ABC’s

It’s been said again and again that Stay-at-Home-Moms wear a lot of hats. We handle a lot and we do it because we love our children and our husbands, and because we like to sit and eat bon-bons while we watch our stories.

Well it’s true; there are some days that I just don’t do that much. I will spend my day reading a book in the corner of the sofa or writing for hours on end because I recognize that I need to spend sometime doing what I want. Let’s be honest, if you don’t get a chance to delve into what you enjoy once in a while you will become a raging madwoman. So, for the sake of my sanity I have to take breaks. I regret it only a little bit afterwards when I see the mess that has been left in their wake but whatever. Messes can be cleaned up, sanity can’t.  

What do the children do during these times of mommy solitude? 
They happily and willingly do the following: 

- Annihilate the house
Bleed randomly
Color on the walls
Dump pretzels on the floor
Eat everything in the craft drawer
Fight club
Get bruises in inexplicable places
Hide wallets, keys, purses, etc.
Instigate
Jump off furniture (see Get bruises in inexplicable places)
Karate chop bananas on the floor
Lick the yoga mat
Miss the toilet
Nuke pennies in the microwave
Open holiday presents
Paint Anarchy A’s on the furniture (true story)
Quietly cut one another’s hair
Recite every bad word that’s ever been let slip in their presence – ever
Streak
Tuck food into unreachable crevices of the sofa
Undress nine times per day
Very innocently blame their actions on the youngest sibling
Wash themselves with toothpaste
X out all the days on the calendar – for the entire year
Yank the cat’s tail
Zebra stripe themselves with eyeliner (read: Sharpie).

In the long run take a day for yourself. Turn on Daniel Tiger, set out a bowl of Cheerios and a cup of milk and spend some time on you. You’re worth it. And so are they.

Becki

Dear Daughter,

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What a year it has been for you! You have become a big sister for the second time, started using your whole hand to show people how old you are, began going to school, played your first team sport, got your first fish, painted your own bedroom, cut your own hair and began picking your own outfits. Daughter, you have grown so much that you’re in a big girl booster seat, out grown the little kid shoe sizes, taught your sister how to climb the swing-set, helped to mow the backyard, decorated the Christmas tree, held your sister’s hand on her first trick-or-treating excursion, changed your brother’s diaper, worked as my sous chef many times over and you’ve proven time and time again to be a hard worker that loves to please. 

 

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Dear daughter your brave decisions have always impressed me; there isn’t an ounce of fear in you (except for the creatures in your closet). At the age of two you were climbing ten foot ladders and going down swirly slides into six foot deep water – head first, on your stomach, with your eyes closed, hands in the air and screams of joy! You went straight into soccer and gave it your best without knowing your coaches and teammates and what a kick you have, if we could get you to remember which goal is yours! You proudly held your first lost tooth in your hand and started wiggling the others in your mouth hoping for more. You changed church classes three times in one year and encouraged your sister in her transitions as well. You made the brave decision to ask Jesus for forgiveness and to welcome Him into your heart so that you can be a beacon on His love for everyone big and small. When you walked into your Pre-K and Kindergarten classes with your head held high, your shoulders back and brave face on I was so proud I cried (Shh, don’t tell anyone). Daughter, you impress me every day with your ability to make decisions and the reasoning that you put behind them, but I am even more impressed by your bravery. You face new things every day and you do your best and that’s all I can ask for and more. 

ImageDaughter, recently we’ve hit some speed bumps. You’ve changed a bit and your father and I are trying to figure out why. You’ve become angry and loud. You don’t express your feelings like you used to and you have resorted to defiance and physical aggression. I know you’re frustrated because there’s something you don’t understand – I can see it in your big hazel eyes. I don’t understand either, but I am fighting for you. This is a new and daunting territory for all of us but we are all doing our best. I will help you when you need help and find you people we trust that can offer extra help when your father and I are out of solutions. I will devote our time, energy and prayers to being your advocate because you deserve them and so much more. Bear, we will not give up, this journey may have only begun, and although we are already tired, we believe firmly in a God that heals, protects, sustains and encourages. We have faith that the battles we face bring us closer to God, His body of believers and each other. Our Father wants our growth and happiness vastly more than we can imagine and this is where I will rest my faith.  

