Friday, October 31, 2008

Guess Who Came In For Halloween!!!!

We've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Flat WeaselMomma, fresh from her sunny California visit with Busy Dad and his family. She arrived just in time for Trick or Treating with the Bad Momma Family! I quickly threw together our costumes.

Can you guess who we are? O.K., I better help you... We're not Lucille Ball.... Think...."We Can Do It!"...Still not getting it? ROSIE THE RIVETER! Hey, it was worth a shot! Got us lots of treats!
Okay, I guess the jacket threw you off. But hey, it was a bit chilly out.

The Grim Reaper

Samurai Vampire

Getting started.

FWM picking out a treat. She went for the Kit Kat bar.

Bwahahahaha..... I better send her back in time for Election Day.

This was a pumpkin carved by a 20 year old neighbor from a photo of a baby.

More Pumpkin Fun!

This is what happens when you try to out-drink Flat WeaselMomma.

Check out the haul!

Stay tuned! More fun with Flat WeaselMomma to come. Time to chow down!
Hope you all had a safe but fun Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Just a quick reminder: Halloween is just a few days away. So are elections....
So many things to be afraid of. I'm ready to give up coffee. I just need to read the morning news to get my heart going.

Yesterday, while running an errand, I was circling a parking lot in search of a vacant piece of blacktop. A few rows out, there were several free spaces that weren't too far from the store I was going to. As I prepared to pull in next to a hatchback, I stopped in my tracks.

A bloody foot was hanging out of the back! My heart stopped and my blood ran cold. For a few brief seconds that seemed like an eternity, I panicked. What should I do? As I reached for my cell phone, I realized that this was just a prank. A fake foot like the one pictured below:

Normally I am much more skeptical and would not have been taken in. The news lately has been so grim, it is hard to tell reality from a simple joke.

After feeling foolish, I pulled into a space, a few spots down. As my heart slowly returned to its normal 4 cups of coffee pace, I walked by the car with the "bloody foot" and chuckled.

I guess this is the payback for the silly stunt I have on my window!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Home Ec Rocks!

Last night at dinner, my 6th grader told me about his first Home Economics class. He will be taking this class for the next 6 weeks. He started the conversation by asking me about our iron. My son was curious whether we had a steam function.

I responded in the affirmative and my interest was piqued! My son went on to tell me about his class. Yesterday they learned how to iron. Each child was given a square cloth to learn with. I offered to "help" him practice at home. I have a pile of cloth napkins that could use a good ironing. Matter of fact, I am sure I could provide enough laundry for the whole class to iron.

I jokingly asked, " Can you get extra credit for ironing at home?"

" Yes." he responded. " We can get extra credit if we do a chore or a cooking thing at home and a parent writes a note about it."

Yeah, baby! I've got your extra credit. We're going for an "A" in this class!

Home Ec Rocks!!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Morning Latte

Our boys started learning basic survival techniques at a young age. By first grade, they were able to use a microwave (with supervision), find something for breakfast without waking Mommy & Daddy, pack their own school lunch and dial 911 (in theory, not that they ever had to).

I have been moving on to slightly more challenging tasks. My 10 year old son can boil water and make his own spaghetti dinner, use the oven to make cinnamon rolls (from a can) and today we moved on to making the perfect Latte for mommy on Sunday mornings.

Step by Step Instructions:

Bad Momma's Latte

Step 1: Start Your Engines
Start by teaching your child the proper technique of making the perfect pot of coffee. Fill the pot with approximately 10 cups of cold water. Make sure your child knows where to pour the water. Using a 1.5 - 2 oz. packet of coffee, carefully cut open the pouch and dump into coffee filter. (note: We recommend using safety scissors for children under 8 years old.) Make sure the pot and filter are in their proper place and push the start button.

Step 2: Preparing the Frothy Goodness
Using the dairy product of your choice, pour roughly 1.5 inches of liquid in microwaveable coffee cup. We used 2% but we recommend whole milk or half and half for best results.

Add a spoonful of sugar

Whip it Good!
Using a hand-held mini mixer with special "frother attachment", beat milk and sugar mixture until you achieve desired foaminess.

