Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Like Yesterday

Ten years and a few months ago, I graduated from Whitman College.  Tomorrow, I’m going back for my ten-year reunion.


After exchanging a few emails with friends about what to wear to the various events, I realized a few things.


First, that I will be dressed better than this, no matter what I wear:



In the TriDelta chapter room, post donkey-stealing (no, alcohol was totally not allowed in the chapter room)



Chunky black boots, tube tops… we are ready to party.

Secondly, I am unlikely to engage in many of the crazy behaviors that characterized my life back then:



Body shots.  Because college.

But lastly, truthfully, I realized that I haven’t changed much.  I sort of expected to, you know?  I think I am more humble (if I do say so myself, tut tut), less quick to anger or become defensive, and more compassionate and empathetic now than when I was in college, but I’m still me.  I still want to go to alcohol-fueled parties all night long and do body shots, it’s just that I don’t have that kind of cleavage anymore and I really don’t want anyone but Tony to be doing the body shots and also I get really hungover now, so on second thought, I don’t want to do that anymore.  Okay, bad example.  But the truth in the statement is still there.  I am still me.  Just ten years older and wiser.  I’m a bit thinner, my hair is longer, I don’t wear big, black belts with all my jeans or babydoll t-shirts, but I am fundamentally me.


And that means, to my everlasting joy, that the people I will see again, for the first time in ten years, are also likely to still be the same people.  Maybe a bit more mellow, a bit more gracious, a bit less 22-years-old.  To our benefit, I think.  I like me now.  I’m prepared to really enjoy and appreciate my classmates now, more so than I did in 2003.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

&%#@*! Fruit Flies

The infestation is upon us: a plague of fruit flies.  Well, at least it was upon us until yesterday.  Why is it that I forget things year to year?  We get fruit flies every late summer, and last year, my aunt Cindy showed me a way to get rid of them that actually works.  AND doesn’t require me to have a 2-liter pop bottle hanging around like all of the Pinterest fruit fly traps.  I can hardly believe it took me two weeks of cursing the little beasts before setting my trap.


You’re going to want to do this.  Find a clear, sturdy cup (for some reason, this didn’t work at all when I used a paper cup, but you can see that I have a plastic cup in the photos and it works just fine).  Clear is best because then you can watch the little buggers!  Or just a red Solo cup if you want, but then you run the risk of someone thinking it’s beer, and nobody wants to mistakenly drink fruit flies.  Has anyone else noticed how terrible they smell?  They taste worse, and I speak from experience: I find them floating in my wine glass almost every night.  ‘Round here, we use coasters on top of our glasses.


All right.  You have a cup.  Now, cut yourself a piece of delicious fruit to put in the cup.  I prefer peach or nectarine pits with some flesh still on them.  After your fruit is in the cup, cover the cup with some plastic wrap and then put a rubber band around the rim of the cup to keep the plastic wrap taut.  Find a paperclip (often the hardest part, in this house), unbend it, and poke some holes in that plastic wrap.  Set the whole thing out by your fruit dish or wherever fruit flies colonize in your house and watch them get trapped inside the cup!  They can crawl in, but they can’t climb out.  Throw the whole thing away after you’ve rid your fruit dish of the infestation.


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Isn’t that gross?



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Begone, foul beasts!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Staying Active

I’ve said before that my job as a mom seems to be more about exhausting the kids on a daily basis than it does “raising” them.  They are raised by me kicking them out of the house into the backyard to play, whatever that happens to mean to them at the moment.  Often, it means digging for dinosaurs by the fence or being farmers with a rake and a shovel or just throwing a hundred pickleballs all over the yard.


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My boys have a lot of balls.


But with the abrupt and timely arrival of autumn this weekend, my two monsters spent a bit more time indoors than they are used to.


Back are the daily wrestling matches with Tony on our queen bed (the dog bed at the foot serves as an extra cushion for the kid who is knocked off during play) and the evening dance parties with me.  Also, this:


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Pull ups for everyone!  Actually, I still can’t do a pull up.  Or a chin up (I understand that one is with hands facing out, one with hands facing in, but I don’t know which is which).  But my boys almost can!  And Tony can do, like, a hundred.


