Monday, November 30, 2009
Naturally, it looks nothing like a magazine...at all. The loosely formed mass is comprised of paper that Rowan has cut up, painted, and stuck together using what he calls "sticky things" (tape, staples, string, glue sticks and gift ribbon).
He's been working on his magazine for more than a week. One day, as I pondered the project's total takeover of our dining room table, I told Rowan that he was holding his scissors the wrong way. His response? "There isn't a wrong way to hold a scissors, mama. As long as it's cutting, it's fine."
It wasn't the first time he had corrected me about his methods. "This is how they show me to hold my pencil in preschool," he once declared, demonstrating his tripod grip. "But now I'm making art. I need to hold my pencil the crazy way because it helps me make wild circles and fireworks!"
"Oh, I see," I responded. "That makes sense."
On that note, I have a special request for Rowan's future teachers: Please, please, please don't crush my little guy's artistic dreams just because he colors outside the lines or has absolutely no interest in drawing anything that looks like anything you'd ever recognize. I like him just the way he is.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I must provide a disclaimer, however, for people who enjoy competition:
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO STRATEGY INVOLVED IN THIS GAME! NONE.
At first, I found this a rather annoying. I even toyed around with creating new rules to make it a little more challenging and competetive. But the truth is that Rowan LOVES playing this game just the way it is.
It's a nice change of pace from Candyland and Shoots and Ladders, that's for sure.
Friday, November 27, 2009
"I don't have to tell you that. It's a secret for Santa!"
Hmmm. This could be a problem. But considering that the last time I asked, he said he wanted "red paper, a rubber duck and a bigger scissors" my guess is that he isn't aiming very high. In any case, I will be listening very closely when we visit Santa this afternoon.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Rowan, What are you thankful for this year?
- Cleaning up
- My Lighning McQueen cup
What is Thanksgiving all about?
What do you want to tell everyone on Thanksgiving?
"Once upon a time there was love. Love, love, love. The end."
*Kyle, don't be offended that you came after "cleaning up" and "my Lightning McQueen cup." You know Rowan loves that cup. And sweetie, please know that you'd be at the tippy top of my list!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
After consuming two-thirds of the puffed sugar cylinder, he stopped. "I want to save the rest for tomorrow," he said, handing me the sticky white mass. "For after breakfast."
You are a fascinating little boy, Rowan. And we love that about you.
*In case you're wondering: Yes, my son would almost certainly choose a Market Pantry marshmallow over a homemade dessert.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I realize that my timing is lousy. Thanksgiving — that yearly celebration of gluttony — is just two days away! I should be cooking broth soups or preparing fresh salads to atone for what's coming. Instead, we’re feasting on comfort foods!
I blame the sales. Because Thanksgiving is just two days away, everything rich and decadent has been marked down. Butter: on sale. Cream: on sale. Puff pastry: on sale!
Today, I discovered that you can buy all natural (ALL BUTTER) Dufour puff pastry at Whole Foods Market. I bought a package and decided to make chicken pot pie for dinner and raspberry napoleons for dessert. (Organic raspberries were also on sale!)
For the pot pie, I loosely followed this filling recipe (halved). I poured the warm filling into a pie dish and covered it with rounds of puff pastry, which I had brushed with an egg wash. After thirty minutes at 400 degrees, the filling was bubbling and the puff pastry “biscuits” were golden brown. Yum!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
And even when the liquid finally became thick and silky, the waiting had only just begun. Dad would pour the contents of the saucepan into several green-rimmed Corelle bowls and pop them into the refrigerator to set.
“Are they done yet?” we would ask…repeatedly.
He never told us that we couldn’t eat the pudding early, but he made it clear that patience would be rewarded. Eat it too soon, he warned, and it would be tepid and runny. Plus, once you consumed your so-so pudding, you’d be forced to watch everyone else enjoy a perfectly chilled treat!
So we waited…and peeked…and waited…and peeked.
Making pudding was — and is — a lesson in patience.
Today, I smiled when Rowan asked, “Are they done yet?” for the fourth time. I’ve been there. To ease the waiting, I let him lick the spatula, just like I did when I was a kid.
After a little more than an hour in the refrigerator, the pudding was set.
“Waiting for a treat makes it taste extra good!” Rowan declared between slurps.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
- Macaroni and cheese (at least it was "delux")
- Sweet white wine (milk for the kiddo, of course)
- Chocolate chip cookie dough
Actually, it was pretty good. Not great, but solidly good.
Now I'm off to make a grocery list...
