Good outweighs the Bad

Bad #1: Wednesday morning. Big E claimed she wasn't feeling well that morning and we reluctantly let her stay home despite the fact that she wasn't vomiting or running a fever. Since BB works at home it isn't a big upheaval when one of the kids stays home so I get to go on about my merry way, going to the gym, shopping, decadent lunching, manicuring, facialing, massaging, etc... while they stay home and wallow in their malaise. Well, maybe not the manicuring, facialing and massaging, but I went to the gym at least. Vindication was mine when I got home and she had developed a fever while I was out. I know it's wrong to be happy about the fever but I was really just happy to have concrete evidence to support my decision. Selfish me.

Good #1: SJ stopped by and treated us to two beautiful tomato plants. They smell so good. Did I say they were beautiful? I promise to do my very best by them and keep them alive.

Bad #2: School nurse calls at 2:50 pm. Never a good call to receive and this was no exception. Longtime readers will be familiar with Little A's inexplicable attraction to splinters and never one to let himself be outdone (even by himself) he picked up a whopper under his fingernail. I got a little woozy.

Bad #3: By Wednesday night, I determined that the wooziness was not just due to the splinter and I was in the sick bed. One side of my head had been filled with cement and my joints had morphed into those of an 87 year old. And my throat hurt.

Good #2: CCC came by with scrumptiously soothing chicken noodle soup and the cutest little melt-in-your-mouth candies Thursday afternoon. I reluctantly shared with Big E but BB and Little A were on their own. They weren't sick enough to warrant sharing such delight.

Good #3: CCC came BACK later with some black, tarry, nasty-smelling stuff to help draw the splinter out from under Little A's fingernail. Soaks in warm epsom salt had done nothing to help us get that sucker out, but this seemed worth a try. We globbed it on, covered it up and off he went to bed.

Bad #4: A few hours after bedtime, Little A toddled his way to my sick bed (that I'm sharing with Big E) and proceeded to puke all over the place...a few times. Sleep is hard to catch after a few episodes of The Vomitous.

Good #4: By 10am, Little A seemed to be on the mend and well enough to attempt further splinter removal. I scraped underneath his nail to show him how what I was about to do was just like cleaning his nails and the darn thing CAME RIGHT OUT. Everyone MUST get ichthammol ointment for their medicine cabinet. Read about it. It smells like asphalt, but goodness. I'm telling you I couldn't even SEE the splinter from the tip of his finger...it was only visible through his fingernail. Can you imagine? Even Dick Cheney would agree that pieces of wood shoved under fingernails is TORTURE. Poor little boy. Beautiful, black asphalt ointment.

Good #5: Literally moments after posting a Facebook status indicating the plague had struck our house, my doorbell rings and I find a big bowl of delicious cauliflower soup being thrust at me by KT. I have decided that soup is the BEST way to eat cauliflower. It is transformed from a smelly cruciferous vegetable into a succulent, creamy concoction of pure goodness.

We are all on the upswing now and should be back to the normal hustle and flow when the week starts tomorrow. And so the wonderful balance of life is continued.


Cheap labor

Weeks ago I'd committed to taking the Girl Scouts to this great sounding activity in central Austin to plant over 100 trees in a local park. They are working on racking up volunteer hours and the more involved with the environment, the better. To sweeten the pot a little more the organization was offering FREE breakfast. We're not just talking a stale bagel or nasty supermarket donut here. Breakfast tacos. An assortment of Einstein Bros. bagels and varieties of cream cheese. And coffee. Hot, steamy, velvety coffee. How could we not go, I ask you?

Of course, if I make plans for a weekend outdoor activity it seems inevitable that it is going to rain. No matter that we're in the middle of a Stage 47 drought and we haven't had any meaningful rain since I had at least one child in diapers. It rained. Not a lot, but just enough to get us a little wet and then feel chilly until we really got to working and the sun started to peek through. Lucky for the park they had way more people show up to plant the trees than they had trees themselves. We ended up spreading mulch, picking up trash and digging trenches for cut logs to help prevent erosion on the hillside. I don't think I've ever seen eight 9 & 10 year old girls have more fun working HARD before. After two hours they weren't ready to leave. It was a brilliant sight to behold.

