Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Let's go "Boo-ing", storm clouds & threshold training . . .

Though I truly despise Halloween, here's one part of the surrounding festivities that I do like . . . Boo-ing.

Our neighborhood does this and it spreads like a virus in the week or so before Halloween.  Here's how it works:

The doorbell rings.  When you go to answer it, you've been ding-dong-doorbell-ditched.  On the porch is something that looks like this:

This is called a "Boo-bucket" and it's filled with yummy Halloween things.  This is one that we made, not received.  It has Halloween paper plates & napkins, peeps, a few random candies, hot chocolate, a few toys & well wishes.  There's a piece of paper rolled in the bucket, too.  When you receive the bucket, you cut that piece of paper in half, put one part up on your door, and make two more buckets.  Then you go "boo" two other neighbors.  So, one half is the "we've been boo-ed" portion, the other is instructions for making & delivering two new boo-buckets, all wrapped in a cute poem.

Here's our front door right now.  This lets other prospective boo-ers know that you've already been boo-ed, so spread the love somewhere else!!

The kids LOVE to go boo-ing.  It's really fun and a great way to involve the folks in the neighborhood in a safe community holiday.

On a side note, when I took these pictures, the storm that dumped 6 inches on us was just rolling in.  Look:

Also, look at the Dog Whisperer in me swell with pride.  I stepped out in the front to snap pictures of storm clouds and all my hard work with threshold training the four-legged beasts paid off.  The door was wide open AND a lady with a dog went by on the sidewalk.  Look, they stayed put:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Four to Seven Inches . . .

I'm talking about snowfall, here, folks.

Here's what we've got this afternoon . . .

That's 5 1/2 inches, folks. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Make this. You won't be sorry.

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana 

Hmm.  Well, I pulled the actual recipe out and I've apparently made some changes for my family's palate & volume.  We like this leftover, so here you go.  This version serves 6-8 easily.

* 1 lb ground Italian sausage (*spicy if your family can handle it)
* 1 tsp crushed red pepper (*add or subtract for your taste)
* 1 large diced white onion (* about 1/2 for my family)
* 4 tbsp crumbled bacon pieces (* we like more, I use about 6 slices)
* 2 tsp garlic puree, or minced garlic
* 10 cups of water PLUS 5 cubes of chicken bouillon (or it's equivalent in liquid stock or organic stock)
* 1 cup of heavy cream
* 1 pound of thinly sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large taters, skin on
* 1/4 of a bunch of kale

In a large stock pot, sauté the Italian sausage & red pepper.  Drain excess fat & set aside while you prepare the rest.

In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions & garlic for 10-15 minutes or until the onions are soft & clear.

Mix together the chicken bouillon & water.  Add it to the onions, bacon & garlic.  Cook until boiling.

Add potatoes & cook until soft.  About half an hour.

Add the heavy cream & cook until thoroughly heated.

Stir in sausage.

Add kale just before serving.  Delicious!!  Salad & breadsticks are the perfect company!!

Easiest Week of Meals EVER . . .

Sunday . . . Old Chicago, birthday dinner for MOTH
Monday . . . Fend for yourself night.
Tuesday . . . Soup.  I think it's gonna be potato or zuppa toscana, my favorite knock-off recipe EVER.
Wednesday . . . BFD, that's breakfast for dinner.  Pancakes, eggs, turkey bacon.
Thursday . . . fundraiser night at McDonalds.  McTeacher Night.  Yes, we're eating shit for dinner.
Friday . . . Team dinner for Middle.
Saturday . . . Post meet dinner.  We'll be gone, so will have to find a family friendly joint.

And THAT, my friends, is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

On a side note, with October nearing the end and my "I'm not grocery shopping" theory pattering through my head, I took stock of things one more time last week and decided I could not make it the rest of the month.  Unless, of course, creamed black olives on cinnamon raisin bagels sounds delicious to you.  Barf.

So . . . I spent five hours on Thursday doing groceries.  Major groceries at both Super T and Costco.  It was the only grocery run I've taken this month . . . so I'm okay with it, even though getting it all put away is it's own sort of hell.  The point of this endless ramble is . . . . I used coupons!!  I'm no where near extreme coupon level, but I was pretty stoked to save $6.75 at Super T and $38 at Costco.  Go me.  Buying in bulk is kind of painful . . . worth it . . but painful.  I have enough noodles to feed an army now, so at least I won't need to break (ha!) the grocery budget for the next six months buying noodles.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Christmas List . . .

