Friday, October 29, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jack-o-Lanterns in Waiting

Carved pumpkins lose their appeal pretty quickly.  I’ve tried putting petroleum jelly on the cut edges, and even put one in the fridge overnight, but they always end up the same way – shriveled and not nearly the right kind of scary looking.  So, we always wait until the Halloween to carve them, since the day before is dedicated to a certain child’s birthday.

Until then, the pumpkins we have out look cute enough, but kind of naked, and this year we have more than ever, since every child wants a couple to themselves for hacking away at.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting a new Christmas idea book, Holiday with Matthew Mead, which is supposed to be more doable than Martha-type ideas, which I lovelovelove to look at, yet usually am too intimidated by the scale, time needed, and/or likely cost to really try.  I look… and I sigh…  I’m determined I will find at least a couple of new ways to spruce up the old homestead for the holidays while also not completely neglecting my kids, taking over the entire table for days to try to complete some monstrously complex project, etc.  As a companion to the book, there is a blog, and I spied this adorable photo today.


See what I mean?  I love this.  And it is tangibly doable.  I might even have socks like this—don’t you judge!  hee hee—even if I lack the cool chair.

I spent a few moments with a piece of black construction paper and scissors, et voila.


Sure, it’s not as masterful as the inspiration, but it looks awful darn cute, and I did it in about 30 seconds.  Imagine what I could do with 5 whole minutes!  ;)

Carter was so tickled by the bandit pumpkin that we had to dress up a couple of others.

One of Paul’s old tees that suffered from hole in lip while drinking coffee-itis (a terrible malady) served to mummify this one.


Our plan with the white pumpkin is to carve a ghost, but in the meantime…


I think the one that a confused squirrel attacked might have to dress up as Frankenpumpkin for a couple of days if I can find the right paper to make hair… you can make out some of the bite marks behind Ghosty up there, but the real craziness is on the backside, where I turned it away from street view.  Tooth marks and all!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Being a Mom Means…

…constantly worrying about, oh… everything.  Did you remember everything your child needed for school today?  Does his helmet fit correctly?  Is it alright my kids ate 24 yogurts in 48 hours (true story) and does that mean they like it a lot, or have some underlying deficiency for which their bodies are compensating (I think they simply like yogurt a lot)?  Do they have a sweater on?  I could go on and on…

Sometimes, though, I have to laugh at myself.

We enjoyed a sparkling, crisp fall afternoon yesterday at the park, and I took some photos (shock).  While Cole napped, I transferred photos from my SD card to the hard drive and came across this.


We often joke that poor Cole has the “english teeth” in the family.  (Sorry, English people...I am sure you get tired of the jokes and that many Brits have naturally lovely teeth…)  Who knows how many of my children will require orthodontia, but we have a good hunch about this guy.

For some reason, maybe because I didn’t have anything better to obsess over at that moment, my eye settled on the back molar that seems to be refracted multiple times in the water… and how there is a dark spot.  I brushed that tooth a few hours before, and I see his teeth all the time, as he is a throw your head back and laugh hard kind of dude, so you’d think I’d chalk it up as an oddity and move on.

Nope!  I zoomed in on the photo, and became convinced my youngest child had a tooth literally—actively!!-- rotting out of his head, in spite of fluoride toothpaste and rinse, twice and sometimes three times daily wrestling matches tooth brushing sessions, and common sense.  I needed to see that tooth, pronto.  The Ren & Stimpy cartoon with the Tooth Beaver kept blipping through my head… Must. See. Tooth.  Toothtoothtoothtooth

So—get this—I pried open my sleeping child’s mouth to peer at his molar.  Of course it looked fine.  Thankfully he remained asleep, since that would be a terrible way to awaken.  Being a mom sometimes means you go a little loco, man.

Monday, October 25, 2010

“Smugly” Doll

Knock-off product names crack me up.  They’re sooooo close to the original, but just not quite to the point of trademark infringement that they’re often better than the real name.