After watching them work, and rake, and haul, and spread, and cut, and chop, and haul some more, I got to thinking. I've got a backyard where they can hone and perfect their already impressive skills. I'd offer breakfast tacos, bagels. Even powdered donuts. I'm frightened to know just what acts of atrocity my kids would do for a powdered donut. Think of the garden and wonderful vegetables and flowers! I'd take photos and post them here for all to see, so it wouldn't even be just for me. I'm a sharer! Would that be wrong?


The Bubble hasn't burst....yet

Today marks the two year point since that momentous day the world got its first glimpse at the wonder that is My Suburban Bubble. Caving to hours of unendurable peer pressure I finally succumbed and opened my heart and soul to the world of the Internet. Since then we've shared cleanses, vacations, kid's accomplishments, adventures in home gadgetry, various athletic events of the running, triathlon or biking sort, family arrivals, birthdays, the perils of politics, our separation from the world of cable, controversies, booger talk and much, much, much more. There have been ups and downs, fun times and struggles. In an effort to prevent this post from becoming the equivalent of the ever-reviled "clip show", I'll stop there.

Here we are, two years later. Dos anos. The primary purposes of this blog are still served. Vast, cavernous holes in my memory have been dammed and contacts with faraway friends and relatives, maintained.

An unintended outcome for the blog has been the pleasure I've found in the writing down of happenings, thoughts, and feelings surrounding our day to day lives. It is easy (SO EASY) to get caught up in the daily functions of keeping our routine clicking along that the little things, the nice things, the things I WANT to remember later, when these routines are mere memories, are recorded. And to pay attention to those times now, while in the process of becoming those soon-to-be treasured memories. I expect the next two years to sail by at least as quickly as the last. Then the next two. And on and on. By keeping a record of those days perhaps that time will not be gone but will simply pass. That seems MUCH more acceptable to me.

The Quiche by which to measure all Quiche

Always looking for something easy to throw together that can do double duty by serving as dinner for two nights in a row and get itself eaten by even the likes of Little A without the often obligatory "I REALLY hate THIS!", I have found myself turning to quiche more and more frequently. Usually the most acceptable form of quiche is something sans chunkage, nothing that's going to require too much chewing. One evening found my veggie drawer aching with leeks and mushrooms that were getting close to that point of being too skanky to eat. SO, I chopped them up nice and fine, sautéd in some butter and vóila! Mushroom Leek Quiche To Die For. Here 'tis:

Pie crust (I use RJ's recipe)
2 T unsalted butter
1 leek, chopped (white and light green parts)
1 cup of chopped mushrooms
1 cup of fresh chopped spinach leaves
1 t salt
1 t herb seasoning blend (my favorite is a Costco blend *Rustic Tuscan Seasoning
1 red potato, sliced thinly and steamed until firm/tender.
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated swiss cheese
3 eggs
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350. Pre-cook pie crust for 7 - 10 minutes. Heat butter in pan, add leeks, mushrooms, and spinach. Add salt, pepper and herb seasoning. Sauté until leeks and mushrooms are softened and spinach is wilted.

Mix mozzarella and swiss cheese together. Whisk together milk and eggs.

Sprinkle half of cheese on bottom of pie crust and top with half of leek mixture. Lay potato slices on top of leek mixture. Add half the remaining cheese over the potato slices and then the remaining leek mixture. Top with the rest of the cheese. Place pie pan on sheet pan, carefully pour in egg mixture. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, until quiche is set (knife inserted in center should come out clean). Cool 5 minutes before cutting.

I wish I had a picture because it was even pretty. But we'd already demolished half of it before the notion struck me. Next time I will be making two so I can have one in the freezer.

*Rustic Tuscan Seasoning from Costco:
Dehydrated garlic, sea salt, spices (rosemary, basil, black pepper, oregano, red pepper), dehydrated red and green bell peppers, lemon peel, dehydrated green onion.


We'll be coming down the mountain....

Last Wednesday I ran around the house frantically packing despite the fact that I had spent hours the day before making various piles throughout the house. Pile of coats. Pile of mittens and gloves. Pile of socks, snowboots, goggles, hats, etc... Piles of doggie belongings for her journey down the street to Coolboots K9 Camp. It doesn't matter how behind on packing I might be but the house has GOT to be clean before I can leave. The last thing I want to come home to is a messy house in need of a scrub. As I cleaned out the fridge and accumulated a nice sink full of food that wouldn't withstand the five day absence, the garbage disposal konked out in memorable fashion. After a stomach-turning disposal of the disposal contents we swooped through the school, picked up the kids, met our convoy partners and headed north to Lubbock, our pit stop halfway to Red River, New Mexico.

