Archive for February, 2013

Why I need a Peanut Tree

February 25, 2013 12 comments

There’s something peculiar happening in my house.

The consumption rate of peanut butter has recently increased a zillion-fold.  I mean, it’s dramatic.  Friday morning I opened a new jar of peanut butter to make my kids’ breakfast shakes.  When I returned home that very same night, I found a half-empty jar of peanut butter.  And I’m not talking about one of those tiny, wimpy little jars.  I’m talking about the big one that comes wrapped up with a twin from Sam’s Club.

First, peanut butter is far more expensive than it seems like it should be.  It makes me angry to spend so much money on peanut butter.  So much so, in fact, that I’ve experimented with making my own peanut butter.  Which led me to the realization that peanuts themselves are more expensive than they ought to be.  So, since I’m spending my hard-earned dollars on this one way or another, I’ll take the lazy way out, which is a giant jar of Jif.  A giant jar of Jif that should last a month or more.  The same jar that is barely getting us through the week.

Second, I don’t consider peanut butter a particularly healthy food.  It has its good points, but overall, I like to treat peanut butter as an occasional treat, not a staple.  We have a long-established no-more-than-twice-a-week peanut butter sandwich rule around here.  I have bent on this to some degree by adding a spoonful of peanut butter to the aforementioned breakfast shakes, which began as a way to get a little extra nutrition into my oldest as she recovers from her bout with gastroparesis and has morphed into the be-all, end-all of weekday breakfasts for both kids.  Still, a spoonful a day is reasonable.  A half a jar a day damn near requires an intervention.

Third, I don’t actually see anyone eating any peanut butter.  I can’t explain this.  I know my daughter often has a PB&J on days when her stomach is feeling shaky, but that doesn’t come near to explaining the peanut butter phenomenon.  Who is eating it all and when are they doing it?  I am usually around the house, how am I missing all this peanut butter eating?  Are there secret midnight peanut butter meetings in my kitchen?  Why am I not invited to these?

Before long, I’m going to have to put a nannycam in the peanut butter cabinet.



Moderately Healthy Breakfast Shakes for Kids who Don’t Want Breakfast and Moms who are Always Late

6 Tablespoons of Carnation Breakfast Essentials

1 Large Banana

1 spoonful of peanut butter (if there’s any left)

1/2 cup crushed ice

3/4 cup milk

Throw it all in the blender and blend until the noise has woken the children for school.  Bon Appetit!


Top Ten Ways Teenagers are like Babies

February 25, 2013 15 comments

I admit, once my children got to a certain age, I relaxed a little.  Once they were old enough to bathe themselves, get dressed and get their own food, I thought I had the mommy thing pretty well licked.  Well, you know what happens to mommies who get overconfident, right?  Yep, they get a teenager.

My daughter turned thirteen last fall, and I must commend her on the enthusiasm with which she has embraced the teen years.  She’s taking this seriously, and I find myself plunged into a bizarre parenting loop.  Just when I allowed all the distant memories of babyhood to fade into my memory, I find myself repeating the whole process, only this time it’s with a kid who can back sass. (yay)



  1.  They don’t sleep when you want them to.  In a shocking twist, teenagers seem determined to make up for all the sleep they missed in babyhood by sleeping well into the afternoon at every opportunity.
  2. Time spent in the bathroom primping is roughly equivalent to the time spent changing diapers the first year.
  3. They require special bath soaps and shampoos.  Sadly, Johnson & Johnson comes much cheaper than a vast array of Bath & Body Works soaps, lotions and sprays. (Or Axe, if you’ve got the male variety of teen.)
  4. You are always buying them new clothes.  Not because they’ve outgrown them, but because the $100 coat you bought six months ago isn’t in style as much as the $200 coat they need now.
  5. They lie around a lot.  It’s exciting to help your baby learn to walk, but it gets old quick when you’re nagging encouraging your teenager to get outside and get some exercise.
  6. It’s a battle to feed them right.  Days of breastfeeding and introducing solid foods may be far behind you, but the battle of pizza and Cheetos rages on.
  7. When they’re cranky and irritable, you don’t understand why and there is nothing that you can do to fix it.
  8. You have to protect them from danger.  You’ll long for the days of baby-proofing the house when you send them out into a world full of predators, drugs and irresponsible drivers.  You will have nightmares of letting them drive long before that day actually comes.
  9. You can’t leave the house in a hurry.  You might not need to pack a diaper bag anymore, but you still have to wait for them to find the right shoes, a matching jacket, find their cell phone and text their friends the latest life update.
  10. Most of the time, you are completely clueless and sure that you’re doing everything wrong.

