Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"Happy Anniversary Baby, I Got You on My Mind"

Dave & I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary yesterday and, inspired by Rachel, I thought I'd scan in a wacky big-haired freshman year foto, our engagement foto and a wedding pic to amuse you all. But my scanner is on the fritz so here are 3 pix of us over the past 11 years that I already had on file.

First, 1997 when Jonah was born. Look at that cute baby face...on Dave! (And yes, we were married 7 years before we had a kid, veritable freaks in Mormondom.)
The next earliest already scanned foto is of us in January 2000 at Georgia's birth.
Finally, here is one from fall 2005 when I was 9 months preggers w/ Bea. I love how my peroxide dependence waxes and wanes over the years and how Dave NEVER ages. Is there a portrait of Dave in attic somewhere, aging in his place ala Dorian Gray?

When I get my scanner working I'm going to have to post some of those oldies but goodies. We were so young in 1990 (22 & 21). I had a 2 year old sister-in-law for heaven's sake. But we were lucky we found each other. Dave is my favorite person, and even though he's not as funny as he thinks he is, he is smarter and kinder than he knows. And we still love each other which is really, really nice.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Mix Masters

My mom is here visiting and brought cookie dough scoops for the Georgia & Millie. I've been making cookies on my own since I was tiny. My Sunbeam teacher at church thought it would be funny to have a class make a cookbook to give to parents for Christmas. So she asked all the kids to contribute recipes, transcribed what they wrote and let the hilarity ensue. There were lots of "Take 10 gallons of flour..." or "use forty-eleventy bags of rice and..." Mine was an absolutely accurate recipe for peanut butter cookies. The only part that stumped me was cooking temp & time. So I said, quite cleverly, "Put them in the oven until the buzzer rings."

My point is not that I am a virtuoso cook (those who know me are "amening" right now), but that a)my mom gave me free baking reign as a kid and b) as a result my cookies kick butt. So it sort of disturbs me that none of my older 3 have ever made cookies on their own. They help me, but I never let them take over. So armed with my mom as Bea patrol, I gave each girl their own bowl and measuring cups and let them thru the Tollhouse Cookie recipe, letting them do it all. They did a great job.

Things (literally) got sticky when Bea appeared from a nap and demanded to "make cookies!" [Sidebar: Bea is in a playgroup and when it's my turn, the only real activity we do it is I make cookies and let them taste and feel every ingredient (excpet the eggs) so Bea thinks she's Betty Crocker.] I put her in her chair and gave her a bowl and flour and sugar, thinking she'd be happy. Well, when the big girls started cracking the eggs she was outraged and demanded one of her own. My mom looked at me like, "Surely you aren't going to give an egg to a toddler! Think of the Salmonella! Think of the mess!" So of course the rebellious kid in me hands Bea an egg. She was scared to crack it, but once it was open she had so much fun mixing it with the dry ingredients.

So here are my pointers for good chocolate chip cookies:

Butter is yummy, but tricky. A safe bet is butter flavor Crisco. Foodies, as long as they don't know you've used it, oh and aw over Crisco's resulting taste and appearance (no flat melty ones from too soft of butter nor do you have to smash them down when they get too cakey). Do half and half if you can't live without.

Mexican vanilla is bueno bueno bueno.

Hand mix. You heard me. No electric mixers or food processors. Use your hand and a spoon. Overmixing is the biggest problem. It leads to tough cookies.

Ghiradelli extra dark chips are my favorite. The dough is so sweet, it provides a good blend.

Freeze any cookies you don't eat in the first day. Less than fresh cookies are not worth the calories.

Don't overcook. Put them in the oven until the buzzer rings.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Paging Dr. Kovac

Dave is out of town this week on business. He hasn't traveled in a while so I should have known that the Consulting Wives Gods had been saving something special for me. Georgia came home from school white as a sheet and complained that she was too hot. She gets heat exhaustion easily, so I handed her icewater to cool her off and a bucket, just in case. Of course she hurled. Her reaction to too much heat, stress, excitement is to puke. I can count on her barfing the first day of every trip we take. So when she is sick, I have to figure out if it's "RGV" (random Georgia vomit) or if she has some bug. An hour later when she hurled again, I had my answer.

I put her in the bath and set Millie & Bea outside with finger paints to keep them busy while I dealt with Georgie. She tends to be easy going and not a whiner so I sometimes have to make conscious efforts to attend to her lest she be Jan Bradied in our family. Meanwhile Picasso & Van Gogh had decorated themselves from head to toe with paint of questionable washability. After everone was scrubbed, it dawns on Millie that Georgia is sick and won't be going to school. Enter "Me-Too-Millie," who has to have EVERYTHING just like Georgia. She suddenly complains of a head and stomach ache and I'm ready to toss her out the window when she insists I take her temperature. The thermometer reads 102 and Iwonder how she WILLED herself a fever. I can't tell if Georgia is upset that once again Millie is usurping her moment in the spotlight.

It was a long, long night as Bea, who I think is also trying to be sick to regain her foothold as center of the universe, kept getting out of her "big girl bed" and coming into the room and waking us all up. Every hour she did this until 5 when I put her in her crib/jail and she wailed and wailed. I waited til she was good and miserable before moving her back to the bed and informing her that if she cried or came out of the room, she'd be back in the crib for good. I got to sleep at 6, and got up 45 minutes later to get Jonah off to school. I hate nights like that.

