Monday, May 21, 2007

Definition of Stupidity?

A mother telling her 2 year old that she's going on a big airplane, and flying to Ireland to see everyone who's ever been to visit us, and a few more besides, 5 days before the fact!

'Mommy, we go in airplane right now?'

'C'mon mommy, rets go, now'

'Mommy, we ready to rock 'n' roll?'

'Mommy, I help you pack the supercases'

'I wanna go Ireland, right now!'

'No mommy, Dora snacks NOT for the plane, I want Dora snacks RIGHT NOW'

Definition of frustration?:

A mother trying to explain:

'two more sleeps before we go',

'not today birdy, 2 more days' and,

'no, Baby J doesn't need to take those 0-3 month trousers that he's grown out of and that you've managed to drag from the bottom of the closet!'

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Birthday List

I know this is another ‘list’ post, but I can’t let this weekend go by without a blog entry to commemorate this momentous occasion! Tomorrow I will officially hit my mid thirties – (yikes!) However, instead of giving in to the thoughts of, ‘crap! I’m getting old’, or examining my face for wrinkles (I just tell myself I slept funny, and they are pillow creases imprinted on my face), or other tell tale signs of aging, I decided to take the positive route and reflect on all the good things in life.

So, in honour of my 35th birthday, here are 35 things that make me smile:

  1. My baby boy’s face each morning when I go to pick him up. And, the way his arms and legs go crazy as he ‘tells’ me he’s pleased to see me.
  2. My daughter’s anticipation of her trip to Nana’s house, and her eagerness to ‘rets go and pack our supercases’.
  3. The fact that I will get to hug my Mum and Dad next week!
  4. Knowing that I don’t have to be the one to rush out to a job in the mornings.
  5. Staying at home, even though the ‘bosses’ can be very demanding and downright unreasonable at times.
  6. Lasagna (European style with béchamel sauce).
  7. Moose Tracks Ice Cream.
  8. Pizza and beer.
  9. Fruit Pastilles.
  10. Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha.
  11. The movie ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.
  12. Everybody Loves Raymond (I only discovered this recently and love watching the reruns).
  13. The fact that Rosie O’Donnell is leaving ‘The View’ (at last), not that I get to watch it that often since our tv must be faulty and is somehow ‘stuck’ on Noggin!
  14. Paula Deen, and all that butter!
  15. Recent British Movies, like The Holiday, Love Actually, Wimbledon, and watching them in the movie theatre and laughing out loud when nobody else does (I’m assuming it’s because some of the humour or particularly British swear words are lost on an American audience at times, and not because I’m a fool who laughs in all the wrong places!)
  16. Our healthy, happy families.
  17. Old friends who still keep in touch, despite all our kids, hectic days and different time zones making this contact sporadic at best.
  18. New friends that have helped me not feel so lonely when I’m so far from family and old friends.
  19. Grandmothers who spoil our children, like we were spoiled by our own grandmothers.
  20. Aunts and Uncles who spoil them just as much!
  21. The fact that I am only 6 pounds heavier now than I was the day I got married (which was less than 4 years ago, but I have had two kids since then!)
  22. The fact that I’m still nursing, and this means I can stay only 6 pounds heavier than the day I got married, despite the inordinate number of calories I consume on a daily basis!
  23. I found a great pair of jeans that fit me the other night (should have bought another pair.)
  24. My husband has been able to lower his cholesterol because I’ve cooked him healthier meals.
  25. That I know how to cook healthy meals (and quite a few less healthy ones!)
  26. Puppies make me smile, but not enough to make me want one in my own house.
  27. The smell of cut grass, that I can smell right now as my husband mows the lawn.
  28. Snuggling with my babies – especially after a bath and right before bedtime.
  29. Dimples on my baby’s soft, pudgy hands.
  30. A clean and tidy house (especially if I didn’t have to do it).
  31. When my husband says ‘I love you’.
  32. When my daughter says ‘I ruv you’.
  33. Baby giggles.
  34. That I carried two beautiful lives inside me, nurtured them and brought them safely into the world.
  35. Thirty five, wonderful, happy, healthy, and fun years of my life, here’s to many, many more!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Two for the price of one.

Memes that is!

I have been tagged by Jenny at Absolutely Bananas, and The Good Woman at My Wee Scottish Blog, (a great blog I discovered recently, you should check it out) to complete two decidedly different memes.

