Friday, June 19, 2009

Beach Days

We took our first family-of-five beach trip a few weekends ago. Just a day trip to Folly Beach (just outside of Charleston.) It was a last minute deal - the night before we thought 'hey - lets pack a picnic lunch - throw the kids in the car - and spend the day at the beach.'

No big deal, right?
It's amazing the amount of stuff it takes for one family to spend ONE day at the beach. But, we packed it all in - everything from the beach umbrella (needed to keep Jack out of the UV rays), towels, sunscreen, picnic lunch, change of clothes, beach chair (needed for me to be able to comfortably nurse Jack on the beach), sand toys, diapers, wipes, snacks for the car, DVD, books ... you'd think we were going for a month.
Unfortunately, we didn't check the weather channel. As we're approaching Charleston we drive through a horrible thunderstorm. Great, now what are we going to do with two kids who are excited to play in the sand and are already dressed in their bathing suits in anticipation of the surf and sand?
Thankfully, the stars aligned and the clouds broke - long enough for us to set up camp, eat a picnic lunch, play in the water, build some sand castles, and fill up our bathing suits with sand.

We rinsed everyone off in the outdoor showers, changed clothes, and headed into downtown Charleston for the late afternoon. We managed to catch the last carriage tour of the afternoon around historic Charleston - that Anna was very excited about - but the no-nap fun filled day at the beach started to take it's toll after about 25 minutes into the 1-hour tour.

We made it through though - the kids really did well all being said - and we headed to the market for dinner. We ended up at Bubba Gump's Shrimp restaurant - mainly because it had no wait time and we had starving kids, who again did well - despite no nap and being extremely tired from the whole day.

Our one smart decision (mine thank-you-very-much) was to bring pj's with us - and yes, we changed them at the car right before we left for home (right there on Meeting Street on the sidewalk.) It was after 7 by the time we got on the interstate for our 2 hour drive home.

James whined and hit his sister (this was pre-minivan - and actually one of the determining factors in me saying enough is enough - we're separating the kids) for the first 20 minutes of the trip (making it seem like hours.) He finally gave up and fell asleep. Anna zoned out watching a DVD - and then she finally fell asleep about 20 minutes from home.

Both were so exhausted they didn't stir when Deonne lifted them out of their carseats and transported them to bed.

Mommy and daddy were equally exhausted - especially after unpacking the car and tending to Jack for the rest of the night.

But it was worth it. The kids had a wonderful time!

The Potty (a.k.a. my nemesis)

Any tips on how to potty train boys are greatly appreciated. Let me re-phrase - any tips on how to potty train a boy to finish his business the first time he sits on the potty are greatly appreciated. Ditto for words of wisdom on how to teach a boy to make sure certain body parts are pointing down before doing their business.

James is doing great with his potty training. He knows when he has to go - and hasn't had a true accident since day one. (For both number-one and number-two if you get my drift.)

The problem is that he runs to the potty, sits down (sometimes getting things going in the right direction), sprinkles (or shoots across the bathroom - anointing anything and anyone in his path), then pops back up and is finished. Ten minutes later we're back in the bathroom. Again and again and again.

The whole situation is compounded by poor little Jack - who keeps having his feedings interrupted by his brother's pottying shenanigans.

Did I happen to mention that I HATE potty training???

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Working 9 to 5

So I've discovered that working from home full time with an infant isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's really hard getting things accomplished.

1) because I'm sleep deprived and it takes a while for me to process my thoughts and complete sentences (as evidenced by my horrible grammar here).

2) as soon as I get going on something and really get into it - Jack inevitably needs to be fed, have his diaper changed, be moved to a different setting or just be held.

3) because I'm at home, I see the laundry piling up, the dust accumulating before my eyes, the dirty breakfast dishes staring at me in the kitchen sink, the kids toys scattered about the den (which is serving double duty as my office), and the cat hair in chunks across the carpet from Juna-the-black-long-haired-cat - and I feel like I should be getting all of that picked up, cleaned up, washed/folded/put away. Not to mention it drives my type-A personality crazy to try to work in an environment that is cluttered. (My desk at work is always - okay maybe not always - tidy and picked up and papers filed away.)

Then there is the inherent guilt - I'm working at home, and am truly working more than my required 40 hours (read: 12 hour days on weekends to get caught up when Deonne can watch Jack and I can have quiet time with my computer) - but I'm still at home. By myself - with Jack - but by myself - without the kids. I've shipped them off to pre-school and I'm home without them. I know they're having fun and learning and playing with their friends - but I'm their mom. Shouldn't I be the one they're learning from and playing with in their early childhood?

