Friday, August 29th, 2014 | Author:

IMG_3581We survived! Even better than survived, actually. We had fun. Lots and lots and lots of it. Turns out, the beach is a really fun place to hang out as a family. I wasn’t sure whether building sandcastles and exploring tide pools would be quite as much fun as a parent as I remembered it being as a child, but man, it so is.

To my immense delight, we also managed to survive the drive, though I will admit things got a bit dicey on the way home. Right around Olympia (halfway-ish) the kids started getting a tad feral, engaging in the same hijinks and generalized naughtiness kids the world over have always pulled out when bored on long road trips.

I saw a sign for a Safeway off the freeway and implored Wes to pull over, which he did, though a tad grudgingly. You see, we were having a bit of trouble with Google Maps, who had just informed us that the freeway ahead was a trafficked-up nightmare. I was trying to manage the kids, who were a few miles short of turning our backseat into the Thunderdome, trying to figure out an alternate route to avoid the traffic, doing my best to avoid getting carsick, and also? I had to pee. Irritated husband aside (I’ve never met a man who didn’t mind pulling over for a pit stop on long road trips. Every guy I’ve ever spent long periods of time in the car with has always had a ‘let’s push through and make it in one straight shot’ mentality. Why is that?), Wes pulled over and let his hot mess of a family out of the car.

Once we’d stretched, walked, used the grocery store’s bathroom, and obtained some inappropriate starches (hat tip to Joss Whedon), everyone was back in the car and more or less quiet.

“Thanks for pulling over for a rest stop,” I said to Wes while the kids contentedly crunched on Pringles in the backseat. “I was about to need a new pair of pants and I thought the kids were going to go Mad Max back there.”

“That kind of stuff doesn’t bother me,” he replied, eyes on the road.

I blinked at him. “Wait. What part doesn’t bother you? The peeing all over the car part, or the savage children tearing each other apart?”

He shook his head. “What? No, I just meant I would have just kept driving.”

I’m pretty sure he’s going to stock up on Depends for me and tranquilizers for the kids the next time we have a four hour car trip ahead of us.

Hijinks and upholstery destruction aside, we had a great time. I’ve definitely got the post-vacation blues now. Our home is lovely and all, but it isn’t walking distance to a beach and that, my friends, is just super sad all the way around. Everything should be within walking distance to a beach.

Oh! Hey! There’s the bright side to global warming! Within a few decades, I bet just about everything will be walking distance to a beach! Thanks, fluorocarbons!

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Monday, August 25th, 2014 | Author:

Posting might be light this week, as Wes and I are strapping the kids into the car for a four-hour drive down to the Oregon coast, a trip during which, hopefully, none of the following will happen:

  • Vehicle breakdown. Not likely, but would definitely be a bummer should it happen. I can think of many things I would rather do than try to help Wes fix the car on the side of the road by fanning his face and answering what would surely be the millions of questions asked by our four-year old son.
  • Multi-state tantrum. Please God, no. Let them sleep. Does Dramamine believe in you if you believe in it?
  • Realizing I forgot something crucial once we’re too far away to turn back.
  • Natural disaster. That’d be kind of a downer on our first-ever family vacation. It happened to my family once when I was growing up, though. We were camping in the middle of BFE, way past nowhere and square in the middle of no-one-can-hear-you-scream. One night, my parents woke me and my brother and told us to hustle everything back in the truck because there was a forest fire coming right toward us. We broke camp and hauled ass out of there, driving the one-lane road back to civilization past burning hillsides while my brother and I scarcely contained our excitement over how cool it was. I think we even stuck our heads out the window to better see the flames as we drove past. We were not smart.
  • Injuries of any kind. We’ve had a rather expensive year when it comes to medical expenses. It’d be really great if all of us could avoid breaking, straining, injuring, and/or scraping anything. Especially given that Wes broke his leg during a trip to the Oregon coast as a kid when he visited with his family.

In making our lists for the trip, Wes and I compared essentials. Can you guess which list is Wes’s and which one is mine?

  • Bacon, steak, Pringles, rum, fruit juice to mix with said rum, beach chairs
  • Chocolate covered macadamia nuts, brownie mix, chocolate-covered peanut butter cups, vodka, lazy beach read books

Wish us luck and fun as we embark on what will hopefully be a fun adventure. My kids have never seen an actual beach with actual waves before. As a former Californian who spent much of her childhood on the beach, getting road rash from wiping out on the beach after boogie boarding and inhaling oodles of sea water from looking the wrong way when a wave came to clobber her, this is inexcusable to me. My children need waves in order to be well-rounded human beings!

See you on the flip side, my friends.

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 | Author:
Basically what I served my family for dinner, minus the sodium.

Basically what I served my family for dinner, minus the sodium.

I’ve blogged about my fantastical failures in the cooking arena before. I’m not shy about the fact that, if anyone’s going to find a way to detonate a head of broccoli, it’ll be me. And probably when I’ve got a whole bunch of people coming over, because that’s HANDS DOWN the absolute best time for everything in the kitchen to go spectacularly awry.

Those of you who have come over for a meal and had to help me turn off my smoke detector know what I’m talking about, here.

In the latest episode of the Epic Cooking Fails reality TV show that is my life, I give you…Pot roast. Or, rather, Trader’s Joe’s pot roast. Here’s the story:

I was at Trader Joe’s, shopping for dinner supplies for the week when I noticed some Cabernet Pot Roast. I thought that sounded yummy, so I tossed it into my cart and began wondering what I’d serve with it.

