I’m lucky enough to have pretty healthy children. So far the only damage that has been done to them has been psychological. When I was a kid we never suffered anything more serious than a few stitches or a broken bone. It’s probably just a stroke of dumb luck that we didn’t have more of both. My mother had one of those 3 tier hanging wire baskets attached to the ceiling next to the kitchen sink. One day I saw my older sister standing on a stool to reach the basket where a half empty bag of chocolate chips and been left. It had been hanging there teasing her, and when left alone I guess she decided that she could take some without being seen. Unfortunately I saw her, and asked if she’d share. Normally she would have told me go play in traffic, but I guess she decided that getting me some chocolate would be better than whatever might happen when I ran and got our mother. She was wrong. When she climbed up there for me she fell, and ended up with a cut above her eye. She had to get stitches and they were covered with a bandage that partially covered her eye. She still has a scar that cuts into her eyebrow.

When I was in preschool there was a pale orange cat that would pass through our back yard every so often. We once had an orange cat named Mittens, and I felt like this cat had to at least be a close relative of his. I was pretty sure that once I worked out with him that we pretty much knew each other already he’d love me, and then we could pick right back up where Mittens and I had left off. For some reason he wasn’t warming up to me. I can’t imagine why.  One late afternoon I ran and got some cat food hoping that it would help bridge the gap between us. I was following him around tossing the cat food in his direction while trying to explain how we were related when he turned around and clawed the **** out of me. I was in shock! As my late grandmother would say, all I did was love him, and he hated me. The effing nerve! I dropped the bag of cat food, and ran inside. My grandparents were visiting, and they were sitting in our livingroom with my parents. Once I made it inside and told them all what happened my grandfather (who grew up in a very harsh Appalachian environment) asked me why I didn’t come and get him faster because he would have shot the cat. I appreciated his willingness to commit murder for me, but I was 4. I had run inside as fast as my traumatized 4yr old legs could carry me. Evil d-bag Mittens was long gone. I ended up in the emergency room that evening and went home covered in gauze.

My sisters and I were playing in the back yard one afternoon when my younger sister, who was wearing a leotard and tights at the time, was laying in a swing on her belly. I guess she lost her balance because she fell forward and hit her head on a sharp rock. She put her hand on her bleeding head and ran inside. When my mother saw her bloody hands she assumed that they had been cut. She started to frantically wash them in the sink while my sister cried and continued to bleed from her head. After her hands were all clean, and no wound could be found my mother realized what had happened. Panicking makes it hard to think clearly. She ended up with stitches. She also broke her arm when she was really tiny, and I broke my wrist when I was very small too. Kids trust the adults in their lives way too much. They trust us enough that they don’t think anything bad will happen as long as we’re within earshot or walking distance.

My youngest daughter can’t stop jumping off of things. It’s what she does right now. Thursday evening one of her jumps landed her a small cut on her head. I was sitting with her in my lap while she cried thinking that she just had a normal non life threatening bump on the head. I felt a knot, and thought she felt kind of sweaty. I asked my husband if he felt the bump too because it wasn’t huge, and I wondered if I was just imagining it. He reached down to feel, and discovered it was bleeding. Once I looked at my hand I noticed it was smudged. Like my mother washing my sisters hands, I was thinking that my daughter’s bleeding head was just sweaty. I looked through her hair, and saw a small but super deep cut. It was deep enough to really freak me out. I instantly told my husband that we were going to the ER. I grabbed a pair of pants for her and threw them in my purse (because she is always pantsless at home) and we left. We talked to her the whole way to the hospital trying to make sure that she still knew all the things a 3yr old should know….her name, what sound a cow makes, and why you should leave stray cats alone. My husband was driving like we were in a stolen car. I kept reminding him how counterproductive it would be if we all needed to be treated once we got to the hospital.

When we got there I got out and walked inside with my pantsless child while he parked the car. The man at the door directed us to the pediatric ER. I had never been to a hospital with a separate ER for children, but it was really great. We got right in, and everyone there was in “Well, what’s your name? Aren’t you pretty? Do you want a sticker?” mode. She got very upset when they started to bandage her head. The nurse decided that she’d feel more at ease if my husband and I got our heads bandaged first. This could only work on toddlers. At nearly any other age seeing your parents do something first would be the reason not to do it too. She isn’t old enough to know just how horribly uncool we are and so she did end up allowing the nurse to bandage her without a fight. Then we all went back into the waiting room looking like the clumsiest family ever…..I’m sure we will be charged for the extra gauze.

