Saturday, March 29, 2008

April Perfect Posts

I love Perfect Post Award time because I get to give a shout out to some of my favorite bloggers. See all the nominees over at Suburban Turmoil and Petroville.

Lately there has been one blogger I can't stop thinking about, and I know she is a strong and determined woman who is having a pretty crappy time lately.

Joy Unexpected has been diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and she's been having a tough time pulling herself out of the vortex of emotion and despair that can accompany with such a verdict. She has brightened my day with her razor sharp wit and helped inspire me to lose the 80+ extra pounds I carried around. I have a ways to go before I hit my goal, but seeing her weight loss experience unfold has encouraged me to shed 52 pounds to date. I can't imagine what she is going through, and she blogs about good days and bad days. It was a good day that gets a Perfect post.

So, Y... thank you. I hope you knock em dead with your new duds in NYC. Know that you can be an inspiration to someone you've never met.

And leave the tracksuit at home.

Boy Briefs, The Disco Version

We try to carpool whenever possible, and that's usually at least 3 days during the week of getting all of us ready and out the door by 7:30.
okay, really more like 8:00.

I drop Caleb off at his office, then go the three miles to the boys' school - exactly the length of time for a morning shake-your-booty break. The boys like it and the music usually gets them in a good mood before the "ditch and dash" their mom has to do to get herself to work at a decent hour.

I had the iPod on random and a childhood favorite of mine popped up. The disco-fabulousness of The Queen - Donna Summer herself - burst forth from the speakers and, in the rearview mirror, Finn perked up.

Sittin' here, eatin' my heart out waitin'
waitin' for some lover to call
dialed about a thousand numbers lately
almost rang the phone off the wall

Eli's head was boppin and his feet were kicking. Finn started giggling, "I llloooovveee this song Mamma!"

Lookin' for some hot stuff baby this evenin'
I need some hot stuff baby tonight
I want some hot stuff baby this evenin'
gotta have some hot stuff
gotta have some lovin' tonight

We listened to it again on the way home. And again the next day as we headed to a playdate. And on the way back. And again today going to the grocery store. At dinner tonight Finn and I performed our duet, with me singing the chorus and Finn screaming "HOT STUFF!!" at the appropriate time.

Who DOESN'T love to teach their three year old songs about prostitution??


Today I did a marvelous thing. Something I haven't done in... oh, about 10 years.

Kohl's is having a kickass sale and lots of their lingerie is 50% off this weekend. I made my way over, and for the first time in a LONG time, I bought underwear that didn't come from a plus-sized store. I am very excited. There are so many more pretty things in the smaller sizes, and I was surprised to see it costs less too. (What is up with that?? I don't know a single woman who WANTS to wear ugly, frumpy, uncomfortable underwear. I think if anything, a more curvy girl would feel a little more self-conscious, and could use the validation of the same frilly pretty things the size 2's have.)

Anyway, I was so excited I called a Person Who Shall Remain Nameless to share the glorious news of the sale, because I knew this person hardly every bought new underwear for herself.

I had no idea the brevity of her "unmentionable" situation.

The Person Who Shall Remain Nameless (or PWSRM) had a beloved terrier dog that is no longer with us. One of this dog's favorite pastimes, was to snack on the... er... delicate areas of her underwear, giving a whole new meaning to "crotchless panties".

This dog has been in Doggy Heaven for at least five years, probably closer to ten. And PWSRM still has those crotchless panties, now literally vintage.


Get thee to Kohl's, Woman!


How on earth can a child wake up from his nap undetected, rummage around in a closet down the hall, and come up with a blue Sharpie marker without his parents ever knowing he woke up?

Thank goodness for this guy and his amazing magic erasers. mr clean logo

Now if they could only work on my cellulite and vericose veins...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Long Haired Hippy Boy No More

Long Haired Hippy Boy
Originally uploaded by BookMamma
Last Friday we took Eli to what is most likely the last of his baby "firsts"... a first haircut.

