Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm Just a Moron

If you're dropping in for a little chuckle, you're out of luck (tonight anyway). I posted a wicked funny online video of a roadside sobriety test that was just hilarious. But...I think it gave me a Trojan worm.

Who's laughing now?

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Don't Knock It Til You've Tried It

I am really starting to think my kids are a little weird. Ever since they were little (littler) people have commented on how well they eat. Or, shall I say, what they eat. Which is pretty much everything.

They love to try new foods and do so without a fuss. There's no sniffing, poking or dissecting. Just open the pie hole, jam it in and, yum yum, it's gone.

I used to be able to buy the odd tray of sushi and know that it was my special treat. Until one of them asked for a taste. Yeah, you guessed it...they even love sushi. I couldn't sneak a California roll in this house if my life depended on it!

They have come to appreciate a finer dinner menu as a result, and not that I'm complaining, but it can be sort of pricey! One of my neighbors is always buying fancy stuff at Wegmans...crab stuffed sole, cedar plank steaks, king crabs legs the size of my forearm...budget-breakers to be sure. But she only has to buy for her and her husband because her kids won't touch that stuff with a 10 foot pole. She generally prepares something separate for them...and every one's happy.

Me, on the hand...not so much. I can only imagine the look on my kid's faces if Steve and I bellied up to the dining room table with a plate full of shrimp scampi and all they had was spaghetti with butter. There'd be mutiny for sure!

Anyway, back to the weirdness. The girls were helping me make Ten Can Soup yesterday (very budget friendly) and I couldn't turn my back on them for a second. Their job was to open the cans...and every time they got one open, they scooped out a handful of the contents and crammed it in their mouths before I could stop them.

They were eating chopped spinach from a can, for God's sake!

It's like my own little kitchen freak show!

And before any of you foodies turn your nose up at the thought of a soup made almost entirely from canned vegetables, you have to try it first. It's a recipe given to me by Brighid and God knows who gave it to her, but it's a keeper. It has been a staple in my parent's house since Dad's diagnosis, as it is on a very short list of dishes that he can tolerate.

The recipe usually gets a lukewarm response when I give it out, but everyone is always pleasantly surprised with the end result.

Ten Can Soup

1 lb ground beef or turkey (can be omitted if desired)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 can sliced mushrooms
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can Rotel (or diced tomatoes with mild green chilli's)
1 can corn
1 can green beans
1 can sliced carrots
1 can diced potatoes
1 can condensed minestrone soup (or veggie soup)
2 cans chicken broth

In a large soup pot, saute onion in a little olive oil until tender, then add meat until browned. Add all ten cans of vegetables WITHOUT draining them. Heat through and serve with a nice red pepper hot sauce!

The number of cans has increased to fourteen as we like to add a can of chopped spinach, 2 cans of black beans and an extra can of corn (I've thrown a can of condensed tomato soup in, too).

Jack walked in from school yesterday and the first thing he said was "Awesome, Ten Can Soup for dinner!".

How can I not be proud of my weirdos?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Fruits Of My Labor

Last night Steve and Jack took a ride to get trailer tires (can you say hee haw?) and the girls were content coloring in front of the TV for a few minutes. So I took the opportunity to make a few calls (whoring myself again). When I came back upstairs, this is what I found.


Is there anything cuter?

Maggie had pulled up the wooden box to the coffee table (coffee table, bench...tomato, tomahto) and had the kid's toy laptop set up. She had a pink plastic phone, a coloring book and a red pen. And she was making calls.

Making calls.

"I'm workin', Mommy, like your job".

She had her things set up just like I do. She was so proud, too.

So preshus.

Not to sound completely corny, but I really was touched when I saw her. And she was slightly embarrassed, but lit up when I made such a fuss over her eat-able-ness. I suspect, though, with her tenacity she will not be making calls someday, she'll be accepting them (but only from a select few).

Well, now I have a small confession to make, and I'd better come clean before Libby talks to Gramma. When I started this job, I tried to impress upon my three little sweeties that there would be times when they needed to quietly entertain themselves while I worked. I took advantage of a teachable moment, telling them that they would most certainly benefit from the added income if they gave me some space and quiet time to work.

