Thursday, April 16, 2009

Maple Bars

My 4-year-old looked at me and said, "Mom, what's a maple bar?"

I loved maple bars when I was a kid. We got them from the local bakery on Fridays after story hour at the library.... hot out of the oven. And sometimes mom would bring home a dozen "just because" and we'd stuff ourselves with them. (Actually, I think we gorged on them because we knew dad would eat them all that night and none would be left in the morning... the man can midnight snack like no one I know...)

Chalk this one up to just another way I've failed my children.... and know we will be hanging out at the bakery counter some Saturday morning soon to get fresh, hot maple bars.

Car Sharing

We've decided to co-op our vehicles.

Meaning.... we don't have "mine" and "yours" cars anymore. Usually I drive the Outback and Hot drives the Sienna.... but not always.....

First, add to the list of things I do that makes my husband crazy, "Leaves cell phone in car." (Other things, you might remember, include burning candles, leaving the garage door open and starting 5 projects at a time.)

Then, put on the list of things that make me look at my husband cross-eyed, "Always leaves floor mat askance and sideways when exiting the vehicle."

This brings up a dilemma..... something city-folk who take public transportation will laugh about.... but....

What do you keep in your car?

Here's the list of essentials I think need to be in each vehicle:

baby wipes (in a travel container)
small notebook/pen (I have cute little ones I got as a freebie at a conference.... I can use them for work meetings and list making.)
lip balm
phone charger
spare sunglasses
plastic bag (folded and stashed.... for back seat puking or wet clothes)
ice scraper
spare diaper
sweatshirt for each kid
water bottle
small first aid kit (bandaids, tylenol)
pony tail holders

Hot thinks you need:
ice scraper
giant plastic garbage bag looped over the shifter
Metallica cds
sunflower seeds

You see our challenge. I used to keep all my spare keys in the car... now I'm hauling them around in my purse or forgetting them on the key hook at home.... same goes for my ipod and cell phone.... And my coupon file used to live in the car.... now it lives in my go-bag. Sometimes I get in and the passenger seat is piled to the ceiling with, um, gear. And sometimes he gets in and the passenger seat is piled to the ceiling with library books and stuff to return to Target. And the garbage bag in the car.... that makes me nuts.... it makes the mice move in. Pack it in, pack it out, I say.

Hot can never find his favorite sweatshirt because it is always in the wrong car. And when fire season really gets rocking he will start misplacing his fire radio and boots. I can see he will need a special go-bag for that gear.

I also have totally different standards for summer vs winter. In the summer I keep beach towels and picnic gear in the car at all times. In the winter... snow boots and spare gloves.

On the up-side..... Hot is very punctual about filling up with gas and he keeps the windshield clean. Huh, I can't think of anything beneficial I contribute to the balance.... I throw away the garbage. And we've learned those extra cup holders come in handy for storing a spotting scope. Oh, and you can totally misplace your (very expensive and sentimentally dear) binoculars in all that van storage.

Sigh. I need insight and planning to make this work.

Any ideas?

License & Registration Please

I just did the license for the van. $358. Jeez-um. I knew it would be about that much but I still hyperventilated a little writing the check.

And what a, ahem, cluster-fluck. The DMV. They are transitioning to an online system on the 20th and, as of today, the printers aren't working with the new system. The woman who helped me said everyone was on edge and I saw two employees in tears.... and it was before 9:00 am. I don't think it helped when some crabby woman behind me just wandered back into their space and started complaining, loudly, when someone wouldn't help her. Seriously. We were the only people there..... it was going to be all of a 5 minute wait.... maybe.

And I didn't even get a good number for my new plates.

This is why I usually do my licensing by mail... so I'm excited about the online system.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Before Baby To Do List

Ya know I love Money Saving Mom. Well.... I also really like her other blog Mom Of Littles.

She has a master to do list for preparing for baby up.

