Sunday, July 31, 2011

Moopa Turns Two

Two is a miraculous age.  When my munchkins hover around the age of two I see big changes.

I see them become miniature people.

Moopa now fancies footwear.  She prefers plastic heels.  She also likes any shoe that is several sizes too large that does not belong to her.

She actually likes almost anything that does not belong to her.

She loves Chips Ahoy.  These cookies are her preferred  "ride in the shopping cart" snack.

Her "Lovey" is still her constant companion.  She now likes to throw Lovey when articulating she doesn't require a nap.

She likes to eat pizza and drink juice, and she has decided she no longer will eat dry cereal.  I have no problem with this change in heart except that it makes on-the-go options tricky.

Which brings us back to Chips Ahoy.

I hope there are no nutritionists reading the blog today.

Watching her claim her independence is a rewarding and exhausting experience.  And thanks to my first three munchkins I've learned to laugh and enjoy the ride.

Time goes by in the blink of an eye.  And I'm grateful that I've learned to keep everything in perspective.

And perspective has taught me that plastic heels for errands is perfectly acceptable when you are two.  

As a matter of fact, plastic heels are a must.

And I hope no one ever tells her otherwise.

HaPpY MoNdAy!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

5 ? Friday!

Yes! Happy Friday! Two nights of work under my belt and I am looking forward to two nights off! 

Today is a very VERY special Friday.  My Moopa turns 2 today.  I can't believe it.  I truly don't know where the past two years have gone.

Tomorrow I shall post about her birthday.  The balloons are up and the decorations are plentiful.  There is a new LaLaLoopsy wrapped and a Secret Garden Playhouse is assembled.  Cakes are on order and the house needs to be cleaned.

There is still much to do before we celebrate with family, and so tonight I am rockin' 5 ? Friday.  

5 ? Friday (Join in Here!)

1. Vow renewal ceremonies-yay or nay? 
Nay.  I am not mushy.  Vow renewals are mushy to the max.  

But a fabulous trip to celebrate an anniversary?  Sign me up buttercups.

2. What sound/s annoy you the most?
I really don't like hearing people eat.  Loud eating makes me crazy.  I can't even describe it, but if I listen and hear chewing I get really "biatchy".

Crazy but true.
Who wants to join us for dinner?  I'm sure there is a line forming as I type this...

3. If you had to pick, would you have only all boys, or only all girls for kids?

I can't answer this question.  I have both boys and girls.  They are BOTH wonderful.

My boys are rambunctious.  They're rowdy.  They don't overthink everything and they bounce back much quicker from a "social quandary".  They love their mommy and they play sports.

I LOVE sports.  
I know girls play sports too but I live for football season.
My girls are usually quiet.  They like school and have nice penmanship.  They color and play with stuffed animals.  They like to shop and have their nails done.

They will forever be my pals and forever be "Daddy's Girls".  

So I would take either, because both have their positives and negatives.
4. Do you believe in alternative medicine? 

I would have to say I do. But I believe in prayer more than anything. 
I believe there are many ways to cure and help ailments.  
I know that ice cream is a great relaxation tool and a sweaty run clears the head.  
Love self medication.

5. Would you take a family members children and raise them if they needed it?
Absolutely.  Children are innocent and helpless.  And when you turn your back on them you have turned your back on society.
And our future.
I would do anything to help a child.

Random Moopa Picture!
2 days old, 5 lbs 10 oz.

What a peanut!  Love you baby girl! Happy 2nd Birthday!

Old School Summer

We have no swimming pool.  There are millions of families just like my little circus who are pool-less.  And we all survive the summer just fine.

But this no pool situation has been a sore spot for my munchkins at times.  They are hot.  And sweaty.  And they just want to swim.

They need to cool off.  And an inflatable pool gets old fast.

And so last summer I had to get creative.  Mama had to work her magic.

With a twist on the inflatable pool our yard became cool again.  And my munchkins love "cool".

