Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Year End Wrap Up

I know my blog has been more about food than anything else lately, but I swear, if I keep it up I won't have to cook in 2008. My fridge is packed. It is actually making a sort of grunting groaning noise, I think it is in protest of being over packed. It's full with leftover catfish soup from Christmas Eve (which I'm now throwing out - old fish scares me), prime rib from Christmas, Chicken Satay, Wontons, Springrolls and Silver Wrapped Chicken from tonight, plus there is the ham and collard greens for tomorrow. It's a small miracle I'm not pushing 200 lbs. at this point. Oh, and there's all the leftover Christmas cookies still haunting me.

Francesca is now walking, actually she has been since December 14th. At fifteen months she's our latest walker, but she's also our most reserved, almost timid child, so I guess we should not be surprised. Today she tripped and landed smack on the corner of the bathroom cabinet. I should have taken a picture but I was too busy helping Vince get some ibuprofen in her. She's got a nice blue and purple rhino horn sticking out of her forehead. Other than that, she's been doing fine.This picture was taken right when she first starting walking, not since her deforming accident.

I tried to get a cute picture of the kids in front of the tree, but Francesca wouldn't cooperate. So I told her she was getting a lump of coal in her stocking.

Christmas morning we did our usual thing and made the kids get dressed and go to Mass first, because we're mean like that. Then we came home, got back into our PJ's, then opened gifts. Our Christmas was nice, but it's just not the same being away from my family, namely my mom and grandma. But that's what I get for moving half way across the country. I had a little better luck with the photo in front of the tree thing, I'm sure mostly because Vince was there to help.

Actually, I think Vince took this picture, I was still getting ready for Mass. Francesca looks like she's eyeing the packages and just biding her time. Everyone looked so nice though, and Annamaria wants to wear her Christmas dress everyday now. We've finally found something to distract her from that freaking Tinkerbell costume that she's outgrown but insists on wearing . . . every. . . single. . . day!

So it's 10:30pm on New Year's Eve. The kids are asleep, the house is quiet, and my stomach is full from our Asian Finger Food Feast. Time for PJ's and the couch. Hope everyone had a very merry Christmas, and has a great New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Cookies 2007: Day Six

All done, and just in time to put a cookie tray together to bring to our Pizza Night/Christmas Party.

Tender, buttery, pecan laden cookies, rolled in powdered sugar. Just don't inhale while taking a bite, or you'll end up choking on the sugar.

Candy Cane Sandwich Cookies
The recipe said to be careful not to overbake the cookies, or they will be too hard. Well, I baked them for the minimum amount of time, eleven minutes, and when you bite into one all the peppermint creme squishes out the other side. Yummy, but messy. I'll try making these again, and just reduce the cooking time.

And the final product . . .

The Christmas Cookie Tray

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Cookies 2007: Day Five

I felt like a slacker the other day, only getting one batch of cookies finished. So yesterday I was able to get three done, and get back on track. And only one day to go.

Marble Icebox Cookies

These are tender and simple. I think they're what the chubs of cookie dough in the refrigerated section of the grocery store are supposed to be, but just aren't.

Gingerbread Men

Vince loves gingerbread but I've never made it before. He took one bite and said it was the best gingerbread he's ever had. Right on. And they were fun to decorate too.

Snowman Sugar Cookies

Simple and lightly sweetened so it can take the extra sweetness from the frosting. I thought they came out cute, but one batch only turned out sixteen cookies.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Cookies 2007: Day Four

Ugh, still sick.

Chocolate Cherry Thumbprints

Soft, fudgy, pretty yummy I think. Again with the not really being able to taste too well. But the kids loved them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Cookies 2007: Day Three / Happy Birthday Sophia!

I'm sick. Sick and miserable. I feel like that claymation kid in the Kleenex commercial who's nose jumps off his face and hides when he tries to wipe it. And to make matter worse, today is Sophia's 9th birthday. Such a bummer for her.

I was planning on making gingerbread men and snowman shaped sugar cookies for the kids to decorate for a little birthday/Christmas fun, but so far I haven't been up to any baking. Vince went ahead and went to work this morning, he had a project that had to be completed today, or else eight days worth of work would have been for nothing. But luckily he was able to leave as soon as he was done, and got back home by ten or eleven this morning. I'm not even sure what time it was, I was back in bed after getting the babies taken care of this morning. So after a bit more bed time, I dragged my sorry butt out of bed and took Sophia to the mall.

Vince and I were planning on taking her to Roy's, our favorite special occasion restaurant, for her birthday dinner. But she wanted to go to Build-A-Bear Workshop. And since I can't really taste anything anyway, it would have been a waste of great food and a lot of money to go ahead and go to Roy's. And it's her birthday after all, so Build-A-Bear it was. She had a great time, and really took her sweet time on which animal to pick. Much to my discomfort, but she finally chose. She ended up with a kind of Christmas-fairy-kitty. And her name is Christie. Christie the Christmas Kitty. I think it's funny how kids give animals human names.

So I totally slacked on the birthday cake, and just ended up buying her a cheesecake from the Cheesecake factory. But honestly, how could anyone complain about a cheesecake from the Cheesecake factory? I think that fulfills my birthday cake dreams, even if a cheesecake isn't technically a cake. And since cake decorating is not my forte, anything I could have come up with would not look quite so nice.
See, I'm trying to ease my guilt over being a slacker mom on my oldest daughter's birthday.

So we came home, and Sophia got to unveil her gift, a new bicycle. She's out riding it right now, so I think she was pleased. Again, easing the guilt. And not to completely let her down today, I am making her a special dinner that she requested . . . juicy, juicy steak, cheesy potatoes, and sauteed green beans.

To on to the Christmas cookies . . .

Honey Caramel Hazelnut Bars
I think these are good, but again, can't really taste anything, so I may be fooling myself. Vince's favorite nuts are hazelnuts, and he said they're good, so I'll have to take his word on it.

Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Shortbread Bars

These are good. I make them last year when my taste buds were working just fine, so I know these are worth the calories. Actually they're better than just good, they're pretty amazing.
Obviously, photography is not my forte either.

Let's see if I can get myself in the kitchen today, and get back on the cookie track.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Cookies 2007: Day Two

A quick post before heading off to the first doctor's appointment of the day.

Ooey Gooey Karo Krispers

Obviously not ooey nor gooey. I set them in the fridge to get the chocolate top to set and ended up leaving them in the fridge overnight. Therefore they are more like hard and brittle Karo Krispers, practially shattered when I tried to cut into them this morning. I'll leave them on the counter to warm up a bit and see what they do. I've never made these before, so the jury is still out.

Nanimo Bars

My favorite! I'm sure these can be made any time of year, but since I'll eat the entire tray myself, I limit these to Christmas time only. And of course I have to make a double batch to be sure I get my share. Of course just before baking for the day, Vince called and said he wanted a batch to bring to his Christmas thing at work on Friday. So since I'm already making a double batch, do I just give him half? Of course not. This calls for triple batch making.
** They're actually very easy to make. Good luck Lena and Greg. ***

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Cookies 2007: Day One

I've planned to make twelve types of cookies for the twelve days of Christmas, but in only six days. Seeing that we have two different doctors appointments scheduled for tomorrow, and Thursday is Sophia's 9th birthday, it may be a stretch, but I'm going to try to keep in mind that this is suposed to be fun. It would help if the babies would actually go to sleep at nap time, but so far I've had little cooperation.

Actually, yesterday was Day One but I never got around to posting anything.
Pineapple Jam Jewels

These are yummy. Tender and buttery. I have made them before and will definetly make again.

