Monday, March 4, 2013

My Neighbors Hate Me -or- Scream 35 "I Know Why You're Screaming".......

I'm pretty sure that my neighbors hate me. When I see some of them outside or at the store and I politely wave "Hello" to them they give me really weird looks and avoid having to speak to me. I know why.... of course I know why. I scream like a lunatic at my children. People meet my sweet, beautiful children and think, "How on Earth could she ever yell like that at these innocent little cupcakes?" But they don't see or hear what these boys do.... they only hear my reaction to it. Some of you might say, "Screaming at your children is never acceptable, you'll psychologically damage them!" What about ME? If I DON'T scream, these boys will psychologically damage ME!! Here's an example of a situation, that happened today actually, that I felt warranted screaming like a God damned Banshee......

I have recently fallen hardcore into a "Wellness Overhaul" as I like to call it. We are eating mostly organic foods, using natural products, soaps, lotions, etc. in an attempt to feel better, get sick less often, and just generally be well and Earth friendly. It's a fun but expensive process, worth it - completely worth it, but again, emphasis on "Expensive." Some Organics cost twice as much (or more) than their chemical-ridden zombie-modified ticket-to-cancer-town counterparts. For example..... Bananas. "Normal" bananas cost around .59 per pound. Organics cost about 1.00 per pound. I used to think, "It's not important to buy organic bananas, they have a peel so the pesticides probably don't get into the actual food...." But as I recently discovered, it's not only about the pesticides, it's the TASTE! My God, the taste... Organic fruits and vegetables taste SO good. Noticeably better. The way nature intended them to taste. And in a way, I have become a produce snob. I bought some non-Organic apples recently and could barely stand to eat them, they were flavorless, like eating stale air. Which I never would have noticed, had I not had an orgasmic experience with a 3.00 Organic Honeycrisp..... But I digress....

So last week at the Grocery store, I happened upon a beautiful display of splendidly perfect Organic bananas at .99 per pound. I grabbed the biggest bunch they had, and it rang up at close to 4.00. (Don't judge me!) I brought them home and put them in my wrought iron fruit basket, and placed it upon a beautiful round green woven place mat in the center of my dining room table. A work of art, I tell you - majestic. And there on a perfect status-symbol green label all around the bunch is a sticker proclaiming "ORGANIC!" I already feel like I'm going to live forever. I am pleased with the purchase and the display so I walk away, basking in my triumph. The boys are busy playing so I sit down to read, getting lost in my book and forgetting to listen to what those little rascals are doing. After a few pages I realize that I'm hearing a weird banging noise. I've been hearing it for a while now, but "mom-brain" has been kind of blocking it out but now I'm definitely hearing it and the alarm bells are sounding that something is horribly wrong.

I take a deep breath and close my book. "Oh Dear God, no. Please don't let this be what I think is happening...."

I walk out to the dining room.

Both boys are sitting on top of the table.

with a hammer....

smashing my bananas.

I scream.

I scream.

I scream.

So the neighbors have no idea that my kids just destroyed something that was important to me (yeah yeah, they were just bananas, but on some level, they were important and symbolic to ME). They don't know that my kids just did something stupid and dangerous and destructive and infuriating. All they know is that woman next door is screaming like a psychotic bitch. So that's why my neighbors hate me. I'm sorry, I just do not possess whatever it is that takes over in some mothers and allows them to be cool, calm and collected in situations like this. Whatever that part of the psyche is, I don't have it. My kids know I love them, I don't ever hit them, I call that a win. But they do things like this all the time.

New List: Recent reasons I have blown a lung from screaming at the boys

1. Shea wrapping a plastic grocery bag around Kellan's head
2. Shea wrapping the ribbon from a balloon around Kellan's neck
3. Kellan pushing the computer chair up to the counter so he could play with a knife
4. Kellan using a toy cup to drink water out of the dog bowl

and those all happened in the past month..... So I scream. Judge away.....

