Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oh, My Goodness! Another Milesone!

My first award -- thank you so much to Cara and Jenn at The Momentum of Motherhood for the Sunshine Award. This is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspires others in the blog world!

The rules for this award are as follows:
•Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
•Pass the award onto 12 bloggers.
•Link the nominees within your post.
•Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
•Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

Here are the bloggers I pass this award onto:
The Natives are Getting Restless
My Corn Cadenza
My Story is Not Over
Big Belly or Bust
Loving My Children's Gifts
My Inner Foodzilla
Riding the Rollercoaster
Stories of an Imperfect Mom
The Mombshelter
Bringing Up Baby
Hip to Be Mom
My Little World: choo-choos, cars and lipgloss

Congratulations!  I've been following some of these blogs for some time, others are new to me since "The Friday Follow that Changed My Blog Forever...".  I hope that this brightens your Monday!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Milestone: 100th Post

I've hit a milestone!  My 100th post.  So, in honor of that, I thought I'd try a blog hop today.  Although it is doubtful I'll grow my followers from 20 to 100 today, I'm aiming for a 50% increase so that I get to 30.  As always, I reciprocate and love commenting!

I've also decided to point you toward some of my favorite posts.

It's Raining, It's Pouring is my reaction to the news that a good friend had (yes, HAD -- now she has a lovely pair of C cups that I covet) breast cancer.  It's might not be as funny as some of my posts, but I think it one of my most revealing posts.  I still tear up over this post.

Sidewalk is one of my most wistful and bittersweet posts, also the post where I feel like I really hit my stride and started singing most clearly with my voice.  It is about my darling Violet.

Lessons is about my Milo.  It is also the moment when I started tagging my posts "Mom Lessons" when I realize I'm learning more than my kids.

Laughter is the Best Medicine might be the best window into my sense of humor and the relationship I have with my family.  It makes me giggle when I read it, so I hope you like it, too!

Friday Follow

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Please remind me...

Please remind me that it really is a good policy to not go to the grocery store when hungry. I went in to grab a frozen meal to pop into my microwave while I was working, and came out with the meal, a can of Pringles, and some gummy worms. I will allow that Pringles are my guilty pleasure, but GUMMY WORMS??? What is wrong with me? I don't even give them to my kids, let alone dash back to my office, salivating over their sugary chewiness... What am I thinking today?

Please remind me that February in Iowa is cold and that I shouldn't forget my scarf at home on a day that I have to take Milo to preschool (necessitating a trip to the car mid-day) and two meetings across campus at completely different ends of the day. I should also reconsider my "No Hat-Hair" policy on days like today. And I really shouldn't wear a lightweight skirt, either. What idiot taught me to dress for the weather?

Please remind me that if never fails that the ONLY time I ever really want to watch TV live is for figure skating. And that the competitors I'm waiting to watch will inevitably skate during the middle of my children's bath and bedtime routine. And that on the day the Ladies take the ice, my kids will balk about going to bed. And stall. And whine. Sigh... I really wanted to be held hostage by Scott Hamilton last night, not "A-wol," the Little Mermaid, in the bathtub.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Malfunctioning Bedroom Devices

No, this is not an X-Rated post, so if you're looking for that, please look elsewhere...

The last two nights have been, shall we say, interesting in the ol' master bedroom. First of all, my husband sleeps with a bi-pap machine because he has crazy sleep apnea. We, well, I discovered the apnea when I would wake at night to nurse a newborn Violet. I would snuggle down in the chair and listen to Scott's very loud rhythmic snoring. As I became more attuned to the music he made, I started hearing decrescendos in his snoring -- as in I could hear as his airway closed and his snoring would sound pinched, getting quieter and quieter until there was silence. During the silence I would chuck whatever handy object was near me at him, hoping to jostle him into breathing again. He would resume breathing with a snort and start right back in with the snoring. One morning, after he woke to find four half empty water bottles, two bath towels and a book in the bed, he decided to call the doctor and arrange a sleep study, after which he was prescribed the bi-pap.