Homestead said start with a list.  So, here's draft one.  I usually work in spreadsheets.  It's just how my mind works . . . . but lists will do the trick.  Here we go . . .

1.  MOTH
2.  Big
3.  Middle
4.  Little
5.  Mimi

I wish I could just stop there.

6.  My mom
7.  My dad

I'm simultaneously comparing my list to Homesteads.  I have far less family.  I'm trying not to leave anyone out, so know that our marital agreement is this:  where gift-giving is concerned, you take care of your parents & I'll take care of mine.

8.  Moose
9.  Tana
10.  Jaz

11.  MOTH's sister
12.  My brother
13.  His wife
14.  Their daughter.  ** although in years past, we've made a no-gifts for grown ups, gift cards please for the youngsters, so I'm hoping this will continue.**

15.  Teachers . . . . I do lots of these, because they are my friends (not doing middle school this year, though) . . . so,

a.  4th grade teacher
b.  2nd grade teacher
c.  specials teachers x 4 (technology, PE, music, art)
d.  ladies in the office x 3 (because, that's why)
e.  past 1st grade teacher that I love
f.  past kindergarten teacher that I love
g.  something small for the principal & assistant principal

and a few family friends . . . .
I think I have three or four families  . . . or maybe five or six . . .  the good friends of the kids' who have grown to be family friends . . . . people MOTH works with, or families I work with . . .

Question:  What do you think about Poinsettias or holiday greenery as a gift?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday . . .

Here's what you do when you arrive to a gymnastics meet a full hour early.  MOTH is my time compass.  He's the guy that spends half the day in an airport, just to make sure he makes that two hour window.  I'm not so much like that.  This Saturday, he was gently guiding us out the door with three hours to drive an estimated travel time of 84 minutes.  Since the car was packed and everything set for departure, we left . . . .

And we were early.

Parking was terrible.  I wedged my family truckster into compact parking.  Oh well.  It beat parking on the street.  Fo' sho.  And then we played in the leaves.

And I snapped this very fabulous shot of my big girls.  The wee-ones, incidentally, stayed home from this meet.  Veteran parents warned us that this host gym was postage stamp small, and with long gymnastics weekends on our horizon, I opted to divide and conquer this weekend.  Plus, MOTH was on call, so he stayed back, too.  With one of my besties "on-call" for childcare, while he was "on-call" for the hospitals, we plowed through Saturday.

The vets were right.  Itty, bitty, teenie, weeney gym.  Holy cow.

Brag, brag.  The lighting in gyms sucks.  And no flash photography throws an enormous monkey wrench into trying to snap a few good shots.  Ugh.  But, I did get this one . . .

Judging was really frustrating this weekend.  I'm okay with hard judging.  I'm okay with nit-picking and deductions for the little things . . . as long as it's consistent.   But, when girls are judged inconsistently, it's tough to be respectful and quiet.  I know it's not about scores.  The girls don't even get to LOOK at their scores, so it's just a parental hurdle . . . . still  . . . judging this weekend was tough.  Especially, er, um, seemed unfair on beam and vault.  Well, at least only two events instead of all four.  Insert silver lining here.

Still, Middle emerged as the JUNIOR BARS CHAMPION!!  Go her!!!  I'd love to post the picture of her score, but her REAL name is on it, so I'll exhibit some control, and just tell you . . .

SHE GOT A 9.85!!!! 


She also came home with three other  medals, one for each event, plus a fourth place medal for all-around.  Again . . . so proud!! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Holiday Budget . . . .

What is it?  How much?  Do you do it per kid or in general?  What's your rule or tradition on holidays?   And, what are your other major expenses?  Who is on your gift list?  

