My online journal.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Forever in blue jeans

We borrowed "How Are You Peeling?" from ECFE -- a kids' book with pics of vegetables and fruits making all kinds of silly faces to show different feelings. We were talking about the faces on one page, where there was a green pepper scowling at an apple. Lucy scowled back at the page and said: "That's no way to treat an apple!"

Later on Lu was sitting on the pot and I was sitting on the tub facing her (because this is the only way she will go). She was staring into my eyes, and in my pupils she saw a reflection of... herself.

"Why do I see Lucy in your eyes?" she asked. I thought it was cool that she noticed that, and I explained about the reflection. She thought about it for a moment and then, still staring straight into me, asked "Do you see Meg?"

Well, that totally blew me away. I DID see myself in her eyes. Literally, I mean. It's amazing when kids develop the "theory of mind," I think that's what it's called, when they realize that other people have their own thoughts that might be different from their own. The human brain is absolutely incredible.

Ed was adorable today too. I had to awaken him from his nap at 5:00 and when I did that, he rolled over, yawned and said "Mommy, I'm TIRED." Later on he was refusing to go to bed and he was flipping all over, so I went to give him a FINAL goodnight kiss and he twisted over to see me, smiled and said "I'm upside down!"

Oh, and yesterday he was refusing to nap, and I could hear him bopping around in his room. I went in and found him sitting entirely under the little Ikea kids' table. Just staring at me with those giant brown eyes, waiting to see if he was in trouble. I went in a little later because I still heard banging, and he was sitting inside one of his wicker toy baskets, hammering the wall. Strange child.

See? He doesn't sound funny on paper. Er... screen. I assure you, he is. :)

Ed's cloth diapers are going great. I hesitate to type this next thing, because I know it doesn't make any sense, but: I somehow feel more invested in his diapering. I care more about what happens to his little body. I actually kind of look forward to changing his diapers -- the clothies are cute, and cute on him, and it matters more to me whether he is wet or dirty. I'm really, really happy with the used Thirsties All-In-Ones I got. And even the prefolds are folding a LOT better, and snugger.

Neil Diamond is performing on American Idol. I really love Neil Diamond. I also love that his backup singers are AT LEAST as old as he is. I appreciate his giving those old bags a job.

We had another speaker come in to ECFE today, to talk about nutrition. And now I'm trying to wrap my mind around eliminating breakfast cereal. I know, I KNOW! When will the madness cease? But the truth is, breakfast cereal is processed, and most of it doesn't have enough protein to sustain the kids until a 10AM snack. And all of it has sugar. So I'm going to have to work on getting eggs or more yogurt or some sausages into the munchkins. I'm also thinking about switching to raw milk... at least for the kids.

A lot of what the speaker talked about, I already knew -- high fructose corn syrup is bad... shop around the perimeter of a grocery store for the most "real foods"... saturated fats like butter are way better for you than the super-processed "lite" fat-substitutes they sell. So it was good to get some confirmation that I'm headed in the right direction. She also really advocated having a garden so the kids can A) really see where food comes from, and 2) help with harvesting and food prep.

Oh, and I tried to do the Right Thing and wash my kids with Kirk's Castille Soap because supposably it doesn't have any of those nasty chemicals in it... and Lucy totally had a reaction to it. I forget how sensitive her skin is. We used it on her face (not my choice, actually -- but Lucy insisted) and she got these red patches and complained that her face hurt. Well, I said, Lu, I tried to use the gentler baby soap (which DOES have yucky chemicals but doesn't sting the eyes) on your face but you demanded the Castille soap, so maybe next time you'll let me use the soap that I know is gentler on your face, Lu, what do you think?

"Mommy you were right!" she wailed.

I took the cheat-sheet available at and underlined the "bad chemicals" in the ingredient lists on all our shampoos, soaps etc. I underlined them because, I'll be honest -- I'm too cheap to throw out full bottles of product. I also underlined them so that I could start to familiarize myself with the complicated non-English names. Because "DMDM Hydantoin" and "PEG-30" used to mean nothing to me, but if I remember to glance at them every time I use them, I can start to remember which ones "should be avoided" versus "will give you cancer tomorrow."

Jean and I had our first vball game last night -- mind you, I'm not actually on the team. I'm a sub but I'm really hoping I'll get to play a lot. I ruuuuv sand volleyball. Except, let me tell you, the sand was real chilly last night. I seriously thought I was getting toe-frostbite by the middle of the second game. It was fun to play with Aaron and Nellie again -- and of course Jean and Cortney. And we had a new guy, Phil, who was Iamnotkiddingyou seven feet tall. His head brushed the top of the net, which I can only BARELY reach when I jump as high as I possibly can with my monster-ups. It was totally different, playing with someone who could essentially cover the entire court if he so wished. He was a really nice guy and we won 2 out of 3.

Oh man I'd better get to bed. Talk later...

Monday, April 28, 2008

I believe that God has given me a new heart -- but I think maybe my body is rejecting the transplant.

I seriously didn't mean to go a whole week between postings. Oops.

Jean and I ran the Get in Gear 10k (6.2 miles) on Saturday morning, and YES it was 35 degrees and YES the wind was blowing 25 MPH and YES it was hailing in our faces for at least 1/3 of the run.

And no, I had not run for two weeks prior. But yes, we did manage to run the whole way! I really hate running but apparently I have to do a race once a year to remind myself. Yuck.

