Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wu Who?

The weather was perfect today, and begged for a walk. So the family headed out, down through the woods, in search of adventure.

The neighborhood and surrounding woods contain several large ponds. Before this neighborhood was a neighborhood, it was a family farm, and the family constructed a shelter on the largest of these ponds. In the years since the property has moved from private ownership to public domain, the shelter has become a haven for fisherman and high school kids looking for a scenic place to drink beer.

And Wu Tang Clan fans.

Wu Tang Clan fans with a sense of humor.

 Katie (not knowing Wu Tang from Wang Chung) wanted to know everything about this mysterious Wu Tang Clan. Sean and I gave her all the knowledge we had, which was very little. She was reading the graffiti out loud, and thankfully missed this one -
In honor of our walk today, I made Wu Tang Roast Chicken Breasts with Sage Brown Butter for dinner. What makes it Wu Tang, you ask? It may be the side of Old Dirty Bastard Orzo with Goat Cheese, but I think it's more likely the Raekwon Peas Out, Motha Fucka! Now if Sean would stop by and get me a Ghostface Killah Frappaccino on his way home, I would be full of Wu. Or something.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Two HUGE thumbs up for Great Wolf Lodge - what fun we had! The kids had a blast and there was plenty of age appropriate things for each one of them. Katie wore the water slides out, and Julia had two areas where she could ride slides, spray water and have it dumped on her, and engage in general hooliganism. Even Henry had fun splashing.

I haven't been on a water slide in about 20 years. So imagine my surprise when I discovered I don't really like water slides. I am probably the only person in the world who can hurt myself repeatedly in water. The first time down, I banged up my elbows. Apparently, you're not supposed to drag your elbows alongside your body. The next time, I somehow jacked up my thumb on a mat handle. I'm guessing from clutching the handle in fear of losing my life. The last time, I banged my head on the side of the tube. Graceful I am not.

Katie's favorite ride was the "Howlin' Tornado". It's hard to explain the ride - imagine a couple of guys dropping acid, watching Willie Wonka, and then designing at water slide, and you'll be close. You start out on a raft (so I'm thinking, hey, rafts are safe, this won't be bad). After a brief ride down a gently sloping, Christmas-light lit tube, you take a sudden and shocking drop into a swirling vortex of HELL. I am generally a non-hysterical person, but this thing made me go all tent revival.


Katie was completely embarrassed, but not so embarrassed that she didn't want to ride it again. Twice. Although she did ask me to not scream. I thought I could handle it, since I knew what was coming - but, no. It was just as terrifying the second and third time around.

Kate and I got our geek on that night and played MagiQuest. We swam the next day until 1, then had lunch and hit Concord Mills for a visit to the Lego Store (awesomeness!) and a little shopping.

We are all completely, totally, insanely exhausted. What a great time.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Busy Busy, Worky Worky

We're heading off within the hour to Great Wolf Lodge to spend the night, swim and celebrate the girls' birthdays. The trip was postponed from Monday, when Julia busted her chin. On top of the steri-strips I have 2 waterproof bandaids and a mile of waterproof tape, making her look like she has a white goatee. She thinks she looks awesome, of course.

The week has been a busy one for Katie, especially. She's involved with Odyssey of the Mind at school, and right now they're practicing two afternoons a week. It's an amazing program in which teams of kids are presented with a long term problem and must come up with the solution. Katie's team is working on the "Unhinged Structure" problem - you can read more about it on the link. It's a great way for kids to think creatively, with only very little guidance from adults. Her regional competition is March 5, and we're happy that the Grandmas and Grandpa will all be in attendance.

In addition to two OM practices, she's also had Annie rehearsal, and a piano lesson. OM is done in March as is Annie, so this is only a temporary load. She is loving it and thriving on the creativity of it all. It's awesome to see her so passionate about what she's doing.

I have pictures of the day, but will wait and post them along with ones from our little trip.

