Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jumping in to the Big Bloggy Giveaway! Yay! Free Stuff!

Okay everybody - there is a huge Blog Carnival going on and if you want to win a buttload of awesome prizes, go on and waste some work time pour through all of the great prizes you can win this week.

Here is where you go. But wait! You can win something here, too! Today through Friday if you leave a comment at this post, you will have a chance to win....

1. Two winners will each win skin care products from the Wrinklerexic Suggests files, guaranteed to lift your spirits and maybe even your skin! See, I told you if you left a comment your skin would be taut and poreless! I'll be putting over $50.00 worth of skin care in this adorable bag here:

Brought to you by the good people at Payless Shoes, who will be mailing the bag to each winner. If you want your own, you can always head over to Payless Shoes and get one with a $25.00 purchase for only an additional $5.00...or you can enter and get it here! With lotions and pretty girly stuff to put inside!

Have fun! Good luck!

*****Edited to add: Ten readers who don't win will still get a consolation card from Get in the Car! to include a sample pack of Muddy H2O's fabulous chocolate face mask....visit their site for retail locations where you can buy their organic, luscious products - totally used and approved by yours truly.*****

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How Long Before You're Driven the the Brink?

What's the longest distance you've ever driven with your family? How did you while about the hours/days and arrive at your destination in one piece?

As a former Air Force family, we are used to the punishing drive. When Jacob was four weeks old we took a leisurely drive from Oregon to Georgia so that Bob could report to his new job at Robins Air Force Base. Our girls were entertained with movies and frequent stops and stays along the way and only bickered once or twice an hour, as compared with the every 14 seconds rate they currently have going. Jacob was in the barracuda stages of nursing, so each state we visited was punctuated for me based on where my nipples were. North Dakota will always have a special place in my heart, because that was the first time I nursed Jacob without needing to clench my jaw in pain and pray to the mother of Jesus for the kid to never get teeth.

On a particularly long, arid stretch through Montana Chloe had to go the the bathroom. Why I haven't just invented the traveling catheter for children is beyond me, but even with our strict limitation of beverages while traveling, the children always have to potty eventually. But when you're in the middle of Montana, there may be 6,243 miles before the next rest stop, unless you count the pasture filled with bison. When we finally found an exit with facilities, we found ourselves parking next to hundreds of Harleys in front of a bar that said "No Minors and no Assholes Allowed." Jen's traveling tip # 7: When you're the whitest family in America, and you think it's fun to travel in matching Old Navy patriotic t-shirts - don't expect to walk into a biker bar without rendering the entire place silent. As it happens, we had pulled off to the only place with facilities, and it was also knee-deep in the Annual Testicle Festival.

I also remember Kentucky as the first state where I ever ate catfish and the first state where I lost my Cracker Barrel virginity. I had never even heard of Cracker Barrel, and then just like that I was loving gravy and Old Yankee candles.

So you how about you, mom reader? What's the longest road trip you've taken? Any tips that don't involve alcohol? (those can just be emailed to me, k?)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dirty Talk: Now With Extra Cupholders

For years I was one of those women who proudly (and loudly) stated that she would never in a million years own a minivan.
A minivan? Horrors! As a younger mom whenever I thought of the offending vehicle, I pictured this:

I held on to my little Saab until Jacob was born, at which point I succumbed to the inevitable lineup of SUVs...until Al Gore came along and guilted me into squeezing me and my four kids into an ancient Volvo sedan.

Let me tell you - when you have more than two kids, you need that extra row. I have no buffer row and now when Jack is mad (read: always) and throws his sippy cup/ball/hot wheels car it hits my head. While driving. This is not fun, and has forced me to daydream a little more than is considered healthy about running away to that shrimp shack I keep threatening to open.