Microwave for approximately 25 seconds.
Time may vary by 5 seconds depending on size of cup, amount of mixture, brand of oven and desired hotness.

Step 3: Add Coffee

Ready to serve.
A side of freshly-baked cinnamon rolls is sure to earn you extra "Mommy Points" !

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Settling In

Last week while my husband's cousin was visiting from Ireland, he asked me what time I get to work each day. I answered that I usually arrive between 7:30 - 8:00 a.m., to which I received a raised eyebrow and query, " Do your customers call that early?"

In hushed tones I fumbled for the right words to describe what I do every weekday morning for the first hour. My husband was within earshot and has an uncanny way of hearing what is not meant for his ears.

I was trying to discretely convey that I use the first hour to catch up with blog friends, have a few cups of coffee, check emails, scan the news, and perhaps a quick game of Solitaire or Freecell until my help comes in at 9:00 a.m. I did not want to have my husband hear that I leave the house early to "play". Everyone has a guilty pleasure they hide from their loved ones, right???

After a few uncomfortable moments, our visitor brightened up as he finally made sense of my answer.
"Oh! You take some time to settle in."
I like that! "Getting Settled" or "Settling In" sounds so much more civilized than "Goofing Off" or "Playing"

Now if I can only find the right words for what I am doing at this moment. (Goofing off while the boys are outside raking leaves.) mmmm perhaps "Taking in a quiet moment"????

Better get back to laundry before the gig is up! I think my "Quiet Time" is over.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Weekend At Bad Momma's

Watch out Rachel, Paula, Martha & Oprah..... There's a new entertaining/decorating/culinary Diva in town! This weekend I had a chance to test market my skills on my unsuspecting family.
We had my husband's brother come visit with his family on Saturday and hosted a family gathering at our house on Sunday afternoon. My husband's cousin from Ireland was visiting with my mother-in-law for 10 days and was going back home on Monday. This was our chance to showcase our hospitality.

Friday night/Saturday Morning: House Cleaning Olympics

Between Friday night swim practices, television shows and Saturday Morning piano lessons, we were able to make the house presentable and perform a quick grocery store run for Saturday essentials. I stopped at the market with my 3 hungry boys on the way home from swim practice. We filled the cart with various forms of lunch meats, bread, milk, breakfast foods and a nice variety of desserts. It is amazing how much money can be spent so quickly, especially when Dad is left at home to do the yard work.

Let The Games Begin

My brother-in-law called an hour ahead to warn us of their impending arrival and to check if they could pick anything up at the store. They would be popping in briefly for lunch and then off to the football game (Ohio State vs Purdue). I assured them that we had the food under control. We finished up some spot cleaning and hid the cleaning supplies minutes before they rang the bell.

There was just enough time to let the cousins play together, get the luggage of the two boys, that would later spend the night, and provide a quick lunch. The plan was after the game, the visiting family would spend time with my sister-in-law's brood across town before returning to our house.

We had roughly five hours to ourselves. This was plenty of time to engineer a quick room make-over!

Extreme Window Make-Over

Our decorating style (or lack thereof) could be labeled "Minimalist". White walls, beige carpets and roughly half our windows are covered with white sheers . The rest of our windows employ vertical blinds to protect our privacy; BIG, two inch strips of fabric coated vinyl. You won't see these featured in any Architectural Digest issue. Mandated by my husband; he claims there is no dusting or other maintenance required.

The living room was among those with sheers to allow the sun to shine in. The late afternoon sun streaming through the front window can be a bit strong and is not so good for our new, shiny black baby grand piano ( aka the "Family Vacation"). As a temporary measure we had hung a heavy creme-colored flannel sheet as a make-shift window shield. Effective but not so attractive.

Partly due to the ongoing debate of "Drapes versus Vertical Blinds" and partly due to laziness, we had not resolved this issue. With my HUSBAND's family in town, I decided to "Carpe Diem" and win this battle in the name of good taste.

