Yakky Doodle (and I don’t mean the cartoon)

When I was young (i.e. before the kiddos) there were several things I never thought I would ever do

  1. Smell a baby’s bum to see if they needed changing
  2. Go to the bathroom not to use the facilities, but to make a telephone call
  3. Lock the door to the bathroom so I could make said call without interruption
  4. Have a discussion over whether the puke in the bucket looked more like strawberry yogurt than the cherry yogurt the child ate.

It is #4 that I will be focusing on here. You see Baby spent the weekend on the couch moaning and groaning that she didn’t feel good and whining and complaining that she was bored. She had the puke bucket to prove it.

Baby takes after me, she is a fun girl! she rarely gets sick to the point she yaks. The other night was the first time in a few years she did this. Question to ponder – why do most kids start their yakking in the middle of the night rather than at a reasonable hour of the day? Anywho, she moaned, she groaned –

“Do you need to go potty?” I asked. (For some reason most of my children’s tummy issues go away with the use of the toity).

I don’t know.

“Do you want to try?”


By the time the panties were halfway down the puke-fest started! Luckily I already had the garbage can ready (Big was sick earlier in the week so I wasn’t really surprised Baby wasn’t feeling well).

I’m a horrible Mama when the kids are sick. I mean, I’m fine until they start to throw up and then you better get me a bucket too ’cause chances are I’m going to go right with’em! Thankfully the Ranger is AWESOME and FABULOUS and jumps right in and takes over. He claims he’d rather clean up after one person than two, but I say he’s just a great Daddy. Unfortunately he slept through this round. But I did okay and didn’t end up puking too. GO ME!

So, I put the poor little Yakky Doodle back to bed and stayed with her until she fell back asleep. She spent the next day lying on the couch watching fairy tales, cuddling up on her Daddy and napping. Sigh. This child is even more gullible than I am. We told her she had a stomach bug. She kept trying to figure out how this bug got into her stomach and was quite worried about how it was going to get out.

“Does your belly feel better, Baby?”

Mom, it’s not my belly, it’s my stomach. I’m a big girl and we can say stomach.

“Well, then, is your stomach feeling better?”

Baby was feeling much better, so when we got up on Sunday morning she was hungry and wanted yogurt I figured why not. So, she ate her yogurt and 15 minutes later we were in the bathroom where she was inspecting what had just come back out of her stomach and whether or not it looked like the cherry yogurt she just ate or strawberry yogurt. From there we went back to the B.R.A.T. (what does the “T” stand for, anyways?) diet and I got to add #4 to the list of “Things I Never Thought I’d Do.”

She’s feeling much better today, but I’ve got her at home due to the 24-hour rule of a yakking child spends 24 hours at home to be sure the bug is out of her system so she doesn’t infect any other child. Besides, it gives me an excuse to watch Disney Junior and PBS Kids all day!

Sorry, no pictures to go with this entry…poor thing looked too pathetic.


Mama Needs a Swear Jar

Mama has a problem. She has a potty mouth. She could use a swear jar.

Now, don’t get me wrong – when I am working or in public I’m a conscientious professional. But when I am at home and reach into the oven and pull out a pan and realize that I forgot to use a potholder, I can get kinda creative.

Now, most people would consider what comes out of my mouth to be pretty tame. I mean really, until I went back to public school in the 11th grade, I thought the word “butt” was a swear word. I learned a WHOLE new vocabulary that year thanks to the guys in the drafting class I took. Thanks to them I would nearly get smacked by my friends when I asked them what the word of the day meant. I had never heard language like that and they thought it was funny to give me some new words and not tell me what they meant.  Really funny guys…really funny…

I have heard my Daddy swear exactly 5 times in my entire life. I’ve heard my mom swear more than that. Once, when the electricity was out, my Mama, Sissy and I spent an hour practicing flipping people off (the equivalent to swearing with hands) in the dark. My Sissy used to come up with the best replacement phrases for those naughty words. Among my favorites –”SUGAR MARIE AND THEN SOME!” I’ll let you guess what that phrase replaced.

