Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

As I sit with baby in my lap enjoying the first quiet moment I've had in a holiday season, I'm thinking about all of the things that make Christmas memorable. Things change so much from year to year now, as they never did before. As we look back at the photos from holidays past, we can see time pass before our eyes. As a relative said last night, my husband and I could go up to the snow on Christmas Day, take a great photo, and use it for next year's card. But the kids would change so much, the photo would be outdated. It seems we do not change much from year to year -- a dozen more gray hairs or a few more crow's feet -- but our kids change drastically. They get hair where before they had peach fuzz. They grow taller, leaner, more steady. They get teeth. They get dimples. They get little snotty attitudes that weren't there the year before.

It is so important to cherish each day in their little lives. To savor the small moments as well as the big. The first handmade ornament. The first cookies and milk for Santa. The first Christmas as a family. Because next year, the little boy in my arms won't be a baby anymore. Next year there will be no more gummy smiles. Next year the big boy will teach us about Santa. Next year will be nothing like this one. They don't seem to change too much from one year to the next, but when we look back at this year, whether it be next Christmas or ten Christmas' from now, they will seem so small and young and little, and so very far away from who they are now.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Too True

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Book Review: Chill Out, Josey!

Chill Out, Josey! Chill Out, Josey!

Somehow I've gotten on the list of Christian book reviewers, which doesn't really bother me because I love getting free books to review, but it just gets a little difficult when review time comes around. I'm also new to the whole chick/mommy-lit genre (I'm more a Stephen King-type gal), so there's another road block I must get past. But I'm enjoying a whole new category of books that I can read in the tub and relax with, and it's a nice change to read something that doesn't start with "It was a dark and stormy night." (Peanuts excluded, as Charlie Brown is fairly popular around here).

Chill Out, Josey is the second book in the Josey series by author Susan May Warren. From what I gathered, in the first book (Everything's Coming Up Josey), protagonist Josey ran off to Russia to find love and adventure, only to have her childhood sweetheart chase after her and declare his undying love. In book two, Josey and Chase (yes, that's really his name) are living somewhat happily ever after back at home in Minnesota. Except happily ever after has a different definition for Chase than it does for Josey. She dreams of suburban bliss, with two little kids in the backyard of their house on the lake (FYI, Josey, it ain't always bliss...). Chase dreams of saving the world, of living his life with purpose. Josey compromises for the sake of her marriage, and before she knows it, they are settling down in Moscow. To complicate matters, she finds out she's pregnant days before their big move. It's silly, it's fun, and it's not deep, but tub reads never are.

It's interesting to read about Josey's struggles setting up their home in Moscow. Warren herself spent years in Khabarovsk, Far East Russia as a missionary for SEND International. Though she never gave birth in Russia, she spent two pregnancies there, and I'm sure many of Josey's triumphs were those of Warren's as well.

The hardest time I'm having with these small-press releases is the amount of errors that run the length of the story. (To capitalize, or not to capitalize the Cold War. You decide.) It seems they never make it past a final editor, and as a result, often have loose ends floating around the main story that never quite get resolved (not really a problem in this book) or just seem as if they should go through one last revision. I wouldn't place all the blame on the authors (though they probably should know better, but you know us writers...), I would simply chalk it up to a lack of staffing/funding at the publishing company. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad enough to detract from the book, it's just that I usually expect a certain level of, well, dare I say perfection, from a published work. A blog, for that matter, you never know what you're going to get...

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Sleeping with my eyes open

I am so tired lately I don't know how I'm managing to type sentences that are spelled correctly. My days are filled with unpacking, dressing tiny streakers, making PB and J, letting the dogs in and out of the house, and doing enough laundry to fill a Suburban. Too bad we're now on a water meter...

How did those ladies of the 1950's do it? They wore neatly pressed dresses and high heels, played bridge while their kids ran around the yard, and knew how to make Jello molds for every season of the year. Sure, they didn't (couldn't) hold down jobs, write blogs, or even drive their kids to school, but they had to be busy, too, right? Where did they have the time to iron? In high heels? I haven't even touched my iron (except to unpack it) in the last three years. And my hands are so dry from doing dishes night and day that I'd run any pair of pantyhose I'd try to put on. I just wonder sometimes how they looked so put together. Today we seem to run into each other in the store with crazed looks in our eyes, frantically pulling stuff from shelves and dumping it into our carts while we hold our toddlers by the collar and pray they don't start screaming.

Because those elderly women who did it all in the 50's will give us the look of death.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Winter Wonderland

Since my days are filled with unpacking and I haven't been able to scrounge enough time up to write a decent post, I am publishing my article from this month's Growing Up Chico magazine...

I am counting the days until Christmas. This will be the first year my son, now three, will be old enough to be intoxicated by the sheer magic of the season. Sure, we’ve decorated the house to the hilt ever since he’s been born, but this will be the first year there’ll be more to the tree than just “Don’t touch that!”

The holidays are the time when we unpack our own childhood. We revisit the memories we made as children, remembering holiday traditions long past that still warm our hearts. Our first snowball fight. Roasting marshmallows in the fireplace. The smell of a steaming holiday supper, which for me meant mountains of meatballs piled atop an enormous platter of pasta. I swear I can still smell the garlic. Whether we’re pulling out the ornaments or unpacking the menorah, we’re hoping to give our children the same joy we experienced so many years ago. We’re hoping to make memories that will linger in their hearts forever. And we’re hoping, in a very small, quiet way in the corner of our hearts, to bring back the joy for ourselves.

