Sunday, September 30, 2018

What We're Eating This Week 40/52

Saturday: Slow cooker lo mein with takeout egg rolls
Sunday: Creamy chicken and wild rice soup, french bread, cooked carrots with cinnamon, and some fancy fall cheese and crackers from Trader Joe's. Brownies
Monday: Burgers, chips and veggies and dip.  Butterscotch pretzel choc chip cookies
Tuesday: BBQ chicken breasts, green beans, stuffing.
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Kid food
Friday: MYO pizza, candy, Boy Scout popcorn.

Saturday, September 29, 2018


And then I at, like a shit ton of eclairs.


Friday, September 28, 2018

Chewy Apple Cookies

You GUYS!  I developed my very own cookie recipe!

I have to tell you that the texture is a teeny bit unsettling--- kind of like a muffin top-- but the flavor is pure fall.

Here's how you make them:

Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Core and chop (I used the processor) 6 small apples

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat 3 sticks of softened butter, 2 cups of brown sugar, and a cup of white sugar.  Add 3 teaspoons of vanilla and 3 eggs.  Next, add 4.5 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and your apples.  Finish up with 3 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.

Sprinkle cookies with cinnamon sugar before baking.  Bake for about 9 minutes.


FALL IN COOKIE FORM.  6 dozen cookies, actually.  Scale as you will.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Big girl with fancy earrings!

Dorothy has been talking about getting her ears pierced FOREVER. Almost weekly since she turned 5. And eery time she brings it up, she immediately shoots it down.

On Saturday afternoon at the end of Jack's baseball game when she brought it up again, I said, "Do you want to go to the mall right now and do it?" 

And she, totally filthy with mud caking her dress, legs, and feet and black little finger and toenails, answered, "Yes."

So we did.

We got there just as Claire's "piercing princess" was getting back from what smelled like a smoke break, so that was lucky.  Dorothy was clean compared to the store, and when I watched the princess (I mean, it seemed official-- she was wearing a tiara) use her long fake nails to pierce the seal of the ear cleaner stuff she was selling us while also telling us we should wash our hands before use (um?!), I had serious misgivings.

I kept asking Dorothy if she wanted to change her mind, but she kept saying, "It's my body, my choice." (which sounds lovely now, but wait until she's 18 at the tattoo parlor-- I am fairly anti-tattoo which I know is weird and old fashioned, and I am also trying to hide this fact from my kids because of the Romeo and Juliet effect).

She needed Cooper to hold her hand and stare into her eyes, which was DARLING. Even more so when you consider that he was singing this song from Daniel Tiger to her.

There was only one person to do the piercing (I had been hoping for 2 and a simultaneous situation), but it still went smoothly, even though Dorothy cried a little and clearly regretted her choice in the seconds before the first ear and also of course between ears. (When the princess went to help her trainee with a complicated return, and Dorothy was just sitting in the chair with purple marker dots on her earlobes, I thought the project was lost, and wondered if they'd still charge me part of the $70 since I had already signed a bunch of stuff, but, nevertheless).

Midwestern childhood in a nutshell:
 Her little face!  His hands!
At least the whole thing was brief!  6 seconds!  3 live photos!
See?! Smiles!
 And she got a sucker.  I mean.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Food and other life management things.

Can we just talk for a second about my freaking menu?  It relies heavily on leftovers, and THERE ARE NO LEFTOVERS.  I mean, on Sunday night, after cooking 2/3 of the meals I planned for the week, we have enough chicken and noodles for one (small) person to eat and a single beef sandwich.  There's smattering of coleslaw and a pretty respectable tub of pasta salad, which is a side dish and there is nothing to put beside it.  YOU GUYS.

ALSO.  Groceries are more expensive every week.  I am not sure what's happening here.  Foreign relations?  Too many strawberries?  Bad luck with the grocery store specials of the week?  Like I said:  NOT SURE.  I do know that I am consistently like $50 over budget when I add up Target and groceries.

A couple of mitigating factors: 1.  I am not shopping at my beloved Aldi because I have been ordering groceries online which really does save so much time for me that it's worth the price increase (unless you count my time as totally free and then it looks like highway robbery). 2.  I have seen this pattern in grocery shopping before.  I switch places, and it's really cheap, and then it creeps up and up and up and is back to insane levels in a month or so.  3.  We are eating home every darn day because our schedule is madness, so I am buying more meals.

I struggle to find the perfect balance between too many leftovers/too much fresh produce/pantry jammed with carbs all open with a small fistful removed going stale and feeling like Old Mother Hubbard by Thursday (grocery shopping day is Saturday).  I always tell myself that ordering a ton means I won't go back mid week, but last week, I spent $46 on random mid-week trips.

