Thursday, January 31, 2013

Last day, first month.

In case you haven't noticed, I decided to try a little experiment this past month.  I committed (in my own head) to posting once a day for the entire month of January.  And as this month comes to a close, I have been thinking about why I blog, and where to go from here.

Last year I fell off the blogging wagon big time.  I have already done almost as many posts in the first month of 2013 as I did in all of 2012.  One reason was that I was busy.  Another reason was that I spent a fair portion of the year in a bit of a depressed funk.  But another reason was that I had turned blogging into something that I did for other people, and not myself.  I wanted to present myself in a certain way, and show that I was Awesome Mom, not Thursday Mom.

Instead I ended up burning out on life . . . just going thru the motions.  And blogging is not part of going thru the motions, that's for sure!

In November, I came back to life a bit after a kick in the pants at the Beth Moore conference I went to in Lewiston.  I have spent a fair amount time since then thinking and praying and examining my/our life, and a good hard look at my motivations for blogging was part of that.

Now I've come to some conclusions, and I'm ready to share them with you.

1.  I love the idea of journaling, and have a bunch of notebooks stored away in the basement that attest to that fact.  Except if you looked a little closer, you would see that the dates have massive gaps in time (sometimes years long) when I didn't write a word, and then wrote a whole bunch in a couple of weeks, then another huge break.  Basically, I usually pull out my journal when going thru a crisis.  So my entire life of journaling looks like one big crisis with some long empty breaks.  You'd feel sorry for the girl who wrote those journals if you read them (you won't), but the truth is a far different story.

2.  Despite flunking Journaling Consistently 101, I love to write.  And they do say "practice makes perfect."  Thus, it stands to reason that the only way to become a better writer is to practice.  When I set out to post every day in January, that was part of my thinking.  I wanted to get writing to be a more consistent part of my life.  I knew I wouldn't fully commit to it if I was only jotting down notes in a journal.  No, for me consistency needed to have a beginning, middle, and end every day.  At least for a month.

3.  I want to have a record of these early years with the kiddos.  And not just a record of how stinkin' cute they are, but what our life is like, and how we interact and live day to day.  A baby book is great, but I know memories fade, and I want to hold on to more than when their first tooth made it's appearance.

4.  I will readily admit it . . . I LOVE to make people laugh.  And maybe make them cry, too.  But mostly to laugh.  Laughter is better medicine than any pill you can take, so when I can turn a really crappy (literally) bath into a funny story, it makes me see the lighter side, and not take myself quite so seriously.  I miss getting up on a stage and telling a story by becoming a different person for a little while . . . I plan to get back to acting and community theater in another year or two, but for now this is a creative outlet I can grab hold of right in my own home.

I have enjoyed this month of daily posts.  So much so that I am planning to continue them right on thru February.  And in order to exercise my creative muscles a little bit, I am going to ask you (the readers) to get involved.  I would like you to give me some suggestions of topics on which to write a little series of essays, one a week for the month of February.  Just comment your ideas on this post or shoot me an e-mail, and I will choose a few.  I want to stretch myself a little bit, whether the ideas be funny or serious.  Help a girl out, will you?!  To give you a little incentive, if I choose your topic(s), I will send you a custom made pencil/toiletries bag!  Don't be afraid to think outside the box . . . I think I would enjoy writing about something a little outlandish.

As I move forward with blogging in 2013, I am keeping one thing in mind, even with this new "assignment" of mine.  I don't blog for the person on the other side of the screen that is reading what I have written.  Once I start writing for a reaction, or to please anyone else, or to have a certain quota of followers, the joy of it goes away.  I blog for me and my little family, and to glorify God with what I write.  Anytime those motivations change, it will be time to step away.

As I end this post, I have to say that I am so excited to see what this year brings, to share it here, and to laugh and enjoy life with you.  Life IS good!  And don't forget, life will really be good for one lucky follower tomorrow when I do the drawing for this bag . . .


I know, it sounds a little hypocritical to say I don't care how many followers I have and then do a giveaway for which you have to be a follower to be eligible . . . but I haven't come up with a better way to do it and can't keep every bag I make for myself or the house will be overrun!  So good luck, and I will be sure to let the lucky winner know tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My friend Craig and his list

I don't think there can be many people left in these United States who haven't bought or sold something on craigslist.  I myself have sold a bunch of stuff . . . namely, cloth diapers, baby furniture, and more cloth diapers.  When I first started selling on craigslist, it was a pretty straightforward proposition.  You listed your item, got a bunch of e-mails from interested folks, first come first serve.  Done.

Nowadays, it's a bit trickier.

First of all, there are the scammers.  I still haven't figured out how you can profit from replying to craigslist ads and saying you want to buy the item, but I guess they have.  I read an article in Reader's Digest, and apparently there is this small European town (I forget in which country) that has a bunch of insanely rich people who got that way by graduating from car theft to craigslist scamming.

So the last couple times I listed something on craigslist, I got about 30 e-mails that went something like this:

"Hi do you still have item listed it looks like great.  I very interested, please advise if you item is still available."


The return e-mail address is always so sketchy it might as well be "" . . . really not quite sure how it tricks anybody.  Must be the gullible little old ladies.

Then of course you have the craigslist killer.  Ever since that whole thing was on the news I feel a little bit like I am taking my life in my hands to sell online.  Equal parts terrified and exhilarated as I simultaneously plan how to kick butt while selling my item.  As if I could actually karate chop anybody!  The best I could probably hope for would be to jab somebody's eyes out.

So when I sell an item I have certain rules that I follow.

First of all, John has to be home when the possibly crazy person comes to buy.  (Really, what kind of craigslist killer would respond to a baby changing table ad?!)

Second, I have the item out on the porch, and go out to meet them.  I also make sure they see John inside, and carry the phone out with me to finish a (fake) conversation with someone else that I am arranging to meet up with in five minutes.

I know, the fake phone conversation is a little bit overkill.  But this is the person who used to run around the Portland UNE campus by herself while pretending to talk into an earbud after watching Alias.  It was fun to see reactions . . .

"I'm almost in position, over and out."

Anyone nearby would give a weird look out of the corner of their eye and move away as quickly as they could.  Not sure what they thought, but it was fun.

Back to craigslist . . . you can find amazing deals online.  When I sell, I have a bottom number I won't go below, and just re-list until I get at least that number.  But a lot of people don't have an absolute bottom number, and you can sweet talk them down.  I have never felt bad about doing this, I figure they can always say no, so push for the number I want.  This week, though, I finally got a deal I felt just a wee bit bad about.

As many of you know, I have been having trouble with two of my three sewing machines.  And I really do use all of them as each has a particular purpose.  To have two non-functioning machines means I can do almost no sewing.  Fixing each machine is going to cost between $80-100, and one of the machines really isn't worth fixing anyway.