So I thought I'd work on my own list:

Review insurances (done, with Hot's help.... we changed some of our car coverage.)
Document household for insurance (video and photo... this was "begat" from the insurance review. We need to document what we have and get a copy to the insurance guy's office for safe keeping..... no, we aren't doing this because we are concerned Baby #3 is Satan Spawn....)
Get van registered and licensed (Due April 22nd, done)

Baby Stuff:
Dig out and wash all baby clothes (done)
Decide where to put baby clothes (the dresser in the bathroom... but that means moving all of Hot's fire stuff OUT of that dresser.... we compromised and the babe gets ONE drawer..... Hot is keeping the other.)
Figure out additional stuff to buy for baby. (gas drops, pacifiers, diapers... um, what else? I decided that is enough.)
Get hospital gifts for Sweet & Tuff (possibly mp3 players?)
Plan and pack hospital bag(s) (I packed the kid craft bag. I planned the kid clothes bag. We plotted out the great carseat exchange and I made careful instructions because it turns out Papa may end up by himself with both kids.... Next I need to figure out MY stuff..... the infamous grey bathrobe, some shampoo/conditioner, toothbrush, comb, chapstick, ponytail holder, change of clothes, eyeliner.... there... done.)
Find car seat bases and put in cars (Yeah, huh, can't find those bases.... I have the car seat but not the bases....)
Write out kid instructions and pack bags for kids for labor (done-ish)
Get thank you cards (done... I have a couple packs of little notecards.)
Design birth announcement (suggestions?)
Get stamps (Darn. Forgot to do this before the price went up.....)

Mama stuff:
Feminine hygiene products for post-birth (check. Elle sent me a BOX)
Get new tennis shoes (Done. New Balance for Mother's Day.)
Plan post-baby wardrobe for the summer (you have to have a uniform and at least one outfit you look and feel great in..... people will want to go to lunch.)
Get 2 pairs cute elastic-waist shorts (I got one pair so far.)
Plan the mama 6-month list (new panties, a few wardrobe purchases, a major closet cleaning)

Plan the bedroom transitions:
Get new bed for Tuff (Hot is doing this tonight)
Measure Sweet's room and think about putting two twin beds in there (Done. We put both kids in the same room.... working ok so far.)
Find co-sleeper (Elle? Do you have it? Do I have it? Found.)
Measure Tuff's room and think about putting crib and full sized bed in there (Done.)
Think about bedside tables/chairs

Other nesting:
Continue to clean the garage (must be done by the end of summer)
Think about getting a double-door garage door opener and installation
Do the dreaded "June shopping" for all those birthdays
Plan meals and schedule for maternity leave
Decide the "summer projects" for this year (swing set/play area and paint porch posts and paint upstairs outside window trim)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I know how to microwave something for 45 seconds. I know how to microwave something for 33 seconds...

... But how do you microwave something for 100 seconds??

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Perfect Sunday

It was the perfect Sunday. It was, really, just about a perfect weekend.

Let's go back a few days....

Monday was my I'm-on-top-of-it-Super-Mom day.... all because I cooked some chicken and was caught up on laundry.

Tuesday was my Poor-me-single-parenthood-sucks day.... we managed to get a few errands done and Hot had 3 fires in two days. The kids and I also each picked a fruit at Costco... Sweet picked strawberries, Tuff picked bananas and I picked pineapple. We can now eat chunks of fruit with an appetizer pick (the greatest toddler food-eating innovation of the current century) for every meal.

Wednesday I had "centering" for baby school..... more about that later.... and a chiro appt at 5. I do adore my chiropractor.

Thursday was a mad dash to get kids and get to an Easter egg hunt. Fun was had by all and pizza was had for dinner. Mmmm. Pizza.

I can't really remember Friday but it was a good day. Another fire. For those of you counting that makes FOUR fires last week. We watched Dinosaurs for movie night and then stayed up late watching the season finale of Friday Night Lights. I cleaned house during the commercials.

