My Life of What Ifs

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Would you like to buy some lemonade?

Here is just one more example of how our summer has reeked of tradition. We have gone strawberry picking, and we hit the library as often as we can. We have gone treasure hunting at garage sales and today and tomorrow we are having a sale of our own. Complete with a lemonade stand, or excuse me, a lemanade stand.

Our neighbors across the street are having a garage sale as well. So their three kids and my two are hosting the lemonade stand, and what fantastic hosts they are! Don't plan on getting up the driveway before you are accosted by one of the sales team. "We have lemonade for 25 cents a glass, or a bottled water for 50 cents." They must be cute (well of course they are) because they are pulling in the cash today. They come running every time someone says "keep the change", or if someone isn't thirsty but gives them money anyway.

It's been a real treat to watch. The neighbor kids are 10, eight and four, with my two sandwiched between at almost nine and five. When we met them 6 years ago, two of the five kids didn't even exist. They are growing up together and are having the best time. So how lovely that they can experience entrepreneurship all together, and how lovely that they can take turns counting their cash every 15 minutes. But the best part for me is when I have to tell them every 15 minutes how much they will each get, and they run off to discuss all the ways to spend it.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Beautiful Girls

A few weeks back I took the girls strawberry picking with my good friend and her two kids. It was my girls first time at the patch, and I felt overwhelming joy that we were able to take part in such traditional fun. Just the simplicity of it, was awesome. We had such a great time, as you can see on their smiling faces.

MckLinky Blog Hop


Monday, July 27, 2009

Short Girls wraps you with tradition and truths unspoken

Check out my review of Bich Minh Nguyen's Short Girls at The Examiner.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Love me some dooce

As a fan of dooce I'm one of a million or more. But I feel I have an odd kinship with this woman who has no idea I exist. For one, her oldest daughter Leta is 23 days older than my daughter Jayden. Two, her sense of humor is right up my alley, although I think I'm funnier verbally than in my writing. Three, while I've never had post-partum depression I have had some bad episodes of the blues (my OBgyn's were always surprised that I never suffered from post-partum) and reading her posts about depression make me feel less alone, as she writes what I can only think and feel.

So, while this article is over a week old now, I still wanted to share it for those who may find it as interesting as I did. Heather Armstrong is inspiring, and I am proud that she represents powerful media moms, and that she remains herself while she conquers the media world.

Seriously? Can it get any better than this?

This headline should really be written in stone. Classic.,2933,529935,00.html

Kudos to Fox News.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Today we Mommy Blog about cooking

Have I mentioned that I have been a frequent visitor to our library this summer? The money I have saved (or used to pay bills) by borrowing movies, CD's, CD-Rom's and books this summer has been awesome to say the least.

When I see a movie I want to rent, or a book I want to read (chick lit anyone?) I just go to our library's website and search for it, then "request" it, and sometimes I wait in line a few days or weeks for it and sometimes it's ready the next day. All free of charge.

I've also been introducing the girls to the library and I admit it's been a challenge. They like to check out items and put them on a table and forget about them. But I have my tricks. Such as showing Ryann that she can borrow the Guinness Book of World Records from the library instead of paying $25 for it in the check out lane at Best Buy.

Today I told her we should look at kids cook books. An idea that brought a big smile to her face. She chose Cool Lunches to Make and Take, and together we chose to make Pasta Salad Presto. It was the one thing that we had all of the ingredients for, or that we could at least improvise.

So, like a good girl I will show you the ingredients I threw together :) Then I will show you my girls using knives, paring knives, but knives none the less. Next is their cute little hands, first Ryann's, then Jayden's. Anyone up for Finger Pasta Salad?

The girls used what fingers they had left to mix up the vegetables and cheese that we would add to the pasta (Mom handled the stove part). Then we made the dressing which the girls said was "stinky"! Yummmm, vinegar and garlic. Tasty to any five or nine year old.

When the pasta was cooked el dente (ok so it could have cooked a little longer, my bad) they mixed it all together! Yay we made pasta salad, I am Mom of the year!

"When can we eat it?" Jayden asked. "Well," I explained, "it has to chill in the fridge for an hour and that is just enough time for Daddy to get home from his softball game and cook us something to go with it." Yep, Mom of the year.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jennifer Weiner asks "What if?"

