Monday, June 29, 2009

Vegas Night...and Day

The neighborhood kids are in my kitchen again. They've been invading my home for days now. Why? Because they are playing poker at my kitchen table.

This winter, Jim, I and the twins played poker on Saturday nights after dinner. Just for an hour or so. It was fun. We laughed. And it was a nice way to spend the cold nights. Since I play once a month (September through May) with some good friends, it's also a way to share one of my favorite things while practicing.

Little did I know that my kids would be spreading the gambling bug throughout the Waterbury subdivision in little ole Roselle.

They're playing for chips. And I have to question their poker savvy when someone says they have "all clovers." Or when they were playing with 51 cards. Or when all blacks were wild.

But they're having fun. I know where they are. Plus, I get to watch the social interactions of the elementary and high school crowds.

There's been fighting. Storming out in anger. Apologies. Whining. Laughing. Teasing. It's fun to see!

Yesterday one little boy stormed out in anger only to return about twenty minutes full of apologies and tattling on the little boy who made him mad. I think he wanted me to do something about it. Maybe talk to the other boy. Maybe assure him that he was right to be mad.

Instead I stared at him in stunned silence. My usual, "stop your whining," "get over it" and "stop your tattling" didn't seem appropriate with a kid who's not mine. Asking if there was any blood involved or a bone sticking out seemed pretty harsh for this only child who must have more caring parents at home. I just smiled and murmured something that I hope came across as reassuring.

Later, I heard the same boy whining to another boy outside. "But you said we could play together! Just you and me! Not you and me and ten other people!" The second boy rides off on his bike, yelling, "I said maybe!"

I think Boy #1 needs to learn to relax. Go with the flow.

After all, that's what we moms have to do, right? Things change from second to second and if we were to remain rigid, we'd snap in two eventually. So we save our real anxiety and angst for the important things--blood and compound fractures. We don't have the fully loaded emotional debit card ready to be depleted over smacks and insults.

Boy kids don't seem to hold grudges. (I can't speak for girl kids.) Yesterday's smacker is now the smacked; the smacked is now the smacker. All they care about at the beginning of the new day is who wants to ride bikes, skateboard, or, in the case of my suburban sons, play poker.

I think I need to stock up some snacks...

Happy Mothering,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's My Favorite Day of the Year!!

The day the new Stephanie Plum novel comes out! This year's Finger Lickin' Fifteen has some big shoes to fill, because the first fourteen novels were hoots. Check out the Janet Evanovich's website at for more information about all the novels.

I'll begin my yearly ritual today. Starting with One for the Money, I will re-read each of the books while waiting for the library to call when it's my turn for the new one. I am on a book-buying moratorium, but will make an exception for the new paperback of Fearless Fourteen.

These books make me laugh. Seriously, I will sit in bed reading, laughing out loud. Then I'll make Jim listen to a passage to share it with him.

I want to be Stephanie Plum. I want two yummy guys to drool over and make my hormones swirl (in a good way, not this perimenopause way that's really sucking!). I want a kooky gramma who fires her gun at dinner, hitting the chicken. I want a side kick like Lula who will pretty do almost anything I ask her.

OK, my best friend Kelly is my sidekick. But I can't see her covering the rear with her gun while I go to the front door to pick up a stray bailed out prisoner who's failed to appear. If I begged, she probably would do it. But chances are one of us would get shot. And it would hurt. A lot! Mostly Kelly and I critique shops and buy art supplies!

Janet Evanovich's magic isn't just seen in the Stephanie Plum novels. She also wrote some really fun romances at the beginning of her career. I just finished reading The Grand Finale and it was sweet and hilarious.

OK, just read all her books. She's my favorite author and can't be beat!

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Great Ice Cream Maker Hunt

When Jim and I got married, one of our wedding presents was this great ice cream maker. You froze the canister, popped into the machine, and it spun and churned until the liquid ingredients turned into yummy ice cream. We make chocolate chip ice cream. Peppermint ice cream.

Fast forward 11.5 years and we are left with only the canister. I can't find the machine part anywhere. I probably tossed it into a goodwill box and now someone is stuck with the machine and no canister to freeze.

The boys and I decided we wanted to make ice cream. I mean, it's so much fun! You mix ingredients, sometimes cooking them and waiting for them to cool. You add them to a machine and voila! moments later you have ice cream!

Aaron made ice cream in school with a zip lock bag and a coffee can. How homey! It's something June Cleaver would do. Any good mother whips up fresh ice cream for her brood if she really loves them!

And so the hunt began...

I did have rules for the new ice cream machine. I don't want to mess with rock salt. So that means I need something a little less rudimentary than a coffee can.

I find a nice Rival ice cream maker that fulfills all my needs. I even had a coupon for $10 off! It's the perfect machine.

I make a special trip to the market down the road. I pick up heavy cream and half and half. I only need a cup of each, but they only have quarts in stock. Of course, I will be making a lot of ice cream so more is better! We can have fresh ice cream all week long!

