Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Deep question from a 5 year old

"Does Jesus want us to Trick or Treat?"
How do you answer that? My thoughts are bouncing from "why would He care?" "why would we even ask Him?" "Where did you get this idea from?" "what *would* Jesus do? Would He go trick or treating? I've never met any Jewish people who have ToT issues, so maybe he would. Would it fall under the 'rendering unto Ceaser' rule?"
Having thoroughly distracted myself in a matter of a second & sidetracked onto the Roman rule of Egypt before Cleopatra came to the throne and the SPQR mysteries, I fell back on the standard I-have-no-fucking-clue Mom answer.
"Well, what do you think honey?"
him: "I don't know."
me: "Do you want to go trick or treating?"
him: "yes"
me: "so we'll go trick or treating then"
Did I pass up a 'teaching moment' by doing that? A more on top of it mom would have used that question to discuss the history of trick or treating and why some people think they shouldn't do it and why that doesn't mean it's bad for others and then merge the whole thing into a little conversation about how we should all accept one another's differences and we're all still good people no matter how we see god.
I know this because I have been informed of this by several of these more on top of it moms, who told me that is exactly what they would have done. Me, I just brush the question aside & distract the kid with mental images of candy. The boy is going to be knocking on doors wanting to talk about people's 'relationship with Christ' by the time he is 14 if I don't get my witchy act together apparently, and I'll be too busy reading about the adventures of Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger and Marcus Didius Falco to notice.
I probably shouldn't have said that if he really believes he ought to be doing that, then it's ok with me if he does.
Bad witch! Bad mom! Bad bad witchy mom! :)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"those pumpkins make me angry!"

Mayhem says as I place the recently carved things on the storage bench outside. "why do the pumpkins make you angry?" I ask. "Because they are not scawy."

Apparently non-scary pumpkins can be a source of annoyance to a 3 year old. Who knew?

However, when it got dark out & I put lighted candles in them he was happy. They were now jack o lanterns according to him and were now scary enough for him to be happy. He says they are supposed to scare off the other pumpkin ghosts. It is interesting to see what bits of information are actually retained in a child's mind from what you have told them.

We got the pumpkins while at Fox Chase Farm on an outing with the boys school. It is a Christian school & I was once again amused to find my family choices being misunderstood. We don't do Easter baskets or the Easter bunny at our house & we don't do egg coloring or egg hunts (though we color them at Ostara). This bit of information makes people think we must be strict Christians & those who do the egg/basket/bunny thing tend to get a little defensive & justify/explain about how they only do it because it's tradition in the family & fun but of course the focus is on Jesus' resurrection. So Thursday I was treated to a casual semi-lecture on the misunderstandings of the symbols of witchcraft versus the symbols of Madison Ave by the school's headmaster, because Havoc, when asked "so, what sort of jack o lantern are you going to carve on that?" by the headmaster, replied "Pumpkins are only for pies."

My kids love the idea of making pie from a pumpkin(they are not too keen on the actual pie itself) and they have never had a jack o lantern before, despite getting pumpkins every year. This is not because I am a strict Christian or am having some sort of witchy reaction over commericalization of the holiday. It's because they have lazy & cheap parents. I'm the lazy one, DH is cheap. I'm not inclined to carve a pumpkin (its long & messy work & i am not very good at it) & DH is not inclined to pay for something that is just going to rot on the front porch (and pumpkins have remained rotting on our porch until Xmas in the past). Plus we usually end up with an assortment of weird lopsided pumpkins that don't lend themselves to faces (not with our level of artistic talent) We'll make pie out of a pumpkin because you get an edible result & you can whack into slices easily with no artistry needed

All this adds up to the headmaster taking Havoc's response to mean I am depriving my children of carved pumpkins because I believe even the commercial symbols of witchcraft are so evil they must be avoided. I found that damned amusing I must say. :)

