Thursday, October 30, 2008

14 months and 30 days later

HE IS HOME!!! Let's all do a collective happy dance. This Deployment is O.V.E.R. We made it through! Maybe not as gracefully as we could have, but we made it. 14 months and 30 days is a long time. A very very long time. Almost 65 weeks. 457 days. 10,968 hours. 658,080 (give or take a few) minutes. Around 39,484,800 seconds. That is a LONG time.

14 months and 30 days of mass cooked meals for M, sleeping on cots and bad mattresses, living in extreme heat and nasty cold, dust and rain, sand and mud, seemingly endless missions, successes, losses, learning, meeting amazingly generous and grateful people and partaking of some really awesome Iraqi food.

2 of W's birthdays, 2 of my birthdays, CB's first Christmas and birthday, our 4th anniversary, the first time CB rolled over, crawled and walked all happened while he was away. 2 hospital stays for CB and 1 for W, countless sleepless nights and frustrated tears, dirty diapers, doctor's appointments and timeouts were all missed, some of which I think he is a tiny bit thankful for.

14 months and 30 days of being an incomplete family. 14 months and 30 days that we could have been making memories together. 14 months and 30 days that I had to tell my kids that their daddy was gone so he could help other people. 14 months and 30 days that we did the best we possibly could for our family with what we had, which wasn't much. We did it. He did it. And we will do it again when the time comes. Hopefully not for 14 months and 30 days, but enough time for him to go and do the job that he needs to do to ensure the safety and freedoms that you have.

When you go and vote next week, don't you dare go in there thinking "I know this dude who was over there for 15 months..." We are not a cause and refuse to be one. Yes, it suuuuuuuuuuuuucks and it is far from ideal for a family to go through the stress and danger of a deployment but there is still so much work to be done and pulling them out would make everything they have done pointless. It would be like you working your butt off building a house, only to stop working and move into it before you put a roof and walls up. The foundation is laid, the studs are in, the plumbing is done and the electrical is installed, it just needs the final touches. Let them finish doing their job and then bring them home. As much as you may disagree, we believe that he, and everyone else, were and are there for a reason, which is why we don't want to be a cause. It may not be a reason you agree with but please do not disgrace their job and the work they have done and are doing by voting for someone just so the troops come home ASAP. Vote for someone who has a plan for seeing this through by making responsible and effective choices. Ok, end of the seriousness. Onto the pictures!

Where is he??

There he is!
Picture taken by W

Monday, October 27, 2008

ah man

I've been tagged, twice. So I guess I should stop stalling and do this already. But you two taggers should know that I don't do this for just anyone... or anyone at all really. You two are special! And being as narcissistic as I am, I am not going to tag anyone else. Ok, the reason I'm not tagging anyone else is because 98% of the blogs I read have already been tagged and the other 2% won't want in on this kind of action. I know, I know, I'm breaking the rules and now I'll probably have 7 years of bad luck and die a slow horrible death from bird flu induced intestinal and rectal bleeding, or whatever happens to you when you break a chain letter or email forward, but I'm willing to take the risk for your reading pleasure.

So here goes.
1. I have only successfully parallel parked a car 1 time, and that was by pure dumb luck. Unless I buy one of those cars that parks itself, I don't think I'll ever be able to do it again. And don't try telling me how to do it. It won't help, believe me.

2. I didn't read 85% of the assigned books I was supposed to read during college and I still got "A"s. There are about $3200 worth of unbroken bindings sitting in boxes in my attic... because everyone needs to save college text books about advances in computer technology from 8 years ago. Oh yeah, that book is totally relevant and useful in today's technology and is not a waste of space at all.

3. Today was trash day and I am very proud to say that for the past 2 weeks, we only had 4 total bags of trash. 2 bags were diapers, 1 bag was from the big party and the other was just general trash and food scraps. Everything else was recycled and I am willing to bet that if I had a compost pile (which is totally pointless for me to have considering I don't have any kind of garden) I would have had less than half a bag of actual, non diaper/ non party, garbage for the 2 weeks. And yes, I realize that throwing out diapers does nothing to reduce the carbon footprint, but at this point, there is no reason for me to invest in cloth diapers because the kids are so close to being out of diapers now. At least I flush the flushable stuff before I trash the diapers so that toxic waste isn't going into the landfills.