Saturday is usually reserved for cartoon viewing but Sweet said, "They are all reruns anyway..." so we had a playdate with Princess & Flower. After a quick lunch and naps/rest, the cousins came down and eggs were decorated. Then off to Nana & Papa's for pork roast and fingerling potatoes for dinner. Purple potatoes. We ate purple potatoes.... and they were good. And I love the dressing my mother-in-law makes for salad. I don't think it is complicated... it just tastes so good.

The tulips are up. Must make a note to spray them before the deer get them. Tonight.

Sunday we headed to Nana & Papa's for brunch. I had coffee and hot milk. Somehow that makes me feel sort of.... cosmopolitan or something.... Italian? Maybe it's all the Dave Robicheaux novels I've been reading.... He always has hot milk and coffee.... I'm just doing it to reduce my caffeine intake but I'm kinda starting to like it. And I did have some trauma in the morning... Tuff didn't want to wear her dress and I couldn't find my pants. The pants I wore on Thursday. I still can't find them.

Nana made a new egg casserole recipe. It was very rich and very yummy. I vote we have it again. Although I do love the old egg casserole recipe as well. Nana got the short end of the stick... she did all the cooking this year. The kids got some good Easter presents and I got a box of candy from the BEST chocolate place downtown and a gorgeous salmon begonia. Then off to our house to hunt eggs in the field north of the house. And to be thankful we didn't have to do this. Then a few laps with the 4-wheeler to make sure they got all the eggs. Then to play baseball, t-ball, soccer, kickball, horseshoes in the field south of the house. And the kids dug out all the yard toys and had a great time. The adults played some softball and a little horseshoes, sat in lawn chairs visiting and a few even napped. The only thing missing was Bloody Marys.

I won't lie... I spent a good bit of the time obsessing over what would make the afternoon a little better.... a good picnic blanket, an automatic ice machine, more lawn chairs, sliced lemons, having the hammock set up, a swing set, better organization of the kid toys, a quicker offer of sunscreen, better drink selection (I'm a water person.... we have that, Crystal Lite Pink Lemonade and Diet Caffeine Free Pepsi....), a completely dog poop free yard, two bathrooms, Bloody Marys, snacks (besides chocolate), moving the pile of old fence rails with giant rusty spikes sticking out that the kids wanted to climb on.

Everyone left by 3:00 or so and we still had time to tidy up and get a few things done before bedtime! I had some sheets to wash. Tuff had a little accident in our bed.... on me. She never does that. Seriously. Like.... 3 times since she quit wearing pull ups.

Ok, I admit, I napped. And I made Sweet's NEW FAVORITE dinner. Red beans and Rice. (A modification of the Zatarain's mix (which I think is too salty... even the low-sodium mix we got at Costco).... add two extra cans of beans and some turkey brats and serve over brown rice.... I'm still convincing myself I like brown rice.... Remember the days when I existed on white rice all the time?) Again... a very Dave Robicheaux meal.... very New Orleans, right? And we ate in the living room because Extreme Makeover Home Edition was on and that's our new favorite show. (Shut Up... I know it has been on for years... we just discovered it.) Last night made Hot cry. Seriously. Tearing up over tv. That's my sensitive man. But then he recovers, looks around our house and says, "Hey hon, I bet if we cut your leg off they'd come redo our house...." That's romance folks.

We started watching Pride & Glory but I faded out and had to go to bed. And that, dear friends, is another week at the homestead.

I guess we will start calling him Chubby.

Ok, go here, and tell me how your kid calculates out for BMI.
For background, go here and read the article about overweight pre-schoolers.

Then come back and tell me how your kid rated.

Because I have a complex right now.

My son is, apparently, overweight.

Yup. The 4-year-old in the size 6 Slims.

This child:


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Season Has Begun....

I've been on a cooking jag lately.... It is like I've run out of things to nest about so I'll cook instead....

Sunday the kids & I made bread, pigs in blankets, and brownies. We also made a meal outline for the week's dinners.

