Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Yea, I've long suffered this whole blogdeath thing. In my ADD-laden brain, it's just easier to keep up with stuff on crackbook. I get instant grantification because of that feed on my page. Oh, and the stalker-feed too. I often miss blogging. My status updates get to a certain level of verbosity and my son comes to me and tells me I type too much on crackbook.

In the last few months, my workload has increased. Retail is busy this time of year, and retail merchandising is as well. I haven't seen much of my husband and kids because I've been busy, and then subsequently tired. I haven't even done my Christmas baking because the one weekend it was low profile, it was 80 degrees outside, and I was NOT about to crank up the oven in THAT weather. So, my supplies sit in the bin where I placed them so that my family would avoid eating my ingredients. Maybe I can bake for my birthday.

Right before Thanksgiving, my husband's grandfather finally gave out on us. He'd been sent home from the hospital to hospice care at the end of July because his remaining kidney was failing, and then it rebounded. He'd been waning steadily, and he finally ended the fight the Saturday before Thanksgiving. We went to Charleston for Thanksgiving with Devildog's sister.

Then work got real crazy.

But in all this, I was able to spend time with my family at Christmas. My Father-in-law came down to visit for a couple days with his dog. She's an awesome dog too, and if we had her as a pet, we would be spoiled at how well behaved she is. My dad preferred to eat at my house for dinner because my older sibling annoys him. The oldest sister had enough of her own going on, she didn't even have stuff at her house. More on that later. My youngest sister lives with dad, and had to drive him to my house because he can't find it on his own. He's 84 and relatively independent, but even 9 years ago when my youngest sister lived in this exact same neighborhood, he couldn't find his way over here. My youngest brother brought his daughter, his girlfriend and her son. They got called at 9am to cook her grandmother's dinner because they'd caught a cold and were too unwell to cook. Brother & company hadn't even gotten out of bed, nor opened gifts yet. They were all too happy to come here to eat food that had flavor. Everyone loved it. Good, because I busted chops for several hours to make it. And on about 4 hours of sleep (don't ask, I won't even go there).

My oldest sister has been dealing her own health issues, compounded with the year-plus long cancer struggles of her husband of 25+ years. They've been together since she was 15 or 16, and they got married when I was 8 years old. We celebrated her 50th birthday a couple years ago. I could go search the clerk of court website and pinpoint that detail but honestly, it doesn't matter. When the man you've spent your entire life with is wasting away, you basically just circle the wagons and go into survival mode. I can relate, except my stuff was work-related, not majorly-change-your-entire-f'ing-life stuff. Johnny had been in hospice care a few weeks and was sent home because he'd improved. I found out he was on his deathbed with a matter of time before the inevitable happens via my dad arriving for dinner and telling me.

So, really, in the grand scheme of things, my life is busy, but my sister's world is crashing down around her, and I was clueless. It really puts things into perspective.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I was crazy once.
They sent me to live on Sunny Hill

It has been just that. The pace we're keeping isn't bad, but at times it feels overwhelming. We spent Thanksgiving at my sister-in-law's and went to a Festival of Lights that the park does every year there. Clone wanted to climb the rock wall, and scaled it in less than 2 minutes, and got 2 feet from the top on her second try in the same amount of time. Her arms wore out and she didn't ring the bell a second time. However, seeing some little girl outdo them, set the numerous boys into a tizzy of "I can't be shown up by a girl!"

I am proud of her for doing it. Not only the actual DOING part of it, but the fact that she wasn't a chicken about it at all. She has her father's sense of adventure in many ways. And whoooo is she competitive! But that rock wall will probably be the highlight of the trip for her. I took as many pictures as I could, but they were mostly blurry. Unfortunately, my camera has taken too many hits and is no longer thinking as fast as it could. I need to get the battery door fixed so I don't have the jerry-rigged rubber band around it. But that is low priority, and I have bigger fish to fry at the moment.

So, does anyone know where Sunny Hill is?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Happy 236th Birthday United States Marine Corps!

OOHRAH Devildogs! Go eat some cake.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


That is how I feel some days. It's been a rather chronic state of busy around here for the last few months. The last several weeks have been more so than typical. I keep looking for the "short work week" and it hasn't appeared on my work dashboard yet. I want to whine, but I can't. I don't have time during the day, and I don't have the energy in the evening for it. Plus, I'm the one with a job, so I'll take the extra hours. Unfortunately, it comes at the cost of study time for Devildog. While this one day a week of school works for my work schedule, it doesn't work well for him. I hate that I leave him with the Blur all day, but it was the other way around when he was working. Except, I was home with all the kids while he worked overnights, so there was the juggle of schedules, trying to keep the kids quiet so he can sleep during the day, and be a geographical single parent in the evenings to 4 kids with a broad space between ages. But he manages as best as he can. He does a lot more than some guys I know. I am one of those that firmly believe that every father should spend time as a stay-at-home dad so he understands that moms are not all sitting on the blessed assurance all day.
This level of busy brings about some neglecting of friendships. I see posts on Crackbook of a group of people I know that do stuff, and wonder why I wasn't included. Oh yea, I am not in contact with them as much. It's a brief passing online as I read their updates, and wave as I pass them in the parking lot.
I am having a Pampered Chef party on Friday. I have invited friends I haven't seen in a while. If they don't buy any kitchen stuff then I at least hope I will have an opportunity to catch up with some of them. I've contemplated having a movie night or game night at my house just so I can do something fun with friends. I think a game night would be more fun since movie tastes vary so much among my friends.
Now, pardon me, I have to WHOOSH myself off to get more stuff done today.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Clone has been struggling with estimating in her math class. She's overthinking it. I have to admit, that when I was her age, I did too. It's a genetic mishap. I've gotten much better with my estimating skills as I've become an adult. I learned to underestimate my paycheck, and overestimate the bills being paid. It might only leave a $.50 difference, but that's two quarters in my favor, and not the other way.
Estimation plays into so many things in our daily life. As a mom, each subsequent child often picks up quirks, skills, and milestones a little earlier than their older siblings did. There are more examples from which to glean ideas, and more people to influence them. And of course, Blur is a toddler who is already in my eyes a 2 year old, and has been for a while. I'm not trying to rush things. But realistically, she's doing things that a lot of kids don't do at this age. I still wish she was unable to simply stand on her tippy toes and reach the stuff on the counter in the kitchen. Reality is that she's a crafty bugger who is on the go (hence the alias), and you can almost see the gears turning in her brain. She watches what we do, then she simply does it - on a 2 year old's skill level.
Recently, we encountered the parish school's girls' basketball team practicing one day. A ball got loose, and Blur ran after it saying "I get it!" And then she started dribbling the ball just like the big kids were doing. This honestly didn't surprise me so much as entertain me. I overestimate my kids' abilities, and adjust according to performance. It's part of my slacker-mom philosophy to make the kids independent of me.
Eventually, they surprise you in a way that takes a share of the load of your shoulders. Imagine my joy as a parent, to be able to head back to the kitchen to clean up after dinner, while one of my boys sat down at the table to help Clone understand how to estimate some numbers Devildog had given her, as he excused himself, a few minutes prior. And she seemed to understand it. She and I didn't end up cranky and frustrated with it and each other either. That's really important during what I call "mind your manners week".
Don't underestimate the ability of a 9 year old girl to have an epic tantrum over math because she's frustrated and mom's patience for teaching it to her is fading faster than the sunset the first day of that Fall time change.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Soon & very soon, we shall see the three

Update on PreggoX3. She's 31 weeks (I think) and went for her OB appt today. Last week they scheduled the cesarean for October 3rd, but today's appointment revealed one of the boys is having difficulty. At this point he should be practicing breathing but he isn't. PreggoX3 thinks it's because he's smushed at the bottom of the barrel and he has zero room to move. It was concluded that since she's got another appointment on Friday, that they'll look at him again and determine if they need to deliver the babies or not. If it looks like he's still struggling, then Mama will get a round of steroids and check the kiddos again the next day, and if that hasn't helped then she'll get another round and they'll deliver early next week.