We ended up sharing a room with a mom and her toddler son. He was knocked the eff out. Every so often he would let out a really loud snore. My child was the opposite of tired. She wanted to see and touch everything. She was looking for new things to jump off of, and couldn’t stop talking. Every doctor and nurse that came in she wanted to talk to. I thought that she hated doctors. Now I know that she just hates her regular doctor. She screams and cries and just generally freaks out at the sight of him. She had no problem with any of the hospital staff. There was a movie on in our room for her and coma baby to watch, and someone came in with crayons and coloring pages for her. We waited and waited, as people often do at the hospital. While we were waiting the boy next to us got a cast put on his leg. He never even stirred. It was weird. He had to have been given something. At one point while his cast was being put on my child stopped talking and the room got really quiet. Then he let out one of those super loud snores and my daughter broke the silence by letting us all know that he had just farted. His mom was laughing as I explained to her that it was snoring, and not farting that she was hearing.

When it was finally time for her to be treated my husband sat with her on the hospital bed and worked with the nurses to try and hold her in just the right position as they washed the cut and put three staples in it. Thank baby Jesus it was fast. She was freaking out, and my husband looked traumatized enough to maybe shed a man tear. The lady that had brought us the crayons brought in books and bubbles and a view finder to try and distract her. It worked better than I thought it would. She loved the view finder, but was still really really unhappy. I can’t say that I blame her. A view finder, while pretty neat-o, isn’t the same as a pain killer, or whatever they had given the unnervingly sleepy kid next to us. I was attempting to comfort her, but had to turn my head when the staples went it. I don’t have a weak stomach or anything, but since it was my daughter, the tiny little person who says cute things to me and ruins my furniture, I just didn’t have any desire to watch.

She was perfectly fine almost the instant they were done. I was totally amazed at how well she did from the time we got there to the time we took her home. It was the smoothest, and most drama free trip to the emergency room I’ve ever been a part of.  On the way home we drove to Sonic to get her a sundae to make up for what crappy parents we are. The next morning she woke up and felt around on her head. She said, “this is ouch”. That’s all  the attention she’s paid to the staples. I sneak in her room after she’s gone to sleep to put bacitracin on her head. Her hair is normally pretty insane anyway, but it’s especially lovely now that we’re styling it with ointment.


If you can find your big girl pants…..

My little garden has been doing so well. I took a tomato off the plant for the first time today. I have NO idea what to do with it. The basil is doing really well too so I may go out tomorrow and get some cheese and bagels and make breakfast bruschetta.

I’ve also got a bunch of tiny baby cucumbers, and the kids’ watermelon vines have gotten big enough to flower. I’m still not confident that we’ll ever actually grow a watermelon, but they’ve definitely lasted longer than I had expected. The rosemary is still pretty much exactly the same size as last time I posted about the garden, and the parsley did finally sprout. It lasted for about two weeks. I thought it might be weeds at first, then it started to look like actual parsley, and then it died. Clearly parsley isn’t my thing. I really wasn’t sure if it was going to be worth it to garden at all, but I’m really glad I gave it a shot. I’ll definitely be doing this again next year. It’s been really great so far.


The last cake class.

It’s been weeks since I had my last Wilton cake class. I’ve been alternating between being really busy and really lazy since then which is why I’m posting about it so late. My productivity levels are bipolar.

I sifted all morning and made another homemade cake. I used the baking strips again, and it still turned out really well, but not as fabulously as last time. Then I made icing. I made soooooo much freaking icing. My kitchen was covered in powdered sugar and my mixer was a disaster afterward. Then I separated it and mixed tons of colors. It took forever to get everything ready to go. My colors were pretty random. I think I used them all but brown and black.

