Monday, June 30, 2008

Fun Monday - Quirks

Lisa Marie over at Lisa's Chaos is our host this week. She has asked us to divulge a little personal information with all of you this week. Her exact assignment is this:
A quirk is defined as a peculiarity of action, behavior, or personality; mannerism. We are all unique individuals, having quirks that help make us who we are. I would like to know what your quirks are. Confess to one, confess to ten, you decide. Just come back Monday ready to spill the beans, the rest of the world may look at you like you are from Mars, but you‘re among friends here. We won’t laugh, in fact that eccentricity just may endear you to us more.

I thought about this for awhile and came up with a few of my quirky behaviors.

1. I eat pancakes with butter and sugar - no syrup. (And it's not powdered sugar, either. It's the white granulated stuff.) I picked this habit up in college from one of my friends. I almost don't like them with syrup now. Now my kids will often eat pancakes this way; I think it drives my husband nuts.

2. I like to dip my french fries in ranch dressing. This habit started when I first began teaching. Several of the teachers would go out on Friday nights to a local bar/ restaurant and we always ordered fries to share, with an order of ranch dressing. Really delicious.

3. I sleep with a stuffed animal every night. It used to be my stuffed dog Henry that I received as an infant, but when he became in danger of disintegrating my husband bought me a Goofy toy that takes Henry's place now.

4. I weigh myself every day and write down the time and weight in a little notebook I keep in my bathroom drawer. (OK, this might be bordering on OCD, but it has helped me to lose weight and maintain my weight loss.)

5. I like almost all of my sandwiches plain. Hot dogs in a bun - no condiments. Hamburgers in a bun - again no condiments. Turkey sandwich - maybe some butter on the bread and some cheese - nothing else. Except for barbecue sauce and picante sauce, I dislike almost all condiments and would prefer my sandwiches without veggies, dressings or sauces.

6. I am a corn on the cob snob. We have to eat corn on the cob the day we buy it, or one day later at most. I never buy it from a grocery store, only from farmstands freshly picked daily. It stems from working at a a farm stand for two summers in high school and college and not trusting how long an ear of corn has travelled to get in the grocery stores. Try a fresh ear of corn, you'll taste the difference.

That's just a few of my quirks. Now go read about everyone else's strange eccentricities.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fun Monday - Wardrobe Edition

HulaGirlatHeart is our thoughtful hostess this week. Her assignment is the following:

We all have at least one or two items of clothing that we can’t part with, even if we can’t or don’t wear them. I want to know about yours.

I wanted to get pictures, but this has been an incredibly hectic weekend. So, I have to describe the few items I cannot part with.

First item is a green blazer. I know, blazers are soooo out. But here's the thing. I'm really tall, and most clothes don't fit me properly unless I order a tall from the store. When blazers were really in (in the 90's sometime) my mom ordered me a blazer from JC Penney's in a tall, and it fit so perfectly. I was in heaven! I mean, a blazer of my own that actually fit the way it was supposed to. I honestly thought I would probably never own one. So now, despite the fact that I haven't worn it in years, it still hangs in my closet.

Second item, my high school letter jacket. I was a three sport letterman in high school (cross country, basketball, track) as well as having academic letters. My coat was navy blue with gold leather sleeves (all the girl athletes got boy's jackets - leaving the girl's high school jackets for cheerleaders, band members and majorettes) and had my name embroidered on the front in gold thread. When I went to college I removed all the letters and my high school's name and had my college name embroidered on it (John Carroll). The colors just happened to be the same as my high school's colors.

I have several T-shirts from high school that I still wear when working out or mowing the grass. One is a cross country long sleeve T-shirt, one is my state T-shirt from track when my relay team went to the Ohio State track championships - it has Snoopy wearing running gear on it, and one is a Harry Connick, Jr. T-shirt from college.

I have a few other things, too. But I have another busy week ahead and want to go to bed. Now go check out everyone else's clothes they can't get rid of!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'm Not One Of Those Mothers

My two oldest kids have been attending swim lessons for the last two weeks and during the 1/2 hour lesson parents are required to stay and watch their kids' lesson. Each session is for four days a week, for two weeks, so the faces become familiar in the stands.

