Friday, July 31, 2009

Leaving On A Jet AeroPlane

Or, more accurately, a silver Ford Focus. It's not classy or stylish or the least bit cool, BUT it's paid for.

Tomorrow we're heading out to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Or, as I like to call it, my homeland.
My utopia. My happy place.

Yes, my friends

I hope the air smells like chocolate.
Yes, I pulled out the crayons and made myself some cheesy art, but it's actually quite appropriate because a visit to the Crayola Factory is also on the vacation agenda.
I'm stoked about that, too. I've had a love for crayons, sharp, CRAYOLA (no cheapy RoseArt for me) crayons my whole life. My dad bought Caroline a super set (128 ct?) and I think I was as excited as she was. Coloring is the one kid activity that I never turn down. I don't like playing Chutes and Ladders, I suck at video games and I'm not crazy about tea parties and creative play, but I love to color. Sesame Street coloring books are my favorite because the pictures are bold and large. As a kid I hated Barbie coloring books because the pictures were small and intricate. I like a big space to color in.
I remember watching an episode of Mr. Rogers many years ago that included a clip about how crayons were made. I was as fascinated then as I am now. I also remember them showing how graham crackers were made. Maybe I was meant to work in a factory?
Aw, I miss Mr. Rogers. I have to admit that I went through a phase where I thought he was totally lame. My mom once sent him fan mail and he sent an autographed picture back. I think she put it on the refrigerator and let me tell you, to a twelve year old girl, nothing could have been more embarrassing.
As I grew and learned to appreciate the love Mr. Rogers showed his audience, I retracted any rude statements or eye rolls I ever gave in his direction. What an awesome man.
The other day I was hanging up clothes in the closet and felt inclined to sing "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood..."
We're leaving tomorrow after I make a quick trip to the gym for my Saturday morning beating. I had a disappointing run this morning and would like to make up for it by sweating buckets and begging for mercy at 8 am on a Saturday morning.
We're meeting up with my parents, who will be flying in from Florida, as well as the best aunt EVER, who will be coming from California.
The six of us will be sharing a two bedroom condo/time share type place.
I anticipate that we'll have loads of fun. We'll be in HERSHEY, for crying out loud.
Bad times aren't aloud when chocolate is the main event.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Well, Here Goes Nothing

I've been thinking about something all day. I even found myself wanting to write about it a few times, but kept telling myself that it wasn't a good idea. It still probably isn't a good idea, but, I don't know. I don't have a point to any of this. I don't have an ending. I'm not looking for sympathy or any comments really. In fact, I sort of hate sympathy. Being on the receiving end, that is. I'm just at a place where the shell of my life looks fine, but inside I'm tied in knots. I've never been capable of successfully and eloquently expressing myself, so I sense that I'm going to write a bunch of poorly punctuated run on sentences. You know, like every other blog post I publish. I like consistency. Consistency is the one thing I can manage successfully.

The thing is, I'm such a mess. This isn't news to anyone, I'm sure. However, anyone who reads this might be tempted to approach my mother on the street and say, "Nancy, you've got to get this girl some help. I know a guy, I'll give you his card. " Heck, someone might pull Craig aside and offer him a prescription of Prozac to slip in my green smoothies. I'm not in need of a visit to the shrink, I promise you. I'm just sort of, um, bogged down by some inner demons. And completely incapable of finding anything good in me. To me, this isn't a problem requiring psychoanalysis and happy drugs.
I'm convinced that it's a congenital flaw. I got the big nose, freckles and poor self esteem in the gene pool lottery.

I don't understand how a healthy child born to parents who were married before she was born and have been married ever since could wind up with such horrible self esteem. I wasn't beaten. I wasn't neglected or abused. I was loved and brought to church every Sunday for all of my childhood. Nothing in my history would suggest that low self esteem and self worth would even be a consideration. We were a "normal" family. I put normal in quotes because we Kennedy's are hardly "normal" but when talking about socioeconomics etc, we were indeed normal. Two kids, two cars, a few stray pets. Hardworking dad. Long suffering wife. Ha! Just kidding, mom.

What kind of person could dislike herself so much, when she really has it pretty good. I'm healthy, strong and smart. My common sense level varies from day to day, but overall I have a good head on my shoulders. I have a relatively successful marriage (we haven't killed each other yet...successful, no?) (That was a joke, by the way. I'm like Chandler Bing, I make inappropriate jokes) and a healthy, thriving and happy child. We're not in debt, we don't live paycheck to paycheck, I have the wonderful opportunity to stay home and do the housewifey things that I love so much and I have lively green walls. Most importantly, I have a God who loves me.

What more could a person want?

Every now and then I inventory my life and see that all the important boxes are check marked. I don't lack anything. And yet, just yesterday I bent down to get a towel from under the sink to wipe up some sort of spill and a swell of sadness wafted over me. It was if I was thinking, "so, THIS is my life."
But this is the life I want. I feel stupid and selfish for complaining when so many people are truly suffering and I "have it all."

I do have it all.
How can someone so physically strong be so weak, self loathing and immobilized by fear?

I'm sure my mom would be the first to point out that perhaps it's a lack of God in my life, but God is still there and I've felt like this my entire life. Even when I actually went to church and read my Bible. It's not HIM, it's ME.

All ME.

Because, it is, after all, all about ME.

For as long as I can remember, I've, on occasion, pretended to be someone else. NOT like Sybil; I'm not talking mulitple personalities here. I don't hear voices, I promise you. I'm talking about good old fashioned imagination; an escape from the monotony of my life. I don't imagine myself in a different setting, but that I'm an entirely different person. Someone with flawless skin and hair that styles perfectly and effortlessly every day. Someone confident and capable, who didn't drop out of college. Someone without stretch marks and not addicted to Diet Pepsi. Someone warm and fuzzy, not cool and reserved like me.

Basically, my polar opposite.

It's fun to imagine; it's an escape and makes my life seem a tad more interesting.
But it's still empty.
Because it's not true.
In the end, I'm still me. Boring and neurotic. Quick tempered and judgemental. Afraid and closed up. And never believing that I do anything right.

Now that I typed that ,I must assure you that I'm really not crazy. I think I just have too much time on my hands.

Even though I know deep down that I have done many things right, I still question every one of them. I haven't a confident bone in my body. Like I missed the day where they handed out the manual for living a normal life and have been trying to wing it for the past 32 years.
I second guess every decision I make and get mad at myself for every little mistake I make. Like when I wash the floor and I still can't get all the spots up. Everyone else can, why can't I? Floor washing, especially with a Swiffer Wet Jet, is pretty elementary. Yet, I end up with smudges and spots and declare myself a floor washing failure.

God, that sounds so dumb. It IS dumb, I know.
See, I told you this doesn't make any sense.

The second guessing and self loathing goes much deeper, I promise.
You just don't want to hear about it.

I don't know.
I don't think there is a self help book in all of the world that will rid me of this.
I don't want to be unhappy. And on many days I'm not.
Like I said, I have it pretty good.

Maybe I need a friend. I wouldn't share any of this with them, however. It's far easier to type this and make it accessible to the internet at large then to confess any of this to an actual person.
I prefer much shallower topics of conversation with friends: reality tv, food, shopping.

Eh, maybe I'm just having a bad day. Or week.

I can't undo what I've done. There isn't an eraser big enough to remove all the mistakes I've made.

It's hard to look at myself in the mirror and know that this is who I am supposed to be. This is the messed up person God created and I'm stuck with it.
I know there are plenty of things I can change, but it's hard to pull myself from the wreckage I've spent my whole life accumulating. It's heavy and haunting.

And in the end, I'm still me. I guess that's OK. God saw fit to create me , so either He's having a good laugh right now or He's preparing me for something more worthwhile.

