Tuesday, February 27, 2007

If my kids are learning anything about good cooking, it is from their father, not from me. The Ex, my babies’ daddy, cooks dinner for my kids at my house often once a week. He usually prints fairly elaborate recipes off the internet and brings most all of his ingredients. He brings in fine cuts of meat and simmers, saut├ęs, and spices. If I’m lucky he leaves the rest of the wine he used.

I have decided that I am perfectly fine with losing the good cook battle to him. I acquiesce unreservedly. Maybe one of my kids will grow up and cook delicious meals for me every now and then.

Bad cook was on his list of exit reasons anyway. It’s a title I am planning to keep. I usually announce it early in any relationship. I’d rather exceed expectations than disappoint.

When I cook for the kids, it is usually something like Rice A Roni with peas and pre-cooked chicken. I select delicious frozen foods to heat up. The kids always eat a big helping, often having the leftovers for breakfast or an after school snack. I'm even teaching my son to cook Hamburger Helper for us. What a good boy he is.

Perhaps in a different phase of my life I will find more elaborate cooking worth my while. I do have some good recipes, but with the multiple requests for homework assistance, laundry, clutter, taxi schedule, and three part time jobs, I don’t find the time & effort has a big enough reward. We’re not all home for dinner at the table often anyway, although I do try to have family dinner at the table as often as possible.

What are some of your quick & easy dinners? I prefer recipes that are so simple you don’t have to write them down.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I love being busy with new and exciting writing projects. I'll let you know about them as they are confirmed.

But is the following true for you?
As your career, or other section of your life heats up, your house falls apart.

My laundry and dishes are stacked. Clutter is breeding rapidly on all my horizontal surfaces. Phone calls aren't being returned promptly.

I still haven't begun my taxes.

I'm underexcersized and over caffeinated (still just on tea though.)

But I have trouble falling asleep because I'm planning my next project, which is great.

I think a clean house means you are bored. I also clean to procrastinate. Now I try to do one quick chore to break up my time at the computer, but obviously I'm not breaking often enough.

But I don't want to take a break. Usually the allure of a vacation, even a mini-getaway is tough to resist. I'll just take my breaks on blogger.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I have a Girl Scout Cookie hangover.

On Friday I helped in the CSCookie Warehouse. Our town has a sweet tooth that has apparently been underserved. I assisted in taking delivery for at least a dozen troops in my hometown.

Probably 100 adults gathered to unload four tractor trailers, big ones, full of Thin Mints, Trefoils, Samoas, Do-si-dos, and a whole new younger cast of delicious cookies. We made the assembly line to unload and stacked and restacked those cases. We got a complete workout: shoulders, biceps, forearms, and torso – especially the back, even quads & glutes with all the boxes stacked on the floor. I am reminded of the workout with almost every move I make today.

I know there were people who worked harder or longer than I did, and some of them spent the next day, today, day at Girls Scout Thinking Day, so I don’t mean to be a whiner. I imagine some of you have a bigger GSHangover than I.

Does anyone want to guess which cookie was the heaviest by the case? If you know the cookies, I bet you can guess. (answer in comments)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

My youngest came to me yesterday and said, "Mom, I'd like the 'birds and the bees' talk."

I sat her down on my lap, thinking fast. She's only in third grade. What has prompted this quest for knowledge? How much does she know? How much more does she need right now?

"Well Honey, if you aren't careful, birds will crap on your head. And even though bees make delicious honey, they might sting you."

Big eye roll. She wasn't buying it.

My mother was always scientifically accurate with me. See how much that has helped? So I decided a minimal description was in order.

"Do you have to do that?" she needed to know.
"No, of course not. You never have to do it."
"Good," she concluded getting of my lap. "I think I will adopt."

Monday, February 19, 2007

I hope you indulged this Mardi Gras.
I never grew up with a tradition of Lent. So it is kind of a novelty for my kids & me. I know that the sacrifice is supposed to inspire devotion, but for us, it is kind of a personal challenge.
I don't think I pressured my kids to give anything up. I only indicated that Mardi Gras indulgences were only valid if they preceded a sacrifice. So they've all chosen something to go without until Easter. I think they are inspired by the ritual of it.
It's kind of nice to have a ritual.

I'm giving up coffee. It is a noticeable void, even if I still have tea. My daughter was alarmed when I told her my choice. She was afraid I would be extra grouchy and it wasn't fair that the kids should suffer because of my decision. I'm not giving up caffeine, just coffee. It's enough of a disruption to my routine to make me stop and think.

How about you?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Last night was the last hurrah for the Snow Party. My future make-up artist daughter doozied up my hair for the event. Pretty creative huh?

I collected a few products during the storm from the refugees that I don't usually use. One was scented kitchen trash bags. They really stink. Have you ever used these? It seems like a good idea, but trash smells better.

Oh, and I did trade in my van. I'm loving my seaside blue Prius. Save the polar bears!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I am a woman with power.
But most of this town doesn't have it due to the ice storm. So we are having a classic snow slumber party complete with three grandparents, an aunt & uncle, nephew, & a couple more friends. Thank goodness I have an compressor for the air matresses. We are having a strange dinner menu of what was in various 'fridges.
We have been sipping hot chocolate, chai tea, and hot cider while peeling wet snow gear on and off. By the fire tonight I will be switching from tea to something stronger.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

All forms of worship are acceptable to the Snow Goddess. Although tonight’s freezing rain and sleet are making for hazardous driving conditions, my children are doing various rituals to summon more snow. Their worship is fervent. It could get bad out there.