Off I went to peruse craigslist.  And the first entry I clicked on was for a Husqvarna Viking Emerald 116 that was just listed.  Essentially brand new, used once, for $200 firm.  That is a $300+ machine!  Great brand, great model, couldn't believe my luck.  But you can always get a better deal, right?  So I called the lady, and said it looked like a great machine, and I would love to buy it, but $150 was absolutely my top offer.  Would she take it?


Now I moved into high gear.  I had to pick it up before she started getting calls from people willing to pay $200.  She lived over an hour away on a good day, so first I tried to arrange meeting in the middle. But we couldn't meet in a random parking lot, because I would need to try the machine out . . . so then I got on the horn to some friends that lived inbetween us.  I was in luck again!  One of them was going to be home when I needed to meet my craigslist lady, and we could meet at her house.  Doubly great to see my friend AND get this sewing machine.

If there is one law of craigslist, it is that the pickup never goes as planned.  Sure enough, as soon as I had both kids in the car and was headed to the bank for cash, the lady called and said her daughter needed the car so she couldn't come.  Grrr!

Plan B.

We arranged to meet the following evening, but it just didn't settle well with me.  Mostly with my cheap side that didn't want to pay the $200 that it was well worth if other people called about it.  So after more phone calls and hemming and hawing, I finally decided to go all the way out to her house when John got home from work.  Quite sure this blows all of my safety rules out of the water.  But who would list a sewing machine as an enticement to get you to their house to maim and/or murder you?  I would think they would at least list something like a knife set, or maybe some sort of large appliance (to stuff you into).

Nothing can ever go smoothly.  John got home in a timely fashion . . . at which point it started to snow. A lot.  And my cell phone was dead.  I headed out the door with my sister's cell phone in hand, and set out for Standish.  VERY SLOWLY.  Didn't ever get going faster than 45 the whole way, including on the turnpike.  Almost an hour and a half later, I was there.  I called John to let him know the address, and to call out the troops if I didn't call him back asap.

The house was a very tiny but cute little cape with a swing set in the miniscule front yard.  I headed to the side door and was greeted by a nice looking middle aged lady, her very tiny dog, and two children. She pulled out the sewing machine for me to try, and about two seconds in I knew it had to be mine.

I only brought $150 in cash with me, so couldn't pay her $200.  And she did agree to it.  But I looked around her very tidy and threadbare house, and realized she needed the money far more than I did.  That was the point at which I started feeling really badly about my good deal.  The only saving grace was that she was clearly thrilled with $150, so at least she was happy with the deal.

I was just about to head out of the house with my new buy when she piped up.

"You really scared me with all your phone calls.  I thought you were some sort of lunatic, and almost cancelled having you come."


"My husband is not thrilled that I came all the way out here . . . he thinks that you are probably a lunatic, and is waiting for me to call to say you aren't!"

Selling or buying on craigslist can be fraught with worries of danger, but I don't see it going away anytime soon . . . where else can you get a brand new $300 sewing machine for half price, or  a whole set of cloth diaper with accessories, or a couch to replace your flowered behemoth?  Just watch out for those tricky Europeans!


Don't forget, the drawing for my bag giveaway will be this Friday!  All my followers will automatically be entered to win . . . scroll down to the "Followers" section on the right hand side and click on "Join this site."  Follow the instructions, and you just might win the bag!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Diving in

I thoroughly enjoyed myself at my training this past weekend.  It was my first training in four years, out in cold New Hampshire.  Fun times!

On Friday we convoyed from the team warehouse in Massachusetts to the Green Woodlands, and trekked us and our gear up the mountain via snowmobile.  I did not do any of the driving . . . as some of you may know, I crashed a snowmobile my one and only time driving one, back in high school.  It was a bit traumatic for my passenger, who got his leg pinned between the machine and a tree.  Pretty sure he was a little overly dramatic for effect, but nonetheless it couldn't have been pleasant.  (Though to be clear, neither snowmobile nor passenger were permanently injured.)  Since then I have avoided the things completely.

So fifteen years (yikes!) later I climbed back on the horse, and rode around on snow machines all weekend.  I held on for dear life up the mountain, convinced I was going to fly off at any moment.  All in one piece, we finally arrived at the cabin, and I claimed my box spring to sleep on . . . a third of the 18 people in my cabin had mattresses, another third had box springs (Mine was pretty comfy with a couple blankets to put on for padding.), and the rest pulled up a piece of the floor.  We were pretty much in the lap of luxury as far as winter camping goes, though, as our cabin had a generator for lights and water . . . and a woodstove for heat!  The loft where I slept was nice and toasty.

Both Friday and Saturday nights we hiked out into the trails to do search and rescue drills, carrying our victims out by SKED or radioing back for a snowmobile.  Both nights were great . . . cold but beautiful and quiet (with an amazing full moon visible on Saturday!), perfect for a winter hike.  Saturday night all of our teams got back with their victims in record time, just about an hour.


Totally not my team in this picture, but this is a SKED . . . you can use it to move patients in some pretty tight spots, including in a completely vertical position.  Once you have them in it correctly, there's no way they can fall out.

We had various breakout sessions thruout the weekend: Cold Weather Emergencies, Orienteering, Splints, Hypothermia and EKG Exercise, Hypothermia Wrap, and Cold Water Rescue being some of the topics.  Yes, I did the hands-in-an-icebucket-with-EKG-on exercise again, and lived to tell about it. I was most definitely anxious beforehand, as evidenced by a heart rate of 115 before even putting my hands in a bucket . . . twice my normal resting heart rate.  But I did it, and found the three marbles, one dice, and one toy car at the bottom of the bucket after having my hands in as long as I could stand it.  I couldn't find the battery, but that was only because it had frozen into a chunk of ice instead of resting on the bottom.

Most fun the whole weekend?  Cold Water Rescue!  We had two different kinds of cold water suits to wear . . . the red Gumby Suit (I'm pretty sure it has a more official name, but I have no idea what it is), and the yellow Mustang suit that I wore.  The thought of climbing into a hole chopped into 12-inch thick ice with a chainsaw was pretty intimidating since I was convinced that a giant lake trout was going to pull me under the ice (yes, I know that is a very silly fear!), but we had a great instructor who made the whole thing pretty fun.

The Mustang suit has ice picks attached to the sleeves, so we learned how to pull ourselves along on the ice to reach a victim, and to use them to pull ourselves back out of the water.  Then we learned a couple other ways to get out . . . using momentum to climb out, rolling out, and a combination of all of the above.  After that we worked on how to rescue a victim, even a panicked one who is grabbing at you (yes, I got to thrash about pretending I was drowning, kind of fun).

getting ready

in the water

getting pulled out

joe drowning

The only tricky thing about the suit is that sometimes it's hard to keep your legs down if there is any air trapped in them, so I had to fight with mine a bit.

"I'm trying to rescue him (my partner), but my legs keep popping up!"

"Keep them down!"

"I'm trying!!!"

A little more thrashing about and I got the rescue rope around my "victim."  Of course, if he hadn't had a suit on himself I'm pretty sure I would have drowned him, but never mind that.

