Jakers! I did it!!

One of the things I miss most about life in Northern California is Jakes Pizza. Oh, I know, with all the beauty and wonder that is the California coast, how is it I miss food most– but if you wonder that, then you’ve never had a Jakes pie.

It’s a small group of restaurants on the peninsula, and they go by Jakes, The Oasis, The Boardwalk, The Garrett, and Jakes II. That’s it. There is nowhere else you can get such gastronomical glory- these places are it- and even though they have different names, they are all owned by the same family, and have essentially the same menu.

When I met my husband, I was 16, and Jakes was my first job. I got the job because my brother’s Little League team was sponsored there, and after the games that’s where we gathered… so did every other Little League team, regardless of sponsorship. You can’t get a table in Jakes on a Saturday during baseball season.

Anyway, since we left California almost 5 years ago, we’ve lamented the lack of good pizza, and I have taken it upon myself to try and make a decent pie at home. Even though there have been some abysmal failures, having a pizza-tasting streak is still a mighty good thing, and no one has complained. But last night, I finally did it. I hit it- and oh, mothership, was it glorious!

Even though I only worked there for a while, I remember pretty much everything about making the pies- I mean how hard can it be, right? The toppings were’nt so hard- but the dough and sauce has been the trickiest. Getting the spices and consistency right took a while, and the getting the right mix of chewiness and crispiness with the crust was key.

So last night, I put together all the alchemy I’ve amassed in my five years of trial and error, and blew the doors off the oven. Glory of glories, it was (almost) perfect! The house smelled divine, the texture was good, the taste was soooooo close. If you didn’t know better, you could close your eyes and be there.

The problem is, we know better.

So, tonight, I’m giving it another shot. I think I know what I did not-quite-perfectly. The dough didn’t sit in the fridge all night- and batch #2 has, and I suspect that may be the key. I’ll let you know! Happy, happy, joy, joy, pizza, pizza, pizza!

(If you want the recipe, and you beg, I might share it!)

Tip O’ the Week

Maybe your kids are the best eaters out there. Mine, however, are not. Most definately not. Well, if the food group is “sugar”, “cake”, “candy” or “popsicle” they’re pretty darn good eaters, but if it’s found somewhere on the Id of the food pyramid, forget about it.

Anyway, I found a sure-fire way to get them to eat more fruit- well, apples at least, and that’s a pretty good start since we live in Washington. My secret? This.

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A New England apple peeler deely-bob. It suction cups to the kitchen counter, you pop the apple on, twirl the handle, and it cores, peels and slices your apple into one, long, continuous apple Slinky. Yes, for reals, and the boys LOVE it- they fight over how many apples they can have each day. How cool is that? Oh, and there are no sharp blades or pieces the boys can cut themselves on, or each other- if I’m in the kitchen, that’s enough supervision for this one… Good, good stuff, mamas.

Another Reason to Get a Dyson

One of the best unforeseen benefits of the Dyson has been my Dear Husband’s love of power tools. Since the Dyson is new, super sucky and way cool, it’s his new best friend.

He vacuums probably twice a day now!

This morning, he let me sleep in ’till after 9 (!) and when I got up, he was vacuuming the kitchen and dining room, had moved the furniture, and had torn Abby’s room apart to get every possible speck. The crib was moved, the dresser, changing table and play kitchen- he had the boys fishing toys out that had been dropped down the heater register and the laundry had all been taken downstairs. And he was vacuuming every crevice, corner and cobweb. With a smile.

Seriously mamas. Worth every penny…

I Hate Snow

File it under “Great Ideas!” and call it a day. When we started out, the day was clear and the sun was shining, but by the time we got home last night, we had looked mortality in the face, and I had definitely flinched.

DH has been out of town on business, and I had cabin fever, so I decide all three Monkeys need some fun. You’d think I would know better by now. You’d think.

First I thought the mall might be a good spot to burn some energy. It’s been wicked cold here, and playing outside is risking a toe or three- so off we go. Coincidentally, I also thought I might get an errand or two done at the same time. Are you laughing yet? At the mall: Macy’s is closed for inventory. Beanie drops his chocolate shake 3 seconds post purchase. The joint I bought it will not give him another, and doesn’t offer me anything to clean the giant chocolate puddle. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Boys have to pee. Food court is on floor two; public restrooms are on floors one and three- what man who thought that was a good idea??

Nordstrom is kind enough to let us use their potty. Jeff locks himself in a stall, then poops and can’t figure out how to open the door without making a giant gross mess. While cleaning said mess, Beanie disappears. Panic wells in my breast as I check each stall in the immaculate Nordy potties, calling his name. By the way, calling “Beaner!” in a public place might be ill-advised, but did not readily occur to me, as I had lost a child. Leaving Jeff with Abby in her stroller, I run out of the potty, do not see him anywhere, and begin to call. Loudly. Panic begins.

He was in the sequin designer cocktail dresses. Time to go.

