Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas books that make me cry

Helen's preschool teachers gave each student in her class two books.  However, I think Snowmen At Christmas is for the children (Cute snowmen!  Hidden pictures on each page!), and Tonight You Are My Baby is really for the moms.  It's written from Mary's point of view on the night Jesus was born; the refrain is, "Tomorrow you will be King, but tonight you are my baby...."

I cry every time I read it.  "This star will bring the others and I will start to share.  But tonight you are mine to give my tender care."  This is SO how I felt in the hospital after each birth. You are mine for this 48 hours!  MINE MINE MINE.
Then, the author goes in for the kill with an illustration of Mary nuzzling the baby's head saying,  "I smile into your loving eyes and give you one more kiss./This quiet time with you, my son, is what I'm going to miss.  As I sing a peaceful lullaby, you close your eyes to sleep./This night will be the memory that forever I will keep."

Excuse me.  I need a moment.

Yes, it rhymes and is cheesy.  I don't care. This is exactly how I felt with each newborn, and it makes me cry.  In a good way. Right now it is $100 on Amazon.  Wha?  I'm sure the teachers got a good deal on Scholastic.

For Christmas, my parents are giving Helen A Christmas Like Helen's, which a granddaughter wrote about her grandmother's childhood.  "To have a Christmas like Helen's, you'll need to be born on a Vermont hill farm, before cars, or telephones, or electricity, and be the youngest of seven children."
My mom let me read it ahead of time because there is a page that talks about Helen being sick from scarlet fever and almost dying.  "Your parents will give you a locket with their pictures inside, and your father will carry you out to see the candles on the tree, thinking it will be your last Christmas.   But it won't."

The illustrations are so beautiful and the story makes me weepy.

So, if you want to cry along with me, I recommend trying to read these books aloud to children.  Uh, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Two more gift ideas

A couple more gift recommendations that have been successful at our house:

All images from Amazon

Bristle blocks: Our preschool has these, and they were Eli's favorite toy.  He and some of the other boys liked them so much that the teachers were unable to move them out of the toy shelf rotation--the boys got too upset.  At our parent teacher conference his first year, his teacher said, "Do you have a set of these at home?"  Me: "Uh, no."  Teacher, who has never recommended we get a specific toy for any of our children before or since: "I REALLY think you should get a set."
So, I looked online and couldn't find a set for less than $30, which... really?  Then, that summer a friend of mine found a set in mint condition at a yard sale--for TWO DOLLARS.  A set complete with a family and a dog.
I see a variety of choices on Amazon for way less than $30, but you might luck out at a yard sale, too.  All of our kids play with these--even the baby can get them to stick together on his own.  I think this will be a toy I always keep for visiting children and grandchildren.

A neighbor gave Helen My Giant Sticker and Activity Book last Christmas, and she still plays with it.  Yes, it's all princesses/fairies/ballerinas/mermaids but!  They look as if they were drawn by a talented child, not by a man locked in a prison cell fantasizing about heaving bosoms.  They are so pleasing and little girlish.  It is FULL of paper dolls and stickers and activities and cut outs and I love it.  I might even buy a back up copy.  The illustrator is Sandie Gardier, and I've seen some of her other books on Amazon, although the prices vary wildly.

Apparently the publisher is Igloo Books in the UK and has lots of Sandie Gardiner works available.

YOO HOO!  Igloo Books!!!  I really, REALLY like your stuff!  Hurry up and export some more to the United States, please!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Milk of human kindness

I had my Christmastime meltdown at our neighborhood Christmas party last weekend, so I can cross that off the list.  Very close friend who has five children: "So, expecting number five?"  Me:  "Ha ha.  NO.  A thousand times NO."

There's just so much stuff.  All. Month. Long.  Chirpy magazine article on relieving holiday stress: "Just say no!"  Oh sure, I'm going to be the pinehole who doesn't send canned goods for the food pantry to each of my three children's schools or not give each teacher a gift or not bring dairy-free cookies to every event or not send in each child's advent offering or not attend my husband's work-related events or not let my children be in the Christmas pageant or not send photos to each far away and/or old relative.  Thanks, Women's Magazine!  You just cleared it all up for me!  Where's the peppermint bark?

Maybe washing all of the curtains and slipcovers with my free water will put me in the Christmas spirit!  Or maybe I should just flood the backyard and make an ice rink.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Christmastime's a comin'

Any bluegrass-loving banjo players in your house? No? You mean you don't know the joy that is listening to "Christmastime's a Comin'" over and over? Sung by your husband? AND his two brothers (when they come to visit) just to annoy you? What a sad, sad time December must be for you.

I finally ordered our Christmas card. Just when Graham's stitches came out, he fell and bruised his right cheek. Then the next day he hit his head again and got a huge goose egg opposite his scar. So I gave up on a current photo and pulled out one of all of us from the summer. That everyone I'm friends with on FB has already seen. Also, I think this might lose me points because we're all summery, but I did choose a summery card design to match the photo.... Which is weird and not at all like me because I am a snow person, not a palm tree person, but hopefully it looks all right.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Melissa and Doug need to pay me rent

I've been working on a post about toys that have stood the test of time in our home because I LOVE reading posts about toys people recommend.  (HINT. HINT.)  I have purchased so many great items on Swistle's recommendations alone.  Then I saw that today is a one day 50% off sale on Melissa and Doug items on Amazon.  Although, as Mir says, you have to be vigilant with the prices.  We lurve Melissa and Doug toys.  Yes, even though they are made in ChinaThis is not sponsored or compensated FTLOG, although it should be based on the number of their toys littering my floors.  The links are through my Amazon thingy but by all means bypass it. 

The current favorite is the Slice and Bake Cookie set.  The three-year old plays with this all. the. time.   And the other kids do, too.  And possibly the grownups.

A close second is the Birthday Cake set.  Or, some odd candle/cake/cookie combination of the two.  We celebrate a lot of events with them these days.  The server comes to take your order on a pad of paper with a crayon, and your choices are cookies, cake, or drink.  Currently your choices are Christmas cookies, Christmas cake, or Christmas drink, but they're pretty much the same as the regular ones.  For some reason, the baby doesn't put the round pieces in his mouth.  Go figure.