I am grateful for these, as I hurriedly gather our things together, sort holiday(vacation) laundry, go through various 'to do' lists, what better break from the madness that is getting ready for a long trip, than a cup of coffee and a bit o' blogging. Memes are the perfect way to do this without having to scratch around for anything resembling earth shattering (or even mildly interesting), topics!

Jenny wants to know what I'll be like when I'm old.

When I'm an old woman I will be:
  1. Grateful that I made it to old womanhood!
  2. Fat, if I keep eating these Milky Ways (Mars Bars) that make their way mysteriously into the shopping trolley, and later my fridge!
  3. Possibly still potty training my daughter?
  4. Still in love with my husband.
  5. Happy to have had a life well lived, and filled with many wonderful people and memories.

Sorry it took me so long to get around to this one, as I said in a comment recently, isn't it annoying when life gets in the way of blogging?

The Good Woman is asking me to reveal eight facts about myself, and never one to turn down a chance to talk about myself, here you go:

  1. I am terrified of the flights we have to undertake in the week ahead, not terrified of flying (well, not really), just terrified of my toddler and the mayhem that will inevitably surround us as we lurch through check-ins, security and boarding with two small children, their stroller and their nappy bags, trailing our luggage and sanity behind us! (Just remembered I need to add this Rescue Remedy to my shopping list. Not as effective as a stiff drink, but alas as much as a nursing mother can get away with!)

  2. I became an Auntie for the first time at the end of January, and I get to meet my new nephew for the first time next week. I can't wait to get my hands on him and hug him and kiss his gorgeous chubby cheeks, right on his equally gorgeous dimples, which are a bit like an 'x marks the spot' for kisses, really!

  3. I recently went back to Walmart to pay for a $5 hand towel that the cashier forgot to scan (I bought two towels amidst all my groceries, she must have thought there was only one). Lots of people think I'm daft for doing it, but it just bugged me that I knew I had something I didn't pay for.

  4. I am always one step behind in this blogging gig. I only started a few weeks ago, and each time I feel like I've learned something to keep up with everyone else, for example mybloglog, readers, sitemeter, technorati - (still not sure on technorati!) then everyone else moves on and I'm back feeling like the dunce of the class again. For example, how people can read my blog 'under the radar' or in 'lurk' mode bugs me! Not because I can't see them reading it (that is nice though), but because I don't know how to do it on someone else's blog, and before you call me a stalker, my only motivation for wanting to know is so that I don't look like the eager beaver checking back several times a day to blogs to follow up on any comments that might be interesting to read lol! So any of you seasoned bloggers who want to take pity on me and direct me to Blogging 101, or give me your own personal tutorial, I'm all ears!

  5. I love musicals. Doris Day? Rogers and Hammerstein? Gene Kelly? Bring them on. My husband detests any movie in which 'people just burst into song, out of the blue, and for no reason', and sadly I don't get to watch many of them these days. I love stage musicals too, Les Miserables, and Miss Saigon being my favourites.

  6. I used to play the Irish Harp, and the Oboe. The Oboe was a short lived experiment. I wasn't good at it straight away, and so I gave up. Plus, that reed was too darned tickly on my lips! The Harp playing fizzled out when I left school, but I credit my time playing it with my ability to pick out tunes on the piano.

  7. I am a procrastinator extraordinaire. I wish I wasn't because it costs money at times, like when we recently had to pay over $200 for our son's passport because we needed to pay extra for expediting fees and two way overnight postage so that we'd have it in time for our trip! My excuse for being a procrastinator is that I do my best work under pressure, and it drives my husband nuts.

  8. My coffee is now cold because I didn't think I'd take this long to do this ha ha! Just another example of how I can't concisely state facts, but have to ramble over many sentences instead!
As the tradition of memes goes I am supposed to tag others for this, but I'm going to follow my recent trend of saying 'feel free to do it if you want' because to the sound of 'mommy I did pee pee on the carpet' it's time for me to wrap up this post, pronto!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My poor, 'drunk', cranky baby boy.

My seven month old has been monitored pretty much since he was born for a possible hearing deficiency in his left ear. To date tests have always concluded with the Audiologist saying 'I think there might be a mild hearing loss, we need to do more tests to figure out what and where this loss is'.

Today she figured it out.

He had a sedated ABR (Audio Brain Response) test, where the nurse gave him disgusting medicine (chloral hydrate - and yes, that is what Anna Nicole died from!), to get him, and keep him asleep. This is the second test like this he's had, since the first one couldn't be completed as he woke up before the Audiologist could finish her measurements.