So last night, when Bob was making the moves, he knew exactly how to seduce me. He mentioned this:

Then he whispered that he wanted me inside of this:

And just like that, I was his.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The View From Here

I cannot bring myself to watch The View. The combination of Whoopi's superior air, Elisabeth's whiny Republican blather, Babwa's speech impediment, and Sherri's diarrhea of the mouth ("I've had too many abortions to count") don't compel me to tune in to the funny musings of Joy Behar (I've always loved her as a comic). Can't. Pull. The. Trigger.

Of course I do catch snippets of The View when they make the news. Who hasn't seen angry pinch-mouthed Rosie and Elisabeth go for each other's throats? And recently? The whole 'N' word furor? Oy.

I'm such a WASP that I should have a stinger coming out of my butt, and even I can see where Whoopi and Sherri were coming from when they said blacks and whites live in separate worlds still, and that blacks can use the word if they want to take it back from the white man's original intent. Elisabeth nearly burst a pipe sobbing that we do all live in the same world and that gosh darn it why is it so necessary to say such a horrible yucky word? Whyyyyyy? Whaaaa.

A few years ago I wrote and sold my first piece to a feminist magazine called Bitch. Whooo boy did the inlaws have a hard time understanding that one. Why on earth would I read, much less write for a magazine that had such a naughty word printed in such large, bold font on its cover? I did the same thing then that Whoopi tried to do with Ms. Republican Convention - I told her bitch was a word that feminists wanted to take BACK from the misogynist vernacular. In other words, if my best friend wants to affectionately/jokingly call me a bitch - who the hell cares. If some man, on the other hand, calls me a bitch I'm going to be integrating his balls into a Rachel Ray 30 minute meal.

So Whoopi, Sherri - y'all irritate the coffee right out of my bowels - but I totally get what you're saying. Elisabeth just needs to go needlepoint a John McCain pillow and make sure her highlights are extra blonde for the upcoming election coverage.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Try and Find the Guest Blog

Hi all. Today I guest blogged for a friend. Due to its content, I won't be linking over to her blog, but if you're interested, and you know who Sunshine is, go on over and have a read.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And There's Also No Santa. Or Tooth Fairy.

Jack was in the backseat of the car watching an old Sesame Street movie, the one where Big Bird gets lost. It was either that or his non-stop incessant shrieking that would render the nearest canine deaf until we got home from the doctor's office. Maddie, agahst that Sesame Street has been around since I was a kid, quizzed me non-stop on which characters I liked. Finally, she got around to Big Bird.

"Did you like Big Bird?"

"No, I told you. I pretty much only liked Grover and Kermit. The journalist and the smart nerd - you can't go wrong."

"What about Big Bird's friend? That elephant?"

"You mean Snuffleuppagus," called Chloe from the backseat.

Under my breath I muttered, "You mean Big Bird's lover." Oops. I may have said that aloud.

I turned, horrified, to see that Maddie had heard me. And worse, she burst into loud guffaws of laughter.

I hate it when I have to back pedal before noon.

"Mom! Big Bird wasn't gay!"

"There's nothing wrong with that. We have no idea what Big Bird's sexual orientation is. And for the record, that's not why he bugs me. He's an arrogant bird who barely hides his contempt for slow learners. Haven't you heard the way he talks down to Baby Bear?"

Just another good wholesome conversation while stuck in construction traffic.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Good Summer Chicken Salad

Shred the chicken from one roasted chicken (I grab a pre-cooked one at the deli to save time and keep my kitchen cool)

Dice one avocado

Blanch one (or two if you wish) ear white corn, cut kernels off.

Chop one quarter to one half of a red onion

Chop a generous handful of cilantro

Cut a pint of grape tomatoes in half

In bowl, whisk together the juice of a large lime, two tablespoons olive oil, and a half capful-ish of Chipotle chile powder

Mix all ingredients, drizzle chipotle dressing and stir. Serve over crushed tortilla chips (I like the lime ones) and have a cold margarita ready.

Enjoy! This takes no time at all if you buy the chicken and it feeds a crowd. If you want more heat, dice a jalapeno in there - yum!

