Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Making the Bed

I may not do anything all day, but one thing I do is make my bed.  Every day.  And when I make the bed, it is almost as if I do it from the mattress pad up.

Why, you might ask?

Because every night, when my husband comes to bed, the first thing he does is pull out the top sheet from the ever so carefully made hospital corners my mother taught me to make to keep the sheets neat and tidy instead of hanging out beneath the quilt.

Every night.

I'm fairly positive this is a male trait although my random sampling of two (my dad and husband) might be a little skewed.

While I am "airing out our sheets", so to speak, I should also say that I only own one set of sheets for each bed in the house.  Washing sheets involves making sure I leave enough time in the day to remake the bed with the same sheets I washed.  Woe be unto me if there should be some kind of "accident" during the night.  But that's what sleeping bags are for, right?

I have friends who actually iron their sheets and I am of the belief that they need professional help.  Seriously.  OH, I GET that it's WONDERFUL to slide into a freshly made, crisp sheet bed.  But in my oh so humble opinion, that type of behavior sets up some unrealistic expectations.  So, what do you do the second night?  Remove the sheets and iron again? And heaven forbid that one of my children labor under the misguided expectation that their future spouse will, for them, iron their sheets, because mommy did. 

My future S/DILs will thank me one day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

You Too Can Have One

I HATE school fundraisers.  Yes.  I had to start out with that because, well, I thought it important for you to know.

Today is the day our elementary school fundraiser was due.  Now, I DO have to give Beanie credit because the first day of the fundraiser she hit the streets and came home with 16 items purchased and over $200 in "stuff".  So you think...good for her right?  Well, yes and no.  She's 9 and she has been completely fished in by the "crap" they offer up for hitting certain levels (or selling a certain number of items).  She needed 25 items for this:
Beanie's uncle added 2 more items this weekend.  Which means what?  It means that I now had 7 items I needed to buy (at 9pm last night) so she could get her prize.  OH...and this is only ONE of the awesomeness prizes that she'll be getting.  Since she hit 15 items, she'll bring home a box of Chocolate chunk cookie dough, because, you know, I don't EVER make chocolate chip cookiesSo, we're looking at a limo ride, a box of cookie dough AND (yes, it keeps getting better) her choice of a skinit (for a cell phone which she doesn't have), giggling key chains (in 5 fun animal shapes that, NO, she won't get her choice, they'll pick one for her and she will undoubtedly trigger the giggle incessantly until it mysteriously vanishes), a voice changer (like I need to hear her voice and it NOT be her voice) or an apple shaped speaker with light (???).  Ohhhh...which will she choose.

Last year's prize, which currently resides in a closet because I can't bring myself to actually throw it away, given how much I had to pay in crappy merchandise so she could get her prize, was one of these:
Jealous?

How I wish they would just do what the JrHS is doing.  Given that these kids have fundraisers for drama, sports, choir, etc, the JrHS has just asked the parents to chip in $20/kid.  I couldn't get my checkbook out fast enough.

I'm just hoping that this year, I actually GET my Real Simple magazine.  The one I ordered (and PAID for) last year and never got.  That, and I'm looking forward to the "gourmet" pretzels I bought at Beanie's request.  And paid over $3/pretzel for.  Yes, I AM nuts.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

When Bananas Go Bad...

DUH...you make banana bread.

I had (note...past tense) 4 pretty brown bananas that were whispering in my shell like ear...banana bread...make me into banana bread...or I WILL attract every fruit fly within a 2 mile radius to your kitchen.

Never one to ignore voices I hear (well, unless they're my children's), I complied.

Now, what was at issue was which recipe would I use?  Would I use the recipe that my husband's family has passed down from person to person (that bugs me because who exactly has a 2/3 tsp measurement?).  Or do I use the Cooks Illustrated version, which I used once before but doubled it (yes, I had that many bananas that needed using) and found it VERY dry .  However, I was not willing to give up on this recipe so I went with the CI recipe but making as per the instructions (ie...not double).  AGAIN, I found that the end result was too dry looking.  So this time, I made an addition of  1/4 cup buttermilk.  Had I been thinking, I would have thrown in that 4th banana instead.

It's out of the oven and of course, I couldn't take the time to let it cool completely:

So far, so good.  But the proof is in the puddin':
Moist, tender crumb (albeit a bit on the warm side, that is me lacking self control).

