Wednesday, November 27, 2013


My grandma passed away last Saturday.  She had been doing better for a couple of days and we all thought that this was just going to be another close call.  Then I got the call that she wasn't expected to live much longer when I was two and a half hours away from home for a soccer game.  I turned around and began one of the longest drives of my life, praying that I would make it in time to see her one last time.

Luckily, she held on for several more hours and all of our family was able to get to the hospital in time.  I'm convinced that she held on until we could all be there.  I'm not sure that I've ever witnessed anything so sad as my grandpa saying goodbye to his wife of 61 years.  Nothing can prepare you for hearing him say "I better go give her a kiss while she's still alive."

Toward the end, everyone but my sister and I left her hospital room as they couldn't handle just waiting for her to die.  I stayed because I didn't want her to be alone.  I told her it was okay for her to go, she had suffered long enough and we all were there for her and loved her so much.  I held her hand and counted her breaths.  First she was breathing every three seconds, then every five, then every seven, then every ten...and then she was gone.

In the past few days, I have learned that even if you sort of know that something like this is coming, there is no way to prepare for it.  It's a toss up as to whether it's been worse losing my grandma or watching my grandpa try to figure out how to live his life without her.  Logically, I know that she was sick for a long time and in constant pain and now she is at peace and no longer suffering.  It doesn't make me feel any better, though.  I am so overwhelmingly sad that it almost physically hurts.  I miss my grandma.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Just When You Think Nothing Else Could Possibly Go Wrong...

I really don't know what I did to piss off the universe, but the hits, they just keep on coming.  Now my grandma has pneumonia and is on a respirator in the ICU and not expected to live.  She's 80 years old and has had a myriad of health problems for years, including diabetes and congestive heart failure, so it's not like this is a huge shock.  Honestly though, she's pulled through all of her issues so many times before, you just kind of expect that she'll keep on trucking, you know?  One time, she was actually in a hospice center and given a few days to live.  That was over three years ago.

In June, my sister and I took our grandparents out to dinner to celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary and she was doing pretty well.  Lately though, she's had more bad days than good, it seems.  Last week, she told my grandpa that she is ready to die because she just can't keep living anymore.  On Sunday she couldn't breathe and was rushed to the hospital only to discover that her heart rate was under 50 beats per minute.  Yesterday she had a temporary pacemaker installed while they tried to get the pneumonia treated and her liver and kidneys began to fail.  Today she started running a fever.  Now, the doctors say it will be a miracle if she wakes up. If she doesn't, I'm really going to miss her.  
Monday, November 18, 2013

Random Things I Remember, Teacher Edition

I have a really good memory.  Like, really really good.  Unfortunately, I mostly remember useless junk.  Like what I was wearing the first time I rode a roller coaster when I was six (white romper with pastel stripes).  Or what the next three numbers of Pi are after 3.14 (159).  I can throw down on some Trivial Pursuit, yo.  Useless knowledge, I have it in spades.

So a few weeks ago, I decided to see if I could remember the names of every one of my elementary school teachers.  Turns out, I can and I actually have specific and vivid memories of each and every one.  Isn't that kind of weird?

Kindergarten - Mrs. Stalker:  I remember she was an older matronly type and on St. Patrick's day, she made us believe that she caught a leprechaun in a bag but it popped it and got away.  That night I searched my house up and down for another leprechaun, but alas, never found one.

First Grade - Mrs. Smith:  I remember two things about Mrs. Smith - 1) She was a finalist for a  spot on the Challenger space shuttle that eventually went to Christa McAuliffe and 2) my class had a set of identical twins and one of them puked on her feet one day during story time.  All she said was "Oh my!" when she had to be thinking "OMFG, gross!" because I don't remember her having any kids at the time.

Second Grade - Mrs. Wolford/Mrs. Shipman:  I had two teachers this year because we moved and I changed schools mid-year.  I remember Mrs. Wolford grabbed me by neck one day when I didn't erase the board after she told me to.  I was very upset because 1) I didn't hear her ask me to do it and 2) Hello!  She grabbed my neck.  Methinks such antics would not fly today.  I actually had Mrs. Wolford again years later for seventh grade math and she was out of school for a long time that year after she broke her leg slipping on some ice.  Karma, man.

Mrs. Shipman had really thick glasses that made her eyes look huge.  But, she was super nice and gave me a hug at the end of the year, my first teacher that ever did that.   Clearly, that was in improvement over the neck-grabbing from Mrs. Wolford.

Third Grade - Mrs. Winslow:  I loved, loved, loved Mrs. Winslow.  She was and older grandmotherly type and was the third grade teacher that EVERYONE wanted to have.  She used to give us salted unshelled peanuts instead of candy as rewards for right answers, etc. I actually loved her so much that we were pen pals for a while after I 'graduated' from her class.

Fourth Grade - Mrs. Ketterman:  Mrs. Ketterman was kind of old and grumpy.  I remember learning multiplication tables in her class and her timing us by slapping herself on the leg to count out the seconds.

Fifth Grade - Mrs. Cutsinger:  This was another pretty grumpy teacher.  She had a big wart on her nose and finger so when she would get mad and point at you to emphasize, you never knew where to look.  She took a liking to me though after discovering that we both had dogs at the time that were named Stubby.

Sixth Grade - Mr. Geha:  Mr. Geha was a single man in his forties who lived with his mother.  He called us 'folks' a lot.  He taught us about the US government by holding student council elections and after winning the position of class Vice President, I realized that Vice Presidents really don't do anything but sit there and try to look official.

See what I mean?  Who remembers that kind of stuff?  Apparently, I do.  Who wants to play Trivial Pursuit?
Friday, November 15, 2013


Earlier this week, an old friend that I've known since elementary school was killed in a car accident.  She was only 34 and leaves behind a husband and three small children.  Yesterday, she would have turned 35 years old and instead of celebrating another year gone by, her family was planning her funeral.  Yet another reminder that life is just not fair.

I can't help but think about the fact that two of her children are young enough that they probably won't remember her as they get older.  Think for a second about a mother's love for their child.  It's so palpable, you can almost touch it. And yet, her poor little babies will probably have a hard time remembering her love for them and or what she was even like.  I haven't seen my friend in many years and still, I will probably have more memories of her than her own children.  That also doesn't seem fair.

There about a million quotes out there about that fact that life is short, we all should make the most of every moment, you never know when your time is up, etc. Don't you think though, that most of us look at death as something nebulous that won't actually happen to us for a really long time?  I know I always have.  This week I got a reminder that those sayings are quite true.

So today, I will remember my friend for her sweet soul and shy smile.  I will hug my kids a bit tighter and hold each moment with them a little closer to my heart.  And I will be thankful that when my time here on Earth is finished, they will be able to remember me.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wherein I Pay Attention

Not long ago, I was driving in the car with Violet when "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke came on the radio.  I was aware of some of the controversy a few months back regarding the lyrics to the song, but admittedly, I hadn't paid very much attention to the hoopla or even the lyrics in question.  Whatever, the tune is catchy and it's just a song, right?  Right.

Anyway, back to the car ride with Violet with the song in question playing on the radio.  When it got to the part of the song that says 'You're the hottest bitch in this place,' Violet commented that she thought it was so dumb that the radio bleeped out the word 'bitch.'  When I asked her why, she said it was stupid because it's just a song and they aren't saying anything mean.

As I listened more closely to the rest of the lyrics, I heard this little gem:  "Hit me up girl when you're passing through, I'll give you something big to tear your ass in two."  Not cool Robin Thicke, not cool.  I looked incredulously at Violet and asked her if she thought that was also okay.  She just laughed and said that she thought it was fine because again, it's just a song and those lyrics are "funny."  I say "funny" in quotes there because I think that that line of the song is actually not "funny" at all.  More like "disgusting and hugely disrespectful to women."  I tried to explain to Violet why the lyrics were actually the furthest thing from funny, but honestly, I'm fairly certain it went in one ear and out the other.  To her, it really was no big deal.

This was a huge reality check for me.  It actually turns my stomach more than a little to think that my daughter thinks it's okay to be called a "bitch" as long as it's followed up by saying said bitch is "hot" and that degrading lyrics are "funny."  It's hard enough to raise confident and well-adjusted young women these days without songs, movies and TV shows making disrespect to women seem like a normal and accepted practice.  I'll definitely be paying attention from now on.
Friday, November 8, 2013


When Violet was born, I distinctly remember thinking to myself "I wonder what she'll be like when she's fifteen years old." I'm not sure why I picked a random number like fifteen, but it's just the age that popped in to my head.  At the time, I also remember thinking that it seemed like a million years in to the future and we would all be driving flying DeLoreans by then.  Then, I blinked and this past August, she turned fifteen.

As I type this, she's on the way to the DMV with her dad to get her learner's permit.  She already passed the road signs and road rules tests online (which, did you know you can take your written driving tests online now?  In my day, you had to study a book and take the test right at the DMV), so all she has to do is pass the hearing and eye exam and have her picture taken and she'll have her permit in her hot little hand.  The good news is that she has to have her permit for a year before she can take her driving test and get her actual driver's license.  In about a year, one of my children will be a licensed driver.  Lord help us all.

