Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Don't Try This At Home...

I don't know what possessed me to do a workout video today.  I hadn't eaten my Wheaties and so I shouldn't have even attempted to do it.  Bad me.  And now I am broken.

Let me set the scene - it was a gorgeously sunny and warm morning, and Inara was begging to go outside.  I should have said yes.  But instead, I peeked out the window only to see my EXTREMELY GORGEOUS neighbor who has three kids and looks like she just Power Gymed herself right out of a fitness magazine.  I knew in that instant that there was NO WAY I, having not washed my  hair in approximately 3 days and also being coated in a light dusting of crushed cheerios and dried baby snot, was going to put myself through the misery of making smalltalk with The Gorgeous One (who has three kids and looks like a cheerleader.  Did I mention that already?).

But I did know that the girls needed to burn off a little steam.  So I thought that I would kill two birds with one stone and get fit like The Gorgeous One while entertaining my kids at the same time.  Maybe they would actually have fun spending 20 minutes laughing at me while I flailed around and tried to kill myself .  SEE HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU, CHILDREN? 

As soon as we popped the DVD in, I knew we were headed for excitement.  Inara immediately wanted to "jump around with you, Mama!  But WHY are you holding your boobies?  Do I have to hold MY boobies?" (no, honey - you only hold your boobies when you no longer own any proper sports bras because you sacrificed your perky pals for your offspring and now you are in a constant state of denial about their actual size.  Oh, and the fact that you're trying to keep them from BANGING INTO YOUR KNEES when you run might factor into it as well.)

I think mothers who work out with their kids in the same room should be given magical-instant-weight-loss points for just attempting it.  Or at least extra points for creativity.  For instance, Workout-At-Home Moms (WOAHMS) have to use their neck muscles in creative ways to look over, under, around, and sometimes even through their over-eager workout buddies (mine apparently has amazing balance!):

(You may have noticed in the above picture that the blinds were drawn tightly shut so as to not scare any innocent people passing by into thinking that I was torturing myself.)

Let me just say how wrong I think it is that she was having so much fun doing jumping jacks.  After craning my neck while jumping up and down for TWO WHOLE MINUTES I could barely press the shutter button on the camera.  And this was just the beginning of the workout.  I rock.

Clearly Nissa thought Mama making a fool of herself was utterly hilarious.  Or maybe she was just scared out of her mind when she saw me attempt to do a seizure-free plank.  THE HORROR!

WOAHMS should also be given bonus weight-loss points for attempting crunches while having another human being crawl all over them (because apparently I am the World's Most Exciting Climb-On Toy).  Surely this counts as extra resistance, right? 

Yeah, so that HURT like a sonuvagun.

Like any good WOAHM, I declared that the kids needed a hydration break, but I foolishly decided to  be a Tough Dude and keep working out while the kids rested. BIG MISTAKE (but the kidlets sure are cute, aren't they? Look...they're actually being nice to each other. I guess laughing at Mama together will do that to siblings).

Promptly after swigging her water down, Inara DEMANDED that we rewind the 5 minutes of workout that she had missed so that WE COULD DO IT AGAIN.  My kid is HARD CORE, Yo.

You know the worst part about being a WOAHM and exercising with your kids?  You have to be on your A-Game the WHOLE time.  You have to keep smiling and talking and NOT SWEARING the whole time...otherwise they are going to be traumatized against exercise FOR LIFE.  Do I get any bonus points for THAT?!? 

Here's Inara during take two of the workout (which I was told I had to do with her, otherwise "I'd get lonely, Mama"  How can you argue with that?) with her "free weights" (why the heck does she look so HAPPY?).  I told you she was hard core.  At this point I decided that whatever health benefits I had gained up until that point were going to be immediately offset by the fact that I WAS GOING TO DIE.

You know things have gone from bad to worse when even your 10 month-old is imitating the weightlifting, and you are utterly powerless to stop it.  I think she was trying to be encouraging.  Too bad I could barely lift myself up off the ground, fugeddabout free weights.

 "Look, Mama!  It's so easy even a baby can do it!  You just hold up the thingies in both your hands and then you push THIS!  C'mon...get up you, wimp!  Why aren't you responding to my gestures of love and adorableness?  Uh-oh. I think we broke her."

And that's what happens when a WOAHM tries to do her thang, folks.  One hour, two eager workout buddies and about 15 sprained muscles later, I was so exhausted that I barely had the energy to make lunch.  And I think I did permanent damage to my love handles by being jumped on so many times.  We can't be having that!

You know the saddest part?  It wasn't even the workout that killed me.  It was my KIDS.  They are tougher, stronger, and WAY more fit than me.  I can't even compete.  Pathetic.  Somewhere Jillian Michaels is sneering down on me and my patheticness.  But wait!  Jillian Michaels has never been a WOAHM.  How much do you wanna bet that if she was, she'd be cutting us some more slack?

Oh, who am I kidding.  If Jillian Michaels was a WOAHM she'd probably just look like my Georgous Neighbor.

So let this be a lesson to you, my dear friends.  If you're SERIOUS about getting fit, please think twice before becoming a WOAHM. Instead, you could just take a lesson out of my new workout plan...'s called Buy Some Spanxx and Lie.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Have No Idea Why This Is Funny...

We decided to saran wrap our windows for the winter, because we were tired of being cold and are renting (so we can't replace the windows.  Nor do we have the money to replace windows, even if we weren't renting.  So plastic wrap it is!).  Well OF COURSE the girls have been interested in poking and prodding at it since the day it went up.  Talk about forbidden fruit!  We've had to put chairs, pillows, and a chest in front of that darned back sliding door to keep them from getting at it, and all that stuff in front of the doors is probably what is driving our heating costs down, instead of the plastic wrap itself.

