If you're looking for Olson family updates, then visit our family blog, I Love You Same.

The rants and recipes found here are solely mine.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Today is all about pure, guilt-free joy. Eat lots of candy, smile and laugh a lot, talk to lots of neighbors, kick a pile of leaves, wonder at a pumpkin carving worth of a museum, get a belly ache from too much candy corn, sip hot cider, marvel at how some of the kids can walk in their costumes, count the vampires and the Britneys, make a kid's night by emptying your candy bowl into his bag, savor the smiles.

My dad died five years ago today. The anniversary of his death reminds me that life is short, eat the candy, celebrate the happiness without any guilt. Set aside your worries and enjoy the joy. My dad always wished that he had done more of that. His greatest regret, shared with me on his last lucid day stays with me.

I'm not down today. I'm happy that this day is pure kid enjoyment from top to bottom. Dad would like it that way.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Evolving and Revolving

.Scootin' away to a friend's house and then coming back home again. Those out of my sight trips teach us both so much.

I remember when I was a new mother. I was all about breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and completely immersed in mommydom. Our little world was small, population 2, with a third that came and went as his career allowed.

Bit by bit, we left that town, and joined the masses. It didn't happen in leaps and bounds, and I wasn't dragged kicking and screaming, hoping to remain.

Growing up and becoming independent is an unstoppable evolution. Sometimes, when I speak with mothers who fight it, I wonder why, but more importantly, how do they do it?

Since birth, Young One has made the unstoppable journey to independence and I've reveled in it. That's not to say I don't get a little teary and long for the days that his little hand sought out mine! Those days are over and with their passing comes new tender moments. He needs me differently, and sometimes in better ways. Less physical, more spiritual.

Attachment parenting became a trendy term a long time ago. Honestly, those that subscribe to it really don't need to name it. Attachment parenting simply means to be in tune and connected with your kid. I don't know many moms who aren't, so to attach (pun intended) the term really seems silly to me.

Call it my own Mommy evolution. I needed those terms when Young One was younger to feel validated. I needed to name my parenting style. It didn't last long for me. I wasn't a vigilante breastfeeder. Young One weaned himself. I didn't get caught up in the mommy wars of I'm better than you are because I _____________. (Fill in the blank with: feed all organic food, weave my own diapers from hemp and recycled newspapers or what have you.) But, I had the need back then to focus completely in. At the time, I couldn't see out of the box I had put myself in.

Now, looking back, I find a lot of it funny. I'm seeing that part of me again in younger mothers. It must be a necessary part of the journey. What I've gained from it is to look to more experienced mothers when I'm struggling with whatever phase we're in. I wish I would have done more of that when I was a younger mom.

Like I said, I couldn't see outside my little world and now, when I see that in others, it gets to me. I want to shake them and say, this time in their lives is so fleeting. Look outside your world and look to the future. Your birth experience, your breastfeeding, they're just blips on the radar of motherhood. They don't define you as much as you think they do and they certainly don't define you for as long as you think they will.

When your children reach out for independence, as they are genetically driven to do, you've got to step back from your own agendas and let them fly. Your attachment in the early years will serve them well if you did your job right. They'll return again and again, just in a very different way.

We humans seem to have the need to label things. Wrap them up in tight little boxes tagged with a judgment. We do it to ourselves, we do it to each other. I can't solve it, I know, but I can cut the string those neat little boxes are wrapped up with. I can look closer at my own label, the one I put on myself and the ones others put on me. And I can create a new one.

This self reflection is getting a little too deep and it's taken up the time I should have could have would have made dinner. Thank God for the forethought to stick something in the crock pot. Tonight's it's pork roast, with crumbled freshly dried herbs and lemon peel. Yum.

Lemon Peel Pork Roast
3-5 lb pork loin roast, boneless or bone-in
1 head of garlic
1 whole lemon
your favorite herbs: I used freshly dried herbs from my CSA, rosemary and thyme, about 1 tsp each
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cut slits into pork roast and insert peeled garlic cloves, as many as you like or your family can stand! Zest your lemon into a small bowl. Crumble dried herbs into the bowl and mix all with salt and pepper. Rub or sprinkle onto pork roast. Cook on low 8-10 hours or until someone in your family says, "I'm starving, when do we eat?" Roast is done when it's internal temp is 165 degrees. If it's cooked all day, it will fall apart, so don't serve this if you want an impressive roast to carve at the table.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's All in the Attitude

Bad pictures, but you get the gist. Big instrument. Much pride.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Grab and Go

Notice how I demonstrated the proper technique of not overmixing the muffins. It is not a unmixed bit of flour you see, but superior muffin technology.

