Monday, November 30, 2009


Whew! We had a wonderful four days of family time. Just enough. We all came out still loving each other. ;-)

Wednesday evening Matt, the kids, and I, stopped by my Aunt Joyce's house and visited with her for a little while. My Mom and I wanted to give her and my cousins an arrangement from Edible Arrangements as a thank you for hostessing our get away weekend a few weeks ago. It was nice to talk, while the kids played my Uncle Ted's piano, just as we did when we were kids. When the noise got to be too much we excused ourselves, not before the kids had begged for juice and a snack. Does anything ever change? Wherever you go, your kids are hungry!

Thursday morning I got on a baking roll. I made an apple pie, Ashley's famous pumpkin apple bread, Amanda Rocks, and a hot dip. I already had peanut butter pie chilling in the fridge. We enjoyed a most lovely dinner with our friends Rick & Carrie's family and friends. The food was wonderful, the kids were well behaved, the adults all sat around the large living room sifting through the shopping fliers making their plans for attacking Christmas shopping like the enemy that it is. I was almost done and had knocked out a significant amount earlier in the day online. I was super fantastically thankful to the online retailers that have the same prices online as they do in their stores AND free shipping. I can happily manage my extreme annoyance with crowds and stupid people from the comfort of my own computer.

Friday, Skyler went to work with Matt. Although much fun was promised, Zack wouldn't pass up a few free hours with Mommy. We got up and hit Game Stop (no lines) where Zack spent his report card money and we picked something up for Skyler too. Later we met Matt and Skyler for lunch at his work. Matt took us on a roller coaster ride through the woods that had me screaming, the kids laughing, and you probably wondering what the hell my husband does for a living. Fun was had by all! Friday night Matt and I took Zack on a date (Skyler was at the neighbors) where we saw Planet 51. It was cute, but predictable. There weren't a lot of laugh out loud funnies but it was enjoyable.

Saturday we ran errands, worked on projects, played outside. It was gorgeous. Matt took me on my kind of date, dinner at 4:00. We discussed the fact that I should find myself an 80 year old and be very happy. I like to go out when it's still light out and be home in bed by 8:30. We did some pokie shopping, I don't think we bought anything but a ball of yarn (please see previous reference to being a little old lady) and were home by 8:00. We had some nice kid-free conversation and enjoyed each other's company.

Sunday was more of the outside stuff. In the afternoon, Matt took Skyler golfing while I took Zack to a birthday party. We were all worn out in a good way by the end of the evening.

A wonderful weekend. The End.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

50 Random(ish)Things I'm Thankful For...

  1. Matt and the kids

  2. My Mom

  3. Matt's Mom

  4. Matt's Dad and his wife Debbie

  5. Matt's brother and his family

  6. Matt's sister and her family

  7. Our entire extended families - every one of you

  8. Mike & Amy & Nate

  9. My Oasis Group

  10. Our many many dear friends

  11. That Matt and I both have good jobs

  12. That my kids do well in school and are kind to others

  13. Happy pills

  14. Ambien

  15. The library

  16. Google

  17. My camera

  18. Comments on my blog

  19. Comfortable shoes (I'm looking at you cute pink Birkenstocks)

  20. The internet

  21. Loreal's Excellence Creme #9.5NB

  22. Etsy

  23. Vitamin C Power Brightening Cream

  24. Aveeno lip balm

  25. Game Stop

  26. GPS

  27. Podcasts

  28. Funny Blogs

  29. Health Insurance

  30. House

  31. Cha Cha Weekends

  32. My Mean Girls

  33. Sheldon Cooper

  34. Vitamin D

  35. Coke

  36. Back massages

  37. The Dixie Chicks

  38. Science

  39. Hand Sanitizer

  40. Keith Olbermann

  41. Smurfs

  42. The Discovery Channel

  43. Glysomed hand lotion

  44. Pasta ;-)

  45. Popcorn ;-)

  46. Gaybies

  47. My necklace collection

  48. 4:00

  49. My nap blankie

  50. naps

Make this...

It's entirely possible that I've blogged about this before (I searched the last couple of years of Nov & Dec posts but couldn't find it) but I just have to tell you about this recipe from my friend Ashley (really we're trying to figure out how it's possible that we aren't sisters). It is DELICIOUS and is perfect for gobbling up warm or giving to neighbors or teachers or coworkers during the holidays.

Pumpkin Apple Bread
I double the topping. I pour 1/2 batter into the loaf pan -sprinkle one serving of topping & pour rest of batter & then put second serving of topping on top of that - killer!

