Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Recap

A quick (or notsoquick) recap of a Ruff Christmas.

Christmas Eve is spent with the ILs, brother/sister ILs and all the first cousins. That puts the number at 22 (when all are there, one BIL was in the hospital). I try and get everything done for Christmas (at our house) on the morning of Christmas Eve. That includes, making my appetizers to take to Christmas Eve (this year my middle daughter wrapped 88 potstickers on Wed afternoon), making my dessert for Christmas dinner, usually a vanilla bean cheesecake (more on that later), cutting up fruit for Christmas breakfast and making homemade cinnamon rolls, also for Christmas morning. The cinnamon rolls I had done on Wed evening and chilling in the fridge. I made the cream cheese frosting, cut up my veggies, made shrimp salsa. I got a list made of everything we needed to bring...from clothes to change into after church, to gifts we need to bring and gifts that would travel with my ILs to their Christmas Day celebration. Then I have to rotate 4 children through showers. Then of course the husband and myself. OH...and I should mention...the snow. The lots and lots and lots and lots of snow we got...and were still getting.

So, I got my things done, my cheesecake in the oven, all was going well. The timer went off on the cheesecake and I opened the oven door and said those immortal words.."DO NOT let me forget to take the cheesecake out of the oven before we leave", preferring to let it cool in the oven. Slowly the kids rotated through the shower.

My oldest daughter had decided to straighten her hair, my middle daughter wanted hers in big bouncy curls, which my oldest willingly helped her accomplish. Beanie...she wanted hers curled as well but she wasn't willing to dry her hair so it could be curled. And I was not willing to fight with her over it, so I just said nothing. And of course, as I'm getting dressed to leave, she is following me around, with still wet hair, curling iron in her hand, wanting me to curl her hair. Uh, no.

We make it to the ILs and partake in th annual ritual of Tom and Jerry's. If you have never had a HOMEMADE Tom and Jerry, then you're missing out. It's something like a dozen eggs, whipped together with powdered sugar and some spices into a batter (those who are not OK with raw eggs should not partake). The batter is then placed in a mug with hot water brandy and rum (yes, I DO DO both!) Tom and Jerry's are a necessity for attending catholic service, with small children, and no place to sit. Seriously. They're like prozac without the RX.

Normally we take our Christmas picture after church but we broke tradition and did it before church. You'll note the carefully co-ordinated outfits. That is my doing. No, I don't make them match, but I do co-ordinate them. OH, and the outfits also cannot be a one time outfit. It must be something my children can wear again that won't scream..."I WAS A CHRISTMAS OUTFIT". This is not always an easy task (esp when I choose some bizarre color...like voilet as a main color).
After church appetizers appear, seemingly out of nowhere. And that's what we ate all evening. Potstickers were delicious, as was the shrimp salsa. Santa arrived and dropped of bags of gifts for the children. A "tied over" til they can get their hands on their exchanged gifts with the cousins and Grandma and Grandpa's gifts. They were all pleased with their gifts and ran off to play (or watch movies). The adults refortified and began our White Elephant. We have never done this before and I think this will become the new tradition. It worked out very well and we had lots of fun with it.

Surprisingly it was later than we expected when we started packing things up to head home. Because home is where Santa stops with the "real" gifts. We arrived home, got the kids all situated in bed, cookies and milk out for Santa. I got my jammies on, was checking my websites when someone mentioned just sliding a cake into the oven and I thought OH SH!T...my cheesecake. I raced the 3 steps to the oven and sure enough...there it was. Looking as if the San Andreas fault had taken up new residence down the center of my cheesecake. I won't mention how much in...creamcheese and vanilla beans went into that cheesecake because it would make you cry...it did me. Since it was 130am, and there was NOTHING I could do at that hour, I chose the Scarlett O'Hara route; I'll worry about it tomorrow (or more aptly, in the morning because technically it was tomorrow).

I know everyone's house is different, but here, Santa doesn't wrap. His gift (as it is only one per child unless it's a combined gift for all) is left by the tree with the child's filled stocking next to it. Yes, I know, it doesn't prolong the unwrapping but there is usually plenty of gifts to unwrap.
Santa brought the boy a new soccer ball and Madden '10, the oldest daughter a track suit from her dance studio, the middle daughter a new coat with matching hat and gloves and Beanie got her own rollerblades and a new helmet. Mom and Dad provided the "necessities"...the clothes, the new bedset, the new (second) camera, the Favre jersey, yadda, yadda, yadda. My favorite part is, though this was a pretty scaled back Christmas, EVERYONE was happy with ALL their gifts. So, no returns for ME!

Breakfast was scrambled eggs, maple smoked venison sausage, homemade cinnamon rolls w/cream cheese frosting and fresh fruit. Need a pic? Happy to oblige.
The rest of the day was spent preparing for dinner, for me. For the kids/husband it was playing in the 15 inches of freshly fallen snow, using the snow toys to build a snow fort (or half of one...we definitely suffer from attention deficit here). From the front door AND back door. (I had no desire to experience the snow first hand).Making Christmas dinner is all a matter of timing. The prime rib comes out of the oven (and needs to rest) and, unless you have two ovens, WHICH I DO NOT, then the popovers go in AFTER. My prime rib looked like this:My popovers looked like this:And the Christmas dessert? Well, I decided since the San Andreas Cheesecake was not worthy of the above, I would make ONE attempt to find an alternative and ran to Holiday (gas station) and what should my wondering eyes should appear? 6 half pints of heavy whipping cream! All the makings of Creme Brulee. And it was YUMMY!

So, the trees are still up, but I am exhausted. The thought of taking them all down and putting everything away makes me break out in a cold sweat. I may just change out the decorations and start a tradition of Valentine's Day Tree.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday Sledding

We took the girls sledding today (the boy, well, he's maxed out his family time allotment) at the husband's old elementary school. Met up with our brother in law and two nieces for an afternoon of frivolity on a somewhat snow covered hill.

We brought the mock snowboard and most of the girls made it about a quarter of the way down the hill, some all the way down. I think that was luck.

The pics seem to show exactly how much fun was had by all:




It's when you get a shot like this...of your girls, in proximity, without pulling out the other's hair...well, it's worth the effort of dragging all the stuff, making a thermos of hot chocolate, and freezing your toes off...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Day in the Life of an Elf

That is the name of this year's display at Macy's 8th floor (formerly Marshall Fields, formerly Daytons). It was the same display as last year and looking at the yearly schedule this is the first year they have done the same display two years in a row.

And c'mon...it's not like I don't know what it's like...for an elf...being married to "Buddy the elf's separated at birth" brother...ahem...


And yes, the picture is a couple years old (and No, Beth, I couldn't hate you for providing me with so much ammunition. *smooch*)

So...figure the kids all being about 4 years older (not me though...I don't age) and taking them to a mechanical display of "A Day in the Life of an Elf". Better yet, let me show you the pictures:

Here are my girls:

Then of course, there's me and my husband (he came as his alter ego here...no sense in dealing with the mob of autograph seekers):


And at the end of the production, were pictures with Santa. Sadly, my older two chose to forgo the experience. But the younger two chose to partake in a little brown nosing:
Just to cover their bases dontchaknow.

You'll note the absence of my son. Oh, he was there. Lovin' every second of it...


You really can't tell because of the distance, but he had a look of pure unadulterated JOY on his face. He tried to keep it from spreading to his siblings by holding himself aloof...but we could read it. No...really.

