Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Yes, Grandma is short

We just returned from vacation and visiting Husband's parents.  While there, Mother-in-Law presented me with a tunic shirt that was very similar to the ones she had been wearing all summer.  Very similar.  Did I say similar?  I meant the same but in a different color.  I didn't mind since her shirts really did look extra comfy in the mid-summer heat.  She explained to me that she had never worn this one, since the size was mislabeled and wouldn't fit her.  Seeing how it was a size too big, and I was both taller and *cough* more rounded, she gave it to me.

And, you guys, it is sooo very comfy.

I wore it yesterday.  As I sat on the couch with Little Viking, he noted that my shirt looks like one of Grandma's.  I told him it was too big for Grandma, so she gave it to me.

 "But couldn't she have just waited until she was older?" he asked.

I wasn't sure what to make of the question.  Then I realized that when the kids receive clothes that are too big, we put them away until the kids are older.

I laughed and said, "No, honey, Grandma is done growing."

You could practically see his wheels spinning.  Grandma is, after all, one of the shortest members of the family.

He finally raised his eyebrows, looked me in the eye and said, "She's not going to grow anymore?  What, really?"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Skittles the Ninja Grasshopper

I will mess you up
I was walking Philosopher Child home from school a few weeks ago and we decided to take the scenic
route through the walking trail that leads almost directly to our street.  Philosopher Child noticed a baby Eastern Lubber grasshopper.  He had kept and cared for a few Eastern Lubber grasshoppers for several months the year before.  He picked up this new, immature grasshopper, but the body is softer and much smaller than the adult counterpart.  He tried to hold it by the body as gently as he could.  It immediately began squirming and spitting and kicking.  Philosopher Child dropped Skittles-who-was-not-yet-named-Skittles at least three times onto the pavement on the way home.  Seriously, guys and gals, it's amazing the thing lived to arrive at our house.

Once home, Philosopher Child wrangled it in to his bug catcher, gave it some lettuce and water, and left it alone to acclimate.

A few days later, his teacher gave him permission to bring the grasshopper to class during the last few days of school.  His teacher is pretty fabulous that way.  She's all for exploration and discovery.  There may have been Mentos and soda involved in her class recently, but you didn't hear it from me.

Anyway, I casually asked Philosopher Child if he had named the grasshopper.  He said he hadn't.  Little Viking came along and helpfully volunteered that Skittles was a good name for a grasshopper.  And voilĂ .  Philosopher Child agreed that Skittles is, in fact, an excellent name for a grasshopper.

Before Philosopher Child was due to take Skittles on a class visit, I told him to take him out of the bug catcher and hold him while I wiped down his home.  Philosopher Child was afraid he'd injure the little guy and oh-so-helpfully put him on the dining table so he could run around.  *Facepalm*  But it was here that Skittles showed his true colors.

Skittles is no ordinary grasshopper.

Skittles is a ninja grasshopper.

You see, when Philosopher Child tried to put Skittles back in the bug catcher, Skittles reacted rather violently.  Well, violently for a grasshopper.  He spit like he was projecting hydrochloric acid-laced throwing stars.  He totally wasn't, but it seemed like the thought he was.  Then he picked up his back legs and started to kick at everything that came near him ninja style.  I am completely serious.  He looked like a tiny, black and yellow, angry version of Mantis from Kung Fu Panda.  If you gave him some nunchucks or a miniature staff, he may be able to do some serious damage to your finger.

He's not even full grown yet.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Monday, April 22, 2013

English Needs a Word for This: The Rule of K

The Rule of K: noun.  A principle that states if you think something definitely will, definitely won't, or are surprised that something hasn't happened, the opposite will magically become true.  Similar but unrelated to Murphy's Law.

I think we've all been confronted with the idea that saying, or even thinking, that something definitely will or won't happen somehow causes the opposite to be true.  For instance, if I look at the forecast and say, "It's not going to rain for our picnic," you'd better believe a hurricane is going to form right on top of us.

Of course, logically we know this line of thinking is silly and our words and thoughts do nothing.  But we still keep from saying or thinking it.  Husband has a very specific look he gives me when I break the Rule of K.  It's usually followed by him saying, "Shut up."  As in, "It won't rain if you take your MG out for a drive."  "Shut up."  He's a big believer in the Rule of K, even if it didn't have a name until now.

