Cutting Corners

Among other things I have called myself, I am now deeming Mama Burde the worst Christmas Present Wrapper in the History of the Entire World.

It’s pretty bad.

But actually now that I think about it, I once saw my husband tape a paper plate to a box when he ran out of wrapping paper.

Edit: I am now deeming myself the SECOND worst Christmas Present Wrapper in the History of the Entire World.

But honestly, I don’t care.

There are some things I cut corners on.  Wrapping gifts is one of them. It is so beautiful and cheery when people wrap gifts with bows and ribbons and little flares here and there.  But really, I’d rather spend my time getting something else done.

I wrapped all of our Christmas presents in about 10 minutes.  I blasted through about 20 gifts, giving me a two minute per gift wrapping average.  Pretty impressive.

I’m so not a slacker.  I just choose to cut corners on things that I really don’t think matter that much.  The paper is going to get ripped; if you’re my toddler you don’t even see the wrapping paper because you’re so excited to open what’s inside.  If you’re my husband, you don’t care if it’s wrapped or not.  And, if we’re hauling gifts in the car to visit family than it’s all about ramming them in as little space as possible.

So, if I didn’t trim enough paper off the ends of a box and the wrapping is all bulky and my dollar store tape is half hanging on, at least I can say I was able to take the extra time to get the kitchen cleaned up or watch an episode of Extreme Couponing so I can make myself feel like an even more frivolous shopper.

Yes, there are so many better things to do than spending extra time putting a little pizzazz on my gift wrap.

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Let’s Give Credit Where Credit is Due

They call me the casserole queen. Well, not really. No one has ever called me that. It’s actually the first time I have ever used that term.

My point?

I make a lot of casseroles.

‘And, why do you make a lot of casseroles Mama Burde?’

Thanks for asking…

Before we had baby Burde #2 I went through a phase where I never mixed our foods for dinner. Example of a Burde nest’s dinner about a year or so ago: chicken, corn, potatoes and probably a salad. (The salads have stuck because that is one vegetable I can always count on the hubs eating.)

Example of a Burde nest’s dinner for about the last six months: chicken, corn, pasta, all mixed together in some sort of concoction that allows me to call it a casserole. (I am also known unlovingly as the Cream of Chicken queen.)

The major reason I make casseroles (in or out of a crock pot) is because the hour or so before dinner is probably one of the busiest times for me. The girls are getting up from a nap with energy and I’m trying to keep them entertained while I get dinner made. It used to be very easy with our handy-helper toddler, but the babe just isn’t quite ready for the apron yet.

So I have this saying: if isn’t in a casserole or a crock pot, it’s not going to get done.

So who are we giving credit to? Me? The infamous casserole queen?

Ahhhhhh…no. My husband.

I provide a limited variety for dinner each night, especially when it comes to meat. As Chris Farley would say in one of the best movies of all time, Tommy Boy, ‘Chicken or chicken?’ I choose chicken. Every.single.night.

My husband sits down blind for dinner almost every night.  And, he eats whatever I cook.  He likes meat. I like veggies. If I am to eat meat it’s going to be chicken. I can’t remember the last time I have cooked a steak. I am confident in saying I have never cooked a steak (or ordered one at a restaurant).

I am afraid of steak. There, I said it.

I am afraid because I don’t know how in the world I would cook it. Chicken is easy. And I have mastered it. My BFF Bobby Flay told me not to flip it a bunch of times while cooking it and my husband told me to sear it first to keep it juicy. It’s works!

If I went to the store to buy steak to cook, one of two things would happen:

  1. I would buy the worst cut of red meat ever produced and present it to my hopeful husband as a delicious steak.
  2. I would buy THE most expensive steak known to man and cook the living heck out if it until it resembled my husband’s shoe.

So what will I do? Continue to cook chicken until my family goes on chicken strike and forces me to cook something else? No, I will face my fears and cook a steak – make that two. One for my husband and…one for my husband to have as leftovers…not really, I will-I will try to eat it.

My goal is to cook the poor man a steak by the end of the year. And since it’s December 16 I’d better get going!  (This is where you rescue a helpless burde by posting some of your easy and delicious steak recipes).

