Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sanity in a Bottle

So...

I've been dealing with this depression thing. It isn't totally gone and it's a pain in the neck, but I've found a powerful aid in the fight. No, I'm not downing any Tennessee whiskey nor am I popping any prescription anti-depressants. I stumbled upon a much healthier and cheaper alternative -- my multi-vitamin.

I'm not exactly sure what vitamin or mineral I've been needing a boost in, although my OB informs me that one study showed about 40% of women got as much PMS help from extra calcium as from Zoloft, but whether it was calcium, a B-vitamin or something else, taking my daily vitamin has become something of a sanity booster around here.

Vitamins haven't solved all of life's problems. The baby is still a fusspot, the almost two year old writes on the furniture, the three year old mouths off, the five year old never completes any assigned task and the eight year old won't stop talking about Legos all day long, but some how just taking a regular old vitamin has kept me from screaming my head off, locking myself in the bathroom with a book and telling them all to fend for themselves.

I'm not a doctor and can't tell whether anyone else out there needs something stronger, but for me a vitamin has been a major booster of mental health. And it's cheap too!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meals My Kids Won't Eat

"What do your children like to eat?"

I was frequently asked that question as kind and generous people brought me meals after the baby's birth. Unfortunately, I usually answered unhelpfully that I really didn't know. They liked everything, nothing, and something in between. I also callously added that if they didn't like the meal, I didn't mind letting them starve. (Okay, I might have said that, but in reality there is always a peanut butter and jelly sandwich just waiting for them to make it and even the three year old can make her own.)

Knowing the likes and dislikes of any group of people is difficult and I find my children to be almost completely unpredictable. One week they love string cheese. The next they won't touch it. Do they love cashews or do they think they are repulsive? The answer varies from child to child and from minute to minute. I may spend all day every day with these guys, but they are still individuals for whom I cannot predict everything.

Let us examine two recipes I recently made here at home. The first was Mujedrah (recipe below the fold). I was skeptical about the reception by the brood of a meal of lentils and rice. They like both, but would they really want that to be their dinner? The yogurt sauce was gobbled down by two kids from the beginning, eyed with suspicion by one because "yogurt with vegetables" was not on the approved list (but then the child ate about five helpings once it was taste-tested) and the fourth ate no yogurt sauce. All of them, however, loved the basic dish and I've been asked to make it again.

The second recipe was for coconut macaroon pancakes. What's not to love? A lot. One child decided that coconut was not her thing. Another child declared "hairy pancakes" weird. One crumbled them and fed them to the dog and the fourth ate a ton. The one who ate them is my pickiest eater usually.

Who can know the eating habits of my children? Their ways are not my ways and their tastes are mysterious.



Crockpot Mujedrah and Yogurt Sauce
3/4 cup dried lentils (brown or green)
3/4 cup parboiled (converted) rice
3 cups water
3 chicken boullion cubes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Onion Topping:
2 medium onions, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup finely diced or grated cucumber
1 tablespoon fresh mint, torn
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Rinse lentils under cold water and drain. Combine the lentils, rice, water and boullion in the crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the liquid is almost completely absorbed. Add salt and pepper and stir gently.
  • For the onion topping, heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions, salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes. The onions will brown, but do not allow them to burn.
  • Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce. Mix together yogurt, cucumber, mint and salt; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • When serving, top the lentils and rice with the onions and offer the yogurt for people to use as they see fit.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Slithery Questions

Five year old to three year old: Why do you think a viper is called a viper?

Three year old to five year old: I don't know. Is it because they viperate?

Five year old, with air of superiority: They call that slithering.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Music Nerds

First my husband starting talking about scholas. I didn't know what one was, but I soon learned. Then he started talking about the Missa Simplex and the Missa de Angelis. Then he was organizing a schola for our parish, recruiting people, and practicing. He was also singing the Kyrie, Sanctus and Gloria as he walked around the house and teaching them to the kidlets. This was all good, although it's a little odd to hear mass parts echoing throughout the house day and night and I don't particularly like watching all the kids while my husband is practicing with the schola.