A very happy birthday to my mother in law, Erin, today. My friends always give me the raised eyebrow when I say things like "My in-laws are coming to visit for a couple of weeks, and I'm so excited!" But it's true! I'm thankful for your insight and friendship, and hope your day is perfect. Also to my sister in law, Meggen, tomorrow. The sister I never had, I miss you more than you know. Oh, crack. <3

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Personal Grooming

A decade or so ago, before I had children, I had a job. This job required me to be interact with other people, many times even being in front of people speaking. Having them look at me. So it was kind of important to me that I appear at my best. Hair cut and colored, brows waxed, nails done, clothes ironed. I also had all the time in the world to spend on doing these things. I used to tweeze my bikini line, for the love of Pete (I'm saying that euphemistically, not that I tweezed my bikini line for a guy named Pete). That is a person with too much time on their hands. My disposable income was considerably more disposable, not having to buy things like diapers and piano lessons.

I now have three children and no job. And my personal grooming habits...well, they've slipped. A good day is an outfit without food on it. A good day is not getting in the car after coffee with my put together friend, looking in the mirror, and having a booger in my nose. A great day is managing to have on a decent outfit, a shower AND no booger.

Standards. I haz none.

It's not that I don't care. It's just that...okay, it's that I don't care. I have people barfing and shitting on me on almost a daily basis, I am not so concerned about my brows. Between the dead caterpillars above my eyes and my hairy upper lip, I'm looking like the love child of Frida Kahlo and Wilford Brimley. I'm a hairy armpit away from being a headliner at Lilith Fair.

The moustache bothers me. Waxing was wreaking havoc on my sensitive skin, and I never managed to remember bleach at the drug store, so I decided to just trim it at close as I could with a pair of craft scissors. DON'T PRETEND YOU'VE NEVER DONE THIS. Or at least considered it. I actually thought it was a pretty clever idea, until Sean caught me outside one day, my stubble glistening in the sunlight.

Every girl, even tired mommies covered in baby barf, wants to feel pretty. So I'm resolving this year to put more effort into my personal grooming. Tweeze regularly. Shave my legs. Both of them. At the same time.

To that end, I bought some bleach for "stubborn facial hair". The hair on my upper lip is many things - black, bristly, annoying - but I've never considered it stubborn. It figures, my moustache has an attitude problem. No wonder I have such a hard time with it.

I was going to post a picture of The Moustache, but I can't do it. Mostly because I couldn't manage to take the picture without smiling.  I'm not sure why I was smiling, I look like a cercopithecus cephus (check out my Latin! thank you, google!).

I pulled out the bleach, gave my 'stache a stern talking to, and bleached the hell out of it. I feel prettier already. 

Catching up with my photos of the day:

Monday, January 24 - Julia fell at preschool and busted her chin. They were able to glue and steri-strip it, and she is sporting her own kind of beard. I am constantly amazed at what a tough little kid she is.

Tuesday, January 25 - Due to a miscommunication with my dear husband, the delicious dinner I had planned was scrapped. Instead, I raided the fridge and found leftover chili. After a quick check of the pantry, I indulged in one of the most delicious, heartburn-inducing treats known to man. The Frito Chili Pie.
I like my Fritos on top, so they stay crunchy. Yes, that's ketchup. And a blue plastic bowl. Food snobbery abandons me on such occasions.

And a Julia and Henry conga line-

Monday, January 24, 2011

Magical Thinking*

Sometimes, I smell my father. It never comes from a purposeful thought, but random and unbidden. Unlike my memories of his voice or his face, which always come slowly like a sunrise, the smell comes fast and furious, like a punch to the gut. It happened this morning, as I turned in my seat to unbuckle Julia at preschool. It was like he was there, sitting next to me. As always, it sends me into a panic as I search for a source - my coat, the seat, my hands. Other mothers must have walked by the car wondering about the crazy woman sniffing her air vents. And then slowly, it fades away, gone completely back into my memory by the time I've turned into the driveway.