Holiday Wreath Jumbles

I think these are more cute than yummy. Just a plain sugar type cookie with colored powdered frosting decoration. I think the kids will think they're neat, but I'll save my calories for something else.

Today's (Day Two) cookies are still setting up, so I'll have to post those tomorrow.

In house news . . . Vince has decided that my big dream house isn't on a big enough lot, and I've decided that four bedrooms and only one living area isn't a big enough house regardless of the one acre of yard. So we're in the process of working with a couple of custom home builders to see if we can afford to build what we want. We shall see.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Tale of Two, No Wait, Three Houses

Our first trip out with our real estate agent for some serious house hunting left me disappointed at our options. So the next Saturday, we tried again. And at the end of the day, felt we had a couple of very viable options. This is the problem. I want a house. A nice house. A nice big house, so that when I'm stuck at home with the kids all day, there is enough room for us to get away from each other with out driving each other crazy. Vince wants land. Lots of land. Land lots of land with the starry sky's above. Don't fence him in. Remember Green Acres? Yep, that's us. Our task was not an easy one.

So last Saturday, house #1, we looked at a house that Vince was most interested in. Luckily it reeked of dog urine, and was so small even Vince couldn't deny it. It was located on a street called Hardback Court. All I had to do was call it Brokeback Court, and he said he couldn't live there now. He's just too easy sometimes.

On to house #2. Another smaller house on an acre of land, but new and with a swimming pool, so I was ready to give it a look. Nope, too small, no trees, and a questionable area.

On to house #3. Basically I forced Vince into looking at this house. He had no interest, but we were in the area, it was six minutes away from house #2, so how could he say no? Still a smaller house than I wanted, listed at 2,636 sq. ft., but new and on 1 1/2 acres at the end of a cul-de-sac, and heavily wooded. It was beautiful. Not laid out like I'd like, smaller than I wanted, but very high end. Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, but only one living area and one dining area. Great neighborhood, which will be gated, and all lots are a minimum of an acre. The kids had such a good time running around that property, they were elated. Sophia was running around, her cheeks were all pink and rosy. It was a happy sight. And there were deer tracks. Lot's of them, all over the backyard. And the fact that it was like being on the edge of a forest won Vince over. Oh, that and the enormous 23x30 garage. So the house is smaller than I want, but there is room to add on if we feel the need and the neighborhood can't be beat. That's the Antler Ridge house. You can see that house here.

Then on to house #4. Basically the house of my dreams. 4100 sq. ft. Five bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a living room, a family room, a study, a dining room, a game room, and a media room. There is even an exercise room off the master bath. And the master closet was bigger than some bedrooms I've seen. I'm telling you, the only thing I could find wrong with this house was the fact that it didn't have double ovens. Then there was the yard. The yard was fine. Not huge, but definitely better than what we have now. There is room for the kids to play. No, it's no acre and a half, and it's not wooded, but o-kay. It's only a 9,000 sq. ft. lot, but look at the house! And we couldn't reach out the window and touch our neighbors house, so while the houses were closer than we would like, they weren't ridiculously close. That's the Glenwood house. You can see that house here.

Ah, decisions, decisions. So getting back into the car, Vince asks me "O-kay, if you had to make an offer on a house right now, which one would it be?" I hate it when he does that to me. I'm not a snap decision maker. I don't like being put on the spot. So I thought a couple of minutes, the inner turmoil building. Do I choose what I want? Do I choose what my husband wants? Do I choose what I think would be best for my kids? My kids of course. But what would be better for my kids? A bigger house? Do my kids care what size house they live in? And how did I get so high and mighty that I think I need a 4,100 sq. ft. house? Why can't I get the Glenwood house in the Antler Ridge area? Am I asking too much? Apparently. Do my kids want more room to run and play? Is that what is more important to my children? Running and playing seem pretty important to kids. Do they even know what they want, and would they verbalize it if they could? Ugh! So I said I'd make a low ball offer on the Antler Ridge house and if it was meant to be , it was meant to be. If not, I thought the Glenwood house would be a great second choice. Vince agreed. We had a decision.

So while we're getting our pre-qual stuff worked out, and our agent is doing a little homework on the area for us, I'm thinking more and more about the Antler Ridge house. It really is the kind of neighborhood I wanted, but the house just seems so small. 2,636 sq. ft. The house we're currently in is supposed to be about 2,450 sq. ft. and I swear it has more room. We have four bedrooms, two and a half bedrooms. A family room, a game room, and a room at the front of the house that is supposed to be a formal dining but we use it as our homeschooling room. I just couldn't figure out where all that extra square footage was supposed to be. So our agent e-mailed the listing agent about the square footage, and he got kind of snippy.

My inner turmoil still going on. I wanted to go look at the Antler Ridge house and the property again, so Sunday after Mass we made another trek out there. It's no short trip, it's currently 1 1/2 hours from where we live now, but only 30 minutes from where Vince works. So his commute will improve greatly.

The property was still great, but the house was still small. We're talking back and forth on how we could extend this wall, or build out over the garage, etc, etc. So as we're leaving we decide to drive around the neighborhood, because there are still a lot of lots of land for sale. Just before it got dark, we came across a house that was still being built. Pretty much done, but not quite. Vince asked if I wanted to see it inside, but I thought it must be locked, how could we get in it. Well there wasn't even a lock on the front door yet. So we went in, and it was a lot like the Antler Ridge house, but a little bigger. 2,814 sq. ft. Laid out a little better. And it had a formal dining, and a study, but still only one living area. It's only on a one acre lot, but still, one acre. And I think the house won't feel so cramped. That's the Deer Chase house. No link for this house, it's not even on the market yet. So now we have a meeting with the builders on Sunday to see if we could afford to build what I want on a lot that Vince wants. Or should we just go with what is already built, and we'll make it work for us.

So wish us luck, keep us in your prayers, do whatever it is you do to send someone good vibes. I just want to make the right decision, whatever that decision may be.

But I do have to say, with all the inner turmoil and complaining I'm doing, I'm feeling like I'm not liking myself very much right now. Nothing has been stolen, Vince is employed and just got a raise, and everyone is healthy. We're just trying to buy a house. Which is what we've been waiting to do for a year now. I need to focus on being grateful, not conflicted. So shut up already!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Great House Dilemma

Vince and I have been looking at houses on-line for about a year now. We've been driving around checking out areas on our own for a good nine months. And for the past couple of months we've been out with a realtor looking at houses. So here's our dilemma. Vince wants land, I want a nice house that is big enough for all six of us, and apparently we can't get both. Oh, the banks may loan us enough money for both, but we want to keep our mortgage payment from being scary.
Our choices seem to fall into three categories. Our first is land, say three to five acres, with a big house that needs work. Say about $50K worth of work to make it what I would want to live in. The second being an acre of land, with a new or fairly new house, but much (much) smaller than what we want. The third being a new or fairly new, big house in a subdivision, on a lot no bigger than a quarter-acre. Actually if the lot was a quarter acre, it would be considered big. But if we could find a house with a yard big enough for the kids to play, then so be it.

So I would like some input.

We're willing to purchase with a five-year plan in mind. Since the market is in our favor, we could purchase something now that may not be all we want, with the idea of seeing where we are in five-years, then maybe we'll be able to get what we want. So we need to keep resale value in mind. Do we purchase . . .

1. The big new house with no land.
I get the house I want, and the kids get neighbors to play with, but Vince feels like a caged up animal.

2. The small but nice house on one acre.
I'm not too sure about this option since Vince really wants more than just one acre, and then I'm also stuck with a house that really isn't enough room for us.

Or forgetting the five-year plan . . .
3. The older house on the land that Vince wants and just fix it up.
If we could talk the price way down, would it be worth it?

