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Saturday, December 10, 2011

A good week

  My house would usually not be described with such vague, subjective adjectives as "neat" or "tidy". I do try but I get pretty busy with the kids activities, JR's activities, PTA, my other  activities, church, the cat, grocery shopping, Facebook, staring out the window to make sure the guy walking his dog has a baggie and isn't afraid to use it. But, I digress. Today, my sister-in-law arrived from Southeast Asia where she teaches English. Since we knew she was coming ahead of time (just popping in has proven tricky in the past), we decided that was as good an excuse as any to clean it. I spent a lot of time developing the most efficient strategy for decluttering and organizing all of our things so that all I would have to do would be to dust and vacuum the day before she got here. Like many great planners, my husband and I spent all day Thursday and  Friday putting up clothes, toys, books and every piece of paper that has ever entered our house. We also managed to make fliers for the PTA Holiday tree recycling fundraiser that I naively volunteered to coordinate, coach Ian's basketball team both afternoons, take Bekah to a poetry reading for her English class, help the PTA collect food for the holiday food drive and distribute those tree fliers, dance every time a really good song came on the radio and laugh our butts about my "mommy voice" off at dinner. I'm gonna get mushy here but my husband rocks. He worked off Wednesday morning, took a nap and got up and started working on a few projects around the house. When we went to bed Friday night, I could see my kitchen counters and the floor in every room of the house (except mine. Well, you can see the floor but not the top of my dresser). It was a blissful sleep.

Monday, December 5, 2011

normal everyday weirdness

  Things in our house get a little...silly,weird, crazy (take your pick). JR and I have very irreverent senses of humor and we're fluent in Sarcasm. We're also both nurses who talk about "stuff" at the dinner table. Combine that with a few cases of unmedicated  ADHD and it's a small wonder that our kids say some slightly outrageous stuff. Like today. My 14 yr old and her brother were having some sort of verbal play battle that always results in one or the other quoting The Cat in the Hat and shouting, "I will end you!". Bekah then told him she would cut him up and put him in chili. All I could picture was 1000 cops milling around my house, botching a crime scene, news cameras and my hubby and I tearfully protesting our innocence. So I said, "Do not do that. Do you know whenever a kid goes missing, the police never go looking for him. They just interrogate the parents and blame them until all the leads go cold."
    She offered to confess. I told her we couldn't let her do that because then we would be accused of coercing her to confess and take the rap for us. Then Lia cried,"No! I'll miss you when you go to jail!" ("when", not "if". Thanks, Lia.)
   At this point, Ian piped up and said, "Hellooo! What about  me being dead?" Is it any wonder he has "Middle Child Syndrome"?
     Then there was our trip to the grocery store today where Bekah and I were hip checking each other down the aisles. Somehow we ended up threatening violence (I'm not sure how we got there, either. But I assure you it was all in fun.) There was a woman with 2 preschoolers picking out chocolate chips next to us as Bekah said, "See this fist?" To which I replied.,"See mine? You won't in a minute!" Chocolate chip lady threw a bag in her cart and told her kids,"We're gonna go this way." and turned around. After we finished giggling, Bekah pointed out that it was a little disturbing that the woman heard me threaten to punch my child and turned the other way (hmm...future rant post?)
  Additionally, our overuse of the internet provides much mirth and merriment. There was the Google search for "Cooking with soy flour" last night. I typed in 'cooking with' and a list of possibilities popped up. The first one, Cooking with Dog, caught my eye. It made me a little uneasy but the train wreck factor kicked in (you know- when you can't NOT look?). Turns out it was a Japanese cooking vlog narrated by a poodle that sits right there by the prep area. I was right. I WAS grossed out. But, it was too good not to share, so I called Bekah over to witness the silliness. When I typed in "cooking with", to show her how "Cooking with Dog" popped up, she said, "Look at the last one. 'Cooking with cannabis'" (why do kids always notice what you DON'T want them to?) TRAIN WRECK! Sooo, we pulled it up. Aaannnd, of course, one of the first entries was an article by The Portland Mercury. (gotta love this town!)
  Last, but certainly not least, is my lovely daughter "outing" me on Facebook today (before the grocery store). I get SMS updates on my phone and got a '[someone] commented on your status' text. It read "are you sharing something? lol". I was trying to remember what I had posted yesterday when another update popped up reading "congratulations." I suddenly remembered that I had just exited the web without signing out earlier in the day and that Bekah was sitting at the computer trying to ignore me. I pulled up FB on my phone and there it was. I made some sort of unintelligible noise as she burst into laughter. It was such a great hack that I left it up. ( I am, however, a little confused about the number of people who "liked" my status...) The two younger kids wanted to know what all the commotion was about and when we told them, Ian said, "Mom's not gay. She's married to Dad! She can't be." And sweet little Lia chimed in with, "Mom can't be gay. Gay people are fun!" as if that settled it. If only the chocolate chip lady had been here then. She might  have understood.