We also have the cutting foods box, and I see that they now slice the carrot lengthwise instead of into little choking-hazard rounds that my babies DO like to put in their mouths and walk around with, as it is in our set.  Which is why our carrot lives on a shelf.  But it is a fun toy, and the sound of the knife 'cutting' through the Velcro is very cool.

I was about to list all of the Melissa and Doug items we have that aren't 50% off, aaand  then I realized just how many things that is.  Stamp sets!  Magnetic dress up dolls!  Paint your own train!  Pull frog! An easel!  Man, we have a lot of toys.

So let's just keep it to food: we also have the food groups set (Don't worry, my kids assure me the cheese is dairy free) and the fill and spill picnic basket.  Because even though three-month old Graham didn't need or want any Christmas gifts last year, there had to be something under the tree for him.  The grape soda bottle is his favorite part; he still carries it around chewing on it.  He also actually does like to take everything out of the basket and put it back in.  The other kids use the Velcro sandwich parts a lot in their 'cooking.'

Under the Christmas tree this year, Helen will find the grill set. I'm sure the skewers are going to have to be put away immediately, but I couldn't resist.  She will also find this sticker book because I needed a quick, cheap replacement for a game I planned to give her that her uncle gave the kids instead.

I have debated forever about the cupcake set.  So cute!  But...the icing markers!  So messy!  But Swistle recommended it!  Helen will get it for her birthday.  Because I am a sucker.

I wanted to put photos in, too, but you should go look before the sale items are gone, and I need to get out of my PJs and go pick up a preschooler at her Happy Birthday, Jesus party.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Pet peeve, recipe

I am left handed.  I carry bags and babies on my right arm so my left hand is free to grab runaway children open doors.  But!  Businesses and doctors offices and post offices like to play tricks on unsuspecting lefties and unlock ONLY the right-hand door of a set of double doors.  Why?  WHHHYYY?  This necessitates shifting the baby/diaper bag/purse combo to my left arm, all the while keeping track of the children orbiting around me.  The children who aren't quite strong enough to open big doors yet because I like to run errands when at least ONE child is in school, preferably two.  Every once in awhile I'll be prepared for this, as at church yesterday, where I reached for the right-hand door, and... it was locked.  Just unlock both doors, people, as a Christmas present to me.  I promise I will stay out of the way of the people exiting in the other direction.

We had corn pudding last night.  This is the easiest corn pudding ever, from our local library cookbook.  (Another business that unlocks only one door. *cough*)

Corn Pudding, adapted from library cookbook, and Leftover Corn Pudding Cakes

2 cans creamed corn (Creamed corn is dairy free.)
1 package Jiffy corn muffin mix (They sell Jiffy at Aldi now!)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Fleischmann's unsalted margarine, melted (Only the unsalted is dairy free.  Go figure.)

I melt the margarine first in a 2-quart casserole dish, then mix in the rest of the ingredients to avoid dirtying a bowl.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Now, here's my mother's brilliant invention.  The next morning, shape the leftover pudding into little cakes and pan fry them in margarine.  Serve them with warm maple syrup for breakfast.  Mmmmm.

Friday, December 02, 2011

I scarred my baby

Two weeks ago tomorrow, I was changing 14 month-old Graham on our very high bed, and I turned to grab the wipes.  He fell off the bed, hitting his head on the nightstand on the way down.  I picked him up and he looked fine, until he turned his head.  On his beautiful, perfect forehead was a 1-inch gash, pushed in, with blood streaming down his face.  "Out is good, in is bad," I remembered a nurse told us once regarding head injuries.  "SCOTTTT!"  Scott was bathing the two middles but came running.  "I'M TAKING HIM TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM!" I yelled.  Scott got my keys, an extra diaper, my purse, made me take a few deep breaths, and let me go.

I burst through the emergency room doors and ran over to the nurses station, with both of us crying.  The nurses quickly... turned their heads with no visible change of expression or large body movements, then... turned back to what they were doing.  ER has a lot to answer for regarding my emergency room expectations.

I ran over to the admission desk where the grandmotherly lady there said, "OH! This baby needs to be triaged!"  Thank you.  A little companionable panic is all I ask.  She sent me right into the triage room.

After a few minutes of crying and rocking Graham, a nurse came in.  "Let's see, you hurt your head, and Mommy is very upset.  Let's just cover that with gauze so it doesn't upset Mommy so much."  Oh please, you think covering his gaping head wound with a bit of gauze is going to--oh, that is much better.

The nurse took our information then sent us back to register while they prepared a room.  After registering with the nice, grandmotherly lady who calmed me down a bit, we were sent to our little cubicle.

We waited and I cried and nursed and cried and rocked and wished I could have that moment back to do over again.  Another nurse came in saying she would be taking care of us.  "So, I hear you hit your head and your Mommy is very upset!"

Okay.  Now, I wasn't tearing my hair out and rending my garments, I was just silently crying.  I'm sure they see everything in the ER, but...  isn't it more unusual if the parent isn't upset?  (My friend who works in the hospital proper:  "Yes. That's when we call CYS.") Yet apparently the news of hysterical mommy with baby had already made the rounds.  Awesome.

She put some sort of numbing agent on Graham's head and he was able to fall asleep.  The doctor came in and looked at the cut and said he needed stitches.  He didn't say anything about checking for concussion, so I asked if we should be worried about that because of the height of the fall and force of the hit.  Doctor: "OK, we'll order a CT scan."  Dude! I just wanted you to check his pupils or something.  But now I feel like I can't refuse.  That bill is going to be fun.

He slept through the CT scan, and then we went back to our little room to wait for the doctor.  And I tried to be rational about why I was so upset.  I've been here with my other children for injuries and life-threatening allergic reactions for pete's sake.  Why was I coming unglued?  Yes, he's the baby, but I think there's more to it.  For me it goes back to how his birth story almost had an unthinkable ending.  And it's not just me who thinks so  My OB often sees my parents at various social events, and he always asks them about the baby first, my parents always thank him, and he always says, "It wasn't me.  It was God."  He talks about his concern and how he went into the next room to pray before delivering Graham and how never in his career had he seen anything quite like that.  Graham is our miracle baby, and I SCARRED HIM FOR LIFE. 

