Monday, August 30, 2004

Worn Out!

I had a weekend to rival those of the Oglesby family. Friday night was okay. We stayed in, had a family movie night and got through a little over half of The Sound of Music before The Boy zonked out. Saturday was the big day.

It is strange how people who never have any social commitments at all can find themselves suddenly innundated with things to do. Social stuff never spaces itself out nicely over several weeks, but instead it happens all at once, so that it cannot be enjoyed and savored at leisure. Saturday morning found us rushing off to the park for a Young Lawyers with Children "picnic" from 10-12. When Justin scheduled that, we had nothing else to do, but decided in August the earlier one gets out to play the better.

That turned out to also be good, because from 12-2 we had a potluck at George's school for everyone that goes there and their families. Waldorf schools like to get people outside into nature as much as possible and this had been scheduled as a picnic, but we'd had rain in the morning and there were still threatening clouds, so they held it indoors. A few people wanted to move it back out when the clouds started disappating, but I was quite glad for the air-conditioning myself.

After the potluck, we went home and then Justin went out to pick his grandmother up at the airport. When they got back, The Girl was napping and The Boy and I went to a birthday party for one of our neighbors.

When I'd put The Girl down for her nap she had some blotches over her eyes, when I got home from the birthday party she had raised blotches all over her face and it looked like she'd gotten a broken nose. Obviously she's allergic to something, but she wasn't having what the nurse termed a "severe reaction" -- she wasn't wheezing or itching, so we gave her Benedryl and just kept an eye on her.

Justin's grandmother took us out for Indian food that night -- Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Sagwala, Biryani and Mango Lassis all around (overwise known as heavenly food). The Girl continued to look like she'd been knocked around, but felt fine.

Sunday morning, she was better, though she kept the slightly bruised look around the eyes. We made it to church on time for once -- had a light lunch and then Justin's aunt and uncle came to get his grandmother and take her home to Kentucky.

They brought us ten cucumbers and almost as many patty-pan squash. We gave most of the cucumbers away at evening worship -- though we optimistically kept four for ourselves. Justin's aunt and uncle are big Atkins-ers and swore that frying the squash up like hashbrowns would result in something almost exactly like potatoes. Not quite, I am here to report. Not that the squash were bad exactly, but they were not hash-browned potatoes and the kids wouldn't have anything to do with them after an initial taste.

Now the week has begun, The Boy is off at Day Two of school and the carpenter is supposed to be here any minute to begin work on putting in our new backdoor. Tomorrow I'll be officially thirty weeks along -- which for those of you not in the know means I'm only tens from my due date. Yikes.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Recipe Time

In the midst of moving, I forgot to post a Friday recipe last week, but my Friday recipe sharing is back. The following recipe is my favorite chili, although by many people's standards it doesn't qualify, because it is meatless. I've made plenty of chili con carne both with hunks of steak and ground beef and although I will do almost anything for some good red meat, I happen to like this chili better anyway. The recipe came from a cookbook called Quick and Light and has received just a shade of revision over time.

Black Bean Chili
serves 4

1 cup long-grain rice (I especially like basmati)
¾ teaspoon salt -- divided
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 green onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pickled jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into ½-inch pieces
14½-ounce can stewed tomatoes (diced tomatoes work just fine too)
2 19-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
5½-ounce can spicy tomato-vegetable juice
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder

In a medium saucepan, bring 2¼ cups of chicken broth or water to a boil. Add the rice and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the rice is tender, about 17 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the oil until hot but not smoking over a medium heat. Add green onions, garlic and jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, until green onions are softened -- about 4 minutes. Add the bell pepper and zucchini and cook until slightly tender -- about 5 minutes.

Stir in the stewed tomatoes, beans, tomato-vegetable juice, cilantro, lime juice, chili powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili is slightly thickened and the flavors have blended, about 7 minutes. Divide the rice among bowls, top with chili, and serve.


Thursday, August 26, 2004

This or That

Hardback or Paperback -- but I don't really care
Highlight or Underline -- though usually neither
Lewis or Tolkien
E.B. White or A.A. Milne -- Pooh is wonderful and hilarious, but I'll still take Wilbur and Charlotte.
T.S. Eliot or e.e. cummings -- neither
Stephen King or Dean Koontz -- neither
Barnes & Noble or Borders -- Our Borders doesn't have a Thomas table, which matters a lot to the little set.
Waldenbooks or B. Dalton
Fantasy or Science Fiction
Horror or Suspense -- neither
Bookmark or Dogear
Large Print or Fine Print
Hemingway or Faulkner
Fitzgerald or Steinbeck
Homer or Plato
Geoffrey Chaucer or Edmund Spenser
Pen or Pencil -- super-fine point or fountain, thank you.
Looseleaf or Notepad
Alphabetize: By Author or By Title
Shelve: By Genre/Subject or All Books Together
Dustjacket: Leave it On or Take it Off -- I'd leave them on, but my children destroy them.
Novella or Epic
John Grisham or Scott Turrow -- neither
J.K. Rowling or Lemony Snicket
John Irving or John Updike -- neither
Salman Rushdie or Don Delillo -- neither
Fiction or Non-fiction
Historical Biography or Historical Romance -- I'm a sucker for Regencies.
Reading Pace: A Few Pages per Sitting or Finish at Least a Chapter -- If I don't fall asleep first.
Short Story or Creative Non-fiction Essay
Blah Blah Blah or Yada Yada Yada
“It was a dark and stormy night…” or “Once upon a time…”
Books: Buy or Borrow
Book Reviews or Word of Mouth

picked up from Semicolon via Theosebes

Kid Lit

Well, they are my questions, so I suppose I ought to answer the Thursday Three this week, huh?

