Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

I'm eternally grateful to whoever came up with the WW concept because after an exhausting day of lounging around in my daughter's leopard snuggie that doesn't fit her so I conveniently sort of adopted it, and fighting off this obnoxious cold, I just can't think of anything I want to say.
Except that I wish it would snow more.

Because I want to take my kids sledding so they can feel the thrill of a real suicide hill and not have to build cute little piles of snow to "sled "down in the front yard. (or is it slide? Some people say "sliding" but that seems weird to me.)

Ehh, this is closer to the bathroom anyway.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Every year for New Year's, I make the extremely wise and profound decision to not really make any resolutions. I mean, what's the point? Set grandiose standards only to let myself down when I quit whatever it is 2 weeks later? Who needs that kind of guilt? Exercise? Pshaw! I'd rather set my sights low and then be pleasantly surprised when I accomplish something teeny. Like remembering to feed the dog.

This attitude is why I'm such a financial wizard and quite the successful business woman. (yeah, "Working Girl"... that's me)

I really do like to be organized though, even if I am not really the poster girl for having an uncluttered and clean house.

Before kids, when I was working full time, I once in an attempt to clean up my "module", (10 participants, 3 staff, 1 teeny room. Order was a necessity) I actually straightened a chair back into the table with a staff member still in it.

It's not healthy. But what's less sane is the fact that I like things this way and that's out of my control now that I have 3 little kids upsetting all my fantastic organizational achievements.
I'm no fun am I.

But my point.

I used to plan meals for the week and shop accordingly. Lots of normal people do this. Maybe that's why I couldn't keep it up. I'm kind of weird.

I've stopped the habit (for no good reason) and am now making trips to Wegman's almost every day.

This has to end. So, with my new favorite cookbook (thanks Carol!) to guide me, I'm planning a New Year's activity (NOT a resolution) to make all of the recipes in the book and document the results here.

Yes, I know I'm so original and that this has already been done with a much more difficult and impressive challenge. (you all have seen Julie and Julia) But I decided I don't care that it's not my idea. I want to do it. It's a much smaller book and I've already made lots of the recipes in it. Though some do scare me and I might have to modify them. Burgundy mushrooms anyone? Not me.
Every dish so far has been fail-proof and scrumptious and even Tim likes them. (I won't be telling him when I feed him something with ricotta cheese in it, he'll have to trust me.)

So, starting next week, I'll have the week's menu planned out and it will look something like this:

Monday: Pico de Gallo and Simple, Perfect Enchiladas (and maybe cornbread)
Tuesday: Guacamole and Migas
Wednesday: Simple, Perfect Chili
Thursday: Chicken Fried Steak and Buttermilk Biscuits
Friday: Cheese Grits and Mocha Brownies

Of course this wouldn't be a proper non-resolution if I didn't add a disclaimer that stated that these meals may be subject to change (or may not happen at all every day--it's gonna happen. I'm not that dedicated.)

Also, I'm not promising anything, but due to the excessive butter used in just about all the recipes, I am thinking it might be a good idea to start a real work-out regimen too. We'll see.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ahhh, Christmas.
Such a wonderful, warm happy time.

A time to spend with beloved family and create fond memories.

Everyone is content and comfortably full after all the good food.

You know, that time after dinner but before presents when everyone is all warm and fuzzy and even the kids aren't too persistent yet about "when is it time to open presents?"

"Chestnuts roasting by an open fire..."

Soon enough, insanity starts to seep in like a party crasher who becomes the hit of the night.

It all begins with Santa, and before you know it, things are getting wacky.

Thanks to Uncle Tim and Aunt Nicole, Shannon (and her siblings) got the elusive zhu zhu pets.
(You can see her disappointment dripping off her face.)
But we expect her to be a little nutty.

Now this is plain craziness.
But then there is always inevitably an end to the giddiness.