A good day. Had we gone later in the day, we may have stayed for the Hollidazzle parade. But as it was, we had fun...at a day in the life...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Somewhere in the Middle

That phrase, "the truth lies somewhere in the middle" came to me repeatedly this weekend, so I looked it up and frankly, I wasn't really happy with what I read. It seemed to apply mostly to politics and how extreme views in politics make room for moderation "somewhere in the middle". And yes, when you have an extreme position, it's difficult to find compromise, especially when such a compromise means your core principles are in jeopardy. I won't get into a political debate but rather switch gears and reflect on how "somewhere in the middle" applies to me.

I have 4 kids. When something happens, one will inevitably run to me with their version of what happened. Usually it's the youngest and she is pretty good at making herself out to be a victim of those mean oppressing older siblings. If I go to the next youngest, I will get a version a little closer to the truth. My oldest daughter usually tells me what happened straight up, accepting responsibility if she's in the wrong.

I know, when dealing with my youngest two, that the truth of what happened usually lies somewhere in the middle. IF I take the time to get both sides. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I react to a blood curdling cry of my youngest, POSITIVE her siblings are ripping her arms from their sockets. I react first and ask questions later. This is my fault because I truly believe she wouldn't respond that way unless it was dire. Well, I'm learning she knows this about me and plays to this character fault in me. She now releases a blood curdling scream if someone tells her no, looks cross-eyed at her, or heaven forbid, refuses to give her a sip of their pop. Yup...I'm learning, but I have to fight against all my instincts to react and that's not easy. I remember a story my parents told me of my sister and two cousins playing in my grandma's kitchen. My sister was around 4, the older cousin was 5, the younger 2. The younger cousin got her finger stuck in a cabinet and screamed bloody murder. My dad came running in, immediately went to my sister, wanting to know what happened. She was a little shell shocked and didn't say anything immediately when the 5 year old piped up with "Michelle, Michelle (my sister)..." trying to say she, Michelle, didn't do it, when my dad grabbed her and spanked her, thinking the cousin was saying Michelle did it. He didn't have the full story. He reacted on instinct. And to his day, he never touched one of us again. Ever. A horrible lesson to learn a very difficult way.

There is a line I recall from Return of the Jedi, after Yoda dies and Ben Kenobi appears to Luke, telling him about his father, confirming for Luke that he, Anakin, is not, in fact, dead. Ben says, "So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view." We all have our biases and will put our spin on any given situation to justify our behavior. That, I think, is human nature. Does anyone ever want to portray themselves in a bad light?

So, two things I am trying to remember: Truth will out. It will. Eventually. Like with the situation with my dad, once the waters calmed. And when you make decisions based on "a certain point of view" you had best be prepared to live by those decisions and consequences. I believe that to be harder than we think. And two...there are ALWAYS two sides to every story. Sometimes, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's a Grand Slam!

First, I thought it's just a fly by, given only one child being affected. But no.

On our trip back from Thanksgiving Friday evening, we stopped at a regular spot with my BIL's family to have an early dinner. We had been back on the highway for no more than 5 minutes when my middle daughter said those dreaded words..."I think I'm going to be sick." Frantically we looked about the inside of the truck for something to contain "it". The best we could come up with was a travel coffee mug. No bags (that we usually have in the event we bring the dog someplace and have to pick up after her). NOTHING. We coached her in some Lamaze breathing (I knew those would come in handy) and made for the closest exit. We made it to a gas station and she headed to the bathroom. She came out and said no, she wasn't sick but the, uh, southern hemisphere was under attack. But she still felt nauseous. I had the foresight to ask the clerk for a couple plastic bags, explaining the situation. She took them and went out to the car while I waited for Beanie to use the restroom. Daughter number 1 came in to tell me that daughter number 2 was currently emptying the contents of her stomach on the side of the gas station. We had about 45 minutes to drive to get home and luckily, we made it without any further incident. She slept most of Saturday and by Sunday she was right as rain.

Then Sunday night, Beanie starts complaining of an upset stomach. Now, let me say, this is the child that is known to cry wolf. Loudly. With a bull horn. So, we sent her to bed with a bucket, just in case. 1 am, she came to tell me there was throw up all over her bed. Oh, great. Looking at her, I knew how it got there. As an aside...can I just ask...why doesn't the vomit fairy ever visit during the day, when an 8 year old child has at least a chance of making it to the toilet? Why must she make her visits nocturnal? So, I stripped said child and got her in the bathtub (let's just say that was critical). I stripped the bed and poured baking soda all over the wet spots. I did a superfluous (for the time) clean up on the carpet, the bookcase (who knew pizza could fly?), got said child back in clean jammies, assisted with round 2 and we (at this point the husband came to investigate) got her set up at the foot of our bed (on my nice down comforter) with a bucket at both sides of her head and finally went to bed. Oh, not to sleep. I got to lay there just waiting for round 3. Each cough, each grunt, each movement had me ready to leap to her aid*. But alas, apparently round 2 rectified the situation. I was finally, around 5am, drifting off to sleep, when daughter number 1 tapped me to tell me she was nauseous and dizzy. I said go back to bed with a bucket.

So, I send my son off to school and daughter number 2 off to school. Daughter number one comes to the kitchen and attempts to drink some water only to have to make a mad dash to the bathroom. I sent the husband off to rent "the rug doctor" and bring home some ginger ale. After warning daughter number one that one should let one's stomach settle at LEAST an hour before attempting to put anything into it, my advice went unheeded. I knew better than to stand in her pathway to the bathroom as it didn't take long for it to come right back up. Luckily, she made it both times.

Whatever it was that hit them seemed to be fast and furious with a residual effect in the southern hemisphere. Tuesday, the husband was hit but only with the residual effect. I figured we were done. Nope. Tuesday night my son came into our bedroom saying he felt nauseous. I warned him to take a bucket to bed. I didn't hear from him all night (his room is in the basement). I went down to check on him and yes, he'd been hit.

So. The perfect quadfecta. When does the vomit fairy EVER hit all your kids in the same week? This was a first for me. A hat trick plus one (two if you include the husband). A grand slam. (sorry...out of sporting analogies).

Ever the realist, I understand that this is me being punished for my arrogance. I have, in the past, commented on how MY kids are NEVER sick. Ouch. That one bit me in the fanny. Never say never.

And the pessimist thinks she'll strike again. Christmas day, when I'm removing the giant prime rib cooked to a PERFECT 135 rare degrees, studded with garlic and seared so nicely, I see myself, the one who seems to have escaped this malady, turning green...

*aids=grabs a bucket and holds her head firmly over it so that there is no possibility of spillage

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving-palooza

We have a Thanksgiving that is quite a bit different from most. Yes, we go visit family (EVERY year) but no one ever really understands what that means until you're in the midst of "family". This year happened to be the largest gathering of family yet. All told, there were 51 for dinner, a few more for the brunch that followed church service.

My husband's uncle is a priest and he hosts Thanksgiving at whatever parish he happens to be. Three years ago he retired and while the church retired him to a VERY SMALL town (population 73) they retired him to a HUGE rectory house that helps to accommodate at least most of the adults*. We didn't get to claim adult status this year and were relegated to the basement of the church (thankfully with air mattresses..still...).

Father puts on quite an event. Games (usually with cash prizes) for all, starting Wednesday evening. After chili at the rectory, those present head down to one of two of the bars in the town of 73 (two bars and a church...what else do you need?) for a "pull tab" tournament. We paired up (me with my husband...awe....), threw in $10/couple and whomever "scored" the highest dollar amount, won the tournament. First round, 10 couples NO.ONE.WON.A.PENNY. Debate ensued and we each threw in another $10/couple. And one guess who the winner was? Go ahead...guess. YUP, MOI! Not only was I the tournament winner, I happened to pull the ONLY two wins of the night...$200 and a $50. Yeah ME (although, the husband cashed in and I haven't seen hide nor hair of THAT windfall!). And the tournament win netted me (which I DID claim) another $50. I may have Christmas paid for this weekend!

