Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Innocence Vs. Reality

Isn't it interesting how parenthood brings out issues within yourself that you never knew about before? For instance, I am apparently a control freak. I need order. Routine. I never knew this until I had kids, and I suspect that it's been there all along. In the same way, I've discovered something else about myself that's only recently come to the forefront. And here's how I've discovered it.

When reading fairy tales to Mia, I skip over the parts about death. The princess doesn't die after she pricks her finger on the spinning wheel, she merely falls ill. Peter Rabbit's father didn't die in Mrs. McGregor's pie, he just had an accident.

We fast forward through the beginning of Finding Nemo, in order to spare Mia's seeing Nemo's mom die.

Even worse, with Easter having just been celebrated I've skipped over the most important part. The entire meaning of and reason for Easter. Jesus' death and resurrection. It feels too big and terrible for a 3 year old to understand. Sometimes it's too big and terrible for me to understand.

I have the thought in the back of my head that kids at this age just accept things as they are, but I still can't bring myself to end this innocence of her life before the knowledge of death.

This leaves me in a tight spot, because what happens when she needs to know about death? What happens when there is a loss of someone close to us? Will we have put off teaching the information about death for too long and she'll be devastated by knowing about the end? Or am I once again over-thinking this whole thing? (I'm pretty sure that's why this phrase even popped into my head yesterday - it's been on my mind.)

The other day, Mia fell back dramatically on the couch cushions, breathlessly declaring, "I just died mama...I'm died." I smiled and nodded, not wanting to thwart her imaginary play, but startled by her choice of words. Where she'd heard those words, I don't know. Certainly not from me, the anti-death patrol. It was apparent that she didn't know the meaning of her own words, but they haunted me all day.

Death is so close to us, such a real part of our lives, that I can't ignore it. And I know it'll have to be dealt with sooner or later.

How do you talk to your kids about death? Do you sugar coat it? Lay it all out, facts on the line? Or wait until it's absolutely necessary before approaching the subject?

Advise me, before I gloss over this issue until my 3 year old is 10 years old. I wouldn't put it past myself to do just that, using my ever-trusty avoidance. It's gotten me this far. How much longer can it last?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mia, Mia, Quite Contrary

Mia objects to almost everything these days. She contradicts anything we assert as truth.


We girls are in Mia's room, where we're trying to clean up a tremendous mess. Lauren is undoing our straightening as soon as it's accomplished.

As I pull her away from the alphabet puzzle for the 14th time, I mutter, "Ohhh, Lauren Jade you're gonna be the death of me."

"No I'M gonna be the death of you! I'm the one, mama." Mia says this with a stern expression and tells me over and over until I acknowledge that "YES, you will in fact be the death of me."

She might have just hit the nail on the head.

Death by contrariness. Contrarity? Contractions?

Yes, that's it. Death by prolonged contractions. A few years' worth.

The Breakfast Bath

When Mia was a baby, she got a series of rashes that were never diagnosed as anything in particular. They were just a nuisance. We assumed she had sensitive skin, and tried to relieve the rash-itch with several different lotions and treatments. Nothing made the rash disappear, and we don't really know if anything helped it feel much better - her being a baby and not able to talk kept us kind of in the dark.

As she grew up though, the rashes became few and far between until they eventually stopped altogether. No more sensitive skin! No more red bumps marring her perfect skin! Hurray!

Except, not so much. That same rash is back again, only this time she can talk. About the rash. All day. But that's not the point.

The point is, she's old enough to be involved with taking care of the problem. She asks for lotion or rash cream when she gets particularly itchy, and last night I offered her one more option.

We had some leftover oatmeal bath from her baby rashes, and I hoped these would soothe her itching for a while. I told her about this 'special' bath she could take, and she was really excited; Not for it's soothing properties, but for it's silly properties. She thought it was hilarious that she'd be bathing in oatmeal. I didn't correct her line of thinking - the wheels were turning behind her thoughtful eyes, and I could see her imagining herself swimming in a tub full of warm Quaker Oatmeal.

Later, as we were getting everything ready for bathtime (translation: trying to keep Lauren's hands out of the toilet as we gathered towels, jammies, etc.) she kept asking if she could have her oatmeal bath yet, please!

Being somewhat preoccupied by all the baby-in-toilet action, I kept putting Mia off with distracted answers. Not being content with my inattention to her needs (The oatmeal bath! Please?!) she took matters into her own hands.

As we were drying Lauren's freshly washed toilet-water hands, Mia came around the corner waving a bag of instant oatmeal she'd dug out of the pantry.

"OoooKAAAY!! Heeeeere's my OATMEEEAL! It's time for my breakfast bath! Let's go mama!" She shook the bag triumphantly, proud that she'd found a way around my annoying bath postponement.

Even when I told her it would be an entirely different kind of oatmeal bath, she still didn't lose her joyful anticipation.

Good grief. If my kids were any cuter, I'd just about die from adoration.

Toilet water soaked, oatmeal bathed, red bumpy rashed as they may be.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Knight In Shining Exoskeleton

After my horrifying experience with an alien bug the other day, I was in no shape for any more bug encounters. I was still in shock from the close proximity of the hairy-leggy creature, and feared for my levels of sanity when Justin pointed out a giganto cricket to me this weekend.

Like that's something I enjoy seeing.

Crickets, for some reason, are my biggest bug-fear. They jump incredibly far. Their spindly legs have, like, thorns on them. Their bulbous bodies are covered in shiny armour. Shudder.

Still, I couldn't stop myself from going to see what Justin had discovered. After all, if he was there he'd be the one to take care of it, so I could at least satisfy my curiosity by peeking around the doorway of the bathroom.

He was right. This cricket was monstrous. If it could've spoken, it's would've sounded eerily similar to James Earl Jones, I'm sure. It was perched on the shower curtain, at about waist height.

I handed him a fly swatter and backed away quickly to watch from a distance. I had to keep an eye on the situation - what if the cricket got away!? And I had to admit, there was a good chance it would get away since Justin was the one trying to kill it.

Now, he's completely capable of killing bugs. He has good aim; he's quick and steady. The thing is...he also likes to make me squirm. Very often, he'll poke at a bug, just to hear me scream when it jumps. He'll get within an inch of the insect and stare at it, pretending scientific interest. In the course of this examination it sometimes happens that the bug escapes, and I'm left huddled in a corner, bemoaning my fate in attracting a husband who would taunt me so.

This time, I didn't want him taking any chances. No pussyfooting. No games.

"Don't mess around Justin! Just kill it!" He bent down to get a closer look, and - nearing hysteria - I pleaded with him, "JUST KILL IT!"

I can understand how some might mistake pleading for yelling, but that was not the case, I assure you. I was in total control of my person. Kind of. Okay, I may have yelled.

This time I think the cricket was even too big for Justin's manly comfort level, and he nailed it on the first shot. Since it was clinging to a soft shower curtain with nothing behind it to lend support for a good smashing, Justin hit it really forcefully.

