Monday, March 26, 2012

On Fire

This is Tyler.  He was my dog.  Well, he was my ex-husband's dog.  Then he was our dog.  Then he was G's dog.  Then he was my dog.  

He was a darned good dog.  He travelled with me through a marriage, a miscarriage, childbirth, two babies, 5 houses, a divorce, and a whole lot of the minutiae of life.  

Tyler loved being outside, and he loved to swim, so it was perfect that his last few months were spent on a farm.  I came home one day in mid-March and he was panting heavily and couldn't catch his breath.

A trip to the vet revealed a whole lot more than indigestion because he had ingested an entire birthday cake and a bag of Hershey kisses, foil and all.  (He had done that before.)  Tyler had cancer.  When I saw the x-ray all I could think was there was more cancer than there was dog.

He had hours, maybe days.  We decided to put him to sleep.

But I took him home first, back to the farm, back to the pond for one last swim.  And he went, panting all the way.  He was slow and weak, but he went.  I sat with him for a little bit by the pond; I owed him that.   Then I just held onto his wet body and cried.

"How on earth have I seen you everyday and not known how sick you were?  How did I feed you every day, hug you every day, kiss your nose every single day and not know you were dying?"


Wouldn't it be so much easier if our hurts were somehow visible?  You know, if your head hurt, it would glow red?  Or blue, or orange- whatever.  And what if everyone else's hurts did too?  So that whenever there was pain, it was visible?

I think that might be kind of neat.  I know it would be helpful.  Enlightening at the least.  I just wonder sometimes if we could see the pain others were feeling, would we say the things we say?  Or would we finally say the things we need to say?  Would we act the way we act?  Would we be more compassionate?  Would we cut people some slack?

I'd like to think I would.  I want to think of myself as kind; that if someone's entire life was on fire and I could see it, that I would help.  Just drop everything and help, because that's what you do when someone is on fire.  You stop.  You help.

Life would be different; that's for sure.  Everyone's hurts visible for the world to see would be something. I think it would make it harder for others to manipulate the injured; their attacks would be public, and people would run to the rescue, right?

People are good, right?  They wouldn't sit by and watch a person hurt another.

But we do.  We sit and we watch while others are used, manipulated, ignored, neglected - hurt.  And while we hope people will run to extinguish the fire, many times they don't.

And sometimes they can't.  I get that.

I'm always astounded when someone dies suddenly, or the dog is hours from death, or a relationship breaks, and I realize I've been watching the entire thing and I had no idea.  Lives were on fire and I had absolutely no idea.

For the record, I'm just wondering aloud.  I'm not hurt.  Or on fire.

Well, I'm sunburned, and Coach accidentally whacked me in the knees with a board yesterday, so they are definitely glowing red for all the world to see.  Except you wouldn't have seen them because I wore capris today, so they weren't really visible, but they are red and glowing.  Other than that, we're fine.

I've just been thinking about Trayvon Martin and child hunger and how much I miss Tyler.  One thing led to another, and here we are at the end of a blog post about glowing people, whacked knees, and a dead dog.

See y'all!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Home Improvement


Do you ever have one of those weeks that you set aside to get some things done, and then it turns out you don't get most of those things done, but you do get an unexpected day at the hospital getting a blood transfusion?


Well, I did. We have been on spring break, and I had a birthday.

Oh, and I had a blood transfusion. More on that later.

It sounds awful, but it was actually a very pleasant day. I spent about 9 hours at the hospital with my own remote, in my own clothes, watching a Grey's Anatomy marathon while people brought me things. And at the end of the day I felt totally refreshed and ready to go.

Who knew?

But the reason I tell you this is because my plan was to get a big head start on getting the yard ready for summer.

We're behind schedule.

Coach hates that.

We are re-doing our deck, so Coach and I spent most of Saturday and all day today building a deck.

Neither of us has EVER built a deck.

We didn't have any help. It was Coach, me, and a nail gun.

