Wednesday, May 15, 2013

this ain't our first rodeo

So I more than chronicled my failures and successes with Meatball's last birthday (here, here, and here).  It only seems fair I mention what went right and wrong with the Beans' second birthday, right?

Truth be told, I don't think it was anywhere near the same level of mess up.  In fact, it more or less worked out fine, but I also had my sights set substantially lower.  I only had a few things I really wanted to do and I focused on making those couple of this successful.  I wanted him to have a cute shirt that I made, like I did for his Uno themed first birthday, and I also wanted him to be able to actually EAT one of his birthday treats.  Around one Beans was completely incapable of consuming solids or anything like them, so it was a bit of a a bummer for me as I really had envisioned the whole smash cake deal.  But motherhood is all about rolling with the punches, and roll I shall, dammit.

So first off I needed a shirt.  To do that I need a theme.  I already had that, since Beans refuses to wear anything other than his favorite pair of camo cowboy boots (yes, Paul Bunyan bought them and I had little to do with it), there had to be some kind of boots/cowboy theme going on.  Then someone used a phrase I had heard a billion times before and BAM, it hit me ...

I made the shirt in Word, but some asshole at Microsoft decided to screw up Word Art and I couldn't reverse the image unless I reverted back to a compatible older version, which screwed up my cute fonts and colors.  So I had to redo it in Pagemaker, which I had to simultaneously learn while still swearing about the asshole at Microsoft.  After I got it all done I realized that I could have probably gone into my printer properties and just reversed it, but I didn't want to check.  By that point I was several hours in and totally felt that ignorance would be bliss unless I needed to do this again.  Just make the iron on, and move on I told myself.

I also made a back, because I thought it was stinking cute.

So the shirt was done.  Now for cake.  I could have spent a fortune on a top 8 allergy free cake, but at the time we were still consuming gluten (this has since changed and it is a post in itself) so I remembered my pumpkin muffins I had no real trouble making.  Duncan Hines' Classic Yellow Cake mix is free of the Bean's major allergens (dairy, egg and nuts) a fact I was both thrilled and a little alarmed by.

So I made a batch, but I needed to have a "topping" so they were less muffin and more cupcake.

I experimented, and very nearly lost teeth in the process.

I very nearly lost teeth with this sample bite
The spoon was stuck to the bowl.
You wanna eat that?
Not wanting to waste anymore cupcakes, I used the heel of
sandwich bread and found my mixtures were too watery (left)
or dangerously sticky still (right)
Sometimes simple really is better.  A combo of regular sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon mixed together worked much better.

Then just dunk them in and press gently so the topping sticks.  

I nabbed the boot and hat toppers at Hobby Lobby for like $3.99 with a 40% off coupon.  They also had the bandanna cupcake holders, which I also grabbed because they were freaking adorable!!!  I had already baked the cupcakes, so I just stuck them in as decorations 

Final product was delicious, everyone loved them.  Most importantly, the Beans ate almost a whole one himself!  Seriously, I cried.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

ha! I win this round!

While about 90% of the stuff I pin on Pintercrack is just pinned and never touched again (if they ever make episodes of Hoarders about pins I will surely be on it) like maybe 5% is really useful.

The other 5% is stuff like toddler bowling pins, Hogwarts Cakesbanana bread bars, and ketchup bottle pancake batter dispensers -- great in theory but I totally effed up the execution   Some of them I think  were flawed before I even touched them.

At any rate  there is that 5% that gives me hope ... the 5% that makes me keep pinning and trying, because I am just sure this will work.

I got one!!!

Cinnamon Roll Waffles.

How can you make cinnamon rolls even better than they already are?  Make them easier to make!

Its simple, so simple not even I could mess it up!!!

Makin' cinnamon rolls with your waffle maker, in SIX easy steps!

1.) Grease the absolute crap outta your waffle maker.  I used spray, lots of it.  Cinnamon sticks and burns like a motha.  As this post is about me being successful, lets not discuss how I know this.

2.) Pop open the baking grenade of cinnamon rolls.  This particular week I actually used the store brand, not as good as Grands, but certainly edible.  Personally if I am going to consume the calories I'd damn well better enjoy it like an Herbal Essences commercial, so I doubt I will buy Kroger again unless I am really going to be strong and not eat 'em.

