Monday, January 29, 2007

The phone rang today and it meant…

Climb the attic stairs.

Drag down the bassinet.

Wash the car seat cover.

Fold tiny clothes.

Call Aaron’s mom and ask her to come quick.

Get Jenn and Melodi to debrief me on formula and bottles.

It sounds like they are talking Japanese to me.

This will be so new in so many ways.

The new little “he” will be here in a couple hours!

That silly ol’ phone!

Saturday, January 20, 2007


The sound of the phone ringing used to be just that…


Now it means…

Can we walk around in your house?

Can we buy your house?

Can you put your things in boxes and leave?

Every time the house gets shown and I rush the kids out the door (after I’ve hidden dirty dishes in the oven) Hayden always cries.

“I will miss my blankie. I will miss my stuffed animals.”

He thinks cleaning the house and leaving it means we sold it…and everything in it.

Anson and I do our best to go over again and again that we’re going right back home and no one will take his blankie...but he doesn't believe us until he walks back in the door and sees for himself.

The sound of the phone ringing used to be just that…


Now it means…

We’re bringing you a baby.

A cute little brown baby.

Get all excited.

Go tell everybody.

It’s incredible to see what a ring can do to my insides as I hurry and look for the phone.

I’m like one of Pavlov’s dogs…except, when the phone rings, I don’t spit all over myself.

I run around making beds, flusing toilets and wiping everything I see with a Clorox Wipe.

The sound of a phone ringing used to be just that…


Now it means…


Bring on the ring!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

When Life Gives You Ice, Make Icing

I taught Anson and Hayden to play Monopoly last night.

I knew Anson would love it. Since he’s already talked about taking over the Laynes Empire for Mike when he’s older, I was postive that a game about money and real estate would get my snaggle-toothed child pretty excited.

I knew Hayden would love it for about thirty minutes.

I knew we had plenty of time to play Monopoly since College Station seems to have become the setting for the new movie, Ice Age 3.

Two minutes into the game, Anson had all his money organized in little piles, from greatest to smallest bill increments. He counted it between EVERY turn. He actually used words like, “good investment” and caught several “bank errors.”

I was the banker.

He scares me how smart he is and attentive to detail. Before buying a property, he would ask for the property's card so he could read it. Who does that?

If you come over here often, he will ask you to play this game with him. Just warning you! He’s addicted. You may need to schedule Monopoly time with Anson.

Hayden’s money and properties littered half the dining room table. His “holdings” were scattered all over the floor and in his chair. He was playing a different kind of Monopoly. His game had very little to do with money or Oriental Avenue. His game was played between the individual game pieces on the board. He was a cannon, (most of the time) and he thought he was winning if his piece got close enough to blow up Anson’s dog or to shoot holes in my shoe. The funniest part was hearing him say, “I won.” I won meant he was in the space right next to us. He would say, “Engage cannon one” then say, “Fire in the poop deck” then dump us over. It was even funnier to see him sad and pouting, because he was not near our pieces. He was convinced he was losing the game even though his pile of money was decorating the room.

Ashton lined up all the houses, hotels and game pieces at the end of the table. Every once in a while, I would “accidentally” put a $500 in the $100 plastic parking spot in the bank. Ashton immediately would correct my “mistake.” I drove him nuts. It was a lot of fun.

I love Monopoly.

It reminds me of summers with my brother. We would ride our bikes down to the gas station and load up on Air Heads, then eat them while we played.

It reminds me that there need to be more occasions in our life when we can just sit…and play a game with people we love…for a very long time.

It reminded me that playing a game with your kids helps you get to know them better than sitting and watching a movie with them. Melodi told me this years ago.

In just a few hours, my kids had to practice being patient, kind, encouraging, good sports…and almost all of them got in trouble for something.

It was neat to see how a light blue square on our dining room table could bring out so much of our unique personalities and gifts, but also draw attention to our weaknesses…places we still need to grow.

It was an honor to pass down this love for the game to my children.

It was an honor to see them struggle and excel.

