Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kitchen Chat

What are you doing this Friday from 11:00am-12:00pm CT ? You're listening to my interview on Margaret McSweeney's Kitchen Chat, that's what! Margaret is one of those people who is just a total blessing to everyone she meets. I'm so happy to call her my friend.

Here we are in Sonoma. :)

And not only will you thoroughly enjoy Margaret's show, but she's giving away a couple signed copies of my book Because I Said So as well.

And, and, AND... (drumroll) YOU can star with me on the show! That's right! You can be interviewed on Margaret's show too. You see, I kinda hafta pick up Clay from school at 11:50. I figured I'd let him sit there and wait for me until 12:00, but I thought his teacher probably wouldn't appreciate that. I could leave to get him and and continue the interview on my cell phone, but I tend to get irate while pulling through the Kiss-n-Drive and that probably doesn't make for good radio listening. Sooo, this is where you come in. One lucky reader will get to talk to Margaret and spread the word about something fabulous you've done! Have you written a book recently? Are you organizing a big fundraiser for childhood cancer? What do you want to talk about and why? Leave me a comment here and we'll pick one person who will get to be on Kitchen Chat with Margaret this Friday from 11:50am - 12:00pm CT. And don't forget to tune in and listen HERE!

My Car Insurance Just Doubled

I was in my first accident today. Well, my first accident while I was driving. Actually, maybe it was my second. Earlier this year, I hit my neighbor's parked car when I pulled out of my driveway in a rush to get to church. I'm not sure if that counts as an accident or not. I'm sure, to my insurance company, it does.

Anyway, I was going to pick up my son from school. I sat, waiting to make a left turn. When the traffic cleared, I turned. BAM! It took me a minute to realize what had happened. I'd been hit! What the heck?! Where did that car come from?! The street was clear. Where on earth had they come from?!

I pulled over into a parking lot and the other car followed me. A teenage girl got out of the car and looked at me like I was an idiot. I asked her, "Didn't you see me?" She flipped out and started yelling, "ME see YOU?! Didn't YOU see ME?" Umm, well, no actually. I didn't. I turned away from her and dialed 911. Actually, I didn't so much dial 911 as I punched 911 as my passcode to unlock my phone. Shockingly, it didn't work. Duh. I came to my senses, unlocked my phone and dialed 911. Isn't that what you're supposed to do? What ARE you supposed to do in an accident? Call the police, right? Or are you just supposed to trade insurance information. I have no idea what to do! Ugh, I got through to 911 and told them the info. No, no airbags deployed. No, no one was hurt. At least I didn't think anyone was hurt. Crap, I didn't even ask to make sure no one was hurt! What's wrong with me? That's the first thing you should do, right? Ohmygosh, my brain wasn't functioning at all.

I hung up and walked back to my car so I could make sure that no one was hurt. Brooklyn was yelling and crying.

"Are you hurt or just scared?" I repeatedly asked her, starting to freak out that she might have been hurt. Finally she answered me.

"I'm hurt."

"Oh God, let her be ok," I thought. "What hurts, sweetie?" I asked, full of concern.

"My ears hurt. That was loud," she whined.

"Your EARS?" Ugh. I breathed a sigh of relief that the kids were all ok. Then I turned to Austin who had been walking out toward the car at the time of the accident. "Was it my fault? Did I pull out in front of her or was she speeding and not see me turn?" I asked.

"It was your fault, Mom," he answered. "She was there and you pulled in front of her."

I felt like an idiot. How did I not see her. It wasn't like I wasn't paying attention or anything. I wasn't talking on the phone or texting or even flailing my arm around to try to swat Jackson for being obnoxious and bugging Clay. I was totally paying attention to the road. I still can't understand how it happened. I wish I could see a video replay of the events from every angle because I just can't wrap my brain around the fact that I caused an accident.

Meanwhile, Jackson was supposed to be at the library for his first Battle of the Books meet. I didn't know how to get in touch with anyone and the police officer hadn't even shown up yet. Oh well, whatcha gonna do, right? We sat tight and waited. The officer pulled up and got out of her car. It was the same officer that came to my house last week! Oh yeah, back up. I guess I never wrote about that. One day last week, a police officer showed up at my front door asking for Jackson.

"Here he is. Take him away," I said. "I always knew this would happen some day. What did he do?" I asked.

Long story short is that he and some friends were walking home from school when a car slowed down and yelled some obscenities out the window to Jackson and his friends. One of the kids' parent called the police to report it. Jackson told her what kind of a car it was and what the driver looked like, but said that he didn't really hear what was said.

Anyway, this was the same officer and she remembered us. The other driver came out, the vein in her head ready to burst, but I started talking first and admitted that I must have pulled out in front of her and I just didn't see her.

Sigh. So, in the end, I got a lovely ticket with a price tag of $115 and I get to attend a fun-filled, 4 hour traffic school, the side door of my van is smashed in (but thankfully, still usable), and I'm scared half-to-death to drive. Oh and another parent from the Battle of the Books got ahold of me, I filled her in on what was going on and she sent another parent over to pick up Jax and take him to the library. (They won their first battle despite my slacker son who didn't do his fair share of the reading.)

And none of this would have happened if I didn't live in the frozen tundra because my son would've been walking home. And, of course, none of this would've happened at all if I hadn't just been bragging about the fact that I'd never been in an accident. Damn that Murphy and his stupid law!