It's been a busy week. Lots of meetings and activities and play dates. It's end of the quarter for school, so there are last minute projects, assignments, and tests to study for. I said yes way too many times and now I'm paying the price.

Turns out I wasn't the only mom last night that was spread thin. Most of the friends and acquaintances I saw last night, all arrived the same way I did. Out of breath, sweating, scattered, and cursing the fact that all activities like this seem to be planned for right around dinner time.

Last night was Young One's first middle school orchestra concert. He's been so excited to start playing the upright bass after two years of playing the cello. This big, bad instrument has been his goal since starting orchestra.

I know that part of it has to do with the fact that it's the biggest instrument in the orchestra. You know, a kind of, "mine is bigger than yours" mentality. He walked around in his almost a tux uniform, parading the big bad thing in front of as many of his classmates as he could. I overheard him telling a bunch of kids that it weighs, "more than I do."

I was lucky enough to chat with a more experienced parent of a bass player. She gave me some helpful hints on how to navigate life with an instrument that has it's own zip code. I had volunteered to rally some sixth grade Mom Troops to chaperon the kids before the concert. Orchestra kids are really great kids, so really, there wasn't much to do. Of course, I found someone to chat with!

One of the things I learned when I was working full time plus on our business was to have a lot of grab and go things in the freezer. Muffins or banana bread can round out a cheese stick and a glass of milk to make a quick meal. It's also portable, as in, "GrabamuffinIfilledyourwaterbottlealreadyIknowyou'resickofstringcheesegetsomeanywayandgetinthecar."

Last night was the concert, today is the Pumpkin Run at school, tonight is a meeting for Confirmation guides, and tomorrow I'm participating in a math placement focus group for school. Friday is a dance at school and Young One is going to a friend's house. Saturday is Halloween and Sunday church and then I'm going to fall on the floor. Monday morning it starts again.

Apple "Clean out the Cereal Cupboard" Muffins
1 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg--freshly grated is best
1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped fine
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil--you could sub applesauce, I did and they turned out great
1 egg or the equivalent of egg substitute
2 cups Raisin Bran or high fiber cereal with fruit--I used Kashi something or other with cranberries-- you could use all the leftover cereal you have, you know those bottom of the bag amounts that aren't enough to fill up a husband or kid with, but end up in your cupboard languishing until you either throw them out or feed them to the birds. I wouldn't recommend the cereals that are really just big bags of sugar because not only do they look frightening in muffins (trust me), but they don't taste very good either.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Set aside. Peel, core, and chop apple. Mix milk, vegetable oil OR apple sauce, and egg, whisking well. Add wet ingredients, apple, and cereal to dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Do not over mix. Place in equal amounts in muffin tins and bake for about 15 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
If you want to freeze and bake later, freeze in paper liners in the muffin tins overnight and pop out into freezer zip bags. You can pull them out and bake from frozen (increase baking time). Or bake and freeze, defrost in the microwave for quick grab and go breakfast, in the car "meals, or snacks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Apples and Pumpkins

A trip to an orchard and a pumpkin patch is a must in the Fall.

The next day, I made All Day Apple Butter with part of the bushel of apples we bought. This recipe is VERY sweet, cut the sugar at least to half and taste and adjust to your preferences once the cooking process is well underway.

Since my dad had a 350 tree orchard, I know not to buy the first quality apples. I always get the ones that are a little battered. Still delicious, they're a little ugly, with leaf spots and maybe a bird peck or two. They taste the same and cost half the price!

I was able to score a bushel of Cortlands for next to nothing. They're a delicious eating apple with bright white flesh. The secret to really awesome apple recipes is to use a mix of many different types of apples, but since I got such a great deal on these, I couldn't pass them up.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Go Tom

A Walk in the Park

We love Minnehaha Park. Sea Salt closes on October 25. We had to get in one more trip there for Po'Boys and a wander along the Mississippi.
It was cold, Young One wanted ice cream anyway.
The leaves were beautiful, the fresh air delightful, and the time away from responsibilities was very much needed.
We'll return again in the Spring when Sea Salt opens again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Experimental Kitchen Adventures or Cooking without a Net

Every once in a while you've got to just turn your kids loose in the kitchen. My recipe for Graham Cracker pie will go down in history as the single best recipe developed and conceived by a four year old. I kid you not. Mom was busy, I managed to get the oven on thanks to the creative use of a couple of phone books and a step stool, and I was just getting ready to place said pie in the oven when mom realized I had been quiet long enough to be dangerous.

