Thursday, September 29, 2011

It Takes a Village

I am not an overly sentimental person. I don't put a lot of value in things; I am not terribly attached to Precious Moments figurines or collector plates or souvenir thimbles. I don't dress up my pets.

I have never purchased a home decor item simply because it was really cute.

And yet, twice a year - first at Halloween and again at Christmas, I am reduced to a squealing little girl at the prospect of setting up the holiday village. Wee houses and figurines and things that whirl and light up - they bring me more joy than any inanimate object should. Every time I yell "DON'T TOUCH THE VILLAGE!" to the children (which they do anyway), I think to myself, in another ten years I am going to be on one of those shows. Women who continue to set shit up 'for the kids' when the kids are in their 40s.

The Halloween village technically belongs to Katie. But until she moves out and takes it away from me, it's mine. One day - when I don't have kids who want to eat the inedible and break all breakables, I will add a water feature and multiple levels and mountains carved from styrofoam and...well, you get the picture. For now, it's still pretty cool. The best part is watching the children just sit and stare and smile. I wonder if it will be something they talk about when they're old and I'm gone - remember when mom would set up the village every year? 
It almost makes me think that I'm setting it up for them as much as for myself.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Winners Win. It's What We Do.

When I was in 7th grade, I won a pair of black jeans with the KISS FM radio logo (featuring a set of ruby red lips) emblazoned on the back pocket, and two tickets to see Foreigner with Guiffria.

Stop right there. If you know who Guiffria is, then you know what an awesome prize package this was. You will recognize that, simply by the virtue of the prize being awarded to me, I must be a natural born winner.
Unfortunately, I didn't have any friends whose parents would let them go to the concert with me. Not to mention, my parents wouldn't let me go with just a friend. So, in a cruel twist of fate suckage, I went to the concert with my mom. Naturally, I wore the jeans.

If you're lucky enough to know my mom, you know that she is a rockin' bitch. Still, being 12 and going to a rock concert with my mom was L.A.M.E. So when Guiffria took the stage, all thumping bass and big hair, and the lead singer starting working the crowd up -


-and the entire crowd starts chanting "FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!"

Even when your mom is the coolest mom everrrrr, you want to dig a big fat hole and crawl right into it.

I have always thought that was the finest example of my life of winning, until today. Because today MOV, from the blog mothersofbrothers, let me know that I was a recipient of the Versatile Blogger Award. Which means more people get to hear me drop F-bombs and talk about my fascinating life, and for that I am very, very grateful. It also means that I (and you) can pop over to Mothersofbrothers and be introduced to a whole new bunch of bloggers who are doing a fantastic job of entertaining and informing their readers.

I am still waiting on an award that involves a cash prize.

And now I get to nominate some people for the award. I invite you to read all the blogs in my blog roll, they're there because I like reading them, and I think you will, too. But I want to spotlight two that I think really embrace the idea of versatility.

Band Back Together - If you're familiar with Becky from Mommy Wants Vodka (I love you, Becky! in a totally non-creepy you don't know me but I want to be your friend kind of way!), then you might be familiar with Band Back Together. It's a safe, secure, supportive place where women from all over can submit their stories. It's funny, it's sad, it's heartbreaking and uplifting. If you have a story to tell, if you need to know that you're not alone, you need to be a part of BBT.

no reEats - These bitches are cuh-razy. Three women, all dedicated to never making the same meal twice for an entire year. For those of us who find the same dinner in constant rotation ("What's for dinner? Let me guess - chicken."), they are an inspiration. One of the women is a long-time online friend of mine, and she is one of the most interesting people I've never met. Check out her other blog, The Yum Yum Factor, which is frequently featured on Tastespotting and other fancy pants foodie sites.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Theme Song

I have always believed that our lives would be significantly enhanced if only we had a soundtrack playing in the background during pivotal moments. Mundane moments, too, for that matter. Everyone knows how awesome having a kid is, or that first moment when you look into your partner's eyes and realize it's twue wuv. Now imagine it with a stirring, Henry Mancini-level orchestration in the background - it goes from great to spectacular.

I am often forced to compose my own score on the fly. This afternoon, I made cookies because sometimes I just need to bake something. I was explaining this to the Husband, but I didn't feel like he was totally getting it. So I decided to sing it.

"Sometimes I feel a deep, burning neeeeeeed...inside my soul, inside my heart, there is this neeeeeed. And when I get that feeling, there's just one thing to do, I have to cook that shit ouuuuuuuut!"

