Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tweet! Tweet! July 2008

I'm not sure if Twitter is going to keep all my tweets forever and ever. Because they are often little snippets about my daily life with The Girls, I will preserve them on this blog monthly.

Tweet! Tweet! July 2008:

Guy just tried to sell me a set of knives for $15 discounted from $75. Said he gives them as wedding gifts. Cheap bastard! Told him so too. from txt

Feeling stuffy and sneezy. I will NOT be sick during my b-day weekend in Chicago! Nooooo! from txt

The genius who invented Nestle Toll House cookie dough in a TUB deserves a raise and a special place in heaven. from txt

Brooke very much enjoys tormenting and pushing every botton of her big sister until she screams. It's going to be a very long 17 years. from txt

After a diaper change, Brooke walked me to the trash can and opened the door so I could thow it away. How sweet! Next up? POTTY TRAINING! from txt

Maddie was hysterically angry when after plotting to ambush Zak with water balloons, our mission was accomplished. "You're being mean!!!!" from txt

Little black bugs in my pantry! I swear the pest guy AND the plumber put a hex on me. Never had any problems until I called for a check up. from txt

Ginger bok choy chicken with carrots and fried rice for dinner. Then, I'll be hungry 30 minutes later. from txt

ANOTHER leaky pipe. This time under my kitchen sink. I swear, I am not in love with the cute plumber. I've called him 3 times this week! from web

Just applied for a passport. At age 32. That's kinda pathetic! from txt

Brooke rubs banana all over her face and in her hair just before we leave for school. from txt

Just drove for four hours. We heard no whining, complaining, or crying. Oh yeah, that's because we left those cute little monkeys at home! from txt

Just left the girls with Zak's mom. Going to a wedding in Galveston. Say a prayer for my MIL (and the nervous groom)! from txt

Tidbit: In the year Brooke was born, 2007, there were 4.4 million babies also born. It was the largest Baby Boom in United States history! from txt

Brooke sees a bruised spot on her banana on her plate, wrinkles her nose, points at the dark spot and say, "eh eh eh" and pushes it away. from txt

Maddie is learning about the solar system in PRE-SCHOOL! I didn't learn about it Jeeze. from txt

Brooke cried so hard at her ENT follow up that she puked on me, the nurse, herself, the floor, the table. Just missed the Dr. Oh the stench! from txt

Brooke "talks" non stop. She tells us lots of animated stories that we can't understand. Maddie encourages it by asking What next? from txt

I'm going to Chicago ALONE for my birthday weekend! Yea! from txt

FOUR holes cut from drywall to find the leak. $320 to repair it. I need to google, "dry wall repair" to figure out how to patch holes. from web

I think we have a leaky pipe in our bathroom. I see dripping water outside near the room. Plumber on the way here, money on the way out. from web

Maddie puked for the second (and third) time in her life tonight. My stuff from last week must have been contagious. Uh-oh...Zak's next! from txt

Just did yard work. It's 98 degrees outside. I'm not talking about the boy band either. Not a good idea (the yard work or the band). from txt

Brooke has two monster molars coming in. You can see half tooth/half gum on both sides! That explains all the whining. Poor baby (and me). from txt

Decided that we shouldn't eat a whole cake, so gave half to the family of 7 next door. Realized half a cake wasn't enough to feed them all! from web

Baked a cake with Maddie today just for fun. Am I supposed to have a reason to bake a cake? It's SATURDAY! How's that? from txt

Just had Sashimi for the FIRST time. This virgin says: awesome! from txt

Maddie wants a "ball of snow" to make a bruise on her leg feel better. Where do we get one? "From WINTER!" Of course, that's a long wait. from web

Just met a 25 year old mother of two who lost her husband in Iraq. Heart breaking. What a pointless "war!" from txt

Maddie was mad at me and called me a "Poo Poo Butt." It was the first time she's ever called me a name, but sadly not the last. from txt

Home sick. Have had a migraine that won't die and have puked a few times in the last 24 hrs. Parenting is REALLY hard when sick. Zak rocks. from txt

