Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Epi pens and intution

I joined the club today. The “Mom’s-who-carry-epi-pens-in-case-their-child-has-a-severe-allergic-reaction” club.

Not as fun as bunko.

Twin B. was hanging out with his grandma and grandpa when he started having an allergic reaction, presumably to a guinea pig they were babysitting.

By the time I got there, his face was red and splotchy, and his eyes were swelling. I started calling our doctor on my cell and threw B. in the van, thinking we’d drive the three minutes home and he’d have some Benadryl and be fine.

But while I was sitting at a stoplight, still waiting for the nurse to call me back, I looked in the rearview mirror and B’s eyes had swollen shut.


And without waiting to hear back from Katie, the nurse at our pediatric office, I knew what she would tell me.

Trust your instincts, mom.

I drove straight to the ER.

They gave him a shot of epi about 30 seconds after our arrival.

He’ll be fine. No doubt some allergy testing is in his future. Along with a few epi pens, just in case.

I’ll be fine, too.


Friday, March 26, 2010

spring break survival

I was planning to take the kids to the zoo today to celebrate the Official Beginning of Spring Break, but instead, half of us are on antibiotics for strep throat.

So…on to plan B!

We broke out the miniature marshmallows and toothpicks and did some building. This is a great “all ages” craft that doubles as a snack.

And, of course, the froot loop necklaces. Even though the noisy boys are in second grade, I can still get away with this craft since it’s for the preschooler.

And math worksheets. Lots and lots of math worksheets, which the noisy boys are asking for because during spring break, one neatly completed math worksheet = 10 minutes of media time.

They can earn up to 2 hours of media per day.

I realize that sounds like a ton of time, but it goes by in a blink when they sync up their DSi’s and enter the world of Mario.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

God is trying to kill me

I was about half way to Bloomington for Hearts at Home when a light appeared on the dashboard. “It’s like a parentheses with an exclamation point in the middle and a squiggly line on the bottom.” I told my husband on my cell phone.

“One of the tires needs air,” he said. “You should stop as soon as you can.”

And so I stopped at the next gas station and Llama Papa patiently talked me through the process of checking the air pressure and filling up the low tire. “I’m sorry,” he said more than once. “I should have checked out the van before you left.”

I was just amazed I was able to figure it out, and grateful the rain had stopped.

And then I tried to start the van again. Nothing.


I went in the gas station and talked with the gals working there. “Did you leave the lights on while you checked the tires?” She asked.

I nodded.

“It’s probably the battery. Give it ten minutes or so and try it again.”

We chatted while I waited and munched on a Milky Way bar that I purchased because, you know, eating chocolate seemed like the right thing to do.

I tried the van again. Nope.

The helpful gas station lady asked another customer, Fred, to take a look at it. Kindly, he did. “Doesn’t sound like the battery,” he said. “It might be the fuel pump.”

A few more phone calls home and we had a plan. Llama Papa would come pick me up and I’d carpool the following day with a friend. I was volunteering both days, so I called and let them know I wouldn’t be there until Saturday.

Then I settled into my van for an hour-long pity party while I waited for my husband to come and rescue me.

It had been a long week. After three interviews in a matter of days, Llama Papa and I were cautiously optimistic that he might be offered a real job. But no. He was their third choice.

I chatted with my friend on the phone and we laughed together at the misery of it all. “You know what’s really funny?” I told her, “I was listening to that Casting Crowns song, Praise You in the Storm, remembering that God really does have a plan for us. And right now, this is it. I was just thinking, Lord, I do surrender to your plan. And then my stupid van breaks down. What IS that?” (Except maybe I didn’t say stupid because, being the spiritual giant that I am, sometimes I swear when I get stressed out.)

We laughed and agreed God wasn’t trying to send me any hidden messages, because if He were, it would be that He’s trying to kill me.

Llama Papa arrived in good time and proceeded to—I am not making this up—start my van on the first try. He offered to trade vehicles with me, and I continued on my way to Bloomington after all.

I’m glad I did. Hearts at Home rocked.

And I’m convinced that God isn’t trying to kill me after all.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

will blog for dishwasher

Every day I get email from someone wanting me to review something on my blog. I usually don’t respond. I think the only reviews I’ve done are for books—and I usually ask to review those!

I do, however, volunteer for market research studies separate from the blog. I’ve done this for years—go taste test yogurt for an hour and get $50 kinds of deals. When the noisy boys were babies I did a diaper study that paid for our diapers for at least a month. That was cool. My favorite, though, was when a woman came to my house with her marketing people and watched me make soup, then asked me a bunch of questions about the soup making experience. I even made a poster about how the food made me feel. They gave me $300 for my time.

Last night I got a call from one of my research places with another cooking gig. I answered the questions honestly, and they said I didn’t qualify. Then they called back and said I did. For a special blogging review.

