Thursday, May 29, 2008

Two Milestones

Today, on Danni's first day of summer break, she got to take two more tests. The first one was for a food handler's card. She was hired at Applebee's as a hostess last Saturday, and she is starting work this Saturday. One of the requirements is that she obtain a food handler's card. I'm happy to report that she passed with flying colors, only missing two questions on the 25 question test. In fact, she thinks she's all bad right now, because when I had to get a food handler's card last fall to work at the concession stand at the high school football games, I missed three questions on the test. Say kiddo, do you think maybe you did so well because I told you about the questions that tripped me up, and told you the key words to watch for? Yeah. You're welcome.

After she got her food handler's card, we headed to the MVD for her driver's test. I'm happy to report that she also passed this one. Not so much because she can now legally drive without me, but because I really didn't want to spend the rest of the day in the same house with her if she didn't pass it...if you know what I mean. And if you have a teenager, I know you know what I mean.

Shannon was nice enough to stay home with Kylie while we did these things this morning. Thank you, was much less stressful this way.

Apparently, Danni had promised Shannon that as soon as she got her license, the two of them would go to Starbucks to celebrate with an icy cream frappacino thing, or whatever it is that they get there. The things with no coffee that are kind of like milkshakes. Steve gets free $5 giftcards to Starbucks at work all the time, and since he doesn't drink coffee and neither do I, he gives them to the girls.

I thought it would be nice if they took Kylie with them, because she'd been stuck in the house all morning too. Shannon was not happy about this. I did not care. I made them take her.

So here I sit, all by myself in the house, with all three of my children driving around in one car, without me. I try not to let myself think of the horrible implications of a single accident for that car. Dwelling on that would make me crazy. So I won't. Besides, they can use all residential streets to get to Starbucks. In fact, we're almost out of milk, and there's a Basha's right next to Starbucks, so I gave D some extra money and told her to get us some milk too. I think maybe I'm starting to see the advantage in this.

There they are, at the end of our street, driving away...without me. The funny part is I just now got a phone call from Danni's phone, but it was Shannon. I said,

"Please don't tell me you've been in an accident already."

"No, Danni just told me to call you and tell you that we're at Basha's and that we're fine."

They know me so well.

Please be careful, baby. That's some precious cargo you're carrying around. And I'm not just talking about your little sisters.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Profound Truths From Nickelodeon

As I'm sitting here, killing time by reading blogs balancing my checkbook while waiting to go pick up my oldest from the last day of her sophomore year, Kylie is watching Fairly Odd Parents. I wasn't listening to it, until this one phrase caught my ear:

"I sense a my WALLET!"

There's my whole life, summed up in 7 words. Thank you, Nickelodeon.

Monday, May 26, 2008

You Say It's Your Birthday?

Well, it's my birthday too! I started this blog in September of last year, so this is my first birthday blog.

I turned 40 last year, and that was very difficult for me. I don't know why. In fact, I'm still really not over it, but today, I'm 41. Forty-one. For some reason that's a little easier to take than 40. Not easier to say, but easier to handle in my mind. Maybe it's because it's 6:22am and I've already starting drinking.

Kidding! I'll wait until at least 8am!

The funny thing is, I don't feel 41. I don't feel like I'm in my 40s. I keep waiting for someone to bust me, pretending to be an adult. One of these days, someone is going to find out that I really shouldn't be in charge of anything, especially two teenagers! I've always felt like I'm masquerading as a grown-up. I see all these other women that are confident and mature and ... well, adult-like, and then here's me in my denim shorts and t shirts and long hair. I've heard it said that 40 is the age where you're really too old to have long hair, but somehow I just can't bring myself to cut it. I like my hair. Well, except for my bangs, but we're not going there.

I'm lucky enough, right now, not to have any health problems yet. Well, actually I'm just scared to go to the doctor, so if I do have any health problems, I just don't know about them. That is denial in its truest form, my friends. I know I should go do that mammo-gyno thingy, it's been like 3 years. I just...oh, what's the word...LOATHE it. I will though. I'll make the appointment. Ummm...tomorrow. Hey, today's a holiday!