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Downside of Couponing -or- Puke-burger Helper

As ya'll know (yes, I said ya'll, I'm newly southern so I'm trying it out....) I'm a couponer. Not an extreme couponer, I don't have 43 toothbrushes and 50 bags of Cat Litter and no cat. I just strategically use coupons to get items for dirt cheap in what I thought was reasonable quantities. I have recently discovered the down -side of couponing and even more surprising was the realization that there even WAS a down side. The down side is this: I have a large quantity of disgusting food that I don't want to eat.

This week my 4-year-old went to the optometrist. He wears glasses because he has low vision, astigmatism and a "wandering eye." While there we got excellent news. His vision is improving significantly. He may not even need glasses when he gets older. YES! The bad news.... he needs a new prescription, our insurance won't cover any of it. Shit. So reluctantly I handed over my debit card.... goodbye grocery money for the next two weeks. But it's hard to feel bad about spending money on your child's health, this is his vision, his ability to see - I'd fork over the mortgage payment if I had to so that my baby could see better.

I call my husband and tell him the good news, he is ecstatic. Then I tell him the bad news, his response is the same as mine. "Shit." But then he says, "It's ok, we have a ton of food from your couponing, we'll just make ourselves eat that for the next two weeks." Well that makes perfect sense, this is amazing, this is what couponing is for, situations exactly like this. Driving home I take a mental inventory of what we have in our food stockpile, we should be fine, I should only need to buy milk and yogurt.... maybe some beef, we're good. We should be fine.

We are not fine. When I get home I look at what we actually have: 8 boxes of Hamburger Helper, 4 bags of Bird's Eye "Voila!" frozen meals, 10 (f@*#ing 10!!) boxes of frozen fish sticks (I don't even like fish), a bunch of cans of soup, and two packages of Polish Sausage. What the @*$# did I do? Why did I buy this crap? Oh yeah, because I had coupons for them, they were on sale and I got them for pennies. But in my inner monologue I'm asking myself, why would I even buy these things that I don't like and I don't feel "good" about feeding to my family? I actually really like to cook, I love to find interesting new recipes on Pinterest and dazzle my family with my amazing cooking "skillz". I feel a little depressed as I realize that I don't get to cook for two weeks. I have to "prepare" these processed "food items". I guess maybe somewhere I rationalized it by saying, "Well, yes Hamburger Helper is terrible for you but when the Zombie Apocolypse comes, I'll have a bunch of shelf stable food that will last forever and we won't starve while we are running for our lives from our undead neighbors."

Well, today is day four of this two week excursion into food poverty and I already feel sick. I am having stomach "problems", I gagged while making our Hamburger Helper tonight because one box into the stash and I'm already sick of it. I don't think I'll be able to eat the fish. We eat it once a week as it is, and the thought of eating any more if it makes my stomach churn. I'm even attempting to be creative by making pancakes one night, soup and sandwiches another night..... but I still feel like failure as a homemaker for not cooking an actual meal for my family. The funny thing is, though, when I spend hours making good, wholesome, organic and healthy meals for my kids, they won't touch it. But guess how fast they inhaled the Puke-burger helper.... I didn't have the threaten their lives ONCE to get them to eat it, ... not once. Why is that??

But even in this bleakest of hours, I don't denounce couponing. I will, however, be changing my tactics. I will no longer stockpile food that I don't want in the off-chance of needing it during a food crisis. I will no longer get food that is not healthy just because it was cheap. From now on, I will only use coupons on items that I want and need, and that I will not feel bad about serving to my family. I solemnly swear.....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Is it Possible to Recover from being a Crappy Parent?

My children are spoiled.

                                  (Shea in 2010, already with more toys than a baby needs)

And not a cute, "everyone loves them and showers them with gifts" kind of spoiled. We're talking, "expects a toy every time we enter a store" spoiled and "screams like a mad man" otherwise kind of spoiled. It's seriously out of control. It's our fault - totally, completely our fault. So let's break it down, problem and solution, CSI style...

