Food

Ouch!

Today was one of those days when my husband and I were feeling a bit goofy.  Even more so than usual, and that caused trouble.

We were running some errands sans kids and enjoying ourselves.  It had been awhile since we had any time out alone and we were making the most of it.  After a stressful week, we practically bolted to the front door to escape the house and our parenting responsibilities for a short time.  Relaxation set in almost immediately as we pulled out of the driveway with our favorite 80’s station blaring on the radio.  I can’t quite recall what started it, but we soon found ourselves laughing at everything.  You know, one of those giddy moods that can make even the most routine, mundane things suddenly seem hilarious.  This was the type of laughter that made other people stare at you and wonder what you were on.

As we drove through the parking lot of our first destination, Stuff Mart, we waited patiently as an elderly man crossed our path in one of the store’s loaner electric scooters as he made his way to his car.  We parked and walked toward the doors of the store.  As we passed the car where the man with the scooter was, he was just finishing moving from the scooter to the driver’s seat.  He called out to us and asked if we would be kind enough to return the scooter to the store lobby for him, and we agreed.

Now, you need to keep in mind our immature, goofy, drunk-like mood when I describe what happened next.  I’m not even sure who’s idea it was (I say it was my husband’s, he says it was mine) but one of us said it would be fun to use these scooters.  Well, that quickly escalated into “Let’s race these scooters” and caution was thrown to the wind.  Luckily, the Stuff Mart Greeter had momentarily stepped away from his position so it was easy to get started.  After agreeing on one lap around the store, we were off.

Yes, we were sober.  But even sober people do dumb things sometime.

We started off neck and neck as we passed a long cardboard display of potato chips.  Unfortunately, I was distracted by a cart of clearance items and slowed down to browse.  My husband’s laughter brought me back to reality and I turned my attention back to the race.  Luckily, the scooter I was using had a full battery and I was able to catch up to Jayson.  Perturbed by my advancement, he took a shortcut through the girls’ clothing department, narrowly missing one of my daughter’s classmates who was shopping with her mother.  A flash of embarrassment shot through me, but I kept on going.

As we approached the craft department, two ladies from our church stepped into the aisle, right into my path.  The look of astonishment on their faces was priceless.  I said the only thing that could have been said at a moment like this.  “HONK!  HONK!”  They stepped, rather, stumbled, back as I rounded the corner, Jayson hot on my tail.

I have never know my husband to be a NASCAR fan, but he surely has been studying some races because he started to try some fancy maneuvers, complete with vroom-vroom sounds.  He bumped my scooter and let out a maniacal laugh, which sent shivers down my spine.  It was in that moment that I finally questioned the sanity of what we were doing and had second thoughts.  But letting my mind wander like that led to my downfall.

As my attention was scolding myself for acting so foolishly, my husband made his big move.  Consumed with a passion to win this electric scooter race through Stuff Mart, he cut me off.  Trying to swerve to avoid him caused me to flip my scooter.  As I fell, my head crashed into a tall, wire-framed cage full of bouncy balls.  My head hit the floor, and my knee somehow twisted and was trapped under the weight of the scooter.  Blood ran down my face from the scratches on my cheek from the wire cage.  Intense pain shot through my knee.  The whole moment felt it was in slow-motion.  Balls from the display danced around me as I tried to make sense of what had happened.

And my husband kept going.

Don’t think badly of my husband.  He did come back to check on me eventually (and announce his victory).  He followed the paramedics after they arrived.  By that time, a small crowd had gathered.  I tried not to make eye contact with anyone, fearing I would see someone I knew.  Humiliated, I was treated at the scene but refused to be transported to the hospital.  I am now home, with a bandaged face and frozen peas on my knee, which is the size of a cantaloupe, and a very bruised ego.

This was probably the most embarrassing moment of my life.  I can read the headlines tomorrow:  “Local Woman Writes Blog for April Fools Day”.

 

 

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Organizing Halloween Candy Revisited

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If you are a longtime reader of I’m Working On It, you might remember my post from last year about Organizing Halloween Candy.

Last year was a trial run so I didn’t know what to expect.  The system actually worked quite well.  I gave each kid baggies labeled with a day of the week.  He or she could fill each baggie with whatever Halloween candy he or she had.  The kids sorted their candy, carefully chose which pieces went into each bag, and didn’t complain one bit about not being able to gorge themselves at their own will.  The even had some leftover, even the good kind!

