Little Bean has a heartbeat!

And a new due date. Doctor says it’s looking like April 13th. Though I have no preference on the date per se, I am seriously bummed that it got pushed back a week. Somehow, already too-tight pants at 8 weeks seemed mysteriously less shameful than too-tight pants at barely 7 weeks. I may have to break down and buy something bigger soon, because I feel like I am cutting off circulation to the lower part of my body. I’ll have to figure out something before Sunday, because no way am I flying across the country in uncomfortable pants.

So far, early pregnancy has been smooth sailing, other than the fact that I am a narcoleptic grandma with a persistent hankering for a Volcano roll, a beef Mexi-melt with extra mild sauce and a bucket of frozen yogurt. All I want to do is sleep, eat, then sleep some more. Seriously, I fell asleep by 8:00 last night, and still felt exhausted when I woke up this morning. This is not the best scenario for a working mom who hasn’t exactly spilled the beans of her impending surprise to her coworkers. I am pretty sure people think I’m just getting chubby and lazy. Not to mention, I have two demanding heathens who need things like food, bedtimes and help with their homework.

I guess I should have figured that pregnancy in my 30’s was not going to be just like pregnancy in my 20’s.


A Surprise Party in Your Mouth?—Or Just One More Way My Kids Make Me Giggle

When Bear was a toddler, he was about the cutest kid ever. And that cuteness is probably what contributed to his being spoiled with a capital “S.”

Even though he couldn’t read, he memorized the words to his favorite book, and would “read” it to any adult who sat down long enough for Bear to climb into his or her lap.

He dragged his blue blanket around like Linus, and was prone to shout Charlie Brown lines at inopportune moments. He was also a picky kid, who liked having things just how he wanted them. For example, he would spend hours on end sorting his cars, blocks or trains into a precise formation, and woe to the person who accidently knocked one out of alignment. G-man figured out Bear’s OCD-ish nature fairly quickly, and as brothers are prone to do, capitalized on it by subtly moving the toys around when Bear wasn’t looking. My husband and I just chalked it up to having yet another weirdo child, and played a customary round of genetic finger-pointing.

One day, my husband tried to figure out what to make Bear for lunch. While he was puttering around the kitchen, Bear toddled in, and stood in front of the food cabinet. Pointing far above his head, he shouted “Surprise Party!” Mind you, the poor kid could barely talk, and certainly could not put more than three words together at this point. Figuring that this was toddler speak at its’ best, my husband and I ignored him, and went about our business.

Unfortunately, this routine played itself out for several days, with Bear becoming increasingly emphatic as he pointed to the pantry, demanding “Surprise Party!”

Finally, my husband realized that there was only one way to solve this mystery. He picked Bear up and stood him on the counter in front of the open food cabinet. He told Bear, “Where’s the Surprise Party?”

And what did Bear do?

He grabbed a package of chicken-flavored ramen and slapped it into my husband’s hand. Apparently, the kids had a hankering for Ramen, and he wanted that for lunch…OR ELSE!

To this day, we are clueless as to why Bear called a 10-cent package of Ramen “Surprise Party!,” but the name stuck and that’s what we’ve called it ever since. I still wonder what is so magical about ramen noodles that my at-the-time 2 year-old equated them to “Surprise Party!” I guess that’s one mystery I never will solve…

The Curse of the Grocery Checkout Line


I think someone put a checkout line hex on me.

Whenever I go to the grocery store lately, I inevitable end up in the most annoying, slow, frustrating checkout line ever.

Example A: A couple of weeks ago, I ended up in line behind a guy that was buying $2000 worth of gift cards, all in $20 increments. I didn’t discover this happy fact until my 100 items were already loaded onto the conveyor belt.

Example B: Last week, I ended up behind a group of roommates who were dividing their grocery budget. They proceeded to argue about who would pay for every item, and kept having the cashier scan, then remove items as the total went beyond their ability to pay. Did I mention they were intoxicated and laughed riotously as they made a scene? I waited in line for 35 minutes. Then I went home and had a cocktail.

Example C: Recently, I had a checker that picked up an item, looked at it for a good five seconds, scanned it, then bagged EVERY item in its’ own individual bag. She was clearly under some medicinal influence.

Example D: After waiting in line for 20 minutes, I finally get to the checker, only to have her tell me she thinks she lost her wallet, and I need to sit tight while she goes to look for it. I might have bought it if she didn’t walk 20 feet away to flirt with another employee who was about to leave for the day, only to return without ever looking for said wallet.

