Saturday, August 30, 2008

Yay! The Bear is home.

My little Bear is home! For a nice, long detailed account of what I've been doing this week, here...

It was a crazy week, where I learned you can frett away a pound and a half, and that it's possible to forget to eat, even if you are the type that loves food, like I am. Mmm.

It's the sort of week where you're thankful that you know you're neighbors and they don't mind letting your daughter hang out, so you can deal with things that need to be dealt with, knowing she's safe. Or the neighbors that let you carry their half-exhausted Turbo over to their house, dumping him off, bathless (sorry for the stinky toes!) hungry and overtired. The sort of neighbors' who ask how the little Bear is.

And while it wasn't the worst week, there are far worse weeks one could have, the first bit was very scary. The second was chaos. The third was his coming home, and happy.

But now he's home, happy, and a bit skinnier, his baby pot belly is gone! I guess that makes sense. He's alright, and Turbo and Bear are upstairs playing happily, as if he'd never left, as if Turbo didn't have three and a half days without his other half, and only a niggling little cough and some breathlessness remains of Bear's ordeal.

Yay Bear!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Granola Mom

I no longer know what 'being granola' means, and I don't care. I'm way past the age where labels actually matter, despite the media's attempts to label everyone into neat sub-categories... but that's an entry all by itself.

I do know that I was never going to be 'that mom,' you know, the mom that baked home-made snacks for their kids, packed neat little lunches, and made sure everything was somewhat healthy.

Except, I am that mom.

Last year, I left it all to the school system. My daughter wanted to buy lunches. Toward the end of the year, after I began to pay more attention to what Drama Girl ate, I decided I needed to pay slightly more attention. And I read the school menu. That pretty much sold me on the idea that the school lunches just are not nutritious. Oh sure, their are 'nutritious choices' but how many kids do you really trust to make those choices, when most of us, as adults, can't make them?


So this year, I've been packing her lunch and filling it with healthy snacks. The thing is, the healthiest snacks are pricey.

So I baked.

I set aside two hours on Sunday, figuring this is something I plan to do weekly, and baked an entire week's worth of healthy snacks that can be alternated with fruit (which, happily, requires no baking).

And what did I bake?

Honey-wheat muffins with sunflower seeds -- mainly for breakfasts... if you think you're kids won't eat healthy, HA. My sons tracked these muffins down from upstairs and through the paper bags that were concealing them. My only inkling they found and scarfed some down were the crumbs falling from Turbo's lips...

Home-made granola --this sounds a lot more complicated than it is -- it was embarrassingly easy)

Energy bars from that kick ass 'Foods You Crave' cookbook -- with a nice peanut butter layering

And that was it. These snacks and the breakfast muffins will take my kids through the entire week, with a fruit or two tossed in.

So yeah, I'm that mom now.

But you know what? It's cheaper this way, healthier, and it spares my kids the nutritional joke that is the school lunch menu... oh with one exception, because I'm not TOTALLY that mom -- Drama Girl can eat a hideously unhealthy lunch every Friday.

Oh, and if anyone has read Lunch Lessons... let me know.. I"m thinking of picking it up, because it's hard to creatively think up healthy lunches.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How Does My Garden Grow

It's a very small garden --
a container on the back patio garden, to be specific, but, it grows.... maybe not as well as some gardens grows, but it grows enough for me.

It grows...

Beautiful marigolds

Plentiful tomatoes

ready to ripen

Sweet and plentiful basil used quite frequently

a chili pepper plant that's spiced up a chili really nice

Bushy strawberry plants, sans fruit though

Rosemary picked almost bare and mint for yogurt sauces and pho

Oregano for anything and everything

Overflowing flowers

and lovely native blossoms

How does your garden grow?

Does it bloom?

How so?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Welcome To Middle School Momhood

Today is the second day of middle school.

I'm a mom of a middle-schooler.

Drama Girl, personally, seems a bit young to me, to be a middle-schooler, but she's the right age, even if she looks younger, and is smaller than the other kids.

So I dropped her off and she disappeared into the throngs of other walking news-flyer ads for J.C. Penney, Justice for Girls, and Kohl's. I lost her rather quickly, and drove home, wondering, where'd all the time go? How'd I even GET to be a mom, much less a mom of a middle-schooler (yes, I know the facts thank you, we're speaking philosophically here) and what happened to the kid I was, and how come, even though I don't LOOK remotely like I used to, what with aging and lines and crows feet and such, sometimes I FEEL like I used to, and if I feel like I used to, than how on earth did I end up where I am rather than where I thought I would be (granted, I never did have a solid grasp on 'where' I would end up).