90 minutes of Bikram Yoga (100 degree plus room). Feeling pretty crappy. Need to do more. from txt

Creamer explosion: Thought the lid was on. Shook it. Lid wasn't on. 32 oz. of creamy French Vanilla all over the kitchen. STICKY! from txt

4th recap: Maddie saw fireworks for the 1st time. TALKED NON STOP about them during the show. Family came to visit and I FORGOT my camera! from web

Should I wear my Obama t-shirt around my conservative right wing father-in-law? I really want to! from txt

Just went to Wal-Mart for the first time in TWO years. Bought a BOAT. Who knew? from web

IKEA rocks! They have the best marketing plan ever: "Trap customers in our maze like store and they won't stop shopping!" from txt

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Texas Sized Centipede

We grow 'em big here, y'all.

Check out this frighteningly large centipede that we found hanging out in Brooke's room. It was about 6 inches long.

Maddie says to me, "Mama! There is a huge snake like giant bug over here." Yeah, okay, I'm changing a diaper, hold on. "Mama! It's moving, and it has pinchers!" I turn to look over my shoulder, and nearly climbed the wall in fear. I actually thought it was a fake bug planted by Zak (much like my dad used to do) to freak me out.

I immediately made the Girls leave the room (because that would somehow help?) while I tried to figure out what to do with it. I didn't want to try to squish it (into my carpet? Eww!), and was scared of its stingers anyway. So, I did what any normal woman would do, I trapped it under a glass bowl, and waited for Zak to get home.

I called my pest guy to see determine what this prehistoric looking creature could possibly be, because, dude, we just found a dinosaur! He assured me it was a centipede and the spraying we did a few weeks ago probably made the centipede uncomfortable enough to "come out from the structure" to get away. So, Mr. Centipede decided he wanted to hang out in Brooke's room because toddlers are really easy to manage.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Paula Deen rocks Spicy Green Beans

Spicy Green Beans have changed my life, and I must share the recipe here. I was at my friend, Becca's house looking through her Paula Dean magazine, and found this recipe featured from what seems to be a reader or chef, Carolyn Jiles. I immediately knew it was going to be a huge hit and staple in my limited repertoire. Okay, the best I do with veggies is steam, season and butter them.

In true Paula Deen fashion, there is some fat. However, there is no nutritional information at the bottom, so that means there are 0 calories and 0 fat grams.

I've modified it a bit (sorry Paula) to suit our tastes.

Amanda's Spicy Green Beans (serves two):

2 slices of bacon
1/2 chopped red onion
1/4 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 handfuls of fresh green beans or snap beans, trim edges
dash of salt and pepper
dash of red pepper flakes

In a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Remove and place bacon on paper towel. Crumble it. Reduce heat to medium, add onion, jalapeno and garlic to leftover bacon grease, cook 2 minutes until tender. Add green beans, salt/pepper, pepper flakes. Toss gently to coat. Cook 6-8 minutes until desired firmness. Throw in crumbled bacon in last minute. Serve immediately, and try not to moan when eating it.

The original recipe calls for 16 oz of frozen green beans and an extra two tablespoons of vegetable oil. I prefer fresh beans, and the extra oil is unnecessary as the bacon grease is plenty. It also says 1 small onion and 1/2 a jalapeno. The absolute best part of this dish are the little mouthwatering burned bits of garlic, jalapeno, and onion.

I've had these green beans with salmon and steak, but it could honestly go with anything. This is the perfect recipe for Zak's bacon inspired restaurant concept.

The Girls like to eat this too, but I just rinse off the spicy bits, and they gobble them up. When I'm really thinking ahead, I just make this for Zak and I after they go to bed so we don't have to share with the monkeys. Because that's the kind mother I am.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Produce lessons

I've been participating in the produce co-op for several weeks now, and look forward to my every other Tuesday delivery of fresh organic fruits and veggies. I get something new and different every time, and wonder how I'm going to eat it all before it goes bad.