Oh, I'll share the recipe with you if you insist. I believe it was smashed graham crackers, water, and a couple of shakes of cinnamon sugar. I couldn't reach the chocolate chips that mom had stashed away for emergencies like PMS and kids baking.

Our 1970s oven was chocolate brown. I can still see it as my little hands reached for the dial. I wonder what setting I was planning to bake it on? Perhaps nuclear broil and that's actually what alerted mom to my presence in the kitchen.

Oh, but I'm wandering.

I'm a strong believer in learning to cook by feel. I once cooked with someone who followed a recipe for garlic mashed potatoes. She actually measured the five pound bag of potatoes she had purchased to see if they were really five pounds as the recipe dictated. I know that my cooking style would have made better potatoes in less time and with less kitchen utensil use. (Boil them, mash them, throw in some cream cheese if you've got it, sour cream if you don't, a little milk, and roasted garlic or fresh minced, or whatever, sprinkle with fresh chives, or not...Garlic Mashers for Six with Leftovers and no Kitchen Scale Use)

Mom taught me how to cook without recipes. Unless you're baking, it's not that hard. Baking requires a certain amount of measuring, but I still get experimental.
Young One loves to peel apples with our handy dandy apple peeler corer slicer (HDAPCS for short). He was bored. He needed something to do. I challenged him to make apple crisp, but do so without a recipe. "Impossible," my follow the rules, color inside the lines, guy says.

I was up for the challenge and feeling particularly patient, two things required of one if you wish to be in the kitchen with kids. I also was willing to put up with a moderate amount of mess.

So, I walked him through making crisp.

Apples-peeled, cored, and sliced-- he was all over this one.

"Now, they need to be sweet and a little flavored, what are you going to do?"

"Cinnamon and sugar?"

"We have a BINGO."

"How are you going to keep them from sticking in the pan?"

"Nonstick spray." Another task he loves, although I'm still wiping it off the back splash, thank you very much.

On to the topping. And we went back and forth on how to make it, what to put in it, how to mix it, etc. It was a fun time. And the result was pretty darn good. I encouraged him to put in some pears that were making the still life of our fruit bowl a little less attractive. He doubted this would work, but went along with my spirit of creativity. He added a dash of vanilla to the filling just because, and it was a delightful addition.

Basically, I told him that if you have courage and smarts, you can cook. And since he has both, he was downright successful.
The crisp was good. He now can impress his future bride with his talents someday and we'll move on to learning other recipes.
When we were done, he said, "Hey mom, this is like cooking without a net."

Why yes, it is.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm sitting here watching Castaway. I'm not feeling well, still in the denial stages of having the flu. Lounging on the couch between flipping the laundry from the washer to the dryer is pretty much all I can muster. I suppose I should soon move on to the acceptance stage, but I'm fighting it!
(Update, I never did develop full blow flu, I guess instead of Swine, I just had a slight case of Piglet.)

Castaway. Remember that movie? Tom Hanks, plane crash, stranded on a deserted island for years. Well, all I can think of is not what would I eat or drink, but how much I would miss books.

Now, I suppose that if one was stranded on a deserted island, your time would mostly be consumed with survival. Gathering food and water, tending your fire, trying to make clothing from palm trees,fish hides, and coconut shells (now I know you know where those would go). Remodeling your shelter and muttering to oneself would probably occupy the rest of your time.

I think after I got over the fact that I would be denied Buffalo chicken wings and cold drinks with lots of ice for a while, I'd probably start dreaming of books. I'm a reader. As a kid I would get up in the wee hours of the morning, several hours before school started, just so I could settle in with my feet on a heat duct, all wrapped up in my Holly Hobby bathrobe and read. I read The Hobbit, and the Sweet Valley High series. I read romances, Jane Austin, and James Herriot. I read mysteries, bodice rippers, and just about anything I could get my hands on.

Reading saved me. I got lost in the words and escaped a stressful childhood and school experiences that were less than joyful. The words helped heal my first broken heart and they helped me to see that the world was a much bigger place than I could possibly imagine.

I had to get special permission from my parents in order to read beyond the youth section of my public library. My mom doesn't remember that, but I do, vividly. Seems small town kids aren't supposed to rock the boat. But, I was a boat rocker alright--and I had already read through the few shelves of the young adult section. I knew our librarian by her first name and I loved how she would stroke the cover of the books as I checked them out, smile gently, and say, "Ahh, another good one." Then she'd stamp the due date (remember that?) and remove the card to file it in that magical place that only librarians knew about.

