Wednesday, December 23, 2009

He's Seven Today

The little boy is 7 today. I really can't believe it. Unfortunately, the boy is sick today -- came down with a fever yesterday and it has continued today. He's doing OK, though, happily working on the Lego set he received for his big day.
When I peek at him while he works -- he barely needs any help now -- I'm amazed that it's been 7 years since Lucas joined our family. Seven years ago my world changed forever.... for the better. I bonded with him pretty quickly and although we had a rough few months in the beginning, things smoothed out and he is such a wonderful boy. I'm so lucky to have a loving, thoughtful, smart and funny child. Yes, he does drive me bananas when he teases his sister or when he takes 20 minutes to put on his shoes, but mostly he just loves us and we love him right back.

Luc came in our room at about 5 this morning because he wasn't feeling well. He snuggled into our bed and I told him happy birthday. "Mommy," he said, "you are the best mommy in the world and I'm so lucky to have the best mommy."
No, Lucas, I'm lucky I get to be your mom.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sickness and theft

We've had a pretty shitty week here at the Crouse Haus. Last Wednesday I decided to take the kids to get their h1n1 flu shot. We waited in line for almost 2 hours and I was blown away by how great the kids were. They didn't fight and they just climbed on the railing or looked at books and didn't even ask once for a snack (although I did have some in my bag).
About 4 hours after we got home, Luc was running a temperature. Great! Now the mommy-guilt kicks in. Did I cause him to get sick by taking him to get his flu shot? What kind of mother am I? I lay awake a good part of the night going back and forth over my decision.
He was sick for 3 days and still has a bad cough. We thought Amanda was in the clear, but late Saturday she started complaining of a headache and when I felt her forehead, yes, she was warm.
As Lucas was on the mend, Amanda was heading downhill. She'll be home from school for at least another day... that means at least 4 days with only minimal time put in at work. Ack!!! Don't these kids know I have to save up for Christmas???
I took Amanda to the doc today and doc suspects she has croup. She's not positive for flu, so the kids didn't get anything from the vaccine -- at least I can put that guilt to bed. It was just circumstantial because a lot of shit is going around right now.

Well, thanks to all the running around I've been doing trying to keep the house disinfected and my own compromised immune system (been fighting a cough for a couple of weeks), I've been hit with whatever the kids have. I feel like crap and I am letting the kids take out whatever toys they want and leave everything lying around. I just don't have the energy to clean it up. Phil is going to have a big surprise when he gets home tonight:)

Oh... on to the car. That's a beautiful thing. I packed the kids in the car to drive Lucas and our carpool kids to school this morning when I noticed a police officer talking to my neighbor. I rolled down the window to find out what was wrong. It seems her car was broken into, as were several other neighbors cars. The rascals only hit unlocked cars and apparently just took items out of the vehicles and threw said items into the middle of the street.
"Oh," the police officer said, "and we're trying to find the owner of this inflatable bed..." and he pointed to an aerobed lying in the gutter. Shit! That was in my car. It is my brother's aerobed (Tom, it still works, I'll dust it off, but it is okay, I swear!). I don't lock my shitty van because who would want to steal it... and I don't have automatic locks. I have to lock my back hatch with a freakin' key! Anyway, I guess I'll be locking up from now on.
The officer said for me to check my car and make sure nothing was taken. At first glance, nothing was. I had just cleaned the car out the day before. But then my heart sunk. I had left my flip camera in a little compartment up front. I opened it and sure enough, the jerks took it. Damn them!!!! I loved that little camera and I kept it in the car for when the kids and I made an impromptu stop at the park or something.
Anyway, I chose not to report the stolen camera -- too much work for the police and they won't recover it. It didn't cost that much, but it's not in our budget to buy a new one. Phil is going to be really pissed when he gets home. Shit... and it's going to be all my fault for not locking the damn door.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Neighborhood smells and Questionable Children's Literature

Phil was home late tonight and then headed for a jog, so I decided to take the kids on an evening bike ride. I put on their gear and added a few of those glow necklaces just to make sure they could be seen riding ahead of me. As I trailed behind them with the dog, I smelled something familiar -- Italian food! That's what we had for dinner and I stopped to pat myself on the back for successfully getting the kids to eat meatballs laced with pumpkin puree. We traveled on and more delicious smells permeated the air... was that taco seasoning I smelled coming from the house with the spooky Jack-O-Lanterns? Further down the block I heard the clearing of plates and determined that the family had just finished a nice dinner of BBQ ribs. One good thing about this recession... people are eating at home more and that makes my evening walks smell really great.

After returning home and getting the kids showered, Lucas and I settled down with more of his required reading -- Junie B. Before the boy could read, I might have thought this was a cute book that appealed to kids, but now it makes me squirm. I mean, the book is teaching really bad English. I don't have the best grammar or spelling skills, but I do know that "runned" and "getted" are not real words. The book is supposed to be in the voice of a kindergarten-age girl so, yes, that's how she may speak, but I don't want to confuse my new reader into thinking these words are real. It's just really annoying. Yes, I know Dr. Seuss has lots of words that aren't real words, but his words were completely made up -- of his imagination. Junie B.'s words are just real enough to confuse a kid. I can't wait until we're done with this book. On a good note, the boy is doing excellent with his reading. I'm constantly blown away by how well he is doing.

Saturday, September 05, 2009


You weren't even on my radar.
I heard the news and hoped for the best
Things always worked out
We're young, we aren't meant to go.
You had no one, or so I assumed.
A person can't go like that
I searched for you and could find no news.
Too sad
You can't go, you still have a life
You have much to give you have to grow
I knew you before we shaved our legs
You were cool as a cucumber
I heard the news today
I thought it can't be true
Where have you been
Where have I been
What have you been doing
I don't know
Your family now a floating vessel without an oar
Where will they drift
Not fair
Too young
My tears won't stop
For whom am I crying
My sisters
You were surrounded by love
Of course you were
Why did I think you wouldn't be
I thought that would keep you safe
If they surround you you are gone for sure
You are gone
You are gone
You are gone

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Close Talkers and Eco Vegetarianism

Did you ever see that episode of Seinfeld about the "close talker"?
While I was at the kids' swim lessons yesterday I saw close talking in action and it was so uncomfortable to watch. The close talker was totally unaware that he was invading someone's space. The conversation wasn't an argument... it was just one guy telling another guy a story about a car radio or something. Anyway, I wasn't listening to the particulars, but the close talker just kept standing right in front of the other guy and moving his face like 6 inches from his listener's face. The listener would then stand off to the side and try to gain some space. But the close talker kept on moving in. I couldn't believe it. How did this guy not realize that his actions were not normal? In fact, as he told the story (6 inches from another person's face) he was yelling. He wasn't yelling at the guy, he was just excited about the story.
Anyway, writing it down doesn't do the incident justice. It was too freakin crazy.

And now, dear reader, I have a question for you.
I've been slowly moving toward eco-vegetarianism (is that a word?). We've cut meat out of most of our meals -- yes, I did throw a bit of prosciutto in the dinner I made for the in-laws last week. If we go out, I know Phil will probably order meat, but for myself, I'm no longer doing it. I'm finding it easy and tasty to cook vegetarian. But my question has to do with if you are visiting someone and they serve a meat dish.
Now, I'm not switching to a no-meat diet because I don't like meat -- on the contrary, I do love a nice pork loin or steak every once-in-a-while and I'll miss that. So, if someone has prepared a steak, not knowing I don't eat it, is it OK to partake in the feast? I mean, the animal has already left its carbon footprint and I'm not encouraging the practice of raising animals for food because I didn't buy the stuff.
What would you do?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Veggin Out!

I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian in my late teens and early twenties. If I admit it to myself, I probably did it to get attention. I didn't really have a strong feeling about killing animals other than I wouldn't hunt myself and the whole "environment thing" wasn't that big a movement 15 or so years ago. Anyway, by about age 22 I was again eating meat. I had men taking me to eat in fancy restaurants and they didn't want to see me order the pasta primavera every time. In any case, it didn't stick. Now I'm 35 and I know a lot more about the environment. I've voted for bills that require more humane treatment of animals and I try to purchase animal products that are organic or "free range". But that isn't cutting it anymore.

You know when it really hit me? I was driving up the 5 freeway with my hubby last week on our way to a fabulous "retreat" with friends. I can't remember where we were exactly, but it was somewhere north of Bakersfield -- anyway, we were driving and I suddenly saw a huge number of cows. Thousands of them standing in dirt. There were overhangs where they could go to keep cool, but not a speck of grass to be seen (so much for California's Happy Cows). We drove for what seemed like almost a mile and on my side of the car the cows just went on and on. In the distance I spied a bunch of outbuildings. The slaughterhouse I guessed. I don't know why, but that really got to me. Not just the eating an animal thing, I mean there are countless animals that are born only so that they can be food for other animals. But we are making more of these animals. And we are killing the environment as we do it.

After a weekend with friends and so much drinking, smoking, maryjane and guilty indulgences in paparazzi magazines, I felt I needed some good, wholesome food. Our meals for the past 3 nights have been vegetarian. And to my surprise, the kids liked everything and everything was easy to prepare and cost next to nothing.