This affected me much more strongly than Finn's first haircut. I'm not sure if it was mourning the big curls or the fact that Eli is probably my last baby.

My last baby - there, I said it twice.

Needless to say, the sap that I am was very sad. But it had to be done. The kid has gorgeous features and everybody thought he was a girl and Grandaddy kept threatening to chop it off the next time the boys spent the night.

I tied up the baby curls and swept them into a baggie. They already seemed dull and lifeless after being shorn off Eli's head for a mere five minutes. I stuffed the bag in my purse and looked into the face of my little boy.

Click on the picture for the whole album of the haircut experience.

How to Make Your In-Laws Love You

Inspired by this Lemon Curd Berry Trifle recipe, I made an Easter dessert for my father-in-law. He loves all things lemon, but he also likes a fruit trifle I make in the summertime.

This was my blind attempt at having the best of both desserts. It is now my favorite thing in the world to make (and eat!) and I am coining it as my signature dessert for all future potlucks. It's light and summery, but the lemon is not too sweet and very tangy. SCORE!

I did manipulate the recipe to be low(er) fat and I used a few BIG shortcuts... pre-made lemon curd and store-bought angel food cake.
Why? Because I can.

Plus I suck at making lemon curd AND angel food cake.

2 jars Dickinson's Lemon Curd, chilled

1 tub Light Cool-Whip, thawed

1 Angel Food Cake from grocery bakery, torn into medium sized chunks

1 pint fresh strawberries, stemmed and halved lengthwise

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 pint fresh blackberries

1/4 cup Lemoncello or Grand Marnier liqueur (optional)

Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

To build the trifle:
Empty the chilled lemon curd into a mixing bowl and fold in thawed Cool-whip until it takes on a gorgeous light yellow mousse consistency.

Put the berries in a mixing bowl and toss them together so they are evenly distributed.

Line a glass trifle bowl with pieces of angel food cake cake to fit. Drizzle or brush the cake with the Lemoncello or grand Marnier liquer, spoon a layer of the lemon curd mix over the cake, and then a layer of mixed berries.

Repeat the layers until the ingredients are used up, with the last layer berries. Chill before serving. Garnish with fresh mint.

Dust your hands and apron with flour and dab a bit of lemon juice behind your ears. Sigh with exhaustion as you explain to your husband you just made his dad a lemon trifle from SCRATCH and could he please put the boys to bed while you enjoy this glass of wine in the bubble bath?


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

Happy Easter from Hotwheel Hacienda!

Spring has arrived to our neck of the woods and yesterday was a glorious, blue-sky, fresh-air, PERFECT kind of day.

We loaded up and headed to the Botanical Gardens Dinosaur exhibit and it was great!

I've got much more to post, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm in mad-cooking mode and have cookies to bake, a lemon-berry trifle to assemble, fruit salad to slice & dice, and a vat of mac & cheese to throw together. If anybody has a good travel-friendly recipe for asparagus they'd like to share I could sure use it. We have to drive about 45 minutes to dinner tomorrow and asparagus is usually best when its hot off the grill or the steamer...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In Which You Are Entertained By My Dad

I am so proud of my dad.

A few years ago his head would have exploded if someone were to ask him to send an email, and now he is an email whiz. Not only that, but he's a communication junkie; I get more text messages from my dad than ANYBODY. Sometimes he gets in trouble for sending, um... questionable text messages with his company phone. (Follow the link at your own risk!) Did I mention he is an Administrative Pastor at a Southern Baptist Church?

Dad & Eli building castles in the sand last Fall Break. Mom's in the background.

One thing Dad really enjoys is forwarding jokes and anecdotes he receives in his inbox to friends and family. Most have been forwarded to him by his coworkers and have been circulating email accounts across the globe.
Today, for your blogging entertainment, I would like to share with you some of his greatest hits...


Two young boys walked into a pharmacy one day, picked out a box of tampons and proceeded to the checkout counter.

The man at the counter asked the older boy, "Son, how old are you?"

"Eight," the boy replied.

