Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bananas

I love food.  I love to eat food.  You know when you're at a banquet and everyone is pushing around the truly hideous banquet food?  I'm eating it.  I'm a human garbage disposal.  You already know of my bizarre relationship with oatmeal.  There have been very few times in my life that I have ever encountered a food or a dish that I couldn't choke down - whether I liked it or not.

And, then there are bananas.  I despise bananas with the white, hot, burning passion of a thousand suns.  If a banana goes in my mouth, it must come back out - sometimes, and quite unfortunately, a little bit involuntarily.  My stepmom tried to "hide" some bananas in a frozen jello dish once.  Well, I'm here to tell you, when a frozen banana goes in your mouth, it thaws out just like cryogenic magic.  My father-in-law tried to hide a little, tiny bit of banana in a bowl of fruit salad at a family gathering.  As fate would have it, I got it.  And, I knew it.  And, everyone could see it chewed up and spit on my plate.

It is absolutely the texture of the vile thing that I can't stand - I love banana bread (because all the mush has been cooked out).  Elizabeth got a banana milkshake at Sonic one time and needed me to get it started up the straw for her.  Well, some of it came through the straw, as it was bound to do, and it was like a thousand little loogies in my mouth - it was a horrifying experience.  She has to get her own milkshake started now, or wait for it to melt until it's not too thick - either way.  It really doesn't matter to me.

Well, a year or so ago Spencer decided he didn't like bananas anymore.  And, as Shawn says, when it comes to all foods, I put my foot down about trying it.  Spinach?  Have a bite!  Green beans?  Have a bite!  Sweet potatoes?  Have a bite!  Shepherd's pie?  Have a bite!  Bananas?  No.  You're good.  You can throw it away.

So.  Here's the point of this entire post:  Yesterday morning Shawn grabbed a banana on the way out the door.  Spencer looked back and said, "I want a banana, too."  Then he ate it.  I have never felt so betrayed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Caughtcha...

...being nice to each other!  I absolutely knew you had it in you.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Roast It!

It seems I've been hearing a lot about roasted vegetables lately.  It started with my friend Brandy's nutrition blog.  My friend, Amy, was talking on Facebook about roasting asparagus.  I looked up some recipes on allrecipes.com and tried it myself.  Now, I know why everyone is talking about it.  It's because it's damn good.  I've roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts (yeah, yeah, grow up - they're not as gross as you thought they were as a kid).  My conclusion is you can roast just about anything and it's scrumptious.  I'm going to try roasted Play-doh next.  (Elizabeth eats it, why shouldn't we all?)

Here's the gist of it.  Take two bunches of broccoli with the florets chopped off the stalk (that's right, I used the word "floret").  Place in a large Ziploc bag with 3 tablespoons olive oil (I use light olive oil, not extra virgin - something I learned from Brandy), 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper.  Shake vigorously to coat well.  Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet (with sides) or roasting pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, shaking the pan regularly or flipping the broccoli with a spatula.  Don't worry, they WILL get very dark, but it's the crispy, crunchiness of it that's so good!

If you're doing it with Brussels sprouts, peel the tough, outer leaves off the sprout, cut the white stalk off the bottom and cut the heads into halves or quarters.  The smaller, the better because they get more cooked and, as previously stated, crispy-crunchy-delicious.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm the only one in my family that liked these (well, my mom did, too, when she came over for dinner one night...).  But, I like them so much, I make and eat them all myself even when the other three turn up their noses.  The kids probably just need to be introduced to them a few more times to be convinced that the very darkness of them, does not mean they are burnt.  And, Shawn, well, he might be a lost cause.  He's pretty sure that most vegetables were grown by the Devil himself.  But, TRULY, that's okay!  More for me!

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's about the Heart

I forgot to post yesterday.  We had a barfing situation here.  Carseats were defiled.  Bad things happened in my poor car. The ensuing aftermath left me too traumatized to remember to blog.

After I cleaned the vomit out of hair, clothes and more crevices than you could imagine existed in the average family vehicle, I got to get dressed to go to a fundraising event. Yay! (Please read that with all the due sarcasm intended.)

Once we got there, though, I got to hear a pioneer in heart surgery give some reflections. Wow - I'm sorry for being grumpy...