In case you had forgotten....Texas is big. It's like a whole other country I've heard tell. We traveled through small towns, bigger small towns, wind farms with eerily synchronized red flashing lights for miles and miles in the west Texas blackness, before finally making Lubbock around midnight. Whew. Long day.

Next day we finished the trek and made Red River in time to get all equipment, lift tickets, ski school reservations and even a swim in the pool (seriously???!). CCC and I peeked out the door long enough to get a photo but I stand firm in my belief that if snow is piled up around the pool then one should not be swimming in it. That's just me.

We hit the slopes bright and early the next day, enjoying some grown-up ski time while the kids spent their all-too-brief time in ski school. The weather was fantastic, the snow was really good, especially for New Mexico, and the crowds were relatively thin.

I did experience one of those split-second moments that seem as if the wheels of time suddenly get stuck and every second ticks by like minutes. Bubble Boy, CC, MC and Little A had just come down from an afternoon up the mountain killing the slopes, they get to the bunny slope, I'm hearing about the awesome-ness of Little A's abilities, when I look 30 feet below me where a snowboarder (f@&%ing snowboarders!) is careening down, out of control. He's digging in with his heels, making that infamous snowboard scraping sound, but still seeming to flail forward. Little A is innocently skiing along, so proud of what he's done. The snowboarder is headed straight at him. I see this. I know it's going to happen. But I'm too far away and what could I do even if I were closer? He's a grown man hurtling down a slope totally out of control. The snowboard hits, knocks A off his feet, he's falling backwards. Snowboarder is trying to fall forward over him. They're both down. Snowboarder is on top. I don't remember getting there, but I'm there, pulling A up. He's wiping the snow from his face looking stunned. Are you OK? Are you hurt? There's snow in my jacket, he says. Snowboarder looking dreadingly at me, expectantly waiting for me to get my maternal freak on. He offers lame apology. I decide it's better to say nothing. Relief that we've avoided what could have been something really, really bad. All is well until 30 minutes later A slips and face plants into packed snow, scraping up his face. My fault for asking him to stop climbing on the outside of the deck railing.

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Snow TripZ

I lost my glove from the chair lift trying to get this photo. It was worth it. Right after this shot, Little A asked me what my favorite thing was. You and Big E, I say.

His favorite thing in the wide, wide world? Skiing.

Good trip.


Rhetorical questions I just can't stop asking myself or anyone who happens to be unlucky enough to be near me. That would be you.

When will Republicans realize they lost? What makes them think they have ANY street cred to offer up to a stimulus bill? Hello?? Just who was it who got us here? Who was minding the house for the last eight years and earmarked, porked and cut our taxes all the way to the bottom of an economic demolition? Didn't they have their chance and screw it up nice and good? NOW? NOW they have ALL the answers and are really speaking up for the American people?? Now?? When will enough people speak up and tell THEM to get on board to help or sit down and shut up?

Ooooh. They make me so mad.


I *heart* you

Previous years have seen me scrambling at 10:30 the night before whatever Valentine festivities were to be taking place at school trying to throw together a last minute piece of paper vaguely resembling a Valentine, usually a square of pink paper with a heart drawn on and maybe a piece of candy taped on if it was a good year.

I have a Masters in Classical Procrastination Studies and have been known to call upon those finely honed skills with great frequency. But not this year! We are Cupid-ready, having spent the better part of yesterday addressing and candy-ing up little cards for two classrooms, two art teachers, two music teachers, two PE teachers, one principal, two asst. principals, and one crossing guard. We even managed a special Valentine mailbox which Big E believes will win one of several categories, probably Most Original. I don't know about that since we hardly invented the fine art of decoupage. If I'd had more gumption I'd have papiér machéd a heart-shaped receptacle, but that would have required more initiative than I could spare.