We went out to dinner last night, because I'll be at work tonight. Yes, I'm going to work on my birthday! I probably wouldn't, except for the aforementioned holiday. Since I'm just a peon hourly worker, I actually get double-time for working today, so heck yeah, I'm going. We are going to go see Indiana Jones around noon, Steve and Danni and I. Shannon doesn't want to go, so we'll let her stay home and be a 13 year-old fun-sucker all by herself. The movie theater has a kids playcenter, and Kylie loves that, so we'll take her with us.

Maybe, just maybe, when I get home from work tonight, the cleaning fairy will have paid me a visit for my birthday. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Friday, May 23, 2008

This is...May?

Ok, I know you're all sick of me talking about the weather, but this is just plain weird. Strange. Insane. You get the idea.

So on Tuesday, you read about me bitching that it hit 110 on Monday, which rarely happens in May. We usually save that for the end of June.

Yesterday, we had a storm come through, and it rained most of the afternoon and evening. This is the first time in 7 years that we've had even a drop of rain in the entire month of May. May and June are normally our driest months. May and June are what people are talking about when they say "It's a dry heat" here. And get this...not only did it rain here, and drop down into the FIFTIES....but it SNOWED in Flagstaff. Snowed. On May 22nd. In Arizona.

The high today is only supposed to be 69. The normal high for today is about 98 degrees. And it will be 100 by next week. But for right now, this is HEAVEN. For once, I am not bitching about the weather. I am going to enjoy every single minute of today and tomorrow, before it starts heating up again.

The only person that's not happy right now is Danni. Because yesterday was the day that we had planned to go get her driver's license. And we went down there after school, and they weren't doing any road testing because it was raining. To say she was a little bit of an understatement.

The forecast is calling for intermittent showers this morning, with possible thunderstorms again this afternoon/evening. But it's not raining right now, and I even see a little sun poking out. There are three days of school left, and I promised her that if it wasn't raining this morning, we'd go down to the MVD first thing. All she's going to miss is her dance class.

Cross your fingers for her that the rain holds off this morning, at least for a little while. I'm not sure I want to be around her if she is denied again today. It could get ugly.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Great Mojito Experiment

Today was Kylie's last day of Pre-K. She is now officially a kindergartener. Well, she will be, when school starts again. So she and I had a few Bacardi Mojitos, to celebrate her graduation.

Ok, not really.

On the last day of school, they all went in bathing suits for a water-play party. Parents were invited to stay for the entire three hours. How come when she was at school and I was out doing my thing, three hours was so short? It was kind of long today. And the kids were all wound up.

They started out by making a circle...

Which quickly deteriorated when the water balloons were brought out.

Then there was a lot of running around with squirt bottles.

And a lot of trying to squirt me while I was trying to take pictures.

By the way, when you have a moment, take a look at all the little girls in bathing suits. Notice that my daughter is the only one in a two-piece suit. This is what comes from having teenaged sisters, and a mother who is jealous of your five year-old flat tummy. I say if you can pull it off, go for it, sister. I wonder if all the other moms think I'm horrible, letting her wear that. But she looks so dadgum cute, doesn't she? Well, I think so.

There was face painting.

Hey, I know how to keep the daughters of the face-painters occupied...let's paint mom's back! And shoulders! She was a good sport.

There was a lot of dancing, and limbo-ing.
Um, kids? That's not how you're supposed to...oh, never mind.

There was a lot of hugging, and there were a lot of tears. Mostly from the moms. This is Kylie with the teacher's aide in her class. She broke her foot a few days ago, but wanted to be there to say goodbye to the kids, hence the wheelchair.

This was a bittersweet day for me, because I've decided to take Kylie out of the charter school and put her in public school for kindergarten, for many reasons which I won't go into here. My other two kids grew up in that charter school, and it was a wonderful place. Those memories, and these today, make me second-guess myself, which I'm sure I'll continue to do all summer.