This was late afternoon the next day. (Christmas day) It was the moment right before I realized that maybe I had too much delicious Christmas turkey and stuffing and maybe my son didn't have enough.
Isn't that blanket beautiful? Hand made things are such special gifts. But NEVER give an overtired underfed child of 6 such a gift that any adult would love and appreciate before a toy has been presented.

Because it's not pretty.
After what felt like all night, Dan finally calmed down enough to come out of solitary confinement (well not really, I stayed with him) and say thank you and open his other gifts. But he was so whipped by then, his reaction was pretty mellow.

Christmas night, we were putting the kids to bed and I noticed Dan's face was all blotchy. When I asked him what happened, he said he wanted to find out what it felt like to actually "shoot his eye out" (as in "A Christmas Story" which we had just finished watching the end of.)

What are we gonna do with these kids?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Now I thought these quotes from yesterday's post were way too easy! It seems I have been watching too much tv while everyone else has been making rather merry with family and stuff. Here are the answers.

1. "What was the name of The Lone Ranger's nephew's horse?" "Victor. His name was Victor."

A Christmas Story

2. "You, you could be an undigested bit of beef, a piece of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more gravy than of grave in you."

A Christmas Carol

3. " Rats. nobody sent me a Christmas card today. I almost wish there weren't a holiday season. I know nobody likes me, why do they have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?

A Charlie Brown Christmas

4. "Oh c'mon. You know Santa isn't on your brother's payroll." "Well then he's grossly unfair, that's what. Traipsing around in that stupid sleigh of his. Stirring up cold winter breezes and causing everybody to think fondly of snowball fights and sleigh rides and ice hockey."

said by Heat Miser in "The Year Without a Santa Claus"

5. "Caribou!"

Polar Express

6. "Why for fifty-three years I've put up with it now!"

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

7. "Who wants to see somethin' pretty?"

The Homecoming

8. "He's an angry elf."


9. "You don't like coconuts! Say brainless, don't you know where coconuts come from?"

It's a Wonderful Life

10. "I always feel better after I've hugged a cow."

The Homecoming

11. "In the heat of battle, my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan."

A Christmas Story

12. "Fog's as thick as peanut butter!" "You mean pea soup." "You eat what you like, I'll eat what I like!"

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Well, you've only got a day. I strongly suggest you get crackin' and spend some more time in front of the tv because I don't want to be the only loser who remembers this stuff.

It seems I had too much time on my hands today and no need to bake pies or make bread for Christmas or anything.

Please please do not click on this link. Or this one. And absolutely not this one. (I almost didn't include that one because the scene where they put Dan's head on a girl's body really bothers me.) I know not what I do. Except everybody else is doing it...

Also, I'm a cheapskate and I am still pondering paying the 4.99 they want to download it so maybe if I'm lucky, it won't even work.

Here's to being a goof for the holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas is just about upon us now. Most of our gifts are wrapped. My lists have been checked. All that's left is the baking. (I plan to make a scrumdidlyumptious pumpkin pie, a sweet-as-sin chocolate pie and mom's best ever we're-so-spoiled-to-have-been-raised-with homemade rolls.)

So for now, let's have a little fun. Everyone has their favorite Christmas movie they like to watch each year right? I have a bunch. In fact I've already seen most of them at least once this season.

So here's the challenge. I'm going to write a quote (hopefully not too obvious of one) from several of my Christmas faves and you guys try to guess what special/movie it's from.
Sound like fun, or a pain in the tush?

Well no one says you have to do it.

But I triple dog dare ya. (no, that's not one yet. That one's too easy.)

Here we go:

1. "What was the name of the Lone Ranger's nephew's horse?"
" Victor. His name was Victor."

2. "You, you could be an undigested bit of beef, a piece of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more gravy than of grave to you."

3. "Rats. Nobody sent me a Christmas card today. I almost wish there weren't a holiday season. I know nobody likes me, why do they have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?"