I guess the whole weekend was pretty great, because now I'm thinking of another highlight: the Orienteering exercise.  I have picked up a compass maybe two or three times in my entire life, and it has never really made any sense to me whatsoever.  And I'm pretty sure all of those times were at previous winter trainings, so I didn't have high hopes that it would make any more sense this time.

But it did!  I totally got it!  The instructor dumbed it down enough that I was actually able to contribute some to our team finding all five of our flags.  I won't attempt to describe what he taught us, because I know I don't have it down well enough to teach anyone else.  (No see one, do one, teach one here!)  Suffice it to say, my team of four had to trek around the woods with a compass and piece of paper that had our bearings on it, and we made it all the way thru the exercise.  Success!


This building was the incredible space where all 34 of us met up for our meals and indoor breakout sessions.  It is completely off the grid and runs on solar power, yet has all the amenities to make our time very comfortable, including a full kitchen, bathrooms (composting toilets, pretty cool!), and internet access.  The most amazing thing about it, though, is how it is constructed . . . post and beam.  I could attempt to describe how beautiful it is for this entire post and not do it justice.  We were so lucky to be able to do our training on this property, and use this space as our springing off point.

I have only one gripe about the whole training, and that is . . . I didn't know about the woodstove-fired hot tub beforehand, so didn't bring my suit.  Other than that I packed very well, and wasn't cold the whole weekend.  (Thanks for loaning me your Rocky Blizzard Stalker boots, Ramsey!)  I'm going to be sure to make note of what to pack for next year, and you can be sure that a bathing suit will be joining my cold-weather layers in my bag for Winter Training 2014!


Don't forget, the drawing for my bag giveaway will be February 1st.  All my followers will automatically be entered to win . . . scroll down to the "Followers" section on the right hand side and click on "Join this site."  Follow the instructions, and you just might win the bag!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Love at First Life

It is wonderful to come home to a family that loves you . . . house tidy, kitchen clean, laundry washed, and kiddos with HUGE hugs waiting for their mama.  And if that were not enough, a loving husband who wrote me a song over the weekend, while taking amazing care of the Snuggler and Cuddler.  Being serenaded as a welcome home?  I am blessed.

Love at First Life

We weren’t high school sweethearts,
didn’t grow up in the same town.
No scrawling on your class notebook,
never wrote our initials down.

We met only later on and
it’s been so much more than like.

It’s been love, love at first life. 
We’ve seen our share of struggle,
pain, and had our differences.
No place for that in a world
of princes and princesses.

When the castle falls, the cliché’s
true: my closest friend’s my wife.

We’re living love, love at first life.

And I, I tried to plan this in my head.        
But I ran around in circles till I wore out every tread.

And I, I see you lying next to me
And know the life I live with you is just as it should be.

More lives have come into our home
and they look just like you.
I see the love you have for them
it only grows my love for you.

When I look at them I see your face
 a beauty I recognize.

I see love, love at first life.
I see love, love at first life.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A little more living room

This Christmas I decided to hang our Christmas cards on some old shutters we had the in the basement.  I got my inspiration from this blog post, which is full of fun ideas.  I didn't take any pictures of the painting process, but it was pretty simple.  The shutters were white, which looked kind of boring.  I dug thru my paint pots in the basement and found a nice brown . . . one coat later they were a very glossy, shiny, shimmering, oily looking brown.


So then I decided to go with some leftover blue, and got lucky.  I applied one coat of the flat blue, and got a great effect, tiny streaks of brown showing thru.  Exactly what I didn't know I was trying to do!  Love it when you get lucky like that.


Now, in my efforts to de-Christmas the house (it is the end of January, after all), I wanted to keep the shutters up, but needed to replace the Christmas cards with something else . . . a little scavenging around in my craft room and basement and I was ready.


A few favorite photos . . .


. . . momentos from my marathon in Alaska . . .


. . . our wedding invitation . . .


. . . and sand dollars we plucked off the beach on vacation.


Before . . . kind of sad, I know.  Time to be perked up!  


After . . . I have never been much of a scrapbooker, but I enjoyed putting together my Scrappy Shutters.





The view from the entry way now . . . I can just see a nice little table under the shutters . . .

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Curious George, that annoying little monkey

Are there any other parents out there that dislike Curious George as much as I do?  I know, the book is a classic, beloved by children the world over, enduring for generations.  But I really can't stand that mischievous little monkey, no matter how much others may love him.

First of all, the story.  Far be it from me to be PC, but really?  Catching a little monkey in a bag and sailing off to America to put him in a zoo?  I know things used to be un-regulated, but this seems a bit much.  When they finally get to the Man's house (after George almost drowns), they have dinner, George smokes a pipe (!), and then is tired and goes to bed.

What exactly was in that pipe that made George so sleepy?

The next day the Man leaves him to go run errands (and this is a common theme in the books, you'd think that guy would learn!), during which George accidentally calls the fire station.  So of course, they haul him off to jail . . . don't get on the wrong side of a firefighter, kiddos, you will be in BIG trouble!

Each book has a great moral of the story too . . . oh, you were naughty and did what the Man told you not to do?  Okay, let's reward you with a trip into space.  Or a medal.  Or a whole bunch of balloons to give to all your friends.  The ends justify the means, my friend!

I guess Curious George is not so bad compared to some other enduring favorites.  How about Babar, the incestuous elephant king?  Don't get me started on Harold and the Purple Crayon . . . that book will NEVER enter our home.  I have already cleaned up after one minor wall-writing incident, and that was enough for me, thank you very much.  And who can forget The Giving Tree, a terrific example of co-dependency if I ever read one.  Perhaps I am just too low-brow . . .

Story and morals aside, what's the real reason I dislike poor George so vehemently?

Those George books are soooooooo stinkin' long!

When we just had the original George book it wasn't too bad, I could stomach reading it in our rotation of other wonderful books.  But.  We decided that Sophia loved George so much (she really did/does) that we would get her the George collection in one big book for her second Christmas.  And as a bonus, a cd came with the book that has all the stories read aloud.

Bad idea.

You know what I hear every morning?  And this is two years later, mind you.  She still loves George this much . . .

"Can I listen to George?"

George is on my iPod, plugged into John's iHome speakers, all two hours and two minutes total.  George is the soundtrack of my life nowadays.  I can quote you select bits if you like.  Do you want to hear from "Curious George Takes a Job," " . . . Rides a Bike," or ". . . Gets a Medal?"  Or perhaps a selection from "Curious George Learns the Alphabet" . . . all 24 interminable minutes of it.

I know it isn't George's fault that he is so loveable that my daughter wants to listen to stories about him all day long.  But I need a scapegoat, so George it is.  I suppose I could just say "no" when Sophia bounces up to me in the morning, gleefully asking for me to turn her stories on.  But it seems a little mean to say no simply because he annoys me.  The neverending stories have given me a greater understanding for why you might want to give a 3-year old her own iPod . . . but I'm not going to go there!

Sometimes I think Sophia is done listening . . . she has gone off to build a fort in the living room, or color in the dining room, she can't really hear the stories in the kitchen, right?


