June 30, 2006
Greenland, Greenland, Greenland
A friend of mine is in a band, and although I haven't been to see them perform yet, we've already got a babysitter lined up for the next concert. I finally checked out their website today, and although I think they need a new non-MySpace website, the music is lots of fun.
Nashvillians consider making it to a concert some time.
June 29, 2006
I opened the dryer and saw on top of the lint trap one of the things I most dread finding -- crayons. I admit that with three (and soon to be four) children, I should be better about checking pockets, but if I took the time to check every pocket, I'd never get any laundry washed. Mosted days just stuffing it all in the washing machine is the best that I can do.
So back to the crayons. There they were mocking me -- daring me to pull out the clothes and look at the devastation. It was almost complete -- streaks of dark blue and green wax were everywhere. Setting aside a few towels, underwear and pjs, that would only be seen in the family and therefore crayon stains could be ignored, there was really nothing unscathed. Naturally the load of clothes included a brand new favorite shirt of the three year old's, all of my husband's khaki shorts and a whole bunch of borrowed maternity clothes.
I admit there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth on my part, but not, fortunately, because all the clothes had been ruined. Getting out crayon stains takes a lot of work, but with one of the best tools in my arsenal every single stain -- except for a few where I got lazy and didn't rub very much (and even some of those) -- came out.
The best tool, when defense has failed and offensive measures against crayon (or beeswax from Hippy German School) gets run through the dryer? De-Solv-It. It really does work miracles on crayon and similar stains and is great for getting off sticker goo and other such things. It has a strong orange odor, but I've found that once you've gotten off the stains, run the clothes through the wash with some vinegar, and dried them, the scent is pretty much totally gone.
Once again, Super Mom (that would be me) and her handy-dandy bag of tricks, saves the day and the laundry. Yay me!
June 27, 2006
We went to Chattanooga this past weekend for a little mini-vacation. We took the kids the aquarium and Rock City, plus we ate ice cream and took in the movie Cars (excellent, by the way). One night away from home was plenty really and the kids had so much fun that the six year old has already decided that when he grows up, he's moving to Chattanooga.
While out of town, I think the three year old was bound and determined to sample the delights of every single bathroom in Chattanooga. We went in clean bathrooms and stinky ones; big ones and small ones. One place that had two one hole bathrooms had them simply labelled restroom and although it makes perfect sense in that situation not to make one women's and one men's, I found it hard to figure out for a minute. I got over that challenge quickly enough and realized that I could use either bathroom.
Figuring out which bathroom to go to wasn't really that hard though. The most difficult task with taking my daughter to the bathroom also is not keeping her from touching gross stuff or getting her undressed in tight spaces. The most difficult thing is keeping her mouth shut. In one crowded restroom, we entered a stall as soon as it was vacated. My daughter proclaimed loudly, "Mommy, she didn't flush!" The poor woman had, but the water was still rippling from having been flushed and my three year old didn't approve.
Later at another bathroom, we entered as a young teenage girl was washing her hands at the sink. My daughter said, "Where's her mom?" When informed that I had no idea, she suggested, again quite loudly since she only has one volume, "Maybe her mom is dead!"
I've decided before we go into another public restroom, I need to stock up on duct tape for a certain little mouth.
June 26, 2006
My father was here recently and one evening while we were discussing movies, he mentioned that he enjoyed the recent Yours, Mine and Ours. Having not seen it, I asked if it was anything like the original which I had seen several years ago. My father, as it turns out, hadn't even known there was an original, so I gave a brief synopsis of the plot and mentioned that it starred Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda.
At these words, my six year old's ears perked up. "Henry Fonda? Is he related to Peter Fonda?"
My son is not, as it happens, a fan of Easy Rider, but has seen Thomas and the Magic Railroad more times than is good for anyone (actually seeing the movie once is more times than is good for anyone, but we won't delve further into that). The Thomas movie stars Peter Fonda and though Peter hasn't made nearly the quantity or quality of films that his father or sister have made, among the short set in our family, he is the famous one.
One truly terrible film has ensured Peter Fonda's fame for years to come -- with the ten and under crowd anyway.
June 23, 2006
I would be interested in knowing how you've developed curious palates in your children. Were they born this way, or do you have certain house rules that promote adventurous eating?
First a disclaimer: I'm not an expert in the area of feeding children. I doubt my children eat any better than most other children and I probably let them have more junk food at times than a lot of people would.
For our family, eating preferences have really been all about exposure to lots of different foods -- both at home and when we eat out at restaurants. I always figured that if Indian children eat Indian food and Thai children eat Thai food, my children are more likely to enjoy those foods if we feed them to them from the beginning and continue to eat them regularly.
