Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Menu

We're celebrating our first Thanksgiving in our new home in style!  We cooked up a feast this morning.  Sarah helped.  My kitchen is big enough to hold three active cooks.  I still find it hard to believe that we actually live here, and will, probably forever, and that we are blessed with such a lovely space, inside and out.

After all the cooking and baking, we were invited next door to visit, share a drink, and play croquet.  Sarah came in second!  Our amazing neighbors are another unexpected blessing living here.

We had an early meal at home, just our family, but there was enough food for 30.  I'll try to remedy that next year and fill our home with friends and family.

From left to right there is pumpkin pie, pickles, maple pineapple ham, venison, cranberry sauce, pineapple, baked beans, my Grandma's four bean salad, pickled beets, maple drizzled brussel sprouts, and baked sweet potatoes.

We'll close our day at a friend's home 'round the fire.  The bacon wrapped dates are long gone, but hopefully our bean salad, brussel sprouts, pie, spiced cider and wine will suffice.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Leah's Pumpkin Pie

Leah made the most delicious pumpkin pie last week, and I could eat it!  Let me repeat myself.  My almost 8 year old daughter was yet again baking, (a magic she inherited from her aunt, not me) and made a pumpkin pie that I can eat.

A little background:  I've never had pumpkin pie before.  I don't know what it is supposed to taste like, but this was finger licking, pan licking good!  I married a man who happens to really like pumpkin pie.  On our first Thanksgiving as a married couple I made a pumpkin pie.  I found a recipe that was gluten, dairy, and egg free.  It had tofu in it.  We literally gagged on it and could not scrape it into the garbage fast enough.  If I recall correctly,  even the dog would not touch it.  I vowed that no matter how much I loved my husband, I would not attempt to make another pumpkin pie for him.  I faithfully kept that vow for 13 years.  I plan to break it on Thursday, and see if can replicate Leah's delectable desert.

Here is her recipe.

In case you are not well versed in phonetic spelling:
3 c. pumpkin
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tb. maple syrup
1 pinch pumpkin pie spice
Bake for 45 min. at 425 degrees.

She used this for her crust:
8 oz. rice flour
1/2 c. oil
1/8 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt
Add water last.  Roll between wax paper.

Happy baking and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

In a nutshell

I posted this on Facebook this evening.  It is a piece of our conversation at the dinner table.  I later realized that in those 30 hilarious seconds, when we somehow managed to get from hot pork loin to the Golden ratio, you could see exactly who we are and what is most prominent on our minds at almost any given moment.

A: It's hot!
me: Take little bites. Big bites are hot. Little bites are not.
L: I get it! That's why some big people are hot, and little people are not. O.o
S: That's a different meaning of hot, like when you like someone.
me: It can be used as a slang term when you think someone looks nice. I like how Daddy looks, so I will say that he's hot.
D: If your ratio was 1.62, the ancient Greeks would think you were hot Mom.

This means that Anna is trying to get as much meat as possible into her mouth, as quickly as she can.  This is what she cares most about - eating.  That and playing, but at 7 pm, it was all about the meat.
I'm mothering.
Leah is making grand connections and thinks and says the darnedest things, that are usually quite clever.
Sarah is of course making sure that everyone and everything is *right*.
Now I'm teaching and thinking about my hot husband, who doesn't get home until 11 pm on Thursdays.)
David is absorbed in math and history, with a side of humor.

Yep.  That's us in a nutshell.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

6 week menu

So... I've menu planned for the last 13 years.  It's what I do.  When I've taken a break, I've watched our grocery bills sky-rocket, so I don't take breaks anymore.  However, I was getting tired of some of our meals.  With my allergies, the list of available foods is limited.  I figured if I tried a 6 week long plan, rather than the 4 weeks I've always planned in the past, maybe I wouldn't tire of eating what I can eat.  It took me five months to figure this out!  Granted, we also BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOUSE and MOVED in that time frame, but redoing the menu was not easy.  Here is the rough draft.  It is a draft since we are still testing some of the new meals.  I may need to toss some as the weeks go buy.  I hope to report back with how this works for us and the recipes, so you know how to make dairy, egg, and gluten free Lasagna, among other things.

To see 6 weeks of gluten, dairy, and nut free and almost soy and seafood free in its own large window, click here.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Our children fight in the most bizarre ways.  There is very little "She's looking at me!" or "He's breathing the same air as I am!  Make him stop!"  We all get along fairly well these days.  It's nice.  This morning there was a spat, over the weather and temperature in countries half way round the world.  seriously.

