Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Day of School 2014

WHM is in kindergarten.  I think because he did full-day Pre-K last year at the same school, and because I am working full-time, I don't feel the "empty house" blues as much as some of my friends have. My little man is giddy, and so I am, too.

CAM is in second grade!  She is beside herself with excitement about school, and I love that.

We moved here with a toddler and a kindergartener!  Oh, my!


I am so upset that this is blurry. I didn't want to mess with the camera and don't trust myself well enough to shoot manual, so I let it ride on "auto," and am punished with a focal point on a basket.  Oh well.  Do-over later!

p.s. I am back to teaching again, still at the same place I started when we moved to Maine. My first day is also today, but I have made a "tradition" (three-years running) of taking my own kids' first day off so I can do drop-off and pick-up. The rest of the week will be "early care," but today? Today's special.  (Besides, today is only freshman for me, and I only have an advisory group. Tomorrow is the day all the rest of the students arrive. Tomorrow is "go time" for me. Today is "frantically-clean-the-house-because-you-won't-get-this-chance-again-for-ten-months" day.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

DVR Makes Us Better Parents

When we moved to Maine, we re-organized our lives in a lot of ways. One of them was to take a much stricter approach with our finances, and that meant (among other things) that we scaled our cable bill way back.  Got rid of the premium channels, got rid of DVR... we cut it all out.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, Mick swung into* our local cable place to ensure that we would have the SEC Network the second it comes live on the air.  While he was there, he worked some Mick magic and we now also have a DVR again.  Best of all, our bill went DOWN!

Man, this week keeps getting better and better!

(You want to know what else awesome happened?  I just sat down to eat some Chinese food leftovers and bit into a bonus water chestnut!  WHAT?!)  

My week is made.

In any case, last night Mick and I were watching Suits last night when, about ten minutes into it, CAM came out from her bedroom.  Her head hurt, her tummy hurt, she felt sick and wasn't sure quite what was causing it.  She kept talking and we kept ssssshhhhing her ... until we realized we could PAUSE to listen to her woes and then REWIND to catch anything we missed.  We then became more attentive and interested in her various problems**.  See?!  DVR makes us better parents!


* are you a college football fan? We are. Our kids were born in Tuscaloosa, for goodness' sake.  The idea that an entire network dedicated to our beloved conference could exist and we might not be able to watch it was terrifying.  As it is, not too many folks in Maine care about college football and we are our own little island of Alabama here on Saturdays. We weren't going to be left out of the television element, too.  This was not a mere "oh, let's check."  This was a well-planned-out, let's-give-them-a-couple-of-days-in-case-something-is-wonky visit to ENSURE that we would have the SEC Network when it goes live today.

** for the record, she had all sorts of "ailments" because we had told her to go to bed and that she could watch Suits On Demand tomorrow (now today).  Once we said she could stay awake with us, she was healed! Her problems were solved!  It was a USANetwork Miracle!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Update to the 101 Things Update

My mom, who reads this blog faithfully but prefers to call or email me her comments, has informed me that my last post was lacking in two places.

First, I didn't link to the 101 Things list, and since I only named the items by number and not description, it was a bit tricky to navigate.

I've updated the post in that it now includes the link to the list, but I haven't gone back to give the descriptions (yet).

Second, there was at least one place where we arguably have accomplished the goal.  I went back through the list, and wherever that was true (there turned out to be a few places), I've updated the list to reflect that.

In doing so, I discovered one item that we can legitimately cross off:

#86: Swim in the ocean with the kids

DONE!  Not only did I take the kids to the beach a few times this summer, but we also went as a family last summer. Since the objective for most of the items on the list is that we do these things as a family, this summer's Mick-less outings might not count.  But last summer's outings definitely DO count, so that one is DONE!


Monday, August 11, 2014

101 Things: #9, #27, #44

You're tired of hearing me use "the move" as an excuse, so I won't. I'll just say that while it made some things easier (for example, #9), it has also made some things more challenging.  (I have no idea, for example, where my cake pans are. That's two years' of baking that didn't happen!)

It's pretty clear to me that we won't cross of anywhere close to all of our things on this list, but we've done a lot, and there are still a fair number we can finish by October...

... and then we can make a new list!

101 Things in slightly more than 1001 Days!


Oh, what are the things, you ask?  Here you go:

9.    Get CAM and WHM on skates! Done! Fall/Winter 2013-14 WHM started, and CAM followed with figure skating lessons Winter 2014 and they both did a hockey clinic at the start of summer 2014. They love it, and hockey will likely be in our lives for some time to come!

27.  Unpack/sort/file every box – no piles, no boxes to go through later Done! August 8, 2014. 

44.  Take the kids to the movies – six separate times  #1:  The Lorax, April 20, 2012; #2: Pirates Band of Misfits May 1, 2012; #3: Brave, June 25, 2012; #4: Monsters University, June 20-something, 2013; #5 and #6 -- drive-in movies here in Maine Summer 2013. (Planes, Despicable Me 2, Smurfs 3, and Monsters University (again, part of a double feature!))