Ah, decisions, decisions. Any real estate experts out there? Seriously, I need help.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why, Hello There

No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth, I did not perish in the California wildfires (although not to be completely egocentric, but I must say those fires really screwed up my trip, more on that later), nor otherwise cease to exist. We are back in Texas, safe and sound, and have been for at least three weeks now. I've completely lost track of time. And I'm finding it hard to get back into the swing of things. Hence the lack of posting. And lack of clean laundry. We're in the midst of finding a house to buy. My husband wants land, and I want a nice house. Apparently a nicer house than we can afford. At least on more than an acre anyway. So it's all consuming. Like from 6:30 am until 10:30 am just this morning alone on the inter net kind of all consuming. And not starting Sophia's school work until after 10:30 am this morning all consuming. Although I didn't hear any complaints from her. And not folding the three baskets of clean laundry all consuming. You'd think with all that time on the computer I'd at least get some blogging done. We'll here's my attempt. And I'll throw in a picture of Francesca to boot.

Oh heck, and why not throw in the other three while I'm at it?

**Pictures courtesy of Grandma DeeDee**

Friday, October 12, 2007

California Here I Come

Since the summer got away from us, and we never made it back for a visit, the kids and I are headed out west for a few weeks of visiting family and friends. My mom is flying out here late next week, and the next morning we're all headed off in the minivan for the long, long drive. We're planning on making it a two day trip with just one night on the road. We'll have to see how it goes. That reminds me I need to find a hotel in El Paso. Why the quick turn around? My mom didn't take the next week off work. Her friend who lives out here in Plano is very disappointed. But she's driving back with us in the middle of November, and will spend a couple of days before flying back home. So all is not lost. Brave soul that that my mom is, spending a couple of days in the car with four kids/babies, just so I don't try to make the trip by myself I'm sure. She must really love me.

So poor Vince is wondering what he is going to do with himself while we're gone, and who's going to feed him. I say enjoy the silence, and eat whatever he darn well pleases. Chocolate for dinner! No little ones to set a bad example for. Enjoy. Love that he is though, for our wedding anniversary last month, he gave me the pasta roller attachment for my Kitchen Aid. And not just the roller set, but also some extra cutting attachments, and the ravioli attachment. So I've been a pasta-making-fiend lately. Tonight for dinner: crab ravioli with beurre blanc. I froze the extra uncooked ravioli and some fettuccine so those will be waiting for a quick boil for dinner while were gone. I'm sure he'll be fine.

But I've done it once again, it's now midnight and I've got to get to bed. Time to slide on my CPAP and get some sleep. I swear I can't say (write) "CPAP" without thinking "pap smear". It's the whole "pap" part. Where else do you ever use that?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Color Me Dissapointed

Vince and I are in the process of looking at some properties, finally settling down on which parts of the DFW area we might want to purchase a house. Unfortunately this is easier said than done. Currently, Vince works a good 1 to 1 1/2 hours away from where we live. And while he says he doesn't mind an hour long commute for the right house/property, I'd like to be closer just in case I may need him home in a hurry in case of an emergency. So we've been focusing our attention on the Fort Worth and outlying areas since that is where he is currently working. But, he hates his supervisor. Like would like to take him out in a fist fight kind of hates. And while his supervisor, we'll call him "Dang" since apparently that is actually his name, doesn't treat Vince poorly, he treats Vince's female co-workers so bad that Vince is just ready to take him out. Needless to say, Vince doesn't plan on staying there any longer than he has to. So the big question is, where will he end up, and therefore where should we end up? But putting all that aside, because as I said before, he doesn't mind a long commute for the right house/property we've been looking. And the good news is that I found a house that I thought may be a great compromise between me wanting a nice house, and him wanting some land. I found this house in Fort Worth, right off the lake (the next door neighbor has lake access from their backyard), on .90 acres. O-kay, not the ten acres he wanted, but not the 5 bedroom I wanted either. But life is all about compromise, right?

So here is the house. Pretty, no? 3,300 to 3,400 square feet. Not big by Texas standards, but definitely bigger than anything we've ever lived in. Nice size lot, in a quiet upscale area.

Cool porte-coche (drive through) entrance. Play sized swimming pool in the back yard which is separately gated from the rest of the back yard, for the kids safety. And the bonus was that is it a foreclosure so it can be had for a steal. Tax roll valued at $460K, but current asking price is $285K. Perfect, right? Yea, unfortunately, no. First off, the house looks great from the outside, but not so great from the inside. It just wasn't designed well. For a house of this size you would think it would have a formal dining room. Or at least an eat-in area of the kitchen that we could fit our table in. Second, the master bedroom was so narrow, we couldn't fit our queen size bed in comfortably. We'd have to switch to bunk-beds and push them up against the wall. I don't think Vince would ever agree to bunk-beds. For the kids maybe, but not for us. The other bedrooms just seemed small, and then the game-room was just weird. It's located above the garage, so you walk through this hallway, which is actually walking over the porte-coche. Which is fine because it's removed from the rest of the house, which equals noise reduction, which is always good. But is has a balcony, which is always nice, but instead of installing french doors or the like, it had this set of windows that is more like a garage door that is actually rigged to a set of tracks on either side and on the ceiling so the windows raise up and roll, like an actual garage door. It was just bizarre. And then there was the half bath in the game room. Just big enough for a toilet and a pedestal sink. But the sink was mounted into a barrel. A barrel like for aging chardonnay. Or the kind of barrel one of those rodeo clowns hide in to get away from a charging bull. So in order to get to the toilet, you have to suck it in, and ooch past this barrel just to get to the toilet, then stand beside the toilet, because you can't shut the door standing in front of the sink, just to go pee. And I don't know about you, but suck it in when I have to go pee? No, I don't think so. Oh, and there are windows in the Texas basement. That's the space under the stairs, which is the room you're supposed to go to when the storm sirens go off. Windows in my storm shelter? That's just stupid. I mean really, what's the point? So overall, it just wasn't the house for us. And I was so excited by what I saw on paper. So now I'm feeling a bit jaded, and the houses I look at on-line I find myself looking for their weakness. In the meantime I think we need to contact our landlord, because our lease is up the beginning of December, and I don't see us finding a house anytime soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's Vegas, Baby!

This time tomorrow I should be leaving for the airport for my flight to Las Vegas for the weekend. How did I get so lucky? My mom turned sixty on Wednesday, the 19th, so we're headed out for a celebratory weekend. And when I say "we", I mean "me". What better way to celebrate becoming officially old? Just kidding mom. And I must say, I'm making out mighty well for it being her birthday celebration. Since my birthday was on the 6th, my birthday gift from my mom is my ticket to Vegas, to celebrate her birthday. I'm not sure how that all works out, but I'm certainly not complaining. Tomorrow she is driving out with four of her friends, and I'll meet up with them there. They probably won't be arriving until around 6:00 pm and my flight gets in around 3:00 pm, so I'm going to have to find a way to kill some time. I'm sure that won't be a problem. Saturday will be filled with treatments at the spa, drinks by the pool, perhaps a bit of shopping, and a much anticipated dinner at Gallagher's at the New York New York. To say I can't wait, is a huge understatement. And as grateful as I am to my mom for this fun-filled weekend, I am equally as grateful to my wonderful husband. For who else would agree to watch the kids for the weekend, so I could go and have some girl fun? Got to go pack!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No Wonder I'm So Cranky All The Time

