Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Give Me Your Thoughts

Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to the topic of gossip, and before I finalize my thoughts, I'd like your opinion. What constitutes gossip? I mean never having a conversation about another person seems a little naive. We humans, especially the female type, are all about relationships and connections. Certainly inquiring about a mutual friend does not constitute gossip, or does it? Or is it the intent that accompanies it?

In your opinion, where does conversation end and gossip begin?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Best Snickerdoodle Cookies I've ever Eaten

Tonight for Family Home Evening we made snickerdoodles, and I mean to tell you this recipe from my friend Julia rocks! Coming from me, that is really saying a lot because, usually, as far as I'm concerned, if it is not a chocolate chip cookie, it is not a cookie worth putting in my mouth. But these...well, they make the list for sure. Yummy! Here's the recipe. I bet you can't eat just one...or is that just me?

1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2-3 c. flour

Cream the butter, sugar, and eggs. Mix in cream of tartar, baking soda, vanilla, and salt, then mix in flour. Start with 2 1/2 c., but I usually add about 1/4 c. more to get the dough a little stiffer. However, it should still be somewhat soft; don't get carried away. Form a teaspoonful into ball and roll in sugar and cinnamon. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Do not flatten cookies. They will spread out as they bake. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Uninvited Guests

In the last week I have:
found two of these (alive!)

and one of these (dead!)

in. my. house!!!

Hey, I'm all for hospitality, but this is where I draw the line. The thing is, we have lived here three years without seeing one scorpion. Now my friend down the road has had them the entire time, but not us, and I thought we were safe. Supposedly they "do not migrate," but apparently they do, because they've decided to come chill in our pad for a while!

The first one was out in our garage. We thought it was just a fluke, one that came in on the leaf blower our neighbors had borrowed. It was gross and nasty, but I was sure we wouldn't see another.

But then two nights later, Griffin announced rather gleefully, "Hey! There's a scorpion!"

Sadly, Mr. Wicke replied, "No there isn't. Now get in there and brush your teeth." (Yeah, we are all about building that high level of trust with our children. Don't worry, we are saving money for their probable counseling.) But the real point is that upon closer inspection, sure enough Griff was right: A full grown, adult, bark scorpion (those are the nasty ones), on the second floor of our house, right outside my baby boy's door! That is not a fluke! (You may still hear the reverberations of my muffled scream.)

But that's not all. Oh no. On Monday night during family home evening, I thought I saw something under one of the bookcases in the living room. What the heck is that? Reading my squinted eyes and confused expression, Thomas interrupted the important point he was making.


"Sorry...but could you see what is under there?"

He inspected but clearly didn't want to say anything out loud. Perhaps I have a wee history of over-reacting.

"What is it? Seriously. What?"

That's when he went for nonchalant. "Oh, it's just a dead mouse."

And that's when, no kidding, I started to cry. Laughing because I knew I was utterly ridiculous, but crying nonetheless. In front of our children. I am one smooth operator.

But come on!!! Isn't that just too much for one week? I don't feel safe in my own home, and don't think I'm crawling into bed without a full and complete bed check every night or walking around barefoot in this joint anymore. No way!

Some house guests just make things really uncomfortable!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hi Turtle. I'm the Hare.

One thing I am not: Consistent. Never have been. I am either at 110 with my hair on fire or at 2 MPH. Kind of drives me crazy; kind of works for me, too. I get a lot done at 110. But today was back to the gym after about 4 weeks off at 2. And I'm tired. Too tired to write. Too tired to even be mad that I've let myself get out of shape again. Too tired to contemplate going back again tomorrow. But not too tired to wonder, what the heck is wrong with me?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What? This Old Thing?

As a new kindergartner Logan is experiencing the thrill of receiving invitations to many birthday parties. The social life has begun, but she's taking it all in stride.

Last week after going through her school folder and reading the latest invite, I said excitedly, "Logan! You get to go to a birthday party at Peter Piper Pizza next Saturday!" knowing that she would be over the moon. As I have said before, my children have a fondness for Peter Piper Pizza.