My house smells wonderful, I'm making a roast and root veggies, it's warm and dry and Tom Hanks is launching his first attempt at getting off the island. I'm so thankful to be on my own little island, Couch Key, and I'm thankful that I haven't been tried nearly as terribly as Hanks' character. I'm thankful that I've never had to be without my precious books.

They saw me through bad times, and they're still here for the good.

I'm reading 31 Hours by Masha Hamilton. It's a fascinating peek inside terrorism. The language is amazing. I'm savoring every word.

What are you reading? If you're not reading at all, why not?

Castaway Roast

Cause I just have a feeling that Tom Hanks craved comfort food while stranded on his island.

Sprinkle a rump roast with white pepper, black pepper, a smidgen of Cayenne, paprika, thyme, and oregano. Be relatively liberal with each. Sprinkle with a little soy sauce, sprinkle with salt, and rub it all over the roast. Put about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom of a roasting pan that's been sprayed with nonstick spray. Place roast, fat side up in pan.

Roast at 325 until desired doneness. 25 to 30 minutes per pound for rare, 28 to 33 for medium rare, 31 to 36 minutes for medium, and as long as you want for well done (well, not quite, but you know what I mean). Measure temp with an instant read thermometer. Let roast stand at least 10 minutes before carving.

Roasted Roots

Visit your local farmers market or grocery store and buy some of those weird looking veggies that end in 'ip. You know turnIPs and parsnIPs. Buy some big carrots, not the weird nubby ones in the bags. Buy the ones you actually have to peel. Really, it's not that hard, you can handle it. If you're really feeling brave, buy beets. Honestly, they're good. Try them. Then peel them all, chop into big pieces, toss with olive oil, seasalt, pepper, whole garlic cloves and your favorite herbs. I used rosemary this time and roast them until their tender. They'll get odd and wrinkled and unphotogenic, but that's ok, because what you're after is taste . And they taste divine. Young One still thinks the "white things are potatoes, right?" Sure they are.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hey, it's your Self, Remember Me?

A long time ago we promised never to call each other Mom or Dad. I find that so weird and kind of incestuous. I watched the Duggar family the other day and her simpering, "Oh, Daddy!" made me throw up in my mouth just a little.

You get this title, Mom, once you get pregnant. Nurses in your prenatal clinic call you that. The Target checkout guy calls you Mom when you're buying a stroller or car seat. Strangers who have personal space issues call you mommy and touch your stomach, despite the maternity shirt that says "Back away from the Belly Button".

The name tag doesn't really get tattooed on, though, until you're holding that little squirming bit of joy in the hospital. And it's cemented forever, once you realize in the car on the way home that people are actually entrusting you with another human being. "Wait, wait, do you realize we're clueless?" I shouted as we pulled away from the curb of the hospital.

I've been a mom now for twelve years. I've had every version of the name thrust upon me, from the first babbled "Ma Ma Ma Ma" to the whiny, eye-rolling "Muhhhhhuooooooooooooooooooom" of middle school. The other day, though, this name slammed into me so furiously that I got weak and nearly lost my breath completely. Tired after dealing with the flu and no sleep and while picking up Young One's homework at school, I introduced myself as, "Mom."

Thud. Stare. Blinking eyes.

And then, thankfully...laughter. Through laughter induced tears, I reintroduced myself to the school secretary, Keeper of the Gate, Knower of all Things Academic and Not, Lord of the Hall Pass, Protector or the Phone Lines, and Shield to the Inner Sanctum of Deans and Principals.

She's "Mom" too and totally understood. Thank God it wasn't Dr. Principal. She probably would have been obligated to call child protective services.

I think I'm a late bloomer when it comes to carving out me time. My neighbors, who have two delightful adult children, have been going out on dates every Friday night for 37 years. I have friends who knit (and actually like it), take classes, and schedule massages. I know people who fit in work outs, book clubs, and volunteer work that has nothing to do with a PTA. I know a couple of stay at home moms that have cleaning ladies--go girl!

I have the same twenty four hours that they do? Why can't I fit me in? Because, wearing this mom name tag, taking care of the house, and being selfless has a price. You don't get weekends (think about it, what jobs do you do on the weekends that you don't do during the week). You work mostly fourteen hour days with no overtime, no lunch break, and no pay. Most of what you do goes unnoticed. It's yawn inducing, repetitive, go postal kind of work many days.

Looking at some old pictures the other day, I saw me again for the first time in a long time. And it felt like a door opened. Screaming, demanding, or just taking, I'm going to get time for me somehow.