But we have a great public school district, and I already have two kids in the public schools, and I know Kylie will be fine. And they'll all three be on the same schedule, for the first time in 5 years.

What I'm trying to say, is that between all the squirt bottles and water balloons, dancing, eating, and crying, it was an emotionally exhausting morning. And I felt bad for the two teachers, who had to pull themselves together afterwards, so they could repeat the whole thing with the afternoon class.

But what I'm really saying is that I was drained.

So it seemed like the perfect time.

We're having a little get-together with some friends this coming Sunday. And I've always wanted to try making Mojitos. I've never even had one, but they sounded good. I decided today would be the day that I would experiment with making one, and if it turned out well, I would make them for everyone on Sunday.

So, with a little shout-out to my favorite Pioneer Woman and her photo-cooking demonstrations, I've decided to show you how I made my Mojito.

First, we have the cast of characters: Club soda, fresh mint leaves, limes, sugar, and the all-important Bacardi rum. I'll skimp on the Kroger brand soda and sugar, but I'll spring for the Bacardi. It's important to have the Real Thing. And I don't mean Coca-Cola.

First, depending on which recipe you believe, you put between 4 and 12 fresh mint leaves in the bottom of a highball glass. I don't have a highball glass, so I'm using this extremely spotty glass. I used about 10 mint leaves.
*note to self - if you're going to do demonstrations, for heaven's sake, use a non-spotty glass*

Next, we "muddle" the mint leaves in the bottom of the glass, which is a fancy way of saying squish 'em up. For this, you use a tool called a muddler. I don't have a muddler, so I'm using the handle end of a barbecue brush. Hey, I'm improvising here.

Next, add two wedges of lime to the glass.
*note to self - if you're going to do demonstrations, for heaven's sake, get yourself a decent knife. That one is awful*

Put the lime wedges in the glass with the mint leaves...

and muddle some more, until it's nice and squishy.

Then, pour two teaspoons of sugar into the glass. Some recipes call for a simple syrup, or sugar syrup, which involves boiling equal parts water and sugar together, and then letting it cool down. I don't have that kind of time, so I went with the recipe that said it's ok to just use teaspoons of sugar. In fact, this recipe is kind of a hodgepodge of several that I found.

After you add the sugar, fill the glass with crushed ice. If you don't have crushed ice, fill a Ziploc bag with ice cubes, then bang on the bag with the bottom of a mason jar for a while. That's what I did. We're high-tech around here.

Then, the most important part: Two shots of Bacardi. Hmmm, I wonder whose flip-flop that is under the chair over there?
*note to self - that grout is gross. You should really clean that*

Also, when doing a demonstration such as this, I highly recommend having a second person to take pictures. Pouring rum with one hand and taking a picture with the other hand? Not as easy as you might think.

Then fill the remainder of the glass with club soda. Can you tell the counter is wet? The club soda exploded on me when I opened it. And if you think pouring rum with one hand is hard, trying pouring something out of a full two liter bottle with that hand.

Stir it all together, and garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint. Doesn't that look tasty? I'll let you know...

Ok, here's the thing. After all that work, I didn't really care too much for it. I mean, I drank it, but I wasn't like, OMG it's so yummy, which is what other people have told me. After downing the entire drink, I decided it was too limey for me.

Of course, I had to make one more attempt. What do you mean, don't you have to go to work this afternoon? Shush. I have no idea what you're talking about.

Attempt number two was a little different, and I have no pictures. But what I did is I put about 10 more mint leaves in a larger glass, one lime wedge, and the 3 teaspoons of sugar, with a tiny splash of club soda. Then I muddled all that together until it was squishy-like.

I didn't feel like banging another Ziploc bag full of ice, so I just filled the glass with ice cubes. Poured in my two shots of rum, then filled the rest of the glass with the club soda. Then I took a large plastic cup and put it upside down over my glass, and shook the drink around some, like bartenders do. Except I'll bet they have an actual muddler, and aren't using a plastic cup from the zoo for their mixer.

