Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I don't do resolutions

I don't do resolutions.

Nope, not my thing. I like to make lists for shopping, because this old brain just can't remember everything anymore, but I hate resolutions. I just don't see the point. Life gets in the way, and then my resolutions either become moot, or never accomplished.

My philosophy is that if it's worth doing, I'll start to make it a habit without giving myself the pain of guilt for not completing a resolution.

I also don't do diets. Again, I don't see the point. I don't even weigh myself all that often. Only at the doctor's or at my parent's house, because they seem to have a really good accurate scale, but since I'm only there about 2 times a year and I might hit the doctor's once, maybe twice, a year, I don't really keep running tabs on where the weight is.

My diet philosophy is that I try to limit my sweet intake, so we don't have sweets in the house very often. (This season is an exception) I also allow myself some vices, caffeine is one of them. Instead of weight, I gauge by how my clothes (especially the ones that are as old as my son) fit. If the clothes are 9 years old and still fit, well I must be doing something right. My final determination is to boost my exercise level, which really is what I think I need. I think a stronger body that doesn't get winded chasing after kids or biking with them is really the main goal. In addition, I would hope it pulls my stress level down. That last one is more difficult and I've been fighting myself to get going since last spring. So I'll try to do better, but I am not going to make it a resolution either. Because sleep might become more important at some point.

I have some goals and objectives for the upcoming year, but they don't need a resolution, because I started them before the new year and intend to finish things soon.

So the rest of you enjoy your resolutions, and I will just enjoy the new year. As much as I can with the stinking snow that keeps coming. Someone put in a call to Mother Nature and tell her we've had enough.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Eve 1999

In lieu of Monday night memory, here's one for Tuesday.

Remember all the craziness about Y2K? Yeah, we sort of remember it, too.

I was due with Wild Child #1 at the end of November 1999.

Nope, no kid.

Waited another week and I was still working.

Nope, no kid.

Took that next week off, because surely he'd be coming anytime soon.

Nope, no kid.

Went in for inducement (do not recommend that) and 22 hours later, yes, finally a bouncing baby boy. Except he was in the hospital 2 extra days longer than me. (Long story short, he didn't pee, and then he did and I scared the poor boy half to death when I was so excited that he did pee. Oh, and don't recommend baby staying in the hospital longer than you, very hard on the nerves and the hormones).

Needless to say, I started off not having had decent sleep, and a newborn continues to make that hard. I know, all the mothers have been there and done that.

Needless to say, new parents are NOT going to go out partying on New Year's Eve when they have a two week old. Nor do they stay up for New Year's Eve. Are you kidding? We tried. We put a puzzle together. But we turned in about 9:30 pm.

The last thing I said to my husband was, "I guess we'll find out about this Y2k when he wakes up for his next feeding."

So, about 2 am, little Wild Child #1 wakes up, and Mr. Wild stumbles to his room to change his diaper (he's good like that). Lo and behold, the light comes on in the baby's room (Mr. Wild didn't want to grope around in the dark for stuff). I haul myself to the living room to nurse the tyke (don't ask, I just couldn't get the hang of nursing lying down at that point, new mom, remember?). Lo and behold, the light goes on there.

Me to Mr. Wild, "Guess that Y2k stuff didn't happen."

Hunh. Such a let down. But kind of funny all the fuss that was made over nothing. Except that I will never forget that particular New Year's Eve, because of sweet little #1, who turned 9 this year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas is about....

My wise 5 year old daughter:

"Christmas is not about eating stuff, it's about loving people." (giving mommy a hug)
"Red is for heart and green is for I love you!"
"And I'm loving you...and Daddy. Even #1."

(Ok, yeah, I know she said his name, but he's #1 here)

["After you're done with this Mommy, can I please go to Pixie Hollow.com?"]

Then I have ham, lemon apple salad, green bean casseroles and sweet potato casserole to put together.

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Night Memory--Christmas

Ok, I'm going to make a confession. I think I'm old enough, that I can handle the razzing. I do not want anyone to make fun of me.

I believed in Santa until seventh grade.

I see some jaws dropping.

But you know what? I am really glad I did. Because I had 12 years of magic that maybe many kids did not get. I feel sorry for those youngsters who were spoiled by 1st or 2nd grade.

Do you remember the magic? Coming downstairs, or coming to the living room and seeing all those "other" presents. The ones HE brought. That magic man in the red suit, how did he do it? Because you cannot imagine that your parents could be so sneaky and secretive. I mean, when did they go shopping? They spent all their time with you!

Leaving the cookies and milk out for Santa and they were gone, eaten, drunk up! How did that happen? Because you cannot imagine that your parents would be so conniving as to eat and drink what you left.

It's very difficult for me to remember one specific Christmas before I was in seventh grade. But I do remember the awe I felt when I came down the stairs and just saw so many more presents around the tree than there had been the night before. I remember the bulging stockings we had, which were sitting on the living room chairs or sofas, because we didn't have a fireplace. We always got an apple, an orange, and nuts. I never worried that we didn't have a fireplace and chimney per se. It never seemed to be an issue. Santa was magic, so I'm sure he could adapt with the times. I remember thinking how much more sparkling the tree looked, even in the daylight without the tree's lights on. It was like the magic had cast its spell on the whole room and it was full of joy and anticipation.

When in sixth grade, I had friends talking to me about Santa, questioning it, talking about parents pushing on them to see if they were awake. I thought perhaps it wasn't Santa, but maybe there was still some kind of magic taking care of things. That was ok by me.

Seventh grade, we were in a new town. I was in a new school, a junior high. Maybe high time I let go of the fantasy. But the clincher was that Santa brought be a brand new sweatsuit, with the school name and mascot logo on it. Red and gold. It was awesome and I knew, that clearly, it was from my mom and dad. Dad was the assistant principal at this junior high. For some reason, I couldn't believe that Santa had done it. It made more sense that my dad had picked it up from school. I don't ever remember telling my parents I didn't believe anymore. The next year, I got to be Santa, by making my very little sister a bracelet for her new "Santa-brought" Cabbage Patch Kid doll. I really felt special, because I got to be "behind the magic." I knew it was also special not to spoil it for my brother and sister. I knew what they might miss if they found out so soon.

I suppose that's how the magic gets to live on. It is a grand, huge lie we tell our children every year. But the looks on their faces, and getting to remember the magic through those looks, why give it up now? For me, I'm going to try my hardest to let my kids have the magic as long as they can. Because once we're grown up, it is hard to find the magic in our own lives.

Though with children, you can still have the chance to feel it every day.

And every year, at this time of year, you know the big man is filling up his pack and sleigh and getting ready to put some magic in your house.

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to our life its highest beauty and joy. "
....


"No Santa Claus? Thank God he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, maybe 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the hearts of children."



--Taken from New York Sun editorial, September 20, 1897 by Francis. P. Church

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Productivity

So you know about the woes of our household items kicking it just before Christmas. Nice.

Well, today was about productivity. Wild Child #2 was invited to a birthday party in the town down the road that we go for major shopping (i.e. they have the Super Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Old Navy, Sears, Hobby Lobby, Menards, a mall, you get the picture). We needed to buy the birthday child a present (Ouch, how'd I let that one slip?). We needed a new snow blower, because, shock, more snow on the way. We needed to finalize our Christmas shoppping (Santa was low on presents for the children). Finally, we needed to get this all done before 2:30 pm so Mr. Wild could get back for a D&D game (yeah, I know, don't knock it, he's a stay-at-home-dad and needs some boy time away from kids).

10:52 am All family members in the car, Wild Child 2 in her nice Christmas dress for the party.

11:08 am Hit the outskirts of said town. The traffic was fierce.

11:13 am Make it to the Super Walmart. Mr. Wild drops me and #2 off at the door.

11:16 am We head straight for the Barbies, got one picked out, started walking to the gift bags. Meet Mr. Wild and #1 near the My Little Ponies. #2 gets slightly sidetracked. Mr. Wild takes
#1 over tothe snow blowers to see what they had, we head to the gift bags.

11:25 am #2 and I have gift wrap that costs as much as the present, pay for it in line.

11:33 am On the road to the party place, Mr. Wild thinks we're going to be early.

11:45 am Traffic is pretty bad, still haven't gotten halfway.

11:55 am Arrive at party place. Drop #2 off.

12:00 pm Stop in Sears.

12:10 pm Have the snow blower picked out. I head to car to go to Target, leaving Mr. Wild to pay for blower and he and #1 to get lunch in the mall.

12:13 pm Make it to Target. Instead of looking for close parking, pick some a little farther away, so I am parked in no time, next to a cart corral.

