Sunday, December 28, 2008

John Williams Is The Man

This is pretty impressive. My boys can't watch it enough...

If I had HALF the talent this guy has in his pinky toe the Hotwheel Hacienda would have it made.

Friday, December 26, 2008

December 26th - the Laziest Day EVER.

So why don't you take a look at out photos from the holidaze? (Click here.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays from the Hotwheel Hacienda!

Rub-A-Dub-Dub... Two Santas in a Tub! 
So this ended up being our Christmas card.. if you chose D) None of the above on the card post you were right. This was shot #18 that finally made the card.

A few items for the baby book: Four and two years old is a great year for Christmas. Santa has caught on & was a pretty effective discipline tool when we needed it. Big items this year for Eli was a play kitchen and a police helmet. Finn was excited about his Ben 10 watch and his space shuttle (complete with alien). Right now we're watching Wall-E and playing with the new toys. 

I was proud of the boys - they helped gather up some of their gently used toys and we took them to Christmas Charities for "the boys & girls that Santa forgot". (Don't worry, we gave new toys too!) Finn got a little upset because he thought we were going to actually give the toys to the children & he would get to play with them - the kids, not the toys. 

We've enjoyed spending time with friends and family this holiday season. Hope you're enjoying yours! 

Monday, December 22, 2008

In Which Finn is Four

Mother, Mother, Ocean
I can hear you call.
Wanted to sail upon your waters
Since I was three feet tall.
You've seen it all,
You've seen it all.

It has been four years since Finn has made his debut into this world. His impression upon it has been significant, especially the impact on mine & Caleb's lives. I like to think we're more thoughtful & relaxed people. The phrase "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" comes to mind, and if there was one thing I was good at B.F. (before Finn) it was making mountains out of mole hills.

The Story of Finn's Birth
Recorded here for posterity...

I am incredibly fortunate - pregnancy has not been a complicated condition for me. The first time was especially textbook-easy, and I felt great most of the time... until the last few weeks when I was miserable and ready to get the show on the road. My doctor started to ask questions about my options as Christmas crept closer and closer, despite the fact that I had included everything in my birth plan and all he had to do was refer to it. No - I didn't want to be induced if I could help it. Yes - I knew there was a chance I could be in the hospital for Christmas. I didn't care as long as the baby was healthy and things went as smooth as possible.

3 months

Finn's due date of December 19 came and went. We were trying everything from spicy food to exercise, but there was no action, no dilation, no effacement. We trekked from holiday party to party with the "Not Yet" face on. It was maddening.

Finally, I relented. My doctor was concerned if we didn't schedule an inducement there would literally be "no room at the inn" because of all the women scheduling to avoid holiday hospitalization. So we picked the evening of December 22nd to do the deed - my grandmother's birthday & anniversary were on the 23rd. The plan was to go in that night at 7:00 PM, start the medicine, and have a baby in the early morning hours.

Finn had other plans. I started having contractions on my own very early on the 22nd. They were manageable and I piddled around the house while Caleb finished up at work. By the time he got home they were getting much stronger, but I still didn't want to jump the gun. We put our suitcase in the car and went to get some dinner before the check-in time for my inducement. I knew I wouldn't be able to eat for a while and I wanted to be sure to keep my strength up, so we went to Chick-Filet. By now I wasn't feeling so hungry and my composure was shaky. I could barely eat through the contractions.

1st swim at 8 months

We got checked in after dinner and got settled into our room. Since I was only 2 cm dilated and 30% effaced I just had to wait. I wanted to go a little while longer before asking for the epidural since progress was so slow. My parents came by and "The Blues Brothers" was on TV. The contractions were coming so hard and fast I could barely converse with my mom, and I would thrash through them and all but fall asleep as they eased. Around midnight mom & dad left, I finally took the nurse up on her fifth offer to get the drugs. I was an immediate convert into the Church of Epidural. It felt like I had taken several shots of heavenly whiskey laced with brown sugar and I fell into a blissful sleep instantly.

I slept until a nurse woke me up around 4:30 AM to let me know the baby's heart rate had dropped a bit so they were easing up on the epidural. At 6:00 AM I could feel about 40% of what was happening and wanted to start pushing. My doctor thought it would be a while and then he LEFT TO DELIVER ANOTHER BABY. I labored for a while longer, somewhere in there my mom & sister came in, and I started to worry my doctor wouldn't come back in time. I really really really had to push, like NOW. The nurses ran to get him. It was 7:30 AM.

4-month old Finn & the Mayor

This part is still sharp in my mind: from 7:20 until he was born at 8:26 I pushed until my face turned beet red. I pushed until I was soaked with sweat. I pushed until Caleb told me to close my eyes because he was worried they'd pop out of my head. I was so tires I could barely see, but was bound and determined to work as hard as I could to get that baby out and into my arms. I was tired of waiting, and ready for that part to be over. It was all very movie-esque.

I won't record the freaky part here, but Finn was finally born. His breathing was labored and he had a temperature so I only got to see him for a moment before he was whisked away to the NICU for monitoring. Caleb and I were anxious, so he went upstairs with Finn while my mom & sister stayed with me & got my room switched to postpartum. Caleb later reported wondering which baby was crying so loud when he entered the NICU only to find it was his baby, and how he was able to give him a bath. I didn't get to see that part.

Franken-Finn's 1st Halloween

An hour goes by, then two, and I still hadn't officially held my son. Finn was finally discharged from the NICU and delivered to our room after he checked out fine, but he returned with a sack full of NICU goodies! It seems he learned how to work the system at an early age... there were pajamas, a knit blanket & hat, and a book - all donated to NICU babies by little old women. Score!

