Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Like Dominoes

If you are a mom, I am sure what I am about to say will resonate with you no matter if you have one child or five children. When you get a busy stretch of days, routine housework gets put on hold, and before you know it you are living in downright chaos. After nine years of parenthood, I am still amazed by this fact. I sometimes look around and think, "wasn't this house clean like two days ago?" 

After a busy birthday/holiday-prep weekend, our house had exploded in mess, disorganization and piles of laundry. Usually if I go even one day without doing at least one load of laundry, it's like setting the falling dominoes in motion. I decided that since all three kids were in school today, I was going to put a whopping on the mess and get things back under control. 

Here's a riviting list of some of my tasks accomplished today:

--Six loads of laundry done. Washed, folded and put away. Bam.
--Two loads of dishes washed and put away. Like a boss.
-- Crusty cat vomit cleaned off of Hannah's comforter (Gross, I know. It skipped by me! Ellie sleeps on her bed every day and night. It's clean now). Got anything else to throw at me?
-- Two bowls of crusted on the top, soggy underneath bowls of cereal dumped and scraped. 
-- Puppy poop cleaned off my scarf. Double, extra gross. I had hastily thrown my scarf on a chair today. It slid to the floor and while my kids were supposed to be keeping am eye on her as I cooked dinner, she decided to relieve her bowels. On my scarf! Officially done with cleaning animal messes!
-- Mooped the kitchen floor. Holla!
-- Vacuumed the whole house. Oh yeah!
--Emptied the trash. High five!
--Managed to play with the kids and cook dinner for the Fam. Super mom (I am not, but sort of felt like it.)

I know there are no mommy awards out there (and many days I do not earn one at all!), but today I kind of wish I had a ribbon or something. It was a long hard day, but I think all my dominoes are upright and ready to go again.

Monday, December 16, 2013

9th Birthday

 Happy 9th Birthday, Hannah and Leah.
May you always hold each other's hand.
And tell each other secrets

And giggle together

And act goofy

And know that you are forever loved.

 What a gift you both are-- yesterday, today and always.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Slumber Party

My girls turn 9 on Monday, the 16th. This is halfway to 18 and I can't even talk about that without tearing up! So for their party this year we told them they could invite three friends over for a slumber party. Oh my. Did I just say slumber party? My own person memories of slumber parties in elementary school are kind of wild. I remember there being a lot of girls, little parent supervision, watching movies that I wasn't allowed to watch like Dirty Dancing, lip synching to Nasty Boys by Janet Jackson, staying up all night and freezing each others' panties (while your friend is asleep steal their undies out of their bag, get them wet and stick them in the freezer. They will be frozen solid in the morning). 

Um....our version tonight is a much more tame, G-rated kind of slumber party. Pizza, charades, cupcakes, and a movie (Despicable Me 2). So far all the girls are getting along great and are having fun giggling and just hanging out together. I'll give a full pictorial update tomorrow, but here's a quick glance from my camera phone!

         "We're here and we're excited!"
            "Happy Birthday to You!"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cherry Winks

Tomorrow is our annual Christmas party at the gym where I teach.  After class we always have treats, and we usually do some sort of Dirty Santa gift exchange. Unfamiliar with Dirty Santa? I will quickly explain. If you already know, skip to the next paragraph. Dirty Santa involves bringing gifts and writing down numbers on pieces of paper according to however many gifts are up for grabs. For example, 15 people brought 15 gifts, so numbers 1-15 are written down and placed in a bowl or jar. Everyone draws a number. Whoever draws #1 selects any gift he or she wants, opens it and lets everyone see. Starting with number #2 and all the way through #15, people can either select a wrapped gift or "steal" one that is already open. A gift can only be stolen three times before it is "frozen" and no longer up for grabs. At the end, person #1 gets to go one more time since he or she didn't have an opportunity to steal in the beginning. The end.

