Have You Seen This Trailer? If So, He Needs A Butt-Kicking…

For someone who has a pretty good sense of humor, I try to find something funny or positive in all of life’s little challenges. My husband and I have had our share of challenges alright. In fact, my luck seems so bad, he is almost afraid to stand next to me, lest a meteor fall out of the sky and take him out too.

Five years ago, our house burned down, and not long after I was hit-and-run by a drunk driver who got away despite our having the rat bastard’s license plate number. These were hard times, but Husband and I always had plenty to be thankful for, looked at the situations with a healthy dose of humor, and counted our blessings.

And then came one hilariously not-funny night in November. My sister called me to let me know my grandmother was ill and in the hospital. Naturally, I plopped on my NSU cap, handed off the heathens to my husband, and hopped in the minivan to go check on Gran. Having already gotten up-close-and-personal with my airbags, I am an overly safe driver. I don’t speed or tailgate, and I watch the road like everyone is out to get me (which they bleeping are by the way). After cruising along the two-lane highways, I made it to town and things were a-okay. Then, less than ½ a mile from my previous accident, I saw a flash of metal, a trailer full of cars and had just enough time to jerk the wheel and think, “Oh Sh*t, this is bad.” My minivan broadsided a trailer hauling cars at about 45 miles an hour, and I got yet another meet-and-greet with my airbags. The truck in question had tried turning left in front of oncoming traffic, and obviously did not make it.

Because I was trying to turn away from the accident, I managed to accomplish two things, one awesome, and one very bad. By turning the van, I actually managed to deflect most of the impact around my body, thus saving my legs from meeting my engine. However, because my arm was up in front of my steering wheel mid-turn, the air bags knocked my right arm back in such a way that God never intended an arm to move.

The driver in question pulled down the road a bit, got out, and spent a good two minutes looking at his trailer, my smoldering minivan and back again. In the meantime, I managed to become mildly coherent, and dialed 911 on my cell, while holding my arm still and trying not to fall into a world-class freak-out. Luckily for me, a nice man, who coincidentally was a nurse, was behind me and rushed up to help. It was a good thing he showed up, because he kept me still and took over that whole 911 thing, because my efforts to not freak-out were starting to fail miserably. I guess trailer-guy knew he was in big-time trouble, because after his mini-examination, he jumped back in his truck and hit the inner-state like his butt was on fire. I think you can still hear me screaming at him to get his sorry behind back there on the 911 tapes.

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When the ambulance showed up, my husband happened to call my cell, and I only managed to croak out “I’ve been in an accident, I have to call you back,” before I lapsed into full-on sobs of pain and mild hysteria. A few minutes later, my mom called, with only the question of which hospital I was headed to, and then I was whisked away in the ambulance, sirens and all. I spent the whole ride alternating between crying, thanking that God my kids were not in the car with me, and thinking up of all the ways I was going to curse the ass that hit me. Little did I know a Good Samaritan chased said ass, and managed to get his trailer plate number for the police.

I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when he made it to the ER.

To make a long story short, I ended up with a bum shoulder that hurts nearly every day, a scar on my chest in a place no girl wants a scar, months of physical therapy, a totaled car, a pissed-off insurance company, many nightmares, and no sense of humor about this situation. And despite all efforts to locate the man that hit me, he got away, and got to walk away from screwing up my life.

That SOB screwed up my bowling arm, and I am pissed. Even these months later, that pissed-off-ed-ness stays constantly in the back of my mind, like white noise. I know I will have to get over it someday, but in the meantime, if you see a gooseneck trailer with Texas plate 28WLTD, tell him that Bayou Mama is looking for him, and we need to talk.

The Friday Diet Coke Shortage—An Emergency of Epic Proportions

I am running low on Diet Coke and it shows. I already have a nervous twitch, and soon, I will probably start foaming around the mouth in a snarly fit of withdrawal. If my husband knows what is good for him, he will hit the EZ Mart on his way home and relieve my pitiful suffering.

You probably won’t believe it, but I actually gave up Diet coke a few times in my life. When Demon Baby was born, I gave it up as I frantically tried everything I could think of to sooth his demonic tendencies. I also gave it up when I got pregnant with Youngest, out of abject fear that he would be Demon Baby-the-sequel.

