The Common Mommy Denominator
Monday, December 21, 2009
I wrote a post the other day about Jay's new job and our house hunt, but apparently it set off a bunch of bells and whistles where he now works, and he was asked to have me remove my blog post. I never got to...Jason just hopped on and deleted it. It took me 90 minutes. Now it's gone. I'm a little sad, but I'm now going to spend...oh, about 10 minutes repeating myself in brief.
Brief. Yeah, right. We're talking about ME here.
Anyway, Jason now works for...a company...in south Orange County. AND HE LOVES IT.
They treat him beautifully, he already knows everyone he works with thanks to some prior connections, and he's absolutely thrilled...particularly since he is no longer an accountant at a public firm. That means NORMAL hours (no more 23 1/2 hour days, Lord willing), competitive pay, and a couple bosses instead of 15 of them. It also means he has his own desk and work space, sees the same people every day, and so long as the company isn't filing with the SEC, knows when he'll be heading to work and when he'll be getting home.
Which means we're here for a while. (Possibly forever.) So we want to get settled. Which means buying a home. And the best bang for your buck is east of OC, meaning Corona, Riverside, or via the 74, a pretty straight shot from the new job, Lake Elsinore. We've chosen Elsinore, where we're hoping to find a home over 2500 sq ft for under 250k. There, that's not unreasonable. (Whoda thunk there would be a place an hour from OC where you could buy a home for that price?!)
Yes, yes, yes, the Ortega Hwy is treacherous. Yes, yes, yes, the people in Lake Elsinore are not your average Los Angeleans (Thank HEAVENS!). Yes, yes, yes, parts of the 15 are a pit. But outside of Mello Roos, we're in love, and SO INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL to Maureen and Bishop Christensen for their tireless efforts and boundless patience as our realtors.
If you're looking for a home in Southern California, boy, have I got a pair of realtors for you! They're educating us on the process, helping us weather the disappointments, and are eternally optimistic for our eventual settling...and we love them! THANKS, CHRISTENSENS!
So...yeah. That's all. Jason's been looking to leave the firm for a while, and when this came along, he was interested not only to get out of the firm but because the position is a really excellent position at a really excellent company. And I'm thrilled for him. From interview to hiring it took about a month, and Jason's patience paid off. In spades. Did I mention he loves it (at this nameless-but-fabulous company) there?
No honeymoon for a while, but a home is forthcoming, and we'll update you as we progress! Thanks to EVERYONE for your support!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
She's 16 years old.
Her keys, wallet, purse, cell phone, clothing - everything - is still sitting in her room.
Her parents left for work. Her friends didn't see her at school. Her parents came home from work...and she did not.
They are mad with worry. I would be even worse off, I think.
There will be a press conference in a couple hours, the girl's father pleading for her to come home, or for anyone with any information to come forward. I pray that she does, or someone does.
After all, barring everything else, it's 10 days before Christmas.
Another check mark on that bad list.
My front door is deadbolted and my sliding glass door and sliding windows have chunks of pvc in their paths. And I am............soooooooooooooooo..............done.
Monday, December 14, 2009
When we first moved here, within days, the helicopters started. They flew over our neighborhood at LEAST twice a week, spotlights glaring, searching for criminals running free amongst us. They still do, but...at least now that's at the OTHER end of the street. So...about a block.
A couple months later, we got word that a flasher/molester was prowling our end of the neighborhood; one of our neighbors encountered him carrying her groceries back to her door and got a lovely view of his front. ALL of his front. 2 weeks later, our (DIRECTY beneath us and retired Marine) downstairs neighbor spotted the guy PASSING IN FRONT OF OUR DOORS and nabbed him, holding him 'til the police arrived.
Sometime in there we called our landlady (rather than the police, which admittedly would have been funnier!) in the middle of the night to come kick out a couple young 20-something guys in the spa RIGHT BELOW OUR BEDROOM WINDOW. They were both naked, by the way, and engaged in some patently offensive private activities when she interuppted them.
Then we moved down the other end of Glenoaks to where we are now...and a few months later, Jason's car was stolen. We got it back (it had been driven about 6 blocks away, and then they swiped the battery), forking over a chunk of money to meet our deductible to have the window replaced, the steering column replaced, a new battery installed, and basically just get it drivable again.
Meanwhile, my mother was the victim of a home invasion. Kid kicked down their front door while my mom was at work in her skivvies on the computer, told her he had a gun, made her show him where their jewelry and "rich stuff" was, forced to her lie face-down on her bed, and then he robbed her, leaving her blessedly unscathed...physically. She still sees a shrink from time to time for it (and who could blame her?!) and now my folks live in their own version of Alcatraz. Only safer.
