The Simplicity Complex

Do you feel tired?  Overwhelmed?  Overscheduled?  Overworked?

Yeah, me too.  I feel like life time is moving too fast, but I think it’s me that is.  Don’t fret -this isn’t a “stop and smell the roses” post.  This is a “I think I figured out why Farmville is addicting” post.

I’ve been wondering for over year what the HECK is up with Farmville.  I’ve never played it because I’ve heard it’s addicting, and frankly I’m a little insulted that there is such a thing.  I’ve harvested peppers -real peppers.  I’ve fed cows -real cows.  I’ve worked hard and harvested hard (and yes.  “Harvest” in this sense refers to both the peppers AND the cows).  There’s no way to click your way to satisfaction in this sense!  You have to strain yourself!

I’ve often watched a youtube video that depicts some of my feelings perfectly.

I must say: my feelings have changed.
No, no. I haven’t started playing farmville. And I never will.
But Saturday, I watched my simple children play Fruit Ninja on my brothers’ iphones.
The point of the game is this: use your finger to “chop” fruit that is falling on the screen.

So easy even a small child can do it.
I got a kick out of watching them, and my son -after even one successful “chop” would parade around the house.
“I got da STAW-BERRY!”
Okay, fruit ninja. Good job, I guess.
Last night, my husband gave me some very direct instructions. “At ten to seven, I want you to draw yourself a hot bath and light some candles. Put on some soothing music and soak for however long you want. After your bath is over, put on some of your most comfortable pajamas and wait for me.”
When my bath was over and my pj’s were on, he gave me the nicest back massage and then put the kids to bed while I relaxed in my bed.
I had a long day Saturday, one that left my body aching all over. I can’t tell you how much I needed that massage! But I can tell you how much I appreciated it -SO much!

I pulled out some of my old blog entries that I’ve printed out and started reading through them and after the kids were in bed, my husband crawled in bed next to me. He pulled his ipod out and started playing games, and I started reading out loud. The old blog entries were funny -one about a mouse crawling across my bare toes, one about my utter lack of imperturbability.
Pretty soon, I noticed the sounds coming from my husband’s ipod.
“Are you playing angry birds?!” I asked.
“I just want to see what all the fuss is about,” he shrugged.

I’ve never played. I never will play. I’ve heard it’s addicting and frankly, I don’t like the idea of the whole thing.

I stared on in wonder as my husband slung birds at pigs and giggled like a school girl, and then I realized something monumental:
Angry Birds and Farmville give people the simple escape they crave so much.
Live is so crazy, so full, so frustrating, that sometimes the best cure is something extraordinarily SIMPLE.

On that note, I’d love to take a survey of people who have made family mottos this year. I’m willing to bet about 60% chose “SIMPLIFY” as their motto.


I have my own “farmvilles” and “angry birds.” They are crocheting and putting on an apron to simply READ a cookbook from the 50s (a simpler time).

My mom came over and put this book in my hands.
It wasn’t even Christmas!
I’ve got a friend who promises to play Florence while I’ll take the part as Irma. We’re going to bake. In aprons.
And so who am I to judge Farmville? It stands for everything I support! Cows, chickens, peppers, and SIMPLICITY.
That doesn’t mean I’ll play and that definitely does not mean I’m going to take up slinging birds at pigs despite my husband’s insistence that I’d really like it.
Please honey. Leave the gaming to the childrens.

(See my brother Steve’s hand? After I snapped the two pictures of my kids, he said “You’re getting blogged” to my daughter. She didn’t respond either because she was a) too wrapped up in chopping fruit or b) it was old news.)

First Responder

When it comes to cries for “HELP!” I’m generally the first responder.

Take yesterday, for instance.

He was yelling for me as loudly as he could.

“MOM! HELP!”  He was stuck.  I was 100% shocked when he got after me for getting him down.  Apparently, he didn’t want down.  He wanted in the crib.

He’d cabbaged onto a Candyland game board, so I thought he wanted to play.  I told Lacy that Trent wanted to play Candyland with her, and she happily hopped into the crib with him.  I went into the kitchen to clean or something else housewifey when I heard Trent screaming.

I went in to see them fighting over the game board.

“Trent!  It’s MY! I just got it for my BIRTHDAY!”




And all this time I thought he was actually using it as a game board.  Never once did I see it’s “lap top” capabilities.