Now, I realize that I have little to complain about the Darth Vader sleeping next to me, but the bi-pap will shoot cold air at me if he's facing me, something which inevitably wakes me with a start. The machine is keeping him from suffering the apnea, and therefore, it is ensuring that he will wake the next day. But still, it's a bit of an inconvenience -- I can't kiss his face when he's sleeping, he can't wake me gently with kisses on my shoulders, and he has to sleep with hurricane-force winds bombarding his face all night long.

At least most nights. Some nights, he removes the mask due to discomfort. When he does, he turns off the machine and hangs his mask over the headboard. The moment when he removes his mask is accompanied by a very loud whoosh (read: jet engine turbine) unless he turns the machine off before removing the mask. Which he usually does.


Sunday night, however, he only managed to get the mask off his face. He didn't remember to turn the machine off, he didn't remember to hang his mask -- in fact, it was tucked into the crook of his arm, whooshing away. For an hour. For an hour in which I was roused several times by the noise. For an hour during which I poked him, trying to wake him after the several times I was awakened. For an hour, which concluded in me shoving him with both of my hands until he woke enough to turn the damned jet engine off. After which, he rolled onto his side, still asleep and I laid awake, watching the time slip by as it was projected by my alarm clock onto the ceiling.

Speaking of the alarm clock... It died last night. It had a short, yet full life of functioning for three years, despite the children who poked it, pressed it's buttons randomly, and used it occasionally as a step to climb into my bed. It survived me hitting the snooze button countless times and the inevitable cursing when I finally dragged myself from bed every morning. I think that of all of the alarm clocks which I have had during my three dozen years, this alarm clock was my favorite because I could program two different alarms with multiple functions and project the time onto the ceiling so that if a child woke overnight, I could simply open my eyes and there would be the time, no fumbling, no squinting without my glasses, it was just there, a floating blue metronome on my ceiling.

How did my darling alarm clock die?

I am embarrassed to admit that I killed it. I killed it when I was trying to stay organized. I killed it when I dropped my underwear on it, setting them there so that I could find them after Scott and I attempted to conceive our elusive third child. Because I didn't want to fumble around in the dark searching for my Hanes, I selfishly killed my alarm clock.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Kissing Monday

Why, hello, Monday! You snuck up on me, there...

It was a pretty good weekend around our house, save for a coughing boy, a barfing dog, and that I ran out of time to clean anything, sigh...

Well, OK, we did get the laundry done and mostly put away. I have a basket of towels that has been in my family room for so long that I'm afraid to move it, lest I awaken all of the wildlife that has taken up residence in the cool confines under the basket. It's been there over a week -- long enough for moss to start growing on the northern side.

Scott and the kids made a snowman, the first snowman on our new yard. It's cute because instead of facing the road to greet people driving by, it's facing the walk to the driveway to smile at us as we come and go. There's not enough traffic for it to have much of an impact on our neighborhood (which consists of us and the guy next door). The kids had fun building it and I did snap a few pictures before I went to rehearsal last night.

Rehearsal went pretty well. I've got some memorization to work on, but I am feeling pretty good about how the scene is going. It appears that I am no longer scaring the poor gay man I have to kiss, but I'm also not "feeling" the kiss, either. Must do some work there to make it seem like we've known each other for longer than four hours as we're a couple fighting after 9 years of marriage. Gonna have to see what I can do to make that more real...

I have to admit, that before I was married I was a "social kisser." As in I would kiss pretty much anyone for any reason, particularly if there was alcohol involved. So kissing someone onstage isn't a big hairy deal for me. In fact, it was the thing in the script about which I worried the least. My character is, on paper, a crazy shrew of a woman. Screaming, beating up a teddy bear, that kind of stuff. The real challenge is finding a way to make her somewhat likable so that people aren't turned off entirely -- no one wants to watch even 8 minutes of mean harpy lady. Working on it...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Handled with Love

I am fascinated by my children's hands. I love watching their fingers manipulate things, grasping and reaching and functioning without too much thought.

