Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Day in the Life II

Several months ago, a friend suggested that we do a "day in the life" series between three of us. She said it would be a great way to hone photography skills and capture those little things that make up our day. I am so glad she recommended doing that. When I start missing DC, I go back to that blog and read it. And read it again. And I look at the pictures. And I smile. 

She has since moved to North Carolina and our other friend has relocated from the city to Suburbia- just outside of DC. The other day, I texted them to see if they were interested in doing it again. I thought it might be fun to see what an average day would be like in their "new" lives. 

As I snapped away at the 455 pictures, I thought about them and what their "average" days might be like. But mine- was not quite that average. We found out that yesterday was going to be a "Snow day" ... minus snow. School was canceled for yesterday and today. This afternoon, we discovered that it is also canceled for tomorrow. Honest to Betsy.

I woke up yesterday morning at about 7:16am with the instant thought of, "Must get to the store. Baby needs milk. Mama needs wine. Husband needs beer." $235 later, I brought home the essentials we needed for the 2 inches of snow that would later be deemed "Snowpacalypse." All day yesterday, we were trapped inside- everything was closed, sans the grocery store. 

As I unloaded groceries, Husband sat with Bennie and got those snuggles I was jealous of. They sat and watched "Sprout" -- it's our new Disney Junior. LMC danced around and kept talking about the snow that was coming. I kept telling her that there would be no snow- like there's no tooth fairy. Yeah, right, Mom. Snow's coming. 

But first-- she had to brush her teeth. We are having trouble getting her to brush her teeth. And don't get me started about brushing her hair. OMG- it's the worst.
"MAH-ME! You're hurting me!"
LMC- I am not even touching you.
LMC- do you want me to make it hurt? Than please stop crying wolf.

Today though- she was on good behavior. She must have thought that the snow would not come if she had a bad attitude.

When she finally finished brushing her teeth (She and Husband picked out her clothes while I was at the grocery store-- please note, that's a pajama shirt), I decided that today would be a day for adventures in the kitchen.

First up- homemade play dough.

Thankyouverymuch, Pinterest. I actually made homemade play dough with a recipe I found on Pinterest. And it worked. Have you ever heard of "Go home Pinterest, you're drunk"? If not, google it- it is pretty awesome and totally gawk-worthy.

First step... gather the ingredients. We pushed the buggy into the pantry and gathered the necessary materials.

 Second step... let Mom do the heavy lifting, all the while telling her how excited you are.

Husband was home for most of the day. He had to leave for a little over an hour to go to the hospital for a meeting. It was nice having him around, if no more than for a little adult conversation.

At some point while we made play dough, LMC looked up and said-- totally unsolicited-- "Y'all I love living in Hometown. I miss my DC friends, but I la-la-love living here."

"You know, LMC- I miss my DC friends, too. But, I love that you love living here."

LMC started the stirring, but I finished as it got really heavy. After it was a dough, I divided it up and then added the colors-- so there were three smaller portions of three different colors, instead of one large portion of ONE color.

LMC was enthralled with her play-dough and asked Husband if he could juggle it. He tried and succeeded more times than he failed.

Over lunch, we discovered that the Walkie-Talkies did not work. One needed a new battery. We put that on the list of things to do. Husband headed out and LMC had a grilled cheese while I had a turkey sandwich. I asked mom if she came by today for DBKs (drive-by-kisses) to please bring a battery.

Where's Bennie while we made play-dough and ate lunch? She slept...

After lunch, clean up, and unloading the dishwasher for the second time before 1pm....  

LMC went to check on Bennie. Low and behold... she was awake. "And Mommy, I didn't wake her up. She was already like that." "I mean, Mommy- I did cut the light on. But that didn't wake her up."

When I told LMC that it was time to get out of the crib, Bennie needed her lunch and some fresh pahn-ties, she disagreed with me...

Her buddy, Cas, makes this face on a fairly regular basis. Every time I see it- I know exactly where it comes from.

Bennie had lunch...

While LMC and I made chocolate pudding. She elected to dip her chocolate graham cracker in the chocolate pudding in lieu of eating the pudding without accompaniments.

LMC said she wanted to make cookies, cranberry bread, and chocolate pudding. She wanted to start with the pudding. Only after it was cooked did she elect to mention that she doesn't like pudding. Seriously?

I told her we were not cooking anything else because I did not need all these things sitting around the house. She was okay with that and went off to play in the den.

So... I scooped up some chocolate pudding and grabbed a 'poon for Bennie... and watched to see what she would do.

Well, she eventually ditched the 'poon, because her fingers were faster...

