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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 73: Shut It Off

Problem: The TV is on. Again. You needed to make breakfast or dinner and switched it on for the children. And then never switched it off. Or they asked for it specifically after nap, and watched it for ten minutes then wandered off, but they don't want you to shut it off. Or they're still watching it. They'll watch it for hours. Whatever kind of television-watching toddler you have, you, as the parent, feel like the TV is on just too much.

Solution: Shut it off. But not like you think. This, like everything, requires slight manipulation of the situation. The toddlers need to feel like they are in control. So, if they ask you to turn the television on, try to guide them  in a different direction, but if they're set on it (and asking politely, of course), go ahead and turn it on. Either set a time (if you've got an actual watcher), or wait five minutes when your kids will be distracted by any of the other wonderful things in your living room and shut it off again. If they protest, take part in whatever game they were playing before you shut it off. If they insist, turn it on again, but in another few minutes shut it off.

This might seem odd, but in my house, it's a result of a parenting mistake I made long ago. I turned the TV on to make breakfast, and left it on because my kids weren't watching it, so I figured it wasn't harming anything. But they got used to having it on in the background, and the truth is, I don't really like the television on. I don't like the sound of it. It's distracting and unnecessary. But, they're so used to hearing it in the background that they railed against my off position. So I've been doing it this way to prove to their subconsciouses that they don't need the mindless drabble in the background, and it's been working.

They feel like they have some control, and television stays in its place (instead of being put on a pedestal along with other things Mom says they can't do), and they come to realize they don't really want or need the TV anyway. I mean, they're just running around ignoring it anyway, and Kung Fu Panda isn't on for me.


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Friday, December 30, 2011

Smarts Aren't Just About the ABCs

I spend the majority of my day playing with and catering to my kids. We do spelling games, sound games, and rhyming games. We draw, trace and identify letters and numbers. We talk a lot. They used their first adverb the other day. They know synonyms and homonyms. (Not by the names, just by definition.) They're constantly asking questions and internalizing the answers. They amaze me every day.

So why is it that in an emergency situation, they would have no idea what to do?

Parent fail, that's why.

I didn't even realize I hadn't imparted this pertinent information until a few days ago. My husband was playing with them with a toy phone that came with their kitchen. They were gleefully calling the police and taking him to jail. But they didn't know the number. Then my husband said, "oh! I'm hurt! Call an ambulance."

And the game stopped.

The girls just stared at him, like, what?

They knew about doctors and well visits and bandages, since they've had experience with all of those things. But, thankfully, they've never witnessed a true emergency. And since it never crosses my mind, I never taught them about it.

And in one night, the girls went from clueless to knowing exactly what to do. And they never had to leave the premise of the game.

"Call nine-one-one!" My husband said, missing just a beat. And the girls sprung into action.

"Wait!" they shouted. "Where is it? Where are the numbers?"

My husband showed them.

Within minutes, they had taken control again. "Call 9-1-1!" one of them shouted, and the other would dial the correct numbers. We told them what to say. "Hello, there's an emergency. Please come quickly."

And now they know. The girls went from playing to prepared, and they didn't even know the difference.

Now, will they really be able to call 9-1-1 in an emergency? Probably not. They'll probably try to use their toy phone. But it's a start.

When you teach your kids, you can't forget the basics. I'm guilty of that often. Luckily, my husband has my back.


If you like this blog, please vote for it here at Babble's Top 100 Blogs list. It would mean the world to me. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Dreaded Post Christmas Cleanup

After the last of the wrapping paper was scrapped and the boxes tossed out, I lined toys up against the wall, I stashed them in corners. I tidied. I didn't clean. Why? Because it's scary, that's why. And I was left with this. Until finally yesterday, I couldn't take it anymore. I began the hours-long, post-Christmas cleanup.

I got lots of good advice.

Do it at night, they said. That way it's quicker, your kids aren't messing things up as soon as you straighten them, and there are no fights about which toys we are giving away.

Excellent plan, but I'd never do it. My kids don't go to bed until 10 p.m. and when I finally lay their sweet, annoying little heads down on those pillows, I am not cleaning. I am done for the day.

Have them help you pick out old toys they don't want anymore to give away, they said.

