Archive for the ‘Homelife’ Category

Who do they Favor?

My children spend a lot of time with me. When they were babies and toddlers, as a stay-at-home mom, this was to be expected. But when my children reached school age I began to have a lot more time for myself. While school break in the summer is wonderful… no schedules, warm days, swimming, biking, grilling… my kids and I have reached the point where we may need a little break from each other. Day camp is next week and I think it may make us all a little kinder to one another.

I don’t know if any of you (and when I say you I mean full-time parenting as your only job people) experience this phenomenon, but sometimes My Man is invisible to my children. Now My Man is a super dad. When he’s home from work he’s involved with any kid related thing. Yet, Little Miss and Buddy could be standing right next to him in the kitchen and still shout to me in a far off place of the house to see if they can have a drink. My Munchkins will even ask, while standing next to their dad, questions like, “Mom, why do you think Daddy likes pickles so much?” and expect me to know the answer when they could just go to the source.

This past weekend we went to the mall (or as I like to say: the maul) for Buddy to spend some of his birthday loot at the Lego store. We did our shopping and needless-to-say were starving for an Auntie Anne’s pretzel after all that Lego looking.

We waited in a line, got two pretzels to share 4 ways, and a large lemonade with 4 straws.  Nearby was a stage that wasn’t in use and there The Familywere many mall patrons sitting on it. We joined them and began to scarf on our pretzel feast.

As I’m people watching and enjoying my snack I say, “I wonder what was on this stage?” and Little Miss, without missing a beat, says, “Feet.” Totally cracked me up and was even more funny because it is just the kind of joke My Man would say. I look over to Buddy to see if he heard how funny his sister was and he didn’t . This stage was near a big glass elevator and Buddy was intently studying the mechanics that made the elevator move up and down. Have I ever mentioned that My Man is an engineer?

At that point I realized that I was sitting between My Man’s children. His daughter was cracking silly jokes and his son was trying to figure out some mechanical gizmo. The only thing that made Little Miss and Buddy my children was the fact that they were enjoying the pretzel and lemonade so enormously.  Really though, these little kids that live with us are not his or mine but their own little people and I love that they are a mixed up mash of My Man and I.




Squeezing Into Skinny Jeans

I hate skinny jeans. When the trend is gone forever I won’t be sad in the least. I don’t like how tight they feel all over. I don’t like that most styles are so low waisted that when I have to bend down or even sit I’m sportin’ a nice plumber butt as an accessory. I just don’t feel cute in them and am self conscience the entire time I’m wearing a pair.

And yes, I just said “wearing a pair”. Even though I despise the style, I own a few pairs of skinny jeans, and I wear them. I may feel like a flubbery thigh girl in them but I have to admit that they look fabulous with a great pair of boots.

The other day I was wearing a pair of these jeans so I could sport my grey swede lug sole boots. When I was out and about (with the kick-ass boots on) I felt fine. For some reason the boots elevated my skinny jeans and made me forget that I feel a bit sausagy in them. Then I came home, kicked off my boots, and was making dinner….

Me: My thighs look chunky in these jeans.

Little Miss: That’s just how your thighs always look.

Me: You mean chunky?

Little Miss: No, they’re just your legs. They’re just like mine.

And then I paused…. my other name for Little Miss is Little Miss Long Legs. She’s all 7-year-old skinny with bean pole legs that are all knobby knees and very cute. They are her legs, part of her body, and I love them as I love every inch of her. And she looks at me the same way. My legs are just my legs, they are part of my body, and she loves every inch of me…. skinny jeans or not.

I often forget that my kiddos really listen to me. I want Little Miss to always think that her legs are just her legs so from now on when I sport my skinny jeans with my kick-ass boots I’ll keep my mouth shut about how I feel about my thighs and love my legs because they are part of my body and I’m pretty happy with me.

Suxy Lady

Suxy lady.

Gangnam Style by South Korean pop star PSY. It’s everywhere – and all the kids at school know the song, know the dance. Heck, even the teachers at my children’s school did a spoof of the video that was HILARIOUS and super cool. But when Buddy, my six-year-old, is singing suxy lady in the back seat of my car I realize I’ve got some explaining to do.

Me: Are you saying suxy lady?