When it was time to do the stitches, the nurse explained the procedure and then told, did not ask, me that I was going to wait in the waiting room.  I didn't argue.  Sitting waiting for Graham while I listened to him scream was terrible.  Just awful.  Then the nurse came through the door carrying him and said, "He needs you."  Wow. If that was supposed to be comforting it sure missed the mark.  I KNOW he needs me.  YOU kicked me out.

We got our discharge information and went home, where Graham played with Daddy for a bit like nothing was wrong.

Now the stitches are out and the scar is healing.  He's fine, and I'm getting there.  This parenting thing is a hard gig, sometimes.  I'm sorry, Graham.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When Tuesday feels like Monday

Thanksgiving is over, and we survived having everyone here for dinner again.  We also survived the rainy five-day weekend.  Barely.

Did you know that if you do something holiday-related with children just once it becomes an unbreakable tradition?  Choose your Christmas morning breakfast carefully, is what I'm saying.  I was not at all ready for our 'tradition' of decorating the house on the Monday after Thanksgiving, but there I was, shoulder-deep in our holiday decor closet.  I did take the opportunity to ditch a trash bag's worth of broken/nasty crap treasure.  SHHH.

I plan to go to the post office today and finally mail my CDP.  An added bonus for the recipient is that the longer it takes me to get it in the mail the more stuff I add to it.

Our leftovers are almost gone.  I'm going to make a double batch of Catherine Newman's Yamberry Muffins today with the last of the cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes.  I also have turkey bones in the freezer for soup.  Other than that, it's time to start cooking again.  *sigh*

We let the kids each choose a kind of Christmas cookie to make, and Eli wants to make gingerbread men.  I cannot wait to give him these ninjabread men cookie cutters.
(Which were only $7.50 when I bought them.  Oh, Amazon.  You and your wacky price changes.)

Speaking of Eli: "Mom, how come in stories the future is a place, but in real life it's just what happens next?"  Indeed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


  • I made slow cooker baked potato soup the other night, and it was so. good.  And it makes a ton.  I used 1 package of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and 1/2 a container of Tofutti Sour Supreme instead of the two packages of cream cheese the recipe calls for.
  • I had my yearly checkup with our GP yesterday.  Sitting in the exam room reading all of the posters about prostate cancer and COPD and gout always makes me feel young.  Plus, when I checked out, the receptionist said, "Let's see...Doctor wants to see you again in...a year!  Well!  Good for you!"  I'm a healthy young sprite who inherited freakishly low blood pressure. 
  • One of my friends has been Ebaying for years.  She's been selling some items for me, and I love it.  It is totally worth it to me to give her a Very Reasonable fee for taking the photos, listing the items, mailing them, etc.    Found money!
  • Kevin the parakeet was chirping away yesterday morning and Helen told him to be quiet.  She then turned to me and said, "I told Kevin to be quiet because he was beakin' at me."  Why yes, I will be adding 'beaking' to my vocab, thank you for asking.
  • I just started watching "Grimm" on Hulu, and I really like it.  Very Buffy-esque.  (More so than the show with Buffy actually on it.)
  • Graham is officially walking.  No more excuses: I have to go dig through the clothes closet and find him some shoes.  Send help if you don't hear from me soon.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I began Halloween being splashed with toilet water, and not the fancy kind.  Our toilet was leaking down through our kitchen ceiling onto the counter.  GAH.  I called our beloved plumber's wife, who said she'd let him know.

Meanwhile, Eli had his first substitute teacher experience.  His Kindergarten classmate who likes to tell him, "I'm going to kick your butt," took this opportunity to repeat his threat. 

Me: What did you do?
Eli: I raised my hand.
Me: What did the substitute teacher do?
Eli: She didn't see me, so I said, "Excuse me but I need to tell you something."
Me: What did she say?
Eli: She didn't answer me.
Me: !!!  So what did you do?
Eli: I just tried not to look at [Bully].

We recounted the story to Katherine when she got home. 

Katherine: What was her name?
Eli:  Mrs. ___________
Katherine, with big eyes:  Mom!  That's the SHHHH!!!!!! Lady!
[Scott: I can think of another name for her.]
Katherine: She's the one who doesn't know the school rules and just says SHHHH!!!!!! all the time.

Poor Eli.  At least he has a big sister who commiserates with him.

That evening, I was on the phone and wasn't able to switch over to an incoming call fast enough.  The message said, "Sarah, this is [Plumber].  I was just finishing up a job on your street and thought I'd check in, but I guess you're not home, so I'll call y--"
I hung up on voicemail and went running outside just in time to see his truck turning off of our street.  I went running down the street after him, yelling, "MR. [PLUMBER]!!!"
In the rain.  In my socks. 



"Is this Sarah?"

She did call him, and he spent the evening fixing the leak. 

And that was a scary enough Halloween for me.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


The rules of blogging clearly state that if you shoot off your mouth about allergy-related frustrations, the next day you will be nominated for a food allergy blogging award that requires voting, thus bringing you confused visitors from nice, normal food allergy blogs.  Duly noted. 

And, of course, thank you very much for the nomination, Circle of Moms.  They're encouraging me to dust off my Twitter account and/or reveal my blogging identity to all of my high school friends on Facebook to drum up votes, which No Thank You.  But I will tell you all about it because you are just that lucky.  Let's see if we can get into the double digits!

I know not all of you are here for food allergy-related reasons, but I have to brag about some of my fellow nominees:
Maggie at Dog Hill Kitchen is one of the most impressive cooks ever, and her husband is a wonderful illustrator, which, how cool is that?
Kelly at Food Allergy Mama makes such great, family-friendly baked goods, you will like them whether you have allergies or not.  She has five kids; she knows what she's talking about.  We use her cookbook all the time.
Janeen at Our Story is one of my oldest and dearest friends living in my computer, and she helps me find good venison recipes.
Gina at Allergy Moms is a force to be reckoned with, not to mention the author of the only kids' food allergy book I really like.  (I cry every. time.)