During a Bea respite between 11 and midnite, I watched last week's ER on the tivo. I love that show. I remember watching the pilot (along with Friends) when we were in Tempe. I can't explain why, but the show often makes me cry. When I'm dealing with crap in my life and can't emote or I'll fall apart, they'll have some story line about someone losing a baby or a friend with cancer and out it all comes. A few episodes ago Dr. Kovac took a job at a nursing home and out came my daddy grief.

Today when I woke up, bleary and exhausted, I had a huge headache and really really wished I could take a bed at county general and have Abby Lockheart attend to me. She'd summon Chuney to take my kids to the family area and then she'd tell me to just rest. A nurse would give me two magic pills to make my head stop hurting and then I'd just sleep, knowing, for the moment, I had no responsibilities. If someone barfed, it was not my job to clean it. If someone was hungry, others would take care of it. I had to laugh, that the best I could come up with for an escape fantasy was to be in an illfitting nightgown at an overcrowded hospital. Why not dream of the beach? Or Paris? How sad that I know the most likely escape from a my temporary gloom would be if my body failed me in a non-threatening way!

Everyone is on the mend. I got a small nap. No more body fluids. Just fevers which will keep the girls home tomorrow. Dave gets back on Friday, and with any luck, I can sleep thru the night without the aid of an ER.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mothers Who Know Choose Rubies

So today is supposed to be "my special day," but when your two-year old wakes up at 4am hurling in her bed, down the hall, and then on our bed, it kinda takes the shine off Mother's Day. But honestly, I have fairly low expectations: I need to sleep in, get a funny card from Dave, and not have to cook. Gifts shmifts. The kids made me breakfast in bed, pictures and coupon books, and were cooperative during picture taking which for me, is the greatest gift of all. Jonah even made me Jib-Jab tribute: http://www.jibjab.com/sendables/share_view/8SlWGbfbyjgMGwQnKCCVZAfI
Dave stayed home with the puker, rotating laundry and giving her diet caffeine free coke in a bottle (her white trash dream come true) and the big kids and I went to church. While no one quoted the irritating ruby scripture (see below), I did have to hear about Sister Beck and "Mother's Who Know" which made me want to hurl. But all in all, it's been a fine, fine day and I'm happy to be my kids' Hobo Mama.

Here is something I wrote a few years back regarding this special day:

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there and to all of you who "mother" people you may or may not have given birth to.

Mother’s Day is one of those holidays that all moms are supposed to love but some secretly hate. I have friends who stay home from church on this day, fearing they’ll hear another talk about Supermoms who never get mad and bake 50 loaves of bread and go running before waking the family for scriptures and prayer every morning. For me, I dread that scripture about "her price being far above rubies" because I know my price is more in the neighborhood of the semi-precious stones. Take your amethyst, aquamarine, or garnets, for instance. Now those are jewels one can more easily live up to. Other daunting phrases include (but are not limited to): "God gave us mothers because he couldn’t be everywhere," and "Mothers are Angels on earth." Recently a friend said that I was a "really good mother" and I had to stop her. "No," I said. "I’m a really good writing teacher, a fine maker of Tollhouse cookies, but I am just an ‘okay’ mom. Good enough but not ‘good’ in the way that many moms are." I was not being self depreciating, just honestly assessing where I am in this whole parenting ladder. Truth be told, I'm more nurturing and longsuffering and "maternal" with my friends than I am with my kids. If one of my friends came over and carelessly spilled juice on the carpet I would never say, "Now look what you've done, you naughty girl!" Of course, unlike with my kids, I’ve never had a friend come over and get so engrossed with an activity that she forgets to relieve herself in the proper receptacle, but I'd like to think that if she did, I would be kind and utter non-shaming phrases like, "That's okay, I'm sure you'll make it to the potty next time" or "Don't worry, a few wipes and some baking soda will make that wet spot good as new!" But as a mother, I lack many of the skills I have in spades where my friends are concerned.

This is not to say I am a Bad Mom ala Brothers Grimm or Joan Crawford. I just have a tendency to use phrases like, "Don’t come crying to me if you break your neck trying to slide down the hall on a dish towel." And when Jonah does end up in a heap of tears and dish towels he replies, "I’m not crying to you, I’m crying to myself." When I hear this I console myself that I am getting through to him.

So whether you’re a ruby or Cubic Zirconia, a long sufferer or a screamer, a maker of fine baked goods or a purchaser of Hostess products, happy Mother’s Day, and let someone else do the dishes.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"Vacation All I Ever Wanted..."

So we got back from Sanibel a week ago and my duffel is still partially full. I think it gives me the illusion that at any moment we will all high tail it back to that magical island off Florida's Gulf Coast. This year, in addition to the Marshalls & Dava & Russ, two more families joined us. I was a little nervous, wondering if they'd be as enthralled with the trip as we are. Blessedly, everyone there loved the simplicity of the vacation. Really there are only 3 things we do: swim at the pool, go to the beach, and ride bikes. Of course there is a bit more to it than that as there is wildlife to be stalked. So while swimming you may spy a giant 4' green iguana that your husband then tries to catch using only a beach towel and his wit... Or you are in the ocean and something catches your eye...and it's a school of dolphins. Or you ride your bike thru the nature preserve and lose count of all the different birds. Here are some pictoral highlights:

Dave and Georgia hunting for shells
Camille takes a break from sandcastle building to grab goggles for a swim.

Mama CoCo shows off one of the many sea stars we find while snorkelling.

Jonah with the little snake found in the sea grass.

Bea-Zilla systematically smashing sand castles built by her sisters.

6 Happy Hobos jump for joy!