To sweeten the deal, I offered a reward to each of them with my first paycheck if they could demonstrate to me that they could, in fact, shut up long enough for me to hear myself think.

So, my first paycheck arrived and we set out for a little shopping trip. Jack chose a camouflage stocking, filled with hunting crap (no surprise there). Maggie chose a big stuffed tiger. Again, not a shocker.

And Libby chose these (you might have to look closely...somewhere near her, um, ears).

Ssshhh...don't tell Gramma!

Tuesday To Do

Oh heavens. It's been a few days, hasn't it?

Thanksgiving came and went. We had a nice time with my in-laws, ate well and came home with a boatload of leftovers. The neighbors pie was tasty, but I think I would prefer one or the other...a pecan pie or a pumpkin pie. Not that I'm complaining.

I did manage to go shopping on Black Friday for a bit. Did some damage at Target and then later on the internet. We have a nice start to our Christmas shopping, and a tremendous jolt to my bargain hunting OCD. I can't tell you how many websites I've visited, how many deal hunting bulletin boards I've perused and how many cyber shopping carts I've loaded, then abandoned.

I can't help it.

I'm terrified to miss "the deal of the century"...even if it's for refurbished wrestling equipment.

In addition to searching for deals, I am in list overdrive. I have lists for things I've already bought, lists for things I'd like to buy and lists for things I wish I could afford. It's sad really. I even have a hard cover little notebook in my purse for my listing. AND...I taped an envelope in the inside cover for my receipts.

Can you say "loser"?

The kids are in the spirit of things, too. We have a daily pilgrimage to the mailbox to send pictures, sketches and notes to Santa. Our post office is amazing. Not only are our Santa letters picked up with care, we always receive personalized letters back from the fat man. It so cool!

So far the kids haven't produced the "official" list for Santa (they're not on board with list making yet...neanderthals), but as my secret hiding spot fills up, we are going to have to pin them down to avoid a last minute shopping crisis.

Alright, this was a little of nothing. But, if I am to feed my el-cheapo shopping habit, I must get on the horn immediately and qualify some leads!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gobble, Gobble

This post is loosely inspired by a cooking blog I read fairly regularly. The writer is a trained chef with an uber fancy camera. Each entry is splattered with amazing pictures of food I could never cook. But, I wanted to share my contributions to the Thanksgiving feast that awaits us at my inlaws.

Well, actually, the pie isn't really mine. My neighbors (both trained chefs) made it for us. But looks pretty and photographed well.

I am bringing a turkey (the "leftover" turkey so that everyone leaves with a pile of meat), homemade cranberry sauce, butternut squash and the pumpkin pie, which I plan to pass off as my own ('cuz that's how I roll).

And before you accuse me of missing the point of Thanksgiving, this year I am acutely aware of the many blessings in my life for which I am exceedingly grateful. The list is long, but in an effort to minimize the schmaltz, I'll cut to the biggies.

My children and my husband...who will have a lot of explaining to do when I'm finally committed to a room with padded walls, but who bring me my greatest joy.

My Dad...who has met every obstacle that his cancer diagnosis threw at him with dignity, grace and a single-minded focus to kick it's ass.

My Mom...who's given a few ass kickings herself this year and held her head high while doing it. You go, girl

My siblings...for being the type of people I would choose as friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

He Came To Get Her

She passed so quickly, so suddenly. None of us were ready. But apparently she was more prepared than we were, with loose ends discreetly tied up.

My aunt, Kinny, felt certain that Grampa had decided it was time for her to come home. To be with him. Forever.

So we believe that it was he who came softly to her bedside and told her "kom, Mama".

And she did.

Two years ago today.

We love and miss you both.

Mary and John Versfeld

Forever in our hearts.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fourteen and Counting

Fourteen years ago today I thought we'd be living in the McMansion of our dreams by now. Today we live in the same house, the house our dreams created.

Fourteen years ago today I thought I'd be a captain of industry or a noted English professor. Today I have achieved so much more. I am the queen of my house.

Fourteen years ago today I hoped I would be a mother. I couldn't have imagined that three of the most delicious and inspiring creatures would be mine.

Fourteen years ago today I was proud of my little waist and skinny legs. Today I miss them, but am humbled by my stretch marks.