"Mama, why did you turn George off?  I was listening to that and he needs to deliver the newspapers."

Because Mama is going to go bonkers if she has to listen to one more rendition of how the big "A" looks like an alligator and the little "a" looks like an apple, and aren't you clever, George!

So I am on the hunt for a George replacement.  Perhaps the music cd we gave Sophia for Christmas . . . maybe a chapter book like "Little House on the Prarie" . . . whatever it may be, I need to find it soon!

Ideas, please!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Missing the kiddos


When this is posted, I will be freezing my bum off in New Hampshire.  And I've been so excited about the training, that I haven't really thought too much about the fact that I have never been away from them for more than one night, let alone three full days and two nights.  Ever since Sophia was diagnosed with asthma, John and I have pretty much been glued to home.

What I hadn't really thought about is that the kids are going to miss their mama a whole lot.


Yesterday at breakfast Sophia was picking at her oatmeal, and looked really sad.  I asked what was wrong, and she just stayed silent.  I didn't want to put words in her mouth, but I finally asked if she was sad that Mama was going away for the weekend.  Big tears started streaming, along with the little I'm-trying-not-to-cry-but-it's-just-not-working pouty lip.

I scooped her up for a cuddle and tried to explain exactly how long I would be gone and what I would be doing . . . and most importantly, when I would be back.  None of it cheered her up too much, so I finally asked if she would like me to wake her up for some snuggle time when I get back Sunday night.  She said yes, and the tears finally came to an end.


This is why I had to get him some man bling!

All of a sudden I didn't want to go to my training.  The training that I have been eagerly anticipating for a VERY long time.  My first time back to a full weekend training with my team.  SUPER excited.  But in that moment I realized that I was going to miss them a whole lot too.  Of course, it goes without saying that I will miss John . . . what an amazing husband and father, taking it in stride to have the kids by himself this weekend.  Keep him in your prayers!  But you miss your kids differently . . .


I'll be honest, I'm not the mom who can't stand to be away from their kids for any amount of time.  Sometimes when I am heading out the door I don't think of giving a hug and kiss . . . I'm only going to be gone for a couple hours, no biggie.  I enjoy a break, time to rejuvenate and come back to the kids fresher than I left.  At work I don't think much about home or the kids, too busy taking care of what's in front of me.


First ever made-only-by-Sophia fort.  Never mind that it is uninhabitable, be impressed.  "Come take a picture, Mama!"

But I think this weekend I will miss these little rugrats a little bit.  Maybe more than a little.  I'm still anticipating my trip, and excited to learn and experience being part of my team again, but I think I'll be pretty happy to come back home again.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winter camping. Seriously?!

Every once in a while I think it might be nice to live in San Diego, a nice 70 degrees year round.  Right about now that sounds pretty nice . . . as opposed to the -2 it's been getting down to at night around here.  I was talking to my sister about winter in Maine, and she said that she would like to move to Hawaii, Australia, or Texas.  I happen to agree with a friend who once said that no one should live in Texas, but Hawaii or Australia would be okay with me.

I try very hard not to complain about the winter weather here in Maine.  After all, I did (sort of) choose to live here.  I went away to college and then came back, so I guess the blame can't rest solely on my parents.

But seriously, it is so freaking cold right now.

So of course it is the perfect time to go camping in the White Mountains.  Which is what I am doing tomorrow, in fact.  That's right, I am headed to the White Mountains with my disaster relief group, to train in "austere conditions."

I have been to this winter training a couple of times, but this is my first time going since the kids arrived. I'm actually looking forward to it as a vacation of sorts.  A vacation where I freeze my butt off, hike around the mountain in snowshoes, and don't get any spa treatments whatsoever.  Maybe I should re-think the word "vacation."

The first time I went to winter training I was the newbie on the team, and wanted to make sure I made a good impression.  During one of our training sessions, the lecturer decided to let us get a first-hand knowledge of how quickly we would lose dexterity in the cold if we didn't dress appropriately.  Out came a 10-gallon bucket of ice water.  One by one we each got hooked up to a heart monitor and took turns feeling around in the bottom of the bucket for some object . . . a key, I think.  I don't remember how long we were supposed to keep our hands in the bucket, perhaps two minutes?

I had a terrible cold at the time, but as I said, I wanted to make a good impression.  So of course when they gave me the option to skip the exercise I said I wanted to try it.  And it went fine.  I was super tough when I put my hands in the icy water (I am woman, hear me ROAR!) and found the object at the bottom quickly.

Then I took my arms out of the water, and all of the blood in my brain decided to exit because my arms needed it more.  My team leader looked at me from across the room and asked if I felt okay, and from a distance I could hear myself saying that I felt a little funny.  All of a sudden my team moved into action . . . my feet were swung up onto the couch so that I was lying down, blood pressure cuff and sleeping bag on.  My first introduction to the fact that my teammates are all top notch medical professionals.

But seriously?!  How embarrassing!  I like to think I made up for that incident the last time I went to winter training and was 18 weeks pregnant with Sophia.  I didn't go sticking my arms in ice buckets, but I did hike up the mountain with everyone and sleep in the cabin at the top.  Although the knowledge that there were mice and voles running around meant that I didn't really sleep so much doze off and on, huddled in my sleeping bag with the top pulled as tight as I could, just my nose and mouth sticking out to breathe.  I kept imagining that a little rodent was just waiting for it's chance to jump in my bag and nibble my toes.  Why it wouldn't just nibble a hole in the bottom and nibble my toes from there I'm not sure . . . I just knew one smart little guy was watching and waiting.

I am hoping not to make any little rodent friends this weekend, perhaps a circle of mouse traps around my bunk?  I know you will all be waiting with baited breath for my report upon my return . . . wish me luck and keep me in your prayers!  I will be back late Sunday night, so John will be putting up my blog posts for me this weekend.  Hasta la vista, baby!


Don't forget, the drawing for my bag giveaway will be February 1st.  All my followers will automatically be entered to win . . . scroll down to the "Followers" section on the right hand side and click on "Join this site."  Follow the instructions, and you just might win the bag!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Absent-minded parenting

I think absent minded parenting comes down to too much multitasking on too little sleep.  And/or not enough coffee.  I'll be in the middle of one thing while thinking ahead to the next ten things I have to do, and then mess up what I am doing in that moment.

Until recently, Sophia had one morning medication that we served her on a spoonful of applesauce.  Now she swallows the pill down with water, but back when she took it sprinkled on applesauce Jude always started fussing because he wanted the applesauce.  So one morning I wasn't paying attention, and popped the spoon into Jude's mouth.  John gave me a weird look and said "Why did you give that to Jude?"  I looked down at the spoon, looked at Jude (he was thrilled to get the applesauce), looked at Sophia (who was confused, but waiting patiently) . . . "Whoops!"

I learned my lesson, though, right?

You'd think.  A couple weeks later I did the exact same thing, gave the spoonful to Jude (who was again quite happy with the turn of events) while not really hearing Sophia . . . "No, Mama, don't give Jude my medicine!  That's mine!"