1. Who are your three favorite children's authors?
Three is, of course, such a limited number -- why couldn't the author of the questions have asked for the top five or something? Oh right. Nevermind. Anyway, some of my favorites for little kids books (since again the author of the questions was very non-specific and didn't say whether she meant picture books or chapter books or either) are Arnold Lobel, Kevin Henkes, Robert McCloskey. I don't think a good children's author has to also illustrate, but I do think the ones who do both are often some of the best.

2. What are your three favorite children's books? I suppose I could take the easy way out and name books by the authors above, since their books are, of course some of my favorites. Some others I like a lot though -- from my own childhood -- are Miss Suzy by Miriam Young, Who's Got the Apple by Jan Loof, and Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban. I know I liked all the Frances books as a kid, although my love for this particular one may be more influenced by my adult self. Either way all the books about Frances are wonderful.

3. What children's books would you rather never ever see again?
I know it is near sacrilege to say, but I'm very tired of Goodnight Moon. It isn't one my kids have ever demanded enough for me to have to hide it, but I've never been a big fan. I will also be glad to never again have to read about the adventures of Prudence or Joshua and their new potty, but my reprieve in that area will be a long time away. I've resorted to hiding Richard Scarry's Cars, Trucks and Things that Go and all of Harry Allard's Miss Nelson books, but not because they or so bad or because I never want to read them ever again, but simply because they were requested just a little too often. I let them be found once in a while.

My Mother Callously Abandoned My Brother

Or what The Girl thinks we did this morning.

Marc asks in the comments below, "Does his sister show any signs of missing her brother, or has the concept not sunk in (maybe until after he has been going to school for awhile)?"

The Girl was happy as a clam and saying hello to everyone going to and from the car, but the minute I tried to put her in her seat she began screaming and crying and all the while asking for her brother. Clearly, she thought we'd forgotten him and she didn't want to leave him behind. She's spent the rest of the morning asking if he's hiding. Her world is changing too. Her brother has been there all the time to copy and pick on. Suddenly he's gone sometimes and she had no idea this was coming.

The Big Day

I made it through yesterday morning alright, though I shed a few tears and The Girl announced at least once during breakfast that Mama was "wying." It started pouring rain as we drove away from our house, which suited my mood pretty well. The walk from the farthest parking lot up a hill past a million John Kerry bumper stickers didn't help much, but I started to feel better once we got inside.

The classroom is lovely, and The Boy had a wonderful time playing and running around with the other kids (except for one mean girl who took the bandana away that he was using). He made a playhouse, went outside in the rain and plowed the sandbox with a rake, pretended to be a prince and just bounced around having fun.

I chatted with some of the other moms and even though politically we will never agree, we do share other common ideas and I think we are making a good choice in this school. I still don't know if he'll stay there for real school, but I like what they are doing with the little ones a lot.

Today is the BIG DAY though. Today I take him to school, sign him in and leave. I think The Girl and I will go to the library or something afterward and maybe when I pick him up at lunchtime I'll take him out to eat. If I'm lucky he'll be in his mango lassi requesting mood and not his burger and fries mood. Either way, this is the day of one of the first big separations. My son is growing up. I'm happy, sad, and ambivalent all at once.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Yard Signs

We did it. We got a Bush/Cheney yard sign. It actually hasn't made it off the front porch yet, due to a long-winded discussion (who us?) about whether it should be stuck in the tree lawn, hung on the fence or hung on the porch rail, but we have one. I've never actually put a yard sign out before. I had a Bush/Quayle sign in my dorm room that I got when I went to hear Bush the Elder speak in 1992, but I've never put out a sign before where the world at large could see it.

My neighbors with their Kerry signs don't seem to agonize over what people will think of them if they put out a sign. I wonder why I worry so much? Why does putting a political sticker on the back of my car or a political sign in my yard cause me such stress. I want to make my opinions known. I'm not wishy-washy. I've never even understood the concept of the "undecided voter."

And yet here I am, nervous about sticking out a yard sign. What will the neighbors think? "There go the property values -- we have Republicans next door, eeeeeeewwwwww!" Some how I doubt it. Though maybe, since that's sort of my reaction to the opposing side's signs.

But we have the sign. It will be stuck out there somewhere soon. Getting the sign was a hard first step and putting it up for all to see isn't easy either, but it is going up -- eventually.

Taste Test

Kroger semi-sweet chocolate chips are not as tasty as Harris Teeter ones. I don't know what the difference is, but the latter is a whole lot better than the former.