For now I'm grateful that my munchkins are being experience summer old school style.  It may not be by choice, but it's an adventure to be had.

Happy "Old School Summer" to all my fellow pool-less pals!

Mommyhood Footnote:  I am eternally grateful to all my pool owning pals who invite us to swim, and have my children to play.  You are generous, patient souls!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

LLG Goes to Baseball Camp

This year I felt it was time for LLG to branch out and try a sports camp.  It's time he experienced life outside of his sister's kingdom.

With LLG, the Gymnastics Queen rules the roost.  And he has happily been her BFF for the past 5 years.

But the time has come for him to play with the big boys.

And next to LLG, some of these boys are B-I-G.

But he is a feisty little guy.  And he is learning how to hang with the boys and catch a few fly balls.

He is learning the art of dumping water over his head.  He is learning to appreciate Gatorade.

Most importantly he is learning to keep his head up, and to keep swingin'.

Because this year the coaches may be giving him 7 or 8 strikes instead of 3, but by next year he'll know how to hit the ball.

He will have learned what it takes to play baseball, and what it means to persevere.

But for this week, he will continue his LLG antics.

And he will continue to sleep very well at night.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich

One of my favorite sandwiches of all time is tomato and mozzarella. 

Summertime is ideal for this sandwich, because tomatoes are plentiful and at the height of their deliciousness. 

I also find this sandwich refreshing.  It is light.  It doesn't require any fancy prep.  And it is superb on a hot summer day.

Especially when enjoyed with an ice cold Diet Coke. 

Or Iced Tea. 

Or Lemonade. 

This sandwich is so superb you cold drink Similac and still be in heaven. 

Mommyhood's Tomato and Mozzarella Sandwich

The bare necessities:
Fresh tomato (I like them on the vine)
A good roll (think ciabatta)
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Optional add in: Fresh Basil
Slice tomato and mozzarella as you like.  I prefer the tomato thin and the mozzarella plentiful.

Toast roll.

Arrange mozzarella and tomato on roll, drizzle with dressing.


Mommyhood Footnote:  If you have a panini, get crazy and make this panini style. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tale of a Yard Sale

This past weekend we had a yard sale.  There were quality items arranged beautifully all around the yard.
Unfortunately the weather at our yard sale hovered around 100 degrees.  Literally.  And when it wasn't 100 degrees it was raining.

This weather pattern was quite annoying. 

The play by play of our yard sale goes something like this:

7am:  Got butt out of bed and took control of set up.  I love to make people crazy.

7:15am:  My father and brother arrived with their collectibles and other big ticket items.  They arranged them beautifully.

During set up the sky looked grim.  We discussed our weather concerns.  We checked the radar because the brilliant weather people didn't forecast rain.

7:55am:  Set up complete. 

8am:  It started to rain.

We scampered to cover anything worth covering.  We waited out the rain inside.

9am:  Rain stopped.  We cleaned everything off and set back up.

10am-5pm:  We sat in our own sweat and took turns making small sales.  We swatted ants crawling all over our legs.

The girls ate WAY too many mint Oreos.

The men drank beer.

The heat was brutal.  And it certainly kept away anyone who appreciates air conditioning.

Which left us with a lot of leftover merchandise.  We left out some merchandise with the hopes it would get stolen.  But no one stole anything.

Which meant on Sunday I went back outside to man the yard sale.  Hubby went golfing.

8am:  Drove to end of street and hung new signs.

9am:  Set everything up.

9:05am:  Rain.  AGAIN.  I covered everything.

9:30am:  The sun came out.  I dried everything and set back up.

10am-12pm:  I sat outside and made some sales.

12:30pm:  The sky opened up and it poured rain.  AGAIN.

I decided I couldn't handle another minute of this yard sale.

1pm:  I quit.
I arrived home from work tonight and just about everything was gone.

Hallelujah.  I clean enough mess. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Learning to Swim: A Mommyhood Milestone

Today we had a "Mommyhood Milestone".

