Know Yourself

When I was in college, I was a leader for my high school’s very amazing Senior Retreat. I had to give a one hour talk, and my topic was chosen ahead of time: “Know Yourself”. I was terrified. Not one to enjoy standing up and talking in front of people, let alone high school seniors, I had to figure out how best to break the ice and connect with them on their level. I opened with a bit of a wisecrack. At a mere 19 years of age, I held up my driver’s license. I said, “This is me.” I described my hair, eye color, and other obvious factors that you can see. I set it down on the podium, and pulled out a different driver’s license, that of a 21 year old woman. Next, I said, “And, this is who I pretend to be.”  I figured if I didn’t bullshit my audience, who was soon to strike out on their own after graduation, I had a much better chance of reaching them. Based on the reaction to my talk, I believe I did.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

This is the Honey Badger:

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“HELLO! I’m the Honey Badger! I like to cut my own hair!”

And,

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“THIS IS WHO I PRETEND TO BE! BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!”

She really can’t help but be herself. She is the happiest creature on the planet. I am constantly shaking my head at her saying, “Erin, what in the world am I going to do with you?” and she happily replies,

“Put me in the potty and flush me down the toilettttttt!!!!!”

or –

If she is having a bad day, which is rare, her big bro will try and cheer her up, “Erin, you are SO AWESOME!”

Her disgruntled, angry response : “I DON’T LIKE BEING AWESOME!!”

She lays it all out there. Kind of like her Mommy. What you see is what you get. I like that she is free to be herself, and doesn’t try to be like anyone else. I give her props for being edgy with her new haircut, for trying to get past us that she is wearing her PJ’s under her clothes out in public, and for looking for treasure everywhere we go (my fault, and that’s an entirely different story).

All I ever really want for my kids is for them to have self worth – to know their strengths, their faults, their own opinions, their motivations, their goals, and most of all: to be happy with exactly who they are. I believe if they truly know who they are, then they will succeed.

Lastly, I hope they never have fake ID’s and then write about it in a blog, or give a speech to seniors in high school and reveal it to them, but that’s just me.

Our Classy Story

Last time I wrote, I was certain that I wouldn’t let this gross amount of time go by before I wrote another blog. Well, work got in the way of that. I have been working around the clock and time completely got away from me.

So, anyway.

Today is my 5th wedding anniversary to my husband.

We met on MySpace. I saw his picture on a friend…of a friend….of a friend’s MySpace page. Just his picture. He was wearing a T-shirt that was maroon and said, “Dazed and Confused”. But, he looked smart, because you can tell that from a picture. He was in the mountains somewhere, and I loved his smile. He was hot, and his hat was Notre Dame. It was love at first sight. From this angle, anyway.

I was a single Mom. My son was 4. I was on eHarmony, but only for a short time. It just so happened I had 2 dates on one Sunday. Little did I know that my future husband was to be my 3rd date that day. I sent him a message on MySpace and all it said was, “I’m proud of your hat.” And, I was. My Mom was one of 6 children – she had 5 brothers – and they were Notre Dame fanatics. To this day, she is in front of the TV, ready for kick-off for any Notre Dame game. I grew up with this, and therefore, I appreciate the Notre Dame Fan. I’m a huge fan as well.

Anyway, this message to this unknown cyber guy resulted in a response back from a very friendly fellow that lived a stone’s throw from my own house. We decided to meet that very night. I learned his last name. It was an Irish name. Therefore, on our first meeting, I ran out to his truck with an 8×10 picture of my very 1st Guinness beer that I had when I was in Ireland. (It happens to be beautiful, and was on my refrigerator already.) I think this impressed him greatly, and we drove away happily to a very seedy bar in the neighborhood. We exchanged very awesome conversation, although I don’t recall what it was. The waitress kept giving us shots, you see, and we might have kissed. All I knew was, this was the man I was going to marry. I was never so certain in  my  life.

The rest is history. We have never gone one day without talking, texting, or emailing. He is the funniest, smartest, man I have EVER had the pleasure of being married to, and this speaks highly of him, considering I’d never been married.