A couple months after that, my sister's friend's dad was murdered in a mugging. I kid you not.
Then was the day after Thanksgiving, RIGHT before I delivered Miss Goo. My folks, husband, 2 year-old boy and pregnant self heard someone run full-speed past our window, followed a few moments later by two or three very big dogs. Then came the helicopters, lights, and police en masse, wearing full SWAT regalia and carrying semi-automatics. Kid had robbed a local restaurant at gunpoint and decided to hide out HERE. Guess what? They never found him. Someone in our complex did, though, and didn't think to call the police as she watched the kid hide in the filter area of the community pool. Can you say "Stupid Broad"?
A couple months after I had Goo, some crazy guy started pounding on my door, yelling something unintelligible, and then tried the door handle...about a split second after I'd locked it. I stood with my back to the door in tears with my kids napping in their room praying the door - and my back and weight - would hold and keep him out. After about 90 seconds he made a dash for the stairs and disappeared.
Back in May, our neighbors directly across the way - so, 50 feet or less from our front door - were involved in a murder-suicide. Older couple, lots of hospital bills, wife bedridden...so he ended the misery for them both. NO ONE heard the gunshots. They'd been dead a week (and the courtyard stank of rotting meat) when they were found.
Now we get the guy IN OUR CAR in our GATED parking garage.
Have I missed anything? Probably. Not sure what, off the top of my head, but there's GOT to be something. And even if I HAVEN'T missed anything, well, let's be real here: That's more than enough for one little family, isn't it?
Merry Christmas from us to you! :)
Sunday, December 13, 2009
But all that's changed.
Really, though, I do have quite a few updates-and-reports, many of them just because I want to keep a record of our goings-on. Let me tell you a little about the last month and better.
- I did NOT have a tummy tuck. I WILL not have a tummy tuck in the future. Why, you ask? Are we having more kids? According to the doctor, that's a "no." But I got that really atrocious head cold right before I was due to go in and was complaining one night to my husband that I'd have to reschedule and couldn't just "get it over with" so I could stop being freaked out by the whole thing, and he pointed out that every time I talked about a tummy tuck, I sounded worried, stressed, and entirely put-out. He was right. The bottom line was two things: the benefit was not worth the cost, pain, and time...and I love the Korean bathhouse so much because they are perfectly comfortable in their own skin, whatever age and state it is, so long as it's healthy and well cared-for. How could I then convince my little girl a few years from now that she's beautiful just the way she is when I myself couldn't be happy unless I went under the knife and blew 8 grand to do it? What sort of standard of beauty do I cling to, anyway? It's just me, and I realize for most women it's reparative surgery rather than vanity, but...well, it's just not for me.
- I got to go to Stacy (A) K's bridal shower and bachelorette, plus the first half of her wedding ceremony. I know that the bridal bit doesn't seem noteworthy for blog posting unless it's family or best friend or whatnot, but with Stacy, it really is. She and I met back in high school, and she has forever been a strength and example to me of generosity, love and sincerity, with a willingness to fight for the little guys and the underlings. I was thrilled to have been able to share in her bridal experience - plus attend my very first "real" bachelorette party, hosted by Rita (who I've known since kindergarten 26 years ago!!! and got to also reconnect with) - and seeing Stacy walk down the aisle was truly amazing. I only got to stay 'til "I do" and the sand-pouring (I had the munchkins with me, and as is always the case when you really need them to, they just would not SHUT UP), but it was worth the insanity to see her so exquisitely happy. I'm so very thankful for her. It's not hero worship, really...but I WAS the underling. THE underling. And when someone stands up for you and treats you like a human being while all those around you - let's just say "don't" and leave it at that - you remember...and it means something. More than something. So again, soooooo happy for her, and so grateful FOR her.
- Speaking of friends, Adrienne came to visit!!! I don't remember if I posted about this before, so if so, well, here it is again! Adrienne is a dear old friend of mine from my student teaching days, believe it or not, and lives with her hubby and adorable little boy in American Fork. I actually met her within a couple weeks of meeting Jay, to line up the time frame there. Crazy stuff. So...she came down for a few days' vacation, and we did it all...but the best part was threefold: 1) spending time catching up with a friend I fear I depend on more than I should, 2) comparing novel notes (she's writing both a series and a - dare I say brilliant? - take on 2012), and 3) the Korean Bathhouse. It all comes back to the Korean Bathhouse, doesn't it? Adrienne knows what I mean. It is both bliss and rebirth, and I couldn't have shared it with a better or more apt friend. Love ya, lady. Thanks for coming...and for putting up with our craziness!