Ah, but as we leave the mall, it has started to snow! There was no snow, no forecast of snow- we have no snow gear with us! Make haste, and head off for a planned play date with friends. What a fiasco, by the way. We might have had even more fun if we had met in the Lladro department of Macys, perhaps after giving the kids all a Coke?

When time arrived to pick DH up at the airport, it looked like a blizzard. Serious whiteout- again, no one had snowclothes, and you couldn’t even see the roads. It’s dumping snow. Dumping. My kids are freezing and crying, and I’m just trying to get everyone in the dang car- let alone their car-seats. Everyone in, still crying, now I have to find the snow scraper and broom thing- and scrape all the windows. Yes, there was already inches of snow, and even a layer of crunchy ice, and it’s still dumping.

Then I dropped my keys…

Did you know keys totally vanish when you drop them in 4-5″ of snow? Yes, they do. So I’m kneeling down, no gloves, no heavy coat, feeling around for my keys as snow covers my back, neck and head. “This is how the pioneers died…” is playing on a loop in my noggin. Feel the keys with my now numb fingers, and get in car.

Ok, so I wasn’t really in danger of dying in the parking lot of the Exchange.

I had to sit there for a minute just to figure out who I was again before I headed out to the airport. Thank goodness for my Alaskan friend Mo– I would never have made it outa there…. I just followed her. But even she said that was a lot of snow.

So it’s not just me.

You can read about this morning at Mormon Mommy Wars.  Dandelion’s don’t like snow. I hate snow.

Actual Conversations

Beanie, snuggling with me on the couch: “Mama, I want to be a little Hermaid like Ariel. I have orange hair already, but it needs to be longer, Mama.”

Me: “Hmmm. Wellll…. you can learn to be a super swimmer this summer, and that’s kind of like Ariel.”

Beanie, lifting my shirt: “But Mama, I need some of these to be a Hermaid…” patting my chest now.

Me: “Uhghph- what?” Gently moving his hand and looking quizically at his sweet face.

Beanie: “But they need to be purple, Mama. Purple thoses are what Hermaids have.”

*sigh*

Later, in the kitchen, Jeff comes in looking crushed and sad.

Me: ” What’ s up, babe?”

Jeff, in all seriousness, eye welling with tears: “It just crushes my tender little heart when Beanie is mean to me…”

So my youngerst son who covets purple bikinis and growing a tail is crushing the heart of my water buffalo of a five-year old with his cruel words…

All I wanted to do was make dinner…. and Abby headed off down the hall again.

The Determinator

Abby is mobile- no speck of dust, nor mote of fluff, nor under-table leavin’ is safe from her tiny, glommy, moving hands. It’s so cute too, because she is sooooo slow, but soooo steady. Lift hand. Place hand. Move knee. Place knee. Repeat. I love watching her key in a a speck and make her brand of  haste- only to be stymied by me or a brother, who drags her back to start all over again. And she just keeps going.

I could learn something from the girl.

I seem to derail all to easily these days… don’t we all as adults? The tenacity of a baby learning something is truly inspirational- they don’t give up- they keep coming, keep trying, keep falling, getting plucked away, rolling when they want to sit, and they keep going. If we had half the determination and will our children do, the world would be our pearl.

Reasons Why

My kids are giggling and laughing from the other room, and I find myself grateful for the tiny tender mercies today. Abby is sleeping peacefully, nestled in her crib with soft, warm blankets and a full tummy, my husband is at the office, earning a livable wage for honest work, we have good medical insurance and quality doctors and medical centers close by, our home is strong and well-built and warm.

It’s time to think of some things I’m grateful for, things I love, and things that make me really, really happy… Add yours

An old wooden swing hanging from an oak treee

Radio Flyer wagons

Black and white photographs of loved ones

Pianos with keys that don’t work

The way children forgive so completely and immediately

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Yosemite

Sharpie permanent markers

Terra Cotta pots with geraniums in them

Meeting grandma and grandpa at the airport

Foggy mornings

Spicy Indian food with raita to cool your mouth

The sound of crickets as twilight settles in

Sundried clothes

Stinging cheeks from the wind at the beach

Walking on warm, round river rocks

The smell of antique wooden furniture

Lemons

The first time your baby calls you Mama

Valentines from your child

Cowlicks

Sharp quilting needles and a good English thimble

Post-it notes

Mexican food

The smell of Jasmine on a summer night

Good tweezers

Magnets

Getting all the laundry done and put away

Towels right out of the dryer

Cotton diapers on chubby baby bottoms

Soft, old well used paintbrushes in a crock on a windowsill

Picking tomatoes in my dad’s garden before the day gets too hot

Honey

The gleam and feel of hardwood floors

Georgia O’Keefs handwriting

Playing “jacks”