Now, here is the real surprise.  THEY FORGOT ABOUT IT.  After maybe a day or two, they simply forgot about their candy.  After it sat on the shelf for a few weeks, I simply threw it away (minus the chocolate, of course, which was consumed by yours truly).  My theory is that because it was put away and not out in plain sight, it was out of mind.

In conclusion, I feel like this method of candy control worked well for our family and I think we will do it again this year.  The kids felt some control over what they could have, yet the quantity was limited.  Give it a try at your house and let me know what you think.

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The Kitchen Table

Something exciting happened at our house a few months ago.  We got a new kitchen table!  OK, so it isn’t lottery-winning-exciting, but to a 40-something stay-at-home-mom, this is super cool!  It was custom made for us by a local artisan.  Before we met with the maker to discuss our expectations for our new table, my husband and I had to evaluate our needs.

Size was a big factor in our decision.  Our most obvious need was a table long enough to fit our family of seven.  The old table only comfortably sat six.  Ever since our youngest was out of the high chair, the Dancer has (voluntarily) sat on a stool at the corner of the table.  We needed a table that we could all fit around. However, the physical space for a table in our kitchen was limiting.  Do we need an expandable table?  Drop leaf?  What about seating?  Should we keep our current chairs?  As my husband took measurements and the kids debated a new seating chart, I began thinking of how we use our table.

Our kitchen table is not merely a place to eat meals.  It is so much more.

The table provides extra kitchen workspace.
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It welcomes groceries as they are brought into the house.
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The homework hub.
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Game time.
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Home office.
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A magical hideaway for imaginative play.
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A place of refuge for a little dog in a big world.
DSCF2707Not only is our kitchen table a place where we share meals and conversation ranging from deep theological discussions to episodes of SpongeBob, it is a special part of our family life.DSCF2180 (1024x768)

We need a table that is strong and sturdy to support all of these needs, yet beautiful to represent the love surrounding it.  And that’s just what we got.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I please present our beautiful, new, custom-made kitchen table.
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And bench with storage cubbies (we decided to also use the kitchen chairs we already had).
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Many thanks for Kathi Jackley at https://www.facebook.com/kathikountrykrafts for crafting the perfect table for our family! She and her husband do excellent work at a very reasonable price. This table fits our family perfectly! And it fits our many needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell to the Candy Season

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As Easter Sunday passes, so, too does the Candy Season.  What’s that? you say.  You may be unfamiliar of the term (which I created) but I am sure you are at least vaguely aware its existence.

At some point in late August or early September, retail establishments remove the back-to-school supplies and start putting out Halloween merchandise.  Down come the pencil boxes, crayons, and folders, up go the costumes, plastic pumpkins, and or course, the candy.  The Candy Season has begun.

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As soon as you walk through the doors of the store, there it is  candy.  Strategically placed throughout the building: candy.  Down the most-walked aisles: candy.  And if you manage to maintain some self-control and bypass all of the seasonal candy, you can always find some at the cash registers.  To reward yourself for managing to refrain from buying a bag of your favorite miniature goodies, treat yourself with a chocolate bar.

Americans have a love/hate of Candy Season.  In our brains, we know that candy has lots of sugar and stuff that isn’t good for us, but it is still hard to resist.  Whether it is the sweet taste, the memories it evokes of our childhood, or just the feeling that we are getting away with something, most of us break down and succumb to the temptations of the Candy Season.  Admit it.  You know you have.  You may say that bag of peanut butter cups is for the trick-or-treaters, but it is long gone before October 31. Maybe even before you get home.   This just causes you to return to the store another day, and repeat the entire scenario.

And, thus, the cycle begins.

Once Halloween is gone, Christmas takes over.  Candy corn gives way to candy canes.  Christmas candy novelties appear, waiting to fill stockings.  Gift boxes of chocolates for the hard-to-by-for person on your shopping list.  Teacher gifts of assorted hard candies in seasonal coffee mugs.  You know what I’m talking about.  It’s all there.  Candy makes the perfect gift.  (And it can also make a not-so-perfect meal when you are busy shopping and don’t want to take the time to eat right.)

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In January, as the Christmas merchandise shrinks and gets shifted to the clearance aisles, the Valentine candy appears, starring the ever-popular heart-shaped box of chocolates.  Don’t forget the specially individually packaged goodies for the kids to pass out at school.  I must also mention my husband’s favorite:  Brach’s Sour Cherry Gels.  I love my husband.  I buy large quantities of these because they are hard to find and only come out once a year.  (Then to make things even, I buy a bag of chocolate something for me.)

