Thursday, April 28, 2011
Friday - laundry, pack, countdown
Friday night - haul baby girl to Philly to spend some quality time with the Grandparents
Saturday - drive home from Philly without listening to Backyardigans (or whining) in the back of the car.
Sunday - hop a flight to Tampa!
Wednesday - come home!
In between Sunday an Wednesday, time has no meaning for me.
I cannot wait. Greg will be at a conference each day, but I will be on vacation. We're staying at a nice hotel on the bay, which from what I understand I'll be within walking distance of a lot of stuff. Shopping. An aquarium. A hotel pool with lounge chairs...
I'm looking forward to eating at some restaurants without a high chair or booster seat or a child bouncing in the booth next to me refusing to eat and climbing on me.
We haven't been on a fun adult trip since... Well, it's been a few years. I don't think we had any fun trips at all while I was pregnant, as I felt like slug slime the entire time, and we haven't really gone anywhere without the baby girl since. I'm totally comfortable leaving her with my mom, who is stoked about it.
Ahhh. Vacation. I can't wait.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Apparently the key to taking portrait type pics of my kid is to get her away from her toys. My previous attempts at Easter pictures have mostly taken place in our yard and as a result I have a lot of pictures of Kaycie in a cute dress climbing on her buggy. Today I took her to the pond behind our library and I got a few really good pictures. Out of 150. We had two big problems. The first one was mud. Lots of mud. They need to plant more grass around the pond! The second problem was that she wanted to be right next to me the whole time. I'd walk her over to the rocks, run back a few feet to set up the picture, and the minute I turn around she'd be right at my side. But at least I got something this time, and she liked her hat!
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I'm a big fan of the birthday. Doesn't matter whose it is, they deserve a really special celebration. Because birthdays are the only time that you get to celebrate yourself, without sharing (unless you happen to share a birthday, which would kinda suck). Other holidays are great and all, but you're always celebrating something else. It's awesome to celebrate YOU.
I've never worked (at a "real" job) on my birthday. I considered it a holiday and took it off every year. We don't always do something big, but we always have a fun day. Back in the day my friends and I had a birthday tiara we'd pass around for each of our birthday, to be worn out in public as much as possible. I remember BFF Jen wearing it at Turner Field at a Braves game!
I won't lie, I'm getting old. And things aren't all about me, even on my birthday. Today I had to go to the dentist because of a problem tooth. We scheduled it for today because Greg was already taking the day off and could hang with Kaycie while I was meeting with Dr. Boswell. Not something I would have chosen to do on my birthday, but since I don't have alternate childcare options, I do what I have to do. But we still made a fun trip out of it, visiting the Children's Museum, having lunch, and coming home and all three of us taking naps. Then off to dinner with my in-laws. It was an awesome day. And it was my day. Well, me and Queen Elizabeth II. And Iggy Pop. And Tony Danza. But still, it was all about me!
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
I staged a practice Easter egg hunt for Kaycie today. This will ne the first Easter that she's big enough to hunt eggs! Although I'm pretty sure from the look on her face she thinks if I want all those eggs in the basket I should just put them there instead of scattering them across the living room floor.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Let me start with a confession - I've had a more than healthy fear (terror) or tornadoes since I was a kid. They literally haunt my dreams. I have nightmares where I'm either running from them or I'm poking along, turn a corner, and am face to face with them. The tornado siren is so close to my house I nearly went deaf the first weekend after I bought the house and it kept going off. I don't take that siren lightly. When they start talking about tornado threats on TV and use the word, "warning," I start a mild panic. When the siren goes off I'm usually reminding myself to breathe. I haven't had to deal with that since Kaycie was born because we've had an unusually quiet year and a half. Until now.
Normally, Friday morning is when I grocery shop. We get our weekly cash out of the bank on Friday's so I like to go ahead and get it out of the way before I spend it over the weekend. This week it turned out that Thursday night we had a milk emergency (Kaycie loves her milk!) so after she was in bed I made a quick trip to the store and picked up enough stuff to get us through the weekend. Since I didn't have to worry about shopping Friday, Greg sent me a message that morning asking if I wanted to have lunch. Sure, but I wanted to check on the weather first. It was supposed to storm...