Dr. Denton Cooley was, among many things, the first surgeon to implant an artificial heart in a man.  But, along with his groundbreaking surgical advances, he was as equally well-known for a feud with another heart surgeon, Dr. Michael DeBakey, that spanned more than 40 years.

The thing that struck me the most, though, was the fact that, while recalling his life's work and achievements, the most poignant thing he spoke of was his reconciliation with Dr. DeBakey (in 2007 when DeBakey was 99 years old and Cooley 87).  It reminded me that you can be a "success", but it really is the relationships you maintain and the people in your life that make it all worthwhile.

Have a happy weekend.  And, be thankful for the people you love.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kitchen Tips

I posted a kitchen tip on FB yesterday and it made me realize, I am just full of useful kitchen tips.  So here you go.  You're welcome.
  • Never cut an apple with the same knife you just used to cut an onion - unless you really like the taste of onion-apple.
  • Never touch a broiler pan that is in a 400 degree oven with your bare flesh - unless you're in to skin markings.
  • Never put your face directly in front of the opening oven door - unless you want to know what it's like for your mascara to melt your eyelashes together.
  • Always wear your hair tied back while baking - unless you want to feed hair to your family.
  • Never cut with a dull knife - unless you like getting stitches.
  • Never rub your eyes after cutting a jalapeƱo - really, NEVER.  No "unless" or anything.
  • Metal really can't go in the microwave.
  • Always lick the bowl.
Man, I wonder if they're hiring at the Food Network?!

NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

True Confession

In the morning when I am rushing out the door to get the kids to school on time, I empty my car of the trash that is in there from the day before... and leave it on the garage floor.  To actually throw away a cup, you must first empty it of liquid.  It's worse with a can - you must empty it of liquid (out of that tiny hole the size of a quarter) and put it in the recycling, while popping the tab off to save for fundraisers.  I don't have that kind of time.

So it piles up.  I admit, this is a disgusting, pig-like habit.  But, my desire for timeliness beats out my desire for a clean garage (which is officially Shawn's responsibility anyway, right?).

And, to answer your question, no, I can't go back and throw it away later in the day.  It just always seems like such an ordeal to have to dump the liquid first.  I don't know why.  And, you can't throw the whole kit n' caboodle in the trash - then you're just asking for "trash juice".  Gross.

It's complicated in my brain.  Shut up.


If you look closely at the Sonic cup on the right, you'll see the remains of a Milky Way bar that Lulu was given at a class party.  Yum.  Hungry?



Answer to Friday's mystery pic:  a microscopic view of Velcro.  Cool, huh?  Although, it really, really, really looks to me like a terrible parasite you might contract while visiting tropical climes (or a tapeworm like Amy said).

Well done, Marcy (and Mont over on FB).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Who's Really Playing Here?

We got invited to a playdate today.  Yay, playdate!  It was time for a distraction from Spring Break.  There were probably ten mommies there with their kiddos.  And my darling friend's house is a very kid-friendly environment.  It's a good thing, because there is a chance my kids couldn't have torn me away from the food table and talking even in the event of an emergency.  There might have been one point where I told Elizabeth to "rub some dirt on it" and sent her back out to play.  There was definitely a point where I looked down and found I was holding Spencer's ballcap in my lap and said, "When did he give me this?"  Oh well, they were in heaven in their own little kid mosh pit.

I was in heaven with "the girls".  It always feels so comfortable to talk to people who have gone through so many of the same things.  We can talk about the specifics of childbirth without sending anyone shrieking from the room.  With just about every topic... We know.  We understand.  We care about each other.  It's nice to get together and be reminded (even if it is in the midst of controlled chaos and pandemonium).

You girls do my heart good.  But, I probably could have done without the twenty-seven pounds of carrots, cauliflower, celery, crackers, dip, ricecakes, goldfish and honey grahams...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tennis shoes and Tiaras

We couldn't find Lulu's tennis shoes anywhere.  Then we did.  On the treadmill.  Next to the tiara.


I'm really not sure what this girl does when we're not watching.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On this day in history

1802 - The United States Congress passed an act establishing a military academy at West Point, New York.  (Happy 208th birthday, West Point!)

