Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Storm's A Brewin'

 If you've even been to a local watering hole in Northern Minnesota on Hunting Opener Weekend, then you know if you get too many men in a small space without enough women, fights are going to break out.

I don't know if it's when you get too much testosterone in one room with out the female hormones to balance it all out, that things get heated? Or maybe the women just keep the men in line? I don't know. I just know it happens.

Well things are getting a little like that without My Chef around. Put three women under one roof without someone to bat their eyelashes at and what do you get?

Some mighty storms.

(Photos taken by My Chef. September Somethingth, 2011)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Apologies to Maggie: Chapter 4

She knew it wasn't fair, even if she couldn't say the word right. "It not PAIR."  Maybe she didn't even understand the entire scope of the word. All she knew was every single day, a travesty was happening. Crimes against her were being made, and her silence was being bought with cookies and juice.

Yesterday, as she stood in the check-in line with her sister, her mother promised that one day, she too would get to go to school. Maybe even that night for Open House! Was this some kind of sick tease? Like the day her mother brought home the brand new Princess Dora backpack just for her? She thought the gift was nice, but it was what the gift promised that brought light to her eyes. If she was big enough for a backpack now, then certainly she must be big enough to gain access to whatever lie behind the door with the big shiny green apple donning a welcoming smile.

But no. Day in and day out she was given the stiff-arm at that oh-so-inviting door. "Your not big enough yet baby." "Soon love. Oh too soon you'll get to go."  Well it had been days, maybe even weeks, and still the same promise of "soon" was whispered into her ear. Like all lies, it stunk like coffee breath and spearmint chewing gum every time the words came out of her mother's mouth.

She didn't know what Open House meant. Maybe it meant it was finally her turn. That all those promises her mother made were finally going to happen for her. She put on her fancy new backpack and the rain boots she got for her birthday. The heat of the excitement made clothing unbearable, but she begrudgingly put them on, and a pink jacket to match her sister. No one would be mistaking her for some baby, she thought.

Open House was everything she had imagine preschool to be. There was music. There was dancing and cupcakes and sticky tape on EVERY SINGLE TABLE!  It was as if everything in the room had been designed just for her. Chairs were easy to sit in. She didn't have to shove a stool up to the sink to wash her hands. And SOAP, there was a gallon of it waiting for her to use.  She was ready for her new journey. A life of dance parties instead of naps. She glanced up at her mother with sheer gratitude.

The next day as her mother yelled to her sister to come get her hair fixed for Crazy Hair Day at school, she came skidding around the corner to get hers done first. She sat the stillest, ready to have the best hair in the entire class.  When she was convinced that her hair was, in fact, perfect, she ran to get her back pack. She even made sure her diaper was dry.  "All dry momma."

They loaded up into the car. She would not fight with her sister today. No. Now they were equals. She would even think about sharing a joke with her later. Whatever that meant. The entire ride to her new school was the longest 4 minutes of her two and one quarter years on this earth. Somehow she managed to contain herself.

The car pulled up to the door. This was new and somewhat confusing. Usually, they parked the car and walked up to the door. It must be special treatment for her first day, she thought. Her mother went around to open the door for her sister first. No biggie, she thought. She waited this long, what's another few seconds to get out of the car. Then things were starting to go wrong. Her mother was walking away from the car. "Wait!" she cried. Fear struck her so deep that she was unable to unfasten her car seat's 5-point safety harness (not that she ever could without her mother's help in the first place, but she didn't know that).

She looked out the window to see her mother coming back. A fleeting burst of hope was demolished with one pathetic, pitying look she had come to recognize after countless attempts at renegotiating nap time. Why was this happening? She was so distraught as the car started to pull away from the curb that the only intelligible words she could muster were "My sCOO. MY scoo. My scoo."

