Monday, January 31, 2011

Home Sweet Home

It's good to be home.  It always is.

There is nothing like my own bed.
This weekend we drove out to visit dear friends.  The weekend was jam packed with shenanigans and poor food choices.

All together, we have six munchkins that run like wild wildebeests when we visit eachother.  Our survival tactic is turn our heads and ignore 90% of what is going on.

Intervene only when danger or destruction is evident.

The youngest munchkins kept themselves entertained all weekend.

They got their band back together.

They started their band last Memorial Day:

Three munchkins marched through the house every five minutes playing harmonicas and hammering drums.

This time around Moopa would bring up the rear with two bells.

Noise was abundant yet I can't remember hearing any.  Aren't Mommy ears miraculous?

The older two munchkins are getting more complicated.  Why must this happen?  Why can't Thomas trains still be enough?

My Sports Fanatic and his friend T, who are nine, had the nerve to grow out of Thomas.  Unbelievable.

We managed to sneak them out for some "big kid" bowling.  The wildebeests never even knew they left.  The bowling licked many "I'm booooored..." wounds.

The Hubbies spent their evenings at "The Moose" (don't ask).  They always return home from their "man time" in rare form with an outlandish story to share.

This time they claimed they met "the Hulk".
Don't ask. 

The Mommies spent their evenings watching chick flicks in our jammies.

When I watch chick flicks in my jammies the world is right again.

After a full weekend, we left Sunday morning and arrived home after a 3 hour drive.

And home feels tremendous.  Easy. Comforting.

Don't get me wrong, there is no place I'd rather visit for the weekend than our friends' house.  We look forward to our weekends.  They are much like mini holidays with a pack of wild wildebeests on the loose.

Every visit solidifies an already iron clad dedication to our friendship.  And every visit also confirms we need reservations in the nuthouse.

But home never disappoints, regardless of how "unfancy" it is or how much I wish to renovate.

Home is home.  It's where the heart is.

Forgive the cheesiness.  I'm tired and mushy and cheesy..

Have a fabulous Monday.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Birthday

Today my Hubby is one year older.  I will keep that year to myself.  But what a wonderful day it is because he was born ____ years ago.

We dated only three months before he asked me to marry him. I guess we both just "knew". What fart smellers we are.
And what a stud muffin he is.  Even when he's a total pain in the arse.

He is grumpy when he's hungry.  A total cranky pants.

I've learned to ignore him until he's digesting food.  And he's learned to ignore me for one week out of the month.

Makes married life more blissful.

Hubby has delivered one of our babies (literally).  Crazy can't even begin to cover that night
Hubby keeps the house tidy when I'm at work.  He sorts laundry.  He holds babies and coaches tiny football players.

Don't ask me how to get yourself a laundry sorting house tidying Hubby.  It just kind of happened. 

Through a series of complicated "we now have four munchkins events", he really stepped up his game.

Hubby can write a killer love note.  I haven't seen one in years but I remember them quite fondly.

I consider his laundry sorting and house cleaning his declaration of everlasting love. 

And I'm down with that. 

He quotes movies like I wash dishes.  Several times a day.  Anyone not schooled in cinema may not understand him. 

He speaks movie. 

Hubby has retained a wonderfully youthful exterior, and as with most men he gets better as he ages.  This thrills me because I get to look at him, but it also makes my crows feet cringe. 

Ce La Vie.  We're stuck with each other now.  He has a little too much baggage to escape. 
I love to declare a movie night when we have nothing planned on a Friday.  I love that Hubby groans as if its torture. 

I then proceed to eat six servings of ice cream, while watching a movie, dropping sprinkles all over the bed. 

Hubby drinks his beer. 

And then, well, I fall asleep.  Most times (grin).

When Hubby is away for a night, I love to control the remote and make pancakes for dinner. 

When Hubby is away for two nights I feel incomplete.

So today I wish him a very Happy Birthday.  What a crazy wonderful life we've created.
We're in it for the long run. 

We have no where else to go!  We have no where else to g..... We got nothin' else.

(I was just speaking movie. Name it and I'll be impressed....)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

This weekend we are visiting friends.  Love these weekends.

Two days of shenanigans.  Six munchkins running wild. 

We let the chips fall where they may and clean up the disaster Sunday morning.

Toys are scattered throughout the house, mucho food is eaten, the men go out to the bar and the women go shopping. 


Tonight the men are at "The Lodge".  Which from what I understand is a men's club you have to be sworn into, and there is some sort of Moose invloved.  Maybe the Moose is on the wall?  Or the name is the "Moose Lodge"? 

Either way the details got lost the minute I heard you had to be sworn in to join. 

Before we left for our weekend,  I needed to make a dessert.  I like to travel with my own Diet Coke and sugar. 

In my world they are as necessary as a toothbrush and toothpaste.

After some recipe digging and deep soul searching I made these:
They were ooey, gooey and divine.  A universal homerun, even for Hubby.  He is my most critical of dessert tasters, always eyeing any new dessert I make with uncertainty.

