Friday, November 21, 2014

Happy Belated Trick or Treat yo!

At long last the rest of the Harried Halloween Fiasco...

Background Information:  It was supposed to be my perfect rescheduled date day. It was supposed to be all fun and games.  It was supposed to be dreamy and flirty and happy and all kinds of FUN.

Clarification:  Now to clarify it was a rescheduled date day with my husband and I. So stop it with the gossip spreading, I don't have a boyfriend (although I am still optimistic that I will get a hot Latino pool boy someday; first, however,  I suppose I should probably get a pool!!)

The Mission:  So anyhow on Halloween I had actually convinced my husband to go thrift shopping, out to lunch and then come along with me to the kid's school parties dressed up in costumes. I was McDonald's french fries again and this time he was to be my Big Mac.  My husband doesn't really do school holiday parties. EVER so this mission was a big deal.  It would be his first exposure to the world of SCHOOL HOLIDAY PARTIES!!It would most certainly be EPIC!

My Expectations:  It was all supposed to be magical, and fun, and high energy and absolutely PERFECT. You know, one of those memories we would all recall fondly for years to come; It was our defining moments as a family.  It wasn't.  Or maybe it was, but it was defining us differently than I had imagined: as an unorganized, emotional, rude, impulsive and ultimately at the day's end, resilient family.  I mean, I eventually ended up at the epic Hobbit party, dressed as Wendy and if that doesn't scream resilient I don't know what does!

How I imagined us all looking!

How we actually looked...
only remember I was also wearing a french fry costume.

Thrift Shopping and Fun:  We did successfully thrift shop for a couple hours.  We even managed to get lunch and we used up a coupon that had been stashed in my purse for well over a year. I don't know about you, but I sure do get a little adrenaline rush every time I use a coupon.  I love COUPONS!  And this one was for $10 off our meal!  $10 People not just a few pennies!!!  I got a serious RUSH using that one up!  We even had a swell time doing all of this stuff.  So things started off magical. The atmosphere was positively festive and fun!  This fantastic start to the day only fueled my expectations and the let down when things came unraveled.

The Party:  According to the letter I had read regarding the kid's party, we were supposed to be there at two. Mind you my husband never reads a single paper that has come home with our children so all paper-related responsibilities are mine.  So he had no idea what was going on and was merely following my lead.  Think blind leading the blind (poorly) and you get a feel for the situation. I was supposedly in charge of this gig and we were actually ahead of schedule when we left the restaurant and things were going well. I should have known then that things were going to crash and burn, but I was naive.  I was giddy.  So when my husband decided to take a detour and stop at our home because he had to use the bathroom, I wasn't too concerned.  When we arrived exactly when I thought we were supposed to arrive, the streets were lined with cars and the parking lot was packed full so my husband dropped me at the door because he is always so chivalrous and thoughtful like that (not, but this time he was).  As I entered the school, I was somewhat shocked at the number of kids in costume lining the hallways.  The further into the school I went, the more concerned I became that perhaps we were not arriving at the proper time.  Once I finally made it to Hazel's room, it was apparent (because the parade was starting) that we were in fact LATE. WTF!? I felt a million emotions all at once and...

The Fallout: I immediately slipped into psycho, emotional, not-with-it, mommy mode for about 30 seconds.  Took a deep breath and then I quickly helped Hazel into her costume.  Another mom who sensed my situation was dire, offered help so I sent the other two costumes with her in hopes they would find their way to our other two kids.  About this time Jeff showed up from parking the car and was probably in shock because he isn't great in crowds (especially of people he doesn't know and most of them are out-of-control children) and so he ignorantly asked "how are things going" and I completely lost it. Crying like a baby, lost it.  How could I have screwed up the Halloween Parade?  At that precise moment my husband decided to become unsympathetic and he said something along the lines of I can't believe you are crying right now and stormed off.  I cried on.  I felt like a failure as a mother and as a person in general.  I was so mad at myself because I have a long history of screwing things up as a mom (forgotten show-n-tells, lack of snow boots for the first snowy day and many other such situations) this time I had wanted to get it right.  And then I didn't.

