February 25, 2005

The Carnival of the Recipes

Rocket Jones has a great looking Carnival of the Recipes for all your weekend cooking needs.

February 24, 2005

Chicken Soup For The...

Well okay, just chicken noodle soup. It's February and everybody in my family is either sick, just gotten over being sick, or is about to get sick. Actually, I think it is all three for some of us. So I've been making a lot of chicken noodle soup. Sure, I could crank open a can of Campbell's finest, but I just can't eat that stuff any more.

When I was little, I thought that that was how soup came. I didn't know ordinary people could actually make soup. I was fine with some Campbell's condensed soup. Then I discovered Progresso soups and they were better, but later I learned to make my own soups, and now I can't go back. I never should have learned to cook. It really cuts down or your ability to enjoy prepackaged convenience foods.

But back to soup. Here's the recipe I use for making chicken noodle soup. It freezes well, so when I have leftovers, I save them for times when we're too sick to cook. It's as easy as canned soup then only about a million times better.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Shredded chicken from 2 chicken breasts
2 quarts chicken stock (I try to keep homemade stock in the freezer, but when I'm out The Washington Post recommends College Inn Chicken Broth. It's pretty good.)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 stalks celery, medium-diced
4 carrots, medium-diced
2 cups wide egg noodles (or if you are like my dad who doesn't like wide egg noodles, you may use the skinny ones)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I prefer flat leaf, but curly works)

Bring chicken broth and pepper to a boil in a large pot. Add vegetables and noodles. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, until the noodles are cooked. Add the shredded chicken and parsley. Heat, taste for seasonings and serve.

Can you see the whole picture now? I forget sometimes that not everyone has the same size monitor or resolution settings.

February 23, 2005


My head cold is making me feel a bit too worn out to come up with anything interesting, so instead I will share some recent drawings by The Boy.

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A Castle Scene

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A Joviocentric Solar System

February 22, 2005

In Sickness and In More Sickness

It seems like this has been a month of almost continuous illness in the Adams' household. As soon as one member of the family returns to health, another one falls victim either to that illness or finds a new one to start running through the family. The Girl has a cold and nasty hacking cough. My nose is dripping like a leaky faucet. Last Wednesday, The Girl had a 24 hour high fever with accompanying whininess.

Sunday, right after we got home from church (just the way to spread the germs around) The Boy started saying his neck hurt on the inside, especially when he swallowed. Then he started shivering. Within an hour or so the fever arrived and he was wiped out. Yesterday morning, however, he seemed to be on the mend. This morning he said his throat hurt again. The fever didn't return, but he did manage to upchuck on the sofa. It was a lovely sight to behold -- me in my pjs desperate to use the toilet, but playing supermom and holding it in long enough to mop up The Boy and the vomit, before making a mad dash for the nearest potty myself. After that, I decided I'd better at least take him to the doctor's office to get him checked out.

I like our doctor a lot and her office space is decent. When we are there for a well visit, I love the fact that they have separate waiting rooms. When we are there for a sick visit, I'm less than thrilled. The sick waiting room is rather cramped and spartan. Spartan is fine, because that means fewer germ-laden things lying around. Cramped isn't so good though. That means that the sick kids are all squashed together sharing germs. Today the little boy next to us had pink-eye. His mom considerately warned us of the fact as soon as we came in and did her best to wipe everything he touched and wipe him down several times, but knowing how contagious that stuff is, I'll consider us all lucky if that's not the next disease we all get.

Spring is just around the corner. We now have four daffodils and three hyacinths blooming. I'm ready to throw open all the doors and windows, send the kids outside all day long and get rid of all the illnesses floating around. I'm tired of this already. Enough is enough.

February 19, 2005

Oh No! He's Got A Stick!

Yesterday was the first gorgeous day in a long while, so I put The Baby in the Bjorn and the big kids in the jogging stroller and headed down the street to the park. It was chillier than the sunshine suggested, but still warm enough without jackets.

Thanks to new sidewalks from Public Works, we could walk all the way to the park without going cross country or jaywalking, a definite change for the better.

Shortly after we arrived at the park, another mom and daughter arrived. We chatted for a minute and found out that her daughter and The Girl were almost exactly the same age. The Girl, though, is a tiny thing, and the other child had several inches on her.

What followed was a study, I think, in the difference having three versus one child makes on one's parenting methods and attitude. On the one hand, I sat and cuddled the Baby and left my big kids to their own devices; I hadn't brought them to a park so that I would have to entertain them. So while the Baby and I enjoyed quality time, the big kids swarmed up the ladders and down the slides and back and forth across the field surrounding the playground, yelling, chatting, fighting, the usual.

