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Life: we all get through it one way or another.

Updated: 2016-09-07T23:30:54.782-05:00


Ridiculously Simple Overnight Oven Chicken or Turkey Carcass Stock


I'll start by saying I hate the word "carcass." It conjures images of road kill and vultures and grinning rotted skulls. However, it seemed to be accepted terminology for what's left over after a roasted bird is picked of its choice meat, so I'll use the word. Even though it makes me... Ew.I've read many articles on stock-making. Everyone has an opinion. People will wax poetic about aromatics, clarity, "fouling" the stock by stirring or boiling or *gasp* putting in the wrong part of a vegetable, or breaking the bones. Entire litanies abound, and you could truly scare yourself right out of making one of the easiest, most magically rewarding things to ever come out of your kitchen if you let THEM get in your head.Don't let THEM get in your head.If you can roast a bird, you can make stock. Heck, even if you can't roast a bird: say it came out overdone, underdone, or you just picked up a rotisserie bird at the store; you can still make this poultry-infused liqueur of the gods.The beauty part? You don't even need to dirty another pan. You're welcome.So, here goes: your bird (one turkey or two chickens) is picked mostly clean. Save those parts-es that no one wants: skin, bones, fat, wingtips, neck, gizzards. If you didn't use the drippings from your bird for gravy, pour those in too. Just leave out the liver - it's mushy and too bitter. Hack the carcass up Dexter-style so it'll fit back in your roaster pan. I just use an el cheapo Granite Ware turkey-sized roaster: you know, the porcelain-on-steel one your mom had, and your grandma, and your great-grandma... Probably blue with white speckles. Throw all those beautiful bird parts back in the roaster.Now here's where you can get a little fancy. Or not. Your stock, your choice.I like my stock really golden-brown. To me it tastes richer. But hey, some don't. No matter what, this isn't going to be the neon-yellow broth you get from bullion or a can, but if you wanna kick it up a flavoriffic notch, roast those bones at 400 degrees for about 20 min. They'll turn brown and start to smell amazing.Or just skip the roasting.Either way, the next step is to throw some aromatics in there. Now some will cry "BLASPHEMY!!!" because they think cooking the aromatics overnight "dulls" them and leads to "one-dimensional" stock. And hey, they're probably right. But I'm no stock connoisseur and I'm not trying to win $10,000 on Chopped. "Multi-dimensional" or not, this stuff is from a totally different dimension than store bought cans, cartons, or cubes. It's not gonna taste anything other than amazing.THEY would wait to add the aromatics until an hour before the stock is done. That's great, but I'm not giving up an hour of beauty sleep to get up and add aromatics. So unless THEY are swinging by at 5am to do this for me, I'll be adding my aromatics with everything else.Toss in an onion, cut in half or quarters, skin on is fine. You'll be straining it all later. Break a couple celery stalks into 3 or 4 pieces and chuck 'em in there. Also a couple handfuls of baby carrots or two regular carrots broken into a few pieces. Throw in a bay leaf if you like... it's not the end of the world if you don't have one. If you have other root veggies you like, add them too! I hear parsnips are good. Some people like parsley or even a bouquet garni, and that's probably where adding late in cooking would pay off the most. Me? If I want that stuff I'll add it when I use the finished product. Same for salt: add it when you use the stock for it's final purpose. You don't want over-salty stock.Once you've got it all in there, just pour cold water over it all. If you're feeling fancy, use filtered stuff. Heck, use Evian if you want - it's your baby. Barely cover everything with water. Then stick the pan back in the oven - woah there, partner! First turn it WAAAY down. 180 degrees. You don't want this goodness boiling (refer to above: "fouling")... THEY actually have an important point here: boiling all night will break your bones and veggies down to mush.Now walk away. You heard me. No skimming or pot-watching require[...]

Lulu's Birthday Cake, 2012


Just had to share a pic!

Lulu wanted a "Sushi Cake" for her birthday... well, here it is! What fun!!!

Asian Sesame Noodles


Tonight I just wanted something simple. Simple and tasty. I've always wanted to find a good asian sesame noodle recipe but every time I've tried I've been disappointed. Usually they're too salty or too bland... or, surprisingly, both.

I looked all over for recipes, took what I wanted from each and added my own twist - and I think I hit on a winner. These turned out just how I'd hoped; well worth the little bit of heartburn from all the lovely raw garlic in these. Just eat 'em with a couple of TUMS if raw garlic gets to you.

You can use whatever kind of noodles you like - just plain old thin spaghetti would work fine. I used Barilla Pasta Plus, partly because I'm trying to be healthy, and partly because I like the texture and chew. I might try these with some kind of an asian noodle if I run across some at the store. Even if I never do these are going to become a staple at our house!

Variations, if you're interested, are adding green onions, rice wine vinegar, or if you like things a little spicy, some red pepper flakes.

Asian Sesame Noodles

1 pkg. Barilla Pasta Plus Thin Spaghetti - cooked, run under cool water, and drained
2 Tbs. Sesame Oil
4 Tbs. Canola Oil
2 - 2 cloves garlic, minced very fine
1/4 c. Tamari Soy Sauce
1 Tbs. Hoisin Sauce
1/2 Tbs. Oyster Sauce
1 Tbp. Sugar
2 Tbs. Sesame Seeds, toasted
Few Tbs. Water (enough to thin out to thin consistency)

Whisk all ingredients except pasta together in a bowl, pour over pasta and toss. Serve chilled. Makes plenty for leftovers!

Spaghatta Pah!!!


Miss Lulu loves to cook. Actually both of my kiddos love to cook, and I love to cook with them. Yeah, it's messy. Yeah, it takes time. But these are precious moments, people. They will remember cooking with me and how much they loved it for the rest of their lives. The other day we made Spaghetti Pie, Lulu and I. Where was Plato? Out back making a snow fort with the neighbor boy. That was fine, Lu and I got to have some quality girl-time. I wish my stupid camera hadn't been out of battery when she was up to her elbows in spaghetti, egg, and cheese... *sigh*. The visual will have to live in my memory. Or we will have to make it again. She was so proud of herself when the pies came out. They tasted darn good too! This recipe makes 3 pies. You could easily cut it down if you don't need that many, but - like lasagna - these are freezable and can reheat in a jiff for another evening.(Did I just actually use, "in a jiff" in asentence? yikes)I took a pie to work and my coworkers raved. Wow. Who knew something so simple that a 7-year-old could make it could be so tasty?Like many of my recipes, I created this from several I found online. I guess you could call it a recipe mash-up. I always have to write things down when I cook so if it turns out well, I can remember what I did! Only thing I might change about this is maybe add a ricotta cheese layer on top of the spaghetti and under the meatballs and sauce. You could add any pizza-y toppings you like as well (black olives, mushrooms, pepperoni). Sky's the limit here. Enjoy!Here's the recipe:Spaghetti Pie (makes 3 - 9” pies)1 pkg. (14 oz.) of dry spaghetti, cooked and rinsed3 eggs½ c. grated parmesan cheese½ tsp. garlic powder½ tsp. salt 2 jars spaghetti sauce (like Prego)½ pkg. frozen meatballs, reheated1 pkg. deli-sliced provolone1 c. shredded mozzarellaBeat eggs with parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and parmesan cheese. Add cooked spaghetti. Here’s where the kids can use their (clean) hands and toss the spaghetti, with the egg and cheese mixture. Press 1/3 of the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9” pie dish, creating a “crust” of spaghetti. Repeat with 2 more pie dishes. Sprinkle 1/3 c. mozzarella over each crust.Quarter the meatballs and put 1/3 of the total in each pie. Evenly distribute the sauce over the 3 pies. Evenly distribute the provolone slices over the 3 pies.Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until crust is a little crunchy and cheese begins to bubble. Serve hot, cut into wedges, with extra cheese or sauce as desired. At this point you can cool and freeze any uneaten pies. To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bake at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes, until warmed through.[...]

