Monday, March 31, 2008
Two was a bit annoyed at first, but a quick stop at the Wal-Mart restored his good humor. He likes to shop, mostly because he enjoys seeing people and scoping out merchandise. Quite the little consumer, Two is. We got paper for my printer and a new hairbrush, and we went through the craft section so he could admire the John Deere fabric selections. I need to get some of that and use it to make him something. He gets giddy talking about the tractors every time he sees it.
Now he's strutting around the den, waving a black plastic thing (I think it's part of a report cover that he filched from a stack of student papers I was grading, which is fine because I hate report covers) like a little conductor. He's wearing his really cool green shirt with a dragon on it and looking like quite the hip young fellow today. Yes, I picked out that shirt for him, and i love it. So many of his outfits are picked out by my mom, who has good taste, but leans toward preppy, and I like to add a touch of rock and roll to his wardrobe when I can.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Hubs, entering kitchen, looking at me with one eyebrow arched: Are you trying to make sauce?
Me: Not just trying. I AM making sauce.
Hubs: Why didn't you tell me you wanted sauce?
Me: I knew you were busy, and I like to make it sometimes.
Hubs, looking a little hurt: Don't you like my sauce?
Me: Of course, your sauce is great, but I thought I would make it this time.
He gets similarly condescending, then hurt, if I make chili. Because he's the winner of numerous chili cookoffs at the office, in case you hadn't heard. He does make good chili, but it's very different from mine, and his sauce is also quite different from mine. And I'm perfectly capable of making delicious versions of both. But I digress.
So, I made a huge pot of sauce, with lots of good flavors from garlic, onion, basil, and oregano, and I portioned it out so we can use it to make some different dishes during the week. Some of it I'll likely freeze for later use, and I'll probably do something baked with pasta one night, and we can eat it on pasta, maybe some tortellini since the kids love it so.
I've also done laundry and dishes, read lots of news articles, and tended to a couple of wild children this afternoon. Big Girl's upper lip is raw because she's a little rough with the kleenex as she wipes her nose. Two (formerly known as Baby Boy) is just a little crusty, because his evasive maneuvers are improving. When he ducks and dodges, he also says cute things like, "No, Mommy. No clean." The little guy does not like to be wiped or washed if he can help it, but if you subject him to a bath, he splashes everywhere and has a grand time. I secretly think both of my kids have picked up some bad waterplay habits from our golden retriever, who's a real messer with water.
Two is still very jealous of his sister's new shoes. He tried to put on her new pink sandals but they wouldn't stay on, since they're four sizes too big for him. He did enjoy opening and closing the velcro straps. I'll have to get him some sandals for warmer weather too.
He's got a cold, which always puts him in a bit of a funk, but there's more going on here. Two is asserting his independence in a big way, which leads me to dread the struggles to come over the next year. He's very strong-willed - gets that from his mama - and he has a powerful lower pouting lip. But Two may find that, with increased mobility and verbal abilities, he will also encounter his equally-strong-willed mama who will be a killjoy when it comes to rolling the bathroom with toilet paper and other exploits.
Big Girl, by the way, is totally stoked about her new shoes. She has leaped up almost two sizes, so this was definitely needed. I let her have some choices when selecting her sandals and her new sneakers, and she loves both pairs and has been modeling them around the house for everyone to admire. The sneakers are Nikes, white with pink and silver accents. I vetoed the Dora the Explorer pair that she selected first - they were just too bright and overwhelming, and didn't look that well-made. She really enjoyed our girls-only shopping trip, despite the heavy rain we encountered, and we also picked up a few cute skorts for her to wear this summer. They really look like skirts but have shorts underneath, ideal since she's too busy playing to worry about silly stuff like modesty. We looked for shoes for me but had no luck. I'm awfully picky and I wear a very small size which is hard to find, so really, no surprise.
