Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fish Sticks and Wine...

I feel like Old Mother Hubbard.  My cupboard is SO bare.  And payday is still two more days away.  I tried to make eggs.  I tried to make noodles.   Grilled cheese?  No cheese.  I think you get the pattern here. 

How can I have come from a weekend a pure gluttony and now have nothing to eat?  Poor Autumn took sliced turkey wrapped in a tortilla for her "sandwich" today.  (She thought it was no point in telling her I just didn't have any bread.)


Unfortunately, the cost of buying groceries for my family for 4 is about $250-$300 every two weeks.  Right now in my bank I have $50.  So it looks like groceries will just have to wait.

Last night, in desperation, I opened a box of fish sticks.  Not even Van DeKamps fish sticks.  No gourmet fish sticks for us.  I bought a generic knock off version.  It had been living in my freezer for about a month just waiting for a moment of desperation like this.

Fish sticks = entree.  Check.

Macaroni & Cheese = side dish.  Check

Cauliflower = vegetable.  Check.  (I did have a head of fresh cauliflower that I I could safely say we had some sort of nutrition in this meal.) 

So there you go....gourmet eating at my house. 

And a bottle of wine.....just because Momma was going a little nuts last night.

Fish sticks and wine....yep, that's just how I roll...well that's how I rolled last night at least.

I feel this overwhelming sense of guilt when I make a meal like this.  I picture Betty Crocker or Donna Reed setting down frozen, pre packaged fish in front of their family.  Would they do it?  No they would not!  They are probably wearing cutesy little aprons and high heels with perfect make up and no fat anywhere.  Bitches.

Last night I served dinner in sweat pants, hair in a clip on the back of my head and faced scrubbed clean of make up.

Sexy, right? wasn't.  But why should it matter?  I work hard.  I take care of my family.  My kids are in clean clothes that fit.  They never go hungry.  So what if once in awhile we have fish sticks for dinner or Mac & Cheese?  So what I have sit down in grungy PJ's?  Why do I need to feel bad about that?  Why do I left myself feel like I am less of a mother and wife on nights like these?

But I do.

The guilt over the fantasy of "what it should be" versus the reality of "what it really is like" always war against each other.   And logically I know it's stupid.  I'm a good mom.  I'm a good wife (minus a few days out of the month when I'm a total bitch).  I'm a good daughter.  I'm a good employee.  I am enough. 

I am enough!

My wish flower:  I wish I could remember those words on the days when I need to hear them the most.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ugh turkey!

So it's over.  Thanksgiving is done.  If I never see turkey again it will be too soon.  Turkey for thanksgiving....turkey the day after Thanksgiving....turkey casserole on Saturday....and turkey sandwiches on Sunday.

I am done with turkey.

I am done with pie.

I am done with five full days with my children.

We spent this holiday with my parents, AKA....trapped in country hell.  I love my parents.  And I love that I grew up in a little rural town, population 4500.  It was a nice place to grow up.  We spent time on my grandparents farm.  We went camping.  You never felt the need to lock your cars or your front door.  I admit it had it's perks. 

But now?  Now I want to be able to shop at more than one grocery store.   I want to go to the store in my pajamas and not run into someone I know.  I want to go to a movie in the middle of the day. 

I want civilization!!! 

It was a looonnggg weekend.......

Our original intention was to leave Saturday, but due to some home repair projects of my mom's we stayed an additional day to help with that.  And then it was back to work today.  I am tired.  I am grumpy.  I am not sure that my husband will still be alive by morning....he is not on my favorite person list today.  I was so glad to kiss my kids goodbye and send them off to school.   I did not want to come to work today.


But it's okay.  I'm still glad I got see my family.  I'm glad I got to stuff myself with lemon meringue pie.  I AM glad I got to spend so much time with my kids and that they got to spend so much time with their grandparents. 

I cannot be glad about the weight I gained.  Or the fact that the thought of turkey makes me ill.  Or that my husband is now on my hit list. 

But no one cried, well except Petal....she cries over everything so that doesn't count. 