Bud: Yep.

Me: Do you mean sexy?

Bud: No, I said suxy. That’s what the kids in my class say.

Me: I think the word is sexy. Do you know what that means?

And then I realize that in my quest for my kid to use language correctly and know what he’s talking about I have to figure out a way to explain SEXY to a 1st grader!!! AHHH!

Bud: It means stupid lady.

OH NO!!!! I have to fix this!

Me: I think you’ve got the wrong definition. Is this what the kids at school says it means?

Bud: No, it’s just what I thought.

Me: Well, the word is sexy, not suxy. Sexy means that you like someone so much that you want to hug them and kiss them all over. It’s really a grown up thing – not a kid thing at all. When you’re 18 you can think people are sexy.

I threw the 18 part in there for my benefit. Wishful thinking that my kid won’t do adult things until he’s legally an adult.

Bud: Oh, OK.

I think he got it. I think I explained it in a little kid way. Exhale – yay for mom!

A little later he grabs my leg and hugs me tight and kisses me a bunch and says – is this sexy?

AHHHHHHH!!!!! I screwed up!

Me: And I do this as calmly as possible as I peel him off me. Uh, no. You don’t ever think sexy with your mom. You think it about other people when you’re a grown up.

Bud: Oh, OK.

I really try very hard to be matter of fact with all my kids questions. I want them to know all the words – good and bad – and know what they really mean. I want to be the one to explain what words mean to them so they don’t get the wrong definition elsewhere.

Even though I tried I don’t know if Buddy quite got the sexy thing – I’m not sure he’s ready to grasp it – and I know this because he continues to sing suxy lady as he does his Gagnam Style dance around the house.

Ginger Snaps, Cookie Belly, and a Minor Freak Out

My Cookie Baking Spree

My Cookie Baking Spree

I’ve spent the last 3 days packing up Christmas. There’s a sticky spot of sap on my right hand from taking the ornaments off the tree and I’m sitting here writing this because it seems like a better idea than hefting our now de-ornamented tree out to the curb.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I like the sparkle and the lights and the hope and joy and songs… it still holds that magic for me that it did when I was a child staring out my window looking for Santa and it gives me the calm peace I always feel after singing Silent Night in a darkened church while holding a lit candle. But this year I had a hard time finding my spirit. My cat Ruby became suddenly ill the second week of December and in a matter of 3 days time went from being perfectly fine to dead. She was only 5. At the same time there was the awful shooting in Newtown, CT that I connected with so deeply as I’m the mom of a 1st grader and a teacher. I felt cracked, sad, disjointed and not fully involved. My Christmas spirit was there but only in hints and whispers and quick moments. At the same time it was a very THANKFUL time. My Man was supposed to be shipping off to parts across the world on December 21 for 6 months away – that trip was cancelled. I can imagine the alternate universe we three would have experienced without him and I know we were blessed and lucky and so fortunate to be the 4 of us. By Christmas Day I did find my joy. The pageant at church, the tour of tacky Christmas lights we took, and my children’s excitement lit my heart and allowed me to be present and happy and glad for the holiday.

I went on a bit of a baking spree this holiday. I made many, many, cookies and I ate many, many, cookies. Which leads me to a phenomenon I call Cookie Belly. I watch what I eat, I exercise regularly, I’m no super fit firm mama, but I’m at a good healthy weight and I think I look pretty all right for an almost 42-year-old. My goal is to stay like this for the rest of my life. My baking did not help that goal. I developed a nice little 5 pound cookie belly from all my sampling and snacking and enjoying. By the end of January I’ll lose that belly – but if anyone who knows me wonders why I’m wearing the same jeans all the time it’s because they are the only ones that fit! My Grandma G’s Ginger Snaps were worth every pound of that Cookie Belly. Here’s the recipe for you to enjoy.

Ginger Snaps

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Mix together shortening, sugar, molasses and egg. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
  2. Roll into balls and roll in granulated sugar. If you were my grandma you’d make very small balls, if you are me you will make biggish ones.
  3. Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes until set when touched lightly. They begin to crack on top and are usually set a minute or two later. They need to be lightly browned on the bottom and not jiggly on top.

If you make these I guarantee you will love them.

