Wednesday, November 30, 2011

POC (Pants Optional Christmas)

     I have yet to find a particular pee filled pull-up in my house from today.   That is, let's just hope it's only pee.  It's not out in the yard and I've exhausted my search of the house.  Although, really, one never truly does a thorough exhaustive search of their home-- not without police dogs.   I'm fairly certain it's just pee as I didn't smell anything poo like in the house.  See, I was Skyping my parents (Mimi and Papa) so they could talk to the kids.  The 3 got bored and went to play in the playroom and I was showing off my new range oven to my parents.  The Pantsless Wonder (my youngest daughter) was wearing a dress and so it was harder to tell how long she'd been commando.   She'd already been commando 4 other times today.  So, I walk into the playroom with the laptop and my 'rents on Skype and there's PW with her naked tush hanging out, playing with the dollhouse with Chuckles (PW's twin brother) and Monk (Monkey Girl, PW's big sister).  My parents, of course, think everything the kids do is hilarious, especially if it's somehow inappropriate and/or somehow going to make me sigh-- a lot.  They must delight in their parental payback.
   PW started going commando about 3 months ago when she turned 18 months old.  If you ask her, she'll tell you "yep" she took them off and "no way" is she going to put them on again.  If you say, "Let's put some clean bottoms on!" She'll say, "Oh-tay"(yes she sounds like Buckwheat) and then an hour later you discover that she is again commando.   Clearly, she's ready to be potty trained but one thing after another has deterred my attention from hunkering down and just potty training her already.   Mostly, while I fantasize about never changing another diaper, I do NOT fantasize about having to potty train PW and Chuckles by myself.   Because that's what it would be, me by myself potty training the twins.
     The frequency with which PW lives PO is getting higher.  Her ability to be blatantly pantsless in the face of an oncoming major holiday just belies her innocence about the magnitude of the major holiday coming up.  It is especially comical and frustrating when I'm trying to figure out some sort of picture thing for Christmas cards.   Can you imagine what that Christmas card would be like?  It would look something like the family pictured below, i.e. hilarious and totally inappropriate.  I bet all of our friends would LOVE it!  Thanks Awkward Family Photos for the great ideas,  keep 'em coming.

   I still haven't found PW's pull-up.  I hope it's one of several in the trash in the bathroom, or maybe it's under a fig leaf...

Saturday, November 26, 2011


     The post Thanksgiving food coma can be a bit of a let down, right?  If you're in need of some serious entertainment that just happens to benefit a WHOLE LOT of children then look no further than the live stream by g33kwatch-- Mass Effect Marathon 2.   The folks there are great and are raising money for Child's Play.  You can participate in auctions with some seriously great items like one of a kind necklaces or getting Brandon Keener, voice actor for Mass Effect's Garrus, to be the voice of your voicemail.  You can even challenge them in game play, etc.  $30,000 is their goal y'all and you can help!  If you "Like" g33kwatch on Facebook and/or donate $5 or more, you will be entered into a raffle for the duration of the marathon ending this Sunday-- so get your donations in there!  They're pretty close to shaving a comrad's head as of an hour ago; help them make it happen.   I myself have donated $35 dollar so far toward two challenges.  One challenge was their Party Rock Anthem group dance and the other was 4 minutes of everything (including game play) in Slow Motion-- HI-larious!  I also bought two Child's Play t-shirts here.