He did a lot better than me and took his meds like a champ, but watching your baby go all limp and floppy in a matter of minutes is alarming, when you're used to seeing them gently lull off to a gradual and easy sleep.

Watching his head scrubbed and electrodes attached on his forehead, and around his ears, and looking at him laying there with wires from his head, his ears, and the monitoring devices attached to his feet is hard. Watching the look of concern on the face of the nurse and nurse practitioners when his oxygen levels aren't what they should be nearly makes me throw up.

I found myself choking back the tears and telling myself, 'this could be worse, lots of other moms deal with much worse things, count yourself lucky this is not some horrible, life-threatening situation you're in.'

Then I find myself asking 'Why should I choke this back?' - yes I know there are worse things, but it is still horrible watching this kind of thing happen to your baby, to find out whether or not he has a 'problem', and projecting about what that 'problem' will entail in the future.

I have stayed at home today and let him sleep, and cuddled him (as much as his sister will allow) when he's been awake. He's still floppy, acts like he's 'drunk' and he's getting cranky at times which is very out of character for him.

Today's findings are that he has a moderate problem in a specific hearing frequency. Definitely not a major issue, and hopefully not something that will require major intervention such as a hearing aid. It's still hard.

We now have to set up consultations with ENT specialists, and a Geneticist to find out what if anything has caused this and whether or not it is likely to get worse. He'll also be referred to an 'Early Start' program (whatever that is?) to monitor his speech development. I know these are all good things, that this has been detected early, that he'll be monitored in case it deteriorates and intervention can take place as appropriate. It also gives me a heads up that if there is a genetic reason that I can watch for issues in my other child. I still hate it.

I hate that I have to keep taking him back for more appointments.

I hate that he has to see more specialists.

I hate that they talk about hearing loss.

I hate that when trying to explain all of this to people they think something is 'wrong' with him.

I hate that my sweet, placid, loving, baby has to be poked and prodded and put to sleep.

I hate feeling like this is somehow my fault. Did something happen in utero?

I hate that he's all floppy still from the medication, and although he's trying to smile through it, more often he's looking at me as if to say 'what happened to me mom?'.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Makeover Monday Update

As I posted earlier in the week, I achieved my goal of learning a new piano piece by reading the music instead of taking my easy way out and sounding out the tune myself. I am pleased that I was able to do it, but I can tell you that I was a little too focused on this – and very little else got done.

Never fear, trusty husband came to the rescue this weekend and with a combined effort, we are now in a clean, tidy house and laundry is up to date once more! I have even started working on a more ambitious piece, Vivaldi’s ‘Autumn', from the Four Seasons, and loving every minute of it. It’s been great to sit down and do something for me (aside from reading blogs!), the baby gurgles away to himself in the crib, and at times Miss E sits alongside me playing her own tune on the upper keys – everybody’s happy, and no television involved!

Since I am way, way behind (read haven't done a thing) in preparing for our upcoming vacation to Ireland, this week will be spent running around like a madwoman (no change there then), shopping for gifts for family and friends at home, and getting suitcases packed. So, I will be sitting out the next few Makeover Mondays. Although, I am looking forward to seeing how all the other participants have done, and what lofty goals you set for yourselves for the weeks ahead.

To check out other participants and their progress, go visit Moodswingingmommy at Am I Mad or am I just a Mommy?

Mystique? Mistake? Miss Condescending!

I had no intentions of commenting on Leslie Bennetts’ book The Feminine Mistake, and the debates rumbling around the 'blogosphere' and beyond. It has been discussed at length, passionately, and articulately. However, having caught a segment on Saturday’s Today Show, and having read a little more about, and by, the author I just had to throw my thoughts out there.

In this piece on The Huffington Post, Leslie Bennetts herself responds to criticism about her book. Justifiably, she is irritated by women bashing her book without even reading it. Well, Leslie, go ahead and feel irritated at me too, because as yet, I have not read your book, but I am basing this post on what I have read, and on what you said on the Today Show. I will read the book, and may have further comments, but I’ll borrow it from the library, since I am a stay at home mom, and you know, I am probably not financially astute enough to have the spare cash to actually purchase it.