I know what you’re thinking…why don’t I just get into another line when these kinds of shenanigans happen? Well, my grocery store seems to think that four checkers manning “20 items or less” lines and one checker manning a regular line (out of 35 possible checkout lines) is PLENTY for the busiest time of day.

Sometimes, I feel a lot like Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

First-Day Jitters


I sent the heathens off this morning to their first full day of school. Just like every year, they were a little nervous, but unlike years past,  they actually managed to keep their jitters pretty well under control.

Every year since they started school, the boys always get a little teary the first week, and it breaks my heart every single time. Their nervous tears have gotten better over the years, and thank goodness, because I don’t think I could do another tour of Demon-Baby screaming the place down for the first 30 minutes of school. Even with this gradual improvement, I still feel like an emotional wreck when I see their trembling lower lips as they realize that I am leaving them at school…like for real. I know that the tears are just a sign of apprehension due to new classes, new teachers and a new routine to learn. I also know that, by week three, they won’t flinch as the run through the doors to see their friends. However, I still have to get through this interim period of adjustment in which their little watery eyes shovel the Mom-guilt on me each morning.

I’ve also learned the hard way that my attempts to soothe them only make things worse. If anything, they get more teary and clingy, with a nice, gut-wrenching, “But Mama, I want to stay with yooouuuuu!!!” thrown in for good measure.

Even my big-boy 4th grader gets a severe case of first-day nerves:


But he did a really good job this morning of keeping his chin up.

So, I mostly avoided the tears today, but I confess I did depart  the school gym at a high rate of speed when I dropped them off.  I also confess that, while they have their teary, first-week jitters, I always have my own teary, painful, panicky feeling that I’m leaving my babies; and it sometimes takes everything I have not to run back in, snatch them up and hug them to pieces.

Ahhh, School, How I’ve Missed You So…

Three more days until the happiest day on Earth! Yep, it’s back to school time, and I am so ready for it. My poor kids are bored to death, and after bring trapped in the house because of the heat, they are in dire need of some active playtime with friends, even if it is just in the school gym.

As exciting as this blessed event is, I need to circle the wagons and gather up all my weeknight recipes, creative lunch ideas and long-forgotten organizational plans. Between homework, projects and activities, I’ll be lucky to make sure the boys make it out the door with clean clothes on. I know my back-to-school scatterbrain is about it hit, so I try to plan out my meals and lunches through the first two full weeks of school; I need all the help I can get while we all get back into the routine. That much planning takes a little time, but I know it will pay off when I am scrambling to adjust to new homework styles and PTA meetings. Guess we know what I’ll be doing on Saturday.

In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite weeknight recipes that I found on Southern Living’s website. This dish utilizes my BFF (a.k.a. my crock pot), so that when I hit the door after work, all I have to do is boil some noodles and steam a vegetable for a side dish. I love making this on a crisp Fall day, and nothing beats coming home to a dinner that is 90% complete.


  • 1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 1 (3- to 4-lb.) boneless chuck roast, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (1-oz.) envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1 (14-oz.) can beef broth
  • 1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


1. Place mushrooms and onion in a lightly greased 5-to 6-qt. slow cooker.

2. Sprinkle roast with pepper. Cook roast in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until browned.

3. Place roast on top of mushrooms and onion in slow cooker. Sprinkle onion soup mix over roast; pour beef broth and tomato sauce over roast. Depending on your preference, you made want to add some salt and pepper, but remember, onion soup mix is kind of salty. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 10 hours or until meat shreds easily with a fork.

4. Transfer roast to a cutting board; cut into large chunks, removing any large pieces of fat. Keep roast warm.

5. Skim fat from juices in slow cooker; stir in tomato paste and Italian seasoning. Stir together cornstarch and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl until smooth; add to juices in slow cooker, stirring until blended. Increase slow cooker heat to HIGH. Cover and cook 40 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Stir in roast. Serve with egg noodles.

The Library Lady Thinks I’m Stalking Her

My town has an extensive network of neighborhood libraries. However, each library branch is kind of on the small side, and book selection is sometimes limited. So, once I exhausted my local branch, I haven’t really been back to the library since.

Well, lo and behold, they now have an online system in which I can search all the books at all the libraries, then have my selections put on hold and transferred to my local branch. I guess they’ve had this for a while, but now with the automated system, I can put 20 books on hold in less than five minutes, all from my iPhone.

Needless to say, I have been to the library no less than six times in the past two weeks.

I bet the Book-Mobile people hate me right about now.

$5 Buys Peace, Harmony and a Christmas Gift…or Ten.

Oohh boy. Today was a recipe for disaster.