Happily Ever After: And after all of that I did pull myself together and had an enjoyable time playing the game we had brought and handing prizes out to all the winners!  Jeff was the DJ and I was the super cool mom strutting around with the kiddos playing the super cool cake walk game I made a few years back when we were living for the year without television Year of no TV. And then I went and...

          This day I got it right!!!!  

Hazel turned 5 in mid-November and I crafted Tom the Turkey (above photo).  And that day all the kids and teachers and secretaries and custodians and other paraprofessional employees at the school thought it was AWESOME!  And for a brief moment, I felt like the mom who had it all together.

Vern Out


Monday, November 17, 2014

At least I Am Not Boring

Last week, I talked about cleaning mops and my pathological fear in relation to mops and arguably cleaning in general.  Well this is a follow-up to that story. Oh and I do have a long history with mops, just not the cleaning variety of mops.  You see, I used to be a member of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).  For over three years each month I loyally dragged my young children to our meetings through snow, sleet, rain or whatever else God and Mother Nature had cooked up for us.  It was a wonderful community of mothers facing the same daily challenges that I was at the time; and that is to say;diaper changing, butt wiping, dirty clothes washing, cheerio picking upping, parenting related challenges. The church that held our monthly meetings once did a group study entitled, "weird, because normal isn't working for me".  Each month that year when I attended MOPS I saw those signs and thought to myself, "So true, normal never really worked for me either". Well fast forward to the present time and you will find me being called weird by a friend when I responded to a question on Facebook.  Well I decided to take it as a compliment.  "Weird" is okay with me because the alternative is BORING or NORMAL and who needs that?! I certainly don't!

This picture sums it up pretty well!

So we survived the first visit from the cleaning lady and more importantly she survived the experience too! The last thing I need is a cleaning lady's death on my hands and given the state of our house, survival was certainly not a guarantee.  She did leave a detailed shopping list for me of the items that we don't own that she feels are necessary for proper cleaning to occur at our house so I must shop after all!  The second hand, rehabilitated mop that my husband fashioned was not acceptable to her standards either so she is going to bring her own high-quality mop along next time she mops!  At least I don't have to go shopping for one! 

Although I am actually requesting that she only mop monthly because the floors are so CLEAN.  And on tile CLEAN=SLIPPERY seems to be the driving equation. It is all I can do these days to walk around my house without falling flat on my ass.  Seriously, each and every member of our family has bit it on these floors (at least once) in the past 72 hours.  It is down right dangerous in our kitchen and dining room.  I don't want to beat a dead horse but, to give you a better understanding of the slipperiness, Friday when she was cleaning our house, I literally ran 12 miles atop ice and snow without falling at all. When I returned home, I immediately wiped out on our tile floor bruising both my elbow and my butt and I took my shoes off so there was no snow or ice involved.  My elbow may never be the same.  So the motto to this story is, "clean is not always better; And sometimes being clean is synonymous with being boring".

PS when Jeff and I went on our date day a couple weeks ago I saw another cool sign that read, "Freedom Tastes Like Guacamole".  Whoever works for Qdoba's marketing efforts and thought of this is absolutely brilliant!  It is so true and it actually made me want to eat at Qdoba soon!

PSS Onion rings are not my own guilty pleasure; I also LOVE TAYLOR SWIFT and I am LOVING her new CD.  It has a totally new sound to it and so many catchy tunes and it just makes me want to "shake it off" even if I am listening to the other songs!  Many thanks to my brother-in-law, Mark, for keeping me supplied with the very latest Taylor songs on a regular basis. YOU ROCK!

PSS I am still working on the kid's Halloween story.  I might have it ready by Thanksgiving, but...It's  Painful. Raw. Unedited. Real.  Frightening.