As usual, music hit the mark that was unreachable with mere words.

Katie gets it. I listened to her sing for ten minutes the other morning, a long, caterwauling ode to pre-teen angst. I remember doing the exact same thing when I was her age. Sometimes I got so into that I was moved to tears by my awesomeness.

"And my screams and cries with pain for you..." I am tearing up right now, I swear.

People talk about having a theme song for their lives, but I can't think of one that is exactly right for mine. Instead, I prefer to create my own soundtrack. One that turns the everyday into something special. Right now, I have to go score this baked ziti.

"Oh I apologize to all Italians, for I find I have no ziti, only egg nooooooodlesssss..."

So what's your theme song?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In the Mood

There is long list of things that must occur before sessy time can take place in the magical wonderland that is our bedroom. Planets must align. Choirs of angels must sing. Stars must congregate in the sky in the form of the Trojan Man.

Not so subtle hints start getting thrown out around 6.

Sooooo, look really good in those mom jeans.
Oh, I'd love to. Let's get everyone to bed on time and make it happen.

7:30 - OK, everyone has had a bath and supper! Into bed! What's that, Katie? You need a Native American costume for a presentation tomorrow? Hahahaha. OK, let's whip one together from a paper bag and some pipe cleaners.

8:00 - OK, for reals. Everyone in bed.

9:00 - After rocking, nursing, crying, rocking, pooping, playing, rocking, nursing...the baby finally gets to sleep.

Dude, I haven't showered today. And maybe yesterday. Give me 10 minutes.

9:15 - Out of the shower to the sounds of Zamfir's bitchin' pan flute coming through the iPhone. The lights are dimmed, a candle burns softly in the Thanksgiving themed votive holder Katie made in second grade. Nice. Nothing makes me hotter than the site of Tom Turkey peering at me with googly eyes over a vanilla scented Dollar Tree candle.

9:20 - I crawl into bed and begin my stretching and moaning regime.

Geeeez. My back is killing me.
I'm not rubbing your back.
I didn't ask you to! I'm just stretching. And I'm warning you - leave my boobs alone. Henry's been chewing my nipples and, just don't mess with them.

9:22 - As if on cue, the baby wakes up.

9:47 - I crawl back in bed.
Are you asleep?
OK, where were we?
You were telling me not to touch you.
Oh MY GOD. Are you going to start with that?
Will you stop arguing! It's always something.
OK OK OK, just stop. Let's start over. Will you rub my back a little?
OK! (I turn over and the tummy, it is grumbly). Oh geez.
What now?
I shouldn't have eaten all that granola. I'm a little gassy.
Are you going to fart? If you're going to fart, will you please leave the room?
OH MY GOD. ONE TIME. ONE TIME in 20 years, I fart during sex and now all of sudden I'm constantly farting!
It was one time, in my face.
Honestly, you're lucky it hasn't happened more. Statistically speaking...
Will you shut up?
I'm sorry. Of course, where were we?
Was that the baby?
There's always tomorrow night. 

On the upside, I have perfected my granola bar recipe!

Granola Bars
Makes approximately 24 2x2 inch bars, recipe can halved - adjust pan size and baking time to about 20-25 minutes


  • 16 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 4 cups
  • 3 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1 cup
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 3 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1 cup
  • 6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 6 ounces maple syrup, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup Dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2-ounce (4 T) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup dried fruit, any combination (I use craisins)
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, coconut, and wheat germ onto a sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, combine the honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.
Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir gently. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for approximately 35 minutes (top will be dry, but still springy when pressed down). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Bars cut best when completely cool.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

This Yard Sale is For the Dogs

Yard sales are the carnivals of suburbia, particularly community yard sales. The vendors range from the mundane housewife (yours truly) to the weird guy with 742 pairs of women's shoes, a half dozen Christmas wreaths, and nothing else. All united in one cause - offloading a bunch of crap we no longer want in hopes of making a few bucks.

Such was the motivation when my mom and I rolled into the church parking lot at 6 a.m. this morning. I was hoping to make enough to shoe my children for the winter (it was have a yard sale or find magic elves, and if I knew where to find magic elves, I'd have put those little fuckers to work years ago). My mom was hoping to make some cash for her trip to Vegas next month. This is the difference between being a mom and being a grandma.