Can you see them now? When you fold the game board in half and tote it around, it looks like a very thin very large tap top. And when you open it?

Lucky for me, I happen to have TWO Candyland game boards on account of Lacy’s sabotaging her first on with all manner of playdough and juices.

Within minutes, the problem was resolved and went back to watching Bleak House. Er, I mean… cleaning.

Planning to Fail for Success

During the past week, I’ve been working hard to keep the house in order.  I’ve been cooking and cleaning and spending the day looking forward to when my husband would walk through the door.

Monday night, I made a fancy-for-us dish: chicken teriyaki skewers.  They came out of the oven beautifully, and luckily my ma, pa and little brother came over to help eat them as my husband had to work late.

Thinking the next day would be different, I repeated the process.  I planned the meals out and worked hard on them, I cleaned and completed projects… and again went to bed alone.

By the end of the week, you would have THOUGHT I would have learned my lesson.  I made plans to spend an evening with a friend I hadn’t seen since the county fair (which didn’t really count) and before that, since the county fair the year before (and that really didn’t count because she didn’t see me) and before THAT since college.

Sorry about my sloppy English this morning.

For some odd reason, given the track record of the past week I still hadn’t learned the lesson: making plans is a no-no.  Live on the edge a little! Be spontaneous!

As I woke up yesterday, husbandless on account of his heading out the door early early, I decided that I would STILL plan.

To fail.

And maybe I’d succeed in getting my husband home.

Instead of doing the dishes, I plucked my eyebrow (singular).

Instead of cleaning the living room, I crocheted and watched three episodes of “Bleak House.”

Instead of sweeping and bleaching and mopping, I straightened my hair.

And you know what?  My husband is home!  It worked!  Success!  I’m a little sorry he missed out on the house being clean all week, but I’m more happy that he’s here to help me clean it today.

I haven’t told him that yet.  Shh.

And also -because I know you care -my evening of fun with my college buddy turned into an evening of fun with my college buddy with four kids in tow.  It turns out that we are multi-tasking CHAMPS.  They didn’t teach us that in college, kids.  We learned them skills in the school of hard knocks (otherwise knows as Childbirth and the Great Race of Young Mothering).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a house to clean.  It’s a regular atrocity.  But it was all for my husband!  A noble sacrifice on my part.

(That’s what I’m planning on telling him while we’re cleaning the kitchen.)

“I’m a Thief!”

The cards are stacked against me in a certain irritating fashion.  I cleaned the house up the other day. I got it smelling good, AND I even looked okay.  I had showered, done my hair and my make up… what’s more: dinner was cooking.  I was so excited for my husband to come home and see what was going on!  I was like June Cleaver -a rare occasion that isn’t likely to repeat itself until the planets align!

Minutes before he was “supposed” to get home, I got THE text.  I guess I knew it was coming.  I could sorta feel it in the part of my gut that hangs over my pants, childbearing leftovers.

He would be late.

This time, “late” meant 10 pm.  By then, dinner was cold, my make up had been washed off and -let’s face it -I was asleep.  He had Arby’s for dinner, by the way.

Yesterday, I was crazy enough to spend more than several hours preparing a dish that is now baking in my oven.  A breakfast dish.  It’s special.  Want to know why?  It’s one of those “soak overnight” egg dishes and I’ve been dying to try it for months!  It calls for hearty bread, and I wanted to bake some fresh bread to make it with.  I finally made bread yesterday and as I started piecing the recipe together, I noticed something. I didn’t have enough eggs.  Or milk.  That always happens to me.  I seriously plan my menu two weeks at a time, and I still end up frantically driving to my mother’s house in my apron and stealing her soy sauce.  Or her A-1.  And then, to salve my guilt, I leave a note on a napkin, promising to bring them some of whatever food I’m making.

Yesterday, I couldn’t bear to steal anymore.  Not from my mother.  Not this time.  So when my dear Aunt called, I begged two eggs from her.  Of course she obliged because that’s what aunties do.  She told me she would probably be gone when I came to get them but that I could let myself in.

I did.  And guess what?  Next to her fridge is her stove.  On her stove were some STILL ON THE PAN cookies.  And next to her cookies were

cookie dough.