And, speaking of Petal, after 3 hours trapped in a car.... 3 long hours in which she bounced off the walls (figuratively), cried indiscriminately (literally) and generally annoyed us all despite my begging and pleading with her to close her eyes and sleep....within 5 minutes of being home she climbed on the recliner with the quilt my great grandmother made and crashed.

She's so cute when she sleeps...which is good because when she's awake she's harder to love.  :)

And while she slept Steven, Autumn and I breathed a big sigh of relief and fell asleep too.

My wish flower?  That Petal would sleep longer, harder and with more frequency.   One more holiday to go!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Surviving Turkey Day...and being thankful

I am now halfway through my 4-party holiday nightmare.  Halloween? Check.  Petal's birthday? Check.  Thanksgiving and Christmas still to go. 

So we have Thanksgiving tomorrow.  I actually love Thanksgiving.  It's the least stressful of all the holidays to me.  I don't mind the cooking or the cleaning...and I definitely don't mind the eating...especially my mom's stuffing.  Yum. 

But I do hate all the family drama that seems to happen when we all get together.  Don't get me wrong...I love, love, love my family.  But we are all very different with very different views on life, politics and religion.  And while I enjoy a good debate as much as the next person I would love to suspend it for at least one day and sit around my sister's dining room table and just embrace the family I have surrounding me.  Instead, I will be listening to my brother hate Obama and my sister stress that everything is not perfect and my mother mad that we are drinking wine (she's a major teetotaller) and me worry that my kids are getting into everything that they shouldn't be in to.....all while trying to keep smiling and enjoying the holidays. 

It's okay...I know everyone's house is the same.  Who sits down to Thanksgiving dinner with everything perfect?  If you do....I salute you.  And I also wonder what type of drugs you are on and can I have some?

But the irony is that the stress is worth it....I love my family.  I love that we can cram all of us into one house for a prolonged dinner and still, despite the arguments and worry, we leave loving each other.  That's pretty lucky, isn't it?  It's lucky to know that I can disagree with my brother about politics and he will still answer his phone at 3:00 a.m. and give me a kidney if I asked.  And I truly think he would.  It's lucky that my mom can not agree with me drinking a glass of wine, but when I call to vent to her on the phone she always answers and always listens.   It's lucky that I can think my sister is slightly neurotic and she knows I think so, but when I start dropping corny movie quotes at dinner she always gets them and she always laughs.  And it's also lucky that through it all my dad sits back and watches us all like we're crazy...but then sends us silly texts messages for the next few weeks telling us how much he loves us and how much fun he had at Thanksgiving.

You are born with the family you get...but loving them?  That's what takes the work.  And liking them?  Sometimes that's even harder.  But I've learned that I don't have to like everything about my siblings or my parents....and they don't have to like everything about me.  It's okay and not wrong.  But I love them....and in loving them, I like them all a whole lot.  :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

My wish flower?  I wish everyone could feel happy, loved, grateful and lucky this Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


It was Braces Day for Autumn.  We've been building up to this day since June....we've expanded, we've spaced...and now we are braced. 

Unfortunately, I don't think Autumn was quite as braced as I would have hoped for her reflection in the mirror.  The braces are really....ummm...what's a good word?  Prominent?  Noticeable?  Regardless....they are not the cute braces all in a straight line that she was expecting.  Due to the fact that her teeth are SO are the braces.  There is a jagged line of wire crisscrossing her teeth.

I tried to comfort her with the "this won't last forever" and "your teeth will be beautiful when this is done" speeches.  I even tried the whole "everyone is getting braces right now". 


Not buying it.  She hates the braces.  And I felt bad. 

I know she needs the braces.  I know her teeth are awful and that one day she will grow up and resent her crooked teeth if we don't do it. I know I'm doing the right thing.  But it's hard watching her cry.  And being embarrassed.  And having a sore mouth.

But I have to believe it will get better.  And frankly, I'm proud of myself for getting braces on her.  I never had braces.  I needed them.  Money for braces was just not something we had growing up...and due to dental coverage on adult orthodontics (virtually nil) I don't have the money for them for myself now.  But I can get them for her and I did. 

