Monday, June 10, 2013

Like a Blast of Reddi Wip

The children's Dad came to pick them up for visitation this weekend, as usual.  But two hours in advance, he texted me, saying he'd be a half-hour late.  OK, whatever.  Then, while he was in the driveway, his tire was suddenly flat.  Like, totally flat.  Much to my frustration, he didn't seem in the least bit surprised.....which made me suspect he knew the tire had a problem.  Then (confirming my suspicions) he pulled out an air pump that he'd been keeping in the passenger seat; apparently nursing the tire along regularly.  The best part?  Even the air pump was partially broken.  Apparently, he'd been nursing THAT along for a while as well.  In the end, we had to drive him to Wal-Mart, where he bought an aerosol can of "Fix-A-Flat" (or whatever it's called.)  It looks like a can of Reddi Wip--but for your tire.  Amazingly, this worked!  The tire held enough air for him to drive on it, even though the tire was showing visible wear from riding so low on the rim regularly.  Afterward, when I asked him when he would get the tire replaced, he looked at me, perplexed, 

"But it's fixed now,"  he said blankly.

He drove away with my babies, and I ran into the house and tore all my hair out one strand at a time.  After that, I realized the episode hit a nerve.  He treated that tire exactly the same way that he always did our marriage. With the tire, he had known for a long time that it had a slow leak. He occasionally put enough air into it to keep going. When it suddenly deflated, he was shocked, and treated it like a surprise emergency, which then justified inconveniencing everyone around him.  I don't think it ever crossed his mind to actually fix the problem, and if anyone did suggest it to him, he just blew it off. Our marriage was the same: a slow leak that he never thought to fix with anything other than just enough air to keep going, or an occasional blast of "Fix-A-Marriage."

This makes me want to come up with some sort of witty remark to the effect that I guess I rank right up there with an old tire.....but nothing's coming to me at the moment except a desire to go eat some Reddi Wip straight from the can.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Homeschooling Journal 3/15

I've become an accidental homeschooler.  And by "accidental" I mean that my son just got expelled.  He's in second grade.  Awesome, right?  At least he got expelled from a private Christian school.  If he'd been expelled from the public school, we would be in much deeper kimchi.  As it is, he's just continuing the 3-generation family legacy of getting kicked out of Christian education establishments.  (Don't ask, the stories aren't as illustrious as they sound.  OK, maybe they are.  Some day I'll write about them.)

Anyway, this kiddo has some behavior "issues" that make him a little tough to handle.  (OK, at *lot* tough to handle.)  And one of his issues is difficulty with transitions.  It takes hims 8-12 weeks to acclimate to a new school or environment.  And during that time, there's a lot of stress and chaos and visits to the principal's office.  So, with about that much left of the school year, it didn't seem like a good idea to plop him back into public school, just so he could spend the rest of the year getting in trouble and trying to catch on to a different curriculum.  So, we're homeschooling until June unless I blow a gasket and hit the panic button; which I'm giving myself carte blanche to do, if I'm totally losing it.  Then (If I need a break from him) he'll go back to public daycare school for the rest of the year, so I can take a breather.

Homeschooling started off this week with a real bang.  For the purposes of this blog post, "bang" will be defined as the worst stomach and intestinal bug that I've experienced in 20 years.  Three out of the five of us have been hit so far, and not much schooling was going on.  But despite all that, I'm not deterred.  And today is the first day this week that everyone is well, and the two girls are both at school.

So, today, we are trying in earnest.  But since this wasn't planned, I don't have much in the way of curriculum going on, so I'm going to log some of what we're doing here.  These posts will probably be pretty boring, as I'm going to use them as a journal of sorts.  So, feel free to ignore the "Homeschooling Journal" blog posts.  Today, we

-Worked on understanding simple division using a worksheet (which he didn't understand) and finally using raisins on the table.  Jacob still confuses division and multiplication.  Using the raisins helped a lot.  Then, Jacob created a Lego scene, and used Legos to demonstrate division into groups.

-Found a free typing tutor online.  Jacob loved this, and worked on it for 45 minutes.  He is on the Home Keys.

-Did PE outside with the dog

-Started reading The Wheel on the School

Earlier this week (when I was sick) Jacob also:

-Played with a Wild West sticker book, and created a "Bank Robbery at High Noon" scene with the stickers.  Then, he wrote a paragraph about the bank robbery.  First he created a "sloppy copy" and then we did corrections, and he rewrote a final draft.