I cannot tell you how much fun we had. It was a marital first.

Seriously. There was one minute early in the day where he gave me "the look." He told me that putting my hands on my hips and getting bossy wasn't really what he considered helping.

I kindly reminded him that I let him boss me around all day Saturday, and Saturday was my birthday.

I have impressive issues with authority.

Saturday was a breakthrough, but I kindly reminded him that this Mustang wasn't quite broken yet.

10 hours later, and I might be broken.  I'll let you know.

It took us 10 hours, 3 saws, two hammers, 1000 nails, Jack Daniels, and a glass of wine,  but we did it.

All. By. Ourselves.

We're very proud.

The pictures are awful because it was getting dark when we finally finished, but you get the idea.

And we did it all under the watchful eye of this guy...

All I'll say for him is this-  if you had told me 10 years ago that I would have gnome statuary in my garden, I would have laughed for a mighty long time.

But, if you'd told me that Coach would agree to a home improvement project that allowed me to wield a nail gun, I wouldn't have believed that either.

Now I have to go.  The dog is whining, the right side of my body is sunburned, Coach is drinking, and he's armed with a nail gun.  

See y'all!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is that a jellyfish? Is it a dragon?

Spring break was fun; the weather actually cooperated so we spent a lot of it outside at parks and the zoo, etc.    There were even a few days where no one ever touched a LEGO.  

A: "Cool drawing!  Is that a jellyfish?"  S: "No, it's you, mom!"
O: "I wish we didn't have to eat so that we would never have to use the bathroom."
Q: "I wish that the bus driver forgot how to get to our bus stop over Spring Break."

Also, live-action Skyrim.  Quartz is a magic-using Khajit; Sapphire is a healing Argonian.  Onyx said he was the Sun.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Flush of Doom

I've just finished my second tour of duty with the stomach bug. It wasn't me; it was AC, the littlest one in our family. She's also my most efficient and polite patient as far as stomach bugs are concerned.

Sunday night she complained about her stomach hurting, diagnosed herself with a gluten intolerance, swore off pasta for an hour, and kindly went to bed.

After a few trips to the bathroom with the trots, I thought she was asleep for the night. And I guess she was.


At 4:00 AM I heard a cough and The Toilet Flush of Doom.

Oh you know that sound; if you don't have a child, you were a child. It's the flush that is followed by someone screaming "MOM," and when you get to the bathroom it's usually dripping in something that could have been used in filming The Exorcist.

Then you wonder why your child bothered to flush, because God knows flushing doesn't clean vomit off the ceiling.

Anyway, my point is that usually when children get sick in the middle of the night there's usually a loud death call.

Unless you're AC. In that case, you politely send a text that reads, "Momma, I threw up. I think I'm better now!" (And, yes, she did use an exclamation point- her life is an exclamation point)

So that's what I've been doing. Well, that and grading research papers. You don't even want to hear about that.

Let's just say that I'm beyond ready for our spring break, we officially start on Friday. We're going to play around here, and I'm going to make a dent in my reading list.

I thought I'd share it with you.

1. Planting Dandelions: Field Notes from a Semi-Domesticated Life

Oh y'all.  I've almost finished this one.  It's one of my all-time favorites.  I met Karyn a couple of weeks ago at a writing conference.  We had a nice little chat, and then I went to my room to read her book.  When I grow up I want to write just like her.  Her honesty is funny and disarming.  I needed to be disarmed.  I've been a touch moody lately; the last thing Coach needed was me cocked and loaded.

2.  The Pioneer Woman Cooks:  Food from My Frontier

Well.  I don't have to tell you how much I'm going to love this.  I had it pre-ordered.  I was waiting at the door when the bookstore opened.  I haven't had a chance to look at it yet, but AC has narrated it from the back seat.

