Tuesday, April 29, 2008
You've got "bad guys" hanging out in your hallways.
Your pot lids do double-duty as battle shields.
Your hand towels moonlight as capes.
You provide laundry service for items such as this:
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Kids run in first and find me standing guard with the broom, my eyes fixed on the corner.
"Where's Daddy?" I ask, trying my best to act calm and natural.
They inform me he's on the phone in the garage.
"Could you please get him?"
Hubs strolls in, sees my concerned face, and tells his caller that he has to go. I inform him that we have a problem -- a lizard in the house.
"Michelle, is this what you've been doing the whole morning? We've been gone for five hours and you're still in your pajamas."
Okay. Look. I wanted to take a shower, but did you think I was going to leave the lizard unattended? Without my watchful eye, he could have escaped and gone anywhere in the house. He could sneak up on the kids, or worse yet the baby, who plays on the floor.
"So?" he says. "Did you think it would climb up her nose and eat her brain?"
Well, no. But now that you're here, you need to get him.
I escort him over to my containment area.
"You press and sealed him into the basket?!"
"I thought he might be in the basket, but I think he's hiding underneath."
Hubs walks up to the basket and gets ready to lift it up.
"Wait!" I practically scream. I had to be sure he was ready, because I can't tell you the number of times I've asked him to catch a bug, he knocks it around and it escapes. When he can't find it, he shrugs his shoulders and walks away, leaving me a nervous wreck. I was not going to take the chance that we'd lose this lizard. No way. I had way too much time invested.
"Are you sure you're ready?" I ask.
He lifts the basket. Nothing.
That can't be. He's hiding. Hubs looks all over the outside of the basket. Still nothing.
"Michelle, there's nothing here. You must have been mistaken."
Surely he's not thinking I made this up? No, I assure him, he's there. Look under the books.
Look under the beach towel.
At this point, I was starting to think I had hallucinated the whole thing. It couldn't be. I was watching so carefully. If the lizard had tried to run away, I would have seen his little black slithery body. He was a good 4 inches or so in length. He couldn't have gotten past me. My mind was reeling -- how was I going to get through the next few days knowing this little guy could pop out and scare the tar out of me at any moment?
Hubs goes down to pick up the last remaining towel on the floor and -- thank goodness! -- the tip of a tail. He grabs the little guy in the towel and escorts him out the door. In my great panic and subsequent relief, I neglected to have my camera ready. By the time I retrieved it so I could snap his picture, he was running away as fast as he could. But, for those of you who have an interest, he looked like this.
Would you want that running around your house?
I think not.
Tuesday: Beef Daube Provencal, Egg Noodles, Peas
(If you're looking for an easy, downloadable menu planner, you'll find a great one here.)
Cherry Pepper Chicken
6 (6-oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. butter
8 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 Tbs. capers, drained
8 to 10 pickled cherry peppers (sweet or hot variety), seeded and chopped
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2-3 Tbs. dry breadcrumbs
3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 tsp. salt. Dredge chicken in flour. Heat oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Add garlic, cook 30 seconds. Add capers and peppers; cook 30 seconds. Add broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in breadcrumbs; cook until liquid thickens (about 1 minute). Taste sauce, and add remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, if needed. Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
When our dog was alive, she made sure that the lizard population outside our house was kept under control. She loved to chase down the lizards, pull off their tails and bat them around. It was her way of "playing" with them, only she often ended up literally scaring them to death. Since she's been gone, our lizard population has flourished. Now, I don't have a problem with these lizards living on our deck, but when they start invading my space, I'm sorry, I have to take issue.
So, this morning, after getting Grace up from her nap and while walking into the kitchen, I noticed something dark scurry by underfoot. After jumping about three feet off the ground from shock, I realized it was a lizard -- that had just sought refuge in a tight corner behind our afghan basket.