We did find a way to make both pies & jack o lanterns this year. DH cut a hole in the top & very carefully scooped the flesh out of the sides, leaving enough to support the carved pumpkin. Between 2 medium sized pumpkins we got enough cooked, drained pumpkin meat to make one pie and we have 2 glowing jack o lanterns on the porch (where they will no doubt remain until well after Thanksgiving). we also have a buttload of pumpkin seeds. Half are a sweet spicy mix that could have been kicked up a couple notches and the other half are a garlic & salt mix that spent a little too long in the oven.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dinnertime Drama

My kids are picky eaters. I was a picky eater. I accept their pickiness as my just reward/punishment for my own behavior. My food karma as it were. My mother never said "I hope you have a child just like you." but it happened anyway. Given my own past I know at some point my picky eaters will decide they only like the most expensive things on the menu and will only eat half of it. So I have that to look forward to.

What do you do when your kids refuse all veggies and only accept apples & grapes for fruit? You hide things in the foods they will eat. An all protein diet or an all carb diet, which is what my kids vary between. is not a good thing. I considered buying Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld recently. But in the end, did not. I already own The Sneaky Chef,which is the same premise, and don't use it much, so another book on the theme seemed a waste of money I could otherwise spend on trashy romance novels.

Apparently I (and Mrs Seinfeld) am committing a horrible crime by putting eggplant in my meatloaf in place of breadcrumbs and spinach in the pizza crust and squash in the mac & cheese. At least we are according to a bunch of people on the internet, none of whom have to feed my kids. I've been reading about it & picky eaters in general at Parent Bloggers Network

I'm not sure what our crime is, something willful or negligent probably. "Just serve the kids tasty veggies and they will eat it." "get them involved in the process" "Offer it at least 15 times". Lovely advice, wonderful really. And if generalities were the answer to feeding my kids, then I wouldn't need the advice in the first place.

Serve the kids tasty veggies - what makes a veggie 'tasty'? Isn't that a personal preference? DH thinks broccoli is delicious in a garlic sauce, the smell of it makes me gag.

Get them involved in the process - my oldest son absolutely loves making pumpkin pie. He loves picking out the pumpkin, scooping out the seeds, cutting up the flesh for roasting, running the blender to puree it, mixing all the ingredients. Loves it, looks forward to it eagerly every fall. We just made fresh pumpkin pie Sunday. He took one bite & won't eat any more. he does this every year. wants to make the pie, but not eat it. And this PIE for gods sake! PIE! He does the same thing with eggplant parmigiana and vegetable soup. He loves the process but won't touch the end result.

Offer it 15 times - I have offered carrots, broccoli, parsnips, sweet potatoes, zucchini, asparagus, corn and beets to name a few, to my oldest son nearly every day of his life since he was 6 months old. Allowing for a variety of veggies in a diet that child has been exposed to all those vegetables, in various forms at least 240 times each in his life. He will not touch any of them, except maybe some corn on the cob, but only at a cookout where other children are eating it.

I've tried reward, punishment, encouragment, ignoring it. I've insisted on one bite, 3 bites, no bites, eat your dinner or you go right to bed, no dessert, dessert first, downplaying it, serving the uneaten dinner for breakfast, letting them eat nothing else that night, letting them eat an apple, bagel or yogurt if they refuse dinner, making foods they like, serving them whatever I want to make kid friendly or not, giving up & letting them live on PB&J for 2 days. For the most part they just don't eat 75% of what i make for dinner & are ravenous at breakfast

They are 3 & 5 and finickyness is a part of this stage. I accept that. I continue to offer a variety of fruits and vegetables with meals. I continue to make sure they see me and DH eating a variety of them as well. I make one meal for dinner, no special meals for the kids, though I make kid friendly things for dinner (that DH & I like) several times a week (pizza, meatloaf, spaghetti with pesto) And I hide spinach in the spaghetti sauce and carrots in the pizza toppings.