That’s what family is. We get the rare opportunity to be face to face with one another’s beauty and shame.


They all loved it for different reasons, Anson for the money, Hayden for the miniature silver game pieces, and Ashton for the wealth of things he could line up and sort.

I just love the shoe.

I’m always the shoe.

What piece are you?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Fellow Females


I’m about to shed some light on the bizarre brains of men.

This impending enlightenment is the fruit of 30 years of male observation.

So go get your cute little journals girls...oh...and your colored pens.

I wish what I was about to tell you was something incredibly fantastic, but you see, that’s one of the illusions called man.

When you are single, you think that men are mysteries waiting to be solved.

You think they are deep because they’re silent.

You think they are strong because they are solemn.

No. Not hardly.

Men are very easy to read.

They are quiet because they either don’t know what to say, they aren't aware they are supposed to be saying something, or they weren't even sure you were talking to them in the first place.

They can be calm, grounded and solemn because they don't know they should be trying to impress you, even though you’re practically hula hooping with your hair on fire to get their attention.

Here’s a little known tidbit about men that should alarm you.

Got your purple pen?

They all play this game in their minds called, "The What If Game."

For the first half of my life I lived with a brother who would randomly say, "What if we had to walk backwards everywhere we went?" "What if we had to chew our food 50 times, spit it out and then eat it again?" "What if dogs could talk, but only in French, so we still couldn’t understand them?" "What if I had to sleep with my legs sticking straight up in the air?" "What if this roll of wall paper was stuck in my forehead? I would be like a unicorn. How would I put on my shirts?"

That was my life with Jason.

I thought I would be saying goodbye to this WASTE OF TIME thought process once I finally got my new double consonant name (I would have married a man with the last name of Hoogleberry to obtain this).


After I said, "I do," I quickly said, "This cannot be happening." I got married and found out that Aaron plays the same insane little game. I don’t know why, but "The What If Game" makes me want to hit him in the face with a cookie sheet.

He and Jason were both so serious about their "What Ifs." That's the most unsettling part. They really and truly expect you to begin problem solving over these made up scenarios. Really. I'm not joking. They see nothing wrong with logically trying to solve an illogical problem.

Aaron will pick the most inopportune times to amuse himself with the what ifs. We'll be getting ready for a birthday party or for company to come over and it will hit him..."What if I were a goat?" I'm trying to hurry, and he's chewing on napkins.

How are we still married?

Moments before I catapulted myself out of the bed to type this man betrayal, I was lying there next to my husband. He looks at me and says with his jaws clenched together, "What if I couldn’t open my mouth ever again."

Unfortunately I don’t keep cookie sheets in our bed. I will from now on.

I made a loud, "UGGGGH."

I then told him I had to know what is wrong with men. Why do they do this? It must be all men, because I’m no mathematician (actually, I can’t even tell time properly) but what are the chances that my brother and husband BOTH play the dumb "What if Game?"

Aaron informed me that he and Mike have already discussed this and they both do it and think all men do. I had him immediately call Allen. Allen was my only hope. I thought for sure Allen would not partake in this pitiful past time. Even Allen does it. Allen.




Why waste brain time thinking about what ifs…and not what ifs that matter. They aren’t trying to save the world in case a meteor strikes. They are not endeavoring to solve global warming. They aren't trying to lower our gas prices.

They aren’t even trying to get ready for this "what if"… "What if the electricity goes out?" I don’t think we have one flashlight that works around here.

Oh no.

They spend their time thinking about if their legs could only fold backwards, or their skin was inside out or if everyone had to keep their wallets in their cheeks.

Aaron informed me that one time when he was taking a bath (I can’t believe I’m even saying that since I hate that everyone knows this sad fact about my darling husband) he took a whole bath not using his arms because on the way into the bathtub, this thought unfortunately crossed his mind..."What if I didn’t have arms."