Fantastic idea. Teach them sharing and charity. They're not going to miss the toys once they're gone, right? Only they do. My children have the uncanny ability to miss something that has been knowingly given away, I think, just to mess with me. The musical seahorse they got when they were three months old? Suddenly at three and a half, they want to listen to his lullabyes again. Why? Because I gave him away six months ago, and they remembered yesterday, as we went through their toys again.

That doll they never played with once? Well, wouldn't you know they were going to start playing with it tomorrow?

Even pieces of toy sets for infants, like a little ladybug with a mirror on the bottom that had long lost its mobile. They were using it, dammit, mom!

It's not a one-time remembrance, either. I think my children have a built-in Excel spreadsheet containing every toy they've ever owned. Sometimes they'll even ask me to bring back their cribs. Why? Because they're theirs.

Anyway, three hours later, the girls had played with every old ball, every random action figure, every car, every Barbie and every piece of plastic fruit in our house. I had a white trash bag of trash, and a white trash bag of giveaways. I had to promise Lilly I wasn't going to throw them out, but simply store them. Because she really needed the old popped-out bubble wrap from two years ago, she swore.

I was cranky and tired and irritable. The house now looked like this:

Boy, it looks almost the same, doesn't it? It looks like it should have taken me 30 minutes, not three hours, right? No, I agree with you. It's certainly not what I was expecting when I started the task. I thought it would take an hour and be...cleaner, somehow.

This is what I was talking about yesterday.  But I know my plight well enough to still feel a sense of accomplishment about this. It was hard work, and I did it.

And it lasted until 7 a.m. this morning, when they woke up. I think that's a record.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to Explain your Life to an Outsider

Did you know I had more sanity when I was a working mom? My house wasn't as clean (and as you know, it's no prize right now, anyway), I felt as if I would break at any point. There was no relief.

Except I had a 45-minute commute each way. I thought, I listened to music, I went over my day, straightened my thoughts, talked to friends and family. I had an hour and a half of highway driving all to myself.

What a glorious gift.

I thought often during those rides about how awesome my life would be if I could only be a stay at home mom. My housework would get done. My kids would be played with (God, I missed my kids). And I'd have so much time. I'd have an extra nine hours a day. With all that time every single day, how could things not be perfect?

Boy, was I wrong. I could try to sum it up, but I can never find the right words to explain why I can't keep everything immaculate, be clean and pretty, bake things, domestic goddess style, with two little cherubs who are never misbehaved because they get all the attention and love they need.

This woman did a pretty good job, so I'll leave it to her:

I'm not sure if that image will work with my set up, so here's the link to a public facebook share of this column.

The most important point? The one I always forget and overlook? It takes 45 minutes to do what takes others 15 minutes. And that's being conservative. I would venture to say a 15-minute long task takes me an hour and a half.

As an example, this morning, I took a shower. The kids only interrupted me three times, and never for fighting. It was amazing. They'd bust in, tear open the curtain, hand me something or make a joke and go away. I'm hoping against hope that this is the beginning of a new era.

Previously, I could only take a shower late at night after they went to bed. If I tried during nap, it woke them up. If I tried while they were awake, even with my husband home, they'd badger and bother me the whole time, either making me take them with me and wash them too, or trying to hand me soap and shampoo and play with my razors. It was not relaxing. It was not cleansing. It was hard work. A shower. Hard work.

Not only is this mind-boggling, it's frustrating as hell. So that by the time you're done with your 90-minute chore (whatever it may be), you're no longer on top of your life, the invincible housewife, getting it done. You're haggard, upset, disheveled and wondering why you even bothered to try doing that duty in the first place.

This can be an ugly spiral. So, yes, the childless person who wrote that question, you can do all those things and work a nine-hour job. I can't. It's true. Way to stick the pin in even harder. Like I said, I can't explain it. I can only say that it's different, and it's harder and, yeah, a lot of the time I hate it, and I especially hate how alienating it is to my childless friends. But it's worth it. It's worth it, and it won't last like this forever. It can't, right? I mean even this morning I was able to take real-person shower. Like a real person. A shower.


If you like this blog, please vote for it here at Babble's Top 100 Blogs list. It would mean the world to me. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blast You, Max and Ruby!

My children had an unfortunate affair with Max and Ruby for a few weeks there. I think they're over it now, thank goodness, but not before learning several bad behaviors.