  • Step 1: Rally the Troops: I gathered the boys and we huddled around the laptop so we could agree on the best "look" for the window. One of the first steps in any good business plan is "VISION" and it is important to have a shared vision. I made sure that before we left the house, we were all on the same page - MINE!
  • Step 2: Motivation for Cooperation: In addition to a smart-looking room and happy mommy, I bribed the boys with a trip to Target. They had gift cards to use up and I promised as long as they were helpful, this would be our last stop before home.
  • Step 3: Stick to Pre-Planned Route: After an exhaustive online search, it appeared that Lowes was the most likely store to carry what we were looking for. I made this the 2nd to last stop. The first stop, Macy's, proved futile and Lowes had the best variety of affordable choices. Keeping the last stop to where the "carrot at the end of the stick" resides is key. I shudder to think how terribly wrong our mission would have turned out if I gave out the "rewards" before reaching our goal.
  • Step 4: Enlist the help of a professional: After narrowing the selection, we found a salesperson to guide us. I explained what we were looking for and showed him drawings with measurements. He helped us find the right sizes and product. After a quick vote, we left with 4 panels and a drapery rod.
Note to self: drapery rods can be also used as weapons. Not such a good thing when shopping alone with three boys. It did get us faster service and out the door quickly and onto our final destination - Target. I let the boys each choose one item to buy while I perused the home furnishing area to confirm we had made the right decision at Lowes.

  • Step 5: Getting the Draperies Hung: Once safely at home, I unpacked and ironed each panel. I carefully draped them over the furniture in the living room. This prevented guests from using the room until the drapes were put up, as well as to prevent wrinkles. I also had the boys fetch my husband's power tools which I put in the center of the room to add additional motivation. It worked, the makeover was finished 30 minutes before the entire family arrived on Sunday.
(note: this only works when my husband's family is coming. Also duly noted is the distinct possibility of a payback. Fortunately my family is not expected any time soon.)

Saturday Night - Sunday Morning

I had a chance to see what life might be like with FIVE boys and my 7 year old had a chance to see what it would be like having a younger brother. I found that after 3 boys, an extra one or two is not that much tougher. The ages were stair-stepped: 6, 7, 9, 10, and 11. For the most part the boys got along well with the exception of my "baby" being a bit annoyed with his younger cousin. I think he was jealous of not being the youngest and center of attention. Also, taking care of a kindergarten-age child is a bit more challenging than managing a second-grader!

Sunday Afternoon Party on the Patio

We were blessed with summer-like weather and hosted 9 adults and 10 children for "Luner"(Late Lunch/ Early Dinner) on our patio. I waited until my in-laws arrived to survey the offerings and then go to the grocery store to supplement.

My children and I had a chance to meet my husband's cousin who was here on holiday from Ireland. We had only a few hours to make an impression and I set my fool-proof plan into play.
  • Marinate the guests. I had wine glasses, a cork screw and a few bottles of vino ready. After introductions and hugs hello, corks went flying and glasses were filled. Another helpful tip we discovered by accident is the benefit of sitting your guests in direct sun. Not only will they quickly gain color (beet red if they have fair Irish skin), they will also need to "hydrate" more. A slightly dis-oriented guest will not notice any slight faux pas or imperfections that might tarnish your sterling reputation as the perfect host.
  • Take a few guests with you on your run to the store. This is a great way to abscond with the guest(s) of honor and monopolize their time. It is also a good way to get some input on what additional dishes are needed. The more variety, the better. Less pressure on each individual entree.
  • There is no such thing as too much dessert! Left-overs can be used as bribes for help with cleaning up.
  • Pay attention to labels. Assuming that all the product in a row is the same, may prove to be your undoing. I created a new recipe from making this oversight. A little dish I like to call:
"Couscous-Pilaf tm"(patent-pending)

As you can see these boxes look very similar. More than once I have grabbed two boxes from the same row on the store shelf, only to discover the difference when at home.

This time both boxes made it into the same pot of boiling water. Two very similar-looking products with very different cooking times. Couscous takes 5 minutes while Pilaf needs 25 to 30 minutes to simmer.