But the big fun this weekend came from visiting the YMCA for “Bitty Open Gym,” for which the entire basketball court was closed down for an hour so that families of small children could go nuts with the Y equipment.  Remember those planks on casters that you roll around on?  Yeah, those are awesome.


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He’s moving too fast for you to see the uncontrolled glee on his face.




Charles could push himself around, and I claimed a plank for myself as well.  Tony got the mountain-climber workout of pushing Jamie.  Plus, there were jump ropes, hula hoops, a small basketball hoop, bowling pins, bean bags, about a zillion balls (though none of the pickle variety, so we still have the advantage there), a tunnel, and a parachute.  Best hour ever.


I thought for sure that after tearing up the gym for sixty minutes, both of the kids would take a well-deserved nap, but no.  Jamie didn’t nap at all yesterday, resulting in meltdown after meltdown.  Sharing is hard when you’re tired, I guess.  It’s especially bad when you get to 5 pm and you’re willing to nap, even saying, “I go nigh-nigh mine bunk bed” and mom makes you stay up because you’re too close to bedtime for a nap.  I am such a bitch sometimes.


Regardless, you’ll likely find us at the Y every Sunday from now on.  It’s like P.E., but without the rules.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Perfect House

Like many of my friends, I am on Pinterest daily.  I really enjoy the ideas, especially for recipes, though I fully vet each one before I re-pin it (I now avoid all recipes that include boxed cake or brownie mix because they are not easier than scratch baking and they taste horrible to me).  I like the ideas it gives me for decorating and fashion and the occasional craft, as well as the purely voyeuristic entertainment of seeing what all my friends are posting.

I also subscribe to one magazine, and one magazine only (Better Homes & Gardens), and that is only because the one-year subscription was free with a cookbook I bought for my brother.  I figured he didn’t want the subscription, so now I ogle photos of paint palettes, backyard makeovers, and kitchen renovations.

I had one of those dumb epiphanies the other day (oxymoron much?): all these photos of beautiful rooms in beautiful houses aren’t real.  Not only not real, but blatantly false.  Staged.  Faked.

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 My living room, with the coffee table pushed out of the way to better facilitate running and jumping on the couch

Oh, maybe you’ve known this forever, but I postulate that our internalization of these images of “perfect” rooms and “perfect” houses is a lot like our internalization of the “perfect” female body.  I will NEVER weigh 120 lbs, have D-cup breasts, or boast tiny hips.  There is but one body type presented in the media, and it is “skinny but curvy.”  Okay, maybe there are two, and the other one is “not skinny, but proportionate and curvy,”  because even the so-called “plus-size” models one occasionally sees are proportionate, with hips no wider than their shoulders and breasts that balance those hips.  In the real world there are an awful lot of women who have wide hips and narrow shoulders, thin legs and a round tummy, large breasts and slender hips, a large butt and small breasts.  What is often so discouraging to us as women is that we know, we truly know, that we will never look like models or movie stars without major surgery, and maybe not even then.  And, as a friend in high school once noted, the big problem is that these stereotypes of “perfect” bodies are not just what we, as women, see and try to live up to, they are what men see and come to want.

You cannot have a “perfect” body and live your life.  You start out “imperfect” and then get more so.  You get old, you have children, you get injured, you work…  Were I to be given a choice between a model’s body and the one that has borne children, climbed mountains, and danced on bars, I would not hesitate to choose the body I have now.

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The body that did this

Houses are the same.  If you live in them, they can never look like the magazine spreads or the Pinterest pins.  Children have toys.  Dogs have fur.  Food gets spilled.  The mail has to be put somewhere to be sorted.  I use many pots and pans and cutting boards when I cook.  We have coats and shoes at the front door.

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The front door and the coat/shoe closet

I know it’s not glamorous and maybe would be tough on photographers to frame or pose or whatever, but I do wish that magazines would show normal, lived-in, loved-in houses every once in awhile.  I want things to look nice, too, but I can’t see a world in which we don’t have too much stuff for a too-small house, toys and kid stuff strewn everywhere, and a buildup of junk on the countertops.

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The basement, home of dog blankets, the television, and play-doh
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The other side of the basement, our “office” space

I know I can’t change the magazines.  I can’t make them show a comfortable, cluttered, loved house any more than I can convince them to use models who are a size 10 with a baby pooch and the post-30 upper-arm wings.  But I can show you, and maybe you can feel better about how loved and lived in your house is.