LLG has learned to swim.

I had posted a while back about how I make goals each year for all my munchkins.  We work on skills one year at a time.  Mommyhood pace is slow and steady.

It seems as though learning to swim is on the agenda for at least one munchkin every summer.  My Sports Fanatic learned when he was 7.  My little Gymnastics Queen has this skill on the agenda this summer.  She is 8. 

I love when my munchkins learn to swim.  I can sit beside a pool and watch instead of having a coronary every five minutes.

"Get away from the edge!"

"That's the deep end!"

"Watch that tube!  You can fall through the middle!"

Why am I even at a pool I'm losing years off my life!!!

For years the stress of sitting poolside canceled out the relaxation end of the deal.

LLG has answered my prayers ahead of schedule.  This boy has little fear.  98% of the time this "no fear" clause adds to my coronary issues.  But there are times his willingness to venture out into uncharted territory serves him well.

This morning was one of those times.  I asked him to try and swim without his coveted Scooby Doo life vest.

He happily obliged.

And with some instruction and positive reinforcement only a Mommy can sell,  he was off and swimming.

I'm sure this will cause some trouble when the Gymnastics Queen sees him giving her a run for her money in the pool.  But a little competition will get her butt swimming more independently.

And it will get my butt in a lawn chair. 

Thank goodness Moopa is quite content in her baby boat for now.  No coronaries yet.

Oh happy day.  There is a light at the end of the "please no I don't want to take my munchkins within 100 feet of water" tunnel.

And at the end of that tunnel is me, sunning myself reading a totally pointless fiction novel. 

Happy Friday!  I wish you all big accomplishments this weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: A Moment

A moment worth sharing. 

A moment that reminds me why I love family, and how much I cherish a comfortable silence.

Because so much is said when no words have to be spoken.

Happy Wednesday ~ stay cool!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Coffee Smoothie

I am not a coffee drinker.  Never have been. 

Hubby is not a fan either.  We have one of those awful homes that coffee drinkers despise.  There is no after dinner coffee here.  If you stay the night your morning is met chocolate milk and waffles.

Yet I have a strange desire to force myself to drink coffee.  There is something very "homey" about the smell of coffee brewing in the morning.

I am confident there is hope for me.  I do have deep and sincere passion for coffee ice cream.  And coffee milkshakes.  This love is real.

Part of my anti-coffee problem is that I am not a huge fan of hot beverages.  And so recently I have made an effort to try the iced coffees.  And Frappucinos.  And lattes.

My mother ship, also known as Target, has a Starbucks inside.  This heavenly place is kind enough to set out small samples of their beverages. 

Whenever a sample beverage with whipped cream is available I happily oblige.  And now I am in an unfortunate situation.

I have found myself semi-addicted to the Mocha Coconut Frappucino.  This situation is unfortunate because they are not cheap. 

And I want one every morning. 

Which means I look for reasons to go to Target.  And then I spend money on a Frappucino AND stuff I don't need.

Today I tried my Frappucino making skills at home.  And as with so many other things, nothing is the same when you make it yourself.

But I did manage to produce a pretty decent Frappucino.  I would actually refer to mine as a "Coffee Smoothie", if there is such an animal.

But I have a ways to go before I am not caught in the Starbucks line at Target.  A LONG ways to go.

In case anyone would like to try my light "Coffee Smoothie", here is the gist of it:

1/2 cup any flavor coffee, cooled (I used french vanilla)
2 tablespoons nonfat creamer (I used french vanilla)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup nonfat milk
2 cups ice
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup

Here's the hard part:

Add it all into a blender and blend it.

Top with whipped cream.

Enjoy and tell yourself you saved $4.98 on a medium Frappucino.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good People

Over the weekend, at my brother's wedding, I saw many people.

Family, friends, acquaintances, musicians, photographers....

The list goes on and on.

