Wednesday, December 31, 2008

You see, the resolutions usually became WOOSED-OUT, LOSER, CLAPTRAP.

JCK used to be fond of making BIG, BOLD, NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS. Kind of like BOLD, BREATHLESS, LOVE...but, not so much. You see, the resolutions usually became WOOSED-OUT, LOSER, CLAPTRAP. In other words, the resolutions were no sooner made than they tanked. So, for the last several years JCK just threw another whiskey back on New Year's Eve and hoped for the best.

This year...JCK wants to shake it up a little. Challenge herself. It's been a good year overall. She's been writing regularly, but best of all has fallen in the lap of goodness with the amazing blogging community of daring do writers. And she's been lap dancing ever since. Because it feels good. Of course, it is all sticky yumminess when people like what she writes, but the best thing is that she's just doing it for herself...writing. It's something she's wanted to do for a long, long time and strangely has never been part of her New Year's resolutions. She thanks all of you for your encouragement and getting her ass off the couch of dissed dreams.

So...JCK is making 2 solid resolutions. They will challenge her greatly.

  1. To get fit & feel healthier: exercising regularly will be a part of her life once again.

  2. To submit a piece that she's written: a poem, an article, anything- a chapter (that's reaching, but it's good to reach, no?) 12 times in 2009. That's once a month. Submitting for publication.

JCK is holding herself to these 2 resolutions...

At this time next year she will have stronger arms, legs, and sit taller in her office chair due to her buttocks being less flat and higher.

At this time next year she will have something published besides her blog, or least 12 rejection slips. Because rejection means an effort has been put forth - a risk taken. JCK needs to take risks. She's getting a little too comfy.

Here's to 2009! May you make resolutions that seem just out of your reach...

Happy New Year!

Note: Did you think that JCK was going to give up her caffeine, whiskey or chocolate? Naaaaa....

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Monday, December 29, 2008

And then the Doctor reels backwards toward JCK's open chart and double-checks JCK's age.

JCK has been getting kicked in the GUT lately. As in...Major Gut Kicking. Kick her to the curb, down the drain...kicking. It all started a little over a week ago at the Urgent Care facility down the road. JCK had ventured there in a state of pain, accompanied by her stalwart companion, her husband, E. JCK had been feeling like crapola. You see, the flu had begun to set in and there was such a strong pressure upon her chest that if she didn't know better...she would have thought her breasts were being flattened by an elephant. She was at the Urgent Care facility to rule out pneumonia. As it turned out, the chest x-ray revealed a clean chest cavity, void of any bacteria or other such matters. But, we're getting ahead of the story...

Apparently, chest compression pain is taken seriously. JCK was ushered back to a room quite quickly, after the initial questioning by the nurse. JCK then waited some...time before the doctor knocked on the door and came into the examining room. He asked the usual questions, listened to JCK's heart, looked in her eyes, ears and throat, etc., etc.

Doctor: When did the chest pressure begin?

JCK: Last night. Yesterday afternoon I started having a cough and then the pressure feeling began in my chest. Now my back hurts when I cough. My 4 year old daughter woke up yesterday with a high fever.

Upon JCK's revelation of having a 4 year old daughter, the doctor's eyebrows lurch up past his hairline. And then the Doctor reels backwards toward JCK's open chart and double-checks JCK's age.


JCK manages a weak smile. JCK knows she looks a little grayer than usual. She was feeling so badly that she didn't even bother to throw on a little blusher or lipstick. She is....a bit drab. The grey turtleneck doesn't help. It only appears to heighten the washed out look she is sporting. Almost like cover.

But, JESUS! Isn't this L.A? Older parents abound here. It is almost de riguer, for God's sakes. Well, apparently not according to Doctor Ageism. It is almost as if he has uttered TSK TSK.

Doctor: You are still getting your periods?

JCK: Yes. I'm FUCKING FERTILE FRIEDA, baby! (Note: JCK did not say this, but she likes to think she did.)

Doctor: Is there any possibility that you could be pregnant?

JCK: No. None whatsoever.

Doctor: Tubes tied? Birth control pills? Knife taken to your husband's privates? (Note: The good doctor did not say this, but JCK likes to think that he did.)

JCK shakes her head...NO.

Doctor: Well, I don't like to take any chances. I'm going to have you do a urine test before you have the chest x-ray.

JCK: Oh, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! (Note: JCK also did not say this, but she likes to think she did.)

Conclusion: JCK was not suffering from pneumonia or pregnancy, but apparently is fucking old.


