Sunday, July 29, 2012

The (Ongoing) Dinner Dilemma

I don’t know about your house but in my house it’s a vicious cycle.  I feed these people every night and then the next night they just want to eat again.

The Ongoing Dinner Dilemma | | #MyGraphics

I used to enjoy cooking.  Before we had kids I’d look for and try new recipes all the time.  I was much more adventurous about trying new ingredients.  What was the worst that could happen?  Every now and then we’d throw out a disaster and grab a bowl of cereal.  We’d either laugh about it later or agree to “never speak of this again”.  I still frequently try new recipes, but unfortunately, this is not an uncommon type of conversation in my house:

Me:  "Older Son, we just finished dinner get out of the cookies." 
Older Son: "I have to eat a cookie every night right after dinner to get the taste out of my mouth."

Some people would take this as an insult.  Truth be told, I sure do.  I used to have dinner parties on a regular basis.  Is it possible that these people all ate before they came?  Or went home laughing?  Or agreed amongst themselves “never to speak of this” again? 

Anyway, I also take this as a challenge.  After all, life isn’t just about baked goods.  If it were, I’d be a pretty popular Mom at meal time.  But somehow, I’ve got to find some new recipes these people like.

When the kids were little, the Doctor advised a “yes, maybe, no” approach to meals.  I was told to put one thing on their plate that they would eat, one they might eat and one they probably would not eat.  They should be required to at least try everything, and hopefully get used to new tastes and textures.  Guess whether this worked in my house or not.  No way.  Jason is as stubborn as… well… me.  He wasn’t going to eat anything he didn’t want to eat.  He lost so much weight we ended up consulting a Dietitian and adding supplements to his milk.

And then there’s Younger Son.  Younger Son has a hyperactive gag reflex, lucky me.  This means that if you insist that he eat something he doesn’t like (or doesn’t like the looks of, smell of, texture of…) he’d immediately shall we say "release" it.  I, one year, had 20 people to dinner for Thanksgiving and made the mistake of making Younger Son try the turkey.  BIG mistake, right Susan?  Yup, he exploded.  Right there in the dining room.  My friend Susan jumped up and quickly yanked the highchair into the kitchen.  Very appetizing.  I had to live with Justin’s preferences or suffer the consequences.  Younger Son ate chicken nuggets, pizza and lobster (well, his Mom IS a New Englander after all).

We’ve come a long way since those days.  My kids can actually name (unfortunately, on one hand) dinners I make that they like.  But here I am, day after day, desperately trying to feed this family and still seeking approval.  Told you I was stubborn. 

Buffalo Chicken Nuggets | | #recipe

Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

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Buffalo Chicken Nuggets

Printable Recipe


2 lg boneless skinless chicken breasts; roasted, cooled, and shredded (or cheat like I did and just save the leftovers the next time you have chicken)

1/3 cup Frank’s hot sauce

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1 cup flour
2 eggs, whisked with a little water 
3 cups panko bread crumbs
Canola oil cooking spray

*Mix together first 5 ingredients.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour.
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put parchment paper onto cookie sheet.
*Roll chicken mixture into balls (should make about 50).
*Roll each of the balls in flour to give the egg something to stick to, then roll in egg, then in panko crumbs.  Put onto baking sheet.
*Lightly spray with cooking spray to help them brown.
*Bake 25 minutes.

 Adapted from BuffaloChicken Bites recipe:
(Adapted from The Food Network)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Our Family Olympics

The boys and I have been in the Olympics.  Bet you didn’t know that.  It was the winter of 1998.  The US team was in Nagano and we were in the Midwest.  The boys were really little, and the flu was making its rounds.  In our house that flu turned into a team sport, and we were the champs.  I’m talking Gold Medals, all.

