So the Fish Said...

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem, I whisper with my lips close to your ear.

- Walt Whitman

Meet the Fish

I want to get a pet duck and keep it in the bathtub.
I am addicted to chap stick and altoids.
I am freakishly flexible.


World's Most Beautiful Child

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World's Most Handsome Child

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Other Important Things

Clive Owen

Clive Owen
Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend


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Last minute is my middle name

Where do you buy those temporary tattoo things in wide-eyed cartoon character and pretty flower varieties, other than individually from vending machines? Please note how quickly I have moved from "My, I find fake tattoos for children so distasteful" to "I need 500 of those sumbitches with which to plaster the children at the beach next week."

We leave for a week at the beach tomorrow. (Dear Potential Robbers, the blue rug in the living room is by far the most valuable thing in the house. Bring a friend. And a hand truck, that thing is heavy.) Anybody want to guest post for me? Leave a comment or email and I'll get back to you.

Owen, Addendum

Sweet Owen,

Your last letter did not do you justice. Here's my attempt to make good.

You sing two songs. You do "Choo-choo choo choo up the railroad track" and "Bubble bubble bubble bubble pop," both complete with appropriate hand motions. You repeat almost any word you hear or sign you see. On Tuesday, it was looking in a mirror, being asked "Where's Owen?" and pointing to yourself and saying "Owen." Yesterday you wanted another veggie chip, I asked you to say please, while signing it, and you repeated both the word and the sign.

You can answer almost any question you are asked. Yes, you want to go outside. Yes, you want to go to the pool. Yes, you can go get the blue ball and give it to Mia. No, you do not want to take your shoes off, you most certainly do not. You even tell me just before you need a diaper change, but then spend ten minutes running away from me once the need is actualized.

You are slowly discovering the joys of swimming (splashing, floating, splashing, toys, splashing), can sit and play with your sister (when she will tolerate it) for surprisingly long stretches, and love above all things to run away from me while giggling madly. When I take you to the pool, you spend most of your time picking up girls. I keep telling you that you are too young, but you don't care.

You are incorrigible, you never met a "no" you couldn't ignore, an obstacle you couldn't scale while your mother shrieks in horror, or an object you couldn't bash your head firmly against. Last night you pitched head first off the bed, howled for a minute, and then demanded "up, up, up" to do it again.

When the phone rings you put your hand over your ear and say "hi." Everything is a phone to you, your shoes, the monitors, toy cars. You love to open and close things, hide, play peek-a-boo, give hugs and sloppy open-mouthed kisses and skin-tingling high fives. The world spreads out before you like a never-ending playground, and you are in constant motion trying to discover every inch of it before another despised naptime or bedtime rolls around.

Love,
Mama

I'm boring. Don't say I didn't warn you.

My new iPhone just left Anchorage! The kids and I will be sitting at home all day tomorrow awaiting delivery. Did you know that new iPhones are being individually FedEx'd from Shenzen, China? It seems like there should be some more efficient way to do that, doesn't it? Like ship them all to Duluth and then go from there?

I was thinking that I was finally going to be ever so slightly cool with my fancy new iPhone, but then my twelve year old babysitter told me that most of her friends have iPhones. To which I replied "Are you fucking kidding me?" so now I need a new babysitter as soon as she tells her mother. But that is ridiculous, yes? And also proves that I am still not cool, but at least I have the new one and most of the twelve year olds probably have the old model.

But the thing that does make me cool is that I finally have some lovely, amazing, hard-core drugs for the fucking miserable dyshidrosis on my hands, and it took all of a day and a half to give me a new lease on life. If I ever start to waver on the third child thing, I think I will just have to remind myself about the possibility of another two years of my hands turning to hamburger with no access to steroids and that will cure me. I've even been wearing my wedding ring, which I haven't done for more than an hour at a stretch since I was five months pregnant with Owen. The dermatologist even told me that if it gets really bad again, I can go in for a shot of prednisone. My response was "You know, that is the hottest thing anyone has ever said to me." People are no longer eyeing my hands and sheltering their children when they see me in public, and it makes me happy.