Today, JCK went to the park with her children and some friends. JCK was sitting on a bench for a moment to watch her children frolic in the California sun.

Little Girl: Whose grandmother are you? Whose children are your grandchildren?


On most days JCK feels very good about her silvery mane. Her mantle. Her au naturale coiffure. It suits her. It is ...freeing. She will probably never go back to dyeing it again. It is a pretty color and she gets compliments on it frequently. By women. Not, apparently, from men and children. However, there are moments like these in which JCK has serious DOUBTS about her ability to ward off this commentary on her AGE. And the wisdom in choosing the silver streak lifestyle. Luckily the moments usually pass. It's just that...this's taking her longer to get her groove back.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

My greatest wish is for them to be friends when they are grown

There was a moment this afternoon in which we watched our children. Standing in our bedroom, looking out the window at them on the front lawn. GIRL and BOY laying down in the freshly mown grass, side by side, staring up into the branches of our large camphor tree. Fluid motion, the two of them at once still and then up to run and fling their arms askew, their faces a cinematic vision of rapid expression.

Later we took them to the Rose Bowl and let them ride their new bikes all over the back parking lot. It was the perfect place to ride pedal to the medal, and there were kids and parents everywhere. It astonishes me that they have taken to their new bikes with training wheels so easily. They were just on trikes...days ago, and now those small bikes are almost forgotten.

It is as if BOY has tasted of the freedom that is just around the corner. He is at one with the bike, flying into the wind, ignoring my calls to STOP and turn around and ride back. On the way home he suggested that we just drop him off HERE so that he could ride his bike the rest of the way home. We were still a mile away. Already, when I caution him to not go too far, I see the shuttered look of a boy born to fly being asked to come back down to earth.

GIRL always following her brother, pumps her legs around the pedals in deep concentration. She is on her way to finding her own rhythm. Often she is thrown by having to stop and start, yet again trying to build momentum to keep the bike moving forward. She of the wind whipped pink cheeks and ruby lips that will someday get her in trouble.

My greatest wish is for them to be friends when they are grown. Good friends. Laughing together. Leaning on each other. A solid foundation when life gets unsteady. And it always does.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Waiting for the desire to write is not always the best path to take.

I sit here in my quiet room, sunlight dancing across the ceiling, wind whipping the trees outside. It is quiet, but for the winter onslaught of cold air bumping against the windows, mixed with the distant hum of a lawn mower. I am unused to this. This...this...ALMOST SILENCE. E has taken the kids out to ride their new bikes. Santa was good this year. Big kid bikes with training wheels and cool helmets. BOY & GIRL have taken to biking as if it is the ONLY choice. And for them, it is.

I am under the heating blanket, with heavy socks and a fleece jacket topping my sweater. I feel that I have been cold for body still unbalanced from the flu, hell let's just call it the plague that has passed through our house. But, I can breathe again, and the world is once more full of color. There was a period of time where I thought I wasn't going to come back, that there wasn't a place to return to - that it was beyond my grasp. But, that was the depression talking - that black, messy muck that descends and takes advantage of a mind thrown a bit askew from sickness.

There is so much ahead to write about, yet it will take a bit to get there. My fingers are slow to tap across the keys and the thoughts seem just out of reach. I find that writing has many bumps in the road. A bit like stumbling around in the dark. And sometimes, much as I don't feel like going through the motions, it is best that I do. Waiting for the desire to write is not always the best path to take. Like anything, you simply have to do it. No matter the plodding and hacking through the words - stuck like glue to the roof of my mouth. A bitter aftertaste.

It was a lovely Christmas, yet this year I am ready to move on. To shake the trees and see what fruits will bear. First though, I will take one more nap...

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From our house to yours...Merry Christmas!

It's finally beginning to feel a bit like Christmas... GIRL has been wrapping presents for days. These are her masterpieces under the tree. She has taken things around the house, wrapped them up with love, and designated them for each of us. BOY got in on the action, too. They just slay me sometimes.

Yesterday, BOY, GIRL and I made gingerbread cookies. As you can see, the sprinkles were a bit heavy handed. The cookies perhaps, inedible. Yet, we all had fun. A couple have been left out for Santa tonight.

E and I have a tradition with our Christmas tree topper. We don't use a star or an angel. No, we use...the joker. Somehow, a little tomfoolery seems apropos.

My very favorite ornaments belonged to my grandparents. Some have broken, but I still use them. Arranging them in this crystal bowl. I love the splashes of color. And... even broken, I just can't bear to part with them.

