Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Cruel Mother Diaries: Spring Break Day 3

Official quote from Day 2: "You only care about yourself!"

That would be from Emma to me, in her unadulterated fury that I would not let her play Twilight Scene It on the tv. She spent a good amount of time in her room for that one, let me tell you.

Tuesday was not nearly as successful as Monday. While Hayley didn't ask even once to look at a screen, Emma was focused on it. Today I'm going to tell her flat out that if she even mentions it, she's in her room. 'Cause I was losing my patience yesterday and I'm not gonna go there today.

(Thank goodness I took a nap. I hadn't slept much the night before and if I hadn't had that nap... oh, the day would have been just horrible. *shiver at the thought*)

I really am beginning to think Hayley switched bodies with some insanely cooperative tween. I asked her to do the dishes yesterday and she did without complaint. I asked her to empty the upstairs waste baskets and she did. Along with the downstairs ones!

She even spent several hours cleaning out her dresser and desk drawers. Wow!!! She's so pleased with how organized everything is now. Huge high five to her! You are awesome, Boo!

So here's the part I wasn't expecting about the girls' Amish lifestyle... how many times I almost say "go watch one show" or "look this up on the computer". See, when Emma gets tired, she needs to totally veg out. Reading doesn't relax her; it just works her up. If she's falling apart just before the witching hour, sometimes I'll suggest she watch a single show.

When she reached that point yesterday and the purple shadows under her eyes were growing darker by the second, it would have been so easy to shoo her off to "relax" while I got dinner ready. I resisted, though, difficult as it was.

And after dinner when there was still plenty of time before bed and no homework/music/chores to finish? Even I wanted to sit down and watch tv. But mustering the remainder of my energy, I rallied the girls (Scott was at a business dinner) for a rousing game of Monopoly and popcorn.

It worked as smooth as butter. An hour passed quickly and before I knew it, they were both tucked warmly into bed.

Day 2 complete.

What will day Day 3, another rainy, freezing day, hold? I'm not sure, but I do know we need to get out of the house. Normally, I'd have Hayley do some research online to see what kind of indoor fun we can come up with in the area. Sheesh. I depend on these darned electronics so much!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Cruel Mother Diaries: Spring Break Day 2

So Day 1 was not actually horrible! The kids knew there would be no tv and no computer, so they didn't even complain.

I was going to write that they didn't even ask, but they did. Of course, they both desperately needed to get on the computer to:
  • turn on some music
  • print out coloring pages
  • make a special Easter present for Mom and Dad
  • check the weather
  • etc. etc. etc
Honestly, it was all a bit funny. I mean, I specified no monitor/screen time and in my mind that translated to no technology. I had to really think about some things and make some challenging decisions.

They want to listen to music through the Blu-Ray player. Does that count?

They wanted to use my Cricut cutting machine. It has a screen. I decided that was okay, though.

I guess the screen/monitor hiatus isn't really about things that have a screen/monitor, but pulling them away from the technology they think they can't live without -- the computer, the cell phones, the iPod, etc.

But here's the incredible beauty of the day... They actually got along!!!!!

I'm not saying it was perfect or anything. There was some bickering here and there, but the day was a solid 92% fight free!

They played several board games together, did crafts, made pancakes and practiced their instruments longer than normal. It was so pleasant!

Day 2 is now dawning (or at least it did an hour ago) and I'm thinking about possible activities. Maybe the pool with a couple of their friends?

As of yet, everyone else is asleep. I'm barely moving down here so that I don't make a single sound t0 wake them up. I want to enjoy the solitude while I can!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Cruel Mother Diaries: Spring Break Day 1

Mmmwwwhhhhahahahahahahahahahahah! The evil, evil mother has struck again!

And she may be fully regretting her wicked decisions by the end of the week. In fact, I can fairly guarantee that I'll be regretting my decisions by the end of the day.

My poor, desperate children are not allowed any monitor/screen time at all this week, Monday through Friday.

No tv. (Which means no TiVo -- how will they ever survive?)
No computer.
No cell phones.
No texting.

Ok, let me rephrase that earlier question... how will I ever survive? It's a matter of principal, though, and survive I must.

