Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Best Burgers Ever

Monday, May 31, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - This was an experiment, but it was successful.

2 lbs ground turkey
2 med eggs
1/3 cup finely minced fresh onion
1 pkg Ranch dressing mix (Hidden Valley, etc.)

Mix all ingredients together, let sit in fridge for at least 2 hours. Grill to your preferred "doneness," but be aware that turkey does not have as much fat as beef, thus it also has less moisture. So however you like your burger, I suggest you try these one step down. Well done becomes medium well. Medium well becomes medium. Medium becomes medium rare. Medium rare stays where it is - are you insane?! Don't even think about eating rare ground meat mixed with raw eggs - you might as well skip the burger and spread salmonella on a bun.

Anyway... serve on a lightly toasted wheat roll with condiments of your choice - but the burger is really flavorful, so don't cover it up!

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday? Not My Fun Day

Sunday, May 30, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - Emmie and I set off on a fun day today. Except... The world rescheduled itself, and no one informed me.

Maxwell Library - AKA The Worst Library in the CSRA - was so closed that they had padlocked the book return. They didn't even want their own books coming in on their holiday weekend.

So we went to the Columbia County Library, usually open 2-5 on Sundays.

Psyche! Closed for Memorial Day weekend.

So we hop over to the Jones Creek pool. Can't go wrong with swimming, right? As we pull up, we see the lifeguards putting away umbrellas and such.

"Um..." I approach tentatively.

"Yeah, we're closing," the lifeguard says.

"Aw, poo!" Emmie explodes, from her car seat. "Dis is da WORST day!"

It could be worse. But it's certainly frustrating!


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Sweetness + Light

Sunday, May 30, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - Emmie and I are trying to make banana pancakes. But something is wrong. They're more like unevenly-cooking banana crepes. I think the batter is too thin. They look like crap. I sigh.

"Emmie, I think Mommy made a mistake."

She pats my arm: "Dass okay, Mama. Eben if you mate a mistake, dey're still goeend taste good."

Well, dangit, if that isn't the best attitude!


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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Adjustment Issues

Saturday, May 29, 2010 By

Text to Alice: "Dude. It's SO quiet here!"
Alice: "R u afraid the voices n ur head will get clearer?"
Me: "LOL! NO. Afraid other ppl will hear them, too!

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Friday, May 28, 2010

GooGoo for Gaga

Friday, May 28, 2010 By

Augusta, GA. - “Mamaaaa!” Emmie shrieks as she approaches, her Nona just behind her. “Did you know dat Lady Gaga is REAL?!”

Oh, did I forget to mention Emerson’s new obsession? Yeah. Well. Apparently, Lady Gaga is “da coolest bestest lady in da world.” Gee, thanks. I’ll remember that the next time you ask me for something, Emmie. Like a kidney.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

“Uh, honey?” I call to Scott, after peeking over Emerson’s shoulder at the YouTube video she has pulled up. “Emerson is watching a video about how to be Lady Gaga…?”

"Yeah. She already told me that she wants to be Lady Gaga when she grows up.”

“Well, who doesn’t?”

“I know, with her money, who wouldn’t?”

I was really thinking about the designer clothes

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

“Did you know dat? Did you know dat Lady Gaga is real?” Emmie runs right up in my grill.

“Yes, sweetie, I did know that.”

Her face falls, then brightens.

“But you nebber MEET her!”

“True,” I concede.

“I’m goeend ta meet her. But Nona say she libbs in Californya?” she wrinkles her forehead at me.

“Probably.”

“But why?”

“Cause that’s where famous people live.”

“Can we go der?”

“Maybe one day.”

“AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!” she screams and runs in circles. “An’ I goeend meet LADY GAGAAAAAA!”

Good. Lord.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

“Is she allowed to watch that?” Nona asks, concern filling her face. A naked back and side-boob are not appropriate television for little girls. By the way, we’re at the country club pool, where naked back and side-boob are everywere.

“Yeah, for now. If she starts asking for Alexander McQueen shoes, though, we’re putting a stop to it.”

“But… they’re in their underwear!”

“You know what underwear is?” I ask.

“What?”

“Bathing suits that are called underwear.”

That didn’t win me any points.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wide Open Spaces

Thursday, May 27, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - My new job is in a rather expansive, corporate-like organization. It's a great place, with great people; however, in a company this size, the workplace is massive. I don't know where anything is. I frequently have to check the nameplates to find my own office!