When I say 'hide', I don't mean I send the kids outside while I hurry up and steam, puree and add broccoli to the lasagna and then laugh to myself for putting one over on them. Most of the time they are in the kitchen while I cook. Very often they are helping me. They run the blender. They pour the puree into the mixing bowl. They *smell* it cooking. From a visual and nasal (Aural?) point, they know full well there is broccoli in that lasagna. I'm not hiding, sneaking or deceiving them actually. I am disguising it. I admit that. But I realize, from my own veggie issues that a great deal of the problem is textural. Crunch can be a problem, or the dreaded 'crisp-tender' so many recipes call for, or mushiness that still needs chewed (which I personally won't eat). Purees though go down fairly easily. I like raw broccoli and pureed broccoli soup, but crisp-tender broccoli has a texture I cannot stand & will only eat under duress (ie someone else made it and my kids are watching me). I serve them veggies in a variety of forms, cooked by a variety of methods, even while putting purees in what they are eating.

And I am not seeing how I am committing a terrible sin by doing this. What is wrong with making the things my kids will eat more nutritious? No one is advocating you just hide the veggies in a brownie and never serve ratatouille again. Just make the most of what you have to work with, continue to offer variety and pray to whatever god you believe in that someday your child will say "this broccoli is delicious Mom."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's pumpkin pie time

We had our first visit of the year to a pumpkin patch on Thursday. A little later than in the past but that makes for fewer pumpkins & gourds overall & that is a good thing.  Each of the boys got a small to medium pumpkin & a couple of gourds.  Tomorrow we are going to a Harvest festival where we will come home with fresh cider, lots of apples & possibly another pumpkin or so and yet more gourds.  Pumpkins are not included in the cost of this visit so we might yet escape.  On Wednesday we go to another pumpkin patch & the entrance fee includes a pumpkin & a few gourds and apples.  So I conceivably will have a half a dozen pumpkins, a dozen or so gourds and who knows how many apples to deal with.

DS1 is of the opinion that the main use for a pumpkin is pie. Whenever any asks him about carving a pumpkin he says "We're making pie!" Fresh pumpkin pie is a PITA and takes the whole damn day.  But we make it because he is actually suggesting eating a vegetable and it does taste good. 

DH decided this time that he would carve the pumpkins as well as scoop out the flesh for pie.  2 mediumish pumpkins will produce about 2 cups of cooked & drained flesh, if they are carved & enough flesh is left in them to lend stability to their forms.  But it does take most of an hour to scoop them out. 

Then you bake the flesh for an hour or so. After it cools a bit you puree it and let it drain for half an hour or so.  While it is cooling & draining you bake the seeds you have cleaned & seasoned, for about 90 minutes.  During this baking one of you takes the kids & runs into town to buy the cream & a pie crust that you forgot to get and takes the kids to lunch.  The other loads all the many dishes you have used into the dishwasher & gives the table, counter & floors a good cleaning because pumpkin slime gets everywhere.  After the seeds are done you mix up the pie filling, which as usual turns out to be about a half a cup too much for the pie crust. The pie bakes for 40-45 minutes & then has too cool.  

Having started this little odyssey about 10am, it is now nearly 4pm.   Today is also the VFW fish fry and DH fries hushpuppies for it, so he leaves before the pie is cool. Is it fair to not let Daddy have some of the pie with us? Well, of course it is but in order to get demons to eat dinner you persuade them that it is not and we all should wait to eat pie until Daddy gets home. The VFW thing is annoying because DH leaves me with a mess and boys who want Daddy, but a good thing because it means we can go eat fried catfish and hushpuppies for dinner & I don't have to cook. I've done enough work in the kitchen already today.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Merry Gently Used Christmas

Yep, that's right, my kids are getting pre-owned gifts for Christmas, unless the brand new version costs nearly the same. They are into the FP Imaginext stuff. We just got Havoc the new pirate ship for his birthday. Mayhem wants a pirate ship too.  Ebay has a couple dozen of them in older models at reasonable prices.  So I bought one.  It's in perfectly good used condition.  It's a different style & color than his brother's & that is all that truly matters.  I may buy a couple of the smaller ones as well, one for each boy. Then we can have a whole pirate fleet sailing the living room floor!  I'm also on the look out for a FP digital camera or near equivalent, though I am tempted to just get a cheap used regular digital, for Havoc and we're getting Mayhem a L-Max for his b-day in January.  I'll probably get that new but the games used.  Then there are the movies & books off of for the boys & other kids I need to get things for.  Yep, the queen of tacky, that's me - giving used books to other people's kids.  I must admit though that it's never actually come to that. I am prepared to do it, but I've always been able to find a new version for only a buck-ish more.  We're hard up for cash this year, so high quality used stuff is my option of choice. 

