Friday, March 4, 2011
But as I look back over my life, I realize you should be careful what kinds of things you put into the "won't happen to me" category, because life has a way of surprising you. Here's a list of things I never expected to have to worry about (but got anyway).
At age 10 I never expected:
-Homework that's too hard to understand
-Confusion about what to do with my life
At age 20 I never expected:
-To worry about the consistency of someone eles's poop
-Running out of clean towels
-Finding grape jelly on the carpet
-Having to explain to a child that there are bad people in this world
-Not feeling up to "it" tonight
-That stretch marks really could happen to me
-Having to watch what I eat
At age 30 I never expected:
-Body parts that begin to wear out...long before their expiration date
-Bullies would be an issue again, and that it would be so much worse than the first time because this time they're not hurting me, they're hurting my child
-That teenagers would see me as old
-I'd have to acknowledge the physical/emotional/mental/spiritual challenge pregnancy presents to me...and that we may have to stop at two children, though I'd always wanted more
-That some days I would feel like my brain was totally wasted on my stay-at-home mom gig.
-My children are growing up so fast it seems they're slipping through my fingertips like sand, and I'm powerless to stop it, or even slow it down
Which problems did you never expect to face?
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Then several years ago I saw Martha Stewart (pre-prison) show her viewers how to make your own vanilla. It's much easier than I'd have ever guessed, and pretty cheap.
Then you split your beans in half with a sharp knife and put them in a fifth of vodka to soak for about 6 weeks. The alcohol in the vodka (it's about 35% alcohol) distills out all the oils and flavor and produces the most delicious vanilla you've ever tasted, and the longer it soaks, the better it is. I just leave the beans in there indefinitely. This makes me enough vanilla to last about 18 months and costs around twelve dollars overall.
Now the problem with homemade vanilla (and here's where I was headed with this post) is the vodka. The only place to get vodka in Idaho is in a liquor store, and since I'm a practicing Mormon (which means drinking is against my religion), I was always a little squeamish about buying it. I guess this is probably hypocrisy, since I have no problem buying commercial vanilla (which has the same alcohol content), using NyQuil (which probably has MORE alcohol than vodka), or buying mouthwash (which I hear has the most alcohol of all!). I mean, I don't DRINK these products for a buzz, and I don't have a problem using them. And I don't feel bad about making homemade vanilla. But the liquor store part? That still gets to me. What if someone I know sees me go inside...or worse, come out carrying that tell-tale brown paper sack?
So, the other day I ran out of vanilla, which meant it was time for another trip to the liquor store. I decided to just get it over with yesterday and marched right in. It was a Friday night, but the store wasn't busy. As I stood browsing the vodkas (man, there sure lots of varieties! I usually just buy the cheapest one, but it looks to me like you could spend a LOT of money on a bottle of Vodka), a trio of girls came in the store. They looked, for lack of a better term, like party girls who were a bit past their prime: a little overweight, clothing that wouldn't have fit them 20 pounds ago, and make-up applied with a trowel
I found my rot gut vodka and got in line. Then I got that feeling that someone was watching me. I turned my head to see the party girls, glaring at me with undisguised disgust. They were SO hostile! I should mention here that I am 5 1/2 months pregnant, and the little baby bump is starting to show, so I guess they thought they had cause. They got in line behind me, and as I paid they continued to stare poisonous darts at me, stage whispering about the pregnant alcoholic who was killing her baby with the cheapest vodka the store offered! I suppose I could have told them I was making vanilla and had never actually had a drink of vodka in my life, but I thought it was too funny and I wanted to savor the moment.
After they'd paid, they walked to their car and continued to stare at me as I drove away. I'm sort of hoping they took down my license plate number and called Child Protective Services because THAT would be REALLY funny! I mean, I wouldn't even take a teaspoon of cough syrup when I was sick last month because It has alcohol in it and I wanted to be sure the baby would be safe! I think being contacted by a state official about my "drinking problem" would make for the best story of all time! Can you imagine?
So anyway, just a reminder for you from the "pregnant lush"--be careful before you judge someone; if you don't have all the details, you may make a serious error. And even when you do have all the details, who appointed you Master of the Universe?
Oh, and try making your own vanilla. It's awesome!
P.S. Sorry for adding comment moderation. Some idiot keeps commenting in Chinese.
Monday, April 5, 2010
As a child, I guess I just sort of took it for granted that there would be turkey on Thanksgiving, presents on Christmas, and candy on Halloween. We were never really big into celebrating most holidays, but still, the bare minimums were there. I never thought about the planning, shopping, preparing, and cleaning that went with even modest celebrations.