I really hesitate writing this and actually hitting the publish button. Mostly because if I do, my parents will read this and freak out. But the truth is, none of this is new. I normally put a different spin on things, poking fun at myself and my neurotic, self loathing tendencies instead of writing about them in a more serious fashion. I use self deprecating humor as a defense mechanism. I'd hate for people to think that I find myself completely acceptable. If they thought that, they'd think I was delusional.

Some people have naturally high self esteem; sometimes it's completely warranted. I admire those that talk a big talk and prove it through actions. I envy it too.
And then there are those that talk a lot of smack and don't follow through. That makes me wonder. Perhaps they've been force fed all that PC "yay for you" stuff that the parenting magazines and school systems have been preaching for so many years.

"Yay, you walked across the room without falling down, here's a sticker."

While perhaps I would have benefited from at least a smidgen of that curriculum, I'm glad I'm realistic. I certainly don't want to have low self esteem AND be delusional. I have my work cut out for me as it is.

So, mom and dad, don't worry. I'm just having a bad day. Or week. Or something.

In conclusion, I'm still a big mess. I didn't solve a single thing, but I feel a little better.

So thanks for listening.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Welcome To My World

So the weather was forcasted to be ugly today. Overcast, wet, stormy, rainy. Clearly, not desirable summertime weather.

It's raining lightly now, but for most of the day it was just overcast.
Since overcast skies are not ideal for a trip to the pool we stayed home. Earlier there were six kids here playing Mario Party on the DS and then they moved downstairs to play Mario Kart on the Wii.

Two of the rugrats went home, leaving the remaining four to destroy my house. Evidently they constructed houses for their Webkinz. I overheard someone say something about getting a litter box for her Webkinz, but I didn't investigate any further. Sometimes I'd really rather just pretend they're not up there demolishing all of our earthly possessions.

Guilty person #1

Guilty persons #2, #3 and #4.

I kept their faces hidden to protect the innocent.

Oh, who am I kidding, they're not innocent. They're all hoodlums. Especially the girl in the middle. The one with her number sticker from the gym daycare still affixed to her back.
She's the worst of them all!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I Was Right, the Apple Really Does Not Fall Far From the Tree

Yesterday I claimed that Caroline's attraction to cups, mainly cups belonging to other people, was clearly inherited from her father, the undisputed King of Multiple Cups.
Well, the apple tree must be a duplex, because that poor child of mine has inherited some of my special, um, quirks. She doesn't look like me. She's an extrovert; I'm an extreme introvert. She's tall and lanky; and I'm, um, not. We're exact opposites on so many levels, but that kid of mine has inherited some of the crazy from me. Thankfully not a whole lot of crazy, but just enough to make me feel responsible.

Like her mother, Caroline is a quite the stickler for rules.
She gets so bunched up when the rules are broken. We're talking full on freak out when the kids at her lunch table get rowdy. Poor thing. Of all the traits to inherit from me, this is what she gets. I suppose she should be thankful she didn't get my prominent nose as well.

Now, I realize that this isn't a terrible thing. I'm glad she finds abiding by preset rules extremely important. However, when I find my uptight and rule abiding self telling Caroline to lighten up, you just have to wonder.

Today we went back to Pirate's Cove. Last week at the field trip, all of the first and second graders (excluding those on a swim team) were given a red bracelet. The red bracelet signified that they could only stay in the shallowest portion of the pool. No deep end swimming or diving board privileges. Caroline is a decent swimmer, but not on a swim team. She was clearly miffed and slightly embarrassed by the red bracelet. I promised her that I'd take her back another day so she could swim in the deeper water.

And today was that day.

I had planned on packing a frugal and healthful lunch and heading to the water park after the gym. However, Craig brought both of our coolers with him to Florida, so instead of packing a lunch, we went to McDonald's. It's the thought that counts, right? I just couldn't be bothered with finding an alternative lunch holder; I'm allowing my brain to go on vacation a few days early.

After we fueled up, I got a refill on my large diet Coke and off we went.

We arrived at Pirate's Cove, paid our admission fee and went to find a chair.
Pirate's Cove has a designated eating area with picnic tables, but they also allow food by the lounge chairs that are placed along the perimeter of the pool. There is a black line painted on the concrete and food and drinks are not to be consumed in front of the line.
Well, as I was holding the bulky eighty pound pool bag and my large diet Coke, I accidentally crossed over the black line, bringing my drink with me. Let me tell you, that just ate Caroline up.
"Mom, no food over the black line."
"Mom, your drink is over the black line."


That's when I, the original uptight ruler follower, amused by the irony, told my little spawn to lighten up.

Again, I'm glad she's not a hoodlum.
I'm glad that she's never a behavior problem. I'm glad she respects the rules.

I'm just relieved she still sits in the back seat and doesn't have a clear view of my speedometer.
As it is, she's already a nagging back seat driver.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Moms

Prior to welcoming Caroline into the world, I prepared myself for the joys and worries that awaited us. Becoming wise to the task at hand. I don't live in a dream world; I knew that parenthood presents many challenges. I'm not one to toot my own horn, but, yep, I was right to be prepared for the inevitable trials.
I guess one of the things that caught me off guard was the fact that some pretty strange things have come out of my mouth in every day conversation. Things I never thought I'd say. Things that seemed perfectly sensible at the time, but upon further analysis sounded kind of bizarre.

As I sit here writing this, presumably enticing you with some of the humorous statements that have graced my lips, I'm drawing a complete blank. I really wish I could name some things, but I, well, doh!
Just know that I'm not kidding, moms say some pretty strange things.

"Get a tissue instead of wiping your nose on the curtains, please."

"Why, at the age of four, are you licking the shopping cart handle?"

"Please take your hand out of that man's cup; if you want some ice, just ask mom."

"Don't swipe straws from people's drink cups."

"Don't take a drink from a random cup you found on the shelf at Old Navy."

What's with Caroline's cup fascination? It must be true that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree because her father is king of cups. Multiple cups. And bottles. Which, by the way, DRIVES ME INSANE. I'm not kidding, he usually has two cups by the bed and several scattered between the computer desk, the kitchen counter and this little microwave stand turned vitamin basket holder. Cups everywhere. He's one thirsty dude. Or blind and unable to locate the dishwasher. The jury is still out on that one.

I'm a cup vulture; I spy an empty cup or one that has been stagnant for too long and swoop it up. It's placed in the dishwasher and the house is once again restored to my desired clutter free state (excluding the ever present Lego explosion in the living room). Incidentally, my swooping bugs Craig as much as his multiple cup collection bugs me.

Now, where was I?

Oh yes, the strange things moms say.

A little earlier I was outside, putting the garbage and recycling out, watering the plants and pulling some weeds. Caroline and her friends had been playing with a sprinkler at another kid's house, but moved over to our house and hijacked my hose. Eh, no biggie, I was done.
I laid out some rules: don't spray me, don't spray the cars that drive by, keep the hose out of the street, don't spray anyone who doesn't want to be sprayed and turn the water off when you're done.

I turned around to do something and overheard one of the kids daring another one to put the hose in his shorts. This prompted me to yell, "no hoses in your pants, please."

Oh dear. I really never thought I'd have to say that.
I hope the neighbors didn't hear me.

Because I Always Make Good On My Promises

And because Caroline will make sure of it, especially when the promises concern her and the acquisition of more goods.

We bought Caroline a highly asked for and muchly coveted Nintendo DS for Christmas. As I suspected, she played with it for fifteen minutes, stashed it away, and then asked to go outside. I wasn't surprised by her behavior because that's pretty customary with her.
She's a people person. An extrovert to the core.
Things just aren't any fun unless you've got someone to use them with.

That's her major case for having a sibling. My rebuttal, of course, is that her potential little brother or sister will take everything from her and drool on it or flush it down the toilet. Not nearly as much fun as she imagines.
But that's not really the point.

