Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lego Love.

When does Lego Love die?  Really?  I have instructions lodged somewhere in every room of our house.  My feet have scars from stepping on the tiny pieces.  When I complained about it to my dad, he asked if it was my fault for not picking them up.  Has the man ever seen a Lego?  They disappear into our carpet like I'd imagine Navy Seals do in battle.  They will wait forever.  Somehow using magical forces to dodge the vacuum.  You think I've lost it because I'm giving Legos not only human qualities, but also magical ones?  You might be right.  The boys picked out the same Lego toy today.  They both wanted the beetle and I felt we had avoided a battle.  Score for all parties.  When we got home, I was talked into a race.  This is Daddy's duties.  I don't do Legos or the teeth brushing.  But today, I had to do both.  Cooper called for a race and I accepted.  I knew better than to talk shit to the 6 year-old.  Not because that would make me a horrible mother (I'm not sure I'd be joking) because I figured he'd crush my fumbling fingers.  And I can't deal his excessive celebration, so I played it cool.  He'd shout out, "I'm on step 6" while I was on step 2.  We finished and our house had two beetles, two men with a pick axe and a shot gun, two coffee mugs, two fires with two chicken legs roasting, and I had two boys that were really happy.  Coop pointed out that I screwed up one of the legs. I thought Lego made a mistake, but I was wrong.  He moved my leg and showed how it could be used to balance the bug.  I learned two things tonight: read directions carefully and I'll be wearing shoes in my house for a long time.


Friday, April 15, 2011

There She Goes

When you go out into the workforce, they generally give you a manual or a job description or something that will get you through the day. Occasionally, they'll give you some on-the-job training, perhaps even a mentor or two. But being a parent is a whole other kettle of fish. Sure there are books, but have you ever really studied the What To Expect book series? The information in there is enough to scare a woman into crossing her legs and hoping for the best for the rest of her fucking life. But you can't cross your legs and ignore that ever growing bump because ready or not, you've got to have that baby sometime. You can read every book ever written. You can be the best baby-sitter ever. It still won't help after they hand that baby - or two - over to you.

So, twenty years ago, I was concerned about getting drugs before the contractions got any worse (yup . . . at 1cm, I was concerned about drugs). I didn't want to puke on the operating table (I did). Dave didn't want to see anything during the C-section (and saw it all). By 10:30 PM, we no longer had Baby A and Baby B. Instead, Jordan and Shelby entered our lives, and we never looked back.

"There She Goes" by the Boo Radleys
"Sweet Disposition" by Temper Trap

Happy birthday, Girls! You are the greatest . . . and I have the tattoo to prove it.


PS - When they were little, they would often sing the songs that Dave and I listened to. "There She Goes" was one of their favorite. Somehow, their other favorite didn't seem appropriate for a birthday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I love a good postcard!  Who doesn't?  It's like a nugget of gold in your mailbox.  There's the electric bill.  The mortgage.  A flier for a doggy dental cleaning.  Blaaa...  And then, what's this?  Awwh a postcard from a friend that lives too far away.  The day instantly gets better when your fingers flip it over.

I've got two sets in the etsy store.  "Thank you & Hi" notes are sweet little postcards to stay in touch with family & friends.  And "Cuteness in the Mail" is a collection of my favorite images!  The 5 postcard set  is printed on high quality paper stock.  The reverse side is left open with plenty of space for you to jot down your greetings.

Send some cheer this spring!  Head over & do some shopping.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Food Time

Remember when I posted about America's Test Kitchen?  Ok good.  Let's talk.  I've been cooking like a mad woman from this magazine.  It's oil stained and crumpled with notes in the margins.  I've already made about 17 of the recipes & I can't complain about one of them.  Not one.  I beg of you to find this magazine & pick it up!  I will never make pan-seared chicken breast any other way than how it's described in this magazine.  I will always save a little bit of vodka for the empanadas' crust.  We have finally found a pizza crust that satisfies our entire house (it's super healthy & it bakes like a dream).  In the past,  I've baked sheets of spiced nuts that turn out icky or burnt. No longer, friends!  Even the recipes that didn't thrill Mark, he could still agree that they were pretty delicious.  He's not a huge crab cake fan.  But Becks and I ate them quickly.  But Mark ate the empanadas for dinner, breakfast, lunch, & as a late night snack.  If you only knew how huge that is, you'd still be smiling.  I am.

Recently, my dad said "Erika, you make the best salads".  You know, what?  I do!  But it's because of this little gem of a magazine.  I don't have a picture of this one because my Mom ate all of it.  She even apologized for it, but that's what's supposed to happen to good food.  Here is my favorite of the two salads I've already made.  The one she ate every last bite of.

Pear and Cranberry Chopped Salad
ATK Best of 2010
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice
3T extra-virgin olive oil
3T sherry vinegar
1 red bell peper seeded and chopped
1 firm & ripe pear, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/2C dried cranberries
1 romaine heart, chopped
4 oz. of blue cheese crumbled
1/2C pistachios toasted & chopped

1. Combine the cucumber and 1/2t of salt in a colander set over a bowl and drain for 15 minutes.
2. Whisk the oil and vinegar in a large bowl.  Add drained cucumber, pepper, pear, onion, and cranberries.  Toss and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes.
3. Combine everything and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.
4. Enjoy!