Demon Donkey has to be my all-time favorite.

Bunny and a buddy created something this weekend: the Smugly Doll, not to be confused with the Ugly Doll™, with which I am sure there is only purely coincidental similarity.  The girls’ doll, which we could call Le Chat, is very different, non?  (Please don’t sue us.)


I think they did a great job!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Almost 5

Nearly time to say “Goodbye” to being 4.

Time to say “Hello” to his new big boy bike.

We walked to our awesome neighborhood bike shop—we really are lucky it’s so close and SO good—just to browse.  At least I was pretty sure we were just browsing…

We were showed two bikes that were the right size for Carter who needs training wheels for a little while longer.  He’s just a little wobbly.  :)

I thought he’d go for the bright blue one.  He developed an instant crush on the white with red and black accents.

Good thing I’d brought the bike helmet just in case.

Little Man rode out the front door, apparently ready to go live his life on the roads with his new wheels.  I called him back, reminding him I still needed to get air in my BOB tires, pay for the bike, and—oh, by the way!—that he didn’t know his way back home from the store. 


Having addressed those minor issues, we were on our way.  He quickly got the hang of back breaking and realized he could make some sweet skid marks.


That evening his sister joined us for a ride through to hood.


Nothing, not even the Grim Reaper himself would deter Carter from his newfound love.


Well, maybe he paused a bit.  Halloween decorations are cool, man.


I pushed the BOB along, as Cole has yet to join in with the biking/scootering crowd, occasionally hollering things like, “Car!” and “Don’t run into that!”  I’m a mom; it’s my job to yell inane, obvious things like that.  :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mr. Fix It


In our weekly Discovery Museum visit, Cole spent a great deal of time in the Bob the Builder exhibit, which has been extended through January.  Usually Wednesday is a rather quiet morning there, but there were about half a dozen groups of preschool and early elementary students… um… excitedly pushing their way to the front of everything and generally upsetting Cole, who prefers his playtime at “his” museum shove free.  (I totally get that the older kids were just excited, and BLESS their chaperones who had about 8-12 crazy kids per one harried looking adult, so I am not casting aspersions… just stating that Cole was ticked.  Consequently, to help him not go to DEFCON 5 and start whaling on people, I found myself talking in that voice, where you’re talking to your child, but only kind of… where you’re really talking to the other kids or their parents:  “Calm down, I am sure that little boy is just so excited he forgot to ask if he could have that toy you were holding and enjoying before he grabbed it.”  You know, that voice, haha.)

After a while, though, the herds moved on, and Cole was able to spend time doing what he wanted for as long as he wanted.  This particular visit he wanted to try out his hand at plumbing.  He spent 20 minutes fixing this sink.  I tried a few times to explain to him that the pipes belong under the sink and showed him where the drain came through.


Cole didn’t agree with my suggestions.


There’s probably a reason toddlers are not generally considered the most effective plumbers.  :)


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Well, so much for THAT idea.

We all have our gross comfort food that we love in spite of multiple dubious qualities.  For me it’s hominy and eggs all scrambled together—such an obscure combination that I had some to the conclusion it was something my mother made up one day when she really needed to go shopping and just told me it was a real food.  A couple of years ago, after my semiannual-ish whipping up of a full pan on a ‘forage night’, I decided to Google “hominy and eggs” and whaddaya know.  It’s a real thing.  At any rate, I love it.  Nobody else I know does.  More for me, I say!

Bunny loves Ramen noodles.  I try to avert my eyes from the nutritional content as I make it for her as an after school snack a couple of times a month.  Some days ya just gotta have your thing, even if it has 5 months worth of sodium in a serving.

I thought I would try to make them at least an eensy bit more healthy by going for schmancy Cup “O” Noodles, which has a token sprinkle of veggies mixed in it.  Figuring it would be a small enough amount that she’d just eat it and that it’d be a pain to remove the veggies that she’d just eat it, I served a bowl the other day.