Well we've finally seen the first signs of spring and this past weekend we even took down the plastic off of some of the windows to let some fresh air in...but the back door has been the last to go.  Deciding that resistance was futile, we let the girls have a go at the plastic wrap before we got rid of it once and for all.

Needless to say, they had a blast - it was definitely worth the wait.  But, I have no idea why banging on the window and simultaneously jumping on the armchair are so hilarious to these people who are apparently my offspring.  Hey, at least they're keeping themselves occupied, right?

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Kitchen Sink Hates Me And Doesn't Want Me To Have Any Friends.

Yousuf is working tomorrow.  Tomorrow being Saturday.  Yeah.  Mama is NOT happy.

To atone for this grievous misdeed, he promised he'd come home for lunch today to watch the kids so that I could blitz-clean the kitchen.  That's right, people. Kitchen-cleaning is SO RARE in this house that it requires my husband to come home from work in the middle of the day.

Anyway, the plan was to clean because I'm inviting over a dear friend and her lovely kiddos tomorrow so that we can commiserate together about the injustices that require our spouses to spend a part of their weekend away from us ("us" being THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN THE UNIVERSE).  This will include eating lots of junk food and letting our kids run amok.  Hopefully we will all survive the morning.

So we have these two silicone muffin tins that really needed washing, and I decided to wash them.  Not just wash, but fill up the sink and soak and actually scrub them clean.  Because once in a blue moon, on an occasion that is no doubt rarer than seeing pigs fly, I like to Get Things Done. 

So I put the pluggy thing in and filled up the sink, squirted some dishsoap in, soaked the nasty tins and started to scrub away.  It was awesome, the grody bits were melting right off like my makeup in the hot summer sun. "Oh, yeah," I remember thinking.  "I can SO do this cleaning thing!" 

And then the sink was filled with dirty muffin-crudded water and I had to let the water out to rinse the pans, because that's what normal people do with their dishes, right?  Except the water was GROSS.  So I took a deep breath and plunged my arm in up to my armpit in disgusting sludgy water to pull out the plug....


So I tried again.  And again.  Each time, plunging in further and further and pulling harder and harder and losing my grip, thereby splashing myself continuously until I was DRENCHED in sodden muffin bits. Barf-ola.  I swear my kitchen sink is out to get me.  It was jealous because I actually wanted to have some FUN tomorrow and so it was punishing me.  Yeah, that's totally it.

Oh, and my "clean" muffin tins were now sitting in this nasty water.  Grrreeeat.  And then Yousuf had the AUDACITY to announce that he had to get going.  Uh-uh.  No way, buddy.  We are DROWNING in wet muffin sludge and there is NO WAY you are leaving.

That's when he came into the kitchen, took a look around, sighed, and said:  "You put the plug in the wrong way, didn't you?"

"What?  Who? ME?  NEVER.  I know about sinks, mister.  I KNOW how to put in a flipping sink plug, okay?"

"Well, have you ever done it before?"

At this point I am downright PISSED.  Because what kind of a question is that?  Of COURSE I've washed dishes before...under running water...and oh CRAP!!!

" maybe there is a chance that I haven't done it before.  Here.  In this house.  But I HAVE filled up a sink before.  Sometime in my life.  JUST FIX THIS FOR FRICKS SAKE!"

And I have to give the man credit, he didn't even laugh at me.  Oh, there was definitely some smirking going on, but I think he was far more disgusted by the fact that HE had to stick his hand into the muffin slime at this point.  I almost told him that it was his fault for working on a Saturday, because it totally is -- if he wasn't working tomorrow, I wouldn't have invited my friend over, therefore I would have had no desire to clean up, and we wouldn't have had to build a raft to sail ourselves out of our kitchen filled with post-muffin-goo infested waters.  But I didn't say that.  But I totally wanted to.  Because it's TRUE.

In the end, he had to trudge down to the basement and get PLIERS to pry the plug out.  Yeah, so apparently I totally FUBARed that up, and the plug was in upside down.  But you have to see this plug - IT'S NOT NORMAL.  It's up and it's down are BASS ACKWARDS.  And that's because my kitchen sink HATES ME.

Here is a normal sink plug. In a normal, loving, supportive kitchen sink:
You will notice that there is a part that sticks out ON THE BOTTOM of the plug. My demon-spawn sink plug also has a sticky-outy bit on it, that fits PERFECTLY into the hole of my very anti-social, jealous, and abusive sink:

The other side also has a convenient handle to pull out the plug.  Or so I thought before I was neck-deep in dirty, grimy muffin nasties and realized that IT DIDN'T WORK because MY KITCHEN SINK IS EVIL.

Not-so convenient handle of the hateable plug of the even more hateable sink:

What kind of messed up sink has a plug with a handle ON THE WRONG SIDE?!?  Just mine, because it's punishing me for wanting friends.  I HATE YOU, SINK!  I HOPE YOU'RE RECYCLED INTO A PRISON TOILET!

So the moral of the story is that I'm not allowed to have any friends because my sink is an evil, friend-hating monstrosity.  Or maybe the moral is that I don't know how to do the dishes.  Or that I shouldn't even pretend to try to clean up. Whatever.  My sink SO hates me.

And P.S. to my friends:  I'm not cleaning up for you ever again. You'll just have to deal with it, or else you might find me being attacked by my dishwasher next time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

...Aaaand Scene!

There are some days that I feel like I don't know WHERE my children came from.  Well I know where they came from (believe me, I was there.  I FELT it.  Twice!), but sometimes the bizarro-ness of my children reaches such epic proportions that I just have to wonder if we are actually related.