At that time Husband traveled to NY one week every month for business.  It was during one of those trips that all h*ll (heck) broke loose at home.  Older Son was first.  He was so sick:  fever, unable to keep food or drink down, poor kid.  I took care of him, trying to lower the fever and keep him hydrated all while caring for the not-yet-sick child.  I was next, and Younger Son joined the team right behind me.  There were times I couldn’t even raise my head, let alone care for 2 kids in different stages of the stomach-flu-from-h*ll.  Those days I remember waking up midday with my cheek on the cool kitchen floor to see the boys sleeping on the floor too.  When I was at my worst I would rim the kitchen table (the boys could reach the edges only) with sippy cups of water and juice and with mini bagels spread with peanut butter, with crackers, cinnamon banana bread, with whatever I could think of that wouldn’t go bad that the boys could help themselves to through the day.

Cinnamon Banana Bread | | #recipe

Cinnamon Banana Bread

I don’t live anywhere near my family.  They are all on the East Coast and I’m in the Midwest.  We moved here 10 days after we got married.  My husband was in retail and retail was tanking on the East Coast.  He was recruited by a company here and I agreed to come out here for 2 years.  I didn't realize he meant dog years.

Shortly after purchasing our first home here, a Real Estate Agent made a cold-call to my home.  She was calling people in my neighborhood because she had a new listing and wanted to know if I had any family members looking for a house who might want to move close by.  I told her if she’d put in an ocean and a nice ski mountain I’d ask…

...So there was no family here to help us.  My Mom offered to come out but because you can’t get here directly from…well…anywhere, by the time she got here I figured I’d be minimally functional.  Friends tried to help in a “ding dong ditch” kind of way.  They’d put ginger ale or food or whatever they thought I might need in my front door, ring the bell, and then run for their lives.

In the end we conquered that sport.  It took time and effort and perseverance.  We were sore for days afterwards, but that’s the price an athlete pays. 

Years later, when the boys were in Elementary School, the Olympic Torch went through town. It was being passed from one runner to another nearby. I hadn’t given it much thought, maybe because it was winter and it was freezing out, or maybe because the kids were in school. Sometime during that morning I started to think about wanting the kids to see the torch. I went back and forth about taking them out of school but then I realized that as former Olympians, we probably had an obligation to be there. 

Olympic Torch | | #family
The (Salt Lake) Olympic torch
passed between runners not far from our home.

I’m sure Older Son & Younger Son were thrilled that I showed up at school and took them out in the middle of the day.  I know they didn’t even care that we were standing in a crowd on a street corner freezing and waiting for that exchange to happen.  My Olympians stood directly beside the 2 runners as that torch made its way through their home town, and that made it all worthwhile.  And if flu-fest ever becomes an official Olympic sport?  Sorry, we have no desire to relive those glory days.

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Cinnamon Banana Bread
Ingredients, Dusting:  
3 TBSP sugar mixed with 3/4 tsp cinnamon

Ingredients, Bread:
6 TBSP butter
1 1/2 cups sugar 
2 eggs
3 overripe bananas
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cups cinnamon chips

Ingredients, Topping:
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 TBSP butter

*Preheat oven to 325 degres.
*For the pans: Grease 2 loaf pans and dust with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
*For the bread: Cream butter with sugar. Beat in the eggs, bananas, sour cream and vanilla.
*Mix in the cinnamon, salt, baking soda and flour. Stir in cinnamon chips.
*Divide into the pans.
*For topping: Mix the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter.
*Sprinkle the topping over both pans.
*Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until the top springs back to the touch. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Make an Appointment