For we’ve been waiting for this for years, it seems. I know that I spent too many newly-married holidays empty with expectation, wondering exactly what it was I needed to make Christmas feel complete. It wasn’t the giving, the receiving, or even the decorating of my first home that warmed my heart. It was the first time I saw my son, dressed in red velvet with white fur trim, touch the tip of his finger to the flickering lights on the Christmas tree. I watched the smile spread across his little face, and as I did, I felt my heart begin to melt.

It is no longer about fighting for time off from work, fighting with my husband about whose parents we’ll eat Christmas Eve dinner with, or fighting with the crowds at the mall. It has once again become about baking as many cookies as will fit in the oven, drinking hot chocolate in front of the fire, writing letters to Santa in green and red crayon. It is about making presents for Daddy out of glue and acorns and glitter. About elves, reindeer, and the magic hope for snow, no matter how far away from the North Pole we live.

That is the best part of having children, I’m finding out. They bring back the fun, the delight, the joy in the parts of our lives we thought were empty. They make us remember what is was like to wait up all night for Santa, to give a gift we made with our own hands, to be live in the moment and be happy with all that we have.

They bring us back to ourselves.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Movin' on up

Hopefully I have enough faithful readers to notice that I've been gone from the blog world for awhile. "Awhile" as in a week, which is not a terribly long time, but I've missed this page like I've been gone for a month. There hasn't been any good place for me to vent lately. My husband looks at me like I'm crazy when I walk around the house and narrate my every thought. On a blog, it's considered "humor." In real life, it sounds a hell of a lot like "bitching."

So where have I been these long seven days? Moving. As in packing up every last bit of our lives and stuffing it into brown cardboard boxes marked Fragile. I remember moving when it was just the two of us in college: a few half-filled boxes, an old couch, and the back of a friend's pickup. Now it involves enough so much cardboard I'm afraid we've killed an old-growth forest and an entire 40-ft. semi-truck trailer. And about a dozen extra trips to pick up all the "little stuff" that somehow fills our entire garage. It's amazing. It's overwhelming. And we did it all during Thanksgiving!

It's fun to cook a turkey when you're not quite sure where all the pots and pans are. "You know, I'm not really sure we need mashed potatoes!" It does eliminate the excess. But we managed and somehow turned out a California-proper holiday dinner. Our new kitchen is big enough for more than a couple cooks, and also provides me the unique opportunity to chuck utensils at my husband's head while he sits on the couch watching football instead of helping in said kitchen. Actually, I must clarify that he was a really big help (he was the one who made the mashed potatoes) and he only spent about three plays on the couch, which didn't seem enough for him. Maybe next year he'll be able to watch a whole quarter without having to hear, "Daddy, can I watch Curious George now?"

So I'm back. Busy, but back. Expect lots of humorous descriptions of the moving process. Just don't call it "bitching."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Training Camp: Patience

It seems it's always a learning experience with my firstborn. Learning how to survive without sleep, how to change diapers in the dark, to eat dinner with one hand while standing up. And it's been about learning how to give up so much of myself.

The older he gets, the less it doesn't change. When he was a baby, it was about giving up the "me" time. The long showers. Reading before bed. Strolling through Barnes & Noble while sipping a peppermint mocha. Just being alone, period. But now that he's three and I'm looking back through my rose-colored glasses, I still had tons of "me" time. Really, I don't know what the hell I used to bitch about. He was the miracle baby who slept until nine or ten (AM!) regularly. He took three hour naps. He was in bed by seven. God, I had gobs of free time! I used to read the paper while sipping my coffee, wondering if I'd make it to playgroup in time! How spoiled was I?

Now I'm trying to deal with the constant shadow. The nonstop questions. The laying under me feet while I wash dishes. The playing with my hair while I talk on the phone. The sticking his fingers in my closed eyes at six-thirty in the morning. Compared to this, colic was a cakewalk. I struggle everyday to use my nice words. To not lash out. To count to ten and breathe, Lynda, breathe until you see spots in front of your eyes and you think you might pass out.

Tonight I nursed the baby to sleep while Carter poked my knees with some dead bug he found on the carpet. I leaned my head back and tried to go to my happy place, but it was nearly impossible to tune him out. I struggled with PJ time, teeth brushing, story time. It was nearly more than I could handle.

And then, just then, did he play his hand. He whispered, just as I was leaving his room, Do you know what, Mommy? I love you really much. I looked back to see my cheekbones and his daddy's dimples on his beautiful smile. It was all I needed.

It was all I needed to know that I am doing just right, no matter how crazy it feels sometimes. I am loved. And oh, so do I love him back.

No matter what time of the morning he sticks his fingers in my eyes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Great site: The Visible Embryo

The Visible Embryo is a great site for those of you preggo mommies out there. Goes through each stage of development with actual sizes and incredible descriptions. The best site I've ever seen for checking out exactly what your baby looks like!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Motherhood Favorites: The PortaMEe Baby Carrier

I just discovered this great baby/toddler carrier that I think is going to be a must-have! It's called the PortaMEe, and it's a hands-free carrier with back support for babies up to 35 pounds. I don't know about you, but I have a heck of a time managing my sling/Snugli and lug my diaper bag on my back, all while holding my preschooler's hand. What I like about the PortaMEe is that it includes a center-flap wallet, cell-phone pocket, diaper pocket, and a hip-mounted bottle holster. There's no need for a bag! Perfect for those grocery store runs when your baby has hit the age where he doesn't want to sit in the carrier anymore. It's hard to grab canned foods from the bottom shelf while juggling your me.