There is one thing about weddings and unfortunately funerals that always holds true.  You see people you only see at weddings and funerals.

And then you always leave saying, "I love so and so.  They are such good people.  We really need to see them more...."

And you never do.

Well, until another wedding or funeral rolls around.

Good people warm my heart.  They are golden to the core and being around them makes me happy.
They are quick to help when you need them, and they're gracious when you ask a favor.  They are good hearted, good natured, and they are good listeners.
They will squeeze into the car to give you a ride, even if it means less leg room for a few hours.  They will run to your house when you forgot something, or to let your dog out. 
They keep the little things in perspective, and they don't mind a small inconvenience.  

They make me want to be a better person.

This weekend I saw many of the "good people" in my life.  And I start my week with a renewed desire to be a good person.  To be someone worth being around.

Be good today.  And make an effort to see some of the people worth being around in your life, because they make you better.

Happy Monday!

Mommyhood Footnote:  In my life, "Good People" started with my parents.  They have been the best example a girl could have asked for!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Wedding

On Saturday, my youngest brother married his longtime girlfriend.  We affectionately call her "Lady". 

Actually, it's pronounced "Laaaaaaaaddddyyyy".

The rehearsal dinner was on Friday.  And that was the beginning of a weekend filled with mushy wedding fun.
My brother and Lady made the wedding about them and all they stand for, which made the wedding a great time.

It wasn't what her parents wanted, or what my parents wanted.  It was their music, their attire, and their day.
Just as it should have been.
Our father married them.  He was ordained through the Universal Life Church of Modesto California several years ago.

He does one heck of a job. 

He wears his kilt and he makes the ceremony personal. 
My brother and Lady also included all their nieces and nephews.  By the time LLG walked down the aisle he had grass stains on his knees and Moopa insisted on carrying her "lovey". 

And this was all okay with them. 
 Lady was chill.  This chick was no bridezilla.  Any bride who will hold a toddler eating a pop tart ten minutes before the ceremony is a keeper.
The bride walked down the aisle to "What a Wonderful World" and the bridal party danced into the reception to "10th Avenue Freeze Out".

It was a wedding celebrating all they are and all they will become as they start their lives together.

I found myself with mist in my eyes quite a few times. 
I had many moments of gratitude for my family.  I looked at my little brother many times with nothing but happiness for all that is ahead of him.  He has found his partner.  His "other half".  And there is no greater gift in life than to have someone to count on.

And I know they will count on each other for much.  I know they have what it takes to weather the storms. 

And I wish them every happiness. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

5 ? Friday

This weekend my youngest brother is getting married.

Yes, we are having a wedding.

All together now, "Awwwwww!"

Weddings have a way of making everyone mushy.  They are a symbol of love.  They stand for the hope we all have that two people can be devoted to eachother.  Forever and always.

Now I'm all mushy too.

With wedding prep a little out of control at my house I am skipping right to 5 ? Friday. 

I have mucho packing to do and many "to bring" piles to assemble.

And so without further ado...

5 ? Friday! Click Here to join in!

1. If you knew your best friend's spouse was cheating on her or him, would you tell her (him)?

Oh yes.  I would find a way to either get that bastard caught or I would spill it myself.  

There is something terribly awful about someone looking like a fool.

All of my peeps have my mommy pledge that I will go down in flames before I allow them to look like fools.

This is obviously much easier said than done, but as the years go by I find myself gaining a backbone.

Hello backbone, where have you been all my life?  I shall now use you to stand up for myself and my peeps.

2. Soda in a can or a bottle?

Can.  Bottle.  As long as its ice cold and bubbly I will take it either way.  I don't have many vices, but Diet Coke makes my list of "must haves".  

My "must haves" must be had several times a day.  This is the trouble when you only have a few vices.

I tend to overindulge.

3. What do you wash first, hair or body?

Excuse me while I imagine my shower routine.  I brush my teeth first, and then I wash the body.  I then move to any required hair removal and finally the hair washing.