This morning, groggy from being kicked all night by my daughter, I slugged down the hall to the administrative assistant's office to ask her a question. But I didn't recognize anyone in the office.

"Have they all been replaced overnight?" I thought.
Nope. I was in the wrong room.

"Uh, hi, can I help you?" one of the ladies said.
"Oh, sure," I faked. "I just wanted to introduce myself and say hello. My office is right down the hall." At least, I hoped it was. I faked a 5 minute conversation with them, just to cover the fact that I was lost.

When I told the admin later, she laughed: "I've done the same thing."

Yay, there are two of us! Now we can form a church!

Then I had an appointment in another building. I had to look at the map online, but I didn't see the department listed. I called the department and asked for directions. Then I drove there, because I didn't know any other way to get there. Then I still couldn't find the building, because Google Maps lies to me, oh, yes, it does.

When I finally got there, 20 minutes late, I laughed and said, "I'm sorry; it's only my third day. I'm still finding my way around."

"Ha!" the office manager said. "I've been here since 1994, and I'm STILL finding my way around."

Three of us! One more, and we have a polo team. We can call ourselves "The Lostaways," and ABC can't do nuthin' now.

I had another appointment right after that, in - you guessed it - yet a third building. Because I didn't know how to get there, I drove from one appointment to the next. And then I found that there was no parking there. I circled the lot, but all the spaces were reserved. The visitor's spaces specifically said, "NO DECAL VEHICLES." It never crossed my mind to simply take mine off the rear view mirror while I went inside.

Finally, I parked in the 15-Minute Pickup/Dropoff Only spot. I prayed that I wouldn't get a ticket. When I told the department manager, she just laughed: "Where else are you gonna park to come in here, if you're not an employee with a reserved spot?" Good point.

My car is going to be a pain here. But I have to do a lot of department and building hopping on an area roughly the size of six city blocks. Walking takes too long between appointments. A bike is too bulky. Skates are too dangerous (I never learned to brake without first slamming into the skating rink wall). Do you think all the cool kids would laugh at me if I got a razor scooter?

If you have any other ideas, let me know!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nightmare on Ruby Street

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - Emmie begins shrieking from our bedroom, where she landed after a nightmare last night.

"MOOOMMMM! MAMAAAAAA!!"

"Yes, sweetie?"

"I'm stuck! An' I'm skeered! An' I hab a bad dream!"

I untangle her from the blankets and carry her to snuggle on the couch. Girl has morning breath that might set my hair on fire, but I'll risk it.

"Tell me about your dream, Doodle."

"Wull, I dream dat Daddy eat a bad fruit dat mate him die an' den his neck turn into a stick!"

Whoa. That mental image freaks me out, too.

"I'm sorry you had that scary dream. But it wasn't real. Daddy's fine."

"Wull... Where is he?"

"He's out in his car, doing traffic reports."

"Can we call him?"

"Um..."

"PLEEEEAAASSSE!" she shrieks, desperately. Okie-dokie, then.

I call and get Scott on the phone, and he chastises me for calling during one of his reports. Em gets on the phone and wails her dilemma.

"Daddy! Daddy, I dream dat you eat a fruit dats bad an' den - an' DEN - your NECK turn into a STICK! An' den you became EEBIL!"

There is a brief pause while Scott decides whether to laugh or tell her to grow up. He chooses neither, and sympathizes appropriately. Em has a moment of further hysterics, and then takes a deep breath and makes a visible effort to calm herself.

"So I'm jus' checkin' on you," she finishes. "Can you come home?"

Em cannot be satisfied until she sees him, and runs to hug him. He turns to leave again, and she hugs me.

"I'm so happy dat Daddy's neck is not a stick an' he not eebil."

Aren't we all.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Ramen for Grown-ups

Augusta, GA - While I'm waiting on my new job to start, I am having fun determining new recipes from common, inexpensive items around the pantry. One if my new favorites combines a famously cheap meal alternative with the free eggs our chickens lay. It's my own skewed version of the many popular "Don" recipes in Japanese restaurants.