So it really is an honor to have my little half-pineholed blog included with theirs. 


In answer to Misty's question, yes, we are extra careful with the dairy we keep in the house.  We don't use dairy in cast iron or on wooden cutting boards--anything that might absorb it and be hard to clean.  I use an old box grater to grate cheese, not the food processor.  Katherine's chores do not include doing dishes, just in case she might come in contact with something.  We keep most of the dairy in the cheese drawer in the fridge.  The middle kids know to wipe their hands after school and after eating anything dairy.  And we go through a forest's worth of paper goods every week wiping down the counters, table, hands, etc., instead of using cloths that might spread dairy around.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm the cream of the crop/I rise to the top

I have my first cold and sore throat of the season and will now treat you to a cold-medication induced blog post.  At least I finally learned (at thirty-seven) to stock up on cold meds *before* anyone got sick.
Yes, my birthday was last month.  The day was a comedy of errors, culminating in Graham pulling over the table that Kevin the parakeet's cage sits on.  Kevin now has a nice hook to hang from by the window.

As we stared at the bird seed and poo scattered all over our dining room floor, Scott declared a Saturday birthday do-over, which didn't work either.  Scott: "OK, so when we do your birthday again on SUNDAY..."  Me: "How many birthdays do I get?"  Scott, grimly: "As many as it takes."

This is the same man who convinced our children that "Jump Around" is Mommy's favorite song and that I want it to be the ring tone on my phone.*  Yet he doesn't see the humor when I call the baby 'Graham Master Flash.' Weird. 

Y'know, three of my four children can eat dairy.  Sometimes, I cook with dairy.  And sometimes, I link to a recipe and don't feel the need to explain the dairy-free substitutions to someone who doesn't need to know them.  I KNOW.  It's CRAZY.  I should ALWAYS be dairy free!  It's right there in my name!  I should change the post title to "I'm the [dairy-free] cream of the crop!"  It's false advertising!  What about my BRAND?

I have been drinking the couponing Kool-Aid.  Yesterday I bought 3 gallons of soymilk for $9!  But I'm still going to give the younger children dairy milk!  Because I am EEVIL.

*All because I sarcastically replied, "Jump around!" when he told me something not very exciting. I'm a treasure.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I...just realized that almost none of the comments I've been leaving on blogs for the past few weeks have shown up because I was being prompted to sign in *after* commenting and didn't realize it.  Der.

So, to sum up: your vlogs are lovely, your news is so exciting, your recipes are delicious, your hair looks great, and I hear ya.

Also, thank you for all of the book recommendations.  My wish list is now very long.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Dear Fourth Grade Spelling/Vocabulary Book,

When you ask "What is the opposite of coffee?" the correct answer is not "Tea."  That makes no sense and brings up all of my Alanis Morissette irony issues. 

The Black Fly in Your Chardonnay

Dear PA,

When you have to step in at my child's checkup because the pediatrician had an emergency, kindly do not recommend an unnecessary invasive medical procedure.  It makes me angry and my child hysterical.

Tiger/Bear/Some Sort of Large Mammal Mom

Dear Pediatrician's Office/Pediatrician,

Thank you for not charging me a co-pay for our follow-up appointment.  And thank you for listening to our concerns and agreeing that the PA was wrong.  Now, go lecture her.

Relieved Mother

Dear Kindergartner,

I am so glad you love school and are doing well.  But this morning when you said, "You can stop here, Mama," and walked up the school sidewalk by yourself, my heart broke a little.

I'm Not Crying, It's Just Allergies

P.S. I still stood there and watched you walk in.  It's a free country.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I am stealing this idea

Graham's neighborhood party was rained out.  Twice.  So he just received his presents.  What did our neighbors buy the boy who has enough hand-me-down toys, strollers, and clothes to last a lifetime?  A gift certificate to our favorite pizza place for him to share with his family!  (Yes, they chose the place that makes dairy-free pizza.)

Isn't that a great idea?!  I am totally stealing it for first birthdays--whether the child has a lot of siblings or not.  Who doesn't appreciate a free meal?  Who doesn't miss the newborn days--at least the part where you get meals dropped off all the time?

Now, let's see how long I can hold off using it....

Monday, September 12, 2011


I've been away so long I have to learn a new Blogger system!  Awesome.

I have a ten-year old and a one-year old.  *sob*

If you want a good birthday party idea for a ten-year old girl, search on Ebay for one of the American Girl mystery games that have been discontinued.  Mine was in a damaged box, so I got the game and a book for $20.  The girls loved it.  Loved it!  We did a Kit mystery and made the banana cake from Kit's cookbook.  They all dressed in character and really got into their parts.  It was hysterical.

Graham's party got rained out twice, so he had to make do with a cupcake and a new ride-on push car.  I think he's OK with it.

The principal at K's school has been using K. and me as examples of a child and parent who handle food allergies well and don't make unreasonable demands.  Uh, thanks?  I can't wait for the other families to find where we live and egg our house.  Or, God forbid, cheese our house.

I was just telling Alisa that with a Kindergartner and a preschooler in the house, I now have four hours a week with just one child.  I'll set my goals low: one blog post a month?  :)  Seriously, I don't know how you all do it.  You rock.

What I ate this summer*

*That was sent to me to try.

Kelapo Coconut Oil

We never had coconut oil before, except for the scary yellow-colored popcorn flavoring kind. And now we are hooked. HOOOOKED. Love the flavor, love the texture, love. We are using it a lot, especially in baking. And, yes, on popcorn. But it doesn't turn the popcorn unnaturally yellow! Score.

Enjoy Life Foods Double Chocolate Crunch Granola

Our family polished this off in one sitting. Granted, that's six people, but still. Chocolate granola with mini chocolate chips in it? Excellent. (I thought it maybe needed a touch more salt, but no one else was bothered by this.)