Well, since I'm the mom now, I want our family to have fun, meaningful traditions, but (surprise!) they don't just happen. I have to create them--and it's hard.
For Easter this year I put in lots of effort. I bought the eggs and the dye. I put out cute bunny-themed dishes of "anticipatory candy" the week before. I bought an adorable Easter dress for my daughter. I planned family pictures. We were having company for Easter dinner, so I spent all Sunday morning making a fancy meal using Spring foods. My daughter's Easter basket had all sorts of fun surprises and she was thrilled with it.
Sounds like I covered all the bases, doesn't it? Well when my daughter said her prayers last night and thanked Heavenly Father for the Easter Bunny but didn't mention Jesus, it became perfectly clear: I'd failed. Big time.
I look back over the day, and now I can see that we put all the focus on the secular, and none on the spiritual. We didn't read the Easter story from the Bible, or even talk about it. I spent most of General Conference cooking, and though I was "listening" to it on the kitchen radio, the only version broadcast in my area was in Spanish and really static-filled. And yes, I speak Spanish, but I wasn't really giving it my full attention. By the time the afternoon session rolled around, I'd fallen asleep and I missed the whole thing. By the evening, I realized I'd made some huge blunders, so I tried to do a bit of correction by studying my scriptures in bed for an extra long time, but when my husband kept rolling over in an "angry way" (and if you're married, you know exactly what I mean) I finally gave up and shut out the light.
This morning I've seen many people talk about what an enlightening, spiritual day they had, and I feel like I cheated everyone out of the best part of the holiday by not being prepared. I'm going to try and remedy some of my shortcomings at Family Home Evening tonight, but I still feel like a giant fraud.
I guess I'll just have to dedicate myself to doing better next year.
Why is it so hard being the mom?
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I love Costco...just ask the workers. They know me so well that they wish me happy birthday when the day rolls around. Okay, just kidding about that, but I truly do love Costco. What I don't love are what I call "Costco Barnacles." You may not be familiar with the term, but I guarantee you'll recognize the definition. They're the people who love Costco, too--but don't want to fork out the $50 each year to buy a membership. "Oooohh, you're going to Costco this week? Would you mind picking me up some ______."
I had one "barnacle" say to me, "I just can't bring myself to by Gogurt in the grocery store when it's so much cheaper at Costco." Well, do you know what, lady? I pay fifty bucks each year for the privilege of cheap Gogurt. Not that I mind paying the fee--we make it up with cheap tires, cheap contacts, and yes, cheap Gogurt. But why should I have to subsidize your grocery budget? If you want to shop at Costco, buy a darn membership yourself!
I vaccinate my child. I do it because I feel it's best for her and for our community. I accept the (albeit minuscule) risk that comes from vaccinating because I think it's the right thing to do.
I also understand that there are people who choose not to vaccinate. It may be for health reasons, religious objections, or just because they believe it's too dangerous. When you could vaccinate, but choose not to, I think it's a bad move--but I try not to judge.
But one day I heard a non-vaccinating mother say "Why should I vaccinate when everyone else in little Susie's class gets vaccinated? She's safe by default." My blood boiled so hot, I thought it would vaporize. Why? Because you're letting MY child take the risk so your child doesn't have to. I'm not okay with that kind of selfishness. If you don't want to vaccinate because you don't believe in it--fine. But if you don't vaccinate because you'd rather have someone else's child take all the risks, I think you're a pig.
3) Life Insurance
This isn't really a rant so much as a plea. If you are a young parent please, please buy life insurance. Please.
I know what it is to be young and poor (believe me, I know). I understand that the thought of adding another monthly bill to your already-stretched budget seems ridiculous, but the younger and poorer you are, the more you need life insurance. The next time your spouse is late coming home, imagine for about 5 minutes what it would be like if he or she wasn't coming home at all. Something like a poor split-second decision by a driver is all it would take to make that a reality. How would you be financially? Could you pay the mortgage? Buy food? Arrange care for your children? And could you continue to do these things until your children are 18?
That's why you need life insurance.
I've watched so many tragedies in my life where young, healthy people are taken in the blink of an eye. In many of these cases there was no insurance, and the surviving spouse was reduced to looking for donations just to scrape enough money together to put the deceased's body in the ground. It's a cold, hard reality.