So it was a happy occasion when I discovered that Sophia could swallow pills no problem.  Because even I am not absent-minded enough to give Jude a whole pill minus the applesauce.

But apparently I am absent-minded enough to try to give him Sophia's inhaler!

Last week I shook up Sophia's inhaler to give her it to her in the tub.  I was trying to position it correctly on her face, but she kept trying to chew the facemask instead of letting it rest on her chin.  "Jude, stop chewing on the . . . ohhhhhhhhh.  Nevermind."  Moved onto the actual Sophia and gave it without incident.

I'm telling you, it would be so handy to have the hospital's medication scanning equipment here at home.  I could use a computer to tell me that I am attempting to give meds to the wrong kid.  Though lest you worry unduly about Jude, his two doses of her morning med were not a big deal.  She has been taking them daily for reflux since younger than Jude . . . he's fine!

Whenever I think I have finally gotten my act together, I get a little reminder that I can be just as spacey as ever.  Sophia generally wanders the house dressed in her skivvies, and has to be pretty cold to keep her clothes on.  Yesterday, though, I didn't have to say a thing and she kept them on all day.  Granted, I'm pretty sure it was the coldest day of the century, but she even holed up in the living room wrapped in a blanket for much of the morning.

I didn't think much of it until after lunch when I took a peek at the thermostat.  Hmmm.  Maybe if I had ever turned it up from the 58 degrees it was set at the night before the kid wouldn't be freezing her buns off!  No wonder Jude's hands were like ice cubes . . . 

The worst of my absent-minded misdeeds was back in September.  I fed the kids some messy spaghetti for dinner, and put Jude's shirt in the bathroom sink to soak while I gave them a bath.  Except I ran the sink water while running the tub water, so didn't hear or remember that I never shut off the sink.  It wasn't until I got up from kneeling by the tub to wash both kids hair that I realized there was a solid inch of water covering the floor.  The threshold was actually holding it back from going out into the hallway.  And the sink was continuing to gush forth as I took this all in.

A mighty leap toward the sink later and the water was off.  I used up all the towels we have other than the two I had out for Sophia and Jude to soak up the water, and then went downstairs to investigate.

Yep.  A nice little stream of water coming down the dining room wall.  Wiped that up and headed back upstairs to get fans going to dry out my very wet under-sink area.

No ceiling damage, no long-term effects . . . dodged a bullet with that one!

Until three nights later when John did the exact same thing, creating a flood of epic proportions.  That was super fun, because I hadn't washed the towels from the previous flood yet, so we had to improvise with our giant collection of washcloths and cloth diaper wipes, a sheet or two, and the kid's bath towels.   Good thing they didn't mind sharing the hand towel to dry off after their bath!

Neither of us had ever flooded the bathroom before, and haven't since.  And I have decided that God knew that I needed to make a flood happen first, or else I would have been really mad at John and said things that I would regret later.  Of course, the second time we were not quite so lucky . . . the water made it out into the hallway and we now have a nice water stain on our living room ceiling.  Pretty sure we can get new ceiling tiles at Home Depot, right?

Thank you to any of you who have ever given me a gift card to Starbucks.  You probably didn't know that by fueling my caffeine addiction you were truly helping me to be a better, more mindful parent.  You wouldn't think that someone with kids that sleep as much as mine do would have a sleep deficit, would you?  But between working one night a week and intermittently waking with Sophia during asthma exacerbations, I don't see the absent-minded thing going away for good anytime soon.  Bring on the caffeine, baby!


Don't forget, the drawing for my bag giveaway will be February 1st.  All my followers will automatically be entered to win . . . scroll down to the "Followers" section on the right hand side and click on "Join this site."  Follow the instructions, and you just might win the bag!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bath time DRAMA

Someday, when I am very old and gray and senile, I am going to live with Jude and his wife, and make them take care of me.  And every night, when I take my bath, I am going to poop in the bathtub.  Every.  Night.

You know what they say about payback.

As so many of my facebook friends know, Jude has started pooping in the bathtub.  And I figure that the third night of this (out of three) pretty much means it's a habit now.  Doesn't take this kid 21 days to have it ingrained.

The first two nights I was right on top of things, scooped that sucker right out of there so fast you almost couldn't see it make landfall.  But last night was Poopalooza 2013.  So stop reading right there if you have a weak stomach, 'cause it's gonna get real real fast.

Lately Jude has been pretty cranky when he's working on a stinky diaper, crying a little bit (definitely not constipated, though!) just as he does the deed.  Not sure why it is so distressing, but he gets over it quickly.  So when he cried intermittently thru dinner, I figured that was why.  Yep, had to clean his bum before popping him in the tub.  No worries now, he already went, won't go in the tub, right?


I was in John's and my bedroom across the hall putting away a couple shirts when I heard grunting.  Sophia was singing a nice little bath song, so I figured it had to be the Judester.  Maybe there was more up there than I thought.  I sprinted for the bathroom, just in time to see the floater pop to the surface.  Scoop, dump, wash hands . . . really need a fishnet.

Now for the confession.

In my book, floater does not automatically equal termination of the bath.  I don't want the kids marinating in poop tea, but if it's solid and only in there for a second or two . . . 'nuff said.

So the kids continued their bath and I continued to put away laundry.  Sophia splashed Jude, he cried, I hollered toward the bathroom for her to be nice.  Soon Jude was chortling away again, happy little bather that he is.  I finished the laundry, and just as I was headed out of my room into the bathroom, I heard a cry of distress from Sophia.

"Mama, he did it again!  Jude pooped!"

I ran in . . . to find poop tea.  Jude was joyfully playing with his little offspring as Sophia tried to figure out whether to laugh or cry.  She settled on crying as I flung her out of the tub before the flotsam could reach her.  There was nothing big enough to catch anymore, so I opened the drain and turned on the water to attempt to rinse Jude off.  Now to get Jude to stand up . . . but if there is one thing Jude loves, it's his bath time.

A wet, wriggling 25 pound toddler is amazingly strong.  He screamed as though I was ripping a limb off while I attempted to hoist him upright for a rinse.  I actually did rinse him, three times, and each time he managed to plunk back down in the poop tea before I could get him out, trying to reach for his new play toys.  I finally gave up on rinsing the kid off, and lifted him, writhing, out of the tub.

In all the craziness I hadn't grabbed any towels (sorry, shivering Sophia), and as I went for one now Jude made his escape.  He dashed out into the hallway, making a break for his bedroom, arms flailing and naked buns jiggling as he continued to scream bloody murder.  I caught the little rugrat, and wrapped him up in a big beach towel like a burrito before placing him on the carpet in the back of the bathroom.  A thrice wrapped burrito.

Figuring he was trapped, I threw Sophia a towel and focused on the very slowly emptying tub full of poo infested toys.  I decided to just spray the whole shebang with tub cleaner (LOTS of tub cleaner), not thinking about Sophia/lungs until far too late.  I may have sprayed a bit too much in my craze to erase the nastiness.