Ed's getting two of his 2-year molars, which I'm using as an excuse for his kinda cranky attitude and runny nose. I bought a bunch of used diapers on Friday night (Thirsties All-In-Ones, plus some extra wraps) which I am hoping will take the diaper-laundry down to every-other-day, or maybe even every-third-day. We had a really discouraging diapering day on Friday, but I think I need to just change my thinking... by changing Ed more frequently. Which is totally do-able, I just have to remember to DO it.

Last night I made a "Fresh Pork Ham Roast" which was a cut of meat with which I hadn't been familiar. Joel's sister Julie gave it to us, because she often gives us random food products, claiming she won't use them. Which is AWESOME for us! It was basically a very thick, large (2+ lb?) steak from the leg of the pig. It's not a ham because it came uncooked and uncured. I basically threw it in the oven for a couple hours with a bit of sage, salt and pepper -- then I made mashed potatoes and gravy and some green beans, and it was delicious! Plus there's tons leftover.

Tonight is lasagna (I haven't made it in YEARS but I'm just having a hankering). There will be sloppy joes at some point this week as well.

It may be 30 degrees out, but this week all our softball and volleyball begins!! Joel and Jean and I are all beside ourselves with excitement. Which reminds me, I haven't the foggiest notion where my cleats and glove are. Hmmm.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The family tinkle

Yesterday I was reading to both my kids out in the yard. The sun was bright and naptime was looming, so I picked up Ed and carried him into the house to lay him down in his room. And I can't remember what I asked Lucy to do, but I think it was just to follow me into the house. And she seemed to be taking her sweet time, and for some reason that was a problem so I spoke very sternly at her when she finally came in.

"But mommy..."

(I'm paraphrasing myself:) "I ASKED you to come in and you NEED to LISTEN to me when I talk to you!" Or somesuch. I believe I went on longer and with some vehemence. Lucy later referred to it as "screaming."

"But mommy... I went back to get your books."

And I looked and she had, indeed, gone back out to retrieve my two books that I'd left out on the swing. She thought of me, and thought I wouldn't want my books laying out in the yard. And I just crumpled... I felt so terrible.

So this morning, Joel got up and left early and the kids were still sleeping, and when I heard them start bopping around, I came down.

"I sat on the potty all by myself mommy!" Lucy said.

"Oh, that's GREAT Lu. Thank you," I said (because going by herself is not exactly one of her strong suits).

"You didn't hear me flush."

"No, I didn't."

"Yah, I didn't flush because I didn't want you to wake up!" Her pride was palpable.

"Thanks, Lu, that is really thoughtful of you! That was very nice. I think I'm going to go use the bathroom now."

"Do you want me to flush?"

"Oh, no, that's OK," I waved her off, "I'll just go and then flush when I'm done."

"Does Eddie want to go tinkle too?"

"No, I don't think he wants to."

"If he did it would be a FAMILY TINKLE!"

So Lucy has been extra adorable and thoughtful this week. Which is making up for her WANTING to help in the kitchen, but not really wanting to do any actual work except stick her fingers in the peanut-butter-cookie batter and then lick them.

I also gave her a sip of my tea the other day and she said "I LIKE it! Tea IS for children!" So when I was making tea today I made her her very own cup, which she hemmed and hawed at and then totally refused to drink. Grrrr.

And Ed has taken to sleeping anywhere except his own bed. I think he figures that if he's not in bed he can't actually be sleeping -- but then he crashes in Lucy's bed (as on Friday), or under his bookshelf (Monday), or under his rocking chair (later Monday), or right in the middle of the floor (tonight). Crazy panda.

Oh! The cloth diaper update! That's what I was forgetting. Well, we are nearing the 48-hour mark. He has gone #2 once each day and honestly, the biggest difficulty so far was trying to change him this afternoon at the Watsons' when he was caked in mud head-to-toe. It was the "outer" mud that was the trouble, not the "inner"... if you know what I'm sayin'.

Truly so far so good. Again still working on the technique. But other than that, it's not ANY more difficult than disposables. I did an extra wash-load of diapers-only this morning, so that was one extra thing I did, but really, turning a dial and scooping a teeny scoop of detergent is minimal extra labor. He soaks through his prefold pretty good in a couple hours but I haven't noticed any leaking. Both naps (yesterday and today) were just fine with one prefold, and last night was a breeze in the bumGenius. Tonight we're trying a prefold overnight and I'm a little nervous about him being soaked in the morning. I just don't have a fold that fits him just right, yet. We'll see.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Her is

Saw "The Pajama Game" at BCT on Saturday, with Jean (my constant theatre companion -- we decided it freaks out my theatre friends to see two of me sitting in the front row during a performance). It was EXCELLENT! Super-professional, not that I expected any less, and all the individual performances were nuanced, interesting, and funny. Not to mention I knew a batch of the cast (Ed Williams who was involved in every show I did at BCT, Heather Paulson from when I was in Joseph now-almost-5 years ago, Tom Danford who was Coach Bolton in HSM, and Ryan Halliday who was a beedle-dee-dee with me in Cabaret).

So I've had the song "Her Is" stuck in my head ever since. I don't actually know any of the words but it was a really cute number. Once I was able to CHOKE back my jealousy, that is.

Her is... the kinda girl who's trying to be more crunchy, isn't her?
Her is.
Her is... crazy to be trying out cloth diapers, isn't her?
Her is!