Hubs took my other two kids out early this morning, so it was just me holding down the homestead. I can't relax knowing that something like this is loose in the house. They are so fast and they dart around everywhere, it creeps me out. And, I put my baby on the floor to play, for crying out loud. Not to mention, I don't know if it's my aura or anything, but little critters like that always find their way to where I sleep. Always. And I just can't have that.
I knew I had to act fast -- with any luck, I'd be able to catch it without placing a frantic call to my husband. I grabbed a Tupperware bowl and figured if I could just get it down over him, my husband could deal with it when he got home. (As a side note, this trapping approach is incredibly helpful when dealing with other unwanted pests, such as palmetto bugs, scorpions and spiders. In the warmer months, there's often at least one water glass daily that traps something awaiting inevitable disposable when my husband returns home.) I slowly pulled the basket away from the wall. He was sitting there, but I didn't think I'd have enough room to lower the bowl down. I tried to barricade his escape on either side with books (but who am I kidding? He could probably squeeze through the tiniest of cracks.) I stuffed the cracks, as best I could, with rags. He was definitely hiding in the shadows somewhere -- biding his time.
Three frantic calls to husband. Nothing but voicemail.
After about a half hour of panicked searching, I let my guard down a little. I had to feed my child lunch. As I was serving up her food, I thought I'd take a quick peek, just to make sure he hadn't popped out. I looked, and there he was, poised to dart on the top edge of the basket. It was my big chance! Unfortunately, in my excitement to run around and get him, I let out an "Oh!", which frightened him back into hiding.
I tried to poke the basket around with a broom to see if I might get him to give up his hiding spot, but he wouldn't bite. Then, I considered the possibility that he might have darted inside the basket among the blankets. So, I did what any self-respecting mother who is trying to protect her children would do. I press and sealed the basket.
Unfortunately, since I've been sitting here, I've seen his head poke over the books three times. He's getting antsy, which may or may not, play out in my favor. My biggest fear is that I make a wrong move and he'll manage to scurry someplace where I'll never be able to get him.
And, I'm sorry, that would keep me up nights.
So I sit here. Staring down the basket. Laying in wait. Running over with my broom every time I see his little head poke up.
I'm having a very busy Saturday, thanks for asking.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
It's Friday and time to once again Fight the Frump! After you read this post, don't forget to check out Fussy's place for more great tips!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I always felt that my college education prepared me fairly well for the jobs I ended up taking. Journalism is the type of degree that demands a lot of "on the job" experience, so by the time I hit the Real World I wasn't surprised by much.
But when I traded in my notebook and tape recorder for Motherhood, I found the learning curve to be a tad more steep. Oh, to have been able to take a few courses prior to assuming the title of "Mommy." Being a mother is the best job I have ever had -- and I wouldn't trade one minute of it. But, looking back the following course load would have proven extremely helpful:
1. Tackling Your Everest -- How to climb to the top of the laundry pile and stay there.
2. The Old Grey Mare -- Understanding your post-pregnancy body
3. The Multitasking Driver -- How to pass the sippy cup, change the CD and negotiate sibling squabbles while getting to your destination safely. (This course would include the optional 1/2 credit elective, Keeping it Clean: Preventing the minivan from turning into a dumpster on wheels)
4. Sleep Deprivation 101 -- Learning to Get by on Less, followed by Sleep Deprivation 201 -- Why Caffeine is Your Friend
5. The Art of the 5-minute Shower -- How to shampoo, condition, shave and maybe even wash a part or two before someone calls, "Mommy!" (this course would include timed trials)
EXTRA CREDIT: Iron Chef Practicum -- Concocting tasty and healthy dinner dishes featuring a single kid-friendly "secret ingredient," such as ketchup, ranch dressing or chicken nuggets.
And that's it! I'm going to turn around and tag:
Rules are simple...post your five classes and then tag some people. (Be sure to leave a comment at their blogs so they know they've been tagged!) Thanks for playing along!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
"Is she still breathing?"
But all of those concerns were nothing in comparisson to my greatest fear -- the thing I dreaded doing more more than anything -- giving our baby a bath.