How can Bennetts not see why her book, and the tone in which she defends it, be offensive to stay at home moms? I absolutely agree that there are women who are naïve about staying at home, and their perception of how easy it will be to return to the workforce. I agree that there are women who should have better financial preparations made in the event that something happens to their husband, or his ability to provide for the family. If the content of the book makes some stay at home moms pay attention, review their financial situations then great –it will have made a positive contribution to improving the security of some at home moms. BUT, is it not more likely that the very audience Leslie Bennetts claims to be concerned about, and whom she says she wants to help, will be so completely alienated by the language she uses, starting with the title of her tome, that none of these concerns will be heard or acted upon by ‘at risk’ stay at home mothers? To point the finger at an entire sub-segment of mothers and tell them they have made a mistake – in my opinion, is not very conducive to a respectful dialog with prospective readers.

Bennetts claims to have written the book to address bias in media reporting about the choice women make to stay at home. She states of the media:

“They never seemed to mention the risks of economic dependency -- or the myriad benefits of work. As a result, women were being lulled into a dangerous sense of complacency about relinquishing their financial autonomy. Why wasn't anyone telling the truth about how much they were sacrificing -- or what the consequences could be?”

Not all of us are oblivious to risk, and neither do we all expect to waltz back into our careers with ease. Has Bennetts considered that perhaps, all too aware of the risks, we have made the decision to stay at home, and chosen to make these sacrifices in spite of this knowledge? Making the decision to stay at home, does not negate any future earning power. Does Bennetts not consider the fact that many intelligent, adaptable and resourceful women made the decision to stay at home, and that these skills can be drawn upon in the event that, God forbid, something happens to their husbands?

Making the decision to stay at home does not erase our intelligence nor does it suddenly turn us all into ostriches! For my part, I fully intend to return to work, but not until my children are older, and I doubt if I will even attempt to return to the type of career I had before. The ‘rat race’, the stress, the commute and, yes dare I say it, the salary?, are not worth it to me, nor are they compatible with the family dynamic and lifestyle I envisage us being in going forward.

On the Today Show Bennetts says, and I paraphrase, that women do not consider ‘the enormous value of meaningful work’ done by women who work outside the home.

Language like this is offensive to stay at home moms, and not because, in Bennetts’ view (as she voiced in on the Today Show piece), that we are defensive about our choice, or that we think she’s right, instead it is because implied in the statement that we have failed to consider ‘the enormous value of meaningful work’, is that the work we do at home, raising our children, is not enormously valuable, or meaningful. This hits at the very core of what being a stay at home mother is all about for many of us. We have made a decision, and one not taken lightly, to ‘opt out’ of paid employment, careers, work outside the home, however you want to describe it, to focus on being primary nurturers to our children. Not a choice for everyone I agree, and just because I stay at home, this does not mean in turn that I dismiss the value of meaningful work of others who choose to work outside the home.

From the stay at home viewpoint, I can highlight a glaring media bias, that the media rarely depict the benefits of staying at home, benefits for the mothers, as well as for individual families – and no these are not financial benefits, but then so much of what I value in life has no financial bearing at all. Bennetts cites the fact that multiple studies have yet to prove that children of stay at home moms do better than children of working moms – fine, I don’t have any major issue with this – simply stating this however ignores the fact that some of us do it because we want to, because this is the choice that is right for us. For its part, I was pleased with the Today Show segment on Saturday, since it was a more balanced look at why women ‘opt out’, than I’ve seen of late, and it wasn't just another piece portraying stay at home moms as second class in some way.

Sweeping generalizations on any subject will raise hackles.

Bennetts says:

“These days women are so defensive about their choices that many seem to have closed their minds entirely. Unfortunately this will not serve our best interests, but apparently it's preferable to facing the facts. "The Latest Polemic Against Stay-At-Home Moms!" was the headline on one recent essay about The Feminine Mistake. If this were accurate, I wouldn't mind someone complaining about it, but my book is not a polemic; it's a painstakingly reported collection of information and interviews. If you want to disagree with my conclusions, you need to address the facts on which they're based rather than acting as if these were simply matters of opinion. They're not.

But you can't tell that to the stay-at-home brigade, who are enraged that I wrote it at all. When Glamour published a brief essay adapted from the book, the magazine was inundated with furious letters denouncing me. "I am so insulted by Leslie Bennetts!" and "I am so offended by Leslie Bennetts!" were typical openers. Of course, these women hadn't read the book either, but they weren't about to let the evidence get in the way of their pre-conceived biases.”

