Friday, November 26, 2010

The year is nearly over

I decided to revive my poor, neglected blog. For the newbies, I am Jenn. I am a wife & mom of three kids and three weiner dogs. And three fish. And now a bird. We are the McConnell menagerie!

I love to talk, shop, and make crafty things. I scrapbook, rubber stamp, make cards, cross stitch, knit, crochet, and make jewelry. I am eager to learn to sew.

I also like to write, but sometimes I get so busy in my life away from the keyboard that I forget to write here. I used to write semiregularly and have followers! Anyone still out there? I am stil here. I haven't written all year, for 2010. So what has happened this year? Consider this the annual holiday letter that is normally enclosed in Christmas cards.

We used to live in Massachusetts. We moved to Florida. Steve is still in the Navy. We bought our first home. Everyone had their birthdays, except Miss Katie, who celebrates her 10th tomorrow! Steve and I celebrate 12 years of bickering in December. We got a new weenie dog, plus three fish and a bird. That's about it.

What happened last year? I got pericarditis and was later diagnosed with Lupus. It kicks my butt every so often. I try to ignore it. I will post more as the inspiration strikes. For now, I leave any readers with this:

Earlier I was describing my life as Momma to a kid with Asperger's. I said it's a roller coaster--lots of fun & laughs, some ups & downs, and sometimes ya just gotta scream. That's about right.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Turkey wrangling!

Today is Steve's birthday. Earlier in the week, when I felt well, I invited him to bring home some bachelor-sailor friends for a home cooked meal. I pulled a turkey out of the freezer to thaw on Monday. So we have one or two guests coming this evening. And I feel like crap, but oh well.

I am slugging back orange juice like it's my job. I've taken B12 tabs for energy and had 2 cups of coffee this morning to get going, since I was up late last night. Caffeine is like crack for me, so 2 cups? I'm amazed I'm not stuck to the ceiling. I also popped a couple Tylenol for functionability without pain. I'm afraid to think of what I might feel like without all this stuff running through me? I'd be a slug, and that's no way to be on the day when Steve turns 33!

So like I said, I had a turkey thawing. 13 pounds, thawing since Monday, yet still rock solid this morning? I was mad because I was supposed to brine that bastard for a minimum of 4 hours, and then cook it, and I was on a tight schedule so I could get it brined and roasted before dinnertime.

I abandon the brining, since my brining time must now be taken up by cold-water soak, changed every 30 minutes. Oh well, turkeys have been roasted and turned out just fine, without being brined. But after only after an hour, the turkey feels deceptively thawed???

Brine on! I mix up the salt-water, brown sugar solution, slice up the oranges and lemons and have my fresh thyme at the ready. I rip into the turkey wrapper and what the hell? Still frozen in the center. A little cool water rinse loosens the neck skin so I can pull out that bag of yuck, but this turkeys legs are closed so tight! And it looks to have the narrowest cavity I've ever seen. No, wait! The turkey butt has been flipped inward and frozen that way.

More cool water and I wrench the turkey butt outward. My hands are all scratched from ice crystals and I use a knife to saw the useless turkey butt off the carcass. I reach inside the not-quite-as-narrow-now cavity, and I am met with some very odd ice. The meat of the turkey in the legs and breasts is plump and squishy; nice and thawed, but inside the ice is clearly made of concrete and isn't going anywhere. It laughs at the cool water I try to employ. Evil, bitchy ice!

Over the next 30 minutes I press my fingers inside, trying to loosen the guts bag from the cavity. My fingers are bruised, my nails are chipped and my hands are raw by the end of that time and I am getting desperate. I am cutting into the minimum brining time, here! Why, why, why didn't I brine it last night? (Because I didn't have the stuff to brine it, but that's neither here nor there.)

I am desperate so I grab a long-handled wooden spoon and try to use it as a lever to wrench the back of garbage loose. I should have warmed the spoon to make a dent in that ice, but I don't have time! I use a fork to chip at the ice. Again with the spoon, heaving and wrenching, sure that I am about to snap the handle off that spoon! Instead, I break a couple of the turkeys ribs and actually apologize, because clearly breaking a dead turkey's ribs is an egregious offense.

More chipping with the fork and now I've employed a set of tongs. I pull and pull, and feel so bad for forceps-delivery mothers and their babies. Little bits of the guts bag and turkey guts themselves fly upward as I try to heave that damn bag out. I am covered in schmutz, my hair is poofed out in a Jenn-fro, and I am cussing.

More fork, more spoon, more tongs, many swear words and I finally heaved that bag out. I rinsed the cavity and lo and behold: the ice has gone. The bird is thawed. I shove fruit into the now-empty cavity, add water to make the brine solution complete, add some more thyme and now the blasted bird is brining.

As for me? I'm exhausted! I still have a cake to decorate (pictures will follow) and a present to make. And some tidying to do. Sigh. I should make more coffee...

Friday, January 02, 2009

The year in review

What happened last year?