So forcefully, that bits and pieces of the enormous cricket went flying in all directions. Most of it landed dear bug killer extraordinaire.

Poor Justin. If he's completely comfortable around bugs, he's the exact opposite around gross messy messes. There were cricket guts in his hair. On his face. On his arms.

I tried not to laugh. I tried not to consider this payback for all the times he's teased me when all I've asked is for him to kill a bug. I tried to work up the desire to help him find all the bits of goo and exoskeleton lodged in his hair.

I failed.

Now, we're even.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Licensed To Kill

Earlier this week as I was lying on my bed reading during the girls' naptime, (what, you expected something productive during naps?) something caught the corner of my eye. High on the wall near the ceiling, was a bug.

Not merely a bug, though. A million-legged, long-antennaed, fuzzy-haired, alien-spawned creature that moved along the wall quicker than seemed possible. It was silver and graceful, and despite it's smallish size I froze, stifling a scream.

I hate bugs. Spiders and crickets are the worst, but whatever this creepy thing was had claimed the top spot at that moment.

The only thing I hate more than bugs? Smashing bugs. Surely as soon as I'm close enough to get within killing distance, hundreds of tiny eyes will have noticed what I'm up to. I'm absolutely positive that the bug will then jump on me, and try to kill me first. So I usually rely on my trusty bug killer/knight in shining armor to save me from the killer bugs.

But this time, Justin wasn't home to deal with it so I had to suck it up and get rid of the thing. No way was I going to leave it alone and hope for the best. How could I sleep in that room ever again knowing this terrible bug was lying in wait? What if, due to some congestion, I had to mouth-breath during sleep, and that evil bug crawled....

Never mind. I'm this close to giving myself a nightmare.

I grabbed the biggest shoe I could find. The moment I started moving around, the alien bug stopped. Like it wanted to keep an eye (or a hundred eyes?!) on my clumsy human movements. It had come to a halt directly over the mirror above our dresser - way out of my reach. I would have to straddle the space between the bed and the dresser, and launch myself at the bug all while maintaining precision accuracy in my smashing aim. If I missed and the bug went into hiding or worse - jumped at me - I was sure I would pee myself. The more I thought about what I'd have to do, the more frightened I became. I was shaking. Sweat beads popped out on my upper lip. I was startled to realize I had begun giving myself a pep talk - out loud.

Just DO it Sarah. You HAVE to. Do it NOW.

I turned my head away quickly for one last deep breath before I jumped, praying the bug wouldn't escape while my eyes were squinched shut. It didn't.

I jumped.

I screamed.

The shoe landed directly on the target, with a thud and a crunch.

The adrenaline and momentum that had propelled me up and over waned immediately, and I shook as I lowered myself to the floor from the top of the dresser. I peeked at the bottom of the shoe to make absolutely sure the bug was dead.


The bottom of the shoe was clean. Empty.

No, I'm just kidding.

The bug was there, unrecognizable as it was. I was shaking so badly that I was sure the shoe would drop and the bug would use up it's last bit of nerve power to crawl up my leg. Before I even knew it had happened, though, I was at the back door, throwing it open, chucking the shoe onto the porch, and slamming the door shut again. I locked it with finality, and did a full body shiver.

I really hate bugs.

Is something CRAWLING ON ME?

Friday, April 24, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday, #11

1. For this week's quick takes, I've got a lot of pictures. It was such a beautiful week, that we spent a lot of time outside.

The first thing we got accomplished was planting our veggies in the raised bed. At the "seed store," as Mia called it, we got some great advice and help from the staff who went out of their way to teach me a thing or forty about growing vegetables. We came away with carrots, beans, tomatoes, red bell peppers, cabbage, and broccoli.

Mia insisted on the cabbage, for reasons unknown to me. She's never liked it, except to point them out in the store. They are huge...and round...and therefore they are interesting? Maybe seeing them grow will make her more agreeable to actually eating cabbage.

And for the broccoli, we got it planted so late in the season that it may or may not grow well. Since it's a colder crop and we're getting into the warmer days, we may have missed our chance. But the little plants were sitting on the counter so innocently, not knowing yet that they'd soon be destined for the compost heap, and I thought what the heck. So we're giving them a shot.

2. In honor of Earth Day, we had a picnic. Rather, in honor of a day that's pretty enough to be outside, we couldn't stay inside. So I popped the picnic idea to Mia and she was more than happy to oblige. The girls sat in the shade for quite a while so I could gather our food. It never fails to give me warm fuzzies when they play together so sweetly.

And surprisingly enough, Lauren sat still for the whole lunch. It shouldn't really be surprising - she's an amazingly thorough eater.

But when she finished eating, she went off to bring us some lovely spring blooms. Sweet girl.

3. One of the most exciting parts of our week has been our new swing set! The night it was being built, we kept taking breaks in the bedtime routine to go peek at the progress and congratulate the workers on their 'great job.' Mia was very encouraging.

The next morning (after swinging and sliding all night in her dreams, I imagine) Mia went outside as soon as her cereal was eaten and got down to business. She is beyond happy with our new toy.

4. The fajitas I made last night turned out really good, surprisingly enough. I prepared a plate minus cheese for Mia, knowing that the presence of anything white, yellow, or melty on her plate would cause a tantrum. She has hated cheese for so long that I can't even remember a time when she's willingly eaten it. As a baby she tolerated cheese, before snubbing it altogether. This dislike of cheese is one of the many reasons I stare at her in bewilderment from time to time. Not like cheese? You serious, Clark?

Last night, however, was a slight breakthrough. Seeing a pile of shredded cheese on her sister's plate, Mia politely asked for a pile of her own. She declared it 'delicious' and ate quite a lot. I did a little dance for joy, while Justin and Lauren stared on in disbelief (at my dancing skills, not Mia's cheese-eating skills, I think). Mia was oblivious due to her new found love: fancy shredded colby-jack.

5. I was talking to my friend Jill a few days ago about the appetites of our children. It amazes me how much Lauren can eat. She shovels food in like it's the last food on the face of the earth, asking for more when I'm sure her little belly is stretched to it's limits. This morning she had a large bowl of cereal, an entire nectarine, and a pile of cheerios. All of this after she'd nursed. She just loves food.

Mia, on the other hand, has adopted the eating habits of many toddlers her age. We often have to beg and plead with her to eat - even if it's something she loves. She gets so consumed with whatever game she's pretending at the moment, and doesn't feel the need to eat. Her fork will become a slide on which the carrots want to play; her cup becomes a trampoline. When those things are taken away, her index finger becomes a monkey, dancing out of reach of the alligator lounging on her plate. It's never ending. With all this fun going on in her growing mind, how could she possibly hit pause long enough to fill up with healthy food?

6. I've been reading The Count of Monte Cristo for a few days now, and may I just say: Wowza. I'm loving it. I've seen the movie and enjoyed it, but the book has so much more detail and emotion. It's wonderful. Isn't this the case with all movies that are based on books? Have you ever read a book, seen the movie, and then preferred the movie experience? I can't think of any instances where I haven't liked the book better.