I just couldn't figure out how to do it all by myself. I could draw the water. I could set her in the tub and even manage to do a fairly decent job washing -- but it was getting her out of the tub that was always a problem. How was I supposed to lift her out of the tub without soaking the front of my shirt, wrap her in one of those postage-stamp sized infant towels and get the little hood on her head? All while supporting her head, mind you, because she was a helpless newborn, after all.
Lucky for me, I stumbled upon one of these:
This is the Snowflakes Towel Cozy. Allow me just a moment to tell you why this is THE BEST baby product ever. This towel velcros around your neck, like a large cloth apron. It keeps you dry while you're bathing your child, a huge plus if your baby likes to splash. But the best part comes when you pull her out of the tub. You simply cuddle that baby to your chest and wrap the towel around her. Viola! It's made of thick terry cloth (much warmer and cozier than that thin cloth they use for traditional baby towels) and has the built-in hood.
We own two of these towels. I also buy them six at a time to keep on hand for baby gifts. It's a gift no one else gives and ends up being something really appreciated by new parents.
Because they've got concerns, and how to get their child out of the tub should not be one of them.
For more great tips, head on over to Shannon's place!
Monday, April 21, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
***UPDATED: This giveaway is now closed****
In 5th grade, as part of a long, drawn out Madonna phase, I wore rubber bracelets up to my elbow. On both arms. Every day.
These days my style is (thankfully) a little more subdued, but my love of all things shiny and pretty is alive and well. So, for this giveaway I thought it would be fun to "spread the bling."
This is a sterling silver pendant on an 18" box chain, set with a blue topaz. I have a similar necklace that I wear almost daily. It looks just as good with jeans as it does with dresses. It would make a great gift for yourself or someone you love.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
So, I’ve been stuck with this canvas and absolutely no idea what to do with it. I did recall seeing a few of those “create your own” artwork projects on HGTV, but I never paid close attention to them. I didn't trust myself to tackle a project like that -- I am no artist. If I do anything crafty (scrapbooking included here), I need an example or a guide. Thus, I was thrilled when BooMama referenced this post of hers from a while back. It was just the inspiration I needed.
So, without further ado, I present my first (and most likely, only) art installation. I call it – "My Husband Loves Me Enough to Stare at This All Day."
Now, you may have noticed that the project grew from one canvas to three. That's because the first canvas was painted from a horizontal perspective, but actually looked better hung vertical. That left more space to fill, so I purchased two more canvases to make a triptych (Notice how I sling around the art jargon with such ease? Obviously, I was becoming overly confident in my artistic abilities). So really, all three are supposed to go together, with the tree one in the middle. But, it turned out the wall wasn't as big as it seemed in my mind. So we split 'em up.
They won't win any awards, but it was a fun project to do. And for a cost of about $12 a picture (that's three poster-size painted canvases), my husband does not have to stare at blank walls all day.
Of course, he may really prefer the blank walls. But he's sweet enough to indulge me in my Jackson Pollock moment. Just one of the many reasons I love that man.
That's about all I have to say about that.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
"I got this great raincoat for 75% off. And, I also picked up a black sweat suit for the flight."
"I'm sorry, you picked up a what for the flight?"
"A black sweat suit."
"You're not really going to wear that on the plane, are you?"
"Michelle, it's a 10-hour flight."
Now, I love my mom. She has excellent taste, but I've got to take this opportunity to espouse my opinion on travel attire. If you board a plane in anything vaugely resembling pajamas, you have crossed the line, my friend. Sweat suits (
Now, lest you go thinking that comfort is not a priority for me, there are plenty of comfortable travel options that will have you looking well-rested and put together upon landing. Not to mention the fact that you stand a much better chance of being upgraded to first class when you wear something a little more polished versus something that looks like you just rolled out of bed.
