Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Katie Loves Rambo... and I do too!

Two Christmases ago, John was trying to think of something totally awesome he could give to me 
(his wonderful, sweet, fabulous wife). 

I was at a point where I didn't want more stuff to clutter up the house and I didn't really need anything so, as you can imagine, finding something for me (his wonderful, sweet, fabulous wife) was the teeniest bit tough.

Until... I spotted it.  There, at the end of a long aisle, in a quiet section of the store, was the thing I wanted for most for Christmas...

An official Red Ryder BB rifle!*  I would have bought it too, except John kept telling me I would shoot my eye out.  I was a little huffy for awhile until I saw the thing I wanted almost as bad...


It was awesome... blue and black with a snazzy remote.  I was in love!

John declared that he would not buy me a vacuum cleaner for my Christmas gift was hesitant.  He didn't want to purchase such a gift for me because he thought that I (his wonderful, sweet, fabulous wife) deserved jewels and clothing... and probably a trip to some tropical location, but after much prodding and reassurance (and maybe some threats and a reminder that *this* was actually in our budget) he realized that this was the *perfect* gift for me and he caved.  And I had my Roomba!

We got home and opened the box to charge it up (no, I couldn't wait for Christmas!) and while me and Katie were staring at the new addition to our home, John was reading the manual.  Out loud.  I suppose he wanted me to know how to clean it out or something... but it was so hard for me to focus because I was so giddy over our Roomba that his words were just background noise.

Until he read "The Rambo..." and my attention snapped back to him.  And I think my first thought was "That is SO COOL!  They give them names... like Cabbage Patch dolls have names!"  (Remember those?)  

And then I realized that the Roomba people *probably* don't have the time to name each of the machines they lovingly put together.  At least, probably not enough time to update each of the manuals (but I'm sure they give them pet names while they are making their way through the Roomba factory).

I was right about those Roomba people.  They didn't name my Roomba.  But we did, or rather, JOHN did!

After John called him Rambo, we stuck with it.  Mostly because Katie picked up on it (at 2 years old) and she really thought that was his name.

Now tonight, we pulled Rambo out again (he had been in storage while we repurposed the dining room into Katie's room) and Katie was thrilled!  I put him under the TV and told Katie that when the light was green, we could watch him work.

She immediately laid down in front of Rambo and started watching the light.  I needed to go do laundry downstairs and told her she could come with if she wanted to (because a whole 10 minutes before, she was super excited to accompany me on the trip to the basement and would have been sad if I hadn't included her in the "excitement" that is laundry) but, without looking, she said "That's okay Mommy.  I watchin' Rambo" and as I wiped the tears from my eyes and headed downstairs I heard her say "I love you, Rambo.  I love you so much!"


Oh, but then?  A little later?  Katie was talking to me and she decided that "Rambo" should become "Rainbow".

Rambo finally charged a bit... Katie was watching and told us the instant the light changed to green... so I pulled him out and set him to work.

The kids were funny... Jake kept staring at Rambo and following him slowly while Katie made a game of tapping and running away.  

Here's Jake's first Rambo sighting... notice how he's close to the couch in case he needs to escape to higher ground?

Oh... yeah.  There's a piece of paper on his head.  Katie was giving each of us a "ticket" and Jake must not have wanted to take his.  So she put it on his head.  It was funny when she came around to collect them.  She reached out for Jake's head, he moved away and gave her a funny look.  Silly.  

Jake's showing us where Rambo is:

Here's Jake again, getting a little more daring:

(Oh, and I realize that Katie is missing from these pics. The kid wouldn't stay still so she was running out of every one of the three pictures I took tonight!)

Watching the kids was pretty entertaining AND it helped me to remember one of the reasons we thought Rambo was an awesome Christmas present (even if he is a vacuum) -- kid entertainment!  The battery lasts about an hour and for that hour there are no shouts over who's toy belongs to who, or calls for a sippy refill, or really any need for me or John to step in and mediate between the kids!

So really John bought me an hour of peace for every full battery charge.  This goes down in the history of gifts as the best gift he's every gotten me.  And I'll even let him take half the credit!

*I'm kidding about this.  Really.

Oh, the places we've been... Part 2 (otherwise titled "Yes! We were *that* busy!"

So here it is... Part 2.  Normally I would just put everything into one post and call it a day but that would have been too much, even for me!

So, without further ado!

Wednesday was Katie's first pre-school field trip.  I'll post about that soon (like in the next week... unless something comes up and I get too busy and I normally wouldn't say that because usually?  I hear crickets when I start to talk about our social lives but this week was actually VERY busy and I didn't really get to do much else but keep my head above water in a very fun, splashy, water-up-the-nose kind of way).  So, um, yes.  Soon

In the meantime, here's a picture of the big girl... (oh, something was funny with the camera resolution so it's a little blurry):
Wednesday evening was the city carnival.  We (me, the kids, Grandpa and Grandma, Grammy and Grampy) had fun watching the kids.  The ride tickets were $1 each and I bought 3 for Katie.  Even that was hard.  I'm all about avoiding germs and I could just imagine them all over the surface of EVERY ride.

But I decided *long sigh* that I would let go of the germ thing for the evening.  Because if I hadn't, the kids would have been wearing gloves fashioned out of the wipies in Jake's diaper bag.  I probably could have unravelled a string from my pants hem and used a pine needle to stitch them up. 