7. This morning, Mia woke up before Justin or I had gotten out of bed. This is happening more and more frequently. (Not because we're sleeping later, sadly, but because she's waking earlier.) She used to play in her room for the longest time before coming out into the house, but now she's discovered the excitement of opening her own door and coming to snuggle with us for a few minutes.

For the purposes of this story I should also mention that she's very aware of smells, and whenever anyone has bad breath in the morning she kindly alerts them to their folly. She calls it "the yucky." Sometimes she'll even fetch the offender a cup of water to help remedy the situation. She's always startled when she wakes up having the yucky in her own mouth. It's quite a rude awakening.

So this morning as she lay sandwiched between us, she happened to be facing Jusin. After they had snuggled for a second, she lifted up and said, "OH! Daddy has the yucky!! I have to back AWAY!" At which point she arched her back as far away from him as she could, while still facing him.

I can only assume she knew the yucky would be far worse if she turned over to face me. She is a smart girl.

Enjoy your weekend, and head over to Jen's for more quick takes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'm Available For Catering

Last night's dinner did not go as planned.

I started the preparations with dessert, because really, who am I kidding? I'm fairly addicted to sweets.

There were two bananas sitting on my counter that had been headed for no-man's land for a few days, and I decided to bake a banana cake. I'm on a frugality kick right now (who isn't?) so using every last bit of food that's been purchased was very appealing. There was also some buttermilk in the fridge that was a little past it's sell by date, but I figured it's buttermilk...aka sour milk. It still smelled and looked right to me, and my mom thought it wouldn't matter too much either, so I used it.

Have I ever mentioned that I wouldn't be able to make a thing in the kitchen without my mom's advice? Yes? Well it's true.

By the time I got all the ingredients put together, I realized I didn't have enough sugar. And my bananas were on the small side so they didn't add up to the amount called for in the recipe. And all I had for shortening was some butter flavored monstrosity that's been sitting in my cupboard for so long that I'd completely forgotten about it.

No matter, I threw it all in the oven and hoped for the best. Next step: dinner.

Justin and I had watched a cooking show a few nights ago that featured a Lamb Ragu Pasta Bake thing that looked really good. Apparently, it's a Greek interpretation of lasagna. After the show was over, I decided that I could probably make a similar version, so I scribbled down a few notes about the sauce. Bechamel sauce, maybe? Is that a real thing?

We had some leftover meatballs from last week that nobody really liked very well due to the overabundance of onions. I broke them up into a pan, hoping that by browning them and cooking the onions a little longer, it would take the place of fresh ground meat. Again, I was feeling good about my non-wasteful meal plans.

What I forgot to take into account, though, was the fact that there were oats mixed into the meatballs. All went well until I added the tomato sauce to the meat mixture. Sauce + oats + meat = meaty tomato oatmeal. It resembled canned cat food. Yum.

However, we were getting too close to dinnertime and, as I had no other options, I plowed ahead. Also, the thought of wasting all that food was tormenting me. I had to make the best of it. The fallacy of escalating commitment made me do it. (That's the single item I remember from Econ 101. Although I'm sure my professor would say I'm not using it in quite it's intended capacity.)

As long as I got the pasta bake into the oven before Justin got home and saw what it looked like, we would probably be OK. The bechamel (??) sauce on top turned out delicious. It was basically a thick white sauce with parmesan cheese and it camouflaged nicely the distorted meat sauce below.

It smelled good, it looked good (as long as you were a starving person being distracted by two lively little girls), and surprisingly enough, it didn't taste anything like cat food. Score!

Best of all, Mia only gagged twice.

And my banana cake? Not very appealing in the end. I've been eating it anyway, because it's kinda sweet and soft and squishy...clearly I have my priorities straight.

If stay at home moms received paychecks, last night I'm pretty sure I would've been re-paying back taxes.

And penalties.

And then I would've gotten fired.

Happily, I work for free, so they're stuck with me.


Wish me luck for dinner tonight - I'm trying a new fajita marinade recipe. I bought fresh ginger for the first time ever, and it's been taunting me from the counter...trying to confuse me with all it's nooks and crannies. I WILL NOT BE DETERRED!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Cool Thing About Grandpa's... that if you're really lucky, you get one that works at a tractor store. And on wet spring weekends, those tractor stores sometimes host fun events to attract customers to their products. He'll wrangle a balloon down from it's decorative perch, and place it on your wrist while you giggle excitedly over your good fortune.

If you happen to get the very very coolest grandpa, he'll make sure you have the most fun possible at such an event, even if it means folding himself into quarters to help you drive a mini-tractor.

He'll let you steer the tractor all by yourself...or at least until you stop watching what you're doing. In that case, he'll helpfully take the wheel to steer you far beyond the designated tractor course, and out among the GIANT tractors.

He will point you in the direction of free hot dogs and cheetos, which you will consume with all the enthusiasm you can muster for having worn yourself out with running so very far.

Then when you can't imagine the day getting any better, your very cool grandpa will speed around the corner of the building in a battery operated Gator. He will have anticipated that a loud tractor would scare the pee out of you, and searched for an available Gator which is as quiet as a mouse. He'll put you on his lap so you can steer the Great! Big! Car! and take you for a spin around the parking lot.

You'll love it so much that your way cool grandpa will pick up the speed until your long hair is blowing far behind your smiling face. At this point, if you're lucky enough to have such a grandpa, he'll be thinking this is the most fun he's had in a long time. He'll be thinking that grandkids are cooler than even he himself. And that's quite a statement when your grandpa is so darn awesome.

By the time your Gator ride has come to an end, your laughter will have overcome you to such an extent that you would hardly be able breath, tears would be pooling in your eyes, and hiccups will have begun.

It will have been a perfect morning, made that way by the attention of a totally rad grandpa.

That is, if you are lucky enough to have been blessed with the very coolest of grandpa's.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

C-U-T-E Spells Liar

I quietly peeked into Mia's bedroom one day after naptime was over. Cracking the door open just a bit to see what she was up to, I was greeted with a bright room - unusual for naptime. Her shades are usually drawn, with a light left on behind the closed closet door to provide a tiny bit of light. But this time, the closet door had been thrown open, revealing tons of toys surrounding Mia on her bed.

She was awake, and ready to get up for snacktime. I leaned down to chat with her for a minute about getting out of bed to open the closet door and get all her toys to play with, when she should have been quietly napping.

Before I could get started on my lecture, Mia announced that she'd put on chapstick, and used it all up. I looked closer at her face and - sure enough - it was shiny and greasy. As was the wispy hair framing her cheeks. She pointed to her dresser, and there sat my favorite chapstick. I'd let her use it earlier that day, and forgotten to put it out of reach. But it wasn't all that close to being empty, so I started to get concerned about the fact that Mia had assured me it was all gone.