Thursday, November 19, 2009
It's this thing:
What is it, you ask? Well, according to Rowan, it's a masterpiece — a book that he created using pens, markers, blue painter's tape, glue sticks and what he calls "special scratch paper."
Naturally, I'm quite impressed by my son's determination and creativity. He worked on this thing for almost 45 minutes.
But...um...what should I do with it now? Have I given it enough recognition by taking a picture of it and sharing it on our blog? Can I recycle it now? After all, when it comes to art, the process is more important than the end result...right?
What would you do?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Last week, our parent educator informed us that we should no longer buy cereal for the infant/toddler room. “They have more Cheerios and Kicks than they know what to do with!” was her exact quote. So instead, they want us to buy packages of special cereal and fruit puffs from the baby food aisle.
Is anyone else a little confused by this logic? If they have an overabundance of Cheerios and Kicks, why don’t they just feed the babies Cheerios and Kicks? Why do we need to buy anything at all? Can’t the babies make it through a 1-hour class without special puffs to sustain them?
I don’t get it.
But the baby snack was the least of my problems. In the old days, we were allowed to bring homemade treats for the parent snack. Not everyone did, of course, but it was always nice when someone took the time to bake a pretty tart or cake for the group.
“Due to concerns about H1N1, homemade snacks are no longer allowed in the parent room,” was the official position given by our educator.
Is anyone else a little confused by this logic? I mean, I understand if the concern is about dirty kitchens, poisoning attempts or allergies…but H1N1? Why are muffins baked at 350 degrees in someone’s home any more likely to carry H1N1 than a plastic tub of mini scones that who knows how many people have touched at Target?
I ended up buying the puffs for the babies, some crackers for the preschoolers and an assortment of mini scones and rolls for the parents. More than $35 later, I had an acceptable snack.
You know what would really prevent H1N1? How about not passing around a snack at all? Can’t we all make it through a 9 a.m. class without nourishment?
Monday, November 16, 2009
Ask Rowan what he learns at preschool, and he'll happily tell you.
"Nothing," he'll say with a sly little grin. "I learn NOTHING at preschool!"
Oh yeah, little punk? Now I have evidence! You can't fool me anymore. No siree.
Consider yourself caught in the act of learning!
Counting to 20 (or something?) in Spanish
Singing about the months of the year
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Now I need a week-long vacation! A real vacation.
But alas, I'll be back at the office tomorrow...assuming I can keep the coughs and sniffling to a minimum.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Being sick is the pits. But since Thanksgiving is approaching, I feel compelled to look on the bright side.
Hmmm... The bright side… What am I thankful for right now?
Oh, I suppose I can thing of a few things:
- Ugly underwear: One of the great things about being sick is that you don’t have to pay any attention to your appearance. Putting on make-up is a total waste of time when you’re constantly blowing your nose. And why style your hair when bed head is inevitable?
But the best part of neglecting your appearance is the underwear. That’s right, ladies. When you’re sick, you can wear your most comfortable, high-waist, full-coverage cotton undies* and not feel the least bit embarrassed. Panty lines? Who cares! And it’s not like your hubby is coming anywhere near you for at least a week. Ahhh. Luxury.
- Forced exercise: I’m not a huge fan of working out, but I especially hate ab routines. The crunching, the twisting, the neck-straining. Blech. Thankfully, I no longer need an ab routine. Why? Because I am coughing my way to a better body! And the beauty of this workout is that I can’t stop doing it — not even in my sleep. I doubt I’ll achieve a six-pack during my illness, but I’m okay with that. Involuntary exercise can only accomplish so much.
- Reluctant servants: As our family’s primary caretaker, I'll admit that it’s nice to get a little extra TLC while I’m sick. And when I say a little, I mean very little. But every bit counts, right? A cup of tea here. An extra blanket there. Nice! Oh sure, I hear a sigh or see an eye roll from my boys now and then. But it doesn’t matter. While I’m sick, they’re mine!
Seriously, though, I think I'm most thankful for the fact that — so far — no one else has contracted my illness. A healthy family is truly the best blessing of all. It means less work for me! ;)
*I discovered the amazing comfort of full-coverage cotton undies when I accidentally ordered the wrong style from Victoria's Secret. Sooo comfy...and yet sooo dorky. But ladies, they aren't for everyday wear! They're just for times when comfort trumps fashion. Buy some. You won't be disappointed.
Friday, November 13, 2009
"Daddy, can I look in the window again? Just to remember how fun it was?"
Sounds like they had a great time. I'm sad I missed it. BUT, I'm starting to feel a little better! Gosh, I bet I'll be feeling well just in time to go back to work! :(
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Rowan: Did you see that, mama? She’s gonna brine the pork chops in sugar. I love sugar!
