honor.

Given that we were in the sun, the dark green seats were hot. Really hot. As in so hot that neither of the wee ones could sit on them. I finally got the brilliant idea of burning myself, using my body to absorb the heat and cool off the seat, then moving so a wee one could sit in the vacated seat, and I could repeat the process for the other wee one. They were content with this theory.

Mister Man did enjoy watching much of the game. He followed the action fairly well, and we had fun conversations about what it meant to hit a single, double and triple. We talked about intentional walks and sac flies. His baseball knowledge is coming along nicely.

Little Miss was more interested in playing with the spray bottle my mom brought along than watching the game, but this didn't surprise me in the least. She sprayed herself, my mom, the people around us (who fortunately were thrilled to be cooled by the mist of water). She was busy.

She also spent a good deal of time eating the iced lemonade trying to keep cool. And wanting to play with my mom's camera. Smart girl knows better than to try to mess with my camera!

As the game wore on, the wee ones cared more about when the Brewers would hit the next home run than anything else. And yes, we are Twins fans! Unfortunately, they were drawn in by the pageantry of Bernie sliding down the slide and the fireworks set off after each home run.

By the end of the game though, the wee ones were wiped out. All Mister Man wanted to do was curl up in someone's lap and take a nap. It was too hot for a sweaty little boy to cuddle with us though, so mean parents that we are, we made him rest in his own chair. He was happy to do so.

Luckily, the Twins pulled it out 6-4, and everyone left happy. Except Little Miss who was still demanding more homeruns. And we get to do this all over again at Busch Stadium on Saturday. Oh yeah, except that the heat index is expected to be 109. Wish us luck!

And Go Twins!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Help Wanted!

Tonight, we had friends over for dinner with their children. They're currently potty training their two year old, and it's going surprisingly (to me) well. She sighed that changing diapers was her least favorite thing about in child rearing and couldn't wait for it to be over.

I questioned whether cleaning up puke -- something I cannot do -- wasn't worse. That's something that never seems to end, not even when they go to college. She apparently prefers cleaning puke to poop, who knew.

My husband then joined the conversation stating that if I could find someone to clean the puke, I'd divorce him in a heartbeat. While this statement is nowhere near true -- I have no intentions of ever divorcing my husband sans radically out of character actions. Fortunately, he also knows this, which is why the joke was funny.

However, it did get me to thinking. If I were to place a want ad for a husband, what would it look like?

Help Wanted:

Needed, a mature single male for love and warmth in a happy home with two small children and a wonderful woman (I have to toss that in). Must love endless children's games ranging from blowing bubbles to Candyland to Go Fish and books from wakeup to bedtime. Cooking skills not necessary, but experience with food prep and dish washing is a must. Strong hands for backrubs and opening jars strongly preferred. Ideal candidate must be tolerant, humorous, loving, generous, intelligent, well-read, gentle, patient, kind, honest, and hardworking. Job duties include mowing the lawn, emptying trash cans, ironing, cleaning bathrooms, caring for sick children, ferrying children to and from activities, teaching fertile minds, and pushing swings higher. The ability to get along well with others in unfamiliar situations is a plus, as is the ability to know when to stop talking. No experience necessary. Pay to be negotiated. References required.

So what would your want ad look like? And what am I forgetting?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tasty Tuesday!

I made a special treat for my husband for Father's Day. I always do some sort of breakfast in bed, and I realized that I hadn't made my scones (sans cream) since we took Little Miss off dairy.

They're quick, they're easy, and they're ohhhh so yummy. I figured it was worth trying them dairy free, although I'll also share the original recipe with dairy. Little Miss has already asked when she can have scones again -- and was very sad that tomorrow wasn't the answer.

While I usually save this for weekends, it takes less than a half hour start to finish, so these are doable during the week, too.

Chocolate Cherry Scones

1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c wheat germ
1/2 c sugar (scant)
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c rolled oats (NOT instant oatmeal)
1/2 c dried cherries (or more)
1/2 c carob chips or chocolate chips for dairy lovers (I ummm don't measure this part, so it's approximate)
10 T melted butter (or Crisco, which is dairy free)
1/3 c milk (or soy milk)
1 egg


Put the flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a bowl, then whisk well. Add the oats, cherries (or other dried fruit -- don't use fresh for this recipe) and chocolate chips and stir until well distributed.

Place the milk, melted butter and egg into a large liquid measuring cup, and whisk until it's one consistency. Add to the dry ingredients, and gently stir with a spatula until it is combined. Do not overmix.

Turn out the dough onto sil pat (or floured surface), and use your hands to shape it into a circle about a half inch thick.

Use a knife or a board scraper (my all time favorite kitchen gadget), cut the circle into 8 or 10 pieces, depending on the size of your circle. I had scooped out two scones for Little Miss from the dough prior to molding it into the circle since we were out of carob chips, so I only made eight scones. I usually make 10.

Place them on a sil pat or greased cookie sheet. they won't expand hugely, so you don't have to keep them too far apart.

Once they come out of the oven, let them cool for a moment or two, then serve while still warm. My husband got his with strawberries from the farmer's market (thank, J!) and coffee with cream -- that I for the first time made properly!

He was a happy man.

And of course, as always go check out this week's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed With Grace!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Little Girl!

I usually let Little Miss dress herself. I'm a big believer in independence and letting children make choices now and succeed or fail at them when the stakes are small so they learn how to do both well as they get older.