Following the bar was the midnight venison fry (and were we ever thankful the husband's brother scored 3 deer this year or it would have been hamburger and that doesn't seem to have the same Thanksgiving flavor).

Church service was at 930 and getting 50+ people ready for church with only one shower takes skill in time management. Service was followed by brunch of egg dishes, several pans of caramel and cinnamon rolls, a huge platter of fresh fruit and several pans of sausage. And Bloody Marys.

Then the real games begin. Gunney sack (OK...garbage bag) races, apple races, running backwards, running forwards. All with prizes. Then the "boys" played a rousing game of touch football. This was followed by the poker tournament. Then bingo. All while keeping track of 2 football games/pools.

We actually had dinner on time, at about 630. 2-24 lb turkeys, dressing, wild rice dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, fruit salad, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and cole slaw. It was without a doubt a feast.

My oldest daughter stood on the counter in order to get all of us (or most...by my count there were 4 adults who were there but somehow missing from the picture).


Which of course reminds me of the song...

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings

Can YOU name that tune/movie? It's probably a favorite of mine...especially around this time of year.

*adults=anyone over 50 years or has a baby/toddler under 3. I'm out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Different Kind of Crazy!

The Husband and I were fortunate enough to be invited to the Vikings vs Seahawks game yesterday. Oh, and to be clear, it wasn't just the game, it was 4 hours to tailgating FIRST.

Note to self...must revise definition of tailgating.

It was a BALL. We were in the parking lot by about 830am, tables and chairs set up, grill going, a bloody mary bar laid out on the table. Footballs flying. Corn hole (we call them Polish Horseshoe) games a goin'.

Our host, and birthday boy, had shrimp and steak shishkabobs grilling, there was pasta salad, finger foods, birthday cake. It was a Tailgate-a-palooza!

And the people watching...well, it doesn't get much better than that (well...maybe the State Fair). I haven't laughed so much or talked so much or had such a good time in ages.

Proof positive...it keeps getting better.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

He Speaks

For more than 2 weeks, I've been praying for resolution. And it came. But in an unexpected form, to an unexpected situation. And it HURT. Like you wouldn't believe.

Thankfully, I was listening. REALLY listening. We all listen for what we want to hear but who wants to hear that we have shortcomings? And because He is merciful, He answered my prayers. He blessed me with what I wanted. But, I think He saw something I didn't *pause for moment of shocked disbelief*. He chose for me a path I wouldn't have ever considered. And after several days of reflection, I have to wonder if He saw that I was settling. Settling for less than was required of me. Is that ever right, to be held to a higher standard? Oh, I want that standard in place, don't mistake my meaning. But I think I was settling for less than I deserved. Willingly but blindly. And He opened my eyes to that.

I have stopped staring at the door that is so firmly closed to me. I've done a slow exacting circle and noticed all the windows that are wide open and realized, I am truly blessed.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

As probably noted, I've been having a tough couple weeks. Many people are helping me through it and I'm thankful. I had help from an unexpected source. And while I wasn't surprised, the timing couldn't have been better.

This weekend I was a hunting widow (see last weekends post) as my husband and son were down south hunting (unsuccessfully unfortunately). My oldest daughter had a sleepover birthday party then was babysitting all day Sunday. My MIL offered to take the younger two for the night, so I was all alone for church on Sunday. I decided to go to the early service and left early enough to stop at the gas station to pick up a Sunday paper and as I got in the car, I realized that I had forgotten to bring my giant cup of coffee, so I figured I get one at the gas station as well. I went to the counter with my cup of coffee, intending to grab a paper as I walked out the door and told the attendant such. When she said, $1.75, I said OH, you forgot the coffee. Her reply? "It's on me today."

I shed a few tears over that. A free cup of coffee. A random act of kindness.

So...if things are going good for you, can I make a suggestion? Smile at someone. Hold the door for a harassed mom. Or buy some random person a cup of coffee. It doesn't cost much (or anything) and might just make someone's day turn around. Is it worth the effort?

This ends your Public Service Announcement for today.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Running Home to Daddy

Yesterday, I had a bad day. And so I did what any rational 46 year old woman would do: I ran home to Daddy. Or rather I called him. Let me tell you the power a girl's daddy still has on her as an adult. When he answered the phone, recognized my voice and said "Hello me Darlin'" in a mock Irish brogue with just a touch of Staten Island thrown in, the anchors tying down my heart were removed and I immediately felt better. Like being cold and someone throws a warm fleece blanket over you. The power of a girl's dad.

I talked through my cell phone and one cordless phone dying told him what was going on here. As an adult, I took responsibility for my own transgressions, letting him know I am NOT blameless. Still, he expressed his eternal support for me, as one would expect from a dad. Between my dad and my sister, they are serving to help me gain a bit of self-respect back. And I'm grateful to them.

Later yesterday evening, I got an email from him with a story...a story I have heard countless times and it never fails to remind me of who I am..who I have always been:

I knew a little girl, around 2 years old. We were in Homestead, Fl. at the time. She was playing with the children across the street, when something happened to upset her, and home she ran, crying so hard that she knocked herself out in the middle of the road. I picked her up, me and Mom washed her face, Mom got one of the pineapple oranges, peeled, seeded and sectioned it for her, put it in a tupperware bowl, set her on the tricycle, and away she went. Up and down the sidewalk in front of our house looking across the street at the other children who caused the stress, and if there ever was a F**k you look on anyone's face, it was on that little girl's. End of story.

I am doubly blessed. Not only do I have the world's best dad, I married my father. Yup, I think it's so true that we are drawn to men who remind us of our fathers. My dad and my husband share so many attributes, it can't be just a coincidence. They are both unswervingly loyal, protective and supportive. They both put a high value on the importance of family. They're both conservative in principle. They both relish being outdoors. I could go on and on but I think the gist of what I am saying is that..I married my dad.

And I think that's a good thing. Because I have 3 daughters. And at some point in their life, they'll be going through a hurt like I am and I know that when they come running home to daddy, they'll be wrapped in the same blanket of love and support that I have been. I guarantee it.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Epiphany

First, I need to give special thanks to those friends who read my last entry and offered me their ears...allowing me to rant, their shoulders...allowing me an solid surface to unburden myself, and their unerring support. Your kind words have helped immeasurably.

Earlier this week, when discussing my situation for the upteenth time, my husband reminded me of the power of prayer. Oh, I've been praying but I think I have been looking for a specific answer without being willing to accept, maybe the answer is there, but not one I want to hear.

This was reinforced with church today. The husband and son were deer hunting, my oldest daughter went to an earlier service with a friend, my youngest two were in Sunday school. So that left just me. I found a seat as the adult choir were singing their opening songs and got situated. Let me preface this by saying our church is new to us and not the faith I was baptized in. Yet in the 2 years I have attended these services, I have come to love it. Two of my big issues at the beginning were: 1. the lack of 'ritual'. I was comfortable with the ritual of my old church. Of the rote responses which allowed me to respond while not being all there. Now, I wouldn't go back to "ritual" for all the manna in heaven. 2. the songs. Gone were the songs I had grown up with and these were almost 90% new to me. So, imagine my surprise when the first song that was played, that had my full attention, was one I easily recognized, the tune, but something made me pay close attention to the lyrics:


What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer!
Oh
, what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged - Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden, Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge- Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do they friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield thee, Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever Lord be bringing All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded, There will be no need for prayer-
Rapture, praise and endless worship, Will be our sweet portion there.

He has my attention. Thankyouverymuch.

Then He spoke through one of today's verses: Jeremiah 17:9-10
"The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be."