Exhibit A -

At the dentist...Shea is a little nervous....the hygienist says, "If you're a big brave boy you'll get a special prize when you're done!" Shea, "Ok, but make it a spider with a squishy tummy that sticks to the window. That's what I want." Later, she offers him a toothbrush. Shea: "......... I don't like those. Will you get me one that has Buzz Lightyear on it?"

Exhibit B -

At our grocery store, the butcher gives out string cheese to the kids to keep them busy while mom and dad are shopping. He noticed my kids eyeballing him and ran right out with two sticks of cheese. Shea took it, looked at it disgustedly and said, "I'd rather have a cupcake." The butcher laughed and said, "Well, I'm sorry all I have is cheese." Shea: "Well, next time you should probably make one for me."

Exhibit C -

My parents came to visit and we picked them up from the airport. We got in the car, buckled up and Shea looked at his grandma and said, "So did you bring a lot of money so you can take me to the toy store?"

Exhibit D -

Shea saw a Jake and the Neverland Pirates Pirate Ship that cost almost 50.00 and begged for it for MONTHS. We kept telling him that it was a little too expensive for a "just because" purchase and that he would have to wait. For his birthday we took him to Toys R Us and let him buy the pirate ship. We took it home, he played with it for 25 minutes and then said, "Can we go back to Toys R Us and buy that Dinosaur I saw." Us - "No, Shea you just got a very expensive pirate ship toy." Shea - "Well let's take it back then and get the Dinosaur, I'm done with it."

I could go on and on with more stories but as I type them it's getting more and more painful for me to relive these. Why is my kid such a brat? We don't act like that, we certainly model good behavior for him when it comes to receiving gifts and being grateful for things we are given. Where did he learn this behavior and how do I stop it???

Matt and I decided that we need to lay down the law.

 (Jedi Style)

Things need to change around here AND fast. The toy buying is getting crazy. I hereby admit that we use shopping for toys as bribery. We told Shea that if he would STAY in his own bed all night, he would get a gold star and at the end of the month, he can cash the stars in for a trip to the toy store. In theory, this sounds fantastic. In practice, it failed miserably. Yes, he sleeps in his own bed now (but still wakes us up 2-3 times a night demanding that Matt go sleep WITH him in his bunk bed), however we have somehow accrued WAY more toys than the "once a month" stipulation and I'm not exactly sure how that happened. When he's getting a new toy once a week, the gold star incentive loses its luster.

So the problem becomes that WE are in more need of discipline than Shea is. WE need to stop buying toys. Ok....sounds simple. Let's do it. Uh oh... Christmas is coming quickly. Hobby Lobby and Wal Mart already have their Christmas "gear" out and we need to start thinking about our game plan. You can't NOT buy your kids toys for Christmas? Can you.....? We've been juggling this around and trying to think of ways to have a toy-free or at least minimal-toy Christmas. Maybe one toy each and the rest books, movies, clothes... I don't know. We're still planning this out and have plenty of time to think about to suggestions!

And today I had to do what I always said I wouldn't do.... enforce TV rules. My parents had TV rules for us. They blocked certain channels, including Mtv which actually did kill me..... and we weren't allowed to turn the TV on until after dinner. When I became a parent I said, "That sucked! I'm going to let my kids watch TV whenever they want...." I know why my parents did that to us. It made us actually have to be human beings. When the TV is on in my house, my kids are vapid, brainless zombies. I could (and have) screamed FIRE!!!!! at the top of my lungs and received absolutely NO response from them. My mom and I call this the "Piper trance," as all males in the Piper side of the family seem to have the ability to focus so intensely on TV that the world could be ending all around them and they'd be oblivious to it. And the moment I decided to put my foot down was today actually.... when I was trying to teach a homeschool lesson to Shea and he was flopping around and rolling his eyes and being just weird. I asked him what his problem was and he said, "I don't want to do school because I'll miss Doc McStuffins....." THAT.WAS.IT. I  immediately informed him that as of RIGHT NOW, there will be new rules in this house, young man. The TV  doesn't get turned on until 6 pm (if at all). And right now, my kids are actually laughing and playing with each other rather than laying on the couch like zombie blobs.