About a week and a half ago, Philosopher Child's best friend came down with a nasty virus.  He missed several days of school before returning.  When he went back to school, he and Philosopher Child were practically attached at the hip as usual.  The night after his return to school, he relapsed and spiked another fever, causing him to miss more school.

This led to stupid universe-altering thought number one: My own child has not been sick in a while.

A week passed, and Philosopher Child showed no signs of illness.  A this point I figured he wouldn't, by some miracle, be coming down with the illness himself (stupid universe-altering thought number 2).  Then came the night where previously mentioned, previously ill Best Friend was spending the night to celebrate Philosopher Child's 9th birthday.  His parents came by to drop him off and to look at our garden.  They were considering starting a similar one.  Best Friend's mother and I chatted for a little bit, and then we both -- both of us, equally guilty -- said the universe-altering stupid thing of universe-altering stupid things.

"Isn't it amazing that Philosopher Child never got sick with this?"

Facepalm.  Head desk.  Eight shades of idiot.

Anyway, the sleepover got underway.  There was a fabulous dinner and an ice cream pie from Bruster's.  There were Legos and TV and snacks.  It was great.  At 10pm, I told the kids to go to bed.  At 11pm they finally went to sleep.  Just before 6am, everyone was up again, ready for breakfast.

About an hour after getting up, Philosopher Child came to me and said he had a sore throat and headache.  I didn't think too much of it.  Our weather has been crazy and it's not unusual for us to get headaches and sore throats as a result.  I advised Philosopher Child to drink a glass of water and lay down for a few minutes.  Within two minutes he started crying that his head suddenly hurt a lot.  I took his temperature.  Yep, fever.  I sent him to bed and called Best Friend's mom.

"You know how we were talking about how amazing it was that he didn't get what your little boy had?" I said into the phone.  She started laughing.  She knew exactly what I meant and was at our house a few minutes later.

Up until that moment, the sleepover had been very successful.  No major fights, only had to break up roughhousing twice (pillow fights + 2 kids with glasses = no), everyone played nicely (for the most part).  Our little guest was even happy to eat our whole food dinner: roasted chicken, green beans, and red potato wedges.

And of course, we proved the Rule of K.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Disclaimer: Not a health expert.  Just talking about our experiences.

Nevereverse: noun.  An act, thought, object, or activity that you swore you would never attempt, own, or have but end up doing anyway.

Low carb diet.  The words alone made Husband and I burst out into a fit of giggles.  *Snicker Snicker Snort*  What a bunch of nonsense.  Screw carbs.  It's all about calories.  And whole grains.  And exercise.  In fact, when one of our friends went very, very low carb (read: tried to cut out all carbs), he lost a ton of weight, but was extremely miserable.

Well, of course he was, we thought.  Low carb is such a silly idea.  Everything in moderation and such.

Recently, another male friend of ours decided to try the low carb diet, but with a better idea of what he was doing.  He limited carbs, not cut them out.  Husband couldn't help but notice the weight dropping off of his friend, no misery involved.

"So-and-so had this for lunch.  It has this amount of carbs," Husband would occasionally say.

"Why do you care?" I asked.  "You are using the word 'carbs' a lot recently.  *Gasp!*  Have they...gotten to you?"

"N-no..." he would respond.  "It's just another form of calorie counting, after all.  Isn't it?"

Our resolve was starting to shake.  He started to talk about his low-carb friends' diets more, to the point where he was announcing to me what he had for lunch, and how many carbs was in it.

"Are...are we thinking of going low carb?" I finally asked him last night.

"I think we might," he replied.  We talked about how what we were doing clearly wasn't working.  We both limited calories and ate healthy, whole foods.  I work out.  He only eats two meals a day.  Neither of us tend to over eat.  And yet, we are both overweight for our height and genders.  In fact, despite doing the right things and only falling off the wagon occasionally, I slowly gained 10 pounds.

You may think, big deal!  So, 10 pounds.  It's just 10 pounds.

I have to be very honest with myself here.  That 10 pounds is not just 10 pounds.  I am 5'6" and weigh 168 pounds.  It's not healthy.  With heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, and possibly diabetes all running in my family, I need to take my health seriously, and I need to do it now.  What we were doing would probably work for some people, or a lot of people, but it wasn't quite working for us.