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My kitchen, and the island that is only ever clear when the housekeeper pushes everything into a pile to clean the countertop.

And isn’t my house beautiful?  People live here.  Meals are made and eaten here.  Little boys and dogs play here.  A family loves here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Running for the Dogs

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There’s a 10k/5k/2mile run to benefit the Humane Society of Skagit Valley every September, in honor of an animal-loving Sheriff’s deputy who was gunned down by a madman in 2008, and I have long wanted to participate.  It has seemed, for the past few years, like we were always out of town for the run, but not this year.  This year, I signed my butt up for the 10k and ran my heart out.


I am a sucker for animals, and I am just so happy that we live in a society that works to protect animals and find them good homes.  The humane society and animal rescue organizations in our communities are so deserving of our charitable support; the animals truly are helpless and I can’t imagine a world in which these organizations are self-sustaining.  They rely on donors and volunteers.  I have been both in my life, and I hope to do more in the future.


Tony and I have a lot of personal dreams when it comes to wealth – it’s more than the garden-variety “what would you do with a million bucks?” dreams (those are fun, too).  We are actively working to build wealth in our family in a variety of ways so that we can provide a good home for our boys, experience some of the amazing things our world has to offer, and give the rest away.  No, seriously.  Building wealth will allow us to have more time to volunteer and more funds to give to organizations that pull at our hearts (because we can’t volunteer everywhere).  There are so many, and Tony and I are drawn to different ones.  But we don’t have a whole lot of time or money right now (more money would buy more time), so we do what we can, volunteer where we can, and overlap our activities with charitable giving.  Like the Humane Society run.  Fitness is important to me, setting fitness goals and working through them is important to me, and knowing that my race fees go to help an amazing organization is important to me (our next run will be a zombie run to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs – hooray, Halloween!).


Despite the noble nature of this race, I was hesitant to go because I would be running all alone.  None of my friends wanted to run with me.  I found out that one friend would be doing the 5k, which ran with the 10k for the first mile-and-a-half, so we chatted before the race and during that first mile, but I expected to finish the race, eat a banana, get in my car, and drive home.  It’s fun and inspiring to tackle obstacles like a long run with friends and since I have always run with friends or family, it was disheartening to face going it alone.


But surprise!  Tony brought the boys down to cheer me at the finish line.  Such a boost.

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My goal has been, for ages it would seem, to break one hour.  I did that and more: I finished in 56 minutes flat.

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I also finished second place overall for women and first in my age group.


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I won’t tell you how many people ran because then it doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment, but you know what?  I am proud of myself.  My family is proud of me.  And dammit, I placed second!  And first!


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And having my little guys and my big guy there just made the victory all the more sweet.

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Cheer for your friends who race, if you have the opportunity.  It means so much.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2005 Was So Eight Years Ago.

Whoa-ho!  Tony and I have been married eight years today.  We went out last night to celebrate.  Here’s what eight years looks like through my husband’s eyes:




Yes, that’s the only photo we took last night (no couple’s commemorative photo session or even a dual-selfie).  We didn’t go anywhere special, just a local Italian restaurant for $12 Bottle-of-Wine-Night and a drive.  The drive took us to the donut shop, so we got breakfast treats for everyone this morning.  My parents gifted us a night of babysitting and I gifted Tony a spectacular red dress (with an assist from a new bra).  He gifted me laughter and kisses.


Aw, geez, we’re old and boring.  I love any excuse for a party, and it used to be that I would strong-arm my friends into going out because it was Tuesday or because it was raining or because anything-I-can-think-of.  It was all cause for celebration, because we will never again have this moment, this “right now,” this this, ever again. 


I still feel that way, but other things change.  Sleep, or the lack thereof.  Willingness to spend right up to the last dime.  Opportunity (there’s not much dancing in this sleepy town, especially not on a Monday).  Comfort.


I’m more comfortable now than I ever have been with moments that are not, well, momentous.  I don’t have to make the party a rager every time.  Last night we had a lovely party just the two of us, laughing and talking, waving fruit flies away from our wine glasses.  Tony and I are so social that we often include everyone we can think of in our date nights.  It’s nice to take some time and just be us.  The two of us.  Like we were eight years ago.  Like we still are.