Around here, it's been something like this:

Each kid writes a letter to Santa.  We try really hard to deliver the top wish.  We're always striving to really wow them with something.  We love surprises.  Santa delivers no more than three gifts per child.  Three wise men . . three gifts.  Plus, let's be real.  Then, each kid usually wraps something for each sibling.  Sometimes it's homemade, sometimes it comes out of my budget, but it's always thoughtful and always worth it.  I really love seeing the kids connect on the "oooh, she would really like that" level.  I like to see them understand the giving portion.  MOTH and I gift for every kid, too.  There's usually something from just the two of us.  Traditionally, for the girls, it's jewelry.  I happen to think that jewelry is kind-of an intimate gift and it feels funny to receive something that intimate from someone who is not REALLY close to you.  That's not a rule . . . it wouldn't keep me from giving the perfect pair of earrings to, say, my sister in law (CB, you're just my example . . . I really don't have earrings for you . . . are your ears even pierced??) , IF I had them.  But I don't.  Because, like I said  . . jewelry is an intimate gift.  I don't know what's in her bling box.  I don't know if she likes gold or silver, beads or bobbles, dangly or not.  See, intimate.    Intimate, also, is underwear.   I think buying underwear for my kids is my job, but falls outside of anyone else's job.  It's kind of creepy to get underwear from anyone but your mom.  And it stops being cute right about the time kids are old enough to wash their own drawers.  Not that I'm against purchasing a thong or two . . . . but if you're old enough to wear fanny floss, you're also old enough to wash it on your own AND buy it yourself.    Toys are the great gift.  Usually.  And gift cards.  Those are the best.  But, I can't, as the mommy and fat man in the red suit, just pile a bunch of iTunes cards under the tree.  Although, I do think that's a damn good idea.

Complicating my Christmas budget this year, like every year, are the stinkin' December birthday bunch.   Mimi's big number FOUR is coming.  For a four-year old, a little bit of moo-lah spreads pretty far.  BUT, the birthday wow factor for Middle, born just 5 days before Christmas is much harder.  And Little, hmm.  Well, I've blogged about that ad nosium . . . so just suffice it to say that his Christmas birthday is a gift-giving challenge.

Here are my gut-thoughts so far . . . .

Big . . . I'm thinking a camera would be pretty stinkin' cool.  She has a dinky little one, but she really liked digital photography and I think a decent camera would be the WOW gift.  She's a gift card girl, and is ready for creative cash flow . . . . I think I'll fill a box with walnuts this year, but crack each one open and put dollar bills inside.  Or more.  Not sure.  I just know it's fun.

Middle . . . She's ready for a kindle.  That's the biggie.  She reads on mine all the time and borrows Big's with enough frequency that she could definitely use her own.

Little . . . . Legos.  He's still in lego-mode and will appreciate and enjoy one of the bigger sets.  They're pricey as heck, but I've been collecting VIP points all year.

Mimi . . .  Shoot, not a clue!!   She's got toys coming out the wazoo and needs NOTHING.  Not only does she need nothing, she doesn't WANT anything.  She and Big have this in common . . . . you ask them what they want and they both smile sweetly and say something adorable like, "I want to snuggle you, Mommy."

Here's what I want to get them, collectively.  They would LOVE it.  Love, love, love it.

So, back to the question . . . what's your holiday budget?  Per kid or for the whole lot?

A Halloween Tradition at Our House: Witch Hat Cookies


Step One.

Step Two and a half.  You have to unwrap the kisses first :) 

The finished product. 

The table of delights . . . with some creative frosting fun.

Happy Kid #1.

Happy kid #2.

Happy Kid #3, with thoughtful look, while licking frosting handlebar mustache. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Choose to surround yourself with those who lift you up. Those who inspire you to do and to be better. Those who do them, but let them go. Life is too short to settle." ~ Angie Keaty

Looking for a spot to fit in . . . .

Bummer, ain't it . . . .

Lookin' for a spot to fit in . . . .

My little guy came up the hill, walking home from school yesterday with a sad look on his face, his arms hanging by his side & tears welling up in his eyes.   I asked him what was wrong and he took shelter in the crook of his sisters' arm.  Sweet, I thought.

He's got himself in this funny social situation.  He really, really, really wants to be friends with these two boys who are popular and athletic and seem to have it going on.  The thing is, it's pretty apparent that (1) they aren't too interested in being his buddy and (2) one of them, at least, is not the nicest boy, so MOTH and I have some hesitation about encouraging things.     This awkward little situation has been going on since the boys were in kindergarten.  They spent some social time together, both in school and in extracurricular sports situations, so it isn't new.  Same old song.  He's on the outside looking in and wanting something that he'll likely not have.

And my heart is bleeding and aching for him.  It's a rough parenting situation.  The mama bear wants to step in and say, "Dude, smarten up, they don't want to be your friend.  They're mean to you.  You shouldn't want this.  You shouldn't crave this.  Just walk away.  In fact, man up, don't be THEIR friend."  But the logical mama that wants to teach some life skills and capture a teachable moment knows I won't accomplish jack-shit by telling him who he can buddy up with.    You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.   He's gonna have to learn this on his own, darn-it.