Ingredients:

one pkg Ramen noodles, any flavor
one egg
1/2 cup frozen mireaux or other chopped vegetable mixture
one tbsp chopped onion or scallions
1/2 cup frozen, pre-cooked shrimp



In a high-sided skillet or wok, bring the water and spice packet for the Ramen to a boil. Drop in noodles, onion, and frozen ingredients. Stir well. When the Ramen has softened just enough to break its brick shape, crack the egg over the top. After one minute, lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and continue to cook until egg is your desired consistency. Note: You can crack and scramble the egg before adding to the boiling water, but it doesn't look nearly as impressive. Serve with leftover take-out packets of soy sauce on the side - and if you're feeling fancy, lime wedges. Total cook time: 4-6 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs.

Cost:
- Eggs, free (we highly recommend keeping chickens)
- Ramen, 25 cents per pkg
- Mireaux, $1 per 16 oz bag at Kroger (> 25 cents per serving)
- Shrimp, $5 per bag (> $1 per serving)


Alternatives:
- Raman - exchange for soba noodles, Souper Meal, or rice/crystal noodles. Be aware that many of those do not come with a "flavor packet"; other alternative, any long-grain rice.
- Flavor packet - use chicken broth instead of water, and toss in a little ground ginger and chili powder
- Eggs - you can leave them out, or use egg substitute. You can also chop in a hard-boiled egg.
- Shrimp - lord, you can sub almost anything for this, so long as it's pre-cooked. Try chopped chicken, pork or beef; tilapia, salmon or crab; or scour your fridge for those not-quite-enough-for-a-meal leftovers, like pork chops, steak, fried chicken or other.
- Mireaux - any frozen veggies will do, but frozen edamame is one of my favorite substitutes for just about anything

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Poolside

I love how little girly-girls run - all tip-toes and fleetness in their steps, like a baby bird whose wings don't quite lift them off the ground.
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Back Seat Doodle

Augusta, Ga. - We're decked out in classic swimming attire, including EarthFare shopping bag (because I couldn't find the tote bag), old bath towels (because I couldn't find the beach towels), and matching candy necklaces (because - hello, candy).

We've just hit Bobby Jones Expressway to go to Nona and Opa's house and swim in the pool.

"Mama?" Em squints out the window. "Are you sure you goeend da right way?"

I start. She's five, y'all, and I am mildly insulted that she would question me on this 30-minute trip that we've made hundreds on times.

"Uh, yeah, Sacagewea, I am."

She gives me the death stare. She doesn't know what I just called her, but she knows it was sarcasm. I can't help it. Her ignorance is the only thing that keeps me from letting her go off to work each morning while I enroll myself in Pre-K.

"Mama..." She sighs. "Do you breenemered da trip to buy da curtains?"

Holy. Dog. Bones.

See, I was trying to get to IKEA in Atlanta. But I couldn't quite get there amongst the one-way streets and the suddenly-we're-on-I-85-what-happened? I circled within sight of the big blue building helplessly, while a carload of exhausted children waited with almost inhuman patience. It took forever for us to get to the dang store. They all got ice creams cones for their awesomeness.

"Um. Yeah. I remember."

"Dats wut I'm talkin' about."

"Okay, good point. But I'm sure about this direction."

I hear her heave a world-weary sigh: "If you say so, mama."


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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Simple Pleasures...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - Emmie is eating a cheese sandwich. It's her New Favorite Thing to Eat. This time, Scott put a bit too much mayo on the bread. I put just enough to add moisture. He loves the taste. It seems Emmie does, too...

"Dis stuff is SO good!" she says, chewing with her eyes closed in pleasure. "I lite dis white stuff. Daddy's da bes' cooker!"

Meanwhile, my roast chicken and lemon-garlic asparagus go ignored on the counter. LOL!


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Monday, May 17, 2010

Sh*t My Dad Does

Monday, May 17, 2010 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - My dad had a spell with low blood sugar last Thursday that put him in the hospital. If my sister hadn't realized something was wrong, or hadn't called 911, he wouldn't be here right now. He's a 69-year-old diabetic golf fanatic Braves fan and doting grandfather, and he has a lot of years to live. But he's having trouble managing his diabetes.

After being released from the hospital, he argued every instruction he was given (as expected), but generally is giving it his best shot. I bought him a new blood monitor and the equipment to go along with it, and put together a kit about the size of a paperback novel. It holds emergency glucose pills, Glucerna bars, his blood monitor, alcohol swabs, extra lancets, his blood tracking booklet, a pen, and the vast instruction book that goes along with his monitor. If you see him without it, slap some sense into him.