Lest I become too relaxed as I decipher this new role, I am reminded that in two short years, I will have another new teenager, and it will undoubtedly be a whole new ballgame.  Remember when you had your second baby and you thought you had it all figured out?  Yeah, I learned the hard way that kids don’t make it that easy on you.  But maybe, just maybe, the next one will be easier.  I have, at least, learned one hard lesson in parenting.  Never, ever let your guard down.  And buy lots of Cheetos.

Sometimes you just have to keep the peace.

My Dream Job: A Business Plan

February 18, 2013 3 comments

I have a dream.  My dream is to become independently wealthy so that I may start a small business.  Maybe that seems backwards, but that’s how I mean it.  You see, my business idea isn’t likely to be successful.  My dream is to be the Cake Nazi.

(I don’t want to be an actual Nazi, that is reprehensible.  I want to be this kind of Nazi.)

I love to make cakes.  However, I like to do it the way I want to do it, not necessarily the way other people want it.  I have difficulty with very specific orders.  The kind of cake orders I like are:  “The colors are this and that.  Just make it nice.”  Damn right, I’ll make it nice.  But I have trouble with orders that want this picture here and those words there and can you make it look like this picture?  I feel stifled.  Also, I do not have the personality type that makes it easy for me to work with the public.  I’m ornery.



So, I’ve decided that my path is to be the Cake Nazi.  If you work with me, I will provide lovely and delicious cakes whenever you’d like them.  If you don’t, well then.  No cake for you.  Come back in one year.

The Rules:

  • Cakes come in flavors, not colors.  Yellow and white are not options.  Red velvet is commonly accepted, but not here.  Tread lightly.
  • If you need a birthday cake for your child, I KNOW that you knew this day was coming.  Do not wait until two days before the birthday to order an elaborate cake.
  • Don’t ask me to duplicate anything, not even my own work.  That’s boring and unoriginal.
  • It’s not necessary to write on every cake.  If you’re serving cake at a birthday party, it is generally acknowledged that you want to wish someone a happy birthday.
  • When you pick up a cake, support it on the bottom, for the love!!
  • I’m not putting plastic crap on a cake.  If you must have toy figures on a cake, add them after you take it home and pray that I never find out about it.
  • If you want to pay grocery store prices, then go to a grocery store.  My time is valuable.
  • Know how many people you need to serve.  Cake is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
  • Copyright infringement is a real thing.  There will be no Mickey Mouse cakes.
  • Never, ever say, “It’s just cake.”
  • Use correct grammar.  It’s not relevant to cake, but it’s important to me.
  • Do not annoy, irritate, or piss me off in general.

I’m not getting any closer to becoming independently wealthy, so I’m just putting this out there for anyone who wants to get in on this business plan.  Do you have scads of money that you’d like to risk on a woman who fully intends to alienate a huge portion of the customer base, but makes really good cake?  Then take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity now, before it’s too late!

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Homeschooling by Accident

February 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Today my family has big plans.  Hubs and I are going to sit down with the boy and bang out a fifteen minute oral research project about the History of Video Games.  This is a research project that he was assigned no less than four months ago.  It was a topic that he chose.  In fact, I had to go to bat for him with his teacher to allow this topic, and promise to buy the research materials myself.  I did it because I thought maybe, just maybe, if he had a topic in which he has a real and true interest then maybe he would thrive.

I am a naive woman sometimes.

This kid hates research of any kind.  He has the kind of relationship with words that I have with numbers.  Simply writing a paragraph overwhelms him, because he wants it to be right, the first time.  He doesn’t get down with notes, rough drafts or rewrites.  So this often results in him staring off into the wild blue yonder while he is supposed to be doing something.  His teacher called me recently, gravely concerned about the lack of progress he has made and the looming due date of this project.  The boy is stressing all of us.

So, I thought about it, and I made a decision.  I’ll teach him how to write a paper backwards.  He has enough general knowledge of the topic (God knows he does) to know what he wants the final product to be.  So we’ll just start writing, and find the facts and figures as we go.  Sure, it takes a little longer to do it like this, but it’s zero hour.  He doesn’t like taking notes?  Neither do I, and I’m not 100% sure I ever, ever wrote a paper using notes and outlines and stuff.  There is no one “right” way to do things, as long as the end result is good.  So we’ll bang this sucker out with no notes and bring shock and awe to the classroom.

