Monday, November 19, 2012

Win, Lose, or Draw Turkeys?

As many parents do, I have become somewhat obsessed with the ability of my children to lose- games, or competitions, in this situation (of course, there are other losses to come which I fear, but one step at a time, people).

It is kind of a natural progression. At first, we let our children win to build their confidence. We lead them to believe that yes, mommy is too stupid to win at Memory or Connect Four, too slow to run up the stairs first, and aren't they clever to be able to conquer a grown-up. They are amazing, and unstoppable, and they know it. Then the inevitable happens. They challenge a friend, sibling, or someone less interested in fostering their tender confidence, and they get trounced. The result? A sob-fest. At which point, any conscientious parent realizes they are about to instruct the lessons of Loss Management.

Once that begins, it's day to day. Some days, they will hear they didn't get the lead in the school play, and they will be disappointed, but know it is okay. Other days, they will be too tired to fall behind in a video game, and they will crumble. Then there are days like Braeden had today, where all you can do is sit back and watch the turmoil unfold in front of you like beautiful, sparkly train wreck.

We played a small, card version of Whac-A-Mole, at his suggestion. It's a simple game, save for my parental manipulation of wins vs. losses. He won the first game. Quickly into the second game, I pulled ahead. His face grimaced, and fell into his hands. A moment later, his trembling voice said, "I'm okay!" He won the next card pile, pleasantly, and when I gained the following pile, he started weeping heavily, turning his face against the seat of his chair, but again he called up, smiling, "I'm still okay!" I won the game, and he really broke down. A moment later.... through his bawls, he was assuring me that he was fine. Rationalizing his way through emotional decay. Now where on earth did he get a trait like that?

I'm thinking we'll do crafts the rest of the day.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I don't think this is what they mean by "Expanding Vocabulary".

This week in third grade brought an unanticipated milestone. That's not to say the milestone itself was unanticipated, rather the timing was a great big question mark. We all know it has to happen sometime, right? Girl child came home from school with a brand new word- the notorious F-bomb.

I have third-grader quality details of how the word actually came up during the course of a normal school day. Anyone with any experience having, or being, a child knows that the reliability of information can be sketchy. Plus, heaven knows I don't want to incriminate the poor kid who feels the need for attention by acting out with an "advanced" vocabulary.
I just mostly feel pretty sad about it.

... and grateful that Girl made it all the way to age 8 1/2 before even hearing it.
... and amazed that she didn't first hear it from me!

In the eternal race between 'civility' and 'Jersey', 'civility' takes a momentary lead! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Run Girl

I managed to complete my first (only?) half marathon in June. Yes, it hurt. It was pretty fun though. Not just the event, but the training and the hype and the stoking myself up for something new. I'm in need of some sort of new 'thing' to do now. Suggestions welcome, but that's not really the point of this post.

On Monday, after swimming at the local Y with the kids (okay, my kids don't swim yet- it was knee deep bobbing), girl child asked how old you need to be to use the cardio machines. We asked a knowledgeable Y employee, and kids can start using the machines at age 7, as long as they work out beside a parent. As she is 8, she was compelled to take the necessary machine orientation as soon as possible so that she can come running with me at the gym. On the one hand, I am really excited that, through my actions, I am inspiring my daughter towards a healthy lifestyle in a time when obesity and its complications are strong. On the other hand, I am  nervous that over obsessing about fitness will make me drive my daughter to an eating disorder. I don't want her being one of those people that gets stress fractures from over training for anything either.

Okay, I realize that this is one of my 'crazy mom' moments where I am worrying about all extremes in true maternal style. After all, she had a cheeseburger and french fries for dinner last night, and has been splashed out on the couch streaming Netflix all morning. Plus, she has never wanted to go running with me outside, so I think this is mostly an electronic fascination paired with a desire to publicly do things that grown-ups do. Still. You know. I am a mom. I am entitled to all accompanying neuroses.

So yesterday afternoon she had her orientation and is fully equipped and excited to get her tread on. After her orientation, for a good dose of balance, I took her to McDonald's for a milkshake where we sat in the parking lot and had a long discussion on the importance of being healthy and balanced, not skinny or injured. Our afternoon jaunt might not prevent any extreme from becoming reality, but it checked my balance box enough to salve the rawness of crazy mom. For now.

First mother/daughter cardio workout is scheduled for this afternoon. Now I can set my neuroses to just worrying about short term concerns- like her losing control and slamming her face onto the treadmill control panel. Yes, that's much more settling.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weary. Restless. Human.

