Monday, October 31, 2011

Touche (and Happy Halloween)

Me: Gianna, would you rather take a bath or a shower?
Gianna: I don't want to.
Me: Bath or shower.
Gianna: Why?
Me: Because your hair is dirty.
Gianna: Your hair is dirty, too.
Me: .....You're probably right.

And Happy All Hallow's Eve to you....may your children collect lots of delicious chocolates and forget about their existence, enabling you to partake of the spoils.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bacon Potato Cheddar Broccoli Soup. Yeah Buddy

 The days are growing shorter, the sun is getting weaker, there is a slight chill to the air, leaves are falling like golden rain. Fall means that all I want to do is bake and eat soup. Here is a recipe for a soup that is a current fav around here. Everything that is good in this life is in this soup.
it looks like there is yogurt in this grouping, but actually that's my homemade chicken stock, being stored in recycled yogurt containers.

 First, chop the onions, carrots, and celery and set aside.

 Slice the potatoes. I like to leave most of the peel on. I'm lazy like that, plus, all the good stuff is in the peel. Whatever I can do to reduce the mother-guilt, I will do.

In a large stock pot, get your bacon working. I'd go for at least 6 slices, but there such thing as too much bacon? Go strong and do the whole package. You  won't regret it.

After the bacon is fried, remove it to a plate and leave the grease. Add in the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. Add in the potatoes, cayenne pepper, thyme, salt, pepper, and the chicken broth. I make my own broth because I am awesome. And because I like things that are cheap, easy, and make me appear to be v. domestic and on top of my game.

Bring that whole show to a boil and then simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

While you are waiting for everthing to simmer, shred about 3 cups of cheddar cheese. Or you could cheat and buy it pre-shredded. No judging here.

Take this time to wash and chop the broccoli as well so it's

After the potatoes are soft, stir in the milk and crumbled bacon and allow the soup to return to a boil. Add in the broccoli and simmer until cooked. Don't be a hater and do something lame like try to use low-fat milk. Full fat is where it's at. Or, sometimes I do 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of half&half.

Stay with me, we're almost done! At this point I like to bust out my immersion blender and puree everything smooth, then I slowly stir in the cheese until it is all melted.

Serve with crusty sourdough bread.

Happy customers

  • 6-12 slices of bacon
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2  carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Fry bacon in large stock pot. Remove to plate and leave grease in pot. Add in carrots, onion, garlic, and celery and cook and stir until the onion is translucent.
  2. Stir in potatoes, chicken stock, cayenne, thyme, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Stir crumbled bacon and milk into the stock pot and allow the soup to return to a simmer.
  4. Stir in broccoli and and cook until the broccoli is tender
  5. Puree soup with immersion blender or by removing it to stand blender. Slowly sprinkle in shredded cheese and stir until fully melted.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Trip Down the Aisle

For some reason, this past weekend we thought now would be a good time to kick the kids out of our bed. So we all moved upstairs into one giant room, and bought a toddler bed off the Craiglist for Dominic. I would describe its style as "cheap, institutional."

Brad thinks maybe if we hang a straight jacket from it, that would help. It would certainly help toward our nightweaning/bedweaning efforts. For me. I can't think of anything I'd like more at 3 am with a wakeful toddler than solitary confinement. But I digress.

What this is really about is how, three nights in to the new sleeping arrangements, I am exhausted. Sunday am, we woke up for the 9:30 Mass at 9:15. Brad had already left for the 8 am Mass and headed straight to work, so it was solo-holiness for me. I thought I'd keep our day on track by attending a 10 am at a different parish. We arrived woefully late (after the homily. for those of you who aren't Catholic (yet..aha) that equals a good thirty minutes late. At least.) and slipped loudly and clumsily into the last pew. Things were going ok (by which I mean no hymn books had been destroyed yet and only one potty run and mostly happy toddler noises, as opposed to angry toddler noises) when Dominic received an altar call from the Holy Spirit.

He wandered away from me to the end of pew, and I let him go. I thought...."He's being so quiet. This is fine. There is no one to distract behind us. Besides.....I know he wants me to chase him. I am not giving him the satisfaction." But he kept on edging....edging....out of the pew. He paused as I crouched, butt hovering over my seat, calculating how quickly I could reach him. Tumbleweeds rolled by. I'm pretty sure he cracked his knuckles. I gulped. Saloon doors creaked shut. A cloud passed in front of the sun blazing through stained glass windows. I knew I had to make a move. The second I stood up and made a grab, he was off like a shot, trucking down the aisle and laughing maniacally.