For topping:
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
5 Tbs sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbs unsalted butter, softened (I use "salted" just cause I don't have "unsalted" in my house usually)

For bread:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsps baking soda
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 (15-oz) can solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I use 3/4 cup butter instead - wonderful!!!)
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (2 cups)

MAKE THE TOPPING: Blend together flour, sugar, cinnamon. Melt the butter in the microwave and pour into the dry mixutre. Mix with a fork.

MAKE THE BREAD: Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350F. Butter two 9 X 5 inch loaf pans. (I just spray "PAM" into pans.)
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice into a medium bowl. Then add oil(or butter), sugar, and eggs in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin. Add flour mixture, stirring until well combined. Fold in apples (and walnuts if using nuts).

Divide batter between buttered loaf pans. Sprinkle half of topping evenly over each loaf. *Remember, if you double the topping, do batter, topping, batter, topping. So yummy to have that topping the middle, too.

Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of bread comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.

Cool loves in pans on a rack for 45 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.

This bread is meant to be SHARED!!! Make for your neighbors, your coworkers, your family. The only downside to this is it will be requested every year!

If you've known me for more than five minutes you know that I'm an annoying-ass crazy picky eater and I LOVE this recipe.

Go forth and make bread!

Change your title font...

I just recently found a great tutorial for making your blog prettier by using a cute font for your blog titles. You can find it here. There's quite a bit of futzing with html code but the instructions are perfect. I made a mistake or two along the way but I re-followed the steps and it worked.

What do you think? Purty?

There are more great tutorials to be found, just click the button below:

Fan of! Free Fonts. Recipes. Scrapbooking. Photography. Blog Design. Tutorials. Giveaway. Everything you're into!

That’s so weird, I just heard about that the other day...

Have you ever learned a new word or obscure fact and then within the span of a day or two you hear about it again? And then again? This happens to me all the time which isn't surprising since I read a lot and am always looking up words in the dictionary. It happens to you too I bet.

It's called Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. My friend Leigh found an article on the website Damn Interesting, The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, that explains how and why our brains sift through information we are exposed to on a daily basis and bump up the similarities to make us more aware of them. I find this to be fascinating:
The reason for this is our brains’ prejudice towards patterns. Our brains are fantastic pattern recognition engines, a characteristic which is highly useful for learning, but it does cause the brain to lend excessive importance to unremarkable events. Considering how many words, names, and ideas a person is exposed to in any given day, it is unsurprising that we sometimes encounter the same information again within a short time. When that occasional intersection occurs, the brain promotes the information because the two instances make up the beginnings of a sequence. What we fail to notice is the hundreds or thousands of pieces of information which aren’t repeated, because they do not conform to an interesting pattern. This tendency to ignore the “uninteresting” data is an example of selective attention.

In point of fact, coincidences themselves are usually just an artifact of perception. We humans tend to underestimate the probability of coinciding events, so our expectations are at odds with reality. And non-coincidental events do not grab our attention with anywhere near the same intensity, because coincidences are patterns, and the brain actually stimulates us for successfully detecting patterns… hence their inflated value. In short, patterns are habit-forming.

But when we hear a word or name which we just learned the previous day, it often feels like more than a mere coincidence. This is because Baader-Meinhof is amplified by the recency effect, a cognitive bias that inflates the importance of recent stimuli or observations. This increases the chances of being more aware of the subject when we encounter it again in the near future.

Now I'm wondering how many of you will hear the term Baader-Meinhof this week, or even just experience the phenomenon. Report back...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Report Card Day...

Both of the kids did great on their report cards. Zack got honor roll and I owe him $25. Skyler doesn't have letter grades yet but she protested her brother getting paid so I had to let her in on the deal. I owe her $35. These little smarties are expensive!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Red Tent...

Thanks to the recommendation of my cousin Erin, I revisited The Red Tent. I think the first time someone suggested it, something about the description must have turned me off but I Erin was so enthusiastic with her "I LOVED this book" that I gave it a try.

I LOVED this book. It is told in the voice of Dinah, a character mentioned in passing in the old testament. It speaks of the strength and weaknesses of the relationships of women in that time period. I highly recommend this book.

Next I'm diving in to, The Possibility of Everything. I heard an interview with the author and I liked her voice. I don't always need a better reason to read a book. I'm not even entirely sure what this one is about ;-)

Go forth and read...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Where Was Amanda...

5 points to anyone who can guess where I was on Saturday...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Part of What's Wrong with the Healthcare System...

My Mother's dear friend was recently diagnosed with cancer in her jaw bone. This diagnosis was a long time coming after a summer of pain and more tests than you can count. This week she's been anxiously awaiting the scheduling of her surgery to remove a very fast growing tumor. After not receiving a call from her surgeon's office for a week, she called to ask what the status of the surgery was. His nurse replied that she does all his surgery scheduling and she knew nothing about it. She went on to say that the doctor was VERY busy so it would be at least a month now. This poor woman is dreading a horrible surgery for a life threatening illness that will likely leave her disfigured and this nurse is telling her how busy the doctor is in a don't-call-us-we'll-call-you way. This is just poor attitude, not the detriment to our society.