I picked up the now weightless tube and opened it - empty, as promised. Surely she couldn't have used it all, right?

Wrong. She led me to her closet door, showing me where she'd covered it with large stripes of waxy chapstick.

I couldn't help but laugh. I'm sure she deserved some sort of punishment for the many rules she'd broken during her "nap," but after having her tell me everything that had happened, I was too amused to push the issue.

Fast forward a few hours later to the store, where I'm picking out some new chapstick.

"Mia, I need to get a new tube of chapstick. Do you remember why?"

She looks at me calmly and states, "I don't know."

"Because," I say, "somebody used all of my old chapstick, without even asking for permission. Do you know who did that?" I'm fully expecting her to say, Oh yeah! I did that mama! Mia's still so innocent that she hasn't quite figured out she has the capability to lie about things like this.

Or so I thought.

Instead, she comes back with this: "Weeelllll.....It was a....a....a lady. Aaaaand, she just took it and she used it ALL up, and her name was....uh uh uh...her name was Gone. It was a lady named Gone, mama. Aaannd, weeellll, she just wanted to use it so she took it."

The entire time she was reeling out this gigantic whopper, she was playing with a toy, looking completely nonchalant. Folks, what we have here is a LIAR! Had her story been more believable, her delivery would have been perfect.

While I'm fairly certain there was no lady named Gone, I now know that some innocence has gone. She'll only get better at lying.

I hope I get better at cracking down on it, because I'm pretty sure my indulgent laughter was no form of punishment.

She's too cute for my own good.

Friday, April 17, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday, #10

1. Last week I saw a picture on Daring Young Mom's blog of a sign in a parking lot reminding shoppers to bring their reusable bags. It cleverly states, "A bag in the hand is worth 2 in the car." She goes on to mention that she not only forgets the bags in the car, but also forgets to give them to the cashier.

I had to laugh at that, because back when I first got my reusable shopping bags, I frequently forgot to hand them over at check out time. Then as time wore on, I'd just forget about them altogether, leaving them at home or in the car. All this forgetting also extended to my painstakingly located coupons, but that's another post.

Seeing that cute sign made me pull up my britches and vow that I'd do a better job of toting my bags into the store more often. Starting with my very next shopping trip.

When shopping day rolled around, I made a point to fold all my bags nicely and sit them right by the baby (*choke* she's a toddler now...) in the carseat so I'd remember them. I carried them proudly into the store, noticing the people in the checkout lanes as I walked past and their lack of reusable bags. I thought about all the plastic bags those people would be consuming, and smiled a little to myself - no plastic for

Any guesses as to who forgot to give her bags to the cashier YET AGAIN? Certainly it couldn't have been MOI?! Oh, but it was.

I wiped my smug smile off right quick, but it took some doin' - pride is a clingy substance.

2. Danelle - a friend of mine - has been searching high and low for the perfect name for her new baby boy who will be born in June. (She has a poll up on her blog; you should go cast a vote for your favorite name.) I found this cool site,, with Danelle in mind, but it's really fun even if you're not looking to name a baby. I spent quite a while messing around with personality trait combinations and perusing the site's suggestions. Check it out and tell me what you think. Especially you, Danelle! Maybe it'll give you some more choices or just some fun for a few minutes.

The truth is, I'm always looking to find that perfect baby name...I'll just have to have a really large family in order to accommodate all the beautiful names I've claimed we'll use one day.

3. I need a scholar's help. How am I related to my cousin's cousin? We share no blood, but my aunt is her aunt, my cousins are her cousins. Is she my second cousin? Is she once or twice removed? How in the world is that relationship properly expressed? Is "cousin's cousin" the best way?

All this to say: check out my cousin's cousin, Becky's, blog. She has a beautiful post up announcing her miraculous pregnancy after years of infertility and adoption. Her two adopted children are miracles in themselves, but it's wonderful to witness her joy and faith at this new surprise. Her words are a great reminder about the frailty of our own plans and expectations in light of God's work in our lives.

Blessings to Becky and her family on their newest miracle.

4. Speaking of blessings...I have dirt in my raised vegetable bed! Hooray! It's late in the season to plant some of the things I had hoped to plant, but our weather has been so iffy that I'm glad we've waited. Freezing temperatures have been taunting us for a few weeks, but I think I'm ready to bite the bullet and Plant! Some! Veggies! Surely my enthusiasm alone is enough to keep the frost away.

5. I ran to a convenience store yesterday to grab some vodka for a recipe I'm making, and went to the cashier with the vodka and...Oreo Cakesters. For some reason, I think it's hilarious when I purchase such weird combinations of items. I always imagine the cashier thinking odd thoughts about me...and why that pleases me, I do not know. But whenever I buy something like broccoli with ice cream, or ketchup with pop tarts, I'm secretly giggling inside. It's no wonder I forget about things like reusable shopping bags, what with all the CRAZY taking up residence in my mind.

6. I wish I could figure out how to post a video, but since I don't have the time or energy for that this morning, I'll post the link to a video instead. You should really go watch this video of a jump rope routine. My brother sent it to me, and though I have no idea how he finds these things, it's flat out fantastic. Really. My jaw was on the floor. Watch it, and be impressed by the physical coordination that some people are blessed with.

OK, that last part is just for me. I have the coordination of a dizzy baby deer. Think Bambi only worse - Bambi wearing his grandma's prescription bifocals. That's me. So, yes - I was way impressed with those jump ropers.

7. And now I'm out of quick takes. I knew it would happen one day. Mia's endless talking, questioning, and singing has left me bumfuzzled and thoughtless. At least for the moment.

Enjoy your weekend, and check out more Quick Takes over at Jen's.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oh, She Speaks And Speaks And Speaks And Speaks And Speaks

Earlier this week, I took Mia to her preschool screening for Parents as Teachers. I almost didn't take her because my mind had a very large fart that morning, preventing me from remembering the appointment. I'll try not to analyze the psychology behind why I forgot about an appointment to get her ready for preschool, except to say DUH. I don't want her to be grown up enough for preschool yet. Am I Freudian or what?

We hurried as much as a two toddlers (holy cow...when did this happen?) and a sleep deprived mom are capable of hurrying, and made it to the screening offices a mere half hour later than planned. While Mia went off to take her tests, Lauren and I played in a school cafeteria full of toys. And by that I mean that she walked in huge circles, screaming just to hear her voice echoing off the cavernous walls. I'm fairly sure the teachers in the classrooms around us were wishing us nothing but blessings.

When they were done with the screening, we sat down to discuss Mia's development. For the most part, the results showed what I already knew:
a. She's a genius. Many of her 'scores' ranked as high as a 5 year old.
b. She gets easily frustrated when she has trouble with a task; ie - cutting with scissors.
c. She's a talker. Her language scores were phenomenal for her age.
d. She's a genius. It bears repeating twice. Even if genius wasn't the exact word they used. But I do like to type it, so genius genius genius and genius. Genius.