It’s Saturday and it’s 109 degrees outside.

My husband had to work. And my boys were so bored that they were in danger of dismantling the house. Added to this dire situation was the fact that normal indoor activities were off the table. The movie theater is too expensive, and we still have an oven to pay off, among other things. I would’ve taken them to an indoor arcade or fun center, but those germ factories are NOT where the boys need to be hanging out during the week before school starts. The last thing I need is two kids with a stomach virus on the first day of school.

However, I was determined to keep them under control, and maybe off the video games for just a little while. First, we finished up the school shoe shopping, and then headed over to Hobby Lobby so I could ogle the Autumn eye candy and peruse the yarn. I also wanted to walk around anywhere that was air-conditioned. While we were there, I found a plastic loom and a bag of nylon loops for about $5. Though G-man looked a little skeptical, I convinced him how UNBELIEVEABLY FUN it would be to make potholders for everyone for Christmas. Either he sensed the rising hysteria in my voice, or his boredom was so desperate that even he was willing to grasp at straws.

Regardless, that loom bought me several hours of unplugged peace. Talk about $5 well-spent.

And if you’re one of our relatives reading this, you’d better act dang surprised this Christmas when you receive a mountain of potholders.

Obsession—Or How To Keep Sane With a 107 Degree Forecast

As the summer heat continues to beat down on us (um, 107°, seriously?!?), I’ve retreated into crafting mode. I’ve already begun planning for Christmas, because starting early is the only way to keep our budget from imploding come December. By employing a little creativity and several dozen craft-store coupons, I hope to have everyone but the kids crossed off my shopping list by late Fall.

Unfortunately, I am on an indefinite candle-making hiatus. My heart is just not in it right now.

Even if I felt like cranking out a candle or ten, the sheer heat outside means that I can’t punish my air conditioner any more than necessary, and the added heat from melting pounds of hot wax would probably do it in. With candles on the proverbial back burner, I racked my brain for anything I could work on that may have gift potential later. I needed something to keep my idle hands from strangling someone in a heat-induced frenzy.

So, I finally decided to teach myself to knit…again. I tried to learn how to knit many years ago, and was overwhelmed in the first five minutes. I think I still have the yarn buried in my closet somewhere. With a book, some needles and cheap yarn, I got after it…only to feel like I was wrestling a rabid octopus. Feeling a mite discouraged, I dropped into the local yarn shop for inspiration, and hit the Holy Grail. After explaining my plight to the shopkeeper, she sat me down and gave me a ten-minute crash course on casting on, and the knit stitch. By the next day, I knitted my first garter stitch scarf, and was on my way to learning the purl stitch. Later that week, I found Ravelry, and was sucked into searching for information about patterns, yarns and anything else that struck my fancy.

I’m still an abject novice, but it’s safe to say that I’ve been ensnared by the knitting bug. Guess we know what my family is getting for Christmas!

A Cost-Benefit Analysis—Or I’ll Show You Where You Can Stick Your Orange Duo-Tang Folder

The new school year is just around the corner, and I’ve been busy trying to get the heathen’s ready. Between weekly trips to the library to find/renew their summer reading books, shopping for pants that actually fit, and trying to find shoes that won’t fall apart by mid-October, I’ve procrastinated a bit too much on procuring school supplies.

In years past, I’ve always purchased the supplies through the school, in pre-selected and packaged bundles. Though these pre-done bundles were a little high in cost, I knew they were part-fundraiser for the school, and they saved me from driving all over town to find duo-tang folders to match the teachers’ ridiculous color preferences. (Orange, really?)

However, when I found out just how much those “convenient” bundles were going to cost this year, I balked and decided to buy the dang supplies myself.

Early Saturday morning, the heathens and I set off to Target. After 30 minutes of what felt like the scavenger hunt from Hell, we managed to find 95% of their supplies. All that was missing was a very specific type of binder, some manila paper and, you guessed it, an orange duo-tang folder. Apparently, Target foolishly assumed that red, blue, green, yellow and purple were enough of a duo-tang color selection this year.

Two stores and a lot of swear words later, we emerged victorious. I saved about 50% from what the bundles cost, so I guess that’s something. However, I now see that the bundles are really a siren’s song of “what are you willing to pay to avoid such headaches?” As I waited in my third checkout line of the day, I was probably willing to pay anything to make the torture stop.

Well, I have a full year to recover from this expedition, but it remains to be seen if I’ll be able to resist the temptation next time. I can say with certainty, however, that if any school supply list next year even mentions the words “orange” and “duo-tang” in the same sentence, then you can bet temptation will win out.