So here I am, declaring publicly on the internet for the whole world to see, I AM A CRAPPY PARENT! I have let this be my life. I have let my children become this. But I am going to change. WE are going to change. I wonder though, if you can ever recover from this? Will my kids always be ungrateful spoiled little brats?? I really hope not. I hope that we can turn this around in time to prevent any lasting damage. There's plenty of hope for Kellan, but Shea...I'm not too sure. I'll keep you informed of our progress!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Couponing - It's not just for Hoarders

A couple of friends have asked me if I would teach them to "Coupon," so here it is...

Here was my score this morning....

It's a lot of food - and it's all name brand, the fruit and veggies are organic, (yes, there are some processed convenience foods, get over yourself). There is 202.70 worth of food here, but I only paid 126.30. That's a savings of 76.40.

My mile-long receipt....

Not my best haul, but it's a good example of a typical shopping trip for me. Once, only once, did I save more than I spent... if memory serves, I spent 104 and saved 107 and on that day I did a happy dance at the checkout.

Couponing is nothing to be ashamed of. I've tried to get friends and family who are struggling financially to take up couponing and they roll their eyes at me or say, "Um, we don't use coupons." So let me get this straight, couponing is tacky, but being on food stamps and government assistance isn't... ok. And I've also had friends and family beg me to teach them to do this and then decide it's too complicated and give up without ever trying.  So here is my tutorial - don't ask me to teach you anymore, just follow these tips and tricks...

One year ago, (and this is embarassing for me to admit) we were spending no less than 150.00 a week on groceries and household items (toilet paper, diapers, etc.) and getting practically nothing. We ate our cupboards bare to the point that by our next paycheck we were eating walmart brand graham crackers all day because that's all we had. I would make a list of food we needed for the week in order of importance and I was never able to get everything on my list. We always made sure the kids had food and diapers but Matt and I survived off of very little. We never had fresh fruit or vegetables in the house because we couldn't afford them.

One day I was flipping through the channels (yes, we had cable but not food... priorities....) and I saw the show "Extreme Couponing" where I watched women walk into a grocery store with a 5 dollar bill and walk out with thousands of dollars worth of food. "" I said to Matt. And I did. I bought the sunday paper and clipped the coupons that I wanted to use, went to the store...and I still got practically nothing and I still spent 150.00. Why wasn't this working?? And then I met my dear friend Aimee, who politely shook her head at me and said, "You are doing it wrong... here let me show you." And my first shopping trip after Aimee's "How to" tutorial, I only spent 100.00 and I saved 80.00.

ANYONE can do this. It's easy. It sounds complicated but after you do it once or twice it becomes second nature and you will never shop the same way again.

Here was what my cupboard looked like one year ago:

Yeah.... nothing. I don't have a picture, but if I did it would be of an empty cupboard with cobwebs hanging from the corners. Imagine a tumble weed and a lone piece of candy corn if you want to.

And here is what my pantry looks like today:

And there is also a top shelf that you can't see with a crap load of condiments. 

I paid next to nothing for all of this. Still think couponing is tacky?

So here are my tips for getting started. 

1. Start buying the sunday paper when there are coupon inserts. You can go to to see what will be in it and if it's worth buying. If there aren't enough coupons that I want to make it worth spending 3.00 on the paper, I won't buy it. If there are a lot of coupons I think I'll use, I'll buy anywhere from 2-4 copies. (Tip: don't clip the coupons, just write the date it was in the paper on the outside corner and file it away. Most couponing websites will tell you where to find a certain coupon by telling you the date it appeared in the paper.)

2. Bookmark websites like and print coupons right from you computer. You can usually print 2 of any coupon. Also go to the website of a particular brand that you like. I like to feed Kellan that YoBaby organic yogurt so I go to and I can print coupons from their website that you won't find anywhere else. 