I'm just glad we don't have to teach her to drive in a flying DeLorean.
Thursday, November 7, 2013


We're not huge on holiday traditions in our family. Sure, we decorate for the major holidays and I've even started making an attempt to do a little decorating for what I consider "Hallmark holidays," like Valentine's Day.  We just don't have a lot of things that we do year in and year out just because "it's a tradition."  Some years, we go to a Fall Festival and pumpkin patch to pick out Halloween pumpkins and some years (like this year) we buy them from a random roadside stand.  Some years I make my famous pumpkin roll for Thanksgiving dessert and some years I decide it's too much work and buy pumpkin pie from the grocery store.  Some years I bake cookies and make candy for the holidays and some years I don't feel like it.  You get the idea.

Over the years, I've often wondered if I'm doing a disservice to my kids by not having more family traditions that they can count on.  It's hard when you see hundreds of Facebook and blog posts with everyone's yearly traditions on display to not think that you might be missing out on something.

Yesterday, I was driving Lily home from soccer practice when she mentioned that while she was kind of excited for her soccer tournament Thanksgiving weekend at Disney's Wide World of Sports, she was kind of bummed about it too.  When I asked why she said that it was because we were going to have to miss Thanksgiving.  For the last few years, we have stayed home on Thanksgiving and watched the Macy's parade, then football and had my two single brothers-in-law over for Thanksgiving dinner.  Sometimes we cap it off by watching A Christmas Story that night to get in the holiday spirit.  We barely get out of our pajamas all day and it's pretty glorious, if I do say so myself.

I reminded Lily that we weren't actually going to miss Thanksgiving this year, we were just going to go to her grandmother's house instead and then leave to go out of town from there.  I was a little surprised when she lamented that "It just isn't going to be the same!" because I had also thought to myself that I was a little bummed that we weren't going to be able to do our low-key Thanksgiving celebration this year.  Maybe we have more holiday traditions than I thought.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Gym Rats

For the last couple of months, I've been waking up at 4:30 AM three days a week in order to get to the gym by the time it opens at 5:00.  Crazy, right?  I know, but really, it's not that bad.  I find that it's handy to get a workout in before the day starts because with my kids' school and sports schedules, hitting the gym at any other time than before sunrise is just not in the cards.  I have to take Violet to school every day at 6:30, so I have just enough time to get in my workout before I have to get home and fire up Mom's Taxi Service.

The gym I go to is on the smaller side and generally, I see the same group of individuals every time I go.  The cast of characters includes:

- Old Treadmill Guy: This is a man in his 80s who walks r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y on the treadmill for a really long time.  Usually he's already on the treadmill when I get there and generally, he's still on that treadmill when I leave approximately an hour and fifteen minutes later.  I would venture a guess that he maybe walks about a mile in that timeframe, but brother is old and good for him for doing any type of exercise at all, right?  

- Stairmaster Lady:  I'm going to guess this lady is in her early 60s and she does nothing else but walk on the Stairmaster for about 45 minutes while she also reads a book.  The weird part is that she does this while wearing one of those weightlifting belt things that body builders wear when they lift really heavy weights and I've yet to see her pick up even so much as a hand weight.  It's all Stairmaster, all the time for her.

- Friendly Guy:  This is another older gentleman who makes sure to wave a friendly hello to everybody while he goes about his workout.  I like this guy, he made me feel welcome in what felt like an intimidating setting at first.

- Hot Stuff:  As you can probably tell, the crowd skews a little on the older side at my gym, at least that early in the morning.  I would say Hot Stuff is somewhere in her forties and I get the distinct impression that she enjoys being one of the younger women at the gym.  Let's just say that Hot Stuff does a lot of stretches that put her goods on display.  For some reason, she really likes to lift her leg over her head. That said, she works out pretty hard and for being toothpick skinny, she can lift really heavy weights.

- That Guy I Kind of Sort of Know:  There is this one guy that I've actually met a few times that works with my husband.  He doesn't seem to remember me.  In his defense, I go to the gym with my hair pulled back and no makeup on so I'm fine with not being recognized.

- Mr. Perfect:  Every gym has at least one of these.  They're the guys that stare at themselves in the mirror during their entire workout, checking out their muscles, face, body in general, etc.  I actually find the most interesting thing about this guy to be that he drinks hot coffee while he works out.  Isn't that weird?  I think that's weird.

- Captain Smelly:  This guy.  Just, ugh.  Shortly after he starts working out, he begins to emit the most foul body odor stench that wafts around him like horrible, terrible cologne.  I really try to avoid Captain Smelly as much as I can but as I mentioned, the gym is small, so it's hard.  I've also tried breathing through my mouth and holding my breath, but that's difficult mid-workout.  He actually hasn't been at the gym at all this week so I'm hoping he fell off the gym wagon and won't get back on.  That's probably mean but seriously, gross.

Even still, I like my little gym.  I've belonged to more than one fitness center in the past that was nothing more than a glorified meat market.  The women there spent more time getting ready to work out than actually working out and the guys all stood around and ogled said women.  I'll take my merry band of misfit gym rats any day.  Even Captain Smelly.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I'm Not Mad, Bro

I suffer from chronic bitch face.  What is chronic bitch face, you ask?  Bitch face is an affliction that makes you look like you're angry and as if you're thinking 'Don't even come near me, lest you incite my rage', even when you are perfectly happy and content.

I've been a chronic bitch face sufferer since I was a kid.  How do I know I have this unfortunate affliction?  It's because there is rarely a day that goes by that I don't have random strangers tell me to 'Cheer up, it's not that bad!' when I'm simply out and about, minding my own business.

For the longest time, I would wonder what in the hell these random people were talking about because I was not in a bad mood.  After a while I realized that they were just reacting to how my face looks.  Even my husband, who knows me better than anyone, will sometimes ask me what's wrong when there is absolutely nothing wrong at all.  For a while I tried to consciously change the expression on my face to avoid the problem, but I quickly learned that that's like trying to write with your left hand when you're right handed; it just doesn't work.

I've often wondered what would happen if I told these random strangers that tell me to cheer up that I appreciate their concern but I'm actually in a good mood and that's just how my face looks but thanks for noticing?  The problem is that would make for some awkward encounters and if there is anything I hate more than random stranger interactions, it's awkward random stranger interactions.  So instead, I just emit a small chuckle, smile at the random stranger and go on my merry way.  I figure that if nothing else, they might think they actually made me smile and that they had a small part in cheering up a person that was in a bad mood.  Even though I wasn't in a bad mood in the first place.  My face just looks like that, I swear.
Monday, November 4, 2013

Relatively Speaking

When the going gets tough, I tend to draw inward.  I isolate myself from friends and family, sit at home and do nothing and even avoid the phone when it rings, letting voicemail pick up.  That's one of the reasons that I had not posted here in so long.  2013 has not really been a banner year in the Chick household and when 2014 rolls around, I will be more than happy to wish this year good riddance.

I am not trying to wish time away, but it's really been one thing after another around here.  Right after we listed our old house for sale last Spring, I had a health issue that was both emotionally and physically draining.  I was still recovering from it and dealing with residual issues when we ended up homeless for the two weeks before we could close on our new house.  The closing agent called me at 9:00 on a Monday morning to state that we had until midnight to vacate our house.  Let me tell you, you haven't really lived until you've coordinated moving an entire house in 15 hours, especially when you have no place to actually move to with everything you own in the world.

And now we are dealing with Mr. Chick's health issues with no end in sight.  He had back surgery a week ago today and his recovery is not really going as planned.  As in, I don't think the surgery worked at all - if anything, he is worse than before surgery.  This has happened to us before with this same surgery, and it's like de ja vu all over again.  We head back to the doctor on Wednesday and I am really hoping the news is better than I'm anticipating.

Even still, there are things to be thankful for and I'm trying to remember that:

- We have good health insurance so all of the doctor bills for both me and Mr. Chick are only costing an arm, instead of an arm and a leg.
- That good health insurance covers mental health counseling, which has been a blessing I could not have imagined.
- Mr. Chick has a lot of sick and vacation leave built up so for now, that's not a problem.
- My schedule is flexible which makes it easier to pick up the slack on things that Mr. Chick usually handles.

While I generally hate that saying 'It could always be worse' - it really is true.  But there's another saying that also rings true to me and that's 'It's all relative.'  And right now, things seem relatively bad.
Friday, November 1, 2013

Life, Interrupted

I haven't posted in a long time because seriously, life was ridiculous there for a minute.  Really, the level of ridiculous in my life seems to hover somewhere around 'Tolerable as long as you don't like to sleep or bathe' but for a while there, it ramped up to 'You are not getting through this with your sanity intact, nope, no way.'

Among other things, we sold our house and moved, again. But, due to an incompetent mortgage broker and real estate agent, we found ourselves homeless for two weeks after we closed on our old house and couldn't yet close on our new one.  Notice that I mentioned that this was something that happened AMONG OTHER THINGS.  As if that one thing where I ended up homeless with all my worldly possessions stored in my brother-in-law's garage with no clue when I would be resolving my homeless situation wasn't enough by itself to put me in the loony bin.