I think...it needed that 4th banana vs the buttermilk.  I think it needed just a tad more banana flavor.  Still, all things considering, I believe I have hit on the recipe.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Enterprising Teens

My oldest daughter has a friend who, with her sister, are making tu-tus.  So, to encourage these enterprising teens, I'm going to give them a plug:

Tu-Tu Couture

This weekend the girls did a little modeling of the tu-tus and from the looks of it had a ball.  Here's my daughter:
 And her crazy friends:
The beauty on the left is one of the designers.  Note the "editorial" stance of my baby.  Girl's been watching WAY too much America's Next Top Model.

Now...I'm off to find a lock and key, cause I gotta feeling I am in some serious trouble here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Captain Jacks

Swingin' at the bar.

Fall Day on the Boat

Not a cloud in the sky

Birthdaypalooza for 2010 is Officially OVER

I'm fairly lucky that my family's birthdays all  fall within a 6 month time frame, with only mine and Chrisapalooza  on top of one another.  But I am OK with him receiving all the accolades without calling attention to yet another year having marched (by now Father Time is wearing football cleats) across my face, thankyouverymuch.
Last night was my middle daughter's 12th birthday party.  She had it planned out pretty much how she wanted it:  6 of her closest friends were invited over for an afternoon of yard games (bocci, polish horseshoes, ladder golf), followed by pizza, a possible bonfire, then cake and ice cream followed by a sleepover.  Two girls were unable to stay the night and were picked up by 11.  The others made it their mission to either stay awake all night OR make sure WE stayed awake all night.  I'm still a little fuzzy on the goal there.  And luckily the party went off pretty much as expected with a few "left turns" thrown in.
Games...check.  All were laid out and ready for use.  I think they played one game of polish horseshoes, choosing instead to play all those games that one would think at 12 they would be beyond...hide and seek...tag...loading music into the ipod onto speakers and playing as loud as the speakers will take and dancing.  I kept a cursory supervisory eye on them but for the most part let it go.  We had friends drop by after pizza and decided to move the party to their house for the bonfire and added s'more making to their house.  It was a skeeter issue.  They spray, we don't.  So, your daughter will have less bites than if we had done it here.
You're welcome.
Back to our house for cake and ice cream.  The cake...well, she wanted german chocolate cake but I recognize that many people simply do not like pecans and coconut frosting that accompanies german chocolate cake so she compromised on german chocolate cupcakes with half frosted with coconut pecan and the other half with cream cheese frosting.  Now, here's the funny part.  As we're lighting the candles (my high potential daughter...who does not think to light them from the center so as not to burn herself), is blowing out the match and manages to blow out 3/4 of the candles she has just lit.  Ever the helpful mom* I took the one remaining lighted candle and lit the remaining 11.  We sang, she blew...and was she able to get even 3/4 out TRYING to blow them out?  No.  Don't believe me?
4 of 12 candles still lit.  Yes, she does have the lung capacity.  At 230am she proved it.  Ahem.
Oh, presents.  I forgot presents.  First let me ask...when did I miss the memo that it is imperative that a portion of the birthday gift consist of massive quantities of candy?  Seriously.  I'll be sending all you moms my dental bills (see here... and here for precedence).
The candy haul:
The candy was of course accompanied by gift cards, itunes, scarf, nerf gun (for which I had received fair warning).  Loved all the gifts...the candy, she could do without.
So, the girls had a good time.  They are an imaginative bunch though, believing, at 12 as one does, that bigger IS better:
Or more IS better:
Breakfast this morning was homemade pancakes with fresh strawberries and fresh whipped cream.  They were some T-I-R-E-D girls though.
Might I suggest a nap?
*Ever the helpful mom=can we just get this done mom (but ever the helpful mom sounds so much nicer)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dancin' in the Rain

Tonight the girls danced at the first home football game.  And for the first time in 16 years the studio has been providing this entertainment at half time, it rained.  It wasn't a drenching rain, but a light rain that would let up, then start up again.  Thankfully, it wasn't super cold or it could have been miserable.  As it was, our team had a 14 pt lead going into the halftime show.  We (ok, *I*) thoroughly enjoyed the "flava" of the commentators...when they'd say..."the chain gang is on the move, headin' towards our local DQ" = first down, our side.

So, the rain decided to let up enough to let the girls dance on the field.  My younger two danced to Usher's OMG and my older daughter danced to Pit Bull's Shut it Down.  They all did awesome.  Here they are after halftime:

We pretty much bolted after half time.  Yes, it had stopped raining but the skeeters decided to put in an appearance.  Plus....I had a pot of Texas Brisket Chili on the stove, tortilla's warming, toppings of avocados, sour cream, monteray jack cheese and fresh cilantro AND yesterday's apple pound cake.  We had friends over and ate then warmed up in the hot tub.

