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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rated What?

If there is one area that I have failed as a parent, it's preventing our children from seeing or hearing inappropriate songs, movies, videos and words. Case in point...

As many of you know, Cole loves Nickelback. One day, a few months after Christmas, I looked at the song list of Nickelback's Dark Horse CD he received from SANTA CLAUS. Just the name of some of the songs made me quiver. Now, I like Nickelback, from a musical perspective. But I don't love their platform. I prayed that Cole didn't understand or comprehend the lyrics. Then, the other day at breakfast...

"Mom, I hate to tell you this. But you know the song called Something in Your Mouth?"

"Yes." I don't like where this conversation is going.

"Well, I know what it means. You're not going to like it."

Oh, geez. What do I say? I fumble and come up with this. "Oh, really? Does it mean like when a boy and girl kiss and sometimes their tongues touch?"

Cole furrows his brows and gives me a quizzical look before replying, "Gross. No! It just means that a boy really likes a girl. You know, and he wants to call her."

I'm so glad I gave him the tongue image. Nice.

So, tonight, we're eating at a family restaurant and Cole blurts out, "I know what the C-Word is."

I'm dumbfounded. Do I lead him down a wretched path, explaining what the C-word represents? How all women find it offensive? How he should never, never repeat this word? Luckily, I'm not given the chance before my hubby steps in.

"Cole -- enough. We don't talk about that stuff."

End of conversation. Boy, that was easy. Morale of the story? Since Parental Guidance would be suggested every time I open my mouth, I'll just attempt to keep it shut to protect my children's innocent ears.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Who needs a beauty routine when you have a face like this?

Cole is ready in approximately three minutes. Four minutes tops. I've been waking up Alex at 6:20 to ensure she has enough time to put herself together and have us out the door by 7:25. Isn't that crazy?

Who in the world ever gave her the notion of picking out the perfect top, bottom, shoes, accessories, jacket, etc. for whatever the day would bring? Why does she take twenty minutes on coiffing her hair? And does her breakfast need to be coordinated with her lunch? And wouldn't it be easier if she only read one book at a time, instead of spending time figuring which one to bring for the day? Oh, wait. Am I talking about Alex or me?

It's just a darn good thing that Cole's content with messy hair, a black t-shirt, jeans or jean shorts and his DS. And that I get up at 5:30 every morning.

Or, we would never, ever leave the house.

Monday, August 24, 2009

On the Maintenance of Boys and Girls

In some ways, my kids are quite similar. Artistic, creative, humorous, sensitive. These adjectives would describe both of the them. But when it comes to maintenance, the kids are polar opposites.

Some of you may remember Alex's birthday soiree. We rented an old Caddie, although she wanted a real limo. We took her guests to the country club, although she would have preferred something a bit more swanky. She really needed a flat screen TV for her room, with a DVD player so they could watch Audrey Hepburn movies all night. The cake needed to be in the form of a hat to go with the theme. And can we get pedicures and manicures before the party? And can we...STOP! Alex, we're not like those rich folks from the city who spend thousands on birthday parties!

Then there's Cole...

"Cole, what do you want to do for your birthday?"

He looks up in earnest, "Can we go to Burger King?"

Doug and I look at each other. "Sure. What else?"

With a shrug, he responds, "I don't care."

Looks like it's Burger King for Cole. But of course, we'll figure out a few more things for him in attempt to equalize the spending. Although, I know we won't come close. Even if we give Cole everything he asked for.

Let's just hope that our kids NEVER measure our love by the amount we spend on each of them. Of course, Doug keeps mentioning that Cole hasn't hit the expensive stage yet. Wonder what that could mean...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Schedule Your Mammogram!

I faintly recall that in my last blog I had decided to embark on some sort of project in regard to updating my kitchenware. Since that last post, I've attended meetings, helped Alex plan her "first day of school outfit," attended meetings, rushed the kids off to the first day of school, played piano for the first Mass of the school year, attended meetings, responded to sixteen billion emails, planned Alex's "second day of school outfit," and then one day after work, I listened to my answering machine. The hospital called back to say they wanted me to come back in.

Our local medical center is very diligent about women's health. I think on the date of my birthday, I received a letter stating that with my 40th birthday comes a responsibility to schedule a mammogram. Sure. Will do...

When I didn't schedule it, I received another letter wondering why they hadn't heard from me. Could their persistence be a sign from God? So, I made the appointment, went through the smashing and that was that. Check another task off the list.