And the biggest thing is, is it too late then? Not to go back, I mean, to middle school? That was a nightmare. But is it too late to go back to where I wanted to end up, from here? Can I do it?

I don't know.

I want to find out.

Watcha' think?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Tisket, A Tasket, Lets Hear it For Baskets

I love baskets. Baskets are one of the single most useful creations beside the wheel. Seriously. Now, you can have too many baskets laying about looking all cluttery and undecorous, but there is no such thing as too many functional baskets... I have lots of baskets, and it ocurred to me that for every basket I purchase, an area of my house becomes cleaner. Hmmm. I know you're thinking it seems silly to dedicae an entire post to inanimage objects, but these inanimate objects contain clutter, therefore, helping me keep my house clean.
So, in tribute, here are my baskets.
Meet the Baskets

Dragon Basket -- this fine hanging baskety fellow holds a Dragon Basket -- this fine hanging
baskety fellow
holds a few train tracks and stuffed animals in the boys' room.

This basket is the all-encompassing toy basket. There is no 'seperate bins' because four-year olds are not interested in clearly-defined bins that are toy-specific. What that means is, my boys aren't organized enough to appreciate organizational basketing.

Except for the train track basket. Tracks MUST have their own basket.

Here we have the hamper frog basket... look, there's a frog! Oh, it's just Turbo.

This blurry basket holds mom-things. Stay out. All of you. It's my basket. It keeps the sink area clean and free of clutter.

The dog basket... this holds all of Crazy's toys. The boys' 'chore' is to pick up dog toys at night. Every night they rush around the living room picking up dog toys and tossing them in the basket.

Everyone needs a remote-odd-video-laying-around basket.

A tisket, a tasket, a brown tree basket.

The 'Man Basket.' It's not a frou-frou woman's basket. It's pretend-leather, and dark, and manly, and such. Hubby McRed needed his own basket because he kept messing up my kitchen basket. However, I took the picture out. It had (gasp) mail.

The kitchen basket that contains our kitchen clutter. If it overflows, it must be cleaned out. It's close... real close...

My beloved shoe basket. This basket is the most essenial basket in our house. It holds all of the kids shoes and my shoes. The rule is only one pair can remain in the basket. In the winter, I'll get a storage ottoman and line the inside with a towel, for the winter shoes.

I also have a book basket, a papers-I-need basket and a few other storage baskets. I didn't talways have these baskets. And you know what? Before my baskets, my house was even messier than it is now!

So, yes, this is a silly post dedicated to inanimate objects, but I'll be, I need my baskets...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Back to the ole writing...

I intentionally took the summer off from my writing. I was getting too stressed, and writing nothing. I spent the whole summer forcing myself not to try to write, to just let things be...

Monday, I'm baaackk. Well, the writer in me is back.

You'll find me whining about my characters, writers block and struggles every now and again, along with the normal whines about how my whole family just so doesn't get it maaann...

I'll be wearing flannels, uggs, and a scowl.

I bet you can't wait!

Out of the mouths of babes


"Yes, Turbo?"

"Mom, sometimes kids don't need moms. But sometimes kids need moms." (smiles with a four year old's smile)

"Yes, Turbo, sometimes kids don't need moms, but sometimes kids do..."

/sob... waaahhhhh

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dear Snarky School Counselor's Secretary

My daughter has an IEP. She's had one since she was 9. I just would like to clear that straight up.
I am her parent, and I like to be involved. I'd also like to make that clear.

I understand you were in the middle of chatting with your BFF about adopting poor children overseas, and I'm sorry to hear that Ukranians are no longer adoptable, and I realize I'm interrupting your most interesting conversation, at 10:45 a.m. during your workday.

It's just that, when I asked you to take a message for the counselor because I wanted to touch base and have a short conversation with her about my daughter's IEP, you seemed to misunderstand me.
Somehow, you believed I needed a lecture on IEP Process 101.
You explained to me the IEP process, the same one I've been working with since Drama Girl was 9, but thank you kindly, for assuming I never actually bothered to read her IEP. But you didn't take down my message.
You then proceeded to explain how the special education teachers and regular teachers and principles from both schools all met together to have a nice little chat about my daughter and her IEP. I already knew this. It's mandated by law that I receive notice of and invitations to all IEP meetings and reviews, and I'll be damned if I never miss 'em.
I'm sure it surprised you, what me being a parent, and all, that I was disrupting what you perceived to be as sound process.
Anyhow, what you clearly should also know, since you know so much, is that last year, your counselor was in a foreign country, and didn't make my daughter's IEP meeting. Neither did I, although I did send an e-mail and discussed beforehand with her current teachers what I felt were important things that hadn't been dealt with before. The fact your counselor was absent is the reason I'm sitting in your office smiling through teeth that really want to gnash you to precious little bits, trying to get you to give me a piece of paper so I can deal with someone I really need to deal with.