It's true that there are days when I choose to publicly acknowledge that I had nothing to do with her outfits (like the day she wore her grey 24 month romper that she had somehow pulled from the giveaway pile with matching grey knit shorts, turquoise and white striped socks and a purple bow), but I generally allow her to be herself, and it suits us all.

On "special" days, I will make requests, and she's generally happy to accomodate them. I asked her today to put on a nice dress for Father's Day and church. She ran off to her room and came back shortly.

I had to cover my mouth to keep from laughing out loud. Apparently I didn't do a good enough job of purging her closet this year - and the weather has been rotten enough that she hasn't worn many summer clothes.

Last year, this dress was a beautiful sundress that fell to her mid-calf. When I told her that she couldn't wear it today and that we were going to have to give it away, she wasn't happy.

Nope, not happy at all. But ummm apparently she's grown a little in the past eight months. That dress fit perfectly well when we were in Florida in October.

She's not my baby anymore, is she?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mama's Boy

I have certain opinions -- and I know you're all shocked by that, but really, I do -- about thing. Ok, about just about everything. That includes sports. I'm hoping that I'm teaching the wee ones that basketball and soccer (except little kids playing it) are bad and other sports are good.

You know my lessons (and not my husband's) are sinking in when you have the following conversations.

Scene: At the chiro, as we're getting ready to leave. Mister Man is putting on his Sox hat.

Receptionist: Oh, are you a Sox fan?
Mister Man: Yes, I'm a Sox fan.
Receptionist: That's too bad! I'm a Cubs fan. (Poor lady, they're almost in last place again)
Mister Man: Oh, I'm actually a fan of all the teams. Except the Yankees.
Me: Ummm, Mister Man, I thought you didn't like the Cubs either?
Mister Man: (leaning in close to whisper in my ear) I don't really, but I don't want to hurt her feelings by telling her that I don't like her team.

All together now: Awww.

Oh, and if you ask either of the wee ones what their favorite teams are, they'll tell you they love the Twins the best. And the Vikings. And the Wildcats. Yep, it's definitely sinking in. Imagine what it would be like if I didn't work and spent all day with them!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Word Of Advice

We all know that Mommy needs her sleep. I've discovered that my wee ones need their sleep, too. Not everyone believes me (MOM), but they need far more sleep than you would expect. Can they function on less sleep? Absolutely! Can I walk into a room and immediately tell by their behavior if they're well-rested or not?

I was at a friend's house for a meeting the other night. At 9pm, her five year old daughter walked into the room -- not in her pjs -- to get a kiss from her mom. My friend laughed and played it off "oh we just can't get them into bed!" Really? At least for me, I've found putting them into bed, shutting the door and then walking away seems to work.

Maybe it's because I've been a big believer in sleep since the wee ones were little, it's easier for me. I have friends who bemoan (how seriously, I can't tell since they do nothing about it) that their kids can't fall asleep unless they're in the parents' bed and it's 10:30 or later. I always have to school my face to keep it neutral. Mister Man may occasionally be "awake" at 10:30, but that's only when he gets up to go potty in the middle of the night, and most of the time I don't think he's actually fully awake.

I did once have trouble with Little Miss, though. I'll readily admit that. I could tell she was tired -- she has these lovely little creases that appear under her eyes the second she's ready for bed -- but she was getting up before 5am and had given up her afternoon nap. At 18 months.

Needless to say, this mommy doesn't function on that little sleep, and it was showing. Someone -- and I forget who this blessed person was -- gave me the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I read it and was an immediate convert.

Little Miss luckily returned to her two naps a day and long nights of sleep shortly thereafter. To this day -- and she turns four on August 1 -- she'll sleep twelve to thirteen hours a night and take up to a three hour nap. Granted, she never stops moving when she's awake, but she's a great sleeper.

Even Mister Man will take naps periodically, and he's also a thirteen hour a night sleeper -- or more sometimes. But my mom... oh my mom refuses to believe it. She told Little Miss that she doesn't need to nap anymore. And so Little Miss doesn't nap whenever Grandma is around.

My mom also doesn't believe that they should be to bed by 6:30. Instead -- after no nap -- they're up until after 8. And she's surprised when they wake up before 6am. She insists that means they must not be tired and refuses to believe a word I say. (And yes, this does factor into my desire to stop working. The lack of respect my parents have for my parenting and the amount of time my working means they spend with the wee ones is an issue.)

I picked up the Little Miss on Tuesday at 10am after we'd gotten back from Vegas. My parents had so generously volunteered to watch the wee ones for the four days we were gone. Little Miss almost fell asleep in the car. At 10am. Ditto with Mister Man when I picked him up from summer school at noon. Yikes.

What I've learned is that kids need more sleep than you expect them to. If they wake up early, so often it's because they're overtired (not always -- but in my case, it absolutely is). When they're well-rested and they stir, they are able to fall back asleep. However, when they're overtired, the slightest stir means they're up for good because they're too tired to sleep. Don't tell me you haven't been in the same situation!

My friends look at me askance when I say I have to leave somewhere early or that we can't make a party because it's past the wee ones' bedtime. They can't believe it, but it works for us. Ironically, a woman from Mister Man's elementary school called a few weeks ago, and I mentioned that I had time because the wee ones were in bed. She laughed and asked if they were Weissbluth babies. I was surprised that she said that, as Dr. Marc Weissbluth is the author of the aforementioned book. Apparently his devotees are easy to spot.

If only my mom could listen. Then again, my parents are also the ones who refuse to believe that Little Miss has a dairy allergy. It's only under duress that they keep dairy away from her.

