Thursday, June 23, 2011

Big News!

Thanks to you, I'm moving up in the world.  Thanks to you, this blog has seen enough action to warrant a little something...more.

Thanks to you, dear readers, I am here to announce a new site, where I will blog faithfully for your,

a) entertainment
b) edification
c) entertainment

Please come see me at

You see, some people are put on this earth to make others feel better about themselves.  I am one of those people.

It's a calling, I tell you.

When you fall down, come to me and I will tell you about the time I fell down in the street in front of my house, under the weight of a full-sized upright bass.

When you do something socially awkward, come to me and I will tell you about the time I (accidentally) gave the pastor's (young, unmarried) daughter a bottle of Edible Body Souffle.  In a very public setting.

When you ruin dinner and set off your smoke alarm, when you scream your fool head off at your husband/children/dog, when you promise to bake 12 dozen cookies and then forget all about it, when you forget pretty much anything...come to me and I will make you feel better about yourself by sharing my foibles.

It's a calling.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Universal Plight of Mothers

I've noticed recently, through poolside conversations, neighborhood conversations, text and email conversations, and conversations in the church kitchen while prepping snacks for Vacation Bible School children, that we who occupy that most blessed station of life known as Motherhood are suffering.

We are suffering as we attempt to establish summertime routines.
We are suffering with children who won't go to bed.
We are suffering with children who won't get up.
We are suffering with households held captive by incessant boredom.
We are suffering with the growing pains (or lack thereof) of young adults, freshly returned from the freedoms of college and now sitting on our couches, jobless, eating all our food with their feet up.
We are suffering with the guilt of raising our voices when we should have remained calm.
We are suffering with the guilt of raising our voices when we should have remained calm.
We are suffering with the guilt of raising our voices when we should have remained calm.
We are suffering with children who do not want to participate in the activities we have selected for their summer fun.
We are suffering with children who want to participate in more activities than our budgets will allow.
We are suffering with children who push and demand and strive for more freedom than we think safe, or wise.
We are suffering with children who, although brought up to reap the benefits of hard work, seem to have been infected with a virulent strain of entitlement.
We are suffering with children who are never, ever full.
We are suffering with days that are too short.
We are suffering with days that never end.
We are suffering because none of this is going how we thought it would go when they were tiny and sweet-smelling, and the world was a bright, hopeful place.

Here's the thing, mothers.  We are all in this together.  Not a one of us is perfect.  No matter what we thought when they were new (or when they were prodigies who could recite the alphabet before age two), no child is perfect.

Perfection is not what we are aiming for, either for ourselves or for our children.

If you're aiming for perfection, stop.  Instead, look around you and take comfort in all the other imperfect mothers raising imperfect children.  Take comfort in the public meltdowns and sagging pants.  Take comfort, but never joy, in the poor manners and wrinkled clothes.  Take comfort in the exasperated sighs of your fellow mothers.

And then..

Aim for more love than voice-raising.  Aim for more good times than bad.  Aim for more positive reinforcement than (absolutely necessary) consequences.  Train your children in the way they should go, and even though they chafe and roll their eyes now, know that the knowledge of what is right and good and true will be stored away in their hearts for safe-keeping. (Proverbs 22:6, my interpretation)

*Mothers of young children, listen to me.  The best gift you can give yourself (and your children, truly) is to quit caring what other people think of your kids' behavior.  The things I most regret involve parenting for someone else's benefit.  Parenting for someone else's approval.  Parenting in a way that (ridiculously) demanded perfection.  If you can let that go now, you will be light years ahead of me and I will rejoice on your behalf.

Since we're all in this together, let's quit judging one another and our offspring.  Let's hold each other up in prayer.  Let's commiserate when appropriate.  Let's encourage.  Let's keep our eyes on the prize.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.(Hebrews 12:1-2)

In my humble opinion, the prize is this:
1. Children who know and love and serve the God who knows and loves them.
2. Self-sufficient people who can one day leave us to live happy, healthy, productive lives.

And that's all.  There are so many things that I do (or make them do) that don't contribute to these goals.  I want to weed out the unnecessary and focus on the prize at hand.  I want to run this race.  I want to encourage you to run this race, and that's all.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Wonder Hub's Big Day

The poor, beleaguered Wonder Hub had the misfortune of celebrating his 40th birthday on Father's Day.  If it had been me, I would have either

a) thrown a fit, because having two major holidays on the same day is a rip-off, or
b) declared that it didn't matter, seeing how I celebrate my birthday month,

depending on my mood, the phase of the moon, and the attitudes of resident teenagers.