The man continued, "Do you know what these are used for?"

The boy replied, "Not exactly, but they aren't for me. They're for him. He's my brother. He's four. We saw on TV that if you use these you would be able to swim and ride a bike. Right now, he can't do either one."



Skinny Pig


Subject: obama with a twist




Roll Tide Roll..

**It is important to note here that my dad's politics completely cancel out my own. He knows Obama is my secret boyfriend and loves to send me anti-Obama stuff. I remember he commented one election day, "So, who are you voting for so I can vote the opposite. Despite these chasm-like politial differences of opinion, we get along great.


Subject: The husband store....

A store that sells new husbands has opened in New York City , where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates:

You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors and the value of the products increase as the shopper ascends the flights. The shopper may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband. On the first floor the sign on the door reads:
Floor 1 - These men Have Jobs.

She is intrigued, but continues to the second floor, where the sign reads:
Floor 2 - These men Have Jobs and Love Kids.

"That's nice," she thinks, "but I want more." So she continues upward.
The third floor sign reads:
Floor 3 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, and are Extremely Good Looking.

"Wow," she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going. She goes to the fourth floor and the sign reads:
Floor 4 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking and Help With Housework.

"Oh, mercy me!" she exclaims, "I can hardly stand it!" Still, she goes to the fifth floor and the sign reads:
Floor 5 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, Help with Housework, and Have a Strong Romantic Streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor, where the sign reads:
Floor 6 - You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.

To avoid gender bias charges, the store's owner opened a New Wives Store just across the street. The first floor has wives that love sex. The second floor has wives that love sex and have money and like beer.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors have never been visited.


Love you, Dad!
and your corny emails
even though they make my spam filter burst into flames

Monday, March 17, 2008

In Which Blogger is Stupid

Sorry for all the dead links.

If there's anyone out there who can tell me why Blogger won't let me link to other Blogger posts that would make me very happy. I can't even link to myself!

Oh yeah - and my iBook won't let me run Blogger spell check. I swear I AM halfway literate...

What up?

Still Life with a SAHM - or - A Really Long Post

I've read about the issue a lot on some of my favorite blogs.

Suburban Turmoil wrote about it and a ruckus ensued.

I recently watched Miss Zoot struggle with learning how to go from Working Mom to Working-From-Home Mom, then back to Working Mom.

I've read the gorgeous posts of Motherhood Is Not for Wimps that detailed her exciting pre-Mom life as a political Congressional aide to some of the most powerful people in the country:
"Every day that I walked into the office under the light of the Capitol Dome, I felt a thrill. I loved my suits, my zippy little convertible, my weekly salon appointments. I got giddy turning on CNN to hear them report my work day. I loved answering my cell phone and knowing that what I said in the next five minutes would go out on a wire service."

A friend and co-worker of mine and I were talking about it. Someone had asked her how she managed not to go crazy managing such an active family. "I keep my sanity over on Monroe Street," was her reply, referring to our place of employment.

Recently I've struggled with the decision to stay at home or keep my job. Technically I work part-time, but the job has taken more and more of my energy and off days - as part-time jobs are prone to do - and eventually it got so bad that I was sitting on over 100 hours of comp time, could never touch my vacation, and hadn't taken a sick day in almost a year. Because of the inconsistent schedule my job needed, we had the boys in full-time daycare even though they only went three days a week. I had been making it work for a while, but with full-time expenses on a part-time salary the math was not working. At the end of the day I was almost working to send my kids to daycare. Not my idea of a trade-off.

Silly me thought it was a good time to ask for an increase in my hours. This, for a wide variety of reasons that had nothing to do with my job performance, was met with a resounding "no way, no how" from the Powers That Be. Curious reaction because they had seen a 52% increase in funds since I took the job in 2005.

To make matters worse, my innocent request had shone a blaring spotlight on my responsibilites, leaving an open door for the board to make suggestions on my time management ("Why all the comp time?"), my leadership style ("Can't you get a volunteer to do that?"), my communication skills ("How much time to you actually spend on data entry?"), and my fashion sense (apparently a fitted denim blazer, dress slacks, and fabulous heels just don't cut it on my OFF DAY, but Clinton and Stacy would be proud).