She will look great. 

She will be happy. 

This too shall pass....

I think she looks adorable...despite what she thinks.  :)

And on the plus side...I told her that if her mouth is too sore for most foods for the next few days, we will have plenty of mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving to eat.  She was not amused. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Giving "The Sak" the sack until...

I bought a "The Sak" purse at the mall a month or so ago.  I needed a cute crossbody purse that was still trendy enough to wear to work, but not so fancy schmancy that I was always afraid of getting it dirty.  This purse worked perfectly.  Leather...crossbody...large enough to fit all my crap.  Yay!  Happy Jen!!

But a few days ago I started noticing this:

And this:

I was so disappointed.  This was a great purse...and not a cheap one.  I admit I didn't spend $500 on it, but it was a good chunk of change, at least for me and my budget.  Plus, I had only had it less than three months.

Not happy.  So I sat down at my computer and wrote a strongly worded letter of complaint to the company.  To my surprise they responded within an hour apologizing.  They are now sending me a replacement purse.  Wow!   To say I'm stunned is an understatement.  Frankly I didn't think I'd hear back from them at all..but to get this response overwhelmed me. 

Right now with the holidays coming I simply can't afford another purse.  It's just not in the budget.  

So.... thanks and thanks Patti who helped me get my new purse.

(However to be totally honest, the sceptic in me is still reserving all judgement until my purse actually arrives.  I'm not that giddy over a new purse.)

My wish flower for today:  I wish all companies would have such great customer service...and that I didn't feel like a criminal when I complain about their products.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Clucking like a chicken...

Autumn had her expander taken out today.  We are six months into the two year process of getting her teeth straightened.   We have slowly been expanding her mouth.  For 30 days I took this teeny tiny apparatus and turned a crank inside her mouth each morning.   Then the orthodontist glued the expander in place and we've been waiting until the next stage begins. 

So this morning at 8:15, after a frantic "flight of the bumblebee" type morning, we got the expander out.  Autumn is so pleased.  We got the usual lecture: rinse 4x a day, brush your teeth, floss, blah blah....I had stopped listening.   Don't judge me...I paid thousands of dollars to not listen to the rules. 

On the drive to school I could hear a clucking noise from the seat next to me.  Autumn was making clucking noises on the roof of her mouth.  She looked over at me and smiled..."I have not been able to do that forever!"  She then proceeded to say all the words that she had been having trouble enunciating...cinnamon, chicken, thistle....the list goes on. 

She does still have the blue spacers in her teeth and then we get the partial braces next week on top and bottom.  After that in a year or so she gets a retainer. 

Like I's a long process.  But honestly, she will love her teeth when it's done.  And I have to believe that she will thank me one day for depriving her of popcorn, caramel and gum for the next few years.

Speaking of being deprived...since discovering I am lactose intolerant I have missed cream cheese. I mean, really missed cream cheese.  I want it on toast, bagels, a spoon going straight to my mouth. It's borderline obsessive. Today at the grocery store I found this:

When I opened it, it looked like this:

I admit, I was nervous to try it. was really good!   I had the Chive & Garlic spread on a wheat bagel for breakfast.  I might even have it again tomorrow and the next day.  I've missed you creamy spreads on bagels.  Come to Mama!  Thank you

My wish flower today:  That Autumn will be still be able to "cluck" when she gets her  braces in...and that no one here at work steals my cream cheese. (I think I'm pretty safe on that one.)

Monday, November 12, 2012


Right now the house is quiet. The kids are sleeping and the cat is curled up next to me purring. Steven is out doing his Monday night side job. He's a trooper.

I love quiet.  I love the sound of my girls breathing deeply and peacefully. I love the hum of the dishwasher and the whirring of my furnace.  I love the smell of the clean sheets I just put on my bed.

Nights of quiet are pretty rare here.  There always seems to be one more thing to do. One more chore to finish. One more piece of homework to check.

And to be honest I'm sure there is something somewhere I need to be doing. But for now, in this moment, I'm going to embrace the peace. I'm going to listen to the breathing, purring, and humming that surrounds me and feel content.