I reckon I'll continue to pray for grace, for the both of us, and pray that he sees the light before these fellas get bigger, bolder and any more devious.  Grace and insight.  Grace and insight.  And support.  That's what I need right now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

For Homestead . . .

Here you go . . . .
I told you . . .
I wasn't kidding . . .

This is today . . .

xoxo & I miss you tons!!

More on Coupons . . .

Call it a science fair project.  Or maybe just satisfying my curiosity.  I asked my neighbor for the coupons from Sunday.  She says she always throws them out.  Curious.  I was led to believe that was the ONLY reason to get a Sunday paper.

On a sidenote, we don't get newspapers.  Newspapers are on of the things my dad hoarded.  My memories of newspapers aren't really all that pleasant.  There were five-foot teetering stacks of newspapers all around my childhood house.  They made my mom absolutely bonkers.  I think I knew how to put a coin in the slot and respond to, "honey, get me the post" before I could really form a full sentence.    So, no, we don't get the newspaper.

I combed through the coupon section last night looking for things I'd normally use.  Finesse shampoo or some combination of hair products.  Except you have to buy 2 to use the coupon, and (according to and, buying shampoo in bulk with no coupon at Costco is significantly cheaper than using a coupon from the Sunday paper at Walmart.  Hmmm.  Also found a coupon for   Tyson anytizers.  Gag.   Arm & Hammer laundry detergent.  Don't use that.  Cat little.  We don't have a cat.  Dog treats.  Those give my dogs diarrhea.  I'm striking out.   Frozen pizzas.  We don't partake.  When we have pizza, it's GOOD pizza, delivered hot and fresh from a pimple faced teenie bopper.  There's nothing appealing to me about a frozen pizza.   More coupons.  Ocuvite.  I've no use for that.  Prevacid.  No use for that, thank God.  Then a bunch of random crap that's not really even a coupon:  proactive, checks, a roll of labels, 24 hours of gel soothing comfort inside a slipper that looks like it was engineered for the elderly.    Oh, and the true value . . . some sort of space heater that is cleverly disguised in a wooden cabinet.  For the low, low price of only $279.

Seriously?  People actually PAY for a newspaper?? Just to get the coupons!!!  Actually, let me correct that . . . . people pay for SEVERAL newspapers in order to leaf through this terrible advertisements.  I'm not sure I could save enough in coupons to even pay for the newspaper.  IF I actually remember to take the coupons with me AND I remember to hand them to the cashier, I may have saved $1.45.   Except I didn't save on shampoo and I had to buy the paper, which is . . . I don't even know.  $1.50 per week, but go back and read paragraph two.  I'm kind of afraid of newspapers.  I'd rather pay more and save less than have newspapers in my house.  I hate everything about newspapers . . . from the crinkly sound they make to the way your fingers get ink stains on the pads after you've been reading.  

Funny, huh?  The thing that holds me back from being an effective money-saving coupon-user is my childhood memories of a newspaper-hoarding-dad.   That's funny to me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

This week's menu . . .

I'm totally on a roll with this.  I'm capturing some thoughts on extreme couponing, too . . . 

Sunday . . . . Calzones.  The kids love to make them.  It's easy.  Planning at least four extras so that the girls have two lunches done. 
Monday . . . . Taco Stuff.  I know, kind of random, but taco stuff is a hit in my house.  And it's such a productive way to clean the cabinets!  Here's the plan.  I put out ALL (yes, all) of the mexican related stuff in the pantry and let them make it . . . . there's generally enough for tacos, taco salad, nachos.  Whatever you like.  Believe it or not, currently in my cabinet for this endeavor is:  a jar of queso, plenty of salsa, cheese, last week's leftover chicken, which I'll shred today, a wee-bit of left over steak from kabobs last week, which I'll prep before they get home, sour cream, lettuce, black olives & tortillas.  So, for the price of one halloween-themed bag of orange & black chips, I've got dinner.  There should be enough leftover to do salads for the girls' cold lunches. 
Tuesday . . . Chicken Rigatoni.  MOTH will be gone, so chicken is on the menu.  I'm not a fan of this dinner, but the kids eat it right up, so I'll do a big salad alongside. 
Wednesday . . . Chicken broth with noodles & carrots.  Here's the truth.  My kids like chicken noodle soup.  Without the chicken.  So there you have it.  Chicken broth with noodles & carrots.  
Thursday . . . . is MOTH's birthday, but Middle has gymnastics late.  He picked spaghetti.  
Friday . . . . birthday dinner.  We're going out. 
Saturday . . . we have a gymnastics meet, so dinner will be some sort of team thing.  
Sunday . . . . I'm crock-potting something delicious, that's all I really know. 