What a way to spend a day off.

What a way to spend a day off.

I find myself doing this a lot…teaching my kids.  I don’t mean to say it like it’s a bad thing, obviously parents should teach their kids.  I just mean that I didn’t expect to teach them, say, algebra.  I didn’t expect to have to teach both of my children the finer points of writing an essay.  I have taught them about multiplication, mnemonic devices and punctuation.  Frankly, I feel like what we’re doing here (gotta include Hubs, because really, I’m not teaching anyone Algebra.  Not if my life depended on it.) goes above and beyond the idea of “helping” our kids with their homework.  We’re damn near homeschooling them.

Why, why, why are we doing this?  Several possibilities come to mind.

  • My kids are weirdos and don’t learn like other kids.  Well, if this is true, then every kid is a weirdo because individuals do not all learn the same way.  I know that schools have ways of addressing this.  Also, I don’t mean to brag, but these kids are smart.  Generally you can explain something one good time and they’ve got it.  So, where’s the disconnect?
  • My kids don’t pay attention in class and prefer to use my precious free time to learn from me.  This is highly likely where one kid is concerned, but virtually impossible with the other one.  I mean, I know how they hate to see me relax and have time to myself, but I’m pretty sure there is at least some level of attentiveness in class.
  • Expectations.  One of my children, who shall remain nameless, has a healthy dose of arrogance confidence in his academic ability.  On more than one occasion, this has led to a reluctance to ask for help or even a teacher not realizing that he (or she.  But it’s he.) needs help.  I mean, once you’ve told everyone that you know everything, they’re not likely to expect you to need help with stuff.
  • It’s not them, it’s me.  This is probably the winner.  I find myself frustrated with the state of education and I worry about what will happen when my kids when they get to high school/college/real life if they don’t learn things now.  And by “learn things,” I mean learn the things that I think they should know.  This might be okay if I didn’t have impossibly high standards, but at least my kids will understand grammar better than three-quarters of the adults I know.  If it kills me, they will know everything there is to know about an apostrophe.
  • I have made enemies.  It’s true, I don’t have a reputation of being easy to get along with in the schools.  I make my opinions known, and I have a lot of opinions.  I have been known to say things in front of my children that I shouldn’t say.  (example: Your teacher is an a-hole.)  disclaimer: most teachers are definitively not a-holes, but the one in question absolutely is and it pains me that he doesn’t seem to know it.  I’m probably fostering some bad attitude here, but, you know me, just keeping it real.

Upon further review, it appears that I’ve brought this on myself.  So, why don’t we just give it up and home school the kids?  Well.  First, and most importantly, we have jobs.  Second, I have a kid who just signed up for Algebra 2 and French 2.  This is stretching my abilities.  And as much as Hubs is willing and able to teach the occasional missed Algebra lesson, I am certain he’s not up for teaching the whole entire subject.  Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you like it.  Third, isn’t this why I pay taxes?  So my kids can get a decent education?  If I’m paying for it, you damn well better believe I’m taking advantage of it.  And then I’m going to complain, start trouble and do it the way I want it done.

It’s the American way, no?

How to Make Your Kid Eat…Something

February 16, 2013 12 comments

So, I hear a lot of parents of young children struggling to get those children to eat the things the parents want them to eat.  I can sympathize with this plight and so I’ve decided to devote a whole entire post to advice on how to make your children eat the things you choose.

**disclaimer!  I am not a nutritional expert of any kind, nor am I a parenting expert.  However, I have the following qualifications:

  1. I have two children who have made it to a minimum of ten years old without suffering malnutrition, rickets, or scurvy.
  2. While my children often tell me that dinner looks gross, they always eat what is served.
  3. Unless I’m serving Brussels sprouts.  (I’m a mother, not a miracle worker.)

I’ve decided that it would be wrong and immoral of me not to share the experiences that awarded me this lofty achievement.  And so I will tell you how I manipulated taught my children to eat what I want them to eat (which is usually not pizza.  which is what they would choose for every meal, every day, forevermore).

