Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pie & Family

I blogged about my high ideals for holidays. In keeping with those ideals, I'll show you the best of the day:

Our family right before Thanksgiving Mass. (Not a holy day of obligation, but I love going to Mass on Thanksgiving. It's just right!)

And the lovely pies that turned out fine. Jack Daniels Chocolate-Chip Pecan, and Pumpkin. Didn't make the crust, but I'm still impressed enough with myself.

Really, our celebration was wonderful. I usually settle in quite nicely with the fact that I can't live up to my ideals. But in honor of those ideals, I'll refrain from showing you a photo of our table. I used red, white, and blue tablecloths and white patio chairs. No candles (there were eight kids here!). No pilgrim placecards or cornucopia centerpiece. And believe it or not, despite all that I still had a nice time. Imagine.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

I caught a small glimpse of Black Friday. Just a small one.

Spent the morning at a park feeding leftover Thanksgiving muffins to the pigeons with John while the other three kids and their friends played. There were a lot of dads and granddads there, presumably keeping the kids entertained while moms and grandmoms shopped. I delight in NOT shopping on this day.

Later on I had a movie date with my friend Janelle. Ten years ago we went to Guatemala together. Today we met up at Rave in Town Square. She's weeks away from delivering her third baby and I left my four home with Kevin. How life changes.

Getting to the movies was my glimpse of Black Friday. Town Square was packed, and so was the freeway getting there.

Dinner was leftovers (how many Americans had leftovers tonight?). Watched "Planet Earth" with the kids. It was the oceans episode. Ever watch educational TV with four children? Kevin and I were laughing out loud at the insane number of comments and questions they came up with. Most of the questions had answers provided by the show, but unheard because they were asking. Boy oh boy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

And meanwhile, in Idaho

While I'm here in Vegas fretting over whether I will use paper plates, my brother killed a turkey yesterday. With a hatchet. I guess I never thought about how they killed the turkey - I just picked it up at the grocery store like everybody else in urban America. A hatchet! That sounds MUCH more messy and difficult than, say, a bullet. If someone told me I had to kill my own turkey, I'd rather use a gun. But no, it was all about hatchet, knife, and some blunt force trauma. My brother and his family are not in urban America. They're in rural America. And I think it's cool he got this opportunity, even if it is a little gross.

My turkey arrives via potluck tomorrow around three. Sometime in the hours between when I get up and when that bird arrives, I have to crank out two pies, some chutney, and mashed potatoes. And warm the ham. And figure out where to seat 17 people. And dust, I really need to dust. And probably clean the downstairs bathroom. And find a craft for eight kids to do. That's all.

He said the feathers were as thick as your pinky finger. Can you imagine plucking those suckers?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Aunt Sally would be proud

My mom used to say that the reason Aunt Sally had ulcers was because she wanted a "Norman Rockwell" life and no one can really have a Norman Rockwell life. It doesn't stop some of us from trying.

Thanksgiving is coming up. I am trying to get away with paper plates and potluck despite my desires for Martha Stewart place cards and fancy turkey trimmings.

The menu is nice enough:
turkey & a Honey Baked ham - dad & step-mom
stuffing, gravy, shrimp salad, muffins - mom
veggie & fudge - Karen
mashed potatoes, cranberry chutney, pecan pie, Coca-Cola for Kevin - me

This is all well and good til I count the guests and count my plates and the numbers don't match up. AND I am insisting on making a pecan pie from a recipe that I've tried TWICE before and failed both times. Somebody save me from myself!

Meanwhile, tonight I get to go out to an Italian restaurant with women from our Moms' Group and relish someone else's cooking and someone else's plates. Tomorrow begins the pie effort number three!

Friday, November 20, 2009

2nd Date

Our first date didn't go so well. There was an episode of vomiting on the side of the road, a terrible drive full of anxiety and nausea, and we arrived home to our brand-new babysitter two hours early. But that's another story.

Tonight was our 2nd date. We had dinner at a restaurant mostly patronized by the elderly and then went Christmas shopping for the kids. Not super romantic, but at least we were together and had some laughs.