Approximately ten months later, he proposed to me in the corner suite of the Conrad Hotel. We cried and called our parents, and followed up with dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse. That was on a Saturday night. On the previous night, he made me pack a bag and gave me the 1st clue of what was to be a weekend of his own hand written clues, each in a white envelope, as to where we were going next. I had no idea what was to come. It was the most exciting weekend of my entire life. The last surprise of the weekend led us to a fantastic brunch place downtown, where my entire family and closest friend were waiting with gifts, cards, and champagne flutes, just for us. Even my future in-laws had amazing gifts sent to us, from Germany!,  all ready for the party.

I will never forget that amazing weekend.

SO. Here’s where we are….FIVE YEARS LATER

1) My husband, wearing just black socks, boxers, and his white undershirt, in the morning while getting ready for work, declares: “Honey, PLEASE. I am NOT a piece of meat. Please quit staring at my junk. I am not on the menu!”  This is at LEAST once a week.

2) Christmas Day – he’s standing in the kitchen with similar attire to above and declares, “You get to unwrap ALL THIS later.” He was super pleased with himself. Um, we weren’t supposed to give each other any gifts….

3) EXAGGERATION. He’s an expert in exaggeration. “Honey, can you turn that down please?”. His response – “What are you talking about? This is the lightest version of this song ever produced. Why don’t you turn down????”

4) Jealousy – He gets very, very jealous that I make out with the dog all the time. Not jealous of ME, but jealous that Rudy doesn’t make out with him like he does with me. (Rudy prefers women.)

5) Sean is 2 weeks away from getting his MBA. It was a loooooong two years, but I’m ridiculously proud of him. He’s smart as a whip, and I never really wanted to marry a dumb guy. Win – win!

6) I have learned my husband a little bit of negotiatin’. He’s learned from the best, I must say. I swell with pride when he tells me a success story about bartering or negotiating and he says, “I learned it from watching you!!”.

7) This next one is for Dylan: He will flat out tell you: “Dad (Sean) is the BEST DAD IN THE WHOLE WORLD!!!”. He has the absolute trust, love, and security in my husband. They have officially been in each other’s lives longer than they haven’t.

8) I hate it when people say that so-and-so are “my rock”. But, damn it. Sean is my rock.

9) Most days, I wonder if my text messages or emails from my husband should spontaneously explode, due to the nature of their content.

10) He once got me a card that had a picture of a man looking in the fridge. It said, “Honey, where’s the butter?” and the entire fridge was loaded with one item….”Butter”, “Butter”, “Butter”, “Butter”.

Five years. I can’t sum it up in 10 examples above. I just know that the first time I met my husband, I knew. And, it’s gotten better every day since.  He is intelligent, hard-working, sexy, fun, FUNNY, HILARIOUS, but most importantly, he is patient, and kind. I appreciate every single day I have with him. You never know when someone you love will disappear. That’s just a hard philosophy I learned at a young age. And, some days, when my family and I put our heads together, and declare our love for one another, I just feel….FULL. Full of  nothing but absolute love. And, when I say “put our heads together”, I really mean THAT. One of the kids started it because they wanted to be as close as possible to us. We did it on the kitchen floor the other day. All 4 of us, with our arms around each other., and our heads all leaned in together. It meant unity, strength, and security.

I’m a pretty lucky gal, here. And, so are my children. I feel so fortunate to have found not only a good man, but the absolutely perfect one for me….you just never know.

What if I had never sent him a message about his Notre Dame hat?

Furthermore, what if my son was never subjected to what a REAL father is all about. He loves so much that we are together. It breaks my heart, and mends it, all at once:

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Happy Anniversary to all of us.

How to Motivate the Honey Badger

It’s been a busy and hectic week. This does not bode well for the Honey Badger, who prefers to enjoy life at her own pace. She would wear her pajamas all day long and hang out at home everyday if she could. She loooooves to be home. So, when it comes time for school, appointments, picking up her brother, etc, it’s a real humdinger to get her to get a move on. That is, for anyone except her Mommy, because I broke the code. I’ve figured out what motivates her: Competition. (She’s her mother’s daughter, that’s for sure.)