My observation is that the ‘stay at home brigade’ are enraged because of the condescending tone Bennetts uses, and the very cynical part of me questions Bennetts motivation to produce this book. I’m wondering if rather than her almost philanthropic claims that:

“naively, I assumed that once women were offered more accurate information, they would be eager to get it. After all, women aren't stupid; it's true that they've been deserting the labor force in record numbers, but surely the problem was just that unfortunate information gap. Wouldn't they want to protect their own interests by educating themselves about the dangers that lie ahead -- and to plan accordingly?”,
that instead she spotted the lucrative opportunity in weighing in on, and stirring up, ‘The Mommy Wars’, (another reason I’ll be borrowing this book from the library!)

My last comment on this, (at least until I read the book), relates to the premise of the book being that stay at home mothers are giving up too much, we’re not prepared should disaster strike, and we will no doubt be left destitute if our husband is not there, or not in a position to provide. Where is the guarantee then, that if a woman works outside the home and earns her own money, that she will by default be better prepared if something happens to her partner? In this age of dual incomes, and lifestyles fuelled by dual incomes, I have to wonder if many a working mother wouldn’t be just as screwed?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

This has crept up on me this year. Up until this week when I read several Mothers Day posts, and saw the cheesy heartwarming commercials on tv, I thought Mother's Day was to be May 27th. One reason for not being so tuned into this date is that Mother's Day in Ireland was celebrated back in March, so I haven't been scrambling to think of a gift for my own mother, she had to make do with a Hallmark e-card.

Reading several blog pieces has me really thinking about Mother's Day this year and rather than dismiss it as another 'Hallmark Holiday', I am enjoying this time of reflection, about my own mother, and myself as a mother. I am fortunate to have a very close bond with my Mum, she is a 'real mom', not perfect, but she never claimed to be. Growing up, Mum was my parent when I needed her to be, and my friend when I needed her to be. We have our disagreements - but we always kiss and makeup and despite being so far away these days, we maintain this closeness. I am intensely proud of her, and proud of the woman that she has helped me become.

I am thinking a lot about Mum lately, too, since exactly a week after Mother's Day she will celebrate 35 years since she brought me into the world. 35 years since she paced the floor of that clinic in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, without so much as an aspirin, alone while my Dad waited in a house nearby with a Spanish Priest. Can you imagine? In this age of having all family and friends in the delivery room - how scary must it have been to have to give birth for the first time on your own? (Well, there was a doctor of course, but you know what I mean).

I know a lot of women have a close bond with their mothers, and so when she's not there anymore, I am sure the pain is very difficult on days like this. Days when you probably want to pick up the phone and say 'hi'. Two ladies' posts have touched me in their loving tributes to mothers no longer with them, I wanted to share them, here and here. I'm thinking of you, and all of you whom have lost your mothers, and hope that you can reflect with love and smiles on all the happy times you spent together.

To the mothers feeling a different kind of pain, that of the loss of their child, like this one, and those I wrote about here, my thoughts are with you also, and I trust that you can also reflect on happier times.

Other posts have given me insight into the lives of women who have not enjoyed close, or even good relationships with their mom and this post in particular fills me with admiration for women who have become great moms despite the poor example they may have had from their own mothers. In a world where all too often cycles and family history tend to repeat themselves, it takes a strong woman with integrity to rise above this, my hat is off to you.

Thinking of myself as a mother, and my first Mother's Day as a mom to two kids, I consider myself tremendously blessed, to have two beautiful, healthy and thriving children. Lately I have found myself wondering how on earth I ever thought I could be a mother. A toddler testing every known boundary will do that to a person, but on balance, although there are days when I am tearing my hair out, and I do sometimes take the path of least resistance for the sake of five minutes peace (chocolate chips in rice krispies yesterday morning being a good example, just because she asked over, and over, and over again!), I know I'm doing a pretty good job. I'm aware that there are things I could do better, and surely this awareness will mean I will do better. This Mother's Day I will also be thinking of troubled moms who can't find a way to do better, and will hope and pray that they ask for and get whatever help they need, if and when they need it.

As I ask my husband not to break the bank buying Mother's Day trinkets for me from the kids, (which always feels weird to me since I'm not his mom, a fact I sometimes have to remind him of, and the kids don't have a clue yet what Mother's Day is), I say 'Happy Mother's Day' to all moms reading this - I hope you have a great day and get to indulge in something you love, and that your husbands and/or other family members give you the day off.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Rain Dance Anyone?

With two hundred odd wild fires burning across Florida, twenty of them major, I feel the stress factor rising.

