Monday, April 25, 2011

Raise your joys and triumphs high...

Sing, ye heavens and earth reply,
-Charles Wesley, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today"

In the spirit of Dr. C's Easter Sunday sermon, here are my lessons learned from Easter 2010:

Dying Easter eggs should always be done AFTER you get portraits done. Little fingers can't stay out of the cups of food coloring. It's like some kind of magnetic thing.

Shaving cream + toothpaste can remove food coloring from skin. Well, most of it anyway. Who knew?

Google does, in fact, know everything. I typed in "remove fo..." and it filled in "ood coloring from skin." Are there cameras in my house?!

When your kid comes in to wake you up on Easter morning then leaves your room, you probably shouldn't just go back to sleep. He's raiding the candy stash. There was certainly no magical "Let's see what the Easter bunny left!" moment. The contents of the basket were already strewn across the living room by the time we rolled out of bed. So much for the adorable, carefully arranged basket (Jay was at least kind enough to raid only his basket, leaving Luke's as he liked the idea of sleeping in too).

My littlest eater can put an entire Cadbury creme egg in his mouth. Foil and all. Try that in your grownup mouth - those things are huge!

Pompom bunny tails on little boys' Easter outfits don't last long. Luke managed to make it to church with them still attached. But I don't think they lasted through Sunday School. (Vote - should I sew them back? It's not like he's going to wear the outfit again.)

My hubby makes the best deviled eggs. Especially when he's using my Appie's recipe. He's a good man because he makes it with relish, even though he claims relish is not officially in the real recipe for deviled eggs. I did let him sprinkle the paprika on top, though. Blending family traditions is good.

FBC Raleigh has some of the most amazing musicians around. The voices, the organ - beautiful, powerful stuff.

Kid explanations of what happened on Easter ("Jesus' friends thought he had died, but he wasn't dead!!") are as simple - and as complicated - as we really need.

My kids are adorable, even with that slightly purplish-blue around their fingertips--don't worry other heart mommas - that's just the Easter egg dye.

Happy Easter, y'all!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You can't call it cheatin'...

...she reminds me of you
-Gin Blossoms, Cheatin'

You're dying to know, aren't ya? I mean you're dying to know how this giving up facebook for lent thing is working out for me. Well, you can see from the title that perhaps I haven't been as faithful to my plan as I intended. As I should have been.

For a few weeks, I was doing awesome. I didn't check facebook, and it was actually really freeing. I didn't care what I was missing - no, seriously. I guess I didn't care because I didn't know what I was missing. I got the email notifications and deleted them without a second thought.

Then, some of my students wanted to tweak our facebook group, and I was like "Great! Oh wait. Uh oh." I spent an ungodly (pun intended) amount of time trying to remember my password. (I'd oh-so-unwisely changed my password about a week before I signed off. Dumb move of the month.) And this password forgetting incident coincided nicely with my email forwarding account crashing. Double fail. So I eventually got back into my account and sent some messages to my scholars using our snazzy new group. Even sent a facebook invite. But I was JUST doing the work part - I wouldn't even let myself look at my news feed. I decided that although I wasn't following the letter of the law, I was still in the spirit of the law. I was just communicating with my students in a different way. I'd have emailed them the same info, right?!

Then, I got a message from my friend with the subject "busted." (How the heck did she know?!) I had nearly forgotten about a comment I left on a blog that we both read - something like "Yeah, laughed when I saw that on facebook too! LOL." (For the record, I had seen said funny thing while looking over Derek's shoulder - that time wasn't really cheating!) So, in that case, I'd been following the letter of the law - I wasn't logged in and looking at my facebook page, but I really wasn't sticking to my intentions.

And then I heard my friend had a baby and I was like "What? I didn't even know she was expecting!" So I had to log in to see pictures. (Turns out she adopted and it was a very quick process.) But at that point, I'm following neither the letter of the law nor the spirit. Awww, hell. Anybody posted pics of their dog wearing a tiara today?

Jesus was certainly not a letter of the law kind of guy. One of the big lessons for me is that intentions matter. Motives matter. It's not just about what you do (though that's important!) but the spirit in which you do what you do.