My kids aren't much different than other kids in their tastes though really. They aren't wolfing down super spicy foods and they'd love having French fries once a day if I let them. My son's favorite dish at the Thai restaurant is noodle based. Their favorite Indian "food" is a mango lassi, not a curry. Their tastes are only as adventurous as their parents and perhaps not as adventurous as their father's -- you wouldn't find either the children or me eating sushi or raw oysters for instance, even though Justin will eat both and even though the kids do eat fish fairly regularly.
I do try to make lots of different things (both in terms of different kinds of foods and from lots of ethnic backgrounds) and when we eat out at a restaurant it is often Greek, Thai, Indian or something else along those lines. This is not to say we never hit Sonic for a burger. Everything, both ethnic foods and fast food come in moderation.
I usually make the kids try a bite of whatever we are eating -- and there are lots of things that the parents really liked that never get made a second time, because they are so strongly disliked by the kids. I'll even do something I said I would never do -- I will at times make food for the kids that is different from what I make for myself. At those times though, and they aren't common, the kid's food is related to what the grownups are eating and easy to make. For instance, since my children don't like fajitas, I'll make them a quesadilla, but I might make them try a bite of the chicken and bell peppers I used in the fajitas.
Sometimes my childern utterly surprise me though. For instance, the bigger kids both like spanikopita and stuffed grape leaves a lot, which I never would have guessed. And my husband and I were a bit surprised when we went to a tiny Ethiopian restaurant and the kids couldn't eat the injera bread fast enough and insisted on taking every scrap of it home with us.
I figure no matter how much they are exposed to it, some kids will never like certain foods -- be it broccoli or tuna fish or peanut butter, etc. There are things I hate eating -- peanut butter, sweet potatoes and cantalope being on the list. I never, ever tell them that those or any other foods are gross though and I try never to suggest that something is too spicy, too mature, etc. for them. Two of my children will eat every black olive in sight, while one would consider it contaminating to be in the same room with a black olive. But along the Green Eggs and Ham principle, they'll never know for sure what they like if they don't get a chance to try things out and the more things they try out when they're little, the more things seem to stick later on, in my, so far, limited experience.
If the kids don't like something, that doesn't mean they won't see it again and have to taste it again later, though I take their current food favorites into account when coming up with meals. Tastes come and go. The boy who requested nothing but "hot, cooked egg" for breakfast when he was two won't eat an egg now unless it is drenched in cheese and inserted between two slices of toasted English muffin now. Sometimes the Middle Girl would rather eat nothing at all than ingest the food on her plate. When they hate something totally yummy and wonderful, in the end, we tell them not to worry, that their mouths probably haven't grown up enough to enjoy the food and that they can check again when they are bigger.
June 22, 2006
Daisy, Daisy, Tell Me Your Answer Do
June 21, 2006
My husband and I were discussing the other morning the various knots with which one can tie a tie. You think that's weird? Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall around here for other conversations? He said he knew only three -- not counting tying a bow tie -- but figured that there must be more knots out there. Lo and behold, into my inbox this afternoon strayed a note from Brooks Brothers with a link to their page on tying knots.
I've always found my husband to be rather genteel, but according to Brooks Brothers, it won't be until he can tell his Prince Albert knot from his Half-Windsor that he'll truly be a gentleman. I suppose he, and most every other man out there, better get cracking.
Update: I notice that Blogthings, via The Llama Butchers, has a different and one might argue more complete definition of a gentleman. Knowing how to tie a nice tie might fit in there some place though.
The First Tomato
We have one red grape tomato and about a million that will ripen shortly. Yum.
Why is it that every time I type tomato, I want to add an "e" to the end of it? I blame Dan Quayle.
Conversations With A Three Year Old
Middle Girl: "Daddy, I like your nose pits."
Justin: "Thank you. What are nose pits?"
Middle Girl: "The things with boogers in them."
What makes her father's "nose pits" so fabulous? One can only wonder and say it must be genetics.
June 20, 2006
Have They Stopped Looking Related?
The other day I got asked if all the kids were mine. Today at the bookstore, the clerk asked my son if the girls (all two of them) were all his sisters. They look like me and they look like each other. The kids were even mostly behaving and not acting like they belonged in the zoo or running around so fast as to create doubles of themselves. Maybe three children really is getting to be way too many for the modern mind to comprehend.
My six year old loves Thai food. His favorite, most often requested, location to eat out is a particular Thai restaurant on the other side of town. For some reason, although I can cook decent Chinese food and my Indian food is awfully tasty, I've never been able to make decent Thai food.