Ironically, the first baby shower I ever went to asked all of us to come with a notecard filled with our best parenting advice. I remember that I wrote "No" is no a four letter word as my advice. It definitely isn't a bad one, and I stick to that one, as well. If only I'd known then what I know now....

So what is your favorite bit of unsolicited parenting advice?

PS the answers to the pop quiz are up now!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Answers: Revealed!

1) I failed my driving test the first time through.
True. Sadly, I did fail it the first time around. The weird part is that I had a 100% score. Until it came to parallel parking. Now before you start shaking your head at me, know that I was really good at parallel parking. And spending as much time living in Chicago as I have, I can get into a parking spot of any size. I so badly wanted to pass that I was being extra careful to give myself as much room as possible and slowly slowly kept backing up into the right place. I touched the little cone and gave myself a little more room… and then I discovered I discovered how light and unbalanced those cones were. Oops. Ugh. I went back the next day and passed with a score of 97. I’m still bitter though.

2) I've been engaged three separate times, although only married once.
True. I actually have been engaged three times. The first time engagements I broke off before too many plans were made – and those were definitely the right choices for me, and probably for them. Call me young and stupid, but at least I recognized it.

3) My first job was as a dog walker in my neighborhood.
False. Technically, I suppose my first job was babysitting. But my first real paid job where I had to pay taxes and so forth was working as a receptionist at a vet’s office. Prior to working there, I was going to study to be a vet. After that summer, the option of being a vet was no longer an option.

4) I have never been peed on while changing a diaper.
True. Mommy is smart. Mommy placed a special little towel over Mister Man whenever the diaper was changed. I didn’t actually go for the wee wee tee pee (yes, they make it), but a little towel works just as well. My husband on the other hand… let’s just say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Our poor walls.

5) My sixth grade teacher put pepper polish on my nails to keep me from biting them.
True. Sadly, that one is true. Ahhhh, Mrs. Hodge. Ironically enough, I didn’t chew them because I was nervous or really because it was a habit or anything else like that. No, instead I used my teeth to shape them properly. And using your teeth just isn’t very effective. So I’d then have to shape the other side. I finally figured out that just carrying an emery board with me was far easier. That was the end of the “nail biting.”

6) My favorite food is pizza.
False. Fortunately for my waistline, pizza is not my favorite food. It’s actually sushi. Which I had for dinner tonight. And really wish I had more for tomorrow. And the next day. I never had sushi until after I’d graduated from college – my mom wasn’t exactly the most adventurous cook or eater – but I’ve been a huge fan ever since. I could literally eat it breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Pizza’s not bad, but I’ll take the sushi anyday.

7) My first car was a Ford Escort.
False. Nope, my first car was an Explorer. It’s in the Ford family, but not an Escort. My mom wanted me to be safe. In fact, my second car after I graduated college was also an Explorer. I finally sold it last year.

8) I played the flute growing up.
True. I started out with the piano but grew tired of that after a few years. I was never going to be truly great. I tried the flute, since my mom wouldn’t let me quit and the teacher happened to also give instruction on the flute. I only did it for a year because I had issues with my pinkies locking and being unable to play. My mom finally let me quit then.

9) I have a tattoo on my shoulder.
False. I have no tattoos. Every time I see a tattoo, my first thought is wondering what it will look like in thirty years. Or after pregnancy. And that’s generally enough to remove any thought of getting a tattoo from my mind.

10) Had Mister Man been born a girl, he would have been named Kiersten Anabel.
True. I love the name Kiersten – and had a friend growing up named Kiersten who owned horses named Harmony and Melody. By the time Little Miss was born, we’d decided on a new name though. And Kiersten doesn’t fit her, so good choice.

11) Had Little Miss been born a boy, she would have been named Andrew Michael.
False. We were originally debating between Andrew James and James Andrew. But then we decided that wasn’t good and finally decided on James Spencer, with a nickname of Jamie. This was decided as we were driving to the hospital. About five minutes before we got there. Apparently we were destined to have a girl.

12) I drink between 80 and 120 ounces of water a day.
True. I love water. I drink it constantly. I have a set of 40 ounce stainless steel bottles that I constantly switch out and drink from. People laugh at me at work when I bring the mug around with me to meetings. And then finish it. I don’t drink pop or coffee or juice or anything else though, so … lotsa water.

13) I have Girl Scout cookies in my cabinet that are almost two years old.
True. Another one sadly, true. I like the concept of Girl Scout Cookies more than I actually like eating them. And I’m one of those very weird people who can open up a package of cookies and take a few months to eat them. (Yes, I’m ducking as I write that.) Once my husband discovers the stash, they’ll be gone though!

14) My elbows are double jointed.
False. My fingers are – all ten of them… which is the issue I had with playing the flute. I actually am not really sure what double jointed elbows would look like.

15) I have never watched Survivor.
False. But I’ve never watched an entire episode. Nor do I know who wins. The only time I saw it, I was in a Sears tire center (what are those places called?) with the guy I was dating at the time getting the battery of his car changed – I can’t remember if it was an unexpected stop or not, but I’m guessing it was. Survivor was on the tv above our heads, so … we sat there and watched. Wipeout and I Survived A Japanese Game Show are more my style reality tv.

16) My husband has never seen my natural hair color.
False. I can’t say that I’ve never dyed my hair, as in college my best friend tried dying my hair more auburn that it is naturally. I’m a child of the depression though, and I’m cheap. The thought of having to spend that much money to touch up my hair that often makes me cringe. And I know that I’d never find the time to do it either considering how much I sometimes struggle to find the time to do anything for myself. I haven’t had my hair cut even since January and before that August. I think I’m making a good choice for myself!