But she surprised me with this: "Yeah..." A little ho hum about the whole thing if you ask me.

"What's wrong? You love Peter Piper Pizza."

"I guess I was looking for...more golf or something."

See, we've ruined her forever. After surviving Griffin's fourth birthday, everything else dulls in comparison.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Birthday Horror Story Part II

"Oh my gosh! What are we going to do?" The question isn't really directed at anyone. It is just giving voice to the incessant whirl going on in my brain as I watch the poop continue to travel out of Griffin's shorts and down his legs. We are in public, I mean very public, people walking by kind of public with no bathroom in sight. Getting him the prerequisite 75 yards from here to there seems a monstrous task. In fact merely picking him up appears undo-able.

"It's on my foot!" It feels like he is yelling.

"Shh, okay, okay," I soothe, and to avoid drawing attention to ourselves, I maneuver my body between him and the passersby, shielding him from sight as much as possible.

Thomas has quickly disappeared inside and now returns with a fistful of napkins. We've determined that we are going to have to stop the leakage before we can get him inside to the bathrooms. Those underwear are going to have to come off. While Thomas attempts that behind a bench and a pillar, I am in charge of cleaning the remaining excrement off the pavement. With some napkins. I nearly vomit. The napkins go in the garbage can, and I momentarily consider the poor minimum-wage teenager that will have to empty that. It is only briefly though; I've got bigger fish to fry.

"Hi, do you have a plastic bag I can have?" At least we can wrap the nasty underwear up before we throw them away. Thousands of diaper changes have taught me something. I head back outside with my begged-off bag to find Thomas gingerly peeling the layers off the boy. Poop is everywhere. Many napkins later, Griffin is relatively cleaner, at least when compared to where we started, but we definitely need a bathroom, and to get there we are going to have to pass many, many more people. I hate the people. This would all be so much easier without them.

"We can't very well carry him in naked. We're going to have to put the shorts back on at least," is my adamant suggestion.

"They are a mess."

"Well, what do you want to do? What are our options here?" Our discussion has taken on the seriousness of nuclear peace treaty negotiations.

The pants go back on, smearing more poop on his leg. More napkin swiping ensues. Then the boys disappear inside to find the bathroom. My job is to keep my eye on Logan.

Two seconds later, Thomas is back outside, without Griffin. His annoyance is palpable. "They are out of paper towels in the men's room. Will you go get some out of the ladies'room?" He has left our feces covered son alone in a stall of a public bathroom, but who am I to judge? Logan is deep inside the jungle gym, happy and oblivious. It will take two minutes to get the paper towels he needs.

With a quick look back I head inside with him, clean the ladies' room out of paper towels, and hustle back outside. Not being able to see her right away, I start calling her name, yelling up inside the slides and staircases. No answer. I call again. Still nothing. Are you kidding me?

In the next moment I turn to find Logan coming around the corner with another family apparently helping her find her loser set of parents. I run up to her. "Oh, honey! I was just calling for you!" She is sobbing. The good parents are obviously unimpressed with me. I offer them a lame thank you but no explanation. There is only so much humiliation one person can take in an evening.

Twenty minutes later Thomas and Griffin are back outside. And here is where we cross way over the white trash line. I know it. I am fully aware that the next sentence may alter your perception of us forever. I don't care. Here it is: We go miniature golfing anyway. Despite the fact that our son's shorts have been rinsed out in a public toilet, we put them back on him and press forward, because there is no way I am going to do this all over again next weekend! No way, no how, people. It has taken us two days to get here, and now that we have faced the jaws of hell, we are going to finish it whatever it takes!

Damn it! We came here to have good time, and we are all going to have a good time, do you hear me! Now get out there in your nasty poopy pants and start golfing! Oh, and by the way, happy birthday, honey!"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Birthday Horror Story Part I

It's been quiet over here in Tea Party Land, and I apologize for my sudden disappearance. Maybe this will give you an idea of what we have been up against.

