Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On Almonds...

   The other day my husband was at a friend's house.  He called and asked if I wanted some almonds (they had bags full, he said).  I know what almonds are. I love almonds. I eat almonds.
   What I didn't know was that they come in shells (I should have put 2 & 2 together....peanuts come in shells...walnuts come in shells...pistachios come in shells....).  When I saw what was in the bag he brought home, I told him that these were NOT almonds.  I didn't know what they were, probably chestnuts, but DEFINETLY NOT almonds.
    I don't have a nut cracker.  I used a meat tenderizer to open one, and guess what I found?? ALMONDS!!!  Apparently almonds come in shells too.  Lesson learned.  Well, since I didn't have a nut cracker, and the meat tenderizer thingie was crushing the nut, not just the shell, I used a vise-grip to crack them all. 
   After I finished that task (and ate half of them), I googled how to roast them.  So I did. I made a batch of garlic-pepper & one of cinnamon-honey.  They came out well and tasted good, but someone forgot to tell me NOT to put the ones with honey on a paper towel to cool.  Apparently they stick.  Lesson #2 learned.  At least I didn't burn anything.

Black Friday...

     Since the madness of Black Friday/Cyber Monday has passed, I shall regale you with my tale....
      Black Friday....Yes, I am one of those crazy people that attend Black Friday sales (does this surprise you???)  I would totally camp out for hours before the sale times if necessary, but we live in a small town that only has a Walmart.  I've attended the Black Friday sales here for about four years now, and the first year wasn't too bad. There were only about 20 people lined up before Walmart opened, and year after it seems to get a little bit busier, but not as crazy as it is in the cities.
     This year, i was late getting to Walmart for their 10pm sale-I arrived in the parking lot at 9:45pm.  Immediately I started panicking when I saw that the parking lot was 75% full.  I parked on the outer edge and ran (yes, I ran. I was on a mission.) to the store.  I saw some bikes outside (I was shopping for my friend as well, so I needed two bikes) and threw them in a shopping cart (talk about awkward-one was a 16" & the other a 20"....and they were already assembled).  I barely made it inside to the service desk without knocking anything or anyone over.  They agreed to put my name on the bikes & hold them for me till i was done my shopping.  Whew!
      Next, I made my way around the main aisles of the store where all the goodies were- on pallets and in boxes.  After retrieving just about everything on my list, I realized I couldn't find one item from the sales circular- men's socks.  They were for my friend, so I desperately needed to find them.  I asked several of the sales associates that were posted as crowd control and they pointed me in the general vicinity.  After circling the store several times (and asking random customers), I came to the conclusion that no one had ever actually SEEN the socks, they just knew *WHERE* they should have been located.  So, either these socks never existed, or they just just vanished because there wasn't even an empty pallet where they "should" have been.
     As I continued my adrenaline-fueled journey, I saw a few of my friends who helped me find some of the missing items on my list that did exist, and I continued to throw things into my cart ("oooh...this looks like a good idea", "wow! that looks neat!").  Finally, I reached the check-out lanes.  While there, I remembered the bikes I had at the service desk (I didn't need the boy's one anymore because I found one in a box, unassembled-fits into a closet better).  When I arrived, the sales associates had changed shifts, and apparently my name was not placed on the bikes, so the girl's one (one I needed) was given to someone else who "claimed" it was theirs.  I was mad. I was planning on finding this person and giving them "what-for".  However, the CSM could see the fire in my eyes & refused to relinquish the name (small town).  OS, desperate for the bike at the sale price, I rushed back outside to see if there were anymore.  Thankfully, there were.  I made my way back inside, bike in hand, and somehow managed to maneuver the cart out of the store (I did pay for it all) with the bike on top.
   When I finally arrived at my vehicle, I opened the back hatch (Chevy mini-van) only to say "oh, crap".  I had forgotten to remove our double-stroller before my "search & rescue" mission, leaving less room to shove stuff into.  Somehow (after saying "oh, crap" a million times) I managed to cram it all in there with enough room to close the hatch.  The End.
     Then, I stayed up till about 3a.m. setting up all my Christmas decorations.  I only slept because I had to watch kids in the morning and I knew I needed rest.

Friday, November 18, 2011

...And This Is Why Michelle Is Never Invited Anywhere....