A quiet night out was simply perfect.  And maybe that says more about the happy, comfortable, wonderful, loving marriage we have than a crazy party would have, anyhow.

Friday, September 13, 2013

We May Not Be Clean, But We’re Happy

The kids are bathing less frequently.  So am I.  In fact, the only being in our house who gets regular showers is Tony.  Buster only gets a bath when I can’t stand him anymore, which is not as often as you might think.  I should probably brush his doggy teeth more often, though.


It’s a consequence of having more than one child: you have to let go of some things.  The boys have the same bedtime, even though Jamie stays up later than Charles right now, getting out of bed and running away from me as if it were all a giant game while his brother passes out instantly, and he gets up earlier, letting Charles sleep until he just can’t stand it anymore and then climbing to the top bunk to wake him up.  Charles is never very pleased with that.  I’m tired in the morning, I’m tired at night, and I’m always busy with something.  Bathing is just not priority number one.


Ahh, but I remember the good ol’ days when Tony would take Charles up to the bathroom and be there for half an hour with him while Charles splashed around with his toys.  Now it’s fifteen minutes of horseplay, at least one incidence of crying because somebody kicked somebody else in the balls or threw somebody’s favorite bath toy at dad’s head, and one loud admonishment from Tony to “knock it OFF!” before they are both summarily rinsed and have a bedtime story taken from them in punishment (“No, daddy, I’m sorry, please let me have four stories, please!” “You should have thought of that before you put soap in your brother’s eyes.”).  Not exactly the relaxing and enjoyable half hour it used to be.


So we just don’t do it very often anymore.  The boys exist with layers of sunscreen and dirt and sweat and grime day in and day out until we have time to do bath or I coerce one of them into the shower with me.


My standards of cleanliness are perhaps higher than most other moms: I prefer a clean sink, a made bed, streak-free mirrors, and clean toilets.  I outsource the toilet cleaning and I try, really try, to vacuum every day or two.  The dishes get done several times each day, and I pick up dog poop in the yard on the regular because I don’t want the kids to step in it.  You’d think that I would let those standards fall, and not the standards of personal hygiene, right?  But with the advent of dry shampoo for me and the realization that not only do the boys not care about bathing, but also that they are probably healthier because they let germs fester for a few days on end, well, the choice sort of just happened.  Almost every meal is homemade and I can’t smell myself, so I prefer to think that everyone wins.


I try not to think about it being short shrift for my second child.  He is as much loved as Charles was, he’s just not as clean as Charles was at that age.  I think we might attempt family swim again tonight, if only to let the chlorine do what I can’t motivate myself to do at home.  Hopefully we won’t shut the pool down this time… but that’s a different story altogether.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Funny Things My Kids Have Said Lately

“Mom, when we get home, Jamie and I need to have a talk, OK?  We’re going to go in our room and sit on our new beds and have a talk.  I’m going to tell him how to be good and not do bad things.”  Later, when we got home, overheard outside their bedroom door, “Jamie, come up on my bed for a talk.  I’m your big brother and I know that it’s not good to hit people.  Jamie, what are your favorite things?  Seahawks?  Alli?  Bunk Beds?  Jamie, those are all your favorite things!  We had a rough day so I think we should have a little rest now.”


“Mommy, mine butt makes poo poo!”


“Mom, my throat doesn’t feel good.  It needs a hot dog in it.  That will make it better real fast.”


“Tantrum town!  Tantrum town!  Tantrum town!”


“When Uncle Leland gets taller, he’s going to be Bad Spider-Man.  But I’m going to be Good Spider-Man and I will fight him.”


In bed this morning, when Tony stepped into the bathroom.  “Mommy!  Daddy FART!”

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Beautiful Day/Bug Attractant

Tony and I went shopping for work pants (for him) Labor Day Weekend and we took the kids with us because we had to and then we didn’t find any pants.  I’m sure the retailers just loved seeing my two monsters run through the aisles and into the clothing racks and then us leave without buying anything.  Sigh.  The mall pipes cocaine through the air to hype up the children, I think. 