Ed is on cloth diaper #3 of the day (and of his life, if you don't count the towel we had to use one evening at Jean's house when we totally ran out and it was Easter so the stores were all closed) -- and so far, not terrible! Other than the fact that my technique sucks (so it takes me, like, 10 minutes to get the new one pinned in place), so far it hasn't really been much different from a 'sposies day. ('Sposies is short for "disposables" -- cloth diapering is so cool that it has lingo.)

I don't know a single other person cloth-diapering who might read this, but just FYI I'm going the cheapo route -- I bought a dozen unbleached Chinese Diaper-Service Quality Premium-size prefolds, two Prorap snap covers, and one BumGenius 3.0 set. I'd planned on using the BumGenius for overnights but the more I read, the more it sounds like the prefolds will actually be great overnight. I'm excited and there are to date TWO FEWER disposable diapers in the world's landfills.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Better Nate than lever

We're going out this morning to buy some cloth diapers for Ed. I know, seriously? The kid's most likely going to be going on the pot by the end of the summer -- not the best timing to invest in cloth diapers. But we had a guest speaker at ECFE last Wednesday and it really made me start thinking about toxins and toxic waste, and someone told me that disposable diapers are the #2 item in landfills right now, so we're heading over to Peapods in a bit, to see what we can come up with.

The speaker works for Healthy Legacy (, a coalition of organizations and individuals working toward a toxic-free Minnesota. At their website, you can find recipes for cleaning products that you can make at home that are better for the environment (meaning, also better for your body) and probably more affordable, too.

One of the main things the gal mentioned is the toxic plastics that are used in the production of all kinds of kids' toys and dishes. Any plastics with a "3," "6," or "7" symbol ought to be tossed immediately -- they contain bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen hormone that leaches into the food it touches.

OK I'm getting way ahead of myself and I don't want to give any wrong info -- you can do some internet searches yourself on this sort of thing. I'm just not qualified or informed enough to be giving this info out. I'm just a bit fired-up about it at the moment.

The gal did say that these same chemicals are found in the plastic lining of formula cans. There's also some nasty stuff in most soaps and lotions -- that you would never know about because in the ingredient list, they are under "fragrance." Eeesh! Apparently you can go to Skin Deep ( and find lists of safe or safer products for you and your kids. They also break out the unpronounceable ingredients you find in skin-care products and let you know which ones we should be concerned about.

Some of the other moms in my group are much more well-versed on this kind of thing; they provided some of the following links:

For alternatives to traditional bug spray, insecticide, and other pest-control products

Don't buy shrimp from China... that kind of advice. If you buy seafood.

Several people I respect have recommended this site -- though they all say to take it with a teeny grain of salt. Today's headlines are "Cell phones more dangerous than smoking" and "One sausage a day will give you bowel cancer." But apparently there is a ton of useful info here too.

I made this for book club last night and I always forget how UNBELIEVABLY GOOD it is. Joel refuses to eat it, so I make it for company.

Light Thai Chicken and Sesame Noodles

(Note: This recipe was printed in some newspaper in 2002. The original was a "question" written into a column: "How can I lighten this recipe?" and the columnist magically lightened it with her vast, glorious cooking expertise by, and I am not exaggerating, switching the dressing to fat-free and switching the peanut-butter to reduced-fat and switching the soy sauce to low-sodium, and I'm all "THIS woman has her own COOKING column? Because a HAMSTER could figure out to substitute fat-free and reduced-fat products for the regular stuff." Regardless, the recipe is fabulous.)

1 lb. chicken breast, cut up into bite-size pieces (you could also use 1# shrimp)

Marinate for one hour in 1/3 c. fat-free Italian dressing 

In a small bowl, whisk together:
2 Tb. peanut butter
1 Tb. soy sauce
1 Tb. honey
1 tsp. ginger (grated fresh is best)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1.5 tsp. sesame oil (NO substitutes!)
2/3 c. fat-free Italian dressing

When the chicken is almost done marinating, cook 1/2 lb. angel hair pasta per package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1.5 tsp. canola oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 medium-size shredded carrot (about 1 cup shredded) to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken/salad dressing mixture to the pan and cook about 3-5 more minutes, then add 1 bunch chopped green onion (green and white parts) to the pan and cook until the chicken is cooked through (2ish more minutes).

Toss the cooked pasta with the hot peanut-butter-chicken mixture and garnish with a generous amount of snipped fresh cilantro (maybe 1 Tb. per person?).

I also made hummus for book club and I totally winged (wang?) it and it was so feasty I think I'll make more tonight.

Mego's Random Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained
1/2 lemon's worth of juice
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (I go even a little heavier on the garlic)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt (you can always add more, and you may wish to)
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 Tb. sesame oil
1 Tb. olive oil
2 Tb. parmesan or romano cheese
Maybe some black pepper? I can't remember if I added that.

Anyway, throw it all in a blender and go to town. GOLLY it was tasty.

Oh, and one more little item:

I went to go check on the kiddos after they went to bed, because I hadn't heard a peep out of them and I thought, with all the excitement of book club, they wouldn't fall asleep. Ever. But this is how I found them. Nose-to-toes, like sardines. Zonked out.

I swear, they DO have their own beds!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Would you rather be a mule... or a starving French child?

Have I told you guys about Flight of the Conchords yet? You need to go to YouTube and watch some of their stuff. Particularly "Jenny" and "Business Time."

Lucy and Ed have been running around the house singing in their little falsettos (falsetti?): "It's business TIME!" Hilarious.