Daddy was a fastidious man. Always neat and carefully groomed, the result of a disciplined nature reinforced by the United States Marine Corps. He ironed his jeans with an crease so sharp it sounded like a crack of lightening when he put them on. Even after a hard day's work, beneath the dirt and dust and sweat, you could still smell it. You could smell clean.

I read once that the sense of smell is the strongest, the one most bound to memory. Daddy must have read that somewhere, too. My mom told me he would always rush to put on cologne before we came over, so he could bury the memory of himself deep in toddler Katie's brain. Hoping that the memory of the way he smelled would linger after her true memories faded into the false ones of stories simply retold.

I spent the last year of his life memorizing the lines of his face and the way his hands felt. So that, when I needed to, I could close my eyes and see him next to me and feel my hand swallowed up in his. I never bothered to think about his smell. I didn't need to.

I know it is a trick of memory. There's probably even a name for it. It is the hardest memory - this mental blip is the closest I will be to him again in this lifetime. It's also the best, because for a moment, he is with me. For a moment, I choose not to believe that it's a false memory, a physiological hiccup. I choose to believe that he watches over me and my children. That he sends me signs and signals and smells. Maybe it's faith, maybe it's magical thinking.Whatever it is, it is mine, and I'm holding on to it.

*The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion is a look into her life in the year after her husband's death. Really insightful and beautiful.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Football Shmootball

Apparently, there are some big games on today. Sean and my father in law, John (who's birthday is today, birthday shout out to Papa John!) are Green Bay Packer fans. From the looks of these yahoos, the game went well:

My brother Mike is a Pittsburgh Steelers Superfan, and it looks like he will be celebrating tonight as well.

And while Julia pranced around in her cheerleader outfit and Katie grazed on the buffet, Henry was soaking up all the dudeliness. All my efforts at gender neutrality were erased in one afternoon of grunting and high-fiving. Sean clearly enjoyed having THE BOY around. I'll admit it was sweet to see. Sweet, in a very manly way.

Football was king in my house growing up. My daddy was the NUMBER ONE DALLAS COWBOYS FAN OF ALL TIME. Seriously, like the guys on the local sports radio knew him. He would tape the games to re-watch during the week, memorizing every play. That is not normal. My father knew more about football, and about sports in general, than any person I've ever met.

Sports are okay. I would never sit down and turn on the television and start surfing and see a sporting event and say "oh, hey! I'm going to watch this basketball/football/baseball/whateverball game." I would certainly never plan my day around it.

I will, however, gladly plan a menu around it. Today was chili, a couple of loaves of the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day! bread, cream cheese brownies and oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. Sean made some of his really delicious wings and a friend brought this nasty-good hot bean dip stuff. It looks a little like dog food, but then you take a bite and want to roll around naked in a bathtub full of it.

My oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are fantastic, but I don't recommend rolling around in them. Too crumby. Here's the recipe:

1 stick butter, softened
1 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
1 1/3 C flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 C quick oats

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir together dry ingredients and add, beating well. Stir in chocolate chips and oats. Drop by teaspoons on lightly greased cookie sheet (skip this if you use a silpat. If you don't use a silpat, go buy a silpat. I love saying silpat.) Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes about 4 dozen.

The cream cheese brownie recipe is from Cook's Illustrated and they are pretty out of this world, too. As is the regular brownie recipe. It is so good that I have turned my back on the super yummy chemical in a box Ghiradelli brownies. Mostly.

As I type this, Sean is upstairs - alone now - watching the last bit of the late game. Occasionally, he will muttered instructions to the players, yell at an official, congratulate himself for his astute observations. As he looks forward to seeing his team play in the Superbowl, all I can think is "what am I going to make?".

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Laundry

The Good: 
The girls had their annual well child check ups and they are the absolute pictures of health. We solidified our reputation for having the LOUDEST CHILDREN ON THE PLANET before we even walked in the door. Julia argued with the doctor that her brother is not a monkey, but a boy. Henry did his best to prove her wrong by climbing everything in sight. Katie got no shots, Julia got four (plus a finger prick!) and barely whimpered. Hooray for healthy kids.