Now I have a Thai basil plant growing extremely well and I want to try again. I need some new recipes or suggestions for good Thai cookbooks. What, dear readers, can you recommend?
June 19, 2006
The other night we went out to dinner and the hostess asked how old the children were. "Six, three and one," I told her.
She looked at me and asked, "Are they all yours?" with a look of surprise on her face. I was holding The Toddler Girl in front of me, so I'm not sure if she could tell that I was pregnant.
At the time I thought she was amazed by the number of children, although three really doesn't seem like a large family even nowadays. Therefore, I've decided she was really shocked that someone as young looking as I am could have three children.
La, la, la....
Permit me my delusions, okay?
June 15, 2006
Do reading lesson with Middle Girl.
- Sunscreen the kids.
- Pack up chocolate chip cookies to give to friend watching the girls.
- Take the girls to friend's house.
- Take The Boy to swimming lessons four stories up on top of a building not up to modern codes.
- Retrieve girls.
- Pinch children and/or scream songs at the top of my lungs to keep them from falling asleep in the car on the way home.
- Naptime, if I'm lucky I'll get one too.
- Make dinner.
- Feed everyone.
- Play outside, catch fireflies, and swing on the new swing.
- Bed time for small fry.
- Eat either ice cream or watermelon.
- Fall asleep.
What are your plans for the day?
June 14, 2006
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Mary tagged me with a little meme. What are seven things I find myself repeating over and over throughout the day? In no particular order:
- Stop fighting.
- Go sit in the living room until you can stop crying.
- I love you.
- Put your shoes/toys/crayons away.
- Go to the changing table.
- How do you say that politely?
My friend, Jo, thinks her somewhat similar list is a sign that she needs more adult conversation. I like to think it just means I only have to repeat myself this frequently with the short set. Although, there is one phrase on the list I do repeat early and often to the other grown-up in the house.
Stinky Fish Fertilizer Day
Every few weeks, I spend thirty minutes or so mixing up batches of "deodorized" fish fertilizer (don't let the name fool you into thinking you won't smell rotted fish) and lugging my watering can around the yard feeding the plants. I sometimes wonder if the extra food actually does any good, or if I'm merely developing a healthy and attractive habitat for large black flies. Nonetheless, I persist despite the objections of everyone else who lives here.
And things are growing. Food is coming soon.
I also have two bell pepper plants, but based on past performance, I'm not entirely sure they are going to do much.
The Night Life of a Pregnant Woman
The bath tub starts to fill. You use the toilet and slowly watch the water swirl down the drain. You wonder why you still need to go to the bathroom. A small voice whispers, "You moron. You're having a dream and if you don't get up and really go to the bathroom in about fifteen seconds, you'll wet the bed." Repeat scene many times every night.
In other words, I'm not getting the amount of uninterrupted sleep that I would like to have, but otherwise I guess pregnancy is treating me well enough. I am, as I've said before, extremely fortunate to sail through the first half of a pregnancy with few problems. However, now that I've reached the second half, the physical discomforts are starting to hit, and pregnancy at 31 is much harder than it was at 24. Bending over to unload the dishwasher hurts.
I had a checkup yesterday and everything looks good. We did a second ultrasound to check on everything and there have been no changes since my little preterm labor incident a few weeks ago. Everything that is supposed to be closed is closed and the baby still has all the fingers, toes and chambers of the heart that it is supposed to have.
Sometimes, I still can't quite believe I'm expecting a fourth child and yet I'm very definitely expanding on the outside and we saw a very definite little person on screen. I need to get used to the idea and move along with some important work -- like moving The Toddler Girl out of the crib before she realizes its going to be appropriated by some usurper.
And thus ends the pregnancy update.
June 12, 2006
Previously, I mentioned that we would soon be putting in some paths to prevent further erosion and get rid of a few of the mud pits in the back yard. We, as usual this is the part of we that does all the digging when I am pregnant, have done a tremendous amount of work digging out a path between the side gate and our deck and laying out some proposed new flower beds to edge it.
Once the digging was done, we bought nice snapped sandstone stepping stones from a nearby stone yard. It pays to have nice neighbors with whom you are on good terms, because after hearing that we were going to pay $100 to the stones delivered, our next door neighbor, who owns a large pickup truck, offered to go with Justin to pick the stones up and helped unload them. I offered a lot of encouragement and iced tea during the process of digging and rock moving.
