Thursday, November 26, 2009


It's no secret that I don't like to cook. It's way down low on my list of favorites. I do it solely out of obligation and necessity.

But here it is, Thanksgiving. The cooking-est holiday of the year--and year after year, regardless of where we commemorate the day, I am always asked to prepare exactly one dish. This is it:

It doesn't photograph well so I'm sure you're hardly impressed, but if you haven't met already let me introduce you to Cookie Salad. Yes, that's right. Cookie Salad. Despite all my possible charms, Cookie Salad is the reason I am invited to Thanksgiving dinner. Without it, I seriously don't believe I would make it through the front door. I've taken it to potlucks before where it has been sadly mistaken for a really plain potato salad, until one unsuspecting soul takes a bite. Then the bells sound and the bowl is emptied. It's that good.

Cookie Salad
2 cups buttermilk
2 small boxes of vanilla instant pudding
16 oz. Cool Whip
2 cans pineapple tidbits, drained
2 large cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 package of Keebler Fudgestripe cookies
In a large bowl whisk together buttermilk and pudding powder. Gently fold in the Cool Whip, trying not to stir too aggressively or it will go flat. Add the fruit, stirring gently. Break up the cookies and stir those in as well. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving.
(The night before you plan to make this, put the cans of fruit and the Cool Whip in the refrigerator. The fruit is better added cold and frozen Cool Whip is a little difficult to work with for this. Also, don't go generic on the Fudgestripe cookies. All things are not created equal.)
Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, with or without the Cookie Salad!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An OCD Christmas

A couple of days ago our home was all a buzz with talk of Brig's latest quandary. Is Santa real or not? I told him it was up to him to decide for himself. He believes, but that doesn't alleviate his suffering; it just creates a new problem. What if he believes in Santa, but Santa isn't real after all. Then his kids, when he has them, won't get anything for Christmas. He hasn't come up with a solution for that one yet, but Hunter, always listening in the background, has. "I believe in Mom," he said. For someone still having issues with potty training that is one smart kid.

I've been dreading the impending holidays for some time now. I think Thanksgiving will be okay, but the idea of doing the whole after the kids go to bed Christmas Eve thing by myself is hardly appealing. (You know what I mean, right? I'm trying not to out anyone here, just in case I have young readers.) So I've been trying to put a little jingle in my step despite my real feelings. For me this means having projects to work on: new stockings for the entire family, handmade Christmas cards, and a ridiculously fun new decorating scheme for the tree. To have the time to get all these projects done I knew I needed to bust out all my Christmas shopping pronto. With two great formulas, I got all of it done in one evening. Kids and extended family. Enough of my friends and family have asked for my system that I figured it would be easiest to just blog it.

My kid formula is not original, I read it on a blog last year, but it was too late to incorporate then. Here it is: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. 4 items. (And stockings of course.) It's clear, it's organized and it's concise. What obsessive-compulsive dreams are made of! So go to your favorite kid clothing store and buy an outfit or article of clothing for each kid and check it off the list. Go to the bookstore, pick out a book for each kid and check it off the list. You get the idea. And you're doing all this as Santa's helper, of course.

I am crazy excited about my formula for all the extended family, but I have to be vague so I don't ruin it for all my extended family members who read my blog. I'm excited about it because it was fun to think up, fun to put together, it will give the recipients some insight into our family, and it has the potential of turning into an annual tradition. Each family member picked a favorite thing (or I chose it for them, just knowing their favorites) and we bought 8 of them. Everything will be wrapped with a tag saying whose favorite the item is and one of each item goes in a basket for each of the extended family members. So for my family they are "Five Favorites" baskets. (I included one of Matt's favorites. I'm not done being sentimental yet.) Some ideas for favorites are movies, books, board games, video games, candy bars, treats, restaurant or store gift cards, magazine subscriptions, museum memberships, scented candles, favorite type of popcorn, favorite color of play-doh...depending on the categories you choose you could spend as much or as little as you want on this. It works for any budget. And every year the kids can decide what their favorite thing is to share with the rest of the family.

And there you go. The shopping is done and I can go back to building birdhouses and looking for a stuffed peacock to sit atop my Christmas tree.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Family Pics

I am a sucker for cute family pictures. As a necessary component of the cuteness, I'm one of those people who insists everyone's outfits coordinate. They don't have to match, but they do have to coordinate. This is partially an act of rebellion. Growing up, our family photo sessions always came with a wardrobe free-for-all. Our family pictures were always awful. I think the two conditions are related. (This is where my mom will protest...She's going to say that they were not awful...She's going to attest that our family pictures were beautiful...She is not objective...I love my mom.)