He always needs to know what is inside.  My answer to him? 

Saturated fats.  Now eat it already.

He always obliges.  And he loved these.

2 sticks butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups quick oats
2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Blend butter, vanilla and eggs.  Turn mixer to low, and blend in sugars. 

In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture.  Stir in oats and chocolate chips until well combined.

Spread in greased 9x13 baking dish.   Bake 25-30 minutes.  For the ultimate gooey experience, remove from oven just before center is completely done.  Let cool.

Makes 24 bars.  Eat them.  Share if you must. 

I hear these are delectable with milk, I prefer with Diet Coke. 

I can also guarantee these make munchkins happy.  Make your munchkins happy and make them.

Happy Saturday!

Mommyhood Footnote:  Hubby tried a group exercise class with two of our friends' personal trainers this evening.  This class is no joke.  This class is a circuit training, interval nightmare.  It involved deadly weapons such kettle bells and bosu balls. 

Hubby just about fainted.  Turns out kettle bells and bosu balls are not his friends.

Looks like he needs to amp up the running/weight training regime.  Muscles are so deceiving. 

Hubby, I still love ya.  I hope you can walk today.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 28, 2011

5 ? Friday!

As always, a shout out to Mama M over at My Little Life for making Thursday nights easy on the Mommybrain.

I have spent the last hour designing yet another header for this online escape that is my blog.  I'm still not thrilled, but it's an improvement.

My previous header was too busy.  Too cluttered.

I couldn't take it any more.

Did Quiet Riot just start singing in your head?

We're not gonna take it.  No, we're not gonna to take it. We're not gonna take it anymore....

I'm officially in need of sleep.  I just sang Quiet Riot.

How I love to deprive myself of sleep and see how long I can function.

While I'm still semi-functioning, and singing Quiet Riot, I am pasting Mama M's Five Question Friday.

5 ? Friday

1. If you had $1,000 to donate to a charity, which would you choose?

Anything that protects and/or benefits children.  If there is one thing I despise on this Earth, it is perverts and heartless savages with no regard for the innocence and spirit of children.  

They make me sick.  They make me sad.  

Every child deserves a chance. To see any of them suffering breaks me into pieces. 

2. Snow days: Do you welcome them happily or are they a pain in your butt?

I welcome them happily the night before.  I am the best Mommy in the world when a snow day is looming.   

Let's rent a movie!  Sure you can stay up later!  Tomorrow I'm baking!  And we'll stay in our pajamas all day!

After our seventh storm in under two months these snow days are waring on me.  

And they are testing my patience.   

I still look forward to sleeping in and lounging around, but I'm beginning to feel like a loafer.  And I'm beginning to feel my butt spread.  

And my munchkins are beginning to bicker about trivial items such as Mickey Mouse Stickers.

I need some sunshine.  SOON.  I look like I have tuberculosis and my butt is beginning to spread.  Double whammy.

And my munchkins need to run wild outside for longer than the time it takes to shovel our driveway.

3. What talent did you wish you had and why?

I suppose it would be nice to carry a tune.  My singing voice is just about as pleasant as a fire alarm with low batteries.  

Actually scratch that.  Let Hubby's ears bleed.

I would like to run faster than an 8:30/mile.  I work HARD for that 8:30/mile.  

Hubby runs half as much as I do and he blows me away in every run we enter.  I literally eat his dust.

To make myself feel better I hold him down and sing to him.

4. Are you a news, politics or celebrity gossip junkie?

All three.  I love the news, but with four little munchkins in the house watching the news is a thing of the past.  I'd be better off sitting them down in front of Platoon.  

During the week I tend to stick with People Magazine and whatever pops up on my Yahoo! homepage to keep me up to speed.

My favorite is the Sunday Paper.  Love the coupons, the Parade insert and all the news I missed during the week. 

5. What is your favorite "cocktail"? (Are you a beer person, a kiddie cocktail junkie, or perhaps your more the "Cosmo" kind?! Anything flies...doesn't hafta be alcoholic!)

My favorite cocktail is a Diet Coke.  Literally.  Right out of the ice cold can.  

I gave up the "cocktails" (and alcohol altogether) when I had my first munchkin.  I never missed them enough to make the calories worth drinking.

If I'm going to ingest 500-1000 extra calories on something, the first ingredient better be sugar.  The second ingredient better be sugar as well.

And I'll chase it with an ice cold Diet Coke.

Random picture from my hard drive time!
This is from when there were only two munchkins in our circus.

I remember this picture like it was yesterday.  Love it.  They rolled up and parked these bad boys like they owned the place.  

Wait, they do own the place.

Happy Friday! 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken Vegetable Spaetzle Soup

This recipe is brought to you straight from my mother's kitchen.  She is a phenomenal cook.

She is one of those "Oh, I just threw it all in the pan!  It's easy!" cooks.  I aspire to have this talent one day.

I'm a work in progress.

Every Sunday during football season, we spend the day at my parents' house.  We indulge in tacos, soups and snacks.  By evening the button on my jeans is beggin' for mercy.

