Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It's All Gravy

Hi foodies! I've started a meal planning & recipe blog over here called It's All Gravy. I've been asked for years to start one so I caved. I grew up calling spaghetti sauce "gravy" (that's what REAL Italians call it) so the name is a nod to my heritage. Plus I'm saucy. Let the food puns begin!

Anyway, check it out and let me know what you think. Pin it and visit regularly! Updates and fun buttons coming soon.

I'll try to remember to blog here more regularly, too.

xoxo, guys!

Sunday, April 6, 2014


As promised in my post from January 4:

"She also bought me a yodeling head at a yard sale once, which is another story for another time."

My grandmother used to buy really odd things at yard sales and flea markets. Funny that she had bought me this really ugly head once, for probably 25¢ or something and now it's going for $50 on Etsy and it doesn't even work. I found several videos on YouTube. Behold, the yodeling head:

Yes. That thing. It blinked, rolled its tongue around, and yodeled — just as shown.

And continued to do so when no one had even touched him. My mom overhead him yodeling in the dark in the basement one day and crept down the stairs to find him just yodeling away on the wall.

So she took the batteries out.

Still he yodeled. He yodeled until his yodeler was broke and all you could hear was the creepy mechanical noises his face made when his various parts moved. You can hear the mechanical noises in the video, below.

She threw him out, despite my pleadings to keep the hideous thing. I think he was still moving in the trash can. He's probably still doing it in some landfill, somewhere. And here I could have made $50 bucks on him if she'd let me keep him.

RIP, Tyrolean Yodeler.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lego Kids Fest

We went to the Lego Kids Fest in Raleigh this weekend for Cody's 11th birthday, as a surprise and... well, the pictures explain themselves. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Mom of the Year Nomination

To whom it may concern:

I hereby nominate myself for Mom of the Year. I believe I meet all necessary criteria. Please review my submission below.

Saturday, February 8, 2014: Grocery shopping trip to Food Lion

The day started out like any other Saturday: bleary-eyed, in a confused state, rummaging through the cabinets for a coffee filter to get the mommy-fuel percolating. You see, I had been up multiple times with my teething, nursing, 10-month-old. I'm tired. So very tired. I haven't slept in four years.

Anyway, I intended to grocery shop in the morning, before 10 AM, so my husband could watch the two small animals children at home, where wild beasts sweet darling offspring should be while mom is grocery shopping. Because small children don't belong in grocery stores, ever. It's more advisable to bring your preschooler to a bar than to a store where edible goods are sold.

Remember the part about my being tired? Right. So, I could not get my body to move until about noon. Finally, the coffee kicked in and I was able to make myself presentable enough to appear human. I got the small children into the van and set off for the store by myself. My husband had to leave to go to play bass at church for the evening services. We arrived at Food Lion at approximately 2:05 PM.

I stupidly selected one of the carts that has a built-in car where you can seat two children next to each other and they each have their own steering wheel. I think those kinds of carts are for hopeful parents, who foolishly believe that their feral creatures children might actually sit next to one another without poking, shoving, biting, punching, or pinching each other.

We made our way through the store, our cart filling up with as much organic and all-natural food as we could afford, until my preschooler spotted the standalone Goldfish with the 10/$10 mini-boxes of GMO-laden cheddar treats. I gave in and picked one out, making sure that the preschooler occasionally handed one over to the baby without elbowing him in the belly or poking a finger into his eye.

I thought I was doing really well — I picked up every item on my list without having to do any aisles multiple times (possibly a first for me) and we'd done it in record time. I headed briskly for the checkout lane with a smug little smirk on my face.

My pace slowed as I started to sift through my bag. It slowed some more as I began to dig a little bit more desperately. Finally I came to a dead halt at the same time that I went into a complete ransacking frenzy in my cavernous Mary Poppins bag. Everything you could need was in there. Except for... my wallet.

My heart sank to somewhere right around my ankles as I remembered bringing it to the desk in my bedroom the previous day so I could pay the bills. My bedroom, which, like most people's, was back at my house. Fifteen minutes up the road. I looked at my Goldfish-munching children, who finally seemed to be getting along, and knew I had to go home for it.

The preschooler threw a conniption when he realized he could not take the Goldfish with him, seeing as how I could not pay for them. We left our full, defrosting cart at customer service and headed for the van.

My preschooler, who has been potty-trained for nearly a year, proceeded to completely wet his pants in the parking lot beside our van as I was strapping his baby brother into his carseat. He launched into full-on hysteria and I realized that the other thing that wasn't in my diaper bag was a change of clothes for him. I picked him up and strapped him into his seat, wet pants and all. We headed home, leaving a small puddle in the parking lot where we had been.

By the time we arrived at our house, both children were fast asleep. The preschooler was snoring and had snot running all the way down his face and drool dripping from his wide-open mouth down his chin. I had a choice now — wake him up to take him inside and clean up his face and get him into dry clothes, or let him sleep. Like any Mom of the Year would, I decided to let him sleep in his urine-soaked clothes with his snotty drool face.

I grabbed my wallet and left once again for the store. When I got there, I was faced with another choice. Wake the children or let them sleep?