If he's in a good humor, I may take Two to find a pair of shoes for him tomorrow, since he really does need some. He doesn't have any big boy shoes yet, just soft-soled Robeez, although a little bird told me he might get some big boy shoes for his birthday, too.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
4 cups black beans
5 quarts cold water
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 large onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
Rind and bone of cooked, smoked ham
3 leeks, thinly sliced
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1 cup dry Maeira
2 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped
Lemon slices to garnish
Pick over and wash beans. Soak overnight in cold water to cover, then drain. Add 5 quarts cold water and cook the beans over low heat for 1 1/2 hours. In a soup kettle over low heat, saute the celery and onions in butter for about 8 minutes, or until tender. Blend in flour and parsley and cook this mixture, stirring for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the beans and their liquid. Add the smoked ham rind and bone, leeks, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Simmer the soup for 4 hours.
Remove and discard the ham bone, rind, and bay leaves. Force the beans through a sieve. Combine pureed beans and their broth and add Madeira. Heat the soup, remove from stove, and stir in the finely chopped eggs. Float a slice of lemon on each serving.
From The Coach and Six Restaurant, Atlanta, Georgia
This is a really old cookbook that belongs to my mother. I want to see if I can find a used copy (of the original or A Taste of Georgia 20th Anniversary Edition) for myself. Mom's copy is falling apart and she keeps a large ribbon around it to keep the pages together. I think I'll probably modify this recipe a bit to suit what's available at my house. I don't think I have any Madeira on hand...
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I also want to read them the Little House books. I think my childhood copies are still somewhere in my parents' basement, along with copies of lots of other great books that I will share with my kids.
I want to spend more time outside with the kids, and get Big Girl much more involved in planting and maintaining her herb garden this summer. It didn't do so well last summer, between the drought and the outdoor watering ban, but I think we can make smarter choices about plants and be better about bringing out the duck watering can to water the plants this summer. Then we can cook with some of the herbs and enjoy that.
I want to get my office organized more effectively so there's space for the kids to do coloring and crafty things while I'm in there doing research and whatnot. I know I can't do it by myself, so I need to be more assertive about getting assistance from Hubs (and, more likely, my dad) to get that room in kid-friendly order.
Monday, March 24, 2008
It has been a mildly productive day. The kids and I mooched lunch at my parents' house, and I spent too much time on the computer, but I did get some laundry done. And a load of dishes. This housework is never done. :(
I have this great bottle of white wine that I picked up a while back, thinking that Hubs and I would enjoy it over the weekend. It's still in the fridge. I am tempted to open it and enjoy it without him, but I don't want to do that when I'm the sole responsible parent type. I suggested it several times last weekend but he was in the mood for Irish coffees instead, and I must say they were quite tasty. We even made decaf ones (I know! Heresy!) for late-day consumption, since we both have trouble sleeping if we have too much caffeine in our systems.
Ah, wine. I enjoy wine so much, although it goes to my head much faster than it used to affect me. I'm picky. I don't like chardonnay at all. Can't stand it. Messes with my reflux, gives me heartburn. Strange, I know. But I love a nice riesling or pinot grigio. I like certain reds with meals, to accompany beef, but not so much on their own. I have to watch them too because some reds also get to my acid reflux. I take meds for it but it sometimes breaks through.
Hubs and I don't drink wine often anymore. We had it more frequently before we moved, as there were more places to get nice, inexpensive bottles of wine, and there were more occasions where we dined with friends and had wine. I think the fabulous places to shop for good food and wine are one of the aspects I miss most about our old home. We've moved hundreds of miles away, and while ye olde hometowne has its advantages, shopping for wine and cheese at a podunk Kroger just isn't the same.
And, well, I don't know that the Food Lion is even a contender. I have a bit of a longstanding bias against Food Lion since the cashier at a Food Lion near my undergrad alma mater was rude to me - and that has been a dozen years, but I still remember. I wish we had better places for shopping here. I think there are enough people who would go there to support a Target or a nicer grocery store, but change comes slowly. After all, we just got the first Starbucks less than a year ago (and now there are three).