3. Pick your store. Where I live, Publix and Target are where I get the most for my money. My friends and family back in Michigan, I suggest Kroger. When you are at your store, keep your eyes out for "Store Coupons" (coupons that are redeemable ONLY at that store. At Kroger you have to get a Kroger card and they will send you store coupons in the mail, at Publix they set them out on display at the store) Most of these places will allow you to use 1 store coupon and 1 manufacturer coupon on the same item. For example, let's say Kraft Salad dressing is on sale for 1.99. You have a Kroger store coupon for 1.00 off any one Kraft dressing and a coupon clipped from the paper for 1.00 off any one Kraft dressing. You can use them both and get it completely free - which I HAVE done several times. Salad dressing seems to be on sale a lot. (Tip: some stores will take competitor coupons. My Publix will take Kroger coupons not just for name brand things, but for store brand as well. I get a lot of coupons from Kroger for like, 40 cents off Kroger brand frozen veggies, Publix will honor it on their Publix brand frozen veggies... and they double it so it works out to be 80 cents off...)

4. Find out if your store "doubles." What this means is that they will match your coupon up to a certain amount. For example, my Publix store will double my coupon up to 50 cents. So if Ramen noodles are 99 cents and I have a coupon for 50 cents off, my store will match it at the register and it will be free. 

5. Meal Plan. Sit down and plan what you will make for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole week and ONLY buy what you need. If you just go to the store with a stack of coupons and no list you will be there forever and get a lot of crap you probably didn't need. Meal planning is essential to winning this "game." I never go without my list and I rarely buy things that are not on that list. 

6. Use a "cheat sheet" from a website. There are several websites that will do all the work for you. They scan the ads and sales, and tell you where you can find a coupon for these items and how much your final cost will be. Here are some good ones:,,, and I'm sure there are several others, you just have to hunt for them but they will make your life and your couponing endeavors infinitely easier. Facebook is a good resource - if you "like" products that you use a lot you can find exclusive coupons and samples.

So that's the best I've got for you. I hope it helps! You shouldn't be embarrassed to use coupons, the teenager at the checkout making minimum wage will not laugh at you, I promise. I rarely spend more than 100.00 a week and I get SO MUCH food. And you don't have to buy 100 bottles of ketchup and 1000 rolls of dental floss, you can be practical about it and eat well, and every so often you'll score some free stuff. So off you go! Good luck!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

National Geographic presents: Home-schoolers - The Creatures Exposed

It took me two hours to organize this space yesterday, but I am pleased to present our "Learning Nook."

(Note: The dog bone on the floor is NOT part of the "nook.")

In two weeks Shea and I will officially begin our journey into home-schooling. I know, I know what you're thinking. And trust me, you're not the only one to roll their eyes at me or to look at me like I've just said we're converting to satanism. Friends and family have all put in their two cents about me putting my children at a disadvantage by not placing them in public schools or have prematurely predicted my children's future social awkwardness, but I have done a lot of soul searching, a lot of research and a TON of curriculum development/ lesson planning and have decided that my children's absolute best chance is for me to home-school them. And this has nothing to do with our public school district. From what I hear, ours is very good and the teachers are great. Quite simply, we can... so why not? I have a degree in secondary education, English, German and teaching foreign language. I have interned in the public school system as well as taught in a private foreign language school in Japan. I have experience substitute teaching at all grade levels and all subjects. I feel completely confident and competent when it comes to this. I don't think homeschooling is for everyone, but I DO think it is for us.

As I've said before, my kid is a genius. No, seriously - he's incredibly smart, articulate and intuitive. Ask anyone. When we first started toying with the idea of homeschooling, I decided it may help me gain some perspective if I took Shea to one of the local preschools and we observed a class. The school was lovely - it was very clean, the kids were happy, it seemed safe, the staff and teachers looked friendly and caring. But Shea was beyond what the kids were learning. It was the middle of the school year and the kids were learning shapes and colors, which is exactly what preschoolers should be learning... but my preschooler mastered those things when he was 2. (I'm completely serious). Shea was already starting to read, doing first grade math and could tell you the anatomy and physiology of his digestive tract. I decided then and there that we were definitely homeschooling. Shea needs to be challenged to keep this momentum going and we cannot afford a private "gifted" school... so here we are.