Friday, September 9, 2011

You need more than a nose

To the brunette chick driving the dark blue Jeep Liberty on Beach Boulevard:

Dumbass. You were in the RIGHT hand lane for how long before you needed to turn LEFT? Then you decided that you could cut behind the guy on a motorcycle, and then cut me off to get to that left turn lane. Yes, people. far right hand lane, ALL the way across 2 other lanes of traffic to get to the left lane. The light turned red and I rolled down my window to yell at her about cutting too close behind the guy on the motorcycle. He was not on a crotch rocket, he was on a Harley cruiser. It's a TOTALLY different personality of bike, and either way, neither motorcycle can just stop like a car can. She said she "missed him by a nose". Get real you dink, all he had to do was simply ease off the accelerator and you would've been PARKING on him.

I am so sorry your mama didn't teach you to use the common sense God gave a dog, and I hope and pray you aren't the reason someone is seriously injured or becomes a traffic fatality. I imagine you cutting off someone like Devildog driving a Bronco and you get encouraged onto the shoulder or median. Or better yet, a cop catches you doing that stupid crap and you have to go take a motorcycle class as punishment.

I have always been aware of motorcyclists on the road, as I've always known they lack the same type of stability of a vehicle with more than 2 wheels. My attention was mostly on the jackasses on crotch rockets zipping in and out of traffic and being douchbags on the road. I would also leave room behind a motorcycle in front of me, and then get road rage with people who assume I left that space for their ricer to occupy. However, since Devildog bought the neighbor's bike to save $120 a week in gas in the Bronco, I've been even more aware of all of them.

It's appalling to know that so many people in this city are selfish jerks who won't let you get over when you have your signal blinking for half a mile, and then get pissed when you finally can't wait any longer for them to stop being a lane hog and you have to cut them off because everyone behind them is failing to leave enough space to toss a tuna can between them and the next guy. I don't know if it's because I drive a minivan, but I'm going with that theory. If I'm driving the Bronco, I'm given the chance to move over to the next lane. But I have to get evil in the mom-bus. If mini-van drivers are stereotyped as drivers that will cut you off, then perhaps it's because everyone around us assumes that we're driving a hearse and we'll slow them down, so nobody lets the mini-van drivers change lanes. Likewise, not all motorcyclists drive like the unsunny side of a mule either.

And no matter what, EVERY vehicle needs a lot more space than given, so that colliding with any other vehicle is "missed by a nose", when in fact you need to be missing them by a whole vehicle's length.

All of this makes me even more grateful that my merchandising job allows some flexibility. I don't always have to be on the road at peak traffic times. It means I don't have to be in traffic full of selfish, distracted, me-first-forget-what-I-learned-about-taking-turns-in-Kindergarten drivers who fail to see beyond their own dang noses.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bacon Hot Sauce

They'll put anything in hot sauce anymore.

The males in my house like things spicy. The 16 year old puts hot sauce on almost everything, short of deserts. I mean almost everything. So, when the opportunity presented itself to try a free bottle of Bacon Hot Sauce, in exchange for my review, I jumped on it.

When it arrived, the guys were excited to see it. My husband saw it and said "keep it out of reach of the children". He wanted it all for himself. The boys were anxious to try it. Enchiladas were on the menu for dinner, so it just made sense to try it with hot sauce. Plus we had some leftover pizza in the fridge, and apparently my son who puts hot sauce on everything but dessert liked it.

Since I spend a lot of time on Crackbook, I tagged my son and asked what he thought of it. His answer? " It was da bomb diggity :D
But could have been a little more spicy, but I like the smokey flavor it has to it"

I tasted a bit of it, and first thing I noticed was a smoke flavor, then my tongue said "oh HAI!" to the hot stuff. Or maybe it was something other than "hai". My tongue is not fond of spicy things. However, for a chick that isn't into spicy stuff, I'll tell you this stuff has interesting flavor and enough spice that you know it's there, but you still have flesh on your tongue when you're done eating.

So, if you want to try a different kind of hot sauce, then perhaps Bacon Hot Sauce should be on your repertoire. And as a belated Labor Day Sale (hey, they were busy celebrating) enter the code "labor" when you checkout, for 10% off your order. I don't know how long this code will work, and I will update the post as soon as I know one way or another.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Telling it like it is

I was talking to my neighbor, K, earlier and our conversation came around to Thursday's adventures. At the last minute, I landed some tickets to a football game, and took Clone, Beast & Devildog, while the oldest sat on the youngest at home. He was a good sport about it, despite his displeasure at the short notice. Of course we got home late, and being a school day, Clone still had to get up and get to school. K was surprised I sent Clone to school after being out late the night before. I'm not raising slackers, these spawn are being taught a work ethic early. Well, K said that it was a good way to raise them, and went on to say that the last time Clone was at K's house, K was folding hers and her 23 year old son's laundry.

Clone: What are you doing?
K: Folding mine and J's laundry.
Clone: ooh, he's LAZYYY! Heck, I'm nine and I do my own laundry! You should make him do his own clothes, he's a big boy.
K's son, J: Shut up, [Clone].
Clone: welllll, it's truuuue.

And you know she had that smarmy, know-it-all, nine year old tone and attitude when she said it too. She's becoming another one that doesn't mince words either.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

He dresses better now

And so do I. When we met, I was wearing white shorts and we'll just say my undergarments were not suitable for white shorts, ok? Fast forward a couple weeks. When I first really laid eyes on him, he was sweaty, mismatched, and bouncing a basketball. I'm a sucker for nice eyes.

Our first date was with his dad and then-stepmother at Famous Amos & then we went to a downtown venue on the river. I'm not interested in re-creating that date, any more than I am interested in digging up what we wore that day either.

So today we're taking a much needed leisurely pace, dinner is in the crockpot (ham & potatoes with a packet of onion soup mix and some water if you're curious) and we're making a dent in the Clone's excessive laundry. Devildog left a short time ago to go play softball. I am thankful that his outlet is softball, as there are worse things he could be doing.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to go to any of his games in a long while. It's rather difficult to enjoy watching the game when I have to constantly herd a cat (Blur). She's a busy bugger and containing her is virtually impossible. She, like her siblings, must run and play and explore when ever the opportunity arises. Plus it's been hotter than hades itself here, and when I went outside a bit ago, I could have simply cooked my dinner on my doorstep. If I'm going to miss seeing him play ball, I can be comfortable indoors with air conditioning, and not get bleacher butt. That's not pretty either.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Random Wet T-shirt contest

As I drove home from taking Clone to school, my travel path got gloomier and gloomier looking. The outer bands of Hurricane Irene were swiping the coast and bringing unpleasant weather. I got out of the mom-bus just in time for things to get really intense. I decided I needed to bring in the flag that Devildog posted on the fence since it was going to get ugly today. Well that got me, and my shirt doused with rain even more. The bottom edge of the flag pole gets hung up in the bracket because it's curling up a bit. Then the garage door didn't like the correct code and I had to re-enter it. Meanwhile I'm getting pummeled with rain and that garage door couldn't open fast enough. I got in the house and it looked like I got hosed down for a wet t-shirt contest that I didn't want to enter.
And it's supposed to rain like that again when I go back to get Clone from school. The rainy day dismissal should be realllllly interesting. We'll see if the new principal has changed that too.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Just nod and smile

You probably already know this. My husband and I have 4 kids. They range in age from 2 to 18. The first two are 15 months apart, and having had them at such a young age, I was fine with being the only girl in the house, and not having any more children. God laughed at my Grand Plan of Marvelous Theory. So, 7 years later my Clone arrived, and 7 years after that, the Blur landed on scene - quite literally. Blur exited so fast the doctor almost didn't get gloves on, and she certainly did no catching of the human torpedo.
I can't tell you how many times someone has been amazed that I have four, or that I look old enough to have an EIGHTEEN year old. I'm quick to tell them about the various friends who have more kids than we have. Seriously people, four kids isn't all that large a family, but it's not without advantages. Long term, I have a larger pool of elderly tush wipers, or people willing to share the cost of nursing home care for me if none of them kill me before then. I unintentionally spaced them apart and ended up with built-in babysitters. There's the side benefit of those babysitters realizing how much work kids are, and do everything possible to avoid making any of their own. I am soooo not ready to be a grandma before I'm fifty 65.

And your comments? UNoriginal. How about saying "LOVE IT!" or "awesome!" instead of the trite junk? If you have more than 1.5 kids, I'm sure you've heard it all too.

Don't you know what causes that? why yes, Devildog & I have had a good 20 years practice. Or my favorite response that makes the guys blush? ::serious face:: "no. did you want to show me?"