Not so much.  Girlfriend made her point.


Monday, October 18, 2010

I Don’t Wanna Work…




…I just want to bang on this trash can and pretend it’s a drum all day…

As much clatter as this makes, and as dinged as my kitchen trash bin is becoming, I welcome a drum for this kid—a very STURDY drum.  Perhaps they make steel drums for toddlers?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Aaaand we’re walking, and we’re walking….

Walk-A-Thon is our elementary school’s primary fundraiser of the year, and this year’s was the best out of the four our family has participated in by far.

The weather was perfect.  Last year the little walkers trudged in 100+ degree heat.  I am sure there had to be an impact on total dollars raised because of lower miles walked.  These are 5-11 year olds, not Kenyan marathoners.  :)

Yesterday it was sunny with some clouds, in the upper 70s, with a bit of a cool breeze.  Much better for walkers, volunteers, and onlookers.  Phew.

Walkathon2010 001

No walkathon would be complete without face painting…

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…and crazy hair.

Walkathon2010 011

Made-up and coiffed, it was time for some serious walking.  Bunny’s goal was 10 miles in 5 hours.  We talked about pace and decided she’d get 5 miles under her belt before resting for lunch.

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I have to pause a moment and comment on the wonderful tee shirts this year.  A classmate’s mom who’s also a graphic designer created these beauties.  After years of white and heather gray shirts deemed acceptable only for pajama tops and wearing on the beach, it was so nice to see so much color—and I know Bunny will wear this one much more often.

Walkathon2010 023

Carter had an awesome all-day—and I mean ALL day, 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.—playdate with his buddy Zach, so Cole was not in his usual comfort zone yesterday.  Coupled with all the activity every-everywhere, he mostly wanted to hang out under the umbrella and goof off.  He also took a righteous nap splayed out on the blanket, bringing much amusement to passers by.

Walkathon2010 034

In the beginning hours Bunny walked with friends.

Walkathon2010 053

As she began to tire out, it was time to call in support.  We took turns walking with her, and sometimes Paul carried her on his back for a lap to let her rest.  Finally, with 15 minutes left before time to tally up and check out, Bunny had met her goal!

I want to go for eleven miles.

Bunny was limping.  Paul was tired from carrying 60 pounds on his back for a couple of miles total as well as accompanying her for much of the afternoon.

I decided I was the reserve support system.  Honestly, I was not sure we’d make it, since I can’t carry her much further than from the living room to her bed.  However, Bunny pulled an extra mile out of pure determination and she did it.  She knew an extra mile would be extra money for the school, as some of her pledges were per mile.

I think only pride made her not beg to be pushed in Cole’s stroller back to the car.  :)  This year she chose the neighborhood pizza place as her celebratory dinner venue.  She and her brothers ate a whole large cheese pizza between only them, and she also mooched off my salad bar plate—the girl loves baby corn, olives, and whatever that weird fluffy red jello stuff is.

Today she’s looking like she’d like to sit on the sofa and veg out… and given a storm system is moving in for possibly our first real rain of the year, it looks like she may get her wish.  Another wish she got: Nutella-chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.  I think she earned that treat.  :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Birdman

Disclaimer: I really don’t like pigeons. As in, I fully agree with anyone else who considers them flying rats.

However, I have a bird lover in my midst who does loves them all, even the ones Mama considers gross and vermin-like. He does not discriminate.

A couple of days ago, after hours of playing in the Discovery Museum, the boys and I had a snack outside in the park in a shady spot. Someone accidentally dropped a bit of pretzel on the ground and, of course, a few pigeons snapped them up.

That was all it took for Carter to decide he had to provide lunch to the greater bird population of Guadalupe Park.



