Monday, October 31, 2011

My after dinner snack? Tums.

Tonight is the night mothers everywhere look forward to with dread. Not only do you have to try to keep yourself out of the chocolate, but you have to police your children lest they consume too much and find themselves home from school tomorrow with a belly ache and a bag full of candy.

Which, really, is a never ending cycle of misery for all that plays on repeat for days and days.

Plus, you have to parade your children around the neighborhood, frozen hands shoved in your jacket pockets, and beg the neighbors for yet more candy.

It's my least favorite holiday.

I will be glad once again when it's behind us and I can look forward to the real reason to gorge yourself sick: Thanksgiving.

But my scrooginess won't bring the party down -- we'll celebrate in the usual way: A pumpkin-shaped pizza, chocolate for dessert, and maybe I'll even find the energy to whip up a batch of these.

And, since I'm mean beyond belief, we'll also be taking the oldest boy for an after school appointment to get his braces tightened. Because nothing says I love you more than a Halloween orthodontic visit.

But, today, we wish you a very happy Halloween anyway. From a very cute cowgirl:


And two of the cast members from the television show Psyche.

Can you guess who this one is?


No? A cop with a gun, name tag, and handcuffs doesn't give it away? Combine a surly attitude with this, and maybe you'll have it figured out:


That's right, he's our favorite, Carlton Lassiter. Some of the boys' friends decided to band together and dress up as all the Psyche characters. It was an easy sell. Guns? Handcuffs? Bad attitudes?

Done and done.

Chase was assigned a critical, but lesser known, role. Any guesses?


He's the one cop on the Psyche police force who actually dresses like a cop. (And, yes, he wears shoes. As Chase sometimes does.) Give up?

It's McNabb, whose job is usually to bring in a bag of evidence or stand there looking pretty while holding a gun. Chase is quite thrilled to be him.

Happy Halloween, peeps! Raise your bottle of Tums high tonight!

[And last, but certainly not least, courtesy of our friends at Random dot org, the winner of the Son of a Gun giveaway is Amanda D. Email me your address, sister, and a copy is headed your way.]

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

At least he doesn't inhale

Last night we had our church Trunk-or-Treat party.

Which, as many of you know, is basically just 75 kids running around on a sugar high begging for that which they do not need: more candy.

As I watched my friend Beckie (whose son, Jack, is a diabetic) administer his nightly insulin shot, I asked her if we ought to maybe just give every kid that walked by a little dose with the insulin pen.

She thought it was an excellent idea, and a possible way out of ANY and all future church callings.

Instead, we handed out candy and opted NOT to drug other people's children.

I know. We're boring like that.

Today, as I'm trying to control my the kids' consumption of the candy we brought home, McKay introduced me to a middle school phenomenon known as smoking the smarties.

The theory behind it is that you crush up a tube of smarties until they resemble a fine powder, keeping the wrapper intact. Holding the smarties like a joint between your thumb and pointer finger, you open one end of the cigarette candy wrapper and suck some of the powder into your mouth. You then blow it out in a sugary, billowy smoke that, honestly, resembles something far more grown up and sinister than candy.

He tells me the key is to not inhale the smartie smoke, to just take a little bit in before blowing it out again. And that his new goal in life is to be able to make the smoke come out of his nose.

He also claims, "It's not bad for you. And it won't hurt you one bit."

Where have we heard that before, hmmm?

I am thinking that in 20 years, there will be Anti-Smartie campaigns and DARE to Keep Kids Off Smartie parties at school.

Anyone know of a good smartie cessation program out there? It's probably best to wean him now while he's still young and pliable.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You old Son of a Gun

Whenever I hear people complain about their in-laws, I thank my lucky stars once again for mine. Though I was madly in love with the Husband and could not wait to marry him, I also was madly in love with his family and could not wait to be a part of them. He is one of seven and often jokes that his parents like me better than they like him.

I do not dispute that. I am all kinds of awesome.

But this past year, my mother-in-law was given every writer's dream. She was contacted by her uncle with an idea he had for a western novel. He hired her to write it and breathe life and depth into his characters and story. She worked tirelessly for months to finish the manuscript. On a whim, she submitted it to a publisher, got accepted, and it's been a whirlwind of excitement around here ever since.