Things still aren't entirely finished. We may actually take out some of the pea gravel to use elsewhere and put in larger rocks around the stepping stones. This would, we hope, make it easier to move the wheelbarrow and lawnmower on the path and encourage Toddler Girl to stop filling her clothing with tiny little rocks. Not that she would stop removing the rocks from their intended location, but big pebbles are easier to find and put back than tiny ones.
After the path was put in, we laid out a curved design to add to our current flower bed that runs along one side of the property and attach it to the path. We have the bricks put in to edge flowerbeds (and I actually dig help set a few, though not most, of those) but we have not yet dug out the turf for the beds themselves.
In the meantime, we decided the garden needed something else. After searching around and learning that most garden bench swings and stands or arbors were of a higher price than the range we had set in our heads, we found a nice cedar swing at Lowes. Its rather Mission-y for our Victorian house, but we've been enjoying it a great deal already and that was really the point.
Last, what would a tour of landscaping projects be without a little view of my current favorite section of the garden and what I hope to carry through into the new section of flower bed when it is ready for planting?
June 11, 2006
The Perfect Summer Dinner
Although there are a million summer-time dishes and foods that I love, last night we had what I have come to regard as my perfect summer dinner. The foods that now capture summer for me. We had bruschetta (my version involves slices of baguette, olive oil, salt and pepper, fresh basil, a slice of fresh tomato and a slice of fresh mozzarella and gratings of Parmesan broiled in the oven for about 5 minutes), corn sliced off the cob and sauteed in butter, slices of watermelon and ice cream sandwiches for dessert.
This isn't a meal full of childhood memories. Oddly enough, the only one of foods that I got regularly as a child was watermelon. We ate plenty of corn on the cob, but I didn't have it sauteed until seeing a recipe for it in one of the Barefoot Contessa's cookbooks a few years ago. I made up the bruschetta recipe myself (not that it's hard or probably all that original) a few years ago and I don't remember ever having an ice cream sandwich in our house as a child.
Sure, summer also means BLTs, black cherries, apricots, peaches, yummy things cooked on a grill and other pleasures, but in the past few years, no other meal has so entirely encompassed the flavor of summer for me. What foods or meals are quintessential parts of summer for you?
June 09, 2006
These days I think there are more commercials designed to make me never want to buy certain products than there are commercials that really sell their products well. Perhaps its my bias towards loving Sonic, but their commericals generally make me want to head down the road for my local Sonic. Krystal, on the other hand, is equally close to my house, but their commercials always annoy me and don't make me long to try the advertised products.
Those commericals just annoy though. Some like the Starburst commerical where the man dips both his arms in flesh eating acid to chase a Starburst are much more disturbing and not at all compelling. At the moment though, the one of the commercials I think wins the most disturbing award is one that Juicy Fruit is running. We won't even bother discussing further the troublesome aspect of the commercial -- when a lovely old Volvo has its door ripped from the hinges.
Who tries to sell things with a giant killer ant? I'd like a show of hands of all the people who want a giant ant for a pet. Or, who, having aquired one would be stupid enough to taunt it by opening a package of gum in front of it. Sure, it has a nice old fashioned horror film feel, but would that really make anyone want to go out and buy gum?
How about sticking to the things that we know actually sell products? Commercials that play up our longings and desires really are more effective.
June 08, 2006
A Pretty Mommy and Baby
My friend Meredith is home from the hospital with her new baby daughter and has put up a photo of herself and Elise looking far more beautiful than any woman who just had a baby should be allowed to look.
I hope I'll get to meet Elise soon.
A Thursday Three, Of Sorts
Terry's gotten lazy and left question writing up to the rest of us.
Here's my Thursday Three:
Cantalope, Honeydew, or Watermelon?
Watermelon. I buy the others for the family and slice them up, but I don't like them. I bring myself to taste them now and again, but I can't bring myself to like them. Honeydew is slightly better than cantalope, in my opinion, but I generally won't eat either.
Would you let your little girls wear bikinis?
When my mother-in-law arrived recently with a bag full of hand-me down clothing from somebody or other's granddaughter, the most exciting clothing in the bag, from the perspective of our three year old, was a two-piece swimsuit. My husband and I decided that we did not want to start any precedents of allowing belly-baring suit wearing (even though when I was in college I had a bikini of which I was quite proud and skinny enough to wear). I suppose I've become prudish in my old age and my husband remembers what it was like to be a teenage boy and thus we'd like to start out with a position of no two-piece suits and get that established right up front. I bribed The Middle Girl with a brand new pink and purple swim suit from Target and she was more than happy to surrender the bikini.