But, alas, my old vice always makes its’ way back into my life, because me and Diet Coke, we go way back. I actually lived off Diet Coke and blueberry PopTarts in middle school, though I have since managed to break up with the PopTarts. I miss them terribly, but I guess that’s the price I have to pay to keep my rear end from getting its’ own zip code. I have broken up with a lot of foods this year…Little Debbies, Fruity Pebbles, Ben and Jerry’s and s’mores…but me and Diet Coke seem stuck with each other. My mom was the same way with Tab when she was my age, but she had the will to switch to the cheap stuff. I, unfortunately, do not. I have accepted that…or at least I have at this moment as I eyeball my last Diet Coke like the addict that I am.

I don’t smoke, I don’t drink to excess (well, not too often anyway), I seem to have the over-eating thing under control, and I don’t even watch soaps. But you try and take away my Diet Coke, and you will draw back a nub.

The Cookie Peace Treaty—aka Forced Disarmament and Some Granny-Style Distractions

As the temperature crept past 100 yesterday, I knew we were in trouble. I tried to get the heathens outside with me to weed the garden, but after fifteen minutes, even I was whimpering in defeat. 100 degrees with 90% humidity drove us back inside, and I think we all had tempers that were noticeably shorter.

Unfortunately, the more bored my children got, the more inclined they were to pick on each other for sheer entertainment. Pretty soon, all-out war erupted, and one bloody nose and some severe punishments later, I knew I needed some methods of distraction…or rather a Plan JJ, since I had already exhausted Plans A through II.

When my mom was my age, our family moved to Los Angeles as a result of my stepdad’s job. This big move was quite the adventure, but it also took my small town Louisiana mother far away from her friends and family, and plopped her into a strange and frightening world. Her driving skills were the first major casualty of the move, as she realized that the freeway was actually an insane asylum moving at 70 miles an hour. To this day, my mom still drives like Andretti, even though we are back in Louisiana… it really is frightening. The second, and more lasting effect of the move was that my mom was often lonely and homesick, and treated this condition in the best way a Southern Lady knows…she cooked, she baked and then she cooked some more. My mom used cooking as the ultimate distraction and Band-Aid for her homesickness. It’s amazing that we did not turn into Weebles, but we did have a gaggle of neighborhood kids who turned up conspicuously around dinner time. My mom rocked, especially when she was a little obsessive around the kitchen.

I am nothing, if not my mother’s daughter. When WWIII erupted yesterday, my first instinct was to drag the heathens into the kitchen and turn on the oven. Cookies are a great distraction for the kids, because they take a while, and the recipes have enough steps to divide up between the two kids, thus keeping them distracted for an hour of blessed peace. Yesterday, we made Cowboy cookies. The original recipe calls for pecans, but I had to leave those out to avoid a picky-eater freak-out. We started with the basics:

cookies 1

And in traditional cookie fashion, creamed the butter and sugars:

cookies 2

While the mixer was accomplishing creamy bliss, we did a quick mix-up of the dry ingredients:

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We added the eggs and vanilla to our butter mixture:

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After mixing in the dry ingredients, we added the oats and the chocolate chips. I like adding the oats because it stretches the recipe, makes the cookies more filling and makes me feel about 0.01% better about feeding my kids a pile of cookies instead of something healthy.

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After baking them up, we had a lovely pile of cookies:

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But more importantly, we bought ourselves a little peace, and the boys were distracted from their driving need to annoy each other to death.

Want some peace of your own?

Here it is:

Cowboy Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 (12-ounce) pkg. chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)

1. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until fluffy.

2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Gradually add this to the butter mixture, mixing well after each addition. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and pecans.

3. Drop dough onto a baking sheet in large tablespoon size amounts (use parchment paper if you are smart…easy clean-up). Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, or until cookies are pretty-pretty.

Serve them up and enjoy the blissful silence, at least until the ceasefire ends and they are back to their shenanigans.

Things Every Mother of Boys Should Have

1. A carpet steam cleaner. Otherwise your carpet will gross you out after a very short time.

2. Walls painted with latex enamel paint…so you can clean off all those things that end up on the walls, while you remind yourself not to even ask what they are.

3. Crates of Band-Aids and buckets of Neosporin. And maybe some stock in both companies…

4. Gallons of Lysol.

5. An inside source for sales on boys’ shoes, because they go through sneakers faster than Speedy Gonzales.

6. A sense of humor…because you have to laugh sometimes, or cry your eyes out…and laughing won’t mess up your mascara…if you actually managed to get mascara on between breaking up fight number 782 and 783.