He even came to the conclusion that he would have to invent a faux arm that stuck out of the bathroom wall so that after he squeezed the shampoo onto his head, using his feet, he could rub his soapy head up against the prosthetic fingers. The phony fingers would aid in the lathering process so his hair could be nice and undandruffy.


So, ladies…if you have ever thought that men are a mystery, now you know that they in fact are…just not an exciting mystery…more like a disturbing, what the heck is wrong with them mystery.

Fess up boys, you know you do this.

I’m so on to you.

So on to you.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Papi and Grandma Hendrick
We sure love you guys,
and we're glad that you've been married forever.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Yummy Belly Dancing

This Christmas I made cookbooks for gifts. It was a very odd choice of projects since I never use recipes myself.

Cookbooks give me the creeps.

I’m not kidding.

Normally when I see them, I run away. If one is open on someone’s counter at their house, and my gaze happens to jump onto the pages before I realize what is happening, I quickly reach out my hand and yank my gaze right back off the page. Then, I give my gaze a good talking to. "You can't just go anywhere you choose. Oh no. See what happens? See? When you aren't careful, when you aren't paying attention, you end up looking at cookbook pages."

Gazes. What do you do with them?

Seeing an open cook book on a friend’s counter makes me react the same way I would if I saw a Ouija board sitting there, or a book of incantations or a picture of that friend giving birth.

I turn my head abruptly, grimace, shudder and then quickly move my body in the direction of my whip lashed head.

I know. I really need to find a balance.

I know not everyone feels this way about cookbooks.

I know my brother doesn’t. During Christmas, we were all upstairs when someone happened to say, “Where’s Jason?” Then someone else said, “He’s downstairs reading.” I shot out of my seat. I went straight downstairs. To most people, an answer like, “He’s downstairs reading” doesn’t mean anything. It’s a common phrase. It’s something perfectly normal and ok for someone else to be downstairs reading.

Shooting off the couch and galloping down a bunch of stairs was not the reaction people were expecting, I’m sure. But, when someone casually says to me, “Jason is downstairs reading” they may as well have said, “Jason is downstairs putting on a belly dancing demonstration.”

I ran downstairs, expecting to find my brother in the living room with a dot on his head and noisy things on his fingers, or to find an alien had put on a Jason suit, or farm animals to be flying around the room, or the world to be coming to an end, or to find him drunk because he unknowingly drank some spiked apple cider out of his suitcase of summer sausage, or for sure pretending to read to be funny…you know, kind of like a little joke.

Jason brags that the only book he's read is My Side of the Mountain. On the way down the stairs, I thought to myself, "Does he pack his one book and take it on trips?"

Nope. He WAS reading. And it wasn't My Side of the Mountain. It was a cookbook!

I shuddered and went straight back upstairs, shaking my head.

Back to my point...

I’ve made several things in the cookbook so far.

They have all been good, so I thought I would pass them along to fellow cult members. You really should break out your math manipulatives wrapped around a janitor's key chain and make these things:

Pepsi Pot Roast

This one was from cute Kirby who’s about to be done being a human crock pot. I CAN’T WAIT!!

You need…

20 oz. of Pepsi
1 large can of cream of mushroom soup
Lipton onion soup mix
Package of baby carrots

I doubled this recipe because I only cook for 95 people. I did this before we even had kids. There's something wrong with me. I’m sure God is getting me ready for when all these little boys turn into big boys.

I browned two roasts and covered them with Grill Mates seasoning. Then I put them in the crock-pot. I poured in two packages of Lipton Onion Soup Mix. THEN, I poured almost all of a 2 liter Pepsi on top.

This was the biggest fun I’ve had in the kitchen in a long time. Pouring Pepsi over a pot roast…there are not words to describe it. I felt like I should be in trouble, but then I drank some of the left over Pepsi, and I was so happy.

I let it cook on high for 4 hours. Then, I added the carrots for the last two hours. Then, I took the can of mushroom soup, put it in a big skillet and heated it. I then added juice from the crock-pot until it turned into yummy gravy.