I am so tired of electronics ruling their lives. If they're not watching tv (which they don't get to at all during a normal school week), they want to be on the computer. If they're not on the computer, they want to be farming their crops or tending their fish on my iPhone.

I can hear the desperate cries now: But, Mom! My [virtual] fish will die in three days if I don't clean their tank! You're so mean! Don't you care about my [again, virtual] fish?

Tough fish food, kiddos.

My daughters need to use their imaginations again. And it's up to me to force the issue. When it's not raining (as it has been for about 20 hours straight now), they're going to be outside. For more than three minutes. Period. (Hayley and Emma are not outside kind of kids. Neither was I, so I totally get their reticence. Too bad, so sad. It's time to learn.)

I plan to give them snacks, water and a first aid kit, so unless they break a bone or crack a head open, outside they stay.

Alas, that rain. How many possibilities are there for inside adventures? Thousands!! And, horror! They'll have to think of them themselves without resorting to the computer for ideas!

Detox can be fun. Detox will be fun. Right? Right? Will this non-drinker be heading to the store for a bottle of wine at 5 pm? I'll let you know.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An email I desperately wish I could send

Dear Mrs. M. and Mrs. B.,

Thank you so very much for devastating my daughter. Again. Holding her while she sobs, wiping her tears away, looking at the pain in her sweet, blue eyes... Yeah, not exactly that way I like to start off an afternoon.

She has been looking forward to being the school talent show for TWO years. She actually tried out two years ago, playing Zip-a-dee-do-dah on her violin, but you told her that she needed to practice more and become a better player and try again next year. (Did I mention that she actually asked for extra lessons so she could play a special song that would impress you?)

Well that next year you decided that the talent show should be for fifth graders only. Wonder what changed your mind to make it an all-school show again. Too much backlash from angry parents frustrated with having to explain to their confused children why they weren't invited to try out?

So it's now been two years that she's been talking about being in the talent show. She's been practicing two beautiful classical songs that she's amazing at. (I'm not just saying that because I'm her mother, either.) She was so excited, picked out a beautiful dress to wear, couldn't wait to show you how much she'd improved.

We waited for an hour and forty-five minutes for her try-out time. Please remember that it was after a full day of school and just before a PE extravaganza. Yet she held it together, remained excited, couldn't wait.

Just how would you feel if you were told the very next day that you didn't make it into the talent show, not because you weren't good enough, but because you weren't unique enough??? How many kids were there playing the violin? Couldn't have been that many. And hey, if there were, couldn't you have just told these poor kids ahead of time that their talent is not unique enough so don't bother trying?

Just how do you think I should explain to my 9 year old that her talent is less valued because it is not "unique" enough? What values are you trying to teach these kids?

I refuse to attend your "unique" talent show and I refuse to let her try out again next year. Why on earth should we support your poor attempts at encouraging children to share something of themselves. It really is a very poor attempt.

Sincerely,
Kate D.

P.S. If you seriously have another kid who's "talent" is Guitar Hero in the talent show this year, you should be fired.

(And Mr. D. adds a vehement "Yeah!")


video

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Celebrating my salvation from work!

Wahoo!

Yesterday was the BIG day. The day I've been waiting for, for about four months now. The day that symbolizes the start of my writing career.

My last day at work!

I'm now a full-time writer!!

Well, I am if you consider it full-time in among all the other benefits of being a Domestic Goddess. And you know what I mean by benefits.

So after a crazy morning of waking up late, attending Hayley's Academic Awards ceremony on an empty stomach and making a bunch of phone calls, I went into the office.

I didn't take my lunch, hoping that there'd be a going-away lunch for me. That's what we usually do for people, but it's usually Scott that puts it on his credit card. And since the company still owes us $3000 in expenses from last January, we're not in a position to incur any further business costs. So I wasn't expecting anything. Hoping, but certainly not expecting.

Once I sat down, I IMed the the sole estrogen-dominated human still employed there to see if she'd ask Tom (owner of the original company) if he'd pay for a good-bye lunch.

He did. And we all sat around the conference table eating Thai and talking (for a brief time) about my foray into writerhood. Then the conversation moved into SciFi like it always does. I've learned to expect no less from a bunch of programmers.

I finished up a few final Support tickets (leaving the harder ones -- heehee), took down the artwork posted by my girls and said good-bye.