The truth is - giving up facebook for Lent was intended solely as a way to refocus my time. To spend fewer hours online and more hours in real conversations with real people and the very real Creator. And the sad fact is that I didn't really do that at all. I added a bunch of new subscriptions to my Google Reader. (Seriously, I read way too many blogs about sick children. It's hard on my heart.) I checked Reader way more than I used to. I wandered around aimlessly online, checking out sites I'd never before felt the urge to peruse.

There are precious few hours between baby bedtime and my bedtime. And yet I choose to spend those hours reading about other people's children. And then, instead of spending fun time with my own children, I have to fold the laundry.

Arrggh. Real life is hard sometimes. Virtual, online life seems so much easier.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jambalaya, GOLDFISH Pie, file' gumbo...

...for tonight I'm a-gonna see my ma cher amio
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar, and be gay-o
Son of a gun we'll have big fun on the bayou
-Hank Williams, "Jambalaya"

My apologies to old Hank, but my son has changed the lyrics of his song. It's not crawfish pie ... it's goldfish pie. What? You never heard of goldfish pie? Well, you've clearly never had dinner prepared by Master Jay Foster. Our conversation went something like this:

(Jambalaya is playing in the background)
Jay: Mom, I want Goldfish Pie for dinner.
Me: I'm not sure I know how to make Goldfish Pie.
Jay: You make a pie and you put in goldfish! (Well, well - hard to argue with that.)
Me: What else should go in it?
Jay: ummmm, maybe some chicken.
Me: (starting to think this might actually work as a chicken pot pie) Chicken would be good. What else?
Jay: ummm, Broccoli! And cucumber!
Me: (starting to rethink this) Umm, how about some carrots? And maybe some peas?
Jay: Don't forget the Goldfish!

An idea was born. And we gave it a shot.

(Chef Jay pointing out that there are actual Goldfish on top!)

In case you have a Goldfish loving preschooler, perhaps you'd like to attempt it yourself. It's certainly kid-friendly preparation - basically a dump & stir recipe. Simple as can be:
  • Refrigerated pie crust (why I ever used frozen pie shells I'll never know - these are MUCH better)
  • Frozen mixed veggies
  • pre-cooked chicken, chopped (we used the leftovers from one of those Costco rotisserie chickens)
  • cream of mushroom soup
  • a glug of milk (precise measurement, n'est pas?)
  • sprinkle of Old Bay (the recipe was inspired by Jambalaya after all!)
  • Goldfish to cover the top (maybe 1/3 to half a bag?)
Mix chicken, veggies, soup, milk & Old Bay, then pour into pie crust. Cover with goldfish. Bake about 30 minutes until heated through. The goldfish started to get a little dark toward the end, so I put a piece of foil very loosely over it. By very loosely, I mean that I kinda tossed a chunk of foil in the general direction of the pie with one hand while trying to keep two fascinated boys out of the hot oven with the other.

I wish I'd gotten better pictures, but clearly my food photography needs some work. I have a lovely shot in which our granite countertops are perfectly in focus, and the pie is an orange-y blur. (Perhaps I should have finally written that post about the kitchen remodel which was completed in December 2009? It certainly shows off the countertops nicely!) And I'm sure the pics would certainly be better if I hadn't been taking them with my video camera. Can I get an APB on my regular camera?!

Anyway, you can see from this one that it was quite a hit around our house. Even for the grownups.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bell bottom blues...

you made me cry
I don't want to lose this feeling
-Derek & The Dominos, "Bell Bottom Blues"

Okay, if you've read my blog before, you realize that disorganization is part of my life. I mean, it's part of most everyone's life to some greater or lesser extent. Let's just say I lean toward the greater extent. In my last post, I 'fessed up to my paper problem. But it pales in comparison to my clothing problem.

I'm certainly no fashionista and don't have an overload of clothes. I do have a few things in my closet that I wore a decade ago in college. (You know, "just in case" I ever fit into them again. Or just in case they ever come back around to be in style again. Hmmm - I'm starting to think my organization problem is actually a "Just In Case" problem in disguise...)

But clothes in my house are EVERYWHERE. Piles on my dresser. Piles on my floor. Piles of yet-to-be-folded laundry on the pool table. Piles ready for my semi-annual trip to the dry cleaner. (and I wonder why it's $50 every time I go?!) A pile to be ironed. Piles of kid clothes to go into the attic for kid #2 to grow into. Piles of hand-me-downs that kid #1 isn't quite big enough for. Piles that are clean and folded but need to be put away. Quite literally, every single room in my house has a pile of clothes that ought to be somewhere other than in a pile.