Extras:  I'm making pumpkin pie this week because Middle's been begging.  I'm also doing a pumpkin bread.  I'll do some muffins & some bread.  That will be easy breakfast plus snacks and I'll freeze a loaf or two.  One for pumpkin day in 4th grade.  I volunteered to bring a pumpkin food.  And I'll give one away.  It's good karma.   Pumpkin bread is one of my favorite recipes.  I'll post it later. 

And on extreme couponing.  Or maybe just couponing in general.  Do you?  I have a bag of coupons, but quite honestly, for groceries, I'm exhausted at the thought.  I watched an episode of the TV show, though, and I was amazed.  However, this lingering feeling comes over me.  Here it is:  there's this coupon mentality, right?  It's a conspiracy.  For example, you get a coupon in the mail for 20% off of something.  Anything.  And you don't really need anything.  You're not seeking anything.  But you go there and spend money, in order to save your 20% and use the coupon.  Conspiracy.  You still just spend 80%.  On something you didn't need.  

So . . . . 

If I could resolve to be a smart coupon-er, I'd fall for it.  On the show, some of those ladies bought up 100 boxes of pasta.  Wha??  I don't have the space for that!! And what if the house went up in flames!! Having a food store like that just would give me another thing to stress about.  The potential loss.  I've got enough to worry about with just important documents, kids, animals & photos.  Anyone have any pearls of wisdom?? 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just when you think there's nuthin' pretty in the yard . . .

Curious.  Four or five years ago, I found this mangled stump of a tree that had been severely damaged in a hail storm.  The manager at Lowe's gave it to me.  I planted it and loved it and a couple of years later, it died.  I dug it up, used the branches for firewood & the trunk for a fort.  Curious, now, it's coming up again from the roots. 

Autumn joy sedum in full bloom.

I love the purple edges on these guys. 

Mums:  I see purple ones and I like those best.  I see orange ones, and I like those best.  I see yellow ones and I like those best.  I guess I love them all. 

I guess the marigolds liked the snow last week.

This bed got squashed under snow last week, but it's perking up again . . . 

Late bloomer . . . How confused is this guy? 

This spring, I couldn't imagine it ever being green again . . . . 

So fun . . .

It's SO fun to watch her!  She's a great setter and she can hit and she can serve.  It's so fun!!  I can't wait for tournaments!  More than that, I'm so glad that she loves this sport and that she's got good coaches & a team full of friends :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011


That's all.  Just a simple, exhausted, almost more of a sigh than a word, yeah.  As in, go me.

Fundraiser pick-up was today.  It arrived on four pallets with no organization at all.  Damn that company anyway.  We picked, sorted by grade, alphabetized & almost all the boxes got picked up between 2 and 5:30.  There are only a half dozen or so perishable boxes.  The rest of the dry goods have been labeled & delivered to classrooms.  I'm so, so, so glad it's coming to a close.  Sheesh.  Exhausting, it is.

So, yeah, me.  Way to go.  Way to finish up.  Hooray.

Today marks the end of the first quarter of school, too.  Conferences are scheduled.  The kids probably did a great job.  Big's been tracking her grades on the computer.  She's thanking God that keyboarding is over. Of all the classes, I never would have predicted an elective like keyboarding to be the catalyst for so much worry & tears.  Lordy, I'm glad to be finished with that.   First quarter is for getting your feet wet and learning the rules.  Whew.  Seems like all's well.  Big's in a good place.  Middle's in a good place.  A much better place with the decision of last week completed and now in action.  Whew.  Little's in a good place.  He has a really, awesome teacher & I'm so glad.  He's only been in a touch of trouble once this quarter, and it was of his own doing.  Still, when he comes home with a long face and says, "Mom, I did something at school today," my heart sinks.  Flashbacks to the "I showed my wiener to some guys on the playground incident."  Ee-gads.  So when he reported that he stood on a chair  . . . no big deal, man.  I just said, well, did you get down or did you fall down?   I'm just glad he was zipped.  Mimi's in a good place.  She made a friend and they are socializing and playing.  Whew.  She's not fussing about her uniform, as long as she gets awesome, fabulous, colorful hair doggers & panties.  It's the little things, indeed.