I'm not saying that I'm going vegetarian because I don't want to eat my hat, but I'm going to make a big effort to try and stay away from meat. I have to go lacto-ovo, though, because my body can't stay away from eggs and cheese. But even if my family of four gives up meat, that will do something for the environment.

If you have any yummy recipes that are vegetarian and not too out there (I have two youngins) send them my way.
So far the kids love the pita pizza with goat cheese, artichokes and local tomatoes. We also love butternut squash and black bean stew and pretty much any kind of quiche.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Procrastination, tie dye and Annie

I've been feeling so overwhelmed this summer. Overwhelmed with work and kids and projects that have overtaken our dining room table.
This afternoon I had a realization that it doesn't have to be like this. Yes, I still have kids and I still have a job (thank god!), but I don't have to take on all this extra junk.

A few weeks ago I came up with what I thought was a pretty good idea for something I could work on at night and hopefully bring some extra cash into the Crouse Haus. The only catch, however, is that the idea requires someone with crafty talents. I am seriously lacking in the crafty talent area, but I thought I could fake it.
I was talking to my mom about the project yesterday and I told her my concerns. Then she
told me about a documentary of Woody Allen she watched the other night. In it he said something to the effect of either you have it or you don't. This could be applied to many things like writing skills, acting, painting, comedy, music, etc....
I think it was sort of her way of telling me that I may not have "it". Not that I might not have "it" in some other area of my life, but this particular project might not be for me. Some other people might say, "well, gee, your mom is a bit harsh." But her telling me this little tidbit about Woody Allen might have actually set me free. It might save me from dumping money into a venture that will go no where. And this venture might actually just be an excuse for me to stop doing what I really want to do. The book I've been working on stalled, so I think "finding" this project was a way for me to avoid it. I know it won't come easy, but writing this book is something I know I can do, unlike decoupage.

Speaking of the crafty arts, the kids and I were in the backyard today doing tie dye. We've done one the past few summers. So, I went out and bought the kit from Joann's and we made a big mess. The kids had fun and now my fingers are totally stained because the gloves they include in the kit don't work for shit. I'm going to search online for some way to remove the dye from my fingers.

After work and tie dying was finished, I sat down to watch Annie with the kids. Now, this is probably the film I have watched the most times in my life (Breakfast Club comes in second and Friday, thanks to my husband, comes in 3rd). I saw the film opening weekend with my late grandmother at Grauman's Chinese theater -- then, my childhood friend, Jennifer, and I proceeded to watch it on video like 40 times. We LOVED the movie and the songs, but I don't ever remember getting choked up one time. Cut to tonight -- I watched it with my two children for the first time (they loved it!) and I got choked up more than once. When Daddy Warbucks is singing that little "Maybe" part, I was about to start sobbing. I don't think it was the fact that I was watching it with my own children and I was feeling sentimental... it was the grownup in me imagining what it must feel like watching a child you love walk out the door possibly forever. Damn! Anyway, I'm so stoked that my kids didn't think the movie too lame. You never know nowadays because there is so much crap offered to kids -- everything is non-stop action.

Today was good. Have a wonderful night!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hey Summer! I'm So Over You!

Yes folks, it hasn't quite been a week and the honeymoon period of summer has officially ended -- there was yelling today. We actually had a nice first few days of summer -- the days were filled with getting Amanda's used bike fixed up so it looks more like hers, birthday parties and riding bikes everywhere.
Yesterday was a really, really good day. The kids actually acted like they were friends with each other. I got some work done in the morning and then we rode bikes down to the park and had a picnic and just lounged in the sun for a few hours. They rode their bikes home and there wasn't one complaint about going uphill. In the afternoon they played and I did a bit more work and then they rode bikes outside in the evening. Perfect day.
Today was a different story. The fighting started as soon as they woke up. I knew I had to get a few hours of work in before we headed off to the free movie (free movies all summer!) and the kids were determined to put me in a foul mood. They succeeded. The afternoon was filled with fighting, tattling, and grubby fingermarks on the walls.

Camp starts in a week and I cannot wait. It will be good for the kids to get out for a few hours every day and I won't feel guilty about yelling at them while I try to fit in as much work as possible. The little nerds haven't heard that there is a recession going on and mommy needs to bring home some bacon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shiny, New Things and Last Day of Kindergarten

My son is spoiled and I'm not sure what to do about it. I consider myself a nice person -- I try to always be courteous to others and I definitely have never made myself out to be better than someone else because I have more. So, I don't know where Lucas gets it except maybe it is because he is the first-born and he got a lot of attention for 2 years.
Anyway, he got a rad new bike last summer. It is a good bike -- shiny and red with yellow lightening bolts. He loves it and just learned to ride it with no training wheels.
We noticed last month that my daughter has outgrown her tricycle. I went on a mission to find a bike for her. Things are very tight around here, so I wanted to get a used bike. I looked on Craigslist for about a month when I finally scored a girls Trek bike for $40. It is pink and cute, but the seat needs to be replaced, as well as the basket. I picked the bike up yesterday and my daughter was so excited -- she's barely been off the thing since and she even wanted to sleep with it next to her bed. The first thing my son said when he saw it? "It's not shiny and new like mine. I got a new bike." What a little brat! I had a long talk with him but I feel like it went in one ear and out the other. Everything he gets is new. New clothes because he is the first boy cousin, new toys because he is our first child.... Amanda gets hand-me-down clothes from her cousins and used toys from her brother. She didn't seem bothered by the fact that her bike is used -- like I said, she loves it. But I am bothered by my son's attitude. I don't know where he picked it up. My husband and I try to set good examples with our own behavior.
I guess the answer might be to get all of his "stuff" (which we are trying to cut down on anyway) used.

But Lucas is 99% a really great kid. He is sweet and funny (so funny) and energetic and now he is no longer a Kindergartener. Today was his last day at his school with his most amazing teacher. I dropped him off and we had a small gift for Mrs. Smith. I got a big choked up when I went in to say hello to her and her eyes and nose were red already from all goodbyes she was saying. I wish every child could have a Mrs. Smith as their first teacher. I wish Lucas could have her again next year.
I went to pick Luc up a bit early because Mrs. Smith said we could come in anytime during the day. She was handing out scrapbooks she had made herself and I started crying again. Each book had pictures of the child over the year. There were examples of their work so parents could see the progress they had made. I can just picture her putting these together for each child and my heart grows.
We'll miss you Mrs. Smith and we are so grateful for all that you have taught our son.

Monday, June 01, 2009


I think I've come a long way from my teen years. I am totally able to roll with disappointment. Can't make a lunch date... no problem, I understand. Don't have my favorite halibut sushi on the menu anymore... no biggie. No money for vacation this year... we'll have a "staycation". You get the idea. I don't get too upset when plans change or I don't get my way.
I wasn't always this way, and maybe having kids has something to do with it. They are ready to disappoint you from day one.

Oh... you thought nursing was going to be a breeze -- well, Mom, let me tell you, I'm going to make it much more difficult than you thought.
Yes, I know you read that book about making your own baby food and it's all organic and home-made and you spent hours in the kitchen... I'm still not going to eat it.

If I was my previous self, I would have taken to my bed for a week over the fact that my daughter never crawled. But something about having kids forces you to rethink how you deal when things just don't go your way. When you are pregnant for the first time, you have all these dreams about how the early years will be. And for the most part, reality doesn't match the dream -- at least it didn't for me. Those first years were wonderful and crazy and hard and I love my kids, but the reality definitely didn't mirror the dream -- except for the love part. I dreamed about tremendous love and reality far exceeded my dreams.

So why am I bringing all of this up now? Tonight an old friend was supposed to drop by for dinner. I haven't seen her in something like 14 years. She was one of my best friends in high school, but then, you know, someone moves 3000 miles away and after a few years it is easy to lose touch. We did. I found her again through facebook. Whoo-hoo. I've had some correspondence with her and then a few weeks ago she said she would be in town and wanted to come by for dinner.
I planned a yummy meal (beef bourguignon) and even picked up the house a bit. I didn't really care too much about the food, I just wanted to see my friend again. I wanted to give her a big, humungous hug. It's now 8:45 and she was to be here at 7. I fed my husband and poured myself a glass of a good Malbec. I now wish I hadn't opened it because I know I won't drink more than one glass. Anyway, I am disappointed and I know that there is a reason she couldn't make it. Stupid me didn't ask for her cell phone so I could call her and I can't call her home because it's like almost midnight there. My kids were sweet... they gave me hugs and said, "mommy, I'm sorry your friend couldn't come." They were comforting me because if one of their friends canceled on a play date, they would be a mess. But I'm not a mess. I'm not sad about the dinner that I didn't eat or the hors dourves that are sitting on the counter. I just wanted to reminisce. Anyway, I hope she is OK and that we'll have a chance to see each other some time.

So now, I'll finish my glass of Malbec and sit on the sofa with hubby.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New DG Post

I added a new post to
A Motley Group of Web Sites

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Remember to Vote Today

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Crouse Haus Checking In

Shit it's been a long time since I posted something here. Nothing major going on around the Crouse Haus, just busy with every day life.

