Monday, August 31, 2009

Adding to the List

Seth's allergy to all things dairy has been well documented. Now that I'm a diligent food label reader, I am amazed at all the foods that contain some form of milk. Seth is tired of baby food, but the milk thing really limits what I can give him. Tonight I thought we'd give scrambled eggs a try...

Guess we won't be trying those again anytime soon. I think I'm going to buy stock in the company that makes Benadryl...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Word to the Wise

Warning: The following post contains an expletive. But it's necessary for the artistic integrity of the piece and it's really not any worse than your grandpa would say. If you can't handle it, don't read it.

I recently went with a friend to see the movie Julie and Julia. Of course I thought it would be good or I wouldn't have gone to see it. But it was really funny, which I wasn't expecting. There was a scene in the movie that struck a chord in me, so much so that I immediately took out my phone and put it in a note.

The character Julie is attempting to cook and blog her way through Julia Child's famous cookbook. When it comes time for the lobster dish, Julie whines and complains about having to kill a lobster. However will she manage... Her faithful readers offer support and encouragement for her plight, except for one. One reader, tired of the whining and complaining, simply comments, "Man up. Kill the damn lobster."

If ever I begin embroidering throw pillows, right next to the one that says "Life can't completely unsuck all in one day" will be one that shares Julie's reader's sentiments: "Man up. Kill the damn lobster."

Several months ago a friend of mine texted me in the middle of church. That's not her normal M.O., that's just how irate she was. A woman in her congregation was bearing testimony of her absolute knowledge that nothing bad will ever happen to her, and if something bad ever starts to happen to her, God will come down and stop it. Are you kidding me?!

I just spent an hour getting caught up on returning facebook messages from people I've lost contact with over the years. Guess what?! Bad stuff happens to everyone. At some point in every life there will come a moment, or a time, or a season that will knock you flat on your butt. But when the shock has passed and you get your land legs back, don't forget to man up and kill the damn lobster.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Life with Hunter

Sometimes I find myself wondering if Hunter is coming or going. Sometimes I think he might be wondering himself. His pants are always on backwards, his shirts are often inside out, or backwards, or both...

It's a battle I choose not to fight. I ask him to get dressed, he does, and we're good.
One thing I love about Hunter: he is always good for a laugh. At the track the other night, we were sitting on bleachers right above an ant hill. Hunter was fascinated by the frenzy in which they moved around. "I fink dey're hungry and dey can't find the frigerator."
Then, the next morning, he came into my room almost before the sun was up. Hunter: "You have crazy hair!" Me: "I do?" Hunter: "Yes, it's from your bed."
And just now, the prompting for the post. He was throwing a teddy bear around in the kitchen. I have a pretty strict no toys in the kitchen policy, so I reminded him: "Please don't throw that in the kitchen." Hunter: "I wasn't. I was catching it in the kitchen."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Backyard Update

Not a very interesting post I'm afraid, but so many of you have asked about the progress of the backyard that I thought I better post some more recent pics.

The pool as of 5 minutes ago: The plumbers are coming back sometime today to install a pop up jet on the baja step so the little littles have a fountain to play in, then I think we'll be ready for some shotcrete in the next day or so.

Though it's not really recognizable at this stage, this is the splash pad:

It took forever and completely blows the budget, but I have finally chosen the pool finishes. The white-ish paver surrounds the pool and is also the coping for the edge of the pool. The stacked slate goes on the columns on the back wall of the pool. Both materials will also be used to build the fire pit and bench on the other side of the yard. (The whole area has to be balanced or I'll twitch.) The blue and silver tile is for the waterline and will also be on the back wall around the columns. The silver will be tied in with stainless steel fire and water pots on top of each of the three columns on the back wall of the pool. Haha. Clear as mud?! I am sure the picture in your head exactly matches the one in mine...

You're going to need to see it when the sun hits it. It's beautiful. I'm keeping my fingers crossed to have it all done by Labor Day. I'm just about out of surfaces to decorate and areas to what?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

More Cookies

This is for Lisa, who thinks she's going to gain 10 lbs. from reading my blog and whose birthday is today...

At my house (that's English for "chez Bren") we take cookie making very seriously. You may have assumed this already just based on the number of chocolate chip cookie variations I've posted. I'm not worried; I think we're still pretty far from obsession status.
I don't ever really feel like I need an excuse for baking. It's therapeutic in a lot of ways, maybe that's why I do it so often. $10 worth of ingredients and a blog post are way cheaper than a therapy session. So off we go...

Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 c. butter flavored Crisco
1 1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbs. milk
1 Tbs. pure vanilla
1 large egg
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 c. milk chocolate chips
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 c. caramel bits
Combine shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla until well mixed. Add egg. Stir in all dry ingredients followed by the really yummy stuff. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Now it must be said that the key to baking as therapy is that you absolutely must give away at least half of what you bake. Otherwise you just create a whole new set of problems. This evening Brigham took a plate of cookies to our friend's house and, after serenading her with a Christmas carol, gave her some pretty crucial parting instructions:
"They've got caramel in them, so don't eat them with your dentures in."
So subtle, that boy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

He Likes Me! He Really Likes Me!

Brigham is my most difficult child, so when he's in a good mood we all celebrate. It's like Mardi Gras. Only we keep our shirts on...and we don't get drunk...and no one's looking for plastic babies in their cake...I guess it's really nothing like Mardi Gras.

Sunday morning caught Brigham in a good mood I guess. He decided, out of the blue, to make me breakfast in bed at 6:00 in the morning. I swear he didn't get this meal plan from me:

That's bread with peanut butter and peanut butter M&Ms, and a Milano cookie on the side. The real breakfast of champions...

Needing some time to clear my mouth of all the peanut butter, I offered him a bite. As he chewed his culinary masterpiece he said, "Wow. I'm a pretty good cook!"

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I have a heavy heart. I wish that was a self-deprecating fat joke, but it isn't. I've been thinking for a little while now, off and on, about all the pain there is in the world and about how, for whatever reason, God lets us feel it.

A friend of mine lost his baby girl last week. Just a couple of weeks away from her due date, his wife was in an accident and their baby died. She is their first child. I've thought so many times this week about the stages of grief, about where they are in the process right now. Another friend learned this week that in a matter of months she will lose her mom to cancer. She, too, is just beginning the process.

There is no part of grief that feels good, but I remember the awfulness of those early days and weeks and months so clearly. I remember being shocked to discover that the pain of losing a loved one is actually a physical pain. It settles right in the cavity of the chest where the heart once was and seems to penetrate deeper and deeper into the soul with every inward breath. It is an almost constant companion, an appendage like an arm or a leg, only it has no life of its own. It exists like a parasite to its host.

I think it's human nature to look for the hidden meaning in things, the lesson to be learned. I've decided that I don't think there always is one. Some things just are. Unless the meaning to be had or the lesson to be learned is just to find peace in suffering.

I have a pristine refrigerator. Bold statement, no? I'm talking strictly about the outside of it, not so much the inside. I used to love refrigerator magnets. The quirkier the better, and if I could write poetry with them, that was all the better. But as my life has become more complicated, my fridge has become less so. Only two magnets have survived my discriminating cut-backs over the years, and even those are tucked around the side. One is inconsequential for this post, but the other says this:

peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hot Rod

Remember that one time I took my kids camping in an alligator bayou even though I really don't love camping? Or alligators? Or the possibility of being eaten alive by one at night as I dream? I did that because I love my kids and I don't want them to have a lame childhood because they're stuck with just a mom. For that same reason, I now hang out for hours on end outside in 115 degree weather two days a week...Brigham has a new hobby and he's totally excited about it.

We are now a BMX family...That's Brigham at the starting gate, 2nd from the left.

Puttering around the track like an old man in his garden...The track looks empty because all the other riders are in front of Brigham...

Look at the size of that noggin!

And what's underneath that massive helmet when it's 115 degrees at 7 pm...

As I watched all the action I noticed that Brigham got a pretty decent start out of the gate, but then he'd just kind of drift around the track like he was on a Sunday drive. "You know, honey" I said, "the whole point of racing is to get around the track as fast as possible." I kid you not, this was actually news to him. "It is?!" He was shocked. "What if I just like to ride around?!" Hope I didn't ruin it for him.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Status Report

As promised, by the end of the work day today we have an enormous hole in our backyard.

This was the scene out back by midday:

And end of day:

I'll spare you more backyard pics for a couple of days. No more work is scheduled on it until Wednesday.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Not Your Typical Before and After

How long has it been since the last time I fell out of love with my blog? It happened again...oh well.

I've been working on kid stuff and house stuff and yard stuff. Now that I have finally stopped redesigning the pool and surrounding area (my contractor says he doesn't hate me...), we are getting started! I have some atypical before and after pics. A normal person would look at these and think I loaded them in the wrong order, but no.



How fun is that?! Not a single blade of grass left! The back yard has been completely demolished and I couldn't be happier about it. Except for this:

This is what you find in your laundry room when heavy machinery is ripping out your back yard. By the end of the day on Monday we should be the proud owners of an enormous hole, and probably more nasty scorpions... my bug guy Jon has already been put on notice.