A week later is when I received the message . "Not to worry though...many women are called back in," she told me in a fairly convincing voice. I tried not to worry. But after a few bouts of diarrhea, somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I was worrying.

The battery of my right breast included amazing twists, turns and somersaults. After staring at the amazing face of a 55-year old Christi Brinkley on the cover of a magazine, the radiologist came into the room. I had prepared myself. I was ready for my breast reduction surgery and to start whatever treatment he recommended. But, he looked at me, smiled and said, "looks like everything is okay. We were able to flatten out the dark tissue."

Incredible. My mind became suddenly cleared. Diarrhea went away. And I could go back to worrying about Alex's wardrobe.

That other project I started. What was it again? Extreme Gourmet Make-over? I'll get to that just as soon as I celebrate life with my family and friends bit more.

P.S. I considered hiding the news from my hubby as he became the most sensitive man I ever met for 24 hours. But I couldn't do it to him. I shared the good news, and he's back to normal, thank God.
Look how perfectly coordinated the kids are for the first day of school! I'm really glad I got to help pick the clothes out...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hell's Kitchen?

When we built our house, I told my hubby that I'd be much more apt to cook with a new kitchen. He chuckled politely to himself. But I'd show him.

He's still waiting for me to show him. Well, I've come to realize, it's not so much the kitchen the inspires one to cook. It's about the cookery and gadgets!

I have three very good friends with kitchens that would make Williams-Sonoma jealous. I could spend days roaming through their cupboards and pantries, astonished by the level of organization and sophistication of their feeding systems. It makes me feel completely intimidated by my general ignorance of appliances and utensils.

So, I've enlisted my friend (Amy Ray Deen) to help me convert my Hell's Kitchen into something inspiring. I don't need a major facelift - just a lesson in organization and ultimate elimination of any remnant left over from college...

So here we start...Extreme Gourmet Makeover.

After completing my initial interview with Amy, I decide my first purchase should be a skillet since the teflon of my old skillet has pretty much made it's way into the bellies of my family. And after a huge family debate in Kohl's, I decide that my family will no longer be involved with the project. (Doug didn't care what I selected "Just pick one!" Alex and Cole eerily had strong opinions. So strong, that one left the section in a huff.) From now on, only my consultants can accompany on a purchasing trip. Next purchase? A roaster or a blender. I'll let you know after I've visited with my people.

Next post: Outline for the makeover and a maybe few photos of kitchen extraordinairres.

I wonder if this will get me any Pampered Chef invitations.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Birthday Celebration

This week we celebrated Doug's birthday. For so little planning, it turned out to be a great success! A few highlights included

*Recycled gifts from Cole including a Dolphins helmet and Eragon, the novel.
*Much entertainment for the whole family from a quaint little coffee table book, titled FARTS.
*Art in the form of a chocolate cake by Alex. Has anyone ever microwaved Betty Crocker chocolate frosting? Give it a try!
*A little too much wine (for me).
*Not quite enough beer (for Doug).
*A surprise visit from my cousin and her husband! It was like I planned a party.
*A little diddy, composed by Cole, which referenced beer drinking...hmmm. Too much Nickelback or too much male-bonding with Doug and godfather Jim?

The delightful evening was topped off by a spine-tingling rendition of Happy Birthday and zero proof of any girlfriends for my hubby. Who could ask for more?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Savvy Spendthrift

So last weekend in KC, my daughter was given an "allowance" to spend. She had to purchase some basics, such as jeans and a few other school necessities, but she had a fair amount to use at her discretion. I'm yet trying to decide if the exercise was more helpful to me or her. I had to tell myself a few times not to give in when her stash began to run short...but my daughter, she is a clever one...

As soon as she discovered the "buy one, get one free" promo's, she was all over it. I spent an hour trying to find a pair of pants in New York and Company because she found a pair that fit her perfectly! "How many times do I find jeans that fit this good, Mom?" She was right. They were adorable. And despite the one area of my wardrobe that I wasn't lacking (dress pants and jeans), I searched and searched so that I could make a purchase for Alex's benefit. Finally it hit me. I don't need pants and neither does she (we had already found a few pairs for her)...I needed to watch out for that ploy again...then at Bath and Body Works, the little fox approaches me again.

"Mom, do you think this color of lip gloss looks good on me?"
"It does!" As I'm scavenging the scented body sprays.
"Do you need gloss? If you buy two, you get one free!" says my enthusiastic shopper.
"Really?" So I follow her to the samples and pick out my gloss. Before I even knew what was happening, I've purchased Alex's two lip glosses and my new orange-flavored gloss to go with my other unused supply of lip glosses...