Today's "What the hell am I gonna do with that?" item is: BOK CHOY. I'm sad to say that I didn't even know what it LOOKED like (when it wasn't chopped up in my Asian stir fry). It's kinda like a mini (but fatter and shorter) celery stalk. I intend to make this recipe here sometime this week.

A funny thing happens when you see real live veggies that come fresh from the field. They don't exactly look the same as they do at your local grocery store. The produce co-op just provides what is fresh, in season, and organic, so I never know what to expect.

What I'm really trying to say is that there are sometimes some bugs on this produce (proof of it's organic-ness?) and also dirt (proof it is really fresh?). There are no bugs on grocery store produce because that would be gross, and so they douse them with chemicals to assure we're not offended. And dirt? Never because dirt is dirty, people! DIRTY!

Have you ever noticed that organic produce is never really very big? Take strawberries for example. Organic strawberries are really little compared to those mambo jambo ones at the store. Also, the berries are softer, darker, and sweeter...just like the ones that my dad and I grew when I was a kid on the farm in the little makeshift garden by the pool.

This week's box 'o goodies contained:

bananas (Brooke is gonna be in heaven!)





green snap beans (I saw a little green worm)



package of baby carrots (WTF? Packaged!? There goes this post!)

bok choy

real carrots (looking like they were just plucked from the earth and also prior to some machine turning them into "babies")

russet potatoes (covered in soil!)




Well, I guess I need to get on the ball with gardening so my Girls don't think produce comes from the store. Damn this parenting business, and all the blah blah blah lessons I'm responsible for teaching. Sheesh!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rah, Rah, Rah for WENDY!

Zak's mom, Wendy (aka Grandma!) took care of Maddie and Brooke for about 24 hours while we drove to Galveston for a wedding (we're working our way up to an entire weekend, hour by hour). The Girls gave her a run for her money, but she made it!

It was reported that Maddie was very sweet and helpful, but that Brooke was exhausting. I would imagine that the day went something like this:
"Can I watch Little Einsteins? Mah, Mah, Milk?! I have to go potty. Turn the light on! Oh no, Brooke pooped again! Mah, Mah, Milk?! When is mommy going to come back? Can you read me a book? Oh, I know! Let's watch another movie! Can I have a snack? No, not that one, the other one. Mah, Mah, Milk? AAAAgghhh! Where's my baby? No, not the hard baby...the SOFT baby. I'm hungry. Can you play with me? Let's make a puzzle. Noooooo, BROOKE! Can I have a treat? Mah, Mah, Milk?!"

Then, multiple that by fifty, and increase the volume to MAX all while you're chasing Brooke around the house. Thanks, Wendy! I bet you slept like a rock the next night! Maybe you're still sleeping?
Zak and I went to the wedding of his friend, Mark. Mark lives in Austin and has been Zak's friend since junior high (or elementary?). They've played Fantasy Football in the same league every year for the last 15 horrible, ever-so draining years. Surprisingly, neither Zak nor I had ever met his wife until the reception. She looked beautiful in her gown (but I don't have a pic), and the wedding was fun.

We saw lots and lots of friends. Francie (who is preggers) sent me these pics of David (who was in the wedding) and Zak:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Patting the babies

Maddie and Brooke like to play "teacher" and "mommy" with their babies. The most important part of this game is to get your baby "QUIET!" and make sure they "GO TO SLEEP!" Amen, sisters.

This game can go on for hours and Maddie has been playing it since she was about a year and a half old, and now Brooke does it too (minus the hilarious dialog). If you want to play, you need to learn the rules, so here goes:

Usually the first step is to find a baby and blanket. No baby or blanket? Okay, a dish towel and animal like toy/bear will work just fine. No blanket or dishtowel? Then your baby is just gonna have to deal.

Next, tell the baby "GO TO SLEEP!" preferably sweetly with a kiss when playing "mommy," but sometimes you gotta put your foot down and mean business (like when you play "teacher").