In April I got pneumonia and was hospitalized. In May I was tested for MS and thankfully, I do not have it. My trigeminal neuralgia is simply idiopathic and exascerbated by stress. We moved here in August. Stephie turned one in September. Jon turned 12 and Katie turned 8, both in November. Steve and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in December. My TN also had the biggest flare ever, in December. A little prednisone and I was as right as rain. My parents came to visit for Christmas, and it snowed just for them! Steve's hoopty car kicked the bucket and he bought a brand new jellybean car. I mean, a Toyota Yaris. It looks like a Jelly Belly blueberry jellybean. It's very cute and if it weren't a stick, I'd be zipping around in it and he could drive the "big" car.

We let the kids stay up for the ball drop and they both made it! We gave them sparkling pear juice to toast with and Steve and I had a nice, sweet, rose wine.

I undecorated the tree today. In a minute I am going to go yank down the two strings of lights, bag them up and toss them in the Christmas box. I only put out a few Christmas decorations around the house so they will be easily stored away. I'll seal the box and Steve can put it in the outdoor storage closet tomorrow. Or in the garage until the snow melts, I don't know.

The baby has therapy tomorrow. She is *so* close to standing independently and walking. What else? I need to go to the commissary and I have a list ready. Steve has tomorrow off so I can go in the morning before therapy, and leave all the kids at home. I need to clear off the kitchen table and give it a good wash. I also need to sweep and mop the kitchen floor and scrub the baseboard area.

I am participating in a "read 50 books this year" challenge. No books you've read before. You don't have to buy them, only read them. Not that I would mind 50 new books... So I will be making use of my library! Anyone have any recommendations of must-read books? Any genre, mind you. Classics or current bestsellers, I am all ears!

I suppose I should close for now, and get cleaning. Insomnia has its benefits, I guess.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Here I go again!

On Friday I lit a candle to remember a sweet baby girl who passed away. A friend of mine's baby was stillborn, and Friday was her due date. I know that this weekend has been really tough for the baby's parents. I did ordinary things that day, like go to the grocery store, and clean house thinking about the grieving family the whole time. Y'all know who you are and I hope you find peace this weekend.

Today was Jon's birthday party. I made the cake he wanted, and bought the party stuff in the theme he chose. We invited his friends for a sleepover. We ordered pizza and we were supposed to go bowling. We have only seen that bowling alley full on league nights, and tonight was glow bowling night. Everyone and their dog showed up and so there was no bowling for us. The boys weren't too bummed about it. They came home and played video games. They went into Jon's room and we haven't seen them much. Lots of laughing, and the occasional run for soda and pizza. I hope they're having a good time.

As a party favor I made Tshirts. I bought some iron-on letters and they told me how they wanted them, and also some little iron-on sports balls. One child wanted his name vertical, one straight across the front, the other straight across the back and Jon wanted his diagonal. Two boys wanted their shirt cuffs adorned in the balls, one wanted just one on his shirt, and Jon wanted two footballs. Each shirt was unique and they loved them. I'd no idea it would go over so big. They were quite specific with the letter and sports ball placement.

So now it is after midnight, so it's Sunday the 16th and I feel like a loser, big time since I *just* remembered that today/Saturday was my parents anniversary and I feel like a huge tool for forgetting to call them. Yes, I was busy, and yes, I sent a card, but still. Duh, me! I will call them in the morning. What's on the agenda for Sunday? Sleep. As soon as I offload the sleepover invitees, and the baby goes down for a nap, so am I! I am so very tired. I am only staying up for 20 more minutes and then I'm off to bed.

I stayed up for a while hoping the boys would settle down. I finished off and fringed one scarf, and finished off a second. Both had been languishing on my needles for awhile. Now I need to fringe the second one but I don't feel like it right now. Well that is about it. I'm so tired. Night, y'all.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A few days' recap

Eh, I got sidetracked. I did attempt to make the covered wagon. No pictures were taken because I was so discouraged by the fact that the finished product did not even come close to resembling the image in my head. I baked the cake, then layered the pound cakes on top. I baked pie pastry draped over an upturned loaf pan to make it look like the cover part, and it did. Sort of. But I didn't trim down the cakes and the pound cakes stuck out the front, and the bottom layer was way too big. The donut wagon wheels were cute, but just not cutting it. I didnt even attempt the graham cracker driver's seat. My son came home and laughed at it, and on Saturday we had company come over and they couldn't tell what it was. I just had this perfect image in my head, and it fell horribly flat. No way am I taking pictures and posting my shame for all to see!

Like I said, on Saturday some friends came to visit and see our new house. We enjoyed having them. One of these days we will make it down to their neck of the woods!

On Sunday, Steve slept on the couch and watched football. This is nothing new, but he has been getting migraines lately and was feeling like crap so I didn't bust his chops for "wasting" a Sunday on the couch in front of the TV.

Steve was at the lodge for a late meeting Monday night and I took a bath. Shhh, don't tell the kids, since I tell them they must take showers since taking baths wastes water. I sneak my occasional bath in after they are asleep. I left the lights off, (because of the obnoxiously loud automatic fan) lit some scented tealights, scattered them around the bathroom and soaked away, re-reading Harry Potter.