Peel and Eat Beer Shrimp


I've been cooking more lately; my life is back on track and I'm feeling kinda inspired. I tend to look at a lot of recipes online and then sort of come up with my own ideas. The problem is, if I don't write them down I forget about them. The other problem is, if I write them down, I tend to lose the recipes!So this won't be a fancy, photo-laden collection of recipes. It's just my e-scribblings; the blog seemed like a good place to jot 'em down because no matter how long I neglect it, it's always right back where I left it!Peel-And-Eat Beer Shrimp1 lb shrimp, about 24-ct size1 bottle beer (whatever you like; I used Michelob)1 lemon2 Tbs Old Bay Seasoning2 Tbs salt1/2 onion, halved againwater (if needed)butterDevein the shrimp but leave the shells on. This sounds like a lot of work, and it kinda is, but I used kitchen shears and just cut down the back of the shell and pulled out the vein. You might get lucky and get your meat counter guy to do it, or you might get REALLY lucky and find them already done that way!In a stockpot over med-hi heat, fry up the onion in a little butter. Leave the onion in big hunks because you're gonna get rid of it. Sprinkle in the Old bay and Salt, and when the onion is sizzling, juice the lemon into the mix, and throw in your lemon halves too. Pour in the beer and reduce the heat to med low. Simmer about 15 min. With a slotted spoon, remove the onion. You can keep the lemon in there. Toss in the shrimp and cook them about 2 minutes. No more than 3. They overcook fast! Remove them with the slotted spoon and set aside (in the fridge if you want them cold). Crank up the heat on the broth, and boil it until it reduces a bit.If you want to eat them warm, ladle a bit of the broth into dipping cups and add a pat of butter. Start peeling and dipping. This is what we did. They didn't last long!If you want to eat them cold, forget the butter and cool off the broth, then pour over the shrimp (don't do this with hot broth - it will end up overcooking your shrimp). Store in the fridge until ready to eat - preferably the next day. Serve with lemon wedges and whatever sauce you like... but you won't need sauce!Hot or cold, you could sprinkle a little extra Old Bay on 'em, and they would probably look something like the peel-and-eat shrimp at Bubba Gump's:...but without all the gimmick. Run Forrest, Run![...]

Listen Up, Whirlpool...


Lulu was getting ready this morning with me, in the bathroom. It seems like most mornings that's where everyone ends up; 2 kids, me, 2 dogs... total insanity. Why? It’s the warmest room in the house!! Another on my list of Reasons I Can't Wait For Spring, right behind the fact that it was -16 degrees outside today. Fahrenheit. Without "wind chill factor."
She was getting ready to put on her pants, some stretchy leggings, as per her usual. The child is a fashion Diva at the age of six; she rarely wears jeans or pants of any kind that aren’t “skinny.” As she was trying to decipher front from back, she stopped and held out the pants for my inspection.  
“See these? Mom?” They were just leggings that were designed to look like painted-on denim jeans. “Do you know my other ones that look like this, but they’re sparkly?” I nodded, trying to simultaneously listen and not to burn my forehead with the curling iron.
“My other ones are getting bigger. They’re getting so big they don’t fit right.”
This was confusing to me. “Bigger? How?”
“Well, Grandma (X-MIL) is MAKING them bigger when I go to her house.”
Now I was thoroughly nonplussed. “How in the world is she making them bigger?”
“I don’t KNOW!!!"  She actually stomped her little foot with frustration. "They're my favorite ONES too!!! I think when she puts them in the washer she pushes the “MAKE BIGGER” button!!!”
Ah, well, that explained it quite nicely. “Oh my, honey... you’ll have to ask Grandma what kind of a washer she has… I’d LOVE to have a MAKE BIGGER button on my washer! Then I wouldn't have to buy you new clothes every month!”
She made a disdainful face; you know the one only a six year old girl can muster. The last thing I heard as she pushed past me to leave the crowded bathroom was her muttering: “I’ve GOT to stop letting her do my laundry...”

What Happened in 2010


So it’s been awhile… quite awhile, really. And a lot has happened since I was last on here regularly. It’s been such a rollercoaster, my life, and the ride seems to be coasting toward the station… at least this part of it. Will I go around again? Or will I be able to get off this crazy thing for a little bit?  Only time will tell. What I’m about to write is hard for me. It paints me in what could be seen as a negative light. It makes me feel weak and vulnerable to put it all down, but I think it will be cleansing in a way. Those who know me in real life love me, and I feel it’s unconditional love.  My biggest fear concerning those who know me is…. Well, it seems stupid when I put it in writing, but it’s that they might see me as flawed, imperfect, weak. Pride is a hard thing to put aside, but in the interest of making peace with my past, I must squelch my pride and humble myself to tell this tale. Mind you, I wouldn’t change a bit of this… really; I wouldn’t change any of the twists, turns, speed bumps or potholes on the road of my life. The road of my life has brought me to where I am, and where I am is where I am supposed to be… and it is good. Being human, I’m finding, means we are all weak in some ways, all imperfect, no matter how hard we try to be otherwise. For some of us, life just happens to put us in situations that prey upon our weakest points. The choices we make in those situations define us, and in my case the choices I have made have brought me to a new happier place in my life… but at the expense of my pride and in some ways, my self-image. Heavy, right? Well, sit back and listen to my confessional... my “tell-all.” If I were a celebrity I’d be all over the cover of the tabloids. I’ve been married since June of 1996. I married JeepMan at the tender age of 23, after a 2 ¾ year courtship… I used to joke that we would have never gotten married had I not told him when and where it was going to happen. In hindsight, that’s a rather bitter observation… but again, I wouldn’t change the course of my life. I used to say that I knew it was true love with JM because we could have arguments and I never once worried about whether those disagreements changed how he felt about me. I actually liked that he challenged me. We were intellectually compatible, and he had a will to match my own. So many other boyfriends I had just steamrolled with my personality. We were the very definition of “opposites attract.” Me: dreamy, abstract, emotional… Him: realist, concrete, logical. I felt we balanced each other out, and I was attracted to those things in him that I didn’t see in myself. I came from a very harmonious home; he came from an impossibly broken one. I knew so much of love, of family… he knew so little. I felt sure I could teach him to love and trust and bring him the happiness that comes with having those things. He seemed to want what I had to offer. It wasn’t a pity thing. It was a desire to nurture and give, which is the core of my personality. And so we said our vows on that hot day in June 1996, and it seemed right. We hadn’t planned a honeymoon, as we were both still in college. We took an impromptu trip to Colorado as our best man had given us plane tickets as a wedding gift. We stayed in (essentially) a frat house for a few days and slept on a futon. It was fun, but we always said we should plan a “real” honeymoon someday. We never did. The first 5 years passed fairly uneventfully. I worked as he went to school, then we moved and both worked. We had a lot of fun those years, and had our arguments too. I recall in particular when I burned my foot by spilling a pot of boiling spaghetti on the floor. Where a “normal” reaction to such an incident would be concern for my well-being, his first instinct was to be extremely angry with me. In retrospect this was a red flag – it was[...]

