Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm Back!

Oh, my - sorry for the break in the action, but we spent a nice long week in sunny San Diego for Thanksgiving, visiting family and having the time of our lives with a three-hour time difference and two children under 4. HA! It actually wasn't as bad as I'm making it out to be. More details on that later. But for now, we're still in recovery mode. I got sick in San Diego, then had to fly home - let me tell you my ears are still clogged and ringing and I got off that plane 4 days ago. And now? Jonathan has the sniffles, sure to turn into something full-blown by morning, and Mark informed me, oh, about an hour ago that he thinks he's coming down with a cold, too. Great. There goes the weekend. Matthew, wanna join the crowd? You're getting a tooth, why not catch a cold on top of it? Pics, stories and general musings later - but for now, I'm trying to get all the sleep I can. Boys are asleep, so here's my chance!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Shoes on Wires?

Okay, out and about today, we're driving around, and I noticed something I notice all over the place and just don't hanging off of power lines or telephone wires. Can someone PLEASE tell me the meaning of this? I literally have seen this all over the country - mostly in small towns, but everywhere I go, it seems! Do people go out in the middle of the night and toss shoes up there for fun? Is it a statement? A secret code? And do they stand in the middle of the road to do it? Who owns the shoes? I really, really hope someone can explain this to me someday.....I've seen if for years, now!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Late Night Snack-Attack!

There they are - my boys, all ready for bed, but not willing to give in just least not until that bowl of popcorn is consumed. And I don't think Matthew's going to get any of it!
Mark and I love popcorn. We used to make it in the microwave, but then started reading about whatever leachates were in those packages, etc..., so we decided to buy an air popper. Then I remembered that mom and dad had one that they rarely (if ever) used, so we asked if we could "borrow" it for say....the next 20 years, and they were only too happy to get it out of their cabinets - more space for other stuff! The air popper is GREAT! Nice, low-cal treats at night - and Jonathan has fallen in love with it. He eats popcorn almost every night - and he likes us to pop him up a big bowl while he watches movies after his bath.
I highly recommend an air popper - they actually still sell these things - couldn't readily find one at Walmart last time I looked, but you can get them online at like Amazon or somewhere. What I like most is there's little or no mess to make it and it's so fast!
Beware of one hazard, the picture, the kids are in our bed. No matter how much I pick up, somehow, there are always corn kernals (popped AND unpopped) in our bed. Now where is that silly dog when you really need her?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Attack of the Killer....VACUUM?

You know, I thought I had this vacuum problem licked. Matthew had been terrified of it for so long, about a month or two ago I thought I had a breakthrough when he actually just ran away from it one day rather than turning himself inside-out with hysterics like he usually did. Since that supposed "break-through", things have been fair, at best. He still runs - either to me, or away from me, usually crying as I try to vacuum. And mostly, I just try to avoid vacuuming altogether unless Mark is home and can take the kids downstairs to play. Maybe that's the wrong approach - maybe I should just get the thing out everyday and then he'll just get used to it that way. Hmmmm, might have to think that one over. But who wants to vacuum everyday? (Not that my house couldn't use a good vacuuming most days, but I digress.)

So why the blog about the vacuum today? Well, today I decided to get some serious cleaning done and am tackling Jonathan's room. I have two "helpers" of course, who are probably spreading around more dust than I care to think about. But anyhow, I pulled out the vacuum, and went ahead and turned it on....bad move. Matthew comes streaking over to me from wherever he was, trips, falls over the cylinder, lands with a splat and bit his tongue - blood everywhere, screaming, crying. Can you say SETBACK? At this rate, I think he'll be 18 before I get this house clean.