The event attracted some interesting people. But stranger than the shoe and wreath guy, even stranger than the woman who wanted to haggle an item priced at a quarter (no, 17 cents is not a 'reasonable offer'), were the Dog People.

Who brings their dog to a yard sale? Lots of people, apparently. I had between 50 and 75 stuffed animals, and sold most of them to dog owners. If the dog was there, they got to pick it out themselves. Does Bitsy like the kitty cat? Or the widdle pony? If the dog wasn't there, I was subjected to a lecture on why the froggy webkinz's legs were just right for Bitsy's mouth, and her aversion to Pooh Bear (and who doesn't like Pooh Bear? Your dog is an asshole, lady!).

I spent a solid five minutes describing all the features (and even putting on!) the Baby Bjorn before the woman I was speaking to revealed it was for her dog. Right now the woman carries her in a backpack, but she's afraid it's going to jump out. Maybe because it's mortified to be riding around in a freaking backpack! She is a dog. It must be so humiliating for her to run into her little doggie friends at the park.

Hey, Bitsy! You want to play chase?
Yeah, uhh...I gotta sit in this backpack.
What? Don't you want to run around and sniff butts and lick balls and pee on stuff?
Yeah, but, you know. The human. She likes me in the backpack.
Bitsy, you look like an asshole!
What am I supposed to do? Eat her face or something?
Well, jeez. You don't have to just sit there like that. Wait a minute. Are you wearing a diaper?

Can you imagine if I put Shutup Roxy in a backpack? She probably would eat my face, and rightfully so.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Losing It

When Katie was in second grade, she had a horrible time with anxiety. To the point where she was lying in the middle of the floor every morning, crying and begging us not to send her to school. It was heart wrenching, and by far the most difficult thing I have had to deal with as a parent. In talking with her pediatrician, and later with a therapist, they both assured me of one thing - it will pass.

When Julia was just a few weeks old and would not stop crying, her little legs kicking out from her body, her tiny face contorted in pain from what ailment I did not know, when I walked and walked and walked around in circles until I thought I'd surely wear a hole in the floor, I thought - it will pass.

And now, when Henry screams his ear piercing scream at a volume and frequency that makes me wonder how his throat is not absolutely raw by the end of the day, I think, I have to think, - it will pass. 

Because if it doesn't, I will lose my fucking mind.

He is screaming because he doesn't have the words. He screams when he's happy, he screams when he's mad, he screams for attention and for books and for a diaper and for the window rolled down and for everything. Everything. He screams so much some days that I want to cry.

Today, I did.

We were in the car, following a meeting at school (during which he screamed) on the way to drop Katie off at church. He was screaming for...something, it doesn't even matter...and I whipped around and looked at him and screamed just as loud. It served no purpose, made me feel no better, did not seem to phase him, and only frustrated me more. But sometimes the patience, the quiet, the encouragement to "use your words" just gets old and I need to SCREAM.

It will pass. 

He is a beautiful, loving, funny, sweet boy. Who likes to scream. It will pass.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Go, Go, Joseph!

The past five weeks have been a whirlwind of rehearsals and performances of the West Side Civic Theatre's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Starring SFC's very own eldest child, Katie.

Okay, not exactly starring. But she was in the ensemble and as far as I'm concerned, she was the star.
Can you find her? It's like she hears me take the camera out of the bag.

It was a fantastic show (Julia saw it FIVE TIMES, not mention numerous rehearsals and listening to the CD in the car non-stop) with an awesome theater company and, while it was exhausting for her, she is so sad that it's over.

Oddly enough, so am I.

The morning of the last show, she auditioned for a Little Theater production. 78 girls and she made it to the final 20 for 12 parts...and then didn't get in. She was disappointed but had a good attitude, and not making it is as much a part of the experience as making it.

She's an amazing kid.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Meme? I Don't Need No Stinking Meme!

The craft Jedi and party planning diva Shannon, from Shannanigans, tagged me to do a meme on my old posts. Shannon admitted to not knowing how to pronounce 'meme'.

I will take it one step further - I don't know what the shizz a 'meme' is. In my house, mimis are boobs. I am guessing Shannon (and at least most of you) don't want to see my boobs. So, I went to the most reliable source for all things ever in the world, wikipedia, which tells me that a meme is "an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture".

I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds a little like a venereal disease.

The rules of this meme are as follows:
What this is about: To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.