This is from its wiki page:

"The episodes present stories about Max, a rambunctious and determined three-year-old bunny, and his big sister, Ruby, a patient, goal-oriented, sometimes restrictive seven-year-old bunny. The show presents an uplifting message for its audience by showing Max and Ruby playing together and exercising respect and love in resolving their conflicts."

There's nothing uplifting to me about a seven year old and a three year old on their own. You'd think Grandma Bunny would be a bit more involved, but no. A seven year old and a three year old catch the public bus to see her. Oh, okay. That's kind of a lot to expect, I think.

And Max is three? I had no idea until just now. Because most neurotypical three year olds are saying more than one word at a time, wouldn't you say? If my kids point at one more thing and demand it over and over only using a one-word name for it, I might see red.

And Max is a saint to hang out with boring Ruby all the time. At the same time, he's not really a good kid, per se.

We got the Christmas DVD for Christmas. In the Santa episode, he refuses to go to sleep and he sees Santa.

Are you kidding me, Nick Jr.? Because what I need on the night before Christmas is a television show telling my kids that if they ignore the going to sleep part of Christmas Eve, they'll actually meet Santa. Awesome.

The next episode is even worse for us. My kids have trouble eating. They don't like to do it. They don't like to try new things, and getting them to take a bite of something is quite the task, all on its own. So someone needs to clue me in on why having Max hate eggs (which he's never tried), is a good idea.

The episode goes like this: Ruby makes Max an egg. Max doesn't want the egg. He wants the strawberries. Ruby says not until after you eat your egg. Max breaks his one-word streak to say "Bad Egg!" throughout this episode. He hides the egg, he throws his spoon, he drops the egg on the chair. Ruby is ever-patient and never loses her temper. Never reprimands him for his bad behavior either.

Then Ruby finally does the I'm-going-to-show-you-how-delicious-this-is tactic, and takes a bite of the egg. Then she does it again, and Max plays into it "egging her on" as it were. She eats the whole egg, and he still gets the strawberries.

So my kids have learned that if they don't want to try something they can hide it, throw things and just generally be obstinate until the adult (because, yes, they think Ruby is an adult) eats it for them and then they get a treat.

Great. Really?

I've seen another one where he wants a popsicle and Ruby says no and he spends the episode making a huge mess to get to the popsicle. At the end, he's slurping away happily, everything is destroyed and they're all like, oh, Max, hahaha.

That's just not how I want my house to run. No more Max and Ruby for us. It's an annoying show and the only thing it teaches is how to get what you want by being bad (or figuratively die trying.) No thanks.


If you like this blog, please vote for it here at Babble's Top 100 Blogs list. It would mean the world to me. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Recipe Monday - Roast Duck

So, I am at best a good bad cook. The things I make tend to come out pretty darn good, but I usually have no idea how. Earlier in the week, I decided I'd cook a duck for Christmas dinner.  Here's the recipe I finally ended up using.

  1. Score the skin, cut off excess fat, and poke it all over
  2. Salt and truss
  3. Roast at 300 degrees for 1 hour, breast-side up
  4. Poke, flip, roast for 1 hour, breast-side down
  5. Poke, flip, roast for 1 hour, breast-side up
  6. Poke, flip, roast for 1 hour, breast side down
  7. Poke, flip, blast at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, breast-side up
  8. Flip, and put it in for another 10 minutes
  9. Rest, carve & serve (I poured orange sauce on it.)
 Now, this ended up being one of the best meals I've ever made in my life. But it's not the results that make me a bad cook. It's the cooking processes. This one was accidentally recorded and I'd like to share it with you.


3 p.m.
So I thought I'd be fancy and buy a duck for Christmas dinner. It's like a turkey only smaller, right? WRONG. Kill me now.
  • Melanie: Lol!!

  • Tracey: Teach you to be fancy!
  • Emilie: At least you have the internet! :D
 3:10 p.m.

Guys, the neck is STUCK in there. This shit is for the birds.
  • Mandi: Garbage parts.

 3:14 p.m.
  • Courtney: That was Tiffany, she just took all her turns...Ill kick her for you! LoL
  • Tiffany:SORRY! I didn't know!
  • Tiffany:Hey wait a're mad that I played WWF while you're "elbow deep in duck," but you can still post on Facebook!? How does that work!?