So tomorrow after class we are having a crazy-colored exercise sock Dirty Santa exchange. Neon colors seem to be the thing now (hello 80's!) so I found a pack of bright neon orange, lime green and pink exercise socks to bring to the par-tay. In addition, I am bringing a little something to add to the food table. This year, I'm busting out an oldie, but goodie cookie recipe. My grandmother used to make these and although there is a decent amount of prep work, the outcome is a sweet, rich cookie that is a nice change from your standard chocolate chip or sugar cookie. I love the combination of pecans, cherries and dates, but you could totally play with the fruit/nut combos that you like to eat.

I present to you the Cherry Wink cookie.  Ta-da!

Aren't they pretty? The red color is festive for the Christmas season (or just pretty no matter what season it is or what holiday you are celebrating!).

Here's the recipe!
Sift the following dry ingredients into a bowl:
2 1/2 Cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Using a mixer, cream together:
3/4 Cup butter, softened (which is 12 tablespoons if that's easier)
1 Cup sugar

To the butter and sugar, add:
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix thoroughly. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix again. Finally add the following and do one final good mix:
1 Cup chopped pecans
1 Cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries

Finally, crush 2 1/2 Cups of Corn Flakes cereal in a bowl. Drop the dough by heaping teaspoons into the crushed cereal and roll into balls. Place on a greased cookie sheet and top with a fourth of a maraschino cherry on each. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.

These are really, really good! If you don't like maraschino cherries, dried cherries would work. Or even dried cranberries. Or be crazy and try dried blueberries! If you don't like dates, try figs or prunes or raisins instead. Walnuts would be a nice substitute for pecans or just omit the nuts altogether if you don't like 'em! Really the fruit and nut combinations are endless. I happen to like the sweet note that the maraschino cherry adds to the cookie which is funny because I don't like maraschino cherries plain. But chopped up in a cookie, they are delicious! I'm weird like that.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Little Family History. And A Story.

My dad
1st Grade
Stecker, Oklahoma

Have you ever heard of Stecker, Oklahoma?


I didn't think so. Stecker is not a town. It's more of a smattering of old houses and abandoned buildings over a few square miles of Oklahoma farmland.

There's no school.  No post office. No bank. No chamber of commerce. No businesses at all.

It's practically a ghost town.

There's no sign for Stecker off the highway. If you find yourself there, you either a. live there b. are completely lost or c. you are visiting my family.

My dad was born in 1947, the oldest of five children to a farming and ranching family near Stecker in southwestern Oklahoma. At the time, Stecker was an actual bonafide town. A small town, but an official town. It had a post office. You could buy and trade at Tripp's Country Store. You could worship at either the Methodist church or the Baptist church. And there was the Stecker School, grades K-8 only. If you went beyond the 8th grade, you had to attend high school in the nearby town of Apache. The families that lived in the area were farming families. Kids worked hard, rode horses everywhere and swam in Hog Creek to cool off in the summer. In Stecker, everyone knew everyone. Either you were related or you went to school together or you had neighboring farmland.

As the oldest, my dad spent a lot of time out in the fields helping his dad work the land and tend to the animals. Because of this, my dad has SO MANY stories to tell. One of my favorite stories is a Christmas story that he has told me and my kids many times. They always think it is funny.

When my dad was in elementary school, the kids in the school put on a Christmas play for the parents and other members of the Stecker community. The play was a scene out of Santa's Workshop. All the kids were elves, busily working and hammering on new toys. The boy picked to play Santa was a big, country boy who had a bit of an accent. You see, people from small towns down here in Oklahoma have a little twang to their talk. If you're not used to it, it's a bit like understanding a foreign language. Santa's big opening line was to walk into the workshop and declare, "What is all this racket for?"

But here's how he would say it, "What is all this racket fer?"

In country speak, "fer" equals "for."

Every day in practice, he would say his line with the word "fer" and every day the teacher would correct him and say, "No, it is FOR not FER!" Dad says the poor guy really did try his best. But when the big night came and the performance was in full swing, he walked on stage and declared, "What is all this racket fer?"

And without missing a beat, all the elves on stage looked up and said in unison, "IT'S FOR!!!!!"

Dad says it was the best, and funniest, play ever put on in the great town of Stecker. And you can take that to the bank. If there was a bank in Stecker.