This week, I'm on nursing duty as Mr. Chick recovers from his third back surgery.  I think I've had about 6 hours of total sleep since Monday, while I play nurse (which I'm not very good at, I get annoyed easily, especially on no sleep) and also single-handedly shuttle Violet and Lily to their various schools, sports practices and soccer games.  Of course, all of those things occur at different places and at different times, and sometimes at different places at the same time, leaving me feeling stretched too thin.  Lest I sound like a whiny shrew, I am entirely aware of how fortunate I am that 1) I work from home and 2) I am self employed, so I have flexibility to make all of those things happen without actually ending up in a mental hospital.

Also, I did just take a vacation for the first time in a year and a half and also, I started Christmas shopping yesterday, so there's that.  Life would still be easier though if I could find a way to clone myself.
Friday, February 22, 2013

Baby Love

I recently read a very nice post by another blogger who was announcing she was pregnant, complete with all the lovely the details about how they found out themselves and how she and her husband broke the good news to their families with much fanfare and excitement.  As someone whose pregnancies fell on the accidental end of the spectrum under less than ideal circumstances, I've always wondered what it would be like to announce that you're pregnant and have everyone immediately think it's the greatest news ever.

When I got pregnant with Violet, I was 18 and Mr. Chick was 19.  We were both in college and both lived at home with our respective parents (well, our mothers really - kids of divorce unite!). When we broke the news to my mom, she cried and left the room.  When we broke the news to Mr. Chick's mom, I think she might have called us stupid.  So, yeah - not really the Hallmark moments everyone pictures.  But really, I didn't expect anything else considering the fact that I cried when I found out I was pregnant.

The one thing we had going for us at the time was that we both worked full time jobs, so while we were broke, it could have been worse.  We managed to save enough money to get all of the necessities for Violet's impending arrival and move in to our very own apartment exactly two weeks before she was born.  (Let me tell you - you haven't lived until you move out from living with your parents and move in with your boyfriend, at the ripe old age of 19, while you are 9 months pregnant.  Let's just say that I wanted my mommy.) Of course, both of our mothers quickly came around to the idea of having a grandchild, especially after we found out the baby was a girl.  When Violet arrived, they both loved her to pieces right away.

Fast forward a few years later and Violet has just turned two.  Mr. Chick and I are mere weeks away from the wedding we'd been planning for about a year when I discover that I am pregnant again. (Yes, I know what causes pregnancy, in case you were wondering.)  Now this time, circumstances were a little different obviously, but we weren't as 'established' as one might like to be before having any kids, let alone their second one.  We had good jobs, but didn't yet own a home, have substantial savings, etc.  These were things we were working toward, yes, but progress was slow.  Still, I knew what I was getting into this time and while the timing wasn't the greatest, we were excited just the same.

But, the news that Lily was on the way was met with sighs of 'I'm not mad, but you're just getting your heads above water' and 'I'm not upset, but you're just getting yourselves established.'  When I was in the hospital for eight days and on bedrest for 5 months because of pre-term labor, it was pointed out that this was exactly why people our age and in our financial position shouldn't be having kids.  (We'll just conveniently gloss over the fact that I actually had disability insurance which covered my FMLA time off.)  But again, when Lily was born, she was every bit as loved by everyone as Violet had been.

Fast forward a few years after that and I'm pregnant again.  This time, we're even more established than before and are in the process of building our first home.  Even so, for the third time, our big announcement is met with little excitement...more of a 'you know, three kids is a lot to handle' type observation.  Now, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you've noticed that I only have two kids.  So, it turned out that the third time was not the charm for us and as quickly as I was pregnant, I was not pregnant anymore.  After that, I decided that I was not very good at being pregnant (see:  previous pre-term labor/bed rest and subsequent pregnancy that ended with no baby) and we were done, done, done with having kids.

That is, until about two years ago when I decided that maybe, perhaps, possibly another baby wouldn't be such a bad thing.  Because I was totally on the fence about said decision, I told almost no one. This time, we were established, we hade money, we had a home, we had savings accounts, we were the age when people are 'supposed' to have babies. But still, even the thought of another baby for us was met with a less than thrilled reaction from some.  More of a 'Why would you want to start over?' and a 'You do what you want, but I don't think it's a good idea.'  That was quickly followed up with an 'Of course, I'll love another baby if you have one.'  Gee, thanks - I think.

We ultimately decided that another baby is just not in the cards for us for a multitude of reasons (which I say, knowing that I'm due to have my IUD replaced and not being able to bring myself to actually go get it done because in my head, THEN it's final).  But still, when I read stories like the one earlier this week about breaking the baby news and everyone getting really excited for them, it just makes me wonder what it would feel like to share what is really such amazing news, and actually have people be happy about it, because I don't think I'll ever know.
Thursday, February 14, 2013

Business As Usual

Valentine's Day 2013 in the Chick household:

- Mr. Chick:  Got to sleep in this morning while I took Violet and then Lily to school.  Got the shaft on any other holiday festivities because I refused to get him a little something and then get the shaft on even so much as a greeting card for the fifth year in a row.

Violet:  Declared that she was 'too busy' to look at the Valentine's day goodies from her parents and then proclaimed that 'Valentine's Day sucks' when I dropped her off at school and she saw people milling around out front with balloons and teddy bears.

Lily:  Skipped breakfast to dig through her Valentine's day haul and went to school munching on conversation hearts.

- Mother Chick:  Received a nice surprise of some lovely cards (Mr. Chick always gets me a funny card and a mushy card on holidays, it's his thing) and chocolate covered marshmallow hearts from Mr. Chick.  And oops on not getting him anything.  We really can't get it together on this Valentine's day thing, I swear.

Yep, business as usual around here.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Different Kind of Hard

After I dropped Violet off at school yesterday morning, I happened upon a boy and girl in the school parking lot who were hand in hand, walking quickly away from the school, even though school was just getting ready to start for the day.  Judging by the fact that they were holding hands, I think it's safe to say that this boy and girl were a couple.  And judging by the speed with which they were walking and the furtive glances the girl kept throwing back at the school, it was pretty obvious to me that they were making a break for it and skipping school.

I suppose there is a possibility that they were headed home to study for SATs or to a soup kitchen to volunteer, but I seriously doubt it.  Also, it takes one to know one, I guess - my mother will still tell anyone that will listen that I quite enjoyed giving myself free days off from school whenever I felt the need.  (At the time, I felt that if I could skip school and still pull straight A's, wasn't I entitled to as much free time as I wanted?  I was kind of dumb back then.)  As I watched the lovebirds hightail it across the street, my immediate thought was that the parents of those kids had no idea that a day of clandestine debauchery was probably about to go down.

That is one of the things I've been struggling with as my kids have gotten older.  At some point they are going to do things, potentially bad things, that I have absolutely zero control over.  They could get in cars with people who have been drinking, they could text and drive, they could do drugs and/or drink alcohol, they could skip school with their boyfriends, and there isn't really anything I can do about it.  We've established previously that I made some bad decisions in my teenage days, and I'm fully aware now as an adult that those decisions could have had some disastrous consequences.  You just don't think anything bad will ever happen as a teenager, though.  Luckily, I survived to tell the tales but the fact remains that things could have turned out differently.   And back then, my mom was as helpless to stop me from doing bad things as I will be when the time comes for my kids to make their own mistakes.

I know that the best we can do is raise them to be good people, to have good morals and values and to make good decisions and I feel like we are doing that:  we closely monitor their friendships, we keep them involved in sports and extracurricular activities, we have open and honest conversations about peer pressure and why drugs and alcohol are a bad idea, we stay on top of their online activity, etc.  I also know that my mom did the same with me and it didn't matter - I still made some bad decisions.  Everyone does.  As a parent, it's hard to know that doing your absolute best probably won't be enough - your kids are going to make some poor decisions along the way and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.  The control freak in me really hates that.

In my experience, when your kids are younger, you always feel like parenting is hard and you're waiting for the next milestone for it to get 'easier.'   Like, 'It will get easier when they sleep through the night.' or 'It will get easier when they can dress themselves.'  The thing is, it never really gets 'easier.'  It just gets to be a different kind of hard.
Friday, February 8, 2013

Mother Chick Chat - 48 Things You Never Knew About Me

Due to my lack of writing inspiration this week, I've decided to phone it in and just do a random question meme.  Sometimes you gotta do something to get the juices flowing again, so here we go:

1) Were you named after anyone?  To the best of my knowledge, I was named after Lindsay Wagner.  Well, I guess not really after her, just that my mom liked her name.  There you go, now you know my first name.

2) When was the last time you cried?  I'm not really an overly emotional person when it comes to things in my personal life, but yet, I cry at random commercials, Youtube videos, etc.  So, I cried watching that Budweiser Clydesdale commercial earlier this week and also some random video I saw on Facebook last night.

3) Do you like your handwriting?  Eh, I guess it's okay.  It's neat and you can read it, so it gets the job done.  Someone analyzed my handwriting one time and said that how I write across a page with no lines means my energy levels ebb and flow and I'm kind of up and down emotionally.  That was strangely accurate.

