Thursday, November 29, 2012

Things I Never Thought I'd Say

For the past few months I've been slowly compiling a list of the ridiculous crap that comes out of my mouth due to my position as Mother. This list does not include the intentionally ridiculous stuff that I say. This is all 100%, Grade-A, first reaction phrasing. See if you can guess to whom each item was spoken.

Yeah, my kids are in a teepee. What?
"Could you please stop eating Mommy's breastpump?"

"We do not hit Mommy with our flashlight!"

"You HAVE to sit still! I'm trying to pick dog hair off your testicles!"

"Well, no, go ahead and wash the poop off your hand first."

"Get your spell book off the table, please."

"No, please don't put your pizza on my leg." 

"Honey, why do you make me have to get up and...parent you?"

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend, breastpumps, testicles, poop and all. ;)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Favorite Things

As anyone who regularly reads this drivel knows, our family has been focusing on simplifying and living with less this past year. That said, we thoroughly enjoy our material possessions, and have been thrilled with how much more joy we get from them now that we don't have so many other things cluttering up our home.

Over the next month, I'm going to put up posts with lists of each of our favorite things (mine, Husband's, Bear's, and Bug's). If I had a real blog or more than one reader or was Oprah, I'd be giving this shit away or something. But since this crap-fest is low-key, you'll just have to settle for reading about it.

So here are some of my favorite things, in no particular order:

My Kindle

I've already touted the joys of the e-reader, but a "favorite things" post wouldn't be complete without mentioning it. I just love being able to toss it (um, gently) in my bag and head out to the doctor's office or Bear's extracurriculars or wherever and have as many books as I could want right at my fingertips.

My laptop

*sigh* A Christmas gift from my best friend last year, my laptop has changed my life. I can write or play stupid Facebook games anywhere in my house. I can catch up on my favorite blogs while nursing Bug to sleep. I can keep all of my stuff filed the way I like it without Husband's and Bear's stuff cramping my style or Bear's Dorito-fingers dusting up my keyboard. If one of my keys is sticking it's because of MY Dorito dust, damn it!

My grey sweater

I am ROCKING that sweater. Yeah...
I got it for $4.99 at the Gap Outlet and I wear it almost every day. It's warm, cozy, and comfortable. It's flattering, but roomy enough to wrap around Bear in a hug when she gets cold in the frozen foods aisle or to provide some privacy (for my comfort, not that of strangers) when I'm nursing in public. Best five bucks I ever spent.

Thin & Crispy Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips

I LOVE salt & vinegar chips, and there are very few brands that I don't like. These are really tasty AND they're less than a dollar a bag. As far as flavor, these are middle of the road, which is good enough for me, considering I can kill a bag in a day. I try not to, of course, but you know...sometimes a girl needs a bag of chips.

OPI nail polish in "Bubblebath"

I'm not high-maintenance, less out of choice than out of necessity. I'd call myself mid-maintenance at this stage of my life. But I am very particular about my hands and nails. I like them well-kept and neutral and when I'm "between" manicures, I get very antsy and twitchy.

I've been using Bubblebath on them for probably five years and I've never gotten sick of it. And since I do my own nails rather than drop $30 on a manicure every week, I need something forgiving. It's the perfect neutral pink.

My Crock Pot

Given to me brand new by my best friend (noticing a theme here?) because she'd gotten two for her wedding, I have used this thing regularly for almost ten years. I use it to make the chili and soups I love, and also for those days when Bear has an evening activity and we'll be coming home starving. I just start something early in the day and the knowledge that a hot meal is waiting for us keeps us from stopping for fast food. If you do not have a slow-cooker, I highly recommend it. And if you care less about being "green" than you do about convenience, you can even use liners in it to cut down on the cleaning.

Words With Friends

I will dominate you. And I will do so by attempting every conceivable letter combination that gets me to a triple word tile until I discover that 'ptzomls' is a word, especially if that 'z' lands on a triple letter square. My vocabulary is not so much cultivated as it is mostly made up. I play ugly.

