Friday, September 30, 2005

Funny Things My Kids Say

These are a few of the funny things that have come out of my kids' mouths lately.

Emma was playing with her Princess Leappad book (a talking book). She touched Snow White with the pen prompting Snow White to ask, "What's your name?"
Emma aswered, "Emma."
Snow White responded, "Oh, that's a pretty name."
And Emma said, "Yes it is."

While watching the beginning of the movie Sleeping Beauty, where the princess is just a baby, Emma blurted out, "I'm not seeing enough Sleeping Beauty!"

While driving Brendan to the train station today (with all three kids in tow), we passed a vehicle with a magnetic ribbon I had never seen before. It looked spotted, but turned out to be camouflage. I asked Brendan what it said. He answered, "Support Our Troops." Ian, in the back seat heard this, but comprehended it a little differently. His take? "What are Supporter Troops? Are they like Clone Troopers?"

Emma, upon returning from taking Ian from school, took off her own shoes. She then declared, "I want my socks on today because I'm a big girl."

Zoe walked in on Ian after he had used the bathroom, but before he had a chance to pull up his pants. She noticed his penis and pointed to it. Ian tells her loudly, "Don't touch it! Don't touch it! It's my secret weapon for peeing."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Warm Drinks

Now that the cooler weather of Autumn has arrived, I am beginning to enjoy all the warm drinks that come along with it. Few things warm me better than a hot tea or coffee on a chilly morning or afternoon. I was thinking of all the yummy drinks I like to have and thought I'd share them. Give one or two a try, maybe you'll find a new favorite.

Hot Drinks To Enjoy On A Cold Day

Hot Chocolate - my current preference is Nestle Mini Marshmallows with Rich Chocolate Flavor
Chai Tea - I LOVE Stash Premium double spice chai black tea - add some milk and a spoonful of sugar, delicious! (or go to Starbucks and get a chai latte)
Mocha - Nonfat from Starbucks
Pumpkin Spice Latte - nonfat from Starbucks - this is my current favorite - so good
Apple Cider - the only way to drink cider is to drink it hot
Instant French Vanilla Cappuccino - I buy Great Value brand from Wal-Mart - especially good when made with half hot water and half milk
Almond Rocha Mocha - I got this at Arabica in Cleveland when I visited this summer. I can't get it here, but if you are in Cleveland, give it a try, it is delicious.

Hope some of these suggestions warm you up!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Alka-Seltzer Can't Help Me With This One

What a morning! The girls and I ran to Wal-Mart this morning because I had a list a mile long of household items that I needed to buy. First though, we had to stop at our doctor's office to show them our new insurance card, which we've had since August, and have been covered under since July. I have been with one kid or another to the doctor's office several times and know that I gave them the insurance card to copy. But of course, they didn't have said copy and have been billing Fortis insurance, who we had for about three months when Brendan was out of a job this summer. Needless to say, Fortis isn't paying a penny, hence my visit to provide up to date information. When I asked if they would re-bill the "new" insurance company for all the services they billed Fortis, the receptionist said they would once it was in the system. She then proceeded to tell me that they don't know when peoples' insurance changes, and we have to let them know this. I smiled nicely while telling Emma to wait one more minute before I could take her to the bathroom and informing the receptionist that I had given them the card to copy back at the beginning of August.

Anyways, with that out of the way we headed over to Wal-Mart. Emma and Zoe were quite well-behaved. I wasn't frazzled or worn out when we got to the check-out counter. And with the exception of Zoe crying after Emma showed her the bag of oatmeal cookies we were purchasing (she wanted one, but I said "no") it was a really nice trip.

Then we went to check out. I was in a fairly quickly moving lane, the checker seemed friendly, and Emma was chirping on about how much she loves Spaghettios as she placed the cans on the conveyor belt for me. I had at least half of my cart unloaded and the checker had started to ring up my items when I noticed my wallet was missing. I knew I had it because I had gotten my insurance card out of it at the doctor's office. I told the lady checking me out and she said to go look for it in my van, and if it wasn't there to go to customer service. I was getting a little agitated at this point, I don't handle stress particularly well. I grabbed the girls, the diaper bag, and their two stuffed animals and went out to the van. Not there. I went in and checked at the Service Desk. Not there. I didn't cry, but I had tears in my eyes and my voice was all shaky. As I was looking into any place my wallet might have been, the checker lady was putting all of my items back in my cart. (It took me 1 1/2 hours to get all that stuff.)

