Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mexican Bathrooms Aren't the Greatest

Last night we were feeling adventurous. If I knew the adventure we would have, I'm sure I would've taken precautions.

It was a bit later than usual when Caleb and I picked up the boys and started heading home. Rain was coming down in buckets as I drove, but the boys seemed to be in a good mood and traffic wasn't too awful. On a wild hair, I suggested we try out the new Mexican place that we drive by a million times a day and is always packed out. All four of us huddled under umbrellas and swam our way into the bright, spicy smells of the restaurant. I had my heart set on a margarita - nothing could deter me from that tunnel vision.

All was well - the food was quick and SO good, margarita perfect, boys behaving - UNTIL Finn announced he had to go to the bathroom. With his recently acquired skill, Finn insists on checking out the loo at every place we go. I really don't mind, whatever it takes to get him to continue to be a Pants Man!)

Like all good Mexican restaurants, this one was cool and kitchy, with all kinds of knick-knacks and an Aztec themed decor. The bathroom was no exception. Each stall had a different style door that ran eight feet high, with no usual open space at the bottom, and an assortment of latches and locks on each one. You see where I'm going yet?

Finn, the good Pants Man he is, popped into a stall and locked the door, leaving me on the other side while he did his business. But when he was ready to come out, he couldn't work the latch back to the unlocked position.

This. freaked. him. OUT!

Wailing and screeching, thrashing and clawing, he tried to crawl underneath but there was only a two inch crack. I was trying not to panic, but I honestly couldn't figure out how we were going to get out of this without Finn traumatized or that door coming off its hinges. Visions of potty regression swam through my head - of Finn, never getting over his hostage ordeal and shunning all bathrooms forever out of sheer terror. I guess I should have been more worried about him being stuck, but honestly, there was nothing in there that could hurt him (unless he plunged his own head in the toilet) and this was my biggest concern. Oh, and then there was him being scared to death.

A woman heard the commotion and offered to get her 10 year old son to climb over the top and unlock the door from the inside. It seemed to take three hours for them to return, all the while Finn crying pitifully from the inside and saying "My mamma, I need my mamma!" over and over. I couldn't calm him down from the other side of the door; if anything the sound of my voice was making him more frantic since he could hear me but couldn't see me.

The older boy burst into the bathroom, took one look at how high the door was, and started to panic himself. The mom left to get the dad, another three hours passed, and the dad burst into the bathroom to join the fray. With a big boost from dad, the boy launched himself over the door. Finn immediately stopped crying and I heard him say "Hi!". The lock was thrown, the door opened, and Finn was liberated from his prison potty at last! He didn't seem scarred for life and I turned to the Rescue Family and gratefully & profusely thanked them.

Unfortunately, Rescue Mom thought it was the perfect opportunity to ask me if Jesus Christ was my personal Lord and Saviour and detail her evangelical ministry to me in the form of the sermon, "Thank God We Were Here to Save Your Son, Just Like God Sent Jesus to Save Mankind". It was a real winner. But my dinner was getting colder by the moment, and I had a margarita waiting. We washed hands and I excused myself as politely as I could, promising I would give it some thought and get back to her.

So far there's been no lasting potty trauma. More importantly, I got to finish my margarita. I know Jesus is glad my priorities are in line.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Creation Story

And lo, there came to pass a time of great peace and contentment within the Hacienda of Hotwheels. The oldest Son begat many recurring gifts to the sacred potty and his Mother wept sweet tears of joy! Rejoice! For unto you this day a poo was born and he laid it into the toilet. And nary an accident was had... so far for three days and four nights.

Now if only I could get him to wipe his holy butt...

funny stewie

Friday, January 25, 2008

Kick-A** Chicken Pot PIe

I made this tonight for the Hotwheel Hacienda beasties. They ate it!!! And it was healthy!!! (for the most part.) And it was MUCH more low-fat and delish than this:
chicken pot pie

Since I'm all about sharing the love I thought I would post the recipe here to you. By the way, it's 30 degrees outside here but it feels like 10 with the wind chill. This is the kind of food I crave on days such as these...

(credit to Recipezaar, with my own adjustments)
4 servings - 55 min 30 min prep
1 cup onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery, chopped fine
1 cup reduced-fat chicken broth
1 1/2 cups diced potatoes, peeled (I used some red potatoes with skins on too)
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup fresh green beans, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 (10 ounce) can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup (or cream of mushroom)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts (I also added a garlic-chicken sausage I had leftover and minced it fine)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
optional: sliced mushrooms, fresh peas

Biscuit Crust
1 cup whole wheat flour (I also threw in an optional 1/4 cup wheat germ)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/3 cup skim milk