3.) Set them on the waffle maker and close the lid.  Did you remember to turn the waffle maker on?  If not smack yourself for being so dependent on my steps.

4.) It only took like a minute, if that, so don't expect it to be like a waffle and need checked 47 times.  Don't tell me I am the only impatient one here who does that.

5.) Put them on a plate and goop them with the icing, which sits ever so nicely in the little holes the waffle maker creates.

6.)  Eat them!  Well let them cool first, but then eat them.

You will need to wipe up your waffle maker, or your next batch of waffles will have specks of burnt cinnamon on them.  Again, lets not discuss HOW I know this.

Monday, May 13, 2013

you'd think I'd have this under control

Since the beginning of the year I have been trying to clean up stuff and get us off on the right foot.  Again.  I do this every year, and some things seem to stick, and some things last about 42.356789 seconds before I am like "screw dat!"  Being that it is now May and we are really no more noticeably "together" I am feeling a bit unsurprised but frustrated.

But since we are trying, very hard I might add, to get more organized and using the Dave Ramsey methodology in several elements of our lives I realized that our filing system had grown out of hand.  Sigh, again.

I did this post a while back about how I had finally stopped being an idiot and started employing my organization filing system from my teaching days at home.  Why it took so long, I will never really know.  But the system itself works fabulously.

I just got lazy.

See, its like this, I get the mail on the way home from getting the Meatball from school.  School's let out time coincides precisely with Beans melt down if he hasn't gotten a nap time.  So by the time I stumble in the door holding the backpack (diaper bag), the mail, my keys, usually a water bottle or two, and a screaming flailing toddler in stage 3 of 4 for tantrums ... well the mail generally gets set on the kitchen table.  The kitchen table is a crap magnet like no other.  In our lazies we make piles and get to them about once a week, sometimes.  Bottom line, I had a plastic drawer in a rolling thing from Walmart that I just stuffed full of "to file later" stuff and then I could roll it out of view when people where coming over.

Trouble was the to-file-laters never got filed later.

None of it was stuff that we needed to DO anything with, we had that done.  It was just stuff we had to store JIC we ever do happen to need it.  So after a few months of just sticking it all in that drawer ...

There was all of that paper and then the whole back half of the table is a temporary greenhouse for our impending backyard garden.  A ridiculous mess indeed.  I will admit to being mildly embarrassed to post that.

So I dove in.  Sorted everything by company or thing (bank statements, health insurance, copies of paid internet company bill, etc.) then put them in chronological order in their piles.  Then I paper clipped the piles so that they were organized for the eventual filing.  I didn't want my piles to get messed up while I did the next step.

Then I cleaned out the existing files.  I should have done this first, but the file cabinet was in direct view of a happily playing Beans, its not broke don't fix it, man.  So I went out of logical order and cleaned out the files after I had cleaned out and organized the stuff to-be-filed.  By this point I felt responsible for the death of like half a forest and had a list of things I wanted to go "paperless" on because this is both nuts and stupid.

Then I reviewed my file names and categories.  While I don't need to give you a list of all my files, because that would be pointless and a bit too much info for my comfort, I will tell you that I divide them into color categories for ease.

Blue has everything certification, degree, or certificate related.  Most of them are mine, but we each have a few.

Purple has anything that is like a manual, directions or warranties   Kid stuff has it's own file.

Green has everything money related.  This includes bills, bank statements, etc.

Yellow is for the kiddos.  This is includes anything like school documentation (enrollment, report cards  and important keepsake stuff I haven't done anything else with.  Our dogs info is in there too, everything vet related and micro-chipping for example.  I also use yellow as a catch-all, so there are also blank cards and holiday cards in there too.

Pink is medical or emergency in nature.  I have "safe" files for the kids, things I pray to never use that I can post separately with their finger prints and current pictures in here.  Each of us also has a file for medical documentation, prescriptions and what not.

Lastly is Grey, and this has anything legal in it.  We also use grey for CYA (cover your ass) stuff, so if we are in the process of purchasing something or dealing with anything shady we keep documentation here JIC we ever need it.