Monday, July 21, 2008

You Say Anal, I Say Just Cut Me Some Slack

I've been squeezing in some half days at work this summer in addition to my weekend schedule and it's been nice to have the extra adult time and income. We've basically cancelled most of our pre-existing plans for the summer so we can be close to home and available to travel to see Bob's brother, and working is something I can do to help offset some of the travel expenses. There are a lot of upsides to this arrangement, and my girls have benefitted from this, too.

While I'm at work, they have jobs at home, work to complete (the dreaded summer curriculum I come up with as I panic that their brains are leaking out of their heads with each episode of Hannah Montana they watch while consuming god knows how much food coloring and preservatives), and babysitting of their younger brothers to help with. Of course I pay them, and the big reward is an airplane trip out to stay with cousins in Minnesota next month.

My girlfriend, Kristi, came by the house a couple of days ago to drop off the hamster we will be trying not to kill babysitting for the next two weeks. I wasn't home, and Bob had already come home and taken the kids. So it was natural, when she saw the typed letter on the counter addressed to my husband, that she would read it. And then later mock me. And then mock my husband. What else is a good friend going to do with the following?


Please leave the house no later than 3:30 for the club. The girls have swim team in the outdoor pool from 4:00 – 5:30 and Jacob has swim lessons in the indoor pool from 4:30 to 5:00.

I have packed a brown bag with a protein snack for the kids at the pool. Each child can have half a piece of cheese toast and some apple. If you want to let them buy something additional after they have eaten the healthy snack, feel free. DO NOT FORGET TO PUT THE SNACK SACK IN THE POOL BAG. It is in the ‘fridge labeled “pool snack.”

When you get home Jack needs to wake up, pronto. The kids should have their summer bridgework looked over for quality and completion. Maddie should have completed six pages in her book (two for each subject tab), Chloe should have done her three pages plus instructed Jacob on his short “u” page, the money page, the letter “g” sound and the work page covering relative size.

Maddie should have started reading her book for her oral book report next week. She should show you the book and tell you how many pages she read.

I will come home with dinner, movies, and a treat. The movies and treat are contingent upon successful completion of their jobs and NO BICKERING, HARM or FOUL PLAY. You should call me at work immediately if they did this, and in that case I will only bring home dinner.

There is a cold soda in the snack bag for you to drink at the pool – we are short on food and I will pick groceries up before I come home.

LASTLY: THERE IS NO MORE SUNSCREEN. Please buy some at the store before the girls get in the outdoor pool – they will burn up (as will Jack) if they are not protected.

Thank you.

Your wife,


Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Good Read

I just read the best post today over at my pal Rima's place. If anything, the title alone will grab you. As for me, today I've got nothing. I feel like a lot of things are coming to a head and catching up with me and I need to just be as quiet as I can today. Just be. Always a challenge with four "bored" children home. Enjoy the read (and her blog if you haven't ventured over there before).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just a Typical Morning

8 AM: Rise to smell of coffee, wonder why I am so fatigued. Remember that daughter #2 woke in the middle of the night and threw up grilled shrimp on the guest bathroom rug.

9 AM: After two loads of laundry, a to-do list, and three phone calls are made, change enormous poop on two year-old while on telephone with friend. Agree to babysit her daughter for the afternoon.

9:30 AM: Smell paint - wonder why this is so, since the bedroom I am painting is closed off to children. Investigate, and find a dozen or so toddler-sized footprints of tan latex paint on wood floor leading to bedroom. Clean paint off of toddler. Field more phone calls.

10 AM: Friend's daughter steps on needle in office. Remove needle, dry tears, and bandage foot while shielding child from ball-throwing antics of two year-old.

10:30 AM: Sit older children down to do summer bridgework activities. Try and explain gerund phrases to thirteen year-old while six year-old picks nose and forces me to wonder if he will ever read or if we should push sports more aggressively.

11 AM: Second glass breakage of the day. Didn't feel like washing toddler's plastic Sesame Street cup and paid for it after he threw cute Cost Plus World Market glass tumbler at the wall.