Apparently, I don't need to teach my daughters any lessons in savvy. Perhaps I could use some lessons myself though.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Shopping Trip Report: Day 2

Yesterday was such a whirlwind, I'm not sure where to start. Let me see. It all began at approximately 8:00 a.m...

*With my husband's birthday approaching, I absolutely had to find a gift for him. Fortunately, the perfect gift presented itself in the form of a charming little book entitled "Fart." (He doesn't read my blog, so it shouldn't ruin the surprise.)
*With Doug in mind, I decided to once again attempt to convert him into the metro-sexual I want him to be and bought a few clothes that I hope I can talk him into wearing.
*We spent an inexorbinant amount of time at Charlotte Russe. At least Mom and I had some nice visiting time while waiting for Alex to perfect her wardrobe.
*Make-overs at Dillards! My cosmetologist was a sweet, young thing who didn't realize that glitter all over a forty-year old isn't always flattering...especially in 100 degree heat.
*The margaritas at noon were heavenly.
*Looked for a birthday gift for Cole...(Iowa girls don't belong in a skateboarding store in the city.)
*By late afternoon, it occurred to me I had bought no career apparel, which was one of my main goals for the weekend. My daughter and mother graciously trekked back to Gap to score a few more pieces. My two shopping cohorts are the absolute BEST in honesty. And it was humorous to see what happens when they disagree.
*Finally, we decided to catch another movie in attempt to dry our sweat. On the way back, I realized that I wasn't holding my $100 Dillard's bag of cosmetics. OMG. I ran back to Gap, searching everyone I passed for the sack containing MY products. What I would do to that person if I found them... I rolled in to Gap, butted in front of the line to ask if I had left my precious new tools cosmetics guaranteed to make me ten years younger. With a smile, the clerk handed me the sack. Gap is my hero.
*Saw Julie and Julia...weeped tears of joy all the way through the movie. Julie's progression as a blogger fascinated me. Oh, to have eight comments on a posting! Maybe someday.
*Ate a delicious Italian meal to finish the evening...wait
*Made one last stop at Forever 21 to finish the evening...wait
*Stopped at Cold Stone Creamery to finish the evening...really.
The weekend was wonderful, and we are exhausted.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Shopping Trip: Day 1 Report

I write this as Mom applies the final touches of her cosmetics before we step out to our 2nd Day of my 40th Birthday weekend shopping trip...just a few notable updates:

*Alex had great luck at Forever 21. She now will be able to attend Sturgis next year.
*Mom and I have only purchased one identical item and it's merely a sweatshirt from Gap, and they are completely different colors (light coral and dark coral).
*Much too my relief (and I think Mom and Alex's), it appears that my summer shoe drought is OVER! I have been pained by my inability to find shoes this season. However, yesterday the floodgate opened.
*We were too late for Julie and Julia, so caught The Proposal instead. A must-see if you're in the mood for laughter.

Through out the commotion of our purchases, I lost my pj's last night. Luckily Alex found them in my suitcase after "a treacherous scavenger hunt through the maze dresses, shoes, jackets, gloves and funky jeans."

Good news...Alex didn't kick last night. Mom didn't snore. I only giggled a little.

We're off... to feed the starving child.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

On Making Ribs

Tuesday night was my rib experiment. I have only a few suggestions for any other considering the venture:

1. Give your self a few hours to make them.
2. Buy 1.5 pound rib rack PER SERVING, not for entire family of four.
3. Read the recipe entirely through before beginning. You might just change your mind.

Last night, Doug suggested a restaurant. I think he was just really hungry...


Tomorrow, Alex, Mom and I take off for Kansas City for an all-girl weekend of shoe-shopping, chic-movies and laughter galore...I'm taking the laptop, so I'll keep ya'll updated on our progress. This sounds much more fun than making ribs, heh?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Just Say No... Really?

Have any of you seen the movie Yes Man? The premise is quite clever - a reclusive naysayer is convinced to attend a self-help seminar and finds himself cursed to say "yes" to every request or suffer serious consequences. Well, my family has created their own self-help program...with the intent of teaching me to say no.

Of course, the village attitude always develops after periods of long days filled with various evening meetings. "You just need to learn to say no." "Yeah, Mom! Just say no. Practice."

I know that much of my hubby's intentions are to protect my sanity. Truly he's witnessed a few breakdowns when I'm completely overloaded. But after a week's worth of "no" counseling, I found myself very amused this evening.

It really wasn't unlike any other evening...