The air quality is horrible here right now - I open my patio doors and it feels like all the neighbours are burning trash in their backyards. Today and yesterday were better than earlier in the week, but the weather experts say smoke is going to be lingering courtesy of what was Tropical Storm Andrea. This makes being outside unpleasant, and those of you with toddlers will know how some days you! My inconvenience aside - it's very unsettling to see what these fires are doing to the atmosphere, to people with breathing difficulties not to mention any settled areas under threat.

Growing up in Ireland, I'd cheerfully have gone a long stretch without rain, it rains all the time there (the price of all that emerald-ness), but boy do we need some of the wet stuff around here.

So as the rhyme goes 'Rain Rain go away, come again another day' - today would work!

Next stop Carnegie Hall!

I know I should be saving this for Monday for the Makeover Monday update, but I can’t wait to reveal that I have nailed my piano piece! Actually I pretty much had it down on Monday evening, a shock to me I can tell you.

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly the most demanding classical masterpiece – rather a simple, 16 bar Minuet in G by Johann Sebastian Bach – think ‘Baby Einstein’ music and you’ve pretty much got it. Still, I read the music and have been practicing so that I can play it without stumbling or hesitating.

To give you an idea of how much of a challenge this is for me. I can play the piano pretty well. I can listen to a melody and sit down and replicate it, adding my own harmonizing chords with the left hand. While this to any (non musical) passerby may sound good, I am never satisfied with it. I want to be able to play properly, but I’m lazy and impatient, and I just hate reading the music.

The Treble Clef music (played by the right hand, the one that looks like a squiggly ‘g’), is always easy for me to read and very easy to play right off. It’s reading the Bass Clef music (the one that looks like a backwards ‘c’ and is played by the left hand) that stumps me, and as for coordinating this with the right hand? Well, lets just say it’s always been quicker for me to ‘sound it out’ myself and come up with something which is ‘close enough’, but never good enough, hence my quest to Maestro-dom!

Determined to do this right – I sat down and played the right hand piece first – very easy. I then cheated, got my pen out and wrote the letter of each left hand note beside the music. This meant I didn’t have to mentally go through the F.A.C.E, and E.G.B.D.F (Every Good Boy Deserves Football) acronyms in order to identify the notes! It worked and stopped me from getting frustrated and abandoning it.

My husband returned last night, and proud of my accomplishment, I played the piece for him. His reaction was underwhelming to say the least – not being a classical music aficionado he didn’t recognize the ‘tune’ and therefore did not feel qualified to say if it was good or not! You would think this could have worked in my favour in that he would not have noticed the bum notes that may or may not have crept in as I was playing, but no. I explained to him that, for me, reading this music and playing it, is like reading two sentences of a book and speaking them, all at the same time – he still didn’t get it, and just gave me that sympathetic ‘whatever makes you happy, dear’ look.

Oh well, I’m pretty chuffed with it, and inspired to try something more challenging next time. My ultimate goal is to be able to sight read any piece of music and play - like a proper musician. This however will definitely be a long term goal!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Like fly paper for weirdos

That’s me! That, or I have a flashing light above me that draws them in. How else can I explain why people come up to me in places like Walmart and tell me random things like "it’s 3 weeks ‘til hurricane season hits, and you better be prepared, we’re gettin’ one way worse than Katrina this time, and you better be ready"? All this yesterday as I am (unsuccessfully) trying to secure my toddler back into the cart, with my infant strapped to my front in his snugli! All, in the kids towels aisle. I’m thinking though I should have asked him how he could be so certain that we’re in for a ‘worse than Katrina’ storm, I might just have asked him for this week’s lotto numbers, too.

This is not the first time something like this has happened to me. I have been accosted by panhandlers and other weirdos in Walmart’s carpark – so maybe it’s not ME, maybe it’s Walmart that is like fly paper for weirdos then?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Makeover Monday

It's Monday? Again? Already?!

It barely seems like yesterday that I sat here and typed my seemingly manageable goal of making more time for me and dreamed of sessions at my other keyboard hearing myself play a little bit of Tchaikovsky or the like. Where did the darn week go then? Just as I'm getting round to finding time to actually sit down and get the music book out of the plastic bag that I carried it home from the store in, I find myself at another Monday and not only am I supposed to be playing away, but have other goals in store for this coming week!

I failed miserably at the piano piece last week, but did enjoy a great dinner out with my friends, and vow to make that a more regular feature (it's 8 months since we did it last!)

Moodswingingmommy at Am I Going Mad or am I just a Mommy is keeping us on our toes with Makeover Monday so rather than throw in the towel, I'll try this again. I'm going to learn a piano piece this week! That is my only 'formal' goal since the hubs is going to be away 3 out of the 5 workday nights this week my real goal will be surviving until Friday, with a full head of hair and sanity intact!