The Bad:
Oh shit. Apparently, the genius who did the sheet rock in our house misjudged the placement of a stud, and put a piece of casement in the framing in order to screw the sheet rock in place. The only problem was he screwed right through the sheet rock and into the pipe behind it. It held for 5 years and then began the slow, slow leak. And I'm thankful for insurance and a handy husband. It could have been a lot worse, so we'll live with the minor inconvenience until all is put back into place.

The Laundry:
What do you see? That's right, nothing.

Today, I made the laundry my bitch. I actually walked into the laundry room this morning and said "Today, I make you my bitch." OK, full disclosure - I actually said that yesterday morning, but I got distracted. So I had to say it again today and today I followed through. If you have, or have ever had, more than two people living in your house, you know just how quickly the laundry goes from caught up to underwear crisis. If one of those people likes to change clothes 2 or 3 times a day and throw clean clothes in the dirty clothes hamper, and one of them is always deciding midway through the day that she'd rather wear Minnie Mouse panties instead of Daisy Duck, and yet another one of them still poops their pants daily (Henry, just to clarify.) have a boatload of laundry in no time.

For the moment, it is all washed, dried and put away. What about the sheets? you ask. Yes, even the sheets. Booyah.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Perfectly Julia

Julia, Julia, oceanchild, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia
Julia, seashell eyes, windy smile, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia

-'Julia', The Beatles, 1968 

Julia does not wake up, she bolts up. And so she did this morning, running out of her room and announcing "Now I'm FOUR!"
 She had pancakes for breakfast. Then a cinnamon roll and a brownie (this is perfectly acceptable on your birthday). We painted, played blocks, got dressed, hid behind the couch when the Jehovah's Witnesses came calling*, and were out the door by 10 a.m. We spent the day doing Julia things - riding the carousel at the mall, watching movies, eating ice cream. Birthday dinner was mac & cheese at Cracker Barrel. Four year olds are easy to please.

Yesteryday's pic of the day - the rare and elusive Napping Julia (Nappus Julius)-

And modeling her new gymnastics outfit-

And tonight, the Birthday Girl winds down with a movie in bed- just perfectly Julia. Who could ask for anything more?

*There is no shame in hiding behind the couch in your own home, yelling "GET DOWN!" to your kid, while two poor young men look at you through the window in the door. OK, there is enormous shame in it, but Julia thought it was hilarious and so did I.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


jack·ass noun \ˈjak-ˌas

1: donkey; especially : a male donkey
2: a stupid person : fool
3: a dog who behaves in such a manner that you frequently look at her with a scowl and mutter under your breath, "Jackass."

Meet Roxy.

Roxy is 11 years old. Sean found her on the side of the road when she was a puppy, abandoned and forlorn. After a search for her rightful owners, we decided to take her into our home and make her ours.

She soon revealed herself to be the canine equivalent of a problem child. Unlike our pug, Kato, Roxy was smart. Sneaky smart. She'd ignore you unless it suit her. She refused to do any tricks. She ate...everything. She ate a hole in the vinyl flooring. She ate an inflatable swimming pool. She ate a load of dish towels and baby socks and had emergency surgery and came close to death. Over the years, she has eaten CDs, foil pans, countless toys, newspapers, rolls of toilet paper, the bottom 12" off the living room curtains, and much more.

She barks at intruders, real and imagined. She barks at us if we're outside. She barks at the TV. She howls at the answering machine. We tried the shock collar (too cruel), we tried the citronella collar (briefly effective), we tried being stern with her (not at all effective, and it led to Julia thinking the dog's full name was 'Roxy Shutup').

Put a baby to sleep, Roxy will wake it up.
Lay anything down, Roxy will eat it.
And maybe barf it out. Most likely on the carpet you just cleaned.
Feed her a treat, Roxy shits it out in a frothy mess. Most like on the carpet you just cleaned the barf off of.