These cookies, it must be mentioned, are of a special sort.  They are the same recipe that my mother uses.  I’ve had a hankering for those cookies for a week now, but I’ve sworn off buying chocolate chips on account of my bank account and health (in that order).  I tried to put on blinders.

I tried with most all of my might.

Then I took a cookie and a pinch of cookie dough.

Correction: I STOLE a cookie and pinch of cookie dough. And as I bit into them, OH what JOY filled my SOUL!  I took her eggs and her cookie and I went out the door.  As I stepped into the crisp evening air, I was hit with a very vivid memory -one I didn’t even know I had.

I remembered racing out of my mother’s kitchen into the crisp autumn evening air, carrying my flute on my shoulder (compliments of the carrying case dad bought for me which I still have and use and love) and stuffing my face with my mother’s freshly baked cookies.  I was on my way to a home football game.  I got into every single one free -I was with the band.

And just like that, the memory was gone.  But for one split second, I felt the wonderful feeling of what it was like to be 15 and have energy and eat my mother’s cookies to my heart’s content with no consequences to my 28″ waist.  That blasted waist line was beautiful! Even when I fed it snickers and Dr. Pepper for lunch, it was beautiful!  I wish I would have known that then…

Funny what one cookie can do to a girl.

My mother’s effect on me is far-reaching.

Don’t blame yourself, Ma, for my thievin’ ways.  That’s the devil’s doing.

Anyway, I came home and finished putting my breakfast dish together.

Three loaves of freshly baked bread.  Eight eggs (two borrowed).  One pound of bacon, cooked.  One pound of sausage, cooked.  This is no ordinary recipe!  This is a special occasion recipe!  I was thinking of having it for Easter breakfast, but I wanted to try it out first.

My kitchen counter looked a wreck when I had finished preparing the dish, but I knew it would all be worth it in the morning.  The thought of serving it to my husband was making me giddy.  He’s always so good at making all of the appropriate appreciative yummy noises.

Aside from coming home late, he informed me that he had to go in early.  The dish has to cook for nearly 2 hours, and in order for me to get him this (what I’m sure is going to be) delicious breakfast dish, I would have had to get up at 3.


Little did I know that I would be up at 3 AM anyway cleaning up something rather less-than-wonderful from my son.

It took an hour to clean up, after which hour I was in no mood to cook anything.  Since I had only rested about three hours, I went back to bed.  Two hours later, my phone’s alarm went off.

I tried to dismiss it, only to find that my track ball won’t scroll down.  I’ve tried everything to fix it.  Everything short of taking the bloody thing apart and running it over with my Jeep Grand Cherokee.  The stupid smart phone won’t let me dismiss my alarm.  It’s been going off faithfully every five minutes since 6:30.  I tried rebooting it, but the stupid smart phone REMEMBERS that it needs to keep waking me up!

So I yanked the battery out, and now I’m up, I’m up.

The egg dish is cooking.

My husband is gone.

My smart phone is stupid.

My kitchen is a wreck.Photobucket

And I am a thief.

(Recipe for the brilliant egg dish is coming up just as soon as it pops out of the oven.  May I suggest you BUY hearty bread instead of making it?)

Group Date!

Remember my post from the other night?  Of the kids?  Sleeping?  After the sitter left?

Is my unnerving use of questions marks bothering you yet?

Anyway, we were out on a group date.  We ate pizza and played games.  My dearest and I took the cake for worst at that Nintendo guitar playing game.  Sweet, no?(Thanks to Lisa for the picture.  I stole it without asking.  Sorry to Lisa for stealing without asking.)

And I’ll just say: everyone should know the people I know.  Everyone.

The Face

The face of a girl who’s coming to grips with the fact that she doesn’t get candy for going potty anymore.
I doubt she’ll ever recover.

Yesterday, Today

Growing up, the meal that brought our family together was not dinner. Sometimes it was. But we couldn’t really count on it. Dad owned his own business and ranched/farmed/irrigated on the side, and as the years went on my brothers and sister and I became involved in basically everything (not to mention the ranching and farming and irrigating), so having dinner together didn’t happen quite as much as having BREAKFAST together.
Ah, breakfast. The best meal of the day with the best food selection.
Pancakes! Eggs! Cream of Wheat! Pancakes! Pancakes! Pancakes!
Rarely do I ever order anything but breakfast when I go to Denny’s.