I left my information at the Service Desk and decided I would go back to the doctor's office to see if I had left it there. Before I left the store, though, I decided to look around in the aisles I had been in. I walked with the girls, looking in the different departments. Emma was a great source of support. "Maybe we'll find it here. Oh, I hope we do." I, on the other hand was the voice of gloom and doom. "I hope we find it too, but I don't think we will." We looked in five or six different places when we came to the sewing notions aisle. I had put a spool of black thread in my cart and thought maybe I lost my wallet here. I started down the aisle when I spied it! There it was! My green wallet was on the floor at the other end of the sewing aisle! I was thrilled! Emma was, too! Everything was still there and I wouldn't have to cancel all my credit cards after all.

On top of the good fortune of finding my wallet, my cart was still in the checkout lane, fully packed but just pulled over to the side. After informing the people at the Service Desk and my checkout lady, I piled all the items back onto the conveyor belt and checked out. What a relief!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I'm sorry I did not post a recipe last week. I was planning on posting this muffin recipe on Saturday, but Brendan was painting our bedroom, and that is where the computer is located. Needless to say I didn't feel like inhaling paint fumes all evening while posting the recipe. I will post two this week to make up for not posting one last week.

I made these muffins last week and they are always a hit. My kids and husband love them. Simple, sweet, and tasty.

Brown Sugar Muffins

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Cream shortening and brown sugar. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture until just combined. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes befoer removing from pan to wire rack.

Yield: 1 dozen

This recipe did not originally call for the cinnamon or cardamom. I think the muffins really benefit by adding these spices. Try it both ways and see which you prefer. If you don't have cardamom, just substitute more cinnamon. Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Princess

Emma is obsessed with anything princess. She's only three, but it has become a large part of her imaginary playtime. For her birthday this year (in August) my mom got her a gorgeous Cinderella dress with matching "glass" slippers. Emma was in heaven.

Fast forward to two mornings ago. As I pulled back the shower curtain to get my towel and dry off, Zoe is standing in the bathroom holding the Cinderella dress. As soon as she sees me she starts shoving the dress into my hands. She wants to put the dress on and she wants me to help. I manage to fend her off until at least I can get my bra and underpants on. (My kids see me like this all the time, not by my choice, but it's what happens when you have kids.) I get her into my bedroom and help her put the big blue dress on over her clothes. She is simply delighted. She heads into the hallway at which time I immediately run for the camera and snap some photos.

Brendan, I think we may have two princesses on our hands!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I Hate When I Say Stupid Stuff

The girls and I picked up Ian after school today and headed out on a 45 minute car ride to Minooka, IL. Our good friends and former neighbors moved out there in August after building a nice new house. They have two kids, Keara, six years old, and Collin, four and a half years. Another former neighbor and friend came with her two kids, Blake (4 1/2) and Mykenna (6 months), for a visit as well. So, when I arrived with my three, there were seven kids in all running around the house and screaming for no apparent reason. The kids get along well, so usually us moms sit in the family room and talk. Zoe and Mykenna hang close by, but we don't see the other five unless someone isn' t sharing or taking turns.