1825 - Women, feeling oppressed by their employers, gathered at Palmo’s Opera House in New York City, for speeches and music about their problems.  (If they gathered for music about their problems, was this the 1800s version of Glee?)

1850 - Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel "The Scarlet Letter", was published for the first time. (And juniors in high schools everywhere groaned.)

1871 - The State of Delaware enacted the first fertilizer law.  (ummmm.  I don't even know what this means.)

1883 - Susan Hayhurst graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, becoming the first female pharmacy graduate. (Girl Power!)

1926 - The first liquid-fuel rocket was successfully launched by Prof. Robert Goddard at Auburn, Massachusetts. The rocket traveled 184 feet in 2.5 seconds.  (Insert your own inappropriate joke here.)

1950 - Congress voted to stop federally taxing oleomargarine.  (Well, I think we all say a little prayer at night in thanksgiving for this.)

1963 - Peter, Paul and Mary released the single, "Puff The Magic Dragon", which was banned by several radio stations whose management figured the song was about smoking marijuana. The group denied the allegations saying “It’s about a magic dragon named Puff.”  (That quote makes my day.)

1974, 11:45 pm - I was born.
(Avoided being a leprechaun by 15 minutes.)

1976 - British Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced his intention to retire. He was succeeded by James Callaghan on April 5. (I've never heard of either of these people.)

1978 - Former Italian premier Aldo Moro was kidnapped by Red Brigades guerrillas, who demanded the release of all Communist prisoners. (I'm guessing Italy stepped up its secret service after this...)

And, a fellow Happy Birthday to James Madison, Pat Nixon, Jerry Lewis, Chuck Woolery, Jerry Jeff Walker, Erik Estrada, and (my little 5-year-old buddy), Kate White!

Thanks to http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia/history/index.asp for all the useless trivia a girl could hope to find on her birthday!

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Didn't See Mr. T, Though

No worries!  "If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A-Team."


It seems it's a little easier to find them now-a-days since they have a website.  They think changing their name, and getting their vehicle a new paint job will keep them incognito, but I recognize this "crack commando unit" when I see it.

(You don't really think I could write this post without looking up the old-school A-Team van, do you?  Ummm.  Do you think they really thought those red hubcaps helped keep it low-profile?)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Light-Eyed Confessions

I was in the checkout line at the store yesterday.  The clerk said, "How are you?"  I said, "Great.  How are you?"  She said, "I lost my son in November."  Uhhhhhh.

This may seem like an oddly intimate interaction to have with a stranger, but it happens to me more times than I can count.  When I was a flight attendant, another blue-eyed flight attendant asked me, "Do random strangers tell you the most inappropriately personal things?!"  I agreed that, indeed, they did!  She said that people feel like opening up to light-eyed people more than others.  I don't know what kind of research she had to support her claims, but my personal experience certainly holds her hypothesis to be true.  Just ask anyone with whom I used to hang out during my flight attending days - I came home with the most tragic stories that humanity could conceive.  It came to the point where our friends started our get-togethers with, "Ali!  No sad stories!" (Cheryl, Cressinda, Rion, Mikey, Shawn - back me up here.)

But, as awkward and uncomfortable as this could potentially be, it's taught me a good lesson about human nature.  People just want someone to listen.  So, when the voice inside my head is screaming, "NO! NO! NO! NO!  Run away!  Uncomfortable situation!" I just say, "I am so sorry," and look them in the eye (the very eye that got me in this spot to begin with...).  They always take it from there and tell me as much or as little as they want to.  "How are you/Are you doing okay?" and "I'll be thinking about you/Take care of yourself," always seem to be appropriate, too.  They're not looking to me, a complete stranger, for answers, they're just looking to unload a little bit of the grief they're bearing.  That's ok.  I can listen.  I won't start walking around with my eyes closed... just yet.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lent

I keep being reminded it's Lent in big ways and in small ways  (but those are between me and God so mind your own business... ;).

It's been years since I've come to understand that God loves us so much He allowed His son to die for us, but it never ceases to leave me dumbstruck.  He didn't have to, but our sins - my sins - would have always kept us separated from Him if He didn't. That's an incomprehensible gift (I can promise you I don't love any of you enough to give my darling boy on your behalf - not even all of you put together).