I always smile when I unwrap this gingerbread man. He's from my childhood - made out of socks and bits and pieces.

From our house to yours....Merry Christmas!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Please carry on... JCK hopes to return soon.

It started with a small GIRL waking up with a fever and croaky voice on Wednesday. She has now bounced back other than a lingering cough. Yeah!


JCK has the flu. She is trying to rest with 2 small children who have been cooped up for 3 days. Including a very ACTIVE BOY who has had minimal time running outside. It has become not a matter of how much TV they are watching, but how much TV they are not watching. Thank goodness for Noggin and Magic Schoolbus videos.

Please carry on... JCK hopes to return soon. But, this flu virus has kicked her ass up and down. JCK hopes to tell the demoralizing story of blatant ageism at the Urgent Care facility, but does not have the strength to continue along that vein at the present time...

Be well!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Meteorites and tall buildings

GIRL: What is a meteorite that doesn't hit the earth?

JCK: What?

GIRL: A meteorWRONG.


BOY: Mommy, can we go see the Vampire State Building?

*******Photo credit: Google Images

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I said a silent prayer of gratitude

This afternoon as I sat inside with BOY & GIRL, the sound of Christmas carols playing in the background, I was conscious of the beauty in our cozy afternoon. GIRL sat at her small table painting a bird house that is in itself a painting. And BOY ever the builder/inventor was creating car after car with his Legos. I folded laundry. A task, on most days, that can seem burdensome. Yet, today it was soothing to fold each little item belonging to my children; setting them into neat piles while sipping hot tea.

As my eyes drifted past our lit Christmas tree to the cloudy day outside, I saw a teenage boy walk past, shoulders hunched from the unexpected bitter wind digging through his shirt. He wore no coat. And I took a long breath and thought about all the people out in the cold today and everyday. All of those people who don't have Christmas lights let alone food and shelter. So very many.

I said a silent prayer of gratitude. Then I walked over to GIRL & BOY and kissed their sweet heads. I needed to touch them. To feel their warm cheeks, safe in a house they can call home. GIRL so intent on her art project. And BOY, who had joined GIRL at the table, sitting with her just because he wanted to keep her company.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why is it that we are so bloody hard on ourselves as mothers?

GIRL and I went to a lovely birthday party yesterday afternoon for a little friend of GIRL's who was celebrating her 4th birthday. It was windy and cold, so the party shifted indoors. There were six little girls, giddy with birthday party madness and creative play. The adults sat in the kitchen at the big dining table and enjoyed fresh guacamole, bean dip, and ceviche to die for. Along with some wine, which really added to the festive occasion. My friend is a wonderful hostess and incredibly talented. She had handmade the invitations, which were adorned with pretty blue ribbon and hand delivered to our door. She made a kitty cat cake with gum drop eyes and strands of black licorice for whiskers. Just before we sang Happy Birthday, she placed a simple crown wreath of greens on her daughter's head and spoke of the richness her daughter had brought to their lives and how happy they were to have each of the little girls there to share in the celebration. It was...simply beautiful, and I loved how she incorporated a ritual in which she included all of us.

Later that evening, as I walked with my friend to our annual Christmas Tree Lane celebration she said, "Oh, JCK, I don't know if I'm cut out for this mother stuff." She recounted how she had lost her temper with her daughter earlier in the day as she was preparing for the party, and that she thought she had ruined her daughter's special day. She went on to speak of being afraid she had squashed her daughter's enthusiasm, and that her daughter would probably remember forever how her mom had been so harsh with her on the day of her 4th birthday party.

I was taken aback. Not that she had doubts about her mothering. We all have those! The doubts about ourselves and our capabilities. But, she was so incredibly hard on herself. Here she was trying to get the house ready for a party with a 4 1/2 month old baby on one hip, and a very excited little birthday girl pinging off the walls in anticipation. Plus, her husband who is normally home to help, and is a great hands-on dad, had a commitment that caused him to be away from the house for a few hours prior to the start of the party. I think this earns her one ticket to Mommy Gets Snappy.

My immediate reaction was to tell her, and I believe this, that she had not ruined her daughter's birthday. Far from it. Her little girl was the very picture of happy birthday excitement. But, my friend was still hanging on to her guilt. And, the belief that she had damaged her daughter in some way that would scar her for life.

She's over it, but YOU are not, I said to my friend.

She agreed with me, yet...she couldn't let it go.