My epiphany? I am going to take my troubles to God. He will find a way of answering my prayers. I'm ready to listen...regardless of His answer.



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Metaphorically Speaking

I have a heavy heart. It's been coming on for a couple months but I think I am now at my lowest. I can't seem to pull myself out of it, probably because, from what I can ascertain, there can be no resolution...or none to my satisfaction. I guess it's what happens when your world is rocked.

Matthew Chapter 7 talks about the wise man who builds his house on rock. A solid foundation. It can withstand wind and rain and floods because of the foundation. How do you really know a foundation though? Can you peek under the rock and see more rock? No, not usually. Usually you assume that the rock is present down to the core. But what can appear to be solid rock can be a facade. Sand that shifts beneath the stone that tilts one's house. Is it an aberration? Is the foundation basically solid or is there something beneath the surface that weakens the foundation? And once the house tilts, do you shore it up and hope it is a fluke? Or do you recognize that what you believed to be solid is not and move on to another location, rebuild, paying closer attention to the foundation?

Storms happen. Sometimes they're big gales. Sometimes they're smaller. Sometimes you have warning and can prepare...can lessen the damage. Sometimes they come out of nowhere and leave you bereft . I've always thought that the best way to handle the aftermath of storms is to assess the damage and fix it. When the sun shines, the roof doesn't leak. That doesn't mean the leak is gone though and without fixing the leak, you run the risk of further damage to the roof.

When the sun shines again, do storms still have power? Even just the thought of them. The damage they can cause. The rocking of your foundation. The uncertainty that you have invested so much of yourself into something that isn't as strong or worthy of your efforts. And if you can't repair the damage, isn't there always a nagging thought in the back of your head that the next storm will cause irreparable damage?

The ultimate irony? My head says it's time to move on. But when I listen to my heart it is telling me don't give up just yet. Are heads and hearts ever on the same page?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Happens When You Blink

Today's lesson involved blinking in Minnesota. Because one day, it's fall, the leaves are still changing...heck, most of the trees still have leaves on them. Then, you blink. And you get this:


And this:



And this:

For the morbidly curious, pictures one and two were taken Oct 10. Picture 3 was taken Oct 12. Accumulation on Oct 10 was about 2 inches and it was gone by noon, while accumulation of Oct 12 was closer to 4-5 in and lasted until later in the afternoon, for the most part, with patches hanging around for a bit longer than that. It's Oct and I know that I should be thankful that we have "dodged a bullet", since today, the sun is shining and the temp is hovering around 60 degrees and breezy. But still...my mums are history (I won't mention the part the dog played in their demise, but suffice to say the snow was the initial culprit). However, I can't help think that Mother Nature, vicious bitch that she is, has something really ugly planned for us this winter. As if "winter" itself, in Minnesota, isn't bad enough.

I think I should be doing like the squirrels...laying in a supply. Although I'll leave the nuts to said squirrels, and instead go for something of a numbing variety. Then it can snow. And I won't care.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Windsday

I think fall finally arrived in Minnesota. The temperature went from being a very warm (mid 70s and sunny) Saturday and Sunday morning, to cloudy, blustery and windy by Sunday afternoon/evening and carrying on into today. That's OK...I picked up pumpkins and mums on Saturday. Fall's official welcome.

Today, I made Snickers cookies. Never had a Snickers cookie? Well, it's a little slice of heaven. Peanut butter cookie dough, wrapped around bite sized Snickers candy bars (that have been unwrapped of course) and baked until the candy has melted into the dough. I originally got the recipe from a neighbor who, when she made them would use the fun sized bars, stick a wooden stick in it, wrap dough around it and make it into a cookie pop. Just as good but it was like eating 4 of the bite sized cookies and who needs to do that in one sitting, right? No, you don't have to answer that.

Lucky you. I'm going to share the recipe.

Snickers Cookies
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
36 bite sized Snickers Candy bars

Preheat oven to 375. Cream butter and peanut butter together, add sugars, egg and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, baking powder and soda, salt. Mix well.

Using a small scoop (mine is pampered chef...1 Tbs), scoop dough and flatten out with your hand.
Place the snickers bar in the center and wrap dough around so that no part of the candy is visible.
(no comment allowed on my man-hands)
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10-11 minutes, til golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cook slightly before moving to a rack to cool completely.

IF you wand to make the cookie pops, you'll need 10 fun sized bars, 10 wooden sticks. Use 1/3 cup of dough for each cookie pop and bake the cookies for 13-16 minutes. Should make exactly 36.

Because, everyone deserves a little slice of heaven.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September Wrap Up

Oh My, has September flown by. I've been meaning to post the kids' first day of school pictures, but their activities have kept me so busy I have barely had a chance to download them let alone write a cute little story about them.

And it's not really a cute story. I have a sign that I made way back when my oldest was in 2nd grade and my second oldest was starting Kindy. The same sign is in the below pictures but I change the date each year accordingly. Now, keep in mind that I have a sophomore in HS who really is NOT interested in standing before a sign for pictures. My response to his inquiry as to whether he can be done with said sign was...Nope...suck it up Buttercup. While he does not appreciate this sentiment now, I'm sure in 15-20 years when he looks back on these pictures, he'll be able to remember the disdain in which he held the whole experience, his expression being so telling.

Now, logistically this was not an easy feat. Because I have one in JR HS who rides a bus and catches it at 7am, one at the HS who walks and has to leave to walk by 730 and 2 in elementary school who have to be driven and leave at 845. I thought, this one day, I would break the cardinal rule of parenting and actually WAKE a sleeping child (or 2). My husband squashed that idea and instead I lumped the kids in individual (paired) pictures.

So, my oldest 2 at 650am:
Yes, the joy and excitement on my son's face was hard to contain.

My younger two at 830am:
So, we've barely gotten 2 weeks into the school year and my middle daughter ended up out of school (flu like symptoms) for 2 days and is now followed by my son. OY! I guess if they have to be out of school, I'd prefer them being out this first bit then when school gets going.

The kids' activities have also been running us ragged. Thank heavens the older two are on school teams which requires the school to get them to practices and games, I just need to pick them up afterwards. My youngest is playing soccer 2 nights/week and all 3 girls add dance starting this week. Add attempting to get to home soccer games, home volleyball games AND have us all sit down and eat a dinner together is really a test to my time management skills. So, we'll have a couple REALLY busy weeks with them before fall sports end and winter sports kick in. Middle daughter will be playing basketball and oldest daughter is trying out for JO volleyball.

I was so excited for school to start and now that it has, I find myself a glorified chauffeur. I need to put a tip jar in the truck.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Biting Humor

I went to my 10th grade son's first soccer game last night. I should preface this by saying he played soccer as a little boy, then quit, then started up last year, playing on the 9th grade team. His team last year won one game, losing the rest by pretty high margins, which is a little demoralizing. I think the tide has turned. They won last night 9-0 and I was in the position of feeling badly for the opposing team. I was just amazed at how well they played AS A TEAM.

On the ride home, we're listening to the radio when Womanizer comes on. Now, I kinda like the music but I really think her nasaly over synthesized voice sucks. And yet, my son reached over and turned up the radio slightly. Appalled that he might actually LIKE her music, we had the following conversation:

Me: Aw...c'mon, her voice sucks

Him: Yeah, but the video is kickin'

Me: Oh, you're just saying that because she's naked in it

Him: No, Mom, really, the choreography is awesome

I laughed. How could you not? I'm really starting to like him again after spending 4 years beating my head up against a wall dealing with his attitude. And I like his sense of humor. He gets it from me.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Think Like a Dog

Last week, I was out on the riding lawn mower, cutting the acre of grass that encompasses our domain. The dog was outside. I was about as far from the house as I could get when the neighbor behind me, also mowing, stopped to chat briefly. I turned off my Ipod, stopped the motor and was talking about development business, mostly our decreased water pressure, when the dog, who had moved to the deck started barking. Not willing to make the acre trip up to see to the DOG, I let her bark. When I finished mowing, I returned to the deck only to find she had dumped out one of my large planters on the deck that was filled with 2 different varieties of basil. Not just tipping over the planter, she dug through the dirt, effectively destroying the root system and leaving the basil, wilting in clumps all over my deck.