It is her way.

She instinctively knows when the door to the bathroom is open and makes her way to the trashcan. I am sure Kato taught her this trick before he died. One time, a coworker was at our apartment and used the bathroom. A few minutes later, Kato trotted out with her tampon in his mouth. If that wasn't awkward enough, the was an eternity of seconds where we both just stood there, trying to figure out which one of us should go after it. Her tampon, my the end, ownership of personal hygiene products trumped ownership of a dog. Thank God.

But...but, but, but. But Roxy is my dog. MY dog. The kids like to think she's their dog, but she's not. She follows me around, she sleeps next to my side of the bed. Any time I bend down, she is right there, looking up at me pitifully, asking for a tummy rub. She comes when I call, she gives me kisses when I scold her. She would lay down her life for any one of us.

And so, as I push her down off the baby's highchair while he's eating dinner and mutter "jackass!", she looks at me with her smiling old doggy eyes that say "Yes. But you love me."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Birthdays, Thai, and Coconut Pie

It was a big birthday weekend! We celebrated Julia's 4th birthday a few days early. Last year, my mom (The Cake Lady, if you don't know) made her a Cinderella cake. That day, she said "When I turn 4, I want a Snow White cake." Julia never, ever forgets.

She said yesterday that when she turns 5, she wants an Ariel cake. We'll see.

Today is my mom's birthday and she came over for dinner from our favorite Thai restaurant. She requested a coconut cream pie (the Cake Lady must get tired of cake), so I thought I'd give it a go with this recipe. When you come across a recipe that starts with "The Best Ever..." it's going to go one of two ways - either it really is the best ever, or it sucks. This pie was really delicious. The grocery store did not have unsweetened flaked coconut, so I went with sweetened and it was absolutely fine. I topped it off with a thick layer of freshly whipped cream and toasted coconut.

After pie, Mom took Julia to her house to spend the night, because Julia is relentless and my mom is a sucker. By sucker, I mean awesome. She is generous to a fault with her time. I totally take advantage of her, and she never makes me feel bad about it. My kids adore her. She is such an integral part of our family that I always assume that she is going to be part of whatever we're doing.

She's impulsive and spontaneous and easily influenced by people who want her to do things like fake sick and go to the mall. These are the qualities I most lack, and most admire in her. She takes chances and reinvents and tries new things and changes her mind. I have a hard time changing my brand of deodorant. She is amazing, she is my mom. I love her.

Happy birthday, Mommy.

And, Henry in a box. Because it's cute.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Life of Rigorous Honesty

My husband is the most honest person I know, sometimes annoyingly so. He doesn't see the value in white lies, preferring to pursue what he refers to as "a life of rigorous honesty".

I, on the other hand, well - the best I can hope for is a life of slightly strenuous honesty.

Sean calls me "the fibber", which sounds kind of horrible, like I tell whoppers all the time. I'll admit to telling callers I'm not home, or faking sick, or answering "only one" when asked how many of the brownies I ate. This is what normal people do. I will admit to using embellishments when telling a story. Take the carrot incident a few posts back. Honestly, a pretty lame story. But just think about how much more entertaining it would have been if I had bitch slapped the personal shopper with the carrot and it turned out she was a black belt in karate and whipped me in the middle of the grocery store parking lot! Now that would have been a story!

White lies are part of the very foundation of my parenting. "They're closed." and "They don't make those anymore." and "It's out of batteries." are the phrases that keep me sane on a daily basis. There is only a small window when these little fibs work, usually between the ages of 2 and 5. Older than that and they start wondering why the ice cream parlor isn't open at 2 on a Saturday in July.

It doesn't always work. This afternoon, Katie was finally at school (after 4 snow days), Henry was asleep, and Julia and I were playing dolls. I was tired and the couch looked very inviting, so I said to Julia, "Come up here and snuggle with mommy. I have the sleeping sickness, did you know that?" Her eyes narrowed and she looked at me side-eyed. Julia is no dope. "It's true. Sometimes I'll just be in the middle of a sentence and...zzzzzzzzzzzzz." She burst out laughing and jumped on my stomach. Fib fail.