OK, I love Jennifer Weiner. I have read and have loved every one of her seven books. If you take a look at my page over at The Examiner you will see that she may be a favorite chick lit author of mine just based on how many times I mention her new book Best Friends Forever.

But now I know why I really like her. Why I really, really, like her. She said "What if?"

Jennifer Weiner says her book Best Friends Forever was written in part to answer the question "What if Thelma & Louise didn't have to die?"

All I can say is...

What if Jennifer Weiner doesn't know she's my new BFF?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our Favorite Recipe ~ Pizza Casserole

I was given this recipe almost 20 years ago by a dear friend. It has taken on many forms through the years depending on if the children were going to eat it or not. But it's simple and we love it.

You can exchange and omit ingredients for your own tastes. That's the beauty of it!

1 bag of wide egg noodles
1-1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 jar pizza sauce
1 8 oz. pkg mozzarella cheese
assorted pizza toppings of your choice
diced ham
banana peppers
green peppers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook noodles according to package instructions while browning ground beef.
Combine noodles and beef in a 9 X 13 baking dish, add jar of pizza sauce and mix until noodles and beef are well coated.

Next layer or mix in assorted pizza toppings.

Top finished creation with mozzarella cheese and bake at 350 until cheese is melted and casserole is warm throughout. Usually about 10 minutes.


MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, July 20, 2009


For the last four years we have planted a garden here at the Swann homestead. The first year was really trial and error, and there wasn't much yield at all, probably because we planted a little bit of EVERYTHING and we also planted it all THISCLOSE to one another. The next year we trimmed some dead branches around the garden and moved it over so it would get more sun. Not bad, but not great either.

Last year we cleaned up, or out, an area of old deck wood (which left some excellent soil underneath) and moved our garden up to our fence. Even though we had been using a rototiller each year to really turn the soil we still had our Halloween pumpkins from the year before self-seed and take over, therefore leaving us with a glorified pumpkin patch. The girls thought it was great.

It should also be said that every year so far, I would pick about 4 cucumbers and then the vines would die off. This made me very angry. Four cucumbers is not enough!

Anyway, this year I think we've finally got it going on. Lots of sun, lots of spacing, and after three previous years the soil is much more hospitable to our little green plants. OK, there are still some weeds here and there, specifically around the fence (we live in a rabbit haven and must keep those pesky rascals away!) but things are really taking off and I am so excited!

Above is a nice picture of the whole garden, weeds and all. Here are a few pictures of what we have to look forward to, and yeah I have picked four cucumbers already! And the vines are still going strong.

Another beauty of a cucumber is almost ready to be picked and our five tomato plants have so many green specimens on them. Turn RED already!!!!!

Over there to the right we have two very tiny, but very lovely watermelons!!! Yes, watermelons, can you believe it! They may actually make it this year, and we may actually be able to...gasp... eat them!!!!!

And here to the left are some sprouts on our one, yes, I said ONE, pumpkin plant! So while we should have at least a pumpkin for each of our girls, we won't need to open our own roadside stand.

We also have green beans, radishes, squash, onions, garlic, green peppers and chili peppers, (yes my husband was feeling brave) to look forward to eating.

I love having a garden. I am also glad that our fourth year could give us the biggest and best harvest yet. Because with me no longer living in a corporate world and the economy in the crapper, it's never been sweeter to go out back and grab a tomato and a cucumber that you grew all on your own.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Who woulda thunk it?

Today I had seven kids in my house. It was play date city. Things seemed to be going pretty well, and then Ryann asked if I had something that would record voices. I eagerly dug out my old fashioned mini tape recorder that I use to tape interviews (yeah, it's time to go digital) and explained to her how it was used. She went off with the other older girls from the posse and periodically they would return to have me say something funny that they could record and play back repeatedly.

I no more found myself in a good working groove when, of course, all hell broke loose. Jayden was screaming, Ryann was screaming, and the extra five kids are looking at me like "we didn't sign up for this!"