This afternoon while the boyz were napside, Lucy was watching this dreadful VHS tape of some 1930's-era "Little Lulu" cartoons. One of the songs was "Swingin' On A Star," which I remember as a lighthearted chantey from my youth. However, in today's make-kids-feel-good-about-themselves culture, the lyrics are quite disturbing. You just don't hear lyrics like these from Barney or Laurie Berkner:
Would you rather be a mule? ...
He's just plain stupid with a stubborn streak
And by the way, if you hate to go to school
You may grow up to be a mule
A pig is an animal with dirt on his face
His shoes are a terrible disgrace
He ain't got no manners when he eats his food
He's fat and lazy and extremely rude
Well! Take THAT, Mr. Sun, Mr. Golden Sun and The More We Get Together, The Happier We'll Be. Time for some good, old-fashioned name-calling.

Lucy tired of the video (it's in black-and-white) and asked if we could listen to some music. Sure! I said, and she chose Les Miserables. She asked the name of the girl on the front and I told her "Cosette, or maybe Eponine, I never did know for sure" and she asked why her hair was so many colors and I explained about the French flag and she asked what happened to her dress and I told her it was kind of torn because she was very poor and couldn't get a new one.

So we turned the music on and she asked about the men singing.
"What are they singing about?"

"Being in jail."

"Why are they in jail?"

"All sorts of reasons."

"Are they bad?"

"Oh no! Not all of them! This one guy singing now, his name is Jean Valjean. He is in jail because his sister's child was starving..."

"Why was he starving?"

"Because they were too poor to buy food. So Jean Valjean broke a window to get into a house and steal some bread for his family."

"Well he should have gone to the door."

"YES! You're right. Maybe if he had gone to the door and asked, they just would have given him some bread. MAYBE if someone came to our door and was starving, we could give them some of our food because we have so much. We are very lucky to have plenty of food all the time."

"Why did he steal the bread?"

"Because his family was so hungry and he had to feed them but they didn't have any money to buy food. See, he's not really a bad man. This is a very difficult, gray moral area that is the crux of the whole show."

"NOW why is he singing?"

"Well, after he got out of jail Jean Valjean went to stay with a priest. And he stole the priest's silver because Valjean didn't have any money. But then he realized that, even though he spent so many years in jail, he didn't HAVE to keep stealing and leading a life of crime; he could make a better choice and become an honest person. And he spends the rest of the show being a VERY good person."

"What are THESE people singing about?"

"Uh, about being poor, actually."

"Who's that lady?"

"That's Fantine. She's singing because she's very sick and she misses her little girl, who may or may not be this miserable little girl with the French flag in her hair. In fact, a little later, Fantine dies and Jean Valjean is such a good person now that he takes care of her little daughter."

"Is the lady going to die?"

"Yes, she's so sick she's going to die in just a couple minutes here. Right at the end of this song."


"No, not yet, in another minute or so."


"No, a few more lines."

"Is she dead right now?"

"Well, this is a show, so she dies every single night. In the show. It's fiction; it's a show. She is not a real person."

"Did she die yet?"

"Listen, when she sings '... and tell Cosette I love her and I'll see her when I waaaaake' then she dies RIGHT after that."

"Is she singing that yet?"

"Soon. Listen."

"Is she dead now?"

"Ummmmm.... NOW. Right now. Listen."

"Can we turn it off now?"

"Oh yes. What's this you have next: West Side Story? Ohhh boy."

I made a raspberry vinaigrette dressing today and it was not a huge success. Not terrible but just not what I was going for.

I blended some frozen raspberries in the blender along with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of honey. It didn't come out clear like I kind of thought it would -- it looked real milky. It tasted OK but I bet it would need a LOT more honey to come out like the bottled stuff does. I also think maybe blending it was a mistake -- adding more air in than was necessary and breaking up the oil too much. I saw a recipe that just used raspberry jam instead of actual raspberries. I dunno... I was trying to avoid the corn syrup.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My kingdom for a title

Hey, I know I owe you several days of meals. Coming attractions:

- teriyaki salmon (don't get too excited, I bought it that way)
- bizarro mexican slop
- greyish chicken and rice (I know, could it get any worse?)
- jessica seinfeld's egg puffs (these are super fun and yummy!)

I just ate 80 fat grams' worth of FunkyChunky popcorn -- it's caramel corn drizzled with nuts, chocolate, white chocolate, caramel, butter, and sugar. It was totally worth it.

Did I ever give you my mom's recipe for Seriously Tasty and Also Exceptionally Healthy Oatmeal? Here goes:
Toss into a cereal bowl:
1/2 cup quick (not instant, not old-fashioned) oats
3 whole dates, chopped
small handful of golden raisins
small handful of chopped walnuts
3/4 cup boiling water

Stir and allow to sit a minute or two. Add milk if you want. Stir again and devour. I swear this tastes JUST as good as regular ol' oatmeal-with-brown-sugar ... but there's no sugar added at all!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Joy my joy

Convos with Lucy:

Lu (pointing to a vent near the floor in the dining room): "Is there AIR coming from that SQUARE!??!"

Me: "Yes."

Lu: "It's making me CHILLY."

And, later:

Lu: "Mommy did you take a nap?"

Me: "Well, I couldn't really sleep but I did get to rest my eyes for a bit. It was, like, half of a nap."

Lu: "Why did you take a half nap? You should stay awake and joy my joy!"

Ed is super funny, too, but I can't seem to capture his essence here. So much of his humor is in his tone or his facial expressions. You're not getting video anytime soon, though, so you'll just have to trust me that he is also hilarious. I did catch him holding a toddler-sized basketball and chanting "Head-a, head-a game!" So there's something.