Case in point:  lately Inara has been scripting our conversations.  I get that she's three and has a very vivid imagination, and sometimes her role-playing spills over into real life, but you know what?  It would be nice to be given fair warning when we switch between alternate realities, because frankly I am beginning to find it hard to keep up.

What's worse is that she gets MAD if I can't figure out what needs to be said.  Clearly she didn't get the memo about mind-reading being backordered on this year's Mommy Model.  Better luck next year.

Our conversations lately go something like this:

Inara: Mama.  I'm thirsty, can I please have some milk?
Me: you go.
Inara:  Thanks, Saturn (one of Inara's current obsessions is Space).
Me: Wha?
Inara:  It's polite to say "you're welcome", you know.
Me: Uh...right. You're welcome Inara.
Inara: Pluto.
Me: Wha?!?  Pluto?  Like the planet?
Inara:  Sighing.  Mama, Pluto isn't a PLANET.  It's a PLUTOID.  Also known as a DWARF PLANET (like duh).
Me: Okay, so Pluto isn't a planet.  But you want to be Pluto, and I'm Saturn?  Why do I get to be Saturn?
Inara:  Because you're BIG.  But not as big as Jupiter.  Can my puppies have some milk too?
Inara:  No, Mama - not THOSE puppies.  THESE puppies (pointing to the empty chair beside her).
Me: Relieved.  Aaaah.  Of course.  Those puppies. How could I have missed them?  Do puppies like milk?
Inara:  Of course they do.  And we need to hurry or else we're going to miss our spaceship!
Me: Cool.  Where are Inara and her puppies going today?
Inara:  PLUTO.
Me:  Sorry.  Where is Pluto going?
Inara:  That's not your line.
Me: WHA?!?
Inara:  Now Saturn says:  "Don't forget your dog biscuits!"
Me:  Really?  And then what do YOU say?
Inara:  I don't say ANYTHING!!!!  UGH!
Me:  Inara, if you just explain to me what you'd like me to say, I'm sure I can help you out.
Inara:  No.  It's the puppies that say: "Great!  Let's go!  Flying in a rocket!  A great big rocket!  Flying in a rocket! Hang on TIGHT!" (and she actually had this song ALL MADE UP. With a tune.  That I was supposed to have known.)
Me:  Wow.  That's quite a song.
Inara:  Yeah.  That's what we all sing.  Can you sing it with us, Big Mama?
Me: Big Mama?!?
Inara:  Yep.  That's you.
Me:  But I thought I was Saturn.
Inara:  You are SO silly, Big Mama!  Big Baby, isn't she silly?  She is NUTS.
Nissa: Goo goo gack.
Inara:  Giggling - Issie!  You crack me UP.  Like an egg.  On my head!!
Me:  All right.  So I'm Big Mama, and Issie is Big Baby, and hey I GET THIS!  That would make Daddy...Big Daddy, right?
Inara: Dubious - I WAIT!  Don't forget about PLUTO! 
Me:  Oh, right.  We can't forget about Pluto.  Well, Pluto, what's my line?
Inara:  I'm NOT Pluto!!!  I'M JUST INARA!!!

Sigh.  Honestly, I think I could keep up with a foreign language film better than I can with my kids. Did any part of that conversation even MAKE SENSE?  I think not. 

How do you say WHAT THE HECK JUST HAPPENED HERE in Plutoid?  Oh wait, lemme ask Inara.

Good gosh.  I just asked her what the people on Pluto say, and she said: "EXTERMINATE!"

Yeah, so she totally gets her bizarro-ness from me.

And Dr. Who ROCKS.

I have to go play Dress Up Like Daleks now.   I hope I get my lines right!


Inara being a Dalek.  I have no idea where she got this from.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When it Rains, It....Pukes?

There was no witty blog post today because I got puked on THREE times.  Poor Inara was sicker than a dog this morning, and we were just drowning in buckets of nasty barf.  It was SO gross.  I think that as a mother, I can pretty much deal with anything...but puke is an extra special level of disgusting that even I have trouble handling because:

a) Somehow the puke is always magically attracted to ME. Not the bucket, not the sink, or the toilet.  Just ME.
b) And somehow, Nissa is magically attracted to all the puke that is ON me.  As soon as Inara up-chucks, you can bet your bottom dollar that Nissa wants to investigate it.  Yack.
c) So then, instead of cleaning up one nasty person, we have somehow magically multiplied into THREE puke-encrusted people.  And this happened THREE times.  Mothertrucker!!!!

Okay, and you want to know the absolute GROSSEST part of all?  After each time that Inara puked (and I do feel sorry for her, I swear I do...but this post is not about my sweet girl, it's about ME and how I should be awarded a bloody medal of honor for dealing with barf not once but THREE FLIPPING TIMES today) do you want to know what she did?  She pulled the double-whammy of all gross-outs:

a) She asked me TO KISS HER BETTER (on the lips!  Aaaaaaaaahhhhh!  The HORROR!) and,
b) She asked for MORE FOOD.  After puking up the food SHE JUST ATE.

There are no words.  Just lots and lots and LOTS of puke.  

Can I have a do-over for today?  Pretty please with a cherry on top?  Because today SUCKED GOATS.

Postscript:  Inara is feeling better.  I know this because she asked for cake for dinner.  Fingers, toes and all other crossables are crossed for tomorrow being puke-free.  I have to say, if this was a bug, it was officially the WEIRDEST virus ever.  Who ever heard of an 8-hour-hunger-inducing barfy bug?!?!?  

Post-postcript:  Yousuf wants me to apologize for swearing.  Which I technically did not do.  But apparently "mothertrucker" is close enough.  So I'm sorry, okay?  But you would be swearing too if you got barfed on repeatedly ALL. DAY. LONG.  Goshdarnit!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grandparents Gone Wild

You know when you have the most wonderful, relaxing week of vacation-induced bliss - away from all the cares in the world that are constantly niggling at the back of your mind and causing that tiny furrow in your brow to become a gaping chasm that can only be fixed by a boatload of Botox?