Bear, I know that sometimes other people don’t make sense to you and that’s part of life; a large majority of time people don’t make sense to me either. They will say things that we disagree with, do things we would never do and make decisions that we don’t understand. Let me reassure you, brave girl, they are not the person that we look to for advice and example. We are a flawed people and the only person worth looking to for example is the only person who is flawless. Believing this alone will bring you great opposition in life, but what is life without an opportunity to shine a light of hope and faith? 

ImageIf there is one thing that I want you to understand from all of this, Brinley, is that you are not broken. I don’t care what the counselors, psychologists, teachers, principals and doctors say. You are made in the holy image of Christ! He knew you before you were created and He knew you would be strong enough to face these challenges and still come out on top. Bear, you are a daughter of the Lord of Lords! What great news that is! He knows the hairs on your head. He knows your heartache and your hurt. He knows your strengths and desires and He will not fail you! You are not the sum of your past transgressions. He loves you deeper than your anger and frustration. He holds you so tightly that not even your worst outburst of frustration can take you from Him. Your father and I are leaning on Him and praying over you more than you know. One day this season will make sense. Perhaps you will become an advocate for all the different children out there and help the grown-ups that don’t understand. Maybe you’ll become a school psychologist or a children’s counselor to help alleviate some of the frustrations that you, yourself, faced at their age. Or maybe you will became a mother who raises her children to embrace their differences and face their challenges without fear, knowing full well that their Holy Father has plans for them. 

Daughter, you are wonderful. You have exposed emotions in me that I was unaware that I had. You teach me daily, what it is like to go into the lion’s den and do your best to make sense of it. Who knew that when I held you in my arms for the first time, five (and a half) years ago that it would be you teaching me about the way that God loves us? I sure didn’t see it coming but with every second that passes I learn a little bit more about the sacrifice He made by sending His son to cover my sins, your dad’s sins, your sins and those of the rest of us who are so much less than deserving. 

ImageYou will always have my heart, even in times of frustration and misunderstanding; it’s still longing for you to be at peace and for your happiness. You are different, Brinley, and you always have been. Do not ever let anyone tell you that being different is bad. Dear, as I see it, being different is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Allow yourself to feel differently than others, to think differently and to behave differently, because (to quote Dr. Seuss) those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter. 

I am fighting for you, Brinley. I am praying for you, Brinley. I will never give up on you, Brinley.

I love you,

Mommy

Monkies and Trains

Please. Someone tell me that I am not the only one that spends too much time wondering about the intelligence levels of Sir Topem Hat and The Man in the Yellow Hat. A grown man that sends a monkey to purchase 10 donuts deserves the bill for the 10,000 that come back. And the rail master that continues to employ trains with faces and no common sense is getting his due punishment through sky high insurance premiums. Right?

I’m not the only one that sees these things.

Tell me I’m not.

BN

Watergate

I have a terrible time remembering how old I am. I was born in ’84 so that would put me at 29 this year but I’m not there yet so I am still 28. Whenever someone asks about my age my mind goes completely blank and my gut reaction is still to say 26. Right. I am sure I could pass for 26 just about as well as I could pass for a PTO mom or a neurosurgeon.

I bring up age for the simple reason that there are days when I feel eons older than I really am. Take Sunday for example, it was comprised of Church, grocery shopping, reading a dreadfully boring book, laundry sorting and a watching a Watergate documentary. Yup. Watergate. So cool.  As if that wasn’t enough to seal the deal on the fact that I am old I was due to attend a gig my brother’s band (The Groove Offensive) had at a restaurant in the heart of Hipsterville, Oklahoma. You would think this would redeem me a bit but you would be wrong. At 9:00 on Sunday night I put my bra back on, yawned, grumbled about missing the last bit of the Watergate documentary, and headed out to the concert… in my mini-van that smells like bad apples and the dried up tears of my hopes and dreams.

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At the concert my fears that I was aging were immediately confirmed. First thoughts: When did these people shower last? Oh fantastic, everyone is smoking. Where are his shoes? If I wanted to see your butt crack I would have asked. Am I up to date on my tetnis shot? Am I to old to be here? I bet her mom doesn’t know about that tattoo.