We all went home on Christmas Day, and it officially became the strangest Christmas EVER. One thing I wasn't prepared for was the mass exodus of hormones from my body the next few days. The car ride home stressed me out so much that all I could was break down and cry my eyes out for a few hours immediately afterward. I wasn't sad, I was just overwhelmed, and all that emotion had to get out of me ASAP.

So that was the beginning.

And now... POOF! Four years have flown by and I have a little man.

He's funny,

And has an appetite for life.

He's a great brother...

Nog Scogging

... and always on the lookout for an adventure or a good story.

Tomorrow we will celebrate the Official Birthday over popcorn and Madagascar 2 with good friends that Finn has had his whole life. And I will be a little bit sad.

But mainly I'll be wondering what the next few years have in store for my Jimmy-Buffett-loving, joke-and-story-telling, sugar-sensitive, independent, elephant-memoried, affectionate, Guitar-Hero-obsessed little boy.

And looking forward to them.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Girl Can Accessorize - Updated!

I was able to watch my two-month-old niece some this week & we've had fun. I like to put stuff on her head...

Santa Stevey

... and take pictures.

Stevey Models the Oven Mitt

And then I get to send her home! It's nice being an Aunt.


I actually won SuperMommy's awesome contest - I am now the proud recipient of an Envirosax set. (Merry Christmas to me!) I can't wait to hit Publix with these tucked underneath my arm. Oh, and I'll bet they'll come in handy toting presents to and from the Fam's holiday gatherings. And at the beach in the summertime. And double as a diaper bag / purse! And work tote! And library bag! The possibilities are endless. 
Thanks SuperMommy! You are my personal Santa Claus!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm Being Held Hostage By Indiana Jones

Finn's small birthday party went well & the Indiana Jones cake was a hit. His actual day of birth is next week and we are planning on having a special day at the movies with these guys, so more birthday references to come. I finally uploaded the party photos here on Flickr, but this just about sums it up:

The Whip has been a coveted item for a while so he was happy to see it. The trouble is, Eli & Finn have been fighting like crazy over it, so much that Aunt Laura had to promise to get Eli one for Christmas. Because that's what we need... TWO WHIPS. (But seriously, thanks LB!)

Between The Whip, the Indiana Jones Mr. Potato Head, and the actual movie we just received from Netflix, I am pretty weary of hearing THIS SONG because they all three play it over and over and over:

As is stab-me-in-the-ear-just-so-I-don't-have-to-listen-to-it-again weary.

So I'm taking some time off over the next few weeks; I have tons of comp time & vacation that I need to use or my HR director will string me up. I've decided to focus on Eli's potty training skillz & see what progress we make. 

(Don't worry... I know you're intrigued & I'll be sure to post Potty Chronicle updates. So you can rest easy now.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Birthday Countdown

He Made It!
Originally uploaded by BookMamma
T minus 19 hours and counting...

Finn's birthday is on the 23rd, but we have been celebrating it a week or so early - for obvious reasons. When he was born we toyed with the idea of celebrating Half Birthdays in July so he could enjoy it away from the shadow of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, New Years, and the other various winter celebrations. But then Eli was born in July so we couldn't do that.

Tomorrow we will have a small, family-only gathering to mark the occasion, and then do something special with just us on the 23rd.

Hence... the CAKE OF AWESOMENESS. It has snakes, and lava, and tribal natives with spears, and a swinging bridge over a volcano, and candles for torches. We got him the Indiana Jones whip to go with it as his gift. (I will probably be posting later on what a bad idea that was.)

More later...

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells

And now... Storytime Theater by Finn:

"Once upon a time I was goin for a walk in the forest an it was dark an spooky an I hear the wind blowin through the forest like this: WHOOOOOOOO-WHOOOOOOOOOO. An then I hear a noise! An I say "What's that?" An a huge big DRAGON jump out from the trees an he had chompy teeth! An I took my sword out and I cut off his foot! An then I cut off his other foot. An then I cut off his body. An then he was dead like this: (He lays back with his eyes shut & tongue hanging out.) THE END."


The boys' school Christmas program was last night. Papa & Nana came out to watch and hear Eli sing "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and Finn sing "Three Wise Men". It was a packed house & getting photos was difficult, but here's a short video of Finn's performance...

(He's the second from the right in the red sweater.)

Part 2: Where it Gets Real

I got some of the whole school singing "Mary Did You Know" - Eli was farther away from me, but I got a little of him singing too. He did a great job with the hand motions. The CD starts skipping halfway through and Ms. Margie bravely plowed on, leading the kids in song.

Finn, on the other hand, has his back turned from the audience and is scratching his behind.

I'm just glad he didn't take his pants off & moon the crowd this time.

(Eli is third from the left sitting down on the front row.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Card Conundrum

Last night we headed to Santa's Village to drop in on the Jolly Old Elf himself, as well as a few of his friends.

Frosty was a big hit:

And so was the Gingerbread Man.
(Except Eli kept calling him "Cookie"... cracked. me. up!)

There was much dancing in the snow...

And a general sense of wonder.

So, I can't decide and need YOUR help. Which one should I use for our holiday photo card? Vote for your favorite (or top two) in the comments. Click here to go to our Flickr page and see the rest of the photos from Santa's Village.

The small print: I won't lie and promise to use the one the majority picks for our card. I really can't decide, and am hoping you might help push me in one direction or the other.
Or... D) None of the Above.

