Thursday, May 18, 2006

Friday's feast 94

What is the last thing you had to have repaired?
The rear tire on our van. It had 2 nails in it. Cost $6.50!

If someone gave you $2,000 with the stipulation that you had to spend half of it on yourself and give the rest to charity, where would you spend the $1,000 and which charity would receive your remaining $1,000?
I'd spend the $1,000 at a day spa, getting every treatment possible with $1,000 and then I'd donate the other $1,000 to the food bank at our church. Probably in gift cards to local grocery stores so people could purchase the things their family prefers.

What is one of your favorite songs from the 1980s?
First song that came to mind was Rebel Yell by Billy Idol.

Main Course
You enter a pet store. Which section do you go to first?

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how athletic are you?
2. I am rather pathetic :(

Thanks to Friday's Feast!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

ABC meme

As seen at Amy's and Alexa's:

Accent: pretty much none. Sometimes my WI accent slides out when I’ve been talking to family from there a lot (I expect to come back from my trip with it.) I do still say “ya’ll” from the years spent down south. I just don’t know what pronoun to use instead anymore. Moving around as much as I have has pretty much gotten ridden of most accents.

Bible Book that I like: Luke is my favorite gospel writer – I love his Christmas story the most.

Chore I don’t care for: cleaning floors. DH does it.

Dog or Cat: Dog! I’m allergic to cats – but I’m also tired of dog hair. I have no desire to get another pet when J’s time is up. (is that terrible?)

Essential Electronics: microwave, slow cooker, computer, DVR

Favorite Cologne: none. When I was deep in dealing with 2 babies, I used to love to slather myself with J&J baby lavender bedtime lotion. It was yummy to me!

Gold or Silver: mostly gold, but I also have some special pieces of silver

Handbag I Carry Most Often: black leather bag – backpack style. It fits everything I need.

Insomnia: Before the last couple years, I would have said never. The last couple years – semi-regularly. I find the herb valerian helps.

Job Title: household manager, domestic engineer, wife, mom

Kids: 2 bundles of energy - boys

Living Arrangements: own 1600 sq ft of southwestern style home with a HUGE yard, esp. for new homes in AZ

Most Admirable Trait: loyalty

Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: ?? I wasn’t a very naughty child

Overnight Hospital Stays: broken ankle 8/99, C & N’s births – 11/00 and 5/02

Phobias: family dying

Quote: But it is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than to complain about what is not given. One or the other becomes a habit of life. --Elisabeth Elliot

Religion: Catholic

Siblings: one sister, 11 years younger; one brother, 12 years younger. And, yes, we get along very well and always have. I know people are sometimes surprised by that - but we're very close.

Time I Wake Up: varies widely – anywhere between 7 and 9:30AM. I go through spurts of either staying up late with DH or getting up early in the morning. More time with DH usually wins out. I do NOT sleep later than my kids though - don't think I let them get up and wander around while I stay in bed. They go through phases where they will sleep 13 hours though, which means they sleep till 9:30 as well.

Unusual Talent or Skill: planning (and throwing!) themed parties

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: spinach

Worst Habit: procrastinating (like right now – I should be packing!)

X-rays: dental, ankle, hip, neck

Yummy Stuff I Cook: Hanukah apple cake, bourbon pecan chocolate pie

Zoo Animal I Like Most: orangutans

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

busy week, and then vacation

It's a busy week this week -- we had the celebrations for N's birthday yesterday. Today was shopping & lunch with a dear friend, then home for 2 appointments with pool salesmen. Tomorrow there's a meeting with our priest about next year's religious ed classes, and then I have a tutoring session with a young girl. Thursday N has his 4 year well child visit. In between, I need to clean the house (want to leave a clean house for hubby), make about two dozen phonecalls, pick up some last minute things I need to take, do all the laundry, pack for myself & the boys for 10 days, and make a final decision about our backyard pool before I leave. Oh, and find jackets since it's been chilly in WI.

We're headed to Wisconsin on Friday until Memorial Day. It'll be N's first trip to WI, and C's first trip since he was about 6 months old. There will be lots of visiting with family and friends, and hopefully we'll be able to spend some time at local museums.

I'm looking forward to it and expect to have lots of fun. It'll be great for the boys to visit Grandma's house instead of her always visiting us.

I'll be back in June! I hope everyone has a lovely Memorial Day!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Pool Cake

N turned 4 today. I think he had a wonderful day, topped off with his requested "pool cake."

I saw the idea in a Woman's Day magazine last summer, so I had someplace to start from.