(Every time I mention the dyshidrosis, I get a couple of helpful and kind emails from people sending me the same two or three links to non-steroid treatment options with the sometimes veiled and sometimes blatant expression of horror that I would even consider steroids when a couple of nice herbs would clear me right up. And I appreciate that you people are so kind and so helpful, but I had 20 solid months of this crap without a single day of relief while pregnant and breastfeeding so therefore banned from steroids. I tried that. I tried that too. Yes, I promise you, I even tried that. Holistic, organic, ancient Chinese secret, crackpot, potentially dangerous, just plain stupid, I was desperate and I tried them all. I'm blissfully happy with the drugs.)

No Fools

Mia, almost four, abides no fools. As evidence, I present the following:

Mia has a doll that she received as a gift the Christmas before Owen was born. His name is Baby Herman. Baby Herman spends months neglected on the floor of her closet, and then experiences a surge of popularity and is treated like a real human child for several days before he is again abandoned. Last week was a Baby Herman week. He ate with us, slept with Mia, was dressed and undressed and bathed and napped and patted and so on for several days. One night after dinner, Mia was walking around the kitchen, holding him by his outstretched arms, and "teaching Baby Herman to walk." Since Baby Herman was naked, I warned Mia that she had better be careful that he didn't tinkle on the floor. "Mommy," she said, rolling her eyes and smirking, "he isn't real."

Two days ago while tucking Mia into bed, she requested that we talk about lions. I covered the basics, live in Africa, live in groups called prides, hunt animals to eat, sleep a lot, etc. And then I said "Hey Mia, do you know how to tell the difference between a boy lion and a girl lion." And she said "Yes!" And I said, "Well, how do you tell?" And she said, "A boy lion has a penis."

Not quite what I was going for, but I couldn't argue the point.

SKORT!

Wore the skort yesterday, and I discovered that the real problem with skorts is one that none of you warned me about. You think you are wearing a skirt, so every time you go to pee you yank the thing up and give yourself a major skort wedgie.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Dishwasher, Reprise

People, I'm sorry. A lot of you seem to really have problems centered on the dishwasher. And the fact is that I don't. I unload the dishwasher every morning while the kids are having breakfast (Owen has to be strapped onto something while I do it or else he tries to "help," so i opt for using the high chair instead of duct taping him to the couch. And ok, I do have one issue with the dishwasher. Actually, it is Chris's issue. He gets very upset when he puts something in the dishwasher and I move it. He feels that I am criticizing him, trying to make him feel incompetent, some crap like that. I cannot make him understand that I am just trying to load the dishwasher in a way that will result in fitting as much as possible into it and all of those things getting clean and that I constantly move things that I loaded into the dishwasher myself with the same goal in mind. I reload the dishwasher, and it makes my husband very angry.

I thought it was going to be blatantly clear that this post was not actually about unloading the dishwasher. Actually, I still think it is blatantly clear that it is not actually about unloading the dishwasher, but the vast majority of the people who were kind enough to comment never got the slightest inkling that I was referring to anything other than unloading the dishwasher. Unloading the dishwasher was meant to be a... well, I don't know what to call it. Not a metaphor really, perhaps a surrogate? Yes, a surrogate for some other situation where you and your spouse discuss issue X, you and your spouse jointly decide that the appropriate response to issue X is for your spouse to take action Y, which action is something that should be completed in a timely fashion to avoid inconvenience or other undesired results, and then your spouse frequently claims to be just about to complete action Y while never actually doing anything about it.

(If you want to know exactly what I am talking about, you can get clued in here.)

And I feel sort of bad about it, that I got so many of you riled up about the dishwasher or other annoying ways in which your household responsibilities and your partner's household responsibilities are unbalanced. But I also want to thank you, because so many of the comments on that post are unintentionally hilarious that I have been laughing my ass off for two days. So I am sorry that I lead you astray, but I appreciate the steps you took to unwittingly improve my week..

(And I've decided to keep the skort.)

Problem. Maybe.

This is how I shop:

Step One: Realize that every single piece of clothing I own is torn, stained, or the wrong size.
Step Two: Plan to go get some new clothes. Sometime.
Step Three: Haul two ornery children to Target for baby wipes, laundry detergent and applesauce.
Step Four: Happen to walk past the clothing section, grab anything that looks remotely attractive or generally the correct size, throw it in the cart and buy it,
Step Five: Try clothes on in the kitchen while the children are eating lunch.
Step Six: Return 74% of everything I buy.

