Monday, April 25, 2011

Never alone.

Once upon a time, I was lonely.

I remember those days. I used to hang out in busy places so that I could feel less lonely while being alone. I used to do things like soul-search, acknowledge the sky, and finish entire meals without getting out of my chair 3 to 5 times. (Does anyone else think that food tastes different when you're standing up than it does when you're sitting?)

I used to understand the desire to own a dog.

But now, 12 years later, those memories are fading. This is what happens when I try to get some time to myself now:

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Here I am, resting on the couch, thinking maybe I'll check in on my brain and see what she's been up to lately. We've got this move (hopefully) coming up and I need to get organized.

Just when I'm in the midst of having a design breakthrough regarding the dining room, a little friend shows up.

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Hi, friend. He's always about 3 inches away from my nose.

I love my little friend, but he doesn't do too well with the social back-and-forth of discussing things yet, especially when it comes to interior decor options.

He thinks that the red wall paper should stay.

After climbing on my leg and shoving his pointy little elbow into my shin five times as he gets situated, he suddenly bolts up and runs into the other room. One by one, he brings me some more friends. Their fuzziness mitigates the sharp bones, so they're a welcome addition.

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Hey look, there's the cat, too.

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At this point, the other children are alerted to my whereabouts and my brief moment of silence on the couch comes to a high-pitched end.

It's nice to be loved. One day I'm going to miss those bony elbows. I think that one day I'll concede that sleeping through the night isn't worth the absence of little people in the house. For better and for worse, I'm never lonely anymore.

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That goes for both of us.

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On a completely unrelated note, I've installed this fancy comment thing on my blog that allows me to reply to individual comments (yay!) If you are having trouble with it, can't get it to work, or think it's terribly annoying, please let me know so that I can poke around in the HTML and pretend that I know what I'm doing. Thanks. :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter FAIL

You know, the best-laid plans often fail. But sometimes, the opposite seems to be true and the worst-laid plans succeed.

This year, I did it all wrong. There was little preparation. The "decorating" was... lacking. The food was less than special.

You might remember my Easter post from last year.

Last year's Easter buffet spread:

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This year's sad attempt:

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(The children left carrots and a bowl of water out for the Easter bunny. I wonder if the bunny knows that the reindeer got cookies and milk with their carrots. He should file a complaint.)

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Last year's fabulous table:

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This year's sorry Easter dinner comparison:

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Between my pneumonia, the baby's first ear infection, and my husband's fever of 102, we weren't doing so hot this year. Well, at least not metaphorically.

Yet somehow, the holiday was not a complete failure.

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The children were thrilled that we got to decorate/impale eggs and celebrate Easter a day earlier than everyone else, thanks to Dad's unforgiving schedule.

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That evening, while trying to get the children to go in their respective rooms and actually stay there, I had a discussion with them about the true meaning of Easter. I asked them if they knew what the term "resurrection" meant. After detailing what happened to Christ at the tomb I explained that the reason why we celebrate is because Christ made it possible to be forgiven, and we can all be resurrected and live again with our families after we die. My daughter became excited.

"Even Tiny will be resurrected!?"

"Yes, honey."

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Tiny was one of the butterflies from her kit — one of those mesh cage contraptions in which to grow caterpillars and observe the transformation process. Tiny struggled too hard to get out of his cocoon and left his abdomen behind. His wings never expanded and he died a couple of days later. My daughter hosted a party to release the butterflies and to bury Tiny. He now resides in a match box at the back of the yard. My daughter regularly decorates his little grave with mangled flower petals.

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"Will he have his whole body, and be able to fly?"

"Yes. He will!"

Her eyes lit up, and I think for the first time she understood why Easter is a cause to celebrate.

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In the morning, the children forgot it was a special day until they walked downstairs and saw the note and goodies left on the table. They did a few happy jumps and then helped each other find their baskets. (We hide whole baskets instead of individual eggs. The real eggs, well, there's obvious reasons for not hiding those. The chocolate-filled ones — I don't hide those for my own reasons. I know my weaknesses. I know I wouldn't be above eating the chocolate I find in there while vacuuming. In October. While dieting.)

The kids were thrilled with the comparatively simple basket contents this year. There were no little presents in there this time, other than a tub of sidewalk chalk for them to share. But it didn't matter. The chalk was exactly what my daughter wanted, my son had specifically requested eggs with skittles in them, (thanks, dollar store!) and the littlest one was too excited to have plastic eggs to pop open to much care what else was going on.