Anyway, Bath & Body Works was having a sale and Tony really likes some of their dude-lotion (he once said to me, “Oh, now I understand why you’re not cold all the time.  It’s like the lotion provides a nice, insulating layer!”) and I enjoy several of their smelly lotions.  I didn’t used to wear smelly lotion, but once I had kids I started to replace perfume with lotion.  You get the same light fragrance (so long as you can find one you like) with way less transferability.  By that I mean, your new baby’s head won’t smell like your lotion, but it will smell like your perfume if you wear it.  Put another way, perfume and kids do not play well together, but lotion and kids do okay.  Jamie even likes to grab my lotion tubes and smear some on his face, if I don’t catch him in time.


So I bought some new lotion and started wearing one of them right away: Beautiful Day.  I love it.  Light, fruity and flowery, it felt good for a late-summer fragrance and it’s not overpowering.  I took the kids to the park and looked like a total weirdo because every few minutes I would smell my forearm, closing my eyes and breathing deeply with a look of bliss on my face.


No wonder no one ever talks to us at the park.


I am also probably avoided because I am that person who is all, “oh, it’s only a bee, he won’t hurt you” to my kids, but when one dances around me, I start to wave my arms and run in zig-zag circles like I’m trying to confuse a stampeding elephant.  We made a bee-line (ha!) out of the park that day because the yellow jackets were ganging up on me.


Over the next few days I continued to wear the lotion and continued to have to usher bees out of my house and car.  One was even crawling in my hair at one point.  Not cool, bee.


Then, after a nice, sweaty workout on Wednesday night, I looked down at my leg because I felt something tickling me (I was wearing shorts).  And then I shrieked and brushed off the biggest goddamn blue dragonfly I have ever seen in my entire life!  The thing was tasting me, I swear to you.  Oh, sure, dragonflies are harmless, but that one just about gave me a flipping heart attack!


Finally, the connection was made: the lotion was attracting all of these bugs to me!  I proceeded to relate the story of running around like a crazy person in the park, complete with arm-waving, zig-zag running demonstration, to my friends and mused that I should perhaps retire this lotion fragrance until insect season had passed.  They wanted to know what fragrance it was and when I told them, Tony said, “Are you sure it wasn’t called Bug Attractant?”


Yeah, well, that probably should be it’s name.  Consider yourself warned: Bath & Body Works’ Beautiful Day might just turn you into that mutant supervillian from Spider-Man that is made out of bees.  (It would appear that, as my boy children grow older, all of my pop culture references will be to boy things.)  Or it will at least cause you to publicly embarrass your children and friends when you do the bee dance.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Those Chocolate Cookies

I don’t have a name for these.  I’ve been chasing the recipe for a long time, and have seen similar versions called Mudslides or Rocky Roads (only if you add almonds and marshmallows, which I don’t) or Chocolate Fudge Cookies.  Maybe you can help me think of a name for them.


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They are gluten free, if that is a consideration for you.


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The bigger consideration: they are delicious.  Amazing.  Simply the best chocolate cookies I have ever made, ever. 


These little bites of happy start like this: whisk 3 cups of powdered sugar with 2/3 cups of cocoa powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. 


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In another bowl, mix together 3 egg whites and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.  Then, drop the wet stuff into the dry stuff and prepare to use your muscles, because it takes a while to incorporate the egg mixture into the sugar mixture.


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You can imagine, like I did, that the calories burned in mixing cancel out a significant amount of the calories you will consume when these beauties come out of the oven.  You’re dreaming, but it’s still nice.


Wave to your helper as you open a bag of chocolate chips, and maybe give him a few as he drives by on his fire truck.  He’s been pretending you are ice cream all morning, driving by and taking scoops out of your legs with an ice cream scoop he liberated from a kitchen drawer.


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Add two cups of chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet, your choice… I prefer half-and-half, but that requires more chocolate chip buying) and work those muscles again.

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When you have a big, chocolatey blob that sort of reminds you of frosting that got too thick, you’re ready.  Preheat your oven to 350-degrees and line your baking sheets with parchment paper (without it, your cookies will stick and ruin your day).  Drop the dough in rounded blobs onto the sheet and then put the whole sheet in the refrigerator for a few minutes.  This will keep the cookies from spreading too much.