You mean everyone doesn't keep a bag of chocolate chips around to eat by the handful? Never mind.

Isn't It Supposed To Be Easier With One?

As I've been thinking about The Boy heading off to school, I've been trying to look on the bright side. It occurred to me, for instance, that I can now run almost all my errands with just one child in tow (that is until around November). Unfortunately, that happy thought was quickly followed by the realization that I'll still be running all the errands with the child who makes running errands difficult.

The Girl is a regular Houdini and has been extracting herself from every strap and buckle (except fortunately her carseat) since she was six months old. We regularly have spent meals with her standing in the high chair, because at least she was eating and not climbing onto the table (which of course she also does on a regular basis during meals). She twists her way out of the five-point stroller harness and shopping carts can't hold her -- she frequently will tire of Mommy's shopping games, distractions and snacks, stand up in the moving cart and make a flying leap at me. At least, I know her tricks and know to watch her. If anyone else took her shopping, I fear she'd be taking a flying leap at the floor.

So as you can see, shopping will probably not get any easier just because I only have one kid in tow. In fact, when the baby is born, I think I may just decide not to leave the house unless all the children can stay behind or I can bring adult back-up along with me.

School Days

The Boy really starts preschool tomorrow, but today we have a couple hours where we can take him to meet his teachers again, meet his classmates (and we can meet their parents) and we can drop off forms and all the spare clothing he needs.

I've mentioned before on other iterations of Curmudgeonry that school has never been on the radar for me. I've planned to homeschool and have been thinking and preparing for that. But a certain little boy had his heart set on a real school (even now he's not sure this qualifies because they don't have a school bus) and I began to realize that with my high maintenance daughter and another baby coming along, this might be the time to consider getting one of them out of the house.

Even I'm excited about his schooling, although I can't quite imagine days without him around me. He'll be playing, doing crafts, and other simple things. He's thrilled that they'll be doing some sewing and woodworking, and I'm pretty sure he's going to love it. He's asked me a million times about all that he'll learn in school.

And so, the clothes are gathered together, we're ready to go to the school and tomorrow my big, little, teeny-tiny, baby boy will be going off to school. Separation is coming hard for one of us, but I'll be ok.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

A Hero and Honor

The Grouchy Old Yorkie Lady has written a superb piece on honor, character and why it matters.
Four months of service doesn’t make him qualified for anything, although the lessons learned in that four months might speak to the man he has become. But Kerry doesn’t speak in terms of lessons learned, or anything at all that reflects a shred of humility. He speaks like that kid we all knew in school who could only talk about himself, who – we suspected – made up stories so he’d sound more important, so that he would be the center of attention.



A Door! A Door! A Door For My Kingdom!

It has only been a month or so, and we hate to rush into anything, but the cardboard over the broken pane on our back door is looking a little ragged. After getting prices from almost every door and window place in town and realizing we really did not want to take out a loan for a door nor spend everything we have in savings for one, we decided against all the ones that had everything we wanted.

The carpenter we've used before came over yesterday, gave us an estimate right within the expected range and told us that should his other project end on time, he could get to us this week. We went out an bought this door today. With certainty, we are not getting a wonderful door, but after all the looking and worrying, getting a fairly inexpensive door was the first option Justin and I both felt at peace with.

We don't want to spend oodles of money on that kind of thing and we don't have oodles to spend even if we wanted to. Going into debt for a door seemed insane to us. I'm really pleased with this route and I can't wait to have a non-rotting, non-cardboard covered backdoor. And in the end, that's really the main thing I care about.

X-Men

I like comic books -- if you count Disney comics, Tintin and Asterix as comic books. If you are one who considers only superhero comics to pass muster, then I'm left out in the cold. I've never gotten into any of them, and my husband isn't really all that big a fan either, although he's read a lot more than I have and likes them more than I do. Still he wanted to watch the X-Men movies, and so I put my name on the library's hold list and waited for them to eventually get to me.

As with many movies we check out that hold no interest for me, I planned to just go to sleep while these were playing. Unfortunately for my intended night of rest, they turned out to be really engaging, fun films that I could enjoy watching even though I'd never read an X-Men comic in my life. It didn't hurt, of course, that Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) is quite easy on the eyes, but goofy as movies of this genre can be, I really liked these.

As I've heard everyone say, the second movie is a little better than the first -- more plot and action, but the first isn't a bad flick. I didn't feel like I'd wasted hours of my life watching either of them. And really any movie with Captain Picard and Gandalf in it can't be that bad.

I'm looking forward to X-Men 3 and maybe I'll even get around to seeing it in a more timely fashion. Who knows -- I might even consider going to see it in the theater!

Monday, August 23, 2004

Actuary-in-training

My son has become a worrier. He is the oldest child and feels a large amount of responsibility just about everything. He's also one to ponder all sorts of situations and I never know what kind of question will come out of him next.

Recently though, he's become obsessed with "safe jobs". No longer does he want to be a fireman, policeman or soldier when he grows up. He found out that they sometimes die and he wants no part of that. So we'll be driving along and I'll hear, "How could you die if you were a lawyer/store clerk/vet/carpenter/etc. ?"