4. Speaking of poop, I think bloggers have ruined this election for everyone and I hate them for all of the drama and misinformation they have put out there. What a bunch of idiots, all hoping for their 15 seconds. Go back to what you do best (not much) and leave the politics for those who actually research, think things through, and know what they are talking about. Thanks.

5. I've never seen any of the Back to the Future movies, Harry Potter movies, Lord of the Rings movies, Narnia movies, Star Trek movies (or shows), Indiana Jones movies, Matrix movies, Jurassic Park movies or Pirates of the Caribbean movies, nor do I have any inclining of a bit of desire to see them. My friend J might disassociate herself from me for that, but it is true.

6. I won't eat any fruit that has brown or soft spots on it, especially bananas. I prefer them to be slightly green.

7. My kids are exactly 17 months apart, to the day of the month (10) and hour (6:55 and 7:55 pm) and both were born on the same day of the week (Saturday). We are extremely predictable people and, go figure, both of my kids crave routine.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Today I picked W and CB up from school and gave them their healthy, homemade, high fructose corn syrup and preservative free lunches to eat in the car on the way home. (Speaking of HFCS, have you seen this crap?! Puh lease. I'm all for the farmers, everyone knows that, but these people are no different than the tobacco execs who claimed tobacco wasn't addictive...) Anyway, W immediately told me that he didn't want what I had so lovingly made for him and instead he wanted "nuggets and fries, and a toy, and fries and a toy and nuggets and apple juice". Since he really hasn't been eating and has been, well, almost depressed the past few days, I gave in, tossed the health food and headed to the drive through. Of course, the line was 18 cars long and I didn't want to drag the kids into the "food house", as W calls it, so we waited.

While we were waiting he started fussing and threw everything back at me that I had handed to him. Out of desperation I handed him a piece of paper and a pen and he got quiet and a few minutes later he said, "Here mommy, here is your hat". And then I got pegged in the head by something hard and pointy. What he had thrown at me was a pretty darn good attempt at a folded paper hat. Like, origami style. If he had made 2 more folds, it would have been perfect. He even folded the sides down to make a triangle and folded the edge up to make the brim.

What the heck?! Where did he learn this crap? I kept asking him who taught him how to do it and he wouldn't tell me. But he did insist on having the hat back, so he could make it into a ball... to throw at his sister. Sigh. We need a mini van, STAT. But seriously, if you have taught my son how to make a paper hat, please let me know. I don't know if he learned it at school or not but I don't think he did. They aren't exactly the paper hat type of people. They are much more into glue and glitter and pom poms. So I don't know. I'm at a loss, but I'm really interested to see what hits me in the head next. Let's just hope it too is made out of paper and isn't a pet rock or something.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

california knows how to party?

Screw that! Germany knows how to party! Or at least this California girl knows how to party in Germany.

The Event:

The Guests: All of my neighbors and friends who I hadn't seen in 11 months, and some I had never met before.

The Menu:
The Devilish stuff:
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups flour
1 cup oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup solid pack pumpkin (canned pumpkin)
1 cup (or an entire bag) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. combine flour, oats, soda, cinnamon, and salt. Cream butter, gradually add sugars. Beat until likght and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well. Mix in flour, alternating with pumpkin. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake about 17 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes (square bars)
**my notes: These were GOOD. Like, almost too good and they better be good for the amount of cottage cheese they will put on your butt. I can certainly see why these got such awesome reviews. But, I could have done with about half the powdered sugar and a little more spice flavor. Next time I think I'll try that.**

Apple- Toffee Tartlets (round things on the green plate)
**my notes: I didn't use toffee. I could only find Heath bars and I didn't want to spend 20 minutes scrapping the chocolate off the bars, so I ditched the toffee and added a little more brown sugar. I made a double batch and used 2 Granny Smith apples and 2 Honey Crisp apples for a little variety. I made these the night before and refrigerated them. Before the party began my friend K pour caramel sauce over the apples and they were scrumptious! These will be made again for sure. **

