wADmM5mNLtOv064mhMCS_CYE3Bc Just Dorothy: 2013

Gender Speak

Not too long ago, my dad and I had a conversation about how advertisers have started to make men and boys look like buffoons in their commercials and merchandisers often "dumb it down" for men in regards to, well, just about everything. 

It's true.  At least in part. 


Men are simple creatures.  It's not rocket science to figure out what appeals to them, how it appeals to them and why it appeals to them. 

Men get hungry.  They put the food in the hole.

Women get hungry.  This is the inner monologue:  "I feel like having something crunchy:  Crunchy as in chips or crunchy as in carrots?  Carrots dipped in ranch?  Dip!  Ohhh, dip sounds good.  Chips and dip!  Wait, I don't have any dip.  I'm not sure if we have any chips either because he might have eaten them all.  Carrots it is.  With dip.  Ranch dip.  Wait...when did I last buy Ranch?  Is it still good?  I can't see the date on the bottle because when he opened the bottle he tore off the little paper thingy where they stamp the date.  Is this the newer bottle of Ranch or is this the old one because the old one was like, super old and I don't want to eat old Ranch.  Maybe crunchy is out.  Ok, I'll make a sandwich.  Should I use sourdough or wheat?  Do I have regular mustard or spicy mustard?  Spicy is better on most sandwiches.  Is the bread fresh and soft?  No.  Hmm, I'll toast it.  But I don't really feel like having a toasted sandwich because sometimes it gets to toasty and then it scratches the roof of my mouth.  But the bread is a little dry and I don't like dry bread.  But I sometimes like toast...which is dry bread...  Maybe I'll have some taquitos.  Pop them in the microwave, add some sour cream (for dipping, of course)...oh, someone left the box open and now they are dried out.  But they were frozen so can they really be dried out?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But they probably "taste" like freezer.  No thanks.  Hmm, a can of soup?  To hot for soup.  Besides if the spoon isn't big enough it's a big disaster.  If the spoon is too big it's a different sort of disaster and all the spoons are dirty anyway because he forgot to run the dishwasher.  I'll just have a V8 and a cheese stick and call it good."

Maybe that's just me?


Here's the difference between directions on men's face wash and women's face wash:

Directions: Wet your face, apply face wash and then rinse.

Directions:  One or two pumps is plenty.  Splash face with water and massage cleanser evenly over entire face using a gentle circular motion to create a light, creamy lather.  Rinse thoroughly with warm water.  For best results use morning and night. 

Way too many words to just wash your face, ladies! 

It's not really "dumbing it down", it's just basic "caveman" communication.  Women need the details, the flowery words to make them feel better about spending $20 on face wash instead of $6.49 for some manly scented scrub. 

I started using caveman communication with my boys when I realized I was using way too many words to get them to do their chores.  "Zach!  Clothes! In washer! Now!"  "Ryan! Trash! Now!" 
Or even, "Boys!  Dinner! Eat!"

I still use a lot of words sometimes (ok, almost all the time) to get simple messages across but I LIKE using all my words. Composing an email can take a long time because I debate over what to say and how to say it and if I should use certain words or not certain words.  Maybe that's just me?

I live in a house full of "cavemen" so I understand it's not dumbing it down, it's just a matter of simplifying things.  They understand it and things get done.  Nothing dumb about that. 

Sportsmanlike Conduct

Friday was a busy day for me.  It was a great day and a sad day at the same time.

First, I met a wonderful young lady that had come to our school as a guest speaker.  She used to live in our community and I think her mom still does.  But a few years ago, she and her dad moved to Hawaii so she could pursue her passion for surfing.  She ended up getting sponsored by Roxy and is one of their models but is also the 2nd ranked female surfer in the U.S. 

She talked to our Junior High students about setting goals, pursuing interests, staying healthy, having good character.  She talked about social media and how she makes sure everything she posts on any kind of media is positive, never negative, never uses foul language, etc.  It was very motivational. I'm hoping some of our students were inspired to pursue their dreams, knowing that someone not much older than them made theirs come true.

And I watched Ryan's last "dance" of his senior year.  It was homecoming Friday and at their pep rally the senior football boys did a skit.  But the skit involved a dance.  So funny, so bittersweet.  I got a little teary eyed even.  That night at the homecoming game it was a shut-out.  The boys won 63-0.

You would think it would be a great feeling to not let the other team score at all and your own team scored really high for football.  But it's not.  It's not fun to play a game that is so one sided and it's not fun to watch a game like that, either.  It's really affected Ryan this weekend and he's dwelling on it.  He's a great kid with compassion and empathy and a sense of fairness. 

Of course, football is football and there is a game to play and win.  Ryan was impressed with the determination of the players, how they kept trying and came out of half time pumped and ready to go even though the score was 49-0. 

In today's society when it's expected for a teenager to be a complete jerk, it's nice to know that my kid is not one of those.  He felt for the other team.  Someone told me that is a sign of greatness.

2 Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

I saw a post on Facebook the other day about a 2 ingredient pumpkin muffin. 

So I tried it...

One box yellow cake mix, one can pure pumpkin mixed together.

Put them in the muffin cups, natch...
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes

 They come out very moist and not super sweet.

And then they start to disappear...

1 box yellow cake mix
1 can pure pumpkin
Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees

Winner of the Scrapbook Software...

Congrats to Crystal! She is the lucky winner of the scrapbooking software from My Memories! 

If you entered but didn't win, no worries!  You can still get an amazing deal on the software. Click on the sidebar link with the code below 

It's 111 degrees outside but...

...fall is in the air.  Not really.  It's hard to feel anything in the air when it's 111.  It feels like there is NO air. 

However, school has started, football season has started (even if it's just pre-season) and the fall season of television programming will start soon.  So I'm getting in the spirit by putting out my fall door wreath.  Yes.  Know it.  Love it.  It goes up today. 

No, really, this is why I do what I do

Working in a school is sometimes not fun. 

Working in a school is sometimes the most fun I've ever had.  Ok, "fun" is a lie, but it's the most rewarding. 

We have a school of over 600 kiddos.  In a K-8 school you get the ones that are not used to being away from mom yet, to the ones that don't really like to be home.  And in between you get some really, really great kids that will listen to you because you are one of the few adults in their lives that makes sense, sometimes even feel cared about.

A boy I had in 6th grade last year was misbehaving in the library yesterday.  He got the "Leesha" look and a negative on his behavior card.  As he was leaving he said, "Mrs. Heaster, I'm going to do better next time".  Love, love, love that he recognized that this was due to HIS behavior.  He's a smart kid.  And today when he saw me we had a great conversation about the dental appointment he had just gotten back from.  It's the little things like this that I love about my job.

I do see some things that break my heart.  The special needs kids that long for friendship.  With the youngers, it's not so bad.  They friend easily.  The older ones..."normal" kids that are older are too concerned about what others think to even bother striking up a conversation.  I try to tell them that they don't have to be bff's but it will never, ever hurt them to extend the common courtesy of saying hello or, if that person has started talking to you, join in on the conversation!  Nothing wrong with that.  I saw it happen today, or not happen, I suppose, and it absolutely broke my heart.  The poor girl was trying so hard to get 2 others to talk to her and she got blown off.  And the look on her face...

After I got home, poor Zach, he got a lecture.  And he had nothing to do with it!  Ok, he didn't really get lectured but I did remind him that I would expect him to stick up for someone like that if he saw the other kids being nasty.  He's a quiet kid, but his peers like him.  If he told them to knock it off I think they would.  I asked him if he would also just at least say hi to this girl on occasion.  He's a shy guy so I don't know if he will, but .... I'm hopeful.  I'm hoping he will do the right thing. 