Fourteen years ago today I thought we would celebrate our 10th anniversary in Hawaii. We celebrated it at home with a preschooler and twins in diapers. I'm not sure I thought of any anniversaries past that.

Fourteen years ago I knew I loved him. I could not have known how that love would grow in the presence of his children. I'm still in awe.

I'm damn lucky.

So much has happened in fourteen years. Milestones, hurdles, ups and downs.

I wouldn't change a thing (except maybe that dress...and those eyebrows).

Monday, November 19, 2007

Vinnie The Magnificent

This morning he woke me up at 5:52am and wanted to get in bed with me. This means getting out of bed to offer him a lift up. He slipped in between the sheets and aligned himself with the small of my back and my ample behind, trapping me between him and the edge of the bed. And he didn't move.

Neither did I.

At 6:40am he decided he was too hot and needed a breath of fresh air, and jabbed my nose with his beak on the way out.

At 7:11am he nearly jumped out of his skin when the alarm went off. And again at 7:20am when the snooze went off. More of the same at 7:29am.

At 7:35am he could no longer ignore his bladder and thought better of my dozing back off. So he swished his tail in my general direction, walked a complete circle around my head, then sat on my face.

It's a good thing he's so damn cute.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Send My Regards To Perez Hilton

Having been a stay-at-home mom (sahm) for over eight years now, I have come to appreciate (deeply) the luxury of flexibility. For the most part, I've been able accomplish my goals at a pace that's suited both me and the rest of my brood. When household concerns (I didn't say 'chores', because 'chores' makes me sound too much like a hausfrau and, well, just...God forbid) aren't taken care of on any given day, I can put them on my to-do list for the next day.

Now, I don't know what it's like in the rest of the world, but mothers here are unfairly divided into camps...sahms vs. the wohms. The sahms and the wohms (work out of the home moms) are perceived to be in sharp contrast to each other and everyone seems to have an opinion as to who has it the toughest, who makes the greatest sacrifice. A debate with spirited emotions and fighting words.

A debate I do not intend to have here.

The only reason I even bring it up is to fish around for a little sympathy about my new balancing act as a wahm (work at home mom).

My new job as a phone whore is reeking havoc on the delicate balance I've worked so hard to create.

My line of work is your basic numbers game. The more phone calls I make, the more live human beings with which I'll have a conversation. Which, by the way, is turning out to be a challenge in itself. Doesn't anyone answer their phones anymore? Does EVERYONE just let their calls go to voicemail?

For the love of God, people...answer your effing phone!

Sorry...back to, well, me. The more human conversations, the more leads I can qualify and the more money I can put in my greedy paws.

I find myself sneaking down to our basement office, like a teenager after curfew, to make calls. This renewed phone addiction (I say renewed because if I didn't I'm pretty sure my dad would quickly remind me of the days my head was attached to the receiver) means there are fewer gaps in my schedule to accommodate my guilty pleasures. I used to interrupt my concerns (not chores) with the likes of Perez Hilton, online bargain hunting and blog browsing.

Now, not so much.

This was my schedule today.

7:15am - Up, shower, paint face/camouflage wrinkles.

8:00am - Cinnamon bun breakfast for offspring and daycare kid.

8:30am - Big kids on bus, breakfast dishes, get girls ready and dressed.

8:45am - Hair appt (highlights, turned out to be not nearly high enough).

10:00am - Quick stop at Tracie's for donuts (all I could think about was how many phone calls I could be making instead of sitting at her kitchen table. There is clearly something wrong with me).

10:45am - Rush home to make calls while girls visit with neighbor's grandson.

11:45am - Stop making calls, get girls home for lunch.

12:10pm - Take Libby to speech at school (promised I'd drive them instead of waiting for the bus).

12:45pm - Finally able to leave Maggie with kindergarten teacher, rush home to make calls.

2:00pm - Rush back to school for Thanksgiving party...which I forgot about, which I escaped from after muffins were served (side note..did the pilgrims eat the blueberry mini muffins? Or the native Americans?).

2:40pm - Back home, back on the phone (selling my soul to anyone who's willing to listen my enterprise document search schpiel).

