Monday, October 31, 2005

Emma's Shoes

Emma has a funny way of saying things a lot of times. This morning she was quite proud of the fact that she had put her shoes and socks on herself. Instead of saying she put her shoes on the right feet she said, "I put my feet in the right shoes." Cute!

Getting Dressed

Emma is getting dressed by herself now. She is adamant about doing it herself and actually does quite a good job. It's nice for me, all I have to do is lay out her clothes and she takes care of it herself. Two kids down, one to go!

This morning, she ran upstairs to ask me if she had her pants on the right way. (They're leggings, so she wanted to know if the tag was in the back.) When I checked, the pants were on right, but she had no underwear on! She went downstairs to go put her underwear back on, and the next time she came to check if everything was on right, she had a few more mistakes. This time her underwear was on, but she had one leg through the waist, one through the other leghole, and around her waist was the other leghole! Her pants were on the right way (tag in back) but inside out! She was mad at me for making her take it off and put it all on the right way.

It must be nice to know your waist can fit through the leghole of your undies!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Improving Your Vocabulary

Ian learned about dung beetles at school today. He managed to work the word "dung" into our conversations at home at least 45 times tonight. Knowledge IS power!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Busy Weekend

Wow, we had an incredibly busy weekend this past weekend. My parents came in from Ohio on Friday afternoon for a visit. We had dinner with them on Friday night and the kids ran around and played with them a lot. They call them Grandma and Papa and think they are tons of fun! My mom has always been good with kids, but my dad really came into his own after having grandkids. It is such fun to watch him tickle Zoe or play "bridge" with Ian and Emma. Probably my kids favorite thing is to play "monster" or "Eat me" where they tell my parents they are some form of food, and then my parents chase after them saying they are going to eat them. Ian, Emma and Zoe can never get enough of this.

On Saturday Brendan and I left the kids with my parents so we could go out to dinner and then to his sister and brother-in-law's new condo downtown. They just moved in at the end of September and were having a house warming/ first game of the World Series party. Patrick, the brother-in-law, is a huge White Sox fan, and he's converted his wife into a big fan, too. They have a great place. It's a one bedroom one bath condo with a fireplace and a great patio/ deck. Their kitchen is impressive with stainless steal appliances and what looks like marble countertops. The whole place has hardwood floors, except the bedroom, and they have exposed ceiling and ductwork. The roof of the building is very cool. It has four industrial type grills for anyone's use, some stainless steel prep tables, and several benches and tables and chairs for entertaining or dinner al fresco. The bathroom is a really good size, bigger than our full bath in our house. The only part I wasn't impressed with was the bedroom. It had a decent closet, but it was really tiny and had no door. I could live with the size, but the no door part would bug me, I think. It's really a great place.

The party they had was a lot of fun. Patrick and Elizabeth served two kinds of Pumpkin Ale, and I got mine in a glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar. Quite tasty. They have a lot of great friends and family who came out. I have been going to functions with Elizabeth's friends for quite a while now, and they are always so friendly. I'm very comfortable with them, which always makes me look forward to any party Elizabeth and Patrick throw. I like catching up with them and seeing what they are doing. One of her friends even helped get Brendan an interview when he was out of work. They are good people. What I am most amazed about is the different things each of them is doing with their lives. Elizabeth has been friends with a lot of these girls since junior high (maybe earlier) and they are doing incredible things with their lives. Elizabeth is a lawyer. Debbie is a teacher of junior high students, Katie has her masters degree and is an event planner for the city of Naperville, another friend just recently married is now pregnant and due with her first child. It is amazing the variety in their careers, but they are still the best friends. They're very fortunate to have found each other.

After an amazing Sox victory, we headed home late and got into bed. We got up for 9:00 AM mass the next day and after headed out to Sonny Acres for some Fall fun with the kids and my parents. Brendan loves taking the kids to Sonny Acres because his parents took him when he was a kid. There are all kinds of rides like a giant slide, spinning strawberries, kiddie train and truck rides, and pony rides. They have a haunted barn, which Ian thought he wanted to do, but changed his mind at the last minute. Emma loved the giant slide and would have been content to just ride that over and over. It was quite a "mom" moment for me when I asked Emma if she could go by herself, and she said "yes" and then did! She was this little three year old climbing these huge stairs all the way to the top, and then sliding down as fast as possible. She always had a huge smile across her face as she came down. Ian enjoyed the "shooting range" probably the most, while Zoe loved being in the kiddie trucks and driving around and around. After eating a lunch of hamburgers, bratwursts, hot dogs, nachos, Doritos and hot apple cider for the adults, we picked out a pumpkin and went home.