Today there were volleyball tryouts.  We had several girls come in double checking their physical paperwork due date.  Oh boy.  The tears started to fall as soon as they found out they didn't have a current one and were unable to tryout.  They have to get one by Thursday so they can have a 2nd chance.  It made me feel sad for them because they really want to be a part of something like this only to be told no, the proper paperwork wasn't in place.  On the other hand, they've been told for about 3 weeks now (parents have been told, too) that they need one before try out date.  Oh, the drama and the tears.  Makes me want to mother them and make it better.  Makes me very thankful I don't have a hormonal girl at home.  Premenstrual boys are enough.  When all three of these men in my house have PMS....kill me. 

Anyway, anyone in education will tell you they aren't in it for the money.  Believe it.  It's because the ones that are in it are there for the bigger picture. 

FREE Scrapbooking Software!

I was recently given the opportunity to review My Memory Suite scrapbooking software and to offer a free download to one lucky winner! See below to enter the giveaway.

Now, I'm not a very tech savvy person.  At all.  But I love to scrapbook and I love to create.  I've done traditional scrapbooking and I LOVE it.  Traditional scrapbooking is fun, but time consuming.  And can get super expensive. 

With digital scrapbooking you just download your pictures and add them to templates.  With My Memory Suite, there are background pages, embellishments, templates that are already premade.  You can also design your own.  There are page/embellishment/color packs that you can purchase and there are plenty of free items you can download. 

So far I've created the blog header on this page with pictures of the 4 of us, an album from my Christmas 2012 pictures and I've started a summer page. 

On this page, I added a picture of Zach swimming.  I was able to change the background color page, move his picture to the back, allowing it to fill the frame and I could have added text or any other embellishments I wanted to.  But I really like the simplicity of this design.  Anything else could have made it way too busy for me.

Here are six pages from the Christmas 2012 album I created using templates from My Memories:

 I could have created more text boxes, but I used the ones provided and changed the text to relate to us.  I like the color they used, but could have changed it to anything I wanted to.  I messed around with different layouts, changed what I needed and removed what I didn't want.

Creating scrapbook pages isn't the only thing you can do with the software.  You can create cards, photo books, calendars and even videos.

Not only has My Memories graciously offered this software giveaway, they've also let me give you $10 off the cost of the software if you decide to purchase it on your own AND $10 credit toward product purchase.  The regular cost of the software is $39.97 (and worth every penny) so with the $20 credit you pay less than $20 for the software.  If you aren't the lucky winner and want to purchase, visit My Memories and enter code STMMMS71620.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Great first week!

I really hope I'm not jinxing myself or my family when I say we had a great first week back to school.  The boys really seem to like their schedules and Zach enjoys his home room teacher.  Ryan got a referral on the first day of school.  For wearing a tank top.  I didn't know those weren't allowed!  I know we have a dress code at our school regarding tank tops, the straps have to be a specific width and non offensive, but NO tank tops?  Weird.  Dumb. Sometimes I think this high school has the stick shoved up just a little too far.

I don't have a lunch duty this year and I've been sending Zach with his lunch, but I've asked if the lunches were as horrible as they were last year.  Everyone says they are.  I don't think that will ever change.  I wish it would.  Have you paid attention to what schools are serving your kiddos?  It's not great.  I guess two years or so ago they were told they could no longer have a salad bar.  Why would you take something healthy and nutritious away?  And they definitely don't serve enough to our older kids.  It's not even worth the $2.00 a day they charge.

I said we had a great week but it sounds like I'm complaining! 

Our great week had to do with being out the door on time, zero stress, things running smoothly, getting things done on time and no huge hiccups along the way.  Last year I had a bit of trouble with some of the grades coming into the library.  I wasn't in there full time until January, when half the year was already over.  The expectations were not clear for those classes from the beginning and trying to change things half way through did not work at all.  I loathed the 7th and 8th grade classes.  The amount of disrespect...oy. 

This year, I've very clearly announced the rules and expectations regarding behavior and procedure with all grade levels.  So far, it's worked out.  With the exception of a nasty Kindergartener who kicked me, told me he hated me, and hoped someone sat on my floor and pooped on my face.  He was very proud of the fact that he got "kicked out" of the library and had to sit in the front office.  When he was allowed to come back to the library he said he was going to tell his mom.  I said, "yes, please tell her what a rude, nasty boy you were".  I have a feeling she already knows. 

I'm excited about what this school year will bring.  For the boys, for me, for all the other kiddos.  I just hope I'm not jinxing anything!

Yep, another (wistful) school post...

I have lost track of what 'phase' of life I'm in right now. 

I've said before that I'm in the 2nd phase.  A few weeks ago I might have mentioned I was in the 3rd phase. 

I'm absolutely positive I'm in the "can't remember shit" phase.


The boys are no longer little.  My marriage is no longer "new".  We have our routines, our habits, as parents, as children, as partners, as siblings.  It's been a little challenging at times.  It's even been more than challenging, but not as often.  But it's always, always been a joy.

Ryan, our oldest, is entering his senior year in high school.  We've been through a lot of firsts with that kid.  First birthday, natch.  First day of Kindergarten.  First high school, first dance, first date, first girlfriend, first time driving on his own.  First job.  Now we're looking at his last year of high school.  The last classes, the last school dances.  Oh, I didn't even mean for that to rhyme! The last year he will, most likely, play football.

And Zach.  My sweet little Bean.  Entering the 8th grade.  He's been through a few firsts now, too.  We have a lot of firsts left with him.  But right now, 8th grade is a "last" phase for him, too.  This year will be his last to play basketball as a middle schooler.  This will be his last year to "slack".  He's done a good job all through school, but prepping for high school...the pressure is on this year. 

And then, there's me.  Starting college again.  At the brilliant age of 42.  Me, the girl who can't remember what phase she's in.  The one with the ever changing eye sight, not to mention digestion, the fading memory (did I just kind of say that?) and the nearly grown family to still help raise.  The one that loves new things but gets bored easily, that rarely finishes what she starts. The one that absolutely hates to be obligated to anything.  But also the one that is determined to reach the goal.  The one that is like a dog with a bone when she really, really, really wants something.

So, they are finishing, and I'm beginning.  We're all a bit nervous, all a bit excited.  But we are ready.

That last rush before school starts

'Twas the week before school
and all through the house
all the kids were whining
until I suggested a joust.

Ok, after that I really have nothing.  It just sounded whimsical and it's hard to rhyme house with anything but mouse.

But, yes.  It's the week before school and we're all trying to cram as much stuff in as we can.  Dentist appointments, doctors appointments for well child check ups, vision appointments.  Dermatologist appointments.  Well woman check ups.  You name it, we've probably had an appointment for it. 

Poor Zachary...my shy little Bean.  He had to have a sports physical today.  New pediatrician.  I purposefully made the appointment with a male doctor.  Guess what the doctor wasn't.  That's right.  A female medical student came in first to do the vitals and the well kid check up.  Then...drop your pants!  I figured that meant the doctor wasn't in, that maybe he had been called away for an emergency or something.  And then she said, I will get the doctor and he will come in and talk to you.

Dr. came in and started the exam all over again!  Poor Bean had two hernia checks!!  And she stayed in the room on the 2nd one!!  I left the room, he didn't want me in there either time.  I'm ok with that, I don't really need to be in on that kind of thing. 

And then down to brass tacks.  He started showing Zach and I charts and grafts to determine his height when he is fully grown.  But this is how he started, "So, how tall do you want to be?"
Zach said, "uh, 6 ft or more".  Dr. said, "hehe, well, you won't be."  I thought that was a bit mean spirited, although he did it with a "nice" tone.  I'm not sure about that, the kid has at least 5 more years to grow and IF he will only be 5'10" as the chart says, that breaks down to an average of 1 inch per year.  I'd be concerned if he didn't grow more than one a year.  Also, according to his growth plate (broken wrist and finger x-rays from previous injuries) and two other doctors he will be about 6 feet.  So.....