Ed asked for a song about a "hungry bear" for his bedtime song tonight, because apparently "Christmas Comes To Town" (from The Polar Express, Ed's current obsession) is passe, and "Mister Aladdin Sir" is totally last week's news.

The best I could come up with was "Running Bear (Loved Little White Dove)" -- an old (I assume) 1950s tune that my dad used to sing to us as kids. When my dad would sing the song to us, the lyrics always struck me as truly tragic. I remember being really moved, as a child, that the two young lovers chose to die together rather than live apart with their feuding families. In my mind it was kind of on a parallel with "Puff, the Magic Dragon" and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" and "Teen Angel" on the list of all-time tear-jerkers. On the other hand, the original recording makes the song much more of a dance tune. Just another example of cognitive dissonance associated with early memories.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


So, I kinda feel stymied at every turn.

I tried to call Lucy's dentist to make her an appointment... and they were closed. At 4:00. On a Thursday.

I'm trying to put videos on my computer and it looks like I can't find the right port on my camcorder to plug into the USB port on my computer.

Also I don't have the manual -- long story.

I go to to see if I can find a manual online, but just then this rain/snow/hailstorm hits, so of course my internet access goes on the fritz.

I call Sony to see if they can send me a manual, and I get the Parts department and they tell me I need Customer Service. Which turns out to be THE SAME NUMBER I just dialed. But I dial it again and get another human, at least, and they tell me I need to wait until my internets come back to look up the manual online.

But, they also inform me, I need to buy a cradle/dock/base thing for my camcorder in order to hook it up to my computer. Or, they say, maybe it was supposed to come with it when I bought it. Maybe. They ask me to call Parts again, which I do.

I get another human at Parts, thank goodness, and they tell me that my camcorder doesn't work with any sort of cradle/dock/base, that Customer Service person was an idiot, but what I do need is a cord that will plug into my computer and also into my camcorder.

Well, I have one of those, I said, except I can't figure out how to plug it into the camcorder. I can, I assure them, get the other end into the USB port of my computer.

Ohh, they say, well, you probably have the wrong cord (for the same reason I do not have a manual, which is: when I bought the "floor model" at Target, they gave me the packet-of-papers-and-accessories that was labeled as going with my camcorder but which, in actuality, belong to a different model of camcorder). You can order the right cord from us, they say, for $14.

But (I protest), since that other Sony employee I talked to was an Idiot, and I'm quoting you, here, Parts person, how can I even be sure this $14 cord you're going to sell me is even going to work? No offense, Parts person, but I am the opposite of reassured by this series of phone calls. Thanks for your help.

So I've been looking online and I *think* this alleged new cord will work, as long as my computer has a FireWire port. Hooray, right? Should be easy to figure out whether or not my computer has a FireWire port... right? Right?? RIGHT???

*cue crickets chirping*

I think I'm going to go back to Target and see, at least, if they can find my correct "packet-o-junk".

The more I'm looking at it, it looks like a FireWire cable with two 4-pin sides MIGHT actually work (if I owned it, that is, which I do not). There seem to be identical 4-pin-lookin' ports on both my computer and on the camcorder.

Uh, but if any of you are hanging on to any knowledge of this sort of thing... feel free to pass it along my way. I am really helpless here.

I know there are people with real problems.

It's a truly miserable November day here today. Oh, what's that, you say it's April? Well it feels like November. 39 degrees and dropping, rainsy and windsy. Yecch.

Jean and I ran about 27 minutes around my neighborhood last night, and it totally didn't kill me! Well I thought the first 1/2 mile uphill was going to, but then it didn't and of course I was glad we went. Ugh, I just mapped it and it says it was only 2.54 miles, which is NOT as close to 3 as it would be if we were on a base-60 math system like time is. Well, no wonder I felt so good at the end.

I'm having no luck whatsoever getting this house into any kind of organized condition. I looooved it in here when we had the house on the market and there wasn't a trace of clutter anywhere. Now I feel like we need some serious clutter chemotherapy -- I want to burn the clutter out of here. Since I can't seem to pull together a scrap of motivation during naptime, I'm just going to have to pull an all-nighter one of these days. I might be tired the day following, but I bet I'd get a TON done.

OK, a couple other business items:
1. I really want to acquire a piano. It has to be small, though, because our living room is ridiculous in its Lilliputianism. And it has to have reasonably decent sound, or Jean won't play it (and she'll be the primary player for the next few years until the kids start lessons).

2. I really want to lose our love seat. It is too giant to move anywhere else in the house, and it's really too big for our living room. If I had my druthers, we'd replace both the couch AND love seat. They were purchased probably about 6 years ago from Wickes. They are some La-z-boy brand, I think, and they are exceedingly comfortable. The problem? The love seat spent a couple months in the garage last year, and it sort of had a mouse family living in it for a while. The mice were quickly evicted, but not before they chewed a teeny spot on the front of the love seat. So I feel like we can't actually sell it for more than a few bucks.

I dunno, what should I do? I've threatened to take a crowbar and pry the giant arms off both the couch and love seat, to reclaim the 48 cubic feet of space the arms alone occupy. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Beans and stuff

I held on to my patience *almost* until naptime today, which is better than usual for an ECFE day, and now it IS naptime and the bickering has ceased and the sun is shining. Hooray!

This story is tearing me apart today. Thank the Lord for the healthy children in your life.

Nikki, I made a special trip into the recycling volcano to retrieve the can. And here are the beans:

That would be "Kuner's of Colorado" brand -- often available in the Ethnic Food aisle at Rainbow and probably Cub as well?