A $100,000 policy only costs ten or twenty dollars a month, and that goes a long way towards making a terrible transition more comfortable. If my husband passed away, I'd actually be quite a comfortable widow, and though I'd MUCH rather have him with me, it gives me peace of mind to know that if the unthinkable happens, I won't have to move, sell my furniture, or beg from relatives.
If you're not insured, please think about it.
So these are my thoughts and rants for the day. If you have a pet peeve you'd like to share, I'm all ears!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I've been blessed with the gift of gab. In fact, you might even call it my curse; I'm never at a loss for words. Yet for some reason I couldn't come up with anything. And the strangest thing about this new state of "muteness" is that I have plenty of material to talk about. Here's just a small list of the things that have happened since I wrote last:
*The Holidays came and went, complete with food, presents, and family time.
*We passed our anniversary. Nine years, baby.
*I resigned as the PTO president at my daughter's school, deciding (perhaps for the first time ever) that my life was much better without the added drama.
*My beloved grandmother, Virginia Savage, passed away. She was such a guiding force in my life, so inspirational. I still can't quite believe she's gone.
*We sold an old car and bought a new one.
*And of course, the big news, after so many years of nothing, we were surprised with the news that I'm pregnant. We were happy with our little family of one child, but everything is going to change now. There will be seven years between our children, so I have no idea what life will look like, but I'm excited to see.
I don't know. Maybe I expect to have something witty or meaningful to say every time I write a post, but unfortunately, my life isn't always great source material. In fact, lots of the time is is simple, routine, and even mundane. If I only write about the impressive experiences or the penetrating insights, I suspect new entries will be rare. I'm realizing that for most of us, those moments of clarity and inspiration are few and far between. And they're sandwiched between scrubbing toilets, paying bills, and (if you're newly pregnant) throwing up your raisin bran.
So I'll continue to try and enjoy the little wonders that surround me: hugs from my daughter, billowy purple clouds, the incomprehensible flavor of a perfect orange at it's peak, and the miracle of seeing my tiny baby wave hello through the ultrasound for the first time.
Maybe these things won't rock anyone's world, but they're the stuff mine is made of. So that's what I'll write about. And maybe you'll come along for the journey.
Welcome back, friends.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Then I discovered this recipe and it has changed my life. Okay, not really, but it does taste good. We had it for dinner on Wednesday and I've happily eaten the left overs the last two days for lunch (which is the highest compliment I can give a food--I do not eat left overs). I'm not normally a "recipe posting" kind of blogger, but I think this one is worth it.
The key is "shaving" the steak in a food processor, which gives it exactly the right look and taste. This is really a fast, easy, yummy dish. Give it a try and I think you'll agree that it makes a great sandwich.
2 pounds sirloin steak, trimmed of all extra fat,cut into 1 inch wide strips and partially frozen until the exterior hardens but the interior remains soft (about 45 minutes to 1 hour in the freezer)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
6 slices deli-style provolone cheese or 5 tablespoons Cheese Whiz
4 large sub rolls, cut open and lightly toasted
1. Using a food processor fitted with the slicing disk, force the partially frozen meat through the feed tube using the plunger and "shave" the meat. This step is crucial; it creates the right texture for the meat. Don't be tempted to skip it or just use a knife to chop the meat--your sandwich will NOT taste right.
2. Heat the oil in a 12 inch nonstick skillet until shimmering (about 2 minutes). Add the onion and saute until softened and well browned around the edges, about 4-5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, the meat, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the meat is fully cooked, 2-3 minutes.
3. Turn the heat to low and place slices of cheese over the meat. Allow the cheese to melt, about 1 minute. Using the tip of a heatproof rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, mix the melted cheese and meat together thoroughly. Again, don't skip this step; a real cheesesteak has the cheese mixed in and for some reason it just tastes better this way. Remove the pan from the heat and spoon 1 cup of meat into each toasted bun. Serve immediately with desired garnishes (Jeff likes barbecue sauce and grilled red peppers, but I think it's great plain).
Thursday, September 10, 2009
It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's flip flops that are lined with shearling! For warmth? No, that can't be it; flip flops are inherently not warm, so adding insulation wouldn't make sense. For Style? Well, that CERTAINLY isn't it; these may be the least stylish shoes I've ever seen. For comfort? Well, I suppose you could argue that, but upon further inspection, I think you'll agree that these shoes would be decidedly uncomfortable; if you wear them in the summer, your feet will be too hot, which means sweaty, stinky, matted fleece under your soles (ewwww), and if you wear them in the winter, your feet will get frost bite (and personally, I know if I lose a toe I'd never be able to count to 20 again).