Jane Green is one of my very favorite authors.  I've read and loved every word she's written.      
This book is about building a blended family.  It's a topic close to my heart.  It just came out today, and I'm betting I have it finished by Friday.  Get this one now.

I have started this one.  I'm one of four people in the country who hasn't read it yet.  AC and I are headed to the midnight premier next Thursday, so we've been reading it together.  Then, we're going to go see it again with a friend and her daughter.  I feel a theme dinner coming on for the second showing.  

While I was checking author web pages today I noticed that every single one of my favorite authors has a new book coming out in the next few months.  From May to August I have at least two per month to read.  I cannot wait.

AND....  It's almost time to garden!  

More on reading and gardening to come.  Until then, I pray no one vomits at your house.

See Y'all!

Back in Business

It's been a while since I've worked on this blog and I've been trying to make the time to pick it up again.

So, here I am.

I had discussed in a previous post about how I had made some changes to my diet and exercise routine. Let's start there...

While the holidays added a few expected pounds, I've kept up with making smarter choices and exercising on a regular basis. But, I'd like to be very clear here, I HATE exercise. And yes, I realize that this is not a revelation. Many people hate exercise. Hell, it's the reason why we don't do it! I think my husband underestimates my hatred, though.

First of all, let's point out that men lose weight faster than women. My gradual changes have drawn out over the past two years and my husband dropped 30 pounds in three months as easily as he takes off his shirt. I've lost weight, but I feel like I'm wading through three feet of mud.

I don't enjoy the pain. I don't enjoy the sweating. The tired muscles, the gasping for breath, and the soreness the next day all add to the pile of reasons not to exercise. And yet, I trudge on. I swear at the TV the entire time. I tell the instructor to go do horrible things that I should not repeat here. It's how I cope. So what?


Recently, we were in a sporting goods store checking out the available equipment looking for something we can both use to change our routine. We came across the Supreme 90 Day workout package which was only $14.99. We certainly didn't want to drop over $100 on the P90X or other similar workouts. Our funds are not currently disposable, but our health is something we both want to improve.

It's actually a solid workout. My body is killing me. They do include a booklet on an appropriate meal plan, but I don't follow those. Yes, I want to get stronger and be healthy, but I'm not trying to get ripped like a body builder. You won't catch me ingesting any of those protein shakes, either. Blech.

Because I hate working out so much, I don't want to talk about it. I'd like to forget about it the second it's over. My husband however, is obviously enjoying his workouts and likes to check in with me. "This one wasn't too bad, huh?" or "I think this one's going to hurt tomorrow."

I scowl at him and agree with "Mmhmm."

"Oh, c'mon, it's not that bad."

Um, yes, at a matter of fact it is. I'm doing this because I'm requiring myself to do it. Having free will means making the decision to do something on your own, it doesn't mean you have to like it. So, I've been keeping up with it all, I'm just loathing every minute of it.

Don't get me wrong. This is NOT supposed to be a post of my whining about exercise. The moral of today's story is: No matter how much you hate it, you can still keep doing it. You can plow through and come out better for it. Hate it all you want if you have to, just don't stop doing it. 

*Please note: I was not compensated for mentioning Supreme 90 Day workout and purchased the package with our personal money. I am not a doctor and will always recommend finding exercise that suits you best with your physician's help. Also, we have not completed the full 90 days, so I would not give a full review of the program until I have had a chance to finish it. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Unclean Meat, The Gospel, and Cavemen

Coach is in the living room watching Walking the Amazon on Animal Planet, a program about two British guys who have decided to walk the banks of the Amazon, grill piranha for sustenance, and live under a tarp. He's riveted.

It's a step up from The Turtle Man though; about a month ago I spent 30 minutes watching a man wrestle a family of skunks out of a Kentucky woman's duct work, take his mother to a barn dance, brush his tooth, and take a tomato juice bath in a Rubbermaid container on the front porch.

Needless to say, I've had quite a bit of time to think, which is generally a bad idea. My thoughts and I bring out the worst in each other.