4. "Oh c'mon. You know Santa isn't on your brother's payroll."
"Well then he's grossly unfair that's what. Traipsing around in that stupid sleigh of his. Stirring up cold winter breezes and causing everybody to think fondly of snowball fights and sleigh rides and ice hockey."

5. "Caribou!"

6. "Why for fifty-three years I've put up with it now!"

7. "Who wants to see somethin' pretty?"

8. He's an angry elf."

9. "You don't like coconuts! Say brainless, don't you know where coconuts come from?"

10. "I always feel better after I've hugged a cow."
*that one's a gimme since the answer is on a recent post. I just wanted to make it to 10.*

11. "In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over lake Michigan."

12. "Fog's as thick as peanut butter." "You mean pea soup." "You eat what you like! I'll eat what I like!"

Clue*** There might be a double or two in there.

What are your favorite quotes from holiday specials?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Because I'm really stuck and can't think of ANYTHING interesting to say, I'm going to list 10 embarrassing things about myself. Because when in doubt, humiliate yourself. My mantra.

1. I told my son to "man up" today. He's 6.

2. I've read all the Twilight books and all the Harry Potter books. And I enjoyed them more than books written for... you know, grown ups. (I've also seen and enjoyed all the movies, though I'll never reveal if I'm team Jacob or Edward, that's personal)

3. I just cooked a breakfast meal for myself at 11:30 pm. (eggs and hash browns with cheese. Yummy)

4. I wanted a horse so bad(ly?) when I was a kid, I used to set up jumps in the backyard and "canter" over them myself.

5. People think I'm a quiet person. The truth is, I'm only quiet when other people are around. Trust me, you DO NOT want to be around me when "Total Eclipse of the Heart" comes on the radio.

6. People also often think that because I'm "quiet" and I wear glasses and often pull my hair up that I'm a librarian-type and very smart. Truth: I can psychoanalyze what went wrong with Jon and Kate but don't ask me where North Dakota is. I don't know.

7. I spend copious amounts of time trying to better my score in Bejeweled.

8. I use words like copious to make myself feel smarter. Really. Secretary of state? No idea.

9. I once had to fight the strong urge to call Jon Stewart "Jimmy Stewart" to his face because I couldn't remember his real name. I really saved that situation when I did say to him "You're famous, aren't you?" Brilliant.

10. I'm extremely gullible. I once smiled and told the repair man no problem when he jokingly told us that the leak was mostly fixed.

So before you go all judgemental on me with your she-doesn't-even-know-who-the-sec.-of-state-is, keep in mind that at least I'm a very nice person. Just don't ask my husband to confirm that.
(it's Clinton isn't it. Who's Rumsfeld?)

Anyone want to share anything embarrassing? It's only the internet. Trust me, I'm smart. (translation--pitiful)

Friday, December 18, 2009

We had a "rhino" over for dinner tonight. Surprisingly, rhinos make lovely dinner guests.
He was as quiet as a church mouse, he cleaned his plate, and he used manners that would rival Martha Stewart's at a tea party.

And once he was reminded that both Jesus AND Santa are always watching, he begrudgingly allowed his two sisters to share his habitat.

That's the baby rhino taking a nap. quiet.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Virtually Wordless Wednesday

Ever notice that anytime the word "virtually" is used, you can pretty much assume that whatever is being sold/said is a lie?

"Use this at-home waxing kit--it's virtually pain-free!" Yeah, ok. Thanks anyway.

Finally, it's beginning to look and feel like Christmas.

We've got some cold.

We've got some snow.

And best of all, we've got lots of Hot Hot Hot Chaa-co-laat!

Life is good.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I just watched this movie.

I experienced a combination of emotions I've never felt before while viewing a film.
Most movies are either funny, or sad, or dramatic and sad, or sometimes just pathetically dramatically sad to the point it's funny. (Legends of the Fall--I mean come on, how many people are you gonna kill off just to try to squeeze one more tear out?)