Our most used files -- for things like monthly bills -- are the easiest to access, the rest are filed in a way that made sense to me by category (i.e. we each have our own medical files and they are all four together).  Then I made my labels and stuck those bad boys on the files, in some cases right over the old labels because stickers are awesome like that.

End of the day I was sick of paper, had a lot of trash, and felt better.  I am instituting another la purga in our household, and it only seems fair that I start it because its going to make everyone miserable.  As the mom, I find that is like 60% of my job description most days.

So papers and files are purged ... for now ... where will I go next?

No seriously, where?! Anyone?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Its my Mommy!

I remember when my oldest started naming his toys after me.  I thought it was soooo cute.  All his beloved stuffed animals were affectionately called "mommy" and I thought it was precious.

Beans has however, taken a different approach.

First off, he names anything female after me, and everything male-like after daddy.  However, sometimes I swear the kid is messing with me and trying to break me via self-confidence-destruction.

Want proof?

These are "Mommy" and "Daddy" ... and no, I don't really want to discuss who is who.

I mean it was all fine when we were talking Hot Wheels.



I was willing to just take the whole chocolate bar themed car as Beans knowing his mommy well, rather than it being a comment about my exceptional and nutritional take on life.  But a muscular one-eyed, bearded dude?  Come on!!!

Feeling a bit miffed about the whole thing I packed Beans up and went about my usual errands, which this day happened to include a Costco run.

I don't know why, but the people at Costco who check your receipt at the door think that no matter how impatient and completely pissed your child is, they can cure them with a cute smiley face drawn on the receipt with a highlighter.  So while Beans is losing patience and our items are being counted, I take a deep breath as the gentleman at the door flips the receipt over and begins his Picasso moment.  He wraps it up and hands his masterpiece over to the Beans who takes one look at it and gasps.  Three people, plus myself and the Costco employee look down at him as he proudly holds the page up and yells

Its my Daddy!!!

Suddenly, I felt a lot better about being a bearded pirate.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

so, yeah, door knobs

When last we left off I had been locked in the bathroom and had the most relaxing shower I have had to date.

For the record, that door is still broken.  The door still hangs there, and opens and closes, but it does not latch in any way.  The frame is still all smashed because we have to completely redo the shit-hole that bathroom is (LOL get it, get it, that was totally a double-meaning-hilarious pun!) so we plan to just do it all at once.

I think when this happened in 2011 originally, we really thought that would be happening sooner than it has been ... or will be ...

Anyway, we replaced the handle in the other bathroom before it decided to break and lock anyone in.  We also replaced the knob on the hallway closet, because it gets a lot of use while everyone fearfully respects how thoroughly I have cleaned it.

But the knob on the itty bitty pantry in the kitchen?


When I started to turn it and hear that alarming strange clicking noise I was alerted to the fact that this knob was apparently reaching its end too.  The sticky-outy-thing (I still don't know the name for that) stopped sticking out.  When it got stuck and hadn't popped out I very carefully left it open, planning to have Paul Bunyan remove the knob when he got home.

Then the impossible happened.

Meatball, who left his dirty closed hamper in the middle of his room for nearly a week without noticing it was in the wrong place because it was where I had left it and he just assumed there was a good reason rather than asking, realized the pantry was open and needed closed.

Can you guess what happened next?

Well I managed to beg, plead, swear, and pull the door open somehow.  The knob hung limply in my hand and I knew it wouldn't be so fortunate an outcome if it were to get closed again ... so I fixed it ...

Well, sorta.

Anyway, apart from locking me in the bathroom -- which really was a benevolent occurrence in hindsight what with the shower in isolation -- I walk into knobs all the time and have knob shaped bruises on my hip and arms about 90% of the time.  But to have locked us out of the pantry?  The place we keep coffee?

My gawd, the depths the knobs will sink to!

It has since been replaced, along with ALL bedroom door knobs so that we won't have to worry about this again.  I hope.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

doorknobs, they hate me

This is accidentally a two part post.  Accidenally because the first part of the post occured in 2011 and therefore predates this blog, barely.