I did run into a few problems, though - which I thought I'd share in case anyone else wants to make a pool cake!

The magazine recipe suggested freezing the cake, to make it easier to carve out the "pool." I did that, but since I used 8" pans, I had a nice crown on each cake. Usually, that's not a big deal, as I just push them together, and they give. BUT, since they were frozen when I was trying to frost -- there was no give. In the future, I would slice off the crowns so they were flat. By the time I figured out I should do that, it was late and I decided to make it work.

I carved out the spot for the "pool, and got the cake frosted. I took the pieces I cut out and used them around the sides to fill in the gaps. The recipe suggested frosting the entire cake, including the hole and then pouring blue jello into the hole. I did that, made the jello, and began pouring.

And watched as the pool emptied. The jello soaked right through the frosting and into the cake. And, as I watched, the side sprung a leak and blue jello began oozing out the side.

Ummmmm. . . . what to do now? B suggested using blue frosting, but I really liked the idea of the blue jello look!

So, I found a small tupperware container that was the right size, and poured the jello in there. (well, it was the right size when I stuck it in the top of the cake and carved out more cake!) I greased the container, chilled the jello and the cake, and went to bed.

Today, I tried to un-mold the jello and it came apart in 4 pieces. I carefully fit them together and decided it looked like there were waves in the water. (it did, really! Click on that pic and look!)

The fun part was putting together the scene on top. I used smarties candies to make the tile around the "pool", and decorating icing to paint swim suits on the teddy grahams. I included a snack table with 2 of N's favorite snacks (hamburger and pizza). He had seen the animal picks from the baby shower last weekend, and requested they be at the pool - so there is a lion, zebra and elephant joining in the fun.

It actually came out pretty cute (if I say so myself.) Nate loved it and that's really all that matters! And, it tasted fine, even with the soaked in blue jello and the tons of frosting holding the cakes together.

I'm not sure what next year holds . . . C had a volcano cake, now the pool cake . . . who knows what the next cake will be?

(edited to add: If you wanted to see the volcano cake, click here!)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

not wanting to be 4

We've been talking about N's upcoming birthday for quite a while. He was very excited when the calendar turned to May and we've been counting down the days. Turning 4 is a very exciting time . . . or so I thought.

Tonight, after both boys were in bed (and I thought asleep), N came out in tears. He sobbed "I don't WANT to be 4! I need to stay 3!" I took him in my arms and held him close and asked him "Why?" More sobs. I talked about the fun things he can do when he turns 4 - like play t-ball with his brother in the fall league. He admitted that was good, but he still wanted to stay 3. Finally, he sobs "But, I can't give up my nubbies!!"

For quite a while, we've discussed how he would give up nubbies (pacifiers) when he turns 4. He has only used them for sleep since forever . . . but 4 seemed a good age. Actually, 3 seemed a good age, but I found with C that 3 was too soon. (As soon as I let him have a nubby back, he started napping again . . . a welcome afternoon rest for Mom, too.) Right around C's 4th birthday, he gave them up and has never looked back.

We mentioned it at N's 3rd birthday, but he wasn't interested. I tried again at 3 1/2, and still no interest. I really thought we were all on the same page for his 4th birthday, but I guess not.

I told him that he didn't have to give them up if he didn't want to. He literally only sucks on one for about an hour after he falls asleep. He was SO relieved that his entire body relaxed suddenly and he is okay now about turning 4.

Thank goodness -- because May 15 is going to arrive -- whether he's ready or not! I know there are plenty who would disagree with me on this one, but that's why I'm his mom.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

shower & update

The shower was a complete success. D was thrilled with all that was planned, the food was perfect and plenty, and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. They all got into the games and played with gusto! And, she got a metric ton of more baby stuff.

My sister came with me to help and she was such an amazing help! It was really wonderful.

Yesterday, I went to the doctor (first time in 2 years!) and complained about the persistent pain I've been in for a long time (years.) It's recently (last 4-5 months) gotten much worse, so I'm hoping for relief. She sent me for x-rays, and then hopefully our health insurance will cover physical therapy so I can finally get some respite from the pain.

Today I need to spend the afternoon at my sister's condo so her refrigerator can get delivered. My parents got her a new one as a birthday gift - but Bo found it and arranged for the delivery. It works out alright, as I also need to clean the rental condo in the same complex.

Tomorrow and Thursday are open at the moment - although we may make plans to see a friend. Friday is the last mom's group at my parish for this year. We'll start again in September (provided I decide to continue . . .)