In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute onions, celery and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes (use oil or cooking spray).
Add broth, potatoes, carrots and beans. (if you're adding peas and mushromms wait or they'll be mush)
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low.
Simmer for 10 minutes, partially covered.
Potatoes should be a bit undercooked.
Remove from heat.
Combine condensed soup and flour in a small bowl.
Add to vegetables, along with chicken, parsley, basil, thyme and pepper.
Stir well.
Pour into a casserole dish (I use a 9 x 9 pyrex baking dish).
Prepare biscuit crust.
Combine flour, baking powder, sage and salt.
Cut in butter or margarine with a pastry blender until it looks like coarse crumbs.
Stir in milk.
Form the dough into a ball, adding a bit more flour if too sticky. (here's where I added wheat germ)
On a floured surface, roll out dough to the size where it will fit the top of your casserole dish.
Place dough on top of chicken mixture.
Prick dough with a fork several times.
Bake at 400 F for 25 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
Let stand for 5 minutes.
Bask in the glow of admiration from your beasties.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

From Curly Top to Cue Ball

This weekend provided a great spot of happiness after the toil of last week's events. Some of our best friends celebrated their youngest son's Mundan ceremony and Caleb and I got to participate a bit.

but first, a little backstory...

Amy and I had the luck to be pregnant together at exactly the same time... twice. Both our sons are about 19 months apart. Having someone else experiencing what I was experiencing was invaluable to me. All the anxiety about having a second while the first was still a baby, balancing work and child care and marriage, making time for oursleves - it was SUCH a relief to share the load with a person who knew what it was like.

Sandy is from a traditional Hindu family, and Amy hails from the hallelujah-Baptist-country, like me. Neither are actively practicing their native religions/denominations, but tradition is still important to both. So when it came time for Connery to make the transition from baby to little boy, Amy & Sandy had already been through Kieran's Mundan... but in India, on the banks of the same river Sandy's father had his ceremony.
Kieran's Mundan in India:

flash forward to this past weekend
The Hindu temple was out in the middle of nowhere. Their crowd of friends was large and Sandy's mom had flown in a few days before to help prepare. She brought with her Indian saris and bangles and gorgeous jewelry; the day before they shopped for the ceremony and altar supplies. Finn and Eli even got to wear kurta pajamas! Caleb was able to help with the actual hair cutting part of the ceremony, and I got to wear a sari and mendhi.

Connery was such a happy, laughing boy throughout the entire ceremony - he never even cried. Those Shirley Temple curls are gone, but the laughing baby still remains - and it will take more than a reluctant pair of clippers to make him grow up.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Remembering Those Who Lift Us Up

Since I'm still feeling a bit fragmented, I'm recycling a post from last year via another location. I think it important to note that the mayor here has ordained Monday Helen P. Lee Day as well as MLK Jr. Day. Something tells me Helen would howl with laughter at the thought of that...humble was her nickname.

Posted January, 2007

Whenever I hear anything about Martin Luther King I'm almost always moved to tears. It's a pathetic understatement to mention how influencial he was/is, how full of purpose and resolve, how he literally made the world a better place.

In my line of work I hear the phrase "Things will never change" and "hopeless" a great deal and it's very easy to believe it (especially regarding funding for a non-profit cornerstone of democracy). But I can't help but think how much damage a person can do by saying those words. They get tossed around so casually, and I wonder exactly how many times MLK must have heard them. Did he ever waver? Was he ever deterred? He orchestrated monumental events in Selma, in Birmingham, in Atlanta... but were there any that never happened because a seed of doubt was planted by the friendly neighborhood hate group, or worse - a well-meaning friend?

In Dr. King I have learned that it is feasible for one person, in the span of a very few decades, to change the entire world. Do you have any idea how much hope a thought like that can give? It lifts me up. It makes me. Dig. In. I'm not trying to dream a dream for a whole nation or instill in the world a sense of social justice and equality. But I AM trying to raise my boys. And be a good spouse and a good friend. And work hard at a job I sincerely believe in.

A little hope can come in handy...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A First

Yesterday was the first time I have ever lost a good friend. It has been a strange day today, and I fluctuate from selfish anger to melancholy to nostalgic sadness at the drop of a hat. I am not witty. I am not fast. Not today. My work, no matter how many times I start to get something done, remains unfinished.

Helen didn't tell many people how fast the cancer progressed, so I didn't know that time was so short. I missed telling her goodbye. I can genuinely say she was one of my favorite people in the whole world and I will miss her terribly.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Schnitzel with Noodles

Link alert! Here are some things I've been crushing on lately...

Busted Tees
Great shirts for kids that don't cost a bajillion dollars! How can you NOT love this? (thanks Amy!!)
This one is positively screaming Eli's name.

The mop that has changed my life.
If you know me, you know how I'm a floor whore. I abhore mopping but can't stand for my floors to be filthy. I had a conniption when Caleb got me a Dyson for my birthday a few years back. Now I have a boyfriend for my Dyson-girl. It's a perfect marriage!

Wonderful Friends and Short-Lived Baby Curls

Living in the age of Netflix and LibraryThing.