Act all exasperated and sigh loudly when the baby wakes up and talks to her other baby friends, "UHG! BABY! I TOLD YOU TO GO-TO-SLEEP! NO TALKING! CLOSE YOUR EYES!"

Sometimes when the baby is having a hard time falling asleep you say, "Baby? Are you having a hard time going to sleep? You want me to pat you? Okay." Then you sit down on the floor next to your baby (and another baby on your other side if you're a multitasker) and begin to pat the baby firmly in order to get them to sleep.

(I have no idea why patting would make a baby go to sleep, but apparently this is normal practice in a day care setting.)

Once the baby is sleeping, you stealthily stand up, tiptoe over to any one else in the room and stage whisper, "SHHHH! My babies are sleeping. You need to whisper."

A favorite trick of Zak's is (when the Girls begin to lose interest in the game) to say, "OH NO! Your baby just woke up and is TALKING! You better take care of that!" Then, Maddie runs off to "Shhhh!" her baby some more.

I sometimes have to intervene in this game when Maddie gets too carried away with being the "teacher" and speaks harshly to her babies. She can get pretty mean, and when I ask her who talks like that she usually ignores me. I'm guessing some of her teachers at school do when they get frustrated that they can't get twenty 3-year olds to fall asleep at the same time. I would get pretty frustrated too!

It's a good thing that both Girls are GREAT sleepers cause the whole routine is just too much work for me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yard work sucks (and so does house maintenance)

So for the most part, we hire people to do our yard work. I'm not sure why, but Zak has lots of reasons why this MUST BE DONE. I'll let him explain in 'comments' if he wishes, but will just say that when we lived in Chicago our yard was twice as big and he did the work himself. Moving on....

We had a little ant issue a few weeks ago, and then some estimates from pest guys about how to kill the ants. These pest guys are the best sales men on the planet. They go into the attic, oh and awe and cough, come out to tell you that "you've got a major ant problem, ma'am."

I would hardly call it 'major' Mr. Exaggerator. Then they tell you all the gross things in your attic. And I'm all...right, that's why we don't go up there. It's hot and there may be BUGS! Duh.

So one very nice pest guy from ABC Pest and Lawn wanted to charge me ONE THOUSAND SIXTY SEVEN dollars to kill everything. (I shit you not....$1,067!) PLUS $67 every month for maintenance (that could be conveniently withdrawn from my checking account). Apparently I'm in the wrong business!

Um, I think I need a second opinion.

Second pest guy owns his own business and is six foot nine inches tall and is over three hondo. Screw those little ants, I was a little scared to open the door for this guy! He was referred to Zak by a colleague at work, (since Zak's eyeballs had to be surgically re-implanted after I told him about the first guy's estimate) . The Giant Dude agreed with the Pricey Dude about the ants but left out all the drama about the ants eating the house for a snack this year. His fee was $40 for the first visit, and $80 every three months.

Okay! Deal!

The catch was that the Giant Dude wanted us to do some serious yard work. Like trim bushes! ICK! Make sure no plant life touches the house! AHHH! AND....take down this lattice and jasmine plant jungle that the ants use as their personal escalator to my attic. Um....we don't really to "construction work" around here, but we'll do the best we can.

So...two weeks went by and although the ants were not in the kitchen anymore, I could practically hear them in the attic. "The ants go marching one by one, hur-ah, hur-ah! The ants will eat your house today, hur-ahhh, hur-ahhh!"

We decided to just do it, and Zak (with his muscles, sheer determination, and electric buzz clipper thingy) attacked the yard. I served as the official eye candy clean up bitch, ladder holder, water fetcher, sunscreen applier. It was hard work, y'all. Then, after we trimmed and undid some little screws, I got to KARATE CHOP and KICK the lattice down. HAI YAH!

It didn't move much, but was fun.

So after we tried to knock it down, we discovered we needed to disassemble it piece by piece (four of them) and remove the 4X4's that held it up. Once we did it that yard was totally opened. The previous owners originally put it there for privacy (we assume), but since we don't really hang out nekkid outside anymore, we decided it would be best to take it down.