But I'm trying! I spent a couple hours last weekend cleaning out the two very nice, very LARGE bathroom closets into some sort of order. These closets used to hold our washer and dryer until we built a laundry room, so they have a ton of space I wasn't using very effectively. I had maternity clothes overflowing paper grocery bags in one closet. (Pray tell - why in the world would I have put maternity clothes into that closet?! It's not like I'm going to need them in the foreseeable future. But I digress.) Maternity clothes, welcome to boxes. Let me introduce you to the attic. Next season's kid clothes? Now neatly packed in labeled boxes, ready for 4T winter and 24 mo/2T winter. Yeehaw.

And to help with another attire problem that has plagued our bedroom closet, I got a shoe rack. One that doesn't collapse under the weight of actual shoes! (Important quality in a shoe rack, I might add.) It's got my shoes where they are visible, and I've now worn 3 pairs that I had kinda-sorta forgotten I owned. I'm moving in the right direction.

One of the comments on my last post was from my dear friend Mindy, who does not posses a disorganized cell in her body. She posted a link to Unclutterer, which has instantly become my new favorite site - it's got practical tips on eliminating stuff you don't need, and really using stuff you do. Surfing around the site today, I discovered this. I must share the hilariousness of this with you:

Back on November 3, there was a fun comment thread on Reddit discussing “Where the h*ll do you put clothes you’ve already worn but plan on wearing again??” Many of the commenters agreed that they use:

ks50: the floor.

DJgiantboydetective: my system is even more involved. I’ve got the “worn once but totally good to go” area, and the “kind of questionable but OK if you’re just going to the store” area. the two areas are very clear in my head, but if you looked at them, you’d think my place just got robbed.

VladimirKal: My floordrobe is organised in pretty much the same way. People can never seem to believe that there is actually an organised mess rather than just a mess.

electrostate: FLOORDROBE. You sir are a genius.


I think they've been to my house.

(PS - I was going to include a picture of my newly organized and lovely linen closet with its tubs of carefully labeled next size/next season clothes. Alas, the camera is MIA. I've got a ways to go on this getting organized business, huh?)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pretty paper...

...pretty ribbons of blue
-Roy Orbison, "Pretty Paper"

My name is Jen and I have a paper problem. Like, taking over my house kind of problem.

Actually, it's a two-fold problem. (Get it? Paper? Folding? Oh c'mon. At least chuckle.) First, there's the paperwork/filing/bills/kid artwork/gas station receipts/coupons/magazine problem. It's everywhere. It's unorganized. It means I have an "I can't find it when I need it, but I KNOW IT'S IN THIS STINKIN' HOUSE SOMEWHERE IF I JUST KEEP LOOKING, DAMMIT!" kind of problem. I just finished sorting out all my tax stuff, and I'm sure there are all kinds of deductions I'm not taking because I'm not organized enough to keep up with that stuff. It means I pay bills late because I don't know they exist. It means special kid artwork (i.e. the picture Jay drew of his Baby Brother the day he was born) is mixed in with the receipts from last week's groceries and a dollar off ketchup coupon.

But that's a minor problem. The more major problem is that I just spent 30 minutes sorting out things that need to be shredded from clothes that need to be taken to Goodwill. Yes, you read that right. I have one giant pile of clothes that I can no longer wear, and it's mixed together with important paperwork that has my SSN on it and needs to be shredded. Who does that?!

Then, I have another paper problem. I am a paper crafter turned paper hoarder. My pseudo-sister Amy came over last night for fun craftiness, and our goal was to use up some of the paper scraps that we have collected over the years. For some reason, I feel like if I have a scrap of paper leftover from a card that's at least 2 inches square, I should save it. You know. JUST IN CASE. Just in case I have a sudden need for a 2 inch square of blue striped paper. Cause I'm certainly more likely to search through a giant pile of postage stamp size scraps to find it than to use the perfectly good 12x12 sheet of the same blue striped paper. Seriously?! Who does that?!

Arggghh! Somebody help me!