All I want for Christmas is…

…a pooper scooper.  Yep, you read that right.  A pooper scooper.

We have a dog.  You may have read about him.  He’s kind of a big guy and of course that means big piles in the yard.  About two years ago, shortly after we got the big lug, I splurged on a primo-super-duper pooper scooper.  This thing was like the Cadillac…no, scratch that, Mercedes Benz with a little Bentley sprinkled on top, of pooper scqszoopers.

My father-in-law, who taught me all I know about scooping poop, called it, ‘the high class’ pooper scooper.  And he was right.

It was not only high-end, high-class and high-style, it did the job quickly and efficiently.  And if you know anything about me, you know efficient is my middle name.  You could scoop a lot with little effort.  Most importantly, I didn’t break my back bending over with the old stand-by shovel.

I’m telling you this pooper scooper was so amazing it actually made people want to scoop poop. 

A few days after we were home with our second child this spring, my step-dad was over.  He took a walk outside to look for deer and other wildlife.  You know what he ended up doing? 

He scooped.   

He even said when he saw this beaut he knew it wouldn’t be that hard.  So true, so true.

But sadly, sometime this summer the high-class scooper was broken.  I was spared scooping pretty much all summer, but I did the job recently to clean the yard before the first snow fall.  And, my back is still aching.  I miss that thing.

Even sadder is the fact that I have Googled my beloved scooper and can’t find it anywhere.  But I will find it.  Or at least something comparable to it.  It’s practical and certainly makes a totally disgusting job a little easier.  And I am not too proud to say that all I want for Christmas is a pooper scooper.

Mommy First. Professionally Unprofessional.

I work from home. That can sound a little sketchy, like when I see the ‘Make $1,000 a week working from home!’ ads. But, it’s legit. In fact, I know quite a few people who work from home in my field. Marketers, graphic designers, etc. can make quite a good living doing what I do and companies can save a lot of money by hiring people like me without having all the overhead, retirement, health insurance and other costs associated with having employees.

Now that I’ve plugged my business…

They call me a ‘working mom.’

I consider myself a ‘mom working.’

I am fortunate enough to not only work from home, but keep a more part-time schedule and flex my hours a lot, doing work at night if needed, or early in the morning before the kids get up. (Yeah, like that ever happens.) Our oldest daughter just turned three in October so I’ve had just over three years to look like a fool in various venues, meaning I look like a mommy first and professional second. I’m OK with that.

I have…

  • Spilled diapers out of my purse as I put it down while meeting with a prospective client for lunch. 
  • Lied to clients (yes, I’ve lied) when they ask what that noise is in the background… ‘nope, not my daughter in the monitor…just the radio in the background.’ 
  • Told many, many poop stories to clients and realized the topic after it was too late to return. I had to finish the stories hoping they’d laugh at the end. Most of the times, they did. 
  • Spoken to clients on the phone while nursing…gotta love the multi-tasking options with the telecommute, minus a web cam, of course. 
  • Along the same lines, but one thousand times more embarrassing was when I quickly dropped something off to a client shortly after our oldest was born. I had leaked and didn’t realize it until I got home. I felt full of awesomeness after that one. And I was obviously full of something else too.
  • Let’s just get all the nursing stories out in the open here…had to pump while working at a marketing agency I do work for.  It was just me and one other employee (male, of course), in their fairly small office.  I had to come out and tell him what I needed to do.  He could only get himself to say, ‘do your thing.’ He was actually great about it!  And now that he has a prescious little girl he can totally relate.

But over the past few years I have become more open and honest about how I run my business. Not that I tried to hide anything before, but I try and be blatantly upfront about the fact that I don’t work full time and I’m not available 24/7 to anyone else but my family. But when I work, I work. And my kids are well taken care of so I can concentrate on something I love to do.

So, the next time you’re in a meeting and you see a mom with drool on her right shoulder and diapers peeking out of her purse, show her a little love. And bring her a latte for crying out loud. She deserves it!

Big. Tall. Fat. Chubby-Wubby.

