Monday, June 23, 2014

PSA, Part II

My last post was a PSA. My next post was going to be all about making homemade strawberry milk as we went strawberry picking last Friday.

But making strawberry milk- while entertaining to a five year old- is not nearly as entertaining to a 33 year old. Nor would it have been as entertaining to you- my faithful reader. The pictures, while beautiful, would be a blip on your entertainment radar.

LMC and I thought that we should make jam with our 300 pounds of fresh strawberries that we had withering away in our fridge. This makes sense to me- it's 95 degrees outside, we have 180 square feet of window in our kitchen, which makes it a balmy 79 in the house. Clearly, clearly I need to be standing over a vat of boiling water and a separate vat of boiling strawberries. 

Clearly- this is a good idea.

With a five year old. 

300 pounds of strawberries hulled, 300 pounds of strawberries individually counted into the food processor by said five year old and 300 pounds of strawberries measured and poured into the stock pot for cooking. 

Some tips, for those of you that are thinking that this will be a good thing to add to your calendar this week:

- don't.

Okay, seriously. Some tips:

- Pay attention. It doesn't matter how carefully you are holding the tongs to get the glass jar out of the boiling water. When you mistakenly pour out the boiling water over your hand- it'll hurt. You'll swear. And that precious five year old will say, "Mommy, why you say [blank]? [Blank] sounds like a word Daddy doesn't want me to say. Is that right, Mommy? Mommy, why are your eyes closed?" {because I am seeing stars and thinking those lovely words instead of saying them. Mental note- remind her that Daddy does not like that word and we will both get in trouble if she says it. No one wants to get in trouble with Daddy.}

- That burn will leave a mark.

- Five year olds are not reliable measurers - this is a fact. They can count to 117 while you are converting teaspoons of pectin to tablespoons, but they are not big fans of actually measuring what they pour into those strawberries.

- Boiling strawberries are quite viscous. Why is this important? Don't put your face over that pot of boiling strawberries to smell the heavenly aroma. When the bubble of boil hits the surface- it'll pop right in your face and it will hurt. Bad.

- It, too, will leave a mark.

- Have you ever wondered what should be done when the last jar is more empty than full? Google procured no answers as to if I should submerge this potentially lethal bomb into the large vat of boiling water. I thought to myself, "Well- if it explodes, it'll make a great blog," as I gingerly lower the last one in with my eyes closed and nine fingers ready to be burned. Contrary to my fear, it won't explode- because it won't submerge. It'll float. Duh. Score one for the kid who went to college at 16. 

- That five year old will, thankfully, bail out when it comes time to start working with the boiling water. She'll start playing with your wedding rings and drop them down the air conditioning vents- not just one vent, four. Because I have four rings.

Okay, I am kidding about the air conditioning vents- only because I caught her out of the corner of my eye.

But, I will definitely be making this again next year- I just won't go out and pick 300 pounds of strawberries. Unless I forget-- which is very possible. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014


I thought that it would be fun for LMC and her best bud to make homemade corn dogs. But first, I must confess--

I have never had a corn dog.


I've never eaten at Taco Bell either, but that's a different story.

Okay, so corn dogs. A-L-L the recipes out there say that they are "easy"
They are "fun"
They are "delicious"
They are "simple" ... and you can just "whip them up."

Guess what, Dr. Wikipedia?

The Internet was not invented by Al Gore and it lies.

It lies big fat lies that make liars out of us.

They might have been easy- Easy to make, that is. But easy equates to "not messy" in my book. And they certainly weren't that. Scratch that off the adjective list.

They were not that fun, because they were that messy. The kids quickly escaped the gooey cornbread "dough" to play with glass and chase each other with scissors. I was helpless to help them, as I was up to my eyeballs in gooeyness. The oil was popping and I was making a bigger mess trying to wrap those dogs and get them in the pan.

Now, I will say this-- I can no longer make the statement that I have never had a corn dog. I have. I took a bite before I gave them to the girls to see what a corn dog tastes like.

"Hmm.... I made this big mess and have goo in my hair. Maybe I should see if all this hard work was worth it?"

I eye the dog wrapped in Heaven-Sent gold and take a tentative bite. Very tentative. I closed my eyes and thought maybe I could eat all of the puppies before the girls returned with knives.

They were...

I have...

They were...


I mean...


Speechless. They made me speechless. My husband is going to make me eat these all the time so he can get some silence in this house. (And I can put on 150 pounds)

Now to clean the kitchen. I'm never making them again.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Let it Go

If anyone out there is the mother of a daughter under 4 and a half feet tall, you know all about Elsa.

And Ana.

And Frozen.

The girls play it on the playground. They run around singing "Let it Go" on repeat- complete with all the motions that Elsa so vehemently expresses herself with. They want to be Elsa, who is- for all practical purposes- a selfish Ice Queen. No big deal, she comes around in the end- thanks to her little sister and the magic of Disney. And, of course, as all little sisters do, this all started with Ana antagonizing her.