3:30pm - Kids off the bus, make beds, vacuum and pick up before Steve gets home (damn, I'm good).

4:00pm - Start dinner prep.

4:20pm - Scrap dinner prep and head to Terri's for a glass of wine and homemade salsa.

5:00pm - Back in my own kitchen to make and eat dinner (steak, butternut squash, Spanish rice and salad).

5:45pm - Dishes, then back on the phone to the suckers in California.

6:45pm - Realize how unorganized my work stuff is, quick trip to Staples for binders.

7:05pm - Kids in bath.

7:30pm - Start this blog entry, only to give in and let the girls use the laptop for a quick game on Webkinz.

8:00pm - Girls brush teeth, send Steve off to read to them and tackle the bedtime shenanigans. Jack is only 30 minutes behind. Tick, tock, tick, tock.

8:05pm - Call another wine-providing neighbor with sob story about forgetting to stop at the liquor store after Staples. Borrow one large glass of Cabernet and place it safely behind the microwave, ready for my no-wine-before-nine diet policy.

8:15pm - Fold two loads of laundry from family room floor, place neatly on love seat to be put away tomorrow morning (shut it up, I said).

8:50pm - Finish blog entry.

Wow. I'm exhausted. Tomorrow is more of the same, except there's half a day of school and three parent/teacher conferences.


9:25pm - Stop editing this entry before Cabernet thinks I stood it up.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

"Mommy, I brushed my teef two times this morning. 'Cuz I don't know if I brushed my teef yesterday." -Libby (who discovered the new toothpaste this morning).

"Mommy, I fink you growed a helpful baby when I came out" -Maggie (making sure I was noticing her exaggerated attempts to help me).

"She's not right" -Jack (applied equally to either sister).

Awwww. Isn't that so precious?

They are precious, the very lights of my being.

But they are driving me bonkers.

Before I go any further, I know there are a lot of parents out there who'd trade their problems for ours. We have no right to complain.

But da-yum. Enough already! They have come to the point where they completely disregard anything I say, especially (mostly) when they're playing with each other.

The root cause of our problem is that these kids like each other entirely too much. Make no mistake we're hear our share of fighting, but generally speaking we can't hear ourselves think over the sound of FUN. They each think they are the funniest critters alive and live to make each other laugh.

And as if obnoxious laughter weren't enough, we have over-the-top sound effects. Every activity, every game, every WWE family room smack down includes loud, unrelenting aaaahhhhssss, boooooommmmss and uuuuuggggghhhhs. Sometimes I want to jam pencils in my ears so that I may be alone with my thoughts for just a second.

Personal space has absolutely no meaning to any of them. They are in each other's shit ALL THE TIME. Wrestling, touching, poking. ALL THE TIME! They even watch TV as a bizarre set of Siamese triplets. More often than not, they are crammed into the recliner in a jumble of elbows and skinny legs.

So, where am I going with this?

Okay, my problem with the kids isn't really that they are too close or like each other too much. Rather, my issue is that when they're playing with each other they become completely deaf. And stupid. Together. At the same time.

They do not listen to me. Not to my quiet, firm indoor voice. Or to my shrill this-may-be-the-last-face-you-see voice.

They are united in their defiance. They are having too much fun to care.

As time passes, the pack mentality seems to grow and it's clearly us against them at this point. Most days it feels like they have the upper hand. A word to the wise, though. You never let on that you're feeling outnumbered. They smell fear. They sense hesitation. They pray on weakness.

It has come to my attention that part of the reason they don't listen at times is because I threaten too much. No, it's not that I don't follow through on my threats, because I do. I think it's because I have a very flexible definition of compliance, and will accept that the kids have stopped doing X, but fail to recognize that they're still doing Y which is still in opposition to what I originally asked. Got it?

For example. Watching TV. All three piled into one chair, jostling, needling each other. I separate them and threaten to send them to their rooms if they touch each other again. So, they throw pillows across the room at each other.

See? Different behaviour (or is it misbehaviour?). New threat? Or do they go their rooms? You tell me.

Again, I'm not complaining. I know I'm lucky that my kids dig each other. I'm lucky to have three healthy, active kids. I count my blessings daily.