Kid is fast. Kid is especially fast when mama is in heels and v. v. short on sleep. I managed to catch him about three quarters of the way to the front of the church. By the time I got to him and swept him lovingly into my arms he was no longer laughing. His joy had given way to tears of sorrow, which then gave way to high pitched screeches of pure torture: "No!!!! Nooooo!!!!!!! No like!!!!!!!!!!!"

I could have been real mad. I could have probably cried. Instead, I had to try really, really hard not to laugh. I was going to make some sort of profound comment on holiness or life or something in this post but in my weakened, sleep deprived state, I cannot. All I can give you is the vision of Doms sprinting with his crazy mullet-curls bobbing in the early morning sunlight while emitting wild laughter as the church-goers looked on, thanking God that it was me and not them taking a trip down the aisle.

Friday, October 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Actually Random

1. Dominic thinks the word band-aid is pronounced, "Band-aid-too." This is because every time Gianna gets a band-aid, he FREAKS OUT and I ask him, "Oh, did you want a band-aid, too?" The fact that I do nothing to correct him, but blatantly encourage this, makes me amazed that people ever learn to speak English properly.

2. I was listening to all the news coverage about the demise of Moammar (what a bummer for a name) Gaddafi and his quote about how he'd never give up and hunker down in his tent and keep fighting really interested me. Dictators in general interest me. You have to really be in love with yourself and with power to want to still be in charge of a country where more than half the people don't like you. I pray for the guy's soul, because that's what I'm supposed to do, but seriously. He should have gotten a clue a long time ago.

3. The lengths I go to maintain my laid-back parent image are getting ridiculous. This week, at Trader Joe's, I actually remembered my re-usable shopping bags. When I proudly placed them onto the conveyor belt a swath of tampons and pads fell out. Apparently while I was wasting time on the internet encouraging the kids to play imaginatively and creatively, they helped themselves to the tampon stash in the bathroom and shoved them into my eco-grocery bags. They'll be running NASA in no time.

4. I am in search of a white lab coat for Dominic for Halloween....we are going to gel his hair all crazy and friends of ours loaned us a plastic beaker. He will be a Mad Scientist. If anyone has any good ideas on where I could score a toddler-sized lab coat....hit me up.

5. Speaking of Halloween, Brad and I are pretty stoked to eat all of Dominic's candy. He's still young enough to not realize when he's been swindled. G.....not so much. We'll need to produce another baby by next Halloween to keep this thing going.

6. It's been about 3 posts since I talked about showers. So now it's time again. I thought of a really great reason to shower as infrequently as I do: global warming. Environmentalists say we should all take 5 second freezing showers to repent of being affluent Americans who use lots and lots of hot water. I feel that if I take two showers a week of 15 minute duration and feel really sad the whole time...that's the same thing right?

7. My unfortunate brother-in-law has managed to do a few things right....he made a wise choice in marrying my sister, and I have to admit his participation in the production of my v. adorable nephew. Other than that, he's what we might call a misanthrope. As much as it pains me, I have to give credit where credit is due. He introduces Brad to some really awful music, but occasionally I like some of it. And sometimes, I love it. And I am in love with Mumford and Sons. If you've not heard them...well. Here you go. You can thank me later

Have a fab weekend! For more 7 Quick Takes, hit up Conversion Diary

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Portrait of a Non-Helicopter Parent

As I've mentioned, I'm disorganized and late all the time, especially regarding Gianna's schooling. I like to hide my shortcomings by cultivating a reputation as the laid-back parent. The non-helicopter, anti-tiger-mom parent.

I studiously forget to have Gianna complete the optional pre-school homework. And when I do remember to have her do it, I don't check it. I read her the directions and let her rip. The whole enterprise is almost always doomed to fail because the homework often requires certain colors of crayons and I can't ever find more than 2 broken, soggy crayons, inevitably in the wrong colors. I can write off this sort of abandonment as teaching the kids to be resourceful and to take ownership of their school work. Prime example: the share bag incident.