Then there were the kids (and yes I still think of them as 10 year-olds) that my brother grew up with, all there with beers in their hands and tattoos and hair longer than mine. And you know what? They came over to my mom and I and called us “Ladies”. Ladies. Really. Why don’t you just call me “ma’am” and ask about my great-grandchildren. I’m only four years older than you, punk. To think I left my Watergate documentary to for this.

At least I wasn’t the one with fluorescent ear plugs and new balance tennis shoes. I was just sitting next to her. The chances of me being the only one there in jeans with baby spit up on them were pretty good though. Oh well. You live and you learn and then you give up and start watching Watergate documentaries.

BN

Butter for boogers

Hey. Hi. Sup? Oh, nothing much. Just chillin’. Cool. Yeah.

Update Alert:

I am now a stay at home mom to three (that’s correct three children). Not much has changed except everything. The basics are all the same though.  I am still awesome (and very humble.) Sarcasm is still as sharp as ever. I am still being outwitted by Brinley. I still pray for the sanity and ability to make it through every single day and I am still baking.

Okay well all of that is true except for that last one. I don’t bake anymore. I know. Crying shame. I have a good reason, I swear. I have gone hippy on you all. Yup. We’ve gone and done it. We are clean eaters now. What does that mean? All that I know really is that I am no longer making giant batches of buttery soft pretzels, gooey cinnamon rolls, decadent cupcakes or mind blowing cookies. I know. Take a moment and grieve with me. Why, Becki?  Why would you abandon butter after all it has done for you? Mainly cause it feels a hell of a lot better to not eat like that. Secondly, because my eldest daughter and my husband have ADD and it is in their best interest to eat clean. We avoid added sugars, bleached flour, all food coloring, preservatives and any ingredients that we cannot pronounce. We’ve said adios to pork and beef and now only eat chicken, turkey and the ocassional fish. (Do you realize that means no butter or bacon? Just take a second and think about that for me. If you aren’t crying or deeply appalled then I don’t think you have fully grasped the depth of this change.)

Essentially life is busier than ever but I never seem to get anything done.  So naturally this is the perfect time to start blogging again. Right? That’s the sane thing to do.

So for now there will be less butter and more boogers. Less carbohydrates and more cynicism. Less powdered sugar for more patenting stuff. Essentially,  way less delicious but drastically more relatable. Hopefully.

BN

Brinley’s Agenda

7:30 AM – Break and hide mom’s glasses. She’ll really get a laugh out of finding them under the bed after blindly searching for over an hour. I am awesome.

7:45 AM – Pour mouthwash into the dog’s kennel. Their dental hygiene is severely lacking.

7:50 AM – Unpack all of my dresser drawers. Mom needs to see all of my clothing options for the day. Educated decisions are the only option to dressing.

8:00 AM – Put mom’s earbuds in the dog water. These things need a good washing.

8:10 AM – Unload the drier for mom. Poor girl seems a bit frantic this morning.

8:15 AM – Put all the knick nacks within reach in the dishwasher. Who knows when the last time these picture frames and zip ties were steam cleaned.

Hey You…

Remember me? It’s been a while. Life happened and I forgot about you. I know it’s sad and mean and I apologize.

Guess what? I had a baby.

Guess what else? She’s beautiful.

Wanna know something else? I missed you.

In other sad news, my oven is now ghetto-fied. It has to be lit via husband laying on belly with match and singed forearm hairs. It’s not a pretty sight.

In not so sad news, my book is finally less than 100 pages of edits away from being ready to send out to agents and publishers. What, what. The impossible is possible after all.

WordPress changed a lot while I was gone. It’s now mean and charges you to customize. Get used to the boring white and black people cause it’s cheap.

Also, I’ve become a severe cheapskate. Thanks to couponing I cringe at the thought of purchasing anything full price anymore. $6 for a pork tenderloin? I say “No thank you, Sir! I have a coupon.” Voila! It’s $3.

That’s about all to mention at the moment. I’ll see you again soon my friend. Hopefully.