Plato's Plans


As I was getting ready this morning, Plato (now 9 1/2) was in a rather expansive mood... likely in part due to the sugar-high he was on from the Oreos he had eaten for breakfast. It was one of those increasingly infrequent mornings where he just talks and talks and talks... and I just listen, nod at appropriate intervals, and murmur, "mmmhmmm..." every once in awhile.

But I'm not ignoring him, oh no. I love to hear him talk. I drink in his words like they were the elixir of life; and I suppose in some way they are.

Lately Plato has been rather fixated on planning out his life. It is so like him; I have always thought of him as a rather old soul, and others have pointed this out from time to time as well. School has provided many opportunities for him to become interested in a variety of topics, which lead to his random announcements as to what he is going to be when he grows up.

Thankfully, he has outgrown the urge to be a garbage man... I mean, *ahem,* Sanitation Engineer. And I am not saying that because of the pay: I honestly can't imagine my little man working in STINK all day every day!!!  No, his interests of late tend to lean toward more lucrative professions which puts me in a bit of a mommy-quandry: I don't want to push him toward working "for the money;" at the same time I know that working for little money can really suck rocks. So if he leans toward something financially appealing, and happens to LIKE it too... well, doesn't that mean I should nudge him in that direction while he is interested? That doesn't make me a bad mom, does it?

This morning he told me that he is going to hold down several jobs. He is going to be an orthodontist, a professional baseball player, an architect, and a chemist. All of which, he points out, pay well. I told him I'm just glad he is planning to do something that he loves when he grows up. He says he will.

He paused a bit and I checked his reflection in the mirror as I applied my mascara. He was in classic Plato "thinking stance:" head down, hands in pockets, rocking on his toes a bit as he studied them. I could almost hear the cogs turning in his little head. Something inaudibly clicked, and he suddenly looked up at me. "Mom?"


"Do people actually get PAID to drive a zamboni?"

It was really really hard to stifle a giggle, or to keep from poking my mascara wand into my eyeball. "...well, I mean... of course they do. They don't do it for free."

His shoulders dropped and he blew out the breath he had been holding. "Oh GOOD.  'Cause that's how I am going to help pay my way through college. I'll drive a zamboni part time."

Quite satisfied with himself, he turned to head to the living room. Calling back over his shoulder he reassured me, "See Mom? I've really got my life all figured out. It's gonna be AWESOME."

Yes, Plato. It is going to be awesome. You rock, buddy. Mama loves you.

Lulu Out of Left Field


My 5 year old blows my mind.  I swear she's 5 going on 15.

Which scares the bejeezus out of me.

Now, we are fairly selective in the TV we let the kids watch; I even turn off some of the "kids' shows" on Nickelodeon because I don't think they're age-appropriate to a 5 year old.  So I ask you, where the HELL did this scenario come from?


I had gotten out of the shower and was standing wrapped in a towel getting my hair, makeup, etc done.  We don't have much modesty in our house, so the bathroom door was open.  Lulu wandered in and was watching me get ready. 

Soon she walked over and said, "Mommy, you look beautiful." I thanked her (so sweet) and she then observed that my towel looked like a pretty dress.  I laughed and said it kind of did, and that she had a good imagination.

She then pulled aside the towel a bit and said, "But you wouldn't really wear this as a dress 'cause everyone would see your naked, right? Well, except Daddy.  Thats ok, right?"

I laughed again and said she was correct. 

She was thoughtful for a bit.  "Mommy?"

"What, Sweetie?"

"Well, um.... have any of your ex-boyfriends seen your naked?" she asked, the picture of kindergarten innocence.

After I un-swallowed my own tongue, I smoothly lied, "Oh, gosh, no honey!"

"Why not?" Again with the wide eyes.

"Well, I mean... because."

Blank stare.

"Well, because people don't show other people 'their naked' unless they're family or married."

She mulled this over and her little chin jutted out. "Well!  That just makes me SAD," she said in her best 15 year old voice.

"Why would you say THAT?" I countered.

"Because I think all your ex-boyfriends should have gotten to see your naked!!!"

And with that she stalked off.

If I'd had the guts, I would have chased her down and interrogated her till she spilled. 

But I'm a chicken, and I do NOT want to cross that road just yet. 

(forehead slap)

Overheard #1 and Lulu Pops The Question


As the kids get older, they keep each other company a lot.  Plato and Lulu get along awfully well for a brother and a sister.  Sure, they quibble, quarrel, and push each others' buttons. But most often they are laughing and playing together.  Lately I've been lucky enough to overhear a lot of their private conversations.  I can't believe some of the things they talk about!  Above all, though, it fills my heart with that Mommy-love.... you know what I'm talking about Moms, that indescribable feeling of love, pride, blessedness, and something more that makes your chest feel like its going to burst.

This afternoon as I was preparing the ingredients for our Snow Day Cookie Fest, the kids were parked in front of the TV ('cause I'm such a great mom).  They were watching Tom and Jerry, the cat and mouse cartoon I grew up with in the 80's.  They loved it!!  Cracking up hysterically and chattering to each other about what was going on.  Eventually Lulu made the observation, "I wonder why they don't talk ever?"

Plato had apparently alreaady figured this out, because he didnt even pause as he answered, "Because it's an OLD cartoon, Lulu, and they didn't talk in OLD cartoons!!"

Guess that makes me OLD.


As I was tucking Lulu in to bed (remember, she's FIVE), we were going through our ritual bedtime kisses:  Butterfly Kiss (eyelashes), Eskimo Kiss (noses), Regular Kiss (lips), and a Biiiiig Hug. 

She held me in our Regular Kiss longer than usual, and when she pulled away she grinned at me.  "Mommy, we just had SEX!!!" she giggled.

