Till Death Do Us Part

When I was in my early twenties, I was obsessed with TLC’s The Wedding Story. I couldn’t get enough of the “how we met” stories set to a photo montage, and I loved how a video camera followed the couple and their families to capture every moment from the planning to the reception. I cried when the couple said “I do,” and I loved seeing the big day coming together. For a girl who didn’t plan one aspect of her own wedding before her engagement, I sure did care about other people’s weddings.

I always liked going to weddings as a kid; they boasted tons of free food, an endless supply of cake, a dance floor, and distracted adults. Grown ups let you get away with just about anything at a wedding reception. You get to stay up late, have truckloads of sweets, and if you are a middle school punch table attendant, no one notices if you’re dipping into the spiked punch.

As an adult, I still love weddings. I’m still a fan of free food, lots of cake, dancing, and broad scale, free-range parenting. Also, spiked punch. I am not, however, still a fan of A Wedding Story. The very second I got married, I dropped that show like a hot potato and moved on to A Baby Story. Coincidentally, the very second I gave birth I was totally over A Baby Story. Good for you, having a baby. Whatevs. I did that, too.

For as much as I loved watching other people planning their wedding, I didn’t enjoy my own pre-wedding tasks. My mom and my best friends weren’t local, I didn’t have 20 plus years of dreaming under my belt, and I don’t particularly like party planning. Or dressing up.

I did much of my wedding shopping (makeup, undergarments, jewelry, shoes) by myself, and one day I was at the mall on the hunt for some shapewear to go with the bustier I had already secured that filled out my boobs, and took away my pooch. For you fellas that are reading, shapewear is body slimming undergarments that have compression qualities. Okay fine, it’s a girdle. Every woman has them, but for your wedding, you want the good stuff. Bridal lingerie.

I was at Nordstrom, and with the help of the sales associate, I selected three or four undergarments to try. I headed into the fitting room, which was deserted, and stripped down. Now, for those of you who have never squeezed yourself into one of these torture devices, imagine a swimsuit four times too small. Now picture yourself putting it on. I know women who have had their husbands help shove them into their Spanx, and for my wedding, I wanted to see hardcore slimming. Hardcore slimming takes some muscle to get into, which I didn’t have, and is actually why I needed to be slimmed.

I tried on two of my four options, and was fairly pleased with the results. Number three was a doozie. It was high waisted, and had extra compression panels on the belly and hips. It was a size smaller than I probably needed, but I was hopeful that I would drop a few pounds before the big day, so it would be smart to plan for that. I got both feet in with no problem. Just above my knee is where I started to see some resistance. I started to wiggle my hips, the move that all women instinctively know for putting on clothing that is too tight. I had practiced this move with jeans for years, so I was still feeling confident in my abilities to squeeze into these gigantic gut-sucking panties. I was able to cram the hips that would eventually bear children with ease into the elastic, and tucked my belly in, too.

I was sweating, and breathing hard, and wanted to sit down for a minute, but the undergarments were too tight for me to sit. I admired my sleek physique for a moment, and then I started to panic. The desire to get that girdle off of me immediately was overwhelming, and I took the deepest breaths I could to avoid hyperventilating. I hooked my thumbs under the elastic, and tried to slide them down my belly to my hips. No movement. The tightness of the gear coupled with the sweat from my exertion had me trapped. In a girdle.

I didn’t know what to do. Do I holler for the sales associate? How could she help? Kneel in front of my business and pull with all of her might? No, thank you. I started cursing my mom for living three hours away (I moved, not her) and my friends for having lives that didn’t revolve around mine, and my fiance for not going shopping with me (I don’t think I actually invited him). I did the only thing I could think of. I called my best friend. Thank goodness she answered, so I could tell her about my situation, and even though I could barely breathe, I started to laugh.

I’m not sure why I thought I could get the undergarments off while I was on the phone, but I tried, tucking the phone in the crook of my shoulder, so I could tug with both hands. I was bouncing off the fitting room walls, laughing so hard I was crying, while cursing at my friend on the phone. Finally, I was able to get the girdle over my hips, and I was home free. I got off the phone, seriously considered actually buying the girdle that almost killed me, and got dressed.

I walked out of my fitting room stall, right into a group of four teenage girls all staring at me. I was disheveled and exhausted, and while anyone over the age of 30 would have taken one look at the products in my hand and understood what was going on in that fitting room; these girls were too young.

They didn’t know about Spanx.

They didn’t know I was on the phone.

They thought I was a crazy lady talking to herself and kicking her own ass in the fitting room.

I was too worn out to explain. I slinked past them, eyes down, and headed to the register where I purchased one of the first two choices. Looking back, I’m thankful for two things. First, that I didn’t have a camera phone back then. There definitely would have been a picture. And second, that I didn’t get the killer Spanx with the expectation that I would lose weight before the wedding. I didn’t lose weight. In fact, my dress had to be taken out three days before the wedding.

Read about our wedding day HERE!

Read how we met HERE!

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Crock Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

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Because Crock Pot Thursday is a family tradition, I was thrilled to have family here this week to share this Crock Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup. My sister-in-law and 10 year old niece were visiting from California, and we had a nearly perfect day. My kids adore their older cousin, and couldn’t have been happier to play in the dirty snow with her while we moms drank tea and caught up with each other. I was happy to have snow for our California girls, and was excited to try out this new recipe that was just right for a cold, winter day. I love that my slow cooker did the work for me while I enjoyed visiting with our family.

I served the Crock Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup with a green salad and warm ciabatta bread. We garnished the soup with green onions, sour cream, and bacon, and everyone loved it!

For dessert we had fresh chocolate chip cookies, which were quick and easy because I had frozen dough balls on hand to plop on a cookie sheet and toss in the oven. YUM.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies3

Since my son’s all time favorite meal is our slow cooked Corn Chowder, the next night I added some leftover corn, and it was a somewhat successful substitute for his favorite.

This soup was added to everyone’s “make again” pile, and our dinner guests asked for the recipe. Win!

This Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup is hearty, delicious, and looks beautiful when the toppings are added! It's one of my favorite crockpot soup recipes!

Crock Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Crock Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This Crock Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup is delicious!
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ lb bacon cut into ½ inch pieces (more if also using as garnish)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup butter (or use the bacon drippings)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cream (half and half works, too)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (more if also using as garnish)
  • garnish options: chives, sour cream, bacon, cheese, or green onion
Instructions
  1. Cook the bacon in a pan until crispy.
  2. Add all the ingredients to the crock pot except cream (or half and half) and cheese.
  3. Cook on high for four hours or low for eight. Potatoes should be tender.
  4. Mash the potatoes a bit until the soup is to your desired thickness.
  5. Stir in cream and cheese, and garnish with toppings.

I used my 6.5-Quart Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker to make this.


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This Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup is hearty, delicious, and looks beautiful when the toppings are added! It's one of my favorite crockpot soup recipes!

Big And Little

I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully comfortable with the way my kids look little and big at the same time. How can my baby be getting her own snack? How can my boy be riding a bike without training wheels? It is always most jarring with my oldest, since his firsts are trail blazing. By the time his younger sister is doing things, it’s already been done in our house. It’s exciting because it’s her first, it’s not our first.

As a five year old, Graham has mastered many of the tasks of a grade schooler. He puts away his clothes and makes his own sandwiches for lunch, but he still sleeps with a blankie, and at the dentist he chooses toys from the bucket of prizes meant for preschoolers. His life is balanced between big kid and little, and if it’s a constant surprise for me, what must it be like for him? When his class has library on Wednesdays, what makes him choose a Scooby Doo zombie book one week and a Dora pop up book the next?

This past weekend he was climbing a tree at the neighbor’s house just ten minutes after he had climbed in my lap for a snuggle. Today he found the book he was looking for at the public library by stepping up to the librarian’s desk saying, “Excuse me. Where are your Dr. Seuss books?” He didn’t ask me first, he didn’t want me to ask the librarian for him, and he carried himself like a big kid. After selecting both How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Hop on Pop, he wandered to the same train table he’s been playing with for over three years, and took Thomas and Percy through the train wash. Before we left, he checked out our stack of books and movies by himself, with his own library card. The one he was allowed to get last year after he memorized our address and phone numbers. All day long he’s intertwining big kid maturity with little kid play.

Lately, Graham has been coming home from kindergarten on edge. He gets a snack and about 30 minutes to decompress, but that doesn’t seem to help. When he climbs in my lap, he’s good for a bit, but then I start to annoy him. The one thing that does calm his nerves and soothes his temper is a shower. A hot shower after a long day at the office, sir? My five year old may as well walk in the door loosening his tie. When his day at the office is more “We finally closed that deal!” instead of “Damn that Ed from accounting,” he’s building awesome Lego creations, or finding ways to “accidentally” say toilet, butt, pee, penis, or poop. And then laughing like a maniac. He plays with stuffed animals, and loves Star Wars movies. He reads books, but would still rather be read to. He belts “Call Me Maybe” and nursery rhymes. He goes to school all day, but still kisses and hugs me when I volunteer in his class. The sight of him clomping around in his dad’s new snow boots this past weekend was the perfect visual for how I feel about my boy.

Is it always going to be like this? Will I always be shocked by how big my boy is, and yet how obvious his vulnerabilities are to me? I know he won’t always want to snuggle in my lap, and I know he’s going to really love the shower in a few years, but to me he’ll always be little. Even when he’s bigger than I am.

10 Things I’ve Learned In 10 Years of Marriage

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1. Rolling your eyes makes a statement, but never a good one. And don’t bother denying the eye roll. It’s been seen, documented, and the fight will now last 30 minutes longer. Fellas, an eye roll is particularly unbecoming on you. See also: The heavy sigh.

2. Giving your husband the silent treatment doesn’t work, because he doesn’t notice. And if he does notice, he likes the quiet. You aren’t punishing him, you are rewarding him. The silent treatment is my signature move, and I’m not sure my husband even realizes it’s in my wheelhouse.

3. Don’t worry about keeping score. I am confident in the knowledge that I do more stuff around the house, and my husband  knows that he does more than me. Really, we both do lots of stuff. It’s our lazy ass kids who aren’t pulling their weight.

4. It’s important to make each other laugh. I make my husband laugh by saying things like, “Are you excited for the Oscars?” and “We should have more vegetarian meals,” and he makes me laugh by suggesting I get up early to make his lunch, or asking me to clip his toenails.

5. There is something very special about making fun of your kids with the person who co-created them. It’s that feeling that sustains me through the hard times. Like baseball season.

6. Daddy gets the big piece of chicken. Chris Rock will tell you it’s Daddy’s due for knocking out the rent. Even when I was the primary bread winner, my husband got the big piece of chicken. He says, “I outweigh you by 100 pounds.” My response, “Not for long!” as I reach for seconds.

7. Don’t come between a man and his grill. If my husband had to choose between another man’s hands on his wife or another man’s hands on his grill, he’d struggle with the choice.

8. Your family will think your kids look just like you, and your in-laws will think they look just like your spouse. This debate will be most fierce when the kids are newborns, and barely look human.

9. Think back to the beginning of your relationship. Every once in a while, put that much effort into it now. Not to sound all Dr. Laura or anything, but care in your appearance, care in your home, and a pleasant demeanor is a nice thing to do for the most important person in your life. (And no, I’m not talking about your kids.) Tomorrow you can put those yoga pants back on, heat up some leftovers, and everyone will be happy. While we’re doing nice things, how about this? Put out, even when you don’t feel like it. You do a million things every day that you don’t feel like doing. Getting some is more fun than laundry 100% of the time.

10. Don’t expect perfect communication. Just because he doesn’t tell you that you’re pretty, doesn’t mean he isn’t thinking it. I get around this by waiting until my husband has lost his train of thought. He’ll say, “What was I going to say…?” and I’ll prompt, “That I look so pretty?” His answer is always yes. Boom. Complimented.



Just Add Water: My Week Condensed 2/25/13

I shared 20 Things I Learned in College, and in two days it became my all-time most popular post. That means I pretty much spent Tuesday and Wednesday watching my blog stats blow up. It was exciting, and honestly, a little scary. I like that post, though, and think it is a better representation of my voice than my previous top post, so I’m glad to see it on top, and pleased that others like it, too. Reminiscing about those awesome years in the late 90s made me want to see my college buddies, and had me shopping for a new pair of Doc Martens.

I have been (and will continue) sharing the blogs of the women whose essays will be in the upcoming anthology, I Just Want To Pee Alone. Here’s the book cover! If you are like me, this whole “Amy getting published” thing seems more reasonable when you see that the book has a toilet on the cover. If I haven’t mentioned it yet, this book is for grown-ups. But NOT my grandparents. Probably not your grandparents, either.

Crock Pot Thursday actually happened for us on the following Monday because it took me four days to get organized enough to have the proper ingredients. This Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe was worth the trouble. Based on the way my kids chowed it down, I’d say it was a kid-friendly dish. I solemnly swear to pay closer attention to the ingredients list and my on-hand ingredients in order to avoid three trips to the store for one blasted recipe. Not to brag, but one week later, and so far so good!

When my husband was in graduate school, we lived in an awesome city and made lifelong friends. Something happened at a bar, and we vowed never to speak of it. Does writing about it on my blog count? Someone asked if it was a sponsored post because of the way I waxed on about DoubleTree cookies. It was not. I just love those cookies so much, and will pretend to be a hotel guest to score complimentary cookies. Dear DoubleTree, if you are reading this, feel free to send me cookies. I’ll keep talking about them!

Graham found some sunscreen in the car (I’m sure I’ve cleaned my car out at least once since summer…or not.) and I asked him not to mess with it. My kids are such good listeners.

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The Year Of The Cookie

When my husband and I had been dating for about six months, he began the process of applying to graduate schools. We were exclusive, and had mentioned marriage, but only six months in we weren’t ready to pull the trigger on forever. We were, however, ready to actually live in the same town, as we had spent most of our relationship five hours apart. Because of our plan to live in the same zip code, and probably under the same roof, I had some say in which graduate programs he applied to. It went a little something like this: “I want to move with you, but I’m not moving away from the West Coast without a ring.” Armed with that information, he applied exclusively to schools on the West Coast. I should have realized at that point he wouldn’t propose for another two and a half years.

That summer we moved to the city that would be our home for the next eight years. I was able to transfer with my company, and in the fall, The Doctor began his graduate studies. He befriended some of his classmates, and they would frequently “study” at a bar down the hill from their school. It was a little lounge that boasted live music seven nights a week with no cover, and the had the best catfish po boy west of the Mississippi. It was a great little bar, and when I heard it was demolished last year, I was sad.

I have several fond memories of that bar, and of that first year in our new town. Since I was in retail, and often worked late, I would pick the crew up from their “study” sessions, and since they had been “studying” for hours, I would be the designated driver. The first time I met these friends, I showed up to the bar late (as usual) and The Doctor made introductions. I smiled and waved, the only way I could communicate because I was suffering from laryngitis, and wasn’t able to be heard over the blues band playing in the background. My future husband’s classmates couldn’t hear me, nor could the grandfatherly stranger who wandered over and asked me to dance. I couldn’t say no (literally) so I danced with him. To a jazzy little slow song. It was pretty fun, and kind of silly, and to this day I don’t know if those new friends thought I was cool or crazy. We are still good friends with those classmates, and thirteen years later, they know that I’m both.