Becki

 

 

Dear 057-HHG

Dear 057-HHG,

When you drove with your right blinker on, in rush hour traffic, for over three miles I thought you were a little old lady. Therefore I gave you the benefit of the doubt.

Dear 057-HHG,

When you realized that you suddenly and desperately needed to be in my place in my lane (despite your right blinker) I did not honk my horn or make grand hand gestures because, well, I was being polite to the little old lady that didn’t know how to drive.

(Quick mom, take pride here.)

Dear 057-HHG,

When you decided it was time to play the unpredictable speed game, by driving with your brake (and your right blinker continuing to lie about your intentions) I bit my tongue, turned K-Love up and said a little prayer for the safety of everyone around us.

Dear 057-HHG,

When you decided staying in the lines of your lane was as important as appearing sane is to Charlie Sheen I decided it was time to go around you, quickly, for the safety of my toddler and my unborn daughter. Passing you was no walk in the park, considering your blinker said you wanted right but you appeared to have an obsession with taking up all three lanes.

Dear 057-HHG,

Are you winning?

Dear 057-HHG,

The final straw was pulled when I was finally able to see you side-by-freakishly-close-side. Why would you lie about being a sweet little old lady that can’t see over the steering wheel and is too hard of hearing to notice her blinker? Why would you do that?

What’s more, you mind-numbingly over-stimulated teen driver, there are a few rules that apply to driving, especially when my daughters and I are in a car less than two feet away from you.

  1. Poodles do not belong in your lap while driving.
  2. It’s not necessary to hold your to-go box while driving.
  3. Your knee is not a substitute for one or both hands (watch out now) on the steering-wheel.
  4. Eating with the hand that is not holding the to-go box is not the correct thing to use the free hand for.
  5. Neither is texting. How you’re managing to text and hold a french fry at the same time is beyond me.
  6. If the dog is going to try to eat your french fry, while you’re steering the 2 ton piece of metal commonly known as a vehicle with your knee, texting your BFF about the last thing Bobby said to you in Chemistry II and trying to balance your to-go box, maybe you should consider giving up one of the distractions… like DRIVING.

These rules of driving apply to everyone. Is that french fry, text message, to-go box or bloody poodle worth risking the life of a three-year old, a seventy year old or anyone else around you for that matter? It’s obvious you have no worry about whether or not you make it to your final destination (aka, like totally the mall) but for those of us that would like to see where life takes us for a few more years we would appreciate it if you ate on your own time, put the dog in the back and for the love of all that is good in this life will you please not text while driving. That would be dandy.

Alright, 057-HHG, I’m really glad we had this talk. I hope you made it to the mall on time and got some amazing furry boots and some extra sparkly strawberry lotion. Buh-bye now.

Becki

I Spy…domestication.

I feel like a school marm.
Or maybe even a grown-up mom.
Either way…it’s strange.
What’s even more strange is that I found myself having a grand old-time.

I made my daughter an “I Spy” album made up of her toys, clothes and everyday items. I saw the idea on I Can Teach My Child and loved it. With my day off close at hand I set to being domestic, boy, it’s a strange change of pace.

The first one I made was animals. For some reason I thought we had more animal toys but I guess not. I’m an awesome parent. To supplement the lack of toy I printed off a couple of photos and tossed them in with the ones we had.
(I Spy…Lady Bug, Parrot, Turtle, Barn, Koala, Panda, Kitten, Bunny, Goose, Guinea Pig, Grizzly Bear, Ostrich, Lizard, Creepy Octopus, Spotted Seal, Puppy, Cow, Goldfish, Elephant, Starfish, Pigs, Sheep and a Horse.)

Next I did food, because…well that’s what I do. I take photos of food. I like food.
(I Spy…2 Pears, Cereal, Spoon, Bowl, Mustard, Ketchup, Milk, Yogurt, Peanut Butter, Banana, Knife, Pineapple, Orange, 2 Eggs, Rotini, Spaghetti, Blueberries, Pretzel, 4 Chicken Nuggets, Walnuts, Corn, 3 Strawberries, 2 Potatoes, Fork, Bread, Cheese and a Plate.)