Mother's Day was absolutely perfect. I was woken up by Luc quite early because he wanted to see if the tooth fairy had stopped by our house. Amanda lost her first tooth on Saturday night (it shouldn't have been lost this early, but that's another story). Luc had his 3rd visit from the fairy on Thursday and he wanted to see what Amanda got. I was not in great form because Aunt Molz was staying for the weekend for a surprise to our mom. Needless to say, Molz and I drank a bit of wine and beer (and prepared food for our picnic the next day) and 5:45 on Sunday morning was a wee bit early for me. So, I told Luc to go back to sleep. He came in again around 6:15 and said he was starving, so I told him to go fix himself breakfast. He came back a few minutes later and said he fixed breakfast for me. He had poured about four pieces of Life cereal in a bowl with some milk. What a cutie. I turned on the tube for him and hit the bed again. I tried to get back to sleep but couldn't. But I couldn't get up either... Phil would kill me if he found me up early on Mother's Day. So, I faked sleep and waited for Phil to get up. He finally did and I heard him fiddling in the kitchen. I heard the coffee brewing and then the kids coming in with breakfast. Thank God! It was very sweet. A bagel and fried egg and a cup of coffee is my dream breakfast.
We quickly packed up a picnic lunch and headed out to a state park to meet the whole fam. It was awesome. All 6 of my siblings, all my nieces and nephews, my mom and dad were there. We ate, talked shit, hiked and took a bunch of pictures. Everyone stayed longer than I expected and I was very, very happy. Then, my mom wanted to take Molz and I out for a small bite for dinner (well... really wine) at the Four Seasons. La De Da! Phil took the kids home and us ladies had a nice evening drinking wine and eating fancy food.

I just love having my little sis here to visit and I always feel like something is missing when she's gone:(

We've been busy with t-ball and playdates and trying to pull weeds. I seriously freak out every time I walk into the yard. I could spend 8 hours a day for a week and still there would be weeds everywhere. My garden just seems to really be the best place for them to grow. I never had this problem in my old place... but I had a gardener back then. I think I might have to admit defeat and just get the really big suckers every once-in-a-while.

The book I've been working on is coming along. I go days where I really don't have any time at all to write and then I'll find a night where all the dishes and laundry are done and I can hunker down for an hour or two and really get some stuff done. I don't know if I'll be finished by the end of the year, but the progress I'm making is really helping me feel good about the project.

There is another project I don't feel so good about. One of my dear friends is pregnant and I decided I want to crochet a blanket for her first child. Problem is I don't know how to crochet (or knit) and I am the least crafty person I know. I bought some books and it seems like it should be easy, but I can't seem to get the knack. I have tons of projects laying around that just don't look right. I'm going to try this weekend to figure out what I'm doing wrong. If anyone out there knows how to crochet and can send a beginner a few tips on how to keep count of the stitches, I'd appreciate it.
Crouse Haus Out!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Waking up

Lucas woke me up at about 6:45 yesterday morning. He handed me a note that he must have worked on while the rest of the household slept:

"I luve you mom and you are The best mom you are grateist mom in the world."

What an amazing way to wake up. Most of the time I find it hard to believe I'm worthy of such love -- but getting a note like this reminds me to keep trying really hard to do my best.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

No TV and Homework Can Suck It

When I picked Luc up from school on Monday he was a bit bummed. Apparently his teacher told the class that they could not watch t.v. or play video games for a week. I asked him why and he said he didn't know. There was no note sent home, so I didn't know what to think, but he didn't watch t.v. We don't watch much anyway.. they get about 45 minutes or so while I make dinner in the evening. He only plays video games occasionally with Phil on the weekends, so no big deal. Except, I was a bit annoyed that someone else was telling my kid that he couldn't do these things.
On Tuesday morning I asked the teacher what the deal was and she said it is national turn off the t.v. week -- so all the kids signed a pledge not to watch t.v. or play video games. That did bother me a bit. I think some of the kids might watch quite a bit of television and some go to a babysitter after school, and the t.v. is on all the time. I don't know, but I was bothered by the idea of my child signing a pledge I had not approved of. I know, it sounds like something stupid to be upset about, but it's the idea behind it. I think I should have had a note about it in advance.
Anyway, the t.v. has been off while the kids are awake since Monday. They don't seem to miss it.

I guess since the kids aren't supposed to be watching the t.v., the kindergarten teachers think that it is a good time to send home a ridiculous amount of homework -- and I mean ridiculous.
Monday wasn't so bad. We just had to create a cover for a book the kids were to write this week. Didn't take more than about 15 minutes, including the artwork time.
15 minutes is about what I would expect a Kindergartener should have for homework.
Tuesday night was t-ball practice so we had to do the homework before that. Assignment was to write the first part of the story (about one page) and then make a picture to go along with that.
These are kindergarteners, and for some (like my boy) writing is a very slow process. First Luc had to dictate the story to me. I wrote it out and then he copied what I wrote. I have to sit with him because he is only six and still needs to be reminded to put spaces between words and periods at the end of sentences.
Luc wasn't in the mood to do any of this because, for goodness sake, he had just gotten home from 5 hours of school. Wednesday the assignment was the same (for the 2nd part of book) and again, we had to do the work right away because of a school fundraiser at a restaurant for dinner and then a program at the high school Phil wanted to take the kids to.
Today, Luc had a friend over, so the homework waited until after our late dinner.
Here is my gripe... the assignment for Tues, Wed, and Thurs took at least 45 minutes each. 45 minutes for a 6 year old! I don't even think a 5th grader should have that much homework.

I was listening to Talk of the Nation on NPR yesterday and people were calling in with ideas for things that should be done away with. One woman called and said homework. I say amen. She is a single mom, who works and her kids are involved in sports, plus, duh, they like to read for recreation or just play. But there is no time for that with the loads of homework they have. After a long day of school for the kids and a long day of work for mom, instead of having quality family time, they have to struggle through hours of homework each night. I dread that because I know it is coming.

Perhaps we parents should boycott homework for the younger set.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


As I type this, I'm sitting outside and it feels at least 78 degrees at 8 p.m. Yes, it was quite warm today, but now it is just perfect. And it's the perfect end to my birthday weekend. Yes, I turned 35 today and the one thing I asked for I received -- my kids got along for the entire day today.

Yesterday the grandparents Crouse headed up for a visit. We packed a picnic and headed out to the park for a couple of hours. After we came home, we sat on the back porch while the kids played in a couple of tubs of water I had filled up. Then we moved out to the front porch and set up some wine and snacks and we talked for a couple more hours while the kids played out front. They showed off their skills on their scooters and we held up signs with scores. They loved it.
Dinner was simple and we enjoyed a bit more wine.
This morning, Ray and Jeme cooked a big breakfast and we all stayed in our pjs until 10 a.m. Then we headed off to the toy store (after getting dressed) because the kids had a bit of pocket money from the grandparents. Amanda picked something out, but Lucas wisely decided to save his money for something special. Then it was off to meet my mom for lunch -- the kids were so freakin awesome in the restaurant. After we saw off G and G Crouse, Phil took the kids out for a bit and I got some writing done -- book had been on hold for a few weeks and it was nice to get into it again. Phil and the kids came home and we made some frozen pizza and watched a movie. Kids had a bath, we finished reading George's Marvelous Medicine and now Phil is tucking the kids into bed.
What an awesome weekend. The only thing on our list that we didn't do was hike up Tarantula hill, but it was so darn hot today that I'm not too broken up about it.
If this is a sign of what 35 has to offer, I'll take some more, please!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


For reasons I won't go into, I was having a very bad day today. I went over to my mom's to help her make some name tags for a reunion she is having soon -- she's on the planning commission and it sounds like it is going to be an awesome gathering.
So, the thing took me a bit longer than expected, but I was working while she entertained the kids. I then got a phone call with some unexpected bad news. I completely lost it. She got the kids set up with a movie and came in to talk to me about things. I was sobbing in front of the computer and she did the mom thing -- the thing I do for my 4 and 6 year olds. I'm 35 and she can still do it. It's amazing. The problem is still there, but Mom made me feel a bit better and helped me catch my breath so I can try and see what has to be done next.
My mom is awesome and I just hope that she knows how amazing she is.
The crazy thing that occurred to me just now, is that her mom is no longer here -- hasn't been for almost 30 years. Who does the mom thing for her? Must think on that....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lucas Is Rad

Lucas did one of the raddest things on Friday morning. We were just chillin because it was the first day of spring break. I got Lucas some breakfast and then I headed into the shower. We didn't wake Amanda up because she is a bear in the morning and we try to let her sleep as long as possible -- I guess she woke up while I was in the shower. I went to check on Lucas and he was preparing a bowl of cereal for his baby sister. It was about the sweetest thing ever. Then they sat down and chatted all throughout breakfast.
These moments are few and far between here at the Crouse Haus -- those two fight like cats and dogs, which is why I am writing this now. They were fighting like mad all day today and I need to remember something good.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Is My New Christmas

So, the Crouses are doing Easter this year. We didn't plan on it, but it just worked out that way. So, tomorrow we'll have about 18 adults and 11 kids at our place.
My mom took the kids overnight last night and all of today so I could start cooking and try to spiffy up the place. Thanks Mom!
I am loving Easter this year. I've made some good (I hope) food and some festive decorations. The kids baskets are all ready to go and the fridge is stocked with plenty of wine, beer and juice.
Everyone else will bring something to the table, I've filled tons of easter eggs for the hunt and printed out some coloring pages to keep the little ones busy.
That's it. Holiday done!
No worrying about what to buy everyone, no pine needles on the floor and no month-long Christmas songs on the radio.
It will just be a nice gathering of family for a warm So. Cal afternoon.
I wish this is how Christmas was. Something you throw together in the week before the holiday. Everyone brings a little something and no one gets stressed out or maxes out their credit card.