I once heard my mother remark that she was getting tired of the same old routine of setting the breakfast table: the butter, the sugar, the honey, the salt, the pepper, the homemade jams and jellies… only to take it all off again and be left with a mess of dishes haphazardly thrown in the sink as we all made our way out the door to school or work. I often wondered why she got sick of it. In my ignorance, I thought… ‘isn’t it her job?’
Well, yeah. It is. But now that I’m a mother, I could kick myself for not falling down at her feet when she said it and thanking her for making an effort to let us have that meal together! Waking up to the smell of bacon sizzling or walking up the stairs and catching the whiff of maple malt o’meal on the stove was literally the BEST part of my day. What’s more: it gave us all a chance to sit around the table and talk between bites. Dad always had something to say that would make us laugh (like the time he took a hold of the Rice Crispies box and scribbled out letters so that their animated health “spokes person” Timmy the Tooth Head became Timmy the Toot Head. I don’t know what was more funny -his doing it or mom’s disapproval of it). It always gave me a solid start to my day, and I’ll be danged if I’ve ever thanked my mother properly for it.
The side effect of my wonderful breakfasts is that I automatically wake up hungry. Truth be told, I’m more liable to spring out of bed if I know there’s food on the counter, even -or I should say especially -if it’s cookies.

I shouldn’t be surprised, then, that my son has this same tendency. When he crawls out of bed (which he does before his sister) and I’m the only one up (because his sister and his dad love sleep as much as Trent and I love breakfast), I take him into my arms and take in a big whiff of newly-woken up boy. It smells sweet right now and I’m trying to soak as much as I can in before he starts stinkin’. After our good morning hug, I immediately start offering him food.
“Do you want Bob?” I ask.
“SURE! A BOB!” And he bolts into the kitchen.

Bob, it must be known, is what we call bananas. The thing is: the kids were crabby one day, so I picked a banana up and started pretending it was a phone with a personality and a name: Bob.
“Bob,” I said, talking to the banana, “I want to call grandma.”
“NO!” The “banana” yelled back in an irritated tone.
“Bob,” I scolded, “You don’t tell mama’s no.”
“NO!” he yelled back.
“I’ll spank…” I warned.
“NO!” he yelled back.
So I spanked. And while I spanked “Bob” yelped out in anger.
The kids went nuts for the Bob routine, much to my immediate delight and eventual dismay. They asked for Bob all of the time. Now I’ve got a son who is addicted to Bobs and I’m going through three bunches a week.

Yesterday, while my son was napping, I streamed a movie while I folded laundry on the couch. The movie ended up being really touching!
It was a story about an old man named Robert who lived alone. He worked in a grocery store, bagging groceries. A woman moves in across the street and asks him out on a date. Their budding romance was so adorable that I got lost in it. By the end of the movie, tears were streaming down my face and only then did I notice that my son was bopping around the living room.
“Oh,” I said, quickly wiping my blubberings from my face, “Good morning, son!”
“Goo’ morneen.”
“Can I hab a kiss?” (Don’t you hate it when you start talking like them?)
“Sure, big kiss.” He walked over to me and LAID one on me. Strangely enough it tasted exactly like maple syrup.

I got up from the couch where I’d been folding and went into the kitchen where I found a chair pushed up to the counter and

TWO spoons in the homemade maple syrup.
He woke up hungry.
I couldn’t blame him.

I woke up hungry this morning, like always, and after we ate breakfast together as a family I dropped Lacy off at preschool and took my son to get the mail.
I seriously want to send every person who sends me a REAL letter a check for $100. I mean, I can’t…. but I want to. That counts for something, right?


In any case, I’m going to send my cousin a check this week. She sent me this GEM of a card -arrived today! -and I’m going to order more. And as I opened and reopened and reopened the card this morning, I decided I’m going to forevermore pay my cousin to send me stationery (should she feel up to the task) for I’m going to send the crap out of these note cards. Be watchful lest your mailbox begins to resemble Harry Potter’s fireplace, teeming with real handwritten letters.

Perhaps I can convince my children to write letters with me. Perhaps they’ll really take to it. Perhaps then the cinnamon rolls and the frosting and the maple syrup will STAY PUT!

(Did you like my manicure in the picture above?  The lady who does my nails is only FOUR years old.  Can you believe it?  She was born with a talent.  Oh, and she gets her feelings hurt if I remove it.)