She protested the entire four minute drive home, demanding to speak to someone else in charge. She didn't care if Daddy wasn't home, she wanted answers and she wanted them now. And since four minutes was not long enough, and she had forgotten why she was so upset in the first place, she cried for another 38 minutes in the laundry room, just because she could.  She didn't know much, but she knew she wasn't going to take that juice as a payoff, maybe the cookie, but definitely not the juice.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Frog

This little guy was on my patio chair last night.

This frog reminds me of my best childhood friend.
Why you ask?
Because when we were 15(ish) we got matching t-shirts from a gas station.
The t-shirt had a picture of a little boy and his dog.
The dog had a big pink bubble protruding from it's hind end.
The caption said something along the lines of:
You're supposed to chew bubble gum, not eat it.

To a pair of 15 year olds, slightly obsessed with farts,
this was the funniest t-shirt ever.
My BFF wore it to school once and the gym teacher made her turn it inside out.
That gym teacher didn't like us to begin with, but that's a story for a different day.
And now I'm totally off track....

Back to The Frog

So many things about this picture make me laugh.
Like all the captions I could write

But the best part is thinking about my friend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


When I turned 30 (or maybe it was 28...or 31...oh, who cares) my girlfriend and I were talking about where we were in life. We giggled, saying things like: "Did you ever think we'd be home owners?" "Did you ever think I would leave that job?" "Did you ever imagine I'd date that guy?"  It was fun to spend time seeing how things changed and achieving dreams that we secretly never thought we'd accomplish.

I still like to look back, only now I make My Chef go there with me. Birthdays, Anniversaries and New Year's he knows I'll be asking him what his favorite part of the year was, or what he liked best about being a dad, or what he has learned. Then he asks me the same.  We've had a lot of times recently to have these conversations with it being My Chef's birthday and our One Year in Floriday anniversary.

It's also been A WHOLE YEAR since I started writing this blog.  I looked back to see what my first post was about. I described the trauma of putting a 3 year old to bed. I wish I could say that "phase" was a short one, but up until two months ago, it was still a nightmare. Thankfully, things have changed in that department. Now we have to keep an eye on her so that she doesn't fall asleep before dinner. Under her bed.

If I were to ask myself a question in the "Did you ever imagine..." category, the answer would be: No, I never imagined that I would actually use a gym membership for an entire year. I have however paid for memberships in the past for that long. And as a follow up answer to the next logical question: Yes, I did imagine that my arms would at least look a little less puny after using said gym for said length. But no, they look pretty much the same.

My BEFORE picture
(with tuff bruise)

(Nicely shaven armpits)

Some might ask why I have so many pictures of my arms. And I would tell those people that occasionally I like to send intimidating emails to friends about  taking them down at future arm wrestling contests. Some things, thankfully, will never change. Sending stupid emails with pictures of my armpits is one of them.

One year ago, I was also desperately looking for a job.  Now I see that even though it wasn't one I wanted at first, it's the job I am supposed to be doing. Learning from and about, teaching, laughing, and loving on these two.

A Whole Year
A Good Year

Thanks for reading about it all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gator Watch

I'm tired. Real tired.

Days like this are good for one thing: Gator Watch. 
Some of the pictures taken while on duty have a bit of a Lock Ness quality to them.
But I think you get the gist.

I'm tired, real tired, because we had a fun filled weekend.
It was so fun that here it is Tuesday and I'm still blown out.

In a nutshell:
Rylee went to a party and was in full throttle mode the entire time.

I was getting dizzy trying to focus on a moving target,
So I stared at these balls for a while.

Then we had to make a cake for My Chef.

We also had to make him a fancy birthday present.

Then My Chef and I celebrated his birthday with a fancy night out.
I don't have a picture of this part.
But his face was kind of like this:

And finally, we had to give the childrens instruction on how to properly injure themselves.

"See Maggie, you gotta get a running start at it."

"Atta girl."

"Don't be afraid to really get your arms out. Like this. Watch me. Look at me."