Happy Easter or Passover to all!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Easter Bunny is for chumps

So, I'm walking through the market with the kids today and Amanda is going on about what sort of candy the Easter Bunny might bring her. Lucas is quiet. A moment later he says, "Mommy, I know who the Easter Bunny is," I say, really? "Yes," he says. "The Easter Bunny is Y-O-U!".
I tried to keep a straight face and said something like, no, Luc, that's not true. My heart wasn't into making the lie even bigger and thankfully my son was distracted by some Lucky Charms in one of the aisles, so the conversation ended.
Well, it ended for him, but for me, the conversation has been replaying in my mind. As I thought about it, I was like, well, shit, what do you expect when you try to convince a kid that some magical bunny comes and brings a basket full of candy? There's no back story to support it, like there is for Santa. Santa lives somewhere, he is married and has employees. He gets around with flying reindeer. He spreads a message to be good.
What does the Easter Bunny have? Man, I don't know and I never thought about it. I can't believe I was such a dumb child that I believed this junk until I was like 7 or 8. Luc is 6 and he's got it all figured out -- and I'd bet he figured it out on his own because if one of his mates told him, he would be saying, "so and so said there is no Easter Bunny, is this true?"
Part of it may be that we live in a much more diverse culture than I did. And I don't just mean color. I went to a Catholic school, so of course, all of the kids that went to school with me believed in the Easter Bunny. But we talk a lot around here about how we are Catholic but there are lots of people who believe different things and that is okay.
Anyway, I think I might stock Luc's basket extra full this year just because he has figured it all out.

I guess this will be an all Luc post. The kid has turned into a speller instead of a talker. Normally, the kid can talk your ear off. He approaches strangers to say hello and ask lots of questions. Yes, he's going to be the guy behind you in the supermarket who just starts talking to you or asks why you have a pregnancy test in your grocery cart.
Anyway, lately his talking has slowed and it has turned into spelling. Everything is spelled out now. I'll call his name and I'll get W-H-A-T? I'll ask him if he wants green beans or corn and he'll say, C-O-R-N. Luc, do you have to go potty... Y-E-S.
You get the picture. Gone are the days when Phil and I could get away with spelling out what we didn't want the kids to hear.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Middle age is upon me

I'm staring down middle age right now. I'll hit the big 3-5 in a couple of weeks and it's freakin me out a bit.
The weirdest thing is that people that used to seem sooooo old to me are no longer so old.
A few crushes of mine from my jr. high school days... they seemed so old and wise at the time. Now, looking at their ages, they were just wee babes when I was admiring them.

John Mellencamp -- 58
Prince -- 51
Jon Bon Jovi -- 47
James Hetfield from Metallica -- 45
Johnny Depp -- 45
Bono -- 48
Bret Michael - 46

Holy shit, Bono is only 13 years older than me!!! WTF?
Prince! I remember listening to "When Doves Cry" when I was like 9 or 10 and thinking he was awesome and some way older dude. He's only like 16 years older than me.
Bret Michael... Man, I had this guys face plastered all over my pre-teen (ok, early teen) room.
Now, when you are 10, someone who is 26 seems ages older than you. But when you are almost 35, it doesn't seem like such a big difference. After you hit your mid-twenties, time seems to speed up and you can actually picture yourself as a 40 year old.

I'm getting old folks, and I don't know if I like it. I want my teen crushes to remain a lifetime older than I.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dinner in a pinch

What do you do if your mom calls at noon and invites herself and your aunt over for dinner?
You don't have much on hand -- too busy to grocery shop lately -- you've promised your kids a trip to the park and then there is t-ball practice at 5 p.m. You won't be home until 6 and the idea of whipping something up at 6:30 to be eaten after 7, while the kids claw at you crying about how hungry they are isn't something you want to deal with right now.
I have a big box of risotto that is in the pantry, so I figured I'd google to see if I can put that in the crockpot. Bingo!
Here it is, the easiest supper that will gain you tons of applause..
1.25 cups uncooked risotto
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
3.75 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper
1 cup canned pumpkin
Put all that in the crockpot on high for about 2 hours.
Then, give it a stir and add about 1/2 cup fresh parm. Cook another 20 minutes or so.

So, we went to the park and played. Stopped at the market for some frozen garlic bread and a bagged salad. Came home and put all of the dinner stuff in the crockpot. Kids watched an episode of spongebob while I madly tried to straighten up a bit. Hit the restroom and headed out to t-ball practice. Got home about 6:10. Kids played and I threw in the garlic bread, tossed the salad and put out some cheese and crackers. Mom and Aunt Mo arrived right at 6:30.
Dinner was super yummy. Now, they could have been pulling my leg because they gave me such short notice and didn't expect much, but I actually thought it was tasty. So, give it a try. You probably have almost everything sitting in your kitchen.
Mom brought dessert and a bottle of wine.

It was so nice to get another visit with Aunt Mo. She goes back to Maryland on Thursday, so this was my last chance to see her this year. She's 86 now, so we don't know how much longer travel will be in the cards -- which is why it wasn't really out of line for Mom to push to invite them to dinner. Normally I would have invited them, but we saw them for a party a week ago and they've been "booked' ever since. I've been so busy that I didn't really think about it. I'm glad it worked out.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Vanilla cone

A while back I mentioned a lovely new frozen yogurt shop that opened up -- Golden Spoon. It is less than half a mile from our house and they serve up delicious frozen yogurt that contains very few calories. I'm always looking for ways to have a treat without adding pounds, so I was excited. Except, there is a nagging little voice in my head that tells me there must be something bad lurking in there to make it taste so good. If this had been a few years ago, I might have been visiting Golden Spoon every Friday with the kids, but at like $3/person, we haven't made it a regular thing.

Tonight, I was looking to get the kids out after dinner for a little treat because they've been really good today. I was prepared to drop at least $9 for dessert when Amanda chimed in that she wanted McDonald's ice cream. Give the girl what she wants. Luc, Amanda and I headed up to McD's and I slapped down $3.19 for three generous-sized vanilla cones -- the soft served ones with the swirls... you know, old school!
I forgot how fun it is to go hang out at a fast food place just for dessert. The kids enjoyed racing to see who could finish first (Luc won) and who could get the messiest (Amanda won). All this for about $3 -- I think we might be back.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Evolution for a 6 year old

I didn't think I'd be here this soon. I haven't boned up on my science and the origins of life on Earth enough to be confident I'm not misinforming my son.
We are raising our children Catholic, so of course they know that God created life and earth and all that, but we also believe in evolution and the big bang... it's just that God caused those events to take place.
Until now, Luc has been fine with the basics... God made us and made the Universe. After brushing his teeth tonight, Luc turned to me and asked, "Mommy, did an egg just come from outerspace and then it was there and so then there were chickens, or what?" And I ask, "do you mean, what came first, the chicken or the egg?" "Yes, did a chicken just come here and then start laying eggs or did an egg come here first?"
So, my non scienctific self started to describe how there were other animals here first and that eventually an egg was hatched that was the first chicken. Then he started asking, well, how did all those other animals come to be. I tried my best to mold some answer like life started as just a bunch of tiny, tiny animals and they changed over millions of years, becoming dinosaurs and then those animals died and then new ones evolved. He seemed to accept my answer. But now I really think I need to get to the library to find a book to describe evolution on a kindergarten level. I know for sure that I didn't have those kinds of questions until I was much, much older. I accepted the fact that God created the earth in a week and man was created on the 6th day. I didn't even question where the dinosaurs -- or chickens -- came into the equation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The economy may be tanking but you can't stop spring

Just in time to boost our lagging spirits, spring has sprung around here. Walking around the neighborhood with Lucas this evening, the air smelled beautiful. Jasmine, orange blossoms, roses -- they are all popping and their scents mingle and just add a sweet scent wherever you go.
Luc and I popped a bunch of bulbs and some gerber daisies in the ground today. It felt good to dig in the dirt, play with a few earthworms and sprinkle our new charges with some water.

Hope you are looking forward to spring as much as I am.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Last time I checked I lived in California

We were at Target today shopping for a birthday present for one of Luc's pals. As we perused the aisles of crappy toys, we came upon an odd one. It was a firefly catcher -- a jar that says it gives off a light that attracts fireflies. They enter the jar and can't get out, until you release them.