He then proceeded to name them all. The names he chose were surprising to me: Grace, Bob, Judy, Red Eyes, Freckles, Mary, Dude… I can’t remember them all, and I am sure he can’t either. But really, Judy?? I don’t know a single woman under 55 named Judy. I guess that makes it ripe for a comeback. :)


We didn’t manage to eat many of the pretzels ourselves, but it was a fair cost to Carter. (He also discovered pigeons won’t eat string cheese or crunchy green beans but they will check over and over to make sure a nasty cigarette butt is not food. Bird brains…)

Friday, October 15, 2010

{this moment}


I have to cheat a little this week and just say this: Cole is really reminding me of that racy photo George Constanza had made here…  (Oh boy… and I was thinking the end of summer meant Cole would wear clothes!)

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cookin’ the Book: Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Fried Steak, Burgundy Mushrooms, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake in a Cast Iron Skillet (Phew!)

Man, oh man. This weekend I made serious progress towards my goal of completing all the recipes in The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I’m attempting to cook every one of her recipes (in the book, not her site!), and, while her book may not be as recipe-packed as Joy of Cooking, it’s proved to be a big task fitting in these yummy, rich recipes into a diet that can’t reasonably be that decadent on a daily, or sometimes weekly basis.
Flipping through the book to see what is left to make my eyes fell on her chicken-fried steak recipe. Immediately I thought of our friend Tom, who I know loves that treat. We had not had his family over in way too long, so it was obviously fate. It took a few weeks for our schedules to align, and Sunday was the day for a big ole’ feast, complete with the obvious side of mashed potatoes, her burgundy mushrooms, and, oh heck, why not? I decided, since I was clearly on a health kick here, why not go for broke and make the pineapple upside down cake, too? It seemed sensible at the time. ;)
Burgundy mushrooms is very easy to make, but takes a very, very long time. Think: waking up early to put a 20 lb turkey in the oven for Thanksgiving long time. 9 hours long time. Beyond that, though, it’s also very easy: dump in all the ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer for, oh… forever. By 10 a.m. the fragrance was killing me it smelled so delicious.
I also prepared the mashed potatoes well in advance, as the recipe states it can be put into a casserole dish and refrigerated until about 30 minutes before you want to eat, and simply reheated at 350. Chicken-fried steak and the cake both needed to be made right before meal time. I baked the cake in the oven at the same time I was reheating the potatoes, and had to adjust the baking time to add probably 10 minutes since the oven was being shared. Otherwise, it worked well, and the cake came out of the pan perfectly. The middle pineapple ring stuck when I turned out the cake, but it fit right back in place like a piece in a puzzle. No worries!
I was happy when everything came together at about the times I’d hoped, and everyone tucked into dinner with gusto.
chicken-fried steak with gravy, creamy mashed potatoes, burgundy mushrooms, and a token smidge of broccoli salad
We had to digest for a good while between dinner and dessert, but we’re troopers. I served the warm cake with vanilla ice cream (sure, why not while I’m at it??), and then we all went into a coma by the fire.
Actually, the kids all ran around like crazy monkeys while we adults tried very hard to do nothing at all. I heard studies disproved the old wives tale that kids feel a sugar rush after a treat. I say to those people, “Come lookee here. These kids are hyper!!” It was okay, though. We pulled out some glo-stick necklaces, let ‘em have at the flashlights, and they were very happy monkeys. It was a really warm evening, and perfect for hanging outside after dark, plus, since it’s fall, the after-dark whooping was over by 8 p.m. I am sure the neighbors were happy about that. :)
Complete recipe and photos illustrating preparation of burgundy mushrooms can be found HERE. Ditto for the mashed potatoes, HERE. The chicken-fried steak (UPDATE: Can now be found HERE!) and pineapple-upside down cake recipes are only in her cookbook for the time being—sorry! However, the two linked recipes would be faboo with a holiday dinner. I am definitely going to make the ‘shrooms along with our Christmas dinner, as I think it’ll be perfect with rib roast, which I make every year. Mmmm, can’t wait…

Monday, October 11, 2010

It is Monday and I am Lucky

Two out of three children are busy at their schools, and my youngest is in Gabba Land… there is still a sink-load of dishes to process through the dishwasher (after running it twice yesterday!)… I stunk up a load of laundry by accident, forgetting it in the hubbub yesterday (it’s soaking with some faux Oxy-Clean to rectify that ick)… I have one of those gigantic blue IKEA bags overflowing with clean laundry that needs folding… and I am lucky.