At that point (around 9:30) I hadn't turned on the TV or paid much attention. I saw from the weather ap on my phone that we were under a tornado watch so I was cautious. A little rain doesn't bother me but there's no point in hauling Kaycie out in really nasty weather if I don't have to. It hadn't started raining yet but it was about to.
I turned on the TV and all 4 local stations were doing weather break-ins. That was my first clue. One of the weather guys started talking about a possible tornado in the Port Gibson area. Shortly after he said that our tornado siren went off. I grumbled, because we are nowhere near Port Gibson, and hauled my ducklings into the bathroom. None of them wanted to go. Casper is particularly not fond of the evil chamber of bath-torture.
The siren went off, we piled out, and I started getting ready to go out for lunch. It looked like a thin line of nasty weather heading over from Vicksburg, but if it moved through quick we could still make lunch, even if it was a little bit late. A few minutes later the weather guy started saying that there was something bad headed toward Clinton, and named off Huntcliff subdivision and Northside Drive. That got my attention. I'm within walking distance of Huntcliff and can see Northside from my front yard. I said a few bad words and piled my shorties back into the bathroom. I'd already stashed my camera equipment and a snack for Kaycie in there.
After we got comfy in the bathroom the siren went off. I was more than a little nervous at this point. I sent Greg a message telling him we were hanging in the bathroom because David (Hartman, one of our local weather gurus) had said mean things. Moments later the siren stopped and we piled out again. The satellite had gone out in the living room so I didn't know what was going on exactly. Then the lights flickered. And flickered. And flickered. And finally went out. Crap. Told Greg we might be coming for lunch just to get out of the dark house. About five minutes later the power was back, flickering a couple of more times before settling out. I honestly believe this is when the tornado was crossing into Easthaven and Clinton Blvd, AFTER the sirens went off. That's one of the scarier parts for me. We were out of the bathroom in the living room waiting on the satellite to reboot so we could see what was going on...
Then my phone rang. It was my mother-in-law checking on us. She said a tornado had been on the ground in Clinton, near I20 and Springridge Road. That's only a couple of miles from us. May have hit the Home Depot. Well dang it. I was going to go there for plants later that afternoon. Guess not...
By the time I got off the phone I had a pile of text messages from people. Before I could answer those my phone was ringing again. This went on for an hour or so. In between calls and texts I caught some news coverage. Damage. Lots of it on the south side of Springridge. The reporter points across the interstate and says the twister continued across those trees toward Highway 80...
Um, that's a little closer to home.
As the day went on I stayed close to the TV. The more I saw the more nauseous I got. I had no idea. The mentioned Easthaven subdivision, a mile or so away by car, less than a mile as the crow (or tornado) flies. Then I saw the video posted on Facebook and the cold sweats started. It was big. And mean. And it was soooo close to my baby girl. And I had no idea.
I got more upset about it as the day wore on and ultimately had to turn off the TV. The last round of storms had come through and Clinton was given the all clear. I didn't want to see any more right then. I was terrified of how close the call was. Less than a mile.
Today was the first time Clinton Blvd was open since the incident. There were some big trees crossing the road and we'd had to detour to Highway 80 all weekend. The damage at Easthaven and some businesses and trees in town is incredible. I don't understand how there weren't more fatalities. It's bad. The cemetery on Clinton Blvd at the train bridge, lovingly referred to as the "curve of death," was in shambles. Huge old trees uprooted, ripped apart. Some of the old funeral home buildings were heavily damaged. You can trace the track across Clinton Blvd right there at the bridge. Way too close for my comfort.
All I could think was what if.
What if I hadn't run to the store Thursday night. We would have been somewhere on Hwy 80 when it came through.
What if I hadn't paid attention to the weather and decided to head on to get Greg for lunch. We would have been on Clinton Blvd, probably near where it crossed.
What if it hadn't taken a right turn at I20...
As I thought about it over the weekend. I don't think God "saved me" from that storm. I don't think He had a hand in guiding that tornado at all, because if He did I feel confident it wouldn't have destroyed so much, so many homes, so many businesses. I think He didn't stop it, and I think maybe He had a hand in keeping some people out of harms way. But He didn't cause it. And he didn't stop it from happening. Just as we have free will, natural disasters will happen and innocent people will suffer, but hopefully grow stronger as they rebuild.
