Monday, January 31, 2011

Cupid Crunch

I know Valentine’s Day is two weeks away, and February doesn’t start until tomorrow, but is it ever too early to make treats under the guise of showing someone your love?

On our first Valentine’s Day together, a few months after we started dating, Patrick vowed to make Valentine’s Day, “my favorite holiday of the year”. I am pretty sure Valentine’s Day is not a holiday, but he did get me red roses, See’s chocolates, and a “little blue box”. It was pretty awesome.

After our first year of marriage (and joint finances), I told Patrick not to get me flowers for Valentine’s Day. They are overpriced, and they seem to die more quickly than flowers cut at any other time of the year. The romance is gone.

I made this yumminess today as a test run. I saw a similar recipe in a magazine and thought they would be a fun treat for the preschool Valentine’s party, and a nice alternative to cupcakes.

Cupid Crunch

Melt 1 cup white chocolate chips in the microwave. Mix in 3 cups of whole grain cereal. Normally I would choose Multigrain Cheerios because my kids love them, but today I used Oh’s cereal... because I love them. Mix in 1 cup of Craisins. You could substitute dried strawberries, or chopped up Red Vines... which is what I will be doing for the school kiddos. Spread it out on parchment paper and let it harden up a bit.

The boys approved. When I make these next week for the preschoolers, I am going to serve then in little cupcake papers... then eat the rest myself.

If you are reading this, my sweet husband, please do not get me flowers for Valentine’s Day. I would however like a small ice cream scoop. Thanks.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Five For Friday: 5 things NOT to do in your kid’s school parking lot.

New Mom’s for Xanax feature- Five for Friday. Basically this is my forum to vent about whatever insignificant/major annoyance is causing me angst this week. Your welcome!!!!!

Before I rant, I have to share this photo of the view from Vincent's school. As always, my photography skills do not do it justice!

So without further ado, here are the 5 things you should not do in the parking lot of your child’s school:

Do not leave your car parked unattended and boxing in 3 other cars. There are other spaces in the lot. Use them and walk a bit if you have to. The exercise and fresh air is good for your circulation. In the meantime, I will wait for 25 minutes in my car, with my empty Diet Coke, and three tired children, while you, inconsiderate picker-upper, do your business. I hope for your sake no one needs to go potty, or pukes. That would be really bad for you.

Do not flaunt your new subwoofer. We are mostly SAHM’s. We are not impressed by such technology. We are all calculating how many packs of diapers and pairs of shoes we could have bought with the money you paid for that silly speaker. The boom boom boom hurts our ears and rattles our bones...and not in a good way. We are old, have mercy on us.

Do not back into your parking space and take up two spots. Your shiny, European, two-door convertible is really pretty, and I am sure very expensive, but here are the facts: You have a car seat that is covered with graham cracker crumbs, and your windows are smeared with dirty kid fingerprints, just like the rest of us gals. Get over yourself and park normally like the mini vans. And by the way, that sippy cup is leaking milk all over your Coach leather backseat. Good luck getting the stench out.

Do not wear your hair in side braids when picking up the carpool. Seriously? You are not fooling anyone. You are not going to be mistaken for one of the 8th graders. We all know you are 40. Embrace your age, woman. And you should stop speaking to the person who told you it looks cute. Friends don't let friends look stupid!

Do not be huffy with the person engaged in the four above activities. Chances are they are your child’s room mother, or even worse, the PTA president. Your frustration will be noted and discussed all weekend in emails, telephone conversations and on the sideline of the Saturday soccer game. Keep your cool. Your kid’s future, and your reputation, depend upon it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Corn and Broccoli

Last spring, Patrick built a Square Foot Garden in the side yard. The boys loved it. We tended our garden three times a week and had a crazy successful first harvest with delicious homegrown tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, beets, radishes, romaine, bell peppers, and a very small watermelon. We made lots of yummy things with our yield. We also planted brussel sprouts. Patrick was pleased when they were a total flop.