Stacy & Clinton

To sum it up, for the first time in my professional life I didn't know what to do. I've always known what I wanted and always went after it aggresively. This approach had paid off for me until now.

I was convinced it was time to hang up my Development Hat and channel all that energy and time into my home life. I could get the boys into a Mom's Morning Out program twice a week, and the rest of our time would go SUPER fast after I had signed up for the volunteer activities I had always wanted to do, gone to storytime at the library, played on the playground, gone to the gym, frolicked in the park, fed and napped the boys, cooked dinner, cleaned the house, tended the garden, and blogged my little heart out.

I would be fulfilled, right? That would be fine. Yeah, it would aaaalllllllll work out. Just. Fine. Total satisfaction. Right?? RIGHT?

It took me about two weeks of thinking about it to determine how I would react after the newness of the situation wore off.

In the end, I couldn't go through with it.

I have so much of my adult identity wrapped up in my career. I thought about how it would be the first time in over 16 years I wouldn't have a paying job, or a boss, or professional responsibilities. I thought about what a thankless job being a SAHM is and how, even with the most supportive spouse in the universe (which I am fortunate enough to have) I would still project that boss/emplyoyee relationship onto him because it is so engrained in me. And that just won't do.

I thought about how much I love to wear heels.

I thought about all the hard work I had put into the job and the truly amazing people involved and who needed me now.

Mostly, I thought of my boys, and how I really wanted them to see both their mom and their dad sharing all kinds of responsibilities and both of them bringing home bacon. I thought of how much they would both miss their school and their friends, and worried about if I could teach them all the basics of childhood unassisted. There were ABC's to learn, and songs to sing, and interpersonal playground politics to experience.

Selfishly, I wanted to keep my toes dipped into the adult pool. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. And if I played my cards right I could keep that luxury that tons of parents would kill for.

So, either out of fear or bravery - I haven't decided yet - I took back my declaration to stay at home for now. Since I had nothing to lose, I was able to grow a pair and reprioritize my responsibilities to better manage my time in the office. Our daycare director, who is an Angel From Jersey, is making it all possible by cutting our tuition (again) in order to keep our boys at their school. God bless Ms. Margie.

And now you know what a big coward I am.

I think being a parent who stays at home for their family is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Their accomplishments are often overlooked, and therefore most times immeasurable. They are their own task masters, whether it is to their benefit or detriment. They rarely have a co-worker they can bitch to when they are having a crappy day. They are paid in kisses, promoted with bear hugs.

Why isn't that enough for me?

Saturday, March 15, 2008


We took the boys to see the Harlem Globetrotters this week. Caleb loved it when he was little and wanted to see what Finn would think. Click the photo for more GT pictures...

The verdict:
Finn was equally excited about getting popcorn and Eli preferred to flirt with the redhead behind us, but a good time was had by all. Finn got a basketball and liked it so much he slept with it that night. Caleb and I agreed that we seemed to remember the Globetrotters being better shooters. These guys were great and funny, but all they did was dunk alot and make jokes with the crowd. What happened to the guys who could shoot from half court and do all those crazy trick shots?

We signed Finn up for t-ball this spring... that should be interesting. I'm curious - what have been your experiences with young kids and sports? Is three too young? I know most of the time will be spent looking at bugs in the outfield and running the bases the wrong way... He seems to be excited about it but I don't really think he knows what we're talking about when we tell him he's going to play t-ball with a team. Any advice?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Boy Briefs, Weekend Edition

It was the start of the weekend, and the whole family has headed to a favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner. We're poring over the kid's menu trying to find the perfect meal, aka: one Finn will eat. There are little pictures of each dish and I'm going over them all with Finn, hoping desperately a battle can be avoided.