Our previous pediatrician joins with this new center in October and he's one of the doctors that told Z he would be 6 ft.

We will definitely be seeking a 2nd opinion.  Ok, they probably don't give 2nd opinions on estimated height, but we just won't see the other doctor again. 

So, physically, we are ready to go back.  Mentally....depends on who you are talking to.  Ryan is ready, he's excited to be a senior.  Zach will be in 8th grade and, not quite so excited.  I'm on the fence.  I'm ready to go back, especially financially.  It's been a long, hard 8 weeks on one income.  On the other hand it's been really nice to have an almost spotless house, no 10 loads of laundry to do in one or two days, but...

New and exciting things are going to happen this year for us school wise.  I just know it! :)

We're a family of texters

IN the house texters.  I'm sure we're not the only ones.  Please tell me we aren't.  I will feel really bad if we are.  Well, probably not really. 

One of the boys will be in the bathroom and I'll get a text:  toilet paper

I'll be in bed reading and am so cozy and nearly falling asleep so I text the boys:  goodnight, I love you

Steve will be sitting across from me in the living room and will text cute things:  Hi.  I like you.

And because the iPhone keypad is so small and my fingers are so large, I often misspell stuff.  Or I try to be like all the cool kids and use abbreviations.  One time I text Ryan and used "ur" for you're.

He sent me a text back saying, "You have an education.  Use real words!"  

That's what I get for being the grammar police with my kids.  It comes back to haunt me.

Of always becomes If on my phone.  Get becomes Her and home disappears until it's just hm.  But is almost always Bit.  And of course because these are actual words, the auto correct doesn't work. 

And a thing about auto correct.  It always changes my use of the F word into the D word.  As in duck.  "Are you ducking serious" doesn't have the same oomph as the other.  "Duck yeah!" does not have the same emphasis. 

My nephew Matty becomes Marty on text.  Which would be really funny if you knew Matty.

Getting on with my life

This is a phrase I use almost every day.

Mostly it goes like this:

Me: Zach, can you unload the dishwasher please?
Zach: Let me finish building the Great Wall of China on Minecraft.
Me: Ryan, can you please take out the trash?
Ryan: Yeah

Fast forward 3 hours

Me: HELLO!?  Can you both do as you were told so I can get on with the rest of my life?

Every. Day.

Or making a decision on something.  I do it to myself.  And don't think I'm crazy for having this amazing running dialog in my head because I know you do it, too.

Me: What should I make for dinner tonight?
Me: I don't know yet.  What do I have in the freezer I can take out in time to defrost?
Me: Crap, is there time to defrost chicken?
Me: Depending on the dish you make you could throw it in the Crock Pot and call it dinner.
Me: Yeah, but Steve isn't overly fond of that kind of chicken.
Me: He's not cooking it.
Me: This is true.
Me: So, chicken?
Me: Blah, I don't know!!
Me: Seriously make a decision so I can get on with the rest of  my life!!

Which makes this true:


All good things must come to an end...

I don't really believe that, by the way.  It's just a clever little, sarcastic title for this particular post.

The littles are no longer in my care after Friday.  I could do a little jig, quite honestly.  I like kids.  I really, really do.  But, it's been our discovery that we are not puppy and/or little kid people.  We are easily bugged and don't like to accommodate anyone's needs or whims. 

Family is different, of course.  They are your flesh and blood, the ones you love. 

Day in and day out for literally 10 hours a day I hear "I waaannaa watch...I waaannaa watch...I waaannaa watch..." with no end.  No resolution to what they want to watch!  It's just that phrase repeated over and over again.  10 hours a day, 5 days a week.  And when things don't go their way they yell, "I'm really MAD".  Most of the time I don't respond.  Why argue with a 4 year old? 

No matter what I say, one of them just does not understand.  I can say, "first, we are going to have lunch, then a nap and when you wake up we will have snack."  It doesn't register.  Or it does and he will argue about something in that statement.  Sometimes this is our conversation:

"I want cheese"
"We don't have any cheese"
"Ran out"
"But I want cheese."
"No cheese"
"Ran out"
"Because everyone has already eaten all of it"
"But I want cheese"

This is where I shut my mouth and let the fit happen, the writhing body, the rolling around on the floor, crying for cheese.

This is also where my patience runs thin and I get to the point where I start praying for the clock to move faster towards nap time and then pick up time.

This is the point where I wished I drank.

But, as of Friday, 4:40, it will all be behind me.  I couldn't be happier about letting this "good thing" *ha* come to an end.

Once upon a time in a land called Make Believe

Since the little boys have been here, we've been watching a lot of cartoons.  Ones I haven't seen in a long time.  Some are updated now from when I was a kid, of course, and some are updated since my boys were little. 

I remember watching Mr. Rogers as a kid.  It was so peaceful, so calming.  He really did feel like a friend and I was always sad when he would change his cardigan and his shoes to leave.  It was a little weird at times, too, though.  One of the characters that stand out as uber creepy is Lady Elaine Fairchilde.  I just didn't care for her much.  She was mean and so, so scary looking.  See? :

I loved the big tree where X the Owl lived and the cat.  I've forgotten her name. 

Anyway, since he has passed away, his legacy lives on through Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, an animated show featuring Daniel Tiger, one of Mr. Rogers' puppets.  It's aimed at preschoolers but has very simple messages and repeats, repeats, repeats everything to make sure it is retained.  Daniel Tiger walks in, says "Hi, neighbor!", puts on a red zip up cardigan and changes his shoes.  He rides Trolley and they sing the Good Feeling song.  It makes me tear up a little.

It's very different from what my generation grew up with, but I'm glad the tradition continues. 

Just when I think I can't get any dorkier...

I find picstitch!  It's a sweet little app that lets you make picture collages and add goodies like, well, this.... 

This here is a keeper:

Pirate Queen!

Special Birthday lady!

This weekend we celebrated a very special birthday with a very special lady.  Marilyn, my moms dearest, life long friend, turned 60.  Her kids planned a surprise birthday party for her and decorated in a 60's theme.  Tons of tye-dye, a 60's band called The Factory, fronted by Lisa, her oldest daughter.  It was pretty special for several reasons.

I grew up with this family.  Lisa and I are about 6 months apart.  DeAnna and I are about a year apart.  My brother is the baby of our foursome and was given the nickname of "Baby Kong" by Marilyn.  In the 70's and 80's the 'rents would get together and party.  And party.  And party some more.  It was a really wild time. 

Of course, it was the norm and we didn't know any different.  Our parents were very, very young and it's just what they did. 

So, at the birthday party there was a huge mix of people.  Young and old, family and dear friends.  The band that played included her ex-husband and guys she went to high school with.  Her grandkids were there, ranging in age from 4 to 21.  And she danced with all of them.  It was really sweet. 

There was a photo booth with props!

And my mom and her dearest friend

Happy Birthday Marilyn!

A dream is a what?

Didn't Snow White, she of Disney fame, once sing:

"A dream is a wish your heart makes..."?

Jeez, I sure hope not.

Sometimes I have very, very strange dreams.  And the weirdness factor ratchets up depending on what drugs I've taken.  Over-the-counter drugs, mind you.  I can take Tylenol and end up dreaming about singing Adele songs in perfect harmony with my dad.

Earlier this week I had a few teeth pulled and the doctor gave me Vicodin. I'm very cautious with it of course.  I don't like taking it unless I really, really have to and then I try to hold out until I know I can be completely comatose on the couch or in bed.  The pressure and swelling in my cheek bone area has gotten worse right before bed so I took 800 mg. of ibuprophen.  And then I started dreaming...