With a 16 lb.-plus baby to lug around, I'm constantly ending my evenings moaning about how much my back hurts. My sling pulls on my upper back, and my Snugli does, too. The PortaMEe has "ergonomic lumbar support" with flexible padded bars. It provides fundamental eye-contact with your baby (What? There's spit-up coming from where?), includes infant head support, is nursing-friendly, and exceeds all ASTM soft infant carrier standards. That's a plus when you're reaching for the teething ring your baby's dropped for the twentieth time. I don't know about you, but I'm always a little freaked when I have to do that.

The only downside I can find to the PortaMEe is that it's got a pretty hefty price tag. It retails on their website for $180 (with a $700 courture version...just in case you're invited to Britney's next baby shower), which is a pretty steep price for a carrier. I think my stroller was less than that. I suppose you could forgo the Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag and spring for this instead, as they run about the same price. But the PortaMEe does support kids up to 35 pounds, so you may end up using it a lot longer than the sling or even the stroller.

Maybe I'll just have save up my Starbucks allowance for the next, uh, 35 or so weeks. Or wait for Brit's hand-me-downs...

Sunday Night Suppers: Taco Night

Here's a great fun, family recipe. The kids will love choosing their toppings, and the adults will like the fact they don't taste like Taco Bell tacos!


1 1/2 lean ground beef
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 can green chili and onion diced tomatoes (Mexican style)
Flour or corn tortillas
1 can black beans
Toppings of your choice (tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, olives, avocados, green onions, sour cream, hot sauce)

Brown ground beef over medium heat with garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Add tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Heat black beans in small saucepan over low heat. Heat tortillas on cookie sheet in 250-degree oven for 5 minutes in between layers of wet kitchen towel (prevents tortillas from drying out). Spoon ground beef into tortillas, let everyone choose their toppings.

South-of-the-Border Side Dish

3 green onions
4 medium-sized zucchinis
3 yellow squash
1 cup sliced mushrooms
chili powder and cumin to taste

Saute green onions in oil, add zucchinis and yellow squash. Cook until zucchini begins to soften, add mushrooms. Continue cooking until zucchini turns opaque.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Somebody's watching me

So we've progressed in the potty-training department, and rather quickly, which is certainly something I'm going to give thanks about at the turkey table. We've got a week of poop in the potty. Wow! I never thought I'd be so happy about something like that! And it's so much better than poop in the underpants, poop on the floor, poop on the floor at a friend's house. Really, it should be called "house-training," because it's not much different than training the dogs. And they didn't take anywhere near this long to get it. Maybe I should try rewarding Carter with Milk Bones and leave him outside for most of the day...

The little guy's newest fascination, much to my chagrin, is watching other people poop in the potty. It started in public restrooms, and although we've all had a toddler stick his head under the door while we're in the stall, it's different when it's your kid. "No! We don't watch other people potty! Get your head back in here! Stop touching the floor; it's icky! Oh, God, don't put your hands in your mouth!" You get the drift.

This morning, we moved on to watching me go poop in the potty. I can honestly say that I haven't had viewers in my WC since I was about Carter's age (unless you include the dogs, who always seem to poke their head in the room. I must get better at locking the door...). But this was the first time I had a cheering section. I was even offered a lollipop reward for doing such a good job. I drew the line at standing up and letting him see just what came out. While I was planted on the porcelain throne with my own little fan section, I thought, Is this going to help him train faster? And if it's not, I'm locking him in his room next time. I mean, my dogs don't even like it when I watch them do it outside. It's kind of a universal thing for those of us in the mammal class: Don't watch me when I poop. Although there seems to be some sort of exception in the hoofed animal department, at least at the fair anyway.

And I'd never normally tell anyone anything about this, because it's a very personal moment and I'm very modest person, except for the fact that I have a blog and for some reason that means it's okay to write about going to the bathroom. But I guess what it all comes down to is that it's yet another way that I've become a mom. My life is lived in the open, as long as it's for the good of my child. There is no such thing as privacy when you have a three-year-old. I'm not quite used to the fact that anybody going potty in this house is a drop-everything, breaking-news moment. Give me a few years, and I'm sure I'll be forgetting to close the door when I'm in there.

My peers all seem to be parents, and this has led to a rather unnerving shift in cocktail party conversation. (As if I ever have the time to make a cocktail party. Now they're called "Down a Glass of Wine in the Kitchen while the Kids Trash the Living Room" parties.) But the funny thing I've noticed is that everyone I run into is going through this. We are all struggling with this change to our identities. We have all just recently arrived at the destination of parenthood, and we still seemed to be jet-lagged from the journey. But somehow the knowledge that we are not alone in this struggle is what makes everyday a little bit easier. We have entered the fraternity of having children, and the hazing is just beginning.

