Easter EGGstravaganza!

We had fun decorating our eggs this year — all 24 of them! Somewhere I got the idea of adding a couple of drops of oil to the food coloring and it had the most magnificent effect! However, I must learn that once an egg has been dipped into a color containing the oil it should not be dipped into a color that has no oil. We’ll master it next year. But I thought these were pretty good examples of what the kids created!

Bad Boy Alexander: Part 1,999

I am going to endorse another commercial product called The Magic Eraser. If it was not for this truly magical sponge we would be in deep doo-doo. We had another offer on our house on Friday. A young couple recently sold theirs and need to be in a new place by May Day. Holy Smokes, that is right around the corner. Although slightly less than we wanted, we accepted their offer in hopes we could enter our Dream Home which remains unsold and vacant. We accepted the offer. Hours later we were preparing to decorate Easter eggs. We had all the colors setting in their cups: Oranges, pinks, blues, greens, yellows and red.

Alexander, curious as always, reached up and pulled down one of the setting colors on top of him. Suddenly our cabinets, countertop and dishwasher were a magenta-like color. Color splashed everywhere. All we could imagine was a major paint job and the purchase of a new dishwasher. This would be quite an expense not to mention we settled for less than we would have liked. Panic mode and adrenaline set in. Armed with Lysol kitchen cleaner, 2 rolls of paper towels and my Magic Eraser sponge we managed to get the entire mess cleaned up. Disaster Averted! I couldn’t take a picture of the mess as I was terrified that with every second I wasted the stain would be harder to lift. Here is the sponge that was used.

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

I have been tossing out too many bananas lately. Everyone I know, it seems has been baking banana bread or banana muffins. Sitting on my coffee table is the latest issue of Martha Stewart’s Everyday FOOD Magazine. I flagged a few of the peanut butter and banana recipes. I love that combination. What I wanted was a muffin with both ingredients, so I adapted her banana cupcake recipe and made my own. Even if I hadn’t wanted to change the ingredients my version would have been different, because if you know me even a little bit you know that I can not follow directions to save my life!
So here’s my version and they really hit the spot!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 Cup of old fashioned oats
1 Cup of peanut butter
3/4 Cups of sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 Cups canola oil
3 mashed bananas
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a large bowl mash bananas with a fork, add peanut butter and continue to mash, add eggs and blend well. Keep stirring while slowly pouring in canola oil, then add sugar, flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and vanilla extract. When all well blended scoop into lined muffin tins. According to desired size will make 12 – 18 muffins.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, cool before serving.
Some may like a nice dollop of strawberry jam on the side, or drizzle the tops with honey.

Call The Cops!

I took the kids out for breakfast to the local (not so great) bagel eatery. We needed to vacate the Crazy Crowded House for 2 back to back house showings. I couldn’t think of any place else to go. I wanted to give them a fairly nutritious breakfast — though not too sure what’s so great about a plain bagel with cream cheese. At least they snacked on a bowl of fruit while they waited for their bagels. I have never seen anyone eat a bagel as slowly as Alexander. First he has to lick off the cream cheese, one finger-dip at a time, and when there is no trace of white left on top he starts to pick at the bread. After an hour, but what feels like a week, Alexander is ready to be cleaned off… wiped down! I think the missing cream cheese ended up on his pants, not in his tummy!

After all was said and done and I managed to get him suited back up for the blustery March day. Alexander flat out refused to take my hand. No way was I about to let him walk untethered, without holding my hand, out near a busy parking lot. After several refusals of my generous hand offerings I swooped him up in my arms and carried him to the car.

Alexander resisted me the entire way, kicking and screaming, shouting “Help! Help! Somebody help me!” Rebecca burst out into fits of hysterics all the while I hoped a policeman was not within earshot!

A Lollipop Moment…

I was very ready for my sitter when she showed up today. Alexander had been challenging me from the moment he hollered out to me. Just as he does every morning he greeted me with a great big smile, a warm hug and a sweet kiss. Well, it was all downhill from there today! I just couldn’t keep up with the little Whirling Dervish!