Someone was stealing my diabetes medicine only I kept calling it my medicare medicine and it wasn't my regular medicine.  It was a huge, huge plastic needle, like the kind that comes in a kiddos play doctor kit.  And I kept poking my finger with it to draw blood.  It was bizarre.

Sometimes my dreams are in direct line with something I've watched recently.  I think that happens to a lot of people so I'm not alone in that regard, but they certainly are more vivid depending on the medicine I've taken.  Much more detail and depth to them. 

And then I have other dreams that are very, very good.  I wake up totally happy, literally with a smile on my sleepy face.  Dreams of traveling and seeing different places.  Seeing different cultures or meeting up with old friends. 

Rarely do my dreams contain turmoil or drama.  Sometimes, of course, but not as often as the outright bizarre ones. 

I also often dream of those that have passed.  My Nan is a frequent visitor.  Mostly she doesn't say much in them. Sometimes we don't talk at all.  But she's there, puttering around in her kitchen.  One time she sat behind me on a bus with Pops.  I tried to talk to her, ask her where she was going but she wouldn't answer.  She got off the bus and I couldn't follow, no matter how hard I tried.  It doesn't take a genius to analyze those kind.  They are sad but leave me feeling a bit happy because I saw her again.  And I miss her so, so much, just to see her face is wonderful!

Sometimes I try to "plan" on what I'm going to dream about.  A topic, a scenario.  Sometimes it works in a general way but more often than not it becomes some sort of odd twist on the subject.

My imagination tends to run away with me in my dreams. It kind of beats not having dreams at all, I suppose. 

Things you can find on Google

So the little boys are watching a cartoon and the pig on the cartoon has teeth.  I really wasn't sure if pigs even had teeth, to be quite honest, I've never been that up close and personal to find out!  I guess I figured they did but obviously not big ones if you didn't notice them in 42 years, right?

Anyway...I Googled "do pigs have teeth" and the first answer comes up and says, "yes, and if you want to get rid of a dead body make sure you have about 16 pigs.  Their teeth cuts through bone like butter". 

Good to know.  Thanks Google!


My dad built 4 of these cars, my brother built 1.  Their talent is amazing and the cars are awesome! 

Monsoon season

Living in the desert, we have what is called monsoon.  I call it the "false promises and major disappointment" season.  It actually is a season of high winds and high temperatures and sometimes brings a bit of rain.  Sometimes a haboob.  A haboob is a major dust storm, starting with a wall of dust that moves from one side of the valley to the other.  Check out the Phoenix Haboob on YouTube sometime.  It's quite amazing. 

Every afternoon we watch the clouds build up over the mountains behind our house.  We watch them get darker and sink lower.  It's kind of pretty.  Then, the thunder starts.  Loud booms of thunder that we hope promises rain.  Lightning flashes in those dark clouds. And then...

Nothing.  A big, fat nothing.  Not one stinking drop of rain.  There is wind and there is dust.  No rain. 

Other parts of the valley get rain, mostly the east side.  Over here on the west side best side we get nada.  It's a bit discouraging. 

It is fun to watch though, and try to guess what Mother Nature will decide to do. 

I'm sure this is not what you were expecting

I've had a lot of views lately on my little blog here.  Periodically I check the "audience" and see which countries have viewers.  I can also check to see where links to my blog come from. 

Sometimes viewers use Google and sometimes they just go directly to the blog, if they are regular readers and think to look.  I've used Network Blogs to link from Facebook but I've gotten off of Facebook so that doesn't work anymore.  Anyway, I noticed today that there were quite a few views from Russia.  And the biggest traffic source was from some coded link.  I clicked the link...and was directed to a site that came with a suitability warning and an offer on learning the art of female seduction. 

I have no earthly clue how that happens, how you can be on that site and click on something within that link  and it directs you to this blog. 

If you were directed here by that site in hopes of learning the art of female seduction, sorry to disappoint.  I do hope though, that while you were here, maybe you browsed and found something of interest.  If not, here's a recipe that might help with that seduction.  Girls love dessert :)

Strawberry Cheesecake Cobbler

I quit

I quit Facebook.  I quit MSN.  2 problem children out of my life.

The breakup with Facebook is bittersweet.  I really like keeping up on my family and friends posts and pictures but it became such a waste of my time and a breeding ground for meanness.  It was poison.

I quit MSN as my homepage and switched to AOL.  I don't like AOL.  But what I don't like even more is that MSN forces me to use Bing as my search engine.  It also freezes my screen no matter what I do to let Bing "search" for me, even if I'm just trying to scroll down.  AOL does not give me the news the way I like it.  It gives me video.  Video for everything.  And they have the Huffington Post as their news source.  Have to say I'm not a huge fan.  However, it beats getting stuck in Bingville all the time.

I am in a simplifying stage in my life, trying to let the negative out and the positive in.  I can't say that not having these two things are a huge deal in the greater scheme of things.  It's a social site and a search engine!  But, I don't feel as much irritation as I once did.  And not being irritated is a positive thing. :)

So far, so ... eh

I have an iPhone.  I'm not in love with the iPhone.  I like having a smartphone, but I'd rather it not be an iPhone.  Live and learn.  Anyway...

I've started to venture into a few apps.  Pandora is a favorite.  Who doesn't like free music?  I don't mind a few ads every now and again.  I downloaded the Kindle app.  Ehh.  It's an iPhone so the screen is small but it serves a purpose if I'm bored somewhere, standing in line somewhere, waiting in a doctor's office somewhere.  I've downloaded a few free books from Book Bub.  I'm too cheap to pay for any of them so I just get the free ones. 

And, holy cow!  They are bad.  I should probably research more and see if these little nuggets are self-published but the truth of the matter is, I don't really care.  No matter how bad they are, I seem to get sucked in!  I'm suckered by the "what happens next" every single time.  Once I start it I have to see how it ends.  Not that any of the characters are overly interesting.  The writing is so-so.  But curiosity gets the better of me.  Every stinkin time!

If it is so horribly written I can't make sense of it, I have no problem leaving it.  But if it is even remotely interesting, if there is even a little bit of a hook...curiosity takes over.  It's even worse if there is series.  I will read every one just because now I really have to see how it turns out.  A 3 book series?  I will suffer through them all just to see how it all ends. 

Pathetic, I know.


Happy New Year!

The beginning of the school year feels like the beginning of the new year, more so than January 1st does.  To me it does, anyway.  We call it "the most wonderful time of the year", mimicking that Christmas song.  The children are not amused. 

But each and every school year, I feel that rush, that excitement of things starting over, of new things beginning.  I LOVE buying school supplies!  I'm such a nerd.  Now that they are older it's all about regular, boring yellow #2 pencils and primary colored folders.  BORING.  I miss the days of art deco pencils and folders with pictures of horses, kittens or seascapes on them.  Those were for me, by the way, not the boys.  They favored bikes and skateboards and skulls.  Magic markers and the jumbo, buy 5 get 20 free, packages of glue sticks.  Now it's just plain black composition books, pens with black or blue ink and a bazillion packages of wide-ruled notebook paper.  Back in my day I wanted a Trapper-Keeper.  Not a generic one.  THE original Trapper-Keeper.  They had their own commercials!  Maybe I'm not paying attention but I don't think the name brand is participating in that over the top kind of marketing anymore.  Some schools don't even want you to have a Trapper, generic or otherwise. 

I hated school clothes shopping when I was a kid.  Mostly because I could never, ever find shoes to fit.  Even if I had found great tops and shorts or pants, the whole entire trip would be ruined over shoes.  Too small, too narrow, rubbed my heel, all the really cute, adorable ones never, ever worked out.  "Sorry, we just don't have anything in girls or ladies shoes that will fit her width".  Boys tennis shoes would fit though.  Which is great for a young lady in middle school.  I still have that problem so I mostly resort to flip flops whenever I can.

