Meet The Nat Pack!

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The Nat Pack: The super fashionable, super mod, super hip family consisting of Nat, Pete, Jakob, Brock, Troy, and Ivy. Like The Rat Pack, only younger, cuter, and not as rich or famous.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Memory Monday: Cookie Monster

First off, here is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I've come across.  The cookies stay plump and soft.  Though, after this post, you might not want to use it.  D'oh.


Combine in bowl: ½ cup butter, ½ cup shortening, ¾ cup sugar.
Add: ¾ cup brown sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 eggs.
Then add: 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 2 ½ cups flour.
Stir in: 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Spoon onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes.

Maybe my cute sister Brianna can help me with the timeline on this story.  I'm going to say early teenage years for me, and she's 3 1/2 years younger than me.  So if I was 13, she'd be 9 ish.  Beej, if you read this, maybe leave a comment if you remember.
My family often made little goodies to munch on. Lemon bars, Mississippi Mud bars, No-bake cookies, etc.  And cookies.  I love me some cookies.  And now I'm getting all hungry thinking about cookies.  They are a definite weakness of mine.

After devouring one (or most likely more than one) cookie, I had a bit of phlegm built up in my throat.  Anyway, Beej and I were being dorks, and I was telling her how to make a loogie.  It's like that scene from Titanic.

So, I was joking around, and was like, "Dude, what if I spit a loogie at you?"  And she was like, "No way!" and started running off.  So I grabbed her, did the whole Leonardo DiCaprio loogie-making moves, and had a humongous loogie in my mouth.  Brianna goes, "Nooooo!" with her mouth all wide. 

And I spit.  And it landed right in her mouth.

I promise I wasn't aiming.

Of course she ran over to the sink and tried to clean her mouth out.  I felt bad, but it was also really funny (well, to me, anyway).  I've never been able to get that good of a loogie before or since.  And I've never been able to spit very far at all, except for that one time.  I attribute that to the cookie phlegm in my throat.

So there you have it.  Fun with phlegm.

(Go to about 1:15 on this video to see how I normally spit.  Not that I'm all out there practicing or something.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Memory Monday: Christmas Misunderstanding

I'm trying to remember how old I was for this one.  I'm going to guess about 4th or 5th grade, so 9 or 10.

Christmas traditions in my house growing up were plentiful.  Which was awesome.  My poor kids-I feel like we have no traditions whatsoever.  But Pete and I can never agree on what we want to do with our little family.  Growing up, though...Christmas Eve we would go skiing, unless the weather was extremely awful.  It was great, because there was hardly anyone there, so we didn't have to wait in line for the chairlift.  After skiing, we would come home and light luminaries (which my kids and I have done, but this year I'm feeling very Scrooge-like, so it may not happen-we'll see), which are paper sacks with candles in the middle of them.  Supposedly it is to light the way for the Christ child to come.  Then we'd open a family Christmas Eve gift, which was always some sort of game, like Sorry or Apples to Apples, that kind of thing.  We'd play the game, then the girls would all sleep in the same room together downstairs.

Christmas morning, bright and early -too early, usually- we'd get up, and then cover our eyes as we made our way upstairs and into our parents' room to wake them up.  We would all go in together to see what Santa had brought for us, which was usually a big gift sitting by our stockings, and then stocking stuffers like CDs and Lip Smackers and chocolate oranges.  (As we got older, college age, our stocking stuffers morphed into things like toothpaste and socks.  Now my kids get a mixture-still the big Santa gift by the stocking, and in the stocking things like a movie or books, and socks or undies.  My kids love the new clothing-or not.)  After spending time doing the Santa stocking thing, which was in the family room where the fireplace was, we'd move to the front room, where the tree was, and do the family gifts.  We'd also take turns opening gifts, which Pete thinks is so weird.  His family does the mass opening/chaos, which I think is weird.  We still haven't decided on that, but so far Pete is winning, though I end up not opening up anything and just stand there cleaning up wrapping debris.  Which kind of sucks.  I might put Pete on garbage duty this year, since he wants to have the chaos.  That's fair, right?

Okay, so that's kind of how it went for us.  So one year, we got up, and went in to see what Santa had brought us.  I located my stocking on the couch, big present.  Hm.  I sat down, and started looking at my stocking stuff, and watching my sisters enjoy their "big" presents.  By this time I knew the whole Santa secret.  And I didn't know what to think.  A couple of thoughts crossed my mind: one, that my parents didn't have money to buy me a big gift, and two, that I got overlooked.