4)  What is your favorite lunch meat?  Holy random question.  Hmm, I guess turkey.  My favorite way to eat it is in a wrap with guacamole.

5) Do you have kids?  Yes, we've established that I have two.  We went back and forth for years on whether to have more kids and it's just not in the cards.

6) If you were another person, would you be friends with you?  I'd like to think so.

7) Do you use sarcasm a lot?  Um, yes.

8) Do you still have your tonsils?  Yes, even though I got tonsillitis all the time when I was a kid.  At that time, the doctor told my mom that they discovered that it was more beneficial to keep your tonsils than to take them out.  That must have changed because we had to have Violet's tonsils removed when she was eight.  Go figure.

9) Would you bungee jump?  No, no, no.  I used to think I was afraid of heights and then I discovered that I'm really afraid of falling.  I have dreams that I'm falling at least once a week and if I get stuck in traffic on an incline on a bridge, I kind of freak out a little.

10) What is your favorite cereal?  Oatmeal Crisp with Almond.  Just the right amount of crunchy nutty goodness.

11) Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?  No, seems like a waste of time.

12) Do you think you are strong?  Most of the time.

13) What is your favorite ice cream?  I really don't eat ice cream that much, but sometimes I get a craving for an M&M Blizzard from Dairy Queen.  That's the only kind of Blizzard I've ever liked and what's weird is that I don't really like plain M&Ms.

14) What is the first thing you notice about people?  Hmm, their hair color I guess?  

15) Red or pink?  Pink.

16) What is your least favorite thing about yourself?  I think I'm somewhat judgmental of others and I'm really working on changing that.

17) Who do you miss the most?  I don't really have anyone I'm missing.

18) What do you need to work on the most?  See # 16 - not being so judgmental of others.

19) What color shoes are you wearing?  I'm not wearing shoes at the moment.

20) What was the last thing you ate?  A peanut butter granola bar.

21) What are you listening to right now?  Pandora...let me check the song that playing:  It's called 'Life (No 13 in Musical Humors) by Tobias Hume.  It's from my classical channel.  The song before that was from Lady Antebellum and not it just switched to Bob Marley.  I have eclectic musical tastes and I shuffle on Pandora rather than sticking with one station at a time.  Although, I listened to my 60s station for three straight days this week without switching to anything else.

22) If you were a crayon, what color would you be?  I would be a limited edition color made to match OPI Pompeii Purple nail polish.  Best color ever.

23) Favorite smells?  Coconut suntan lotion and salt water.  The beach is my happy place.

24) How important are your political views to you?  Not very.

25) Mountain hideaway or beach house?  Beach house.  That said, we're doing the mountain hideaway vacation this summer.  We rented a cabin in the Blue Ridge mountains and with the hot tub, game room for the kids, and sunbathing deck, I'm looking forward to that kind of 'roughing it' in the mountains.

26) Favorite sport to watch?  I can really watch any sport and enjoy it, but I don't specifically seek sports out to watch.

27) Hair color?  Blonde

28)  Eye color?  Blue

29) Do you wear contacts?  Nope, and I don't wear glasses either.

30) Favorite food?  Oven roasted asparagus.  So good.

31) Scary movies or happy endings?  Happy endings.  I feel personally affronted when a movie doesn't end how I think it should.  Same goes for books.

32) Last movie you watched?  I haven't watched a movie in a while so I don't remember but I have a bunch of movies saved on the DVR that I haven't gotten around to yet.

33) What color shirt are you wearing?  Pink

34) Summer or winter?  Well, I live in a place where the weather is typically some version of summer, so I'll say that.  Although I like our winter weather, because it's spring/summer like also, so really, both.

35) Favorite dessert?  Toss up between Publix chocolate cake with buttercream frosting (so good) and cherry cheesecake.

36) Strength training or cardio?  Cardio.

37) Computer or television?  Computer.  I really use the tv for background noise.

38) What book are you reading?  I just finished a book so I'm not reading anything right now.  I'm in to 'women's Southern fiction' right now, AKA 'grit lit' and my favorite author in that genre is Karen White.  My favorite author overall is Elin Hilderbrand and all of her books are set on Nantucket, but she only writes one book a year.  I tend to read as a form of escape and to relax, so I don't ready anything too heavy.  I do like memoirs though and sometimes those are heavier reading - The Glass Castle comes to mind as a good one and one of my all time favorite memoirs was Angela's Ashes.

39) What is on your mouse pad?  I have an optical mouse so I don't have a mouse pad.

40) Favorite sound?  Probably thunderstorms and rain but I'm pretty partial to my white noise machine that I use every night also.  I also like the sound of waves rolling in to shore at the beach.  

41) Favorite genre of music?  Don't really have one, like all kinds.

42) What is the farthest you have been from home?  Not that far, actually.  I guess Honduras?

43) Do you have a special talent?  I mentioned this in my last post after my botched eyebrow waxing job but I can raise my left eyebrow on it's own without the right one.  I get that little quirk from my dad and I'm the only one of his kids that inherited that ability.  I can't do it with the right one, just the left.

44) Where were you born?  Ohio.  In my opinion, the most boring state ever unless you count Cedar Point.  Nothing compares to Cedar Point in terms of amusement parks.

45)  Where are you living now?  Somewhere that is close to the beach and warm most of the time.  And we are really good at growing oranges here.

46) What color is your house?  A really light green with white trim.  In the last year and a half we have completely changed everything about our house and it was 100% DIY.  It was really hard and painting the exterior of a house, especially a stucco house, is not that fun.  It was nice though, when one of my neighbors walked by after we were all done with everything and said our house looks so inviting and like something out of a storybook.

47) What color is your car?  Grey.  I really want a new one but the plan when I bought my current car was to drive it until Violet starts driving and then give it to her, so I'm really trying to stick with that plan because it's the fiscally responsible thing to do.

48) What are you doing this weekend?  (The original question was boring, so I made this one up.)  Mr. Chick and Violet are headed out of town in one direction for a soccer tournament and Lily and I are headed in another direction for a soccer tournament for her.  Such is the life of a soccer family.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Things Overheard In My House Recently

1) "Work sucked today, I got punched in the face." - said by Mr. Chick, and I think it's self explanatory. He's a cop, so I suppose it's an occupational hazard, but I'm sure it's not fun.  The guy got away too, but they caught him eventually.  Word to the wise:  Don't punch a cop in the face unless you want MANY cops to be hunting you like it's the first day of deer season.

2) "Normal is boring." - said by Lily. This should be her life mantra.  Girlfriend does not give a hoot what anyone thinks of her and marches to not just the beat of her own drum, because even that would be too normal, but to the beat of her own three piece band.  I do not mind this about her because she's already a pretty awesome kid, and she's definitely going to be a pretty awesome adult.  I can't wait to watch.

3) "But I want to put my hands in meat." - said by Lily, after I explained to Violet that yes, she could help with dinner but meatloaf was on the menu and she would have to stick her hands in raw ground meat, which can be kind of gross.  (Again, reference #2 above from Lily - i.e. Normal is boring.  Yes, yes it is.)

4)  "I look perpetually skeptical and my eyelids are going to be all scabby." - said by me, after a botched eyebrow wax at the salon.  Scabby eyelids are not the look I was going for.  Also, not sure how 'Just clean up the strays' turned in to 'Make me look like one eyebrow is raised at all times."  I actually can raise said eyebrow (my left one) independent of my right eyebrow, and it's how I look at people when I think they're lying to me, or being an idiot.  Now it looks like I think EVERYONE is either lying to me or being an idiot, at all times.  Lovely.

5)  "I didn't think it was a big deal." - said by Violet, after she dumped nail polish remover on our wooden bar stool and proceeded to let it eat off the lacquer finish AND stain, down to the bare wood.  She soon found out that it was a very big deal.
Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wherein I'm Left Holding the Bag

So far this school year, I've bought exactly three lunch bags for Violet.  After she lost the brand new one that we bought for this year in just the second week of school, I insisted that she use lunch bags from previous school years in lieu of buying a replacement.  When she lost both of the extra lunch totes we had on hand within the next few weeks, I had no choice but to buy her a new one.  Then she lost that one, so I bought yet another replacement.  That time, she actually tried to convince me that someone stole her lunch bag with her lunch in it.  I'm still skeptical on that one. I mean, who wants someone's ratty old lunchbox and turkey sandwich?

As I've mentioned in a previous post, both of my girls are forever forgetting this, that and the other thing for school, sports, etc. and personal responsibility and taking responsibility for such is a huge topic of conversation around our house on an almost daily basis.  I especially dislike when said forgetfulness costs me money, a la having to buy multiple lunch bags in a year or replace $60 custom embroidered school sweatshirts that one has only had in ones possession for less than a month, a sweatshirt that was an early Christmas present that was lost before Santa even squeezed his way down our imaginary chimney (don't even get me started on the sweatshirt incident, - clearly I'm still not over it).  So let's re-cap:  We started the year with two spare lunch bags and I've bought three lunch bags so far, and we only have one bag currently in our possession (well, two bags if you also count Lily's which she's had all year), and zero spares (we're also two weeks in to the replacement sweatshirt, let's hope this one lasts a bit longer than the last.  Did I mention it was custom embroidered?).