My 6th grade son was demonstrating his Snow Dance to his sister and me. He explained how his totally cool science teacher, Mr. M, demonstrated the dance’s ancient techniques. The teacher then asked the class if any students wanted to demonstrate the Dance for the class. My son and one other brave young woman took the front of the room. The teacher was so impressed with their demonstration that he awarded each dancer a Moon Pie. My son said the Moon Pie was Delicious Marshmallow Heaven.

Do you think the Snow Goddess will reward his sincerity?

Sledding on a sheet of ice can be so much fun.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I saw that Al Gore movie this weekend: "An Inconvenient Truth."

I was surprised that, given Gore's reputation as being stiff & boring, the film was so... well, boring in its cinematography. There were a lot of scenes with Al on the phone, Al on the the computer, Al in a car, Al on a plane, Al going through airport security.

Despite the lack of flare in the presentation of his environmental data, I was alarmed by the facts presented. Maybe that was the point, that reality is alarming even without the melodrama. The polar ice caps are melting faster than scientists predicted. You know about all the storms already. We are on the steep rise of exponential growth.

Honestly I felt a little despairing. Can anything I do actually make a difference?

Previously I had considered buying a hybrid car, but decided to just drive the van I have 'til the doors fall off. I talked to the kids about the smaller space of a hybrid and asked them if they thought we could live a bit smaller to live a bit greener. They jumped right on board with the idea.

I already recycle. I certainly don't intend to further contribute to population growth. But those things don't seem to make a difference. It's like trying to hold back the tide with a sandcastle wall. Our country is an embarrassment when it comes to conspicuous, arrogant consumption. And I'm driving a van that gets less than 20mpg.

Is doing something like using different light bulbs too little? Is it too late for hybrids to help?

Friday, February 09, 2007

I have a few first impressions of people when they find out I’m the school’s reporter.

For the type of reporting I’m doing, everyone is happy to see me. No "ohmygod it's the press." It's only, "Are you the reporter?" They are watching for me. Since I only publish good news about the schools in the town for which I write, everyone is delighted to share. Everyone wants their name spelled correctly when I mention their words.

I have found few who shy from the offer of an interview. Adults see how my good publicity could help their program or their school’s good name. They can be a wealth of information. Here’s my card. They make my job easy. I feel more like I’m gathering the story rather than writing it.

Younger interview candidates are so eager that they all talk excitedly at the same time. I feel like I’m disappointing them for not getting a quote from everyone in the room. But they are all so eager and smart and friendly that they have been easy subjects to work with. They have so many bright ideas and are still so joyful.

So far, the teenagers are most likely to be reluctant to share. It seems as if they feel less likely to make a mistake if they give very short answers. I make them nervous at first. I have to get them to relax. Telling them I’m brand new at this helps. I let them see my nervousness. I try not to ask yes/no questions; however, I have found that it just takes a few more questions to get something more specific than “nice” out of them. They do have some valuable information we need to know. In fact, I bet they could give me as many story ideas as the adults who have contacted me. They just don’t hand out business cards yet. And I am still learning how to ask them the right questions.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I've been eating leftover chili and Fritos all week.

I think my cats are trying to kill me by lurking in the dark on the top of the staircase.

There have been a dozen exciting aspects of my new columnist gig. It has been a fun challenge. I keep thinking of more possiblities that are exciting too.

Did you see "When Harry Met Sally"? Do you remember their debate about the possiblity of friendship between men & women? Are you more in agreement with Harry or Sally?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Holy cow is it cold!
I do the numbers analysis in the morning, comparing the numbers on the clock, thermometer, and scale. Today the thermometer said 6. I let the numbers on the clock change. I didn't read the numbers on the scale: too many superbowl leftovers anyway.

After a brief tutorial on football pools, we had one at my superbowl party. The winners were perfect. The 13 year old girl genius down the street who I don't think watched a minute of the game won for the first & second quarters with her name in only one square. The rabbi, who insisted he never won anything, won for the third quarter. And my daughter's 7 year old friend won the last quarter. It sure did make the game more fun.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I occasionally check my kids' drop-down menues to see where they're going on the internet. My son has been spending some time at addictinggames.com I found out why. That website is loaded with games you want to try just one more time to see if you do better. One has you placing the states on a blank US map. I've played it 3 times, improving my score with each round. It got me to thinking...

How much money would be an incentive to my child to play that game? I could bet him - and the girls too - that they couldn't reach a certain score. I was thinking of making it an incremental bet too. Like, I betcha 5 bucks you can't get to 50%. And I betcha $10 you can't get to 75%. I betcha $20 you can't get 100%.

Too much?
Play and see.
I'm always looking for sneaky ways to get my kids to learn stuff, just like the stealth vegetables I try to mix into dinner.

Beware, they've got Hawaii in the Caribbean. I didn't realize how poor my Midwest geography is. I had those blocks all stacked wrong my first time through.
addicting games 50 states

Thursday, February 01, 2007

How do you like your chili? I've decided to make two varieties: one beef with a bit of sausage and one chicken. For things like chili & soup I am reluctant to follow follow an exact recipe. I prefer to "season to taste." Recipes can feel so confining. But I am open to some tips and tricks if you got 'em. Do you think it would be better to make them a day ahead so the seasonings ferment - or whatever they do overnight in the 'fridge?

And what chili accessories do you like: I'm planning to have chopped onions, jalepenos, cheese, and Fritos in two sizes.

There'll be no kissin' after my chili.