The DS stayed stashed away for quite awhile. It made it's return to the surface from it's resting place in the depths of a dresser drawer a few times, but not for long.
However, quite recently the whole neighborhood gang, equipped with DS' of their own started their own little DS gang. Yesterday there were 8 kids, all with their own DS, playing in my basement. It was hot out, so I didn't mind too much. Normally I'd prefer that they get outside and play, but they weren't throwing things or breaking anything and they didn't ask for a snack, so I happily hid upstairs and let them play until their hearts were content.

Caroline has two DS games, but she really only plays with one, entitled Cooking Mama.
All the kids sync their devices together and play other games, but she's getting a little bored with what she has when she's playing alone. And, as you know, we can't have a bored Caroline.

The other kids have copious amounts of games. They each also have a whole menagerie of Webkinz. I try to keep toys to a minimum because in all honesty Caroline doesn't play with them. She has grown to adore the Webkinz, but I'm trying to convince her that she doesn't have to compete with the other kids and try to attain the same level of Webkinz ownership that they do.
It's a hard sell.

So a few weeks ago I promised Caroline that we'd get her a new DS game before our trip to Hershey. You know, so hopefully she'll be totally engulfed in the game, so engulfed in fact, that instead of inquiring about our mileage status every 6.8 seconds she'll remain focused on Mario Party.
Eh, it's possible, but not highly probable.
Other than the repetitive mileage check, we do have fun trying to locate as many different state license plates as possible. Our trip to Williamsburg provided quite a few license plate sightings, but the pacific northwest and upper midwest were sorely under represented. Perhaps some families from Oregon, Wyoming and North Dakota will make their way to Hershey, PA next week.

Gah, I'm wordy today.

As it so happens, today is the highly anticipated DS game purchase day. We're headed Target in just a few minutes.
And Caroline is excited.

And standing over my shoulder wondering when I'll stop typing.
Guess that's my clue to get moving.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Confession Time

This is where I bare my soul, unloading my deepest, darkest innermost secrets to the internet.
Or, more precisely, this is where I confess my egregious child-feeding sins.

For the past three nights Caroline has eaten macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets for dinner.
There, I said it.

Typical kid food, yes.
Easy to prepare, yes.
Wholesome and balanced, weeeeelll, not really.

In all honesty, the macaroni and cheese started out as organic. My intentions were pure, I promise. I opened the box of Annie's mac and cheese, added the pasta to the boiling water and then discovered that the powdered cheese sauce was as hard as a rock. With the expiration date looming, and being the neurotic expiration date nazi that I am, I chucked the packet (when in doubt, throw it out) and grabbed a cheese packet from another box. You know, the "blue" box kind.
At least the noodles were organic. Can't say the same for the powdery unnatural orangey cheese-like packet product.

And, she did have steamed broccoli as a side dish.
Broccoli is good.

Except I ran out of broccoli tonight, which led me to search the pantry and open a can of corn.
Easy, yes.
Tasty, yes.
Nutrient dense, eh, not so much.

Looking at her plate with the neon orange mac and cheese, processed chicken-like nugget product and the corn made me feel like a bad mom. A lazy mom, uninterested in concocting a dinner that required a whole lot of thought. A mom serving her child a sad monochromatic meal.
The ketchup added a nice splash of color, I must add. Yep, a high fructose corn syrup laden color splash.

I used to buy organic ketchup to help eliminate some of the guilt of feeding my kid food that requires ketchup as a dipping sauce. That is, however, until Craig declared that the organic stuff was inferior to his beloved Heinz.
You know, I've known this guy for almost fourteen years. I know how he likes his hamburger and Subway sub and his favorite ice cream at Baskin Robbins. And yet, he still remains a mystery in some respects. I've bought MANY bottles of ketchup throughout our marriage and very few of them were actually Heinz. I mostly buy Hunts because it is generally cheaper, which as you may have guessed, guides many of my purchase making decisions.

Just recently we had a very important and deeply meaningful conversation regarding ketchup. As it turns out, Craig has preferred Heinz all this time, but never said anything. Nothing declaritive, anyway. He actually prefers packet ketchup, which I think is nasty. Too tinny. This wasn't some sort of explosive confession; Craig hasn't passive-aggressively harbored any hatred towards Hunts, or me for that matter, all these years. And he never gave me the stink eye when I plopped the bottle of Hunts on the table because, quite obviously, the brand of ketchup in our refrigerator hardly warrants bad behavior and hissy fits.

We had a civil discourse.
But afterwards I vowed, as an act of wifely kindness, to always buy Heinz, because I'd hate to deny him his truest ketchup love. He's already denied so much, as it is. Besides, what's a few more cents added to our already astronomical grocery bill going to do?

You know, Heinz actually offers an organic variety. I may have to slowly wean him off the HFCS laden stuff and get him hooked on the evaporated cane syrup kind instead.

I can do the old switcheroo buy refilling the old Heinz bottle with the organic stuff. Just like our moms did when they refilled the name brand Honey Nut Cheerios box with the generic "honey nut oaties."

Nah, he'd figure it out.
And I'm not that sneaky.

Lady Gaga would not be proud, because you definitely can read my poker face.

Drawing A Big Fat Blank

I really have nothing of interest to blog about. Not that anything I usually write is interesting, but just work with me.
It's been a pretty uneventful few days. Well, not uneventful, but not interesting and most certainly not blogworthy.
Every time I write the word "blogworthy" I think of the "spongeworthy" episode of Seinfeld.

You know, every time I start a post like this, claiming the well of interesting blog topics has dried up, I end up blathering on for several paragraphs. Only I can turn nothing into a wordy load of drivel. It must be a gift.

Anyhoo, as you can tell by the fact that I'm posting something new, Craig and I survived our chaperoning adventure. It really wasn't that bad. I figured that with the lack of chaperones, we'd each get our own group of kids, but, to my surprise they gave us only five kids total, Caroline included. Four of the kids were wonderfully behaved, but we also managed to be stuck with the up and coming poster child for ADD. And no, I'm not kidding, or exaggerating even a little bit. This kid was completely incapable of staying still, remaining with the group or following the simplest of commands. It's a really good thing that Caroline is well behaved because my patience level for uncooperative children is ultra low. I didn't go ape crazy on the kid, but I was glad when we made it back to the school. The camp counselors and life guards really earned their money that day.
As luck would have it, we also were grouped with the clingiest little girl I've ever met. Here's a little factoid about me: I don't do clingy. I don't like to hold hands and I don't like kids hanging all over me. Especially kids that aren't mine.
However, on the flip side, I love babies and don't mind holding them at all.
At first this little girl, Emily, leeched onto me immediately. She sat as close to me as possible, held my hand and wouldn't go anywhere without me. Thankfully that only lasted until we got to the water park and she met up with a friend of hers. Instant relief. I admit, she was sweet, but I need a little space.

Craig drove his merry way down to Florida yesterday to visit with his mom. Here's another factoid about me: I don't do long car trips unless Uncle Sam makes us. However, no offense to Caroline, but if she weren't around, I'd jump at the idea of a road trip. There is something about traveling with a kid that makes the idea of being cooped up in the car for 13 hours seem less than desirable.
While I admit that her temperament in the car has gotten better over the years, she's not a big fan of car travel and isn't afraid to let us know. She's also a number monster and has to know exactly how many miles we've traveled and how many miles are left every 3 minutes. Admittedly, it's a good brain workout, but a little tiring after the first hour or so.

Two years ago we traveled from Georgia to Arkansas to see Craig's Grandma. We then drove south to Texas to visit my friend and then drove from Texas back to Georgia.
That was one long road trip. We survived, but that's something I wouldn't volunteer to do again.

Maybe when the kid is older.
Or out of the house.

It we weren't going on vacation with my parents next week, I might have felt led to bind up Caroline, secure a big wad of duct tape for her mouth and hop in the car with Craig. But, well, that would mean three trips in as many weeks. More than Caroline and I are willing to handle.

So, instead, we're at the homestead. Doing what we always do.
Play, snacks, pool.
It's good to be a kid, huh? Especially a kid with a mom at her beck and call.