I didn't really feel sad.  More like disappointed.  And then content.  I thought, "I'm okay without a big gift.  Maybe next year.  And I can watch everyone else enjoy their gifts."  Which is what I like about taking turns opening up family gifts-you get to see what everyone else gets, and you get to see people's reactions when they open the gift that you got for them.

So, like I said, I was sitting on the couch, looking at my new socks or whatever it was, when my dad said, "Nat, aren't you going to look at your Santa gift?"  And I looked at him like, um, what do you think I'm doing, Dad?  Suddenly I realized that he was pointing to the new glittery purple ten-speed bike that had been standing near my stocking.  I had totally thought it was for my mom.

Then I got all excited, because I had asked for a ten-speed bike for Christmas, but didn't think I would get it.  And I knew that my parents hadn't forgotten me.  I took it out to ride that day, on the icy roads, which was so super smart on a ten-speed.  If anyone remembers, ten-speeds had super skinny tall wheels.  Yikes.  Bikes.  Literally.

That day I realized a couple of things about myself.  I realized that I liked getting Christmas gifts, but if there came a day when I couldn't have anything for Christmas, then that would be okay, too.  I realized that Christmas is a small fraction of what you get, and a bigger fraction of the joy that comes to those around you, and basking in that feels just as good.

Now hopefully I can try to find some of that Christmas spirit in me this year.  Brock asked, "Mom, when are we going to make our house a Christmas house?"  Because I haven't pulled out my nativities, or Christmas lights, or stockings...We have the tree up, and that is all.  I definitely have "Bah! Humbug!" at the tip of my tongue this year for some reason.  I just need to shake it off and get with the program.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Turn Back Time Tuesday (Because I Missed Memory Monday)

This one is for Jakob, because I recently found out that he's being picked on at school again this year.  Sheesh.

I was a nerd growing up.  Okay, I'm still a nerd.  The only difference now is I've come to terms with it.  I was also very smart growing up.  It's not like I was the smartest kid in class.  There were other kids that were just as smart, if not more so.  But I think I became known as "Brain", because of the whole nerdiness.  Maybe it was my appearance.  In 6th grade, the year this story takes place, I had awesome feathered bangs (which were in style), a fabulous perm (also very "in"), an A-line hair cut (NOT cool-and yes, a permed A-line is a not-so-great combination), glasses the size of half my face (seriously, whoever came up with that concept needs to be shot), and a super cool headgear.  I also had braces on my front four teeth, but you couldn't see them under the headgear.  I had to wear the headgear thing pretty much nonstop, too, which meant during school.  Yee-haw.

So, basically, with the combination of the glasses and braces and headgear and big perm and feathered bangs, I don't think you could touch any skin on my face without some serious maneuvering.

Good times, my friends.

Anyway, we did a rotation in 6th grade, and Mrs. Nickerson was our science teacher.  Oh man.  Back in the day, I always thought "how old is this woman?"  She had neat 70s polyester pants.  She had a big chin wart complete with sprouting hairs.  And her hair was always a shade of blue, purple, or pink.  I think there's a theory that when you get gray hair, if you dye your hair with an undertone of one of those colors, then you don't look as gray or something.  Which is true.  You just look like you have blue, purple, or pink hair instead of gray.  (Now when I think about Mrs. Nickerson, I realize that's probably what I'll look like in the future.  Though, having never dyed my hair, I don't think I'll ever be convinced to do "gray with a pink undertone".  I'm hoping to get gorgeous silver hair like my grandpa, or platinum white hair like my grandma.)

Now, science has never been my strong suit.  I've had one class where it kind of sort of made sense to me.  Two of my sisters got all the science proficiency in our family.  So, even though I was known as "Brain" to my classmates, I really did not deserve the title when it came to science.

For some reason, Mrs. Nickerson thought it was a really good idea to read our test scores out loud after they were all graded.  If you got below a 70%, though, she wouldn't read it out loud.  How merciful.  I usually did well, but there was one test that the info just was not clicking in my mind. 

So, she went down the list, and...I got a 70% spot on.

