Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Annnnddd.... three more bites it is!

Aliceson over at Feet off the Table! got me started on this game. It's that game of chicken you play with your children when you're at the dinner table. She's lucky in that her children are adventurous. We are unlucky in that ours are not. And it changes daily.

Somewhere between 2 and 3 years of age this change started happening. And it didn't happen solely with one or the other kid, this change happened at nearly the same time in their lives. The good news is that they seem to eventually start to move out of it again. My lovely Wild Child #2 would gobble down peas at 1 1/2 and 2 years, while her 4 and 5 year old brother would literally gag, and, in fact, one time he actually threw it back up, he gagged on them so hard! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, our eldest threw up food because he didn't like it and didn't want to eat it. So, do you feel bad for the puking or angry at his stubbornness? I don't know, I don't have the answer.

Thankfully, this happened only once.

Then, after many years of enjoying the peas (well, okay it was like 2 1/2, but many at that point in her short life), WC#2 decides she doesn't like them. What? You used to like them. What's wrong with them now? At that point, both were maybe eating carrots (there was a whole cooked vs. uncooked, and neither liked the same state at the same time), corn, and pasta sauce (that counts as a veggie, right?).

So, we struggled for a year with very few vegetables. Suddenly, WC#2 decides that the tops of broccoli are alright. Hunh? Where did that come from? Mind you, she still only eats the tops, and none of the stems, but heck, something green is going into her body. Don't even go near them with anything leafy. That is not going anywhere.

They will eat apples, as long as they are peeled and not brown, they will eat bananas, brown point still holds true, strawberries are both a favorite and raspberries. Now, if they have an aversion to texture more than taste (I think this is WC#1's problem with peas), why do they eat berries full of seeds? I do not get that.

And WC#2 now eats peas again, like they're going out of style. WC#1 even ate peas last night without gagging or fighting. He eats our spicy Indian chicken. Decided it would try it one night, loved it, it was a hit. What?

Still, my children can be a pain. He will only eat melted cheese, a la pizza or mac and cheese, but not grilled cheese or solid cheese. She will eat both of those, and solid cheese, but not grilled cheese. Hunh? He will eat peanut butter, but no jelly, not a drop, ever nor never near that peanut butter sandwich. He won't eat sandwich meats, like ham, turkey or beef.

She won't eat peanut butter, don't even come near her with that, but jelly is like it's going out of style. She also eats ham, but no other sandwich meat. He doesn't touch pork, except maybe sausage, but she eats all things pork: bacon, sausage, ham in all forms, pork chops, but not ham balls. She eats mandarin oranges, he won't touch it.

Oh, and the applesauce we have been eating for 4 years, suddenly, one day they both said they didn't like it. I could have killed them both. Tonight, it was all fine with the same apple sauce. Grr...

They both eat hamburgers, chips, corn (on and off the cob, but not grandma's frozen version), mac and cheese, pizza, chicken nuggets, tacos (but only at home, she won't touch school taco meat), spaghetti (again only at home, she dreads the school's spaghetti). Young Mr. WC#1 eats many more meals at school than he used to, so I am holding out hope that my little WC#2 will mature and eat more stuff.

We conjole, we beg, we negotiate, we yell, we shame. It doesn't do a lick of good. We once tried the dessert bribe. But then I read somewhere that holding dessert as a reward for eating healthy (read icky) food, made the kids think the food for dinner was icky and not fun. It suggested picking a few nights a week for dessert and having dessert whether they ate their dinner or not. That actually seems to be going well. Dessert nights at our house are Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

Anyone care to join us?

Soooo, I am passing this picky food meme on to Heather at 2 Brits, 2 Yanks, and 2 dogs. Your turn, Heather. Let's Play 3 More Bites!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What is midwestern?

I've been struggling with this question. Do you live in a midwestern state? Do you consider it midwestern? What is the Midwest or Midwestern?

Let's see if we can figure this out together.

I've said before, I've grown up in Iowa. I would consider myself VERY midwestern. I believe Iowa is probably as midwestern as they come. But I guess that's my belief.

What makes Midwestern? Is it a lifestyle? Is it the food you eat? How about the location? How far east or west does the midwest reach? Is it a capital M or a lower case m?