It was also a lousy day. The weather outside was completely miserable. The kids would have to be cooped up inside so it was good that Jen was coming. She would be a welcome distraction. I hate the rain. I hate having to go out in it by myself never mind dragging around three reluctant kids and a stroller.

I have been wanting to go to the movies but the daytime showings during the week are quite limited. So when our realtor called over here asking if I would like to see 2 properties that I had casually enquired about I agreed to meet him at House Number One. Neither House Number One nor House Number Two did anything for me and after a half an hour or so I was back in the van heading, well, no where in particular — just happy to be out!

I am a nerd. A bookstore junkie! I found myself walking in to the large Barnes and Noble.

I started off drooling over all the cookbooks. The recipes all sounded so mouth-wateringly wonderful and the photography was all so stellar. I wanted to buy every cook book on every shelf. From there I perused the magazines, gravitating again towards toward those with a food theme., flipping through a good many of them. I then wandered over to the new releases, first the paperbacks then the hardcovers. I made mental notes of those new and noteworthy as well as the staff favorites. I picked up the books and leafed through them,noting the differences in paper weight and type. My recent purchases had left me with an unsatisfactory feeling. Much like munching on carrot sticks when your body craves chocolate. I had my purchases but they were not fulfilling.

So there I was in the bookstore not thinking about anyone but myself for once and thoroughly enjoying it. Lost in a myriad of books about other people and other places and other times and then I felt it, in my pocket round and hard, that lollipop given to me by the kids. And a huge smile came across my face and I forced myself to stifle the tears. It was like a sign reminding me that no matter where I am, no matter what I am doing, even when what I am doing is purely for my own self I am and always will be someone’s mother. And sometimes I want to run, and sometimes I want to hide but no matter what I do and where I go the things that mean the most to me in this world are there for me at the end of the day. They are everything to me. They do not define who I am, but they are an integral part of me.

Mediterranean Inspired Pasta Salad

I love pasta… everyone in this house does and this is a very good thing. It’s quick and easy to make! I try to play around with different flavors so that we don’t get stuck in a spaghetti and meatball rut. Actually the kids love spaghetti and meatballs. I used to before I had kids. It’s just too messy!

2 cans of chick peas
2 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil
salt, pepper
a handful of fresh basil, chiffonaded (is that a word?!)
from the salad bar, a 1 lb container of cubed feta cheese and a mix of pitted green and black olives
a small handful of sun dried tomatoes, Julienned
1 lb pasta, your choice

Boil water for pasta, meanwhile in a small blender pulse the olive and feta combination to desired consistency, add a few tablespoons of olive oil and pulse some more — I made mine a near puree — set aside

Drain and rinse your chic peas, set aside

In a saute pan lightly cover the bottom with olive oil and toss in minced garlic, saute until lightly browned and add both cans of chick peas, keep on medium low heat so that the garlic does not burn and chick peas get nice a golden brown. Add salt and pepper to taste

When pasta is done, drain and bring back to pan. Add the olive and feta mixture to the pasta and mix well. Add the sun dried tomatoes and the basil. Mix well. Add the garlicky, crunchy chic peas, toss and serve warm!

I love the flavors of the Mediterranean!

Stella’s Got her Groove Back!

Not sure what kind of all encompassing, all consuming funk that had a complete stronghold on me, but it seems to have lifted and disappeared for a short while. I awoke shortly before 6:00 am to Alexander calling out to me again. “Mommy, I want to get out of my crib. Mommy come get me!” He is still in his crib for no reason other than laziness — on my behalf — and he likes it and sleeps well in it… when he does sleep that is. Because he is in a crib I have to drag my old, dilapidated self out of bed, down the hall and into his room, lift him up and out and carry him back in with me.

I pulled the blanket and duvet over us and drifted back off into a nice slumber. It sounded as though Alexander was breathing deeply as well. Shortly thereafter his sweet little voice was saying “Mommy wake up! I don’t want you to sleep any more. I want some chocolate milk. I want you to read to me. Please?” And then he planted a nice soft kiss right on my lips. Now who can turn down a request like that?

