If I had written

I just spent the last 90 minutes catching up with my poor, neglected Google Reader. I watched snippets of the Packers - Bears game in-between comments. I also checked the radar neurotically, since we have another (ANOTHER) snowstorm bearing down on us.

I did everything BUT write. Which is what I sat down to do 90 minutes ago.

If I had written, I might have told you how obsessed I've been the last three weeks with finding the right pet for our family. Last Friday, after agonizing for approximately 48,000 years, I called the shelter again to stress that I really did want to adopt the one-year-old puppy I showed you in this post. To my horror, the very kind woman who answered the phone told me "my" dog had been adopted by someone else the day before. Seems they never got my messages.

If I had written, I might have told you how devastated I was, initially. I felt like Christmas was going to be as flat as day-old ginger ale, seeing as the only other gifts my children have from their parents are coloring books and socks and oranges studded with cloves. (And Legos. And Polly Pockets. And tons and tons of books. But that ruins the drama, no?) But now, a few days later, I've made peace with it. That's largely due to Corey's constant encouragement that God is in control of everything, even this. Besides, he said, he didn't really think that dog was the right one for our family. So we're back to the drawing board. Here's my top pick right now.

We might get to meet her tomorrow night.

If I had written, I would probably have told you that Teyla is still sleeping through the night. However, the naps -- they are elusive. Last week, she took one nap. All week. By Friday afternoon, I was shredded. But today, she slept for two hours (TWO HOURS), and she was so sweet all afternoon. She has this beautiful throaty laugh that brightens a room. I love that laugh.

If I had written, I might have told you how I got a book in the mail last week from my BBFF and it's funny and smart and well written and encouraging at every turn and I get to give away a copy in January. Stay tuned.

If I had written, I might have told you that I miss journaling. I miss it dreadfully. Having three kids leaves me so little free time, and during the holiday season, that time is quickly gobbled by Christmas-related tasks. My soul is starting to ache with all the words inside it.

But I didn't write.

Instead, I'm going to show you this picture I took in Target last week.

Yes. Last week.

Merry Valentine's, everyone.

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 2)

------ 1 ------
I was giggling at the Texans and Okies on Twitter this week. They were all: "SNOW! It's snowing! I see snowflakes!"

And then they'd post pictures of brown backyards and kids running around in snowsuits with slightly solidified rain visible in the background. If you squinted. After pressing on your eyeballs for a few seconds. Or maybe they just took the pictures out-of-focus. Same difference.

Cracks me up. I lived in Southern California for almost a decade, so I say this lovingly, but if you live in a climate that allows you to feel your appendages in January, you don't know snow. And you couldn't handle it if you had it.

Case in point: Yesterday, I checked my favorite weather site. (Of course, I have one. Don't you?) It said two of my locations had weather alerts. The North Shore of Minnesota was under a winter weather advisory; an approaching storm was supposed to drop four to eight inches of snow that night, possibly falling as heavily as one inch every hour. Winds were going to gust to 40 mph, and temperatures were going to drop quickly behind the system.

The other alert was for the Bay Area of California (where my parents live). It said -- and I quote -- "Cool and showery weather starting this weekend."

An alert. For cool weather. And maybe rain. Starting in a few days.

Take cover now.

------ 2 ------
You know that scene in "Princess Bride," where the prince is declared only mostly dead?

I've decided this blog is mostly dead, at least for the month of December. I just want some time to work on other projects. It means my posting here is light, and my commenting has dwindled to nothing. Please know it's not personal, and I don't intend to fade to black. It's a temporary mostly deadness.

Anybody want a peanut?

------ 3 ------
Teyla is sleeping through the night. I repeat, TEYLA IS SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT.

I'm working on a dissertation on baby sleep, so I won't give away any secrets here. But this last Sunday, I cracked the code. And she started sleeping almost immediately.

Of course, I'm still waking up once or twice a night out of habit. But that's OK. I can see the end of the tunnel, and that's tremendously encouraging.

Now for naps. (I got Elizabeth Pantley's brand new book "The No-Cry Nap Solution" in the mail yesterday. Talk about perfect timing! Look for a review soon.)

------ 4 ------
I realized last week that I talked and Twittered and talked some more about my Thanksgiving menu -- but I never told you how things went.

In short -- Alton Brown is a genius. A mad, evil, funny genius. His turkey was amazing. It cooked so fast, it freaked me out a little. (I got one of those cool temperature gauges this year that allows you to monitor the internal temperature of the meat from outside the oven. It was unspeakably cool. I'm resisting the urge I have to use it on the kids while they sleep.)

Pioneer Woman's mashed potatoes are divine. The roasted vegetables were a great foil to ALL THE BUTTER in the mashed potatoes. The pumpkin chocolate cheesecake pie was really good, although the pumpkin layer was a little bland for me. Next year, I'm going to add my own mix of spices, instead of relying on the timid pumpkin pie spice.