But, like I said, I was letting go of the whole, "icky germs can make you sick" theme for the night. 

And I'm glad I did.  The kids loved it.  

Jake wanted to run wildly from one stand to the next and had more than one fall after tripping over the huge cables meander sedately to all of the stands and didn't want anyone to hold his hand.  Katie wanted to go on the rides but when she got close to one, she wanted to back off.  But after her first ride (big bears you can sit in and spin... I went on this with her and it was FUN! I remember the teacups of my youth and these bears were the same ride, only... bears, and not teacups) she was ready to climb aboard the other stuff. 

Now remember how we only had 3 tickets?  Well, because Grandma (yes, you mom!) is a big softie, both kids had enough tickets to ride pretty much all of the rides they wanted to go on. 

Oh, and Grampy shared a bag of hot mini-donuts.  Do I even need to say "Yum"?  Because I think that's pretty much implied when someone says "hot mini-donuts".  My mouth is watering as I type this late in the day.  And I just did the 30 Day Shred workout.  But still.  Yum.
Finally it was time to go home.  The kids did really well on the way out.  No crying because they wanted another ride, no longing glances at the mini-donut stand (um, that one's for me.  Yay me!), and generally just a happy mood.

Oh, on the way out, Katie climbed onto a tall ledge and Jake saw that and of course thought it looked like the funnest thing EVER so he climbed onto a bench and from there, onto the same ledge.  I was trying to keep up with him so he wouldn't plummet the 4 feet to the hard cement ground helping him, so that was fine... except he was walking away from the parking lot and back toward the carnival.  Not good.  He wasn't happy to be "redirected" and ended up getting a little feisty.

Thursday was the city parade.  Grammy and Grampy, Grandma and Grandpa came over for dinner.  We had hot dogs and beans and the most delicious dessert ever.  Rhubarb crunch.  (And I had to wait till AFTER the parade to eat it... but it was worth the wait.)

Walked over to the parade and settled in. 

The kids were great!

I expected that Katie would be fine and have fun watching everything.  And she was... after eating about 10 pieces of candy.  I slowed her down after that because I didn't know what the sugar would do to her!  This is pretty much the only time (aside from Easter and Halloween) that she gets candy in bulk.  Otherwise I store it in the cupboard and end up tossing it when I find it the next year in the same place I was planning to stash the *new* bag of candy.

Jake did pay attention to the bands and the candy and the floats and, well, pretty much everything else about the parade!  But after that first hour, he started loosing interest and started to run around.  We were sitting at the end of a driveway and knew the people.  So the fact that Jake did a lot of running (into their yard, up their front steps, up to them to pet their dog) was kind of okay.  Funny to see my dad running after him.  But you didn't hear that from me.

Oh, a highlight for Jake: He had his first sucker at the parade... he loved it (but that's pretty much a given) and it was very messy.  But it did keep him still for a bit while Grandma held him.

Friday was packing day for a weekend at the lake!

So, yes, a very busy week!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A soil bag garden update... Finally!

They're doing great! I actually have little yellow (my favourite colour!) flowers! Yes, this update is FULL of excited exclamations!

Hopefully the *actual* veggies will come in soon. I want to taste this stuff!
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Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh, the places we've been... Part 1 (otherwise titled "Yes! We were *that* busy!"

Last week was the busiest week EVER.  I think the only weeks that would top this for busyness are the ones in which I have 1) had a baby (did that twice), 2) gotten married (check), and 3) gone on a family vacation with the kiddos to a different state... on a PLANE.  With 2 kids (check.  and check.)

Here's the rundown:

On Monday we (me, kids, grandma and grandpa, and Grammy and Grampy) went to a fun dinner at Texas Roadhouse - they had a kids night so Katie got her face painted, the kids met Andy Armadillo and McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog, ate a free sundae, and we all ate a delicious dinner.  Jake ate tons of bread and chicken AND onion blossom.  I ate tons of bread, steak, and potato.  Katie ate tons of bread and onion blossom.  We were full (understatement... of the year).  And yes, I realize that bread and onion blossoms, while totally delicious, are not a balanced meal, but sometimes I'm just happy they are eating something, and that Jake's staying in his high chair, and that his mouth is too full to start yelling his displeasure about actually having to *stay* in his high chair.

Tuesday was busy for Katie!  I got a call on the way to work, not 10 minutes after dropping Katie off at school and immediately thought something was wrong.  She didn't seem upset when I dropped her off, so of course I assumed that she'd had an accident and needed to go to the hospital or something like that.

But no, the teacher was calling to ask if Katie could go see The Emporors New Clothing!  What a relief.  And of course, I said yes.  This was something they weren't going to take the pre-school kids to because there weren't enough tickets but it ended up working out!  She had fun (not that she talked to me about it much!) and I'm reminded all over again why I'm happy to pay for this each week.  She's grown so much in the last couple of weeks.

Then, on Tuesday, John and I had a *hot date*.  I don't have any pics of that since the area was sterilized and I didn't want to pull out my phone to take pictures.  But I did write about it!

To be continued... Really.  *That* busy.

At the lake...

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At the lake...

