Meatless Monday: Basic Mac & Cheese

This recipe comes from my childhood. For as long as I can remember, this is how my Mom made macaroni and cheese. It’s a stovetop recipe, it’s simple, it’s delicious, and it doesn’t take any longer to make than Kraft out of a box. This is what I ate growing up and now I feed it to my kids. In fact, it’s the only Mac & Cheese Liam will deign to let pass his picky-pants lips.

Basic Stovetop Mac & Cheese

1 oz. sharp cheddar cheese

4 oz. Velveeta (I use the 2% version)

1/2 to 2/3 c. milk

approx. half a box of elbows

Fill a medium saucepan with water and heat to boiling over high heat. Add elbows and cook until done. Drain elbows. In the same saucepan, add 1/2 cup milk, Velveeta, and cheddar cheese.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, to melt cheese. If the sauce seems a bit too thick, add a bit more milk. Once the cheese is fully melted, take the pot off the heat and add the elbows to the pot. Stir to incorporate. Serve and enjoy!

I know some of the measurements are approximate but that’s because I’ve been making this without measuring anything for YEARS.

From here you can jazz it up however your want. Bacon! Sun dried tomatoes! Hot dogs for that white trash flair! I generally put salt and pepper on my portion (I don’t salt the whole thing because the kids don’t like it that way) or use Penzey’s Northwoods Seasoning on it.  Jamie likes it with parmesan on top. Have fun with it!

Achievement Unlocked: Family Movie Date

As one of our last Family Fun On A Weekday outings before Scot started his new job, we took the kids to see Despicable Me 2. I know this sounds fairly prosaic to most but it was a big deal to us. Liam doesn’t really like theaters. For the last couple of years he hasn’t wanted to see movies in the theater because he finds them overwhelming. They’re loud. They’re in his face. There’s too much input.

Jamie, on the other hand, is wiggly. Liam got his first movie theater experience at age 3 (Kung Fu Panda for those keeping track). Jamie? Well, he’s nearing 4.5 and he hadn’t been yet. We just didn’t think he could sit still and handle it. We didn’t want to waste money or bother other patrons so we held off.

But last week they BOTH agreed to go to the movies. I was frankly a little shocked.

They did FANTASTIC. I so wish I could have taken photos while we were in there. Jamie was entranced and he was giggling and laughing in all the right parts. Liam had a ball and was curled up in his seat with a bag of popcorn like it was no big deal. I even brought noise canceling headphones in case one of them got a little over stimulated.  Neither one of them wanted or needed them.

The movie itself was hilarious and just as good or better as the original. It was so much fun to go see a movie as a family. It felt like such a big milestone – our kids are now both old enough for this. Huzzah!

So the summer fun continues for us and I’m really excited by it. I can’t believe we’re less than a month away from school starting. This summer has flown past!

Some Thoughts From A “Lazy” Mom

Like many people, I read PostSecret every Sunday morning when the weekly secrets are posted. Sometimes the secrets are sad; sometimes they’re joyous; other times downright hateful. They always make you think.

They never made me mad before today.

Today, this was posted:

The whole point of PostSecret is that it’s completely anonymous so I have no idea who sent this in, whether they are male or female, have kids or don’t have kids, work or don’t work. But what I’m about to say applies no matter what the secret sender’s circumstances.

As a stay-at-home-mother let me just state for the record that this job is hardest I’ve ever worked at anything. That doesn’t mean I was some kind of slacker in my career before now. Oh hell no. No, being a SAHM is just that work intensive. I’ve posted some Real Talk before on this blog about the nature of being a stay at home parent.

What bothers me most is that this stereotype still exists and that we all buy into it to some degree. Even women; or most especially women. And then we tear each other down by trotting it out when we feel like it. The always awesome Red Pen Mama even told me on Twitter that I do more in one day than she does all week as a working mother.

Well, that’s a big fat fallacy, too.