And last week, I made the pumpkin sandwich cake (which was cut from my Thanksgiving line-up) for a MOPS Christmas brunch, and OH MY WORD. It was A HUGE HIT. (Sorry. I get excited about food.) Basically, it's a dense pumpkin cake layered with billowy cream cheese filling and topped with chocolate ganache. It would be perfect for Christmas.

(Just one note, that I feel compelled to add for any Google searchers who may end up here: When I made my cake, the layers turned out really thin. Like, REALLY thin. They were about 1/2-inch high. I wrote BHG about this, and a few days later, I got a reply from their wonderful Senior Food Editor. Through a process of elimination, he helped me figure out my problem: I used 9-inch cake pans instead of the 8-inch called for in the recipe. It doesn't sound like a big differece, but he said the 9-inch pans have 25% more capacity, resulting in much thinner cake layers. Word to the wise.)

------ 5 ------
I'm feeling very humbugish this December. (Maybe because I'm one of the Santa killers? That was my post over at 5 Minutes for Parenting this week.) I finally went and got a tree last Sunday -- by myself, since Corey was sick and in bed. (No pictures, since I'm saving them for Boo Mama's Christmas Tour of Homes.) Having it all twinkly and cheery in the living room window has helped my mood. So has Pandora's holiday music stations. I have either jazz holidays or peaceful holidays playing at any given moment lately.

------ 6 ------
I went to a cookie exchange this week. (Which is TOTALLY self-defeating for someone who likes to bake, by the way; I do NOT need your cookies in my house when I'll have 10 dozen of my own to contend with in a week.) Someone brought homemade marshmallows to the party.




I know what to make for the kids' teachers this year.

And here's where I must apologize for mocking Martha Stewart for YEARS for making her own marshmallows. I'm so sorry, Martha. I had no idea.

------ 7 ------
(Come close to your monitor. I need to whisper this last one.)

We're thinking of getting a dog for Christmas. The kids -- Natalie, in particular -- have wanted a pet for as long as I can remember.

Here's a picture of the puppy I love.

Upside? She's adorable. Downside? She's a puppy, and as such, must be trained.

Here's a picture of the one-year-old puppy I love.

Upside? She's trained and we know her temperament. Downside? She's already lost the puppy fuzz.

Thoughts? (Just don't bother telling me I'm crazy. I already know. Corey tells me all the time.)

(If you missed my first 7 Quick Takes, this is a new weekly carnival hosted by Jennifer at Conversion Diary. Awesome idea. Go check it out.)


I was stuck in traffic on I-494 last night, headlights playing the part of red and white Christmas lights against the inky blackness that is 5:00 these days, when I realized: I have no idea what to have for dinner.

I spent the day driving to and from the Tiny Town where we used to live; one of my best friends there turned 40 yesterday, so I loaded up the kids and showed up at her birthday brunch. Surprises are fun. The whole day was delightful. Tiny Town drove me crazy in so many ways, but the friendships I forged there will last a lifetime, of that I am sure.

But even on days filled with surprises and delight, someone has to cook dinner. That someone is me.

I called Corey from my cell, to gauge which of the meals remaining on my current menu sounded the most appealing.

“I have some ham to heat up with baked sweet potatoes.”


“Or I could throw together that sausage and potato casserole the kids love. It’s fairly quick.”


“The only other option is meatloaf, and that would take too long. Do ANY of those things sound appealing to you?”

Corey finally spoke. “I’m hungry. Really hungry. I haven’t had a good, hearty meal for a few days now. And I’m tired. And cranky. And hungry.”

OK then. So the man is hungry. He needs some real food.

For the record, Corey is a big guy. He’s very active, and he has an incredible metabolism. When we first got married, I cooked dishes that said “Feeds 4-6.” I ate my serving. He ate the rest.

But Corey is also an incredibly healthy eater; he’s very non-male that way. He never – and I mean never – eats fast food. He doesn’t like sweets. He loves vegetables and fruit and whole grains. (You should see his face light up when I make quinoa.) He loves ethic food (except Indian), fresh seafood and -- his favorite, lately -- streamed broccoli and lemon juice.

So he can be a bit of a challenge. A hungry challenge.

Thankfully, I remembered I had some leftover barbecue beef brisket in the freezer. So I ended up serving that last night with some risotto, which is my favorite comfort food right now.

But I’m still thinking about what makes a big, hearty meal for a healthy man – which is good timing, since I need to go grocery shopping tomorrow.

Stew would top the list. So would many of my soups. And lasagna, homemade lasagna with lots of sausage and cheese.

What about you? What do you feed a hungry man?