That was all I wanted -- a simple piece of paper so I could write a note to the counselor requesting a brief chat about the transition.
I understand that you are a process person, so clearly caught up in the process that it never occurred once to you that all the while when you were discussing meetings about MY child with counselors and teachers and special education helpers you neglected to mention me, the parent. You seemed to think I was an unnecessary complication. My presence or involvement in the matter unnecessary. Your precious process handled it.
And you still didn't give me a piece of paper.

Well, Snarky School Counselor's Secretary, I'm afraid you've given me the impression we'll be seeing a lot of each other these next three years, so let me start all over and reintroduce myself properly.

I am a mother of a child with an IEP. I care about her education, the help she's getting or not getting, and what goes on during her day at school. I am an involved parent. I am not satisfied with any process that involves my child, specialists and teachers, but not me, the parent. You'll be hearing from me fairly frequently. Try to be less snarky. Oh, thank you, now, for finally giving me the piece of paper. Don't think to toss it. If I don't hear from a counselor soon, I'll be calling Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday... you get the idea.

P.S. By the way, regarding your precious process, let me assure you, no one can spin in and out of process, paperwork and red-tape than someone who's worked ten years in government. I know what process is. It's why I'm damned if I'm going to leave my child to it.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Summer Winding Down! Panic! Flee! Deny it!

This may be the first summer in a long time that I'm grumpy about it's inevitable (but not here yet) end. It's not over, but it's winding down.

It's been a GOOD summer for me. Relaxing, enjoyable, mostly stress-free, and filled with oh, FRIENDS, and NEIGHBORS, and CHILDREN to play with my own HORDE. I'm going to try to prolong summer into the very early days of September, but I fear September, for me, has meant the 'the end of summer' for too long. But hey, I can try.

So I've decided to do a wind-down-of-the-summer post.

First is my list of things I've learned this summer.
Following that is the comparison of what I SAID I would do this summer with what I ACTUALLY did this summer. It's not as bad as I thought it would be...

Now here's a list of things I've learned this summer:

  • My neighbors are cool (love the neighbors/friends).
  • I adore amaretto sours, I verily verily do.
  • I have a slight addictive attraction to badminton.
  • I may be more crafty than I thought --I will be blogging about the boy's room and my uber-crafty-cutesy ideas as I do them . It won't get me in a mag, but it SHOULD be cute).
  • It was easy to get rid of all high fructose corn syrup in the house, and follow the Healthiest Kid in the Hood guidelines.
  • My dog really is crazy.
  • My daughter does better with chores, schedules, and no television.
  • The chore chart is uber effective for four year olds.
  • Despite wanting to be cool, I'm really mommish, only without mom jeans -- really cool moms don't do chore charts, thought bubble boards, and obsess over how to get fish oil in their kids...
  • I looove sushi still.
  • I suddenly want jeans embroidered with animals in bright colors emblazoned on my ass -- motivation to drop another size.
Here is April's list of 'things I will do his summer' compared with what I actually did, and if I can finish it by the end of summer (ha).

1. Read insanely long classics

No. I instead delved into the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyers and am on Book 4. While I didn't delve into Anna Karenina or Crime and Punishment, I'm thoroughly enjoying this series, and can complete it by the end of summer. It could be a classic, what with it's total passionate and unrealistic love tale, so I can half-count it.

2. Learn how to do a website.

I can do this by the end of summer. I know enough to do a basic website using dreamweaver. I am not sure though, that I will get to cascading style sheets in the next two weeks. I'm moving this to the 'fall' list, if I do one.

3. Learn how to use new fangled camera which allegedly will be my graduation present.

WOO HOO. I did I did. I haven't yet conquered the manual settings, but I love love love this camera. And as soon as Hubby McRed changes out some computer parts, I'll be able to upload photos directly to the main computer, and not just my laptop, which I'm very excited about.

4. Get Bear to go in water.

A success. He is in a regular swim class with Turbo, and has no fear of the water. It's not his favorite thing to do, but he goes to swim class, and enjoys it while he's there. We'll be continuing swim lessons on a once-a-week basis through the fall/winter to keep them moving forward with swimming.