My past two Fridays nights have been spent in a sleep disorder clinic, being diagnosed for . . . you guessed it . . . a sleep disorder. After a couple of months of tossing and turning, being unable to fall asleep and being unable to stay asleep, I had had enough. I gave in and made a doctors appointment. I explained that I have never been a morning person anyway, but lately I have been unable to fall asleep, and wake several times during the night. I also explained our insurance nightmare and told him I was sure that had a lot to do with it. He referred me to a sleep disorder specialist and asked if I also wanted a referral to go see a counselor. (The last time I went to see a counselor it was because I was depressed because my cat died. I felt so silly, but I was 26 at the time and my cat was 13 when she died. So when you do the math, I had that cat half my life. Of course I was upset.) I declined the counselor explaining that I was sure once all this insurance crap gets straightened out, things would go back to normal. But I agreed to the sleep study. And I have to say the results were strangly satisfying. Since this is all new to me and I'm sure I'm getting some of this wrong, you can go here to learn anything you may want to know about sleep apnea or sleep studies. First of all I couldn't imagine being able to fall asleep in a strange place all hooked up to electrodes, but through the miracle of Ambien, I had no problems at all. In fact, I slept better there than I had been at home. Rozerem is useless by the way. The clinic is privately owned by the doctor, and it's like a hotel. Big lazy-boy chair in the corner in front of a big flat-screen TV on the wall. A table and chair in the other corner. A nice comfortable bed with lots of magazines on the nightstand. The only unsetteling part was the camera and microphone installed so the sleep tech could see and hear me all night. But after giving birth to four children I've pretty much lost any inhibitions when it comes to medical stuff. Pretty much. So after my first night, I had a follow-up appointment with the doctor a couple of days later. This was the satisfying part. He explained that there were three levels of sleep disturbances (at least this is how I remember it) 1. apnea - that's when you stop breathing all together for a given amount of time, 2. hypopneas - breathing is disturbed but doesn't stop, and 3. arrithmeas - the least severe of the three. During the night I only had one apnea, but I had 124 hypopneas and 146 arrithmeas. In one night. See? No wonder I'm such a crank. So they do some calculation and anything over a 5 is considered a sleep disorder. This calculation is explained here also. My number was 36. My three treatment options were a mouth piece thingy, a CPAP, or surgery. I opted for the CPAP. So back for a second night to get what pressure my CPAP should be set for. And I'm telling you that Ambien might as well be Rupies, because apparently the sleep tech had to put a chin strap on me in the middle of the night, and I have absolutely no memory of it. So my CPAP has been ordered, and I am anxiously awaiting it's arrival so I can start getting a decent night's sleep. In the meantime, I have my wonderful Ambien to comfort me.

On the other cranky-front, we met with the lawyer AAA hired for our Examination Under Oath yesterday. I think it went well, but you never know with these lawyer types. I only remembered specifically two of our friends coming over to help Vince load the extra heavy stuff into the trailer, but Vince remembered one of their wifes coming too (also a friend). So that is the only contradiction we could find in what we told him. And since I went to my mom's house with the kids, and Vince stayed behind to finish packing up the trailer, she might have been there when I wasn't. So it's no big deal, it's just stuck in my brain for something to worry about. Because I need something to worry about, don't you know.

My silver lining? I've lost 12 pounds. Weight Watchers never worked this well.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Happy 1st Birthday Francesca!

As usual, I cannot believe that a year has passed since one of my children was born. It has been an eventful, stressful and sometimes hectic year, but her birthday celebration was low key.

It was just a normal day, filled with school work, and a doctors appointment. More on that later.

I made her a dinner of chicken teriyaki, soy-ginger glazed baby bok choy and snow peas, and sticky rice. For dessert a dark chocolate cake with white chocolate mousse.

She started off dainty enough, with just a small taste here, and a little bit there.

She gave her fork a try.

Then all pretense was out the window, and she had a good time.

And one gift to open, which I didn't think she'd quite "get", but she did.

She had fun peaking into the package, and finally pulling out the contents, then "trying on" her new outfit.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why I Hate Insurance Companies

It's been a while since I've posting anything, and honestly it's because I've just been too angry. Too angry to just settle down and coherently write anything down. I lie in bed at night with conversations running though my head. I make up comebacks and zingers in case I should ever speak to one of the mentally incompetent people that work for our insurance company ever again. The reason for my anger? For starters, it has been over eight months since our moving trailer, which contained the majority of our household items, was stolen and we have not seen a cent from our insurance company. To make matters worse, our claims adjuster (I call her "that placenta woman" since her last name is very much like the word placenta) is a total moron. And in all this time, she has done all of nothing to settle our claim. Nothing, except to turn our claim over to the insurance companies lawyer for questioning. Yes, we were robbed and we are the one being treated like criminals. She ignores our e-mails and phone messages, and we have to tell her the same things over and over again, because apparently her skull is as thick as a brick wall. Her supervisor also ignores our calls, and the only reason he finally returned one of our calls was because I called the office and asked to speak to a manager. When the receptionist told me I could get the claim adjuster's supervisors number off her voice mail message, and I explained that we had already left four unreturned messages for him, she said "oh . . . yea let me find out who you need to speak to and I'll call you back". Well, the receptionist never called me back, and the manager never called me back, but suddenly the supervisor was calling Vince on his cell phone. The next thing we know we're getting a call from a pompous, self-important "Special Investigator" here in the Dallas area. He informed Vince that "you will come down to be questioned and you will answer those questions separately". That didn't go over too well with Vince to say the least. But I figured, hey, if they want me to come down to their lovely offices with my four loud and rowdy kids to question me for a couple of hours, then let them try. I hope they have a large supply of Excedrine in that office, because I will be giving my kids a short vacation from all sorts of behavior expectations and discipline. Of course "pompous and self-important" could not be bothered to call me back to confirm our meeting, so when I called I was told that he was a very busy man and hadn't had time to get around to booking the conference room yet. He'd let me know. He never did. Vince had to contact him to find out that our claim has been sent over to the companies lawyer, who will contact us to set up a meeting time. But the lawyer just had open heart surgery, so we're not sure when he'll be feeling up to taking statements just yet. And the thing is that we're not dealing with some rinky-dink fly-by-night no-name insurance company here. We're dealing with AAA. I've filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and have the forms to file complaints with the Texas and California Insurance Commissioners but I'm hoping Vince will just take care of those because I'm just to burnt to fight anymore. So lately I've been living on the edge. Unfairly short tempered with my kids, and unable to sleep at night. So today I went to the doctor and he gave me some Rozerem to try. Hopefully my bed-time conversations will cease, and I'll be able to get some rest. The good part is that I've been too upset to eat and have lost a good five pounds. Always a silver lining, right?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Let Me Just Clarify A Few Things

So according to my last post, you must all think I just abhor being at home with my kids. And yes, I won't deny that somethings I have only one nerve left and they can twang it like a banjo string, but that doesn't change the fact that I wouldn't have it any other way.

First, I actually do enjoy being at home with my kids. I enjoy running errands with them, reading to them, watching movies with them. Having the older ones help me in the kitchen to prep dinner. And usually it's quicker without their "help", but it's quality time. Annamaria always bustles over and "helps" me put away the dishes from the dishwasher every morning. And really, who else could put up with Harrison all day, every day? I don't get extended periods of "me time", but I get a little here and there. A couple hours when Vince is out and kids are asleep in bed. A "Girls Night Out" with some friends. And I've been lucky enough for a weekend or two in Vegas with my mom, which I always thoroughly enjoy. But I don't have a need to escape or "get away" from my kids.