But not all is lost. Jonathan felt so sorry for Matthew, he ran to the toys, picked out one of his OWN favorites - his Thomas Train Whistle - gave it to me and said "Give this to Matthew, it'll make him feel better". Wow. This is the kid who ranks "sharing" right up there with "root canal" or eating cold brussels sprouts. Way to go, Jonathan - I think you made my day! And BTW, it DID make Matthew feel better. Back to the trenches....AFTER Matthew goes down for his nap!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Poppy's Little "Helper"

Grandma and Poppy came up for part of the weekend - they stayed with us overnight on Friday night. And when Poppy comes, things get done around here! Starting with my sink, which one side had been leaking for a few weeks. I was kinda hoping that the whole thing would need to be replaced, but alas, Poppy said he could fix it by installing a new drain and stopper (darn - I was really hoping to get a new 60/40 split sink!). So I consoled myself with a brand new faucet, instead. So there he is - there's my dad, doing what he does best. And Jonathan, doing what HE does best, getting in the way, OOPS, I mean, "helping". At any given time, he was either snatching tools, banging his own head, or standing on Poppy's stomach....
But anyway, the sink got fixed, and so did a broken outdoor water pipe out by our pool - yes, we are STILL dealing with plumbing issues out in the pool, even though it's November in the mountains. Does it ever end? So, a huge, THANK YOU DAD! You're welcome to come back ANYTIME! And thanks to you, too, Mom, for watching the kids while we got all this work done!
In other news, we've had some bouts with illness around here - colds for me, Mark and Jonathan, and Matthew had a lovely 10 day run of diarrhea. Everyone's better now - or just about better - explains my lack of blog entries for the last week or so!
Today's Veteran's Day, so Mark is home for the day - so I should be off getting some stuff done! It's that time of year - LOTS to do. Happy Monday!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Chili Weekend

Hmmmm, now does that mean chili, like I meant it, or chilly, as in we froze this weekend? Well, both, actually. It got cold this weekend. Heavy frost. Furnace coming on first thing in the morning (is there anything more comforting on a cold morning than hearing the furnace kick on?). After one of the warmest Octobers on record, November has come in with a blast - we could even get some snow tomorrow night!
But that's not what I wanted to blog about. I wanted to blog about chili. Now, growing up, I was never a huge fan of chili. I didn't do well with spicy food, and for some reason, I usually avoided foods with cumin or chili powder....I know, I'm nuts -- but I grew up in an Italian household, and cumin and chili powder couldn't be farther from the usual household herbs and spices!
However, a bunch of years ago, when Mark and I were still only dating, we went to a work Christmas party where one of our friends had made and brought the most awesome pot of chili. Wow - either I was really missing out, or this guy could cook - I mean, not having a chili history to compare it to, I wasn't sure if all chili was that good or what! But everyone really liked it, and our friend was kind enough to supply me with his version of "how to make chili" and the rest is history.
This weekend's batch turned out well - and since the kids don't really eat it (probably too spicy anyway), I usually have enough for about 4 nights unless I freeze some. I'm still having some trouble finding good hot peppers - last month I used Anaheim's and they weren't spicy at all. This time I used Poblano's and they were even milder. Both times I've had to resort to the powdered cayenne to get a little kick. But despite my pepper issues, it's easy to make, turns out well, and is pure comfort food on chilly...well....chili weekends.
File this one under kitchen sucesses....and if you want to try it yourself, here's a guide.....not a "recipe" exactly, but if you spend any time in the kitchen, you'll know what to do:

bell peppers (red and/or green)
ground meat (beef or turkey - I use 1 1/4 pounds 93% lean turkey)
large can petite diced tomatoes
dark red kidney beans and
light red kidney beans (1 can of each and I usually drain and rinse both)
1 or 2 beers (lately I've been using a deep porter)
cumin and
chili powder (start with tablespoon of each, increase as needed to taste)
hot peppers (again, go with what you can find, but so far, I haven't found many that impart much heat into the chili)

You can saute the carrot and onion until tender, then brown the meat, then add everything else and reduce for an hour or two or until a desired consistency is reached. Make a day ahead for better overall flavor.
Have fun! This recipe makes 8 solid portions - or 6 if you're feeding hungry lumberjacks. And I usually pair it with some homemade cornbread!