Getting fixed? well it's very CLEARLY OBVIOUS that nothing is broken and all systems work as intended. Why does no one ask if stupid people are going to get fixed? Oh wait, they're the ones asking us if we're getting fixed.

Done? yes, I was done with the last 3. (Instead of saying "crap happens", I should probably start saying "sex happens when you're married")

Hands full: yes, so is my brain, and right now it's about to explode for being overworked. I've lost 28% of my cognitive function just growing these humans. I don't know if it will ever return, and I hope coffee hasn't killed the remaining brain cells.

Busy: duh. Can you imagine if I was one of those moms that scheduled my kids for activities? oy!

Catholic? Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. But my husband is not. So really, that doesn't have as much to do with it as you might assume.

"I don't know how you do it" - I don't. I try, but a lot gets past me, and I pray it's not a big mess. I attempt to delegate. It has mixed results.

"I barely handle one, I don't know how you handle four"
I don't handle it, I just live it. And if you're constantly entertaining your only child, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG! Stop living FOR your kids and live WITH them. And by that, I mean "in conjunction with" your kids. I can't tell you how many times I've said that every mother must establish an identity outside of being someone's spouse or mom. Give those kids the tools to function independently of you so you can have a life of your own. Don't coddle them, constantly entertain them, or do everything for them. It's your job as a mother to put yourself out of work. Don't freak out when it happens, just get your own life and enjoy it.

Now, pardon me, but Blur has gained possession of the remote and that is NOT a good thing. And my coffee got cold while I typed this.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Last Hurrah

We hit the beach one last time this summer before school starts tomorrow. My husband and his friend like to go to the beach on the north side of the city where you can still drive on the beach. It's an ordeal and a drive, nevermind that we live 5 or so miles from other beaches that you have to park and schlep. I don't need to camp out at the beach, but they like it. So does Blur. Today's visit brought us to the beach when the tide was coming in, so parking was limited. We ventured to a spot on the other side of the jetty as that was the only available place for our crowd. Four households converged, and we took up a chunk of real estate. As it turned out, being on that side of the jetty was great for Blur, especially since we forgot her life jacket. She could play within our eyesight and we didn't have to worry about her getting knocked around like she had previously. And like every place this little beauty goes, she made friends there.
Now, getting there is not a hurrah. It's more like an aw, hell. Devildog is good about loading up the Bronco with the stuff we need, but there is a lot of packing involved to have the luxury of grilling on the beach. Blur has moments that she fights with us to get IN the vehicle to go somewhere. Then there are times, she's tired of being in the car and she's had her fill. Tell her she's going to the beach, and she's willing to walk there if that's what it takes. The drive takes about 30 minutes, and about 15 minutes into it, she was asking to unbuckle. When we left, she was tired and cranky, and told her brother she wanted him to get out of the truck. She's a demanding little thing, isn't she?

It will be interesting when the kids are off at their first day of school, and how she handles it with all 3 of her siblings gone from the house all day.

side note: I went wandering my blogroll after posting this, and wouldn't you know it.. a few days ago, someone else said they went to the beach for a last hurrah before school started. I swear to you, I heard Hitchcock music for a second. That, and I really did NOT plagiarize. I mean, I have clearly neglected my blog for real life and that other vortex that shall not be named. So honestly, I didn't steal that phrase, and the beach idea was totally the gang of husbands' idea. I would've gladly sat at home clipping coupons or playing with my yarn.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

fiber funny

One of my yarn shop pals brought this to my attention. Not everyone understands the appeal of knitting and crocheting and what it does for people like me. Yes, it's just string and a hook or some pointy sticks. Yes, I could go pay $5 for some sweater that everybody else got from the big box super-retailer. But, I do enjoy taking a length of string and making it into something else. I'm trying to use up my current yarn stash to get rid of the cheap stuff I bought as a newb who didn't know better. I couldn't imagine paying $5 for a ball or skein of yarn, much less a sweater's worth of it at that price. Now - I get it. I understand the pull of nicer yarn, and want to upgrade my stash. So, I found myself involved with a blanket project group, and now have several squares crafted of acrylic yarn awaiting my next trip to the post office. It's a win-win, in that I deplete the stash and the yarn gets put to good use and blesses some other folks. Yes, I got the yarn with the intention of making things for specific people out of it. However, if in the time since 2005 when I figured out the crochet hook, and 2007 when someone helped me learn the knitting needles, I have not found the first end of those skeins and made those intended projects - it is time for the yarn to be elsewhere.
Which leads me to this: the nicer yarn is apparently addicting. Someone related the addiction to something non-knitters could probably understand a little better. So here you go, The Yarn/Drug Compendium.

Monday, July 4, 2011

ABC's of Feisty

  • Age: 35
  • Bed size: queen
  • Chore I dislike: cleaning the fridge
  • Dogs: none
  • Essential start to your day: No talking till I've had my coffee - cream & sugar.
  • Favorite color: blue
  • Gold or silver: gold
  • Height: 5’ 4"
  • Instruments that you can play: none - former Euphonium/Baritone horn player
  • Job title: wife, mom, & book slinger
  • Kids: Oldest, 18. Beast, 16. Clone, 9. Blur, 1
  • Live: North Florida. And no, it is NOT Georgia.
  • Mom’s name: Mom
  • Nicknames: Several, including some unprintable words.
  • Overnight hospital stays: four - something about spawning.
  • Pet peeve: I'm deathly allergic to B.S. & stupidity.
  • Quote from a movie: Hakuna Matata? Heck, I don't watch many movies, much less remember them enough to quote them.
  • Righty or lefty: Righty
  • Sibling: #4 of 6 for dad. #1 of 3 for mom.
  • Time you wake up: at the last possible minute.
  • Urban or Rural: somewhere in between.
  • Vegetables: I don't eat enough of them.
  • What makes you run late: anything and everything. Kids, my own A.D.D., I'm better about being on time.
  • X-rays: dental, wrist, full spinal
  • Yummy food you make: cookies, pork chops in sour cream, rubber chicken
  • Zoo favorite animal: the ones behind the safety of walls and gates.

Parenting PSA

Do not act as a helicopter hovering, or a lawnmower to plow down obstacles for your children. You will assuredly end up with full sized ninnies who can't handle the simplest of things when they get remotely unpleasant. If the worst you can handle is a frown, the failure rests with those who did not raise you to learn how to put on the big pants and deal with it.

A few people who criticized my parenting in the past can suck dirt off my shoes. Because the approach I took with my kids is reflecting as such that my kids can handle life in general, and function independently of me and even go so far as to help other people. So my insistence that the boys learn to cook and do laundry is not selfish and lazy on my part. True, I may have had selfish and lazy intentions because I was tired of doing so much for so many capable beings, but at the same time, I've long held that it's a life skill they must learn anyway. I have other interests that I want to develop. I don't want my daughter-in-law to hate me because I failed to teach her husband the basics. I needed to have my own hobbies and life away from my children so that when they grow up, move out into the world and have lives and families of their own, I am not that meddlesome MIL who drives a wedge somewhere it doesn't belong. I don't want my grandchildren living across the country because I'm a pest. If they're that far away, at least it ought to be due to jobs or something else more worthwhile than evading an intruding old woman. If I must invade their territory, I at least hope to be helpful, and maybe entertaining while there.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

It always starts at home.

It's a sure sign Devildog watches too much wrestling and UFC fights, oh and boxing. The Blur was laying on the couch last night, slapping the cushion saying "One! Two! Deeng Deeng Deeng!" repeatedly.

This makes me glad I have managed to control my colorful language. She's already saying "oh dang it!" so "motherless goat" is next I'm sure.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad!

It's my dad's 84th birthday. It's his brother's 88th birthday. It is also the 92nd anniversary of their parents' wedding.
He'll tell you Grandpa was a mathematician, but I'll tell you that Grandma had a very regular cycle.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hanging On

Some days, I feel just like this apple looks. Hanging on by the end of my small stem, clinging to the very net that holds me together. My net is not nylon and red though. It's blonde, brown, red, tan, Hispanic, Irish, Philipino, or who knows what. I have survived this long in my life with the help of many people around me, total strangers, and people I know solely online. I've not gotten where I am alone, and I'm sure I won't get where I'm heading without a few flight attendants to help me.