I tried to salvage the basil, pulling it out of the dirt, which was very wet and clinging to all the leaves (and spicy globe basil has A LOT of VERY SMALL leaves) when I found Remy's black kong, buried in the dirt.

Now, I'm not Cesar the dog Whisperer. Heck, I'm not really a dog person period, but I tried to reconstruct what happened:

Remy had her kong over by the planter and accidentally dropped it into the planter. She then barked at me to come get it in a very Lassie-like, hurry, Timmy's fallen down the well, fashion. When I didn't respond she decided that Timmy needed help RIGHT NOW and went into the well on her own and attempted to bring Timmy to safety. Thus, effectively destroying my basil.

I was going to make pesto with the salvaged basil but I couldn't get the wet dirt off most of it AND...do you know how many leaves are on a stem? Like a BAZILLION. I don't have the patience for pulling each 1 in long by 1/2 in wide leaf off the stem, and washing thoroughly. I'm a fast and easy kinda gal. So, I'll be off to the farmers market this weekend where I'll spend $3 on 3 gigantic bunches of basil and have my pesto put away for the winter in a fraction of the time.

So, the reality is, Remy DID save me...save me from the tedious task of attempting to make pesto with spicy globe basil...by channeling her inner Lassie.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Spring Rolls: SO Worth the Effort

A couple years ago, a friend of mine asked me to cater an appetizer party for her husband's co-workers. I went in search of some fun recipes that, along with my tried and true ones, would make her party a success. I became intrigued by fresh spring rolls. I looked at recipes all over the internet and decided that I would just pull from each recipe those ingredients that *I* like and give'er a go. In case you are wondering...NO...I did not make them the first time for the party. I had a test run.

So I'm going to share my recipe for making fresh spring rolls. You will need the following ingredients:

  • shrimp I buy 40-60 count in 12 oz bags. They're cooked peeled and deveined with only the tails left that need to be pulled off. I use 2 bags to make appx 20 rolls.
  • spring roll wrappers (Banh Trang makes 2 varieties, wheat flour and rice flour...BOTH WORK WELL. These come in the Asian food section of most grocery stores, or can be found at asian specific food markets)
  • rice sticks (or rice vermicelli). You'll need about half a package. Soften as directed.
  • red and yellow pepper, cleaned and cut into matchstick size pieces
  • cucumber(normally I use and english, but not necessary. This time I used a regular cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise, then in half width wise and deseeded it and cut it into match stick sizes
  • carrots (I'm lazy...I bought those already in matchstick size pieces
  • fresh cilantro (washed and removed from the stems leaving the leaves mostly intact (I used a half a bunch and have a lot leftover)
  • fresh basil (washed and removed from the stems leaving leaves intact. I used about 4 large stems cut from my basil planter in back)
  • hot water (I bring a pot to boil then keep it hot on the stove on low)

Once I have my ingredients ready (and I'll be honest, it's time consuming so I recommend doing all your cutting one day and assembling the next...the shrimp you can thaw out the day you assemble), I take two flour cloth dish towels (mine ARE clean, just stained) and wet them. I put the made rolls on one to keep them moist, and I assemble the spring rolls on the other. I set a pie plate, which I fill with about 1 inch of hot water, enough to submerge a spring roll wrapper. The hotter the water, the quicker the wrapper will soften so, be ready.
When you feel the paper start to SOFTEN, pull it out and set it on the damp dishtowel(the damp towel will help the wrapper continue to soften and it will be pliable when you are ready to roll):

I use 4-5 shrimp/roll and place them on the bottom, then a layer of softened rice noodles:


Followed by 2 of each color pepper strip, two cucumber strips and a few carrot matchsticks:


I then put a layer of cilantro over the veggies and top that with a couple basil leaves (2 if they're big, up to 4 if they're small):


I then CAREFULLY fold the spring roll as you would a burrito, sides first:


Then begin the roll, keeping all ingredients tight. Be careful...too tight will rip the wrapper, not tight enough and the ingredients will fall out when you cut:


Continue to roll and VOILA:

I've made these in advance, but never more than 2 days. The wrappers are very sensitive to cold and freeze quickly, EVEN in a refrigerator on a "warm" setting wrapped in clean damp flour cloth dishtowels.

To serve the spring rolls, I cut them on a diagonal:And serve them with a Thai Sweet Chili sauce:
Except...I've never been able to eat just one, let alone a half of one. Ahem.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Shave and a haircut....

This is too funny not to share. About a year ago, my husband decided he was done paying the $11-13 for a haircut and we bought a hair trimmer. We've experimented with the blade numbers and over the year have gradually moved to the #2 blade cover. I usually give him the haircut as he hovers over the bathtub. Not the most comfortable of positions but if he saves $10 every 3 weeks, he's willing to put up with the discomfort.

So, yesterday he decided that he was in need of a hair cut but for some reason he was unwilling to wait for me to completed whatever it was I was doing (probably on the computer). He decided to start without me. He came into the kitchen to ask if it looked even and I was a bit surprised that he had done it by himself and done a pretty good job...but there was one section on the right top of his head that appeared just slightly longer. I said I'd come back to the bathroom and fix it and before I could get there, I hear "NOOOOOOO" emanate from the bathroom. Being the good wife, I went to investigate.

Apparently, he had removed the #2 blade cover when he had finished with the initial hair cut and forgot that he removed it. So when he went to "fix" the long part, he did so with a trimmer with no blade cover...taking a 3 inch long 1 inch wide swath of hair right down to his scalp.

Really...a picture IS worth a thousand words:

We're considering his options: shaving the whole head (not my favorite), using a pen to draw on stitches (thus making it appear a PURPOSEFUL shaving), or using an eyebrow pencil to draw hair in.

Suggestions welcome.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pity Party...no admission fee

33 days 4 hours and 13 minutes and I'll be dropping of my youngest two at school and planning a self indulgent day without children. Is that wrong? Yeah...I thought so.

I'm not sure whose bright idea it was to have a summer vacation for children that lasts 3 solid months, but IMO, they should have been shot. Or at a minimum, been required to stay home and find a way of keeping 4 active children happy for those 3 months. Without the use of a TV. I don't think it's possible although I have no doubt that there is some parent out there who is quite content to listen to their children fight and bicker and whine because (select all that apply): 1. They're bored 2. There's nothing to do 3. It's too hot 4. It's too cold 5. It's too rainy 6. All their friends are busy...feel free to add your own.

Oh, don't get the impression that my children do NOT have all the 'right toys'. We have DSs, X-box, Ipods, books galore, computer. And if they STILL find a way of coming to the boredom place, I am more than willing to find them chores that need completed (and if even attempted, I'd have to redo). They've been to the boundary waters, to their grandparents cabin, to friends' pools, to amusement parks, to summer camps with the state fair on the horizon. Poor little dears...nothing to do. So, you unwittingly walked into a pity party of epic proportions. I.AM.DONE.WITH.SUMMER (actually, I like summer, I'm done with 4 kids being home 24 hours/day.)

