But it's so cute!

I'm not sure who's more obsessed with animals - me or my daughter. We both love anything small and furry. Or large and furry. Or large and not furry. Basically, if it's warm-blooded, then we want one. I also love snakes, but I'm not sure I could bring myself to feed mice to one. Lila is terribly afraid of bees and mosquito hawks (of all things), but she nearly cried the other night when I wouldn't let her rescue a moth from Cookie. In fact, she did cry once when I found some disgusting-looking larva in my house and threw it away.

She wanted me to release it into the wild. Um, no. I was afraid it might be a termite or something. (Plus, it was totally grossing me out.)

If we had every animal that we've asked Doug to let us bring home, we would own (at least):

A dozen cats
A few dogs
A goat
A bird or two
A chameleon
Several cages of rodents - mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc.
A hedgehog
Two horses
A cow
A vegetarian python
A large tortoise
A sugar glider
A bunny

That's not even addressing the more exotic creatures we'd love to own. Like a koala.

For now, we content ourselves by visiting Cute Overload as often as possible.


Under Foot

I'm really not sure who's worse about being under foot - the kids or the cats.

The Kids: I have a tendency to suddenly change my mind about what I'm doing, stop, turn around, and walk the other way. The kids follow me around so closely that I end up tripping over one of them half the time. That happens daily. This evening, there were three adults in the kitchen, all doing various tasks to get dinner on the table. There were also three kids milling about, not doing anything helpful. I swerved to avoid an adult and ended up kicking Eli in the foot so hard that I gouged him with my toenail!

The Cats: Charlie is mostly brown, with black stripes. We have a floor mat in the kitchen that is roughly the same shade of brown. Charlie has a white belly and feet, but you can't really see them when he's laying with his legs all tucked under. He likes to lay on the brown mat, with his feet all tucked under him... in the dark. It's like he wants to be kicked! And Cookie, whose food bowl is right next to the kitchen island, likes to eat with his tail sticking straight out behind him. I don't even know how many times it's been stepped on!

Add to all of this the fact that I can barely walk through a room without hurting myself (let's not forget that I hurt my eye with a tissue while attempting to blow my nose) and it's practically a circus around here!


Food Waste Confession

Well, this was not a good week for No Waste Rules! The thyme, though I used it in two meals, went bad before I could use the rest.

The avocado was a loss due to my own negligence. Most of the avocados they had at the store that day were hard as rocks! I bought the ripest one I could find and brought it home. I made one cut into it with the knife and I could tell that it was nowhere near being ready to eat. Rather than putting it in the fridge, I put it back in the bowl on the counter. I don't know what I was thinking. By the time we tried cutting it again, it was gross. Doug ate some of it, but the rest had to go.

And don't be fooled by that celery. It may look okay, but it had achieved the flexibility of al dente pasta. Actually, it looks like it was approaching the color of pasta as well.

I am very happy to say, however, that I haven't had to throw away any leftovers in... long enough that I don't remember. That used to be my biggest problem. I would make dinner, pack up the leftovers, then let them sit in the fridge until they went bad. Do my children appreciate being presented with the same soup three nights in a row? No. Do I feel great knowing that I'm putting healthy food in front of my children every night, and not wasting any of it? YES!


A Ghost?

A couple of weeks ago, Eli spent the night with his grandparents and Lila stayed home with us. We were waiting for Doug to get home from work, so it was just Lila and myself in the house. I ran a bath for her, called out to let her know that it was ready, and stepped into the Little Girls' Room. I pulled the door mostly closed behind me and, um, sat down. A few seconds later, I saw something go past the crack in the door, heading into the bathroom. Naturally, I assumed it to be Lila heading for the bath.

When I came out of the bathroom, the first thing I saw was a small cradle in the middle of my bedroom floor, still rocking. It was creepy.

I looked around and Lila was nowhere to be seen. I walked over to the tub, thinking maybe she was just slumped down out of sight. All I saw was a half-dozen fairies at the bottom of the water, most of them face down. This was also creepy.

I think there's a baby-stealing, fairy-killing, ghost in our house. It's the only logical conclusion.