Yeah, well - I totally didn't have that kind of week.

Oh sure, there were a few sunny days that we enjoyed outside with the girls and the grandparents, but overall I think I need a vacation from my facation.  And while we're on the subject of grandparents (were we even on that subject? Well we are now, peeps - bear with me.  It's been a long week) - can we talk about the double-edged sword that is Grandparenthood for just one very long, drawn out second (be prepared, because this is going to be the longest second ever in the history of time...)?

I'm going to preface this with the following disclaimer:


There.  I said it.  Now nobody can say that I'm a big meanie head and deprive me of birthday presents (I want new shoes please, in case anyone's asking.  I just thought I'd put that out there before my parents stop reading in disgust and vow to disown me).

But oh my freaking jellybeans my children are INSANE when the g-parents come to town.  Like so insane that they need 3 days of detox (at least) after they leave.  I thought Nissa was immune, being a teeny baby and all - but sometime during the last week of double-g-parent visiting she underwent a massive personality shift and devoured her former cheery self.  All that's left now is a screaming baby banshee who frankly scares me more than just a little bit.  If I don't give her what she wants I'm afraid she'll gnaw off my toes:


And the child formerly known as Inara has been replaced by a chocolate-at-every-meal demanding, bedtime-fudged-up-beyond-all-recognition imposter whose favorite phrase is now: "Mama. You can go away.  I'm busy (insert activity she knows she shouldn't be doing here.  Like playing in the basement.  By herself.  With all the lights turned off).

I don't think that the g-parents are to blame.  Honestly, they can't help themselves.  They're just following the Good Grandparent's Guidebook, where it expressly states that the ONLY rule of grandparenthood is to Give Your Darling Grandchildren Whatever They Could Possibly Want, Regardless Of The Consequences (and you get bonus points if the consequences don't actually happen until you leave).  Enter chocolate-covered marshmallows for breakfast, impromptu toy-store shopping trips instead of naps, and my favorite: slipping lollipops when I'm not looking (I totally SAW YOU DOING THAT, MOM.  But I still love you...please don't take my new shoes off the birthday list!)

Truth be told, we NEED these crazy people who have forgotten that they used to enforce bedtime at a normal hour, and meals that included vegetables.  We need them to play with our kids so that we can pack up boxes to move, to give ourselves a break from wiping spit-up, and so that we can take a shower that lasts longer than 5 minutes.  And because we need them so badly, we are willing to look the other way when they buy that really annoying battery-operated toy that you SWORE you'd never let enter your house as long as you lived, but that your children just can't get enough of (Well played, grandparents. Well played, indeed).

And so we brace ourselves for withdrawal as the grandparents load up their cars and vans and head on out into the wild blue yonder. And we tell ourselves that we are NEVER going to let that happen again.  Next time we are going to put our collective foot down, and put the kids to bed at their normal time - even if it means they have to stop playing with Papa.  We're going to MAKE them eat their carrots and broccoli and cauliflower.  And there's no way in Hades that we will allow toys with annoying voices to be brought to our house.  We'll show 'em.  Victory will be OURS!

But then we look at our girls with their quivering lips as the g-parents pull away from the house.  And we see the tear-brimmed eyes of their Grammies as they blow goodbye kisses and promise that they'll be back soon, while the Grampas play a goodbye tune on the car horn to try and lighten the mood.

And we realize that we can't wait to have them back again.  Consequences be damned.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Break

Yousuf came home on Friday and informed me that he was on Spring Break.  We have been so busy lately that we completely forgot we had a week long vacation coming up.  What kind of people forget that they have a week off?!?!  Clearly we need some serious help.

Because we forgot about Spring Break, we are obviously not going away anywhere.  Instead of making wonderful family memories on the shores of some tropical sunny beach, we are going to be making and packing boxes in the dank, dark basement to get ourselves ready to move.  Oh joy, oh bliss...I can hardly wait.  Both Yousuf's parents and my parents are visiting (not at the same time), so hopefully they can keep the kidlets entertained while we work (I don't wanna work!  I just want a VACATION!!!).

I am going to go light on the blog-posting this week because I'm going to PRETEND that I'm on vacation, even if I can't have one.  Even if Yousuf makes me pack boxes I will sit in the dark, dank basement with a (non-alcoholic) umbrella drink in hand and I don't care who laughs at me.  It's MY fake vacation (fake-ation?) and I deserve to do with it as I please.  So there.

I'm also going to try to do some spring cleaning here on the blog.  There are a couple new things I'd like to add, and will be working on those in the background.  The first will be easy - the blog desperately needs a Search Box (so that you can find all those amazing recipes that I know you keep coming back for.  Right?  Riiiiiight?).  I'd also like to do an Archives page, but I have no idea how to do that so I'm basically talking out my bum and will have to do a bit of research first.

Lastly, I'd like to do a FAQ, but as I have no idea what people would Frequently Ask me Questions about, I thought that you - the people who have taken a peek into my crazy life and not run away screaming in terror - might like to help a girl out. So...whaddya you want to know about me (I'm for sure going to let you know how to pronounce my name.  It's the least I can do, after all that we've shared)?   Drop me a line at mahreen at venividiblogi dot com or post your questions below.  I'm game to answer just about anything, and I'm sure it will make for one very interesting FAQ.

