Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just Call Me the Cookie Police

To celebrate DH's birthday, we decided to take a vacation. Our destination of choice was the Kalahari resort in the Wisconsin Dells. In addition to the water park and other main attractions, there were special activities each day specifically for smaller children. They offered things like coloring contests, scavenger hunts and sand art but the one the kids continued to miss due to their nap was the afternoon session of cookie decorating.

Finally, on our last full day there, I decided to wake the kids from their naps to make sure they could partake. This was my first go-around at this type of resort, so my preconceived visions of each event were pretty much wrong. I had pictured the cookie decorating to be like the gingerbread house decorating we did at Christmas - tables with the kids sitting down, choosing between the different frostings and toppings while parents congregated around with cameras clicking.

I wasn't even close. It was a table set up buffet-style with a tray of cookies on the end, three colors of (really tasty) frosting followed by three colors of sprinkles. It was a first-come basis and when the cookies were gone, it was done for the day.

We stood in the line for a while and as we were just a few people away, Miss M insisted she couldn't hold it any longer and needed to use the restroom. I looked at the attendant and she said "I have one more tray of cookies to bring out. You'll be fine if you hurry." So we rushed off to the restroom and returned to the end of the line a short while later. As we approached the table, I could see the final tray of cookies was down to about ten remaining. There was only one family in front of us. We had made it, whew!

Just then, two teenagers cut in on the opposite side of the table. I quietly said "The line is back there." I was on vacation and not interested in making waves. There should have still been enough remaining for us and the few people in line behind us. Unfortunately, the next thing the boy said was "Oh, let's get some for 'so-and-so' too." I looked up and he had four plates of cookies and the girl was beginning to follow suit. That's when I leaned in and said "Didn't your parents teach you any manners?" Huh? I pointed to the back and said "There's a line. You need to pay attention to the big picture of what's going on around you." He apologized, flopped the cookies down and headed to the line. He was sincere, so when he ended up behind me, I turned and apologized if I came off rude - but that he wasn't being very considerate by taking so many on top of cutting in line. He accepted my apology and we moved on.

What really got my goat, though, was the mom who was across the table from us while we were making our cookies. She commented to her toddler son that he needed to get into line "or the lady is going to yell at you." I looked up and she was staring right at me. I said "You have GOT to be kidding. He's a child and doesn't know better. My comment was directed at the teenagers who should." Pfft. Her parents obviously never taught her any manners.

Oh... and the kicker - Miss M and Miss K had a ball decorating their cookies, but didn't want to eat them. Mine, on the other hand, was delicious.
3/8/08 Edit: Thanks to everyone for their support of my actions!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Quote of the Day: Thoughts on Alcohol

While traveling, we passed by a restaurant/bar that had previously been home to a church. How nice that someone wanted to save the building from the wrecking ball, but I couldn’t help but comment “Something doesn’t seem right about a church being turned into a bar.”

DH asked “Alcohol isn’t a sin, is it?”

Knowing I was being set up, I said “No, we drink it every Sunday at church.”

Quick-witted that he is, he replied “Jesus turned water into wine, isn’t he the original brewmaster?”

I laughed and said “Did you just call Jesus a brewmaster?”

His response was “Oh, sorry. It was wine so I guess that would make him a vintner then.”

DH always has a way of putting things into perspective.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

It's Called a Bar of Soap

To celebrate DH’s birthday, we decided to take a short trip. Once at the hotel, Miss M was the first one to need to use the restroom so I unwrapped one of the complimentary bars of soap for her to use. She’s too small to reach it herself and of course, there are no stepstools here. So when she was ready, I hoisted her up to the sink to wash her hands. I was surprised when she asked “What’s that?” when I handed her the bar of soap.

Then I started thinking it through… We went from using the usual Johnson’s baby shampoo/wash right into the kids’ shower gel and separate shampoo. On all the sinks throughout the house, we have liquid hand soap in pumps. At relative’s houses, liquid hand soaps in pumps and at school and stores, wall-mounted liquid hand soap. Until this trip to the hotel, I hadn’t realized that they just had not crossed paths with a bar of soap before – or at least, hadn’t remembered.

I have a bunch of the complimentary bars that I keep in the guest bathroom for when we have guests staying over – figure it’s better to have those than for people to worry about bringing their own soap with them. So maybe I should put one in the girls’ bathroom as a novelty. Since a bar of soap is such an unusual concept to them, maybe they’ll be excited to use it!

Years ago, I remember playing Pictionary with my younger cousin and the word was alarm clock. While all the rest of us drew an old fashioned clock (you know, with the two bells on top), he tried to draw a digital one. Wonder what other everyday things that we grew up with that kids today aren’t familiar with.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Prayer Request

I generally try to keep my blog upbeat but there are always exceptions.