And that, my friends, is why I'm writing about poop. Just don't tell anybody my writing is crap.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Privy Prop

In this undated photo released by Jason Wulf, Jake Wulf, 9, demonstrates his 'Privy Prop,' a foot-activated toilet seat lifter, at his home in Odebolt, Iowa. He says he invented the prop because his mother would get angry when he forgot to put the toilet seat down. Wulf showed off his invention this week on the 'Ellen DeGeneres Show.' (AP Photo/Photo released by Jason Wulf)

From the AP Story on Yahoo News: ODEBOLT, Iowa - Jake Wulf wants to keep the lid
on it. The 9-year-old boy flushed out a plan for a foot-activated toilet seat lifter that is called the "Privy Prop," designed to lower and raise the toilet seat.

While her son, who is in the school's Talented and Gifted program, manages
assignments with ease, he has one weak spot: remembering to lower the seat after he's done, Beth Wulf said.

"My mom was getting mad at me for forgetting to put the toilet seat down and she was falling in," said Jake, a fourth-grader...

Now this is an invention I could really get behind (hee-hee). We're currently in the very early stages of reminding Carter to put the lid down. I feel like it's just going to be a personal mantra. I've already almost fallen in once, and the boy's only 3. My husband's always been great at putting the lid down. Seriously. I think, in the ten years we've been together, he's left the lid up only four or five times. I am so not kidding. How many of you women want me to give him a kiss for that? It's something I remind myself when I see the state of our garage. "Yes, I'll never to be able to park a car in here, but gosh, I never have to yell at him to put the seat down..."

Basically, little Jake has invented a toilet lid that works like the top of a trash can. Push the lever, it raises the seat. Let go of the lever, and the seat comes down. Jake and his invention will be featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Friday (11/9). I think the question that'll be on everyone's lips is, "How quick will this be on Target's shelves? Tomorrow? Please?"

Think of the harmony that could come to the world because of this invention. Women everywhere will have one less thing to nag their husbands about, and husband's everywhere would feel the joy of one less thing to be nagged about. I think Little Jakie might just be a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Read the whole Yahoo story here.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Learning to read

Starfall has a great page for beginning readers that's worth looking at. My husband didn't appreciate me logging on while he was trying to read(A for astronaut! X for Ox! How's that book goin', honey?), but preschoolers should enjoy the big pictures with matching sounds. You can click on any letter of the alphabet you'd like, and kids will like the big arrow "next page" buttons that are easy for them to use. Don't know if I should limit Carter's use of the site, though, I don't really want him reading this blog anytime soon...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Great Kids' Site

Kids Health is a great for kids site for those of you with older kids. Deals with everything you can think of regarding health, emotions, the body, exercise, recipes. I'd be totally into it if I were still 10!

Monday, November 5, 2007


Costumes are better in pairs...

Cool site for kids

Although I try to keep my little blogger-in-training away from the computer as much as possible, sometimes it's fun to play. Check out Bembo's Zoo anytime for fun animals made out of the letter of your choice. Something to occupy your little one's five-second attention span in the airport. Thank God for WiFi...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Playing Catch-up, Part Two

As I was spending the better part of my Saturday cleaning my house from top to bottom, or more honestly, just trying to put away most of our stuff where it goes or at least where we won't step on it and cleaning up most of the spilled milk and Cheerios off the floor so it won't crunch under our feet, I got to thinking about the role models us "housekeepers" have to choose from.

The Deity of Domesticity, Martha Stewart, is the most famous one that pops into my mind. That lady sets the bar way too damn high. I was reading an article about her in Good Housekeeping, about her bouncing back from incarceration, and whoa, was that a good reality-check for me. That woman may have gobs of cash, and her pantry and linen closets may look good enough to photograph, but she has no life. I mean, if you consider giving up on sleep to do your own beekeeping, you seriously need to consider how you define the good life.

I'm sure she started with the best intentions. She probably made some killer jams, maybe an awesome pie or two, and could organize like the dickens and thought, heck, I can make me some money doin' this. Or, more likely, she thought, I need to tell the world how to be organized, so everyone else will finally live by my ridiculous standards. Alright, that's a bit of the green, ugly monster talking, but what's sad to hear is that she lives alone and rarely has the time for friends. She says that she's too busy to have anybody visit. This is a women who, somewhere along the lines, got her priorities very, very confused. She believes her life is made up of cleanliness and organization, that if she does it perfectly it will be praised. But by demanding she live up to her own high standards, she alienated herself from the true joy of living.

Life is not meant to be perfectly presentable pantries or neat linen closets you can't live out of. It's not meant to be personal root cellars and greenhouses, spotless hand waxed wood floors, or sun-bleached sheets folded crisply on the bed. It's about enjoying the best life has to offer. And although each of those things is a joy in itself, the sum of perfection is that nothing is appreciated. When everything around you is too good to be true, it's overwhelming.

As women, we are constantly bombarded by glossy ads featuring spotless homes, handmade crafts, homemade foods. And the message is that if we don't do it all, if we don't live the same perfect life portrayed in the picture, then we are failing. Hell, if that were true, I'd be failing every day. Because we can't do it all, and nobody does. I can tell you that I make the most unbelievable homemade zucchini bread from scratch, but that's the one perfect thing I choose to bake. I use frozen pie dough because I can't use a rolling pin to save my life. The damn dough always sticks no matter if I use enough flour to coat every surface in the kitchen. I mop my floors about once a month, though I may have to raise my standards once Brody starts crawling. I don't iron. Ever. I love crafts, but honestly, who am I kidding? I didn't even have enough time to carve pumpkins this year.