I'm in a good place.  My brother and I have made the agonizing decision over DC.  We'll be staying home. And relief is washing over me.  It's taken a few days to really sink in and some finality to settle.  New decisions that are long debated don't seem real for a few days, right?  It's as if any party reserves the right to change their mind with no notice for at least 72 hours post-decision.  So, we're not going.  Dad's health state is certainly of major concern.  The length and logistics of the trip is another.  The cost, too, is not to be overlooked.  So, I repeat, as if it's still sinking in  . . . we are not going.     I've been productive and efficient of late.  I've been supportive when I needed to be and been a bit tenacious when the situation called.  I've been spending time with myself, and that's a good thing.  I might have minor-ly invited some bad juju with my I'm a Runner post.  Shortly after I clicked publish, my hip started aching, followed by my back.  I kinda hobbled around for a day or two but as I progressively became more bitchy, I made this decision:  If I'm gonna live with pain, I want it to be because I deserve it.  So, I'm going for a run.  I'm doing squats.  I'm taking the ski training class and I'm gonna be sore as hell.  If I'm gonna have pain, I'll get the pain from earning it and living . . . not from just picking up socks and fretting over the what-ifs.   And that morning, I made it 4 miles . . .

I have quite a bit of blogger catch up to do.  But not now.   Middle just walked in the door and we have some conversation to exchange . . . .

My most awesome friend Carrie just reminded me of this:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Meal Plan . . .

This week's meal plan, in keeping with October's goal of cleaning out as much as possible from the fridge, freezer & pantry:

Monday:  Cheese ravioli, red sauce, white sauce, salad & french bread
Tuesday:  Miss Melissa's famous baked fried chicken, broccoli, mac & cheese
Wednesday:  Steak kabobs, some sort of potato, salad
Thursday:  Breakfast for dinner . . . eggs, turkey bacon & maybe pancakes
Friday:  Big's post-season team dinner @ Cici's
Saturday:  Prosciutto wrapped shrimp, rice, salad

The grocery list: french bread, a package of chicken, sugar free syrup.  That's it.  Everything else is a forgotten treasure from the depths of food storage.  In all the cleaning, I also found, cooked & prepped all kinds of lunch sack favorites to ward off the brown bag blues this week.  There's a container of snack bags with:  roast beef rolls, turkey rolls, edamame, celery sticks, pretzel sticks, pickles, pineapple & applesauce.  Only four days of school this week, so those are good pickin's for everyone except Little, who is just a finicky eater.  I'll pack him cereal when I'm in a bind . . .

Anyone willing to share a few recipes?  The internet is just too much information sometimes.  I want something tried and true.  Fail-proof.  A family favorite.  I'll share.  Homestead, gimme one.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Is it really only Tuesday? An extra long post for an extra long day.

Crud-amuck.  Where to start?

Here's a good spot.  Middle and Little have been campaigning to ride their bikes to school for some time now.  I've not been in love with the idea, but have gently started "training" them.  I bought them  bike locks.  We've talked about traffic and the route and helmets and crosswalks.  Last night, we did a dry run, in preparation for today's bike to school debut.  

Yes, I told them they could ride to school today.  The plan was for me or MOTH to go along with them on the first day . . . just in case of emergency.  HOWEVER, as plans so often morph at the last minute living with a man who has the job that MOTH has, he got called in to work for a 0700 surgery this morning.  And . . . that left me with the morning shuffle.  Not too unfamiliar to me, EXCEPT that Big and her Bestie needed to be at school an hour early this morning for a yearbook meeting.  (Read:  "You what?  You said you'd do WHAT every Tuesday at 7:30??)   So, I counseled and made a deal.  That saying about 'giving them wings' or something equally as inspirational, but still scary as hell kept running through my mind.  So I sent them with the e-phone and instructions to CALL me when they got there.  Before school actually started, but just to let me know that they had arrived.  And all was well.

7:55 came and went.  They should be calling.  I reasoned that they ran a few minutes late, had to wait for the cross guards, had trouble with their locks or something equally reasonable.

