My 3 Monsters: June 2009

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A Little Experiment

Home-made laundry detergent.
Mommy's been bored this summer and, let's face it, I'm just that cheap. I'll let you know how well it works.


Never Finished . . .

You may recall a while back (think waaaaay back) when I gushed on and on about the beautiful pink and brown room we were doing for Sis. At the time I promised photos. Didn't, however, promise how soon . . . See, I'm tricky like that. Because I knew after the pains those crisp brown stripes gave me it would be at least a little while before I was ready to tackle the brown ribbon stripes on the curtains. Well, consider 'em tackled. And in the mean time I was inspired to add this divine princess cameo on the wall above the bed. It turned out really cute, but I am still tweaking edges to get that border crisp and beautiful. (Why? Why did we do an oval frame instead of a rectangle?) Maybe a run to Aaron Brother's for a real frame is in order. Anyway. . . don't say I don't keep my promises. Eventually.


Every night this week. Me. Alone. With two kids. At home. While Brent and one of the kids, chosen at random, enjoy this. And I sit home. Alone. With the other two kids. Next time our friend Jeff goes out of town and "needs a favor from his home teacher" (using his season tickets) I'm going to have to put my foot down.

You didn't hear this from me, but it really wasn't soooo bad. They had fantastic seats and I'm glad they had good times. And heck, he could have made ME go with him. The HORROR! I just like to moan a little bit for sympathy.



I grew up reading Little House on the Prairie. And watching Little House on the Prairie. And playing Little House on the Prairie. I always wanted to be able to shop in Olsen's Mercantile. Hated Nellie, loved that store with all the open shelving and glass jars. The purchases wrapped up in brown paper and tied with string. *sigh* I still have an odd fondness for big glass jars. I have them in my home filled with ribbon and painting supplies and Gregson-bucks (our kids' pseudo-allowance) and cereal. I tie ribbon around them. I have plans to etch a monogram on the front of one of them. I just can't get enough. Funny, the things that stick with you from childhood.


Why Do I Care?!

Will someone please tell me? Please help me to understand why I care whether Jon and Kate Gosselin stay married or don't. Please tell me why I was getting choked up last night as I watched them in seperate interviews talking about the breakdown of their marriage. Is it because I'm part of everything that is wrong with American culture? That I avoid caring about the REAL issues in our society (or my life) by being voyeuristic and shallowly obsessed with these non-celebrities? Or do I just care . . . deeply . . . about those 6 sweet little 5 year olds (sorry, the bigger two bug me) who have to deal with those parents. I can't really blame them, though. Who can ever really understand the pressure of having 8 children in the time it would take most of us to have two? Like her, I can be driven into a downright frenzy of witchitude some days by my mere three children. And, of course I have vented my parental frustration directly on my dear husband many a time. And I get that he feels trapped . I truly do. BUT THE KIDS!!!! Those sweet little kids. It was sad and painful to watch. Sadder still? My inability to look away. WHY?!


Goals: The Setting and Achieving Of

My daughter purchased an iPod Touch today. With her own money which she painstakingly saved. I agreed to the plan when I thought it would take her years to stockpile the $299 she would need. But she's smarter than that. She decided that 8 gig was plenty big enough for her. And the $229 price tag got her several months closer to her goal. Then she got some money for her birthday. And some pet sitting jobs. And I've been paying her a small fee to watch her brothers for a half an hour at a time so I could run errands. And she was just twenty tiny dollars away from her goal. But she did not stop there. She wisely went online and found a refurbished Touch on the Apple website for $179. With free shipping. $1 less than she had saved. Holy Cow!!! I feel so old. I have a super-smart, resourceful child who now has a cooler iPod than me.

Her success has been a revelation in our home. Her brothers are now saving all their money for big things they want. A new Nintendo DS for Riley, six thousand Bakugan for Dylan. Whatever. This is a big deal! Our children have always been spendthrifts. Money almost literally burns holes in their pockets. They waste it on garbage that is broken or forgotten inside of a month. And so we opened The Bank of Mom and Dad. They give all their cash to me (mwah ha ha ha ha) and I "save" it for them. Then when they are ready to make a purchase I just pay for it with my debit card. They love to look at their spreadsheets on the computer and see their balances increasing. It's lovely. I hope it lasts into their grown up years.

Brent and I are jumping on this goal setting bandwagon. We have decided to go one month without eating out. At all, with the exception of Riley's birthday lunch. This will be difficult for folks who "just run through the drive thru" three (or more) times per week. It's not exactly like our children's goals, but the gist is the same. Doing something you haven't previously thought possible. Every time I don't feel like cooking dinner I'll just look at Sydney's new iPod and redirect my booty toward the kitchen.

