Monday, June 29, 2009

Halloween in June?

Yesterday, Pickle and Gooser emerged from the the basement dressed like this:
Full Batman attire and a strange stripped-down butterfly! Both ready for action with trick-or-treating bags. Since we were about to go out, I found the rest of her butterfly costume and she's been wearing it non-stop ever since.

Then Gooser was experimenting with various other remnants of Halloween--and he ended up up with a combination Alien-Zombie-Freddy Kruger. I should have taken a pic of the whole get-up, but I took these artsy ones of him looking out the window:
Pickle felt left out and called out to me to take her pic through the window too!
And finally--isn't it sad about Billy Mays dying?? We met him in March when we were in L.A. and he was so nice. He took time out to talk with and take pics with the boys.
This sure hasn't been a good week for celebrities--they're dropping like flies! Poor Billy Mays...


Friday, June 26, 2009

Wishing You...

...a double-fisted bacon kind of weekend!
And in honor of poor Michael Jackson, I give you one of my all-time favorite songs. He is pitch-perfect and it always blows me away. This is how I like to remember him best--before the baby-dangling and the elephant man bones and the monkeyshines and the freaky surgeries--as a sweet little boy with a beautiful voice. The part right around 2:06 gives me chills.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Kids Are Weird...

A few days ago, my kids started their own "business." They've been hard at work at their "office" in the basement thinking up money-making schemes--pet sitting, doing odd jobs around the house, etc.

Apparently the plan is for them to save up money so they can buy a fish tank for the new house. They saw these cool neon fish at the pet store and that's what they want--so they have called their business "NeoFund."

Part of their planning has been assigning job titles to each other--Andy and Teddy are the CEOs (the fish tank is to go in their room), Patrick is the salesman, Pickle is the Vice President (??) and poor Gooser's title is "Janitor."

To add insult to injury, not only is Gooser the janitor in their business scenario--they have given him a "uniform" that he is required to wear every day.

Note the name tag: "Hello I'm Gooser. JANITOR."

I don't know if you can tell in the pictures, but his uniform looks like the remains of what once was a George Washington costume from a school assignment. It's a velvet jacket and pants and a ruffly white blouse--a la Jerry Seinfeld's "puffy shirt."

He has diligently been wearing it every day with out complaining--and, strangely, it actually really looks good on him! He might start a new trend?

So--my kids are really weird--but you have to give them points for creativity!


Monday, June 22, 2009


Well, even though Pickle is a self-proclaimed princess and movie star, it was only a matter of time that the influence of four big brothers would kick in:Now she has added football player to her resume!
Here she is practicing some of her running maneuvers:
Note how she also is wearing her Crocs over her footsie pajamas. She has some kind of Croc obsession and also insists on wearing them to bed at night (??). I'm choosing my battles, so I have let that strange habit slide--though it can't be comfortable!

The upside of the football getup around the house is that she can crash into things (like the dining room table, which she did!) and just keep running unfazed!


Friday, June 19, 2009


Well, I'm happy to announce that we finally FINALLY have a signed contract with Mr. Howell!

As I told you the other day, this deal has been like a roller coaster and today was no different. We got word this morning that the selling broker would be meeting with Mr. Howell and hopefully getting the contract signed. I wasn't holding my breath as I've been disappointed so many times--but I drove past the house as I was picking the kids up from camp and saw that her car was there--so I was hopeful.

Then a friend and I met up with the kids for lunch after camp and my realtor showed up (don't know how he tracked me down!) at the restaurant waving the contract.

But after a quick look through it, we soon realized it hadn't actually been signed, only initialed.

So he had to run off and find the listing broker, then go back to the house and really get it signed!
I said to him that based on the way this whole deal has gone down, it's really no surprise!

But anyway, it is signed and we are very excited! We do, however, still need to deal with our current house (we dropped the contingency) and our current plan is to rent it for awhile and sell it later when (hopefully) the market has rebounded. So renting vibes are appreciated now!

Although we will very busy in the next couple of months preparing for the move and planning for some cosmetic things we will have to do to the new house--I feel a huge sense of relief!



