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My Little Light

10 Jan

Whine: I haven’t had any Whine and Cheese in 518 days–no wonder I’m so hungry.

Cheese: Around here there are always plenty  of Whine and Cheese to go around.

I bet you guys thought that since my kids are getting older and more people-ish that they weren’t giving any more material to write about.

I bet you thought that moving into our faaaaahhhhncy new house meant I totally got my act together and didn’t need our time together anymore.

I bet you thought I had outgrown my need to share the minutiae of my daily disasters with my 100 closest (electronic) friends.

Of course you didn’t. You know me better than that.

The truth is, this little blog got too heavy for me to carry for a while. But now it’s becoming too much of a burden to keep it on the shelf any longer.

So I’m back.

Lots has changed in the last 518 days. Differnt house, different job, different car.

Lots has stayed the same in the last 518 days. Same cast of characters. Same circles of endless hijinks and tomfoolery. Same desire to let the light I find in my days shine out–and hopefully make someone else’s days a little brighter.

I’m not sure what A Little Whine and Cheese will look like in the next 518 days. But I know I can’t afford for it to stay empty.

Thanks for supporting my time off and for encouraging my return.

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Get in my Belly: Raspberry Truffle Cake

11 Dec

We all know that once you become a mom (or grandmom), you’re usually stuck buying your own presents and tooting your own birthday horn while your progeny eat the cake you made for your own birthday. So when Kiki’s (aka Grandma) birthday rolled around, I wanted to give her a little birthday surprise. I made her this cake.

Raspberry Truffle Deliciousness

Three layers of dense, rich chocolate cake sandwiched around thick dark chocolate ganache and a homemade rapsberry filling, which are then covered in tangy raspberry buttercream and drizzled with perfect chocolate glaze.

It’s as good as it looks, if I do say so myself. In fact, my sister-in-law called me the next day and after I turned down her proposal of marriage (it wouldn’t have worked out between us), she told me that she had lain awake the night before writing poems about the cake.

You may be wondering why I am torturing you so, teasing you with my self-congratulatory pictures and sumptuous details. It’s mean, I realize. Except that I am going to make this showstopper available for purchase for a limited time.

WHAT??

No joke. I am going to make four of these cakes this month. Which means that after the one I keep for myself (I told you it was good) I’ll have three available for sale.

Imagine walking into your company Christmas party carrying one of these. Or having those pretty pink raspberries smiling up at you from your Christmas table. Or maybe you sitting alone with it in a locked bedroom with a glass of wine and a fork. . .

There’s no special reason I’m selling these. I’m not raising money for a new ten-speed (although I may have to if Mr. Dad can’t fix the car) or quitting my day job. I just kind of wanted to see if we could turn my obsession with baked goods into something we can all enjoy. Instead of me making them and eating them all and having to spend money on new elastic-waist pants, I figured I could share the wealth. It’s a win-win really.

Each cake serves 12,  is priced at $35, and they are first-come, first-served. I’ll give you $5 off if you can tell me my son’s middle name. If you want to buy one, contact me at sarahdsoule AT gmail.com at least 24 hours in advance.

If you live far away or $35 is a little steep for you, and you want to try making this yourself, the directions are here.

You know you want one. . .

p.s. I promise to post a real post this week. Stay tuned. . .

p.p.s. If you’re new at A Little Whine and Cheese and trying to figure it out, welcome. You may want to check out this or this. Or this.

Recovered, part I

2 May

Whine: Big Sis has decided the (pre)school year should end in April. What started with a simple case of I-forgot-to-give-Mommy-a-goodbye-kiss tears last week in class has blossomed into a full scale meltdown. Her crying jag this morning started before she even got out of bed.

Cheese: She actually likes school. So as much as it causes me physical pain to drop her off with those red, puffy eyes dolefully stabbing tiny daggers into my heart, I know that as soon as I round the corner out of sight, she’ll be ok. Her sweet teachers will give her as many hugs as it takes. Her friends will wave excitedly and draft her into the playground battle against the Evil Boys. Plus, I’ve got an ace up my sleeve–I put chocolate pudding in her lunch. It’s hard to be melancholy while eating chocolate pudding (trust me.)