I loved seeing your answers… and the explanations there at the end? Perfect! I’ll definitely do this again one day. There are lots of random facts – and fictions – that I can share.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tasty Tuesday!

Ahhh... to be back in the swing of things. My husband and I just spent the last four days in Vegas and got back this morning around 1:30. We were actually lucky, though, as our flight from Vegas to Denver was significantly delayed, and our flight from Denver was the last one of the night. I was expecting to have to bunk down somewhere in Denver, but the nice people at United used their heads and held our plane for 20 minutes to ensure the forty people from our flight were able to get onto the plane to Chicago. Of course, their reservation system hs me booked for an 11:30 flight this morning, as it rebooked us, but ... I'm not going to complain.

Regardless, I'm exhausted at the moment (and the Pop Quiz answers will go up tomorrow for those of you who've asked), so this is one of my short and sweet recipes of summer. And even though it still doesn't really seem like summer, I'm thinking positive!

Peach Frozen Yogurt

14 oz of peaches in their own juice
2 c vanilla yogurt
1/4 c sugar (I usually use a bit less than this even -- it just doesn't need much)
1 T lemon juice

Makes ~8 1/2 cup servings
Drain peaches, but save the juice, and blend peaches until smooth. Add yogurt, sugar, 1/2 c of the peach juice and lemon juice, then blend until well combined.
Add to ice cream machine and churn for 30 minutes until nicely thickened. Place in freezer for 2 hours. Every 15 minutes for the first hour to 1 1/2 hour, use a spatula to stir briefly to keep from getting solidified beyond the point of scooping.

This is one of my all time summer favorites. Poor Little Miss won't be able to enjoy it this year (dairy free -- and I've yet to find a dairy free yogurt!), but she has her Soy Delicious "Chocolate" Cherry Chip frozen dessert instead -- and she definitely loves that!


And of course, as always go check out this week's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed With Grace!

Monday, June 15, 2009

That's Not What I Chose

Play along with my pop quiz here.


Years ago, I worked with a really fun woman named Val. She was in another group that I worked with regularly on my client. She had great stories about her kids and her life, and I always enjoyed spending time with Val.

One day, I sent her an email to check for accuracy (it involved technical things she was familiar with that I wasn't) and she responded with a couple minor changes. As I scanned through it, I noticed that she had changed the reference to her from Val. Instead, she had written out Valerie.

Weird. I'd known her for four or five years at that point, and she was Val. I was confused, so I asked her.

Oh. She doesn't like to be called Val; she wants to be Valerie. I felt horrible. For years and years, everyone had always known her as and had always introduced her as Val. But apparently no one had ever asked her. I felt badly, and I've called her Valerie to this day, as a person's name is theirs, not yours to change as you choose.

She still works for my company, and many people still call her Val, but I've let people I know that she prefers Valerie and shared my experience. And she also feels more comfortable stepping up and correcting people now. Good for her.

But it shouldn't have to be that way. Her name is Valerie. That's what her voicemail says, that's what her email says, and that's how she introduces herself. What's so hard about calling her by her name?

I have this same discussion every year with Mister Man's schools. I should have known better. People told me that if I gave him the name I did, people would shorten it without my permission.

And if he goes by a nickname someday, I'm totally cool with that. But if he starts out with the nickname, he can never go back. People just don't get it though, and it drives me batty. Just like Val.

The principal at his school calls him Mike*. His bus driver calls him Mikey. His aides and therapists vary between thetwo. And I correct them gently by saying things like, "Michael, say goodbye to your bus driver" or "Michael, what do you say to Ms. Barb?" It doesn't click with them.

I've tried writing on the form at the beginning of the school year that his name is MICHAEL, not Mike or Mikey, and he is not to be called by his nickname. Nope, that doesn't work.

I call his teachers and aides out on it. I ask them to please call him by his right name. That doesn't work either.

My new strategy is teaching Mister Man to correct them on his own by politely letting them know that he prefers to be called Michael (which he does -- I recently found out that he doesn't like even my nickname for him, oops!). He's a sweet kid who respects authority, so it's hard for him to stand up for himself, but it's a good skill for him to learn. Someday.

On the plus side, he starts summer school with new teachers today. Maybe this will be the place that calls him by his right name.

Do you have a name that people shorten without invitation to? Do you like it? How do you deal with it?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sometimes, They Send You A Sign....

Don't forget to play along with my pop quiz here.


We've all been there. We're bored, home, flipping through the channels... and then we stop. We aren't really sure why we stop, but we have and we shrug our shoulders, settling in to watch. We're slowly sucked in to what we know is horrible, mind-numbing television that we quite frankly aren't even enjoying.

But we're stuck. We simply can't change the channel, although we have no idea why.

I've figured out the signs that it's truly time to move to another show, however. Granted, I've been spoiled by the ability to watch tv almost exclusively via Tivo, so I am not used to watching commercials. Wow, have they gotten horrible. Really horrible.

So the next time you're sucked in and you start to see these commercials, do your best to pick up that flipper and change the channel. You can do it. I have faith in you (less so in me).

1) Extenze. I get this spam in my inbox and don't read it there. I really don't want to watch it. I just wonder how these companies can stay in business and afford to advertise on tv.

2) The Awesome Auger. Granted, I was initially sort of intrigued by this one. I hate digging holes to plant my garden, and this seemed to make it so easy. Then I started to read the reviews. People, stay away. Scam. Bad scam. They take your credit card number upfront, and that is your agreement to purchase one or more of the products. And you can't cancel their order until it's in the system, but by the time they enter it into the system, it's already on the truck. And it doesn't work anyway. Bummer.