That conversation has stayed with me. Why is it that we are so bloody hard on ourselves as mothers? We've placed the bar so high that no wonder we're "failing." Sure, the better days of parenting are the days in which we can remain calm and collected and not shriek at our children. That is always the goal. But, it doesn't mean we always reach it. No one wants to shriek at their children, but it happens. More frequently than we would like to admit to ourselves or to our friends. Yet, I don't believe that it scars our children for life. Especially if we apologize afterwards. Then it can become a lesson. A lesson in learning how to say that we are sorry, and that even grown-ups aren't perfect.

Recently another friend talked of how she had "maligned" her children in some way.

I'm not getting the Mother of the Year Award, she said.

Well, who is?

Where is this coming from - this quest for being soooooooo perfect. Who says we have to be a bottomless font of grace and nurturance, anyway? Let's leave that to the saints, of which there are few. Because, truth be told, all of us are flawed as human beings. Becoming a mother shouldn't mean we have to be perfect. Most of us do the very best we can. All of us have off days. And some of them are really, really off. But, we get up and do it again. And usually we make it better. That is what I'd like to hold on to tonight. Because, I need to hear this, too. I recognize the voice filled with guilt and self-recrimination. It is one that beats at my door. For, as quick as I am to leap to the defense of a fellow mother, I also carry the burden of that voice of unreasonable expectations. Let's make that voice stop. Now.

*Madonna and Child with Saint Anne
Masolino and Masaccio
Florence, ITALY about 1424

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Survey says...readers weigh in with their pantry and menu planning tips

JCK wanted to know how the other half lives. How do others organize their meal planning. Do they sit down every Sunday night and plan a week's worth of menus? Do they see what's on sale and in season and plan their meals around those foods? JCK wanted to know how they keep things varied and healthy when they serve their family dinner. Do they plan ahead? Do they use the crock pot? Do they have favorite web sites that they go to for easy, quick family friendly recipes? JCK wanted to know how they save money at the grocery store. Should she use coupons? And what about fun, creative lunches? Lunches that JCK can pack for her husband and children that will be delicious and do not have to be reheated.

JCK asked and here they reveal their secrets...

Memarie Lane said...
I do weekly meal planning, but I HATE it. I've been meaning to make a sort of regular schedule to help me. Something like this:

sunday- some kind of sandwich (tuna melts, blt's sloppy joes, etc.)
monday- something with pasta
tuesday- something asian
wednesday- something mexican

I also troll When I find a recipe I like, I email it to myself, and I put those in a folder. I've learned to menu plan for the week, draw up a list and go from there.

Lisa of Mama Milton reveals: I buy some staples from bulk to save cash, and shop 1x or 2x a week at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods to stock up on other things. Trader Joe's has tons of delicious, easy sauces that pair easily with, gulp, chicken or shrimp or pork chops. (They've been cheaper lately.) I keep those on hand for easy nights.

Also, check out BeanPlate, Beanpaste's new creation. She has fabulous new recipes to try on the cheap; I think I'll be grabbing from there.

And this time of year, I'm not afraid to roll out some casseroles or soups that I can make ahead of time.

I google Cooking Light and play from there.

Jennifer reveals: Well I plan a menu each week, but I don't know how healthy it is. I do know that 5 Dollar Dinners shares menus of healthy meals for $5 per meal for a family of 4.

The Philosopher Mom reveals: Oh, this is going to be tedious reading, I'm afraid. But you asked...

Menu-planning is an absolute must. (Note: this belongs in the "Do as I say, not as I do" department.) I've gotten a lot of mileage out of "Once a Month Cooking," either using it as the program suggests, or just doing certain recipes, which I then have on-hand in the freezer. They are not all casseroles, either! So you should definitely check that one out.

What I do is make a menu for 10 days at a time...I'll usually invite one or more kids to "consult" on the menu development, which gives them a sense of investment (and therefore less complaining). I write the menus on a grid that takes up the top 2/3 of a piece of printer paper lengthwise; the bottom third is for my grocery list, which I compile as I'm making up the menus. Now, when I go to the neighborhood grocery store, I shop the perimeter, taking advantage of all the specials. If there are some not on my menu, I replace what's currently on the menu with recipes from the specials. That's the money-saver part. Then I go to Sam's with the rest of the list and fill in.

I have found that if I know what I'm making -- and especially if I can start it ahead of time -- there are virtually no blahs. It's the thinking that brings on the blahs, for me.