Easter hops in next.  Chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and lots of treats to fill baskets and plastic eggs for Easter-egg hunts.  One of my favorite Easter traditions is filling the eggs.  I dump out all of the bags of candy on my bed and fill ’em up.  Lent is over, let the good times roll!  One piece of candy for the plastic egg, one for me.  One for the egg, one for me…

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Which brings us to now, the end of the Candy Season.  As the final Easter candy is leaving the shelves, there is no new candy in its place.  Instead, you find sunscreen, flip-flops, and pool supplies.  It’s a bittersweet end to a milk chocolate season.  Farewell, Candy Season.  We will miss you.  Yes, we may on occasion frequent the regular candy aisle, but it’s just not the same.  We will miss the colorful packaging and novel shapes.  You may be gone, but not forgotten.  You, Candy Season, will live forever in my heart (and on my thighs).

What’s your favorite candy?  Leave a comment below. 

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Happy Easter, Happy Dyngus Day

Excuse me for being quiet lately here in Blogland, but I tried to focus my last days of Lent and Holy Week on my faith journey.  The internet can be a big distraction to me as I tried to comprehend and contemplate the concepts of love, sacrifice, and forgiveness.  I will never truly understand, nor will any human on earth, the tremendous depth of love our God has for us.  I simply accept that I don’t understand it, and maybe wasn’t meant to understand it during this physical lifetime.  And that is fine with me.  I have faith and trust in God.  I don’t need to completely understand Him.

I hope everyone had a beautiful, wondrous Easter Sunday!  My family and I were blessed by an invitation to have Easter dinner at our friends’ house.  Lots of yummy food and fun and fellowship.  Of course, there was an Easter egg hunt, too!  As the kids (and some of us adults, too) were lining up at the edge of the yard, waiting for the signal to start egg-hunting, their big, teddy bear-of-a-dog decided to wander into the middle of the yard and took a dump.  Once that situation was …um…disposed of, the egg hunt commenced.  I picked up a few eggs.  (Hey, it’s free candy!  Don’t judge!)  Being the ornery person I am, I emptied the yummy contents of one of the plastic eggs into my pocket then filled it with landscaping rocks and put it back down for my daughter to find.  hee hee hee.  Oh, the things Easter memories are made of!

Later that evening, when we were home, we lit a fire in the back yard and roasted hot dogs.  Not the typical Easter meal, but we took advantage of the good weather to practice for the upcoming camping season.    Being a scout family, we are sure to have some camp outs in the near future.  The fire was a nice, relaxing way to spend the evening enjoying our family.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Dyngus Day!  Dyngus Day is a holiday celebrated on the Monday after Easter.  It is popular in Poland and other eastern European countries, as well as in certain American-Polish communities.  I am not sure how it is celebrated in Europe, but growing up in South Bend, IN, Dyngus Day was a celebration of the end of Lent and a day to partake in yummy Polish food such as sausage, noodles, chicken…mmm…the memories!  It is also a popular day for politicians to campaign in local bars and social clubs.  Now that I have moved from South Bend, I miss Dyngus Day.  Maybe I will put on some polka music and dance around the living room.  Nah…that would just scare the dog.

Happy Easter and Happy Dyngus Day!

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Last-Minute Super Bowl Snack

Sunday is the Big Game.  OK, so I’m not really into either team this year. Although being from Indiana, I still have a soft spot for former-Colt-turned-Bronco, Peyton Manning, and I still like a good football game. And, of course, the commercials and the food!

I usually browse the internet and look for new, fun, tailgate-type food to snack on during the game. It has become our family tradition:  no dinner, just munchies during the game.  However, this year we opted to do a replay of our New Year’s Eve party food.  A simple and fun idea that can easily be thrown together at the last minute: a nacho bar!

On New Year’s Eve, my Curly Girlie came up with this great idea and it was a hit! Simply buy the chips and toppings and let everyone make their own custom plate of nachos. We even did this one night last week for dinner, but a bit scaled-down.

We had taco meat, refried beans, shredded cheese, queso, tomatoes, sour cream, and picante sauce.
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The Oldest likes to make a pile of toppings then dip his chips.

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My husband prefers to load everything on top of his chips.

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A simple pile of chips with shredded cheese melted in the microwave for the Princess.

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I like everything on top, too.

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In our New Year’s version of our nacho bar, we had lettuce, salsa, guacamole, and onions.  You could add jalapeno, olives, different kinds of cheeses or salsas or whatever you like!  This can easily be tweaked to fit a specialty diet, too.  Wouldn’t it be fun to have a nacho bar pitch-in?  Everyone could bring a different topping to the party.