Making a mess in the kitchen and a free miscellaneous rant

  I'm learning to love to cook again. Yay! A few nights ago, I found a really easy recipe for Alfredo sauce ( http://allrecipes.com/recipe/quick-and-easy-alfredo-sauce/detail.aspx) and it was a hit with all 3 of the Leprechauns and my hubby. Tonight, I set a small amount aside and blended it with a little bit of spinach. I used canned because that's what I had but would have preferred fresh. It was pretty good but,  because of the color and consistency, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was eating baby food. Next time, I'll play around with the fresh stuff until I get it right.
  I had a good bit of spinach left over and didn't want to freeze it and play the "what's this?" game in a few weeks so I decided to make chocolate muffins with it. I know some slightly well known comedian who had a little show in the 80s' wife has a book about the same thing but I'm older than her and lots of moms have been sneaking stuff into spaghetti sauce, meatloaf and muffins for quite a while now. I found a recipe, (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-muffins/detail.aspx) that had a lot of positive comments, read and noted the comments, and got to work. I put a little too much cocoa in them for my taste but with a little Nutella, I think my kids will eat some of it...
  I'm begining to think you can only put so much nutrition into one muffin. I hoped the extra cocoa would mask the spinach and it did- a little. So I'm going to reduce the spinach in the recipe and the cocoa because it's really too chocolate-y (yes, I think maybe there is such a thing). I traded the 1 cup of sour cream for 1 cup of plain yogurt and the all purpose flour for whole wheat flour and some oats that I ground finely. Since I didn't have enough white sugar, I substituted some brown sugar. In all, they weren't bad. The whole wheat flour isn't as fine as the white so there's a little grainy feel and, again, too much cocoa made them not as sweet as my kids might like. But the yogurt didn't make them taste weird and the whole grains didn't make them dense. since my kids have ADD and protein in the morning has been shown to be beneficial (and lots of other reasons- like stabilizing blood sugar), I want to experiment with replacing some of the wheat flour with soy flour
  Here's the recipe I ended up using
1/2C ground oats
1 1/4 C Whole wheat flour
3/4 C cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 C white sugar
3/4 C brown sugar (do I have to tell you to pack it?)
1/2 C chocolate chips (because my kids would eat dirt if I told them it had CCs in it)
     Mix all this into a bowl
3 eggs, beaten
~1/2 C spinach, pureed (don't lick your fingers if you get any on them)
1 C plain yogurt
1/2 C water
1/2 C milk
     mix this in with the dry ingredients. bake at 325 for about 20 minutes.
Serve with milk, because that's what you eat with chocolate cake.

I'm sure if anybody reads this, they're going to have some comments about their perfect nutritional habits. To them I say. "So?" If this isn't something you'd eat, Move on.  My kids have developed bad eating habits over the years,largely while I was working 12 hour night shifts and my husband was commuting 2 hours one way to school (and STILL pulling the highest GPA in his class while trying to raise our 3 younger kids while I was at work) and I'm trying to improve them. I was a little bummed I couldn't fit a whole serving of veggies and protein into one muffin but I realized I was still getting a little extra veggie, whole grains, protein and calcium in. And a little bit here and there is better than none at all. This fits in to two philosophies that I really love but tend to neglect. The first being "Baby steps", whereby you accomplish great things one small step at a time. The second is "good enough mothering". I heard the concept ( the Good Enough Mother) a few years ago but never read the book so I'm probably way off from the author's original concept but I don't care. It's my life, I'll do what I want. Anyway, I remind myself that everything doesn't have to be perfect all the time and I don't have to do everything that all the other moms are doing. If it doesn't work for my family, it's not good for us. Enough said. Life is too long to stress about every little detail. If the fate of the free world doesn't hang in the balance, then do a good enough job and move on. When you're old, you'll wish you'd played tag on that sunny day instead of cleaning the carpet.