PhD in Yogurtry: I do a lot of "rice and gravy" meals, creole chicken or sausage over steamed rice (my cajun heritage). Browned beef cuts with sauteed onions, bouillon, fresh parsley - gravy over rice. (This last dish was my tried and true "best way to a man's heart" recipe.. worked.every.time)

A lot of pasta with my homemade garlic, diced tomato and fresh parsley sauce.

Meals in a pinch: canned refried beans, shredded cheese, and homemade salsa on soft tacos or big round tostadas. Sometimes I make a quickie black bean dip: pour black beans into microwave bowl, add shredded cheese, chopped white onion, chopped jap peppers, etc. Serve with chips. Hearty and filling when you want to snack your way thru dinner (esp handy when drinking rita's beforehand)

I'm not big on brands, but Hunts diced tomatoes are a staple for both the creole, the pasta, and the texmex (salsa). Keeping shredded texmex cheese also important staple in my fridge. Fresh cilantro and parsley are two must haves from week to week.

Suzanne from A View from Table One reveals: I subscribe to email newsletters from Betty Crocker and Kraft Foods, both of which send recipes for easy, quick meals. I also get ideas for meals when I troll or happen to catch 5 minutes of one of their shows during lunch hour, etc.

I'm also terrible about coupons, but I do look at the supermarket's own newspaper insert when I enter the store to look over what they have on sale, that can inspire a meal if something is a particularly good buy.

I also love my crockpot...pot roast, chili, stew, are super quick and easy to do: load the ingredients in the morning, turn it on low, and by dinner time you have a tasty meal that has cooked itself!

Ms. Maxwell from Welcome to Schaereville reveals: Favorite recipes (currently about 50) are printed out on letter-sized paper, placed in plastic sheet protectors and then in a 3-ring binder. They are organized by ethnicity (Mr. O has lived all over the world so there's quite a variety). I'm known to grab that magic binder on my way out the door in the morning when I realize it's my turn to shop on the way home that evening.

Jenn at Juggling Life reveals: Sometimes I plan weekly and sometimes I don't. You can figure out which works better.

I have a friend who keeps a list of last-minute dinners for which she always has the ingredients in her pantry taped to the inside door of the pantry. It's genius--I don't know why I don't do it.

What really worked for me when my kids were little was that I completely prepped dinner in the morning, including making a salad and sometimes even getting the dishes out so it was quick to set the table. I had so much more time at 10 a.m. than I did at 5 p.m.

The Rambler reveals: I just found Gourmet Mom on the go. I put her banner on my page. She had interesting recipes. Some looked very easy and doable...

She's Just another Manic Mommy reveals: I don't plan meals. I have tried periodically and it goes much more smoothly. Also, my husband and 1 son are VERY picky eaters, so variety is not my friend. Every week goes something like this:

Sunday Dinner - something big and time consuming.

Monday - Chicken and Rice

Tuesday - Sunday Left-overs

Wednesday - Easy Pasta

Thursday - More Chicken or maybe a meatloaf or tacos (try ground turkey!)

Friday - Pizza Night!

Saturday - Skip lunch. Convince Andy to take the kids to a 'family dining restaurant.'

Calicobebop reveals: I know I'm most likely far too structured, but my daughter is four and it's just the two of us. I have the same menu every week. Ok, maybe we'll switch it up a little on the weekend, but Sun-Thurs it's the same menu. I always choose the "protein" part and my daughter gets to pick the "veggie" part. Works for us!

Susanne from Creative Mother Thinking reveals: Two things you should put into a google search: "Leanne Ely", and her book "saving dinner". That has been really, really helpful.

But then, I can't really say anything about it because I just buy the same things every week, and then my husband makes delicious interesting meals out of them. It's like magic. All I got to do is grocery shop and wash the dishes. (And no, you can't have him, sorry.)

Janet from Adventures in the 32-Aker Wood: I rarely do the cooking. I did make a lovely potato soup the other night (my mother's recipe). I did a lot of the cooking in my first marriage, but he was not a vegetarian. I know how to make all kinds of lovely MEAT dishes. The Mountain Man is a vegetarian, so almost all my recipes are useless. Plus I hate cooking (possibly part of the problem with the first marriage, but a small part).

We use the Moosewood cookbooks a lot. I don't use coupons either, because like you, they're either for stuff I don't buy, or for brand names that are more expensive even with the coupon than the store brand is.

We do a lot of burritos, spinach lasagna, spaghetti with a variety of sauces, simple stuff really, because DeBoy eats almost nothing except chicken nuggets and cereal. The Queen is slightly better but not by much.