Monday, January 25, 2010


So, Brooklyn has this bad habit when it comes time to go bed in that she won't. Go to bed, that is. That girl is stubborn as a mule. So we played the
"Go to bed!"
"But I don't wanna go to bed!"
"I didn't ask if you wanted to go. Go to bed!"
"But I don't wanna go to bed!"
"I didn't ask if you wanted to go. Go to bed!"
"But I don't wanna go to bed!"
"I didn't ask if you wanted to go. Go to bed!"
game 5000 times. Finally, defeated, she stomped off as noisily as a 32-pound child wearing 2 pairs of socks can stomp. (Yes, she was wearing 2 pairs of socks and Lexi's leg warmers that run from her little feet up to her butt because for some reason, it seemed more reasonable to put that on with spaghetti-strapped, summer, shorty pajamas, than changing into warmer, winter-wear. I don't ask anymore.)

All was fine. She was in her bed. She was quiet. The lights were off. No giggling was heard. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Clay's backpack move. That can't be right! Backpacks don't just move. What the...??? Inch by inch, his backpack moved down the hallway and toward the kitchen. Behind the backpack, Brooklyn, who in her mind, was completely camouflaged, carried out her commando mission into enemy territory. Austin, Savannah, and I, however, were too bright for her tactics. The hot pink leg warmers sticking out and scooting along were a dead giveaway. We stifled our giggles and watched in fascination as she continued to make her way into the kitchen "unseen".

I almost didn't have the heart to tell her, "The jig is up!" Almost. I'm happy to report that the stubborn, camouflaged, walking backpack is now soundly sleeping in her own bed. And it only took 40 minutes for her to stop crying. Life is good. Now where did I put that wine?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, where the snow is finally melting (Hey, so THAT'S what grass looks like!), it's Sunday Sound Out with your host Dawn who has a donut.

Hey Dawn: Just so you know(and should this ever crop up again) slams on their BRAKES..not breaks.Sheesh!
Oh my gosh. I cannot believe I wrote that. Well, it just goes to illustrate my point that lack of sleep is detrimental to one's health (and apparently one's spelling as well.)

And,believe it or not,my youngest Son now 15,loved burnt toast.YUK,PEW.He would only eat the blackest part.Yes he is a normal,HA,15 yr.old.He's also very artistic like your Austin.Did he eat burnt toast?
No, Austin eats perfectly normal stuff like Minestrone soup and ice cream for breakfast. It kinda seems like we used to go see a band named Burnt Toast back in the day though. Can anyone refresh my memory here? Jen?

I know a guy whose favorite snack is burnt toast broken into chunks, drowned in milk, and covered in pepper. How's that sound?
Add a little caramel sauce, green peppers, and tofu and it sounds de-lish!

Toast like that + hot sauce = great remedy for a hangover. No kidding :)
Yeah, I suppose the burning in your mouth and the uncontrollable retching could make even the worst hangover pale in comparison.

Ah. Toast just the way I like it. Just add butter while the toast is hot and heaps of Vegemite and I'm in heaven. Sigh. Maybe it's an Australian thing...Bring on the nuked toast.
Does anyone else have Men At Work's Land Down Under running through their heads? I think that's the only other time I've ever heard the word Vegemite. Now you have to enlighten me and other clueless Americans here. What on earth is Vegemite?

We have the "burnt" toast setting so that we can tell "People who can make toast" apart from "People who can't make toast."
Ahhhhhh! LOL! I love it! The best answer yet! Seriously, it surprised me how many weirdos nice people there are who like burnt toast. Still, I maintain that the settings on your average toaster are ridiculous.
1 - so light it's just basically dried-out bread
2 - perfectly toasted
3 - burnt
4 - burnt
5 - burnt
6 - burnt
7 - burnt
8 - burnt
At least that's how my toaster works.

I would love to know if you do a weekly or bi-weekly menu? Do you use coupons? Budget out? Where do you grocery shop at? And what are your favorite meals to cook that your kids WILL eat? I only have 4 kids so this is so tough for me.
I've never been good at cutting coupons and remembering to use them. I've never been able to find the time to run from store to store looking for the best bargains. I know people who do this very successfully. I'm not one of them. However,I do my grocery shopping primarily at Aldi. They don't carry name brands and they don't have tons of variety, but they do have the lowest prices ever.

As far as menus, yeah, I try to plan out a week at a time, but I'm flexible. If something comes up that keeps us out running errands or dropping kids off at their activities in the evening, we might just grab quick sandwiches or pop a frozen pizza in the oven. I made a lasagna last night, but our dinner plans were changed at the last minute, so I popped the lasagna in the freezer. I'll pull that out later this week or next. I'm making beef stew in the crockpot tomorrow, pastichio one night, and chicken divan one night. At least one night will be leftovers and one night will be something quick like soup and grilled cheese, frozen pizza, or chicken nuggets. Let your kids help pick out meals they like. Now and then, when you have a craving for some food that your little ones don't care for, feed them something kid-friendly for dinner, then have a romantic meal with your husband after the kids have gone to bed.

Thought this was weird when I first heard it but tried it and it works!! Breast milk is best cure for pink eye. No recommendations on how to get any, hopefully you have some nursing friends that won't think you are too crazy.
Umm yeah, well we'll just call that plan B, ok?

How's the throat?
It doesn't really hurt at all anymore which just goes to prove my "if you ignore it long enough, it'll go away" theory really does work.