The outer layer of my cake was composed of nothing but loose crumbs this time so icing it and smoothing it out was a huge pain in my butt. Once I decided it was as smooth as it was going to get I put it in the plastic cake carrying thingy and moved on to thinking about how many  hours of my life I had devoted to cake and icing in the last month that I am never going to get back. Later in the day, about an hour before I was supposed to leave for the class, I noticed that someone had opened the cake and smudged the icing in several places. I was piiiissed. Naturally all the kids were innocent according to them. I ranted and freaked out until my husband reminded me that it was just a cake. A cake that my toddlers had been watching me curse over and bake and ice all day long. I tried to smooth the icing back out, and decided that I’d let the children live.

Once at the class we were supposed to work on piping letters and making roses. I really suck and writing in icing. The instructor agreed that I was horrible and came over to help. She sucked too! She blamed it on my icing telling me that the consistency was bad. I wanted to tell her that her haircut was bad, or reply with something like, “Yeah? Well, you’re stupid.” but I didn’t. My roses weren’t as pretty as hers, but I liked making them. They didn’t turn out bad at all. After we were done practicing we got to decorate our cakes however we wanted. I decided to make myself a birthday cake thinking it might be the only one I’d get. Before we left we each got a certificate with our names on them. I had elementary school honors day flashbacks.

Turns out I was wrong about the birthday cake. My husband and children made me this cake for my birthday. I love them. Once I got over the fact that they chose to decorate it on the cutting board that is used for meat it was really really good. 🙂

Constructive things to do. I need em! I have always been a plant killer. I joke on a pretty regular basis that children are the only things that I can keep alive. House plants come here to die. With that in mind I decided that this year I really wanted to attempt gardening! I did take a horticulture class in highschool. I decided to take it after a friend of a friend told me that all they ever did in that class was water flowers. The class consisted of every horseback riding, cowboy hat wearing, rodeo ticket holding,  future 4-H camp counselor, member of the school FFA, and me. I was totally out of my element. It wasn’t terrible. I did get to interact with people I normally would never have. They were an interesting group, and a lot friendlier than I think most other high school cliques would ever have been to an outsider. Our teacher was a really goofy old bald guy, and our class was his last ever before retirement. It was kind of obvious that he had already checked out. More than once he said, “OK, class (and Rachel) today we’re going out to the greenhouse to plant pot…..I mean to pot plants”. When he was feeling particularly unmotivated (which was often) he’d make us watch National Geographic videos from the 70’s and 80’s about how to survive a bear attack should you encounter one while camping. In case you’re wondering they all suggested that you lay face down and play dead with your hands clasped over the back of your neck. That seems more like the position you would assume when being held hostage during a bank robbery, but WTH do I know? Then you allow the bear to toss you around like a rag doll. I guess if the bear ignores you crying for your mommy and focuses on the horrible smell coming from your freshly soiled underwear then it concludes that you are dead and loses interest. I left the class still having no idea how to grow anything. I decided that my total lack of knowledge and natural talent when it comes to growing things could be remedied by googling for info.

I can never find good tomatoes here. They are almost always grainy or tasteless. I decided that I’d start with those. I googled, and then made a trip to Lowe’s to get the things I thought I’d need to begin growing. I decided to start growing in containers, and if that worked out I’d move on to something bigger. I didn’t want to get too invested in something that I was so unsure of. I left there with a small tomato plant, a small rosemary plant, cucumber, parsley & basil seeds, bags of soil, a big watering can, containers & liquid fertilizer. My daughters had their hearts set on growing watermelons. They couldn’t be talked out of it. I tried. In the end I got them a packet of watermelon seeds. This had very quickly gotten a lot more expensive and complicated then I originally anticipated.

I filled the containers with soil, planted my stuff, and watered. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The cucumbers sprouted first. The basil took a few days more. The rosemary got bigger, and the tomato plant began to flower. The watermelons also sprouted and the parsley did nothing. No Parsley. That was a little annoying, but everything else was growing so well that I decided phase one was definitely a success.

I eventually went out and got the things I needed to make a raised bed in the backyard. Our backyard consists of 75% weeds, 24% sand, and 1% grass. It’s a lovely sight. The presence of a garden did actually kind of make it seem a little nicer out there. I was afraid that I’d end up killing my plants when I moved them. Luckily everything moved without any real problems with the exception of one of the cucumber plants. It immediately went droopy, and the leaves started looking pretty bad after just a couple of days. It was the biggest and most impressive one of my three cucumber plants so I was a little bummed, but it I don’t think that it’s 100% unsaveable just yet. We’ll see, I guess.