Many nights after leaving our little bar (or whatever bar we had frequented that evening) we would swing by the DoubleTree hotel. The DoubleTree has these amazing complimentary cookies for guests, and since we had all stayed at a DoubleTree at one time or another, we figured the cookies were still for us. I would pull up to the door, and our bravest friend would run in and ask the employee at the front desk for some delicious, warm, chocolate chip cookies. He was usually successful, but once came out with his tail between his legs after being scolded by the desk person. On that occasion he got a second tongue lashing from us. We wanted cookies! After that one unsuccessful attempt, he always came back with cookies. Only years later did we find out you can purchase cookies, and that’s what he was doing after that one failed attempt.

One night I worked until 11 pm at my store, and headed to the bar to meet my love and my friends. They had been “studying” for hours, and were full of “knowledge”. I was used to coming into the celebration late, but this one was different. The bar was crowded, and we were tucked into a tiny corner. According to them, they had slowly and aggressively been pushed into the corner by one couple. I followed their eyes to a woman with an ass three times too big for her body, all up on her man. They told me this couple was making out like they were the only people in the place, and when they would come up for air, she would stick that monster caboose out. All my friends could do was grab their drinks and duck for cover.

I was appalled by how tiny our corner of the room was and how much space Big Ass and her face-sucking friend had. I was embarrassed for my friends, and disappointed in my future husband. What the hell, you guys? You’re going to let one girl crowd you out? They thought it was hilarious, but I was pissed. I took a few steps back, and stood my ground. Just then, Big Ass unlocked from her man, flipped her stringy blond hair, and stuck that butt out. Right into my back. It was disgusting, pressed up against me all squishy and warm. She started moving it back and forth, my eyes screamed in horror, and my friends lost it. They laughed that silent, shoulder-shaking laughter while I grimaced, wanted to cry, and stepped forward in defeat. “Told you!” they cackled. I grabbed a drink, fumed, and wanted to take a shower.

Big Ass went back in for some more tonsil hockey, and we tried to talk about something else. We couldn’t. Finally, our DoubleTree cookie fetching friend looked each of us in they eye and asked, “Do you really want her gone?” We all vehemently said yes. He asked again. Serious eyes, intense face. Yes, dude. YES!  He turned and walked away. We exchanged glances, curious. A few minutes later, he came back with a tray of shots. Oatmeal Cookies for everyone. We took our shots, but I still didn’t understand. Cookies (especially in cocktail form) made everything better, but not in this situation. Or did it? Not three minutes later, he looked at me and said, “Pull my finger.” I did, and my lactose intolerant friend unleashed a gassy fury that sent that nasty couple across the room, Big Ass squealing in horror. In fact, by the time the smoke cleared, we had way more room than we needed. We spread out, covering our noses and raising our glasses in victory. People gave us disgusted looks, and we laughed and laughed.

We made a pact to never speak of it again.

This recipe makes the VERY BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES IN THE WORLD!

This chocolate chip cookie recipe makes the very best cookies in the world!

Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu

Crockpot Chicken Cordon Bleu is a quick and easy way to get big, fancy flavor. Try this crockpot chicken recipe for your next dinner!

This series is called Crock Pot Thursday, but last week, I did not Crock Pot on Thursday. Not because we went out to dinner on Valentine’s Day, obviously. I have small children, remember? In fact, I think the only Crock Pot Thursday members that went out on Valentine’s Day were my husband’s parents. It’s no coincidence that they are the only ones without small children at home. I swear, I can’t wait until I’m a grandparent. Those guys are seriously living the dream.

I began gathering my ingredients on Thursday, and realized we were out of Swiss cheese. We bought it, but I didn’t tell my family to save five or six slices for the recipe, so they ate it. All of it. No worries, I had the chicken and the Crock Pot out, so I made Crock Pot Shredded Chicken instead.

The next day, I made a run to the store, and procured some Swiss. On Sunday, I dug around in the freezer for some chicken to give this Chicken Cordon Bleu another go, and guess what? I had used the last of the chicken on the shredded chicken recipe. HOW COULD THIS BE? A freezer without chicken? We always have chicken. I didn’t even check, because we always have chicken.

At this point, if I didn’t have to write about it, I would have thrown in the towel on the troublemaker of a recipe.

At this point, I would have had to make three trips to the store.

At this point, I was beginning to think I needed to be more organized in my meal planning.

On Monday, the kids and I ran to the store to get some mother trucking chicken, and when I went to pay, my wallet wasn’t in my bag. You guys, if I had to leave, go home and get my wallet, come back to the store for the chicken, I was going to kick my own ass. What else could I do? I had no one to blame for any of this hassle but myself. WHY did I need to switch handbags that morning? I thought I moved my wallet, too, but I obviously didn’t. While I was digging into the depths of my bag willing that wallet to appear, I found something just as good. A folded up ten spot. I did a little dance, paid the cashier, tore my kids away from the celebrity magazines and candy rack, and headed to the car.

Where I found my wallet on the floor. My life needs a serious organizational overhaul. I rolled home, and made some slow cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu. FINALLY. It was good. My husband says it didn’t make him think of traditional Chicken Cordon Bleu, and he kept saying, “Stuffing, huh?” and “This is called Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu?”, but he enjoyed it, despite its name. The kids loved it. There was a “This is a really good dinner, Mommy,” from one kid, and a full-mouth, nodding agreement from the other.

And those words made it almost okay to have made three trips to the store for one recipe.

Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu

Crock Pot Thursday: Chicken Cordon Bleu
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (smaller breasts are better)
  • 4 oz sliced ham
  • 4 oz sliced Swiss cheese
  • 8 oz stuffing mix (herb or chicken flavor is best)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, mix the cream of chicken soup and milk, stirring until combined.
  2. Pour just enough of the milk mixture in the bottom of the slow cooker to coat the bottom.
  3. Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker.
  4. Top with a the ham, and on top of the ham, the cheese.
  5. Pour remaining soup mixture over everything.
  6. Add the stuffing mix in a layer on top of the soup, and drizzle the butter over the stuffing.
  7. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.

Recipe modified from Six Sisters’ Stuff.

I used my 3.5 Quart Crock-Pot Casserole Slow Cooker to make this Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu

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Crock Pot Thursday Index

Books And Candy, Panties And Minivans

Did you guys hear that I’m going to be in a book? I’m sure I mentioned it. Oh, a couple of times, you say? Well, in anticipation of selling that book right here on this site, I got myself an Amazon button. See it over there on the right? Give it a click and buy yourself something pretty. —->

I was reading some of my co-collaborators older works, and I realized that our book isn’t the only thing I can be selling. Some of these ladies have some amazing products to promote, and I need to do what I can to help you get your hands on these items.

Like Snarkfest, who has found you just the undergarment to start your day off right. Positive Panties, because who doesn’t want a pep talk from her underoos? Especially one that uses the F-bomb to proclaim your awesomeness?

Or Frugalista Blog who is going to help me sell my sister-in-law on a minivan. She doesn’t want one now, but  when she has that third kid she keeps talking about, she’ll be crying for third row seating and automatic sliding doors. I know I’d like to roll with a bigger posse than my small sized SUV allows for now. Minivan, bitches!

And Peanut Layne will make you want some candy, but you’ll have no idea what it means. Candy in the good way, or candy in the bad way? Am I hungry or horny or both?! Read this sweet story and decide for yourself.

I’m rubbing elbows with some seriously funny women, and I still can’t believe my luck. If Neil Patrick Harris texts me to hang out, I’ll know it’s a dream. Since I’m still scrubbing toilets and matching up socks, I have to believe it’s real.

Hold on, though…don’t go spending all of your cash. Save a few bucks to buy our book, m’kay?

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20 Things I Learned In College

College is a time of self-discovery, and of eating more pizza than one human should consume in a lifetime. I learned tons of things from my professors, and a few of those things I even remember! The most important things I learned in college, though? They happened outside the classroom. You don’t have to call me professor if you don’t want to, but I’m going to be dropping some knowledge on you right now.

A hilarious list of things you learn in college...but not in class.

1. Go easy on the ranch dressing, unless you want to buy all new pants to accommodate your ranch ass.

2. In less than ten years, that friend who accidentally brushes her teeth with a tampon after a night out is a mom. An awesome one.

3. If your boyfriend is a cheater in high school, what the hell do you think he’s going to do in college? I guess the question should be WHO do you think he’s going to do? Because the answer is everyone he can.

4. If you know someone who “dated a star football player for a few weeks,” it really means they hooked up twice.

5. Just because the dining hall will make you a grilled cheese on white bread (GC-dub) every day for every meal, you don’t have to order it every day for every meal. Similarly, if there is an afternoon nacho bar, you don’t need to hit that up every day between GC-dubs.

6. College is a great time to reinvent yourself. But not so much when your roommate is a high school friend, and  most of the people you hang out went to your high school, too.

7. It is possible to be at a bar when it opens, and stay until it closes. Even with an unfortunate bout of diarrhea about two hours in.

8. Zero cashiers think it’s cute when you purchase a pack of cigarettes with nickels and pennies.

9. Not all cheap beer is made the same. I’m looking at you, Natural Ice, you sick sonofabitch.

10. Attending class is actually pretty important. Pretend it’s work. You’ll have to do that someday, too.

11. When you and your friends rent a hot tub to put in the parking lot of your apartment complex on graduation weekend, it’s helpful to have a friend who works for the apartment rental company. She can go in early on Monday morning and erase all of the noise complaints. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the hot tub delivery guy to do a beer run. You’re in a bikini. He’ll do it.

12. Establish a bar name. Share it with creepers who you don’t want to give your real name. Do not, however, use it on the guy who is friends with your bestie. When you are in that friend’s wedding, and your real name is listed on the program, it will be awkward.

13. If you are a terrible beer bonger, STOP TRYING. You’ll just keep drenching shirts and choking.

14. Get to know people. This is the place you’ll meet some of your best friends. And maybe your future spouse.

15. But not that guy. Don’t waste too much time on that one. You know he’s not the one. Everyone knows he’s not the one.

16. When your younger brother is a freshman at the same college, make sure he lives next door so he can share the care packages that your mom sends him. You know, the ones she never sent to you. Not even when you were a homesick freshman. Not even when she’s sending them to your brother who lives right next door, did you think I wasn’t going to find out, what the hell MOM?

17. Being without a car in college sucks. But not as much as having a car. Everyone wants a ride, all the time. Kind of like owning a truck as an adult, and having to help everyone move sofas and shit every weekend.

18. A great pair of Doc Martens will get you through anything. Except snow and ice. For a shoe with such a rugged bottom, they are as slippery as a fresh pair of heels.

19. Visit your parents. But not too much.

20. Pay attention in computer lab. That internet is going to be a big deal.

Tell me what you remember from college!



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Just Add Water: My Week Condensed 2/18/13

I was pretty excited on Thursday, because for the first time in several years, I had a date for Valentine’s Day. I mean, it was a play date, and I wasn’t counting on getting lucky or getting any gifts, but I was excited anyway. We were meeting some friends to go bowling, and for once I was on time. But not really, because the kids and I went to the wrong bowling alley. Get this – the town we were in has two bowling alleys, on the same road. What the hell, right? It’s okay, though. If I wasn’t confused about the location, we would have missed seeing the most ghetto arcade ever.

 Since I’m a sucker for anything trashy, we had to take it for a spin…

…and jam to some Japanese music. Note the sweet matching Valentine’s Day warm-ups from Grandma and Grandpa. It took me two days to get the kids out of those outfits. They even slept in them.

We finally made it to the correct bowling alley, and the kids got their bowl on. Lily had fun. She even got two spares. Next time I bowl I’m going to try her winning technique of setting the ball on the floor, rolling it gently down the lane, and waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more. 

Graham was more into air hockey, and following around the token guy. Mr. Token was a total douche, but the kids thought he was the baddest mo fo in town. He did throw them a few tokens, so I guess they were able to overlook his overall jackassery.

Who says Valentine’s Day can’t be exciting once you have kids?

I made a kick ass Polka Dot Cake, and knocked out a Pinterest worthy tutorial showing you how to make your own. If you aren’t in the mood for a three-tiered, surprise inside cake, you can just use cake pop pans to make these adorable booby cakes.

I wrote a letter to my husband, sharing 10 reasons he’s still my Valentine. My kids aren’t the only family members I like to brag about, and The Doctor is a sweet piece, if you know what I mean.

We made Pineapple Glazed Ham for Crock Pot Thursday, and it was easy and tasty. If you like glazed ham, this is a good one.

I can be an awesome friend, but I also kind of suck. I made a handy dandy chart to help you decide if I’m worth it.

I finally got to share some super exciting, seriously big time news. I’m smiling just thinking about it.

Graham popping up in the window freaked me out creeper style…

…and Lily freaked me out serial killer style. 

Much like Jesus on a tortilla, I made Eggs-in-a Hole on Valentine’s Day, and check out this yolk! It’s a Valentine’s Day miracle, right?

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Big News. Big. Huge.

The past few weeks have been difficult. I’ve been talking about Crock Pot recipes, Valentine’s Day, and snow; but my mind has been completely consumed with something else. Something big is happening in my life. Something so big, that when I got the news, I cried. I couldn’t wait to tell The Doctor, but knew it was too early to share with others. But how was I going to keep this secret? Would people be able to tell just by looking at me? When they found out, would they be excited?  Well, now it’s time. No. I’m not pregnant. (That’s just some winter weight.)

I’m going to be a published author.

No lie, you guys. My words are going to be in an honest-to-goodness book. Like the kind you can buy and put on a shelf. Like the kind you can download onto your Kindle or Nook. Like the kind that will allow me to have an author page on Amazon. 
The book is a collection of humorous essays from more than thirty of the funniest bloggers out there, and I still can’t believe my name is going to be listed on the cover of a book with them. It will be published in the next month or two, and will be available for purchase here, as well as on Amazon, iTunes, Nook, and Kobo. When I am able, I will share the name of the book as well as the topic of my essay. 
For now, I am excited to share a few of the funny ladies that will also be in the book. Bloggers whose Facebook follower count exceeds my all time blog traffic numbers. I am definitely the ice cream truck to these Dairy Queens, which makes this whole thing even more special for me.

You’re probably thinking, “I can’t wait until March or April to read this hilarious best seller!” I’m feeling the same way, and have been taking the edge off by reading some older works from my co-authors. I obviously can’t share any selections from the book, but I can introduce you to the funny women in the book. Here are five, and I’ll be sharing more in the next few weeks. Fall in love with them like I have, and be ready to buy our book this spring!

People I Want to Punch in the Throat pens a beautiful letter to her secret valentine, Tina Fey.

Insane In The Mom Brain isn’t fit for jury duty. At all.

The Dose of Reality makes us feel better about our cluttered and outdated homes.

Toulouse and Tonic shares tips for getting your husband to leave work on time.

House TalkN gets naked at the YMCA.

Crock Pot Pineapple Glazed Ham

With only a few ingredients and incredibly easy directions, this Crockpot Pineapple Glazed Ham recipe is a quick and easy dinner idea your family will love! One of my sisters-in-law says this is her all-time favorite crockpot recipe!

I don’t know why, but we rarely have pineapple in our house. When we do, it goes fast, and the kids could really eat pineapple every day if they had access to it. Just another reason why we should live somewhere tropical.

Since we are most definitely not living on a dreamy island somewhere, and I can’t drink umbrella drinks every day, this Crock Pot Pineapple Glazed Ham will have to do.

This recipe is quick and easy, and it was a hit with all of the Crock Pot Thursday families, especially the kids. One of my sisters-in-law declared it her favorite Crock Pot Thursday recipe ever. That’s a serious statement, you guys.