Now I'm sure my little 11-year-old self blew the reaction of my classmates way out of proportion, but I saw everyone turn and stare at me, and whispers of "Brain got a 70???"  "Natalie did so bad!"  "Wow, I can't believe it!"  I sunk down in my chair, but the taunts kept coming.  And, because I'm a girl, I started crying.

And then I ran out of the room.

I know-take something not so bad and make it into a huge deal, right?  Right.

I ran into the bathroom, and just cried and cried.  I was so embarrassed, not only for the bad test score, but now for running out instead of blowing it off like no big deal.

Anyway, I waited out the rest of the class period, which wasn't super long.  When the lunch bell rang, I decided to go back.  Luckily, there were a couple of girls that were nice enough to come looking for me, and assured me it wasn't a big deal.  And there was one boy that was super nice to me, too.  So that made me feel better, that people would make sure that I knew that no one really cared what my test score was, that being upset was okay.

So Jakob, if you ever read this, know that it's okay to want to get good grades.  And know that you get your perfectionism from me.  And hopefully, you have some little friends at school that will take your side and put their arms around you and make you feel okay.  Also, you will live through the bullying, and hopefully be a stronger, more compassionate person because of it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Amazing, Awesome, and Addicting

1. Last week it snowed.  A bunch.  Then the snow decided to drift all over the place, meaning, my driveway.  And I was out shoveling Wednesday morning while pies were cooking in my oven.  I'd have to shovel one little area about three times, because I couldn't lift a 2 1/2-foot layer of snow with the shovel in one fell swoop.  Then, to my utter surprise and delight, a big huge blue tractor drives up.  At first, it looked like my neighbor, but then it kind of didn't.  He asked if he could clear the snow for me.  In less than two minutes, he had cleared my entire driveway.  Like I said, I couldn't tell who it was for sure, because he was all bundled up, and I had my glasses on that were getting all foggy with tears of frustration, then tears of relief because he came to help me.  So, if anyone knows who this kind fellow is, please let me know so I can thank him (I gave him a thank-you wave, but that doesn't seem sufficient enough), or let him know that I'm so grateful.

2. I've seen two terrific movies and a play this last week.  Movie one: Harry Potter.  A-MAZ-ING.  I heart Harry Potter.  End of story.  Movie two: Tangled.  I just about bawled during one of the scenes, when the two main characters are on a lake.  It was just... so beautiful!  I had to keep swallowing really hard to stop myself from crying.  WONDERFUL movie.  The play: the people from Playmill put on "White Christmas" at a local theater here.  They did a great job.

3. We had Thanksgiving Wednesday night because my sister and her fiance had to jet out of town unexpectedly Thursday.  It was actually really nice to have Thanksgiving dinner the night before.  And then we went to the movie Thursday and had leftovers afterwards, so it's like we still had Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving.

4.  These little Heath bars are like crack!  I should just buy the big bar of Heath, because I think I would consume fewer calories that way.  These bad boys are so addicting, and I could probably eat 20 or so of them without batting an eyelash.

5. Another thing I'm addicted to: these amazing pants!  I wish I could give a pair to everyone I know.  And then we could start a fashion trend of soft cozy fleece pants, and then I wouldn't have to change out of them to go places to look acceptable-ish.  They are $9, at Walmart.  You will not be sorry if you run out and grab some!  I have pink, and purple, and polka-dot now.  They can get a little static cling in them, which usually I hate, but with these I feel like it's an extra warm hug for my legs.

6. And if that wasn't enough, I'm addicted to another thing: the Hunger Games books.  I CANNOT put them down.  I read nonstop Saturday and Sunday, and finished today.  And now I'm having withdrawals.  LOVE them.  Read them!

7. Monday I finally got my snowblower to run!  I hate that things like lawn mowers and other outside machinery have a pull-string starter thingy.  I have to pull the string with all my might to get these items started.  I had tried two or three times (at like, a hundred pulls each) before yesterday, without success.  Then Pete suggested I bring it in the house, thinking that getting the machine warm would help it.  So I hauled it into my kitchen, cleaned it off with baby wipes (seriously, who knew those things could be so handy in wiping things other than baby bottoms?), and then a couple of hours later took it out.  It started after about 5 pulls, which is amazing for me.  Once it was going, I wasn't about to stop until my whole driveway was cleared again.  I even got all fancy and cleared my sidewalk.

What has been amazing, awesome, or addicting in your life lately?