1) Blogger is nominated to take part
2) Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category.
- Your most beautiful post
– Your most popular post
– Your most controversial post
– Your most helpful post
– A post whose success surprised you
– A post you feel didn’t got the attention it deserved
– The post that you are most proud of
3) Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part.
4) These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers
5) And so it goes on!
6) The site Trip Base be sharing the best posts from participating bloggers on their blog and everyday on Facebook and Twitter at #My7Links 
Here are my favorites. I hope you enjoy them. 
  • My most beautiful post: Magical Thinking* - Next to the birth of my children, nothing changed my life like the loss of my father. It didn't just change my life, it changed who I am. I still feel his presence it little ways, and this post is about that. 
  • My most popular post: You're So Vain, You Probably Think This Post is About You... - Despite the sucky title. I hate assholes and, apparently, so do you.
  • My most controversial post: Neither Rain, Nor Sleet... - But only among postal workers. 
  • My most helpful post: Advice for the New Father and Advice for the First Time Parent  - I know, that's two. But they go together.
  • A post whose success surprised me: Julia in the Middle - Because so many parents of middle children came to me and said "Yes. Exactly." I discovered how fiercely we love, and how protective we are, of our middles.
  • A post I feel didn't get the attention it deserved: Crazy 
  • The post I am most proud of: OK, this was hard. Because, proud of what? Some of my stuff is funny, but appears to be written by a sixth grader. Some of it is well written (I think), but is funny as a fart in a space helmet. So, I picked The First Fiction Friday. This short lived series was fun to do, but a lot of work. You people wore me out. 
And the five bloggers that I nominate for this project are...
Erin from Creating Little Monsters
Wendy from Sternly Blunt
Jodee from Der Cheeseblarg!
Sarah from The Ex-Pat Bride
Jennifer from Random Tales and Nonsense

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Who Wants to Party?

Some of you may remember me mentioning my burning desire to wear a fancy dress somewhere fancy. The Husband suggested I throw a Mom Prom - a bunch of friends dress up and have a date night. That sounded fun enough, but if something sounds a little fun with half a dozen couples, it stands to reason that it would be even more fun with a couple hundred people. Right?

That's exactly what's going to happen on March 24, 2012, thanks to the amazing women at Triad Moms on Main, who are sponsoring a gala event to benefit our local chapter of Dress for Success. Dress for Success is a global not-for profit organization that helps clothe, train and support disadvantaged women to help them achieve economic independence. Who wouldn't want to be part of that? 

There will be dinner and entertainment and an auction, all held in the incredibly beautiful Millennium Center in downtown Winston-Salem, NC. It is going to be swank.

If you're in the area and want to get involved, there's a few ways to do it:
  • Buy tickets and attend (more to come on this)
  • Volunteer your time and talent to help plan the event
  • Donate a product or service to the auction

If you want to help with the planning, come out to Christopher's at 712 Brookstown Avenue in Winston on September 15 at 7:00 PM for an informal meeting. If you can't make it, or you want to donate a product or service, you can e-mail me at

If you're not local, and would like to donate to the auction, send me an e-mail!

I am so excited to be part of this, and I know it's going to be HUGE! We are lacking a good name (2012 Dress for Success Spring Gala does not exactly flow from the tongue), so SFC is going to run a little contest. Submit your proposed name for the event via e-mail by October 1, 2011. The sponsors will vote on the names and the winner will receive 2 free tickets to the event! Sweet!

I'll be mentioning more about the event throughout the planning process, but until then be sure to check out Triad Moms on Main and Dress For Success!

 (and by the way, this will totally cross #35 off the list of Thirty-Nine.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lunch Lady

I love everything about Katie's elementary school. I love the teachers, I love the administration, I love the small town hominess of it all. But talk to me for more than five minutes about school and you will learn the one thing that I hate with a white hot passion:

School Lunch.

School lunch is, at best, barely edible. At worst, it is a vile, soggy, breaded mess of reheated crap on a plate. I wholeheartedly support the changes that so many people are trying to make, and wonder exactly when those changes are going to reach us out here in the boonies.

Our elementary school was given Title I status this year. If you're not familiar with the term, Title I schools typically have 40% or more of the students classified as low income. Title I means more federal funding, and in a rural area where many of the kids are living close to the poverty line, that's a good thing.