Wikipedia has some interesting points: the region holds both the geographic and population centers of the contiguous United States, the states run as far east as Ohio and as far west as Nebraska and Kansas, since the book Middletown appeared in the 1920s, the region has been consider a barometer of what is "typical" for the nation.

The Ohio, the Mississippi, and the Missouri feature large in these states.

I think more than geography there is a feeling. I cannot imagine moving outside of the midwest. I feel I wouldn't understand the people or where they were coming from, because I would feel they wouldn't have the same common background. Not consciously, but it would be at the back of my head.

I hear in places like ski resorts in Colorado they only hire Midwesterners because they know they are reliable and hard workers. I think I could vouch for that. We have variations on the theme, but I'm betting most people I grew up with are hard workers.

There's the Midwestern food, some of the older stuff that we recognize, like Jello salads. Maybe that's not entirely midwestern. We have interesting ethnic variations that change from state to state, or even within the state. Lutefisk from the Minnesotan Norwegians, fish fry in Wisconsin (fish boil in Door County), Iowa sweet corn and the Butter Cow, Kansas City barbeque, Michigan Mackinac Island fudge (oh, yum!), Cincinnati chili, German kuchens and sauerbraten everywhere.

There's the immigrants that came here and made us who and what we are, Yankees from the northeastern United States, German, Irish, Dutch, Scandinavians in our northern reaches, a smattering of English, Polish, Czech and others.

We are polite, very friendly, maybe a little prudish, maybe not. A little self-deprecating, perhaps. We have a genuine concern for neighbors and friends. Who doesn't? But I think people would recognize a Midwesterner for those qualities. Religious faith may be stronger in our areas. We might be considered stubborn, stuck in our ways, maybe a bit backwards. Maybe a little less formal, not quite as concerned about class. Genuine and honest. We love our families. Family life and holidays are important. So is bringing outsiders into a family-like circle. So everyone has someone to turn to.

I cannot imagine living anywhere that is not in the Midwest. I enjoy visiting Arizona, looking forward to Hawaii, enjoy warm weather in other places. New York is exciting, D.C. is patriotic feeling, but I feel at home in the states that are near the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. I would miss the season's changes. Sure shoveling snow is hard (especially in late March, augh), but the smell of spring in the wet earth, or the crisp coolness of the breeze as you crunch through vivid blazing autumn colors. Looking forward to swimming in the pool, or making snowmen. We get all seasons, shapes and sizes.

The only place that might draw me from the Midwest would be England. But that is a story for another day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm sorry, Boomers, I've got to say it

This is something that I've been thinking about lately. Baby Boomers, that large generation of people, who overshadow those in Generation X that follow them, now, due to that financial crisis, are putting off leaving work. Which means the Gen Xers won't get their chance to move up. Until they're 60. So it seems.

And Mr. Drezner puts it very well on Marketplace on NPR tonight:

"For decades, Gen X-ers like myself have had to hear the standard declarations about the uniqueness of the baby boomers. Maybe they were not the Greatest Generation, but they were the ones who glorified the whole idea of generational identity. For decades, Gen X-ers have had to hear complaints about our political apathy, our popular culture, and our musical tastes.

We have suffered many of these critiques without complaint. Why? Because so many of us worked for so many of them. They were the bosses of the business world. And they were supposed to be retiring very soon, but the recession has changed all that."

Don't get me wrong, some of my very favorite people are Boomers and don't necessarily fit the "boomer" type of personality (hi, Mom). But still, I feel very stuck in the middle. Gen Y is bigger than the Xers, too, and sometimes I feel like we're going to just get passed by. What's crucial to us will be lost in the needs of Boomers and the needs of the Gen Yers, because they are larger groups and have more voices.

Maybe that's why we seem like we drop out and don't participate, why we have apathy. There aren't enough of us to make much of a difference, so why try so hard? Betcha we don't elect a president born in the 70s. I don't know, we'll see.

I wonder if maybe that's why I feel so family focused. If I'm going to make a difference, it will be through my children. I've heard that Gen Xers don't live to work, we work to live. Maybe we'll just float around and just make enough money to enjoy our family life together. So we may seem laid back, but we're not going to have heart attacks, nor miss out on our children's lives.*

*General disclaimer that I do not believe that all Baby Boomers are workaholics. This is only a generalization I am making, and I do know generalizations never do tell the whole story.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm not sure I get Twitter

I have a couple of friends who Twitter, but I don't know how, who or what.