Want to join me?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Today, My Little Chickadee, We're Traveling to Belgium

One of my last boxes from Community Homestead CSA

I can dress them up just about any way you'd like, but my guys aren't touching Brussel sprouts. I don't know if it's from traumatic cruciferous vegetable exposure in the past or what, but they just aren't eating them.
More for me, then!
Brussels sprouts can be planted in the early cold Spring months and harvested in that late, cool Fall. I got a picture in my box note of my CSA workers picking them in the snow.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Simple preparation is all fresh Brussels sprouts need.
1 1/2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and yellow leaves removed-- or one large stalk fresh from the garden
1-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place trimmed Brussels sprouts, olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper in a large roasting pan. Toss to coat sprouts with oil, adding by teaspoonfuls to use the least amount of fat you can. Sprouts are ready for roasting when they are slightly coated with oil. Place on center oven rack.
Roast in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, shaking pan every 5 to 7 minutes for even browning. Reduce heat when necessary to prevent burning. Brussels sprouts should be darkest brown, almost black, when done. Adjust seasoning with kosher salt, if necessary. Serve immediately.
Sorry I don't have an after picture of this recipe.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Last of the Salad Days

Snow comes when it gets cold. Things don't grow anymore when it's cold enough to snow.

Meteorology 101, right?
Sadly, my CSA veggie boxes are coming to an end.

Our next box will most likely be squash and onions. And maybe a few things that were salvageable before the freezing temps and snow hit.

This last head of red leaf lettuce has been absolutely delicious. I'm not a fan of bagged salad, but even the thought of buying heads of lettuce in the grocery store has got me cringing. There's something about the fresh from the field flavor that's missing from the grocery store stuff. I haven't purchased greens from the store since last Spring. Winter is going to be long.
My mom always made homemade salad dressing. Not only is it a cost saver, but it's delicious. Ever read a bottle of salad dressing? Ever had sticker shock buying all natural or organic dressing? You've got to try making your own. It's a great way to keep your kids busy in the kitchen while you're making dinner. A little goes a long way, especially on fresh greens.

Low Fat Citrus Dressing

1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil, walnut oil, or canola oil--optional
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Mix all together and drizzle on fresh greens. You can toss the greens with strawberries, orange segments and almond slices or candied walnuts. Store in refrigerator. Keeps about 1 week.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Snowflakes in my Chili

Are you sensing a trend here? I've had snowflakes in my coffee, in my cereal, and today, in my chili.

A snowy day means chili in the crock pot.

Usually this time of year my crock pot is doing overtime heating cider for post leaf raking, warm you up nirvana.

My Favorite Chili

Very low in calories and fat, this chili tastes like Wendy's fast food chili, but better. Makes a huge (6 quart) crock pot full. Be prepared to freeze or eat for days.

2 lbs extra lean ground beef (or turkey)
29 oz can of tomato sauce or 4, 8 ounce cans
2- 15 oz cans of pinto beans, with liquid
2- 15 oz cans of chili beans, with liquid
1 Cup diced onion
1/2 Cup finely diced celery, optional--I add it when I have it
2 cans diced tomatoes w/chili peppers (like Ro-Tel), with liquid
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 small can green chilis (I didn't have 2 more cans of tomatoes with green chilis,so I subbed this and the can of plain tomatoes)
2 tsp cumin
3 Tbs chili powder
1 1/2 tsp black pepper

Cook ground beef, onion, and celery until beef is browned and cooked through and onions and celery are softened. Drain. Place in a large crock pot and add all other ingredients: beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with chili peppers, cumin, chili powder, pepper, and fill to the top with water. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Snowflakes in my Cereal

Again? Seriously, I know we Minnesotans are hearty folk, but this is ridiculous. Green leaves peeking through snowdrifts. Um, not normal.

I love the fall colors. If we get a fall that's simply green leaves freezing off the trees, I'll be so sad.

We're supposed to get more snow as the week goes on. I think I've already got Cabin Fever.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Snowflakes in my Coffee

Snuggling in for a morning nap.

A peek of what's soon to come.

Yes, that's in Fahrenheit!

Warm and hearty breakfast helps to face a cold day!

Now THIS is what people think of when they picture my beloved home state, Minnesota.

Actually, it's really quite rare to have snow this early in the year. I'll take it. It was a lovely scene to wake up to and is rapidly melting in the mid morning sun as I type.