Although, she was a little miffed that I wouldn't let her sleep with me last night. She has gotten into the habit of falling asleep in our bed. When Craig gets home from work, he carries her into her bed. This isn't a huge deal, but she's 51 inches tall, just a little over a foot shorter than me. I cannot easily pick her up anymore. It's awkward and I usually end up hitting her head on the door frame. Not wanting to give her a concussion, I told her "no way Jose." So she said, "you don't have to pick me up, I can sleep with you the whole night." Oh, no.
Here's another factoid about me: I LOVE sleeping alone. I sleep so much better. The Army has kept Craig home for quite some time, so I haven't had an opportunity to sleep alone in a long while. There's no way I'm letting a squirmy kid ruin my sleep bliss.

She pouted for a little bit, but I don't bend. Sure I'll chaperone her field trip, bring her friends to the pool with us and feed snacks to the entire neighborhood, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

This morning I'm using my position as the adult, you know the one in charge who isn't seven, to drag bring Caroline to the gym with me. It's only for an hour, but a MUCH needed hour. The way I see it, I'm doing her a favor. I could have brought her with me yesterday at 8am. Today's class is at 10am.

See how nice I am.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fueled By Guilt

Fueled by guilt.
This has been my life long motto.

I eat too much and the guilt drives me to workout harder.
I say yes when I want to say no when asked to do things I'd rather not, because the guilt of not having a legitimate excuse persuades me.
I volunteer for all of Caroline's activities because I feel guilty for choosing to have an only child.
I feel like I should do the best I can and be the most involved because I've selfishly chosen to keep her sibling free.

It seems as if I'm ALWAYS feeling guilty about something, big or small, even when I shouldn't. Maybe I'm just happy being miserable? Nah, I'm not miserable. In fact, I've got it pretty good, which, you guessed it, makes me feel guilty. So many people struggle. Debt, unemployment, illness, infertility. And here I am, living a semi charmed life. Sure I'm neurotic and inflict worry upon myself, but I really have nothing of substance to complain about.

I'll never get over the guilt of choosing to have an only child. Now, as guilty and selfish as I feel, I certainly don't feel guilty or selfish enough to change that. Which, in turn, makes me feel even worse.
But this really isn't the point to my post.

What sparked the guilty talk is fact that Craig and I are going to be chaperones on Caroline's camp's trip to the local water park, Pirate's Cove (again with the pirates!), tomorrow. Perhaps I should shift my focus away from my guilt ridden existence and do something about the fact that I just wrote an incredibly awkward, choppy, run on sentence.
On Monday we learned of the impending trip. We also learned that they desperately needed chaperones to make the trip happen. No extra chaperones = no trip= 85 (!) unhappy kids.

We said no originally because Craig has to pick up a rental car tomorrow. He's driving to Florida EARLY Saturday morning and while his Civic has been nothing but faithful and reliable, it's old and I'd much prefer he took a rental. Besides, the Civic lacks cruise control, which is a much appreciated luxury whilst traveling up and down I-95.
So we said no, as we had a legitmate excuse.

That is until it was becoming quite apparent that the chaperone sign up list wasn't getting filled up as quickly as they had hoped. Craig toyed with the idea, but in the end chose not to. Until Caroline, who heard him say he *might do it* signed him up. I picked her up on Tuesday and she told me quite matter of factly that she signed Craig up to be a chaperone. As we were leaving, the counselors quickly handed me a volunteer consent form. Well, I guess the decision was made for Craig.
Of course, I felt bad that Craig was being forced into chaperoning, so I volunteered myself as well.

I could not fathom disappointing all those kids.
Even though there are a bazillion things I'd rather do than ride a hot school bus with a bunch of screaming kids and then try to keep track of them at a water park.
Somehow knowing that our lack of participation would cause the trip to be cancelled made my cold black heart turn all warm and fuzzy. I hate when that happens.

So, this evening I packed our field trip lunch that will sit on the hot bus for several hours. I get a shiver just thinking about it. The counselors specifically asked that the kids bring a non perishable lunch in a disposable bag as to not have to deal with lunch boxes. I can understand their thinking quite clearly, yet the germ freak in me cringes at the thought of our lunches roasting in the bus. However, I used my wits and had the good sense to freeze some juice boxes to use as ice packs to keep our pb&j sandwiches cool.

We'll have fun. Well, Caroline and the rest of the kids will. We have to get up extra early to pick up the rental car before camp starts, but it'll be worth it.

Speaking of parental guilt, Caroline has been hounding me for twenty minutes to come watch tv with her upstairs. I keep telling her I'll be right there.

I guess I should go join her before she turns into some horrid criminal who places the blame on me for not giving her a sibling and not watching enough episodes of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody with her.

Actually Mom.....

Caroline's favorite word is "actually."

"Actually mom, I'd like to have lunch now."

"Actually mom, I want to go ride my bike."

"Actually mom, I'm going to see if Rachel and Sarah are home."

"Actually mom, I'd rather use my other goggles."

It used to be that she started EVERY SENTENCE with "Did/Do you know?"

Do you know how annoying that got? That was a few years ago and she, quite thankfully, outgrew it.

So last night as we were watching "Wipe Out" upstairs in my bedroom, she very sleepily said to me "Actually mom, I don't want to go to pirate week camp."


My plan, my precious plan. Foiled. Nixed. Pfffftttt.
I guess I spoke to soon. Counted my chickens before they hatched. Forgot that Caroline has an even harder time making decisions than me.

Oh well.
I can't make her go; it's supposed to be fun.
At least she won't come home with scurvy.

I did remind her that she'd have to come to the gym with me Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because Craig will be away. She seemed fine with that.

Guess I better hit the library up for some books; it looks like we'll be spending lots of time at the pool next week.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Plan Is Working

She says as she grins mischievously and twists the sides of her handlebar mustache. Wait, I bought one of those Smooth Away thingies, leaving me virtually free of all unwanted hair. Ahem. Scratch the mustache twiddling image you now have in your head, if you will.

Now, what was I saying? Oh yes, my quest for total world domination complete silence has been achieved. With minimal effort and a few cash dollars, I might add. Caroline has been happily attending a day camp provided by the parks department this week. We originally signed up for just one week to break up the monotony this summer. You know, add a little excitement and variety to our usual summer day of whining, eating all my snacks and going to the pool. As luck wouldn't have it, the two girls Caroline plays with most frequently will be out of town NEXT week. If I only knew, I would have switched weeks; now she'll be without playmates next week. And, as you know, that is completely unacceptable to Ms. Social Butterfly. This afternoon I suggested we sign her up for another week and she happily agreed.
This is a big relief. Mostly because I enjoy the quiet, but also because nobody likes it when Caroline is bored. She makes sure of that. My helpful suggestions to clean her room or read a book are usually met with ugly looks which amuses me but makes Caroline a little testy.

So my problem is solved. For the low low price of $98 (TOTALLY worth it, by the way) Caroline will be enjoying another week at camp. This week is all about travel; next week is a pirate theme. Aaaargh!

In other news, I had a baking disaster this evening. My chocolate chip pound cake was doomed from the start, so I'm not surprised it fell apart upon removal from the pan. Somedays things just don't work as well as you'd like. The streusel sunk beneath the surface and the outside got too brown. I was only trying to use up some extra buttermilk and in the process mutiltated a harmless loaf of pound cake. On the flip side, I made some outrageous butterscotch cashew bars that I'm pretty sure I'd marry if it were deemed socially acceptable to wed a baked good. I'm not kidding; they're THAT good. Sweet and salty with a caramel-ly shortbread crust.
I have some pretty strong feelings regarding nuts in baked goods, meaning, for the love of all that is holy and pure, please do not defile baked goods by putting nuts in brownies. Or cookies. Or banana bread. Contrary to my previous statement, these sweet bars, loaded with salty cashews are awesome. And totally not defiled by the presence of nuts. In fact, they probably wouldn't be any good without the cashews. I'm a big fan of the sweet/salty combo.