Next up, clothes and accessories.
(Coat, Jessie the Cowgirl Pants, Wipes, 1 Sandal, Tiara, Thomas the Train Toothpaste, Bunny ears, Body Wash, Pink Snow Boot, Red Jessie the Cowgirl Hat, Black Ear Muffs, Tooth Brush, Sunglasses, Diaper, Owl Pajamas, Tinkerbell Purse, Shorts, Necklace, Lotion, Shirt, Jeans and a Green Shoe.)

Then came Disney characters.  This wasn’t hard to find considering all of these things (and more) were already stuffed in her Buzz Lightyear tent under her Buzz Lightyear sleeping bag right next to her Toy Story 3 sippy cup and her stuffed Nemo that is roughly the size of our dog. Somewhere, there is a Disney-Pixar employee that has my daughter to thank for their salary.
(I Spy…Pluto, 101 Dalmatians, Woody, Lightning McQueen, Nemo, Beauty & the Beast, Mike Wazowski, Lightning McQueen Sippy Cup, Jessie the Cowgirl, Snow White, Bullseye,  Bugs Life, Up (Kevin as it’s known in our house), Ratatouille, Tinkerbell Purse, Lion King and Toy Story 2. I’ll play this using Characters: I spy… Buzz Lightyear. I spy… Frances the Lady Bug. I spy…Simba. Otherwise she would be done in absolutely 5 seconds flat.)

Things that Go!
(I Spy…Fire Truck, Orange Train, Horse, James the Tank Engine, Lightning McQueen, Monster Truck, the word Car, School Bus, Keys, Turtle on Wheels, Sail Boat, Train Car, Helicopter, the word Vroom, Thomas the Tank Engine and Train Tracks.)

Letters and Numbers.
(I Spy… Every letter in the alphabet and numbers 0-9. If you want to throw colors in there too more power to you.)

I happened to have some 4×6″ photo paper, color ink and brightly colored 5×7″ stock cards lying around so I printed the photos and trotted myself (and the rest of the family) right on over to Mardel and laminated them for a grand total of $0.27! Finished them off with a hole punch in the corner and bound them together with an old bracelet she’s never used.

And voila! I did something a real-life mother might do! I feel all tingly inside. Best part? She actually played with it for about 4 minutes before throwing it across the table and playing with her plethora of Disney-Pixar toys. Shocker. This will be great for car-rides and long waits in places. I hope to keep making more so I’ll post the photos as I go for a thicker album!

So that’s the story of how this little purple haired, pierced, chuck taylor and ray-ban wearing mom became just slightly more domesticated and had a little fun.

I spy…life as I know it disappearing.

Becki

I know you’re a fruit tart but what am I….

So here’s the deal.

I’ve been trapped in doors thanks to blizzards for the past two weeks.
I’ve eaten a bunch of terrible things the past two weeks.
It’s now 70 degrees and sunny outside and I want something fresh and spring-like.
Also it’s my brother-in-law’s birthday and he requested a fruit tart.
Win. Win.

Since the farmer’s market isn’t carrying the items I want just yet I took a trip to Aldi. Have you ever been there? No? It’s the capital of all things generic but holy heck, they have the freshest fruits and vegetables at knock-down drag-out prices. I am addicted.

I purchased 2 packages of strawberries, a fresh pineapple the size of my daughter’s torso, kiwi, blueberries and blackberries and it took everything in me not to eat them fist over fist in the car on the way home. Thank the Lord Almighty that spring is around the corner. I need fresh fruits. Now.

Here’s my selection of fruits for the tart. The best part of a tart is that you can cover it in whatever fruit you prefer. I would have loved some fresh raspberries but they weren’t available. I’ll survive.

I also wanted to use two Clementine oranges to use in the glaze but my daughter stole one and in the end I opted not to use a glaze. Life’s rough sometimes. We’ll power on.

Before we dig into the delicousness of the fruit we must first labor away at the world’s tastiest and easiest crust. Flour, powdered sugar, salt, and toasted chopped almonds. Mix. Then pulse in 2 sticks of cold butter (cubed) and as much almond extract as you can stand.

