Thursday, December 30, 2010

After this one, I’m going to start counting down

cake My birthday is tomorrow.  I am turning THIRTY FIVE.  I spelled it out because just looking at those numbers together scares me a little.  That is a hard number to swallow.  I think that somewhere, long ago, I thought I would be Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl” by thirty five.  Minus the scary makeup.  And the shoulder pads.  But honestly, I couldn’t tell you what gets merged and what gets acquired if you put a gun to my head.  I can type like a mother though. 

And since it’s my birthday AND New Year’s Eve, I just had to break out the year end introspection and make some resolutions.  And here they are *in no particular order*:

1)  I’m fat.  Not really news to anyone, me included.  I had planned on making some drastic change like going raw or slow food.  But honestly, we are too poor to afford it.  And I am too intolerant of the BS that comes with most people involved in farmer’s markets.  Seriously.  I am sure that your heirloom, organic tomatoes kick some BLT booty but I am not paying $5 for 4 of them.  Oh you don’t eat bacon because of the salt and nitrates?  Well, now I really wouldn’t buy your tomatoes, because you are communist.  So I guess I will just have to do this weight reduction the old fashioned way, deprivation and self humiliation.  I might even try to squeeze in some lessons about portion control and loving myself.  We’ll see.

2)  I could be a better mom.  This one has really peeved me.  I mean, I thought I was doing everything I could, only to find out there is room for improvement.  Geez, what do these kids want?  I mean I did grow them from scratch.  I’m not Annie Sullivan here.  I suppose I could cut down on the yelling and amp up the snuggling a bit more.  They deserve it.  I hope they know it.  Hang on, I’m going to go tell them right now.  Plus I need a tissue.  Thinking of how sweet they are and what a tyrant I am, has started the water works…stupid self awareness.

Ok, I’m back…

3) Ignoring things really does make them go away.  Sometimes.  I have my husband to thank for this little nugget.  While he tries to apply this philosophy to things like the trash or ME asking for his help rearranging the bedroom, I have learned to apply it to things like grudges, petty differences and sometimes even people that annoy me.  It doesn’t work on big things or bills but surely by 2012, I will have figured those out too.  I can honestly say I have had a lot less fights with my husband because of it.  And I am looking forward to more things to ignore in 2011. 

4) Enough is as good as a feast.  Josh and I have lived on a financial rollercoaster for years now.  Some of it by choice but lots of it by circumstance.  And that has caused a lot of conflict for me.  I really let what I didn’t have bog me down in the past.  This year things have leveled out almost completely.  And the peace of having “enough” has made me grateful.

5) Is it wrong that I cannot think of a #5?  I feel certain I should have a long list of do’s and don’ts for 2011.  But since 2010 was more or less a stellar year for me, I sorta think I am coming out ahead of the game.  I mean, I did not wreck a car, have surgery, or lose anything of value.  Honestly, aside from moving, I haven’t had any kind of big event this year.  And that is a good thing. 

So tomorrow night when you ring in the new year, think of me.  Wish me an uneventful year of filled with a shrinking waistline, more bedtime stories, ignoring what doesn’t matter, and enough. 

Have a safe and happy new year.  I’m going to the store to buy cupcakes and champagne.  That healthier me doesn’t start until Saturday y’all (but I will start on the rest of it right now).

Sunday, December 26, 2010

PS She finally stopped crying

This very moment I am listening to my daughter cry herself to sleep.  It is late.  It is the night after Christmas morning.  It is the end of a week filled with chaos, too much sugar, letdowns and surprises.  So needless to say we are all a little weary.  And if she doesn't stop soon, I am going to cry myself to sleep.

Thursday night, I made the kids a big bed in front of the TV and they fell asleep watching a Christmas movie about a dog and Santa.  It was all very cute and the house was a warm, fuzzy picture of togetherness.  Upon waking the next morning, I expected the same cozy feeling.  But instead, I was greeted by a chilly bite to the air. Josh was awake on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, wearing a toboggan.  (side note here: a toboggan in Alabama is a knitted cap, not a sled)  Anyway, I noticed that the heaters were off.  Then my stomach dropped to my knees.  I suddenly realized we were out of propane.

(Have any of y'all ever had to heat your home with propane?  It is a pain right in the ole derriere.  It's expensive and a little scary--rectangles of fire mounted to your wall, just waiting for a kid to get burned.  But when you live in a rented house, you deal with what you have.)

I had asked my husband several times to check the gauge outside.  Alas, those requests had fallen on selectively deaf ears.  And while I claim to know some things about some things, understanding the crusty meter on our creepy propane tank way off in the yard, is not one of the things I have mastered.  Whatever.  The deed was done.