For dinner I tried a new recipe for Stuffed Pork Tenderloin and we celebrated my mom and dad's birthdays. We got my dad a tree limb lopper and my mom these special slippers that she wanted. They both seemed happy with their presents and Ian and Emma were proud of the drawings they made in their cards. They drew a picture of Papa in my dad's card and a picture of Grandma in my mom's card. After dinner we sang happy birthday and had some pumpkin spice cake that I made that afternoon. My parents aren't big cake eaters, but they loved it. We had ice cream with it, which of course the kids loved.

After dinner we settled in to watch the Sox beat the Astros in an awesome game.

My parents left yesterday morning and we are now back into our everyday routine. It was a fun weekend.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Knock Knock Jokes

Emma told me two knock knock jokes this morning. Here they are for your enjoyment.

Joke 1:
Knock Knock

Who's there?


Tissue who?

Wipe it on your nose!

Joke #2:
Knock Knock

Who's there?


Banana who?

Aren't you glad I didn't say toy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Better Than A Gameboy

I gave Ian $5 to spend at his school's book fair yesterday. He picked a good book for his reading level and was very excited about reading it. It was about knights and their fight to be king. He started reading it in school, took it out to read in the van on the way home, and finished reading it while standing in the garage while his sisters played outside. He was very excited about it.

While I was out working bingo last night, he picked it up to read again. This morning after getting ready for school, he took up where he left off last night and again brought it in the van and read it on the way to a doctor's appointment and on the way to school. I made a comment to him that it must be a really good book for him to be reading it twice in two days.

His response was, "I like this book as much as my Gameboy. I like some books even more than my Gameboy."


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bingo Night At OLGC

As a part of our commitment to sending Ian to Our Lady of Good Counsel school, we have to work bingo once a semester. Bingo is every Tuesday, except during Easter or Christmas. It is a great moneymaker for the school, and all of the proceeds from bingo go directly to the school. Without bingo, I don't think many of us could afford to send our kids to a Catholic school.

Bingo brings in an interesting type of person. Many are old, with gray or white hair. The group is predominately female, although you will see a few men here and there. Many are superstitious, at least when it comes to playing bingo.

Tonight I worked bingo with my friend Elizabeth, another mom from school. We try and sign up together to make the night more entertaining. This is our third time working together, and we have a lot of fun. We are constantly amazed at the rituals or good luck charms that many of the players do or have. When you play bingo at our school, you buy a sheet of bingo cards for a certain price. There are 21 games played in all, but you get enough cards for 18 of those games. For the other three games, a mid-bird or "middie" card must be purchased for 50 cents a card. Elizabeth and my first job was to sell the middies before bingo started. (They are called middies because they are played in the middle, after the tenth game and intermission.) Our job was to put the cards into pre-established packs that many people buy. For example, $2 packs of four cards, $3 packs of six cards, $4.50 packs of nine cards, etc. If people wanted a different number, we made that, too, but mainly people pulled from our pre-made stacks. One woman had to have the same color cards (some stacks had orange, some green, some blue) One man wanted 24, all in order from the same stack. Another woman wanted one card, with a certain number in the top right corner, and another certain number in the bottom right corner. She said if she couldn't find it, she'd buy two cards. Elizabeth came through for her and she went away happy with her one card with the right two numbers on it. It was this way most of the night. Weird little rituals and odd utterances.

When the bingo calling actually began, our job changed to floor workers. This entails picking up the used bingo sheets, calling out the bingos to the caller to ensure that they are good bingos, and paying out the money to the bingo winner. It's actually kind of fun, but the players take some getting used to. First, I was asked to go buy a drink for one an get a straw for another. Then, when I was picking up old bingo cards, I almost threw away somebody's middie sheets (they are usually folded over like used cards are). I caught some flack for that. During the game, certain numbers draw sounds from the crowd. Whenever one number was called, two ladies rang a bell. Whenever 74 was called, one woman near the front always shouted out "Big Mama" and if 75 was called, the same woman hollered out "Big Daddy." The regulars were used to it, but a few of the newer players were making comments by the end. When the bingo caller called the numbers too fast, there was a quell of grumbling from the floor. Every third game or so is a special game, often the caller's choice. It was obvious from the first three he called, these were not played often. A lot of questions, a few complaints, and a good amount of grumbling usually ensued after the announcement of one of these special games. I swear the caller called them just to rile the crowd up. He seemed to enjoy it.