I’m lucky that I have three wonderful, smart, sometimes bickering, often loving, always interesting children to chase around.  I’m lucky that their father is always loving and often understands that when I tell him he needs to go on duty as ‘bad cop’ he doesn’t really need to be ‘bad cop,’ so he often turns the crabby evening kids around by playing with them when I am just plain spent… even if that sometimes means all the cushions are flying after a crazy pillow fight.



I am lucky that I get to spend one on one time with this little guy every week in as amazing and involving a place as the Discovery Museum.


I am lucky to be able to vicariously enjoy a child’s thrill of playing outside in the dark on a school night, spooky faces, shrieks and all.


I’m lucky that my eldest is an all-around great kid, good friend, and doesn’t take herself too seriously.  I’m touched she spent her own hard-saved allowance money to buy Carter’s birthday present herself, and was so excited she had to give it to him yesterday (3 weeks early).

I’m lucky to have so many wonderful friends, both near and far.  I wish I was lucky enough to have more family close by, but am thankful for the many ways we can keep in touch in spite of geography.

Sure, there is always this or that to improve upon, but overall, in so many ways, I am lucky, lucky, lucky.

Now, off to see about those dishes, and that laundry.  I don’t think I’ll be lucky enough for those to do themselves!  Cheers!

Friday, October 08, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Bit By Bit

For a 2.75 year-old who is often mistaken for a smallish 4 year-old, Cole is ironically hesitant in new situations.  He’s very cautious, and tells me something is scary everyday.  Granted, scary is a broad term for him, and really means anything from scary to something that makes him unappy/uncomfortable—a too-tight shirt has been called scary.

Compared to his crazyass older sister, who jumped off a high dive with almost no hesitation at age 5, Cole is definitely a bit of a scardey-cat.  I don’t try to push him too much, because he’ll warm up to things when he’s ready, and because he’s my baby and I baby him, I admit.  :)

When we went to the Boardwalk to enjoy rides in August, I really thought perhaps Cole would go for the chance to ride on, well, at least Bulgy the Whale.  It’s probably the tamest ride this side of sitting still.  But Cole just didn’t want to.  Every time we go to Happy Hollow, he refuses to ride anything, too.  The funny part is this: he loves Happy Hollow!  The playground there is so much fun for him that he is completely happy just doing that.

It is a really nice playground, no arguments there.


This is the view of the ‘big kid’ area from the upper level of the ‘little kid’ area.  It’s challenging, well built, and, if you have a membership and are not ponying up $12 per person over the age of 1 to get in each time, well worth the trip just to play here, I think.

Cole has already outgrown the little kid portion, and prefers playing on the large structure now.  It’s great fun chasing him all through it, and he impresses me with his persistence and ability.


I really should not wear flip flops to Happy Hollow.


I felt confident in the security of all the ropes and ladders… not as confident I wouldn’t lose a stupid shoe.  :)


So yes, it is a lot of fun to play here with Cole, and if that is all he wants to do, that’s okay.  He’s two, not twelve.

However, the last time we went,  I thought I would give it a college try once more and just show him a ride I knew he’d enjoy if he gave it a shot.  It has little fire trucks and bells.  Cole is going to be a fireman for Halloween.  He loves fire trucks.  If anything would entice him, that would be the ride.

We watched the kids on it, going round and round, ringing the bells.