BookMamma & Finn get all festive.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

And the Band Played On

Caleb & Steph
Originally uploaded by BookMamma
Thanksgiving Preparations & Execution - CHECK

Hotwheels Halls Decked - CHECK

Holiday Card Photo Taken - next on the To-Do list...

Hopefully we'll get that done this week. In the meantime, I uploaded tons of photos to Flickr this weekend. Thanks to Sandypants for all the great Margarita Ball photos!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gotta Have Some Green Stuff

My Grandmother used to insist on having something green on her plate at each meal. Especially at a chinese buffet. She would always put 2-3 of those seasoned green beans on her plate because she "HAD to". It made her feel better about the fried eggroll and General Tso.

Anytime I have people over for dinner I always have the same quandry about the menu: lack of green veggie that everyone will eat. Sure, I could just pop open a can of green beans if I'm lazy, but if you're going through the trouble of having guests for dinner, you probably want it to look like you put forth some effort. Thus my quandry.
Roasted asparagus is good, but it gets cold before you can eat it.
Ditto for steamed broccoli.
Salad is... okay. But then you have to lay out bowls and that's another thing to wash.

So imagine how thrilled I was to find these recipes that were easy & quick and tasted great. They green up a dinner spread beautifully too! Broccoli slaw is supposed to be served cold, but the crunch isn't effected if you have it on the table for a little while for people to get seconds. Turnip greens are supposed to be served hot, so doing them in the crockpot is perfect. Throw the ingredients in and forget about them while you finish up everything else.

Broccoli Slaw
10 to 12 servings

2 bags (3-ounce) Oriental Ramen Noodle Soup
3 TBS low-fat butter substitute
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 bags (12-ounce) bags broccoli cole slaw (in the bagged salad section)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Chopped green onions, for garnish

Dressing Mix:
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup brown or white sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 ramen noodle seasoning packet

Put the ramen noodles in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin while melting butter in a large skillet over low/medium heat. Add the crushed noodles and slivered almonds to the skillet and saute, stirring occasionally (keep temperature at low/medium heat). Meanwhile, whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Place the shredded broccoli into bowl and toss with the noodles, almonds, and sunflower seeds. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Garnish with chopped green onions.

Happy Thanksgiving! I feel so blessed and thankful this year... and that Hope feeling still lingers. I hope you can take a moment between dinner preparations to think upon some of the things that YOU are thankful for.

This is at the top of my list:

The Story of Papa Loyd's Famous Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I've always loved to cook and see family. We're the kind that stays, eats some more, and stays, naps a little, and stays, talk a lot, watch some football, stays a bit longer, and eventually waddle our way back to our cars with heaping plates of leftovers for the next day.

I thought I would share with you the killer cornbread dressing recipe from my Grandfather. I love to make it every year in his memory, in the very big silver "dressing bowl" he taught me to prepare it in.

The year before Papa Loyd died he was still stubbornly insisting on hosting Christmas Day dinner at his house like we always did. I went over to help with the preparations and brought my video camera to try and capture the infamous dressing recipe on tape. I let him boss me around and call all the shots - watching that video makes me laugh as I cry.

Me & Papa Loyd circa 1979
Papa Loyd's Holiday Dressing & Giblet Gravy

Note: no shortcuts allowed. No broth instead of homemade stock. No store bought cornbread. I've tried the shortcuts and they just. don't. work. It's not the same.

1 hen (not chicken)
2-3 onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 large pones cornbread (if you don't know what a pone is you have no business making this recipe)
1/4 butter
2 TBS yellow mustard
2 TBS ketchup
2 TBS Italian seasoning
1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh sage, finely chopped (reduce amount if dried)
3 slices bread, torn up into small pieces
1 (8 oz.) can oysters, drained & chopped
3 TBS jarred pimento, finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste

The day before: cook cornbread & cool completely. Crumble both pones.

Day of Thanksgiving:
Remove giblets from hen and set aside.

Rinse hen and place in stockpot & cover with water, about 8 cups. Simmer covered until done, reserving broth. De-bone hen & reserve meat.

Preheat oven 350 degrees

In large saucepan melt butter & add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Add all the broth from hen, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

In BIG ("dressing") bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, torn bread pieces, & the broth mix until it reaches spaghetti sauce consistency. If mix is too soupy, add more bread pieces.

Add all the remaining ingredients & mix well.

Pour mixture into a large roasting pan. Bake 1 hour until golden.

Serve hot with giblet gravy & hen meat on the side.

Finely chop hen giblets.

Simmer 3 cups chicken broth on stovetop. Add flour a little at a time, stirring constantly until a smooth, thin rue is formed. Add chopped giblets, blend well, and simmer.

Salt, pepper, and otherwise season to taste, can add one or two sliced boiled eggs to gravy if you want to be extra-Southern.

Yields: enough for a crowd of at least 10-15.

Eliot Loyd is Papa Loyd's namesake.
I see his spirit in that boy every day.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Howdy, Pilgrim

If you are a fan of "This American Life" then you already know Sarah Vowell. She has a new book out called The Wordy Shipmates that is perfect to read the week of Thanksgiving. It will make you the most fascinating conversationalist in the room at dinner. Trust me. 

Sarah Vowell Pictures, Images and Photos

If you are not familiar with Sarah Vowell, PLEASE take a moment over your morning coffee to listen to one of her segments on this, my most favorite radio show in the universe. 
Believe me... if you do listen, you won't be sorry.

Part 2

In the spirit of Puritans, check out these pilgrim hats we will be chowing down on Thursday.