Enjoy Life Foods Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks

The package says something about these chocolate chunks being good "just for snacking!" Hahahah! *cough* Yeah, I totally ate them straight from the bag. These are perfect for making dairy-free s'mores, among other things, because they are flat on one side and don't roll around on the graham cracker like dairy-free chocolate chips.

Enjoy Life Foods Crunchy Cookies: Vanilla Graham, Sugar Crisp, Double Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate Chip

We loved these--liked them even better than Enjoy Life Foods soft cookies. The kids really liked the Vanilla Honey Graham cookies and I liked the Chocolate Chip the best. They were all good, though, and made delicious homemade dairy-free ice cream sandwiches. Mmmm....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chicken Surprise

It's VBS week, which means I'm too tired to shop. What's for dinner?

Chicken Surprise

2 cups leftover shredded beer butt chicken
2 slightly overripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 c. mayonnaise
4 cups cornbread stuffing mix, prepared with water

Layer in a greased casserole dish:

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with salad and homemade Thousand Island dressing.

*Or one can of condensed cream of mushroom soup

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hey Howdy Hey

Katherine's field trips went fine. She was almost given a snack with white chocolate in it at her school's field day, but she caught it. I love that girl. She and her best friend just got their ears pierced and look entirely too grown up.

Potty Training 2011 is almost 100% done, thank goodness. Nik-Nak asked for potty training advice. HAHAHAHAH. The best advice I have is throw everything at it and see what works. Reward chart, big gift at the end, jelly beans every time you go, wearing underwear, going commando around the house--we've done it all, and it's been a different technique that's worked with each kid. That, and it seems as if I have to totally lose my Dr. Sears zen attitude and declare that we're going back to diapers. Magically, they get it only after I've passed that point.

Uh, you think I'd have more news. Our veggies are growing, the baby is crawling and teething, Eli is reading (Reading!), we've been on our first trip of the summer, Scott replaced the playhouse roof that the birds pecked holes in (Try pecking a hole in plywood, you stupid wrens!), and I'm happy to have everyone home from school. Yay, summer.

Chicken and Asparagus Lemon Pasta

In a large crockpot, put two sliced onions and three lemon halves, seeds removed. Place a whole chicken on top, seasoned inside and out with whatever you like. I used Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt. Add a cup of chicken broth and/or white wine. Cook until the chicken is done. (I used a mostly-frozen chicken and cooked it on high all day.) Remove the chicken and let it cool on a cutting board. Strain the broth and return it to the crockpot. Squeeze the lemon pulp into the broth. Add raw asparagus, broken into one-inch pieces. Cook in the broth until tender. Shred the chicken. Add half to the crockpot and save half for another meal. Add 3/4 lb. cooked pasta (I used bowties.) Stir and heat through. Taste for salt.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


We spent a portion of yesterday evening in the basement avoiding tornadoes.

My mom and I are going to a canning workshop Thursday evening. Mom: "Comes the revolution, we'll be ready." She cracks me up.

The high school is discontinuing the school paper, so the current editor asked former editors to write about what the paper means to them. I *may* have gone a tiny bit off the rails and talked about the importance of keeping the newspaper going--with or without school funding. Heh.

I am letting K. go on her field trip without me. I am nervous. She will be in a group with her teacher, who is well-versed in Epipens. I will load her up with a million wipes, meds, her own food, etc. And pray.

I think we are seeing the light at the end of the potty-training tunnel. We're bidding on used Leapster 2s on Ebay trying to get one for a reward/toy for summer travel. Is it a much bigger present than the older siblings earned? Yes. Do we care? No. Desperate times, people. Desperate times.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Honor thy mother

Nowheymama: Mom, we saw a really interesting documentary the other night.

Nowheymama's Mom: Really?

Nowheymama: Yeah! The whole way through it made me think of you. I kept thinking, "This movie just says 'Mom' to me!"

Nowheymama's Mom: Wow! What's it called?

Nowheymama: Uh... It's called 'Fat Head.'

Nowheymama's Mom: Nice. Just what every mother wants to hear.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Cookies, Roku, Asparagus

USAToday is featuring Mother's Day recipes this weekend, and the winning recipe is for dairy-free cookies, Delaware Cry Babies! You know I am making these molasses cookies this weekend. Or having my family bake them for me. *cough*

We've decided to cancel our cable and get rid of our 'land line.' (It's provided through our cable.) We drove to Bigger City last night to buy a Roku and to switch our home phone number to my cell phone. (And to eat at our favorite Chinese buffet.) I've been hesitant because cell reception in our house isn't great, but I'm ready to give it a try. As for TV, we have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and we're thinking about getting a digital antenna. I think we'll have plenty to watch.

I planted asparagus two springs in a row, and...nothing. Imagine my surprise when I found a few sprouts in the garden yesterday! Plants that grow with no attention from me? Priceless.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


Today was the last day of preschool. I managed not to cry during the cute little ceremony, mainly because the college president called my son "Ellie H_______."

So now summer begins for the littlest ones, and I am starting to collect (free) ways to spend the time, especially when it is raining and 40 degrees. Here's what I've found so far.

Barnes and Noble has a summer reading program for kids in first through sixth grade, where you can earn a free book and be entered in a drawing for a Nook. Borders has one, too, for kids twelve and under.

Scholastic has a Summer Reading Challenge.

We'll be doing our local library's summer reading program, too, of course.

PNC's Grow Up Great program has fun Sesame Street activities to download. You can call and request free items, too.

If you have Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in your area, SIGN UP. Kids receive one free book a month from birth to age 5.

And of course we'll be playing Chore Wars.

That's all I've got. Help?

Edit: Misty mentioned crafts. FamilyFun is always good for ideas, and Swistle just posted about craft gifts at Milk and Cookies.

Friday, April 29, 2011

An Anglophile is Born

"Helen, that's the princess."
"Who's that boy in the red?"
"That's the prince."
"Oooh. I like him."