So.  *Deep breath.*  We are giving low carb (not no carb) a shot.  We are currently aiming for under 100 carbs a day, but over 50.  More research is needed on our part, but that's where we are aiming for right now.  We did a full day of low carb yesterday.  I came in at 86g.  Not bad.  Husband came in at 197g.  He asked me to double check the math, but it is correct.  He got a pretty big shock when he realized 100g of carbs a day comes just from his sweetened ice tea.  The kicker is it's not even that sweet.  Half a cup of sugar per pitcher, and he goes through an entire pitcher per day.  He asked me do drastically reduce the sugar and is now adding some lime juice to it instead.

So, let's see what happens.  And of course we have to be all scientific about it.  I took our measurements and our weights, and are writing down what we eat for each meal and snacks.  Maybe it will work out.  Maybe it won't.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Cabinetalanche: noun.  The avalanche that happens because your kitchen cabinets are such a mess, whenever you try to take anything out, lots of things fall out.

I suck at cabinet organizing.  I'm usually so bored and exhausted by the time I'm doing the dishes, I just shove things in without much of a care about where it goes.  Well, except glass.  I'm careful with that.  Most people would call this laziness mixed with perfectionism ("I'm not going to put this away properly because...look at this mess!  What's the point?  It will take me forever to fix it!"), and the result is this:
Oh, the horror!  Oh, the shame!

Today, I sat down on a big fluffy towel in front of my pots cabinet and cleaned it.  I'm going to tell you how I did it.  If you are struggling with the same thing, maybe it will help.

1.) Check your space.  Do you have an underutilized cabinet?  I realized I had this one little one next to the stove that I never used.  I opened it and you know what?  It was full of phone books.  I kid you not. books.  Anyway, I cleaned out all the phone books and decided to use it for the smaller/thinner items that I rarely, but not never use.  If you have such an underutilized space, go clean it out and prep it.
See this dusty cabinet?  I totally forgot it even existed.
2.) Start removing things from the cabinet.  You don't have to do the WHOLE cabinet if it is on the large side.  A section or shelf at a time is fine.  As you pull things out, put them into piles 3 piles: things you use often, things you rarely (but not never) use, and things you will never use again/broken items/trash.

3.) Wipe down and dry shelves.  I used some of my infused vinegar cleaner.

4.) Throw out any trash and broken items.  This includes small appliances that you are never going to fix!  I found a broken coffee grinder, part of a food processor that broke years ago, the carafe to a coffee maker that I haven't owned in years...  Shut up!  Don't judge me!  Anyway, for items that are still good but you never use, you can donate them if you wish.  Everything else gets tossed.

5.) Place seldom used items in the underutilized space, if you have one.  If you don't, skip this step.

6.) Carefully stack and organize your often used items, and place them in the cabinet.  You want these close together so everything is right where you need it, without being so crammed that you can't remove just one thing.

7.) Now you have to figure out what you will do with the seldom used items, if you don't have an extra cabinet.  Hopefully you now have enough room in your newly-organized cabinet that you can put them off to the side.  I actually did this with some seldom used items that didn't fit in the former phone book cabinet.

And now, the reveal!
Ta-Da! looks like it might be time to finally change the contact paper that was probably put in 3 owners ago.
The hardest part is to keep it this way.  I'll admit that I usually clean out these cabinets around every 6 months to a year, but that is clearly not enough, especially since I found a ton of broken things in there.  I think I need to reorganize about every 2 weeks.  The very next time I was doing the dishes, I caught myself just shoving a pan in there and had to stop, backtrack, and do it properly.  I fully admit that this sort of thing does not come naturally to me.

As a final note, Husband, who does most of the cooking (I do the baking), came home, opened the cabinet, and said, "WOW!"  Warm fuzzies.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Upon Joining Twitter

I finally joined Twitter.  I did it after a fellow blogger that I read and respect made the very definite statement that to be a decent blogger, you must have Twitter.  I baulked at the advice.  I didn't want Twitter.  I wanted nothing to do with Twitter.  Twitter, in my mind, was this frivolous thing that only the famous and well-connected could possibly use.  I had a thousand reasons why I shouldn't.  She must have seen people like me coming and said flat out that our reasons why Twitter doesn't matter are wrong and just excuses.  I still didn't want to believe her.