Just before the end of last school year, Younger Son got his driver’s license and immediately relieved me of the keys to my BMW.
Younger Son’s only had his license a couple of months, but he’s really cramping my style.  Now if I want to go anywhere I have to make an appointment…to use my own car.  When Younger Son was in school, he’d take the car and I’d be home all day without transportation.  I can’t count how many times I needed this or that, grabbed my purse and keys and ran out to the empty garage.  If I wanted to go to the Grocery store (which I need to do each and every week) I had to work it out in advance.  Once a week Justin got a ride to school, I’d go out and do all of my errands then drive the car up to the school, leave it there, walk home, and text Younger Son to tell him where he could find the car.  What’s wrong with this picture?
Every now and then something would come up during the day that had to be taken care of that day.  Since Younger Son also started working when he acquired  (my) transportation, these days were difficult.  Younger Son would get home from school at 3;30 and have to leave for work at 3:45.  On the days that something had come up, I’d meet him in the garage purse in hand, yank him out of the car, jump in it, race off to wherever and be back in 15 minutes.  I always approached the house after one of these whirlwind errands hoping I wouldn’t find Younger Son sitting on the garage floor dazed.
Besides the inconvenience, here’s the other thing about Younger Son having my car.  This kid has a track record with this car and let’s just say it’s not good.  First let me say that I didn’t often drive with him while he had his Learner’s Permit.  I made a deal (of the “not up for discussion” type) with Husband that concerning Learner’s Permit practice, he’d go out with our sons and I’d go out with our daughters (works for me since we have none). While out practicing, here are a few things that happened:
First, Younger Son got pulled over by the police for questioning for breaking and entering.  Apparently a closed (Sunday) business whose parking lot Justin had used to turn around in had recently been burglarized and the police were secretly watching it.  They followed him and, lights flashing, pulled him over for questioning. Yikes!
Then, a couple of weeks later, Younger Son was out practicing and got a flat tire.
Third, Younger Son was stopped in a turn lane (one in the middle of the road).  Cars on his left were coming towards him so he couldn’t turn left yet.  Cars were coming down the road from behind him on his right (the lane he had just come out of) and suddenly barreling up (what’s supposed to be his turn lane that he’s sitting in unable to move) siren on and lights flashing comes a police car heading straight for him and not slowing down.  Husband ended up telling Younger Son to step on the gas while Husband yanked the wheel into oncoming traffic (in which, fortunately there was a break).  Again, yikes!

Make an Appointment | | #MyGraphics

Now my car may be old, and it may be one of the smaller models, but it’s mine.  And I’m not done with it yet.  Younger Son’s a great driver but he and this car have some kind of weird mojo going on that I don’t like.
Me to Younger Son: "You're working now, we should pitch in together and look at buying you your own car."
Younger Son to me: "No thanks, it wouldn't be as nice as the one I already have."
Me to Younger Son: "Well then maybe we could pitch in and buy ME a car."
But Younger Son’s got another reason why my staying home more works for him.  Because while he’s out driving my car (I think by Eminent Domain or “possession is 9/10 of the law” or some such thing, it may actually legally be his now), I’m home worrying about him.  And we all know what I do when I worry . . .

"Watermelon" Cookies | | #recipe
“Watermelon” cookies

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Watermelon” Cookies

1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp extract (watermelon makes the cookies taste authentic, but I just used strawberry)
Red food coloring
2 tsp baking powder
2 3/4 cups flour
Mini chocolate chips
Approx. 1 cup white chocolate chips, melted
Green colored sugar
*Beat the butter, margarine and sugar. Beat in egg, extract, and food coloring.
*Stir in baking powder and flour. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.
*Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
*Roll dough out, half the recipe at a time, between sheets of wax paper, to 1/3 inch thickness.
*Cut into circles with round cookie cutter (I just used the mouth of a glass) dipped in flour. Cut in half.
*Put a few mini chocolate chips (upside down) into each cookie.
*Bake on ungreased baking sheet for approx. 8 minutes. Cool completely before continuing.
*Dip the rounded end of the cookie into the white chocolate.  Then roll in the green colored sugar.  *Allow to set before storing or serving.
Decorating idea Adapted from