I'm not advocating full scale LYING. Lying is bad. Fibbing is kind of bad. Big difference. You should never lie about things like someone dying, or where you went to college, or how good you are at a sport. You should always fib about things like your weight, how often you clean your house, and how often you floss.

Fibbing is an adult thing, like drinking or renting a car. Children are not allowed to fib, even about the flossing. Children, in fact, are held to the rigorous honesty standard. We're lucky that, so far, our kids are not adept at the whole fibbing thing. Katie's eyes get huge, her voice gets indignant (WHAAAT? Of COURSE I brushed my teeth. GAW!), and she changes her story 50 times in 5 minutes. Julia just says things that are completely ridiculous. Like when she went to preschool and told her teachers that Daddy hit Mommy. That made for an awkward conversation with the teacher.

I admire Sean for his honesty, and hope that our kids take after him in that regard. And that's no lie.

Photos of the day for January 13 and 14. Henry!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It Ain't Easy Being Average

Yesterday, my dear friend Michelle posted this article about "Tiger Mothers - Raising Children the Chinese Way", by psycho hosebeast Amy Chua. Long story short (if you haven't seen the sensationalized coverage) is that Americans are soft and if we want to raise winners we'd stop being so nice to our kids. Sean, after listening to my rant, sent me this most excellent f-you to Chua by Elaine Chow on The Shanghaiist.

Regardless of your opinion about Chua's methods (and my opinion is that she is clearly insane), it leads to a bigger question - since when is being average such a bad thing?

Every mother I know, myself included, wants to believe that their children are exceptional. Brilliant, talented, advanced, rare. And they are - to us. But the reality is that only a small percentage of kids excel at levels far beyond their peers. Most people have a few things that they're pretty good at, and one or two things that they're really good at and manage to make a living at, or a life out of. We can't all be professional athletes and celebrities because, well - nothing would get done.

We need carpenters and plumbers and welders and a thousand other unglamorous occupations. The guy that paints the lines on the roads - we need that guy! MOMS! We need moms. We need average people because average people are the ones who get the shit done. Lebron James has done JACK for me. Will I be proud if Henry breezes through school and goes to Harvard and becomes a successful lawyer? Duh, yeah! But I will be equally proud if he becomes a carpenter who loves what he does and takes pride in his work. We, as a society, have devalued the trades to the point that everyone wants to be a Chief and no one wants to be an Indian. (I apologize in advance to any Native Americans to whom my outdated colloquialism is offensive.)

There is nothing wrong with setting high standards, and expecting your children to be the best they can be. We have clear expectations of Katie in her schoolwork, based on her ability. We have standards for all our children in regard to their behavior, and what is and isn't acceptable in that regard is non-negotiable. It may end up that they're all C students and okay at the piano and kind of sucky athletes. But if they're happy and loved and loving and do their best to be good people, how can I care if what grade they made in 4th grade math?

Our immigrant grandparents, and great-grandparents, and so on, recognized the value of average. Not only was it acceptable, it was what they strived for. They realized that average is pretty freaking awesome.

My kids are amazing. I think that they are the best, funniest, cutest, most charming, smartest kids ever. And if they turn out to be perfectly average, then I'm awfully lucky.

Today's photo of the day - the girls put on a song and dance show after dinner. It was a better than average performance.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Food = Love

Doesn't it?

My best childhood memories revolve around what we ate, where we ate it, and who we ate it with. Some of my best memories with my children are set around a flour covered counter, bellies full from licking the bowl.

Putting aside all the food hangups and weight issues and concerns about how red meat and cheetos are going to make us grow horns out of our butts and make us have two headed babies - food is fabulous. And it has the ability to bring families and friends together in a way that nothing else can. There is nothing I like more than preparing a simple meal and having friends over to share it. You don't have to be a foodie to recognize and appreciate the value of fresh ingredients and careful preparation. You don't have to be a chef to make food for your family that says "I made this for you because I love you."