So this morning, I noticed that Violet had packed her lunch for school in a lunch bag that was not actually a lunch bag at all.  And it certainly was not the lunch bag that I had bought to replace all the other lunch bags that she had lost already.  When I asked Violet where her lunch bag was, she insisted that she had definitely brought it home but couldn't locate it at the moment.  Having tired months ago of the rigamarole with all the lost lunch bags, I immediately went off on a tangent, lecturing her yet again about personal responsibility and money not growing on trees and how it looked like she would be taking her lunch to school in a plastic grocery bag every day because I would not be purchasing any more lunch bags this school year.  When she tried to argue that she was positive that she brought it home, I haughtily informed her that she had zero legs to stand on in this argument so any point she was trying to make was falling on deaf ears.  As I dropped her off at school, I reminded her to keep searching for the lunch bag once she got home or it was grocery bag lunch sack city for her for the rest of the year.

At home a little while later, Lily asked if I could help pack her lunch because she was running behind schedule.  After bestowing a mini lecture on her about getting ready on time for school, I agreed to pack her lunch and asked her to bring me her lunch bag.  She went to retrieve it from her book bag and as I spread peanut butter on a slice of bread, she walked out her room carrying her lunch bag...and Violet's too.  She handed both bags to me and said 'I just remembered that I used Violet's yesterday because I didn't feel like getting mine out of my book bag.'

But seriously, who loses a $60 sweatshirt?  (See, still not over it.)
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Piece of Cake

Many, many months ago, I came across this pin on Pinterest:

Looks good, right?  When I clicked on the pin, it told me that this was a Guinness chocolate cake with Bailey's Irish buttercream icing.  Mr. Chick is a huge fan of both Guinness beer and Bailey's Irish Cream, so I've been saving this pin for months, waiting for his birthday to roll around.  I never actually looked at the specifics of the recipe until earlier this week, with Mr. Chick's big day fast approaching.  It turns out, the recipe for the cake is from Nigella Lawson, who I think lives in England, and she had some weird ingredients listed.  Have you ever heard of caster sugar?  How about plain flour?  Yeah, me neither.  Google informed me that caster sugar is a superfine sugar that's not as fine as powdered sugar, and it's probably hard to find in the United States.  The good news is that plain flour is good old all purpose flour.  Soldiering on!

Another problem quickly arose:  the original listing of ingredients was in metric measurements, and weirdly enough, the conversions were in ounces and not cup measurements.  Excellent.  How I was supposed to measure 10 ounces of plain flour, 14 ounces of caster sugar that I wasn't going to  be able to find anyway and three ounces of cocoa?  I was already tired and I hadn't even set foot in the kitchen.  I was also going to need to buy a 9" springform pan, because I didn't own one and had never even used a springform pan in any shape, size or form.  Despite these issues, I stayed the course because of how super thoughtful it was going to be to make a cake from scratch that includes not just one, but two libations that Mr. Chick happens to love.  It seemed meant to be.  Soldiering on!

I set out to the grocery store with list in hand and was actually pretty lucky to find something called 'extra fine' sugar, which was as close to caster sugar as I was going to get.  Sugar is sugar, right?  Right.  The grocery store also happened to carry springform pans but they were 10" pans, and being a stickler for the details, I was on the hunt for a 9" springform. I arrived at my holy land  Target, confident that I could procure the appropriately sized pan for my baking project.  Turns out, not so much.  Target also had a 10" springform pan, and a four pack of tiny springform pans, but no 9" springform pan.  No matter, there was a HomeGoods on my way home!  Surely they would have the elusive 9" springform pan, right?  Yeah, no.  Not only did they only have one 10" springform pan in stock, it was in the shape of a heart.  Honestly, I wasn't really sure why I even needed a springform pan when I had a perfectly good 9" round cake pan already.  But again, stickler, details, and all that jazz. Still, I had been to three stores already and had no interest in looking any further - one 10" heart shaped birthday cake, coming right up.  Soldiering on!

Once I had all my supplies, it was time to get baking.  Everything went swimmingly with making the batter, even though it looked pretty wet and runny to me.  I had read some comments on Nigella's website about the fact that it was a very wet cake, so I didn't worry.  That is, until I poured the batter into my brand spanking new (and lovingly procured) springform pan.  If you've never seen or used a springform, it has a release lever on the side that you open to release the edges of the pan from the bottom.  Suddenly, Guinness chocolate batter was oozing out the bottom of the pan and suddenly, the springform pan that I went to three stores to buy seemed like a huge joke that Nigella Lawson was playing on me.  Not to be thwarted in my efforts, I plopped that baby on a cookie sheet, put it in to bake and hoped for the best.  I had planned this cake for months people, and I would not be deterred.  One 10" heart shaped super flat cake it would be.  Soldiering on!

This is what my kitchen looked like after the cake went in to the oven so clearly, it was a hard fought battle (you can still see the chocolate ooze on the counter between the stove and sink):

While the cake baked, I kept an eye on it and noticed that more batter was oozing from the bottom of the pan on to the cookie sheet and instead of being somewhat flat like I anticipated, the cake was taking on a weirdly uneven ramp-like surface.  At one point, the ooze on the cookie sheet started to burn, and I thought the oven might even catch on fire.  Oh well, a 10" heart cake with a built in ramp system and added smoky flavoring it would be.  Soldiering on!

After the allotted baking time, I removed the cake and let it cool for a couple of hours in the pan.
When the cake had cooled enough, I popped the lever on the side of the springform pan and...nothing happened.  The bottom did not come loose as it was supposed to!  The stupid springform pan was just getting better and better.  Just then, I noticed that the edges of the cake had pulled away from the sides of the pan, so I figured I would just plop the cake out into my hand and set it on the cake plate.  I've done that plenty of times in the past, what could go wrong?  It turns out, a lot.  Remember when I said that this was supposedly a 'wet' cake?  Yeah, that.  I soon found out that a wet cake will just break all apart when you try to move it from pan to hand to plate.  I would show you a picture of my poor heart cake, but at this point, I was highly annoyed and not in the mood to document.  Just take my word for it when I tell you it was a broken heart.  I pieced my poor heart together the best I could and put it in the refrigerator in the hopes that further cooling might fuse some pieces back together.  One 10" broken heart cake with a  built in ramp system and added smoky flavoring it would be.  Soldiering on!

Are you tired yet?  I was, and now it was time to make the buttercream icing.  I've never actually made cake frosting that turned out any good, so I was pretty intimidated going in.  But really, it couldn't be any worse than my cake problems, right?  Right.  The ingredient list was pretty straightforward, egg whites, sugar, butter and Bailey's Irish Cream.  The icing was actually a swiss meringue buttercream so I had to actually build a meringue and then turn it into a buttercream icing.  Everything was going great - I whipped my egg whites and sugar to soft and pillowy peaks and when I added the butter it whipped in smoothly.  It was like Martha Stewart herself was cooking in my kitchen.  My last step was to add the Bailey's Irish Cream.  I added the four capfuls as instructed and...suddenly my smooth and creamy buttercream looked more like cottage cheese.  One 10" broken heart cake with a built in ramp system, added smoky flavoring and cottage cheese icing it would be. Soldiering on!

For a minute I thought 'I'm sure it's supposed to look like that, I did everything right.'  Then I stopped kidding myself, threw the mess in the refrigerator and quickly googled 'how to fix curdled buttercream'.  I quickly found a blog post someone had written previously which seemed to be written specifically for me, because not only was it on how to fix buttercream, but specifically how to fix swiss meringue buttercream.  Turns out, you take some of the frosting out of your bowl, zap it in the microwave for about 10 seconds, and slowly incorporate it back in to the rest of your icing.  It worked like a charm and in no time I had my creamy Bailey's Irish buttercream frosting ready to go.  At that point, I was ready to get the whole mess over with, so I unceremoniously dumped the entire bowl of buttercream on to my sad heart cake and smoothed it around trying to help with the 'fusing back together' part.  It didn't really work out, but all in all, I think the cake could have turned out much, much worse (and it doesn't have a smoky flavor either, so there's that).

It's a good thing I soldiered on.
Monday, January 28, 2013

A Few Things That Puzzle Me

Exhibit A - Crack is Whack:  This morning, I had to take Violet to the orthodontist.  The waiting area has a row of seats along one wall, and a bench seat in front of the wall seats.  When we arrived at the office it was fairly empty, so I took a seat against the wall.  Shortly thereafter, a woman arrived and sat in front of me on one of the bench seats.  Unfortunately for her, the poor lady's butt crack was on full display as soon as she sat down.  She wasn't wearing pants that were particularly low waisted, so I was quite perplexed.  Nonetheless, said crack remained on display for the entire 45 minutes I sat waiting for Violet to finish her appointment.  What perplexes me is how someone could sit with their crack hanging out for 45+ minutes and have no idea.  The office was quite cold, so don't you think you would feel a breeze or a chill of some sort?