Friday, November 2, 2007


So here they are! If it's not that obvious, Jonathan is (was) a pumpkin and Matthew was a lion. Jonathan had been talking about little else than dressing up in his "pumpkin suit" for days, so when Halloween finally rolled around and he woke up with the sniffles, I was so disappointed in thinking that HE would be disappointed. Mommies. Just the way we are, I guess. But it turned out okay - it was over 70 degrees that day, and we only took them to half a dozen houses or so around my mom and dad's neighborhood. Matthew was delighted to be out and running around outside, even though he was dressed in a costume that, had he seen himself in a mirror, probably would've scared him like crazy. But he was clueless and looked really cute, and had a blast following around his big brother. He doesn't quite "get it" yet, and didn't mind when his entire bucket of candy got emptied into Jonathan's bucket of candy (now, gee, wonder how THAT happened!), but I'll bet he won't be so reasonable next Halloween!
Lastly, a family picture...taken at my mom's just after we got back from trick-or-treating. Me and Mark dressed in our standard costumes, Mommy and Daddy. Or, more appropriately, SAHM and computer geek.
Which brings me to a few thoughts on Halloween. There's a little kid in my mom's neighborhood who's got a peanut allergy. The severe kind - can't even be around peanuts. So the little guy goes around with his mom and dad, and if a Snicker's bar hovers anywhere near his little pumpkin bucket, mom and dad intervene, explain why he can't have it and generally leave empty-handed. They also have a little girl - one year old. They aren't sure whether or not she'll have the peanut allergy, too, so for now, they're playing it safe and not letting her have any of it either. Most of the folks have adjusted to this, and have something special for him of the non-peanut variety. My mom and dad made them up little bags of homemade cookies. Girl down the street had a non-peanut basket of candy, and also a basket full of little bags of goldfish for the tiny little guys. Whew - is Halloween getting hard or what? Maybe we should all start passing out pencils? Just thinking this makes me sound intolerant --- I'm not. I know how severe allergies can be and how serious this situation is. But are we to accomodate every allergy and ailment there is? What about the diabetic kids? Should we have a basket for them, too? It just feels like Halloween has just gotten too serious. When I was kid, we threw on a mask or maybe had a good idea and made a costume. We went out after dinner, rang a few doorbells of our beloved neighbors who always let us run through their yards, play with their dogs and occasionally knock their mailboxes down with our bicycles (true story!). Nowadays, it is so scheduled, so important. "Trick-or-treaters will be accomodated between 6-8 pm ONLY" reads our neighborhood association's announcement.
I'm not saying any of this is wrong. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if I had a kid who was allergic to peanuts, or couldn't eat candy, I think I would just maybe handle it a bit differently. Rather than going around, ringing doorbells, shouting "trick-or-treat!" and then announcing "OOPS! You bought something with nuts, sorry, we can't eat that!", along with a very expectant look, waiting for you to produce something else. I'm serious. This actually happened. Last year. That's how everyone knew to have something non-peanut THIS year. I just can't get my head around this. I'm thinking that somehow, these parents are teaching the wrong lesson, but I'm not sure who they're teaching it to. Can anyone shed a little light?
And finally I got to thinking that maybe Halloween is sometimes more for the adults than the kids. I know I was more excited about seeing my little guys in their little costumes than they probably were, and heck, they can do that any day of the year. So now we have a huge bucket of candy, of which, Mark and I will eat the most, I'm sure. And one kid who luckily, still has no idea what went on, and another kid who has asked me every day since Wednesday "Mommy, can I wear my pumpkin suit again?" Yeah, they get it. Funny thing, by the time they REALLY get it, they probably shouldn't be allowed to do it anymore!!

It's November....

...and all I can say is DOH! Man, where is time going? Sorry I haven't touched this blog in about a week - thanks for sticking around, PATIENTLY sticking around, that is! I've got pictures to post of Halloween, but have to download them first - just give me a few hours, okay?
We spent most of the week at Grandma and Poppy's house. Mark had a meeting or two in Annapolis and then had some work in the area, so we packed up and went down on Monday, just got home this afternoon. Jonathan came home with a cold...well, the sniffles anyway. Hoping that it doesn't go into a full-blown infection or ear infection --- he's not leaving the house this weekend, so we HOPE that will give him a chance to recover. Matthew came home with a lovely diaper rash. And all this is sounding like we had a miserable time at the grandparents' --- really not true at all! Just that Mommy forgot the diaper cream and Matthew had a little too much apple cider. And Jonathan, well, he hasn't been sick for ages, so I guess he was due. Just hoping now that he keeps it to himself.
So here it is, November. We're busy. Many things to do. Weather getting colder, although I can't complain about October's weather! More later, with pictures. Promise.