Emergency workers and aid volunteers have been swarming Clinton all weekend, doing a great job. Police did an incredible job of patrolling and policing effected neighborhoods. Power was back for much of the city by Saturday night. Streets were open and businesses that didn't have damage were up and running Saturday. It makes me proud to live here.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
I have to confess. I saw this recipe in an ad in one of my mom's cooking magazines. So I ripped the page out and brought it home. I've put off cooking it for two weeks because I've had horribly bad luck making pasta dishes over the past couple of years and I just didn't know if I could bear another failure. But I had nothing else for New Recipe Wednesday, so I went for it.
This is what I call a cheater recipe because it isn't really from scratch. But it's fast and easy and I'm ok with that.
The verdict - YUM. The sausage adds a nice flavor to the sauce and made the dish quite tasty. But we're fans of sausage, so if you're not I'd suggest skipping this one. By the way, Soft Italian Bread Sticks make an awesome addition to this dish!
1 pkg sausage links
1 pkg rotini
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar spaghetti sauce (or red sauce of your choice)
1 red pepper, chunked and sauted (optional)
Slice the sausage into rounds and saute in the olive oil. Add in onion and garlic and saute that with it. Unless you think your sauce has enough, then skip the extra. I used a jar sauce that needs some pep. Also saute the red pepper here if you add it.
Drain any extra oil and add in pasta sauce. Simmer for as long as you can, then cook pasta, combine and serve.
I let it sit for a couple of hours because I made up the sauce while Kaycie was down for naps and let it rest until time for dinner. And for the record, I used brats instead of "sausage" because it's what I had on hand. I'll try regular Italian sausage next time.
I actually only made a half recipe, since I didn't know what to expect and that was just enough for the two of us plus a little for Kaycie (who ate it!). Next time I might make more, because I think the leftover sauce would probably be tasty.
I need to take a minute here to point out that if you've ever been inside the Clinton Fred's, you know exactly what that means. If you haven't, let's just say the foundation is so broken that there are warning signs up in the store to watch your step as you walk to the far end of the store. It's literally on another level than the rest of the store!
So it was a happy surprise to see them finally doing something about the condition of the building, and even happier that were having a sale. Woohoo! I love a store closing clearance. Unfortunately, it was Sunday evening and they were closing, but I made a mental note to go back later in the week. (Which is no help when you keep losing your mental notes!)
Monday and Tuesday I was without transportation. Wednesday I was too crazy busy to even think about it. This morning, I left the house with the intent of going by Freds, then hitting the grocery store before going to pick up Greg for lunch. I was naive. And I never made it Kroger.
First, Fred's sale was down to 75%. Second, they were nearly cleaned out. The new 75% off sign said they were open until the 20th. They won't make it that long with what's left. BUT I did find several toys that were good deals, so I grabbed them and got in line. I should have known better when there were only two registers open and both had lines. And both had people with multiple buggies of things... I chose the line with the fewest buggies, although in hindsight I should have chosen the line with the buggies that had fewer items.
Yes, that buggy is loaded with cigarettes. You really have to click on it to enlarge to get the full effect. And the one behind it is loaded with beef jerky. The one in front of it was loaded with candy. And I didn't realize at the time that all of those buggies plus two more all belonged to the same people. The guy kept roaming around and coming back with more cases of crap - scotch tape, peeps, other snacks... The poor cashier had to stop and make them pay after every 100 or so items because the register wouldn't take anymore on one transaction and she had to ring up each thing individually. To their credit, I found out through the hour long conversation that they own a bar. The guy behind me didn't:
I guess cheap cigs are something to get excited about. Blech. So yes, I stood in line behind that one bar-owning couple for an hour. For the record, the other line wasn't moving much faster and I probably only waited an extra 5 minutes from the choice. Geezum peetes it was crazy. A fight nearly broke out behind me when one guy didn't realize the buggy of cigs belonged to somebody and started taking packs out of it. When he found out they were all for one guy he got mouthy about it and things started getting ugly. Thankfully they calmed down right as the bar-couple finished up and we were getting out of there!