Vern Out

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Old man winter...

I was completely ill-prepared for this morning's snowfall.  Mice nest found in Kara's boots at 7:35 a.m. unprepared. How was that even possible? Mice nests in boots, I mean?   I do understand how mice build nests; I am a biologist for Pete's sake so I understand that a kid's boot is certainly ideal habitat for mice and other small rodents when it gets cold out. But how did we get mice nests in the boots and me not realize it until this morning? I don't get that.  As a result, it was a rough and challenging morning.

This is not the nest I removed from Kara's boot, but it the one that resembles it the most.

And I had heard the weathermen's warnings that snow was on the way so I should have been better prepared.  The problem was I didn't really listen too much to their predictions.  Weathermen get it wrong so often that I totally dismissed their advice.  I figured we would get a light dusting of the white stuff probably not until later in the morning after the kids were safely at school anyways and that all would be well.  Boy was I wrong!

This was all so ironic too because in *Bible Club this week we learned about the times in history when men have chosen to ignore God's words of advice;  it generally hasn't worked out well for those who ignore God.

PS Maybe it's a sin to call it Bible Club, but I like it.

Moral to this story is listen to wise advice especially from God and forget the rest!

*Bible club is what we have affectionately named our Bible Study because it makes it seem more about the FUN and less about the ACADEMIA and we believe spiritual growth should be FUN!  

Vern Out

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Mop Story Part Deux

I have forgiven my husband for all his idiotic doings of the past!  Every. Last. One. Even when he told me he sometimes ignores me when I talk because I talk a lot.  I even forgive him for that.  This recent boom of generous forgiveness happened because he solved the mop problem for me.  All the mop stress and anxiety is gone!  I slept for nine hours straight last night without any mop related interruptions.  It was AHHHMAZING!

Apparently yesterday while he was possibly doing drugs and definitely bored out of his mind, he actually listened to me when I explained that we had to own a mop by Friday because he went ahead and solved that problem too!  He fixed up a second hand mop that he has had hidden away for at least the past two years in his man cave, pole barn!  Who knew!!? I sure didn't.  Now I am left feeling betrayed, but thankful that the mop stress is GONE.  We have been married for nearly eleven years and I really don't even know the man.  Betrayal starts in simple forms people...first it is failing to mention that we own a mop and the next thing you know he has a cocktail waitress girlfriend on the side and her boobs are bigger than mine.  Just sayin'

Even with all of that, feeling betrayed about a mop, sure feels better than being stressed out about mop shopping.  Right or wrong I have forgiven him for the past and even for the mop deceit because I do feel it was likely a benign act. So I feel like our life together is finally starting with a clean slate and now possibly with clean floors too.  I am still a little upset the mop wasn't mentioned in previous conversations, but maybe he realized I was not going to use it so he felt it was useless information to share with me.  That is completely possible. Likely even because he knows how I feel about mops.

PS the adoption paperwork for the mop is in the works so once it is finalized I will be the proud mother of a mop!  There will be a formal announcement once we work through all of this adoption bureaucracy.  I tell you this process is quite involved.  You would think I was adopting a real kid or something!

That is all... no pictures just a quick update!

Vern Out

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Operation Fruit Kabob Turkey

Perhaps the only thing worse for this little no shopping challenge than me going to Sam's Club is...
... well it's my husband going to Sam's Club.

Lord help us; we may never empty Chester at this rate!

Today, since it was raining buckets and cold as heck, my husband headed to Sam's Club. He doesn't really grocery shop much so this was a big deal!  He had planned to spend the day in the out-of-doors: hunting and doing chores, but the weather was not cooperating. You see, he works for the County and those cushy County employees get Veteran's Day off. Me I had to work, but Jeff he had the day off!  And he had GRAND plans so he was not happy with Mother Nature and he must have been desperately bored (or possibly doing drugs) because he called and offered to do any chores I needed done.  He doesn't really call me EVER nor does he offer me assistance so the drug theory may be legit (just kidding).  Well, I went ahead and counted the offering as a blessing (initially) because he offered to help me. And he actually did what I asked of him... without complaint so in these regards it was a true blessing.