8:00 came and went.  The bell had rung.  I broke out in a clammy sweat.  I could hear my heartbeat in my ears and I'm certain my pulse was up in fat-burning zone.  Or maybe beyond.

8:05.  I reasoned with myself.  I heard no sirens.  The school will call if something is wrong.

Sure.  And then I started thinking about Jaycee Dugard.  And the innocent cute faces of both of my middle kids, their wrists bound and duct tape across their mouths.  I was sure they'd been abducted.  I pictured Little's bike mangled in the road, it's bright yellow paint scuffed and the frame twisted beyond repair.  I thought of the emptiness that comes when just one kid is missing, gone on a sleepover.  How it feels as if the whole woodwind section is missing from an orchestra . . . when just one tiny voice is gone.  And, in  my mind, I multiplied that times infinity.  

And in the next 30 seconds, I was driving to school.  Their bikes were at the rack, secured just like we practiced.  I walked past their homerooms.  They were both seated and listening like angels.  Thank God.

Concurrently, or at least in the same hour, Big came into the kitchen.  Her normally cheery disposition was mopey and dull.  She had a hoodie pulled up over her head like the uni-bomber.  Her eyes looked wet.  I asked, "are you gonna cry?"   This is Big's authentic answer when the REAL answer is a resounding YES.  She said, "Maybe."  And I knew we were going downhill.  Dang, I hate cryin' in the morning.  Seriously.   Though glassy eyes and big elephant tears that were collecting in her long dark lashes, she confessed, "I really need new underwear."

I'm sure you can envision my eyebrow rising and the "huh?" sliding across my face.

See . . . . emotional.  Moody.  Self-absorbed.  But in such a sweet way, it's impossible to get upset.  Who really gets upset at a girl about their under-drawers?   I hugged her and wiped her tears and promised to continue our nation-wide search for cotton boyshorts with NO SEAMS and NO TAGS.  Seriously . . . do they not exist??   I challenge you all.  Send me some links.

By 8:15, I was home again, still in my jammies, heartrate coming down into normal range, had three kids plus one friend delivered to their respective schools.  Mimi and I started in.  Laundry.  Playing babies.   We sorted and tried to get a grip on the house, which in the last 9 weeks has spiraled right out of control. Two weeks of menu planning.  Done.  Because October at our house is officially, Clean Out The Fridge, Freezer and Pantry Month.  I'll post it later.   Socks.  I took inventory.  None of my kids need socks.  Crap.  What will I buy them for Christmas?  This is usually when I do those 'not-really-a-gift-but-definately-a-gift-because-SEE-how-pretty-I-wrapped-it' gifts.  You all know what I'm talking about.

I spent some time in the bathroom, too.  Tidying the closet, organizing the travel bathroom thingies.  What the hell ARE those called?  Doing another load of laundry.  Putting soccer stuff away.  Matching orphan socks.  Random stuff.  Mom stuff.  Household manager stuff.

And then I took Mimi to gymnastics. She's on a pig-tail kick right now.  And one dogger must be blue, the other pink.   She's also on a baby kick.  It's such a sweet irony, that she's in this advanced class, for "big kids".  She looks up at me as her teacher calls her group into the big gym and says, honestly, truly . . . "Mama, will you babysit?"

After gymnastics, we lunched.  Well, she lunched.  I ate a protein bar and then started marinading the protein portions for my fabulous week of meals.    Then, we went outside.  It's been too long since I played outside with Mimi.  We dug some holes.  Played hide and seek.  She rode her bike while I pulled weeds and found peace in the garden.

Then we played a game on the trampoline . . . something like bombard-amen.  We played with ALL the balls we could find in our yard.

Then we went digging in the yard.  I pulled a whole flower bed full of bind-weed and some sunflower stalks and thistle that were waist high to me.  (Yea, I know, that's not saying much . . . but it's a tall weed. Suffice it to say that's a tall weed.)   Mimi found a couple of worms and she played with them.  For a long time.  She named them Wormka and Hank.  Hank is Wormka's mother.  And she played with them until this sentence came out.  "Mom, Wormka isn't moving very much."  And then we had a funeral.  And made a headstone.  And had a wake . . a genuine celebration of life.  With snacks.  And we talked about Worm-Heaven.  Mimi has an itsy-teeny obsession with death right now.  More on that later, bless her morbid little heart.   Photo immediately following the discovery that rigor-mortis has set in:   that's sad.