I'm going to lie in my soft flannel sheets, wearing a ratty t-shirt and panties and breathe.  I'm not going to worry about all that needs to be done tomorrow. Or worry about Autumn's orthodontist appointment. Or getting the groceries bought for Thanksgiving. I'm not even going to worry about the fact that the panties I'm wearing are feeling a little bit more "snug" than the last time I wore them.

Today is almost done. Tomorrow is soon enough to get to the worries and chores.



And....garage door. Peaceful time over. Steven is back.

Wish flower?   I wish I would have had just 15 more minutes.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lazy Sunday

The girls and I spent a leisurely afternoon getting manicures...well basically I gave myself a manicure and then did theirs.  We are very matchy-matchy now (as Petal would say).

Now I have a sink of dirty dishes calling me. Goodbye beautiful manicure...hello dishpan hands.

Wish flower? I wish someone would invent a nail polish that could withstand dishes, laundry and tiny Polly Pocket clothes.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Five year olds are CRAZY!!!

The party is over. Weeks of planning and it was done in two hours....kinda like Christmas, huh?

The house was awash in pink. Pink tablecloths, pink plates, pink cups, pink frosting. Perhaps we should have done a Pinkalicious Party instead. One of Petal's favorite books, by the way.  A little girl eats too many pink cupcakes and wakes up pink? That never happens to me.  I just wake up with my pants feeling too tight.   *sigh*

Anyhow, we did pink.

Thank you Dollar Tree

As we waited for the girls to arrive we colored princess crowns.  I had found some cute princess crayons from The Dollar Tree with princesses on them.  Omg!! Perfect for this pinktastic princess party. Also, from I found this printable for the crown.

Notice my cute crayons? :)

Petal's finished design in the corner. Love it!

The girls colored and giggled...and bickered over sharing crayons. They are five after all...I guess I can't expect miracles. Steven arrived with the pizza and we all happily munched away on gooey pizza. Except me...damn you lactose intolerance! I did enjoy eating Petal's leftover pizza crust though. Yum!

Afterwards it was game time. I wish I had gotten a photo of the castle Steven had made for the bean bag toss. He did a great job! Only one girl got a bean bag through a castle window. The rest, including me, just threw like girls.   However, I did get a photo of my cute beanbags. I was pretty proud...made them myself. :)

I wish I could have picked more matching colors for the material, but Petal picked the green leaves. Pretty cute, but not quite I had pictured. Oh well. It worked. And the plus side is I filled them with rice so now that the weather is turning pretty nippy they can double as hand warmers. Fifteen seconds in the microwave and Ta Da! Warm hands.

After games we opened gifts. I did not get one good photo of Petal opening a present. There were six little five year old heads constantly crowded around Petal, each wanting their present to be opened first and each determined to be the first to see what the other person brought.  It took both hands to just keep Petal from being trampled.

Cupcakes and ice cream for the finale. Petal does not like chocolate so I was surprised that she asked chocolate cupcakes, but I love chocolate so I was not going to argue.

The cupcake toppers I got from The cupcakes were chocolate fudge with buttercream frosting. The girls devored them.  One girl just licked the frosting off the cupcake and left a sad, wet cupcake behind.
At long last the party was over. My house looked like a pink hurricane had drenched us. Cupcake crumbs covered my dining room floor and my tile was sticky with spilled lemonade. But it was over. Petal loved it. I loved that it was over.

 As parting gifts we gave these cute purses from I had filled them with stickers, candy, and rings.   Oh, and I got the cute cupcake wrappers in the picture above from that website as well.  They have some very cute printables.


I will consider this party a success.  All the little girls seemed thrilled with the games and the parting gifts.  The cupcake were great and the pizza perfectly gooey, dripping in lactose (I'm still slightly bitter).  Petal had so much fun.   And I was proud of myself for doing so many thing so cheaply.  I downloaded what I could from websites and I got as creative as possible from items at the dollar store.  Petal didn't seem to notice that this party was on a budget.  She had so much fun which made all the worry totally worth it.
Not so worth it that I will do it again for a very long time though!
My wish flower:  I wish that my girls grow out of the party stage very, very soon!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Humble me...