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

At this stage in our lives, we consider going *anywhere* without the kids a "hot date"

Sometimes just going to the store can seem like a date.  Reminding you that there once was a time when you didn't have to tag team parent a somewhat demanding sometimes contrary, sweet and wonderful toddler AND a very active 16 month old.

Tonight was one of those times.... but we didn't go to the store.  Oh no!  It was better. 

We went to a place called Feed My Starving Children.  We sat next to each other (with no kids between us... or climbing on us) and held hands during the introduction where we learned that one bag of food containing chicken flavored powder (not actual chicken because the people receiving the food are often vegertarian), dried veggies, soy, and rice cost 19 cents to make.  We learned that one bag of food would feed 6 people.  We learned that the not-chicken powder also contains 20 vitamins to strengthen and replace nutrients needed for starving bodies.


So, that was our date night.  Mom watched the kiddos and we went off to pack food.

It was a little weird not knowing what to expect but it was really well organized and there was music and no children (at least not ours).  We still couldn't talk much because it was pretty noisy, but we did share a few meaningful glances as our eyes met over a scoop of not-chicken powder.  So romantic.

I was in charge of bags.  Not too tough, right?  Except that it was the only job I was hoping not to get while they were explaining the process... I hate trying to open plastic bags... it seems like there's a conspiracy to make them so difficult to open that I get huffy (and I'm not a huffy person but ohhh, bags get me every time) AND I had to open the bag without touching the inside because that would contaminate the bag, and anything already in the bag.  Arg.  It was a recipe for disaster.  And I had to somehow manuver it onto a funnel.  Double arg.

John's super easy job was to scoop the not-chicken powder and the dried veggies into the funnel.  So not hard.

Someone else scooped the soy and rice and then I had to weigh the bag and put it on the rack (it was actually a dish drying rack... smart huh?) for the sealer and then it went on the table till we had a full box to pack.

So really, I had two jobs... Whew!

We were there for about an hour and a half total but packed for about an hour and it really flew by!

After the packing it was clean up time (which I'm totally familiar with as a mommy of kids with lots of toys).  They asked for volunteers for dish-washing duty and as I was mentally tallying all of the dishes used at each of the 8 stations... conclusion: A lot of dishes... *someone* grabbed my hand and raised it high up in the air and sort of volunteered me.  (Thanks *someone* sitting in the easy chair across from me... JOHN.)  I had already decided to volunteer... really.  I mean, dishwater softens hands and sweating while rushing to clean a hundred assorted pieces of kitchenware releases toxins from the skin... right?

So, yes.  I washed dishes.  But it was the funnest time I've ever had washing dishes!  This was like dish-washing all caffeinated up.  Each team brought their dishes to the washroom in the dish-drying rack from our stations (the same one we set bags of food in that were waiting to be sealed) and the worker dumped all of the dishes into the first tub of hot water.  Gave them a few swishes and dumped them into the middle tub of cooler water, then into the third tub of water for a final rinse, then back into the dish-drying rack at the other end of the row.  I was in charge of the middle tub.  It was so quick that if you blinked it was over!  

If you're JOHN, just ignore the previous paragraph and start reading here:

It was so tough... there was lots of scrubbing and my hands were getting sore from all of the wash, wash, washing... someone was standing over us yelling at us to hurry faster... there may have been a whip cracking too... it's just all a blur.  I might need to go lie down.  *sigh*

(Whew.  That was close.)

So, to make a long story short (which, if you know me at all you would know that this does not happen), we both had a great time and plan to go again.  It felt good to get out and do something we had been wanting to do for some time now.

It was an added bonus that we went to dinner at Culvers with the group afterwards.  Yay for frozen custard!

(I can never say custard again without being reminded of the Tele-Tubbies.  Thanks for that, Katie.  You loved that show.  The phrase "tubby custard, tubby custard, tubby custard" will probably pop into my head 20 years from now as a lingering side effect of that show we were forced to watch when you were 3.)

I can bake that cake in... 12 minutes. (Please don't think I'm bragging... but maybe I am, just a little)

This weekend I was stumped.  I had company over, a friend from work and her family, and we were visiting while I got dinner ready when I realized that I did not have any dessert planned.  Ice cream would do in a pinch but we didn't have any.  (We also didn't have any bread or buns which, for hot dogs and burgers just wasn't going to cut it.)  This needed to be rectified.  Immediately.

My grandma would have just pulled out one of her fabulous pies from the freezer.  (She probably would have whipped up a roast and some homemade mashed potatoes and gravy for dinner too.  She's so talented... and now I'm getting hungry. *sigh*)

(Okay, so we did have ice cream but I couldn't serve it because someone likes to eat it out of the carton while standing next to the kitchen sink in the evenings after the kids are in bed and she's finished her workout [Jillian Michaels, you are *not* my friend] and is craving a few spoonfuls of something sweet before hitting the hay. Um, yes.  That would be me.  But we totally don't serve it to guests!  Which meant that John had to go to the store to buy a new carton, which meant that he bought the kind he likes and not the kind I like.  But that's totally okay by me, because I like to scoop out all of the almonds in his Chocolate Almond Fudge... hee hee... and leave him the ice cream. *snicker*) 

Oh, but ice cream all by itself seems so lonely without it's bosom buddy... cake.