And even as I try and get a little excited about them going back to school, they find a way to squelch my joy:

My oldest (son) has informed me that the black and red Champion back pack I purchased for him last year, that he chose not to use (for some unbeknownst reason) and still looks new, he will again not be using this year. It looks too babyish. I'm tempted to buy him a Sponge Bob backpack for comparison purposes. We even brought it up at dinner offering him $100 to carry a Sponge Bob backpack and he declined. Then he informed me that the two shirts I had purchased for him last week during the GAP Give and Get sale, he will not wear...for no other reason then they came from Old Navy. They were simple shirts that would have worked with several pairs of his plaid shorts. No...if it's not from Pac Sun or Hollister, he won't wear.

My oldest daughter has worn, ever single item purchased for her for school last week. Every.Single.One. After being told repeatedly that the new items were for school. I can already hear the ..."but everyone has already seen me in that" argument for new items before school starts. Tough.

My middle daughter arrived home from Safety Patrol Camp on Friday night. I was SO excited to see her and she was SO animated and happy to be home. For about 15 minutes. Then, she went to the ugly place. She is currently in the throes of "Jan Brady Syndrome" and it took her a good 18 hours to come out of her mood and only after having HER school shopping pulled because of her behavior. Not the way I wanted to start our first day with her home in 6 days.

And finally, my youngest. I'll just say she is a blonde haired, blue eyed Grendel. She has thrown so many tantrums these days that there isn't a decision made in this house that doesn't go her way that is tantrum free. It's going to be a long road to Tantrumfreeville.

So, I am ready for school to start. I'm ready to put their smiling (and if they're not smiling, I don't give a rip) little faces on a school bus (ok...only one will be riding a bus). My oldest will be walking to school (the 1.5 miles on a highway...or the 2+ miles on sidewalks). The youngest two, I have the honor of dropping at school. I'm anxiously counting the days.

Then the pity party will be over...and the real party can begin...heh, heh, heh...

Monday, July 27, 2009

YUM....

Ever run across one of those recipes that seem SO simple, you just wanna say...DUH! Well I had the experience recently and have added it to my repertoire. But here's the kicker...my kids LOVE it. All 4. LOVE.IT. And as much as I'd like to take credit for it, I'll give credit where credit is due...Tams...we're forever in your debt. What is it that will have the gods singing? Shrimp Salsa. And it's easy-peasy.

Here is what you need:
2 jars of your favorite chunky salsa (I use a Mexican brand Herdez, and I use mild because medium is more difficult to find...and I can usually find it for about $1.70/jar)
1 lb peeled, deveined and cooked shrimp (I'd say size doesn't matter, but it really does, as we well know. I've done this once with precooked frozen shrimp, and once with uncooked frozen shrimp that I boiled til JUST done...and I think I preferred the texture of the uncooked shrimp that I cooked myself. They were sized at 40-60 and I cut each one in half after cooking)
jalapenos (to taste...this time of year, I find that the smaller and darker the jalapeno, the spicier they are. I picked up giant ones last week and they tasted exactly like green peppers) at least 2-3 (3 is probably the tops I'd do if kids were eating it), cleaned and cut into small dice
cilantro again, to taste. I use about half a bunch cut up finely
juice of 2 limes if the limes are at room temperature, they juice easier
1-2 avocados diced depends on how much you like avocados.

Combine everything but avocados and refrigerate. Before serving (I do this mostly to keep the avocados from turning brown), add avocados. Serve with Tostito Scoops (so that you can get a little bit of all the flavors on one chip).

Seriously...you'll LOVE this. Bring it to a party and you will be a ROCK STAR!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

When Furniture Fights Back

Up until recently, Beanie had been sleeping on a twin over full bunk bed that was given to us by moving neighbors. We only needed to add the required mattresses. And it had served us well. But lately, I've noticed that the bed seems wobbley. And squeaky, making noise with each move. When Beanie started bringing screws to me, screws that had worked themselves out of the frame, I knew it was time to replace her bed.

But who replaces just a bed? Right. That's my juicy rationalization for purchasing her a "new" bedroom set. The reality is, the only dresser in her room was the maple baby dresser that each child had used. It had 3 drawers, which is fine for a baby/toddler but we were finding that dresser real estate was at a premium and something needed to be done.

So, I started scoping out Craigslist. Why not new? Well, Beanie has a penchant for markers, sharp objects and anything that produces a sticky residue so I deemed her not yet ready for new. I found a set that was perfect but waited too long and it had been sold (how come the items I put on Craigslist don't sell that quicky?). It took me about a week to find a different set that we thought would be perfect for an 8 year old girl. A twin 4 poster bed, a dresser with mirror, and a night stand; all pieces were a white washed pine with some flower embelishments on them. So last weekend we went and purchased it. Not one to let grass grow under my feet, I tackled her bedroom. OY! I pulled 4 big rubbermaid bins of CRAP out of her room. I got the bedroom all set up, the bed washed and remade. We were all set for her first night in her new bed. And she did great.

Then, the second day she did what I expected. She fell out of bed. Let me preface this; she slept on the top (twin) bunk that used the wall on one side and the guard rail on the other to keep her in the bed. She is also a thrasher. The new bed is open on three sides so there is no "protection". Apparently in the midst of her thrashing she fell out of the new bed and popped her cheekbone on the nightstand. Hard enough to leave a lovely lump on her cheekbone, which promptly turned into a shiner under her eye with the cheek bruise appearing 2 days after the fall.

The bad news is, we had a few nights post "fight" of her not wanting to sleep in her own bed. The good news is, she's now back in her bed and seems to have come to detente with her nightstand. Or maybe she is just plotting her revenge. I just hope it doesn't include markers.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Not to Know

My oldest and youngest had physicals yesterday. I'm not normally good at getting them done on time, but my son required one as a sports physical so he can play sports for his last 3 years of HS. My youngest was due too so I had them both together. She was easy. No shots, this time, but we will have to go back for a lab appt to have a few boosters. My son...OY. That one had me reeling.

First and foremost, at 15 he has officially surpassed me in height. I'm 5'9 3/4 (I'm shrinking...I used to be 5'10) he is now 5'10. But that was pretty much to be expected (me...with a dad who is 6'4). It was the "questionnaire" that had me flummoxed.

He was given a questionnaire to fill out and I was given a consent form to complete. Telling me that this questionnaire is confidential between the Dr and patient and they, according to MN state law, are bound by Dr/patient confidentiality. I had been officially cut out of the information loop and I had issues.

My son is 15 and all in all, a good kid. We talk about a multitude of things, some of which he finds embarrassing, some of which he feels comfortable enough to discuss at length. We've discussed most of the things that are readily covered in school but with a more conservative slant. Sex, for example, we've discussed what has been taught at school. But I've taken it a step further and spoken to him about yes, there are ways that CAN help prevent disease/pregnancy, but there is only one fool proof method: abstinence. Schools don't teach that. So, we've had many discussions along these lines.

So, I'm sitting in the next room with the youngest when the nurse comes in and tells me that I have forgotten to sign the consent form. To which I replied, no, I didn't forget, I have chosen not to until I speak with his Dr. I seem to have surprised her (the nurse). I then went in to speak with my son and ask him if there was anything on that form that he would not like me to see. He said no. I asked if he was completely honest on the form and he said yes otherwise the questionnaire is pointless. He handed me the questionnaire to read his responses and I chose not to. After the youngest's glowing physical, I asked to speak with the Dr regarding the consent form and my reservations.

