Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Trust me, this was the best picture of all 3 in one frame...

The neighborhood Star Wars confederation

Our little butterfly fairy, compliments of Gangee!

Commander Rex the Clone Trooper

Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah...BATMAN!

After an unseasonably (even here) warm Halloween night

Discovering what all this business was really about...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stitchy McHedgehog

Last night as I was drifting to sleep, I thought to myself, "I probably need to do a new blog entry. But there's not much to write about...nothing has really happened around here lately."

Silly, silly me. Have I not learned that as soon as I have a thought like that, something happens?

And, indeed, tonight it did. The kids and Steve were playing outside this evening as usual. As I was finishing up paperwork with the HVAC guy who had come to do our fall maintenance, Steve burst in the door with Adam -- both of them covered in blood. My first thought was that Adam had been impaled on something. I don't know why. I don't pretend to understand why my mind works the way it does. Maybe Steve was saying something about a pole. Happily, we did not have an impaling on our hands. However, Adam's chin was split neatly open and bleeding profusely. It only took one look for me to say, "Stitches" and start heading out to the car with a howling, bloody Adam.

Meanwhile, the HVAC guy, who was really a nice fellow, was standing in my kitchen with the paperwork saying in all seriousness, "So you don't want to decide about that overflow valve right now?"

Really? Um, no...not right now. I left him to figure that out on his own.

Turns out, as I have pieced the story together over the course of the evening, Adam and the kids were playing some game, and Adam fell off some kind of utility box and caught his face on the edge, thereby opening up a stitch-worthy gash in his chin.

It also turns out that if you walk into an urgent care holding a dirty, wailing, blood-covered urchin wearing only one shoe (oh, yeah), you don't have to wait at all. We have never received such prompt care.

The bad news? Well, it's not so bad.
1. Steve and I broke our almost-6-year run as the parents of boys who had never needed stitches.
2. Adam had a couple bad minutes during the shots. (Who wouldn't?)
3. Family pictures are once again postponed. (sigh)
4. Our air-conditioning overflow pan remains without an overflow valve.

The good news? Where do I begin?
1. Adam wasn't impaled.
2. Adam wasn't seriously hurt in any other way.
3. Even in the worst of his pain and fear, Adam's thought was for his brother..."Mom, can we get TWO Hershey bars [bribes] so Andrew can have one, too?" Precious.
4. Adam now has 3 cool blue stitches.
5. Neither Gangee nor Andrew were implicated in this evening's mishap.
6. Tonight's experience was nothing that couldn't be cured with a dose of antibiotics, a Hershey bar, and a "Misser Fweeze" (Mr. Freeze) Batman figure.
7. We're not using the air conditioning again till May.

Stitchy feeling better with "Misser Fweeze"

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm Not As Sneaky As I Thought

Andrew: Hey, Dad, would you like one of my Hershey bar treats?

Steve: Oh, no, thanks, Andrew. Those are for you.

Andrew: They're my favorite. What is your favorite candy, Dad?

Steve: Well, I like Milky Way and 3 Musketeers. But you know who likes Hershey bars just like you do? Mommy!

Andrew (chuckling): Yeah. Mom really goes after the Hershey bars.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tough Luck, Cocoa

Dear Cocoa,

I knew you were trouble the minute Adam walked in the door from preschool clutching you under one arm and grinning from ear to ear. I see from the binder that accompanied you that you have had some fun times with the other kids in Adam's class. You've gone shopping (you even got belted into a cart for safety!), you went out to eat at several area establishments, you went golfing, and you even went to a rodeo. Whew! Fun times, Cocoa. I bet you had some high expectations for your weekend at our house with Adam.

And your binder! Wow, I cannot believe what those sadistic creative preschool teachers can come up with. We were really supposed to document your weekend here with writing and pictures of our adventures, huh? Gee, Cocoa. I haven't even written in Libby's baby book since she was born 16 months ago. And I can barely even talk about the fact that our last professional photos feature a 4-month-old Adam. Clearly you can understand why I have not been taking your picture as often as you're used to, journaling about your every cute gesture, and carrying you around in a sling on my hip.

So, Cocoa, I apologize for your weekend spent with us. I recognize that we are not what you've become used to. I admit, when I first saw you, I started scheming up a few madcap adventures for us to have together. You were going to leave here telling everyone about your fabulous, picture-perfect, Cleaver-like weekend with Adam and his family. Like fingerpainting and letting your children help you cook, you are a really adorable idea in theory, and I was ready to embrace you.