The schedule was finally worked out and the nurse informs my mother's friend that she'll have to come in for multiple tests prior to surgery. Friend says, "but I just had all of those tests done as part of the diagnosis. Why do I have to repeat them?" After much discussion the nurse says "FINE. If YOU want to go to the hospital and collect the test results and DELIVER them to US, you can." Seriously? It's easier for her to reorder thousands of dollars of tests than to request copies of the results from another medical facility? On which planet does that make sense? The reasoning was simply convenience for the nurse, NOT diagnostic relevance. What does she care that Friend will have to take more time out of her schedule, sit in waiting rooms, get poked and prodded, and billed up the wazoo?

I'm shocked. We as patients have to be vigilant and push back. Be educated about what we really need. Ask why more often.

Selling grades...

I just recently admitted to buying good grades from my kids but this takes the cake. I was happily reviewing some of my favorite blogs this morning when I clicked on Dr. Grumpy's (he's hysterical in a palm to forehead people are so stupid kind of way) and he's posted this article:
NC school sells test points for $20 to raise money
Nov. 11, 2009 06:45 AM
Associated Press

GOLDSBORO, N.C. - A middle school in North Carolina is selling better test scores to students in a bid to raise money.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Wednesday that a parent advisory council at Rosewood Middle School in Goldsboro came up with the fundraising plan after last year's chocolate sale flopped.

The school will sell 20 test points to students for $20.

Students can add 10 extra points to each of two tests of their choice. The extra points could take a student from a "B" to an "A" on those tests or from a failing grade to a passing grade.

Principal Susie Shepherd says it's not enough of an impact to change a student's overall grades.

Officials at the state Department of Public Instruction say exchanging grades for money teaches children the wrong lessons.

I just cannot get over the stupidity of these school officials. You're selling grades. What are you teaching these kids? We bitch that they don't try hard enough and then you're willing to sell the school's ethics and morals for $20. It's okay to buy a grade when it's for a good cause? NO.

Love Bug...

How much of a love is my son?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wet Feet...

Without fail, whenever I am caught in unexpected rain, I am wearing my comfiest shoes that have a crack in each sole. I am drying my tootsies right now.

I HATE wet socks.


Silent Migraine..

I get silent migraines or migraines with aura without headache. I've had a brain MRI and have a specialist that does my eye exams every year but basically they don't know what causes them, don't have a cure, and can't really explain much. I get them so randomly and far between that there's nothing I can think of that triggers them. I'm always out somewhere which is a huge inconvenience because I'm basically incapacitated (i.e. can't really see) for about an hour. My favorite is when it happens while driving. Thankfully I can tell it's coming and have about 3-5 minutes to get off the road. I've tried to explain what it looks like with pics. It's sort of a combination of the pixelated pics I show below and looking through a car window covered in rain drops.

So here's me looking at Skyler:

Then I realize there's a swirly moving dot in the center of my vision (doesn't matter which eye. I could close either and still see the same thing)

Then the swirly dot gets bigger and starts to move left.

For awhile there I can't see anything in the middle of my field of vision. It's all swirly and some things are just not there at all. Then it sort of fades to the edges.

This all takes about an hour and leaves my eyes feeling tired, like they've had a good cry. I don't generally get a headache which is fanfuckingtastic, but it's annoying nonetheless. Last night I was running errands and realized that I couldn't really focus on a dot in the center of my vision. I blinked a few times, swore, and went to sit in my car. I didn't feel comfortable sitting in the mall not being able to see and my only option is waiting it out. Thankfully I was alone.

Apparently this is somewhat common or at least not entirely uncommon. There are entire websites devoted to migraine aura art where people attempt to show what they see. Apparently although your visions will generally be the same, they vary completely from person to person. Do you get migraines?

Handwritten Blog Post...

From November

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'll take an A for $10...

Do you bribe your kids? No? I don't believe you. I don't.

Zack is the type of kid that needs a goal, some incentive, to be paid. When we got his progress report last month he had one C. I muttered under my breath that he'd get an A if there was money in it and he perked right up. We made a deal. I would pay him $10 for each A, $5 for each B, nothing for Cs, and if he got a D, a. he'd better find a new home that has a live-in tutor and 2. he'd owe me money. This has kept him motivated all month. He's talked about his grades. He's talked about what he wants to spend his money on. He's stayed interested in school. I'm all over this. We'll see how it works.

Skyler on the other hand is not the type of child that bribing works for. She's self motivated and does all her work and then some without being asked. She hasn't even mentioned the deal I have with Zack. I'm going to have to think of some special way to reward her and start working on a plan for if she ever DOES need motivation because money doesn't do it. Pedicures might...