Do you know what? My husband and kids don't care. We have a happy house, even if we sometimes have to move the laundry just to sit down and watch TV. There's somewhat healthy food in the fridge, and plenty of it, and it's not worth my time to organize my pantry because my son will just come in behind me and move my cake mixes to the canned goods shelf. Life is too short for perfect. Life is not organized. It's messy, chaotic, unexpected. No amount of organizing will change that or protect you from it.

And there's something that's darn cozy about curling up in a rumpled bed in the middle of the afternoon to read a book. That's what I call the good life.

Sunday Night Suppers

Here's a great one for a busy Sunday. Just throw in the crock pot and go.

Crockpot Chicken Marsala

1 medium white onion, sliced
1 cup carrots
1 Roasting Chicken, giblets removed
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup Marsala cooking wine
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried rosemary

Place onions and carrots in crock pot. Add chicken. Pour olive oil and Marsala over chicken. Rub chicken with garlic and rosemary. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 1 hour and low for 4 additional hours. Serve with rice or pasta.

Go enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, November 3, 2007


I just was emailed a link to a great new site, Askville by Amazon. You can post any question you'd like and get the answers you need. Now if they could only tell me where my sanity went...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Playing Catch-up

We've just returned from a few days visiting family and friends and I feel like I've returned to the scene of a disaster. Somehow, while I was gone, a hurricane hit our family room. I really don't remember it being like this when we left. I know Carter had an accident, spilled some juice, broke into the Costco case of Granola Bites. I remember Brody's last diaper filling the diaper pail to its limit. I remember trying to finish the laundry so my husband and I would have at least some of the very limited amount of clothing we have clean and ready to wear for our trip. These things are a vague memory to me, but what I came home to is a completely different environment than that which I left.

The laundry somehow exploded all over the couch. There are at least twenty sleep-and-plays in various shades of blue all over the sectional. Tiny socks are scattered everywhere like shrapnel. There's a pumpkin kitchen towel on one of the arms, a size 3T pair of cords on the other, and one of my favorite long-sleeved T's on the floor, not to mention a trail of dryer sheets leading from the laundry room to the family room. I swore my husband took out the trash before we left, but there's a Nutri-grain wrapper on the coffee table, next to a sticky bowl of melted ice cream. Upstairs the bed is in disarray, with a down comforter and a tiger costume (?) on the floor and coffee cups littering the nightstand.

Do we really live like this? Sometimes it's a shock to come back to my own home. I used to be a neatnik, too neurotic for my own good, yes, but God, things were shiny. Do I really live in a house where every counter top is covered in crumbs? And it's not like I don't clean. Some days I think it's all I do. But there is a three-foot-tall boy who likes to follow immediately behind me and undo all of my hard work. Not to mention a six-foot-tall boy who seems to do the same.

Having two kids has been a great antidote for perfectionism. But who needs clean when I have two rosy, chubby-cheeked munchkins smiling at me all day. And there's not much I can do until they hit grow up and leave the house. They are boys after all...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday Morning Surprise: Pumpkin Pancakes

These were so good I decided to forgo the usual supper recipe. But I guess you could have them for dinner if you'd like!

Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cups Bisquick
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 tbsp. flaxseed meal
1/4 cup golden raisins

Mix all ingredients together in large mixing bowl. Add more milk if pancakes are too thick (you want batter to be almost thin because of the raisins). Cook over low heat on griddle or frying pan (low heat will ensure pancakes won't burn but will be cooked around raisins).


Friday, October 26, 2007

So I'm not the only one with potty training problems...

Glow-in-the-dark Funkins

So I'm not an obsessive Martha fan or anything, but the show came on when the TiVo shut off, and I found myself totally intrigued by these pumpkins! They take me back to my GenX college days! The best part is, if you use foam pumpkins, you can keep them for years. I think I might even have a black light still floating around the garage somewhere...

This glow-in-the-dark craft is a perfect way to decorate your house, porch, and windows with glowing pumpkins for Halloween.

Tools and Materials
Funkin (foam pumpkin)
2-inch-wide vinyl tape
Spray adhesive
Box (large enough to fit funkin)
Glow-in-the-dark powder
Cookie sheet
Fluorescent black light

Glow-in-the-Dark Funkins How-To
1. Cut strips of 2-inch-wide vinyl tape; place strips of tape down on a nonstick surface. Draw face on tape and cut out to create a face sticker. Stick face on pumpkin.

2. Place pumpkin in box; coat with spray adhesive. Remove pumpkin from box and place on cookie sheet. Put glow-in-the-dark powder all over pumpkin. Let dry for about 10 minutes. Repeat the process once more.

3. Spray clear coat of krylon on pumpkin. Let dry for 20 minutes. Peel off sticker face. Add fluorescent black light next to pumpkin to intensify the glow.

Glow-in-the-dark powder can be found at

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

"Screamfree Parenting"

On the today show yesterday, they featured the author of a new book, ScreamFree Parenting. It seems like a fantastic concept, and one I try to practice daily but never seem to follow through on. The excerpt available on is hilarious to read, and I'm curious to find out what the techniques actually are. I think I just may buy this one...

Tips on taming temper tantrums
Tips on taming temper tantrums

Old Mother Hubbard...