Coconut oil

Pinterest introduced me to the joy of coconut oil. It's moisturizing, you can cook with it (though maybe use separate jars for body and cooking, 'cause eeeeewwww), you can make other beauty products (including diaper rash cream), and it's awesome. Husband even uses it in his feet and he loves it, too. You can find a terrific (but by no means comprehensive) list of possible uses for it HERE and you can get a jar on Vitacost for a great price.

This is of course NOT a comprehensive list. At this point in my life, these are some of the things that make me happy for various reasons. What are some of your favorite things?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On Contentedness

So it's possible that at times I may be a tiny bit...negative. Pessimistic. Grouchy. Malcontent. Humbuggish. And my favorite: curmudgeonly. It's true. It takes very little to send me into an emo death-spiral of "life's not fair!" whining and moaning. I have been known to cry because I discovered before 9 a.m. that not only were we out of coffee, but that someone had not replaced the toilet paper roll! WTF, people!? Are you trying to DESTROY ME!?

I get to spend my life with these people. Hard to be a miser.
Look, I own it. It's not a great quality. I'm working hard on it, but I'll never completely be a chipper, content person. It's not how I'm built. But it all goes back to the idea of Progress, Not Perfection.

Oddly, despite my somewhat grumpy nature, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Mostly because I LOVE all those once-a-year foods and getting together with family. But also because it's a swift reminder to me to CHEER THE EFF UP and stop whining about my wonderful, beautiful life. I think we all need that now and then.

I'm not going to do a Ten Things I'm Thankful For post. Instead, give this Martina McBride song a listen. My favorite line:

"...I've come to know
That the world won't change
Just 'cause I complain...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Favorite Homeschool Weapons

Cookie Cutters

I got this big ass box of plastic cookie cutters from Michael's for...I don't remember. Something not too bad, considering how much use we get out of them. They're great for cookies (duh), salt dough shapes, tracing, and occupying certain toddlers.

The Public Library

Our awesome library has saved us so much money. We get almost all of our books for just about everything there, plus we use the online videos and take advantage of the many classes and activities they offer (for free!). Some days we plan our library trip during nap time and Bug will sleep in his stroller while Bear and I sit and read in the peace and quiet.

Bear/Katniss at the library's Halloween party

Learnin' some horticulture at KCPL's Homeschoolers' Club

Pressin' the horticulture

Family Education

I love this website. They have tons of free printables, activites, and articles. I reference it a lot.

Time 4 Learning

Math was the one subject area I was somewhat concerned about teaching. Not because I don't understand elementary-level math, but because math was always my academic Achilles' Heel and it always took me a bit longer than (seemingly) everyone else to grasp the concepts.  We tried Life of Fred at first, but Bear really didn't like it at all. So I signed her up for T4L. We use the math every day that we do school, but for my $20 per month we have access to ALL of the subjects, and all of the curriculum for one grade below and above her. That makes it easy to tailor our lessons for her specific needs (which is sort of the point of homeschool). I also plan to use some of the social studies and possibly even science lessons this year. She enjoys the "Playground" section, as well as Time 4 Art. For one child it's very affordable and it works out great for us.

Crayola Washable paints

Adding some color to our fizzy paint
We do a lot of art projects because art is one of Bear's favorite things. She prefers science projects that double as arts and crafts, as well as doing something creative while we listen to an audiobook. Washable paints make it all a lot less harrowing. She has some acrylic paints and she's getting a very nice set for Christmas (shhh!), but for every day stuff, we stick with the washables. They come right out of our brushes, wipe up easily, and can be mixed with other mediums for various projects. The downside is that they also wash off of projects easily, and they tend to remove each other, so painting a color over another presents a problem. Still, they really work great for us for most things.


If you're not familiar with Playaways, check your library. They're wonderful. They're basically audiobooks, but instead of a CD (or ten), it's a single, battery-operated unit. Bear has listened to most of the Goosebumps Horrorland books on Playaway, and she loves to take them up in our front tree or listen while she works on a cross stitch project. Bonus? They require headphones, which means they're great for boring car trips or those times when you just need some peace and quiet.