1:07 pm All the Christmas shopping is done! Seriously. Whew! I head to check out.

1:13 pm Hardly a line at check out. But there's a line at the Starbucks. I was going to get a beverage, and I hadn't had lunch, but the lady that wasn't really in line, but jumped ahead of me, ordered 4 drinks and I didn't want to wait. Figured I could just get a coke and food at the mall. I was pretty hungry.

1:30 pm Make it to the mall, despite the traffic (frontage roads were a good choice). Walk down to the food court, but nothing appealed to me and I didn't have any cash.

1:40 pm Walk over to the party place and sit with Mr. Wild and #1 while #2 is watching presents unwrapped and plays a few more games.

1:45 pm Mr. Wild goes to pick up the snow blower.

1:55 pm Finally get #2 to go pick out prizes. Mr. Wild runs in and says he only can be parked there 5 minutes. Takes #1 with him.

2:00 pm #2 decides she needs to go to the bathroom, so we are delayed gettting the coat on.

2:13 pm By now I have a blazing headache from lack of food and caffeine (yes, I am addicted)

2:25 pm Drive by Mickey D's to get me a Happy Meal and diet coke. Oh, sweet relief!

2:42 pm Make it back to our town with everything.

Mr. Wild sets up the new snow blower in anticipation of tomorrow and puts the oil in, so he's ready. He was a little later than he meant to get to the game, but we did well.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Old fashioned living

What an interesting day. I say that with a touch of sarcasm. Snowfall of at least 12 inches hit us last night. A week ago, the snowblower started having problems and has been in the shop. Yesterday, the shop told us there was nothing we could do to fix it, well, not unless we wanted to spend $250 on the repair. We decided we may as well get a new one.

No snow blower 2 days ago was fine. The snow was light and fluffy and not too deep. Aside from getting up at 6 am to help Mr. Wild shovel (which really wasn't too much shoveling, we just pushed the snow out of the way for the most part), it wasn't that bad.

I knew today would be worse. Mr. Wild was a bit impatient wanting to get out and get rid of the snow. It was about lunch time when he could borrow a neighbor's snow blower. This time it was 12" of heavier snow and it was a lot of work for him even with the snow blower. More snow on Sunday, and we have to now think about shelling out over 300 bucks for a new one.

However, to top it all off, the water heater is also on the fritz. Water from the hot tap was ice cold Wednesday night when I tried to give the kids a bath. We just skipped the baths. Mr. Wild flipped the breaker switch Wednesday night, and when I got up Thursday, thank God, there was hot water. I could shower for work and gave the kids a bath Thursday night. We were going to call the plumber on Thursday, before that worked, because we knew Friday would be a bad snow storm clean up and it would make it harder for people to get here. We thought we were in the clear, however, and that we'd be fine.

Friday morning, I tried to wash my hands with hot water. No hot water. Argh. No shower for me. No hot water for dishes. No hot water for washing hands. Grrrr... So, Mr. Wild called the plumber, who said he'd call back. He didn't call back until 7:00 pm! In the meantime, I heated water on the stove so I could do dishes, because I couldn't do anything else in the kitchen with the mess all over the counter. I was going to make cookies, but didn't really have the room with dirty dishes and so forth.

I talked to one of my friends during the day and she joked that we were just wanting to live in the past with the hot water on the stove and the shoveling things ourselves. Which, in normal circumstances, might be funny, because we're both history museum professionals. But today, really not very funny. Mr. Wild thought he would be handy and it was worth a try. He tried to remove and change the elements in the water heater (which is electric). There's so much sediment in the bottom, that he can't get an element out. He had the whole house water shut down, so we weren't flushing toilets while he ran to the hardware store. And I needed to finish dinner and couldn't even wash the vegetable I wanted to chop up. I was so desperate, that I grabbed some ice cubes and microwaved them to try to get even a little water. It worked, but we are both frustrated with the running around and no results.

So, I'm here, waiting for my hot water to boil on the stove, so I can at least take a maybe warm bath, Mr. Wild is worn out from shoveling and snow blowing. As he said at dinner, he likes his modern conveniences and doesn't like having to go without. I have to agree. I may like the historical past, it may be fun to visit, but bring me back to my modern convenient present anytime.

Grrr...I'm going to check and see if my water is starting to boil.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What I learned from a nine year old boys' slumber party...

First, do not let your husband talk you into inviting more boys than you are really prepared to handle. I was going to have my son only invite 4 boys, so we'd have 5 at most. But Mr. Wild said, "We should invite more, because you know some are not going to come." Then, about 5 days before the party, all boys had RSVP'd that they could come. Gulp, that makes 8! In the end it was 7, but it was still a lot.

Second, tell the parents you are actually going to feed their sons even with the party starting at 6 pm. We had three, maybe four, out of the seven who had actually already eaten. So the three large pizzas were not necessary. Lots of leftover pizza in our house.

Third, it's very hard to keep the attention of boys at ages 8 and 9. Trying to get them to be quiet to listen to how to play a game or even to sit still for a Harry Potter movie. It was too bad a couple of them couldn't stay in one place, because my son really wanted to sit and watch the movie all the way through. It made the movie experience not so good for the rest of them.

Fourth, you never know what you're going to get, behavior-wise. There were two boys I would have been much happier if they had never showed up. And these boys aren't what I would think of as ordinary boys, they were all of varying degrees of higher intelligence. I guess I assumed they would be better behaved. I suppose I should understand more that "boys will be boys" and that it takes all kinds of parents that make all kinds of boys. I hope my son isn't someone that parents want to send home when he goes to parties.

Fifth, boys can sleep on the floor in the winter in sleeping bags and be comfortable enough. Mr. Wild was all worried about the cold and them sleeping on the floor. He was afraid it would be too cold. No dice, they were fine. They actually did all hunker down and sleep by 10:30 pm. I'm sure if it had been girls they would have stayed up talking longer.

Sixth, homemade waffles, let alone pumpkin waffles, will impress today's crowd of pre-made toaster waffle kids. This is a sad statement on our society when at least three boys specifically made statements to me that they had never had waffles made from scratch. I thank my friend, MS, for getting me into more made from scratch things like waffles and scones and dinner in general. At least my kids will remember making waffles in a real waffle iron and maybe will do it with their kids, too. I will say, the boys were very nice in complimenting me on the waffles.

"These waffles are great Mrs. Wild!"

That was a pretty good end to the event.




P.S.-Did I mention we had a Harry Potter theme? Mr. Wild's handy work on the tokens for the game Aurors and Death Eaters found here. For Herbology class we made "dirt" sundaes, "repotting" our screaming mandrakes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Soup for a winter day

Baby, it's cold outside. So warm up with this. Our new favorite soup. Mr. Wild loves making this soup (he says it's easy) and it tastes oh, so good! In addition, one out of two children will like it (well, at least in our house). If you are vegetarian, you could use vegetable broth instead.

We found it when someone at work gave me leeks and carrots from the garden. I looked up potato leek soup on the internet and this is what I found.

Potato Leek Soup

2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 lb leeks, washed and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
5 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. milk
4T butter
salt and pepper

Optional:
6T cream or half and half
1/2 c. shredded cheddar or chives
Crumbed bacon

Melt the butter over med heat in large saucepan. Add the potatoes, leeks, onion, celery, and carrots. Cover and cook 5-7 mins. stirring frequently.

Add chicken stock, milk, and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender and potatoes are soft.

Remove 1/2 the vegetables from the pot and let cool for 15 min while soup on the stove is kept at just warm. Put the cooled vegetables in blender and puree until smooth. Add back to pot, stir, and reheat.

You can swirl in 1T of cream and sprinkle with cheddar, chives, and/or bacon. Serve with crusty bread.

Snow Day!


Even I get a snow day today. To celebrate, I made pumpkin waffles. I am not attempting to drive the 22 miles to work in this snow, so I have to take a vacation day, but that's okay. I guess I will have to clean up though, too.

I am feeling more zen about the snow. I was not ready for it at that end of November and the first couple of snows in December. After last year's super heavy snow and last spring's floods, this winter is already not looking promising. We get to feeling cooped up and overwhelmed by so much snow and it's hard to feel excited about it like we did when we were kids. At some point I have to dump the kids out in the snow today though, or we will all go crazy.

As Mr. Wild said, we can put up the tree. Yes, we have an artificial one. I can't see shelling out the money for cutting a perfectly fine live tree that was growing so nicely where it was, just to put it in my house decorate it and then toss it out unloved in January. And the shelling out the money every year, just seems ridiculous. So our artificial is just fine.