Check out Makeover Monday at Am I going Mad or am I just a Mommy for instructions on how you can participate.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Family memories all baked up in love.

We're heading out of town this weekend, to my cousin and her family. She celebrated her 40th Birthday last week, and knowing that she will have all the spa gift cards, and 'smelly stuff' one would want, I have resorted to making edible goodies for her (creative and economic all in one - always a bonus for this stay at home mother!)

The first batch of chocolatey goodness I'll be bringing is her favourite family treat - our Nana's Caramel Squares. As I was baking these this morning I found myself fondly reminiscing about Nana, to the point where I could almost feel her there standing beside me, watching her soft freckled hands, knuckles swollen with arthritis, lovingly rubbing the butter into the oats and flour. She was 75 when she died, not that old these days, and I was only 13, yet my memories of times spent at her house are vivid and plenty. I remember her patience as we (another cousin and myself) made Caramel Squares in her kitchen, on the big red table and we put a whole can of condensed milk into the base instead of the caramel mixture. Never one to waste a thing, she proceeded to get another can of milk for the caramel, and used our 'modified' base anyway. I think those were the crunchiest ones we'd ever tasted lol!

The timing of my reflections on Nana couldn't be better, since patience is not a strong point of mine lately. She was a great role model, and someone whose attitude and caring outreach to others I would like to emulate more. She was a devout Catholic, and instilled in her children a love of their faith, and a love of God and his 'holy Mother' as she would say. I want to pass that on to my children. I also want them to have fond memories of their Grandmothers and other extended family which is why, even though the thought of traveling for hours on end with two small children by air terrifies me (you have no idea!), I know it is so important for us to travel to Ireland as often as logistics and funds allow us to do so. We are fortunate, too, that our families can visit here fairly often.

The other recipe I'll be making for my cousin this morning is a Martha Stewart recipe - for Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies. Like most recipes of Martha's it'll use all my mixing bowls and utensils, but it'll be so worth it because these are scrumptious. Martha is someone I don't want to emulate so much lol! Well except for the mega millions part, but I'll stay clear of prison thank you!

Here are some pics - and should you feel the urge to try - the recipes are here for you too :) Have a SUPER weekend!

Caramel Squares:

For the base:
4oz quaker oats (I use quick cooking - but I don't think it matters)
2oz sugar
4oz all purpose flour
4oz (one stick) butter

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Sift flour, add oats and sugar
  3. Work in butter with fingertips until evenly distributed and mixture forms pea sized lumps
  4. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of a greased 8x8inch baking tin (I like to use the disposable ones, I can peel the tinfoil away and it makes cutting them much easier).
  5. Bake for 25 mins or until brown and firm.
For the top:
4oz (one stick) butter
2oz sugar
2 generous tablespoons of light karo syrup (golden syrup)
Small can condensed milk (I used the most of a 14oz can)
Few drops vanilla extract
8oz milk chocolate chips

  1. Put all ingredients into a large pot and bring to the boil - allow to bubble for 5 mins (as my Nana used to say 'not a minute more, not a minute less). Be careful - I use a large pot because this mixture likes to 'spit' and there's nothing worse than a caramel burn if it gets on your skin. Watch it carefully too, it's very easy to burn and I have found this out the hard way and ruined saucepans in the process!
  2. Pour caramel over cooled base, refrigerate to allow caramel to set...
  3. Melt chocolate and pour over cooled caramel. Refrigerate again to set.
  4. Once cooled and set, remove and allow to come to room temperature - then cut into squares.
I'm tired typing now and I have NO packing done, so here's a link to the brownie recipe"

Martha Stewart Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

Now, how come I never remember how much of a pain clean up is when I embark on these baking adventures?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Operation Escape Accomplished!

Two blissful hours of adult conversation, nobody tugging at my trouser leg looking for something, no battles over unacceptable toddler behaviour, no crying, no whining and no demands from anyone!

My long overdue break with other moms was last night. It was in apparent jeopardy at least twice though. The first time being when my Husband called Tuesday to say he had to go away to Naples Wednesday, and stay overnight for work - but smart guy that he is, he delivered this news, and a babysitting solution all in the same sentence! The second time was when we were getting perilously close to the time when I was supposed to meet my friends and the babysitters still hadn't arrived!? I could literally feel the tears of disappointment smarting my eyes at the thought that I wasn't going to make it out.

