Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants

I recently found this book at the children's book fair at our library. It was so popular when it came out I was intrigued for a while and also noticed friends of mine referencing it here and there even though we had all moved beyond YA lit. Still, a good book is a good book so I got it for myself and enjoyed it.

It's the story of four teenage girls who are best friends. Their Moms all met in a pregnancy aerobics class and they were all born in the same month. While their personalities are different and they don't all attend the same school their bond is very strong. The story is about the summer between freshman and sophomore year when they are all apart for the first time and for a long time. One of them buys a pair of thrift store jeans on a whim and they realize that they all look good in the jeans despite different body types (just suspend your disbelief about that part and go with it). They send the jeans from person to person throughout the summer using them as strength when they need the support of their friends.

It's such a quick read I'm not going to summarize the four girls stories, but it got me thinking about girls friendships. What is it with the foursome? By 7th grade I was part of a foursome, although I had another BFF at a different school who wasn't friends with the other 3. In 11th grade we moved across the Atlantic and I found a new foursome, but my old one fell apart. Even though I was the quiet wishy-washy one, I had been the glue. 3 of us are still close, the fourth has faded away.

I'm still Facebook friends with my European foursome but contact is rare since we live so far apart. In my local day to day, I don't have a foursome or even a local call them about anything kind of friend :(

Sex and the City was about 4 women, the yayas are a foursome. Telling my daughters about the book (because they wondered why I bought a book for me at the kids book fair) Little Reader realized that she was part of a foursome of which she is also the glue. Little Hugger (in 1st grade) is in a threesome, but as my husband and I joked they are interviewing for a fourth.

All this got me wondering why girls are in foursomes. I asked my husband about guy relationships and while guys have lots of friends the real close ones are always one on one in his mind. His theory of the foursome is that girls like to talk and over analyze, and if there are two it's not very interesting. If there are three, there are always two talking about/siding against the third so that doesn't work. I pretty much agree on that one. Four is good as you have lots of options - different pairings, or if there is a threesome get together one night, the lone one out doesn't feel bad as the tables will be turned another time. Not bad analysis I must say. I don't agree with all of it, but some I do. I don't remember us gossiping about the others in their absence, we gossiped about those outside our group.

Still I'm looking for my adult foursome. I live in a town with lots of people who grew up together so it can be hard to break in to the cliques. I have friends but it's hard to find new friends at 39 especially as an introvert. I've been trying to make girls' nights out more of a priority, and reaching out more to other Moms who seem good fits. Part of the problem is that since I met my husband when I was 18 and never dated after that, and finding new friends isn't that different from dating. Again as much as I know a lot of women hate jewelry parties, part of the reason I am having my Lia Sophia party is to try and get a chance to connect with more people. Even if they don't come to the party, at least I will have reached out and made the first move.

He's Challenging Me

The other day my husband gave me a challenge - from now on when we go out wear something other than black pants and a top. Some people would be annoyed if their husbands tried to tell them how to dress, but I know the way it was meant.

I've gotten to the point in the season when I start getting bored with my wardrobe but feel too guilty about our debt to buy much new stuff. This usually happens in February and August. This is when I actually start thinking about what I wear so that I can accessorize and change the looks a bit. Case in point my recently scheduled Lia Sophia party and the fact that I've been wearing a lot of the pieces I already own.

Anyway, the point is yes, black pants and a top have become my uniform for nights out since it's so easy and therefore boring. I pretty much live in jeans and a sweater in the winter so there isn't much difference when we go out. Time to be a grown up and start dressing like one. I know I've said it before, but this time I mean it.

Money's not as tight as it was this time last year, and shortly after challenging me my husband admitted that he needs new clothes and so when the next bonus comes in in a few weeks, we should both go shopping.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

This has got to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen.

I was hoping it was a joke, but no it's available for $39.99 on Amazon.

I have potty trained 3 kids, you know what we did to keep them entertained while they sat on the potty? We sat in the bathroom with them and read books or sang songs. As they got more used to the routine, we kept some books in the bathroom for them to look at on their own.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sex Ed continued

So, a while ago I had "the talk" with my Little Reader. As dinner was winding down, we somehow got on the topic of periods. I don't know how but I let Little Hugger and Little Man leave to get ready for bed and then asked my husband if he'd rather skip this too. Less than a second passed before he cleared his dishes.

We have a "how babies are made book" but it's in French. My parents were living in Switzerland when I was expecting Little Hugger and my Mom saw this book and thought it might help explain everything to Little Reader who was about 2 at the time. It's a board book with picture that are detailed enough for the toddlers but since it's in French I made up the words

Tonight being asked by an almost 9 year old about periods I figured I'd go back to the book as it has cartoon drawings of the uterus which made it easier to explain. I had told her the basics over the years but I figured this was as good a time as any to give her more info.