When I was about her age, I collected used dryer sheets. Why? I tied them together and kept them under my bed in case of a fire, so I could easily climb out my window. My mom cleaned my room while I was at camp and when I got home she said "Ummmm by the way, I threw away this big ball of dryer sheets. What on earth were you keeping them for?" I was freaked out for weeks thinking our house was going to catch fire in the middle of the night and I'd be stuck because she threw away my fire escape. Yeah, kids that age aren't exactly logical. :-)
It's funny that you thought of using dryer sheets as a fire escape, but of course, the thought of having to escape from a fire is scary stuff! I've got a giveaway on my review blog right now for a signed copy of Firefighter Dayna's book Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog along with some fire safety items from First Alert (valued over $100). And yes, it includes a fire escape ladder made from material other than dryer sheets! You may have seen Firefighter Dayna and Sparkles on tv on Sprout. You can check out the giveaway HERE!

And for a chance to win a 4-pack of tickets to Disney on Ice, Let's Celebrate here at the Allstate Arena in Chicagoland, as well as a coupon code good for discounted tickets, click HERE.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I've had a sore throat since Friday morning. I had a high fever for the first three days. Now I have pink eye to top it off. Unfortunately, so does Brooklyn and she cried the full two hours I was at high school orientation with Savannah tonight. In fact, the kids called me, "You HAVE to come home, Mom! Brooklyn's eyes hurt!" Savannah gave me a look like, "You're not really going to skip out on my orientation, are you?" It sucks to be pulled in different directions and want to do everything you can for your kids, but in the end, you just can't. I hope when they're older, that they know I did all I possibly could for them.

Anyway, Brooklyn's still crying on and off. I think it's going to be a long night. I think it may be about time for me to break down and get a stupid throat culture too. Maybe. But for now, I need sleep.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Breakfast is Served!

My mom jokes around that she married the only Greek who not only doesn't own a restaurant, but can't boil water. I fear for my children's spouses and have vowed to teach all my kids how to cook. Well, I've taught them a few things and Alton Brown has filled them in on the rest. Honestly, my kids love to watch The Food Network. I think some of them aspire to set foot in kitchen stadium and become the next Iron Chef. Still, at this point in time, some of them could easily end up being contestants on The Worst Cook in America. Have you seen this show? The first show, a guy boiled a whole chicken, ladled a little spaghetti sauce over it and plopped a piece of Swiss cheese on top of it. Voila! Dinner is served. Anyway...

Today Lexi made toast.

Now, it isn't entirely her fault. Obviously someone had messed with the darkness setting on the toaster. But, for the love of toast, why is there even such a dial on a toaster??? How many people, do you think, purposely set their toasters to "char", "torch", or "ignite"? Nobody does this! No one! Not a single person in America likes their toast incinerated. I mean, look at the picture! That's WAY beyond scraping with a knife. There's no saving that toast. In fact, it's 10:00 at night and my house still smells like burnt toast. I really want to know if there's a purpose for the "toast doneness selector" and if so, WHAT? Why is this appliance manufactured with an option to completely destroy your breakfast? Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Importance of Sleep

I know that getting enough sleep is important. Researchers have found that people who don't get enough sleep at night are drowsy during the day (duh), and more likely to nod off at stop lights or doing things like watching TV. People who don't get enough sleep suffer cognitive impairments, coordination problems, and are less likely to lose weight. And let's not forget about the grumpiness factor. People who don't sleep well are grumpy and irritable, and don't cope as well with life's little annoyances like the stupid person who cut me off at the mall today because she thought I had a stop sign, but if she'd taken one second to read HER stop sign, she would've seen the words, "2 WAY STOP. CROSS TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP", but noooo, she was too busy talking on her stupid cell phone to pay attention to insignificant details like that, so I had to slam on my breaks and I may or may not have called her an unsavory name that shocked my kids. Ahem.

So, as I was saying, sleep is important and this point was reinforced to me today. Oh not because of my reaction to the stupid driver who shouldn't have a license and really I think at least 85% of people on the road today shouldn't have licenses and I'd love to take them all away from stupid people because it, quite frankly, amazes me that they were even given licenses in the first place because really, how do people who can't see over the steering wheel and have the reflexes of a sloth even get a license in the first place?!!! deep cleansing breath

As I was saying, once again, sleep is important. I'm not actually talking about me here, believe it or not. I'm used to utter sleep deprivation. I'm talking about my kids. When Jackson doesn't get a good night's sleep, he's guaranteed to throw an all-out temper tantrum the next day. I mean, knocking holes in his door, whipping toys around his room, and pretty much just raging out of control. The signs are a little more subtle in my other kids, however. When Austin is tired, he just babbles incessantly about nothing in particular until we're all ready to duct tape his mouth shut. Today, we were all reminded of how Lexi acts when she's tired.

Clayton taunted Lex while they were playing Dance Dance Revolution and said that she stunk at it. Lex, who would ordinarily have rolled her eyes at Clay and told him that he stunk more than a skunk, stomped off to her room and started dramatically crying. This went on for some time until I threatened persuaded her to knock it off by telling her that if she couldn't get a grip, that I'd have to drive her friend home. She got a grip.

Then, on the way to the store to get her glasses which we didn't even get because I left her prescription at home and then had to drive back home to get it and then Lex picked out the most expensive frames in the store and I drove her to a second store to see if they had comparable frames that wouldn't require a second mortgage, but they didn't, so we went back to the first store and learned that it was cheaper to get 2 pairs for some reason so we left to get Jackson so he could pick out a new pair too, but then it was getting late and I had to get dinner for the kids and it was taking me forever because there were so many stupid drivers in my way. Oh yeah, back to Lexi.

So, there we were, on our way to the vision store when Lexi opened the case for her glasses and screamed. "Where are my gum wrappers?!" she screeched from the back row.

