"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

It's Baaaccckkkkk...

>> Monday, April 30, 2007

Let me first say : Guys, this is NOT a post for you. You do not want to read this. I promise. Having said that, if you are male and read any further I don't want any whining in the comments. I warned you.

It first disappeared in February 2004. Much joy and celebration ensued. It's return in October 2005 was also celebrated. It then failed to show up for it's scheduled visit in February 2006. And it's departure was once again celebrated. And hasn't been seen again... Until now.

Yes, my period has returned. Aunt Flo is in the house. The monthly flux is upon me. (That last one baffled Doug when I said it.) Celebration is not forthcoming.

I was kinda hoping it would hold off until after summer. Not for any particular reason, really, but just because I had gotten so used to not worrying about it. Tampons didn't compete with baby toys for room in my bag. I didn't have to buy tampons and diapers; seriously, expensive items to throw away. Convenient, but expensive. It was nice.

sigh

I had three years without it. It was nice. Now I'm off to buy tampons.

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Fab Food Friday

>> Friday, April 27, 2007

Doug and I may be the only people in the country who didn't receive a fondue pot whe we got married... And would actually use it! Melted cheese- good. Melted chocolate- even better.

I made fondue for dinner the other night but the picture wasn't nearly as pretty as this one is. So, this week I give you:
Fresh Herb Fondue


1 clove garlic
2/3 c dry white wine
1 lb Gruyere cheese, grated
3 t cornstarch
1 T chopped parsley*
1 T chopped chives*
1 T chopped oregano*
salt & pepper

Rub inside of fondue pot with cut clove of garlic; discard garlic. Pour in the wine and heat gently then add the cheese. Stir continuously, until melted. Blend the cornstarch with a little water and add to the fondue with the herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat until thickened, stirring well.

Serve with cubes of French bread, salami, summer sausage...

* Fresh herbs are obviously best but dried will work if you can't find fresh.

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Blech!

>> Thursday, April 26, 2007

Apparently Hazelnut Creme is not the Cuisinart's favorite flavor.


But seriously, what a freakin' mess. I'm still not sure what happened as the machine won't grind unless it is all closed. But there were NO GROUNDS in the filter. And let's not even discuss what the drawer below was like.

I'm hoping "user error" was the cause of this mess- though I'm not entirely sure it wasn't a ghostly joke- because the darn machine is out of warranty and too expensive to replace until Father's Day.

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Amen!

>> Wednesday, April 25, 2007

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Help Wanted

Must be able to build ark and count animals.

Those trees are *usually* about 5 feet from the edge of the brook.

When the landscaper was here the other day the water was calm and clear. You could easily see the bottom- there was maybe 10-12 inches of water lazily flowing downstream.

It's not so lazy now...

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Fab Food Friday: Jarod's Birthday

>> Friday, April 20, 2007

I really enjoy cooking and baking. I'm not so fancy and fabulous as some (yes, Meritt, I'm talking about you) but I do turn out some pretty yummy stuff.

In my family we celebrate birthdays with a gathering that includes cake. And, quite often, I volunteer to make the cake. So it was with the celebration of Jarod's birthday last week. When I asked what kind of cake Jarod would want I was told "white cake with strawberry frosting". OK- So... Jell-O Poke Cake:



For all those who like an easy, out of the box, recipe, this is for you:

1 box cake mix (white or yellow is best)
1- 6 oz box (or 2 - 3 oz boxes) of Jell-O
Frosting of your choice

Prepare cake mix as instructed on box. Cool completely. (If using round pans remove cake from pans, cool then replace cakes in pans)

Mix Jell-O with 2 cups boiling water until completely dissolved.

Poke cake with fork at 1 1/2 inch intervals. Slowly pour Jell-O onto cake and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Frost. Remember to keep cake in fridge until time to eat!

If removing cake from pans to frost: fill kitchen sink with 1/2 inch warm water and place pans in water to loosen Jell-O. Invert pan onto plate. Frost top of first cake before placing the second cake on top. Frost.

But that, dear friends, is not the end of this particular FFF.

Now, a while back I made a card for my dad with my Wishblade. In the comments Jarod had this to say: You know my birthday is coming up, do you think you can make a card with a pop-up cake and a pop-up girl to jump out of it?