  • Darlena Mariani Cunha LOL I was wondering if you'd pick up on that.
    19 hours ago ·
  • Darlena Mariani Cunha I couldn't THINK at the time, but I NEEDED to complain. That's how!

  • Tiffany: lol, I love you! Merry Christmas!!! (sorry you're elbow deep in duck)
 3:17 p.m.
Oh God, it (the neck) came out. Gross gross gross. I guess this kind of thing is what twitter is for, eh?
3:19 p.m.
Darlena Mariani Cunha
UGH. What are all these other stinky red disgusting things? One went down the disposal. I don't even care.
  • Mandi: Duck giblets. 

3:25 p.m.

I love how they just say, remove all the excess fat, like it's in an easy-to-reach-bag or something. Oh, okay.
    • Alison: god I love you. If I lived closer I would cook your duck for you.
    • Darlena Mariani Cunha ALISON! Do you know how to do this? It says put it on a rack in a deep pan...BUT MY RACK IS TOO BIG FOR MY BIGGEST PAN!
    • Darlena Mariani Cunha Also, that's what he said.

    • Darlena Mariani Cunha But serious. Should I use a rack over a cookie-ish sheet? Should I place the rack OVER the pan? What if the duck falls off? Should I just fuck the rack and put it in the pan?
    • Tracey: Your rack is perfect, my dear.

    • Kathleen: Isn't duck fatty? I wouldn't use a cookie sheet.
    • Channon: No, don't use a cookie sheet. If your rack is too big put it over the pan. Be careful when you put it in the oven and it will be fine.
    • Alison: I would put the rack over the deep pan, duck it pretty fatty you want it to sit above the fat and the cookie sheet probably won't contain it.
    • Channon: Do yourself a favor and cover the roasting pan with tin foil to contain some of the mess.
    • Stacy: You make me smile. Your duck will be great. If not, wine and cookies. 

3:31 p.m.
YANK out the QUILLS? You have got to be kidding me.
    • Teal: This is why I google everything!!!! LOL good luck hun and Merry Christmas!!!!
    • Lorraine: You are crackin me up, I know not funny to you tho

3:35 p.m.

Just tried. Nope, Don't Care. Eat around the damn quills.
    • Jess: This is the best series of Facebook posts ever

3:38 p.m.
It's in the oven, and I'm eating a Christmas cookie I had to foresight to make BEFORE the duck. See you in four hours, sucker. Where's the wine?
6:13 p.m.
Darlena Mariani Cunha
Did you know that duck still stinks even after having been in the oven for 2.5 hours? It's just now starting to smell okay.
    • Mandi: Duck is seriously oily.
    • Amber: Eww. lol

8:30 p.m.

You guys are never going to believe this after all that...but the duck came out PERFECTLY. I'm serious. It may have been the best meal I ever made.

If you like this blog, please vote for it here at Babble's Top 100 Blogs list. It would mean the world to me. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Moment of the Week - 72: Oh Shit, Son, It's Christmas!

I was kind of failboat on the pictures this year. I just couldn't get any sweet ones. Thankfully, I've got plenty of goofy ones to make up for it.
Presents make me crazypants!
I know, right? This is totally off the hook!

If I don't get some chocolate and a tiara, someone's ass is grass!

Okay, you know it's Christmas when the adults take a request like that seriously!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.


If you like this blog, please vote for it here at Babble's Top 100 Blogs list. It would mean the world to me. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 72: Speak Their Language

Problem: You have errands lined up that will take the whole of the afternoon, and your toddler has other plans. Be it dawdling, tantruming, playing or teasing, your kids are not getting back in the car. You have four more places to hit before dark. If you force them now, you'll only give yourself a miserable three hours and be stuck in the car with a couple of wailers. What do you do?

Solution: Speak in their terms. Find an angle to each place you have to be, each thing you have to do, and make it interesting to them. They're not going to care if you have to return that throw pillow, but maybe they're interested in the doors that open by themselves or helping you pick out a cart?

The other week, I was in the pharmacy, and I said to the girls as we stood at the counter, "Let's hurry now. It's time to go to the bank and get our lollipops."