"I threw them out," I answered, thinking I'd done her a favor. When I grabbed her case as we headed out the door, I saw that there were a dozen or so foil gum wrappers in her case. I tossed them in the garbage can and handed Lexi her case.

"I was collecting those!" she wailed like I'd just killed her puppy. I mean, she doesn't actually have a puppy (and not because I killed it or anything.) She just doesn't have one. But if she DID and I killed it (which I would never actually do, of course), this is how she'd wail. I'm pretty sure. This is all hypothetical. I'm really tired.

"Why were you collecting those?" I asked in bewilderment.

In between great sobs, she choked out her profound reason. "Because."

OK then. "Well, Lexi, I just threw them away. I guess you can get them out of the garbage can if you must."

"But they're in the smelly garbage!" the last word said with utter disdain.

"Lexi, the gum wrappers ARE smelly garbage!" I retorted.

Big mistake. Big. Huge. She cried over her precious garbage gum wrappers for half an hour.

What's the lesson here? "One man's trash is another's treas...." oh wait, that's not it. "Don't take half a dozen kids shopping for eyeglasses when..." Nope, that's not right. "Don't throw away your kids' crazy collections..." Hmmm, "Get enough sleep so you're not cranky when stupid people cut you off in traff...." Oh yeah, it's "Make sure you put the kids to bed by 6:00pm so they don't go nuts over garbage the next day!"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, where we once had a mall that housed a hotdog stand in the shape of a giant shoe it's Sunday Sound Out starring your host, one of Babble's top 50 bloggers of 2009, Dawn Meehan. Seriously, I am. I'm number 35, in fact. Check it out HERE!

How do you/your town cope with loads of snow? What about driving etc.
Life goes on. Snow (even lots of it) doesn't usually affect much. We've never had (that I can recall) a delayed start for school. In fact, school almost never closes for snowfall. Occasionally, school will close for extreme cold (below 0), but that's about it.

You did not? Honestly! Please tell me you just threw in the last two sentences for the whole fun of it! [going back to the dermatologist in 4 weeks]
Yes, I am going back, but only for Austin's arm. Don't worry, they didn't suck me in to their world of plastic faces.

You can take homemade goodies to school?! Awesome! We have to rely on store bought that make it easy but not very tasty or original.
Oh wow. That stinks. Yeah, we can make homemade stuff here. I should've talked to the teacher beforehand though. It was another girl's birthday and she brought in cupcakes on Friday also. That meant that all the girls took one of her cupcakes and all the boys took one of Clay's. He (as well as the girl, I'm sure) came home with a container full of cupcakes. I didn't have to stay up until 2:00 afterall! I could've made them for him to bring to school on Tuesday. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.

Proud of you for going for another mammo, didn't you have trouble last time?
I didn't exactly have trouble. It was my first one, so I had to go back for more and more pictures and finally an ultrasound so they could get an accurate baseline. It was the most action I've had in years!

First of all, I have never got the cool nipple stickers and I am a bit intrigued by this. Is it for those that are modest and don't want anyone to see their nipples? I think the tech seeing my nipples is the least of my worries since, she practically feels me up and I don't even get a drink out of it.
LOL! Umm, no. They're fairly small. I don't think they'd cover up anything! Here's the answer from the expert....

I'm an x-ray tech and I can shed light on the mystery of the nipple stickers!! The tiny bb on the sticker is so the radiologist reading the mammo knows for sure what they are seeing is the nipple. (and yep, it goes directly on the nipple!) When you look at a mammo image there are lots of shades of gray and the radiologist has to be able to pick out what should be there (a nipple shadow) vs something that shouldn't (a lump, cyst, etc.) We even have different stickers for scars and big moles!(shapes in stead of bb's).

What is Brooklyn going to do when she grows out of those pink boots?
Obviously, we'll search the globe for another pair in a larger size.

I miss your Sunday Sound-out. I was wondering how you and Joe are doing? I know you guys had a rough patch a few months back. Hope all is well and you feel better. LOVE your blog. My favorite! :)
Things suck in many ways, but the kids and I are doing pretty well despite that. Can't go into details now. Actually, I think I have enough details to fill another book. Hmmm, a book... (the wheels are spinning now)

I'm sure you're all aware of the horrific earthquake in Haiti. Haiti is such a poor country to begin with and is so poorly equipped to deal with devastation of this magnitude (officials are estimating death tolls to hit 100,000). It is such an overwhelming task to not only search and rescue, but set up makeshift hospitals to care for the injured and get food, water, medical aid, and other supplies in to Haiti and distributed among those who need it. If you can help at all, please do. They need all the help they can get. Here are some sites taking donations -


Compassion - you can find a banner to put on your blog to help spread the word on this page also.

The American Red Cross


Doctors Without Borders

When you donate to help Haiti, stick with one of these (or other organizations you know to be legitimate) and beware of scams.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mammograms and Hot Cross Buns

This week has been fairly typical, but I feel like I've been running nonstop. Along with the usual, Lex and Jax had an appointment with the eye doctor on Monday. Lex's eyes are continuing to improve on their own which is a good thing, but now she needs new glasses again. Tuesday was band practice for Jackson, a dermatologist appointment for Austin and a confirmation meeting at the church for Savannah. Last night I had a mammogram appointment and I didn't really want to drag all the kids to that, so I paid Austin and Savannah to babysit and they did an awesome job. And by "they", I mean Savannah did an awesome job while Austin sat around playing video games.