I finish with a conditioner, which I leave in while I wash my face.  I then rinse everything and I am clean as a whistle and ready to start my day.

I then hope to make it until noon before the "Mommy Sweat" (see sidebar) rolls in.

4. What advice would you give to any new mama? 

The loss of sleep is by far the biggest adjustment.  

Everyone wonders how people have more than one kid while they are stumbling through their first few months as a new mother.

People manage more than one child because they haven't slept since they had their first.
The biggest adjustment is far behind them.

The only other advice I have for Moms is to tell their munchkins WHAT TO DO, not always what not to do. 

Instead of "Don't throw sand!" or "Don't color on tables!" change the approach to "You play with sand like this" and "We color on paper."  

Munchkins need guidance.  But like all parents, I'm a work in progress.  And any new mom will be too.

5. What is your best hangover remedy?

Don't get plowed.  

I'm not a drinker so that's my only hangover advice. 

Random Picture Time!
My munchkins in the city two days before Christmas.  Oh nellie that weather makes me cringe.  

My skin is cracking at the thought.

Happy Friday!

Cookies 'N Cream Cake

Lately I've had a strange obsession with Jello.  I've been combing the selection at the supermarket wracking my brains for any reason what-so-ever to buy a package of Jello.

My munchkins turn their noses up at Jello Cakes.

They also don't understand that a huge bowl of pudding is really the same pudding they are eating out of those individual containers.

Hence the wracking of my mommy brain trying to find a reason to buy a package of Jello.

But when I saw the Cookies 'n Creme flavor I just couldn't resist.  I had to splurge on something I didn't need. 
I placed the Jello on my stove.  I left it out where I leave all "to bake" items.  And after walking by it a few times I had a flash of brilliance.

I would make a cake.  And it would be fabulous.

And that is the story behind how my Cookies 'n Creme cake was born.  Mix a Jello obsession with a fierce determination to utilize something I completely had no reason to purchase and you get cake.

Let me rephrase.  You get AWESOME cake.

Mommyhood's Cookies 'n Creme Cake

1 box white cake mix, prepared
1 box cookies n' creme Jello
1/3 cup milk
1 container vanilla or chocolate frosting
1 package Oreos

Line 9x13 dish with non-stick foil.  Grease and flour.

Prepare cake mix according to package directions.  Add jello and 1/3 cup milk.  Stir until well combined.

Pour into baking dish.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Check center with toothpick.  When toothpick comes out clean remove cake and cool completely. 

Once cake is cooled, turn upside down and remove from pan.  Carefully peel away foil.

Frost with preferred icing.

Carefully slice 12-14 Oreos into halves.  Set aside.

Place another 10-15 Oreos in Ziplock bag (depending on how much "Cookie Crunch" you desire) and smash with preferred kitchen utensil.

I always turn to my favorite utensil, the good 'ole ice cream scoop.

Sprinkle cookie crumbs over top of cake.

Use halved Oreos to line edges of cake.

Next, stand back and admire its beauty.  Then you need to find somewhere to bring the cake so other people can admire its beauty.

And then you need to eat it.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mommyhood's Chicken Nuggets

My munchkins have a deep and sincere love for chicken nuggets.  If I were investment minded I would have bought stock in Purdue many years ago. 

We spend a small fortune on those fabulous precooked breaded nuggets.  We love those little 'fellas.  My munchkins consume them at a rate of one package every 1.5 days.

This can get costly. 

Recently I decided to serve homemade chicken nuggets.  While they look slightly different, they taste fabulous.  They are also much healthier for the munchkins.  All natural chicken, breaded and fried in extra light olive oil.

To really win the kids over I serve with McDonalds Sweet n' Sour.  I have a small stockpile which comes in handy when I am trying to sell meals like homemade chicken nuggets. 

I can report that Hubby was a huge fan.   And the munchkins did eat them after filing several complaints with the kitchen first. 

