Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cutie Pie

Choose Your Own Adventure Day

Every Thursday morning, we have the option of attending story time at the library. Usually, I pass, and focus my attention on the laundry piles, potty training, messy floors and transcription work. Plus, merely the thought....of wrangling three squirmy children through a parking lot, into a quiet lobby, and up an elevator into a room full of game-loaded computers, puzzles with millions of tiny pieces and a bunch of perfectly dressed and perfectly cute children whose look-they-got-it-all-together mommies bring them faithfully...makes me exhausted.

Today I decided to give it a shot, since we'd been holed up at home a little too long this week. I knew Jason was going to be close by, working on moving dirt at our new church building, and we thought it might be fun to meet for lunch. All the kids got baths and got dressed. I was feeling extra brave and let Helen go without a pull-up. Jack got a snack-nap of about 15 minutes, to be awakened by Mommy for an early feeding, and we headed out the lane only a few minutes behind schedule.

We made it upstairs to the library with everyone still smiling. Jack is too heavy to lug around in his carseat anymore, so I set him down on a blanket and gave him some toys. Owen made a beeline for a computer, and I got Helen started on a puzzle across from a little boy who was there with his attentive grandmother. I selected some books for the kids and checked them out. Since I had purposefully locked my purse in the car to avoid one more thing to carry, the librarian told me I could pay my $1.20 fine next time. I saw the attentive grandmother helping Helen with her puzzle as I buzzed past on my way to make sure Owen hadn't torn up the computer. Then I took Helen to the potty, and Owen wanted to come too, because he loves to use public restrooms, and I don't know why. I wasn't sure about leaving Jack, and thinking about it now, I probably just should have asked one of the other moms or maybe the attentive grandma (whom I didn't know) to keep an eye out for him. I thought it was just going to be a minute. A minute turned into several, since Helen couldn't produce anything, but learned all about the noisy fan and the sink and the paper towels in the bathroom. When we returned, story time had started and one of the librarians was holding Jack, who had gotten a little fussy when all the live entertainment moved to another room.

We made it through story time without a hitch. Instead of reading a story, Mrs. Dorothy showed one on video. Then she started singing time. Owen promptly trotted out of the room and back to the computer. After dismissal and line-up for suckers, which Owen had to bypass because of his rude behavior (mommy-imposed loss of privilege), we went to the potty again. This time I took Jack, and he hung out on my coat on the floor while I helped Helen hold on, but alas, still no potty. We bolted for the elevator and met another young mom who had two kids in tow. "I admire you so much with three children!" she said.

I smiled a real big one and told her the truth. This is only the second time I've been to the library since Jack came along. (And the first time I had to hole up in a back corner to nurse the little bugger, while a friend kept an eye on my other two.) We just don't get out much because it's so much work.

I dropped Owen off with his daddy and went to the store. I stuck to my list and did a decent job of matching coupons with sales. I even helped an older gentleman find the best deal on white rice. Jack didn't start crying until my stuff was halfway rung up. Mr. Bo helped me load up the groceries, and then I realized Jack had lost a sock. Fortunately, I saw it in the parking lot.

We went ahead with lunch plans, and I took off for Jalisco's, an unpretentious Mexican joint that has a great cheap menu and muchas chips and salsa. Since Jack was working on a full-blown wail, I fed him applesauce in lightning mode, while Helen had unrestricted access to the chip bowl. I was having a serious deer-in-headlights moment when I was scraping the bottom of the applesauce container and Jack was still cranky. Jason came strolling in just in time to take Helen potty for real and to return Jack's car seat to the truck. I don't know what ridiculous idea passed through my mind when I brought that thing inside. With two booster seats and a highchair, the booth was already more than full, and we were seated in the waitstaff's major roadway to the kitchen. I took Jack off to the bathroom--how lovely--to nurse him since he was still squirrely. The little stinker will not take a bottle well. Fortunately for me, he was already full and not interested.

Owen and Helen split a rice/beans/burrito combo, and pretty much cleaned it up. Owen was especially hungry, since he had missed most of his breakfast, due to eating the bananas off the top of his Cheerios and then leaving the table. It wasn't his beloved "Walmart cereal" frosted mini-wheats.

We got the kids back to my truck, and I was thinking I would have an easy ride from there. We got home just in time for naps. I tucked them all in their snug little beds, then went to get a celebration piece of chocolate.

None of them slept. I repeat, NONE.

If you choose to go back to the library next Thursday, turn to page 32.
If you choose to stay home, turn to page 56.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't we all?

Today I made a small batch of cookies so I could send a few along with the guys who came to hook up our DirecTV, and so I would have some for the kids that are coming tonight for a kid swap. (We get the favor returned tomorrow night!) Owen and Helen each licked a beater while they waited on the cookies to bake.

"I'm not messy!" Owen announced with pride. On a scale of 1-10, he was about a 3. Helen was an 8.

Their little kitten tongues cleaned the beaters thoroughly, and I split a warm chocolatey cookie between them. The mess-o-meter went up slightly. "I want another cookie!" Owen pleaded.

"No, you've had your limit, buddy," I answered.