So, I got to the medical center and I donned my snazzy purple gown and even remembered to put it on with the opening in front this time. (I have no idea what kind of idiot would put a gown on with the opening in back when they're getting a MAMMOGRAM. Ahem.) The technician took me in a room, and after asking me a few questions, plopped my left boob on the tray, and bent my right arm. Then she folded my fingers around a handle and told me to hold on. Then she moved my hips over and turned my head. Then she had me stand on one foot and put my other hand on my head. Then she had me do the hokey pokey and turn myself around (while my boob was still on the tray). Finally, came the fun part where the machine came down and squished me flat. Well, as flat as someone with big boobs can get which is still surprisingly flat. Before she snapped my picture, she told me not to move. Really? Don't move? Where was I going to go??? My boob was being held in a vice. If I moved anywhere, it was going to cause a serious medical emergency because I was pretty sure my boob would stay behind in the machine.

Honestly, I don't want to scare anyone from making that appointment and getting that mammogram done. I mean, it wasn't exactly fun having a stranger plop my boobs on the tray and I didn't really enjoy having them squished in a vice, but as uncomfortable as it might be, it really doesn't hurt. Not fun - true. Painful - really not. My aunt Vasiliki is a breast cancer survivor. Early detection is so important. So just go do it. As a bonus you'll get some funky cool nipple stickers too! (And one of these times, I'll remember to take them off before leaving.)

(Don't worry, they're just on my arm here.)

And tonight, Savannah and Jackson had a band concert. It's amazing the difference between the 5th grade band (how many times can you hear Hot Cross Buns without wanting to jab a drumstick in your ear?) and the highest level 7th/8th grade band. Wow! Brooklyn played games on my phone, squirmed around, and accidentally kicked the poor woman in front of me 8000 times. Sorry. Brooklyn, watch your feet. I'm so sorry. Brooklyn! Your feet! Oh please excuse us! I'm sorry! Brooklyn, watch your feet!!! I'm SOOO sorry! Of course she was wearing her pink cowboys too. Ugh.

Clay has missed the last 2 days of school because he has pink eye. His birthday is Saturday, so I'm staying up all night, baking him cupcakes to take to school tomorrow. He wants a Pirates of the Caribbean theme for his birthday so I'm putting little Jolly Rogers on them. A skull and crossbones - how appropriate for Clay, huh? One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns. (Sorry, I can't get that out of my mind and well, I like to share.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How to Fix Parenthesis

I took Austin to a dermatologist today. He had something on his elbow that I thought was probably a wart. I didn't want to go get some over-the-counter medicine and treat it myself though for fear that it wasn't in fact a wart and I'd be putting salicylic acid on a spot of skin cancer or something. And if I had even mentioned the possibility there was a wart on Austin's arm, I just know my mom would've told me to put a tomato on it. My dad, the Greek, might have suggested Windex just because he's seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding too many times. But I could just see the doctor reprimanding me, "Well, he'd be just fine if someone hadn't burned a hole through the cancer and made it spread to his entire arm."

Anyway, after filling out some paperwork, we sat in the waiting room where a 50,000 inch TV played infomercial after infomercial about Botox and Microdermabrasion. I briefly glanced at the TV and rolled my eyes. Why do people subject themselves to this? Are wrinkles really that bad? Looking at the "before" pictures, I honestly couldn't see anything wrong with the women that required fixing. I glanced back at the TV as I heard them excitedly assured me that with Botox, I'd still be able to smile, frown, and look surprised. Oh yeah. Sign me up for that. I especially like the part where they let me know I'll be able to make a variety of facial expressions. You know, just in case I was considering the procedure, but that was the one thing holding me back - worrying that I wouldn't be able to convey my feelings of surprise to others. The voice on the TV continued, letting me know that it shouldn't look like I have parenthesis on my face. Parenthesis? I thought they were "laugh lines". I like "laugh lines" better than parenthesis. Laugh lines are like a badge of honor. A medal, or trophy of sorts received for living life well and enjoying it.

I dismissed the infomercials and asked Austin how the meeting with his counselor went today. He told me that he'd signed up to take Japanese next year. That's right. The kid who doesn't want to do any homework is going to learn a foreign language and not just any foreign language, but a language that has a whole 'nother alphabet! An alphabet that looks like chicken scratches to my untrained eye. Very pretty chicken scratches, but still, characters that are completely indiscernible to me. Yeah, sounds like a good plan. "You know, Austin. Japanese is going to be pretty hard to learn. And where are you going to use it? Why didn't you take Spanish or French? I think they'd be much easier to learn and you'd probably have a better opportunity to use them. By the time you get to your third year of Japanese, I have a feeling it's going to be really difficult."

"Oh, I won't get to my third year," he informed me. "I have a better plan. I need 3 years of language, so I'm just going to take Japanese 1, then I'll switch to French 1, then I'll switch to Italian 1. I'll never have to take a hard class."

SIGH "Oh Austin," I lamented, shaking my head. You do realize that once you start to get the hang of the language, you'll be moving on and starting ALL OVER AGAIN, don't you? Not to mention the fact that you won't come close to fluency in any of the languages so it's really not going to do you much good."

Our conversation was interrupted by the receptionist who told us that her son, a senior in high school, was taking German, going to Germany this summer, and hosting a foreign exchange student from Germany this spring. We started talking and somewhere along the way, she mentioned that she had 5 kids and the senior in high school was her youngest.
After my jaw actually hit the floor, I closed my mouth and blurted something classy like, "There is NO way you have 5 kids and the youngest is a senior!"

She insisted that her oldest was 30 and she had a grandchild. She didn't look much older than 30 herself! After picking my jaw up off the floor again, I turned back to the TV and the Botox commercial and gave it my rapt attention, taking notes, even.