7. A cast iron stomach.

8. Batteries…oh the batteries.

9. A relatively high tolerance for potty humor, continuous nerf gun strikes, obnoxiousness, toilet seat battles, bugs and dirt.

10. A plunger, a pipe snake and full knowledge where your outside clean-out is.

11. Eyes in the back of your head, and an awareness of where the closest ER is located.

12. A steady supply of wine, margaritas, beer or other restorative cocktails.

13. Full knowledge of all Star Wars characters, the color of their light sabers and why knowing this is important.

14. The ability to bellow “because I said so” in such a manner that it could be heard in the middle of a hurricane.

15. The patience of a saint, because once the little boogers can walk and talk, they have no limits to the havoc they can wreak, even if they look adorable while doing it.

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Hotter than Hades, and How Not To Be a Classless Floozy

It’s freaking hot around here. Miserably hot. Fry an egg on the sidewalk hot.

Me and heat are not the best of pals. Heat itself is one thing. I spent many a year in southern California, so I can do heat.

But in Louisiana, the heat is married to the blasted humidity, and that makes some summer days unbearably oppressive. When Dante was writing his Divine Comedy, I think Louisiana was probably the fifth circle of hell.

When the heat is particularly bad, I do whatever I can to avoid turning on my oven or stove, because doing so is like throwing gasoline onto a bonfire. My air conditioner begins to whimper when it is trying to battle both inside and outside heat, and I refuse to abuse my air conditioner. My sanity rests on the good terms of our relationship, and a pissed-off air conditioner is more frightening than the Exorcist.

In my quest to avoid heating appliances on hot days, I try to come up with meals that are the perfect antidote to the 100 degree assault going on outside my door. These meals usually involve some kind of cold sandwich or salad. I admit that my husband is not too thrilled with these meals, because he really wants hot, manly food at the end of a long work day. However, Husband also respects the air conditioner, and the fact that heat turns me into a rabid hyena, so he usually accepts these meals with good grace…or at least without too much grumbling.

Chicken salad is always a good hot-weather meal, and I usually make it just like Granny: chopped cooked chicken, some diced celery, Hellmann’s mayo and some salt and pepper. (Granny swears that Hellmann’s mayo is the only mayo a southern lady may use. If you go for the cheap stuff, then you are obviously a classless floozy. And dear Lord, don’t ever mention the words Miracle Whip in her presence. The military learned the concept of Shock and Awe from Granny.)

While Granny’s chicken salad is usually my standard, I sometimes like to shake things up a bit. I found another recipe in Southern Living, and I like this chicken salad recipe for a couple of reasons. First, it contains honey, and that gives me a good excuse to incorporate some local honey into our diets, as I hear it may help with our allergies. Second, this recipe is kind of girly, and living in a house full of males, I have to take my girl moments when I can get them.

Despite the pretty picture from Southern Living, I serve this recipe on wheat hoagie rolls. Otherwise it would be too girly, and civil disobedience would ensue.

Honey-Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 3 celery ribs, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Garnish: chopped toasted pecans

Preparation

1. Combine first 4 ingredients.

2. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients. Add to chicken mixture, stirring gently until combined. Garnish, if desired.

When You Know You Will Have a Nervous Breakdown If You Have to Pick Up One More Dirty Sock

Being at Stay-at-Home-Mom is often the best job in the world. Most days, I make my own schedule (whether to fold that laundry now or later), and I have the freedom of many choices, because I really only answer to myself and my family. Unless the kids are sick, or you have enrolled them in 20-too-many activities, you get to be the ultimate boss of what you are doing and when. Don’t get me wrong…I still have to clean my house and feed my family, but if I am having a horrifically bad day, I have the ability to let some things slide. I also get to spend my days with these two clowns:

Noah silly 

gabriel silly 1

And watch every moment of their high-jinks as they grow from my beautiful babies into rambunctious little boys.

Though I am usually very accepting and Zen-like about my life as a SAHM, even I have days when it gets to me. These days don’t come often, but when they do, they result in a severe funk. They are the days when I wake up, and I think I will have a nervous breakdown if I have to pick up one more dirty sock. They are the days when, despite all my efforts of cleaning and cooking the day before, I still wake up to the SAME clothes on the floor, the SAME dishes in the sink, the SAME dirty floors, and I feel like a hamster spinning on my wheel. These are the days when Mom snaps, and tells everyone she is not their bleepity-bleeping maid, while sounding like a shrill, fed-up harpy.