Every time, I want to cuddle him up and remind him that his time to worry about such things is far away. While something could happen at any time, worrying about it at the tender age of four doesn't help and I try to remind him that his current job is to figure out what he loves to do and that some how from that he'll probably be able to figure out what he wants to do -- in about 18 years.

Still he worries, considers and discards new professions daily, and I do wonder if he needs to consider a job as an actuary. That way he'd get the answers to compare the mortality rates of everything else -- plus I somehow doubt the mortality rate of actuaries is all that high.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Bulbs!

It is almost Fall and almost time to think about planting bulbs for next year. I know I actually already have a lot, but we added a big flower bed in the backyard and I know some of my tulips, at least, will be missing, because a few disappear every year.

So, when I got a catalog in the mail the other day from Brecks with a $20 coupon on the front -- as in if you order less than $20 they charge you nothing, I was definitely pleased. My neighbor gets a lot of her bulbs from them, so I figured it was worth a try.

The hard part was choosing and I would have loved to order just about everything in the catalog, but I did narrow down my selections, though not to under $20. I finally got some pink daffodils (something I'd never seen before), some drumstick allium and some fancy looking tulips . I'm excited for them to get here sometime in September and even more excited to see how they do next Spring.

The next step is going to my next door neighbor's and dividing all the daffodils he said I could have. They'll help fill in the new backyard bed nicely.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I'm going to try never to do this again

Curmudgeonry is moving. I hope for the last time, because I can't handle recoding templates this often. Please find me at my new Mu.nu home -- http://curmudgeonry.mu.nu

Thank Goodness for People with a Plan

My neighborhood is "in transition" supposedly, but although some houses are pretty crummy, most are nice and getting nicer. In the two years we've lived here, most houses that are renovated have gotten priced beyond what we could afford if we were out house-hunting now. Our house was remodelled before the current trend started and isn't as fancy or as historically accurate as the houses that are being fixed up now, but we hear quite often from our neighbors that this place used to be a dump. We never knew quite what they meant until one of our neighbors dug up some photos he'd taken before some guys with a lot of guts and a vision for bringing an old house back to life bought this place about 14 years ago for around $13,000. So here's what the place looked like when it was occupied by a 90-something year old whose family obviously didn't feel like caring for her or her house very well.
And here's what we have now.
We'd love to add more gingerbread and put something other than vinyl siding (there is nothing underneath ours though and from the before picture you can tell it wouldn't be worth having if it were there) on, but what a difference! Even though I know it is "the same" house, it sure has changed. I like to think we've done our part to make it even better and since we plan never to move we'll have a long time to make improvements.

Thank Goodness for People with a Plan

My neighborhood is "in transition" supposedly, but although some houses are pretty crummy, most are nice and getting nicer. In the two years we've lived here, most houses that are renovated have gotten priced beyond what we could afford if we were out house-hunting now.

Our house was remodelled before the current trend started and isn't as fancy or as historically accurate as the houses that are being fixed up now, but we hear quite often from our neighbors that this place used to be a dump. We never knew quite what they meant until one of our neighbors dug up some photos he'd taken before some guys with a lot of guts and a vision for bringing an old house back to life bought this place about 14 years ago for around $13,000.

So here's what the place looked like when it was occupied by a 90-something year old whose family obviously didn't feel like caring for her or her house very well.

front of house (small).jpg


And here's what we have now.

house current.jpg


We'd love to add more gingerbread and put something other than vinyl siding (there is nothing underneath ours though and from the before picture you can tell it wouldn't be worth having if it were there) on, but what a difference! Even though I know it is "the same" house, it sure has changed. I like to think we've done our part to make it even better and since we plan never to move we'll have a long time to make improvements.



I Feel So New At This

My archives aren't here yet, but I'll move them eventually. Until then, I feel like I have a virgin blog -- although Curmudgeonry has been around for two-and-a-half years now.

Like many blogs, Curmudgeonry began on Blogspot, although my husband began using the name for a column he wrote in a college journal. Then after a little over a year on Blogspot, I was offered a chance to move to MT, which was wonderful until I came home from a Fourth of July vacation this summer to find I had no blog left. The fellow who had been hosting my blog and several others had summarily pulled the plug, giving no one a chance to save archives, templates or anything else.

I considered just stopping entirely and doing something else with my time, but I found reading other people's blogs wasn't enough. My fingers were still itching to type out my own thoughts, however insignificant. So, I moved back to Blogspot and saved all the Google cache that I could find from my MT archives.

A very kind, although she probably wouldn't like being known as such, blogger suggested Curmudgeonry for inclusion in the Mu.Nu ranks and many template errors and other snafus later, here I am. I just don't want to have to move this thing again -- okay?

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ouch

I woke up last night at 3 a.m. with a pregnancy induced charley horse and I'm still limping. This is the first really bad one I've gotten during this pregnancy and I hope not to get too many more. I got more of these with The Boy than with The Girl. I wonder if this one is another boy.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Say That Again

And since I'm on the subject, it is pretty funny to hear The Girl announce that she wants "pop-see-els" only to be informed by her much older and wiser brother that the words is pronounced "pop-ska-ble." Then they argued back and forth over who was correct. They only managed to agree that my pronunciation "popsicle" was clearly wrong.