Brisk mornings like this get me thinking of Scottish Oats and piping hot Kona coffee. Yum.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pig Diaries

Wed: "I have a 101 fever, you have to come get me." I hate the fact that I've gotten to know the school nurse so well this early in the year. Major guilt. He was without fever and fine yesterday and this morning. ARRRRRGH.

Wed night, all night: Cough, cough, hack hack, "Mom, I don't feel good." Tylenol, no sleep, ugh.

Thursday Morning: Water in the basement due to husband malfunction (He was repairing the sump pump and left it off. It's been rainy). I told him that if he intended to go to work, leaving me with a mess that he created and a sick kid, that he should be careful what he eats. He took the day off.

Thursday Afternoon: I don't feel good. I'm not hungry. Fever. Fever. Cough. Cough. Fever. "I'm bored." "Do your homework." "I'm not that bored."

Thursday evening: TV. Iron Chef Garbanzo Bean Challenge. (I kid you not.) "Can I sleep in your room?" Slumber party! Kid on mattress on floor. I think I actually slept. Yes!

Friday Morning: Fever. Fever. Cough. Cough. Cough. Half a pot of coffee.

Thankfully, he's a very healthy kid and so, this is probably his "vaccination" for H1N1. I don't want to play into the media pig panic, but it's scary. The flu kills every year and we need to remember that to put all of this into perspective.

Vaccine is hard to come by here in Minnesota and by the time more is available, we all will have had the flu anyway. It's frustrating because there's so much information out there and so much of it is getting slightly skewed by the media just to get better ratings. Do you vaccinate or not? Should you ask for Thimerosal free vaccine if you do vaccinate? Do you need to vaccinate if you've had the disease? And how do you know if you've had the bug their vaccinating for if the doctor's offices are telling you to stay home if you have the symptoms and that they can't test for it anyway?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back to School

Will the guilt never end? Been thinking about him all day...

Young One is back to school today. No fever, just a cough. He suggested it and was even cracking jokes on his way to the bus stop. So, I know he was ready.

I would have loved to tuck him back in under a blanket on the couch. Spend another day just lovin' on him.

Last night, he requested homemade chicken noodle soup. Homemade, with homemade noodles. I was so tired, I was practically cross-eyed. I just needed some inspiration.

I called my mom, the wisest woman I know. And her answer, "This is what he's going to remember. His mom stayed home and made him homemade chicken noodle soup, with big fat homemade noodles. And one day, he'll talk about it or call home requesting that you make it for him when he visits."

So, I'm not just making a home, I'm making memories. Guess I can handle that! So, I uncrossed my eyes and I made that boy some pretty darn good chicken noodle soup with some big fat homemade noodles.

Just what the doctor ordered. If this Jewish Lutheran Penicillin had anything to do with him feeling better and heading back out into the world today, then it was worth it. His face and satisfied slurps while he was enjoying it were great thanks last night too.

Feel Better and Get Back to Life Chicken Noodle Soup

Start by making my chicken broth recipe found here.

Strain, add chicken meat and carrots back into the pan, along with the broth. Allow to simmer while you make the noodles. If you have a gravy separator, use it to remove the fat from the broth.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter--I used Brummel and Brown margarine

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the beaten egg, milk, and butter. Knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. I just used my dough hook on my mixer. Let rest in a covered bowl for 10 minutes.
On a floured surface, roll out to 1/8 or 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired lengths and shapes. I just used a kitchen shears and cut into bite sized pieces.

Bring broth to a boil and drop noodles into boiling broth. Cook about 10 minutes, lower heat if liquid starts to boil over. Stir to keep noodles separated several times while cooking.

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Unspecific Flu Symptoms"

"If your child has unspecific flu symptoms, please report it to the health office."


What child doesn't?

Young One is home sick today. Supposedly if he has a cough, sore throat, or fever of 100 or above, we're supposed to report it to the health office. Oh, and if he has "unspecific flu symptoms".

What the hell are those?

Cough? Check

Sore throat? Check

Fever of 100? Nope, it's 99.9 So, technically, I don't have to report it, right?

Here's the deal. If they have those symptoms, they need a doctor's note to go back to school. If they have those symptoms, the doctor's office won't see them. They want you to just stay home. So, how do you get a doctor's note?

Talk to each other people.

He probably picked up whatever he has AT school. It's too late to try to contain whatever is going around. It's already there. The last time I talked to the school nurse, they were dropping like flies and her cots were full.

Video games, rest on the couch, juice, chicken soup, Popsicles, maybe a nap, read a little, cuddle with the dogs, Ibuprofen, warm blanket, cool wash cloth, hugs from mom, dumb movie, cartoons, and early to bed.