I'll share the pizza crust later.  Because every house should have it in their recipe file.  It's really healthy and really delicious.  I know how difficult that can be.

Don't forget to watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution!  Season 2 premieres tonight!

Friday, April 8, 2011

We need two hands.

Because he's six. More later because I've got a date with a handsome kid.

Happy birthday!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Eve of my Journey into Motherhood.

I'm celebrating tonight and I don't feel awkward or self conscious posting it.  Six years ago, I was huge and uncomfortable, but life was still pretty easy.  If I didn't want to eat lunch, I didn't.  My fingers had never touched human poo.  I could go to a movie whenever I wanted to.  If I had a headache, I could sleep all day until it went away.  I could make chili as spicy as I wanted to.  I had disposable income.  I was an expert in my own life.  At 10 p.m., a whopping contraction was about to change all of that.
When I got pregnant, I spent 9 months telling everyone I had no clue what I was doing.  I didn't.  I spent the first three months with a baby that didn't want to be outside the womb. I'm guessing that if I thought I knew what to do with a normal newborn, Cooper was there to prove me wrong.  I'm grateful that I had no clue.  Life was a tad easier during a difficult period.  He was fed, cleaned, and swaddled a lot.  I figured out how to do those basics.  I never figured out how to stop his crying, I just figured out how to live with it.  
But on the eve of my Motherhood anniversary (Hallmark should make a card), I still don't know what I'm doing.  I'll be honest because I think that helps.  I probably should be doing more to potty-train my youngest.  My oldest is late entering organized sports.  I don't read to my youngest as much as what I did with Cooper.  Sometimes I laugh when I shouldn't.  I'm carrying a three year-old when I vowed to never do it.  I lose my temper more often than I'd like.  Right now, they're on the computer when we all should be playing together.  None of these things will shatter our world.  In six years, I've learned that motherhood is hard and sometimes completely overrated.  Why make it harder by being an expert?  Children are so unpredictable and different, I don't understand how anyone can claim that title even for your own family.  I'd rather be a beginner at Motherhood.
Maybe that's my current key to life: to always be a beginner.  You can't fall far when you admit that you have the basic knowledge of a job.  I know the basics.  Seatbelts.  Give them good food most of the time.  Make sure they sleep at some point.  And teach the Golden Rule.  My kids are happy and healthy.  Sometimes they say, "Please" and "Thank you" without be prompted.  They hug each other when we do pick-ups.  They won't spit food out at the table if they hate it.  They'll choke it down and won't take another bite.  Our parenting accomplished those actions, but I still really have no idea how to do this job.  
I also don't think calling myself a Beginner is code for Slacker.  To me, a beginner looks at all aspects of tasks.  I'll listen to all the advice you want to give me.  If I don't take it, don't be offended.  I know it won't work for our family.  I'm not completely clueless.  And if we're talking and I give you advice, I'm not saying you're a bad mom.  I've been on this path.  Maybe I've been on it longer.  Maybe I've got something that might just work for you.  Maybe I'm not completely clueless.  Maybe I think a community of ideas is much stronger than one ridged concept.  But don't take it as a motherhood gospel.  I wouldn't.   And I won't be offended.  You know what works for your family, but maybe off-road it a bit & see if it works before squashing things.  I've done things I never thought I would and it works.  But if you think I'm a Slacker, that's fine.  In the past 6 years, I've learned something I should have already known: Women like to judge.  And mothers judge more because the sake of their own parenting depends on the fact that they are right.  My parenting or self-worth doesn't depend on being right.  My parenting depends on giving my children the tools to be happy and independent.  And I'll admit I'm wrong to accomplish that.      
One of those things I was able to be and do 6 years ago is back.  I'm back to being an expert about myself.  After a road of full of doubt, I know me again.  And what I've learned is I'm not an expert in anything but myself.  I know what I like and how to deal with stuff I don't.  I know that my life is about dealing with change and I'll even do some changing.  But I'm not an expert on my spouse, my children, or anything else but me.   I might know how to deal with them better than a stranger would, but they keep me on my toes all too often.  I wish I could go back to have poo virgin hands, but that's asking for too much.

Here's to many more years as a beginner.  Because I'm guessing all this knowledge I've acquired isn't going to do shit when the kids are teenagers.  It will mean nothing when they're adults.  No use in trying to be an expert.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kind of Like Sand In Your Bathing Suit

Things that are annoying me these days:
  • my students who don't take me seriously when I suggest studying five to ten minutes each night so they don't have to cram at the last minute
  • the fact that my laptop battery won't hold a charge for more than 23 minutes at a time
  • the pre-order from Amazon that I placed in December for the latest Mortal Instruments book (which came out yesterday) won't be delivered to my house until Saturday
  • the dog is farting and snoring
  • and the gas light in my car came on the minute I got in the driveway
  • April has been pretty cold and rainy and dreary

But the weekend is less than 48 hours away.