Thursday, April 30, 2009

Caviar Taste on a Fish Stick Budget

I've said it before and I'll say it again.
I suffer
I'm not sure if my problem is rare, or wide-spread.

I think most of us have caviar taste, and probably a great deal of us have a fish-stick budget. But I'm not sure how many people actually realize this to be true about themselves. I think its the being aware of the problem that makes it painful.

If I didn't know that I liked nice things, the fish-sticks wouldn't bother me.
If I didn't know that the money would indeed run out if I bought caviar instead of fish-sticks, I could enjoy the caviar without any thought.

Instead, I am fully aware that I want beautiful things, but can only afford "passable" things.

Complications include severe "I wants", indecision, frustration, and multiple opportunities to be reminded that humility is an appropriate cure.

I've heard that a steady diet of fish-sticks lasting well into the years that caviar could be afforded is the BEST way to ensure that the caviar can one day be consumed...most likely by my children.

I gotta find a way to make these "fish-sticks" in my life more interesting. Can you dress up a fish-stick? I know it will never be caviar, but it doesn't have to be soggy and sided with ketchup, right? Maybe we can upgrade to panko breaded? I *think* I deserve it, but then, what do I actually "deserve"? What does anybody deserve? Food for the belly and a home to live in. Anything above Fish-sticks and trailers is a privilege, isn't it? I would do well to remember that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Happy Birthday Wonderful Girl!

I love you.

I love your Smile,
I love your Scowl ;)
I love your crazy sense of humor.
I love your forgiveness
I love your kindness
I love your hardworking character.

You are a wonderful child.
(are you mad that I called you a child on your 15th birthday?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sing this to "Did you think to Pray"

As you left your room this morning, 

Did you think to Play?
In the name of all that's holy
Could you stay away from mommy
At the break of day

Toys are sitting in your playroom
Play will get you smiles today
So, when TVs not an option
Did you think to Play?

When you meet with Cartoon Network
You forget to play
When you see the guns and lasers
I don't want to hear your "Please sirs"
Please just go and play

Toys are sitting in your playroom
Play will get you smiles today
So, when TV's not an option
Did you think to Play?

Is it too much to ask for the morning to start no earlier than 6:30 am and without any climbing, jumping, or "I wanting"?  Please, can't you just go play?

Monday, April 27, 2009

No Tree Hugging Necessary

No matter what your political bent when it comes to how to treat this planet we call home, see EARTH. There are probably two lines in it which you may cheer or jeer depending on your political point of view, and they are said in passing, as a tool to move the story along.
The cinematography is beautiful!

I would warn you however, if you have naturally inquisitive children, or scientifically minded children, or easily excitable children, or you spend alot of time at the zoo, don't expect your children to sit quietly through this movie. Every new scene will cause a squeal of delight, a question, an exclamation, or a giggle. Occassionally there may be an expression of concern.

This is a beautiful movie, and definitely one to see on the big screen. Nature at its best.

p.s. One thing I was really pleased with was the editing. They showed "the hunt" on multiple occassions, but they never showed any gore. This movie was totally appropriate for our 3 year old. The only time she worried was when an elephant left the herd being chased by lions. They did not show the lions taking down the elephant, she seemed worried that she was leaving her family. I did tell her a little fib though, when she asked why the elephant was leaving, I told her she was taking the lions for a walk so they wouldn't bother her family any more. I should have told her "She's going to make dinner" lol

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Red Hot 'n' Bleu

If this recipe were made according to its original directions, we could call it "Red Hot 'N' Bleu" Dip, but since I'm the only one who likes Bleu cheese in our house, we don't mix it in, and we can't call it Red Hot 'N' Bleu.  Oh well.  I'll have to save my cleverness for another time.  

In the meantime, here is my version (or is it JP's version? He is the one that put it together for last night's picnic) of Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip.
 JP Quadrupled the recipe, and I was not present when he mixed it, so if he improvised any, I'm unaware of the changes.

1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 C Franks Red Hot sauce (original flavor)
1/2 C Ranch Dressing (we used Maries)
2 Chicken Breasts cooked and chopped (I don't know if he nuked them, sauteed them, or boiled them.  I know he didn't grill them, but there's no reason why you should not grill them.)
Mozzarella Cheese
Onion Powder

Mix together the first 4 ingredients * I would also add garlic to that top list, 1 clove minced, or granulated to taste*
Place mixture in bakind dish or pie plate, Bake at 350 for 20 mins.  Top with Grated Mozzarella, sprinkle little with onion powder and place under broiler until cheese is toasty and delicious looking.  Remove from oven and sprinkle chopped parsley over top (fresh would be SO nice!) Garnish with Celery leaves.  Serve with Celery, Chips, Bread, Spoons, whatever. (The dip is hearty and needs a substantial dipping mechanism.  We haven't tried it yet, but I'm thinking toasted French Baguette would be an excellent dipping tool)

Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

(and if you choose to take this to a pot-luck, be prepared to hand out the recipe.  If you're lucky, somebody might even tell you "This is the best dip I ever had!")