Rather than grabbing her by her little shoulders and shaking her, demanding to know WHO has soiled my baby's pristine little mind, I pulled on my Calm Mommy Mask, complete with Composed Voice Technology. 

"What makes you say that, Lulu?" I asked.

"Well," she began, fixing me with the toddler version of the teenage standard 'my god you're dumb' look.  "When you kiss for a long time that's called sex." 

"No, it's not." I countered.

"What's sex, Mommy?"

I had not planned to have this conversation for a few more years; sheesh.

"We can talk about it some other time, Lulu.  It's time for you to go to sleep."  I flicked on her princess-crown nightlight, which seemed suddenly surreal in the context of the conversation. "I love you, Sweet Pea," I told her as I walked out of the room.

"You have to lay on top of each other while you're kissing for sex, right Mommy?" she called after me, her big hazel eyes and little upturned nose peeking up over her Dora The Explorer comforter. 

I sighed and turned slightly.  "No, Lulu. You don't have to." 

"But sometimes, right? Thats how Eva says you have sex"  (Eva is her older 1st grade friend.... her mom and I will be having a chat).

"Yes, sometimes.  But not always.  Goodnight Princess."  I walked out and shut off the hallway light.  From the recesses of her room I heard her muffled little voice:


Kid Funnies


Plato and Lulu are now 8 and 5, respectively.  They are both in elementary school, she in Kindergarten and he in 3rd grade.  I watch them interact with each other with a fair amount of nostalgia for my own childhood.  I have a little sister.  I remember many similar conversations, and the dynamic between my two is eerily similar to the dynamic I shared with little sis. 

No doubt there will be more to come on this subject, as they only become more  frustrating fascinating as they grow up.  For the purposes of this post, however, the theme is competition.

I suppose there's a natural amount of competition between siblings.  I imagine it's even healthy, and in the end prepares them in some way for adulthood.  Watching this dynamic evolve, as each becomes more sophisticated and skilled at "the game," is a real treat.  When I'm not banging my head against the wall, that is.

For example, one of their favorite new pastimes is "one-upping" each other. I picked them up from school last week, and our ritual conversation ensued: what did you learn today, who did you play with, what did you have for lunch, etc etc.

This particular conversation itself has evolved, with them reciprocating by asking questions of me as well: what did I do today, what did I have for lunch, etc.  I love this as I take it as a sign that they may be outgrowing (just a bit) their natural egocentricity. 

On this occasion, I informed them that I had eaten a banana for lunch.

To which Plato replied, "Well THAT's not much!"

And I confirmed that indeed, it was not.

"Well, the important thing is that you ate SOMETHING..." he wisely observed.

Not to be outdone, miss Lulu sat up straighter in her car seat and, in a measured (read: superior) cadence, pointed out that, "nooooOOOO..... What's IMPORTANT.... is that you didn't DIE!!!"

Smugly satisfied, she sat back in her booster, arms crossed over her chest and a signature Lulu smirk on her defiant little face. 

And who can argue with that kind of logic? I searched the rearview mirror, finding Plato's eyes already seeking mine.  I smiled at him.  He shrugged and rolled his eyes.

That's my boy.  Picking his battles already. 

And Lulu, her self-confidence ratcheted up a precious notch.

Hey, everyone's a winner.

O Tannenbaum...


Well since I'm home now, and jobless (for the moment), we went ahead and got our Christmas tree early this year. Last year? We didn't even go out and get a tree. We put up an old cheapo fake at the last minute and didn't take the time enjoy it at all.

Our current tree stands proud in the corner of the living room, all 8 feet of real Fraser Fir. The kids are thrilled, the scent of pine fills the house, and the season seems to have begun.

This evening we broke out the boxes of decorations and let the kids have at the tree. Of course only the bottom 5 feet or so got decorated, mostly in the front, but it was so cute!

I was in charge of unwrapping the ornaments and telling the kids stories about each one. "What's THIS one, Mommy?!" they chirp, offering me an ornament, breathless with excitment.

"This one is from your first Christmas, Plato...." I say, holding up a giraffe ornament with a little blue pacifier around its neck. His eyes widen and a smile of pure glee lights his face as he gingerly takes the ornament from me, handling it as if it is priceless.

"Me! Mommy, Me!!" squeals Lulu, as I search for something of hers. I pull out a large foam snowman that houses a picture of her at 6 months, fluffy hair and adorable toothless grin on display. "This is you when you were a tiny baby, Lulu..." She claps and giggles, bouncing excitedly. "Look at my fuzzy hair, Mommy!"

We compare Plato's hand size at age 5 months with his current size. We delicately handle homemade tatted snowflakes passed down through generations. The kids ooh and aah over ornaments dated years before either of them were born. "Yes, Mommy and Daddy DID celebrate Christmas before you two were born," I grin.

Designer trees are beautiful, even gorgeous, with their coordinated ornaments and perfectly placed lights. And sure, someday I want one. Maybe as my "second tree."

When I actually have a house large enough to accommodate a second tree. Which is hard to swing when you're jobless. But I digress.

For now, my mismatched ornaments and homemade keepsakes make the most beautiful tree I can imagine. Its uniquely ours, and will provide precious moments for years to come.

How about you, readers? Designer trees or memorabilia mish-mash? Do tell!

Pink Glove Dance for Breast Cancer Awareness


Okay I couldn't NOT post this once I saw it - a whole hospital community coming together to support breast cancer awareness. Oh sure, the dancing isn't professional like a flash-mob, but the enthusiasm is real and these people are having FUN! Fun - in a hospital. Where all too often the "classes" are separate (administration, doctors, nurses, lab, foodservice, housekeeping) and the politics and drama can run deep. Its inspiring to see all these people throwing off whatever hats they usually wear and just having a good time for a good cause. I hope you enjoy:

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A Door Closes....


Well its official - those of you who have contact with me on Facebook already know, but I have lost my job. It's been a bittersweet week, as this job loss was completely unexpected. Well, I mean, hindsight is 20/20, and looking back perhaps there were signs.... but it hit me fast and hard.

Perhaps that's a blessing.

All in all, though, I have reached another milestone in my life. My first "firing." OK technically I didn't get fired, I was given the option to resign. Which when I look back maybe I shouldn't have done. Maybe I should have made them fire me? Believe it or not, there are perks to being fired! Who knew? All I knew was that being fired sounded like the greatest of evils and I wanted to avoid it at all costs. So I resigned.

And since resigning I've had the best week I can remember in the past 2 years, vacations not included.

I've tucked my kids into bed every night. Smoothed the hair from their foreheads, and kissed their soft, chubby cheeks. I've refereed their arguments. I've read them stories. I've cooked! Full meals, and even dessert!! I'm rediscovering my inner domestic goddess.