David loves to play Axis and Allies.  He just turned 9.  He's played the game for two years.  He knows geography like no body's business.  Sarah loves roll playing games and to create her own scenarios for them.  She's almost 11 1/2.  She knows well, more then I do about so many different things.  They invented a game yesterday on the eight hour car drive back from Pennsylvania.  It uses the Axis and Allies board, but there are different developing nations that roll to see if it's a good year for herbs, meat, grain, their ports, etc.  I think it is FreeCiv with a role playing twist?  I'm not sure.  They played it for hours in the van.  They played it for hours this morning.  But here is how it ended:

Geography dude claimed that since the cities he was developing in Spain and Ukraine ("For the last time Sarah! It's not Israel!  It's Ukraine!!") were on the same latitude lines he could build similar cities there and use similar material.
Detail oriented, authentic, perfectionist chick could not allow this.  They were in different parts of the world.  There must be different temperatures and climates.

They both were right, but they were not happy to hear that from me, and it did not give them a solution.  I decided the weather might be able to solve this for us.  (We do not argue with the weather in this family.  That rule was set 9 years ago.)  In Spain right now it's in the 60s and there's sun for the next three days.  In the Ukraine in the area where David's settling, it's in the mid-50s with downpours for the next three days.  David is right.  There are similar temperatures.  Sarah is right.  The weather is drastically different, and he may want to consider different materials to accommodate that.  Solution?  Pack extra umbrellas.

Friday, February 10, 2012

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember.  ~ Amanda Soule  SouleMama

Thursday, February 9, 2012

French Firm Frame?

A friend shared this article earlier today.  I tried to respond on Facebook, but ended up here instead.  I had a lot to say.  I do not agree with the article for several reasons.  This is the first time in almost 5 years that I have said something in a "discussion/debate" on line, so I want to start with an apology.  If I hurt feelings, I really, really, do not mean to.  Tell me I have.  We'll work it out, and I'll probably shut-up again. :)

#1. Generalizations!!!  I haven't lived in Paris, but when I was there, and in talking with our good friends who DO live there, this isn't quite how it works.  In some cases, I saw the exact opposite.  There is a great trust of the child actually, which I like, and is mentioned once in the article.  I just never saw nor have heard of the firm/authoritarian frame this trust is supposed to be within.

#2.  Where are the ages???  I have four children who all play independently.  They did that when they were DEVELOPMENTALLY ready.  It was different for each of them.  Seriously.  No "education" or stern voices required.  Wait!  There's an age in the first sentence, traveling with an 18 month old.  I went backpacking with an 18 month old.  We didn't bring a crib.  (We've never owned one.)  She toddled around the campsites.  She nursed when she was hungry or thirsty.  I did bring too many little toys/books.  She played with rocks and leaves.  It wasn't that hard, really.  I'd do it again.  I have, seven times in fact, always with more children along for the adventure.  Oh, I was a few weeks pregnant then.  (Sorry, it was 10 years ago.  My memory is fuzzy.)  Now that.  That I'd rather not do again.  The baby was great!  Me?  Not so much.  There are some more ages listed, but my complaint is more about when is a child naturally ready for something, without being trained.  That's important, and the answer is different for each child.  I don't see this mentioned.  And just so you know, my children are 11, almost 9, 7, and a few weeks shy of 3.  I'm 32.  There's our ages.

#3. Speaking of ages and stages, I trust that quite a few children will show these behaviors, and many of them are simply asking a child to act like an adult, when they are ready.  Wait, I just said that.  Some little ones act like children longer than others.  Big deal!  As long as the mother can find support for her adjusted expectations, go for it!!

#4. Further, when my children are ready to eat solids, use utensils, use the potty, sleep through the night, whatever, it's easy and they just do it.  Anna is the only one I did not take charge of her meals.  She's the neatest eater of them all.  She's also the most polite.  Maybe it has something to do with me very rarely, if ever telling her what to say?

#5. Maybe it has something to do with her siblings and myself speaking respectfully to each other?  Children learn best by EXAMPLE.  At the same time, we're talking about nature here.  No matter what methods of nurturing/"education" one uses, some behaviors just are, and are quite age and developmentally appropriate.  If I have a problem with them, I'll redirect and give an example of the behavior acceptable in our family (sometimes society.)  But everyone has a different "level" of what is acceptable.

