Friday, July 31, 2009

Out of the mouth of Peanut

Peanut is at that funny age where the things she says are often unintentionally hilarious. A few of her more recent gems are especially noteworthy.

If you ask point to her elbow and say "What's this?" she'll say "Bell-bow. Ding! Ding! Ding!"

When she wants to hold BabyGirl she shrieks "I want to hold it!" Is that a sign she views BabyGirl as an object equivalent to her dollies as opposed to an actual person?

She doesn't have to go pee-pee or poops. She "has to go peeps."

You don't take her shoes off. She asks that you "Take off-a my shoes-on." Same with clothes. "Take off-a my clothes-on."

And all doors are called "gates" because all we say around here is "Close the gate!" referring, of course, to the baby gate.

Hard to believe just a short while ago she barely spoke at all.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Target near me has gone 75% off on lots of toys. RUN!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


There is, rightfully so, this theory, or maybe it is even fact, that family dinners are important. Meaning that mom, dad, and kids should all sit around the table, TV off, no distractions and just have a nice dinner. They should talk about their day, discuss what to do during the upcoming weekend, make family chit chat.

Then there is family dinner at our house, which resembles more of a war zone than a dinner table.

Last night was a prime example. It should have been EASY. Dinner was from the crock pot and it was one that everybody likes. Some sliced up watermelon, a side of bread with butter for everyone and we should have been good to sit down and enjoy.

Except StinkyMan and Peanut staged a rebellion. They simply were not going to eat. Not any of it.

And Husband decided he was going to be very fatherly and MAKE them eat it.

Moms, bear with me here, because I know you can already see where this is going.

How do you make a kid eat?

Yeah, you don't.

So now, our lovely, easy family dinner has one baby trying to climb out of her high chair, a crying toddler, a pouting 4 year old, a mad dad, a six year old who is trying to sneak as many watermelon slices as possible in the chaos, and me, trying to fix it all.

Good times.

It went on like this for 20 minutes. Curly eventually left the table, belly full of dinner and her chin glistening with watermelon juice. I removed BabyGirl from the equation because she just wanted OUT. That left Mad Dad, Pouty StinkyMan and Crying Peanut at the table.

A deal was hammered out. They had to eat some of it and eat it nicely before they could leave the table. We are not a "Clean your plate" kind of family, but you do have to sit and eat some of it.

20 more minutes went by before it was done. StinkyMan pouted all the way, but he ate a good bit and stopped complaining. Then, at long last Peanut took her final bite. She's simply too tiny to not eat. She can't afford to skip meals.

It was harrowing and exhausting and messy and loud, but dammit we had our family dinner.

Such as it was.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Here Comes the Bride

Saturday my sister in-law and I volunteered for an amazing organization called Brides Against Breast Cancer. Their purpose is to raise money to grant final wishes to Stage 4 breast cancer patients...women who will lose their fight against the disease. Designers, bridal salons and even individual brides donate both new and used dresses to the cause and then they are sold to the brides at discounted prices, generating pure profit for the wishes. An example would be the $3000 dress (brand new!) that was sold for $799.

We showed up at noon, were given badges, some general instructions and let loose. My first bride was a darling girl named Kim, who had no real clue what she wanted and wanted to try on just about everything. When we put on the third dress, I knew her search was over. She walked to the mirror, hey eyes welled up and her hand flew to her mouth. I fluffed her train and grabbed a veil to complete the look. She really started to cry then and couldn't stop looking at herself. She just kept saying "I love it. I just love it." She tried on a few more, but nothing compared to that dress. And when she tried it on for the second time and cried again, she said "I'm done. This is it." It was a thrill for me to know that I had helped her find an integral part of her special day.

When my sister in law and I had first arrived we had spotted among the dresses a true Cinderella style ball gown. It was gorgeous, a not quite white with silver encrusted jewels on the top and the bottom hem, silver clusters placed strategically on on the bodice and bottom of the dress. It was truly fit for a princess, and we even commented on how it looked like it was for a fairytale wedding.