For 2011 we decided to start early with a winter crop. This afternoon we planted two kinds of spinach, Sugar Snap peas, and swiss chard. All should be ready to harvest before Easter.

While we were planting our seeds Vincent asked a question that I thought was pretty conceptually deep for a four year old.

He said, “Mom, if I were a seed what kind of a seed would I be?”

A good mother would probably have seized this window of opportunity and explained to him that he started off much like a seed...

I am NOT that mother, so I replied that I thought he was corn, because he has hair the color of corn silks, and he is tall, and very, very, very sweet. That was pretty quick of me, huh? He seemed to like this description.

In turn, I asked Vincent what kind of seed I would be. (Meanwhile, Frankie is happily squirting ants, and occasionally the dogs, with the spray bottle.) Vincent thought for a minute and said, “Broccoli,” because my “eyes are green like broccoli,” and because he “loves broccoli,” and it is his, “favorite, just like Mom is my favorite”.

Our next crops will include broccoli and corn. Patrick may have to build another box.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Muffins, Man

Vinny learned the Muffin Man song at school.

I use “learned” loosely, as he really only remembers the first line of it, “Do you know the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man?”

He sings it with gusto, over, and over, and OVER again! And he likes to sing it when we bake together, which we do often.

This recipe is made every week at our house, usually on Fridays. I found it years ago in Parents magazine. I am a big fan of all things “Bisquicked”, so I knew it had to be good.

This is not a sweet, cupcake like muffin. It is a little denser, almost like a scone, and doesn’t fall apart when the kids eat it. If this bothers you, you can throw it in the microwave and put a little butter on it- this is my preferred method of eating just about everything (I blame my mother).

I use frozen blueberries because they don’t break when they are mixed in. Sometimes I substitute the blueberries for cranberries and add a little orange zest and a splash of orange juice. Next week we are going to try them with pineapple, coconut and some almond extract. It makes exactly 12 muffins.

The muffin man would approve!

Basic Blueberry Muffins

1 ¾ cups baking mix (Bisquick)

½ cup quick oats

½ cup sugar

¾ cup milk

1 large egg, beaten

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 cup blueberries

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 12 muffin cups. Mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Add blueberries and stir carefully. Place batter in cupcake liners. Bake for 17 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

R is for Redwood

We were reading a book about California before bed last night. One of the pages talked about all the trees in our state, specifically the redwoods. It went on to describe their size and where they grow.

Vincent interrupted my reading, something he never does (at least when I am reading), and we had the following exchange:

Vincent: “Mom, Did you know that woodpeckers have very sharp beaks.”

Me: “ Yes, I did. Can you tell me more about the woodpecker?”

Vincent: “ Well (he loves to start responses with the word well), they use their sharp and powerful beak to peck through the bark of trees to get insects that live inside. Then they eat the insects. I would like to visit redwood trees and see if we can find woodpeckers.”

Me: “Where did you learn that? At school?”

Vincent: “I am a scientist. I know stuff.”

In truth, I REALLY dislike birds. A friend in high school had one. It bit me. Repeatedly. I hated that bird.

Subsequently, I never gave much thought as to why woodpeckers peck wood. They are just woodpeckers. They do as their name states. So after tucking the scientist into bed I went and applied my finely skilled legal research skills to Ornithology (the study of birds).

I Googled woodpeckers.

Vinny was right. Woodpeckers use their beaks to, among other things, get to the insects living in the trunks of trees.

I continued to read about woodpeckers (because I have a lot of free time...especially at night...when the house is spotless...and there’s not a single toy out of place...or an unwashed dish in the see where I am going with this, right?).

When a woodpecker lays an egg it takes 11–14 days to hatch, and the chick is ready to leave the nest 18–30 days thereafter. The lifespan of the woodpecker is a relatively short 4-11 years.