An Uncle on my husband's side of the family has been having some health issues lately. We were just notified that after a seizure yesterday, he went into the hospital and was found to have a brain tumor. I don't have many details, but I understand that they did surgery to remove it last night but didn't get it all. It was diagnosed as cancerous.

This post is simply a request to keep Uncle W in your prayers. Thank you.

Counting to 100... and back!

Miss M has done well with her numbers for quite a while so it didn't surprise me that she quickly picked up on addition and subtraction when DH started to teach her. She likes to count to 100 by 10's and loves pointing out numbers whenever possible. From her car seat, she's able to see the speed limit signs as well as the speedometer, so it's made for some interesting conversations. She just turned 5, so while I feel that she is ahead of the curve on this, I don't have anyone to compare her to.

But last night during dinner, I was caught off guard by her counting game. Instead of her usual 1, 2, 3... all the way to 100. She decided to start at 40 and count backwards. Wow. For me, it was exciting because it was something new - a milestone I hadn't witnessed yet. DH asked if she could count backwards from 100. After a very short pause, she started "100...(think for a second)...99...(think for a second)...98..." and the rest was history. Once she realized she had the sequence correct, she flew through the rest of the numbers back to 1.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Earn a Gift Card by Writing about Travel

As I've mentioned before, I'm a BzzAgent and have the opportunity to participate in Word-of-Mouth marketing. It's something I enjoy doing but seldom actually post about on my blog. BzzAgent, for the uninitiated, is a company that sends out samples and coupons to participating volunteer "Agents" who in turn, hand them out to people. As BzzAgent grew, the Frogpond was created to handle online companies and their Word-of-Mouth marketing efforts. Once again, it's something I seldom talk about on the blog.

Today, however, there was a Frogpond offer that I wanted to pass along to my blogger friends. Writing is something that all of us blogger-types enjoy doing - so why not make a few bucks off it? As part of a Frogpond promotion for a travel blog called GoneGoing, they're offering the following:

Frogpond™ Special Offer
This promotion runs from 1 February 2008 to 31 March 2008

We're giving away $10 Amazon.com® gift cards* to all Frogpond Agents and their referrals who contribute to GoneGoing. Simply use the form below to participate, then write a travel blog article containing at least 200 words and at least 4 photos from a recent trip. Each article will get a $10 Amazon.com gift card, and each person can submit up to three articles. For more information look in the "My Promotions" area of your profile once you've joined below.

Although I take a ton of pictures everywhere we go, I seldom post them on the blog. Since I have so many pictures, I'm considering posting at least one article because I like to shop at Amazon and can always use the free gift card. Figured I would share the link and let all of you take advantage, too!

I want to make it clear that I do not get compensation of any kind for anyone signing up for this through my blog. I'm posting my BzzAgent referral link so they'll know you were referred through an agent and therefore can take participate in the promotion.

If anyone posts anything, let me know!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rotisserie Chicken Salad Recipe

I'm not very creative in the kitchen. I can follow a recipe (most of the time) and it will turn out okay (most of the time). Fortunately, DH is a good cook and has been the head chef of our family for the majority of our marriage. Being that I'm thrifty, it was killing me to keep paying deli prices for chicken salad. My favorite hotspot for it was SuperTarget where they had a Rotisserie Chicken Salad but it was very expensive. Finally, I decided to research recipes and experiment until I had one that I really liked. I found that it was easier to just modify the recipe each time I made it until it was right - trying different spices or extras such as onions. To my surprise, I came up with my own recipe for Rotisserie Chicken Salad. There's probably one exactly like it somewhere on the internet but I didn't find it before and I don't plan to search for it now. Instead, this is a brag and share post.

My first custom recipe…

Nicole's Next-Day Rotisserie Chicken Salad
3 lb Rotisserie Chicken (Our favorite – Sam's Club)
¼ tsp Oregano
¼ tsp Basil
¾ tsp Tarragon
1 tsp Garlic powder
¼ tsp Kosher salt
1 cup Mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip! Our favorite – Hellmann's)
Pepper to taste (Straight from the pepper mill)

Note: Best if prepared while the chicken is still warm then allowed to chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Pull and dice entire rotisserie chicken. Discard all but a few well-seasoned pieces of skin for added flavor. Dice skin pieces.
  • Combine all ingredients. Don't skimp on the mayo - It may look too creamy but much will be absorbed while refrigerated.
  • It's great on crackers or as a sandwich… but we love it best by the spoonful!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Free Fitness Magazine Offer and More!

I'm a sucker for a free magazine. Only thing better than a free magazine subscription is a free two year subscription. Everyone makes fun of me because we receive so many magazines it's ridiculous. Whenever we move, I have to put together a spreadsheet just to make sure I took care of all of them. I think my record is somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 subscriptions at one time. Thank goodness DH is a big reader. And for anyone who is concerned - I've always donated/recycled our "used" magazines to the hospital, doctor offices, gym or library.