The thing that strikes me as odd is that this was at a Target here in good 'ole So. Cal. If I have my facts straight, we don't have fireflies this far west.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Go get punched!

"Go over there and get punched!"
That was a phrase spoken to hundreds of elementary school kids at my son's school today. Why do these kids need to get punched? No, they aren't bad kids... they were running in the jog-a-thon and some of us volunteers had to punch their cards as they ran laps.
I just couldn't get over how funny this phrase sounded.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun to see these kids run, run, run. Some were so determined, you would think they were running the L.A. Marathon. Good job Cubs!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Prop 8 ramblings

It's baaaaack!!!!!
Yes, prop 8 is back in the news here in California because the opponents have taken their issue to the California Supreme Court.
I have mixed feelings and I am glad to read that the justices do, too. I am an opponent of Prop 8, as you can see from some of my previous posts. I won't go into it all and get all frothy at the mouth, but let's just say that I'm disappointed in the voters of California.
So, Maureen, why the mixed feelings?
Well, the voters who turned out did vote for this thing and should we expect that the court should just easily overturn the will of the people? I know I wouldn't want them to if it was an issue I supported. I want them to seriously take their time and debate what it will mean for our state if the court can just come in and overturn an amendment.
Now, don't get me wrong, I do not agree with prop 8 in any way, shape or form. I voted against it and argued with numerous people about it.

So, we have the will of the voters, but then that brings up another point. 7 million people voted for prop 8 in California. That is hardly a majority of the population. California's population stands at about 36 million... so you are talking about 1/5 of the population. Now, granted, some of the 36 million are minors, but, still, 7 million does not a majority make. So, I guess I should direct my anger at the people who didn't get out and vote. Where were you to put this proposition in it's place? Now we have to hear the arguments of people telling the court that the majority of voters voted for this amendment... but how do I know it is what the majority really wants?

I'll be watching this closely, because while I would be happy to see prop 8 go away, I'm not entirely sure it is something that should be determined by our courts.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tommy Shaw, t-ball and tomatoes

Last night was awesome! I went with my brother and the Andersons to a benefit concert for the Las Virgenes schools. The band Venice (an old fav) was hosting the thing, and they were joined by Tommy Shaw, Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross and the Agoura High Band, Calabasas Choir and Brass band. The music was awesome and it was just so nice to see these rock stars come and give their time to raise money for the arts in schools. But beyond that, I got to see Tommy Shaw again. That guy is a rock 'n roll star. You can see musicians and they are great -- doing something you can't do... something you enjoy. But when someone has that "star" presence, it is so great. Tommy Shaw has it. He gets out there with his guitar, his long hair and the guy is in his mid 50's! It is just so fun to see someone doing something that they love and doing it so well. And then they had a couple of the girls from the Calabasas choir doing songs with Michael McDonald and the other musicians and it was awesome... these 16 year olds out there on stage with these musicians and you're thinking, that is amazing... this is something they will carry in their pocket with them for years.
It was just great time.

Today was the opening day for t-ball. Luc is on the Phillies this year and he is doing so much better than last year. It's not like we put any pressure on him, but we do like to see him do well. Phil has been working with him for a few weeks, and all of his skills are improving. He has a couple of buddies on the team with him, and I think that makes it more enjoyable -- it is also more enjoyable for us, since we know some of the parents this year. The offense was great... on defense, there is still a lot of Luc sitting down in the field, putting his hat in front of his face or turning away from the batter to stare down the runner at third. I was constantly yelling "Lucas, stand up!" The kid is a bundle of energy... he never stops moving, so to ask him to stand in the field where there isn't a lot of action is just asking for trouble:) It is all fun, though.

The tomatoes and lettuces have sprouted! Last weekend Amanda and I went and purchased many seeds and a little greenhouse kit (like $6) where you can start your seeds. We started the tomatoes and romaine lettuce. Today as we were working in the garden, I lifted the top and spied a few sprouts. I'm so excited. Phil built my veggie bed last weekend, and plants will be ready to go in the ground in a few weeks. Next will be the cucumber, watermelon, canteloupe and pumpkins. I'm also going to do strawberries and spaghetti squash. This is the first year, so I know there will be trial and error. If I can just get a few edible items, I'll be happy. We decided to do seeds because they are cheap -- better to be out $2 rather than $7 or $8 . And with that $2, you have the potential for many, many plants, whereas the $7 will only get you one plant and if you screw it up... "That's all folks."

Tomorrow we're looking to go on a hike with the kids and the dog and do a bit more yard work. I have some more weeds to pull in the front and then next week we're going to plant an orange tree in the front yard.

Busy, busy, busy... haven't even finished cleaning the mold from the kids' other room. It is taking so long and I know there must be an easier way, I just haven't found it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Easy supper

You take a spaghetti squash, cut it in half, nuke it seed side down in a half inch or so of water for about 9 minutes (that's my micro). While that is cooking, brown some ground beef or ground turkey. Mix in a small jar of pasta sauce with meat -- I like the small jar from Trader Joe's just enough sauce in there. When squash is done, scoop out the seeds. Then scrape the insides so the "meat" comes out like spaghetti. Put half of squash in bottom of casserole dish (spray it first). Top with half of meat mixture, then half a container of cottage cheese, 1/2 cup mozz. cheese. Repeat those layers and then top with a bit of parm. Plop it in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
Dinner is done. You've got your veggies and your protein in one dish. Add some bread and fresh fruit and the kids are happy.

This fed our family of four, plus, a bit for the dog and enough leftovers for Phil or I tomorrow.

Next time I make spaghetti squash I'm going to take the seeds out before I cook it and plant them. This squash can get a bit pricey -- mine tonight was over $5. But if I grow it myself, then this dinner would be even cheaper. I'm going to experiment with ways to make it meatless. Trying to think of what else could go in there that isn't too fatty (the cheese is enough) but is filling.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


When it hits, it hits like a ton of bricks.
Came out of left field this time... been doing well for months, despite some stress in everyday life.
Need to get out and exercise or set aside some time for meditation, but there doesn't seem to be any time.
Kids, work, still have room with no carpet and the floors in there need to be cleaned. Garden planning began last weekend, but now I'm feeling overwhelmed. Things are tight, just like they are for everyone. Just spoke to a woman yesterday whose husband has been laid off for 3 months -- he was the sole income earner. She doesn't seem too stressed at all. Felt like slapping myself for even thinking about complaining.
Hope I can come out of the funk soon.

Monday, February 23, 2009


"Ha, ha, Amanda. Your balloon doesn't float anymore."

"Lucas, I'm... I'm going to slap you in the face tomorrow!"

I'm interested to see what happens tomorrow:)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Vagina monologues and we are rich

I typed up a whole post that was really quite funny and wasn't pornographic in any way -- despite the title of this post. But I just deleted it because I remembered that this is a public blog. I don't think there are many readers out there and the readers I do have, I know and wouldn't be freaked out by. But who knows who else might be reading that I don't know. So, if you know me, email me and I'll tell you the story. Maybe it isn't even funny unless it happened to you.

Anyway, today I got some good work done. The kids made it to school, even though they are still hacking something awful. I think a call to the doc might be in order tomorrow. Also, I have to make a call to the vet because our dog seems to be scratching her ears something fierce. Lordy!
We had some good friends to dinner last night and as I was cooking up a storm, the roof started to leak. Lordy! Phil and Jake headed up to the roof and put a tarp up. A temporary fix, but one that will have to do for a bit. I know I have it really good, which is what keeps me from freaking out too bad, what with the mold and the leaky roof. My mom will call and say, "I can't believe you aren't loosing your mind!!!" Great pep talk, Mom! But I can't lose my mind. I have roof over my head (a leaky roof, but a roof), good food on the table, smart, beautiful children, a patient, loving husband and more than one pair of shoes. We have a car, a dog and a fish. The boy has a bike and both kids have scooters. We have cable tv, and a dvd player. We have an awesome public library, internet access, two jobs and some of the best friends a body could ask for. We have wonderful parents, even though we might poke fun at them sometimes. We are rich.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

May I vent? Of course I may... this is my blog and all I seem to use it for is venting. I'm sorry for you all, but it helps me so that I don't go pouting about the house. We have enough pouting from the kids, I don't need to add to the problem.