So I reached into the pantry for a box of cake mix.  I only had a yellow cake mix, not my favorite and not one I usually buy but I guess I was distracted and did the ol' grab and go to keep the cart moving and the kids entertained.  (It's kind of like a roller coaster ride.  Keep them moving fast enough and they won't complain, cry, attempt to escape, or, most importantly, see any of the stuff we're passing at mach speed.  I also employ the "look over there" trick with Katie because she *does* know what candy is [even though she doesn't get it often] and she likes those toys that the stores put just at toddler-in-a-cart eye level.  This method usually works but makes for an exhausting store run.  Literally.)

Here's a my secret* to a 12 minute cake (15 minutes with prep time) (oh, and you can skip ahead to the next paragraph if you want to avoid the *ahem* somewhat lengthy *ahem* explanation of the same instructions you'll find on the back of the cake box.  I just can't seem to shorten up my internal thought process when explaining stuff... just ask John.  He's had to listen to many a story I've needed to start with an introductory paragraph.  I've told him that he doesn't have to listen, but I *do* have to get it out before getting to my point.  This can sometimes take 5 minutes pre-point.  But you can skip ahead to the next... well, now I guess it's the next next... paragraph because I really need to do some kind of hard return to break this all up.)

So, back to my secret; I mixed up a cake mix just like it says on the box and I dumped it into a bunt pan I sprayed with non-stick spray, then I cut up some cherries and sprinkled them on top (because with a cake this easy, I always feel like I need to add some extra "oomph" like chili powder or chocolate chips in a chocolate cake or just whatever sounds good at the time.  I usually dump a can of frosting on top of the batter once it's in the bunt pan too.  Um, just be careful when you turn it out onto your plate... that frosting will imitate molten lava and spill the warm gooeyness onto the plate, the counters, the floor... pretty much everywhere.  Not that I would know firsthand or anything.),

                            then... I microwaved it on high for 12 minutes.  Yep, you heard right... microwave.

This way, by the time I'm done licking the bowl, cleaning up dishes, and putting away the pots and pans Jake played with during the 3 seconds it took me to mix up the cake, the cake is done.

And it's delicious.

(*Secret unless you know my mom or my grandma, or have been over for dinner when I've made this OR you've got some other genius in your circle of family and friends who's come up with this time-saving trick.  In which case... forget I even mentioned it... since it's obviously not a secret anymore.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Katie LOVES Preschool (Alternately titled "I knew she would be totally fine")

Katie made it through a whole week (well, okay, three days) of preschool!

She loved it.  She loved playing outside in the sand, she loved swimming at the big pool, she loved finger painting, she loved the whole thing!

I'm so proud of her!

She woke up on Tuesday, her first day, with a big stretch and yawn.  Her eyes popped open and she smiled at me and said something about not needing to bring her backpack with toys today because there are toys there... and they might even have dishes to play with.

This is a huge step for her.  She usually brings a backpack full of stuff everywhere we go... and then she never opens it or looks at it till we go home and it *must* sit next to her so she can keep an eye on it.

But on Tuesday she couldn't have cared less!

She was ready to go by 7:30 (arg... way too early for me to be up and now I've got to make sure she's ready too?!) and walked right into class like she belonged there.

I said hello to the teachers and took off, planning to head to the store, then home to await a phone call from school... just in case she did not enjoy class and needed her mommy.  But she didn't (and I didn't tell her I was going home... she thought I was heading to work, like normal) and I was glad!

Oh, I did have to go back in.  I forgot (!!!!) to get a picture of my big girl's first day of school EVER so I had to.  It was good timing because one of the teachers had come out to get the camera to take pictures of the kids in Katie's class.  They said it was for their door decoration, and for emergency purposes.  I don't want to know what that means, but I've got a pretty good idea.

When I walked in, she was sitting next to a little girl wearing a pretty dress.  She didn't say anything... but stood with me for about 5 pictures (my phone and the camera) and it was great!  Then I really left and she went back to whatever it was she was doing.

Oh, she has a little locker and brings her backpack (filled with preschool kid stuff like sunscreen, a hat, change of clothes, and Lambie to cuddle during nap time... which she hasn't participated in once.  Oh, sure, she lays on her cot but she doesn't sleep.  She hasn't napped since she was a year old!) and has a great time.

The kids are usually outside playing when I get there so she plays a bit while I talk to her teacher to see how the day went.

Let's see...

She didn't like the animal cracker snack on Wednesday so they offered her Yogurt to go, which she also snubbed.  So I sent along a sandwich and a light and fit peach yogurt because her teacher said she needed some kind of snack.

She went swimming in a POOL for the first time EVER and loved it!

She walks into class and totally ignores me, but her face lights up when she sees me at the end of the day.

She's a little more feisty when we get home... and not in a good way.

She has a friend there, but can't remember her name.  (This strikes me as very funny when she can recite all of her imaginary friends' names on a dime.)

She doesn't really talk much about the day on our way home, but later that evening, or the next night, she chatters away about what she did.

I think I feel pretty okay with this whole "school thing" now.  I was worried but am feeling better... because I know she loves *me* best!