Easily said at this early hour when my day is still shiny and fresh.


Twice a Year 'Tato Skins

In honor of Father's Day, I'm going to share with you the best recipe I have in my arsenal. Brent LOVES these, but, really, if I want his big 'ol heart to keep on beating for any length of time (and I do) we just can't have them very often. Twice a year. Super Bowl and Father's Day. And you'll never pay upwards of $8 for them in a restaurant again. You're welcome.

Twice a Year 'Tato Skins 

(Like many of the BEST recipes, this has no formal measurements. Sorry.)

baked potatoes (The quantity depends on the size of potatoes you have. If you got the big'uns, plan on one potato per person. If they're small, like mine today, plan on two per person. Then maybe a few extras because they're just THAT good.)

oil (for deep frying)

tomatoes, diced (about one for every 5 big, 10 small potatoes)

green onions, chopped (lots)

crumbled bacon (I am lazy and don't love it when my home smells like bacon so I buy the little pouches of Oscar Mayer REAL bacon bits in the salad dressing aisle of the grocery store.)

shredded cheddar cheese (the more the better)

sour cream

Preheat oven to 350*. Heat oil (about 1 " deep) in a skillet. Cut baked potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides, leaving about 1/4 inch of potato lining the skin. Drop potatoes 3 or 4 at a time into the hot oil, turning after about a minute, until skin is crispy and potato inside is golden. Drain on paper towel-lined plate. (I NEVER would have thought to do this on my own, but it makes ALL the difference. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP IN A LAME ATTEMPT TO BE HEALTHY!! That's why you're only having them twice a year, remember?)

When all potatoes are fried and drained, place on a baking sheet. Fill each potato with a little chopped tomato. (Also a revelation to me, but sooo delicious.) Then add green onion. (The white parts. Save the green ends to garnish the top AFTER you cook them.) Then the crumbled bacon. Then the cheese. (Be generous. Twice a year. Twice a year.) Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese gets all melty and yummy. Garnish each with a (generous)dollop of sour cream and those green onions you saved before. Beautiful and delish!

We had ours today with grilled rib-eye steak and cantaloupe. Oh, how I love Father's Day!!

Brent . . . Don . . . Dad . . . thanks. Thanks for being some of the best fathers I have ever known. I am blessed to have you all in my life. Hope your day was fantastic.



Every so often this mommy feels the need to get out of the house. More than that, she feels the need to get out of the routine that is our life. (Thanks be to Priceline for allowing this to happen.) Last night we had a little over-nighter at a beautiful resort up in Scottsdale. We hit the pool . . . HARD. The kids lounged around the room after their baths in the big fluffy robes they found hanging in the closet. They watched Cable TV. They sat by the pool late into the afternoon talking about the best way to beat a game they've been playing on-line. They chased a bunny and dug up worms. Most memorably, they bonded. They seemed, for 24 hours, to really enjoy one another's company. And that alone was worth my $35.


Ignorance is Bliss?

So, I'm increasingly convinced that I have arthritis. Brent laughs at my self-diagnosis. I'd bet his next paycheck that I'm right. I'm tired. Always. The joints in my hands ache. Always. Sometimes my shoulders and knees join them. But ALWAYS the hands. To the point that I rarely hold my husband's hand anymore. Because it hurts. My friend Suzie, who is an older, distinguished woman, believes me. Especially about the fatigue. She says I can find out for sure with a simple blood test. I should probably do that. I just keep coming back to not wanting to know for sure. I just barely discovered that I can paint. I'm only in my thirties. I just don't want to know.


Flashback: Alice in Wonderland

(Click to enlarge.)
You may remember me gushing a few months ago about how fabulous my daughter was in her elementary school musical. Well, now I have the photographic evidence! Isn't she the cutest little Alice you've ever seen? Maybe we're bad parents, but we didn't actually take any pictures ourselves that night. We just figured we'd buy the professional photographer's CD so we could sit back and enjoy the show. What we didn't figure was that it would take sooo long to get the pics. Anyway . . . My baby is CLEARLY the star, but also notice the whimsically cute scenery I painted. Please. (I'm fun, too. *pout*)