The day before Christmas I was getting ready for family to arrive. I began to become a small freak out mess as I got overwhelmed with all the tasks I wanted to get done. My family heard my little tirade about chores and they said to me – no worries and they all chipped in. Buddy picked up toys and organized and put everything in its place. My Man vacuumed the entire house. Little Miss cleaned the bathroom. And my self-induced freak out mess stress just melted away as I felt the love of my family. Christmas morning I opened my present from Little Miss. There was a paper in a box that said on it, “do not go into the hall bathroom”. My sweet 7-year-old explained that I actually could go into the bathroom because I got my present early – she was going to clean the bathroom and she had already done it the day before. She knows me so well – a gift of cleaning is always appreciated – and I also got a hug.

Buddy Says. Little Miss Does.

Six-year-old boy is great! It’s full of energy, questions, and, I’m finding, a plethora of quirky uses of the English language.

Ignore the devil eyes - this was a sweet moment.

Ignore the devil eyes – this was a sweet moment.

This is what Buddy has come up with lately.

1. If you get a boost on to your bed and fall forward on your face you do a face planet.

2. If you are walking rightwards you are going the opposite of backwards.

3. If you are pulling something hot out of the oven or need to touch a hot pan grab a pair of kitchen hands. This is my favorite thing he has come up with and my oven mitts will forever now be called kitchen hands.

7-year-old girl is full of doing.  I’m amazed at what Little Miss is doing and also freaked out a little by the amount of what looks like hormonal drama that comes from her.

When she’s not having a freak out mess this is what she’s up to.

1. She can operate the toaster oven. The toaster oven has 3 nobs and a button and she gets all of them to the exact place they need to be.

2. When her grandparents were babysitting she took charge of the 3 remotes it often takes to get our TV up and running and found the evening news for them.

3. She’s reading long, long, long chapter books. I find her curled up on the couch, in her bed, on a chair reading. She reads to herself, she reads to Buddy, she reads to me and to My Man.

Every once in a while I’m able to take a deep breath in and bask in the wonderfulness that my kids bring to my life. Of course by the time I exhale I have the dance of he did, she said, MOM! chaos running around my home again.

Kid Quotes and The Chore Hour

My family is awesome. This was the first weekend where chores were part of the agenda. Sure we’d clean up stuff here and there on other weekends – but this weekend we had “The Chore Hour.” The kitchen timer was set for one hour. For 60 minutes the four of us were to be as busy as bees getting as many chores done as we could.

The rules were simple:

1. If you saw something that needed cleaning, picked up, or organized, do it.

2. If you don’t see anything then pull a chore from the chore bag.  

In the hour that we were all working this is what got done: dishwasher loaded and running, a sink full of dishes washed, kitchen counters wiped off, table wiped off, front porch and sidewalk swept, back patio swept, all scuff marks Magic Erased off of walls, baseboards in living room and dining room dusted, load of laundry folded and put away, 3 toilets cleaned, 3 bathroom sinks cleaned,  and 3 bathroom mirrors cleaned. And really – it wasn’t even all 4 of us. My man was out on a run when we started so he didn’t even participate. All those chores got done by myself and the two munchkins (who are just 6 and 7). Little Miss did pitch a bit of a fit when Buddy got to Magic Erase the walls – I guess that is a “fun” chore. All was better when I suggested to her that she could clean the toilets. She was seriously excited to do this!  I happened to walk past the bathroom as she’s wiping away and she exclaims, “I LOVE CLEANING TOILETS!”  We did another 30 minutes on Sunday just for fun and got even more stuff done! I just hope we keep it up.

Now time for some fun kid quotes.

I was bending down in front of Buddy tying his shoes. He was swooshing my hair all around and I say, “are you making me look like a pretty mom?” and he answers, “you look like a mom that doesn’t own a comb.” So much for my beach hair look.

I was lucky enough to sub in a kindergarten classroom last week. Pre-kids, when I was a full-time 8th grade science teacher, never in a million years would I have thought being with kindergarteners would be OK. I guess after living with a couple of them I understand five much better. I laughed all day. They just say awesome stuff. Here’s my favorite quote of the day. We were in the computer lab and the kids were doing a program where they had to create the letters of the alphabet. Some kids were zipping along and others were struggling a bit. I said to a few kids who were moving through without much problems, “you guys are really on a roll.” A few minutes later I over hear a little girl say to the boy next to her as she was working, “I’m doing a roll!” I smile just thinking about the cuteness.