We served it with the Pioneer Woman’s Potatoes Au Gratin, and you should, too.

 Crock Pot Pineapple Glazed Ham

Crock Pot Thursday: Pineapple Glazed Ham
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 4 thick slices of boneless ham, fully cooked (I cut mine about ¾" thick)
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place ham in greased slow cooker.
  2. Combine brown sugar, pineapple (with juice), and mustard in a separate bowl. Spread over ham. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3 hours. Enjoy!

Recipe modified from Six Sisters’ Stuff.

I used my 6.5-Quart Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker to make this.


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10 Reasons You’re Still My Valentine

Today I’m getting kind kind of mushy. Valentine’s Day sometimes does that to me, and since I didn’t get my husband anything to mark this romantic occasion, I thought writing him an open letter would be just the thing to warm the heart of my very private, non-blogging sweetheart. Enjoy!

10 Reasons You're Still My Valentine

Honey,

Since tomorrow marks our 13th Valentine’s Day together, I wanted to do something really big to show you how much I love you. Everyone knows thirteen is a special number, that it’s lucky or something. Or is it unlucky? I can’t remember. Anyway, I still want to do something special for you. No, not that. The time has come for you to finally accept that that is never going to happen. What I’m going to do is even better! This year, I’m writing you a letter, and sharing it with a bunch of strangers. How’s that for romance?

You know that I love you. That I consider our relationship to be my greatest blessing. I fell in love with you hard, I knew early on that I wanted to marry you, and I have never regretted becoming your wife. Our relationship has always been easy. Some days have been easier than others, but most of our fights are over roommate stuff, and I have always felt safe with you. Even though your teeth sometimes touch your fork (which you know makes me batshit crazy), and you think it’s okay to leave your dirty socks on the living room floor, I know I married up. Everyone else knows it, too. I remember seeing the visible relief in my dad’s face when I brought you home that first time.

So as we weather our relationship’s teenage years, I want you to know I still appreciate so many things about you.

10 Reasons You’re Still My Valentine

1. You suffer (mostly) silently in your wrinkled shirts because I am terrible at folding laundry in a timely manner, and the suggestion that I get out the iron would make me die laughing.

2. You let me think I’m doing my part when I shovel the snow off of our four front steps and you shovel the walkway, the driveway, and the back patio.

3. You watch The Mindy Project with me, even though you don’t think it’s delightful and hilarious like I do. In fact, you think it’s dumb. You know what? You’re dumb! Oh honey, you’re not dumb. I’m sorry. You know how protective I am of my shows.

4. You buy me Swedish Fish for Valentine’s Day. (This is a reminder to buy me Swedish Fish for Valentine’s Day.)

5. When we were living in different cities after I graduated from college, you drove five hours each way every weekend to see me. Good thing you still had your mom’s gas card. Thanks, Linda! I hope the two grandchildren we made for you are payment enough for the gas money we spent.

6. Even though you have a PhD and work for a prestigious university, you favor t shirts instead of tweed blazers with elbow patches.

7. You co-created my very favorite boy and girl.

8. You edit my posts, even when you have been writing and editing your own papers or grant proposals for hours. I know you much prefer sports blogs to my blog, but would it kill you to crack a smile once in a while? And if I leave another woman’s page open on my computer and you read some of it, don’t even think about laughing. Are you crazy? You think she’s funnier than me? Don’t you know that’s like another man touching your grill?

9. Sunday, when I was hungover from our blizzard party, you walked in the unplowed street to the closest gas station to get me a Diet Pepsi. That was after you got me a Diet Coke from the neighbors. It’s things like that that make me want to walk through fire for you. That make me willing to do that one thing. No, not that one thing. Seriously, let it go.

10. You tolerate my writing about all sorts of things that you consider too personal to be sharing with the world, including this post. You are a good sport, and while you probably never imagined my inappropriateness would be shared on this sort of scale, you support me anyway.

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day!



Polka Dot Cake

Step by step instructions on making a polka dot cake perfect for baby showers, bridal showers, or birthday parties. Everyone loves a surprise inside cake!

Recently I co-hosted a baby shower for my friend, Laura. If you ever have the chance to co-host something, you should totally do it. Well, you should totally do it if your friend Kathryn  is really hosting it, and by bringing a casserole, you get to be a co-host. That’s how it worked for this baby shower, and it was awesome. Now that I think about it, I’m “co-hosting” a school Valentine’s Day party or two this week.

I really like Laura, and I’m super excited she and her husband are having a baby. They are great people, and are going to raise an outstanding human. I always like it when my friends have their first baby, because they think I’m some kind of expert. As soon as you have your own kid, you realize all moms are sort of stumbling through parenting, and unless it’s written down, all conversations about when any major milestones happened are estimates at best. I have very little recollection of how I got my kids to sleep through the night, when we went from three naps to two, and how I weaned my babies. My pregnant friends don’t know that yet, and I can offer advice like the expert I’m supposed to be.

Anyway, for this shower, I made a polka dot cake, and since I’ve been on Pinterest quite a bit lately, I got more creative than I normally would. And by that, I mean I made the bombest, most ass-kicking cake I’ve ever made. And I’m going to show you how I did it, so you can do it, too, and so I can brag about my cake some more.

I got the idea from Once Upon a Pedestal, thought it was adorable, and thought it would be a good excuse to buy a cake pop pan. Other things I needed were:

  • Cake pop pan (oh, did I already say that?)
  • 2 boxes white cake mix
  • food coloring
  • 3 six-inch round pans (I had one that I used in three separate batches)
Step One: Mix one box of cake mix, using the egg white version to keep that batter nice and white. Separate half of the batter into how ever many colors wanted for the polka dots. I was doing four colors, so I put the batter into four ramekins and added food coloring to each.
Protect your batter from little fingers.

Step Two: Grease the cake pop pan and dust with flour. Do this to both the top half and the bottom half. Add the colored batter, filling the bottom half of the pan per the pan directions. The balls need to cook just long enough that they will come out of the pan clean, but so they aren’t completely cooked, since they will be covered in batter and cooked again. Mine took about 10-15 minutes.

When the balls are done, they will probably erupt out of the top of the pan. That’s okay, because someone will be wanting to eat some cake at this point, and the erupted tops will take the edge off. The balls will also need to be trimmed around the edges. Go ahead and eat that, too, or give it to your whiny kids who don’t understand why you are making cake and they don’t get any.

Step Three: Grease and flour the round cake pan, put enough batter in the bottom to cover it, and place enough cake balls in that each slice will have a color variety. Cover with more batter, filling the pan to the halfway point, and spooning batter over the top of the balls to cover them. Bake according to the cake mix directions.

Repeat those steps as many times as needed until all three tiers are done. The cakes may come out with a rounded top, and since the layers will be stacked, they need to be nice and flat. I let mine cool upside down, which helped flatten the top a bit, and before taking them out of the pan, I placed a damp paper towel on top and pressed down. It flattened the rounded top like magic!

Step Four: Pop them in the freezer for a few hours or overnight before frosting. While you wait, I’ve got something hilarious to show you. Not all of the tops erupted. Some of them just nippled.

If you aren’t laughing, you aren’t me.

Don’t think I didn’t consider if I could use these beauties as cake toppers. Ultimately I decided against it, but I did show these pictures at the baby shower. Maybe I’ll make my husband some cake boobs for Valentine’s Day.

Step Five: Once the cakes are cold and set, they are ready for the crumb layer. I made my own white buttercream icing, because it is super easy and so much better than store bought. I would share the recipe, but I can’t remember where I got it from. Guess I should have pinned it! Frost all three tiers, with a generous layer of icing between the tiers. This layer of frosting doesn’t need to be perfect, since its purpose is to seal in the crumbs for the next layer. The pretty layer.

Step Six: Let that crumb layer cool, and frost it again.

To decorate my cake, I colored the same buttercream frosting light blue, and did a rim of blue dots along the bottom of the cake. No elaborate frosting techniques for this girl. For the top, I cut strips of parchment paper, laid the strips over the cake, and dusted blue sugar on the top. The blue sugar was made from plain white sugar with  the teeniest drop of blue food coloring. I actually dropped the food coloring into a teaspoon, and then put half of the drop in the sugar because I wanted it baby blue. To make a crisscross pattern, I laid the parchment paper the other direction and repeated the sugar dusting.

Next time, I’ll put more cake balls in, and use more colors. You guys have no idea how excited I am to pin this shizz.

Just Add Water: My Week Condensed 2/11/13

I wrote some stuff and cooked some stuff last week, and over the weekend, I shoveled some stuff. Snow. I’m talking about snow. Three feet of it fell in about 24 hours, and it was crazy y’all! Luckily, the blizzard hit over the weekend, most of the snowfall was that nice light powder making for easier shoveling, and when it stopped snowing, the sun came out. Our roads weren’t plowed until Monday morning, so we couldn’t go anywhere, and I loved it. We got the fire pit going on Sunday night, and had a blizzard party with some neighbors. We stayed up late, we drank all the beer, and this morning I smell like campfire. I love the smell of campfire, and I was thrilled to enjoy one of my favorite summer things surrounded by walls of snow and good friends.

 When Graham woke up on Saturday morning, I told him to look out the window. “I can’t!” he exclaimed. I loved how the snow in the windows made it look like we were at a ski lodge.

 Lily couldn’t find her Hermione wand. “Maybe it’s in the car,” she suggested. “Mom, go look!” Sorry, sis. Not today.

My five year old loved walking in the middle of the road. I loved that he wanted to hold my hand.

My kids think my husband is the funny one in our house. If I did more fart jokes, I could totally be funnier than him.

I wrote my most embarrassing story to date. If you know me in real life, I’m really sorry for the visual.

We made pork carnitas on Crock Pot Thursday, and it was a hit. I will be making this easy and delicious recipe again soon.

Between catfishing and webcam Peeping Toms, the internet is starting to freak me out. If you spy on me through my webcam, here are five things you may see.

5 Things A Webcam Peeping Tom Might Catch Me Doing

Technology is starting to freak me out. Have you guys heard about “catfishing”? I just read about it on Toulouse and Tonic, and I immediately had to Google the shizz out of it. Like the rest of America, I heard the story of Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o being duped into falling in love with a fictional woman, but I didn’t know the phenomenon had a name. Since I am a stay at home mom in the suburbs, I rely heavily on Urban Dictionary to teach me about all the foreign terms I read about on the internet, and its definition of catfishing is The phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time).” There is a documentary called Catfish and a MTV series, too. They both follow the story of online relationships, and how they aren’t always what they seem.

Since starting this blog, I have made some blogging friends. These are women I have never met, whose pictures I’ve seen online, and who I have corresponded with via Facebook, Twitter, and email. How do I know that instead of moms like me, they aren’t confused, overweight men in their twenties, honing their catfishing skills on me before hooking a college football star? I think I’m going to have to insist we meet face to face before I can get in any deeper. Ladies, send me plane fare, and I’ll book my flight to come visit!

Even scarier than fake internet girlfriends is webcam spying. Internet predators can gain remote access to a victim’s webcam, and spy without ever being discovered. What if my webcam is on right now, with some creepy internet Peeping Tom watching me while I crinkle my nose trying to find the right adjective for this post? I recently saw a laptop that had duct tape covering the webcam opening, and my assumption was that the owner was afraid of accidentally Skyping someone while looking at embarrassing things online. Turns out, he was afraid of some peeper seeing him picking his nose while Googling sports stuff. Since my laptop is open pretty much all day long, a webcam Peeping Tom could really get an eyeful from my computer.

  1. Laughing. At my kids, You Tube videos, ridiculous crafts that I pin on Pinterest, and Facebook status updates. Often my own, if you must know. I think I’m sooo clever.
  2. Eating raw cookie dough out of a ziploc bag. And peanut butter off of a spoon. We call those “peanut butter lollipops” up in here. The things I eat in front of my computer is probably the most embarrassing thing I do.
  3. Cooking. Generally, I read a recipe out loud, walk to the fridge, forget what I needed, walk back to the computer, read the ingredients again, and go back to the fridge. This may happen four or five times. I repeat the process with spices and dry goods.
  4. Watching TV with my husband after the kids go to bed, and saying “Who is that guy? No, like in real life. What else is he in? Is that the guy who was dating that one chick?” I then roll my eyes, because The Doctor never knows a damn thing about celebrity relationships. I look it up on IMDb and share my findings with my disinterested husband.
  5. I frequently select a chunk of my atypically long hair, and pull it into a Tom Selleck mustache. I should probably get my hair cut, since I can’t be sure I don’t do this out in public, and I’m many things, but I’m no Tom Selleck. 
Luckily my laptop is never in my bedroom, so any peeper that actually gained access into my webcam wouldn’t have access to any of the good stuff. Unless nail biting and online shopping is what he’s into.

Crock Pot Pork Carnitas

You won't believe how great these Crockpot Pork Carnitas taste! Give this easy and delicious crockpot pork recipe a try!

I love me some carnitas, and these Crock Pot Pork Carnitas did not disappoint. Every one of the Crock Pot Thursday families really liked it, with one reviewer saying it just might be her favorite one yet. One family would have added another jalapeno, and would have left the orange out of the slow cooker, but everyone else thought the spice was just right.

The best idea came from my sister-in-law, Kim, who after taking the meat out of the pot, blended the juices/veggies/orange pulp into a sauce she says was amazing. Look at how gorgeous Kim’s sauce looks in the image below!

Most of us served our carnitas with tortillas and a variety of toppings, including onions, cilantro, black beans, guacamole, sour cream, hot sauce, and cheese. I turned what we had left into BBQ pulled pork by adding some Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce to it for our Super Bowl get together. They made some bomb sandwiches.

I used my 6.5-Quart Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker to make this Crock Pot Pork Carnitas recipe. (affiliate link)

Crock Pot Pork Carnitas

Crock Pot Pork Carnitas
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is an easy and delicious way to make Crock Pot Pork Carnitas!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (or 2½ pounds bone-in)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, chopped
  • 1 orange, cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, optional
Instructions
  1. Rinse and dry the pork shoulder. Salt and pepper liberally.
  2. Mix the oregano and the cumin with olive oil and rub all over pork.
  3. Place the pork in a slow cooker and top with the onion, garlic, and jalapeno.
  4. Squeeze over the juice of the orange and add the two halves.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high 4 hours.
  6. Once the meat is tender, remove from slow cooker and let cool slightly before pulling apart with a fork.
  7. Once the meat is removed from the slow cooker, blend the juices/veggies/orange pulp into a sauce. Set aside for serving.
  8. If desired, In a large saute pan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Press the carnitas into the oil and fry until crusty on one side before serving.
  9. Serve on tortillas with blended sauce drizzled over the top, and add favorite toppings, which may included: cheese, onions, hot sauce, salsa, black beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, sour cream, or guacamole.

Pork Carnitas recipe modified from Melissa d’Arabian of the Food Network.

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Don’t Get a Brazilian Wax When You’re Eight Months Pregnant

Are you pregnant and considering a Brazilian wax before giving birth? Read this before booking that appointment!

When I was eight months pregnant with my first child, after worrying about everything from whether my son would have my nose and if my water would break in the grocery store, I turned my focus to fretting about what would happen in the delivery room. Would it be cold? Would the anesthesiologist screw up my epidural and kill me? Would I be able to get an epidural? Would I crap on the table? Would I tell my husband I hate him? Would I hate him?

I knew I wouldn’t be able to control many things about that experience, so I fixated on what I could control. I got a pedicure, I practiced my rhythmic breathing, and I scheduled a Brazilian wax. Childbirth might be a total shit storm, my toes and lady bits would look nice.