LMC found her book bag and pulled out all of her work from school the day before-- when I was her sub. I love subbing. It gives me a chance to get to know her friends and interact with just my first born, without the interruptions that a baby can cause. I don't have to say, "we can't because Bennie...."

While Bennie destroyed her pudding and LMC made a mess with her school work, I pulled out some of my grocery store finds and set to work prepping them for the freezer. Often, I buy chicken in the large packages and break it up into Ziploc bags with different marinades before freezing. When I am in a pinch for supper, I don't have to thaw and then marinate-- I just have to thaw. A few weeks ago, I made up a batch of the jerk marinade that I fell in love with about a year ago. It lasts a little longer eternity, so I poured some on some chicken and put the rest back in the fridge. The second bag holds a Japanese salad dressing I made earlier in the week-- more on that later.

After handling the raw chicken, scouring the sink, and sending LMC out to play with Husband in the garage, I set in to give Bennie a bath. Mama Bits used to put An-Ew in the kitchen sink while she pattered around making lunch, cleaning dishes, or whatever. He would play and play- thoroughly enjoying himself. Living in the city, we improvise a lot. I used to love putting LMC in the sink when we lived in our tiny compartment (before we upgraded to the AH-partment). She would play for at least an hour and I loved watching her splash around.

Bennie has just gotten to the point where it is easier to bath her in the sink than it is in the bathtub. I don't have to get down on my knees and she can entertain herself while I load the dishwasher.

Since I knew that I would be doing this "day in the life" business- I took 455 pictures. Husband walked in while Bennie was bathing and found this: 

I was trying to take this picture:

And then I got a text from a friend who wanted to hire me to take pictures of her sweet six month old. We texted back and forth and I sent her live pictures of Bennie in the bath-- practically tackling her via technology that we would have to take bath pictures of Baby P next week during her six month pictures.

I called mom about those DBKs and asked her to come check out how cute her youngest grandchild was. She zipped right over. She left, but not before kidnapping LMC to come play and for a few minutes. Husband finished up his project outside and wanted me to come and inspect.

It looks so much better-- we still have a ways to go, but it definitely is a HUGE improvement from what it once was. Our garage is Husband's workshop. Our cars don't fit in the garage, but the boat and golf cart-- they fit perfectly. Husband is sometimes.... well... I love him dearly... but sometimes, his organization skills... well... let's just leave it at the fact that I love him.

Bennie jumped out of my arms and into Husband's.

Afterwards, I pulled out my current plated meal to start cooking. I was bored and it was almost -- almost supper time. Meaning, it was 4:30. I don't watch TV during the day. If I do, the house is clean (or, at the very least, I am just ignoring it) and everyone is either at school or work. I feel like a pretty bad parent watching TV during the day, and not just because I love crime drama. So, I cook a lot, keep the freezer stacked, and find things that both LMC and I like to do. The TV is on Sprout almost all day, but it is more background noise than entertainment. Typically, when I have a planned project for us- I cut it off, but for the most part-- background noise.

Plated is a really cool thing I discovered on Facebook a few weeks ago and it deserves a blog in and of itself. Suffice it to say, I am a repeat customer. If anyone out there loves to cook, is slightly pressed for time, and gets into food ruts-- Plated is something you should investigate. Be on the lookout for a post in the future with more detail. I get my next shipment next week.

While I peeled and chopped, Husband researched fish finders and depth .... things.
LMC returned home with Pixie and Woody in tow... and a tray of hot, gooey, rich .... brownies. Mom poured up two glasses of milk- one for LMC and one for Woody and everyone had a little snack.

We kissed the g'parents goodbye and LMC found her walkie-talkies in working order, thanks to the battery. She watched Sprout for a few minutes while I continued to cook.

It started to drizzle.

LMC and Husband walked around the house, playing Walkie-Talkies.

LMC went off to the pantry and Husband made it to the living room.

"Fluttershy to Rainbow Dash- do you copy?" said Husband.
"COPY!" said LMC
"FLUTTERSHY HERE! 10-2!" continued LMC.
"You better come quick, there's trouble in Ponyville!" said Husband.
"10-2 good buddy-- I mean Rainbow Dash."

We sat down to dinner. A dinner I knew LMC would like. It is not very often that we sit down together as a family for supper. We try to- but LMC gets hungry around 4 now. If I give her a snack, she won't eat supper. So, I elect to feed her supper at 4 and we eat at 6. This makes her a happy camper when Husband walks in the door and we get to have a more relaxed meal- not encouraging good manners, not being in a rush to get a bath, etc. I would prefer to go back to eating as a family, but life is all about phases and stages. And this is our current stage. We eat breakfast together a good bit of the time.