And lest you start to think I'm raising a pack of wild animals, they are not. They behave impeccably at other people's houses and at school. In fact, I am often complimented on my children's manners and consideration for others. They give me more reason to be proud than anything else. It's just at home, when they're in the heat of a good time that they disregard everything I've tried so hard to beat into the crevices of their squishy gray matter.

We have successfully implemented a reward system in the past (you can get them to do just about anything for something shiny). It worked for a time, but I lost focus. And they started saving too much birthday money and my piddly quarters lost their impact.

This time I'm making a chart. A big one. With chores. Lots of chores. Ways to earn rewards will be clearly defined. Behaviours that force me to withdraw rewards will also be crystal clear. They will live and die by the chart. I may even have it laminated...give that chart a sense of permanence. They will each have a reward jar (someone mentioned a Star I'm copying the idea). We'll decorate some wooden stars from Joann's...paint, glitter, glue and stickers. We'll go nuts.

Their progress will be recognized and charted (and reported here, of course).

Crap. That sounds like a lot of work.

Maybe I should just start threatening to jam pencils in my ears.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Where Dreams Come True

Disney World. Where do I start?

I've kind of been avoiding blogging about Disney because I couldn't decide if it was going to be short and sweet...

"We had fun. Here we are with Mickey."


"Holy crap! It's going to take a whole lot of bandwidth to recount the entire week".

(And I don't even know what bandwidth is).

So, let's just get started. We left on Saturday, September 15th...only 2 short weeks after school started for the kids. Which, right there, made it the best vacation. Ever. We spent the six months prior to leaving researching, planning and generally going overboard in our preparations...determined to make this a vacation of lifetime!

We had stumbled on this fantastic deal earlier this year...and managed to get ourselves on the Disney Dining Plan for FREE...breakfast, lunch and dinner...on the Mouse! The value of this freebie is considerable when you take into account the mind numbing cost of food on the Disney Resort property. I'd have choked on every bite if I were forced to pay the menu price for the five of us.

Moving forward...

We arrived to beautiful weather and immediately enjoyed the fruits of all my planning labors as we explored our hotel and some of the "no tickets required" areas of the property. We had park tickets for five days only and didn't want to waste them on our travel days.

Lunch, boat rides, awesome pools, soap with Mickey on it.

What more could we ask for?

We capped off our first perfect day at Chef Mickeys...dinner with all the biggies...Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy...etc.

And was magical.

The kids were absolutely drunk with the magic.

Their eyes lit up every time a character approached our table. They hugged, they waved, they shook hands and even parted with a kiss or two. During the character guided sing-along, they lost their tiny minds and shrieked with glee.

Glee, I say.

They did not, however, eat. Well, Jack ate. That boy can put away some food. He wore a path from his chair to the buffet tables. The girls...not so much.

"Maggie, will eat your free food. Understand?"

We went to bed that night, 60% of us full of free grub, 100% of us full of magic.

It was the perfect way to start the trip. Perfect.

The next day was Sunday. The day we were to cast our mortal eyes upon the House of Mouse. The day that everyone in a 200 mile radius decided to visit the Magic Kingdom. We waited a ridiculously long time for our bus and eventually decided to heed the misguided advice of another idiot tourist who suggested we take the bus to Epcot Center and the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.


An hour and a half later we finally arrived at Cinderella's castle. By this time the girls had leaked all their magic on the monorail and we had to fork over the equivalent of a week's worth of food (not Disney food...I would have shot myself) for a double stroller. Whatever. We were on our way!

And it was hot. Face melting hot. Motherfucking hot. And the people. The thousands of people. The know-it-all locals who couldn't find something better to do on the first official full day of my vacation. Lots of people.

Deep breath. Magic, people, magic.

We quickly took in a show...Mickey, Minnie, blah, blah, blah...sweating like beasts under those costumes. was spectacular and we were duly impressed.

We then managed to get on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride without incident and it was awe inspiring. Those Disney folks are no slouches. Simply amazing. And since Johnny Depp may someday be the kids' stepfather, I made sure they paid close attention.

By now we were more than ready for free food. Again. But this time we waited in line for almost an hour (which is about 2 1/2 weeks in kid time) for hamburgers that tasted like shoe leather.