There is this one woman who I noticed immediately in the first few days. I at first thought she must be a nanny. And it wasn't because she was really young or really cute. It was because of how she talked to the kids. She used a very high pitched sing-songy voice and was very encouraging. "Colton, you did SUCH a GREAT job!" she say. "Jimmy, you were SUPER!" And this to another mother and her daughter, "Wow! I have never seen a little girl sit so still when someone is doing her hair! What a GOOD SITTER you ARE!"

Now, I know this is a nice way to talk to kids. It is positive and supportive and probably builds all manner of self-esteem. And don't get me wrong, there are many times when I praise my kids and tell them how proud I am of them. But the sing-song, high pitched, gushy voice just isn't me.

I usually only talk that way to babies, cats, dogs, and other cute furry creatures.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Funniest Thing I've Read In A Long Time

I just headed over to Dooce to catch up on what was going on over there. I used to read her religiously, but lately have only stopped by sporadically. But today I read a post by a guest writer named Jim Griffioen that was absolutely hilarious. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.

Here's just a little sample:
It's one of the hardest parts about being a father to a little girl: you have no choice but to drag your precious, uncorrupted little daisy into some of the foulest palaces of filth and putrefaction known to man, while women bring their daughters with them into perfumed Xanadus.

Head over here to read the whole entry. It's amazing.


I made pancakes and scrambled eggs for my family for dinner tonight. This is a frequent favorite in my house, I like it because it is easy and no complaints from the diners. As I made the pancakes tonight, I thought how I could run a pancake house. Okay, maybe not run one, but I have all kinds of great ideas for pancakes.

I used to always make the pancakes with Bisquick, until one day I had extra buttermilk leftover from another recipe. I didn't want to waste it, so I looked up how to make real buttermilk pancakes in my old Betty Crocker cookbook. My husband immediately noticed the difference and said he preferred the "real" buttermilk ones. So I now usually buy buttermilk and make "real" ones, though I still have Bisquick on hand for times when I just need an easy dinner and can't get to the store.

For the last couple of years I have made my family's pancakes first, then with the remaining batter I make myself about three pancakes with a little something added in. At first I started simple, a little cinnamon. I discovered it was good. In fact, I no longer wanted plain pancakes, I wanted interesting pancakes. So I continued experimenting. I've added pumpkin and cinnamon, mini chocolate chips (the kids love this one), coconut (not so good), pecans (delicious), and even oatmeal.

But tonight, I added something new. Something delicious and tasty. I added some crumbled almond paste. After one taste I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Honestly, it was that good. If I had had some slivered almonds, I would have thrown those in as well, and I'm sure it would have only made them that much better.

I love experimenting with different ingredients in pancakes. I had some amazing granola pancakes at a little pancake house in my hometown several years ago. I think it was that experience that made me want to try my own ideas at home. Unfortunately for me, neither my husband nor my children are adventurous with their pancakes. I would love to share the experience of new and exciting pancake flavors with someone. But even if I never do, at least I'M enjoying the flavors.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Fun Monday - Wall to Wall Edition

Jan over at The Prytz Family is our lovely hostess this week. She has asked us to reveal what is on our walls, either inside or out.

We moved into our current house not quite two years ago and I am notoriously slow about getting a place decorated. It wasn't until we were moving out of our last house (after being there six years) that I had most of the house the way I liked it. So this house has a few nice touches, but it's not exactly where I would like it to be.

All of the rooms in our house, with the exception of my son's room and my daughters' room, is the color choice of the previous owners. We are working on getting the place painted, but since we are doing it ourselves, the work is slow going.

Let's start in our "office" (really the fourth bedroom that houses our computer, my craft stuff, and lots of our books).

These are two of my husband's pieces of artwork. He received the Batman and Joker piece for college graduation from one of his parents. It is an actual storyboard from "Batman - the Animated Series" and is signed by Mark Hamill, the voice of the Joker (and Luke Skywalker). The other piece is an actual page from a comic drawn by Scott McDaniel. Along with the page is the finished page from the comic book and a letter fromScott McDaniel himself. We had this framed ourselves.

This sign is above the window in our office. I had it made for my husband for Christmas one year. Next to it are four comic books. Eventually we plan on having the entire space above the window from left to right displayed with comic books.

Next let's move to the kitchen. I don't have a lot up in my kitchen, yet. But the two signs I do have up, I love.