A gal came in and knew exactly what she wanted. She wanted something straight and flowy, kind of sexy, very modern. She tried on a few, but nothing was to her liking. She pulled a couple other gowns of the rack, progressively more traditional, a little bit fancier, a little bit poofier.

And then her volunteer pulled the Cinderella dress. I saw her bring it over and I could not wait to see it on.

It was like the air got sucked out of the room. So perfect was that dress, so beautiful was that bride, that every eye in the place was on her. Her mother was instantly in tears, as was her sister. Then she got to the mirror and took her own breath away. All the color drained from her face and her eyes welled up.

My bride looked at me and said "That's the one. She has that look."

And she did. And it was. She cried all the way to the cash register, all the way to the car I suspect. She was beyond thrilled with her dream gown, far from what she thought she was going to buy, but absolutely perfect nonetheless.

All told that day alone (it was a 3 day event) we raised over $10,000 toward granting wishes. I'm so honored to have been a part of it and would do it again in a hot minute.

If you want to be part of a fun day and a great cause or if you want to donate your wedding gown check out to see if they are coming soon to a city near you. I'll be keeping my eyes open for their return to our area.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Lof You Mama

I got my first spontaneous, unprompted "I love you" from Peanut the other day and it really made me think about how it's true that it's the little things that matter the most.

We were in the pool. Nothing special. It was a very typical summer day. The other kids were swimming around, she'd been jumping off the side into my arms. She loves the pool.

I put her down on the steps so she could climb out to jump again and as I turned to go back to the side to catch her she said "I lof you, Mama" and hurled herself (thankfully I was looking at her) into my arms to give me a big hug.

It was unexpected and sweet and it made my day. Actually, it made my week. It was the best feeling ever to hear that little voice and get that big hug. The most special words prompted by nothing special at all.

I will treasure it always. I will always remember the way she sounded, the way she hugged me, her wet hair sticking to her cheeks, the way the water lapped around us as everything else faded away.

I lof you too my little Peanut.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Quite a while back, in the Deal of the Day section, I linked you to a site selling vanilla beans and I told you to buy some because I would soon be teaching you how to make homemade vanilla.

You didn't buy any did you?

*sigh* OK. Here's the company:

Buy the "shorts" of either Tahitian or Bourbon. It really doesn't matter much, in my opinion.

Now, while you wait for your vanilla beans to arrive, go to the store and buy a fifth of Vodka (750ml) It does not have to be the best of the best. I've used Smirnoff in the past, this time I'm using some brand I've never heard of from Walmart that cost me less than $9.

These are the things you need to make your vanilla:

So that would be your vodka, your beans, a knife, a cutting board and a paper bag. You'll need your sink too, but I figured if you have an Internet connection, chances are good you have a sink and so I didn't need to put it in the picture.

Wash your beans, then split them open, leaving the tops and the bottoms closed, essentially just splitting the middle, like so:

Got it? Easy, right?

Now unscrew the cap on your bottle and dump the beans in. My bottle overflowed a little. No biggie. I actually ended up dumping a tiny bit more out so my beans would move a little when I shook the bottle.

Now, put it in a paper bag (mine is custom decorated by Peanut. Yours cannot possibly be this fancy) and stick it in the darkest corner of your pantry.

Looks like a wino parked his loot in your pantry, no? And that is a dark corner, I swear, but the flash was on. Between the bag and the pantry, the bottle should be nicely in the dark.

Shake it up every few days. Really, even if you forget, it's OK. It's pretty hard to mess this up. Just shake it up when you do remember.

So what is the point of this? I mean, if vanilla comes conveniently in a bottle at the same darn store where you bought the vodka, why go through all of this trouble?

3 big reasons:

1) It's not really any trouble. The actual making of the vanilla takes 5 whole minutes. You can find 5 minutes for this, can't you?