I'm some what annoyed with myself for my pound cake snafu, but on the bright side, I did make some successful butterscotch bars. I wanted to leave Craig's work peeps with a memorable dish because they won't be receiving any tasty treats for the next two weeks. Craig will be on leave for a few weeks, taking a trip to see his mom and then we're headed to Hershey, PA after that for some chocolate themed vacation fun.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to find some Hershey's Cinnamon baking chips when we're in Hershey. I love those things, especially in oatmeal cookies, but cannot find them anywhere around here. I bought them quite regularly when we lived in Arizona, but since then, I've had no luck.

And so this concludes my post of absolute random nonsense. Hey, at least it occupied me for half of the Obamacare press conference. I'm a self described political junkie, but I think I've heard all I can stomach for now.

Or maybe my stomach is churning because I ate so many bites of the butterscotch cashew bars as I cut them up.

Nah, it's the press conference.

If you must know, I just screamed at the television, uttered a few bad words and then hit the off button with some authority. I figured that would be better than throwing my shoes (ha, I just typed throwing up) at the tv.

Flip flops don't do much damage, but I'd hate for the neighbor girls to see me having a hissy fit.

I'm way too mature for that!

Monday, July 20, 2009


I'm happy to report that our trip to Williamsburg was quite enjoyable. Craig and I have a tendency to bicker while traveling; I'm pretty sure my parents think we fight all of the time because of it. Despite one small airing of grievances on the way up, the rest of the trip was bicker free. I think it must have something to do with being cooped up together in confined spaces.

Caroline, on the other hand, loves being stuck in a hotel room. Where else can you jump from bed to bed? I have pretty strict rules concerning the care and concern of our furniture at home, but hotels are a free-for-all. Jump and climb away, Caroline.

The first stop on our trip was to Water Country USA. We arrived just as the gates were opening and as the Star Spangled Banner was playing. I found that a wee bit puzzling, but I'm all for showing your country some love, so we went with it.

Here is Caroline, mad at the sun for being in her eyes.

That kid is going to be taller than me in no time.

The wave pool was hands down, Caroline's favorite. She went on a few water slides, but I think she could have stayed there all day.

We saw a show that mixed diving with tumbling and rhythmic gymnastics. At one point all four of those guys dove into the pool at the same time!

Lunch time! That is a picture of Caroline's $15 lunch. And yes, that's a big honkin cup of sweet tea; she's a southern girl at heart.

Waiting for the waves to start.

Ack! I was not interested in the waves after awhile, so I decided to take some self portraits.

The sun was bright there and I couldn't tell what I was doing.

Caroline looks like a bug in those goggles; she's super fly.

We went to Busch Gardens the second day. Let me just say, that we should have flip flopped the days. The weather at the water park was gorgeous. Warm, but not blazing hot, with very little humidity and some decent cloud cover. The weather at Busch Gardens was the EXACT OPPOSITE. Hot, humid, humid, humid. Melting humidity. Not awesome.
We rode several rides, many of which lead me to scream like a girl, and had fun. The storm clouds rolled in during the early afternoon and we took that as our cue to head back to the hotel.
That was smart thinking, because it poured not long after we left.

No trip is complete without the addition of another Webkinz to Caroline's growing collection. That is Tommy, the Boston Terrior.

Here we are withering away in the humidity, taking a gondola ride to go fetch some lunch.

A bald eagle.

The Budweiser Clydesdale! I couldn't get a shot of his face because he was busy. Poor horse!
They offered a movie about the Clydesdales, but it cost $20 per person. Uh, no thanks.

We spent our last day at Colonial Williamsburg. Earlier in the year Caroline and her classmates learned a lot about the colonial days and I thought she'd be more interested, but who am I kidding? She couldn't have cared less. Oh well.

The only smile of the day....until it was time to leave, that is.

While the colonial Virginians drank dirty water they fetched themselves from a well, it's nice that Colonial Williamsburg offers alternative, albeit non traditional, beverage choices for it's visitors.

And last but not least, my favorite picture. Caroline was not amused. She was bored, hot, hungry and the sun was in her eyes. It took all I had not to leave her stuck in there.

After leaving Colonial Williamsburg, we fetched some lunch and headed home. As luck would not have it, we encountered high traffic three different times. It took us three and a half hours to drive 140 miles.

Edited to Add: I hate that there is a mile of blank space after the text of this post ends. That seems to happen when pictures are included in a post and I'm not savvy enough to figure out why. For the record, I'm sorry. I realize it's there, I don't think I can do anything about it and for that I am truly annoyed. Pfffft!
Edited Again to Add: Thanks to my very smart and wise pal, Sissy, I fixed my wide gap of blankness. Thanks Sissy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lots To Say

But I'll say it tomorrow.

I'm buried under a pile of laundry right now, so I'll wait to tell you the exciting tales from our trip to Williamsburg tomorrow . Don't get your hopes up, it wasn't THAT exciting.
However, here is a tidbit of information for you: Williamsburg, VA is the Pancake and Waffle House Capital of the World. Well, I'm not sure if it officially holds that title, but judging by the number of Pancake and Waffle houses we encountered on our trip, one might feel inclined to think so. I'm not kidding, we saw no less than ten different restaurants within a five mile radius of each other.
We didn't eat at any of them (yay for free breakfast at the hotel), but if you've got a hankering for pancakes or waffles, take a trip up to Williamsburg. You won't be disappointed.

Off to fold some laundry....and find my glasses.

I wore them last night, but can't seem to remember where I put them. I have a back up pair, but I like the ones I lost better. So instead of going upstairs to retrieve the back up pair, I'm sitting here squinting at the computer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Appointment That Wasn't

It's a good thing I'm so laid back. If you read my blog, you might think I'm being sarcastic when I say that, but I kid you not. It's true that I'm a bit tightly wound; I do prefer order and control over chaos; but I'm also a very patient person. As long as I don't have other pressing matters on my to-do list, I could wait for hours. I remember way back when I was pregnant and went to the OB for check ups. My doctor was notoriously behind schedule, or across the street at the hospital delivering a baby, who was in hurry to enter the world, instead of considerately waiting until after office hours. Needless to say, I did a lot of waiting; the nurses were always so happy and relieved that I didn't seem bothered. It's true, I was not bothered. If I had other children at home, or a job to get back to, I may not have been so pleasant. No, I'd still be pleasant. I tend to save my unpleasantries for the privacy of our own home.
That's where I turn into Bizzaro Alison.

Anyway, Caroline had an appointment this morning at 11 to see the pediatric pulmonologist. This was recommended since she had pneumonia twice in a nine month period. I assume this is just standard procedure, which I can appreciate. I originally made an appointment for Caroline down at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Walter Reed is a ssssscary place. It's old. It's rickety. It's in the ghetto. I just don't like going there. Knowing that a pediatric pulmonologist comes here to Ft. Belvoir once a week, on Monday I called and tried to finagle an appointment here instead. As luck would have it, an opening was available for today.

Since I know not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I took it. Except, (there's always one of those) after I took the appointment I realized that I had agreed to keep an eye on my neighbor's kids after they returned from VBS today. Their au pair was going to be tied up doing some paperwork and I was going to have them at my house until she got back.
Just a slight problem, no? Thankfully I remembered that Craig would be around, since he doesn't start work until 2pm. Problem solved.
Uh, nope. I forgot that Craig is officially on a "pass" from work for our mini trip, but he still had to go in from 1-5 for some sort of class. Oopsie.

Not to worry, we devised a plan. I was to take Caroline to the doctor and Craig would stay home and wait for Bailey and Seth to arrive. I figured the appointment wouldn't take long (ha! I'm funny) and we'd be back in time for Craig to leave for work by 12:30.

After circling the parking lot for an open space, navigating our way through a narrow one way street and parking far, far, FAR away, we arrived in time for the appointment. Breathless, but on time. I asked the lady at the front desk of the pediatric clinic if we were in the right spot to see the specialist.
"Yes" she told me.
So we sat down.
And waited, waited, waited. Occasionally the girl at the desk would check and report back that the doctor was still with a patient, they're short staffed, blah, blah, blah.

