Monthly Archives: June 2009

All aboard the diet train wreck

001

So Kellie came over this morning to my house with her beautiful children in tow and after I pried her off my new couch where she was vamping in all her Jackie O gloriousness, we loaded up our respective broods in the vans for a morning of fun and frivolity at Krispy Kreme singing “Turn on your Hot Light” the whole way there.

Apologies to Neil Diamond.

I had not fed myself or my children breakfast yet and we were nigh upon 10:00 so let’s just say we were a little crazed by lack of nourishment by the time we arrived.

At least, that’s the excuse I offered Kellie for ordering two dozen doughnuts for my family alone.

To which she politely asked, “So, do you freeze the extras?”

Snort.

Giggle.

She’s obviously new around here.

There’s never “extra” and “doughnut” in the same sentence at our house.

“Extra” and “broccoli” maybe, but never “Krispy Kreme”.

004

It was a little warm eating hot glazed fried dough balls outside in the 90 degree heat, but we thought it might be impolite to mow down the vanload of senior citizens from one of the local nursing homes to get the coveted tables by the conveyor line, so we took the picnic tables outside until they cleared out.

008

Tommy was distraught at seeing a large garbage can at the end of the conveyor line where the rejects were summarily deposited.  He kept muttering “What a waste of a perfectly good doughnut.”  I tended to agree.

013

010

JJ kept muttering “When are we going to the museum?”

I swear he’s adopted.

The child ate only one doughnut. 

ONE!

I have failed as a mother.

So we took off from KK and headed over to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences where we spent 30 minutes calling each other saying “Did you find a parking space yet?”

We wandered around the museum where the kids had the most fun with the shark mandible and the unsanitary bird carcasses in the Nature Conservancy Room and the parents had the most fun watching the science guy squirm when the kids asked what the difference was between the male and the female octopus.

014

Have a nice day.

Pray-line, Prah-line…either way, they’re delicious

After our romantic grocery store run on Friday night, we decided that this would be a cooking weekend at Casa de Carpool.  Mr. CPQ threw a pork shoulder on the grill and slow cooked it all day Saturday.  I threw another pork shoulder into the dutch oven and made carnitas for burritos and tacos.   But after preparing all that savory food, I had a hankerin’ for something sweet.

I curled up with some cookbooks Sunday afternoon and was leafing through Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen and came across a recipe for pecan pralines.  I had time on my hands and heavy whipping cream in the refrigerator, so we were good to go.

As I was standing at the stove in all my Sunday-afternoon-fresh-from-a-nap glory, Mr. CPQ showed up with the camera.  When I asked why he had the camera, he suggested that you, dear Reader, might want to know how to make a praline.  Given my shabby (yet completely normal for any day around our place) attire, I assured him that this was what we in the biz call “an unbloggable moment”.

He begged to differ.008005

That’s me with the cheesy grin that says “Really, you’re taking a picture of me sporting the Michael Jackson tribute single glove?”

Is it too soon with the MJ reference?

We’ve moved on to Billy Mays mourning in this house.  When I told Craig about his passing, we immediately agreed that we needed to keep this information from my informercial loving Baby A.  What we failed to take into account was the fact that second only to his love for informercials is his love for the news, and he found out from our local broadcaster about Mr. Mays’ passing.  He was immediately distraught over the fact that we’d never be able to do laundry again in the house because Mr. Oxy-Clean had died and we wouldn’t be able to buy it anymore.

I only wish it were that easy.

But I digress.

Pecan Pralines

Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks of butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk

1 cup chopped pecans

2 cups pecan halves

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Utensils you’ll need

Deep pot

Long handled whisk

Long handled spoon

Candy thermometer

Lightly buttered cookie sheet (we used Silpat liners)

Have everything pre-measured and layed out in the order you’ll need it.  There won’t be time to stop stirring to gather ingredients once you’ve begun.

Instructions:

1.  Melt butter over high heat in pot. Add white/brown sugars and cream.  Cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.

2. Add milk and chopped pecans. Cook 4 minutes, whisking constantly.

3. Reduce heat to medium. Cook 5 minutes, whisking constantly.

4. Add vanilla and pecan halves. Whisk and cook for 15-20 minutes more. (If mixture starts smoking toward the end of cooking, lower heat.)