For the next 2 hours, we tried to reach someone on the "emergency" line at our propane provider.  It was to no avail.  I guess SOME people think Christmas Eve is a holiday or something.  Psssh.  The nerve.  So we came up with plan B.  Which was to see which of my family members felt like putting us up for the weekend.  Oh and did I mention that it was supposed to snow in Alabama?  A white Christmas, woohoo

My dad let us stay with him.  And while it put a kink in our Christmas morning Santa plans for the kids, it has been a really a fun weekend.  But it's all been a little too much for this girl to handle.  I am going to say the thing I never thought I'd say and that is, I am glad Christmas is over.  I cannot wait to get home and pack up all the decorations and put this whole week behind me.

After all the drama of this week, I've realized I have more important things to worry about turning 35 in six days.  The terrifying downhill run to 40 is almost here.  Yippee!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's not a party until someone gets hurt.

This past Tuesday marks an event in my life I will never forget.  

Our family was gathered together at my mother's house.  We had all eaten and the presents had been passed out to everyone.  I was sitting at the dining room table with my brother, chatting.  Actually he may have been eating.  I cannot remember.  Some of the details before the life changing event are a little fuzzy now.  One of the younger cousins needed help loading his Nerf gun.  It was one of these wheel gun meets shotgun numbers.  Maybe you've seen it? 
Alden already owns one of these things, so I asked him to help the cousin in the loading.  Alden was glad to help (my dutiful, wonderful son) and then tragedy struck.

I heard the THWACK and hum of the gun being shot.  And I screamed (it was a mini horror movie type scream) as the bullet hit my brother RIGHT IN THE EYE!!!!  If it hurt as badly as it sounded, then I am going straight to hell.  Because my first reaction was to laugh hysterically.  That is my reaction no matter who is hurt or how knee jerk reaction (plus it's usually pretty funny).  Anyway, for those of you that don't know my brother I'll break it down like this:

Richard BEFORE

Richard AFTER

Except in that AFTER picture, he was holding his eye and wondering if he still had sight in it.  Alden was immensely sorry and asked if my brother was OK.  That is a cardinal sin in my family...wait until the carnage can be surveyed before asking stupid questions like "Are you OK?" or "Can I do anything?"  

Thankfully, he was OK.  He accepted Alden's apology and did not disown me for my involuntary laughter.  And little did I know that this incident was just the beginning of my Christmas week.  

PS  I hope all of y'all are having a Merry Christmas!  If I drank eggnog, I'd drink a toast to you!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Passengers, beware!

Did you know that having the luck of the Irish is a bad thing?  I only found out myself a few months ago.  What do I know?  I’m not Irish.  Though I am considering coining my own “luck of the German” phrase because I have notoriously bad luck.  My mother had uttered the words, “Only you.” more times than I can count.

My bad luck spans all categories of life but especially cars.  ESPECIALLY.  I don’t know if God is trying to persuade me to become Amish or what.  I have had someone in a stolen car plow into me, someone actually run me down in a parking lot, a deer hit me (that happened TWICE) and then last year I flipped a car.  I have walked away from all of these incidents with only bumps, bruises and minor cuts.  But my cars…they have suffered dearly.

So needless to say, I drive a used car.  It is a good car. It was cheap and drives well.  And until about 3 weeks ago, it had never given me a problem.  But if you have the luck of the German, like I do…when it rains it pours. 

First, the van overheated.  It was freezing cold and my mother in law was with me.  My dad helped me decide it was the thermostat and not the radiator.  Whew!  Then the power steering went out.  Have you ever tried driving a car with no power steering?  I think I pulled my trapezius.  My husband dutifully went out to put on the thermostat and see about the power steering only to find the serpentine belt was missing.  Do you know what the serpentine belt is?  I did.  And it’s a freakin miracle that my car did not die before making it home.  Ok, so anyway.  Everything gets replaced and I am certain that my car troubles are over for a while.  Right?!?

Wrong!  On this antique van that I drive, there are second row windows that pop open.  The one on the driver’s side had a broken latch.  No biggie.  Or at least I thought so.  On Monday, I pulled over on the side of the road to check our mail.  I have done this a million times.  This time an 18 wheeler went by and RIPPED THE WINDOW OFF MY VAN!  I heard a big whoosh and looked up to see the window fly past my window.  For half a second I thought about catching it…as if I could have…why does your brain think crazy thoughts in a crisis?  Of course, the thing shattered into a million pieces when it hit the ground.

Now I have a black garbage bag for a window.  It’s very festive.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Seize the…chocolate

So the other day I posted on Facebook about my white chocolate seizing.  I looked online to see what to do and discovered that white chocolate is very fussy about temperature (another reason I really don’t like white chocolate).  I already knew that a little vegetable oil or shortening melted with it could possibly save it and I tried that.  Well it did not melt back to a silky smooth pourable consistency but it did become spreadable and I was able to save my Oreo bark.  It was pretty and tasty.  Having triumphed, I moved on to other chocolate melting projects.