In fact, the top of Chase's birthday wish list this year was a copy of Oma's book.

The book is out this month and it's fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and could not put it down. Though Oma kept it pretty clean in the event that any grandkids would one day want to pick it up, there is plenty of adventure for the rest of us: saloons, shoot outs, runaways, ladies of the night, and heroes that save the day. Without giving anything anyway, the ending will leave your jaw gaping.

So, to celebrate her big accomplishment, I am going to give one lucky reader a copy of her book. Leave a comment telling me your favorite author and come Thursday morning, I will randomly pick a winner. If you blog about the book and leave me the link, I will put in two entries for you, doubling your chance to win.

This is a great story - fun for people of all ages. Got a dad or grandpa who likes westerns? Enter and you've got a Christmas present all ready to go.

Hurry quick. Contest ends Thursday morning at 8 a.m. central time. And, yes, I will happily ship internationally.

P.S. Should you not win and want to get the book for yourself anyway, here is where you can find it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

We have nothing to fear does that go again?

The Real Bloody Mary, image via

As I mentioned a few days ago, we are in the middle of The Remodel. Now before any of you hunt off to search for free p0rn, I promise this post will not consist of any before and after photos. I do not intend to give a daily play-by-play of what is happening in my home.

Though I could.

But I'd be the only one left reading this blog inside of two hours, I am sure.

No, this story only relates to The Remodel as it is the reason my children are now sleeping in the basement.

Which, according to them, is evil, dark, spooky, and/or haunted.

It's been a bit of a battle, most especially with Hannah, to get them to willingly fall asleep down there.

You know, in our fully finished, well-lit, not haunted or evil, basement.

Last night, I sat down to watch a little television in the family room in the basement. It was like a moth to the flame - instantly, all three kids were at my side, attempting to snuggle on the couch. They simultaneously all pretended that I was beautiful and began petting me on the head while cooing words of love.

It was like a flash mob of sudden and really weird affection.

Not actually minding that much Being a total pushover, I told them they could have 30 minutes with me, and then it was time for bed. We put on an old Seinfeld re-run and settled in for a few laughs together.

In the middle of the show, a commercial came on. For this movie. When the "Bloody Mary" scene appeared (watch at the 57-second mark, if you're very, very brave) they all three crushed me in a vice grip of fear. I peeled their fingers and bodies off me and told them it was just a stupid commercial for a very stupid movie. I explained who Bloody Mary really was and that it was just a superstitious joke about a terrible Queen in British history.

I even went so far as to say her name three times in the mirror, just to show them the stupidity of it all.

Fortunately, she did not appear. That could have been awkward.

But later that night, I was upstairs getting ready to crawl into bed myself. I heard the sniffles before I saw the feet shuffle in sheepishly. His eyes wide with fear, Chase begged to sleep in my room. Eight seconds later, McKay was at his side making the same request. Before I could weigh a judgement, I looked down to find Hannah tucking herself and five stuffed animals into my bed.

With a sigh, I caved again -- threatening that it would only be this one time. After all, the Husband was out of town and it seemed harmless.

And it was.

Until Bloody Mary appeared and killed us all. Until about 11:30 p.m., when we were all still WIDE awake. And feeling very, very unhappy.

McKay was coughing.
Hannah was yelling at McKay because he was coughing.
I was yelling at Hannah because she was yelling at McKay.
Chase was apologizing for everyone because he was afraid I'd send them back downstairs to their graves.

It was a disaster.

In hindsight, it might have been better if Mary had appeared.

At 11:30 p.m. on a school night, my children would probably have had less to fear from her.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hello Newman...

Remember the old Seinfeld episode with the Bubble Boy?

I kind of feel like I am living it. Only without Jerry, Elaine, and their utter hilarity.

Internets, I am the Bubble Boy.

And it's way less fun than it looked on TV:


The reason for the large bubble is because of the giant hole currently in my family room ceiling.


Never fear - it's all for a good cause. (Otherwise, I'm not sure I could stand the dust.)

We are at the early stages of a massive remodel upstairs. When we bought this home four-and-a-half years ago (has it really been that long? WOW.) it had four bedrooms, a guest bedroom and bath in the basement, and two offices. We quickly converted one of those offices into a bigger family room in the basement.