So, when I see where the starts align and we get to eat together, I jump at the chance. I make a meal I know LMC will eat and we sit down as a family. LMC rarely says the Catholic blessing these days, but she always prefaces the blessing she says with, "It's okay I say 'God our Fauder'?"

"That would be lovely, please go ahead."

After singing the blessing, LMC proceeds to tell us that she does not like her supper.

"It's hard to not like something you have not tried."

A debacle of dinner ensued with a rushed bath, no playtime, no settle down time, no story- just prayers and bed.

She didn't even get any dessert... a dessert she made. She went to bed quite hungry.

After she fell asleep, because she was exhausted at this point. I cannot speak with certainty about the hunger, but I can about the exhaustion-- that drizzle turned to rain.

Then rain turned to snow.

And my babies slept so soundly.

And that was our Tuesday. They woke up to snow on the ground Wednesday morning. But that's another day.

I wonder how Mama Bits' and Preacher Woman's day turned out.

Do you blog? Do you ever think about doing a "day in the life" series? Drop me a comment and I will loop you in on the next time we do this. It's fun to see how average days are just that, average. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Homemade Play-Dough

Not to be confused with store bought play-DOH.

School has been cancelled again this week for threat of snow and cold weather. I finally understand where those old folks come from when they say, "I remember walking to school... in the snow... uphill... both ways... with no socks..." Because I remember when one of the moms who drove carpool came to pick us up. I remember she was the one that drove because she grew up "up North."

Because it apparently snows more up there.

We in our blue and white uniforms were called out of our respective classes to see Mrs. K in her full length mink and leather gloves with the station wagon still running and the snow coming down in sheets. We hopped in and she scraped the ice off the windshield before depositing us back in the neighborhood. As I watched her scrape the ice- that's when I knew she knew what she was doing.

So far, 2014 has not impressed me. It's been cold, super cold, but not freeze water in mid-air, cold. School has been canceled 4 times already and it's not even February. Yesterday, it was 71 and beautiful. Today? It's 41.

And school is canceled. Again. Because a wintry mix might head this way if the starts align just so. It was 71 yesterday. It was 68 before that. It has not been cold enough for the ground to be that cold for it to turn into anything other than a pain in my neck. (I'm speaking high and mighty- if you can't tell. Because I lived Up North for three years and now consider myself a professional in all things winter, traffic, and DC.)

Don't the parenting gods know that Tuesday and Thursday is when I rejuvenate myself for the other days?

I digress...

I skipped the run on the grocery store yesterday because we have plenty of bread- which is deemed dire snow food- but did wake up in a panic this morning that I only had one bottle of wine. Scooting off to the store before the family was awake, I started thinking about what we were going to do trapped inside on this kinda cold day.

Sans the grocery store, nothing is open.

The parenting gods are laughing.

LMC and I set in to make play-dough.

Homemade play dough is crazy easy and kinda fun. LMC got to pick out the colors she wanted and sprinkle in the glitter. We divided it up into three balls and I rolled the food coloring into each one while she told me how I was doing it wrong.

The recipe and idea came from Pinterest. Give it a go. Pat yourself on the back that you are working towards being an MOTY. And pour yourself a glass of wine at 5 that you survived this day.

Play Dough

1 cup water
2 T. coconut oil (the recipe calls for veggie oil, but I didn't have any. Coconut oil... I had that, but veggie oil? Notsomuch)
1 cup AP flour
1/4 CUP salt (yes, cup)
2 T. cream of tartar
gel-based food dye (no idea what this is, but I used the McCormick container of four colors. My hands are a little rainbow-y, but the play dough came out fine)

Combine all the ingredients together and whisk over medium heat until smooth. At some point, switch to a heavy spoon/spatula and keep stirring until a dough forms. Remove from heat, divide into balls and color each ball as you see fit.

An old teacher of LMC's used to add different spices and extracts to her play dough. It made it appealing to both the hands and the nose. Using the coconut oil, it actually kept my hands from drying out.

I look like I know what I am doing.

As Dorothy says, "Do write and speak of your mistakes."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

In Drive

LMC and I are sitting on the couch right now. Bennie is sleeping soundly. LMC is playing on the iPad and I am sitting and staring at my blog wondering as my mind wanders around what to say.

What kind of good news can I share?

You, on the other side of the computer who sit and read what I write. You, thousands of you who check in on our family daily- seeing our updates, our hysterics, our grief, our love. You, all of you deserve to hear good news because You have been with me since the beginning.