In hindsight, I realize maybe we had to borrow a car seat to bring my boy home from the hospital because I needed to concentrate less on my pubic hair and more on securing baby essentials.

I had never completely waxed my whisker biscuit, and I wasn’t sure if I should be getting a Brazilian wax when pregnant, but I was too embarrassed to ask my obstetrician if it was a good idea or not. Never mind that a few years later I would be sharing the entire tale on the internet, and there I was, too shy to ask my doctor. This is only one poor decision I make in this story.

I thought, I have a couple of professional bikini waxes under my belt, and really it’s the same thing, right? With that, I booked my appointment at the same time as a few friends who were, and still are, fans of heavily landscaped downstairs.

We arrived at the salon, and waited in a foyer filled with cozy chairs, cool art, and a table piled high with photo albums of the previous clients’ “after” pictures. Men and women. Front and back. To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about what style I wanted. My friends had, though, and my head spun with the number of options for freeing pubic areas from the confines of their natural pelts.

The business was set up as one big room, with walls that were about ten feet tall forming the smaller “rooms” and a curtain as the doors. This allowed some privacy, but there was still the feeling of openness. It also meant any screaming would be heard by all. I was nervous, but I figured people do this all the time. How bad could it be? Also, I wax my upper lip and eyebrows frequently. That meant I was pretty tough, right? In a month I was planning on pushing a baby out of that same area, so a little hair removal had to be manageable.

Finally, it was my turn. I made pleasantries with my waxologist, or esthetician as I learned they are actually called, and was led to my room (the one closest to the door and the waiting area) and given my instructions. She left the room while I disrobed, laid on the table, and draped my fur with the sheet. It was chilly, but I was sweating. Was it too late to back out? What the hell did I care if I wasn’t freshly waxed for the big day? I’m sure my doctor and the hospital staff had seen worse. To this day, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have put a stop to the whole thing if my ride wasn’t spread eagle in the next room getting hot wax applied to her butt.

The waxidermist came back in, and we got started. She slid a dollop of warm wax onto my bikini area, and it felt nice. When she firmly attached the strip to the wax, that was pleasant, too. That was the end of the nice stuff.

She expertly began her task, and my brain was screaming, but my face was still calm. Then she had me grab my knee and pull it to my chest. This was difficult, actually impossible, but I pulled my leg up as far as I could with my gigantic belly, and waited. As the hair was ripped from my body, I began to wonder if my nether regions were going to be able to handle the rigors of childbirth if they protested so violently at a waxing. I cried. I sweated profusely. I was shaking so much we had to take a break.

Also, I was pissed. Pissed at our society that tells women this garbage is necessary, and so prevalent that there are businesses dedicated almost solely to pubic hair removal, pissed at my friends for bringing me to this torture chamber, but mostly pissed at myself for being such a wimp. I was having a difficult time talking myself into continuing, but I couldn’t stop yet. I was lopsided! I bit my lip, dug deep for strength, and gave the wax wielder a “let’s do this” nod.

She waxed, I whimpered, and I was eventually allowed to lower my legs. They were numb. I wished the rest of me was, too. I suggested an epidural service be added to the establishment’s a la carte menu. The esthetician smiled, dipped her wax, and told me to get on all fours. I sighed the sad, sad sigh of the broken, and complied. I felt sorry for myself, I felt sorry for this woman who removed asshole hair for a living, and I was exhausted. One more time, I pulled my strength, and I clenched my jaw. She set to work, and while she was waxing, she said, “You know, during pregnancy you have more blood flowing to your genitals. This makes waxing much more painful.”

What? WHAT?! We’re more than halfway done and I’m just hearing that now? She continues, “I’m really impressed that you were brave enough to try this for the first time with that much more sensation down here.”

Two things went through my mind. First, I wasn’t as much of a pussy as I thought. Second, I could stop. And that’s just what I did. I wasn’t done, but I wasn’t lopsided. Good enough. A vast improvement over what was happening down there when I walked in, and being on all fours with a stranger eyeing my butthole while I was eight months pregnant was a great story. I considered the day a success. I planned to come back when I could pop some ibuprofen and have a few drinks, and when my body wasn’t preparing for the miracle of childbirth.

I never did.



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Funny Stuff

A hilarious collection of books, perfect for the moms in your life!

The Funny One

My kids think my husband is hi-larious, and I’m not gonna lie; this really pisses me off. Everyone knows I’m funnier than he is, just like everyone knows he’s smarter than I am. Not the kids. They think he’s smarter and funnier, and that is such bullshit.

The Doctor loves to tease our three and five year old, but I think the kids love it more. I know it’s helping develop their appreciation for dry humor and sarcasm, traits I truly appreciate. I really love a person with a jovial and lively personality, but my deepest appreciation is for those with quick wit and understated hilarity. Some people want their kids to grow up to be lawyers or athletes; my dreams for my kids involves humor, likability, and a strong sense of self. I almost never think about what their professions might be, only that they are kind, healthy, and happy. And funny.

A common theme has The Doctor purposely misunderstanding something the kids say, like this:

The Doctor: Hey Graham, who did you sit by at lunch today?
Graham: Tommy.
The Doctor: Who sat on your other side?
Graham: I can’t remember.
The Doctor: There’s an I Can’t Remember in your class?
Graham: No! That’s not a person! You asked who sat next to me, and I can’t remember.
The Doctor: That’s a pretty funny name.
Graham: It’s not a name!
The Doctor: Oh, like a nickname?
Graham: laughing There isn’t anyone in my class named I Can’t Remember!
The Doctor: Why were you sitting next to someone that isn’t in your class?

This goes on for several minutes more, with our kindergartner pretending to be frustrated and annoyed, and my husband pretending to be confused. By the end, the story is that I Can’t Remember’s parents forgot what they were going to name him, and when the hospital asked what the baby was to be called, they said “I can’t remember” and it was recorded as the name.

Or this one from the dinner table last week:

Lily: Everyone’s in their own chair.
The Doctor: pointing to his recliner That’s my chair.
Lily: No! Their eating chairs!
The Doctor: We don’t eat our chairs.
Lily: laughing DA-ddy! The chairs we sit in when we eat!
Graham: smirking and joining in the game Maybe she means the chairs are going to eat us.
Lily: exasperated Noooo!
The Doctor: Oh, good. I thought you wanted me to eat my chair. I don’t want to eat my chair. Chairs aren’t for eating.

According to Graham and Lily, this bit is comedy gold. They are at the dinner table, folded over in convulsions, totally losing their shit.

My kids love that stuff. I think it’s somewhat amusing, too, since anytime we mess with the kids it’s at least entertaining, but I can already tell I’m going to be left out of some family jokes. That’s okay. They can have their fart jokes and wrestling matches, and I won’t feel bad. I don’t think I’ve ever even cracked a smile the times he’s ripped one and blamed it on me. The kids adore that joke. I’m just happy for my husband. He finally has someone other than the dog to appreciate his gift of gas.

Just Add Water: My Week Condensed 2/4/13

Yesterday was Super Snack Sunday, a special day for snack lovers to come together and enjoy the very best snacks of the year. At our house, that looked like chips, dips, several deep fried meats, and mountains of chicken wings. There was a football game on, too. No lie you guys, until game time, I thought the Harbaugh brothers played for the Super Bowl contending teams, not that they were the coaches. 
Lily and I knocked out a couple of play dates last week, which was as fun for me as it was for her. I love getting together with my friends and their kids. I leave feeling refreshed, connected, and happy. Not all play dates are made equally, though. I broke down the play date for anyone who feels their play date experiences need some work.
I have been contemplating changing the commenting section of this blog for some time now, and last week I pulled the trigger and installed CommentLuv. For a few days, readers comments were disappearing, which was really bumming me out; and now the old comments are hidden, and the old posts can’t be comment on.  Obviously I don’t like this, and am still debating what I should do. I adore comments, and I don’t want to lose even one, but I do want to make commenting easy for anyone who has something to say. (Except you, spammers.) If you are a blogger, or a commenter, feel free to weigh in on this topic. I would love to hear your thoughts!
I was scrolling through pictures on my phone, and was cracking up at some of the pictures I’ve taken of my kids when they are unhappy. So many times I’ve caught them in a situation where the last thing they need is a camera in their face, but I am so amused, I have to capture the moment. I am not alone. Thanks to camera phones, this generation of children will have every embarrassing moment captured. Just yesterday I made a shit joke via text with a friend, and she responded with a picture of one of her kid’s first-poop-in-the-potty pictures. I didn’t think it was weird that she took a picture of her kids’s crap. I did the same thing when we were potty training. Didn’t you?
We made Nora Ephron’s World’s Greatest Chili for Crock Pot Thursday, and it was a hit. My brother-in-law took the photo for the post, and his wife’s dishes were talked about more than the chili. Her entire kitchen collection is to be envied. Especially by me, since most of our dishware is from Ikea.
I confessed that we weren’t nearly as prepared for our first child’s birth as we should have been. The only person who has admitted she was as unprepared as I was is Lisa from The Dose of Reality, who was working 80-100 hour weeks, and whose baby arrived over a month early. Both of her reasons are way better than mine. Don’t worry, it turned out fine for them. Her husband went to Babies R Us and bought every single thing, all by himself. I’ll bet that was a sight! I picture it sort of like that scene in Pretty Woman, when Vivian and Edward are shopping, with Babies R Us employees surrounding him and presenting car seat and bottle warmer options. He sips a latte and points to his selections, while the staff runs around fulfilling his shopping demands. I’ll bet it was exactly like that.

My streak of People I Want to Punch in the Throat comments being highlighted continues, if you can call three weeks in a row a streak. I totally do. Mine’s the one about library toilet books. You’ll never look at library books the same!

If you are like me, you are sick and tired of hearing about the Circle of Moms Top 25 contest. We’ve got a bit over a week left, and I won’t be in top 25, but I would like to land somewhere above 50. Circle of Moms chooses three up and coming bloggers as their Blogs to Watch, and I’ve got my eye on that prize! You can vote once every 24 hours from each electronic device. Thank you!

Preparing For Baby: What NOT To Do

I love those hilarious lists that compare first pregnancies with subsequent pregnancies. Everyone is so excited for that first baby; the nursery is ready by week 25, names are secured by the end of the first trimester, and daycare options are scouted preconception. Any baby born afterwards is thrown in the older sibling’s hand me down gear, and diapers are purchased on the way home from the hospital.

These lists are funny, but they make me feel a little bit guilty. My firstborn’s experience wasn’t nearly as golden as it was obviously supposed to be.

I am a top-notch procrastinator. You give me nine months to do something, and I’m going to put it off until eight and a half months. I read all about my pregnancy, relishing in the weekly email updates telling me what kind of fruit my baby resembled, and cheating by reading ahead in my daily update book. Daily updates? Gimme a break. The only thing more ridiculous than daily updates on how my peanut was turning into a walnut, were the suggestions for how to keep dad involved in the pregnancy. One time I was able to talk my husband into giving me a two minute shoulder massage, but besides that, he didn’t do one damn thing those books suggested. No foot rubs, no pedicures, and not one late night run to satisfy any kind of craving.

He did take on some additional responsibilities around the house during the first trimester, when preparing any kind of food that wasn’t Cinnamon Toast Crunch or ramen noodles made me puke, but that wasn’t because he read it in any book. The man was hungry. The only other task he took on was picking up the dog’s poop, and I’ll admit: His taking my share of that crap job was worth an entire pregnancy’s worth of back rubs.

We did do some preparing for our baby. A friend who already had kids gave me a list of things I would need and things to avoid. I pretty much registered for all of the things she told me to, considered myself done, and took a nap. Christmas came, and we received many of the things from our registry. We didn’t have a car seat yet, and we hadn’t decided on what crib we wanted. No biggie, we had until the end of May to work that out.

We got the guest room and the junk room consolidated into the guest/junk room, so the extra bedroom could be turned into the nursery. We got some hand-me-downs, and we hung up some of those baby clothes, left the rest in the garbage bags they came in, and shoved the bags in the back of the closet.

I’m not sure what happened, but May came, and we still had no crib or car seat. We did, however, have a baby. Since I went into labor three weeks early, we only made it to two childbirth classes, and luckily one of them was on pain management.  My husband had to borrow a car seat from a coworker to bring our son home from the hospital. Once we were home, our sweet boy slept in a Pack n Play for four months because we asked the family member who was going to buy us a crib to buy us an air conditioner instead. It was really hot that spring.

Gear wasn’t the only thing we neglected to secure before our boy arrived. We hadn’t decided on his name until after he was born. If I couldn’t pull the trigger on a crib design, how was I supposed to choose a name for someone I’d never met? A name he’d have for his whole life? I love my son’s name, and I love the family member he was named after, but I wasn’t sure we made the right choice for several weeks.

I didn’t start shopping daycare locations until I was halfway through my maternity leave. Every time I would start the process, I would end up rocking my boy and crying. I didn’t want to go back to work, and I sure as shit didn’t want to leave my son, so I ignored the situation, thinking it would go away. It did not, and I eventually put my big girl panties on and found a great daycare. Just kidding about the big girl panties. I had just had a baby. My panties were gigantic.

Here’s the deal: If this was the best we could do for my firstborn, what was going to happen with the second? How could we possibly neglect her more than her brother? Well, we didn’t. It’s not so much that we did things better, we just had less to do. We already had all the gear, so we didn’t need to borrow anything to get her home, and since I wasn’t working, I had time to nest. She had a freshly painted nursery, with stuff on the walls, and a crib. No Pack n Play for that girl!

In fact, not only was our second child not neglected any more than her brother, my poor little two year-old was the one that got the short end again when his sister was born. She was in the hospital for most of that first week, and when I did get home with our girl, she was on my tit 24/7. To say my son spent a lot of time in front of the TV would be an understatement. He will never complain about his time with Mickey and the gang, but it’s not winning me any parenting awards.

As an older child myself, I understand how it’s going to be for my firstborn. While they both live in our house, he will be responsible for helping his little sister with things she can’t manage on her own. Right now, that means reaching the cereal and opening the peanut butter, but down the road it will mean giving her rides, and keeping her away from creepy upperclassmen. He did get two years of only child adoration, but being the firstborn has more responsibilities than perks. Maybe I should have painted his nursery and picked out a crib to show my appreciation for years of helping me with his little sister. He at least deserved his own car seat.

Crock Pot World’s Greatest Chili

This crockpot chili is my favorite chili recipe EVER. It's a great meal for dinner or a party food, and your family will love it!

I’m excited to share this chili recipe for two reasons. One, it’s my all time very favorite chili recipe. The title makes a strong statement, but the chili backs it up. It is bold and smokey, and it has a wonderful depth of flavor. I love that it has both beef and pork in it, and that the directions demand it be served with Fritos (cornbread is also a great choice.)

The second reason I am excited to share this is because it is Nora Ephron’s recipe. In addition to her many talents as a writer, she was a skilled cook, and shared recipes anonymously on Food52. I love that her lasting legacy spans books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, movies, and food. This is the slow cooked version of her stovetop chili. This chili has some heat, so if you plan on feeding it to kids, hold half of the cayenne. 