Tuesday the kids were off school for Veteran's Day and this sparked a discussion about the military, wars and also the Holocaust. Jon hasn't heard about it in school yet, so we told him about it. We told him of the gas chambers and of six million Jewish souls exterminated. He couldn't wrap his head around hating someone for their religion, and he didn't understand hte gas chamber. He asked us why the Jewish people didn't grab a gas mask? As if any person has a random gas mask hanging around, much less a prisoner in the camps, right? We tried to explain and ended up just looking it up on the internet to show him how they slept in bunks, and weren't properly fed or clothed, how they were cold, hungry, used for slave labor, hideously maltreated and murdered. Those pictures said more than we could.

Wednesday was a short day at school, which the kids love. Yay for early dismissal!

Today is Thursday. I took the baby to one of the playgroups that we go to. She wanted nothing to do with singing songs. She was crawling all over, happily ignoring me until the leader brought out the musical instruments. Stephie loves to shake bells and rattles. She also likes to see the other babies there, even if one did use her head as a drum, bonking it with a maraca. Stephie looked puzzled until she decided it hurt and started to cry as me & the other mom raced over to help. You really can't move too fast in a room with 15 crawling babies.

So what's on my agenda? Cleaning. Some maintenance tidying for the main floor of the house, and soem continued in-depth cleaning of my front room. Jon's slumber party is in two nights, and also we have my parents coming for Christmas. The house needs to be cleaned and kept up. Tonight I am undertaking the scintillating task of making the grocery list, to include two weeks worth of food, plus party snacks for two slumber parties (Jon's *and* Katie's) and Thanksgiving. I love that I have a second fridge to thaw my turkey in! Whee!

Well I should shut up and go clean. I will keep posting regularly, I promise!

Friday, November 07, 2008

And now, today!

The PTO is hosting a Barn Bash tonight. We don't own any western wear but we are going to go. We are supposed to bring a handmade covered wagon for a wagon parade. Last night I was crabby and was NOT into trying to create a damn covered wagon. I was leafing through a catalog when lo an behold, they had a covered wagon kit, to build. Of course I coudln't order it in time but I stared at it and noticed that the covered part kind of draped like pie pastry or fondant and it came to me: Food! Make a food wagon!

So I baked a 13x9x2 for the wagon part. Pound cake will be the covered part and I draped a pie pastry over an upside down loaf pan to hold its shape and be the actual cover. I have icing set aside to cover the cake and vanilla breadsticks to be the railings. Graham crackers will be the driver's seat. And for the wheels? Donuts, held in place with extra vanilla breadsticks as axles. It won't be functional, but they said to be creative, so I was.

Time to get the baby up for lunch! Chicken and black bean tacos for dinner!

Thursday Nov 6th

Hmm, let's pretend that's what day it is. I got my blood drawn to check my cholesterol. I put the baby down for a nap. I got her up and fed her. I got the kids from school. It was cold and rainy and lousy weather. Dinner was shrimp & broccoli alfredo. The kids ate the last of the ice cream sandwiches. Last night I made Jon's birthday invitations. He likes them. Katie is excited for me to make hers. That's about it. :-)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I got my flu shot today

I told the nurse that I am a huge needle baby and so she was smacking me on the arm to desensitize my nerves, kind of like my dentist does by flapping my lips or cheeks when he is shooting me up with Novocain. Sending too many confusing messages from the nerves to the brain, so it hurts less. Or something. So I got my flu shot. Stephie has had hers, and the older kids are getting theirs with their well child visits in a few weeks.

Tomorrow I get my blood drawn to check my cholesterol. I had it checked ten years ago, so I guess I am due. I am trying to cut back/eliminate caffeine, so I am off soda again. You know it is one thing if I have a soda on the occasional trip out, but I was sucking down the Pepsi at home. Talk about a waste of money, too! Water is free and I have reuseable water bottles, so I've no excuse. In just 24 hours of no soda, I have ankles again. Yay for less water retention!

Now, onto the election. My kids were rooting for different candidates. Katie wanted McCain, since he was in the Navy like Steve is. Jon wanted Obama like the majority of his classmates. The new president was declared so much sooner than I expected--I thought the results would take hours and hours to come in, but no, at 11PM it was all over. I went to check on the kids, turn off lights, cover them up (yes I still do it) and of course, they popped their little eyes open. Jon was happy, and Katie was most certainly not. It was funny to watch.

I had previously told the kids that no matter who was elected, we would be making history. If Obama and Biden won, we would have our first black president, and if McCain and Palin were elected, we would have the oldest President as well as the first female VP. I told them it was exciting to be old enough to remember living through history as it was being made. Katie was interested but Jon was not. He said he has had too much election overload. Two years, little man. We've all had enough campaigning and we are all glad it is over!

Tomorrow after my blood draw, the baby and I go to playgroup. Yay! We go to two, and the other one was canceled so we have missed going and playing with friends.