You know those people who are at significant family events and just as the action is getting good and the camera lenses start snapping, they are in the corner furiously making room on their memory cards and missing the actual event?

Those people drive me crazy.

But a few weeks ago I was one of  Those People. I blame my new computer, it’s photo storage-thing-a-ma-bobby is very confusing and so I had not been erasing pictures as I went along. And for our family, March is birthday season, so there were cakes, cakes, cakes and parties and presents and whatnot to photograph. I’m a little bit of a Memory Hoarder, which means that I had approximately 1, 374 pictures of Brother Bear eating his first bites of chocolate birthday cake. (So sweet, yet so disgusting.) Finally, I decided to get it over with and unload my pictures/memory card.

Well, due to a very scientific process called User Error, I managed to swipe that card clean. Except that the pictures I had swiped off hadn’t actually been moved to the computer yet, and therefore no longer existed in the history of the world. Which means that none of it ever happened. Lil’ Sis had never had a Rapunzel party and turned three. Brother Bear certainly hadn’t turned one. Because without the pictures, there’s no proof. No memory.

My stomach lurched, and I started spewing incoherent epithets at the evil trolls who live in my computer waiting for me do dumb stuff (it’s not a long wait). Big Sis was hovering nearby and trying to distract me by pecking me to death with questions and requests. I can honestly say that I regarded her with calm composure as I told her to GIVE MOMMY A MINUTE PLEASE BECAUSE I AM THE STUPIDEST PERSON ON EARTH SO PLEASE STOP ASKING FOR CHOCOLATE MILK RIGHT NOW. (SOB)

In that moment, I did the smartest thing I could do. I put the camera away. Didn’t touch it, didn’t use it. But banished it to the top bookshelf so it could think about what it had done.

I spent the day berating myself (and the  evil trolls, of course), but managed to come back to my senses by day’s end. The thought of never getting to revisit those precious birthday faces (and the cakes, oh, the cakes!) made me sad, but I realized that mourning over memories to the exclusion of the actual, living people in the pictures was somehow ironic. And kinda stupid.

So I moved on.

But then, a few weeks later, I had an idea. (Cue lightbulb.) Call it denial, call it genius, it doesn’t matter. I googled my little fingers off and discovered that there are really briliant, benevolent people in the world who expect people like me to do really dumb stuff, and they have designed good trolls, who can go root around and find your lost/erased/destroyed pictures and bring them back. Oh how I love benevolent geeks.

I got my precious pictures back. And what kills me with gratitude is that I didn’t just get the big moments back. The chocolate-smeared hair, the twinkly princess festivities. I got back the ones I didn’t even remember were there. Like Big Sis’ first (successful) ride on her bike. And Mr. Dad giving Valentine’s roses to his girls amidst an avalanche of smooches.

When I had kids, everybody warned me how fast they grow up, and this is true. But what no one prepared me for was the forgetting.

As my little sweeties jump at warp-speed to the next stage, I barely remember the one we just left. It’s hard to focus my minds-eye on what they looked like then, what little things they did to crack us up, how much they’ve changed. And I think that’s why I hold so tightly to my pictures (as poorly-focused and full of accidental thumbs as they are) and to this blog, because as young as my kids still are, I’ve already forgotten so much.

But I comfort myself in the idea that even the memories that seem ‘forgotten’ have woven themselves into the patchwork of our family story. That most of the memories are good ones. And when my kids and I look back, we’ll see ourselves, albeit through a somewhat-fuzzy lens, as a family that loved. So I guess if there’s a sequel to this movie (Evil Trolls II: Revenge of the Hungry Trolls) and I lose all my pictures (and heaven forbid, blog posts) I can grieve my losses and move on. Right after I kick some serious troll booty.

I will post two of the recovered pictures today. But come back on Thursday for the follow-up picture post. (Hint: there will be pictures of cake! And chocolate-covered baby!)

Every thorn has its rose(s).

Brother Bear's Get Out of Jail Free Card. Because who can resist a baby in a tie?