Everything was going great, until dinner. Laura (Keara and Collin's mom and new homeowner) was gracious enough to make us all dinner. The adults had sloppy joes and french fries while the kids ate chicken nuggets and french fries. Laura had popcorn chicken nuggets, which my kids had never had. But, I figured they'd try them because that's what was being served. Well, Blake's mom asked Laura if she had regular nuggets. Blake is a notoriously fussy eater. His eating habits make my children look like gourmands. But, he is 4 1/2, and sometimes kids need to do what the house is doing. It turned out Laura had regular nuggets, so she asked me what my kids would want. I was torn. I wanted my kids to have what Laura wanted to make, but I knew, especially with Emma, that if another kid had regular nuggets, she would want regular nuggets. Laura made both kinds, but I couldn't help but feel she got backed into it. When it came time to feed the kids, Blake's mom cut up his nuggets into pieces like she has always done. She then was going to cut up Zoe's when I told her to stop, probably a little too forcefully. She laughed because she thought I made it seem like the end of the world. Zoe eats her nuggets whole. She's 18 months old and can bite and chew for herself. Usually this wouldn't bother me, but for some reason it was rubbing me the wrong way tonight that this 4 1/2 year old child won't eat nuggets unless they're cut up. Anyways, I let it go, or so I thought, until the drinks were poured and served. Laura's kids and my kids were only going to have milk or water for dinner. Blake got a half a can of Mountain Dew with his dinner! Ian and Keara said that they wanted pop, but Laura and I said, "No." Consequently Ian asked, "Why does Blake get pop then?" Blake's mom said it was because he didn't drink milk. So Ian asked why Blake didn't drink water instead. His mom's reply was that "he should." HE SHOULD.

"Well, if you would make him, he would."

That's what I said under my breath. I said it under my breath, but out loud. So now I don't know if Blake's mom heard this. I feel like a complete idiot. If she didn't hear me, and I apologize, then she will be hurt by my comment when I apologize. If she did hear me, then I definitely need to apologize. I know I should apologize either way, but it seems that if she didn't hear me, then telling her would be bad. I hate when I do stuff like this. There's no reason for it. On the ride home I tried to rationalize it away, but it really isn't possible. I screwed up.

Mom's and friends need our support. What I did was just plain mean. I don't think support means agreeing with everything a person does or saying what they are doing is okay when you don't believe it is. But, if you have something to say, it should be said in an open and nonconfrontational manner. If I have problems with the way this mom is raising her kids, then I should tell her that, but not in a sarcastic and nasty way. The problem is I am very nonconfrontational. There are only a few people that I am completely honest with. I would almost rather avoid a person than tell them something I think will upset them. But, I think that real support is listening, understanding another's point of view, then offering your advice and opinions if they ask for it.

What I did tonight was both hurtful and obnoxious. It was passive aggressive and uncalled for. I will use this moment to remind myself how I would like te be treated. And then treat others better.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A New Responsibility

So, now that my kids are self sufficient (or at least the husband can feed them and put them to bed without me), I've decided to get more involved with Ian's school. I went to the first Home and School meeting (PTA) and discovered that the only people who go to these meetings are people on the "board" (although anyone is welcome to come). They had three positions still unfilled, and I listened as they described each job. I didn't commit to anything that night, but thought about it and decided I could handle the Room Parent Coordinator job. It seemed like the least involved, and something relatively easy to get my feet wet in the world of volunteering for the school. Also, the job had already been well started by the current Room Parent Coordinator, Ann, because she volunteered for the job last year. The only reason she couldn't continue with it is that her husband got transferred to Texas and they are moving at the end of September.

Now, I am a very hard worker if given work to do and will volunteer to help out in any way I can for many things. I am not, however, a great organizer. I want to be. I want to be organized so badly, but I never seem to get there. I'll make progress in one part of my life, only to have another part of my life be stacked and cluttered on my dresser. That was another reason I wanted an easy job to head up. I don't want to screw up and cause problems for the teachers and room moms who are running the show in the classrooms. I've never even been a room parent. Too difficult to get into run a party for sixteen first graders with an 18 month old and three year old clinging to each one of my legs. But now I'm the Room Parent Coordinator. I'm trying to be organized with this job. I've got a nice big blue binder with tabs for different paperwork and I've even sent out my first batch of Bingo postcards to the seventh grade room mom. But, I'm a procrastinator, and I already see it rearing it's ugly head. I have my list of things I need to do, and I'm happy if I get one or two done and done at least a day ahead of time. I have no doubt that I can do this, but it's not my strong suit.

I guess I'll have to make a new stack on my dresser for my Room Parent Coordinator materials and just do it.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Baby Helps Out

We have created a self service baby! Zoe, our 18 month old and youngest of three, has become self sufficient (almost!). Tonight, while we were reading bedtime stories, she took the diaper I had changed her out of before putting her jammies on and threw it away herself. This may not sound like much, but consider all that was involved. She knew the diaper was garbage, took the initiative to pick it up herself and take it over to the cabinet under the sink where our garbage can is located. Then, she had to unlock the child safety lock (it took her three times, but she did it all by herself) and deposit the diaper into the can. She then shut the cabinet door and came back to the family room to listen to some stories. The kid is brilliant!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I Hope It's A Winner!

