February 17, 2009

She must have done something, er, right...

Ok before I move onto this post, I have to say that Bug is a walking (well, not exactly) example of cause and effect. You pee - your diaper gets wet. You hit yourself in the face with a toy - it doesn't feel very good. You cram your fingers too far down your throat - you gag. You fall off the couch backwards - it hurts, badly.

His latest one is, Mama whips out the Girls - you get to eat! When this little man sees the buffet line open you would think his eyes were about to pop out. He starts chattering away like they are long lost friends. It's actually kind of disturbing. (Bug, my eyes are up here!) I would like to say that baby's are in fact NOT to old for breastfeeding when the can ask for it, but apparently I'm going to have to convince myself a little more.

Now, onto the post!

My mother did not teach me very much about the finer art cooking. I have my theories about why she didn't take a more active role in cultivating my homemaking talents. But that doesn't change the fact that I came into marriage with only soups and casseroles under my belt. This is not to say that she is not a good cook. She is incredible, something of a magician. She can make amazing meals out of absolutely nothing,. You put her in a kitchen with a chicken leg, two onions, and some honey and she will come back with a three course meal.

I must have picked something up because last night, I pulled a Mom. It is hard to describe what "a Mom" means. It usually involves extreme impatience, forgetfulness, and generally not doing things correctly. Thankfully, she also has a gift of resuscitating and recreating meals that others would deem beyond hope.

Here's my Mom moment. I used to make cookies called oatmeal scotchies and the other day I got a bad craving for them. We had some caramel pieces which I figured could sub in for the required butterscotch chips. I found an appropriate recipe and went at it. They smelled great but when I took the first batch out it was obvious they were not going to bake up well. The edges were totally burnt but the centers were still uncooked. So what do I? Scrape the bad cookies off the sheets (burnt bits and all) and threw them into a baking pan. I crunched them up, mixed the rest of the batter in, and threw it in the oven.

The result? It tasted good, if you didn't break a tooth. The caramel had melted and, well, caramelized, leaving an impenetrable, possibly dangerous texture. It would have made lovely building material. Getting a piece required chiseling a fork through the crust and using the leverage of full body weight to pry it out. I hacked away at over the course of a day until I decided the risk was not worth the taste. So here came my moment of brilliance. I decided to jackhammer the remainer out of the pan (taking care not to crack the glass), grind it up in the blender (cross your fingers that the blades don't break) and make a pie crust. Scraping that stuff out literally made my teeth hurt from the sound. But I think it will work and I am very happy with myself for using the unusable. My mother would be proud...

But here is where any similarities end. Whereas my mother would be rummaging through the cabinets trying to figure out how to make a pie out of crystallized honey and expired yogurt, I bought Jello.

The final irony: I plan on serving said pie this weekend for visitors. My parents...

February 16, 2009

Always at the worst time...

My husband works at something called an FBO. Here's a little history lesson. When planes were first taking to the skys, flights were so rare and take off and landing points to irregular, that fuel truck just followed around on the ground. This occurred up until WWI when it became obvious that they needed fixed fueling stations. Hence the creation of a Fixed Base Operation. Think of it as a full service, 24 gas station for planes. Because of the 24 hour operation, his schedule is very sporadic. By the time everyone has their 40 hours a week and all the days off they need, there is no telling what days he'll have off. For the most part he gets every other weekend and two days during the over week. He usually works 2-10 and 4-12 on Fridays. This schedule is very hard to work around with a baby who should be going to bed early and my school in the morning. I want to stay up to see my Bear and I want to keep Bug up so he'll sleep in and let his Daddy rest. The result is that no one gets quite enough sleep and I am very happy when when my husband gets to spend all day with us.

Except that doesn't ever seem to happen. In fact, I an starting to dread days off because it means something bad will happen. A friend's car will break down and he will have to go fix it, our car will go on the fritz and need work, a family member will get sick and we have to go visit. Something always happens.

Today was a day off. I didn't remember until I got home from school and crawled back into bed with my boys. I was so happy that I didn't have to say goodbye to my Bear in two hours but I almost immediately started waiting for the "phone call." It came around noon. My husband is doing some work restoring a '79 Firebird. He set up shop in a hanger at work and had since moved the car out but left the engine and some miscellaneous parts. His boss asked him to get it out by the end of the month because the were going to rent out that hanger. Fine. The phone call was a work buddy informing him that he had to get it out today. Still fine. Wait until ten when this friend gets off, go out their, load it up, bring in back to our shed. No big deal, needed to be done anyways.

Well, around 5 this same friend calls back with some bad news. Last night when him and my husband were putting up a plane it seems the wing hit the wall of the hanger. My husband was driving the tug and the friend was walking by the wing for the very purpose of keeping an eye on the clearance. The corporate head quarters recently issued a very specific set of rules for wing-walkers to avoid this exact situation. It comes down to two things. Either the friend wasn't doing his job and let it hit or someone else hit it while taking the plane out today and lied. Bear is sure he would have known if he did it.