Some of my favorite teevee shows are finally coming back after the writers' strike-induced hiatus. Bones will be back soon. Hubs mocks me for watching Bones, but I like it (I could mock a lot of the crap he watches but I refrain). I'm also enjoying New Amsterdam - in particular the lead actor, my new tv boyfriend, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Don't worry, Anderson Cooper. You're still on my list. You too, Alex O'Loughlin.
In case you're wondering, big girl is taller but otherwise still the same size as last fall, so she can still wear most of her old clothes, including several cute outfits that were never even worn last year. But baby boy is definitely a bigger boy now. He has a few things that I bought for him at the end of last summer on sale, but he'll need more once it's warm. And my mom loves to shop for them, so I'm going to hold off until after his birthday so I have a better idea of what he needs. Other than shoes, that is. I will buy him some adorable little boy shoes, and soon.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Other family members brought assorted items, including a honey ham, turkey, dressing, gravy, macaroni and cheese (this awesome Martha Stewart recipe that the kids LOVE), broccoli salad (with a creamy sauce and big pieces of onion and bacon), deviled eggs, fruit salad, cranberry sauce, and Southern-style biscuits. Plus brownies and assorted Easter candy for dessert.
The kids hunted for eggs in the front yard before we ate and had so much fun. They were both in rare form - very entertaining, energetic, not the least bit whiny throughout the visit. I was impressed! Good thing they both had naps before we went there.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
I remember fairly recently having dreams where she would talk to me and we would go on rides at the fair. I don't really remember doing that with her - maybe we did, but she was always more succeptible to catching colds when it started to get colder, so I think I'm just imagining this as something she would have enjoyed. She's always still young when I see her in my dreams, but I'm often older - and she knows what has been happening in my life and she always brings me so much comfort. I can't picture her face without seeing her freckles and her wonderful smile.
Lately I've been thinking about the people who are no longer around in my life and thinking about what I've missed. In talking to my mom, I've started wishing that I had spent more time talking to my grandfather and asking him to share more stories about his life. My mom was telling me, after her recent visit to see her mother, about talking with her siblings and collectively piecing together information from their father to flesh out details from his past. I wish that they didn't have to do that, that they, and I, had asked the right questions and learned more before Pop was gone. I need to learn from this, so that I do get the stories preserved from other people before I lose them. I need to talk to my grandmother more, and get her to share with me. I feel this strong need to know more about her past, and to understand as best I can how she became the woman she is now. And not just her - I want to make sure my kids know the stories from my parents, the funny stories from their childhoods, the ones that show how they were shaped and influenced, the ones that capture their experiences. I guess I'm all caught up in the past at present, because I'm so afraid of how parts of my life are slipping away.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Update: Hubs likes it a lot. The kids didn't last until tasting time. I like it but find it very rich, too much to eat more than a few bites. I'm thinking I could have fun with the basic concept and try it with fruit and/or jam layered in with the cream cheese. And then something else on top in lieu of cinnamon sugar.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I already have some excellent books to read, so it may be a while before I get to these, but that's okay since Amazon will take their sweet time. I'm trying to finish Paula Spencer so I can figure out how to use it in my project, and then read some fun stuff.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
My mom narrowly missed meeting a tornado on her drive back. Her sister called to tell her to drive south and she looked back after getting off the highway and could see the tornado where she had been. Tornadoes freak me out. Glad I didn't see one.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I thought that, since I posted a picture of the punk dog, I should also post a picture of the seizure dog. He started having seizures just over a year ago. We're fairly sure that they're genetic. We've had him since he was 8 weeks old, and he'll be five in May. He was originally destined to be a show dog, but he was a little too wild as a puppy and didn't want to walk nicely for judges, and then he started showing a tendency toward hot spots, so we got him neutered and he's been a lovable bum ever since.