My nightmare began late last week when I discovered mold in many rooms of our house. No problem, I can tackle it just fine. I forgot that I have kids. I could easily have tackled this problem on the three day weekend if I was on my own, but with the little ones demanding attention and food throughout the day, it doesn't leave much time for actual work.
I decided to put things off a bit. We moved a little bit of furniture yesterday and then we just hung about the house and played. In the evening we decided we would take advantage of the Time Warner 1 cent movie and order dinner. The kids decided on the Pink Panther with Steve Martin. They were very excited and we all settled with our dinner at a little portable table. Holy smokes, the movie doesn't work. Did I pay my bill? Yes. It seems they were having technical difficulties but were working the problem. The kids were mighty disappointed, but I told them we could watch the movie the next day (today). We settled on a video and had a nice Valentine's dinner.
Today I woke up ready to tackle the carpet, after I made pancakes and tried again to watch a 1 cent movie. Again, no dice from Time Warner (they suck!). Anyway, after everyone was fed I began to move the rest of the furniture and toys from the kids' room. The furniture and toys are placed all throughout our very humble abode. I pulled up the carpet rather quickly, but, as I recalled from the last time I did this, the carpet tack strip is a biotch! As I tackled that, the kids decided to destroy the house. I do not jest. There were toys and dress up clothes, kick-boards, mcdonald's toys... everything you could imagine strewn about the house. Actually I shouldn't use the word "were" because everything is still in disarray. I did manage to finish removing the tack strip. After I finish my beer and this note I'll move on to cleaning the mold off the floor. Tomorrow I'm sure I'll have to bleach the floor yet again, wait for it to dry and then sweep up.
As I was in the room, I noticed that the walls look very dingy. I'm thinking I should paint while I'm at it. Phil will absolutely freak if I mention this to him -- if you know my husband, you know what I'm talking about. But it's not as if I ask him to help (though he does try), he just doesn't like the disorder.

The nightmare won't end for many, many weeks. I'm going to have to pull up all the carpet. And that's not all. I have a garden to attend to. The weeds are beginning to threaten my children.

But it's not all bad. We escaped for a bit this afternoon for a bite to eat and a trip to the park. We then headed over to visit some friends for a bit and we invited them for dinner tomorrow. Aack! What was I thinking??? I now have to clean my house, something that this mold problem has stopped me from doing. And don't get me started on the laundry....

Hope you had a nice Valentine's day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dogs and Mold Part Deux

Dogs are so funny. Say you throw your dog a ball -- it is facing you when you throw it and then it quickly turns to run, not seeing that there is a chair right in the path it plans to take to get to the ball. The dog runs into the chair, quickly corrects itself and goes to retrieve the ball. It's a beautiful thing. There is no self-consciousness there, no need to make some self-deprecating comment. No, they just make the mistake and move on, never looking back. I think I need to take some lessons from my dog.

On to the mold. My son has been fighting a cough for more than 2 months now. We all got a bad cold right before Christmas and it took all of us quite a while to get rid of the lingering cough. We felt fine, but at night we couldn't stop coughing. Anyway, my son is still having problems. The doc doesn't hear anything in his lungs. Last night I mentioned it to my mom and she asked if I thought there could be mold elsewhere in the house.
You may have read about my mold problem last year here. At the time, I pulled up the carpet in a few other areas of the house and it seemed OK. Well, I guess I wasn't looking hard enough, or maybe I didn't want to find any. Today I found more. A lot more. It is all through the room my kids now sleep in, in the master bedroom, in the family room and part of the living room. It doesn't seem to have spread to the hallway. Now, I didn't tear up all the carpet, but the mold seems to be only against walls with windows. Most of those walls are near areas where we have sprinklers for our outside vegetation. I was freaking out earlier today and wanted to tear it all up right away and start cleaning. My mom said to hold off because I have to go about it the right way in order to make sure the mold spores don't get into the air more than they already are. I did some research and it seems like it is going to be a hell of a job. We'll have to seal off each area where we are working and then wear masks. We'll have to do one room at a time. I didn't do this in the playroom because, well, what the hell do I know about mold?
I gave the news to my husband this afternoon and he was quite upset. His main concern seemed to be that we can't afford to put in any flooring right now. I told him fine, we'll live on concrete floors for a year or two. In my head, that is what I figured we would do. But he made some comment about how I'll be upset about that and it will start to bother me before too long. I got really peeved with him about his comment and we had a little tiff. But after I had some time alone, I realized I was probably mad because I know he is right. I do let stupid stuff like, what my house looks like, get to me. I'm working on it and I think I'm getting better. I hope I am. Anyway, in the coming weeks, we'll be pulling up carpet and cleaning concrete. The playroom was quite a task, so to do the rest of the house is going to suck. We'll live with concrete floors for a while but that's fine. I'll get a few rugs and hopefully that will spruce things up a bit.
But I know I'm going to have dreams of moldy aliens invading my house.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Going against my nature

So, I'm totally going against my nature right now and typing this as dinner dishes sit in the sink. I usually have a rule that I clean up the kitchen as Phil puts the kids to bed, so that the task is done before I sit down to the laundry list of things I have to do. Not that I have to do this, but after a day home with a sick kid, I need a little fun.

Not too much work has gotten accomplished this week. First, I lost a day with Luc coming home early on Monday and then today was shot because Amanda was home sick. The house is wrecked and the dress I had been working on for Amanda to wear on Valentine's day is still only 1/2 finished. I don't see how I'm going to finish it, since I still have to put a zipper in and I haven't done a zipper before. The kids will be home Friday because the school district likes to give them a gift of a four-day weekend. Too bad all the moms and dads then have to use up precious vacation time to stay home. And with the economy all shot, I'm sure there will lots of staycations this President's day weekend. We decided to scratch the trip to Vail:)

I did manage to make dinner at home again and the kids are liking everything lately. In the past, we have eaten out about 2 meals a week. Usually we do pizza one night and then eat one lunch out on the weekend. Like everyone else, we are cutting back and have managed to eat out only once in the past 2 weeks. But, of course that means more work for the home cooks and cleaners. Not only do you have to cook your own food, but you don't get the luxury of coming home to a clean kitchen after having eaten out.
Anyway, I love to cook, so that isn't the problem. The problem is coming up with new and exciting (and somewhat healthy) meals that the kids will eat. Like I said, they are good eaters, but I haven't given them anything too adventurous because their wee little tastebuds aren't fully formed. Tonight we had quiche with a potato crust. It had broccoli and corn and a bit of bacon, just for fun. Last night was fettuccini alfredo with soybeans, before that we did a stew and there have been quite a few nights of spaghetti. I want to do less meat these days, but the kids don't go for fish. I didn't either when I was their age.
I'm not the kind of person who likes to repeat a dish more than once every few weeks, so that is where the problem is. I guess it is my problem, though, because Phil and the kids would eat a handful of things over and over again. But I'm the one in the kitchen and I don't want it to be boring. Any ideas for good meatless dishes out there? If so, send them my way!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Long day and haters

I'm grabbing a few minutes while Phil puts the kids down. He got home rather late, so we both had long days. He just finished a joke with the kids. Each person says the next number before the noun "the sandbox". He starts, "I one the sandbox" Luc.. I two the sandbox, amanda, I three the sandbox and on until Luc got to I eight the sandbox. The room filled with laughter. Not just a giggle, which is what escaped me as I listened, but eyes watering laughter. Oh kids, sometimes they are so simple.

I was digging into work when I got a call at 9:30 this morning. It was Luc's school. Apparently he got into an altercation with a doorknob (although it's more of a handle than a knob) and had a cut and swollen eye. The poor lad couldn't keep his eye open too well, so I decided I had to take the day off and take him home. It's been raining here for days and I must admit that I was happy to see the two kids off to school this morning, not just so I could get work done, but also so they could be stimulated and I could get some peace. Instead, Luc and I spent money we don't have at the bookstore -- it was fun. We then ate lunch, picked up Amanda, came home and played (well, they fought a lot), made brownies, ate brownies, delivered brownies to some neighbors and a cousin, came home and watched spongebob (they watched, I made dinner), and then read books until Phil came home about 7. Doesn't sound too taxing, does it. It wouldn't be if they little rugrats could keep from fighting. I guess it is a blessing in disguise. On days where the planets align correctly and they get along fabulously, I totally enjoy it more than I think I would if it were an everyday occurance. I just have to keep telling myself that.

On to the hate -- my hate and other people's hate.
We drove over to my brother's house today to drop off some brownies and pick up my camera charger, which I had left there on Superbowl Sunday. Whilst we were there, my bro's neighbor dropped by. Now, this guy is a nice enough fellow. He's very helpful in the neighborhood and even came by my place one day to fix a broken fence that had confounded Phil and I. However, he and I are completely opposite when it comes to politics. The thing about him, though, is that he is quite insulting to anyone who doesn't think the same way he does. Today he was talking about Obama's town hall meeting. Now, I didn't see it, so I couldn't comment, but he starts talking about how Obama held the meeting in a place where the people are all lazy good for nothings who should die. I asked him what he meant, and he said that they were union workers and all union workers would be better off dead, or something like that. Then he went on to say that anyone who believes in unions is stupid and also better off dead.
I didn't have time to debate him, because I was headed out the door, but I was aghast.
OK, if you don't think unions are good, that is fine. I'm not sure exactly how I feel, I guess it depends on the day and the situation. But to call people lazy because they belong to a union is just crazy. I'm sure most of those people are as hardworking as anyone and maybe even more.
But all this isn't what got me. It was him wishing these people dead. I have a big problem with people who wish others dead for no good reason. I don't know why, but it sits really bad with me, even if it is in jest. I just don't like it. My husband is totally guilty of this and he knows it pisses me off, which is probably why he does it. We'll see an add for an Adam Sandler movie and he'll say something like, "I wish that guy was dead." Or something about Oprah, and he'll say, she just needs to die. Now, why? If I don't like someone, I don't wish them ill, and certainly not dead. Is this a common thing? Am I in the minority by not wishing everyone who I don't like -- and mostly people I don't even know -- dead?
The problem I think is that our world is already filled with hate, I don't want to speak hatefully even in jest. I want us to be better than that.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


I've been reworking some things in my book. I'm up to 3200 words tonight and only half of it is shit, so that is really, really good. I either write 4000 words of crap or 200 words of the good stuff. so, 1600 words of stuff that may stay in the book is a banner night!!!