I love the dimples they have instead of knuckles. OK, Milo's are starting to look like kid hands and not preschooler or toddler hands, and they are long past baby hands. But I love the pad of fat on the backs of their hands, the extra softness that gives their small bones substance. Both of my kids have pale, pale skin. Pale and pink. Their fingertips are pink, pink fingerprints, pink fingernails.

Milo's palms are like Scott's: broad and sturdy, meant for a lifetime of power tools and implements. His fingers are more like mine: long and tapered, not thick and rounded like his daddy's. The combination of Scott's large palms and my long fingers has given my man-cub BIG paws. So big that I don't foresee him playing a delicate mandolin, but instead a resonant upright bass. His hands fly over a computer keyboard, write his name, and build the most amazing sculptures.

Violet's hands are so graceful. It's hard to think of a two-year-old with graceful hands, but hers have always been that way. They float and flutter above what she's doing, always gently brushing her surroundings. They move precisely -- even as an infant her baby signs were completely accurate, her fingers drawn in perfectly, like two gently kissing flower buds for the sign "more." She patiently uses them to pry apart Legos, to guide markers and crayons, and to shove her wild hair from her face.

I don't know why their hands hold such mystical power over me, but from the moment an infant Milo first reached for my face, their little hands have held my heart; their fingers have left smudges on my soul.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Muffin Top

We have been teasing Violet by calling her Muffin lately. It's pretty funny because most of the time she hates it, scowling and crossing her little arms over her chest, saying, "My not Muffin! My Wiolet! No fair!" Of course, this assertion really just brings on the giggles, at least for me.

I sing her a silly song: My Muffin, my Muffin! How I love my little girl, my Muffin! My Muffin, my girl!

She detests this. And, like most parents, I sing it anyway.

Last night I was playing with her, rolling around on my bed and pretending to eat her. I started "munching" on her shoulder and said, "MMMM! Tastes like green beans!"

Through peals of laughter, she said, "My not green beans! My Muffin!"

So I started singing the Muffin song. She growled at me -- which is pretty funny because her growl is actually pretty deep for such a little girl. Her growling was accompanied by little clawing hands reaching out for me, ala cat claws.

So I did what any self-respecting mother would do -- I pretended to run away, screaming, "Oh, no! The Man-Eating Muffin is going to get me!"

So, future daters-of-my-daughter, that's the reason she's been nicknamed the "Man-Eating Muffin." No other reason, got it?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic Dreams

So yesterday, while Little Miss and Daddy were upstairs napping and I was cleaning, I flipped on the Olympics for Milo to watch because, well, they are the Olympics. He's never seen ski jumping or bobsledding or moguls. After a bit, Scott came downstairs and Milo started asking him questions about the Olympics:

"What are the Olympics? Where are they? What are they doing?" Those general four-year-old "I've never seen Nordic Combined" questions. As always, Scott answered these questions thoroughly.

After a bit, I take a break from floor scrubbing and snuggle in next to my captivated child. We watched luge for a few moments, then he turned to me and said, "I want to be on TV."

Immediately I irrationally flash forward to the moment when, in the interview with the proud parents of the Olympic Gold Medalist, they ask, "When did you know Milo was going to become an Olympian?"

I query, "How are you going to get on TV?" thinking he's about to reveal that he, too, wants to rocket down the side of a mountain in a leotard on his back, clinging to a tiny sled, luging with the big boys.

"I guess I'd just have to drive to Canada, right?"

It's just as well... there aren't any mountains in Iowa.

So, tell me what Olympic sport you have always dreamed about bringing home the gold in?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

It's A-L-I-V-E!!

Hello, world! It's me again!

After spending nearly a day in bed -- and I was in bed, no TV, no music, no nothing -- I am alive again! Stomach bugs should be outlawed in adults. Seriously -- Milo had this bug and was happily playing Wii, dancing and bouncing around between the episodes of vomiting. Me? I puked once and crawled back into bed under the weight of a massive, skull-crushing headache. I've never felt such pain...