Thankfully there were many babies in the waiting room to occupy Caroline. She kept commenting that there were so many babies and I kept commenting back that duh, this is the pediatric clinic, what did she expect? Caroline is a baby and dog magnet; I'll often find her yapping with the owners of the dogs in our neighborhood. They must think I approve of her wandering the streets meeting up with strange dogs. It's not that I don't approve, Caroline is quite a friendly kid, but sometimes I think that they think I'm buried in a hole, blissfully unaware that my kid is traipsing through the neighborhood befriending every dog (and dog owner) she encounters. Did I ever mention that we used to call Caroline "The Wal Mart Greeter"? She'd be great at that job. When she's sixteen I may casually slip a Wal Mart job application under her bedroom door, just as my dad, on a whim, came home with a McDonald's application for me at the same age.

Anyway, we talked to the babies' moms, got all their vital info, shared our deepest, darkest family secrets (that Caroline is a blabber mouth) and had a grand old time. At 11:40 the lady at the desk took my ID card and went to check on the doctor. As it turns out, I should have been across the hall. Uh, thanks for telling me lady. She kept telling me that none of this was my fault; it must have been her fault. Poor girl. I think she was kind of new to the gig.

Knowing that I needed to leave by 12:15 to get home in time to relieve Craig of his kid watching duties, I asked how long the appointment would take. An hour, she told me.
An hour!

So, to make a long story short (or only slightly longish) we rescheduled for next Wednesday.

And here's the kicker: Bailey and Seth never came over. We waited for them, I even made a pot of macaroni and cheese for their lunch. Baffled by their failure to show, I had Caroline run over to their house at 1pm to check and see if they were there. Guess what, they were home the whole time.
Their au pair is new and probably didn't think to let me know she would be home to greet them.

Oh well.

We don't have anything exciting planned for next Wednesday anyway.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My House (and Car) Smell Like Smoked Turkey

It's July and in opposite land, where I've taken up permanent residence, that means turkey time. More specifically, that means that Craig and his work mates must have been dreaming of Thanksgiving dinner one slow night at work and decided that July would be the perfect time to have a Thanksgiving style potluck. Here's my deal with Thanksgiving: it's my favorite holiday, but I break out in hives when I think about having to roast a turkey. I brined and roasted one perfect turkey back in 2002 and I have not been successful in duplicating that masterpiece since. I've come close; my turkeys are always edible and tasty; but not nearly as tasty as that turkey in 2002. Every year I have a turkey meltdown. Every year. Shameful, I know.

Some year's meltdowns are more dramatic than others, but I usually end up sitting down to dinner, covered in sweat and sulking because I didn't obtain perfection. It's nearly impossible to have all the dishes warm and ready to eat at the same time and that bothers me so very much. So, I wolf down my food, thinking only of the gargantuan pile dishes that are waiting for me and then console myself with pumpkin pie. I wonder why I list Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday? Maybe it's like childbirth and I just forget the pain every year. However, I still remember what little pain I did feel during child birth, so I don't think I believe people when they say things like that. Sure, I had an epidural, but the back labor I had preceding the injection of the most wonderful drugs ever is permanently (permanently!) etched in my memory.

Not to worry though, Joe, once of Craig's fellow warrant officers, and a culinary master, offered to smoke a turkey for them. I tip my hat to Joe. So that was the plan. Joe would provide the turkey and everyone else would chip in with their offerings. I was signed up for pumpkin chess bars and macaroni and cheese.
Since Joe doesn't work at night, Craig picked up the turkey from Joe's house after work yesterday and it was my task, along with my dishes (oh, and the mashed potatoes that somehow crept onto the list) to warm up the turkey.
No biggie.
It ended up being quite a success even though the smell of smoked, bacon wrapped turkey has permeated into the walls of my house and car.

We're leaving for a mini vacation to Williamsburg tomorrow evening. As luck would have it, Caroline was exposed to strep throat. Isn't that great?!? The day before we're set to leave for our PREPAID vacation, there is a possibility that she was infected with strep. Life is truly awesome sometimes.
The two sisters, who are the germ carriers, have passed the bacteria back and forth to each other on a couple previous occasions and Caroline, quite thankfully, wasn't affected. Hopefully that will be the case this time.
Oh please, oh please, oh please, let this be the case.

She can have strep next week.

No, I take that back. Next week she's signed up for a day camp at the local elementary school.

Watch, I'll get it instead of her.

Hey, the more I think about it, I actually did get strep throat (the first time since I was 13!) the day after Thanksgiving last year. Wouldn't that be funny if I came down with it again after this years mock Thanksgiving?

It that's the case, not only will I be a prophetic genius, but I'll also have no choice but to remove Thanksgiving from the top ranking on my "favorite holiday" list. We'll have to break up. And then we'll eat pizza next Thanksgiving. But we'll still have pumpkin pie.

Nothing will ever be so horrible that I would feel compelled to remove pumpkin pie from my life.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rolling Through Books Like I've Got Nothing To Do

The best part about summer is all the reading I get to do while sitting at the pool with my fish kid. Up until last summer, Caroline was not a confident swimmer. Consequently, I spent EVERY MINUTE of her time in the water sitting on the edge of the pool. My tan was spectacular, but, let's just say that pool time for me wasn't nearly as pleasurable as it was for Caroline. I don't happen to enjoy freezing cold water and being surrounded by a swarm of kids not looking where they're kicking. So, there I sat, an attentive and protective mom, on the uncomfortably hard and hot concrete in the blazing Georgia sun, with my legs hanging over the edge, counting down the minutes until break time when I could sit in the shade and crack open my book for 10 minutes.

It took two summers of swimming lessons for the swimming light bulb to go on in her head. In fact, last year she took her second session of lessons at the end of May. Even after the classes ended, she was still a bit uneasy. I left for a long weekend to attend my cousin's wedding in California; I don't know what happened while I was gone, but upon my return, Caroline morphed into her aquatic alter ego, Swim-o-line, the overly talkative fish.

It was the best gift ever! Caroline could swim with confidence and I could sit in the shade and read.

See, just look at her. Does this look like a competent swimmer, or what?

Just so you know, I'm keeping this picture for the sole purpose of humiliation in the teenage years. I have some goofier pictures, but I'm keeping those hidden until I really need them.

Paybacks, baby. Paybacks.

So now that I can read in the shade and forget that Caroline is even with me keep a close eye on my beloved spawn, I'm happy to go to the pool. I pack up some snacks and a couple of cold beverages and get lost in a book. It's true that I have to look up occasionally to readjust goggles, search for water toys and hand out snacks, but for the most part, I read until I'm told that it's time to go home.

As I've mentioned before, I don't read heavy works of literature. I like mysteries, especially with a culinary theme. Easy reads. Books that don't require too much thinking. An escape to allow my brain to recuperate from the neurotic obsessing I put it through on a daily basis.

Craig and I have been reading through Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Who can resist a story about a hapless female bounty hunter who can't keep herself out of sticky situations? It's not often that Craig and I are interested in the same books, but we found common ground with these. On a whim, I picked up book number eleven at the Dollar Tree a while back; after reading and enjoying it, we've started back at the beginning with book number one.

I took a break from the Stephanie Plum books on Saturday to read "Home Safe" by Elizabeth Berg. Even with several interruptions and housewifery things to attend to, I managed to finish the book in about seven hours. It was SO very good. I've always enjoyed Elizabeth Berg's writing, despite the fact that her book "Open House" (which was wonderful) was on Oprah's book club list. I have some sort of Oprah aversion, but for the sake of fabulous writing, I'll let that slide.

I keep hoping that Caroline won't grow weary of the pool. If she does, I'll cry. I find it nearly impossible to read here when the neighborhood kids have infiltrated every crack and crevice of my house. I suppose that as long as there are kids at the pool to play with, Caroline will be quite content.