I've gone to the cupboard too many times and found nothing it seemed I could make a meal out of. But then I found this great site,, and fell in love. It's a blast to use. You just check the boxes of what you have in your pantry and fridge, and it spits out recipes you can make with what you have. It couldn't get easier!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Contents of my Diaper Bag

My keys (somewhere in here, I swear)
A pacifier that may or may not be sanitized, depending on how desperate I am
An old grocery list
Antibacterial wipes
Coupon organizer full of old coupons
Lipstick in the wrong color
Nursing cover-up, otherwise known as "Very Large Napkin"
My wallet, with exactly one dollar in cash and way too many debit card receipts
Antibacterial wipes
One very stained teddy bear
One Happy Meal toy, missing a leg
One pair cartoon underpants
Two crayons, one yellow, one melted
Sixteen stale Cheerios
Antibacterial wipes
And the one thing there doesn't seem to be room for...diapers.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday Night Suppers: Chicken Pot Pie

This is a great, quick-fix supper the kids will love with enough gourmet flavors for the grown ups. Cook the chicken ahead of time (in the a.m.) to make it even faster.

Chicken Pot Pie

1 pkg. refrigerated pie dough (2 crusts)
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 boneless chicken breasts, seasoned to taste, cooked and cubed
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup (or little less) milk
1 tsp. dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Unroll pie dough, setting one aside for top and using the other to line 9" pie dish. Saute garlic and onion in a little olive oil, adding mushrooms when onions are just turning opaque and cooking until mushrooms are just softening up. Layer chicken, carrots, and celery in pie pan, topping with onion/mushroom mixture. In separate bowl, mix cream of mushroom soup and milk, stirring until just mixed. Pour over pie. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Top with remaining pie crust, cutting slits to vent. Cover rim of pie with foil to prevent burning. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, or until crust turns golden brown.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Poop Hits the Floor

Potty training. If two words could define our life right now, it would be those. We've put it off long enough. We have no more excuses. It's got to be done.

I just wish it were that simple. I swear I've house-trained dogs faster than this. Why is it such a fight? Does exerting his independence have to carry over to where and when they poop? Is it so hard to understand that crap inside your pants is not a good thing? For anybody?

We've been training for, oh, forever now and I still don't think we've made any progress. We bought tiny potties, seats that fit over the potty, standing, sitting, even going on the grass. He's seen other kids potty, and he's certainly peeked under enough stall doors to see other people going potty. We've bought pull-ups -- ones that stay wet, ones with learning designs, ones that get cold and covered with snowflakes (?) when they pee. We've bought Diego underwear, Cars underwear, and we've let him go with no underwear.

This morning he decided it would be alright to poop under the piano. No, even I cannot believe that my life has sunk to this; I used to swear over Cosmos that talking about my kid's poop would never become part of my life. Now I just laugh at myself, brush the spit-up off my shoulder, and move on. I try not to do this in public, because then I look crazy, especially if my kids aren't around. But where and when he poops has become the center of our lives, more so now that I've lied to the preschool.

"Of course he's potty-trained," I said with a smile, as if all three-year-old boys never have accidents. The truth is, I cannot make his little butt sit on the toilet for the life of me, and I'm wondering how I'm going to schedule his day so that he has 21 possible pooping hours to choose from and doesn't use one of the three he's in school.

My question is, have you been here before? How did you handle it? Please leave a comment. And if you're going through the same thing, leave a comment so I know I'm not losing my mind. And if you don't have kids or your kids are grown and gone, thank your lucky stars that your daily conversation doesn't include the word "poop." Except, of course, the expletive version. Which I think I'm about to use now...

A funny for the day

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Helter Skelter

My memories of my mother are of this calm, serene woman who exuded warmth. A nurturing, gentle soul, the only one you wanted when you woke in the middle of the night. I can count on one hand the number of times she lost her temper with me. A woman who would say, "That's okay. It's washable!" whenever I would spill something on the brand-new carpet. Not "What the heck are you doing with Juicy-Juice in the living room!!" or "Do that one more time little lady and I'm not buying anymore juice!" In short, I had the mom I'll never be.

I thought of this today while I was driving out my driveway after getting the belt of my leather car coat stuck in the car door while rushing my two screaming kids to somewhere not that important. I also thought of this while dabbing pink Fruitopia off my white turtleneck after hitting the McDonald's drive thru that I had promised Carter as a bribe for running preschool errands with me. I also thought of this while ordering my son to take the nap he doesn't need just so Mommy can get a few seconds alone with a cup of hot cocoa and one of the hundreds of catalogues that have begun pouring out of my mailbox.

I don't remember my mom acting anything like me. She was calm and gentle. Like I said, serene. I'm a friggin' hurricane. I do everything too fast. I eat too fast, talk too fast, drive my car too fast. I'm a hundred places at once. I'm not your typical mother. I get bored doing crafts, I don't have the patience for coloring, and besides a fondness for William H.'s Macy's narration on Curious George, I don't really like much of what has to do with kids. My mom, on the other hand, took me everywhere I ever wanted to go without complaining. She hosted endless sleepovers. Flipped piles of pancakes. Listened patiently to everything I had to say (which was a lot, in my case).

I am not my mother, which is what some women would kill for. The problem is, I want to be like her. I want to have her patience. I want to be calm. I don't want to be this whirlwind of a mother who drives like a maniac and would rather listen to the Beastie Boys than Barney. I want to be soft and kind and nurturing. But I am a little girl grown up, when the little girl was fussy and opinionated and hot-tempered. And she hasn't changed much.