So, I tried. I really did. I tried two dimensional; I tried three dimensional. I just couldn't get that darn girl to pop.

Then I remembered that I still had the doll body from Brenna's first birthday cake.



If I had been thinking forward I would have made a tiered cake...

The look on Jarod's face was priceless.

And for those wondering... Yes, that is his birthday gift in the VS bag. No, I'm not telling you what he got. :)

***But I will! That's right! I've hijacked the post! AH Hahahahahaha!

The VS bag matched the cake and was probably meant to indicate something racy or a little naughty (since everyone including Mom was there and embarrassment runs high in the entertainment factor).

Since I have a garage full of tools and cars and junk and a house full of clothes and furniture I didn't want anything that would take up space and I didn't want any gift cards. Too many gift cards on a birthday is like getting socks when you're three.

Anyway, I had mentioned a commercial on TV once about a Nintendo DS portable game system and the game BrainAge. It takes up no room, and I could not be more thrilled with it.

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Good Read of the Day

>> Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

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Ring Around Caelan

>> Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Just proves that you can make your own fun.



Brenna's giggles and Caelan's screeches of joy; this is why I choose to be "just a mommy".

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I Scream You Scream

Brenna wanted ice cream. First cone of the season. So yummy... And messy!And, yes, Brenna was a wonky eye. When she woke up her right eye was swollen and wouldn't open fully. I was able to get in to see her doctor who ruled out pink eye (thank God!) but couldn't find any reason for the swelling. There was no indication of problems with the eye itself. He recommended Benadryl. No change by 2:30 so I called back (as per request) and we picked up a prescription last night for an antibiotic, just in case she has an infection of the upper eyelid.

She is looking better this morning. No idea what caused the swelling. Guess we'll just keep her on the drugs until they run out. Luckily they can flavor the nastiness out (mostly).

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Thanks, Al, I Think I Got It

>> Monday, April 16, 2007

OK, has anyone else noticed this?

The Reverend Al Sharpton is everywhere talking about the Don Imus "controversy"**. Seriously, he's been on Oprah, Glenn Beck, the Today Show, FOX News, CNN... Where hasn't he been? And I'm pretty sure that everyone on the planet knows that Imus said "nappy headed hos" by now (to be referred to as "nhh" as I really don't want those words on this page more than necessary).

In one interview the Rev Al said "nhh" 6 times. Six times. In one 5 minute interview. Why? I would think that once would be plenty. But to go on and on with the words. I almost think he likes saying it.

** For the record, I think Imus is a pretty offensive guy; haven't ever enjoyed his brand of "entertainment". But I think picking him out when every other rap lyric is just as offensive to women is absurd. Imus is "entertainment" as rap is "entertainment". Neither is entertaining to me but there must be a market for both. And if CBS and MSNBC are so worried they really need to look into their holdings. I believe both have record labels that feature rap "artists".

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Lincoln Dinner- Meet The Candidates

First I want to post this disclaimer - what you are about to read are my thoughts on the candidates. Don't threaten to take away my internet if you don't like it.

First to speak was Rudy Giuliani. He is fiscally conservative and has a great record as mayor for decreasing crime in New York. The man may put an R after his name but his personal life has too many skeletons for all but the most moderate conservative voter. He didn't mention the abortion issue, which seemed to be a major point with most of the candidates, but I believe he is pro-choice.

I like Rudy and respect, very much, what he did in New York and how he handled the 9/11 attacks on his city. But I really view him as the "rock star" of the Republican party- he'll bring in an audience.

Next was Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. I actually heard Mitt speak at the Reagan Dinner in 2004 and was very impressed with him then. And I really like his stance on education. I think he's a strong candidate who appeals to a lot of people.

Many people are bringing up his "used to be pro-choice but is now pro-life" stance. I actually heard him explain this recently. In the 60's a close family friend of his died during an illegal abortion. At that time, for that reason, he became pro-choice. Recently he was at Harvard University discussing stem cell research. He was told about the the cells being brought together to form an embryo, allowed to grow, the stem cells removed and then the embryo was "discarded". Hearing it put so emotionlessly, so frankly, and the fact that life had begun and the cells were growing and forming and then so easily destroyed made him re-evaluate his position. I respect his answer and believe it's the truth. I know many people, myself included, who have had a change of ideas on this issue.