But numbers don't lie.

I see tons of bloggers that are no better writers nor any more interesting than I am having thousands of followers.  So, I decided, I would give it a shot.  You know what the scary thing is?  I kind of enjoy it.  So, here I am, on Twitter.  You can find me here:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Herb Infused Vinegar All-Purpose Spray

My grandmother was alpha-wife.  Every single area of her home was amazingly tidy.  I'm talking 1950's TV show spotless.  Not only that, it seemed effortless!  Compared to her, I fail at cleaning.  I remember her using, and teaching us to use, heavy duty cleaners.  When I unexpectedly (seriously, completely unexpected) became a housewife and started caring for our own home, I used the same kind of cleaners.  You know the kind I mean.  Sprays that give off air-gasping fumes, harsh powders that you shake from a can, liquids that promise to get your home clean but are covered with warnings about calling Poison Control if you get them on your skin.  In the beginning, these were what I used because I didn't know there was anything else.  They had been part of my life since childhood, and honestly, it never even occurred to me that these cleaners were even dangerous.

It all began around the time we received our beloved Corgi from a rescue.  I read (but fully admit that I don't know if it is true) that dogs like the taste of pine and will lick pine-scented cleaners off the floor and drink it wherever they find it.  Did I mention I don't know if this is actually true?  Anyway, I didn't want to test the theory, and switched to nontoxic vinegar/water solution to clean the floor.

Soon after, I gave birth to Little Viking.  Around that time I started to  realize that vinegar can be used to clean lots of things.  Lots and LOTS of things!  Floors, counters, appliances, toilets!  I realized just how toxic "normal" cleaners are, and loved the idea that if they got into vinegar, it wouldn't hurt them.  After that, I branched out to use vinegar sometimes, and Doctor Bronner's other times, but never together. 

I still loved using vinegar, but the smell, oh, the smell!  Yes, yes, I know.  The smell disappears as the vinegar dries, but in the meantime it is pretty awful.  I know some people don't mind it, but it's just such a strong smell.  Then, I ran across a post by Crunchy Betty that suggested infusing vinegar with dried herbs and essential oil.  I thought, "I wonder if fresh herbs in my garden would have the same affect?"  I decided it was worth a try.  I went to the garden and cut leaves and stems of whatever struck my fancy.  If I remember correctly, I grabbed some thyme, oregano, lemon balm, rosemary, a little bit of lavender leaves, and some peppermint, and made myself some awesome all-purpose cleaner.
The result was amazing.  Whatever I cleaned smelled fresh and herbal, with just a hint of vinegar underneath.  The next time I did it, the result was still good, but completely different, since I very literally just threw in whatever herbs caught my eye and added whatever essential oils I liked at the end.  Currently I have yet another version infusing with tangerine peels and mint.

Here is my version of herbed vinegar all-purpose spray using fresh herbs, with a major hat tip to Crunchy Betty.  To see her original recipe that I based mine off of, head over here.

Herb Infused Vinegar All-Purpose Spray
Vinegar infused with...uh...random herbs 

What you'll need:

Handfulls of fresh herbs  (It helps if you use scents that work together.)
A few cups of vinegar
Large jar or container with a lid
Essential oil of a complimentary scent (optional, but nice)

Snip any long leaves and stems so they are shorter.  I tend to crumple the herbs in my hand a little bit to release some of the oils.  Place in the jar and cover with a cup of vinegar or two.  I'll be honest and say sometimes I use a cup of vinegar.  Sometimes two.  Sometimes I use a cup and a half like Crunchy Betty suggests.  What can I say?  I'm inconsistent.  However, it always works out.

Put the lid on the jar and let it sit for about a week.  Shake it once a day or when you remember.  If you let it sit longer than that, don't worry.  It will just have more of an herb smell and the color will be darker.

When you feel it is infused enough. strain out the herbs and add the vinegar to a spray bottle.  Add another cup or so of vinegar (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.  I'm inconsistent).  Add some complimentary essential oil of your choice.  Go use it.