What's worse, LL Bean has the audacity to charge $40 for these monstrosities (the blind, gullible, and fashion ignorant can find them here).
Well, I won't put up with it. I'm taking a stand. No more innocent lambs should be slaughtered to make a shoe that's not only pointless, but so ugly that they trigger an uncontrollable gag reflex. These shoes have no moral or legal reason to exist and should be banished immediately. _______________________________Bugles are a very tasty snack and they deserve to be more popular than they are. Seriously, why aren't we eating these with every meal?
And, last but not least, have you ever noticed how ROUGH biker chicks look? I'm not talking about tough (which is kind of a given with the whole leather/hog/born free thing), but rough--in their looks. Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen an attractive woman on the back of a motor cycle except on TV or in ads.
I mean, here's the perception:
and here's the REALITY:
I don't know. I guess you could blame the years of unprotected sun exposure, wind, and diner food, but without exception, the biker chicks I've seen in real life all seem to have such damaged skin that you could easily mistake their faces for some kind of coin purse. Their hair would give even a hardened stylist nightmares for weeks. Their outfits would make PETA and Stacy London cry.
This is a lifestyle choice I cannot begin to comprehend. Well, I guess like the old Harley-Davidson motto says, "if you have to ask, you wouldn't understand."
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
But there are a few toys that, by some miracle, remain popular from generation to generation. They are the classics. Legos. Candyland. Etch-a-Sketch. Matchbox Cars. And of course, Barbie.
Or at least Barbie used to be on that list of classic toys. But everyone's favorite fashion doll turns 50 this year and like many other beauties to come before her, she seems to be taking that news very hard. Instead of evolving into a graceful woman of sophistication and beauty she's gone off the deep end! It's a sad, but common thing to behold: middle aged women who dress, behave like, and actually seem to believe that they 21 again. Alas, our poor, dear Barbie seems to be infected.
Now I never claimed that Barbie made the most ideal role model in the first place, but pardon me for a moment while I ask WHAT THE HECK? I mean, Barbie, at least you used to have some class. This most recent incarnation puts you in the company of other desperate women of-a-certain-age who can't let it go. Is that really what you want? Take a cold, hard look at this:
Barbie, here's my birthday wish for you: grow up. You heard me. Grow up and claim your birthright as the classy doll. You don't have to compete with every new trend that comes along--you can be yourself and thrive as an independent, timeless, unforgettable woman. Do that, and I expect we'll be seeing you for another 50 years . . . and beyond.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
As I turned around and surveyed my behind, I realized it was much, much worse. I'd sat in a glop of tar, which had left a quarter size black blot squarely on my left haunch. I ran to the bathroom and tried to sponge it out while it was fresh, but if anything, the water and soap seemed to set the stain.
"Just my luck." I muttered. It was the first time I'd even worn the pants. I'd paid more for them than I normally do, but I liked them so much, I figured it was worth it. And now they were ruined. I figured it must be the universe punishing me for being too extravagant.
And just then, from the murky, swirling memories of my very young childhood, I seemed to remember my Grandma Riley telling me that gasoline removed tar from clothing. I even thought I remembered her keeping a small glass jar of it in the laundry room
With a small spark of hope in my heart, I hurried home to give the remedy a try. I grabbed a plastic cup and poured in a few inches of gas. Laying the pants on my washing machine lid, I dipped an old toothbrush in the gas and, holding my breath (both figuratively and literally), began to scrub the spot.
The results were instantaneously and like magic. The tar dissolved before my eyes. I felt like cheering! And then I looked at the cup and realized that tar isn't the only thing gas can dissolve. My plastic cup had melted like ice on a hot stove and at the exact instant I reached for it, it disintegrated like dust. As I thought back, I remembered that my grandma had always used a glass jar--apparently for a good reason
Gas poured all over my washing machine lid, flowing to the edges and into the tub itself...which was full of towels in the middle of the spin cycle. I lifted the lid to be greeted by fumes so strong, they burned my eyes
I started the laundry over with a double-dose of detergent. When it was done washing, the fumes were still strong enough that you could have ignited them. After the second wash, it still smelled like an oil refinery. By the third wash, the fumes were mostly gone (though the towels still smell like they were used by mechanics). Four washes later, I decided we'll just have to live with it. I'm sure the faint smell of gasoline (mixed with Bounce) will fade in time.
As for me, my pants are saved, thanks to that wily, grand old lady, Ellen Riley. And if it seems like my family is wearing Eau d'Chevron perfume, well that's just the sweet smell of success.