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Laws of the Universe, According to me and various other family members

If its easy, it makes you fat, if its difficult it makes you skinny.

If you're going to hide, don't fart.

Its a little known fact that Chef-Boy-R-Dee is chock-full of tomatoes.  It is important to keep it this way. (The little known fact part).

As it turns out 6 year old boys are confused by the idea that tomatoes are good for their Man-Parts, thankfully so. (thank you DADDY for pointing this out at dinner time, and NO I was NOT serving Chef-Boy-R-Dee for dinner, thank you very much, that was a nice green salad.  Chef-Boy-R-Dee is for after school snacks, and no, I don't pretend that I think its "healthy")

If you say it, and its naughty, your children will say it too.  If you say it and its not naughty, your children will act like you've never spoken a word to them in their life.

The threat of being treated like a baby if a child continues to act like a baby, sometimes backfires.  Terribly.

The promise of no nap-time in exchange for no thumb-sucking results in a very crabby kid who doesn't suck their thumb.

If a child states she wants to be Cinderella when she grows up, don't go getting ready to retire in style.  Chances are she is referring to the idea that mopping the floor on her hands and knees looks like fun to her.

Acts of kindness between syblings are often suspect. Compliment them anyways.

If you spend 5 dollars on a pair of sunglasses, you will never lose them.  If you spend $20, they will be gone the next day.  (If you spend $400, you might as well get the boob-job to go with.)

If you decide to "coupon"...hope you like pasta. 

Pasta is a great pantry item at .25 a bag.

The difference between grown men and little boys is that their bodies are finally big enough to carry out the jack-assery they think of in their heads.

It is entirely possible that the Nephites used the same kind of canons against the Lamanites as Jar Jar Binks used against the Trade Federation.

If you begin every statement with the phrase "I know"...It carries 10xs more weight than if you start it with "Did you know".

3 year olds are entirely capable of following instructions from 6 year olds and adults who are not realtives of the 3 year old.

If your name is "Aunt Melanie" are a hero. 

Stopping drains decreases populations of fruit flies.  Nasty lunchboxes increase populations of fruit flies.

While getting drunk and smoking pot in public, do not be surprised if somebody calls the cops before you put your 5 kids in the car to go home.

If you call the cops on drunks and pot heads, do not be surprised if their friends drive by you later and behave in a menacing manner.

Its easy to say "do the right thing" its much harder to do it.

Stereotypes exist because some people love to live the "type".

If Chewbaca decides to tear your arms out, when he's done, he will kick you in the nuts, because that's what Wookies do.

Writing a critique of a children's school assembly gets you google-hits and very long letters from the producers of the assembly.

Diet Pepsi tastes better than Diet Coke, unless you mix Diet Cranberry/Pomegranate juice with it, in which case it tastes like insecticide, but without the calories.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Century Mark

Its gonna hit 100 degrees today! Yep, 100. I love the desert, I love everything about living here, even the heat. But, I will admit, it seems just a tad early for 100.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Time to Declutter, Again.

Last week we got the call we'd been waiting on, to find out whether we'd be able to stay in the house we've been renting for the last year, or be looking for a different home.  

We'll be looking for a different home.  

I'm not exactly looking forward to the prospect of moving, but there are some things I'm looking forward too.

For one, I really do need to "declutter", and this is the perfect reason to hit it hard.  
Secondly, there have been some things going on in our neighborhood that make me feel uncomfortable.  Namely, 20 something pit-bull owners who have people in and out of their home all night long.  I suspect they may be "cooking"...but I don't have any proof of that.  The property values in this neighborhood have gone down by nearly 60% and I think people are buying these houses and renting them out to whoever will pay without regard to what they're doing to the neighborhood.  

On the other hand, I've made some nice friends in the nieghborhood, and I hate to leave them.  (Not that we're going very far away).  