And it started to rain. Oh good, maybe it will cool down a bit.

Or maybe the nonstop rain will stir up the mother of all saunas and we'll spend the rest of the afternoon slowly fusing with the scorching asphalt, concrete and magic.

And standing in line. For everything.

I kept looking at Steve to see if I could predict the many ways he was planning to kill me.

Why did I have to be so pushy about Disney World? Sweet Jesus, WHY?

Even with the free food, this trip had cost us a pretty penny. It ain't cheap flying five people to the nirvana of all theme parks. ain't cheap outfitting five people in matching t-shirts (which I think may have added an element of torture to my certain death at this point. I did, after all, MAKE him wear it).

BUT...I'm happy to report that after our first disastrous day at the Magic Kingdom, the weather became more tolerable and predictable, the Floridians went back to work picking oranges and we enjoyed what I would easily call the best vacation of our married lives.

We made it to all four major parks and rode the rides without languishing in long lines. We exploited and abused the Dining Plan until we couldn't fit in another crumb. We baked in the Florida sun and took advantage of all the spectacular amenities of our resort. We chased down characters for autographs and made nuisances of ourselves in every gift shop.

And we did our best to expose the Disney secret. There wasn't a cast member (employee to the rest of us outsiders) who failed to impress. Polite, eager to help and hell bent on preserving the magic.

How do they do it?

And the kids. The kids were a joy. It was a true pleasure to experience Disney World through their eyes. They made every penny worth spending. Watching their smiles made every effort worth it's toll.

I couldn't take my eyes off them.

Those seven days at Walt Disney World were the most exhausting of my entire life.

And I can't wait to go back.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Can I Please Speak To...

Hey folks. First things first. You'll notice that the page shouldn't take as long to load now. I've changed the format of the posts so that each one appears on it's own page. Which means that if you've missed a few days you'll need to click on archive links to the left of this post to catch up. Which means you're not checking regularly for new posts and, er...whattup with that?

And how 'bout those comments? Oh yeah. Those.


Just a regular day for me. Sort of. Sort of the third day of training for my new job. WHAT? I didn't tell you I got a job? Yes, I am now someone or some persons other than my children.

I'm working for a company the does lead generation for other companies. I am, in effect, checking the pulse of potential customers to see if there is any interest in hearing from the people who really know what the hell they're talking about. I will be paid based on the number of customers who are willing to talk to the product geeks.

It's glorified telemarketing, if you ask me, and that frightens me a bit. If there's such a thing as phone kharma, I believe that there'll be a lot of people telling me to go fuck myself and hanging up on me. And that won't be good for my bottom line.


Let's see, what else?

We saw our first snow flakes of the year today. It was right after Jack (*) left for school, so Maggie and Libby were still in their pajamas. They rushed into their boots and out into the front yard to catch snow flakes on their tongues. Isn't so precious? And shouldn't there be pictures of such cuteness on my brand, spankin' new blog? Yes, there should...but I'm a moron and didn't think of it until the blizzard was over.

The blizzard. We had about 20 flakes. And Maggie and Libby were PISSED that they didn't have a snow day (**). It was a balmy 37 degrees farenheit today and I still had to threaten the girls with severe punishment (sitting on their beds watching me vacuum maybe) if they didn't wear their winter coats to school.

Why is that? Why do kids not feel the cold? I think it's just weird. And goes totally against my dressing-for-winter policy I adopted when they were babies. If they weren't sweating, they weren't warm enough.

Maybe I ruined them. Maybe their internal thermostats are permanently damaged from overheating. Whatever. Just add that to the long list of issues their therapists will have to clean up later.

(*) I've given up on the pseudonyms. I'll enter the witness relocation program if anyone figures out where to find them...or me.

(**) A snow day, for the South Africans, is when there's too much snow to go to school. It doesn't happen often, but when it does it's like a gift from the weather gods.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Laundry around these parts is constant and relentless. And truth be told, I don't really mind doing it. I kind of like folding...and I'm pretty good at it. BUT...I can't stand putting it away. Can't stand it. Getting Steve's and my clothes put away isn't so bad and I can't really let it pile up. Our master bedroom is on the first floor and I prefer it not look like a hot mess ALL the time. Our walk-in-closet is less than five paces from the washer and dryer...and I'm not that lame.