A few minutes later we were back in bed. I had my coffee and he had his chocolate milk. We were content. The day was already off to a better start than the day before. The kids (Rebecca especially) have been dying to go to Build A Bear. We had two gift certificates for there totalling $60 and a coupon for $5 off a purchase over $20 which made the journey palatable even to me! Alexander was excited as well. We aimed to get out of the house at 10:30, but I was happy enough to be out by 11:00.

Alexander was eager to make a monkey as he has newly fallen in love with Curious George, completely fitting if you ask me, but chose instead a furry little brown dog. He selected a sound, a heart and even helped to stuff it. When his dog was all done he went over to the bathtub area and gave his pup a pretend bath. Alexander was in heaven, walking around hugging and kissing his new pet! Christopher selected an adorable turtle to stuff, which really makes me want to break out into “Hey, it’s Franklin… comin‘ over to play!” Rebecca chose a white polar bear and a doggie bed. With our gift certificates these new toys only set me back $10!

There was an ever so slight problem, however… Isn’t there always? I had left the gift certificates at the house on my desk… What to do? What to do? I had a little chat with the store manager and asked if it would be alright to put the purchases on my credit card and then come right back with the gift certificates and have the card credited. Not a problem he told me, or I could leave the animals at the store until I returned with the gift cards. That was my initial thought, but then I saw how in love Alexander was with his Doggie and I knew he would not understand why it would have to stay behind even for 10 minutes. I could not do that to him.

So back to the car we schlepped, loaded up the kids, stroller and back home we went to get the gift certificates. I was and am still amazed and completely impressed that the older two never uttered a peep… nary a complaint! (I did allow them to watch the Curious George movie in the DVD player to pass the time a little more quickly. Well, this was really done to prevent Alexander from falling asleep!)

Once we had everything taken care of we let Alexander run around briefly in the play space and then off to lunch we went. We opted for the fine dining establishment known as Ruby Tuesdays as there are some healthier options than what can be found down at the food court.

What on earth was I thinking to bring 3 kids by myself to a restaurant? To my amazement, again, I was wowed and awed by the behavior of all three children.They ordered their drinks, 2 Shirley Temples and a Dr. Pepper and sat and waited patiently for them to come. I left Rebecca in charge as I headed to the salad bar to load my plate with veggies for us all to snack on. I piled my plate with peppers, cucumbers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and a light Ranch dressing. It’s a genius way of keeping the kids entertained until their food comes and sneaking something nutritious into them. I think Alexander ate most of the veggies. He continued with the salad despite the fact that his mini cheeseburgers had come. He took one bite of his burger, pushed his plate away and continued with the salad. When he was done with the salad he went for the fries. Who could blame him. They were good… I took a couple off his plate! Shhhh! My white bean chili was rather impressive as well. I couldn’t believe that my children were behaving so well. I didn’t compliment them until much later as I didn’t want to jinx my good luck!

After lunch we headed to the toy store to get a Birthday gift for a little friend of ours, then to GameStop to get a game for Rebecca’s DS. This too cost us nothing and was purchased using a gift certificate! I rewarded each child by getting them one of those really cool swirly, large as your head lollipops. Something I normally would never ever do! It was approaching 2:00 and the kids could have stayed at the mall all day but I wanted Alexander to nap before it got too late. He fell asleep in the car as we headed home. When he woke up the first thing he asked for was his popop and a glass of white milk. He also wanted to watch an episode of Blue’s Clues and I let him because the other two were playing quietly and saw no reason not to!

One last thing to do was go to the grocery store. I knew I would be met with some major resistance so I suggested a quick trip to Target just across the street. Christopher wanted to see what Star Wars figures there were and he had an unused gift certificate as well. I am telling you all, it really pays to save such things for a rainy day!

He did not find what he was looking for at Tarjay but did find something else he wanted equally as much. His new purchase in hand I knew he would not fight me tooth and nail at the grocery store! This was all going according to plan.