The share bag comes home each week with a theme. The first week it was 'something from your kitchen.' Very nice. The next week, it was 'something from your bathroom.' We were running late that morning and I told Gianna to grab something for her share bag and get thee post haste to the car because we ARE LATE OK? Ok. She did, and as per my role as the free range/lazy/disorganized parent, I didn't pre-check the share bag. Until we got to school. I peeked in as we trucked to the door and almost died. Of laughter.

Nestled in the share bag was her tooth brush, my tooth brush, a calculator (why?), and about 20 sanitary napkins. Brad was assisting with the drop-off that morning and he was understandably horrified. There followed a quick consultation:
"Are we let her go in with those?"
"Uh. Yes. Yes. We do. That is what she picked. We must....go forward. We are laid-back."
"We are nuts is what we are."

Probably. But when you've worked as hard as I have to not work hard and make it look like a conscious, careful statement about philosophical parenting beliefs regarding the cultivation of a child's autonomy, you have to follow through. Pads and all.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

You Wish You Could Weekend Like This

And now, the moment you've dreaded. Lots and lots of self-aggrandizing pictures of me and my family. If you get to the end of these, congrats.
the whole need-one-guy-to-stand-and-watch-other-guys-working thing starts young
 Being a most excellent wife, short on cash and a babysitter, I planned a surprise date night-in.

we dress for dinner around here. this is serious business

i need sleep
mmmmhm. this is how the other half lives. or the 53%. or 99%. or the 1%. or whatever.

Gianna really likes to take pictures, so we thought we'd do a little photo-boothing
no sleeping. ever.


and done
 let's montage


we were instructed to be "surprised."  i feel that brad looks more in the realm of "upset" or "extremely disturbed"

"mad" which according to Brad means "sexy snarl"

"hey Brad, let's take a normal picture!"

ok, this time, a normal one

our photographer. sporting new-to-her $2 pink sweats from Once Upon A Child
 Watching my kids play in the front yard on a crisp, fall day is magical. These are the moments that I stand there and forget the dirty kitchen and the mounds of laundry. Right now, I tell myself, all I need to do is tattoo this into my brain. I just want to fall on my knees thanking God for the ridiculous beauty and goodness in my life that I did nothing to deserve, and soak it in. I pray that when they are teenagers and driving me nuts, I'll think back to this and remember that I love them until I ache.

And if you know me, you know that now I need something to cut the agonizing tension of deep emotions

Lazy Sunday....after-Mass pre-nap coloring session

I promise never to do that again. Mostly because fooling with all these pictures and cropping them and spacing them and coming up with clever captions is far too mentally taxing. Back to the easy stuff, like unwanted parenting advice and lame crafts, tomorrow!

Friday, October 14, 2011

7 Quick Takes: You Win Some, You Lose Some

1. This week I wasted 5 (expensive! free-range!) eggs, a tub of organic yogurt, and a lot of time trying to make 4 loaves of whole wheat sourdough oatmeal bread. It was a major fail. Probably b/c I didn't read the directions allllllll the way through, and plan  accordingly, and when it was time to "let rise one hour and a half, pre-heat oven to 425, then bake 20 mins at 350, then bake 30 minutes at 180" it was midnight. And I wanted to go to bed. So the bread sat out, rising, all.night. Sourdough "twang" is an understatement.

2. Brad needed a hole sewn in a pair of his suit pants. Then he needed them dry-cleaned. So I bought a thread, and a needle, and I sewed. You can't even tell. I'm a domestic genius.

3. However. Still have not dropped said pants off at the big dry cleaner store.

4. They opened a Target five (5!) minutes from my house. Is this good or bad?? Depends. I say good. The family CFO says bad.

5. Dinner plans last night initially consisted of praying no one was hungry. Instead, I discovered some broccoli, a quarter of a box of pasta, a can of diced tomatoes, some Parmesan cheese, already thawed ground beef (truly a dinner miracle) and a random burst of energy. The results were high on veggies and protein, low on grains and maternal guilt. And delicious.

6. Going to bed at a decent time seems to be beyond me. In this regard, I still act like a college student. When will I grow up?

7. My hydrangea bush is in serious need of a good watering, which I have been putting off for the last few days and it looks really, really sad. The existential question is, "Why am I so lazy?"