The WH took it in stride, as he is wont to do.

I tried to extend the celebration and spoil him a wee bit more than usual.  On Saturday, we went to the house of some friends for a barbeque.  At this barbeque, among kicking Moose's hiney at singing "It's Tricky" on SingStar and other weird things that I will not mention, we sang "Happy Birthday" and made the WH blow out the 4-0 candles on the cheesecake I either

a) worked my fingers to the bone making from scratch, or
b) bought from Costco.

weird thing I will not mention

Meanwhile, back at the homestead, our dear friends Robert and Julie were slaving away to assemble the basketball hoop I had purchased for the birthday boy.  In addition to hefting and leveling and figuring out just the right location for the imposing structure, Julie ran interference with concerned neighbors and Robert managed to decipher ambiguous directions while allowing his 8-year old son to assist.

The effects of their labors were marvelous.  When we turned the corner, there it was, front-and center in the driveway.

"What is THAT?" was the Wonder Hub's astounded response to our collective giggling. 
"Happy birthday!" we all cried, as boys tumbled out of the truck and onto our new court, where they played 'til dark.

I'm pretty sure the (all girl house) neighbors are thrilled with the constant thump, thump, thumping.  We set off their car alarm twice that first night.  I'm probably going to have to do a lot of baking to make up for it, but it will be totally worth it.

Sunday morning I gave the WH a gift certificate for a massage, which we sent him off for after church.  After a lazy afternoon of "Burn Notice" reruns and general sloth, we grilled this recipe, steamed rice, pulled this pasta salad out of the fridge, packed it all to the table on the deck, lit some candles and chowed down.

kabob photo op

After dinner, we brought out the red raspberry streusel and lit the obligatory trick candles, sang and made the WH blow them out over and over until someone accused him of spitting on the streusel. 

When it was all said and done, when he'd opened his gifts from the boys, when the table was cleared and the bellies were full, I smooched him sweetly and said,

"Now you're as old as me.  Ha."

Monday, June 20, 2011


This is Ozzy.

He thinks he owns the place.

Molly lets him believe it, until he messes with her duck.

Friday, June 17, 2011

He's Bringing Sexy Back...

Seriously, does it get any sexier than this?

I was leaving the house with car keys, a young adult, and a metal detector.  I was sighing repeatedly.  And rolling my eyes.  The WH, not quite willing to take on the task at hand and feeling (rightfully) guilty about it, asked,

"Is there anything here I can do for you?"

I pointed to four months worth of ironing, rolled my eyes again, and left.  When I returned two hours later, this is what I found.  The thought that leapt to my mind was..

THAT is the sexiest thing I have ever seen.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Random Thursday

1. The Wonder Hub and I celebrated our anniversary this week.  He brought me flowers and a card.  The card was sweet, and thoughtful.  And Mahogany.

2. School is officially out tomorrow.  For the last month or so, I have been having nightmare-ish dreams in which the boys appear to be zombies.  In every dream they are chasing me in that dream sequence slo-mo, and it's terrifying.  They march towards me, arms straight out in front as they keep repeating a single word.


They won't stop chasing me and I'm in a total panic because I can't find enough food to keep them fed.  The fridge is bare.  I keep chucking empty pasta boxes in their general direction as I flee.  Whipping granola bars at their creepy zombie heads only slows them down for seconds.  In the dream I'm sure that I will be their short-lived feast if they ever catch me!

Did I mention that school is out tomorrow?

3. Out of the blue yesterday Bubba mentioned the restaurant Buca di Beppo.  He was hungry (see above).  He likes the sound of Buca di Beppo as it rolls off his tongue.  He was hungry.  He only vaguely remembers the restaurant, but asked me to tell him the story of the first (and only) time we dined there.  It's a gggrreat story.

It was one of the (or possibly the) first official dates the Wonder Hub and I shared.  We took the children, as single parents sometimes do, and headed to this family-style Italian restaurant.  Things were going swimmingly until the moment the food arrived and one of the children (who will remain nameless as he is now a teenager) crawled under the large booth-style table and gloriously filled his diaper.  So glorious was this filling that even in the full, darkened, Italian-scented restaurant, we knew exactly what had transpired.  So glorious was this filling that we knew even before he crawled up on the seat with his satisfied grin and his business smeared up the back of his shirt and down the length of his chubby legs.

I was horrified

The Wonder Date didn't flinch, flagged a waitress and asked her to wrap our food. 
"I'll meet you in the car," he said, which was all I needed to grab the stinker and make a run for it.