Pocket Axes

Since today is all about my children and what they say, let me just mention one of the weirder little intra-familial phrases -- "pocket ax." What is this tool, you might ask? And do I need one? If you are either four or two years of age and like to go camping in England (which is located in my morning room) this tool, which is known to those not in the know as a matchbox car, is essential to carry in a pocket and have on the table at all meals. It can chop firewood from anything and is useful in all sorts of situations. In fact, it can also ward off enemies and is especially handy for sibling-head whacking -- even when one doesn't need firewood.

When my daughter runs up to someone and hands them a pocket ax, I can't imagine what they'll think. At least from her, they'll probably figure they just can't understand what she said. From her brother, the inventor of the phrase, it comes out perfectly clearly.

The Things Children Say

Although, I want to sink into the ground after some of things my kids say, I admit that as a small child I probably managed to put my mother in one of those situations more effectively than my kids have yet done to me. When I was three or so, my favorite flower was Amaryllis belladonna, which grew all over California where we lived. Amaryllis belladonna has a more common name though, that was the one my mother had unthinkingly told me and she certainly did regret it, when in my loud, carrying child's voice I exclaimed excitedly while riding on a public bus, "Mama, look at all those naked ladies!"

Close Encounters with a Curious Four-Year Old

Why? Why not? How come? Every once in a while I just have to put a temporary gag order on questions because my brain is full. Most of the time I attempt to answer whatever the boy poses. Once in a while I'm proud of my ability to answer the question well. Although the questions may fly thick and fast, in general I don't mind him asking me just about anything. I'm not sure how I feel about letting him speak to our friends and neighbors anymore though.

This being Nashville we have a neighbor in the music industry (well we have several, but they aren't all involved) and this particular neighbor wears his hair in one of those "cool" styles that involves spending time achieving the look my husband rolls out of bed with every morning. The Boy asked him one day why he never washed his hair.

There was the other neighbor who walked past with his dog on a Sunday morning as we were loading into the car to go to church. The Boy called out his hellos and greetings and asked him why he wasn't going to church too.

But the kicker question was when we had to take the children to a visitation for the mother of a very dear friend -- The Boy ran up to give her a hug, took one look at the open casket and said, "Why is her skin still on? I thought we'd get to see a skeleton!" And then spent the rest of the time talking about "that dead person over there."

Fortunately, no one has taken his questions in the wrong way or been hurt by them and the question of going to church is certainly one that never hurts someone to be asked and perhaps think about more. Still, I could do with a little less refreshing honesty around here at times.

Friday, August 13, 2004

I'm Just A Girl

I hate admitting total incompetence in an area that shouldn't really require much brain power, but today I discovered once again that knowing the theory of something doesn't mean that I'm not just a girl who is helpless in the face of a car's engine.

A few weeks ago, we realized that the battery on the minivan was weak, but after a jumpstart, it was working okay -- so I ignored it and hadn't quite gotten around to taking the car some place to get a new battery. Today, I went out, got the kids all bucled in, and click, click, click. Dead battery.

My 80-something year old neighbor was on his porch and was perfectly willing to give me a jump. So I pulled out the super-duper heavy jumper cables, only to realize that I had never actually used them before. Whenever I've needed a jumpstart, some youngish, able-bodied man had been around to do all the connecting and everything. My first problem was my neighbor's battery, which is sideways and in a corner, where I could see the positive connector -- but it only had the teeniest bit of metal to clip on to and I could barely see and couldn't reach the negative side. My second problem was that I had a really hard time just getting the clips to clip without popping right back off. My attempt and being all mechanicy was doomed to failure and so I'm spending the day at home.

I could call AAA and get them to come out, but I don't really want to pay our mechanic for a battery and I would definitely not know how to change one myself -- so I'll wait for the man of the family and admit that cars are a complete and total mystery and I'm just glad they get me where I need to go most of the time.

Recipe Friday

I've decided that I am going to start using Fridays as a time to put out some good recipes I've tried out. I don't promise to do this every Friday -- in fact, I may never do it again, but I'm going to try. Anyway, this week's recipe is one I got from Cooking Light and messed with a little bit. It is absolutely yummy and although I'm not a peanut butter fan, my husband informs me that eating this bread toasted with peanut butter is even better.

Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
2 large eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine flours, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

3. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add banana, eggs, and yogurt; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.

4. Place chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Cool for a few seconds. Add 1 cup of batter to chocolate, stirring until well-combined. Spoon chocolate batter alternately with plain batter into a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Swirl batters together with a knife. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool ten minutes in the pan on a wire wrack, remove from pan and cool completely.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

And Speaking of School

This week's Thursday Three is all about school.