However, it was during one of these silly shows that we saw a commercial for Cadbury Eggs, and I realized Easter is less than a month away. I also realized my weight-loss goals might be a little lofty. 

Incidentally, if anyone has the secret to dropping twenty pounds in twenty-some-odd days, I'd appreciate a tip.

So, lofty or not, I've rededicated myself to Weight Watchers in preparation for warm weather.

Coach is doing some sort of Paleo diet where he eats mulch and almond butter, but the rest of us enjoy human food.

In a moment of very uncharacteristic productivity Sunday afternoon, I made a menu, a grocery list, and I've prepared healthy meals that do not include twigs, berries, or pine bark to the Momsense home all week.

Last night we had pork with a pineapple-soy marinade and an orange marmalade glaze. I also cooked fresh green beans and wild rice.

Coach refused to eat rice because rice is a grain, and paleolithic cavemen don't eat grains. Never mind that cavemen are no longer with us(thank you Social Darwinism), a fact that seems to be lost on my science teacher/husband.

AC balked at the green beans for sport.

And G, the one I can depend on to eat anything, announced he doesn't eat pork.

I reminded him that he does eat pork.

"Mom," he said, "I'm not eating pork. It's an unclean meat. Read your Bible. WE don't eat pork."

If you're new here, let me clarify something for you. We're not Jewish.

We're Baptist. Southern Baptist. We eat pork. We don't publicly admit to drinking "likker" as my grandaddy used to say, but we eat pork. As a matter of fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a dish at a Baptist potluck that didn't include Velveeta Cheese and some sort of smoked pork product.

So I replied, "Well thankfully for you, we're walking in victory on the other side of the Cross, which means that you get to enjoy eternal life AND pork without damnation. There's a reason we call it The Good News."

So, he covered it with Tabasco sauce, complained that pork had a "piggy" texture, and rolled his eyes.

Tonight we're having mulch.

See Y'all!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Feelin' Groovy

Listen, I'm not even going to pretend that I know the secret to your children's happiness.

Truth? I'm not going to pretend I know the secret to my children's happiness.

The one thing I do know? As soon as you think you have life figured out with your happy little family, someone lobs a grenade right in the middle of it and blows it all to hell.

If you've been around a while, you know this is generally a place to come and read about the Coach's antics and the funnier moments of parenting.

You also know that posting has been sporadic for a while, so you sent me e-mails asking me if everything was okay. Some of you begged me to write about my hilarious family, and others of you just sent gracious notes letting me know you were praying, but you weren't sure why.  They weren't wasted.  God has been faithful, and we are fine, but I don't mind telling you it hasn't been my favorite season of life.

The last eighteen months at the Momsense home have not been funny, and everyone has reached the age where some things just need to be private.

We've had a tough time, and in the lucid moments we knew it would be temporary.

The problem is that when you're in the middle of raising kids, the moments of lucidity are few and far between.

So, I've been quiet.

The children, however, have not.

Our pediatrician told me last year that there are three stages of puberty.

We've got 'em all. At once.

Three different varieties of crazy all interacting with one another for one of the wildest rides I've ever been on.

We've got pimples, mood swings, bloating, spontaneous crying - and that's just me.

The one common denominator has been a temporary depression in each of the children.

Each child acted differently, but each one of them experienced it.

The one common denominator in getting them on the road back to themselves was listening to them.

And double doses of Benadryl.

Oh, I kid. I'd never medicate them for peace and quiet, but don't think for a minute I wouldn't medicate myself.

So listen to them, and bite your tongue for a bit. You'll hear what they are trying to tell you, and then you just have to trust that the good Lord will show up and tell you where to go from there.

So listen. He'll show up; you'll know what to do.

Until then- get yourself some Benadryl.

You can also go here to join me in a conversation about helping our children find their happy, and you can enter BlogHer's sweepstakes.

See Y'all!