Well it turns out, the older girl posse elected the oldest girl of the bunch (a darling, just-turned-ten-year-old who's Mom reads this blog) to go into Jayden's room where she and the other younger girl posse were playing nicely. Oh I should clarify, they were playing nicely until the older girls kept playing a recording of me saying "Let me in!" outside the door a gazillion times. Well, the darling girl entered the younger posse's turf and recorded them talking not so nicely about the older girls. I believe my oldest was called "A Big Butt" by her younger sister. On tape.

Ryann was devastated. She was more devastated and less than impressed when I stated that she had probably called Jayden something as bad, if not worse, but luckily was not caught on tape uttering the words. So there was a lot of yelling, a lot of crying, and a lot of other kids again looking at me as if to say "ummm yeah, not what we had in mind for our Thursday afternoon."

So needless to say, I had to send half the gang back to their home turf, as the other members aren't from the neighborhood. I didn't feel their parents would appreciate me telling their nine, seven and almost five-year-old to hoof it home, plus I had corn dogs in the oven.

I never imagined that my children would be "wire-tapping" each other's rantings, but then again there are a lot of things I hadn't bargained for in this life. Such as staying up until one or two in the morning just have enough quiet to write a witty blog post. Or try to anyway. Good night.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy 40th to my Sweetie

He couldn't be more tolerant, more supportive, more loving, more handsome, more of a pain-in-my-ass or more perfect for me. He understands, he trusts, he tells it like it is, he stands up for himself, and has "a pair". He's a great husband, father, son, friend, employee and student, and he turned 40 today. I wish for him everything he's ever wanted, and more.

What if there was joy in shuffle?

Well there is joy in shuffle! I love to shuffle my iPod and see what comes up, and it's been so long since I've shared a random list of ten on my blog. The total song count is up to 5248, of course that includes a variety of Christmas songs as well as the hits of Hannah Montana, Miranda Cosgrove and the Jonas Brothers. In a perfect world those won't pop up, but if they do I will honor their presence with full disclosure. Feel free to comment on my iPod contents, laugh if you must, but at least I am brave enough to post my taste in music for all to see :)

1. Jump ~ Van Halen

I still love Van Halen. Old Van Halen. Van Lee Roth- the early days and Van Hagar. Jump is a classic, it's not my favorite by the group but a nice surprise to see pop up. When I hear this song I see red and black leopard print tight pants flying through the air. Good times.

2. How do you like me now ~ Toby Keith

Talk about total vindication, this song is for every underdog who made something of themselves and was able to flaunt it just by existing. I had a very good friend in high school who once told me that I wasn't going to amount to anything because I was going to start my college career at a community college. She has eaten her words, I forgive her.

3. Audio Delite at Low Fidelity ~ Black Eyes Peas

This song represents what happens when you load an entire album into iTunes even though you only really listen to a few of them. I had no idea what this song was, and now as I listen to it I am no more impressed.

4. Imagine ~ John Lennon

This song reminds me of high school too. I had a good friend who loved John Lennon, he probably still does I should ask. It was about the time that the Imagine documentary came out and it's still a very powerful song. You may say I'm a dreamer...

5. Speedway ~ Counting Crows

Speedway was almost in the same category as that Black Eyed Peas song above. The Counting Crows became popular when I was in college. Mr. Jones anyone? This song is off of the album This Desert Life, and my only big favorite on it is Hangin' Around. In fairness I decided to take a listen, and then I looked up the lyrics, and i really like this song. It's dark and contains a hint of drama, it's perfect for me.

6. Tennessee ~ Sugarland

Sugarland's debut album Twice the Speed of Life hit the ground at full speed, and every new album they release I like better than the last. I don't believe this song was released as a single, I like it, I don't love it.

7. Hot N Cold ~ Katy Perry

This song is so stinkin' catchy, I love it. I have tried not to burn it out, but I really love to listen to it, and my kids love it too, which I am not proud of :) Katy Perry has a gift with lyrics, I love this whole album.

8. So Hott ~ Kid Rock

We bought this CD for All Summer Long. Last year it was our annual camping trip theme song and my five year old (then four) can sing it word for word. This song I don't think I have really listened to, I am now, it's not really a Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 song.