Anywho, over the years I’ve picked up words and phrases here and there from college roommates, coworkers, friends and my in-laws. I thought I had heard it all and then I married into a family where two people worked in jails. NOW, there’s a whole other vocabulary that comes out of that workplace!

I remember quite clearly a morning a few years ago. Big was sitting on the kitchen floor putting on her shoes before we headed to the school bus. We were discussing swear words, and she asked me what they were. I told her they were not words for little girls to use and then I listed off a number of these words – the Ranger just looked on in astonishment (I don’t think he knew that I knew those words). She has since become the “Swear” Police!

Baby does not have the same issues with naughty words as Big. This is why I am having a problem – Baby has no problem copying Mama’s speech patterns. Sigh. Her favorite phrase became, “Oh, CRACK!” Thankfully she apparently didn’t hear what I was really saying…

Anywho, to nip the whole potty language in the bud we have been using an alternative work – Crud. Crud.crud.crud.crud.crud.crud. I taught my child to swear. Crud. The “Swear” Police does not approve of CRUD! So now we sit in restaurants coming up with different versions of crud (it entertains Baby and mortifies Big which entertains the parents). MegaCRUD!

Big is NOT amused by the word Crud, so it stands to reason that it has become Baby’s FAVORITE word!

Me, I’ll go for Crud over the other word. I’m working on it, but I think we might be able to go back to Disney with my swear jar.

Playing Cinderella – WW

Baby has a closet full of costumes. She would wear them 24/7 if we would let her, but I’m that mean Mama who insists that she be dressed properly for school and going “out.” However, when we are home, I don’t think it’s worth the arguments really care.

Close friends and family know about this obsession she has with wearing costumes and many have cleaned out their closets donated old dance and Halloween costumes to the cause – The cause being Baby’s need to play dress-up. I figured since she is no longer dancing on tables while removing various pieces of clothing that I should encourage this newer fixation. I have no idea where that one came from, but for a few years we were worried she was practicing for her future vocation.

So the other day Baby decided to play Fairy Tale (she’s currently on this kick) and decided it was worthy of a beautiful princess dress (thank-you, Miss K). “Mama, can I wear a costume?” Sure, Baby. “Mama, can I wear my costume outside to play?” Sure, what the heck! Let’s live! And, so she did.

There are those that think this child is bound for the stage or screen. Personally, I don’t really care too much so long as she is happy and healthy. Although I’m really hoping that her path in life doesn’t include tables and removing her clothes.

Today I am participating in Wordful Wednesday with Parenting by Dummies. Please see the Parenting by Dummies button to the side, ’cause I can’t figure out how to make it appear in my post. Sorry, I’m still working out that kink.

Book Review: “Virals” by Kathy Reichs

From the looks of my book reviews you would think all I ever read was fantasy, but I promise I read more than that! However, this book too is a fantasy / science fiction book. It is also considered “Young Adult” by this particular librarian.

It seems that more and more Adult Fiction authors (especially mystery writers) are turning to the Young Adult level of writing as their new creative outlet. In the past couple of years we have seen John Grisham, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer; James Patterson, the Dangerous Days of Daniel X series and Witch and Wizard series; Faye Kellerman, Prism; and Ridley Pearson, Steele Trap and the Kingdom Keepers series. Now Kathy Reichs has joined this genre with her newest series, Virals.

Most people would recognize the title Bones from television, but what is not quite as well known is that the series is based on the Temperence Brennan books by Kathy Reichs. Reichs who really does have the background of forensic anthropologist has had her Brennan series firmly grounded in mystery, intrigue and scientific fact. Her new book, Virals, steps outside those bounds and is more mystery, intrigue and scientific fantasy. The book Virals is not about Dr. Brennan, but there is a link to her in the form of her niece Tory Brennan.

I liked this book. I had put off reading it because I was afraid that it would be the typical cliché of young adult novels. Girl meets weird guy, finds out weird guy is some fantasy creature, falls in love with him. Angst ensues. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised; the story does not fit the recipe at all!

