Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy St. Joseph's Day

Ma and Pop at the Bronx Zoo 1988

Ma and Pop in Ocean City Maryland 1985

Ma and Pops Christmas 1976
Happy St. Joseph's Day, Pops.  You'd laugh your tush off to hear your grandson explain that St. Joseph was kind of Jesus "step dad" since God is his real father...  And you'd be very proud to hear him tell EVERYONE that he's named after BOTH his Grandpa's.

In memory of Nancy Mary Picone Cecatiello July 4, 1935 - March 19, 1992

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hello. Is this thing on???

Ahhh, don't get excited.  I'm back.  I actually waited for today to blog again because it's Leap Day.  In my mind, it's a gimme.  An extra day.  So, I though it would be a good day to jump back into things.  Because this blog post doesn't count.  Shhhh, you don't really see me.  I took February off.  From everything.

But, Mama, where have you been?  Did aliens kidnap you?  Did you find Elvis?  Or Jesus?  Are you on the road with Newt?

No, no.  Nothing like that.  What I found was a new job.  Because my old job and I weren't getting along.  Long story, but let's just say it was a bad relationship and they finally said, "It's not us, it's you".  So I brushed off the interview suit and got my resume out.  Took two and a half weeks, but I found me some new digs (ok, if you're unemployed you have every right to hate me right now.  I completely understand.  I had an in at my new job.  It wasn't magic fairy dust, and I can't share.  Sorry).  Needless to say, I think I'll be happier.  We'll see. 

But, Mama, what did you do with your last 4 weeks off?  How did you use this paid vacation?  Uhm, job searching, numb skull.  Ok. Only for the first two weeks.  For the last two I've been catching up on my reading and doing all those stupid house projects that we put off around the house because we're just too tired to take on anything that horrible.  For instance, I finally put together the memory book of little o's first year.  What?  He's only two.  Then I got the gutters cleaned.  They were thrilled for the work in February.  Teeth cleaned?  Yup.  Driveway with a new ton of gravel?  Yup.  Side note- a ton of gravel really is as much as it sounds.  And I really do only weight a hundred pounds.  I'll tell the story later, but let's leave it at "my neighbors got a huge kick out of seeing me unload a ton of gravel from the bed of PB's pick 'em up truck last week." Lots of laundry, and cleaning of closets that hadn't seen light in years.  Nothing exciting, I promise.

What didn't you do, Mama?  Uhm, take the boys out of school.  PB and I made a deal.  If I was unemployed on April 1 (when the severence pay runs out), the boys go part time.  Then out for the summer, then just pre-school for the fall.  Because the fall back was stay at home Mom.  Which sounded good for about 5 minutes.  I'm just not that Mom.  After a day with my kids I'm exhausted, and the only thing they've learned is new swear words.  I have been taking them each out alone an afternoon here and there to have some Mama adventures.  And a few Fridays we've all gone out with friends.  Which we all love.  But I'm really glad that April 1 will come and go with no changes (as are my daycare providers and PB).

What have I learned?  A few things:

->  When a "promotion" makes you want to cry in the bathroom, don't take it.  If that's not an option, start looking for somewhere else to be.

->  When you know you're in a bad situation, don't let the other party be the ones to have to end it.  Take action and do it yourself. 

->  Not everything that hurts is a bad thing.  Sometimes a little pain leads to a great victory.

->  Don't hide a problem from your friends.  Their honesty might not be what you want to hear, but they'll support you and push you in the right direction.  Listen to them.

I'm sure there were other lessons to learn here, but I'm not done learning.  And some things were learned that I will only admit to myself in the dark of the night (it's hard to acknowledge your faults in the light of day, alright?)  I know I'm not perfect, but neither were they.  Or better stated, we just weren't right for each other.  It happens.

Now, I'm not going to promise I'll be back with a vengence (I'll leave that to Bruce Willis) but I'm back.  I'll probably stick to prompts for a little while, but I'll get you a picture of the boys up soon.