The other day, her Daddy was in charge of getting her out the door for school. Usually a very patient, and very calm man under almost any circumstance, he was exasperated and slightly defeated by her stalling tactics. It had been quite some time since he had taken her to school, and it donned on me that he wasn’t privy to the methods I have been successfully employing. I chuckled at his frustration, pulled him aside, and whispered, “All you need to do is figure out her motivation. It has to be a race.” He was simply trying to get clothes on her so that he could finish getting dressed himself. She was hiding under the covers, giggling, bicycle legs kicking pants off, refusing to comply. After setting her clothes out for her,  I said, “Erin – on the count of three let’s see if you can get dressed before Daddy!!!! One….two….THREE!” and we booked it out of the room. Immediately, she kicked it into first gear. In less than a minute, she was in our room, “TA-DA!!!!!! I BEAT YOU DADDY!!!!!”. Grinning from ear to ear, she was fully dressed from head to toe. Just not in what I had set out for her to wear. Don’t think she doesn’t have time to grab whatever she wants to wear. This same exercise was then utilized to get her to brush her teeth and brush her hair. She wins every time, and every time she is THRILLED with her victory. And, so are we.

There are also fun little games that we have come up with over the last year or so that still yield successful results from motivating the Honey Badger. Dylan and I discovered that if I ask him to let Rudy out, she will practically hurdle the furniture to get there before he does. So, whenever the dog needs to go outside, I look at Dylan and wink, “Dylan, will you let Rudy outside?” Of course, I say this loudly enough so that she’ll hear. And, as soon as the words “OK—” are even out of his mouth, she’s run full blast to the door and let the dog out. We do this ALL.THE.TIME. We can interchange it with “feed the dog”, “give Rudy some water”, or a plethora of other scenarios. You’d think it would get kinda old for her by now. Nope. She’s happy to beat her brother to it, for the thrill of winning. In all its glory, it did backfire on me once. Yeah, that day sucked. I truly thought she wasn’t going to get up and let the dog out because she was engrossed with play-doh. So, I nodded to Dylan to go ahead and let Rudy out. She was horrified. She threw her arms over her chest, and let loose a very loud, angry sigh. Furious, she stomped out of the room and spent the next solid hour in her room, sobbing. That wasn’t a good time. We learned from our mistake. Honey Badger does not like to lose!

One would think that food might also be a motivator for the Honey Badger. In many ways it is. There’s always the perpetual snack. But, to be honest, a snack is not nearly as thrilling as a victory over someone else. UNLESS. Unless you are the Honey Badger and you’ve already won the race and now, you have to take a stupid trip in the stupid car to pick up your brother from school. Borrrring. So, you give the Honey Badger a little snack of pudding and a spoon for the ride to school to pick up her bro. Then, you’re planted in the pick-up line, with all the other minivans, and you turn around to smile at your precious little baby girl and you see this:

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Just when you think they are gravitating more towards a human being, and further away from an animal… Wrong! This one is still just a Honey Badger looking for a thrill.  The most bizarre thing about this encounter: Shortly after I took this picture, I said, “I love you, Erin.”

She replied, very seriously, “Do you love me for who I am?”

I was floored. “Yes, I love you for who you are!”

She giggled, and said, “I love you for who you are too, Mommy!” Huge pudding faced grin.

WTF? She’s a wild creature that just keeps blowing my mind. Over and over again.

WE ARE HAVING A BABY!

Greetings! Before I fill you in on our big news, let’s get reacquainted. It’s been 3 weeks since my last post. Utterly unacceptable. I’m not sure how I got to this point. Oh, I know. Christmas hoopla, New Year’s hoopla, New Year’s Day Flood in my Basement, the Flu, and so on. I’m just glad to be back. Actually, what has really hindered my progress lately, is the Honey Badger. Her school is undergoing construction, and they had to extend “Christmas Break” until 1/14/13. She’s not real hip on going with the flow; she marches to the beat of her own drum. That pretty much consists of wearing PJ’s no matter what time of day. And, since it’s winter, she likes her silk, sleeveless nighties best of all. (During the summer, she wore only footed fleece pajamas.) Honey Badger don’t care what season it is. She likes to wear her PJ’s wherever we go, and pack about 3 extras in her bag.  She likes those extras in case of an emergency. Getting her out the door is literally most of the battle. After that, she’s a happy little camper. Once we step foot back in the house, though, she disappears to her bedroom to get new PJ’s on before you can blink your eyes. She’s a very complicated HB.