You were this close to a trip to the pumpkin patch on Saturday. I bet you would've gotten your picture taken then. But it rained that day. And, as you've learned during your stay here, the Nichols family is in no hurry to change out of our jammies or stray too far from the TV on a rainy weekend. No photo ops there.

I had every intention of having Adam take you to church on Sunday. But, given that we almost forgot to put Libby in the car, you can see how easy it was for us to walk out the door and leave you behind.

Sorry, I didn't dare take you to the store. You probably would've gotten left behind in the produce section. I regularly worry about leaving a child there.

And, while I recognize that you are accustomed to fine dining out, we were not in the mood to take our show on the road this weekend. I hope you enjoyed dinner chez Nichols. The crying and theatrical gagging you heard from Andrew is just part of the ambiance. In answer to your question, we were not trying to feed him slugs. It was taco lasagna.

Cocoa, I have to hand it to you. You've been a good sport, and you're not a complainer. I haven't minded having you around, apart from the occasional bouts of mind-blowing guilt you've inspired in me. Everyone hates goodbyes, but tomorrow you have to go back to preschool. (I know, two days late. I forgot to send you the other day. Surely you're not surprised?) So now you and Adam are about to have a little whirlwind playdate for the next couple hours, and I am going to follow you around with the camera like you're used to. (Do you think it would be dishonest if I were to change Adam's outfits in between pictures? Hmmm. Probably.) Then I am going to create a journal entry for you, highlighting your audio-visual experiences, your restful Sabbath, and your fabulous home-cooked meals so my sweet little boy has something to share at preschool. And you are going to smile patiently and keep mum. You seem pretty good at that.


Adam's Mom

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Challenge for You

I know most of you regularly wonder, "What's running through Alison's mind these days? Wonder what her mental to-do list looks like?" Well, I'll tell you.

I have a bundle of birthday thank-you notes to be written that are now officially more than a m

onth overdue.

My house looks like a giant stirred it with a big wooden stick, and I can't seem to do anything about it. Must do something about that.

I've really got to come to a decision about the swine flu shot for the kids.

Did I forget to give Zoe her pills again?

Must prepare for my turn to teach preschool co-op.

Got to get those Christmas pictures taken.

Don't even get me started on Christmas shopping.

Why is Libby waking up at 5:30 am every day again?

What is the time change going to do for that?

Why can I, a former teacher, not remember to make sure my son does his homework each night?

Am I becoming one of those parents?

But at the forefront of all these shallow nagging daily thoughts...Must do something about THE CHAIRS.

I've written about my kitchen table before. I have conflicting feelings about it. I really do like it. It's a nice table. It's what Steve and I chose. But we didn't have kids -- or common sense, apparently -- back then, and its "cleanablilty factor" is a big fat zero. However, I can live with that. What I (and our whole family) cannot live with anymore is the "numbers factor."

Steve and I always thought we'd have four children. Even before we bought this table. So we're not exactly surprised to find ourselves with three kids now. Steve, for those of you who don't realize, is a math genius. He just gets numbers. He has held paid teaching positions in physics, calculus, and all sorts of other subjects that make my eyes cross and my head hurt. And while I would never in a million years be hired to teach any of those things, I do have a good working knowledge of first-grade math. So between the two of us, you'd think we could do some simple addition: Steve + Me + 4 (possibly) kids = 6 people. 6 people will require 6 chairs.

So what did we do? We bought a kitchen table (big enough for 6 people) and 4 chairs. Because...I don't know why. I do not know what we were(n't) thinking.

It was fine for a while. But now our number of family members exceeds our number of kitchen chairs. And even my sad little math skills tell me that 5 people is too many for 4 chairs. Unless we want to play musical chairs at every meal. Which I think the kids would really like...

Now that Libby's ready to move out of the high chair, the chair situation is heating up. I've been on the hunt for the past several weeks in earnest trying to find 2 chairs that would match or coordinate with the 4 we already have. No luck. This is the closest I've come, but they are out of stock. And there might be something better out there. Someone else might have a whole different (better) vision than I have.