Kate has left the building!

It's not like I won't ever be back. I mean, my husband still works there, for goodness sake. Scott walked me out to my car and was so, so sad! I very nearly called the quitting-my-job thing off just so I could stay and make him smile. But that just wouldn't do.

Now, of course, this next week is Spring Break for the girls. Thus, I have absolutely no expectations about how much writing I'll actually get done. But I'm not going to worry about it. Not even a little.

'Cause I don't have to go back to the office come Monday morning!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Muddled brain

I've started this blog post about seven times. I've got some really good first sentences going, but then I stall. Can't think of a single thing to say.

It's been such an insane week that I can barely keep my eyes open. Let me fill you in...

Monday: Work in the office, Emma to Girl Scouts, Hayley comes down with a fever
Tuesday: Work at home, take care of Hayley, meet with the pastors about VBS
Wednesday: Work at home, early day for the kids, help Hayley on a very lengthy project on volcanoes, Hayley to art, Emma and I to volunteer at church for a couple hours; wake up in the middle night to find Emma watching tv
Thursday: Work at home, take Neighbor Gloria on errands, wait for almost two hours during Talent Show try-outs at school, sit through another hour and a half of a very loud district wide Physical Education Exposition

Writing it out, it doesn't sound so bad. Actually sounds kind of average. Maybe it's just been more brain intensive than usual.

Tomorrow is... dun dun DUN!.... my last day at work!!!!!!

Woohoo!

Uh huh!

Oh yeah!

No more Support!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can ya tell I'm a little excited?

I'll go into the office, perform my final few hours of Support, then head out to my new career of being a full-time writer!

I definitely have more to say about that. I'll leave those thoughts till tomorrow, though, when I'm awake enough to actually prove that my writing skills are decent. LOL

Bed, bed, bed, bed, bed, bed... (I read an article once about things that husbands/boyfriends did that drove their wives/girlfriends crazy. This one lady absolutely hated going to bed at the same time as her boyfriend because he always said, "Bed bed bed bed bed bed bed bed bed...." over and over and over again. Ever since I read that and laughed about it with Scott, we often repeat that mantra just for kicks. Bed bed bed bed bed bed bed bed. It takes so little to make us happy. LOL)

Till tomorrow, Delicious Readers! (And sorry in advance for any typos that I don't have the wherewithal to find and fix. Heeheehee!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Make a Difference Monday again!

You know, just because I call it Make a Difference Monday doesn't mean you're limited to making the difference on Monday only! Especially when for a good many of you Delicious Readers it's already Tuesday.

Here's what I want you to do today. (Ok, tomorrow.)

Go through the Starbucks drive-thru for your favorite drink. (My Starbucks favorite? Their perfect water. Not the bottled kind. The filtered tap kind. It's perfect.) Hand the teeny-bopper on the other side of the window an extra $5 bill. Tell her to put it towards the order of the person in the car behind you.

She'll look at you as if you're nuts. She'll ask, "Uh, rully?" (You must, must, must say that with a Valley Girl accent. LOL)

You're just going to say "yes and whatever's left over can go into your tip jar."

Then drive away. Don't even look back.

But imagine, just imagine, the fantastic smile you just put on that person's face! They might be having a super horrible, super awful, need to turn around and go back to bed kind of day.

And you just turned it around. Yes, you.

You made a difference. (And you got a cup of coffee out of the deal.)

The Delicious Feeling of Coming Home

I'm reading a book by Katie Fford called Second Thyme Around. It's about a not-quite-thirty something woman who has put her life back together after a devastating divorce from her wretched, two-timing husband.

Then he shows up in her tiny town as a chef of a restaurant to which she supplies "veg". (It's an English story and thus has fantastic vernacular.) Of course, sparks of all sorts fly.

The two of them have crazy, intense, passionate arguments and become unwittingly and most unwantedly combined in each other's lives.

The story is pretty good. I think I've read it before, but I can't remember fully. That says something about my thoughts on the book, doesn't it?

So as I'm blow drying my hair this morning and simultaneously reading, my mind wanders off the page and onto thoughts of my own NIP (Novel In Progress). And as I thought about it, I literally felt myself relaxing. I felt comfort and contentment. I felt "home".