So yesterday, I bought this skirt.

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(Why, no. I couldn't have bothered to put on a clean shirt. And that's only water anyway, I was cooking.)

What do you think? Cute? Acceptable? Return immediately? Take those zipper pulls off the pockets and it'll work?

Do you feel any differently about it once you know this:

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Skort! Oh! Em! Gee! I accidentally bought myself a skort! Now, it is a skirt on top all the way around, and not one of those oh so sexy mullet skorts (skirt in the front, shorts around the back), but still. Skort!

Which considering that I haul two children around with me all the time, and considering that neither of my children has any sense of personal space or privacy or modesty it is actually rather practical. And yet, skort!

It just seems so.... skort-y. What do you think?

(Also, oh hell, I just posted a crotch shot on the internet. Am classy.)

How You Can Improve My Life

To everyone who drives in the D.C. Metro area -

No, wait. We do take the occasional road trip. How about, to everyone who drives from North Carolina to Ohio to New York -

It would make Mia very happy, and make my life much easier, if you would install one of those electronic reader boards on the top of your car, and every time you drive anywhere, program it with the answers to the following questions:

  • Who are you?
  • Are you going the same place we are going?
  • Why? Or alternately, why not?
  • If you are not going the same place we are going, where are you going?
  • Why?
  • What if you go there?
  • What if you go somewhere else instead?
  • If you go somewhere else instead, where will you go?
  • Why?
  • Is your car bigger than our car or smaller than our car?
  • Is your car faster than our car or slower than our car?
  • Do you speak Spanish?
  • Is this Spanish? Bwendo notres. Was that Spanish?
  • Did you see that truck?
  • It was green. Did you see it? Did you see the green truck?
  • It had a really long antenna. Did you see it? Did you see the green truck with the really long antenna?
  • What are those men doing? (Detailed answer required. "Working on the road" is insufficient.)

I could go on, but I'll let you get started on those responses before I give you Part Two of Five Hundred.

Marital Discord

It is time to unload the dishwasher. It has been run, the dishes are clean, nobody wants to run it again. You and your husband have discussed it, and have jointly decided that he will unload the dishwasher. Problem solved.

But time passes, and the dishwasher has not been unloaded. So you say "Darling, I thought you said that you were going to unload the dishwasher." And he says oh yes, absolutely, right away dear.

But more time passes, and the dishwasher still has not been unloaded. So you say "Dearest, is there some problem with you unloading the dishwasher? Because if there is, I can do it instead." And he says oh no, no problem, he is definitely going to unload the dishwasher. And he doesn't want you to do it, because you unloaded the dishwasher every single time for years and years and he agrees that it is his turn to unload the dishwasher.

But more time passes, and those clean dishes are still just sitting there in the dishwasher. So you say "My love, if I were to die tomorrow, I would hope that you would, after an appropriate interval, of course, remarry. And it is possible that whoever you chose to marry would not want the dishwasher to have been unloaded as she may want to make her own decisions as to where to put all the dishes, and if you give that some thought and think it might be a concern I would totally understand it and maybe we could just hand wash our dishes for a while." And he says on no, no matter what happens he definitely wants to unload the dishwasher. He has absolutely no interest in ever washing those dishes again, so may as well put them away.

But more time passes, and alas, the dishwasher still brims with clean dishes. So you say "Sweetheart, does it somehow threaten your manhood to unload the dishwasher? Or are you concerned that it may hurt, say if you dropped a casserole dish on your foot? Or are you just not ready to commit right now to putting all the dishes away in the cabinets? Or is there something, anything else that is stopping you from unloading the dishwasher?" And he says no no, of course not, in fact he was planning to take steps toward unloading the dishwasher in the very near future. We are on the verge, he says, nay, the very precipice of unloading that dishwasher.

And yet, the dishwasher remains as loaded as ever it was.

So tell me, what would you do? Continue to wait? Risking, all the while, the possibility of someone accidentally running the dishwasher again when everyone involved has agreed that the dishes are as clean as you ever need them to be? Or give up and unload the dishwasher yourself, because at least then you would be able to find a clean coffee cup when you needed it? Or some third option? What, pray tell, would you do about this dishwasher?