That's just what Dr. Mom ordered.

Still Crazy After All These Years

Look what $300 can get you at an arcade!

"Mom, they had these back when you were a kid?"

"I think they had them when Great-Grandma was a kid."

"For real?"

"Yes, even back in Biblical times, these glasses were a comedy main stay."


"They must have really needed it back then what with the flood, babies floating down rivers in baskets, and whales eating people."

You can't argue with genius.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cabin Fever

Happy Fall!

Every year I repeat over and over again how much I love fall. I always say it's my favorite season. And it is, until the first snow. And winter is until the first hints of Spring come.

Our little family cabin in the woods is most enjoyed in the fall. I love the smell of the fall woods, especially the sugar maples. The crunch of the leaves as you walk is delightful. Geese are honking as they head South in perfect Vs.

The cabin is on a gravel country road. The walk in either direction is beautiful. We often see Bald Eagles hunting, perched in the woods watching over the open fields.

The quiet here is unlike any other. Cell phones don't work. There's no electricity. Battery powered, hand-held dohickeys get left in the car for the ride home. They aren't needed here when there are dead trees to knock down, sticks to bang stuff on, and the woods to hike in.

Pissy Hissy Fit

"Oh, I do everything you do, I just do it and work a full time job too."

The next time I hear this, honestly, I'm going to bitch slap the speaker.

Life is about choices. I choose to drive a cheaper car, cut coupons so we can save for vacations, and make our home a happy one. Other moms may choose to work outside the home. I've done that too. Both are equally guilt ridden jobs. Seriously, though, gals, it's time to just let it go.

This fight. Well, it's over as far as I'm concerned. Every time a woman opens her mouth to bash another one, well we all lose.

I'm happy and content with my life and if you're not, then that's your problem, not mine. So, go fix it.

I heard the above quote in the grocery check out line. I must have been wearing my stay at home mom uniform for the speaker quickly summed me up and attempted to cut me off at the knees. I just laughed and said, my life is simpler and happier since I sold my business. I'm really happy just making our house a home. She didn't need to know that I'm not well enough to work. She didn't need to hear all the reasons that I don't. She didn't have to hear that just a few short years ago I worked twelve hour days and seven day weeks.

I did have some parting words for her. "Boy, I did the math when my son was young. I figured out that my salary would have gone for disposable diapers (as I noted in her cart), daycare, and convenience food (frozen lasagna peeking from a bag). Didn't seem worth it to me to be so tired and stressed out over so little."

OK, maybe I did contribute to the fight a little. I guess maybe I did verbally bitch slap her. Forgive me Lord, but my mouth got the better of me and maybe, just maybe, I saved her.

Or not.

She glared at me and I simply smiled and flashed her the peace sign. Turned my cart around and walked my mom jeans right out the door.

Have a nice day.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Being Content with No Apologies

Nobody likes to hear excuses. I think it's something that once you reach about forty years of age, you realize, nobody really cares about the whys and the wherefores. You realize the fact that if you're secure with whatever it is, then that's all that matters.

Let me backtrack. We have one child. Now in the Mommy world, lots of Mommas weigh each other's rap sheets. Two kids, average. Three kids, admirable. Four, wow. More than that, Lord help you and let us all bow down to your greatness. Have one and there's always this awkward pause of, "One and only, huh?". And then the silence gets filled with what you imagine to be the ramblings of the other person's mind reviewing all the stereotypical only child traits. Brat, spoiled, self-centered, smothered, hovered over, bow-tie wearing geek, nervous parents...

I used to offer all our reasons. Six miscarriages, being turned down by multiple adoption agencies, having the disease I have...

Making excuses, trying to justify to another just why I am the mother that I am.

Reality? No one cares. And in a little blurb of excuses like that, without completely hearing your whole story, they're left with a lot of unknowns. And they judge all those unknowns with what they have--they're own experiences.

I love the honesty of kids. "Why do you only have one boy?" I got this from a little girl just trying to figure out how it all works. She was satisfied with a short simple answer. "Because that's what we got." Her answer? "Cool." If we could all just be satisfied to give and receive such acceptance. From her, I've learned to shorten my answer. "We have one. Stopped at perfection."

Laugh laugh. True human connection. No excuses.

I have one. It's enough. I haven't always been completely happy by this and if another came along, we'd be thrilled. But, I'm content. Content with no apologies. Believe me, it's taken me a long time to get here and I'd love to shout it from the rooftops.

I've found it's easier just to live in contentment than to try to sway someone who carries their own set of experiences and their own set of baggage.