Well, now, this is just unrealistic.  via

Well, now, this is just unrealistic. via

So, how to make a kid eat:

  1.  Give up.  (kind of)  If you’re dealing with a toddler, don’t even try it.  Kids this age only have so many ways that they can assert themselves, so they will certainly, absolutely, without a doubt assert their powerful little personalities by refusing whatever sustenance you choose to offer.  Let it slide.  This, too, shall pass.  Just keep offering the good stuff and pretend like you don’t care what they eat and one day you will find a clean plate.  I mean, it might not be until they’re eight or nine or twenty-seven, but one day, it will happen.
  2. Lie.  There may be someone who feels compelled to tell me that I shouldn’t lie to my children.  You are entitled to lie or not lie, as you see fit.  But my own mother told me egregious lies as recently as thirteen years ago when she told me that labor “isn’t that bad” and we still have a peachy relationship, so I maintain that not all lies are a bad thing.  Anyway, the lie that won this battle for me was when I convinced my youngest that your taste buds change every year, so you have to try something you don’t like at least once a year.  He bought into this whole-heartedly, and usually around his birthday each year, he starts eating a new variety of foods.
  3. Trickery.  When my kids were little, I would fix them a “tossed salad.”  That’s in quotes because it was really just a bowl of cucumbers and cottage cheese with one piece of lettuce drenched in Ranch dressing.  Those were the only parts of salad that they liked, so that’s what I gave them.  Over the years, I gradually added stuff, so stealthily that before they realized what had happened, they were eating honest to goodness green salad.  Children are adaptable little creatures.  You can make them eat any old thing if you just sneak it in gradually.
  4. Tell them they can’t have any.  I don’t care what you’re eating, if you tell your child that it’s only for you and they aren’t allowed to eat it, they will snatch it off your plate and stuff it in their gob in a hot second.
  5. Add cheese, Ranch or ketchup.  This should require no further explanation.


Take heart, my fellow frustrated mommies.  Kids are notorious for this.  You’re not alone, and I absolutely promise that there’s nothing wrong with the food you’re offering them.   One day your kids will start eating like normal people and everyone shall rejoice.  Until then, keep an extra bottle of ranch in the pantry.

Playing Hooky From My Class Reunion

February 11, 2013 2 comments

This morning it occurred to me that my twenty year class reunion will be happening this year.  Sweet baby Jesus, I’m older than dirt.  Anyways…since Hubs and I are of the same graduating class and we only live one town over from where we went to high school, we could easily go.  But we’re not going to.  Here’s why.

  1. Facebook is a 24/7 reunion.  Social media has made class reunions irrelevant.  I’m already Facebook friends with a LOT of people from high school.  I know what you’re all up to and you know what I’m doing.  We can easily chat if we so desire.  If we haven’t wondered about each other enough in twenty years to look one another up on Facebook, then we probably have nothing to talk about at a reunion.
  2. Who I am now has nothing to do with who I was then.  These are people who I knew when I was a child.  There’s a reason people fall out of touch with old high school friends…because we grow into different people when we GROW UP!  I am still in touch with many of my high school friends, but it’s not the same kind of closeness that we had then.  Our lives are different.  We are different.  The experiences we have had since we were eighteen have shaped our lives, our personalities and our behavior far more than anything that happened in those four years of high school.  The people who I share interests and experiences with now are not the same as they were then, not because we were bad friends.  Just because life changes all of us.
  3. Nostalgia is overrated.  It’s fun to remember the good old days, of course it is.  But it gets tired pretty quick.  I can tell some funny old stories, but I’m old, I’ve forgotten a lot of them and I can no longer put a name to half of the faces from my high school class.  Anyone who thinks I’m being harsh about this, tell me quick, what color are my eyes?  (This probably only works if I’m flashing you while I say it.  Pretend I’m flashing you.  No. Wait.  Do not do that.  Never mind.)
  4. You cannot catch up on twenty years in a couple of hours.  Seriously, if someone I haven’t seen in two decades were to walk up to me and say, “So, what have you been up to?” I wouldn’t know how to answer.  “Uh, nothing much?”  What have I done in twenty years?  Are you kidding me?
  5. Class reunions are traditionally for showing off.  I have reached a point in my life where I’m just trying to keep it real.  I don’t give two shits what anyone thinks of me or my life and I don’t have the energy or the desire to put on a show, or to watch yours.  So, to touch on the highlights:
  • My job.  I have one.  I have had it for a long time.  I work hard, I’m good at what I do and sometimes it feels like it’s killing my soul.
  • My marriage.  Got one of those, too.  We’ve been married forever and our relationship is rock solid and as comfortable as a pair of old pajamas.  It wasn’t always this way, but we made it to this point because we fought for each other when things were dark and scary.
  • My kids.  I have two, one of each variety.  They are crazy-smart and funny and beautiful and way better than anyone else’s kids, so it just makes for awkward conversation.  Also, there are days when I would like to sell them on eBay.
  • Me.  I’m a little fatter, I have a few gray hairs and a stubborn wrinkle across my forehead.  It seems that your face really will freeze like that.  I no longer have a filter, so I am inappropriate in almost any situation.  I like myself a lot more than I did back then, too, and I am comfortable being who I am.  Take it or leave it.