Oh my...where to begin? Well, how about the beginning? The 12th was Griffin's 4th birthday. To celebrate as a family, we decide to go to Peter Piper Pizza and a movie. Oh, if only Hollywood would have cooperated. Where is a good kid's movie when you need one? Instead it turned into miniature golfing. Curses on you, Hollywood!

The plan was to for Daddy to drop work a little early so we could golf first, then eat dinner and still make it home for regular bedtime. As per usual, nothing goes as planned around here, so we didn't get out the door until 5:30 or so. We ditch the original plan and head to Peter Pipers. The kids need to eat.

Evidently the kids also "need" to win very cheap, overpriced toys, which takes a longer than anticipated, and a few extra quarters I might add. In the end, after $7.00, Griff contentedly walks away with a 1/2 inch tall ninja guy and fake plastic Dracula teeth, and Logan is thrilled with her pink plastic straw with ribbon tied on the end that passes for a wand.

Anyway, by the time we left it was just too late to attempt the golfing, so we promise the kids that Saturday night, instead of mom and dad's date night, we would take them miniature golfing. It's a compromise they're willing to make. Me?...I'm not so sure. In hind sight, we should have gotten the babysitter.

It was a full, full day, and frankly by the end of it, the last thing I wanted to do was take the kids miniature golfing. But a promise is a promise, so the evening found us pulling into the Golfland parking lot. And that's when the fun began.

"I need to go potty," Griff announces as we jumped out of the car.

"Are you serious? Griff, you just went two times!" is my tired reply. Seriously, we had just pulled over to let him water the plants roadside.

But it's a long walk from the parking lot, and what with all the skipping and shouting, and general childish anticipation, by the time we reach the front door both of us have forgotten about the potty. On a scale of 1-10 the kids' excitement level is about 15. "Can we play that game!? Can we have ice cream?!" Two kids at level 15 is hard to take, as is the layout at Golfland. After winding our way through the arcade and snack shop, we finally find the miniature golf rental booth. Of course there's a line. The kids, completely unaware of any aggravation, spot the huge jungle gym. "Dad, Mom, Dad, Dad! Can we play on that? Pleeeeaaaaassssee?"

"Okay, but just for a minute." Thomas hands me the debit card and follows the kids to keep an eye on them.

"Do you have a picture ID?"

"Of me? No. Just a minute let me get my husband. Thomas! Come here for a second."

And in that amount of time, things start to fall apart. I explain to Thomas that he needs to show them his ID and then we trade places. Except I can't find Griffin. "Logan. Do you see Griffin in there?"


Okay, he can't be far...Thomas is walking over..."I can't see Griffin..." Wait a second, is that him? Under the bench? "Griff, what are you doing?..."

And that's when it came to me, and I said out loud to Thomas, "He's pooping!" And not only is he pooping, but it is suddenly clear that he has tried to get rid of the evidence by wiping it away with his arm.

Thomas quickly pulls him out and sets him on his feet only to find that the poop begins to drip out of his shorts and form two little piles on the cement. Both Thomas and I are frozen in some sort of horror.

To be continued....

How to contact Micky D's

Here is their website. Or you can contact them via snail mail here:

McDonald’s Corporation
2111 McDonald's Dr
Oak Brook, IL 60523

Hope you have a happy and hoochie-free day. Tee Hee.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ladies Unite!!!

It's time to do something! Did you read my post about Mudflap Girl? If you want a prime example of that subtle sexual messaging of our young girls just take a drive through McDonalds. Madame Queen did. Read her post about it here.

I couldn't agree with her more, and I think we need to send a message. It's time to write a letter or two, ladies. We need to express our disgust and our outrage. We need to lend our voice to the protection of our baby girls who do not need to feed on the overt sexual garbage that is fed to them.

Will you do it? I'll try to find the appropriate addresses and post them, and then let's write. And let's get our friends to write. What let's not do is accept it. No! Let's stand strong and shout into the wind.