Unfortunately he supported and signed that state-wide health care thing in Massachusetts. I don't support a socialized health care system. That is really my only issue with Mitt.

Funny note: there were protestors outside the convention complex. A fuzzy bunny and a dolphin. They were both protesting Mitt Romney. I couldn't make out the bunny's sign but the dolphin said something about "flip flopping".

Congressman Duncan Hunter was supposed to speak next. He was unable to make it. His commercial flight was cancelled and the private jet that was arranged for him had engine trouble and was not able to fly. I don't know much about him other than what is on his website. He's a Republican from California.

John Cox was next. A businessman from Chicago, he was actually the first Republican to officially enter the 2008 race. You don't hear much about him because he A) isn't in office now and B) has no real chance of winning. Which is too bad. I've had the opportunity to meet John a few times and I really think a common sense business-like approach is what we need in Washington. And I really hope that whoever does win the nomination puts this guy somewhere in their cabinet.

John is really pushing for "we the people" to take back our government and demand principles, fiscal discipline and more effective government. Those are some ideas I can support.


The final speaker before dinner was Governor Mike Huckabee from Arkansas. He's very conservative but Doug really felt that he was an advocate of socialized health care. He is a big believer in the Bush tax cuts becoming permanent and cut taxes and fees more than 90 times when he was Governor of Arkansas.

I'm all about lower taxes and liked the speech but I don't think Huckabee is the man for the job.

Whew! A short break for dinner. Salad, new veggies, potatoes and turkey breast. Not fabulous. Never is.

And now, back to the speeches.

Congressman Tom Tancredo from Colorado was next. Another candidate I have heard before and had a chance to meet. He is strong on illegal immigration; has built his platform on it. And while I agree with him I think he is too harsh for a lot of people.

His speech had a great line, though. "...it's tough when your enemies are psychopaths and allies are the French."

Ba-da-boom.
Governor Jim Gilmore from Virginia followed. I've met Governor Gilmore on a few occasions and have found him to be a very firm candidate. Unfortunately he seemed very mean-spirited saying, what has now been played on every news station, "Don't bee fooled by people who come to you lately and say they are conservatives. I can assure you Rudy McRomney is not a conservative, and he knows he's not a conservative." Ouch.

Jim, I had so much respect for you... until that.


Senator Sam Brownback followed. From Kansas he took Bob Dole's seat. This guy is probably the most conservative of the bunch. And someone I had never heard of. And I have to say that I am really impressed. He took a big stance on tax reform, wheeling out a stack of books and binders about 2 1/2 feet tall that make up our tax code.

With a strong focus on family values, good manners and courtesy I really think this guy can be trusted. I know... Trust. Hunh, who would've thunk it. He's very uplifting. Here's a quote, "We need a culture that does not corrode and does not corrupt but one that uplifts and affirms in order to encourage goodness so we might continue our greatness."

Powerful.


And next, Tommy Thompson from Wisconsin. Although I know of Governor Thompson I really didn't give him much thought. After hearing him I really think he is a strong candidate. Citing the education reform he put in place in Wisconsin that lowered drop out rates by 90% and his "Welfare Works" program that became a national model for welfare reform I really thought "this guy gets it". He really believes in giving people a chance, be it through school choice or job training.

And he finished with an Irish prayer. I'm a sucker for an Irish prayer.

And, finally, Senator John McCain. I have immense respect for Senator McCain. I thank him for his sacrifices to our country during the Vietnam War. I hold him in the highest regard.

He was the only speaker to roam the stage and talked to the audience as "friends". He's incredibly likeable. And intelligent. And funny.

And not the guy. I like him, but he's not the guy.

On our way out we were handed a card for another candidate,
Daniel Gilbert. I've not heard of this guy but we were told by his representative that he won't collect a paycheck; he just wants to reform government. I like what he says on his website- especially about Foreign Aid and reform. Lots of common sense; probably no chance of even gaining national recognition. He's truly grassroots and is looking for other people to run for seats in state and local governments to form a conservative government.

So there you have it... My thoughts and feelings. The good, the bad and the unfortunate.

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Lincoln Dinner

>> Sunday, April 15, 2007

Doug & I had great seats at the Lincoln Dinner last night. Third table from the front, center; right in front of the speakers. All 9 of them (one had plane trouble and couldn't make it). Yep, the Republican Presidental candidates were in Iowa last night in full force. I will be back later to share my thoughts, highlights and low-lights. And photos.