Gah. I hate negative blog posts. I never want to be someone who sits around bitching about anything. I am sorry. It can not be helped. I am tired of devastation. I realize this isn't your problem, but it is mine. And this is my blog, after all. While it isn't kind of me to make you read about the devastation around me, sometimes a person needs to put some emotions to rest, you know? Or, at least assuage them a little? Somehow (and, for me, that's by writing it out)? You can back out of our little reader/writer arrangement here, which is more than I can say for myself, but I think you won't by now. So, here we are. Me all 'tired of devastation' and you all 'sitting there, drenched in my emotional cloudburst'.

There were fires here, and the fires were terrible. My home was unaffected, so I should be, and am, grateful for that. It was exhausting though, whether you were evacuated from your home or not, to just be here in this town, watching it all happen. We were all on edge... some evenings, just walking the street where we live, talking to neighbors because it seemed like the only thing we could do to hedge our restlessness. We're just now breathing our relief with the fire's containment, but how much relief is it really as the historical aspects of the burn sink in? Everyone respects a fire fighter, but there is a newness in that respect now, within this town, that is actually difficult to explain. It has become passionate, I think. We are human though. As with all passions, it is not fair how time and a return to 'normal living' will moderate our feelings and our actions. We will remember what those fighters did, and how we felt. Yet, I can't help thinking their valor deserve better than our human-ness. 

A couple of friends have become severely and/or startlingly ill. There are fights ahead, and though we help and support all we can, there's a helplessness. If only there were more... more we could do. In some cases, I feel so capable of being more helpful, but geography presents insurmountable limitations. It feels crippling.

I get it. I'm a grown up. I know this is the way life happens. The older you get, the more open your eyes become to the ever existent devastations. I get that there is only so much I can do about things. I don't wish to waste too much time wallowing in pity for myself or anyone else. There is simply too much to do for that. I know I need to just help where I can. Impact the people I can impact, and it is not as though life is without its positively gleaming moments.

Everyone is allowed a little time to be weary of the human experience.
Even me.

On we go.
Here's a towel. You should change out of those drenched clothes before you catch yourself a death of a cold.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kitchen Quilting

My mother is a quilter, as was her mother before her. I have done one or two very small fabric quilting projects, but I don't really think it's for me. Sometimes I am a perfectionist. Other times, I really don't give a rat's patooty. Either way, I end up frustrated.

I've learned the best quilts tell stories. My grandmother made the one on my daughter's bed for me when I was her age. One on my son's bed, from my mom, tells the story of little monkeys jumping on the bed. A table runner in my dining room is a wooded scene with bears from my Aunt Candy. I have another table throw made from feed bag fabrics, t-shirt quilts that document my life from high school to marriage, wall hangings of mountains and horses and bears (oh my)! The list goes on and on. Quilts made from scraps and special fabrics bought, given, gifted, traded, from here or there, modern to antique. Each one has a story. I try to keep them all in my head, but heaven help me if I should ever be quizzed.

I realized, as I rummaged through my kitchen scavenging for lunch today that, even though I don't use fabric and thread, I sometimes throw together my own quilting projects... in my kitchen. 

I like to cook when I have time to think about what I'm doing. Cooking doesn't bug me as other crafts sometimes do. Maybe it is the convenience of so many pizza joints if plans go awry, but I don't mind getting experimental in the kitchen. I can strive for perfection or be careless with my ingredients, and there's not much harm. Especially during weekday lunch time when I'm mostly cooking just for me.

Like quilts, the meals I stitch together sometimes also tell their own stories. Today's lunch: Grilled Chicken and Onions on Toasted Sourdough.

Hubby decided last October that he wanted to create his own pet sourdough starter. We named her Minerva. Once or twice a week, he harvests some of Minerva's yeast-iness and bakes a loaf of sourdough. A couple of toasted slices seemed like a good place to start for a sandwich. I dressed it with a teaspoon of light sour cream for a touch of smoothness.

I made my chicken noodle bowl recipe for dinner last night. I had one and a half thin-sliced marinated chicken breasts left over. I chopped one up and sauteed it with two sliced Cippolini onions. I had never even heard of Cippolini onions until I started sharing a winter vegetable share from a local farm with my friend Kat. CSA veggie delivery day is like Christmas! Maybe a little muddier.

Sauteed onions and marinated chicken had to be topped with cheese. I had made the boy cub a tortilla cheese roll-up for lunch and had some extra shredded Colby Jack. Turns out I could salvage some spinach from an old box of lettuce I had in the fridge, so I tossed that on top too. With a little fruit on the side, lunch was complete.