Yes, he also likes to eat limbs and bark. He has some nice bark bits on his tongue and mouth in the closeup shot. The darker teardrop shape on the tip of his tongue is always there. He's had it since birth, although it's much paler than it used to be. But unlike the punk, he learned to channel his energy into more appropriate hobbies. Both of them are really playful. Just need to get the punk to be more gentle in his play, and to get him to stop chewing on everything. I give them chewy snacks and such all the time but that's never enough for one of them.
Baby boy's sitting at the kitchen table snacking on bananas and cheddar cheese. Two of his favorites. He's in a grumpy mood since waking from his nap. Big girl's still passed out on her bed, sleeping on her stomach with her butt in the air as she often does. Sleeping blissfully through the thunder that rumbles above me every so often. Hubs is working on homework stuff. And the dogs are probably hiding under the deck. I probably should get off of the computer during a storm, but I need something to reduce my worry level. I probably should change the channel off the Atlanta station that has weather coverage, but even though it scares me I need to know what's happening down there.
I'm really ticked off at the punk dog. He's got a major chewing problem, and I probably should have found him a new home already, where he could get out his chewing in an acceptable fashion. He's caused a lot of damage, but today's snack - the plastic shutters on Big Girl's play cottage in the back yard - has me angry. Makes me want to kick his ass, and it's hard to restrain myself (but I do and will). He tore out the toy phone from the cottage soon after we got it (it's an old hand-me-down from another family) and crunched it into a yellow plastic mangled mess. He chewed the tubing stuff that connected the gas tank to Hubs' nice grill (we'll have to replace that so we can grill out this summer). He ripped the cover off the grill repeatedly, ripping it in the process, so that he could wad it up and sleep on it. He shredded numerous towels and blankets that I provided for him to sleep on. He pulled off the plastic sheeting that Hubs put over the vents in the dog crate, to make it waterproof so he could sleep in it outside and not get wet in the rain (now it fills with water and has to be dumped out after every rain). He's been digging in the dirt behind some bushes next to the back deck, along the exterior wall of our kitchen. He's removed the lower section of the gutter that drains out there on that wall. He busted into the shed where we keep the dog food and chewed his way into a bag. He chews up sticks and bark and leaves shredded wood bits all over the deck. He gnawed on a corner of the deck (it's an old deck, probably treated with poisonous chemicals that have since been banned, so this may help to explain some of the stupid things he does). He gnawed the arm on Big Girl's Dora the Explorer lawn chair, which we moved to the front of the house. He tried to gnaw on the kids' Radio Flyer wagon but I rescued it before he did any damage. He destroyed one of their balls, and has chewed up other toys. He jumps on the door and the back windows that look onto the deck. He jumps on me with muddy feet and gets my clothes dirty, and even tore a hole in one shirt. He has a major problem with jumping and has resisted all of my efforts to train him not to jump (I can knee him in the chest when he jumps up and he doesn't seem to notice). He steals food from our other dog. He wrestles roughly and I worry that he will hurt the other dog. He jumps over the other dog and sometimes lands on top of him when he does his "pay attention to me" dance.
I was so excited when we took him in last fall. It had been a few months since our dog Rusty died, and I wanted to find a companion for our remaining dog. The punk was wandering loose in my parents' neighborhood, so we brought him home, and after no one stepped forward to claim him, I took him to the vet, got his shots, had him microchipped. At first he was great, but within a week or so he started up with this chewing crap and it just keeps getting worse. I'm really struggling with this. I don't want to find him a new home. I don't want him to be someone else's problems. I want him to be a good dog, to learn how to behave properly and be a good canine citizen and all that jazz. But he must be as dumb as a brick because he doesn't learn - or at least he doesn't remember anything for more than five minutes. ARRRRGGGGH!