So was it worth it? I ended up with $121 worth of stuff for about $26. None of it was woohoo urgent stuff, mostly just a few toys (some baby gift toys) and the one thing that kept me in line...
A $5 Pillow Pet unicorn. A couple of months ago she found one in Best Buy and picked it up and carried it all over the store. I wasn't about to pay $20 for a gimmicky stuffed animal for a 1 year old, so we didn't let her keep it. But for $5, she can have one.
And the point of this entire post is to say that I have the most awesome kid ever. We stood in line, literally, I timed it, for AN HOUR. She sat in the buggy the whole time, playing with some 25 cent notepads I picked up. FOR AN HOUR. No crying. No whining. No fussing. Just playing with the notepads, mocking the other people in line, looking around, and making faces at me. My patience was coming to an end, and I'm an adult, but my 1 year old was a trooper. And she didn't even know about the unicorn in the buggy! She's amazing. When she wants to be.
*By insanity, I'm referring to myself, not the crazy people surrounding me.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I had to go off my ADD meds when we decided to try to get pregnant. That was nearly three years ago. The plan was to go back on it after Kaycie was born but I never did. I felt like I was handling things OK without it and between the side effects and the expense it just didn't seem worth it. Good thing, because I don't know how I'd manage the required 3 month checkup appointments with a toddler in tow.
Some days are fine. Some days I get a ton of stuff done, everything turns out right, and at the end of the day I'm a happy camper. And some days, like much of this week, I can't figure out what I'm doing. I wake up confused and end the day confused. Right now Kaycie is down for an early nap because she fell asleep on the way home from our lunch with Greg. There are at least a dozen things I should be doing right now, but I can't really put my head around any of them. I know I need to vacuum while she's asleep, but the task of clearing everything out of the floor seems monumental. I have something new to cook for dinner tonight and I should probably review the recipe and go ahead and make the sauce. But I just can't get started. I tried to read through the recipe and by the time I got to the end I had forgotten where I was supposed to start.
I'm having a hard time getting a picture taken every day. I look at my camera and try so hard to think of a good idea and... nothing. I feel immobile. I took pictures of my roses today, just in case I couldn't come up with anything creative. Flowers are my fall-back. I don't know what I'll do when it turns cold again!
I have trouble holding up my end of conversations, partially because I have trouble hearing and comprehending what's being said and in part because it takes effort to think up the appropriate response. It's not automatic. Or even fast. Writing isn't easy either. This is the third edit on this post, and I have one in draft that probably won't ever get published because I'm pretty sure it makes no sense at all.
I'm really worried about my BFF who is very sick right now. She's in a lot of pain and going through a very difficult emotional time, but I can't figure out what I can do to help. I just can't come up with a real plan. I can't even seem to get a get well card for her (in large part because I haven't had my van the past two days!). I check in on her every day but I don't feel like I'm doing enough. I just don't know where to go next. I had an idea on a way to do something nice for another friend yesterday, but the execution just seems more complex than I can handle this week.
I'm not even kidding when I tell you that I have prayed over and over - even before she was born - that Kaycie wouldn't end up with this. Sometimes I see things in her now and I wonder if it's "toddler" or if it's my brain showing through. Please, Lord, she's going to have a hard enough time without having to deal with this too.
I'm going to go start dinner. If I ruin it, we'll go out for BBQ. So there.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Kaycie's baby clothes, or at least what's left of them after I gave away a couple of big (huge) garbage bags full. Desperately in need of sorting and storing. So I sucked it up and bought a giant box of Space Bags for this mess as well as a pile of winter clothes, maternity clothes, and linens that needed to find a new home in the storage unit.
And that's just the baby clothes portion. I also have a full bag of winter and a full bag of linens all bagged up and ready to go, with at least two if not three or four more to go!