However, there were several school years that my Grandma Roer made me and my cousins special dresses.  I looked forward to it and couldn't wait for the first day of school just so I could wear it.  My cousin Shelly and I, when we went to the same school for awhile, would make sure we weren't wearing the matching dresses on the same day.  I usually wore them with flip flops or on P.E. days, those damn boys tennis shoes!

Back in those days we had metal lunch boxes with a thermos inside.  I wanted one so, so bad.  All day long I would think about it.  I would point out the ones that interested me when we went to the store.  And worried that I wouldn't get one the closer it got to school and I didn't have it in my greedy little hands yet.  And then, it happened.  My step great grandma (bless her, was trying really hard) brought over a light blue plastic Snoopy one that was oblong and not square.  Not anywhere at any time had I ever pointed THAT one out.  I was ungrateful, not to her face, but ungrateful nonetheless.  Still, the first day of school I used that Snoopy lunch box because I HAD a lunchbox and it was kind of a status symbol to have one.  Eventually it just became easier to not have one more thing to carry back and forth to school so I stopped using it altogether.  Sad.  Just sad.  The boys always prefer eating "hot lunch" at the cafeteria.  Not because it tastes good or is super nutritious, but because it's easier.  Neither of them want to make decisions on what to have for lunch, make it, pack it, lug it.  They will eat what's in front of them.  Even the stereotypical "mystery meat".  Trust me, sometimes it really is mystery meat. 

So, about 3 1/2 weeks from now, the new school year will start.  Most of the kids will be wearing new clothes and new shoes.  Have fresh hair cuts.  Most of the staff (this girl included) will, too.  They will be excited at being in a grade higher, seeing their friends again after a long break and just be ready for what the new year has to offer.  It's fun to watch.

I need to make a mental note to look back at this post when the actual new year arrives and remind myself that I love my job, to get over the frustrations and the overwhelming feeling of being "done" by that time and just appreciate the fact that they are still learning new things, even if it doesn't feel like it.  All without the help of a metal lunch box or a Trapper Keeper. 

The sad tail of Carl

About a year ago, Zach told me he wanted a pet.  We've had dogs and we've had a cat but, since we've moved back and are leasing a place, we have none of those. 

He begged for fish.  I know the routine.  We get a pet (dog, cat, turtle, fish, hermit crabs, yes we've had those, hamsters) and who ends up taking care of it?  Yep.  Me.  There's always an argument over who is going to feed it, water it, clean up after it.  Whatever the case may be, there is always an argument. 

Anyway, back to the fish.  I decided to get him a small fish bowl with colorful rocks and a plastic plant.  And two red eyed tetras.  They were cool for a few days and guess who got stuck with them.  Yep.  Me.

Dimitri and Clyde were not best of friends.  Dimitri ended up bullying Clyde, or maybe it was Clyde who bullied Dimitri.  In any case survival of the fittest and all that, we ended up with one red eyed tetra. 

Because we didn't know if it was Dimitri or Clyde, Ryan renamed him Carl.  Keep in mind this is the same kid that once named our cat Alfonso Soriano Warhammer the third.  Luckily for the cat I vetoed that and called him Romeo.  We started rolling our R's and saying it in our best sing song-y voice. Rrroommeeooooooooooooo.  Well, really that part was just me.  Steve just called him cat. 

Anyway, back to Carl.

So, for the past almost year, Carl has sat on our kitchen counter in his little bowl, mindlessly moving back and forth.  Me feeding him every day.  I started to feel guilty.  He was growing.  Was his bowl to small?  Was he bored?  Lonely?  Did he regret getting rid of his "buddy" and suffer from a guilty conscience?  Zach, he of the most useful random knowledge ever, reminded me that fish have like a 3 second attention span so he probably wasn't thinking about much at all and if he was it was soon, very soon, forgotten.  I would even baby talk to Carl while I was feeding him.  "Yes, Carl, look at who's feeding you.  I care about you, Carl.  I take care of you Carl." 

And then.....

Ryan got a 15 gallon aquarium this weekend.  It's pretty flippin sweet.  Carl, along with 4 other fish are happily floating in 15, cool, clear filtered gallons of water.  But, I'm still feeling a bit guilty.

I miss Carl on my kitchen counter.  The small bowl is now being stored in the garage and will be used as a time out tank if any of the other fish get aggressive and misbehave.  I feel guilty that the other 4 fish are in pairs and Carl is the odd fish out.  I see him alternately avoiding the other fish and then trying to buddy up to them.  One of the orange fish (Ryan tells me they are NOT run of the mill gold fish) was doing a swim by, giving Carl the stink eye.  I kept MY eye out for that one for awhile.

Today they seem to be a little more friendly towards each other, although Carl keeps to himself mostly.  I think I've convinced Ry to get only 2 more fish.  A solitary sucker fish who has a job to do, and another tetra type that can be friends with Carl.  

Only time will tell if that will work. 

But if it doesn't work, Carl will forget in 3 seconds

It's happened. Never thought it would. But it just did.

It's official.  I am the shortest person in my family of 4 now.  Not by much.  Yet.  But it's happening.

I always knew this day would come.  I just didn't think I'd actually be just a wee bit sad about it. 

Zach is now about 1/2 inch taller than me.  Insert sad face icon here.  Make that double sad face icon with a little bit of a tear. 

I'm not surprised.  He's entering 8th grade.  I am surprised.  He's my baby. 

The other day he and I were taking measurements to get a baseline of where we are size wise.  He and I are very similarly built.  And since he doesn't read this it can't really embarrass him that everyone now knows he has a similar build to his mom!  At least I don't think he reads this.  My chest is bigger, obviously.  My waist is a bit thicker.  His arms are a tad bigger than mine.  His feet are huge!!  When we are heel to heel the tops of my toes come to the bottoms of his. 

I'm glad for the boys' height.  When they were younger and would go in for check ups the doctor would tell me they would both be at least 6'2.  That made me happy, I think it's an advantage to be taller.  And so glad they got my dads side of the gene pool for height.  Steve is 5'8" or 5'9".  Not a thing wrong with that but I know he wishes he were taller. 

Just one more sign that sooner rather than later they will leave our little nest.  I don't know what I'll do then but I'm excited to see the men they will become. 

Update on the summer bucket list.

So far it's been an iffy summer on getting things done that I wanted to do.  Haven't traveled at all.  Hopefully that will change soon.  Even just a few trips out of town.

I did start working out MORE than the 3 days a week I wanted to.  I've been averaging 5.  I got one fun project done but haven't done any more on Ryan's scrapbook.  He's a senior this year and I wanted to present it at his graduation, just showing things he's done throughout his school career.  I'm not sure this will ever be done.

I haven't taken more pictures.  I have no reason to as I don't really leave the house much.

We've managed to clean out some of the clothes we no longer wear and donate them to Goodwill.  I still want to get other items put together to donate.  I've gotten some of the cabinets organized.

5 more weeks to get it right.

One of the items on my list was to blog at least 45 days of the summer.  I'm at 20 with this one. 

Can I possibly find 25 more things to talk about??

Our social media license should be revoked!

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. 

On one hand, it gives us access to information at lightning fast speeds.  On the other hand, I didn't really need to know that Kim Kardashian had really swollen feet during her pregnancy.  Sometimes social media is used for good.  To get the word out about an important project, rally, program, whatever.  And sometimes it is used for evil.  To spread lies, vicious rumors and to bully other people. 

On both Facebook and online news articles, if the topic catches my eye, I will read it.  Then I torture myself and read the comments people make.  It makes me laugh, it makes me mad but mostly it makes me sad that people feel they can get away with saying the things they say because they are hidden behind an anonymous name.  Hell, if it's on Facebook, it's mostly not anonymous, and they still say the stupidest things.  It's like being given a license to offend anyone and everyone because there is no real accountability for your comments.