The woman checking me out looked up at me, alarmed. "Are you really going to the bank just to get lollipops? Because I've got some right here."

Shhhh! First of all, never mention that there are available lollipops in the immediate vicinity. Not if you value your hearing. Secondly, of course we're not going to the bank for lollipops. We're going because I have things to do there. Things that don't interest my kids in the least. What does interest them, though, is the lollipops they receive there.

Find out what's interesting to your own kids, and mention it each time you are going to a new place. Hopefully the excitement will propel you all on your way.


If you like this blog, please vote for it here at Babble's Top 100 Blogs list. It would mean the world to me. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Drawing Blood at Preschool?

Yesterday, I dragged my crew to the preschool where we take a few extra-curricular classes. It was going to be our last day, the school stating it was open until December 23rd. What they failed to mention was that the extra classes ended last week.

So, we walk, hand in hand, to the big doors and are accosted by LifeSouth people trying to do a blood drive in one of those mobile units. Right outside the preschool.

"Please come," the woman said, "we've been here for two hours and not one person has donated blood."

I held my arms up, each attached to a twin, and said, "Well, this is why! No one can give blood when attached to a toddler. Even if they really wanted to, would the staff want to go through that, or know how to handle it?"

She shook her head, understanding.

"Maybe on the way out," I said.

We get to the music room, and it is closed and dark. Great. Another failure on the part of myself and the preschool. Another waste of time. What am I going to do with these two kids now? I have to do something with them. I took them out after all.

Oh, hey, blood drive.

I climb onto the bus with the girls in tow. The man asks if they'll be okay outside with a snack and juice while I answer the personal questions. I laugh at him.

Five minutes later, we're all squeezed into a 2x2 vestibule, the man trying to ask me if I've ever had sex with a gay man from Africa or done heroin while being a prostitute, and my kids are shouting over him, asking questions about the room, about the van, about the man, about the pad, about whether or not the sun is going down. You name it, they asked it. The man did well.

Then it was time to get down to business. Dulce was already suspicious of the man because of the finger-stick where he deliberately hurt me (in her eyes). She was wary of the bed and the preparations. I explained to them about blood and how some people need it, and how I was sharing mine with them because I had a lot. I don't know if any of it stuck, but it had to have been better than singing Twinkle Twinkle again, right?

They hooked me up, and the girls looked on. Dulce looks concerned here, but really she's just annoyed that I get to play with a small, squishy football, and she doesn't get one.

Natalina, on the other hand, was perfectly content to munch on goldfish crackers.

Then, before we knew it, we were done. We had been the only people in the van the whole time. I was the only one that gave blood that day. No one else was stupid enough to drag their kids into a blood-drive bus at the end of their work day. Everyone just went home. And I don't blame them. Could you imagine a bunch more kids running around the bus? What a mess.

So, that's the story of my giving blood with the twins. I'm pretty sure it didn't traumatize them. And they really liked my super-big bandage, too.

I hope LifeSouth takes my advice to heart and set up somewhere else next time. And if you're a parent, give it a try. If I can do it with twins, well, maybe you can do it too!


If you like this blog, please vote for it here at Babble's Top 100 Blogs list. It would mean the world to me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Natalina and the Quest for Elevators

When we last left our heroes (Dulce and Natalina, of course), they were tucked up all comfy-like in their carseats on the long trek back from Orlando. But the whole story hadn't been told. Little Lilly took on her travels with a new goal in mind, a goal she would never (or so it seems) let go of.

Lilly is going to be the first toddler in history to ride up and down every elevator in the whole world. I know because she told me so.

It came about in a simple way.

As you can imagine, even the most interesting fruit can get stale after 20 minutes or so, and being in a hotel lobby (my husband had chosen a new parking service that ran out of the Comfort Suites without needing to stay in the hotel itself), there were lots of pretty shiny things to explore.

Until, of course, they spotted the elevator. After that, all else ceased to exist in the world.

Now, I didn't want to be that parent who lets her kids run rampant on the elevator, pushing all the buttons and messing other patrons up. But I also didn't want any over-tired, we-were-supposed-to-eat-dinner-an-hour-ago tantrums, either. What to do?

Eventually I settled on letting them take a ride up one floor and down again once every 15 minutes or so. They alternated turns pressing the buttons.