At the grocery store the kids fared much better than I had expected. They helped me get items and ate dinner, quite literally, at the deli counter! Christopher took charge of the shopping cart and pushed Alexander through the store. And any time I attempted to push it Alexander would shout out “Go away! I want Brother to push me! Brother! Brother!” It was pretty amusing. I left them at the bottom of an aisle as I went in search of some plain vinegar to decorate our eggs. The kids were being loud and silly, but not misbehaving at all — and as I walked back towards them I leaned over to a lady inspecting the Ketchup selection and asked her if she thought anyone would notice if I kept walking out of the store and just left them behind! She was quite amused!

I might have done such the day before… but yesterday they were mine and cute and making me rather proud to be their mom!

Alexander and the terrible, no good, very bad day…

It was one of those days. We all have them from time to time. Unfortunately I seem to be having them more often than not lately. Frazzled beyond belief. Overtired. Running on empty… those are a few descriptions that would adequately describe me as of late. Not to mention snappish, short tempered and sad. Very sad. I used to be full of energy and ideas. My friends used to be in awe of the fun things I would come up for the kids to do. A cooking project here, an art project there… A trip to this place or that. It was not so long ago that I filled the kids heads and eyes with the most wondrous things. For some reason it all came to a crashing halt. Alexander seems to be missing out on the most. I never know quite how preschool teachers have the stamina to run their programs day in and day out, always bursting with energy, enthusiasm and fantastic ideas. I have been doing this for 10 years now and I have run out of energy, enthusiasm and ideas. I have run out of steam. Poor Alexander. He does not get the same attention from the that the other two did. He doesn’t know what he is missing. He is missing out on a lot, I believe. I am here with him all day long as I was with the other two, but instead of someone brimming with fun things to do, all he has in Mom. Just plain boring Mom. He years for the baby sitters who grace us with their presence. He is eager to see his mommy go and doesn’t seem to elated to see my return. It’s sad and I wish I had a cure for this.

I wonder if this is why Alexander acts out more than the other two have. He is certainly a very curious little boy but so was his brother. The difference is that Christopher was never fascinated with plugs outlets and all things dangerous. And Alexander’s fascination with this stuff started long before I became just a Tired Out Old Mother. Perhaps that’s what tired me out? Alexander can get into every child proofed drawer and cabinet. Alexander can and will get into everything and Alexander can and will keep you on your toes.

Yesterday was a tough day for us all. Alexander was as trying as ever, perhaps even more so and would set me off every few minutes. My short fuses were shorting out left and right. I was taking my anger and frustrations out on him as well as the other two. We are home with no where to go for two very long weeks. We have no friends around to play with us. It is hard to amuse a 9, 7 and 2 year old whose interests are vastly different. Yesterday I forced them all to play together! And they played beautifully and I felt guilty that we were not out on some creative little field trip or unleashing our inner Picassos or Mario Battalis… everything loomed so much larger than life. What loomed largest of all was the mess that a healthy dose of creativity would have yielded. It is virtually impossible to keep a house on the market spotless and this is driving me (and I am sure the kids completely insane.) I would rather say no to the potential buyers, at least for these 2 weeks. But I have been advised not to. And my better judgement will tell me not to as well. I have to find a way to be a little less OCD about keeping the house picture perfect. I mean, there are 3 children here after all, and it can not be expected that a house stays spotless… unless I keep them locked up in the shed! I could put a rug in there… hang some curtains… Hey, maybe we are on to something!

They say kids can sense things even when they are too young to truly understand. But he was absolutely out of control yesterday. Below, a list of all his damages…

1. poured a glass of milk all over the counter
2. poured a glass of water all over the kitchen table
3. decided to play with the water machine in the fridge (one of the kids forgot to lock it)
4. stuck hand in jar of $50 face cream, leaving almost nothing left for me
5. unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper
6. unrolled almost an entire roll of paper towels — I saw this and caught him in the act!
7. got into the child-proofed cabinet under the sink and took out cleaning supplies — again I caught him mid act and was able to avoid a disaster
8. got a hold of a gallon of water and emptied it on kitchen floor… I got there a little too late to prevent that one!
9. threw a brass bull (that was D’s from Pamplona, Spain when he ran with the bulls…. Oh I see the Alexander-Daddy connection now!!!!) at Christopher’s foot which left a nasty cut and bruise…
10, went around tossing toys all over the place and as soon as they were cleaned up he tossed them out all over again…
11. got into a chocolate bar
12. dumped a bowl of dry cereal on the kitchen floor
13 and lastly decided to eat/play with his bowl of soup with his hands…