I felt like I wanted to laugh and cry the entire movie. Some parts made me laugh out loud, though nothing made me actually cry. (usually a dog has to kick it or something to get that much of an emotional reaction from me)

Aside from all the underlying themes like following your dreams, and the importance of a spouse's support, I really want to go cook something right now.

At 11:18 at night.

Because one of the points made in the movie is that at least food is, for the most part, reliable.

And it's substantial.

Of course it's what people turn to when everything else is all out of whack. I may not know how we're going to keep paying for the kids' tuition, or what I want to do with my life (let alone qualified to do) when the kids grow up, but at least I know that I can make Ranch Style Chicken and I will enjoy every bite of it. Never mind that I'll weigh 600 pounds by the time I'm forty, at least I'll be happy. I cook more now than I ever did. Not because I enjoy cooking, it's because at some point between college and now, I started to not like nacho supremes from Taco Bell so much anymore. (my 21 year-old self is gasping in shock right now) I realized that there was not in fact a food fairy that granted wishes for chicken enchiladas and homemade chocolate chip cookies. And that these things were something I could create consistently and well. (at least if I have a recipe. I don't do that make-it-up-as-you-go kind of cooking. I need guidelines. A map. I am not creative in that department)

I just wish I felt about exercising the same way Jane Fonda does.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I was grumpy.

Feeling a lot like how Mr. Grinch does towards those noisy Whos down in Whoville.

I wasn't expecting much success when we got to grandma's for our second annual cookie decorating/exchange get together. Last year, I brought only Shannon and we had a lovely time. But this year as the situations had it, I brought the whole family except for Tim. (he had a nasty cold)
I found a recipe for cut-out cookies from Pioneer Woman and decided to give it a try.
It called for painting the cookies before they are baked, with minimal frosting after. (just white glaze with a tip) This sounded very appealing to me since I'm all over the idea of Christmas cookie cut-outs. But when it comes to doing it, about halfway through I start to get anxious and subsequently very sloppy - either grossly laying on the frosting so thick just looking at them sends me into a diabetic coma, or giving up and leaving poor Rudolph naked and plain.

Of course, you see where I am going with this. Turns out this method is very effective at holding little Whos' noisy "pampoodles and wuzzles" at bay.

They were extremely focused and QUIET. And, I didn't have to decorate as many cookies with my little elf helpers doing most of the work.

I couldn't very well expect to stay grumpy when there was family and frosting involved now could I?

Friday, December 11, 2009

How much pull do you think Santa really has? Because while I stupidly thought that we were all set, both Shannon and Daniel have thrown a nice curve ball to my ill-fated plan.

Shannon had wanted a pillow pet since she saw the ad in the fall. She saw a knock off at Aldi's a couple weeks ago and she fell in love with it. Being the responsible parent I am, I left my girls in the van and mumbled something about forgetting chocolate chips. Then I scooted inside and purchased the frog pillow-thingie knock-off for Santa, (since I know he's so busy) and finalized my shopping for the kids. (or so I thought)

Right. Done. No more worries about that.

Wrong of course. Since then, Shannon has crafted a lovely letter to Santa complete with a painstakingly rendered picture of a very different dolphin pillow pet that we mailed to Santa via Macy's this weekend. "Mommy, can you check the pillow pet site to see if they have any yet pleeese?" Not to mention those stupid zhu zhu pets are still nowhere to be found. And she wanted those before they were the "must have" toy this year.

Life is so unfair.

I'm trying to do my best to not get stressed about these things but Shannon only has a little bit of time before her believing days are over and how do I explain that even Santa can't work miracles?

Daniel has also conveniently changed his mind about what his little heart desires for Christmas. I put in the word to Santa to get a drum set from Target for him and then I cleverly convinced Dan that he wanted one for Christmas.

We've even been practicing what to say when sitting on Santa's lap. "What do you want for Christmas little boy?"
"I want an official Red Ryder carbine-action..."
No no. It's "I want a d r u m s e t."
Now Dan has decided he wants a lego combine set and that's what he's going to say tomorrow at breakfast with Santa. (I shouldn't worry, I'm sure he'll be paralyzed with fright if he even makes it into Santa's lap.)