Sundays are free of the "I've got to fly today" blues. I'm sleeping in a bed with my husband again. OK that's not all its cracked up to be: I have to fight for the covers and put up with his, ahem... odors. So a King Size Bed is probably in our near future, since LuLu tends to sneak in at night and she's the human equivalent of a baby squid, wrapping her limbs around the nearest body part - usually my head.

Oh sure, I'm losing the company's property: the car, the laptop, the printer.

The BlackBerry. Sweet Jesus, not the BlackBerry!!!

Aside from the money, that's the only thing I'll shed a tear over.

A door has closed. You know what that means, right?

(~looks around for the one that's opening~)

Preschool Graduation


Well its official - my baby has graduated preschool. Put away your Kleenex, it's okay, really. Funny thing is, I didn't know she was actually IN preschool. Come to find out, she has been in preschool for exactly 2 weeks. She turned 5 over Memorial Day weekend, and moved from the "4-year-old class" to Pre-K, aka Preschool. Two weeks!! And graduating already!! My Lulu, preschool prodigy. Takes after her mother, I'd say...!It was all very cute, in an eyerolling kind of way. The kids had fun, sang us some songs, pictures were taken, there was cake and punch. Most of the parents stood around and chatted, probably about their little geniuses. I was amazed at how many people seemed to be thoroughly caught up in the whole affair. We busted out as fast as possible. The fanfare was borderline nauseating.We had just endured what JeepMan calls a "Hallmark Holiday." An occasion made up for the sole purpose of selling a product. Now don't take this literally... I am not saying that Preschool Graduation was created for the selling of merchandise, but to me it illustrates the penchant for today's society to, as a friend of mine bluntly puts it, "glorify mediocrity."Some of you just gasped. You think I am calling my daughter "mediocre." Well, I suppose I kind of am. Webster defines it as "Of moderate to low quality," with a synonym of "Ordinary." Now I'm not calling Lulu "low quality," but in the vast spectrum of humanity, I suppose she is pretty ordinary. I mean, the kid is FIVE. Of course she's special and precious to us, and those who love her. But do I expect others to see her that way? You might say, "Of course!! Each child is precious and special and unique and wonderful!!" And I wouldn't argue with you. What you are likely implying, though, is that each child should be TREATED as special and unique and wonderful. And that's where I would have to politely disagree. I wouldn't presume for you to actively recognize and applaud my child's fabulousness with enthusiasm. The fact is, all children being unique, special, and precious... well doesn't that put them all on the same shelf? See? In the words of one of my favorite Demotivators: "Always Remember That You Are Unique. Just Like Everyone Else."Call me a kill-joy, party pooper, whatever... I just don't see the point of celebrating all these so-called "milestones." Its not for the kids. Lulu doesn't have any clue what just happened, she just knows we took her out for a Frosty afterward. And guess what? She and all her friends will be right back at school tomorrow like nothing ever happened. Its for the parents, and looking around the crowd at this gala event, there were two kinds: freakishly enraptured and checking their watches. Not much middle ground.To me a milestone should represent a pivotal point in the life of the person experiencing it. Birth, death, yes. Marriage, sure. Graduation... I suppose, but don't ask everyone and their friends' friends to celebrate with you. It makes people feel obligated and generally annoyed. Oh, they may come, but believe me, they are bored out of their minds. Now I don't assume I speak for everyone, but I certainly speak for many and likely a majority when I say that your graduation, or your child's graduation, is really only monumental to you, your child, and perhaps grandparents or very close relatives. To anyone else, it's 2 or more hours of life that they will never recoup. And be it known that I speak of high school graduation, or possibly college. Not Junior High. Or Primary School. Or Kindergarten.Or Preschool. Seriously, people. [...]

Alas, Poor Eggy... I Knew Him Well...


A couple weekends ago I was inside, folding laundry - one of my most detested domestic chores - when the kids rushed in excitedly from outside. I knew it was a big deal, as their physical presences were preceeded by pounding footsteps and breathless cries of, "It's MINE!" "Dad said I could hold it TOO! You have to SHARE!!" This is really nothing new in our house but I WAS curious as to what could have captivated them so thoroughly.As they burst into the living room, tromping all over and scattering my neat piles of freshly-folded laundry, their heavy breathing and dilated pupils spoke to the true extent of their excitement. They stretched all four of their hands toward me, together cupping something that they obviously considered highly precious.In the makeshift "nest" of their four hands was a perfect-looking Robin egg. Blue with tiny brown speckles, not even a miniscule crack in its shell. It was a little miracle of nature, and the kids were entranced. They were also FULL of ideas.Lulu's concern was property ownership, and she kept admonishing Plato, "It's OURS, Plato. Dad SAID. It's OURS, right Mommy?"Plato's concerns were for the egg. He was making plans to incubate it and hatch it, checking all over for a secure surrogate "nest" and appropriate nesting materials.While they were making themselves busy fulfilling this mission, I was left to babysit the newly christened "Eggy." I looked at him warily, wondering why exactly he was found on the ground intact, as opposed to in the security of his nest or smashed to bits by a pillaging marauder. I gingerly sniffed it. Much as I was certain I'd smell a rat, Eggy smelled just fine. I've heard of mother birds ridding their nests of rotten eggs, but I would figure if little Eggy was rotten, I'd be able to sniff him out pretty easily. Nope - he smelled like fresh mown grass and that's about it.I let the kids make him a nest from a paper cup and some layers of tissue paper. They each wanted to take turns "guarding" the nest, so I indulged their creative ideas for awhile. Eventually though, I told them that Eggy might prefer to sit in a quiet sunny corner of our kitchen. After much pressuring, they agreed reluctantly.That evening at the dinner table, Eggy was the topic of conversation. I tried my best to encourage the kids' imaginations without getting their hopes up too high. I kept mentioning that we didn't know what was actually in that egg, maybe there was no baby bird at all, or maybe it had died. Just to prepare them.They were not to be deterred, however... I overheard them conspiring together about how to get Grandma to give them her bird cage, since Eggy would definitely be needing one when he hatched.That night, all slept peacefully, and in the morning, Eggy got special status at the head of the table as the kids ate breakfast together. JeepMan and I went about our usual getting-ready-for-work routine. Nothing seemed particularly out of place.The kids were fed and dressed, JeepMan was ready to go, and I was putting the finishing touches on my makeup when from the kitchen came a loud "ARRRRGH!!!" of pure disgust. This was followed by several things simultaneously: the pounding of Lulu's feet as she ran full-tilt into the bathroom to wrap herself around my left leg, the roar of JeepMan yelling, "ALLRIGHT!! WHO DROPPED THE EGG?!?!" and the horrified wail of Plato screaming, "LULU!!! YOU KILLED EGGY!!!"Lulu had been on the verge of tears but this accusation from her brother could not go unaddressed. Jutting out her chin, she stomped back toward the kitchen yelling, "PLATO!! I DID NOT KILL EGGY!! HE WAS WOTTEN!!!" She got about three steps from the kitchen, clamped both han[...]

Okay, OKAY already!!!