Anyhither, let’s get back on track. The Baby. Am I having a baby? Good God, no. Do you think I’m insane? I tiptoed quietly into the bathroom this afternoon to, you know, go potty BY MYSELF, when it trotted in and declared to me, in the most serious tone I’ve ever heard it speak, “Mommy, I’m ready to have a baby….a REAL LIVE one, all by myself.”

Let’s stop here for a moment. Lots of things were going through my head, but the intent, imploring, naive face was too much. I felt awful. It needed to hear the truth, and quickly.

“Sweetie, you are WAY too little to have a baby.”

“I know…”, it said, “I need to be in high school first.”

Um, negative. “You need to get MARRIED first!”…..says the mother that had a child out of wedlock and we both turned out just fine, thank you very much.

“I know, Mommy! I’m going to marry Dylan [NO!], then go to college [YES!], then go to high school [IT’S SO CONFUSED!].”

“Erin, that’s a looooong wa -”

“I know, Mommy, I just want a baby for ALL of us to have!!!”

“Erin, you have a lot of time, like many, many, MANY years before you have a real, live baby, honey.”

“It will need a changing table, a rocker, and diapers!”

“At some point in – ”

“AND A CRIB!”

I must kiss it and reassure it. “One day you WILL have a baby, but not for a long, long, time….when you’re a grown-up.”

“Oh!!,” it exclaims, as the light bulb goes off in its head, and it runs to its room to pull out all of the baby things I’ve ever saved for her. “The baby can wear THISSSS!!!!”…..she proclaims it. So loud and proud to be getting ready for the baby’s arrival, which is set to come, in her mind, at any moment.

Quite possibly, the scariest part of this entire scenario, is that for the next 30 minutes, she dragged out things that were exactly what a baby would need. She was spot on. Bibs, sleeping, eating, clothes, I mean, we are covered. Honey Badger is not playing games!! To take a break, I interrupted the imminent arrival of the baby to make some banana bread. I thought it might distract her. It did. Until bedtime.

Her poor Daddy is sick in bed with the flu. He had a rough day, and went to bed at 6:30pm. I got everyone fed, Dylan’s homework and studying done, then I thought both kids were in bed, and I was working in silent bliss.

It was still awake.

I quietly made it to her room to investigate. I caught her playing in mid-act. Discovered, it blurted out, as if we were so stupid to not think of it before, “THE BABY NEEDS BABY TOYS!!”.

I guess we’re not over it. She was tripping over her words and excitement to tell me what more she has stockpiled for The Baby. It all might as well go into a time capsule, because this baby isn’t coming anywhere near us for another 20 years. We will make do with her Christmas gift of Baby Alive (AKA “Baby Shits Her Pants”, “Baby Chokes on Food That’s Been Caked on For Many Days and Hardens”, or a plethora of many other colorful names). Ah, well, what can you do.

Here is a picture of my Modern Day Mother Warrior…..in her, uh, Jake & the Neverland Pirates outfit from Xmas. I’m sure she’d make an awesome Mommy right  now. I mean, Flash is still alive and that’s HUGE.

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The Bacon Standoff

Wow, time has flown by. I have been busy, busy, busy. My mother-in-law came from Georgia to visit for almost two weeks, and Erin, consequently, turned us on our heads. It was a great visit, but the person/thing that profited most from the visit was definitely Flash. He’s currently suffering from PTSD, however, he had a bit of a reprieve given that Grandma Vicki brought two furry little Shih-tzu puppies with her : Hannah and Sadie. They might be able to get a discount on group therapy, if it weren’t for the fact they live 11 hours away from each other. Misery loves company. Oh well. Anyway, Grandma Vicki slept in Erin’s bed, which was perfectly fine since she vacates her bed every night to form the letter H formation between her father and I in our bed. The draw of the puppies was too great, though, and she spent many a night in her sleeping bag, hunkered down on the floor next to Grandma Vicki, right where the puppies slept.