But poor Mr. Wild is out trying to fix the snow blower. Not good on a day like today. It seems he's gummed up the carburetor with gas that was stored for a year and has learned he cannot use gas that's been around that long.

The kids are in a TV coma right now. I think they were playing, but now it's constant TV. I'm not too bothered, they rarely have time for it after school and after dinner.

Last night I made popcorn. We used to have an air popper, but at some point I misplaced it, or it got lost, or we decided to sell it because all we made was microwave popcorn for a while. But lately, I prefer popping my own and have been doing it in our huge frying pan with a little oil, but I really think I need to get a decent popper. I would rather not make microwave, because popping it myself, I know exactly what oil is on my corn and what fats were used. Plus, it just tastes better.

Maybe at some point today I can curl up with a book and a cup of tea. Speaking of which, I am out of decent British tea and had to settle for crappy American. Oh, well.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Damn crafty!

Really, I do have some talents. At one time, I think I had singing and dancing talents, but there's not much call for that as an adult if you don't make a career of it. No, my talent is sewing. I do lots of different kinds and also wish I had time to do others. Lately my work on my talent has consisted of making my kids' Halloween costumes every year. I think I did an especially great job with them this year.


Wild Child #1--no introductions needed


Wild Child #2--Cowgirl (look at those boots! I did not make those)

This stems from the fact that in the past I have made historical clothing of various shapes and sizes for various people.

If I had more time and money and inclination, I would probably work on quilts. But, in the meantime, if a fabric store has a sale or clearance, I pick up things here and there and think I will work on them. Case in point, two Raggedy Reverse Applique pillows I bought thinking it would go with my sister's decor for her new baby. This new baby, well, she was born nearly two years ago. I decided since baby #2 was on the way, maybe I better get these long forgotten presents done for baby #1.

Here's how it went.
Fabrics chosen were purple, green and orange, based on the recommendation of the kit. The back was a fun print with flowers that exactly matched what I was doing on the front.


In case you're wondering, applique is when you sew some fabric on the front of something (like a quilt) and then cut away the back from it so it doesn't get bulky. Reverse means I'm cutting away the front fabric to reveal the under fabric. So the layers are orange on the bottom, green in the middle and the top of the pillow (background for the flower) is purple.

I traced the pattern of the flower on some see through fabric that I could rip away after sewing it down over all three layers.


You can sort of see the flower pattern before I pinned it, and then you can see the sewing on top of all four layers.




The next step is to cut away the see through fabric and then carefully cut only the layers you need to reveal the underneath layer. Green was the middle layer and orange was at the bottom. The cutting, tracing the outline, cutting away the pattern and sewing the front to back only took me three hours.

However, the next step was what made it a long arduous process.

The final step is to clip the edges like a fringe and then throw it in the washing machine to make the edges ravel. Now for me, I washed the fabrics before starting and they raveled in the machine in their first wash. However, once it was sewn all together, it was hard to get them to ravel like I wanted them to. I think I washed and dried them about five times.

Which is why there's no final picture, because I washing the pillow cases up to the last minute before we drove to my brother's to see him and his girlfriend, my sister and her family, and my mom and dad. I also did not document the cute fish pillow done the same way. But, in the end, I was satisfied with the results and my niece loved laying on them anyway.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Oh, finally!

For the last two or three months I have been thinking about getting my hair cut. I'm not delaying because I don't want to, but I wanted a much better cut than I used to get and something different. I think I was also waiting for my last color to grow out. But if you were to ask any of my friends, the last few weeks I've been going crazy over what my hair is not doing. But I've put it off, because the last 2 out of 3 times I got a cut it did not go so well and wasn't really the look I wanted. Plus working full time makes it really hard to get an appointment in. I guess I'm just a bit gun shy.

So, finally! I called a place and I got an appointment for this Saturday. I've already bought one of those hair magazines and combed (no pun intended! seriously) through it for a look. I told the lady that I needed something new and I had a picture to bring in. She set aside an hour for me, so I am expecting them to really listen and then give it a good try. I am so excited, and when I see my sister and the rest of my family on Sunday, it will all be done!

I am soooo in need of this cut!

Techno deprived

After spending four days at my parents' house, where the computer access is dial up and I just didn't want to spend the time waiting, I got back home and realized how disconnected I felt from the world around me. I hadn't checked my gmail, or our home email, or my Facebook or done any blogging. Sad but true that I feel disconnected.

So, in the scramble on Sunday morning to get ready to go shopping with the girls, I felt the strong urge to check all of those at once. What is the connection and why do I care so much?

Email I use to even communicate with my friends across town. Seems silly, I could just pick up the phone, but if its a conversation that I can get answers too any time, it seems easier to email and let my friends answer when they have the time. Rather than taking 30-60 minutes on the phone to gossip and chat. They have kids, I have kids, it seems to be more convenient. So I have to see what everyone was up to while I was sans computer. Then I was updated for conversations in person as we shopped til we dropped later in the day. Not much from family, because I spent the holiday with most of them, or we called and all talked with speaker phone.

Facebook has become a lot more fun since many of my high school classmates have discovered it. A bit strange, but I know I'm a gossip and want to be in the know. But also nice to see everyone with their kids (or not) and where they are in the world. Many are in places I'm surprised to find people at (or not) and others stayed in our home state. I have also enjoyed Facebook because far flung cousins have found it and will post pictures of their sweet little children, whom I have never seen in person.

Then the blog. I hadn't come up with anything good lately, hence less writing, but after Thanksgiving, I had some more ideas to share. Besides that, having a blog also allows you to follow and catch up on other blogs. I particularly enjoy the frosting catastrophes at Cake Wrecks and the person social commentary at Sweet Juniper. It was fun to catch up after the weekend.

It's strange how you can get sucked into this. I think I need to check Facebook now. It's been over two days.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Stuffing--Monday Memory

Leave it to the Americans to create a holiday that is solely about feasting. I really regret it when I eat so much that my stomach hurts. But when you make certain foods only once or twice a year, it is so hard to moderate your intake.

Thanksgiving is all about tradition, as is Christmas. I find it interesting that each generation creates its own traditions. It is also the time to tell stories about family. The older I get, the more interested I get in the generations before. You'd think this wouldn't be hard, considering I'm into history, but it helps when you get to see photographs of the earlier generations and get to compare. Family resemblance is so amazing. Especially when you compare the photos of youth of each generation. It can be so shocking to see your brother, sister or cousin's face staring at you from the photo of your great grandmother or your grandfather.

Then there's the food. What midwest holiday meal wouldn't be complete without a Jello "salad?" You know the kind, orange jello with mandarin oranges, or orange jello with carrots and pineapple, lime jello cottage cheese salad, lime jello coleslaw salad, orange fluff, you get the picture. So, we did have jello with cranberries and a bunch of other yummy chopped up flavors, but we were conspicuously missing the lemon apple salad that I know is a recipe of my maternal grandmother's (though, she could have gotten it from a magazine). It includes lemon jello, apples, walnuts, and celery, mayonaise and marshmallows (what jello salad doesn't throw in marshmallows?). I can see some of you cringing and I was surprised when I found out all the ingredients, but it is one of my favorites. It was on the menu the next day, but I missed having it with the turkey. The cranberry jello salad is excellent and good with turkey, but still.

Our Thanksgiving dinner also revolved around a discussion of the merits of different kinds of stuffing. If you didn't know there could be so many kinds of stuffing, you should look it up sometime (oh, no, wait, check this out). My brother's (and also my parents' and sister's) favorite is a kind we make in a crock pot (slow cooker). I didn't know that it was a recipe out of a magazine from some time after my parents were no longer going to their parents' for Thanksgiving. I knew it wasn't my paternal grandmother's recipe, because I seem to remember rice in hers and cooking in one of those large throw away aluminum pans in the oven. But I didn't know it was not related to previous generations at all, until this year. Which was kind of funny to me, because it is not Thanksgiving or Christmas without generous helpings of it. My brother was all for it and my parents made extra so he could have some to take home. I, too, really like that stuffing. It has mushrooms, onions, celery, bread cubes, lots of seasonings and chicken broth. It is very soft stuffing. Ok, fine, it is mushy stuffing, but, oh, so good! My husband is not so keen on the mushrooms, nor the mushiness.

The characteristics of stuffing were mulled over as we asked my brother and his girlfriend what kind of stuffing they had at the two dinners they had the day before. My brother essentially said it wasn't as good as what we have. Mr. Wild put in his two cents and sang the praises of stuffing that MS made a year ago, I think, which was more firm and included cranberries. It was lovely stuffing, but it won't bring up the cosy feeling I get when I have the stuffing in the crock pot. Still, I have to get the recipe. Maybe it will be a new family tradition.