You know it's busy when my oldest sister calls the house to tell me about our Dad's birthday dinner on Sunday, and tells my 16 year old that I need to call her more often. This from the sister that just doesn't do talking on the phone. Somehow, I channel that Jewish mother voice when I hear her in my head, saying "You should call me more often".

My job takes me to a few stores each week. Then for 2 weeks out of the month, I squeeze in a bunch more stores that we visit monthly. Those 2 weeks are the ones that usually have me looking like this apple. The kids and husband are tired of "Fridge Fiesta" extending beyond the pre-trash-day Thursday. I tire of food I didn't cook. Yes, I'm weird like that. I enjoy cooking dinner for my family. I just don't enjoy forcing my brain to think farther ahead than the next 3 minutes and plan meals, because I'm constantly trying to stay ahead of the Blur's antics.

She's been in extraordinary form lately because it's been either too smoky from the vast number of wildfires surrounding us, or the heat index is high enough to simply put food outside to cook - thereby sparing the expense of using a stove and the associated cost of the air conditioner trying to negate that extra heat. So she's got cabin fever and she's making me and everyone else crazy. Devildog has homework to do, and I have work to submit, and now Beast has summer school work to do daily. The day to day stuff of family life still must be done. And my brain reaches shut-down point and all I can muster is vegging out, with the occasional brainless bit of crocheting a blanket square. You know it's bad when you go get the mail and she's very excited to go with you. If she'd sit still long enough, I might be able to teach her to knit so she can fidget productively.

What? She's gotta get a break from her Ph.D. thesis at some point.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How to deal with a teenager: send him packing.

I'm down a child, and my house is quieter for it. Of course the Blur makes up a lot of the Oldest Child's noise deficit created by his absence. She's taken to shrieking and squealing at every opportunity. She's proven very well that her vocal cords work, as well as the lungs, and that the decibel tolerance of my ear drums is significantly gone. She's also proven that her brother the Beast shouldn't breed any time soon, as he's got a short attention span and is long on impatience with her. My oldest is now currently spending his summer before his senior year of high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He turns 18 in a couple weeks, which makes me feel like I am old, but then again, it feels like "hey wait, I just turned 18 last week myself" too. Oh and it may surprise you to know this: He also has his learner's permit.

Yes, I violated my own rule for my kids to drive. Yes, I allowed a looophole in the one that requires them to get a job to pay their insurance when the bill comes due. The PreggoX3 is on bedrest and since she blacked out a few weeks ago, she's not allowed to drive herself to the multitude of doctor appointments a high risk pregnancy entails, and the stuff involved with the BabiesX3 big sister. DadX3 is trying to finish his PhD stuff at U-Mich and GTFO of that forsaken place. So the Oldest child is up there serving as what amounts to a wife for H.D. because she can't be the kind of wife she's accustomed to being, minus any sexual favors of any party aforementioned. This is not the boy scouts here ok? So far he's learning to drive from a person who is an excellent teacher of anything she teaches. And she's probably going to teach him all the other things he refuses to act like he's learned from us. Because she's not his mother and kids don't listen to their own parents. They will listen to anyone not related to them by blood, and the child free siblings of their parents.
That's ok though, because PreggoX3 and I are doing our part to overpopulate the world so that our siblings don't have to do it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Zumba & Midway Island

My Saturday was totally exhausting. For starters, my friend Jackie teaches Zumba at a gym near her house across the big ditch from me. I've been interested in this fitness thing, but just haven't gone to a class. So, Jackie talked to Father H and worked it out so that whatever is collected at the door for class fees, would get donated to the church for something. Today's class was to help fund VBS. Jackie took it easy on us, and it kicked my gringa butt. But it works all the areas I need to reshape after the Blur-baking flabbed it out for me. Plus the chiropractor has been after me to rebuild my core muscles. So this would make him happy too. I can see why it's so popular.
Then I rested, cleaned my kitchen, and next thing I knew, it was time to get dressed for the Midway Dinner. The local Navy League branch puts on this big dinner to commemorate the Victory at Midway Island. There was even a record set as having the largest in attendance, totaling 624.
Dress was formal or business, and I debated what to wear. I didn't have time or budget to go shopping, and my luck nothing would've suited my preferences to leave cash and prizes to the imagination. I remembered the formals in my closet. Yes, I have dresses from high school. One was too big because I was pregnant with the oldest when I wore it, and one is quite honestly very dated looking. It either needs to meet a tailor or my daughter's dress up bin. There's the bridesmaid dress from SIL's wedding, but Devildog didn't want to see me in that again after I wore it for the wedding, and then Easter. (Yes, I went there. I wore the dress for Easter with a short sleeved sweater to cover my bare shoulders. I don't wear spaghetti straps to church either. I'm old school like that, just not at the point of veiling.) I didn't want to wear a black and red dress that I wore for Christmas that Devildog said he preferred. Do you see me rolling my eyes? Oh dang, will you catch my left one please before it rolls into traffic? Thanks.
Then, I remembered "oh wait! the one I wore to the Marine Corps Birthday ball!" The last time I tried it on, was several months after the Blur was born, and I still hadn't shed the hips enough to wear it. I nearly ripped seams. I never got around to consigning that one either. I am glad I kept it. It was open back though, which was a ballsy move for me 12 years ago when I wore it last. Having classic tastes pays dividends in the long term, and for cost-per-wear. I got the dress off season and dirt cheap. I think I paid $40 for it in October, because it was still in the store after the Spring prom season. It has a side split in the skirt, when at that point, everything had a split up the front of one leg. I remember that detail because I was mildly annoyed when I bought it that it didn't have a front split. But it was blue, and I look good in anything blue. This time, I tried it on, and it fit. I'd had 2 more babies since wearing it so I needed some help in the northern end of things. I didn't have time to take it to the seamstress for the sewn in boobs because I was trying to find shoes and a wrap for it, so I bought some sew in boobs at JoAnn and did it myself. It's far from a professional job. At least I wasn't directing traffic or looking like I'd had a mastectomy. I did do some power, mission-mode shopping to find shoes and a shawl - to no avail for either. I'm thankful for other big-footed friends with silver shoes, and my nearby JoAnn store having just enough navy chiffon & ample supply of steam-a-seam.
We had a good time, debaucherous group that we were. The friend that gave us tickets seated us with Dick Stratton. Most of the tables had a significant designee such as a POW, wounded warrier, or VIP of some sort. Ours had the most debaucherous POW, who spent almost the longest amount of time as a POW. When forced to make a propaganda video telling how well they were being treated, Mr. Stratton, out of sight of his captors and between his knees, extended both middle fingers on camera. At that point in the ceremonies, we understood why the softball goons got seated with that particular POW. We had a good time with Dick, and his wife Alice. Interestingly enough to me, Alice & I both wore long, navy blue dresses. Hers had way more sparkle to it though. I should've gotten pictures of that stuff, but didn't. I didn't think to get someone to take pictures of me and the Devildog, before he had enough alcohol to make his liver spasm. We did get a bartender to take a picture of us before we left.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Birthdays and brains

Clone turned 9 Tuesday. NINE. That's like - half grown already. I kind of feel old, but then I realize I'm apparently not allowed to do that yet. She has a sister behind her that is running headlong to age 2 later this year. But to have 2 teenage boys, and now an official pre-teen girl...I think I'll just feel a little old. She asked for makeup for her birthday.

I've been raptured by Facebook apparently, because my ADD, instant-gratification self seems to be addicted to the stuff. That, and I've been crocheting. I tried a new pattern, which means I have a new mindless project that I can do when I need to unwind but can't muster the cognitive function to follow another pattern. I have too many things on my knitting needles and crochet hooks. I have let myself get unfocused again. School is out for the summer next week. I have mixed thoughts about this given Devildog's class schedule and homework load in conjunction with my varying workload, and the propensity for the kids to get bored easily. I've been trying to figure out how to meld it all this summer and my brain shuts down before I start.
I've been dealing with frequent visits to the pediatrician with the youngest. Her nickname has been changed to The Blur. For the sake of fewer keystrokes, it's just Blur. I took her for 18 month shots and at that point she weighed 21 pounds, at 32 inches tall. She was "on target" according to the CDC growth chart for height, but less than the 5th percentile for weight. There was bloodwork to check thyroid levels, and some other basics. Everything came back negative or normal. Then we had to do another round of labs to verify more clearly the thyroid levels, as well as collect exit samples to rule out parasitic causes for such a peanut. I was willing to entertain the thyroid concerns because there is a family history of thyroid stuff. Outside of finding anything in the labwork, I think she simply hit the genetic lottery. My dad weighed 155 pounds till he was 70. Then he gained 5 pounds. I weigh 10 pounds more than I did in high school, and I'm sitting on that leftover 10 from growing the Blur. It's slowly leaving, but I'm out of shape and that's another issue altogether - albeit related. My brother is a skinny rail. My kids eat way better than my siblings and I did as children. I offer the Blur everything we eat for dinner. She loves fruits, and don't you dare try to avoid a choking hazard by cutting her grapes. She will not eat them if you do.