And don't be surprised if "The Geek" starts showing up again. The politicos pulled him aside last night. November 2008 seems so far away...

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Fab Food Friday

>> Friday, April 13, 2007

Mmmm... Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins. A favorite in our house- when Brenna allows the bananas to ripen enough. You know you want one...



This is a classic recipe- slightly altered- from the Good Housekeeping Cookbook. Makes 18 regular size muffins, 6 jumbo muffins or 6 mini loaves.

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
1 T baking powder
3/4 t salt
6 T butter
1 c chocolate chips (the original recipe calls for walnuts)
3 small, ripe bananas, cut up
2 eggs
1/3 c milk
1/2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease pan or use muffin cups.

In large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With pastry blender or two knives used scissor fashion, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; stir in chocolate chips, set aside.

In blender at high speed or in food processor with knife blade attachment blend bananas, eggs, milk and vanilla only a few seconds, until bananas are chopped.

Stir banana mixture into flour mixture until flour is moistened. Batter will be lumpy.

Spoon into muffin cups, bake 25-30 minutes until golden and inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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Now I'm Just Pissed

>> Thursday, April 12, 2007

And not good "pissed" like the British.

There are stages of grief and I actually thought I had passed this one sometime last week. But, no, it hit me last night- hard. One week after finding out E had died I was pissed off at her. So pissed that I was in tears.

I'm pissed because she didn't care about those of us who loved her. I'm pissed that she didn't let us help. I'm pissed at the asshole who gave her a needle the first time. I'm pissed that she took it. I'm pissed that I let her go home so easily after trying to help her. I'm pissed that I let her avoid me.

Mostly I'm pissed because the girl that died is not the same girl that I loved. Not even remotely.

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April Showers

>> Wednesday, April 11, 2007

But what about April snows? Seriously, this is the view out my window today. Serious ick.


Housebound today. Gonna make banana bread and do laundry. Maybe give the girls nice warm baths before their naps and wrap them tight in the towels they got for Easter:





Yep, you can say it: my girls are adorable.

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How to get there from here

>> Tuesday, April 10, 2007

via State29,



Retirement rules.

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So wacky it could only happen in real life....

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And So Another Week Begins

>> Monday, April 09, 2007

OK, for most of you it began today but since we had to go to north-east Iowa for Easter Doug took today off. We spent the night in Amana last night and spent today wandering around the colonies and shopping before heading home.

So much to do! We hit the outlet mall on the way home and bought summer clothes. I also got my Mother's Day gift early- a Kitchen Aid mixer. I told Doug he could "demand" a good breakfast on Mother's Day. I have to make a cake this week, as well as some banana bread so it will get use soon!

It was nice to be away, even for a short time, and to relax as a family. I just have one thing to say:

Two room suite.

No more one room hotels. The girls are both noisy sleepers and I'm not sure how much sleep Doug got but I know that I didn't get much. Bedtime will be coming soon.

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Happy Easter

>> Saturday, April 07, 2007

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Poor Lost Soul

>> Wednesday, April 04, 2007

This is not going to be a happy post. If you want light hearted please skip this and move down a few. This is a tragic post, one that I knew in my heart that I would someday write.

A few of you have been around long enough to remember back to early August 2005 (I just re-read the posts from then and my heart is breaking). My friend "E" came to me for help. And we did everything we could. Neither Doug or I was prepared for the situation; neither of us had ever been exposed to anything like it. And we hope never to be again. We did all we could. And, ultimately,I think we failed.

This evening I received a call that "E" had died. She was 24. I don't have any details which makes this so difficult. And I may never have them. My best guess is that she overdosed. My worst nightmare is that she was murdered. Because the police called her employer I wonder if she had some sort of accident. Not knowing what happened is worse, I think, than knowing she is dead.

Before "E" became an addict she was probably one of the most intelligent people I knew. She had a quick dry wit and had a way of looking at life that set her completely apart from everyone else. She was an incredible artist. She was absolutely gorgeous. Her future should have been so bright.

Up until the end of 2004 she didn't drink, smoke or do any drugs. Nothing. Why she decided to stick a needle in her arm one night is completely beyond my comprehension. Just that one time made her an addict. Just once.