Tory has recently moved to an island outside Charleston, S.C. where she lives with her father, a scientific researcher for the University of Charleston. They in turn live in a compound with other scientists and their families. There are only four teenagers on this island and they stick together, sort of like a pack. They go to school together, by boat. They are ostracized together, by the other kids at the exclusive school they attend. They hang out together, in a secret, underground bunker. They invent their own entertainment together, like visiting the remote facility where their parents work to visit the wild monkey population and the wolf dog pack. It is at this facility that the mystery begins, where an animal is rescued, where they are exposed to the virus, and where there are secrets that some would prefer to keep buried.

Are you intrigued? You should be.

Tory is a likable heroine, and the rest of the member of her pack play their parts well. There is the bad boy (Ben), the clown (Shelton), the brain (Hi) and Tory. While the story revolves around Tory, the other characters are key and you learn a bit about them and how they think. I’m not sure exactly how to go into detail on what I really liked about this book without spoiling it for you, and I’m not gonna do that (this time). But, another thing I liked was that while you read the book it becomes obvious who the real bad guy is, but you get a HUGE surprise during the big action scene! Someone is very involved in sinister happenings that you do not and will not expect! I was shocked (and that takes a lot). The ending implies that this is only the first in a series of books. I, for one, am looking forward to book 2.

This book should be on most AR reading lists (if you have to ask what AR is, you probably don’t need to know). If it’s not on a list now, it should be soon (after all, the book did just come out last November). I would recommend this book for pre-teens (who are advanced readers) and up who like a light fantasy / science fiction. It is what I would consider a pretty clean read, although they do allude to a sexual situation by one of the supporting characters (not one of the 4 main characters). Nothing graphic.

This book should be found at your local library, and is also available in several mediums including paper, eBook and audio formats from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. If your library does not own this book, you should ask if they have a book adoption program or if you could donate this title to their collection. It is a book that kids will read because they want to and not because it’s being forced down their throats (if they happen to like this genre).

This photo is from Amazon.com.


How to Make Bean Soup – Domestic Pretender

The Domestic Pretender struck again recently. I knew the weather was going to be crummy cold, so I thought I would make soup – from scratch – not out of a can that says “add water.”

I was perusing one of my many cookbooks last week and stumbled upon a recipe for bean and bacon soup. I like bean and bacon soup. The Ranger likes bean and bacon soup. The kids wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole! So, I decided to use this crummy snow as an excuse to whip up a fabulous soup recipe! I even put the ingredients on my grocery list so I would have everything I needed. Un-huh, EVERYTHING! (We’ll get back to that “everything” later).

I looked at the recipe and noticed that it called for tomato sauce. Hmmm…the Ranger isn’t really big on tomatoes, maybe I’ll use chicken broth. (I have a tendency to switch out stuff we don’t like. I’m not exactly sure, but I think this could be one reason my recipes have issues).Then I noticed the recipe called for carrots. Carrots and green peppers? In bean and bacon soup? Crazy, but, sure, whatever. Now, I’m a planner in life and in cooking (to a point) I like to get my ingredients ready all at once and then start cooking.

So I gathered the usual suspects for bean and bacon soup – bacon (yummmmmmm) and beans (duh), carrots, onions, garlic, green pepper, and chicken stock.

Then I noticed something – problem #1: I forgot to refrigerate my green pepper and it was all wilty and smushy (EW!). So, I throw out the green peppers and head for the pantry where I have stashed cans of tomatoes with diced green peppers and onions. Sorry, Dear, out with the chicken stock and back in with the tomato sauce. I’m sorry, I can’t, in good conscience, mix diced tomatoes and chicken stock. I’m sure there are those who can make those two ingredients taste good together, but I am not that person.

Problem #2: I didn’t have EVERYTHING that I needed. No tomato sauce! WHAT! I’ve already dumped in the diced tomatoes! We’ve already discussed adding chicken stock to diced tomatoes! I just can’t do it! BUT I did have tomato paste. And what is tomato sauce but soupy tomato paste, right? I added my tomato paste and some water to make it soupy. Worked for me!

I cooked the bacon.