By the end of the night, I no longer jumped when the lady called her "Big mamas" or "Big daddys", thinking they were bingos like I did several times early in the night. I was reading the cards like a pro, always going down vertically, starting with the B row and moving to the right (unlike one time when I read the numbers across, causing another player to shout the numbers out for me). I knew that a regular bingo includes a small box (the four spaces diagonally in from the four corners and the free space), and that the telephone pole game can also be called a double T. I enjoyed seeing the different good luck charms like the trolls, lucky daubers, and family photos.

Now Elizabeth and I have plans. We no longer want to just work bingo. We want to come and play bingo and be a part of the joy that is bingo Tuesday. We will bring good luck charms, choose mid-birds in some picky fashion (I want one of every color available), and maybe come up with our own phrase to yell out when B 12 is called. It will be a good time for sure.

Monday, October 17, 2005

It's Hard To Sleep When You've Got A Cold

Zoe has been a good sleeper ever since we brought her home from the hospital. She would never take a pacifier, but once she discovered her thumb, her sleep became amazing. Most nights are great for her. Often, she never even wakes up, and she sleeps later than my other two ever did at this age. I have dreams of sleeping until 7:00 AM (maybe even 7:15) if I could just get Emma to wake up a little later.

Enter the snot monster. The snot monster disrupts everone's life by causing huge amounts of green snot to fly out of Zoe's nose whenever she sneezes. Zoe gets upset and has to have her nose wiped. Ian yells, "Ewww, gross. Mom! Zoe needs her nose wiped." I run to get a tissue and wipe off all the green goo I can see before Zoe starts touching things. It's not pretty.

But the worst thing the snot monster causes (for Zoe at least) is difficulty sleeping. Zoe sucks her thumb when she is going to sleep. Due to her usual good sleeping habits, I assume when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she finds her thumb and that helps her go back to sleep. (I wouldn't actually know, because there is usually no crying, but if there is and it stops before I get up to get her, I don't actually check.) Anyways, with a head full of snot, her thumb sucking sounds more like this: suck, suck, HUH, suck, suck, HUH. The HUH's being where she releases the suction around her thumb so she can actually pull air into her lungs. She can't breathe through her nose, thus sucking her thumb to go to sleep isn't really an option. Now that's where my job as mom and comforter to sick children comes in. I must get up and comfort Zoe, usually two to three times a night. It really cuts into the sleep schedule.

Damn snot monster!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Apple Recipe #2

This is my own recipe. It came about after apple picking last year. I wanted applesauce, but with three kids running around, I didn't want to have to stand over a pot stirring constantly. This recipe is easy and delicious.


16 small to medium sized apples
3 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Peel, core and quarter all apples. Place in a 3-1/2 or 4 quart crock pot. Add water. Sprinkle lemon juice over apples. Put lid on crock pot and turn to low.

After 2 hours, stir apples. After 2 more hours, stir again. The apples should begin falling apart at this point. Leave on low in crock pot for 1-2 more hours until apples have reached desired consistency. Add sugar and cinnamon. Serve warm, refrigerate or freeze leftovers.

Yield: approximately 8 cups

I usually don't count my apples, I just peel and cut until my crock pot is full. I also add sugar 1/4 cup at a time until I am happy with the taste. You may want to add more cinnamon, I like to add it on top of my applesauce when I serve it. You can use whatever apples you want, although firmer apples take longer. I use whatever I have on hand. Yesterday I used a combination of Gala, Jonathon, and McIntosh.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Emma Cracks Me Up

I've made the mistake of calling my youngest daughter Zoe a "Little Miss Grouchy Pants" in times of severe screaming and crabbiness. Emma and Ian have taken this to mean that they can call their baby sister this particular term of endearment. It didn't bother me at first, in fact it was kind of cute. It stopped being cute after Emma commandeered the phrase and began using it 22,000 times a day. After repeatedly asking her to stop calling her sister a "Little Miss Grouchy Pants" wasn't working, I began counting her and threatening a time out. It seemed to be working. But this morning the phrase reared its ugly head again. This is how the conversation went.

Zoe screaming.

Emma - "Oh, you're a Little Miss Grouchy Pants today."

Me - "Emma, quit calling your sister that."

Emma - (in a teasing voice) "Little Miss Grouchy Pants!" (in a loud whiny voice now) "My shirt keeps falling down. Get. Me. My. Clothes."

Me - (to Emma) "You're being a Little Miss Grouchy Pants now."