I had approximately 6 bags of various chips on hand.  Why?  That seems like an awful lot of chips even for a sugar hound like me.  Blame Publix.  They had buy one, get one free Tollhouse chips so I bought ALOT.

Up first was some peppermint patty type candy.  This seemed simple enough.  It only had 4 ingredients…cream cheese, powdered sugar, peppermint extract and dark chocolate for dipping.  Well, lemme tell you something…any kind of cream cheese concoction will begin to melt the minute the temperature goes down 1 degree.  I rolled the cream cheese “dough” into balls and started dipping them.  They started disintegrating the minute they hit the warm chocolate.  So there I am in my kitchen, flinging chocolate everywhere, trying to get these little balls of goo onto the sheet tray before they slide off the skewer.  I even resorted to taking the balls out of the freezer, dipping them in the chocolate and immediately putting them back in the freezer.  It was a sight and I was cussing up a blue streak.  Needless to say, I still have leftover dough and only made about 24 candies.  They were absolutely delicious but there is no way in Hades I am ever doing that again.  I guess on the upside, the chocolate did not seize at any point….

cakematesugarsYesterday, I made some chocolate dipped pretzel rods.  I melted milk chocolate for this one.  I found some peppermint flavored sprinkles that I used on half.  They looked so festive!  I even drizzled some white chocolate over others and didn’t seize the chocolate one time.  I was on a roll and decided to move onto some butterscotch dipped pretzels and sprinkled with nut topping.  And blam-O!  The butterscotch died.  It never even really melted.  It went from chip state to an unstirrable mess.  I think Tollhouse may just be conspiring against me.  I decided to make due and turn the butterscotch concrete into bark. 

112120045_200x200 I spread it out, sprinkled on the nuts and added crunched up pretzels.  Considering how irritated I was and how much I hate pretzels, this was the highlight of the project.  I took sheer delight in crushing those pretzels.  By the way, this nut topping is a little salty which was a good contrast to the richness of the butterscotch.  And it’s a lot cheaper than buying nuts and chopping them yourself.  I put the pan in the freezer and waited about 15 minutes.  It had hardened wonderfully and I broke off a little piece to taste.   It was at that point that I realized I AM A GENIUS!  This was some of the best candy I had ever tasted (not to mention made).  Plus the butterscotch was a welcome change from all the chocolate I had been making.

I wish I would have taken pictures of all my goodies.  I wrapped them up in little cellophane bags and packed them into all the cute containers I had been saving.  But I could not take pictures because I found my memory card for my camera outside in the mud…which is such another story.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Sound of Music

*All the links in this post go to a song/video that I love.  So turn the speakers down if you are at work ;)

Music is the fabric of my life.  Not cotton.  Cotton is for punks. (whatever, everything I own is cotton).  But music is what thrills my soul.  I think only my husband is truly aware of how dearly I love music.  He knows that I cry at songs, get down and boogie (yes I do) and belt out the lyrics to the songs that truly inspire me. 

And I love LOVE LOOOOVEEEEE all kinds of music.  Funk…check.  Man, a good bass line is the thing.  Pop…check.  And I don’t mean Justin Bieber.  God have mercy on that poor child.  Bluegrass…check.  There is a song that I am mad about and I cannot find it on the interwebs anywhere.  (Detour Bluegrass is the band and Sixteen Tons is the song just in case you want to help me with my search.)  Hip hop, musicals, folk, hymns and of course, Christmas music.  I add mental soundtracks to things I’m doing.  My kids have actually asked me to stop singing them awake in the morning.  My son said that my singing wasn’t bad it was just an annoying way to wake up.  God love that little rascal.

I even let music suck me into crappy TV shows.  I would have never watched Dawson’s Creek or Grey’s Anatomy if it weren’t for deliciously irresistible songs playing in the background.  And now, I have wonderful people like Ingrid Michaelson in my life because of it.  Have you heard “Winter Song” by her and Sara Bareilles?  Heavenly.  And although I do not own anything Mac (shutty, I’m a PC), I now have a soft, feathery voice floating in my head that belongs to Feist.  Likewise, I own not a single Hyundai but now (quite literally right now) am rocking out to some sweet Pomplamoose.  Their YouTube videos are highly entertaining.

But the song that really struck a chord with me is the one below.  Thankfully, it is a flash mob video which makes it EVEN BETTER.  Dancing like an idiot in public while the song I love is playing?  Sounds like Nirvana.  As silly as it is, this video actually brought me to tears.  That is how deeply ingrained in my soul music has become.  I can only imagine the state I will be in when I arrive in heaven and hear the heavenly host of angels giving God all their musical glory! 


PS  My husband and both cried like babies when the Von Trapp Singers appeared on Oprah Winfrey.  We’re pathetic….