Do you want to try this ride?  You can make the bell go ding, ding, ding!
Yes, I do!

I knew better than to ask twice.  We ran as fast as little legs could move over to the nearest fire truck and I showed him the buckle (usually this is the deal breaker for him—he gets that far and balks).  He climbed in, I buckled him, and stood nearby anxiously waiting for all the cars to fill and the attendant to check the belts, distracting him by reminding him over and over again, “Ding, ding, ding the bell!”


He pulled that rope to ding the bell, and I nearly hopped from one foot to the other, waiting for the other shoe to fall, and for him to say he wanted out, like he always does.

But then…


…the attendant finally was ready to start the ride, and I sneaked to the outside of the gate.  Cole did it!  He rode a ride!


Cole liked, no, loved it!  He rode three more times, and then for a finale, as the speakers announced the park was closing in 5 minutes…


…he rode the madcap action of Granny Bugs with his big brother.  This thrill ride not only goes around in circles, but up and down a whole foot or two, also.  You can see the high-tech restraints necessary to assure safety here.

Seriously, this mama’s heart grew three sizes watching her baby overcome his fears and enjoy these rides.  He’s still my cautious boy, and that is not all bad.  I can’t wait to see how our next trip to Happy Hollow goes and if he tries anything new.  Maybe he will.  Maybe he won’t.  Either way, hopefully I’ll remember not to wear flip flops.  :)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


My first-born seems to always have had a pretty good sense of what she does and does not like. 

To oversimplify it, she likes what she already has mastered and intensely dislikes struggling to learn new tasks.  Art and movement came easy to her very early, so she focused heavily on drawing, crafting, running, and swimming.  By the age of two she could dive and swim freestyle, side breathing.  It’s not unusual for a person to want to feel more success upon tasting it, and to try to excel in what they’re naturally gifted.  That’s the nature of talents.

Sitting still was not her forte, and still is not.  Patience with herself to improve reading and other schoolwork came very slowly!  Just today, subtracting 4-digit numbers with borrowing, etc., drove her to tears, and not because she can’t do it – she doesn’t like sitting and doing and DOING it.  She’d love for me to sit by her and spoon feed her the steps to basically reduce it back down to orally answering much simpler problems.  Regardless of how many times I explain to her that she has to do this for herself so that it will become easier/faster and so that she is prepared for subsequent lessons, my 8 1/2 year-old is reduced to tears of anguish and frustration.  After two or three acts of her one-man operetta I Can’t Do It… Why is My Life So Awful and Who Invented Homework Anyway??!!??, she settles down and does her work with little difficulty.  Such is math.  (Ironically, she scored in the ONE HUNDREDTH percentile in 3 areas of the math portion of her standardized testing last spring, including in subtraction.  She totally can do it—just doesn’t like new things.)

My wiggly toddler is learning to… learn.  We’ve never questioned her intellect.  I have, however, worried that she would never care to convert raw intelligence into academic achievement.  She’s always had a pretty good sense of self esteem and, I fretted she would be happy as a clam sliding by because it’s easier, and because she knows we love her unconditionally… and, dare I say it, she kind of seemed like she’d be perfectly willing to take advantage of that.  I should have known better, but one of the main job requirements of motherhood is worrying about every and anything.  I would probably have worried about her burning out at the age of 13 if she was 180 degrees the other way.  :)


Reading has been even less enjoyable… until this year.  Finally (hallelujah) she understands.  Reading is not taking away from her playtime.  It is the brain’s playtime.  Something clicked and it’s not only about sitting still or how manyminutesleftbeforereadingtimeisoverMOM.  It’s about the story.  It’s an adventure.  She can go anywhere, do anything… in a book.


A stack of new books to read excites her.  I can’t wait until I spy her sniffing an old book.  I’ve already caught her reading in bed when the lights should be out.


Don’t mess with a girl about to finish a book.  As if I’d dare do that…


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