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After about five minutes of fridge time, pop them into the oven for 12-14 minutes.  The tops of the cookies will get kind of crinkly and should lose most of their shine.  They will smell so good.


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My God, they’re beautiful.  I took these to two new moms this week and one gluten-free family.  They disappeared.


My helper definitely approved.


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So there you go: The Best Chocolate Cookies I Have Ever Had, Ever.  Go forth and bake!


Preheat oven to 350-degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.


3 Cups powdered sugar

2/3 Cups cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 egg whites

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

2 Cups chocolate chips


Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.  Mix wet ingredients and then incorporate into dry ingredients.  Add chocolate chips and mix.  Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Refrigerate for five minutes.  Bake for 12-14 until tops of cookies are crackly and matte.


They go equally well with a glass of milk or wine.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Rainy Friday

I’m heading out to give blood in 20 minutes, which makes me think I should have had more for breakfast.  I have to pop home anyway to pick up my Kindle (one doesn’t sit for 15 minutes and just watch the blood drain out, for heaven’s sake), so I’ll shove some cheese in my face hole real quick-like, too.


I’ve had a rough few days, what with schedule changes and trying to cut back on a caffeine habit that was spiraling out of control and getting up with teething children in the middle of the night while Tony slumbers on (he never hears them) and just overall questioning my effectiveness as a person.  The wrinkles and bad skin and saggy breasts and the belly pooch that will seemingly never go away have been brighter and bolder in the mirror this past week than usual.  And strangely, I keep getting compliments on my hair after I haven’t showered for a couple of days because NO TIME.


I’m busy this weekend, or else I’d make some heartfelt commitment to ease up on myself and feel better and relax, but instead we have two parties tonight and a dinner tomorrow and stuff to do, you know.  No time for slacking, and I’ve wallowed enough already.  It’s time now to bake some more cookies.  You can look forward to a post on Monday about the most delicious chocolate cookies I know how to make, a recipe I have been trying to perfect for months now.


Until then, my friends, have a great weekend.  The lightning and thunderstorms have passed, but if you find yourself up late with teething children, think of me and know that I am up too, only my teething child is probably asking for me to turn the lightning and thunder back on.  Storms make for a good sleep soundtrack, I guess.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ravioli-Sausage Bake

I wasn’t able to be home for dinner last night, which bums me out to no end, but I did experience a win in the meal-making department.  As Tony said, “I don’t know who these children who eat all their dinner and ask for more are, but if I see our old kids coming back, I’m running the other way.”  So, apparently, the dinner I had prepped for the boys was a hit.


It is so easy that I must share it.  It is not particularly delicious, but the flavors are bland enough for kids’ palettes and did I mention?  It is SO EASY.  Here’s what you do:


Get yourself a package of frozen ravioli.  I bought the Fred Meyer cheese ravioli, but you could get the fancy, organic stuff they sell at Costco if you want.  My kids won’t eat that.


Put the whole package in a 9 x 13 inch pan. 


Add some sliced, precooked Italian sausage of your choice.  Grocery Outlet usually has some great deals on chicken sausage of various flavor combinations.


Cover it with a jar of marinara sauce (I got mine at Costco, just the generic Kirkland brand) and mix it around a bit so the ravioli are coated.


Add some shredded mozzarella on top and bake at 375 degrees for a half hour or so. 


I also left the boys some cooked corn on-the-cob.  Word on the street is that they gobbled up every bit and asked for more.


They left me with some for a late dinner and lunch today, though:


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My guilt over feeding my boys something that I didn’t lovingly prepare every bit of with my own two hands was assuaged by the fact that they ate a full meal without complaint.  They sleep so much better when they eat well.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

No Time

Do you have things that you want to do but you know you don’t have time?  I have two such things: I want to learn Spanish and I want to learn how to sew.


The reason for wanting to learn Spanish is less frivolous than the reason for wanting to learn how to sew: my kids speak/understand Spanish.  I don’t think I can handle them having a “secret” language that I can’t understand as they grow older.  God knows I already have a hard enough time understanding how their little brains work – I don’t need to be completely in the dark when they converse with their friends.  I’m sure they’ll have many secrets through the coming years and make much clandestine mischief, but I do not want to give them an edge by making it possible for them to converse right in front of me in a language I don’t know.