So I just deleted approximately 250 "friends" from my facebook page. Well they weren't really friends - most were just random people that were playing the same dumb games I was playing... where you need lots of "friends" playing too in order to get anywhere.

Well I'm not playing anymore; it's a giant timesuck and the novelty has worn off.

It's a symbolic gesture. I have allowed FB to occupy way too much of my time since discovering it in....January maybe? But I'm back. I will TRY to post at least once a week. Really, really try. So please, my ever-so-patient and faithful readers: won't you come back to me?? I was lead astray by that demon FB, but the prodigal daughter has returned. Won't you welcome me with open arms?

To ease myself back into this blog thingy, I've decided to start slow and easy, with a meme.

What? Don't groan!! Memes can be good brain-juice stimulators!! And don't worry, I'm not tagging anyone. I've decided I don't play THAT game anymore either!! If you want to do this? Go right ahead!! And hey, let me know you did it cause I want to know. I'm there for you like that, see?

But otherwise, just read, and smile, and hopefully be glad I'm back. 'Cause I'm glad I'm back...


A, B, C, D, E, F . . .

A - Age: 36 (act surprised!!!)

B - Band listening to right now: Days of the New (Weapon & the Wound)

C - Career future: living it, baby

D - Dad's name: Bill

E - Easiest person to talk to: its a toss-up... either Gina or Nik

F - Favorite song: ONE? I have to pick ONE?

G - Gummy Bears or Gummy Worms: Chocolate

H - Hair: Blonde naturally, curly artificially

I - Ice Cream: Ben & Jerry's Magic Brownies

J - Jobs: waitress, nurse, clinical specalist

K - Kids: two - want one? (kidding... no really, I'm kidding)

L - Longest car ride ever: oh Lord, the bus trip to Disneyland in high school. Hell on Wheels.

M - Mom's name: Connie

N - Number of people you slept with: oh lots... wait, what? Oh. They don't really mean "sleep..."

P - Phobia[s]: Falling, Unfathomable measurements (infinity, eons)

Q - Quote: "Of course I don't have my underwear. I'm definitely not wearing my underwear." Raymond, *Rain Man*

R - Reason to smile: Love

S - Song you sang last: Days of the New - Touch, Peel & Stand

T - Time you wake up: when I have to, otherwise leave me alone!!

U - Unknown fact about me: If I tell you, then it will not be "unknown"

V - Vegetable you hate: onions (I hate the crunch *shudder*)

W - Worst habit: nail-picking

X - X-rays you've had: I get x-rayed nearly every day, folks.

Y - Yummy food: Seafood or Sushi

Z - Zodiac sign: Pisces - I'm a lover, not a fighter.

Okay, folks, we're rolling!! And if you have any post ideas, please let me know!!


Random Kid Funnies


It's been awhile since I've done any Kid Funnies - in part due to the fact that I'm around my kids a lot less. Nonetheless, they DO still say some hilarious things, and I sometimes have the presence of mind to write them down for publication! Here are a few of late:

Plato had his half-birthday celebration at school last month. He is a summer baby so never gets to do his ACTUAL birthday at school. He got to be the "Star of The Week," brought treats, the whole 9 yards. When I asked him about his special day, he said excitedly,"Mom!! For my birthday? In Music? The whole class sang happy birthday to me and I got to hit a BONG!!!"

I was speechless for a few seconds. Seeing the look on my face, he explained, "You know, like when we were at the Mongolian Grill and I put a tip in the jar and got to hit the BONG and make that loud noise?"

"Oh!! Honey, I think you mean a GONG..."

My dad sent us some pictures in an email of the President's visit to his hometown. He was involved in preparations for the President's visit, and got to watch the helicopters land and the president go to his limo, all from the roof of his work building. One of the pictures he sent was titled, "My Friends," and was a photo of 3 snipers posing with their "golf bags."

Try explaining snipers to a 4-year-old. Plato got it, but Lulu was just confused. I used an example of a butterfly flying across the street.

"See that butterfly? A sniper could shoot it with a gun and not miss it. They're really really good at shooting things."

She processed this for awhile, then asked, "....sooooo, they like to shoot butterflies?"

"No, honey, that was just an example!! Butterflies are small, and that one is far away, and a sniper can shoot something small from very far away, that's all I'm saying."

She was not to be deterred. "But butterflies won't hurt you, so you SHOULDN'T SHOOT THEM!!"

Another Plato-ism:

JeepMan: "I brought you kids some gum, who wants some?"

Plato/Lulu: "ME!!!"

Plato: "What kind is it?"

JeepMan: "Cinna-Mint"

Plato: "Sediment? What kind of gum is THAT?!?"

And the not-s0-funny:

Plato: "Mom? What does a boy have to do to help a girl make a baby?"

GAH!!! He's only 7!!

50 Lashes With A Wet Noodle


Oh my.

I am so delinquent!! My blogging has taken a backseat. Taken a hike. Gone on sabbatical.

I've ignored it horribly.

There are all kinds of excuses: busy with work (extremely), busy with other things (working out - good!) (Facebook - bad!), lack of inspiration.... blah blah blah. But you don't care about the excuses.

Some of you have told me you miss me; that's so sweet and I thank you so much. I've missed me, too. In a twisted way, I've sort of lost part of myself (the part you know here) in a quest to find myself (the thinner, inner me; the professional me).

Nothing radical or wacky has happened in my life, really. And I spend so much time away from my kids that there isn't nearly as much inspiration there, either. I am hoping I'm just in a doldrums stage of my life. The past 9 or 10 months has been one long "transition period;" that is, I'm following my gut instinct and waiting to make a big family decision until it feels right.

No, I'm not divorcing my husband (yet! lol). I'm deciding if, when, and where to relocate our little family for my job. See, I love my job. Really, truly love it. In 13 years as a career woman, I have never been able to say that. So I am loathe to give it up, but I also loathe the travel. The overnight stuff, fly in a plane, rent a car, stay in a hotel stuff. The travel issue is easily resolved: by moving.

Moving, though, isn't such an easy decision as it may seem. I am one of 2 children. JeepMan is an only child. My sister doesn't have children (yet). Therefore, my children are the ONLY grandchildren on both sides of our family. We live, quite literally, in between the grandparents. An hour east or west will land us at their homes. A half hour further west puts us at my sister's front door. It's really ideal.

We love our town. We love the kids' school. We love being able to see family whenever we want. JeepMan has almost 10 years at his job - which is good and bad. He doesn't love his job. He's just comfortable there.

If we move, the obvious location for us would put us 3 1/2 hours from my folks', 5 from my in-laws. It would be a bigger city, but really it wouldn't offer us any great benefit other than the fact that I would be home most nights. No great recreation opportunities, no beautiful scenery, no family, higher cost of living, questionable job for JeepMan...

But oh, the lure of being home most nights.