Greg's been trying to get me to replace our old dishwasher since the day we got married. He hates it. I've been reluctant to spend the money. No, it's not the most efficient. It's loud. It doesn't always clean the dishes very well. Yes, I had to scrub everything before loading it. Yes, it still sometimes left food on the dishes and especially inside the cups. And yes, it was really hard to get the dial to the exact right place to turn it on but not skip the first part of the cycle. But a new one was so expensive... Then it got worse. And worse. And I started finding that Kaycie's sippy cups weren't getting clean. And Heaven forbid I cook eggs in a skillet and expect it to get clean. So last week I finally broke down and said, "Honey, I want a new dishwasher." After Greg picked himself off the floor and confirmed that he wasn't having a seizure, we went shopping. We checked Consumer Reports. We decided what we wanted and decided to keep an eye on it and wait for it to go on sale. We figured we'd have a couple of months. Thursday night, 12 hours after we made our decision, Lowe's put it on sale. At a significant discount. We went that night and bought it.
Sniffle. It's so quiet. It does take about 12 hours (ok, 2 hours) to wash a load of dishes, but more often than not I'm not in a rush. I usually turn it on at night before bed anyway. And all the new ones take that long thanks to new energy standards that make them shockingly less efficient. Go figure. But it cleans my dishes, so I'm a happy camper. Did I mention that my father-in-law is made of awesome? He installed it for us Friday afternoon. It took forever, but saved us another $125! I swear, that man can do just about anything.
Oh, and while we're on a roll, one more thing...
Happy birthday to me! While shopping for dishwashers I found this patio set for about half the price I thought we'd have to pay. Since we had my father-in-law's truck to get the dishwasher, we went and bought the patio furniture to. So glad we did, as it was the last one - we bought the display! I was saving up for it, but Greg insisted on getting it for me for my birthday. I'm now going to save up for the umbrella to go with it. Along with a few other things. Like digging up the jungle of a flower bed right behind the table and putting in concrete pavers to extend my patio.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
You didn't think I was going to let this pass without mentioning it again, did you?
Oh yeah. I'm the March Madness Queen yet again. Three out of four years the magic quarter has come through. And really, last year shouldn't count because I had an infant and could easily have messed up the coin flips in my comatose state. But this year I'm back. And as the above evidence shows, not by a little either! AND that was with my championship team, Pitt, losing in the second round. Everybody had something to say about my defeat early, but then one by one everybody else's championship team started to fall, until Benji's Kansas Jayhawks were the only one left. And they lost to... who was it again? Some rinky dink 11th seed team? That's right. With their demise, I took first place and nobody had any points left to get. Go me. And my magic quarter. The route may not have been pretty, but it got me to the top once again!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Today is day 100 of my 365 photo project. I finally came up with an idea, considering my limited options today (re: stuck at home with my kid knowing Greg won't be home until late). I'm just impressed I made it to 100. I didn't think I'd make it past 14. Guess I need to get up and actually try to take that 100th picture.
A dear friend of mine is in the hospital today in pretty bad shape. I want to go check on her but I'm sure she doesn't need a 1 year old bouncing on her bed. However, I'm thinking if I was in that much pain and feeling that bad, I wouldn't want much company anyway. And if I keep telling myself that I won't feel like a terrible friend for not being able to go see her.
In related news, I need to find a babysitter. Not full time, just somebody I can call periodically on a weekday so I can go to a doc appt or on the weekend for date night. The very idea gives me shivers.
My mother is not only magical, but she now has ESP. Twice this weekend I mentioned toys I had been looking for and they magically appeared. I wanted a little play tent, poof! She had one stashed in her bedroom. I mentioned wanting to get a little bean bag. Poof! She had one in storage. I wanted to find a nice wooden art easel. POOF! She called last night to tell me she found the one I had bookmarked at $65, only for $15. Oh, and meanwhile I've started a Wish List at Amazon.com for things I want to get for Kaycie, because I can't ever remember the neat things I find!
And finally, I was thinking about signing Kaycie up for swim lessons this summer but most of the classes start at age 3 and I talked to one swim coach who gives private lessons who said prior to age 3 there's no point in structured lessons, you just need to get them acclimated to the water and comfortable with it. So now I'm thinking a Y membership so we can hang in the kiddie pool might be a less expensive option. Until the summer hits and I go insane from all the other kids. Sigh. I need a neighbor with a pool.