We refer to this as "Football Sunday".

I blogged about Football Sunday a few months back.  In that post, I wracked my brain to accurately explain the wonderfulness of Football Sunday.  This was my brilliant definition:

Football Sunday n. Day of the week during which one watches football with family and or friends while thoroughly enjoying food without guilt.  Discussions revolving around work are banned, as is any activity that doesn't include retrieving more food.  No sour pusses allowed.

This past Football Sunday, my mother made this soup.  My taste buds rejoiced with glory.  My bones did as well.  Since my body runs a cool ten degrees below the average person, I truly appreciate hot soup.   

And a hot fire.  And hot blankets. And my hot Hubby.  

Did I just say that?

Naturally, when I inquired just how to prepare this succulent bone warming soup, my mother replied, "Oh it's easy!  I just threw it all in the pot and decided to add spaetzle!"

It was only after I devoured my container of leftovers that I decided I must know the secret to her soup making science. 

Below is what I scribbled on a sheet of paper as she explained how this soup came to be.  I will do my best to guide you through her instructions and add more specifics.  

But as with all vegetable soups, variety makes the soup.  Tweaking is highly recommended.  And it may be needed depending on how accurate my recipe is.  

I halved the recipe because, to put it lightly, we eat mucho.   We have no shame.

Unless you need to feed 6 or more adults stick with what I have below.  Or make what I have below and be prepared to freeze the leftovers.  

Whatever floats your spaetzle boat. 

"Warm These Frozen Bones" Chicken Vegetable Spaetzle Soup
1-2 tsp minced garlic (this is all about preference)
1 tble olive oil
1 32oz container chicken broth (Mama uses low sodium)
1/4 large onion, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 lb chicken tenders or breasts
Swig fresh parsley, chopped 
1 box German Spaetzle

In 9x13 dish, place chicken breasts or tenders and sprinkle with seasoned pepper.  Bake about 20 minutes on 350 or until centers are no longer pink.

While chicken is baking, prepare vegetables.  Wash, peel and chop.

In large saucepan, toss in olive oil and minced garlic.  Cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add chicken broth, water, vegetables, chopped chicken and parsley (as desired).

Simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Once vegetables are cooked, add spaetzle.  Keep in saucepan, on lowest setting or transfer to crock pot.

We rock the crock pot.  Keeps the soup hot all day long.

Perfect for long, stuck at home snow days.  And football days.  I should know. 

Mommyhood Footnote:  Even if you don't desire this soup you must buy Spaetzle if you have never experienced the joy it brings to tummies.  Cook according to package, and add butter.  season with salt and pepper.  Sing to the heavens and watch your butt grow.

The soup is a safer, less fattening route.  But a route must be taken because Spaetzle is worth tasting.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

1 Year: A Demonstration

I have no words.  I am tired and more snow is on its way.  I am Vitamin D deficient and my feet are cold.

And so I leave you with the Moopa.

Her precious face takes the chill out of winter.  I'm providing a rare glimpse into what she looks like sans static electricity and crusted food on cheeks.

Breathtaking.  She looks like all first children do.  Miraculous.
And now she is going to demonstrate the Mommyhood definition of  "One Year".  And how fast it goes.

She demonstrates so eloquently.

Take it away Moopa.
One year in the blink of an eye.  The (sniff sniff) end.

Happy Hump Day!  (giggle giggle).

Mommyhood Footnote:  This isn't a 1st Birthday.  Just a Wowzer! Time goes faster each year!  reality check.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Favorite Toy: Football Guys

My oldest son, our Sports Fanatic, is an old soul.  Very old.

He was a difficult baby; a serious toddler.  He is happy and loving, but he is not a giggler. Never was.

He means business most days.

He might have been the only five year old who would go into Toys R Us and walk around in search of one particular Thomas Train.  He never strayed from the task at hand.  All the fancy toys in the world couldn't win him over. 

If Toys R' Us didn't have exactly what he was looking for they lost his business.  No exceptions.

He runs a tight ship.  He's a typical first child.

This "all business" attitude makes him very difficult to shop for.  He wants what he wants.  You can't just buy a toy and hope he'll like it.

There are many holidays and birthdays that I struggle when it comes to buying anything for him.  And now that he's nine?  And toys are becoming less and less interesting to him?

This makes for quite a debacle when you are hoping to keep costs low and gifts even.

This is why I love these Football Guys. 
My Sports Fanatic received these as a gift two years ago.  There have been many nights I find him quietly playing, with the Football Guys set up on his bedroom floor.  It warms my heart to see him still be a kid.  As he should be.  Talking to his little figures and using his imagination.

LLG received his own set for his birthday last fall.  This was phenomenal because we all know the Sports Fanatic wasn't sharing his cherished figures.

LLG is a liability when it comes to toys.  Or anything for that matter.

Forgive the list, but it is the easiest way to effectively communicate how I love these little plastic football players:

1.  The name, "Football Guys" is exactly what my munchkins would call them regardless.
2.  They encourage creative play.  My boys set these up how they like, and talk to them for hours making different "on field" scenarios.
3.  This toy does not make noise or require batteries.  It takes complicated out of the picture.  Keeps life simple.