She's an independent-minded toddler who is constantly moving from the time her eyes open till we can finally get her to stop moving to go to sleep. I can't get any knitting or crocheting done without setting down the work to keep her off the monkey bars, or she's trying to "hep" me. Her vocabulary is growing exponentially, and she's putting words together in sentences. We can have little conversations with her. She's starting to articulate her needs, either with words or a few of the signs we've taught her. She's learning Spanish words. She climbs, jumps, runs, rides scooter toys, puts on her own shoes, dresses, undresses, brushes her hair and teeth, washes her hands, and rips off her diapers and prefers to be naked. Till she wants to get dressed. She's interested in using the big potty. That has occurred twice in the last 2 days, but I'm not holding hope she'll be the youngest and easiest trained. I'm still convinced that she'll be like her sister and pee on the floors for the next 2 years.

In short, she's hitting or exceeding every other developmental milestone for children her age.
And by the time she's 9, I think Persnickety will have a nice long Ph.D. thesis to edit for her.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it but I feel fine

So, all this hype about a vaporizing human race got some people hungry, and several parties were held on what was supposed to be the final moments of the world. Someone misread the manual again.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Foray into Gourmet

Devildog and I were watching Food Network on our afternoon off recently. We found this episode 5 Ingredient Fix and it was so awesome and yummy looking that I HAD to try these recipes. Except there was little interest in the tomatoes & blue cheese, therefore I wasn't going to try it. So I set out to find the round bakeware for the chocolate souffle, and added the steak, shallots, russet potatoes, heavy cream, and chocolate to my grocery list. I found an appropriate souffle baking dish in my friend Bridget's cabinets, sparing me the exhausting search to find one that my wallet was willing to buy at the moment.

I started dinner late on Saturday, so of course it was consumed late too. It's nothing new for us to eat at other people's bedtime. I've been told by my latina friends that I am the whitest hispanic they know. Yet, none of them have taught me to make empanadas - go figure. It was 9 PM before I was finished following the steak au poivre (oh pwahv) instructions, while concurrently working on the mashed potatoes and fried shallot instructions. This A.D.D. brain was in overdrive like a redneck's 4x4 in the mud. It took me 2 hours total to navigate this unfamiliar culinary territory, and I was thankful the steak went into the oven to finish cooking while I worked on the other stuff. And if I'd gotten thinner steaks, they would've cooked long before the potatoes finished boiling. Get the big boys, you won't regret it.
I later figured out that I should fry the shallots first, because it's ok if they get cold, plus they require a little more attention than I gave them. So, next time I make them, I will delegate the potato peeling, cutting and initial boiling to a capable teenager. For the sake of time and the fact that I cooked an entire 5 pound bag of russets, I used the multi chopper my sister in law gave me for my birthday. I peeled them, ran them through the wedger, then cut the wedges into smaller boilable pieces. It is so much faster for me that way. I don't have a ricer like the TV chef used, so I was able to just use my hand masher after boiling them sufficiently. Fork tender essentially means you stick a fork in a potato piece and it falls apart. When you cook it that long, hand mashing means you don't make glue of the potatoes. And the fried shallots? oh. em. gee. Even Devildog who doesn't eat onions, ate the shallots. I think it's because they were fried. The steak sauce was not terribly difficult to make, and I substituted rice vinegar for the sherry vinegar because that's what I had on hand. And the sauce works wonderfully with both the steak and the potatoes. This will make a wonderful Sunday dinner, or anniversary/first date/special occasion cooked at home. Heck, it will make a Tuesday dinner incredible. The leftovers in that picture are what I ate while I composed the post and baked. Somehow I managed that bit of multitasking by some miracle. I fed the kids, then waited for Devildog to join me for dinner. We had a nice conversation, and a lot of it was raving about the food, the flavors and my ability to cook this meal without burning something. He mentioned how I used to screw up food really badly when we were first married. Considering my mother could mangle a box of mac & cheese with the instructions printed on the back of it, and never having been taught to cook - it's a miracle my siblings and I can make edible food. Actually, my mom put a couple people in my path that shared their knowledge with me. As an adult, I sought out the advice and instruction of others so I could stand to eat my own cooking. And I know I stink at sharing what I know with my kids, but I'm working to improve that.

I wanted to make the chocolate souffle for dessert, but by that point in the day I was exhausted and my legs and feet were really ticked at me. I set out to do that on Sunday when I got home from church. So that's how this post is getting written. The souffle is in the oven. I started taking pictures but got a phone call in the middle of everything. My pregnant-with-triplets friend was needing to moan to someone. Call it returning a favor for the times I moaned while pregnant with the mini-human who has become known as The Blur. So there are not as many pictures as I wanted to have here. The instructions for the souffle on the website leave a lot to be desired. It's not idiot-proof, and the instructions are written like every fool has made a souffle and knows what they're doing. If I hadn't seen the show to get an idea of what to do, I wouldn't have even attempted this dessert. This same logic applies to some knitting patterns, but that's a different post for another day.

In any case, the recipe calls for 8 ounces of good quality dark chocolate. Because I'm heathen and I don't know my dark chocolates, I went with what I know - Hershey's. Eight ounces equates to about five and a half bars of the 6 pack. Yes, I did use my postal scale to weigh my chocolate. I chopped it up with a piece of wax paper over the cutting board, to keep the chocolate from getting stuck to it. I almost forgot to put the butter in with the chocolate in the double boiler setup. Then I set out to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, and oy, that takes a while even with a mixer. I had the 16 year old beat the egg yolks while I was working on getting the egg whites to poof. At that point the phone rang, and photography stopped. Then there is the matter of folding the egg whites gently, and still mixing it with the other stuff. I had help from the Clone to do that. I then poured (probably should have scooped with the spoonula instead) into the buttered & sugared baking dish. It went into a casserole dish to catch any drips and into the oven. It's in need of cleaning as it is, why make it worse. I cooked it 30 minutes but it wasn't done, so I had to put it back in the oven a while longer. I didn't think lava cake middle was what I should have gotten for a souffle, right?

When it finally came out of the oven, I cut a wedge of it, and scooped a dollop of coffee flavored ice cream on it. It's what I had already and it was YUMMY that way. I still need to find my own souffle dish, and the PreggoX3 suggested a copper mixing bowl for the egg whites. I think next time I make the souffle, I will use a wider dish, and I've seen other instructions/comments that there should be a water bath in the oven for it. All I know is this is tasty, but requires a little work and care. And the instructions on the Food Network website could stand some clarification and enhancement.