Runaway Mom

The Two Dwarves - Sleepy and Shifty
Oh. My. Goodness.

This was a long and exhausting day! Lila was in rare form and she ended up spending a fair chunk of time alone in her room. She flat-out refused to do her school work several times. I'm the type of person who has a very hard time deviating from a set routine or schedule. If I am given a list of homework assignments to be done on homeschool days, then I want to do them in order, from beginning to end. This does not fly well with Lila's personality, so I make an effort to be flexible and let her make as many decisions about our school day as I can. We run into problems, however, when she doesn't like any of her choices and decides to go on strike.

I am pleased to say that I kept my cool through 95% of the chaos. I didn't start getting agitated and snippy until around 3:30. At that point, I shut it all down and sent the kids into the back yard. We will have extra schoolwork to do tomorrow, but at least I didn't yell at anyone! Once I had given up on any further schooling, I desperately wanted to crawl under a rock (or my comforter) and not come out for several hours. I sent Doug a message, begging him to let me disappear for the evening and he agreed -- God bless him! I somehow managed to bathe the children before he got home from work and then I split.

I spent an hour at Mama Fu's and an hour at Barnes & Noble and I am feeling much restored. When I got home, Doug was putting the kids to bed. I went up to their room to kiss them goodnight...

Lila: "Mom, where were you?"
Me: "In a faraway land--"
Doug: "--called Barnes & Noble--"
Me: "--where I was surrounded by books and silence."

Then I kissed my dubious children on the head and left the room with a peaceful smile upon my face.


Warning: Post Written Under Influence of Headache

I think this is the first evening in a week that I've been able to sit in a quiet room and type. It's this perfect little window of time while Doug is putting the kids to bed - the distractions of the day are done, but I haven't turned my brain off yet. I haven't had it for several days because Doug was sick, then there was the weekend, and then a school meeting last night. Since Christmas, it seems like there have been unusual circumstances popping up to muck with my schedule.

Tonight, all is as it should be. (Almost.) I cooked a wonderful corn chowder for dinner and we were able to relax together afterward. Now Doug is putting the kids to bed and the only sounds I'm hearing are the ones I want to hear. Now, if this headache would go away, it would be a near-perfect evening! I call this an Onion Headache. Cutting onions gives me headaches and makes my eyes feel icky for hours afterward. I am allergic to them and I don't even have to eat the silly things to have a reaction! I would quit cooking with them if they didn't add such good flavor!

(There are several foods that I cannot eat raw, due to allergies, but they don't bother me when cooked.)

I had a funny conversation about food with Eli yesterday. He was having The Usual for lunch - a peanut butter and pepperoni sandwich - and asked me if I'd like some pepperoni with my sandwich. There followed a very sweet discussion about why I choose not to eat animal products most of the time. He was really thinking about it and asking good questions. Then, he must have been considering whether or not he wanted to make the same commitment because he was quiet for a moment, then he said, "Dere's not many fings dat I eat.

I guess he realized that cutting animal products out of his diet leave him with very few food choices. He's a very thoughtful little guy. I am so fascinated by my children's personalities!


There will be NO photo with this post, thank you.

I had just taken a shower. I stepped out and dried off. My eye was hurting like there was something in it. I leaned in very close to the mirror and pulled my eyelid down. There it was! An eyelash, poking me in the eyeball. I began to carefully nudge it out with my finger.

Meanwhile, my children were plotting evil. They crept up to the bathroom door. They let out ear-splitting shrieks. They took off running. I almost lost an eye. They are lucky that I was naked and they were fast.

Since they got such a delightful reaction out of me the first time, the sneak-up-and-scream became a game. I tried to ignore them and go about my business of getting dressed. The runninng (they became less sneaky with each round) and screaming got annoying.

I heard them coming. I snuck out of the bathroom and into my bedroom. As Lila rounded the corner into my room, I jumped out and yelled. She screamed and ran. I won. Hah! . . . Then I noticed that she was carrying her video camera. Did she have that with her the first time?

So, my daughter may or may not have video evidence of me nearly poking my own eye out. In front of a full-length mirror. While naked. With a towel on my head. I should make sure that disappears before she's old enough to have her own Facebook page.