Long Lost Friend

5 Apr

Whine: I got up extra-early today after a not so great night (courtesy of Brother Bear) to make some banana bread to take to Bible Study this morning. Then, just after cracking the eggs that I’d been sure to double-check I had enough of, I realized I had no flour. Zero. Unless you count whole wheat flour. Which I don’t.

Cheese: I got to exact my revenge on the still-sleeping Mr. Dad (the jerk!) and send him off to the grocery. The banana bread somehow got made and sliced in time to be just warm and tasty for my friends. (And I even saved a few pieces for Mr. Dad.)

When I started A Little Whine and Cheese I made a promise to myself. I told myself that I would never be the blogger that was constantly apologizing for gaps in posting. I knew even then in the ‘honeymoon phase’ of the blog that there would be times when life would just be too. . .lifey, and that blogging would have to go to the bottom of the list. I also knew that contant apologizing (which IS a specialty of mine) would just detract from my message of (I don’t actually know what my message is, but I knew it would detract.)

And so I’m not going to apologize.

But I will say it’s been lonely. I’ve missed you guys.

But I’ll tell you the real reason that I decided today was the day to ignore the crunched up cheerios and sticky banana bread pans and write. It’s because of Louanne. Louanne was the RA in my dorm who had the privilege of  helping me ‘transition’ to life 1,000 miles away from my Mom. (Meaning, lots of hugging and crying.) I haven’t seen Louanne in thirteen years and seven kids (three for me, four for her), but she popped up on my Wall today and told me she needed a little Whine and Cheese.  And it was such a good feeling to be wanted. And so I set aside the tasks that have been driving me (crazy) and started writing. The thing that makes me sad, though, is that it shouldn’t take someone else wanting me to write for me to write.

Because the truth is, as much as I miss writing for y’all, I really miss myself.

I’ve been working and pushing and running so hard lately that life just really isn’t that fun anymore. Now instead of saying  “That sounds fun!” or “When can we start?” when I get an ivitation or opportunity I say “How much is it going to cost?” or “How long is it going to take?” in as put-off and melancholic a manner as possible.

And I’m not depressed. I’ve been there before and this isn’t it. Yet.

But the longer I pretend that I only exist to work, to manage, to wrangle then to fall into bed, the closer I’m going to get to that point.

And of course I’m being all melodramatic about it and acting like I never get a break and poor me and SOMEBODY CALL THE WAAAAMBULANCE.

It’s just that I figure it’s easier to give myself permission to be myself and write and think and BE if I’m having some sort of meltdown than to just say that it’s really ok to stop the spinning plates and foster my insides a little bit. ‘Cause what’s coming up out from inside of me right now is no bueno. I’m brittle and dry and about to crack at any moment, which makes for some pretty terrific mothering, if I do say so myself. (PUTONTHESHOES, PUTONTHESHOES, PUTONTHESHOES NOW!!!!!) Not to mention poor Mr. Dad who, God bless him, thankfully is pretty good at dodging the Emoto-Rockets that I keep launching his way.

Me: You don’t think I’m funny.

Mr. Dad: You’re funny on your blog.

Me: What?? I’m hilarious in person. You must not love me.

Mr. Dad: Good night.

(You know, now that I think about it, maybe he deserved that 7AM grocery run.)

You know, all that to say, I am so thankful for Louanne and for all my readers/friends because you give me a good excuse to reacquaint myself . . . with myself.

Me: Why, hello, self.

Me: Hello. Might I say that I found you to be especially humorous today.

Me: Why thank you, self. But did you mean in writing or in person?

Me: Well both, of course.

Me: Ah, it’s good to be back.

Upgrade

23 Feb

image

Whine: I got up before 4am today and I still managed to run late. That takes talent.

Cheese: The ticket agent had mercy on me and put my bags on the plane. I guess looking perpetually pathetic and frazzled has its upside.

Do I sound smarter to you to today? More organized?? More tech savvy??? I should because I am two-thumb typing this from the ‘comfort’ of my plastic airport chair in the lobby of Chicago’s O’Hare. On my cellular telephone. I know, right?? The thought makes me a little giddy. (Or maybe it’s the four hours of sleep I got last night.)