Nasty storms still right over Grandma's house.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I'm really out of sorts with my body and my mind today. I've forgotten important things and made mistakes lately, and I'm fed up with having to take medicines all the time to control acid reflux and my other health issues. To be honest, I'm out of sorts with the world today. I'm fed up with inept people working in customer service, with the stupid rules and red tape of companies I have to deal with, with the fact that I always have to be so conscious of our finances. We're fairly frugal people and I'm working on improving in that respect, and it drives me nuts to feel like I have to watch every single penny all month long. But right now that's what I need to do.
Oh, and in a case of further annoyance, Hubs got caught by a red light camera for turning right on red without coming to a complete stop. Ticket came in the mail, and thanks to the miracles of modern technology we can even go online and watch the footage of him doing it. Grrrr. Yeah, he shouldn't have done it, but somehow it irks me that it wasn't even a person who busted him.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Yes, I think if I had one of these, then everything would magically come together. My house would be tidy, and would always smell of fresh baked bread and other lovely things.
a.k.a. Panned Marshmallow Eggs. Where have they been? I haven't had them in years, and then I found them in the Kroger. I have missed them so much. Maybe it's a regional thing? Since I don't remember eating them when I didn't live here in ye olde hometowne. I got some individually packaged ones to put in little bags for big girl's preschool class. I hope those munchkins recognize the sugary goodness for the divine gift that it is. I ate them until I got sick as a kid - always had them in my Easter basket. Yum.
- He already has tons of hats that get left all over my parents' house.
- He doesn't really drink beer, particularly not Sam Adams.
- He wasn't there when I opened the package.
- If I give him the hat, then it won't be as readily accessible for me to appropriate on bad hair days.
Hubs has way too many hats too, but I digress. In other exciting mail-related news, I got a facial cleanser from the Marie Claire Velvet Rope Club to evaluate (I loved the shampoo and condition they sent for me to evaluate last fall) which I've been using. Got the e-mail to fill out the survey this morning. Aside from those two niceties, I'm in a bit of a freebie drought. I hope it will pick up again this summer as it did last. It's been several weeks since the nice Marie Claire people sent me the tote bag with a t-shirt and some other little things to thank me for filling out some other survey. The t-shirt is way too tiny for my bosom. I think it'll make a nice sleep shirt for big girl.
They're watching Oswald. That penguin is a little creepy - I think he's supposed to be wearing glasses? But the lack of defined eyeballs is a bit disturbing. Reminds me of the villainous "chicken" that's really a penguin in "The Wrong Trousers" (Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures).
I need to grade some papers before teaching tonight, plus bring a little order to the chaos that is my den. I want to fix some black bean soup, too - I'm craving it. I left the last of the black bean chili at the church last week. They bagged and froze it to use later, to provide to people who are sick or grieving. Not sure whose idea that was, but it was genius - they really stocked up the church freezer with the leftovers from that night.
Monday, March 10, 2008
We managed to elude all kinds of nasty weather which could have left us trapped up there in the Holiday Inn for a few extra days. We got out of Pa before the snow that socked Ohio got that far, and we came down through Virginia to all kinds of fun flurries. We made a stop for lunch at our alma mater, to get cute shirts for the kids and eat lunch at a delightful bistro that's new to town since Hubs and I were in college there. The food was divine.
That was my "party." Big girl loves parties, and knowing that it was my birthday, she insisted that we have a party, and she talked about the party all morning long as we drove south. She was a big impatient and kept asking when we would have "Mommy's party" and what we would
do at the party. In the end, my party had much better food that her usual parties, but don't tell all of the teddy bears and dolls that I dissed their pretend food. Oh, and the slice of chocolate truffle cake that I ate for dessert? Absolutely sinful and worth it.
Lots more fun stories to share from the whole weekend, including big girl's introduction to the concept of a urinal, but that will have to wait until later.
Lemon Bars from The Southern Living Cookbook: From the Foods Staff of Southern Living Magazine (Southern Living)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind (optional)
1/3 cup lemon juice
Combine 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Cut butter into flour mixture with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Spoon flour mixture into an ungreased 13- x 9- x 2-inch pan; press firmly and evenly into pan using fingertips. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.