I never give money to homeless.  I say this not with pride or shame, but just a simple statement of fact.  I just don't.  There are alot of reasons....I never have cash on me.  If I do have cash I need it for something else.  Or I just don't trust that they will use it for food.  All of these reasons are true.  Absolutely. 

Does it make my actions correct?  I don't know.   I donate quilts and clothing to the homeless shelter.  I contribute to the office food drive.  I'm a good person...

However, that being said, yesterday I drove to the liquor store on my lunch hour.  We were invited to a friends house for dinner and I wanted to bring a nice bottle of wine for them.  I enjoyed a leisurely 30 minutes in the liquor store browsing the selection of wines.  I love wine.  I love the pretty bottles they come in.  I love the way they are stacked in rows for my enjoyment and perusal.  I love the first sip of wine with a good meal. 

But eventually I made my purchase and wrapping my coat a little tighter around myself I hurried to my car.  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a gentleman sitting on the parkstrip with a cardboard sign.  I got into my car, started the heater and strapped on my seat belt....all the time watching this gentleman.

He was probably in his late 50's?  I'm a terrible judge of age so this is my estimate.  He was wrapped in an old moss green pea coat.  His beard was matted and dirty.  He looked emaciated.  It broke my heart.  He looked like my father is sickly and emaciated looking too.  (Health issues that are too long to get into at the moment). 

I had $5 in my purse.  I had been planning on buying myself lunch before heading back to work.  I did have the $5 earmarked for something for myself  but before I realized what I was doing I had rolled the window down in my car and offered him my $5. 

He walked over to my car.  He stunk of dirt and sadness.  I was nervous, sad and concerned all at once.  He thanked me for the money.  I reminded him that it was supposed to snow the next day (which is today and boy is the snow coming down!) and asked him if he had a warm place to go.  He assured me that he did.   He spoke beautifully and intelligently.  He told me that he had spent 40 odd years hating the world and was just now learning to see the good in people.  He talked a little about his time in Vietnam and about a sister that he had recently reconnected with.  He told me of his travels.  He was eloquent.  He was kind.  He made me humble. 

It was the best $5 I had ever spent.

My wish flower?  I wish that this man find the peace he is looking for.  I wish that I will never forget this lesson he taught me.  I wish, wish, wish for better for both of us.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Helping Hands

Quick note because its Uber-busy today!!  Uber with a capital U busy.

Check out today and their Helping Hands program.  Great idea to share what we can with those in need or to reach out for help if you're the one in need. 

Let's all work together! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tiger Stripes aka Stretch Marks

I saw this on Pinterest today.  I love it.

Why are we so ashamed of our stretch marks?  We grew a HUMAN inside our own bodies!  Of course that's going to leave a mark...but it should be one of pride.  We should be able to pull up our shirts, point to the marks on our abdomen and say "Hell yes I have stretch marks!  And I earned every single one of them!". 

Instead we cover them up like they are track marks on a heroin addict.

No more ladies!  Be proud.  We created, nurtured and incubated a little life for 9 long months.  And then we spent 23 hours (personal experience there) pushing said life out of our bodies in a sweaty, painful, gut wrenching process.  Those are battle scars!  And I'm going to be damn proud of them! 

Disclaimer: That is NOT my body but I'm envious of this woman.

My Wish Flower:  My wish is that I will never be ashamed of the marks left on my body for the blessing of my two little girls and what they bring to my life.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Party Pandemonium

I am in full planning mode for Petal's 5th birthday party.  It's a princess theme. I don't know how the eternal cynic such as myself has a child who believes in the power of "Happy Ever After" and "True Love Conquers All".  I have never had the heart to correct her belief system...I figure life will do that for her in due time.  And if it doesn't...good for her. 

I always feel like my holidays are a 4-part system of chaos.  I mentally click off each event as we get through it. 

First: Halloween.  $100's of dollars spent on costumes, candy and decor.  Glad it's done.