I signed her up for a dance class, a dog class, and a gardening class.  They start next week (I think... have to check the calendar).  She's said she didn't want to do the gardening class but I signed her up anyway.  If she hates it, at least she'll only need to go 10 times.  And she'll need to learn a lot about it because I'm thinking of expanding my gardening efforts next year and will need the cheap labor for watering and weeding and harvesting.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Sound of Silence... can be bad.

Katie made a blackberry out of legos.

She was just now playing a "video game" on it... it was pretty cute!

Then I heard her say, "Call mommy cell mobile."

And a pause... then...

"Did you say, Call mommy cell mobile?" 

Another pause and then...

"Yes, I said "Call mommy cell mobile."


She's sitting on the carpet in front of the back door playing with a baby phone rattle, her "blackberry" and a block... they are friends and they are going ice skating.

Her conversation is going like this:

Go to my kids!
Got ya.
Hop in this cup.
Whew! Are you okay?
I'm glad you rescued us.  Now what?
I'm going to drop you like this.
Are you glad.. hee hee, whew!
Oh, you're cold?
Yeah, you don't have any boots on.
What!  No mittens?
Come on, lets go in the house and get your baby mittens.

It's been going on like this for about 20 minutes.  She's always fun to listen to when she gets into independent play.

Jake is waking up from his nap.  Once he gets up, the there's a whole new conversation.  This is what I'll probably hear:

Katie:            JAKE, NO!
Jake:            (no sound because he's intent on getting a toy from Katie)
Katie:            Mooooomy, Jake's taking away my stuff!
Katie (again):  JAKE, Stop It!
Jake:             Waaaaaaa!
Katie:            *Screech*
Jake:             WWWWWWAAAAAAAAA!
Katie:            Owie!


        Blessed silence (for about 2 seconds till it registers that, yes, the shove Katie gave him into the couch or onto the floor, or just anywhere *away* from her and her toys, really did hurt... mostly his feelings) then...

Jake:             Waaaaaa!

That repeats at random times throughout the day.  Till Katie goes to her room OR till Jake goes to sleep for the night.

At least I know that she knows how to resolve conflict... she does it all of the time with her baby dolls and her toys.  It's just with her brother that she lets loose.


On a happier note, we had company last night.  A friend from work and her hubby and kids came over for dinner.  We had a great time, Katie and Don played great and Jake didn't hit Marshall over the head with any toys.  In fact, Jake gave him a sweet, gentle hug out of nowhere!

Jakes up from his nap... I hope for the best... or at least that they keep it down a little.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Katie's Birthday Cake

This was Katie's birthday cake.

It's cute, right?

The white icing, the tiny flowers, the pretty springtime piping... the baby on top...


I went to Sam's Club with my mom and Jake to pick out Katie's birthday cake (she couldn't come for some reason... I think it was a church night for her) and I took about 15 pictures of *pictures* of cakes from their book.

And there were a. lot. of. cakes.  There were Dora cakes, Princess cakes, Fairy cakes, flower cakes... a huge variety and it was hard to decide which ones she would like, because I didn't want her to have too many options but wanted to give her enough options so she would feel part of the whole birthday decision process (since I decided on pretty much everything else, especially her cake decree.  I had to put my foot down because *three* cakes would have been excessive!).

So I was ready to sit with her and discuss the options and go with whichever cake she, the Birthday Girl, wanted.  Which I did.  I showed her the pictures and she weeded them out till we ended up with this, her dream cake:

I didn't know why the lady taking the order (on the day before I needed the cake, because I'm a planner like that) asked me if I wanted a baby with a pink diaper, blue diaper, or green diaper.

It made absolutely no sense to me at all... until I pulled up the picture on my phone and zoomed in on the center.  And realized I had included a baby shower cake in with all of the birthday cakes.  And *that's* the cake the Birthday Girl chose.

I think I stuttered a bit before asking if the baby really needed to be added to the cake... or maybe (in a very hopefull voice) they had some 4-year-old plastic kid decorations back there they could use?  They didn't. 

I was a little bummed but decided that it was still a really pretty cake and Katie chose it herself so I placed my order with... (after asking just once more if they had anything that could go in place of the baby.  They didn't) ahem, with my head held high.  Shower, smauwer!

Katie loved her cakes (I'm weak... the kiddos *needed* a cute Dora cake too and I knew we would totally eat it... eventually) and had a great birthday party and that's all I really wanted.

(Well, that and a little left over cake.  It was really yummy!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Soil Bag Garden - Day 17

Drum roll please!

I have successfully NOT killed my two plants! In fact, they are the opposite of dead; they are thriving AND I saw some new stuff growing that doesn't look like a basic leaf. I'm not sure what it is yet... Maybe some googling is in order today to figure it out. (It's a long stringy piece... and it's not a leaf... hmmm.)

This is too exciting!
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Dinner How-To's for Lazy Mommies - Savory "Logs" Revisited

I just tweaked my previous "recipe" for the savory logs.  I guess I'll call them that.  I posted about the exciting experience here, not too long ago.

I wasn't willing to let these go, because I *knew* these could be an excellent dinner option in a pinch so tonight, after our taco dinner (yes, tacos again this Monday night!) I set to it.

I got out my ol' Jiffy mix (I've gone through two of these in the last two weeks... this is kind of a record for me) and whipped that up, then I put it into 12 muffin tins.  I know the package only says you'll get 6-8 muffins out of the box, but I wasn't sure how much those muffins would puff up.  And we've already experienced the savory logs being too "cake-y" so I erred on the less is more philosophy.