Still eating

Last week's menu (feel free to skip if you are over it already):

Monday - Broccoli casserole. This was, you know, broccoli. I like broccoli. I did it with cous cous, and it was fine.

Tuesday - Spaghetti with nearly-homemade sauce (I used canned tomatoes). The sauce was good, but I don't think it will be my make a big pot and freeze it sauce. It was really heavy on the zucchini and I think I need something a little more neutral than can be doctored as needed.

Wednesday - FBLTs. An FBLT is just a BLT with fake bacon. We tried fake bacon many many years ago, and it was disgusting and the whole house stank of it for days. We used the Morningstar Farms stuff this time, and while I wouldn't sit down and eat it as bacon, it makes a pretty good BLT. It also makes an incredibly fast dinner. I made it with crock pot baked beans (from dry, go me), and I added an onion and red pepper to the recipe. I liked the beans, but Chris didn't eat much so I think it was a no for him.

Thursday - Mediterranean chick peas, from Sabrina. Her instructions were as follows: saute a whole diced onion and a little garlic, add a large can of crushed or diced tomatoes, two cans of chick peas, a bunch of fresh spinach (or box of frozen), salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for like 10 minutes. Serve with fresh lemon wedges (really! it was delicious!) and crusty bread. That is just what I did, using fresh spinach and a baguette, and it was really good. I also made cous cous, and the combination was the best part. We will definitely have it again, but next time I think I will throw in some parsley, mix it with the cous cous, and serve it in pitas either cold or at room temperature. Yummy and fast, you should eat it yourself.

Friday - Take out from Macaroni Grill. Shut up.

Saturday - Fabulous pad thai with friends, plus a wild dance party and for once my children managed not to beat the crap out of their children, so a huge success all around.

Sunday - Tofu Parmesan, from Kelly. I used the left over spaghetti sauce from Tuesday and made a huge mess of frying the breaded tofu (I cannot fry in oil, always a disaster). It was still pretty good though, and both of my children ate piles of tofu. Both of them. Including the one who survives on crackers and milk. I may be making this three times a week from now on.

This week I'm planning enchiladas, minestrone (from the freezer), lasagna roll-ups (from the freezer), crock pot curry (with yellow dal I made a couple of weeks ago and froze the leftovers), clayudas, and portabella burgers with corn on the cob (yes, we just did those, but they are good, fast, and easy).

Owen, Month 16

Sweet Owen,

You are sixteen months old, and the time is flying. You got a new haircut this week that pushed you firmly over the line from looking like a baby to looking like a little boy. You talk up a storm, having recently added Mia (in place of eye-ah), Ariel (you love princesses, poor boy), hat, Nana, and so many others. You are even managing a few sentences, so far all along the lines of "Hi, Dada."

You love to play ball, read books, climb anything you can manage, play outside, throw toys in to the pool (but prefer to not get into the pool yourself), throw your food onto the floor or my plate or my head, do anything Mia does, and play with Play Dough. At least for a few minutes, before you decide you might like to eat it instead.

You still like to eat, but like to play even more, so lately I have to give you a couple of toys at the table and cram food into your mouth while you are distracted if I want to get more than a few bites into you. You still eat almost anything though. We've also reached a workable compromise on sleep. You fall asleep in your crib every night as long as Dada or Mama are sitting in the chair in your room. We usually just camp out with a book and a book light until you fall asleep. After that, you sometimes need a few minutes of back patting around midnight, but usually stay in your crib until 4 or 5. It isn't perfect, but it works for us and I'll take it.

Mia was at camp last week, and one day I took you to a local farm to see the animals. You loved running back and forth between the goats and the pigs and then fell madly in love with the rooster. You loved him enough to add "rooster" to your vocabulary. But even more than the animals, you seemed to love being in charge. While you are blissfully happy to follow your sister around doing whatever she does, you were awed by the ability to go where you wanted to go instead of being constantly cajoled to keep up with someone else's agenda.

It is a little hard this month to give you a good report, since there haven't been any big new milestones, everything is just a little more. You are that much closer to actual running, you are able to carry on longer and longer conversations, you can find bigger trouble to cause and scarier objects to climb.