5.  Somewhere in between 15-20 minutes, the mixture will hit 240 degrees and when drizzled across the surface of the mixture, it will form a neat thread across the surface.  When this happens, removed from heat and drop the mixture by heaping spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet.

009

My pralines were huge.  The recipe says it makes three dozen, but it also said to make them two inches in diameter.  I may have overshot the mark a bit.

They were also a tad softer than I would have liked, but I think I took them off the second they hit 240 degrees instead of letting them cook a minute or so more.

The taste was worth every minute spent stirring.

______________

And in other news, it went to Mr. CPQ’s head that he was mentioned in the old blog last week and he is currently impossible to live with.  He keeps telling me “Tell those blog people that I said blah blah blah” and I never get around to it, so I’ve agreed to let him guest post here and there so that he can present his side of the story.

If you have any burning questions for him (but he said answering “Does this make me look fat?” was off-limits), leave them in the comments today and I’ll let him answer them over the course of the next few weeks in a new segment I’ll be calling “Craig Sez”.

Have a nice day.

Our date nights are so romantic

Because nothing says lovin’ like refrigerated pork in the grocery cart.

004

That is one happy ham man.

Have a nice day.

How I was crafty on their birthday.

I am slap wore out from the party preparations.

And grateful that I only have to do this once a year.

Plus slightly wreck-ish from scanning in those pictures of the boys yesterday and reliving a very stressful time in my life.

And thank you for your kind words of encouragement and praise to our Father for His grace.  There are many things left unsaid that I wanted to say and will another time, but I was honestly so overwhelmed by emotions as I wrote that I just had to stop and walk away from the computer.

I’m feeling better now.  There’s nothing like the panic of waiting until the last minute to plan a birthday party to whip me into shape.

__________

I am usually not the cake maker for birthday celebrations.  Typically we’re in Oklahoma every June visiting my family and my wonderful sister-in-law Sybil makes the boys the most beautiful creations you’ve ever seen for our family party.  She has done it for years, enduring our phases through Elmo, Blue’s Clues, and more recently, Transformers (gray and black icing – tasty, but ick).

This year due to scheduling conflicts, we stayed home, and the boys were stuck with me.

The box mix queen.

And the box mix queen had to come up with a creative cake to jive with our birthday theme, which was…wait for it….Legos.

I know.

You’re stunned.

Try to rally.

Whimzie and I were discussing how to make a Lego cake, and since she is the Google Queen, she sent me eleventy million links to different Lego cake sites and we spent the better part of an evening discussing the merits and mistakes of various approaches and which one would be LEAST likely to land me in the next post on Cake Wrecks.

Travel with me, Dear Reader, as I show you how I made their cakes (Yes, plural.  They always get their own. It’s enough to have to share their birthday – I draw the line at sharing cake.)

I placed the box mix Devil’s Food cake batter went into mini-loaf pans and mini-cupcake tins.

And Mr. CPQ wanted me to tell you that he totally saved the day because I ditched him after supper to go buy birthday presents for the boys and he made the second batch of cakes AND cleaned the kitchen and leapt tall buildings in a single bound. 003

I have no idea why that penny is there.

004

005

006

Oops, a little off-kilter – had a wee bit much of the batter in the molds and they were domed on top.  So, I leveled them.

008

And I was left with remnants.

Which now remain on my hips.

For the icing, I went with fondant, even though I”ve never worked with it before.  I was way behind schedule and didn’t have time to add in the color and work the daylights out of it and hope and pray it turned out quasi-uniformly colored so I chose white.

007

I did add some vanilla extract to it and worked it in prior to rolling since the box said that fondant had a “mellow” flavor and could stand to be boosted with something else.

“Nasty flavor” would be a better descriptor.009

After rolling it out, I layed it over the cake and trimmed the excess with my pizza cutter.

010

I used the trimmings to cover the mini-cupcakes and used toothpicks to secure them to the top of the cake.

011

Mr. CPQ then made a crack about Dolly Parton.

Notice whose name is missing on the cakes below.