This first picture is a sign I had made for myself. I love the old diner look, and I get lots of fun comments from guests when they see it.

This sign is over the walkthrough into my kitchen where our kitchen table is. I just love the sentiment.

This sign hangs in my entryway. We bought this sign when we went for a weekend to Stoughton, Wisconsin.

This artwork that my daughters and I made hangs on my front door. I know, not exactly a wall, but stuff like this hangs all over my house, especially the downstairs.

Definitely one of the favorite walls in my house is my stair hallway. I had an idea, put it together, and hung up each and every frame myself. The pictures are all black and white photos of the family.

Finally, let's go to my bedroom.

Above my husband's dresser are his three framed set of stamps. He is not a stamp collector but has these fun sets that are all interests of his. The first set are Elvis, the second set DC comic heroes, and the third Star Wars stamps.

And finally these are gifts I made for my husband on previous Father's Days. The top picture is just my two oldest and their handprints. The bottom is a photo collage of all three kids.

Now, I'm headed over to Jan's to see everyone else's walls. Why don't you come and check them out, too?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Zoe Answers The Burning Questions

My four year old daughter came downstairs after taking her bath tonight and said to me, "I know why butt cheeks and our other cheeks don't have bones."

Being curious, I said, "Really? Why?"

She looked up at me, squeezed her face cheeks, and responded, "Because they need to be squishy."

Of course.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yesterday was my anniversary. Thirteen years ago we got married in my hometown of Findlay, Ohio and started on an amazing journey together. Brendan is my college sweetheart. I met him the second weekend of our freshman year at John Carroll University. We started dating later that month and by our junior year we were engaged. Three short weeks after graduating, we tied the knot.

Brendan and I before the winter dance 1993

Looking back I am sometimes amazed at what we've done. I didn't have a job (well, I had a summer job in the financial aid office at JCU, but no permanent job.) Brendan was starting his job working nights at a little internet startup company the Monday after we got married. They say you can't live on love alone, but we came close!

Our Wedding Day

I still remember his reaction when he came home that Monday night and I had made tacos and corn for dinner. It was like he had hit the jackpot. Walk in the door and food was there, on the table to eat. It was the beginning of a very traditional marriage in the roles we took. I grocery shopped and made dinners. He washed the dishes. But outside of that we weren't very traditional. He helped clean and do laundry. He accepted the cat I had picked up on my way to work in the fall; she had been hit by a car. I searched for our second apartment. I helped mow the grass when we bought our first house. He planted roses and made sure they were fertilized regularly. I marinated the meat, he grilled it on his Weber grill.

Then after four years of me teaching, him moving to days and changing jobs twice, we had our first child, a son. I stopped working to take care of our baby and Brendan looked for job he would actually enjoy after the internet company was sold. We moved to the Chicago area when our son was about five months old. We lived with my father-in-law and his wife for four months until we found a place of our own here. One miscarriage, two more kids (daughters), and eight years later we find ourselves in yet another house (our third since getting married) and celebrating our 13th anniversary.

It's been a long and wonderful ride. We've seen so many changes, but one thing has remained the same. Our love for each other. It has remained steadfast and true.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Fun Monday - Child's Play

Our lovely hostess, Molly, has given us the following assignment:
I would like you to describe a happy memory from your childhood. If possible, include pictures with your reminiscing. Perhaps, for some us remembering the past may bring back some unhappy times too. But, for today, let us remember the good times.

I was lucky, I had a wonderful childhood. Some of my best memories revolve around my family. I remember nights at the dinner table laughing so hard that my stomach hurt. These conversations usually involved talk of "eyebungers" (bees that only sting the eye) and how one of us had "skun" our knee.

I was the youngest of four kids. There were only four years between the first three kids, and then four years between the youngest of those three and me. So, I did get picked on a lot and called the "baby" a lot. But despite this my brothers and sister and I had a lot of fun together. There were nights playing Tripoley, peanuts or Boggle with our parents. The TV would be turned off and we would play for the entire night. We went on lots of great vacations when we lived in England for five years. We went to Scotland over Christmas one year and all agreed that it wasn't the same being in a hotel on Christmas morning instead of at home. We travelled to Italy with my parents and grandparents and went to the top of the leaning tower of Pisa while my Grandma and Grandpa worried constantly about our walking around the outside walkways on the tower. (There weren't safety railings). We teased my sister when the Italian guys hit on her. We went skiing in Austria and laughed at my brother because every meal he would order Wienerschnitzel (sp.?).