So, we were taken back to a room where we met the doctor who looked like a life-sized Barbie doll - tall, thin, blond, flawless skin. I immediately hated her asked her how she was going to treat Austin's arm. She described the treatment plan which included cream, lasers, and duct tape. I think that's what she said anyway. I was too busy trying to figure out if she'd had Botox to really pay attention. After she talked about the treatment, she looked at Austin and asked him, "What are you doing for the acne?" He stared at her blankly. First off, his face really isn't bad. He has a little acne, like most teenagers, now and then. It's certainly nothing that has ever bothered him. He kinda shrugged his shoulders and told her that he sometimes washed his face. OK then. She said she couldn't let him see a dermatologist and not even bring up the subject, so she gave him a bag full of samples of acne medicine.

Then she turned to me and said something like, "This cream plumps up wrinkles too if you want to try it." Then she scrutinized my face and kinda shook her head like I was a lost cause beyond the help of even Botox. My hand immediately flew to my forehead where I quickly brushed my bangs in my face, then I carefully and strategically placed my hand over the lower part of my face to cover my "parenthesis".

The trip ended with with some snazzy blue safety glasses, a laser, and the smell of burning flesh. I can't wait to take him back in 4 weeks.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Post About Nothing

So, I've been driving my older kids, who usually walk, to school because it's been so cold and snowy. Today, after dropping Austin off, I watched him walk into the school and I noticed something odd. He didn't swing his arms. He's like Molly Shannon when she was a guest on Seinfeld. "It's like she's carrying invisible suitcases." Seriously. I mentioned it to him tonight and asked, "What's up with that?" He kinda laughed and said, "Someone just told me that same thing last week!"

That started a whole debate on whether it was normal to swing your arms or not. That deteriorated into a demonstration of just how hard it is to swing your left arm while stepping forward with your left foot and to swing your right arm while stepping with your right foot. Don't believe me? Try it. I'll wait. (insert whistling) Back? See what I mean? You look like some deranged Frankenstein's monster while trying to walk that way. For extra fun, walk that way all day tomorrow. Walk that way down the aisles of Target, at work, walking to pick your kids up from school. It'll be fun. See how many people ask you if you're having medical problems and report back to me.

Anyway, I assured my son that I wasn't making fun of him (after I quoted Seinfeld a couple more times, that is. "Her arms just hang like salamis." "She walks like an orangutan.") I told him that it was no big deal because people have different styles of walking, but I was curious. I wanted to know if he consciously held his arms at his sides or if it came naturally to him to walk that way. He said it just came naturally to walk that way at school. His theory was that he needs to walk really quickly between a couple of his classes because they're so spread out and he tends to keep his arms straight when he's walking quickly.

Honestly, as he walked into school, he wasn't exactly moving at a sprint, however. In fact, he looked a little like he was heading to his own execution. His head was slightly downcast as he slowly made his way into the torture chamber that is high school.

Ever the scholar, still curious and wanting to waste time, I had to google this. I learned basically that scientists (after they got lots of money to research this, no doubt) have discovered that people tend to swing their arms when walking because it helps with balance. Wow! It's amazing what these scientists come up with. What would we do without that information? Oh, I know! We could spend the money that goes to idiotic research and use it for discovering cures to multiple diseases. Just a thought. But then we wouldn't be able to make fun of those who spend billions to study really important things like whether a pack of baboons could teach themselves how to drive a car, or what the best cereal to milk ratio is for the perfect bowl of cereal, or how badly does smashing your thumb with a hammer really hurt or can an armadillo embroider his name on a potholder. (You know the scary thing? Someone probably DID receive millions to study these very things!)

So, in the end, I learned that my son carries imaginary suitcases when he walks into school and there are a lot of scientists who get paid to research asinine things and that my blog, much like the earlier quoted Seinfeld, does not have a point. It's a blog about nothing.

Sunday Sound Out

Love the smoke detector on the ceiling in the last picture.
Oh, thanks for the reminder! It was still hanging open, battery removed! It's been like that since I tried to burn down the house Christmas day!

I noticed that you labeled one of Austin's picture with a "Aj". Is this a nickname or has your teenager decided to change his name?
It's a nickname. I think I'm the only person who ever calls him AJ and he doesn't like it when I do. Actually, I don't really call him AJ. I run it together and say it like "AGE".

Are those African clawed frogs, perhaps received from the Grow-a-Frog company? I have no flippin clue. They're tiny frogs from Denise on Long Island.

Is that stove Harvest Gold??!!? Sweetie, it's maybe time for a NEW one?!
Yep! Why get a new one? I'm waiting for Harvest Gold and Avocado Green to come back in style.

Hmmm...did the bottle of wine at the side of the stove contribute in any way to the near catastrophe?
That bottle wasn't even opened. Maybe that was the problem. I should have been drinking!

How can I convince my husband to have more kids?
Well, first off, don't let him read this blog.

So, if you were to do a Sunday SHout Out and someone asked you where they could donate a pint of blood, where would you suggest they go to? I'm just curious if that were to come up and who you might recommend? hee hee, I am so not very subtle here am I?
Yeah, yeah, I get it, Manic. What my notsosubtle friend, Stephanie is trying to say is that she's hosting her 3rd annual blood drive over on Manic Mommy. Check out the details HERE! For every pint donated, 3 lives will be saved. And not only that, but when you donate blood and submit a picture of you donating to Stephanie over at Manic Mommy, you'll be entered to win some fabulous prizes, including round-trip airfare on Southwest Airlines! Check it out!

I've been looking for the winner of the pearl give-away. Did that happen?
Yep, HERE.