So today I get to go out and look at a handfull of homes.  I hope it will become obvious to us which one to chose.  But these things are never as simple as they seem.  In the meantime, I guess I'll take 5 minutes and find several things to purge.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back to the Days of Christopher Robin

My 12 year old neice thinks her life has been ruined by a boy who won't shut-up.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to go back to the days which were so innocent, the worst a boy could do to you was run his mouth when you didn't want him too?

(this in no way  reflects on my marriage to JP)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Have Soap, Will Travel

I'm considering keeping a bar of soap in my purse.
After reviewing the following exchange, I'm sure you'll support me in this decision.

Me: Time to leave the park, lets go.
Lily: No, I'm not leaving
Me: Well, yes, you are leaving, lets go. (takes Lily by hand, moves in direction of home)
Lily: You are not my father! You are not my Mother! You are not my Brother!
Me: (nothing)
Lily: I am not going home! (attempts to wrench hand away and head back to the park)
Me: (keeping hold of small three year old body)"do not do that, you will hurt your arm, we are going home now."
Lily: I am NOT HAPPY!!! You are NOT MY FATHER!
Me: Nope, I'm not your father, I'm your mother. I understand that you are not happy. Lets go.
Lily: I'm sick and tired!
Me: lets go.
Lily: I'm sick and TIRED!!!!
Me: what are you sick and tired of?
Lily: Pulling your HEAD out of your BUTT!
Me:---nothing--- honestly, what can you say when your three year old says this to you?

So I marched her home, put her in her room, and ran to tell her father what she has learned from him...neither of us could keep a straight face. But I defy her to try it again. Like I said, "Have Soap, will Travel."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Smell My Hand

When a three year old tells you "smell my hand" its one's first response to be repulsed, followed by curiosity. Fortunately, in this instance, it was also followed by great pleasure that the hand in question smelled just like soft-soap, therefore, it had recently been washed.

Unfortunately, there was another smell eminating 'round the house that wasn't quite so pleasant. Upon returning from a long weekend in San Diego, there was a distinct "Port-a-Potty" smell in the kids hallway. It seemed to be coming from their bathroom, but I emptied the trash, washed the rug, mopped the floor, cleaned the luck. I sniffed the shower curtain, nothing. Walked out of the room and into a bedroom, nothing. Walked back in--definitely something. UGH.

Two days later, the smell is equally pungeant, and the source equally undetectable. Then JP has a lightbulb moment. "Did you check the step-stool/training potty?" he asks. My eyes shot wide open, my lips turned down in a frown, I gingerly approached the former training potty (which by the way was used all of 2 times while actually potty training) and there it was. It smelled like a Port-a-Potty in the house because somebody (and it had darn well better be nobody other than a 3 year old!) had decided we needed a Port-a-Potty in our house and did horrible things in that pot.

We threw the entire pot out. No more step-stool in the kids bathroom, and there had better not be any more Port-a-Potty creations in my house!

Thank heavens for Gold Canyon Candles.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Boy, Do I love YOu!

Today is this guy's 6th birthday.  This time of year brings many memories flooding back.  Its amazing to me how 6 years can both seem like just yesterday, and like an entirely different lifetime. Gabriel, when you were born life was so different. We were newlyweds, Daddy was in the Marine Corps, we lived in government housing.  That year we cleared 17k.  Operation Iraqi Freedom had started just weeks before.  Mommy thought Daddy was sitting in a tent safely in Kuwait (mommy was wrong, but daddy didn't bother to correct that impression until months later).  After a small, but as it turns out helpful, miscommunication, Daddy thought the life of baby Gabriel was in danger.  He's told us that after he read the letter that he misunderstood, he walked up to his superior officer and handed him his weapon, saying "I can't have this right now"...that's when events turned and phone calls were made, and 24 hours, a helicopter ride, a transport plane, an airliner, and an excruciatingly long car-ride, brought daddy home to see you before you were even 36 hours old.  He had been on the other side of the earth and he came home to hold you.  Daddy never went back to Iraq, but the war continues even today on your 6th birthday.  I have loved watching you grow up.  You have brought us so much laughter and joy.  I will always remember the way you belly-laughed when you were a small baby, the look of surprise on your face when you jumped off the stairs onto the rubber ball and fell, the first time you said "awwwww craaaaaabitz!" and when you told me you already knew how to ride a bike, and then took off down the street without anyone ever having taught you how.  I love that your favorite food is Broccoli, you're always eager to try new things, and you are kind to your sister.  I even love that sometimes you are a little bit naughty, it means you think for yourself, and someday, when you get really good at using your own ideas to make good decisions, you will be a wonderful leader.  Its wonderful to see you make friends wherever you go, study out scientific problems, and run, jump, and do all things "boy".  Yes, son, I do love you.  Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Pocket full of Sunshine

Update:  Due to war crimes committed in rotting detention camps, the fruit-flies have secceded power.  A rotting mass of strawberry tops and balsamic vinegar tucked into a bowl covered tightly in plastic with holes punched into it created the perfect trap.  They couldn't help themselves, they had to get at that fruit, but there would be no escaping.  