I need to get my mom's Mother's Day gift finished and boxed and mailed . . . if the delivery comes early enough, I'll be able to mail it today I think.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

greek chicken salad recipe

Here's the recipe for Greek chicken salad. I make it at least a couple times a year, usually in the summer, and usually for a crowd. This recipe serves 4-6, so increase as necessary. The first time I made this, I probably followed the recipe pretty exactly - but now I just get the ingredients and throw them together until it seems right. It always tastes great ;) I usually add more olives and more feta cheese than the recipe calls for, and less mayo and parsley.


  • 3 cups cooked chicken (I usually grill chicken breasts. You can get 3 cups from 2 large breasts usually)

  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

  • 1/4 cup fresh, chopped parsley

  • 2 T pitted, sliced black olives

  • 3/4 cup plain, fat-free yogurt

  • 1/2 cup light mayo

  • 1 T dried oregano

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

Preparation Directions

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl

  2. Combine yogurt, mayo, oregano and garlic in small bowl

  3. Pour over chicken mixture, toss well

  4. Cover & chill 2 hours

  5. Serve in pitas lined with lettuce leaves, or with croissants

cooking update

I'm done cooking!


1 batch of yellow cupcakes & 1 batch of chocolate cupackes (48 total) frosted with blue buttercream frosting (piped on with star tip) and topped with animal picks.

A huge batch of pasta salad.

A huge batch of Greek chicken salad made with grilled chicken breasts, feta cheese, olives, cucumber, yogurt, garlic & oregano. It's yummmmmy. I will serve pita breads with it.

I hope I have enough food. We're expecting 20 people.

My kitchen is a mess. I'm buying vegetable & fruit platters . . . yes, it will probably cost more than if I was to cut it up myself, but I can't stand another moment. I really hope my doc visit on Monday provides some plan for relief as the pain just keeps getting worse.

I need to find a couple boxes to box up all the stuff I need to carry over there tomorrow and then I hope to rest this evening. I imagine I'll be on my feet a lot tomorrow again and Monday will find me using my cane again . . . which I dislike immensely.

Friday, May 05, 2006

baby shower

I'm hosting a baby shower for my friend D on Sunday. She & I live about 45 minutes from each other, and I'm pretty much her only friend on this side of the valley. She got a lot of grief about the idea that I would hold the shower at my home, so I agreed to hold it at her home. This actually turned into holding it at a home they're in the process of flipping (a couple blocks from her home.)

I agreed to hold it there because she was extremely stressed, and I remember how pregnancy hormones can make some things seem much more complicated/difficult/crazy than they actually may be. I'm not saying I regret it - but it is definitely causing me more work! Earlier this week, I took over extra chairs, decorations, tablecloths, plates, cups, utensils. My husband took over 2 extra tables. On Sunday, I'll have to transport all the food, drinks, games, prizes, pitchers, etc. to this other house. It's a bit of a pain - but she's an absolutely wonderful friend and I'm honored to host her shower.

I put together blue glass tealight holders and a blue tealight in tulle, tied with a small blue pacifier as the favor. I included a small poem about lighting the candle when the baby is born, and saying a prayer in his name. I also have mints wrapped in "it's a boy" wrapping. I'll put the favors on one table, along with the mints, and a basket full of index cards and a large plastic bottle. I'll ask everyone to write a message of love / support / advice on the cards and drop them in the bottle for her to read later. Oh - and the diaper cake I made last week will also be on this table for decoration.

I decided on 4 games. For the first, I purchased 2 dozen small plastic babies. They were dropped in small plastic cups, filled with water and frozen. As each guest arrives, they'll be given a cup - and the first to have their baby born (ie: thaw) will win a prize. The 2nd game will be a memory game -- I'll have removed the diaper cake and then ask the guests to remember all the items on the cake. The one with the most wins; and also the one who guesses the number of diapers will win. The 3rd game is a mystery bag game. I put baby items in 10 paper bags and sealed the bags. Everyone wil be able to feel the bag, and try to guess what's in it. I included things like cotton balls, diaper creme, a board book in the bags. The most correct guesses wins. And, for the final game, I will hand out small chunks of play dough (made by me - in orange, since that's D's favorite color.) and ask them to sculpt a baby. D will choose the winner of that contest!

Oh, and I also have prizes to give to the first person to RSVP via the phone and also email. I just think it's so rude to not RSVP to an event - or to not RSVP to the person holding the event. At least 6 people RSVP'd to my friend - even though I had my name, phone number and email on the invite. It's a good thing it wasn't a surprise!