The canister sat in the freezer all afternoon, as instructed. I mixed the ingredients before dinner so that I could start the machine the minute we sat down for dinner. That way dessert would be ready when we were! I had it perfectly planned!

I can hear the machine churning as we eat. I am feeling so smug! Fresh made ice cream! With real ingredients! No high fructose corn syrup and fillers for my brood! Only the freshest full-fat cream will do!


Dinner's over, the dishes are done, and the ice cream maker continues to churn. Churn...churn...

I go to the computer and answer email, feed and groom my PetSociety pet. Churn...churn...

The machine stops! I am so excited. Fresh ice cream...yadda yadda yadda. If I had an apron I would wear it proudly at that moment!

We don't have ice cream. We have something not quite liquid, not quite frozen. More the consistency of a really runny Frosty. The ice cream making machine hasn't stopped because the ice cream is stopped because the machine overheated.

Obviously Rival can be rivaled when it comes to ice cream makers!

Telling the boys that we are having shakes, I toss in some Heath pieces and we all drink our ice cream. It's thawing rapidly and it's really sweet milk with Heath pieces in it by the time we're done.

I pack up the machine and return it. But I still insist I will buy another, better machine! I know one exists because we used to own one.

I get a coupon for Bed, Bath and Beyond. I research them on-line. I actually drive past the Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Then it hits me. Duh! [That's me slapping my forehead.] They make ice cream for you. They make it and sell it in cardboard containers, already frozen, in a million different flavors.

I can even get it made without high fructose corn syrup.

Frankly, this was one of my sillier ideas. I mean, if I really want to wear an apron, I'll wear it while dishing up store-made ice cream with my really cool ice cream scooper from Pampered Chef!

Happy Desserts!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Oops...Errata in the Bread Salad Recipe

I made a giant mistake in the bread salad, in case you were going to follow the recipe! I forgot the garlic! I did edit the post so any new readers will get the correct recipe.

Jim's dad used to make fun of me because I cook EVERYTHING with garlic and Italian seasoning. Tacos...add garlic and a dash of Italian seasoning.

I'm not Italian, but I certainly play one in my kitchen!

What kind of a cook are you? I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kind of cook. I read a recipe and then just do it myself. Why follow directions? I've made very few recipes that my family won't eat. One was a pasta with peas...that was a culinary disaster. And not just the peas. It was just bad.

I've tried following FoodNetwork star recipes. I have good luck with Paula Dean. Bad luck with Rachel Ray. Not only is she amazingly annoying, there's no way she's cooking these dishes in 30 minutes. I'm just saying...

This week I refuse to cook spaghetti. It's been a staple the past few weeks. It's cheap and Aaron eats it without whining. But I'm tired of it. Plus, it's too dark hot take eat spaghetti. Unless it's spaghetti pasta salad.

Tonight's dinner is pork roast in the crock pot. I just added garlic powder and Italian season (whoda guessed?!). I was going to make a roast with pineapple on it, but Jim nixed that. Since pineapple makes my entire mouth hurt, he thought it best to avoid it. So I'm going plain. I've never cooked a pork roast in the crock pot, but it seems to be doing fine. It smells incredibly good.

I'm also doing baked potatoes in the crock pot. Just wash, wrap in foil, poke and put in the crock pot on high for about four hours. Beats turning on the oven in this heat.

And more bread salad. I'm telling you, this one was a big hit with my family. Although Jeremy has claimed the Oriental Coleslaw as his all time favorite.

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Time's Going By Way too Fast!

Jermaine left this morning for the Nike Nationals in North Carolina. His coach is talking about the college scouts that will be there. He comes home from school with envelopes from colleges who are interested in him.

But he can't be ready for college! I've only had him for such a short time! At the end of this month we will have only been a family for 9 years! That's not enough time. We have so much more to do!

I'm proud of the man he has become. But I still remember the wide-eyed, scared little boys he and Jeremy were when we first met. We were all scared but we've formed one hell of a family. Adding Aaron a few years later completed us.

Most parents get 18 years before they send their kids into the scary big world. I'm going to have 11. I want those other 7! I need those other 7...

I'm not ready to lose my babies...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Let's Talk Food...Bread Salad

In my obsession to combine my current summer loves (cucumbers and tomatoes) I was on the hunt for a good Italian salad. Then Kelly suggested a Bread Salad and I searched for different recipes. This is what I came up with.
Bread Salad

Prepare several hours before eating. I made mine right after lunch for dinner.

2 hothouse cucumbers, peeled and sliced
4 medium tomatoes, cut into pieces
1/2 medium Vidalia onion, diced
1 bunch basil, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
splash balsamic vinegar
splash lemon juice
1 day old loaf Italian bread cut into cubes
Salt and fresh pepper to taste

Mix cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. Add basil, oil and vinegar. Toss. I used my hands for the initial tossing (after washing them, of course!). Add salt and pepper. Keep tossing periodically throughout afternoon.