Brother is doing... so well. So amazingly well. I looked back at some past words I wrote trying to find a path into this simple blog. I had mentioned several times that he has to be seizure free for six months before he can drive. A few days ago, his car pulled into my driveway. Expecting my mom behind the wheel as his car has been shuffled between our three houses over the past six months, I opened my garage door to let her in with Niece.

Brother walked through the door with Niece, keys in his hand. Not wanting to acknowledge this major accomplishment as anything more than a minor occurrence in our day, I flipped my chin in the air with a nod and said, "Thanks for dropping her off. We will return her this evening after supper."

He nodded and gave his daughter a kiss before leaving out the same door he came. The door clicked shut. I looked down at Niece and we shared equal grins before I scooped her up in a great hug.

"Did you like riding with your Daddy over to LMC's house?"
"YEAH! He let me pick out the music and I rolled down my window. I love Daddy. He's the best."

Those soft sweet words from that sweet little girl and it made my heart soar knowing that Brother is continuing to heal. Even in her credulous mind, even she knew this short trip down Main Street, just the two of them, was a feat.

Six months. It has been six months since those twinges turned convulsions overtook his body and collapsed everything he had been working towards. Everything being life. Six eternally quick months of rides from family and friends, six months of fear of having to start the clock over, one hundred and eighty days of progress.

He has made a commitment to our annual golf tournament to volunteer once again and has been at the gym for increasing lengths and increasing number of days, working on building his stamina as the course is large and hilly. He needs every bit he can gain to prepare himself for something that is difficult for even those that are in the best of shape.

He makes me smile. He makes me laugh. He infuriates our oldest daughter when he calls her funny names and she stomps her feet and says, "I am NOT a stinker, Uncle Brother." He encourages us just as we try to encourage him. In the end- he has done it all himself. I cannot make his progress my accomplishment anymore than he can make my work his.

He completes our family, both my little family in this large house and my entire family residing but a few miles apart.

Smile and share in this good news and know that we would not be here if it were not for you.

You who pray.
You who support.
You who read.
You who love.
You who give.
You who ask.
You who are our angels.

We have many more hills to climb and many more uncertainties, but we have forward motion. The car is in drive and we are moving in the right direction.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I might be lacking in this mothering business- but I am kicking some serious tail at Aunting.

The other day, Niece said, "Wife- you make the very best Ranch dressing."

Talk about a compliment. I love some Ranch dressing. It's a bad running joke in my family- one that I get annoyed with, quite frankly. But, in the end- it's the truth. I like a side of ranch dressing with my french fries. And I like french fries when we go out to eat.

I asked Niece if she would like to come over one day soon and I can show her how to make my secret Ranch dressing recipe. Her eyes grew wide and said she could only be so lucky to learn the secret. In the meantime, could I just tell her how to do it?

Niece... let's see... we add a little milk.
And then some mayonnaise.
Some spices and sour cream.
That's it? -- she asked.
That's it. -- I replied.
"But, don't tell anyone, it's my secret recipe."

First thing that rascal did as soon as she got in the car with her mom that afternoon....

"Mama, I know how Aunt Wife makes her Ranch dressing. She makes the BEST Ranch dressing. She told me her secret recipe."

And then proceeds to spill my secret!

"But, Mama-- don't tell anyone. It's a secret."

The next day, Niece came over. I pulled out two identical bowls, two spatulas, two sets of measuring spoons, and two whisks. I asked LMC to grab her grocery buggy and we headed into the pantry to go grocery shopping for the items we needed. We pushed the buggy around the pantry, gathering supplies, before easing over to the refrigerator and picking up the cold ingredients.

I had no idea how excited Niece was about getting to make Ranch dressing with Aunt Wife. She told her friends about it. She told her mom about it. She even told me about it! She listened to everything I said and asked me plenty of questions.

"Why are we adding this?"
"Why do we whisk it?"
"When do we use the spatula?"
"What does this do?"

And the most important one...

"Do I get to take mine home?"

One by one, I doled out the ingredients and told each how to measure and what they needed to add. Whisking everything, we pulled this Ranch dressing together, tasting along the way. What was so interesting is that... no matter how much you tell the girls how to do it, it is still going to be their creation, meaning that four and a half year olds and five years old only follow directions just so well...

After they ran off to play, I corrected the errors of too much on the left (LMC) and too little on the right (Niece), combining them to create two equal jars of yumminess for Niece to take home and LMC to have with her supper.

hashtag AOTY.
hashtag MOTY.