I was pleased that somebody else noticed the talker bit. Usually, Mia can be kind of shy. Not in a genuinely timid way, but in more of an I'm-cuter-if-I-play-it-coy-and-dramatic way. For instance, several times over the past few months I've heard her say to someone "I'm just a little shy," as she tilts her head down, casts her eyes up from underneath fluttering lashes, and twirls herself around on pointed toes. If that's not a sign of impending drama, I don't know what is.

Apparently, she was comfortable enough with our parent educator (the teacher who administered the screening) to drop the fancy shyness and speak freely. As I am so often overcome by the amazing amount of words spewing out of Mia's tiny mouth, I recognized the look on the teacher's face as she told me about my daughter's language development. It was the look that says, "oh, will never know silence's twenty thousand dollars, because you deserve it."

The appointment went really well, and I feel good about knowing some areas that Mia needs help with. We'll be practicing with those child-proof scissors as soon as I can remember to get my hands on some. I'm assuming my brain will be engaged in another very large fart when it comes time to buy the scissors, too. In fact, I'm counting on it.

She won't be accepted into any self-respecting preschool if she can't work the scissors, right?

And then she'll have to stay home with me, playing with My Little Ponies and curling up in my lap for story-time.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Heavy On The Easter Pictures

I really should have separated this into two different posts, because there are so many pictures here. But I decided, nah, let's just see how fast you can skip over them with your super-fast power-scroll to the bottom of the page.

On your mark, get set, GO!

We started our Easter preparations on Friday of last week with egg painting and dyeing. Last year we didn't ever manage to get this done. Mia was only a little over two, I was awaiting the birth of Lauren (meaning I was too rotund to tread the easter egg waters), and I just didn't think it was the best idea. This year, however, I knew Mia would love the project. She got right down to business, with a look of serious concentration on her face.

There was a moment when I wondered if we really needed to go through the whole hard-boiling process, because none of the kids will actually eat them...but then I had visions of eggs being stepped on or thrown at the egg hunt and my mind was cleared. And it was a good thing, because Mia tested their strength while painting. It would have been a huge mess after she decided to crack one on the table a few times.

While Mia and I decorated eggs, Lauren toddled around in her new pants from Aunt Em. They were so cute, I had to zoom in for a close up.

She played happily, not even realizing the fun she was missing out on with the eggs on the table.

When I picked her up after she took a spill in the kitchen, she noticed the finished product, and was immediately consoled. She yelled, BA! BA! (aka: ball) at the eggs, desperately trying to convince me to give one to her. I have to admit, they did turn out pretty nicely for having a 3 year old as the production manager.

Easter morning, I went by myself to sunrise service at our church. We didn't want the girls to see their easter baskets before I got back from church, so we decided to have the Easter Bunny ring the doorbell shortly after I got home.

We told Mia that since it was so rainy, the Easter Bunny was running a bit late but he'd be here soon. She was so excited. While I got the girls dressed, Justin placed the baskets inside our front door, and rang the bell.

Mia's eyes got huge as she realized who had rung the bell. She ran out into the entryway, gave the baskets a quick glance, and then slowly peeked out the door. She was trying so hard to be brave enough to see the Easter Bunny, but the poor thing was a little nervous too. It's a good thing that bunny's really fast at hopping and got away before Mia got to see him.

Lauren was quite impressed with her basket-o-fun. But everything else was tossed away when she got hold of the goldfish crackers. It concerns me that my one year old knows the packaging well enough to covet such things.

We continued getting ready (at the speed of darkness...we were running so late) and went to breakfast at church, followed by an easter egg hunt for the kiddos.

Sweet Mia hasn't quite overcome her shyness enough to be a rapid easter egg hunter. As soon as she made the decision to get a certain egg, it would have been already grabbed up by another child. She got so frustrated; I think we need some practice rounds of this 'game' before next year. She needed to just keep going on to the next egg instead of getting sad when a particular egg was out of her reach.

Thankfully the kids were all pretty small, and the parents were all helping/directing their kids to other egg-filled locations. Mia's basket was definitely full by the end of the hunting.

Lauren was a little overwhelmed by the running and shouting, so she focused on an egg or two, and tuned the rest out.

Lauren had the most fun when we left the egg hunting for the stair climbing. I think this was her first eggs-perience (I know, I disgust myself too) with stairs and she loved it.

Later in the afternoon, we went to my aunt's house for lunch and more egg hunting. Mia knew the name of the game by then, and got a serious haul of goodies.

While poor Lauren Jade got stuck with a measly hard-boiled egg. It's just as well, darlin' - mommy and daddy would've eaten all your candy anyway.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lysol, Lysol, Wherefore Art Thou Lysol?

Question: What's the quickest way to end a long, enjoyable baby bathtime?

Answer: Floating poop.

Tonight at bathtime, Lauren was joyfully standing up, splashing down, and throwing the washcloth while I dried and lotioned her sister beside the tub. When Mia started hysterically pointing and screaming at Lauren (did you know pointing could be done in an hysterical way?), thoughts of slipping and drowning quickly flashed through my mind. I was relieved to see the baby sitting happily, enjoying her sister's loud antics.

Not so relieved when I noticed several FLOATERS within inches of her just-washed body. My mind raced as I considered what to do next. Do I run to the kitchen for a scoop of some sort? But that would require leaving the baby alone in the tub. Do I grab the biggest piece with my hand? Sweet Lord, NO - there has to be a better way! Should I get the poop out before draining the water, or hope that the drain will take care of the job for me? Who knew there was so much to take into account in emergency turd removal? These thoughts all passed in a fraction of a second, which felt like several minutes. Something needed to be done about this situation immediately.

All the while, my thought process was being sidetracked by Mia's frantic screaming about THE POO-POO! MAMA SHE POOPED! IT'S GETTING CLOSER TO HER!

I wished I wasn't the one in charge, just for tonight. (I do so LOVE being in charge, so it was a quickly passing fancy.) I wished my husband would have called in sick to his meeting and that I was kicked back with a cookie watching PBS. I wished myself anywhere but there, amidst screaming toddlers and floating poop.

Finally, I came to my senses and grabbed Lauren out of the tub just as she was about to splash herself down atop the nearest grouping of poo. She was safe. Not happy about the abrupt end to her fun, but safe nonetheless. And Mia? Well, she was just beside herself with fascination and horror.

I imagined many things when I dreamed about my life as a mother, but I must admit I never imagined this. I was ill prepared for dealing with poop in the bathtub.

Tell me I'm not alone. Tell me you've been inducted into the Tub Poop Club.

Don't You Love It...

...When a little bit of fat pops onto the broiler element, creating a little bit of smoke that sets off the fire alarm in the hallway, making it necessary for you carry a tall, heavy chair all the way to the hall in order to turn off the loud alarm only to have it abruptly stop sounding as soon as the chair is in place?