Why does The Toddler Girl laugh hysterically when I smell her feet and say with great exaggeration, "Ew! Stinky!"? and/or Why does The Toddler Girl think she has the right to climb in my lap, stick her foot in my face and say, "Piggy" any time she wants me to play "This Little Piggy" with her toes?
And the answer? I have no idea, but she's awfully cute and I think we'll keep her.
Who Do You Think You Are? My Wife?
One of the drawers in our kitchen sticks periodically. It needs to have new glides put in. We bought the parts months ago, but what with getting the house ready for the neighborhood home tour, fixing a drawer fell by the wayside. The Middle Girl is the one most frustrated by the sticky drawer, because being a shortie, she doesn't have the leverage and strength to open the drawer when it is stuck.
The other morning she naggingly asked her father, "Why haven't you fixed this drawer yet?"
Later, as he was getting dressed for work, she said, "I don't think you should wear that. Your suit would look better."
The Middle Girl is the hyper-feminine one and apparently has found my nagging abilities lacking. She's decided she'll have to take her father under control or nothing will ever happen around this place. Fortunately for her, she's got her dad wrapped around her finger.
June 06, 2006
My three year old daughter is not as shoe-obsessed as her 19-month old sister, but she has, for over a year now, longed for flip-flops (or as she calls them "slip-slops"). Every time she sees anyone wearing any, she asks once again for a pair. So constant has been this barrage that even the Toddler Girl can now identify flip-flops as a separate category of shoes. As some little boys are about cars, knowing their makes and models at extremely young ages, so the Toddler Girl is about shoes.
Although I am not generally the first to buy my kids anything they ask for, this has been such a long lasting and continuous desire that I would be happy to comply and get The Middle Girl the shoes she most deisres. But for one thing. Until today, I couldn't find any that came as small as a size 8. Today at Target, however, we hit the jackpot. Tiny little pink, rainbow slip-slops.
Just what her heart most desired. I had to work hard to convince her that she couldn't wear them to bed for her nap. Other than for sleeping, I don't think those sandals are going to be leaving her feet any time soon.
Punishments That Don't Seem to Work
I have three children. I have two potty trained children. I have two potty trained children who have both pee'd on the floor in the powder room in the past week. One did this for unknown reasons and also quietly left the mess behind for me to find with my feet. The other 'fessed up that he forgot to aim.
I thought an appropriate punishment for both of them would be to make them clean up the mess. I have been surprised both times at how readily they actually agreed to do it. Even more surprised when both commented at the end of the process that it was "fun."
Both children have been informed that, while they may clean the bathroom any time they wish to, wetting the floor is not the best way to go about earning that honor.
June 02, 2006
The Last Day
Some how I am totally convinced that The Boy was born about a month ago and that there is no possible way that I am old enough to be the mother of a child about to finish Kindergarten. Didn't I just graduate from college?
When you have a baby, everyone likes to inform you that the years will fly by and the children will grow up before you know it. Although, intellectually you can understand this, those sleepless nights and screaming hours of babyhood seem like they are going to last forever. You know you'll remember everything forever, so why bother to write it all down?
Then suddenly, even faster than all those people warned you it would happen, your child is going off to school -- and then finishing Kindergarten. You've probably gotten a few wrinkles or grey hairs. You're getting old and they, those little tiny adorable (though squalling and non-sleeping) babies, have become tall, lanky kids about to begin real school.
When? When did it happen? Today, The Boy will officially be a rising first grader. Summer will be gone in a blink. His legs will get even longer and time will keep moving on.
In Hippy German School, all the children in Kindergarten sew a baby doll and a sleeping bag for the baby. The dolls are simple, but take the kids who are learning to sew almost a whole semester to complete. In the end they are a source of great pride for their makers. When everyone has finished their baby, all the dolls get a name and are sent home with their owners.
Today is the last day of Kindergarten for The Boy, so yesterday he very proudly brought home his baby, sleeping in a pink rosebud covered sleeping bag and bearing the name "Sandra Boynton" in honor of one of The Boy's favorite authors.
He told me all about his baby and its "history." It's wearing a bandana (of rosebud covered flannel) because, according to The Boy, "It's a pirate." Then in the course of telling me all about Sandra Boynton, the doll, The Boy suddenly got a strange, some what confused look on his face.
"Can Sandra Boynton be a boy's name, because this is a boy doll?"
I told him that Sandra really was never used as a boy's name.
"That's ok. Sandra Boynton is really just his nickname. His real name is Sandrio Boynton. He's a Spanish pirate. Does Sandrio sound Spanish?"
I decided not even to mention the possibility that Boynton is not a commonly found name among Spaniards.