In contrast, the other mother hovered over her daughter. She helped her up the stairs to the slide, the sprinted back down to the bottom of the slide so that she would be there to catch her daughter when she came down. When her daughter ventured more than six feet off of the playground surface, following my ruffians, she nervously called for her daughter to come back. When her daughter emulated my big kids' simian-like behavior on the ladders and slides, she was subtly but definitely discouraged from following these poor role models.

And then the Boy found weapons. When he pulled a stick out of his pocket, asked the other mom if she liked his "pocket knife," and began running around babbling about how he could sharpen it on a rock, she looked -- concerned. But then he brandished a long stick with a branch for a handgrip. "Look at my machine gun! Ratatatatatat!" he shouted, as he sprayed the playground with invisible bullets.

Although it is to the other mother's credit that she did not immediately flee with her daughter and call DCS, her face became a distinctly uncomfortable -- and sour-looking. Guns! Violence! Male aggression! I felt relieved when the machine gun morphed into a pencil, but then The Girl had to snatch it, declare a sword, and start slicing up her brother.

On the other hand, the two big kids were running, chasing, playing, laughing, and otherwise enjoying a beautiful day, and they weren't even fighting -- all of which somewhat mitigated my parental shame.

The other child saw the same thing I saw and wanted a stick, too. She picked up a tiny twig about the length of a pencil but about as thin as a leaf stem and started running toward the fray. "No!" shrieked her mom. "Be careful with that! Don't hit. Don't run with a stick." Anyone who has spent time with two year olds -- especially the female versions -- will not be surprised to learn that this order was not well-received. The little girl pouted and then -- gasp! -- threw the stick, which flew past my head and landed behind me. I was never in danger, but for this transgression, the little girl got a firm talking-to and time out.

I took this as my cue to move our brood along, before their baleful influence led this little girl further astray and into further trouble.


February 18, 2005

No School? What Do You Mean 'No School?'

The Boy doesn't have school next week. It isn't exactly Spring Break. All the teachers are headed off to California for a conference. It's amazing how quickly one gets used to a school routine and comes to depend upon it.

I try to get errands run when I only have the girls, because although The Boy is the biggest and easiest, he also finds ways to drive The Girl batty and 95% of the time there is warfare when the two are together. Because they love arguing and fighting, I have also come to enjoy the peace and quiet that comes when I am home with only the girls. I also get some of this when The Girl and The Baby take a nap in the afternoon, but by then I'm usually tired too.

So next week -- no school days. No peace. No quiet. I'm hoping for good weather so I can throw the kids outside or take them to the zoo. (No, I swear I won't leave them there. No really.)

February 16, 2005

How Is Bea Doing?

Marc e-mailed me the other day and asked about the baby. I can report that she is doing just fine. She's 3 1/2 months old now, which seems amazing. I can't believe how fast the time has gone by. She's still just a roly-poly lump of a thing, but really wants to sit up, roll over and probably chase after her older siblings.

Her hemangioma is still growing, but hasn't yet become as extremely huge as some I've seen pictures of. At the moment I can stick a hat on her and avoid all the pitying looks and questions about what I did to her head. I even did what I generally think of as a bad, bad thing and bought a baby headband to stick on her once in a while. I try not to make a big deal about it one way or another, but I guess I've still sent the wrong message to the bigger kids, because one day while we were driving in the van, her hat slipped off and my son screeched, "Oh no. Her hat came off and we don't want anyone to see her birthmark."

I didn't know how to explain that while in general I don't want anyone to see her birthmark, it wasn't a mark of shame, nor something to be embarrassed by. I guess I have pretty mixed up feelings about it myself. We don't generally expect to see blemishes on babies and so they are a shock. I wish neither she nor I had to go through her having a big red lump on her forehead, but she does have it. She's still a bringer of joy and beauty into this house though and when she smiles the world lights up. I wouldn't trade her for a dozen babies without a birthmark, but I still hope the day that this one fades will come quickly.

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Creative Cookery

Marc and the Lil' Spud won Best in Show for their "We Dig Scouts" cake. Nifty.


I went outside this morning and found these:

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I guess it is time to really get busy clearing off leaves, trimming things up and planning out any plants I might want to buy for the season. Hooray!

February 15, 2005

A New Blog Is Born

Frequent commenter on Possumblog, Sarah G. has been seduced by the dark side and gotten her own blog so that she can be like all the cool kids. If she keeps telling stories like the first one about her three year old twins, it should make for and interesting and lively blog addition.