24 chocolate-striped shortbread cookies
12-ounce package of chocolate chips
24 marshmallows
tube of yellow decorators' frosting

1. Set the chocolate-striped cookies stripes down on a wax-paper-covered tray, spacing them well apart.

2. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave or double boiler.

3. One at a time, stick a wooden toothpick into a marshmallow, dip the marshmallow into the melted chocolate, and promptly center it atop a cookie.

4. Using a second toothpick to lightly hold down the marshmallow, carefully pull out the first toothpick.

5. Chill the hats until the chocolate sets, then pipe a yellow decorators' frosting buckle on the front of each hat.

Oh, and did I mention my back decided to go out on me today? 

Countdown to T-Day

For the first time in 50+ years, my dad's Milner side of the family isn't getting together for Thanksgiving. This is sad, but not entirely tragic because I'll see them in about a month for Christmas, but still... it will be odd not piling in to Aunt Lynda's house and stuffing our faces. 

This year I am hosting my immediate family... and a few extended family for Thanksgiving. To be exact, 21 adults and 5 kids under the age of 7. Luckily, its a potluck and I'm getting lots of help from the Fam.

So each day until Thanksgiving I will post one recipe that we'll be enjoying. Here's one we did today...

Pumpkin Pie Play Dough
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 TBS oil
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
orange food coloring 
2 cups water

Mix all ingredients together. Cook and stir over medium heat until lumps disappear. Knead the dough on cool surface (like a countertop) until smooth & cool enough for kids to handle.
Throw the dough and some cookie cutters on the table and you can buy enough time to get your own pumpkin pie in the oven!

Meme Time! (aka BookMamma's Tired)

The rules? Answer the following questions in one word and then pass it on to seven others.
Tagged by Rhonda.

Where is your cell phone? Charger
Where is your significant other? Bed
Your hair color? Brunette
Your mother? Sweet
Your father? Busy
Your favorite thing? Cocktails
Your dream last night? Work
Your dream/goal? Progressive
The room you’re in? Kitchen
Your hobby? Books
Your fear? Assasination
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Maintaining
Where were you last night? Purgatory
What you’re not? Skinny
One of your wish-list items? Boots
Where you grew up? South
Last thing you did? Coffee
What are you wearing? Jammies
Your TV? Loud
Your pet? Kids
Your computer? Disenfected
Your mood? Sleepy
Missing someone? Grandmother
Your car? Un-vaccumed
Something you’re not wearing? Bra
Favorite store? DSW
Your summer? Speedy
Love someone? Completely
Your favorite color? Green
When is the last time you laughed? Today
Last time you cried? Yesterday

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Boy Briefs, the Religilous Version

The boys attend an Episcopal daycare (not so much because we want spirituality/religion to be taught to them there, but more because its the best daycare we've ever seen). The classes have chapel every Wednesday, and it is taught by a sweet older lady whose twin daughters just happen to be Finn & Eli's teachers.  

We're arriving one morning and pass Chapel Teacher in the hall. 

"Good morning, Finn," she says. 

"Good morning," Finn stoically replies back. We walk a little further down the hall. When we get safely out of earshot Finn whispers to me, "Mommy... know what? That my chapel teacher. Her name's GOD." 


We've recently been attending church at the very place the boys go to school. This is great for Caleb and I but kind of weird for the boys because they aren't exactly sure if they're going for school or for church. But they're smart... they'll figure it out eventually. 

At children's church the kids go back and do songs and crafts before coming in to sit with the adults for communion. Last Sunday, Finn was NOT happy when he arrived at our pew and was loudly protesting a paper in his hand. 

"Mom, this isn't my NAME," he gestures wildly to the paper. It's covered in glue and marker scribbles with the name "Ben" prominently written at the top.
"MY NAME'S NOT BEN! That lady got my name wrong!" 

We get him calmed down and manage to get through communion with just a few huffy pouts and indignation. In the car, Hubs tries to explain. 

Hotwheel Hubs: "Finn, the teacher didn't do it on purpose, she just thought you said "Ben". Let's practice telling people your  name. Say F-f-f-f-FINN."

Finn: "F-f-f-f-BEN." 

Me: "Hmmm. Say, 'frog'."

Finn: "Frog."

Me: "Say, 'fabulous'."

Finn: "Fabulous."

Hubs: "Say, 'FINN'."

Finn: "Ben."

Me & Hubs: ... sigh


The daycare makes a delicious Thanksgiving lunch for all the families of the kids each year. I signed up to help set up and serve the plates -  it was a great way to match the kids I see every day to their parents & grandparents. Both Grandaddy and Nana came to eat with Eli, and Nana stayed over to eat with Finn, Hubs, and I. 

Our priest, Susan, was also scurrying around serving food and refilling tea glasses. She was dressed in her usual priestly uniform Finn watched her for a while and elbowed his dad. 

"Daddy, know what? Dat lady's name's GOD." Finn stoically goes back to eating his roll. 

Which leaves me thinking maybe if we can keep him thinking all women are God, he'll turn out just fine. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Writes a Post About It

WARNING: This post is less about sunshine and puppies and more for the purpose of documenting a pretty craptastic week... in the hopes it can only get better.

Finn continues to have a rough time at school. His teachers and his parents are looking in to it. 

Yesterday, my purse gets stolen. Out of my car. In my driveway. **
The only nice bag I've ever had in my life, my iPod, 4 credit cards, my driver's license, my checkbook, my Kohl's & Victoria Secret cards, all my various shades of lipstick, my cute antique business card holder, and a mix of restaurant & movie gift cards - all gone. 
We spent the day cancelling accounts, filing fraud alerts on our credit reports, filling out bank paperwork, and getting a new license (whose photo was nowhere near as good as the one that was stolen.)