Then I added some hamburger meat to the top.

And then I went the extra step.

I added... taco seasoning on top of the hamburger.

I know!  Crazy, right?  Not even simmered in with the meat... just sort of... sprinkled on there because the hamburger was already cooked (did I mention that already?) and there was no way I wanted to re-cook that which I had already cooked just so I could add the taco seasoning.

I'll bet you're wondering why I didn't add it when I cooked the meat.

Well, I kind of forgot.  Both of the kids were acting all crazy and running through the house, the basketball game was on at a decibel high enough to make my ears bleed, and I was trying to load the dishwasher while cooking the hamburger.  Whew.  I'm tired just thinking about it.

Then I added raw onions (I figured the liquid from the onions would land on the taco seasoning and help it dissolve a little) and popped it into the oven following the Jiffy mix directions.

When they looked done, I added lots of shredded cheese and popped them back in for a few minutes.  (I can't remember exactly how long because... again with the crazy kids running around, and this time Grandpa was there working on Katie's new sliding door while I was trying to overload the dishwasher.)

They came out UNburnt (woo hoo!) and looked pretty good.  I called mom to see if she would like a taste test and she came up to check it out.  And she said they were...


Success at last (even though the celebration is on hold till John and the kids try them)!

Oh, and if someone already invented this recipe, please don't tell me.  I'm pretty impressed with my kitchen prowess and that could be a crushing blow to my self esteem.

Just kidding.

I would probably take it very well.  At least in front of the children.  They're so impressionable and so young too.  It would hurt them so to see Mommy upset.


I'm sure I would probably take it very well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Preschool was a HIT!

She wants to go back tomorrow.

Once I heard that, I breathed a sigh of relief. When I got there to pick her up, she was playing in the sandbox and she didn't see me. I watched her play for a bit and when she *finally* saw me her face lit up and she ran over and gave me a huge hug!

She woke up happy this morning too. Her first words were "I don't need to bring my backpack of toys mommy. I don't *need* to bring them because there will be toys there!" and she kept that sweet attitude till we got home.

Tonight she said, "Mommy, you know what they didn't have? They didn't have play-doh. But that's okay.".

Now she wants to type her name on my Blackberry... So without further delay...


(and yes, she typed it all by herself!)
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, June 14, 2010


I want to hurry home,
           lock the doors and windows,
                     shut the curtains,
                              and turn the radio on. 



Katie starts preschool on Tuesday.  And I'm afraid.

I'm afraid that the kids won't be super nice to her.
I'm afraid that she won't make any friends.
I'm afraid that she will hate it there and cry when it's time to go.
I'm afraid that she will love it so much that she doesn't want to go home.
I'm afraid that she will like the teachers she's with for 8 hours a day, three days a week, better than she loves me.
I'm afraid that we won't be able to afford it and I'll have to withdraw her.
I'm afraid that the teachers won't watch her during field trips and she'll wander off.
I'm afraid that she won't be my little girl anymore once she goes to school.

I know she's not going away for months and months, and I know that I'm going to see her for the same amount of time each day, and I know I'm totally her favorite mommy in the whole world... it's just... this is tough.  And it's going to be tough until I we get settled into it.

But for right now, I've got butterflies in my stomach and I kinda feel like I'm going to toss my cookies whenever I start to think about her leaving the nest.  And right now, I'm just whining italicising way too much because I'm feeling a little insecure about leaving behind the familiar and venturing into unknown territory. 

Even though I know that she's going to be fine and she'll fit in great because she's wonderful. 

I'm the one who'll be a mess.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Soil Bag Garden - Day 13

Wow! This planting thing is super easy... I guess using a bag of potting soil, putting a couple of plants into it, and setting it on a table to grow really takes the guesswork out of gardening (can I still call it gardening if I don't *actually* have to touch dirt?).


Anyway, I told John that next year I might want a raised bed garden. IF any of my stuff grows and actually *produces* any veggies that is. Because so far all I've got are some huge leaves and a tangle of stems.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Dinner "How To's" for Lazy Mommies

I'll start off by saying that I'm really not what one could call "domestic" in the kitchen.

Sure, I like to bake.. and by "bake," I mean I've never met a cake mix I didn't like... but when I cook real food, well, it can be hit or miss.

Tuesday night, for example, was a little of both.

A little background:
I made tacos on Monday night while the kids went to the library and the park with Grandma.  The tacos were delicious of course (because I can't mess up when it comes to browning hamburger *and* because John heated up the tortillas.  I've learned that he can't bear to watch me burn his them so he edges me away from the stove so he can take over.)

So, anyway.  Monday night tacos?  Delicious.  Now on to Tuesday night...

Lately I've been seeing a lot of blog posts of meal plans and prepping meals for the freezer, lots of kitcheny-domesticy stuff, and one recipe stuck out.  Breakfast muffins.  Muffins with meat, cheese, and something else that I can't remember.  But I remember that it sounded good. 