Again, I went with the responsible mom choice and parked in the fire lane, flashed my hazard lights, locked the doors behind me, and left my sleeping, drooling children in the van.

The employees of Food Lion had graciously taken my cart into the produce department and parked it in a walk-in cooler, so they retrieved it for me while I watched my van like a hawk through the front window. I ignored the knowing looks they all gave each other and pretended I had no idea they were going to talk about me after I left.

I loaded my van and went home. I carried my preschooler, who had by then spiked a fever, up to bed and tucked him into it after changing everything from his waist down. I put the baby into his highchair with some more of the Goldfish while I put my soggy, warm "frozen" goods into the freezer so they could re-freeze into solid unidentifiable clumps of food mass. Exhausted, I carried the baby upstairs to nurse him.

Changed and nursed, he sat up and grinned at me before throwing up everything he had just consumed all over my shirt and himself. I sighed and put him into the tub. I would like to note here that to add insult to injury, I am also on my period. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to put dinner in the crockpot before we left for Food Lion. The first time, I mean.

Currently, the children are all asleep. My house is a mess and my bathrooms need serious cleaning, but I think I'll continue with today's theme and skip it all to have a nap myself.

Thank you for your time. I hope my submission is sufficient and I look forward to hearing if I have indeed won the Mom of the Year for 2014.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Decade + one

Can we just talk for a minute about how long and how short a decade really is? It sounds so long. A decade. It sounds long the way the word "century" sounds long.

My oldest son is about to turn a decade old... plus one. Eleven years old. Eleven. For some reason, this one is harder to wrap my head around than ten was. Ten was like, whoa, double digits, you're a decade old! And eleven is... I don't even know how to explain it. Most of our friends are really in the early stages of family-starting. Pregnant with or just had their first baby, or else have one or two kids under the age of two, maybe. There's actually just been a huge wave of people (I know at least ten of them) who just got pregnant with their second, and their little ones are only one or two years old. These people are five years away from kindergarten.

Over here, we are five years away from having a driver in the house.

In three point five years, Cody can take drivers ed. To learn to drive a car. A motorized vehicle. I clearly remember taking the classes myself. I remember my first time behind the wheel of the Neon that I drove for my classes. Even had a dream two nights ago that I was driving my first car again - a sweet little '87 Honda Prelude with a sunroof. You guys, my car was almost twelve years old when I bought it at 16. If it were still around (I totaled it when I was 19 - whoops) it would be

twenty seven years old.

My first car was made twenty seven years ago. I graduated from high school fourteen years ago. In six years, the graduating class of 2000 will have their twenty-year reunion. Two decades. It's 2014 now. My son will graduate with the class of 2021. That's... not very far off. Only seven more years. Until my oldest son is in college.

The days are long, but the years are short. To all my friends in the throes of new parenthood, just don't blink. I'm telling you, it goes faster and faster every year. You are going to turn around and find yourself with grandbabies. I'm already working on my grandma name. Don't laugh. It'll happen before I know it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Sleep training" ...or scream training?

Um yeah. So sleep training/crying it out/torture/whatever you call it... It's for the birds, man. The birds or else ruthless parents because holy crap, it's so brutal. And I don't mean brutal like "oh my poor sweet baby, I want to go snuggle him back to sleep" it's more like "I'M GONNA THROW THAT SCREAMING CHILD OUT THE WINDOW ANY SECOND." And to the sector of pro-CIO parents who are all "oh yes, Ferber, blah blah blah, he's so great and my baby was sleeping through the night by the third night and he never cried again" I call shenanigans. You hear me? SHENANIGANS. We're on week three. Guess what time that baby wakes up? 3 am. Guess what time he goes back to sleep? He doesn't. You know why? Because we have a two to three-hour long battle of the wills after that while he tries to tell me he wants to nurse and I try to tell him sorry buddy, you're night-weaned now because momma can't get up every hour to nurse you anymore.

He'll usually lay back down for a few minutes - maybe even as much as 20 minutes. But I know he's awake. And so I can't move so much as an eyelash or else he's up and peering over the edge of the crib and hollering at me to feed him.

And I'm so serious, if one more person tells me "this too shall pass" (especially if it's a mom with one baby who just has no idea what it's like to care for multiple children) I'm telling you, I'm going to let her have it. You know what, genius? I know it'll pass eventually. He is not going to be screaming at me from his bed in high school but right now I'M EXHAUSTED. Right now the last thing I need to hear is it'll be over soon. Because I'm right smack in the middle of it.

And it's not even like all my kids are little. One of them will be in junior high school in less than eight months. I think I only have one other friend with a child that age and that child is her youngest one. None of my friends my age had a baby when I did so I'm really the only one with a kid teetering on the edge of teenagedom. It's hard. I'm not downplaying how hard it must be to have three kids under the age of four or five but I know having one who's about to graduate from elementary school is pretty damn difficult too. There's homework and learning issues and misunderstandings with teachers and ADHD and in at least our case, there's psychologists, psychiatrists, chiropractors, GI doctors, school therapists, meetings and meetings and more meetings. Guess what? Those things are not going to just pass until the child is out of my house and so as far as I can tell, I have close to a decade (or more if he stays through college) left of dealing with that. And I have two more coming up behind him and the youngest one won't let me sleep while the middle one has entered Stage: Terrible Threes and is constantly tearing up my house and beating up the other two.