And yes people, this is three posts in one day. Boom shakalaka!
Honey Glazed Rolls
1C warm milk (70-80 degrees)
1 egg yolk (save the white for the glaze)
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
1-1/2 tsp salt
3-1/2 C bread flour
2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/3 C sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp honey
1 egg white
In bread machine pan, place the first eight ingredients in order. Select dough setting and activate. Check after 5 minutes to see if you need to add 1 to 2 tbs water or flour to get the right consistency.
When cycle is complete, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. (I'm wondering if my dough isn't getting a rise before it finished the cycle. It doesn't DO anything the last 10-15 minutes. I may try skipping this rise.)
Divide into 24 pieces; shape each into a ball. Place 12 balls each into two greased 9 inch square baking pans. (This is where I freeze some of mine!) Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
For glaze, combine sugar, butter, honey and egg white; drizzle over dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (325 for my crazy oven) until golden brown. Brush (drizzle, smear) with additional honey if desired. No, do it. Really. YUM.
I didn't plan on having a cooking day yesterday, but as it turned out, I did. It started with needing to do something with some roma tomatoes before they went bad, so I decided to try to make a homemade tomato paste. I'm still not entirely sure how it turned out, but I'll let you know. I started that before lunch, then right after lunch I put Kaycie down for a nap and needed to start dinner - dough for rolls, peas on to cook, and I had bought a big pack of cube steak on sale that I needed to prep/freeze. So I did. All of that. I'll post the roll recipe in a minute cause YUM. My sweet picky hubby raved about them, and ate the leftovers for breakfast! The cube steaks I cut into strips and doubled breaded using flour, cornstarch, and some of the roast chicken seasoning (I just made a huge a batch and keep it in a jar now). I made up the whole pack, cooked enough for dinner (8, which turned out to be too many) and put the rest on a cookie sheet to flash freeze for a couple of hours before transferring to a ziplock bag and tossing back in the freezer.
I also had a big pack of pork chops I had gotten on sale, so I went ahead and made saucy chops (my new name for the baked chops) and froze them in ziplocks in 2-3 chop servings. I also made up two extra servings (3/4 cups each) of the sauce and put those in the freezer for quick use as topping/dipping sauce when I cook the chops. Which will likely be tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I made my rolls but didn't need 24, so I when I got to the part where I roll them into balls and let them rise, I put six in the pan to rise and put the rest on a cookie sheet destined for - you guessed it - flash freezing. I needed to get them in the freezer before they started rising again, so I hope I made it in time. I have one of those and one of my frozen soft Italian bread sticks thawing now for a test run to see if it's going to work.
In case you haven't noticed, I'm on a mission to stock my freezer periodically with pre-prepped food. I've done a really good job the last couple of weeks of planning meals (I've got 4 more weeks planned already!) and trying to make enough extra to freeze so that meals can get a little easier. I've been struggling, particularly since Kaycie gets really nuts around 3pm every day, especially if she doesn't have my full attention. And I'm making Wednesdays "new food day," where I make something new to see if we like it. If not, we can always supplement with leftovers or taco bell! Ironically, just as I explained this policy to Greg this week, he suddenly had to go out of town for work today and won't be home in time for dinner. Coincidence? Hmmm*...
*It really is a coincidence. They've got a guy in filming a documentary and Greg had to take him to one of their sites so he could do an interview this afternoon. Wasn't really Greg's fault.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Take me to funky town...
We want the funk!
Play that funky music, white girl!
Sigh. Sometimes I get a funk. I was afraid it would spill over into today, but alas I woke up feeling marginally rested (a rare treat) and had an hour or so to myself before Kaycie woke up. Then she took a super long nap this afternoon, leaving me time to be uber-productive in the kitchen. To top it off, we had a tasty dinner and then Greg took me dishwasher shopping. I can't even tell you how happy that makes me! And then he broke the couch, but that's something else altogether.
Regardless, I banished the funk today. I'm hoping it stays away tomorrow, since I'll be home alone with the baby girl again and Greg's already promised to be home late since he's traveling to Timbuktu with a documentary videographer in the afternoon. Hopefully Kaycie and I can manage not to make each other nuts. Hopefully.