My definition of a mother is my mother, not me. And perhaps that is what's wrong with my picture. My mother didn't have two kids. She didn't have boys. She was a decade older than I was when she got pregnant. She came from a different time, she grew up in a different world. But she loved me for who I was, not who she hoped I would be. She never tried to make me into anything different. She delighted everyday in the person I was becoming. And if she were here now, she would probably expect me to act exactly as I do. And I hope she'd be proud.

My mother used to have a saying for me:
There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good,
She was very, very good.
And when she was bad,
She was horrid.

I guess things haven't changed much...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It Ain't The Place To Be

Although I've never considered myself having much in common with Eva Gabor, I'm finding more and more that country living is not the life for me. Our rented yellow ranch house on the range has fresh air to spare, but nature seems to be telling me it doesn't want me for a neighbor.

First it was the no-see-ums. These tiny, biting gnats attacked us with a vengeance each time we set foot outside. They swarmed our heads, attacked our ears, and turned our bare legs into a buffet. We itched and scratched until we looked like junkyard dogs with a bad case of the fleas. We had to lock ourselves indoors in the middle of a beautiful spring, tell our high-strung toddler to ride his brand-new big wheel in the great room, and take in the amazing view we were paying an arm and a leg for through the not-so-amazing mini-blinds.

Then a mouse built a nest in the heater box of my SUV. As our little family was headed for the fair, a horrendous thumping sound came from under the hood, shortly followed by a funny, slightly nauseating scent. Thinking the compressor was shot, I was relieved to discover the A/C was fine, though not relieved to learn a poor mouse mommy had chosen my engine as a safe haven for her babies. Perhaps it was the smell of Cheerios that drew her in, since their numbers remain at a constant on the floor of my backseat. The technician vacuumed out the victims, and the dog-hair nest they'd called home, charged me $75, and told me to get a cat. After this procedure, the slightly nauseating smell became an overwhelmingly nauseating one, and a tough one for my nine-month pregnant nose to handle. Think dead animal and wet dog hair, with notes of rotting fish in the finish. The mechanic thought some deodorizing spray would help. That only made it smell like dead animal, wet dog hair, rotting fish, and flowery deodorizing spray. It wasn't a good mix. Carter was fond of telling me, "Mommy, it's stinky in here!" As if I hadn't noticed.

By July our baby Brody had come, and so had the bees. Seems they loved our oasis in the semi-desert. We had wasps, we had honeybees, we had hornets. So between the 100+ degree weather and the stinging insects, we were once again driven indoors.

Now we've been infested with some type of water beetle. They are scurrying over the ceilings, down the walls, and across the floors of our guest bathroom and hallway. The kicker was when I was making Carter's bed and four of them went scurrying across the comforter. That was about the time I entered the pest control company on speed-dial.

We've got giant wolf spiders in the garage and grass snakes in the driveway. I've been told we live on virgin land, but between the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, I don't believe it. It may be pure, but it sure as heck ain't innocent. It's a battle for who has a right to homestead out here, and lately, I don't think it's going to be us.

We seem to be outnumbered.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Today, my oldest son's third birthday, is a simple day I want to remember forever. I want to always be able to picture him stacking his birthday pancakes on top of his cup of milk, perusing the pumpkin patch and declaring a soft, green one perfect, and the look of his sweet face drifting into contented sleep in the backseat of the car. He is only three and yet he has grown so much, changed so much since the day he was placed on my bare stomach, purple and wiggling and just a few seconds old. I have learned so many things since that day: how to survive without sleep, how to eat cold food without complaining, how to take a shower in three minutes flat with my head half out the door. I've learned how to change diapers, how to bandage some nasty cuts that made me cry, and how to carry a sleeping child in from the car without waking him. I've learned to love with all my heart, and I've learned to be more dependable and responsible than I ever thought I could be. I've learned the patience my parents always wished I had, and how to do more things at once than "The Cat in the Hat" could do.

In the years to come there will be kindergarten and new friends, long school days and cafeteria money to remember. Sports practice, music lessons, reading and writing. Drivers ed. School dances. College applications. There will be late night conversations and early morning slammed doors. Shouting and laughing, joking and ignoring. There will be love, joy, and sadness; all of the memorable moments that happen on a daily basis. The life of a parent is full of the mundane and the miraculous, the boring and the beautiful, the never-ending and the never wanting it to end.

And that is not all, oh, that is not all...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


The cold is winning. Current score: Cold: 4, Us: 0

Every single member of our normally healthy and happy household has been handed a ticket to Sickville. It started out innocently enough, as colds always do, with my preschooler sporting a snotty nose while we were on a weekend getaway. Then, disaster of all disasters, our infant son caught it next. Before you could say "Antibacterial gel, STAT!" my husband and I had caught it, too.

If there was a nuclear war, I swear the only thing left would be roaches and cold bugs. Paints a pretty little picture, don't you think? All those nasty beetles running around with stuffed noses and tiny coughs. That's justice, my friend.

I think the amazing thing about nature is that she understands what it is like to be a mother. She knows who needs to be strong. Somehow, by the grace of God, a woman has strongest immune system of anyone in her family. I don't think this is by chance at all.