A couple of weeks ago we headed down to the Mesa Arts Center for a photo session with our good friend Cami Epperson. To add an element of Matt in addition to those cherubic little faces, I dressed the boys in pants, white shirts and Matt's neckties...coordinating neckties. I haven't seen all the pictures yet, but here's a sneak peek at a few she just put on her blog:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What I Figured Out Today

I've had a really crappy week. Like a cry-myself-to-sleep-every-night-my-friends-keep-bringing-me-Dr.Pepper-my-bishop-is-texting-me kind of week. Don't feel sorry for me and post all kinds of sweet comments about how difficult my life is and how anyone in my situation would have a crappy week sometimes, because I bring it on myself. I feel this huge weight on my shoulders to have everything all figured out. To know what I'm supposed to be when I grow up, to have a future mapped out for my kids, to understand where we're supposed to be and how we're supposed to get there, to know how to be the mom and the dad...It's daunting and I think way too much.

Yesterday on Facebook my status update said something dismal about needing a break from trying to figure things out all the time. Today I followed it up saying I've got it all figured out. Some of you have expressed some curiosity...

This morning while I was on the elliptical I caught an episode of Glee on Hulu. I'm not a regular watcher, but I'm current on all my other shows and needed something to watch. It was the episode where the gay kid in Glee Club uses the Beyonce song "Single Ladies" as his personal mantra. He plays it as he tries out for the football team. It pumps him up and gives him confidence and turns him, and eventually the whole football team, into star athletes that do their dads proud from the stands.

It's amazing to me what tiny things can impact moods and environment. Music is huge. If I had to make a list of things I can't live without, my XM radio would be on the short list. It's in the kitchen and I have it on more than it's off. A few nights ago we were getting ready for dinner and the boys were particularly grouchy. All 3 of them. I was thisclose to screaming when I decided to crank up the radio and demand a 3 minute dance party instead. As I shook my groove thang right there in the kitchen the boys looked at me like I had lost my mind. One at a time I grabbed their hands and made them dance. One at a time they started to smile. By the time we actually sat down for dinner they were little angels. Just because of a radio and a 3 minute dance party.

I've never watched the Mary Tyler Moore show. A friend of mine loved it growing up, but I could never understand why. One thing I did understand, though, is how cool it would be to have your own theme song. Of course Mary Tyler Moore was skipping all over town throwing that stupid hat up in the air every day on her way to work: she had an awesome theme song that started playing the second she stepped out her door every morning.

So this is what I figured can get yourself through anything if you've got an awesome theme song playing in your head.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween 2009

My kids really love Halloween. It freaks me out a tiny bit. They don't just like the dressing up and getting candy part, they like the gore and spooky parts too. This is the sign that has been on our front door for the past month:

Inviting, no? My favorite part of the sign is how Mr. B clearly specified that it was written in blood. Wouldn't want anyone standing on our front porch to be confused about what we use to write our welcome signs.

Brig decided early on that he wanted to be The Grim Reaper. He is by far the creepiest of my kids.

Hunter wanted to be a mummy. I asked him for months if he was sure he wanted to be a mummy. Indeed. Two nights before the first of the Halloween festivities I pulled out Hunter's skeleton costume from last year, hoping I might be able to persuade him to wear it one more year. He took one look and said, "That's not me." So the day before party #1 I spent hours running all over town looking for mummy supplies. I am a freak. I wanted it to be more realistic than just torn up sheets so I went to feed supply stores for those big 6" bandages used for horses. I figured they'd be perfect once I dyed them with a little walnut ink and rolled them around in the dirt a bit. No one carries white ones, just the yucky un-mummy looking beige. So I ended up with 3 yards of gauzy white fabric, a white t-shirt and white leggings. Right before the party I ripped up all that fabric...put Mr. H in the t-shirt and leggings...and he flipped out. Maybe he couldn't feel like a man in white leggings, I don't know, but he absolutely refused to dress as a mummy...

*Sigh* He wouldn't even let me put makeup on him. Oh well. I'm all ready with a mummy costume for next year.
And then there's Seth...This is my favorite age for Halloween costumes. The kids have no ideas of their own and will let me dress them however I want. Seth was a model child this year. Not only did he wear exactly what I wanted him to, but he never even tried to take any of it off. I think he may have liked it, actually...

My only complaint is that he kept trying to eat my eyeliner when I was drawing on his mustache.

(Special thanks to Andrea for being my seamstress for Seth's costume.)