I know this is a sign of getting older. I've heard a lot of people say that when you get closer to forty, you become much happier and secure in yourself. I can feel that coming. And, Lord, please forgive me, but I'm holding on to thirty nine as long as I can.

Living your life with no excuses is close impossible, I know. We somehow feel like we have to fully educate someone, but the problem with that is they don't get all the hidden little details and events that got you to where you are. The audience for such truth telling is left to best friends, husbands, and really close relatives.

What it all boils down to is that we want to be understood. And to do that, we first need to be accepting and understanding of others.

Maybe we all weigh each other. I once read a really great book about power struggles with women. It helped me tremendously in dealing with my 65 all female employees. Personally, I think the book was helpful with dealing with men too, because they do all this weighing stuff too, just in a different way. We all want to feel like our burden is greater and our journey is much longer than anyone elses. If one person appears to have more burden than the other, the second will try to offer up more. And what ends up happening is a neverending saga of trying to one up each other. It ain't pretty. When you figure out how to give some up to equalize things, so much can be accomplished.

What excuses do you make? How are you working towards contentment?

Friday, October 2, 2009

My Little Guy

You get these glimpses of the grown up in your kid from time to time. Sometimes, it hits me hard. I'll be watching him when he's not watching me and, slam, I flash forward to driving, graduation, dating, college, marriage...

Hold on. Step back. Take it one moment at a time.

When I took this picture, I was quickly flash forwarded to graduation pictures. I don't know why. Perhaps I'm "psycho" as Young One once said when he was trying to figure out my mother sees all abilities. (He was three, I could see the gears turning in his mind as he contemplated finger painting the dog.)

Maybe I am psycho? Maybe one day we will take a picture framed by the branches of this tree. In the meantime, though, I'm going to continually remind myself to enjoy the ride.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Writing in the Dark

It's funny how we mom's fit our needs in with those of our families. I know a fellow writer who types while nursing her baby. I know another that hides in her upstairs closet with her laptop, stealing moments while her children search for her. I have this compulsion to write, but I can't seem to do it if the rest of my life isn't neatly compartmentalized into done to do lists and proactive planning.

Well, that's going to change. I've decided that I need to get me back. I spend so much time worrying and taking care of everyone else that I've lost quite a bit of myself. And I want me back. Writing makes me happy, so I'm going to figure out how I can fit it in. Nope, scratch that. I'm going to make it a priority and, at the same time, I'm going to become more of a priority too.

I've been clickin' and clackin' at these keys for years now. I've written many essays, been published under other names, and been working on a novel for a couple of years now.

I remember losing half of said novel when a virus hit my computer. Looking back, it's the best thing that could have ever happened to it. The rewrite has been tremendously rewarding and successful, but I push it aside, let all the squeaky wheels in my life get the grease. Ugh. It's frustrating even to put it down on paper. I'm not even sure I'm getting through.

I come from writer stock. My brother is a published author. My mom a gifted writer. I can rattle off a letter, a story, an article in very little time. This ramble has taken less than five minutes to get out. I get lost in words. I love to play with them. I've received several job offers since I sold my business to work with words, but the timing, the details, or my situation hasn't been ideal. And, honestly, what was really wrong with all these offers is that the words wouldn't be mine. They'd be smothered with do's and don'ts and must haves and parameters that just suffocate the creative energy in me. Not to mention the fact that I'm really not well enough to handle a full time job with full time responsibilities. And I guess, deep down, I want to write only for me, on my terms, and in my time.

I haven't received a dime for any of the writing I've done so far and that's fine with me. I haven't received any credit or accolades either, and that's fine too. My goal is not to earn a living through writing or to get attention or applause, but to get all the words that rattle around in my head down. Perhaps it's a bit of a compulsion, perhaps it's part of a healing process. Perhaps, I'm just a little crazy.

My blog has been solely mine. I don't spread it around, I don't publicize it and I have been very neglectful lately, mostly because I've been writing elsewhere.

Scary as it is to declare this. I want to write. I want to focus less on documenting my life and more on creating what I know are stories I need to tell. I also think I need to make some changes in my blog life. I think I need to branch out and share more to those closest to me and to others.

This is jumbled and not a great example of my writing style, but I'm excited and nervous and ready to focus more on what makes me happy. And what makes me happy is to write. And to write no longer hidden under someone else's name or behind the pages of a tiny blog. I want to own it, claim it, unwrapped and raw, but all mine.

Do I have the courage to click Publish Post? If you're reading this, I guess I do.

Nerf War 2009

Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!