Also, if you have any ideas for recipes, I'm always willing to try them out - we are vegetarian so if you send me a recipe for roast meat in meaty-meat sauce with a side of meat salad then there is a slim chance that I will pass.  But if you come across a recipe (bonus points for healthy, extra bonus points for desserts!) you'd like me to blog about please send it along to the same email address: mahreen at venividiblogi dot com 

Feel free to email me anytime about suggestions on how to make this blog better, rants, raves or whatever else.  I really do love hearing from you, even if I sound ornery.  I'm not really like that in real life.  It's mostly because I blog when I'm uncaffeinated.  I know I should stop, but then I wouldn't be nearly as funny as I am now.

And as always, I will be forever grateful if you should decide to share my blog with the world. Go the little ShareThis know you want to. 

Thanks for being there, friends.  I wouldn't be blogging if it weren't for you!

 Nice picture, eh?  Too bad it's not us.  Happy Spring Break, indeed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Shades Of Gray...

Yousuf's parents are coming to visit us this weekend, and I am frantically trying to make it look as though we are not slovenly gross people living in filth.  Yousuf can't even begin to understand my need to deep-clean because he thinks the house looks pretty much the same way it did last weekend when my brother and sister in-law came to visit.  The man simply does not get it.  There is not just kind-of-clean and disgustingly dirty, there are an infinite number of variations of clean.  Which means there are infinite levels of resulting insanity for me.  Allow me break it down for you:

Level 1 - Regular Grossness.  Where we just manage to keep our heads above the dirty dishes and laundry.  But not really.  And the floors...yuck, you don't even want to know about the floors.

Level 2 - My Best Girlfriend And Her Kids Are Coming Over.  Surely she will understand if not everything is put back neatly, especially when her children will be helping mine to destroy the place in record time anyway. Forget dusting. Laundry is shoved into a closet.  Bedroom doors are closed because who needs to see the crud in there, and the kids will keep us busy downstairs.  Bathrooms are wiped down, floors are cleared of choking hazards.  But nothing is really truly uber-clean (Sorry to my girlfriends.  Now you know.  I won't hate you if you don't want to come over anymore).

Level 3 - Childless Friends Over For Dinner.  This is a bit of a problem because although I love my childless friends, I know they secretly think we are big weirdos when they see the toys taking over my house.  Instead of Ethan Allen furniture we have Stained Ikea (with cheerios stuck in the corners, just for good measure).  Our dining table is a hand-me-down, and I don't CARE if no one uses coasters on it.  I know this bothers half of them, so I try to make more of an effort to clean up before they come over.  Usually I will vacuum instead of dust-bust, sweep, dust, clean the bathrooms with actual cleaning products (not just wipe them down) fold the laundry instead of stuffing it into a closet (because childless friends ALWAYS want to see what our entire house looks like.  Friends with kids know never to do that, because they know what's hiding behind those closed doors. STUFF NOBODY SHOULD EVER HAVE TO SEE.).  Toys are usually put away neatly and the overspillage is put into bins in the basement.  The kids are usually mad at me.  Yousuf usually comments on how great everything looks and wants us to keep it up.  Yeah RIGHT, buddy.  Oh yeah, sibling visits usually fall under Level 3, because I love them and want them to keep visiting me, and don't want them to rat us out to our parents.

Level 4 - PARENTAL VISITS.  This is serious business, folks.  It's one thing if a stray dust bunny crosses the path of your brother's toes, but when your mother or mother in-law comes to town you better BELIEVE there will be none of that happening, thankyouverymuch.  Now, I love my mom and mom in-law dearly, and know that they understand that I have two little kids and that cleaning up after them is futile at best, but still...there's this niggling little thing in the back of my mind that always says: "You are a stay-at-home-mom.  They think you have the time to keep this place habitable.  You should at least ATTEMPT to clean the microwave before they get here!".  This inevitably leads to me staring at the underside of a table, or the third shelf of the upstairs hall closet that no one ever uses and GETTING COMPLETELY STRESSED OUT.  Yousuf and I will have conversations that go like this:

Yousuf:  What are you doing, honey?

And then he shakes his head and walks away.  But at least my house is Level 4 clean.

Level 5 - NUCLEAR CLEAN. This is for extreme special-case scenarios only, like if we are having a lot of visitors (not likely, because we live in a tiny house and we are hermits.  But when Nissa was born we did have a lot of relatives come all at once, so a Level 5 has happened in the past.  I was not a nice person while cleaning up.  Sorry, family!), or if we need to get the house show-ready (which is totally going to happen because we need to find someone to take over our lease when we move.  I am probably not going to be a nice person while we clean.  Sorry again, family!).  I can't even begin to describe the intense cleaning AND organization that it takes to pull off a Level 5.  It's just nuts, and I don't like doing it, mostly because if anyone so much as breathes on what I've already cleaned then I AM NOT A HAPPY CAMPER.  And that's putting it lightly.  It's so not worth the effort.

According to my Shades Of Clean List, I would say that we are at Level 3 today and are rapidly approaching Level 4.  Things are not looking good on the Mama Nice-O-Meter.  Sorry, family.  Now start sorting those dishtowels!!!

Path Of Mass Destruction:  Couch cover and pillows pulled down, toys and blankets tossed out of the chest, ripped up magazine, and now we're crawling all over the books that haven't been put away.  Looks like a Level 1 kind of day.

What's The Name Of That Game?

Because so many of you lovely people asked me about the game that the girls were playing in yesterday's post - here is more information.  The game is called Zimbbos and is made by Blue Orange Games.  It was given to us for Inara's birthday by our very dear friends, Melissa and Chris (who are expecting their first baby this summer...yay!).  Melissa is fantastic at finding eco-friendly, all-natural and educational toys for my girls, and I can't wait to pick her brain for baby gift ideas in the future, har har har.

You can check it out on the Blue Orange website, and buy it at your local toy store or online at Amazon:

Have fun - and let me know how you like it!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rules Were Meant To Be Broken...