Monday, March 5, 2012

You Can't Ride Two Horses With One Ass

On an average day I am lazy, undisciplined, and easily distracted.  (Slackers Unite!)

Enter Pinterest, Facebook, Solitaire, and The Amandas. And Friday Night Lights. And Food TV. And watching paint dry.

And my iPhone.

That's part of my excuse for abandoning the blog. I've been riding one too many horses lately, and we all know you can't ride two (or forty) horses with one ass.

Unless you're JLo, and I am not.

"I'm just a girl looking for a boy..." Can you name the movie? Can you name my learning difference? 

Anyway, late last summer my phone stopped accepting phone calls. Everything else worked fine; it just simply decided it didn't really see itself as a phone. So, we parted ways.

I had an upgrade, the iPhone was on sale, and I had just read an article that said Kelly Ripa was able to manage her entire life with her iPhone. The article said she was an iPhone ninja.

Thus my quest to become an iPhone ninja began. It's fair to say that the first few months of owning the iPhone was counter-productive. I spent hours searching for apps. HOURS.

I ended up with was a few photo apps and Sit or Squat, an app that uses your location to tell you where the nearest public restroom can be found.

I have a hostile colon. More on that another day. Let's just say Sit or Squat has been helpful. If you have a toddler in the throes of potty-training or a spouse with a hostile colon you might give it a whirl.

Enough about colons and toddlers. I spent dozens of fruitless hours looking for apps that would prove me an iPhone ninja.

Enter appSmitten.

appSmitten is a weekly newsletter that selects and e-mails personal application recommendations based on your interests. I have downloaded and used almost every application that appSmitten has recommended. (I've been test-driving it for a couple of weeks.) 

There is one application in particular that has changed my life. Seriously. I'll tell you about it later this week- I don't want to ruin the fun.

appSmitten does all the work for you by sifting through over 1 million applications so that you don't have to spend hours doing it yourself.  I

The newsletter is free, and you can elect to receive it either daily or weekly. I'm a weekly gal.

And it's not just for the iPhone. They make recommendations for Android, iPhone, and iPad.

And it's free. (Did I say that?) So, what are you waiting for? Get the newsletter here

You're welcome.

 See y'all!

(This is a sponsored review for appSmitten.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Supper: Edition 36

Hey there!  

The Momsense is coming back tomorrow!  More on where I've been and what's new around here later, but for now I thought I'd repost an old Sunday Supper post with some recipes you can use to placate your people in a pinch.

It's raining outside.  Hard.  Really, really hard.  I'm not a fan of rain or storms; they scare me, and besides rain is messy.

Case in point:  First, Coach and I decided to drive over to the mall to pick up a mirror we had ordered a sweet forever ago.  It finally came in.  There were visions, albeit fleeting visions, of me rearranging the dining room and hanging said mirror today. 

Yeah, that's not going to happen.  I've made it back into pajamas.  I think all that's in my immediate future is Girl Scout Cookies and watching Julie and Julia.

As we headed to the mall, we were temporarily diverted to a little pizza place for a buffet lunch when the skies opened up and the messy rain started to fall.

The short version of this story ends this way:  pouring rain, a parking lot with a clogged storm drain and a couple of feet of standing water.  There was a loading dock involved.   Coach got out to get the mirror, and subsequently had much trouble fitting the mirror into the back seat of the truck.  In the pouring rain.

After a few minutes of grumbling things like "I don't know why we pick a day with tornadoes and pouring rain to do this, he finally managed to get the mirror in the backseat. 

And he got back into the car.  Huffing.

Me:  "What?"

Coach:  "The thing is huge.  Why did we do this today?  You knew how big it was."

Me:  "It's only 48 inches tall.  That's not that big."

Coach:  "It's four feet!"

Me:  "Well, all the kids are over four feet, and we fit all three of them back there."


Me:  "Uggh.  Whatever.  It's fine."