He's not going to get that. I'm not running around returning things willy nilly just to appease the ever-changing little minds of my fickle children. But I hate for their faith in Santa to be broken early because jolly ol' St. Nick can't deliver the right goods.

When I didn't get that horse I HAD to have year after year, I think I cut out at least 5 years of Santa believin' Christmases.

At least my kids only want toys.

They just want the wrong ones.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Remember this lovely little story about working hard and sharing your bounty?
I remember loving this tale when I was a kid. I think we had the book at grandpa's so hearing it always meant we were on vacation there.
You can't go wrong with repetition and this book has lots.

"Not I" barked the lazy dog.
"Not I" purred the sleepy cat.
"Not I" quacked the noisy yellow duck.

I found myself right in the middle of this dialogue today.

Only I wasn't quick enough with my "Not I", so guess who got to be the hen? (like I don't already feel like one often enough)

At church this morning, mom, dad and I sat in the east wing. Something I was just commenting I hadn't done in a while. (something I won't do again for a long time) Fewer people sit in this smaller section. Plus we were there early so I suppose it was fate when we were approached by an usher and asked to do the collection.

With speed I've only witnessed when guacamole is on the table was my dad's "not I" followed immediately on my right with mom's equally surprisingly quick "not I" which left me alone and abandoned.

"Not it!" Is it too late to say "not it?!"

Well, it's church, I can't say no. Besides, how hard can it be?
"Just pass the basket and get a head count."

No problem. Wait, what? A head count? You want me to delicately dodge these innocent people's heads with the 5 foot basket-covered javelin and count everybody? Do you know who you are talking to? I manage to trip on nothing daily and I accidentally injure my loved ones on a regular basis and you want me to collect money from these nice (mostly frail elderly) folks?
Ok, but you're asking for it.

Well, I managed, but part way down one side, (at this point I'm keeping pretty good count) I noticed another person collecting on the other side. Wait, am I supposed to count just my people or everybody? 14, 15, 21, 19 ... wait, am I supposed to count only those giving or all the people in this section?
Wait, what number was I on again?

I meet The Main Section Usher and he looks at me seriously for my top-secret code.
I whisper "38".
He asks again, glancing over at my section skeptically.
"38?" I squeak. This is too much pressure. Isn't it time for the Our Father yet?
He nods solemnly and takes my collection.

In my head I hear "That'll do pig, that'll do." (name that movie)

Better not let me get up there and read or anything. You know I'll say something like "may the force be with you" instead of "thanks be to God" or something.

Monday, December 7, 2009

We went to the Christmas parade in my hometown this past weekend.
You know, the event that unlike the balmy much more comfortable summer parade, takes place at night on the coldest night of the year?
Every year?

That's ok. We bundled up and had a nice time.

Sometimes it was loud.

But most of the time it was pretty.

This was my favorite float. I wonder how much saran wrap they used and how long Mr. and Mrs. Claus were stuck in there?
Which brings me to an observation.
I saw three different santas on three different floats. Are we trying to cause trouble for the parents here?
Fortunately the kids didn't really catch on so no explaining was necessary. The whole "santa's helpers" argument always sounded lame to me so I just let that nugget of info slide.
Hot cocoa at grandma's makes it easy to forget too. (and helps thaw out our tushies)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Every Christmas season I have to see this movie.

It was the pilot for the series "The Waltons" which I never really watched, I was more of a Little House kind of girl. But the movie is great. It's got a horse-drawn sleigh, two old batty sisters, and the best line ever: "I always feel better after I hug a cow."