1. When were you most excited about starting back to school and why?
I was really excited every time I started a new school with new people. I didn't have really good friends in school until college, but I always hoped I would make a Best Friend at a new school. I changed schools a lot, by the way -- one for Kindergarten and part of first grade, then another for part of first grade, and another for the end of first grade, a new school district and school for second and third grade, a new school in that same district for fourth grade, another different school in the same district for fifth and sixth grades. In seventh grade we moved to another state, where I did seventh and eighth grades at the junior high, and freshman, part of sophomore and all of my senior high school year. Half of my sophomore year was spent at Oak Ridge High School in Tennessee -- my favorite school until college. I skipped my junior year of high school.

2. Did you like school in general and why/why not?
I did generally like school, teachers, and tater tots, but the other kids not so much.

3. If you had it to do over again would you do anything differently in school?
I'd spend less time worrying about the big meanie kids and wishing I could be popular. I'd probably also have gone out on a date with the really nice zit-faced guy who asked me -- it wasn't like anyone else asked and he was really sweet and had a lot of cool calculators. I also would have spent four years in college instead of only three, but I don't regret skipping a year of high school at all.

I Need a Giant W for the Back of My Car

I'm not really very in your face about politics. Sure, I happen to think the other side is usually completely wrong, foolish, misguided and occasionally evil -- but I usually keep those things to myself. Partisan? Most people would never have any idea how much of a partisan I am.

When I went to a parent meeting for all The Boy's preschool/Kindergarten classmates last night, I was struck by the number of political bumper stickers of one type and another. I was also struck by the huge lack of diversity among those stickers. It was almost enough to make me slap on a giant W before I went back this morning to help get things ready. Almost. I'm just not in your face enough. I want The Boy to have friends and I'd like to be friends at least superficially with these people, and I don't know if announcing my preferences is the best way to start out. Especially, considering that most liberals tend to think all conservatives are far more stupid and evil than I ever think them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Just Because...

She may be a terror well beyond her size, but she is pretty cute.

The Kiddie Kitchen

Only eight months after my son's birthday, we finally finished his major birthday present.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A Lot of Truth

Found via Brain Fertilizer, a list of reasons to be a Democrat. Snicker.

Children's Books, Again

Some children's books, like the one I mentioned before are annoying because their pictures show things I don't like, like old pretty buildings being torn down and replaced by ugly modern office complexes. Other children's books have pictures that are downright twisted when you think about them.

The Girl wants to be read to all the time and I try to reshuffle the books, so that I'm not always reading the same ones. I pulled out Richard Scarry's First Words and was a bit disturbed when I got to the page that reads, "At the butcher shop they buy ham for their picnic." The picture shows the butcher standing in front of the shop with ham, sausage and bacon in the window.

Richard Scarry draws all sorts of animals. Why did he make the pork selling butcher a pig? Sure, the cognoscenti say one pronouces his name "SCAR-ee" but I think I'll back to saying "Scary."

Monday, August 09, 2004

What Am I Teaching My Kids?

I read a lot of books to the kids and since The Boy had a great interest in all things vehicular for the first several years, we seem to own practically every car, truck, train, plane or boat book known to man. Which means, whatever The Girl may really be interested in, she has inherited a large selection of board books on the above subjects. One that both of them like/liked is Byron Barton's Machines at Work, which deals with a nicely mixed (along racial and gender lines) work crew building what appears to be an office building. The sad thing is that the book begins with this:

and this is what they are building:

So, I, who like old buildings and historic preservation, keep reading and reading a book in which they tear down the pretty old building and raise up another monstrosity. What a great lesson to teach the kidlets. Fortunately, I doubt they are reading the subtext and drawings quite so closely as I.

I Need A Vacation

This weekend was cooler than normal and somehow that was an inspiration for us to finish projects. You know all those little things that you get almost done, but there is something that you need to do to make them truly completed? This was the weekend to catch up on those.

Last December for his birthday, The Boy got a toy kitchen. It had originally belonged to a preschool and after many years of use by hundreds of pygmies, was not in good shape. Before the birthday, we sanded, primed and painted the main pieces (a sink, a cupboard and a range) and came up with new burners (creatively using rubber coasters). We never quite got around to sanding the doors, installing the knobs for the range, putting on the aforementioned doors or finding something to use as a faucet for the sink.

After a morning watching a bit of a Titans scrimmage with the Falcons, a missed opportunity to eat funnelcake and a trip to the Farmer's Market for melons and berries, we came home and set to work sanding, priming and painting the doors.

After church the next day we headed to Lowes to get hinges and all the other little bits and pieces we needed to finish this thing up. Last night, doors were installed, knobs were placed, and all the little doohickies and what-nots were applied. Except for the sink piece, which we still have to work on. We think we have a "faucet" for it though, so perhaps by this weekend the whole thing will actually be done.

Lest, you think that was the only project though, we also primed and painted a medallion to go over one of our ceiling fixtures, fixed some loose kitchen knobs, installed hook locks on the shutters in the living room, replaced a handle on a teeter-toter that the dog had gnawed, finally got a second coat on some of the trim for the front door we "finished" several months ago and did some basic cleaning and such as well. Of course, all of you are probably fully aware that 95.673% of the credit for all of this work does not belong to me, but I did lend moral support and a bit of painting.

