06 June 2016


There's something weighing pretty heavily on me right now, and it's completely blocking up my creative process. I can't write about it because I don't want to use this space to air dirty laundry, especially about family. But in the meantime, it's in the way. I wouldn't turn down your prayers for family harmony and healing.

So! Picture post! In order:


The Mr. and I got a babysitter -- like, an actual babysitter who was recommended by my sister-in-law and regrettably lives so far from us, because otherwise this could have been a seriously mutually-beneficial situation! -- so we could enjoy my cousin's wedding. It was beautiful, even if the weather was uncooperative, and my sweet cousin Taryn and her new husband looked so happy.

Then we went to my parents' house at the beach for Memorial Day weekend. The above is a little cousin love. These boys are fourteen months apart, almost the same size, and mostly very sweet together. Maybe a little wrestling, but isn't that what boys do? (I don't really know. Boys are somewhat of a novelty in my parents' house, since they only had one son out of seven children, and while they're only one up in granddaughters -- five granddaughters, four grandsons -- the boys are 5, 2, 1 and 9 months so we haven't really gotten into full-bore boy behavior yet.)

No trip to Sea Isle City is complete without one trip to Marita's for ice cream. After this super-sweet picture was taken, Declan got his first haircut. I resisted for a long time; as you can see he was overdue. But as I suspected, now those sweet baby curls are gone and a young man was left in my baby's place. 😢

When we got home from the long weekend, we had no food in the house so we went to the local diner for dinner, where they were doing Kids' Night! As you can see, Keira didn't enjoy having her arm painted at all. 😉

So hopefully soon I'll be ready to write something of substance?

13 May 2016

Kid stuff

Things Declan will say before he will say "Mama":

"Subu" - our nanny's kid-friendly nickname (short for Subhadra)
"Babu" - Subu's son
"Ra-ra" - his name for his sister
"Hiiiii, Jesus!" - this one I don't complain about
"Go Jordan" - as in Spieth, as in Daddy's favorite golfer

But not "Mama." Never Mama.

Also, earlier this evening I was the Mama who had a bare-bottomed toddler on her front stoop. Just... Why, Keira? I mean, I appreciate that she mentioned her need to use the bathroom before we went on a walk, for once, but I just wish she hadn't readied herself by removing her bottoms outside.

Kids sure have a way of humbling you, huh?

05 May 2016

One-Pan Green-Chile-and-Lime Chicken and Rice

Things around here have gotten... Heavy, recently.

So! Here's a nice fluffy post to lighten the mood!

My youngest came home from daycare yesterday with a fever and promptly threw up on his high chair tray. I simultaneously threw my plans for today out the window. Our new plan was for Michael to take Keira to daycare, leaving sickie Declan and I to sleep in a little. And that was it: that was the whole plan.

Even that much didn't work out.

Declan was up at FOUR. FORTY. FIVE. Michael changed his diaper and gave him some milk in hopes that he'd go back to sleep, but it was not to be. So instead we all got up at normal time and Keira and Daddy left, earlier than usual, even. I took Declan down to our basement, where most of the toys are, but he didn't want to leave my lap. I had Jurassic World on the DVR and I turned it on because he's too young to get anything about it but I thought he'd like the dinosaurs, and he did. He sat on my lap with his head on my shoulder and my Miraculous Medal clenched in his fist -- for a sixteen-month-old, he sure has a devotion to Our Lady! -- and growled at the dinosaurs. And then he went to sleep. So at 7:05, he went down for his first nap.

The rest of our day proceeded thusly -- sleep, sit on Mommy and cry, sleep some more -- with the exception of one little venture out of the house: Trader Joe's. Where I saw these cute little cans of green chiles, which inspired our Cinco de Mayo dinner, One-Pan Green-Chile-and-Lime Chicken and Rice! (It may need a shorter name.)

It is so good, you guys. Like Chipotle, but without the e. coli! One simple warning: DO NOT ATTEMPT WITHOUT A PROPER MISE EN PLACE. You will be sorry, like I was the first time I made this.