More and more I'm finding...life is not what happens but rather what you make of it.  I find I kinda like Dancin' in the Rain.

The Twilight Zone

Yesterday I felt a bit like I had entered into the Twilight Zone.  My older three were home from their respective schools, I had a pot of corn chowder on the stove and I had a wild hair to make an Apple Pound CakeSo far, nothing quite out of the ordinary.

Then, once I started pulling out my ingredients, my three oldest all sat down at the kitchen table to do their homework.  This gave me a start, but I tried to shake off that feeling of uneasiness.  I mean SURE in the past all of my children have been there doing homework.  But never all at once. It was, I was positive, a recipe for disaster. Still, I kept a watchful eye on events as they unfolded.

What ensued was mind boggling.  Not only were my 16, 14, and 12 year old within close proximity of each other, they were...dare I say it....actually conversing with each other in a playful yet respectful manner.  Oh, don't get me wrong, they WERE acting like siblings...just not siblings to each other.  There was laughter, respectful teasing (because frankly...our family simply can not NOT tease).  I believe there was an incident with a spray water bottle and more laughter.  My oldest daughter sang throughout it all.   Silly little dittiesAll the while, I was buttering and flouring my bundt pan (how DO you get flour onto the center portion of a bundt pan?), banging the pan the sink to move around the flour.  My point?  It was NOT a quiet, study period.  It was fun, and boisterous, and raucous and STILL they got their homework done.

Then, everyone bolted.  The girls had dance practice for the football game tonight.  My middle daughter then had gun safety.  The boy went to the high school girls varsity volleyball game (dressed in garbage bags...have I mentioned how much I am enjoying him lately?).  They were all home by 9pm when we watched a bit of the Vikings football game before shoo-ing the younger two off to bed.  Without an argument.

The twilight zone...it can usually  go one of two ways:  good or bad.  And occasionally you are surprised when it goes a good way and leaves you with a feeling of utter contentment.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

52 Quarts

100 lbs of tomatoes, 8 cups sugar, half gallon of canola oil, enough garlic to keep the peskiest of vampires away, 8 huge chopped onions, 2 lbs chopped carrots, 4 commercial sized cans of tomato paste and a boatload of italian seasoning, oregano, basil, rosemary, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cooked in two batches for 2 full days each=52 Quarts of spaghetti sauce.

HOPEFULLY it will last through the year.  I won't hold my breath though.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Stuck in the Middle

Twelve....in just 1 hour and 14 minutes, you will be twelve.  And I don't envy you.  Twelve is not a fun age, for you OR for me.  You will find your body changing in ways that will make you SCREAM in frustration,waking up in skin you are POSITIVE is not yours, struggling with keeping the smallest transgressions in perspective and pushing the envelope of parental  restraints...testing your limits.   And as your mother, I should be able to make all that easier on you, some how.  But, I can't.  Sadly, this aspect of growing up you need to handle mostly on your own.  I can give you directions, but I can't DO for you.  The hand holding days of my leading and you following  are coming to a close.

However, I have a confidence in you that I don't have with your siblings.  Because from day one, twelve years ago, you showed me that you have that "joi de vivre" that comes strictly from being you.

You were my easiest delivery but the ugliest aftermath.  You were born at 1142am after only about an hour of hard labor and about 3 hours after the Dr broke my water.  There was some meconium staining which meant my carefully planned birth plan went out the window.  But that was the least of my worries.  Born at 8# 10 oz, you matched your brother in weight, but you...you were born with what your maternal grandmother, who passed just 5 months earlier, had always wanted:  there was no disputing that she WOULD have her red headed grandchild, even if she wasn't hear to see it.  And big fluffy lips that could only have come from your father.  Everything about you was perfect.  When your dad placed you in my arms, I cried.  And I asked that we give you my mom's name as your middle name.  In Gaelic.  You know the story of how Siobhan became your middle name.  I hope you treasure it always.

Then ugly began in earnest...4 hours of post partum bleeding, a mad drive from your Dr across Minneapolis in Friday rush hour traffic, being typed and cross matched, rushed into surgery, transfused.  I was lucky to make it home with my fertility in tact (see younger sister  ).  Recovery wasn't easy, but I was blessed with another good baby so you made it easier that it could have been.