The thief missed a few things... another iPod, some beloved CD's, and a substantial gift card to the mall were all overlooked. He/She was also nice enough to pull some office paperwork out of my purse before they took it, so that will come in handy. This is me trying to find a positive thing. 

Like everyone, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the holidays will be slim around here.

** FAQs:  
Yes, I know it was stupid for me to leave my purse in the car. 
No, I don't usually do that. 
Yes, I meant to go back and get my stuff out of the car after I got home from work, but the boys were fussy & hungry and I only had so many arms to get the backpacks, coats, squirmy Eli, and car keys shuffled into the house. 
No, I have NEVER left my purse in an unlocked car in my driveway before. 
Yes, we usually park in the garage but there's stuff we're taking to Goodwill packed in there at the moment.
No, I don't feel entirely safe in my own home after this happened 3 yards away from where my family was sleeping. 
 And Yes, it only takes one stupid mistake for some bonehead jerk to steal your identity by using your credit card to buy a disposable cell phone at 2:30AM. 
(Also, Yes - I know it could have been much worse.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

One Day I Better Look Back and Laugh

It's been kind of rough over at the Hotwheel Hacienda of late. "Almost-Four" has been trying (at best) the past few weeks and we're at our wits end.  

Please send vodka. 

Oh NO she didn't!

So, in the interest in leaving a productive post, I want to share with you a FABULOUS recipe that came my way. It's super quick, very tasty, and looks like you put lots of effort into it. 

Sarah's Fantabulous Quick Supper Recipe:
16/17 oz package of already cooked Pot Roast (au jus, if you can find it)
1 cup of picante sauce, hot or mild to taste
1/2 cup of sliced white mushrooms
1 box of quick-cook couscous (I use whole wheat)
1 1/4 cup of chicken broth
2 tsp of butter/margarine (can substitute olive oil, if desired)
Warm the pot roast in the microwave per directions on package.
Transfer the liquid from the roast into a skillet, over medium heat. 
Add in the mushrooms and picante sauce and simmer. 
Chop up the pot roast into 1" chunks; add to skillet; bring to boil. 
Pull heat down to medium, cover, leave alone for a bit.

Using the chicken broth and butter/margarine/olive oil, prepare the couscous. It literally takes about five minutes.

Once the couscous is done, layer the dish with the couscous first and then the roast, topping it all with the juice. I found that this made about three equal sized portions, perfect for a family of four with two small kids.

The verdict? My kids ate up every bite and licked the plate. Success! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"One Nation... Invisisisible"

This morning, I bundled up Finn & Eli and loaded them into the wagon equipped with a variety of Star Wars toys and strategically placed pieces of Halloween candy. Did I mention it was 7:15 AM? We headed to the local middle school, our polling place, and voted in a truly historic election. 

The boys were great, despite the short wait. It only took about 45 minutes from start to finish, and they stayed put, stayed (relatively) quiet, and I was able to have plenty of time to make sure I didn't screw up my ballot. 

We voted

Some find it difficult to choose between the "lesser of two evils" and don't bother to vote because they don't think it matters. To this I say, no human is perfect. If we all wait around until the perfect candidate with the perfect political philosophy comes along before we cast a vote, I have a feeling we could end up in a similar situation as our friends in the Middle East and other oppressed peoples of the world. 

And if you're STILL not convinced...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Candy Pushing

Candy Pusher
Originally uploaded by BookMamma
Halloween 2008 was great - we went to a library costume party, had a costume parade at school, and finished up the night with Trick-or-Treating.

Caleb & I have a costume party to attend this evening and then we bid Halloween farewell and get ready for my other favorite holiday... Thanksgiving. And you know what that means - Macy's Parade is almost here!! (For those of you who don't know, I'm a sucker for a parade. I don't know why - but I LOVE them. I will go see it in person before I die.)

In the meantime, enjoy our Flickr pictures by clicking on the link.


We are the champions...

Hubs and I won "Most Original Costumes" at the party last weekend. Our Juno & Bleeker rocked the Casbah. Actually, I think it was Caleb's legs that sealed the deal...

Bleeker & Juno

No, I'm NOT pregnant. We rigged up a pretty convincing belly. So much so that there were some pretty mad people watching me have libations.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A is for "Awesome!" and S is for "Sassy!"

Recently I expanded my (small) circle of friends and was lucky enough to meet A is for Aardvark and SarahLena in REAL LIFE... for a REAL lunch and then a REAL fantabulous book club meeting. (This was despite the fact that last spring I totally freaked out Aardvark's husband by congratulating them on their newest addition to the family. That would have been fine except, I had never met them before and came off looking like a total stalker.)

Can I say how wonderful it is to skip all that weird Getting-To-Know-You stuff and get straight to the snarking? My husband was just glad they were real people and not imaginary - although he couldn't refrain from saying, "So what are you going to do... sit around the table and twitter each other?" 

It was hard, but we managed. 

MEME of the Day
Tagged by Aardvark 

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog (this is what you are now reading).
3. Write 6 random things about yourself (see below).
4. Tag 3 people at the end of your post and link to them. (why not…)
5. Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog. (I’ll try)
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.


1. I get motion sickness faster than you can say "Do I need to pull over?" This means I have to drive everywhere and can rarely be a passenger in any kind of transportation. It also probably means I'm a control freak. 

2. I'm the youngest Rotarian in my district. (I know... very random, and strangely out of character.)

3. I've been on Oprah. Had 30 seconds on the book club show for Tawni O'Dell's novel, Back Roads. I think the only reason they called me was because I hated the book. 