My book club - new members always welcome!
Follow the link to find a list of books we've read since 1999.

Old Crow Medicine Show on Austin City Limits
A little punkgrass is good for my soul... they're playing Grand Ole Opry tonight and I would kill to be there.
Old Crow Medicine Show

Stearn's Coffee
A local coffeeshop that I frequented since high school closed and I was bummed. But! Then Stearn's came along and I heart it! They only carry free trade coffee and the Dirty Chai Latte is killer. Add wi-fi, cool decor, and the sweetest baristas you've ever met to the mix and you have instant java magic.

HPD finally making some progress with the INCIDENT (aka Librarian Kidnapped at Gunpoint scenario... What? You didn't hear about it? Neither did anyone else.)
UPDATE: OK I can't get this link to work due to some freakout over at WHNT. So... google "WHNT public library gunpoint" and you'll get the story. No one else has covered this or I would send you somewhere else. Crazy huh?

Friday, January 11, 2008


I missed Delurking Day yesterday?? How could I?
Can you show a sista some love anyways? Leave a comment today if you read, even if it's the only comment you ever post here forever. There's still lots of family I haven't heard from that I KNOW are reading the blog. Just click that little comment button over there... no, not that one... the little blue one at the end of each post that probably says "0 COMMENTS" and say hi.
Just once is all I ask.

Breaking News - Juveniles Vandalize Home

(ALABAMA) Two juveniles fled the crime scene of a home they brutally vandalized this morning at approximately 7:30 AM central standard time. The perpetrators are presently at large and are armed with several non-washable markers and potentially very dangerous.

"I couldn't believe it," their mother told The HH Times, "I don't even remember letting those markers in the house." The suspects are both white males and have distinguishing red and brown markings on their face, palms, and bottoms of their feet.

One weapon has been recovered, a brown Crayola non-washable marker, but the whereabouts of the other weapon remains a mystery. "A complete sweep of the property will be conducted after naptime in hopes of recovering the writing utensil. We hope a tragedy of this magnitude never happens again," stated the police sargeant.

Any sighting of the suspects should be reported to 77-CRIME.

One suspect is 41 inches tall and approximately 30 lbs. He was last seen wearing a Spiderman suit and has cronic chocolate-milk breath.

The second suspect is 32 inches tall and approximately 31 lbs. He speaks with a slight lisp, carries a fully loaded pacifier and has a previous juvenile delinquent record.

Police suspect this is the same offender who demolishes the kitchen cabinet on a daily basis. "We've been after these punks for a long time."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I grew up in rural Alabama, as picturesque a childhood as you can imagine. My sisters and I played outside 24/7, went dove hunting with my dad in the Fall, swam in the Tennessee River in the summer, and completely freaked out if it ever snowed in our neck of the woods. "Going to town" was an ordeal, as it was at least 30 minutes away by a two lane road. Our grandparents lived close by at the foot of a mountain, and we spent lots of time at their house playing in their huge vegetable garden and watching copious amounts of cartoons simply because they'd let us.

At the tender age of 12, I first learned to drive my dad's four-wheeler (ATV to all you Yankees). Roads were no issue - we tore up the creek banks behind our house and ripped through the cotton fields to get to the tiny little airport about a 1/2 mile away. Sitting on the backs of the four-wheelers, trying not to burn our calves on the red-hot engines of the things, we watched the planes come in from crop dusting. Some of them flew so low on landing we had to cover our ears and could see the pilots like they were standing a few yards away. We loved riding those four-wheelers, and as I grew up and got an actual driver's license I had a hard time understanding ALL vehicles weren't all-terrain vehicles...

This past weekend, Finn got a taste of my childhood. Dad still has a cabin up on the top of the mountain and he and Caleb took Finn, Abby, and Anna (cousins) up to it on the four-wheelers. With no helmets. In about 45 degree weather with a pretty nasty wind. Oh, and no seatbelts...and did I mention NO HELMETS?? It's probably about a 30 minute ride up to the top and a 30 minute ride back down to the base. Caleb wanted to do a dry run to see if Finn would like it and, if so, plan some camping excursions this Spring.

They got to the top and built a fire. Naturally. Because that's what you do when you go to the top of a mountan.

And I wasn't there to see it. This is the kind of thing he should do with his Dad, I thought. And to have all his grandchildren up there for the very first time, all together, I think this was important to his Papa too.

I can't say I wasn't nervous back at Hotwheel Hacienda, thinking of the worst that could happen - but surprisingly I was mostly envious I wasn't the one experiencing it with Finn, watching his face as we careened down the rocky mountain face and splashed through giant mud holes. Caleb offered for me to go, but I know there will be other times... and there's always Eli. Thank God for brothers and second chances!

Eli enjoys strawberry yogurt as his mom frantically paces the foor and wonders if she will have to scrape her husband and oldest son off the side of a mountain...
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