013

I wouldn’t say it was super hard, but it was a little tedious, especially getting the edges to look crisp.  The whole project took me approximately 4 hours – 2 hours of cake baking time yesterday and 2 hours of decorating time today (counting interruptions for discussions about who needed to NOT be touching whom).

And they barely ate them because they were too anxious to get to their presents.

Sigh.

Have a nice day.

__________

The rest of this post is for my mother who hated more than anything to not be here for her grandsons’ birthday, so I’m filling her in on what the boys did.

Travis helped with the balloons (he was tickled to do it and he was a big help.)

014

I decorated the mailbox.

015

And the dining room.

017

We had quart-sized bags of Lego pieces that I had scooped from the bin of previous projects.  The kids had 20 minutes to build a creation using only the pieces at hand.

020

022024

Without telling whose creation was whose, Craig then inspected them and declared a winner (it was JJ who had placed a portable potty on his spaceship..he got major creativity points for that).

028

Then we had the singing of the song, cake, and present opening, then the guests got to chose a small Lego set to build and take home for a party favor.

And I’m sorry, but I didn’t get pictures because I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

But they had fun.

We missed you, Mom.

Love,

S.

We are family

I’ve been thinking about this post for months now, and the time has come to write it and I don’t have the words.

10 years ago today, a frightened 29 year old girl who was six months pregnant lay in a hospital bed, a place she had spent the previous 45 days with her head lowered below her feet, gripping her daddy’s hand with every hard contraction saying “Do you think he’ll make it to the hospital in time?”

She was worried that her husband wouldn’t be there when the babies were born.

Afraid he wouldn’t be there if the babies died.

I was that girl.

In January of that year I had found out I was pregnant.  In March, I found out I was pregnant with triplets.  Our inital shock gave way to delight, but within six weeks we were plunged into despair as we were asked to terminate the pregnancy that was most certainly headed toward disaster.

I believe the doctor’s exact words were “If I thought you had a ten percent chance of carrying the children to viability, I wouldn’t be asking you to terminate.  You have a one percent chance.”

We agonized.

We cried.

We sought wise counsel.

We prayed.

We decided to terminate.

Then changed our minds the day we were going to give the go-ahead.

Friends, it was rough.

But we were steadfast in our faith that He who began the good work in us would be faithful to complete it.

His way.

He made them.  They were His babies.  He had given them to us.  We would let only Him take them away.

I’d like to say the next few weeks were a complete joy and delight, but I hate shots, and I had over 70 of them, so, no, not a great time for the old CPQ.

But we did have wonderful friends that stood by us and visited frequently, and family that kept vigil in the hospital night after night, and little by little, 12 hour shift by 12 hour shift, we started ticking off the weeks.

And with every week, we celebrated.

inhospital

Yes, he brought me roses every single week.  Can I tell you how bad I feel about harshing on him about the ham yesterday?

We enlisted friends to pray for us (Here’s a picture of the emailed prayers that were sent in.  Craig would print them off and we wallpapered my room with them.  The nurses would later tell me they fought over who got to have me every day because my room was so peaceful.)

email

And we prayed ourselves.  It was a sweet time of deepening my trust in the God I serve.  And in the darkest hours (and there were some UGLY moments that are just unbloggable), He met me where I was.  And lifted my head.  And encouraged me and strengthened me.

Trust me for this day.

And oh, I did.

I had no one else who could save me.

Finally the day came when my liver and kidneys started to fail and no amount of medicine could keep my contractions at bay.  Craig raced to the hospital from the golf course an hour away. (Don’t be mad at him for playing golf while I was in the hospital.  Things turned in a matter of minutes and neither of us had any way to know it was going to happen).

As we were in the operating room prepping for surgery, the mood was tense.  I asked my doctor if I could see the babies as she lifted them out.  She very tersely responded “No, there won’t be time.”

At 6:25 on 6/25, JJ, our sweet Baby A made his appearance weighing 2 pounds, 4 ounces.  He was 13 inches long.  I could hear the quiet voices of his team as they worked on him and whisked him out to the NICU and made room for the next team.

jj

By the grace of God, he was breathing on his own without the need for a respirator.

At 6:27, Travis, Baby B was born weighing 2 pounds, 3 ounces, and 14 inches long.  His Apgar was 4.  He immediately went into distress and had to be resuscitated.