4. I'm secretly glad I have boys. I think I would make a horrible girl mom and was scared when I was pregnant that I might have one. 

5. I spent a month in Australia in 2003. I highly recommend that. 

6. My favorite candy is chocolate covered gummy bears. Since we're on the subject of chocolate I also like to mix M&M's with hot popcorn so they get all melty inside the shell. 

TAG - you're it! 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!

Stevey Annelise was born Thursday, October 16th at 1:30 PM.
She is a very svelte 7 pounds, 4 ounces, and a lengthy 20 inches long.

She decided to debut the same way as her wise cousin Eli, and a last-minute C-section was necessary, much to her mom & dad's chagrin. Despite this, both Mom & Stevey are fine & headed home Sunday. Dad & Sister also doing great.

Family & friends can gaze upon her sweet pixie face by clicking this link.

In the meantime... BEHOLD THE CUTENESS!

Pixie Face

Friday, October 17, 2008

American Graffiti

A few weeks back, the whole Hotwheel family spent a great afternoon at the playground on Monte Sano. Both Caleb and I would occasionally play there growing up, and immediately remembered this Metal Death Trap:

Metal death trap

Of course, the boys loved it and spurned all the safe, cushiony playground equipment in order to crawl all over the MDT. I followed in order to avoid yet another trip to the ER, and was rewarded with some hard-core graffiti chiseled on the metal inside:

i hate peas

I Hate Peas. That is punk rock.

Civil disobedience, indeed.

If you need another breath of fresh air, check out these videos of the two presidential candidates at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner a few nights ago. They both KILLED it - funny, self-deprecating, charming, relevant.... dont'cha wish the whole campaign could have been like this?
(Thanks for the link, S2!)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happiness & Homecoming Queens

The past few weeks have given me much to reflect on. Caleb and I celebrated nine years of marital bliss last week, and the week before got brave enough to attend our high school's homecoming football game. I'll tackle each one separately and then segue into how they both intersect. (This should be good!)

We've been married nine years, but if you ask us, we'd both probably tell you it feels longer. NOT because of the agonizing slowness of marriage, but because wwwaaaaayyyyy back longer than that. We first met when we were 13 & 14 respectively, but didn't date then. Mostly because I wasn't allowed, secondly because we only passed each other in the hall a few times, and thirdly I was... pretty awkward that year (read: chubby & dorky).

When high school rolled around a few years later, Hotwheel Hubs will tell you he tried to ask me out, but he really didn't. We were friends, and hung out with lots of the same people. If you had told either one of us we'd get married back then I'm sure we'd both laugh in your face.

BookMamma & Hotwheel Hubs as HS seniors

I was lucky enough to have a good handful of GREAT friends in high school, a few that I am still in touch and involved with to this day. However, none of them - myself included - are terribly nostalgic for "the good ole days". We all agree it was pretty rough and are much more comfortable in our current skins. (Don't get me wrong, it was fun, but I'm not able to relate very well to people who can't seem to move past high school and think of it as the best days of their lives.) Going back for Homecoming was strange for me, but I thought it would be fun to take the boys, and my little sister was a senior this year so it was the last chance I could get away with going due to family ties.

I was surprised that it opened a floodgate of memories.

There was my parking spot, and over there was where dance team practiced. There was the "cafetorium" where I had drama class, and can you believe that teacher still works here?? Mainly though, it made me think of people, and past Homecoming games I attended in school.

My favorite year was 11th grade. I had some friends in the senior class and was doing that introspective thing teenage girls do when they start to question who they are and the company they keep and who they want to be. The main thing I remember about that year was being in a state of hilarity for the majority of it - EVERYTHING was funny. It was the year of Forest Gump, ER's television debut, and Kurt Cobain's departure. Beavis & Butthead were in their prime. I met new people and tried new things - some good, some not. Homecoming that year stands out in my head, because that was the year of the anti-Homecoming Queen... Danielle's reign began.

Specifics erased to protect the not-so-innocent.

Danielle was funny, pretty, athletic, and pragmatic. She was popular, but in a literal way as opposed to an elite way. Everybody knew her because she talked to everybody. She had an uncanny talent for making people feel included, students and staff alike. All the teachers knew her, all the cheerleaders knew her, all the dorks knew her, and all the jocks knew her. Which was probably how she got to be Homecoming Queen, although I seem to remember her hating it. She spoke her mind in a way I had not seen before - not confrontational or bratty like most 17 year-olds, but with unapologetic empathy. 1994 was the year I became friends with Danielle, and she was one of the first to impress upon me the endless possibilities of life outside of The Green.

Graduation happens, college happens, time passes. Caleb and I suddenly find ourselves back in the hometown during a lull in both of lives. A friendship is revived. Long story short, it all results in this:

The wedding was huge, full of friends & family. My girls from high school threw me a surprise batchelorette party the week before and Danielle was there, instigating as usual. Several weeks ago I got see Danielle as she popped into town to visit friends. We keep connected through the various social networks and still share friends, so I hear a lot about what she's up to second hand. It's rare & wonderful when you have a friend that time doesn't seem to touch.

Danielle & Choppa - she's the one on the right.

So, Danielle - here's your promised post.
(Please don't kill me, but you know you had it coming for the photo you put up last year!)

And to Caleb - my how time flies when you're having fun... you have helped me to never "[be] cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Path of Least Resistance

The keyword hits are cracking me up lately! I love seeing how folks wind up at the HH as they do their wacked-out Google searches... **

hot boys briefs
This one happens a LOT. Combined with the gross-out additions of the numbers one and three. I don't want to think long about that one...