However, do you know about Tater Tot casserole? It may have too many preservatives. I don't look at the label on tater tots and it calls for cream of mushroom soup, ground beef, and cheddar. VERY Southern!

Jessica reveals: I had some friends talking about this site. The same friends also have signed up for some sort of farmshare thing....where you get fresh seasonal fruits and veggies from a local farm once a week or so, and it helps save the environment. Just a couple of thoughts. I personally buy a lot of stuff from Trader Joes...some frozen and some fresh, and just shoot from the hip. The evil empire of Martha Stewart also has that daily food...little magazine thing, and it is mostly healthy stuff and quick and easy, and that magazine comes with a grocery list in the back of the magazine.

Barbra of Not Just Barbra reveals: I like to serve fish at least once a week, and we do chicken one or twice. The Hubby likes to grill some beef from time to time. We make sure we have 1-2 vegetables or a veggie and a starch, and some kind of fruit. We are simple eaters. The Hubby wishes it was more exciting, but he knew what he was getting into when he married me!

Minnesota Matron: Once a week, I make a HUGE amount of salad mix -- lettuces with carrots, onions, cauliflowers and red peppers. Then I cut tomatoes and cucumbers and put them in their own containers. Any point, John and I have instant salad with or for dinner, all week long. There is NEVER NO salad in the house, period. Our children adore (sorry) chicken satays with a peanut sauce. We eat Connie's frozen pizza. Sometimes, we have popcorn with parm for dinner while watching a movie. Kids sometimes eat nachos (just plain chips and cheese) for dinner. Cheesoritos - tortilla with cheese, baked or microwaved, are a hit. Omlettes for dinner. Chicken noodle soup. Spaghetti.

Lunch ideas: little yogurts, sliced apple with lemon sprinkled on to keep from browning, sliced lemons, cheese/crackers, chips & salsa, turkey rolled and pinned with a toothpick (they love that one), cheesoritos, fruit snacks, grapes, mac & cheese in a thermos, pretzels & cheese as a main course. . . . we shuffle through those! and yogurt :-)

Mama B from My Little Soapbox reveals: I'm a meal planner though most of the time its just in my head. We start with the basic framework of 7 meals. I pull things from the pantry and freezer then flesh out the missing things at the store.

My staples are all raw: flour, potatoes, buttermilk, carrots etc. That way I know that worst case scenario I'll pull a beef roast from the freezer and make it into something with carrots, potatoes and biscuits.

I tend to make food that reheats well. We also like quick meals of Indian inspired curry - they are my go to for meals under 40 minutes.

A big beef roast will roll into beef & vegetable stew for a second meal. Cooking one night with a bit of prep after dinner gains me a "free" night.

I love my crockpot and a simple dinner is to throw in a pork roast cover it with BBQ *we have a no HFC one we LOVE* several hours we shred it into bbq sandwiches.

Stephanie from Adventures in the Pacific Northwest reveals: We plan the menu on Sunday.We go through the fridge and pantry, make a list of what meals we can make out of the food we have on hand and assign those meals to a day of the week. Then, we determine what else we need from the store to create the remaining meals required. We pack our lunches every day, so most of the grocery items are for lunch, snacks and staples like milk and eggs.

Our menu is boring and usually unvaried as we usually have the same items and we buy things in bulk and on sale to save money.

Sunday it begins again, and often we have cheese slices, summer sausage and sliced bread or popcorn for dinner, because it's easy.

Jason, from The Jason Show reveals: In defense of coupons: One must only choose the coupons for things that one would ordinarily feed one's family--that is key. True, there are many coupons for a lot of junk food, but if you look out for them you will find coupons for milk, cheese, meat, cereal, bread, and produce. Plus there are great coupons for shampoo, deodorant, etc., and if you match sales to coupons you can get them for much cheaper than you would elsewhere, like Target.

Also--watch the ads for special deals, like buy a certain quantity of something, and get a dollar amount of your order. For example, Ralph's had the big cans of coffee that I buy on sale--50% off, and if I bought four I got $5.00 off my grocery order. Big savings! When something non-perishable or freezable is on sale, buy lots of it. And buy generic brands, too!

Happy Geek reveals: I do a weekly menu. I find it works for me because I do all the prep I can in the morning when my kids are fresher and not quite as wild. i.e., chop veggies, make the casserole, prep the salad, marinate the meat etc etc. Then when cooking comes there is less to do and less chance of me flinging my knife at one of my kids.

