Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

For Daddy


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Inside my head


I’ve not written much about our impending move since sharing that I’m not overjoyed to be leaving my great friends and selling my beautiful house.  I’ve had a few email and facebook inquiries so I thought I would follow up. (Thank you all for thinking of me!)

I’m okay. I’m still not overjoyed about leaving my great friends and selling my beautiful house but I’m adjusting.  Steve leaving was a reality check.  I don’t want to be apart from him.  He is my foundation.  I love my great friends and beautiful house but none of it makes me happy without him.  (All together now “awwwww”.)  I also had to knock off some of my moping and whining because he offered to quit his new job and find another one here so that we could stay.  I didn’t want to be such a whiny baby that he was ready to give up his new job so I’m toning it down a little.

I was fully involved in the decision from the beginning; I just didn’t realize how much I would hate the idea of leaving.  I keep reminding myself why I agreed to do this in the first place and run through the good things about it in my head.  First and foremost?  I’ve been able to revive my MLS obsession.  I love houses.  It might be a bit of an addiction.  At first, combing the MLS in the areas we are considering living depressed me. The housing market in Pittsburgh doesn’t seem to have suffered as many markets have.  Everything in our price range was boring, not updated 1950’s ranches or 1970’s split levels (not that there is anything wrong with that).  But we’ve found some interesting options that give me hope that when we are ready to buy again we might be able to find something interesting.  The reality is that we will pay the same or a little more money for about 1/3 less square footage in Pittsburgh.  But we always said this house was bigger than we needed anyway.

(Playing with my white balance on the new camera.)

I feel bad that my obvious difficulty with this move has put greater pressure on Steve.  He feels a responsibility to find (and pay for) a great house and to love his job to make it all worth it.  My intention in expressing my grief was never to make it more difficult for him.  I have a need to process my feelings out loud and unfortunately that sometimes means my husband hears more about what is going on inside my head than he needs or wants to.  I didn’t do the stiff upper lip thing so well this time – I was much better at it when we moved south.

The bottom line of it all is that now that the process has begun (Steve in Pgh, the house on the market), I am hoping for a swift resolution.  I will miss the life we’ve built here but it will all be good in the end.

For my long time readers/friends, watching Steve drive away yesterday was oddly reminiscent of Guatemala. Although this time I speak the language and the water won’t kill me.

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This also happened…


And we are fine.

(Yes, I seem to be stuck on the collage thing right now. Seems less cluttery than a bunch of individual photos. I’m sure I’ll tire of it soon.)

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So this happened today…


and it sucked. Hard. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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I love seeing their little heads – one so dark and one so fair – bowed together while they discuss, explore, and discover together.

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Sabrina and Tessa are different in many ways.  One way is their reaction to my camera.  When Tessa is paying attention, she hides from my camera.  I truly have to catch her when she isn’t thinking about it.  Sabrina has developed a new habit since I got my new camera.  She immediately starts striking odd poses.  I have to tell her to stand still and smile in order to get a semi normal shot of her.  The other night, she was in the middle of asking me a question, noticed the camera in my hand (I was taking a photo of the broccoli for the post).  She immediately stopped talking and started vogue-ing.  Instead of clogging up your screen with 27 photos of Sabrina’s new vogue-ing habit, I thought I would make it one image.

And just to show it wasn’t an isolated incident, these are the photos I got while taking her last day of school photo.  I snapped 2 that looked normal.  The rest were like this.

And just to give Tessa a little equal opportunity collage time – proof she is momma’s girl…she loves her some pasta! She was begging like a baby bird with her mouth hanging open.

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No more teachers, no more books


It is odd. I can’t even get all nostalgic about it because I have no idea what is happening next school year.  Sabrina might have another year of preschool if we end up back in Pittsburgh before school starts.  Their cut off date is 4 days before her birthday.  If we are still here, she’ll start school and then be a transfer student to kindergarten.  I’m assuming we’ll still be here but who knows?  So this was either that last day of her first year of preschool or the last day of preschool.  Either way, she is strangely excited about summer vacation for a kid who went to school to play 75% of the time.

And yes, I’m totally ignoring how big she has gotten. Gah!

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Those aren’t crickets, they are locust*


Been rather quiet around here, eh?  Sorry about that.  The girls and I have been enjoying time with Steve before he moves north next weekend.  So as my friend, Carla, would say – I’ve been busy living not blogging.  I also spent 3 solid days making it look like no one lived in my house so that it could go on the market.  It was a very frustrating, overwhelming, irritating task.  But we officially went on the market Sunday.  And we removed most evidence of us living here.

Have you ever seen kitchen counters so clear?

And it is rare to not see crumbs and toys strewn about this area:

And this poor dining room looks like it needs some people and some personality!

Why yes, it did take me cleaning the house within an inch of its life and putting it on the market to get around the sharing photos of my house that were requested 6 months ago. Heh.

My feelings about strangers tramping through my house, judging it, and finding it lacking aside, all is well here.  The girls are unsure of exactly what is going on but we’ve been talking in tentative terms about maybe selling the house and maybe moving closer to grandma and pap-pap.  They don’t see the bigger implications of it yet but they are excited about living closer to grandparents and aunts and uncles.