Conversely, I also get pinged by:
hot hippy boy

gargantula spider
So I guess that's a real word now. Kind of like 'damntastic'.


read alike alice in wonderland
This one puzzles me because I can't figure out what post it's referencing. Any ideas?

Dickinson's lemon curd
A post about this recipe gets tons of weekly hits. You're welcome, Dickinson's! You can send me that lifetime supply of nommy lemon curd any day now.

make his in-laws love you
Part II of Dickinson's post. Apparently the subject of distraught in-law relationships is a big issue.

schnitzel zone
Um... okay. Do I WANT to know?

mexican bathrooms?
No, thank you.

As a library professional, it makes me cringe when people use Google like it's GOD. In case you don't already know, always question Teh Internets... ALWAYS!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Whatever You Do, DON'T Vote

Just in case you need an army of A-list celebrities encouraging you to vote...

... and now, back to your regularly scheduled Hotwheel Hacienda.
(No more political posts, I promise. I'll do that elsewhere.)

Finn goes for his check up with the plastic surgeon tomorrow. Something tells me that will be very blog-worthy. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Great Costume Debacle

It's officially October and the boys have started this year's debate - what to be for Halloween? Actually, the search began back in August, but neither Caleb or I took either very seriously, because we knew it would change a million times.

The difference now is Eli is interested, and Finn - who we thought would be the constant element in the Halloween equation - can't seem to make up his mind. Before Eli could care less, but now he is firmly resolved to be "Star Wars", which include any one of the following:
- Darth Vader
- a Jedi
- Boba Fett
- Yoda

Fickle Finn changes with the wind. Months ago is was Shark Boy, from the movie Shark Boy & Lava Girl. Then it changed to Indiana Jones, in part because he loves to watch us play Lego Indiana Jones on the Wii. (Note he's never seen the movies and really has no idea who Indiana Jones is.) Then he wanted to be a knight, just because he saw a costume in TJ Maxx he liked that was five times too big for him.

Today? He wants to be "Scary Jerry".

Who is Scary Jerry, you ask?

He is this guy. My mom came to visit over the weekend and brought Scary Jerry, a magnetic skeleton that she got at the hospital gift shop. Scary Jerry lives on our refrigerator... and Finn has fallen in love with him. Scary Jerry needs to be adjusted. Scary Jerry is too cold. Scary Jerry "glows in the dark" (not really). Scary Jerry wants to play with him. Scary Jerry is ticklish.

Finn wants to marry Scary Jerry.

Luckily, Caleb's parents found some cute skeleton pajamas for both boys a while back. Am I bad mother is I just layer those with thermal underwear, slap on a skeleton mask, and call it a day?

Scary Jerry is whispering in my ear, telling me I should.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Living the Good LIfe

Check this out. This is an actual obit that ran a few days ago...

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 1, 2008 - James William "Jim" Adams

A celebration of life for James William "Jim" Adams, 53, will be held at a later date.

He died Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008 at Memorial Hospital of Converse County in Douglas.

Jim, who had tired of reading obituaries noting other's courageous battles with this or that disease, wanted it known that he lost his battle. It was primarily as a result of being stubborn and not following doctor's orders or maybe for just living life a little too hard for better than five decades.

He was born June 8, 1955 in Garrison, N.D. the son of James William and Ruby Helen (Clark) Adams.

He was sadly deprived of his final wish, which was to be run over by a beer truck on the way to the liquor store to buy booze for a date. True to his personal style, he spent his final hours joking with medical personnel, cussing and begging for narcotics and bargaining with God to look over his loving dog, Biscuit, and his family.

He would like to thank all "his ladies" for putting up with him the last 30 years.

During his life, he excelled at anything he put his mind to. He loved to hear and tell jokes and spin tales of grand adventures he may or may not have had.

He is survived by five sons, Jeremiah Adams and his wife, Nicole, Mica Olivas, Wade Olivas, Brice Simpson and Cole Adams; sister, Jerri Giegerich; two ex-wives, Vickie Harrison and Marilyn Williams; four grandchildren; two nieces; and two great-nieces.

He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother-in-law.

In lieu of flowers, he asks that you make a sizeable purchase at your favorite watering hole, get rip roaring drunk and tell the stories he no longer can.

Gorman Funeral Homes - Converse Chapel of Douglas is in charge of the arrangements.

I can only hope for a tribute that awesome.

(this was also a test to see if Blogger's scheduled post option works, but in no way negates the awesomeness.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Boy Briefs, the ER Version

Yep, we had to go back last night.

Thanks to all my twitterkin that sent good vibes our way. I sincerely think it helped! We were able to leave (yet again) without having to put Finn under for surgery. And today the cut looks better - it's pinking up. Those of you who are very brave can go see it here. Be warned - it's gross.

At the current moment our status is set to "wait & see". All the doctors involved (and there is a growing number of them, which I think is stoopid) seem to think it could easily go either way. Best case scenario involves sutures healing great and come out next week. Worst case would be skin continues to die due to lack of blood supply and surgery becomes inevitable. Then it's put Finn under - something that scares me very much - and plastic surgeon takes a graph from his tiny little back and applies it to his arm so it doesn't crater.

We see plastic surgeon Tuesday and its his call. Until then, we have to watch it vigilantly and go straight to the doctor, do not pass go, do not collect $200, where he will then send us straight to the ER and we do it all over again.


While I am VERY thankful this is just a superficial wound, and we're not dealing with a super-serious injury, the thought of putting Finn to sleep for surgery makes me incredibly nervous. I guess I've heard too many horror stories of kids never waking up again, especially little ones.