Yes, he got the supplies to create an amazing Fruit and Cheese Kabob Turkey for Hazel's birthday treat tomorrow. In an attempt to look like a mom that has her act together after the Halloween Incident (another story another day) I wanted to do a cool school treat. I hadn't yet made it to the store to buy the supplies so I did need them today.  SO SUCCESS!  He got the necessary supplies (fruit and cheese)! However, he strayed quite significantly from the list of approved shopping items on his Sam's Club outing:

Check it OUT!!!

In addition to fruit and cheese, he also bought fish sticks, fish fillets, chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, chicken chimichangas and an assortment of chips. I think we may honestly have a bag of every type of chips that Sam's Club actually carries (no I am not kidding)! Wait this may be further support of the drug theory!!! He had a serious case of the MUNCHIES YIKES!!!  In total it was $120 of mostly processed foods. Even more disturbing, was the significant inventory deposit for Chester (our chest freezer). I was not so happy about this little development given that I am on a year-long mission to empty Chester and then Jeff goes and adds a bunch of junk to him.  What the heck!?

However, he redeemed himself when he helped me make this fantastic treat for Hazel's Fifth Birthday. Since I find myself once again an emotional wreck this week (because my baby is not just in kindergarten now, but she is also FIVE YEARS OLD). Can you believe it?  Five years!! I need all the help I can get this week because the speed at which life is happening these days is very sad to me!  And while the turkey isn't completely assembling at this time, it is coming along nicely. I feel confident that it will look just like the one I found on Facebook.

   Mine won't be this spectacular,I am just hoping it is half as cool!!!

Tom, the fruit Kabob Turkey!  Say Cheese, Tom!
 The kabob production.  I only stabbed myself once...and I made one with Smoked Gouda for Hazel's Teacher!

Close up: This shows the placement of the head in relation to the body!  SHEER PERFECTION! I totally nailed the turkey anatomy with this one!

Happy Veteran's Day Everyone!
Happy Birthday Hazel!  Mommy Loves you!

Vern Out

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mopping Nightmares

In my hillbilly cousin's words,  "So here's the deal"... I have to go mop shopping this week and it has me scared sh*tless.  Seriously I am freaked out.  Honestly, I would be less scared if I had to run blind-folded and naked through the tri-cities in order to save a life than I am about this mop shopping gig.  The fear has me nearly paralyzed, I am just lucky that I made it out of my house and into the office.  And mops have invaded my dreams too.  Last night one was chasing me around the back forty... I woke up completely exhausted because I was running from crazy mops all night long. It was torture.

Is anyone free to come be my mop shopping assistant?   I will buy you a coffee if you tag along and help me out!  And the good stuff too from Starbucks or Village Baker.

I believe my anxiety about this mop situation is likely rooted in the fact that I have never actually owned a mop. So obviously I have never shopped for one either.  This reality has left me feeling completely inadequate, unqualified and down right scared.  Except for a few jobs over the years, I have never even used a mop.  That's right, for roughly thirty years, I have avoided mops like the Plague or Ebola to more modern!  

I have gotten down on my hands and knees and scrubbed my floors by hand (at least twice a year) for as long as I can remember.  At times, I have scrubbed with knee pads on to protect my knees. When necessary, I have worn protective goggles to keep the chemicals out of my eyes.  I have scrubbed with old socks as rags, or old underwear when I was really desperate.  I have encouraged my children to wear old socks and mop the floors as they slid across the slippery tile (we only did this once because it was kind of messy and didn't really clean the floors very well but it was fun!) But I have never truly mopped our floors!  And just to be completed up front, I am not planning to start mopping them now either.  NOPE.  I may die never having mopped my floors and if I do I am totally okay with that.