I discovered this error as I was stirring the boiling concoction and was surprised at the suddenly thick consistency. As there was no time to go back to the store, I improvised. I added extra olive oil and compromised on cooking time. The couscous was a bit over-cooked and gummy which helped balance the al dente texture of the under-cooked Pilaf. Normally one box serves 5 - 6 guests. Two boxes were more than enough for 19 dinners! Everyone who tried it claimed they liked this mixed-up pasta dish. I think it even tasted better the next day. The third day was the charm! It was if we had a magic, never ending pot of Couscous-Pilaf tm.
Never have I seen a Pilaf dish stretch so far.

I may have found a way to end world hunger!

All Good Things Come To an End

Before we knew it, our guests slowly disbursed. As the last cousin was belted in their car-seat and the cavelcade rolled away, my boys let out a collective sigh.

My youngest son held the back of his hand dramatically against his forehead and exclaimed, "Peace at last!"
My middle son nodded his head in agreement.
I looked at my oldest boy and he sighed, "It feels like we're missing a couple of boys. I think I could handle two more brothers!"
I threw him a bewildered look and he continued. " ....We could adopt!" as if my primary concern was that I was past the age of birthin' babies!

Nice thought but I don't think so!

A Sweet Ending

I surveyed the carnage, focusing on the trail of toys leading down the basement stairs. As I was contemplating cleanup, my boys zeroed in on the plethora of left-over desserts. They begged for another helping and I agreed.
AFTER the basement was picked up.
Which they did.
In record time!

That's what I'm talkin' about!
You can NEVER have too many desserts!

Monday, October 13, 2008

What do Braces & Skittles have to do with Business & Finance?

In November of 2007 (11 months ago), I signed up for Blogburst.

Want your blog seen by millions of new readers ?

I was curious what kind of exposure I might get. Hey, it's free and I could be famous one day because of my membership.

I just found out this morning that my 3rd post has been picked up through Blogburst. This time it was through Reuters for my post "The Last Request"

I am curious what article I am attached to
. This happened either today or yesterday. Before you get excited for me, you need to know that this will bring me neither fame nor fortune. Most likely my post was picked due to winning the "key word" lottery. I am much wiser after my "Bathroom Humor" post was picked up by the Chicago Sun Times.

After an exhaustive search, I found my post attached to an article about threatening graffiti found in a high school bathroom where the police were called in. Not sure what a post about my boys' bathroom antics had to do with this. I guess there aren't many Blogburst members that blog about bathrooms.

I have tried without success to find what Reuter's article my post on "The Last Request"is attached to. I am a little afraid. I did make reference to the "long and painful road ahead" and this gem was featured in the Business section under Investing.

If you happen to figure this out, let me know. Unless the pairing is too painful to report back on!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Making Yardwork Fun

One of the reasons I had kids was to help take care of me in my old age. I also am trying to get my 3 boys to pull their own weight around the house. My children won't willingly do chores but I find if I make it a contest or a challenge, then it's "Game On!"

When I have a basket of clean clothes, it's time for the "Laundry Game" where we have a competition to see who can fold and put away their laundry the quickest. Dishes must be cleared and put into the dishwasher if there is to be dessert. Right before I vacuum a room, the boys have 5 minutes to pick up their stuff so I don't "accidentally" suck their toys up into my vacuum cleaner. There needs to be a reward or consequence to gain full cooperation.

I have extended the fun to include the yard work.

This has been a crazy season for nuts. Our patio and surrounding area has been bombarded with acorns and hickory nuts. The nuts have been making a mess on our patio and need to be handpicked out of the surrounding pebbles. We held a competition to see who could fill their 5 gallon bucket first.

I helped by working alongside the boys and took turns dumping my much smaller container into each of my boys buckets. In just under an hour, my eldest son was declared the winner ( see the full bucket in the top photo) and our patio area looked tons better!

We are still working on perfecting the sport of team speed cleaning before company is due.

We have family coming to visit tomorrow. I think tonight we will have the "House Cleaning Olympics". I would appreciate any suggestions for "games" we can include. Perhaps a contest for the best game idea????? Anyone?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's the Economy, Stupid Part II or better yet make that the Stupid Economy!