Travis

10 years later, I cannot look at this picture without crying.  You can count his ribs.  It breaks my heart, still.

At 6:28, Tommy, Baby C arrived.  At 14 inches long and 2 pounds, 3 ounces, he was mad as a hornet and crying for all he was worth.  It was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.  He was the only one stable enough for me to touch.  I nuzzled his head for an instant before they whisked him away.

I am forever grateful for that moment.

Tommy

There’s so much more that needs to be said, but my heart is too full as I reflect back on that day.

I am beyond thankful.

Tears spill down my cheeks as I type this.

God is so good.

So.

Very.

Good.

a gift

112

Have a nice day.

What’s a little food poisoning between friends?

Mr. CPQ and I had an all-too-familiar discussion after our drive home from the beach today.

(I feel slightly guilty for the auto-post Monday, but I WAS cleaning like a mad-woman when I wrote it Saturday right before we left.  I just didn’t want anyone to know the house was empty for the last few days.

Because all my readers are burglars.

The whole thing blew up in my face anyway because I was Twittering about my beach misadventures with friends, so let’s just say I won’t be getting my MENSA application in the mail anytime soon.)

And slightly related, I have a friend whose mom is a member of MENSA and this friend’s mom went on a date with James Brown.  That has absolutely NOTHING to do with the point of this post that I’m having an awful hard time getting to, but I thought it was a cool story nonetheless, so the next time you’re playing the Kevin Bacon game with James Brown instead of Kevin Bacon, you’ll have three degrees of separation from him.  You to me to my friend to her mom to James.

Don’t you now have new meaning to your life?

But we weren’t discussing James Brown, were we?  Can we please get to the point? Mr. CPQ and I were discussing (finally!)how long food is safe outside of refrigeration and/or past its expiration date.  Today’s 90 millionth rehashing of our opposing views was over a package of deli ham that he had purchased on Sunday to have in our condo for snacking.

As an aside, the man has deli issues.  Can I tell you how many packages of deli meat get tossed in this house because he HAS to have deli meat in the fridge but he’s never home to eat it?

ANYWAY, we were unloading the car this afternoon in the 90 degree heat when I discovered the grocery sack in the back containing warm ham.  Eew…just typing those words gives me the willies.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: We need to toss this ham.

Him:  Why?  It hasn’t even been opened.

Me: It’s been in a hot car.

Me: Unrefrigerated.

Him: (Incredulous that I might be tossing ham he forgot he had) BUT IT’S HERMETICALLY SEALED!

Me: It’s pork. In the heat. UNREFRIGERATED.

Him: Are you concerned that we will have the only known case of trichonosis this country has seen since the 1950s?

Me: No, I’m concerned about appearing on the 11:00 news. “Family of 5. Felled by hot ham.” You think I look bloated NOW in a swimsuit.  Just wait til I have a stomach full of e. coli.

He rolled his eyes.

He does that a lot.

Him:  You know, buzzards have enzymes in their stomachs that let them eat bad stuff and not get sick.

Me: I’m not a buzzard.

Him: I can be the buzzard.

I rolled my eyes.

I do that a lot.

003

This is Craig at the store buying his ham.  He expressly told me that he does NOT consent to this picture because it makes his bee-hind look big. I told him “It’s my blog, and I’m annoyed at you for halfway considering endangering the lives of your family for a sandwich.  The picture stays.”

Have a nice day.

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Can I tell you how much fun I had on Friday’s post to see The Others come out of the woodwork and show up in the comments section?  It was like having  a party that I didn’t have to clean the house for.

Wait.

I don’t clean the house for my real parties anyway.

Well, I sorta’ do.

If you define “cleaning” as waving a dried out Clorox wipe in the general direction of the guest bathroom and running my burned out vacuum cleaner over the used to be white carpet.

I probably clean my house better for leaving on vacation than I do when we live here.  I’m in masssive cleaning mode now because at some point in the next millenium we’re headed to the beach for a day or so to hang out with family.

Where I will regret eating waaay too much as I try to cram myself into a swimsuit in front of my size 4 health nut sister–in-law.

And I say that in the most positive, loving and supportive way possible.

Because I’m not bitter.

Really.

Have a nice day.