About this time Burrito Man flipped himself over onto his tummy and was so infuriated with the situation that he had gotten up on his knees and face and was full-body writhing in his towel prison.  Of course continuing all the while to express his absolute displeasure vocally.

And that is when John walked in from work.

The man was cool as a cucumber.  Naked daughter crouching by the heater, attempting to dry her own hair.  Screaming son being unwrapped from a towel straightjacket.  Bathroom full of fumes from half a bottle of tub spray.  Crazed wife trying to out-shout Jude to ask hubby to take over with Sophia.

From there on out it was pretty easy-peasy.  John got Sophia settled as I stuffed Poop Man into pj's and tucked him in with Wolfie.  I got the tub cleaned, John read Bible stories and prayed, then it was lights out.  We tried not to think about how un-rinsed Jude was, and decided in the scheme of things it probably wasn't that big a deal.  The bigger problem is how to convince our 18-month old son NOT to poop in the tub anymore.  Maybe I just need to be quicker on the draw and throw him on the toilet when I hear his first grunt/cry.  Whatever the solution, I am pretty much done with the whole thing.  I wonder how Jude would feel about showers?


Don't forget, bag giveaway coming up on February 1st!  All of my followers will automatically be entered, so be sure to "follow" my blog for an entry.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Easy craftiness, please

Over the weekend a friend and I had plans to make these cute little pencil bags from an online tutorial.  Instead, I whined about my poorly functioning sewing machines while she made one.  Today I finally got around to stitching one up, but I made a few changes that make my version a little easier for the novice crafter.

So here's my take on a quilted toiletries/pencil/whatever-you-like bag!



First step in a project, as in cooking, gather your "ingredients."  In this case you will need your choice of fabric(s), a 12 inch zipper, and a padded layer (felt or quilt batting . . . I used the latter in order to get a puffier quilted look) for between your two fabric layers.  I am going to make a few of these bags, and you can see my color choices above.


Next you are going to cut the outer fabric color (the one you will see all the time) into a 10-inch square. The lining fabric and and padding middle layer get cut into 11-inch squares.  (Yes, the fabric above is not the bag I actually made this afternoon, but it happened to be the best pic that showed the size difference that I cut.  Purple = outside, orange = lining.)


Layer your fabrics with wrong sides together and padding between.  The padding and lining fabric are cut larger than the outer fabric in case there is any slipping during sewing.  When you have your layers sandwiched together, go ahead and "quilt" your lines.  Then you can trim the whole "sandwich" down to a 10-inch square.  I sewed my lines slightly wonky and with various widths between for visual interest.  But you can be more precise if you want to, it's your bag!


Next unzip your zipper all the way.  Pin it onto your fabric sandwich leaving 3/8 inch at the top of your fabric for your seam allowance.  Sew on zipper.  There will be leftover zipper at the bottom.  This is okay!  (Unless you bought a metal zipper, then you are on your own.)


Now go ahead and zip your bag up most of the way, flatten as seen above, and sew each end closed, with a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  You can sew right thru the plastic zipper and then cut off the excess, but having extra zipper makes it easy to sew the bag in one piece instead of two.  Clip off a little triangle of the extra fabric in each corner, and turn right side out . . . all done!  (See the crazy lines I drew on the picture?  Cut straighter than that, and don't cut your stitches!)


Can't wait to get the rest of my bags done, and be sure if you make one to show me a pic!  Also, this is one of my first tutorials, so let me know if there is anything that needs further clarification for you . . . thanks!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

More rules of a different sort

Over my 9+ years as an ICU nurse, I have worked in three different hospitals, and as different as they all were, some things never changed.  No matter where . . . Maine or Michigan . . . medical, surgical, or cardiac ICU . . . nurse's pet peeves remain exactly the same place to place.  So for what it's worth, here you go.  Some rules to live by, or discard, as you like!

1.  Don't bring your three month old baby in to visit sick grammy/grampy/auntie.  Now having children of my own, this one has bumped up to the top of my list.  No, we don't have rules about it, but hospitals, and ICUs in particular, are festering cesspools of nasty germs that I wouldn't bring my children into unless I absolutely had to.  Please, please, please, leave your poor little munchkin at home instead of bringing them into an ICU with three influenza patients and two patients with MRSA precautions!  

2.  Thanks for the treats, but how about some veggies?  I am a complete sugar-aholic, and when I see an open box of chocolates in the nurse's station, it takes all my my willpower (I don't have much) for me to tear myself away.  Even if I know that there are only orange nougats left.  I don't like the fruity centers.  So why do I still eat them?!  Seriously, if you want to bring us a yummy treat, think green and crunchy.  Our hips will thank you!  And you know what?  If you bring us nothing at all we will still take terrific care of your loved one.

3.  Here's a sensitive one, I know . . . if you were supposed to sleep in the room with your sick loved one, there would be a second bed.  Like the pullout couch in the pediatric wing or maternity floor.  And I am a total hypocrite here, because if my spouse/kid were in the ICU you wouldn't be able to pry me away from the bedside with a crowbar.  BUT, if something happens in the middle of the night, we need to be able to get at the patient without getting hung up on a big chair and extra sleeping person.  Go home and get your rest, you'll be a lot better rested and able to help in the long run.  

4.  Make a telephone tree.  Giving updates by telephone is tricky these days, given HIPAA privacy laws and all.  Of course we will give you an update, if you are on "the list."  But if you are the patient's cousin's mother-in-law, please don't get mad when I say to call a family member to find out how Suzy is doing.  And if Suzy is your mother and you have eleven siblings, you need to pick just one of you to call and ask how she is.  Then that one person calls two people, who each call two people and so on.  That way you have all gotten an update without twelve phone calls taking me away from Suzy's bedside, where I need to be to take good care of her and get her home to you.

5.  If I am already going to the kitchenette to get a fresh water for the patient, I don't mind getting you one too.  If you start asking for crackers and peanut butter and milk three times a day, though, with an occasional coffee thrown in, it's time for you to hit the cafeteria.

6.  You really do catch more flies with honey.  And boy, have I learned this lesson myself thru various trips to the ER with Sophia.  If you yell at me, threaten to take your loved one home, and look like you are going to hit me because you are frustrated, I'll call security.  (Just to be clear, I have never done any of those things when in the ER with Sophia.  Much as I have wanted to.)  But if you stay calm and respectful, I would love to talk thru the issue, and will bend over backwards to fix it if I can.  It's been two weeks and Suzy really misses her dog?  Let's be sure his shots are up to date and I can arrange a visit.  Suzy is crazy about the outdoors but has been on a ventilator for two months and is depressed from staring at the ceiling?  We have portable ventilators, let's take a trip out to the courtyard.  Honey, people, honey.

7.  You know what really makes our day?  When a patient we never thought would survive walks into our unit on his own two feet and says thank you.  "I don't remember much of my stay here in the ICU, but my family said you worked really hard to keep me alive, and I just wanted to say thank you."  I'll take that over chocolate (or veggies!) any day of the week.