The point is not to be negative.  The point is that there’s good and bad in all our lives and none of us can be happy until we learn to balance the two, and to laugh at ourselves a whole awful lot.  Who wants to hear a whole lot of good, better, best when we all know that you’re lying?

There are some people from high school with whom I would like to chat over a couple of glasses of wine.  I’m genuinely interested in some of their lives and I think some of us could be really close friends again, but that’s not what class reunions are for.  So, if any of my former classmates wonder what I’ve been up to, I invite you to read any one of my gazillion blog posts to get a peek inside my head.  If you’re wondering what the Hubs is up to, you can glean little tidbits here and there from my life, and otherwise you can keep wondering, since he has respectfully demanded requested that I protect his privacy.  Like Spiderman.  But he’s not Spiderman.  Or is he?

See ya on Facebook. 🙂

The Day My House Vomited

February 9, 2013 6 comments

As I’ve mentioned, I spent years renting houses.  When you do that, you don’t always get all the kitchen appliances you want.  So, when I bought my house, I immediately installed a garbage disposal.  (When I say that *I* installed it, what I mean, of course, is that my father and my husband installed it whilst I danced around the kitchen much like I did when I was six and I got a Ballerina Barbie.)  I love that garbage disposal so much.  Dumping out things like leftover soup or cereal?  No longer an issue.  Old stinky leftovers in the fridge?  GONE, with the flip of a switch!

In theory, anyway.



I thought that garbage disposals were kind of a universal thing.  You put them in and wash all your nasties down the drain and everything’s lovely.  This is only true if you don’t have godawful plumbing in the house coupled with some truly outstanding poor judgment when you start dumping things down the drain.  Since I have both of these things, I excel at clogging the drain.  I mean, I am a champ at it.

I’m going to tell you this story so that you understand the extent of my problem.  Not because I am proud.  (Okay, I am little proud.  But I’m a little ashamed of that.)  One day I decided to grind up some old Brunswick stew.  Never mind that common sense will tell you the Brunswick stew is mushy and will not grind.  I dumped it into the sink with wild abandon.  Things went south quickly, my friends.

The first sign of trouble is nasty food water backing up into the other side of the double sink.  But it’s not too late!  Sometimes that will clear itself out!  But not this time.

So I went on my personal variation of the walk of shame.  I found my husband and hung my head, mumbling, “I think I clogged the sink.”  Of course, the reason I think this is because I now have a double sink full of watery Brunswick stew funk, but he’ll discover that soon enough.  I have to try to break it to him gently, because he would sooner roll around on hot coals, naked, than deal with the plumbing.  In the time he takes to walk into the kitchen, he is going to need to gather all of his strength just to keep from strangling me for what I’ve done.

See, this was no ordinary clog.  The more he worked on clearing the kitchen sink, the more the stew became determined to take over my house.  The bathroom sink backed up.  The dishwasher backed up.  The water pipes behind my washing machine spewed stew.  I’m not even kidding, I wish I were.  Through all this, I hovered around my poor Hubs, wanting to help but absolutely certain that I would do the wrong thing.  Seriously, this is one of those moments I just wanted to vanish.  I broke our house.  He was furious, but containing it well.  I mean, he knew it was an accident, but still.  I broke the house.  I had a stew-geyser behind the washing machine, for the love of God!

So, eventually he fixed it.  I don’t know how and I didn’t ask.  We don’t speak of it.

My transgressions of that day have resulted in the following five cardinal rules of garbage disposing.  Take heed, my friends, from someone who has hung upside down off a washing machine to scrub stew off the walls.

Rule 1: Anything containing shredded meat of any kind must never, never enter the sink.

Rule 2: You must only grind small amounts at a time, while running truly wasteful, earth-killing amounts of water.

Rule 3: If you’re not sure about it, ask Hubs if you can grind it.

Rule 4: If he says no, do not ask “Why not?”

Rule 5: When If you do clog it again, there’s no need to break the news gently.  When you run out of the kitchen, wailing, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I swear I ran lots of water!”, he will know, he will say nothing, and he will get the pipe snake.

That’s love.