Which left poor Scott on day 2 of kid chasing duty. I was clearly in no shape to do anything but breathing, so it was Daddy to the rescue again! Yay for good daddies!

Anyway, I'm up and about today. Not much appetite and a headache that lingered until the caffeine from my morning coffee hit my bloodstream.

I sure hope that Scott and Violet don't get this one...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bronze Medal

Ring-ring. (That's the phone system's way of telling me there's a call from off campus.)

"I won a brown metal."


Follow that? That was, in fact, the very recent "conversation" I had with my son. He's home sick with a tummy bug today and was playing the Wii. And apparently had to call and tell me that he won a bronze medal at something.

Three seconds later, my darling hubby called back to tell me what that conversation was really about. I could hear him laughing to Milo and saying, "You have to tell mommy who it is -- say, 'Hi, mom, it's Milo. I won a bronze medal' Like that."

Well, daddy gets the gold medal for staying home with the wee ones today. Milo should, too, for barfing in a bowl and not in his bed, on the floor, or the furniture. Seriously -- the kid woke up and grabbed a bowl at 5:45 a.m. Way to go!

Monday, February 8, 2010


I submitted Milo's name to the elementary school so that he can be included in Kindergarten Round-Up information.


When I picked him up from preschool today, he was smiling and happy, full of hugs and excited to show me his craft. All of the other mothers were walking down the hall, waiting for their kids, and leaving with them and Milo and I were in the hallway, braced against the wall, digging through his backpack for his Valentine's Day headband. He was proud of it and wanted to show me. His teacher came into and out of the doorway dismissing kids three times before Milo and I finally exited the hallway.

But not before he gave me an extra hug, whispering, "Mom, I love you one-hundred-and-fifty-two." That's the magical number for him -- the most is always 152, no matter what. And I think he takes my breath away 152 times a day, at least.

152. It's a good number, doncha think?

Baby No More

Last night, my little Violet slept all night in a toddler bed. It was her first attempt at sleeping not in her crib. I'm proud to say that she did a great job!

When I checked on her when I went to bed, she was sleeping soundly, her little pink hands clutching a stuffed fawn, her face pressed to the soft chenille of the toy. She looked peaceful and sweet. And suddenly like a child and less like a baby.

When I checked on her again after a middle-of-the-night bathroom trip, she was still snuggled warm into her bed, though not holding the toy. She again looked comfortable and even less like a baby.

When I woke for the day and checked on her again, I stifled a giggle as she was half out of the bed, her bottom half, but sleepily climbing back in -- she's light sleeper and I didn't want to disturb her, so I quietly pulled the door around after she'd gotten all of herself back in bed, looking even less like a baby.

Finally, after my shower I went back upstairs to wake the rest of my sleeping family. Scott was awake, lying in bed watching CNN. Milo was sacked out, and Violet was laying on her back in the toddler bed with her hands folded behind her head, looking very snug. I motioned for Scott to come in because she was beyond adorable in that moment. And so not a baby.

Sigh... Why are these milestones so much harder on me than they are on the kids?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday

So it's Superbowl Sunday. What are you doing?

I'm listening to my kids play with Play-Doh. Well, more like listening to them squabble about wanting to use the same implement on the Play-Doh. Scott is at a tech rehearsal, and I am finishing up the last load of laundry in the house. Snow is sifting down over the landscape and it is white and quiet out here.

It's been a nice relaxing weekend -- Grandma and Grandpa made it back here for the first time since the day we moved, so Scott and I ran around like rabid squirrels cleaning yesterday before they arrived. When combined with the manic rushing I'd done Friday night, this pretty much took care of most of the cleaning I do on the weekend, so yay for that!

So what did I do with my spare time this weekend? I could lie and say that I started painting another room, but I didn't. I could say that I finished the curtains in my parlor, but I didn't. I could say that I started hanging the photos that are stacked neatly on the floor along the walls in the upstairs hallway, but I didn't.