The second drink was better, but I've come to the conclusion that I really don't care for the mint. I'm not sure what fresh mint is supposed to taste like, because I've never had it before. But if that's what it is, I don't like it so much. That didn't stop me from finishing the drink, of course.

Now I'm stuck with this bottle of rum, which I will take with me on Sunday. What's your favorite rum drink? I need some ideas.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Weather Craziness

Remember in my last post when I mentioned "sweltering?" Well, we are now officially sweltering.

Currently, according to, we are:

Mostly Sunny 110°F

Yes, that says 110 degrees Fahrenheit. I guess the good news is that with 5% humidity, it says that 110 actually feels like 110. I'd hate to have it feel hotter.

Last Tuesday when we went to the zoo, it was 81 degrees. And it was a cool 81, what with the overcastness and the breeze. Yesterday was our first 100 degree day of the year, at 105. That did not set a record by any means, as our earliest ever 100 degree day was March 26th.

I do believe, however, that this is our earliest 110 degree day. And I think this is the first time in history that we've ever followed our first 100 degree day with our first 110 degree day. Insanity, I tell you.

What's even crazier is the forecast for the next few days:


May 19
Mostly Clear
0% Precip

Yes, that's a LOW of 80 degrees.

Tue May 20
0% Precip

Wed May 21
Mostly Sunny / Wind
0% Precip

Thu May 22
Partly Cloudy
20% Precip

Wait just a dang minute...does that say SEVENTY FOUR degrees for the high? What the hell? That's about 20 degrees below normal. And that's four days after we hit 110. They're having frost warnings in Ohio. I know this, because Lish rubs my nose in it. Hi Lishie! :)

Fri May 23
Isolated T-Storms
30% Precip.

Yeah, it's supposed to rain on Friday.

Ten bucks says it doesn't. Because this is Arizona.

I'm freezing right now, at work. Glad I keep a jacket at the office.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

We're Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

Yesterday, through some meteorological miracle, we were blessed with a very, very nice day. Never mind that it's going to be 100 by the weekend. Yesterday was so beautiful, and cool, and breezy and overcast, that I knew something had to be done outdoors. I suggested the park to Jen, she counter-suggested the zoo. She was right, of course. This may be our last chance before we're sweltering until mid-November.

Our zoo is located in a larger area called Papago Park. Papago Park has a lot of buttes, the Botanical Gardens, ponds, and picnic areas as well as the zoo. This particular butte will be recognizable to anyone who lives here. We locals call it Hole-in-the-Rock. Because you see, there's a hole...up there in the rock. Hey, we never claimed to be original, nor particularly creative.

I took this picture when we came out of the zoo at around 12:30pm. By then the sun had come out. However, when we got there at 8:30am, it was overcast and cloudy. Jen and Grace weren't going to be there until around 9am when the zoo opened, so I decided to take Kylie for a hike up to Hole-in-the-Rock.

Now, I know it looks like you wouldn't be able to get up there without ropes and climbing hooks and such, but around the back there is a very nice trail, and even some stairs that someone built in to get up there to the hole.

This is the view standing up in that hole. In the upper left quadrant of the picture, you can barely make out a teeny-tiny blue ball. That is actually a statue with a globe on it, and that's the entrance to the zoo. Actually, if you click on the picture, it's bigger and much easier to see the globe.

Kylie had never been up to Hole-in-the-Rock before. I made her stand at the top there for a picture. Of course, since it was overcast and there was little light, it came out as a silhouette, which I thought looked pretty cool.

Besides, when you add a little light, you can actually see her expression. I have no idea what that look was all about.

It's fun to climb around on the rocks up there inside the cave...

But believe it or not, it was kind of cold up there for someone in only shorts and a t-shirt, and 0% body fat. "Mom, can we go down to the zoo now? I'll bet Gracie is here now!"

The first thing we did inside the zoo was attend a little show they had called "Animal Encounters." Kylie decided she needed to do a little dancing while we were waiting for the show to start.