World’s Greatest Crock Pot Chili

Crock Pot Thursday: World’s Greatest Chili
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • ¼ pound butter
  • 1 35-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 15-oz cans pinto beans
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅔ cups chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. If possible, ask a butcher to grind the beef and pork so that it's not as fine-ground as regular hamburger meat. But if you have no butcher, ordinary ground beef and pork is fine.
  2. Drain the beans and rinse. Put them in slow cooker with tomatoes.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and gently cook the peppers. When soft, add the onions and cook gently.
  4. Add the garlic for a minute or so. Dump into the slow cooker.
  5. Melt half the butter and cook the beef and pork until no longer raw. Add the spices and stir. Add to slow cooker and add the rest of the butter.
  6. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Add salt and pepper if you want.
  7. Serve with sour cream, chopped onion, cheese, and Fritos.

I used my 6.5-Quart Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker to make the World’s Greatest Crock Pot Chili.


The Camera and the Cranky Kid

I think my kids are hi-larious, and I find them the most humorous when they are unhappy. I don’t have time to wonder what that says about me as a mom, because I’m too busy taking pictures of these situations with my phone. Here is some photo evidence of my amusement.

You say, “Holy shit! Do we need to call poison control?!” I say, “Aw, Lily! Yes, your lipstick looks amazing. Give me all the markers, and go show your dad. But first, let me take a picture real quick before he cleans you up.”

You say, “Oh no! She cut her own hair!” I say, “Huh. I thought it looked like you had layers now. When did you do that? Oh, two days ago? Well, let me get a picture real quick before we have the scissors talk. Where ARE those scissors?” (See marker lipstick picture for the new layers. I think she did a nice job.)

You say, “What an adorable Harry Potter!” I say, “That’s right, and he’s even cuter when I’m making him give me one of his treats. Hey, Graham, hold that pose while I take a picture real quick.”

You may say, “Oh, poor bud. He had dental work done.” I say, “Hey, receptionist lady, doesn’t it look like my kid is chewing on a tampon? Let me take a picture real quick before we make his follow-up appointment.”

You say, “Look at that adorable little girl hiding under the table. Wait. What? What is she…is she eating the under-the-table gum?!” I say, “Gross! Knock it off! But before you get up, look over here.”

“Let me get a picture real quick.” 



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The secret reason I became a mom.

Anatomy Of A Play Date

I love a good play date. I can catch up with my friends while the kids entertain each other, I get to snack on sugary treats, and everyone naps well afterwards. Not all play dates are made the same, however, and there are several key components to keep in mind when planning a get together with a posse of littles.

Time Of Day
For morning play dates, it’s important to get the party started late enough that the big kids are off to school and the little kids have had had breakfast, but not too late that it’s nearly lunch time by the time the group is assembled. If you want to cram enough playing in before lunch time, ten am is a good time to start. That means everyone should plan on arriving at 9:30, as people traveling with children run about 30 minutes late. Babies like to poop when the car is being loaded up, and time needs to be allowed for fights about shoes. “Yes, honey. You have to wear shoes. No, they can’t be Mommy’s heels.”

Don’t be rude and show up when the host told you to come. She isn’t ready for you yet, because her kid peed on the floor and she still needs to brush her teeth.

For afternoon play dates, right after school or naps is a good time to kick things off, otherwise it creeps into dinner time. I actually like a dinner play date, as there is usually wine, unlike most morning play dates. Unless you are related to the host, or it’s during the summer, do not get together after dinner. Don’t you know it’s damn near bedtime?

Someone's getting naked and a drink will be spilled. Play date or Saturday night?
If you can, put the kids to work. What? Gardening is fun!

The Spread
Even though everyone’s children will have eaten immediately before arriving at the play date, they will be starving as soon as they walk in the door. Shoes and coats will be dumped in the doorway, and snacking will commence. It’s important to have the two major food groups represented: crackers and fruit. Nearly any cracker is acceptable, with the obvious exception of any that have seeds, seasonings, or dark colored details on them. What I’m saying is, no fancy crackers. If you are confused by this, stick with Goldfish.

Every parent should have extra Goldfish on hand on for serving at play dates and for bringing to play dates. Donut holes make a great play date treat, too. I like that I can eat about 17 of them without anyone noticing, and it’s easy to blame it on the kids. If you are fancy or healthy, substitute a pastry of your choosing, and enjoy them while you judge my Dunkin Donuts Munchkins.

If you are hosting a morning play date, plan for guests like me, who will stay for lunch. Don’t worry…we’re not picky. We’ll eat whatever you have!

The Gear
A gigantic pile of dress-up clothes will keep both boys and girls entertained for quite some time. If you have more than three girls in attendance, you’ll need about 463 pieces of jewelry, otherwise there isn’t enough to share. If you have more than three boys, you’ll need the same number of weapons. Don’t get worked up over my gender stereotyping. Sometimes the girls play with the swords and light sabers, and the boys put the jewelry on, but those times are few and far between once the kids get bigger.

If there will be babies at the party, pack away the little pieces, and get out the Little People. Also, you’ll need about one bulk size box of Goldfish for every three babies. No, they won’t eat that many. Most will be spilled on the floor to be stepped on by a herd of children. Cheerios are also acceptable for snacking and smashing into the carpet.

Someone's getting naked and a drink will be spilled. Playdate or Saturday night?
Play date rule #47: Couches aren’t for sitting.

Special Circumstances 
Don’t leave elaborate Lego creations out when little kids come over unless your five-year-old enjoys coming home from school and rebuilding his X Wing Starfighter, and seeing Hagrid’s Hut transformed into a pile of rubble.

If you have three little girls waiting for lunch and only one pink plate, keep that plate out of sight, unless you enjoy your lunch with a side of little girl tears. If it is a morning play date, have troughs of coffee. If it’s an afternoon or early evening play date, have wine.

A good play date is mostly calm with a splash of wild. Someone will take their clothes off, and here will be fighting. Someone will get hurt. Things will get broken, and there will be crying when it’s time to leave.

As long as it’s only the kids that do these things, consider it a success.

Someone's getting naked and a drink will be spilled. Play date or Saturday night?
I’m not above a little screen time if things get too wild.

What are your play date dos and don’ts?

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Just Add Water: My Week Condensed 1/28/13

Last week was awesome in a sucky sort of way. My three year old was sick most of the week, and we hung pretty close to home. It was sad seeing her uncomfortable, but awesome in that I didn’t wear a bra for the majority of the week. It’s a good thing society dictates certain grooming and wardrobe behaviors, because left to my own devices, I could get pretty comfortable. And pretty disgusting. I did take some care in my appearance over the weekend, as I co-hosted a baby shower on Saturday, and took Lily to a birthday party on Sunday. A friend at the birthday party told me my boobs looked longer from my bra-less week, and I’m hoping she was just screwing with me.

I did something dumb, you guys. I watched live TV with my kids. I knew my kids were susceptible to children’t commercials, but as it turns out, they have some thoughts on products for grown-ups, too. It sounds like my kids aren’t the only ones who fall prey to advertisers. A friend commented on Facebook that commercials have convinced her five year old daughter that they need a Roomba, and has her asking “Mommy? What’s Viagra?”

My husband and I have similar parenting philosophies, but we go about it in very different manners. Both roles are important, but it’s obvious that he’s the fun parent. It’s probably like this at your house, too.

Last week’s Crock Pot Thursday recipe was a bust for most of the Crock Pot Thursday crew. Ours turned out okay, but we won’t be making it again. My pregnant sister-in-law was sick all day from the smell, and I feel bad that I laughed when she told me she threw up at least 20 times that day. I’ve been that pregnant lady, and it’s not funny. Not really.

I called a stranger a name, to his face, which was totally out of character, and had an interesting outcome.

I was excited to be featured at Mamapedia last week, talking about the made-up games my kids play.

I read some funny shit last week, including:
Henry Huggins, 2013 remix at subtracting additives
and this beautiful piece by Shelly at La Tejana.
Blog commenting is an art, and Jen at People I Want to Punch in the Throat shares her favorite comments from the previous week in her weekly wrap up. I’ve had a comment highlighted two weeks in a row now, and I wear that distinction with an inappropriate amount of pride.

There are more than 150 funny mom bloggers stumping for votes for this year’s Circle of Moms Top 25, and I’m one of them! You can vote every day until February 13th, and you can vote for as many funny ladies as you want. There are some hilarious broads on that list, and it’s fun being on the same list as blogs I’ve been reading for years (even if they’re near the top, and I’m near the bottom). Click here or on the pink circle below to head over and vote, and click on the orange button next to my listing if you like my words.

Don’t Be A Dick

At the end of the flight, all I wanted to do was to get off the plane. No matter how many times I fly, I can’t wrap my mind around the time between the wheels touching the runway, and my feet touching the jetway. The ten minute wait to leave my seat always feels much longer. On this day, our layover was only 37 minutes, and that’s not much time, especially with a three and five year old who would need to pee, would walk slow, and would not understand moving with a sense of urgency for at least five more years.

The kids had been great on the flight. It was a short two hour leg, and even though we had left our house at 4 am, we were all excited for our adventure. A backpack full of snacks, toys, and movies kept them entertained, and while I gathered all of these items to deplane, I also collected compliments from fellow passengers. People have heard horror stories about kids on airplanes, and I can see the panic in their eyes when my children and I are seated nearby. When my kids aren’t the seat-kicking screamers they are expected to be, everyone is relieved and overly complimentary. “Your kids did so well!” from the woman in front of us. “Good job, Mom,” from the suit behind us. The elderly couple across from us stood up carefully, and the woman smiled. “Your children were wonderful,” she said. “You must be so proud.” I really was. I never get more compliments on my kids’ behavior than on travel days. For all the times they act like selfish little assholes, they owe me this. I love the mom boost I get when we fly.

We gathered our things, and waited our turn to exit our seats and make our way off the plane. The sweet elderly couple was in front of us, and when we got to the front of the plane, the flight attendant told the couple that the woman’s wheelchair wasn’t quite ready. It was suggested that they take a seat while they waited. This caused a hiccup in the deplaning, and a man behind me sighed loudly. “Are you kidding me?” he complained. “Come on!” I turned around, thankful my kids were in front of me and not between me and this man who was acting like he needed a time out. I’m a mom, and since I hadn’t had to do any scolding for two hours, I was overdue. I looked him in the eye and said, “Don’t be a dick. It’s only for a minute.” The old couple shuffled to the seats in the first row to wait, and before we could continue heading off the plane, the man behind me spoke, again. “Are those your documents?” he asked, pointing to the floor. I looked down, and saw that all of our boarding passes for the next flight had fallen out of my pocket. “Uh, yeah. Wow. Thanks.” I picked up the wad of papers, thinking how we could have missed our next flight without those important documents, and said sheepishly, “I guess you’re not a total dick,” ushered my kids off the plane, and hoped feverishly that Mr. Not a Total Dick wasn’t on our next flight.

Moms and Dads: We Do Things Differently

In our house, the kids know that Dad is “way more funner” than Mom, and that Mom is “more snuggly” than Dad. Dad is good for a two hour Lego session, and Mom is the one to holla at for a living room dance party. It’s true that we approach parenting differently, but in the end we both want the same thing for our kids: college scholarships so we don’t have to pay for years of beer, pizza, and questionable choices.

Here are a few of the ways we do things differently.

Moms and Dads: We do things differently



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Funny Stuff

The Dangers Of Watching TV With Kids

This weekend I was suffering from the gunk that’s been going around. Yesterday, while I was dying on the couch, the kids got their own breakfast of cheese and crackers. Maybe it’s not a traditional breakfast, but it’s no less healthy than pancakes or cereal. While Graham and Lily were building the world’s tallest breakfast sandwich of Ritz and various sliced cheeses, we were watching the Today Show’s pre-inauguration coverage. I hesitate to watch the news with the kids, since a wholesome slice of life story can quickly be followed by some rape or murder or missing kid story, and I don’t think my three and five year old need to start their day with the horrors of the twenty-four hour news cycle. They have a general understanding of real life, but I like to control that situation, and my version of it isn’t sensationalized or set to a photo montage.

I made an exception because it was both Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the inauguration, and both of those events are things I want my kids to know about. Here’s the problem…we were watching live television. Live TV comes with more worries than just seeing stories about the awfulness on the news. People, I’m talking about commercials. 
I’m used to the kids wanting everything they see in commercials. If they aren’t laughing at dancing cats or giggling at talking babies, they are shouting, “We need to get that!” “Oh, cool! That thing lights up and sings!” “Mom, Mom, Mom…can I get that?!”  My standard reply is “Put it on your Christmas list,” and they never do. No problem. 
Yesterday was different. It wasn’t a kid’s channel, so the commercials were geared to adults. Really, women, since that’s who watches the Today Show. My five year old kept saying, “Mom, did you see that commercial?” My answer was always no, and he would follow up with “You should really go back and watch it.” I did. The first was a commercial for Weight Watchers, with a woman telling the story of how she lost 100 lbs. The second was one for a skin care product promising a glowing complexion, and the third was one for a facial waxing system.
My boy is growing up. I like that he’s learning the fine art of the subtle hint, and while he obviously hasn’t perfected it, he’s much kinder than his three year old sister. Over the weekend she beckoned me to sit with her on the couch saying, “Mom! Come sit with me. I made room for your big bottom!” smiled sweetly, and patted the seat next to her.
I took Graham’s hint. This evening I tended to my facial hair situation, and I got out my hard core zit cream. If I lost 100 lbs, I would weigh less than he does, but he’s not wrong in that I could use some attention in that department, too. He’s noticing things, and pointing them out. His dad probably appreciates it: If any of these “hints” came from him, he would be passive aggressively punished for weeks. When my boy does it, I just think it’s bittersweet that he’s growing up so fast.

Just Add Water: My Week Condensed 1/21/13

Last week I pro/conned having another baby, and realized the biggest draw for me would be maternity pants. Why have another baby when I can just buy more yoga pants? 

I shared 10 things I’ve learned from my mother. She’s pretty great, you guys, and I’m blessed to have her as a mother and as a friend. I swear, my kids better brag about me like this someday.

While volunteering in my son’s classroom last week, I saw his New Year’s resolutions. This one was interesting:

2013 will be a year of “more spying.” 

The Crock Pot Thursday recipe last week was Vegetable Beef Soup. It was a little bland as written, so we spiced it up, and the modified version was very satisfying. It’s a great one for a sick household (which is pretty much everyone right now.)

Almost every morning, I wake to my three year old bumping her little bottom down the stairs, and climbing in our bed. It’s a wonderful way to start the day, and it always makes me smile.

We had a snow day, and my kids and the neighbor kids put the boa from my bachelorette party to good use. I know I’ll hate the make-up days in June, but I really love a snow day.

Snow Princess and Snow Batman

I named my kids. Again. Up until this past week, you have known my kids as G and L, but now they are Graham and Lily. Since I like to talk about how they both pee their pants, how my five year old once put Icy Hot on his junk, and how my three year old isn’t always my favorite, the kindest thing to do is to give them pseudonyms. I had about one hour to come up with names, and I was kind of freaking out, so I asked my Facebook friends for help. I wanted to keep the first initials the same, and I got some great suggestions, my favorite being “Greater than and Less than.” After I announced the chosen names, one friend commented, “And just like that…you have 4 kids to keep track of. Now everyone can stop bugging you to procreate.” 

Calling them by these new names does feel strange, and it probably is extra weird for those that actually know us in real life, but my son doesn’t need his friends in middle school to learn that he still wet the bed when he was five from a simple Google search. I will embarrass him in person, the way God intended. The way mothers have been doing it for years.

Say My Name!