They wanted me to cook with their products and blog every day for three weeks about the experience. Every. Day. About. Food. And then spend three hours with a focus group talking about the experience. All for $200.

I asked her to call the company and clarify—every day? They want me to blog about their food every day for three weeks? Wouldn’t that get, um, boring? She put me on hold.

“Yup. Every day for three weeks. That’s the deal.”

I told her I’d do it once. ONE review on the blog. ONE focus group.

No deal.

Bummer. I do like the cooking stuff…but to turn my blog into some weird marketing machine defeats the purpose of blogging. (Maybe I’m a hypocrite since I’ve got ads in my sidebar, but I can live with that. The ads don’t dictate what I write and for pete’s sake somebody has to fund my Starbucks habit.)

Now. If someone wants to offer me a new dishwasher, we can talk. I’ll blog every day for a week for a new dishwasher.

(Yeah, those are some dishpan hands typing. Our dishwasher bit the dust a few weeks ago and we’ve yet to replace it. I’m just so irritated because it was a NICE dishwasher. A Kitchen Aid. The quiet kind. And it just up and died after only seven years. The repair people I’ve talked to tell me to just buy a new one. They don’t last as long as they used to, blah, blah, blah. But only seven years? Is it just me or is that crazy?)

Maybe we’ll just teach the noisy boys how to do dishes.

Friday, March 5, 2010

wacky cake

I don't buy cookbooks anymore. With so many recipes online, I hardly need an entire book full of recipes cluttering up my shelves. Unless, of course, it's a church cookbook. Or the ladies guild. Or whatever community group has taken the time to compile a book of favorite recipes.

I love these cookbooks. They're more than just recipes...they're history.

I have a small collection of these books, one from every church we've attended over the years (that published one), and I make some of the recipes over and over. The recipes tend to take on the persona of whoever contributed it. Margot's Amazing Chocolate Stuff, Smith Chip Dip, Lara's Roast.

And even if I don't have a connection to the cookbook, I enjoy the stories.

This afternoon, the preschooler and I decided to bake a cake for the noisy boys to celebrate the end of the school week. I glanced through a community cookbook and picked a simple, Wacky Cake recipe. It's an older cookbook that I received as a wedding gift, and the advice with the cake is decidedly old fashioned. The recipe is as follows:

1 1/2 Cups flour
1 Cup sugar
3 T. Cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 T. Vinegar
6 T. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use an ungreased 9" x 9" x 2" pan. Sift dry ingredients into the pan. Level off and punch 3 holes into mixture with back of spoon. Into one hole pour vinegar, into the next pour butter, and into the last hole the vanilla. Pour water over all and stir thoroughly with a fork. Bake 25 min. This is a fine moist devil's food cake that will keep 4 or 5 days and is a man's favorite.

I love it.

Not only is it hilarious to think about such a small cake lasting 4 or 5 days, but it's a snap to whip together, and especially fun for young kids since so much stirring is involved.

The cake itself isn't too sweet, making it a yummy choice for an after school snack.

And it's a man's favorite. What more could you want in a cake?

Monday, March 1, 2010

those mothers

I became one of them today. One of those mothers. You know the ones. They’ve got kids hanging on the cart at the grocery store who are whiny and disrespectful and they snarl at their children to BE QUIET and STOP IT and FOR GOODNESS SAKE NOT RIGHT NOW.

It all started with an ill-timed trip to Target for Twin A. to pick up the New Super Mario Bros. with his birthday money. Never mind that it was almost time to start making dinner and—oh yeah—Twin B. is still grounded from his DSi. (I know, this trip sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?)

Actually, the shopping itself was fine. We even picked out a birthday present for a friend’s party coming up. It was all good until the checkout aisle when the preschooler asked for a pack of gum.

And I said no.

(I know…the nerve.)

You see, we’d been grocery shopping earlier this morning and I had already bought him a pack of gum. I explained this to him, but three-year olds use about as much logic for their purchases as lizards, which is to say, none. So he escalated his request. “No, no, no, that gum is from ALDI. I want gum from TARGET.”

The tantrum was interspersed with a carefully rehearsed speech from Twin B. that maybe he could POSTPONE being grounded from his DSi until, you know, he got tired of playing with Twin A.'s new game.


And so it was that I found myself in the parking lot half dragging a crying preschooler screaming for gum and arguing with an eight-year old and yelling at everyone to just GET IN THE VAN when I noticed a young couple without kids holding hands and glancing my way, giving me the look. You know the look. The when-I-have-kids-I-will-never-ever-talk-to-them-that-way look. My children will always be polite and respectful and they will never beg for gum because I will teach them to behave better than that.

To which I can only say…yeah. Me too.