Now if that delicious feeling of coming home doesn't tell you exactly what you should be doing with your life, I don't know what could. My characters, my plot, my setting... it's all ideal to me. It's what I want to read. It's what I want to feel. It's what I want to be doing.

Four days. Four days and that's exactly what I will be doing.

Writing. Full. Time.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Escape!

Okay, so it's only an escape to my bedroom, but I had to get away from my non-listening, constantly-arguing progeny.

If they don't listen, why should I bother talking? I like to think I'm helping them stay on task or prepare for upcoming events or, you know, develop into normal, congenial, productive members of society.
But maybe I'm just a big ol' nag.

I know, I know. Kids aren't supposed to listen. They're supposed to argue with everything you say. They're supposed to think they know more than you ever could.

That means they're intelligent, independent thinkers, right? Right?

Some day I will miss the days when I had to constantly remind Emma to practice for her talent show try-outs. Or insist that Hayley spend more than two minutes actually practicing the piano.

Usually thinking about how I'll miss these moments of parenting helps me find perspective. It gives me patience I might not otherwise find.

Examples?

Emma is constantly moving around the icons on my iPhone so I can never quickly find what I want. It could make me batty, but instead, I just let it go and deal.

Hayley loves, loves, loves to makes smoothies. But she hates, hates, hates to clean up the blender. Honestly, I hate cleaning it, too. I do it with a smile, though. It won't last forever.

Emma follows me around the house whenever she is home. I'm lucky to lock her out of the bathroom when I have to go. (And I'm not kidding about that.) Sometimes I just want to scream "PERSONAL SPACE!!!!", but I don't. I breathe deeply and remember she's going to be gone in 8 short years. Very short years.

Hayley rolls her eyes and stomps her feet and slams her door whenever she feels some injustice has been done against her. Which is most of the time. I find the amusement, though. The Teenage Drama Queen will be on her way to college and if she's anything like me, graduating, getting married and having babies in very short order.

I beseech you, Delicious Readers, to help me find perspective today as my upstairs
escape has become just another room to follow Mom to. (Yup, Emma's back.) I guess it is kinda funny. In a way.

Hayley at 2 1/2


Emma at 3 1/2

Okay, after thinking about it and looking at these two pictures of undeniably perfect children, I've rediscovered that elusive perspective yet again.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Curtains, airplanes and writers' groups

I find it amusing to combine activities from my week into a totally random blog post title. Hhhmmm... That actually gives me a writing activity idea... Combine all three items I choose for that random title into a short story, the trick being that I cannot write the story I just lived. LOL

Speaking of writing... I joined a Writer's Critique group this week. Yeah, I admit to being a little nervous beforehand, but it was such a blast. The four others in the group (one of which is my wonderful friend, Amanda) are enthusiastic and thoughtful and altogether fascinating.

The absolute best part, though, is that aside from Amanda, they're all complete strangers, with very few similarities to each other. And to me. And that means each of them give a completely different and often unexpected perspective.

Here I am, suggesting more detail about a purse (helps define the woman carrying it) while Frank, a Vietnam vet, mentions that he could care less about the purse. The conversation launched into a fabulous discussion about men and women and what keeps us reading. (Frank is writing military fiction, by the way, so not what keeps me writing! But he's got awesome stories to tell both in writing and in conversation.)

So that was Thursday. Tuesday I spent the whole entire day either in the airport (I had typed "waiting" in this set of parenthesis, but then I though, "Isn't that a given in an airport?") or hanging out with my awesome mom in Sacramento. We toured the Crocker Museum, ate a bacon brie burger on a gorgeous and relaxing patio, wandered around old Sac, ate two scoops of lemon custard and chocolate ice cream and perused through a mall.

What a blessed treat to spend the entire day together. When we visit each other's houses, there's kids and husbands and chores and distractions. It's just not the same. My dad isn't doing too well anymore and can't be left alone for too long. Mom had a neighbor, a friend and my brother come visit him throughout the day, so he was safe and cared for. And she (and I) had our peaceful day out. :)

I finally sat down today and continued to work on the curtains I'm making for the living room. I got a whole half an hour in! Wahoo! 30 free minutes simply because I "asked" Scott to make dinner. Heehee. Maybe I'll get back to it in the morning. Probably not, but I remain optimistic.