Me: "Okay, look. Yum! Pick a picture Finn! There's a taco, a hot dog, some chicken fingers, a burrito, and a quesadilla."

Finn: "Hmmm. Okay Mommy. I want a hamburgah. With cheeeeese."

Me: "Well, you see... that's not a choice. There's not a picture of a hamburger here. What picture HERE do you want to eat?"

Finn: studying the menu
"Ummmmmm..... uummmmm. This one. A hamburgah. With cheese."

Me: "That'a not a hamburger. That's a quesadilla. It's YUMMY and cheesy and good! Let's get that for you."

Finn: "No! Nooooooo! Ineedahamburgahwithcheeeeeeese! RIGHT. Dere! DAT picture! Not a quesodilliac! A HAMBURGAH!

Me: desperate to enjoy a nice dinner and bracing myself for a fight
"That's a hot dog. You love hot dogs! With ketchup! And french fries!! Please. Finn. For all things good and holy... please pick a yummy picture to eat. Please...

Finn: "French fries? Otay!!! Yummy yum yum. An a hot dog!! Dat picture, right dere. I love hot dogs. Mmmmm. Otay Mommy."

And just like that, the conflict passed.

Three? Is weird.


Finn: staring intently into a hand-held mirror for several minutes
"Hhhmmmm... I DO have eyebwows!!!


We're looking at old family photos and Finn spies one of me when I was five.

Finn: "Who dat girl Mommy?"

Me: "That's me when I was a little girl. I was little like you. And then I got big."

Finn: "Dat not YOU! You a MOMMY. Dat just a little girl."

Me: "A loooonnnnggg time ago I was a little girl just like you are a little boy. And then I grew up to be your Mommy."


Finn: "I don't want you to grow up to be a little girl. I want you to be my Mommy."
Pause for more thinking
"And then I can grow up to be Supaman and we can beat bad guys!"


It's Sunday morning and Caleb and I are asleep. Finn, in his usual way, is up and roaming the house, looking for interesting things to get into. We eavesdrop on the following conversation:

Door to Eli's room creaks open.
Finn: "Wake up Eli!! Wakeupwakeupwakeup!"

Eli: "Ehhhh??"

Finn: "Time to get up Eli!" door slams and muffled playing sounds begin

Parents: "ZZZzzzzzzzzz..."

a few minutes pass, or maybe several

Finn: whispering five inches away from my face
"Mom... mom. I wake up. An dere's a mess. A mess in Eli's woom."

Me: "ZZzzzzzzz..."

Finn: " MOM. Eli wanna get out. Eli hungry."


A tremendous BOOM! from Eli's room. Then shuffle sounds and Eli enters our bedroom.

Me: "WHAT??? You can get OUT now??"

Caleb: "Zzzzzzzzzz...."

This is how an era ends. We are now in search of bunk beds.
Like THAT'S smart.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Sibling Story

Once upon a time there was a little girl with long tangly dark hair who liked to read and had a tendency to be bossy. She bossed her little sister so much that the poor girl rarely spoke because her sister did all the talking for her.

First day of Second Grade & Kindergarten. Those are shadows on the hair, not beehives. Dig those Sesame Street & Holly Hobbie lunchboxes!

They were very close in age, but clearly the big sister called the shots - if they played Dukes of Hazard with the neighbor boys, Big Sister was ALWAYS Daisy and Little Sister was ALWAYS Boss Hog. When they presented outdoor dance recitals to Michael Jackson's Thriller album, Big Sister planned out all the dance moves and gave herself a really long solo. Little Sister was only allowed to do backup, even though she was clearly the better dancer. When they played School, Big Sister was always the teacher, non-negotiable, and she gave her only student lots of classwork. Little Sister never complained.

Dance recital circa 1986... a little tap duet called "Papa's Piano".

As they got older, Big Sister wasn't pleased when Little Sister wanted to hang out with her friends, and thought she should just get her own. But Little Sister preferred the company of Big Sister and her older friends, especially the boys. Years go by and Big Sister sows some pretty wild oats with Little Sister watching every move, and soon she begins to throw around some oats of her own.