I periodically enter recipes in contests that the cooking magazines I subscribe to are having. I even placed fourth in one contest which got me my recipe published and $100 prize money. I entered two more recipes today. Here is one of them.

Hawaiian Fruit Salad

1 can (20 oz.) unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin orange slices, drained
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup sour cream
maraschino cherries

Mix first five ingredients together and refrigerate four hours or overnight. Just before serving garnish with several maraschino cherries.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tutu Toddler

Emma had her first ballet class today. I signed her up after she expressed serious interest this summer in taking a class. She loves ballet and princesses, so this was a sure bet. It is not a parent participation class, I go and drop her off for a half hour of spinning and dancing with Miss Candi. She was a little hesitant when the teacher led the line of little girls with their hair in pigtails down to the classroom. But she went without a fuss and came back with a huge smile on her face while walking on her toes and holding her hands above her head in pure ballerina fashion. She told me she "loved" ballerina class. She wants to wear her ballerina leotard all day now!

Friday, September 09, 2005

I Can Take Up To 319 Pictures

I love the internet. And I'll tell you why. Our digital camera of 2 1/2 years has been giving us problems, most notably the flash not working the day of Elizabeth's wedding. The WHOLE family was dressed up, and not one picture turned out. Very frustrating. We've already replaced the flash once, and we never know when it's going to work. Instead of replacing the flash again, we decided to purchase a new camera. This time we decided on an upgrade to our current little camera. We opted for the Kodak Z740 and shopped around through the Sunday ads and the internet. We decided to go to Best Buy (the actual store) and see what their sale price was, as they did not list it in their circular. It wasn't as low as we hoped and decided to see if we could get the salespeople there to give us a better price. Brendan and I are not hagglers, it makes us uncomfortable. But, after reading Reader's Digest articles about how to save money and watching Dr. Phil episodes about not paying retail, we decided to give it a try. It was a no go.

So, we went home and again researched our options on the web. After factoring in shipping and handling and the cost of a memory card, we chose to use to order our camera. Their initial price on the camera was not the cheapest out on the web, but they offered free shipping and the best prices on memory cards. When all was said and done we bought the camera and the 512 MB memory card for about $5 more than the Best Buy sale price on just the camera! That didn't even include the sales tax at Best Buy, and there was a $10 mail in rebate on the memory card at, making the actual cost of everything less than the cost of the camera at Best Buy. Incredible!

The free shipping option said our camera would arrive in 8-10 days. We ordered on Sunday and recieved the camera yesterday. That makes it a four day delivery from time of order until receipt of product. With free shipping. It doesn't get much better than this!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know, everyone has a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. But these are awesome. I used to make the recipe on the back of the Nestle bag, but the cookies always turned out so thin. I looked for a long time for a recipe for basic chocolate chip cookies that made a delicious cookie that did not spread (stayed thick) when baked. Once I found this recipe several years ago I stopped looking. This is it.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 box (3.4 oz.) instant vanilla pudding
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add pudding mix, eggs and vanilla; mix until combined. Combine flour and baking soda; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Yield: About 4 dozen

For a fun change, you can try chocolate pudding instead of vanilla. This will give you a chocolate chocolate chip cookie.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What Color Head Will You Have When You Are A Duck?

On the way home from my father-in-law's house on Sunday night, I pointed out a brightly lit fountain in the pond near his place. Emma and Ian both thought it was neat, with Emma adding her usual, "It's so pretty."

That's when the fun conversation began.

Emma - "I wish I was a duck so I could fly into that fountain."

Ian - "If I was a duck I'd have a green head. Hey Dad, If you and I were ducks, we'd have green heads."

Brendan - "That's right Ian, we would have green heads."

Emma - "When I'm a duck, I'll have a pink head."

Ian - "No, you'd have a brown head."

Emma - "I want a pink head when I'm a duck!"