Exhibit B - Jenny from the Block:  During the same orthodontist visit, in my haste to find something to look at that didn't involve someone else's rear end, I spied a People Magazine with a smiling Jennifer Lopez on the cover.  The cover proclaimed that Jennifer was saying to the world "I have no regrets!"  Sub-headline:  "The star on life, men and marriage."  Methinks it a little strange that after a highly publicized broken engagement and three divorces, that Ms. Lopez has zero regrets in life.  I'm not saying that it's not okay to have that many failed attempts at matrimony, who am I to judge?  I just think it's somewhat disingenuous to say that you regret nothing at all, especially when children are involved.  But really, at the very least, she must regret Gigli a little, right?

Exhibit C:  Thought Leaders Thinking Thoughts:  In the past few weeks, my LinkedIn account has been yelling at me to make sure I subscribe to the 'thought leaders' in my industry.  I presume they think that I don't miss any of their 'thought leadership thinking thoughts'.  Now, the process of identifying someone as a 'thought leader' has never really seemed very scientific to me.  I once worked for a corporation who proclaimed themselves a thought leader, just because they felt like it.  Nobody argued with them about whether they actually were a 'thought leader' or not, so if it's as easy as that, I hereby proclaim myself a thought leader on cheese fries and belly buttons.  Subscribe now to hear all my riveting thought leader thinking thoughts on both exciting topics and next week, I'll have a tutorial on knitting a scarf from belly button lint while eating cheese fries.  It's going to be brilliant.
Saturday, January 26, 2013

Easy Home Cooking - Chicken Noodle Soup

Earlier this week, Lily came down with a terrible cold.  She had the runny nose, scratchy throat, cough, the whole nine yards.  I wanted to make her some chicken noodle soup, but most recipes call for boiling and breaking down a whole chicken for the meat and stock.  No thanks.  First of all, I didn't have a whole chicken and second of all, I'm not good at seeing food in it's 'whole' form.  The only thing I had on hand was some boneless skinless chicken breast, so I was going to have to improvise.

The first thing I did was rub some olive oil on three chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs) and sprinkle both sides of each with salt and pepper.  Then I roasted them in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes (side note - the chicken was still sort of frozen in the middle before it went in the oven so with completely thawed breasts, it would probably be closer to 30 minutes).  I let those cool completely and then diced them up in to big chunks.

Next I chopped up some carrots (about 1/3 lb of baby carrots), celery (about 4 stalks) and onion (one small to medium sized onion).

Next, I sauteed the onion, celery and carrots in olive oil until the onion turned translucent.

Then I added two quarts of chicken broth, 4 cups of water, the chopped up chicken, a teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, a teaspoon of poultry seasoning, about two teaspoons of chicken flavored Better than Bouillon seasoning (seriously, get that stuff, it's so much better than the dry cubes and granules, and it really helps a soup when you're not actually starting with homemade stock), a bay leaf and about two teaspoons of dried parsley.  (Like the minestrone recipe I posted last week, it's going to seem like a lot of liquid, but we're cooking the noodles in here, so it will work out, promise.)

I let this all simmer on low for about an hour, until the carrots and celery were tender, then added the noodles.  I had about half a bag of no yolk egg noodles and half a box of bow ties, so I just threw them both in.  Also, this makes a very noodle-y soup, so feel free to use less if you want less noodles.  As you can see, I improvise when I cook, quite a bit.  I like to use things up as much as possible to avoid waste, so if that means we have two noodle chicken soup, so be it.  Let the soup simmer until the noodles are tender, about 10-15 minutes or so.  So easy.

Oh, and see that bread type thing on the side there?  I totally made that up, because I didn't have anything bread or roll-like to serve with the soup.  I did have a few frozen pieces of pita bread, so I thawed them out, brushed them with olive oil, sprinkled them with parmesan cheese and oregano and baked at 400 degrees for about 5-6 minutes.  When they came out of the oven, I cut each pita bread in quarters with a pizza cutter.  It was sort of crisp and chewy at the same time and everyone clearly liked them because they were all gone when dinner was over.

This made enough for everyone to have seconds and there were leftovers to freeze, so feel free to adjust if you don't want to make as much.

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

- 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and chopped
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided (2 T for chicken, 2 T to saute your veggies)
- 1/3 lb baby carrots (or 3-4 regular carrots), chopped
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 small to medium onion, diced
- 2 quarts chicken broth
- 4 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (again, highly recommend Better than Bouillon)
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (can just add a bit of sage and thyme if you don't have this)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley

Rub chicken breast with 2 T olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes.  Cool completely, then dice.

Heat two T olive oil over medium high heat and saute celery, onion and carrots over until translucent.

Add your chicken broth, water, chicken chunks and seasoning and simmer on low until veggies are tender, about an hour to an hour and a half.

Add your noodles and simmer until tender. (I used the equivalent of an entire 16 oz bag of egg noodles because we like a lot of noodles, you could use half of that and be fine.  If you use less noodles, I would also only use two cups of water.)

The recipe as is is also not very chunky, so if you like lots of veggie chunks, just add more.  I would say use 1/2 lb of carrots and 6 celery stalks.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tit for Tat

I grew up in a single parent household and my mom never really punished me all that much.  Until I learned to drive, I spent most of the time that I was at home in my bedroom, reading.  So really, how much trouble could I get in to with that?  The answer is, not that much.  Once I started to drive and had my own car though, I had a little taste of freedom and all bets were pretty much off.  I was pretty good at concocting stories about where I was and what I was doing to throw my mom off my trail.

The time I drove three hours to a keg party to meet up with some guys that my friend and I met on Spring Break a few weeks before?  I was 'spending the night with a friend and then helping her get ready for prom the next day.'  She looked beautiful on her way to the dance, I'm sure...I just had nothing to do with it.  When I think about how some of those situations could have turned out, I shudder.  What a dumb girl I was, sometimes. Even still (out of town keg parties notwithstanding), my teen shenanigans could have been much worse and I stayed out of trouble, for the most part.

I don't think I was ever truly 'grounded' until just before I turned 18, when I was grounded for a month because I missed curfew.  Seemingly harsh, right?  The thing is, I missed curfew by pretty much an entire day.  I was out all night with my boyfriend, doing every single thing that gives parents of teenagers (and especially teenage girls) nightmares.  I was doing ALL OF THE THINGS.  (In my defense, said boyfriend is now my husband - yep, married to my high school sweetheart and really I wasn't that kind of girl, no way.)  Now, it's not like I gave my mother a play by play of my night when I finally got home, but I'm sure she could infer some things on her own.  And apparently, I had a right to a speedy trial because I was found guilty and sentenced to a month of lockdown before I could even plead my case.

Being grounded when you 1) are almost 18, so you think you're grown up already and know everything and 2) have a car that can take you anywhere you want to go, pretty much sucks.  And for the first time ever, my mom was pretty relentless in sticking to my punishment.  About three weeks in to my teenage purgatory, I decided that I deserved time off for good behavior.  My upcoming birthday seemed like a great reason to plead my case for early release, so I called my parole officer mother and assured her that of course I had learned my lesson and would never miss curfew again, especially when I was out with my boyfriend (let us remember again, he's now my husband).

Miracle of all miracles, my mom relented and I was a free woman just in time for my eighteenth birthday.  So, what was my first act as a legal adult, just released from a month of being grounded for missing curfew?  I went and got a tattoo of course, just because I could.  Clearly, I was an adult, people - and I had the tattoo to prove it.  I'm sure my mom learned her lesson for grounding me, too.
Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Un-crafty Crafter - DIY Bird's Nest Necklace

I am not what one would call 'crafty.'  I can't draw, I don't scrapbook and so far, I'm entirely too uptight to knit.  I've tried a few different times and actually broke the knitting needles because I was knitting the stitches so tight.

Even so, several months ago a came across a Pinterest pin for a DIY tutorial on making bird's nest necklaces.  I thought they were pretty cute and figured there wasn't much risk involved with trying to release my inner crafter, so why not?  The tutorial is located here: and even for the craft impaired, it's pretty easy to follow.

This is the picture that caught my eye on Pinterest:

Cute, right?  I picked up all the supplies for less than $20 at Michael's including beads, jewelry wire, necklace chain, jump rings and clasps.  I was starting from ground zero, I've never made any jewelry before, so I didn't have anything to start with.  I also got a jewelry tool kit that was on clearance for about $10, but really, you can do this with tools from a regular toolbox.  Some needle nose pliers and wire cutters should do ya just fine.

You're dying to see my finished product, right?

I think it looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.  I swear, there really is nothing to this.  String some beads on your wire, wrap until it looks how you want it, wrap a few loops around the 'nest', attach some jump rings and a clasp, done.

I will say that wrapping the wire feels awkward at first and because I used perfectly round and smooth beads, they were kind of slippery, so you have to be careful that the wire doesn't slip off.  It also starts off feeling kind of loose, but it tightens up the more you wrap and then tightens even more when you do the loops around the nest at the end.

I've made two of these so far and given them as gifts, with rave reviews each time.  I have to say, there is something very satisfying in giving a gift to someone that you actually made for them with your own two hands.  It feels more personal, maybe? (It was also pretty nice that a few people who saw them thought they looked good enough to have bought in a store.)