And the additional guilt that I'm not spending time with Jack. I know there's not a lot one can do with an infant - but as soon as I nurse him - I literally put him down in his bouncy seat to occupy himself, or down for a nap, or in his swing. With the other two kids I wasn't working so soon - so I spent time holding them, rocking them, singing to them, getting to know them.

Poor Jack - he's getting shafted. At such an early age.

So I feel guilty.

Thus is the age old dilemma of the working mom. I've grappled with this since Anna was born and she first went to daycare. The issue is just exacerbated because I'm spending so much time at home.....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Father's Day Menu

We're hosting Deonne's family for Father's Day this year. I'm looking forward to it - it's a lot of work with the young family we have - but it helps me feel closer to the family I miss so much. My Dad LOVED to entertain - I remember growing up in Kennewick with my parents as part of a Gourmet Food Club. The Club would rotate on a monthly basis - and each month the host couple would concoct a themed gourmet dinner. I remember Hawaiian night and French night - and I'm sure there were others.

Every holiday was a big bash in my house growing up - I've seen the pictures of my baptism of the buffet table - where my dad insisted on not only a ham, but also a turkey, and tons of platters of food weighing down the table.

I wish he could be here this Father's Day - so in his absence, I'll try to host a family dinner that he would be proud of.

I've put together the menu - and instead of printing recipes that I'll eventually lose or having to hunt them down in cyberspace I thought I'd type them here - so I can easily reference:

Pimento Cheese and Pita Chips (from Di Prato's)

Main Course:
Grilled marinated london broil
Red potato salad
Pasta salad with pesto and peas
Cucumber and dill salad
Corn on the cob
Tossed green salad

Gooey butter cake w/vanilla ice cream
Sugar cookie cut outs

The Recipes:

Grilled London Broil (Southern Living - April '01)
1 1/2 pounds London broil (about 3/4-inch thick)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Greek seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place beef between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; flatten to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin.

Combine garlic and next 3 ingredients in a shallow dish or large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; add beef. Cover or seal, and chill 8 hours. Remove beef from marinade, discarding marinade.

Grill beef, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (300° to 350°) 7 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into thin slices.

Pasta, Petso, and Peas - (Barefoot Contessa Parties)
3/4 pound fusilli pasta
3/4 pound bow tie pasta
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups pesto (packaged or see recipe below)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignoli (pine nuts)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and toss into a bowl with the olive oil. Cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree.

Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignoli, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.

New Potato Salad (Barefoot Contessa)


3 pounds small red potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup good mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk, milk, or white wine
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion


Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, dill, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into quarters or halves, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten.

(As the salad sits, you may need to add more dressing.) Add the celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

Gooey Butter Cake (Paula Deen)

1 18 1/4-ounce package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 16-ounce box powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Prepare Filling:
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and beat together.
Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well. Spread over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Potty Time

It's potty time around the Long house again - as James has reached the magical age of peeing and pooping on the potty. He's done really well so far - we started him in big boy underpants at school on Monday (or "briefs" as his teacher calls them). He had one accident the first morning - and had been great all week. Wednesday he came home with a pile of wet clothes - which we learned was a factor of not pulling his pants down all the way rather than not making it to the potty on time.

Then came Friday. He had a great day at school. I picked him up early to take him to get a much needed haircut. His teacher told me he had pottied right before I arrived, so we were good to go.

We arrive at Hairdoodles. We go to the potty - his shorts feel wet. I try to get him to go potty - but he's afraid of the big potty saying "I gonna fall" - so he couldn't relax to go. I figured if he had to go - he would, right?

We go to the waiting room/play room until his hair stylist is ready for him. We're in there no more than two minutes when I look over to the little table with toys to see him making a face and pee running down his leg.

No change of clothes. No wipes.

Thankfully I still had an extra diaper in my pocketbook - and the bathroom was stocked with paper towels - and he was wearing swim trunks from water day at school - so I was able to throw away the wet undies - dry him up with a paper towel - rinse out his Crocs - slap a diaper on him - and be thankful that his swim trunks air dry quickly so there's no evidence of the mishap.

The comes Saturday.

He gets dressed in the morning - right away has an accident. Okay, no big deal. We go potty before we leave to have family portraits taken with Bridget - potty again as soon as we get to her house - potty again when we get home - he's doing great! He's telling us he has to go!

After lunch Deonne takes the kids up for their nap while I settle in to nurse Jack. I hear the desperate cries of Deonne "James - don't poop on the floor!" Apparently he sat on the potty, peed, then while waiting for Deonne to get his diaper ready for nap-time (b/c we're not waking up dry from naps yet) and standing on the steps to wash his hands - dropped a load.