She didn't want to expose me or my daughters to her addiction. A couple of weeks ago we talked. She was on her way to visit a friend in Kentucky and had driven past Des Moines. I asked her to please stop by on her way back home, that I would have someone watch the girls and I would meet her somewhere. She said ok. I didn't hear from her again.

And now she's gone. I feel hollow. I can't believe I won't see her again. My heart is breaking to think of her alone and lost. May God have mercy on that little lost soul. She hated to be alone.

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The Vinyl Is Here!

>> Tuesday, April 03, 2007

For those of you keeping track of my Wishblade activities : the bathroom is almost done. The vinyl came yesterday and we have been working on dots. Big dots, small dots, dots with letters (we are going to put individual towel hooks up for the girls), dots with other dots.

Dots on the shower doors...
A dot on the mirror. If you stand just right it's a "frame".
Dots up high and dots down low...
And all removable, repositionable and requiring no paint!

I just have to get Doug to put up the really high dots. I have to say that I am really pleased. And I saved at least $50 over purchasing "wall decals" and had more color and size options. Not to mention the fun letters!

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Now This Is An Inconvenient Truth

Or just joyous irony...

WHICH BELONGS TO AN ENVIRONMENTALIST?

LOOK OVER THE DESCRIPTIONS OF THE FOLLOWING TWO HOUSES

SEE IF YOU CAN TELL WHICH BELONGS TO AN ENVIRONMENTALIST.

HOUSE # 1:

A 20-room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Addona
pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house all heated by gas. In
ONE MONTH ALONE this mansion consumes more energy than the average American
household in an ENTIRE YEAR. The average bill for electricity and natural
gas runs over $2,400.00 per month. In natural gas alone (which last time we
checked was a fossil fuel), this property consumes more than 20 times the national
average for an American home. This house is not in a northern or Midwestern
"snow belt," either. It's in the South.


HOUSE # 2:

Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university, this
house incorporates every "green" feature current home constructioncan provide.

The house contains only 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is
nestled on arid high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in
the households geothermal heat pumps drawing ground water through pipes
sunk 300 feet into the ground. The water (usually 67 degrees F.) heats the
house in winter and cools it in summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such
as oil or natural gas, and it consumes 25% of the electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected
and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from
showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then
into the cistern. The collectedwater then irrigates the land surrounding the
house. Flowers and shrubs native to the area blend the property into the
surrounding rural landscape.

HOUSE # 1 (20 room energy guzzling mansion) is outside of Nashville,
Tennessee. It is the abode of that renowned environmentalist (and filmmaker) Al Gore.

HOUSE # 2 (model eco-friendly house) is on a ranch near Crawford, Texas.
Also known as "the Texas White House," it is the private residence of the
President of the United States, George W. Bush.

And just to be sure that I wasn't spreading incorrect information I checked this on Snopes (click here to link).

sigh I love irony...

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Hunting Eggs With Who?

>> Sunday, April 01, 2007

I belong to a Mom's Group through my church that meets every Thursday. Every other week we do a book club type thing while the kids play and on alternate weeks we do some sort of activity.

Last week we did an Easter Egg Hunt at a local nursing home. The whole idea was to get the kids to interact with the residents. On our way to the nursing home I was trying to explain to Brenna that we were going to a place where "lots of Great-Grandmas and Great-Grandpas live". As Brenna has all 4 G-G'mas and one G-G'pa I thought she might get it. I didn't feel like it was making any impact until I said the people were old. Then she seemed to get it.

The weather was cold and wet so the eggs were "hidden" inside; through the hallway, around- and sometimes on- the residents and their chairs. No problem for Brenna. My brother-in-law has two brothers who are in wheel chairs so she isn't afraid of them. She, very politely and very carefully, took eggs while Caelan, in her bunny ears, and I followed.

After the egg hunting we went through the facility and shared our bounty. I would hand Brenna an egg and she would give it to the resident we were visiting and say "Happy Easter". Some were very chatty, some just smiled, but all seemed pleased to see the kids. I think Brenna enjoyed herself, too.

When we finished and were leaving the dining areas were being set up and there were people all around. I was telling Brenna to say goodbye as we passed. And she was very good about it, too.

"Goodbye... Goodbye... Goodbye old people..."

Oh, yes, she retains everything. And sooner or later it all comes to the surface.

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