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Holy cow, you guys...

... the Fool's Gold* video for "Surprise Hotel" has just over 60,000 hits on YouTube. Go Bradleah**!

Need a little drop of summertime? Check out the video (Bradleah is the sax player***)

* Fool's Gold is one of my brother's bands that is catching quite a bit of buzz. They're on tour in Europe right now.
** Bradleah is my brother. His name is pronounced "Bradley". Yes, he knows it's spelled weird. If you wanna get on his nerves, pronounce his name brad-LEE-uh. It's kinda fun.
*** The real sax player, not the bikini-clad girl pretending to be a sax player.

I'm back in the kitchen again...

I was totally singing that title as I typed it.

We've been doing three things around here lately that have really bothered me:

1. Eating way too much fast food
2. Spending a fortune on groceries
3. Throwing away way too many groceries that we never got around to cooking

I'm on a mission to solve all three.

I've checked into make-ahead meals in the past, and honestly, it always just overwhelmed me. Most info out there is geared towards cooking for one day  (or even one weekend) and having meals for a month. That sounds nice, but seriously - if I can find a whole day to do anything, it will be sleeping, not cooking. Also, I don't have that much room in my freezer.

Then there was that article in Parents a few weeks ago that ticked me off so badly. In an effort to see if I could cook five REAL meals for a decent price, I made up a menu and a corresponding shopping list that included only the ingredients needed for those meals. Wait a minute - how handy is this? Wouldn't it be awesome to have a bunch of menus and grocery lists ready to go, that I could just pull from on any given week? (Yes, I realize I'm probably not the first person to have this idea. Whatever.)

So, I started hunting down recipes, and devised my menu for the first week. I only included one make-ahead meal, because I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about that yet (or whether we would actually eat them once made). We actually DID eat them - twice. Fabulous both times. Anyway, I present to you, Week 1 of my latest obsession (and actually, I've done this for two weeks so far, and the second menu is even better, but I'm holding out on you. Get over it.)

Week 1 - menu, recipes, grocery list. You're welcome.

I should note that the grocery list assumes that you keep the usual staples like salt, pepper, oil, etc. on hand. If you don't (or if you just haven't been to the grocery store in awhile), you might want to read through the recipes first. Also, not all of the recipes are original to me - I gave credit where it's due. A word of warning about the recipes labeled "from Anna's brain": I don't write recipes down, ever. I cook by taste, smell and sight. I'm pretty sure most of the measurements and cooking times are fairly accurate, but ya know... if something looks wacky, adjust accordingly.
Oops... looks like I've gone another week without posting. It's been a crazy week. Seems like I was late getting home almost every night. Throw in a night of insomnia, work and a bunch of kid activities... and yeah, no posts.

My big surprise this week is how much I'm truly enjoying being a Girl Scout leader (obviously, since I've now signed on to be Co-Service Unit Manager, too... more on that once I have some idea of what it actually means). Really, though, the girls are fantastic. There are 12 of them, which can be a little overwhelming at times, but they do seem to be enjoying themselves. They rocked out cookie sales. I thought we'd be lucky to hit 250 boxes total, and they sold 848!! We're gonna have one heck of a spring outing. :)

The next post will be more substantial - I promise!

But it's so warm and relaxing in here!

Not more than 10 seconds after I posted this:

Sera created shit stew in the bathtub. Nothing like a nice warm tub to get things moving. What I find most amazing is that stuff like this doesn't even phase me anymore. I get the babies out, clean out the tub (a cat scoop is quite handy in situations like these), run new water, give the babies a quick re-wash, done. Yes, this happens far more frequently than it probably should in our house. The hazards of letting a baby with poop issues* play in the tub, instead of just washing her and getting her the fuck out.

Apologies for the crappy (har!) image quality. Had to use paint, because I can't find my case for Photoshop Elements, and therefore don't have the serial number, and my trial version has expired. Guess it's time to call Adobe.

Also - yes, I put the girls in the tub and leave the room. I also sometimes sleep in and let my 7-year old feed everyone pizza for breakfast. Right now, I'm hiding in my bedroom and can hear Reagan and Sera downstairs playing in the recycling bin (and by playing I mean gleefully distributing milk jugs and beer cans all over the kitchen). I'm aiming for Badparent of the Year Decade.

* UNSOLICITED ADVICE: Got a constipated baby? Put her in a tub full of warm water about chest-high. Let her play around for awhile, or if you're in a hurry, massage her belly. Either way, prepare for the mudslide. Gross, but works every time!

As of January, I'm the (not so) proud owner of a Parents magazine subscription. I don't know how it happened, but I know I didn't ask for it, or pay for it.  I'd previously canceled my subscriptions to all parenting magazines, because they invariably piss me off (except Wondertime. Man, I really miss Wondertime!) Apparently someone out there decided I don't have enough angst in my life, so they're kindly adding some to my mailbox monthly. Yippee!

The first issue didn't do too badly - I got a whole 40 pages in before I started yelling at the magazine (yes, I do that). That's when I got to one of the articles that was splashed on the cover: 5 Dinners on a Budget. The big idea in the lead-in from the chef/writer is to save money by using frozen foods (duh).  He goes on to say that Parents challenged him to cook five healthy dinners for a family of four on a $50 budget. The $50 had to pay for everything excluding pantry staples such as oil and dried herbs.