Me: It doesn’t taste sugary when it’s done.
Rowan: Yes it does! I think that’s a pretty good trick.
Me: We can try that sometime, if you want to.
Me: You know what, Rowan? I really like watching these shows with you. It’s a special thing that just you and I do together.
Rowan: Were you telling the truth when you said this is the only thing on?
Rowan: I guess I like watching these shows with you, too.
Me: Thanks, buddy. I love you.
Rowan: I love you, too.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
But his favorite keepsakes are what he calls our beautiful things — pictures and mementos that we display to admire and remember special times in our lives.
For example, he absolutely adores the Willow Tree "New Dad" figurine in our office. Kyle received it as a gift from his parents shortly after Rowan was born. Rowan asks to hold it and look at it from time to time. As he admired it yesterday, he invited Kyle to take a silly little trip down memory lane.
Rowan: "Daddy, this is a very special beautiful thing, isn't it?"
Kyle: "Yes, it is. I got it from my mom and dad when you were born. It reminds me of when you were a baby."
Rowan: "Do you remember when I was such a tiny baby?"
Kyle: "I do."
Rowan: "Do you remember holding me when I was such a tiny baby?"
Kyle: "I do."
Rowan: "Do you remember sitting on a rock while you were holding me when I was such a tiny baby?"
Kyle: "Uh...[laughs]...no, I don't think I remember sitting on a rock when you were a baby. Maybe we did, though."
Rowan: "I was just wondering about that."
Oh, that kid makes us smile every day!
Monday, November 9, 2009
RECIPE: Chef4You44’s Thai Beef CurryOkay, real reviews aren’t usually that bad, but some are pretty close!
KookingKutie wrote: “This recipe was AMAZING! I made a few changes, though, to suit our family. Instead of beef, I used chicken (had it in the freezer – BIG sale, woohoo!). And instead curry paste and coconut milk (WAY too spicy for DH), I simmered the chicken in stock with some fresh thyme and root vegetables. We didn’t have rice, so I finished it off with some egg noodles. Thanks for the inspiration! Keep ‘em coming!”
So when I was searching for a low-carb* beef stew recipe a couple of weeks ago, I was rather intrigued by this one. After wading through gobs of reviews for various versions on the Food Network, simplicity proved oddly refreshing. No impeccable photos. No long-winded reviews. Just a basic recipe sitting on a totally boring, poorly designed diet site.
So I made it. And it was good! I only made a few changes. (HA! You knew this was coming.)
- Instead of a can of plain stewed tomatoes, I used fire-roasted tomatoes with diced green chiles (nice and spicy!)
- Instead of a cube of beef bouillon, I used a teaspoon of organic Better than Bouillon (you know, because it’s better)
- And instead of zucchini, I used some cauliflower
- Oh, and I try to use grass-fed beef and organic ingredients whenever possible.
I’ve made three batches over the past couple of weeks to bring to work for lunch. And I’m not sick of it yet! (Now that sounds like an honest review.)
*Why am I eating low-carb? Well, I’m not. Not really, at least. I was just in one of those “I really need to watch it or I won’t make it to the other side of winter without having to buy bigger pants” kinds of moods when I was looking for a recipe.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
We wasted our entire day in urgent care!
Well, that’s not exactly true.
We wasted our entire day at Minute Clinic and in urgent care.
I suppose it was our own fault for leaving Minute Clinic. We waited there for over an hour to earn the coveted “next in line” spot. So when the practitioner informed us that he’d be taking a 30-minute break before our visit, we were mad. Irrationally mad.
Kyle found a pediatric urgent care clinic near our house that — at the time we called — had only two patients in the waiting room. ("At the time we called" is the key phrase here.)
But before we discuss urgent care, I'd like to share a few special moments from Minute Clinic/CVS:
- A woman bought a Snuggie — you know, one of those blanket/dress thingies they pitch on T.V. — for her DOG! (Yes, they make them for dogs.)
- Another woman cleared the store out of canned vienna sausages! CANNED sausages!
- And yet another woman slowly worked her way down the “As Seen on T.V.” aisle, praising the virtues of each product to her friend. Bumpits, Wonder Hangers, Space Bags… Rowan was positively star struck!
Anyhoo, urgent care.
What a mistake.
We sat for what felt like an eternity among whining, coughing, sniffling kiddos. Blech. And let me tell you, it's not easy restraining a 4-year-old who wants to look at books "like the boy with the mask."
At least we left with a diagnosis — strep throat — and a prescription for antibiotics. I almost asked for something for myself after sitting that germ-factory. (Kyle is now reminding me that I did ask him for something: wine.)