Monday, December 6, 2010

Forecast: Stormy, with a chance of cold shoulder

I got a phone call the other night.  Someone I love dearly called me and said right out of the gate that they needed to vent.  This is the kind of relationship I have with this person.  I call them for social reasons or random chit chat and they never, ever answer the phone or call me back.  But they call me up whenever they have a crisis or a bad day.  And 99% of the time I listen to them sympathetically and with all the devotion a good friend can have. 

It sounds so one sided, doesn’t it?  I have had several of these friendships.  I call them “stormy weather friends”.  Which completely blows for me.  I would give anything to have a “fair weather friend” that only called when they were having a good day.  (For the record, I have a handful of “all weather friends”.  Those are my favorite people on the planet.)

Anyhoo, this person started in on their rant and I did something unheard of.  I did not agree with them.  I told them calmly that what they had done was wrong and the consequences they were suffering were their own fault.  It was a moment of tough love.  I felt triumphant.  They on the other hand, hung up on me. 

Which brings me to this question:  Should I have kept my mouth shut and just let them vent?  Or did I do the right thing by speaking up?  I know that if the tables were turned, I would have been upset if I could not have just gotten things off my chest.  But then again, sometimes we need to hear the awful truth.  RIght? 

What do you think?  I have already left them a message apologizing for upsetting them.  And I am sure the next time they have a horrible day, all will be forgotten and they will call me up to cry on my shoulder.  It’s ok.  That is what friends are for.  Though, maybe I should ask them for an umbrella and rain boots for Christmas.  That way I can weather the next storm a little better.

What was that?!?

When I lived in Idaho for a very brief summer, we didn’t have central air conditioner.  It’s a weird thing they do out there.  An unholy thing.  Anyway, that meant lots of nights sleeping with the windows open.  One particular night, I was lying in bed by myself.  Josh had fallen asleep in the kids’ room and since he is of the “let sleeping dogs lie” variety, I went to bed alone.  Our bedroom window faced a rather busy street and it wasn’t uncommon to hear lots of cars go by in the night. 

However, this night, it wasn’t a car I heard. It was a screaming woman.  I was immediately panic stricken.  I edged up to the window sill to look out and saw a woman running from a man.  The man was standing beside a car and the woman was screaming, “HELP!”  I called out to her, “Do you need help?”  Dumb I know, but it was what came out.  She screamed back, “YES!”  So I yelled that I was calling the police.  It didn’t dawn on me immediately that the man could not only hear me but also could see where I was.  I called 911 and watched as the woman ran out of sight and the man got in his car.  I ran to get Josh and prayed that the man wasn’t coming to my house. 

I found out some time later that the woman was being attacked by the man but that she got away safely and was never bothered by him again.  And he never darkened my door step either.  I left Idaho behind but have always remembered how scary the whole thing was. 

So the other night, I am lying in bed alone again.  Josh, bless his heart, falls asleep where ever he is, at approximately 10pm every night.  That night he was on the couch.  And as I settled in for sleep, I heard a muffled scream outside.  I sat up like I had been shot out of a cannon.  I held my breath and waited.  There it was again!  I ran to Josh and said, “I heard someone scream outside.”   He sat up and listened.  Nothing.  I said, “We need to look outside.”  So we crept to the door and opened it.  There.  Yes, there was the scream.  It was…

A rooster crowing.

In the middle of the night, a rooster nearby was crowing it’s muffled, strangled crow.  I felt like such an idiot and apologized to Josh for waking him.  My heart rate returned to normal and I peacefully went to sleep.

We had fried chicken the next night for dinner. (well not really but it would have been a fitting end to the story, don’t you think?)  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

She means business

Yesterday, I had one of those moments where I felt it necessary to talk to my children about the world we live in.  The day before I had been followed out of Wal-Mart by a totally creepy guy and well, I just wanted to make sure my kids knew what to do if approached by someone unsavory.

I went through all the “I hope this never ever happens but” and “I’m just making sure you know what to do in case” speeches.  And I began. 

Me:  You know someone could come up to you and try to kidnap you.  If they do--

Alden (interrupting me):  I’ll find a weapon and I’ll shoot them.

Me:  Well, you might not be able to do that.  So you should scream really loud for help and try to--

Alden (interrupting again):  I’ll run to the car and lock all the doors.  Or I’ll hit them and run away.

Me:  Good.  You should do whatever you can to get away.

*It was at this point I realized that Avery hadn’t said much.  I was afraid I was scaring her or she wasn’t even listening.  She does that.  Already at 6, she tunes me out like a pro. 

Me:  Avery, did you hear what I said?

Avery:  Yes.

Me:  Well, if someone tries to kidnap you--

Avery (interrupting me):  I’ll kick him in the nuts.

I guess I should worry less about teaching them how to thwart a kidnapper and concentrate on teaching them not to interrupt.  Kids 1 Mom 0.


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