And did I ever run for it.  With malodorous child grasped firmly under his arms and held at the furthest distance possible, with the entire grossed-out population of restaurant staring me down, with dreams of a second date dashed all to heck, I ran right out the door at the back of the large, open dining room...and set off the unbelievably effective alarm system.

4. We haven't eaten at Buca di Beppo since.  I can't speak for the WH, but I have zero desire to do so.  Come to think of it, I actually have zero desire to eat at any Italian restaurant.  I have always chalked this up to my preference for spicy food--Mexican, Indian, Thai--but it's quite possible that the blame rests solely on that (nameless) child.

5. The child who took these photos did it again.  Why am I never in the room when the pizza is done?  I don't recall a fire or smoke alarm this time, but these things tend to all come together in my brain in one loud and smoky blur.

He took this picture, which I like because you can see the remaining dough in the bowl next to the pizza.

Then he took this picture, after eating his initial out of the pie.  "Just in case," he said, "you wondered who did it."
As if.

5. I realized at 8:55 last night that the title of yesterday's blog post is grammatically ambiguous.  It makes it look as though I have a theory on both recipes and on Charlotte's Chicken Salad (although, I guess then it should have read My Theories...).  I hate it when I do that.  It really should read, My Theory On Recipes...and Charlotte's Chicken Salad.

6. I hated that I did it, but I was thankful I discovered it before bed, which prevented me from waking in the night to kick myself over and over when I should have been getting my beauty sleep.

No beauty sleep = cranky Karen.

7. Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey?  He's the Wonder Hub's BFF.  Sigh.  If Carey responds to this post with a comment that says, "Yes! Tell the Dave Ramsey story!" I will tell you the Dave Ramsey story.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Theory On Recipes and Charlotte's Chicken Salad

As I see it, recipe ownership is good for one generation.  For example: let's say I pass on to you my personal recipe for Quinoa Salad.

It's a recipe I created myself, based on a recipe from the back of the EBLY Zartweissen package.  Martina and I had this incredibly wonderful salad while visiting her relatives in Hamburg in 2005 (Right, Martina?) and promptly went out and bought boxes of EBLY for ourselves.  My family loved it so much that I packed twenty boxes back to American when we left Germany.  When that was gone, I started looking for a replacement.  I'll save you the details of painful trial-and-error (including telling my friend DeAnn to make it with barley for a huge Fourth of July cookout.Yuck. Sorry, DeAnn!), and wrap it up by saying that after much trial-and-error, I discovered Quinoa to be the perfect substitute.

So.  Let's say I pass on to you my personal recipe for Quinoa Salad.  Let's say you love it.  Let's say you make it for a potluck at church and someone else loves it and asks for the recipe.  You happily pass it on, rightfully calling it "Karen's Quinoa Salad."

Get it?

So now your friend has this recipe and she makes it for, say, a baby shower.  Let's say the mother-to-be loves it (Duh. It's amazing. Of course she loves it.) and asks your friend for the recipe.  If she handles herself properly, your friend will not pass on "Karen's Quinoa Salad," but rather, "Your Quinoa Salad."

Got it?

That is, of course, unless all these friends know me.  Or unless we're talking about Judie's Lasagna, which will always and forever honor the name of Judie.  In all other cases (except where bound by some weird recipe law), I hereby declare that the duration of recipe ownership does not extend beyond one generation.  Karen has declared it, and it is


With that in mind, allow me to present to you....

Charlotte's Chicken Salad
Which Charlotte got from a major women's magazine, but following the one-generation rule, I pass to you as being Charlotte's very own.

1 (14 1/2 oz) can of low-sodium chicken broth
1 (6 oz) package long grain and wild rice (Uncle Ben's traditional)
2 C shredded cooked chicken
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small purple onion, or to taste
Lemon-Mustard Dressing

Bring chicken broth to a boil, stir in rice and seasonings.  Return to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until rice is tender.  Cool.  Stir together rice, chicken and remaining ingredients.  Chill at least 30 minutes.

Lemon-Mustard Dressing

1/4 C olive oil
1/3 C lemon juice, fresh
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp pepper

Whisk together and toss with salad.

*Charlotte likes to add Craisins and chopped pecans.

Karen's notes:
I have never made this without having everyone ask for the recipe.
I always add Craisins and chopped pecans (or slivered almonds)
I have made the rice with water and a couple of bouillon cubes.
I have used bottled lemon juice.  DON'T.
I have use fresh lime juice.
I have used red bell pepper.  Green was better.
I have (accidentally) used the 5-minute rice.  DON'T.
I have tossed the salad with the dressing the night before serving.  DON'T.

Now go forth, make Charlotte's Chicken Salad and prosper!