So - if you have a positive success story to share, please leave them in the comments.

If you only have horrible, awful, negative stories, take a hike. I can't hear those right now.


Two year old and I are driving to meet Hotwheel Hubs and Finn at the ER. I am distraught due to circumstances.

Eli: "Mommy. Mommy. Look! Look Dat!!"

Me: "What? Where?"

Eli: "Iyon pway! Iyon pway!" points and wiggles excitedly

Me: "What?"

Eli: "IYON PWAY!! Der. Der. Der-der-der-der. DER!!!"

Me: spotting the source of discontent
"You want to play there, at that playground?"

Eli: "Ya."

Me: "We can't baby. We got to go see Daddy and Brother."

Eli: "Kaaay."

(a few miles later)

Eli: "Schweep da moon, schweep da moon, Ewi schweepin', Brudder nigh-nigh"
Repeat 18 times.
(Translation: Sleep the moon, sleep the moon, Eli sleeping, Brother night night.)

(more miles later)

Eli: "Mommy. Mommy. Look! Look Dat!! Eeeeewwwww. Dat yucky!"

Me:  ......

Eli: "Eeeeewwwww. Blech. Dat duht nassy."

Me: spotting the construction & piles of dirt around the hospital
"Yep. Nasty dirt."

(in the hospital parking lot)

Eli: "Mommy. Mommy. Look! Look Dat!! Der! Mocycle! Iyona wide!"

Me: "Yep. It's a motorcycle. Say 'hi' to the motorcycle man. We can't ride, baby. We have to go see Daddy now."

Eli: "Kaaay."

Eli has no clue whatsoever there is discord in the house. His oblivion is refreshing, and I hope if I stay around it long enough I can absorb some of it by osmosis. He's been pacifier free for over 3 weeks, and his talking has increased at least 50%. He quit by himself, cold turkey. He's asked for it a few times when he's been sleepy or upset, but only a few. 

I'm so proud of my goofy, sweet baby boy. He's a spot of sunshine on a cloudy day.

eli is trouble.jpg


Also - anyone know if its possible to back up a blog? I'm terrified of blogger crashing and losing all my posts. Is this a dumb thing to worry about or can my neurosis be validated?

Monday, September 29, 2008

We Take a Vacation... or, This Week on "ER: Orange Beach"

Our family had a looooong summer, and we decided a few weeks back to retreat to the beach for a relaxing, quality-time vacation. We arrived in Orange Beach ready for fun fun FUN! The condo we were staying in had great amenities, with a kiddie pool, children's fountain, multiple hot tubs & pools, and a clean private beach.

You might remember this place when we went last April... it was the scene of Eli's Great Elevator Debacle. Since then, the condo has been remodeled and redecorated - it was SO nice.

Go to our Flickr page to see all the photos.

The weather was perfect and the water was clear. Not a jelly fish in sight.

We frolicked in the sand and surf in the morning, took long naps during the day, and dined at beachfront restaurants at night. We took a night walk on the beach to search for crabs with our flashlights. After the boys crashed we watched the debates or caught the Alabama-Georgia football game. And slept the sleep of the dead.

Finn and Eli loved the sand the best. Any time they could find a hole to dig or bury their feet they indulged. There was a sand bar just a few yards out from the shore and we would wade out to stand in the shallow water there. Hotwheel Hubs heard there was a stingray migration and we even saw a "flock" of them from the balcony of our condo.

On Sunday it was time to head back home. We stayed until the very last moment - housekeeping was knocking on the door - and decided to visit the outlet stores on the way out. We lunched at Lambert's Cafe and headed to the stores. Both boys needed Fall clothes badly. Eli has surpassed Finn's hand-me-downs and he's too big for his brother's Fall clothes from last year, so I was looking forward to finding some killer deals.

That's when it went bad.

We were shopping when it happened. I was looking through the clothes and the boys were occupying themselves nearby, not even horsing around too much. Hubs was standing right there and couldn't prevent it from happening. It was a complete freak accident...

Finn fell and cut his arm on a clothes rack - it literally flayed a 3 inch flap of skin down to the layer of fat over his muscle. Caleb scooped him and I got a wet wipe to help stop the bleeding and we hightailed it the front of the store to find out where the hospital was. At this point I had not seen the cut and thought it was something that could be patched up with some Neosporin and a bandaid, but HH knew we had to go to the ER. Finn cried, but had already stopped before we got to the car.

After a 45 minute wait a nurse took a look and dressed the cut. We waited another 45 minutes for the doctor to see Finn.

The doctor was concerned because of the weird shape of the cut and how there would be no blood supply to the skin if they sewed it up. He took a gamble and put in 13 stitches. I won't go into the details here, but that was one of the hardest things I've had to do as a mom to date. It took three of us to hold Finn down for an hour - two nurses and me and the doctor to do the stitches. By the time it was over he was soaked from sweat and tears and slobber. He thrashed and fought the whole hour.

It killed me.

The ER doctor told us he didn't think the stitches were viable, and we needed to be prepared to undergo reconstructive surgery over a series of months. As of yesterday, our pediatrician said they looked good and were healing well so far. So... there's a big chance Finn won't have to do a skin graph and that we'll get the stitches out next week.

Waiting for the doctor.

Eli offers sympathy...

I'll post more as things develop.

Is it me, or is this condo cursed for us?
Hotwheel Hacienda, 2008. All Rights Reserved.|Blog Design by JudithShakes Designs.
Graphics hosted by Flickr.