Patricia Neal plays the mother who I could listen to talk about the history of dirt and I would never get bored. She has a slow, growling southern sort of a voice that makes me want to curl up by the fireplace and pretend I'm Laura Ingalls. (except in my daydream there would be indoor plumbing)

It's a simple movie, the plot is just a large family (seven kids and two grandparents) surviving during the depression and waiting for daddy to come home on Christmas eve. But there are moments that transport me back to all those Christmases at Grandpa's. The old farmhouse, the mama cooking in the kitchen, the kids cracking walnuts, decorating the tree, and laying awake in bed on Christmas eve, all stir up childhood memories and a longing to go back to Grandpa's.

The house was sold before I had kids so I was never able to bring my own kids there. But in retrospect, I'm kind of glad I never could because it would change how I felt about the place. I will always be the kid listening to the soft murmur of the television from upstairs in my bed while the grown-ups stayed up late. (or late to me, it was probably only 7:00)
And the kid who would practically pee her pants because she was petrified to make that long scary journey upstairs to the only bathroom at the end of a long dark haunted hallway.
And the kid who loved to bang Chopsticks on the piano all day.

Sometimes I'd still be awake when Grandpa came up to bed. On the occasions I'd get the other bed in his room, I used to love listening to him fall asleep while reading his books. I'd look over, and he would be lying there, mouth wide open, no teeth, with his book on his chest snoring away.

I don't really have any memories of things I got for Christmas at Grandpa's, but I'll never forget the snow piled up to the windows and the smell of the house and the records playing in the room by the stairs and the tree with the old hot bulbs and tinsel clumped on the branches and the scent of mom's rolls baking in the oven.

And mom and dad in the kitchen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I was taking a well deserved time-out in our bedroom tonight and flipping through the channels till my head cleared a bit.

Dan and I were not seeing eye-to-eye about how to share, but also more importantly, why the x-large pop-up tent is not a good idea to pop up in close proximity to the precariously perched tree.

A few minutes into an episode of ICarly, (I've never really watched it and I needed to see why Shannon likes it) I found myself some company. Shannon. Who was thrilled that I was watching that show on my own. (I'm feeling so good about watching a kid's show by myself right about now)

Then of course Dan and Kate came and my time out was officially over.

Which was ok because: 1. I was in my bed under the covers. And b. AMC was showing something much better than pre-teen fluff.

All of us cuddled on our bed and enjoyed maybe 45 min. of this movie which I figured was perfect because it's about monsters but it's funny. (my favorite is the "puttin' on the ritz" scene)

Then later Dan and Katie did this. (warning--it's noisy and obnoxious)

I'm not sure whether to call it performance art or WWF but I got a kick out of it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I used to pride myself as being a fairly accomplished decorator when it comes to the holidays. At least as far as our finances will allow. (probably good that they don't allow much because this house would look like Who-ville on acid.)

I like to mix a blend of traditional outdated all-american style (wall sconces and wreaths) with a nice splash of childish fun. (stuffed abominable snowmen and leg lamp ornaments)

Forever the master in the decorating department, I gladly do all the outside lights and the tree myself. When I turn down Tim's offer to help, I'm being totally honest.

No sentimental let's-all-do-it-together-crap, I know exactly where I want things to go and if the kids want to help, that's fine. I just put it back where it should go after they go to bed. (do I have a problem? Na.)

I think my throne as queen of all things prettily bedecked may be at risk. I sense a coup d'etat is in process and mutiny might be imminent. (maybe I should lighten up about where the little ceramic santa goes in the village...)

Just as he does with anything he sees, Daniel watched me in awe like an apprentice soaking up Michelangelo, (yes, I'm that good.) (warning-extreme sarcasm) then STOLE my precious adornments and ran off to his room to make his own Christmas town.

How dare he! ( Though I do commend his use of star wars figures as stand-ins for townsfolk)

Lights must be dimmed to get the proper effect.

My favorite part.
It's the deranged Easter bunny who must have angered the native in Beetlejuice and is now being carefully monitered by the Geico eyes just to make sure the people of Bedford Falls are no longer in danger...
I've never seen anything that screams Merry Christmas more than this display.
I'm so proud.