By the time the car was fixed, they had no interest in motor travel at all. They simply wanted to ride the elevator.

To get Natalina in the car, I told her that we would look for more elevators. That lots of buildings had elevators and we had to find them.

She gave me a look, and her "okay" was rather suspicious, but in the end, it got her into the car.

Throughout the journey, she asked where the next elevator stop was going to be, and when my husband went out to try to find us food, she looked at him hopefully.

"Are we going to find the elevators?"

He went to "check the elevators" and came back saying, sadly, there were none at the rest stop. Should we keep going?

Yes we should. At the next stop, she actually woke herself from sleep to ask about it.

Nope, Daddy said, none here either. There must be some elevators somewhere.

As she went to nod back off, she murmured sleepily to me, "Mama, I'm going to ride all the elevators in the whole world."

And that's when I knew it was serious.

We got home and trundled them off to bed, and the next morning, instead of coming upstairs to wake me and cuddle with me, Natalina awoke quietly, making not a peep downstairs.

I made my way down to find her sitting at the bottom of the stairs, shoes in hand.

"Where next, mama? We have to find the elevators!"

And throughout the week we've looked everywhere. The grocery store, the library, the car wash and the bank do not have elevators, but Lilly isn't letting that get her down.

She knows there must be some more elevators somewhere on this earth, and, by God, she is going to find them.


If you like this blog, please vote for it here at Babble's Top 100 Blogs list. It would mean the world to me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guest Post - Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

I am so pleased to be here today and share one of my favorite Cajun Holiday appetizers on my friend Darlena’s incredible blog, Tales of an Unlikely Mother. Please, let me introduce myself: I’m Jessica, the girl behind the Cajunlicious blog and now the Cajunlicious Cookbook!

So, without further ado, I give you my Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

Perfect for any get together, party, appetizer, or a meal for two.

You will need

1 pound of mushrooms

5 ounces lump crab meat

Parkay butter spray or 1 stick of butter

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped red bell pepper

2 tablespoons chopped green onions

2 garlic cloves, pressed

¼ teaspoon Cajun seasoning

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1-tablespoon cream

½-cup bread crumbs

1-tablespoon parmesan cheese

1-tablespoon lemon juice + a wedge to squeeze on top

Lemon wedges for garnish

Hot sauce


Wipe mushrooms with a damp towel. Pop out the stems, chop, and set aside.

Spray mushroom caps with the parkay butter spray. Spay a shallow baking dish with butter spary.

Pour 3 tablespoons of the butter into a saucepan; add reserved chopped mushroom stems, minced onion, garlic, and red bell pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender.

Combine cooked ingredients with breadcrumbs, green onion, Greek yogurt, cream, lemon juice, crabmeat, and seasonings. At this point, I added a few dashes of hot sauce and a few dashes of Tabasco pepper vinegar. Fill each mushroom cap, piling up.

Sprinkle each mushroom with a little Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, until hot and mushroom caps are tender.

Serve with lemon wedges & enjoy!

Note: The filling can be made in advance and refrigerated until ready for use.


And for some very exciting news….

I’ve spent the last 8 months of my life writing my very first cookbook, and now it’s finished. After months of dedication, stress, fun, cooking, eating, and more cooking I finished it!!! I am so proud of this cookbook and so very happy to have it in my hands, full of All Things Cajun! It’s a reflection of the website and a collection of authentic Cajun recipes that I grew up eating. Some are on the blog and some are secret family recipes passed down the generations.

I am so happy to share this news with all of you and in time for Christmas. This cookbook-child of mine now, lol is full of dishes I grew up eating, recipes that are made with love, and passed down from generation to generation.

Cajunlicious All Things Cajun Cookbook is available here at

The Cajunlicious Cookbook Cover, designed by my husband, William

Here is a sneak peek of a few dishes in the book

Thank you so much Darlena for inviting me to guest post with you today, it truly is an honor! Happy Holidays everyone!

Thank you, Jessica, for giving another fantastic recipe!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Looking Back - December Review II

This was a very normal year for us. I didn't go through any big changes, I just was. I did mess up a lot and my kids still made it through somehow.

In April, I bought classy bedframes for my daughters' new big-girl beds. And I failed. Hard.

I brought them back and the beds are still on the floor to this day.