Thursday, June 18, 2009


I LOVE thrift stores and I had the opportunity to do some fun thrifting the other day when Patrick was invited to a 70s-style disco party.

I had been to a funky thrift store a few weeks prior and noticed that they had these really 70s ruffled tuxedo shirts in pastel colors, and I thought they might work for Patrick's disco outfit. So I took the whole gang to check out the store--turns out, they all love thrift stores too! It helped (particularly in Pickle's case!) that the store also had an elaborate candy display. Pickle was happy in her stroller with a bag of Sugar Babies while the rest of us perused the goodies.

Andy found some shirts that were right up his alley--an authentic mailman's shirt!

And a Holsum bread delivery guy's shirt:
Here he is posing with bread for extra authenticity:
The ruffly shirts were amazing and the colors were all so great it was hard to choose--but we went with lavender. Patrick has really captured that bleary-eyed disco haze in this pic, don't you think?
And here I forced him to strike a disco pose:
Finally, here he is fully discoized and ready to party!

P.S. I had a nice long conversation on the phone today with my new best friend, Mr. Howell! He was inviting us to a lecture about the architect of his house over the weekend. Good sign? I hope so!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I just figured something out--when I'm stressed-out I can't write my blog! Just like when I'm stressed-out I can't eat...I guess I have to be in a good mood to do both!

As usual, I've been upset over this crazy real estate transaction.

Saturday was a low point--I "lost it" and literally cried all day. There was a new setback with the deal that was not only frustrating but extremely unfair and I started panicking that after putting our lives on hold for over a year to get this done, we were going to lose out to a ridiculous situation and I had no idea what we were going to do next. It was a miserable day and I ruined it for everyone.

Then Sunday was stressful all day long until very late in the day when things were really looking up and we were all excited.

Then Monday was awful and stressful when things took a bad turn around lunch time and things looked bleak, but then looked a little more hopeful toward the end of the day.

Now, as I write this on Tuesday night (and I just watched the season finale of Real Housewives of New Jersey--OMG!!!) we are in limbo again.

This real estate transaction has been like riding a roller coaster in a nightmare! I think we could have made a crazy reality show on the drama surrounding it! Or maybe a movie?

Dona and I decided that if our saga were to be a movie, this would be the cast:

Me--Angelina Jolie (it's my movie--I can do what I want!)
Don--George Clooney
Our realtor--Robin Williams
The listing broker--Bette Midler
"Mr. Howell" the seller--We would have to resurrect Jim Backus to do his role justice

Anyway--now you know that if I've gone "underground" it's because I'm worrying and not eating and too depressed to write. And there's been a lot to write about this week too! I'll try to elaborate when I feel better, but in short:

--One of our ferrets died (while she was staying with friends--part of the real estate/house showing ordeal).

--She succumbed to an illness with the menacing name "Green Slime Disease."

--We had a ferret funeral.

--We caught a raccoon.

--But not the one we wanted to catch.

--We discovered "Happy Hour" at my favorite sushi place.

--Pickle has done and said lots of cute new things.

--Example: This morning she said to me "Mommy, you're my best friend in the world and you are my superhero." CUTE!!

--I started a new drawing class.

Sorry I've been such a slacker. I need to get this deal done STAT!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pretty in Peony

Pickle wanted me to show you her pretty new dress. It arrived in the mail today and she couldn't wait to put it on. As soon as she was wearing it, she struck a pose and asked "Do you like my new look?" Then we went outside for a photo shoot.

Here are a few of her amongst the peonies:
And making a wish on a dandelion:
I love her expression in this one:
So let us know if you like her "new look"!! LOL!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cafe de Olla

Last week poor Andy had ONE day one summer vacation, before his awful and boring chemistry summer school started, so we went out to a nice lunch at THE best Mexican restaurant ever (hint: the chef is going to be on Top Chef Master that starts tonight!).

I have been loving this restaurant for years--and although the food is fantastic--the thing I look forward to the most is the Cafe de Olla. It's a Mexican-style coffee that is sweet with a touch of orange and a hint of cinnamon. It is fantastic! I had so many cups, I don't think I think I slept for a week!