I did the math. A mama woodpecker that lived to the age of four would have spent only 2% of her life with that baby bird. This made me sad.

I know we are talking about nature. These are birds. Birds lay lots of eggs. They can have many woodpecker chicks (about four at a time, if you were wondering). But how sad I felt for the mama bird that had to watch her bird leave the nest so quickly.

A trip to Sequoia National Park might be in order. Vincent can look for Woodpeckers. I can spend time with my baby birds. It is not long before they leave the nest.

P.S. - I promise I will not have a post with the word pecker in it again. I might have to break this promise. I am the mother to two boys.

The book we were reading is G is for Golden by David Domeniconi. Awesome illustrations and lots of stuff to learn. I highly recommend.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Every week many bloggers participate in Wordless Wednesday. The idea is to post a photo without any writing or caption, allowing the photo alone to convey the message. This will be my first WW post.

I have already broken the rules with this explanation.

It was necessary for the purpose of education. I am a former teacher. And a lawyer, therefore the rules do not apply to me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

That's How We Roll

Have you seen a professional cooking blog? They are pretty amazing. Not only are the recipes tasty, the photos of the cooking process and the end result are, in a word, tantalizing.

They ALWAYS start off with a shot of the ingredients you will need to make the recipe de jour. They are usually named-brand, high-end ingredients, in full jars, not yet streaked and sticky from use.

Well, this is not a cooking blog, and I am not a professional. I thought I would share a recipe I know well and love for my first recipe entry on Mom’s for Xanax. It is a cocktail. You should not be surprised.

Here is the cast of characters...remember it is what ALL great recipe blogs do. Yes, the bottles have all been opened. Yes, I am using some generic ingredients. However, the booze is the good stuff. I’m just keeping it real.

And that will be the last photo you get. No end result shot, no pretty glass with garnish. Just blend it and drink it. It will make you happy...I promise.

Dr. Bob’s Cocktail

1 large frozen lemonade concentrate

3 shots vodka

1 shot Chambord

splash of lemon juice

Pour into blender. Fill to the top with ice. Blend. Consume. Makes 4 servings.

I always make these when the kids Godparents NaKesha and Dave come over. They were here last night bearing gifts, including this, a huge inflatable ball of fun. I call it the “hamster wheel”.

It took over an hour to inflate with an air compressor. The boys love it. It takes up an absurd amount of space in the garage. The boys love it.

It is only meant for one person at a time. The boys love it, together.

They also brought glow sticks.

Did I mention that NaKesha and Dave don’t have kids yet? The boys LOVE them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Our Giving Tree

Have you read the book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein? I would guess you have as it is very popular in most first grade classrooms. Simply put, the seemingly simple story chronicles a boy growing up and his changing relationship with an apple tree. It starts like this:

“Once there was a tree... and she loved a little boy. And every day the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples. And they would play hide-and-go-seek. And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. And the boy loved the tree....very much. And the tree was happy.”

As the story continues, the tree gives of herself to the boy until there is nothing left of the tree but a stump. Even then the tree offers her stump to the boy to rest.

Literary scholars have debated the meaning of the story. Some say that it is a story of greed- greed of the boy who continually takes from the tree. Others see it as a commentary on childhood in that a child’s needs and desires get more complex as he grows. Still others see it as a love story- one about a mother’s selfless giving to her child, to the point of depleting all her resources, and still loving the child in the end.

I like to believe the last interpretation.

We have our own giving tree in the back yard. It is an orange tree. Every fall it develops fragrant, milky white buds. Come January, the sweetest, juiciest oranges are begging to be picked. The tree produces so much we always have enough oranges to share with family and friends.

A few of her branches climb over into our elderly neighbor’s yard. I have offered to have his side trimmed back but he refuses. The tree gives to Jerry as well.

Our tree has seen her share of abuse. Franklin likes to whack at her with sticks, and swords. Vincent will pick her fruit before it is ripe. Rain water will puddle up around her base after a storm, leaving the soil surrounding it mucky for days. The dogs have peed on her trunk.