Life has slowed down in the last couple of hours.  I have dinner in the oven, Middle off to the gym, MOTH out the door for another fun-filled night of bingo.  I hope he has a good time with the crazy, toothless ladies wearing only bras.  Whatever.  I'm a secure woman.  Plus, he says going to bingo is actually easier than getting all the kids to bed on time.  He's crazy with a capital K.

In other news . . .
* I'm unable to attend the middle school PTA meeting tonight.  One parent at home and kids to shuffle.  Darn my terrible luck.  Insert sarcasm here.
* Big is laughing at me right now.
* As I was uploading pictures for this very post, I shoved the memory card in the wrong damn slot on the side of the computer.  Took a minute to thank God for the very wise invention of tweezers.  And a second moment to thank Him that MOTH wasn't home.  One look at me up on a chair with tweezers stuck in the side of the computer would be enough to tip him right over the edge.
* Oh, I know . . . gymnastics today.   I generally try to avoid blogging directly about other people's parenting skills.  For the most part, I figure we mothers (collectively) are all fighting the same battle and, as such, we should not only support our fellow warriors with their trials, but celebrate and lift our juice boxes when they are victorious.   But LAWD, there are a couple of mothers at gymnastics who are on my last nerve.  Yea, I might blog it out later.  There's a draft already in there somewhere.  For tonight, suffice it to say . . . . say what you mean and mean what you say.  I say, and this is my authentic opinion, that there is a time when your muchkins are wee-ones where you really are the boss of them.  And love speaks volumes.  And volumes.   A friendship with a child comes much later in life.  Don't try to be the best friend to your five-year old.  They don't need best friends.  They need boundaries.  Firm ones from the people who love them the most.  And that, fellow mamas, is YOU.    Example:  Young son Nicky is climbing on top of the bookcases & cubbies in the little gymnast staging area.  Mom says, "Nicky, get down and put your shoes on."  Nicky looks and mom, narrows his eyes, stands UP on the shelf and proceeds to dance.  Mom says, "get down and put your shoes on."  She hands him his shoes while he's up on top of the cubbies.  Personally, I think this is major mistake number 1.  At this point, my Mama Bear voice would have come out and I'd have let the youngster know that you can't go climbing on other folks' furniture.  And when I say "get down and put your shoes down" that's what I mean.  In that order, so, get your body down off of that cubbie unit, put your bottom down on the floor and put your feet into your shoes.  Then stand up and wait for me to tell you what to do next.  Yea, I'm too far in on that one to back-peddle, so I'll just go forth with both guns blazing.  I have a few things to say to these moms, and I'm certain blogging it will make me feel a zillion times better.  Incidentally, I forgot my headphones.  See, the ONE time I try to carry on a conversation with a fellow warrior and I leave the situation all pissed off.  I'm not a good friend.  I should have a warning label affixed to my forehead.

Well, in classic blogger fashion, that was cathartic.  But now, Mimi has just come in.  Fresh tears.  She misses Wormka, so I must go on with my nighttime business of mothering . . . .

Carry on, fellow warriors . . .


Monday, October 10, 2011


Saturday morning arrived in like a lion.  No lambs.  Nothing gentle.  Just frigid temps, mean grapple snow and a wicked wind to punctuate it all.    

I always hope the first snowfall of the year will be giant gentle flakes that sway back and forth on the wind as they fall through an evening sky like feathers.  Yeah, I like it when the color from street lamps and stop lights make the snow look like colored confetti carpeting the world.   I like to take the kids outside at first snowfall so they can twirl and catch snowflakes on their tongues.  If there's enough snow, I like to scoop great heaps of it into cereal bowls and pour maple syrup over it.  It's lovely.

And the first snowfall of the season sets the tone for the season.

I repeat:  frigid temps, mean grapple snow and a wicked wind to punctuate it all.


But, it's Colorado after all, so my 2 pm, blue skies were smiling at me, the clouds were blown away and there was but a hint that winter had arrived at all.  

I finally finished it . . .

One to go in this series, but I'm gonna table it for a while.  I need something a bit quicker . . .


I honestly think the contents of Friday folders is a weekly magical gift.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to read writing and look at worksheets and see drawings.  This year, Little's teacher is having them to four square papers with 'robust vocabulary'.  See above.  I love them.  Every week, there are three or four of these in his packet and they crack me up every time I see them.  The sentence & the drawing are the BEST . . . he makes awesome speech bubbles . . .