Not shown: cubed chicken

One-Pan Green-Chile-and-Lime Chicken and Rice

1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
1 T. oil (I like avocado oil, but you do you)
Salt and pepper
4 green onions, chopped and separated (whites from greens)
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 oz. can chopped green chiles
Zest and juice from one lime
14.5 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups Minute rice (must be Minute and not some longer-cooking kind!)
Cilantro, chopped, optional and to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cubed chicken, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until cooked through. Add the green onion whites and the garlic for the last minute or so. Stir in the broth, the greens of the green onions, the green chiles, the lime zest and lime juice, and the black beans. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the rice, stirring in to immerse it as much as possible. Allow to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat and put a lid on the skillet. Allow it to steam until the rice is soft; in my experience it takes about 6-10 minutes. (If the rice is still too al dente, turn it back on medium heat for 2-3 minutes and stir it to help the liquid absorb.) Then fluff it, add the cilantro, and serve.

It's a little monochrome -- trichrome? -- for my tastes, so I serve it with a big dollop of salsa on top. Maybe some sour cream? Avocado or guacamole? Cheese and lettuce, Chipotle-style? Again: you do you. And then come back and tell me how much you loved this. 😉

Updated to add: Trader Joe's Quick Cooking Brown Basmati rice is not the same as Minute rice. #askmehowiknow #crunchyrice #stilltasty

03 May 2016

Goodbye, Target.

Well, I bit the bullet. I canceled my Target card.

I had been waffling over this decision for days. I am angry enough at Target -- for putting empty political sentiment over public safety -- that I knew I wouldn't shop there. The issue wasn't whether Target was going to get any more of my money; they weren't. So the question of the card itself remained: would Target reverse itself, thereby making it a hassle to reestablish the card? Would it hurt my credit to close it, especially if I turned around and opened it again? If I stopped spending money at Target but kept the card open, would Target even notice?

But the more I thought about it, the angrier I got at Target: for making this decision in the first place; for making me feel like a crazy person because no one else seems to see that for the vast majority of the boycotters, this isn't about bigotry but about safety, and the refusal to participate in a political agenda that is empirically bananas; for making me devote so much mental real estate to this.

I came to the conclusion that Target made their very public stand, and there's no way they will have the intestinal fortitude to reverse themselves. The LGBTQ+-whatever lobby is too loud and vindictive, and Target has a long history of pandering to it. Unless scores of little girls are sexually assaulted inside Target store bathrooms, they will stand by their bad move, even in the face of falling share value and millions of lost customers.

So I was 75% of the way to the decision to close it when something else occurred to me: elsewhere in the world, even today, Christians martyrs are being beheaded for their refusal to back down from their faith. And here I am, worrying about the inconvenience of closing this credit card.

Decision made.

While I was making dinner for my family last night, I called customer service and got a supervisor on the phone. I told her I wanted to close my account. This conversation (more or less verbatim), ensued:

CSR: I see you've been a cardholder for over three years. Can I ask you why you're closing your account now?
Me: I think your bathroom policy stinks. [SO ELOQUENT, Colleen. 🙄]
CSR: Okay. Just a second while I make a note of your concerns.

She sounded like a) she'd been hearing that a lot recently -- although possibly most people put it better? -- and b) she'd secretly like to agree.

So it's done. I am no longer a Target customer.

Goodbye, Dollar Spot. I think I'll miss you the most.

20 April 2016

You guys, what are we going to do?

I live in Virginia, where it is now been determined by a federal court that rules requiring schoolchildren to use the bathroom that corresponds to their biological sex are discriminatory. This is bound to go nationwide, and fast.

Also this week, Target has released a statement that customers can now use whichever bathroom they please, as well. Because, as the statement says, "Everyone deserves to feel like they belong."

... Except for me, Target, and the millions of people like me. We get to feel uncomfortable in the bathroom because there's a dude in there. And he doesn't have to look like a lady, he just has to tell security, should anyone have the cojones to alert security, that he feels like a lady. Because as we also know, no pervert would ever take advantage of the culture of fear surrounding this issue and follow a little girl into a public restroom. Perverts have the utmost respect for the transgendered and would never appropriate their gender dysphoria for their own nefarious purposes. That's a thing that we know... Right?

I do whatever is humanly possible to avoid public restrooms already, but this is enough to make me hibernate in my own home. I don't even have a high school-aged girl (yet), but the idea that high school-aged boys would be able to use her bathroom and locker room is horrifying to me. If my plan weren't already to home-school, it would have to be now.