Second: Petal's birthday.  My girls do not get a party each year.  More like every 3rd year.  Sorry girls, but it's just not in the budget each year.

Third: Thanksgiving.  Whether it's the awkwardness of my in-laws or the cramped quarters of my's a holiday I dread.  The food is great.  And don't get me wrong, I do love to eat (as my excessive rear end can attest to).  But the drama!  OMG the drama!  I find it all exhausting.  I'm starting to realize that's when men sleep after Thanksgiving's just to avoid the soap opera that follows.

Fourth: Christmas.  I love Christmas.  I do.  But by the time I have spent every cent I have on presents.  Wrapped presents.  Ran from store to store looking for the best deal.  And then all the fun festivities and parties in between...I totally need from Christmas Day to New Years trying to rest. 

So my stats are 1 down: 3 to go. 

The party is this Saturday.  I have all presents bought.  Nothing wrapped.  And still have to come up with games for a group of 5 year old girls to play in 5 days. 

Plus my stomach is in knots worried that no one will show.  Worse than the drama of getting it all ready is the fear that we will be sitting there waiting for the party to start and no one knocks on our door with brightly wrapped presents.  Please, please, please let at least a few little girls show up.

So in a few more days I will be 50/50 for the holidays.  Then it's turkey and presents and I'm done.  I firmly believe that New Years Eve was strategically placed after Christmas to give parents a good reason to drink.

My Wish Flower today?  I wish, wish, wish that Petal will have a wonderful birthday...and that some of her friends will show...and that my house won't be destroyed in the process.  Here's wishing...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Butterfly (fairy) and a gypsy...

We survived Halloween.  Candy, goblins and pumpkins.  I'm exhausted. 

My girls had a great Halloween.

I went to a 9:00 a.m. parade at Autumn's school.  Petal went with me...I had to entertain a 4 year old for 20 minutes while we waited for it to start.  Thank goodness for the invention of the iPhone.  The singularly greatest invention to entertain children.  So my cute little butterfly fairy waited...not a butterfly though. A butterfly fairy!  DO NOT forget the fairy part...the drop of that word from a sentence has led to more drama than a preteen slumber party.

As we waited ther in the gymnasium that smelled of school lunches and elmer's glue I was notified by Petal that she needed to bring treats to her parade...which started at 10:00.  This was the first I had heard of treats.  I frantically checked my watch and quickly recalculated. 

If Autumn's parade was over by 9:45 I could still get to a store and back to Petal's daycare in time for her parade. 

Luckily, the parade started right on time.  Kindergarteners came out first.  My little Petal will be one of these kids next year.  I can't believe it. 

Anyway, Autumn's class was near the end (of course!) but at least we saw my cute gypsy girl coming.  I snapped a few photos, and a one second video (that I discovered after a little too late). And then blowing kisses to Autumn, I grabbed Petal and off we flew to the grocery store. 

Grabbing a bag of candy (uncaring of the what I was going to be giving to small children) and running back to the car we made it to Petal's parade with 5 minutes to spare.  Whew!  She was, of course, adorable in her parade. 

Have you ever had a great friend?  One who you told your most intimate details to?  One who suffered along with you through Junior High and High School?  And then lost touch with?  I had one of those....and ran into her at Petal's parade.  Awkward after all those years of friendship to realize we had nothing to say to each other.   After kissing Petal goodbye, I left the daycare feeling bittersweet.  It was nice to see her again and to see her cute daughter in the parade, but how sad is it to have such a reminder of a close friendship that was lost?  And for no reason that I can pinpoint other than simply "life got too busy." 

Too busy for a friend?  Did I really let it come to that?  Did she?  I guess the answer to that was Yes.  Yes, we did.  What a horrible, gut wrenching truth to realize as I drove home to start stew for tonight's Halloween festivities. 

The girls had a great time trick or treating...but for me the rest of the holiday was tinged with a bit of sadness.  However, nothing will keep me from smiling and laughing for the benefit of my girls but...

My wish flower today?  I wish that I will never, ever let life get in the way of a good friendship.