This gig is tiring.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I may have mentioned before, my past transgressions of stealing other people's thunder on their birthday. Today, I realized that this is not a character flaw, but actual genetic coding.

This afternoon, while The Taz was at school and Bear Cub was napping, I wrapped a birthday present. The birthday girl is a new classmate of The Taz's. Her party is Saturday. I was feeling quite The Mother having said present wrapped TWO days early!

I was just going upstairs to find a bow for this little gift when Bear Cub woke up from her nap. We snuggled and talked about how nice it is to wake up together. Soon I had forgotten what I had headed upstairs for and the fact that I left a very pretty present on the kitchen counter.

I headed to the bathroom. Normally Bear Cub waits outside the door for me...or inside the door, or opens and closes the door a hundred times. It took a minute to register that my room was quiet. I headed downstairs knowing what I would find.

There she was singing Happy Bir Day Mahgee to herself and unwrapping a present for a girl named Bella.  As if I needed any more proof than the stretchmarks she gave me. Bear Cub is totally my baby.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Preschool Sports

This year, we decided to sign The Taz up for Soccer.
It's what you do. I guess.
To learn how to play together.
To build a little bit of character.
To meet new friends.
But let's face facts, it's so she'll burn up her energy on the field
rather than tearing up our one piece of good furniture.

As we signed her up, I had visions of her running, sweating, panting,
and begging me to take her home for a nap.
 Kind of like these kids:

Our first game day, I got myself all pumped up with a pep talk.
You can do this Nikki. 
All those years (OK, two years) in high school volleyball prepared you
for this very moment.
And I did it.
My first successful french braids.

We got to the fields. 
Set up our chairs.
And prepared ourselves to watch our oldest tear up the field.

The only thing she tore up was the snack bag.

"Rylee, don't you want to go run and chase and kick the ball with your friends?"

"Uhm. Nah. I think I'll just stay in my chair."

"But Ry, don't you want to go test out your fancy kicking shoes. They make you super fast."

"Uhm. Nah. Do we have any more snacks?"

At this point, the game had started and the coach could see
we were having a hard time talking her into playing.
She suggested we come onto the field with her.

Apparently, the whole goal of preschool sports is
to have your child stay on the field without you
by the end of the season.

"OK Champ. Should we go together?"

The coach also said not to worry too much if someone doesn't read the rules and brings a dog along.
It can be very distracting.
She said an airplane flying above could stop the entire game for a minute.

I found myself getting distracted a time or two.

Near the end of the game, The Taz gained just enough confidence to kick the ball through some kids, and break away from the pack to score her very first goal.

The smile on her face afterward made me well up.

It was a good game.

Good Game
Good Game
Good Game

Monday, September 12, 2011

The things I will remember

Over the weekend, I read a lot of people's thoughts on this the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Facebook was flooded with remarks like "We Will Never Forget."  One friend commented how this saying was more of a campaign for revenge than a way to honor the memory of those lost. Another friend commented how she didn't like all of the "I remember where I was on this day" posts. Her point being that it wasn't about "us" and what we were doing, but about the memory of those who were injured, killed and left without a loved one.  And others were posting articles about the strength of America, pride in our heroes, our resolve to stand above terror. I think we can all agree the date September 11th will mean something different to each of us.

I watched The History Channel's "tribute" coverage throughout the last couple of days. On Saturday night they revisited the timeline of events through messages left by the victims. Recordings left on answering machines, recorded 911 emergency calls and recorded fire fighter radio transmissions all told a story laden with fear, disbelief, panic, grief and heroism.  My heart sank as I listened to the victims messages to their families. "Please know how much I love you." "Tell Mom I love her." "Watch over my daughters."  My eyes blurred with tears as I watched people waving white flags from broken windows, no doubt contemplating the fall or worse yet, the jump.  My stomach knotted as I listened to interviews of then pregnant survivors.