Cheese Plate
- cheddar cubes
- pepper jack cubes
- fresh mozarella
- Babybel assortment
- Table Water crackers
- 7 Grain Kashi crackers

Apple Zucchini Crostini (the pieces of bread w/ the green and white stuff ontop-- on the green and white plate)
**my notes: These were good and I've never been big on goat cheese. I should have baked the bread a little longer so it wasn't as chewy, but overall I really liked these and the apple zucchini mixture tasted really good the next day.**

The lowfat stuff:

No Bake Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
**my notes: This was just... meh. It would have tasted a lot better had I remembered to add the pumpkin pie spice. Sorry people who tried it. For me, it had too much orange flavor and not enough pumpkin flavor... but that could have something to do with the fact that I accidentially forgot about the orange juice/ gelitan for about 15 minutes...**

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
**my notes: At first glance at the recipe, you are going to say, "Why on earth is this in the 'lowfat' section??" Um, because I could only make one full fledged Paula Deen recipe in good conscious. I don't want to be responsible for my guests corinaries. So I modified this one. Instead of using the oil, I used applesauce and I replaced half the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey. I also used probably a cup more zucchini than it called for but I'm not sure because I didn't measure it all. I just used 2 medium sized zucchinis. This came out good, but was a bit too orangy for me.**

Hot Chocolate Bar
(Hot Chocolate recipe modified from a few different sites)
- 1 gallon of milk
- 1 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- a little vanilla
- 3/4 cup hot water

Combine cocoa, sugar, salt, vanilla and water in a sauce pan and heat on the stove, stirring constantly, until the stuff looks like chocolate syrup. Then cook it a little longer, maybe a minute or 2 until it bubbles, but don't boil it. Turn your crock pot on high and pour the syrup into your crock pot and then pour the milk in. Stir to combine the milk with the syrup and let it sit until it gets hot (about 90 minutes in my crock pot).

Cut up Heath bars and Milky Way bars, crush peppermints or candy canes and place in bowls. Put out some mini marshmallows and whipped cream and let your guests go wild.
**my notes: I didn't want the chocolate to be too strong or sweet so it wouldn't be too overpowering once people added the fixings to it**

Hot Apple Cider
-2 gallons of good apple juice or apple cider
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- the zest of 1 orange
- 6 whole cloves

Pour apple juice/ cider into a stock pot. Add cinnamon sticks, orange zest and cloves. If you are lazy like me, you should put the orange zest and cloves into some cheese cloth or put it into a tea ball and tie it to the handle so you don't have to strain the cider once it is hot. Let the cider simmer until hot then remove the cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange zest. Serve with caramel sauce and whipped cream, if you want.
**my notes: I think it would have been a little better if I had added some brown sugar to it, maybe 4 or 5 tbsp. Also, be sure to remove the cinnamon sticks! OOPS! Forgot to do that and it was way too strong by the end of the night.**

Ghoul's Punch
**my notes: the frozen hands were a little too much for me, so I went just froze cranberry juice in icecube trays instead. When the juice cubes melt, it makes a really pretty autumn inspired colored drink. This was a favorite for sure and would work well for any time of year**

Food that didn't make it to the table:

Garlic Salami and Pepper Salami for the cheese plate -- Totally forgot to put it out!

Pumpkin Spiced Ginger Snap Truffles
-- I found these in Better Homes and Gardens October issue and thought they sounded good and they were easy enough to make. However, I decided to taste the chocolate to make sure it was ok. I'm not really a chocolate person in the first place... I tasted a little of the chocolate, like 1/4 teaspoon, and it triggered the worst migraine I have ever had. But I had to get them rolled before the chocolate set and was useless so I powered through until I had to stop because I was almost doubled over. Most people would love to have a gooey chocolate mess in their hands but honestly, I would rather mix meatloaf with my hands than deal with chocolate. I'm weird that way. To me, this stuff was so strong that even the smell of the leftover chocolate in the bowl was enough to make me sick all over and I had to tie a cloth over face when I did the dishes. So the truffles went in the fridge and stayed there until last night, when I finally worked up the courage to throw them out. And I'm not going to lie when I say I just tossed them, container and all, into the outside trash. I didn't want to risk the smell triggering another headache. I'm getting a headache just reliving it!