   Last weekend I attended a women's retreat with my friend's church.  Needless to say, after that weekend (and reading this story) most of you will never invite me to a women's retreat again ;)
    The place we went to was about an hour & a half drive from where we lived, and it was up a mountain.  We attempted to follow the mapquest directions on poorly marked roads in the dark.  Obviously, this was a fail.  As we continued our ascent up the mountain, we saw some cars parked along the side of the road and a man in what appeared to be a tan forrest ranger uniform.  He had a flashlight.  This was not good.  A van of four females being stopped by a creepy serial killer....I mean, just look at all those parked cars.  I urged my friend to NOT roll down the window or stop.  What does she do? She rolled down the window and stopped.  When I realized the danger we were now in, I told our friend sitting in the passenger side (no, I didn't drive my van. my friend did. then I let a taller friend sit up front) to pull my knife out of the glovebox.  Did she? No.  Here we are, in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, about to be slaughtered, and  NO ONE CARES! 
    Amidst my utter panic, I heard the serial killer ask my friend if we were there for the Veteran's Dinner.  Veteran's Dinner?? What kind of ruse was this?? Are we about to be fed to cannibals???  Instead of rolling the window up and zooming away, my friend then told the suspicious fellow our REAL plans! Hello?? Has she NEVER seen crime dramas?? You NEVER let potential killers know your real plans! The man then gave my friend "directions" for after we turned around and we followed the path back down the mountain.  Apparently we were up the wrong side.  We eventually found the location of the camp and made it just in time for a portion-controlled dinner.
     The next morning, we drove from our cabin to the lodge where we were to be served breakfast.  Someone failed to inform our group of the caked-on ice that covered the steep roads up to the lodge.  Needless to say, several cars had to turn around.  One vehicle had become stuck, so I volunteered myself to get out of the van (we were stuck in line because of the stuck car) to go help (we all know how that goes....).  By the time I arrived, the car had become unstuck.  Another driver offered to give me a lift up the hill (it was super-windy) and I reached for the door handle.  Next thing I knew, I was licking the ice.  My coherent thought was to roll away from the tires in case they thought I vanished (it has happened, you know...), but instead I laid there, listening to the women inside the vehicle wonder what happened to me.  Finally, one of them opened the back door to discover me, lying face-down on the ground.  I'm not sure how, but I got up and was ushered into the back-seat.  Then we were stuck because we were parked on ice.  Story of my life.  Somehow, we got unstuck and made it to breakfast.
    Fast-forward to lunch-time.  So dinner Friday night and breakfast on Saturday were healthy foods.  We anticipated as much for lunch and instead we were surprised with pizza and rice-krispy treats for dessert!  I have a slight problem with sugar-once I have some, that's all I can think I try to avoid sugar as much as possible on a daily basis.  But this was a free weekend.  So I ate my rice-krispy treat.  And I enjoyed it. And I wanted more.  Well, the kitchen staff informed me that there was no "more".  Heavy with disappointment, I visited some women at another table to let them know about "game time" in our cabin.  Imagine my delight when they told me that I could have the untouched rice-krispy treat setting on their table!!! (These were super-yummy: not only did they have sprinkles on top, but underneath was a carmel sauce....mmmmmmmmmm.....)
    As I made my way out of the lodge (treat in hand), I had this sudden giddy desire to run.  Across the hill.  In my snowboots.  In the snow.... And so I ran-arms open wide, holding onto that precious dessert.  And then I went down the hill.  My sudden giddy desire forgot to warn me that the snow was deeper at the bottom.  As soon as my foot touched the deeper snow, my entire body twisted, then collapsed. (You know the word "whomp"? I'm pretty sure that's the sound I my body made as it crashed into the snow)  As I laid there, rice-krispy treat held aloft (even though I was pretty much buried, the treat made it out alive!), I screamed "Christinaaaaaaaaa!" so that my friends wouldn't leave without me.  So much for friends.  Instead of rushing to my aid, Christina and one of our friends remained at the van, laughing their socks off.  Thankfully, we had one more friend.  She came to my aid and helped me up, rice-krispy treat and all.  And on our way back to the cabin, I finished my dessert.

                                           "Hangin' With The Hoodies"...

Monday, November 7, 2011


   Last night someone at church asked me if Malachi was our "serious one"....My reply was "we don't know yet" (hello-he's just a baby), but as I pondered this later, I realized that I should have responded with, "Oh, wow! I hope not!"
    In fact, I hope that none of my children become labeled as "serious".  My family is one that loves to laugh and make others laugh.  Josiah (5 years old) has already caught onto the concept of doing things to make people laugh.  Before he turned two, he started "fake falling" just to elicit a jovial response.
   Silliness runs deep in my family's bloodlines, and sarcasm is one of the major arteries.  I tend to find the humor in almost everything (sometimes when I injure myself, we're not sure if I'm laughing or crying- like the time I was working at my friend's infant care center and when I came out of the diaper changing area, a child-height sink took out my leg & I collapsed). 
    If laughter is the best medicine, my family are the doctors that administer it (albeit in strong, unwatered down doses sometimes).  Even though we may not be understood by most people, I don't see the possibility of any of my children being the "serious one".... Amber will prance around funny or put on a silly voice, and Josiah, combining his physical antics with his sense of humor will probably destine him for a career in the circus.....  I'm sure Malachi will catch on soon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Five Years Ago....

    Five years ago a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed wonder entered the world, and we called him Josiah.  Five years ago, he couldn't walk, talk or write his name, but now he can do all of that & more!
    These past few years with him have been an interesting journey, but we're pretty confident we have him almost figured out!  Right now he's in his second year of preschool and learning so much! He gets to swim with his speech therapist once a week and he loves riding his bike.  He's a good big brother (with the occasional fighting-tattle-tailing-"you're-not-my-friend" sibling rivalry) who tries his best to entertain Malachi and Amber.
    We are so proud of how far he's come (speech delay, sensory processing disorder, ADHD tendencies....) and we know that he has a long road ahead of him, but he will always be our little boy-the one who loves airplanes and engines...and basically anything with wheels.  He's a stunt-man in training (rides his bike with his feet up & breaks into a skid out of nowhere) and just may join a circus one day.  Our little acrobat used to jump off the top of our love-seat on the matching ottoman with wheels.  He loves entertaining and the vanVeen sense of humor runs in his blood too.
                                                 So look out! Here comes our five-year old!