I remember spending hours with my best friend Angie. She lived down the street from me and we were always together. We played hospital with our dolls. We'd keep detailed records as to why they were in the hospital and either apply or remove cheap red nail polish for blood to the doll's skin. We built an actual clubhouse in Angie's backyard with the help of her brother and my brothers and sisters. We used old six foot fence pieces from a neighbor who was replacing their privacy fence. We even waterproofed it with garbage bags and put a gutter on the back of the sloping roof. We used rubber tubing and a ketchup pump, along with a bucket and an old sink to create "running water." (Don't worry - we didn't drink it!) We even cleaned out a whole area of leaves and tree branches to make a bike or trike parking area.

I remember cooking potatoes wrapped in foil in the fires built to burn the leaves. Not much tasted better than a potato cooked in the coals of a fire and then topped with butter and sea salt.

In the winter we would walk on Angie's frozen pool, without our parent's knowledge of course. Her brother, Jeff, would use a hammer to break off pieces of the ice and we'd look at how it broke into little pieces we called "shivers."

I remember making sugar cookies at Christmas that we'd decorate with egg yolk paint. I remember the smell of my mom's tea ring she'd make very Christmas. We had a great tradition where the kids would give each other their Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve, after midnight mass, and then in the morning we got our presents from Santa.

One of my best memories is Christmas carolling with our Family Group - five families who met once a month to grow spiritually as family and friends. WE went to Family Camp together every summer and all the kids slept in one cabin and all the adults slept in another cabin. Then in the winter we chose several families to go carolling to and we would load into all of our vans and head out to sing at the different houses. Afterwards we had apple cider and doughnuts at someone's house.

Indeed, I was very blessed. I can't wait to hear about everyone else's happy memories.

(Sorry - no pictures today because I signed up late!)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Fun Monday - Hand's On Edition

Our hostess this week is Karisma and she has given us the following assignment:

I would like to see or hear about things you have made with your own two hands (or feet, Im not fussy!) We all have different talents and abilities, maybe you like to sew or knit, chisel or sculpt, draw or paint? Whatever your talent is, please share it with us this week.

So I started racking my brain and came up with several things I have made myself:

First - Cakes & Cupcakes

I have made all of my kids birthday cakes, whatever they decide on. I have also made birthday cakes for many other family members. Here are some of them:

Emma's Care Bear Cake

Grandma McKillip's birthday cake - chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream filling and chocolate buttercream frosting

Ian's Power Ranger cake

Ian's Scooby Doo Cake

Ian's Treasure Chest Cake (for a pirate party)

Zoe's Zoe Cake

Here is the cake and cupcakes I made for my father-in-law's 60th birthday

Zoe's Batman Cakes

Ian's 1/2 Birthday Cupcakes

Martha's Bridal Shower Cake

Death By Chocolate Cupcakes

Grandma & Grandpa McKillip's 65th Anniversary Cake (everything on there is edible)

Here I am (9 months pregnant with Zoe) making my "Welcome Home" cake - the one's the kids frosdted and decorated with my husband for the day I came home form the hospital with Zoe.

And here's the actual cake

Next are cookies and desserts:
I love to cook, and I have several main dishes that are yummy, but my true passion is baked goods and desserts.

Charlotte's Web "Wilbur" cookies

Cherry Vanilla Ribbon Pie

Gingerbread Cookie Christmas Tree - I made this with my two daughters

My Mom's Birthday Apple Crisp (my parents are not cake people)

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Shamrock Pie - a St. Patrick's Day Tradition

Triple Chocolate Torte

Now here are a few things that are not edible that I have made.

Block Guy - made this while playing with my kids one day

This drawing of my three kids

The skeleton costume for my son when he was four years old

Zoe's Christmas stocking - (I've actually made all of my kid's Christmas stockings, this is the only one I have a picture of)

I have made lots of other thing, too. I can cross stitch and I scrapbook and make cards. But for now, this is what I have to show you. Can't wait to see what the rest of you have made!