5. Get Turbo to go underwater.

Yes and no. He is doing better at putting his ears and head back in the water, and he's gone under twice, but he doesn't yet do it freely like it's no big deal.

6. Learn to swim, take three.

Um, yeah, maybe we'll be doing that in January again...

6. Help Drama learn multiplication table by heart (she's like, going to middle school... ack)

We'll be working on this next week. I don't know if she will remember it all, but we've made an agreement to work on it the final week before school.

7. Lose Ten Pounds.

Well, I lost a size, but not ten pounds. I did lose a few, but I'm the size I wanted to be by the end of summer, so I count this a success. I have a new goal now, one more size down. I know some people go by 'pounds' but I like going by 'sizes.' If I succeed, by the holidays, I will be at the size I want to be for, like, ever.... bwaahahaha... (and I don't cheat, if I have to suck in my gut, and move things around to 'fit' it doesn't count as 'fitting.'

8. Overcome fear of grilling.

Um, to be honest I totally forgot about this one. I am not afraid of grilling, for some reason, I've never learned the fine art of charcoal grills.

9. Paint two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen.

You'd think... truthfully, I've done a bedroom and a half. I'm working on the second bedroom now. I find it doubtful that I'll paint the kitchen, but it's possible I could get to one of the bathrooms. I'll be moving this to the fall list.

10. Raise beautiful container tomatoes, peppers and strawberries.

Well, my peppers and tomatoes are going strong, and I should get a decent crop out of them, but only one! The strawberries, alas, have borne no fruit. The problem, I think, with the strawberries is they keep sticking out runners, rather than growing fruit. I've gotten two teeny strawberries out of them. The plants are strong, but no fruit. My basil, rosemary, oregano and mint are doing well, but I had to ditch the cilantro and thyme.

11. Explore the green way walking trails (some of us have 'walking down walking trail' issues)

Um, yeah. It was like, too hot, and I'm a whiner in the heat. We'll do some of these in the fall with the boys and the dog... maybe.

12. Find cooler music to listen to.

Ha. Success. Hubby McRed couldn't take my dated music and updated my Ipod with Portishead and some other cool music I like a lot but can't tell you the name of.

13. Give up Diet Coke, take 323.

Done. All hail iced tea. It's got caffeine but isn't nearly as bad for you as diet coke.

14. Figure out how to program cell phone.

I can do this in an hour, but I just can't be bothered, but I want to change my ring tone and figure out how to email pics so I'll be doing this before the end of summer.

15. Keep house clean enough to enjoy summer.

Success! It's been 'clean enough' to enjoy summer.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Countdown to School

13 days left before school starts for Drama Girl.

20 days left before school starts for Turbo and Bear.

This means:

6 a.m. wake up calls (waah)

Smoothies, oatmeal bars and other wholesome, pre-thought-out breakfasts.

Time to make school lunches.

A new more rigorous, scheduled routine.

But most of all?

Two hours and 20 minutes of MOM ALONE IN THE HOUSE TIME.... WOO HOOOO

Now, here's a short list of things I will NOT be doing in that alone time:

Grocery shopping.
House cleaning.
Chores of any sort.
Stuff for the children.

This is a short list of things I WILL be doing in that alone time:

Visiting various coffee shops to write, or read.
Shopping for me.
Dancing around the house singing.

You get the idea.

AND it goes without saying...

I'll be missing the 'hood posse...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Lahdeedah's Hood Post

So The Munki and Me and Helping Garden Gnomes have both done a hood post.

Here's mine.

I love my 'hood man.

Okay, so lets clarify that a bit.

This is a nice little high-density community with two common areas (and next year, allegedly, a community garden... woo hoo!). This past spring and summer, the place has been overrun by hooligan children from the age of 1 up. Throughout this past summer, I've discovered Bear really really really really likes a little blonde girl, Turbo likes her to, just not really really really, he just really likes her.

They've also begun to acknowledge the existence of the 16 month old little girl.

And they play. Oh how they play. They run barefoot through the grass, dig in the trees, vroom on the little sidewalk which they are sure is JUST for scooters, chalk and skateboards and run into the 'castle' (gazebo) or just flop on the grass and look at the clouds. You can hear them laughing, giggling, fighting, crying, laughing and giggling in turns. It's great. It's what summer is meant for. Not being bored indoors moping and driving your mom/dad/whoever crazy. But being outdoors, barefoot in the grass, smothered with dirt and grime and little boy/girl sweat, and happy.