We have big issues following directions in this house.  If fact, I'd go as far as saying that if you tell me what to do or where to go then I will just HAVE to do the opposite in order to prove you wrong.  I have no idea why I do it...I must have control issues that obviously need to be worked out with a professional.  Or maybe I'm as mature as a twelve year-old.  Take your pick.

Anyway, I think my children have inherited this lovely trait.  Why they can't inherit Yousuf's patience or my flair for witty banter I'll never know...but for some reason they only inherit all the bizarreness.  Inara doesn't like sauce on her pasta (that's from him).  Nissa has to kick her feet to fall asleep (that would be me). It boggles the mind.

Take this lovely little board game we have at home.  It's really cute and "educational" and made with all wooden pieces and just makes you feel like A Good Parent because you own it (and it must be pointed out here that I didn't even BUY this game, it was given to us by our then-childless friends who were clearly better parents than us AND THEY DIDN'T EVEN HAVE KIDS YET). 

So the point of the game is to build a pyramid with these pieces.  Easy enough, right?  Behold the splendor and majesty of our elephantastic pyramid:

You may notice in the above photo that Inara is DYING to knock down the pyramid.  She was positively convulsing with the effort of keeping her body parts to herself, and kept going: "Maaa-ma...uh, uh, I have...I have to...I just....Maaaaa-maaa!"  But no, Mean Mommy had to make her wait while she took a photo.

I swear, less than TWO SECONDS after taking that picture this is what happened (notice the sheer joy on my child's face as she destroys all her hard work.  Pure. Joy.):

And basically everything devolved from there.  One thing led to another and before you could say Miley Cyrus the three of us were cavorting around like a bunch of giggling schoolgirls as we played:

Bury Your Baby In Elephants (a time-honored classic):

Attack Mommy With Freaky Clowns (Seriously, people. Clowns freak me out.  Thanks a LOT, Stephen King):

...and Balance Elephants On Your Baby's Bum (Where you take bets -in kisses - on how far she can crawl while balancing the elephant.  Of course Inara wanted chocolate chips for winning instead of a kiss.  Stinker.  That's because she is a RULE-BREAKER):

Oh, and if you noticed that the girls were dressed in similar colored would be right.  That was all Inara's doing, she insisted that she and Nissa dress the same that morning.  I think it's because she's not-so-secretly trying to mold her sister in her image.  Scaaaaaary - but still kind of hilarious to watch as the tiny student becomes the master...

And yes, Mean Mommy just stood by and took photos once again.  I really do love that my girls get such a kick out of being so goofy and non-conformist with me.  I mean who wants to play with toys the way they were meant to be played with anyway?  

Not us, that's who! 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring Is In The Air (or in the garden)...

I'm getting really excited about decorating the new house.  With the lovely weather we've been having here in Western NY, I now have gardening on the brain too.  To be clear - I am not a gardener.  I hate bugs.  I have killed houseplants (planticide?).  I can grow vegetables but only if Yousuf does all the work.  I have the worst allergies to pollen and ragweed and am generally miserable when I spend too much time outdoors.  But I REEEEEEEALLLLY want a cute little backyard garden - a little green space to call my very own.  I know, I'm completely insane.

So I've been scouring the interwebs for fun garden things (I don't know what the official term for this is.  Accessories?  Doodads?  Just goes to show how much of a garden EXPERT I am), and I came across these adorable thingies made by artist Fred Conlon.  When I grow my imaginary money tree I am going to get:

Gnome Be Gones


Aren't they just delightful (in a slightly freaky, snackish-gremlin-after-midnight kind of way)? I think they're fantastic.  I found them (and other endearing models - I especially love this one, but I'm not going to post the picture in case my mom is reading.  Mommy!  DO NOT CLICK THAT LINK.  Darn...she is totally going to click it now.  I'm so grounded.) at Conlon's webstore, Sugarpost Metal Art.

I also found these at Uncommon Goods, which are very much within my budget.  I wonder if they will keep me from committing future vegicide?  One can only hope.

One thing is for certain....our new neighbors are going to think we're crazy with a capital K.  Oh, well.  Normal is so boring!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Trashcan of Death

I don't know why I find this utterly hilarious... it's just been one of those days, I guess.  You know what I mean - it's the kind of day where you haven't been able to sit down for a more than a minute because everybody everywhere needs you RIGHT NOW and so by the end (or I guess it's technically the middle...gosh I can't believe it's just the MIDDLE of the day!) of it you can barely string together a coherent sentence - yes, it's been that kind of day exactly.

Anyway.  I digress.  Earlier today while I was trying to slap together lunch in history-of-the-world record time, we got a package.  I opened it up but didn't have time to take out any of the contents.  Inara asked if she could take off the tape from the stuff that was inside, just little bits of tape here and there that was holding everything shut.  I didn't see how it could hurt, so I said she could if she put all the tape into the garbage can straight away so that Nissa didn't eat it (I was right there watching.  Or so I thought.) and she thought it was the greatest thing EVER, which allowed me to continue lunch-making without being poked or prodded at by my adorable-yet-often-needy children.

So we ate lunch and I got Nissa asleep for her nap and came back to the kitchen to clean up.  Where I saw this...THE TRASHCAN OF DEATH:

(Feed At Your Own Risk)

Inara apparently gave the can teeth, "so that it could eat the garbage better".  I have no idea why, but just looking at that made me break down into fits of giggles.  Probably because I'm deliriously exhausted AND IT'S ONLY 3PM.

Can't you just hear Trashy (that is what I've officially named him) going NOM NOM NOM in that picture?  I sure can.  Because I'm insane.  It's been one of those days, okay?  Stop judging me.