Sounds good, right? It is, until you see the meals. The highest calorie content per serving is 231 calories. One of them is 195 calories! Sorry, but that's not dinner - that's a side dish. If I were to have four 231-calorie "meals" in a day, my intake would be 924 calories. I tried giving them the benefit of the doubt: maybe they accidentally calculated toddler portions. No, even my toddlers require about 1100 calories per day, and the older kids need around 1600. So chef, you may have made five dinners for $50, but they were for a family of two - maybe - NOT a family of four. If a REAL family of four wanted to eat more realistic portions of your five meals, they'd pretty much have to double them - which means spending around $100, not $50. Quite misleading, if you ask me.

Out of curiosity, I decided to see if I could get anywhere close to 5 meals for $50 for my family. With very little planning, I didn't do too badly - 5 dinners of around 400 calories per serving for about $78 total. And considering I have a family of 7, I'd say that's pretty good! On the menu this week:

- Salmon with dill sauce and steamed broccoli
- Roasted chicken with garlic & artichokes
- London broil with baked potato bar
- Veggie-stuffed pasta shells with garlic bread
- Pork tenderloin with cabbage & apple slaw

All stuff my kids love, and all relatively healthy. Take that, Parents.

They're magically delicious

Was up at oh-dark-thirty this morning thanks to Reagan.  Thought I'd go back to bed for a few more winks, but the pitter patter of Gracie's feet coming down the stairs demanded otherwise.  She wandered into the kitchen and gave me a giant hug, and I was all You're up early - it's still dark out!  And she said, Well, it's almost light and I heard the water  so I knew you were up, so I just jumped out of bed to come see you! And damn - how could I go back to bed in the face of such cuteness?  And so, chocolate chip pancakes it was - from scratch, no less!

She dragged a chair over to the counter while I gathered the ingredients.  I even let her crack the eggs*.  About that time, Levi showed up and hauled his own chair over so he could see what was going on.  It was time to start cooking by then, but he and Gracie were completely distracted playing house with the kitchen utensils (don't ask), so the pancake flipping was all on me, which is probably good, given that the cast iron griddle weighs more than Gracie and Levi put together.

A bed-headed Jonny made his way into the kitchen just as I was flipping the last pancake onto a plate.  Amazingly, he didn't pass out at the sight of his mom cooking breakfast (it's been awhile), and we all sat down to enjoy the feast.  Did I mention that I put chocolate chips in the pancakes?  Yeah - I've been elevated to hero status.  We ate, Jonny and Gracie got dressed for school (and I only had to ask Jonny three times, instead of the usual eleven), and Levi changed his diaper (tried to get him to the potty - he went in the bathroom and tried for a second, then rolled his eyes and said Mommy, I don't need to pee.  I already peed in my diaper!)  

Final analysis:
- good hair day for me
- full bellies
- two kids who got to the bus on time, in clothes that match, with no major battles
- Levi peed in his diaper

Ok, so that last one's not exactly a win, but I still think chocolate chip pancakes might be magic.

* UNSOLICITED ADVICE: When cooking with kids - or grownups, for that matter - always crack eggs into a separate bowl.  Makes it easier to fish out stray shells (or worse, if you're unlucky enough to get one that's growing an actual bird.  Mmm... liquid chicken.)

Levi Funny

So, I haven't written here in about a hundred years.  I decided today that I'm going to fix that, and what better place to start than with a fun Levi story?

Lee and I are quickly becoming convinced that Levi will never be potty trained.  He'll be 4 next month.  The most recent proof came yesterday.  I bought a package of Oreos, and told Levi that he could have one every time he used the potty.  Hoping a little peer pressure would help, I also told Jonny and Gracie that they could only have an Oreo when Levi used the potty.  Levi was all gung-ho, and immediately went to the bathroom, peed in the toilet, collected his cookie, and happily passed out cookies to his brother and sister.  Good start!  I asked him if he wanted to wear underwear for the day, and he said he did.  Woohoo!

Fast forward a couple of hours.  Lee had been asking Levi if he needed to go potty about every 15 minutes.  The answer was always "nope."  After about two hours, Lee started asking Levi if he was wet, knowing he had probably peed in his pants by then.  Again, the answer was "nope."  Finally, I asked Levi if he was dry.  The answer: "nope."  Sure enough,  a quick check revealed wet pants.  *sigh*

Lee said, "Come on, Levi.  Come over here so we can put a diaper on you."  Levi walked over obediently and lay down.  As Lee was stripping him of his wet pants, Levi said, "Well, I guess I don't have to go to school now!"  (We've been telling him that he can't go to school until he wears underwear and uses the potty).

I'm pretty sure we've been out-maneuvered.


Reagan & Sera's first birthday cake

Reagan and Sera are one year old!  Can you believe it?  Yeah, me neither.  Does anyone even read this blog anymore?  Well, if you are reading, here's a treat for ya - video of the girls "enjoying" their first birthday cake.  Ah, the things you can get away with as a baby!

Wow - lots of breastfeeding talk going on in the blogosphere this week.  The Atlantic published The Case Against Breastfeeding.  A popular blogger breastfed another woman's baby, and got publicly blasted for it.  Someone suggested that moms who are having a hard time breastfeeding should give up after two weeks.  Then there was the great breastfeeding in public debate that got so heated, it has a part 2.

Follow me...

I've finally joined twitter: http://twitter.com/5rottens. Love it, but the inability to search for people is frustrating. Hope they fix that soon. Aside from that, I think I'm addicted!

This Month

January 2010


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