I lectured my parents on the difference between whole grains and whole wheat, on avoiding white foods like bread, potatoes, and pasta, and on adjusting food intake to his blood sugar readings. High blood sugar =  low carb. Low blood sugar = healthy carbs. They got it, although they needed their baby girl lecturing them like they need holes in their heads.

My sister is the one who gets to take care of them, because she lives in Conyers. I live two hours away, and that was an awfully long two hours when I drove it last Thursday. I thought something was amiss with the space-time continuum.

I got there 10 minutes before visiting hours ended, and dragged poor Emmie through the hospital at breakneck speed to see him before they kicked us out. We were there for an hour, and no one asked us to leave. They were very kind.

But two things struck me while I was there: Augusta's hospitals are awesome; and my parents are getting older. They'll need more help from me in the future.

How did that make me feel, you might ask? It made me feel great, actually! I'm looking forward to doing everything I can to help them the way they helped me.It will be an honor and a privilege to care for them, in whatever capacity they will allow.

Of course, my sister is the one frog-legging it through their house's crawl space in a haz-mat suit to check the moisture levels and put down tarp where necessary. And she's the one who took him to the doctor, where Daddy threw a magazine at her head when she dared question if he was cleared to play golf tomorrow. I wish I'd been there. To film it. And post it on Facebook.

This is gonna be fun!


Friday, May 14, 2010

An Ode to Hearing Aids

Friday, May 14, 2010 By

Atlanta, Ga. - I'm peering out my parents' front door at the work being done to their house by a local exterminator. Termites. Yech.

I see a guy tromping down the sidewalk.

"Hey, mom? There's a dude coming to the door."

"What?"

"There's a guy coming down the sidewalk."

"There's a - what did you say?"

"There's a dude comin' down the sidewalk."

"Drilling my sidewalk? What on earth -?!" She leaps off the sofa.

"No! Mom! There's a DUDE - a MAN - coming DOWN the SIDEwalk!"

"Oh. Well." She sits back down. "Wait - but what are they drilling?"

"No, they're not drilling anything, mom."

"Then what are you talking about?"

"I have no idea."

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Well, I Know ONE Thing and That's -

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 By



Augusta, GA. - Scott picks up a book I received. It's called, "100 Essential Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know," by John D. Barrow.

"That's not the same John Barrow, is it?" he looks at me askance.

"Can't be. He doesn't know a hundred things."

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Emerson Had a Little Lamb

Monday, May 10, 2010 By

Emmie is singing in the bathroom:

"Emerson had a little lamb
Little lamb
Little lamb
Emerson had a little lamb
An' den she bringed it home
Bringed it home
Bringed it home
Emerson had a little lamb
An' den she bringed it hooooommmmmmeeee!"

Psh! She wishes.

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day FAIL

Sunday, May 09, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - I'm reading the news when Em comes pounding into the office.

"Mama? Can I play wif you iPod?"

"No, ma'am," I said, sternly.

"Why not?"

Hmm... uh... crap. I have no idea.

"Actually, I don't remember, Emmie. Why did I take it away from you?"

"I don't know."

"Really? Cause there must have been a reason."

"Uh... oh! Cause I not clean up my room."

"Have you cleaned up your room?"

"Wull... no."

"Then you can't play with the iPod."

"Aw, man!"

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 08, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - Emmie and I are watching TV, when Scott walks in.

"Tomorrow is Mudder's Day," Emmie reports, brightly.

"Yes, it is," Scott nods.

"An' I don' knowd what Daddy goeend ta gib you," she says.

Scott freezes: "NO. You DON'T."

"I thought we were just going to dinner," I ask, with surprise. Please don't let him give me another penis lamp.

"We are."

I look at Emmie, who is trying to be invisible.

"Emmieee," I coo. "Did Daddy get Mommy a present?"

She grins, uncertainly, and shrugs her shoulders: "I dunno."

"That's right," Scott says.

"Doodlebug, if I gave you five dollars, would you tell me?"

"Yeth!" She answers, definitively.

"Hey!" Scott starts, while I crack up laughing.

"If Daddy gave you TEN dollars," would you keep the secret?" I ask her.

"Uh-huh!" She says, happily. Ethics for sale.

Scott pulls out his wallet and hands her a $20. Crap, where did he get a $20? I don't have anything but the spare change in the console of my car.