Of course, we both stayed up far too late and I've now picked up the cold my germ-laden children had last week, so I'm filled with sniffles today and probably not going to do anything more for a while. I suspect that what started out a few weeks ago as a backlash against clutter has indeed turned into early nesting. This is the first child I've actually had a chance to "nest" for, so perhaps I'm making up for lost time. With the first we were in an apartment and with the second we had just moved into our house, so any nesting instinct got swallowed up by just plain unpacking and moving in stuff. At least, this is all either nesting or an awareness of just how little I'll be able to do with three kids around. Yikes, what am I getting myself into?

Friday, August 06, 2004

Just When I Found Her

Rachel Ann has moved to a new home, but before you join her over there be sure to head to her old site and read her excellent parenting post from a few days ago.

It May Be Friday, But I'm Answering These Anyway

Life got in the way yesterday and I never got to answer Larry's Thursday Three questions. So, I'll just turn in my homework late and accept the lower grade.

1. Can you name three good things about Southern weather in August? Air Conditioning doesn't count!
(a) You have to slow down and stay inside.
(b) Lots and lots of ripe tomatoes.
(c) Hummingbirds and butterflies come to visit in full force.

2. What do you consider to be the best time of the year weather-wise to be a Southerner?
I'm torn between late Fall and early Spring. Both have cool, crisp air and beautiful colors. I lean towards Spring a bit, because the flowers and the new life all around are very invigorating for me, plus it means I get to go outside and work in the garden. On the other hand, the Spring also means that Summer and its heat is coming soon, which isn't so fun.

3. Who is the most manic weather person tornado wise?
I don't really watch enough TV weather to know any of them. When we have a storm worthy of flipping on the TV, it generally seems like we lose power and are stuck fiddling around with the radio trying to get weather information and straining our ears to hear if the tornado siren is blaring outside.

Nur-Nur

In case you don't read Tulipgirl, she's been blogging this week on breastfeeding because this past week has been World Breastfeeding Week and has posted some beautiful breastfeeding art. In our family, we call it nur-nur and although I think weeks dedicated to any cause are a bit silly, breastfeeding is something I support whole-heartedly.

When I was pregnant with The Boy, I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I'd also read enough horror stories to be a bit worried about it. My mom was a long-term nurser though -- my older brother for 2 years, me for 2 1/2 and my little brother for 3 years, so I knew it could be done. I was determined to do it for a while and besides, I knew I really didn't want to deal with stinky, messy, expensive formula if I didn't have to.

Nursing wasn't all wonderful. We went through a lot of early pain, cracks, and bleeding -- and later on clogged ducts and thrush, but The Boy and I kept it up for 25 months and it was a wonderful time. When he weaned I was ready to give it up, but was sad about it at the same time.

When The Girl was born, I was not about to try anything else -- although I quickly learned that you have to relearn a lot about nursing every time. Nursing a toddler is very different from nursing a newborn and I went through all the problems again, except for thrush, and experienced new cramping pains that weren't there the first time either.

I would have liked to have nursed The Girl longer, but I also do not have any desire to tandem nurse, so after cutting down slowly through the early stages of my pregnancy, she finally weaned about a month ago at 21 months. Again, I am a bit sad that we've passed out of that stage, but I was ready to do it and so was she.

Soon I'll be starting up again with Baby #3. I know now that nursing a newborn is different and that I can't pick up where I left off with the last one. We'll have to form our own bond. I also have every expectation that it will hurt for a few days, but I know that that will pass. I'm looking forward to meeting this new little one in a few months, and one of the things I look forward to most is to watch him or her grow, fed with something only I can provide. Sighing contentedly like a little milk-drunk and soothed by me when the big world seems overwhelming.

My Little Girly Girl

Not only is my little boy big enough to start school, my little girl has become interested in girly stuff overnight. Well, really her girly interests have been there for a while, but they are really coming out in full force now.

She's started to insist on wearing ponytails almost every day and she's actually been leaving them in her hair, which is definitely a change. Before she would ask for "Pretties" but they'd only stay in for about 15 seconds.

The Girl has had a bit of a shoe fetish ever since we started putting anything on her feet, but that too has really hit its stride in the past few days. In order to leave the house now, I either have to carry her to the car screaming about shoes, or let her spend ten minutes trying every pair on two times to see what she thinks looks best with her outfit -- she's started asking for outfits too. You pick out a pair of overalls and she'll say, "No! Purple dress." or something along those lines.

We're learning just how spoiled we've been by having a boy who almost never cares what he wears as long as he can wear rainboots with it.

If The Girl weren't girly enough with her shoes, dresses and ponytails -- she's also started asking for "Lochlate" almost daily -- mmm chocolate -- and crying in overly dramatic sobs when things don't go her way. Sobs I remember far too well, since I used them myself only last week.

It's a good thing she's so cute or we might really have to sell her to the gypsies.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Not Ms. Cranky Pants

I got more sleep last night, so I am trying not to be Ms. Cranky Pants today. I don't handle exhaustion all that well, especially not when hormonal and pregnant and without enough chocolate in my diet. I think I did a good job of not showing my frustration to the kids, but they can still pick up on when you are not having a good day. The Boy did two things that really made me smile yesterday and helped turn the day around. First, he drew me a Valentine.