Here's a pic, but my camera was being wonky...
See the orange peel in there? It's SO good!

Anyway, I found a recipe on the Internets--I have made it before, but not for awhile--but I will be making a big batch of it soon. I think the iced version would be so good in the summer!

Mexican Coffee

2 cups of water
The zest of 1 orange
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 cup pilloncillo* (or substitute 1 cup of dark brown sugar)
1 big pot of strong coffee

*Pilloncillo is a minimally processed Mexican raw sugar, sold dark brown in cones. It has a unique and very sweet taste, and is worth searching out. It can be easily found in most any Mexican grocery. Dark brown sugar is a reasonable substitute.

To prepare cafe de olla...
Before dinner, add the water, pilloncillo, orange zest and cinnamon to a saucepan and simmer until combined and reduced to about 1 third of its original volume. It's best to simmer slowly, as the syrupy liquid can easily boil over if left unattended even for a minute over higher heat (the aroma that will percolate through the kitchen is pleasant for a leisurely simmer down in any case). Reserve the syrup for later mixing.

After dinner, prepare a pot of coffee as normal. Pour the coffee into mugs and sweeten with the spiced syrup to taste. Serve hot, without cream or sugar.

That's it. Easy-peasy, and very tasty – and a nice change of pace from the everyday cup of Joe.
Any extra syrup can be stored for ages in the fridge. Remove the cinnamon stick (or the eventual taste of cinnamon can get very strong).

This can also be made well in advance, pre mixed with coffee and left to chill in the fridge for a Mexican iced coffee. Serve in tall glass well filled with ice.

Give it a try!

Here are a few more pics from the restaurant:

Pickle's favorite new face--"pig face":
Andy enjoying some crazy-delicious crunchy pork tacos: And one more of The Pickle--still with the pig face--but eating her Mexico City-style quesadillas:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Day In The Life...

If this day is any indication of how summer is going to be--I'll be half dead before it's over!

Let's break it down:

6:30 - 7:30 a.m.--Get out of bed and help Andy get ready for his first day of summer chemistry (he has to take it over the summer because his schedule next year is too full.)

--Get Gooser and Pickle dressed and ready.

--Wake up Patrick and Teddy for last day of school.


7:30- 8:15--Head over with Andy to the high school to purchase chemistry book.

--Wait in line at bookstore behind Dude #1 with hair that is longer and pinker than mine, and his friend, Dude #2 with fingernails WAY longer than mine. Is this a new guy fashion thing?

8:15 - 9:10--Race home at the last minute to get Teddy, Patrick and Gooser to school.

--Get teacher gifts handed out.

--Come home, quickly check email.

9:15--Back to school to pick everybody up (the last day was an hour!?!)

9:30 - 10:00--Review report cards, make a couple of phone calls, have coffee.

10:00 - 11:00--Workout (hard).

11:00-11:45--Run around trying to get house ready for appraiser.

--Take Gooser to playdate

11:45--Appraiser shows up 15 minutes early. Call realtor and tell him to get here ASAP to help with appraiser.

11:45-12:15 Deal with appraiser and talk to realtor.

--Find out about football camp that starts tomorrow--kids want to attend. Confusion ensues about football equipment. Do we have the right gear??

12:15 - 1:10--Pick up Gooser from playdate.

--Take all the kids to grocery store.

1:20--Come home to get Andy who is just back from chemistry. Realize that McDonald's is the only place we'll have time to go for lunch.

1:30 - 1:45 Crazy-fast lunch at McDonald's.

--Salad and water.

1:50--Race back home to grab Gooser's bathing suit so we can make it in time for swimming lesson.

1:55--Run into neighbor who informs me that three kids in Teddy's class have SWINE FLU!

2:00--3:00--Gooser's swimming lesson.

--We wait in hot balcony area while Pickle climbs dangerous concrete bleachers.

--Stressed out and hot.

--Worried about Swine Flu.