Cut up bread after preparing salad and let sit. The more stale the bread, the better. Add to salad about an hour before eating.
This was a huge hit with the family. The only suggestions they had 1) smaller pieces of tomatoes and bread; 2) letting the bread sit longer in the salad. I had read on one recipe that the salad was even better the next day and it was. I was afraid the bread would be too soggy, but it was perfect. I'm guessing you could make this is the evening, bread and all, and have it for lunch the next day with no problem.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer TV

I love television. Really, I do.

But I hate kids' tv at the moment.

Aaron's started watching ICarly. Seems ok at first glance. No anime, no psuedo-moralistic meanderings by Japanese warrior characters, no Dora. Real people. Cute people who make funny jokes.

But they also argue. A lot. Over and over.

I don't know about you, but I get enough arguing over vacations between my own three kids without adding in television shows that have characters who are also arguing. Last week, between the boys bickering and ICarly characters bickering, I thought I would tear my hair out.

Yes, ManiacMom made a small appearance. I simply yelled ("yelling" being different from "screaming" in volume and octave), "Turn it off, I can't take it anymore!"

I also suggested to Aaron that he watch only Mom Approved Television (NCIS and any Law & Order program instantly approved) like Jimmy Neutron, Fairly OddParents, SpongeBob.

I can't believe I've been reduced to preferring SpongeBob to other programs.

And the bickering quotient has been greatly reduced since I have sent Jeremy off to train for track without competing. Maybe the coach was hearing some desperation in my voice when we spoke because it was his suggestion. I just might have to thank him for my sanity because listening to Jeremy and Aaron snipe at each other all afternoon was working my last nerve...

Happy Mothering!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's Official...

I am the head counselor at Camp Run Amok. At least that's how I'm thinking of myself, my home, and my family!

One week into summer vacation and we've all gotten some bad habits!

Last night, I stayed up until after 2am reading. (I had to finish Iris Johansen's "Deadlock"). Then I slept late. The other mornings I have just slept late because I could, not because I was tired.

The twins are staying up late--3 and 4 in the morning. They watch tv and play computer games. They sleep until noon, eat lunch and then either go to camp or run amok in the neighborhood.

Aaron hasn't read a single word or done one measly little math problem. He wore flannel pajama pants and didn't want to put on shoes when we ran to the Sonic today.

Yes, that was our big outing. Aaron and I went to Sonic for half-price drinks. Then we sat in the car there just yakking and enjoying the shade.

It's not that I don't have ideas. I thought about Cosley Zoo, but I can't go in the sun. I thought about going to an old cemetery to take pictures. No sun. I thought about going to Barnes & Noble and reading magazine. Aaron didn't want to wear shoes.

I came home, emailed my friend Janet, whining that I was bored and took a nap. After playing numerous games of Scramble on my ipod. How can a grown housewife be bored?! There's always something to clean. Laundry in the dryer that needs folding...

I did cook dinner and I wish Jim and the twins would get home quick. It smells good and I'm hungry. I've had a busy day, you know...

Friday, June 5, 2009


Tonight Aaron had a baseball game. I have no idea what was happening because I was busy talking to other moms and taking pictures of three adorable little blonde girls.

Main topic of conversation (and I've been having this conversation with many lately) was whether anyone has had a mojito. I still haven't met someone who has! If you have, please tell me how it is!

After the game (by the way, Aaron and the twins all won) we went to Wendy's for ice cream. I'm addicted to the coffee toffee twisted frosty sans coffee. Hey I couldn't have a mojito!

Then I stayed in the car when everyone else got out to enjoy it in peace. I seriously contemplated locking the doors so no one could get back in. I've had it up to my eye balls today with the bickering and fighting.

I'm still in the car. Just kidding, I've taken to my bed!

-- Post From My iPhone

Summer Vacation...Day 2

Is summer over yet? Because I'm already tired of it! The twins were done with school last Thursday and Aaron at noon on Wednesday.

Since Wednesday it's been nice. Sleeping in. I've been lunching and breakfasting. But being on mother-duty all day is exhausting!

Tuesday's garbage picking by the boys meant the makings of a new ramp. Yes, a ramp. To jump things--like scooters and bikes and skateboards--over. A ramp...

I spent a lot of time Tuesday and Wednesday saying, "This is a really bad idea" and "I don't think this is such a good idea." All three of my boys and the neighborhood kids involved just smiled at me and went about securing it.

I'm thinking they need cement girders to ensure that a 300 pound kids can get over it. But what do I know. I'm just the mom...

Since becoming BuddhaMom, I am doing my best not to squelch creativity. I'm

I was also prepared. I had the phone nearby in case I needed 911. My car keys were at the ready in case I had to cart a broken-boned kid to the ER. Luckily, none of that was necessary.

What happened? I'm not even sure if the ramp was the reason, but Aaron fell off his bike and was screaming because he hurt himself. Screaming. Yelling. Wailing. Then when I try to look at it, he screams not to touch it.

At this point, BuddhaMom disappears and ManiacMom emerges. "Is there a bone poking out? Is blood spurting from the wound? No? Then stop your crying and let me put a bandaid on it."

Sometimes I really really like ManiacMom...