I  hope you have fun watching the commercials…I mean, game.  Grab a plate and your favorite beverage, settle down in your nice comfy chair, and be thankful to be in your nice warm house instead of on those cold stadium seats!  Have fun!

 

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“How’m I Doin’?”

Former New York City Mayor, Ed Koch, would often greet his constituents with his trademark phrase, “How’m I doin’?” Even as a young teen, that left an impression on me. How neat that someone in an elected position would directly and routinely ask those who voted for him how they thought he was doing at the job!

Too often, we undertake something with great ambition only to find our enthusiasm evaporates or our direction changes from our original intention. Or we are too busy patting ourselves on our backs for a job well-done that we can’t see that the job really wasn’t done that well.

I think it is important to occasionally step back and evaluate ourselves. I just did that with this blog. I spent time reviewing my posts and seeing if I am doing what I set out to do. On my homepage, I wrote:

I invite you to take a peek at our chaotic, cluttered life and how I am trying to make positive changes. On my blog I will post musings on motherhood, family anecdotes, and housekeeping triumphs and tragedies. Through all of this you may see my Catholic faith. I can’t do anything without Him (although I sometimes try, then fail)!

I think I have done a decent job of that.  I have shown you the chaos (The End of the Christmas Concert Season) and clutter (Bathroom Improvements, Part 1).  I have written motherhood musings (She-nager! and My Big Baby Boy) and family anecdotes such as Christmas Shopping with the Kids.  You can read about housekeeping triumphs (Attacking the Tub) and even the canning tragedy with my finger (The Corn Story, Part 2).  My faith is part of who I am and presents itself in varying degrees.  I try to share my faith without sounding too preachy.  It is a big part of who I am and therefore a part of my blog.

After reviewing, I am quite satisfied with what I have done so far.  Frankly, I thought I would disappoint myself, but I didn’t.  This blog has really helped me keep myself of track to reach the organization and positive goals I have set.  I have recently changed the look of karenthemommy.com, but not the content and direction.  I think things are going well.

Now it’s your turn.  Tell me, “How’m I doin’?”  Leave a comment or send an email.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Organizing Halloween Candy

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Last night was our Trick-or-Treat night.  (It was postponed from Halloween night due to bad weather.)  We had a Minnie Mouse, Pez dispenser, Star Wars Jedi, and a nun.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of all of them or I would have posted it.  The Oldest felt too old to dress up so he stayed home to hand out to anyone who came to our door.  It was nice that hubby and I both got to go around with the younger ones.

Of course, the kids each came home with a bag full of candy.  In an attempt to keep the kids from eating it all at once, I made a game plan.

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First, the kids dumped out their candy and sorted it so they could see what all they had.  After the candy was sorted, each kid got baggies with the days of  the week written on them.  I let the kids fill each of their baggies however they wanted.  On that specific day, they can only eat what was in their baggie for the day.  This will let them have their sweets, but in limited, controlled quantities.  Each kid also has a brown paper bag with his/her name to hold all of the baggies.

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To my surprise, they each had leftover candy.  They could have stuffed more into their baggies, but they chose not to.  Some of the leftovers were put in a bowl for Mom and Dad, some was donated to their older brother who stayed home.  Most will be thrown away (when the kids aren’t looking).

I didn’t plan it, but it turned out have some extra benefits, especially for the Kindergartener.  This was a good exercise in sorting — by color, by brand, by type, etc.  She also practiced sorting her baggies by the days of the week.
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This is the first year I have done anything  like this.  It sounds good in theory.  Let’s see how it works.

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They’re Huuuuuuuuuuuuunnngryyyyyyyyyyy!

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I guess I need to start planning my next multi-million dollar trip to the grocery store.  Before I know it the kids will be home from school with that oh-too-familiar war cry, “I’m huuuuuunnnngryyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  That’s translated to “I’m hungry” for those who don’t know Whinese.

If I don’t have a game plan, I’m doomed.  If the cupboards are bare, I’m doomed.  Therefore, as of right now, I am doomed.

To be truthful, there is some stuff in the cupboard, but stuff that they deem as not suitable for snacks.  Such as flour.  Really, flour is just a few short steps away from cookies, so why should they complain?  It’s like cookies in their purest form.  There is also a package of taco seasoning.  mmm-mmm!  Just add a little water, drink it down…it’s like a liquid Taco Bell!

Or they could go to the freezer and gnaw on a frozen pork chop.  But then they will start whining, “Raw meat?  Again?”  Whimps.