"Simple" might just be my favorite word.

4.  They come in a lightweight carry case.  Everything fits nicely inside without having to wrestle the box shut and wonder how they all fit in there in the first place.
5.  They aren't expensive. 

Imagine that.  An affordable, simple, easy to clean up toy that requires imagination and encourages quiet play.

Whew.  That was quite a sentence.

To sum up this post, I highly recommend this toy.  This toy is refreshing.  I also forgot to mention that these little football guys have won several best toy awards.
 They are the real deal.

And there are many different "guys"; different sports, colors and teams. 

Keep this toy in mind for Easter Baskets, birthdays and Valentine's Day.  You'll thank me. 

Mommyhood Footnote: I must mention that this post is not sponsored in any way.  Unfortunately I have made no money by singing these praises nor have I received any cool toys to post this.

I just really love this toy.  And mom to mom, I had to share.
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Superbowl Countdown: Sourdough Ranch Pretzels

Superbowl Sunday is closing in.  Which means parties are being planned and menus are being prepared.

Menu preparation must include these sourdough pretzels.  If you are not hosting, it is your obligation to take these to where the football is.

I am arming you with the mightiest of all salty munchies.

I served these pretzels when I hosted Bunco last weekend.  To say they were devoured would be an understatement.  If we weren't all such classy broads there may have been catfights over the basket housing these bad boys.

I'm serious.  Ladies would have had their eyes scratched out for hogging the pretzels. 

The only downside to making these is that you will eat them.  And you will wake up the next morning looking like a puffer fish from all the sodium.

But for the good of all football fans everywhere, you must prepare and share for Superbowl Sunday.

Sourdough Ranch Pretzels
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup ranch dressing mix
1 tsp Lemon Pepper
1 tsp Dill Seasoning
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 Boxes Sourdough Pretzels ( I used Synder's 13.5 oz boxes)

Combine 1st five ingredients in small bowl.  Mix well.  Spread pretzels out on shallow baking pan, or use 2 9x13 baking dishes.  Drizzle mixture over pretzels, toss to coat.

Pretzels will break, and this is wonderful.  You want many broken ranch pretzel pieces.  The broken pieces make these munchie worthy.
Bake at 275 for 20-25 minutes.  Toss pretzels halfway through baking.

Then grab yourself a cold brewskie, or a Diet Coke if you're like me, and hover around the oven until they're done.

Enjoy and deal with the water retention later.  I promise you, they're worth it!

Mommyhood Footnote: With football on my brain, I must mention Caleb Hanie.  This kid is 24 yrs old, and the 3rd string quarterback for the Chicago Bears.  I'm guessing he has seen the field, let me think here...just about NEVER.  And then today, late in the 3rd quarter of the last game of the playoffs, he gets a chance.  In the NFC Championship Game.

When he threw his 1st touchdown pass, I was the only nerd in the room who immediately thought of his parents.  

Mr. and Mrs. Hanie have sat through three seasons of watching their son ride the bench as the 3rd string quarterback. I can only imagine the elation they felt when he ran onto that field today.  And then to see him throw a touchdown pass?  In the playoffs?   And then continue to rally and almost bring the Bears back to tie the game?  Today was one of the best days of their lives.  Sniff. Sniff.

Mommyhood has turned me into such a Sally.

Ignore me and make these pretzels.  The End.

I'm a Mommy and I blog. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

True Grit: A Mommyhood Review

 Tonight was family movie night.  Family meaning my parents, brothers, a brother's fiancee and Hubby.

Attendance needed to be stipulated to keep you from assuming I took my young children to see True Grit.  I barely allow PG movies, let alone a PG-13 movie.

This goes for Hubby as well (that was heavy with sarcasm).

Before I dive into my Mommybrain review of True Grit, I want to mention I was stuck in a snowbank today.  My giant "I can plow through anything" SUV failed me.  It failed me terribly.

Leaving my parents' house, I had to reverse down their long, steep, mountainous driveway.  It's an involved story.  I'll spare you the details. 

But as I proceeded to attempt to turn the car around in the lower driveway, I inadvertently drove my truck into a pile of snow.  Under this pile of snow was a small boulder.  Who knew?

This story ends with my wonderful father chaining my SUV to his pick up truck and pulling me off of a boulder.

The point to my story is that I am a terrible driver.  And I really needed a night out.

Fast forward to True Grit.

This movie wasn't my choice.   I don't generally gravitate towards movies with Cowboy Hats, guns and dusty terrain.  This is more my Dad's forte.

But much like The Fighter, there was a solid storyline and phenomenal acting.  I truly appreciate a movie that doesn't rely on sex and special effects to win at the box office.  

The movie had substance. 

I haven't seen the original True Grit,  which keeps me from making any comparisons.  But I can say that Jeff Bridges plays one heck of a slovenly man.

He is everything you don't want in a Hubby and then some.  The epitome of a slob.