Until then, have  a good Leap Day! (ps- spell check isn't working, so please ignore my poor spelling for today...)

Monday, January 23, 2012

National Pie Day- a recipe

Pie is a very important food at our house.  We even have a badger who's favorite food is pie.  So, in honor of National Pie Day, and Jan's Make Ahead Monday, I stole a recipe to share with you.  Yup, stole it just for you.  And we're eating it tonight.  No, you may not stop over.

Chocolate Pye (stolen from Two Fat Ladies)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRACKLING CRUST:
6 ounces ground almonds
1 egg white
2 ounces superfine sugar
  
FOR THE TOPPING:
8 ounces plain chocolate, grated
1 pint plus 4 ounces (2 1/2 cups) double cream (or heavy cream)
 
Sliced almonds to top

Directions

Work the ground almonds, egg white, and sugar into a paste and knead into a ball. On a sugared surface, roll out to a round large enough to line an 8-inch nonstick flan tin, 1/4-inch thick and leave to dry for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the rested pastry in the tin and decorate the edges with the finger and thumb technique. Line with foil (but no baking beans) and bake blind for 20 to 25 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid scorching. Leave to cool.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over hot water, then mix in the cream, stirring all the time to prevent splitting. Remove from the heat and, as the chocolate starts to set, beat the mixture to a light foam. Allow to cool for 1 to 2 minutes before pouring into the cooled crackling crust. Leave to set. Serve decorated with toasted almonds and yellow rose petals.
 
-> I was going to make mine last night after my showdown with LG (which PB proceeded to ruin by laughing hysterically).  LG and I have a similar stubborn streak.  When we get on a roll, we apparently give each other the same glare.  Last night LG lost his rights to stories and songs.  But after I finished reading and singing to little o, I heard a melody coming out of his room.  PB had caved.  I went in arms crossed, glaring, "Why is he getting songs?  YOU'RE the one who took them away from him!"  LG glared back at me, for ruining the guilt trip he was working hard to take PB on.  I glared back.  Apparently, a mirror glare, since PB started giggling, then outright laughing, then he had to put LG down because he laughed so hard at us (ok, me).  Harumph.  When I make the pye tonight, we'll see who gets any...  Maybe you can come over, I'll have enough to share.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

might better be called speechless Wednesday at our house.

As promised:

Looks adorable, right?  Semi-aquatic, even?  Nope.  He wore the goggles to "try them out" in the splash pad, then immediately took them off and cried at lessons. 

Next week I will be bribing offering his instructor an extra $20 if he will take him before class and teach him how to put his head under water correctly.  Alone, without 5 other kids watching.  Hopefully the kid is game, and LG is willing to listen to someone who is not related to him.  We'll see.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Seriously, it's already Tuesday?  Or should it be only Tuesday?  I can't tell anymore.  The weeks keep backing up on me, along with the laundry.  Meh.  Go visit Stacy, she has action figure angst this week.

->  My clean bathrooms didn't last 20 minutes this weekend.  I sent everyone out to play in the snow.  I took me an hour to get all three bathrooms squeaky clean, top to bottom.  Floors, toilets, tubs, everything shined.  Nothing smelled.  It was wonderful.  Then, I went and sat and enjoyed my Clorox high.  In that brief moment, all 3 boys came in, each picked their own bathroom and proceeded to make a freaking mess.  Its seems like such a simple task, point and shoot.  Whatever.

->  LG getting his Nutella fix this morning.

->  The upshot of me giving up on other people's goals?  More time for me.  More time to blog, more time to read, more time to relax with the boys.  Less grumpy Mama, less lugging of undesired books, and less giving up of lunch hour.  One day their goal will be mine, but not right now.  Oh, and apparently more time to make fund raising phone calls for the church?  What?  How the hell did I get shackled to that?  Sigh.  If you see me come up on the caller ID, let the voice mail pick up...

->  My SIL and niece just had me read a modern day teen romance novel.  Somehow I thought it was going to be more sci-fi, thriller-ish.  Nope.  Pretty standard teen novel.  It was darn fun, though.  Squee.