So far everything is growing. My tomatoes are kicking ass out there! I have about 5 medium size green tomatoes and 13 tiny baby tomatoes. I count them….daily. I may or may not have talked to them a time or two. I’ve become emotionally invested. I love my garden. Parsley be damned.


Here are the cucumbers. I’m sure you can tell which one I damaged while moving….

Here are the watermelon plants the kids were interested in for all of 1 week.



I was feeling really prepared going into this class. I think that a good chunk of my confidence came from the last class having gone so well. I had made my cupcakes and icing much earlier, and I was sure I had everything I needed to decorate them. I even brought things I didn’t think I’d need just in case. When we were all taking our things out to begin I noticed that everyone already had several small containers of icing already colored. I had NO idea I was supposed to precolor my icing. Last week we all mixed our colors during class. She either told us after I had already cleaned up and left, or I was ignoring her when she let us know. Either way I was a little discouraged to find out immediately that I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was. I had to mix colors before and during her instructions and demonstrations which really sucked.

I wasn’t feeling all that great when I got to class. I don’t drink enough water. I have a fondness for dehydrating myself. The last time I was at an amusement park the only attraction I participated in there was their first aid station. From there I went on to spend the entire evening in the ER with my husband watching Deadliest Catch while being pumped full of IV fluids.  It was the least fun day ever. Not only did I think that I was going to have a heart attack and die, but it was seriously embarrassing too. The only even mildly amusing thing that happened that day was that Dolly “there is no such thing as natural beauty” Parton was at the park and being a fan of Steel Magnolias I wanted a picture of her. My mom is still not convinced that it wasn’t actually just some guy in drag. You decide….

I’ve been making an effort to drink more water, and to avoid making an ass of myself by thinking I’m dying in public. I guess I’ve been falling off the water wagon because yesterday I started feeling weird and shaky, and I knew that I needed to hydrate myself. As luck would have it I did have a bottle of water with me, and there was a water fountain outside our classroom. With my hands shaking I assume I looked like I was having a seizure while I was trying to very quickly mix my icing. I took the Scarlett O’Hara approach and decided I’d think about that tomorrow. Somehow I did manage to mix the colors I needed in between all her many many directions of the evening. I don’t know who the original Wilton mastermind of these classes is, but they failed miserably on their plan for class #3. The first night we talked about baking and made little icing stars on cookies. The second night we iced a cake and made designs out of dots. The third class we went over aaaaaaaaaaaaaaall this….

I was mixing colors, filling pastry bags, and searching for extra couplers without really even understanding what our insructor was talking about  half the time. I’m sure that if I hadn’t been dehydrated I would have been sweating profusely. I wasn’t the only member of the class that seemed overwhelmed. The youngest of us (the daughter of another classmate) whined pretty much all evening. Not only did we go through way too many brand new techniques, but we had so little time to actually practice them that I don’t think anyone left there having acquired any new skills. It was a mess. By the time we actually started decorating the cupcakes there was very little time left. I left there feeling pretty frazzled, and my cupcakes looked sloppy. My very unsteady hands were definitely working against me. Some of my flowers probably looked like they were done by someone in a moving car going over a gravel road. I was taking all the stuff out of my bag to clean everything today and decided that I’d practice a few of the new flowers we made last night before emptying the pastry bags and throwing the extra icing away. I’m hoping that with some time and practice (and better air conditioning) my flowers will get better.

Next week is the last class in the beginner set. We bring in a whole cake again, and we can decorate it any way we want. I have no idea WTH I’m going to do. Whatever it is I may try to practice it between now and next week just to make sure that I know what I’m doing. Class 3 was just about as pleasant as class 1. Instead of being discouraged I’m going to assume that class 4 will be just as much fun as class 2 was. I have a love/hate relationship with cake in general so it’s no surprise that these classes are both a whole lot of fun, and a big pain in the ass.

Last night was day 2 of my cake decorating class. We had to bring in a single layer of cake. I decided to go with homemade. I used this recipe. I tried it once a couple of weeks ago, and didn’t love the almond taste. This time I left the almond out. I also used bake even strips for the first time. They are these thingies here. You wet them with cold water, and then pin them around your cake pan to make your cake bake evenly, and to make it flat on top instead of rounded.  I remember seeing them in my mom’s kitchen drawers, but never knew what they were, or saw her use them.