Perhaps the 3rd date will be fabulous.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We survived

Today was picture day. Somehow I had haircuts done, outfits bought, and an appointment made - so we went. I was disappointed. I guess you get what you pay for, and I went the cost-cutting route. I am yearning to hire this photographer, an acquaintance from high school who looks like she does beautiful, colorful, artistic work. Meanwhile, my little studio photo will have to suffice. No matter what, my children are beautiful - and that comes through even the simplest photo.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Morning in the life

I'm sitting doing math with Cayna, trying to ignore the sharp stabbing pain in my right armpit. Had a mole cut off this morning at the dermatologist's while I perused an issue of Travel & Leisure Magazine. Then home to retrieve my four kids from the babysitting neighbor. Remembered that I forgot breakfast. I can put an egg sandwich in the microwave if I have a napkin to wrap it in, but the napkins are gone. No paper towels. No paper product of ANY kind? That can't be. Wait! Toilet paper. I wrap my frozen breakfast in toilet paper and set it in the microwave. Did I remember my anti-depression, anti-rage medication? I don't think so because I'm feeling depressed and enraged simultaneously. Take my pills and share my egg sandwich with the two year-old. Daughter wants the five large knots removed from her ladybug necklace. What was that article I was reading in the doctor's office about finding art treasures in Milan? Maybe there's someone out there right now searching for art treasures in Milan while I'm detangling this ladybug necklace. My art treasure is the page-full of circles with a line through each one that Bethanie drew for me. "Buttcheeks," she said. Nifty. And man my armpit stings. Is it time for lunch yet?

Monday, November 16, 2009

I think I know what happened over at Maybelline.

One employee was stirring her vat of lipstick, and one employee was stirring her vat of nail polish, and they got distracted by their conversation. The first employee was having trouble with her boyfriend, and the second employee was sympathizing, but it was bringing up lots of bad memories for her because she, too, had been through some rough things in her most recent relationship.

As a result of the distraction, the lipstick ended up in the nail polish packaging and vice versa. The factory forewoman made the decision to "just go with it!" Customer reviews were favorable. For the most part, consumers couldn't tell the difference. Most women like creamy nail polish and shiny lipstick anyway.

Take this piece of mothering advice: do NOT shop for cosmetics with four children in your cart. (Many more high-falutin' women than me would convert this into cosmetic advice: do NOT shop for makeup in stores with carts.) I was at Target (as I often am, let's face it) and I needed lipstick. I walked into one of the cosmetics aisles and became a bit overwhelmed by the ninety-three thousand lipstick options. Life was easier for me when my mom was a Mary Kay consultant and gave me everything free. Delivered to my door. IF you can select what type of lipstick you want - which might take up to forty minutes... you then need to select a color (colour, as they like to spell it on the makeup aisle --- even at Target). Take it from me, moms of four -- even moms of ONE -- don't have the time it takes to properly select lipstick. So I did what any desperate woman would do: I played eeny-meeny-miney-mo.

Once home, I was quite disconcerted to discover that I had chosen a lipstick with three parts. Normal lipstick would have two - the lipstick and the lid. Even lip BALM requires that much. So you wouldn't think three parts would be a big deal, but I couldn't figure this thing out. I had to read INSTRUCTIONS! With my LIPSTICK! If I had time to read makeup instructions, I wouldn't have had to rush into my purchase in the first place!

This little doozy has a (and I will now use Maybelline's terminology) 16-hour liquid color. Oh! Look at that! They spelled it "color". Maybelline is really backing off the pretense. There is a whopping .077 fluid ounce of this stuff. Sure to last me clear into the middle of next week. But wait! The color is only step one. And, yes, there is a shiny silver "1" emblazoned on the bottle for morons like me so I know what to apply first in my multi-step process. Step 2 is the conditioning balm. You have to apply the color, "wait for it to dry thoroughly" and then apply the balm. Got that?

I followed the steps. I applied. It dried. I balmed. And I'm here to tell you, those folks at Maybelline aren't messing around. That stuff STAYED. I had to virtually PEEL it off. It was kinda freakish, and that's what led me to believe that I had something more like nail polish on my lips. And it might take acetone to get it off more easily. So... if you're looking for a lipstick that doesn't gook up after a couple hours, won't smear all over your Starbucks cup, and takes some effort and concentration to apply --- this stuff is for you! Incidentally, it's called "Superstay." Of course it is.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mom watches son become altar server.

Late afternoon sun streamed through the high windows.
And I sat in the third row.
And watched my son in his cassock and surplice. And Crocs.
Practice carrying a candle, a cross, an enormous tray full of gold-plated chalices. Up stairs.
And set it on the altar.

Five other boys practiced the same.
I imagined what a brotherhood he's joined.
All the boys that have done these same things for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years.
Imagine all those candles. Crosses. Enormous trays full of chalices.
And that tall, tall, clear, glass pitcher for the wine.
No other place would you hand a nine year-old boy a tall glass pitcher of wine and tell him to walk around with it. Especially in a long skirt.