I wonder why I don't make these special dishes more often. I enjoy them, they are very tasty, yet I save them for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Ah well, 24 more days until I get stuffed again.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Worst Parenting Advise

On the other extreme here is some of the worst parenting advise I got.

Drop a couple of cheerios into the toilet and ask your potty training son to aim for the cheerios. Sounds reasonably clever. They say that men will aim for things in a potty, they even use the idea in public urinals to keep men from peeing everywhere (why is this necessary?) . I tried it, what a mistake. My son was so unable to hit his target and in his attempt to he pee ended up everywhere but the ceiling. No joke. This was from a parents magazine.

Wake your new born baby up every 2 hours during the day to feed so they will be plenty full all night and sleep for you. Again sounds fiendishly clever. This was from the pediatrician we had at the time. He is no longer our pediatrician. Our son was so tired he couldn't nurse properly at night and got up every 30 mins to snack but fell asleep before he was full up. Disaster for the exhausted new parents. And lets face it, if it was that easy to get a new born to sleep we would have sorted it out several millennia ago.

There are plenty of disaster gems. Anyone care to share

Best Parental Advice

So the last blog gave me an idea. You, our readers (what 3 or 4 of you), I hope, will add some of the best advice you have heard as you navigate this morass called parenting.

Best two bits of advice that I got:

My mom told me that when I was little and getting to potty training age, the pediatrician told her to not worry or think about potty training until three. So, I took her advice, quit worrying about my son and trying to get him to use the potty before three. He decided 3 weeks before his third birthday (at my parents' house for Thanksgiving, no less) that he would get up on his own and go use the potty that we had brought (good thing). I thought, well, if this isn't a sign, I don't know what is. We went out right away and got fun Bob the Builder undies. He had accidents the first week, then was dry during the day the whole second week. We'd still put pull ups on him at night, but the night before his third birthday, he asked to wear his underpants. I put extra sheets and plastic on his bed, wholly expecting an accident, but he woke up dry and we haven't looked back since. My daughter was a whole other story and even with the three advice, it was a whole different challenge. Never let anyone tell you that girls are easier than boys to potty train.

I read this at Parent Center.com, I think. When you have a picky eater, it is best to make meals with at least one thing you know they will eat, whether main dish, vegetable, or fruit and the rest of the meal is there to offer them. We had many a meal where they would only eat the one thing and it is heartwrenching when you don't know if they are really full or just trying to avoid the food. Both my son and daughter have gone to physical extremes of gagging on the food. My son, at about 3, threw it up once. So we have picky eaters. It was a long hard slog, but the fruits of our labors are coming to bear. My son now eats Indian chicken, tacos and nachos like they're going out of style and is much better at saying he'll try something to see how it is. His example is giving his sister something to strive for and she will now surprise us by saying she'll try something. It's not where I wish it would be, but it is getting so much better. I figure by the time my daughter is eight we'll be in a groove where all foods at the table will land on the plate and be eaten up.

So, dear reader, what is some of the best advice you feel you've received, where was it from and how did it work for you?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Long Time No Squeak

For a variety of reasons I have not been able to blog recently. However, I spotted this article today and thought I really should share it. It is almost porn for parents. Now I have your attention!

It is about the rules pediatricians break with their own children. Pediatricians Confessions. Of course we all suspected that our pediatricians didn't follow the book. But it is still interesting to read what rules went out the window. Of course it is really nice when pediatricians have had experience with some of the same problems we mere mortals have. They can give better advice and be less judgmental.

Of course my present pediatrician has no children and I really do think he is brilliant. So having children is not a prerequisite to being a sensible and good pediatrician.

I have to say I think my favorite story is the one at the end of the article. The mother and doctor in question only realized that maybe her 4 yr old son didn't need a sippy cup any longer when he brought her the gallon of milk, the cup, lid and valve and asked her to fill it.

I guess they all are just human, may be educated and human but still human.

Four year old kindergarten

Yup, you read that right. Four-year-old kindergarten. It's here, and I'm afraid it's here to stay.

Kindergarten, I grew up with the half-day kindergarten. Boy, have the times changed. I had morning kindergarten when I was 5 years old. I went in the morning, we did story time on the rug, letters and numbers at tables, a little free play time in the space in the room for free play and even had some recess. I remember I liked it. I met my best friend for all of elementary school there. I think I must have learned plenty, because I did fine in school.

When we moved to our state, we found our new district had all day kindergarten. I hadn't encountered that before. I was very leary of it. I couldn't understand why kindergarteners should need a full day. My oldest didn't have issues with it, he did fine with the lunches and all that. I was shocked that they had kindergarteners writing full sentences and stories. And I thought, "Great, is this what No Child Left Behind is bringing us?" I'm still not sold on the full day of kindergarten. My youngest is getting better at the hot lunches and dealing with it better, but I keep wondering if she had only had half day kindergarten and got into that routine, would she have done better with the lunch situation next year? She was in preschool two mornings a week for two years, so the routine of school was handled pretty well, with story time, songs and games.

So, not yet sold on the full day of kindergarten requirement, our district just started four year old kindergarten. They don't have room in their buildings, so they created a partnership with the area preschools to hold all the four year olds for this program. It is offered free to all four year olds in our district boundaries. I've been at PTO meetings last year at our elementary school, and they've talked about it then. One of the arguments is that it will get kids ready for kindergarten.

Ok, stop, hold it there, isn't kindergarten supposed to be the year that kids are helped to get ready for the rest of elementary school? Isn't kindergarten the year when those teachers take all those kids and help sort them into a more even playing field with social skill work, playing with others work, and learning to be a student work? Hmmm...but, on thinking about it, wasn't my kindergarteners already pushed to write full sentences (before you freak, they don't have to be perfect in spelling and punctuation, but still)? I am concerned, because, after reading parenting books and websites, I've seen it again and again, that young children learn through PLAY. So, why is the school routine being pushed so early? It seems like play time is being diminished.

So then, at these last year PTO meetings, the school district line is that not all kids have access to preschool or have parents that have all the skills to teach their children to function in our school society. Ok, fair enough, then let's call a spade, a spade and say that we are doing this because we need to bring those on the lower socio-economic rungs up to a more level playing field. And to make it fair, they will offer it to all students. But instead of telling me this is good for everyone, could you please be honest and say that it's for those people who don't have my background? And then, this begs a bigger question, besides making the school districts carry the burden of trying help students achieve more than their socio-economic status would normally allow, why isn't the whole of society working harder to solve the problems of the poor and disadvantaged? Yeah, don't get me started.

Then, at this month's PTO meeting, the principal mentioned that the school district, because it is getting state funding for the four year old kindergarten, will be operating with a surplus. Something like a $700,000 surplus.

Ok, now that's a good thing. Though, where did this surplus come from? Are we getting more money from the state than we are spending on 4K? And how could that be ok with the state? I don't know all those details, and I keep thinking that maybe I should be attending school board meetings. Perhaps getting the local paper (have I mentioned that I'm cheap) to understand this more. But, I won't knock the surplus, because that means my school district has some back up funds in these economic times. But, again, then, let's call a spade, a spade. We do 4K because it is good economic sense, but maybe it might not be the best for our 4 year old kids. Though, I think it will be more of a win-win situation. I just wish that they wouldn't sit there and pretend it is all about the kids, because it's not. That has been the impression I have gotten from the main arguments.

I'm still not sold on more school structure for our younger students. But I don't think it is a horrible thing. I'm sort of down the middle, because I will concede that the school district having more money at its disposal without raising local taxes. Though, it is taxpayer money one way or another and we pay one way or another. So, while I am glad that my tax money is going to help people who might be at a disadvantage economically and couldn't send their kid to preschool like we did, I wish our local governments would be more honest about the fact that we pay one way or another through various taxes for these programs. And if we didn't help these students to succeed, we might be paying for them with tax money to hold them in prisons or through welfare.

It is all very tricky and I don't have any answers. But, questions are a good start.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wine palette

I am not a wine snob. Never have been. I don't know much about them, though I keep trying to find out more. The best I can say is that I do like wine, but I like it cheap.

Sadly, probably my first experience with wine was Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill in college. College students don't have a lot of money, and, as everyone knows, their use of drinking is not focused on the purely social or the palette pleasing characteristics.

I also lived in England for a bit, and, besides tea, I got a chance to sample wines with dinner. I still didn't know a whole lot and would drink whatever was set on the table. I think I learned I don't like dry whites that well.