3) Latisse. Yes, now apparently not having full enough eyelashes is a disease, and there is a prescription to fix this. Holy cow. This is so wrong on so many levels, not the least of which (pointed out by my husband) is that one of the side effects of this is to turn your eyes brown. Seriously, glue on some fake eyelashes or use good mascara. Some prescriptions ... we just shouldn't make or buy them.

4) Smooth Away. Ok, so maybe you're sensing a theme here with the "As Seen On TV" ads. In general, unless it's the Topsy Turvey, if you're seeing a special offer commercial, turn the channel. This one is basically for fine grit sandpaper to sand away the hair... wherever you want. Yeah. I'll pass. I like my waxing ladies.

5) Head On. Granted I never actually went through that phase where I drank myself silly on a regular basis (mostly because I'm cheap but for other reasons, too), and I just can't imagine how that product work. But it's an annoying product, and you know it's aimed at ... not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier. Time to flip.

6) Video Professor. Now we've moved into the old people zone. I'm also trying to figure out the business model of this one. Get free CDs to learn how to use your computer. And he advertises on tv. I'm sure I'm missing something, but ... I don't think I care enough to figure out what.

7) Some commercials are annoying. Some make me want to gouge out my eyes and burn off my ears. This falls into the latter category. If you really want to know what's on your credit report (and you should have a pretty good idea anyway), three times a year, visit and get one of your three free reports. Choose a different bureau each time, and you can stay on top of your credit report free of charge. Ta da!

8) Burger King's booty ad. Once upon a time, I had a whole post about this one. But by the time I actually saw this commercial myself, it had probably been out for months. Let's just say that I find that ad highly inappropriate, morally disturbing, and my family is done done DONE ever eating at Burger King. Ick.

9) Debt reduction services. There are a ton out there, and most of them appear to simply be marketing services that direct people deeply in debt to a company that can do for them the same things they can do for themselves with a little effort while promising so many pie in the sky dreams that are highly unlikely. Sadly, the radio station I listen to on a regular basis has this as a standard commercial at every half hour break. I switch channels each time it comes on. Bleh.

10) Nature Cleanse. Ok, really any cleansing product. Unless it's for my furniture or floors (I SOOOO want a Shark Steam but haven't yet broken down and bought one), I don't want to see it or hear it. And everything I've ever seen or read about them decries their ineffectiveness in most cases and danger in others. Yep, it's a sign you're watching bad tv.

On the other hand, if you happen to catch a Hillshire Farm Go Meat commercial, you're totally on the right channel. Know that I'll be toe tapping along with you. But any of the others? Make the effort to flip!

So how do you know when it's time to change the channel -- or better yet, turn off the tv?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Quiz Time!

I did this awhile ago, and I had so much fun with it. I loved seeing what you all thought was true and false about me and why. I think it's time for another pop quiz, and I promise there are no right or wrong answers.

Have fun with it! I'll post the answers in a few days, but until then, let me know which items you think are true, and which are false.

1) I failed my driving test the first time through.

2) I've been engaged three separate times, although only married once.

3) My first job was as a dog walker in my neighborhood.

4) I have never been peed on while changing a diaper.

5) My sixth grade teacher put pepper polish on my nails to keep me from biting them.

6) My favorite food is pizza.

7) My first car was a Ford Escort.

8) I played the flute growing up.

9) I have a tattoo on my shoulder.

10) Had Mister Man been born a girl, he would have been named Kiersten Anabel.

11) Had Little Miss been born a boy, she would have been named Andrew Michael.

12) I drink between 80 and 120 ounces of water a day.

13) I have Girl Scout cookies in my cabinet that are almost two years old.

14) My elbows are double jointed.

15) I have never watched Survivor.

16) My husband has never seen my natural hair color.

So, what do you think? Play along -- it's all in good fun. I'll give you a little help. Eight of the sixteen are true. Can you figure out which ones? Good luck!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Dear Mister Man,

Today you "graduated" from preschool -- and forgive me, but I use that term loosely. In my mind, you have moved on from preschool, but graduations are reserved for high school and college. Even Daddy only has the eighth grade recognition ceremony at the middle school.

I remember when you first started preschool just before you turned three. I knew you needed the social interaction and the academics were fun play. Your teachers expressed concern that you would wander the perimeter of the classroom and knock toys down during the day instead of playing with other kids. You did a great job of listening to the teachers in circle time, but the less structured periods were a struggle for you.

Just over a month into preschool, you had turned three, and we moved you to the Early Learning program in our school district where the teachers had the expertise to encourage all your development, social and physical and academic. The first day, I followed the bus all the way to school to be sure that you were ok. Five day a week preschool and riding a bus were big changes for us both!

Miss Erin was a great teacher, and we saw differences quickly. Over winter break, for the first time you asked a friend if she wanted to play Candyland instead of talking to an adult. I was so proud of you!

You made changes large and small, from figuring out how to ask kids to play with you without knocking their toys over to actually now being able to walk up to kids in any situation and play with them. It's so cool for me to take you to the kids' area at the health club and listen to the stories of the friends you made and what games you created while I was working out.

Physically, you've come a long way, too. I would watch you struggle to do basic gymnastics moves like jumping down the trampoline or holding onto the rings or walking across the ladder. Today, you scamper up the tall ladder toys at the playground without a concern. You're very proud of all your strength, and someday, you're sure you'll be stronger than Popeye.