So here, for those of you who have extra time on your hands and like to shop online or wander through furniture or consignment shops, is a challenge: Find our poor family some chairs because I am striking out. I want two. Our current chairs are a creamy ecru/buttermilk with maple or pine seats. They were not originally distressed, but they are now. The new ones do not have to match exactly (I don't think it's possible anymore), just coordinate with what we have. No fabric upholstery because we still need furniture that can be hosed down at this stage of our lives.

Here's what we have to work with. New chairs need not necessarily coordinate with the dog.
One of the three (cute) little reasons our table and chairs are perpetually schmecked up.

Budget? Unlimited. Just checking to see if you were reading, Steve. You can quit gasping now. Seriously, I don't know. Something reasonable. Something cheaper than buying a whole new table and chairs.

The winner of the challenge (if there are any participants, that is!) will, our hearty thanks. A good night's sleep knowing every member of our family has somewhere to sit at dinner. A place to sit when you come over to visit.

How about a good cup of Starbucks coffee on us? Now there's an incentive.

Let the challenge begin! I want this high chair out of here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recipe Favorites

Lately I've had several people ask about some of my favorite recipes from cooking group. Because we make some fabulous stuff. If you look at the right-hand side of this blog and click on "Our Cooking Group Blog" and then click on "Blog," you will find all of the recipes we use. All these meals can be made and eaten fresh or made and frozen to eat later.

If you know me, you know I am...choosy. Discerning about my food.

All right. I'm picky. So don't expect to find any mushrooms or broccoli or lots of onions or a whole host of other gross stuff in any of these recipes. But here is my all-star list. (They're favorites of the whole group, actually!)

Mexican Rice & Bean Casserole

Swiss Stuffing Chicken (I use provolone instead of swiss, but friends who actually like swiss cheese tell me it's really good that way, too! And, should you ever make this recipe, under no circumstances are you to use Stove Top stuffing. That would be a travesty. Follow directions and use the Pepperidge Farm stuff.)

Bacon BBQ Kabobs (Heaven on a stick. You'll see.)

Spaghetti Pie

Marinade To Die For (good for beef, pork, or chicken -- love boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat with marinades!)

Korean BBQ (good for chicken; fabulous with pork)

Hmmm. How about that? Now I'm hungry.

Friday, October 9, 2009

In Case You Ever Wondered If He's Really Mine...

Some of you may remember the trouble I've had getting the rugrats around here to sleep past oh-dark thirty. Things have changed a little since school started.

Me: Andrew, since tomorrow is Saturday, you can sleep in in the morning as long as you want!

Andrew (with a big smile): Really? Can I stay in bed all day?

My heart is singing. Please excuse me while I go cry a few happy tears.

A Little of This, a Little of That

Disclaimer: This one's mainly for the grandparents. PICTURES!

Last Star Wars Sleepover. I did NOT ask them to pose. They take it that seriously.

Not to be outdone by the boys...

Hooray! We're getting our appetites back! (And helping ourselves.)

Hello? Hello? Why isn't anyone answering this calculator?

Starting early!

Thank you! Thank you! No encore!

Sunday, October 4, 2009


For those of you who wonder why the only noise you have heard from us on the blog front this past week is the sound of crickets chirping, we've been sick.

All of us. Adam started off the festivities last Tuesday. Steve, the rock of our family, who has not taken a sick day for an actual sickness of his own in the 13+ years I've known him and who never voluntarily naps (I know), came home from work on Thursday and went straight to bed. That's when I knew we were really in trouble. It all went downhill from there.

And while I will not go into details for those of you with weak stomachs (including myself), let's just say this was an, um, eruptive type of illness. The kind that makes for lots of laundry.

In the midst of it all, on my sickest day, Zoe's arthritic back legs went down. So then we were all sick with an elderly, bewildered, paraplegic 80-pound dog. At that point I seriously started to expect one (or both) of our cars to break down and all the major appliances in the house to malfunction.

I don't think we've ever had the whole family sick at once before. I don't care to repeat the experience.

But we are back in business! The house is sanitized (by which I mean clean underneath the mess), the toys are all cloroxed, everyone has fresh sheets (ahhhhh), and Libby is back to eating her weight in graham cracker bees. Even Zoe has miraculously rebounded and is walking around again.

So I am sure that soon I will be back to boring everyone but the grandparents regaling you all with more of the adventures of our thankfully now healthy pirates and petunia.