And then I tasted it. I had to be sure it was cooked just right to crumble. I wasn’t sure, so I tasted a few more pieces…

I chopped my garlic, seems my garlic press disappeared somewhere in the whole moving thing. Personally I think the kids liked the way it flipped back and forth and stole it. Then, I chopped my carrots, and last my onions. I always chop my onions last because I don’t like the idea of cutting off any fingers while I’m sobbing through my onions. I dumped them in the post and cooked them up a little bit and then I started adding the cans of stuff. At first it seemed almost like a pantry can soup. You know – a can of this and a can of that. But I guess the chopped veggies counted to make it just plain ol’ soup.

I added everything except the bacon and let it simmer together for a good while. (Probably about 20 minutes or so). Then I tasted it. It tasted like canned beans. I don’t like the taste of canned beans. Please don’t take this to mean that I make beans from a bag. It is physically impossible for me to make beans from a bag. I can’t do it. I know, I know…can’t never could. But let’s be honest here, anyone who has seen me cook would not be at all surprised to know I can’t make bagged beans. No matter how long they soak they are as hard as pebbles. I always use canned beans, but I hate the way canned beans taste unless they’ve been drained, rinsed over and over again. This recipe called for “undrained” beans, so I followed the recipe.

Here is where I really left the recipe. From this point on I know what I added, but I have no idea the measurements. First I added some beef bouillon, a little better. Then I added some chili powder, a little better. Then I added more chili powder, getting to be edible. Then I started wishing I had tobacco (refer back to having EVERYTHING…NOT!). Then I added the bacon, and I have to say that it’s amazing what some nice crispy bacon can do for a recipe.

The Ranger wasn’t so sure. He looked at the bowl rather suspiciously, but agreed to eat some. He is not a fan. He had to eat around the carrots and tomatoes.

So, here I was with a nice big pot of bean and bacon soup and no one to eat it but me.

I ate it for lunch for a week! I’m more than a little tired of bean and bacon soup. And, when I want some I’ll probably head to the store and buy a can of the stuff. ‘Cause frankly this recipe just isn’t for me. However, if you like a vegetablely bean and bacon soup here is the recipe:

Bean and Bacon Soup*

½ lb bacon cooked to be able to crumble

3Tbs. bacon pan drippings

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 green pepper, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, pressed

3 C. water

8-oz can tomato sauce

2 – 16 oz cans kidney beans

Hot pepper sauce to taste

Heat reserved drippings in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion, carrot, green peppers and garlic until tender. Add water, tomato sauce and undrained beans. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Stir in reserved bacon and hot sauce to taste. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

*This recipe comes from p. 67 of the Gooseberry Patch Comfort Foods cookbook.

Heading to Alice’s House

This post is being written as part of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. The prompt for this week is a vacation to remember. (I’m sorry, Mama Kat, I still can’t get the button link to work).

I live roughly 3,000 miles from my parents and my siblings and their families. We usually get to see my parents twice a year, once we’ll fly to them and once they’ll fly to us. We usually get to see my siblings and their families once a year…maybe… it’s rough.

In Nov. 2009 we flew out to Washington to spend Thanksgiving with my family. It was really nice and it went way too fast. But this post isn’t about that vacation. This post is a vacation idea seed that was planted when Poppop (my Daddy) heard his youngest granddaughter, Baby, ask if we could go to see Alice (Disney). Poppop thought and thought and thought and then in June, I was grocery shopping and got a call from my Daddy. At that time I didn’t get many phone calls from Daddy, so I was quick to answer. The jist of the phone call was to see if instead of Nana and Poppop coming to see Baby, would Baby like to meet them at Disneyland.

Ummm…let me think about this for a minute… YES!

So, the ball was rolling, and two months and numerous emails and phone calls between my Sissy (aka, the Cruise Director) and me, we were on our way to see Alice. Everyone in the extended family knew except Baby. Baby thought we were just going to see Nana and Poppop. We let Nana tell her at the airport in California.

It didn’t sink in until we were driving up Disney Blvd. and she could see the tips of the castle. Her eyes got huge and stayed that way for a week.

This trip was for more than just because Baby told her Poppop she wanted to see Alice. This trip was a huge celebration for the entire family – Poppop was getting ready to retire, I was getting ready to graduate with my Master’s degree, my oldest nephew had just graduated from high school and my Sissy had a BIG birthday, and at the last minute we were celebrating a job transfer for the Ranger to TN. (We found out 2 days before leaving on vacation that we had 30 days to relocate to TN).