I love how some of the adults play badminton occasionally (seriously, folks, what's up? I mean, I count it as my aerobic exercise...). I love how we had a little bbq gathering with the neighbors. I love that I actually KNOW my neighbors, and their kids, and dogs, and who belongs to who and where, and all that jazz. I especially love that we all get along and that over the course of spring/summer they've morphed from neighbors to friends.

I love that on the other end of my area, the neighbors are friendly, and sweet, and know my boys and my girl and are tolerant of the pesky little fellas. I love how they know my dog and when she escapes, they catch her, and find it amusing. I love the good naturedness of them. I know the 'circle peeps' don't really know the other end of my row, but they are nice, generous people who love seeing the neighborhood alive, as long as the kids don't kill their flowers, maim the trees, or kick their dogs...

And as for Helping Garden Gnomes observation on the particular neighbor who shall not be named, well, I understand everything she wrote, and she's right. She's negative, and she always wants to come out occasionally and make her presence known, and sometimes she'll stop you and give you some negative energy, and sometimes, I swear I'm sure it's my imagination, but sometimes it seems she's beaming it out from her windows with secret/not-so-secret glares, but it's okay. If you think about it, it's rather silly. Because we don't have to return it (be the force Garden Gnome, feel the happy la la zen flow through you... hee hee). Yes, there will always be negative people, and occasionally, when they feel everyone is tuning them out, they make their presence known, but it's okay, because there's a group of happy positive people, and negative people aren't so upset with everyone else as they are with themselves. The only solution is to trivialize it, which I think I shall do, by simply smiling, and keeping it where it belongs, on her end.

And I hate giving this much space on a positive post to the negative side, but I feel it should be said, I want to put it out there, to make it as meaningless as possible. I don't want a loud intrusive negative brat to ruin our happy hood parade. So I've said it, I'm done with it, and all the glares, groans, and 'accidentally loud' comments will thusforth be ignored, until such time as an occurrence occurs in which I have to deal directly. And thusforth we shall not speak of the neighbor who shall not be named lest by speaking of said neighbor, we ourselves get sucked into the um, big negative energy vat in the ground... cuz um, it's filled with molten lava...oh how it burns...

And so, I just want to say,

I love my 'hood.
I love the circle peeps who became my friends.
I love the tree peeps who are great neighbors.
I love the silly dogs of the 'hood with their various crazy personalities. (Seriously, a french bull dog who thinks he's a mastiff? for reals?)
I love how my boys have kids to play with.
And I love amaretto sours when someone else makes them.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Obnoxiously Healthy Lunch

My new fave book:

The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood.

I borrowed the book, Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood from my neighbor, and as soon as my copy comes in, I'll return it, I swear... really... I promise...

.. but I'm totally sold.

Eating healthy is vital for kids. None of this 'they're young, it's fine crap anymore.
Saying that, I like the 80-20 or 85-15 rule, 80 to 85 percent healthy, 15-20 percent 'anything.' Which, lets be honest, is pretty darned good.
It's not easy. But I've started 'going healthy' a ways back (last summer I made huge progress) so it's a bit easier to take the next step.
We eat way lots more veggies. Less fast food. More salads. Now, I am checking labels for high fructose corn syrup and numbered dyes. I'm making healthier snacks.
I'm making obnoxiously healthy lunches for my kids.
And you know what?

They don't mind.


I cut up some fresh veggies, tossed in some arugula and red onions, cut up some tofu and put out some cheese.
My tip here is: to make it easier for the 'next' time, cut up/shred all the veggies and put the leftovers in a plastic bag... that way, the next time, there's no chopping.

Here are their tortillas: I bought the uber large ones by mistake... ooops, so I cut them in half.

This is the end result.

See that nice, bubbly cheese? And check out the overdose of zuchini on Turbo's half. Bear was all about the tofu and carrots. Yes, I said tofu.

And even the big kids like it... here's Drama Girl, finally getting that health food can be good food.

And you know what?

It was ridiculously easy. The boys loved putting on their own toppings. And there isn't anything in that entire meal that is bad for them. Even the sauce doesn't have the High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFC).

If I can do this, anyone can.

Extra health hint for free:

And snack time? What do you do with snackers?
Put out a bowl of 'snack whenever you want' items in it: stash with carrots, bits of rice cakes, apples and fruit, raw veggies, anything you don't mind them eating. And don't worry, they'll rarely get to the bottom of the bowl, but if they do? If you have power snackers? Well, raw veggies are near impossible to 'overeat' and just limit the fruits!