-He played a Lego battle with his brother, who was also home sick.  Then, he wrote a 4 sentence paragraph about the battle, including a rough draft, corrections, and final draft.  We are starting to talk about the "hamburger" paragraph concept.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What I Cooked: Brunswick Stew for a Crowd

My Dad's favorite.  Turned out fantastic--best i've ever cooked.  Made for his birthday, last night.  Huge pot.  Served 12 with ample leftovers.

Prep time: 30 minutes (all the chopping!)

Several pounds of meat (I used pork chops)
2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can V8 juice
3 cans chicken broth
1 can corn
2 small packages of frozen succotash
5 extra large potatoes, or 10-12 smaller ones, cubed in hearty chunks
extra frozen lima beans if you want them (there wasn't enough for me!)
a few celery stalks, diced

2 bay leaves
Poultry seasoning
Worcestire sauce and salt to taste
Dash of wine
salt and pepper to taste

Sear meat in some olive oil, while salting and peppering each side as you go
Degalze pan with a little wine or broth, then add the rest of the broth
bring to a boil and add all the various tomatoes
lower heat
Add potatoes and celery, and simmer on low until potatoes and meat are tender (several hours, if possible)
At the end, add all the corn and Lima beans, and boil until everything is tender, about 20-30 minutes
Before serving, remove any bones from the pork chops, and shred/cut up the meat to distribute evenly.  Remove any visible fat and bay leaves.  Salt and pepper to taste.

I used the various types of corn and canned ingredients, because that's what i had, but i could have substituted things if i needed to.  Don't use too much Worcestire sauce--that's why i had to add the canned corn (added sweetness), to cut down on the "sour-ness" because i overdid it on the Worcestire!

What I Cooked: Lentil Quinoa Tomato Stew

I'm starting a chronicle of my cooking on here--not because I'm a great chef, but because I'm a lazy, make-due-with-what-you-have cook, and I rarely remember my "recipes" even if they were really good.  If something works out, I'm going to keep track of it here, so I can repeat it.

This was INHALED by my kids, and I liked it too.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour on the stove

1 piece of meat (I used a large pork chop type piece that was double sized, yet flat)
1 Package Lentils
3 handfuls of Quinoa
1 can tomatoes with mild green chiles
1 can stewed tomatoes
A bunch of carrots, cut into large chunks
Spices: Cumin, "Foxpoint Seasoning" (mostly parsely?)
About 8 c. or water/broth, or more, if needed
Salt to taste

Sear meat on high heat in bottom of pan in some olive oil
Deglaze pan with some water or broth
Bring to a boil
Add remaining water and all other ingredients
Turn down burner to low
Simmer for an hour or more, or until lentils are soft and flavors are mixed
Salt to taste

I was out of broth, so I used water in this recipe, and it was still extremely flavorful.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Beyond

Every Friday, Gypsy Mama has a writing exercise called "Five Minute Friday."  Each Friday, she gives a prompt, and you write for just five minutes on that prompt.  In her words, "No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.  Unscripted.  Unedited.  Real."  The main rule is:

"1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking."

This is my first, ever attempt!  So please forgive the stream-of-consciousness.

This week's prompt is: Beyond


It's amazing how often things go beyond what we imagine; sometimes, in a better way, and sometimes in a worse way.  I guess I mean that sometimes things wildly exceed our expectations, our dreams taking on wings of their own, soaring high, high above us.  And sometimes things get much more out of joint--out of sync--than we ever thought possible.

I think of the ways in which I, myself, have gone beyond what I ever thought possible for me--maybe even beyond what I somehow thought was humanly possible.  I gave birth in my upstairs bathroom.  Almost completely alone; completely alone, in fact, until the very last minute, when a friend came in.  My strength has lasted beyond what I thought possible, as a single mother; hardly noticing now that i do the job of two people...or more.  I can't even remember the days when my husband was still here.  My muscles have performed beyond what I thought possible, now that i'm running again.  It's exciting to see how I underestimated myself.

Sometimes a nightmare can go beyond what you ever imagined possible.  How did the dysfunction in my marriage go way beyond the bounds of normal?  How did my pain and suffering in that relationship go beyond what I could have fathomed?  Looking at my wedding pictures, I had no idea....

I wish I always felt like God has gone beyond my expectations.  Sometimes, in moments of reflection and gratitude, I know He has.  Other times, if I'm honest, I feel like asking, "Is there really something beyond all this, God?"


Saturday, July 21, 2012

We're back! Happy Birthday, Mr. D

We're home from our 3 week trip to Colorado.  Sort of.  Adjusting to the time change is MUCH harder when you're coming back East!  So, we're on a late-ish schedule, but it's summer, so who cares!  I've also lost my cell phone, so I still feel disconnected, but I'm enjoying it in a way.  Things sure are quieter!