I have quite a bit of sympathy for the mentally ill -- and make no mistake, the "transgendered" are absolutely mentally ill -- but this is not the way to help them. When schools provide single-occupant restrooms for the use of the mentally ill, gender non-conforming student, the student inevitably throws around words like "stigmatizing" and "otherizing." (Never mind that if I had been offered a single-occupancy restroom option in high school, I'd have been thrilled.) The most helpful thing we can do for these people is to tell them that they are not above the rules that everyone has lived by since the dawn of public restrooms.

Strike that: the most helpful thing we could do is to get these people some real psychological care. A refusal to treat mental illness as something to be celebrated is a close second.

We are enabling a vanishingly small and deeply confused super-minority to dictate the safety of every little girl in this country. And I'm not sorry about my feeling that I would rather see every single transgendered individual in this country get his feelings hurt than see even one little girl get raped by a pervert who takes advantage of this madness and follows her into a restroom in full view of people who would stop him but are scared to be called a bigot.

12 April 2016

#NeverTrump #NeverHillary #NeverGettingOutOfThisOne

I never want to live through a presidential primary like this one ever again.

I've written before about Trump and the horror he instills in me. I think he's a moral black hole and one of the worst things ever to come out of American politics. I will never, ever vote for him. And that makes me different than many other conservatives (and Catholics) who, while opposed to Trump, will still vote for the man over Hillary.

I. Just. Can't.

Three peas in a pod, and Melania.

Let's start with some comparisons:
  • Hillary Clinton is a brazen, habitual liar. Donald Trump is also a brazen, habitual liar. {Do I need to post links for these things? 'Cause I could, but I don't really think these assertions are in question.}
  • Hillary Clinton surrounds herself with thugs and bullies. Donald Trump also surrounds himself with thugs and bullies.
  • Hillary Clinton is a rabid pro-abortion advocate. Trump claims to be pro-life, awfully recently and with nothing but lip service; but he still praises Planned Parenthood, says he'd appoint his radically pro-abortion sister to the Supreme Court, and did irreparable damage to the pro-life image just last week by advocating for the punishment of women who have abortions (he's since equally-ineptly walked it back, but I'm pretty sure we've all gotten a peek behind the curtain and seen that, once again, the Trump has no well-thought-out positions).
So we've covered the areas where I think they're essentially the same. When it comes down to morality, they're both... Simply without any. That is a horrible turn of events for this nation. The idea that we can't put up a candidate with a stronger moral compass than Hillary Clinton (and when we started with the strongest Republican field in my lifetime) is enough to make me want to sit in the corner and cry indefinitely, but that's where we seem to be.

But what about things like international relations?

I was less-than-impressed with Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State. She laundered bribes from unfriendly countries through the Clinton Foundation, she abandoned our people in Benghazi when they were under attack and then lied to the families about what happened and why. She set up a sketchy home-brew email server in her bathroom which was vulnerable to hacking and ought to have been federally indicted long ago. She was basically a disaster.

Here's the thing, though: I'm still pretty sure that Donald Trump, Most Powerful Man in the World, has the potential to be significantly worse.

Leave aside for the moment that he insisted from the debate stage that we intended to order the military to commit war crimes by targeting the innocent family members of terrorists. Leave aside his thinnest-ever skin. He's also dangerously susceptible to flattery, as proven by his little mutual-admiration society with Vladimir Putin. He says whatever flits through his head, with a special emphasis on being insulting and gauche. Diplomacy is not likely to be his strong suit, by which I mean: I give his hypothetical presidency three months before we're teetering on the brink of WWIII.

"Nuclear armageddon" is worse than "disaster."

He continually claims that he'll make up for the areas where he is weak -- insofar as he admits that he's less than outstanding at anything -- by "hiring the best people." Have we seen any evidence that he knows what "the best people" look like? His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has been recently arrested for assault on a reporter. His campaign in Colorado was so disorganized that they failed to win a single delegate and are reduced -- "reduced" -- to trying to make hay out of voter suppression, when in fact there was none.

Let's stop trying to place the blame for Trump's ascension on the "establishment," or on the media, or anywhere else it doesn't belong. Trump voters are grown adults with agency, and moral culpability. Voting for a deeply flawed candidate (which is the kindest description I can muster) as a stand-in for waving a middle finger in the face of the GOP, writ large, is childish, morally bankrupt and dangerous.

There's nothing I can do about this but pray. If your state has already voted, there's nothing you can do about this but pray. If your state hasn't yet voted, please don't sit home and hope someone else will get us out of this. I'm not sure if a vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary (although I strongly suspect as much), but either way it is a vote for depravity.