People are cruel with their comments.  The same people that would probably never say anything like that to another person face to face are the ones that are unusually cruel.  "Brave" because they are hidden.  Some are cruel on purpose, just for the attention.  And the less attention they receive, the more outrageous they become with their words. 

And someone always, always starts in with the politics.  Or plays the race card.  People throw the N word and the R word around like it's nothing.  Liberal or Conservative, each has their own derogatory word for the other.  The debates get very heated and I can appreciate a good argument.  What I can't and don't appreciate are the debates that go completely overboard in berating someone else for  a difference of opinion.  Why can't everyone just shut the hell up and agree to disagree without it becoming a personal verbal attack?

The audacity of some people shocks me.  Based on someone's opinion, people assume a lot about another person.  Oh, you support gay marriage?  You MUST be gay or at least have homosexual tendencies.  You support Obama?  You are probably black.  You want background checks for anyone wanting to purchase a gun? You must be a liberal AND you want to take my gun away.

I start reading some of the comments and get pretty heated, which in turn makes ME want to comment.  I don't of course, for a few reasons.  The voice of reason is never heard above the shouts of the cruel.

I'm ok. The withdrawls aren't that bad. R-e-a-l-l-y.

So, not to mock AA or anything like that but don't they start out with something like, "my name is ___ and it's been ___ days since my last drink"?

Hello, my name is Alicia and it's been 2 weeks since my last "normal" TV experience.

That's right.  We let go of the satellite TV.  A few weeks ago I wrote about it.  We were in the planning stages of tossing it.  Now we've done it and, agghhhhh.  I have mixed feelings. 

It's such a habit to just turn on the boob tube and use it for background noise.  It's not like there is super great programming.  There were certain shows we'd watch and we'd watch the news.  But there was nothing on that was worth $80 a month. 

So why am I going through withdrawls?  It's a bit of work trying to make this whole thing work between the internet, Hulu and Netflix.  The searching and the downloading and the uploading and the updates and the....whatever else must be done to just watch a freakin show!

And Ryan has told me that he's going over to Grammy and Dpa's every Sunday once football season starts so he can watch the games.  What do they call those guys that come in and work when the others go on strike?  Scabs?  Ryan's a scab.  I don't blame him though.  That one is gonna be tough.

In the meantime, I've been watching shows that are ... interesting.  Really liked Sherlock Holmes (NOT the movie, but the British one with a man named Cumberbatch) series and an older show called SPY.  Another British one.  And mustn't forget Pramface from the UK.  It's like a "Secret Life of the American Teenager" but smarter and more true to life I think than the cheesy program.  Not that I've watched that show...ahem.  Ok, fine, I saw it twice.  There was something on called Blue with Julia Stiles.  I like her.  The show was very odd.  Odd enough that we watched about 20 minutes and turned it off.

Mostly though, my house is getting better organized.  My books are being read.  The boys have yet to pick up on this concept.  And as the end of summer gets closer I will be creating lesson plans for this next year. 

Overall, I know this is a good thing for us.  It's just very hard to break this habit.

He's eyeballing me...

Steve is off today.  I'm a lucky girl.  I really am but in this case I think my sarcasm isn't coming through. 

A few minutes ago I wrote a post about Ryan, "Beard Boy".  The kids I watch are sleeping so, even though he's sitting right across from me, he texts me.

"You never blog about me... Why?" 

"I do too."

"No you don't...And don't ever, ever throw your hands up like that at me again..like your some Italian mom or something".

My responding text had to do with his not properly using "you're".  And it included "piss off".


"If you really want me to, I will blog about you"

"Piss off?...really?"

"She said in the nicest voice ever.  Even batted her eyes"

"Ok fine.  I'm never talking to you again...not even if there is a fire."


So he's still sitting across from me.  Eyeballing me.  If the kids weren't sleeping I'd do a flying karate kick straight to his jugular.

Actually, not that long ago I said, "here, I'm going to jump to you, you catch me, ok?" 

I trusted him. 

I jumped, bounced and landed on the floor. 


Happy reading, Steve!  :0)

Beard Boy

The following conversation really, really happened today with Ryan.  Ryan is 17.  He has a beard and is very, very proud of that beard.

Ryan:  MOM!  Oh my God!!  Come here!

I go into the bathroom where he's standing in front of the mirror.

Ryan: Look...history!  First time ever.  I have food in my beard!!!

Me: Ewww, that's disgusting! 

Ryan:  No, this is aweso...oh wait.  It's just a feather.  Damn it!

Ryan loves his beard.  Loves the fact that his started in the 8th grade.  Is proud of the fact that he is one of the few high school seniors that can grow one. 

Ryan's beard is a topic of conversation.  Mostly with himself, but it's still a topic of conversation.


Up Yours, Yoshi

The two little boys I have here are 4 and 5 and they like video games.  They have a hard time playing them because they lack the coordination but they still want to play them all the time.  When they can't do something on any of the games they turn to me.  The adult.  The one that should know how to do stuff. 

But when it comes to video games, I don't.  No matter what character I play, be it Peach, Mario or Yoshi or what course I follow, in which cup race, like the Banana Cup, or the Flower Cup, I just can't manage.  My sense of direction is way off.  Hand-eye coordination, zilch.  I run my character into every wall, every creature, every guard rail and even drive in the wrong direction.  I am constantly driving into the ocean or any nearby pool or water.  I've learned the darker water equals death for the character. 

It's not just with Mario Kart.  It's with any video game.  Iron Man...forget it.  Poor Tony Stark walks around in circles when I'm at the controls.  The 4 year old figured out how to make him fly.  The 5 year old figured out how to make him shoot.  Between the 3 of us we should have it figured out by the end of summer. 

There has never been any hope for me when it comes to any kind of entertainment games.  When my boys were younger we had Rock Band.  I could not figure out the guitar to save my life.  And they give you the color coordinated song stuff ahead of time!  Zach took mercy on me so I could be included one time and had me hold one part of the guitar while he did the colored musical (important) parts.  Finally, he got fed up with my inability to do it right and made me quit.  He was very nice and patient for an 8 year old.

Video games don't suit me but neither does any other boy game at all.  I can't make proper vehicle sounds.  My sirens sound like Patrick Star from Spongebob -weewoo weewoo weewoo- and my guns sound puny.  Pew-pew-pew.  That's what I got. 

It's ok though, my inability to play like a boy doesn't seem to really matter in the bigger picture.  My boys quickly came to understand that I would never be able to play video games with them.  Or army guys.  Or cowboys and Indians. 

These little boys here now are quick learners.  It's only taken them a week to realize I can't do those things either!

We're coming unglued!

I mean unplugged.  Sort of.  In a round about way.  Ok, not really, mostly at all. 


We're cutting the cord to our satellite.  We tried once before in our small town but it failed miserably.  This time we are better prepared mentally.  And we have a back up thingy going on. 

I won't be able to watch broadcast television at all.  Up here on the hill we don't get any stations even with an antenna.  That's really gonna suck.  I do like watching some regular stations and the news.  Now I'll just get live streaming on my phone or through the Wii.  Gotta love Hulu Plus. 

I've also been introduced to something called Crackle.  My first impression is that it's not very good but it's been an eye opener in the whole crap reality TV business.  Did you know there was (don't think there still is?) a reality show featuring a XXX mom?  And it was called Mommy XXX.  This little 5 minute gem talked about her going in for her 11th boob job.  2 kids, a boy and a girl and a gorgeous house.  And her ex husband is also in the industry.  I'm not sure why I was surprised by this series, given my strong opinions on "reality" TV.  But it is one on a long list of many that I will be avoiding. 