#6. Just take a walk with your kid around the playground already!!!  See?  That's perfectly acceptable for me!  MY good friends would stroll with me and continue our conversation.  I've had some of the most nurturing discussions in just this way.  If it's not convenient for her at the moment, her child will understand this with a gentle explanation, and maybe she can soon make it convenient.

#7. In order for anyone to learn patience, they need to be put in a situation that is uncomfortable.  A synonym for patience is long-suffering!  Why purposefully have my child suffer?  We wait.  We take turns.  We do delay our gratifications, in developmentally appropriate ways.  We look for ways to enjoy ourselves while we wait.  I believe we're supposed to be happy in life, not suffering.  As my children get older, they learn patience.  Again, without my even thinking about it.  There are times I wish they were a bit more patient, but I wish I was more patient too sometimes.  We're all working on this.  Here's something that is hard for me to accept: How children bake!!  They are messy and SLOW and often get it wrong.  I need more patience than they do!  I do bake with my children and others'.  I know how important it is to them and the memories they hold onto.  Why on earth would I want to turn that into a lesson in "long-suffering" or remove the best part, eating the batter?  Sheesh!  Enjoy your muffins!  Oh, and when people say in order to do everything I do with children I must be so patient, I cringe.  I do what I do because I love children, both my own and others'.  If it's a "chore" or an uncomfortable situation, I do what I can to adjust that and myself, usually my expectations, until I'm happy again and don't have to be "patient" anymore. :)  (I think I'll be in Purgatory a bit longer after that paragraph, avoiding patience and all.) 

#8. My body cannot handle eating as infrequently as the Parisians supposedly do.  Why should I expect my children to?  (Parisian adults pop into local bakeries to grab a hot, fresh baguette or a few crepes or a bonbon a whole lot more frequently then they let their kids eat.  I know.  I've seen them.  It keeps their blood sugar even.  That in turn keeps a human being pretty happy. :)  )  I really do not like the correlations she draws here.  Kids sit quietly because they are hungry or have learned to delay their hunger signals??  What about: Kids sit quietly because they are developmentally ready to do so AND their parents value a meal shared together as a family, and therefore set the example of what behaviors are expected.  Please note: I have a child that likes to stand quietly at the table.  I didn't even notice until another adult pointed it out recently.  It's just who she is I guess.  I don't really care.

#9.  INDEPENDENCE  This is my new least favorite word.  I did use it earlier though.  I like when my children play independently because it is quiet.  Simple as that.  I LOVE when my children play together or with other children or with myself or another adult.  Why?  Because that is what life is about.  We do not live on a desert island.  I do not want them to.  I remember the monkey from my Psych book.

My children need to know how to interact with others to survive (and they need a food source available to them, when their body tells them they're hungry.)  Let me rephrase that.  The most important thing is that my children learn to be INTERDEPENDENT.

#10. If one kind of parent is "superior", another must be "inferior".  That's not true, (the inferior part.) I is judgmental and not even nice.  Everyone is doing their very best with the information and support they have available at that moment.  This maybe should be #1, but this is the order I thought of these.

What if I have children that would fit right into Paris?  They sit quietly in restaurants.   They sleep through the night, most of the time.  They wait their turn, most of the time.  They listen and respond, very well, most of the time.  They say "excuse me" when they have something to say, most of the time.  They don't eat batter, but they sure love to lick the bowl and spoon afterwards, most of the time.  (Sometimes they don't even do that.  Crazy children!)  But they can get a snack whenever they want.  I listen to them and respond.  I try not to control them, only because I really do not like it when someone tries to control me.  I save "no" for dangerous situations.  (A sure sign that I need more sleep: I start to say "no" more.)  Yet they know and understand that I am their mother, and my job is to guide them and keep them safe, in the sandbox and outside the fence.  My cadre holds both.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

update, where I scan through pictures to remember what I've done in the last two years

brief:  I've been living and mostly enjoying life, writing blog posts in my head for the last two years.  The fourth baby coming along mixed with my work and volunteering made for good blog material.  Just no time to do it.  Maybe there still isn't enough of that elusive time stuff, but I'm going to try.  I'm hoping it helps with the whole solo parent deal we've got going.  There isn't very much adult conversation right now.  So I'm going to talk to myself here.  HA!  We'll see how well that works.