When I started this blog five months ago, I had very few expectations. I expected a handful of friends to read (I was right) and my mom to read (I was wrong). I thought some people would think it was funny, and others would take offense to some of my words. I hoped my stories would resonate with mothers, and I would make a few new friends along the way. Most of all, I was looking for a creative outlet. Like many stay at home moms, I’m told that I’m doing important work, but feel marginalized by people with “real jobs.” I waffle between pride when a reader has an emotional response to a post, and embarrassment that I am a mommy blogger. It’s clear that I’m still getting comfortable in my new skin, and I’m figuring things out as I go.

This past week Funny Is Family began experiencing some growing pains. Up until this month, most of my readers were people who know me in real life. People who know my family. I have used a nickname for my husband (The Doctor), and used my kids’ first initials when speaking of them, and since everyone reading knew the real names of the kids, this worked fine.

Recently, traffic patterns suggest the majority of readers are now people that don’t know us. I am afraid the initials are getting confusing, and the kids need names. A desire to be real and honest makes me want to share more about my children, including their names, but privacy concerns prevent me from doing so. Working with an editor from a site that will be running one of my posts this week, my concerns were confirmed: It’s hard to follow a story with first initials as names. So, under pressure of a deadline, I renamed my kids in about an hour’s time.

Presenting: Graham and Lily

Graham is a five year old Star Wars, Lego, and Harry Potter junkie. He loves to read, make projects from trash, and fight with his sister. Graham is smart like his dad, and funny like his mom (even though his humor right now is mostly fart and butt jokes.)

Graham

Lily is three, and on most days can be found making up songs, snuggling with her mom, bossing around anyone who will listen, or chatting with relatives on the phone. Despite the fact that she once made a boy cry at preschool, she really is quite sweet.

Lily

The stories in this blog are mine, but they also belong to my family. The Doctor proofreads all of my posts, so if there is content he isn’t comfortable with, it gets edited before being published. If I mention anyone else in my posts I usually get their permission first. My kids don’t get the same opportunity to opt in or out of my blog. Right now, they don’t care that I tell people the silly things they do, but I’m sure in a few years they will. The pseudonyms I use for my kids are an attempt to shield them from future Google searches that may embarrass them.

If I’m still blogging when the kids are older, and they choose not to be mentioned, I will respect that. Until that time, I will write about them with truth, with love, with humor, and with the knowledge that the internet is a vast, unforgetting place.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to change G and L to Graham and Lily in almost a half of a year’s worth of posts.

Things That Go Bump In The Morning

I love mornings for coffee, quiet, and the warm snuggles of my children.

Bump. Bump. Bump.

I open one eye, just enough to look at the window. Through the cracks between the blind and the window trim, I can see it’s still dark. Of course it is. It’s January, and the sun doesn’t rise until 7:14 am.

Bump. Bump. Bump. The sound of a three year old bottom making its way down the stairs. Pause. Pitter patter, pitter patter. Three year old feet running to the bathroom.

I smile, closing my eyes again, and snuggle further into the cocoon of blankets. Beside me, the man who has shared my bed for over a decade lies motionless. It takes more than an awake child to rouse him.

Pitter patter, pitter patter, pitter patter. Those feet again, this time running towards my room. I wait, knowing. Around to my side of the bed comes the girl. She looks at my eyes, seeing them open, and smiles, tilting her head to one side. I pull the blankets back, per our unspoken agreement, and she throws her own blanket to me before climbing up.

She settles in, head on my pillow, resting on the space between my shoulder and elbow. Her legs are curled up, as are mine, and we form a perfect ball, her body a small mirror of my own. The thick down comforter covers us both, and her dad, finally woken by all of the rustling, throws one arm over both of us, making us more of an oval now, rather than a circle. She sighs, long and deep, and closes her eyes. I smile again, and close my eyes, too.

Time passes, that time that moves in hours or maybe just seconds, and I hear, “You’re so snuggly.” Her soft little hand caressing my arm, and I can feel the quiet slipping away. “Mom,” she asks, “Is it almost my birthday?” “Mom, how does that song go? Bombs bursting in air?” “Mom? Is it morning time?” I finally respond. “Almost.”

Most of the year I’m an early riser. I like the quiet of the morning, before the kids get up, and before my responsibilities are calling my name. Just me, my coffee, and my laptop. My girl is the next one up, and the day’s first snuggle takes place in the recliner, with the same random questions and deep sighs of contentment. The mornings are ours, while the boys in our house sleep as long as they can.

There are a few months of the year when the sun is shy, the mornings cold, and my early morning spunk is hibernating. During these months, my alarm clock is the 32 pound girl climbing into our bed, snuggling into my side, her curls splayed on my pillow. Sharing that quiet time between night and morning, and eventually putting her little hands on my face, saying “Mom. Let’s get up. I’m hungry.”



Crock Pot Vegetable Beef Soup

This Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup recipe is an easy dinner idea, and a delicious way to eat your veggies!

I love soup. I love creamy soups and brothy soups; I love spicy soups and hearty stews. My husband tolerates soup, but gives me the side-eye when I try to pass it off as a meal. His motto is “Soup is a side, not a main dish,” but he’ll tolerate it if the soup is full of good stuff, and this Crock Pot Vegetable Beef Soup fits the bill.

Since everyone in the entire country seems to be sick right now, this “feel better” meal really hit the spot. It was even better on day two, which is a quality I can really appreciate in a crock pot meal, as there are always leftovers. It also freezes well, for those of you who like soup in your freezer for soup emergencies.

What’s a soup emergency, you ask? For me it’s when I’m freezing cold, or when I’m snuggled up with a good book, or when I’m on my own for dinner (which almost never happens). These are times I must have soup, and I’m not talking about the stuff from a can.

I used my 6 Quart Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker to make this tasty Crock Pot Vegetable Beef Soup.

Crock Pot Vegetable Beef Soup

This Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup recipe is an easy dinner ideas, and a delicious way to eat your veggies!

Ingredients

2 lb roast cut into bite size chunks, or stew meat
1 can corn, undrained
1 can green beans, undrained
1 lb bag frozen peas
3 cans stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 large onion, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
5 beef bouillon cubes
4 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Mrs. Dash
2 cups water

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
  2. Add additional water until it reaches 3 inches from the top.
  3. Cover and cook on high for one hour, and then on low for at least four hours until meat and vegetables are tender.

Suggestions

The seasonings can be adjusted based on personal preferences, and the vegetables can be changed. We didn’t use green beans, but added a few cubed potatoes. Celery would be good, too. If you like a thick soup, add 3/4 cup pearl barley. This recipe can handle a longer cook time. One of the Crock Pot Thursday families cooked on low for ten hours and it turned out great. Even their 2 year old gave it the seal of approval!

My nephew, Preston, chowing down.



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10 Things I’ve Learned From My Mother

10 Things I've Learned From My Mother

My mom and I are close. We look alike and we act alike. We organize our kitchens the same way, we both love a junk drawer, and at church, we both tilt our heads slightly to the right in prayer. As a child, I always loved her handwriting, and I attempted, without success, to copy her elegant, loopy style. My mom and I are also very different, because I am my father’s daughter.

My dad had a sharp, dry, and sometimes biting sense of humor. He found great delight in the absurdities of life, and some of my favorite memories are of laughing with him about things that others didn’t find nearly as funny as we did. My dad was instrumental in shaping my personality, while my mother dominated the hell out of the genes race. To be sure, I am an interesting example of nature vs nurture.

I often wonder what my kids will take away from their childhood. Will they remember the lessons that I think are most important? Or are they locking away life lessons that I’m not even aware I’m teaching? I have vivid memories of my mother telling me something I knew at the time was important (Never make fun of someone’s laugh. Don’t complain about your period; it’s going to happen for 40 years, so learn to live with it, and go about your business.), but the lessons I’ve learned, and am still learning, from my mother’s example are the ones that are the most memorable.

10 Things I’ve Learned From My Mother

1. Be a good friend and you will have good friends.

2. Sometimes marriage is hard. Really hard. Stick it out, and it will get good again. Really good.

3. If you find a man that you are crazy about, that “my heart will jump out of my body if I can’t see him” type of crazy, marry him, and have his babies. That love will see you through the hard times.

4. When that man dies, don’t lie down and give up. Hold your head up, lean on friends, and show strength. Others will be comforted by it.

5. Be kind to your children’s friends. They will love you forever, and rely on you when their own families let them down. This is a special and wonderful blessing.

6. Know when you are wrong, and apologize with sincerity. Stand your ground when you are right, even if it pisses people off.

7. Laugh, even when you don’t feel like it. The time will come when you do feel like it, and you won’t have forgotten how.

8. Love unapologetically. Trust your choices, and eventually others will, too.

9. Work hard. Treat your boss and your employees with the same level of respect.

10. Compliment your children frequently. They will grow up with a strong sense of self, and will pass this on to your grandchildren.

[Tweet “”Be a good friend and you will have good friends,” and other things I’ve learned from my mother.”]

 

If you enjoyed this post, check out these other lists:
10 Things I’ve Learned From My Mother-In-Law
10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Marriage
10 Life Lessons From a Kindergartner

 



10 Reasons We Will Or Won’t Be Having Another Baby

Family planning comes in many different forms. I’m not just talking about condoms vs pills vs IUD, or natural family planning vs birth control vs “pull-and-pray”. Some families decide how many kids they want, and take the necessary steps to fulfill that goal. Others are blessed with children they didn’t expect, while others hope to have babies and have difficulty conceiving without help. Some people adopt. Some moms have babies until their uterus craps out, and others are happy with the one. Some people choose not to have kids at all. There are so many different combinations of family, that I’m confident I’ve left some out and have already alienated a reader or two.

One of the favorite topics of debate is what is the ideal family? People say things like:
“Why would someone only have one kid?”
“What’s wrong with that Duggar lady and why does she keep having babies?”
“(Fill in the blank) kids? Wow. You must be really busy!”
“You breeders really think you’re something, don’t you? Quit bringing your spawn to restaurants and on airplanes.”
“Birth control is a sin.”
“Natural family planning is crazy.”

The one thing I know is that every family is different. There comes a time when you have to make a decision. Have kids or not. Plan for it or let nature do its thing. If you decide to have kids, how many? I don’t like the phrase “start a family.” A couple without children is as much a family as one with one kid or nine kids.

I always wanted two kids: a boy and a girl. I would have the girl first, and the boy second. Just like my younger brother and me. Oh, and 20 months apart. Perfect. Also, I would have them both before I was 30. Well some of those things happened, and some didn’t. Even though not everything went as planned, everything turned out just right. We are happy with our two, but is our family complete? Here are some contributing factors to help us decide.

    1.  If we have another baby, my mom, mother-in-law, and sisters-in-law will all get off my back about having more kids. The same goes for my friends with more than two children. Of course they all think I shouldn’t stop reproducing just yet. On the other hand, one more baby won’t stop the family members. If I have three, they’ll insist on four. Besides, I kind of like the pressure. Their arguments are full of how great of a mom I am and how wonderful our kids are, and my friends’ pleas are really just them begging me to join their club. Popular much?

 

  • If we’re done having kids, we can get rid of all of the baby stuff. I get as giddy about getting rid of my kids’ things as I do receiving kid stuff. Because of that feeling, most of our baby stuff is gone, but we still have toddler silverware and cups, potty seats, and baby toys. I’ll keep the booster seat and Pack n Play for my friends that come over who won’t stop having babies. You know who you are.

 

 

  • If we have another baby, I don’t have to go back to work full-time. I have to admit, this is a very compelling argument. I see you, ladies with your youngest heading off to kindergarten and a swollen pregnant belly. I see you, and I nod in support.

 

 

  • If we’re done having kids, I can go back to work full-time. A second income would be welcome, as my wardrobe and retirement account have been sad and forgotten the past few years. Also, I never love my kids more than when I’m at work.

 

 

  • If I have another baby, I can wear maternity pants again. My belly loves elastic waistbands more than chocolate. Sweet, sweet, giving elastic. Also, after being pregnant or nursing for the better part of three years, my boobs look like fried eggs, and I would really like to have my milk bags back.

 

 

  • If I’m done having kids, I can rest easy knowing my nights will be full of sleeping and not of tending to crying children. At least until high school, when they’ll be out late, and I’ll be awake crying over the stupid teenage things I’m sure they’ll be doing.

 

 

  • If I have another baby, I’ll buy myself a few more years until all of my kids prefer their friends over me. Right now, they still think I’m cool.  They like hanging out with me. Without a third baby, I’ll be obsolete by the next presidential administration.

 

 

  • If I’m done having kids, I don’t need to worry about reining in the bounty of small pieces that litter our house. Legos need to be off the floor to protect my delicate feet, but they don’t need to be locked up to protect Little Number Three.

 

 

  • If we want more kids we should get to it. My husband’s insurance is kick ass, and having a baby right now would cost us zero dollars. Also, I am already considered of “advanced maternal age” and my old eggs won’t be fresh for too much longer.

 

 

  • If I have another baby, I’ll have to be pregnant again. Months of vomiting, aversions to something delicious, no booze, disgusting body disappointments, and at the end, my undercarriage violated in unspeakable ways to get that baby out.

 

I think I’m happy with the two I have. Are you done having kids? Why or why not?

 

Just Add Water: My Week Condensed 1/14/13

This past week I had a confession. I like one of my kids more than the other. I definitely play favorites, but the distinction of favorite child changes frequently. One minute it’s my sweet and cuddly daughter, the next it’s my helpful and kind son. There are also times when they are both on my shit list, or are both in my good graces. What can I say? I’m a girl, with the emotional fluidity to prove it. I confessed that my son was my favorite, and while my daughter made a comeback, the boy is once again the golden child. Here’s why: Over the weekend, the kids were watching a movie with their dad, and I was reading a People magazine in a bubble bath. I asked Lily to bring me a beer (don’t judge) and here is what she came back with:

“I couldn’t find any beer.” No beer, but she did find some frozen corn in the freezer to snack on. I wasn’t giving up on my dream of a beery bubble bath. I hollered for Graham to fetch me a cold one, and this is what he came back with:

Show this picture to your friends who are on the fence about having kids. Everyone should try to get themselves a little beer fetcher.

The Crock Pot Thursday recipe last week was Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin. It was easy and delicious. The recipe totally deserves its popularity on Pinterest, and I know I’ll make it again.

I caught Lily in a lie, and remembered a story of my childhood when I told a lie that caused a serious ass whooping. Lucky for me, it wasn’t my behind that got spanked. Also lucky for me, my brother has forgiven me for causing his beating.

We waited in a McDonald’s drive thru line with 15 other cars for at least 20 minutes, only to find out the restaurant was closed. McDonald’s is dumb.

I’ve renewed my love for Pinterest. I know it makes some moms feel inadequate, but I think it’s fun seeing how clever and creative people can be, and love that those people are willing to share their tips and tricks. Follow me  to see the ridiculously amazing things I’ve pinned that I’ll never make, the inexpensive and easy things I’ve actually made, the books I love, and a collection of all of the Crock Pot Thursday recipes.

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Playing Favorites

Don’t tell my kids, but I have a favorite child. I know that I’m not supposed to play favorites, and that millions of dollars of therapy rest comfortably on the foundation of parental favoritism, but I can’t help myself. When you have a child that is sweet, loving, well-behaved, and funny, it’s damn near impossible not to like that child more. Oh, I should mention, the distinction of favorite child changes daily, if not hourly.