Grocery Shopping With The Kids

I only have three children -- not seven, but this is why I try to avoid shopping trips with all of them in tow, and why, when I have them all with me, I go to the expenisve grocery store where the staff is really nice and always insists on helping me out to the car. Chris is one brave, brave woman.

Further Adventures With The Boy

The Girl loves Eric Carle's books. I like them too, but not so much after the five hundreth reading. I do like how I can get her upstairs in seconds by promising to read The Very Quiet Cricket or The Very Hungry Caterpillar though.

Justin was feeling some ennui towards these books too when The Girl asked for yet another one at bedtime. He complained, "Does he write anything but books about insects?" The Boy responded, "Well of course they aren't all about insects. He wrote The Very Busy Spider. Spiders eat insects. They aren't insects."

Justin said, "True, they are arachnids." And The Boy, who just bought himself a book of Greek mythology with his birthday money said, "Of course. They must be named after Arachne. Athena turned her into a spider and arachnid sounds like Arachne."

It's a pity he doesn't want to be homeschooled. I don't think I'd have to do any work. He seems to figure it all out on his own.

The Answer Is Blowing In The Wind

Yesterday we were listening to the Forest Gump soundtrack in the car on the way home from The Boy's school. As we pulled up to our house Blowing in the Wind was playing. I switched off the radio and the car and The Boy finished out the verse that I'd turned the car off in the middle of. Then he piped up from the backseat, "I really like that song. It's pretty. It's a good song even if it was written for Democrats." Heh. What's his father been teaching this kid? I assured him we could like the music without agreeing with the message. After all, I was raised on The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary without any visible signs of scarring.

February 14, 2005

That's My Governor

It's hearing my governor say things like this that could almost make me vote for a Democrat. Almost. I still don't trust him, but I like him a whole lot at the moment.

It Doesn't Matter How Long They've Been Potty-Trained

Sometimes children hold it a little too long, engrossed in some interesting game, and when they finally make that mad dash to the nearest toilet, it just isn't enough time. That's what happened to The Boy last week. While we were having a neighborhood meeting in the living room -- right next to the teeny, tiny powder room.

It proceeded something as follows:
Justin: Blah blah blah neighborhood. Boring boring blah blah.
Running feet pounding towards the bathroom. The door slams.
I think: Thank goodness he remembered to close the bathroom door this time.
Fumbling noise, followed by sounds of peeing, followed by screams.
The Boy: Mom! Mommy! I peed all over the floor! Help!!!!
Lots of adults in the room next door snickering silently.

Then I checked on him, went upstairs got a change of clothes, wedged myself into the very little bathroom with the boy, a change of clothes, a lot of paper towels and some floor cleaner. When he had to go, he really had to go. Let's just imagine an uncontrolled firehose. There was no dry place to step, no room for two people, and because a meeting was going on next door, I couldn't open the door and shove the naked, wet boy out the door while I cleaned. But somehow it got done and we have the world's cleanest bathroom floor now.

For the rest of the weekend, if I even thought he might be considering a run to the bathroom in the next hour, I sent him there immediately. I don't really want to go through that again.

And in other potty news, The Girl is still not trained, but she does poop on the potty every few days. It's a start I suppose. I also suppose if I made any effort she'd be out of diapers. It's just that effort requires work.

February 10, 2005

The Computer Age

Just because I've been busy all day doesn't mean I want to miss the Thursday Three.

1) What was your first computer?

The first family computer was a Commodore 64. We got it when I was in about second grade. I learned to write simple programs to draw asci pictures and things like that. We upgraded within a year or two to a Commodore 128 -- I think we bought it at Target, on which my dad wrote his doctoral disseration. He was thanking his lucky stars not to be typing it on a typewriter and I doubt he could even have fathomed the word processors of today. But the word processor we had for the Commodore played Pomp and Circumstance if you pressed the right key combination. We'll downplay the acquisition of the Amiga and move right into Macintoshes.

My own personal first computer was a MacPlus that I took off to college with me. It was already old then and by the time I got to my sophomore year, it had taken to overheating, growling at me and shutting itself down whenever it felt crotchety. But it had an external 20 MB hard drive. Who could ask for more? But then my next computer was a Mac 145 laptop with an 80 MB hard drive. I felt very cool with that baby.

This question didn't ask you to tell ther details of every computer you've ever owned, did it? I guess I'll stop now.

2) What is the worst thing you ever encountered dealing with a computer?

That would either be when Justin decided to try to install a version of Ultima 7 on our computer and it started reformatting the hard drive or when my daughter got a stomach bug and wretched all over my laptop. The first crisis had to be solved, by Justin going in in DOS and saving all our files that were recoverable and then reformatting and reinstalling Windows. The second was solved by the purchase of a new desktop computer -- that way sick children can't kill the whole machine if they vomit on the keyboard. Actually the laptop still isn't totally dead as long as you don't need to use any arrow keys, j, or sometimes the return key.