Yeah, me too.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I'm Getting Out Her Baby Book For This One

I am happy to announce that after a year of training, toil, and torment, Mia has mastered THE SPIT.

Tonight, she proudly spat dribble after dribble of toothpaste into the sink. She was so excited about conquering this challenge that she turned to watch herself in the mirror, thereby spitting directly down the side of her cheek. (So mastered is a bit of a strong word choice.)

We have been attempting the toothpaste-spit for so long that I wasn't even expecting it anymore. Usually when we say, "OK, now spit," Mia would carefully swallow the whole mouthful of toothpaste, and then give a feeble puff of air through smiling lips.

But tonight, my friends, foam actually exited her mouth. Why this is so satisfying to me, I may never understand. It just is.

This is one milestone that doesn't get nearly enough attention.

Walking? Meh. Potty-training? Pfft.

Toothpaste spitting? Now we're talkin'.

Only A Mom Would Have This Information

"Have you seen my earplugs?" asks Justin as he's getting ready to mow the lawn.

Absentmindedly, I tell him to check behind the furthest couch cushion.

He wanders to the couch, eyeing me suspiciously. I can see that he's sure I've sent him on a wild goose chase, or that I'm trying to prove a point about him looking first and asking later. But when he digs a hand into the cushions, he comes back with the missing earplugs. A miracle.

I swear, the space in my brain gets more and more cluttered as I store these mundane things inside it.

This is why I forget things like, I don't know, just as a hypothetical example, putting the towels in the dryer before they begin to smell like rotten mildew.

Not that I'd do that particular forgetful thing.

May your Easter Weekend be full of things you're glad to remember.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

In Search Of Roast Chicken, Part 2

After trying several versions of roast chicken, I had just about decided I'd never find what I was looking for. I vowed to invest in a rotisserie cooker, assuming they make one that fits in my kitchen. Because nothing I'd tried yielded delicious results. My last hope, however, surfaced before I took any drastic appliance measures. (You're welcome, Justin.)

I found this recipe several weeks ago on a great food blog - The Kitchen Sink. The think I liked most about it was the straightforward approach. You get a small chicken. You salt it. You roast it, and badabing. It's the in-depth instructions that really sold me. I need depth. I need supervision. I need someone standing over my shoulder saying, "that looks OK, but this would make it AWESOME."

(I need a personal chef. The end.)

(But where is the fun in that?)

So, without further ado, here's The Best Roast Chicken ever, from The Kitchen Sink, who got it from Zuni Cafe, therefore, she and her husband call it a "Zuni Bird."

(That turned out to be further ado, no?)

Zuni Roast Chicken - The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers

One 2 3/4 to 3 1/2 lb. chicken
4 tender sprigs fresh thyme, marjoram, rosemary, or sage, about 1/2-inch long
About 1/4 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

Seasoning the chicken (1 to 3 days before serving; for 3 1/4 lb. to 3 1/2 pound chickens, at least 2 days): Remove and discard the lump of fat inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken and pat very dry inside and out. Be thorough—a wet chicken will spend too much time steaming before it begins to turn golden brown. Approaching from the edge of the cavity, (ohhhh, the cavity again...I skipped this part despite my love of rosemary.) slide a finger under the skin of each of the breasts, making a little pocket. Now use the tip of your finger to gently loosen a pocket of skin on the outside of the thickest section of the thigh. Using your finger, shove an herb sprig into each of the 4 pockets. Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and the pepper (we use 3/4 teaspoon sea salt per pound of chicken). Season the thick sections a little more heavily than the skinny ankles and wings. Sprinkle a little of the salt just inside the cavity, on the backbone, but don’t otherwise worry about seasoning the inside. Twist and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders. Cover loosely and refrigerate.

Roasting the chicken: Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. (Depending on the size, efficiency, and accuracy of your oven, and the size of your bird, you may need to adjust the heat to as high as 500 degrees or as low as 450 degrees during the course of roasting the chicken to get it to brown properly. If that proves to be the case, begin at that temperature the next time you roast a chicken. If you have a convection function on your oven, use it for the first 30 minutes; it will enhance browning, and may reduce overall cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes.) Choose a shallow flameproof roasting pan or dish barely larger than the chicken, or use a 10-inch skillet with an all-metal handle, a good and convenient option. Preheat the pan over medium heat. Wipe the chicken dry and set it breast side up in the pan. It should sizzle. Place in the center of the oven and listen and watch for it to start sizzling and browning within 20 minutes. If it doesn’t, raise the temperature progressively until it does. On the other hand, blistering is great, but if the chicken begins to char, or the fat is smoking aggressively, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. After about 30 minutes, turn the bird over (drying the bird and preheating the pan should keep the skin from sticking). Roast the bird for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, then flip back over to recrisp the breast skin, another 5 to 10 minutes. Total oven time will be 45 minutes to an hour.

Finishing and serving the chicken: Remove the chicken from the oven and turn off the heat. Lift the chicken from the roasting pan and set on a plate. Carefully pour the clear fat from the roasting pan, leaving the lean drippings behind. Add about a tablespoon of water to the hot pan and swirl it. Slash the stretched skin between the thighs and breasts of the chicken, then tilt the bird and plate over the roasting pan to drain the juice into the drippings. Set the chicken in a warm spot (which may be your stovetop). The meat will become more tender and uniformly succulent as it cools. Set a platter in the oven to warm for a minute or two. Tilt the roasting pan and skim the last of the fat. Place over medium-low heat, add any juice that has collected under the chicken, and bring to a simmer. Stir and scrape to soften any hard golden drippings. Taste—the juices will be extremely flavorful. Cut the chicken into pieces and serve on the platter with the pan juices.

No joke, this was a deliciously roasted chicken. I over salted mine a little bit, because I had close to a 5 lb. chicken, and I'd had my fill of flavorless chicken before. Now, I've had my fill of salty chicken. But even despite that, it was amazing. Succulent even to the very deepest pieces. It was almost like it had been deep fried - because of the high heat, any fat that drains into the pan automatically fries the chicken. Wonderful. Just be sure to wear your cutest wife-beater and Jessica Simpson short-shorts because your kitchen is gonna get hot.

Here's how mine turned out.

Keep in mind, that since I'm neither a photographer nor a food blogger (Flogger? Fooger? Focker?) this picture is worth only about 10 words. And those words are: Please make this chicken NOW for the love of pity.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In Search Of Roast Chicken

For the first several years of being a dinner-making wife, I never ever purchased a whole chicken. They seemed so intimidating. So complicated. So...bodily. I skipped over them and went straight for the overpriced package of breasts. As trimmed and processed as possible, that way I'd not have to handle them any more than necessary.

Raw chickens are SO gross.

As the years have passed though, I got tired of being limited by my chicken breast options. Justin's not a great big fan of chicken anyway, and his tastes were being seriously harmed by my boring and over-cooked chicken recipes.