Let's see... can I make a guess for next week's three noun title? Done! Ecstatic! and Breathe...

Any guesses on what it all means?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Joke's on me for Make a Difference Monday

Optimism. That's my Make a Difference Monday goal for each of you.

Make a difference in your own lives by turning something negative, frustrating, annoying and/or headache-inducing into something positive -- a thought, a future, an activity, a plan...

But here's why the joke's on me today: it's been an incredibly challenging day so far and it's only 2:03pm. And chances are, it's only going to get worse.

Not so optimistic there, huh?

When Scott and I were at dinner with friends the other night, the conversation had turned to flying with small children and how insanely difficult it is. I don't think there's a parent in America that would disagree with that statement.

But instead of focusing on the challenges of taking off toddler shoes in Security or the endless laps up and down the plane corridor or the futility of keeping a kid from pounding and kicking on the seat in front of him... I tried to put a positive spin on the situation.

Yeah, it sucks. But at least we're not on a wagon for eight months going 14 miles a day. At least we're not spending three weeks on a smelly bus. At least we'll get there in (generally) less than a day!

See? That's the optimism I'm talking about. Looking at otherwise challenging situations and making them look not quite so bad.

Most of the time, I'm pretty good about doing this for myself. It's raining for the twenty-second straight day? The flowers will be incredible. Stuck in stand-still traffic? No one's going so fast that there could be a fatal accident.

You get the picture.

But now picture my day today...

8:15am: Should be awake, but I'm not. Until Emma comes in signing to me that she's too sick to go to school. Again.
9:15am: I try to print out my boarding pass for my flight down to Sacramento tmro, only to find that I booked the ticket wrong and my flight was actually last week.
9:20-1:20: Spend all this time trying to figure out how to get to Sac anyway. Thwarted, thwarted, thwarted. But finally got Scott to call and get it all straightened out. (What would I do without him?)
1:30: Trying to copy something onto a cd for my mom, but there was an error. Now my cd player won't even open to spit out the apparently bad disc.
1:40: Working. I hate Support. I can't even face it. Feel like crying. Or screaming. Or changing the world's calendars to read March 26th. That's my last day as Virtual Punching Bag for Clueless Software Users.

Normally I would have no problem feeding all this into my Optimism Optimizer. Just not feeling it today, though.

Which is why it's ironic that I had planned today to be Optimism Day for Make a Difference Monday.

Haha. (Can you feel my total lack of enthusiasm in there?)

I know all you Delicious Readers can be more successful at this than I am today. Go forth and Optimisticate the world!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Supah Supah Fun

Got home a few minutes ago from a super fun evening out with friends.

Adult friends.

Children not included.

My awesome and amazing Hayley babysat Emma and Dave and Amanda's two kids. THANK YOU, HAYLEY!

So we went to this new Thai place called Wild Tiger. The service wasn't anything to email home about, but the food? Oh, yum.

Let me say it again.

Oh, yum.

I had this fried rice dish with cashews, pineapple, raisins and chicken. Mmmm mmmm good. And get this! I was even brave enough to try the cream cheese wontons. Crab was mixed in with the cream cheese and since I detest crab, my fork wasn't first in line when the plate was delivered to the table.

But try them I did. And I couldn't even taste the crab and they were crunchy and soft and creamy and let me say it one more time... oh, yum.

Our favorite coffee shop is *finally* opened past 8pm, so after dinner, we hung out there till we closed the place down.

At 9pm.

We're so old.

So the four of chatted away for the better part of three hours and for the most part, we talked as a group. You know how the men in a group always talk guy talk and the girls only talk girl talk? A fun couple night out turns into a carpooling girls'/guys' night?

I'd say for 90% of the evening we all talked together... traveling, childbirth, hysterical kid stories, jobs, writing...

And when we finally unlocked the door and entered back into the reality show called Parenting, our children were all playing happily. Thank you, Jesus! (Don't forget to read that with Gospel zeal. LOL)

Now in my happy dreams jammies, curled up in my favorite blanket, I'm waiting for Scott to tuck The Youngest in so we can watch a movie.