That's my girl.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kindergarten registration packet

Dear Parents:

Please bring the following to Kindergarten registration:
  • Completed Student Health History form
  • Proof of dental examination and
  • Proof of physical examination because we don't believe the Student Health History form you filled out, and why don't you throw in a
  • Record of immunizations for good measure
  • State-issued birth certificate, not that cutesy hospital thing with the footprints that is clearly a fake
  • TWO proofs of residency, such as two utility bills, even though all utilities are paid to the city in one bill; your mortgage, even though you don't want to bring it because it's none of our business; phone bill, but not a wireless bill, even though many people no longer have land lines; TV bill, but it has to be cable, not dish; oh, and your driver's license doesn't count.
  • DNA samples from you, your spouse, and child
  • Knife to cut your finger to sign paperwork in blood
  • Flask to get through the day
We look forward to meeting you and your child. Except if you are late. Then you're out of luck.


The Kindergarten Team

Friday, April 08, 2011

The blogs have ears

In the middle of a LONG day of vision testing (Fun!) yesterday, the three youngest kids and I were forced to spend money I don't have on lunch. We had two restaurant choices, and we went with our beloved Eat n' Park, which is a local chain that is very supportive of the food allergic. (Hello, Silk soymilk on the menu! A separate gluten-free menu!) Awhile ago, I wrote that I wished they had a free treat for kids who can't enjoy their famous smiley face cookies. Did someone hear me? Because thanks to their new LifeSmiles program, they do! Kids can choose either a regular smiley cookie, a mini smiley cookie, or an apple. Is an apple as fun as a cookie? No, but it's WAY better than walking away empty handed while your brother and sister chomp on cookies.

Reading the menu while trying to nurse covertly in public, I also learned that they have a FarmSource program, where they buy their produce from local suppliers. Love.

Thank you, Eat n' Park. We'll try to visit more than once every six months.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Recipe and a Coupon

I made four-ingredient Fast and Friendly Meatballs last night, using ground beef instead of turkey because that's what I had, and Progresso Italian Panko Breadcrumbs. Dairy-free Italian breadcrumbs! They do exist! And they are good. Here's a link to a coupon for $1 off if you want to try them.*

Usually I make turkey sausage meatballs by rolling the sausage into balls and browning them. This recipe doesn't splatter the stovetop like the sausage ones do, and my kids like it better. We have a winner. If you want a dairy- and egg-free meatballs, check out Kelly's recipe.

*Why, yes, the coupon link above does go through the blog of one of TLC's Extreme Couponers. Shut up. Hoarders inspired me to clean my basement, and Extreme Couponing is making me take a second look at couponing. Now, if I start telling Scott to get some more wives, then we have a problem.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The other night, all of the kids were on our bed. Katherine was reading the bedtime story, Eli and Helen were listening, and the baby was kicking and grinning and trying to eat his sister's foot. Later on, Scott said, "I was looking at all of them on our bed thinking, 'Wow. We have four kids.'"

It's been that kind of a week. Usually things cycle around so that one person is in the parental spotlight. As my friend, also a mother of four, says, "I can only worry about one of them at a time."

This week has been about trying to focus on everyone at once. Orthodontist! Optometrist! Vision therapist! School registrations! Star of the Week! Field trips! Food allergy issues! Teething! Colds! Sleepless nights! Insurance! Finances! Prescriptions! Phone calls to doctors' offices! Swing low, sweet chariot! (TM Tess)

It's the business side of parenting that throws me sometimes. The feeling that I'm the president and secretary of a small, poor, slightly dingy workplace with untrained, underage employees. But I imagine this part of the mothering job will only increase, so I'd better get used to it.

Time to make some phone calls....

Friday, March 25, 2011


I'm making Mary Ostyn's Doro Wat (Ethiopian Chicken Stew) via Crockpot 365 for dinner tonight. Hopefully the hard-boiled eggs will sell the kids on it.

I cut Eli's hair! I even used two different clipper guards! And it looks decent! No, he would not let me get a photo!

Thank you so much for all of your haircutting tips; watching YouTube videos was critical to my success. I feel so empowered! Now if my own bangs would just hurry up and grow so I can stop holding them back with clips. I look like Elisabeth Shue in that movie about the autistic sister.

Image from

All of this snow/rain/freeze/thaw mess is making everyone's roofs leak. Ours is leaking into Katherine's newly-painted room (NOOO!) and down a chimney into our linen closet. Nothing says fun like two tons of wet, moldy linens.

Eli had to take a sign of spring to school today. HAHAHAHA. Scott: "What did you send? Bird poop?" I sent a branch with very confused buds, thank you very much.

My parents lent me a copy of The Lincoln Lawyer. Where can I hide to read all weekend?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Things I've Tried Lately

It's time for an edition of Things I've Tried Lately That Were Sent to Me But I Was Not Paid to Review, not to be confused with Uncompensated FTLOG.

Enjoy Life Soft Baked Cookies

We received Enjoy Life's new and improved Soft Baked Cookies in Snickerdoodle, Double Chocolate Brownie, and Lively Lemon. I took them to a Super Bowl party where there was a gluten-sensitive college student and my dairy-allergic daughter. The college student loved the Double Chocolate Brownie cookies and said they were a real treat. Katherine liked the Snickerdoodles best, which surprised me. I would have guessed she'd pick the chocolate ones. We sent some Double Chocolate Brownie and Snickerdoodle cookies home with the college student. The Lively Lemon cookies were untouched, so Scott and I ate them in the following week. We loved them. There are little crunchy lemon bits in them that have a great texture and flavor.

The cookies were well-received, but aren't something that fit in our budget. I might buy them for a situation like the party where I want people who have allergies/intolerances to feel secure about what they are eating.

No Whey! Chocolates

Chocolate? Good.
Company Name? Good.
Variety? Good.
Dairy-allergic child's happiness level? Through the roof.

No Whey! Chocolates is a great small chocolate company featuring dairy-free chocolates. They also have gluten-free and soy-free candies. They are currently featuring some super cute Easter candies that are perfect for Easter baskets. We loved trying their chocolates.

This review was written for Go Dairy Free.