So I am c&ping this from the old blog, so you know the back story.  Part two will come tomorrow:

What is she talking about?
You know the phrase "when life hands you lemons ..."?  I prefer the ever more practical variant which mentions salt and tequila because when did lemonade ever make anyone feel better?  But I found a new application for this phrase over the weekend.

For the last couple of weeks both of my bathroom door knobs have been biting the dust.  Both of them.  Seem fair? No.  Not fair, because the bathroom is about the only place I can hope for alone time anymore and its not even a full guarantee.  Anyhoo, door knobs sent a little memo to each other and agreed to simultaneously have the little sticky-outy-part (I know there is probably a name for this part, but who cares) stay stucky-inny.  So the doors can close but not latch, much less lock.

So on Saturday St. Paul of Bunyan and I were furiously cleaning, storing, throwing out and swearing at stuff.  As we were wrapping it up I needed to "powder my nose" so to speak.  Go into the bathroom and do my business and was about to leave when it happened.

The sticky-outy-part that has been stucky-inny for like 3 weeks?  Popped out.

But could it pop out in a miraculous door-is-healed sort of way?  Hello, this is me we are talking about!  What are the odds that the exploding smurf, plastic wrap warrior will have the good luck to have something work in my favor like that?! {Editor's note: I will transfer those posts over too so you have a better idea of how lucky I actually am.}

So the thingy pops out and I can't open the door.

I try turning the knob.  Turning it fast, turning it slow, pulling on the door, pushing on the door, speaking to the door nicely, calling the door a few names, smacked the knob a few times (not advisable, hurts you more than the knob) ... no change.  Finally I take a deep breath, try once more and I hear a strange clicking snapping type noise then feel the knob go slack.  I can now turn it in either direction with no resistance or effect.  Yeah, not good.  Fortunately, I wasn't home alone, or home with just the baby.  More fortunately I happened to have my cell phone in my pocket so I didn't have to yell myself horse until I was heard.

Paul came back, starts running through the procedures I already did from one side of the door.  Then goes and gets tools. Lots of loud noises come through the door.  I sigh and realize I am not going anywhere for a little bit when the hubs has to go back to the tool box for some new tools.

And it hit me.

I am locked in a bathroom, alone.  As in by myself.  Just me.

And the shower.

And the clouds parted and the rays of sunlight shown down while the angelic chorus of "hallelujah" blasted through my brain.

That elusive beast that evades all moms, especially those of younger children, is mine for the taking.

I took a long, hot shower ... by myself.  Uninterrupted, if you don't count the loud noises resulting from St Paul eventually breaking the door down.  After 20 minutes I emerge from the steamy bathroom with my hair clean, skin scrubbed pink and moisturized, all relaxed and calm to a frazzled husband and crying baby.

So the next time you hear that tired old phrase about life handing you lemons just remember, when life hands you a bad door knob you can have yourself a somewhat peaceful shower.

I offer photgraphic evidence of the aftermath:

Stay tuned, part two is coming tomorrow ...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

magic cubes

The call them "the terrible twos."

Need I say more?

Beans has discovered that he has a tremendous ability and even gift at driving people insane.

And by people, I mean me.

We really start melting down about 4:30ish each night.  Hungry, sleepy (especially since he is willfully missing his nap 50% of the time) , and just grouchy, makes for an unpleasant evening.

So I have started trying to come up with things I can do that throw him for a loop and knock the grumpies out of him before we hit the full tantrum, from which there is no return.

Brilliant brain child number one: Magic Cubes.

Because it is warming up this one works pretty well, Beans doesn't mind a cool bath at the start.  I think we will also do this in his little play pool, though I will have to make more of them so that they last a bit longer.

What are Magic Cubes?  They are ice cubes, with food coloring.  Cheap, simple, and effective?  Love it!

You can see the patient Beans waiting in the background here
I have also tested this on my kid a few times and can tell you that I have not yet turned him into a smurf, though I still worry every time the water gets all dark ...

Once they go in the water they immediately begin melting and releasing the magic.  Once Beans is older we will use this as more of a color lesson, now its just a fun mess.

Since I use all the colors it makes the water a dark teal when they are completely melt.  Just pull the plug, drain the tub, and we usually fill the tub and take a real bath at that point. 

I also let Beans play with the tray in the tub, which gets it clean.  Yay!