I created his curriculum and we will not be learning preschool topics, most of his curriculum is Kindergarten and First grade subjects, that I developed myself. I had a really hard time finding a pre-made store bought curriculum that I liked. Almost 95% of the curriculum for sale was Christian Bible study based (nothing wrong with that, just not for us). And I eagerly began collecting and hoarding school supplies. Here is out Art drawer:

And a drawer full of other teaching tools:

I am so excited and Shea is too. I think there are a  lot of misconceptions about kids who are home-schooled, simply because people don't know what it really is.They think that all home-schooled kids are Amish or something, so let me dispel some of the rumors and accusations I have heard recently....

New List: Common myths associated with Homeschooling (and YES, some of these things have actually been said to me....)

1. All home-schooled kids are extremely religious bible thumpers
      This is not true. While the majority of home-school families ARE christian and may be extreme, there are several families, mine included, who are homeschooling simply because they want to, they enjoy it and they think that they will be able to give their kids an advantage that they won't find in public schools. We are not religious and will not be using a Bible Study curriculum... so this accusation is officially debunked.

2. Home-school kids are behind in a lot of things and when their parents eventually give up and dump them in a public school, they don't know how to read or write and are clinically retarded..... (a teacher said this one to more words or less)

     Really? I've know just as many public school kids who made it to high school graduation who couldn't read or write, what's their excuse? I'm sure there are parents who are currently home-schooling their kids who SHOULD NOT be. I personally believe that it's a great advantage to have some kind of background in education in order to properly home-school, but I've personally known people who did not have a teaching degree, home-schooled their kids and churned out some brilliant, kind-hearted and thoughtful children. Home-schooling is what you make it and the effort you put into it but it is unfair to paint all home-schooled kids with the same brush.... Next!

3. People who home-school are doing it just because they want to sleep in, stay in their pajamas all day and watch TV.....

     I suppose some of them do, but we will be following a structured schedule.... whether or not we get dressed in the morning, well, that's none of your business....

4. All home-schooled kids are weird.

     It doesn't matter if your kid is home-schooled or public schooled, weird is weird. Your kid is only going to be as messed up as you make them. Most "normal" people have this vision of home-schooled kids being locked in bamboo cages all day and reciting bible verses. They think that kids who are home-schooled are missing out on the social aspect of school and have no friends. The truth is, I've met several hundred public school students and would be incredibly proud if my children NEVER acted like them. My kids will have plenty of opportunity to socialize, there are sports and clubs for them to join, as well as home-school "clubs" that organize field trips and play dates to make sure that these kids get plenty of opportunity to spend time with kids their own age.

And my kids will probably get some "real" classroom time if there's ever a subject I don't feel qualified to teach them and if they ever tell me that they want to switch over to public school, I will respect their wishes and let them do so. 

In conclusion, I'm really excited to start this new journey and I think it will be both fun and advantageous not just for my kids, but for me as well. I'll get to have a part in their education and learning experiences and I'll get to watch them grow and acquire the knowledge that they'll use for the rest of their lives. I won't feel like I've wasted a college degree by being a stay-at-home-mom and I'll get to teach (which is what I love to do) without having to deal with other people's crappy kids. We won't have to schedule our lives around the public school's calendar. If we ever want to take a family vacation... Field Trip! So wish us luck and I'll let ya'll know how it goes!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Holy Birthday Party Batman!"