Yet, the tree still gives. Much like a mother.

And the family was happy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

All is Fair in Love and (Nerf) War

The boys got Nerf guns for Christmas.

For months they had been asking for Nerf blasters. This started when we saw a commercial for them while watching a Halloween special on TV. Everyday they would ask if we could get them. Everyday I would tell them to put it on their Christmas list. This toy became the must have of the year. It was the toy they would cry over if, surrounded by ripped wrapping paper and dozens of other expensive and less violent play things, it was missing on Christmas morning.

Being the responsible and prudent woman I am known to be, I researched the best Nerf gun for a preschooler and a toddler. I wanted to find an gun the kids could shoot and load themselves. An age appropriate gun.

Instead, what I found is a subculture of Nerf FANATICS. These people are intense and slightly warped. Never have I seen more customer reviews, written by 30-something, childless men, for a children's toy with comments like, "great as a side arm, but not a primary weapon."

I also found that there exists a large variety of guns and ammunition, with the youngest age recommendation being 6+ years. I did not let this deter me, rather I consulted a top military arms expert, Patrick. We decided on the Nerf Barrel Break IX-2. A double barreled, pump action gun using Whistler Darts.

I didn't want to be a glory hog, so Grandma and Grandvader got the boys their guns. I bought one for Patrick. He bought one for me. The excitement in the room on Christmas was overwhelming. The guns were removed from their boxes immediately. The Chin asked how Grandma knew exactly what he wanted. Bullets flew around the living room. Not once did I say, "you'll shoot your eye out."

In the two weeks since Christmas morning we have enjoyed a number of Nerf wars in the front yard. I have learned:
  1. Nothing warms a mom's heart more than her four year old yelling, "I'm going in," and "not today!"
  2. All troops follow orders (Nerf rules) except for the biggest and the oldest. That soldier shoots his wife in the face.
  3. Getting shot in the face stings.
  4. Sons will avenge a sneak attack on their mother (see above), even if it is just by throwing a handful of bullets in the general direction of the sniper.
  5. Never look down the barrel of a gun.

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's official...

I have quit my job. I guess it is not 100% official, as I have not told my employer, so Dad if you are reading this, I quit...and you owe me some money.

This is a decision that has been weighing heavily on my mind and heart for months, then I found out we would be loosing the most awesome nanny in the world come the new year. This may seem to be a silly and dramatic decision as I was only working 2 days a week, but it needed to be done. I know it will disappoint my mother. I can hear her disapproving sigh as I type, but Smiles needs me- middle child angst is a serious thing. He needs his mommy. Now that I don't have the thrill of family law to occupy those few days a week, how will I fill my time? Certainly not with something frivolous like cleaning the bathroom and staying on top of laundry.

Since the birth of The Chin I have struggled with keeping family updated on the happenings of the kids and my communication with friends is sporadic at best. Therefore, what better a tool than the blog to keep everyone informed of the comings and goings of our family, and make me feel even more inadequate for not updating. It's perfect!

Finally, I wanted to explain the name of the blog, and to reassure you. I am not addicted to Xanax. I promise in a few years it will not be exposed that I am an addict like that silly woman who wrote books about wine with play dates, then later wrote a memoir about her 12 step program. Not me. In fact, I have not had a Xanax in over three years. This is not because it has lost it's status as my go-to pharmaceutical of choice, rather, it is contraindicated while breastfeeding. As often as I think to myself during the day, "a xanie would really help right about now," I do not want to mess with the infant brain development of The Girl. She is destined to negotiate world peace, find the cure for the most terrible of maladies, and win an Olympic gold metal. And Patrick and I need someone to support us in our old age. Why risk it.

Mom's for Xanax is the name of my fantasy football team. I am strong and consistent at the beginning of the season, only to fizzle out by about week eight. This blog may reflect that.