I ventured out. I bought a bird. I decided to follow Betty Crocker's roast chicken recipe. I grew up seeing my mom rely on her own tattered copy of The Betty Crocker Cookbook, and for me, it represented comfort - tried and true. So, between Betty and I, we roasted chicken.

Not without embarrassing slip-ups along the way. Ol' Betty never once mentioned how I should go about knowing which end of the chicken was up, down, back, or front. I spent several minutes pondering what side needed to be placed in the pan, and how to approach the cavity.

By the way, that word absolutely creeps me out. Cavity. It's very obtrusive. Offensive to the chicken. Not, I imagine, as offensive as actually roasting the poor creature, but that's neither here nor there.

In order to determine what parts of the chicken I was looking at, I...and if this isn't offensive, I don't know what is...stood it upright, and pretended to walk it across my counter. I needed to see which side was breast and which side was back. You would think this was glaringly obvious, but I was second guessing myself. See above remark about whole chickens being intimidating and confusing.

After locating the breast (keep the flat-chested comments to yourself...I'm tender.) and preparing the chicken according to Betty Crocker's instructions, I placed it in the oven with visions of buttery, savory chicken bites floating about my head.

I was darn proud of my work so far. The real test came later when I had to eat what I'd made. I was expecting something close to the flavor of a rotisserie chicken like those I'd purchased before at a deli. This, however, was not the case.

I was terribly disappointed. All that work? Marching a raw chicken upright? Washing and drying a CAVITY? And it tastes like...nothing? Now, I'm sure Betty Crocker did it much better than I did. But still. I was hurt by my mom's old standby cookbook not coming through for me.

That was over a year ago, and I've been in search of a no-fail roast chicken method ever since. I say method, because there's not much in the way of ingredients for a roast chicken. It's all about your approach. Oven temperature, timing, moon phase, whatever.

I believe, after months of turmoil and frustration...we have a winner. And I shall tell you all about it.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

This past weekend, in preparation for building our veggie bed we had to make a trip to Lowe's. I love that place. It's full of ideas and inspiration...and expensive projects we'll probably never get around to doing, but still. The store is like a Candyland for homeowners.

If only I looked like I knew my way around the place. I had my handy-dandy list of supplies carefully denoted on a pretty piece of stationary. While Justin and Mia searched for a big cart in which to haul our lumber, I pushed Lauren in the stroller, trying to figure out what I needed to look for first. I must have had a bewildered glow about me, because a few kind souls asked if I needed some help.

Instead of correcting them that I needed more than just some help, I smiled and nodded. When a teenage lumber-yard associate asked exactly what I was looking for, I handed over my frilly list of items. He looked at me like I was on the short bus - but he was very helpful. How could I have been expected to find a 7/64 #8 counter sink bit all on my lonesome? I would have been flailing aimlessly in a sea of drill bits if not for his kindness.

By this time, Justin and Mia had located a cart, loaded up the 2 x 6's we needed, and joined us at the drill bits. As the young guy consulted with another associate about the best item according to my list, Mia slowly crept closer and closer to them. She had pulled out her best bashful expression, and I could tell she wanted nothing more than some attention from these manly young men. (On a side note, OH HOW SHE FLIRTS.)

When they were both too engrossed in their task to notice her, she quietly wrapped her little arms around the lumber guy's cargo short-ed legs and hugged him with all the adoration she could muster.

I talked her into removing herself, while the guys finally gave her what she wanted: smiles and laughter. She was in three-year-old heaven.

What a sight we must have made. Justin pushing the lumber while Mia yelled out that she wanted to be the line leader. Mia walking about 3 inches in front of the cart, looking over her shoulder to make sure we all stayed behind her. Me swiveling my head between the aisles and my pretty list to locate our next item. Lauren tossing her toys out of the stroller repeatedly. And the passel of lumber yard guys answering all our questions tirelessly.

I like to think we provided some comic relief in their otherwise hard-working and heavy-lifting day.

It was a great shopping trip.

All that was left was to actually use the supplies in order to build the veggie bed. But Pioneer Woman was right. It was pretty easy, even for a housewife like me.

I only had to get Justin one cold drink the whole time he was out there working. Piece'a cake.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bedtime Stories, Interrupted

Tonight, Aladdin was attempted. A few pages in, the questioning began.

Jasmine ran tearfully into the gardens and hugged her pet tiger.
Mia: What was her tiger?
Me: Ummm...he's her pet.
Mia: Was he....born?
Me: Yeeesss...?

Suddenly the royal guards arrived and arrested Aladdin. "Release him!" Jasmine cried,
Mia: Who got him?
Me: The guards. "Release him!" Jasmine cried,
Mia: What did they take him to?
Me: To the dungeon. Jasmine
Mia: What were they yelling about?
Me: Ay yay yay...

The tiger head that guarded the cave had told Jafar that only a "Diamond in the rough" could enter th..
Mia: Does he have pointy teeth?
Me: Yup. Only a "Diamond in the rough"
Mia: He's just a tiny little thing! (pointing to the picture)
Me: Uh-huh. Could enter the cave of wond..
Mia: What's he tiny about?
Me: Weeellll...he's just tiny. the cave of wonders...someone who's worth was hidden deep with..
Mia: He's just a silly little guy!

Forgetting the warning, Abu quickly snatched up the jewel. At that very..
Mia: Is that sparkly?!
Me: Yes. At that very momen..
Mia: What's he looking at?
Me: At Abu and the jewel. At that ver..
Mia: At the SPARKLY jewel?
Me: Yeah. At tha..
Mia: He's a silly little fella!

Abu became a magnificent elephant that would carry Aladdin into Agrab..
Mia: What did he want to be?
Me: An elephant. ..that would carry Aladd..
Mia: What is his nose long about?
Me: ...sooooo...he can smell things far away? ..that would carry..
Mia: He's a silly little guy!

I could go on, but what's the use? You're asleep by now anyway, right?

This is the point of bedtime stories, after all.


A Little Weekend Trivia

What's the best way to spend a Saturday night after having spent the day building a raised vegetable bed?

A. Taking a bubble bath (by yourself, no toddlers in sight), and going to bed early.

B. Going to dinner and a movie with your garden-building husband using gift certificates for a free date night.

C. Getting take-out Chinese and watching Friends Reruns on DVD.

D. Taking a trip to the ER with your one-year old.

Ding Ding DING! A trip to the ER it is! What have you won?

A detailed description of our evening. Suh-weet.

Actually it was a trick question, because we did treat ourselves to chinese food and Friends reruns after the girls were in bed. We were both too tired at the end of the day to rouse any interest in a date, so we opted for comfort instead.

Him: Do you want to use our gift certificate tonight and have my mom babysit?
Me: Would I have to take a shower first?
Him: .....blank stare....
Me: Then no.

At about 9:30, right when Ross and Rachel were shopping for a nursery full of baby gear and Ross was inappropriately flirting with the saleslady, Lauren woke up with an awful barking cough. She tried to cry, and it sounded like a bark. She tried to talk, and it sounded like a bark. She tried to breath, and it sounded like a bark.