See, I found something positive about summer!

And you thought all did was gripe and whine.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bourbon Chicken

Hey Sissy, here is a special post just for you.
Dontcha feel special?

This is the bourbon chicken recipe I use; I've used it for years and it really is awesome. There isn't even any bourbon in it, which is nice because bourbon smells nastay and I would hate to have to buy a bottle just for one recipe. This meal tastes and smells like the Chinese food at the mall food court. Seriously, people might think that you moonlight at the Panda Express.

Because I can't leave anything alone, I'll share with you how I have tweaked the recipe along the way.

First, I use boneless skinless chicken thighs because they don't dry out. If you feel compelled to follow the recipe as shown or have an aversion to dark meat, I suggest that you remove the chicken from the skillet while the sauce reduces or you'll end up with some dry bourbon chicken.
Second, I coat the chicken in seasoned flour before browning, which eventually helps thicken the sauce.
Third, I swap the amounts for apple juice and water.
Fourth, I double the sauce because it is really tasty poured over rice or noodles. Craig prefers noodles so that's what I usually make, but sometimes I force him to eat rice. Not really.
Fifth, hmmm, don't think there is a fifth thing. No, I thought of one: I use a little less of the red pepper flakes than called for. We like spicy food, but I think 3/4 tsp is a *little* too much. I probably use 1/2 tsp.

Like I said, I've been making this recipe forever. A few weeks ago I quadrupled the recipe for Craig and his work peeps. They had an "Asian" potluck night at work. My biggest skillet was working over time, and I still have a little bit of sauce on my car upholstery, but they sure did enjoy it.

Oh and if you're fond of onions, which I think you are, but Craig is NOT, some sliced scallions would be nice on top. Sometimes I also add some thinly sliced carrots.

In conclusion, you should make this. You won't be sorry, I promise.

Nothing says Sunday morning like the smell of bourbon chicken cooking

So while a good majority of the population is at church this morning, I'm, um, not. Hey, I can't make my mom happy ALL of the time, right?
Craig belongs to the Church of the Holy Runners, therefore on Sunday mornings he partakes in his only opportunity of the week to hit the pavement for a long run. An insanely long, hot and painful run. I happen to be a member of the Church of the Sunday is the Only Day I Can Sleep in Past 7am, so you know what I was doing. That is, until Caroline, who is clearly not a member of my congregation, woke me up with an unreasonable demand for breakfast. I would have liked to have told her to shove it and make her own, but the cereal is hard to reach and the sound of her dragging a chair across the hardwood floors makes me cringe. We HAD a step stool, but SOMEBODY left it outside after using it for a boost during a tree climbing expedition. I still made her wait 15 minutes, because she couldn't have been THAT hungry.

And so began my morning of non church attending heathenism. So what's a girl to do?
Why, how about making some bourbon chicken? At 9am.

Since Craig works a swing shift and isn't home for dinner, I have to prepare our dinners in advance. Sometimes he eats his dinner for lunch and then eats a sandwich for dinner, or vice versa. No matter the case, I have to plan and prepare our meals in advance. The tricky part is making meals that reheat well. Casseroles, soups, stews, chili, spaghetti all work well. Big hunks of meat and especially breaded chicken, oh and hamburgers, don't because they just don't survive the microwave in an appealingly edible fashion. I save those types of things for Craig's days off.

It's a little after 10am and dinner is done. I like that feeling.

Of course I'll spend some extra time in the kitchen baking. Craig's work mates like a little treat on Monday to help raise their spirits. Banana cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and cream cheese swirl brownies with Heath bar are on tap. There must have been a sale on cream cheese, or something.

It's going to be a pretty laid back day, something I quite enjoy. Caroline is over at the neighbor's house playing Mario Kart so I'm relishing the quiet right now. But before long, my activities director will return shortly with a plan for lunch and the pool.

Caroline is like Julie McCoy from The Love Boat, except she doesn't hold a clipboard.
I think that makes me Gopher.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Who needs pictures?

Sometimes I think I should don a big pointy dunce cap, sit on a stool facing the corner and stick my nose on the wall. Or perhaps I should just throw my camera in the Potomac River and forget the piece of junk ever existed.
I sound a wee bit melodramatic, no?

In case you haven't noticed, I'm having camera issues. Again.
And I'm so very annoyed with myself and the stupid camera.

On the bright side, it wasn't as if I lost pictures of something monumentally important. But on the dark side, my mug shot should be positioned under the words "operator error" in the dictionary.

So humor me and pretend you see a picture of a completely empty almond butter jar. Do you see it? Can you imagine a glass jar pretty much scraped clean with just a few bits of almond butter remaining on the very bottom? You know, the part of the jar where the bottom meets the sides. It's almost impossible to retrieve the stuff that gets stuck in those crevices.

Two weeks ago I mentioned that I bought a jar of almond butter at Trader Joes during my wild goose chase for Caroline's antibiotic. My initial reaction to the almond butter was that is was simply ok. In my opinion it would benefit from a touch of salt or sugar. Heck, in my opinion, just about everything would taste better with a bit or salt and/or sugar added.

Well, if you could see the picture I took of the empty almond butter jar and a second picture of me sheepishly holding the same empty jar, you'd immediately conclude that the stuff grew on me.
I still think it needs some salt, but it only took me 16 days to eat the entire jar. In my opinion, that's enough evidence to prove that almond butter ain't half bad.
I probably won't go out of my way to buy another jar, but if I'm in the vicinity of Trader Joes, I'd definitely buy more.

I hope my camera bucks up and starts to cooperate; we're headed to Williamsburg on Wednesday. A good mother (and blogger) should return from a trip with many pictures documenting their mini vacation. In the event that my camera acts like it has been of late, just assume that there will be many pictures of Caroline at the pool. As exciting as our trip sounds, with trips to Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg and a water park, with a name that escapes me now, on tap, I'm quite confident that Caroline will be happiest in the hotel pool.
If she preferred the pool at Shades of Green (the military resort at WDW) over the enchantment of the Magic Kingdom, it's quite likely she'll feel the same way at Williamsburg.
Well, except for the day we go to the water park.
She just might be part fish.

Too bad her mom prefers land.

I'm not afraid of water but I sure am afraid of bathing suits.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ice Cream Ban

I'm officially banning myself from purchasing and eating any more ice cream. My nightly ice cream consumption has become a terrible habit and I'm really quite annoyed with myself for it.
Talking with my fabulous bodied neighbor at the pool today did me in. I'm going cold turkey; I just don't see any other way around it.

I exercise six days a week. I am strong, muscular and physically fit. However, I love food more than life itself and sabotage myself daily. For the most part I eat healthy foods, but my sweet tooth is incurable and my post dinner will is weak.

I hate that all the sweaty effort I put forth at the gym is negated by the ice cream I shovel in my mouth every night. I keep thinking that if I dropped a few pounds all the muscles I've worked so hard to build would be more visible and defined.

I'm probably just having one of "those" days, but I'm going for it. I chucked what was left of my last carton of S'mores ice cream in the garbage and here I go.
I've been known to say that my quality of life is significantly reduced when ice cream isn't part of my day.

I guess I need to adopt a new motto.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Day of Oddities

Today I was asked out for a drink AND offered a kidney in the odd chance that I might need one someday.
Evidently I figured out how to attractively style my new hair cut because I must have been looking fly as I left the gym today. Or, the guy was blind, which seems more probable. However he was driving a car, so I imagine the state of Virginia has surmised that his vision isn't questionable.
Anyway, I left the gym, put my bag in the trunk and grabbed my purse to walk over to the grocery store for bananas and milk. As I walked my boring mom walk, praying the wind wouldn't totally muss my freshly styled hair, some dude stopped and said, "can I ask you a question?"

"Sure" I said, thinking he needed directions.

Au contraire.

Instead he asked, "Am I too old to take you out for a drink?"