The sad thing is that we're ready but neither of the kids will be taking part in their class parties since we'll be heading off to ski in New Mexico. As excited as they are about skiing with their friends they are both very sad to miss out on their class parties. I remember missing my fourth grade Valentine's party because I had to have a root canal. It hardly compares, but here I am, almost thirty years later and I vividly REMEMBER the pain and angst I felt from missing that party. I'm pretty sure it wasn't just the root canal.


Clean and Crunchy

You may have noticed Suburban Bubble got a little spitshine today, polishing up the windows and sweeping the scary spiders and dustbunnies out the door. Since I can't motivate myself to finish the closet cleaning that commenced a solid month ago I figured why not try out about 200 new Blogger configurations? In between monitoring the goings-on over on Facebook with voyeuristic passion. This obsession is quickly becoming the equivalent of being a Target-aholic. Several trips to Target a week, each costing in the range of $50 - $100, and all you have to show for it is a double pack of Viva, a storage bin, and new measuring cups. Oy.

In other news I've been making some delightful granola when I can rip myself away from trying to figure out how to get my Flair to show up on my Profile page. I started making it for Bubble Boy whilst I was in the middle of the latest go-round of The Cleanse, so I had to take his word for it that the granola was not only edible, but very good. Finally got the chance to give it a whirl and I am in complete agreement. Previous attempts at granola had left me with what was basically bland chewy oats, but this turns out crunchy and sweet and just plain ol' yum.

Bubble Granola

4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cups oat bran
1/4 cup flax seeds
a combined total of 2 cups of whatever nuts you want (finely chopped). I've used pecans, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, & sunflower seeds.
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil.

2) Combine oats, oat bran, nuts/seeds in large bowl. Stir together salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, vanilla and almond extract in a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir to coat. Spread mixture evenly on baking sheets.

3) Bake in preheated oven until crispy and toasted. About 20 - 30 minutes. Stir once halfway through. Cool and stir in dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, etc..) before storing in airtight container.

Bubble Boy wants to try his hand at making yogurt. I'm afraid if we keep on this path we'll have goats in the backyard soon.


Looking for Mr. Goodbody

Today I drove two crazy girls and three stunned boys to see this:

Well, actually it was the modern version of Mr. Slim Goodbody, so the hair wasn't quite as puffy and the background colors weren't quite as earth-tone circa 1977. The New Slim utilizes a handy PowerPoint with 3d graphics and some catchy tunes to impart just how terrific our bodies are. There was a lot of giving ourselves a hand, patting ourselves on the back and shaking our own hands. If nothing else, Slim taught us to be our own best friend.

One recurring thought during the presentation was my hope that Slim is making a good living dancing around in his unitard for 4th graders. As someone who is terrified to speak in front of people under the best of circumstances the thought of standing in front of a group in a ridiculous (and not even anatomically complete) unitard singing goofy songs and dancing goofy dances is almost enough to bring me to a complete shut-down.

But the real news of the day is that Big E and her friend were maniacs in the car. I believe this to be brought on by the fact that there were three boys joining us in the mom-mobile so those girls cranked up the crazy like nobody's bidness! The boys sat in virtual silence in the back row, eyes wide and mouths agape as these girls basically laid down some pretty unforgettable memories on just what the future held for these poor boys. And they weren't encouraged.


Killing two birds with one stone

There's some tagging going on over on Facebook and I sat down this evening to list out 25 Random things about me. I think there is another list of this type in the archives of this blog. Maybe when I have time I will find it and compare lists.

1. I love comic book movies. Batman, Spiderman, Ironman, X-Men, Fantastic Four, 300. I could even argue that a certain vampire movie of recent months was kind of a comic book movie and therefore justify loving it despite the initial disappointment I felt after watching it.

2. My biggest pet peeve is the misuse of "their, "there", "they're", "two", "too" and "to". That is not to say that I never make those mistakes, only that it really bothers me when others do.

3. I grew up on a small farm in a small Oklahoma town. We made our own butter, shucked corn, snapped beans and shelled peas. Then canned 'til the sun didn't shine. We had a potato and onion cellar. I found a lot of snakes in the henhouse. I had a Shetland pony named Lucy Lightning. My fingers would be stained red when strawberries came out and I'd have peach juice up to my armpits when our neighbors peach trees made fruit and we froze gallons of peach slices. Thorn scratches on my arms and legs from plum and blackberry bushes. We had bees and collected honey and chewed honeycomb like gum. I fished and shot critters with my BB gun. There were a few summers with me in the back of a pick-up selling watermelons and/or tomatoes on the corner of our dirt road and the local two-lane highway. And many, MANY weekends working cattle. De-horning. De-worming. Ear notching. And.....yes, castrating. At the time, it seemed like torture. In retrospect, not so much. I'm sad my parents don't live there any more and my kids will miss out on those things.