I can hardly believe that my oldest is turning 10 tomorrow.  How can my baby be hitting double-digits?  We went on a lovely "date" last night, thanks to my parents babysitting the other three kids.  And let me tell you, it was LONG overdue.  I can't remember the last time just the two of us did something together.  I always say, "I fall in love with each of my children again when we get one-on-one time."  And, boy, is it true.  If you don't do it regularly, try "dating" your kids.  It is a breath of fresh air, in the midst of the usual refereeing and multi-tasking. 

In keeping with my "no boundaries" motto this year, we did something radical--rock climbing!   I am pathetically afraid of heights, so this was big, folks.  And we went here.  Yeah.  IT ROCKED!!!  (he he he-sorry!)

My boy was the star.  Really.  All the other parents kept asking me, "Has he been doing this for a while?"  He's a novice.  That's just pure talent.  He didn't get those genes from me!

How can can this big boy with the man-feet be my lil' guy??  I remember when you were just two years old and running around the living room, laughing and clapping your chubby hands.  I thought it would never, never end.  How wrong I was.  I wasn't prepared for being so teary this weekend, but I am!  I love you, Dom the Bomb. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Packing for a trip....with the laundry in mind

This is a nuts-and-bolts post about being a mom, laundry, and packing for a trip.  Because I'm always behind on laundry, that's always where I have to begin.  For starters, here is my laundry room:

Ha!!!  Just kidding!  This is it.  I have a "laundry nook" that is about 5 feet wide, and contains a washer and sink, but no dryer.  I am lucky enough to have a dryer, however, it's about 15 feet away on the other side of the room...Not sure where they were going with that....

Anyway, I'm doing a lot of laundry as I'm preparing for a three week trip with all four kids.  We'll be staying in a hotel--courtesy of the fact that we can tag along with my father on business, and with just an "upgrade fee", we can get a 2-bedroom suite.  Now don't get me wrong, it will still be cramped, because there are still only two beds (for 7 people!) But we took this same trip last year, and it was great.  I just considered it to be "better than camping," and that made me thankful for the hot water and lack of mosquitoes, and less focused on the cramped hotel, kids everywhere, and sleeping on the floor. The other thing that puts the experience leagues beyond camping is the in-house laundry facilities!  So, while we're at the hotel, I like to throw in one load of laundry each night.

Now, about me and laundry: I'm a laundry sorter--always have been.  (If you're not a laundry sorter, then no need to read further!) My mom was (and is) meticulous about sorting the laundry into at least several different types of loads, usually to the tune of: lights, darks, whites, pinks/reds, and delicates.  That's a lot of different loads!  I know some moms who swear they get around this completely by washing all their clothes together on cold.  However, this has never worked for me.  The clothes still all seem to turn out gray-ish pink, and they don't get clean--especially the kids' clothes, which have caked-on dirt, food, grass stains, and worse.  Those need a hot water wash.  So, I follow my Mom's old protocol of running many different types of loads, and washing them accordingly.

Anyway, back to my packing adventures.  As I packed for our last trip, I tried an experiment that (at first) seemed crazy.  But it worked, and I plan to do it again.  I packed only items that could be washed in two separate types of loads.  And they had to work for ALL FIVE people, including two little frilly, princess-y girls, and two rough-and-tumble, football-playing boys, and, of course, moi.  So, I was surprised by what ended up evolving, but it worked! 

I only packed items that could be washed in either a "pink/red" load or a "darks" load.  That's it: no white t-shirts, no yellow shorts.  If the item was not red, pink, orange, black, gray, denim, or something similar--it was not getting packed!!  I was ruthless, but it actually worked!  It meant that the boys could pack any t-shirt that was red or black.  Any jeans or dark shorts/pants worked just fine.  The girls could bring along as much pink as their hearts desired, and I got to bring my gray yoga pants, orange tank top, and my little black dress.  We even packed underwear that was (you guessed it) black, pink or red.  Black sports bra?  Check!  It was easier than I thought it would be. 

This time, we have the added "complication" of being there over the July 4th holiday, and my kids want to dress "patriotic."  No problem!  They'll be wearing red and navy.

And now.....I've created this compelling Photshop masterpiece for all you Doubting Thomases.

My apologies to my white running socks.  You were the one, sorry, set of items that didn't work with my scenario.  But don't worry, this time I'm bringing you anyway.  I promise to bleach the heck out of you when we return home.