One other way I save money, is when I make a casserole I always make two and freeze one. That way, there is something in the freezer for days from hell and we are less likely to eat out. Canada has very few coupons so I don't coupon much at all. I am a HUGE believer in Costco. We know what is cheaper there, and what's cheaper at the grocery store and shop accordingly, but their produce is consistently good quality and we try to buy non-perishable staples when they are on sale and stock up.

For lunches - i pack my hubby lots of finger food type stuff. Pea pods, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, beef jerky, (eww) homemade muffins, banana bread, and pepperoni sticks. I make him lots of tortilla roll-ups, clubhouse sandwiches, etc. He also loves yogurt and lots of fruit. He's practically a vegetarian (except for the beef jerky which I cannot figure out) so his lunches are pretty fruit and veggie orientated.

San Diego Momma reveals: for lunch, I sometimes pack whole wheat tortilla wraps with diced veggies.

Tootsie Farklepants reveals: Meal planning? Well, since there are only about 6 things that the entire family will eat so that I don't have to make multiple meals, my planning is easy. And I grocery shop for about four days worth because inevitably I'll have to go back for something midweek.

For savings: I use my Vons club card and try to buy whatever brand is at a discount. I've gotten really good at that. Plus the club card also applies to produce and meats.

If I really need to save money one week I'll make a giant pot of spaghetti sauce and have that a couple of nights and then make a lasagna with whatever is left over. You can get about 4 nights of dinners out of one pot of sauce.

Must have in the pantry: cereal.

I always keep the fixins for BLT's in the fridge. It's my back up emergency dinner.

Ellyn from a Little Piece of Heaven reveals: I sort of plan meals. I go shopping and buy all the things for certain meals. Then I know at some point during the week I will have meals A B C. I also keep things on hand for meals on the fly. Beans, pastas, tortilla shells and varied meats. That way in a pinch I can put together something quick and easy.

At the grocery store, I shop sales and stock up. I am not a coupon clipper either. We have a big freezer in the basement. If chicken is on sale I will buy a couple months worth. I also buy bulk at Sams Club and repackage all of our purchases when we get home into family sized portions. It saves us a lot of money.

For lunches, my family loves wraps. For some reason all the same ingredients in a tortilla is better than on bread. They are weird like that.

You didn't ask for it, but my favorite thing to do with chicken is chicken parmesan. It is quick and easy to put together. And my family loves it.

I'm Mrs. Brightside reveals: You have inspired me to take on these topics every Monday! I am an experienced mom of 3 with good planning in my genes - I hope my posts will be helpful!

JCK thanks all of the people who left these helpful tips!

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

That her son is freebasing...the Christmas season.

If JCK didn't know better, she'd be convinced. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. That her son is freebasing...the Christmas season. Snorting it whole. SUCH bouncing and shrieking and mind blowing chatter has come to rain down on JCK's abode, that indeed she is truly going mad. And this frenzy is only exacerbated by the BOY's stuffed animal dog, Puppy, who of several days prior started barking. While barking alone can make THE BEST of women weary, this high pitched YIP YIPPING is surely going to send JCK over the edge...

Hyper was not even invented before BOY came along. JCK knows this in her marrow. And if they all survive the Christmas holiday, which appears doubtful unless great gulps of whiskey and chocolate are imbibed simultaneously by JCK more frequently than is prudent, it is surmised that BOY will be VICTORIOUS! With his little sister, GIRL, stoically by his side. Their parents...what's left of them... will be mere shadows of themselves. Well, except for possible bloating from whiskey & chocolate.

And if ye believe that the GIRL is innocent, let JCK assure you...she is not! What BOY delivers in shrieks and mad pinball body bouncing, GIRL carries herself forward with WHINING. Such as to render her mother...almost dead, sadly not deaf, if she has to hear it once more.

And then the sucker punch...for despite these volatile eruptions and mind numbing energetic outbursts...they are terribly, utterly, adorable. And for THAT JCK is the biggest mush head in the world. Albeit a mush head with occasional migraines...

GIRL: Well, you see, see, we're the sneak team.

JCK: The SNEAK team?

BOY: Yes.

JCK: What's the SNEAK team?

GIRL: That's when we go into the kitchen like...when you are IN THE SHOWER and SNEAK STUFF, like...MILK!


JCK says trying to look stern: I see.

BOY: You want to be on THE SNEAK TEAM, mom?

JCK: Can I?

BOY: Oh, yes. But, YOU have to get up in THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT! And sneak into the kitchen.

JCK: Oh. I already do that.