That’s right, I’m the proud new owner of a smartphone. And boy howdy, I didn’t realize how much I needed to be able to check Facebook from the ladies restroom until now.

My cousin Mikey (who in my mind is still 15, but is actually a real grown up now, so I guess I should probably call him Mike or Michael at this point) got me a sweet hookup with my Samsung Intercept and it has been L-O-V-E ever since.

I have discovered that with my new phone by my side I now actually have the superpowers I’ve been acting like I had all along. For eample, when we are late for a party and also lost even though I actually doublechecked the address and google mapped it for once, I just turn on my phone’s handy dandy gps (instead of listening to Mr. Dad, the human gps) and we end up only being Pretty Late instead of Disastrously Late. (And for the record, Mr. Dad was right.)

Also, my phone has an e-reader with free books on it. So now when I reach the shut-out-the-outside-world stage of a book (about 3/4 of the way in, 2/3 if it’s a good one) where I shun all nourishment, productivity, and human contact, I can now read on-the-go. Like at stop lights and the McDonald’s drive thru window. And Mr. Dad, in an attempt to get me to functionality, can’t hide the book from me.

But Mr. Dad is no better. He runs the battery down slinging tiny animated birds from a slingshot. I think he’ll quit once he beats all 1,342 levels.

My phone helps me keep tabs on my Dad, whose cranky arteries need a re-route (hence today’s travel). No, my phone can’t do the surgery, but I’m pretty sure by 2012 they’ll have an app for that.

The only bad thing about my phone is that I still don’t know how to complete an actual phone call. I end up accidentally checking my email with my cheek while talking to my mother. It took me a week to figure out how to dial someone without scrolling through all 294 contacts. And instead of having the Call Waiting feature, my phone has the Hold On While I Hang Up On You feature. I’m not too frustrated though, I figure it’s a fair way to balance out my newfound Superpowers.

I’d better run, I’m finding myself quite hilarious this morning, which is a sure sign that my Diet Coke is wearing off. Besides, I have a new book (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) I’ll keep you posted on everything as I can. . . I’m sure you’ll be anxious to hear that Mr. Dad has finally bested Angry Birds.

UPDATE: I thought I posted this yesterday morning. But then you all were very quiet in the comments (which is so VERY unlike you), I got curious and figured out noone could actually see the post. Too bad my fancy new phone is not idiot-proof, because I would so buy that app.

A Christmas Surprise, a guest post by Mr. Dad

25 Dec

Whine:  My wife loves surprises, but her prowess at discovering them prematurely is uncanny.

Cheese:  She auto saved her password to A Little Whine and Cheese so she will be reading this for the first time just like you.

About two weeks ago, we’re ruining the children’s dream house by picking up and cleaning.  She says “Do you have anything for me for Christmas,” to which I try to show her my poker face as I sit on seven-deuce off-suit(the lowest possible hand in Texas-Hold-Em poker), and say “I’m not going to tell you that, why, is there something you want?”  She says, “Well, I’ve been sending you ESP messages.”   Translation:  there is something I really want but I want it to be a surprise so I’m not going to tell you what it is. PANIC, PANIC, PANIC.  I ask “Do I know what it is?”

At that moment my brain is throwing all the memory folders open looking for any clue as to what she could possibly be thinking about.  Then I remember:

About six months ago I got an email from my wife with a link attached.   She said, “if you ever want to get me something sometime here’s a good idea.”  I think: WOW, I am the luckiest guy in the world, she told me what she wanted all I have to do is get online andFOOTBALL SEASON IS HERE COWBOYS, BAYLOR, TCU Etc. And I kinda forgot about it, although I did save the link.

So I go to the link (http://www.belkaidesigns.com/product/fear-to-freedom-necklace) and it’s a cool necklace that raises money for a good cause too. Now, its important that she not know I’m getting this, and she does all the bill paying, and banking so if I buy it wit a credit card she will know, so I call my brother and get his credit card info and order it to send to his house.  YES!! She’ll never know, I thought…

A week later I’m sitting on the couch with her posting my beautiful hand made poker table on Craigslist.  I ask her opinion about it and I hand her the computer and she fixes it.   I had my email open and as she closes the craigslist tab gmail pops up briefly.  She gasps and almost starts crying.  I say “what?”  She says “I saw something I shouldn’t have.”  (Not that I’m tempted, but the chances of me keeping a Tiger Woods-double life are less than getting struck by lightning.)   Of  course she saw the email halfway down the page that confirmed my purchase.  Dang It.