I see and hear comments about Twittering on Good Morning America, but I have no clue how one would do that.

I see other blogs that have Twitter updates. How does this differ from Facebook updates? Is it useful on a blog?

So, I just don't get what the deal is. But I feel like maybe I should know. Someone get me a link to a basic explanation.

I figured out how to contribute to Wikipedia, wander around on Facebook, maintain a silly ol' blog, and know how to receive text on my cell (I don't text from my cell, cause I'm cheap like that). Somehow, perhaps I'm missing something with the Twitter.

Or perhaps it's another evil time sucking thing that really has no value whatsoever.

If someone has a clue, let me know.

And yes, I'll admit, 40 is not that far away and I am not hip.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

100 signs of spring

100 signs of spring for my 100th post

1. Robins appear
2. Sandhill cranes wing their way north
3. Can hear sandhill cranes at work
4. Tulips
5. Lilacs
6. Green grass
7. March winds
8. April showers
9. May flowers
10. Snow is gone
11. River floods
12. Kids playing outside (finally!)
13. Soccer
14. Warm weather
15. Short sleeve shirts
16. Wearing shorts
17. Mud
18. Muddy boots
19. Muddy clothes
20. Muddy kids
21. Dirt tracked through the whole house
22. Everybody and their dog walking
23. Skinned knees
24. Skinned elbows
25. Skinned noses (just happened today)
26. Spring jackets
27. Leather coat
28. Umbrellas
29. Rain coats
30. Sidewalk chalk
31. Bubbles
32. St. Patrick's Day
33. Easter not far behind.
34. Spring break
35. More salads and wraps
36. Strawberries are cheaper
37. Asparagus is in season.
38. Corned beef and cabbage
39. Downpours
40. Daffodils
41. Dirty windows
42. Green buds on the trees
43. Bike rides
44. Bike helmets
45. Sandbox toys
46. Folding chairs
47. Grilling hamburgers and brats
48. Hamburger buns
49. Hotdog buns (brat buns are too big even for brats)
50. Mustards of every flavor
51. Soccer balls
52. Basketballs
53. Bouncy balls
54. Rhythmic sound of bouncing balls on driveway
55. Wagon rides
56. Visits to the park
57. Fishing off the bridges
58. Using the river walk
59. Walking to the library
60. Dining outside
61. Outdoor bar opens
62. Enjoying the sunset from outside
63. Birds chirping outside early in the morning
64. Not freezing when you get in the shower
65. Not freezing when you get out of the shower
66. Daylight savings time (ick)
67. Taxes are due
68. Mowing the lawn
69. Planting grass seed
70. Landscaping needs care
71. Dividing hostas
72. Pick up pool pass
73. Joggers out in force
74. Middle school kids hanging around town in groups
75. Kids and Mr. Wild wear baseball caps
76. Put away winter wear
77. Reruns on TV
78. Garden centers sprout in local stores
79. Left over winter sleds fill up with water
80. Climbing up on back yard play equipment
81. Swinging
82. Sliding
83. Running with abandon
84. Neighbors stay outside to chat
85. Kids run all over neighborhood
86. Ants in our kitchen
87. Elder bugs in our bedroom
88. Asian beetles in our bathroom
89. Stink bugs in my work office
90. Stinky smell of beetles in vacuum after you suck them up
91. Bare feet on the floor
92. Woodworking in the garage
93. Dirty cars
94. Cleaning out the cars
95. Cleaning out the garage
96. Garage sales
97. Quiet in the house (kids are outside)
98. Walking to our favorite local ice cream joint
99. Our local ice cream joint opens and the lines go out to the street.

And the 100th sign of spring is.....

100. Mr. Wild shaves off his goatee!!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Synchronicity: Post 99

When life hands you lemons:

Make grape juice and then sit back and watch how the world wonders how you did it!

Thank you very much to Pseudonymous High School Teacher! It seems we were on the same wavelength when handing out awards.

More fun rules:

  1. Post the logo on your blog.
  2. Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great attitude or gratitude.
  3. Link to the nominees within your blog post.
  4. Notify the recipients of the award by commenting on their blog.
  5. Share the love and link back to the person from whom you received your award.