This was a family reunion vacation. We are one of those families who spends at least one day touring the park wearing matching t-shirts that proclaim we are family!

Well, everyone wore a t-shirt except Baby. This was the day she hoped to see Alice, so she got to wear her costume. We didn’t see Alice that day, but Baby did get Poppop onto the Alice ride!

Baby is by far the youngest; she is 6. Big is 10. Their closest cousin, Miss K is 13; she was all about spending time with her girl cousins. Their boy cousins are 16, 16 and 18; they were all about scoping out girls and trying to look cool.

For us this was a trip all about Baby and Big and the magic and awe that surrounds small children in Disneyland. Come on people, it’s is called the Magic Kingdom for a reason. Nana and Poppop spent a good deal of the trip with us.

This was the trip that Nana introduced Baby to her favorite ride, which is now Baby’s favorite too – It’s a Small World.

This was a trip where she got to meet the live, for REAL princesses!

“MOM!” she said, “Did you see who was standing behind me!”

This was a trip where she got to go to Pixie Hollow and to meet Tinkerbell.

This was a trip to meet someone who gets into as much trouble as she does – Stitch.

This was the trip to finally, FINALLY meet Alice.

She didn’t just get to meet Alice, she got to play with Alice!

Many children get autographs from their favorite characters, but playing a game of musical chairs with Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter, now that’s something pretty darn special! That is something I doubt they will ever forget.

This was a trip to spend with Miss K.

This was a trip (probably the last) to ride on my Bubba’s shoulders.

This was a trip to spend just spending with Poppop.

This was probably the last trip the entire family will be present for at one time. Oh, they’ll all show up here and there when we go to visit Nana and Poppop, but as a family get-a-way this was probably it.

We split up during the day with groups going one direction or the other, meeting up here and there for rides together. Supper was always together. Chaotic and loud, but the good kind of chaotic and loud. Kids running between hotel rooms (we were at the end of a corridor and there was no one else around us). And, the adults going from room to room scavenging snacks, chargers and laptops (well, I was having laptop withdrawals) or just sitting and chatting. And one night there was my Sissy, my Bubba and I all together running from one ride to the next like we did when we were teenagers – only on this trip we had our spouses with us.

All in all it was a very exhausting week. It was a happy week. One sparked with wonderful memories. One that I would love to repeat….and repeat…..and repeat…..and repeat and so would Baby.

What I’ve Learned about Weather

Living in the Pacific Northwest I learned:

  1. Everyday there is a 50% chance of rain (you learn to think of it as liquid sunshine).
  2. If you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes and it will change.

Living in the mountains of Pennsylvania I learned:

  1. You plan Halloween costumes to accommodate long johns and winter coats. (Isn’t Baby cute as Tinkerbell! Her ears just need some points to make it complete!
  2. You plan to have snow on the ground from Thanksgiving through Easter.

In Tennessee I am learning:

  1. It will snow 5 inches one week

  1. The next week it will be hitting 70 and your bulbs will start to poke through the ground

  1. Leaves fall from the trees from October through February and despite being raked on numerous occasions will still show up in your flower beds in the spring.
  2. There is much more to learn…

I learned to drive in the rain and I learned to drive in the snow, now if I can just force myself to learn how to drive in the glaring sun life will be great! (Those of you who know my driving history can appreciate this. Those of you who don’t know my crummy wonderful driving record will find out eventually, I’m a bit notorious).

Pass the Peas!

Look what the Ranger brought me for Valentine’s Day!

Yes, people, that is a LIVE plant! A tulip to be exact. They are my FAVORITES! Now we’ll see exactly how long I manage to keep it alive. So far we are up to day 3 and it is starting to bloom! I even remembered to water it! Did you know that tulips can go 2 days without water and still live? I found out they can!

If you are wondering why it is so crazy that I received flowers for Valentine’s Day, you might want to read the previous post, “Look but Don’t Touch!”

I am participating in Wordful Wednesday with ParentingBYDummies