Monday, August 31, 2009

Blue Daze

They flaunt their little blue flowers in the face of the scorching sun and sweltering heat! They laugh at the lack of rain and they PERSIST! All hail to the only thing thriving in my flower bed!

Nesting, or something like that.

Maybe it's the back-to-school hype, maybe it's the imminent change of seasons, maybe it's just my own internal clock, but late summer-early fall always seems to be a time of change and reflection for me. I never make New Year's resolutions, but late August is usually when I set my goals for the coming year and try to figure out how to accomplish said goals. And of course, as a homeschooler, my main goal for the year is ensuring that my children LEARN something.

Now while most public school kids are already in the thick of things, my children have been reveling in books, computer games and movies the last couple of weeks while I have been tackling tedious tasks. Organizing the hall closet where board games, school supplies and art supplies are kept, cleaning and organizing the utility room (which in our home also doubles as an overflow for art and science supplies), going through our curriculum deciding what we're using for the Monkey this year and looking for stuff that might work for the Piggy as well and in general trying to get this house to a manageable level of clean. Manageable level of clean, HA! I don't even know exactly what that is. And trying to reach that level while two active, bored children are living hard in it has been impossible! Maybe if it wasn't 160*F outside and I could send them OUTDOORS to play I could achieve the elusive "clean house" but no chance when they're cooped up inside! I do feel a slight sense of accomplishment though, the really big stuff is done and now I'm down to a few small projects (making felt boards and activity bags) and working on September lesson plans. I feel a little more confident this year. Maybe I'm starting to get the hang of this homeschool thing, or maybe I'm just slow on the uptake and haven't realized the enormity of the task yet! Either way, I feel as though I'm in a slightly euphoric state. I wonder how long that will last?

I am taking the rest of the week to continue with my preparations and enjoy a nice 3-day weekend with Big Daddy and the kids before getting down to business next Tuesday. Then it's back to the flow of a daily routine, back to the sounds of pencils scratching on paper, back to blowing things up with vinegar and baking soda, back to glue and paint and art to decorate my fridge. For some reason, the thought soothes me. It sounds so simple and harmonious, the epitome of homeschool bliss! So all of my fellow homeschoolers HUSSSHHHH! Let me enjoy the fantasy for just another week! Then we can all laugh about reality when I see you at the park!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Infernal Summer

It's funny. I've been reading all of my favorite blogs lately and all of the ones from Central Texas have a recurring theme... THE HEAT! And we're not talking typical summertime heat, we're talking fire and brimstone heat... smoldering, sweltering, mind-numbing heat... might as well be standing in the mouth of a goddamn volcano heat... feeling like Kate Capshaw being lowered into the fiery pit in the "Temple of Doom" kind of heat!


We're talking the kind of heat that has driven many of us into hibernation. I feel like an African Lungfish rolled up inside a tomb of mud wishing and waiting for a deep drenching rain to set me free from my prison!

Children have been banished to the indoors to keep them from melting or heat-stroking. The Monkey Man tried to scooter a couple times in the evening, but inevitably came in streaked with sweat, red-faced, grumpy and exhausted. Needless to say it has been the summer of reading and movies! Thank goodness for Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Labyrinth and anything Disney-Pixar! I mean you know it's entirely too hot when you don't even want to brave the heat to go to the POOL! What's the point anyway? It's like a damn jacuzzi. I'd be better served going upstairs and filling up the garden tub with COLD water. But wait, it's been so hot that ALL water that exits a faucet is lukewarm. The only cold water here is what's in the fridge! And speaking of water, it's to the point that I don't dare leave the house, even to run a few errands without at least one full bottle of water. I don't want me or the kids dying while waiting on AAA if the damn car keels over!

The air conditioner for the house has broken twice this summer along with my car's AC! Almost every family I know has dealt with some form of AC malfunction in the last 3 months. The damn things just can't keep up, they're over-taxed running all the time!

The garden was a joke! What started out in March as a lush, green promise of the bounty to come, became wilted, yellowed and withered. Green beans shriveled, peppers grew, but never flowered, eggplants just never grew, and tomatoes were overcome with wilt in the 100 degree heat. I did learn that black-eyed peas, okra and basil are all hearty sons o' bitches! I have nothing else left, but okra and basil are running rampant! Good thing I like both or this garden would have been a total loss for this season! Even the sunflowers went belly-up! SUNFLOWERS!

Thankfully I was able to escape this hell-hole for a couple of weeks, retreating to the mild temperatures of the New Mexico mountains! In fact, if this is going to be the status quo for Texas summers, I'm going to up and MOVE to New Mexico every summer from here on out!