PreggoX3 said she wanted a picture sent to her. So, how about an entire blog post? Is that better?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

generating buzz

A couple years ago, I joined a site to be what is called a Bzz Agent. When I sign up for a campaign, I usually get samples, and coupons from the company. I have tried some new things that impressed me. I joined a campaign that I ended up not liking once. The coffee mug I got broke a couple months later too.
How it works is you sign up, get your kit, and then try whatever it is. If you like it, great. If you don't, ok too. However, it is asked that we spread the word about things to others, with the requirement that we are to disclose that we are a Bzz Agent and we received coupons or samples. If we get coupons we are asked to share them with friends. Then we go back to the website and submit a Bzz Report, noting our conversations, and the feedback we get from the person with whom we shared the information.
I'm currently involved in a CoverGirl campaign for their NatureLuxe products, that use cucumber, jojoba & rosehip in the foundation and mango & shea butter in the gloss. So far, I like the foundation, but it's a sheerer finish than my regular foundation. I think when I picked Oak as my foundation color, I probably did get the right shade for my summer skin color. I haven't submitted an official review of it yet because I'm waiting to use it for a few days to see if I have any reactions to it. So far it's nice, feels very very light, but with a question mark. I need to up my water intake to make sure this microscopic itch is my own dehydration, or if it's a reaction to an ingredient in the foundation. I suspect the former actually. Ever since I lost my Flylady water bottle, my water intake went to nil because the other water bottles we own are not that great. This Bzz kit also came with a sheer lip gloss. I like how it feels, smells and the level of color. I'm not a gloss wearing kind of girl, so I am not sure if frequent reapplication is common, or if I am a freak of nature. (And no, you may not answer that one for me.) The Little (aka The Blur) came up to me yesterday when she saw me applying the lip gloss. She pointed to her mouth, saying "pee-yee baby!" (pretty baby). She wanted lip gloss too.
I will have to post again later to update my thoughts once I've concluded whether the problem was me or the makeup. But so far, I do like this, and may consider switching my foundation to this one. I was happy to see that both the lip gloss and foundation contain SPF 10 and 15 respectively. For me, that's a nice selling point, because I'm fair skinned (that whole Irish thing) and I don't tan easily. Plus I'm in my mom-bus a lot, and the windows only do so much. I like this SPF inclusion because the sunscreens I've tried previously make my face greasy, which in Florida heat (blast furnace really), that makes my face sweat more and feels gross.
If you've tried this, what do you think? Did it work for you? If not, would you give it a try?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

funny kid stuff

The Little has been dubbed "The Blur" by Devildog. It's fitting. Shopping at Target with her yesterday was a prime example.

The Little Blur is also coming along with an increasing vocabulary. Her recent cuteness is mealtime prayer. Since I'm such a bad Catholic, we use the one I learned in 2nd grade, instead of the standard "Bless us, O Lord...":
God is good.
God is great.
Let us thank him for our food.
By His hands we are fed.
Thank you Lord for daily bread.
The Little Blur folds her hands, bows her head, and says "God is good. Amen"

It didn't sit well with The Clone for this one to go in today's post, but then again, she never likes when anyone talks about her - good or bad. Oh well, it's staying anyway. She was coloring eggs, and used her white crayon to write on the eggs before dyeing them. She lifted an egg, sucked her teeth, and said "aw man. I spelled 'happy' wrong. That's sad."

Happy Easter.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Balancing Act

One of my high school classmates posted a blog link on Facebook from a frazzled mom trying to balance everything. I can understand that one. I started my family at a young age. I was inordinately fortunate that the guy who was unrelenting in his pursuit of me was raised right, and didn't shirk his responsibilities. This summer will mark 18 years ago that we met. Not everyone can say some or any of that about the person who is their child's other parent. It hasn't been all easy, but that's how life works. It took me a long time to learn how to do for myself. I long neglected the woman who was behind the roles of wife and mother, etc. It made things a big mess of resentment, frustration and unkindness. I don't ever want to find myself there again. There is value in a woman that takes care of herself in the same way she cares for her family. So, yes, I do keep my closet with clothes that make me look good and fit me well. And I can't bring myself to pay full retail for anything, so I look good on a budget too. My husband deserves to see his wife looking nice, and not looking like a schlub. It serves to remind him that he needs to tell me how much he's attracted to me and loves me. Which then reminds me that I need to pay attention to him individually, and not just collectively as if he were one of the children. It's also kind of nice to see the envious look my husband gets from his peers. You can read their faces and almost know what they're thinking. He is indeed a lucky Devildog. His wife still looks good after 4 babies escaped her person, and we're still together this long to boot.

A big part of my parenting philosophy is that I should put myself out of work as a mother. It will allow me to be other things to my children and their children later. I also can't fathom the thought of being a helicopter mommy. Some kids require that, but not mine. I wouldn't dream of being a lawnmower mommy, knocking down the obstacles in front of my children. Lord knows, I grew up having to be my own lawnmower, and that was difficult enough. I can't imagine doing either mowing or hovering for four kids. I'm tired as it is being a slacker mom, I'd be dead if I hovered or mowed. So, I have been teaching my kids those things I call life skills. They are learning to cook, tend house, handle money, and deal with other people. I get looks ranging from impressed amazement to having 12 heads on my shoulders when others hear that my kids do their own laundry from a certain age. I certainly don't want visits home from college to be spent with me doing 3 months' of their laundry. I also don't want to wear those blue gloves to do their laundry, because as teens, they are walking biohazards. So, basically, I equip them to do for themselves, and function independently of me. I don't live my life FOR my children. I live my life WITH them. I pursue my interests, and what makes me happy. Number one, they need to see my example of doing that. Number two, quite simply, I need the break from my kids. Number 3, and quite important - keeping my own self busy will prevent me from being that Mother-in-Law. You know, the meddling, needling, intrusive one that behaves in such a way that the kids move far away because I drive them nuts. In an attempt to get the kids closer, the cajoling, the backhandedness, the everything of a Mother-in-hell, it all backfires. I don't want my grandchildren to see their parents visibly sigh in relief that I left this earth, and them in peace from no longer dealing with my antics.

So, the juggle and struggle becomes worth it in the end, because eventually, I will have put myself out of work as their mother. I will then get the opportunity to learn how to be their friend, and watch what I taught them play out in their own lives. I just pray that my children find mates that are worthy, capable, and balance my children - much like my husband and I are for each other.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Busy birthday weekend

My husband just thinks of his birthday as another ordinary day. I grew up with this mindset in my parents' house, and I didn't like it one bit. Ok, so you don't have to spend your annual salary on a bash to commemorate the day you were born. But just a little sumpthin' to say "woohoo" should be standard. I am thankful for his friends who put out the call to say "hey, lets get together." R & C have been renovating their house, and they had a bit of a house re-warming, plus a few cupcakes since it was Devildog's birthday. Of course, this circle of friends follows the principle "any excuse to drink". While we were there, C & S called him to say "Hey, since we're hosting an oyster roast next weekend, we should watch the race at your house tomorrow. I mean, it is your birthday and all." They brought pretty much all the side dishes. Cleanup was easier than if I'd cooked.
Thankfully I vacuumed Saturday before we left the house. This morning I sorted through the papers on the peninsula in the kitchen before leaving for church.
Thank you FLYLady for your wisdom, that we could host friends without a lot of angst and stress to get the house ready for company. The girls enjoyed the playset Devildog built. The boys fished in the pond and came up empty handed. The guys watched the race. And when they left, I rescued my kitchen and took a nap.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Final Words

Yes, I'm briefly awake in the middle of the night. My brain is weird.

So, the thought came to mind after N.S.'s funeral:
When I die, they're probably going to put something like "Finally got the smartass shut up" on my gravestone.

What epitaph is going on your gravestone?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The power of a shower

Wednesdays are my long days, whether I am home that day or working. The 2 middle kids have religious education classes (aka CCD or PREP) on Wednesday nights. We are gone for part of what I call 'witching hours', but that just means it's a condensed witching hour when we get home. As a busy mom with the kind of life we have here, I'll admit it for the world to see: I don't get a shower every day. The story I stick to is that I'm doing my part to help spare the environment and cut my utility costs. Now, does anyone care to remind my 17 year old this please, since I am always wrong and just a haranguing nag?

Today was one of those days that felt derailed from the time my feet met the floor. About all I got accomplished at home this morning was tidying the laundry room and a long-overdue vacuuming of the air filter. And I washed a load of towels. They're finally in the dryer 14 hours after they started their journey to clean.
A friend of ours died on Sunday-- the terminating, long-coming result of living the hard life of partying and not taking care of the personal temple loaned to us. You can't get on a transplant list when you were already a decidedly non-compliant patient after your oncologist tells you to stop drinking and smoking (everything). I feel most sorry for N.S.'s mother and son. No parent ever in their life imagines the final act of their job as parent to their child is to bury that child. Every child fully expects that at some point they'll say the final goodbye to their parent, but no one expects that before you are of legal age to vote or just barely driving age, you are left half-orphaned. But here it has happened. No matter the timing, circumstances, or quality of relationship you have, losing a parent just plain sucks.