Combine remaining 1/2 cup flour and baking powder; set aside. Combine eggs, 2 cups sugar, lemon rind, if desired, and lemon juice; stir well. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture, and pour over baked crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and set. Cool on a wire rack. Dust lightly with powdered sugar.
Notes: I omitted the lemon rind, since I didn't have any lemons. The crust was delicious. I think I could probably repurpose it for other things. I liked the final texture of the bars - they had a nice firm chewiness. And they all disappeared quickly at church, so I guess others liked them too. I'll have to make the recipe again for home consumption sometime soon, after the birthday cake and girl scout cookies are gone.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
The house smells delicious. I made a big pan of lemon bars this morning, and mingled with that - nicely mingled - is the smell of chili cooking in the crock pot. I'll be taking these items to church this evening to share for Wednesday Night Dinner, which this week is a potluck. Big girl has been eyeing the lemon bars and sniffing them with great interest since she got home (my dad kindly brought her home from preschool since Baby Boy was napping soundly at pickup time). The lemon bar recipe is another favorite from the Southern Living Cookbook. I'll post that recipe in a minute. As for the chili:
One pound ground chuck, browned
One medium sweet onion, chopped
Two large cans of diced tomatoes
Two cans of black beans, pilfered from my mom's kitchen since Hubs apparently used all of our canned beans
Chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper to taste
I'll probably add a touch of flour mixed with water to thicken it up before I take it over. This is all cooking on high in the crockpot and the smell is delightful. Hubs considers himself a chili expert, but I like mine better. Sure, he wins all the chili cookoffs at work, but I always have to add sour cream to his chili so it's not so harsh on my sensitive digestive system.
Off to find that cookbook with the lemon bar recipe...
Monday, March 3, 2008
I've been asked to serve on the board for the regional library. I'm not positive that I'll be appointed, but I said I would love to do it. The library here in our town is in dire need of some TLC on multiple levels: state of the building, state of collections, level of awareness, quality of technology and access. And I think I could help a great deal, so I hope it will work out.
I referred myself to a specialist to get more input on my chronic illnesses. I've had far too many sinus infections, allergy flare-ups, colds, tonsil issues, and other issues lately, so I'll be seeing an ENT tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully he can do something to get me some relief. I'm tired of coughing and sneezing and feeling like crap all the time. Hopefully if I can breathe more easily, I'll feel more like exercising a bit.
My birthday is approaching, but I'm not expecting anything much this year. I already received a couple of nice sweaters from my aunts and uncles, and I think I'm still "ahead" with my parents, who got us some new appliances when we moved as "early" Christmas and birthday gifts. Maybe Hubs will get me a present that's truly intended for me, and not something he wants for himself. Oh, and I did order a few new attractive tops from the clearance section of the Talbots website, so I can look a little more presentable when I teach. Maybe I can persuade Hubs to sponsor an expansion to my shoe collection.
My mom should return to town today, after spending some time with her family after my grandfather's death. I'm eager to talk to her and spend some time with her. I want to ask her a lot of questions about her childhood and try to imprint them in my memory, since I feel like so much was lost in terms of family history and storytelling when my grandfather died. I need to do more to record family stories and other information that I feel I need to remember, and that I want the kids to know when they're older. I've been tossing around ideas in my mind about ways to do that - scrapbooks, typing up stories, maybe a CD or something. Not sure yet but I have a lot of ideas.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Big girl is parked next to my desk chair for a bit of coloring and this new strange game she plays, where she turns legos upside down and puts crayons in the holes and arranges the legos and drives them around. So many interesting things going on in that beautiful little mind, and sometimes I don't understand any of it. But it's fascinating to watch her talk to herself and invent these conversations between toys and narrate the things that she's doing.
Baby boy is napping - it's hard work inspecting all of the tractors and entertaining your relatives at the family farm all morning.