So, even if you're the non-crafty sort like me, you can make this necklace with few materials and a little patience.  As I mentioned, the supplies were pretty inexpensive and even after making two necklaces so far, I have enough supplies left to make at least 2 or 3 more.  Give it a try!
Wednesday, January 23, 2013


As a parent of a teenage girl, there are many, many days where I feel like every move I make is an insult to Violet's very existence.  Requests for her to pick up after herself, load the dishwasher, let the dogs outside, etc. are met with huge sighs and drama, as if I've just asked her to scale Mount Everest while carrying me on her back.  Sometimes, even asking her to do something that doesn't suck, like go get some ice cream, or go to Target are met with looks of 'Are you kidding me?'  Seriously, who doesn't want to go to Target?  I'd live there if I could.  Anyway, these are fun times is what I'm saying, and you never know what will set Violet's eyes rolling next.

Admittedly, I've had a difficult time adjusting to the teenage girl attitude that everyone assures me is totally normal.  If you ask my mother, she insists that I hated her from the ages of 13-18, which I have zero recollection of (hating her, or why she would think I hated her, that is).  I've picked up a few scrapes and scars along the way of learning to 'choose my battles' with Violet, but I'd like to think that I have in fact learned a thing or two.  For the most part, I've now accepted the fact that Violet has really just lost her mind for the time being and I'm hopeful that she'll find it again by the time she graduates from high school.

This morning was a perfect example.  As I pulled in to the parking lot to drop Violet off at school, she started with the heavy sighing routine.  'This school...I just don't know about this school,' she complained dramatically.  I had no clue what she was getting at, so I just stayed quiet.  (Clue # 1 that I'm learning how to navigate teenage girls and the parenting of such - when in doubt, keep your mouth shut and listen.) She started again.  'This school has, like, gates everywhere.  Like, why so many gates?  It's so stupid.'  The kid was pissed because the school has too many gates around it.  Gates that have been there every single day for years, that she's never commented on before this morning.

Oh yes, she has most definitely lost her mind.
Monday, January 21, 2013

Mother Chick Chat - Ten Random Questions Answered

1. What did you dream about last night?  I've been having really unpleasant dreams lately.  I can't exactly remember last night, but I remember it wasn't good and I woke up feeling unsettled.  The night before that, I dreamt that I was at the mall with Lily and a friend of hers and the other friend's mom.  I left the girls with the other mom and started walking in the other direction when suddenly, a bomb went off right where I left them.  I started running back toward them and I saw that Lily was okay, then I woke up.  This other time I dreamt that I was on a cruise ship that was sinking (this was way before that one sank last year) and I had Violet with me but I couldn't find Lily and the faster I tried to run, the slower I went.  Those kind of dreams suck, and I actually have them quite a bit.
2. If you could be given ANY gift what would it be?   A cleaning service.  I find there aren't enough hours in the day as it is, so I hate spending any of those hours cleaning.  My inner neat freak and germophobe requires regular house cleaning, though.  My inner perfectionist also requires that I go around after anyone else in my house has cleaned something in order to do it the 'right way.'  (The right way would be my way, obviously.)
3. What was the last film that really moved/disturbed/thrilled you and why?  Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.  They're a married couple who go to a cheesy theme motel to try and re-connect.  They go back forth between showing how they met and started dating to present day when they have grown apart.  It's quite disturbing to watch, but interesting at the same time - with some surprises thrown in for good measure.  It's not a 'feel good' movie, so don't be expecting to feel all warm and fuzzy after watching it.
4. What is your favourite TV show of all time ie you've seen them all, can watch it over and over again and quote lines from it?  Friends.  I'm still trying to get over the fact that this show premiered almost 20 years ago.  Ridiculous.  Pivot!
5. What's your favourite way to wake up and what's the first thing you do?  I do not have a favorite way to wake up because I am not a morning person.  The first thing I do is look at my phone to see what time it is and hope that I have time to go back to sleep.  I prefer weekends, when I don't have to jump right out of bed and start arguing with one kid or the other about getting up, getting ready or getting out of the house on time.  Weekday mornings are fun.
6. What would you call yourself if you could choose your own name?  I actually don't mind my name, so I don't think I would change it.  When I was younger, I hated it and thought that Jessica was the most beautiful name in the world and fervently wished my parents had named me that.  Then I moved on to Tiffany.  Now I'm pretty happy that my parents did not name me Jessica or Tiffany and think my own name is pretty nice.  Normal enough that it's not too weird and out there but unusual enough that you don't know 500 people with the same name as you.
7. If you had to do a bushtucker challenge (you have to eat insects/grubs etc) what would be the worst thing you had to eat?  Spiders, hands down.  I'm sure they would be huge, gross, hairy ones.
8. Whats the worst/most embarassing CD/Album you've ever owned and do you still have it?  Probably a toss up between Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.  But hey, those were the jams back in the day.  I remember having my mind blown by the fact that 'I Think We're Alone Now' was NOT a Tiffany original.  I had both of albums on cassette and I'm pretty sure I finally got rid of those when I moved out on my own.
9. What characteristics do you dislike in yourself?  I tend to be judgmental of others.  I know this is a character flaw and I'm working on it.  I also worry a lot and I'm trying to stop that and be more positive.  Clearly, I have a lot of things I'm working on.
10. What are you really afraid of?  Something happening to one of my kids.  Having had a close call with Lily many years ago, I can honestly say I don't know how I would be able to go on if anything happened to either one of them.
Saturday, January 19, 2013

Easy Home Cooking - Minestrone Soup

I usually make a meatless meal about once a week.  Not to be vegetarian, but more as a money saving tactic.  It can be a challenge to find options that everyone in the Chick household will actually eat.  I should say, it's tough to find meatless options that Mr. Chick and Violet will eat...they're the picky ones.

This minestrone soup is one of my go to meatless recipes because it's easy to make AND is a dish that everyone likes.  Additional bonus points for that fact that it's all stuff you probably have on hand and even if you don't, you can modify to fit what you do have in your pantry and refrigerator.  You really can't mess this one up.

Here is where a good blogger would show you a picture of ingredients.  I am a blogger that doesn't plan ahead, so I'll just tell you what was used.

Ingredient List:

(I'm giving approximate measurements because I don't really measure on this one, really, you can't mess it up!)

- olive oil (about 2 T)
- carrots, diced (I used about 1/4 of a 1 lb bag of baby carrots because that's all I had left, if you have whole carrots use 1 or 2, depending on how big they are)
- celery, diced (about 2 stalks)
- onion, diced (about half a medium onion)
- 1 can garbanzo beans 
- 1 can Italian stewed tomatoes
- I can regular diced tomatoes (I usually use petite diced, but regular is fine too)
- soup stock (I used a 32 oz carton of beef stock, but you could use chicken or vegetable stock, whatever you have on hand or prefer)
- water (about 4 cups)
- uncooked pasta (about 1 cup - whatever shape you like, just something small'ish like bow ties or shells.  I used some 'winter' pasta that I bought from a fundraiser that was snowflakes and snowmen, so really - anything goes)
- 1 t dried basil
- 1 t dried oregano
- 1 t kosher salt
- 1 T dried parsley
- 1 t garlic powder
*This is what I used last night, but I've also included cabbage, zucchini, cannelini beans, etc. in past versions - feel free to substitute or even just add to the ingredients listed here.  You can use fresh herbs and garlic of course, I just always tend to stick with dry.

First you heat the olive oil in your soup pot over medium heat and saute the carrots, celery and onion in the olive oil until the onion is translucent.

Reduce heat to low and add the two cans of tomatoes, including the juice from each can.  I always chop the stewed tomatoes a little smaller that they come out of the can.  I just drain the can into my soup pot, dump the tomatoes on my cutting board and coarse chop them, then throw them right in the pot.

Add your soup stock and water.  I know it seems like a LOT of liquid but trust me on that part.   You're going to cook your pasta in the soup toward the end and that soaks up a lot.  Add your salt, basil, oregano, parsley and garlic powder and stir.

Let this simmer for about an hour or so on low heat - it should be really low, so it simmers and doesn't boil.  With my stove, I have to turn it to the absolute lowest heat setting but yours might be different.  I left this simmering at home while I grocery shopped (someone was home, of course), so it probably simmered for about an hour and a half, and that was fine too.

After the soup simmers, you can adjust your seasoning as needed.  Add your pasta and turn the heat up to medium low.  When your pasta is cooked, it's ready.  If it seems at all thin or watery here, add some tomato paste and it should thicken up a little and round out the tomato goodness.

I served this topped with some shaved Parmesan cheese and French bread on the side for dipping.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Five - Random Thoughts Edition

1 - Earlier this week, a bear cub escaped it's enclosure and was roaming around the streets of a town not too far from me.  I heard about this on the morning news one day this week after the bear made a break for it and the experts from the Fish and Wildlife Commission were advising anyone who sees the bear to NOT run.  Instead, you should clap your hands at the bear and say 'Bear, go home!'  I don't know about you, but if I run across a bear on the street (even if it's a bear cub - I'm sure they still have sharp claws and teeth and are freakishly strong), I'm not sure I would be level headed enough to scold the bear like a school teacher.  But maybe that's just me.