Right this very second, my son is my favorite child based solely on the conversation I just overheard in the kitchen.
Today’s winner.
Graham: Wanders in the kitchen
The Doctor: Why are you away from the table? You weren’t excused.
Graham: Mom said I could be excused.
The Doctor: Who’s the boss?
Graham: Mom’s the boss.
The Doctor: WHAT?
Graham: Oh, and you. You and Mom are the boss.
The Doctor: But who’s the biggest boss?
Graham: Mom.
The Doctor: But who’s the best?
Graham: Mom. Mom’s the best.
He really had today’s win sealed up earlier, when his sister called me “stupid Mom,” but he went for a personal best by helping Lily put her 343 piece Lego set together before dinner, and throwing down “Mom’s the boss” after dinner. 

Now, since this conversation happened after dinner, there isn’t much time left for Lily to steal the Favorite Child crown away from her big brother. Add that to the fact that he goes to bed much easier than she does, and we may as well declare the winner for the day. 
Good luck tomorrow, kids. May the odds be ever in your favor!

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Crock Pot Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

This Crockpot Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin recipe has excellent flavor, and the leftovers make a great pork loin sandwich!

 

Three fourths of our family loved this Crock Pot Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin. It was moist with a great flavor, and the sauce was outstanding. Luckily I doubled the recipe, because we gobbled it up for two dinners, and put it on a couple of sandwiches, too. Lily didn’t like it, but she’s going through a spotty vegetarian stage, and is mostly meat-free these days. It really gets under my husband’s skin, which I find hilarious. I don’t know if anything would disappoint him more than one of our kids becoming an honest to goodness vegetarian. That man is a carnivore, through and through.

I used my 6.5-Quart Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker to make this recipe.

Crock Pot Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

Crock Pot Thursday: Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This Crock Pot Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin is a delicious dinner, and the leftovers make a great pork loin sandwich!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 (2 pound) boneless pork loin
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup water
  • Glaze
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (maybe a bit more)
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
Instructions
  1. Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic, and rub over roast.
  2. Place in slow cooker with ½ cup water.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan.
  5. Heat and stir until mixture thickens.
  6. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking.
  7. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

The leftovers make a delicious sandwich!

This Crockpot Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin recipe has excellent flavor, and the leftovers make a great pork loin sandwich!


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Crock Pot Thursday Index

Telling Lies: A Family Tradition

Telling Lies: A Family Tradition

Last week, my three-year-old asked me if she could have an orange. I told her no for two reasons. First, she had already had an orange a few hours before. If I don’t ration the fruit around here, a five pound box of clementines will be gone in a day. And second, it was nap time, and every day at nap time that girl is more hungry and thirsty than I’ve ever been in my life. It’s her go-to stalling tactic, and I’m not a total idiot. She cried, as she does anytime I interrupt her two favorite things, snacking and avoiding naps, and ran away.

I called her back to me, and hugged and kissed her, ready to send her upstairs. I stopped. Sniffed. “Did you eat that orange?” I asked. “No,” she replied. “I didn’t.” Hmm…she smelled like oranges, but she didn’t have time to eat one, and sometimes the smell rubs off on your hands by holding an intact orange. Besides, she had had one earlier. Maybe that was the smell. Satisfied, I sent her off to bed. I headed into the kitchen to stare at the pantry and decide what to make for dinner, when I saw it. A pile of fresh orange peels on the floor of the pantry, right next to the million pound bag of dog food. I picked up the peels to put in the garbage, cursing my lying, conniving three-year-old, and when I opened the garbage lid I saw the orange. A whole peeled orange, right there on top. I had to laugh. She must have peeled it before asking if she could have one, and when I said no, she hid the evidence.

I didn’t know what to do. Bring her back down to confront her? Worry about it after nap? I was afraid she wouldn’t remember the details as clearly later, since like me, she wakes up more dead than refreshed after napping. Besides, I wanted to see what she had to say.

“Hey, Lily!” I hollered. “What?” she asked. “Come down here. I have a question for you.” She came down the steps on her bottom, bumping down each step. Bump. Bump. Bump. She was curious. Any contact after the beginning of nap time was usually instigated by her, and this was uncharted territory.

“Do you know why there are orange peels in the pantry?” I began. Eyes wide, brows raised, she slowly shook her head. “No.” Damn. I hope I can always tell this easily that she’s bullshitting me. I gave her another chance to come clean, reminding her that I already know she’s lying. She fessed up about the peels, and when I asked her where the orange was, she came clean on that one, too. I let her know that I don’t like lying or wasting food, and how the situation could have been handled in the future.

Am I annoyed that she is starting to lie? Of course. I mean, I know it’s normal, and healthy even, but it’s still sad. It means she’s growing up. I understand that kids lie for lots of reasons, but that usually it’s to avoid getting in trouble. Actually, that’s the main reasons adults lie, too. But sometimes people lie for more sinister reasons. Like what I did when I was six.

My brother had pissed me off for some unknown reason, and I vowed to get revenge.  He was four-years-old, 20 months younger than I was, and had just learned to write his name. I saw an opportunity to do more than your basic sibling justice, like knocking him down or taking his toy, and I wrote his name on the bathroom wall with a marker. I used my left hand so it would suggest a sloppy preschooler penned it. After carefully (but not too carefully) writing the five letters of his name, I stood back to admire my cunning masterpiece, smiled smugly at myself in the bathroom mirror, stashed the marker, and yelled, “Mooommmmm!”

Diabolical, no?

Mom obviously blamed my little brother for the bathroom graffiti.  He denied to no avail, and I cowered in my room while he got a spanking for my handiwork. I can vividly remember him crying and pleading with my mom, telling her it wasn’t him. That he didn’t do it. She was probably extra pissed thinking he was repeatedly lying to her face. I felt horrible. I guess I didn’t really think the whole plan through. What did I think would happen? I wanted to fess up, but I couldn’t. If he got an ass whooping for writing on the wall, what would my punishment be for being such an evil bitch? A beheading? No dessert? I couldn’t chance it and find out.

I kept that dirty secret well into adulthood. What could they do to me then? My head, if not my honor, was safe.

Now that I think about it, stashing an orange isn’t that big of a deal.

McDonald’s Is Dumb

We flew back to New England last week, after spending two weeks Christmasing with both sides of our family, and landed ten minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve. Even though we were at baggage claim when the clock struck midnight, this particular NYE wasn’t any less sucky than almost every other NYE in my 35 years. In fact, it was probably better than many, as I was actually AWAKE. I’m so wild, you guys. I was really hoping we would get some complimentary champagne on the plane, but I settled for a Diet Coke.

After getting our bags, taking the shuttle to long term parking, digging our car out of the snow, and getting on the road, it was 1 AM. We were hungry, and had a 45 minute drive to our house. Our house that had no food. We saw some golden arches, and trained our rig in that direction. As you can imagine, we weren’t the only carload looking for some vitamin G(rease) at 1 AM on New Year’s. We pulled in the drive-thru line, warily eyeing the seven cars ahead of us. Our options were limited. No one else was open, so we waited. And waited. The line behind us grew, until there were 15 cars in line. The line was moving, but barely. After about 20 minutes, we got to the menu board and microphone. We waited some more. Finally, the car that had been in front of us came flying through the parking lot again. “They’re closed!” they yelled, laughing maniacally. WTF? Every car ahead of us had gotten to the front of the line, waited, and finally given up, driving away. That’s how the line was moving. That’s why it was so slow. It was pretty funny, but also super messed up. The golden M was on, the kitchen lights were on, and the sign said open 24 hours. Thank goodness for the car of drunk girls that did the rest of us a solid by looping around and telling us. Pulling away, The Doctor was swearing, as best you can with the kids in the car.  I was chuckling, but also starving, and my five year old muttered, “That’s dumb.” We don’t like the kids to use that word, but in this case, he was right.

The very next day, on the way to pick our dog, Edgar, up from the dog sitter, we finally got some McDonald’s. I should have boycotted, but we still didn’t have any food, and I wanted one of those $1 coffees that always ends up costing me way more because we grab “just a little something” while we’re there. Screw you, McDonald’s with your clever marketing and pricing. You keep pissing me off.

Graham and his three year old sister were tired. They were still on West Coast time, and we hadn’t gotten home the night before until 2 AM. They were dragging ass like most of the world, only our little family was just tired, not hungover. They were pretty quiet in the car, nicely sharing an order of fries and nuggets when I heard Graham say that word again.”Lily? Do you know what ‘dumb’ means?” he asked. “Yes,” she replied. “It means ‘stupid’.” “Then why did you call me ‘dumb’ this morning?” he demanded, angrily. “I’m not dumb, Lily.” Lily carefully selected a fry and said, “I just wanted to.” Cool. Dismissive. This just pissed Graham off more. “But I’m not dumb! I’m not!”

At this point I felt the need to jump in. Not to explain the different meanings of the word, but to stop a fight. “She knows your not dumb, bud. I think maybe she was trying to hurt your feelings.” This surprised him. “Were you, Lily? Were you trying to hurt my feelings?” “Yes,” she replied, not looking up from her lunch. “Oooh…that’s MEAN. That’s really mean, Lily.”  Graham looked at Lily for a long moment before asking, “Were you just feeling frisky?” Lily looked up. Nodded. “Yeah. I was feeling frisky like The Poky Little Puppy.” Graham nodded, understanding. He grabbed a nugget while she continued to munch fries, looking out the window. Graham’s feelings weren’t hurt. That boy knows a thing or two about being naughty and feeling frisky.

Just Add Water: My Week Condensed 1/7/13

Last week was short. We flew on Monday, unpacked and took down the tree on Tuesday, and fell back into our regular life on Wednesday. We fought the three hour time difference all week, which meant I was first dragging my sorry ass out of bed, and then coaxing, prodding, and finally demanding both kids get up every morning. I consider it a major win that Graham was never late to school, since more than once he was still in bed 30 minutes before the tardy bell rang. I know people complain about kids that wake them up early, but since I’m a morning person, I think it’s way worse dragging my sleepy babies out of bed. The Doctor’s no help. He hits that snooze button like he’s got the winning answer in a game show finale.

My blog definitely suffered during the two weeks of Christmas, but we were spending some great time with our families, and I was doing important things like taking naps, enjoying nieces and nephews, drinking Bailey’s, and playing dominoes. I’m back; writing, reading, and commenting like a mo-fo. It’s a new year, and I’m not dicking around.
One of my first orders of business was linking up with Mel at According to Mags and Michele at OldDogNewTits and sharing my New Year’s resolutions, in 57 words or less. I’m really feeling good about my goals this year!
We didn’t have snow at Grandma’s house, but it’s been cold enough here to keep the old Christmas snow from melting. Every time I’m standing outside freezing my ta-tas off while the kids play in the snow, I remember that more calories are burned in cold weather than warm, and I say, “Alllriiight. We can stay out here a few more minutes.”

Graham could play in the snow all day long.

While Lily stays inside, licking the glass. Like a lady.
For Crock Pot Thursday I shared two split pea soup recipes, one for the crock pot (duh) and one for the stove top. When we made split pea soup the previous Thursday, it was the first time since Crock Pot Thursday began that all of the participants were together to enjoy our meal. It was wonderful.
I linked up with Something Clever 2.0 for my first Theme Thursday. The topic was winter, and I dug up some memories of snow skiing as a kid, and a story about my husband’s first time skiing. I’m surprised he still married me after what my family and I put him through.
I got to drink wine with friends on Friday AND Saturday night. It was awesome, and I’m still smiling. It’s good to be home.

Snow Bunny

Musings of a former snow bunny.

There are some things I used to do. I used to go to restaurants without needing crayons. I used to go on real vacations, where I stayed in hotels and saw the local sights. I used to go to the bar and spend all of my hard earned cash on overpriced drinks.

I used to ski.

I started skiing at a fairly young age, not as young as those helmeted three-year-olds you see zipping down the mountain without poles or fear, but small enough that when I fell, I didn’t have very far to go. Being from the Pacific Northwest, we had several worthy ski resorts that were good for a day trip, and several more that were more suited for a weekend of carving up some snow. Our family did both.

We often went with family friends, and the kids would spend the first couple of hours taking a group lesson. After the lesson, we would meet up with our parents, have lunch, and spend the afternoon at the rope tow. We kids hated lessons, the tedious hours making french fries and pizza with our skis under the watchful eye of a ski bum counting the hours until he was free to carve up the mountain himself, but our parents were either unwilling or unable to teach us themselves.  While we were learning to snowplow, the moms and dads were skiing the big kid runs, and drinking Bloody Marys in the lodge bar.

While I hated morning lessons, I loved afternoons on the mountain. I remember skiing between my parents’ legs, and fighting with my brother over which one of us had to go with Mom. She just didn’t have the same level of control as Dad, and skiing with her increased the chances of hitting a tree or getting sucked into a gigantic tree well. Ultimately I always ended up with Mom, because she skied slower, and I was a pansy who would get scared when Dad went too fast.

This was a warm day. Look at my fierce determination and open jacket.

We enjoyed skiing as a family, and when my husband and I started dating, my family demanded he learn to ski.

He agreed to try it, however unenthusiastically. No one will disagree that it is easier to learn to ski as a child, but since both of my parents learned to ski as adults, the only pity they showed him was scheduling him a private lesson.

First up was securing him rental gear. My man and I headed into the ski shop to get his equipment, where he was outfitted with the shortest pair of skis I’ve ever seen. I guess it’s easier to maneuver shorter skis, which is good for beginners, but the sight of him holding these chest high skis made me want to laugh out loud. The “small equipment” jokes were flooding my brain, demanding to be released. I showed much more restraint than I am usually capable of, holding my laughter and my tongue, and we headed outside, my beloved clomping beside me unaccustomed to the snow boot gait.

My dad caught sight of us, took one look at those baby skis, and cracked the very beginning of a smirk. He quickly turned away to hide his face, but it was too late. My perfectly controlled, dry-humored father’s uncontrolled expression made me lose my composure. I started to laugh. Hard.

The lift hadn’t even opened, and my love was already losing his patience. I pulled myself together, and we found the rest of our party. All eleven of us. The lift was opening, and the ski lesson wasn’t starting for an hour. What to do? Head up, of course! He could do an easy run real quick before his lesson. Getting on the chair was actually pretty smooth. The chair goes super fast, but it detaches at the bottom and top of the mountain, and goes much slower when skiers get on and off, making it much easier than it ever was when I was learning. Back then, you got into position FAST, and if you didn’t, the chair knocked you down and kept going. It dumped you off at the top of the mountain in the same merciless fashion.

At the top of the mountain, we disembarked with some success, and regrouped. At this point, the future father of my children asked, “Now what do I do?” We looked at each other, ten adults and teens who had been skiing together for years, and said…nothing. Hmm. How do you ski? Someone offered, “Like this,” and headed down the mountain. The next hour was quite possibly the most frustrating and uncomfortable of my husband’s life. He made it down, but it was hard, and we weren’t much help. He was exhausted from picking himself up off the ground for an hour, and was sore from falling over a hundred times. When he got to the bottom, instead of heading to the lodge for a much deserved beer, he trudged to the lesson corral, for 90 more minutes of torture.

I can’t understand why he still doesn’t like skiing.

Unlike my husband’s, our first skiing experiences were more positive. Eventually, we kids no longer had to take lessons, or ski between our parents legs, or stick to the rope tow. We were serious skiers; with awesome neon coats, our very own skis, boots, poles, and lift tickets that granted access to the top of the mountain. I loved flying down the slopes with the wind in my hair and the sun on my face. I loved stopping short, spraying the white power in a perfect arch. I loved taking jumps, even though I barely got off the ground. It felt like I was flying. The mountain was beautiful, and the view from the summit was breathtaking.