And that's Lucy in the background, checking to see whether Baby Will finished his PBJ at lunch today.

And a couple extra pics for you:

A brief afternoon visit last Friday from the Witt-Vanorny twins. Ed really wanted to "carry" Dash.

The sad panda himself in his new bed. Too much "Polar 'Spress," methinks.

Bathtime hijinks. "I sit a potty!"

I'm silly too! Take a picture of ME! Notice ME! Love ME!

Joel snowblowing ON APRIL 1. I'm posting this now because it's supposed to snow enough to accumulate again tomorrow. Horrible, evil, no-good, very-bad weather!! Well at least I'm pretty sure Prince never sang "Sometimes It Even Snows In May." Egads!

And now for my so-good-it-brings-me-to-tears lunchtime favorite:

Curry Chicken Salad
This is one of those sub-and-try-anything recipes -- because I have different stuff on hand at all times. You could easily sub regular onion for the green, and/or celery for the green pepper. I think I may have added shredded coconut once, too. This recipe is truly suspiciously similar to the Bombay Dip I make for special occasions -- but I love this particular combo of flavors. Joel and the kids won't touch it, of course, so it's MINE ALL MINE.

- 1 cup or so cooked (and cut-up or shredded) chicken
- 1/2 bunch small-diced green onions (both green and white parts -- I thought adding that line was redundant but then I started hearing of people using ONLY one part or the other and I of course find that terribly wasteful and silly but what the heck, it takes all kinds)
- 1/2 green pepper, diced
- 1/2 jar mango chutney (I tend to use Major Grey's which is NOT a brand, as you might think, but apparently a "style" of mango chutney. Whatevs. Mango chutney keeps forever in the fridger so you can keep the other half of the jar to make it again when the craving hits.)
- 1/4 c. craisins (or golden raisins, or halved grapes are really yummy)
- 1/4 c. slivered almonds (or chopped walnuts or pecans)
- 1 or 2 tsp. curry powder
- mayonnaise and/or sour cream to make it all stick together

Stir it all up in a bowl and then glob on a piece of toasted bread. Or eat it with a spoon and lick the bowl. Mmmmmm.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Now if only I could wrap my brain around the definition of "credulous"...

Well, I'll be honest: I'm in no mood whatsoever to post. I'm feeling a *little* less boogery, but Ed's coughing in his sleep in the next room and it is the SADDEST little cough ever. Poor little dude. Joel went to go try to find the humidifier to keep Ed's pathetic little lungs moistened.

Today was my last Tuesday-after-school-theatre class. The kids did an 8-minute medley of totally random Broadway tunes. The kids did VERY well. They all sang and danced the whole time and each one had a line to say. Poor Clara was the only one who totally flubbed her line ... by saying someone else's. I'm sure nobody noticed but me. We had a little reception afterward and the parents and grandparents who came were exceedingly gracious and sweet. It is HILARIOUS to meet little kids' parents and discover *exactly* where they get their smiles, their laughs, their myopia, and/or their eclectic sense of style.

Before the performance I held an abbreviated class with the kids and asked them to say something they liked and something they didn't like about the class. Now, I take this with a huge grain of salt, because they are kids (and sensitive theatrey kids at that) but not one could bring themselves to say anything they didn't like about class! That made me feel happy but also like maybe I was some creepy Stepford teacher who'd inadvertently threatened to pull out their toenails if they dared criticize my methods, or something.

Anyway, the class (and performance!) were lovely, and I am also glad it's over. Onward.

Misheard around my house this evening:

Joel (reading Ed's horoscope): "... make the most of an opportunity. Tonight: A plate."

Me (staring at Joel as though he were the author of this bizarre and cryptic chinaware prediction): "A PLATE?!?!?"

Joel (clarifying): "UP LATE."

Me: Ohhhhh.

Lucy (watching American Idol with me): "Mommy what's his name?"
Me: "David Archuleta."
Lucy (incredulous): "David ENCHILADA!?!?"

I made my mom's spaghetti sauce "recipe" (I use that term lightly) the other night and it was wonderful, as usual.

Mom's Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Brown 1 lb. Italian sausage in a pan, along with:

Diced onions
Diced green pepper (if available)

Drain or blot grease, or whatever.

Add one 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes, or I used a can of whole tomatoes and had Lucy hand-crush them for me. Funnest thing ever, as long as you have reddish countertops.

Add one 14-oz can diced tomatoes (I just used more wholes).

One small can tomato paste.

Garlic, oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, bay leaf -- all to taste. (Mom hates rosemary; I hate parsley; and I think bay leaves are a scam but I still use them.)

I also added a teaspoon of sugar (ostensibly to cut the tomatoes' acid).

Add some water if the sauce looks like it's too thick for your personal tastes (Joel and I like super-thick sauce). I actually also tossed in maybe a cup of bell-pepper puree that I had in the freezer.

I serve with whole-wheat noodles because I think the Ronzoni ones are REALLY good, and I'm on a crazy whole-grain kick.

I also made garlic-cheese bread (butter, minced garlic, and colby-jack plus parmesan, all on sourdough) in the broiler, and I managed not to burn it. Yesss!

Tonight was leftobers (according to Lucy). I had the leftober Archuletas. Mmmm!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Jumping into Monday

We'll see how this goes: my time today will be limited.