I'm not as hostile as I look. I swear!

I am one of those people who never likes any photo of themselves. I am guaranteed to find a dozen things that make me look like a troll. Obviously, it's the pictures that are terrible and not me!

This photo from Christmas morning is no exception, but it does crack me up. I look like I'm about to use that lamp as a weapon against the photographer, who happens to be my husband. ("I ask for a kitten, and this is what you get me?" - Angela Peeler, in the Sitting Room, with the Lamp) I am also a little frightened by my eyebrows. Do they look that narrow in real life?!? Nah, must be the picture... If you look out the window, it appears that we opened our presents in the middle of the night. That's totally not true though. It was at least 4 a.m. when the first child came into our room!

I had another Mommy Meltdown this afternoon. I deal with disrespect and argument on a regular basis. My children are young (and related to me), so I expect this. Most of the time, it doesn't really get to me. It's annoying, sometimes amusing, but I have hope that these people will someday turn into well-functioning members of society. And maybe they'll even begin to treat me with gratitude and respect. Like, when they're 60. Anyway, with Lila contradicting every sentence that came out of my mouth and Eli talking over us and making demands like some pampered prince... I totally blew my cool. There was yelling. There was apologizing (me, not them). There was a concerted effort to make it through the rest of the day without yelling (again, me, not them). I think we'll all survive.

If they stop trying to tell me what to do.

I was even a softie with Eli this morning. I let him skip his last swim class because there was going to be a substitute teacher and he was pretty anxious about it. I am usually rather firm with the "If we pay for it, then you will go" rule, but I didn't want to force it this time. He hated swim class in the summer. And then he liked it and proclaimed that he wanted to keep taking classes in the fall, so we signed him up. Then he hated it. Then he loved it. Most recently, he's hating it again. He doesn't like to put his face in the water because it makes his eyes sting. But he also doesn't like to wear goggles because they are "too tight". If you loosen the goggles until he is comfortable, then water starts leaking in and stinging his eyes and we're right back where we started. [shakes head and rubs temples]

Recently, he and Lila both decided they'd rather do gymnastics again, so we're wrapping up swim (Eli - this week) and violin (Lila - end of the month). In February, they'll be back to taking simultaneous gymnastics classes and I'll have a guaranteed 45 minutes per week with no whining. Sounds good to me!


I am typing this in a state of bliss.

One of my very favorite places to eat, before discovering my gluten intolerance, was Texadelphia. In fact, I ate there weekly while I was pregnant with Eli. They have great cheese steaks and (nearly) perfect french fries! Sadly, there is nothing gluten-free about the place, so we had to stop eating there two years ago and I've been mourning the loss ever since. The other day, I was craving a cheese steak so badly that I decided I would take us there, bring my own gluten-free bread, and ask them for a bowl of meat and toppings to go on it. Once I got some other food into my body, I realized that what a bad idea that was.

Skip forward to today. This was my week to choose our restaurant for Family Dinner Out and I decided on Wholly Cow Burgers. Doug and I ate there once before, on a date night, and I had a burger. It was super-tasty, but the french fries left something to be desired. However, it's the only place around here (that I know of) where you can get gluten-free buns and I was craving meat. We got to the counter... I looked at the menu... and saw... Wholly Cheesesteak! With bated breath, I asked if they could serve that on gluten-free bread - and they said yes! (Cue the trumpets!)

This is what my face looked like when I saw the menu.

It was the best thing I have ever tasted. I devoured the entire thing with all the passion that two years of unfulfilled craving can produce. The meat was perfectly cooked and the whole thing was gooey with cheese. It was the most un-vegan meal in the world and I loved it! I confessed to Doug that I was feeling particularly affectionate toward the person who had cooked my cheese steak and he escorted me out of the restaurant before I could start embarrassing anyone.

To all my Gluten-Free Austinite friends: Go directly to Wholly Cow and order the Wholly Cheesesteak on gluten-free bread. You will thank me.*

*I accept thanks in the form of Wholly Cow gift cards.


I like my kids. A lot.