I have to confess, I had no idea about Frozen. But, I heard the song on repeat sitting outside LMC's dance lessons every Monday.

"Let it Go... Let it go... can't hold it back anymore... let it go. Let it go... something about holding it in anymore"

This was to be the dance recital song. So, I downloaded it.

Initially it was...

"Mama, can you please pray the Frozen song?"

It evolved into...

"Mama, will you pleeeaasssseeeee play the Elsa song?"

Until it became...

"Mama, Let's cut on LET IT GO! And, and, and, AND let's play it SUPER LOUD!"

This song. This song. I don't remember being as obsessed with "Under the Sea" and Ariel as they all are with Elsa and Letting it Go. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I suppressed that memory. Whatever. I'm letting it go.

As the girls practiced behind the door, we mothers sat in the waiting room listening to their dance lessons and hearing them sing along to "Let it Go" -- some with better voices than others. None with the ability to both sing and dance at the same time.

LMC had her dress rehearsal and recital last week. I have to admit, I scoffed. $60 for a costume. And we had to buy two of them. $12 per ticket to the recital. And we had six people in attendance. $20 for pictures. $78 a month for lessons. Shoes- because she has growth spurts at the most inopportune times- like the end of the year and the new shoes would be used for about a month.  And we have both tap and ballet shoes.

I scoffed because I am cheap. Cheap - Cheap. Painfully cheap, sometimes. Wheeling and dealing kind of cheap. But, you can't wheel and deal with dance recitals. And you shouldn't. Your husband children will be embarrassed and people will talk about you.

So, I smiled and wrote my checks- happy to ignore my inner cheapskate - happy to see my peanut on stage and cheer on her hard work. Over the moon to see her in sequins and makeup.

Watching from my seat- not just my daughter- but all the daughters up there- I was humbled. I had no idea what kind of good work a dance studio can accomplish in the community. I had no idea that these girls learned more than just the words to "Let It Go." The dance studio where LMC dons her tap shoes and leotard is a fun, loving, and welcoming place. They gain self confidence learning the steps and practicing for the recital. We live 1/4 mile from "THE" ballet company in town. We drive right past it, into the next county over for LMC to have her lessons.

In addition to LMC's class, her studio teaches special needs children ballet- and their parents get to sit in the audience and beam at their daughters as they turn and pliĆ© in their own $60 costume. We all cheered them on- because we were all amazed at the accomplishments of these girls.

I, too, am amazed by my friend who owns the studio. She created this environment for the girls. She makes it a place that people want to bring their daughters. She encapsulates the girls in a positive learning environment which makes them love dance even more. I look forward to next year. Writing my checks, spending my money, sitting for an hour on Mondays and watching my daughter learn more in her tap and ballet shoes. 

And her $60 sequin costume. Times two. 

Monday, June 9, 2014


My house smells like gardenias. My whole house. Probably because I have fresh clipped gardenias in every room with a handful of teeny tiny roses that I carefully took from the growing bushes in our yard. One of my favorite things to do when Bennie goes down for a nap is take LMC outside with scissors and we pick out the flowers we want to snip. After bringing them inside, LMC gets distracted with "Littlest Pet Shop" (the thing that almost replaces My Little Pony). I rinse them, clip them shorter, remove most of the leaves, and fancy myself a florist as I fuss over the little fragrant bundles of joy.

Bud vases in the bathroom, the kitchen, by my side of the bed, and especially-- especially in the girls' rooms. Ladies should wake up to fresh flowers. Even if we are working with LMC on eating like a lady, she can at least wake up like a lady- with man-size morning breath.

I once said that gardenias made me sad. And to an extent, they do. They are so pretty for just a blip in the summer before the heat overtakes the white blossoms and turns them yellow before brown. While they still smell yummy, their beauty is gone.

I can so clearly remember gardenias in different chapters of my life. Not like other flowers or fashions, but more like music. Who can forget some of the top songs growing up? It comes on the radio and instantly you swirl back to being a kid in carpool, or driving in your first with the song way past the parent approved volume. You go back to college and sitting outside the house with Greek letters thinking these days will never end. Or back to being first married and still found time to dance in the kitchen.

The air is filled with the sweetness from the little white bud and it carries me away, but also plants me so very close in the present with LMC. Maybe when she grows up and moves on, she will walk down the sidewalk and a gardenia will catch her olfactory by surprise and she will remember putting her sister down for a nap to go outside with her mom to cut flowers for the house?

Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, this time of year-- those flowers! It almost makes up for the suppressing humidity. Mix it with the aroma of the BBQ ribs Brother taught Husband and Wife how to cook last night and we probably have achieved the scent we will find in Heaven.