I don't mean to paint my toddler as a tearaway - she's not (at least not all the time). Lately however, I have felt overwhelmed more than a few times at my complete lack of effectiveness in parenting her positively (therein lies a juicy blog post methinks!), and so I needed OUT for a little while, to stop me feeling even more overwhelmed.

I have never left my kid(s) with a babysitter before - like a real, paid for, babysitter. The only times in 2.5 years that we have gone out as a couple without the children is when we have family visiting from Ireland. One of my friends asked 'how was it?' 'leaving the kids with a babysitter for the first time, how did you feel about doing it?' I felt confused, it hadn't even crossed my mind, not even for a fleeting second, to feel bad about it. So then (briefly) I felt bad for not feeling bad. I was so single-mindedly focused on escaping! So suddenly I considered would Miss E miss me? Would she be difficult? Would the baby fuss? Then just as suddenly I put it out of my mind confident that Beth, (the babysitter) could handle it!

So since I'm making myself out as a mom who could care less if her kids cry when she's out - I imagine you'll all cast me out for sitting eating my meal and secretly smiling to myself that since my husband was out of town I'd get to sleep all night in our bed by myself - with the comforter to myself, stretching out right across the bed if I wanted to. I didn't factor into this the likelihood that Miss E would trot into the room during the night and get in beside me as she does most nights, but I can deal with her, she doesn't snore - I was still looking forward to a better night's sleep in general. Hmm - I couldn't get to sleep for AGES, I missed him, I guess I must love him or something!

All of us enjoyed our meal together, very grateful that we didn't have to cut pieces up and hand them to little people who always seem more interested in what's on our plate, than their own. We did end up talking a LOT about our kids - we each have children the same age and so we found ourselves comparing our challenges and successes. I'm confident though, with a few more outings we can branch out into other topics, and set the world to rights.

I'm off to check my calendar now so I can schedule another get together in the near future - check your in boxes ladies, and get the hubbies on board - we're doing this again, SOON.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Chinese Freeze Tag

Shauna from Pass the Chocolate tagged me for a game of "Chinese Freeze Tag." Here's how to play:

I'll write 10 (maybe not very) interesting facts about me and/or habits of mine.
I'm supposed to tag 10 people, but since I've seen this on a few blogs that I read - I'm running out of options (and don't say read more blogs - I read too many as it is!)

Here are my ten fascinating facts, and no yawning permitted:

  1. I fell out of an upstairs window when I was five years old and got away with just a broken arm (and gave my pregnant mother a near heart attack!)

  2. I learned to drive a manual (stick shift) car, and that is the only type I drove in Ireland. Now that I'm so used to driving an automatic, I find it hard to adjust to manual when I visit Ireland. We're going home soon for a visit, so here's hoping I don't burn anyone's clutch out!

  3. I called someone yesterday whom I met through a mommy message board! She is a very nice person, and I felt totally comfortable calling her and I'm very glad that I did :) She's a great listener (I didn't really give her much choice!), and if she forgives me for chatting while her pizza was going cold, maybe we'll do it again some day and talk about more superficial stuff.

  4. I hate mushrooms. I think it's just the texture, because they don't really have a 'taste'. I can't even force myself to eat them if they're in a meal I eat at someone's house - I have to embarrass myself and push them to the side of my plate.

  5. I like mashed banana on toast, with a slice of cheese melted over the top. Sounds gross - but try it.

  6. I cannot touch my toes without bending my knees - and I think this has something to do with my legs being 3.5 ft long (heel to hip - a fact I had to determine as part of a statistics exercise once lol!)

  7. I am to be Matron of Honor at my sister's wedding in Ireland next year - at 36 I may be the oldest bridesmaid in history!

  8. I have a congenital malformation of my brain, discovered in December 2006 after a cat scan following a bad fall I had. Apparently my brain at the base of my skull extends further than it's meant to. I've never had any ill effects from this and I like to think of it as me being so brainy that my head can't hold it all in :). Knowing this now however does kind of freak me out a little and messes with the hypochondriac in me.

  9. I am escaping from the kids , am spending some quality time with friends on an evening out this week (can you tell I'm excited??)

  10. I drop the 'f bomb' entirely too often - I'm trying to do better!

So, there you have it - kept you riveted didn't I? I feel bad not passing on the tags - but seriously I'm not sure if I even have 10 people who read this - so I won't embarrass myself by trying to come up with 10 names ha ha! Feel free to do it if you like - good for days when you're running out of blogging material :)