I want to learn how to sew so that I can make cool Halloween costumes. 


Okay, and also I have this dress that I bought and that shrunk up a little in the wash and is now scandalously short and I’d really like to sew some lace trim or something along the hem to lengthen it.  But mostly the Halloween thing.


I’ll tell you when there is spare time in my day to learn these things: at 9:30 pm, when the boys are finally asleep and the dishes are done and I am too exhausted to do any more housework.  That’s my “me” time, the time I spend curled on the couch with a book and a glass of wine or during which I watch Netflix with Tony.  I would be willing to take a Spanish or sewing class at this time, but it would have to be in my pajamas and with wine and when I’m tired at 10:30?  I’m going to bed.


An alternate wish to “more time in the day” is the “fairy Godmother” wish.  I already outsource much of my housecleaning, but if I had someone to just fold the laundry or make all the meals and do all the dishes for me, then maybe I could add one more thing to the calendar. 


Here is, perhaps, a better alternative: lower my standards.  I cook every meal in our house (well, except for cereal at breakfast, that’s not cooking).  I make dinner every night.  We don’t eat out for several reasons: no time; it’s expensive; my children are monsters.  But maybe we could get takeout (Papa Murphy’s on Tuesdays for only $10 – but, oh, I am tired of pizza) sometimes or I could whip up a bunch of freezer meals on Sunday and then we could eat those once a week.  I could be more slovenly and work out less.  My boot camp classes are moving to 6 pm which will be an awkward time for all of us anyway.  I won’t get to eat dinner with my family on Wednesdays, and I feel like being gone in the evening for another class would be taking too much from them, so in order to take a Spanish or sewing class, I would likely have to let fitness go.


I’ve fairly painted myself into a corner here, hmm?  I am the overscheduled, overtired, overbusy modern woman.  Solutions?  I have none.  That dress will hang unworn in my closet until doomsday.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Last Year

As I see countless “first day of school” photos on FaceBook today (and probably will tomorrow and the next day), I am acutely aware that this is the last year I’ll have before my first baby is in school, real school, all day long.  Kindergarten probably won’t be much of a change for Charles – he’s already in full-day daycare – but it’s a milestone for me.


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Batman & Superman chapter books from Costco.  CHAPTER BOOKS.  My, he is getting old! 


I’m still a mom of preschoolers.  I think that still qualifies me as a “young mom” – not because of my age, but because of the ages of my children.  None of Charles’s activities are very organized right now; we’re thinking of doing gymnastics again for a month or so, and he’ll start swim lessons again in January, but we don’t have weekly or twice-weekly soccer practices or piano lessons or, you know, school that I can’t just let him skip for fun so we can go to the zoo.  I’m not tethered to much of a schedule yet.


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Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett – Charles and I built that plane.


The work of raising kids seems to get different as they get into school.  Charles is already asking more difficult questions, wanting to know the whys and hows of things like life and death or the differences between a jet engine and our car’s engine.  But he doesn’t have homework, his preschool is small (not several hundred kids, like he’ll see in school next year), his teachers are the same ones he’s had nearly his entire life, and there’s still a nice little naptime built into his day.  Less stress for me, I’m sure.


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Ice cream at the Skagit County Fair


I’m not so much worried about next year as I am mindful of the changes that will be upon us in one year.  People are always saying stupid things to moms (shoot, I’ve probably said them myself) like, “enjoy every moment, it passes so quickly!” or “oh, that stage is so precious and so fleeting!” and as annoying as those well-intended expressions are (usually said to a mom who is on her last nerve carting two wild kids through a grocery store after a refused nap), I get it.  I have looked back on periods of life with my babies and thought about how quickly it passed, how much I wish I could go back and snuggle that small child to sleep just one more time, regardless of how tired I know I was at the time.  Or how much I needed a shower or a drink.


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Jamie figured out the amazing French fry/ice cream combo all by himself.


It’s customary to start a new year with resolutions.  It’s the new school year, and I have a resolution: to take full advantage of this, Charles’s last preschool year.  More trips to the zoo, more afternoons at the park, more books, more ice cream dates.  Time seems to pass faster each year, month, and day.  I don’t want to miss any of it.


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He’s far more enthused about the pony ride than he looks.  I promise.