So, cutting the cord won't be that hard, we can watch our shows on Hulu, Amazon Prime and the internet.  The hardest part, without a doubt, will be the upcoming football season.  We LIKE watching as many games as we can.  We'll see if we can't find a way to stream them, but so far I haven't found it. 

Who knows?  Maybe this will force us to read more!  (Said no one, ever.)

Homemade Ranch Dressing

I came across this recipe on Pinterest.  I think I said before that I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest.  I love how many wonderful ideas are on there, how you can share your own ideas, make public boards, private boards for your own secret wishes if you want...

I came across a recipe for homemade ranch dressing.  I can't say I'm the genius behind the recipe because I wouldn't have a clue on where to even begin creating something so wonderful.  Here's the one I swiped, but tweaked a little so I couldn't be busted for plagiarism:

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk (Greek yogurt instead???)
1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh dill weed, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients and store in an air-tight container.  Must be refrigerated.  Mason jars are perfect for this! 

Jalapeno Poppers

In our special dealio we got this weekend on the veggies, we got a ton of jalapenos.  We have made them before but choose large ones since they are not quite as hot.  Mostly.  The ones we got this time are small to medium.  Let's just call them exactly what they are. 


Steve and Zach cut the jalapeno's in half, removed the seeds and the vein.  It was Zach's first time helping and he regretted it once the inside of his nose was burning.  Once they were done I decided to try.  The first one had some heat.  The second one made me want to die.  If you care to try, here's the recipe:

Jalapeno's , cut in half length-wise, seeds removed
Cream cheese (you can even used the pineapple flavored stuff which makes it extra groovy)

Once jalapeno's are cut and seeded, spread cream cheese in the pepper and wrap with a slice of bacon.  If the peppers are small, cut the bacon in half before wrapping.  Bake for half an hour at 375 degrees. 

Have milk handy in case you need to relieve that burning sensation!

Lettuce...it's what's for dinner! (Grilled Romaine)

A few years ago I came across a recipe in a magazine from Guy Fieri, one of the many chefs on TV, for grilled romaine.  Sounds...not appealing, right?  It's deliciously awesome!!  And it's really easy.  My 3 guys here are meat and potato kind of guys so the thought of grilled lettuce was met with "just another one of moms crazy ideas".  But it's got bacon on it.  BACON.  Everything is groovy with bacon.  I don't usually measure when I cook so here is the basic recipe, adjusted to taste:

Romaine, washed, tops trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Cooked bacon, crispy
Balsamic vinegar
Feta cheese

Brush cut side of romaine with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill over medium high heat about 3 minutes each side.  Mix olive oil and balsamic with cooked bacon, heat over medium low heat (you can add bacon drippings too if you prefer).  Remove romaine from grill, drizzle dressing over lettuce and sprinkle with feta.  So YUMMY!

And because they like meat, we served it with grilled chicken marinated in zesty herb stuff.  If you try it or have your own recipe let me know what you think!

Our family birthdays are obnoxious!

There are 5 of us kids.  4 of us have kids of our own.  In total there are 6 grandkids.  The oldest, Ryan, is seventeen although no one in my family will claim they are old enough to have a 17 year old. 

Ok, fine.

He's mine. 

So we've had a lot of birthdays over the years and I don't remember when it started, the cha-cha-cha.  I even think I've written about the cha-cha-cha before.  But I don't remember that for sure either.  It sucks getting old.  Anyway...

In our family we always get together to have a family dinner and cake and celebrate the person having a birthday.  Pretty normal.  But when it comes to singing happy birthday we get all crazy.  We get...obnoxious.  We sing the traditional birthday song but add a huge CHA-CHA-CHA to it. And we're really LOUD.  And we drag it out.  A lot.  Today is nephew Mason's birthday. 

Happy birthday to you CHA-CHA-CHA
Happy birthday to you CHA-CHA-CHA
Happy birthday dear Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssssssssssssssssssssoooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
Haaaaappppyyy birthdaaaaaay toooooo yoooouuuuu.

See, obnoxious for good.  Not for evil.

If someone in my family didn't get the cha-cha-cha treatment for their birthday, they would probably feel let down and disappointed and possibly unloved. Ha, I kid.  Kind of.  And this is not exclusive to the kids, either. 

It's very hard to go to a "normal" birthday and not cha-cha-cha somebody.  It's a bit awkward when you accidentally do. 

Ahh, well.  There are more obnoxious things in life! :0)

Stretching Our Food Dollars

For about a year now my family and I have been participating in a food co-op.  It's been really reasonable and beneficial for us.  It's called Bountiful Baskets and they have many locations in about 22 states.  You "contribute" $15 dollars and get a generous amount of fruits and veggies.  Saturday I got melon, onion, blueberries, plums, pineapple and papaya in my basket, among other things.

Sometimes you get things you've never heard of before or at least never thought to purchase on your own.  Yesterday in my basket, I got Swiss chard.  It looks a bit like rhubarb.  I've never cooked with Swiss chard.  Or rhubarb.  I think my chances would be better with rhubarb.  But, I've googled some recipes and we will try it.  Steve, the husband unit, is a bit more picky than our two boys.  Maybe picky isn't the right word.  Snobbishly selective.  If he is unfamiliar with a food he will pick it up, look at it, sniff it, make a face.  I tell him he has to take 2 "no thank you" bites and then he can ditch it.  Most of the time it works and he's discovered that he doesn't mind certain things now.  Sometimes I sneak the unfamiliar item in with something familiar and no one even knows.  He's caught on to me though and has busted me on several occasions and now knows to just ask,  "...and what ELSE is in it?"  The boys, on the other hand, will eat just about anything and are willing to try new things.  Unless it looks absolutely disgusting, they will try it. 

Friday, my cousin Bonnie told me about a local, non-profit organization called Market on the Move.  It's a food "rescue" organization.  The produce is still fresh, still edible, still very, very good but markets pass it by because it might have an odd shape, the color isn't bright enough, etc.  So the organization "rescues" it and offers it up to the public, otherwise it would go to waste in a landfill somewhere.  For $10 you can get up to 60 pounds of produce.  Saturday I got tons of tomatoes, 20 orange bell peppers, a huge grocery bag full of jalapenos, fresh green beans, more melon and zucchini.  They also offered egg plant but I always mess it up when I cook it so I passed.  They had also run out of cucumbers and watermelon by the time I got there.  But, $10 for 60 POUNDS OF FOOD!!  I put together a few bags to share, which is the idea behind MOM.  Check it out:

Neither MOM nor Bountiful Baskets has endorsed this post and I have not received any compensation for this post.  I'm simply passing along some great information in hopes that people can benefit from them also.

Sum..sum...summer time!

So, it's not officially summer yet.  But it sure feels like it here.  Temps are over 100 degrees and we are out of school.  Summer in Arizona doesn't go by a calendar.  We have 2 whole months off, all of June and all of July.  Since I work for the school that means I get that break, too.  It's kind of nice.  I made a list, of course I made a list, of the things I hope to accomplish this summer, a "summer bucket list" of sorts.  Some are random, some are simple, some are rather dull and are more like chores and some are, hopefully, capable of recharging my very low batteries.  I will now bore you with some of the list.

I'd like to get into a workout routine, hitting the gym 3 days a week or doing the C25K (couch to 5K) and have it stick with me so that when school starts again I will be in the habit of just doing it.

I have a kiddo starting his senior year of high school in the fall.  I really need to work on his scrapbook, for which is just bought new paper!  Just don't tell Steve I bought more scrapbook paper.  He thinks I have enough.  I also need to make a shirt in support of his senior football year.  Oh the pressure!!

I want to do at least 2 more fun projects.  Just. For. Fun.