Abundantly Blessed

I was going to write this on Facebook, but I decided that this blog is a better place for it.

I think the best way to describe the way I fell asleep last night is to say that I felt abundantly blessed.

I don't usually go for the mushy-emotional-sappy-religious-whatever-you-want-to-call it publicly. That's not to say I don't feel or act all those ways, but I tend to keep it to myself.  (And Mick.) 

But this weekend I really just felt like I was on top of the world.  And it wasn't any one thing, and it really wasn't even any specific little things. It was just a darn good weekend. A productive weekend. And when I finally got to bed last night (our bed! from Georgia! We finally have it set up!), it was an amazing feeling.

Let's see if I can recap here all that played a role in that feeling.

I didn't go in to the office Friday, but took the day to run errands and clean.  I have a four-drawer filing cabinet that pretty much holds our lives, and over the week I had sorted everything that has needed filing for the past TWO years. Yes, ladies and gentleman, I have not filed anything since we moved.  It was in piles, relatively unsorted, in boxes both under my desk and in the basement.  It is now 100% sorted and filed.  It took me days, but the feeling of being done is somewhat euphoric.  Maybe that's the Monica Gellar in me!

Also as a result of that project, we generated three giant boxes of stuff to shred.  In an effort to keep the momentum of cleaning and organizing, those boxes were promptly taken to the incinerator at the dump.

At the same time, all of our accumulated cardboard recycling was taken to the dump to be recycled.

The kids and I returned our library books, they picked out the ones they'd earned from their summer reading club at the library, we went to the school department offices and I dropped off paperwork that was again (at least in my head) long overdue.  I picked up books I need for a program I'm starting in the Fall.  We went to the post office and submitted my teaching certificate renewal -- another thing that's been hanging over my head, written on lists, and generally giving me agida -- done! We stopped by the kids' school and picked up their supply lists and reading lists and summer math homework.  (For the record, the kids did their summer work the week school ended.  I put it in a safe place.  So we'll just take that as a sign we should review and do it over again.)

An electrician came to finish some projects at the house in the afternoon, so we cleaned and tidied and organized, including scrubbing down the stove and oven.  And I did all the laundry in the entire house -- washed, dried, folded, hung, and put away. (For the record, I now have just as much laundry to do today, but I am in denial. Eh ... maybe I'll go throw in some sheets and towels. They are easy to fold and will make the pile feel remarkably smaller!)

Our old, dead dryer that was sitting in the basement, we brought up, clearing basement space to work on our next project-in-the-works, expanding the kids' play area and organizing some of our boxes from the move.

We went to the storage unit, thanks to my in-laws who were able to give us kid-free time, and Mick and I managed to purge a bunch of stuff, consolidate a bunch of stuff, and combine the smaller unit into the bigger unit, thus freeing us of one bill per month.  We donated a fair amount of stuff to Goodwill. (Opinions about Goodwill notwithstanding, they really do make it very easy to donate. And more than that, they are our only viable local option -- I'd typically prefer St. Vincent dePaul, or the Salvation Army, but those aren't local to us.)

We mowed the lawn. We have peppers growing on our serrano and anaheim plants.  We took WHM to swimming, did a kids' craft at Lowe's, and -- thanks again to our in-laws -- cooked a fabulous lobster dinner at home Saturday.

Sunday we went to a family cookout a few towns over and ate like royalty. I made a cole slaw to bring, and it was a pleasantly surprising hit among everyone -- who knew a vinegar-based slaw would be so well received?!

Mick and I finally got our king size bed from the storage unit and we were able to set it up (again with help from my in-laws) in our room yesterday.  Because of the layout of doors, closets, windows, etc., we have to re-arrange the bedroom to make it work, so that's a project to finish today and tonight. But, we got it.  We had to go to Target to get bedding because when we moved our comforter was destroyed, and we already purged our sheets, saying we'd buy new ones ... Target was running a Cartwheel sale and had a coupon for $15 off $75 of bed linens.  When you need King, everything is at least that much. Of all the weeks to have such a nice coupon, the timing was absolutely perfect.  We were able to wash and dry the sheets and make the bed last night. On our way home from Target, we stopped at Mick's aunt's house and she gave us garden veggies ... buckets and buckets of garden veggies that we can't wait to dig into!

The list goes on and on. Nothing is earth-shattering. But all of it together made for a weekend of feeling on top of the world (even when my back hurt, which it did, and I wanted to cry, which I did).

Life is good. We have our health, we have each other, things are going well with both of our jobs, we still have two weeks left of summer... and my friend Becca just brought me into a wonderful little lead where she and I will get to lead some professional workshops for another school system, which is incredibly exciting and a fantastic opportunity.

So, when I woke up in my amazing bed this morning, I thought if I could vent and whine here to complain, I sure as anything should tell you all when I am contently feeling just amazingly blessed.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

PW: Steak Fingers

I have no idea how I ended up finding this recipe last week.