11:30 AM: Feed the kids an early lunch and explain the necessity of quiet time before swim lessons. Friend's child, an only child, has perpetual look of shock on her face and you wonder what she says about your house when she talks to her mom. Make lame joke about how calm your house is, so much so that Buddhist monks come to your kitchen to meditate. Child just looks more stunned.

11:59 AM: Place call to husband and remind him that the children will be home alone tomorrow since I plan on going to work. Do not laugh when he jokes that I am escaping children through part-time work.

Fantasize about draining checking account and running away to the tropics and opening a shrimp shack on the beach. Decide I am too tired to drive to the bank, and the children are another day with an intact family.

Monday, July 14, 2008

When Breeders Meet

Although the following could be a camp photo, or classroom picture - it's not. It's simply my family and my girlfriend's family (minus us and the men) getting together before the Fourth of July Parade. Her uterus wins top prize for overtime, although you should all know my sickness and know that pictures like this make my ovaries twitch as in just one more? But my brain tries to shut them down with a simple for the love of god no, please no - you'll be the death of me, woman.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Brother in Law on His Way Home Today

Today my husband is flying in a private plane, owned by a friend of his brother's, to accompany his brother home.

He is being taken directly to the hospital for potentially months of physical therapy, but we are so excited for him to be home, to see his boys, and get better in a familiar environment. Thanks to all of you who sent your well-wishes, prayers, emails of encouragement, and calls - every single one has been appreciated.

Everyone's lives involved may be vastly different from here on out, but in some ways already better - it's amazing how life's priorities can be made stunningly clear in just a single moment.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Good Wholesome Fun or Lord of the Flies? You Decide

My girls have been conducting a "camp" this week for my friends' kids. It's a way to help out a girlfriend who is strapped for childcare this week and allow another one some time to get errands done without the extra fun of dragging unwilling children along. The camp members have a rigorous schedule that includes play practice, dance class, jewelry making, and - uh, marching and running laps around the yard. No harm no foul, right? It wears them out for the moms. And, they hire cheaply.

I did have to draw the line at the slip-n-slide being placed on the treehouse slide. I know, no head wound trauma at my house if we can help it. I'm such a spoil sport.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Teenagers: Can't Live With them, Can't Use them as BioFuel

For my 300th post I thought I should post something short, sweet and snarky. I also forgot to mention that you can all now reach my site by typing in - soon I will have the entire blog over there, and be entirely free of blogger once and for all. Free, I say! But for now it's a lot less cumbersome to type and certainly easier to remember...and for those of you using readers, if you wouldn't mind adjusting your browsers sometime I would greatly appreciate it.

Last night The Teenager had a friend stay for dinner. In the past year The Teenager has gone from a drooling carnivore to an animal hugging vegetarian. Coincidentally, many of her friends are also vegetarians. I get it, I do. She's trying on one of sure to be many personas in her efforts to find herself. I also get that karma is a total whore because I did this to my own mother and forced her to create tofu dishes for me at holiday dinners. Because we all know how easy it is to create a Thanksgiving feast, why not whip up a Thai peanut tofu noodle dish, as well?

For the five-sixths of the family who still consume the evil flesh, I had cooked a jambalaya with turkey sausage. On the side I had a spinach salad and fresh sliced nectarines. A cold pitcher of iced tea also sat sweating on the kitchen table. It was a simple summer meal, but one that made me happy to prepare in light of all the hospital cafeteria food we've eaten recently. Before I added the turkey sausage, I carefully made a veggie jambalaya with black beans and chick peas and topped it with grated cheese. I called everyone in to eat and told them to hurry up - we planned on catching a family swim before bedtime. The Teenager and her friend, Surly Political Teen, came into the kitchen and sniffed the air like a couple of knobby-kneed Meerkats.

"Um, is that meat I smell?" Grumbled The Teenager.

"Yes, it is a deceased turkey that is flavoring our rice. I have a vegetarian dish on the table for you and Surly Political Teen. Now wash up."