This week was incredibly bittersweet for me. My first baby turned four years old. You get tired of hearing people say, "Treasure these moments, they grow so fast....". When Shea was first born I would get migraines from rolling my eyes so much when people would say this to me, but here I sit with a newly four year old boy and I struggle to remember things.... It's the opposite effect of when you see someone you haven't seen in a long time, and you expect them to still be a kid, because they never grew up in your mind. With your kids I think because you see them every day you don't notice them growing. I can still remember that new baby smell but I can't remember the sound of his laugh when he was a baby. I remember holding him while he slept but I can't remember the weight of him in my arms.... things like that. So anyway.... nostalgia aside THANK GOD we are moving further away from the toddler stage and closer to the kid stage!!!  <-- (doing a happy dance while I type) I love my kids to death but I hate toddlers. They are the most irrational, emotional, ridiculous creatures on the planet. I liken them to Gremlins.... no bright light, don't feed them after midnight and don't get them wet.... Sure they do and say cute things but the other 23 hrs of the day they are most likely screaming, pinching, biting, yelling, having a complete melt down because you gave them a yellow sippy cup and they wanted a red sippy cup... I want them to be just a bit older so I can speak to them intelligently and not dread taking them out in public.

One of my sons is getting ever closer to being in that "age of perfection" that I've been waiting for since he was born. Every year I have a themed birthday party for him. His first birthday was "Yo Gabba Gabba", his second was "Disney's Cars", his third was "Toy Story" and when I asked him what he would like this year's theme to be I was very intrigued when he exclaimed, "Batman!" and then ran around the room with his arms extended making flying noises.... (regardless of the fact that we are constantly reminding him that Batman doesn't fly, sheesh kid, read a book....)

So grab a chair, brace yourself and prepare to be amazed by my craftiness! Drum roll, please! I give you..... The Batman themed birthday party!

Here is the birthday cake - ordered from Publix. I wish I was this talented but I have not yet perfected my baking skills. The Batman candle on top was ordered from eBay as were the yellow bracelets, as modeled by Shea in this picture, that we gave out as party favors. I also found some Batman temporary tattoos to put on all the guests and the "Super Hero Action Words" table cloth and napkins on clearance at Wal Mart. 

Don't bother Shea-Man, he's eating..... And yes, that is a Transformers party hat.....don't ask.....

The balloons were also ordered on eBay for a VERY reasonable price (10.00 for all of them plus free shipping) and filled with helium by the kind people at Publix.

I found yellow streamer printed with the Batman logo on eBay.... very cheap and free shipping.

And here was the snack table. THIS was my favorite part and everyone got a kick out of it....

I made the labels on my home printer. In Microsoft Word I switched my page setting to be a 4x6 size, and used 4x6 index cards - the printer had no trouble with them. Google images provided the cartoon pictures. Here was our "ants on a log" (organic celery, natural peanut butter and Sunmaid Raisins), which we called "Bats on a log."

 I made individual fruit salad cups, we had blueberries, kiwi, organic peaches, watermelon and pineapple. I couldn't think of anything clever to call them so my Feb. 2011 Due Date club girls helped me come up with the catch phrase.....

Raspberry Lemonade Crystal Light became Joker Juice....

 And Check mix served in individual cups became "Catwoman Crunchies" as it does resemble cat food....and tastes about the same.....

And here is the birthday boy with his new big boy bike... couldn't find a Batman one....

The party was great, it went off without a hitch and cost less than 100.00 for all the decorations, food and cake. I made most of it myself and used eBay as a resource for procuring Batman themed items. Shea said it was his greatest birthday party ever and I'm so proud of the little guy. He's grown up so much in four years and I'm looking forwards to many more birthday parties in the future!

And yes, that is a Batman onesie on Kellan and a muscled Batman tank top on Shea....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lactose Shmacktose....

Hot fudge sundaes, strawberry cheesecake, chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, vanilla pudding.... You may look at this list and see a selection of decadent desserts the thought of which cause you to start salivating..... I look at this list and see the top four foods that make me shit my pants. I am lactose intolerant.