2 - Kim and Kourtney Kardashian were on the Today show this week, promoting the latest in their seemingly never ending plethora of reality shows.  Of course talk turned to babies and kids, since Kim is currently preggers (let's just overlook the fact that she's knocked up by someone OTHER than the person she's currently married to, shall we?) and Kourtney has two kids already.  I had to turn the TV off and walk away when it somehow morphed in to a discussion of how Kourtney thinks they should breastfeed each other's kids because that's how they did it in the old days, or something equally ridiculous.  Seriously, WHY do people give them any publicity whatsoever?  I really don't get it...people who are famous for nothing other than being famous baffle me.  I get that they are trying to extend their time in the spotlight as long as humanly possible, but when you say stupid stuff in the media like they constantly do, why do people keep listening to them?  Perhaps if we stop paying attention, they'll go away, is what I'm saying.

3 - It's cold outside today.  After temperatures in the 80s for the last two weeks, it was in the 40s this morning, which is cold where I live.  Violet came out of her bedroom this morning with long pants on, but short sleeves and no jacket.  I refused to take her to school until she put on a sweatshirt, which resulted in much sighing and eye rolling and declarations of 'Oh my god, Mom!'  Later, Lily came out of her bedroom wearing long sleeves and a jacket, with shorts.  I refused to take her to school until she put pants on.  This also resulted in much sighing and eye rolling and declarations of 'Oh my god, Mom!'  I'm starting to wonder if there is ever going to be a day that I don't do something as their mother that is seen as an affront to their very existence.  Probably not, but I think I'm okay with that.  Somebody has to be in charge around here.

4 - Speaking of annoying teenage behavior, I found my diary from my freshman year of high school not too long ago.  It's as angsty as you might expect and I'm almost embarrassed for the dumb girl that wrote those things in the light blue book with "CONFIDENTIAL" stamped across the front.  Apparently, I 'really really loved' my 9th grade crush.  Like, really.  But, really?  Not so much.

5 - And speaking of teen angst, I caught a re-run of My So-Called Life a few weeks ago.  I thought that show was the BOMB back in the day, because I was the exact same age as Angela Chase and I also thought Jordan Catalano was the Hottest. Thing. Ever.  Unfortunately, Angela was the only one of us skipping class to meet up with him in the boiler room, or where ever it was that they met up to make out, but never talk to each other.  (Incidentally, looking at him now I just think that he looked kind of dirty and could also have used a haircut.) Anyway, the episode I saw recently was the one where Angela's mom was throwing an anniversary party for her parents, when all Angela really wanted to do was go to a party that her best friend Rayanne was throwing (which of course would involve drinking and drugs).  After viewing this episode, I found myself identifying with Angela's mom and her desire to just want Angela to spend time with the family and not make it seem like she's ruining Angela's life in the process, and her fear that bad things could and would happen to Angela and there wasn't anything she could do about it.  Seriously, identifying with the parents on a show that *I* watched as a teenager?  Surreal.
Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ticked Off

It's official.  This summer, I'll be attempting my very first camping trip.  With a tent.  Sleeping on the ground.  In a tent.  On the ground.  In the dirt.  Where bugs crawl.  If you look at my blog, it's pretty pink and girly.  I don't do dirt and bugs.  I agreed to said trip in the first place because I'm trying to branch out and try new things.  I'm thinking I'm in trouble already.  The good news is that the campground has bathrooms with showers, which get good reviews on Trip Advisor for being neat and clean.  But still.  A tent.  On the ground.  With dirt.  And bugs.

The other day, my brother-in-law e-mailed me a helpful 'camping gear checklist' that's approximately 47 pages long.  It's full of things that I do not have, because I do not camp.  Not until Memorial Day weekend, that is.  The list includes things I would expect to see like a tent, sleeping bags, etc. but there are other weird things that give me pause.  Like, what am I going to need an axe for?  I don't even know how to use an axe.  The one item that really confused me was 'clear nail polish.' Are we going to give each other manicures at the campsite?  If so, camping isn't going to be as bad as I thought.

It turns out that the nail polish is for ticks.  According to Google, you put nail polish on ticks if they latch on to your skin.  First of all, I don't want to think about ANYTHING latching on to my skin.  Second, ticks have Lyme Disease, which is not a souvenir I want to bring back from my little camping adventure.  Last, I found out when I googled 'tick repellent' that ticks are not really bugs at all, they're arachnids.  As in spider-like; eight legs and all (I also looked up tick pictures and counted).   Seriously, ew.  So now I'm sleeping in a tent, on the ground, with dirt, bugs AND spidery things.  Awesome.  Why have a I never thought to do this camping thing before?  It sounds fabulous.

If a tick jumps on me though, I can guarantee you that the LAST thing I'm going to want to do is give it a manicure.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pin Testing - How to Get Whiter Nails

If you're like me and need a daily dose of eye candy, there is no better place than good old Pinterest to get your fix.  Along the way, you'll come across approximately 47 million pins that promise that it's super easy to build an entire ottoman out of matchsticks and some gum wrappers from the bottom of your purse and clean up every stain ever made with vinegar and baking soda.  Since I generally like doing things the easy way, I'm frequently drawn in to the promise of awesome results (it's right there in the picture!) with little effort.

Today's pin-speriment comes from my Helpful Hints board and promises to remedy yellow discolored fingernails that you get from wearing nail polish for too long.

How to Get Whiter Nails
Source: via Lindsey on Pinterest

This is a problem I know all too well, as my fingernails are painted 95% of the time and my toenails are painted 100% of the time.  Since I'm not planning to get a pedicure until this weekend and absolutely cannot leave the house with naked toes, I tested out said pin on my fingernails only.

In my 'before' picture below, the yellowing on my fingernails is kind of hard to see.  I took about 872 pictures  and couldn't capture it properly with my iPhone or my Canon Power Shot.  If you look closely, you can see where white healthy nail has started to grow in at the top of each nail bed.

The 'Before' Nails
The caption of the pin had the following directions:  How to get white nails -- make a paste using 1 tbsp peroxide and 2 1/4 tbsp baking soda. Let this paste sit on your nails for 5 minutes and voila! White nails! REMEMBER THIS AFTER USING BRIGHT NAIL POLISH!

When you mix the paste of baking soda and peroxide together, it looks like this (Pay special attention to the awesome 70s style spoon that may parents got as part of their wedding flatware in 1973.  The marriage = dead since 1981.  The spoon = still kicking it almost 40 years later)

I mixed the baking soda and peroxide glop together and piled it on my nails using a small paint brush since the directions didn't really specify HOW to apply said glop.  You're dying to know what that looks like, right?

I have no idea if that's what the pinner had in mind for this but there it is.  I let this sit for the five minutes as directed before rinsing off.  Here is the 'before' picture (again) on the top and the 'after' picture on the bottom (I would put them side by side but uploading photos in Blogger sucks and I can't figure out how to do that):

'Before' Nails
'After' Nails - Baking Soda/Peroxide Test
If anything, I think the yellowing is more noticeable in the 'after' picture than it was in the 'before' shot.  Test #1 for 'How to Get Whiter Nails' = FAIL.

After the crash and burn results of the first nail whitening treatment, I decided to actually click through to the link on the pin to see if those directions were any different.  It took me a while to actually find the directions in the Shape magazine article.  It turns out that the actual directions were to scrub your nails with whitening toothpaste and a nail brush with zero mention of either baking soda OR peroxide.   WTF Pinterest?

Anyway, I grabbed some whitening toothpaste from my travel kit and an old toothbrush, because I don't actually own a nail brush.  Well, I did at one time but I have two daughters who like to borrow steal my stuff on a regular basis, so the toothbrush was going to have to do for purposes of the next test.  The directions in the article didn't actually specify how much toothpaste to use or how long to scrub your nails for (I'm learning that some pins aren't very specific, which sucks for people like me who need clear and concise directions). 

The supplies for 'Whiter Nails - Take Two'
I globbed some toothpaste on the brush and got good and scrubby for five minutes, figuring I would use the timeframe from the original test since Shape magazine doesn't like to give clear directions when handing out beauty tips, apparently.

Minty fresh fingers
When I finished scrubbing and rinsed again, I again admired my handiwork.  The 'before' (again) is on the top and the 'after' is on the bottom:

'Before' Nails
'After' Nails - Toothpaste Test
Some observations:

1 - I don't see a noticeable difference in the yellowing after this test, either.

2 - As you can see in the 'after' picture, my nails now have some weird white lines on them like they're all dried out or something.  I'm very excited about that.
3 - If you look close enough at my palm in the 'after' picture, you'll see that the toothpaste left some weird white dots on my skin that won't come off, and I have no idea why.

Test #2 for 'How to Get Whiter Nails' = FAIL.

If anything, my nails are worse off than when I started.  The verdict on 'How to Get Whiter Nails' is:  Sucky Pin. 

Thanks for nothing, Pinterest.