I have probably been drinking wine with the intention of having it enhance a meal for about 11 or 12 years now. During our honeymoon, we had a Spanish cider that was fantastic and Mr. Wild and I, both novices to the wine industry, were interested in finding our wine palettes.

When Mr. Wild and I were in grad school, I think we started to try to appreciate wine for its intended craftsmanship. Unfortunately, we still were looking for cheap. This was in the days before $2 buck Chuck, but there were alternatives, and we also didn't drink wine as often as we do now. Wine with Kraft mac and cheese just doesn't quite work either. (Though I think I have some friends who could pair mac and cheese with something)

When we moved to the Chicago area, we did make an attempt at broadening our palettes. At the very least, we have discovered that we both like German makes of wine. I find it a bit amusing because Mr. Wild has some German in his family tree. I think our favorite is a spaetlese or a spaetlese riesling.

We thought we were being big wig wine lovers when we had a wine tasting in our home. They were good wines and it really did expose us to a lot of different ones. We found we liked a German Dornfelder, the only red my husband has ever liked. But we cannot remember the winery who made it, and have not found another bottled Dornfelder that we liked. Another really good one was a Gewurztraminer. It was spicy and goes well with spicy Indian food we enjoy eating. The wines ordered from the wine tasting were a bit on the pricey side, and we never ordered again. This was the point where we both knew that he liked German wines, almost exclusively.

We had friends in the area that I would say have a much more sophisticated palette than us. They are slightly older, so I would say maybe more practiced. At their house I got to appreciate their reds--shiraz and merlot--and we tried more Australian wines as well. I've come to like the blends by Rosemount Estates. We liked the traminer reisling that was made by this company, the first time we tried it was in visiting England, but soon found it was also imported to the States. I liked some of the red blends.

We do actually like Australian wines as well, mostly because we can get them cheap. My most recent favorite is Alice White's Lexia. I seriously picked it out because of the Alice. But come to find the wine is made of the Muscat grape, which was also what made up the only sparkling wine we've really liked, Muscato D'Asti. As my husband says, the Coca Cola generation has had our palette ruined and we prefer sweet wines.

My palette might be a bit wider. I am willing to try reds, especially if my friends are drinking them. I suddenly found I liked cabernet sauvignons during my Jane Austen night. But, I won't buy any for myself, because I know Mr. Wild won't drink it with me.

I think what I've learned about wines is that I drink what I like and to keep trying new things. Red wine with dark chocolate can be tasty. So, I am still looking, but I could never do wine reviews. All the looking up of these links for today's post though has taught me more about the wines we do like, and I can kind of see why. Still, I prefer wines that are under $10 and I don't care to spend any more than that, even if there's something that is so incredibly fantastic.

Unless maybe for a special occasion.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where's my voice?

Been a long time since I've blogged, but I haven't been able to find something interesting to write about, so I am writing about not writing.

I have ideas at the back of my head. I'm kicking myself for missing two Mondays of Monday night memories. But I just can't get myself to sit and write. Things are busy at home and work.

I had a good week last week, but busy, busy, it seemed. My husband made some awesome potato leek soup.

I went shopping Tuesday night, I think.

Wednesday Mr. Wild had his D&D night, so I spent it with the kids, but after they were in bed, I got all crazy and made a PowerPoint on clothing during the Jane Austen era.

Thursday was Cub Scouts, parent-teacher conferences, and my Jane Austen night with the ladies. Surprised them with my pseudo-Early Republic outfit with a hair do and in the rain no-less. And dazzled with my formal presentation on gorgeous Early Republic/Empire/Regncy dresses.

Friday was Mr. Wild's birthday dinner (I got stuffed on enchiladas with mole sauce) and a very lackluster James Bond movie. It was sad not having the theme music cue up EVER in the movie. It was not my James Bond. Give me Pierce Brosnan back!

Saturday, I realized I hadn't had a breather to sit and talk with my kids. We talked about their parent teacher conferences and what was going well (and maybe not so well). A friend I made at my work, who left only a year after we both started, came over for dinner one last time before she moves to Chicago. It was fun to talk Facebook, her new beau, her new upcoming job, and the election. And excellent dinner fixings--chicken in the crock pot with Italian dressing, green bean casserole (you know the one, is there any other?), squash casserole, crusty bread and carrot cake for dessert. And Lexia, a white wine by Alice White.

Sunday, I made the kids the awesome pumpkin waffles found earlier on this blog. They are a hit and are going to be a featured hit with my soon to be nine year old's birthday sleep over. Oh, no, we're stepping into the land of sleepovers. Yikes. I also spent Sunday finding my voice elsewhere.

So, I guess I've been busy. That and more stupid television watching than I care to admit. I need another good book, but Mr. Wild didn't bring me back the last installment of the Twilight series. I've read spoilers, so I know what to expect, but we won't go back to who we really think Bella should be with. I do have Mansfield Park on my night stand, I need to get back to the classics.

Ah, but now off to do some work I put off way too long.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And now for something completely different

I enjoy Cake Wrecks (see our side list for that blog) and it led me to this new to me blog:

Fail Blog

I am laughing so much, I am almost crying. Hope it brightens your day too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Totally misread

I guess I wasn't clear in my last blog. I don't feel that Edward and Bella would truly last, because I don't feel that deeper connection that she seems to have with Jacob. To me, the connection is deeper when you can laugh at yourselves and each other, have a great time, relax, be yourself and, at the same time, be electrified by each other.

Bella, to me, is so much more relaxed and herself with Jacob. Besides, I still can't stand it how much control Edward has over her life. Couched in the fact that he's trying to protect her, but I've heard about relationships like that and they can be bad. Maybe I'm too modern, I don't feel I need a man to protect me and that's what I don't like about the story.

So, I still don't believe Edward is the right one, because, I believe the connection to Jacob is stronger. Yes, he's less "dangerous," and, maybe on the surface, the "safe" choice, but personally, I cannot see anything that tells me she is connected to Edward in a deeper way. Maybe the author just did a better job of describing the relationship between Bella and Jacob. I think a relationship born of friendship or developing into a strong friendship is stronger, deeper, and, if she had let Jacob actually into her life as a suitor, more passionate. But she's never going to know, is she?

That's just how I see it, so I find it to be tragic.

So, nyah. I'm still all for Team Jacob. Stinking bloodsuckers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Defending Passion

Oh girl come on, passion not lasting? And I can not let you describe motherhood that way, or being over thirty that way. I find it hard to believe you really think that. I get that you like Jacob better but the safe choice is not always the right choice, it can also be the boring choice. Lack of passion can result in lack of interest. And no offense to all you parents but my personal experience is that parents do not know what life partner will most make their child happy. They may like a safe option but safety does not always equal marital felicity. I know from your feelings on Jane Austen you are no Charlotte Lucas.

Now Bella does love Jacob but she is just in love with Edward more. Way more. There is some passion with Jacob too but Edward sings to her heart in a way no one else can. They ultimately complete each other. Both are lost without the other. She may say she doesn't like flashy things but if she didn't like them a little she would not have been attracted to Edward in the first place. Like all interesting characters she is a self contradiction. Also Bella and Edward have mutual taste in music and art and literature that will sustain them if they ever get tired of making out.

And lets face it passion is everything-from the thirty something mother of three. Passion built the Taj Mahal, wrote the most gripping and most disturbing stories, destroyed lives and saved others. Passion is what makes your heart stop with a glance. Passion is what carries you through premarital hell and post children exhaustion (oh and D&D obsessions). Passion is what fucks people up for sure, and yes many passionate beginnings burn out but many burn bright and smolder forever.

And don't even pretend you and Mr Wild were/are not passionate. I've heard your "when you first meet" story many times and it is told with passion. You were not just friends that became lovers, the spark was there at the beginning.

No I'm all for passion, definitely makes a good read. What I am not for is being told Edward is gorgeous constantly. Once per book really is enough for me.

Eclipse

Ok, I've jumped on the Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse bandwagon. It was tough going at first. I didn't think Stephenie Meyer's first couple of books and plot pacing was going to hold me. But, at the end of Twilight, she threw in some exciting sci-fi fantasy action (yeah, a girl can like that stuff, too) and started New Moon with the same kind of excitement and danger. (Clever Stephenie to put the first chapter of the next book at the end of Twilight, I might not have kept going.) But Stephenie's writing has definitely gotten better, and I think Eclipse is when she finally got a good mix of high level excitement and low level description. She threw in a little mystery, too. I can tell she really has matured at the plot pacing in this third book.