Do. not. tell. me. this too shall pass. I am not a moron. I know that this is not the rest of my life. But right now it feels like it so do not insult me or invalidate my exhaustion by throwing a half-sympathetic "this too shall pass" at me.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Pros & Cons in Space

This is a guest post by my oldest son, Cody. He is almost 11 and he wrote this list of pros & cons in space.

Pro: Moving in space is very easy.
Con: Once you start moving in a direction, you can't stop.

Pro: There are tons of people ready to help if something goes wrong.
Con: Those people are many miles away... on Earth.

Pro: There is no one to watch you fight in space.
Con: Aliens may pull up, pop some popcorn, and watch the fight.

Pro: There aren't many obstacles in space.
Con: When obstacles do come around, they are generally moving very fast... and are on fire.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Accidentally amazing chocolate chunk cookies

I made these by accident today. I was trying to make this super quick recipe where you use Bisquick instead of half the ingredients you normally put in cookies, but realized I was out of Bisquick... And vanilla extract... And chocolate chips. Halfway through the recipe. So I was basically making caramel out of brown sugar and butter. Whoops.

So I broke into went to my next door neighbor's house and got some vanilla extract, threw in some flour, chopped up a chocolate bar I found in my baking cabinet, and voila.

and they were goooooooooooooood.

Here's the recipe:

Cream these in a mixing bowl:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

Mix in:
1/2 tsp EACH salt, baking soda, and baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour

Once blended, mix in a cup or so of chopped up semi-sweet chocolate. Drop rounded teaspoons onto a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for about 8 minutes. Go make them, now! It *should* make about 3 dozen... unless you and your kids eat a ton of cookie dough like we did, and it only makes 2 dozen... whoops. That good,  folks.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Bon Bons

So I was dyeing my hair tonight, and when I finished I had a couple of Dove chocolates from my Christmas stocking, and I started thinking about the stereotype that stay-at-home moms sit around watching soaps and eating bon bons all day. And I wondered, why bon bons? Why not bacon? I eat bacon. I love bacon. Why not spinach salads or cantaloupe or little cocktail weenies? Why do they eat BON BONS?

I don't know if you remember the ice cream bon bons that were popular in the 80s. They were amazing. Let me refresh your memory, in case you don't remember or were too young because, God forbid, you're reading this and you were born in the 90s and don't have to do things like dye your hair because you have a head full of winter white strands STOP JUDGING ME

At any rate, I present to you: bon bons.

My grandmother used to buy these. I loved them. She gave me one once, and probably immediately regretted it because I asked for them every time I went over. And we'd sit at the table and eat bon bons. I thought we had this special bon bon bond. And then one day, I was at her house and asked for them and she told me that she didn't have any because they found out that bon bons caused cancer and they had stopped selling them. Yes, she really told me that. She told me things like that all the time. I was devastated. I never had a bon bon again. In my life.

(and by the way, now that I'm older I'm sure she just wanted me to back up off her bon bons and I can picture her with her face in the bon bon box after I went home, laughing to herself while I cried myself to sleep that night. She also bought me a yodeling head at a yard sale once, which is another story for another time.)

I'm going to go rinse the dye out of my roots now, since I can't feel my scalp anymore and the freshly dug up bon bon memory makes me want to cry all over again.

RIP, bon bons.

Friday, January 3, 2014


The name "Facebook" is pretty deceiving. 

My mom's been asking me to get back to blogging for, oh, about nine months now. You know, since I had that baby and all. But I had reactivated (and got drawn back into) that dark abyss known as Facebook - the social networking site where a few people ruin the experience for everyone else. I've taken to calling it Face-lessbook: a busy, life-sucking place where people hide behind a smiling profile picture, safe in their pajamas on the other side of two computer screens, and say things they would NEVER dream of saying to someone's face. And it sucks, because I think most people want to catch up with friends, look at pictures, stay in touch. But there's the few, the negative, the ones who put everyone else down. How often do you see it on a picture someone's shared from a public page? It doesn't matter what the picture/page is. It could be a picture of the freaking food pyramid, for crying out loud. And COMPLETE STRANGERS are bickering and name-calling in their comments. I've never seen nastiness displayed so prominently as it is on the internet. The self-righteous spewing. The need to put others down. The unadulterated hatred. It's disgusting. And it's not just happening between strangers. I've lost count of how many threads have been jacked by a few people with strong opinions and how many friends have been lost over it, on others' pages as well as my own. Facebook has ruined several of my friendships in the past. And all because people just seem to drop their filters when there's not a human face in front of them. It's not the way we're meant to communicate, friends. Respect goes a long way in a friendship and there's a severe lack of respect on Facebook.

So that's it. I promise all my posts won't be from such a Debbie downer point of view. I'll do my best to keep the masses entertained as before... Maybe without so much opinion overload.