One of my favorite things in how you wake up in the morning - you are suddenly just awake and happy and excited and ready to go. You give me a quick "hi" and then drop out of bed and sprint down the hall in seach of a nightlight to commandeer or a ponytail to yank. It forces your much slower rising mother to sprint out of bed every day and catch you before whatever new menace you've set your heart on. I love the energy, but more I love the wild giggle as you run away and the grin and hug I always get when I catch you.

You're a marvel, my sweet boy.

Love,
Mama

New 'do

There was much less screaming this time.

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Snippets

  • Owen has started gagging himself for fun. Until he hurls. Definitely my favorite part of parenting to date.

  • At the dermatologist this morning (and about fucking time, don't you think, since I've had this miserable, disgusting rash on my hands for 20 months now? Although it was anti-climactic. Five minutes of "Yup, that's dishydrosis all right. Go ahead and use the jacked up steroids the NP gave you two weeks ago. That'll be 300 dollars, please." Good times) there was a man in the waiting room on his cell phone discussing test results which quite clearly contained some sort of STD diagnosis (I was guessing 70/30 herpes/genital warts), and trying to get the person on the other end of the phone to speculate as to whether his wife had been cheating on him. Hello, awkward public cell phone conversation. Perhaps you would like to get a room?

  • I spent naptime today trimming the tops of the trees in our front yard. By hanging out the second floor windows. With a very heavy 20-foot pole which I frequently had to hold and manipulate with one hand. It pushed my little girlie muscles to the very brink, but two months ago I wouldn't have been able to do it at all, so it was a nice reminder of why I am bothering with all this exercise crap. (Don't worry, Mia already lectured me about how unsafe that was. But it wasn't really. There were many times when I nearly dropped the pole, but there was never any chance of me falling out of the window.)

  • The open one pound bag of M&Ms in the pantry has been ruining my diet for three days. So I did the only logical thing and just ate the rest of them. I'm feeling a little ill, but at least I won't spend tomorrow shoving them by the fistful into my gaping maw.

  • Genetics is a quirky little branch of science, now isn't it? Mia, who is in most ways my three foot tall clone, is already deeply tan, just like her father. Owen, the spitting image of his father, is as albino white as I am. But we make it look hot.

  • (You know how you can hear everything that happens in the next room when you are at the doctor's office? I think it has to do with how the windows don't line up with the walls, so really the rooms are all open to each other. Well, the waiting room guy had Herpes 1. Cold sores. It wasn't related to the reason he was at the dermatologist, and also probably wasn't a sign that his wife had been cheating on him. He seemed a bit disappointed by that. I was too. Even though I was betting on herpes, I was really rooting for genital warts.)

  • Carrots, peas, corn, raisins, grapes, watermelon (I was as surprised as you). Things which pass almost entirely unchanged through the digestive tract of a baby/toddler. What'd I miss?

More about shopping

So, when do you buy new pants? I've been semi-dieting and working out almost daily for a month now, and every time I stand up my pants try to go bond with my ankles. And while I'm actually really happy with my weight right now (about two pounds up from pre-first-pregnancy weight), I am still interested in having a slightly different body shape (I'm looking at you now, flabby belly. And you too, thighs. And don't think you can just hide around the back there and escape notice, fat ass) so I expect those ongoing efforts will take me down another couple of pounds. So when do you go buy new pants?

Sure, theoretically I could just wear the pants I wore before I got pregnant, but a) no way in hell, and b) they are all five year old work pants.

In other news, I bought a bunch of new t-shirts this week (hey fellow long-torso'd ladies, check out Target's double layer t-shirts) and have vowed to stop wearing maternity t-shirts. (Shut up, they're long enough to cover the flabby belly while hurling a 25 pound toddler over your head repeatedly.) I know you are all so proud of me.

Ah, weekend

I have decided that Spring weekends with two little kids are one of the highlights of life. We are finally able to get out of the house and just wander off to whatever suits our fancy. And this weekend was gorgeous. So gorgeous, in fact, that on Saturday morning once Chris finally hauled himself out of bed I strapped on some shoes and went for a run. I went just under 3 miles in 32 minutes, which is nothing fabulous, but considering that the last time I went running was a year ago and the last time I did it with any dedication was two years ago, not too bad.