But we are hiring a cleaning lady.  Can you believe it?!  And she said she will require a mop so I am now forced to mop shop.  This whole situation is largely due to the fact that my husband and I do not see eye-to-eye on cleaning standards.  He feels the floors should be clean enough to eat off on a daily basis and that dog hair is a problem.  While I figure if we don't have roaches and our feet don't stick to the floors (often) then we are doing okay.  I see the dog hair that is on most surfaces of our home as a sign that our pets are loved and well cared for.  Jeff disagrees.

So anyhow, any mop shopping advice that you have will be welcomed as I have to get one before Friday.  Friday is the mop deadline...

In the meantime, we had a party!
We wanted to make the house as dirty as possible before the cleaning lady starts so we get the most out of our money!

I baked the fancy pink camouflage cake for my youngest 5th birthday!  
Yikes I can't believe she is 5!

It was a camping themed party. So here are the Happy campers!

 The cake complete with campfire and tent!

Trail Mix for our hungry campers!

Happy Monday ya'll!

PS the one exciting thing about this mop snafu is that I get to name him or her and the possibilities are endless! A formal birth announcement is in the works!

Vern Out

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Grease lightening!

I bet you thought I was going to write about the John Travolta movie right?  Based on the title, I totally would've too.  Well you are SO WRONG. Talking about John Travolta's Grease would be completely unrelated to my food blog and have you ever known we me to talk about things completely irrelevant?  Ok you have a point, I do that all the time, but I am so not all about talking about things completely unrelated to my blog TODAY.  Today I am going to stay focused; I am going to spend a brief time talking about grease and more importantly why grease is important.  So let's get started!

 Recently I earned a doctorate in the field of Fried Foods with a minor in Bacon Grease and Stuffed Jalapenos!  I know it sounds silly, but there was a ceremony and framed diploma so it's pretty legit.  Suffice it to say, I know a thing or two about grease!  Isn't it marvelous to be so well educated, about all things GREASY? Grease tends to have a negative connotation to it and is often blamed for such ailments as high cholesterol, obesity and heart attacks.  However, in moderation grease isn't so bad.  This Healthy Grease article talks about the many benefits of bacon grease and Olive Oil is even better for you!  I am not saying you should start drinking the stuff for breakfast or making it an everyday indulgence, but grease is okay in small doses.

One of my missions is to discover the best fried foods in West Michigan (I may have gone searching on vacation a time or too also).  Seems simple, but this takes true commitment; In order to do so I also have to be very committed to exercising so that I don't gain 300 pounds in the process and I have to be willing to experience occasional digestive discomfort. This is not just all fun and games.  So far, Turks has the absolute best onion rings in the world... possibly the universe although space exploration could prove otherwise in the future because I really don't feel NASA has focused enough effort searching the Milky Way for the best onion rings!  If you have never tasted a Turk's onion ring, please stop reading right now and drive directly to Turks to eat one and when you are stuffed so full of fried onions that you feel your stomach is about to burst come back...

Okay, All better now! You got your onion ring fix! (If you feel slightly bloated, that is totally normal.)  Great now I am here to tell you that a close second, in the realm of onion rings,  is The Stable Inn.  So the next time you are south of Grand Haven stop by to try those. We don't have time right now for you to go driving around to sample all the foods that it took me years to experience.  You will have to make a serious commitment like I did if you want to experience all of the best fried foods in West Michigan.

When I go out to eat at a new place, if the onion rings are home-made I have to try them just to see how they compare. So far from here to Alaska and all the way to D.C. I am yet to find a finer onion ring than the ones that are fried up less than two miles from my domicile at Turks.  This is both good and bad.  Good that their onion rings are so exceptional; bad that they are so close that I can literally be there to fetch my latest take-out grease fix in less than two minutes... To spare me further embarrassment, let's just say I am on a first name basis with most of the servers at Turks and leave it at that!  Last night I discovered another AMAZING onion ring at Pints and Quarts in Muskegon.  They are worth the drive!  I think I could probably spend the rest of my life driving around sampling onion rings and be pretty happy (as long as I got to run at least 3 times a week)...