Don't forget, February 1st is right around the corner, and one lucky follower is going to win this bag!


Saturday, January 19, 2013


Once in a while I feel like I am Alexander.  Not Alexander my brother.  No, Alexander of "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."  

And I feel a little bit guilty because it isn't as though anything is really very bad.  I don't have a terminal brain tumor named Timmy, John doesn't have lymphoma, and so far Jude shows no sign of having his sister's asthma.

No, this Bad Day comes down to one little cavity.  The cavity that broke the camel's back.

Yesterday morning was wonderful.  The kids and I went to visit friends that we hadn't seen in an eon, and had a great time.  Unfortunately, though, all good things must come to an end, and we had to get home so I could go get my teeth cleaned.  I would have rescheduled, but I already had four times (no exaggeration) so I figured I better keep the appointment.  

Put the Judester down for a nap, made sure Sophia and Grammy were all set, and off I went to my dental cleaning appointment.  Quick half hour appointment, no biggie.


It was time for my updated x-ray.  Fine, super quick add-on in this digital age.  Except when the x-ray says that you have a cavity that has to get filled.  Today.

Now come on.  I admit I did fall off the flossing wagon over Christmas (yes, when you probably need to be doing it the most), but I have been getting back to it, and thought I was doing a decent job taking care of my teeth.  I never even had any cavities until after college, but having kids was brutal on my mouth.  Seriously, I hadn't heard of pregnancy gingivitis until my mouth started to hemorrhage when I looked at dental floss while preggers with Sophia.  Even worse with Jude . . . my gums are still recovering a year and a half later.  

So here I am, post-pregnancies, yet another filling to my name.  I think this one makes four.  Or maybe five.  Either way, a number I am NOT pleased about.

The hygienist did the math . . . $35 extra after insurance, 20 minutes more.  I said go for it.

My wonderfully thorough hygienist proceeded to numb me up with enough novocaine that I was still drooling as I drank my afternoon coffee four hours later.  Not that I am complaining!  I would much rather be over-numb than under-numb.  Especially when Dr. D started grinding away a giant portion of my back left molar.  


Don't you hate to hear "Hmm" come out of a dentist/doctor/plumber/electrician's mouth?  It always means bad news.  In this case it meant that the cavity was bigger than he initially thought.  Time to grind thru the front of the tooth and empty the wallet a little more.  More grinding, more burning bone taste . . . the grinding always takes me back to my first time in the OR.  The tooth grinding for a cavity smells and tastes just like cutting thru the skull for a craniectomy did.  Not that I tasted the guy's skull, but smell is a large part of taste, so my imagination does the rest.

Grinding done, Dr. D slapped in a bunch of whatever that filler is, zapped it with his handy little light, and polished it up a bit.  

Except for the jagged little edge on the outside that he didn't see, and that I didn't feel until five hours later when my novocaine wore off.  And that I have felt every time food caught on it since, which has been every time I have eaten anything.  Especially dried cranberries.  I had a little handful of dried cranberries for a snack today, and every one of those little suckers got caught on that tiny little jagged edge.  Even the ones I chewed on the right side of my mouth . . . somehow they jumped right over to the other side just to torment me a little more.

Being the weekend, there isn't much I can do about it except be annoyed.  

All in all, I guess it doesn't seem worthy of being a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, except that it started off the next 24 hours with a bang.  Since then Sophia has enjoyed saying "no" more in one day than in all of her life previously, the cashier at Joann's commented (when I finally got to her) that it looked like Black Friday because there were so many customers, and my only accomplishments of the day today are the following:

1.  Finishing washing yesterday's dishes.
2.  Putting a load in the washer . . . now to get it into the dryer.
3.  Getting Sophia's hair pulled back into a ponytail.  Sort of.
4.  Re-making a pair of pants that I had already made once but were too big.

My non-accomplishments?

Breaking not just one, but two of my sewing machines.  I have three, but use them all for different things, and having even one out of commission is crazy frustrating.  I guess the cavity just started the cascade . . . the sewing machines were really what broke this camel's back.

Like I said, nothing tragic.  Just annoyances, really.  So now it's time to re-set.  And I'm thinking that re-set is two-fold.  Part one, thanking God for what I do have . . . lots of teeth that don't have any cavities, one fully functioning serger sewing machine, and a handy brother that can probably fix the other two.  Part two, some takeout from the Gridiron, like maybe a reuben sandwich and jalapeno poppers.  Or perhaps some sweet potato fries if they have them . . . sweet potato fries can fix pretty much anything.

I'm off to the Gridiron!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Eat it already!

I have the pickiest kids in the world.  I know, you have the pickiest kids in the world, too.  We all have the pickiest kids in the world . . . just when you think you know what they'll eat, they change it up on you.  And then you have to play the guessing game all over again and put up with your 18-month old throwing his meal on the floor bite by bite after you slaved over the oven all afternoon.

Doesn't make cooking a full balanced meal very rewarding.  So if you're like me, your kids end up eating a lot of eggs and toast, pancakes, or some sort of pasta.  But even then, no guarantees.

A few weeks ago I decided to make ravioli.  We needed a quick meal or Jude was going to start gnawing on my leg, and I had a bag of cheese ravioli in the freezer.  Boiled some water, threw in the frozen pasta squares, and steamed some broccoli in the (vain) hope that either child might eat something green.

The green was a flop, but the ravioli?  Total hit!  Both kids gobbled it down faster than I could put it on their plates . . . you'd have thought I served them nectar of the gods (otherwise known as ambrosia . . . I looked it up).  I was thrilled, as I had been serving up one floor dinner after another that week.  After all, ravioli is (sort of) balanced . . . carbs, dairy, and the sauce counts as a veggie, or so the spaghetti sauce commercials claim.

Just one week later I was again short on time and hadn't planned well . . . the quiche I had made was still not done and the kids were about to melt down if I didn't shove some food in their pie holes and put them to bed.  Ravioli!!!

But no.

In one week both children had developed completely different taste buds and wouldn't touch it.  I take that back.  Sophia ate one bite, drank her whole cup of milk, and declared she was full.  And could she have dessert now?  Meanwhile, Jude touched all of his.  Just long enough to throw them on the floor.


Imagine my joy, then, when this week BOTH kids ate a balanced meal for dinner two nights in a row!  VEGGIES AND ALL!!!  Now that I am done dancing around the kitchen in joy, I am going to share the recipes with you, in hopes that your children may also partake.

The first recipe is an adaptation of a family recipe, invented by my grandmother.  The story as I understand it is as follows . . . they lived on a farm and had lots of goats.  The goats produced lots of milk.  Something had to be done with the lots of milk.  So they made lots of cottage cheese.  Now what to do with lots of cottage cheese?

Cottage cheese pancakes!  Now, before you turn up your nose, hear me out.  These are delicious.  And there are no chunks involved.  All the cheese melts into deliciousness, and I have had people who swore they hated cottage cheese take one bite and change their minds.  My adaptation was to take out the cooking oil and brown sugar (because we use butter and a sweetener on top) and add in apples and spinach.