- For that matter, Jared and Crystal came to visit, too...and gave up on Disneyland after only half a day. Really...can you blame them? :)
- The Kindergarten thing continues. Tyler won an award (did I blog about this?) for knowing all his letters, numbers, and sounds. Jason echoed Mr. Incredible: "Finding reasons to celebrate mediocrity." Not that our son is mediocre, OH, NO! What boggles our minds is that, though very bright, our son is apparently among the top two or three kids in his class...which means that other parents obviously aren't doing their jobs. 5 years old and not knowing your letters? 5 years old and can't count to 10? I'd scream, but I might wake up the kids! So, anyway, Tyler's ahead, doing very well, (If you have kids and want them to get a jump, Audrey directed me toward "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." Search it on Amazon. It's about $10 with the shipping. GENIUS.) He loves the social aspect - recess is his favorite - and I'm currently working with his class on a for-assembly "performance" of Twas the Night Before Christmas. More on that after it happens. (That's what I get for telling his teacher I was a Drama teacher a lifetime ago!)
- Roman has worked his magic yet again: my cut is completely different from all the other cuts he has given me, and equally as fabulous as each and every one of them before...plus my color is AWESOME. I confess, though, it was a temp color, and as of this weekend was looking more brown than dark chocolate like it was a month ago, so...I re-dyed it. Brown-black. And I love it. Permanent is a commitment, and the roots will suck...but I can always re-dye it again...and have Roman fix it when I see him again in a few months. Never thought I'd be able to pull off this color...but I LOVE it. Should've known from the wigs, really. Good stuff. But enough about my hair...
- The Dr. Phil show called. That's a whole different blog entry. Remind me. It's good.
- Jason got the job at Hardie. He had last week off and starts tomorrow. Da-da-da-DA! Another blog entry!
- We're house-hunting in Lake Elsinore. ANOTHER blog entry!
- Roy's is our new favorite restaurant. If you have one in your area, GO. Just be prepared to fork over some dough. It's waaaaaaaaaaaaay worth it.
- Still trying to get out the rest of the Christmas cards. If I've missed you so far, don't be offended...still working on it. Working on lots of things, really...
- Still painting! ANOTHER blog entry!
- Hung out with Hannah and kids...and Bridget and kids. Love 'em all. So nice to see another mother with similarly-aged kids every now-and-again. Wish I saw more of them.
- THANKSGIVING! You guessed it...another blog entry.
- MIKAYLA IS THREE!!!!!!!!!! And another one. Blog entry, that is. And year. Whatever.
So...that's a wrap for now. I'm going to go lie down. Maybe go to bed. On the couch. I don't want to disturb Jason - he's a super-light sleeper who starts a new job tomorrow - and let's be honest, the couch is better on my (31 year-old) back anyway, so other than body heat and the knowledge he's beside me, well, cest la vie. That, and he'll probably (albeit unwittingly) enjoy the starfishability of NOT having me next to him in our little queen-sized bed as my overly-indulgent coming-up-on-Christmas weight catches up to my waistline.
So. Yeah. Goodnight. And cheers.
Okay, we don't all have those moments.
But I have them every once in a while. Like right now. For a plethora of reasons, and no reason at all. And Christmas is 12 days away. And Sister Kidd passed away this morning. And what if that man had been in my car just a couple hours earlier when I took the kids on a sick run while Jay was still at church? And why...why not me? And how can someone claim to know, anyway?
I know I'm not making sense. Really, it's not that late, so I don't have a good excuse for not making sense, except that I'd really rather you now know exactly what I'm talking about, but I want to remember for myself. Sigh.
Maybe I'll wrap this up and move on to the update I've been meaning to finish. Good idea. Enjoy that one instead. This one's pretty much just for me. Hope you understand.
I'll do an update another time.
But for the moment...the Good: LOBSTER. We cooked a lobster this weekend. A live one. A BIG live one; approximately 3 lbs, actually. That crazy miserable fool put up a serious struggle sitting there in our sink (and it splashed a healthy amount of water onto the floor, as well...) but was no match for 12 minutes in the steamer...or the hammer that smashed its dead red body into managable cracked bits. Add some drawn butter and mmmmmmmmmmm. The Good.
The Bad: House hunting. You all warned me. It sucks. You have this mental image ahead of time that goes something like this: You chance upon an MLS listing for your dream home listed at just the right price, so you lay down your best offer...which happens to be tens of thousands of dollars below everyone else's best offer...but the couple selling the home is old and adorable and they're moving to live full-time at their Summer home off the coast of Italy, so they thumb through the offers, see you're a sweet, small family in need of a break, and they choose YOU to take your dream home off their hands...for half the price of your offer. Needless to say, it doesn't work that way - I TOLD you it was needless - and it seems we'll be home shopping for a very, very long time. At least Ryan and Maureen are our salespeople, if you will. It makes home shopping a LOT less painful if you're good friends with your realtors, I'm discovering. But other than working with the Christensens? The Bad.