We had a lovely weekend: on Saturday the weather was perfect and beautiful and Jean ran almost 16 miles and I rollerbladed next to her. We were SO exhausted when we were done, but it was that really good exhausted, where you feel like you've really earned the Potbelly sandwiches and malts we got afterward.

When I got home, Joel grilled up some cheeseburgers for us while the kids played in the yard and I sat in my new doorway with my feet dangling into the backyard. It felt great.

And what felt even greater was the downpour we had on Sunday, when we didn't feel bad at all for spending much of the day slouching around and watching TV and baking banana bread.

Except I've got this NASTY cold, like I haven't had in years. It's rotten, and I continue to be astounded by the sheer quantity of snot one human nose can produce. Icko.

Despite that, my first dance class last night went swimmingly! I had 12 or 13 "students" including Joel, Julie, and Jamie, about eight Ashland kids, and one of their moms. I am hoping for MORE MOMS (and/or dads!) to show, and I am hoping my nervousness will abate with each class.

The class will continue this Sunday night, April 13, 7-8:30 PM, at the MCC. I can't wait!

I made my mom's enchiladas last night, to raves from the crowd. It's a great recipe because, through it, you learn to make your own cream-of-chicken "soup" which is, I promise you, your back-pocket token to whatever you want. It's also great because it tastes really, really good and has tons of variations.

Mom Ryan's Enchiladas

Cook up a few chicken breasts and then shred or cut into bite-size pieces.

Cook up some onions, and/or green peppers, and/or leave them raw. (This time I just used raw, chopped green onions.)

Spray or otherwise grease up a rectangular casserole dish.

Lay a bunch of tortillas flat on a work surface. I might use about 7 or 8 tortillas, but it depends on the size of you pan and the size of your tortillas. I have JUST started finding whole-wheat tortillas at Rainbow and I highly recommend them.

In each tortilla, in a line down the middle, place:

- About 1/4 c. cooked chicken
- Some of the onion/green pepper mixture
- Some shredded monterey jack, colby, or cheddar cheese (swiss would also probably be delicious)
- Some canned black beans (these are not part of Mom's original recipe but I really like the ones that are packaged with jalapeño peppers and a bit of lime. Yumm!!)
(I have also added, on various occasions: shredded carrots or zucchini, diced tomatoes, some prepared salsa, chopped avocados -- whatever!)

Roll up each tortilla and lay 'em all snug up against each other in a nice row in the greased casserole dish.

In a sauce pan, melt 1/4 c. butter. (What I did this time was cook the onions and green pepper in this butter for about 10 mintes, and then carry on from here:) Sprinkle with 1/4 c. flour. Whisk and stir over low heat for a few minutes. Slowly add 2 c. chicken broth (I just did 2 c. water with 2 tsp chicken bouillon) and cook over medium heat until thick. (At this point in the recipe Mom says you can also add in some chopped green peppers and/or jalapeño peppers.)

Take the pan off the heat and stir in:

- 1 c. sour cream or plain yogurt (at this point, if you haven't added any of the vegetables, you have officially created your own cream-of-chicken soup, thereby liberating yourself from Campbell's forever! Viva la revolución!)
- 1 can diced green chilies

Pour this soupy stuff over the rolled tortillas in the pan. Bake at 375 about 20 minutes, then throw some more shredded cheese on the top and bake 5 minutes more. So yummy!

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Wild Bunch

To see the rest of the photo session, click on the link in the post below. And let me know what you think!

New pictures! And asparagus!

Cream of Asparagus Soup

In a big stockpot, cook:

3 Tb. butter
3 Tb. olive oil
A little over 1# fresh asparagus (snap off the tough ends, and chop coarsely)
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 tsp salt (the coarser the better)

Cook over medium heat, about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and onions are very translucent.

Sprinkle 6 Tb. flour into pot, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring, 5-8 minutes more.

Stirring constantly, add:
2 c. chicken broth
2 c. milk

Cook 8-10 minutes more. Keep stirring. Remove from heat; allow to cool a little.

In batches, puree in a blender. OR use an immersion blender. OR keep it chunky, if that's how you like it.

Reheat, adding in a couple sprinkles of:
cayenne pepper
black pepper

Just before serving, stir in
1/4-1/2 c. sour cream OR half-and-half

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese on top. And maybe some crusty bread for dunking.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

That rascal Puff

So I'm reading some inane parenting article and the mom writing it quotes one single blasted line from "Puff, the Magic Dragon" and I can't stop the tears.

A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys...

Argh! Gets me every dang time. *SOB!*

I should have it tattooed on my wrist, though, for the dual purpose of 1. making me remember to cling tightly to every day with my kids, and 2. maybe desensitizing that song for me so I don't burst into tears at a mere nine-word string.

*wiping eyes*

Blasted Peter Yarrow.

I sorta aftergott to mention that Ed went in for his 2-year checkup today. He weighs exactly 30 # (75th %) but is, like, 37" tall (which the doc said is "just off the charts"). The doc I'm sure is a very nice lady, but she is a dreadful pediatrician. I feel really terrible for her. She is really, really bad with children. Shockingly so. Easygoing Ed's screams and writhings, which persisted through the entire (blessedly brief) could have been totally avoided with a teensy bit of meet-n-greet and gentle explanation from the doctor.