2) It makes your baking taste so freakin' delicious. Seriously, my neighbor comes over and steals my vanilla ALL THE TIME because it's so good and makes his baking super yummy. He pays me in baked goods. I finally just gave him a package of beans and some vodka. He was the happiest senior citizen I've ever seen. I was getting too fat for that trend to continue.

3) Do you know how much really good vanilla costs in the store? Holy cow, is it expensive! Let me put it this way: if you search the net for pure vanilla extract, you will find that just 8oz can run you as much as $34! The cheapest I found was $15 for 8oz and that is about what I paid to make just over 25oz of completely awesome vanilla extract. Even the cheapo stuff at your local grocery store (read the label, it has water in it and maybe other things as well) isn't inexpensive. Making your own is a much, much better deal.

You have to be a little patient. The absolute earliest it will be ready to use is after 8 weeks. The longer it sits the better. I have some in my pantry right now that has been sitting for 2 years and it is DIVINE! By the time I get to the bottom of that bottle this new bottle will have been sitting for six months at least.

This will be perfect just time for your holiday baking this year. OR buy cute little bottles and give it as gifts in the beginning of the holiday season for other people's baking. Your friends and family will be so impressed with your kitchen wizardry and only you will know just how super easy it really was.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Take this quiz!

Grab a pen and write:

"She sells sea shells by the sea shore" in cursive.

Now click the link below and see why. It's interesting.

I am open to the world around me and like to socialize, well adjusted and adaptable, spontaneous and relaxed yet skeptical and unswayed by emotional arguments. I actually think that sounds about right.

What are your results?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Peanut has become, undeniably, a two year old. She's been 2 since the end of February, but oh my goodness have the proverbial "Terrible Twos" arrived in full force. This is new for me. My other kids didn't hit terribleness until they were three.

"Peanut, you want a peanut butter sandwich?"


"You want a banana?"

"Yeah!" Hands clapping; we love bananas.

Until the receipt of actual banana.

"Noooooo! I want buttah sammich!"

"You want a peanut butter sandwich?"

Sobbing toddler "Yeah."

"But you said you wanted a banana"

"NO! NO 'NANA! BUTTAH SAMMICH!" this is accompanied by a move I call "The Starfish", where she throws herself down onto the floor arms and legs splayed out, like, duh, a starfish.

"Oh my! That's not so good." and experienced Mommy walks away. I don't give in to tantrums.

Once she realizes Mommy has moved on, she picks herself up off the floor, but only glares at the banana I left on the counter. She is almost as stubborn as her mama. Almost.

"I hungwy" she says, sidling up to me in the most pathetic manner.

"You want your banana?"

"No!" This time I get the arm cross and the pissy little head tilt.

"OK then." I turn back to my TV program.

"I want milk!" she decides to forgo the food battle and ask for a drink instead.

"What do you say?"


"Oh, very nice. I'll get you some milk."

"I want chocowit milk"

"No, no chocolate milk. Just white milk."

"NO!" accompanied by an angry little dance. "CHOCOWIT MILK!!!!"

"White milk or nothing."


"OK, no milk then." and I put the jug back in the refrigerator.

She considers this for a moment, then spies the offending banana again "I hungwy."

"You want your banana?"

"NO!" arms crossed, chin up, angry stare in place. "I want buttah sammich!"

"Eat your banana and then you can have a sandwich."


"You know what? NAP TIME!" Mommy is done.


"Yes. One day you will learn, one way or the other, Mommy always wins. Goodnight, Peanut!" She is deposited in her crib.


"Yes." I say and close her door.

Round One goes to Mommy. There will, I'm sure, be many, many more rounds.

I've always said age three is worse than age two.

I am afraid of Peanut's age three. Very, very afraid.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Any man can be a father. It takes a special man to be a dad.

So goes the saying. I'd like to add one more line:

But only the best of the best are Daddies.

Thanks to my Daddy. He knows why. Love you!


I've been saving for a new couch. Ideally new couches. They aren't a "must have" they are a "want" and so I decided to just save, little bits at a time, by selling stuff on eBay and Craigslist. Just last week my total hit $400. I began to imagine I was in striking distance of some new furniture. Not top of the line, not my dream couch, just something that looks nice, sits comfortably and isn't the worn out, stained terrors my current couches are.