Whine: I don’t do a good job of telling her how important she is to me and my world.

Cheese: She keeps being important anyway.

One thing I love about her is her unquenchable desire to know others better.  Its important because she is married to someone with “the emotional capacities of a teaspoon.”  She draws me out. She makes me a little uncomfortable.  I love that.  Its not just me though.

If you have the privilege of knowing her, then you have probably experienced some of this yourself.  She wants to know you.  In a favorite book of mine the main character introduces a “particular friend,”  which describes a relationship that is 1. special and worth mentioning, 2. exceptional, 3.  personal.  I am her “best friend” (sorry 5b) because it implies exclusivity.  You are her particular friends because you are each of the 3 things above.   Some more some less, but she always wants more.  And thats part of why she is loved.

Thanks for reading. she probably wont let me post again, and it wouldn’t be a surprise anyway.

Merry Christmas

Mr. Dad

Attitude of Grrrrr-attitude

3 Dec

Whine: Morning and I do not get along. We never have. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of waking me up can attest to that–I once hit a girl who tried to wake me up on a long road trip (So sorry, Carmen). And yet, thanks to the magic of parenting, I no longer need an alarm clock.

Cheese: Despite an early-morning wake-up call, I haven’t hit anyone. Today. (Poor, poor Mr. Dad.)

I hate waking up so much that my mother used to come in my room blowing a whistle and banging to pot lids together like cymbals. And after I finally stumbled into a darkened bathroom to take my shower, I’d lay a towel on the floor and catch a few more minutes of shut-eye before my mom figured out that the shower wasn’t actually running and came back with her homemade marching band.

And here I am, a mother myself now. But I definitely have the opposite problem. These kids don’t need clanging cymbals to rouse them in the morning. The fluttering of a moth’s wings two doors down is sufficient. And forget about trying to use the bathroom between the hours of 5 and 7 am (which happens frequently when you are up with little babies) unless you want really crabby company for the rest of the day.

But mornings aren’t all bad. The fact that Brother Bear woke me well before 7 is the only reason I have time to blog today. So even though I grunted and scowled my way through the first few paragraphs, I’m almost glad to be awake. (It’s still before 9am; let’s not push it.)

That’s what we’re working on these days. Replacing cranky, whiny, stinky attitudes with gratitude. And the kids are working on it, too. At first there’s definitely a little more emphasis on the grrrr. But as we keep flexing our thankfulness muscles, finding the good stuff gets a little bit easier every time.

The other day, I wanted to try out this handy new reframing habit. I could hear the sisters were bickering in the back of the car. I couldn’t completely make out the words, but the tone was enough to inform me of their malicious intent. So I interrupted them and told them to each say something nice about the other.

Big Sis looked over at her beloved sister and said, in all seriousness, “Lil’ Sis, I like the way you have snot running out of your nose.”

Sigh.

In a related story, Christmas is a total beatdown for parents. Not just because of the hustle and bustle and teetering around financial pandemonium. But because of the challenge of teaching our kids to be content with a house bursting with toys and games they mostly don’t play with, despite the fact that they desperately need a whole ‘nother house filled with MORE toys and games for them to use once then ignore.

Which leads to pretty continuous conversations about what everyone else has and how much and how we can never be happy because she has the super-deluxe-edition dolly and I only have the regular-deluxe-edition one. Isn’t life SOOO unfair? And right as I’m schooling my sweetie that the best cure for a raging case of envy is to find all the good stuff you already have, I catch myself drooling over the souped-up 2011 minivan with all of its hubcaps that is driving by.

So I guess I’m thankful that I have kids that force me to face the sad, five-year-old state of my heart so we can learn contentment together. Or should I say grrrateful?

 

*Come back Monday for Part 2 of this post. Two posts in a week? Now that’s something to be thankful for.