Oh, and if you think my garbage can looks gross in that shot, you should have seen it BEFORE I had my way with it in Photoshop.  So there.  NOM NOM NOM!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

What's Cookin': Bok Choy Stir Fry

We had a jam-packed weekend, with my brother and his lovely wife visiting us.  We didn't do much else except spend some quality time together and rub my sister in-law's adorable baby belly (they are expecting their first, a little boy, in July).  But, I did get to cook a fabulous meal for them (I'm nothing if not modest) and I thought I'd share it here.

This is such an easy and versatile stir-fry - you can really add any number of veggies to it.  In the picture you can see that I added bell peppers, celery, zucchini and broccoli, but I've also substituted mushrooms, cubed tofu, carrots - you name it.  And for those of the meat-eating variety, I'm sure you can throw chicken or beef strips in as well (I imagine that if you're using meat you might want to marinade it in the seasonings for a couple of hours or overnight first).

I usually serve my stir-fries with rice, but not always white rice.  We always have wild and brown rice on hand which also compliment this dish nicely, or you could omit the rice altogether and just make extra stir-fry if you're so inclined.  Really anything goes with this!

Anyway...enough rambling on.  Here's the recipe:

Bok Choy Stir Fry

1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
1 head bok choy, coarsely chopped (you can use baby bok choy instead if desired, just use more of it)
Assorted vegetables - try the following (about one cup sliced): mushrooms, celery, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini
12 ounces light firm silken tofu (if desired - you can substitute meat, or neither!), drained and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (we use Bragg Liquid Aminos)
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Heat a large wok or skillet to medium-high (I don't use oil, I just keep a cup of water on hand and add a tiny bit at a time when things start sticking. Of course if you'd rather cook with oil you can add it to the skillet at the beginning).
- Add garlic, ginger, bok choy and veggies.  Stir-fry over medium-high heat until bok choy is wilted, about 3 minutes.
- Add tofu cubes (if you're adding them) and brown for 1 minute.
- Stir in soy sauce, hoisin sauce, scallions and pepper.  Heat through, about 1 minute.
- Serve over rice (I usually make between 1 and 1 1/2 cups, depending on how ravenous the brood is).


Friday, March 5, 2010

Conversation at Lunch

Inara:  Mommy.  I think I love you.

Me:  Inara.  I think I love you too.

Inara:  No, Mommy (in a very serious tone). I think I'm IN LOVE with you.

Me: Oh.  Well.  Is that...a good thing or a bad thing (you can never be too sure with Inara, so I always like to clarify)?

Inara:  I could be a good thing.

Me:  That's a relief!  So...what does "in love" mean to you, honey?

Inara:  Oh, I know.  Being in love with you is like love.  But being IN it.

Me:  Of course it is.  And what does that feel like?

Inara:  Mommy!  You know!  It feels like this: looooooooooove.  And then we make up.

Me: Make up?  Like we make up after an argument?

Inara:  No, Mommy.  We make up like this. Reaches over to put her arms around my neck, buries her face in my neck and gives me a raspberry.  Bffffllllpppptttttttt!!!

Me: Laughing... I think you mean "making out" - and yes, that's the way to make out.  Don't let anyone ever tell you differently.  And I think you can ONLY make up with me, okay?

Inara:  Of COURSE I can only make up with you!  That's because I'm IN LOOOOOOOVE.

Have a great weekend, peeps.  See you on the flip side.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mixed Bag

I know you've been dying to hear about how the house inspection went.  And just in case you aren't interested even in the slightest, I'm going to tell you all about it anyway - because that's just how nice I am.

We had not one, but four - count 'em, FOUR different inspectors come out to the house. Their names, in no particular order were Jim, Brian, Keith and the other guy (I am totally crud with names. He was super nice though...and honestly by the end of the day I was so overloaded with information that I could barely remember my own name).  Jim was the structural engineer, Brian was the pest control afficianado, Keith was the boiler expert and the other guy (who was super nice and Inara liked him the best and I feel terrible for not remembering his name.  Chris?  Ken?  Ack! I suck!) inspected our chimney. 

It was NOT quick work.  It took FOREVER, and after the fourth hour Nissa was ready for a nap, Inara was ready to eat, and Yousuf and I had to somehow keep the two of them from going nuclear while still being attentive to the inspector dudes.  I really thought at one point that my brain was going to explode.  Luckily, I had thought to bring snacks, drinks and the most important thing...A BABY CARRIER.  So I had them constantly fed and relatively happy, and Nissa even got to rest a bit as I walked around with her snuggled on my front.  Inara just wanted to jump off things, which was okay too.

Jim The Engineer was by far the most quippy of the bunch.  He kept saying things like: "You know, the only thing that really surprises me about this house is that it's in such good condition, which is REALLY surprising to me!" - which I suppose was meant to make us feel....good?  Or something?  And whenever he referred to the age of the house he'd say "A house of this vintage" which made me wonder if our house had a fruity bouquet, or perhaps it would be full-bodied and unctious (those are actually all the wine terms that I know.  Don't deny that you're impressed).

There were some things that we knew would be an issue going into this whole mess, like the roof.  We knew it would need replacing soonish, and we had budgeted for that in our offer.  So it was no surprise when we were told that it really needed to be done sooner rather than later.  I had also thought that the foundation (being of an older vintage, har har) would have some issues, but we were pleasantly surprised to hear that wasn't the case at all - in fact it looked great.  "Better than great, even - I've seen newer houses with worse foundations!" said Quippy Jim.  Yay!