A container of fresh Asian stir fry vegetables caught my eye. I took a look and saw mushrooms, broccoli, and carrots, all cut up, and thought I might be able to add those to the pot roast and baby, I’d have a stew going.

So I get all these things home and, come Tuesday, decide it’s now or never for the pot roast because I’m having dinner with a friend and if I don’t make the food now, it’ll spoil. I remove the pot roast from its package, add the vegetables, and discover there’s, you know, Asian-y stuff in the vegetable mix. Like baby corn, bok choy, bell peppers, and a couple other things I can’t identify.

This comes as a total shock to me despite the fact that the container clearly says ASIAN Stir Fry Vegetables.

Because I am an awesome chef (and because I don’t really care, let’s be honest) I pick out the weirdest stuff and dump the rest into the Crock Pot along with the pot roast. I turn on the Crock Pot, plunk down the lid, and congratulate myself on making dinner for Wes and the kids even though I’ll be gone.

Come dinner time, I give the pot roast a stir and discover that the Asian vegetables have radiation sickness or something because they’ve dissolved into inchoate vegetable sludge, the proverbial ooze from which my overcooked pot roast had to climb.

Wes, peering over my shoulder at this tiny slice of primordial culinary swampland, cocks an eyebrow at me to which I can only reply, “You’re not supposed to eat those. I added them for flavor.”

Now, we both know this is BS. Pure and simple. But the key to a happy marriage is letting your spouse keep what dignity she has left by pretending she didn’t just mercilessly simmer hapless vegetables to death.

And with that, I skipped out the door to go eat pizza with a friend.

I hear from reliable sources that Wes served the pot roast with pancakes (?) to critical acclaim from the tiny humans, and that the carrots were at least somewhat salvageable.


Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 | Author:
If I add a few more cat pictures, this blog could turn into Reddit!

If I add a few more cat pictures, this blog could turn into Reddit!

Of necessity this summer, I’ve taken to leaving my phone in the car when I go on adventures with my kids. I don’t know if you know this, but kids are messy, splashy, sunscreen-smeared creatures who leave impossible-to-clean-off smudges on iPhones. If you’re taking your kids to the beach, do yourself a favor and give them one less valuable thing to knock into the water.

A funny thing started happening, though, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until months had passed. I started realizing that I’m actually a lot happier when my phone is out of reach.

Weird, huh?

It’s not that I dislike my phone. Quite the contrary, actually. I find it handy and convenient when I need it. The Google Maps application has helped me un-lost myself dozens of times since its installation, and I adore having Pandora play me fantastic music while I drive.

Rather, it’s taken me all summer to realize that I’m happier when I’m not so accessible all the time. I really like not having my attention diverted every few minutes by the chime of an incoming email or text. Surprisingly, those can all seem to wait a few hours while I go live my life.

Silencing my phone and only checking it periodically (or, you know, hiding from my phone) has also made the querying process more pleasant. It no longer feels like I’m clinging to my phone, desperate for good news. Instead, I’m giving myself permission to think about other things. I think that’s healthier for everyone all around, don’t you?

Who would have thought, fifteen years ago when I got my first cell phone, that I’d need to set healthy boundaries governing its use?

How about the rest of you? Do any of you feel the need to ditch your phone every once in awhile?

Category: Lifestyle  | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
Monday, August 18th, 2014 | Author:
"Go ahead and laugh. Do it. I dare you."

“Go ahead and laugh. Do it. I dare you.”

I took my kids to the zoo last week with some friends, where maybe one of the funniest conversational oopses I’ve ever been witness to happened and brought me great mirth and joy. It was refreshing to be on the laughing end of one of those for once. The situation was as follows:

Friend 1 pouring tea concentrate packet into hot water.

Erika: Still doing the (name of eating plan here, anonymized to protect the dignity of my friend) thing? How’s it going?

Friend 1: Oh, it’s going great! I’m sleeping better, I’m losing pounds, losing inches, the fog is gone, the crabs are gone…

Friend 1 keeps preparing tea. Erika, brow furrowed in confusion, dissects Friend 1′s last statement, trying to determine whether she perhaps misheard what her friend said. Confused, because Erika didn’t know she and Friend 1 were on STD-discussion terms, Erika looks over at Friend 2, who somehow manages to keep a straight face for two whole more seconds before bursting into laughter.

Friend 1: Oh! Oh, no. Crabbiness. The crabbiness is gone!

Erika: Embarrassed, relieved laughter for five minutes, after which she swipes away the tears in her eyes and proceeds to dissolve into fits of giggles throughout the rest of the day.

In the car on the way home, I was dictating a text message to Friend 3 using SIRI, which went something like this:

Erika: SIRI, please send a text to Friend 3.

SIRI: Ok, what would you like it to say?

Erika: “When you get home, ask Friend 2 why Friend 1 has crabs.”

I’d no sooner hit send when my son piped up from the backseat.

Four-year old son: Mommy, why does Friend 3 have crabs?

And that, my friends, is the reason I had to explain to my son why no one has crabs. When asked why it was a joke, I replied that sometimes, crabs are just funny.

It’s possible my son will grow up thinking I have some kind of weird attachment to crustaceans, but I won’t care, because I’ll always have the memory of the day my son asked me why Friend 3 has crabs.