Do you have a system for grades? Get good ones or I'll kill you? Money? Reward? A pat on the back? What works in your house?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Flashback Friday...

I'm totally stealing from my dear friend Ashley and flashing back to years past. I zipped through my blog to November 06, 2007, here's what I wrote:

I wish I could say I was dreaming of sugar plums but no, my dreams are filled with doctors visits and the trials and tribulations of getting prescriptions filled. We've had a hell of a month with sick kids. It's going past a month now as it all started on Columbus Day weekend. We're finally getting Zack better and he's scheduled for his tonsillectomy on Monday, and now Skyler has started coughing and coughing and coughing. Thankfully she isn't running a fever, but she coughed throughout the night. She was crying in her sleep so I put her in bed with me where she proceeded to moan, toss and turn, kick me, cry for me, push me away, and COUGH all without really being awake. Is it any wonder that last night I dreamed of doctors appointments that I was late for and for some reason a crazy experience at the pharmacist that kept me from getting the right prescription for hours and hours? Even my sleep is exhausting. Thank goodness MY Mommy is coming this weekend. I think I need someone to hold ME. Mom - how did you ever get through my childhood as sick as I was? Ambien take me away...

That just shows you that nothing ever changes. Thank goodness my Mommy is coming NEXT weekend. We're having a girls' weekend in DC. I can't wait.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sky Writing...

Between bouts of coughing and vomiting Skyler has kept busy trying to write her name in cursive. She's alternately very proud of herself and upset that it isn't perfect (to which I recite the Mommy Mantra of "practice makes perfect"). This is from tonight:

Does anyone write correctly in cursive anymore? I wrote all our names out for examples for her and it looked like grade school writing (the idea I guess). My point is that I don't write my name with a large oval A or three humps in my lower case m. Do you?

You know what makes me a horrible person? That I got a giggle when a friend who just two weeks ago was Pshawing the seriousness and misery of the H1N1 virus, caught it, bad. Karma is a bitchy bitchy lady my friends.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Dear Company that Employs Me...

Hi! Remember me? I know you haven't seen me in a while but I swear I'm trying to get in there sometime this week. Hopefully. Let's just remember that earlier in the fall you sent out lots and lots of memos stating that if we had confirmed or suspected cases of H1N1 we were to stay home. Well I am absolutely one to follow the rules so don't you dare go back on your recommendations. I can always bring the swine flu spewing six year old in to the office with me if you'd like proof of our misery, it loves company don't you know.

That giant pile of paper where my desk used to be? Oh just leave it. I'll bring a shovel when I return....maybe Thursday.


These are the weeks when I'm oh so happy to have been brought up with all that Catholic guilt. It complements the Mommy Guilt quite nicely.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Dear Swine Flu, You SUCK, Love Amanda...

Matt just mentioned that he has a test tonight, reminding me that he has school tonight. I shot him a panicked look and begged him not to leave me home alone with...THEM. Seriously, a mother can only take so much coughing and hacking and whining and holding and loving before she goes absofuckinglutely insane. I love my children and will of course give them anything, ANYTHING, they need while they're sick but they are six and eight and I have been holding someone and nursing someone and fetching popsicles and gatorade and tissues and lovies for what seems like MONTHS.

^ I know I need to get over myself. I just had to indulge in a whine myself. There are plenty of heroic parents with truly sick children who live their entire lives doing what I can't seem to do for two weeks. I'm sorry.

Thanks for letting me get it out. You rock!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Nov 1...

Nov 1. I'm determined to write this month.

October, especially the last two weeks kicked our collective asses. Football and school and soccer have been more than this family can handle and still eat nutritious meals and get anything else done. Then Zack came down with the flu, there were 10 kids out in his class. He bounced right back like no other and I got hit hard. Just as I'm starting to almost feel human again Skyler spikes a fever and has been a blob of whine and fever and coughing and need, poor thing. It is so contagious and we know SO many people who are sick. The week before Zack came down with it I said to a friend that I feel like the flu is after us and closing in. I had the kids practically bathing in hand sanitizer but it got us anyway. Imagine how the teachers feel.

Zack's football team did not make the playoffs. It was disappointing but they played very well their last game anyway. I got some fantastic pictures and am working on a slide show for their big banquet.

Skyler's got one game left this season. She's been a super star this year. Those long giraffe legs get her anywhere she wants to be on the field. I keep telling her she'll be taller than I am pretty soon.

Matt is loving his new job which does wonders for everything else in our lives. We've got to keep Daddy happy.

I'm going to try to make this the last post of updates and just keep writing.

*cough cough sniffle sniffle*

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