The many talents of my mother

Kindergarten teachers that play guitar and sing

Old, faded, loved worn quilts

Summer thunder storms and the awe they inspire

The crack of a wooden bat on a baseball

Old push-key manual typewriters

The smell of rosemarry and thyme

Cedar

Advice from my dad on how to do something properly

LL Bean laceup mud boots

Clogs with thick socks

Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge

Audrey Hepburn

Feeling your baby move inside your body

Chatting with a neighbor in the middle of the street

Fireflies in Iowa summer

Disneyland

Hope chests

Fresh, taut, clean sheets on the bed at night

Going barefoot

Phone calls from your siblings

Driving a convertible though Napa

Homemade sourdough bread

Paste and tempera paint

A friend stopping by unannounced

The smell of a barbecue floating on the breeze

Discovering a new book I love

Bing cherries from my grandma’s freezer

Pillow cases with hand crocheted edges

Kindergarten artwork of our family

Understanding why Jackson Pollock needed to throw paint

The sound chickens make when they are content

The patina scriptures get when they are lovingly used

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This precious face…

I could go on and on and on….

Worshiping the Giraffe

Aaaaand it’s done. You know, the tiny voice in the back of my head- the one that pleaded with me not to go? Yeah, that one. I shoulda listened. Someday maybe I’ll learn.

When I got to Jeff’s school, he was covered in mud- even in his underpants. Thankfully, I was prepared, and changed my muddy mess of a boy, including skivvies, shirt, jeans, jacket and socks. I did this while Abby crawled/lunged/rolled around the kindergarten classroom and Beanie sat in for Jeff during circle time. He even raised his hand, cute boy. Thankfully, the teacher is good natured.

Mud-clothes bagged, Abby tucked under my arm, diaper bag flung over my shoulder, Jeffrey’s backpack and car keys in the other hand, we trekked out to the car in the pouring rain. Beanie was lagging behind, and Abby was already buckled in when he got to the door. Unfortunately, in the slippery slippiness caused by the rain, Beanie missed the step, and bounced down into a pothole the side and shape of Lake Michigan.

Poor baby burst out screaming, it’s pouring on me and Abby, into the car, on my crying boy, and now he is not only scraped up, but soaked to the bone. Jeff was already buckled in an raring to go, since I had just told them we were headed to the Giraffe, oblivious to what was happening behind him. That’s my number One son for you.

Thankfully, life has taught this mama a few lessons along the way- and I had a complete change of clothes for Beanie (including socks and Spiderman underwear!) in the emergency bag in the back of the Burb. Still standing in the pouring rain, I change my shivering boy from the back barn-doors, and comfort his pride with some quick hugs and kisses. I get him buckled in his seat, and realize I am now soaked, too. I’m not that prepared. There was nothing for me in the back- but there will be from now on!

I seriously thought of scrapping the whole thing.

Leaning my head against the cold, wet window, I say a quick prayer to get me through this day. Wishing I hadn’t opened my big mouth moments before, I knew I couldn’t cancel now, so off we went, hot little gift card in hot little hands.

It wasn’t as horrible as it could have been, I’ll just say that. The fact that they had a finite budget regulated what they could choose, and it was a good lesson in economics. Yes, you can get that, but if you do, you must put the other thing back…  That sort of thing.

When the boys were satisfied, we headed off toward little girl-land to find something for Abby, and Beanie decided to pitch a fit. When I tossed his little butt in the cart, he started to holler, and I told him we would leave now with no toys if her didn’t stop immediately.

“Mama!!!!” and his voice dropped lower “I’ll be REVERENT!”

Laughter burst out… Poor kid. *sigh* Impromptu discussion about what “reverent” actually means, and why Toys R Us does not require reverence. And with that we made our exit.

Could have been worse. It has been, actually.

Morning in My Life

cutie_pie.jpgThis is my favorite picture of Beanie. Can’t you just picture him with a pound of butter, all shiny faced and peeking out from under the bed? He’s a little bit older now, but doesn’t really look any different. Well, ok, he has a scar over his right eyebrow from the bunk-bed catastrophe, but it adds character.

Right now, I eavesdropping on the baby monitor as he entertains Abby. I love listening to them talk to each other- she yelps with delight, and he makes goofy noises and shakes her crib. He tells her she is too little for Playmobil, then shows her how spitting is naughty. She yelps with delight some more.

Today was the first day of school back from the  holiday break. Nothing pains me more than having to wake sleeping children. Such a profound waste, it is. I have promised them a trip to Toys R Us to spend their hot little gift cards when we pick up Jeffrey from kindergarten in an hour, so with any luck it will go better than my last trip to the Giraffe. Jeff’s school just called to tell me he slipped on the playground, is covered in mud, and needs a change of clothes. *sigh* almost made it thought the morning…

So, I am going to take a kindergartner covered in mud, the above little scamp, and a baby who hasn’t had her nap yet today, to Toys R Us. There is still time to stop me. Someone please stop me… It ought to make a hilarious entry later. Abby is starting to squeal- I must be off to make sure he isn’t throwing toys at her, or pulling her toes, or some other idea that seems good to his three-year old noodle…