Academically is where you've amazed me the most. Dude, you are the smartest little kid I know. You started to read a year ago February -- or before, since I didn't realize you could read! -- and have so quickly progressed from the Bob books to reading Thomas books to now reading the entire Magic Treehouse series and Encyclopedia Brown. You do math in you head, you know your coins, and you're really starting to figure out spelling, too.

While some parts of your life are a challenge, you've been blessed academically. In fact, this is where Daddy and I are a bit challenged, too. We know you hate to be bored, and we want you to be challenged in school. We're still trying to figure out what school to send you to next year, but I just hope that you'll be happy wherever you are.

You've made so many friends over the past three years, and your teachers have nothing but positive things to say about you. Miss Dawn still insists you're the most generous child she's ever met for all the chocolate you've given her out of your own Halloween stash. All someone has to do is ask, and you'll happily give.

You are so enthusiastic about so many things. I love the joy you show when you ask Little Miss's teachers every day how she did in school, knowing the answer will always be "awesome." Your happy dance will always crack me up, and the way your face lights up whenever there's a surprise is so neat to see. You are a truly special kid.

My one word of warning to you is that you need to learn how to fail and to recover from that. I know you want to be perfect, but no one is, not even Mommy. It's ok to try and to not succeed. If you don't try, you'll never learn whether or not you like something, and no one is good at something without a lot of practice. Just try, and never give up. Mommy's always going to love you no matter what.

And you know what? You've done a great job so far. I'm so proud of you!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tasty Tuesday!

Ahhh, another lovely week of summer in Chicago. Where we all wore coats and gloves and blankets to the 53 overcast and windy baseball game on Saturday. Where I decided that no, it isn't time to turn off my oven for the season, and I can make one more sweet treat before I resort entirely to the grill.

Of course, my first choice was chocolate chip bars, but then I decided that maybe I should be nice to Little Miss and see if I could make something dairy-free instead. I thought about what I could do for awhile, and I finally came up with an idea. And luckily, I had frozen blueberries in my freezer -- as opposed to sitting on my counter? -- so we were in luck.

I present you with...

Blueberry Crumble Bars

1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 t baking powder
3 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 c shortening - if you aren't dairy free, use butter and it will taste even better
1 egg
1/2 t almond extract
4 c blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 orange, zested
1/2 c white sugar
1 T cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1/2 cup each brown and white sugar, 3 cups flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the shortening, almond extract and egg. The dough will be crumbly.

Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Add the orange zest, and mix again. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust, then crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes then turn up the heat to 400 degrees for the last 15 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

My husband, who claims to not like dairy free desserts, went for seconds while I was putting the wee ones to bed. His second square about about 3x3". He pronounced it a winner, and Little Miss asked me to make it again. I think I will. Once summer in Chicago ends -- assuming it ever starts!

It reminds me a lot of my mom's blueberry streusel coffeecake without pretending to be something that's for breakfast that I instead eat anytime I start getting hungry, whether it's 8am or 9pm, once it's made. I like that it's lighter and more unique than a lot of the bar recipes I have.

And of course, as always go check out this week's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed With Grace!


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Leave Her At Home

It's that season again... garage sales are everywhere. In fact, biking home from the park today after a playdate, Mister Man and I went past a neighbor who appeared to be sorting items for an upcoming garage sale. Generally, I stay far away from them. I really don't need anything, and taking the wee ones is always a dicey proposition.

However, before the playdate today, my mom happened to be with me at Mister Man's t-ball game, and we took her car. As we drove past a garage sale on the street before mine -- so close, yet so far from the friendly confines of my garage -- my mom spotted one and asked if I wanted to stop.

Before I could answer, both the wee ones piped up enthusiastically. I sighed and agreed.

The good news is that the people holding the garage sale apparently don't have children. Phew. I didn't have to do any replacing of objects that absolutely were not coming home with us regardless of the efficacy of the puppy dog eyes thrown my way.

On the other hand, my mom found something she couldn't live without. The glasses she has at her house are an angled blue glass. She's had them for years, and I doubt there's a full set remaining.

These people were selling a similar, albeit narrower, blue angled glass set. In fact, there were eight water glasses and twelve juice glasses. They were asking six dollars for the set.

My mom looked at me and whispered whether I would ask if they'd take five instead of six. Now, keep in mind that my mom is banned from setting foot inside a car showroom after she told the salesman that they should ask more for car X because it had a built in car phone (this was wayyy back in the day). They finally bought my mom's current car after she set off the alarm while sitting in it, and it took a good twenty minutes to find the appropriate set of keys to turn it off. My mom was so embarrassed that she insisted my dad purchase that exact car for the sticker price.

I sighed and said I'd ask. Then I noticed that the wee ones were picking up some random Halloween items, placing them on the bar stools and then spinning the bar stools until the Halloween items went flying off. Needless to say, I took a detour to explain to the wee ones what appropriate garage sale behavior looks like.

When I turned around again, the garage sale lady was placing half the glasses -- ok, technically less than half, since it was only the water glasses -- into a box and handing my mom some change.

I hid my smile of congratulations at my mom's acumen in getting what she wanted -- forgetting for the moment that when we were in China, I was the one who had to wade into the sea of trinket salespeople at each stop our tour bus made to rescue my mom because man can those people smell a sucker at 50 yards.

She walked up to me and proudly showed me the glasses. She had decided that she didn't actually need or want the juice glasses and had bargained for just the water glasses. And instead of paying the full six dollars, she happily announced that when the woman asked what she'd pay for them, she announced she'd give five dollars.