By breathtaking, I mean I couldn’t breathe. The air was thin, it was windy as shit, and I was scared to death. Do you have any idea how far up that is? The first time I went to the summit, I was absolutely certain I would fall right off the mountain. I had to be coaxed down, and it took over an hour. The next year, I wasn’t nearly as scared, but skiing all the way down made my legs burn. I did some sports in high school and middle school, but I could never get down the entire mountain without several stops to give my muscles a break.

I hate being cold. Skiing is always cold, except those two times when it was spring skiing and warm enough to ski without coats. Usually I would layer my silk long underwear (top and bottom) under stretch pants, sweatpants, ski pants, long sleeved shirt (short sleeved shirt over it for my ‘lodge look’), sweatshirt, and ski coat with the fleece liner. Two pairs of socks (thin under thick), two pairs of gloves (liner and snow gloves), and one of those awesome sweatband-ear-warmer deals in hot pink to coordinate with my coat. No hat for this girl. It would mess up my bangs. Even with all of my many layers, I was still cold. Always.

Maybe I was cold because I was always on the ground.

And if I’m going to be honest, I really liked the wind in my hair, but not on my face. It stung. Also, that wind messed up my perfectly peacocked bangs. And the sun on my face always gave me a sunburned nose, even if I put on tons of sunblock. My nose is already prominent. I do not look great with a bright red beak and cheeks, and a white upper half of my face that had been covered by my goggles and ear-warmer.

Don’t even get me started on the chairlift. I haven’t been skiing in four years, and I still have nightmares about falling off the chairlift. Most often in that recurring dream, I slip off the chair, and grab hold of part of the footrest on my way down. I dangle there until I wake up. In real life, my sloth-like reflexes would never allow me to react properly, and I would be halfway to the ground (and my certain death) before I even realized something was happening.

With my baby brother (a real skier) in 2008. I wear hats now but still rock the short sleeve over long sleeve tee.

I guess what I’m saying is that I really love the idea of skiing, and if it weren’t for the weather, I would actually like it. I love spending time with my family on the mountain, but in the past fourteen years, more of that time has been spent in the lodge bar than on the slopes.

Idea! Warm skiing!

Someone get on that. But not water-skiing. That’s too hard. And still not warm enough.



Crock Pot Split Pea Soup

This Classic Crock Pot Split Pea Soup recipe boasts ham, carrots, and delicious flavor! Pop this easy recipe in your slow cooker for dinner tonight!

I love split pea soup. It is simple, basic, and lovely. Sometimes I like a recipe with some flair, but when it comes to split pea soup, I want mine traditional. This recipe does traditional just right.

This Crock Pot Split Pea Soup is the first recipe the Crock Pot Thursday gang has all eaten together. This is a big deal, as we’re usually spread across the country, “sharing a meal” in spirit, but not at the same table. Merry Christmas to all of us!

The ham bone from the Christmas Eve ham was perfect for this dish. We doubled the recipe because there are so many of us, and we’re good eaters. It was a hit with the kids and the adults. The next day some of us may or may not have used the cold, leftover soup as a dip for our Doritos.

Don’t judge.

Crock Pot Split Pea Soup

Crock Pot Thursday: Split Pea Soup
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (16 oz.) pkg. dried green split peas, rinsed
  • 1 meaty ham bone, 2 ham hocks, or 2 cups diced ham
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 ribs of celery plus leaves, chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tbsp. seasoned salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp. fresh pepper
  • 1½ quarts hot water
Instructions
  1. Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the order given and pour in water.
  2. Do not stir ingredients.
  3. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 5 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours until peas are very soft and ham falls off bone.
  4. Remove bones and bay leaf.
  5. Mash peas to thicken more, if desired. Serve garnished with croutons.
  6. Freezes well.
  7. Serves 8.
Recipe modified from About.com.


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Planes, Trains, And Automobiles

The past two weeks have been tough for my little blog. Since our families live across the country, instead of going big or going home, we just go home BIG. I mean, if I’m packing up my kids for a flight across the country, I may as well make it count. Besides, we have lots of friends and family to see, and even though our trips are often two or three weeks, we rarely get to see everyone we want. In fact, we generally disappoint more people than we please.

Spending time with family and friends is special. It is comforting, and fun, and a salve for the soul. There is nothing like surrounding yourself with those that have known you for most of your life, that share your name, your blood, your childhood. It is wonderful. It is also exhausting.

I have spent the past two weeks putting my kids to bed in five different bedrooms (and several airplanes); eating in six different kitchens, multiple restaurants, and several cars (and airplanes); driving over 1000 miles; accumulating a combined 21,956 frequent flier miles; and avoiding three political topics that could only irritate everyone. We have traveled by car, bus, train, plane, and four-wheeler. Graham even got to ride his grandmother’s donkey, Franny.

Pretending to drive the train.

Holding on while giving her dad a panic attack. NOT a glimpse into her future.

We did a million wonderful things. We laughed with our siblings while snuggling their babies. We hugged our mothers, chased our nieces and nephews, and gorged ourselves on salmon (Alaskan, not the bullshit Atlantic salmon we get here), prime rib (twice!), and a plethora of holiday treats. We got to watch the joy on our kids’ faces while they played with their cousins, and while they read books with their grandmas. We cried tears of laughter over ridiculous games and favorite embarrassing stories, and we cried tears of sorrow for those no longer with us. We stayed up late playing dominoes. We got to sleep in.

Throughout all of this, my blog was never far from my mind. Everyone had questions about my venture, as most of them hadn’t seen me since Funny Is Family debuted, and I was happy to share. Some people had great suggestions, like my brother-in-law, who is a reporter. He treated my writing with respect, which I truly appreciated, since he’s a real, honest-to-goodness writer who gets paid for his words. He even wins fancy awards and shit.

Even though I was always thinking about things I could write about, and was often discussing my blog, finding time to write was difficult. More than that, I couldn’t pull the words from my head to my fingers. My posts felt forced. Incomplete. I have been home less than 24 hours now, and I’m excited to get back to it. I’m going to do that, just as soon as I finish unpacking, doing laundry, taking down Christmas decorations, restocking my kitchen, and reading the pile of Christmas cards that arrived after December 17th. It’s a big pile, y’all.

Just Add Water: My Week Condensed 12/31/12

You guys! This is my final post of 2012! I am always sad to say goodbye to the old year, and excited about the new year, but I long ago gave up on New Year’s Eve properly representing my feelings about the transition. That holiday has let me down too many times, and I’m not even a little bit sad that we’ll be flying across the country on New Year’s Eve, with our plane touching down at midnight. 

We attended Christmas Eve mass with my side of the family, where Graham loudly proclaimed the children’s rendition of the holy family’s story “not as good” as the Christmas program he had seen a few days before. If you’re going to get your baby Jesus on, step up your game around my kids. Apparently.

I learned some important lessons this Christmas, which I shared in my Post-Christmas Analysis, like how to get your family to think you’re pregnant, and how not to steal Christmas gift thunder.

While we were at the in-laws, we ladies dumped our pile of kids with the men and got pedicures. It was awesome, and not just because I got a butt massage.

The Crock Pot Thursday recipe was White Bean and Kielbasa Stew. I didn’t make it because we were traveling, but since the families that did make it loved it, we’ll be making it very soon.

Lily was rock, rock, rocking away in this adorable rocking chair made by her great-great-grandfather, saying “Grandma, you can’t sit in this chair anymore because your bottom is way too big.

This chair has been loved by my husband’s family for sixty some years.

My in-laws had to band one of their bull calves this past week. This entails slipping a rubber band over his balls, which causes them to shrivel up and fall off in two to four weeks. Since all kinds of animal mothers are kindred spirits, I couldn’t help but feel bad for the momma separated from her baby, even though it was only for a few minutes. I imagine if I wasn’t a mother, or if I had balls, my sympathy would be for that poor little castrated calf.

I came up with an amazing idea for a blog post after a few hours at the bar, but I can’t remember it because it didn’t get written down. If I retrace my steps will it come back to me? Pass the Fireball and let’s find out.

The Doctor resealed his mom’s grout, and I gotta tell you: There is something very sexy about a man on his hands and knees scrubbing his mom’s floor. Yeah, baby. Reseal that grout.

On the last day of our trip, three of our relatives threw up within a 12 hour period. I always get a little stressed about traveling across the country with my kids, but the anticipation of a stomach bug adds a fun anxious element. I packed everyone an extra change of clothes (two for the kids) and said a prayer that if we were gonna get sick to pretty please hold it off until we got home.

The team at Aiming Low called one of my older posts “mucho haha” and featured it this week. I’m never going to get tired of seeing my words on sites I love. Starting this blog was the coolest thing that happened this year, and I am so thankful for those of you that support me by reading and commenting. It makes my heart sing!

Crock Pot White Bean and Kielbasa Stew

There are two members of the Crock Pot Thursday crew that haven’t missed a week. Those two are the only ones who made this Slow-Cooker White Bean and Kielbasa Stew from Real Simple, and they both scored it high. The rest of us were traveling and weren’t able to crock pot, but based on the reviews we plan on knocking it out soon. One household used dried beans and the other used canned beans. All of the men said it could use more kielbasa, but one of those also declares, “There should always be three pieces of meat in every bite.” This is a good January recipe because it’s inexpensive, and if you are like us any disposable income will be going towards paying down Christmas debt.

Crock Pot White Bean and Kielbasa Stew

Slow-Cooker White Bean and Kielbasa Stew

Ingredients

Serves 6| Hands-On Time: 15m| Total Time: 8hr 00m
  • 1  pound dried white beans
  • 14 oz kielbasa, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1  large onion, chopped
  • 6  cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1  teaspoon  dried rosemary
  • 5  ounces baby spinach (about 6 cups)

Directions

  1. Combine the beans, kielbasa, broth, tomatoes (and their juices), onion, garlic, rosemary, and 1 cup water into Crock Pot.
  2. Cover and cook until the beans are tender on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours.
  3. Just before serving, stir in the spinach. Serve with crusty bread.

I used my 6.5-Quart Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker to make this.



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Foot Love

I got a pedicure, and an awkward surprise!

One of my favorite things about going home for Christmas is knowing my nasty winter feet are going to get some attention when my mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, and I leave our ever-growing pile of kids with the menfolk for a few hours and sneak away for pedicures. I know people get manicures and pedicures all the time, but it always feels kind of fancy to me. Time with the girls, time away from the kids, and a session in one of those back massage chairs? Yes, please.

This week’s Christmas pedicure didn’t start out great. I couldn’t find the polish color I wanted, but I felt the ticking of the clock and the eyes of the nail technician urging me decide already, so I just grabbed a red. Red’s Christmasy and stuff. I knew it wasn’t a big deal, but since my feet are loved so infrequently, I need a color I really like.

I headed to my assigned chair, imperfect polish in hand, and parked my rear. I fired up the massage chair, and while the chair started pounding back, the seat started pounding my crack.

What was this? A seat massager? A seat massager with boundary issues I guess, because I need a little warning before any below the belt activity. I mean, I’m not saying I hated it. I’m in no position to turn down a massage, even when it feels like a fist pounding my tailpipe.

What could be better than getting butt-fisted while a stranger scrapes dead skin off of my feet? All of that happening while watching Toddlers and Tiaras on the nail salon television, and sitting next to my mother-in-law while we laugh about our butt play, that’s what.

That pedicure was awesome. My feet looked and felt amazing, the massage chair had an option to turn off the violating seat massage, and my polish looked great. And thanks to the crazy moms on Toddlers and Tiaras, I felt like an outstanding parent the entire time.

I can’t wait for next year!



Holiday Tips From a Slacker Mom

Read this funny post about spending holidays with extended family! | FunnyIsFamily.com |

I have spent more than a decade traveling for Christmas. I wouldn’t call myself an expert in navigating the delicate waters of family and holiday expectations, but I do have a few words of wisdom beyond the obvious things like don’t drink too much before wrapping presents, and steer clear of political topics at the holiday table. My tips go a little something like this:

If you want your family to pay extra attention to you, put on a few pre-holiday pounds, wear an empire waist dress, and decline a cocktail right off.

Be prepared to explain what  a virgin is to your five year old at Christmas Eve mass. Good luck!

If you love a type of cookie that your aunt makes, and you know your older brother will eat all of the cookies before you arrive, it’s totally fair and appropriate to have your mom hide you one. Better make it two.

Hot buttered rum is never a good idea after 2 am. I wasn’t sure about this tip, so I tested it several times.

Don’t start fervently wishing for a white Christmas until all of your traveling family members have arrived safely.

If you will be “Christmasing” for two weeks, DO NOT forget your fat pants.

Surviving the Holiday2

Don’t blog about how lazy your husband gets when he’s at his mom’s house. In between naps, he’ll be irritated with you.

Do the dishes. Your hosts will talk up what a good guest you are, word will get around, people will want to invite you over, and pretty soon you’ll be eating free pie all year long.

Before you sneak your name onto your baby brother’s gift to your grandmother, make sure the gift bag contains more than just framed pictures of his kids.

6000 air miles, 1000 car miles, and four houses are worth it to spend the holiday season with those you love.

Even when your family is very generous, and your kids make a killing on Christmas morning, sometimes the best gift is a perfect puddle.

Of course for parents, the best gift is kids playing nicely.

This year, may Santa bring you that thing you really want, may you be able to maintain your composure when your relatives start talking about current events and politics, and may there be enough cookies that you don’t have to arm wrestle your sister-in-law for the crumbs.

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Just Add Water: My Week Condensed 12/24/12

I was in the bath last week, and Lily thought I may want a bubble bath. This isn’t quite what I expected, but since my kids won’t give me five minutes of peace when I’m trying to marinate, this is the best I could hope for.

I took a blogging break last week, and I gotta tell ya-I didn’t like it. I shared some posts from the archives, which may be helpful for those of you traveling with short ones this season. Babies, toddlers, and bigger kids all need special consideration, and proper planning can make for a pleasant travel day.

We have friends with older kids that we spent time with this week. My kids adore those big kids, and Graham spent almost the entire time with a gigantic grin on his face. Those kids are awesome. They are seven and eight, but they are kind and engaged with my three and five year old, and I love that.

Lily and her first grade friend, A.
I don’t want to brag, but I chose a kick ass Crock Pot Thursday recipe. This teriyaki chicken is super yummy. No joke.
I know I’ve been watching too many episodes of BBQ Pitmasters when I say, “That’s a good looking smoke ring.” Related: That was some amazing prime rib. Also related: If you want to look cool with the boys, talk about the smoke ring. Bonus points for doing it while drinking whiskey.
I love the website Aiming Low. It is comprised of “a group of women/men/moms/dads/bloggers/friends/writers that believe that there’s no shame in serving mac and cheese for dinner three nights in a row, Febreeze was created to make a questionably clean shirt smell ready-to-walk-out-the-door-fresh and that slack isn’t a way of life…it’s an art.”
It goes on to say, “if you’re tired of being told that you should be better than you are…a better spouse, a better parent, a better cook, a better housekeeper, a better friend, a better all-around-person…this is your place.”
You guys, they’re talking about me, right? Head on over and check out their newest guest writer. Hint: It’s ME!
If you have houseguests, and you never want them to leave, set up the guest bath like my mother and stepfather did. I could stay here for quite some time.
I don’t even have a Keurig at my house, but they have one in the bathroom. Please note the Irish Cream next to the tray of sugar cookies. I truly couldn’t love my mom more. Related: I’m glad my fat pants are handy, cuz my skinny jeans are protesting.