The truth is that we all work hard. It’s not about more or less, lazy or hardworking. We all do the same stuff, we just do it in different ways. Neither way is better than the other for one simple reason. Listen closely to what I’m about to say.  You ready?

PARENTHOOD IS NOT A MARTYR CONTEST.

Parenthood is hard. It is wonderful. It is amazing and terrifying all at once. It is not for everyone (and that’s OK too!). Instead of trying to one-up each other with how hard we work for our kids, how about we all agree that we love our families, we do the very best we can, and we make the choices that work best for our specific families and circumstances. There is no specific template that applies to human beings that makes them perfect anything. There are only imperfect people doing their best to make their way through an imperfect world.

Let’s stop making that harder by making sweeping, poorly thought-out, shitty generalizations, mmmkay?

So, yeah, that secret made me mad. But not because I’m a SAHM and someone thinks I’m lazy. Screw that, I know how hard I work. It upset me because it implies that there is and should be some kind of contest about this and that’s just absurd.

OMG, YAY!

I finally feel like I can publicly say this: Scot has a new job.  HUZZAH!

Last summer, when he was contracting, he worked for BNY Mellon.  He really liked his boss – who was not a technical writer but a sys admin – so when Scot found himself without employment again, he contacted his old boss to say “Hey, I’m looking.”

Well, it turns out there was a position open on the team as a sys admin. Much of the technology that they use are systems that Scot has actually documented in the past (meaning he knows them top to bottom) and he also has sys admin experience.

It was a long and painful process to get to this point – for which I blame a very slow HR department – but he finally got the offer just before the Fourth. Then, he had to jump through more hoops regarding security and background checks before they finally gave him a start date.

He starts July 22nd.

He’s glad to have gotten this particular job. He was ready to take a break from technical writing and he liked the people he worked with last summer so I’m hoping this job will be a better fit for him. We’ll be climbing out of our debt hole for awhile after this but if it means Scot is happier, I don’t care.

So, once again, I give you Stephen Colbert.

omg yay

Meet Molly

It all started Saturday morning when Scot said, “This will hit you like a ton of bricks but there’s a dog at Animal Friends that I want to go see.”

We’ve been a firmly one dog household for many years but I know that as cute and adorable as Ellie is, spaniels aren’t really Scot’s breed. He’s always wanted another Border Collie mix like his beloved childhood dog, Mindy. The dog he found at Animal Friends was just such a dog –  a young spayed female.

I don’t know what made me not reject this out of hand. I have no explanation. I only know that I agreed to set aside my long to-do list to load up the family, including Ellie, so that we could go meet Olivia (as the shelter had named her).

We eventually caught up with her at a meet and greet that they were holding at another location. The kids liked her, Ellie seemed to like her, she seemed to get along with Ellie, and Scot was in love. (I liked her, too!)

We made the decision to apply to adopt her. Saturday is just NOT the day to go to Animal Friends, FYI. It was insanely busy and we waited almost 2 hours just to meet with the adoption counselor. With both kids and Ellie in tow. When it was finally our turn, we talked about Olivia’s quirks and then we let the two dogs spend some time together to make sure they would get along. Once it was clear that they were fine with each other, we finalized the paperwork to bring her home that day.

We re-named her Molly.

Meet Molly

Meet Molly

Molly is somewhere between 18 month and 2 years old. She was transferred to Animal Friends from another shelter and we don’t know how long she was there. The best we know about her is that she was lost without tags or a microchip. She was clearly someone’s pet as she seems completely house trained. She is VERY laid back – much less spastic than the spaniel – and seems  quiet and self-contained. She and Ellie were playing together, though, so I think once we get through adjustment they’ll get along fine. She’s fairly small for her breed – she’s about 39 lbs and she’s carrying just a few lbs extra. She’s really the perfect size and temperament to fit in with our household.

Molly and Ellie together

Molly and Ellie together

So, completely out of the blue, we’ve become a two dog house.