The cake recipe suggests sifting your dry ingredients three effing times. I actually did this. Everything was covered in cake flour when I was done, and my forearms were pissed. With all the technology we have I’m kind of puzzled as to why we’re still sifting flour like Amish people.  In a can with a hand crank or a lever. There are iphone apps that do everything short of tieing your shoes for you, and cars that allow you to pretty much fall asleep at the wheel without wrecking (at least that’s what the commercials say), but we can’t come up with a better way to sift flour? In any case the cake took a whole lot longer to cook than I thought it would. I kept waiting for the bake even strips to catch fire or something. They didn’t. They actually worked. The cake was nice and evenly brown and flat on top.I also had to make a double batch of “buttercream” icing to bring to class. When I made cupcakes with this same cake recipe a couple of weeks ago I used an icing recipe that was actually butter and heavy cream based. It made me wonder why I had ever used premade icing. At the risk of sounding like a stupid yogurt commercial, it was Ryan Reynolds taking his shirt off and chopping firewood in the Amityville Horror remake good…..For the class I had to make icing that was vegetable shortening based. Ewww. Yeah, I wasn’t impressed at all. It was super sugary and gross in an “I just ate some and now I can feel that my mouth is coated in crisco” kind of way. Not good. Crisco seems like it might be really great for getting rid of rough dry patches of skin, and I bet it’s awesome for reducing friction on squeaky hinges, but using large quantities of it to eat is just disgusting. I know that my other butter icing isn’t exactly a health food, but at least I felt like my ingredients were actually edible.

I sat between Nerdy Pants and Mary Poppins again. Nerdy’s cake wasn’t impressive at all. I expected her to come in with perfectly shaped wedding cake tiers or something. Mary Poppins made a strawberry cake that was practically perfect in every way. 😉 My cake looked great. I was feeling pretty good about myself when we were all unwrapping our baked goods and getting our crisco icing out. We were first told to do a thin crumb coat. I opened my icing containers without drawing blood this time! I could have gone home right then, and have felt like the class was a success. I coated my cake in a thin layer, and there weren’t really any crumbs to catch. This class was already kicking last week’s class ass.After the icing dried a little we put on and smoothed out the rest of the icing. My smoothing abilities need work.Then it was time to decorate. We had three patterns to choose from. There was a hamburger, a fish, and a cupcake. No one chose the hamburger because why would they? The number of fish and cupcakes were pretty even. I chose the cupcake because it looked the most beginner friendly. We had to take wax paper and put it on top of the pattern. We filled a pastry bag with piping gel (gross looking clear jelly), and used it to trace the pattern onto the paper. Then we used that to transfer the pattern onto the cake. By the time we started actually decorating there were about 20 minutes left in the class. We were all being kind of careless and going as fast as we could to get the job done so we could clean up and leave. I didn’t get to add a border to the top edge of the cake. My dots weren’t the cleanest looking. To make them you have to squeeze out a circle and then release pressure on the pastry bag before pulling it down, or doing a quarter of a turn with the tip to make a clean flat dot, and to avoid points in the middle. Pretty much all my dots have points in the middle, but I think you can more or less tell that it’s supposed to be a cupcake.My children were highly offended when they realized that the cake and icing I spent the entire afternoon making wasn’t for them. I got a lot of  indignant looks when I packed it all into the car. I’m pretty sure that I was forgiven when I brought it home all iced and ready to eat. They all told me that it looked really good in a half sincere “Way to go, Sport! Let’s put that C+ on the fridge” kind of way. I’m sure what they meant to say was, “Cut the crap, and let’s eat this mo-fo. It better be amazing as we’ve exhausted our patience waiting for it. If it’s not expect little to no sleep tonight and a fresh mural on the wall tomorrow morning”.I tried it too. It was actually pretty good. The cake part was great. After I tasted it I didn’t feel as bad about sifting for what seemed like weeks. The kids ate a piece and must have thought it was at least OK because I got 7hrs of sleep. I do have a wall that’s been defaced with blue crayon this morning though. I’m sure they just don’t want me to get a big head. Kids are good for that kind of thing.

Next week I have to make another batch of crappy icing, and six cupcakes. Until then!