So our little guy earned himself a “get out of preschool free” card for tomorrow. Here's hoping that this was our last trip to urgent care for the season.
Cross your fingers for us, will ya?
Saturday, November 7, 2009
This morning, he bounced into our room looking cheerful and symptom-free. “G’morning, Mama!” he said. “Look out the windows. It’s the morning time!”
I couldn’t believe it. Yesterday, he could hardly keep his eyes open!
Not sure if his recovery would stick, we lazed about the house for most of the morning. By noon, however, there seemed to be no reason to stay cooped up on such a beautiful day.
While Kyle raked leaves, Rowan and I soaked up the sun. We kicked a ball around and practiced with his bike.
He had so much energy that he wouldn't stand still long enough for me to take his picture!
After finishing in the yard, Kyle took Rowan to the park. It was a glorious day!
By the time they came home, however, things had started to change. "Can you snuggle me, mama?" Rowan said, climbing up on the couch. He felt warm.
The fever, aches and sore throat had returned. Bummer.
Friday, November 6, 2009
I always struggle with this dilemma. Often, we go without medicine. If Rowan can sleep well, I figure it's unnecessary. Fevers help the body fight infections, after all, so why mess with nature?
But fevers often accompany bothersome aches and pains. Unfortunately, that’s what Rowan is experiencing today. He’s afflicted with…something. I’d say it’s the flu, but this is the second time we’ve suspected the flu this season. He has a fever, aches, a cough, a runny nose and a sore throat. His eyes are watery and the skin around his eyes is red and splotchy.
Basically, he’s sick. And it breaks my heart.
So when he told me he couldn’t sleep because he "hurt everywhere," I decided to give him ibuprofen.
Or did it?
Sure, his aches and pains are better, but now I have a new problem: he no longer acts like he’s sick!
Instead of watching cartoons and drifting in and out of sleep, he’s bopping around and begging me for Halloween candy. And instead of keeping his germs confined to one area of the couch, he’s wiping his nose and eyes all over the house.
I mean, I’m glad he feels a little better. But the truth is that he’s not better. He’s just perky.
Is that a good thing?
Thursday, November 5, 2009
We still have our occasional hard days, though. This afternoon, for example, we had the following conversation while driving home.
Naturally, I felt a little pang of guilt. After all, no place feels as comfortable as home.
Rowan: "Mama, I don’t very much like some things about my school."
Me: "Really? Like what?"
Rowan: "Like a lot of things."
Me: "But you have some good friends there, don’t you?"
Rowan: "Yeah, I like Rebecca and Matthew and Maverick."
Me: "So playing with them is fun, right?"
Rowan: "Yeah, but I still don’t like some things about school."
Rowan: "Like...I wish they had just one basket of toys."
Me: "Really? Just one basket?"
Rowan: "Yeah, like one basket of toys that I could look in whenever I want."
Rowan: "And I wish they had a couch instead of an ABC carpet. Or maybe two couches."
Rowan: "And I sometimes wish they had a T.V. instead of play areas."
Me: "Rowan, are you describing our living room?"
But school has been good for Rowan in so many ways. He's made some new friends ("Wow, you're invited to a birthday party?"), learned more independence ("Wow, you can put on your own coat?") and adopted some good habits ("Wow, you sing all the way through the ABCs to ensure adequate hand-washing duration?!").
So I'm happy with our three-day-a-week separation. And really, five minutes before we had our conversation in the car, he was singing a pretty different tune:
"Mom, go sit over there for a minute. I'm not done playing."
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Children provide such a fascinating window in to human nature. You can almost see their little minds processing life's most basic questions: "Should I be mean or nice? Should I be truthful or tell a little white lie?"
It's rare when you can capture their moral dilemmas on camera. But it sure is hilarious when you do!
Rowan on being nice and good.
Maddox on telling the truth.
(So that's what happened to our Ice Age DVD!)
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Suburban Neighbor to Mr. Jones: "Hey, how’s that home theater project coming along? Man, it’ll be nice to watch the games down there! Ya think there’ll be room around that fancy new wet bar for me and guys? Sure hope so!"
Urban Neighbor to Mr. Jones: "Hey, how’s that foam insulation project coming along? Man, it’ll be nice not to have ice forming in that south-facing bedroom this winter! Ya think that’ll solve your mold problem? Sure hope so!"
Luckily, we haven’t had any major issues with our house....yet (knock on wood). We have completed a few projects to make it more livable, though. For example, our kitchen cabinets are original to the house. The layout is a little odd, but the cabinets are large and made of solid birch. We talked about replacing them, but I choked at the thought of destroying something so central to our home's history.