Hours of practice. All six boys practiced all the jobs.
And at the end, Father Mark gave a short, witty, nine year-old-level talk on reverence.
Six boys went back to the sacristy and removed the garments and hung them up themselves!
We drove home together in the minivan. I told Joseph that Grandpa Tony was an altar server when he was a young boy. And I told him I was proud of him. And that I'd say a prayer every time he had to carry the tray of chalices up the stairs to the altar in a skirt. He smiled. He's not worried. Just me. It's my job to sit in the third row, now. And watch him carry the cross. And then wait while he hangs his own clothes. And when we get home, I go in where it's warm and reflect on the afternoon. And he goes out in the cold on his bike and plays with the other kids on the street.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Top 6 Favorite Things for My Winter '09

6. Snow. But I'm outta luck, folks. Sad, in a way. But then again, it was 64 degrees here when I talked to my sister-in-law in Idaho today and it was 23 there. Egads.

5. Yankee Candle's "Pumpkin Spice". Delicious. Wipes out the usual odor around here of dirty diapers, burnt popcorn, burnt dinner for that matter, and mouse pee.

4. My cozy pink gloves. Mainly wear them when running, but maybe this should change.

3. Progresso Soup's low-sodium "Italian-Style Wedding". A whole can is 4 points. Yum.

2. Kevin's space heater in our bathroom. Short of having a heated floor and towel bar, this is the closest thing to wonderland in the bathroom.

1. Good Earth's Sweet & Spicy Herbal Tea. (I'll give credit where credit is due and thank Heather R.H. for introducing me about six years ago.) So delicious and there's nothing like a cup of tea (and the cozy pink gloves) to warm me up. I personally rather enjoy the fun quotes on each tea bag, too.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Yesterday was 11/11 - a great day for people like me who enjoy weird things. And I forgot to blog! How could I do that?

Well, to mark my sadness at missing the occasion, I'll at least share this very unique photo with you:

Wondering what you're looking at? Can you guess? Study closely...
Kevin's extracted wisdom teeth! All four! Two in tact with roots still attached, two in bits-n-pieces.

If that upset you, maybe this photo of John dressed in a tutu thanks to his big sis will cheer you up.

Happy 11/12! (It's just not the same.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


My relationship with Garnier Fructis is over. I first bought it because it has many of the ingredients approved for curly hair (according to Curly Girl, The Handbook). But it also had its share of problems. For one thing, the dork that designed the bottle has obviously never tried to open shampoo with wet hands while standing in an actual shower. Here is a photo:

See that roundish thing at the top? Besides being roundish, it's also smooth. And the only way into the shampoo. I had to use a washcloth to open it every time.

The other problem is the name. Garnier Fructis, which, if the commercial is to be trusted, should be prounounced as if you are French - (Gar-nyay Frook-teese). When you're sitting around with your friends and the topic of "What shampoo do you use" is addressed, you either sound like a wanna-be Parisian or say it the other way and sound like a redneck (Gar-neer Fruck-tiss).

Farewell, annoying bottle. As is my way, I set out for Target to buy a NEW brand of hair washer. Now I've been sucked in by Herbal Essences. Those folks over at Clairol have gone ALL OUT on their product labeling. I bought the "break's over" strengthening kind - "a love potion for bad hair break-ups". On the back they say, "Discover happiness after a bad hair break-up." How did they know? Garneer Frucktiss left me with a lot of breakage! This stuff has "an anti-breakage potion". Oooooooooooooohhhh! I like the word "potion" in my hair-care products. Clairol person even put a trivia question on the bottle, and the answer is on the conditioner. Clever! Go to get the answer and once you have that bottle in your hand, it's as good as bought!

Only thing I'm curious about is that, in addition to the potion, it says it has "a fusion of coco mango and pearls". Pearls? In my shampoo? If that were true, surely it would cost a LOT more and only be available at the salon. So what do they mean?

I called the Clairol Customer Service Hotline (the number is printed on the bottle) but alas, they were closed for the day. The recording ended with, "If you have a medical emergency..." WHAT? Now I need to know not only what pearls they're talking about, but also what medical emergencies might be associated with my use of their hair-care stuff.

Stay tuned for my spellbinding comments on the new lipstick I accidentally bought.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I did the triathalon

route today on my run.

I could almost breathe the leftover energy from yesterday's event. Gotta love those guys and girls out there pounding the pavement after splashing through the lake and biking a crazy distance.

Watched the runners zoom by our church and then fly through our neighborhood. Porta-potties and Gatorade stations everywhere. LOVE it! Someday...

For now, I jogged part of their route a day after they did. Worrying all the while what difference an altitude change will make in my running. I'm registering for a 5K on Joe's birthday. I'll say a 5K beats two days of labor hands down.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Poop Sprayer Nostalgia

My friend Heather has asked to borrow my poop sprayer. Any minute now I'll go get it out of the "cloth diapering" bin in the garage. And, oh, the memories will emerge from the bin right along with the diapering supplies.

I cloth diapered my first three children. Little John, though, has known nothing but disposables on his bottom. Sorry, John. Sorry, budget. Sorry, landfill. At one point, I even had three kids at once in cloth. This is because the oldest was still in PullUps (which I found a cloth version of) before the girls were potty-trained. So I consider myself a cloth diapering pro. I have six years of it on my mom resume. This will do me no good anywhere, but someone should applaud me. I was not always a pro, especially when I tried new things like the poop sprayer.