3) What is your favorite piece of software?

I used to be a Tetris addict, but now I suppose my favorite software is either Eudora or Photoshop Elements.

I'm Not Dead Yet

Nor even pining for the fjords -- real life and a neighborhood playgroup at my house for large numbers of small children and their mothers interfered with my blogging time for the past two days.

The playgroup went well and I got to talk to friends and meet new moms in the neighborhood all in the comfort of my own home which got incredibly loud, but not too trashed despite the dozen or so children's best efforts. I also tried a new cookie recipe for the event -- heart-shaped thumb print jam-filled cookies -- they were so-so, but even a mediocre cookie is enjoyed by small children. So there you go.

February 08, 2005

Of Dogs And Toddlers

Since she turned two, The Girl has mostly stopped eating dog food. She seems to understand that that is pretty yucky. That's not to say she leaves the dog's food and water alone though.

While I was diapering The Baby this morning, I heard splashing. When I got to the kitchen, I found two soaking wet pink socks sitting on the wood floor and her brother's big stuffed Clifford in front of the dog food. After dancing in the dog water, she'd decided to feed the stuffed animal.

I said, "Let's not stick our feet in the dog's water. He has to drink it."
"Is that yucky?"
"Dog food is yucky for my mouth. Hobbes eats it."
"Just because he eats yucky food, doesn't mean he needs yucky water."
"I like to stick my feet in Hobbes' water."

Yes, I apparently am just keeping a mini-wading pool in the kitchen.

It's Alive!

That's right. I did indeed survive. I won't say I'm feeling 100 percent better, but I was chipper enough by yesterday evening to make chicken noodle soup and blueberry muffins for dinner. Those were the only things that sounded good and they really hit the spot. After spending two days consuming nothing but a little Jello, a few Saltines and some ginger-ale, I was ready for a bit of real food.

After going to bed by 9:30 for two nights in a row, I also feel more rested than I have in months. I wish I could convince myself not to fall back into my night owlish ways, but I suspect that is too much to hope for.

February 07, 2005

Sunday Was Not A Fun-Day

The weekend started out just fine and the weather was beautiful. I even spent some time Saturday pulling out weeds and dead plants and doing some of the garden clean-up I never got around to last fall. Sunday things were not so hot.

I woke up with a sore throat and a headache, but those went away after I got out of bed and got moving. They were replaced by stomach cramps and waves of nausea. It was finally agreed that Justin would take all three children to church and I would stay home, because both the option of going to church or staying home with the baby by myself did not appeal.

Justin really had an easy time of it, because when a dad shows up somewhere with three children everyone takes pity on him. He basically never had to hold or deal with any of the children once he got through the church doors. When he's leading singing and I'm sitting alone in the pew with all three, somehow no one takes nearly so much pity on me. Frankly, I think Justin's probably more competant than I am at dealing with all of them, but there you have it -- sexism in action.

A Chinese speaking congregation meets in our building and had invited the English speakers to a Chinese New Year celebration after church, so they stayed for that and ate lunch. They got home around one o'clock. By two o'clock or so, Justin was feeling queasy. At first, he thought he'd just eaten too much Chinese food, but the feeling kept getting worse and worse. Clearly he had the bug too.

Thus in a great and unfair move, the children both got sick, got over it and then their parents were felled at the same time. The two of us were lying around in misery, while the kids who feel just fine now were running around wreaking havoc. It's definitely the worst when both parents are sick and the kids are well.

Neither of us is exactly well today, but the world goes on and so does work, school and everything else. I think I'll spend the day on the sofa hoping not to die.

February 04, 2005

Housekeeping Tip

Should you be making poached eggs one Sunday morning and happen to spill three of them in the process of putting them in the pan, it might be wise to remove the drip pan to make sure everything is cleaned up. If not, it might be wise to mention it to your wife to check on, so that she doesn't find the drip pan glued to the stove top with congealed, cooked egg when she goes to give it a thorough cleaning on a Friday afternoon. Just a thought.

I Can't Even Get Dressed By Myself

After spending the early, early morning nursing one child and then cuddling another one who is still feeling slightly sick, I got up, had a little breakfast and sat around in my pjs for a while. Eventually I decided that I probably ought to dress the girls and myself, because we really did need to go to the store and buy milk. The Boy had dressed himself. Putting clothes on my daughters wasn't too difficult -- the middle child actually chose her clothes with alacrity and the other one doesn't care what she wears yet.