"There," he commands. "Put this in your money box, and keep your mouth shut."

She grabs the bill and races out of the room, while I chuckle and Scott throws me a (lovingly) obscene gesture.

Then she trots back in, with a satisfied smirk: "Daddy buyed you a necklath wif a flower on it."

HAR! Chili hits the floor as I burst into belly laughs. Scott stands incredulous. Emmie hangs onto me as I cackle.

"You bring me that money back!" Scott orders in disbelief.

She runs to return it while I slowly reach a point where I can breathe again.

"Baby, you were supposed to keep the secret," I laugh.

"But I wanted to tell you."

"But Daddy paid you not to tell."

She shrugs: "Wull, I gibbed it back."

"Whatever. I'm going to bed," Scott grumps, and shuts the bedroom door.

"But, Mama? I didn't tell you da shape or da colors," Emmie protests. In her mind, the description was vague enough because it didn't paint a mental picture.

Shoot. I can't resist: "What color is it?"

"I not telleend you."

"Okay."

We snuggle for a moment as I, still grinning and chuckling, stroke her hair. She lifts her head and smirks at me: "But I know where it ith."

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Manners: Sometimes She Has Them

Thursday, May 06, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - We're at P.F. Chang's and Emmie is using her wiles to get what she wants.

"Danks for dat dessert," she tells the server. "An' I like your cooking berry mush."


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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga - We're careening down Riverwatch Parkway with the rest of the afternoon commuters.

"Where are we going?" Emmie asks.

"To get some dinner."

"Where are we going?"

"... To get some dinner."

"Where are we going?"

"Emmie, I just TOLD you. We're going-"

"NO! I just sing a DORA song!"

Oh.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

It IS Easy... To Smell Her

Monday, May 03, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - Emerson has gotten ready for bed, dressing in a pull-up and her favorite shirt.

"Emmie, I thought you wanted to wear that Yo Gabba Gabba shirt to school tomorrow."

"I - well, I DO. But I'm goeend thleep in it, too," she lisps through her one-missing and one-loose toothed mouth.

"Sweetie, you can't wear it to sleep and -"

"Yeth! Lithen! I can wear it to thleep in, and DEN, when I wake up, I just leeb it on! Theee? Ith EATHY, Mama! An' den I can thleep in it AGAIN, an' den wear it to thchool AGAIN!"

And then I'll be able to locate her with my eyes closed. By "thmell" alone.

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Let That Be a Lesson...

Augusta, Ga. - Emerson and her cousin, Jackson, are playing in the back yard at my parents' house.

When I pop out to check on them, I see they are digging worms out of the gardening soil... and chopping them up.

"Hey!" I exclaim, louder than I intended. They both jump. Oops.

"Sorry. What are you two doing?"

"We choppeend da worms! Loot!" Emmie points to the three small, independently squirming pieces of what used to be one respectably-sized nightcrawler. This is not cool.

"Are you planning on eating those worms?" I ask. They look at each other in confusion and shake their heads.

"Okay. I know that they're gross, but these worms are living animals. If we don't plan on eating them, we don't kill them."

Jackson pipes up, worriedly: "Are you gonna make us eat 'em?"

"No," I grin. "You didn't know this rule. But now you do, right? Now please put the worms back in the dirt and find something else to do."

"Okay!" They agree, enthusiastically, and I leave them to it.

But as I close the sliding glass door, I hear Jackson talking to Emmie: "Don't tell her about the roly pollies."


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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Critical Thinking: FAIL

Sunday, May 02, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - I'm driving down Gordon Highway, gossiping on the phone with a girlfriend. Just as I'm about to merge lanes, a big white F-150 muscles in and cuts me off.

"Hey! Get off your cell phone, you big jerk!" I exclaim.

Amber bursts into laughter: "Umm... Aren't YOU on YOUR cell phone?"

"Yeah, but I'm not driving like it," I grouse.

"Whatever,"she guffaws. "That was the funniest thing you've ever said!"

Oh, shut your pie hole.

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Subtlety: Not Her Strong Suit

Augusta, Ga. - We're feeding the fish at the grist mill in Stone Mountain Park, when Emmie points to a build-up of silt at the point where the stream and lake meet.

"Loot, Mama! Ders a ISLAND!"

"Oooh, maybe it's a TREASURE island," I say.

"Nooo," she shakes her head. "Ders no X der."

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