If you are fortunate enough to have an upcoming trip planned, here's what I would suggest:
* Consider fabrics that have a little stretch in them. The "stretch" is for comfort, while also ensuring you don't look like a wrinkled mess when you arrive wherever you're going. Trouser jeans in a dark wash with a hint of lycra would be perfect here. These are from J. Crew:
* Think layers -- Airplanes are notorious for wide temperature shifts. Start with a comfortable basic tee. Target always has some great options, like this:
* Top the t-shirt with a bright-colored cardigan. The cardigan is a great layer because it's lightweight. You can easily stash it in your carry-on bag if you don't need it or even use it as a pillow in a pinch. Here's another Target option:
* If you're looking to invest in a new wardrobe piece for your trip, consider investing in an a pashmina. You don't have to go super expensive, but for about $60, you'll have a quality piece that will work as a scarf, a shawl, or a blanket (do you really want to use the airline issued blankets, anyway?) If you have kids, you can get something similar in a more washable fabric.
There you have it. Those are my tips for stylish travel. Now go ask for that upgrade.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
When I first saw these for sale at our grocery store, I didn't think much of it. I mean, I'm no die-hard environmentalist. Don't get me wrong, we do what we can to save the earth. We recycle. We try to eat organic. But I don't drive a hybrid car. I'm not a vegetarian. My children use disposable diapers. Bringing my own bags to the grocery store always felt like it would be more work.
But, I noticed my friends were starting to use these bags. A shameless follower, I bought four bags for $0.99 a piece and thought I'd give it a try.
I'm in love.
These bags hold two to three times the amount of your average plastic grocery bag. That means less trips back and forth unloading groceries. What's more, they have long handles, so I can haul heavier bags by slinging them onto my shoulder, instead of feeling like my biceps are going to explode. The bags also come in handy for toting various kid items to the park. The only drawback is that they do not efficiently tote kids. Ah, how I jest!
Anywho -- it's a simple change that makes your life easier while helping out the earth in the process.
For more tips, go over and check out the growing list at Rocks in My Dryer!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
"In fact, for the last six weeks, the kids have been eerily healthy. I've been incredibly grateful for this, scared to mention this fact to anyone lest it cause the situation to change, and in the back of my mind, waiting for the other shoe to drop."
Well, the wait is over. The other shoe has officially "dropped." Grace came down with the her first full-fledged cold on Sunday. I wasn't overly concerned, in fact I was pretty impressed that Grace had made it 10 months without a single sick visit to the doctor. But Sunday night... was a little rough. Last night was even rougher. This morning, she "woke" (I use the term loosely, as she barely slept the whole night) with a fever of 101.
I took her to the doctor this morning. Diagnosis? A cold, that's gone into bronchitis. A double ear infection, worse in the left ear than in the right. She managed to contract the molluscum that our family has been battling for two years now. Oh, and by the way, she's teething.
When the doctor came in with a handful of prescriptions and started going through the instructions, I actually started laughing. I wasn't trying to be rude, but I've never had so much medication flung at me in one doctor's visit: Motrin for teething pain, fever and ear discomfort. Ear numbing drops for pain. Amoxicillin for ears and chest. Expectorant to loosen the gunk in her chest. Benzoyl peroxide applied to molluscum as needed. Was there going to be a test on this? Mercifully, he wrote it all down.
My mom watched Josh while I took Grace to the doctor, allowing me to avoid exposing him to the germ-filled petri dish, otherwise known as the "Sick Child Waiting Room." Upon my arrival back at mom's, I asked Josh to please go use the potty. A few minutes later, the sound of something falling and breaking glass. Josh had managed to fall off of the stool and crash his head into my mom's ceramic wastebasket, which lay shattered on the floor. His injury -- an impressive-looking gash above the ear.
I called my husband at work to ask his thoughts about stitches -- not that he could really help with the decision. I was the one staring at the head wound, after all. But, after a short discussion, which included a recap of Josh's November ER visit for another head gash, we agreed that stitches probably wouldn't be possible in this case.
And, if I forgot to mention it, Jillian is nursing a wicked head cold and still getting drops to treat last week's pink eye.
"Relatively healthy," did I say?
Clearly, those words are now dripping with irony.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
(If you're looking for an easy downloadable menu planner, you'll find a great one here.)