For Christmas we got 22" of snow, and 30 below with wind chills of 50 below. Don't suppose this would tempt you away from Chicago??!!
Every morning, I crawl out of bed and begin the rounds of dropping 5 kids off at school. Every day, I ask my kids, "Have I mentioned how much I hate mornings? Have I mentioned how much I hate winter? Have I mentioned how much I hate winter mornings?" to which they reply, "Yeah, every stinkin day, Mom!" So, I'm thinking you can keep your 50 below thankyouverymuch.

And over on my review blog, I'm giving away 2 bags filled with Suave haircare products! You can enter to win (and check out pictures of Brooklyn's first haircut) HERE.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's That Time of Year

It's time for my annual list of New Year's resolutions. I'm happy to report that I kept every single one of last year's resolutions. Oh yes, I did! No, I'm not being sarcastic! I really, truly did keep my resolutions for the first time ever. OK, ok, for those of you who are new to my blog, you can read my list of resolutions HERE. See? I told you I kept them.

But, despite the fact that I kept my resolutions, I feel like I really didn't accomplish anything by doing that. So, this year, I have a new list to completely ignore keep.

1. The ever-popular "Lose Weight and Get in Shape" resolution, AKA: The Eat Salads for a Week and Then Give up and Scarf Down a Whole Pizza resolution. Seriously, this one is really important to me this year. I'm going to turn, I'm going to turn a certain age that comes after thirty-nine in a couple months. I have a preliminary weight-loss goal I'd like to reach by my birthday. The fact that I throw up and or feel like I'm having a heart attack if I eat garbage-y food (and refuse to go to the doctor to get my gall bladder checked out) is another big reason for changing habits.

2. I will try really, really hard to get 8 hours of sleep at night. And I'll try really, really, REALLY hard to get out of bed early enough so I don't have to get all the kids ready for school in 2.7 minutes. And I'll be pleasant and cheerful in the morning. I won't walk around with my eyes closed, finding my way to the coffee maker simply by feeling my way along the countertop. I won't grunt in response to my kids' questions. I won't put my hand over Brooklyn's mouth when she starts incessantly babbling away about anything and everything on earth before the sun even comes up! Oh, who am I kidding? Like that'll ever happen. Let's be realistic here. Hmmm, I'll try to get 4 hours of sleep at night and I'll continue to be silent in the mornings because it's better than yelling at everyone to shut up and let me go back to bed.

3. I will stop procrastinating. (You can see how well that's going considering it's the 6th and I'm just now writing out my New Year's resolutions today.) I know what I'll do! Instead of calling it procrastination which sounds so negative and nasty, I'll just call it "selective action". Yes, that's better.

Voila! My New Year's Resolutions are done. Time for bed. Oh wait! I don't have to go to bed yet. I only need to get 4 hours of sleep. I can stay up and procrastin, um, selectively take action on the chores I need to do.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Some Sort of Sound Out

I know, I know, it's been weeks since I've answered viewer mail. Maybe I should make "regular blogging" one of my resolutions. Hmmm, speaking of resolutions... I think that should be my next post. Yes, if I put my resolutions in writing, I'll be more likely to stick to them. Yes, yes, that's the ticket! Oh who am I kidding? By putting my resolutions in writing, all I'll be doing is letting the whole world (or my tens of readers) know what a loser I am for not keeping them.

I like the tryptophan-laden meal idea but I have a question-- will your troop of turkeys eat turkey? What else has tryptophan? Inquiring minds want to know these things! ;)
My kids eat whatever I make. Honestly, they're not very picky, thankfully. (Well, except for Brooklyn, that is. She only consumes chocolate milk. But she's my 6th and I'd given up by the time I got to her.) Then again, I've never played short-order cook. I've always made them try at least one bite of whatever's on their plates. If I've cooked something I know they really don't like, I'll let them make themselves a sandwich or warm up left-overs instead, but I don't make multiple things.
As far as what else has tryptophan... I have no clue. Ask Alton Brown.

Sorry I haven't been checking your review blog lately, but I thought you were going to consolidate your two blogs into one after seeing the results of your reader survey a few months ago?
I actually consolidated the 2 blogs over a year ago. The reason I recently separated my main blog from my review blog once again was because I opted to put some ads on my main blog. Because of these ads, I need to place my reviews and giveaways on a separate review blog. I'm sorry for any inconvenience.

Can you tell me what kind of flooring is in the kids rooms and where you got it? We are looking for something similar and I'm having a hard time finding anything!
Hmmm, I think we got it from Century Tile and it's just commercial grade flooring. So far, I really like it. It's easy to clean. Although, without a good sized area rug, it's pretty cold this time of year. Get something with flecks of color in it to hide scuffs and crayon marks!

is the Ice Cream magnet on your "fridge" new?
Nope. The ice cream dripping down the inside of my freezer is pretty new, however. I should probably clean that.

Have you ever thought of being a speaker at Women of Faith? Check it out, it's a fabulous time. Anita Renfroe was there this year, hilarious (sp?).
Nope, speaking in front of people makes me want to throw up, but it's on my wish-list of events I'd like to attend. :)

I'm jealous. We hardly ever get snow since we live in central Arkansas. :) Think you could send some my way??
I'll not only send you "some", but I'll generously send you ALL of it! And the below-freezing temperatures, as well! It's that nice of me?

I heard Chicago was snowed in.
Chicago doesn't get snowed in. It doesn't matter how much falls, life goes on here.

awesome snowman! i wish i lived in the snow! wanna trade? wine country calif. for snow? oh, pick me, pick me!
Oooo! Sorry, Central Arkansas, I just got a better offer! I'm moving to California!