Once we were done talking she asked to look at the book some more so I left her room to tuck Little Hugger in. About a minute later Little Reader comes in with the book open to this picture. She said she knew one was supposed to be the sperm and the other the egg, but wasn't sure which was which.  I told her and then Little Hugger wanted to see the picture too.  So Little Reader says, "Did you know that's how babies are made?  The man has the sperm the woman has the egg, and when they meet they make a baby. But don't ask me how they get together cause it's REALLY disgusting, and you don't want to know"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Whenever my husband takes our daughters on a campout I take Little Man somewhere fun to play. At this point we've tried most of the places near us so decided to venture a little further today - to the Treehouse in Lake Zurich.

It took about a half hour for us to get there but it was great!! It's a play place and cafe. I've been to a bunch of those over the years (Nibbles in Wheeling, Little Beans downtown and the now defunct Little Village Play Place in Arlington Heights) but this is by far the best. $10.50 per kid (1 and under are free) a treehouse climbing area that kept Little Man happy for 3 hours, and the food was good.  What I liked best about it was all the little details that they got right.

1. The food is made to order and good quality.  No outside food allowed but they are nut free
2. Kids menu choices are the usual plus a few more adventurous choices for the older kids, and the parents options are extensive (12 different sandwich options, salads, etc)
3. Little Man had a grilled cheese and they used a cookie cutter to make a heart shape in the middle
4. Free refills on sodas
5. Free water with a sharpie by the water cooler so you can label your kids cup, instead of taking a new one each time.
6. Wipes, napkins and tissue boxes available in lots of easy to find areas.
7. Lots of comfortable seating with full views of the play area, a well stocked magazine rack and free wi-fi (get the password from the cashier).
8. The whole time I was there I saw at least one staff member cleaning something - either wiping down tables and chairs, vacuuming floors, or wet Swiffering the floors.  Not in an obtrusive way, but enough to keep things clean
View from the treehouse
9. The treehouse is made so parents can climb around too.  I'm 5'7" and could fully stand up most places. Most of the areas have at least two ways to access (one for kids and flexible parents, another that's easy for parents).
10. There is no age maximum and when we went back on President's Day even Little Reader (almost 9) had fun.
11. There were three birthday parties happening when we arrived but it wasn't crazy crowded.
12. They allow you to come back same day without paying again.  I'm not sure how it works (maybe hand stamp) as we didn't use it, but good idea if the littles need naps or you have errands to run.

Note: As with most places socks are required and they have all the kids use hand sanitizer when they enter.  Normally I hate that stuff, but they have a friendly staff member by the gate to squirt the kids' hands so you can't really avoid it.

Little Man climbing through the obstacles

Friday, February 15, 2013

What Difference Does An Inch Make

For years I've thought I was 5'6". Some doctor somewhere along the way told me I was, and I believed it. I can't count the number of forms I filled out with that number identifying me. Weight goes up and down, your height doesn't.

Yesterday I went to see my gynecologist for my annual and the nurse measured my weight and height. I didn't take off my sneakers for the weighin as I am within the normal range for my height so no need to shave off a few ounces. Then she measured my height and told me I was 1-1/2 inches taller than I thought. I took my shoes off and asked her if she could measure me again. Without the sneaks 5'7" (an inch taller than I had thought).

Weird, but I still didn't believe it. Maybe their ruler was off? When my husband came home I handed him the tape measure, took off my shoes and had him
measure me. Sure enough, I am 5'7"ate I was slouching at the teenage measurement and have better posture now, but either way I am standing a little taller today.

Lia Sophia

Over the years I've been to 4 Lia Sophia parties and hosted one of my own. The new catalog came out the beginning of February and I quickly came up with $600 worth of stuff I wanted. Time to host another party. I know some people hate these parties but obviously I like the jewelry.

I contacted the rep from the last party I went to and have a Friday night party booked for May (a week before Mother's Day). I have over 40 women on my guest list. The rep suggested having a theme party. I hadn't thought of it but since I have over 2 months to plan it why not. Mexican or Cinco de Mayo would be logical but I don't really like Mexican food, and most of my friends prefer wine to beer. Any suggestions?

Monday, February 11, 2013


We make chili every year for our Super Bowl party and it has evolved quite a lot since the first year. My husband likes it spicy and this year by replacing some of the beef with chorizo and using tomatoes that already had habaneros mixed in, it definitely was hot. Too hot for me honestly, but he and all the chili lovers loved it.


2 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound chorizo sausage crumbled
6 slices of bacon crumbled
2 small chopped onions
12 cloves garlic, minced
3- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
3- 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained
3- 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes with Habaneros (Hot) undrained
3 tablepoons chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2/3 tsp garlic powder
2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp Bobs Big Boy Seasoning Salt (optional)


1. In an 8-quart saucepan cook and stir ground beef, chorizo, chopped onion, and the garlic over medium heat until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain off fat.