Here is a pic of the happy camper. (Singlular, not plural.)

I called the puppies for a comment, but they are still  working through their own PTSD issues.

I called the puppies for a comment, but they are still working through their own PTSD issues.

Then there were nights like this, when she refused to sleep anywhere, so we had to put the gate up in our bedroom to keep her in there.

She's picketing. On the floor in front of Rudy's crate. She's smart as shit.

She’s picketing. On the floor in front of Rudy’s crate. She’s smart as shit. Plus, she got caught 1) not being in bed like we asked and, 2) enjoying herself reading books. Double whammy.

Ok, so her sleeping situation became a bit unglued, no fault to anyone, it’s just that there was too much excitement with Grandma here! She did manage to bust out gymnastics in her usual fashion. The usual fashion being, a giant smile, stories for her teacher about how her Mom with one leg cannot do cartwheels (oh, but I can! And my husband told me to stop because I was going to hurt myself…..), picking her wedge gratuitously every 5 minutes, and the best of all – Honey Badger Jumping Jacks. Oh God, they are THE BEST.

Most kids get a stamp on their hands after class. Erin sticks her foot out and makes them stamp her foot. Can't see it here, but that's how she rolls.

Most kids get a stamp on their hands after class. Erin sticks her foot out and makes them stamp her foot.

We had a super time with Grandma Vicki!! Grandma Vicki is super organized, on time, and totally on top of everything. She was a part of our chaos for just enough time to spur her to get the hell out of dodge back to her organized, clean and on time lifestyle.

So, here we are and we’re getting back into our routine. I thought we did pretty well for a Monday morning yesterday. As usual, Erin and I were about 10 minutes late to school. Today was an entirely different story. I spent 45 minutes trying to wake her up, while I rushed around and got ready. Nope. Shirtless in my bed, she snoozed comfortably while I finally decided we weren’t making it there today. I had a Dr’s appt at 10:20am, and I’m trying to get her dressed 15 minutes before we absolutely have to walk out the door.

Me: “Erin, it’s time to get dressed.”

Erin: “Bacon.”

Me: “Erin, you need to get dressed RIGHT NOW.”

Erin: “Bacon.”

Me: “Are you saying blanket, or bacon? We don’t have any bacon, but you can bring your blanket.”

Erin: (Stomps foot on ground), “BACON.”

Me: “Come onnnnnn. I need you to get dressed. Santa Clause is watching you!”

Erin: (Stomps foot again, just once, because less is more), “BACON.”

Ok, this was almost as much fun as last week, when she did the same thing, but the super cool word was : “Daddy”. Same exact scenario, different key word. Also, this went on much longer than you see here, which is sad. I just argued with a complete crazy person who repeatedly said the word “Bacon” in response to my begging and pleading.

I have lost all threatening power with regards to Santa. She doesn’t flinch. I have no leverage. I’m over Christmas. What good is it if you can’t use it to threaten your children?

It doesn’t matter anyway, because Erin summed it up tonight to Dylan. “I don’t really like Christmas. I like Halloween much more better.”

“MOM-MEEEE! WILL YOU WIPE MY BOT-TOMMMM?!”

I yelled this from my Mom’s bathroom the other day. I wanted her to relive the moment as I live it, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. In ways like this, I try to remind my Mom just how much fun I (probably) was when I was little!  It’s always awesome to hear that phrase shouted from the bathroom. Daily. Our little Erin is quite predictable when she trots into the bathroom and shuts the door. We know exactly what she will yell, and we wait for it like a countdown, but sometimes we don’t know “who” will be the Chosen One. Mommy? or…..Daddy? Always on the edge of our seats!

Anyway, my Mom recently turned 70. She’s a long way away from those good ‘ol days of raising us kids. She and my Dad sit back and marvel  at chuckle at me and my siblings as we rear our own. Actually, my Mom still enjoys parenting all of us to the utmost of her ability, while my Dad has been known to wink at me a time or two and say, “What goes around, comes around.” So, when it came time to plan for the party, my sister-in-law and I tried to talk my Mom into a nice, quiet dinner for Adults Only for her birthday; we know how rowdy our bunch can get. “Nope!”, she insisted. “I want to be surrounded by my grandchildren and just have pizza, and play games!”