Gardein Garden Protein

We tried their Chick'n Scallopini, Beefless Tips, Buffalo Wings, Chick'n Good Stuff, and Crispy Tenders. The kids liked the tenders and the Good Stuff, which is like a stuffed chicken breast. Scott and I liked the Buffalo Wings and Scallopini, but none of us cared for the Beefless Tips. I might buy the Chick'n Good Stuff sometime because it is like Chicken Kiev or Chicken Cordon Bleu, two dishes that are hard to make dairy free.

This review was written for Go Dairy Free.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nice move, Mickey

I had a happy-go-lucky post in mind, but then Disney cancelled Catherine Newman's Dalai Mama Dishes column, which is my favorite recipe column and the ONLY reason I go to Disney

If you've ever read and enjoyed her column, please go tell them how you feel. That is, if you are actually able to log in and leave a comment.

You can still find Catherine at her personal blog.

Monday, March 14, 2011


"Mama, Spring is trying to come, but the snow keeps smooshing it down." --Eli

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Smile, Bobby. Show them Jamaica.

Apparently writing Graham's birth story was more taxing then I expected, especially given the fact that I put it off for six months. And in one week he's started eating cereal (Oats are what the peditrician recommended this time around for the sibling of a food-allergic child.) and sprung two teeth. STOP GROWING. IT'S ALL TOO FAST. Also, please let me sleep again.

Speaking of teeth, the dentist recommended an orthodontist consultation for the eldest yesterday. I just made the appointment.

Kids--they're a lot of work, but they're worth it.
Wanda Sykes - Kids Are Worth It
JokesJoke of the DayFunny Jokes

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Six months

Six months ago today, I checked into the hospital at 7:30 am, was taken to a labor and delivery room, and prepped for yet another induction. Every time someone looked at my chart I was told, "Oh, this will be fast and easy! It's your fourth baby!"

First was the Foley catheter. I was allowed to walk the halls, which I'd never been able to do before. Around 11 am, the catheter came out, but it hadn't done anything. I was still at 2 centimeters. At 12:30, I was started on Pitocin. My sister arrived. And we waited. And waited as the nurses kept upping the dose and I slooowly dilated. When I couldn't stand it anymore, I asked for an epidural. The anesthesiologist hit a blood vessel and I could feel blood running down my back. Although I was dilating, the baby wasn't moving down. After several nurses performing exams to figure out what was going on, they told us that it felt like his arm was blocking the exit and the doctor might have to do a c-section. Around dinnertime, they ordered an in-room ultrasound, which didn't show an arm in the way, but did show that the baby's head was tilted back at an odd angle, making it difficult for him to descend. They propped me up into a sitting position, which made my legs totally numb. At some point, my water broke, but the baby still wasn't descending.

As the evening wore on, the baby's heart rate began to drop during each contraction. A heart rate monitor was placed on his skull. They stopped the Pitocin, but that stopped the contractions. When Pitocin was started again, his heart rate began to drop again. The doctor said we needed to consider a c-section. He left to let us 'think about it,' but he was already in his scrubs. Scott and my sister promised me everything under the sun ("I'll work from home!" "I'll come back and stay with you another week!") to get me to calm down and agree to sign the papers.

Once I did, my epidural was double-checked and I was rushed into the operating room next door. There is nothing more glamorous than being heaved from one bed to another by a bunch of medical personnel. They began prepping me while I tried to calm down. As the surgery began, I started to shake uncontrollably, which the two anesthesiologists assured me was common. They both held my left arm firmly, which was calming, and instructed my sister and Scott to do the same on my right. I heard the voice of a med student who had shadowed the doctor at my appointments say, "You can blame this all on everyone who said it would be fast and easy," which made me smile.

While it wasn't an emergency c-section per se, it was fast. There was a lot of movement and talking, with people telling me what was going on and the doctor explaining what he was doing to the two med students and to Scott and my sister. Suddenly, everyone was dead silent. Then the doctor said, "Thank God. Thank God." Me: "WHAT? 'Thank God' what?" My sister: "Sarah, the cord is around his neck." I found out later that the doctor had to unwind the cord before he could get the baby out of the incision, and he never would have made it down the birth canal. The cord was around his neck four times, pushing his head back at an odd angle and wrapped so tightly it left marks.

So, at 11:28 pm, Graham was born. Scott held him and my sister held my hand while the surgery was finished. My sister was the first one to notice his dimple. Then when we were wheeled back to our room, I finally held him and fed him.

I love you, Graham.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hair Raising

I've been looking for ways to save more money. (This started before our furnace died Wednesday night and we had to shell out $400 to get it fixed. *Lamaze breathing*) Sometimes, you have to spend money to save money. And to avoid paying $10 for the privilege of watching your son receive half a haircut before the barber gives up. So I bought hair clippers, and scissors, and thinning shears. (Both Eli and I always have to have our crazy-thick hair thinned.)

I really need you home hair cutters to talk me through this. I'm going to start with the boy, and then maybe move on to everyone else. What am I doing?! (Thanks to Swistle and Christina for helping already.)

Feel free to tell me that I can color my hair at home, too, as I've stopped getting highlights and now my hair is all grown out in its "hair-colored hair" glory.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Money for Nothing

I spent my free money. And I tried to be both fun and sensible. So... funsible? "You see what I just did there? That was an explanabrag."

All images from CSN Stores

I thought about purchasing foam tiles for the basement play area I'm carving out, but then I realized I could get two packs of the same size (not as pretty, but cheaper and able to cover more floor space) with Graham's Congratulations on Your Birth from Friends of Your Grandparents Toys R Us gift card. I've been holding onto it because what does a fourth child need besides diapers? And buying diapers with a gift card is just too depressing; I couldn't do it.
Except this image from Toys R Us

So, gift certificate money for foam tiles, and CSN Stores money for:

a wallet to replace my seven-year old wallet and duct-taped checkbook cover. Springy and useful!

Two cookie sheets to replace our rusty (Ew.) cheapo ones that replaced our nice but ancient ones last year.

And a spoonula. Because I wanted one. (They're sold out of the kind I ordered, or I'd link to them.)