The good news is I don't have to lay in bed next to him, which made him amusing.

My mommybrain recommends this flick because it had heart.  The young girl, Mattie Ross, was inspiring and strong willed.  She could teach us all a few things about staying the course regardless of how tough it may seem.

Against all odds, she wheeled and dealed to secure a U.S. Marshall to hunt down her father's killer.  She was just fourteen.  Her journey alongside Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) and Texas Ranger Labueof (Damon) makes for a sentimental, thrilling, entertaining and humorous movie.

Dare I admit I was teary eyed in the end?  The movie drove me to tears.

But mostly I am confident in recommending this flick because my mom didn't fall asleep.  I can gauge any storyline by how fast my mom falls into her catnap.

This concludes Mommybrained Review of True Grit.  I hope this was in some way informative.

After all, I aim to please.

HaPpY SuNdAy!

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Easy Valentine Craft: You've Got Mail!

Like all other holidays, we celebrate Valentine's Day BIG.  

Growing up, my mother had a huge, waist expanding Valentine Brunch.  

Along with the surplus of trans fats and sugars, there was a homemade Valentine Mailbox overstuffed with Valentine's for everyone in the family.

As kids, we looked forward to constructing and decorating the Valentine Mailbox.  My mother made this an event.  The event was always announced at least one day in advance. 

"Tomorrow night we are decorating the Valentine Mailbox!"  

Que squeals of delight.

Once decorated, the mailbox was placed out in the open for all to see and admire.  As we made Valentine's we stuffed them inside.

Having a mailbox staring us in the face everyday motivated us to make many Valentine's. 

At our Valentine Brunch, the mailbox was opened and hundreds of Valentine's were delivered.  

The messages, pictures and goodies were always good for a laugh.  

Ever since my munchkins could hold a crayon I helped them make our Valentine Mailbox.  Like my mother, we make it an event and we set our mailbox out in the open.

My munchkins then spend their days crafting, writing and drawing pictures.  They write names on candies and fruit snacks and have even stuffed small toys in the box.

And when my parents are over, they always add a little note for each munchkin.  Or a dollar.

When we open our mailbox at our Valentine Dinner, you never know what you're gonna get.

Today I grabbed an oversized box for my munchkins to transform into the "Mailbox".  The shoebox doesn't cut it anymore.  My munchkins LOVE to make Valentines.

My trick with any craft or activity we do annually is to keep it simple.  I make it more about the together time and the experience.  We tape any ole' thing we can find onto our mailbox.  Anything pink, purple or red is game.  

We've painted, taped, glued and stapled.  There is no method to our madness. 

Let me walk you through today's mailbox construction:

The blank canvas.  Box, your life will never be the same.  I apologize in advance.
Jackpot!  Valentine craft paper in the basement! 
Hmmm....doesn't quite fit...we'll have to use the patch method....
The Gymnastics Queen is a phenomenal mailbox decorator.  She assumed the title of "2nd in Command".
Right about now is when one of these rascals cracked an inappropriate joke.  Giggles ensued.  No craft time is complete without a joke about butts.
To finish the masterpiece I slice the "mail drop opening" with a knife or scissors. 
Year after year, regardless of how the mailbox comes together, it's always perfection.  And I have some wonderful Valentine Mail saved from over the years.  My munchkins never seize to amaze me when they pour their tiny hearts out on homemade Valentines.

Being serious for a hot second (it's about all I can stand), this tradition is wonderful to practice letter writing and composition, etiquette, compassion and design.  

Whew, I think I may have just hurt myself.

Have a wonderful weekend!  Make a never know what surprises will be inside!

Friday, January 21, 2011

5 ? Friday!

I can't afford these snowstorms anymore.

I get wind of a storm and I feel obligated to buy milk.  And eggs.  And something to make for dinner.

I live in the Northeast!  The roads are clear by noon unless somebody's sleeping on the job.  

But yet I ran back to the store this evening due to the impending snow.  I love the "pre-storm" adrenaline rush.

"I need to buy milk and eggs!  Storm on the way!  We don't even need milk and eggs!  Someone please stop me from going to the store!"

Anyhow, as my Mommybrain continues to tire due to the severe lack of Vitamin D, I will get started on Mama M's 5 ? Friday.

Drum roll please...

1. Where did you meet your spouse and did you instantly know it was love?

Oh yes.  It was love.
At the ripe old age of nineteen I went for a golf lesson at my father's country club.  When my instructor emerged from the back room, he took my breath away. 

(Cue Berlin.) 

Time stood still.  

The only thought going through my shallow mind was,  I wish I wore make up!  How can I bat these stumpy naked lashes??.  

My Dad spent over $300 in golf lessons before I landed my 1st date. 

What ensued was a torrid "don't date the member's daughters Dirty Dancing-esque" love affair.  

Did that sentence make sense?

Anyhow, it involved a lot of old ladies stuffing diamonds in his pockets.  
And a lot of  "This is your golf space, this my golf space.  I don't go into yours and you don't go into mine."  
Sorry, couldn't help myself... 