But the kids clothes is another ball of wax. It's always folded immediately, stacked neatly in individual piles (sometimes I really go nuts and stack clothes by like items...jeans with jeans, sweatshirts with sweatshirts, undies with undies...well, you get it). My neat little piles then go the love seat in the family room, because I've usually convinced myself that I'm ready to turn over a new leaf and will get all those little piles right the next load is done and folded.

The next morning (be quiet), I typically move the piles back to the dryer...this time to the top. I find they're much easier to ignore once the laundry doors are shut. When I can no longer balance another item of clothing on my delicate fabric tower, I finally take it rest on the spare bed for another day or two.

And this is exactly where my two precious daughters decided to park their carcasses this morning to watch Captain Sparrow play video games. With nary a care in the world, the two of them frolicked (I can only assume) among the lavender scented big girl panties and carefully folded blouses and trousers (I'm just kidding...t-shirts and jeans).

A few hours later, when I blew my stack at the jumble of clothes on and around the bed, both gave me that vacant, what-the-fuck-is-she-screaming-about look...and lied to me.

"Wasn't me".

"Wasn't me".

Their punishment, in case you're wondering, was to march to their room, sit quietly on their beds and watch me refold all the clothes and put them away. I know I should have made them fold everything again, but my OCD would have kicked into warp speed and things might have gotten bloody.

Lady Liberty stoically reclined on her bed, pretending to ignore me and my stupid clothes. Miss Thatcher, on the other hand, lost her shit. She writhed on her bed in a grand mal seizure of protest, screaming at me and trying everything possible to get out of her punishment (my God...punishment in my house is lying on your bed and watching your mother work?! I have GOT to rethink this parenting approach).

As is usually the case with her, I tried not to rise to the challenge. I tried to speak calmly, rationally and firmly. And every time she opened her yap, I stopped folding, making it clear that SHE was the one extending their punishment.

And still she shrieked...until finally I shrieked back.


....."the longer I'm going to take to put these away".....

**giggle giggle**


....."before I really lose my ever lovin' mind"....

**giggle giggle**


.....i do not think this is funny.....

**giggle giggle**

And that's when I noticed what Lady Liberty was playing with. Courtesy of Gramma and Grampa. A monkey...that records your voice and plays it back at the touch of a button. Let me rephrase that. It records your mother and your twin sister coming apart at the seams, while you nestle between the sheets, suffering through your cruel and unusual punishment.


.....for the love of God.....

Monday, November 5, 2007

Speaking of Meat

Last night I was lying on the carpet, mostly to stretch out, but partly to get away from the feet wrestling between Captain Sparrow and Miss Thatcher. Lady Liberty saw her chance to get some snuggle time and joined me on the floor. She was warm and cuddly, and I lay there quietly, basking in the glow of motherhood.

After a few minutes she got bored and rolled over so that she was now lying perpendicular to me and started kneading my butt with her feet (I get no respect). The kneading quickly turned to kicking, at which time that sweet little angel face said to me, "Mommy, your butt has a lot of meat".

There you have it. A lot of meat. In my butt.

I should have sent her to her room to bask in the glow of don't-ever-mention-the-size-of-your-mother's-heiney-again, but I couldn't stop laughing long enough to tell her off.

And really, when it comes right down to it, she's right. There's some junk in the trunk to be sure!

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Box

Most of you know of Steve's prowess in the woods, and of the magnificent mounts he has tucked away in his man cave in the basement. This year is no exception...he's having another trophy buck mounted by a local taxidermist. BUT...this time he was adamant that we use more of the venison instead of handing it out to anyone who'll take it.

We toyed with the idea of buying a mincer and jerky extruder (he says all men enjoy a good jerky once in a while), but that sounded a whole lot like work, so we scrapped that idea. We thought of buying a sausage maker, but that sounded too much like a commitment (he says no man wants to play with his sausage for that long). So what do you get when you're too lazy to mince, dehydrate and case your own meat?

A biltong box!