     Now then, I would like to say how much I love my new oven.  Words cannot express how much I love it.  It has a lock that locks the display and turns off the gas to the burners.  If the children somehow manage to figure out how to push and turn at the same time while the lock is on, they won't blow up the house.  It also makes the display less likely to burn out and die because the twins love mashing the display buttons.  The range has a special 3 ring burner for boiling that is also a super simmer burner.   They both work exactly like they should.  I have never boiled anything so fast.  Also, it has a "pie" drawer.  I baked pies in it.  Oh yes, I did.  This evening, I made a turkey thigh cassoulet.  As soon as the pies are eaten up I will be baking muffins, cookies and for dinner a pizza.  I made a real dinner for the entire family from scratch all at one time in one location.
     "One location Leah?  What does that mean," you ask?  Well, let me elaborate.  I have been cooking meals for a family of five with a micro-convection oven, a tiny toaster oven, a 20 year old crockpot, and the grill.   Occasionally, I have enlisted the use of my rice cooker for double duty with rice and steaming stuff.  But, honestly my family has gotten too big for those items to suffice and I was getting tired of running all over, especially when having to use the grill as an oven.  It's not like those things maintain a steady temperature very easily.  Do you have any idea how long it takes to make pizza for a family of five with appliances that won't fit anything larger than a personal or medium size pizza in them?  Let me tell you, it takes too long.
     The range is so great.  I was able to use my dutch oven over the oblong center burner and everything cooked evenly and was stable.  My old cooktop couldn't handle it.  It was always a balancing act, a practice in perpetual motion not easily achieved with a heavy cast iron dutch oven.  One of the unexpected perks turned out to be more time to spend with the kids because I'm not running all over the kitchen and outside spending twice the time trying to make dinner.   The kids also love to help me cook and now it's a little easier.  The oven is scary to have the twins around, but not nearly as scary as the grill.  From now on, anytime I post here I'll just conclude with a postscript of what I'm making or already made for dinner that day.  Right now, I have a small batch of limonbuddhacello started up for Christmas and I plan on making little packages of candied lemon and buddha's hand to give with it.  Feel free to steal my idea because it's a definitely tasty one; and' I'm sure I'm not the only person to ever think of it.   If you're my friend irl, then you know what you're probably getting as a gift.  Too bad, I'm not changing it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Turkey Schmurkey

    Thanksgiving Day is in less than two days and I don't have an oven or a cooktop.  Well, I do, but it's in the garage still in the box.  It's okay because I have a micro convection hood thing, a grill and a tiny toaster oven as well as various other small, useful kitchen appliances that I will be using to make our little Thanksgiving dinner.  Luckily, none of us really care for a giant turkey, just the legs and thighs.  The grill will really be doing most of the work.  Did I mention it's supposed to rain that day?  I hope we remember to document the day with pictures.  Thanksgiving will be a Big Day.  We will wake up, eat breakfast and do the Turkey Trot 5K and kids' Fun Run in celebration of being alive in the rain.  Then it's back to the house where I will attempt to keep my patience with my family while I make dinner all over the kitchen and outside on the grill.  Then we'll take a short walk to my good friend Christie's house to have dessert with her and her family.  
    You know, I've been wanting a new oven range anyway.  Now it's so close.  I can go out to the garage and look at it longingly any time I please.  Funny thing about Thanksgiving, you can be thankful for all sorts of things.  For instance, I can thank the twins for breaking the oven.  Cora had already broken it in and the twins finished it off.  It was so old, everything on it was discontinued and out of stock.  We tried refurbishing the broken part only to find out that the part it was connected to was also broken.  When Killer and my friend's husband removed the old oven and cooktop, we found the electric oven was hardwired into the wall which required a couple of half hearted phone calls to electricians and a run to the hardware store.  One neighbor let us borrow some tools and our other neighbor hooked up the outlet for us.  I'm so thankful, I'll make them whatever they want from my new oven range, as soon as it makes it out of the garage.
     Last week, I decided that as a family we would help a person or a group in need every week until the end of the year.  I love to help.  If I'm in a bad mood or not feeling so great, it instantly makes me feel better to focus on someone else's needs instead of my own, especially if they have a better day because of it.  Killer can tell you I'm a bit hard to live with at times because of this.  I believe we still have a picture somewhere of a duck that had taken refuge in our front yard because it had been grazed by a car.  Because we lived on the corner of a busy commute road and it was a Sunday and everything was closed,  I convinced my neighbor to help me catch it.  I set it up in the backyard in a kiddy pool until we could take it to the wild bird rescue.  Then there was Hank, the 6 month old pit bull puppy that I fostered.  A schoolmate found him tied to a telephone pole on a street with no houses or businesses and no people around.  He was so dehydrated, he'd been there for a couple of days.  The schoolmate of mine lived on campus and we didn't want to take him to the SPCA in Oakland.  So, I informed Killer we were fostering Hank.  Then there are all the great people that let me help them.  I won't get into that, but there are some great stories there that could fill a book.
     This year I wanted my family to be more involved.   It can be hard when your children are very small to want to include them in giving back, but it's not impossible.  It's interesting too, now that my brain is tuned in, how often opportunities present themselves in interesting and not so subtle ways, opportunities far outside of individual voices and signs, shelters' wish lists, Goodwill or the Salvation Army.  Not to say that those aren't fine opportunities to give back, because they are.  But, there are several families in the area that have lost everything except the shirts on their backs in fires last week.   I talked with Cora about it and she and the twins are helping me make packages for the kids of families that lost everything to the fires.  We'll also be participating in Project Night Night, Family Giving Tree, and Child's Play to name a few great organizations.  Truly, we have more than enough.  We have enough to share and we are ever thankful.  Eucharisteo my friends.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Our Friday evening started off with anticipation, excitement and suspense as all Friday evenings should.
Killer: Ok! Everybody in the car! Let's go!
Cora: Daddy! Max is flying!
Killer: Why is he flying? What does that mean??
A panicked Killer runs into the backyard to find out that Max is doing a plain ol' belly superman on the swing. They have not yet left the house for the scheduled Parent's Night Out (PNO) hosted by our local YMCA; and in case there wasn't enough commotion just getting those three little monkeys out the door, now the dog-- ever the opportunist-- is running amok in the street.
     I usually look forward to the PNO. The kids get dropped off for four blissful hours during which we pretend we have no children. We tend to celebrate a PNO in whatever way fits our mood. We attend concerts of all sorts, go to pubs, watch movies, eat fancy dinners, play video games, go rock wall climbing, walk the dog together at the same time, or do some home project that would take 10 times as long to do with three little monkeys in the way. I am really looking forward to this particular PNO because on Tuesday I found out that same Thursday I would be having urgent surgery on the inside of my lady parts. I had anticipated being medicated and laying around watching a movie with Killer, my heating pad, and my cramps in peace and quiet without my lovely children climbing all over me during their usual bedtime ruckus.
     Instead, I'm laying here in general misery thinking that Time's-A-Wastin' by being late getting the kids to the PNO; and, "Oh for fcuk's sake! Now the dog is out the front door and Killer sounds like he's going to lose his ever loving mind." So, now I have to convince my lower half to get up and rescue Killer from the kids as well as retrieve the dog who thinks getting to run around in the middle of the street with oncoming cars is Great Fun. I think Phyllis Diller said it best when she said, "It's like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing..." The quote is about cleaning house with small kids around, but it also applies to attempting to get some rest with a very awake family still in the house.