I think my family did a roll this weekend and while nothing will get done next weekend (it’s camping season for us!) at least for now I have 3 clean toilets.

I Can’t Do It All and Barbeque Chicken Sandwiches

I’ve spent the last 7 years being a housewife. When I write 7 years I’m blown away by how long that sounds, especially because those years seem to have passed as quickly as an inhale and exhale. While I still consider myself mostly a housewife, life is changing here in our household. You see, I’ve kind of gone back to work, sort of, a little, just a drop.

Before I had munchkins I was a teacher. My plan was to go back to work when both the kids were in school full-time. Well, both kids were in school full-time last year and I so did not go back to work. Holy cow was life great! Not only were my kids happy hanging out with their friends all day and the teachers they loved, but my life rocked. I could putter around the house, take yoga classes, read a book, watch trashy TV with no one around to judge, meet friends to do stuff, hike in the woods at my pace, and GROCERY SHOP BY MYSELF! As my man said, “you’ve never been more mellow,” and I agree. I can get pretty uptight when I’m trying to juggle too many balls and last year I think I was juggling maybe two.

Well, this year I threw another ball in the mix. I started substitute teaching. For now, this is the perfect match for me. I get to do a job I love on some days and on other days I can continue to have ME time. I really just started doing this last week. I had one job and it didn’t really affect anything. This week I’ve worked two days (and had to turn down one today because I picked up the sinus crud the teacher I was covering for had). Two days doesn’t sound like much, but when one of those days is grocery day and I take these jobs on the spur of the moment, life gets a little messy. We’re chock full of after school activities, and with me and My Man working all day, and then busy evenings (soccer, swimming, girls scouts, boy scouts, blah, blah, blah) we’re eating canned soup and toast if I miss grocery day. It’s all good – no one complains about wonky dinners – but I realize that I do a bunch of stuff around the house every week that just isn’t getting done. There’s dog hair in the corners, and the kid’s sheets need changed, and there’s a sticky spot on the kitchen floor, and our dump spot is covered with piles…. and I’m OK… but I realize why I stopped working when I had the kids. There’s just no way to do it all. Of course I’m not running this ship on my own, my man is a helper, but when the kids were little they just weren’t much. Sure a toddler can play with the Swiffer and get some of that dog hair up, but sometimes toddler help is no help at all.

Buddy and Little Miss are excited that I’m working again. They understand that if I’m at school all day I won’t get all the chores done I normally do and they are willing to pitch in. Isn’t that cool? We had a big conversation this morning about how if, as a family, we all pitch in on the weekends we can get it all done. And I like that. I like that my family is working as a family and roles are shifting as the dynamics change.

Well, busy families need a quick meal. I found this recipe in some magazine – I have no clue which, this was a ripped out page that’s been sitting in my “to make” file for months. This is a recipe for a Barbecue Chicken sandwich topped with coleslaw that is so good My Man and I had to duke it out who got the leftovers for lunch the next day!

The recipe calls for rotisserie chicken, but I don’t like to use that. Although it is delish I find it too salty for my tastes. To make your own super shredable chicken use my crock pot method – put some boneless chicken in a crock pot (frozen even works) with a little water and salt and pepper to taste. Cook on high for 3 hours and done. The meal itself (minus the chicken cooking time) takes about 20 minutes to make. LOVE that!

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbs honey mustard
  • 2 tbs water
  • 3/4 tsp chile powder
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder (I used dried onions)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken (or cook your own)
  • 3 tbs mayo
  • 2 tbs cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 cups packaged coleslaw
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onion
  • 6 hamburger buns – toasted
  1. Combine first 10 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer; cook 10 minutes. Combine sauce and chicken.
  2. Combine may, vinegar and sugar. Add coleslaw and onions, toss.
  3. Place chicken mixture on a bun, top with coleslaw, and devour!

PS I found the coleslaw to be a bit too vinegary on its own – but it’s transformed to perfection when eaten on the sandwich.