I read a book.

It's been a while, but I felt like reading. Reading always makes me feel the tug to write, so I'll admit to wandering around, silently narrating my life for a few days after reading a good book. Does anyone else do that?

Anyway, that's what's up around here. I'm making beef stew and crescent rolls for supper tonight. We're not into football, but we can still have a SOUPer bowl tonight. Ha ha ha!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Things I Love: Food

This is just a post about stuff I love. For the record, I am not Oprah, so I will not be giving any of it away. Sorry! I don't have a giveaway section on my blog -- I'm still a newbie at this, you know!

I love chai tea. I steep it three times longer than you're supposed to, but what can I say? I like strong tea. I have tried umpteen varieties of herbal teas, but my preference is black chai. With two packets of Sun Crystals and, if I'm home, a splash of half and half. Mmmmm...

I love popcorn. With real butter and salt, please. I don't like the yellow sludge that is in the bag of microwave popcorn, mostly because I'm not sure what it is.

I love sushi. Sushi rolls with shrimp, salmon, tuna or eel. With lots of wasabi. And, if they have avocado in them, I've died and gone to heaven!

Speaking of avocado, I love guacamole! In fact, I sometimes make it and eat it without chips. Then it's avocado salad :)

I love dried cranberries. Especially in white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. De-li-scious!

I love spicy food. In fact, when I make tacos for the fam, I separate out my meat and double-spice it. I always put red pepper flakes on my pizza, and have begun using them on ravioli and lasagna. Tasty!

I love custards, puddings, and especially creme brulee. I love them even more when someone makes them for me. I'm not a baked goods person, so I can pass up cakes, cookies, and pies. Although I do love icing, so I'll eat the cake or cookie to get that. But there's something about cracking the caramelized sugar on top of a creme brulee...

My guilty pleasure? I love bacon. Crispy and patted so some of the fat is gone. But, yeah, I love bacon.

Is there any wonder why I'm fat??

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Please remind me...

Please remind me not to giggle too much when my darling daughter is happily splashing around in the tub and she toots, happily exclaiming, "Mom! I blew bubbles from my bum!"

Please remind me that there are, in fact, days easier than yesterday. Milo had a tough afternoon -- he engaged in some out-of-character behavior that both appalled and embarrassed him, particularly when the other preschoolers at daycare recounted the story to everyone who came in the door after school and at pick-up time. I think the poor child cried for three hours yesterday. And then again this morning when he was still so embarrassed that he didn't want to go to daycare. I don't think he'll be making the choice to misbehave in a similar way again. He was so crushed that he's disappointed us and he felt tremendously guilty for a very long time. I just simply didn't have enough hugs to make him feel better.

Please remind me that driving in a snowstorm in Iowa is really not fun. I had my first rehearsal for the play in which I was, in fact, cast. It went pretty well, but it was held at a location 45 minutes from my house. Yes, this is s play for the community theatre in which I live. Which is eight minutes from my house. Thankfully, everyone attending was thrilled that I can reserve rooms on the campus where I work, so all remaining rehearsals will be held eight minutes from my house. Oh, the driving? Well, apparently there was a power outage in my town shortly after I left home last night. Driving back to my house, I was totally blind because the streetlight which marks the start of our gravel road wasn't lit. I did make the turn, but holy cow is it dark in the country in Iowa at night during a snowstorm! I arrived home just as Scott was turning the generator off because the power had come back on two minutes before I pulled up.

Finally, please remind me that it's OK that Violet hasn't nursed for over a week. She asked to nurse in the middle of the night last night, I told her that the milk was all gone, then felt guilty about it and brought her into the bed to snuggle. Tell me I haven't ruined the child, because I really enjoyed smelling her strawberry scented head and kissing her cheek as she curled up in my armpit, dozing on and off, and reaching up to pet my hair, whispering, "Pwetty hair, mommy..." A mom could get used to that...