So I have been really, really bad about dining on fried foods the past several months, but I have been really good about not shopping for unapproved items lately!  A girl can't be good all the time because that would just be BORING and I would have no stories worth sharing!

PS Grease is also very important to the proper functioning of automobiles and other motorized vehicles as well as to many mechanical systems although I honestly don't understand most of them very well.

That is all!

Vern Out

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Trick or Treat

On the roadway of life there will be highs and there will be lows, the road will be rough and at times seem impassible, but the important thing is to always have your helmet ready and to always, always, always wear your seat belt! ~Vern

So apparently I am part Hobbit.  I was shocked too, but it I must be true.  I must have Hobbit in my genetic code.  It is the only reasonable explanation as to why I must eat every two to three hours.  Yes I eat at least seven times a day.  I mean I suppose I could be hypoglycemic since sugar issues run in my family, but I find the Hobbit theory much more likely and anyways it makes a much better story!  This recent discovery was made at a splendid Hobbit themed Halloween party I attended.  Now to set the stage, I am a Hobbit idiot. Seriously, I wasn't even sure about the correct spelling of Hobbit until I wrote this story!  I must confess I have never read any of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings books, nor have I watched a single Hobbit movie.  I am just not into the fantasy genre much. Until recently, I was completely unaware of Hobbits and their intriguing eating habits.   Prominently displayed on the fridge at the party was the following sign.

Hobbit Meal Plan:

1st Breakfast
2nd Breakfast
Afternoon Tea

...and in the few moments it took me to read this, my entire life suddenly made more sense.  It was a true moment of clarity.  I was a Hobbit, or at the very least a distant relative of the hobbits...and eating seven times a day was therefore normal!  This explains a lot.  Seriously, so much!  You could just go ahead and label this "Veronica's Meal Plan" and not make a single edit and it would be absolutely perfect. My husband is constantly picking on me for eating so frequently. It was a liberating discovering that I am not a "freak" as my husband often refers to me. When I announce that I am starving just moments after a five course meal, he almost always calls me a freak or some equivalent name. Good news, I am Not a freak, honey, just a Hobbit!

I had a most delightful time at the party too.  Great conversation. Great Food (regularly too I was there for both dinner and supper and both were absolutely fantastic!).  And Hobbits love BACON and you all know how I feel about bacon!  Let's just say I could easily be a vegetarian if not for the existence of bacon!   And there was even a birthday cake for Bilbo's 111!  We sang happy birthday!

The evening was truly enchanting so very enchanting that it almost inspired me to read the books. Almost.  Maybe I will read The Hobbit after I finish the memoir "Brain On Fire" by Susannah Calahan which is a true account of a reporter who suffered a rare brain condition.  But I am starting to stray so to get us back on track tighten your seat belt, I will need to take this corner fast...

Now, you never know when you are going to start your night as an order of McDonald's french fries and end it dressed like Wendy herself, but that was just what I did that night!

Would you like some fries with that frosty!?

No thanks; I am watching my girlish figure!

 When I arrived to my friend's dressed as McDonald's french fries, she mentioned that she had some other fun costumes if I was interested (apparently my french fry costume was not cool enough!) So before we headed to the party, I tried the Wendy costume on and immediately fell in love with that ridiculous red hair.  My entire life I have been skeptical of love at first sight.  I am now a believer!  I mean seriously how often do you get the opportunity to look this ridiculous and I have always wanted to try being a red head?!  I just couldn't miss out on that opportunity so off we went the most awkward pair: a stunning peasant girl and Wendy!  After the party, we thought about heading to Wendy's for a frosty because honestly we thought it would be hysterical, but we decided against it. Given my driving record and the amount of wine I had consumed, we figured we had better head straight home!  

Happy Belated Halloween All!

Vern Out