Tonight was science night at Lucas' school. It was pretty cool. They had this group come in and they had all these awesome experiments set up for the kids to get involved in. It was a totally hands on (and free) experience. Both of the kids loved it. Lucas was so into making molecules -- they had this cool book that had pictures of the molecules and then tools to make them -- and one of the science dudes (I didn't ask if he was a scientist, but he was wearing a lab coat, glasses and seemed very nerdy) was marveling at Lucas' level of concentration and success at copying the molecules pictured. They kids also played with some funky solid/liquid substance. I can't describe this stuff, but it was freakin' cool. I want to learn how to make it.
There were all kinds of experiments with air, motion, senses, chemistry. Some of it was a bit beyond Amanda, but Lucas was definitely interested. I'm thinking his switch to the science and technology magnet next year will be a good thing.

Monday, February 02, 2009

President Obama...

Dear President Obama,

If you tell Tom Daschle that he is out and you'll have to choose someone else as Health Secretary, I'll be behind you 100%.
But, if you continue to support him, it will plant the seeds of doubt in my head.

I support you and I'm happy you are our president, but this cannot stand. You speak of the crooks on wall street and you speak of the American people needing to buckle down and do the work that needs to be done to save our economy but yet, you support people who break the law. That doesn't pass muster with me.

Okay, so he paid the money back... good thing for him he had it. What if he didn't? Would he be in jail like any other American who made a "mistake" and didn't pay enough taxes?
If you want a clean start and you want to win the trust of Americans, you cannot stand behind Tom Daschle. Maybe it was an honest mistake. We all make mistakes, but we must pay for them. You can't start of this way. Please don't. You are making my heart heavy. You've already had one dude put in place who didn't pay his taxes. The stimulus package put forth by your party doesn't have nearly enough in there for creating jobs quickly for the American public. You voted for TARP, which hasn't done much. Please, give me a reason to keep on believing in you.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lemonade stands and ToysRUs

I know it's January, but we live in So. Cal and the kids decided to have a lemonade stand today.
It was awesome. It was their first time running their own business, so we had to teach them a few things, but Luc caught on pretty quickly.
I have fond memories of having lemonade stands out in front of my house in West LA. My friends and I would pick lemons from the tree in my backyard, add too much sugar and happily taste the concoction and add ingredients until it was just right. Then we would set up shop right outside my front door. We always had plenty of takers... the event must have gone well the first time, because I did it more times than I can count on my two hands.

Today's event was a success. We had two neighbor girls join our kids to help out. A few minutes after they had purchased drinks and cookies (yes, I made cookies and lemonade) they headed back to the stand with their own sign. They wanted to join in on the fun. I think that having a gaggle of kids helped with our sales. People couldn't pass up three adorable girls and one crazy boy. After about 90 minutes, the kids walked with a total of $16. For the record, we charged 25 cents for lemonade and 25 cents for two cookies. The kids got a lot of tips.

After we split up the profits, the kids wanted to spend their money immediately. We were already going to head to Toys R Us to procure a present for cousin Ben's birthday party (tomorrow), so we told them they could each put $10 in their wallets and pick out a toy. Man... I freakin' hate Toys R Us. Not because of the funky smell or all the rotten kids in there. I hate it because it is filled to the ceiling with crap. CRAP! If I never go there again it will be too soon. There are zero quality toys contained within the walls of this store. My kids picked up two toys and we couldn't decide on something for cousin. Everything is such a piece of junk. And I shop as a parent. I know what shit I would hate for my kid to get. I know what will be played with once and then cast aside into the toy chest, never to see the light of day again. So, we decided on some small trinket and a gift card. Let my sis-in-law decide what piece of junk she wants to let into her house.

Please, please let me remember this experience. Let me plan better for the next birthday party and give myself at least 10 days to look online for a quality (perhaps even made in the USA) toy for the birthday kid. I never want to go to Toys R Us again.

Friday, January 30, 2009

More HR-1... who wrote this shite?

I'm curious... who actually writes these proposed bills? I never really thought about it until now. But I'm sure the congresspeople themselves don't sit down and write out all the details. So, who does? Shouldn't we know? We do pay these people in a round-about way. I'm into a bunch of legal jargon of the bill that I don't understand, and that's why I'm bringing this up.

Okay... let's get to the money, baby! This is a summary only and doesn't contain all of the spending. I have a job and two children. My job isn't in the U.S. congress... if it were, then I would have every last detail for you fleshed out here....

Department of Agriculture:
For an additional amount for ‘‘Agriculture Buildings
and Facilities and Rental Payments’’, $44,000,000, for
necessary construction, repair, and improvement activities:
For an additional amount for ‘‘Buildings and Facilities’’, $209,000,000, for work on deferred maintenance at Agricultural Research Service facilities.
For an additional amount for ‘‘Salaries and Expenses,’’ $245,000,000, for the purpose of maintaining and modernizing the information technology system. For an additional amount for ‘‘Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations’’, $350,000,000, of which $175,000,000 is for necessary expenses to purchase and restore floodplain easement
For an additional amount for ‘‘Watershed Rehabilitation Program’’, $50,000,000, for necessary expenses to carry out rehabilitation of structural measures.

$5.8 billion for consolidated farm and rural development act.

$22,129,000,000 for loans to section 502 borrowers, of which $4,018,000,000 shall be for direct loans,and of which $18,111,000,000 shall be for unsubsidized guaranteed loans.

For an additional amount for the cost of broadband loans and loan guarantees, as authorized by the RuralElectrification Act of 1936 (7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.) and for grants, $2,825,000,000

OK... I'm going to stop quoting here and add my own shit.
$1Billion dollars to the U.S. Census bureau. Wouldn't we do fine without a Censuse bureau?
Why do we need to spend a billion dollars here?

$35 Million for National Telecommunications and Information Administration. More administration... come on! This is to identify and track availability and adoption of broadband services within each state. Are you kidding me? Who comes up with this?

$2.825 Billion (yes, billion) for broadband deployment grants. Didn't we do just fine before broadband? Yes, my job depends upon it, but my in-laws and my mother... not so much.
Oh.. this includes some junk about the conversion analog. I don't need cable and neither do you. In fact, I'm calling my cable company on Monday to cancel.

$3 billion for state and local law enforcement assistance. Love law enforcement (hi Dad!) so I'm not going to say anything here.. have some thoughts but can't state them for fear of retribution from family:) Oh... here we go, another $1Billion for community oriented policing services. What the heck does that mean?


Holy crap... I'm only 55 pages in. How much more can there be. I'm guessing a lot of waste in education -- no, I'm not saying education is a waste of time, just that education bureaucracies now how to waste money.

There seems to be about $1.5 billion spent on defense. $2 billion spent on the Army Corp of Engineers. $500Million spent for water reclamation and water related resources. $18.5 billion for Energy programs. $500million for Defense Environmental cleanup.
Federal building fund, $7.7 billion (yeah, you read that right).

Oh, and isn't this nice of them... a whopping $426million for small business loans. How sweet that they thought of the little guy. Oh... there are a bunch of pages of legalese regarding such loans... so beware. Almost 20 pages, whereas, most of the other government programs had 1 or 2 pages. So watch out little guy.

$500Million for aviation security. I hate to fly anyway, so let's cut that out:)

Wow, how generous... $200Million for emergency food and shelter.

Road and bridge repair gets a whopping $325 million in the bill. I would have thought this was one of the priorities, but I guess the congress things otherwise. I was thinking Roosevelt with the stimulus, but the government had other ideas.

Shit... wildlife services gets almost as much as the road and bridge repair -- $300million! Well... that seems wise.

Oh... let's not forget the national mall. Gotta spend at least $200 million here.

And then we need another $200 million for Geological surveys.
And then there is the $8.4 billion tribal assistance. Don't we have casinos on almost every block now?

Wildland fire management $850 million. I'm cool with that.

$550 Million for Indinal health services.

Yes, we must have $50 million for the national endowment of the arts. Because, right now, I am really needing the arts to sustain me. Really. Oh... I still have to pay $12 admission and $4 for a soda????

$4Billion for the dept. of labor.

$2.18 billion for Health and Human Services

I'm 156 pages in and I'm done for tonight. Please, comment! I'll post more details tomorrow. I'm not an economist and trying not to judge. I just want to hold everyone accountable. I was happy to see Obama elected but worried that he would have a congress of the same party so there wouldn't be many checks. I'm afraid that there is too much of a disconnect between Washington and the folks in middle America. I'm afraid there is going to be too much waste, so that is why I'm trying to read this stuff.