 2. What is your favorite room in your house?  

Any room that is clean, warm and uncluttered.  And quiet.  Most often this room is my bedroom. 

3. Can you wiggle your ears?

No.  And thinking about that kind of creeps me out.  

4. What is your evening ritual?

Once munchkins are sleeping, I settle in for my evening television with about seven servings of ice cream.  

I look forward to this time of day like my munchkins look forward to carnival games.

5. How many hours of sleep do you need to function?

Four munchkins deep and I'm lucky to get a solid three hours of good, uninterrupted sleep.  

We get a lot of middle of the night visitors.  Our munchkins like to wake us for noises, bad dreams, thirst, puke, headaches, growing pains, and sometimes just to say hi.

And my answer to just about every waking is, "Get yourself back in bed kid!  The sun ain't up yet!  Can't you see Mama is sleeping?!?!"

Well, not quite.  Usually I just turn and groggily tell them to hop into our bed.  And to crowd Hubby's side.

Unless the waking is because of impending puke.  Then I'm on it like flies on...well, you know what flies are on....

Nothing jolts me out of sleep like a munchkin at my bedside green and about to puke.

Random picture from my hard drive time!  


The winner is a picture of my little Gymnastics Queen. 

Her talent at two years of age was the hairy "I don't THINK so" eyeball.  
HaPpY FrIdAy!

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Silver Lining

My munchkins have a phenomenal ability to find the silver lining.

It's a true super power.

Adulthood comes with such baggage.  Adulthood is an over-thinking, over-planning, practical nightmare at times.

I get caught up in everything that needs to get done instead of getting caught up in the moment.

My munchkins keep it real.

They live for the moment.

This afternoon, LLG didn't hurry inside from the car.  He didn't feel frigid temperatures or curse everything that wouldn't get done because of another storm.

He saw white fluffy flakes.  Falling from the sky.

And when I turned from my frantic "get inside and defrost" dash to the house, I saw him still as a statue.

A wee-whittle man with snow falling all around him.  Waiting patiently for a snowflake to fall onto his tongue.

He was completely content to marvel at all the wonders of winter.  Cold damp clothes and all.

Ah, the magic of being a munchkin.
Just being in their presence makes me a better person.  They remind me to look around and rediscover simple pleasures. 

It's impossible not to take inventory of all my blessings when one of my munchkins is present. 

And today, for the first time in I can't even remember how long, I stood in the cold to taste a snowflake.  And marveled at the white winter landscape.

And then I cursed the road conditions and my frozen chapped hands.  And cried when the weather reported another storm on the loose, headed in our direction.

But the silver lining in all this snowflake tasting is that snowflakes are calorie free.  And catching them with munchkins takes some of the sting out of winter. 

And so until my vitamin D arrives this spring, I shall feast on snowflakes and make snowmen.

And I shall look to my munchkins to find the silver lining.  Because they always know where it's hiding.

Have a fantastical Thursday!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake!

I love cake.  Cake makes me happy.

I made cake for Bunco last Friday.

And today I loafed around, shirking all laundry responsibilities, and I ate leftover Bunco cake.
Notice the plastic silverware.  Classy.  Sometimes cake just needs to be eaten and not staged to look fancy.

For the record I prefer to eat cake with plastic silverware.  Plastic silverware kind of makes me feel like I'm eating at a bakery.  Or take out.

Don't ask.

My Mommybrain came up with the idea to make this cake for Bunco night.  I was aiming for something impressive, quick and delish.  This something also had to be fairly simple.  My time management skills left me with no time.

Imagine that.

My search for simple lead me to boxed cake mixes and a container of frosting. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find what I needed to make Chocolate Ganache.  Perfect to dress up a very basic cake.

"Ganache" is just a super fancy word for rich chocolate frosting. 

I now present to you an easy cake that is quite impressive.  Two layers, marbled center, vanilla frosting and  "ganache".

Chocolate Vanilla Layer Cake

1 Box Chocolate Cake Mix, prepared
1 Box Vanilla Cake Mix, prepared
Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)
1 container Vanilla Frosting (I prefer Betty Crocker's Whipped Vanilla)

Generously grease and flour 2 9" round cake pans.  Split vanilla cake batter evenly between two pans. 

Add chocolate batter to each pan as desired, gently swirl.
Only drag the batter a few times, or you lose the dramatic effect.  Like high school, this is all about appearances. 
Bake according to package direction for 9" rounds.  I baked mine approximately 28 minutes on 350.

When tooth pick inserted into center of each cake comes out clean, remove from oven and cool 10-15 minutes on wire racks.
Loosen sides of each cake with knife, turn upside down and carefully remove from pans.  Place back on wire racks while you prepare Ganache.

Milk Chocolate Ganache
1 12oz bag milk chocolate chips (semisweet works as well)
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3 Tbsp butter

Microwave chocolate and cream on medium power 2 1/2 to 3 minutes or until chocolate begins to melt.  Whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.

Add butter and whisk until well combined.  Let stand 20 minutes.
Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 to 4 minutes until soft peaks begin to form.