I just still can't believe Bella is in love with Edward. I couldn't feel it in the first book, and he left in the second one. I've decided I'm not a passionate romantic, and I don't think relationships can last on that passion. Edward's a gentleman, blah, blah and he's protective, blah, blah, but their relationship is too intense and I don't see them just having fun. (Ok, and I know the fans are going to say, but when are they going to have fun, they just keep getting tangled in all this danger?)

You know what I'm going to say, but I have to say it. Jacob is the better boy for her. Edward, yes, protective, but he orders her around. And she doesn't like it, but she gives him excuses for his behavior. Hmmmm...sounds like a controlling relationship to me. I don't ever feel that she's relaxed and comfortable with him. Her dad hates him, so that makes them tense, she could be attacked by Victoria anytime, so that makes them tense. She's exhausted when he's laying in bed with her and she's either trying very hard to stay awake, or falls exhausted to sleep. Even Edward's family embarrasses her with making a big deal out of everything and being flamboyant and dressy and she's not that kind of girl. I feel totally stressed when reading about her and Edward and their interaction. It just does not feel like something that any girl like Bella would stick around with if it kept being that intense.

Jacob and Bella hang out doing things. They work on the bikes, they walk to the beach, they ride the bikes. They laugh and go to a movie. They are playful, friendly, and sweet. And they don't need to do a ton of cuddling and kissing just yet. He pulls her together when Edward leaves her, and to me, that should count for a lot more. Because Jacob is there for her and will continue to be there for her. That's the impression I get. I kept hoping Jacob would imprint on her, but I knew he wouldn't.

And maybe that's just indicative of my own relationship. My husband was my friend, before I realized it could be passionate, too. He was a friend through all the different guys I dated before I figured out that he was the one. If I had been Bella and finally realized that I was in love with Jacob, I would have had to tell Edward I was sorry, but it wasn't going to work anymore.

So maybe the teenagers all like the passion and how Edward can supress his need to be with her, because he's "so in love," but me, being a thirty something wife and mother of two children, maybe I appreciate that "best friend" more because to me that connection is worth more than a thousand passions. The "best friend" under the passions is what keeps you giggling, feeling young and silly and playful and still passionate about each other.

I'm not sure how Breaking Dawn ends it, but I guess I will read and find out.

Poor Jacob.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday Night Memory

My senior year in high school, let's just say I had joined all the geeky groups--Thespians, marching band, swing choir. I had/have many friends from these organizations. And through these groups, I also had lots of different teachers, often fitting personnas for us geeky folks.

Our chorus/swing choir teacher, who, oddly, did not play the piano, was turning 40. As I am getting close to that age, I cannot believe how old I thought he was. Now that I think about it, I am sure he didn't think he was that old.

Anyway, us seniors, being in senioritis mood and all, thought we would thrill him with a birthday surprise. Most of us being part of band, we also got the band director in on it. We all conspired to get into the high school music classroom and the teacher's office and decorate it with black streamers, balloons and posters.

We were in the high school parking lot as night was falling. We were waiting for the band director to show up. I was hanging out in one of my friend's car. She showed us that her car liked to talk instead of beeping at you if you left the door open and we giggled our way through telling the car that the door was not "a jar" but a door. She flipped on the music and Red, Red Wine came on the radio. She stated that she really liked this song. I think it was the first time I had heard it. It was, I believe, the fall of 1988, which was the year of UB40's re-release of the song when it finally hit number one.

We whiled away more time dancing in our seats to the song, other people in the car singing all the words, me finally getting the chorus and singing it with them. It was a good dance song, and if you couldn't tell, I like to dance, considering I was in swing choir (dancing and singing at the same time) and also dance lessons.

The band director showed up and we proceeded, giggling, to fill the music director's office entirely full of black balloons and caking the room with many a black streamer. To overuse the 80s lingo, "It was awesome."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday night memory

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and my maternal grandmother, who passed away from breast cancer when I was 8 and she was 60 or almost 60.

My mother's mother always seemed to me to be a very quiet person. I don't remember her voice, I remember her presence. Grandpa always sat in his chair in his living room, well positioned to see the TV and the door where people would come in. I remember Grandma seemed to spend her time in the kitchen. The kitchen had a fun wallpaper on the walls with cooking utensils as part of the motif.

She had one of those enameled wood and metal tables that had leaves that pulled out to make it bigger and two chairs with bent chrome legs. She also had a stove from the late 40s or early 50s. I think the tile was a speckled tile and maybe the cabinets were pink, but I cannot remember that clearly now at all.

What I remember most is waking up in the morning and going downstairs to breakfast in that kitchen. For some reason, I always remember going to breakfast, but not necessarily what I ate. I think there was eggs and cereal and toast, and juice in small glasses.

I remember Grandma making breakfast or lunch for us, but not what we ate. But I just remember her quietness and letting us be the kids we were. We would do a lot of dress up in my mother's and aunts' old clothes upstairs, hide in the lilac bush outside because it conveniently had an open space in the middle, once you navigated the spindly branches that surrounded the space enclosed in green. I think the grown ups knew we were in there, but chose not to pay attention to the fact that we were. I remember the heady smell of what I think were large spirea plants that flanked the porch step.

I remember Grandma doing laundry and hanging up the clothes on the clothesline and running between the clothes as she hung them. It seemed she went about her daily business, but made sure we were fed and bathed when we needed to be. I don't ever remember a cross word from her, I think Grandpa handled that if we got into stuff we weren't supposed to.

I think Grandma was also quiet about her cancer, though the perception of an eight-year old is probably not the most reliable sort of information. I don't know that she let on to us grandkids much about it. And maybe that was the best way, so I could remember how she was quietly there, but taking care of us when we needed it.

Guest blog--Mr. Wild

While walking into our local hardware store today, I was stopped by a complete stranger and asked a question. Normally, in our small town of the rural Midwest, I find this manner of open conversation friendly and charming. After all, we live in a small town and we should expect to be civil to all that live here. The question was directed at my political bumper sticker on the back of my car, a sticker that supports the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. I was asked, “So, I see you are going to vote for Obama?” To which I assumed the individual was interested in my views on the matter, after all this is a small town where people talk to each other. My answer was a simple “Yes.” I was then offered little opportunity to engage this person in political dialogue as he said, “You will live to regret it,” and walked away with a smirk on his face, confident that his jibe would hit its mark. Seeing that this person was more interested in doing the talking than listening, I chose to ignore the rude and insidious nature of the individual. Upon my inspection of his vehicle for bumper stickers of any nature, I discovered that he chose not to display any. I wish that I was given an opportunity to stop and talk with this individual. I might have asked, "Why did you not put a bumper sticker on your car? Could it be that you are afraid to commit to something that you will live to regret?" I did not place a bumper sticker on my car in the past two presidential elections and now I wish I had. In retrospect, I did live to regret my choice of presidential candidates in the year 2000. I regretted my choice so much that I chose not to vote for the man in the year 2004. Can you imagine the conundrum that people would have if I had kept a bumper sticker from each of these elections on my car? Or maybe it would point out the obvious, that voting with the Republican party is not so much a grand thing anymore, it’s just old. With this said, I hope that all residents of voting age reflect on their choices ahead of them, never regret placing a bumper sticker on the back of their car, and, if you do place a bumper sticker on your car, carry a political pamphlet or two to place under the windshield wiper of the guy who told you "You will live to regret it".

--Mr. Wild

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I love my kids

Well, yes, no surprise. I really should, shouldn't I?

I just absolutely love what they come up with, too.

This morning, as I was getting ready for work, I come out of my bedroom to find them, what else? Sword-fighting. Of course, it was with wooden swords, and my dear daughter managed to have the short sword and the shield and my son had the longer sword.

They weren't pounding on each other. It was more strategic. My son was being nice and giving his sister a chance to glance the blows away from her. Just briefly, I stepped in to help her use the shield for more than decoration. I showed her how to hold up the shield to stop his sword, then lower it to take a swipe at him.

So then, I returned to the bathroom to dry my hair. When I came out her brother was shouting, "Wow, she's getting really good at this!" And apparently she was, blocking with the shield, thrusting when he stepped back. He was being a good sport about giving her a fighting chance.

Fortunately, before I left, nobody got major bruises or injuries, nor did it melt down into a whiny, crying, complaining session.

Which is why I think I love my kids. It is so wonderful to see them playing together at something they are both enjoying.

It reminds me of Princess Alice and Prince Max in this book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0794508987.
They played at being knights and seemed to get along as brother and sister.

It's so nice.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A life of diets

I grew up in a large family with many much older siblings. As a child, I remember that my family, none of which were overweight in any way, were always on various diets and health regimes. My Mum had stayed really skinny through all her other pregnancies until she had me. After that she apparently had never shed the baby pounds. So my mother and my sisters were always following some diet. This was the '80s and the '90s. Diets were the "in" thing.