Other options are hope and pray something amazing happens with my company closer to home, or say heck with it and grab a job with my company somewhere cool, like Colorado. Really, being 8 hours from our family wouldn't be that much different than being 4-5 hours!! And I've always wanted to live near mountains.

*sigh* sorry to be a downer. I suppose this is why I haven't written in so long!!

I'll collect some more kid funnies and be back in a bit. Thanks for sticking with me!! <3

Kid Funnies


A couple quickie kid funnies from this weekend:
Today I decided to exercise at home rather than at Curves. I changed into my yoga pants and tank top, and as I was changing Lulu said she wanted to "exter-size" with me. I said sure, and we proceeded.

As we were stretching on the floor in Child's Pose, Lulu and I were making faces at each other from under our arms. We were giggling like crazy!

(image) As we rolled to our sides, Lulu asked me, "Mommy, why are you growing your hair so long?" I HAVE been growing my hair for the past few months, and was surprised she'd suddenly made an issue of it.

"Well, honey, I want a different hairstyle. And when it's long, I can pull it back into a ponytail."

She stared at me a moment with her brow furrowed, then seemed to grasp what I was saying.

"No, Mommy, not THAT hair!! I was talking about your armpits!"

Guess its been a while since I shaved. *blush*


Plato was snuggling in bed with me this morning. He was in a speculative mood. We were suddenly talking about life after death.

"Mom? When we die we turn into angels, right?"

Right, honey. That's what I think.

"Well, if you die before me, you'll be an angel first. When I die will I be able to see you ever again?"

Of course, Plato!

"Well, how will I find you? Or how will you find me?"

Well, honey, when people love each other very much, their spirits can always find each other, no matter how far apart they may seem.

He mused on this for a long moment.

"Like how? Echolocation?"

Holy crap. This kid is unbelievable!(image)

27,000 Feet


I fly a lot. Several times a week, usually. Funny thing is, a year ago I hated flying.

I didn't mind when I was a kid; it was exciting, adventuresome. But then I had kids. Somehow being up here, while everyone I love is down there, freaked me out entirely. I even had to get prescription medication to help me fly without fighting the compulsion to rip out the exit door and put myself out of my misery!

A year and hundreds of flights later, I am at 27000 feet again. Behavioral modification therapy (entirely self-guided) has worked wonders, and now I am one of those freaks of nature that can sleep through all the pings and weather updates, pee during turbulence withouit getting my ass stained blue, and devote my entire attention to my book through the bumpiest takeoffs and landings.

I'm a Frequent Flyer, officially.

As such, I always want the aisle seat. Of course there's the legroom issue, but I can also get off the plane and make my connection, rental car, or home more quickly (really! 10 minutes can make or break you!). Mostly its because I'm just impatient.

I used to request a window seat. Yes, REQUEST. I wanted to stare out the window at the scenery. Feel the sensation of the ground falling away and my stomach falling with it. Find shapes in the puffy clouds.

That was the dreamer in me, and I've put her away a lot lately. I don't have the time.

I found her again today. My case cancelled, and I had to get a standby flight. I made it, got on board, and the plane was nearly empty. The seats were nice and new, it was a comfortably warm temperature, and the air portals were blowing cool air gently on my face. The flight attendants were pleasant, and Captain Dan came out to greet us personally.

I still got my aisle seat, but there was no one next to me and the windows were clean and scratch-free.

I feel good today. Really, truly, good. And I'm headed home. Tonight I will be holding my children in my arms and kissing their luscious round cheeks.

Basking in my contentment, I did not open my book. Instead, I watched out the window. Watched as the ground fell away, buildings shrinking exponentially. I gave myself over to centrifugal force and sank into my seat as the plane banked steeply but smoothly. I closed my eyes and luxuriated in the warmth of the sun on my face as the plane burst through the heavy blanket of clouds.

It's always sunny up there. I tend to forget that, or not care. Up there, there is no spatial reference. I could be giant or tiny.

An airplane is a curiously intimate setting. I'm as alone as I want to be. But if the situation is right, I might make a brief new acquaintance.

And the white noise is lovely, muting the ambient noise of conversation and allowing me to fold into myself and float gently and weightlessly in my head. Its almost as nice as silence.

At 27000 feet, there is no stress. Phones are off. Computers are off. No one will fault me for being unavailable; I was on a plane. Of course.

But all good things, as they say....

Every flight ends in an airport. And airports are the polar opposite of 27000 feet.

No wonder everyone is in such a hurry to board the plane.

I Hate My Husband


So I'm not into New Years' Resolutions. I think they're lame. I don't get why you have to have a special day to make commitments to change.That said, the timing of my commitment to get into better shape and lose some weight was, well... coincidental.I refuse to call it a New Years' Resolution because if I do, I will surely break it.For the past few years, as my metabolism has slowed and my diet and exercise regime has remained unchanged, the pounds have crept on. My recent goal for the dreaded "Holidays" has been to not GAIN any weight, and I have succeeded.Weight gain or no, however, I am always left with a "holiday hangover." Not the alcohol-induced kind, but the overindulgent kind. I love good food. I have a horrible sweet tooth. And in a social situation, it's very hard for me to monitor what's going in my mouth. So while I might not eat in excess, I certainly eat poorly. Fat after fat, carb after carb. By January I feel like a giant beached walrus. Every year.Well this year, I decided to make a significant change. Until recently, I didn't need to exercise to lose weight. Cut the portions, moderate the simple carbohydrates, watch the fats: PRESTO! 20 lbs lighter.Not so much this last year.Is 35 a magic number? Did my metabolism hit a predestined wall? Who knows. Who cares?The end result is the same. Dieting alone wasn't working.I'm not stupid. I KNOW exercise is important. I have always done some form of core/strength training. I love resistance training. Isometrics. Yoga. Pilates. Abs, buns, thighs. Bring it.I despise cardio. Always have. Even in high school, in my prime, running track, I hated it. Hate the feeling that I can't catch my breath. Hate the burning in my lungs, the coppery taste in my mouth. The hammering heart. The rubber muscles. The lactic-acid buildup: the "burn."And conventional cardio is just plain Bor-Ing.I don't run. I won't ever run again...on purpose. As in - if I'm not being chased. My knees, hips, and ankles can't take it with my arthritis. It hurts my back when my, *ahem*, ample bosom is bouncing along (trust me, they don't make a bra that can restrain these girls on a jog!).Treadmills, stair climbers, ellipticals, stationary bikes: dull, dull, boring, dull. Music? Not a distraction. TV? Book? Nope and nope.So I finally found the solution... SNEAK in the cardio. Get it with your resistance training!I joined Curves. 30 second intervals of intensive targeted-muscle-group resistance training, with 30 seconds of recovery (cardio) in between. For 30 minutes.You get the cardio from the resistance training. GENIUS!!But this isn't an ad for Curves. Do what you want, I don't care. Whatever works for you.The point is, I'm proud of myself. I've been vigilant about my diet. I've been busting my butt at Curves. Hey, baby... I've lost SEVEN pounds. In three weeks. Not bad, you might say.What's the problem?, you might ask.It's HIM. JeepMan.My rat-bastard husband.Don't get me wrong, I love him.But I hate him too.That Man has not lifted a weight. He has not done any form of cardio outside of his daily routine. He has not changed a THING except his diet, which is essentially the same as my diet, just slightly bigger portions.And he has lost 20 lbs since Jan 3rd.Stab me in the eye with a fork. Push bamboo splinters under my fingernails. Put me in a roomful of chocolate that I can't eat.It's not fair. I hate him.[...]