This is a little tiny amphitheatre, and you get to see the animals very close-up. They showed us an owl...

...and a very pretty macaw.

Then came this iguana, which I did not care for at all. They also brought out a rather large boa constrictor, which I couldn't even look at, let alone take a picture of. You are therefore spared a picture of said snake. You don't need to thank me.

I would not make a good mom of boys. Reptiles, amphibians and fish are not things that I care to be within 100 feet of.

This guy was called a coati, I think. He was kinda cute.

After the show, we made our way up to where the tigers and lions are. I couldn't believe how many animals were actually out and active. I think they were enjoying the weather too. I love Bengal tigers. Jen has two really beautiful pictures of the tiger in her post. She has a better zoom than I do. :)

This is the king. Don't you just want to call him Simba?

Of course, you can't have Simba without Pumba. This guy made me think of that line, "They call me, Mister Pig!"

Ok, I know I always make comparisons between Kylie and a baboon, but come on. Tell me you can't see the resemblance.

Lunchtime! Does that mean it's time to eat? Of course not. That means it's time to feed all the food that mom brought with her and has been carrying around to the ducks and the birds. One of the birds actually caught a goldfish cracker that she threw in mid-air. Now that would have been a good picture.

I'm not sure what mama orangutan is looking at, but I'm pretty sure that's what I look like when I'm giving a kid the stink-eye.

Near the end in the Arizona trail, two little baby prairie dogs share a piece of broccoli. How cute is that?

Grace climbed on the frog statue...

...while Kylie decided to go wading, about 30 seconds after I told her to stay out of the water. At least she had the sense to take her shoes off. I should get that orangutan to give her the stink-eye.

I'm so glad we took this trip out to the zoo yesterday. The weather just couldn't have been any nicer, and it was a lot of fun. Thanks Jen!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

To all my favorite moms out there, Happy Mother's Day!

It's nice when they're young enough that they still make you things at school. I actually got this on Friday, because when the kids came out of PreK, they were all clutching their cards, along with what looked like a small bouquet of red roses. Upon further inspection, they were actually six pieces of cardboard egg carton, painted red, with green pipe cleaners for stems. I'm sorry I don't have a picture, because they are actually really cute. And better than real flowers, because they won't die. Here's my card:

See, that's me with the brown hair and Kylie with the blond hair. I love that kid, mostly because she thinks I'm skinny.

I told my family what I wanted for Mother's Day. And the best part is that they don't need to spend a single dime.

I work on Sunday mornings from 8am - 2pm. So I told them this is what I wanted:

1. When I come home from work, I would like the house to be clean.
2. I would like it if you kids didn't torment each other, just for today.
3. I would like someone else to cook dinner, and also clean up.
4. I would like to watch the season finale of Survivor tonight, in peace. I'm not saying people can't watch it with me, I'm just saying I want to watch it in peace.

Am I asking too much? Well, maybe. Wish me luck!

And now I want to wish a very special Happy Mother's Day to the mother of all mothers, Michelle Duggar. I know there are those of you out there with four, six, or even seven children, but you all have nothing on this woman.

As you may know by now, the family made famous by their specials on The Discovery Channel is awaiting the arrival of their 18th child on New Year's Day, 2009.

If you click on the Discovery Channel link up there, you will see a place where you can vote for the name of the newest addition. It just occurs to me, they will now be able to field two full softball teams, so they can actually play against each other. Ok, I know, where's the baby going to play? Well, right field, of course. How often is someone gonna hit it out there?

Anyway, you can vote on a name for the new baby, but there are only six choices for a girl and six for a boy. I can't believe they haven't used Jacob or Jessica yet. Remember, these are already taken:

Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jeremiah, Jedidiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah and Jennifer.

They also have some "fun facts" about the family on the Discovery website. Fun facts such as:

- "Michelle has been pregnant for 135 months of her life."

That's their idea of a "fun" fact? I don't think that sounds like much fun at all. Assuming she doesn't miscarry, make that 144 months. That's 12 years, people.