Ian - "Ducks don't have pink heads. But, Dad and I would have green heads."

Emma - "Mommy, when I'm a duck I want to take off my Emma head and have a pink head."

Ian - "Emma, ducks don't have pink heads."

Emma - (loudly) - "When I'm a duck I'm going to take off my Emma head and get a pink head!"

Ian - "Emma, you can't be a duck. I'm not going to be a duck."


Heather and Brendan - "Okay Emma, when you are a duck we will take off your Emma head and you can get a pink head."

Conversation On The Way Up To Bed

The scene: Ian and Emma were standing on the stairs, looking at us before going up to bed. Both had one finger up their noses.

Heather (Mom - Me) - Get upstairs, booger pickers.

Ian - Get upstairs, snot pickers.

Heather - Snot is slipperier than boogers. You're booger pickers.

Brendan (Dad) - This is not the time to discuss this.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

I Had To Look Up The Correct Spelling For "Zucchini"

This recipe is so great. It is my mom's recipe, the one she used and I grew up eating. I continued her tradition and have several fans of this recipe here at home. Brendan, who hates zucchini, loves this bread. My kids gobble it up and are actually excited when they see zucchini on the kitchen counter because they know it means bread! Ian will be taking this for his school snack on Tuesday.

Zucchini Bread

3 beaten eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Mix together eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla and zucchini. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon gradually to zucchini mixture until thoroughly blended. Grease and flour two loaf pans and bake at 325 degrees for one hour.

Yield: 2 loaves

I love pecans with this bread, but my family doesn't, so I often leave them out. This bread is easily mixed with just a wooden spoon, no hand mixer is necessary. I like to peel the zucchini before using the grater with the smallest holes. Finally, I often make this bread into mini muffins and regular sized muffins. That is what I did today and it yielded 24 mini muffins and 16 regular sized muffins. It took 10-12 minutes for the mini muffins to bake and 15 - 18 minutes for the regular sized muffins. These freeze nicely and thaw quickly and make a great anytime snack.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I am absolutely appalled at the conditions that the hurricane victims in New Orleans are enduring. I don't understand how a country like the U.S. can't get in there and get those people out. That being said, how the hell can people there shoot at rescue workers, rape and beat people, and push people out of the way to get on a bus out of the city. I am appalled. I have never been in a disaster situation, thankfully, but what would make you rape and beat people as well as shoot at the groups that are trying to help you? The people are all on TV complaining how there is no water, food, ice, and yet they shoot at the very helicopters and rescue workers there to deliver those very things? I don't understand it, I really don't. It moves me to tears to see the mothers with their tiny children crying in desperation, the families with elderly relatives no longer responding. How can the "me" mentality be so strong as to obscure the right from wrong that must be going on in peoples' heads? I am afraid there are going to be few stories when this is over of how people came together to overcome the massive destruction of Hurricane Katrina.

Brendan wrote a great commentary on this same subject. Read it here.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Uniting In Times Of Crisis

In the Tribune this morning I read a letter to the editor from Oren M. Spiegler that talked about the unity of politicians over the Hurricane Katrina disaster. He wondered how long this unity will last and answered himself by saying only until the "crisis fades from sight." Then he asks why it is only destruction and casualties can bring us together.

This kind of opining is silly. Thank goodness in times of crisis our politicians can come together for the general good. During times of prosperity, or even general wellness, these are the times we should be disagreeing and trying to point out a better way to do things or why we feel our way is a better way. We don't have time for disagreement, or at least partisanship, during times of crisis. We need to get help to the people devastated by the hurricane and we need to do it now. By uniting, the politicians can more quickly and effectively help. But during good times, we should be fighting for the change we believe in. Democrats and Republicans, Catholics and Jews, men and women, all should be trying to help in a disaster, side by side regardless of their backgrounds. When the crisis is averted is exactly the time to fight for the change you believe in. If not then, when will you fight for your rights and beliefs?

I can't help but feel proud that I live in the U.S., where we can come together to help others in need, despite our differences. You need only to look at a country like Iraq where the people can't or won't come together to help all of their citizens have a chance at a free and good life.

If you would like to help, go to the Red Cross and donate now.