4. My favorite foods are crabcakes, chicken salad and chocolate. Never noticed they all start with "c" before.

5. I played with Barbies well into my teen years.

6. The most famous person I've met is one of my writing heroes, David Sedaris. Met him with my friend, KT, who tagged me here. We giggled like schoolgirls when it was our turn to get books signed. We will forever be his "boozy friends" and I would like to have that engraved on my headstone, which is only fitting since I will be buried with my signed copy of Naked.

7. My first car was a 1979 Buick LeSabre. It was very green. Light green paint. Darker green roof vinyl. Medium green faux leather seats. Slightly darker green carpet. Trust me, it's not as sexy as it sounds. But it sure was sturdy. I graduated to an Oldsmobile Firenza after a year and I thought it was way cool since it had louvers on the rear window.

8. My first real job was working at Piccadilly cafeteria (just like David Sedaris!!). I started out bussing tables and was promoted to Salads after only a few weeks. The uniforms were brown double-knit with orange plaid aprons. I quit when the manager was going to make us "line girls" start wearing hairnets. It WAS at the mall and I have SOME dignity. $3.35 an hour just wasn't worth it.

9. I would love to have a cat. The day I realized I had developed a cat allergy (first pregnancy) was a gloomy one. We got a dog last year and I do love her. But a sweet cat to sit on my lap at night and keep me warm would be a good thing.

10. My new favorite cocktail is Dr. Pepper with vanilla vodka. Sinfully good.

11. I survived on Diet Mountain Dew, Snickers, Cool Ranch Doritos and Taco Bell for the last two years of college. I haven't had any of those particular "food" items in at least 10 years.

12. I love to read. After a string of heart wrenching books a few years ago I vowed never to read another tear-jerker. I've been true to that vow with one exception. Life is too short and has enough sorrow. I don't need to read about someone else's made up misery to know I am incredibly lucky.

13. Thanksgiving is fast becoming my favorite holiday. I wouldn't say it has completely usurped Christmas yet, but it's gaining fast.

14. I love thunderstorms and snow days. Not Western Kentucky kind of snow days, but the Austin kind where we just stay home, drink hot chocolate, make soup and play games or watch movies in our PJs.

15. Willy Wonka is my feel good movie for all time.

16. I have lived in five states. Oklahoma, Arizona, Wisconsin, California and Texas. Texas for the last nine years.

17. I love to cook and read cookbooks. I look forward to a day when my kids will appreciate something beyond pepperoni pizza. I also look forward to a day when I actually have time to cook.

18. I've never met a card game I didn't love. Oh, and board games! I don't really like video games but if someone talks me into playing one I get obsessive about it and find it hard to stop.

19. The Container Store is my happy place. I meander through the entire store every time I go. Even if I need only one thing.

20. I love the beach. And the mountains. I appreciate all landscapes with the exception of the desert.

21. I hate to admit it but I was a mean big sister. I like to think that I helped build my younger sister's character into the strong woman she is today by putting her through psychological boot camp for 15 years. I'm tagging her here in my continued attempts to compensate her for the years of abuse.

22. Most fun job: cocktail waitress in a bar called JW Bimbo's. I don't know what the "JW" stood for, but that was one fun job. Least fun job: Bill collector. You can understand why it would be the least fun. I was the nicest bill collector ever. And the least effective.

23. I have never liked macaroni and cheese. Blech. The strangest things I've eaten are squirrel and bear. Squirrel tasted like chicken. Bear tasted like...well...bear, I guess.

24. Having children continues to change who I am. They have made me appreciate things I previously took for granted or was so selfish I was not even be aware enough to take for granted. The range and depth of that love, joy, hope, and fear is scary as hell but I am so grateful for it.

25. I met my wonderful husband in a bar as my friend was attempting to set me up with his friend. We spent that first night playing a lot of foosball and jumping on a trampoline in the middle of the night. He stole my watch so I'd be forced to call him again. Six months later we were married.