Su: pigs in blankets, green beans, apples
M: bowtie pasta, alfredo, sliced chicken breasts, salad (with lots and lots of ranch), corn-n-beans, bread.
Tu: sandwiches or chicken nuggets, corn and cottage cheese
W: Eggs (I'm having deviled eggs and salad... the kids may have scrambled eggs or fried egg sandwiches.... Hot will probably have an omlet.)
Th: Hamburger something or other.
F: Tomato soup and grilled cheese, apples
Sa: hobo dinners maybe

I'm trying to get into the concept of deconstructing dinner. So, for example, I added red bell peppers to the alfredo for Tuff and I. And I added cherry tomatoes to mine. Tuff likes slivered almonds on her salad. And she and I eat salad mix.... Hot & Sweet eat iceberg. So I'm trying to adapt basic meal plans instead of making a completely separate meal for kids and adults.

And by *I* I mean.... I plan and Hot executes. I did make dinner on Sunday and Monday but usually he makes dinner.... It is true.... he's more than just a cute butt in fire pants....

So I was so pleased that I got dinner together on Monday night. I know... it was nothing fantastic... but still. Hot had a fire in the afternoon so I had to get the kids from daycare.... He got home soon after and we sat down to a lovely meal at the table (remember to add that to my list of my very favorite things in the world... dinner with my family at the table) and the phone rang. Another fire.

So off he goes. And the season has begun.....

Power in a Pink World

I picked the kids up last night and we were all kinda grumpy.

I had a rough day at work and I was tired of being a single parent (oh, poor me, two days....) and I was missing Hot and wondering what he was doing. (I have this secret theory about what they DO when they are on a fire....) And I really wanted a glass of wine.

Sweet was tired and whining about wanting a Transformer.

Tuff... well, Tuff just said, "Mama, I cwabby." We left it at that. I like to think I support my kids through any emotions and they don't have to pretend like things are all rainbows and unicorn poop to make me happy.

So I said, "Well guys, Daddy is going to be late tonight so lets go do something before we head home.... suggestions?" Sweet wanted to go to Target and get.... a Transformer. Tuff wanted to go to Costco. Tuff ALWAYS wants to go to Costco. I wanted to go to Joanne's to get chocolate melts to make faker Cadbury Eggs.

Mama says, "Tuff, are you the kind of crabby that should just be left alone and you'll tell me when things are in balance or is it the kind of crabby that means you want to do something?"

Tuff thinks about this. She savors the power. The option to DO SOMETHING is so huge in her little two-year-old petal pink world.... she drinks it in and revels a moment and then pauses dramatically and says, "Mama, I think some frozen yogurt would be good."

So, after much 'splainin' about how we don't "buy toys just to buy toys" we ended up at ShopKo looking at toys... and life jackets.... and ballet shoes..... and spiderman beach towels. Then to Costco to get a few items and, if kids be good, some frozen yogurt. Swirl. Because sometimes ya just gotta eat dessert first.

And so ends another salvaged day at our house.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Yellow American.....

..... Cheese.

Yellow American Cheese is the bane of my existence.


I said it.

My kids had never really had it until hunting season this year.

Sweet came home from deer hunting with his daddy... (What? You don't send your 4-year-old out with a heavy pack to hike for miles on end in search of food?)

"Mama, we had the coolest thing today. (This I expect.... excursions to the woods have introduced Sweet to all sorts of things... peeing on a tree, the smell of elk, the joy of a Snickers bar, the fun of a camp fire, how to make an air hanky, the fascination of MRE's and the exhaustion of a good hike.) Yellow Cheese. (Big deal, I think to myself....) It was called...... American. And it came in little wrapped squares."

He is, at this point, dancing around.... so excited he can't contain himself.

"And, mama, I brought some home to share with Tuff!"


So, from that point on, my kids were American cheese eaters. I gave in and started buying it in the giant five pound blocks at Costco. Do you know that stuff doesn't ever mold? Seriously. Scary. I will admit I believe there is a place in this world for sliced squares of yellowy-orange processed goodness.... camping, road trips, picnics.... just not in everyday life.