It's so good to have my husband home again. I'm gonna miss him like crazy as he travels more and more, but since I'M NOT MOVING, it's just gonna be that way. But I'll enjoy him while he's here. *wink wink*

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wahooo!!!!! Great News!!!!

We are no longer homeowners!!!

Why is this news worthy of dancing and joyous dancing and a celebratory dinner out?

Because... drum roll, please.

dtdtdtdtdtdttdtdtdttdtdtdtdtdtdtdttdtdtdtdt

Our beautiful, 90 year old farmhouse has been on the market for two and a half years. (It was briefly off while we had renters residing there, but still.) And it is no longer!

It has officially closed, signed, sealed and mostly delivered!

I have to throw the "mostly delivered" in there since Scott's notarized documents are still sitting in a customs warehouse somewhere in Paris. Being that he's been in Berlin for the past week, he had to trek to two different American embassies to find a notary. Then his credit card was stripped of its dignity when it cost over 200 Euro to notarize the sale docs. Just in case you don't keep up on the conversation rates, that would be $275.15.

$275.15 for six stamps and six signatures.

It's horrible. A rip-off. An offense to needy travelers everywhere!

But it is just fine. Ya know why?

Because the title holders saw reason and closed the deal anyway!

And we don't own a house anymore!!!! $275.15 (plus a rather uncomfortable cashier's check -- amount not to be disclaimed) is a small sum to pay to be rid of the stress of owning a vacant house two thousand miles away!
  • No more several hundred dollar heating bills for a house no one even goes in
  • No more "legal" bills for waste services that aren't actually provided
  • No more sending out checks for mowing and snow shoveling
  • No more inconveniencing friends and neighbors to keep an eye on the house
  • No more yearly $3600, fully vested Vacant Dwelling Policy
  • No more being under water in a house we adored but will never live in again
Now you see why I'm so excited!!!!!!!!!!


Goodbye, Delicious House. We'll always miss you!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Make a Difference Monday! (Oops, it's Tuesday already, isn't it?)

Well, let's make it Make a Difference Tuesday! It's not as alliterative, I know, but we'll just have to be flexible.

Sooooo.... I only heard about one Delicious Difference after my Make a Difference Monday post last week. My amazing, fantastic, beautiful mother (Hi, Mom!) bought a box of Thin Mints in front of Safeway, then handed it right back to the girls to share among themselves. Mom said, "I've rarely seen delight as genuine!" (or something along those lines).

Go, Mom, Go!!!

My own difference today involves my 88 year old neighbor, Gloria. A delightful and completely deaf tiny lady, she's all alone and shut in despite having a daughter that lives just a few miles away. I make an effort to take her out, run errands for her, help her around the house when she needs it, etc.

I picked her up after work today and took her to the post office, then to the grocery store. Even though the store is less than half a mile away, it's too cold for her to ride her scooter, so she doesn't get groceries unless I take her. Fortunately, she's Mormon so she's got a nice stash of non-perishables stored in her garage. But the poor woman still needs milk and bread and lunch meat!

Gloria is always so grateful when I take the time to help her or even to simply talk to her for a few minutes. It's not always easy for me to do. I mean, the woman is lonely (and as I said, deaf) and therefore talks a blue streak at decibels that only dogs should hear.

But seeing the joy on her face when she sees me, the comfort she takes in knowing that we're two doors down if she needs anything... it fills my heart that I can make a difference in her life.

So who are you going to touch this week, Delicious Readers?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sore calves, three drinks and the Leaning Tower of Pisa


What a weekend!

Amy, my wonderful friend from the outskirts of Chicago, flew over to gallivant and chat and play. And, boy, did we ever!

We attempted a hike up to Starvation Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. Key word being "attempted". Half a mile of 50 degree switchbacks and we were dying for a more moderate path. After rock hopping across a stream,

balancing on some way too narrow paths and hiking up some non-quite-as-bad switchbacks, we rounded a curve and...

The super-steep trails started all over again. Ames and I looked at each other and said, "Uh uh. No way. Not happening." Waterfalls be damned.

This was the view from the trailhead. There were three other falls we'd planned on seeing. Joke's on us!