So, with approximately 40% of our student body underprivledged and on free/reduced lunch, the lunch (and often breakfast, too) they receive at school may well be the best meal they get all day. Don't we owe it to them to give them something more nutritious, more delicious, more palatable, than chicken dino-bites and razzy applesauce?

I think so.

I'm not a food snob. I believe that people should eat delicious food made from quality ingredients, in a wide variety. I think pizza every now and again is fine. So are chips and chocolate and ice cream and Moon Pie trifles. But if a child is going to get one good meal a day, then it should pack all the nutritional punch it can. And in that regard, our schools are failing our children. Even the schools that we love.

I started this post intending to just share ideas for packing lunches, and it seems my soapbox got in the way of that. New ideas for lunches are always a popular topic among moms of elementary aged kids, so I promise to do that soon. In the meantime, here's a recipe for some really outstanding granola bars I made today. I started with a recipe from Alton Brown, then heavily modified it because, as usual, I always get a bug up my butt to make something and then get started without first checking to see if I have all the ingredients.

They are outstanding. Next time, I will use the wheat germ like I was supposed to instead of the whole wheat flour. I think they would hold together a little better. I will also use the 9x9 pan I was supposed to bake the actual bars in, instead of a half sheet pan, which would help as well. Other than that, the modifications (especially the almond extract) were awesome. The girls did not care for the cherry craisins, and they don't really like raisins, so I'll have to find a dried fruit to suit them. Pineapple or mango might be good, if I switched the extract back to vanilla.

Eat however you want, but feed your children well. They depend on you for it.

SFC Granola Bars  

(Bastardized from the amazing and always reliable Alton Brown)


  • 8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
  • 1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup (this is where I used whole wheat flour, as it's what I had on hand. In researching, it seems flax seed is a better substitute. Something else I don't keep on hand!)
  • 6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup (thanks to the Husband's fried JJ, a beekeeper!)
  • 1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
  • 1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract (original recipe calls for vanilla, and I was, unbelievably, out of vanilla extract!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries (here is where I used the cherry juice infused cranberries. Kid fail.)
  • 1 C coconut (because I love it, omit it if you don't)
  • Optional - Good handful of semisweet chocolate chips (because they're delicious, that's why)


Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, coconut, and wheat germ (or whole wheat flour) onto a half sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium  saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit and chocolate chips, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Number Fourteen

The morning started out relatively cool, and we had nowhere to go, so I decided it was as good a time as any to get in the attic and go through the boxes I've been toting around for 20 or so years. It would be a good day to mark something off the list of Thirty-Nine.

There were a half dozen, stacked in a corner, the tape that held them together yellowed and peeling. "Kelly - kid stuff" hastily scrawled in black marker across the top. I'm sure that when I packed them, I assumed they would get to their destination and be neatly sorted and put away. I certainly didn't think they'd journey through three states, 4 apartments and 3 houses. I certainly didn't think most of the things wouldn't see the light of day until two decades later.

It was going to be a little like Christmas.

The first few boxes were easy - books and books and books. Crazy weird books, well-worn books, my beloved Nancy Drews. I sorted them quickly into piles for the children, piles for a yard sale, piles to keep in a box. This is a piece of cake, I thought.

Then I faced down the biggest box, 2 feet square and up to my waist, full of dolls. There were two things I loved more than anything as a child, books and dolls. I knew the dolls would be in questionable condition. My 20 year old self had taken no care or regard in packing, and the box was a jumbled mess. Mandy, Victoria, Holly Hobby, shoved on top of the Madame Alexander dolls that were my pride and joy at 8. The dolls from Malta, Indonesia...all the places my father had traveled, each one a gift to me when he returned home. A small, silken pillow my grandmother had made, sprayed with her perfume and given me shortly before her death. I had slept with it many nights, and it was the closest I could come to not missing her. Now it was all a mess, with broken arms and wrinkled clothes, the perfume on the pillow an ugly brown. An ink pen, carelessly thrown in the box during packing, had leaked and big blue blotches stained some of the dolls.

It was a sad, ruined box.

I laid out the dolls, looking to see which ones were salvageable, and which ones were better tossed out. At the end of the sorting, the pile of what was worthwhile was pitiably small. I looked at the broken dolls and realized it would be impossible to throw any of them out.

And so I packed them back in the box, exercising more care with them broken than I ever did with them whole. This box would just have to move with us, wherever we may go, for the rest of my life. I will leave it up to my children to sort through it when I'm gone, because I just don't have the heart to.