I made Extra Treaty Parfaits for snack today: plain yogurt (because I read the label of the Yoplait cups I'd been feeding my children and was appalled at the amount of sugar in a 6-oz. cup. Seriously. I think we as moms (and just as people! Who eat!) need to pay WAY more attention to added sweetener in foods. I'm sure my mom is rolling her eyes because she's known this for 30 years, but honestly it is really terrible. I almost couldn't find but one or two kinds of cereal that don't have sugar as the first or second ingredient. And anything that qualifies as "snack food" -- like those NutriGrain bars with the jelly in the middle, that you think might be healthy because they're "made with real fruit" and because they say "Nutri" and, for petey's sakes, "GRAIN" in the title? -- gobs and gobs of sugar. And now back to my parfaits...), cut-up strawberries, and vanilla-almond granola.

Lucy was giving me that look that said "this is the BEST FOOD EVER; why have you withheld it for so long?!" and Ed ate the whole thing in his peculiar, pincer-graspy, can't-decide-whichhanded-I-am kinda way.

For lunch I made quesadillas with whole-wheat tortillas, full-fat cheddar, 1/2 cup pureed sweet potato (it's REALLY delicious with the cheese), 1/2 can diced chilis, about 1/8 c. leftover taco-meat-and-beans, some chopped onions, and some spinach. Surprise surprise, I was the only one who ate it.

Here's what I made for dinner tonight. Warnings/Disclaimers: 1. It's not for the faint of kitchen (labor-intensive and an interesting ingredient mix). 2. I think it's healthy? -ish? 3. The cooking time can vary wildly.

Chicken Saltimboofer

Pound boneless chicken breasts or thighs until pretty darn thin, like, 1/4"? I think mine were more like 1/2". I was lazy. The thinner, the better. Lay in rows, like juicy little bald babies in a nursery.

Cook a small/med diced onion in a pan with some olive oil, about 8 minutes. Add about 10-16 oz. fresh spinach leaves to the pan. Turn heat to low. Toss just until spinach is wilted all the way through.

In a small bowl, beat 2 eggs. Add 1/2 c. Parmesan. Add 1/4 - 1/2 c. EACH of flaxseed meal and wheat germ. (Or sub the granolaey stuff with bread crumbs, but then add some extra shredded mozzarella, provolone, or swiss or something.)

Take some turkey bacon out of the package and lay one piece (cut for length) atop each chicken piece.

Lay some of the spinach mixture atop the bacon.

Spoon some of the egg/bread/cheese mixture atop the spinach.

Roll up each little baby, starting with the pointy end. Secure with toothpicks.

Lay the babies in a greased casserole dish or other oven-safe pan -- try to keep the bulk of the chicken facing up. Salt, pepper, and bake at 350 for (now here's where I went wrong) 25-45 minutes. If you're a tightroller they will take longer. You could also microwave 'em to cook 'em up.

I served these with rice, and oranges on the side. And Joel and I had some vanilla pudding with mini chocolate chips for dessert. And I also stole a Peep.

Take my dance class... please!

Hello my darlings!

I had an article published in the Dayton's Bluff District Forum newspaper! Here is a link to the online version. It's probably not the best thing I've ever written. I mean, I hope it's not. But it's the first thing I've had "published" -- unless you count various email newsletters from Consumers Digest, or the other marketing pieces I've written. Which I don't.

I have some Actual Video I would like to put here for you to watch. But I can't figure out how to get it off the tape in the camera, and into my computer. So you will have to wait while I order a new camcorder manual from Sony.

Monday night I made superboring chicken breasts marinated in some weird soy sauce/olive oil/honey/garlic/black pepper mixture and I George Foremaned them and served it with steamed peas and halved acorn squashies with brown sugar, butter, and walnuts inside. I was the only one who ate the squash -- my mom used to make it that way when I was a kid and it brought back delicious memories, but I didn't expect anyone else to enjoy it at all.

Italian Rice Stir-Fry

(This has been a long time coming; sorry. This is an old Leslie Ryan family staple.)

1 lb. Italian sausage: cook and drain/blot grease.

Add to pan and cook until tender (about 8-10 minutes):
1 chopped green pepper
1 chopped large onion
1 minced garlic clove

Remove to a bowl on the side.

Add to pan:
1 Tb. butter
1 c. uncooked rice

Cook about 4 minutes, until rice is golden.

Drain into glass bowl (reserving juice):
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes

Add water to the juice in the bowl to make 2.5 cups liquid. Pour that liquid into the pan with the rice and butter. Add:
1 Tb. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. oregano

Heat to boil; low to simmer. Cover and simmer 20 minutes (40 for brown rice). Mix side bowl (meat, veggies) into pan. Re-cover and heat on low, about 5 minutes. Garnish with parmesan cheese.

Also! I am teaching a DANCE CLASS. This is going to be super-fun and if you are at all intrigued by the thought of learning some jazzy dance moves, breaking a sweat, and trying something new, you should come!

WHO: Anybody age 14 and up; taught by me! (And sometimes Rob Sutherland!)

WHAT: "Broadway Jazz" dance class

WHEN: Every Sunday, 7-8:30 PM

WHERE: In the theatre at the Maplewood Community Center, 2100 White Bear Ave N.

WHY: Because I've had heaps of requests from the kids I've been working with (as well as their parents!) for some extra dance classes. For fun!

HOW: Show up at the MCC (free parking!). Class is $10 each week (checks payable to me). Just drop in -- no registration!

You'll get out of the class what you put into it -- and I'll tailor the class to the skill level of whomever shows up that week. Beginning dancers are just as welcome as those with more experience. I'll use dance terms, but the class will not be too terribly technical. We'll start with an aerobic stretching warmup (which will be very similar week-to-week), then do some across-the-floor work, then learn a short dance combination (which will probably be new every week). You should come!