My kitchen scraps threw together a really beautiful little treat! All stitched together, it was my own little wholesome quilting project. It sure didn't last as long as most of the other quilting projects I keep in my home, but it sure was delicious!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Browsing the children's books in Costco this weekend, I stumbled on a really cute little 2-pack of books that seemed to teach some basic preschool skills to kids ages 2 and up. I am not sure what appealed to me about the books. The cute cover characters perhaps. Or maybe it was the smug little face drawn in the 'o' on the brand logo. Whatever it was, we ultimately decided to purchase a pack for the boy child as a Valentine's gift. Yes, evil mom gives workbooks as presents... he will learn that fun IS work. He will enjoy being pressed into early studies, dammit! Toys are for the weak!

Well, the truth of it is, my slave driving plots backfired. I couldn't tear the boy away from his workbooks this morning! For two and a half hours, he stuck stickers and cut lines and pasted together a host of items from boats and rockets to frogs and birthday cakes. He didn't want to stop. With each item we completed, he insisted we carry on. He was a little irritated with me when I made him play his video games so I could have a 5 minute break to get a drink of water and use the bathroom.

... and how his skills did develop! His cutting precision improved. He used a glue stick for the first time. He counted the snips his scissors made, and felt pride in properly placing eyes, a nose, and mouth on the face of a panda. We had such a great time!

While I don't often generate a strong opinion on consumer products, I have to say I found these small workbooks to be easy to use, visually riveting for my little guy, and well worth the money. For $7.99 we couldn't have even enjoyed a movie together for two and a half hours.

We purchased the Kumon books for Stickers & Paste, and Cutting Paper, and I don't know how long I can wait before returning to Costco to see what other books the Kumon company has for us. The Sticker & Paste book was thoroughly defeated in its singular day of use. It has nothing more to offer us. The book on paper cutting might take us through tomorrow, but it is a long shot. I have a feeling there will be disappointment at reaching the final pages.

It was exciting. This little guy is so enthusiastic about so many things, he himself is a gift. I suppose I expected him to get a kick out of learning and practicing some of these early skills, but I didn't expect it to hold his attention for quite so long. Not when competing with Lego Batman on the PS3, after all.

Good heavens. Less than a year and a half until Kindergarten. We are striking up that flaming hunger for learning! May it burn and burn in him for the rest of both of our days.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

mis-placed hearts

I received the most beautiful love letter today:






Wait, who thinks I love him? J-Boy?

Sadly, I don't know any J-Boy who loves all my ways and finds me to be his most beautiful dream wife.
I then notice that the note is written to T-Girl.
Sigh. I am not T-Girl.
I am saddened that lucky T-Girl will never receive her sweetly composed love note.

But, hey, listen... T-Girl, if you're out there... you hold onto that J-Boy! He's a sweetheart to leave you notes on what he thinks to be your windshield while you do your food shopping.

... and J-Boy, while I should probably say you're a lovestruck moron for missing the clear indications that my CRV was not your T-Girlmobile (the plates, the telltale car seats in the backseat, the massive juggling bag cluttering the trunk), anytime you ,or any of your buddies, want to leave a love note on my windshield telling me I am most beautiful... bring it, baby. I am going to be smiling the rest of my day pretending you are remembering the lips and eyes of this jobless, witless, goal-less, middle-aged mother of two.

Ahhh... vicariously T-Girl.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012! Eat well!

I was spending a good bit of time thinking of what smart and poignant post I might make for my very first blog of the New Year... but NOOOOoooooo. All you people really want is my Noodle Bowl Recipe. Know what? That's the important stuff anyway! Eat up, my loves!

Melissamese Chicken Noodle Bowl

Chicken Marinade (qtys are estimates. Let your personal cooking chi be your guide): 
1/2 c. canola oil
1/4 c. sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 TBSP Asian black bean garlic sauce
1-2 TBSP hoisin sauce
1/4 tsp ground fresh chili paste
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/2-1 lime's worth of lime juice

Muddle that mix in the container of your choice (I use a gallon ziplock bag). Violently slash criss-crosses along thin sliced chicken breasts (or whatever kind of chicken chest you wanna use) and drown them in the marinade for a couple of hours before grilling them cooked.  I'm not to tell you how to grill them. Work it out.... but don't grill them until you have the rest of your bowl pretty much assembled... unless you want your chicken cold-ish, which really doesn't matter. It's still awesome.

Here are the bowl layers, pretty much in order from first in to last in (qtys are- as much as you like. I'm not eating it.):
sliced Napa cabbage
fresh bean sprouts (canned ones are soggy and gross)
shredded carrots
cucumber slivers (or julienned, if you like to talk all fancy)
sliced green onion
a nice big handful of rice noodles, cooked and cooled however cool you want it
marinated and grilled chicken breast

Then, if you consider yourself saucy, you can add an Asian sauce of your liking. I love Tyler Florence's Peanut Sauce from this recipe, adjusting the sambal to personal taste. Those allergic to peanuts in my home just use plain hoisin or soy sauce with great joy.

Mostly the joy is because I made them a yummy dinner.