My 5 year old does not need to bring sexy back. Does yours?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Logan's Glamour Shots

My Logan is a beautiful girl, but she has a history of taking really bad pictures. Her school photo last year was, quite literally, laugh out loud funny. That photographer captured a look that I have never seen before or since, and there was only one way to describe it--very special. It was if she had a sudden attack of Bell's Palsy and was only able to smile with half of her mouth; her eyes communicated a bad mix of apprehension and confusion as if she might be sick any moment, and her head was tragically heavier on the left side, causing an unusual tilt. Sadly, that was the picture that was used on everything. The yearbook, of course, my mother's day present, the class autograph page, the rememberance book...well, it just went on and on. She'll be very proud one day I am sure.

This year was better. She was determined not to repeat the "bad smile" as she called it, and according to her, this time around, she was trying to look "talented." I guess that translates to "a little stiff." But she must have been pleased because while looking at them on the way home from school she said, "Am I really that cute?"

Oh, to be five again. The world looks pretty good from that perspective.

Stirring the Pot and Bringing Peace

A couple of weekends ago I experienced a personal best. A momentous occasion, if you will. Yes, it finally happened: I made a meal my father-in-law raved about.

Now, Bob, if you read this, now or ever, you must admit that you are a bit...well...should we say...finicky? Remember now: No one can fix eggs the way you like them except your wife. I tried--only once. And then there was the time I made lunch and you ate the deli sandwich instead. C'mon. Admit it. You're finicky.

Well, now that we've gotten that straight, I can get back to the rest of you. So this is my favorite soup to make; it's super easy and so delicious, and since it has received Bob's stamp of approval, I am going to share it with the world in hopes of bringing fathers and daughters-in-law closer. Who knows? My personal best may just turn into a Nobel Peace Prize.

Tomato Artichoke Soup
4 T butter
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
1 T minced garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1 (15 oz.) can artichoke hearts (NOT marinated), coarsely chopped
1 (28 oz.) can chopped tomatoes with juices
4 C chicken broth
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 C sour cream

In a large saucepan, heat butter and saute the onion for 5 min. until soft. Add the garlic and thyme and saute another minute. Add the artichoke hearts, tomatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cover, simmer for 30 minutes. Add the sour cream, stir well and simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serves 8.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Deep Thoughts, by Laurel

Some random questions swimming around my brain tonight:

1. Have they done something to Jennie Garth's front teeth? On Dancing...Stars (yes, I know that I am too young to be watching this show. It's like Lawrence Welk on Speed, right? But I have fond memories of watching Lawrence Welk with my Grandmother.) Anyway, on Dancing she looks like she hasn't gotten used to her new teeth yet; have you noticed? She's always sucking on them, and they look a little big for her head. What gives? She's such a pretty girl. Why mess?

2. Will I ever get my son to wear anything but the Spiderman costume I bought for Halloween? It's been 3 days now. And why did I let him wear it so early?

3. What am I going to do for fun with the kids over fall break? Any suggestions?

4. Does my dog know she needs a good grooming (seriously--she's beginning to sport poodle dreadlocks)? And does it effect her self-esteem? I know I need a good grooming, and I'm a bit low about it.

5. Plastic surgery--not the grooming I was talking about, just in general--for or against?

If you have the answers or even an opinion, please feel free to weigh in.

Friday, October 5, 2007

You're It!

Melissa tagged me! And it's a good thing because I don't have the time to write something brilliant, witty, or obnoxiously opinionated. I'm sure you're disappointed.

So here goes my list:

5 Things I was doing 10 years ago:
1. Working with and monitoring the academic progress of at risk highschool kids. Most of them were Arapahoe Indian living on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.
2. Remodeling our first home which had been built in 1908. We were young and dumb.
3. Working on our young marriage.
4. Doing the occasional play/musical.
5. Trying to grow up.