If anyone wants the recipe, even after my glowing review, let me know and I will post it. I'm sure they are great, if you like chocolate and strong chocolate at that.

The sign of a good party:The food was pretty much gone. Despite the farmers deciding to fertilize the acreage behind our house no less than 2 hours before the party started, the house spelled darn good, but was a huge mess. Crumbs and toys were everywhere; I was finding extra socks and sippy cups for the next 3 days. It was perfect and could not have been better. A clean house at the end of a party would be a bad sign! Messy means people had fun and that is exactly what I want.

I am so glad that everyone was able to come and those who couldn't make it were missed. We had a good time and I hope that we are all able to get together again soon.

PS. If your kid is missing a pair of socks, a sippy cup, a burp cloth or a book, they are here. And if you are missing a black scarf, it's on my coat rack!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

welcome to reality

W has decided he hates shopping. Flat out will not go, not even if he is bribed. It doesn't matter if I feed him 14 seconds before we walk in the door, the kid will NOT be happy. I could throw him food and toys the entire time we are in there, let him walk instead of being in the cart or stroller and pick the food out with me or tell him I'll let him push the buttons when we pay, which he looooves to do and sadly does so much that he has my pin number memorized, but nothing works. I don't have a choice, I have to take him so I end up with a screaming monster as I tear through the aisles, trying to get everything as fast as I possibly can to minimize the time he has to spend in the torture chamber.

Typically I go early, when there aren't many people around. When there are people around I normally get the sympathetic looks from moms who are dealing with fits like I am or older people who have been there before and remember what it's like. But then there are always the people who look at me like I have just brought a rabid monkey in the store. Which, honestly, he can come close to being but whatever.

Then there are the moms who as soon as they see you struggling with your child who hates every thing, decide that they are the best mother ever and are going to prove it to you and everyone around them while totally judging you and praying that their kid doesn't turn out like your brat. So they put on this super sappy voice and talk to their kids in calm, even tones, telling them "no" so sweetly you want to go hurl in the banana display. Even though 5 minutes earlier you saw this mom yelling at her kid because he wouldn't do something she wanted him to do. Bite me, biotch. For real. Bite me.

You aren't perfect. Don't act like it. Even if your kid were perfect (now), there are probably a thousand things that you do that you could, and should, be judged for. But do I judge you? No. Why? Because A) I don't have the kind of energy to care that much about you to judge you B) We are all in the same boat right now and really, unless you are beating your kids or putting them directly in harm's way I have no reason to judge because I am not above you in any way and C) I know that when your child turns 3 and subsequently loses the ability to express any emotion besides "kinda happy" and "completely out of his freaking mind", you will be in my shoes and you will be kicking yourself for thinking you were better than me.

Sometimes karma doesn't take so long to come around though. Last time this happened to me, the woman was behind me for most of our shopping trip, telling her son he was being such a good boy, unlike that boy in front of them (my W). Over and over I heard this and kept biting my tongue. Then we got to the check out line and had to wait awhile. The other mom came and waited to check out behind us and the revolt began. Her kid wanted something on the shelf and the mom said no, which triggered a fit so much worse than W's that I had to laugh. Even W stopped and was like, DANG! That kid is nuts! This kid would not stop and the mom was trying everything and suddenly that cocky, super sappy, calm tone she had 3 minutes earlier was long gone. Then the bomb dropped, literally. The kid launched his sippy cup of milk and it exploded on impact, showering milk all over her $300 boots and the person next to her. That is what you get for thinking you are so awesome and above everything. Ha! It sucks when reality slaps you in the face, doesn't it?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

holy domestication!