For more 7 Quick Takes visit Conversion Diary  Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Parent of the Year: Multicultural

It's very important to provide children with diverse, multicultural experiences. Doing so will lead to greater brain development, empathy, wealth, and fame. That's why, when I heard the Madeira Kroger was giving away $10 to the first 300 people at it's grand re-opening, I knew we had to be there.

We don't actually live in Madeira. We're in the next town over-ish, and you had to get there at 7 am, which is a very difficult time to be out and dressed and still sane. But $10 is $10 and the kids need to learn that sacrifice is a part of life, so we went. Plus multiculturalism. Whatever.

We could have made it on time, too, except that when I got out to the car, I realized I needed to put Dominic's car seat back in. Brad says that installing car seats with me is a like having a religious experience, but I have to say I wasn't feeling particularly religious wrestling with an enormous Britax Boulevard and worrying neurotically that Dominic would somehow figure out how to put the car in gear, step on the gas, and drive us into the (closed) garage.

We missed the $10 by about 10 people, but the flagging spirits of my children lifted when they discovered they could have a free cookie for breakfast accompanied by free entertainment in the form of Kroger employees dancing en mass to the Cupid Shuffle in front of the cash registers. Outside, we watched the Madeira High School Marching Band, complete with color guard, play lots of music while a man dressed like a Kroger bag waltzed around the parking lot.

I am so doing this whole parenting thing right.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Post About Nothing

 I've been having some writer's block lately. I probably need some more sleep. I'm just warning you, this post is crazy and not really about anything at all.

I wander around thinking constantly, what should I write? What should I WRITE? I could just gush about my brilliant children, but that would be supremely boring. Scratch that. I could write about some sort of pressing political issue, but then I'd get all irritated and ruin my day, and probably yours, too. Forget that. I could comment on some sort of anthropological/cultural phenomenon but that seems pretentious. I'll leave that to someone who is wearing real clothes and not PJ's.

As I watched Gianna truck back and forth between her chore ribbon and her chores, I thought to myself, "Kids are such suckers." She actually thinks that making her bed is FUN now because she gets to take a little card off of a ribbon and put it in a little box. Hah. My sister, having seen the amazing chore ribbon, said, "Great, make one for my day." Which got me thinking. An adult chore ribbon would be hilarious.I could blog that. When I started making a list of my chores, and then coming up with little rewards (alcohol, ice cream...time to do nothing) it made me look really, really pathetic. Especially since I know myself. I'll skip the chores and head right for the ice cream.

I wouldn't probably bother including 'shower' as a chore, since showers are a miraculous happening around here. I talk about not showering a lot on this blog. In fact, I think I mention my lack of shower in almost every post. Is my sub-conscience trying to reveal something to me? Is my uncleanliness indicative of a deeper, personal problem? Like maybe my unclean soul? Pretty soon I'm going to have to wear a bell and shout "Tamei! Tamei!" If I ever have a dog again, I'm naming it Tamei, because dogs, with their hair and drool and feces all over the yard are kind of gross.

I should probably explain the concept of 'tamei' to you unwashed masses of non-biblical scholars. Back in the day (by which I mean, Jesus and prior) the lepers used to have to yell "tamei, tamei" or, "unclean, unclean." I could just call myself dirty, but tamei speaks to more than just a physical mess, it implies a ritual and spiritual  uncleanliness that really captures the essence of how I feel most days.

Back to showers. This post will really be about showers. I've decided. I might take one today.

I don't know. This post needed some help. It needed some Doms eating a contraband grape in a nice stroller that doesn't belong to him.

Friday, October 7, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Impressive

1. The number of days I can go without showering.

2. Lack of organizational skills.
wish that was alcohol in that glass.
 3. My ability to successfully chase peacocks away from frightened children whilst lunching at the Cinci Zoo.

4. The amount of fortitude required to bare-handedly extract an un-paid-for, ultimately unwanted, glittery, bouncy ball from the public potty at the Gap Distribution Center, and then deposit it in the sink, run it under soap and water, and then inform a Gap employee of the unfortunate incident.

5. The skill required to foot-sweep half a box of toxic Market Pantry Chickadees into a neat pile before informing a Target employee of the box's demise.

6. Home-made pasta.

7. The octave Dominic can hit at the top of a (joyful) scream. It's like Mariah Carey in here.

Hosted by Conversion Diary. Happy Weekend!!