Sunday, October 07, 2007

thoughts after a couple glasses of wine

I've been reading regency era romance novels lately. Light, fluffy things, wiht romance, sex and mystery in them. Real mysteries - murder, embezzlement, nefarious schemes, spies, not romantic 'does she like me' mysteries, though you can't have a romance novel without those mysteries. I suppose it says something about me that I am mostly reading these books for the actual mysteries, not the romance, certainly not for the sex. I skip over the sex. Simply cannot cope with reading it.
Some things strike me about the romance novels, and i know some of it is publisher dictated. The hero must always be masterful, dashing, over protective and reluctant to admit he loves the heroine. The heroine must always be strong willed and sexually inexperienced. Even widows. Judging by the romance industry there were a hell of a lot of virgin widows of much older men in the 1820's. Or widows of men who simply didn't care enough to bring them to orgasm. Is it so terrible to have had a fulfilling sex life within a marriage before meeting 'the man of your dreams'? Can't you love more than one person in your life? Only one book in the literally hundreds of romance novels I have read in my life featured a fully pleasured widow as the heroine. One. 10 years ago I found that only mildly, very mildly annoying. Now I'm just irritated by it. and by the masterful men. Seriously, I'd bitch slap half of them if they treated me the way they treated these women. Oh it's all explainable & understandable in context but it still pisses me off. But my favorite author Stephanie Laurens writes really good plots with engaging characters, which is why I care enough about them to be pissed off & irritated, so I read anyway.

The other thing is more of a an adjective problem. Heroines almost always have 'heart shaped faces' and several times during the course of the book, when they set eyes on the hero their 'lungs seize'. So I am left imaging that to be a true romantic heroine you have to be an asthmatic with a really wide forehead.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

note to self

When dividing cake batter between a single round layer and 9 cupcakes, pour the cupcakes first. 

Tomorrow is Havoc's 5th birthday.  He asked for a single layer cake for his little family party tomorrow and cupcakes for his classmates on Monday. He wanted a vanilla cake and vanilla icing. He doesn't like chocolate.  We colored the white icing orange at his suggestion, though it is really more of a peach color because he insisted on putting more red in.  Then he & Mayhem put colored sprinkles on the cake and cupcakes.  Half that cake is a solid mass of sprinkles due to Mayhem just upending his dish onto it.  I'll be sweeping sprinkles off the floors for days to come.

DH is camping tonight. He went with us to the zoo today and then he and a friend went north to camp & me and the friend's family went south home.  We stopped at a diner on the way.  I firmly believe that I should never take more small children into a restaurant than there are adults. Every child under 6 needs a watcher, an adult to sit next to to head off silverware sword fights, napkin shredding, salt spillage etc.  Havoc by himself can behave well. My friend's son, by himself can behave well. Together they are decently behaved as well.  Add Mayhem and my friend's daughter and all hell breaks loose.  My friend decided to read the paper rather than watch her kids so I end up spending the whole time saying "Stop it" "Put it down" "Don't do that" ad infinitum. I ignore my kids when they act up in stores. Some stores we just leave, but in grocery stores they get sat in the cart and I get on with my shopping. The grocery store is far enough away (and groceries enough of a necessity) that just leaving & coming back at some later date really is not an option. People can give me 'the look' & I am oblivious. It's just my turn to be That Mom, with That Kid in the grocery store. Another time it'll be someone else's turn. But I just can't look at restaurants that way. The tables are too close, you can't just avoid me & the little PITA I have with me. DH or I will remove the offender until he calms down if a tantrum is happening or issue a stream of 'orders' if the two of them are playing too loud & vigorously. But when I am by myself I can't just up stakes & leave when my child decides to freak out because the wait between the order and the arrival of food is longer than he wishes or perhaps 3 bites into the chicken fingers he is no longer hungry & wants to leave. I have to track down a waitress, arrange for the order to be canceled or packed up & paid for.  I suppose I could simply pick up the offender & drag the other one off out of the place and not pay.  Perhaps the people glaring from the table across us would be willing to pick up my tab?  How much is my kid's silence/absence worth to you?