Can you believe that!?!

He looked younger than me so I couldn't help but wonder how old he thought I was. I happened to have been wearing sunglasses, which do a good job of hiding the smile lines, so perhaps I looked younger than I am. Anyway, I told him I was married and went on my way to buy bananas.

When I returned to my car, he left me a note. The note said something about just having a "friendly drink" and perhaps some "friendly emailing"....and then he wrote, "no harm in that, right?"


As if the bake sale goodies weren't enough (they raised over $500!) I baked Beth's copy cat Starbucks Coffee Cake for Craig's work mates this morning. Not to toot my own horn, and mad props to Beth, but they adored it. In fact, it was tasty enough to prompt one of the guys to offer me his kidney.
Isn't that sweet?
I've never been offered a body part before; I've been proposed to and written into wills, but not once offered a life saving organ.

The rest of my day proved to be less eventful.

Even though I banned Caroline from McDonald's for a few weeks after eating it three times in eight days (yikes!), she was invited to join the neighborhood girls, who were being chauferred to the nearest McD's by Allie's dad. With a dentist appointment looming, time was not on Caroline's side. My immediate reaction was to say no. That's my MO; I say no immediately and then take a few minutes to think things through to devise a workable plan. This happens to drive Craig insane.
Ever willing to find an alternate solution, we improvised. I took Caroline myself, met the girls, watched her shovel chicken nuggets down her throat at an alarming rate and then went on to the dentist appointment. I hate to deny Caroline when she is legitimately disappointed. Had she thrown a rip roaring fit, which she never does, I wouldn't have been accomodating. Her tears weren't manufactured and that just melts my cold black heart.

The dentist's news was promising. Her roots, while still permantently fractured, show no sign of infection. The roots are vital, they sense cold and they haven't discolored. All good signs.
We go back in three months for another check, but for now it doesn't seem like she'll need to have those dreaded root canals.
We certainly wouldn't ever wish for our kid to bite the hardwood floors and harm her pearly whites, but for the situation we've been faced with, we couldn't be happier with the outcome.

I'm still getting that kid a mouth guard.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tweet Tweet

As if I don't share enough about myself on this humble blog, I went ahead and joined the Twitter age.
I'm awfully wordy, but I find the 140 character maximum a welcomed challenge.

We'll see how it goes.

I have a hard time keeping up with Facebook, with my five whole friends and all, but I'll give tweeting a shot.
If Glenn Beck can do it, so can I.

Hopefully you'll enjoy my pithy commentary.

Can I call you my "tweeple?"

I need some tweeps.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Place

If you've been reading my blog long enough, you're probably able to identify my greatest, and oft written about, loves: exercise, diet soda, reality TV and baking. Just to be clear, I am purposely excluding actual people from the list, lest you think I'm sort of people hating monster. The truth is that I happen to like most some people more than I like going to the gym and baking a bundt cake, but I'd hate to ruin my tough girl exterior by going all mushy on you. You know I'm not so good with the squishy sentimental crap stuff.

As luck would have it, today is a day where I truly have it all.
The stars must be in alignment, or something.

I went to the gym this morning, The Bachelorette is on tonight and whilst chugging a cold Diet Coke this afternoon, I had the great pleasure of baking lots of goodies for a bake sale at Craig's work.
A pretty good day, if I do say so myself. It would be even better if I could figure out how to style my new haircut, but that would be asking too much. And I'm not one to rock the boat; I wouldn't want to spoil my Happy Place day.

My day didn't start off as nicely as I would have liked because someone took my spot in Body Pump class(yes, I have a spot) and I had to position my bench and weights in between two mirrors. It's not just the line in the middle that annoys me, but these two particular mirrors are different. One side of my body looks normal and the other side looks oddly disproportionate. For this reason, I refuse to stand on the right hand side of the exercise room. At my gym in Georgia, one of the exercise rooms had AWESOME mirrors; mirrors that made MY legs look long and lean. The adjacent room had mirrors that made everyone looks like oompa loompas. Needless to say, I didn't take yoga too often. It's hard to relax and concentrate when the circumference of your thighs expands by several inches just by entering the room. Let's see, something else could have potentially ruined my happy day. Oh yes, I went to open a bag of spinach for my green smoothie, except it wasn't spinach, it was lettuce. Evidently I didn't buy two bags of spinach at the commissary the other day like I thought I did. I don't know about you, but the idea of drinking liquefied lettuce doesn't sound too appealing. I realize that I sound completely ridiculous because I drink liquefied spinach, but a girl has to draw the imaginary line somewhere. Right?

Despite the horrific events plaguing my morning, knowing that I had an afternoon of baking and an evening of trashy, mindless reality tv awaiting me, my attitude remained positive.

Craig's work is organizing a couple of bake sales to raise funds for their Organizational Day. When news of the second bake sale broke (we missed the first one), many of Craig's co-workers (my taste testers) suggested, with much enthusiasm, that Chief Smith's wife do all the baking.
Of course I happily agreed because, as I mentioned above, my incurable sweet tooth and I just love baking. The smell of baked goods unfailingly lifts my spirits.

Last week Craig called and informed me of the bake sale date. I suggested that he poll his workmates to see what kinds of treats everyone wanted. Not even an hour later Craig called back with a huge list of desired goodies. Always happy to get elbow deep in chocolate, but also quite aware of my limits (and lack of refrigerator space), and not to mention, not wanting to hog the entire bake sale table, we whittled down the list to four items.

Brown-Butter Toffee Blondies

Blissful Snickerdoodle Bars

Cookies and Cream Chess Bars

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

During this afternoon's marathon baking session I loosely calculated that I used 1 1/2 lbs of butter, 4 lbs of sugar (brown, granulated and powdered), 11 eggs, half a bottle of vanilla extract and 1 lb of chocolate....among other things.

With the hard work (and all the dishes!) complete, I'm waiting for two of the items to cool enough so I can cut (hopefully neatly) and wrap all the goodies.

You know, I tried intently to be a good blogger and document my afternoon with pictures. As I'm sure you all won't be able to live a full and complete life without visual representation of my baking session. My intentions were good. My camera was bad.
My batteries ran out of juice and I *had* a stash of extra batteries but they seem to have disappeared. I think the battery eating Wii remotes ate up the last few I had stowed away. I even tried to pilfer a few from the Wii Fit board, but I guess when the directions say not to use previously used batteries, they actually mean it. After a short prayer and a curse word or two, my camera came back to life. Not wanting to waste any ounce of battery power I quickly plugged the camera into the computer and I got some blasted error message.
Gone are my pictures.

No pictures capturing the beauty that is the mixture of creamed butter and sugar. Is there really anything better than that? You could spread it on toast and I'd be a happy girl.
No photos of the happy baker with the customary sunglasses perched upon her head. My future is bright, after all.
No snapshots of my neatly packaged goodies in clear baggies affixed with a cheery and colorful sticker.

Eh. I'm a horrible photographer anyway; you're not missing much.

In other news, I learned a very important lesson today: if you want your ice maker to start working again, just buy a bag of ice. It didn't produce a single cube for an entire day and as soon as I bought a bag of ice, the darn thing started working again.

I'm glad it magically started to work because I didn't really want to bug our landlord over something so trivial. However, I would have done what was deemed necessary because we go through ice like crazy around here.
Craig has taken to sitting in an ice bath (!) after his long Sunday morning runs. Seriously, he runs 10-15 miles and then comes home and sits in freezing cold water.
Hey, whatever it takes to preserve his body.

Have I mentioned that he's training for a marathon? October is a busy month for him: Army 10 Miler at the beginning of the month and the Marine Corp Marathon near the end. I'm slightly concerned that we'll spend the entire month of November at the hospital replacing all of his ailing joints.

The idea of running a marathon intrigues me, but....nah.
I'll stick to being the cheerleader....with 911 ready on speed dial!

OK, time to cut up the goodies...and sneak a few end pieces (shhh!).