It has been very disconcerting to follow the news of the past two weeks. While the economy has been floundering over the last few years, with the bailout of AIG , Wall Street and many banks starting to fail, it seems like our economy is suddenly imploding.

I am having a hard time understanding how in a few weeks time, tightening credit has caused such a chain reaction in such a short time. How much is simply unfounded panic? What does this all mean?

As if watching a horror movie, I am viewing this train wreck with one eye open in child-like fascination and the other shut in gut-wrenching revulsion.

On a Brighter Note Gas Prices are starting to Drop below the $3 mark!

Every day this week I have seen the price of gas drop a few cents. Less than a week ago I paid around $3. 60 a gallon. The same station is at $3.04 tonight.

I wonder if all the fuel surcharges that have been added by my vendors at my work will be rolled back. Will citizens go back to driving more and stop conserving? I also wonder how much of the yo-yoing prices is a game being played by OPEC to see how far Americans can be pushed without breaking the hold the oil barons have over us.

Is it just my imagination or does the price of fuel get magically lowered when Americans start conserving and pushing for alternative energy?

The Glass is Half-Full

I have decided to look at the bright side of this.

We have more home-cooked meals and spend more time at home. This has brought our family closer together! My dad was a child of the great depression, yet his stories were not depressing. Neighbors pulled together and helped each other. There was a sense of community.

Time to Remain Calm

We have been trying to conserve gas by combining errands, avoiding unnecessary driving and staying close to home. If we just need a few items at the store, we will pay a slightly higher price to shop nearby than to drive further away and spend more than we would save in fuel. We also save time!

We also have avoided any drastic changes or knee-jerk reactions. We are leaving our money in the banks and are not selling stocks in a panic. Moderation is the key! What goes up must come down and when you bottom out, things can only get better!

Let's not panic people. This is a time to remain calm and reach out to your neighbors!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The "P" Word

Today's Post is dedicated to the Letter P. Let's talk Politics!

I've already posted about yard signs and banners, but I have another observation I would like to make. Lack of Variety! I estimate that over 90% of the signs I see are for one race! The majority of the yards I pass that have a sign, either tout McCain or Obama.

P is for President!

I am holding true to my promise to not tell you Who to vote for but I would like to offer my suggestions on How to vote. The presidential race is not the only leaders that we are electing. We have other officials and issues to vote for.

Last time I checked we still live in a democracy. One person does not rule our country. I remember years ago, my high school social studies teacher told us that anyone could be president and recommended a rotation of "average citizens" be put in the position.

I am not advocating this nor am I publicly endorsing either ticket. I am merely pointing out that one person does not make all of the decisions for our country. If this was so, the bailout package would have gone through the first time, unedited.

Think Globally But Act Locally

Do you know who is running in your local elections? Do you know your State Reps, Congressmen, Judges, County Commissioners and issues that will be on your ballot next month? This is the time to research candidates and issues. Make sure you go beyond sound bites and understand the full impact of what you are voting for.

My husband likes to print out copies of the issues & races and study them. He discovered that this year, copies of ballots are available online. We discuss how we are going to vote & why and take a "cheat sheet" to the polls with us on election day.

P is also for Participation

I had my political awakening a few years back. I was grumbling at work about a sales tax increase that was passed with four days notice and without being put on the ballot.

"That's taxation without representation!" I ignorantly proclaimed.

To which my co-worker wryly responded with, "You vote, right?" When I said "Yes??" she reminded me that the politicians I voted for, passed this on my behalf. At that point I started to make my views known. I also had concerns about another tax issue and began to make the rounds.

I learned the importance of joining organizations of people that share my concerns. I joined the NFIB ( National Association of Independent Business Owners). I vote their ballots that help shape their platform of issues they lobby for. I have met with my state reps and attend the NFIB area action council meetings. I also participate in the yearly Small Business Day at the Statehouse.

One of the important messages we were told was about the importance of taxpayers making their views known. Our politicians are constantly bombarded by those who want to spend our money yet not as often by the citizens who ultimately fund these causes.

So my message to you is get Passionate, Proactive and Participate in Politics! If you don't vote and make your voice heard, you have no one to blame but yourself!