We now have another view of my favorite little shady garden that I used to only see from inside the kitchen:

So, Giant Dude came back yesterday to spray for ants, and was very pleased with all the progress we made (and I didn't even tell you what we did in the front yard-when it was 100 degrees outside). He sprays inside and out with an 'organic' ant killer. (Not sure how anything that KILLS can be 'organic', but whatever). *Cough Cough*

During spraying, he goes out a back door (that we never ever use) from the laundry room to a deck, and sees some water on the door jamb and a wet foundation under the deck. Well, it hasn't rained in weeks, and the sprinklers don't go that far, so he informs me that we must have a leaky pipe.


I call a plumber to check it out (who was so sweet and very cute!). He agrees that there must be a slow leak (since the drywall inside the house isn't wet), and begins to saw his way to China through the drywall to find the leak.

1. Under my bathroom sink is the least invasive--easy to cover up the hole by shutting the door....NO wetness.

2. Under the vanity is the second least invasive--drywall work would be needed, but painting such an area would be wetness, but he can HEAR dripping!

3. Above the laundry room door--drywall work and painting would be required. WETNESS! Problem found, but he can't reach the pipe that needs the be fixed. More sawing in the same spot, but wider. Nope. Maybe he was trying to be artistic with this hole?

4. Ceiling--this is your laasst chance, cutie. Found the leaky pipe and can reach it! Horray!

He fixes it in a few minutes, charges me $320 for his sawing and fixing and looking cute fees.

THEN, another man was invited into my house to see how much moolah it would take to patch up the handy work of the Plumber-Gone-Wild. That will be about $300, but hasn't been scheduled yet cause I'm outta dough.

I'm sure this post is particularly interesting only to my father. Who probably is sitting there reading it saying, "That's ridiculous, I can't believe the plumber cut all the drywall...he shoulda done XXXX instead." And, "$300 to repair drywall, CRAZY!" Dad, you're right, now move your little butt to San Antonio so they only handyman I have in my speed dial is YOU.--Love, Mandi

Monday, July 14, 2008

Had a garage sale and all I can show for it are these new plants

We participated in our subdivision annual garage sale a few weeks ago. Since we moved just about two years ago, we didn't really have that much to sell last year, and not much has changed. Except, oh yeah, tons o' BABY STUFF. If you came to our garage sale and you were not looking for BABY STUFF! and GIRL clothes 0-12 months, you just might as well have just moved along. And they did. Maybe it was because I said to everyone, "Its mostly BABY STUFF and GIRL clothes."

We didn't make much money, but had fun hanging out with my neighbors (who are professional garage sale-ers when they're not being physicians) and they made FOUR times the amount I did). I made several mistakes, as you probably already figured out:

1. I was a one trick pony. BABY GIRL STUFF! There were no less than five very pregnant ladies who were very excited about my stuff.

2. I priced my items way too high. Deep down inside, I really didn't want strangers buying the clothes that by preshus bah-bees used during their first year. As I priced the items, I would smell, reminisce and occasionally shed a tear about what this girl or that girl did while in that outfit. If I think back long enough it usually ended in poop explosion or long sleepless nights. SNAPOUTOFIT UTERUS!'

3. I was unwilling to negotiate too low on some (overpriced) items because I knew many of my items would do well on e-bay or consignment stores. Like the exersaucer or bouncy chair.

After a long five hours (including setting up, selling, and take down) we were hot and tired. We were done by about 12:00 along with most of the neighborhood.
Between customers that I shooed away, Zak and I had a long conversation about how garage sales don't do anything for our economy (because there is no buying, shipping, and selling of new manufactured goods...we're like economists, I know!), and we needed to do our small part to stimulate it. Actually, the new fresh smelly cash was burning a hole in Zak's pockets.

Zak always has some weird idea of how to spend money that I never thought of. Read: spend on stuff we really don't need. So what was it this time?????