About four years ago when I trained an employee group on customer service, I told a story that I recall like it was yesterday.  I was in Meijer, perusing the chip aisle, when a little girl, probably three or four, said to her mother, “mom, that lady is biiiiiiiiig.”  Nice.

The truth is, I have been tall for as long as I can remember.  While my driver’s license says I’m 5’11”, when I was last measured I actually came to 6’2”.  My self-confidence must have risen slightly because there was a time I would be too scared to even write that.  Six-two…that’s like a man, I know.

I honestly cannot remember for the life of me why I shared that story to the group or what the heck it had to do with customer service.  I’m sure it had some connection, but it’s also likely I wanted to use my platform when speaking in front of a few hundred people to say, “Hey! Teach your kid the word tall if it’s the only thing you teach them!”  I’m not big.  I’m tall.  There’s a rather big (no pun intended) distinction there.

So about a month or so ago our toddler was looking at her reflection in my husband’s car and it was distorted.  She said to me, “Hey mom look. I look fat!”  Then she backed up and went forward multiple times saying, “Fat…regular…fat…regular.”  She was pretty excited about the whole thing, but I was somewhat appalled that she would say that, and I told her she was just perfect no matter how she looked.

Then she said it again when she was all bundled up underneath her Halloween outfit.  It was something to the effect of, “I feel fat.”  Really, did our toddler who just turned three say she feels fat?  While I can’t say for sure that I have never, ever said that in front of her (but she would remember, even if I said it once two years ago), I can say that it isn’t something I say often, if at all.

So, I started paying attention to things and finding out how this word, fat, has entered her vocab so much.  As we’ve been reading books over the last few weeks it’s probably come up at least once per day.  The big fat caterpillar…the big fat cat had a big fat smile…and so on and so on.  Seems totally harmless until your toddler starts using the word like a teenager.

The kicker was when she looked at her precious baby sister the other day and said, “Mom, she has a fat face.”  WHAT?  So, acting quickly I said, “Your sister isn’t fat.  She’s a healthy, happy baby.”  To which she replied, “Well, what is she then? You know, her cheeks and stuff.”

Good question.

At the spur of the moment I said, “Your sister is a cute little chubby-wubby.” And she is.  At seven months she has chubby-wubby cheeks and chubby-wubby legs.  I.just.love.them.  The chubber-wubbers is a happy, healthy babe. 

Our toddler does listen well.  Tonight she pushed her skinny little belly out when I was putting her to bed and said, “Mom look, I have a chubby-wubby belly.  But it’s not fat!”  Success?  Failure?  Is there really a difference between fat and chubby-wubby?  I think I’ll stick to telling her not to comment on her or other people’s appearance and remind her God made each one of us just perfect.  Even my big, chip aisle shopping, tall as a man self.

Code Brown

I guess if you’re a mommy and a blogger then this subject will come up sooner-than-later.  Since this is only my sixth post I guess you can say it came up sooner for me.

I’m not sure what you call explosions of the rear-end kind at your house, but in the Burde nest we call them Code Browns.  And if a Code Brown is called, it means back-up is needed.  It’s no joke.

I can’t remember the last time I called a Code Brown.  Honestly, I don’t know if I have ever personally called a Code Brown.  Maybe once.  I am pretty good at handling any kind of explosion that comes at me.  Armed with a box full of wipes and sincere love for my babies, I can usually get through anything.  Tonight was a different story.

Two little girlies taking a nice bath together tonight ended with mom throwing up in her mouth several times.  Our oldest was being so cute with the babe, talking to her and even singing, ‘This little piggy’ while touching her toes.  Suddenly our oldest looked over and said, ‘mom…what’s this?’

‘I don’t know, honey.  Where did that come from?’  Then I realized the answer to that question.

You can guess where the story goes from here.

As I urgently persuaded our toddler to get out of the tub like she’s chasing the ice cream man, I scooped up the babe and got her onto a nice clean towel.  So, why the Code Brown?  The tub was only the first victim.  The action continued and I was stuck in the bathroom assessing the situation. 

  • Two wet kids
  • One wriggly baby
  • Two Code Brown sites
  • And the clincher…no wipes.

If I have ever complained about Verizon I will never again.  My cell phone worked and I was able to call my husband who was upstairs.  And I said it.  Code Brown.