And in all of this, and the lack of planning by N.S. or his family, we then see a friend, T.K. pick up the slack, take Mama by the hand and help her with the legwork of burying her only son. Devildog got home from school this morning, and as I was getting ready to leave, T.K. came over to tell us the funeral arrangements. It ended up with them on the patio, watching the geese fight over the pond territory as they relayed their lamentations over this situation. Finally I realized the time, and stuck my head out there to tell my husband he needed to take over as Mini-Human's monitor, lest she bake some cookies and reprogram the computer while no one is watching. I really had to get to work. I got such a late start to my day, that I didn't get all the service calls on my schedule done. The allotted times are longer than normal, and that last one was likely to take the full time allowed, which I didn't have in my day after the 2nd store visit. The kids had classes and Devildog had homework to do (which I doubt he did.) When we got home, I had a kitchen to clean up since Devildog cooked dinner, and my reports to submit.

I just felt reallllly blegh, and my razor was failing from being used every time I shower (duh, it's DULL, so change it). I sat with Devildog to watch some tv together, but was restless. So I took that shower, shaving with a fresh razor, and shampooing my hair. I think I probably washed about 10 pounds of the blegh, emotional clutter, and my derailed workday. It sort of reset my self, and the gloom swirled down the drain. I emerged gently recharged and without the blegh. By the way, that is a rather inarticulate word, but at this point in my day, be thankful that's what I muster and not something worse.

Final thought that just entered my head as I was proofreading this post: Since my husband is a veteran, he and I qualify for burial next to each other in the National Cemetery. Whoever goes first better pick a good seat.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The things Daddies do for their kids

This weekend we embarked on the brilliant idea that we'd been hatching for quite a while.

That idea? A big giant wooden playset for the younger 2 kids. We had a BIG metal swingset for Clone for her 2nd birthday and kept till we left the hovel. It wasn't worth moving to the new house. She essentially outgrew it about the time she went to elementary school. So we knew with the Mini-Human (aka The Little), we'd need one that would last a few years plus still entertain the Clone too while she's still young.

We found one at Academy Sports & Outdoor for $499, versus the model at the big box home store, or the membership warehouse store, which were more expensive - all models were D.I.Y. unless we paid for someone else to do the dirty work. The box says it takes 2 people 10 hours. I think they based this on the time it takes hired professionals who do such things for a living, not your average joe electrician who has become handy over the years.

If you should ever decide to buy one of these things, there are some parts of the instructions that should be IGNORED. For instance, the slide has 2 preformed plastic sides with a groove for the sheet of long plexiglas. The instructions and schematics say to measure, then drill holes and attach the wooden support with the included bolts etc. Don't drill first, don't even measure. Lay the plexiglass in the sun to soften it a smidge (cuz that's all you'll get unless you're doing this in 100 degree weather in July in Florida), prebend the ends a little, and have an extra set of arms to help you snap the plexiglass into the sides. Then put the wooden supports in behind it where they're supposed to go. Pop the parts back that came out a little when the wooden slats got snapped into the sides of the slide. THEN drill things and use the screws to attach stuff, while your extra set of arms uses counter pressure to keep things from sliding around as you're trying to use power tools. Our slide got drilled 3 times total. Devildog's 1st attempt using the instructions. The 2nd attempt remeasuring, and then the 3rd attempt after I looked at things and said "Let's just put it together first, then use the screws, otherwise who knows how many times you'll be drilling it." He agreed with me and had we done that first, the extra 30 minutes of assembly x3 would have been spent assembling something else. The girls then set out playing on the slide as it laid on the sloped ground in our back yard. They were glad to have something other than the giant box from the playset to slide on finally.

We probably should have just asked some other sucker who bought a giant play set for their box and we could have saved the money, and Devildog could have saved about 20 hours of his Spring Break. It's still not finished, and school resumes in the morning.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

When they still come around

Today's Facebook status:
morning coffee: check. beautiful weather: check. Kids & friends plotting to visit each other: check. For some reason, mistreating their friends like I mistreat my own makes them want to return. I have told a few of them "I will beat you like I beat my own", and it still doesn't deter them.
We also have ample mental scarring. We're really good at it. Just ask my kids.
Their friends love it. I fuss at my kids and their friends in the same manner. I have yet to hear one of their parents complain. If they didn't like how I talk to the kids, then they will just have to forbid their kids from coming to my house. I am not running the show any differently just because their speshul snowflayke baybee's feelings might get hurt.
When you have your first child, it's an adjustment. The second wears on the adjustment nerves and poses a lot of challenges. The third one just kind of slides into the mix. After 3 kids, what's one more? I have a lot of help from the older kids, and I don't do it on my own. When the kids have friends over to visit, it's just like the "what's one more" line. Not my own, but meh, they're along for the ride. We were at the library one day and Beast had a friend with us. Said friend was poking me in the shoulder at the counter as I was checking out books, and he didn't stop when I said stop. So I looked at him and said "I. will. beat. YOU. like I beat my own". The librarian visibly stifled a smirk. I told her I have too many kids to treat their friends differently, I don't have energy for it. I'll feed you but you are likely to get asked to do some sort of housework in exchange. Sleep here? Yeah, but you're going to help mow the yard dude. Total your car and wrap it around a tree because you were drinking underage? Oh, yea, you're totally getting a few snarky remarks and getting asked "did you hit your head really hard before you drank that beer?"
A few of the kids call me "mom" or "mommy" or "mommy Trish". I don't think any of them use my last name. In kid-world that's a formality reserved for the moms who wouldn't beat you like you're one of theirs.
So the phone rang this morning, one of Beast's friends asking to come visit, and stay the night. "I don't care, but the leaves need to be raked and we're going to church tomorrow." That is another thing, if you're here on a Sunday morning, we'll take you with us to Mass. And it's ok if you don't have dress clothes. It's come-as-you-are, but keep the view of your cash & prizes covered.
I fully expect that sometime this long 3 day Presidents' Day weekend will garner the oldest child's friends rolling through here too. Meanwhile, my 8 year old wants to escape and visit her friends. She doesn't want anyone here because as she puts it "all they want to do is play with the baby!" That may change as the baby becomes an annoying little sister who horns in on her friends' visits and "steals" her friends.

I'm thankful they pick friends worthy of stealing, because it means they were a good choice.

Monday, February 14, 2011


I have 4 students in my household. One is in elementary school, 2 are in high school and Devildog is in college. And it's amusing sometimes when he and the boys get into conversations about math and correct each other.
The schedules however, are not so amusing. Devildog started a 3rd class last week that is a 4 hour class, once a week. The juggling and shuffling are part of the challenge and at the moment my work schedule is making it impossible for him to get homework done. The kids have to be in their rooms and not distracting him before he can focus. He hates my laptop, so he refuses to take it to the library or some other quiet, wi-fi equipped location and do homework there.

Let's add that the oldest son also moved to a different school, in conjunction with my husband going to school. Both places have new germs. As a result they brought new germs home from school, plus Clone picked up a stomach bug from a classmate that she shared with the little sister. This undoubtedly threw a huge wrench in my schedule. And by Saturday afternoon, I was coming down with something. I slept a lot Saturday afternoon and evening, and spared my fellow parishoners the germs by staying home from Mass. I hate missing church. Sunday's weather was lovely, and I aired out the house and sent the girls out to play. Mini-Human was so beside herself with excitement she was rather spastic. So, this last week of reset season is hopefully going to see the kids healthy so I can send the little to a sitter on the shorter of his schooldays (which happens to be my longest day of the week in general), so I can shorten my workdays and get back home at a humane hour so he can get started on his homework earlier.

And we haven't reached mid-terms and finals yet.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Eloping is a wonderful option

I say this with all the love in my heart for my sister-in-law and her fiance. She asked us to be in her wedding, so we could walk down the aisle together like we would have if we'd gone with the traditional fiesta instead of the courthouse jaunt we took on a Friday afternoon, as the fans for a certain major football rivalry rolled into town. It's become a bit challenging for me to make things work and scheduling has become an issue for me personally. The bachelorette weekend is next weekend and I am not sure that I can make the trip, or the best way to get there and back. I could take the mom-bus but it's not exactly fuel efficient. I considered flying but it's cheaper to drive the mom-bus. The cheapest flight is still 2-3 times more expensive than dragging the entire household in the mom-bus. Then there's the issue of 3 tanks of gas. One to get there, one to return, and one to replenish so I can get to work the next week. $3x24= $72/tank of gas. Times 3=$216. I can take a train for half that. The issue then becomes someone picking me up and dropping me off at both ends of the trip. Devildog doesn't want me taking the train because the stations are in crummy neighborhoods. But, if I took the train, I could knit on this sweater that I cast on back in May of last year. And it would be less expensive than driving the mom-bus. And I wouldn't have to uninstall and reinstall the car seat.
I realize this may seem minor to many but for me, the part time employed wife of an unemployed student with four kids - this is a big deal. I would like to get to know these other ladies a bit. I just feel like all my options are less than ideal. It's complicated by my workload that has a specific window to be completed. Reset season is often a bane to my sanity. Even still I love my job. I don't envy my boss.