Second, I'm grateful to not have to pack my kids off to daycare every day. I'm proud that none of my kids have had to endure daycare for even one day. And I know there are some good ones out there, but I'm just not that trusting when it comes to my kids. Fifty to sixty hours a week is just too much time to be in someone else's care. And if I did work (outside the home, because let's face it, this is no vacation), I'd just have to turn around and hand over my paycheck to the daycare providers anyway. What's the point? And my kids hardly ever get sick. They're not bringing home every little germ and sniffle to pass on and spread around. The incidence of sickness greatly increased in our house when Sophia started attending school at St. Mary's.

Third, I'm very very grateful that I don't have to schlep off to some office or lab everyday, deal with traffic, a hellish commute, and spend the majority of my day with a bunch of people I would really rather not associate with if given the choice. I can watch "The Office" and laugh, because I don't have to live it anymore. I don't have to play office politics, or deal with the socially inept. All of their insecurities, power trips, and arrogance. Not that I'm excluding myself from those attributes, but now no one has to put up with mine either. Except my kids. And if I worked (outside the home) all day, I'd have to come home and fix dinner, do laundry, and clean the house anyway. Honestly, I don't know how all those working moms get it all done.

Fourth, I enjoying home schooling Sophia. And I plan to continue to do so until it's not working. For either her or me. I do not have set plans for how long that may be. We'll play it by ear. But for now, it's working out great. I do want her to have the experience of attending school, especially the High School years can be so much fun. But for now, she's just too impressionable, and has this need to be accepted. Unfortunately she doesn't always pick the nicest girls that she wants that acceptance from. I'm sure when she's a little older, and has a better sense of herself she'll have a more discriminating palate when it comes to choosing her friends. At least I hope she will. I would like to avoid the public school system in at least the elementary level, if not in Junior High too. We'll see where we are when it's time for High School to make that decision. And as far as private school goes, it's a mixed bag. She had the best teacher/experience ever in kindergarten, but 1st grade was a complete waste. And $500 a month is just too much money to be wasting with sub par teachers and standards that are not kept. We're friends with a few couples out here who send their kids to the Catholic school, and to be honest, I'm not all that impressed with their kids behavior either. I can home school for $500 for the entire year, versus $500 a month. And the next time someone makes derogatory remarks about home schooling, I have just the piece of paper to wave under their nose. Sophia got her California Achievement Test results back, and she kicked ass! My child scored in the 99Th percentile. She rocked with a 100%. 220 questions, all answered correctly. 220 baby! And this was not some subjective score that I assigned her based on what I observed. This was a standardized, #2 pencil, fill in the bubble test that was submitted for scoring. And her final report card for the year contained one B+ in a sea of A's and A+'s. And that one B+ was in Handwriting, a grade that I assigned her. ( I just thought she could do better if she would not be so lazy. Hey, I'm a tough teacher, I have high standards.) So music, PE, and handwriting grades were assigned by me. Every other grade was based on class work, and quarter tests that were submitted for scoring. She earned her grades based on her own hard work and effort. And I think that CAT score stands on it's own. The proof is in the pudding. (Can you tell those disparaging remarks really frosted my muffins?)

So yes, there are sacrifices. And it's not all wine and roses. We don't have an unending working budget, and we don't take fancy vacations to far off and exotic locations, but we're happy. We're well fed, clothed, have access to much entertainment, and a roof over our heads. So the next time I'm griping, it's just that. I'm just griping. And since I'm at home all day, and don't have to worry about that drive home, I can always start drinking early in the day if I feel the need. It's always happy hour somewhere, right? Just kidding! I usually wait until at least 3pm. Ha ha, just kidding again. Sea breeze anyone?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

This Sucks Much More Than I Remembered

O-kay, so this stay-at-home mom thing is not what I remembered. Maybe it's because it's been a year and a half since I've been home alone with the kids. Maybe it's that I was also catering, so I had much more to do to fill my days. Maybe it's that I now have four kids, versus just the three a year and a half ago. Maybe it's because we're in a new area and I know all of five people in a thirty mile radius. Four of which are currently in California on vacation. Bastards. Maybe it's a combination of any of the above factors. I'm not sure, but one thing I am sure of is that I'm bored.
Vince's first day back at work, I tackled the house like some kind of clean freak. Which anyone who knows me, knows I'm not. But I can only clean the house so much. And it all seems kind of pointless, this endless tidying, because within ten minutes the kids have messed it up again anyway.
It hot here. And yes, it was hot in California too, but it's also humid. Yucky humid. Like, can't even last ten minutes outside kind of humid. So I really don't blame the kids for not wanting to go outside to play. We have a pool. But 1 me + 4 kids does not = pool safety. They're just too young to handle all four by myself at a pool.
I've set some ground rules: no breakfast by 9am means no breakfast. Eat lunch when it's offered, because if you don't you'll have to wait for dinner. No excessive TV. Quiet time during the babies naps. And so far, they've all been fairly compliant. I think I sound like a nazi though. I mean, where's the fun? It is summer afterall. I bought Sophia, Harrison and Annamaria each a new box of crayons, a fresh pad of drawing paper, and Sophia and Harrison got watercolor paint sets too. Something for them to do during the imposed "quiet time". We have legos, duplos, barbies, puzzles, little people, train sets and numerous other toys. But I think the most fun they have is just making a great big mess of the playroom upstairs. And even though I am constantly suggesting that once they're done with one thing, they put it away before dragging out something else, the suggestion just doesn't seem to catch on. I can't blame them. I remember my mom complaining about not being able to see my floor in my room when I was a kid, so why would I expect anything better? It's grandparents revenge I'm sure. I do make everyone get dressed and fix their bed every morning though. Gasp! My mom must think she's reading the wrong blog right now. And their rooms actually are quite tidy. Vince enforces the cleaning up of the play room each night before bed, so from 8pm until 8am that room is pretty cleaned up too. Oh, so where was I? Oh yea, I'm bored. If blogging about how I make my kids pick their crap up is the most interesting thing I can come up with, I must be really be desperate for some input here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

At Last At Last, A Job At Last!

One year and seven months is a long time to not have a job. I'm happy to report the unemployment streak is over. Today is the first day of Vince's new job. He got an analytical position at a small pharmaceutial company in Fort Worth. Not really his specialty, but you know what? Who cares, it's a job. And the best part is that they waived the ninety day waiting period so our benefits start immediately. Dentist appointments for everyone!

So now it's just me and the four kids. Four kids and me, all day long. Just me to change diapers, fix breakfast and lunch, put the young ones down for nap time and keep the older ones quiet. Me and four kids running errands, going grocery shopping, keeping busy. I'm sure this will help me appreciate all that Vince did while he was home. But, I've got to go now, I've called a "family meeting" with the kids to try and break them in on how things are going to change around here. Hopefully some of it will sink in.

A job! It's about freaking time!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

He's Gone

He's gone. He backed up his truck, a bag, and drove away. And what's more he took a couple of my kids with him. I'm on my own. Just me and the babies. To do the shopping, pay the bills, clean the house, sleep alone and make sure the house is locked up at night. So why is it these words keeping ringing through my head?

Cel-e-brate good times come on. Doo doo doo do do do woo hoo hoohoo. Cel-e-brate good times, come on. Doo doo doo do do do do do.

An extended set of "me time". Vince took the kids camping for a couple of days. And while I'm not looking forward to getting up early with Annamaria and Francesca (Vince always lets me sleep in and takes care of the babies in the morning), will miss my cup of coffee he always brings me in bed (you mean I have to make it myself?), and hate being solely responsible for the safety of my children in the middle of the night, there are some perks. 1) I can watch all the crappy TV I love to watch without Vince making scoffing noises. Sex and the City, The Girls Next Door, The Soup on E!, Scrubs (he actually likes Scrubs but thinks JD and Turk act too gay). 2) I can eat anything I want, anytime I want without anybody asking me if I'm going to record that on my Weight Watchers points. 3) I can stay up as late as I want reading Harry Potter books without feeling guilty about the light disturbing his sleep. But there are many negatives too. 1) Mostly I actually enjoy his company. 2) I don't like being alone in the house at night. If I had a dog or a cat to keep me company once the babies were in bed I'd feel better. 3) I stay up waaay too late reading Harry Potter books because I'm uncomfortable turning off the last light to go to sleep. My imagination is just too active sometimes.