Now, you might say "Hey! Why don't you check out the blog you saw the delicious recipe on?!" and I would if I could, but you know what else I can't remember?  The blog name.  Which means I can't find the post.  Which means I don't have a recipe.  Which means I can't make these delicious sounding breakfast muffins.  And they sounded good... and by "good," I mean really yummy.  And I remember thinking that these sounded pretty easy to make... I could totally whip some up, even without the recipe!

Well, I decided to test my theory on Tuesday night.  When I remembered that I had about half a pound of taco meat left.  Normally, we would have eaten tacos until they were coming out of our ears but that night I had an epiphany.  I realized that I shouldn't *not* do something because of my *need* for a recipe to make something delicious!  I could just wing it!

So I did.  I made Savory Muffins (these were going to be muffins till I realized I didn't have any normal muffin tins.  Only the ones that make a big fluffy top.  I didn't know how well that would work when I added other ingredients so I decided to forgo the muffin tins and go with a more... free form approach and ended up with these) Logs.

Savory Logs are made with a box of Jiffy Mix (follow the directions on the box for muffins), some meat, cheese, and onion, raw.  That was all I added for this go-round.

I mixed up the Jiffy mix before noticing my muffin tin dilemma, of course.  That was when I decided that I didn't need those silly muffin tins... I would use one of my favorite tools in my kitchen "arsenal"...

Tin Foil.

I laid a sheet of tin foil on a pan, sprayed it with some non-stick spray, and dumped about 5 spoon fulls of Jiffy onto the tin foil in a log-like shape, pulling up the sides of tin foil when it looked like the log was about to form a river.  It wasn't too pretty, but it stayed there pretty well.  Then I dumped what seemed like a massive amount of hamburger meat onto this log.  Um, not getting any prettier.  Then I added cheese and diced onion and covered it with another layer of Jiffy mix.  Still not too pretty but at least it didn't look as unappetizing anymore.

I made two of these and sprung them on my unsuspecting family.

Bonus: It only took me about 9 minutes to throw everything together and about 20 to bake them (check out the Jiffy box for an official time, unless you make logs and not muffins.)

John thought there was too much "muffin" and not enough meat.  I kind of agreed with John because... he was right, they were a little "muffiney" but I didn't think that was a bad thing.  And the kids loved them!  Katie ate a whole serving (and then some!) and Jake ate almost a whole serving by himself.

I was really surprised because usually they are so picky I get a turned up nose and an "I not hungry, can I be excused" from Katie.  Not that night!  I was really happy it turned out so well and I'm going to make them again, I'll just need to plan ahead and find some muffin tins... and search for that blog... because I *really* want to try those breakfast muffins!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm going to be 34 this weekend... (I guess it should read that I AM 34... since I'm posting a little late)

Sometimes I feel like time is passing me by too quickly.

I like my job. I love my kids.

I go to work, I go home, I take care of my family.  And that's pretty much it.  Me, at thirty-three, soon to be thirty-four.  Just gettin' older by the day.


Sometimes I don't feel like I'm a thirty-something, responsible (more or less) adult. 

Sometimes I feel like a kid.  Waiting for summer to start.  Waiting for the sprinklers to come on in the heat of the afternoon so I can run through the water.  Waiting for the "ahhh..." of the first week of not having to wake up for school.  Waiting to hear the the other kids outside... the sound of the neighborhood "waking up."

Unfortunately, now that I'm old (thirty-four, in case you weren't paying attention the first time) the only thing that appeals to me at this very moment is not having to wake up early for school work.

But when I was a kid, the summers I remember were totally AWESOME.

Playing outside all day until mom called us in for dinner.  Eating around the table as a family... eating as quickly as we could so we could get back out with our friends.  Silly string fights in the kitchen (*ahem* which totally did not happen, no way, not once). 

Pleading to stay out "just a little longer" in the evening, and then trying to kill time when we got permission for 10 more minutes.  Riding our bikes to the library, or Dairy Queen, or just around the neighborhood.  (Way back when I was a kid, I was way more coordinated on two wheels.  Now, not so much!)

Rollerblading with my brother... and him waiting at the bottom of the hill (if you can call it that) at the end of our street to grab my arm as I whizzed by because I wasn't very good at stopping myself with the tiny piece of rubber they call brakes (by the way, thanks for not missing the catch Mike, a fall would have hurt... probably as much as the time I rode my bike into a parked car.  Or that time I fell off of my bike at the bottom of the tiny hill.  Ouch.). 

Basketball in the driveway.  Playing hide-and-seek.  The slip and slide in our back yard.  Parties with cake and ice cream and party group pictures in the living room.  Roller skating in the basement (I had problems with brakes even then... and our washing maching had the dents to proove it).

So much fun...

But now?  Now I think about bills, my kids, pre-school for Katie, bills, how much Jake will miss her when she's gone each day, oh, and did I say bills?

Now I wait for the end of my workday to come, so I can get home to my family. 

Now I wait for the weekends so I can sing the kids the good morning song when they wake up (Katie likes it, Jake isn't always thrilled). 

Now I appreciate that time in the evening when the sun starts to set and everything is hushed except for the sound of kids playing outside (because if I can hear kids playing outside, it means that the kids playing inside aren't screaming.  Or breaking anything.  Or fighting over a toy.  And that's a good thing) and I can cuddled with my sweet kiddos. 