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I ❤ the Red Sox

I ❤ the Red Sox.  If you don’t, or if you like the Yankees (ouch), we’re gonna have to just agree to disagree.  You’re wrong, but I won’t hold it against you.  I’m a fan of all Boston sports, but especially the Red Sox.  I get this from my Grandfather who loved them too, had Season Box Seats.  My brother-in-law, takes my kids when we’re home so they’ve enjoyed games with their cousins, too.  He once treated us to a luxury box including a visit from the Big Green Monster mascot, the opportunity to try on a World Series ring and a Red Sox welcome to the kids by name on the Jumbo-Tron!
Red Sox fandom is not for the faint-of-heart.  Frequently they start out great, then spend some time making sure you’re not feeling too secure, then suck you back into feeling confident right up to the end:  which could go either way in any given year.  Win or lose, it really doesn’t matter, I’ll be right back next year screaming “WoooooHooooo” at the TV in my living room (to my kids’ embarrassment and dismay, an added bonus).
Players have to learn the game.  It takes years.  They take steps up the ladder in their sport and if they’re exceptionally good (with, I’d imagine, some part luck), they may get a chance to play professionally.
Fans have a learning curve as well.  If you want to enjoy the game you have to learn the rules, learn about the players, the stats.  If you want the true experience, go to a game, there’s nothing like it.

I Love the Red Sox | | #family
The cousins watching a game from the Luxury Box

But here’s the hardest thing of all.  You cannot impact that game.  They are on the field and you are in the stands.  You can scream and yell and “WoooooHooooo” all you want.  Every step forward or step back that your team takes in the standings has nothing to do with how loud you yell or how badly you want them to win.  They are on the field doing their job.  You are in the stands eating peanuts.
Sometimes it just has to be OK to be the spectator.  To trust that the team has been coached well, to hope that the players are healthy and that they have a good day.  But you know that even if they don’t you’ll be back for another game, as soon and as often as you can.  Because you are a fan.
When my kids are out driving, in friends’ cars, at the lake, the mall, bonfires, I’m here being their fan.  I have to trust that they have been coached well, are healthy, and will have a good day.  And when it comes right down to it, during those (more and more frequent) times that I’m not with them, I’d rather they see me as their fan than as their Big Green Monster.

My Big Green Monster| | #recipe

My Big Green Monster, on the back deck

Baking In A Tornado signature| | #MyGraphics

P.S.  Thank you ❤Juls ❤ for teaching me emoticons, especially the ❤.

My Big Green Monster

2 ounces Midori melon liquer
1 ounce Amaretto liquer
2 ounces orange juice
2 ounces pineapple juice
*Mix all ingredients and refrigerate till cold.  Serve over ice.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Shortcut to the Long Way

I recently made a no-bake strawberry flavored cheesecake.  While making it I had a great idea for another recipe.  I saved some of the cheesecake filling, cut the bottom off of some fresh strawberries then sliced the tip.  I piped the leftover cheesecake into the strawberries and dusted the top with graham cracker crumbs.
It was so easy.  After all, I used the filling from another dessert.  It was healthy (just give me this one, you see what I usually make), after all, who can argue with fresh ripe strawberries.  It was delicious, we all liked it except Older Son who won’t eat fruit because he says that all fruit gives him a sore throat (don’t ask me, I don’t know).
So I get taking shortcuts, cutting corners, making things easier.  What I’m having a hard time with, though, is when a shortcut is really the long way around.

Strawberry Cheesecake Filled Strawberries | | #recipe

Strawberry Cheesecake filled Strawberries
Recently Older Son bought a doohickey that connects to his computer and does something or other with songs.  He’s figured out a way to hook his thingamabob to his phone and with commands he's pre-assigned, he can press a button and his phone would call 911.  With the press of another button, his voice recognition would tell 911 his address.  This way if we are hiding from a serial killer in the house, we can get help silently. His affinity for scary movies may be leaving its mark.   I’ll have to look into that.
That was fun for Older Son, but under normal circumstances, how much extra effort do you really want to expend to get out of doing what would take less effort to just do?  Follow that?
I get so frustrated when I ask something (let’s face it, anything) of the kids.  They are older now and much more independent.  They seem to think that this means that anything I ask from them is up for consideration…and inevitably rejection.  If I persist, then it’s up for discussion…and inevitably rejection.  If the issue remains on the table, then it’s up for replacement with something they’d rather do… inevitably a rejection.  Really, the smallest things can go on forever.  Why go so far out of your way to make things more difficult?  Just do it, get it over with, let’s all move on.