So it's a quarter to midnight, I'm going to give up on the companionship of the television and the computer and see how much Harry Potter it takes before I give up, turn off the light, and try to get some sleep.

Monday, July 16, 2007

My 20 Year High School Reunion

Way back in November-ish of 2006, I received a post card to "Save The Date" of my upcoming 20 Year High School Reunion. I admit, I was intrigued. Shocked even that twenty years has passed. This must be a mistake, certainly twenty years of my life cannot have passed me by without my notice.

Maybe it was the fact that our house was selling and we had three weeks to get out of dodge, maybe the added fact that I had a two month old in addition to my other three children to care for, maybe it was that fact that I was (am) in denial about being old enough to have a twenty year reunion. Maybe it was "whatever", but I tossed the postcard and got on with life. Jump ahead about six months, and I find myself in Texas, knowing five other people outside my immediate family, and trying to adjust to my new life in my new surroundings. Then I remember that post card and look up the info on the internet. And the site is great. I can post a profile, look up old year book photos, read other people's profiles, so I registered with the site, and after much debate posted a profile. A short little blip of info on what my life has been about over the past twenty years. Try to keep it light, emphasize the positives. Can anyone really let people know who they are today in a couple sentences? If anyone bothered to read my profile, would they really care anyway? Would they even remember who I was?

I still cannot believe it's been twenty years. I decided right away not to attend. For a few reasons, but mainly my justification was that I haven't kept in touch with a soul. Not one person can I still call "friend". And I realize that friendship is a two-way street, so I'm not placing blame. I'm just saying. I still have a couple friends from college that I'm in contact with. And had a great handful of friends from California, most of which I owe a e-mail or a phone call. Also, did I really want to shell out a few hundred bucks to go see a bunch of people I haven't had anything to do with for the past twenty years or so? Honestly, when I read the names of people that responded I couldn't for the life of me remember most of them. I thought a face would jog my memory better than a list of names. I've never been good with names, but faces I remember. So looking at the old year book photos, I still found myself unable to remember most people. Was high school so tramatic that I blocked out a great portion of my memory of it? It is early Altzheimer's? So strange to think, I spent at least four years of life with these people and I'm having a hard time even recognizing their faces. And if I'm having this hard of time, why would I expect any of them to remember me. And thinking back to high school, I never was part of the "in" crowd. And our school was so clique-ish. And I don't feel I ever fit into any particular category. I felt so alienated by the fact that I wasn't accepted by so many people because I 1) didn't buy the right brand of clothes, 2) wasn't sporty, 3) wasn't pretty enough, 4) wasn't smart enough, the list goes on and on.

Then, if I'm being honest, maybe I'm just not where I thought I'd be in twenty years. Not that I could picture myself twenty years into the future. I remember in elementary school, the millenium was twenty years away. And our teacher asked us where we thought we'd be in twenty years. I could not even picture myself at the age of thirty. No idea what I'd be doing, what I'd look like, etc. I've never been able to have an idea, a plan, an expectation. But looking up some old classmates I've found out they're lawyers, some own their own businesses, some live in over million dollar homes, and really, I just can't compete. Don't get me wrong, I know I could be doing worse, but I also know I could be doing better. I'm a loyal friend, a great wife, a good cook, and I love my kids ferociously. But part of me always feels that I could have accomplished so much more by this point in my life.

Out of probably morbid curiosity more than anything else, I joined the Yahoo groups site for my reunion. Again, great to see who was linked in. Got to look at the photos people posted of themselves today, with their spouses and children. Yet I cannot sum up the courage to post any myself. I think my children are gorgeous, (if I do say so myself) and I'm proud of my husband. So I have a couple (few) grey hairs, and my pant size is bigger than I'd like it to be, but give me a break. I've had four children and my youngest is less than a year old. I'm working on it. Plus there is the added burden of loving to cook, and loving to eat. But it's not like I'm huge, I'm just not the same size I was in high school. But really, who is? And if you are, I just don't think I want to know. And am I so shallow that even I am judging myself by my physical appearance? And if that is my hang up, why would I expect any better than anyone else? But if I wasn't accepted back then, why would I expect them to accept me now, regardless of my pant size. And if I've grown and matured wouldn't they have too? But I can picture myself, showing up at the reunion, being snubbed by the same people that snubbed me twenty years ago. And really, I just don't have the time or the patience for that crap. And most of all, why do I care? If I can't even be bothered to keep in touch with any of them, why would I care what they thought today?

In another reality I can picture a reunion full of happy and accepting faces. Everyone getting along, everyone having a good time. I think deep down I would really like to go, and have that happy fairy tale of a reunion. But life is not a fairy tale, so why would I expect my reunion to be?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Because I'm Obsessed, More Harry Potter

I was confirming the release date of the next Harry Potter book on Amazon, and got sucked in to looking at other Harry Potter stuff when I saw this chat forum discussing, what else, Harry Potter. There was a question posted as to whether Snape was a friend or foe, and that led to another post of Snape being a riddle or a Riddle. This person came up with quite an elaborate and well thought out story of Snape's background. Although it doesn't answer the question of whether Snape is a friend or foe, and can be complete hogwash since it wasn't from Rowling herself, but I thought it was interesting anyway.

"Eileen Prince and Tom Riddle were at Hogwarts together. Tom was dark and handsome. Eileen was the homely Captain of the Gobstone Team. She was smitten with Tom's good looks and his popularity. But Tom paid her no attention.After graduation, Tom was working for Borgin & Burkes, bumping off old ladies and stealing their junk when one day, he bumped into Eileen Prince. She was stilll homely but at least she was young and an easy mark. He lured her into the bushes for a bit of the old slap and tickle. Then Tom Riddle disappeared.Poor Eileen realized she was pregnant. To quell the gossips, she married the first muggle to walk past her door. His name was Tobias Snape. Tobias realized that Eileen's parents had a few pounds sterling and decided it might be a good arrangement. He marries Eiileen and they have a baby who they name Severus. However, things turn ugly when Tobias finds out that Eileen is really a witch and the only money her parents have is magical money which is no good in the muggle world. Tobias is a bully and a drunk. He goes out one night for a pint at the local pub and is never heard from again.Severus grows up thinking his father is Tobias Snape. He goes to Hogwarts and joins the Death Eaters. That's when Eileen tells her son The Secret: Severus real father is Tom Riddle Jr., also known as, Voldemort (audible gasp). The only other person Eileen tells her secret to is Albus Dumbledore. No one else knows"

Obviously I'm not as obsessed as I thought I was. At least not compared to others.

It Must Be Genetic

Seems I'm not the only one who gets excited about the arrival of a new Dean & Deluca catalog . . .

"Do I dare look? It just seems such a tease. I guess a girl can dream."

"Oh, I can't wait to see what's new. It makes me happy just thinking about it."

"It all looks so good, I can almost taste it. Too bad it's not a scratch and lick!"

"Hey, Mom? Did you see? Regional oysters, flown in fresh. Oysters on the half. Oysters on the half!"

"Now, leave me alone and let me salivate in peace."