This took a little thinking, looking for gratitude or attitude. I think attitude can be devil-may-care, as well as thankful for all things, don't you think?

Here's my list of 10. They are folks I enjoy dropping in on now and again. We run the gamut of attitude and gratitude I think.

1. You have to be a Comedy Goddess to Endure
2. Lost and Found in India (pray for her, her husband's, and their driver's recovery)
3. Irish Gumbo
4. Margaret and Helen
5. True Blue Texan
6. I need a Martini Mom
7. Feet Off the Table
8. Strange Pilgram
9. i didn't get the message
10. Dude where am I? (a new find through this link)

Thank you to everyone who shares a little of themselves everyday.

Also, this is post 99 and I'm thinking about how 100 is going to come down. I could do the usual 100 list, but do you really want to see that? Perhaps something more creative. We will see.

If you are on the above list, feel free to take the copy of the award and spread the attitude or gratitude around.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Your Frugal Friend--Tip Seven

Money saving tip#7: Family and friend entertainment for nothing or almost.

We all talk about family time. We should make the most of it in these economic times. Here's our list of things we do as a family that cost nothing (or almost nothing).

Play cards.
Play board games, ie. family game night.
Kick around a soccer ball.
Take a bike ride, especially one to your local ice cream joint where you can get a cone for $1.
Play static electric fight.
Call a friend over to play.
Call a friend over for tea.
Make dinner for your friends.
Make dinner together.
Draw a picture together.
Read books together.
Go play on the playground.
Go play in the snow.
Invite relatives to visit (they will foot the mileage, you will feed them).
Talk about the school day.
Have a potluck (you were going to make something for dinner anyway).
Go shopping for groceries together (you have to buy them, might as well go together).
Take a walk around the block.
Take a walk down to the river (we have one).
Take a walk in the woods.
Run in the sprinkler (I am already dreaming of warmer days).
Wash the car together (get it clean and save money).
Have a craft day together.
Play with all the many toys your kids have accumulated.
Watch a TV movie together.
If you own video games or computers, might as well use them.

What are your family activities?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

First blog award!

Well, big thank you to Aliceson over at Feet off the Table! She's had her share of great awards. It is very nice, though, to get one from her. We've been enjoying the banter back and forth and enjoying the winter weather comparison, as we aren't physically that far from each other (not neighbors, but still, not far in the grand scheme of things).

She's put me in the Kreativ Kategory:

There is more to this than just passing it on. There's a bit of a challenge. Good, blogger fuel for the fire. I like it. And I like this award, it's really pretty.

I am to list seven things I love, then seven blogs I love. Lots of love to go around.

1. My husband
2. My first born
3. My second born
4. Chinese food
5. Cooking
6. Chai tea from Starbuck's
7. My friends

1. Margaret and Helen
2. Strange Pilgram
3. I Didn't Get the Message
4. 2 Brits, 2 Yanks, and 2 Dogs
5. Sweet Juniper
6. Pseudonymous High School Teacher
7. Feet Off the Table! (best for last)

If you have this award, no need to repeat. If you've just been tagged by me, join us in our little party. Thanks to everyone and Aliceson.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Easter in France and static electricity

My children are interested in lots of things. Yesterday, WC#2 asked about Easter in France. I don't know why France. I suggested we look it up on Google and see what we could find.

We found that in France, there's no bunny that brings the eggs, but flying bells. Cloche volant. How fascinating! And there's an April fish (poisson d'Avril), which apparently goes along with April Fool's Day, but is continued to be enjoyed through the rest of the Easter season. Check out this web page for more information.

In addition, our new latest fun game is static electricity fights. We wear static charging clothing and run around our carpet trying to shock each other. Last night we turned off the lights to see the charges bouncing betwee us. The kids have taken to making "carpet angels" which builds the charge even faster in footed pajamas.

Here's some results of our study on the internet and experiments with static.

Super static hair

After the shock

Quietly contemplating

Easter research

Friday, March 6, 2009

Your Frugal Friend-Tip Six

Money saving tip #6-Do not be afraid to call your cable/phone/internet company to try to get a lower monthly bill and rate.