Which brings me to another life management thing.  Tracking my spending.  I spend disgusting amounts of money, but as I look back on the last 2 weeks of color-coded spending I see that even the frivolous purchases I have made (a Starbucks run! midweek pancakes at a diner!) have basically been food or household related (a Mrs. Meyer's Mum candle!  A new leotard for Dorothy, even though she has a couple from last year! Really bright water bottles from Amazon-- enough for a team the listing claims, but mine are just for my own children!).  Nothing strictly for me except Fiber One and my favorite berries.  But-- and here's the rub-- I feel like  can never buy anything for me because I am buying SO MUCH STUFF for the house.  (That said, I have another billion dollar hair color sesh on the calendar for next week, and that's clearly just for me.  And also, I am addicted to the $2 TJ's face masks, so.)

Adulting is the worst you guys.

There is a mammogram on my calendar. I am thinking colonoscopy thoughts.  I mean.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Apple, apples everywhere!

On Sunday morning, we woke up to a Google calendar that would make anyone's head spin: baseball, Cub Scout popcorn selling, soccer, baseball, dive lessons, and umpiring.  And we saw a free couple of hours before all of that began, called some friends with the world's cutest toddler, and hit the apple orchard.
 It was PEEEEEERFECT.  Just under 65, warm sun, crisp fall breeze, dew.
 Pick with your upstage arm next time.

 We all rode the swing, but I have no pictures of Harry.  (Like, none.  Except for one at the bottom.  Am I forgetting about him?  Is he intentionally staying out of the way of the camera?  I need to get to the bottom of this)

 Perfect apple/

 Happy fall!!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Oh hey it's cold outside.

Every year, no matter how often I am refreshing the weather app on my phone, I am surprised by the onslaught of fall temps.

This year, I am also excited about them because the MOSQUITOES!  MY GOD THE MOSQUITOES! 

Still, as much as I would love for all the bug bites ad allergy symptoms to vanish, the first question I find myself asking the kids when fall temps greet us in the morning is OH MY GOSH!  DOES ANYONE HAVE PANTS THAT FIT?

Because I am the old woman in the shoe, it is usually just Dorothy and Harry who have a fall clothes crisis-- and two kids is manageable.  This fall, however, things are complicated by the fact that Harry and Jack wear the same size and also Cooper has very exacting standards about the way his clothes feel on his body.  Basically, I am going to Old Navy and sweeping all of the pants in the boys' section into my arms.  GAH.

Here's Dorothy enjoying the last (?) warm day of the season:
Ben and I got to go to first grade because Coper was the VIP for the week:
 Fall beer season?
 I watched Cooper warm up for baseball in the car because MOTY and also MOSQUITOES
 After a long, logistically complicated day, I let Dorothy and Jack help make omelets and pancakes for dinner, and we weren't done eating until 8:00.
 Dorothy first-cold-day flat lay:

Sunday, September 23, 2018

What We're Eating This Week 39/52

The baking continues!

I made these cookies (kids loved them; my grad students loved them.  I did not love them-- maybe the first cookie ever that is too sweet?)

I made 60 of these muffins (Cooper wanted to take them to school because he was VIP last week, and the kids also wanted some for home, but I did not think they would eat 38 muffins so quickly.  Also, I used brown sugar).

For Monday's meeting, I am choosing between these cookies and these.  BOTH WINNERS.

Chicken and noodles, brussels sprouts, jarred peached because they just GO
Crock pot Italian beef sandwiches, coleslaw, pasta salad
Salsa chicken in the crock pot for tacos, chips, salsa, guac

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Video of the Week

Behold, my Wisconsin accent dontchaknow:

Friday, September 21, 2018

Tiny Dancer Redux

The other day after school, I took advantage of a rare stint as the responding parent (my schedule has me working several evenings, meaning I am rarely home when the kids get home, and I thought I would like it, but, um, turns out I miss the chaos of backpacks and lunch boxes and clamoring little voices telling me about their days) and helped Dorothy practice getting ready for dance.

Her class is RIGHT after school.  Like, 18 minutes after the last bell rings.  It's about an 11-minute drive to dance, so she has SEVEN MINUTES to get home, put her stuff on, and jump in the car. YIKES.

Cooper bought a magic 8 ball with some of his birthday money, and Dorothy quizzes it incessantly about whether she'll be good at dance this year.  At first I thought she meant well-behaved, but then I realized she meant, like, good.  How cute/terrifying s that?