But alas, we finally got some rain last night! Yes, you read right, RAIN, R-A-I-N, RAIN. Liquid precipitation. Condensation of atmospheric water vapor. Life-giving droplets of joy! Of course it rained for a whopping 2-1/2 minutes at my house (nothing but a tease), but it WAS rain. It made the ground wet, it lowered the temps by 15 degrees if even for a few hours. So although it's supposed to be over 100 degrees yet again today, I have hope that El Nino is gonna kick in and bring us some relief! If not, I'm packing up my shit and moving to Ruidoso until January!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

For the love of tortillas!

Yes, I know... ANOTHER food post. What can say, food is a big deal in our house and Mama got a brand new toy! I happened across a new Mexican market and took a chance that they might have a tortilla press. I have been wanting to make my own flour and corn tortillas for some time. I mean really, I refuse to buy sliced bread because of all the preservatives and ingredients I can't pronounce, but I've still been buying pre-packaged tortillas! What's up with that? And let's be honest, most store-bought tortillas taste like flexible cardboard anyway! So last evening, armed with my new press and a recipe straight out of my favorite New Mexican cookbook, the Monkey Man and I tackled flour tortillas!

First you've gotta get your dough going. Flour, baking powder, shortening, salt and water. 5 ingredients and I can pronounce them all! SWEET! It's kind of a sticky dough. I learned quickly that leaving my wedding ring on was stupid! I spent 20 minutes rinsing and picking little pieces of dough from in between the stones and tines! Some people use a pastry cutter, I just used my hands. Sticky, but it's easier to judge the consistency. I rolled it into a nice ball and let it rise for 20 min.

After it had time to rise a little, I sectioned it off and made little balls.

And into the press! Now, I have to say, life would have been better had I realized ahead of time that I was out of wax paper. I ended up using plastic wrap, which worked but not as well. The Monkey Man enjoyed testing his strength with the new press, HRRRRRMMMMPH!

I used my big cast iron skillet on medium heat to cook them. No oil required, the shortening in the dough keeps it from sticking. The Monkey Man was in charge of flipping!

Don't these look awesome? They turned out a little thicker than I was expecting even though I seriously flattened the holy hell out of these things, but as they cooked, they plumped up. I was a bit worried... that is until the first one was finished, I slapped a little butter on it (you have to try them out to make sure they're edible) and the Monkey Man and I reveled in the sheer AWESOME-NESS of our creation!

Once tortillas were finished I set them in a warm oven and prepped the rest of the meal. I talked Big Daddy into grilling a lovely pork tenderloin that had been marinating all day in chile powder, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper and olive oil. I sliced some avocados, made a nice little pico de gallo, shredded some cheddar (although had I had Monterey Jack I think it would have been better) and made a little pan of black beans with tomatoes, onions and cilantro. Needless to say, I was STARVING by the time it hit the table!

So here it is, my masterpiece... Little Mama's Taco Magnifico with pork! Can I get a "HELL YEAH!"? And yes, the Monkey Man and I shared a few hi-fives after we tasted it!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pizza time!

We love PIZZA! However, we are pizza snobs. Big Daddy and I used to get marvelous pizza in Oregon at a little place called Pizzacato, but we have found no such place here in Texas. Sorry, but Domino's, Gatti's and Pizza Hut just don't cut it! So what does a Little Mama do? She figures out how to make pizza dough in her bread machine, cooks up a recipe for homemade sauce and enlists the help of children to make her own gourmet pizza at home! And it gets better and better every time we make it!

First we roll the dough out on a pizza stone...

Then we cut up fresh yummy ingredients. My kids like LOTS of veggies!

Next, let kids "decorate" the pie.

A masterpiece ready for the oven!

And DONE! One gourmet super-duper-combo pizza made from scratch! And I can tell you from experience, when it comes to pizza, there are never too many cooks in the kitchen! The more the merrier! Did I mention we LOVE pizza!

Friday, August 14, 2009

15 years...

Fifteen years ago, Big Daddy placed this ring on my finger and promised to love me forever! It's hard to believe we've put up with each other's crap for that long! ;) Seriously though, I can't imagine life without him. He's my lobster!