There was the Banana and Milk diet, where for 3 days all you ate were 3 bananas and 5 glasses of whole fat milk (no skimmed in those days). This never resulted in weight change, but apparently shrunk your stomach so that you could start the next diet all ready to loose weight! There were bowls of homemade coleslaw and very grainy wheat bread. I remember one of my sisters making homemade healthy bread and needing to knead it so much that she was actually throwing it against the cupboards that lined our kitchen walls. There was not eating after 6pm. There was only eating half of anything, half a slice of bread and half an apple. There were calorie counts and point allowances.

Then the exercises that had to be done. There were sit-up competitions, and skipping/jump-rope competitions in our large kitchen. We walked a lot, though my Mum always walked a lot, in fact my whole family always walked a lot. Often daily walks of one hour or more. We walked beaches and woodland parks. We ate chicken and everyone only drank white wine. I was too young to drink, but I remember the white wine everyone else drank reluctantly. We went to saunas and did workouts in the sitting room.

It was in some ways fun. A family event which never really accomplished anything. Although I do have good memories of it all the obsession with weight and the obvious desire to be thinner, always thinner is not a great memory. Even now my Mum will ask, "So how's the weight?" She lives on a different continent and yet she feels she has to ask. The last time she asked I pointed out that it really was none of her business. To which she responded in a huffy voice "Oh, not good, then." And to some extent, she was right. I would like to loose a little weight and if I was exactly the weight I wanted to be I probably would not have been put out by the question. I probably would have answered in a glowing voice, "Just perfect!" In fact, I may have even told her before she had to ask. She has said she just can't bear to loose her beautifully thin daughter that she had at my wedding. But guess what? That was 6 years and 3 children ago. And I'm not exactly lost just because I'm one size bigger.

Through out my life I have had many anorexic and bulimic friends and acquaintances. It is part of our life in our society. I am sure no one reading this does not know of someone who has suffered or is suffering from an eating disorder. I have known too many people who have deprived themselves of food until they were skeletal thin, irrational and irritable. Still they look in the mirror and think, just one more pound and I will be perfect. Or who are scared to eat in case they put it all back on. As a result of these experiences, I can not bear to be really thin and I find it really hard to listen to anyone who is presently obsessing about their weight. Even though, right now, I need to loose some baby weight of my own.

This is so much something I don't want for my children. I don't want them to feel fat when they are 5 because they are surrounded with people who talk about weight all the time. I want them to eat healthy and exercise, but not because they feel guilty. That guilt only makes you want to rebel against it, exercise less and eat more. Society in general is so obsessed with weight and eating habits, that all I can do is try to not make it an issue at home and hope.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Night Memory

It's almost midnight. Though I'm a full time working outside-the-home mom, and have been for quite some time now, almost nine years, I do have some interests and talents that are sometimes attributed to full time stay-at-home moms.

The first Halloween costume I made for one of my children, was for my first child, my son. He was going to be ten months old at the time. Not old enough for trick or treat, but still, I felt the occasion warranted a costume. He had just recently learned the sound of a lion, a little "Rawr." What could be cuter than a lion? I choose this pattern. I stayed up late a couple nights in a row and my husband and I were hot gluing on the little ribbon mane at the 11th hour the night before he was going to wear it.



Perhaps you will agree it was well worth it. I took him into work so the women I worked with could see his costume. He proceeded to crawl across the floor, and had his tongue hanging out and would appropriately roar on cue. I went over to a couple of friends' houses for candy and pictures. There have since been lots of cute costumes, but I was very proud of this first one I did. Since then (except for one year when my daughter was a six month old and I was still not getting full nights of sleep), I like to make the costumes my kids have for Halloween. Sometimes my husband gets into the act and makes a whole costume (it's a bit of work with two kids and costumes to get it all done), sometimes we recycle old costumes I made in a year past.

Sometimes I make costumes for my husband and I and it's not even really for Halloween.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Autumnal bliss

Strikingly varigated red, orange, yellow-green trees glow in the morning sunlight on my drive to work each day. I'm not normally much for morning, but I love to look at autumn colors in the bright sunshine.

When the sun hits the upper part of the trees that are red-orange-gold in the early morning and the lower parts of the neighborhoods are still in grey in the early morning rising sun, nothing strikes me as more lovely or awe-inspiring.

On the drive home, if it is late enough, the clouds are a deeper blue. Tonight they were tinged with vivid pink along the edges--not the silver lining, but the vivid pink lining.

I wonder at how nature knew that these colors go together. They harmonize and inspire awe at the same time. Nothing beats the bright vivid red, next to fiery orange or warm golden yellow. The deeper maroons, purples and browns set a sedate backdrop for the brighter colors to look more splendid.

I should take more time to walk in the woods or under the trees and enjoy what I like about the colors of fall. And I should take my kids with me, to see if they have the same wonder that I still carry for this season. Although I know, technically, the growing season is ending and leaves are dying, this last hurrah gives me a zest for life.

I suppose I need this boost in my appreciation and happiness at the changing season just before being cooped up inside because of the cold, wet, blowing and blizzardy snow and winter.

What's Next?

Really there are odd things going on in our house. My kids are watching pretend TV. This is the game they are playing, lets pretend to watch a pretend TV. What is the world coming to? What does this mean about my parenting? Are they watching too much TV or are they deprived of this very 21st century entertainment? The game consists of them arguing over what show they are pretending to watch! I mean for crying out loud, pretend Thomas and Friends or pretend Dora! They sing the theme song (probably means they actually watch too much TV). Sit down and fight over who controls the imaginary remote! This is not a fight they ever see in our house, I'm glad to let my husband have it and we never are watching TV when the kids are up anyway! Then horror of horror the TV runs out of batteries, yes batteries and they are all sad until my son replaces them and it can all start again.

I have to say when the fight gets out of hand and children are crying and I am called on to trying to decide who's turn it is to pick an imaginary show I do wonder what next! What truly unimaginable task shall I be required to do as mother of three?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Best. Frozen. Lunch. Ever.

Confession about my diet. Probably not the best, nor the cheapest way for me to eat my lunch. I am so rushed in the morning that to slap together a sandwich with a side of carrots or apple, really seems like it just takes too long. I am good taking leftovers, they are just in a container, which I dump in my lunch bag and go.

In lieu of leftovers (considering I might have just had that leftover for supper the night before, I might not be too into it so soon), I find I like to get frozen dinners for lunch. I usually go with what is on sale and I try to buy the "healthier" choices, or the "dieting" choices, such as SmartOnes, Michaelina's Lean Gourmet, or just Michaelina's Budget Gourmet. I can't stand Swanson. I tried Kashi once. It was okay, but not spectacular. I suppose it was without preservatives and healthier. I'm betting the sodium is still high, but I don't have high blood pressure, so I figure I'm okay there.

I rarely get Lean Cuisine, because I figure $3-4 is expensive for a frozen lunch. However, if I forget lunch, then I spend $5-7 going out for lunch, not to mention the gas if I am going someplace. I suppose I should know better, and that the more expensive frozen dinners are still going to be less than my take out.

Recently, Lean Cuisine was about $1.50/meal ($1.50 is cheaper than the kids' school lunches at $2.35), so I bought a whole bunch and a huge variety. It's been ages that I've gotten it. I've had three different ones this week. Shrimp and Angel Hair Pasta, Lemongrass Chicken, Thai-style Chicken.

I have to say, this stuff is pretty darn good.

Usually frozen meat is tough and chewy and lacking meat flavor. Usually the vegetables taste nothing like vegetables and look funny. The only saving grace is usually the sauce on it. I've eaten many a Lean Gourmet or Budget Gourmet and thought, well, that was just okay. I suppose I'll go back to left overs.

Lean Cuisine chicken is very tender, better than I can do at home. The shrimp I had was not precooked. I could tell, because it wasn't red, it was gray and frozen at the top of the container. It cooked right up during the microwave process. Today, the Thai chicken actually had a red sauce that reminded me of being in a Thai restaurant. It wasn't incredibly hot, but it was delicious. Seriously.

Sodium is still a little high in these dinners. I rarely add salt to my own cooking (although I know canned tomatoes and beans I use often have way too much), so I figure a fair enough trade off. It claims it doesn't have artificial flavors or preservatives. I'm not sure, what is potassium chloride, calcium lactate, and lactic acid? And the chicken tenderloins have "chicken flavor" added with a long line of different and strange ingredients.