Sweet As Pie?


Just plain landing on The Pioneer Woman page and seeing it?

No clue.

I think it came to me in a vision.

But in any event, I bought the chop steak, or finger steak, or whatever it's called near you, and as tends to happen, I didn't get to cook it promptly.  Into the freezer it went -- and then this past Friday, Mick and I grabbed a few things to defrost to cook.  That was kind-of silly, because we knew we were not going to be home on Saturday.  We cooked Sunday and Monday and then, staring at me as it had done a week ago, was the tray of chopped steak, all alone in the fridge, waiting for some attention.

And slowly turning brown while it waited.

I made stuffed pork chops yesterday, and I've got a crazy-busy afternoon and evening ahead of me, so I got home from work just now and thought, "It's now or never."  I despise throwing away food. To me, it's the epitome of wastefulness, and I'm ashamed to say we end up doing it too frequently. I'm working on that. WE are working on that.

But back to today's lunch:  I loooooove country fried steak.  I also love pan gravies.  When I first started blogging and Sweet As Pie started, I made PW Chicken Fried Steak.  I was so excited about it, and it was nothing short of a disaster.  One of the reasons was that the steaks were just unbearably tough.

Today, my friends, I beat the ... bliss ... out of the chopped steak.

These are delicious!

Okay, so the plate doesn't photograph well, not one bit -- and to make it worse, I used my cell phone. But man, it's pretty and delicious in person.

And pretty delicious.

Best of all, from the time I walked in the door to the time I sat down and ate was one hour -- and that included emptying the dishwasher, checking the mail, and prepping and cooking the entire meal.


Full disclosure: CAM was my breader-eggwasher-breader.  But still ... this is easy, quick, tasty, and (at least in person!) pretty. Also, the recipe called for two pounds of steak, but I only had slightly over one pound -- and we just about ran out of breading.  I'd do 1.5 times the flour mix if I made the full batch.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Soooo Much Catching Up to Do!

I don't even know where to begin.  And I'm not going to the beginning, because I've already written one novel this summer.

Instead, in the interest of preserving two precious conversations, I'll just start there.

We -- the redheads, that is, because Mick had to stay back for work -- went to NY for a little over a week, so CAM could attend a baton twirling camp on Long Island.  Of all places in the world*, it was 20 minutes from my parents' house!

WHM and I typically drove CAM in to her camp and rode back home (or to shopping or some other fun excursion**) together, and then went together to pick CAM back up in the afternoons.

On one of those drives, WHM asked me when we are going to buy a new house, and I said I didn't know.  He started talking about what kind of house he wanted, and then said he wanted to live with me forever.  I told him that he would probably change his mind one day.

WHM:  When I get married?

Me:  Maybe... maybe before then.

WHM:  Well.  I still want to wiv with you forever.  Even when I am married.

At this point, the kids started talking.

CAM:  WHM, you need to have a girlfriend before you get married.

WHM:  I know. I'm going to have at weast 6 or 7 girlfriends. Then I'm going to see which one is the best, and pick her and get married.

I love the idea that it was so simple to him. He'd try six or seven versions and pick the best one. I wish I'd written this down as soon as we got to baton that morning, but this is still pretty close to verbatim, and I thought it was absolutely precious.

Fast forward to our drive home this past Monday.  A week ago today -- yikes!  We had great weather and the drive was gloriously easy.  WHM took a nice 9,864-hour nap and was in a fabulous mood when he woke up.

As has been his habit lately, he started asking me what something spelled.


That doesn't spell anything, buddy. (He's been fixated on "on" and "no" lately, so at first I thought he was doing something with that.)

He corrects himself:

No, wait. I missed a wetter.  O-N-E-N-T

That's still not a word, buddy.

I mean, O-N-C-N-T

No, wait -- O-N-E-C-E-N-T

At this point, I have the EUREKA! moment that he is reading from a penny!

Oh, that's from a penny!  Silly me, I didn't know what you were reading from!  It spells, "ONE CENT."

And I was promptly (and brilliantly!) reprimanded:

NO, Mommy. It starts with an "O," not a "W!" "O" says "ahhh"!

And we promptly got into a discussion of funny words and homonyms and all sorts of general Mommying.

In other "news," I had grand aspirations of setting aside just a little time every day or so to catch up on all my delinquent blog posts, especially as related to Sweet As Pie.  I didn't do *anything* related to that in July, but I'm hoping August is kind to me and gives me a chance to make some progress towards getting current here -- so that when school starts in a few weeks, I only have to maintain.  I'm trying!


* we found four baton camps this summer. Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and NY. I'm sure there are others, but those were the reasonably-viable ones.

** like finding a walk-in clinic where we could get his stitches removed and then waiting three hours for the pleasure, and following that with a Chinese-food-and-sushi lunch date because we love it but CAM won't eat it!