Shortcut to the Long Way | | #MyGraphics

When Older Son left to take his ACTs back in April, he was pondering aloud whether to actually answer the questions or just answer everything with a "C" and play the odds.  While he was gone, I found myself sitting at home pondering which choice he made
To discourage this particular short cut, Older Son took the ACT prep class up at the High School this summer.  Just make things easier (for me), Younger Son took it too.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Cheesecake-filled Strawberries

1# fresh ripe strawberries, cleaned
8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream, whipped till stiff peaks form
1 tsp strawberry extract
Crushed graham cracker crumbs
*Carefully cut the green leaves off of the tops of strawberries so they’ll sit flat.
*Slice into the tips and down into the strawberries making sure not to cut through the bottom.
*Beat the cream cheese with the sugar and extract until smooth.
*Carefully fold in the whipped cream.
*Pipe cheesecake filling into strawberries.
*Sprinkle with crushed graham cracker crumbs.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Insurance, anyone?

There are all kinds of insurance.  There’s health (don’t get me started), auto (2 male teenaged drivers – don’t get me started), home, life, I bet these days I could insure my insurance.
I do not understand the whole concept of insurance in its current form.   We voluntarily give money to a business.  Under certain circumstances of their choosing, when we are at our most vulnerable, they do us the kindness of allowing us to ask for some of our money back.  Here’s the thing though, they get to decide whether or not they give us any.  Are we nuts?
I will never forget how much time I spent trying to get my health insurance company to pay for my pregnancy test.  I had been through IVF, In-vitro fertilization (see Lightning Strikes).   IVF costs tens of thousands of dollars per try and insurance paid for none of it.  To add insult to injury, they were denying my pregnancy test.  “You’re infertile”, they kept telling me,“we will not pay for a pregnancy test for someone who is infertile”.  “But you don’t understand, it’s positive, I’m pregnant”, I kept saying.  Insurance companies do not listen.  They don’t have to.  My entire pregnancy and delivery was covered (apparently they pay pregnancy and delivery costs for infertile people), but they never, ever paid for that pregnancy test.
I once made the mistake of trying to reason with our homeowner’s insurance company.  I know, how naive. They wouldn’t pay for water damage done by a toilet.  As soon as we saw water damage and realized we had a problem, we immediately stopped using it, called a plumber and got it fixed.  Insurance wouldn’t pay for damages to our house because it takes more than one use for water damage to be noticeable, and they only pay a claim if it's “resolved expeditiously.”  Their stance was that we had to have had it fixed before we could ever possibly have known it was broken.  No consolation prize, no “thanks for playing”, nothing.

Insurance Anyone? | | #MyGraphics

Consolation prize sweatshirt?
One of the most difficult parts of having older children is that, depending on their age and maturity level, you are somewhere in the process of backing off, of letting go.  You want them to start making their own choices and in some cases their own mistakes.  I don’t know how we keep from going insane when we are advocating for one course of action but know that our kids are going to take another.
I took the boys to the bank and signed them up for checking accounts with debit cards, and for savings accounts.  We had lengthy discussions about smart use of money and about the need to save.  One child spends all his money as soon as he gets it.  He doesn’t think, if he wants it he buys it.  I meet the UPS guy at the door daily.  He knows my name.  I’m thinking of baking him a cake.

Icebox Cake | | #recipe

Icebox Cake
At my other son’s request, I had purchased him a gym membership.  Along with the membership you get 2 free consultations with a trainer.  I highly recommended taking advantage of this option.  A trainer can help you to target whatever areas you want to work on.  It is essential that he help you to be sure you are using the equipment safely and properly.  I made my case more than once.  He chose to do his own thing.  One day he called me to come pick him up at the gym.  He “heard something pop” and was, shall we say, in some discomfort.  After some necessary time off, he went back to the gym.  He still hasn’t met with a trainer.
So despite all the insurance I pay for, and the absurd, mind boggling and frustrating calls I have made thinking I could get coverage when I need it, I would volunteer to pay for another policy.  I need “young adult’s questionable choices” insurance.  Any entrepreneurs out there?