3:00-4:00--Inventory football gear for tomorrow's camp. We need cleats!!

--Finally put away groceries.

--Clean lizard cage.

5:00 - 6:00--Patrick's cello lesson.

--Makeshift dinner of chicken wings and onion rolls.

--Eat standing up.

--Make brownies.

--Husband arrives home.

6:00 - 6:30--Husband and big boys go for a run.

--Put little ones to bed.

--Realtor calls with more on the crazy story of Mr. Howell and our out-of-control real estate deal.

--Feel depressed.

6:30 - 6:45--Men back from run.

--Try to relay realtor's story to husband.

--Call friend who I think has cleats--she does! And will bring them over later.

6:45 - 10:00 p.m.--Oil painting class. Very hot in room.

--Insane classmate very irritable and edgy tonight. I'm scared!

--Work on copying Van Gogh painting assignment.

--Mosquitos invading room and sticking to oil paint.

10:15--Get home and before I even put my purse down, am asked "Where are the rubber bands???" with much urgency.

--Find rubber bands.

--Have a brownie.

10:55--Finish writing blog.

--Am tired.

--Not finished with blog though.

--Must go feed rabbit.

--OK, now I'm finished.

--Am punchy.

--Now it's 11:07.

--Don't know why it took so long to write that part about the rabbit.

--Was just standing there staring into space.

--OK, now I'm really finished!

--But I'm wondering if I'll have time to take a shower tomorrow. No time for that today...

Monday, June 8, 2009


I'm so sorry I fell off the face of the Earth!! I have never gone so long between blogs--even through vacations and rampant stomach flu--and I don't even have a good excuse. I guess have been overwhelmed lately with our ridiculous real estate transaction that has been going on for ONE YEAR!!

It seemed this past week we were getting much closer to a deal. Don went off to have some strategic meetings with Mr. Howell and we had lots of meeting with our realtor--all of which left me mentally exhausted and unable to come up with a reasonable blog.

See, Mr. Howell--after ONE YEAR of negotiating with us--which included offers, counter-offers, contracts, lawyers, realtors, appraisers, contingencies, our house for sale, our house for rent, endless hours of cleaning, open houses, baking thousands of cookies for that home-style aroma, storage, and lots of crying and screaming--has decided (when we were this/close to a deal mind you) that he wants to look into selling his house to a charity so he can get some kind of tax deduction!?!

Does that make sense to anyone? Can you get a tax deduction if you sell, not donate, your property to a charity? It makes NO sense to me. But, in any case, we are on pins and needles waiting for him to make a decision. It is very stressful. Adding to the stress is the fact that our house is still on the market (even though we don't technically have a deal now) and I still have to constantly keep it clean--not easy with five kids and ten thousand animals--and will soon be even harder as today is the last day of school.

So...just a little stressed out here!

Actually, it feels good to vent--though I'm sure it doesn't make for a very interesting blog read...sorry!

I'll leave you with a pic of Undercover Pickle and the promise of being a better blogger!
Also, could everyone please cross their fingers that Mr. Howell takes our offer!?! Thanks!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Grillin' and Chillin'

What a beautiful weekend! Sunny, but not too hot--perfect for our first grill-fest of the season.
Also perfect for lots of pic-taking. Luckily, Pickle was in a cooperative mood.

She looks all grown up carrying her purse in this one!

Close up:
Don wanted to see what that one would look like in black and white:

Here she is posing:
Pickle on the tire swing:
Gooser wanted to pose for some freaky pics...
And some non-freakies too:
Doll head!!
A lot of flowers in my yard are on the verge of blooming--I tried to capture some of those:

I love this one--just about to burst open!
Then we had a great cook-out. We made Bobby Flay's Honey-Chipotle chicken wings. They were amazing!
Don couldn't stop gorging on them and now he's doubled over from pain of over-eating.

We also made a delicious guacamole with grilled corn in it, fresh fruit, corn on the cob and bratwurst.

Gooser with corn:
Here's the gang outside:

Oh--and we made s'mores!
Chocolate-face Gooser:
Finger lickin'good!