If you're feeling adventurous give 'em a try.

Mommyhood's Homemade Chicken Nuggets
(warning: this is NOT rocket science.  It might not even be a recipe.  Consider it an idea worth sharing)

1 package chicken tenders or breasts
1 cup milk
1 cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil

Cut chicken into nuggets.  Dip in milk, and roll in bread crumbs. 
Heat frying pan to medium-low heat.  Add oil.  Add chicken and cover.  Cook 4-5 min and turn.  Cook another 5 min or until centers are no longer pink.

Serve with a dipping sauce.  Dress up in a red basket.  Do whatever you must to sell the nuggets to your munchkins.
And then enjoy their leftovers.

Monday, July 11, 2011

All I Need to Know About Life I Learned From Being a Waitress

If you are in the wrong, apologize.  If you hang in the kitchen, you will eat the food.  Keep your hands clean.  A smile goes a long way.  Treat people kindly and they will be kind.  Some people aren't kind no matter how kindly you treat them.  The older you get, the younger 21 looks. Grease stains are no walk in the park.  Looks can be deceiving.  Be patient with children, they would rather be at McDonalds.  Be patient with parents, if they took their kids to McDonalds they wouldn't have to leave a tip.  Don't assume you're drinking regular coffee.  Regardless of how slow your night is, there will always be a customer ten minutes before close.  Be nice to those customers, because they tip well.  Never be too ashamed to ask for help.  Everyone appreciates extra napkins.  No one is perfect.  An empty glass is a sad glass.  If you see a mess, clean it.  No one cares if you made the mess.  Clothes that are too tight are not flattering.  We all notice when your clothes are too tight.  Tuck your shirt in.  Wear comfortable shoes.  Deodorant is a grand invention.  Melted cheese is not easy to get off silverware.  Many hands make light work.  No one likes to be ignored.  If you don't like someone, ignore them.  Be on time.  A good attitude is the only kind worth having.  Senior citizens are great customers.  Work families are good to have.  They are just as dysfunctional as real families.  Be nice to the dishwasher.  If you don't know something, ASK.  It isn't easy to carry a hot plate.  Everybody is someone's somebody.  Don't get involved in the drama.  No use crying over spilled milk.  Everyone has their own baggage.  Chivalry is not dead.  Stress makes people say things they wouldn't normally say.  Don't take those things to heart.  Sometimes the least paid workers are the ones who work the hardest.  Order dessert.  Remember to say "Thank You".  It's the little things that make a big difference.  Happiness is infectious.

And of course, remember to tip your server.  Preferably well.  Because it is very much appreciated.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Belmar 5: An Annual Tradition

Yesterday was the annual "Belmar 5". 

A five mile race down the Jersey Shore.  The race is on a flat course and mile three is along the ocean.  My family has run this race for years.

Every summer for at least the past 10 years we have bellied up to the start line.

A gaggle of hung over men and too tired mommies.

We wear crazy tie-dyed attire with a fun jingle written on the back.  It usually has something to do with us running slow, having fun and partying like birds when we finish.
And then we polly-wog through five miles.

Some of us are more swift.
Some of us are not as swift.
We've pushed our babies in running strollers.
And when the babies became too plentiful their aunts and uncles helped push the running strollers.
And whether we ran together, pushed a stroller, or ran our fastest time we ALL finish.
This year was a special year for me because my two oldest munchkins went from cheering us on along the race course to RUNNING along the race course.
At ten and eight years old, five miles is much longer than it is for an adult.
The legs are smaller.  The strides are smaller.  Which makes the race a whole lot longer.  But with family helping along the way, they had running buddies and we all shared some laughs.

We crunched cups at water stations and listened to all the supportive racers cheering them on.

And for my Gymnastics Queen, the two senior citizens who run carrying a flag every year helped me push her that last half mile.

And then they ran her in, letting her carry the flag in between them.
My munchkins finished.  And I couldn't be more proud.
Do something GREAT today!