All of THIS stuff further cements my gratitude that we just eloped and skipped the hassle, not to mention the familial drama. And I think we are better for the simplicity of it. I think having an audience would have detracted from the us of it. Our simple start is all we needed and anything grander would have been wasteful and problematic.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

babies and bowling

The reader's digest version:
We went bowling. It was busy. A little boy was rolling bowling balls. Those bowling balls hit a couple people. I assume he was bored and mama was not watching him, so he was out to entertain himself. After he did that 3 times, I went up to him and told him to stop. I talked to him like I'd talk to my kids. I was stern but polite. His mama got mad at me for talking to her baby. She tried to start something. A very tall guy, the Devildog and someone else squelched it. She left, slinging unoriginal epithets. We ranted then joked about it.

Moral of the story: mind your child in a busy bowling alley or someone else will. And if you don't mind your child and someone else does, shut up about it and do your dang job and be a parent. Your 3 year old is big enough to be learning right from wrong.

or as my sister would say "beechokeeds!"

Monday, January 17, 2011

A little birthday present for myself

We had to get the guys measured for tuxedos for SIL's wedding. Devildog and I are part of the gang of people at the front of the church in monkey suits and fancy dresses. The Clone is a flower girl. The boys are ushers. I had Devildog drop the girls and me off at DSW while they got measured. Clone was quickly bored because there are no little girl size shoes there. I made my way back to the clearance corner and searched the big-foot sizes to see if something suited my fancy. As usual, most of what I tried on was too narrow in the toes and quickly went back to the racks. Shoe shopping is frustrating, possibly more so than shopping for pants or undergarments. First of all, there aren't enough size 9 and 10 wide width on the market at a price point this mom of 4 is willing to pay. I refuse to sacrifice fit and comfort for cute alone. It has to look good, fit well, and feel comfortable to come home with me. I have mildly high standards when we're talking about my feet - the one place my body relies on to carry me where I have to go. These would normally not even show up on my radar because they're fuschia. But, shopping to replenish my wardrobe this year has prompted me to consider colors and styles I wouldn't have looked at before. I tried them on and they're comfortable little shoes. I am figuring I can wear them with a variety of other things in my closet, so they wouldn't be one outfit wonders. They weren't too narrow in the toes, didn't have 4 inch heels that would make me fall on my face with the first step, and upon further investigation, they had a pretty clearance sticker.
So, here's my question for you - knowing my cheapskate tendencies, how much did I pay for these shoes?
It made for an even happier "Happy Birthday To Me!" moment.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ham & Potato Soup

Pardon me for getting all domestic on ya here. But I made a bomb diggity soup for dinner.
I had New Year's ham languishing in the fridge and no sandwiches were created of its carcass. Pieces had been sliced and picked off, and I failed to remember to send a hunk of the pork with the FIL when he went back to the other home he occupies. I also had potatoes that needed to get turned into something other than a counter adornment. I contemplated soup or casserole, and went with soup.

I peeled and cut up the potatoes in a standard quartered & sliced method. the slices were about 3/4 of an inch thick. I cubed up the ham, removing the gristle and fat etc (the gross stuff nobody but the dog would eat). My sister was coming to visit, and I was planning on sending the scraps with her, but forgot. Oops. Anyway, I did use a hunk of fat to be rendered for flavor. I tossed it in the bottom of my favorite stock pot (the one Devildog bought many moons ago for a chili cook-off at work) on low heat to render out the fat. I had the heat too high and ended up frying one side of that chunk of fat. I simply turned down the heat, and poured some water in the pot to deglaze it and lidded it. I stirred around the little bit of water that was left and scraped the brown bits off the bottom that hadn't gotten shocked loose already. I poured more water in the pot, covered it, and turned the heat back up to high. As the water got hot, I turned it back down a bit and dumped in the potatoes and ham. When the potatoes were boiled till fork-tender, I poured off probably half the water. I should've poured off less, but oh well. I then poured in milk, the rest of the sour cream we had in the container, and a block of softened cut up cream cheese. I was determined not to use any canned soup, as the ham had enough salt in it, and quite honestly, I put in zero salt because of that, and it was nearing my salt threshold. Plus those soups really aren't all that great for you. Your mileage may vary. I folded it a lot to get the cream cheese to blend, and potatoes being what they are, they got mushed a bunch too. I ended up scooping out the stuff into a casserole dish, leaving the cream cheese chunks, and debated turning it into a casserole, but I lacked sufficient cheese. Plus my sister said it was fine as soup. So I dumped it back in the pot when I got the cream cheese to play nicely. About this time, I'd already turned on the oven to make a casserole, so I told the kids to check the fridge for biscuits. The oldest produced a thing of French Bread, and I called it good enough. Crusty bread with soup is lovely anyhow. I turned the heat down to low and kept the pot lid on it while the bread baked for 25 minutes. We then went to open belated Christmas gifts (because that's how we roll here). And when the timer beeped, we had bread, and soup, and Oldest decided to make some collard greens - sautee'd not drowned. He leaves his crunchier than I would have, so there was some leftover. I need to add kale and/or spinach to my list, now that I remind myself of this.
I only had to twist my sister's arm once to eat with us. I guess she thought she was taking food from the family's mouths. She has a husband and they have custody of a grandson after his mom died 12 years ago. I have 4 kids, a husband and myself and we're all big eaters. I learned how to cook for an army, and heaven help me as the nest empties and I have to learn to cook smaller again. There was enough for the kids, me, sis, and Devildog later crammed a bunch of it into a container and had some for himself. There's probably 3 portions left, if not more. And the longer it sat, the thicker it got. So it ended up being like a casserole anyway.

So I learned from this concoction that 1/2 a block of cream cheese will do. And that I probably could've left more if not all the water I started cooking with and it would have been fine. Plus with my stove, turning OFF the heat would probably be wiser, as there's plenty of residual heat when you have a thick clad bottom pot, and a ceramic cooktop, combined with the oven below it on 350 to bake dairy case packaged bread. The pot is soaking in the sink now for scraping the bottom later.
The Clone suggested I add this to the "Favorites" - meaning the binder of absolute Full Of Win recipes that are my family's favorite dishes.
And the inspiration for this meal came from a recent issue of a Taste of Home digest Slow Cooker recipe magazine. I was flipping through it at work and came across a potato & ham casserole that sounded good. However, I think I like my ham & potato soup much better. And I concocted it.

Not bad for the daughter of a woman who could screw up a box of macaroni and cheese.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The view across my mug

This is sometimes my view as I sip coffee from the bench on the front porch.
It was warm today. I was surprised since just a week ago it was most definitely NOT warm. So I took my coffee outside. I thought it was a little ironic of sorts to be 70 degrees by 10 a.m. yet, the tree was definitely dropping leaves.

Last week I was NOT wearing these, even while inside the house. Last week we were shivering with the freezing temperatures, wishing we had carpet instead of cold-retaining tile. Persnickety Ticker told me tile is brutal in the winter. Of course someone should slip Mother Nature some HRT. This menopausal weather is annoying at best.

Mmmm. Coffee. Devildog snagged the cup I used for the first round of coffee when I was away from the kitchen. So this mug is round 2's vessel. It was a housewarming gift, along with 3 others with similar phrasing and different colors. This is my favorite because it's purple.

And this view - would be the bane of many neighborhoods. But here, it's a bit of a welcome view. My FIL is visiting and has his dog Ashley with him. She was rescued from the Ashley River and as I understand things, she rescued him too. A few years ago, he was in a very dark place in his life. Ashley was apparently abused, and is a tender, sensitive & empathetic dog. Mini-Human loves Ashley, even though the dog has limited tolerance and hides after a while. So when this camper is in my driveway, there is dog hair on my floors. And we get to visit with the FIL I knew was there all along. It was hidden for so many years by those dark clouds.