Update:  My dear friend, the one who rolled out the Smith and Wesson Welcome Wagon, has been picked up, unless he magically came up with 20k, he is rotting in jail for a few days.  He failed to appear in court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.  Knowing people who know people who know people who signed up for a certain type of job pushed up the date of his eventual arrest significantly-probably by years.  I can't help but wonder how he liked having the gun shoved in HIS face.  Then I feel guilty, not because he got picked up, not because he got a gun shoved in his face, but because I feel so happy about it, and like it was a little revenge, and I can't reconcile that little devil who is jumping for joy with that part of me that wants to be Christlike and forgiving.

Update:  Parent Teacher conferences last week resulted in both joy and frustration.  But I think that's normal.  Academically, Goob is doing excellent.  Socially, he makes friends easily and is a good leader.  Behaviorally, it might be easier on his teacher if he weren't such a good leader.  Did I already tell the story about "killing those damn pigeons"?  if not, let's just say, he learned that kind of behavior at home.  What are we supposed to do about that?

Update:  Lily gets to be a "training girl" as she puts it.  30 mins once a week our Taekwondo instructor is holding a class for a few of the little sisters in the group.  Yesterday Lily didn't participate, she was pretty grumpy from staying up for most of the 6 hour ride home from San Diego on Sunday Night, and getting up at 3:00am to watch cartoons.  But when we left she was all smiles and couldn't wait to go have her play date next Monday.

Update: Our ward is in the middle of an Emergency Preparedness drill.  I learned something new.  Did you know that in a true emergency, your pantry could become the Bishop's storehouse?  My first thoughts on this were: "Well, that's one way to experience living the law of consecration and prove willingness to do it," followed by "I've got some work to do, I sure don't want to be the one taking things from somebody else's pantry."  I had the opportunity to fill out a sheet with exactly what I currently have in my pantry.  Its far better than it would have been 3 months ago, but I'm lacking in the protein department.

Update:  We took our neighbors with us to the Easter Pageant.  They loved it.  They have invited themselves to church with us next week.  Obviously we are welcoming them!

Update:  Its birthday week.  Yesterday was Great Grandma Margie, Today is Aunt Jessica and our friend Christina, and tomorrow is Gabriel.

That's all folks!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Power, Revenge, Connections, Guilt

Is it the guilt that makes me a good person, or is it the guilt that holds me back from being a force to be reckoned with?

***to be clear, I didn't do anything revengeful, I just felt like a little revenge had been served on my behalf.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

1930's family dinner part 2

Next week we'll have to write up the menu party style, but this week, its back to the family table.

We're serving up fried squirrel tonight.  Don't worry, I've dressed and washed this little guy quite thoroughly.  Please give a squeeze of lemon over the tender rodent before consuming. May I offer you gravy?  I do hope you'll enjoy these tasty sweet potato fritters alongside your tasty li'l critter.

You'll need:
 2c mashed sweet potatoes
1/2c flour
1/2t salt
1t baking powder
4t melted butter
2 eggs
1c milk
1T sugar

Combine butter potatoes, sugar, milk, and egg yolks.  Beat until smooth.  Sift flour, measure, and sift with baking poweder and salt.  Add to first mixture.  Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.  Drop by teaspoonfuls into deep fat (365 degrees). Fry until brown.  Drain on crumpled absorbent paper.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  (is anybody else's mouth watering now?)

Spanish String Beans will make an excellent savory side with lots of garlic, onion, and bacon fat.

Shall we finish our plate with delicious apples and onions, thinly sliced, sprinkled with salt, and served with French Dressing?

I don't think we really need dessert tonight, we did just have powder sugar covered sweet-potato fritters afterall.  But if you're extra good, I'll let you chose between Baked Heart, Kidney Stew, and Creamed Brains for tomorrow night, ok?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

General(ly) Grievous

In my battle against the most dread fruitfly, I refuse to wave my white flag.  I will not retreat!   Though the fruitfly general seems to be amassing support in the forms of local militia and youth organizations, I shall not be defeated! 