And sometimes sharing "where does she get this stuff" or a "who does Jake think he is? Superman?" looks with John when Katie gives a musical performance using a waterbottle as a guitar... or a violin (huh?) or Jake decides to climb tall tables in a... well, you get the picture, helps us both to appreciate the uniqueness of our kids.

After Katie was born, I think I started to gather the memories that are made in moments.  Moments that sneak up on you.  When you breathe out and everything in the world seems right.

And I try to remember to watch for the little things that will make those memories.  Memories that I can replay when the kids are off on their own, with their families and lives... or when they're 12 and I'm wondering why we didn't give them away when they started to reach "the tween years".

Sometimes it's hard to remember "making memories" when I'm cleaning up milk from the floor, or watching as an open baggie full of cheerios is flung across the living room, or wrestling to keep Jake away from the open dishwasher as I'm trying to fill it.  Yep, sometimes it's tough.

And then I get a grin from one of my kids (a kid with cheerios stuck to their leg).  A hug from Katie that comes out of nowhere.  A slobbery kiss from Jake.  Katie putting her clothes away without being asked.  The kids meeting me at the door when I come home from work and they are so excited to see me that they almost push me over.  Jake's grin as he pulls yet another baking pan out of the cupboard.  Katie's questions that she thinks mommy can answer (thank you Google!).  And everything gets set back to rights.
Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like if I had chosen a different path.

But all I have to do is look around me and I'm reminded of my many reasons to be thankful that I get to be *me* on THIS path.

And how much I appreciate this life I've chosen.

With him...

and with her...
What about you?  What's your favorite summer memory from when you were a kid?

Friday, June 4, 2010

A visit to Urgent Care does not a fun night make. But at least if you're 4, it's entertainment.

I got home from work last night to find Katie in her room diapering her babydoll (who is actually named "Babydoll" which is easy to remember.  And that's nice.  Especially when she's got a piano named Daisy and invisible friends named Honey, Lola, Goga, Zola, Emma, and Daisy) with one of Jake's diapers. 

I don't mind this so much... now that we've talked about the fact that Babydoll is a D-O-L-L, and as a DOLL she does not dirty a diaper in the same way Jake dirties a diaper and so the diapers Katie puts on Babydoll (for two minutes before Babydoll's diaper gets "dirty" and needs to be changed again) do NOT need to be tossed in the trash.  Becaues they aren't DIRTY. 

So, once we got that established, she was given the okay to use Jake's diapers for Babydoll.  Now, when she wants to throw them "away" she rolls them up and tosses them into Jake's diaper holder.  I'll admit that I panicked a little when I saw the tube of A&D next to her on the floor... in her freshly painted room... but she wasn't actually squeezing any out.  *HUGE sigh of relief*

But the baby thermomator (it didn't work anymore so Katie decided it would make a good baby toy), also on the floor next to her, was a little strange to see.  It was stranger still to see her taking Babydoll's temperature.

I admired (?) her creativity until I heard Jake wake up from his nap.  Usually he plays in his crib for a bit before needing attention, but he woke up crying.  I went to get him and he was really warm so I took his temp (under his arm... and yes, I know that under the arm temps aren't as accurate, but I also know that he isn't going to keep a thermometor in his mouth long enough for a reading... and the other temperature taking method is just too... icky) and it was 102.6!

We decided it would be a great night to go to urgent care.  When Katie heard that a doctor visit was planned, she asked me if she could come too.  And she was very excited.  Now, this is the same kid who insists she's not sick, when it's obvious she is, just to avoid the doctor.  But she loves to come along when someone else is going to be subjected to the process.

Grandma came with us (Jake likes her more than me anyway) and off we went.  I was so relieved to find that we were the only ones there!  Last time I was there with him we were waiting for an hour and it was... difficult.  Especially since Jake has learned that he's big enough to be "seen" by the sliding doors.

It was a quick visit.  The usual crying, the usual 20 questions, the usual... strep test?!  Yes, they did a strep test (Jake seemed to recover from his way faster than Katie did.  I think she's still mad) and it came back negative.  Which was good but now the doctor thinks he has a viral infection and of course there's no treatment for it.  Arg.

We stopped by the restroom on the way out and I went in with Katie.  She did her business and washed her hands and looked around for the paper towels.  When I showed her the air blowing thing (I hate those) she looked at me and grimaced.  I knew it was futile to push her to use it, and Jake was crying in the lobby, so I told her to *gasp* "Wipe your hands on your pants."  She paused for a second... then reached out and wiped her hands on MY pants.  And I let her.  Partly because I was a little surprised, but mostly because at that point in the evening, with snot on my shirt and my hair falling out of my ponytail, I realized that I just didn't care.

We ended up going to eat and then going to Target (yay!).  Then home, where Jake went to sleep AFTER I laid him in his crib.  This is a big thing for us... we didn't sleep train our kids very well (at all) so we usually cuddle them to sleep.  I'm trying to get Katie to stay in her bed and go to sleep as calmly as Jake has done these last couple of nights but, no such luck. Again last night she carried on about me making her stay in her bed.  At least she stayed in her bed last night.  The night before she kept popping out of it.  I was very surprised when she fell asleep without getting up (she only cried for what seemed like for.ever and she only woke up once at about 5 a.m... when she fell out of her bed).  *sigh*  A suitable ending to our night.