For the prizes, I have small boxes in the shapes of animals (hippo, giraffe, elephant - did you see them in the Target $1 section a few months ago?) In each box, I put different prizes -- one is stuffed with fun size M&M packs, a couple with travel sized goodies from Bath & Body Works, another with picture clips, another with a $10 Starbucks card. I think it'll be fun for people to choose a box and have the surprise.

Then, we'll eat! I am making Greek Chicken Salad w/pita bread, pasta salad, vegetable platter, fruit platter and cupcakes for desert. The decorating theme was baby animals, and I found some adorable cupcake picks in the shapes of animals. I also have lemonade, iced tea and bottled water to drink. (which reminds me - I will need to buy ice that morning to take with me, and take my ice bucket.)

After food, she'll open her gifts. I was at her house this week and she shared the things she received at her family shower in CA a week ago. She already has so much. Just a small sample -- 3 diaper bags, 3 strollers, 2 high chairs, 2 pack 'n' plays, a bassinette, and over 100 outfits for 0-6 months. She won't ever have to do laundry - the baby can wear each outfit once and move on! LOL! It's very different from the minimalist approach we took . . . Nate slept with us and didn't have a crib until he was over a year. Colin had a crib right away, but didn't sleep in it for a year. I didn't have a high chair until Colin was a year old (in fact, it was his 1st birthday present from us.) I did have a stroller that I loved -- but just one! Of all the things she does have, she doesn't have a sling . . . and I had already passed on both of mine to moms in need.

I had offered to throw her a mother's blessing (similar to what I did for my friend T in February) and she really wanted a traditional baby shower instead. So, I'm glad I'm doing what she wants . . . but I'm stunned at all she's received already. It's almost horrible, but I'm partially dismayed at the items I gave to her and wish I could have given them to someone who truly needed them! (I gave her our pack 'n' play, our high chair, clothes, toys, and a few other things.) That list I named above doesn't include the items I gave her! I don't really understand the emotions I'm feeling - it's not that I'm jealous . . . although maybe I'm jealous of her pregnancy? wishing we had another one on the way? I don't know.

I DO know that she is one of the best friends I've ever had and I'm thrilled to be a part of this time in her life. She co-hosted my baby shower and I love that I can return the favor. I'm sure it'll be a wonderful shower and everyone will have fun.

family sayings

We have some things I think are only said in our family.

For years & years, B has said that he's "walking my goat" when he's teasing me, or when I'm being gullible about something. I really have no idea where it came from, but now even the boys say it. strange!

When we'd go shopping with my sister when the boys were much younger, sometimes she'd stop to look at something and we'd move on ahead. One of the boys would ask where she was, and I'd reply "Oh, she joined the circus." Now that they're older, they are sometimes the ones who fall behind, and we still say "Oh, he joined the circus." or "Did C join the circus?" It's a hilarious joke to us!

I have always said the "straw that broke the donkey's back." Everyone else insists the phrase should be the "straw that broke the camel's back." BUT, how often do you see a camel outside of a zoo in the United States? When you think of a work animal, don't you think of a donkey? There, case made ;) B has his own, too - he always says "better than sliced pie" and I insist the phrase is "better than sliced bread." Who buys sliced pie? But when you could buy bread sliced that was an innovation!

When my sister was a toddler, she called Cool Whip "whip top." To this day (she's almost 27) our entire family STILL calls it "whip top."

I'm sure I'll think of more, but those are the ones I can remember right now. What are some of your family's sayings?

Friday's feast 92

From which country(s) are some (or all) of your ancestors?
My great-grandparents came to the US from Ireland and Hungary. My German ancestors arrived in the US many generations ago.

How would you describe your sneeze?
Normal? My sister has a sneeze that sounds like she stifled it.

What is the last thing you cleaned?
the kitchen. I feel like I am ALWAYS cleaning the kitchen, but it never seems to stay clean!

Main Course
Who made the strongest first impression on you?
My husband. I knew the night we met I was in love and we would end up married. Considering how fickle I had been in the past, and how much I loved to date, this was pretty strange. There was something else that happened that night that made a strong impression and it's amazing that I didn't run for the hills! (let's just say his ex was/is crazy.)

Name one thing you want to accomplish in your lifetime.
write something worth publishing.

Thanks to Friday's Feast!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

face plant

My heart has finally slowed down.

Typical day . . . . N asks me to push him on the swings. I go outside to push him and after 2 pushes, he suddenly lets go at the highest point and begins flying through the air. My heart dropped as he dropped flat, face first, into the railroad tie that borders the play area.