We indulged her. Except, only half the grandkids could come. (The loud ones.)

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This photo was taken before multiple Flash (the hamster) “pettings”, a mostly mild concussion from son hitting his head on the floor while roughhousing, and serious shirtless dance moves to current music + Michael Jackson music (ALWAYS current). (The caterpillar dance move is still a hit at parties, by the way.)

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Example of shirtless dance move by the Honey Badger. Skirt is also on backwards.

Flash makes an appearance at the party. Erin is showing him her orange while he watches "Elf" with her.

Flash makes an appearance at the party. Erin is showing him her orange while he watches “Elf” with her. He LOVES that movie.

At one point, the noise in the room from 4 hyped-up grandkids was just too much, and I looked at my Mom & Dad and yelled, “We could be having a really nice, QUIET dinner right about now!” And, my Mom replied, “THIS is what I wanted!” Truly, she did want all of the chaos. And, that is beautiful.

My Mom’s heart has taken a licking, and keeps on ticking. Despite the many challenges she has faced, she is with us still. And, her grandchildren are the MOST important part of her life. Eight grandchildren – from 21 yrs. of age, to 3yrs, she’s had a major impact on all of their lives. I think she had a fabulous time on her birthday. PLUS, she got to go home to her own peace and quiet, and hop right into bed. And, that’s how it should be. (My husband would stop me right here and say that I was lying. That she didn’t really hop into bed, she climbed.)

So, I wonder what it was like for my mother, being a “Mom” to my own 3 year-old Me. Was I the original Honey Badger? Was I a complete lunatic, like Erin? Did I talk incessantly without taking a breath, as well? I doubt it. She broke the mold. I think it’s absolutely bizarre how tiny we are when our personalities develop. Erin is only 3, but she is just the absolute most fun. I just wish I could get inside her little brain for a second and see the world through her eyes. I bet I would be amazed at what I saw.

Poor Baby

Christmas is drawing near, and so is the end of Baby’s stint here on earth, I’m afraid. Baby is Erin’s doll. She goes practically everywhere with us. (See example from Halloween here.) Baby has had it pretty good, despite being perpetually dirty, and never having any clothes on. These small imperfections matter not. She is lacking in a couple of areas, though; she doesn’t eat and she doesn’t crap her pants. Erin is asking for Baby Alive for Christmas. Or, Baby Shits Her Pants, as my sister calls her. It’s only a matter of time before somebody puts Baby in the corner. Permanently.

Yesterday, Erin, Baby, and I went to the park. I took the time to document what might possibly be one of Baby’s last hurrahs. I feel kind of sorry for her. As you will see, she had a really great time with us.

Baby on the slide. Weee!

Baby on the swing. I think she likes the swing best because HB sends her flying so high.

Baby on the rings. She doesn’t really care for the rings, but she rarely stands up for herself. Like never.

Sadly, I think she will miss the choke hold from the Honey Badger most of all.

Well, that’s it for our fun day at the park. We have other pictures, but those are just between us. It’s been a fun ride, Baby. We’ll see you on the flip side. Or we’ll see you flipped over, or on your side, under the bed, or stashed in the corner closet, come December 25th.

You’ve been a heck of a pal.

The Thanksgiving Experiment

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend, everyone! I am relaxing in the Wellness Center, with a tall gingerbread latte and a view of my Christmas tree, to report to you the findings of my Thanksgiving Experiment. I was having a lovely, quiet morning until my husband started playing the theme song to Flash Gordon (“Flash! a-ah AAH! Sav-ior of the Un-i-verse!”). This prompted the kids to run and get Flash to join us all in here. It’s a small party. At least I have coffee.

Ok, a couple of Housekeeping items before we begin.

1) Does anyone want a hamster?

2) The Honey Badger has a new nickname. She’s our little Mississippi Mud Flapper. I didn’t know that “safety scissors” could cut through hair. I won’t be leaving the room during crafts anymore.