*****Photo of Sneaky Robotic BOY and Witchy GIRL practicing the art of disguise. Halloween 2008.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A little verbosity from BOY & GIRL

The full gamut can be heard around Casa de Motherscribe these days.

JCK, BOY & GIRL all going down the slide together...ending in a bit of a tangle.

GIRL: What a commotion!


BOY: Mommy! YOU'RE about to get RICH!

JCK: I am? How will THAT happen, BOY?

BOY: Because Daddy's working ALL the TIME. And, he's getting STRONGER and STRONGER.


GIRL: I know A LOT about strangers. Well...I know PRETTY much. Not as much as a GROWN-UP knows, but I KNOW A LOT for a girl.


BOY: Mommy, I LOVE YOU SO...MUCH! I love you more than THE TRAFFIC LIGHTS!


GIRL: Mommy, we DON'T SAY Damn IT!

********Comic courtesy of Google Images.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Motherscribe wants to interview YOU!

JCK is quite excited! JCK has an idea germinating. An interview series in which she probes you about your life. Topics will include: having balance in one's life, sense of self/loss of self, aging, parenting, juggling outside work and home life, regrets if any, wisdom passed down through generations, sanity saving tips, feminism, marriage, what excites you, and other issues perhaps of a racy nature. (The idea is for the interviewee to feel comfortable, so if there is a question that you do not feel comfortable answering, that is OK, too.) If you'd like to be interviewed, please leave a comment and JCK will be in touch with you.

I am interested in all perspectives, so if you are single and would like to be interviewed, please jump in. Also, I can whip up some questions for the male readers. So, don't be shy...

You do not have to have a blog to be interviewed.

And... you can use a pseudonym, if so inclined.

Equal time for all here at Casa de Motherscribe.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you do not have an email address enabled & attached to your comments, please go to my profile page and email me directly.

***** Cloud image courtesy of Google Images

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tis' the season for bedtime high jinks

The lights are strung up outside. The scent of fresh pine colors the air. The tree is aglow with enormous cheer. The children race around with excitement, eager to help... A few things break, as is par for the course with 4 and 5 year old helpers. Tummies are fed. Stories are read. And then it is bedtime...

Ahem. Let's just call a spade a spade. Tis' the season for bedtime high jinks. An exhausted BOY just won't wind down. There is much shouting and giggling and gleeful rabble rousing. His sister partakes in the havoc, because...well, why not? BOY must once again run into the living room to view "the most beautiful tree in the land."

I just want to sit and look at it again, mom.

Finally, after time with dad in front of the tree, they wander back to BOY's room. Dad sits and listens to the BOY as he weaves imaginative tales. And the mom? She's done in. She's out for the count. Yet, as she listens to the rise and fall of BOY's voice a room away, she remembers a time when she yearned for evenings like this. Oh, she did... Except, in her fantasy she wasn't this tired...

Picture courtesy of Google Images

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Friday, December 5, 2008

like a rivulet's trek through the mid-winter frost...

sometimes i feel it for a moment
between breaths and stacking
dishes neatly side by side
in a washer that is full.

or sitting wedged between
a blonde boy and girl
of brunette locks, both
attentive to my reading voice.

i grasp and grapple
trying to catch the elusive
rope to somewhere, which
doesn't have a destination i know.

if i could only catch these
beats, extend them, stretch
on past what i think will
carry me forward wholly.

is it even possible? to
live within the lines and
remember all that is tiered
and placed on my plate.

perhaps a fool's merry dance
when the answer lies at
my tangled feet, just here
let me. tied too tight.

like a rivulet's trek through
the mid-winter frost, slow
to the eye, step by step
toward the shore of grace.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A GIRL's gotta have her jewels...

Mommy, mommy, mommy. I have to tell you something. You see, this is what I do. I put ALL of my JEWELS in my purse. See, let me open my purse and show you. See all of my JEWELS are in there. So, I put all of my JEWELS in my purse. That way, if I've got more JEWELS than I can carry or they're too heavy, I have a way of carrying them. Isn't that great?!

A GIRL's gotta have her jewels...

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Monday, December 1, 2008

What BOY did in school today...

Dinner table conversation...

E: BOY, what was the most fun thing you did at school today?

BOY: Ohhhh, it was GREAT! We juggled light bulbs in movement class.

E: Juggled light bulbs.

BOY: YES! On trampolines. And we bounced higher and higher and higher...

Addendum: This event did not happen. This springs from BOY's amazing and vivid imagination.

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