So mark this in the box of "things I said my kids would never...." and get on with it.

Cheese Sandwich

Do you ever have this conversation with your child?

Here, I made you a quickie sandwich for the road.

Does it have yellow cheese? American cheese?


I don't want it.

It's what you get. Eat it or wear it.

I want a bagel.


I want American cheese.



Eat it.


Eat it.


Try it please.


One taste.


One tiny nibble.


Ok, one tiny nibble and if you don't like it you can spit it out.

Hmmm. Ok. One.

(Pause, chewing, grinning)

Hey mom.... I really like it.

This was us with monterey jack cheese today. And, honestly, it makes me wonder what things I'm not trying that I might like....

Friday, April 03, 2009

Baby Things I Know

Here's something I learned this week.

1. The baby's heart rate is 136.
2. She weighs almost 3 pounds... or so.
3. It's ok to go get monitored when you think you are having preterm labor... even if you aren't really.
4. Gunnar is super-sensitive. He is absolutely clingy and won't leave my side and is fretting about me... he always knows when I am stressed. I have to coax him out to go pee and I'm covered in dog hair from the knees down. Seriously.... he's going to trip me and I'm gonna fall down the stairs.
5. My husband is a darling. And he gets a little clingy when he gets stressed as well... but he likes to take me to breakfast and get me chai tea when he's worried about me.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Are you buying a new car??

Wise Bread has a post up about new car incentives. Anybody gonna bite?

I have some extremely un-frugal confessions to make to you, internets....

We bought a new car.

Well, ok, we traded in the 1999 Toyota Camry for a 2006 Toyota Sienna.

It's fancy. XLE and AWD. Leather seats and automatic doors and second row captain's chairs. I make everyone laugh when I exclaim over some clever little feature that is "like they designed it for kids" or something.... who, exactly, do I think they are marketing these minivans too? Non-families? But I do love the tinted windows and built-in pull-up window shades.

And this fugger has more storage than my kitchen. I'm not kidding.

And I dropped several hundred on some fancy-schmancy glass coating that promises me a crack-free windshield for 5 years.

Anyone out there remember the windshield on my old Toyota pickup? Yee-gads. The things we do in our youth.

Here's the funny part.... I never get to drive it. Nope. I'm still driving the Subaru. Hot Stuff has fallen in love with the van and drives it everywhere. I'm ok with that.

And still no car payments. (Yes, I'm bragging.)

Now, you might ask, short of selling a kidney or pimping out Hot Stuff on Tuesday nights, did we do that?? Helifino.

We got lucky.

I'm such a cheap-ass when we bought the Subaru (shortly after Tuff was born) they offered 5 years of financing and I decided to eat more mac-n-cheese and do it in two..... which put us, after the down payment, with payments around $500/month. (2.9% financing) We finished those up in October. (I had to take Hot with me to be the "heavy" when I told the insurance agent we wanted to drop it to liability-only.... still not sure about that decision.) And, knowing Hot was not going to be put off much longer, I had been skrimping for a down payment for a new jumbo-vehicle. It wasn't much of a decision.... Hot wanted a minivan with all-wheel drive. That leaves us with a long list.... a Sienna. I wanted a 2006 because that's when they upgraded the safety features. He wanted a 2007 but I vetoed that on grounds of budget limits. We found a good deal on this one and it was owned by people with no kids so the back seats are flawless. So we gutted it up and went for it. The financing was pretty sucky.... 5.5%... so we skipped that part. I'm still pretty pleased with the deal we got... I think it was fair.... even if I'm not completely in love with the idea of driving a loser-cruiser. I'll get over it.

Huh. That story wasn't as exciting as I had hoped. I got to play guitar hero at the dealership and enter a drawing to win a tv or a laptop or an ipod.... I'm still waiting for them to call and tell me what I won.....