I cook most nights, and I don't make fussy food. Last night's dinner (and yesterday's pic of the day!) was pretty simple.Katie made us menus and took our orders. Not like anyone had much of a choice.

This morning (Snow Day #2), my friend Jennifer inspired me to get crazy and make donuts.
Those are cows and pigs. Barnyard sprinkles!

Other things that happen on a snow day - Julia gives her baby highlights.

Katie dresses like me, circa 1987. Oh, wait. She does that every day.

I will admit to getting into a bit of a food rut - a brown meat, a simple starch, a couple of vegetables. It's reliable. Sean said the other night that we eat pork tenderloin like some families eat ground beef. My friend Carole (a certified foodie and a CANADIAN, which automatically makes her more interesting than me) has started a new blog with two of her friends - no reEATS - in which they attempt to make dinner for a year without repeating a recipe.

This is insane. It's also a really fabulous idea, and I hope it motivates me to try some different things. Carole also has another amazing food blog - The Yum Yum Factor - which has great descriptions and gorgeous pictures. If you love reading about food, and need some inspiration, check both blogs out.

Tonight I pulled a new recipe from Cooking Light - Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash (why do I feel compelled to capitalize each word in a recipe?). If I had planned ahead, I would have made a loaf of Alton Brown's fabulous Knead Not Sourdough Bread, but it's a 24 hour thing and I did not plan ahead. I know several people (including Carole from above) who swear by Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which I really need to check out. But we love, love, love this sourdough and it's become a staple.

The tangine was delicious. I subbed beef broth for the chicken (because I had it), and salted to our tastes.

The kids did not like it. They ate the couscous (covered in jus) and salad and called it a day. Katie picked at the meat and ate a few pieces of squash under duress. Not every dish is a winner. Sometimes you say "I made this for you because I love you." and your kid looks at you and says "That looks gross."

Good luck to the ladies at no reEats, I'm excited to follow your adventure!

And...just moments before posting this - Henry took his first steps! Sean and I both saw it, what an awesome thing. <3

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Yesterday, Katie and I spent most of the day at the arts council where she auditioned for the musical "Annie". She did a fantastic job - they had to learn a few lines, sing scales and learn a short dance number. She was cast as an orphan, and the show is in mid-March. This is something she has wanted to do, and it will be a great introductory experience. I'm so proud of her for getting up there and not being nervous, and just being her amazing self.

Before the audition:

There were probably 50 kids and another 20 adults auditioning, including Super Drama Guy. SDG was decked out in his black tank top and knee length burgandy velvet coat, swinging his Fabio hair and using his completely unidentifiable accent. And because there were only 2 men in that age range (SDG and one other), we were able to see him perform a LOT. It was quite a treat. I asked Katie what she thought of him when we got home and she said "OH! He was gooooooood." This is also the kid who thinks The Suite Life of Zack & Cody is comedy gold, so take that into consideration.

Now, I am not going to lie. There was a part of me, okay a BIG part of me, that wanted to jump up on that stage and belt out "TOOOOOOOMORROW!" and bust out the jazz hands. But I'm not at a time in my life when community theater is something I can do, and it would most likely mortify my kid. For now, I'll have to be content watching from the wings, cheering Katie on. It's her time to shine.

Last night, she and Roxy had a slumber party in our room.

And the pic of the day for today, because it is weird and hilarious.

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's Not All Wine & Roses

Or tea parties and crafts. Some days start out yelly and screamy and follow that trend throughout, despite my efforts to pacify moods with library trips and Costco hot dogs.

Some days I have to tell Sean as soon as he walks in the door that I need 5 minutes to myself, so I can go lie in a dark room and have a little pity party before dinner.

Some days I have a hard time not seeing my child's failure as my own, or a bad attitude a reflection of what I'm doing. And some days I have a hard time accepting when it is.