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics
Icebox Cake

Printable Recipe

3 cups heavy cream
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1 ½ boxes (64 cookies) Nabisco Chocolate Wafer cookies
Chocolate syrup
*Beat the cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
*Take a little of the whipped cream out and mix with enough chocolate syrup to give you a medium brown color.  Put into piping bag and into refrigerator until ready to serve (this is for decorating the top).
*Put a small amount of whipped cream onto plate. This will hold the first layer of cookies in place.
*Form a circle of 8 cookies (touching) and put one cookie in the center.
*Carefully spread with a layer of whipped cream (approx. 1/8 of what you have as there will be 8 layers).
*Repeat these layers 7 more times.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight so the whipped cream softens the cookies.
*When ready to serve, pipe the chocolate whipped cream onto the top of the cake.
*NOTE: Icebox Cake adapted from (adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook)
If you can’t find the Nabisco Chocolate wafers, you can make your own:
Chocolate Wafer recipe available on (adapted from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Sense of Balance

I was having a conversation with Older Son the other day while I was baking.  I know, dumb idea, but I was preoccupied, I hadn’t thought it through.
Anyway, I was talking to him about the SAT/ACT prep class he has been taking over the summer.  He needs to keep studying for those tests as he’ll be taking them again soon.  He didn’t want me to harp on it and told me that he’s been going onto the ACT website daily and answering their “question of the day.”  Well, honestly, I had a little more of a rigorous prep schedule in mind.  But J’s all about motivation so I asked him what he thinks he’d like to do after next year (no, this is NOT the first time I asked but I keep trying, hoping for a better answer).  I should have known better.
I’ve probably mentioned this before, my kids are opposites.  When they were little I used to say that if my older son’s foot fell off you wouldn’t know until you tripped over it.  But if you brush up against the younger one you’re gonna have to take him to the nearest hospital.  My older son cut his face open (see Quiche and Monkey Bribe . . .  I Mean Bread) and didn’t even cry.  Well, the younger one once came home from school because he slept wrong and had a crick in his neck.  Literally, the Nurse’s office called before I had been able to drive the half mile home from dropping him off.
Older Son has a very abstract view of the world.  It’s creative and interesting and unusual.  Younger Son is totally concrete and literal.   He’s extremely intelligent but he’s hampered by the literal aspect of his processing.  I’ve had to teach him to read cues, facial expressions, even how to interpret my sarcastic sense of humor.
I’ve always said that if I could just put my kids in a blender (well, their traits anyway), what I’d end up with would be a very even balance.  Not too much of this, not too much of that.

My Mom's Sugar Cookies | | #recipe

(Mint Chocolate Chip Shake and) Sugar Cookies
So back to my original story about asking Older Son what he wants to do after High School.  He has given this some thought and decided that he wants to be the scientist who creates the Zombie Plague.  “What will you do then, Mom?”  Not many Moms have had to think about this, and poor you because at least I’m prepared.  What will I do?  “Easy, I’d go find your brother.”  Because here’s the thing.  I’ve got one kid whose aspiration is to create the Zombie Plague, and another kid who’s one of the few people I know smart enough to cure it.  Balance.

A Sense of Balance | | #MyGraphics

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

My Mom’s Sugar Cookies

½ cup oil                                           
1 stick butter                                      
1 cup sugar                                        
1 egg                                                 
2 ½ cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
2 TBSP milk
colored sugars
*Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
*Cream oil, butter and sugar.  Add egg, then remaining ingredients (except the colored sugar)
to form a ball.
*Form into 1 inch balls and roll in colored sugars.
*Put onto ungreased cookie sheets, about 24 to a sheet.
*Press down gently with a fork.
*Bake for 12 minutes.  Cool one minute before removing from cookie sheet.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lightning Strikes