Don't get me wrong, I do not have my head buried in the sand with regard to our family not being like all families, but in my opinion the state is now pandering to the lowest common denominator. I think there are a small percentage of children who might be in a position of bodily harm from a parent who may not agree with the child's choices. The majority of the parents, who have their child's best interest at heart, are inconsequential. But as a parent, I am emotionally, physically, spiritually, morally and financially responsible for my child until they are 18. That gives me a vested interest in being involved with all decisions regarding my child. ALL decisions. Some I may not like, but I will ultimately do what is best for my child. If I have to abdicate the decision making process with my child, what I would like to know is, who then picks up the emotional, physical, moral and financial responsibility of which I have been so carefully and purposefully excluded? Or does the state just get a say in their physical (and possibly emotional) well being without realizing that they are all intricately tied together?

The issue is not a tangible one, at least for us. Instead it is an issue of principle. I do not need, nor want, a nanny state telling me what can and cannot be discussed about my child and his/her physical health. *I* am responsible for that child so it is my RIGHT to know what drugs are being prescribed, what tests are being performed, and what issues my child may be faced with in order to help my child come to a safe and informed decision.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fashion Accessory?

I know this is stupid but I just gotta have my say. Maybe putting it out there in black and white will make it quit buggin' me so much.

When exactly did lingerie, specifically bras, become fashion accessories? Seriously. I'm not talking about the bra straps that peek-a-boo out from the little teeny boppers cami tops that everyone wears (including my own daughters). I'm talking the full on, hook and eye back strap that holds said garment on our bodies?

And here is where it really caught my attention: I am a fairly avid watcher of Sex and the City (the cut version for TV) and on NUMEROUS occasions I've seen Carrie wearing her bra as if it were a fashion accessory and my first thought is always...WTH? When she attends Smith's opening of his play with Berger in a stunning Prada dress...with a bra strap (again the hook and eye version) across the back of her open back dress. When she visits Big in the hospital after he has his "heart thing" (moment of pause for uncontrolled weeping), she has on this gorgeous plaid sundress that criss-crosses in the back and there again...that big ugly strap marring the whole effect. And finally (or to my recollection) when she attends Enid's party with the Russian, again wearing a backless (and sideless) dress with a bra visible in both back and sides.

So, what exactly is the point. Somehow I suspect that when Prada (or the sundress designer) designed the dress, it was not with the intention that the wearer use it as a frame for their underwear. And it's not even the pretty part of the underwear! Does it do anything for the overall effect? Yes, IMO, it looks tacky and ruins the designers "vision". Like...I'm not going to take the effort to provide the proper undergarments for this dress but rather, I'll "make it my own" by having my big ol' bra strap showing.

Carrie gets away with a lot in that show. Some fashion statements that were better left "unsaid", but for some reason this is one that I just can't seem to let go. I don't consider myself a prude (what with 1029 in my past, who could?) and yet this pushing the fashion envelope gives me pause. Oh, I'll let this one go, someday, because I know, someday, there will be something that pushes that envelope just a bit further.

Something like thongs...with charms...but I'll save that for another day.



Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's My Lucky Day

Those were the words my youngest sang as she ran into the house last night. In her little black dress...that was 2 sizes too small...but I digress.

"I found a 4 leaf clover!" she proudly proclaimed.

"But, one of the leaves fell off", she added with a pout.

Carefully controlling our smiles, we asked to see said Lucky 4 leaf clover of the missing leaf and she produced a beautifully shaped, evenly spaced 3 leaf clover, with a 4th leaf that was slightly bigger than the other 3 and still had part of the stem attached from where she peeled it off (obviously) another 3 leaf clover.

"Um, Beanie, you know this fourth leaf just doesn't seem to fit anywhere on this 3 leaf clover", her dad said, biting his cheek to prevent the bubble of laughter threatening to erupt.

"But Daddy", she stomped her foot in mock frustration at having been outed as a fraudulent four leaf clover finder, "it DID fit."

We all took a step back, not wishing to get hit with the inevitable strike of lightning that would undoubtedly hit her in retribution for her OBVIOUS charade.

Then, she giggled and replied..."It's STILL my lucky day".

THOSE kind of bubbles, I'm not willing to burst.

Monday, June 29, 2009

15

My son turned 15 yesterday. And I AM seeing him become more adult in how he (sometimes) behaves, but sheesh, I'm tired of having to tip-toe around him. Here is how our weekend went.

Saturday, our youngest decided, because she has daddy wrapped around her little finger and she GETS to decide things like this, that we would take them all to Chipotle for lunch. I figured, while we were there, we might as well stop at Best Buy, which was next door, and pick up the boy* his birthday present, which I sorta had to twist my husbands arm on: an X-box 360. Now, we back track a bit and the boy had originally told me (sometime around Christmas) that he was good with the Arcade (the lower, $200 model). But, of course, we get into the store and OH, NO...MUST have the 60G version and a new game AND X-box Live . Now, part of what made this palatable was that we had Best Buy Reward dollars AND a gift card. When you add a $60 game to the lower end version, we were still looking at a $200 gift which isn't something we like to do. He was also under the mistaken impression that the X-box would be hooked up to one of the two family room TVs. UH...NO. So, he got surly in the store, which was a one way ticket out of the store empty-handed.

We had to go to Sams Club and I decided to stay in the car and chat with the boy. Here is what I explained to him in an attempt to reach some kind of compromise. No matter what we seem to do, we continue to fall short, in his eyes. He wants a phone, we make him wait til 14 and NOT give him texting. We make him wait for that (6 months). He wants to take drivers ed and we don't get him signed up in time so now he is not in a class with his friends. He wants the higher end X-box and we weren't willing to pay the extra $100 for it. Now I can justify this in many different ways. He doesn't need to play movies on it, play music on it, etc...He just needs to be able to play games on it. We are also willing, although NOT AT THIS TIME, to get him X-box live. But he's 15 and doesn't feel he should have to wait.

So, talking to him, I thought I made headway and in the end he was willing to compromise with the Arcade. So we went back and purchased him the Arcade and the $60 game. He came home, hooked it up and proceeded to make it through all 12 levels of Call of Duty. He beat the game. So, he wanted us to run out and buy a wireless router so he can immediately hook into X-box Live. We said no.

More surliness ensued.

I love my son. More importantly, I'm starting to like him again. He's maturing and will on occasion actually listen to reason. Sometimes he will even go as far as to laugh at himself. I am longing for the day when he will recognize that my age and experience in this life count for something and accept that maybe, just maybe, he doesn't know it all. However, I suspect I may have to wait another 15 years for that admission.

*the boy=what we have called our oldest from day one

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Public Service Announcement

I have debated posting about this but I really think that the situation warrants it. So, here goes...

One of the local towns has a Girls Night Out every Thursday during the summer, usually starting early June. I found out about this a couple years ago and have made it a point of getting together with friends at least once/summer. The first GNO happened to coincide with the "retirement" from working full time of one friend so we were also celebrating her "liberation". AND this was also the first time that all 4 of us had gone there together. It was a beautiful night. OH, and they were also handing out free tiaras which we made a point of acquiring.

So, our first stop (after tiaras) was for a Cosmo, which we each had. While waiting for a table, we were told that there was free wine tasting in the cellar if we were interested. We got our table outside and ordered appetizers. Our one (granted it was strong) cosmo gone, we each ordered a beer with the tenderloin sliders, crab cakes, lamb chops and french fries. We ate leisurely and decided to do a quick stop in the cellar and give the wine a try. We went down and were a little surprised that there was NO ONE (save the bartender) there, yet the table with the wine was out in the open. After a short (maybe a minute) someone asked us what we wanted to taste: I chose the Chardonnay, the other three, Merlot. Now...this was NOT a glass of wine but maybe 1/2 in at the bottom of a full sized wine glass. The wine was declared delicious and we left to walk the maybe 1/2 mile to our last destination: the place with the Pear Martinis. We sat on the deck (this was probably close to 9-10pm) and it was starting to be a bit cooler with the sun having set but I was the only one with a jacket. Before the martinis were gone, one of the girls was GONE. I quickly got her to the restroom, then sat her down at the door saying I was going back for the other 2. They arrived as I was headed back to the table, but I still had to go pay the bill. I told them to wait there. By time I got back to the door, it was obvious, all 3 were in the same state; incapable of walking the 1/2 mile back to the car, so I left on my own to bring the car to them.