We cannot take credit for this. We heard it on one of the news shows. I think ABC. So, about a week later, I asked Mr. Wild to give it a shot. He called our satellite provider. He started by talking about the competition. Then, it turned out the competition didn't have as good of a deal. He went back to our provider and asked for their customer retention representatives. Turns out they really have these people. They gave us our DVR service for free, took $5 more off our bill, and, as long as we stayed with them for 24 months, would give us the first, 10th and 20th month free. The catch is that we have to stay with them for 24 months. So, if we wanted to cancel the bill altogether, we'd end up paying a fine. We're not in dire straights, and I don't think that will be necessary over the next 24 months. It was nice to shave a bit off our bill.

The catch is, that you probably should be willing to walk if your company is not willing to deal. Be sure to find some competition that compares apples to apples, so that if you do need to walk, you have an alternative. What was that mom always taught you? No idle threats? Works on kids, would work on companies, too.

I guess the other catch is that you or your spouse can be insistent with your service providers. I know some people are timid when it comes to this kind of thing. Mr. Wild is not, and I'm lucky that way.

So, we're enjoying free satellite this month. I thought Mr. Wild did pretty good. Now, if he would please tackle the phone bill.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nothing says Midwest like a ham ball

Ham ball is a food. Like meatballs, but made of ham, well, much of it is ham.

I found that the ham balls are not ubiquitous to the midwest, but perhaps to Iowa, but maybe not to Iowa, because I have a friend who grew up in Iowa, but does not remember ever having them. I always assumed they were midwestern or Iowan. They aren't particularly German. They are often found in those older church cookbooks and among older church people. I'm not sure where they came from, maybe just western Iowa. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it. If you've ever had these, let me know and let me know where you grew up, or your grandma grew up, or whatever. I am very curious about their origin.

Mr. Wild LOVES them. He would eat them every day, I think. Problem is, we have to buy ham and serve that up first. Then, we are meat grinder challenged and have to grind the leftover ham in a blender. Amazingly, it does work, challengin,g but it does. Nobody sells ground ham around here. It also requires hamburger and ground pork. I would rather make scalloped ham and potatoes in the Crockpot.

Then there's the great sauce debate. His mother uses canned tomato soup, vinegar and other stuff, my grandmother has ketchup plus vinegar, sugar and some other stuff. The key here is tomatoes, sugar and vinegar. Mostly we do the 50s version his mom's version. Here's the recipe in case you're wondering. We cut it in half, because it makes way too many ham balls otherwise. And, no, this is not a frugal recipe.

2 1/2 lbs ground ham
2 lb lean ground pork
1 lb ground beef

mix with 3 eggs (use 2 if you cut the recipe in half)
2 c. milk
3 cups crushed graham crackers (I think I only use one cup in the halved recipe)

mix like you're making meatloaf (which you can then do and call it ham loaf if you so desire). Then shape them into balls about the size of clementines. They should be bigger than meatballs, but not as big as baseballs.

Put in a casserole dish and then cover with:
3/4 c. white vinegar
1 can tomato soup
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. dry mustard

You will need all of this for the halved recipe, actually.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Goes well with carrots, sweet potatoes, or corn. Succotash even, if you like that sort of thing. I do, but Mr. Wild doesn't like lima beans. I miss eating lima beans.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


So, yes, I do track my guests to my site, who doesn't these days? I have dreams of getting ads, but I think I need more visitors. In the meantime, it's fun to see where people pop in from.

Most I have found are referred from the pages of my bloggy friends. Thanks so much to everyone who carries a link to me: Feet Off the Table, Irish Gumbo, True Blue Texan, I didn't get the message, Jon Swift, and anyone else I may have missed (give me a shout out, in case I did miss you).

Some, th0ugh are the wanderings in of people searching for something on Google, that all encompassing search engine. Here are some that trolled my webpage up:

"made egg salad"

"can I get a 4 and a half year old into kindergarten"

"when is Edward naked in Eclipse" [ROFL]

"naked" [I knew that was a good title]

"what goes with a egg salad sandwich" [grammar, people, please]

"no squeak" [hunh?]

"what goes into egg salad" [I guess that egg salad post was rather fruitful]

"cinnamon gum why hard to find" [see, I'm not the only one]

"educational value of four year old kindergarten"

"no sleep with colds" [colds, what a pain]

"Harry Potter party 9 year old" [hope my post helped them]

"opinions on parenting" [i have a few]

"anyone regardless of background can become president" [that's just way cool]