I was afraid to ask. I'm not sure if the five dollars was stuck in her head as a good deal because that's originally what she was going to ask to pay for the entire set of glasses or whether she thought that breaking up the set and leaving only twelve juice glasses meant that she should pay more than half the asking price. Or whether the bats flew out of her belfry and her tongue got tangled up as they escaped via her mouth.

Regardless, I'm so not taking her with me the next time I go to a garage sale.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A New Definition

This afternoon, we (stupidly) went to a local high school baseball game. Yes, it was June 6, but it was 53 degrees. There was no sun, and the famous Chicago wind was blowing. We were the only people in the stands without a blanket. Or real coats -- I had on a jacket, and the wee ones were wearing their raincoats and rainboots because they had seen it rain earlier in the day. Do I really need to explain beyond that?

Fortunately, we didn't show up until the end of the bottom of the third, so the game was well underway by the time we got there. Without much room we were in the top corner of the bleachers, with a little flat space behind us that gives access to the press box. Two boys were playing up there, and Mister Man was of course very interested in that himself.

I let him go up there, as well, while I tried to watch the game and shrink further into myself to try to stay warm. Fortunately, Little Miss periodically needed to come snuggle with me to warm up, so that helped.

After awhile, I heard something whispering in my ear.

Pssst. Psssst. Psssst, Mom!

I turned around with my polite mom face on (don't tell me you aren't familiar with it) Yes, Sweetheart?

Mom, those guys over there -- pointing to the two boys still playing up there -- they aren't teenagers or kids. They're adults!

Ummm, ok? How do you know this?

I then received the five year old look of derision. Well, look, Mom. One of them has a phone.

Errm. Umm. Yeah, only adults can have phones. No, Mister Man, you may not have your own phone. Yep, those little pipsqueaks (somewhere between 11 and 14, as I don't yet do estimations of potentially middle school aged children) are certainly not teenagers. Way to use your powers of deduction to figure out that they must be adults.

I wonder how long this ruse will last. Do you think he'll figure out pretty soon that there are first graders in our district with their own cell phones that they bring to school in their backpacks?

Friday, June 5, 2009


I'll take "Things I'll Never Again Do With My Children for $1,000" please, Alec.

Answer: What is go mini-golfing?

Why you might ask? Why would I choose to forever abandon this time-honored family friendly activity? I answer your query while I sit on the couch icing my feet. Yep, icing. Feet. That's both of 'em.

Of course, it was partly my fault. Come June, I wear sandals of some sort every day I possibly can. Even when it's in the mid-50s and I'm wearing jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt, and a water resistant jacket to ward off the rain. Yep, mini-golf in the rain. Ok, fine. In the drizzle. In the rain sounds better though, doesn't it?

Let's commence the list of reasons I will not be mini-golfing again with the wee ones:

1) Do you remember when you're a kid and you do something that drives your parents batty and they tell you to just wait until you have kids of your own? Yeah. It's payback time. It's possible that when I was ohhh fourteen or so, I was banned by my parents from ever again playing mini-golf. It might have something to do with me being mildly competitive and rotten at anything remotely golf related.

2) The wee ones had an issue with the concept of multiple holes. As soon as they (finally) got a ball in the hole, they would promptly drop the club and ball and run ahead. I eventually left the clubs and balls behind and began to tee myself up. They did eventually start remembering to keep their stuff with them. Otherwise, they finally realized there was no more golf for them.

3) I had to threaten to take them home. At hole two. And three. Where I explained that if they set foot off the sidewalk or golf green again, that was it. This was in response to them running all over the place exploring the oh so cool waterfalls and ponds and climbing on the rocks that they don't usually see and generally acting like three and five year olds -- unfortunately in a place not designed for three and five year olds.

4) I made the mistake of standing too close to Little Miss while watching my husband hit the ball. She swung her club around like a baton. It managed to connect with my knuckles on a direct hit. Ow. OW.

5) I made the mistake of standing within four feet of Little Miss and thinking that was far enough away while I watched my husband putt. She was standing on some steps and was higher than me. She then dropped her club. It landed right on the joint between my toes and my foot. It's now swollen and bruised around two of my toes. This is why my right foot is being iced.

6) I made the mistake (are we sensing a theme here?) of using my foot to point out where on the green Mister Man should tee off. He had started almost on the sidewalk, which would not have boded well for getting the ball into the hole in under 20 strokes. While my foot was pointing out the correct spot, he placed his ball on the correct spot. Hard. Yep, right on the joint between my big toe and my foot. It's also bruised now, and my left foot also has an ice pack sitting on it.

7) I made the mistake (yet another one) of trying to teach the wee ones how to hit the ball by themselves rather than just helping them hold the club. There was a hole where you had to hit the ball hard enough to go up a pretty significant hill. I explained, gave him a few practice swings with me holding the club to give him an idea of how it felt, and then I stepped away. But not far enough away. Yep, that club cracked me in the wrist pretty hard. On the plus side, no bruising or ice pack needed so far.

8) Being the parents who foster independence, we tried to let the wee ones hit their own balls but also teach them the correct way to hold the clubs and stand. Let's just say that the wee ones have no careers ahead of them in the world of golf. And possibly nowhere in athletics. It didn't sink in no matter how many times we demonstrated and moved them into position, etc. And unfortunately, if you stand cock-eyed and have the club facing sideways, it's going to take a long time to get the ball into the hole. Which brings us to number nine....