But while the waterfalls were nixed, adventures were not! We headed into Portland to visit Voodoo Donuts -- a Northwest icon. While the donuts were amazing and unique (maple bar topped with bacon strips) enough to warrant the visit, the place itself? Ummm.... think Haight-Ashbury in the sixties.

Not exactly my scene. But definitely hooting and hollering laugh worthy!

Saturday followed with lunch at Beaches, a visit to Ice Cream Renaissance for a Leaning Tower of Pisa (two cookies balancing on two scoops) and an enjoyable stroll through the northern section of downtown Vancouver. The only way the day could have been any better would be to finish it up with two glasses of wine, a super yummy dinner (Rachel Ray steak) and a Scrabble tourny.

Good thing we did that! We even tied at Scrabble. How coolio is that?

One of the things I'd most been looking forward to sharing with Amy was my church. The service, the pastors, the congregants... It's definitely another home to me and since Amy feels as strongly about her religion as I do mine, I couldn't wait to share it with her.

By Sunday afternoon, Ames and I were both so sore from our unfinished hike that we were moving slowly. It was the perfect time to throw together some chicken chili for dinner and sit down with some Ginger Snappish tea for another game of Scrabble.

The tea had turned into drinks by 4:15, though. I'd organized a get-together with a few of my local peeps and let's just say, fun was had!!!! That's all I can say. This is a family-oriented site, remember?
This is Amanda (of www.mandajuice.com), me and the Amesters!

And now Miss Amy is back at home, loving up her family. And I'm back to work (blah) and real life (good stuff). I miss her already.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My kids officially think I'm old! But maybe they're just too young!

I made them watch Fraggle Rock the other day. Remember Fraggle Rock? Cute little Muppet characters living beneath an old guy's workshop? They sang and had adventures and had the coolest, wisest sage ever portrayed on tv -- The Trash Heap.

Red had a pickle car which I thought was so dang cool when I was 9! I had a little plastic pickle car that Red was driving -- I'm guessing it was from a Happy Meal. I zoomed it all over the house.

The Fraggles had this awesome ability to share their sleepy dreams. All they had to do was touch heads before they fell asleep at night. What a fun thing to share! (Or, if you're talking about my random and often terrifying dreams, comforting.)

Fraggle Rock could not possibly be complete without the Doozers. They're these little 6 inch, bridge building dudes. The Fraggles, though, subsist on vegetables and these bridges. Losing all their handy work never seems to bother them -- job security, I guess. Gotta love the underlying message of optimism!

(Sorry this YouTube video isn't so hot. The higher quality video they had couldn't be embedded.)

Picture the mood in my living room as I turned on Fraggle Rock (available on Netflix for instant download, btw) for my family to watch during one of our very, very rare dinners in front of the tv.

I'm sitting in my glider, boogy-ing away, singing, hooting, lovin' every second of this show!

Scott watches intently. (He's seven years older than I am, so sadly missed out on the Fraggles. Poor him!) He's willing to give just about any tv show a chance, so he watched the entire thing before looking at me like I was slightly off my rocker (or glider as the case may be).

Hayley gets up and leaves half way through.

Emma watches, somewhat mystified. "This is kind of weird, Mom. You really liked this when you were a kid?"

Uh, yeah!!!! What's wrong with these people?

Fraggle's Rock!!! (Ahahahahahaha! I crack myself up!)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dinner: Delicious and Damned

On different days, of course.

Monday's pot roast was a surprising success. I don't even like pot roast, but I was inspired by Ree Drummond's (aka The Pioneer Woman) appearance on Good Morning, America last week. I looked up the recipe and decided to try it. What the heck. It was Scott safe, so even if I didn't like it, he most likely would.


Hayley declared, somewhere between her third and fourth helping, that she wanted this pot roast on her birthday. Emma (after scraping the rosemary sticks off her carrots) claimed they were the best she'd ever had in her entire life.

Yummy yum yum. Mmmm mmmm mmmm.

(For the recipe, go to http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe?id=9929955 or www.thepioneerwoman.com.)

And tonight's dinner, pork tenderloin and pan fried potatoes, well... I'm not exactly sure what to say.

I found a Rachel Ray recipe for pork tenderloin and I wondered at the cooking method -- 500 degrees for 18 min. Found a couple other recipes, though, with the same time frame so I decided to try it.