And then the air conditioning in my car gave out. In California. In the summer. Nice.

I suppose it could be argued that air in a car is also not a "must have" but really, it is. I drive a Tahoe with 4 kids, which means we use the seats in the far back, with windows that don't open. And even if they did open the weather often passes 100 degrees here. Not exactly cooling to drive around with the windows down.

We are still building our emergency fund back up from all the medical bills we incurred last year, so the only real money we have is, of course, my couch fund.

It hurts. I was so close. But I think this is the nature of being a grown up. Yes I want a couch. I really want 2 couches, or maybe some kind of new set. But we need a/c in the car. And so what I want will be pushed aside for what we need. We will not charge it. We will not borrow it. We will just pay for it.

And I will wait for the sting of disappointment to disappear while I think of more things to sell.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cooking fun

Good Mommy came for a while this weekend. It had been a while since my kids had seen her. Since summer vacation Frazzled and Crazed Mommy seems to have taken up residence in our house. But we had guests and in an effort to entertain the kids and produce something usable we made these:

Cute little bread bears to go nicely with our spaghetti and meatballs.

Here's what I did/used:

Pillsbury Grand Buttermilk Biscuit 10 pack (the kind in the tube that pops when you open them) which made one bear per kid. I had 5 kids of bear eating age.

One greased cookie sheet.

Roll 5 of the biscuits into balls. Break the other biscuits up into bits, rolling smaller balls for the heads, small balls for the legs and arms, tiny balls for the ears and itty bitty balls for the nose.

I baked them for 10 minutes. You should not. My bears were a little on the "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" side of things. You want your bear to be more Pooh Bear colored. Maybe 7 or 8 minutes? I'm guessing, though.

They were a big hit and despite being a little crunchy, were quite tasty with butter. The children, as I think most kids would, had a great time at the table eating a bear appendage and then saying things like "AHHHHHH! MY LEG!" At one point they were dipping their bears in red sauce and shrieking about bear blood. Not quite the direction I wanted dinner to go, but they all ate happily and sometimes that is all you can ask for.

Thanks to Melissa at Bloggin It for the inspiration! We'll be making these again!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I'm starting to realize that I am never again going to be well rested.

I've always been a night owl. My friend Lisa used to have to kick me out so she could go to bed because I would have talked all night if I could.

These days I love the peace the night brings. Kids are asleep, house is tidied and I can do WHATEVER I WANT.

What I should do is go to bed. But I don't. I just veg out and do nothing and it is awesome. I might watch mindless TV or surf the net or both! I could create or craft, but even that is too purposeful some nights.

The exchange for this is that I am tired. Although of course a baby who hasn't yet mastered sleeping through the night and children who wouldn't know sleeping in if it bit them in their tushies don't help. And then there is the whole having 4 kids thing in general.

Truthfully I think I have forgotten what it feels like to be well rested and when I look into my crystal ball I don't see anytime soon when I might become reacquainted with good rest. I envision the very first day BabyGirl goes to school and I think about maybe going to bed after I drop her off. I'm sure something will foil that plan, but it sounds wonderful.

Think I can make it 2 more years? Right now, I'm saying no way. I'm so sleepy....zzzzzzzzzzz.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Yesterday was the service and memorial for my friend. It was a hard day. Another friend who was there said "It's like pulling a band aid off an old wound and making it bleed again. I was just starting to process it and be OK, and then today makes me go back and start all over again in the process."

A good assessment, I thought, and a necessary step. It was both brutal and beautiful and a good celebration of who she was. There were, of course, a lot of tears, my own among them, but there was laughter too, a true testimony to who she was. She always had a lot of laughter in her. I was honored twice over, once to have the opportunity to speak at the service, as well has having the words to my blog entry about her read aloud by the pastor. Many kind words were spoken, many hugs were given and received, many stories were told.