9) We were at the mini-golf place when other people were also there. In fact, people who knew how to play the game and didn't have small children were behind us. Repeatedly. Trying to explain to the wee ones that they had to hurry to get through a hole but then had to sit on a bench while we waited for other people to play the hole we'd just finished and then the next hole, well, let's just say that wasn't easy. And one poor group played the first hole, saw us at the second hole and just moved to the alternate course. Sorry, people -- I tried to be considerate at least!

On the plus side, I really have only nine reasons. Sorta like the back nine of a golf course? Ok, so that's a stretch, but it's still funny in my head.

So why on earth would I put myself through this torture, you ask? Well, I was kind of obligated to do so. My husband is a coach, and the team and their parents wanted to thank the whole family for all he did this year and for us giving him up so many days and nights and weekends. They took us to dinner at Steak & Shake and mini-golf was the next stop. I tried to beg off, but they wouldn't let me.

And with the team being so grateful, how could we not try it at least?

There was one small silver lining, however. I did beat my husband by two strokes. Oh, and I got to see him "help" the wee ones at one hole where a median with a sharp point separated two tracks. Both the wee ones managed to hit the corner and not make it really down either path. My husband somehow managed to hit the corner head on and have his ball bounce back past the tee and off the green. Oops. Me? Yeah, that was my single hole in one on the course!

I'm still done with mini-golf though. At least until my feet heal.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Who Needs It?

I've realized that I lack enough time in the day to get done what I really want and need to do. I keep saying that I'll do X whenthe wee ones are in school and I have more time. And there are lots of Xs.

I finally have a solution. There is something I need to give up, as it's really wasting a lot of my time. I'm sure many of you have seen posts lately from people giving up their blogs because they've realized that the blogs are taking too much time away from family and activities. No worries, that's not what this post is about.

I've got it all figured out. If I can give up sleep, I've just earned myself an extra six or seven hours a night to do all the things I've wanted to.

Granted, it will be hard to volunteer at the hippotherapy barn, so that one still has to wait until the wee ones are in school, but there are lots of other opportunities. So long as I can talk my husband into putting a studio in the basement, I can finally get back to ceramics. And by back to, I mean relearn how to do it since I haven't anything with pottery since I was in the sixth grade or so.

I also need a studio to do some glass blowing. I don't know why, but I've always been fascinated by the art of glass blowing. Making your art from something so amorphous and delicate appeals to me. There likely isn't a completely right or wrong way to do it, which means my pieces don't have to be perfect -- and it just looks so peaceful.

My other dream when I have more time "someday" is to learn to decorate cakes. I see what some people can do, and I'm just in awe. I love Ace of Cakes, and even seeing the creativity that other bloggers display with their cakes for their children. The cakes I see that some people buy for children's birthday parties are awfully cool, and I constantly think "hey, I could do that... if I only knew how." And I'd actually enjoy doing all the baking and carving and coloring and decorating. I'm still signing up for a class at the local community college once the wee ones are in school. But I'll at least practice now with my newfound no need for sleep time.

With an extra third of the day, I would also finally find time to do yoga even on my busy days. It's possible that this idea is inspired by the fact that my arms are still mildly sore today after my first yoga class in probably two months. And the yoga class I go to now is intense! This also might ensure that I don't miss any of my running days. Oooo, I'm liking this!

I might also be able to subscribe to the newspaper again. I gave it up last September when the e of unread newspapers surpassed ten inches. The Depression Era Baby in me can't pay for something like that and then not read them. It took me awhile to get through them, but I finally did. Of course, now my magazine pile has grown significantly. And no, I haven't renewed any magazines in two years. That means I have only four magazines I receive -- three are auto-subscriptions due to work and my gym; the other is a Christmas present from my SIL. Without sleeping, I might be able to actually read some books for fun. I love that idea.

And best of all? With my newly found time that I won't be spending sleeping... I'm going to be just enjoying the quiet. No phones ringing. No children needing my help. No husband making noise. Even the kitties will be silent. And the birds. And the neighbors -- no kids outside screaming and playing, no adults mowing lawns or doing home construction. Ahhhh...

Ok, so maybe it isn't realistic. Do you think I can manage to dream about it tonight at least?

So what would you give up to gain time?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tasty Tuesday!

I'm really starting to enjoy the weather here in Chicago. Or I was for two days until I commented on how nice it was. Sunday night I was awakened by thunder close enough it was shaking my house at 3:39am. Storms on Monday, storms and mid-60s today. Tomorrow it's forecast in the low 60s. I think on Friday we might hit 70 again.

Remind me not to say anything about nice weather again.

However, I am starting to move more towards the fresh, raw foods of summer that I enjoy and that I know are that much better for me. This one is one of my favorites. Even my husband who only likes tomatoes if they're cooked (he's weird; what can I say?) enjoys this one -- in limited quantities. I'm all good with that though, since that means there's more for me!

Mideast Pita Salad

3 whole wheat pitas, lightly toasted in the oven or on the grill if it isn't storming
8 plum tomatoes, large chopped
2 cucumbers, sliced and cut in half
6 green onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 c parsley, chopped
2/3 c cilantro, chopped
1/2 c mint, chopped
6 T lemon juice
6 T olive oil
1/4 t salt

Makes ~12 1 cup portions

Toast pita oven or on the grill, then break into bite sized pieces. Cut up the veggies as described above. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and mint to a large bowl. Stir gently, then add pitas, lemon juice and olive oil. Stir again. Add salt and toss well.

Chill and serve (can be served immediately -- best within 1 full day).

Enjoy! I know I did. That's why we have no pictures again this week unless you want one of an empty bowl....

And of course, as always go check out this week's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed With Grace!

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