 It started when I was in college but wasn't actually diagnosed until recently. I NEVER felt good, my stomach always hurt, I was always sick to my stomach, I missed out on a lot of things, canceled plans all the time because I felt so sick. My weight would fluctuate drastically, (dropping below 100lbs at one point) with no rhyme or reason and I could not figure out why. Those who know me well know that I am a bit of a hypochondriac and that I tend to immediately think the worst, so of course I was sure I was dying from stomach cancer. I went to several doctors and no one could find anything wrong with me. Most of them stopped reading my chart at "Occupation: College Student" and immediately told me it was because of stress. Some of them did blood work just to appease me and of course it would always come back normal.

Some days I would be totally fine and others I would lay in bed fighting vomit and drinking Pepto Bismol straight out of the bottle. I was literally going through  a bottle of Pepto every week or so.... which in turn caused other problems. Then came the miraculous invention of Facebook where you can bitch about your aches and pains publicly and people you never speak to face to face can commiserate and dole out "there, theres." I was complaining about not feeling good (it was the day of my son's first birthday party and I was almost too sick to go) and a friend I've know since Kindergarten private messaged me and said, "Hey, this sounds exactly like what was going on with me. Have you ever thought you might be having an issue with dairy?" .....No.....No I hadn't thought of that.....come to think of it, why didn't any of the doctors I've seen over the past few years think of that? At the time dairy was the biggest part of my diet. I had milk with my cereal, cooked with milk, ate cream cheese on my bagels, ate ice cream like it was my job and had more milk with more cereal before I went to bed. I decided to experiment and cut dairy out of my diet. And you know what? It worked. I've been dairy free for three years now and I have not had one episode of nausea/yucky stomach ever since (unless someone poisons me with milk in a recipe because they didn't know).

The thing about being lactose intolerant though, is that some foods don't bother you at all and others turn you into a green, sweaty mess. And it's different for everyone. For me, I can eat yogurt and cheese all day long but all other dairy kills me. One day we were at our local Target which conveniently has a Starbucks located inside. My husband grabbed a coffee, took a sip and starting moaning and making out with his cup, "Ohmygod, it's sooooooo good! Try this!" I took a big gulp and stopped dead in my tracks. Smack smack....smack smack....(<--- this is me smacking my lips trying to discern the "milky" taste in my mouth.) "Matt, what is this?" "A Latte." "Is there milk in it?" "Yes.NO.....Yes. Shit, sorry." My own husband tried to poison me and I got to lay on the couch for the rest of the afternoon in between bouts of flaming diarrhea.

And it's beginning to appear that Shea has also come down with my affliction. He too is having stomach problems, and I've been experimenting with his diet and have found that on days that he doesn't have "real" dairy, he doesn't complain of stomach aches or have "bad potty." The problem here is that now all four of us drink a different kind of milk - costing roughly 15.00 a week at the market.

As you can see, Kellan (doesn't) drink Organic Whole Milk (he is still breastfeeding so when we pour a glass of traitor milk for him, we end up having it spit in our faces and then a sippy cup launched at our heads), Shea drinks Soy milk because soy is good for boys (bad for women) and he doesn't like the taste of Rice or Almond milk. I drink Almond or Rice milk (because soy is bad for women and because cow's milk is you-know-why) and Matt drinks whatever is about to go bad or whatever swill is on sale that week. It's complicated and expensive.... but so is shitting your pants. And because I can handle yogurt, I eat one cup of greek yogurt every morning as soon as I wake up to help regulate my blood sugar, as I am also hypoglycemic (whole different story) and I cook with it - in place of sour cream, cream cheese or buttermilk. But don't cry for me....there are a lot of new alternatives popping up to make my life more tolerable. They have started coming out with coconut milk ice cream, which is amazingly delicious, unlike soy ice cream, which tastes like baby formula vomit. New lactose free yogurt. Crossing my fingers still for an alternative to cream cheese... I miss it so much! But I feel so much better now... dairy is the devil.

 I'm just crossing my fingers that Kellan isn't lactose intolerant as well..... Here he is enjoying a piece of cheese, which at the moment is the only food he will willingly eat.