Cream Cheese Potatoes

We also ate mashed potatoes that were made like this…

Boil peeled, diced potatoes. Drain them. Pour hot potatoes onto a stick of butter and a block of cream cheese. Yes, I know. This is NOT for someone trying to fit in their jeans from last year. Sorry. Salt and pepper the potatoes. Then, use a mixer to blend until everything is real fluffy and smooth. THEN, add whipping cream until the potatoes are creamy.

Pour gravy all over the meat and potatoes and serve with Rhodes Dinner Rolls. Yum.

I also made Skillet Broccoli with
Toasted Garlic Lemon.

This one was from Kendra Duty.

You need:
1 bunch of broccoli
½ c water
2 T. olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 T lemon juice
salt and pepper

I didn’t have fresh broccoli, so I just used a bag of frozen broccoli florets. I cooked them in the skillet with some water. Then, when water is gone, you clear the center of the pan and add the oil, red pepper and garlic (and um, I didn’t have garlic cloves, so I just sprinkled everything with garlic powder). Then you remove from heat. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper…and it’s all yum. I didn’t measure the lemon juice, so I just squeezed a couple lemons on the broccoli.

We ate the roast, carrots, mashed potatoes, rolls and broccoli for dinner with Aaron’s parents. Hayden kept screaming, “I like ALL this food mom!” Wow!

We ate Michele’s Banana Pudding for dessert.

It’s the best banana pudding I’ve ever eaten and it takes like 4 minutes to make.

You need:

12 oz. cool whip (no measuring necessary, you can just buy a 12 oz. container, yet another reason why we should eat this stuff more)
1 can Eagle Brand Milk, chilled
1 large box of instant vanilla pudding
2 ½ cups milk
Vanilla Wafers

Mix cool whip, Eagle Brand Milk, Vanilla Pudding and Milk together. I always have to stick the Eagle Brand Milk in the refrigerator and pull out the cool whip from the freezer. Then, I dump the cool whip out in a bowl and let it thaw out while the Eagle Brand milk is chilling.

This dynamic makes me think long, complex thoughts about life. Making banana pudding is a spiritual experience for me. After I’ve finished thinking about seasons in life, I then add the bananas and stir some more. Then, I take vanilla wafers and lay them out on the bottom of a deep square casserole pan. Then, I pour half the pudding mix inside, add another layer of vanilla wafers on top AND around the sides of the pan, then dump in the remaining pudding. Then, since there are a few Vanilla Wafers left in the box, I take them out and let the kids smash them to bits and bits. Then, we pour them on top of the pudding. They look cool. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Tonight, I made Jenn’s Cranberry Chicken.

You need:

1 can of whole cranberry sauce (not jellied)
2 T soy sauce
1 ½ T lemon juice
1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper

Salt and pepper 4-6 Chicken breasts. I didn’t have boneless chicken breasts, so I boiled some bone-in chicken breast. Then, I pulled the meat off, salt and peppered it and put it in the casserole dish. In a saucepan combine can of cranberry stuff, soy sauce, lemon juice and ½ stick of butter. Bring to a boil, then pour over chicken. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes on one side, then flip chicken over and cook 20 minutes on the other side. Since I couldn’t flip chicken chunks, I just stirred them. Serve all this over rice.

This was super yum, but next time, I will double the liquid part of the recipe. The juicy stuff is so good. My kids would have eaten that goo over rice all by itself. Also, if you’re a vegetarian, I think this would be good substituting the meat for vegetables. The sauce is so delicious. Hayden kept saying, “I love this stuff, mom.” Aaron said, “This is weird, but it’s really good. I wish there were a way to make the rice taste more like the sauce.” This just means, I need more sauce next time. He wanted the rice smothered in the liquidy yum.

So, I’ve tried the cookbook thing. I’m still not a big fan, but it’s been fun to try some of the favorite foods from some of the sweetest people I know.

Now I need to go to the gym and work off some of this yum. Oh...and speaking of yummy, and belly dancing...and the gym...when are we going to take belly dancing ladies?