Here's the bad part...

Regardless of who's fault it is, Bear has to go in for a mandatory drug test as early as possible in the morning. The place opens at 8 and I have class at 9:30. Drug testing has taken up to two hours in the past. I cannot miss class and we cannot get a baby sitter for Bug with this short of notice. We could leave him with some ladies at Bear's work but that would mean he couldn't eat from 8 until 11. "Not eat?" you ask. "Just take a bottle," you say. Yes, that would work for any cooperative kind of baby. But Bug, in his parent's stubborn style, absolutely refuses to take a bottle as of last week. Great. That might put a little kink in my 'year of exclusive breastfeeding while finishing college full time' plans.

Here's the really bad part...

All the line guys get a $115 incentive check every month...if no one breaks anything. That means if one person screws up, they have 8 angry coworkers breathing down their neck wondering where their little bonus is. At the other FBOs it is very rare that something doesn't happen so their check is truly a reward. But here has the lowest accident rate out of the twelve locations so the check is kind of expected. In fact, Bear has only not gotten in one other time. A guy forgot to put the gas cap on the plane so when the pilot took off he noticed his fuel gauge dropping quickly and gas trailing out behind him. He circled around and landed, catching his plane on fire in the process. Of course that happened during an absolutely dismal month financially and we were really waiting for that little break.

Which brings us to, why this is such a bummer...

We are trying to save as much money as possible because we are planning on moving in April. We are in a cute little townhouse right now but it is time to be homeowners. Renting was a wonderful thing for us and completely the right choice for the time. But with all the changes happening in the government and the low housing market, there is no better chance. Add to it my mom recently getting her real estate license and you've got a winning deal!

$115 is not very much to some, but it a lot to us. We need as much as possible in the bank because we have no credit. It's not the end of the world but it is a bummer.

Anyways, Bear went in to try and explain that he doesn't think it was his fault. Hopefully his boss is still there. And while he's at it, his friend can help him get the engine out. Providing Bear still wants to speak to him. He was not a very happy Bear when he left...

February 13, 2009

And on the eighth day, God made Tater...Part 1

And gave her a Bear, then a Bug, and their life was good.

Today I'm participating in the SWAK carnival at We Are That Family. I've read a few of the stories so far (mostly on the blogs that I already frequent) and I've noticed a reoccurring theme. It seems like every one of these ladies were traveling along, peacefully or not, in one direction when PLOP! God stuck the perfect guy in front of their face.

My love story is no different. Except mine is completely devoid of romance, flowers, or anything of that sort. It is a when the rubber hits the road, till death do us part kind of love story. Only God could give this one a happy ending. This is how I became a Tater...

I left my safe, home schooled life at the age of 16 to go to college. Most people said I was too young but their was nothing for me to do at home. I had exhausted the local community college and it would have killed me to sit around for two years until I was "ready." Besides, I had a plan and support system of faculty and administration. I had a full ride scholarship in engineering and it seemed like everyone was bending over backwards to make sure I was comfortable and taken care of. It was a very small college and their concern was genuine. I was starting a new chapter in my life and it was going to be wonderful.

It was going to be so wonderful that I decided I wouldn't even consider having a boyfriend until my Junior year. I never had before that so what was the point in it? Keep that in mind...

My parents helped me move in to my single apartment on campus the day before I went to the freshman orientation camp. ::Side note: The three days at that camp were the best of my life. It was truly one of those life changing experiences. I wish I could go back and explain to myself how much I was going to appreciate that time.:: Anyways, the next morning I had to be at the athletic center at 9:30am to load up in the buses. Like the good little freshman that I was, I woke up extra early and trotted off to buy my books (to be "prepared", even though classes didn't start for an other week). I got back to my apartment and remembered that I needed to turn in my room assessment form at the office before I left. So off I went.

I remember being so scared to walk out my front door. I was nervous about this whole, living alone concept so everything was big and scary and not to be trusted. The thought that I was living in an apartment complex, surrounded by people who obviously knew exactly what they were doing was terrifying. I prayed that I would encounter no one, lest I had to make human contact. I walked quickly, but as I rounded the corner into the courtyard I saw someone. Not just any someone, a male someone. He wore jeans and a dark t-shirt and he had LONG HAIR. I was petrified. Long hair could only mean bad things, most likely that he was going to rape me. Imagine my horror when he fell in behind me and followed me all the way to the office. The situation grew worse when he opened the door for me. (Rapists always open doors for ladies, right?) We found the office closed, he commented about it, I muttered something under my breath and fairly ran back to the safety of my new home.

When I was growing up I always hoped I would remember the first time I met my husband. Unfortunately I do. He does too. He said I looked like I fell out of the 80's that morning and he noticed I was very nervous and didn't seem to like him.