We noted fairly early that you had a mind of your own, that you "marched to the beat of your own drum".  While your brother and sister both took "binkys" you instead chose your fore finger and  middle finger together as your soother (and can I thank you for that...as I was able to enjoy uninterrupted sleep NOT having to crawl around on the floor looking for a lost binky at some ungodly hour in the night).  And you were in heaven if you could also hold onto someone's ear  (while self soothing) where most children preferred a blanket. When you were done using your fingers as a soother(a little later that I would have preferred), you devised your own way of stopping.  And you did...ALL.ON.YOUR.OWN.  I have countless pictures of you with what only could be described as a snarl on your face...as a baby.  It ALWAYS made us laugh.

As a toddler I was hit square in the face with your personality.  I recall remarking to your preschool teachers that you were going to be the child that once you hit adult hood, I would have no worries about because you already knew who and what you were and outside influences wouldn't effect you.  I just wasn't sure which of us would make it through first your toddlerhood, and now your teens.  You with your life (for there have been days I have wanted to throttle you)...or me with my sanity (which is still up for debate).  I hold firm to the belief that you WILL be the most confident of adults, sure in your knowledge that you are exactly what you appear to be.

You will have struggles in your life, stuck in the middle, as you are, of an older sister (and brother) who has(have) set the bar and a younger sister who seems to make it through her life by utilizing the "cute" factor (to the nth degree).  You ARE Jan Brady.  But with a twist.  You do not need nor would you use a giant afro wig in order to set yourself apart from your sisters.  You do that simply by being you.

You also have a group of friends who make me proud.  It shows me that you are capable of not just making good choices in your relationships, but also that when those relationships are tested, whether through distance or personalities, you find ways to resolve them.  A test of a true friend.

On the morning of your twelfth birthday, let me be the first to wish you have the happiest of ones and, no matter what the teen age years hold for you, please, promise me to stay true to who and what you are:  a beautiful confident secure young lady, where the world is yours for the taking.


Happy Birthday Baby!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

cha-CHING!

It has been an expensive day.  

It began with an 820am appt at the dentist with child number 4's cleaning.  Let's just say that no one should have to hear that kind of news before 10am without the benefit of a couple of good stiff drinks.  THEN, I had to go in at 1050 for my appt and I was SKAIRD!  Turns out mine wasn't as bad as the girls' but it wasn't great.  One cavity.  One tooth that is in dire need of a crown (which dentists have been telling me for about 9 years) but the filling IS still in place, two old fillings that need to be replaced...but not IMMEDIATELY.

I think teeth are overrated.  I mean...steak still tastes like steak if you process it and drink it through a straw right?  Been meaning to lose a few pounds anyhow.

Then I toddled off to the farmers market for what I hope is the first of two batches of spaghetti sauce.  That's a job, peeling 50 lbs of tomatoes.   But it's made, now it just has to cook for 2 days before I can it.  The only "drag"  will be the inevitable question of "how much did you pay for the tomatoes?" and positive confirmation that they could have been had elsewhere cheaper.  I also picked up 3 huge bunches of basil to make my last batch of pesto.  We eat alot of pesto here.
Here is the spaghetti sauce:

So, once the sauce was cooking, the husband went and picked up the pick up.
Here is where I try to justify/rationalize/excuse myself for doing what I swore I would never do:  I put a vehicle in my 16 year old's hands.
1.  He worked this summer FOR a car.  To have him work as "physically" as he did then tell him..."sorry, no can do", didn't seem fair.
2.  He goes to a HS where we are within the walking distance boundaries, and I have NO problem with him walking.  However, for 1 of the two miles he needs to walk there are no sidewalks and if he goes the most direct route, he is walking on the shoulder of a 55 mph highway.
3.  This vehicle works towards MY convenience.
And none of this makes me feel better about what we did.  However it's done and I won't second guess myself.  I will say that the boy did NOT get the vehicle he wanted (he contributed 1/3).  He got the one I wanted for him:  a Ford Ranger.  It's small enough that the mileage should be pretty good.  While it is an extended cab, I doubt many teens will be willing to cram themselves into the back of the cab so he has limited the number of distractions (are you catching the rationalization going on here?) in the vehicle with him.  It is 4WD because it IS MN.  And it allows us to use the bed to haul things if we don't want to hook up the trailer to the 'Burb (mulch comes to mind).          I dunno...I think he's come around.  What do you think?
So, while I said we weren't second guessing ourselves, don't be fooled, we are.  Is it ever a good idea to give your kids what you didn't have?  Did I turn out poorly for having had to pay for my first car myself?  Have I destroyed the possibility of building his character by trying to make him happy? 

I guess time will tell.