Kid-isms

Kids get to a certain age and they just become FUNNY. Now, I have two of them who are like this and we have lots of laughter in our house. I’ve gathered up a bunch of things that these two have come out with over the last several months that made us giggle. Beware, it is not a short list.

——–

Liam was doing something strange – as is his wont – and I told him he was odd. His response?

“Yes, I am odd. It’s part of my charm.”

His self-confidence is just the BEST.

———

Scot was using the bathroom one day and Jamie followed him in. He’s still sort of fascinated by the pee-standing-up thing. So he was watching Scot do his thing and he starts chanting:

“wait for it…. wait for it….”

Oh, child.

———-

I was going out one day and leaving Jamie with Scot. I asked Jamie if he could do me a favor and behave for Daddy.

“Yes, I be very have for Daddy.”

———-

It’s a well established fact that Liam is a LEGO nut. He has all kinds of kits and he builds all sort of things with random parts he has laying around. He came to me one day and announced “My new goal in LEGOs is to build a toilet. I’m going to put little brown LEGOs in it.”

And he did:

LEGO Toilet

LEGO Toilet

———

Toward the end of the school year, but before the weather really warmed up, I had the following conversation with Liam one morning before school.

Liam: Maybe you need to drive me to school.

Me: No, I’m not dressed.

Liam: You want YOUR SON to get frostbite?!

Me: Nice try, kiddo.

———-

I don’t remember the context on this one but it kind of speaks for itself.

Jamie: Please have one more baby, Mom.

Me: NO.

———-

All in one morning as we were getting ready for school, I got these two things from the kids.

Liam: My subconscious doesn’t want me to go to school.

Jamie (wandering about with a single sock on): I only wearing one sock because only one foot is cold!

———-

Sometimes what they say makes me melt instead of laugh.

Jamie: Mommy? I miss Liam. He my best boy.

Liam to Jamie: Brothers are ALWAYS best friends.

———-

One day we were on our way home in the car and I flipped on the radio because Jamie wanted music. I managed to stumble on a station playing A-Ha’s “Take On Me.”  Liam listened for a few minutes while I sang along and then said, “That sounds like videogame music!”

Whippersnapper.

———-

Over the weekend, Scot and I were putting together a bookcase for our bedroom and Jamie was watching. He kept trying to hand us tools and was sort of obsessed with when we might need the hammer. Finally, Scot says:

Scot: Are you Captain Hammer?

Jamie: Yup!

Me: Is the hammer your penis?

Jamie: (pause) YUP!

———–

Jamie is a chatterbox. He *never* stops talking. It’s exhausting sometimes. One day I asked him:

Me: Jamie, do you EVER stop talking?

Jamie: Sometimes.

Scot: When? I’d like to plan my day around it.

Jamie: Sundays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Okay, then.

———–

When Jamie was in the throes of the Terrifically Terrible Threes, I took some video on my phone of him having a tantrum. Basically I did it because it was funny to me and because then I could show Jamie just how ridiculous he looks when he’s having one. (And, surprisingly, showing it to him will generally make him quit with the tantrum.)

So, one day I pulled it out and showed him.

Jamie: Stop it! It freakin’ me out!

———–

One day, Jamie walked in on Scot getting dressed and said “Wow! You really, really hairy!” Scot then offered to shave his  body hair and glue it to Jamie’s face.

Jamie: You gonna make me BARF!

Get used to the hair, kid. It’s your eventual destiny.

———–

I don’t remember exact context on this one, either. But again, it speaks for itself.

Jamie: I not a monkey buns! I a HOBO!

———–

When Jamie is lazy about doing something I ask him to do or doesn’t want to walk where I tell him to I’ll say something like “Do you have two broken limbs? No. You don’t. So go do it yourself.”  One day he walked up to me and asked me to pick him up and carry him. (He’s pushing 45 pounds, FYI). I refused.

Jamie: But I have 2 broken legs!

Good try, kiddo but the fact that you’re standing there negates your statement.