We hung around the house the rest of the morning, had an early lunch and early naptime, and then headed off to the second birthday party of my totally adorable niece. Seriously, there is no niece anywhere in the world who is as perfectly adorable and charming as my niece. The party was amazing. My brother and sister-in-law still hang out with a lot of their friends from high school, many of whom are now married with children. It always blows my mind to see these people that I clearly remember as annoying-as-all-hell twelve year olds cradling their beautiful children. Also, I am starting to hate my sister-in-law just a little bit because she is 21 weeks pregnant with her second child and if you didn't know you would never know. We are going to the beach together next month, and I am going to be fatter than she is, I just know it.

(Also OMG NIECE NIECE NIECE NIECE NIECE I AM GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER NIECE OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!!! Whew. Thanks for letting me get that out of my system.)

(Hey, is anybody D.C. Metro expecting a boy? I have boxes full of boy clothes and no nephew to pass them along to.)

Chris and Mia attempted to camp in the backyard on Saturday night. Mia was thrilled by the whole read books, eat skittles, commandeer the camera and take pictures in the tent part, but not so excited by the lie down and go to sleep part, so we all spent the night in our own beds.

Sunday both children slept until nearly 8:00. Clear evidence that I have done something good at some point in my life since I was up with both of them until 3:00. I headed out early to pull weeds and asked Chris to get the kids ready for a trip to a local farm so we could leave by 10. He came out at 9:30 and announced that they were ready and leaving, and just like that he took both children and left the house. For the first. time. ever. I was so proud. He even remembered sunscreen and water and snacks. So I kept weeding with Ira Glass whispering sweet nothings into my ears, then even had thirty minutes alone in the house. Which I used to try on new bathing suits and do laundry, but whatever.

Then my in-laws, recently returned from three weeks in France (they go every year, poor darlings) came for a visit, followed by lunch, naptime, and a trip to the pool. Mia bravely dunked her face in the water several times, and Owen tripped next to the baby pool and managed to roll himself straight in to the water. Chris was right there, of course, and I was across the deck but covered the distance in about three sprinting strides to tear a perfectly-fine Owen from his father's arms. He was under for maybe half a second, and I knew he was never really in danger, but it still freaked me out a little bit. Owen and I left soon after while Mia and Chris stayed to swim.

Baths, dinner, bedtime.

Sigh.

Lovely weekend.

Anybody Hungry?

I know, I know, you can all stop clamoring for me to tell you about last week's dinners, because here it is.

Monday - Spaghetti, sauce from a jar. I'm making sauce almost from scratch this week (using canned tomatoes), but only a smallish batch to see if I still like this recipe.

Tuesday - Minestrone. I used canned kidney beans because I still haven't cracked the code for how to make them from dry. Also cut up a zucchini, threw it in with a some frozen mixed veggies, a can of tomatoes, spices and rotini. I made a double batch at lunchtime and put it in the fridge, so just had to put the pot back on the stove to warm when we got home from the pool while I gave the kids baths. I ended up with two more meals worth to stick in the freezer.

Wednesday - Portobella mushroom burgers. Clean mushrooms, (take of the gills, people, please). Put them in a skillet with a little oil and cook, then turn them over. While mushrooms are cooking, toast your buns of choice and prepare your favorite burger toppings. I did sauteed red onion and swiss cheese. Throw it all together, and ta-da! Delicious and takes 20 minutes from all ingredients in the fridge and the stove off to dinner on the table.

Thursday - Crock pot risotto. Chris's first response to this was that it was "surprisingly not bad." And I think that is a fair assessment. It is nothing like the risotto we've had in restaurants or made at home, but it also doesn't require an hour of stirring. As long as you don't go in expecting that kind of risotto, it is actually really good and easy to make. I added lots of sauteed red onion, zucchini and mushroom on top, I definitely wouldn't want to eat it plain.

Friday - Take out Burmese. Never had Burmese? You are missing out.

Saturday - Papa John's. Cut me some slack here, we got home from my niece's birthday party at 5:00 with two exhausted and crabby children. Sometimes the path of least resistance is the only way to go.

Sunday - Tonight we are having tacos, using the leftover, frozen, totally homemade spicy black bean filling I made two weeks ago.

I tried to take pictures of everything so I could pretend I was some sort of fancy food blogger, but getting dinner on the table already requires that I perform eight thousand simultaneous tasks and it just didn't happen. Maybe this week.