Emma - (indignantly) "I'm not a Little Miss Grouchy Pants! I don't have pants!" (She was wearing a nightgown at the time.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ballerinas Everywhere

Today was visiting day at Emma's ballet class. All the moms came equipped with cameras and camcorders at their side ready to record every moment of the 30 minutes our "precious little angels" would be spinning, twirling, and leaping. I, of course, was no exception. I had Zoe with one hand and the digital camera with the other hand. I also brought along an extra visitor, my father-in-law, Emma's Grandpa. He was the only man in the room, prompting Miss Candi, the teacher to say, "Wave to your moms and dads." Emma was thrilled he was there, and I appreciated that he took time to come see her.

Watching a class of eight 3 year olds dressed in their pink ballerina finest was truly enjoyable. The class impressed me with what was being taught. Miss Candi used the proper ballet terminology and really worked on the steps and positions, all in a very fun and pre-school friendly way. A few of the girls were off in their own little world, occasionally doing what was asked of them when called by name. I couldn't quite tell if those girls were acting different because Mom and Grandma were there to watch them, or if every class is like that for them. Emma seemed to follow most of the moves and listened pretty well. She occasionally got lost when staring at what other girls were doing, but usually was right on the ball when it came to doing what the teacher asked.

Emma was very proud of herself when class was done. She likes her class a lot, even though she says she can't do all the moves. Even though her grand pliers weren't perfect and her leaps far from graceful, I know I was proud of her. I think her Grandpa was, too.

Monday, October 10, 2005

My Wrists Won't Be Cold This Year

If you are a tall woman, shopping can really suck sometimes. Pretty much all stores carry petites and many carry women's (plus) sizes, but only a few carry tall sizes. It is very frustrating. I always said that the best fashion trend that ever happened for me in the 80's was the peg-legging of pants, because mine were never long enough anyways!

I can generally find jeans and khaki pants without a problem. Lee, Dockers, Gloria Vanderbilt, and several other pants makers make tall pants that are readily available at normal priced retailers like Kohl's and JC Penney's. But finding a store that stocks tall shirts or jackets (that aren't outrageously priced) is like finding the Holy Grail. Yes, I know Eddie Bauer sells pretty much everything it stocks in talls, but only the pants (and usually not the cute stuff like cords, etc.) are stocked in the store. That means I have to look at a catalog or online and guess what size to order, then pay shipping and handling costs, and then if it doesn't fit, return it to the store. I'm still out the shipping and handling, though. It can be especially difficult when buying something that comes in medium or large (they don't make small talls in my experience) because I sometimes wear a medium, but usually a large depending on the type of clothing it is.

I recently realized, while taking inventory of my winter coats worn since high school, that I've had to buy one particular kind of coat if I wanted it to fit me. My letter jacket in high school was a boy's jacket, because that's what all the girls who lettered in sports wore. Then, when I went to college I owned a cute plaid coat that had sleeves that could roll up to show a contrasting color. I of course did not roll them up, that way they covered my wrists like coats are supposed to. My green Liz Claiborne coat that I bought when I moved here to Illinois also had the roll up sleeves. When I bought that I went to Burlington Coat Factory and literally spent two hours trying on coats. I think two fit that whole day. Brendan bought me a great leather jacket for my 30th birthday. The sleeves were too short. When we returned it to exchange it for one that fit, my only choices were between two faux fur lined coats that had, you guessed it, sleeves that turned up to reveal the fur.

Right now I'm looking for an affordable winter coat. I love my leather jacket, but I was looking for something casual like a ski type jacket. No luck! I looked at Eddie Bauer, didn't really like what they had, Land's End, whose prices are reasonable, doesn't sell coats for women in tall sizes. JC Penney's didn't offer any ski jackets in talls, although they had some cute wool jackets for talls. I ended up opting for a red wool pea coat from Penney's that I ordered online during a free shipping offer. Again though, I couldn't compare the colors in the store and see which one I liked better wearing. It is very frustrating, to say the least.

On one final note, I also hate that I have to pay extra for tall clothing. Don't get me wrong, I'll pay it so my clothes fit, but it sucks. First of all, since I'm ordering almost everything, my shipping and handling is more than someone else's because that cost is usually calculated by the cost of the items you are ordering, and my items cost more than a regular size. Basically, I'm getting screwed twice. I've always advocated for equal pricing, but not just because I'm cheap. Seriously, think about it. Do petite women get a break on the price of their items because less fabric and thread are being used? No, they pay the same amount as a regular sized item. But a tall woman, because she is getting two or three inches more fabric, pays more. It's not fair. Either make all the prices the same, or give the petite lady a discount.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Apple Recipe #1

We had planned on going apple picking this weekend. I called the orchard we went to last year, but their picking season is over. Called another local orchard, ditto for them. There was a bad frost late in the Spring that hurt their crop this year. So, I bought some Michigan apples at the grocery store and plan on using them for all my traditional fall apple recipes. I plan on putting up a few apple recipes here in the next few weeks, so if you get a chance try one or two.