For filling, spread 1/2 to 1 cup (this is all about preference) on bottom cake.

Top with second cake.

Frost cake with vanilla frosting.
Pour remaining ganache, as desired, on top of cake and spread. 

Ganache will thicken as it cools.  

Am I the only one who wants to stick my finger in that frosting?
Serve cake to many adoring cake fans.  Or serve to a few cake fans.  Or serve to yourself.

Just serve the cake.  And be happy you made ganache.

Can I just say ganache one more time?  Makes me feel all "upper crust".

Too bad I devour my fancy ganache cake with a plastic fork.  So much for upper crust.

Anyhow, because I can't resist,  Happy Hump Day!

(giggle giggle)

Make some ganache!

Mommyhood Footnote:  Today my reality includes a treadmill run due to my cake eating, loafing around snow day yesterday.  My tummy may be happy because it digested cake, but my legs will be cursing in a few hours.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Road Trip!

Clark Griswald: Roy; can I call you Roy? Have you even driven cross-country?
Roy Walley: Oh, hell yes. Drove the whole family to Florida. Worst 2 weeks I ever spent in my life. The smell from the back seat was terrible.

One month from now, we're road tripping to Disney.  The dog sitter will be arriving and we are hittin' the road.

All six of us, in our giant "MOM I'm carsick!" SUV.  It's going to be a hoot.

Hubby can't wait.

I wonder if we'll still be married after 20 hours in the car?  We may just divorce ourselves 16 hours in and call it a day.

We have never driven to Disney.  We always fly.  I scour the internet for airfare until my eyes fry out of my head.  I check prices every day, all day until I can declare a victory.

This year that wasn't the case.  Victory was not mine.

And unless JetBlue is willing to fly us for free (JetBlue can you hear me?) we are driving to Disney.

There was no airfare I could work into our $0.00 budget. 

Hubby refuses to believe this unfortunate development.  He is constantly whining about how awful this drive is going to be.  He sounds like an eight year old school girl.

He is ready to stick needles in his eyes and we haven't even packed yet.

I like to take the opposite stance and call it an adventure.  A learning experience.  I envision laughter and family time.

And car exhaust.

After about nine hours I may be singing a different tune. I may not even be married anymore.

But the deal was if we go we drive.  And drive we are.

We even decided to drag our BFF's into this mess.  We're meeting them en route south of Virginia.  We can all bicker, laugh and smell car exhaust together.

I'm just going to stuff my face in the front seat with junk food and drive Hubby crazy telling him to watch the road.

And that he's driving too fast.

And ask really stupid questions like, What state are we in? Are you awake?  Do you think we're soul mates? Who killed JFK?

I think if I go long enough I can make his ears bleed.

Luckily for me, my parents drove six kids to Disney several times.  Granted, they had an RV.  But I am armed with tips and tricks to get us there with as little pain as possible.

I may even be able to stay married.

Regardless, it's going to be one hell of a trip.  Stay tuned...

In honor of road trippin', I hopped on the Tuesday Train!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mommyhood Whole Wheat Pancakes

Last week, during what felt like our 100th storm of the season, I made my munchkins pancakes.

From scratch.

Have you ever made pancakes from scratch?  You feel like you are from the dark ages.  I didn't even know pancakes could be made from anything other than Aunt Jemima until about ten years ago.  

Homemade was boxed pancake mix.   Add milk, oil and eggs. 

I wasn't brave enough to make homemade pancakes until about two years ago.  Until then I was faithful to the lovely Aunt Jemima.

But on my quest to be a domestic goddess I decided a homemade pancake was a skill I needed to master.

There is only one way to accurately describe a pancake made from the ground up.  

Oh Nellie.
They melt in your mouth.

I'm serious.

You take a bite and you feel it melt.  Eating them requires no effort.  It's just pure melt-in-your-mouth enjoyment.

No chewing involved.  

Whenever I make anything from scratch for the munchkins I try to make it healthier than a store bought version.  I like my recipes to have fiber and protein.

Fiber and protein make kids strong like bull.

This recipe will work with white flour, but why use white when they are just as scrumptious with whole wheat flour?

Before we begin I need to mention that I feed a small army.

I make many pancakes.
This pancake tower is leftovers.

If I'm taking the time to make homemade pancakes I like to have leftovers.  The munchkins (and Hubby) love to feast on leftover homemade pancakes.

Thus, this recipe makes approximately 16-18 large pancakes.

Mommyhood's Whole Wheat Pancakes

1 cup perfectionist complex
1/2 cup "I have a box of pancake mix but I'm determined to make my life more difficult"

Combine with:
3 cups whole wheat flour (if whole wheat flour scares you, start with 1/2 whole wheat 1/2 white flour)
2 tbsp Baking Soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups skim milk
2 eggs
6 tbsp melted butter

Mix 1st 3 dry ingredients in large bowl with wooden spoon.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until well blended.

Batter may have small lumps, do not overmix

Using ladle pour batter, approximately 1/4 cup at a time, onto lightly greased griddle.