Up this week we have BLTs (fake bacon, obvs) with crock pot baked beans (from dry, cross your fingers for me), tofu parmesan (from Kelly, and I am so excited to try this I could spit), spaghetti with mostly-homemade sauce, for a change, Mediterranean chick peas (from Sabrina), broccoli casserole, and the frozen pizza I bought for last week and didn't use.

Surviving a rainy afternoon

(I don't do paid posts or compensated reviews. With very few exceptions, I don't even accept items for review or to giveaway (the major exception being if you offer me a ridiculous sex lube, and who could resist that?). Not that I object to it, I just prefer to keep me ads stuck over there in the sidebar and segregated from the mindless prattle over on this side. Just wanted to make it clear that anything I mention or recommend here you can be pretty sure I bought it my own self with my husband's hard earned money. Probably at Target.)

Ok, so here's what you do when it is a loooong rainy afternoon and has been 3:15 for about seven hours and you are so over playing that one cookie cutter is rescuing another cookie cutter from some terrible fate (the snowman is melting, the star forgot how to twinkle, the helicopter lost the rotor and OH MY GOD WE'RE GOING DOWN!) First, get yourself one of those cup at a time coffee makers. No, wait, that is step two. First, stop drinking coffee and soda and tea so that you are highly susceptible to caffeine. Then get yourself that cup at a time coffee maker. Fill a mug about a quarter full with your dairy of choice (mine is vanilla soy milk). Put the mug in the coffee maker and brew the smallest possible amount of coffee into the mug. Add two spoonfuls of Nesquick. If you are really desperate, add an additional two spoonfuls of sugar. Microwave for about 30 seconds, because it is going to be pretty cold. Drink as quickly as possible.

While you are chugging your caffeine/sugar hit, pull out a couple of CLIF Kid Zbars and fling them at the children. Even Mia likes these things. Well, she doesn't like the blueberry as she prefers all her blueberries to be presented to her in donut form, but she likes the apple cinnamon and the graham cracker and the chocolate. They have just enough protein and just enough sugar (plus are organic, no trans fat and no high fructose corn syrup) to return the children at least partly to sanity and suddenly you all just may survive until dinner.

You can thank me later.

Can you tell it's raining today?

I was talking to my friend Sarah the other day about a kid's milestones - first steps, first words, first day of school, first date, first time they drink all your vodka, steal your car, and wreck it, first time they bring home a love interest so horrible that you go drink all your vodka yourself, etc. We left out a major one though - Baby's First Tattoo.

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She's so proud.

Hey, is it bad that I just left him there?

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I knew where he was, I knew what he was doing, and I estimated only a 17% chance he would manage to either crack his head open or break his neck, which is much better than I can say for at least 12 hours of every day (the other 12 hours being those when he is asleep). Besides, he had good company.

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And yes, those are bungee cords strapping the chairs to the table and to each other, else Child 2 pushes them into the kitchen, climbs up, and either grabs a hot pot off the stove or a knife out of the knife block. This kid is going to be the death of me.

Baby Steps

Yesterday, Mia spent two hours in the care of someone other than a family member or a preschool teacher for the first time in her life. For those of you playing along at home, she'll be four next month. And this afternoon, I am meeting the 12 year old who, provided she doesn't smack the children or ask me whether I have accepted jesus christ as my personal savior, is going to be my mother's helper for the summer and care for my children one day a week (while I am in the same building, yes, but still). I don't consider myself over-protective, and I think if you spent time with me that you would agree, but it has still taken me almost four years to get to the point that I could manage to do this. It comes as a huge relief, really.

And for those few of you who care about such things, if I disappear from the blog for a week and you are wondering what has happened to me, you can safely assume that it has something to do with this sort of nonsense:

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And finally, my friend Karen, who is fabulous, has just started a brand new fabulous blog, and she sent me some interview questions which I couldn't resist answering (psst... how do you spell "narcissist"?) and she posted them, and so you should check it out if you are interested in me being in compromising positions with Little People or Chris scoring with hookers. And really, if you aren't interested in those things, I think you are dead inside.