Some days, it looks like snow. I hate snow.
Up to 12" forecast for Monday. I may die.

But EVERY day, I let them know that I love them, and hope that makes up for the times that I'd like to lock them (or myself) in a closet.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Julia Jumps

and flips and somersaults and dances and moves at a nearly non-stop pace from the moment her feet hit the ground in the morning until she is tucked in at night.

And nothing moves more than her mouth. Her first words every morning when she was just learning to talk were: "UP. I EAT." Now, they are "What are we doing today? Where are we going today?" And I'd better have an answer ready, and it had better be good.

Today, I answered the question with two of her favorite things - school and gymnastics. School, where the awesome Miss Nancy let them play in shaving cream. She's awesome because there is not a trace of shaving cream anywhere on my child - not in her hair, on her clothes, in her nose or ears, or any other place where you might expect to find it on a little kid.

And gymnastics, where Julia's ability to do things like climb the knobs of the kitchen drawers is not only okay, it's encouraged.

Photo of the day for January 6! It stinks, because I haven't learned how to do motion photography and she won't stay still.

Yesterday, we washed and dried and broke up into tiny pieces and dyed egg shells to make a mosaic. A fun craft with a cool end result. It gets a 4.5 on the pain the ass scale, because of the wait time between drying and dying. Next time I'll know to do that step in advance.

Photos of the day for January 5! Eggshells dying. In wine glasses, because we're fancy like that.

Our mosaic egg.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Root (Vegetable) of All Evil

The grocery store next door offers online shopping, which is beyond awesome. I can put my order in after the kids are in bed, then swing by and pick it up the next day. This way I can avoid shopping with either 2 or 3 kids in tow, which I'm pretty sure is one of the levels of hell.

A couple of months ago, the store got a new personal shopper. New to the store, new to the system - and it's been a little bumpy.

Week 1: I place my order, which includes my standard 1 pound of carrots. The way it's set up, the list specifies "1 pound" and you add quantity, which for me is 1. Follow? I get the groceries home and unload and I have received:

1 carrot.

Week 2: I think "hmm, maybe they changed the way it's specified online", but no - 1 pound. I enter a quantity of 1. I receive:

1 carrot.

I am mostly amused.

Week 3: I'm going to mix things up a little bit. Obviously, the Quantity - 1 is not working for me. So I enter Quantity - 4. I receive:

4 pounds of carrots.

My children think this is hilarious. I am enraged. Sean asks "Why don't you just talk to her?" Well, firstly on the principle that she should read the order and secondly, because then I wouldn't have a good story. Duh.

Week 5: I skipped Week 4 because, as you can imagine, 4 pounds of carrots last awhile. I enter Quantity: 1. I go with the direct approach and note "Please give me 1 pound of carrots". I receive:
Photo of the Day - January 4!

1 pound of carrots. I am strangely disappointed.

Later, Julia and I had a tea party (no carrots).

Katie stayed after school and when we got home from picking her up, we saw this funny, fat bird. Despite the auditory assault of the Hines children, he stayed put.
One too many Christmas cookies.

And I passed math homework on to Sean.
Homework sucks. For parents, too.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back on track

and out for the first run of the New Year! Even a bad run is a good run, it always seems to make the rest of the day better. Running goals for 2011-
  • Run the Raleigh Rocks half in April
  • Run the Salem Lake Trail Races 30k in September
  • Get faster
Maybe I should change the last one to "get less slow", as "get faster" implies that I'm somewhat fast now.

But, I have nice shoes!

Running put me in such a good mood that I didn't mind getting my butt whipped by Julia at Zingo. Twice.
Julia Hines, Zingo Champion
Zingo is a very fun game, and one we can all play. Best of all, it's a fast game. Which makes it rank miles above Monopoly or Life or any of the other games that require you to reschedule plans and pack snacks. Even Henry likes it!
Henry Hines, Zingo Champion in Training

I resolve to play more this year. Today was a good start.