They also make Playaway videos. We've gotten several of those from the library. They don't require headphones, but that's okay because they're really interesting. Bear watched/listened to the Greek Mythology Playways about ten times each before we had to return them.

These are some of the things that get us through each week. Also, wine. Lots of wine. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pinterest in Real Life: Buckeye Brownies

I live in Northern Kentucky, which is the best place in the world to live anywhere in the history of places. Here we get to be both Southerners and Midwesterners, Kentuckians and Ohioans (due to our proximity to Cincinnati). We have traditions and customs that come from both sides of the river and it makes our little notch on the Ohio River a really unique, special place to call home.

One of the things we greedily take from our neighbors to the north are Buckeye candies. If you've never had a Buckeye, then you are wrong and should hate yourself. You should also remedy this problem immediately. Unless you have a nut allergy, in which case, please do not take the above advice and end up in anaphylactic shock and sue me because I nearly killed you. 'Cause there's peanut butter involved here. You've been warned.

Anyway, I came across a recipe for something called Buckeye Brownies on Pinterest a few weeks ago. Chocolate? Peanut Butter? Brownies? I'm in. I'm ALL in.

The recipe is really simple and I had everything on hand, so I went for it. I just made a pan of boxed-mix brownies, let it cool while we ran errands, and then whipped up my peanut butter and chocolate for the topping.

And I will say this—they are good. The chewiness of the brownie is a nice contrast against the creaminess of the peanut butter and chocolate topping. The problem? The peanut butter comes right off the brownie. I mean, it doesn't stick at ALL.  You have to hold the pieces together to eat it as one dessert, so I've ended up with a bunch of plain brownies and what looks like choco-peanut butter fudge.

What a Buckeye Brownie SHOULD look like...

...and what it actually looks like after it fails at life.

I don't think I'll make this again with the brownies. I think I WILL make the peanut butter and chocolate again and instead of rolling it up, I'll just make a two-layer fudge. That's how I've been eating it, and it's really good. Maybe I'll even do chocolate on the bottom and the top. Buckeye Fudge, I'll call it. Yeah...that's the ticket.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween at Casa Jen

Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays, mostly because I don't like people knocking on my door. I especially hate it when those people want something from me. But because I have children, I have to suck it up and smile as I contribute to the nation's obesity and dental hygiene crises. So I grudgingly dumped our overpriced bags of chocolate-covered, edible feelings into a plastic bowl and flipped on the porch light. It was rainy and cold, so rather than sit in the driveway with an ice-cold beer like I usually do, I hunkered down with my laptop on the couch.

Except that people in my neighborhood either somehow know about my disdain for solicitors (could it be the "No Solicitors" sign on my door?), or they are very, very stupid. My "No Solicitors" sign is very small, so it cannot be read from the sidewalk. But you know what can be seen from the sidewalk? The porch light, the pumpkins on the stoop, and the light pouring out from between the WIDE OPEN living room curtains.

And yet, families passed by my well-lit and clearly occupied house without even glancing up. It was baffling. I watched group after group skip right on by. Finally, when I heard a father tell his kids as they headed up my driveway that, "They're not home!", I opened the door and asked what I was doing wrong. The father looked confused, shocked, even, to see me.


So I went down to the computer and made a huge "WE HAVE CANDY" sign, which I posted in the front window. Traffic picked up.

Anyway, during all this stOOpidness, Husband was walking around with Bear and Bug. We did NOT have a bucket for Bug because I think collecting candy "for the baby" is really stupid and annoying and I refuse to do it. If you are legitimately giving your fourteen month-old Starburst, punch yourself in the face. If you're collecting for yourself in the name of your young toddler, also punch yourself in the face.

Go ahead. I'll wait.

Whatever. The kids looked adorable. Husband brought Bug back to me after just our street and then took Bear through the entire subdivision, hitting every house. We decided that we're going to let Bear pick out a certain amount of candy and then "sell" us the rest in exchange for extra technology time. Then we'll donate (most of) it.

Here are the kiddos in costume.

Katniss and Haymitch