Put on low until the dough comes together to resemble this. You’ll know it’s right because you’ll take the lid off and smell heaven. Sweet, buttery, almondy heaven.

Wrap the dough and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Aren’t those almond flecks perdy? I think they’re perdy.

Grab a tart pan with a removable bottom and butter the heck out of it. We need butter in all ridges on the edges and on the bottom.
Butter. Not cooking spray or margarine. Butter.
Okay. Thanks.

Press the chilled dough into the pan as evenly as possible so you don’t have well-done edges and a mushy center. No one likes a mushy center. Taylor Lautner did not become famous for a mushy center. Mushy centers are bad. Trust me.
Throw the crust in the oven for 30ish minutes. Aren’t you glad my directions are very precise? No one likes flimsy directions or mushy centers.

Whilst the tart crust firms up its mushy center prep your fruits. There are all kinds of fancy ways to decorate a tart. Since I can free-form as well as my three-year old I popped online searched Friut Tart images and copied a design that I liked. I suggest you do the same unless you want to be original and unique and all that weird stuff.


Here’s an interesting fact: If you use fresh blackberries in a cobbler there will be seeds in them and senior citizens will complain. If you use fake blackberries there will be no seeds and senior citizens will complain about the authenticity. Just a little something I’ve learned from working with seniors.

Ever made a blueberry buckle? I have a ton of blueberries left over and feel it might be time for a blueberry buckle recipe again. It’s like a blueberry muffin in the texture of brownies.

Slice this a little on the thick side if you use pineapple in your tart. You’ll want it sturdy like Taylor Lautner’s mid-section.


If that doesn’t make your mouth water you may need to check your pulse. Again, thicker slices. I wound up using about 5 kiwis and eating 1.5.


Let the baked crust cool completely. If you have any concerns put it in the freezer for a little while to make sure. Do not try to remove this dough from the pan while it is hot or the whole thing will crumble to pieces and then you’ll have to eat it off the cabinet piece by piece.


As an extra bit of stability I always leave the bottom of the tart pan attached to the crust even through serving. It’s your preference but as you can see here you can’t even tell there’s a bottom on there still.
P.S. Look how soft and buttery that crust browned. Drool.


I am a cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.
The above statement is true, except I hate pumpkin.
I didn’t have time to make a batch of curd. I apologize.
This curd is delicious tho. As is this curd.


Some tarts have baked in cream cheese filling but I wanted fruity. So there.
Now here’s the fun part- get your garnish on!


I am an arteest! Not really. I copied an arteest’s pattern. But that can be our little secret.. along with the pre-made curd and my apparent obsession with Taylor Lautner’s midsection.
Shhh.


To quote my brother-in-law. “I just got emotional over a tart… Damn pregnancy hormones.”
It’s okay to cry. It’s beautiful and tastes like spring. It’s really okay to cry.
I might…only because I was forced to leave the left-overs with the birthday boy.

Most tarts that are going to sit out at a bakery for a while are going to be glazed. Since I was craving something fresh I opted to leave the glaze off. If you are interested in glazing your tart  melt a half cup of apricot preserves in a cup and mix with a little bit of water and brush it on. I say forget the glaze. It’s really sweet enough without it and the fruit can be the star of the show all by themselves.

Fruit Tart:
Prep Time: 30 minutes endless minutes cutting fruit and 1 hour chilling dough.
Bake Time: 350 for 35 minutes
Serves: 6-8 adults

Dough
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup almonds, chopped and toasted
2 sticks butter, unsalted, chilled and cubed
1/2 tspn salt
1 1/2 tspns almond extract

Combine all dry ingredients in food processor. Add diced butter and extract and pulse on low until smooth. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Butter a tart pan, paying attention to the ridges. Press chilled dough evenly into the pan and up the sides. Bake at  350 for 30-35 minutes or until browned evenly. Cool completely for at least 1 hour.

Lift tart from pan and spread a layer of your filling of choice. I highly recommend the Dickinson brand or Joy the Baker’s curd.

Arrange your choices of fruits in desired pattern. Chill in fridge or serve!

Go forth, make a fruit tart, live long and prosper. You’ll be glad you did.
Becki