Time to dress myself, which of course shouldn't be too hard. I even had clean clothes to choose from. I'm in the process of taking off my pants when the 2 1/2 year old walked in. "Why you change your pants, Mom? Did you pee-pee in them?" asked the still not potty-trained one.

When I assured her that I hadn't she wandered off to pick a fight with her brother. Or maybe he started it. It's really hard to tell some of the time, but yelling ensued followed by a shout of, "Mom, she just stuck her foot in the baby's face." Screams from the baby who had been napping underneath her Gymini thing followed, so once I got some pants on (don't want to frighten the neighbors) I had to rescue the infant and break up the hostilities over a plastic dog.

Time to change the top half of my apparel. Get things off. In comes the 2 1/2 year old, who laughs and starts chanting, "Mommy's nudie." On go the undergarments, shirt and sweater quickly, but I forgot the pads I need to stop me from leaking milk every where. They are currently being cradled in the arms of my daughter, who hands them over, "Here are the bras for your noo-noos."

And thus, after only 15 minutes, lots of embarrassing questions and commentary, I got myself dressed. Yes, I could have locked the door, but I swear it's worse when I try.

Let's Go Voltron Force!

You scored as Voltron. Take it back to the original morphing mechanical thingies. Voltron could so lay the smack down on those gay little Power Rangers.



Strawberry Shortcake












Which 1980's Cartoon Character are you?
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February 03, 2005

100 Things

Everybody else did their 100 things ages ago, but since I'm avoiding all the things I should be doing (like more vomit covered laundry) and because I can type and cuddle girl who just wants to "be holded", I've decided to make my own list.

Read More "100 Things" »


I've been meaning to mention that I recently consumed the best chocolate I've ever had. My husband brought it home from one of the Christmas baskets that his office got and I ate it the other day. If you have a chance to try a little Sharffen Berger chocolate, I give it my complete endorsement. And now that I know they sell it at the deli down the street from my house, I'll be going there more often.

February 02, 2005

I'm Getting Sick of This

The Girl woke up from her napping screaming for me. That isn't really anything new and after a minute or so she'll usually calm down, open the door and come downstairs, so I finished up the stuff I was working on before going up to get Miss Crankypants. Only an odd sickenly sweet smell hit me as I opened the door. Breakfast and lunch -- half digested and now all over The Girl and the bed -- her brother's bed. Why can't she hit her own bed with urine and vomit? Why does she have to take it out on her brother's bed? So just when I thought we were all heathy and had volunteered to take food to someone with a new baby -- bammo. Back to the pukies we go.

Yet Another New Blog Baby

Congratulations to Steve of the Llamabutchers for his new baby son Quentin Walker. It's probably for the best that he didn't wind up named Elvis Agamemnon.

Going Commando

The Boy has taken to stripping off his Pull-ups in the mornings and putting his pjs back on until after breakfast. I joked about his "going commando" and then, of course, had to explain what that meant.

No big deal -- unless you have a gregarious, talkative child. We were sitting around yesterday afternoon and he piped up, "I told (insert name of cute little girl at preschool) that I like to go commando in the mornings." Me and my big mouth. Why did I teach him to speak?

House Cleaning

As far as my personal house cleaning rituals go, I've been pretty productive for the past few days. I've kept up with the laundry, even when forced to do extra by a two year old who stripped off her pjs and peed all over her brother's bed. I've vacuumed, swept, mopped, cleaned a bathroom, cooked meals, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, shopped for groceries and generally feel like my house is in order.

However, I've had the guilty pleasure of watching part of the show Wife Swap. While I'm sure they always go for the extremes the two times I've seen part of a show, one of the women would be cleaning her house 5 hours each day and talking about the other family living in filth because the bathrooms weren't cleaned daily and there might be dust balls in the corners.

Even at my house's cleanest, I rarely manage to clean more than one bathroom per week and between a dog, three small children and two adults, there is always dirt on the floors and hair balls in the corners. It is rarely at its cleanest, either. Toys, laundry, dirt, dishes -- everything piles up and I don't always get to it right away.

And so I wonder, do people really clean 5 hours per day? I can't imagine spending that much time cleaning and if I did, I'd expect not to be doing anything else to the house for at least a week. I guess I'm just content to wallow in my filth.

February 01, 2005

Toaster Ovens

Does anyone have a toaster oven they particularly love or hate? Our basic Black and Decker model, that we got when we got married seven years ago, is dying a slow and painful death. It now only toasts one side of the bread and doesn't even manage to do that very evenly. It's time for it to go. We don't need the fanciest toaster oven that can roast a small chicken, just something that can make decent toast and perhaps melt a little cheese on it now and then.