It's my goal to post to the blog at least 45 days this summer. 

Take more pictures.

I also want to be more informed about diabetes and organize my walking team and fundraising team and really get it going.

It's also a goal to get the boys out of town, even if it's just for day trips.  Ryan has football practice but should have a day off during the week.  We'll run up to Prescott or Sedona or some little town off the highway and just explore, get out of the heat. 

The rest of the things on my to-do list are the chore things like go through our closets and get all the stuff that doesn't fit and donate it, and clean out the cupboards.  BORING.  But, I've got time!

Starting in the fall we go non-stop with work and school and boys' activities and then the holidays.  And, I will be starting college classes again in the fall I think, so I will be even busier.  These next few months will be low key and relaxed.  I can only hope :)

Homemade Granola

In our attempt to eat better and less processed foods I came across a recipe for granola.  In my house we snack on granola bars at school/work because they are soooo easy to just slip into your lunch bag or back pack and are very convenient.  But they are full of crap. 

I haven't attempted the bars because I just don't have the patience to try that yet, but give me time.  Anyway, here's the recipe I followed:

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Stir the melted butter and sugar together, mixing well.  Add the oats and cinnamon mixing well again.  Spread the mixture on a baking pan and bake at 200-225 degrees for 2 hours, stirring every half hour. 

As a bonus my house smells like Christmas.  So, we'll see how this works, if the kids will eat it.  Yes it has sugar and butter and those things aren't so "healthy" but they are REAL foods.  It's still a work in progress for us but ... it's a start. 

Strawberry Cheesecake Cobbler

Found this recipe in a locally published magazine (Up the Hill) and it is DELICIOUS:

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 quarts whole strawberries, capped and washed
4 oz cream cheese, but into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter and pour into a 9x13 glass baking dish.  In a small bowl, mix together the egg, milk, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Pour directly over the butter in the baking dish but do not stir.

Add strawberries, arranging them in a single layer.  Place the cut cream cheese over strawberries. 

Bake about 45 minutes, until crust is golden brown and a bit bubbly.

Would be perfect served with vanilla ice cream.

Dear "Anonymous"

Because you try to comment on each and every new post I put up, I've decided to direct this one specifically towards you. 

STOP spamming my account.  I will never click on your link and I will never publish your comments.  There are so many of you, every day I receive at least 2 "comments" but usually more.  The last two were in Chinese.  At least I'm assuming it's Chinese.  I don't want to buy handbags or designer perfume at a fraction of the cost.  I don't want to buy shoes or scarves or jewelry. 

My guess is you won't read this.  You will simply try to post a comment.  You must have tons of time on your hands to just kind of blanket the blogging universe with scam links.  Are you paid by click?   If so, you can stop wasting your time with this little blog.  There will be NO clicking going on here. 

Oh, ironically, as I'm getting ready to post this, another one of your comments comes in:

"Pretty nice post.  I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. 

In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!

Have a look at my webpage...xxxxxx"

Well, Anonymous, wish granted!  Here's me, writing again, very soon. 

Lessons from I Love Lucy

Yesterday I caught an episode of I Love Lucy.  Silly Lucy was trying to be a part of Ricky's show.  She went to the audition and tried to dance but really she just had two left feet.  Ricky brought out a costume, said it was a size 12 and said, "you all are size 12, right?"  All said yes.  Except for Lucy.  She didn't say what size she was but she tried on the costume and it ripped.  So she made a deal with Ricky.  If she lost a bit of weight to fit into the size 12, she could be in the show.  Long story short, she did.

But here's the thing that caught my attention.  ALL of the girls were size 12.  And they looked perfect.  They were fit and healthy and didn't look "fat".  Today, though, a size 12 actress would be called fat and the only thing that would be talked about was her weight and her pursuit to drop pounds.  That would be the focus instead of her acting.  Her name would be prefaced with "plus size".  It's so irritating.  Marilyn Monroe was a size 14.  No one, ever, called her fat.  No one, ever, called her plus size.  When did the "normal" size of women, size 12 or 14 become considered fat and size 0-6 become ideal, become the prevelant definition of beautiful?

There is a local DJ here, actually probably more than one, that calls Adele a fat cow.  One of the actresses on Mad Men is called plus size.  It pisses me off.  They are neither a fat cow, nor plus size.  They have shape and definition and curves!  When did that become so "bad"?

So how do we move away from that and get back to where women aren't judged by their weight, their worth is not based on their appearance? 

Menu Sunday

Haven't posted one of these in quite a while, but I'm experiementing with some new goodies so...

When I cook with new stuff or try a new recipe, Steve sighs, rolls his eyes and, I think, silently prays.  Out loud he says, "Oookaaayyy" with just the tiniest hint of reservation.  Only it's not really so tiny.

This week in my Bountiful Basket I received leeks, eggplant, a bag of potatoes, blood oranges, a pineapple and broccoli.  I've never cooked with leeks or eggplant before.  I asked a friend if they had any good ideas.  They said leek and potato soup!  So this morning, I got up, washed and cut the leeks, the potatoes, added beef broth, evaporated milk (didn't have heavy cream) and a little bit of water.  Salt, pepper, etc. and simmered for a little bit.  Put it in a blender and hit "liquify" and....delicious potato and leek soup!  We're having it for lunch right now and even Steve likes it.

I also peeled and cubed eggplant and mixed with a can of tomato soup, onion, zuccini, yellow pepper, garlic, pepper to make a ratatouille in the CrockPot. 

Contemplating pineapple salsa.  We like fresh pineapple too much for it to actually get cut and make it into a salsa.  It's eaten as it's cut.  Maybe we'll try.  Pineapple, red pepper, cilantro and jalapeno (although I might skip this, it will be good without) and a squeeze of lime.

Tomorrow I will be making a pot roast with carrots (also from BB) and potatoes, letting it cook all day while I'm at work.  The rest of the week looks like this, in no particular order:

Chicken Stir Fry
Tatertot Casserole
Grilled Brats
Cheese Ravioli with Marsala-Caper sauce

I'm also feeling just a bit adventerous and might, might try some fried pickles today.  Not sure I have the correct ingredients to attempt this.

This Makes it Worth It

The 8th graders go to me today.  I tried really hard to behave, but I ended up telling one off, in the nicest way possible, of course, and kicked his butt out of class for disrespect.  He's a kid who is constantly in trouble and now I know why.  Anyway...

So after our regular school hours, kids go to the after care program and it is often held in the library.  A little boy in the program asked if he could look for a book for his class project and if I could help him find a book on Peregrine Falcons.  Of course, I said yes.  He told me he was in second grade.  We went to the section where the Peregrine Falcons could be found and sat on the floor.  He selected a book on birds of prey and started thumbing through.  He would stop and tell me about what was catching his interest and he decided it would be a great book for his class report. 

So a few minutes later he hands the book back to me.  I said, "do you need it for a little bit longer?"  He said he didn't.  He started to talk to me about video games, games like Mario Party and Donkey Kong.  "Do you know what?" he'd ask and start telling me what!  We talked about Michigan and how his dad was born in Michigan but is not from Detroit and you don't find many people that are actually from Detroit and how they both really like hockey.  My new friend Jack, it turns out, is a Phoenix Coyotes fan and his dad is a Red Wings fan. They were sweating out a tied game between the two last year during the playoffs.  My new friend Jack is also very animated and makes the most adorable facial expressions when he is telling his story.  He tells a great story and he is a lot of fun to watch.  His entire face gets into the story. I also found out that he records the Wild Kratts.  I miss the show now that my own kids are older.  He seemed surprised that I knew who they were.  And Jack also saves money for the book fair.  He's got $59 burning a hole in his pocket.

Chatting with a 2nd grader.  What a great way to end my day!