Surly Political Teen rolled her eyes with my daughter and tapped her fingers disdainfully on the bowl of our carniverous fare. "You're the only one in your family who is a vegetarian?" My daughter nodded her painful assent, acknowledging her lone status as the only sane and good member of the family. Surly Political teen looked at me. "You know, Kentucky Fried Chicken tortures their animals before cooking them."

"Well, honey, this is turkey. I just slapped it around a little before frying it."

Five years to college and counting.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Everyone Was a Baby Once

The following is a reprint from a guest post I did this weekend for Anna over at Hank and Willie.

These past ten days have been surreal for my family. In the midst of the regular summer crazies the most unexpected tragedy befell my brother-in-law. This post won't be about what happened, although I can tell you he is alive and with a spirit intact and filled with generosity, love and gratitude.

No, this post is about the child in all of us. And it came about in the most unexpected way. Today I worked at the hospital (I've been MIA since the PTA Convention and then with my brother-in-law). Late this afternoon I walked onto one of the ICU floors to get some paperwork filled out by a patient. The first thing I noticed was the grim-faced police officer sitting outside of his room, clacking away on a small official looking laptop. I did a double take on the patient's chart - oh. Meth overdose. No wonder.

I felt myself harden inside as I judged this young man for his foolish choice before even crossing the threshold to his room. I'm a mom. I protect my own children from this kind of trash. I stepped in and took a good look. He was only twenty-four, but nearly unrecognizable as a young man. His skin was pocked and eaten away by Meth sores, and he had white streaks slashed across his cheeks where the acidic vomit ( imagine what your body would do if you regularly consumed Meth) had left its angry mark on his ravaged skin. I asked his nurse if I could talk with him and she shrugged her shoulders and looked at him with contempt.

"He's sleeping it off. Wake him up."

I understood why she felt this way - all the sick people needing care and this delinquent eats poison and gets some of the best care in the state. Her attitude may have been wrong by medical ethics standards, but I can understand.

"Mr. Meth Head?" [not his real name] "I need you to wake up so that I can speak with you."He slowly opened his swollen, bruised lids. He was obviously confused as to where he was, and for a brief moment, his vulnerability shone through him like a beam of light. Almost instantly, and very unexpectedly, I felt overwhelmed with compassion. What kind of life led him to this path? What was he numbing inside of him with drugs? Maybe nothing. Maybe he was just a junkie who had been given every opportunity and screwed it up anyway. Or maybe he had an unspeakably painful past.

I put my hand on his arm. "This won't take long. I know you're feeling sick and I'll be quick." I looked down and saw that his hand was handcuffed to the bed rail.

After I finished up, I turned to leave and I heard him croak out to me, "Has anyone told you you're beautiful today?" I quickly smiled and left. The cop gave me a grin and joked that I had a date as soon as he got out of jail.Later, when I got home today and hugged my children hello, my six year-old son brushed past me and then turned, almost as an afterthought. He looked up at me with clear, blue eyes. He drives me crazy with the longest eyelashes you can imagine - they nearly rest on his perfect pink cheek and I joke that it's a tragic waste on a boy. "Mama? You look beautiful today."

I felt my knees nearly buckle as I bent down to give him a squeeze. I will do my best by him, but no one knows where he'll be in twenty years. I whispered into his soft ear, "Thank you, baby. You're beautiful, too."

I'll bet that young man handcuffed to the bed was once a beautiful boy, too.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Today I am so grateful.

I am grateful that plumber shots of my two year-old never get old.

I am grateful for badly taken pictures of lazy cats.

I am grateful for a teenager who still calls me Mama and lets me hold her hand sometimes.

I am grateful that a rescue kitten made my daughter happier on her birthday than an iPod could have.

I am grateful for six year old-boys who turn around in their chairs and pretend to be embarrased when I cry at kindergarten graduation.

I am grateful for a stolen moment together at a pool with my entire family.

Thank you, universe.