I don't think 40 days of reflection is asking too much.  So, I'll keep being reminded, Lord.  And, I'll try to do it joyfully and thankfully.  And, when it's over, I'll try to appreciate the gift of Easter a little more.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Cleaning Up the Child's Way

What is it about picking up that is completely baffling to a child?  I've taken to sitting in the playroom and watching (instead of jumping in and doing it all myself so it gets done "right") while the kids are supposed to be picking up.  O.  M.  G.

Elizabeth picks something up to put it away, but instead ends up telling it a story about where it's been and where it's going to go to be put away.  She will also run things back to her room one. at. a. time.

Spence will pick up.  But, his organizational system is involved and complex and multi-faceted.  The blocks can't just be stacked.  They must be stacked to architectural perfection.  The Legos can't be put away willy-nilly.  The space station must be rebuilt.  The cars must be parked at the starting line.  The airplanes must be ready for take-off.  You get the idea.

Then, when the final pronouncement is made that they have completed their task, I can count no fewer than twenty items still laying on the floor (not hiding or anything...).

I know this is a learned skill, but it's really hard to let them learn it when I just want to shriek and do it myself.  OCD, much, Ali?  And, keep me accountable here, it would be wrong to declare all their toys off-limits so they never make a mess again, right?

*chink, chink*  Putting more coins in their therapy fund...

Monday, March 08, 2010

Weekend Update

We had a blessedly slow weekend around here - nearly unheard of around these parts.  We went to see the play Tuna Does Vegas on Friday.  It was good, but I was a little tired.  I think the fact I almost fell asleep during the second act was a testament to my exhaustion, not the comic genius of Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard.

We had absolutely nothing, I repeat nothing, to do on Saturday except Spence's basketball game (where we actually saw some aggression out of our timid player!  Can I get an "hallelujah"?!).  We topped off the day with a "Family Date Night".  This was complete with dinner at Jason's Deli (They have free ice cream, you know.  This is all that is required to get a high rating in the Johnson Children's Zagat Guide), and movie night camped out on the floor of the living room - with popcorn!  Remember when life was so simple and it was so easy to be wowed?  We should probably all be that easy to please.  It would make everything about life a little more magnificent, I would think.

On Sunday we were off to church.  The drive there involved Elizabeth singing "The Wheels on the Bus" at the top of her lungs while Spencer tried to see how high he could count before we made it to church.  I can only imagine that is exactly what it sounds like inside your head once you've gone mad.  I'm going to make the voices inside my head take their turns when they speak because now I know what madness sounds like.  And it's disturbing.

Did I ever tell you that Shawn and I co-teach Middle School Sunday School (in what I can only believe was a monumental lapse of judgement on someone's part.  Seriously?  You're going to let the two of us influence the youth of our parish?  Well, ok.  Your call.  I'm guessing I've never spoken aloud to these people...).  But, we (and by we, I mean the other teacher, Dawn - the kids mainly ate donuts and tried not to fall asleep on the couches; and we three other teachers just nodded a lot) had a really interesting lesson about the letters Paul wrote while he was imprisoned in the Mamertine Prison just before his execution.

Sunday School was followed by an "Instructed Eucharist".  I've never been to one of these, but our rector pretty much commentated the way through the service and told us why we were doing all the things we just do by rote.  It was very, very interesting (even though it made the service last a long time - and that makes Shawn grumpy.  Not exactly the way you're supposed to leave a church service, I don't think... ;)

We went to lunch, we napped, we worked-out; we picked up the toy-disasters around the house, picked Play-Doh out of various crevices, practiced violin, practiced recital dances (for June!), got school bags ready, tracked down tennis shoes, ate dinner, cleaned the kitchen, took baths (took a deep breath!) and another weekend was over.

Happy Monday.

Friday, March 05, 2010

"To Remember Me - I Will Live Forever" by Robert N. Test

[one of my favorites.  have a happy weekend.  -aj]

The day will come when my body will lie upon a white sheet neatly tucked under four corners of a mattress located in a hospital; busily occupied with the living and the dying. At a certain moment a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped.

When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don't call this my deathbed. Let it be called the Bed of Life, and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.

Give my sight to the man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby's face or love in the eyes of a woman. Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain.