Despite that, it was tasty. I'm thinking they might have earned some brand loyalty from me. We'll see how this goes. Considering that it is cheaper than eating take out, and, potentially, could be cheaper than my kids' lunches, then I'm doing pretty good. At least it can be a nice break from the leftovers and just as easy to pack. Open bag, throw in frozen dinner and a fork and voila! Instant lunch!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday Night Memory

I remember walking into the State Historical Society on a field trip as an elementary school kid. It was housed in a large Beaux Arts type building, white and colonaded. Old and kind of musty. But fascinating for me.

This was the "old school" museum, where everything and anything was out for all people to see. A wall of typewriter varieties. The Indian room, back when they called them Indians, with cases full of the different tribal dress and tools. I think that room also had the glass-encased stuffed and mounted animals of every variety and continent you could think of. Big and small, mammals and birds. More than just the fauna of my home state. I seem to recall animals of other continents. Canoes hanging from the ceiling.

The big slice of log with the dates of the Constitution and the Mayflower landing and other historical dates on the poor log. It was in the basement at the entrance to the room full of vehicles. Not the best location, but we school kids knew exactly where it was and would hurry to see it again.

In the vehicles, the huge conestoga type wagon was awe inspiring. The many shiny old cars. Mostly from the 1910s and 1920s, but I wouldn't know that until now.

The airplane that hung over the rotunda opening that you could lean over the rail and look up or down to see other floors covered with nearly every item you could imagine of historical significance, or otherwise.

I just remember the place feeling BIG. And it inspired awe in me. And a hunger to keep reading and looking at the "stuff" for as long as I could. Needless to say, my group had to keep coming back for me, because I would linger in all the stuff.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Squash in the afternoon

I love squash, I just never seem to cook it quite right. So, if you have a lovely squash recipe, I would love to see it. My favorite squash recipe is below:

Squash Casserole

1.5 lb yellow squash
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 c. chopped onion
4 oz of croutons (plain)
2T butter

Cook cubed squash and onions in salted water til tender (about 12-15 minutes). Drain. Add soup, sour cream, mix well. Add croutons, reserving some for the top. Pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Dot with butter and sprinkle croutons on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Way to go, Joe

I am finally commenting on the VP debates:

Finally, someone to stand up for the fathers of this country. Joe Biden, whom I did not realize was a single father for a while after having lost a wife and daughter, sticks up for being counted as a PARENT in his family's life.


Sorry, Sarah, you do not get the kudos for being the "working mother" and "having it all." So many of us have been there and done that. I would rather you say something about how your husband helps out. BUT, you have never said one thing about how your husband helps raise the kids. He's just out there snowmobiling and having fun. Maybe that's why your daughter is pregnant, because he was nowhere around the kids while you were working. Not good. Both parents have to do the parenting.


I'm sorry, but more men need to stand up and say, "I am part of my children's life and I am proud of it. I don't want the long hours at the office, and heck, I might stay home with them because having a PARENT at home is important to us, my wife and I, PARTNERS in this experiment we call our family. You should not look down on me for this choice that we think is best for our family and for me."


I am so proud of Joe Biden, raising his sons well in the face of tragedy and still managing to find time to serve his country. More info go here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Moment In Time

My youngest daughter will turn 1 very soon, in a couple of weeks in fact my son will stop telling everyone he meets that his little sister is zero. He will no doubt announce proudly to the world that she is one!

This morning she totters a couple of steps towards me and then drops into a lob-sided crawl zooming across the remaining distance. I lift her up and she snuggles into my arms. She is still only an armful, cosied in safe and sound. I breath in her baby smell which she still has. She giggles and smiles as I kiss her soft forehead on our way up the stairs. I pop her into her bed and pull her warm blanket in close around her face. She is warm and happy as she drifts off into her sweet slumber. No worries for now.

I know as I walk out and close the door that she is almost one year old and soon will not have the baby smell and will not be able to cuddle up in an armful. Soon she will be asking questions and running off to play. Not as soon but still soon she will take a backpack and run into a classroom excited to be at school. Still further away but still not that far away she will drive her beat up car back to school after her drivers test or her minivan full of sleeping children back home after a visit for Sunday dinner. She will always be my baby, my last little one. But it is only for this heartbeat in time that she is truly a baby and I will miss it when it is gone.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Environmental question....

This is going to be a bit indelicate, topic-wise, but it has crossed my mind a few times. I am wondering if anyone will read this and have an opinion.

There's lots of talk and studies and discussion for new parents about whether to use cloth or disposable diapers and how they affect the environment. It seems most discussions point to the fact that cloth is better for the environment because they are reusable and not filling the landfills (not to mention Diaper Genies which individually wrap each diaper in plastic to "keep the smell out.").

So, I wonder, why isn't there more discussion on cloth or reusable feminine hygiene products? Mainstream media certainly has not picked up on this.

"Ewww, ick." I know. It's difficult for me to fathom. I think older women, the generation before me, may remember belts holding things in place. So, I wonder what's out there in washable products.

Lo and behold, there's a whole bunch of things. This site states that women will "throw away 10,000-15,000 disposable pads or tampons in her life." Interesting.

So I found this site with pretty pads. I wonder though, if you risk a mess with these things. There's other products, too, but I won't go into it here. Because even me, I have an indelicate limit. But you can see what they are out there. You can continue to search this topic on your own.

But, I am saying I am surprised that with the diaper debate, this one also does not come up in the same breath. It seems similar to me. And I wonder if the waste produced by women's disposables could add up to more than what came from a baby. So, ladies, why aren't we hearing anything about those products and their benefits for the environment? It has just always made me wonder.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Color, Color Everywhere

The idea that your favorite color can determined your personality is maybe not so strange. After all, your personality would affect what colors appeal to you. Well, now a company called CareerBuilder.com will actually analyze your preferences and tell you about your personality and therefore which jobs are best for you.

So I did the free trial. It is kind of like those Starsign questionnaires that I used to do as a teenager to determine who was my perfect match. A Leo born into the Monkey year or a Sagittarian Dragon? Possibly the color career choices are more likely to be useful. So here is a bit of what the program determined about me.

Apparently I am a Creator. (A nice positive introduction.) My key words are:

Nonconforming, Impulsive, Expressive, Romantic, Intuitive, Sensitive, and Emotional

Does this sound like me? I think anyone who reads this blog would nod affirmative. My secondary key words are:

Independent, Self-Motivated, Reserved, Introspective, Analytical, and Curious

Again pretty spot on. Well, maybe there is something in all this, but I wonder, Wild, did you get a similar response? How many descriptive words would I think support some aspect of my personality? Still it was entertaining.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Brrr.....

In an economy where we all need to watch our money, it makes for strange habits here in the WC household.


We were freezing, and no one was really admitting it to anyone else. I checked the thermostat and it was reading 65 degrees F. I knew it was cold, but it seemed wrong to start up the heater. If we could just squeeze out one more day not having to use it. It was pretty warm at the beginning of September and we used the air conditioning a little the first couple of weeks. I was hoping we'd be temperate for a few more weeks and just let the sun heat us and the air cool us.

Mr. Wild finally said to me, with his sweatshirt zipped up to his chin, "Are you cold? Because I think we should turn the heat on."

"Yes, I'm cold and I'm so glad you said that."


"Were you going to wait until I said I was cold before you turned the heat on? Do I really have that much influence over you?"


"Well, I didn't want you to think I was a wimp. I just figured I'd wait for your go ahead. I didn't want to start up the heat before you thought it was time. I know how conscientious you are about the heat costs. But it is 65 in here today."

I think Mr. Wild thought I was silly. I don't know what I thought, except I thought I should be able to stand this cold a little more. Like it should be 60 in here before I cave. I want to save on natural gas and on money.

The cold air made me finally go into the basement, drag up all the covered plastic bins and pull out the winter clothes and put away the summer ones. My daughter was a good sport about trying on footie jammies her brother used to wear and his old turtlenecks. I am hoping she will now have more long sleeved clothes to send her to school in.

Ok, I have to admit, fall is finally here.

Post Party Blues

The party is over, the ice cream stand is closing and it is raining. I am having a serious case of post-party blues and post-summer blues today. All week I've been in denial that summer is really, really over. Yes school had started and the weather was cooler but the seasonal ice cream stand was still open, the plants in the garden were still growing and we had a couples night out with some of our favourite couples to look forward to. It was a fun night, the food was great, the craic was good and the new babysiters were brilliant! But now the party is over. The ice cream stand is closing today and the weather is dull and melancholic. I need to harvest the herbs in the garden, get out the winter clothes and stock up in supplies. Who knows when we will have a good reason to go out again and probably by Tuesday I won't even mind. But today I'm sad with the blues:(