Sauteed Apples

1/4 cup butter
4 large tart apples - peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch think
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add apples. Cook stirring constantly, until apples are almost tender, about 6-7 minutes.

Dissolve cornstarch in water; add to skillet. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve warm.

These are delicious!!!!!! They make a great side dish, but they are heavenly on top of pancakes. This recipe makes a lot of syrup, so you don't need that maple syrup. I actually have made this with both Granny Smith apples and Golden Delicious apples, and they are both good. Use whatever you prefer. Try it, you won't be sorry.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Overheard Around The Breakfast Table This Morning

After Emma got dressed in a "new" outfit today (it is a hand-me-down from my sister's girls, but Emma has never worn it before) she asked, "Ian, can you look at me?"

Ian responded, "You look like you're ready to go to the little junior block party."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I Did My Part

Today you can go out to eat and the proceeds will go to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Go to the Dine For America website and find a participating restaurant near you.

I took the girls to Caribou Coffee and enjoyed an iced Mint Condition, while they each had an apple juice. After shopping at Kohl's next door, we decided to take a break and since Caribou was a part of the Dine For America campaign, it made a good excuse for me to stop and get a drink. I have never been to a Caribou before, but I must say I am very impressed. The servers were friendly and the place was very clean and bright. I took my time navigating the new menu and ordered a delicious coffee drink. Towards the back of the store was a chalkboard stocked with chalk, small table and chairs, and two stuffed bears that the kids could play on. They even had a few highchairs available for use. Emma had a great time climbing on the bears and told me she was going to ride on one to McDonald's. Zoe enjoyed sorting the chalk from one cup to the other at the little table. It was really nice.

Now, I haven't been to a lot of Starbucks, but I have never seen one with things geared towards children. With so many Starbucks being located in suburban areas, and serving lots of suburban moms, you'd think they would cater more to them. Unfortunately Caribou is not located in a grocery store where I get a free drink after buying seven drinks like Starbucks is, or near me like the other Starbucks in my area is. Caribou's prices are competitive and the drinks are great. I doubt I will drink there often however, because the convenience factor just isn't there.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Zoe Can Hear

I took Zoe, my 18 month old daughter, to have her hearing tested today. Her pediatrician reccommended having her hearing tested after listening to my concerns that she had a small spoken vocabulary and was not saying several of the hard consonant sounds that are often the first sounds a baby makes. I wasn't really convinced Zoe had a hearing problem, and neither was my pediatrician. But, she wanted to rule it out, and frankly, so did I.

So, off to the Dreyer Mercy Medical Campus we went this morning to see if Zoe's ears are hearing everything they are supposed to be. We met the doctor, a nice woman who immediately made me feel at ease. She said to test Zoe's hearing, Zoe and I would go into a boxlike room and sit down in a chair, with Zoe on my lap facing the window where we could see the doctor and she could see us. Then, she would play sounds in the room and she would watch to see if Zoe turned her head towards the sound. It was interesting sitting there with Zoe on my lap hoping she would turn her head each time I heard a sound. The first few times she did exactly what she was supposed to do. Then, she got used to the sound being made by the doctor and seemed to ignore it. The doctor switched her sound by calling Zoe's name and she immediately looked around. She had several more successes and then some very low tones started. She seemed to hear the tones some of the time, but not everytime. My heart just sank as I thought that she wasn't hearing everything she should. Sometimes she turned her head the wrong way, looking for a bunny that lit up and flashed when Zoe would turn her head towards the correct sound. Then I knew that at least she heard the sounds.

When the doctor opened the door to the box, she said Zoe did very well. Zoe is hearing voices right in the normal range for children her age, and she is just below normal for hearing tones for children her age. So, everything is fine.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Fall Recipe

This is a great recipe, simple and delicious. If you haven't had hard shell squash before, this is a great recipe to try it with.

Acorn Squash

1 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 tablespoon butter
2 - 3 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Turn acorn squash upside down onto a cookie sheet. Bake in oven until it begins to soften, approximately 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove squash from the oven and turn onto a plate so that hte flesh is facing upwards. Place butter and brown sugar into the squash, and place remaining squash over the other piece. Place squash in a baking dish (so the squash won't slide around too much) while baking.

Place squash back in oven and bake another 30 minutes.