As you know, I live 30 miles away from major civilization, and as a one-income, one-car family, I do not have the ability to go anywhere during the day. This probably exacerbates those days when I get slightly mental. Add isolation to the never-ending repetition of life as a housewife, and you would probably have one of those days too.

Luckily, when these days come, I still keep some conscious bucket of sanity tucked away in the back of my psyche that tells me I am being unreasonable and ungrateful. This small measure of sanity also prods me to be proactive about removing myself from the funk, by any means necessary.

Over the years, I have developed some solid strategies for dealing with these occasional funks. I’ve accepted that those days will come, but I have to put on my big-girl britches and work to get past them. No wallowing allowed, because wallowers become unhappy, bitchy screaming banshees…

 

And we can’t have that.

So, here are some test-driven methods to counteract the impending dirty-sock-nervous-breakdown:

1) Get some validation and inspiration. There are plenty of books that can give you a little inspiration, and communities like Happy Housewives that can give you some commiseration and support. The key, however, is to find material that will uplift you, not contribute to the problem by feeding into your huffiness and self-righteous tantrums. I have several books that I go to, from home-keeping books to motherhood books, and they help remind me why I love this job. As far as online communities go, you have to be careful to find some that are positive and will help you get going again, not groups who like to affirm to one another that they have the right to be miserable harpies.

2) Break the mold. I will try anything to change things up a bit. Maybe I will try some ridiculous new recipe, even though I know my husband and kids will hate it. I do it because I’ve wanted too. I will skip the standard housework, and focus on some special project that has been bugging me for a while, like re-doing a closet, or scrubbing down the cabinets. Yeah, it is still housework, but it breaks me out of the frustration of monotony. I will grab a book and go read in the backyard for 30 minutes. Basically, I will try anything that breaks up the routine, and distracts me from my boiling need to throw the dirty laundry on everyone’s beds and tell them to do it themselves.

3) Know when it is time to call in the big guns. Every once in a while, I go out alone after my husband gets home, for a couple of hours away. I usually catch a movie, or maybe hit the bookstore. My husband is really great about knowing when these times come. Sometimes, we just need alone time away from our homes. Can you imagine how life would be if you never left your office? Well, that is how a SAHM can feel sometimes. You may be relaxing on the couch in the evening, but your mind is still reminding you that you have 16 things you could or should be doing. Removing yourself from the house is often the only way to get some true downtime.

I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned about the occasional SAHM funk is that I have to acknowledge it when it comes, recognize that it is often unreasonable and take proactive steps to get through it. Super-Mom Awesomeness will return in time.

The Zoo—aka My Kids’ Natural Habitat

This weekend, Husband and I packed it up for a little impromptu road trip. After too much time trapped in the house, the kids and I were getting restless, and starting to foam at the mouth a bit. Even the most creative mom and the most patient kid can get a little loopy after too much time in the same 1200 square feet. My husband is a smart man. He recognized the signs of the impending meltdown, and took prompt action.

Luckily for us, we live a little over an hour away from a really neat, albeit small, zoo. The zoo in question has one big selling point: it is super-affordable. Five bucks a ticket in fact. It was cheaper than a movie. And it required lots of walking…which wore the heathens out. Ahhhhh…good times are good, cheap-kid-exhausting times are better.

lepoard

We saw all kinds of beautiful animals, like this one. Youngest saw about 300 turtles, which pleased him to no end. He could care less about the lions, tigers, giraffes or elephants. Oh no, it was the turtles that this kid wanted. Even this episode of feeding the birds could not compare to his turtle obsession:

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Oldest liked everything but the penguins. He said they were too smelly. Having lived in a house with three males and one bathroom, I think I was immune to the smelliness. Oldest did spend a lot of time obsessing over the zoo map. He needed to know where we were at all times, and eventually turned into our Magellan/Tour Guide.

gabriel

The zoo reminded me a lot of my home. It is full of adorable animals, which are constantly hungry, high maintenance, need frequent bathing and require special boundaries, less injurious mayhem will ensue. My kids must have felt the similarities, because they had a fun day communing with their long lost brothers.

And mom got to come home with kids that looked a little something like this:

lion

Don’t worry though. That peace lasted all of 10 minutes. They were back to their Tasmanian devil ways in no time.