There was lots more where this came from. However, after originally, albeit mistakenly, blaming radical hair loss on the dog, the rest of the evidence was sucked up by the vacuum.

The Mississippi Mud Flapper is not the name of a dangerous fugitive, but rather something to behold at tractor pulls, county fairs, WWE events, and the like.

“My Mom banned me from scissors until I’m at least 15 yrs old.”

Ok, now that we are current on everything else, I shall reveal the Thanksgiving Experiment that my unknowing family and acquaintances were subjected to. In retrospect, I probably should have been more forthcoming from the start, as I truly pissed off one of those in attendance, but it wouldn’t have been as much FUN!

Every other year, my sister hosts Thanksgiving. It’s a huge group of people, consisting of our family of 16, plus her husband’s family of 8. We are all tasked with contributing one or two items. I was assigned the stuffing/dressing this year. (It didn’t go inside the turkey, but I’m still going to call it “stuffing”.)

My Mom makes the best stuffing in the world, so that was an obvious choice as far as recipes go. Since there were so many of us, I had to bring two of ’ems (as the Mississippi Mud Flapper would say). It seemed kind of boring to just double it, so I was going to branch out and make the other stuffing from my friend Christine’s Food Blog, “Chew Nibble Nosh”. That was the plan, until we were hanging out at my parent’s house and pure GENIUS was unleashed. We had the best idea ever for a stuffing, but it was so outlandish, that we couldn’t tell anyone what was in it for fear that they wouldn’t eat it. Hence, the Experiment.

First, my ingredients:

Yes, these are White Castle sliders.

I sent my husband to White Castle at 8am on Thanksgiving morn. He got a free Coke in the drive-thru after patiently waiting for the piping hot bag o’ twenty sliders to be freshly prepared.

Next, the Honey Badger quickly destroyed them with her hands.

Finally, after adding sauteed celery and spices, and a 1/2 cup of chicken broth, I mushed it all together and put it in a pan.

Which is which? One is my Mom’s recipe, the other is White Castle Stuffing.

I arrived with clear instructions. I told everyone that Sean made one stuffing, and I made the other. We were having a “Stuff-Off”, and we needed everyone to vote for only ONE stuffing. I labeled them #1 and #2, and we refused to tell anyone who made which stuffing. This was a properly conducted blind experiment.

There they sit. Stuffing #1 is on the RIGHT, while Stuffing #2 is on the LEFT.

Ready to be shoveled into unsuspecting bellies.

After everyone ingested both stuffings, but prior to any second helpings, I went around to each table, and tabulated the results. Everyone was quite excited to be participating in the McGill Stuff-Off. It was an absolutely unanimous vote – Stuffing #1 was -hands down – the winner. Everyone said it was “delicious”, that it “had so much flavor”, and they “loved the meat in it”.

It was then that I declared that Sean McGill made neither of the stuffings. “I made them both.” I revealed that Stuffing #1 was Slider Stuffing. Immediately, I feared one of the members of our group was going to lose her dinner. After a guttural noise escaped her, she choked, “I’ve never had White Castle in my whole life. I’ve completely lost my appetite.” I worried about her for a little bit. I felt a bit of regret at helping defile her lean, healthy temple. She recovered quite nicely. I was kind of proud of her.

In the end, I think we all learned a big lesson:  It’s all in your head about what’s gross. All you White Castle naysayers, I’m talkin’ to you. You may think it’s disgusting, but according to my blind study, it was deemed delicious at Thanksgiving dinner. One cannot turn away from the evidence. Besides the verbal praise it received, the almost empty pan of Slider Stuffing at the end of dinner was the loudest testament of all.

Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

The Beef Song

A couple of months ago, it was a nightly ritual for Erin to request songs for us to sing at bedtime. She would choose something completely random, by glancing around the room, and come up with some totally arbitrary theme.  For example, she’d look up at the ceiling fan and say, “I want you to sing the fannnn song!!”. She was granted only two song requests per evening. We could only shoot from the hip so much. It was all good until you sang a REALLY good one, about the wall, window, or closet door, and then you were requested to sing it again the next night, and…GAH!…you totally forgot your awesome lyrics and tune. Happened all the time. We moved right on past that phase, as fun as it was. For awhile now, we’ve settled back into a more conventional routine of reading a few books and calling it a night…like normal parents.