Speaking of miscarriages, when I had one my doctor told me that statistically, 1 in 3 pregnancies don't make it to term, and 95% of those that don't make it end in the first trimester. So how responsible is it really, to announce the pregnancy (see video on the Discovery link) when all you've done is a home test and are less than 12 weeks along? They've never mentioned her having any miscarriages, but statistically speaking, that's almost impossible.

Upon more research, that's not true. From their family website, they said that when they first got married, Michelle was on the pill because they weren't ready to have children yet. Then she went off the pill and had their first son. Then she went back on the pill. Even so, she got pregnant again, but then miscarried. After consulting with a Christian doctor, they learned that birth control pills are really just a form of abortion. They were horrified, because they are pro-life! The miscarriage was God's punishment for using birth control! (Ok, see above statistics on the 1 in 3 pregnancies ending in miscarriage)

From then on, they decided that God would dictate the size of their family. It's not that they have a lot of sex,'s that God wants them to have 18 children. Or 19. Or 25. Meanwhile, that woman's poor uterus is screaming "Please! Stop! My lining is GONE!"

I wonder if she really hasn't had any other miscarriages (highly unlikely), or if they just don't talk about it because it doesn't fit with the story. Hmmmm.

Anyway, more "fun facts":

- "The Duggars do approximately 200 loads of laundry a month."

Ok, again, where's the fun? That's 6 2/3 loads a day, every day of your life. FUN.

- "Every Duggar child learns to play both violin and piano."

Whether they want to or not, dadgummit.

Oh, AND...Michelle homeschools all the children.

Ok, right now I'm in the middle of reading Escape by Carolyn Jessop. It's about one woman who fled the FLDS compound in Colorado City, Arizona with her eight children. Now, I know the Duggars aren't Mormon, or FLDS, and I'm not saying that. There are pictures in the book though, of how the women and girls were forced to dress, and they pretty much look like...well, like this:

I'm not saying...well, I'm not really saying anything, except that this family weirds me out, a little bit. I've watched a couple of their TV shows, and the kids seem a little...robotic, to me. And Michelle seems a little too happy. Like she's medicated, or something. And really, who would blame her? But I digress.

I'm anxiously awaiting the new Discovery Health special chronicling the newest arrival. I have some ideas for titles:

Stop the Insanity! Here Comes #18
The Day Michelle's Uterus Fell Out
Jim Bob Gets A Vasectomy
How Long Do We Have To Wait Before Intercourse?
Out With The Baby, In With The Penis
You Can't Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding: Busting the Myth

Hey Discovery, I have an idea for a crossover show...

Please, feel free to add your own titles.

And have a terrific Mother's Day, even if you're only one of those amateurs (like me) with two, three, four, five or 10 kids.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Hummingbird Quest

For the past couple of weeks, Kylie's Pre-K class has been talking about insects and birds. Kylie seems to have taken a particular interest in hummingbirds. Actually, she's sort

So when I discovered that a park near us had a hummingbird habitat, I asked Jen and K if they wanted to go. They humored me enthusiastically said they would love to go! Besides, it was a chance for Jen to practice her photography skills, and for me to see if I actually had any.

We arrived at the hummingbird habitat.

It has a desert landscape, and things that you would think would be conducive to hummingbirds. Like trees...

A little pond with a waterfall...

Cute kids...hey wait, how'd that get in there?

And of course, flowers.

Maybe this is not quite so conducive to the hummingbirds appearing. I have it on good authority that K was behind me, making a funny face.

Or this...

Hmmph. Where are they?

And then finally...we see one! There it is!

What do you mean, where? It's right there.

Aye, there's the little bugger.

Quest completed. Time to head to the playground.

But playing on the playground gets hot pretty quickly. Good thing we brought swimming suits for the splash pad!

Ok, I'm just going to get a little wet...

Or maybe a lot.

I think I'll be pensive for a minute.

(pic taken by Jen)

Ok, back in the water!

(This is my favorite picture, and it was taken by Jen also.) Thanks Jen!