Listening to those voices, I knew what I was charged to remember.  I will remember to show my children love every day.  I will remember to fill their ears with compassionate words so they know to use them when the time comes. I will remember to teach them how to really say your sorry, but more importantly when to say it.  I will remember to teach them how to forgive and to rebuild faith after it has been lost. Most importantly, I will remember to pour out love on those around me because love and loss are the ties that bind us all.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Bike Trailer

I think the hardest part of having children is accidentally giving up part of yourself.  It's not intentional. When your babies are little, you put off things that you love doing, things that make you who YOU are, so you can love on this wee little one who is depending on you for survival.  You may put off painting or drawing, or long winter hikes, or weekends spent in a cabin in the woods with your phone off, or even just going for a little bike ride. You don't even know you've given up the things that you love and the things that make you, YOU. It's accidental. Suddenly, the thing that makes you YOU, poops and cries and giggles and wakes you up in the middle of the night to tell you she's figured out her first two syllable word: "Coooookie."

You end up telling yourself  "When she can hold up her neck, we can put her in a trek pack and go on those hikes." But by the time she can hold up her neck, she's prone to ear infections; now taking her on a winter hike doesn't seem like the nicest thing to do. Then by the time she's over ear infections, she too heavy to put in a trek pack but still too little to hike on her own. You're looking at pictures of your younger self wondering why it's been 5 years since you've done one of the things that you loved doing.

Or maybe you'd want to get out your fancy charcoal drawing pencils, but you only have 30 minutes before the Taz comes tearing in and breaks them all in half before trying to poke the sharp ends through the leather couch. Never mind the part where she tries to shove one down her throat. So, you put away your fancy art supplies and get out the washable markers and watercolors and princess pictures and work with what you have.

Some days it seems like you've had to give it all up for them. Which is exactly what you promised the minute you laid eyes on them: "little one, I will give my life for you."  But at the same time, when you're chauffeuring them around to all of the places they love to go, you wonder how you will ever teach them passion if you've lost yours.

Tonight, in the form of a bike trailer bought off of Craigslist, the three of us found our common ground. The wind was in our hair. We had the open road (o.k. sidewalk). There were squeals of delight as we turned each corner.  And in the ten minutes it took to do a "dry run" from our house to the school and back, I had reclaimed part of myself and a love of biking. What a feeling to combine your loves. This must be what veteran parents mean by "it gets easier."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday's List

Things I was thinking while doing this:

Seriously, how did Bear Cub's finger prints get this high?

I wonder if My Chef will be home in time to make this for lunch:

If a gal's gotta lock herself in the bathroom at 6:00am in the morning because the fighting has already started, at least she's got a good view:

I think my kids watch too much t.v.

There are a lot ways you can get a charlie horse in your neck.
Hula Hooping is one of them.

Laughing while giving airplane rides is another.

How much longer until I lounge around in my footie pajamas while the children do the chores.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ta Da!!! The Apple Bacon Brie Pie

I don't know if it's been apparent or not, but I've had a certain dessert on my mind for the past week.

I cooked up some bacon this morning for my wee ones.
Rylee ate the entire pan on the right.
I gave a few strips of bacon to Maggie, and then saved the rest for my pies.

In that bowl: two cut up apples, some maple syrup drizzled, some sugar, some flour, 5 strips of bacon cut up.

Since this is not a cooking blog, I don't feel bad telling you that I don't remember the name of these little dishes.
But, for the "crust" I used croissant dough, the kind the Dough Boy makes. I did spray those little suckers with some Pam first.
The stuff in the little yellow cup = bacon grease.

Before I wrapped up the "pies", I topped them off with some chunks of brie.

Once all that delicious stuff was bundled up nice and neat, I brushed some bacon grease on the top.

I probably should have worn a hair net.

This is how it looked in the end.

I got a little fancy with this one.

The croissant dough made it less of a pie and more of a "brunch" item.
Whatever that means.

In the end, it was delicious and I hope My Chef likes it because that's what's for dinner tonight.