Neither my bathtub nor my child have been dyed in the process of making these or using them.  I will warn you that you need to be careful when making them, however.  You will smurf up your hands if you aren't careful.

Figures, if someone was going to get tattooed in the process it was bound to be me.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pintercrack & frozen grease

Ever heard this story?

Wife is preparing the ham for cooking when husband sees she cuts the ends off.  Shocked, because he paid a lot for that ham, he asks why on earth she did that.  Wife replies, "huh, I don't know, my mom always did so I just thought that was how you do it."  So they call mom, ask why do you cut the ends of the ham.  Mom says "I have no idea, my mother always did it, so I just assumed that was how you cook a ham!"  They now go and cal grandma, certain they are about to hear the magical important reason as to why you hack up the ham before you cook it only to have grandma laugh hysterically and say "well I don't know why you guys cut your hams up, but I had to because my pan was too short!"

Sometimes we just do things, without thinking, because it was how it was done when we were growing up.

Marriage and living with someone makes you question some of those things.  Like how you fold towels, or whether or not you refrigerate your peanut butter.

At any rate, my mom always had a can in the freezer in which she poured hot grease or oil in so that she could freeze it then toss it on garbage day.  So I did too.  Paul Bunyan's mom did this too, so naturally we both thought this was HOW you do it.

Enter Pintercrack and it's ability to make me doubt everything I have ever known.

I went ahead and took pictures of the incredibly complicated steps associated with this one:

1. Line a regular bowl (that is both freezer safe and can handle heat) with aluminum foil.  Apparently I forgot a picture for this step, but it is pretty easy, I promise.

2.  Pour the hot grease or oil you want to toss in the foil-lined bowl.

3.  Stick it in the freezer.

Note the "Whole Black Beans" can? Yes, that is my old grease can.
4.  When it is hard, take a picture to put on your blog (you can skip this step as it is optional).

5. Toss the disk of frozen nasties in the garbage with minimal waste and leaving no icky can in your freezer.

6.  Call your mom and share this with her.

The end.

P.S. I'd recommend calling your mother and not mine, that would be kinda weird.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Allergy-free Easter

Easter.  I know, it was like forever ago, but I am also ridiculously behind so hang with me!

So, the whole may be deathly allergic to eggs and all the candy worth eating (*sob* Reese's Eggs, I miss you!) totally altered our approach to Easter baskets this year. We wound up wanting to do the eggs hunt and all that jazz  but craving a way to do it sans Epi.

So we needed to keep it allergy free.

This means, because our family is uber speeeshul, that we had to pack plastic eggs (the irony isn't lost) without any traces of real eggs, dairy, nuts, honey, latex, food dyes, soy, and wheat.

So basically, food wasn't happening because I'm pretty sure I'd have had a mutiny on my hands had we put grapes and radish bits in baskets.

Sooo, here is a list if ideas, completely worthless for this year as it is long over but that may be of some use to someone later.

How To Stuff Plastic Eggs Without Killing Anyone I Love, Myself Included:

1.) toy cars
2.) silly putty (dude, it's already in an egg!) *note: Play Doh is cool but be careful with wheat allergies!*
3.) sponge capsules that get slimy and might expand in the water
4.) magnetic letters or numbers
5.) Legos
6.) beads and string for a bracelet
7.) spare change
8.) fun shoe laces
9.) tattoos (do I need to say temporary?)
10.) stickers
11.) little bubble bottles
12.) small figurines, action figures, transformers
13.) tokens or tickets to a fun place (allergens may be present, depending)
14.) glow bracelet (make your hunt glow in the dark!)
15.) notes leading kids on a scavenger hunt

If I had children that liked that sort of thing, I'd have looked into things like hair clips, little nail polish bottles, jewelry, nail stickers, etc. As it is, I really didn't think my dogs deserved that kind if torture.

Ultimately, we didn't use all those ideas. The dollar store is a great resource all things considered here. The point isn't to spend a fortune in the name if bunnies (or even the Resurrection), rather I wanted to not make my kiddos feel like they had to miss out on yet another thing because our genes are a tad whack.

I can attest to this much, it worked. Kids had a blast, no one died. Yay parents!