5 Things on my To-Do List Today:
1. Go to lunch with girls.
2. Go on a date with Mr. Wicke.
3. Find a couch for my brother-in-law.
4. Fold my laundry that is in the dryer.
5. Till the garden.

5 Snacks I enjoy:
1. Peanut butter cup ice cream
2. Mint chocolate chip shakes
3. Chips and salsa and diet coke
4. Popcorn and diet coke
5. Crackers and cheese, jalepeno-stuffed green olives, and diet coke

5 Things I would Do if I were a Billionaire:
1. Pay off our house
2. Travel
3. Help the people I love
4. Start a program inner-city kids where they help work a farm during the summer
5. Hope my life didn't change that much

5 of my Bad Habits:
1. Popping my knuckles and my neck (gross I know)
2. Eating too much ice cream (I blame Mr. Wicke. He started it.)
3. Expressing my opinions too readily.
4. Staying up too late/not getting enough sleep
5. And expressing my opinions too readily.

5 Things I will Never Wear Again:
1. Big, permed hair
2. My Jr. Prom dress. A huge regret!
3. Acid-washed jeans
4. Jelly shoes
5. Neon anything

5 Favorite Toys:
2. Swimming pool
3. I-pod
4. Computer
5. Books, books, books (is that a toy?)

6 People I Tag:
1. Amber
2. Megan
3. Katie
4 Madame Queen
5. Rochelle
6. Full Hands Mom

Monday, October 1, 2007

We Gotta' Get Rid of this Chick--Forever

There are so many reasons that I hate this girl and everything for which she stands. Generally though, when I see her, she is attached to the back of some redneck/trucker's pickup or long haul trailer, and I just shake my head as I consider the source and send up a little prayer of gratitude that the men in my life are nothing like that. No, the men in my life see me as more than boobs and lipstick and have enough respect for womanhood that their idea of honor is far better than plastering our image on a mudflap, which so clearly smacks of dragging us through the mud that no woman should have anything to do with a man who insists on said behaviour. In any way. Ever.

But the other day was a new experience altogether. While waiting in line to pick up my sweet daughter from kindergarten, I pulled behind a red Malibu and quickly noticed the silver truckergirl license plate holder: two faceless women on either side, on their knees, butts and breasts jutting out, head thrown back, long hair flowing. My blood started to boil, and not because I'm against sex in general. I even consider myself a little sexy, but I am not dumb enough to think that that is all I have to offer the world. What that license plate holder and every trucker girl mudflap says to me is that women are nameless, faceless, objects without meaning beyond their physicality. And that is why I was mortified to realize that the license plate holder in question did not belong to the usual redneck guy, but rather to a woman. And not only a woman, but a mother of at least two adorable little girls whom I've seen her pick up on two occasions now. That is what made me the sickest of all.

Because if that woman values the anonymous sex-kitten image enough to visually promote it to the world, I worry about the subtleties of gender issues she is teaching her girls every day. Will their value be measured by the size of their breasts or the number of men willing to bed them? Will they believe they have gifts of mind and spirit that can bless mankind or will they settle for being a great lay?

Do men suffer the same messaging regarding their sexuality? I don't think so. Chippendale's may be the closest we get, thankfully. I would hate to see a mudflap of a man in profile with a giant erect penis. Gross, right? And yet, that is the only correlation I can draw to the objectification of women we see so often.

There would be many, I guess, who would say I'm blowing this out of proportion, but I think not because women are surrounded by this kind of subtle messaging on every side, and if we don't recognize it, call it out, and name it, our girls will go on absorbing it, digesting it, and allowing it to define them in some way. That definition is dangerous and in some cases an absolute destroyer. If sex is all they are worth, then they will give themselves away a piece at a time hoping to find the love they have never felt for themselves.

I'm not denying the significance of sexuality in the human experience, but it is when we are defined by it that we disregard all of the qualities that give us meaning, that make us unique and worth loving in the first place. That is something the "mudflap girl" will never get.