My battle plan began with sanctions against the rogue dictator.  All supply lines were cut, food sources stashed neatly away in the the refrigerator.  Dirty utensils washed and put away immediately.  Garbage disposer cleansed.  

When the air-attack was launched against me I fired my weapons.  Dozens of casualties were the result of the hours long battle.  And yet, this small yet forceful army prevails.  They fear not my swatting, clapping, flash/bang/booming, household cleaner spraying tactics. I fear war-crimes may be in my near future.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Chef Gooby in the kitchen with Mama

Gabriel, aka Gooby hit the pots and pans the other night and developed an excellent dish!  What was his guidance from mom?  "Please be safe near that hot pan" along with some actual physical assistance where bacon grease is involved, was about the extent of my input.  I did season his creation when he was done, but other than that, this is GABE's original recipe!

1 pound asparagus, woody ends snapped off ( he did this completely and totally by himself!)
1/2 pound bacon, chopped and fried till crispy.

place fried bacon on a paper towel to drain. (mama did the bacon frying, I'm not completely insane)
pat your washed asparagus COMPLETELY dry, then drop into the same skillet you cooked your bacon in.  Remove when it turns vibrant green.  Place in serving bowl. (Gabe did this) Salt and Pepper (Gabe did that too) and place your chopped bacon over the asparagus (or asperikis as he says it).  Momma squeezed a wedge of lemon over the whole lot just to brighten it up a bit. 

Not only was the original recipe for  "Asperikis" a hit with the mom and dad, the children ate it too! even better.

It was actually REALLY REALLY Good.  I had been cooking the bacon to add to a salad,  but when Gabe asked if we could cook the asparagus in the bacon grease I thought that sounded mighty tasty! (if not the healthiest way to dress up asparagus, but asparagus left uneaten doesn't have any health benefits either, does it?)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Shall I go ahead and start digging my grave?

Because yesterday, I bought a pair of "Easy-spirits"...and I darn near got a pair of Aerosoles in the same shopping trip, but I quickly realized that if I should approach the cashier with both a pair of Easy-spirits AND a pair of Aerosoles, they may call the nearest nursing home to come pick up their escapee.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Security Blankets

I have long been aware that I use my children as a security blanket. In just about any situation that I don't feel quite comfortable, I can pick up a child and entertain him or her and feel just fine. Tending to my children gets me out of interacting as Lisa and gets me an in with other mom's who are feeling the same way (which is "I might not be interesting enough for these people, so I'm going to pretend my children can't be left alone, when in fact I just don't want to feel inadequate around all these beautiful, child-free, world-traveling, dressed to the nines people who believe they truly ARE the world's most interesting people.) Children draw us together, make us feel adequate (and even sometimes, simoultaneously INadequate). They give use comfort, something outside ourselves to place our attention. They are infact, when used properly, an excellent way to avoid all things adult! But what got me thinking about this today is that I noticed in my "followers" box ALOT of profile photos that are either entirely composed of children, or, feature children next to various adults. So, I am drawing the conclusion that I am not the only mother who uses her children to protect herself from social discomfort. Am I wrong?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Faking it.

Fully an hour before I was comitted to rising out of my bed this morning, those adorable little peepers that sit outside my window in a nearby tree began singing what I'm sure they believed to be a cheerful song. Paying homage to the rising sun was not on my "to-do" list today however, and I'll admit to feeling just a bit cranky when I rolled over in bed awakened by the sound of these happy little birdies. I checked the clock and realized I had only 15 minutes before JP would walk in the door from a long night at work. So I tossed and turned, trying to stay warm under the thin blanket and sheet we've adopted as bedcovers ever since we realized we could no longer live with the bedspread which would never stay in place, straighten nicely, or even pretend to look good. My mind immediately went to various topics of grumpiness, none of which are very important, certainly nothing to literally lose sleep over. I heard JP walk in the door, and maybe he just makes me happy, I don't know, but I decided to put my grumpy self under the covers and wait until I was certain he was standing at the side of the bed. Then just before he tried to ever so quietly sneak into bed without waking me, I popped up and yelled "Surprise!" (wearing mismatched flannel pajamas and yesterday's make-up smudged around my eyes...) Needless to say that drew a few laughs. I pretended to be in a good mood for a few minutes longer and before I knew it I WAS in a good mood! I'm still tired, I'm still thinking about going back to bed, but at least I am no longer feeling homicidal towards any of God's precious pigeons. (or quail, or dove, or whatever else ridiculously happy and loud bird is out there in that tree.)