2. Stir in tomato sauce, drained beans, undrained tomatoes, bacon pieces, chili powder, basil, pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and Bobs Big Boy Seasoning salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. To serve, ladle chili into bowls. If desired, top each serving with cheese, and/or sour cream.

This makes a lot of chili - probably about 6 quarts.  But the base is pretty easy to reduce, just adjust the spicing accordingly. Or make it all, it freezes well.

I made a mild version too, for the kids and the wimps like me.  Just to make sure people chose the right one for them, I put chalkboard labels on the pots.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Day Off

Yesterday my daughters had the day off of school due to some teacher meetings. I've finally got the house mostly back to normal after the Super Bowl. Anyway this was going to be my catch up day, but after giving breakfast to two kids I dosed off on the coach until Little Reader got out of bed at 1040. She had woken up earlier than that but had been reading. I saw no reason to wake her up since I was tired too.

Once everyone was fed we headed to Jumps N Jiggles for about an hour. Since it wasn't really cold I took them for a walk in Busse Woods after It was the great day to go - not too cold and the snow was sticking to the trees. Got some great pictures of the kids. I would have liked to stay longer but we weren't prepared for that as we hadn't brought snow pants.

I had hoped to get my blog updated with Super Bowl recipes and recent Pinterest successes but my wifi is down and I can't do links and photos from my phone. The tech is coming tomorrow (yes, Sunday) so hopefully I can catch up Monday.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nutella Fudge

After the spicy and savory Super Bowl fare I always feel compelled to bake something. Even though my chocolate chip cookies are a standard part of our Super Bowl menu, but there are usually none left after the party is over.

Months ago I pinned a recipe I found for Nutella fudge on Not Your Momma's Cookie and since today is World Nutella Day I finally made it.

Normally I don't do anything to commemorate these silly food "holidays" but I like this one because
1. I love Nutella
2. It was started by a blogger who loves Nutella (not a self promotion by the company)
3. I love Nutella

I've made fudge before but it's usually grainy. This one uses powdered sugar which I think makes it smoother.  Whatever the difference is, it was awesome and I suggest you try it if you like Nutella.  Happy Nutella Day :)

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

This morning I had a disagreement with the teacher in charge of drop off for my daughters' school. Most days we walk to school, but when the weather is bad or really cold (like today) we drive. There is a kiss and go area by the main door. I pull up, get out of the car open the door for them walk them to the sidewalk and kiss them goodbye. Get back in my car, and away I go. Probably takes about one minute most days.

This morning Little Hugger had knocked her sister's backpack down while getting hers and dropped her water bottle so it took a little longer to get them out of the car. One of the teacher "helpers" came over and asked if she could help. I told her we were fine, just dropping things. She told me I needed to have them come out on the sidewalk side instead of the street side as I was doing. I told her I can't because my son's car seat is on the sidewalk side. Her response was that I need to move his seat. It's a Britax marathon not a booster that's easy to move back and forth. I told her my oldest is in 3rd grade and I've always had them get in and out on the street side. She said, "We've noticed. But it is one of the rules and we weren't sure how to break it to you."

I sent the kids off and drove to Target to pick up some stuff a bit peeved. Once I was parked I checked the school handbook - no rules about which side of the car the kids need to get out of.

At this point I was pretty annoyed and in my usual passive aggressive way continuing to do things my way. If they have a problem with it, too bad.

Then I checked Facebook. An old friend from high school posted that her older brother had passed away unexpectedly last night in his sleep. No further details. She lives in Africa, he lives in the US. Her mother died 2 years ago, her father many years ago. I can only imagine what she and her younger brother are going through right now. My heart breaks for her especially as she is so far away from her younger brother and extended family. I'm sure she's trying to get to the US ASAP.

It also made me realize my little disagreement this morning was kind of stupid. On the way to Target I had all sorts of plans of keeping doing dropoff the way that make sense to me, but after reading that I'm trying to think of a compromise.

I'm not moving my son's seat. He doesn't know how to buckle/unbuckle himself yet, so I have him on the sidewalk side to make it easier when I need to parallel park somewhere. My daughters are older and listen better when I direct them in traffic. I have everyone use the sidewalk side if they are all getting in or out. But for school, I make sure the coast is clear before I let them out of the car, and I stand between them and the street and I don't block traffic by opening my door. Still not sure what the right procedure will be, but I'm willing to try and not make such a big deal out of something that really isn't. I realize her brother's death has absolutely nothing to do with traffic safety for kids. But when reading about a tragedy like that it reminds you to not sweat the small stuff.