Feel free to stop now.  This is where I start rambling talking to myself.

more details which I may or may not write about in the future: I still teach Play and Learn.  Culture Cinderella was awesome and amazing, and I think I'm going to offer it again.  Since then I've taught Chemistry, Physics, and Playground Party for the 6-8 year olds at our co-op.  We went to the beach every summer, sometimes on a weekly basis.  We went hiking with our families each summer.  We made maple syrup each spring.  We have a cat.  Leah stopped dancing and started riding horses.  Sarah's still dancing.  David tapped for a time.  Now he wants to program computers and take drawing lessons.  We raised toadpoles.  Jesse and the children grew garden, after garden, after garden.  (There are a lot of pictures of beach days and vegetables.)  We went to Ft. Mackinac and saw one of my grandmothers.  Another grandmother died.  One of my sisters made her first profession with the Sisters of Mary.  Then she got to come home for a week.  We took her camping and square dancing.  I got back to Falling Water.  Jesse caught a bat.  David caught a fish.  They went to a Pirate's game.  We met our Norfolk friends up in Pennsylvania.  We spent many an afternoon at the Botanical Gardens, Zoo, and Aquarium.  There are new (to us) cabinets in our kitchen.  I finished one knitting project - the cutest robot you ever did see.  Family came to visit.  The rainbow blocks got played with, a lot.  We picked pumpkins, went trick-or treating, and played in a few musical salons.  Spent Christmas in Pennsylvania with our families.  Had our first and only doctor visit for a sick child.  Poor Anna!  Had our first and only ear infection.  Poor Sarah!  Another sister got engaged.  Then she got married.  I was the matron of honor.  Sarah was the junior bridesmaid.  Leah was a flower girl.  Jesse was children juggler extraordinaire.  ooo!  I knit a doll's hat too!  (I think I knit a few other hats for little girls, but they still have unfinished ends.)  We almost bought a house.  We almost bought another house.  We almost bought another house.  I wanted to buy another house, but then our future here became less certain.  I re-purposed some furniture and re-organized the toy room and library room.  One of my brothers got engaged.  We found Easter eggs in our yard, and lots of red, ripe strawberries.  Jesse took all four children canoeing in the Lafayette River.  (It's just at the end of our street.)  David made his First Communion.  Back to the sister getting married part.  I planned a Bridal Shower.  (You should read that last one again with great emphasis.  I planned a Bridal Shower.)  Leah and David now read short chapter books independently, silently, just because they like to.  Sarah reads Shakespeare and complains that there are not enough looong books for her to read.  Jesse was awarded the Congressional Fellowship.  We visited with friends. frequently.  I sprained my ankle, but it still hurt six months later, so maybe I did something else to it.  We broke the bed.  Jesse fixed it.  We have a new baby.  She's a beautiful, 1931, pear shaped Kanbe.  I could, and do, listen to her for hours.  Anna started to play her own imaginary, independent games.  Now she talks too.  We evacuated due to a hurricane and went north to pick apples and make applesauce, only days after the house shook and cracked a bit in an earthquake.  The hurricane took down a tree and blew a few window panes out.  After almost four months, the windows were finally replaced.  The big girls and I went on a dolphin watch tour.  I spotted the first ones, with my new glasses.  (They look even better on me!)  There were calfs!!!!  We now have two Girl Scouts in our family.  I started teaching Leah's First Communion class.  Moe died.  Jesse finished off half the attic for a room for David, accessed by a rope.  We met our new niece, Nitsah!  Jess and I had an over-due, overnight date.  (It'd been three long years, baby.)  Jesse moved to DC.  I drove to Michigan to see my sister, with all our children, after Jesse moved to DC.  Melanoma was found in a lymph node of Jesse's 94 year old grandfather.  After searching and scanning for cancer elsewhere, finding none, followed by surgery to remove the lymph node, Ray is cancer free and feeling fine.  Except he says he has to take more naps now.  :)  Everyone had birthdays and grew a little, or a lot. *sigh*  All this while I led League meetings, took helping calls, taught piano lessons, taught grades K-6 in our home - just not all at the same time, nursed a babe turned toddler turned preschooler, did the cooking and cleaning, or relied on my husband to cook and clean while I took care of the last bits of my PPD only to discover that there is a little (or a lot, depending on the day) SAD there too.

Now if you've made it this far, you can see why the blog posts are only in my head, if they're thought of at all.

And I'm too tired to form coherent sentences.  I look forward to writing here again.  It was good for me to look back and catch up.  Now it's time to look forward.

me, looking forward and back