On the floor.

And when Deonne laid him on the carpet in the hall to put the diaper on - dropped some more.

On the carpet.

I hate potty training.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's Official...

I've become the mom I always said I would never be. I now drive a mini-van.

Yes, I'm eating my words - all of the snickering and belittling of those moms who had too many kids that they had to have a mini-van to tote them all around - who were so un-cool as to be seen driving such a suburban-ite vehicle.

Yeah, I'm un-cool. But I love my new van. The hair pulling, book stealing, toy stealing, arm-rest fighting, hand slapping, arm hitting has come to an end between Anna and James - as they are now separated by a whole seat again. Once Jack arrived, we had the three kids lined up in the back-seat of the Pilot (which I LOVED by the way - and almost cried leaving as we drove off the lot in the van.) At first it wasn't too bad - the kids thought it was cool.

That quickly wore off though - and having the three lined up ended up breeding bad behavior. Not to mention Anna (who sat in the middle) couldn't keep her hands off Jack - and was forever sticking her hands in his face or touching his hands (lovingly - but still...) I don't want her passing her daycare germs off on him.

So, we traded in the Pilot and now have an Odyssey. And it is cool - for the middle-aged suburban mom crowd that is. It has automatic doors that open with the push of a button on my remote (that the kids think is magic - they say "open sesame" and the doors magically open.) It has storage galore, leather trim, XM satellite radio, and a rear entertainment system to keep the kids occupied on long trips.

Oh yes, I've become that mom too - the one with the DVD player to shut the kids up in the back. And I love that Anna and James are in the far back seat of the van with Jack in the middle row. Their shrieking and squealing is tempered now by another row of space.

So yes, I'm un-cool, but I can deal with that for a little while - someday I'll have my SUV back- but for now, I'm a card-carrying mini-van mom.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Conversation with Anna

We're driving home from Vacation Bible School this afternoon - Anna, Jack, and I - listening to Anna's new VBS CD that has a few songs from the week long adventure she is on. One of them (I can't remember the title) has lyrics describing the resurrection. What's resurrection she asks. I talk about how Jesus died on the cross and three days later went to Heaven - and how that is resurrection.

She says "oh - someday I'll be in Heaven."
"With God my Father in Heaven, right?"
Yes sweetie.
"Your daddy is in Heaven, right?"
Yes, Anna, he is.
"I'll bet he's having fun up there."
Yes, Anna, I sure hope he is.

And Daddy, I do hope you're having fun up there - with calm seas and smooth sailing. And I hope you know just how much you're missed here - not only by me, but by your beautiful granddaugher who barely remembers you.

** Edited to add - on the way to pick up James from pre-school, Anna tells me "mommy, I'm so glad there's a little bit of Jesus in my heart." So so so precious.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Ballet Recital

Anna's first official ballet recital took place on May 19. This was her first experience on the "big stage". I wasn't sure how it would all play out - I figured it could go one of two ways - one, she would become even more of the diva she already is and love the proverbial roar of the crowd and smell of the greasepaint - or two, she would take one look at those bright stage lights and freeze up with the deer in the headlight look.

She had a dress rehearsal the Monday before - a complete dry run of costume, hair, make-up, and the all important first step onto the big stage. We talked about it before hand, and I tried to explain to her what it would be like on stage but I don't think anything could have prepared her for the reality of the size of the auditorium or the complete darkness of it.

It turns out, I had no reason to worry. Little star that she is did wonderfully, both at the dress rehearsal and at the performance. With the exception of one time when it looked like she was going to wander off stage left - she was amazing.

So there I was, the mom, sitting in the darkened auditorium next to D, Jack in my arms, James running up and down the aisle visiting the laps of various family members, and I found myself with tears in my eyes. As she walked on stage with her little pink tutu bobbing up and down, the tears came more readily, and my voice was caught in my throat.

There, on stage, was MY daughter. This little person who D and I prayed so long for had become a little girl. I could see visions of her at sixteen rather than the toddler I clearly remember.

It was at that moment that I missed my mom even more than normal. I wanted to hold her hand and smile with her as Anna did her arabesque's and plie's and twirled to the strains of Doris Day's "Que Sera Sera." I leaned over to Deonne and said "my mom should be here for this." And she should have - in person, not just in spirit.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Welcome to the Blog!

I've discovered that I'm terrible at keeping friends and family updated with the antics of our crazy family - especially with the arrival of the newest Long - so we're starting an official family blog to keep everyone in the loop!

Stay tuned for more exciting news!