Itchy Cooking

I've been trying to do more real cooking lately. Lately, of course, being all of last week. I'm trying to get as close to cooking from scratch as I can, at least for dinner, and at least more often than not. My goals are not lofty, but I'm enjoying it. Since a few of you expressed interest, I'm planning to talk about it until you or I lose interest (smart money is on me losing interest pretty quickly). An added challenge to this is that I have two kids who don't think cooking dinner is an excuse to stop playing with them. So I have to pick recipes that can be completed, or at least prepped to make the actual cooking part really fast, while the kids are eating breakfast or lunch or during naptime. My other challenge is to make things that freeze well and put half of it in the freezer, so that eventually I can get down to cooking half of the week and eating decent food from the freezer the other half.

Anyway, here's what we ate, linked to the recipes for those I got online:

Monday
Spaghetti. From a jar. I plan to make a huge pot of spaghetti sauce one of these days and freeze it in smaller batches, but I haven't gotten to it yet and won't this week. Also, I consider dry pasta to be a "from scratch" qualifier. I know there are people who make their own, but those people are crazy. We also had salad and french bread. I don't make bread either.

Tuesday
Black bean tacos. I soaked the black beans from dry and cooked them in the crock pot, then simmered with onion and red pepper. I used store bought taco shells and salsa. I have plans to make and freeze salsa too, but we'll see whether that ever happens. I put half the bean mixture in the freezer and we're having tacos again this week, at Chris's request. Served with Spanish rice made from a mix.

Wednesday
Stuffed shells with mushrooms and onion and using tofu instead of ricotta. I used store bought pasta shells and spaghetti sauce. Oh, and the tofu too, obviously. Served with salad.

Thursday
Red beans and rice. I made this in the crock pot, which am trying to do a couple of times a week because it means I can take the kids to the pool in the afternoon instead of thinking at all about dinner. I tried to soak the beans from dry and then cooked them in the crock pot, but they turned into a disgusting brown mush, so I used canned. Chris hated this. Served with salad.

Friday
Pizza. From Papa John's. But I made a salad! From a bag. I chopped the avocado though.

Saturday
Date night. Lovely Italian restaurant, I had spinach gnocchi and Chris had cappellini pomodoro. At my request, my mom made the kids mac and cheese from a box. But it was organic, so half credit, right?

Sunday
Eggplant and basil lasagna roll-ups, again with tofu instead of ricotta. Instead of making a traditional lasagna, you spread the filling on a noodle, roll it up, cut it in half, and then bake with some tomato sauce. It was a lot of work, but I thought it would be easier to freeze half the rolls than to make two entire lasagnas and freeze one. Chris, who hates eggplant, went back for seconds before he realized this was full of eggplant, and then he kept right on eating. I bought the pasta and spaghetti sauce. Served with salad.

And now you know. This week, we are having a frozen pizza, minestrone, risotto (found a crock pot recipe, wish me luck), broccoli casserole, tacos, spaghetti (from a jar again, too lazy to make sauce this week, and we have to have spaghetti once a week so that we have noodles for Mia for the rest of the week), and portobella mushroom burgers (cook a mushroom, put it on a bun, ta-da!).

Fickle

On Saturday, Chris and I put aside a fair amount of trepidation and took both kids to a local town fair. We expected to be there maybe two hours before one or both of the kids had an irredeemable meltdown and we hightailed it back to the car. We finally dragged the kids away five hours later, and would probably have stayed a couple more hours if not for the babysitters who were due at our house in two hours and a desperate need for showers, baths, and naps.

We had a great time. It was just this perfect day where the kids were sweet and charming and absolutely well-behaved and we all had fun and enjoyed the day and the activity and each other. And there was good Thai food and sno cones and a merry go round and art projects with shaving cream and a dog show and kid bands. We enjoyed it so much that we decided we would go back on Sunday.

And then on Sunday morning (after Chris and I had a fabulous date night and even saw a movie! In the theater!) (Star Trek, it was great), Mia lost her shit. She screamed and cried and whined and yelled and stamped her little feet for three solid hours. She had far more chances than she should have to pull herself together and go to the fair, and she just couldn't do it. And just like that, one of the best days ever melts into one of the worst mornings ever. We redeemed the day with an afternoon trip to the pool, but I think we were all shell shocked for the rest of the day.

Kids are nuts.

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