Have you ever seen a man with a cold? He whines. He complains. He lays on the couch. He must go to bed early to heal his aching body. And a woman with a cold? She pops a couple of Sudafed and swigs an orange juice chaser with one hand while simultaneously stirring a pot of chicken soup and wiping her toddler's nose with the other. We are the strong, and we survive. But oh, what we wouldn't give for a comfy couch, a bottle of Nyquil and Grey's Anatomy on TiVo. At least that's what I'd prescribe for my own recovery.

A mother is a wonderful thing to the sick. She nurtures. She kisses the owies. She makes her home a haven for the sniffily. She heals.

And it makes your own germ wars so much easier to handle when you know you hold the power to heal the little ones you love.

Tomorrow's score: Cold: 0. Mom: 4

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Uniform of Mom

I am wearing sweats today. If you must know, it is because my youngest woke up four times last night to eat and my eldest woke me up at 6:30 to do the same. Of course, he wanted pancakes, not milk, but it still involved me dragging my butt out of bed to feed someone other than myself. I finally stumbled down the stairs about half an hour before preschool, and in order to get everyone out the door and somewhat presentable before nine, I had to don a pair of sweats.

I got them yesterday at Target and although they are trendy and brand new, I am still a mom... in sweats.


When did this happen? When did I go from looking sexy and alluring to wearing something made out of fleece? Was it when I learned how hard it was to get spit-up out of hand-washables? Or was it when I discovered that the dry cleaners is unable to removed strained squash from silk? Although I still have been known to stumble (literally) into my OB's office in a pair of pointy-toed, four-inch-heeled boots, most of the time I am wearing something a little easier to move around in. Have you ever tried wearing a skirt around a two-year-old? They don't call them curious for nothing.

I guess what I'm wondering is, Does anyone (except for my husband who is bound by the State of California to) find me attractive anymore? Don't get me wrong, "dumpy" has never been part of my definition, not by far, but my standards of attractiveness sure seem to have slumped to a level I don't think I'm comfortable with. Although fleecy sweats sure are comfortable, but I digress. The point is, I used to be the target of raised eyebrows and sly smiles, but now I'm just a woman unaware that she's been walking around with peanut butter on her boob all day.

And why would the cute guy at the Starbucks drive-thru who is young enough to have no idea what HyperColor is be attracted to a thirty-ish woman in a ball-cap and sweats driving an SUV in desperate need of a wash with two screaming kids under three in the backseat? Why wouldn't he run screaming to the nearest wholesale house to buy a Costco-size pack of condoms? I certainly would, and they're my kids!

The truth is, I have become a mom. Like it or hate it, I am no longer trying to secure a mate to ensure the survival of my species. My role is now that of the nurturer, the singer of lullabies, the buyer of Goldfish crackers. And what I need to remember on days like this is that beauty of the body is only remembered for a moment; the beauty of a mother lasts a lifetime.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Independence Day

My almost-three-year-old is becoming the most independent of little boys, which is a trait I am trying to encourage, yet fastly regretting as time goes by. While it's delightful to wake in the morning to the sound of pitter-pattering feet, it's strange to find the effects of a preschooler left to his own devices. A half-peeled banana by the computer. A box of Cheerios on the living room floor. My cell phone, covered in some unknown sticky substance and the tiny fingerprints of the guilty.

This is his home now, not just ours. I have found Stride Rites lined up in his closet with little dirty socks tucked inside. Toothpaste glopped all over the bathroom counter. Baby Teddy tucked into bed. He is owning his world, taking up more than just a part of it, and reminding us every day of his ever-evolving presence.

I look forward to watching him grow and learn, and know that one day a tall, smiling man will be standing in my kitchen with a deep voice and broad shoulders. But in my heart he will always be my boy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Living Eternal

I lit a candle for my father today. His memorial service was a year ago today, and sometimes it feels much longer than that. Even though the memory of his passing grows fainter as each day drifts on, I will always remember what it meant to be his daughter.

This is the legacy of parenthood. There is so much of our heart that keeps beating after the day that we die. It beats in the chests of our children, in our traditions, our hopes, our fears -- whatever part of ourselves we choose to leave behind. Will it be your love of music you pass on? Your talent for turning out the most perfect meatloaf this side of the Mississippi? Your passion for Pottery Barn? Will your daughter draw roses like you do? Will your son drive with your lead foot? Or will it be something different -- your lack of patience, your unfinished dreams, your regrets. Every day we have this choice. Our children will remember it all, the good and the bad, but we will always live with the guilt. And we will become distant parents because of it.

I know this because I experienced it. It was my father's legacy. His sadness and anger at the unfairness of life prevented him from truly sharing his soul. I know it is difficult to admit your mistakes and stand in front of your child in naked, shivering honesty, but it is what makes us real. It is what makes us good.

It is what makes us parents.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Preschool Virgin

Yesterday marked a most momentous occasion in my almost-three year journey of motherhood: my son's first day of preschool. I find that as much as I want him to learn and grow and discover, I don't want to let him go. I want him to always hold my hand as he crosses the street or twirl his hair as he sucks his thumb. I want Baby Teddy to always have to get a nametag when he gets one; I want to hear "Hold me, Mommy," every day for the rest of my life. I strive to etch these moments onto my heart so they are always reachable when I drag out the family photo album and study his face that has already changed so much. For these are the days that are the hardest part of watching our children grow up: watching him go, watching him venture forth into the world of Play-Doh and play scissors, and knowing that the saddest moments are yet to come.