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And they complain when there isn’t anything to drink besides water.  Fine.  Looking in the fridge I see a bottle of lemon juice and a bottle of Worcestershire sauce.  Take your pick and quit complaining.

I guess I don’t really need to go to the shore after all.  There are plenty of snack options here now that I think about it.  My kids really don’t know how lucky they are to have a mom as thoughtful as me.

 

 
drink up!
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The Corn Story, Part Two: The Injury

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As I mentioned in my last blog post, The Corn Story, Part One: An Earful, we were blessed with an abundance of sweet corn. We had 41 dozen ears of corn shucked and cooked. It was now time to cut the kernels off of the cobs and start the process of canning and freezing.

While some choose to cut the corn off of the cob with a knife, the preferred method in our home is to use an old slicing tool like my mother-in-law used when my husband was a child. My sentimental sweety saw one at a kitchen gadget store once and snatched it up. It was the same design (and perhaps the same packaging) that my mother-in-law purchased in the 1960’s. We have used it faithfully for years and it has served us well, but it wasn’t as sharp as it used to be.

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With the monumental task set before us of cutting a lot of corn, I decided it was time for something new. I purchased a new mandolin slicer, knowing full well that my husband would continue to use the slicer that reminded him of his childhood, no matter how dull it was. I figured with me using the new one, and him the old, the job should be done in half the time. I carefully washed up the new mandolin and read the instructions, including the “this is your official notice that this is very sharp and dangerous so be careful and don’t come at us with an attorney if you hurt yourself” warning.

As with any new gadget that enters our house, it caught the kids’ attention. Eager eyes watched as I stripped the ears of corn and eager fingers poked at the golden piles of kernels that formed on the cutting board. They begged to try this curious new gizmo. Knowing that this new mandolin was very sharp and dangerous (after all, I had read the instructions) I declined the kids’ offers to “help” with the corn warning them of the sharpness and danger.

It happened at that moment. The injury. I felt my fingernail catch on the very sharp and dangerous blade. As I involuntarily jerked my hand away, the metal dug into my fingertip. I immediately ran to the sink and held my finger under running water, getting there as the blood started to flow. And flow it did. My oldest daughter brought me a washcloth as I clutched the finger in an attempt to stop the blood. My husband came over to see how bad it was. I wasn’t sure myself. I hadn’t looked. But when we did look, my knees got weak.

I admit it. I am a wimp. Sometimes I can handle medical stuff well, other times I can’t. This was one of those times. I staggered pale-faced to the couch, finger wrapped in the washcloth. I lied down and propped my feet up as someone got another cold cloth for my head. I can’t be sure, but I think the kids were somewhere in the house placing bets on whether or not I would pass out. I even think I heard them ask if I was going to puke. This had to be way more exciting for them than watching the corn!

As it turned out, I did not faint and I did not throw up. I was able to compose myself and tried to take another look at the injury. However, every time I moved the washcloth away to take a peek, the blood started gushing again. This was not good. I think I may have caused more trauma to my finger by the amount of squeezing I was doing in an attempt to control the bleeding. By God, I was going to strangle that finger to death to get the bleeding to stop if it meant I didn’t have to go to the ER. (I would have posted a picture of the finger, but I thought that might be gross. Besides, it’s the middle finger and I wouldn’t want to be accused of in obscene gesture.)

As my beloved husband threw the kids in bed (no regular bedtime routine tonight) I assessed my situation. The bleeding did stop, however, if my finger was bumped or touched, it started again. I decided I didn’t need stitches. We didn’t have any suitable bandages in the house so when I felt well enough I drove to the store, finger wrapped in the washcloth to peruse the first aid section. Meanwhile my husband stayed home to continue the assault on the corn. I returned with an assortment of fingertip bandages…and some more canning lids. Hey, there was still a job to do.

From that point on, I was out of the corn processing business. My husband had to do it all (with some help from the children). It took at least two evenings. My finger continued to bleed off and on for several days. The swelling finally went down and it is now starting to heal. Yesterday, I lost about one third of the nail. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I continue to keep bandages on, mostly because it is still sensitive when bumped and I don’t want the remaining nail to catch on anything. I still marvel at the irony that I cut my finger as I was warning my kids about how sharp and dangerous the mandolin is. Definitely a case of do-as-I-say-not-as-I do.

Despite all of the drama, we ended up with a lot of corn stored up for us to use through the winter. Yeah! Thank you to my brother-in-law for the corn! Oh, and don’t be afraid to eat corn at my house. There were no traces of blood, fingertips or fingernails in the finished product!

 

 

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