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While the kids broke out the sidewalk chalk, I made my pitiful Easter breakfast — cinnamon rolls from a can (also from the dollar store, by the way.)

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"Mom, this is the BEST Easter bunny morning EVER!" my four year old son declared. His sister agreed.

Then something even more unbelievable happened. His sister spontaneously offered to give him all of her Skittle-filled eggs, simply because she knew how much he likes them. And then, he gave her all of his chocolate in return, for the same reasons.

It was a good day. A very good day. Even though dinner was a struggle to prepare and not pretty to look at, it tasted great. And today I get to go to church, sing some of my favorite hymns, enjoy left-overs, and sneak chocolate.

Added bonus — yesterday was the last day I had to take my mood/energy/balance altering medications!

Happy Easter, guys!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beaded Bobby Pin Tutorial

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These hair pins are so simple to make. All you need is a computer, a string of flat beads, and a tube of glue. And the patience to wait for your pins to arrive.

A while ago I shared these bobby pins that we made with our youth group at church.

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Before I knew I could order bobby pins for pennies that had a convenient gluing plate already attached, I did these the hard way — with a little circle of felt behind the gem to help glue it to the metal hair pin.

It worked okay, but not great.

So, I did some research. The attachment at the end of the bobby pin is called a glue plate, and after a search for "bobby pin glue plate" I found lots of styles and sizes (and quantities) to choose from. I ended up ordering some from Etsy, for the price of $3.20 for a package of 20 pins, from this seller.

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Once you've got your pins ordered and delivered, it's simply a matter of gluing beads to the glue plate using E6000 (available at craft stores).

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Many stores, including Michael's and Wal-Mart, carry a stunning array of beads.

Prepare the surfaces by sanding both the metal and the back of the bead with sandpaper or steel wool to remove any oils.

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Then place a small dab of glue on both the pin and the bead.

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Wait for 2 to 10 minutes before pressing them together.

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Let the pins dry for 24 - 72 hours before using. Silk flowers, rhinestones, or bows could be glued these little plated pins as well.

(Pardon the dim pictures; I was in a fight against dusk, and the evening won.)

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Wouldn't these be great for birthday parties or baby showers? They could work as nice customizable party favors, or as a cute accent slid onto the invitation itself.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Venting

This short sale business is going to be the end of me.

"We should have the actual approval letter next week."

That's what our realtor said four weeks ago. After jumping at every phone call for days, we finally got this response:

"I just talked to the negotiator, and he'll have something for us the beginning of next week."

We had the pleasure of getting that line two weeks in a row.

"Okay hang in there…the agent talked to the negotiator this evening and was told that we should have it tomorrow."

Tomorrow has come and gone. So has my sanity.

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I need a distraction. I need something to snap me out of this transfixed state, frozen in time with my finger just above the big green "go" button.

I'm paralyzed.

I see things happening around me, people moving on with their lives, my children making plans and drawing on furniture. But It's all just a swirl of motion and chatter while I stand here, still, waiting to push this green button. And there's still a slim chance this deal could fall through. But I can't bear to think about that right now.

It feels like I'm watching a fantastic season finale of my favorite show, but just when it gets truly exciting, the story is brutally cut in half and I have to wait three months to find out what happens. Why do shows do that? Do people really enjoy that feeling of being left hanging?

Sorry to be so moody. I blame the steroids (I've got a case of pneumonia). I can blame the prednisone, right?

Difficulty sleeping; feeling of a whirling motion; increased appetite; increased sweating; indigestion; mood changes; nervousness.

Yeah, that sounds about right. I'm sure the Levofloxacin isn't contributing in a positive way to my grumpiness, either.

Give me a few days. I'll be back to my old self. And I fully realize I have NO RIGHT to be grumpy when I've been so incredibly blessed.

And I promise I won't blog while drugged again. :)


On a happy note, one of my favorite features of the new house:

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The third garage has a door installed in both the front and the back.

I can't wait to get going on the fun house-transforming projects we've been concocting, I have so many ideas for our new space!

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Thai Curry Chicken and Cauliflower - Low Carb(ish)

I've been craving Thai, in curry form. I always crave curry, but this week, the desire was stronger than usual. This probably has to do with the fact that I'm trying to cut down on fats and sugars. (We'll just pretend that vanilla scone(s) incident on Tuesday never happened.)