Laurel's Cottage Cheese Pancakes
1 cup cottage cheese (I use low fat)
4 eggs
3/4 cup flour (approximately)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk (approximately)
2-3 apples, chopped up in food processor peels and all
a couple good handfuls of spinach, also chopped up in food processor

I throw everything in a bowl and mix it up all at once.  Do not mix the batter in the food processor, even though you have it out already!  Been there, done that.  Makes for some funky pancakes, and not in a good way.  Fry on a pan or griddle, on medium-low heat.

Now, toppings.  Real maple syrup is a classic, and always popular on these pancakes.  My kid's favorite, though?  Cinnamon sugar butter . . . a little goes a long way, and makes an already great pancake straight up amazing.

Cinnamon Sugar Butter
1 stick of butter
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Whip it all up together in your mixer, and store in the fridge.


Ok, so my kids ate breakfast for dinner, again.  Hey, it had fruit AND green veggies.  The real triumph came the next night.  When they ate undisguised vegetables!

Without further ado, the easiest meal you will ever make that your kids just might eat.

Chicken with Indian Spices (courtesy of a Hannaford recipe card)
2 lbs chicken (drumsticks, boneless chicken breast, whatever your family prefers)
16 oz plain yogurt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix spices in yogurt.  Pour mixture over chicken, turning to coat all sides.  Let marinate in fridge for at least two hours, or overnight.

After marinating, pour chicken and yogurt mix into a pan with lid.  Cook on stovetop over medium-low heat with lid on.  Turn once to cook thru.

Sweet Potato Chips
Slice up a sweet potato using food processor slicer attachment (I tried slicing these by hand a few times before I had a processor, but flunked at cutting them with any sort of consistent thinness).  You want to have pretty thin slices . . . not translucent, but not like you are making fries, either.  Put in a bowl, drizzle olive oil on top, and sprinkle on salt, pepper, and paprika (it's like Blues Clues!).  Stir it all up so that the slices are coated with olive oil.  Bake at 425 on a greased cookie sheet for 5 min, then flip them over and bake a few more minutes, until the edges are a little crispy.  But watch out . . . these buggers will burn quick if you forget about them!  Whoops.

Last but not least . . . 

Place a few baby spinach leaves on plate.  Pour a dollop of ranch dressing.  Voila.

I know, the dippers are kind of a cheat.  But it gets my kids eating green veggies, and my dollop is pretty small.  Not nearly as big as the dollop I use when destroying a pepperoni and banana pepper pizza.

Notes on the chicken/sweet potato/spinach meal . . . I only had a pound of frozen boneless chicken breast on hand, so I halved the recipe and put it all in a big tupperware in the fridge the night before.  By the time I went to cook it, the chicken was thawed and nicely marinated, and my effort the night of was only half an hour total.  For real, not like the time estimates they give you in the Martha Stewart cookbooks.  Although if you don't have a food processor it will take you about seven hours to cut the sweet potato.  Good luck.

I am still euphoric over the fact that my kids have actually been eating what I cooked for them this week.  In fact, they are now on a three-night streak, having eaten full servings of the lasagna (and dippers) that I made for dinner tonight!  The pressure is on . . . what to serve tomorrow night?! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Follow the Thursday rules

Lately this mama has been making a bit more of an effort in the pulling-myself-together department . . . coordinating outfits instead of throwing on whatever stinks the least, using blush and mascara daily along with a little BB cream, and blowdrying my hair instead of air drying for the straw-hair look.  (No matter what I try, air dry = straw.  Scraggly straw.)

But today is Thursday, and I am rocking my day-after-work look like nobody's business.  Hair that I slept on post-shower pulled back in a headband, semi-clean clothes, and two layers of BB cream because the first was just not doing it.  Despite all of that, I HAD to get to Walmart for lasagna ingredients after the kid's naps, and so broke two Thursday laws that I didn't mention in last week's post: leaving the house and spending money.

(FYI, online shopping should be BANNED after being up all night.  I have yet to do anything stupid, but only because I can't remember how to push the right buttons on such meager sleep.)

At any rate, off we went to Walmart.  It seemed like everything was going to go smoothly . . . first we hit the clearance section to see if we could find Jude some manly dress-up trunk items.  We found him a great "gold" chain necklace, not much else there.  On to look at the goldfish, which Sophia said looked yummy.  Lasagna noodles, pasta sauce, bananas (no, the bananas are not going in the lasagna, but we get them EVERY time we go shopping) . . . time to check out.

And that's when it happened.

But first, let me clarify something.  I don't mind friends and family seeing me rock my Thursday look, and I don't mind strangers wondering about the crazy lady.  What I HATE, though, is running into casual acquaintances when I am looking like "THAT mom."  The one who hasn't looked in a mirror since 1993.

So when I recognized our family realtor in line behind us, I played dumb and looked away.  Snuck a quick peek back to verify . . . yep, it was her.  And she looked fab.  Slim and trim, rocking a totally pulled together outfit, with hair and makeup to boot.  Of course, her equally pulled together husband was with her, along with their super cute grandchild.

I have only seen the woman once since we bought our house, so I'm pretty sure she remembers Professional Laurel, not SAHM Laurel.  Pregnant, but always dressed in cute maternity business casual, hair done and face on.  So I thought maybe she just wouldn't recognize me.  One can always hope.

I paid for the groceries, loaded the last bag into the cart, and was almost home-free . . .

"Excuse me, do I know you?"

Thursday Laurel bears so much more resemblance to 1993 Mom instead of Professional Laurel that she couldn't even figure out who I was!  I looked at 40 houses with this woman!

The last time I looked this bad at Walmart I ran into the class clown from my high school days, decked out in his Sunday best with his stunning wife.  Meanwhile I was actually wearing SWEATPANTS and one of John's Tufts sweatshirts.  The fact that Tufts was written across the front was the only way I survived that encounter.  Though the giant patch of baby vomit I later realized had been on my shoulder the whole time may have negated the "Tufts."

Today I managed to garble out the minimum smalltalk required and then scuttled out the door as fast as I could.  I suppose the saving grace was that my sister had tamed Sophia's hair into cute ponytails today, so at least the kids didn't look like little homeless waifs.  (Their pulled togetherness on Thursdays is totally dependent on Mal's making it happen.)

I suppose the life-lesson here is to follow my Thursday rules.  If I hadn't left the house to spend money this would not have happened.  What was I thinking that I let myself break two at once?!  At any rate, all I can do is hope that maybe she was struck with a sudden case of temporary short-sightedness and didn't really get a long enough look to gather it all in.  I can imagine the conversation in the car . . .

"Who was that tired looking middle-aged lady you said hi to at the register?"

"Oh, she was a client a few years ago.  I helped her and her husband find their house . . . poor thing.  Motherhood sure has been rough on her."

All because I broke the rules.  Back to hibernation for me.
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