The kids and I walk in the door around 6:00.
Doug needs my help with an Excel formula for one of his farming spreadsheets.
I begin making a spaghetti dinner. (Sidenote: I'm still mentally preparing for the ribs I plan to make soon.)
I take the load of whites out of the dryer to make room for the wet towels.
Doug goes out to water our trees. Thank you!
Cole is putting his comics away. Thank you!
Alex is putting her clothes away. Thank you!
Then the Schwann's truck pulls in. All hell breaks loose.

My water begins to boil.
"Stef! Where are the pliers?" voices the man of my dreams from the garage.
"Mom? How do you spell Corbin?" says the little voice of my Coley.

Okay. Delegate. "Alex, answer the door, will you?" Get Doug his pliers since he doesn't have any idea where my gardening tools are kept. Hope the water doesn't boil over.

"Mom! There's a new Schwann's guy walking up to our door! I'm not answering it!" exclaims my nervous little girl.

Re-delegate. "Alex, add the spaghetti to the water. I'll get he door."

"How much spaghetti, Mom?"

I fumble with my spaghetti measurer. "Whatever. Just guess. I have a door to answer."

I get the door, thumb through the catelog, and put in a polite order (with a few shouted requests.. "Don't forget breakfast sandwiches!" As soon as Schwann's guy walks back to the truck, I'm hearing, "Mom! Can you get me some paper towels?" and "Mom? Do we have an envelope for the comics I'm sending to Corbin?"

Okay, must get pliers. Doug is indicating frustration. Then must write check for the Schwann's guy. How much again? "Just a second everybody..."

Well, it all gets done. The Schwann's man gets paid. We get ice cream. The spaghetti meal is served (with no shortage of noodles, quite the contrary really.) Cousin Corbin has a big envelope of comics coming his way. And our trees are now properly saturated...I'm not sure where pliers fit into the picture, but who cares really.

As we sit down to eat, I'm not stressed. I'm more amused, thinking how my family would've reacted to a few "no's." But I didn't have too much time to imagine the scenario...

"Is this Ragu or homemade sauce? It tastes kind of bland."

"Sorry. My time was compromised. I had to say no to onions."

"Oh. That's okay," says my dear hubby. "It will save me a little heartburn."

Aha. My one "no" of the evening at least paid off a little...

Now, on a very different note! From the girl who never says never....Alex took one of her first dress designs (with the help of her grandmother) and brought it to life! Isn't this awesome!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chef Kramerre'

It could be the previews of Julie and Julia. Or the fact I want my family to eat better. Or that I want to expand my horizons. But the truth is I'm just plain sick of eating out. Thus, my quest continues to improve my cooking skills.

So the other day I'm at the check-out line and a Rachel Ray magazine catches my attention. Supposedly there's a killer ribs recipe hiding in between the pages. Now I've never tried to make ribs, but I thought to myself, "why not?"

After thumbing through the pages of Rachel Ray (and let me tell you there's much more to Rachel Ray than cooking!), I find there are many cheeses, spices and flavored vinegars I've never heard of. This is where I start to get hung up. How can I cook if I don't even understand the ingredient list? But I'm not giving up yet. I've written down all of the ingredients for the ribs and the only things I can't find in the store are sweet-smoked paprika (so I buy paprika with the intent of sweet smoking it myself) and honey. I do know what honey is, but heck if I can find it. No worry. We have some bees flying around the house.

I'm thinking the key to cooking is patience. So, every experiment is a pretty darn good exercise for me. I realize that the skill won't be developed over night...take today for example.

...Alex and I decided to bring an Angel Food cake to our family reunion today. This particular recipe (a mix) instructs us to simply add water. No sweat. But something happens and the mix begins to run through the angel food cake pan (inherited from my grandmother). I still don't know what happened, but the mix was kindling a fire in the oven. Because of my quick thinking, I took the mix out and we immediately put the half-cooked batter into muffins tins. Apparently, not only do you need patience, but you need a little ingenuity!

So after putting the muffin tins back in the oven and waiting another twenty minutes, Alex notices that we have forgotten to turn the oven back on. Oh, well...what could that hurt? Again, another test of patience.

Finally, after tiring of the burning angel food cake smell, we retrieve our angel food cupcake experiment from the oven. They are, well, quite interesting. Maybe they will taste okay...

I take a bite. Certainly, it is the crunchiest angel food I've ever had. It really doesn't taste too bad. But rather than face another gathering of people politely look past my dish, I think we'll bring ice cream to the reunion...

I'll keep you posted on how the ribs turn out.