For more menu planning ideas, don't forget to head over to orgjunkie.com.
Goat Cheese, Artichoke and Chicken Pizza
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup nonfat ricotta
1 whole-wheat pizza crust (12 inches)
1 cup thinly sliced, skinless roasted chicken
1 cup drained and rinsed canned artichoke hearts, halved
2 large plum tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 tbsp fresh oregano
Heat oven to 450°. Mix goat cheese and ricotta in a bowl; spread overpizza crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with chicken, artichokesand tomatoes; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until Parmesan is golden,8 to 10 minutes. Top with oregano and serve.
388 calories per serving, 13.2 g fat (7.3 g saturated),41.2 g carbs, 7.7 g fiber, 29.7 g protein
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Me: A telemarketer.
Jillian: Oh. Don't answer it.
Me: That's right. We're not interested. We don't buy things over the telephone.
Jillian: We buy stuff off the computer!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
But today, I'm going to talk about the frump we expose our dearest loved ones to every day. Your spouse. Your kids. Your good friend who picks up your child for school every morning. Your cat. You might call it the "hidden" frump -- our pajamas and loungewear.
And another option:
Jillian's teacher called this morning.
Could you come pick Jilly up?
One eye is looking "smaller" than the other.
It's a little goopy.
A little red.
We think it might be pink eye.
Now while we've managed to avoid a lot of rampant viral infections, this will be the fifth case of pink eye we've had this winter. That's got to be a record. Prior to today, Jilly has had two cases of pink eye. I had the other two cases. One of my infections came in conjunction with the flu (boy, was I looking pretty then), the other just because I touch my eyes. A lot.
Pink eye is definitely not the worst thing in the world -- I'll take it over a stomach virus any day. But, we're back to doing eye drops three times a day, Purell-ing our hands like crazy, and praying that no one else gets it (particularly Josh, because he's just DRAMA when it comes to medication -- I'm sure eyedrops would just be a treat).
And...because I've become somewhat of a professional with regard to eyedrop administration (ironic, isn't it Lori?), I'll post a few tips for those of you who have not yet had the enviable job of giving eye drops to a preschooler:
I always have my daughter lay down on her back, with her head in my lap. Drop the liquid into the inside corner of her eye and turn her head slightly so the drop rolls into the eye. Or, if you are able to pull the inside corner of her eye down a little to make a pocket, you could attempt to drop the liquid in that way. Make sure you have a tissue handy to wipe up any misses. You'll also want to have your child keep her eye closed for a few seconds after you get the drop in.
So, there you have it -- always happy to help.
By the way, my eyes are fine for the time being. But I'll tell you, purposely trying not to touch them makes me want to touch them all the more. Every now and then I'll swear my vision is getting cloudy or my eye is a little itchy.
The power of suggestion. It's a crazy thing.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Ruth Ann Schabacker
“I love you,” I say, giving her a hug and kiss.
“I love you, too” she answers back.
I switch off the light.
“Mommy, do you have time to snuggle me?”
It’s a request that comes nearly every night these days. When she first posed the question a few weeks ago, I immediately envisioned the pile of dishes in the kitchen. I recalled the mountain of laundry needing to be switched from the washer to the dryer. I pictured the myriad of toys strewn throughout the house. I had so much to do before I could go to bed. I was so tired. But I looked into Jilly’s pleading eyes – I saw the hope and expectation on her face. And I found myself saying, “Yes.”
I climb into bed next to her and snuggle her in my arms. I watch her chest rise and fall rhythmically. She lays there silently, her brown eyes darting about the dimly lit room.
“What are you thinking about?” I ask.
It’s funny the things that go through a 5-year-old girl’s mind -- thoughts fly fast and furiously before sleep settles in. Barbie. Fairies. School. Friends.
“Mommy, Nathan said mean things to Lindsay today,” she whispers.
“Oh? What did he say?”
“I don’t remember exactly. But I told Lindsay beautiful secrets to make her feel better.”