9. It just comes natural ~ George Strait

This is a great song. George Strait has a gift for picking number ones. I say picking because he doesn't write any of his own songs and I have always had a little bit of trouble with that. But God bless him, it's working out just fine for him.

10. Knockin' Boots ~ Candy Man

An excellent example of 90's music. So classic I had to link to the video, enjoy the special appearance by Tone Loc.

P.S. Christmas music did not make an appearance until #13 and it was Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley. I made it all the way to #75 before Work This Out from High School Musical 2 made an popped up, so all in all it would have been a pretty good few hours of shuffle.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lesson Learned

With lots of good, there is always a little bad. Most of my bad is self-inflicted and usually seems trivial to everyone else. Yesterday was a fantastic day. My work on chick lit at the Examiner is really taking off and that is so exciting. I am making some awesome contacts which will help make the page more informative.

I also have two stories to cover on Monday for the newspaper, one is a feature! I will launch my website for my Rights & Licensing business as soon as I my friend finishes my logo, so everything is going really well for me. I even worked a few hours in a sweltering greenhouse today spacing mums, but I was with great people and it was a fun morning.

But then I go and do something that I felt comfortable doing and quickly realize it was a mistake. I'm not sharing what it is here, but let's just say I will not do it again. There is no sense in it, I just wish my lesson learned didn't have to rain on my parade. Unfortunately that is how my brain deals with these things. Hopefully I can distract myself enough from my stupidity and go back to enjoying my successes. Hopefully.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


This afternoon I tried something new, courtesy of my husband. After you remove your mind from the gutter I will tell you what I did.

As I write this I am sitting at the library. Remember the library? I'll leave returning to your roots and the simple things in life for tomorrow's post, but today it's all about peace and lack of noise.

As Cory put it when I told him I was running out for fabric softener (and a mocha, who am I kidding?) "Why don't you go to the library for a bit so you can get some work done?"

Seriously? I was feeling all lovey to the man for realizing that some time in a quiet work environment away from home would make me much more productive and creative when he decided to keep speaking. "Then maybe you won't such a crab ass all night trying to work when we're all at home." Thanks.

So I ran to Target for some Snuggle (and a mocha because honestly, whoever decided to put a Starbucks in a Target two miles from my house should be sainted). Then I headed on over to the library and here I am. Almost two hours later I have fine-tuned an article for the Examiner that I can't get to publish and I'm posting in my blog for the second day in a row. Progress!

Oddly I am listening to my iPod and don't find it distracting at all (Theory of a Deadman anyone?) but I'm pretty sure the woman reading a book in the comfy chair across from me finds my typing very distracting, but hey it's a public place and once I get this damn space bar fixed I won't have to hit it so hard. Oh, she's leaving, I think she knew I was blogging about her.

Oh, did I mention I also read this weeks People magazine? At the library. Free of charge. Again, who remembers what a library is? Anyone?

It's funny because when Cory is trying to study for a test and I feel the girls and I are being disruptive I often try to get him to go to the library, or anywhere other than the family room really. But he says we don't bother him. How can my big mouth and two mini-mes allow you to have a complete thought, let alone study world history? I can't tune them out when I am working, but apparently he can with great ease because his GPA offers proof. When I try to work at home the girls drive me batty with their bleeding and hunger, geesh!

Anyway, it's been a nice two hours and now I should head on home. Because while I enjoy the old school feel of the library I also enjoy my modern husband. And he should have dinner ready any time now.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Belated 4th & a Random Fact

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday weekend. Ours came with a lot of time for relaxing and some great fireworks. I had to share this picture. It is by far the best picture of fireworks I have ever taken. Actually it's the only picture of fireworks I have ever taken that has come out. I guess I've learned a thing or two about my camera.

I also learned an interesting (to me) random fact this weekend as I was perusing the latest issue of Readers Digest. I had no idea that the movie Love Story is to blame... eerrrr to thank... (sorry) for the abundance of friends I have and have had named Jennifer. It seems that there is direct correlation to that movie and the rising of that name to the #1 spot on the girls list. I have 8 friends on facebook alone with that name, and it was one my mother considered for me as well. It just goes to show how pop culture effects everything. Now I need to research who's to blame for all my friends named Heather. Kidding!