     In the center of my blessed whirlwind life, I have three beautiful wonderful children. The eye of the storm, if you will. One is 3 years old and the other two are 20 month old twins. All who seem to occasionally have been given the crazy sauce. I have found myself asking them on many occasions "Why did you do that?? What in the world?" I realize how irrational it is to think there will be a rational answer from these untrained monkeys that have taken over my home. As if they will answer me with some well thought out plan complete with a flow chart and power point presentation. Indeed, I have found myself walking around the house vaguely waving my hands in the air or unloading the van asking the same questions of no one in particular. Questions like "What is that smell?" or "How did that even get there?" or "Where is my...?"
     Past attempts have been made to become more organized and on top of things. I've gotten tips and read books about how to do this. This is my chronic failing in life, this lack of appearing organized. Honestly? I don't even care. True, the annoyance I feel when I look around our little abode and can't find anything or notice the mess can get to me. But, it's okay! So, I said "screw it" because I'm usually too busy living in the moment to stop and worry myself with the This and the That. I thank God for that perspective because it's allowed me to relax. Some may argue that I'm a bit too relaxed.
     However, I'm no fool and I fully accept how things run around here. So much so, that I subconsciously felt compelled to simultaneously post signs in prominent locations that say "Three Ring Circus" and the Japanese kanji for "tranquility". I didn't realize I put them in the same room until my wonderful friend, Nicole, pointed it out to me one day by having a hearty laugh at my expense. I asked her what she was laughing at as the children were swirling loud around us and she pointed out that the signs were across the same room from each other. It wasn't on purpose, dagnabit, but it feels right to have that kind of philosophical tension in my living room. One day, I found a banana peel under the circus sign on my floor and it didn't seem out of place, so I left it there and took a picture for posterity.