I had been up since 4:30 so without his antics it was an unbearably long and tiring day as it was. It’s a good thing that the mind allows us to forgive (and no it does not allow us to forget, because the pain of childbirth is still fresh on my mind and it has been a while) because instead of harboring ill-will or even resentment this morning I just looked at his sweet face and my heart melted all over again, much as it had on September 7, 2005.

A good thing because as soon as I got downstairs after a little voice begged, pleaded “Mommy, Wake up! Mommy Stop Sleeping!” I noticed that Someone had turned the thermostat off at some point yesterday (#14!) No wonder it was so chilly last night…

Finally, a little something for me!

I had aranged for my sitter to come yesterday morning. I had no plans and no agenda whatsoever. Nothing but 3 hours to kill and no errands to run and nothing to do for anyone but myself. After dropping the kids off at school I headed to Starbucks and ordered a tall no-fat caramel machiato. Then the cell phone rang. It was Rebecca asking if I would come to school to see her Star of the Week presentation. Nothing like a little advance warning! Warm cup of coffee in hand I headed over to school. As much as I didn’t want to I had no reason not to and if my presence in that classroom for a mere 15 minutes would mean that much to her, then how could I deny her my attention?

By 10:30 I was out of the school and heading to the parking lot. I had about an hour and 15 minutes before setting the sitter free, getting Alexander dressed because no doubt he’d be a mess, and collecting my kids and their two friends from school to go see a Lego exhibit in Stamford. I really wanted a manicure and pedicure. I really needed a manicure and pedicure. If they could take me immediately I would be able to get home in time. Instead of wandering or driving aimlessly to kill time, as I am prone to do, I decided that I would make this work. I would get my hands and feet pampered. And I did and it felt great!

Early this afternoon after I had taken the boys to soccer and to get some lunch I drove Alexander around to get him to take his nap. I returned home with a floppy blond-haired boy out cold in my arms. I placed him gingerly on my bed, tucked him under his red “Wee Woo” blanket and crept down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs I stated, very matter of factly, that I was going off to the bookstore to get a new book. I wanted to do this with no time restrictions and no children. I wanted to peruse book after book on the various shelves. I wanted to flip through soft paper pages and admire the pretty covers. I did not want the distractions of little children begging for this, that or the other. I wanted to enjoy a bookstore the way I had before children had taken over my life. Without permission I left the house.

I spent about an hour and a half in the bookstore doing exactly what I had set out to do. I poured over dozens and dozens of books looking for the absolute perfect read. I wanted a book I could lose myself in. I wanted something well writen and yet not heavy. I wanted a book that would allow me to read just 5 pages at a time if that was all I had. I wanted a book that would allow me to pick right back up where I had left off. I scoured and scoured for just that book. Eventually I found it and satisfied I paid for my purchase and headed home. A couple of hours of solitude can do an imense amount for the soul. Trouble was as I neared the house I started to get more and more agitated at the thought of the children runningyellingshouting through the house… at the thought that my husband was most likely stressed out by the noise and the commotion at the house. Luckily, this was not the case and I came home to find calm instead of the anticipated chaos. Rebecca was on my laptop playing Webkinz and the two older boys were playing Star Wars on the wii. Alexander was plunking away happily on his little toy laptop. Upon seeing this I went upstairs and retrieved my blanket from the bed, came back down to finish the book I had been reading, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and settled into the living room couch with an incredible sense of calm. I wanted to devour the remainder of the book and yet I wanted to take my sweet time finishing it. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I closed the book. I was glad to have another one to lose myself into. Sometimes something as simple as a great read is a great mini vacation, temporary escape. Unfortunately my newest selection could not hold a candle to the story that Jeannette Walls had to tell.