Mayhem was tired and hungry. So he was restless and cranky while we waited for the food. Havoc & the girl kept shredding napkins & getting progressively louder & louder. The youngest boy spit water all over the place.  Why didn't we leave? I have no freaking idea.  It wasn't my car. I wasn't alone. Because alone, I'd've gone to the Taco Bell Pizza Hut drive through, got the kids a pizza to split and waited until we got home to find something for me to eat.  Taking Mayhem into a restaurant in that condition, without direct supervision & constant interaction available is never a good idea. 2 parents are required in that situation.  Going out to eat was originally my idea, but as we started looking around for a place & it became clear Mayhem was on the edge of a nap I started suggesting drive through. Then we found the diner.  We were practically the only people in there thank god, but I'm sure the other 6 people would have preferred we went elsewhere.  I agree with them.

The boys are going to bed early tonight.  They had a big active day and were not able to sleep in the car on the way home, so I am thinking about 7:30 I'm getting them in the bath & with luck they'll be in bed by 8 and I can get a glass of wine & a book and lay in my bed and read for a few hours.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Bit of a bummer today

I quit 2 of my CTs.  I've just felt so blah & so totally lacking in motivation & inspiration the past month or so that I don't think I'm doing a very good job for them. I didn't want to quit.  I've been dithering about it for 2 weeks now, but today I made myself sit down and send the PMs. Just fading away with no word is not my style. I really enjoyed working with them which is why it took me 2 weeks to bite the bullet and resign.  I just haven;t been in a scrapping mood lately & my time to do it is limited. I've spent that time re-reading an old mystery series & right now have no real desire to do anything else.  I go through these phases every now & then.  I'll be back scrapping soon enough, I just don't know when & it's not fair to the designers for me to just hover in the background not contributing.

I've remained on Jane's team.  She does PSP scripts & right now isn't doing too many, so I don't feel like I am not living up to my obligations.  I can test a script while not feeling creative enough to do a layout.

I downloaded PSPX2 trial Monday. I don't know....I;m not seeing anything that makes me want to buy it.  But since I haven't really done much scrapping I'm not really giving it a fair test.  Plus I need another GB of RAM.  I'm keeping an eye on prices.  I just missed a deal for 1GB fr $59. I need 2 1GBs.  The gig of RAM I currently have is in 2 512MB chips.  So 1GB chip gets me 1.5GB of RAM.  The computer can run on that, but if I can find it for around $65 or so I can get 2. 

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

what to do with myself

I have all this free time.  A whole 9 hours a week completely childfree.  I feel like I ought to be doing something useful. Something more that surfing the web. I do clean but that takes about 20 minutes,maybe. Im thinking I need to do something that earns money, because having free time while your spouse works is just wrong. I don't really think that, but that is sort of an underlying thing...I *should* be earning money again or I should be doing something to get me on the path to earning money in 2 years when the kids are both in school full time.  I suppose if I was spending the whole day scrubbing the floor on my hands and kneed or washing the clothes in a bucket with a washboard & mangle I'd feel differently.  I'd be *working*.  Right now I am killing time. I suppose I should get some of my folks stuff up on eBay and reapply for my work at home phone agent job.  I used to work in telecom.  I was a call routing specialist.  It was a good job. Techy but not geeky.  Interesting, challenging & something you could walk away from at 6pm.  I've always liked that in a job.  But a 9-6 job just isn't in the cards for me for another decade or so.  So it is time to start over, rescript my role yet again.  What do I want to be this time? Home appraiser? College professor? (I have an MA) Go work in retail for the discount? decisions decisions......