So for now, we’re working around them. In October, we repaired some of the kitchen walls, put up a fresh coat of paint, installed a pegboard pot rack, and bought a small kitchen cart. Little things, to be sure, but they’ve made a big difference.
East Wall Before:
East Wall After:
We also bought a new stove and are having a chimney-style vent hood installed. But I won’t show you those “before” pics until we can take the “afters.”
I’m quite happy with the little changes we’ve made. Does my kitchen ever seem small? Sure. But I remind myself that families much larger than ours survived in this house just fine. In fact, families all around our neighborhood are surviving in kitchens like ours right now.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Maybe I’m hoping to counteract some of our less desirable family traditions. Last weekend, for example, Rowan explained the following — in his sincerest little voice — to one of our guests:
“That’s our laundry couch, but we cleared it off for the party. You can sit there now if you want to.”
Yep. Family traditions sneak up on you when you least expect them.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to start a tradition of having fancy dinners on Sundays. I like to cook anyway and had just found an interesting chicken recipe online. While the chicken and garlic braised, I whipped up some mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, sautéed greens and maple-glazed delicata squash. I even baked a homemade apple tart!
I was feeling quite proud of myself when everything came together just in time for dinner (no small feat).
Unfortunately, I forgot one thing: my kid doesn’t like food. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but he sure is picky! His favorite foods all have the same ingredients, rearranged slightly: macaroni and cheese, cheese pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, buttered noodles with — you guessed it — cheese (and NO spices).
My beautifully prepared meal did nothing to convert my little lacto-carbitarian. While Kyle and I ate and ate (and ate), Rowan picked at his plate and whined about how his chicken was too “skin-y” and his squash was too “smashy.”
Then he asked for a bowl of cereal.
You can imagine how frustrating it is to have your home-cooked meal snubbed in favor of Clifford Crunch.
Oh well. Until Rowan’s tastes broaden, I guess I’ll have to start a different family tradition. Or maybe I’ve already created one...? I can see it now:
“My mom only feeds me cereal on Sundays, but you can have something different if you want to."
Great. Just great.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Some of you are undoubtedly thinking, “Children need chaperones!”
I agree. But I’m not talking about adults who accompany young trick-or-treaters. I’ll happily dole out an extra Kit Kat (or three) to parents who brave the elements to give their children a once-a-year opportunity to take candy from strangers.
No, I’m referring to adults who hit the town specifically to collect candy for themselves.
Before moving to the city, I had never even considered that adults might go trick-or-treating. Rowan was 3 when we celebrated our first Halloween in this house. We were putting the final touches on his artist costume when we heard a loud knock. Excited, I quickly grabbed our candy bucket and rushed to the door to greet our first arrival!
You can imagine my surprise when I saw a 40ish-year-old woman standing on our front stoop. She was not with a child. She was not wearing a costume. She did not say "trick-or-treat." She did not even thank me after I gave her a bag of Skittles. Nope. When I wished her a happy Halloween, she quickly shook her bag and demanded more!
(Upon recounting this story, I’ve actually had a few people tell me that they would have refused her. I don’t buy it. If some unstable stranger shakes a Cub Foods bag at you and brazenly demands more candy, I highly doubt you’d have the courage to say no. I sure didn’t!)
This year, I wasn’t surprised when a couple of adults stopped by the house well before dark. Did I think it was a little weird? Yep! But I had recently read an interesting factoid about Halloween that made me feel more at peace with the situation.
According to Wikipedia: “Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2).”
I obviously have no idea whether our adult trick-or-treaters were poor. Maybe they were just bored…or crazy…or in serious need of a chocolate fix. But clearly something wasn't quite right. So if I could brighten their day with a few packs of candy, so be it. And if they happen to say a few prayers for my deceased relatives, all the better.
My only real concern is safety. We live in a family-friendly neighborhood, but our close proximity to the bus line means that LOTS of our trick-or-treaters are complete strangers to us. But I never had to answer the door alone this year. Why? Because we hosted a Halloween party! (Kyle preferred to call it an “informal get-together” because that seemed like less work. HA!)
We had a great time! I wish we would have taken more pictures, but we're always so busy when people are at our house. Below are a few highlights.
(You can't see it under his coat, but Kyle was wearing a 1970s vest and polyester trousers. I would have feathered his hair, but we ran out of time before the party. Drat!)
Ghost cake. Cute and delicious!
Me and Shrek. We're tight.
(a.k.a., my dad and mom)
Avery as a bumblebee; and Maddox as Buzz Lightyear.