Until last night.

Sean read Erin a couple of stories, as usual,when she suddenly looked up at him and said, “Daddy, will you sing me the Beef Song?”

Sean replied, “the beef song? I don’t know the beef song!”

Erin let out a most disgruntled sigh. Quite annoyed, she said, “YES, YOU DO!”

Sean really thought she was referring to the “bee” song from Monty Python: “Eric the Half a Bee”.  He said, “do you mean Eric the Half a Bee?” In the rotation of “actual, existing songs” that she was familiar with, this was not a far stretch, by any means.

“NO, DADDY, the bee-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-[strongly emphasizing the “EF” sound] song.” Not necessarily in a rude way, but a very exaggerated, tired of repeating herself, kind of way.

After a little bit of arguing about Monty Python vs. bee”F-F-F-F”, Sean finally succumbed to the old ritual of making shit up on the spot and singing about beef.  He doesn’t even recall his lyrics. We rarely do, because they are usually so lame, and they dissipate into the air as soon as they are crooned, and should be forgotten forever. It’s only when she requests real lullabies, like Michael Jackson tunes, that really matter anyway.

I do wonder, though, what impressive lyrics Sean sang last night. I am really curious. Or lack thereof, I suppose, as she did go to sleep quite quickly. Hopefully, we can get back on to normal nighttime routines, like sticking to books. But, when the honey badger demands these kinds of shenanigans out of nowhere, you better damn well get yourself together and perform. Thank God we’re both good under pressure. You never know what’s coming with HB. She likes to keep it fresh.

FREE BACON!!

Either I had you at “free”, or I had you at “bacon”. Does it really matter? They both are pretty awesome.

Listen, I only take orders. One of my bosses is The Honey Badger. And, when she wants bacon, well…she’s not joking around.

Does she look like she’s kidding? “ARE YOU GOING TO GET THE GOODS, OR NOT? STOP MESSING AROUND.”

So, I set off on a mission today. Retrieve bacon for the badger….among other things. I was desperate to get out of the house, anyway. I have been cooped up here for two days with a child that was possibly feigning illness to stay home, and the one pictured above. Ok, ok, Dylan was not actually feigning illness. He had really swollen tonsils, a fever, and is quite bored to tears now, and is ready to get back to school tomorrow. Usually, I despise going to the grocery, but my husband doesn’t mind one bit. Today, I was absolutely THRILLED to go myself! I had a ton of coupons; one of them was – free bacon! Who gives away free bacon??? You have to be on your game, but it can be done.

Proof.  I speak the troof.

It’s been a rough week. I redeemed myself by saving over $90 bucks at the grocery. I would like to think I could do this every week, but I think it’s absurd  to even tease the idea that this might become a regular occurrence. Too…..much…..work. Too much organization, prep, execution…not to mention, embarrassing yourself while standing at the cash register with a mountain of coupons while everyone else is pissed off that they ended up in your line. (Alright, let’s be honest, this last one doesn’t really bother me. It takes a lot to embarrass me, and this is not one of them.)

What it all comes down to is this: “SNACKS”.  Be it bacon, or vegetables, or fruit, or carbs, I don’t go more than a millisecond without hearing the words, “I wanna snack!!”. I absolutely loathe the word “snack”. It’s one of those words that just…strikes a chord. I just got a chill even thinking about it. Usually, I hear it in a slow, animated motion, “I WAAAAAANNNNA SNAAAAAAAAACK.” So simple, yet so LOADED. You offer up several different suggestions, all turned down. It’s a true testament to will power to give something healthy, but not redundant….lest they lose their healthy-ability (new word, just made up.)

Speaking of snacks, the  Honey Badger was also enjoying a “snack” while her Daddy read her a bedtime story.

Sean starts to read the book and Erin says“HOLD ON, SISTA!” as she quickly indulges her snack. When she was done, she acknowledged that she was indeed finished, and ready to move on with the story.

It’s hard out there for a honey badger.