PLANTS! When we moved from Chicago, we couldn't take any of our house plants with us so we gave them to our friends and neighbors. We also left back several for the people who bought our house (I'm sure they were thrilled with the Charlie Brown ficus tree we left them).

When we moved to San Antonio, we were too busy trying to keep one kid fed and clean and gestating another one, so plants didn't even cross our minds. We actually got a plant as a gift when Brooke was born, but I forgot to water it, so it didn't make it. (Hey! I was busy!)

So, we're giving them another shot. After a good financial investment in three palms and one good luck bamboo, we hope we can keep them alive and growing this time.

Friday, July 11, 2008

4th of July & Brooke's first haircut

We spent the Fourth of July at the Lake House with Zak's side of the family (sans his brother, Uncle Marcus). The weather was picture perfect and we had SO MUCH fun catching up and watching The Girls play with their Grandparents and Aunt.

Grandpa spent most of his time relaxing and watching the babies just like this:

Terra also brought her boyfriend, Pio, who made the best fried shrimp I have ever had in my life.

Shockingly, I forgot my camera and was so bummed! The pics here are taken with my phone so the quality is pretty bad. Aunt Terra had her camera, and used it for the family photo on top.

As you can see from the pictures, we spent 90% of the time outside enjoying the weather. Zak and I love having people at the house cause it gives us a little child care break and we can sneak off and go swimming in the lake or just lay in the hammock for a while.

Sisters planning sisterly sneaky things:

Grandma Mary is a former hairdresser, and both girls needed a trim, so....Brooke got her first haircut. The little wispy uneven baby hair in the back (aka her mullet) was chopped off. Grandma Mary had to do some acrobatics just to get her hands on Brooke. First, the "I'm not doing anything pose:"

Then, the sneak attack:

Then, the "twist and cut:"

I was just happy that no one was stabbed in the neck with the scissors! For the rest of the weekend, Mary was obsessed with unevenness and, "I just gotta get that one little section!"

I tried to make Terry and Mary feel guilty by giving them the "must visit at least every three months so the Girls will remember you" lecture. It's really just because Zak and I want to see them more than two or three times a year. Even though Brooke was scared of Terry at first, she eventually warmed up. And Maddie? That girl is NOT shy, and was anticipating the visit for several days prior to the holiday weekend. (I used the visit as an incentive for good behavior over and over again. She's a sucker like that!)

We didn't do much the entire weekend, except eat and hang out, which is exactly the way I like it. Maddie stayed up late (for the first time ever) to see fireworks (or sparklies as she called them). The girl had a running color commentary of the fireworks. She would go on and on about each one and describe it and tell us that it was her favorite and when are their going to be more, and can she stay up later, and ......are there going to be more sparkles in the sky tomorrow?

Next year! But it better not be that long until we see Terry and Mary again....are you two listening?!?!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

2 years ago

Life sure was different just two short years ago. We had just found out we were expecting Brooke, Zak found a new job and moved to San Antonio. Maddie and I stayed back in Chicago for about a month while I tied up lose ends at work and said goodbye to my friends.

It's down right SHOCKING to look back at pictures of Maddie two years ago, and read her "dear Maddie letters" that I wrote. I think she looks a lot like Brooke does now.

While sorting through and organizing my pictures today, I found this very important video that I don't think I ever have shown on my blog before. It was pre-YouTube, and I wasn't posting videos back then (I was trying but the Internet was not cooperating). Take a look:

At the very beginning of the video when I'm talking to Maddie, I am all breath-y and my voice cracked. I'm still surprised to know that Zak really didn't realize what Maddie was holding in her hand. It took him several minutes to see it was a pregnancy test. We had been trying to conceive for a couple of months, but he was getting ready for work (actually he resigned that very day from his Chicago job after just days before accepting the San Antonio job) and it was obviously the last thing on his mind!

Please don't be confused...this video was taken in June 2006 when I told Zak we were going to have Brooke. I am NOT pregnant, but simply wanted to preserve the video here on my blog.