Anyway, Coach was not amused.  The converstation had to take another turn at that point or it was clear he was going to implode.  So, I strategically asked him a question about the NFL draft, because my  momma didn't raise a dummy,  and an argument was successfully avoided.

Until we got home.

I went to the bathroom, and while I was in there I heard running water...behind me...where there is a wall...a wall with no plumbing.

Me: "Hey, come in here and see if you think this is a leak, or if it's just the rain hitting the roof."

Coach:  "Craaaaap.  That's not rain hitting the roof.  That's rain running between the walls."

Me:  "Should we get on the roof and check?"

Coach: "Yes, WE will have to do that.  YOU stay here."

So he suited up, grabbed the ladder and climbed on the roof. 

Coach:  "Babe- I need some garbage bags."

At that point he climbed down the ladder, gathered a large tarp and several bricks,  I gave him the trash bags, and he climbed back up.  Then he fell.  I know that because I heard the thud and the loud grumblings of a man who was not at all enjoying the rain.

Yeah- so we have a leak.  Actually Coach says a critter of some sort has chewed away the boot that surrounds an exhaust tube-thingy on the roof so he could get in the house.


So, we have to have a roofer out this week.  Subsequently, we have at least one of the children up for sale.  It's a recession- we can have a roof without leaks or three children.  We can't have both.  Tough break.  It was nice knowing them though.

Anyway, I don't think I'm going to be able to con Coach out of his foul storm/roof-induced mood.  It may take some serious work in the kitchen.  So, here's what I'm planning for tomorrow:

3-Way Amnesia Burgers

2 bunches scallions, for grilling
Olive oil
1 pound lean ground chuck
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Applewood smoked bacon
4 slices aged smoked Cheddar
Carmelized Red Onions
*Toasted Kaiser rolls (actually, we're using 100 calorie sandwich rounds because of the Weight Watchers)

Cut the root ends off the scallions. Brush with olive oil and place on grill. Grill both sides until grill marks appear. Remove from the grill to a cutting board. Chop and set aside.  Place ground beef in a bowl and add chopped scallions, about 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon ground pepper. Mix together and form into patties about 1/2-inch thick.  Wrap 1 slice applewood bacon around each patty and place on grill, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium-well. Top burgers with cheese the last minute of cooking. Place on platter, cover with foil and set aside.

Chipotle BBQ Sauce

1/2 stick butter
3 tablespoons minced garlic
8 ounces tomato paste
2 1/2 cups water
1 small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed and chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup black cherry preserves
2 teaspoons ground cumin

 Melt butter in large saucepan. Add the garlic, tomato paste and water. Stir until tomato paste dissolves. Add the chopped chipotle peppers (seeds removed), peppers and sauce to the pan. Stir to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Strain and set aside.
Carmelized Red Onions

4 large Spanish red onions
1/2 stick butter
Minced garlic
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Thinly slice the red onions. Melt butter in skillet and add garlic, onions and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook stirring occasionally until wilted. Add 1 cup Chipotle BBQ sauce simmer for 30 minutes.

Now- put your burger together with some carmelized onions and enjoy.  Hopefully Coach will forget all about the rain, the mirror, and the roof troubles...

And the fact that he is obsessive about his Weight Watchers points.  Then, serve the burger with these...

Sweet Potato Fries

2 sweet potatoes, washed
2 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place a baking sheet in the oven.  On a cutting board, slice the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Slice each half into 6 wedges. Place wedges in a large bowl, add canola oil, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and toss to coat.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Place the fries onto the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the fries and bake for another 15 minutes until brown and crispy. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

See y'all!

Meet the newest member of our family...

...our new parakeet, Ezio.

Everyone in the family dotes on him.  Lucky guy!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Ice Skating!

I was prepared for a disaster when I took three kids ice skating by myself, but everyone loved it.  I'm so happy, because I really like ice skating, too.  By the end of the session everyone was skating on their own.  :-)