Later when we were in the car, I popped in my newest CD -- Johnny Cash's last album. A few minutes later my son piped in from the back seat, "Johnny Cash sure has good music." He recognizes Johnny Cash and likes his music. I'm pretty proud of my four year old.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Just Say No

When grandparents come to stay many rules get thrown out the window. In general, we let the kids stay up later and eat a lot more candy, ice cream and other junk than usual. In return, it would be nice if a few things we do in our family were respected and given some consideration, but it often seems that they are not. I present the following note to grandparents.

If one is fully aware that noisy electronic toys with no creative value are not appreciated by parents -- even if the kids get a kick out of them for a day or two -- please don't waste your money, our sanity and our time buying them. The toys will be heading for Goodwill shortly after you leave, but I really don't like being the bad guy who has to figure out a reason why XYZ annoying toy has disappeared.

On that being the bad guy note, when you let the kid do something stupid like wrap something around its neck, don't throw the child back at the parent to do the dirty work of choking hazard removal just because that makes the kid scream and fuss. You let them almost choke themselves, you take care of it. Also and probably in the first place, when they ask for something that is clearly not good for them -- say no. Don't look helplessly at mom or dad to say no. You can do it. It won't hurt them.

Saying no is hard for a grandparent, I'm sure. If you are given a present though, that a child whines that he really wanted to keep as you are carrying it out the door -- again, say no. He hasn't actually seen it ever until the day before when it was given to you, he can't everything he wants and it was a *^#&#(*@@#&*! present for you.

And finally, my last and most pressing point. You've been here a lot of times. You know we do not check on the kids every time they roll over and whimper in their sleep. We don't open the door and make sure they aren't scared every time they mumble in the middle of the night. We've asked you not to do so either. Why is it that when we're here en familie the kids sleep all night long and wake up happy and smiling around 7:00, but surprisingly are up at 4:15 playing when you are here? Could it be that they aren't used to having the door open and shut a million times per night, nor being patted and cuddled when they aren't upset and are trying to sleep. Trust us. We tend to their needs. If they are scared, hurt, upset, sick or need us -- we get them, cuddle them, kiss them and take care of it. And when they are up at 4:15, it isn't our fault, so when the kids are cranky at 5:30 -- we really don't want to take care of it. We're used to sleeping until 7:00 and we're tired and cranky too. Is it really beneficial for a normally happy morning child to be into a full meltdown by 9:30 just because you "couldn't bear to hear them fuss at night"? Did that do them or anyone else any good? But you got to pack up and hit the road this morning, so you barely even know that they are miserable, unhappy and exhausted -- just what you can't stand while you are here.

I guess leaving a puddle of tears and thoughts that mom and dad are complete tyrants in your wake is okay, as long as you don't have to witness it.

Monday, August 02, 2004

And A Cold

The Girl has got a runny nose. Every time it starts really dripping, she yells, " 'Not nose, Mommy!"

And If I Wasn't Maudlin Enough

It looks like I probably have less than 100 days to go with this pregnancy.

Lilypie Baby Days

Preschool

I never thought I'd be sending my kid off to preschool. I never thought I'd be sending him off to school at all, but he started begging to go to preschool like his friends from church, categorically refused to consider the idea of homeschooling, I got pregnant with baby #3 and we figured out that we might not be ready, at this time, to try homeschooling. So we looked around at preschools and decided to go with the local Waldorf school, even if they are probably all left-wingers and we're part of the VRWC, we still liked the basic educational style and philosophy -- and signing up for the mixed-age preschool/Kindergarten isn't a long-term commitment to keeping our children there anyway.

All this was fairly theoretical back in the Spring when we filled out the paperwork and went to visit and all. Now it isn't so theoretical. Preschool starts in a couple of weeks and The Boy is thrilled. Justin is fine, but every time I think about it, I'm torn up. I know it is only three days per week and only in the mornings, but I've never spent that much time apart from him. Sure, I'll love having only one kid to chase around some of the time for the last few months of this pregnancy and I'm glad he'll be there to play with other kids and do all the fun things they'll be doing, but I'm going to miss him. And it means he's really moving on and not going to be a little kid anymore. I know he's already not a little kid, but now he'll really not be a little kid and he'll be doing tons of stuff that I'm not around for. He'll be making friends that I don't really know. Wahhhh! No, I'm not an overly emotional pregnant basketcase -- sniff -- why do you ask?

The Kindergarten teachers from the school actually go around and visit every kid at their home before school starts so that they can get to know the child and see what sort of situation he is coming from. I think it is a neat idea, although the paranoid part of me is paranoid about it. They scheduled their home visit for this Thursday, so that means school is really almost ready to start -- and my baby will be leaving. Waaaaaaahhhh!

It's Not A Good Thing

It is never a good thing to glance across the room and notice that your toddler has no diaper on and a brown smear across her hiney.
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