Sorry I've been AWOL. I've been swamped with work, trying to be a mom, and sticking to my new exercise routine. I have a big meeting coming up next week, ALL week, and I seem to be getting behind in everything, including blogging and visiting blogs.

I've also become somewhat addicted to Facebook, and I'm trying to wean myself. It's a process.

So please don't leave me. I will be back.

Thanks. :)

Christmas: The Afterword


Sorry I've been away but I've been kinda busy with work and I actually joined a GYM! If you can call Curves a gym. It's circuit training, and it's kicking my butt. In a good way. I think.Anywhoo - I promised you a belated crappy Christmas gift story, so here goes. Coincidentally, this gift was also from "Unclue" Mike, the giver of the aforementioned stolen coffee. He got the kids each a book, one that you special order from some company that then inserts the child's name into the story as a protagonist. Sounds like something any 4 or 7 year old would be pleased with, right?Plato got one of these when he was 3, also from Mike, who spelled his own name throughout the book as "Unclue Mike." Plato couldn't have cared less, but it made JeepMan and I snicker-snort every time we read it.So I wondered, as these books arrived in the mail, if the same mistake would have been repeated. Plato would certainly notice now, and even Lulu might: she writes her name everywhere she can, and has even learned some other words to read and spell.The wail that erupted from her as she opened her book was pathetic. I tried to calm her and find out what was wrong, and finally just grabbed the book. He'd spelled her name wrong. Phonetically. As in "Loo-Loo." She was so mad that Plato got his own book and she didn't that she flung the book in the trash and had a temper tantrum right in the living room.Poor thing. All I could do was comfort her and explain that Unclue Mike isn't the best speller in the world, but at least he tried.She was having none of it. I think he's on her naughty list until further notice. That girl can hold a grudge, big time.--------------------------------The next Christmas epilogue involves MIL. You didn't think it would all just stop because Christmas is over, did you? Oh, no!It must be understood that MIL had specifically asked us not to get her the usual college-team apparel and knick-knacks that we usually get her (she's a knick-knack fiend), and instead asked for some music CDs and maybe a bottle of wine.My MIL fancies herself a wine snob. Because her friends fancy themselves wine snobs. So I suppose she is a wine snob by osmosis, because she certainly hasn't studied wine or had a wide range of exposures to wine. Regardless. By turns her self-proclaimed snobbery can be humorous (she calls "Riesling" "Reasoning"), annoying, or downright embarassing (complaining over a perfectly good bottle of wine at a restaurant).Well we got the CDs, and ended up getting her 2 bottles of wine. She only likes sweet whites. Recently she's begun to try reds, but only with ice in them, as she thinks they taste horrid at room temperature. Hmmm....her friends must be dabbling in reds as well...We didn't go too much out on a limb for fear her head might explode: we got her her favorite brand of Riesling, and a second bottle of the same brand's Late Harvest Riesling (sweeter). Reasoning (ha ha) that the sweeter the better, I figured we could introduce her to something new while not venturing too far outside of her, *ahem* 'area of expertise.'She seemed pleased with the wines when she opened them, and we had her favorite with dinner. I suggested she open the other so we could compare, but she refused. We told her to just let us know what she thought.JeepMan went to visit her the week after the holiday, after dropping me off at the airport. He'd actually forgotten about the wine, but he hadn't been in the door for 10 minutes when[...]

Christmas With the In-Laws: A Synopsis


I abandoned, years ago, the hope that whomever I married would be bringing me into a family similar to my own: full of harmony, love, acceptance, goodwill, and contentment. Those dreams were laid aside, albeit sadly, when I knew that JeepMan was the man I would marry - IN SPITE OF his family.Part of the reason I love him has to do with the fact that he has overcome such a crummy childhood and forged his own path to his destiny of choice rather than stumbling blindly down the well-trodden path that so many of his family before him have chosen. You can read more here about The Story of JeepMan. For now, I'll move past that to this very Christmas.I am frequently reminded, not-so-nicely, about the stark differences between the family I was born into, and the family into which I married. But never so harshly as the annual debacle they call Christmas.Invariably, it begins with the fact that no one seems to be able to remember where our little family spent the actual day of Christmas the year before (we do "every-other-year" for Christmas and Thanksgiving). This year, it was Christmas with the In Laws, even though we did Thanksgiving with them as well, since they came on vacation to Moab with us.Did MY family complain? Did they act jealous? OF COURSE NOT. Their comment was, "Well, with Tiff's new job she doesn't get Christmas off this year anyway, so that should work out great! We'll have it next year!" God love 'em...Christmas at the In Laws it was: and so the Rube Goldberg Machine was set in motion.The task: get through Christmas without permanent harm, physical or emotional, being inflicted on any family member. Sounds simple, right?Well, HA!! I say... HA!It's NEVER simple when the InLaws are involved.It started about a week before Christmas. A letter arrived at our house. Addressed to the children. FROM SANTA. Postmarked? you guessed it: the InLaws hometown (forehead slap). The kids didn't seem to notice, nor did they seem to notice that "Santa" writes an awful lot like Grandma. The content was fairly benign, and the kids seemed to forget about it quickly. Until MIL mentioned it out of the blue a couple days later and I was on damage-control duty once again. I am making the most of these very few years of Santa-Faith, which are numbered, I know. Plato is 7 1/2 and has already expressed doubts. Lulu is darn sharp, and it won't be long after he abandons his belief that she will follow. So who knows? This (and every year to follow) could be IT; The Last Year. I'm determined not to make any false steps and give it all away.MIL certainly has good intentions, but is severely lacking in the stealth department. The kids stayed with her for 3 days before Christmas as MIL had those days off and I was out of town. Rather then make the kids go to daycare we figured they'd have more fun at her house. Which they did...When we arrived for Christmas, Lulu ran into my arms screaming, "Mama, Mama!! Santa Claus called us at Grandma's HOUSE! Plato wouldn't talk to him. He was scared. But I did! I told him I was a good girl this year and I want a horse for Christmas!!" Aside from the obvious issue with the horse, I was instantly pissed. I looked at MIL and she was grinning smugly. I raised my eyebrows, she didn't flinch. I looked at JeepMan and he was stunned as well. But Lulu seemed happy, so I figured, whatever. Not worth ruining Christmas over something like that.Later Lulu whispered breathily in m[...]