And by quickly, I mean, the Husband took a sledge hammer and knocked the wall down just minutes after we closed on the house.

We have plenty of room for our family and then some. The bedroom upstairs that we put our boys in also happens to be huge. It's literally as big as the master bedroom. Way too much space for just one kid.

We are of the mindset that if the two boys share a room, ensuring very little privacy, one or more of those boys are less likely to get into any trouble in said room, always fearing that the other could walk in at any moment. It's our hope anyway. So, much to McKay's chagrin, we make them share.

It's worked well for us, doubly so because of the size of their bedroom. This photo doesn't do it justice, as I didn't have a wide enough lens. It's ginormous.


BUT, this has left us with a spare bedroom that has really only been used once -- and that was at Thanksgiving last year when we had three families visiting. It collects dust and, quite frankly, is just one more place for me to vacuum.

With the help of a (very boring and slightly expensive) architect, we drew up plans to make use of that fourth bedroom. We decided to convert half of it into a bathroom for the boys, and the other half into a walk-in closet for Hannah. The current kids bathroom will become Hannah's and will all connect via her bedroom. And the boys' bathroom will now only be accessible through their bedroom.

Eliminating that mad dash in a towel that my children seem to be so fond of.

It's been pretty okay so far - though I say that rather delicately, seeing as how we are only on day two. But our contractor really is fantastic - he has had a crew here from sunup to sundown each day, working like mad. I am extremely impressed thus far. He seems much sharper than our deck guy from last summer. (Did I ever tell you those stories? Remind me. There are some doozies.)

Anyway, take a peek. And enjoy one last look at the classy brass fixtures and faucets. BUH-BYE.


Hannah's room:



The boys' room:


The spare bedroom/new bathroom/new closet:


Chase practicing getting caught unawares in his new shower:


And my favorite moment was the look on Hannah's face when she stepped inside her new closet for the first time. She, clearly, is not at all excited:


I am thrilled, but completely jealous. Her closet might be bigger than mine now.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Je voudrais chocolat viennois...

Internets, I would like you to meet one of my favorite things about Paris:


Chocolat viennois. My sole source of caffeine after my one and only attempt at drinking coca cola light, a.k.a, the horrible French version of diet coke. It was disgusting and not worth drinking. So, tragically, I was forced to move on to bigger and better things.

I had so many of them that it's no wonder the jeans are fitting a whole lot tighter this week. Yikes.

C'est la vie, right?

Other highlights from the trip included:











* The Eiffel Tower both by day and by night. We stayed about a block from the famous landmark and crossed under her massive steel girth many times. She is as magnificent as she looks in the movies. My favorite view was after dark when she had her lights all turned on.

* Unexpectedly catching mass at Notre Dame. Completely amazing in spite of not understanding a word they said. And the cathedral? UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE. So beautiful. So amazing. How did they build such massive perfection without the use of modern tools? Geniuses.

* Walking along the Seine and stopping at little shops.

* The Lock Bridge - you write your name and your lover's name, lock it up on the bridge, and supposedly your love is sealed forever. I was not necessarily excited to pay 15 Euros for a lock, so my love with the Husband remains unsealed. Here's hoping we survive.

* The Louvre. Absolutely fantastic, but way too crowded. My favorite part was eating at Cafe Richlieu which served food from the Angelina's menu. Divine. Especially the dessert.

* Also? Napoleon's dining room is a wee bit fancier than my own. But only slightly. I clearly need to get my gold on.

* Fat Tire Bike Tour through Paris. Amazeballs. Do it if you're ever in a city where they are. Worth. every. penny. Biking on cobblestone streets through the heart of Paris? Nothing like it anywhere else except, well, Paris.

* Fat Tire Bike Tour to Versailles. Slightly scary to put a bike on the subway with 20 other people and their bikes, but so fun. Gorgeous, surreal, and impossibly gaudy. So picturesque to ride around the grounds at Versailles. And definitely a cultural experience to order food at a French farmer's market, as well. Hmm. A food reference again? Are we detecting a theme here?