->  My co-worker thinks my latest voyage into weight control is hysterical.  I've gone all high protein.  Smoothies in the morning, bars in the afternoon.  Cows and pigs are running screaming at dinner time.  (and no worries, I'm following all the recommended "moderation" ideas.  I keep an equal mix of Yoohoo and water, veggies and Twinkies.)  I'm logging all the calories and other data in a spreadsheet.  When she saw this morning's log, she almost passed out.  1120 calories before lunch.  Seriously, people?  How is this not working???  She's threatened to sell me to science.

->  Come back tomorrow when I hope there will be hysterical pictures.  We got LG goggles this weekend, in hopes he'll willingly stick his head underwater.  I'm not holding out hope, but the pictures will be hysterical, I'm sure.



Friday, January 13, 2012

Spin Cycle- Dreams




Ack, I'm late!  I really want in on Gretchen's first run at the Spin Cycle, so I'm hoping she's as nice about my tardiness as Jen was.  Or maybe it would be better if she's not so that I have to get my act together!  I'm going in whole hog, though, and even throwing up the button.  See it up there.  It's even a link.  Maybe that'll get me in.

The inaugural topic was "Dreams".  Which is fairly fitting considering PB and I had talked about dreams over the holidays. 

Back story->

A good friend had some folks over to his house over the holidays.  The guest made some disparaging remarks about the humble American Dream life- house in the burbs, two kids, dog, picked fence- you know what I'm talking about.  Now, this is the life our good friend aspires to.  The "dream" handed down to us from our parents.  The guest seemed to think that throwing away the idea the dream was like shedding your childhood, becoming an adult and making your own decisions.  The host seemed to think that growing up was accepting that the dream really is the good life.  A difference of opinions, to be sure. 

This is where the conversation started at home.  PB wanted to know if I was happy with our life.  Because, you see, I am living "The American Dream".  I have a nice place in the burbs, two adorable-happy-healthy little boys, a few pets and a picked fence around my pool.  We both have good jobs that we like.  I am close to my in-laws (in both proximity and emotion), and I think that's great.  My weekends consist of laundry, play dates and the occasional baby sitter.  Most of you are familiar, because you're here, too. 

I guess what PB wanted to know was do I feel like this is enough?  Had I outgrown the dream?  Was I itching to throw off the establishment and turn my family into a mini-revolution?  The answer is no, I don't feel like I'm missing anything.  I love my life.  I wouldn't trade it, and I do think I'm living the dream- my version.  My first response was that the first part of "growing up" is to realize that what your parents had, and what they gave you was really not only "not that bad" but pretty darn good.  But that short changes a lot of people that I have respect for.  People who have moved away from the traditional dream for good, in favor of forging their own path to happiness.  And I think they're great.

We then went on to acknowledge that, maybe, just maybe this person represented the shift in America.  There's nothing wrong with the house/kids/dog/fence dream.  But it's not for everyone, and not every one can or wants to achieve that. People are happy choosing to be single, or live with their significant other in a studio apartment, or maybe buy a farm and raise pigs.  The new status quo is that there is none.  No one is right or wrong to live their life in whatever fashion feels right.

Which brings me to today.  I think this shift in "the American Dream" makes some people uncomfortable.  If we all want the same thing, we can all be compared.  The euphemistic "keeping up with the Joneses".  But when we acknowledge that people are different and want different things, and so many different things are available- how do you compare?  How do you know if you've achieved?  You really have to look into yourself and decide if you're happy with where you are and where you're going.  And if not, don't look at your neighbor, look inside some more and change directions.  Ouch, how uncomfortable and, at times, almost impossible.  Far easier to say we should all be the same and remain comparable.

Am I simple because I've chosen the traditional path?  Have I not tried hard enough to make sure my "inner me" is fully out there?  My friend's guest thinks so, I'm pretty sure (yeah, they know me, too.)  But you know what I think?  Hells, no.  I still wear my converse sneakers to play dates and that's good enough for me.