She's a girl after my own heart.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Sound of Silence

What is this I'm hearing? Could it be, nothing? Not a sound. Not a peep. Not a cry, whine, or any other normal background noise. It is silence. And it is wonderful!
Vince took Sophia and Harrison to a store he is in search of. And the good news is that the store is somewhere between here and Ft. Worth. So they'll be gone for a while.
Annamaria is down for a nap. And so is Francesca. So that just leaves me. Me and no noise. No radio, no television, no DVD's, no noisy toys. No one asking for juice. Or whining for something, but I'm not knowing what because they are not using their words. No one leaving their dishes on the table. No one leaving their drinks with ice melting sitting in the family room.
Ahhh, the quiet.
Should I go read? Take a nap? Fold some laundry? Tidy up a bit? The possibilities are just about endless.
I made a batch of Coconut Rum Ice Cream earlier. Maybe it's cold enough to add to the ice cream maker now. But that would make noise, so maybe I'll wait. I could always pop in a Harry Potter movie. And actually get to watch it undisturbed. Lie on the couch, with the volume down low. Sounds like just the thing. I think I'll do that. After I sit here and enjoy a few more moments of silence.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Movies To Avoid

Unless you like being depressed.
Now this is your warning, I'm going to totally blow any suprise, twist, "didn't see that coming", or whatever talking about these movies. So if you haven't yet seen The Dead Girl or Bridge to Terabithia and plan on seeing them, consider yourself warned. Don't come complaining to me that I ruined the movie for you, I'm just saying.

The Dead Girl. Now I didn't expect some lighthearted whimsical cute romantic comedy from a title like The Dead Girl, but this movie was just depressing. Yes, it was interesting, and yes, it was well acted. But it was so depressing. It was just too real. I kept thinking that things like this happen in real life. There really are people out there that are that pathetic, stupid, messed up. And I'm not talking about one character, but several characters in this movie. And I got angry and fustrated that this stupid woman, who was the wife of the murderer. She went and burned all the evidence! Completely destroyed any evidence from the victims that she found her husband was hiding. And maybe, just maybe, if she had this wonderful marriage and he was sweet and good to her, maybe I could see her trying to protect him. Maybe. But he was a complete ass, and she was a total nag, and they so were not happy. What exactly was she doing? Saving her miserable life? Ugh. She just made herself an accomplice. And what about the families of the victims that would never get closure? Did she even stop to think about them? Probably not. The only good part about the movie was that the daughter of the dead girl was saved by the mother of the deal girl. Then it made me sad to think that there are children out there that are totally lost in the system. Taken very poor care of by their "foster" homes. Neglected, malnourished, etc. It was just too sad. And very depressing.

The Bridge to Terabithia. So the next day, Vince and I sat down to watch this movie he rented for the kids. We thought something more fun and lighthearted would be nice. I never read the book, and only slightly knew what the story was about. I read the back of the DVD case and thought all was good. It has a little boy who befriends a cute little girl who is new to town. And she's so cute, and spunky, and a nice person. And I'm really liking this movie, and thinking it was a good choice for the kids. So the movie is well on its way, we're about 2/3rds through it, and it was cute and enjoyable. . . then . . . the little girl dies. She dies! She drowned trying to cross the creek to get to "Terebithia"! Why didn't I see this coming? There were clues, how could I be so dim? Vince looks at me and says he now has a knot in his stomach. I'm crying. Sophia is crying. And I don't care that the movie ended with the little boy being nice to his little sister, and letting her in on his secret place. Because, well, the little girl dies! And little girls do die. It happens all the time. It's been raining here just about every night, and there have been floods. And just the day before I heard that the floods washed out this trailer house, and the mother was fine but they found the body of her five year-olddaughter, but her two year-old daughter was still missing. Then the news woman went on to report that another trailer house was washed out and a woman had her two year-old daughter swept right out of her arms. I can't even imagine. And this is why I usually don't watch the news. Or watch depressing movies.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Since I'm a foodie, and I show my love and appreciation by cooking for those I love and appreciate that's how I spent my Father's Day. In the kitchen. I did have time to watch Jumanji with Vince and the kids before dinner, but the rest of the time was spent prepping and cooking. I'm not complaining, I'm just explaining my lack of Father's Day details. The day started with Mass, followed by a quick brunch of grilled porterhouse (one shared by all of us), fried eggs, hash browns and toast. After cleaning up brunch, I started my foccacia, then the prepping of our dinner. Now first of all, I'm not much of a photographer, and second, I'm really missing my Macy's Cellar bistro white dinnerware that was stolen when we moved out here. We're using plates a friend of a friend gave us to use when we moved in here. And while I'm appreciative and they get the job done, they're just not my taste. But whatever, the dinner menu consisted of fresh baking foccacia. Yes, I know, baking in the summer, but it was Father's Day so I made what was requested. Also we had . . .
Ahi Poke

Arugula and Warm Scallop Salad with Spicy Pecan Praline

Crab and Avocado Towers

Blackened Ahi with Soy-Mustard Sauce

We also had individual Chocolate Souffle cakes with Vanilla-Bean Ice Cream for dessert. No pictures though. I was too busy eating.

Of course I woke up hungry this morning after stretching out my stomach with copious amounts of food yesterday. But back on that Weight Watchers wagon today.

And what did we do for Mother's Day? Took the kids to Cold Stone for ice cream and picked up a pizza on the way home. Ah, the good life!

Monday, June 11, 2007

It's a Buyers Market

I have three friends, in three different states, and each are in a selling-their-house nightmare. Well, maybe not a nightmare, but definetly not having a good time. My friends in Oregon have already missed out on one house they had a contingent offer on and very few lookers on theirs. My friends in Washington are playing the "show the house and wait" game, and with a two year old and a four month old. And our friends in Texas are expecting their sixth (SIXTH!) child in October, and have missed out on one expired contingent offer while they wait for prospective buyers for their house. And the bummer is that they have a beautiful big house, and are downsizing for financial reasons. And all I can think is "better them than me", because the experience from selling our house in California is still too raw for me. Not that I don't feel bad for them, because I certainly do. I know exactly what each of them are going through. I was pregnant when we put our house on the market, we were still showing the house when being "pregnant" became "post-partum", and selling the house very much became about financial reasons towards the end. I was saying prayers every day for seven months that our house would sell. First I would ask that our house sell "soon", then "by the end of this month", then "by the end of this week". Every day, a prayer to St. Joseph, a prayer to St. Anthony (I figured our buyer must be lost), and a prayer to St. Jude (for helpless cases). Now I'm saying prayers to the same saints, but this time for Vince to find good employment. We're in our sixth month here, and my prayers have gone from "soon", to "by the end of this month", to "by the end of this week", to "Now!". And if my prayers would be answered, we'd be able to take advantage of this buyer's market.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Little Trouble Sleeping

So last night I went to bed at my usual time, around 11pm, and read until Vince came to bed, around midnight. Vince falls asleep just about as soon as his head hits the pillow. I on the other hand usually take a little bit longer to fall asleep. But by the time 1:30am rolled around, I thought my not falling asleep was getting ridiculous, and decided to try to pass the time until I felt sleepy. So onto the internet I go. Checked my e-mail, read some blogs, and started Google-ing some people. Old coworkers, friends, old classmates. I kept this up until 4am. My eyes were tired, probably from staring at the computer, but my brain was not. But I headed back to bed anyway to give it another shot. Finally, I fell asleep somewhere between 5 and 5:30am. Ridiculous. I can happily say this isn't exactly normal for me, but unfortunately this isn't rare either. It's very frustrating, not being able to sleep. Because you know the kids aren't going to let me sleep during the day. And even if they did let me get in a nap, that would mean I wouldn't be able to fall asleep tonight again anyway.