Apparently we rode on the bus to camp together and spoke during a "round robin get to know ya". I don't remember. I do remember that once I realized on one planned to rape me, I felt strangely drawn to him. I felt like I had always known him. We talked some at camp and later, after classes started, we were hardly ever apart. The thought of a relationship never entered my head. (Not until Junior year, remember?) He was more like my brother, my best friend. We completed each other's sentences and had everything in common. This was the best time of my life. Classes were easy, I was making friends, and I had him. We used to go out at 2 in the morning and walk around the campus. Our campus has the largest bell tower this side of the Mississippi (that made me feel so hick) and it was beautiful to walk through the lights around it and talk about everything. Once, in late fall, we went out and played in the sprinklers on the green and each jumped in the decorative fountains. Talk about cold! My favorite night of all was when we stayed up all night long, facing each other at each end of the couch, just talking. We were always talking, and we didn't know it but we were always falling in love. But never like that...

I will finish later. This kind of cheating on the carnival but tell that to my screaming, hungry child...

February 10, 2009

Nothing is free...

The other day I actually turned down my husband's offer to help vacuum. I explained that you had to be careful because the vacuum only worked a certain way and it would be easier if I did it. Truth is I was in a hurry and I didn't want to teach him. I also wanted it done right. My philosophy is if you are going to go through the trouble of vacumming (or dusting, or moping, or cleaning toilets...) you may as well do it right (probably because it will not be done again for a while *shhhh*)

He shrugged and watched me go at it. When I turned it off he smugly remarked that he found nothing special about my technique. I believe his exact words were, "It's a good thing because I was gong to get down and push it around with my forehead. I see now that wouldn't have worked."

I love him...really.

The thing is, the vacuum only really sucks on the back stroke. Actually it sucks all the time. But it was free. At a garage sale. *bad sign* My mother went garage saleing on our behalf and this one lady practically started throwing free things at her. Hence the vacuum that only smells smoky part of the time, the chair that broke a little more each time you sat in it (note that one is in past tense), the random, not matching shelf of doom, and the hideously ugly wall art.

Some things are not even worth free.

Except for help with the housework. That is priceless...

February 01, 2009

Oh ye pantry, I challenge thee...

So I am in the middle of a highly customized Pantry Challenge. I was introduced to this idea my Heather over at Want What You Have (follow the links back to get the whole story) but it is really a very common concept. Basically you use only the supplies in your pantry, plus perishable staples such as milk, eggs, and produce, until you can no longer make a healthy, balanced, meal.

Unfortunately (or fortunately!) for me there is no way I could ever follow that exact description. Bear would leave me for Taco Bell by the second anything got "funky." He is not picky by any means but he is extremely particular. For example, I could eat a bowl of applesauce, a warmed tortilla, and a piece of cheese and easily call that a meal. But to him, those things just don't "go" together. Everything has to "go" together. I still trying to figure out what that means. Apparently there is some magical food rule book I failed to read.

The real problem is that Bug is allergic to me eating tomatoes. He get a terrible diaper rash and everyone is up all night. I was allergic too as a baby. I outgrew it but they still aren't my favorites. I think if I ate enough I might have problems and that is my body's way of keeping that from happening. I could never use every last thing without making a number of soups and Bear only likes tomato based soup. (Besides, soup is a threat to our marital bliss...)

I don't really want to do a full out PC anyways. What I do want to do is use a little creativity to use up the lurkers at the back of pantry and go past the point when there is "no thing to eat." I want shopping on the 20th and my plan was to go at least three weeks, possibly four, and to only spend 20 dollars in that time. Well, I've already blown it. But I still happy. Here's the break down.

On the 20th, I had a fairly good stockpile including a whole turkey and about 8lbs of brisket. I went shopping and got the following items:

2 crescent rolls
2 pie crust mixes
stir fry veggies
turkey sandwich meat
turkey bacon
sour cream
2 pinto beans
fruit cocktail
kidney beans
enchilada sauce
pineapple slices
cream corn
cream of celery
2 chillies
mandarin oranges
black beans
chili beans
cream of chicken
2 bell peppers
2 onions
4 potatoes
sweat and sour sauce

Total: 61.34

On the 25th, I went shopping with my husband (big mistake, he always makes me buy more than I planned):

all-purpose flour
5lbs 73% beef (on sale 1.30 a lb, good for around here)
olive oil (not even on the list)
2 onions (I use a lot of onions)

Total: 18.13

I just got home from shopping, the 1st. This was my list:

brown sugar
dry milk
chicken granules
flax meal
wheat bran

This is what I ended up with:
4 onions (on sale 0.58/lb from 1.48/lb)
brown sugar
yogurt (to use as starter)
flax meal (for bread)
frozen strawberries (to flavor the yogurt I am going to make)
chocolate trio (on sale, guilty pleasure)
2 frozen green beans


I rarely end up with everything on my list. The good new is that I usually get fewer things. I'm doing far from perfectly but I am still impressed. We are 13 days into it and my husband still hasn't run for the hills. This is about the time that I normally throw up my hands and head for the Hamburger Helper. I'm trying to be creative right from the start so all potential "funkiness" doesn't pile up at the end. I haven't even touched the old stand by recipes yet.

And yes, there is such a thing as two much funkiness...