So, I figured out why my caramels never became more than mush -- I totally forgot to add one of the ingredients. D'oh! They still taste pretty good...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sticky in the Kitchen

Well, it was a busy weekend around our house! I spent part of Friday afternoon at a synchronized skating competition. Got home in time to make supper and get the kids to bed. Saturday we went out to Scott's parents for a visit because his brother and wife and kids were around. Saturday night I was back at the skating competition -- arriving home after everyone was in bed. Sunday morning we did some cleaning and laundry and playing with the kids. I got groceries during Violet's nap, had a cooking adventure (which follows), and went back out to Scott's parents' for a birthday party. Whew!

My cooking adventure: I decided to try and make caramels for the first time. For some unknown reason, I have been craving the homemade caramels my aunt use to make a Christmas time. So I decided to find a recipe and try and make some myself. Wow. Big mistake. Cooking FAIL!

It seemed deceptively easy -- there were only a few ingredients and two steps. Well, I'm a whiz in the kitchen, so I really should be able to do this, right?


It started off pretty well. I got all of the ingredients into the pan per the recipe and started heating them through, stirring as instructed. And stirring, stirring, stirring... Fine. I knew that was going to happen because it said I'd be stirring for about twenty minutes. I took several quick breaks to butter a pan and to open and wash my brand-spanking-new candy thermometer. Back to stirring.

Violet is napping, Scott ran on campus to get his finals to grade, and Milo was plaing a game on the Wii. Or at least I thought he was. About 5 minutes into the stirring, he came into the kitchen hopping and red and clearly frustrated.

"I can't do it! Ben Ten won't jump the way he's supposed to jump! I need help!"

"I'm so sorry, little buddy, but I can't take a break from stirring right now. Maybe you should pause the game for a while and do something else."

"No-o-o-o-o-o! I'm going to try again!" So he did.

Back to stirring. Only now I've decided to get the candy thermometer involved as the caramel mixture is starting to boil. I try to clip it to the side of the pan, but can't get it so that it's not touching the pan, throwing off the reading. I have the brilliant idea to rig it to a wooden spoon so that it was suspended over the middle of the pan. Super idea!

As I'm rigging the spoon and thermometer, whose directions, by the way, say "do not submerge", and Milo comes back in again, crying about the game. I look away from my pot for a split second and SPLASH! I'm suddenly feeling about a dozen little burns in my hand because my non-submersible thermometer has just fallen into the molten caramel mixture, submerging and splshing up on my hands. Crud!

I use the extra wooden spoon to fish it out and stand it up in the pan, but how do I get it out? It's covered in caramel! I stretch like Mr. Fantastic and grab a paper towel, hoisting the dripping thermometer out and setting it on the spoon rest.

"Milo, love, I think you need to turn your game off NOW. It doesn't look like you're having any fun playing it."

"Noo-o-o-o-o! I just need Daddy! He can help me, you can't because you're really bad at it!" He stomped away. More stirring. Eventually I hear him yell in celebration, then he whips back into the room to tell me, "I did it, Mom! I didn't need help, either!" I guess persistence pays off?? I really would have preferred him to shut off the game...

I realize then that I have no way of knowing if the caramel was at the right temperature, so I scrape the setting stickiness off the thermometer and try again. Only this time, I've managed to get the clip over the markings for the temperature I'm supposed to use. And it's been twenty minutes, so I should be there soon, right? Who knows. The red line is behind the clip, so it's in the right range. I set the timer for 2 minutes and remove the pan from the heat at the appropriate time, adding the vanilla with a hiss as directed.

The rest is the easy part -- pour into baking pan to cool and set. I let it cool and set all night and was eager to see how it turned out this morning.

I open the microwave where it is cooling -- we have two large dogs and you don't leave anything you really want to eat on the counter tops. It looks lovely -- nice color, slightly buttery sheen. Smells great! I poke it and my finger dents all the way to the bottom of the pan. The caramel is roughly the consistency of thick paint. Not "wrap in wax paper and eat" caramels. D'oh!

I have the feeling we'll be eating a lot of caramel ice cream sundaes this week...