I cleared my schedule to be able to take her because she needs help, I would imagine, changing from ballet shoes to tap shoes, and it's her first year in a big kid class; her adorable little preschool classes were mid-afternoon and easy to attend on time).  But then, of course, a meeting popped up on my calendar that I couldn't refuse.  Ben will take her, in between running other kids other places (it's a day when they all have an activity).  Part of me feels guilty because there are 12 dance classes this semester, and I can got to 7 of them.  Part of me just doesn't want to miss it because our dance class ritual was something I came to love the past 2 years.

If I am being honest, the practice was for her to see if she can get her ballet slippers on (NOPE) and off (yes, but she just sort of flings them behind her, and I cannot imagine this will be any different in the studio, so I wrote her name inside them) and her tap shoes on (YES).  I also wanted to see if she could handle the sensory prison of her tights (yes, if they're footless) and put on her own leotard (sort of-- yes if it is already right-side out, but I suck at laundry, so).  But mostly, I just wanted to see this:

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Ah, first week of school mom. She leaves some big, fussy shoes to fill.

Read me on Madison Moms Blog talking overachieving the first week of school and UNDER-achieving the rest of the year.

Here's the link.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

I am missing 3 years of photos!


Not in my Photos library.

No in the iPhoto library that's taking up like 900 gigs of my computer and is called "other," maddeningly, on my storage toolbar.

Not in the Cloud.


Ben has been making fun of me for printing pictures every month at Walgreens, but those pictures?  ARE THE ONLY ONES WE HAVE!

I am going through my online Walgreens photo stash and re-adding them to my library, which is harder than it sounds because I never paid attention to naming conventions, and that's biting me in the ass right now.  Also me with a baby Cooper?  FRESH FACED AND I HAD A THIGH GAP WHAT THE HELL?  These last seven years have been cruel (and also wonderful and amazing and I would not change the for the world). (But that thigh gap tho).

I discovered this loss when Cooper had to do a VIP project for first grade this weekend, and he needed a photo of himself just born, and the best I could do was a 1-month pic that I grabbed off of Facebook.  (Although I a pretty sure we posted a pic of Cooper do freshly born he was still all covered in vernix.)

Anyway I am busy, is what I am saying.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Cooper's! Seventh! Birthday! Party!

We survived it, and I feel like I need a button proclaiming that very sentiment.

I remember Cooper's 5th birthday party when I invited all of his tiny little 4K classmates to a giant trampoline park filled with big kids.  I thought THAT was stressful.  It turns out, compared to Dave and Busters, that was A WALK IN THE PARK.  A quiet walk, save the chirping birds.  On a sunny day.  With my best friend.

HOLY CATS was Dave and Busters scary from a parent perspective.  When Dorothy said she wanted to have her next party there, I almost burst into hysterical tears.  I am going to spend between now and March convincing her that she wants a HOME PARTY.  Gah.

Not that anyone asked, but here is my official party review:


1.  The kids had a wonderful time.  That's what 2 hours of unlimited video games will do for you.
2.  The food was amazingly kid-friendly.  We had giant platters of french fries, cheeseburgers, cheese pizzas, and chicken tenders.  Plus unlimited lemonade, Sprite, and water.  Plus a Pokemon cake.  I MEAN COME ON.  It's practically paradise.
3.  The staff was lovely and helpful and so, so, so accommodating.
4.  The place was super clean.
5.  No decorating required!  We just had to bring the cake and a camera!
6.  I did not have to get party favors because all of the kids bought garbage from the prize shop with their tickets.
7.  I only let Cooper invite 6 kids.  (Because a party for 10 kids at D&B is pretty damn expensive) And then one of the kids cancelled and I let Jack bring a friend instead and THANK GOODNESS because 5 kids was PLENTY of little kids to watch.  Which brings me to


1.  The tables for lunch were really far away from the games, which was awkward.
2.  The place started out empty, but by the end of the 2-hour party, it was crowded
3.  Seven is old enough for a drop-off party, but 7 ear-olds are pretty squirrelly.  And most of Cooper's friends are 6.
4.  It was really hard to keep tabs on all of the kids all of the time.  Ben took Cooper and 2 friends.  Jack and his friend watched a kid.  Harry watched a kid.  I kept an eye on Dorothy and a second-grade girl and also did laps, counting all of the kids every 10 minutes or so.  CONSTANT VIGILANCE.


I mean, besides the fact that we will probably all get the stomach flu any second from touching all the machines and also eating, the worst part about the whole party was that the whole place is a kidnapper's dream.  It would be SO EASY for a kid to go missing from the sprawling, dim arcade.  My heart was in my throat basically the whole party.  It took HOURS for me to unclench.