It is time to move forward. Life is short. That's something I've heard all my life. I think, only now, do I really understand how true that is. I wish I could have learned that lesson in a less painful way, but I appreciate the lesson none the less. It's important. And if just one person learns that lesson from reading my words, then I will know that Rochelle, yet again, has touched someone else's heart like she did my own. And that would be something she would be pleased to know.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mario Kart Waa

Not Wii. Waa. As in boo-hoo-hoo, bicker, bicker, bicker, tantrum, tantrum, tantrum.

I hate Mario Kart. Can't stand it. A) I stink at it. B) all my kids do is fight about it. Who is going to be what, which race they are going to do, whether or not they are going to take turns one at a time or play together. Or worse, one wants to play and the other does not. And C) It's just loud and annoying.

But the worst thing is being told by my son that I can't play with him because I am not good enough. Nice. Little punk. Sadly, he is not wrong. I am not as good as he is. And although I tried to "Oprah" the situation and make it a teachable moment by talking about "practice makes perfect" and whatnot he remains steadfast in his belief that I be banned from Mario Kart Wii because I'm "terrible" at it. He'd rather not play at all than play with me.

Curly on the other hand has offered to teach me how to play. I think she's looking for someone to help her kick her brother's Mario Kart heiny.

I think instead, we'll just turn it off. Going outside and enjoying the unseasonably cool July weather sounds like the best option of all.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Whir and peace

There is one household item that I cannot live without. OK, make that two. My crockpot is one. The other one that brings me great domestic happiness is my Roomba.

I had the terrible misfortune recently of Roomby's battery giving out, forcing me to live without him for a while. The floors were littered with crumbs, the carpet missing the stripes of a freshly vacuumed rug. It was a danger zone for BabyGirl with small things galore, just the size of choking hazards, everywhere she went. I could have dragged out the regular vacuum I suppose, but I think I was too depressed about Roomby to do it the old fashioned way. Or maybe that was laziness. Whatever.

BUT the new battery has arrived and my inner peace has returned. All is right with the world now that I can hear Roomby whirring away doing my bidding. Roomby doesn't sass. He doesn't complain. He doesn't say "But I didn't make the mess!" I simply push the button and Roomby turns around in a few circles like a puppy chasing it's tail, and gets to work. Domestic peace has been restored, my floors are pretty and BabyGirl can crawl without playing Russian Roulette with small objects and her trachea. Aaaahhhhhhhh.

Now if I could just find a laundry folding machine......

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Just stuff I'm thinking about:
  • Why can't my baby sleep through the night?
  • Who will Curly's teacher be next year?
  • Is it worth paying for swim lessons for a kid who doesn't like the pool?
  • If it's a laptop, why is it too hot to sit with it on my lap? Right now, it's a pillowtop
  • If I go to see The Hangover, will it actually be good, or will the hype be bigger than the movie?
  • Can I pull off a fancy tiered cake for BabyGirl's first birthday in 2 months?
  • I can't believe she'll be one in 2 months!
  • How do you become friends with other grown-ups? Is it weird to invite over a family you hardly know so you can get to know them better?
  • Why do I feel guilty not going to a family reunion with a part of the family who has basically cut us off anyway? If they can't be bothered to include us for weddings, birth announcements and Christmas cards, why should we attend a reunion with them?
  • What's next for Husband's career? I feel a change coming...
  • Something called Baked Potato Salad should be served hot, right?
  • How do people survive without using a crockpot?
  • Can we help our friend the way we'd like to? Will he let us?
  • Are Facebook friendships real, or just a product of ease and convenience? I like to think real....
  • Why do people watch The Bachelorette? Or The Bachelor for that matter.
  • Why am I up late blogging instead of sleeping?
  • What should I tell my friend who wants to know the pros and cons of being a stay home mom? It's just not the same for everyone.
  • Why do I pay so much for television per month when there is never a darn thing to watch?

And now I am going to go to bed and ponder these things and probably some more in the dark.