So since my brain is not functioning properly from sleep deprivation, and I have nothing more interesting to share, and I've been low on photo posts . . .
Francesca caught up in one of Annamaria's birthday balloons. But she's o-kay with that.

Annamaria, the birthday princess.

Annamaria, very happy with the all the birthday clothes from Grandma Dee Dee.

Sophia excited to leave for her 1st Communion Mass.

Sophia, so proud after her 1st Communion.

And a picture of Harrison, because I just can't leave him out. See how proud he is of his dinosaur tie.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Little Me Time

My husband is out on a date tonight. Our friend, Jack, called earlier and asked if he'd like to go see the newest Spiderman movie tonight. This made Vince so happy. We're in a new town and barely know anyone, but he has a buddy. Made him feel good. Jack's wife, my friend Katrina, is back in California for the week for work. So Katrina's mom flew out here to help Jack out with their three sons. Looks like Jack is taking advantage of the help and slipped out for a movie. So while my husband is having his guys night out, I'm getting a little me time. Me, me, me. And I don't begrudge his going out at all. I get girl's nights out quite frequently, thanks to Katrina. And I can't tell you how long it's been since I've had a little peace and quiet. Vince put the kids to bed before he left, and after much fighting it, Francesca finally fell asleep. So it's just me, my Harry Potter movie and the laundry. Well, the whites have been folded already so just one load left to fold. My movie is almost over, so I think I'm headed to bed to re-read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In much anticipation of the final Harry Potter book and next movie, both due out in July in case you were living under a rock or something, I'm re-reading all the books for a fourth time. Vince suggested I read something new, but I can't. I can't wait until July, and it's holding me over until then. So I'm going to go enjoy the silence while I can.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Blog Slacker

So it's a quarter past midnight, and I should really be getting to bed, but I'm feeling bad about not posting anything lately. I get such enjoyment from checking the blogs I read on a daily basis, I figured I should contribute too. So a quick update on what has been going on around here lately, and I promise to expand more later.

We celebrated Annamaria's 2nd birthday yesterday. Just the family, but are having friends over on Sunday for a second little celebration in her honor.

Francesca is rolling over, and rolling all over, sitting up, cut her bottom front teeth a couple of weeks ago, and cut her top front teeth just today.

Sophia had her first reconciliation yesterday (after her sister's birthday dinner) in preparation for her 1st Holy Communion next Saturday. We will also be celebrating with friends after the mass. She is sooooo excited.

Harrison is still a major pain in the butt. I don't know if it's just a boy thing, he's autistic, has ADHD or what. But he's been potty trained now since January, and that's including overnight without protection. So he can't be all bad.

Vince is still looking for employment, but is now working with a career consulting firm called SASI. I don't know if it's a complete waste of time or not yet, but at least it's giving him something to do in the meantime.

I joined Weight Watchers On-line last week in desperation to loose some of this extra Texas-ness of my butt. Lost a whole one pound in my first week. Not real inspiring since my weight can fluxuate by about 4 pounds on a daily basis anyway, but I'm sticking with it. For now at least. We'll see how it goes. One day at a time right?

And it's so humid here I feel like I'm living under water. And that of course is causing my and Sophia's hair to look like we've been scared really badly. But maybe it was the numbers coming up on my bathroom scale that is making my hair look this way. And Sophia? Maybe it's because she's knows she's my mini-me and is fearing for the future of her cute little figure.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This is What Easter Looks Like At Our House

Francesca wasn't left out either, she just happened to be asleep when this picture was taken, but we caught up with her later. . .

Daddy gets dibs on all her Easter goodies.

Holy Week started out busy at our house. I gave Sophia the week off for her Spring Break, but there were Easter Cookies to be baked. We were invited to a friends house for Easter and I planned on bringing them a basket of Easter cookies, so I had a plan.
Monday I baked Decorated Shortbread Cookies and Iced Lemon Shortbread Fingers. The kids had a good time decorating their own cookies. I really should do that more often.

Even Annamaria got into it.

I received a Dean & Deluca catalog in the mail a bit ago, I love their stuff. They were selling decorated Easter cookies that were so cute. But they were so expensive. Something like $55 for 1/2 pound of cookies. Ridiculous, so we just made our own. We had rabbit cookies, carrot cookies, sheep, eggs, and butterflies. So much fun.

Tuesday I made part 1 of Marguerites, sugar cookie bases smeared with jam then topped with a meringue, Apricot Almond Bars, and Sesame Seed Wafers. Wednesday it was Fudgewiches part 1, and Apricot Sandwich Tea Cakes, part 1. Thursday was Almond Sweethearts and Praline Meringue Puffs. Friday found me making Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons and New York Black & Whites. Finally on Saturday I made the fudge for the Fudgewiches and filled those, made the meringue for the Marguerites, topped them and finished those, and filled the Apricot Sandwich Tea Cakes. I was going to make two more types of cookies on Saturday but pooped out. I brought the biggest tray of cookies I could find to our friends house on Easter. Vince kept calling me a Whack-a-doodle. I also made a Salmon Torte. So maybe I am a Whack-a-doodle. But I love Easter. Of course I forgot to take a picture of the basket of cookies before we left the house.

On Saturday we also decorated Easter eggs. Annamaria was under the impression that the egg dye was some type of yummy drink. Until she actually got away with a taste. I think the vinegar spiked water didn't appeal to her. But they had a great time none the less.
And yes, Sophia is wearing a Target bag over her shirt. She's getting too big for the cobblers my grandma made them to protect their clothes.

On Sunday we went to mass as usual, then came home, put the goodies together and headed over to our friends house. We had a massive egg hunt at their house, there were a dozen kids, and over 200 eggs. O-kay, so a third of those kids were mine, but that's still a lot of kids. And everyone had a good time.

Our friends had ham, another couple brought the potatoes, someone else brought the green bean casserole, and another some desserts. Of course I had to buy a ham too, especially since it was on sale, so we had our own post-Easter dinner last night. Now I just have to say something about the green bean casserole. I just don't get it. Why is it, that just about everyone serves the gloppy, pastey, goopy, tasteless green bean casserole? It seems to be tradition, and I know this "dish" is on millions of tables every Thanksgiving and Easter. But shouldn't something at least be good to be merited as "tradition"? Shouldn't it be something that you can at least look forward to eating? Canned green beans and condensed soup mix?


First of all canned green beans aren't any good anyway. I know, I know. I'm a snob, I grew up in a house of homemade, from scratch cooking, but just bear with me. Frozen green beans are just as easy to prepare as canned and so much better. Better looking and better nutrition I'm sure. I'm not such a snob that I don't resort to frozen when fresh aren't in season. And I certainly would never complain when in someone else's house about what is on the table, but I'm not about to serve something to my family or friends that could be used to seal envelopes. So when planning my post-Easter dinner I found a recipe for Green Bean Casserole that didn't involve anything premade, prepackaged, or condensed. And you know what? It was soooooo much better. And I felt good about my kids eating it. Which they did, with gusto. Now I'm not saying it was low-cal, but at least I knew what was in it. And it wasn't gray, and it didn't look like a failed science experiment. So to all of you whom I've offended because you love the "traditional" Green Bean Casserole, I'm sorry. But for those of you who would like to try something better, let me know, I'll send you the recipe.

O-kay, enough about my rant about preprocessed Green Bean Casserole. This was supposed to be about Easter, not bad food. My husband just pointed out that I'm still wearing the bunny ears I got for Annamaria for Easter. I put them on over an hour ago, and forgot they were still on my head. I bet the neighbors were laughing when I went out to check for the mail.

We both have a mouth full of Easter chocolate, like mother, like daughter.