Biltong, for those not in the know, is a South African delicacy. It's a spiced, salted and air dried hunk of meat. It's texture and appearance doesn't vary much from traditional American jerky, but it's taste is unique and addicting. So, Steve, my Italian Stallion, and Captain Sparrow set out to build a biltong box. They carefully did their research on the best method of construction, while I did my research on the best combination of spices. Our maiden biltong voyage went off with a hitch. Lucky for us, we had, not one, but two biltong experts visiting and both assured us that with a little tweaking here and there we were well on our way to making excellent biltong. Yes, it was lekker, indeed!

But Steve is not convinced. He claims to like it, but hasn't touched it since his first taste. He says he prefers something with a more distinct flavor, like teriyaki (TERIYAKI! I think I just heard my Grampa roll over in his grave).

So, dear family in South Africa, please weigh in here. Can you suggest a way to flavor our biltong? Is there a way to infuse it with a teriyaki flair? If I can't convince Steve that biltong is a meaty gift from God, I'm going to have to make it by myself next time and I can't afford to lose a typing digit when I'm on the cusp of my blog writing career. I also don't want to look at that sad, empty biltong box in my basement for much longer.

Please don't make me beg.

Crazy Bird People

Well, my house is woefully empty again. Dad left last Saturday at a very respectable 9:30am and Mom left yesterday at a disgusting 4:45am. Damn, that went too fast. So I was tired and miserable yesterday...rushed the girls onto the bus at 12:30pm and headed directly to bed. Once I snuggled in, I drifted in and out of consciousness for almost three hours (a little slice of heaven) and after a good night's rest last night I'm feeling quite human again.

The week and a half with my parents here could not have been better. It was the first time I'd seen my Dad since his cancer diagnosis in late May and it did my heart good to see him, to hug him...and to mother him a bit. Given the magnitude of his surgery and the preceding chemo/radiation, he is doing remarkably well. I was prepped ahead of time for his slight of frame, but found that he really looks great. He is a bit thin (compared to, say, a year ago), but looks sharp and fit. And really, it's nothing that a little pasta and some rum raisin ice cream can't fix.
He spent the better part of his week here soaking in the chaos of my house while reading and crosswording, and I spent the better part of my week resisting the impulse to hover around...and cut up his meat for him. He insists that despite his quieter than normal disposition, he is fine. More than fine. He and Mom are a formidable team and have come to this point with renewed respect, love and admiration for each other. They are hell bent on getting back to normal and it appears that, little by little, they are doing exactly that.

Mom arrived on Tuesday after spending the previous 48 hours awake (between work and an early flight). She didn't take long to recover and contribute to the craziness. It would be impolite to tell you how many boxes of merlot we drank or how many calories we consumed, but I can tell you that none of us lost a pound, and we should all have healthier hearts...and perhaps thinner blood.

The kids behaved just well enough to ensure that Gramma and Grampa will come back again. They, too, are missing having the house full, missing their grandparents terribly. It was the perfect do-over for the week Dad had in April (when the pain in the arm was still just a gigantic pain in the ass) and the 'rents are more resolved than ever to make it back up to this neck of the woods in 2008.

One of the highlights of their visit was a lunch we had down at the Erie Canal in Pittsford, NY. The scenery was picturesque and the weather crisp and decidedly autumn like. We had the most amazing meal at Simply Crepes (crepes, crepes and more crepes), browsed for a bit in the gift shops along the canal and eventually ended up hangin' with the birds. The canal was filled with ducks who had not yet ventured south and the sidewalk was covered with humongous pigeons who clearly had not missed a meal. Mom and Dad shelled out about $5 for little brown sacks of bird food and spent the next half hour or so engrossed in the simple delight of the birds. To the casual onlooker, they probably looked like crazy bird people amid the flock, with the occassional pigeon on their heads and ducks eating from their hands. But to me, they just looked happy.

They laughed effortlessly and smiled naturally and quickly. It was as if, momentarily, they were carefree. For that small slice of time along the canal, there was no cancer, no aftermath, no stress. Just the birds and the easy quiet of happiness.

Those fat pigeons gave my parents the gift of a brief and profound reprieve from the extraordinary toll of the last six months. They gave Mom and Dad the gift of living in the moment, and me the gift of photographing it.

And man, it felt great.