It's moved into the nerdy and weird now, though. My children know the music for the Missa de Angelis so well now, that they are chanting everything. Conversations at the dinner table are sometimes chanted. My 22 month old will chime in with "a, a, a, a, a -donk' which is his interpretation of part of the Kyrie. And the other day in the car, my children started trying to figure out the best way to chant "Pattycake, pattycake baker's man."

In this family one has to chant to get along, it seems.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Little Helper

My children, although often the cause of the distractions and messes around here, are usually good helpers. I expect a lot of help from the older ones, but generally I assume the almost two year old won't be doing much. He's been surprising me lately though.

He feeds the dog (you do have to stop him before the dog gets overfed and overweight), he likes to help with laundry and turn on the dryer, and he likes to help out with his little sister. (Note, I would never, ever leave an accident prone toddler alone with a baby.) Yesterday though, I was in the kitchen and I had to put the baby down to do something.

My daughter is a big believer in attachment parenting. In fact, she believes she should always be attached to me. When I put her down on the ground, she immediately started squalling. A minute or two later, her littlest big brother came dashing in, holding a pacifier he'd found some place, and stuffed it in her mouth, saying, "Oh no. Baby cry."

And my heart might have just melted into a puddle on the floor.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's Been a While

The last week has been rather overwhelming.

We've been getting back into school and although we're only in the second week, I haven't once been able to completely follow the schedule I set up. I think that may mean the schedule needs some revisions. Over all school seems to be going well though. We've hit all the main subjects and some of the extras. I did find out that this year our umbrella school, under which we register the kids for their homeschooling, is requiring standardized tests for grades 3 and up. This means my oldest is going to need to learn how to take a standardized test and it means one more thing for me to worry about.

And as for worrying, I've been doing more than my fair share of that, along with crying, and other jags of misery associated with postpartum depression. I'm not particularly inclined to discuss it more than that, but I will say that when a wave of depression hits, it knocks me pretty hard and I don't like it.

Moving on to a happier note, our house is slowly coming together and turning into a house. We spent the last week, when not schooling the kids or crying, unpacking and sorting books and cleaning out the family room which had been mostly a storage warehouse up until now. Not any more -- it is now a room devoted to school, play and other pursuits of that nature.



Eventually, we'll paint it, because I not only don't like its orange walls, but I like them even less with the various white patches where the plaster needed to be repaired. Of course, it also needs some art on the walls, but all those things can come in the distant time known as "some day" because I don't like hanging things on plaster walls much. It always pains me when I hear the plaster keys falling down behind the wall no matter how carefully I drilled pilot holes. So I leave those things for my husband -- if the wall collapses I have someone else to blame.

Until then, what I've learned in the last week is that we have a lot of books; too many books. A surprising number of duplicate books that we've been hauling around for who knows how long have finally been weeded out though and set aside to be removed from the premises.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The First Day of School

I'm starting the school year with the kidlets today. Naturally, this means (1) I broke (or think I probably broke my toe) yesterday when my three year old dropped a plate on it (2) the 21 month old is running a 103 degree fever (3) I still haven't unpacked all the books I plan on using (4) my mother-in-law is going to be stopping by this afternoon (5) the house is a wreck. In spite of all this, we have indeed made it through math, history, story time and the oldest is working on a geography project sneakily disguised as fun by yours truly.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Potpourri

A little bit of this and a little bit of that:


  • Congratulations to Michelle on her cute new arrival.
  • It rocks my world to think of Robbo being anywhere other than the Llamabutchers, but go visit his new blog The Port Stands at Your Elbow.
  • I'm really enjoying the Faith and Family blog these days. All sorts of encouragement over there.
  • Speaking of encouragement, I think Elizabeth Foss is always encouraging, but I particularly needed to read this post today.
  • One benefit in using old books in the public domain for homeschooling -- when you haven't unpacked the books yet, you can find a copy online.
  • Isn't this bag the coolest? It makes me want to go shopping just to acquire some interesting plastic bags.
  • Unpacking and moving the kids upstairs goes slowly. Well, the kids are sleeping upstairs, but everything upstairs and down in in chaos at present.


And finally, isn't she cute?



And isn't he frightening?



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