Some of our friends have become an important part of our lives and my girls will miss them. I am thankful to have found people who care about my kids at a time we were far away from family.

*The 13 year cicadas are out in our area.  It is rather deafening in many places.

Roasted broccoli


Ina Garten’s recipe for Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli has way more ingredients than I use.  I’m sure her way is even better but I’m doing it the lazy way my way.  I took her general idea and made it a little simpler and now I am obsessed with roasted broccoli. I want to eat it at least once a day.  Some days, I make a pan and that is lunch.

Broccoli purchasing tip – if you are a member of Sam’s Club, you can purchase a big bag of fresh florets for the price of 2 bunches at the grocery store.  It contains 4 or 5 bunches worth. Obviously, you have to eat a lot of broccoli to make it worth your while.  I’m kind of a picky veggie eater and broccoli is one of my favs so I tend to buy the bags except in the summer when we are going to the farmers market every week.

I don’t think this is a recipe so much as a cooking method.  And I might be the last one to have tried this so  you all might be rolling your eyes but WOW it is yummy this way.

Preheat the oven to 425*.

Put as much broccoli as you like on a baking sheet.  Just the florets.  Make sure the broccoli is dry – if it is wet, it will steam instead of roasting.

Drizzle the broccoli florets with olive oil.  Don’t drench – just drizzle.  (This close up shows that it isn’t saturated. The dark lines are where the oil drizzled over it.)

Sprinkle entire pan with sea salt.

Roast at 425* for 23-25 min.  When you remove it from the oven, drizzle with some lemon juice (I’ve used both fresh and the stuff out of the plastic lemon).  Then grate some fresh parmesan or asiago cheese on top.

The browned parts are a little crunchy and the flavor of it is changed a bit – just pure yum.  My husband and I both have declared this our favorite way to eat it.  I haven’t steamed it since trying roasting.  (The kids are another story.  But they don’t like anything these days.)

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Steve is home! I survived my first full week as a single mother.  This was the longest I’ve functioned as a single mom since adding a second child to our family.  I learned a few things this week.

1. Even with good intentions, blogging while being a single mom isn’t a priority.  (That might be related to the great loss of blogging voice of 2010-11.  But that is another post.)

2. Normally when Steve is going away for a few days, I get it in my head that we are going to have The! Best! Time! Ever! I’m going to be fun mom. The girls are going to be so excited by the fun things I plan that they will behave like angels.  Everything will be rainbows and roses.  Then about 6 hours into Steve being gone it all goes horribly wrong and comes crashing down around me – usually because I stop respecting the schedule that keeps things going smoothly around here.  I’m disappointed that my rosy picture didn’t come true and the girls aren’t happy because Daddy is gone and Mommy is irritable.  This time, I had it in my head that this week was going to Suck! So! Hard!  I planned nothing special and had no rosy picture in my head.  Lo and behold, it wasn’t a bad week at all.  Things went smoothly.  We stuck to our normal routine and had a pretty good week.

3. If I was a single parent, my children would almost never get hot, home-cooked meals.  (Not that they would eat it anyway.) I grilled chicken and roasted a bunch of broccoli 1 night (and ate it for 3 days).  Otherwise, we ate sandwiches.  Also? Ordering a pizza without the husband is silly.  We ate 4 total pieces of it over a dinner and a lunch then it sat in the fridge until Steve got home and had some for breakfast this morning.

4. Doing bedtime is sort of fun but I am so happy I don’t have to do bedtime.  Steve is in charge of bedtime. It is his special time with the girls and my time to sit down and enjoy a few minutes of quiet after a day of all girls all the time.  While he was gone, I enjoyed doing bedtime with the girls.  Except bath.  I’m not up for bath time after a long day so I think this summer we’ll change up the schedule and do bath time right after naps instead of right before bed.  The girls love baths and I hate to cute it short because I don’t want to deal with it.

5. Parenthood is much better as a team sport.

6. I missed Steve but liked sleeping in the middle of the bed.  (He would say I do that whether or not he is home. He lies. I hog covers but not the bed.)  He enjoyed the king he had all to himself in his hotel this week.  We had a serious conversation about buying a king sized bed when we move. I laugh that when we were dating we declared we would never want a king because who wants that much space?  We do, that’s who. We like our space.

7. It is really hard to get anything done with 2 kiddos underfoot.  That isn’t a new lesson but wow it was driven home as I was trying to pack up a few boxes, mow the back yard, weed and mulch a small flower bed in the back, and generally get the house ready to go on the market. I only got about 1/3 done of what I wanted to accomplish.  Actually, I shouldn’t blame both kids. Sabrina is pretty agreeable.  Tessa is the X factor.  Sometimes I think that child wants to crawl back where she came from.

8. See # 2 but it is worth repeating.  It amazes me that 4 1/2 years later I still have to slapped upside the head with the fact that the schedule exists for a reason.  Small deviations are fine but throwing it out the window entirely results in grumpy small people.

9. Showering starts to seem much more optional when there isn’t a husband returning home at the end of the day.

10. My girls are amazing.  Again, not a new lesson but I was reminded of it this week.  They are doing great with all of the uncertainty and changes around here lately.

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