Let's just say it didn't work. 20 minutes. Still raw. 40 min. Not much progress. The photo below? An hour plus, just before I pulled it out of the oven.


Rubbed with garlic, salt, sage and olive oil, it smelled like heaven. And no, it's not your imagination. And no, I did not lose focus. Half of each little roast really is naked. Scott's stomach doesn't like anything clothed in garlic. (Dumb thing.)

Meanwhile... I lay paper thin slices of potato in my cast iron skillet and watched them turn crispy, crunchy deliciously brown before sliding them onto a plate. Scott was so excited to taste them... he just couldn't wait... Verdict? Good, but aftertaste is a little weird. True enough. It was. I think it was the vegetable oil I used.


They found a new home in the rubbish bin. *sigh*

So dinner, instead of a beautiful, flavorful pork roast, potatoes pan-fried to perfection and a vegetable I hadn't yet chosen, was...

pizza.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Angry. Angry. Angry.

I think I have a right to be angry. I think I have a right to be absolutely livid.

I finished our taxes last night. It's not good. It's bad, berry, berry bad.

And it's all because of our stupid, stupid company. I'm grateful to have had employment in this horrible economy. Don't get me wrong. But why did everything have to get screwed up?

For five months in 2008, we did not get paid. FIVE MONTHS. TWENTY PAYCHECKS (between Scott and I). It took more than a year to get that money, but we did indeed receive it. And believe you me, that was a happy, happy day in Delicious Land.

But here's the pisser, now that I've done the taxes. That money became income for 2009, even though it was earned in 2008. Now take a wild guess. What did that large sum of money do?

Yup. Put us right up into the next tax bracket.

And we get screwed again.

Not only did we have to pay a higher rate of tax, but we also did not get the full child credit. Normally it's $1000 per child. But because of our "higher income", we were only able to deduct a total of $320 for both kids together.

I should probably figure out exactly what our taxes would have been had we not received the large 2008 sum (and please understand there was no interest paid on that money). In an ideal world, I would expense the difference to the company. What's the point, though? That company, which sold all its assets and employees to the new company, has no money, so I wouldn't get paid back anyway.

Deep breathing. Deep breathing. Deep breathing. Deep breathing.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Make a Difference Monday!

Disclaimer: I'm borrowing this concept from KLOVE, the coolest Christian radio station out there. (www.klove.com) It's such a great idea that I wanted to extend the possibilities by sharing it with my Delicious Readers.

And sooo....

It's Make a Difference Monday! Every Monday, I'm going to encourage you to do something unexpected for someone else, for anyone else. You don't have to know the person. Or it could be the person you depend on most in the world. It doesn't matter. As long as you make the effort to make someone smile unexpectedly today.

I'm not talking a complicated or expensive random act of kindness here, but simply one that comes from your heart. Simply one that shares the joy of life with others.

Now I personally believe in God with my whole heart and I like to think that when I make a difference to someone, I'm extending God's love.

But even if your beliefs differ from mine, there's no reason why you can't spread a smile.

Not sure what to do or where to start? Here are some ideas just off the top of my head...

  • Mow your neighbor's front lawn while they're at work.
  • Leave a small potted plant on your co-workers' desks.
  • Pick up lunch for a homeless person you drive by every day.
  • Take an elderly friend out of the house for a couple hours.
  • Take dinner to a busy friend.
  • Compliment a stranger's hair or eyes or outfit.
  • Have warm cookies and cold milk ready for a snack when your grade-schooler gets home from school.
  • Surprise your teen by downloading a couple news songs to their mp3 player.
  • Ask someone for advice (even if you don't really need it).
  • Buy a box of Girl Scout cookies, then give it back to the girls to munch on while they're selling.
I'd love to hear other ideas you come up with and even more, I'd love to hear about the smiles you receive when you make someone's day.

Wanna know what I'm thinking about doing? I've got the carpet cleaners coming any second to revive my disgustingly filthy carpets. I'm going to make them lunch -- roast beef sandwiches, chips, a Coke and some Girl Scout cookies. How cool will that be? Maybe I'll even take a photo. That might be a little weird, though, so I don't know.

Now go forth, Delicious Readers!