I made it back, got everyone loaded into the car and had to pull into a spot before even leaving the parking lot as someone was sick. Violently. I had to make 2 more stops before I got everyone home. Everyone delivered safe and sound, I headed home and to bed, even though it was till relatively early. My husband asked how it was and I told him, surprising him that not one or two but all 3 had become ill.

After thinking on this the next day, I had to think that the wine they had was tainted. I mean...3 separate women, having had the SAME thing all folded within 15 minutes of each other and were violently ill through the next day. On what was really 3 drinks over 5 hours. And a sip of wine.

I was going to let this go until last Saturday, while out with the same friends, one pulled up an article from a news report that had been on Friday night, about a man who had gone to a local bar (not where we were) for 2 drinks and had ended up VIOLENTLY ill. He believes he was drugged and the report asked that people who had a similar experience call the police.

So, Sunday morning, I called the establishment that had the wine tasting and explained why I was calling (NOT to cause trouble) and suggesting that IF they had future wine tastings, they should make sure the wine is NEVER compromised. Yesterday, I called the police in the town and walked through our evening with a police officer. Since I was the only one of the 4 of us who was coherent through the night and could review the timeline and could be as accurate as possible about what we had, where were were, had we been in the sun...all the details which might have shed some light on the situation. While it isn't anything we can prove, I honestly think that someone saw GNO as an opportunity.

My purpose in writing about this is to suggest due vigilance to anyone who will listen. These aren't the days when I used to go out with my girlfriends without a care in the world. Don't ever leave your drink alone or with someone you aren't positive you can trust. I seriously doubt we were the would be target, rather, we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time (for us). So, I'm gonna channel a little "Hill Street Blues" and say..."Let's be careful out there".

This ends your Public Service Announcement.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Poplar Lake

And the saga continues....

So, this year my husband decided that we needed to show the children BWCA. Big Toe and SIL take each of their 4 children (separately) when they turn 8 (they're headed up this Thurs with #3). I however am not equipped, either emotionally or physically, to take my 4 children on what is tatamount to a survival camping trip, EVEN if I knew how, which I don't. I am well acquainted with my limitations. So, I looked for options #2: find a cabin on a lake in the boundary waters. And I had SUCCESS! A cabin on Poplar Lake (Rockwood Lodge). Go ahead. Look it up. I dare ya. Did you find it? Well, let me tell you, it's about 2.5 miles from the Canadian Border, about 30 miles NW of Grand Marais. TECHNICALLY, we are not in the boundary waters, but the boundary waters are on all sides of us, so close enough.

We stayed in cabin #2 which slept 9. It had a loft with 2 double beds, a bedroom with a double bed and a twin bed and a pull out sleeper sofa (double) in the living room. We were about 2 hours into the drive up there when my girls informed me that they (the older 2 girls) had worked out the sleeping arrangements and OH, what a surprise that they each had their OWN double bed, my husband and I shared one with the youngest in our room and my son on the sleeper sofa. Amazing how that worked out so well...for them.

But, before we got to the cabin, we had to survive the 6+ hour trip. In a car. With no escape. And the inevitable "Are we there yet?" every 20 minutes from my youngest. I'm not sure we brought enough alcohol for the weekend.

We arrived late Thursday night and there wasn't much to do other than settle in. Which would have been a very different story had we camped, but I won't go there. You'd think there wouldn't be anything that can go awry there but apparently there was an unpacking issue with my youngest that required about a half an hour of whining over it. We went to bed and left our 4 children running wild in the cabin. Our "Parent of the Year" trophy is in the mail.

Friday morning arrived with a view from the front of the cabin where you couldn't tell where the earth stopped and heaven began. Need proof?
From there, the morning took on a 'typical' morning. I apparently forgot the Squeeze Parkay and O.M.G...how does one eat scrambled eggs and bacon with DRY english muffins? So, the husband went to the lodge and scrounged up a half a stick of Blue Bonnet so my children could eat their breakfast in a manner in which they have become accustomed.

After breakfast we cleaned up, made some sandwiches and took off in the canoes. So, of course, it had to start raining. We pulled close to an island and sat under some trees until it let up (which it did pretty quickly). We started back again our goal being a series of islands where we could stop and eat lunch. But we swerved off course and our soon to be 15 year old son, who has never done anything remotely like this, told us where we were going wrong. We chose not to take his advice and made it to the islands surliness for being ignored not withstanding. We ate lunch, and paddled back to the cabin, while my husband decided to take a canoe out on his own while I rinsed out the towels the girls who duffed sat on in the center of the canoe. I didn't see my husband until he came back...soaking wet from having tipped the canoe. Apparently he was yelling for me, and I didn't hear. My "Wife of the Year" trophy will no doubt arrive with the Parent of the Year trophy.

A novice cribbage player myself, I taught my oldest daughter the game.She’ll no doubt have rules NO ONE will understand but I think she has the gist of the game, being as how she skunked me completely the second time we played.We walked down to the lodge where we learned that the geologic society is out here frequently as there are rocks that have been dated over a billion years ago. We walked up to what is called the Hobbit House which was the first cabin built in this resort back in 1920 something. (The year is in dispute). We came back in time to watch a summer squall roll through. So the kids did what kids’ll do confined to a small 3 room place:4 children played hide and seek. It was actually pretty humorous with my son actually climbing onto a beam in the loft. Best.Hiding.Place. EVER.So, to prove my husband wrong, who believes me to be ever the pessimist (I am actually a realist), this weekend HAS had its rewards. One…my son, who hasn’t voluntarily picked up a book in close to a year (damned cell phone/video games), actually has been “forced” to read. I brought him Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn…I’ve read his later books but not his early ones and figured if I could get him interested in this, his first, he’d be hooked. I believe the hook has been set. (LOVE fishing metaphors) Two…there is no TV. So all of my children have had to entertain themselves. There has been a lot of card games, reading, croquet (came with the cabin), football…enough to make me seriously consider TV free weeks for the remainder of the summer. Three…and this is projecting. I think a weekend alone, without friends to amuse them, will show my children that of all people, it’s their siblings that they will always depend on.

Saturday we got up and drove to a trail that was supposedly a moose viewing trail. After walking, probably a mile or so, we went back to the truck and made for a Lima Mountain road (a loop) where there supposedly is also a possibility of seeing a moose. And what to our wondering eyes should appear:



Talk about exciting! He was a beauty, ran right across the road. We stopped and I got out and climbed up an embankment to get a good picture. I was a little nervous being that close to him but he didn't appear aggressive. He seemed more...resigned (apparently the male moose is more aggressive in the fall during rut, the female is aggressive in the spring around her calves). So, I got some pics, then husband took the camera and grabbed some pics. All in all it was the highlight of the trip.


Later Saturday, while husband and oldest son were fishing off the dock (and being successful, I might add...a little too late to be of value to us), this little fellow swam by us:

Apparently, beavers are pretty bold as he swam within about 10 ft of the dock.

I got up early Sunday morning. I wanted to see just one sunrise*. Unfortunately, I didn't make it but I did manage to get this picture:


I think I can safely say, we left the boundary waters on a very high note.

*sunrise=ungodly hour...and I was up at 5am