Hey Dawn, this is a question totally unrelated to this post but I was just wondering your thoughts on this (maybe you can do a post to get some discussion going.) We have 5 kids ... 3 under 5 and then my husband has two older kids from his first marriage (they're 14 and 18.) It seems like every year we sink farther into debt over Xmas presents - we've spent a little more than 1600$ on JUST the five of them. Do you abide by a limit - do you tell your kids what that limit is? How do you come up with that limit? I know you can't discuss that with the younger ones, but for the older ones who are wanting more expensive things (my 14 year old stepson wanted either an iPod touch or a PS3) what do you think is a normal "amount" to spend on Christmas presents? Do you base it on your salary? If so, do you feel you have to "top" it each year (I feel like this is what my husband thinks he has to do. We spent about 250 on each kid last year, this year it's well over 300 each.) And it's the same for birthdays - it's more than 100$ for each kid on their birthday now. It just seems to me like we're making it too "easy" on kids by letting them have this ridiculously expensive stuff. It just seems like any "meaning" goes away because on Christmas morning all I'm doing while everyone is opening up their presents is adding up in my head what we're going to owe the credit card company. I'd be curious as to yours and other people's thoughts on what they do for Christmas.
Well, I've personally never had a lot of money to spend on Christmas, so it hasn't been an issue. I don't have any credit cards so I'm not tempted to spend beyond my means. I don't think there's any one amount that is "right", however, if you're going into debt and feeling sick about it and Christmas is more about stuff than celebrating Christ's birth, than I'd have to say it's too much.
I talked about Epiphany (Three Kings Day) in Sunday school this past week. It's celebrated the 12th day after Christmas in countries like Mexico, Italy, Spain, and Syria among others. This is the major gift giving holiday for them. Christmas is more about celebrating Jesus's birth. Gifts are given on Three Kings Day to represent the gifts of the Magi. There's something I really like about that idea. (Besides being able to take advantage of the post-Christmas sales!) We could just go to church on Christmas and have dinner with family and then I could give the kids some gold and tree sap incense on Epiphany. Voila! Although, I don't think they'd really go for that idea.

And finally, thank you all so much for reading and commenting on the Pearls of Christmas stories. Nearly 1,000 people entered the contest to win the pearl necklace - amazing!
We're excited to announce that Carol from Carol's Notebook won the necklace!
Carol left a comment on Freda Man's blog!

Also, we'll be giving away 5 copies of the Pearl Girls book this week on the Pearl Girls' blog. All you need to do to be entered is leave a comment before 1/8/10.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Even Super Heroes Need Sleep

"Ni-night Brooklyn. Come here and give me a kiss goodnight. What the...??? Oh, excuse me, BatGirl. I was looking for Brooklyn so I could kiss her goodnight. Have you seen her? No? Very well then. Carry on. Rid the world of evil. Just make sure you're asleep by 8:00."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Year in Review

January brought a trip to the Wisconsin Dells where we saw a Billy Ray Cyrus look-alike complete with mullet.  I started an exercise regimen which included me cursing at a smiling Kathy Ireland on TV while I sweated and stomped around clutching my chest.  I had my my first orientation meeting at the high school and I excitedly looked forward to Austin entering the world of higher education, and, finally, while working on my book at the library, I convinced myself I was being stalked by a weirdo when it was actually just the librarian's reflection.


In February, I lost my voice and spilled coffee down my front, burning my boob, and forgot to pack pants before speaking at a baby expo in Wisconsin.  My ears bled at the kids' band concert,  I was reminded of why you should never take a shower while your kids are awake lest you emerge from the shower to find every surface in your house covered in glue.


March brought a lot of fun things!  For example, Fed Ex showed up with a box of my very first book!  An Indiana Jones figure made a great escape from Brooklyn's digestive tract, we discovered where my kids acquired their amazing, artistic talent, and Clayton did an experiment to see if water, dirt, and bananas would explode while I contemplated running away from home!


My book officially launched in April and I cut a hole in the pants I wore to my first book signing!  I took a little trip to Atlanta to promote my book, and Austin learned (sorta) how to care for a baby.


I took a little trip to Disney World in May.  I also learned a foreign language,  and discovered Clay's new "pet".


In June, I asked the age-old question - where do all the socks go?  Clay grew armpit hair and caught a fly with his bare hands.


Clay ran away from home with a wagon, a basketball & his bike, I <del>totally freaked out</del> was surprised when a boy said hi to Savannah, and Clay learned to walk on water (in the bathroom sink).


August brought another camping trip because I'm just a glutton for punishment that way, and a short jaunt to NYC where I saw many weirdos in Times Square.


In September, Brooklyn taught me how to expand my wardrobe.  I got to experience my first stress test, and we took a fun-filled trip to St. Louis.


Austin flunked out of high school, and Clay grew a mustache in the middle of the grocery store in October.  And the kids all managed to get the swine flu.


In November, I taught people how to use self check-outs, and hang up their coats


I realized I was a coat rack in December, and Clay explained how to cook a turkey in 16 minutes.  Then I helped my dentist pay for his Christmas presents.


Yep, that about sums it up.  I wonder what 2010 will bring...

Computers are Stupid and Evil

I've been trying to put together a year-end post, but my stupid computer keeps acting all wonky. I'm about ready to throw it out my window except that I can't afford a new one right now. I'm hoping to get it working ok tomorrow so I can post something before everyone forgets me!
I'll be back soon. Until then...

(insert elevator music)

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