On this night eleven years ago my life was forever altered. I learned what it felt like to have a piece of my heart outside of the safe confines of my chest. I learned how poorly I cope with little sleep. I learned how it felt to be compelled to love another person so much that, often, it was painful. I didn't choose to love this sweet little spirit. Not in the way I chose to love her father every day. It just happened and it was lovely. Even if the intensity was a little frightening.
She exploded into the quiet little life her father and I had created for ourselves like a little firecracker. OK. More like an atomic bomb. I wasn't ready for her strong will and opinionated nature. I thought all babies were docile and complacent. I was wrong.
She is a first child in the truest sense of those words -- the product of her parent's failed experiments and naivete. But, as most first children tend to do, she has survived. Dare I say thrived? She held on to that strong will of hers with a white-knuckle grip, determined to be who she was in spite of our feeble attempts to tame her.
Why we would have thought we wanted to change her is beyond me now. I wish, with the perspective that comes with age, that we had spent more time enjoying her spunk and going with her flow rather than trying to drag her into ours. But we were so young!! We didn't know any better.
She was a prodigious little chatterbox. Almost to the point that I feel now as if some of my memories can't possibly be real. Like when she was between 18 months and 2 years old and I was expecting her first little brother. We told her, very ceremoniously, that his name was going to be Riley. She looked at me, rolled her eyes and said, "Whatever you want. He's your baby."
That can't be possible. And yet it happened. I KNOW it happened. She and I are bonded. The only girls. Always told how much alike we look. And sound. Both loving to read. And sing and dance. Both easily irritated and short tempered.
But that's not what makes me love her so much. More than the likeness of myself that I see in her, I appreciate that she possesses many of her father's better qualities. She is social -- to a fault. I love that she has befriended a young couple in our neighborhood. She and Brent met Mark and Megan at the pool one afternoon. Sydney was quick to stop and chat whenever she saw them. She insisted we take them dinner when their daughter, Nora, was born last year. She walked their dog for them when Megan was pregnant again and sick. She invited them to her birthday party last night.
They couldn't say enough nice things about our sweet little girl. My first instinct is to shy away from situations like that. Not Sis. She gets that from her dad. It's beautiful. Like her father also, she would do anything for her friends. She's happiest when she's helping.
So, life with Sis began like an atomic bomb. It has taken a while for all the dust and debris of our former life to settle into the beautiful landscape that we enjoy today. I'm happier now. NOW I have a daughter. One who actually LIKES me much of the time. Who treats others with kindness and respect (much of the time . . . ).
Who is talented and bright and fun to be with. A daughter who has made me a better person as I have learned through trial and error how to be her mom. Who still carries that piece of my heart with her and who better be extra careful with it these next eleven years. I fear the road may not remain as smooth as it has been to this point. And I'm not as young and resilient as I once was. I'm just saying . . .

Happy Birthday, Sissy. The past eleven years have been a joy.



That is the sweetest word in my vocabulary. HOME. I'm home. It was a long week. I was stomach-sick until Wednesday. Tuesday night when Brent came up for a "romantic" evening in the hotel I just laid next to him in bed and cried. He patiently rubbed my back. Then I read my book while he watched the Laker's game. That's real love, right there. There was no air conditioning on the job site for most of the week. Yesterday, when I realized the air-blowing sound I was hearing was coming from the furnace not the air conditioner, it was all I could do to hold back the tears again. Tonight I am bone-weary and every muscle in my body aches. Every one. But I am home. And the murals are finished (and beautiful!). And I am happy.


Mommy's Mini Personal Vacay

Guess who will be staying at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for the entirety of next week! That's right. MOI!!

It's not really as great as it sounds, though. I'm doing another mural project. Here in Arizona this time, but it's pretty far away from my house. My too, too kind husband agreed that it would probably be best if I stayed out closer to the job site and pretended I was away so that I could finish the job in 5 days like I've been doing in Colorado. He's a sweetheart, that one. And he's probably figuring I'll owe him one when I get back. He's probably right. So, after grueling 13 hour work days I'll at least have a really nice place to stay without a commute of over an hour each way. You gotta' love those off-season hotel deals on


The Spin Doctor

My littlest guy had a rough morning yesterday. By "rough" I mean "knock down, drag out, fist-fighting, full scale terrorism". He was really on a roll until he got grounded to his bedroom for the entire day. And even then he lost half of his toys, one by one, before he calmed enough to comply. I was the very picture of self control throughout. Thank you, Celexa. At any rate . . . just before lunch time I felt that he was calm enough to really have a talk about the "choices" he had made. I went up and sat next to him on his bed. I put my arm around him and asked, "How do you think your behaviour was this morning?" He sits for a moment, stone faced and remorseful, before answering, "Very active?" Hmmmmmmm. Yeah. Best not put too fine a point on it. Hello American Politicos, meet your child prodigy.

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