The kids LOVED this party.  But!  There is a reason that most parents avoid this place like the plague.  I think Harry's friends would love it.  I think if Jack wanted to take a couple of friends there for games and dinner before a sleepover, it would be awesome.  I think 7 is TOO LITTLE for a Dave and Buster's party-- because it nearly killed the 7 year-old's parents.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Tuesdays with Harry

Harry and I have resumed our Tuesday after school adventures.  Sadly, we are going to have to make them every-other week as the semester ramps up because I have a committee meeting on Tuesdays twice a month that is going to slice right into my work time.  Also my office hours.  My life is one big ball of scheduling snafus.

But!  This first Tuesday was tricky because I challenged myself to spend zero dollars last week.  It is, sadly, a challenge I lost because I spent $1.29 on an iTunes song for my Bucky movie (an iTunes song, by the damn way, that I ALREADY OWNED), $30 to fill up the van (a deal indeed since I used my grocery store gas station points for $.80 off per gallon), $21 on dinner for Dorothy, and Cooper, and me (at a local pancake place one night when I just could not even), and $5 to have coffee with a friend on Friday. Still!  $58 for the whole week is a YUGE improvement over the last few weeks, when I have spent at least $50 EVERY DAMN DAY.  (And, might I add, had absolutely NOTHING to show for it-- it's not like I am buying things--mostly just bullshit for the house that gets used up in seconds).

So, anyway, I had a shoestring budget for our adventure.  We ended up getting a milkshake at the union (him-- I ate about half of the fresh-baked oatmeal cookies I brought along for snacking purposes) and going to the free art museum on campus (So, I guess I spent $62 if you add in the milkshake, but half of that was GAS, which I feel like should not even count.  The rest was food or food related things NO WONDER I AM NOT LOSING WEIGHT).

I just want to ask myself HOW I have been at this university for 15 years and have never before checked out this art museum.  It's gorgeous and has a regular collection that really impressed us (we barely skimmed the surface and need to go back) and gets awesome traveling exhibits.  Right now, there's a beautiful Renaissance Italy exhibition that we both loved, and we saw a smaller exhibition of resistance prints that is soon-to-be replaced.   We can't wait to go back, is what I am saying.

I said these looked like something from Homegoods, and Harry was all, "Without the genitalia."

 Platform shoes!
 Aristotle and Phyllis:
 There were even Renaissance board games like this Most Royall and Pleasant Game of Y Goose
 And then!  We started wandering through the galleries and we found this!  After driving all the way to the National Gallery so Jack could see his favorite artist in real life!  There has been a big green Marilyn right by our house all along!
Also we saw a for-real Botticelli Madonna (a really big one) and other masters whose names escape me because despite my art history gen ed class in undergrad, I know nothing about art. Or,  I guess I should say, I know enough to know I know nothing.  Which is why I should go to museums with Harry, who just speaks his mind about what he sees and doesn't judge himself.  He saw a panel from a 15th century wedding chest and was all "Oh look a dog fight.  No, wait.  I guess that's actually a pig dog."  BRILLIANT.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

What We're Eating This Week 38/52


Last week, we lived all week on chili and soup.

This week, I think there are going to have to be a couple six nights of eating out.

I will make this recipe from my old lady Family Circle on Saturday.  I think it would be delicious with honey crisp apples and brownies.
Sunday I am going to make my grandpa's spaghetti sauce and meatballs , with extra meatballs for sandwiches (on french bread with provolone), and I will buy Italian sausage and peppers for a mid-week refresh.  Sunday we will have mixed green salads with balsamic and garlic bread.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Crushing the patriarchy, or thinking about it, at least

 I saw an excellent talk about thinking as resistance in Trump's America that made me-- you guessed it-- THINK. 

In Scott Walker's Wisconsin, we have seen the public climate turn away from thinking and toward a for-us or against-us mentality that requires instant identification and not much else.

In some ways, the critics are right.  Thinking is a luxury when you're focusing more immediately on the pressing issues of survival.  And can there be a life of the mind without considering the body?  Only for the very privileged.

I want to keep thinking about how I can interrogate categories that seem unchangeable and break down barriers of access for me and also for those in my community.  But what does this look like in my everyday life as a mom?  What does it mean to practice the kind of thinking-as-resistance that critical theorists talked about all those years ago as a mom in the burbs?  As a teacher?

Also?  How cute is Cooper in this Pokemon onesie?
 He LOVES reading chapter books.
 I am still not quite sick of packing lunches!
 This picture is only notable because of the size of that foot!  And ho it has an arch!  An instep!  There are ankle bones!
 Can you see the cat-sized mosquitoes biting us?  Because I am sure they were.