The poop sprayer is a handy device, much like a kitchen faucet sprayer, but you attach it to your toilet plumbing. Then, when it's time to dislodge a poo from a cloth diaper, you are SUPPOSED to simply hold the poopy diaper over the toilet, cleverly aim the sprayer at the poop, and spray toward the toilet bowl. Then you flush, toss the diaper into the pail, and go on your merry way.

Let me be the one to tell you --- that thing harnesses some serious water pressure. And the first poop I experimented with was... shall we say... NOT neat and tidy. Unsuspecting, I unleashed the full force of the water and when it came in contact with the poop - there was a crazy splash emergency of sorts. All over my bathroom walls. All over the toilet. And of course all over me. I'm sure I cussed. Probably a lot. And spent the next twenty-five minutes cleaning up what should have been a NON mess.

Over time, I became more proficient with the sprayer. And it resided a long while in my bathroom in Yucaipa. When it came time to sell our house, however, I dismantled the whole system because of the constant faint odor of poo. That odor goes along with the scent of saved money, though - and the satisfaction of doing your part for the environment. But now I live stench-free in a disposable-diaper world and will soon happily send off the sprayer to Sacramento.

Heather, if you're reading, Best Wishes! May the poop sprayer give you many happy rinses. It's positively WAY better than the old system of swishing the poopy mess around in the toilet bowl by hand. I give my mom huge props for doing that my whole babyhood.

Someday, if I have a baby into my forties, and my energy to cloth diaper returns - send the poop sprayer back my way and we'll get reacquainted.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Somehow, someway, this is funny:

That I have a black dermatologist. It strikes me as funny that a guy with skin as opposite mine as you can get is advising me on crucial skin care. Kevin and I walked into our appointment yesterday, poster children for the dermatological profession, and the doctor is black. Come to find out, though, he has a greater risk for melanoma sneaking up on him. He explained this to me at great length, which made me fall in love with him. I fall in love with any doctor that answers my questions at great length. I do NOT like doctors who show their annoyance at my 55 billion questions.

He used the nitro gun and zapped numerous spots on my arms. I look a teeny bit like my arms are covered in blisters. It's really pretty, lemme tell ya. AND I have a prescription for this cream that I have to apply daily for a week or two to all the parts of my body that get regular sun exposure. If there is any pre-cancer on any of those parts, the cream will essentially sizzle them to bits. Sizzle, seer, and scab. Therefore, I will not be taking a family portrait anytime soon. Sheesh. We go back in a couple weeks to have various protrusions sliced off our skin. Kevin more than me. Start praying now, because the last time they did this, the cutter/dermatologist accused Kevin of having a bleeding disorder. That's not what you want to discover right after they've hacked a two-foot crater into the flesh on your back.

I did not go back to the guy I saw last year. My dermatologist needs to impress my socks off since this is the guy that will probably, in the next forty years, save my life. The guy I saw last year sent his PA out to look me over. I'm not against PAs, but I much prefer the real MD. Plus, that particular PA didn't talk enough. I'm all about the talking. And the sense of humor. And, as Kevin noticed, the "Rainman"-like qualities that somehow we both find comforting in physicians. Doesn't hurt that they had free Atomic Fireballs at the counter on the way out. Kevin had one and I got to hear about it all the way home as it burned the first two layers off the inside of his mouth.

Did you know you can get melanoma on your eyeballs? I didn't. But my new, nitro-gun-bearing, "Rainman"-like, pleasantly-talkative, life-saving, funny, black dermatologist informed me it is so. So... get your eyes checked once a year! And your skin. And teeth. And cholesterol. And boobs. And other private parts. And maybe, just maybe, if you don't get hit by a truck while you're out jogging, you'll live long enough to die of old age.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Highlights

The kids:

We had Silver Mist, the water fairy from Tinker Bell (in case like me, you didn't know); Minnie Mouse; a puppy; and a skeleton. The skeleton mask was a little on the scary side for little siblings and friends who trick-or-treated with us, but it didn't last long anyway due to comfort issues. I thought it was a perfect costume since saints are often depicted with skulls as a reminder of our mortality! John's costume was complete with a dog bowl that Kevin bought at Target last-minute. You shoulda heard all the compliments he got on cuteness when he held up his little dog dish to get candy.

This year's jack o' lanterns:

And other stats:
total trick-or-treaters in our group - 20
# of Catholic costumes (counting the skeleton) - 3 (we had a monk and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton)
# of toasted pumpkin seeds - 744
# of 100 Grand bars I ate post trick-or-treating - just 2!