I think Lila's favorite Christmas gift this year was the Barbie digital video camera that she got from Grammie and Papa Joe. I take a peek at her recordings every now and then and I've found some pretty entertaining things on there. She recorded parts of the Christmas celebrations, of course. She has followed both cats and her brother around, harassing them with the camera. She has recorded little scenes acted out with toys. She conspired with Grammie to record some news and weather reports.

I love it!

I have finally gotten serious about trying to teach Eli something before he goes to Pre-K. He's picked up most of his knowledge and skills by natural ability and observing his sister. He can count pretty well, up to 20. (Although he has an inexplicable bias against the number 12. We've tried to convince him that you can't just decide to skip a number because you don't like it. So far, he's standing firm.) He's got wicked fine motor skills too. He is as good at Jenga as I am and he is so good at coloring that he's spurred Lila to try harder!

Now if only they could be in the same room for more than 30 seconds without getting into a fist fight...


MORE Food Waste? Really?!?

Boy, I'm having a hard time getting back on the horse after Christmas break and being sick! Thus my second food waste confession in a week. Boo.

I think it's helping that school started back up this week. I made it to the gym today, which is a step in the right direction. Now I need to get our fridge under control, stop napping during the day, and start blogging in the evenings again. One step at a time, I guess.

This one I don't feel too bad about. I diced an entire bell pepper and put it in the fridge for sprinkling on salads. This was all that was left when it finally went bad. Using it the whole thing would have been better, but I'll settle for most of it. Especially given all the extra eating-out we did around Christmas!
These are chives. I only used a little of them and then they sat in the crisper drawer until they were far from crisp. I just didn't know what to do with them, so I avoided them. Typical. I suppose I should have chopped them up and added them to salads too.
Finally, a bunch of parsley. I used some for a recipe and then it suffered the same fate as the chives. I don't like parsley well enough to put it on just anything. I guess I'd better be more deliberate about making a plan for the leftovers next time, rather than waiting for some divine inspiration to hit me.
I made a delightful soup last night (which you might have already heard me complain talk about on Facebook). Rosemary White Bean Soup. It was supposed to be for last night's dinner, but the dumb beans wouldn't get soft! It took three hours of simmering (on top of the 10 hours of soaking) before they were finally done. Needless to say, we came up with a Plan B for last night's meal and had the soup tonight. It was so very tasty and worth the wait! I paired it with GF Rosemary and Herb Focaccia and salad and YUMMY! It was a big pot of soup, so we should be working on this one for a few days.
Challenge to myself: Tomorrow I will take stock of all that is in the refrigerator. I will throw away what has already gone bad (maybe i'll get lucky and there won't be anything!) and make specific plans for everything else.
You guys hold me to that, okay?


I am having trouble with Blogger for some reason. When I try to upload a photo, the dialogue box pops up... but key elements of it are missing.



Easing Back Into Things

I figured I'd miss a few posts during the week of Christmas. There was just too much fun being had and our schedule was all over the place.
What I did not anticipate was the five days I'd be spending in bed once Christmas was over. It was gnarly. I'm feeling much better now, but I'm still pretty tired.
That being said, I think I'll ease back into things with a Food Waste Confession.

This is a delightful Tuscan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce that I bought back in October. I ate it a couple of times before I took a second look at the label and discovered that it had milk in it. Since I strive to be strictly vegan at home, I quit eating it and no one else paid any attention to the poor lonely jar of sauce. I couldn't bring myself to throw it away while it was still good, so I let it sit in the fridge until it started getting furry.
Very logical, Angela. 

These are the remains of a bunch of cilantro and I'm actually quite proud of this one! I am pretty sure that this is the closest I have ever come to finishing off a bunch of cilantro. I chopped the whole bunch, put it in this container, and added it to every salad and dish that crossed my path until it went to the Slimy Place.
Oh, and one more thing. I was looking through one of our refrigerator drawers earlier and spotted what appeared to be a tub of bleu cheese crumbles. Since no one in my family can stand bleu cheese, I took a second look. It was actually a tub of feta cheese crumbles that had gone blue. Ick. That went straight into the garbage can. (Honestly, I can't imagine that it tasted much different than real bleu cheese.)