Stimulus, schitimulus

OK... I'm all for economic stimulus right now. My husband's job isn't entirely dependent on this, given that he is in the healthcare industry. But some folks do decide to forgo physical therapy, especially if they are out of work. In addition, the government has already proven itself to be ineffective in running a healthcare system, aka, medicare. My husband is so far behind on receiving payments from them it is disgusting.
My job is more tied to the economy, in that many businesses may decide that they don't need premium Web hosting at this time and some of our big contracts may decide to put big projects on hold. Right now my job is OK, but who knows what could come in the next year or so.

I'm currently reading an entertaining piece titled "HR-1 Stimulus Package". It is quite a long read and I haven't finished it yet, but what I have read doesn't excite me. What this piece tells me, is that the government in power, much to my chagrin, has no interest in helping out Joe the Plumber any time soon. They are cozy in their warm houses, with their private schools and Whole Foods entrees. They don't seem to see the need to move quickly. Well, maybe they do, but quickly for them means 3 or 4 years. Too late for many Americans, but fine for them, since many of them were just voted into office.
I'm still smarting from the news yesterday about the bonuses some wall street bankers received well after TARP passed. Yes, the bonuses that President Obama was going on about yesterday were handed out after TARP passed -- a bill he supported. He may not have been president, but he certainly was a Senator and helped the passage. Couldn't they have put a clause in there that stipulated what exactly the funds could be used for? Yes, if they had taken the time. But they impressed upon us how urgent the matter was and they were working day and night for us to find a solution to the banking woes. But the solution doesn't seem to have reached the average American. The solution seems to simply have lined the pockets of more of these money-hungry theives.
Now, on to the bill....
Off the bat -- before I even get to numbers -- something strikes me as wrong. The time-frame for this thing. They call it "Use it or Lose It requirements"
Recipients of grants must enter into contracts or commitments not later than a year after the date of enactment of the Act or not later than 9 months after the grant is awarded to make use of half of the funds awarded and shall enter into contracts or commitments no later than 2 years after the date of the Act or not more than 21 months after the grant is awarded to make use of the remaining funds.

This doesn't strike me as urgent. 1 year... 2 years...? So, we won't even begin to stimulate the economy for at least 12 months from when the Act is enacted? And then, those contracts may be entered into, but they may not start for many months after. What are we looking at here? 3 years, 4 years before things even start moving? Sounds about right for government, but doesn't work for my neighbor who was laid off and is facing foreclosure now.

Okay, now we are getting to some meat. up to .5% of each amount appropriated in the act may be used for the expenses of management and oversight of the programs, grants and activities. Wouldn't these agencies already have management in place? Why the waste? Oh, now I see, because they "may be transferred by the head of the Federal department or agency involved to any other appropriate account within the department or agency for that purpose.

Next this Act will create an "accountability and transparency board". How do I get a job on this board? Sounds sweet! They are going to oversee the fund and make sure there is no abuse or fraud or waste. Wait... isn't the board itself a waste? This board will have 7 members. I wonder if the bill will list their salaries... haven't gotten to that yet, I'm only on page 20. Shite!
Cool, the board will be appropriated $14million to carry out its duties, including travel expenses.

OK... taking a break. More in my next post... probably later tonight.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Easy vegan dish the kids liked

I think this is vegan....
The kids liked it and it super easy to put together.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 block extra-firm tofu drained, diced
1/2 cup - 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 can black beans rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
oregano, cumin, salt and pepper -- I don't measure, just throw it in to my liking
cooked rice

Cook your rice according to how much you want and keep that warm.
Heat oil in skillet and add onion and garlic for about 2 minutes. Add tofu and carrots and cook that for about 5 - 7 minutes, stirring. Add beans, tomatoes and spices. Heat on low for about 5-10 minutes, stirring. Serve over rice.
It's got everything in there... no need for side dishes or anything, although my kids always demand fruit with their dinner.

Can I have this every night? Super cheap and easy!

Heading off to the Magic Kingdom this weekend for Amanda's birthday. We are going to surprise them with a stay at the hotel on site. They think we are going to stay with the grandparents -- they are going to freak!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Things you don't want to hear from your daughter at 5 a.m.

"Mommy, I peed my bed."
You roll over and realize she isn't sleeping in her own bed, she's in your bed!

Good morning!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

I'm very lucky

When I was a kid, I had many sleepovers at friends houses. The one thing that all of these sleepovers had in common was that the dad in the house was never around. Not that they weren't living there, but if there was a sleepover, they quietly retreated to some other part of the house and let the mom take over all the duties of feeding the kids, calming everyone down if things got crazy, making sure everyone brushed their teeth and, of course, tucking everyone in.
Now our kids are having sleepovers -- granted, they are with cousins -- and my kids' dad is more involved in the sleepover than I am. He is right there ready to play games with the kids, help them pick out a movie and get them a treat to eat. For some reason, Phil is a kid magnet. They love to attack him -- pummel him with pillows, call him a silly-head, or pretend to chop his head off with a light saber. He is down with all that. Then, he rounds everyone up to brush their teeth. I gave everyone a quick kiss goodnight and now he is in there telling a long story. I can hear all this going on now. He is even asking for their input on how the story should go. Next he'll sing a couple of songs and then tell everyone goodnight.
This is how it always go and all I can think is that I'm so lucky.
There is something special about dads, especially if they are away at work all day. They come home and they aren't tired of the kids. They aren't looking at the clock counting down the minutes until they are "free" for a few hours. Phil often seems refreshed after a long day at work when he comes home to the kids and he can quiz them or help Luc with homework or read a book to them.
It sure wasn't that way when I was a kid and I wonder if it was just my dad or if it was just how things were back in the day.

Anyway, I'm sure we'll have to put the kids back to bed a few times before the night is through, but for now I have a few more minutes to myself as I can hear the story is still going on.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year's resolutions, breakfast and curious things in the yard

Happy New Year!
We're two days into 2009 and it is already simply splendid:) Yesterday we went on our holiday hike up the treacherous Tarantula Hill. The weather was beautiful and I think we only heard one child request to be picked up ... I pretended I couldn't hear her. In the afternoon we headed over to the house of some good friends and had a really nice visit. We got there mid-afternoon and suddenly I looked at my watch and it was 7:30. With 5 kids bouncing around a house, that is a sign that things went really well.
Today we picked up cousin Ben and the three kids played, made crafts and ran around to music. There was only one little tiff between the boys and they quickly worked it out themselves. I managed to make a dinner that everyone liked and even found time to bake two loaves of bread -- they are cooling now (yum!).

Okay... on to new year's resolutions. I only have 3 this year and they aren't too tough.
1. Attempt to learn how to sew. I put attempt here because I am about the least crafty person you will ever meet. I could spend an hour trying to wrap a birthday present and it would still come out looking like a 3 year old did it. Anyway, I'd like to be able to sew some little clothes for Amanda's dolls or little purses for her to play with. My mom has a sewing machine that is collecting dust and she said she'll give me a few lessons. So, next week I'm going to attempt to learn the basics.

2. Grow something edible in my garden. We have a large yard compared to some houses around here. It's no ranch or farm, but the house is small, so there is quite a bit of dirt. Along the same lines of the craft business, all previous attempts at trying to grow things have met with disaster. This year, though, I'm going to plan things out and really give it my best shot. I think that is part of my problem. I'm not a planner. I want immediate results and I try the quickest way to do things. I now know that growing things takes time and work and planning. I'm going to get the right tools, the right ingredients and find out the right locations for the plants I want to grow. I won't know if this resolutions pans out until later in the year, but my planning starts now.

3. Purchase a bike and go on weekly rides with Lucas. Luc and I have a blast when we get a chance to spend one-on-one time. He loves to ride his bike, but it's not as much fun by himself with me walking behind. So, I'm going to save up a bit each paycheck and then find a nice used bike. I'd like to set aside special time for him and I to spend together. Amanda and I already have plenty of that because she is out of school before him and also he is involved in sports sometimes and I get to hang just with her.

That's it. I think these are all doable, but not so lame that they won't take any effort.

On to breakfast... I've got two loaves of bread cooling right now and I can barely keep Amanda away from them. I told her to look forward to breakfast tomorrow when she and I will have some nice toast with butter and jam on the bread. It's been a couple of months since I've baked bread because I've been so busy. I don't have a bread machine, so it does take a bit of time. But Amanda and Phil and I love to have the homemade stuff. Luc does not eat bread, so he won't be invited to breakfast tomorrow:)

There are curious things going on in my yard this winter. The apples on our tree did not come in this year and the few that did, never matured. Then, our tree sat there with leaves all fall. In fact, I was just noticing a couple of days ago how all of the leaves were still on the tree and they were mighty green. I went into the yard this morning and the leaves are all now yellow and suddenly half of them are on the ground. Normally this would have occured more than a month ago. Also, my camilias bloomed again about a month ago. They bloom in the spring (I love them) but that is it. They've never bloomed in the late fall or winter before. Very strange. I just cut back all my roses, even though they were still blooming (I had to do it while I have the time). I'll fertilize them this weekend. I know what you are going to say, "I thought you couldn't grow anything." Well, all of these plants and trees were here when we bought the house. All I have to do is water and ferlitize them. For some reason, if I personally put something into the ground, it decides to die.

Hope your 2009 will be happy and healthy!