I have never been a good housewife. In fact, I despise the term/label with everything in me. I despise any other synonym for the term. I've always tried to avoid being labeled as anything, but I can't avoid it anymore. I am, at least for the next 6 months, a housewife. Ugh, gag me with a spoon. Instead of loathing it, I'm trying to embrace it and man, am I jumping into the deep end. Since I don't have anything else to do, I figure 0I will focus all of my attention into being a good housewife; a cleaning, cooking, baking, craft making fiend. And dang it, I am going to be good at this (until I get bored of it in a month and move onto something else, right?)

Not one to do anything half@$$ed, I decided that I needed an apron, so I was going to make one. And make one I did. It was the first thing I had sewn in years, besides things that only have 4 corners like cherry pit hot packs and blankets. I was just going to make a simple one that only needed to be cut and hemmed, but then I found this tutorial and decided that was the one to make. Of course I had to modify it a little bit because I can't do anything by the book. So I took off the top ruffle, made it a bit narrower and shorter and then figured what the heck, why not make it reversible too? And here's what the end result was:

(thank you to W for his fantastic photography skills in the picture above.)

Not bad, if I do say so myself.

After that I was on a high, so the next night I decided to make cookies. But why make one batch when you can make two, right? Things were going great, until I realized I was tired and wanted to be done. I should have frozen the dough but instead had a debate about whether I should make one large cookie or several small cookies to be done faster, or if it even made a difference what size cookies I made because it all was the same amount of dough in the end anyway.

The little cookie idea won and I managed to fit 20 cookies on the sheet, threw them in the oven and when I checked on them 17 minutes later, they had mutated into one large cookie. Dang. Should have saved all that time and made one big one in the first place! So I went back to making the normal size cookies and finally got to the end of the dough, only to find that there was enough dough left for 4 more cookies. Why does that always happen? Doesn't matter if I use a cookie scoop or a tablespoon or a regular spoon, there is always just a little too much dough. You can't waste the dough so I had to cook it and I didn't want to end up with another super size cookie so I had to stay up longer so I could bake the stupid things. I've made a bajillion cookies in my time and every time I forget how much I don't like making cookies. It is just too stressful.

But I'm going to move past it and learn from my mistakes. I will make the perfect batch of cookies one day and I will do it with a smile on my face. Head first people. I'm diving into this domestication thing head first. I will conquer this. Cookies and dishes aint got nothin on me. Good Lord, I need a hobby.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

wanna know...

what 45 sets of sheets look like, washed and folded? No? Too bad. Here you go:

It only took 11 loads in my crappy washer but it was totally worth it. I even used extra fabric softener. I think they deserve nice smelling sheets, don't you? And PS. I can fold a fitted sheet like it is nobody's business.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

blah blah blah

I'm being harassed by my sister to post something, anything, so here goes. I know I haven't logged into my Myspace or Facebook for like a month or set up the iChat or even called anyone and that my turn around time for emails is averaging about 4 days right now and I'm sorry! I really, really am! I'm trying to be a better person but it is just not working!

I have good intentions though. Doesn't that count for something? There are a bunch of projects that I really want to do and finish, but it's not happening right now.I really have been working on a blog post and even a total overhaul of the look of the thing (about time, right?) for the past week but every time I get a chance to sit down, I realize that I don't have any kind of creative energy left in me and I shut the computer down and go to bed. Same thing goes for emails and phone calls. I just don't have it in me right now. Blah blah blah, excuses excuses, I know.

For what it is worth, I have been doing really good at keeping on top of the chores and I even got all of our new pictures hung. That is no small task considering the fact that the walls practically crumble the second a hammer gets near them. The kids are happy, for the most part, and well fed. The laundry is completely done, except for the 42 sets of sheets I volunteered to wash for all of the single soldiers in M's battery but that doesn't count as MY laundry, so it doesn't count against me. The floor has been vacuumed and swept 4 times in the past 6 days and the toys are totally organized. On that front, we are rockin. It's just all of the fun stuff that is falling behind. Stupid responsibility!

I'll be honest, we are in a huge time of transition but when are we not, right? I had forgotten just how hard it was to switch from Civilian life back to Military life and how hard it was to move from one country to another. Give me another month. Don't give up on us yet. One more month, maybe 6 weeks, and I will be a much better friend and sister and daughter and granddaughter and wife and mother and doula and hostess, etc... I promise.