“What kind of beautiful secrets?” I ask.
“I said, ‘Lindsay, you are my princess.’”
“Jilly, that was very sweet of you. You did a good thing, comforting your friend like that. Did it make her feel better?”
It’s in these moments, laying here with her, that I sometimes feel I get to know my daughter the best. It’s in these moments that she shares things with me she rarely has the opportunity to share amidst the chaos of the day. In these moments, there is no baby to be fed. There is no little brother competing for my attention. There is no telephone call to pull me away. I am 100% focused on her.
Jilly turns to face me and grabs my hand, bringing it up to her cheek. She closes her eyes. I lay there staring at the face of my baby girl. At five years old, most of the baby is gone now. But in these moments, as she flirts with sleep, her hand grasping mine and her teddy bear tucked under her arm, I see glimmers of the helpless infant she once was.
"I love you, Mommy.”
“I love you, too.”
I've come to see this time with Jilly as a gift -- one of several gifts that I'm convinced God offers to me each day. Trouble is, I'm oblivious to half of them. I'm too busy making dinner. I'm too preoccupied with scheduling a playdate. I've got to go fold laundry.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Hands Only CPR -- CBS News
Geneva Hosts Huge Inventions Fair -- Yahoo. I'm sold on the self-making bed, but I think I'll hold off on the nose hair.
Easier Finger Foods -- Life's Not a Paragraph. Can I tell you how much aggravation this saved me this week? It's brilliant.
Wal-Mart Has Gone Soft -- This Ain't New York. This cracked me up! The characterization is dead on.
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, April 3, 2008
That's Wet n' Wild "Deep Wine" -- and a flying leap out of my comfort zone. But I bought it, went home and painted my toenails. And I must say, the results have me feeling decidedly un-frumpy -- even a little sassy -- these days.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
How's the week been going? This morning, while packing my husband's lunch, I found myself indadvertently cutting his sandwich into small squares and triangles.
Obviously, the first stage of Spring Break dementia is setting in.
I've been running around like a harried cruise ship director for the last few days, trying to entertain and keep the troops happy, which, quite honestly, is a whole lot more work than when we're not on "break." Not to mention the fact that the house looks like a bomb hit it.
After a weekend of rain, Monday morning rolled around with -- more rain. The kids were climbing the walls. So, we took a road trip to a local toy store, which resulted in me leaving my digital camera behind. (Why did I even have it out? I was taking a picture of Josh who looked so cute with a play helmet and sword. I'd love to share it with you but, I don't have my camera). Fortunately, someone did turn the camera in to the shop owner shortly after I left. Otherwise, the two placemats I purchased, featuring maps of the United States and the World would have cost about $150. Each. That would have been a pricey geography lesson.
Tuesday hit and -- Praise God! -- we got a call from a friend who was just as desperate for activity as we were. She rented out one of those play areas that has multiple inflatable bounce houses and slides. It was only $50 an hour to rent the place out. Everyone chipped in and it came out to $10 a family for an hour and a half of play time. That was the deal of the century. (Heck, I was so desperate, I would have paid $50 for just my kids). We had a blast and the kids finally got to burn off a little steam.
Today, it's warm and sunny -- so we're going to head to the park for a picnic and we may even tackle bowling on Friday. Yes, Spring Break is a thrill a minute here and clearly there will be no rest for the weary.
Which brings to mind another oxymoron:
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
It's the "Greatest Hits Edition" of WFMW, where everyone re-runs a helpful tip they posted in the past. Seeing as how I've only run one WFMW tip prior to today, I thought I'd offer up the following instead:
Cleaning out the refrigerator. Not a task that I enjoy, per se, but one that needs to be done on a somewhat regular basis. In the past, my "clean out" approach was to put all items to the "Look and Smell Test," -- was the item growing mold or did it smell bad? If either answer was yes, into the trash it went. But, I soon discovered there were many partially-used items that had been in my refrigerator for a while, but didn't show the slightest fuzzy growth or emit the faintest foul aroma.