I grease with a little butter.

Gives my pancakes savory, crispy edges. 

Once the pancakes start to bubble on surface, flip.

A few tips for pancakes:

*Flipping more than one or two times may result in tough pancakes.  The melt in your mouth feature I'm promising you will no longer apply.  Flip wisely.

*If the pancakes are cooking up to the size of small decorative pillows, add more milk to the batter.

*If you are going to embark on a "Pancakes From Scratch Adventure", be cool.  Toss in sprinkles, chocolate chips, blueberries, Cocoa Krispies, steak or anything else you can imagine.
Once you have made enough pancakes to feed your small army, melt a tablespoon of butter on the griddle.

Fry up one last pancake with extra crispy edges.

This deep butter fry is not recommended for growing munchkins.  Just parents who like to indulge and then punish themselves on the treadmill.

Make this pancake only after munchkins have left the room or they are totally ignoring you.
If you want them to totally ignore you do not talk on the phone.

Once you are in the clear, with no one paying you any attention, serve this artery clogging pancake to yourself.
And savor every bite.

Mommyhood Footnote An extra ten minutes of cleaning, cardio or general activity is required if you ingest the butter fried pancake.  Mommyhood Rules state that if you decide to indulge, you don't get to loaf around.  Eat, enjoy, and move your arse.  

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Until a year ago, I had never heard the word "Bunco".  Never in my life.  I could have been standing in the middle of a Bunco Convention and I would have assumed it was a giant Yahtzee Rally.

But last Spring I got the email.  The email from my girlfriend Denise about a Bunco group.  The email was brief. 

Let me summarize:

"Yada yada yada.  My friend is forming a Bunco group.  It's a group of 12 ladies.  We play a dice game, eat and drink.  We gather one a month.  Yada Yada Yada...."

I took a leap of faith. 

I envisioned a movie about 12 ladies playing Bunco and all the laughs.

The cries.

The good times.

Mind you I still had no idea what Bunco was when I directed this movie in my head.

But this movie was just like Steel Magnolias.

Except no one dies, and instead of meeting at Truvy's for a cut n' color we play Bunco and talk trash.
I have a flair for the dramatic.  So does my seven year old daughter.  Stay with me here...

The trick with Bunco is you need 12 ladies.  Preferably 12 fun ladies.  No one wants a dud at Bunco.

You also need a few ladies "on call" to sub in for a regular player.  You need twelve at each game night or people get confused.  And then they shouldn't be traveling. 

If Bunco night rolls around and you're playing with a "phantom", you'll have eleven ladies so confused they can't travel.

Hence, 12 fun ladies. 

Each month a different player hosts the game.  When you host, you supply the food and drinks.  You also need to make certain you have any necessary subs lined up to play.

The emails are flying the week of a Bunco night. 

If you are married or cohabitating, one last necessity is a hideout for your Hubby.

No man wants to be within 50 yards of 12 women playing Bunco.  Remember the sleepovers you had when you were in middle school?  All the loud, excitable friends that drove your parents crazy?
Age these girls twenty years and give them alcohol.   
Every player brings $20 in small bills to the game.  One person needs to be in charge of the group.  Consider this brave lady the "Gatekeeper".  She needs to keep the numbers.  Hand out the winnings.  And know the rules. 
Our group is like a patchwork quilt.  A few ladies from here, a few from there.  But we all lead back to the same lady.

I would say it's like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon but I really don't know what that is. 

Anywho, the first few Buncos was a getting to know the group (and the game) process.  To be honest I just recently learned the names of every player.  But we share a strange Bunco kinship that can only be understood by fellow Bunco players.
Before I go on, I must admit there were many nights I was saying, "Ugh, I have Bunco tonight.  I just want to sit and watch a movie and eat a gallon of ice cream like every other night of my life!"

But I went.  If I was available, I went.  I broke out of my shell.  The shell that all Moms find themselves in if they aren't careful.  The sweatpants, ponytail and no makeup shell.

Friday night was my night to host Bunco.  I fretted about what to serve, what beer to buy and where to hide the clutter. 

If you only host once a year, you want the night to be fabulous. 
And the night was fabulous.  It always is.  Even if the house is cluttered and the beer is cheap. 

A night out is a night out.
And we're all very much the same when you peel away the layers. We all hide clutter and speed clean with Windex. 

And so even though I only made half of the Buncos this year, I'm in for another year.  Because the option to go out once a month, and be with ladies who also wipe boogies and hide clutter is good to have.

Plus I feel cheated because I never ended a night with the Fuzzy Die.

I beg you to go ahead and find 12 ladies to play Bunco.  No Duds allowed.

You'll be glad for the laughs, the camaraderie, and the option to get out once a month.  A commitment you can complain about but then be thankful you made.  Because you always go home refreshed and ready to wipe more boogies.
Happy Sunday everyone!

Mommyhood Footnote:  After eleven months I still have no clue how to explain the game Bunco.  You just have to dive in and play.  Or, you can read up here:
Bunco Rules