All in all, it was the trip of a lifetime. I never got tired of Annie, looking at the fabulous architecture, eating all the rich foods, and pretending to understand the language. It was JUST like they tell you it's going to be. It was everything they say and more.

It was magic.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Basking in the glow still











I am back!

Physically, at least. I feel sick to my stomach with the jet lag and wonder at those who willingly go to bed at 5 a.m. and sleep past noon on a regular basis. My body has no idea what time it is, and I have never been so happy to see my own bed.

But in spite all of that, it was so worth it. It was such a fantastic time. My companion on the trip was the lovely Annie, and we made the most of every minute there. She was my ideal travel partner - flexible, happy, and eager to see it all. We laughed, ate, shopped, and soaked it all in.

First up was London. We had fish & chips. We rode a double-decker bus -- both to combat the jet lag and allow us to see the city while sitting down. Definitely a must when you're halfway across the world and trying desperately to stay awake.

We saw Westminster Abby. We saw Kensington Palace. We went to Les Mis, and cried from the opening song to the finale. (Though I am still trying to forgive Alfie Boe for being sick the night of our tickets. Boo.) It was amazing anyway. The understudy was perfection. Such a moving experience.

We snagged some last minute tickets to see Driving Miss Daisy with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones. (FABULOUS play. JEJ completely stole the show. We were close enough that I could see his perfect teeth. Such a great smile.)

My favorite London meal was high tea at The Orangery on the grounds of Kensington. It felt so royal, so British -- sitting on a patio, snacking on our finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, eating our tarts, and sipping our tea - staring at the beautifully manicured grounds and doing it all just yards from Kensington Palace. Many times I wondered aloud if we were really there. It felt like I was living a movie.

Another highlight was The Tower of London. Having read all the Philipa Gregory books and nurturing a slight obsession with all things Henry VIII, it was surreal to stand in the places where they once did. Standing on a tower walkway, looking down and seeing cars, it felt so wrong and out of place with the ancient magnificence of the Tower. Walking through darkened hallways and windy staircases, you almost forgot what century you were living in. It was fantastic. I could have spent days there.

I had a surprisingly teary-eyed moment at Harrods. Walking through the store, feeling awed by the architecture and beauty, I remembered a silly bucket list that I made when I was about 14. Something I haven't thought about for years. On it were several things you couldn't pay me enough to do now (such as skydiving and bungee jumping), but one of the things I wanted to do was buy something at Harrods in London. The naive little 14-year-old me, who had never yet even been out of her home state, dreamed of what it would be like to travel and see the world. I remembered making the list and my determination to do all of the items on there at some point in my life. It was a sweet moment, indeed, to cross that one off the list. A dream come true, as they say, silly though it may seem.

After drying my tears, smiling at my teenage self and proudly thinking, "I did it! Just for you!" we set out to conquer as much of the city as we could. We shopped. We strolled through Hyde Park. We ate at Byron's. We ate at Jamie's. We collapsed into bed exhausted every night.

We made the most of it.

It was just divine. I am slightly heartbroken that it's over, but am so happy to be home and in the arms of my babies.

Stay tuned for highlights from Paris and the brutality of re-entry which somehow always seems to involve a sick kid.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

And I'm off...

I am heading out the door in just under an hour and my stomach is a nervous ball of butterflies. Last night, I had a meltdown of epic proportions. So much to do, so little time. Panic about leaving my babies for 10 days. Worry that I wouldn't get it all cleaned in time for the mother-in-law to come. Anxiety over all the things that could possibly go wrong.

There was crying. All of it ugly.

Today, with suitcases packed and passport in hand, I can hardly believe I'm really doing this. I stare in awe, and wonder whose fabulous life it is I'm really living.

How many men are there that not only say yes, but encourage the taking of trips to faraway lands? Who gladly work, sacrifice, and move heaven and earth to make dreams a reality? I am beyond blessed to have found one who does. He, who knows the toll this past year has taken on me, and encourages me to leave it all behind. He, who knows the healing power of gifts beyond measure.

He had my heart when all he had to give was his love. He gives me his as he makes my dreams come true.

I love him.

I am forever indebted to him for my every happiness.

Thank you, baby, for the trip of a lifetime. Au revoir!