What does Brown do for me? Well, it makes me dry-heave for one.

10 Things I Never Thought I’d Say to (or about) My Dog

Rewind about 10 years ago and you’d find me volunteering at our local animal shelter, walking all the dogs there in a day and crying all the way home, ‘waaaaaa…if I can’t come back tomorrow…who will walk them?…waaaaaa!’ I was like the primo-super-duper dog lover. My husband and I – before kids – even fostered several dogs and for one term I was actually the president of the humane society. Who was that person?

When I was pregnant with our first, who is now three, someone told me that I would not smother, love, cuddle and otherwise obsess about our dogs (we had two at the time) like I did. Whatever lady, that was so not going to be me.

Ten weeks into my first pregnancy something terrible happened. Our beloved, wonderful, amazing, human-like Great Dane passed away suddenly. We were crushed. For many years Duke was like my child when we couldn’t have any. He actually thought he was a human, so it worked out well for the both of us as I had motherly instincts and nowhere to direct them. He was my baby. My 180 pound baby. And I do still miss him to this day. It was a great time in our lives, full of funny memories of all the crazy things this dog did. Everyone loved Duke.

After Duke passed we still had his brother from another mother, our Bloodhound, Tucker. Tucker was THE laziest dog in the history of the world. The total opposite of Duke, he would lie on the couch all day, sometimes only lifting his head and grumbling when we got home from work. He was more like a cat, needing his space, hiding in rooms we weren’t in to assure he got his 23 hours of sleep in a day. He was actually a perfect dog to have when our oldest was born because he just wasn’t needy and steered clear of the baby girl, maybe only sniffing her once a day. But, once the little babe got mobile, we had to keep a pretty good eye on their interactions together. Tucker was eight at the time she was born and had never been around kids. He would have preferred it stayed that way.

Just after his ninth birthday he developed a very fast-moving form of cancer. Still a little doggy crazy, we took him the cancer center at Michigan State University and discussed a lot of options for him. But, the cancer moved too fast and took over his liver before MSU even got the final results of a tumor that was removed. He was so tired, even more than usual, and we put him to rest as we laid with him at our local vet office.

So, now we have Moose. The Moose. The Big Dufus, Lugnut and my very large, brown and furry shadow. We got him from the local shelter when he was about a year old and our oldest was about one and a half. Now that we have two kids I don’t have much time for him. Plus, he is always in my way, or tucked behind my rear, getting as close to me as he possibly can no matter where I go. The only time he isn’t connected to my behind is when he is very anxiously awaiting my next move and gone to the next spot he thinks I’m going to (and he’s usually right). I also have a toddler who does the same thing so guess who gets priority? Not Moose.

He’s kind of like Duke when I think about it. He has to be in the mix and by my side all.day.long. But now that I have kids it’s frankly quite annoying. He is spectacular (I don’t use that word often) with the kids; a perfect pet to have in a family. But, I tell you what…sometimes I want to open the door and just let him run, hoping he won’t return. BTW that has happened on accident before. He always comes back to me.

I digress…but that’s the background to lead into The Top 10 Things I Never Thought I’d Say to (or about) My Dog. You’re earned it by your patience…here they are.

  1. Moose, go jump in the river. (We live on one.)
  2. Oh, you like this dog? He’s yours.
  3. How much is that doggie Prozac? Are you kidding me? How can they charge that much? We’ll take a year’s worth.
  4. Oh, it’s OK that you let him outside Charter repair man…he’ll come back. And if he doesn’t, that’s fine too. 
  5. Don’t look at him, raise your voice even a half-octave or even think about him. It gets him too excited. 
  6. Oh look, Moose was so excited he peed on you. 
  7. Moose if you don’t get out of my way I’m going to slam my head into the refrigerator.
  8. Hurry, run out the door before Moose sees that we’re leaving!
  9. Moose, can I please have five inches of personal space?

And my personal favorite…

  10.  Moose, get out of my butt.

Disclaimer: Don’t call animal control on me. We do love the big Lugnut, feed him, pet him and make sure he is otherwise happy. And, I do cuddle up with him. It’s just when no one is looking.