With that being said - here's an offer for Two years of Fitness magazine from a site called Valuemags. I've used them for years and have never had a problem with them. Don't worry, they don't ask for your credit card. I never apply for a free magazine if they ask for my credit card number because that just doesn't make sense. In addition, I always use my initials instead of my full name when applying for any free offer and I make sure to use a junk email like hotmail. For this offer, just go to their site, provide your name/address/email information and you're good to go.

As a bonus, they have a few additional free magazine offers like Bridal Guide, Parents, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Games for Windows, Sport Diver, Boating Life, and Waterski.

Edited 2/15 to add Parents Magazine and Sport Diver to the list.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Five then Driving then Married

Miss M recently had a birthday and turned five. F-I-V-E. On her birthday, she proudly proclaimed that she's "Almost six" then proceeded to say "Then I'll be seven then eight...(continued) ...then sixteen and I get to drive a car." Excuse me? You're five and you're already thinking about driving? We're in for a very rough eleven years.

Then tonight, while I was tucking her in, it got worse. She was admiring my necklace and asking about it. "I love your beautiful necklace, Mommy. Who gave it to you?"
We've been through this before, so I replied "Who do you think gave it to me?"
She said "Grandma L and Pappa M."
I said "That's right."
"Why did they give it to you?" she asked.
We really haven't talked about it in that much detail so I decided I would play along. "They gave it to me when I finished going to school."
"How old?"
"When I was about 18, a long time ago. Maybe I'll give you a necklace when you're done with school, too."

"You have a long way to go, honey."
I guess she got bored with that line of questioning, so she moved on to "How old are you?"
"Well, honey, I'm 37 and I'll be 38 on my next birthday."
"When I'm 38, I'm going to be a neighbor and be married."
She's really into the idea of neighbors because we keep baking cookies for them when we get new ones. Where she came up with "married" is beyond me. Deep breath. "That's right, you'll be married when you're 38."
Then she asked "Are you going to be married when you're 38?"
"Honey, I'm married to Daddy. He's my husband."
"Oh, who am I going to be married to?"

"I don't know, honey. You'll have to find your Prince Charming."

When I tuck her in tomorrow night, if she asks me about having kids, I'm going to cry.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Cookies from Heaven

So... I'm working my tail off at the gym and what do I decide I need to do? Bake cookies with the girls. It's been miserably cold here and baking just seemed like a good idea.

A few days ago, I wandered over to Cookie Baker Lynn's blog and searched for something that the girls would like that wouldn't require a trip to the store. After browsing her tag for chocolate cookies, I found Perfect Presentation Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies. I had all the ingredients except for the peanut butter chips. Actually, I thought I had those too but couldn't locate them once I was emotionally invested in making these. I used milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet which worked great for the cookie, but not for the ganache. They weren't "perfect presentation" when I made them, but they were scrumptious. Note - WERE. Past tense. Almost all gone. Ugh.

Although I'm trying to create healthier meals, I feel that baking cookies with the girls is a right of being a mom. So we made cookies, gave some away to lighten the load and enjoyed the rest. If you're in the mood to bake and want something different, give these a try.

Friday, February 1, 2008

How to Tuck a Kid into Bed

Generally, I'm the one who takes care of getting the kids ready for bed. Even on days when the kids specifically ask for Daddy to tuck them in, I make an excuse to get him out of it. Something akin to "Dad has work to do so I get to tuck you in." I often view it as a chore because they want to play, be ornery or find an excuse to have me come back upstairs the second I get comfy on the couch – all of which gets extremely tiresome. So when DH offers to read to them and sing to them, I usually tell him "No, I'll take care of it."

Each night after brushing their teeth, we read two books together. As I tuck each of them in individually, they get to select one song, create a new one to sing or ask me to make up a new song. Lately though, they've been asking for "Daddy to sing a new song" to them. I finally talked him into filling me in on why his "new songs" are so much better than mine because I obviously need some tips. He explained that every time he tucks them in, he sings the same song to them but switches it up a little to personalize it and make it a little different. It was sweet and the girls obviously love it.

Tonight while he was tucking them in, there was so much giggling I could hear it all the way downstairs. I realized that when I tuck them in, it's all business. Stick to the routine. I chat with each of the girls for a short while before singing to them. Sometimes about events to come, other times about the day we just finished. But we don't really get to the level of giggling I heard from them tonight. Ever.

This is a good reminder that it's not a chore - it's a benefit of being a parent. And the best way to tuck a kid into bed is Daddy's way… ending the day on a happy note… laughing.