Last month she had croup, with the same barking cough, so I assumed that's what this was. Except she was having such trouble breathing, and on every exhale, (say it with me) she barked. It was sorta terrifying, and we were out the door in a flash. Justin stayed home with Mia, and I tried not to worry while making the 6 minute drive to the hospital.

The ER nurses tested her oxygen saturation levels, and she was getting enough, thank goodness. But her throat was so tight from the croup, that they said we definitely needed to have brought her in. (Does this qualify as conflict of interests? Oh, yes, you really NEED what we're selling!)

After about 35 minutes of waiting, we finally saw a doctor, who prescribed a steroid injection and epinephren something-or-other. Basically a breathing treatment. He then proceeded to tell us we'd need to stay for about 2 and a half hours so they could make sure her breathing got better.

Have you ever put a 1 year old in an exam room with nothing but a stirrup table and a trash can, and tried to hold said 1 year old for upwards of 3 hours? I don't recommend it.

I had just gotten done reading a study about the germy state of hospital floors that evening. What a coincidence that I'd be trying to keep my baby off of a hospital floor only hours later. She was not a happy ER-camper. At least I was thinking clearly enough to have brought her blankie and stuffed lamb. Other than that, we were toyless.

I asked for a chair (no way was I going near those stirrups) and tried to keep Lauren content while we waited. Eventually, I turned off the light and cracked open the door, hoping she'd doze off. But apparently my collarbones were highly distracting, because she spent a good portion of the night exploring them. I always knew being bony would come in handy one day.

The steroid shot and breathing treatment did their magic. We left at 12:45 AM and Lauren ended up being fine. For this I am grateful - but my tailbone is seriously bruised from rocking Lauren in that awful chair.

I was having fantasies about soft beds with soft blankets surrounded by soft pillows. But the ER doesn't specialize in those.

They also don't sell bubble baths there. And I was offered neither dinner nor a movie.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Buttercream Frosting By Popular Demand

(Where Popular equals 3 people liking it and one person asking for it; Where Demand equals a polite request.)

The day before Lauren's Birthday party, I was trying to find a new buttercream frosting recipe. I'm not a huge fan of buttercream, and most of it usually gets scraped off my piece of cake to be tossed in the trash. So I wanted to find something better - something I might actually enjoy.

I found lots of websites talking about humidity and butter to shortening ratios, and this all seemed way too complicated for the likes of me. Then I found the Land O' Lakes website, with their very own buttercream recipe. Simple and straightforward. Normal, but something I hadn't tried before. It calls for a little less butter than usual, I think. And for me, that made it better. The flavor was great, the texture was beautiful - just what I'd been looking for.

So, straight from the Land O' Lakes recipe, here's the Best Buttercream Frosting:

3/4 Cup butter, softened
6 Cups powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 Cup half & half
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

Beat butter in a large bowl until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar and salt, alternately with half & half and vanilla, mixing constantly and scraping the bowl as needed. Stir in corn syrup. Makes 3 cups frosting.

Since I have trouble following a recipe exactly (thanks, mom) I did a few things differently, and I don't really know how they affected the outcome. Other than that I liked the outcome. But I'm sure the changes weren't so drastic as to affect the frosting too much.

I didn't add salt, because I used salted butter. And I didn't have half & half, but I did have half a can of evaporated milk left over from a dinner recipe that night. I used half evaporated milk, and half 1% milk. Weird combination, I'm sure, but it turned out well in the end.

And I didn't have to feel bad about wasting the evaporated milk. I'm all about using what you've got. In most cases, that means using my car to drive myself to the store. But since I'm trying to save money lately by cutting out grocery store trips, evaporated milk was just the ticket.

Try this recipe and tell me what you think. Or, let me know if you have a favorite frosting recipe of your own. I'm always open to a little help in the recipe department.

Friday, April 3, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday, #9

1. Last week, I quick-taked (uhhh..) about Lauren's birthday party preparations. Here's how it went.

2. As of yesterday, Lauren is officially a walker. She walked more than crawled, all day long. She willingly let go of hands and furniture, and trekked out across the entire house. It's unsteady and slow-going, and it's adorable. We shot some videos last night so we'd never have to forget her look of concentration and elation as she goes wherever she chooses, on her own steam.

3. It's gotten out of hand lately, me staying up too too late and being too too tired the next day. Weeks on end of this behavior seem to have changed my internal sleep-clock (is that a real thing?) entirely. I'm tired enough to sleep by 8PM, but somehow a second wind overtakes me and before I know it, it's midnight and I'm perusing some stranger's Tweets, wondering why I'm hungry again. By then, I'm too jazzed to rest easy, so it's even later by the time I finally crash. And 6AM always comes at 6AM. Always.

So this week, I've really been making an honest effort to get to bed earlier. Jammies on, teeth flossed (as per my new year's resolution), reading in bed, and off to la-la-land by 10PM is my goal.

Not that I'm quite there yet, but it's getting better.

4. I have big plans for this weekend. My plans are more on the idealistic side than on the realistic side, but I'm a dreamer. Here they go. (Wow, sub-categories in Quick Takes? Surely this breaks all the rules...)

5. I want to mow the lawn. And by that, I mean I want Justin to mow the lawn. Several weeks of on again off again warmth and rain have left us with a field of clovers. The purplish kind that grows 6 inches tall and attracts entire universes of bumble bees. Not conducive to outdoor play with the kiddos.

6. I want to go to the recycle center. Mia loves it there, and our little recycling corner is overflowing into our little parking space in the garage. This must be remedied. A quick trip is all it takes.

My question is this: If the recycle center is on the exact opposite corner of town, how much gas do we burn in making this earth-loving trip? And is our effort made totally worthless by driving so stinkin' far in our SUV to deposit our assorted recyclables? And if a car with a 36 MPG rating leaves San Francisco with 4 passengers, stops in Denver to fill-up, but gets High-octane fuel instead of unleaded, and drives 12 hours downhill without stopping before unloading 2 passengers in St. Louis...

Are you still here?

7. I want to build a raised bed to plant some veggies. And strawberries. And herbs. Pioneer Woman says I can do it, and posted instructions on how to go about it all.

We shall see.

Enjoy your weekend, and head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

That Pretty Much Covers It

Tonight's prayer, heard from Mia's room:

Dear God, thank you for the go-gurt, and thank you for the chocolate, and thank you for the ice cream.


Wastin' Away Again...In Garbage-Ville

Today we went out to lunch with my mom, who got a margarita. Mia spied it skeptically, asking about Nana's lemonade. I said, no baby, that's not a lemonade - it's Nana's yucky drink, don't worry about it.

Mia forgot about it for a few minutes. Then she asked about it again, wanting to know what it was called. I told her, a margarita.

Several minutes later, Mia said, Nana's margaritas are YUCKY! Because they taste like GARBAGE!

I love her interpretations of the world.

Margaritas are made of garbage.

Who knew?