Big Sister goes to college. Little Sister goes to another college. Both girls are struggling to be independent, but neither are making great choices about school, or boys, or jobs.

More years pass. Little Sister finds herself in an intense relationship that is all-consuming. She has a baby. Then she gets married. She is the official "wild card" of the family, doing things in the wrong order for a Southern girl with a Southern Baptist family. She struggles.

But Little Sister works hard, and accepts help, and raises a gorgeous daughter in spite of husband with addiction problems. Big Sister helps when she can and worries alot from the sidelines. Eventually Little Sister gets even braver, and discards the husband that brings nothing but trouble. She soldiers on for a few years alone, and then meets a wonderful man who brings happiness to her and her daughter.

And now Little Sister will be a mom for the second time, and this Bossy Big Sister couldn't be happier.

Congratulations Amanda!

Halloween 1983. Guess who had to be Raggedy Anne?"

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My First Perfect Post Awards!

I read lots of blogs on a regular basis before I ever decided to take the plunge myself. Hands down, one of my most favorite bloggers in the whole wide world is Oh, the Joys. I could gush about how hilarious she is, how incredibly poignant she can be, and how I find myself coveting these little nuggets of wisdom she sprinkles throughout her blog... but that could be weird and slightly stalker-ish, right? I'm totally revealing my crush here by nominating her for February's Perfect Post Award, but its a risk I have to take.

After I read this post, it was on my mind for quite a while. Family is hard... sometimes overwhelmingly hard to deal with, and I haven't done a great job in some instances. This post shed a harsh light on my own shortfalls, and made me determined to do a better job in the future. Miscommunications get blown so out of proportion and I've never had an easy time with confronting things that make me uncomfortable, as exemplified here.

So, cheers to a post that has challenged me to communicate better with family. I have a long way to go, but it's a start.

The Original Perfect Post Awards 02.08
Thanks to Suburban Turmoil and Momma K for hosting Perfect Posts. To see them all, click the button.

PhotoBlog Sunday

Witness an insanely busy weekend trying to cram in fresh air and down time with the beasties:

Saturday Morning Cartoon Ritual

Played Outside

Watched a Sunset

Created a Band

Went to a Birthday Party

Rode a Pony

Drove a Jeep

Made a Friend

Went to the Park

Hung out with cool Aunt LB...

... and Tyler

Played in a Drum Circle


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Back In the Saddle Again

Wow. I'm finally feeling like a human being again, after literally being in bed for 96 hours. Earlier this week, in a fit of achy fever, Caleb turned to me and rasped "I'd always heard about this happening, but never thought it would happen to us..." referring to the complete dehabilitating pandemic the Hotwheel Hacienda has been under. We had never been in the situation of being physically incapable of caring for the boys before. All I can say is, thank God for grandparents.

I think one of the biggest things I've learned from being a parent is the importance of asking for help. You simply can't do everything for yourself ALL the time - life was never meant to be lived that way. I'm beginning to understand that doing things for other people and having other people do things for you is the way relationships are built. It can even be counterproductive to deny people of that warm and fuzzy feeling they get when they give - be it time, money, help, etc. Think about how it makes you feel to drop off a meal to a family with a new baby, or volunteer in the soup kitchen, or pet-sit for neighbors while they're on vacation. One-sided relationships never worked when I was a co-dependent girlfriend, and things certainly haven't changed now that I'm a mom.

My own pride prevents me asking for help nine times out of ten. Worry that someone might think me incapable of doing something myself, or consider me weak, or (gasp!) lazy. And I think deep down, I don't like to feel indebted to anyone, which is completely stupid because we all owe a piece of who we are to someone else - either our parents, or that boss who recommended a promotion, or the editor who took a chance. It's not debt, its karma, its the backside of grace, and pride will rob me of it every time if I'm not careful.

And thanks to Grandmother, Grandaddy, and Nana for saving us from Certain Death By Wild Boys. I'm glad we asked for help.
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