So, lately folks have been asking me what the secret is to my long, happy marriage. Well, let's start by saying I'm no Dear Abby or nothin', but I'll give it a shot. I don't necessarily think a long, happy marriage is dependent on some elusive element or secret that only certain people are able to find. I found in my circumstance that a good foundation was the key. Big Daddy and I lived together for 3 years before we married! At that point in time, there were no secrets, no weird quirks of personality, I KNEW exactly what I was getting myself into, annoying habits and all! Of course it never hurts to actually LOVE the person you marry. Granted in the beginning, ours was that typical lustful love. Love that ached when we were apart and flourished when we were together. Then that love evolved into that awesome "comfortable" love. The kind of love that lets you know you're needed, you're safe, and most of all... you're HOME. The love that sees past the zits, the gas, the bedhead, the dirty house, and the occasional shitty mood. This kind of love moves well beyond physical attraction and tethers itself firmly into your heart and soul where you know that your mate is your ultimate partner, your very best friend, your SOUL mate. I didn't marry Big Daddy because of his looks, I didn't marry him for $$$, I married him because I truly loved HIM! He was my BEST friend and I truly wanted to spend my life with him. It was really that simple.

I think the most common misconception though is that once you get to the alter it's cake from that point on. Au contraire, mon frere, that's when you gotta work! This is where all of those pesky things like honesty, communication, respect and patience come into play. You think it's easy living with the same person for 15 years?!? You're unbelievably high if you do! And it's even harder once you throw kids into the mix! WAY HARDER. Once kids enter the picture, your concern over the rearing of the children overwhelms the need for nurturing your relationship which can put a strain on even the most solid marriage. I think it's the little things though, the fact that Big Daddy still wakes me up to say goodbye before he goes to work. Just that little act, to tell me he loves me every morning. Or holding on to each other's hands so hard when we're driving down the freeway with two fighting, screaming, obnoxious little punk-asses in the back seat! At least you still have that connection, that lifeline with the one other person who totally feels your pain and who is gonna ride it out with you no matter what.

You gotta roll with the punches. You are NEVER gonna be perfect. Your spouse is NEVER gonna be perfect. You're gonna say stupid shit sometimes and your spouse is gonna say stupid shit sometimes. And you're totally gonna piss each other off on occasion. It's inevitable, it's life. But as long as you can HONESTLY (notice I capitalized that) discuss things WITHOUT being hurtful or mean, you will be amazed at how things can work their way out.

So there's my two cents on a long, happy marriage. LOVE, SOLID FOUNDATION, HONESTY, COMMUNICATION, RESPECT and PATIENCE. The perfect fairy tale marriage doesn't exist. I'm not saying people can't be perfect for each other, I'm just saying no matter how well you're matched, you still have to WORK at it, you still have to nurture it and even after 15 years, you still have to make concessions, you still have to say you're sorry on occasion, you still have to trust, and you still have to BELIEVE in your marriage and your spouse. And most of all, you still have to dream of a long, happy life together. Now that Big Daddy and I have reached this milestone of 15 years, I am looking forward to spending the next 5, 10, 35, 40+ years together!

Happy Anniversary Big Daddy! I am so glad to be spending my life with YOU! Big love from your Little Mama.!

Monday, August 10, 2009


You ever just hit the wall and wonder what the fuck you're doing? I'm there.

I feel an obsessive need to get my shit together and make some changes. I don't think I'm having a mid-life crisis, but who knows, maybe I am!?! And it's not that I am unhappy, it's just that things aren't quite where I want them to be and it drives me nuts!

I crave organization, but seriously lack in that department.

I want a home with a yard where my children can play outside without being scorched or eaten alive by fire ants.

I want to figure out a way to balance homeschooling the Monkey Man while providing positive and personal interaction for my Piglet. I feel for the Piggy, so much time and effort has been placed into the education of the boy that the little girl sometimes gets lost in the wash and I HATE that! She deserves the same one-on-one time that he had!

I want stronger, more meaningful relationships with my family and friends. In this day and age, things seem so much more superficial. It's like I see your status on Facebook and for some reason I am satisfied that this is communication and friendship. WHY? It's positively ludacris! I want to SEE my friends, I want to BBQ with my family, I want a level of connection that transcends online networking and email. Is that even possible anymore?

I want something for me. I am so lucky that Big Daddy's folks have moved to town and now I have the ability to make something for myself and I am chomping at the bit to do so! It's been so long since I've been anything but "Mommy" I'm just not quite sure how to venture out into the big bad world to stake my claim. It's scary! I have definitely decided that I'm not coming out to play by the rules of others, if I'm going to leave the relative safety of my stay-at-home mama status, I'm going to do what I LOVE. I refuse to compromise. The fact is, something of my own will take me away from my family at times and therefore it better be something I LOVE or it just won't be worth it!

So there it is. All the little naggings in the back of my brain, slowly working their way to the forefront of my mind. Do I listen, do I tempt fate and embrace the notion of change? It seems like the season. I suppose a new dawn brings new beginnings and I should just greet the dawn and be open to the possibilities!