There’s an old saying that lightning never strikes the same place twice.  After all, what are the chances that lightning will strike a specific place even once?  Hard to imagine . . . but twice, I don’t think so.
I grew up in on Little Tree Lane.  I kid you not.  What a quaint little name for a quiet little street.  Big lots, well maintained houses, nice neighbors, lots of kids walking to school together. You’d never guess that my house on Little Tree Lane actually WAS hit by lightning…twice.  I think I was pretty young the first time.  I know that the lightning hit a light switch downstairs but that’s all I know.  I had to have been pretty young not to remember because believe me, when you’ve been where lightning strikes it makes its impression.
We’re all different.  There are things we worry about and things we do not.  When you live in a house that’s been hit by lightning, you worry less in a storm.  You’re completely confident that even in a bad storm, the one place that lightning is  NOT going to hit is your house.  The second time it happened I remember vividly. The crash is deafening.  The earth shakes. Hard.  The wall is black.  Before you even know what just happened, you know you are terrified.
My whole life I looked back at those lightning strikes and thought what incredible bad luck that was.  And then, a few years after I got married, it all came full circle.
I was already living 1500 miles away at this point.  I was far from home and family and my Doctors, and I could not get pregnant.  We saw different Doctors, attempted surgery that could not successfully open my tubes to the point of viability, and were faced with the fact that the only option that could result in my giving birth was IVF, In-Vitro Fertilization.  It was a physically and emotionally arduous process, with the depressing statistical chance of a cycle ending in pregnancy at around 15% at that time. Our story is a very long story, each element an entire story in itself.  I won’t go into the whole thing here and now.
It’s not the kind of story you glaze over either, but here’s the basics:  The first attempted cycle was abruptly ended by growths on my ovaries. The first full cycle ended in pregnancy . . .  and miscarriage.  The second was a chemical pregnancy but the third time I got pregnancy with twins.  The twin that was ectopic (inside that little bit of tube we had opened) could have killed me but emergency surgery (in the middle of the night, when my husband was out of town and while the tornado sirens were sounding as I drove myself to the hospital) successfully removed that tube.  Miraculously my doctor (love you, Maud) was able to do it without jeopardizing the other, viable pregnancy.  Seven months later lightning struck.  Against great odds we had a son.
Here’s the thing about having lived in a house struck by lightning twice.  You end up with a skewed perspective.  You know it can happen.
Not long after Older Son’s birth we decided to try again.  It’s a harder decision than you’d think.  We had an amazing gift, did we really want to jump onto that emotional roller coaster again?  If not for those lightning strikes on Little Tree Lane all those years ago, I could very well have been a person who believed you beat the odds but once in a lifetime.  But as it happens I was not.
My first P-OS (post-Older Son) attempt ended abruptly when the embryos I had frozen were not viable at transfer time.  OK, off all the meds and try a full IVF cycle.  This one ended in pregnancy.  At about 10 weeks pregnant, while back home visiting family, I woke up cramping and in a pool of blood.  My doctor consulted with my former hometown gynecologist, who jumped in despite not having set eyes on me in years.  My sister’s friend gave me shots twice a day.  I was on bed rest.  It was a wait and see situation.
The following March lightning struck again.  We had 2 sons.
I wanted my kids to know the circumstances that brought them to us.  They were always told the basics of how we came to have them and how many people we needed to help us. When the boys were little we used to go into Maud’s office once a year.  They went to tell her “thank you for putting me in Mommy’s belly”.
I know you think that I’m telling YOU this story but I’m not.  I’m reminding me.  In my life, lightning HAS struck twice.  And it has happened…twice.
Strawberry Parfait | | #recipe
Strawberry parfaits

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

PS: A version of this post was published on  Huffington Post Parents as Lightning Strikes: What the Weather Taught me About Infertility on 5-14-15.

Strawberry Parfaits

Printable Recipe

1 (3 oz) pkg strawberry jello
1 cup boiling water
1 cup chopped strawberries
½ cup cold water
Whipped cream (I used Redi-Whip)
*Dissolve gelatin in boiling water.
*In food processor, liquefy the strawberries.
*Mix the strawberries and the cold water into the jello.
*Refrigerate until it starts to thicken (about an hour) then skim off foam.
*Refrigerate another 2 hours till almost totally firm.  Place into see-through container alternating with whipped cream.