We also thought we'd be told that all the windows would need replacing, but we found that some of them had already been done - which was great because now won't have to spend as much money on them as we initially thought (which always makes Yousuf, aka El Cheapitan, very very happy).  El Cheapitan also asked Jim if it was possible to DIY more electrical outlets, add some attic insulation, knock down the wall between the living and dining room and do a kitchen remodel by himself (the man is nothing if not persistent when it comes to saving his cashola).  Jim didn't even skip a beat, "Oh sure you can!  Why the heck not?  You look like a handy fellow!"  he quipped.  Now I am pretty sure that Yousuf was being mocked, but El Cheapitan didn't see it that way at all.  To him it was tacit approval of his stingy ways.  Just for the record, I will NOT allow him to destroy our house willy-nilly.  Any destruction will have to be approved by me first (you'll have to stay tuned, as I am sure hilarity will ensue as we embark on our "renovation" adventures).

There were a few minor things that needed to be done - washers needed to be tightened on faucets, an unused gas line was turned off but needed to be clamped, and there was a vent in the upstairs bathroom that basically vented to nowhere.  Nothing major and all fixable.  The rest of the house looked great - no evidence of pest damage, according to Brian, and the chimney was in great shape, according to nice-man-whose-name-I-can't-for-the-life-of-me-remember (Pete? Ed? Mike? Arrrrgh...this is killing me!).

The only big freak out moment I had was when Jim and Keith pointed to the pipes that came out of the boiler in the basement and ran along the ceiling, taking the hot water to the radiators to heat the house.  Well, wouldn't you just know it but they were insulated.  With asbestos.  ASBESTOS, people.  Holy Mother of Goldfish - I nearly died a thousand deaths on the spot and wanted to go running out of there, clutching my babies to my bosom, screaming like a half-blind banshee and never ever look back. 

Jim and Keith watched me (very calmly, I might add), as I repeated in a strangulated whisper: "Did you say there's ASBESTOS in my house?  Like right NOW?  Right HERE?" and Yousuf gave me his wide eyed,  pleading, please-don't-scare-the-normal-people-away look.  And then Quippy Jim said: "Yes.  The good news is that it's perfectly safe down here right now" - which was followed by me trying to quell the bulging of my eyeballs as I gaped at him and retorted: "Jim. I don't believe you.  Tell me exactly how this is SAFE" in a voice that was about five octaves higher than normal.

The good news was that the asbestos in our house (and yes, I'm still calling it our house) is in GREAT condition, it's not worn or damaged in any major way.  If it was, it would release hazardous asbestos fibers into the air and that would be BADBADBAD REALLYREALLY BAD.  But that's not the case at all. Not-so-quippy Keith said: "Mrs. George.  It's fine.  You are FINE.  I have kids too, and I'd bring them here.  You are in no danger from this material."  I could have kissed that man, I swear on all the chocolate chips in the universe I was never ever as relieved as I was then.

Being the uber-nerds that we are, Yousuf and I came home and used our amazing Google-fu skills to find out more about asbestos in the home (if you want to read more about it, this is a really good summary from the EPA).  It also helped to talk to a few of our friends that have been in the same position.  Right now our inclination is to not over-react, and to pay to have it encapsulated.  Once we are in the house and have spent some time finding a reputable asbestos abatement professional, we can have it removed once and for all.

So all in all, it was a good day - slightly more stressful than I would have liked, but still good and informative and I'm glad that we found out everything ahead of time.  We are going to go ahead with the closing on the house, and I am really excited about it.  There is one other minor inspection that needs to happen, but barring any unforeseens I think we are a go!

El Cheapitan: The Man. The Mystery. The Legend.
He's NUTS but I love him anyway.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Nonsense Alert

There are a lot of things I could be writing about right now, but I just can't sit still long enough to come up with a coherent sentence.  I have started this post about five times today and so far all I have this:

This weekend we got buried in a snowicane but gosh I have such a cute baby who likes to steal shoes and then eat them - she's kind of like a puppy, you know?  A pudgy, bald, goo-filled puppy who apparently only likes to steal her sister's really expensive shoes while the aforementioned big sister plays outside with Daddy in snowdrifts as big AS MY HOUSE because we got buried in a snowicane.  Did I already mention that? 

Oh and then the next morning Inara refused to eat breakfast because she is three and refuses to eat FRUIT.  What kind of person hates fruit?  My kid, that's who.  But I totally got her to. Eat fruit, that is. I completely and utterly tricked her and damn, it felt GOOD.  Who has to trick their kid into eating fruit?  Me - aka Mean Mommy, that's who.  Inara woke up Sunday and had the brilliant idea to go on a food fast until and unless we gave her ice cream.  I'm not even kidding.  So rather than fighting her I came up with the even more brilliant idea of giving in - only on one condition.  We had to MAKE the ice cream.  So Yousuf blended frozen strawberries and strawberry yogurt together and we had instant gratification...Inara got to eat ice cream and I got to do the Silent And Invisible Dance Of Victory as I watched her eat not one, but TWO helpings of "ice cream". Bwah hahahahahaha!!!!

Meanwhile, Nissa chewed on more shoes.  And still looked really boogery from her cold.  And then yesterday I was supposed to blog but I didn't because I AM SO NERVOUS ABOUT OUR HOME INSPECTION TOMORROW.

And that's as far as I got.

I have no idea what to expect tomorrow.  I keep having these recurring daydreams in which the inspector dudes are all dressed up in Grim Reaper garb and they point to us with their 9 foot-long scythes and say in deep ominous voices: "Your house SUCKS GOATS.  You MUST NOT live here, under ANY circumstances.  LEAVE NOW." 

Yikes. I am totally banned from having any more caffeine today.

Hopefully all will go well tomorrow and they won't find anything wrong with the house AT ALL.  Oh, stop laughing.  It could happen!  Yeah, I know...that's just about as likely as me waking up to Inara eating a huge bowl of fruit.  Darn it!!!

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