Grand total, $54.69 of $55. Yeah, baby. Thanks, Mommy Daisy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What should I buy?

I won Mommy Daisy's CSN Stores redrawing and now I have to spend $55 by the end of the month and I can't decide! What to buy! POOR ME. And of course I want to spend as close to $55 as I can without going over. That's the fun of the game. That, and free money.

Now, should I be sensible? Not? Half and half?

What would you get?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pierogi Casserole and Pumpkin Muffins

Although it is beautiful here today, horrible February weather, potty training, keeping a budget, and the lack of decent, inexpensive fruits and vegetables keep me turning to the cupboards and freezer for carbs. Warm, comforting, vaguely healthy carbs.

Pierogi Casserole, adapted from our local paper

This casserole is like the love child of pierogis and haluski. My crazy children dislike pierogis because of the texture of mashed potatoes. The casserole, they like.

4 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 lb. package of egg noodles, preferably kluski noodles
1/2 a head of cabbage, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 T. dairy-free margarine
4 T. olive oil
salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes and noodles separately, until cooked. Drain and cover to keep hot. Meanwhile, saute the cabbage and onion in the margarine and olive oil until collapsed and melty. Add the noodles and potatoes to the cabbage and onion. Mix, and add salt and pepper to taste.

If you really wanted to gild the lily, some bacon would be fantastic in this.

Pumpkin Muffins

This is my neighbor's recipe, and the kids' favorite muffin recipe in the whole wide world.

Whisk together:
3 1/3 c. unbleached AP flour*
2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
2 1/2 c. sugar

1 c. canola oil
4 eggs
2/3 c. water
2 cups pureed pumpkin, or one 15 oz. can of pumpkin

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and spoon into greased muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. For mini muffins, bake at 350 degrees for 14-15 minutes. Makes 3 dozen regular muffins or a truckload of mini muffins. These freeze well.

*Yeah, yeah, yeah. Feel free to make a blend of whole wheat and white or what have you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chore Wars

I just found out about Chore Wars, and I am so excited. It's a free Dungeons and Dragons-like online game for cleaning your house. I heard about it from a friend of mine who plays it with her husband. I'm thinking this might be just the thing to help my video game-obsessed children be more motivated to clean. It might make things more fun for the parents, too. It also makes me think about the recent D&D episode of Community. I never understood the appeal of D&D, but this? I get.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Random Hearts

I cannot believe how much candy/how many treats came home from preschool today. Or, to quote my son, "Mama, I thought Valentines were that you cut a heart out of paper and wrote on it." I agree about the paper hearts. Well, paper hearts and chocolate.

I'm going to make a dairy-free version of this chocolate cake for dessert tonight. I made my dad's favorite cake for his birthday this past weekend, and when someone asked, "Where did you get the recipe?" I said, "Where do I get most of my recipes?" Entire table in unison: "Catherine Newman." Yep. (Stephanie O'Dea and Mary Ostyn are two other good guesses. I'm making Mary's blueberry muffins tonight, too. In heart-shaped muffin tins.)

Recently, while making popcorn in the Whirley-Pop Catherine recommended, Scott said, "She's really had an influence on our lives, hasn't she?" She has, and so have you. Happy Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Roll with it

Why can't winter babies have outside birthday parties?

fire in the firepit
(Ask guests to bring their own snow supplies, too.)
extra gloves, hats, scarves

hot dogs cooked over the fire
carrot sticks, pretzels, raisins (for eating and snowman making)
cakes with snowboardingStar Wars guys and princesses
slow cooker hot cider with cinnamon
bottled water

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Five Years

All this growing up is making me woozy. Stop it!

Oh, all right. Fine.

Happy Fifth Birthday, Eli.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Five Months

Happy five month birthday, Graham. Now please stop growing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


peaking of cleaning, I dug my My Friend Mandy, Jenny, and Becky dolls out of my parents' attic and cleaned them (and their extensive wardrobes) up for Helen's birthday present. I can't wait to give them to her tonight.

Happy Third! Birthday, Baby Girl.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dear person who took my diaries

Dude, it's -5 degrees outside, and I didn't put the trash out till evening. It takes some kind of commitment to tear a hole in every single bag of trash I put out, including the food-filled kitchen bags that were in the closed trash can.

I understand taking the boxes of VHS tapes; I set those out hoping someone would. But thanks for reinforcing every irrational fear I have by taking my junior high and high school diaries. 'Preciate it! You're in for quite the whiny, boy-obsessed read! And the entry where I finally get my period--diary gold! If you were looking for sex, drugs, and drinking, though, boy did you pick through the wrong trash!*

I can't help but notice you left the elementary school diary behind. Too tame? Or maybe you left it because it was filled front to back and the others weren't. That's it--you're going to tear out the used pages and recycle the diaries! Paper salvage! Say it with me: paper salvage! I'm breezy!

Why couldn't I have thrown these out when I lived hundreds of miles away from my hometown? Or published entries from them myself?

But seriously. So people find out I had crushes on them. Or that they annoyed me. I wouldn't hold anything anyone wrote twenty years ago against them. Right? RIGHT?

[Lamaze breathing.] Paper salvage. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely paper salvage.

*The really juicy stuff was in the college notebooks.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

New year, SOS

We have mice.
Christmas and Thanksgiving were great. Very low key.
So was the December visit with family.
Katherine had wonderful dairy-free food experiences.
She went on her first overnight trip without her parents, and it went perfectly.
Probably because she was with her grandparents and aunt and uncle.
One of my favorite relatives died.
I dreamed about visiting with her the other night.
I love having four children.
Four is enough.
I am in the process of a MAJOR house cleaning.
Hoarders motivates me.
Only the basement to go.
Tell me about your affordable basement remodel stories.
Graham is the best baby ever.
He's four months old and is growing way too fast.
I look forward to the space that will be created when we hand down baby items.
I never thought I'd say that.
I don't know how to do everything I need to do AND blog.
I miss you.
You are important to me, despite evidence to the contrary.
Have I mentioned the pinehole mice?