I also scared the crap out of my children by telling them that a witch would come at night and get them. I thought we were playing a game, I swear! They're still afraid of her though. Another fail.

I also looked back at their infant months and thanked the Lord I wasn't there anymore. My friend was having twins, so I wrote a post to prepare her for it. This one got picked up by USA Today, so that was pretty cool.

In May, I started Operation Give a Shit. This was a full-blown life makeover attempt. I cleaned every room, top to bottom, I reorganized everything and did some design work. I started trying to shower regularly (by myself! Without toddlers!) It was totally worth it.

I ruefully compared a trip to the beach as a family with young kids to a trip without.

And I found out a very important piece to being a parent of twins. Don't let them lose their identities!


I also railed against couponing.

And I explained why sometimes I dress my kids in identical clothing. It's not for me, trust.

This has been part of the Review Extravaganza! Link up, link up!

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Epic Journey

I have never been so happy about fake fruit in a bowl in my life as I was last night.

Remember last year, we ended up at a hotel after our Christmas Odyssey? A year later and we're at a hotel again.

But let's back up. You know how a few days ago I posted about our traveling travesty? Our plane ride back was pretty much exactly the same. Happy, cheerful girls, on permanent maximum volume for the entire three hours, plus the half hour we waited on the tarmac.

We finally get off the plane and wait forever for our bags. We go out to the shuttle area at area 35. Our shuttle will arrive at area 3. That's a long walk with two toddlers, let me tell you. So, we're waiting at the area for what seems like forever.

My husband says to me, "This is the last time we use a hotel parking service. Back to car lots for us. This is ridiculous." Actually, it was the best thing that could have happened to us.

Bags are in the trunk, girls are strapped down. In the passenger seat, I plug in the navigation on my phone. My husband turns the key. Nothing. He turns it again. The car is completely dead. It's 10 p.m., we're two hours from home after spending six hours traveling so far, and my car is dead.


Okay, think. No problem. I'll just call Triple A. I'm on a family plan. Or...I was on a family plan. Did it expire? I don't even know. I've got the card still. It says 2011. It should work.

"Hello, are you in a secure location?"

I explain that we're stuck at the Comfort Suites Inn. I give my account number. It's deactivated. Expired in March 2011.

Can I renew it? I kind of need help here.

They transfer me to the "home office," which is in Connecticut. I have to use my maiden name and my mother's address, because, yes, at 29, I'm still under my mom's Triple A. (This is why it had expired. I was going to get my own, you know, being an adult and having a family myself, but I never got around to it.)

I can't renew it. My mom has to. No problem. Call my mom. She doesn't answer. Twice. Call my stepdad. He doesn't answer. Call my sister to see if she knows the house number. She doesn't answer. Call my brother. You guessed it. He doesn't answer. It's 10 p.m. on a Sunday night, do you know where your family is?

Meanwhile, we've moved the whole circus inside, and thank God we parked at a hotel. Meeting us inside was a cheerful lobby with decorations and people still moving opposed to the dreary, dismal inside of a car self-service park. The girls immediate took to a bowl of plastic fruit on a sitting table and played with it for an entire glorious hour.

I'm waiting on a callback from my mom. My husband has spoken to the hotel staff and they went outside to try to jump the car. But they can't reach it because there are other cars parked on all sides. I call my mom again. She answers.

"Can you reinstate me on your policy, Mom? We're stuck in Orlando and my car is dead. I need Triple A."

"Am I going to have to explain why you're living in Florida?"

"I don't think so. Just try to put me on and don't mention my address. They won't ask you when setting up the account."

She does it. It works! I call again, and Triple A is on the way!

58 minutes later...Triple A is still on the way. Ugh.

They eventually show up and talk my husband into buying a new battery from them, which they install. I put all the fruit back, we pack up, and finally, we're on our way.

Why is traveling never simple?

Oh, and the reason the battery was dead? We'd left the reading lamp on after following directions to the hotel five days ago. Fail.


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Moment of the Week - 71: Present Time!

How about little girls in dresses opening presents?

Merry Christmas! Back to substantial posts tomorrow, when we're back home. I will say this: My mother-in-law says three is the best age, and it's all downhill from here.

If that's the case, I'm not sure any of us will survive.


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