Finally, the Ugly. Goo was sick this weekend. She finally started to pull it together today, and we figured, hey, what a great time for a little family Christmas Light Drive-Around. So we skip the elevator in favor of the stairs (because the car is actually directly at the bottom of the stairs) and as we exit the stairway toward the car, Jason stops us all: THERE IS SOMEONE SITTING IN THE PASSENGER SEAT. Jason walks toward the car while I collect the kids and yells - as the door opens - "What are you doing in my car?!" Out steps an intimidating-looking hispanic guy with a mustache, sideways ball cap, dark sunglasses, and baggy dark track suit, carrying our car's trash bag. For the life of me I can't remember what he said, but he was walking away with our trash bag, and I pointed out to Jay that there might be something we own IN that trash bag, so Jason called out to the guy to drop the bag right where he was or we'd call the police. The guy reached in, held up something-or-other and told Jason it was "just his CD", and dropped the bag, continuing on. Jason went to retrieve it, and when he handed it back to me, it contained our registration, insurance cards...and a little travel-sized bottle of Febreze I keep in the glove compartment. Why the heck the guy wanted Febreze, one can only guess, and what he thought he could do with our registration and insurance cards is beyond me, but there it was. Can I get an EEEK?! So that one definitely qualifies as "The Ugly."
I'd review all the crazy crap that's happened to us since we've moved to Anaheim, but I think I need to go take some Valium. Geez-louise. Only in AnaCrime. Anyway, hopefully more soon...but I've been bad lately, so don't count on it! And if I don't get around to it, MERRY CHRISTMAS! (Quick, someone send me a Round Tuit!)
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Personally, I don't think they need the chocolate. Furthermore, I don't think they even need to be baked. (This dough is Peanut Butter Heaven on a Spoon.)
But here it is. Merry Christmas, and don't say we never gave you anything. More updates soon!
Jess & the Fam
World's Best and Most Perfect Quintessential Peanut Butter Cookie (makes 4 dozen-ish)
One 9.5 oz. bag of Dove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate Promises (OPTIONAL!)
1 ¼ Cups of creamy peanut butter
1 Cup of unsalted butter (softened)
1 Cup of granulated sugar
1 Cup of brown sugar
2 Large eggs
3 Cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (do not omit this)
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter, peanut butter, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat in both sugars. Stir in ½ of dry ingredients, add eggs one by one, beat and mix in remaining ingredients. Place one inch balls on a baking sheet and cross hatch with a fork. Bake for 11 minutes. Remove from oven and add 1 Dove Dark Chocolate Promise to each cookie by gently depressing the chocolate on to the cookie. Place the cookies back in the oven for two more minutes. Remove cookies from oven and immediately transfer to cooling rack with gentle care (I have found using a fork to remove the cookies from the baking sheet to the cooling rack works best. Do not man-handle the cookies at this point or the chocolate may run and lose its shape).
Note: When cross-hatching the cookie, do not flatten out the cookie too much. A thick cookie will keep it soft hours after it has cooled and prevent excessive crunchiness. Plus, you don’t want a lot of peanut butter cookie surrounding the chocolate. A modest lip of cookie surrounding the chocolate after it has baked is what is being sought after here so that each cookie is almost bite-sized (but not quite).
Why I Like This Recipe
Most people will use milk chocolate Hershey’s kisses (I call these people “amateurs”). The milk chocolate makes the cookie too sweet. Also, they add the Hershey’s kiss after the cookies have finished baking. This makes the cookie difficult to bite since the chocolate has never had a chance to begin the melting process and soften. If they do add the kiss during the baking process, the tip of the kiss will burn or over-cook in the oven. I call this a lose-lose scenario. The Dark chocolate dove in this recipe is a uniform square shape, so it covers a good portion of the cookie and will evenly soften during the baking process. The dark chocolate is not excessively sweet. Allowing it to “bake” with the cookie for two minutes starts the melting process but isn’t enough to make the chocolate “runny” (unless the cookie is aggressively handled after baking). This will make the chocolate soft hours after it has cooled. Because the cookie has some thickness to it and has not quite browned in the oven, it retains its baked shape and is cooked through, though it will remain soft long after it has cooled. The result – a soft, melt-in-your mouth marriage of chocolate and peanut butter in a perfectly balanced, nearly bite-sized bite.