"I want another limit."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Today's recipes

This is as inspiring as it got around here today:

Playgroup Granola Bars (I happened to make these AFTER our 2-year-old guest left.)

2 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. wheat germ
1 t. cinnamon
1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. raisins
3/4 t. salt
1/2 c. honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 t. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients and raisins. Make a well and add rest of ingredients. Pat mixture evenly into a greased 9x13" pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars. (Don't let them cool for hours in the pan, unless you want to nearly break your spatula prying them out.)

Owen could hardly keep his hands off, and kept telling me he needed another 'nola bar. I wonder if I could slip some peas into my next batch? ha ha

Supper was a wonderful concoction:

Donna's Crab Meal

3 T. butter
3 T. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. cheddar cheese
1/2 pkg. imitation crab meat
dash garlic salt
dash garlic powder
dash pepper
dash cayenne pepper
1 tsp. lemon juice

Make a roux with the butter and flour, then add milk and rest of ingredients. Serve over rice.

I named this recipe after a very kind lady who sent this supper home with us after she watched Owen for a day while I was at working out my notice after he was born. (I would hate diagraming that sentence.) It's famous around our house now, and it's a great thrifty way to eat seafood.

This evening I used *real!* crab found for a deal at Winn Dixie, and for the record, real lemon juice squeezed from a real lemon. I bought a bag of already boiled snowcrab legs, so I had the opportunity to improve my crab-leg-cracking skills. Helen watched in admiration of the process, gulped up lumps of meat I set aside for her, and announced greedily many times over, "I need more."
If you ever get the chance to order snow crab legs at a restaurant that knows how to cook seafood, take it. Swallow your pride, take off your rings, roll up your cuffs and get to work. It is sooo worth it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

More Projects!

After having my Aunt Ellen's nativity pattern for years, I finally made five-eighths of it this past October. Then Life happened, and I didn't finish it....yet. Maybe next October?? Thing was, it was fun to do, but stressful because of all the little "pieces-parts," in the words of Ms. Sara. My color-blind husband shrugged as I agonized over the exact color combinations on each figure and with the whole set. Coming next year: the angel of the Lord, a shepherd and the third wiseman.
Since that project was years in the making, I completed another, start to finish, just this very evening: a guitar shirt for Owen.

Here is the stencil ironed onto the shirt, along with my pattern. Note: Use freezer paper, not parchment paper! In my haste, I didn't look, and grabbed the wrong box. I tried to iron the parchment paper on, and was getting pretty peeved that it wouldn't stay down; then I realized my mistake. I had to painstakingly cut the whole thing out twice! While I was cutting with the Exacto knife, I had to remind myself to keep my mouth closed. I unconsciously stick my tongue out when I'm concentrating. Like, I've caught myself drooling into the bathroom sink as I'm scrubbing it out. Yikes! I didn't want any spit on my guitar stencil.

I sponged on paint, buzzed a hairdryer over it, and pulled off the stencil.
I can't wait until Owen sees it tomorrow! The lines were a bit fuzzy, but I think it was the nature of the fabric. It was 100% cotton, but it was woven to be softer, and I could see fibers sticking up all over the shirt. By the way, I paid 50 cents for this brand-new shirt!

And this is off the subject, but I couldn't resist. Jack and his buddy, Kitty. We still have yet to name her. She's mostly an outside cat, but loves to come inside too. We've tried to domesticate this one, but she won't use her litter box. Maybe when the kids get older, I'll be able to handle an indoor pet again.


Coming home from Indiana with our window wells. The kids ran around on the trailer at rest stops.
Trying on new Christmas pajamas and playing with Owen's new camera.
Saying goodbye to our Ohio guests.
Intense grief.
Rediscovering pinwheels from the summer.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Jack and the Great Grandparents

On our trip to Indiana over Thanksgiving, Jack got to meet his northern great grands.
Here he is on Thanksgiving Day with Great Grandma B, my paternal grandmother. We had a small feast at my Uncle Sheldon's house that day, and the sun was as gorgeous as my grandma. She has always been busy making things, from noodles to sock monkeys. She has a very generous heart, and loves to give creative gifts. One Christmas, each of us grandchildren got a box of our favorite cereal suited up in a towel "jacket" and washcloth "tie." Mine was Peanut Butter Crunch in a peach towel!

Great Grandma G took her turn holding the baby too. She is another fine lady, one whom I am finding I am a lot alike. She learned to sew by watching. Her mother didn't let her sew, but gave her housework instead. One day, her mother went to town, and grandma took the opportunity to sew herself a dress. After that, her mother let her do the sewing, and she never stopped. She is still sewing for other people, and one of her most recent projects was making two comforters out of memorabilia t-shirts.
Jack sure loved his great grandparents! My Grandpa G always gives lots of hugs. He sure knows how to relax and have a good time, too! I remember Grandpa G's had the best bikes at their house, one of which I could ride with no hands. I even have the scars to prove it.
And here's Jack with Grandma B again. She presented him with an Amish outfit that Grandpa B wore as a baby. We had quite a time figuring out how to fasten the barn-door pants! This is a treasured picture. Jack Herman was named after his grandpa Herman, whom we won't see again until we get to heaven. Alas, the outfit's suspenders went missing!