Give my blood to the teenager who was pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play. Give my kidneys to the one who depends on a machine to exist. Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk.

Explore every corner of my brain. Take my cells, if necessary, and let them grow so that, someday a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her window.

Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow. If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weakness and all prejudice against my fellow man.

If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked, I will live forever.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Unsolicited Shout-out

I have an unbelievable cousin, K.C. Clifford (Seriously!  Cousins.  Our moms are sisters).  She is a singer/songwriter and one of the most talented people I know.

She just released her fourth CD, Orchid.  O. M. G.  Can I use the word unbelievable again?  I honestly cannot believe I used to play dress-up with this girl.  (Random tangent:  The dress-up I remember most clearly was Grease.  And, she made me be Danny Zuko to her Sandy.  I did not like that.  But, if memory serves, I quickly found a way to get her in trouble.  Set and match.)

She doesn't only have talent, though, she works her a** off, too.  She's an honest, sensitive, compassionate, loving, beautiful person.  And, she has a pretty amazing husband, David Broyles, who is her constant companion and co-worker.  All of this (plus a whole lot of other things and people that I can't even begin to wrap my head around...  There's a guy named Will who got props in Rolling Stone, but you have to read her blog to find out about him; he's never had dinner at my house) has come together to make an amazing album.

Can you tell I think she's cool?  Or should I say a "rockstar"? (bu-dum-cha!)  Anyhoo.  Check it out.  And definitely listen to "Broken Things" and "Redman".  And "Songbird".  Oh, just go ahead and listen to them all...


Ok.  And, as long as I'm showing stalker-like fascination with K.C., I'm going to tell you about another song of hers.  It was only released as a single and was aired on The Biggest Loser.  It's called "Raise Your Voice" and it calls attention to the issue of hunger in America.

Man, you are unbelievable, Kace.


"unbelievable" count in this post: 3

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Random Thoughts

I have loads of random thoughts going through my brain.  So, here you go.  A complete clump of absolutely nothing related.  Maybe now I can clear my head for some coherent thoughts (But, don't hold your breath while you're waiting.  I can't be responsible for the lack of oxygen to your brain.)
  • I can never think of anything to eat at 9:30 at night that doesn't make me feel guilty.  I'm completely disappointed in my lack of ingenuity.
  • The very moment some people start talking, I want them to stop.
  • I spent too much money on gift wrapping supplies (paper and ribbon) the other day at Hobby Lobby.  I tell you this because I think it's absolutely ridiculous.  Recycled newspaper costs nothing.  And the Sunday funnies are colored.
  • Every time Facebook changes its layout, it hurts me.  And, I don't think it can repair the damage to our relationship.  How can I trust you not to hurt me again, FB?
  • I never can think of what 7x8 is right off the top of my head.  7x7=49.  7x9=63.  8x6=48.  8x8=64.  7x8... I got nothin'.
  • Along the same lines of shouldn't-have-been-allowed-to-pass-elementary-school: I usually don't get "right" and "left" correct the first time I try.
  • Sometimes I feel guilty that I have my credit card number memorized, but then I get over it when I'm able to order on the internet with such ease.
  • Watching the Olympics makes me think my parents should have pushed me harder as a child; even though I didn't show any aptitude for anything even remotely Olympian-like.
  • This blog has been viewed by more than 4,400 individual computers (see the counter at the bottom?).  So, is it sad that there are only 20 people who are willing to admit to being "followers"... and one of them is me?
  • When I got in the car this morning the clock read 7:29 and the trip odometer read 72.9.  Craaaaaazy.
  • Also this morning:  I drank out of a dirty coffee mug and didn't know it until I got to the bottom of the mug and saw yesterday's dirty grit staring back at me.
  • I wish Elizabeth would reconsider her choice to name her stuffed cat after the cat in Cinderella: Lucifer.
  • Our sprinkler system keeps "resetting" itself and makes all the stations go off for 10 minutes even during ice and snow. I'm pretty sure that, on our block, we're "those" neighbors.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Beautiful Lulu

Our cousin Anna is a photographer.  Look at this picture she snapped of Elizabeth while on our ski trip.


Wow.

(And, now, to break the spell:  I'm pretty sure she's watching Spongebob Squarepants.  And, she could really use some chapstick, poor thing.)

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