I swear I started to run as soon as he left the swing and gathered him up to run in the house. I saw a gash above his eye and his nose start to swell. I laid him on the counter and B just happened to be home and came running as well. I immediately pulled 2 ice packs out (good mom of boys that I am - they're always ready!) and started to assess the damage. Trying to whisper to B "Is a hospital visit necessary?" while shoveling arnica tablets and motrin into his mouth.

Thankfully, the damage doesn't seem to need a hospital visit. B said he'd be gushing blood if he broke his nose. He's going to have a big black eye, and probably a bruised nose as well. So much for his 4 year portraits next week.

He said he was trying to fly. Um, yea, let's not try that again, ok?

He's currently laid out on the futon with Corwin's Quest (I love my DVR) playing on the tv, and a fresh ice pack on his head.

I think I need a bourbon & Coke. I know this is only the beginning . . .

Monday, May 01, 2006

April's reading list

I had better luck this month than last month! I read a bunch of books that I really enjoyed.

(*****) "Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini. I read somewhere that this would be a good book, and so had been waiting for it from the library for almost 2 months. I wasn't sure about it when I started it, but quickly got into it and found it an awesome book. Love, betrayal and redemption are all themes in this book and I was sorry to find myself at the end.

(*) "Getting Personal" by Diane Amos. Chick lit, but dumb chick lit.

(*****) "Last Days of Dogtown" by Anita Diamante. I enjoyed "The Red Tent" so I was interested to read this novel of hers. It was a book full of great characters and stories. Loved it.

(*) "The Fugitive Wife" by Peter Brown. boring. story dragged out and I just couldn't get into it. I read the first few chapters, then skimmed the rest. Nothing of note.

(***) "Murder in Ordinary Time" by Carol Anne O'Marie. This is the 2nd mystery I have read by this author and her mystery-solving nun. Fun read. It isn't the 2nd in the series though - WHY is it so hard to find out which order the books are published in? The list in the front should be a chronological list, don't you think?

(****) "Million Dollar Dilemma" by Judy Baer. Christian lit. good story, nice characters, enjoyable read. I always like it when they include discussion questions in the book. I guess that's the "forever student" in me. LOL!

(***) "Silver Rose" by Susan Carrol. Historical romantic fantasy about witches vs. French royalty in the late 1800's. Okay story, not great literature, but entertaining read. I read about 2/3 of it, and then started skimming as I pretty much could tell what was going to happen.

(***) "Angels & Demons" by Dan Brown. I read "DaVinci's Code" when it came out a while back. I think this book was better, but still laughable at parts the way he perceives/represents the Catholic Church. Maybe I'm just extra-sensitive. Good read all the same, as long as one remembers that he's a FICTION author.

(****) "The Woman at the Washington Zoo: writings on politics, family and fate" by Marjorie Williams. A collection of her profiles of people living in DC. She's a wonderful writer; the profiles were very well done. It was an informative read, and very enjoyable. I didn't realize until near the end when the essays became personal that the author died of cancer at a fairly young age. Those essays were hard to read as she came to the realization that she wouldn't see her young children grow up.

(*****) "Collected Stories, 1891 - 1910" by Edith Wharton. Wharton has been one of my favorite authors for many years. After reading this collection, I still love her. She is an absolute master at creating characters.

(**) "Digital Fortress" by Dan Brown. This book fell into my lap and so I read it. It was just "eh" and many parts were highly implausible. No rips on the Catholic Church in this book. It was an easy read, though, and mildly entertaining.

I usually only include the "story" books that I read, and don't include the cookbooks and other reference books in this list. I read a couple this month, though, that I wanted to include as well.

(*****) "Great Garden Companions" by Sally Jean Cunningham. I should have read this about a week before I actually did, as I would have planted my vegetable box differently. Oh, well, there's always the next planting season! I love how she just throws all the plants together tightly and lets them grow and help each other. Wonderful book with tons of great information.

(*****) "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker" by Beth Hensperger & Julie Kaufmann. I admit that one of the things I look for in cookbooks are lots of pictures. I need the visual usually to get me interested in making a new dish. This book, however, has NO pictures but it does have 350 recipes. It includes a chapter about the science/mechanics of slow cooking, and then shares recipes that cover just about everything you would ever want to cook! I like to cook with my slow cooker, especially in the summer here, and plan to use this book to increase the amount of things I use it for. They have recipes for breakfast to desserts, and EVERYTHING in between. I wish it included nutritional info and pictures.
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