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Anyway. I was craving curry. Since my Thai-hater husband was at the station, I was free to indulge my low-carb curry cravings. I ran to the grocery store and picked out some fish sauce, curry paste, and some veggies that sounded good at the moment. This recipe is so fluid — you could add any vegetables of your liking, and it would still come out great.

From my calculations each serving has around 22 grams of carbs, unless you use a sugar substitute, which brings it down to about 15 carbs per serving.

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh green beans
2 cups fresh cauliflower (approximately one head)
3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 14 oz can coconut milk
1/2 of an onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoon red curry paste
2 tablespoons yellow curry powder (add more if you like it really spicy)
2 tablespoons sugar (substitute with Splenda to reduce the carb count)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste

Number of Servings: 5

Please note that this recipe comes together a lot easier if the veggies and meat are chopped/grated/minced beforehand.

Begin by preparing the fresh vegetables. Put two medium-sized pots of water to boil, with about an inch of water.

While the water is boiling, rinse the cauliflower in cold water. Trim the florets from off of the stem. Place them into the boiling water, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the cauliflower with the lid slightly ajar for 12 minutes.

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To prepare the green beans, rinse well, trim the ends off and cut them in half.

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Place the green beans in the second pot of boiling water and reduce the heat to low. Cover ajar as well. (Placing the lid ajar while cooking them helps preserve the green color.) Simmer until slightly undercooked, about 10 minutes. They will finish cooking with the rest of the dish.

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While the veggies are cooking, dice half of an onion.

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Chop the boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.

Heat the two tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat for a minute or two and add the onion. Add the tablespoon of red curry paste, 2 cloves crushed or chopped garlic, as well as a tablespoon of chopped or grated ginger (optional).

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Open up the coconut milk and spoon 3 or 4 scoops into the mixture, to help blend the curry paste.

Continue to cook this mixture, keeping a close eye on it so it doesn't burn, until the onions turn translucent. When the onions have softened, add the chopped chicken.

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Meanwhile, keep an eye on the timers for the vegetables. When they finish, pull them off of the heat, drain, and set aside.

Cook the chicken until mostly done; about 8 or 9 minutes, while stirring frequently. Then add the remainder of the coconut milk, the fish sauce, green beans, the tablespoon (or more if you like) of yellow curry powder, sugar, and a dash of salt. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Thin with water if needed.

To prepare the cauliflower, simply drain it and add two tablespoons of butter and salt to taste.

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I like to stir it with a fork to help break the cauliflower down to something like the consistency of rice.

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Serve by placing a large scoop of curry chicken over a bed of cauliflower.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Then and Now

My youngest turned two this weekend!

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How terrible could this year be, with such a silly little guy cast in the role of holy terror?

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Dollar store checklist: 3 packages of "windmill" flowers — dismantled and strung over the table, 2 garlands for the centerpiece, plates, cups, and two rolls of coordinating wrapping paper.

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He thought the cake was very exciting. When he saw it, he gasped in amazement and yelled "COOKIE!!"

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He then tried to touch every strawberry and stab the candles into various surfaces.

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After that, he noticed the presents. "Openenen!" (He likes to add a few extra syllables to the ends of his words; you can never have too many, you know.)

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Tell you what though, this kid is a lousy candle blower-outer. He is SO not getting a wish this year. But that's probably for the best; I know him, and I know that his wish would involve unfettered access to: the yard, the fridge, and my phone. And probably something about being the center of the universe.

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He had two very eager siblings to help him with the difficult task of unwrapping presents.

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As is the custom at our house, his siblings got a present too.

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But once they were finished unwrapping their gifts, they zoomed right back to his side, vying to be the next up to give him something to open.

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(You can almost hear the zooming.)

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He opened that box of crayons and immediately peeled and broke every one of them.

Hey look, we were there, too:

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After opening presents, we headed to Chila Berries for some frozen yogurt goodness.

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Then I sent the kids out to play in the yard while I made the birthday boy his favorite dinner — taco night.

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My daughter's second birthday ended with me collapsing in exhaustion at the end of the day. My oldest son's ended with him melting down from the over-stimulation. This time, I think we finally found the right balance between just another day and way too much work for a birthday party that a child is too young to remember anyway. At the end of the day he was still happy, and so was everyone else.

Added bonus: his decorations can double as Easter season decorations.

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