Thursday, November 22, 2007

Food Therapy

I just have to tell the world, or at least anyone willing to listen:


I just made the world's most delicious Brussels Sprouts!!!!!


I actually had to STOP myself from eating them so that there would be some left for Thanksgiving dinner.


Sometimes the little things in life, right?


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Nesting Instinct: Fact, fiction, or just a bunch of crazy cleaning?

By Karrie McAllister

Yesterday morning I woke up early. I then proceeded to do the laundry, clean the kitchen, rearrange my daughter’s room, and vacuum under all of the beds. I also cleaned my desk (an immeasurable task in itself) and cleaned the fishbowl.
And then I sat down to lunch.
Now that I’ve officially reached the point in my pregnancy when I am wearing exclusively slip on shoes, it appears I’ve also conveniently reached the point when I am painfully contorting my oversized body to put Mrs. Cleaver’s house to shame.
Officially, it’s called “nesting.” Unofficially, I call it “going meshuga.”
The “nesting instinct” is the term used to describe women in the latter months of pregnancy when they have the uncontrollable urge to clean and organize like the Queen of England was coming over for tea. It is defined as a sudden burst of energy that comes out of nowhere and causes women who are normally exhausted from carrying around a few extra dozen pounds to turn into Mrs. Clean. Maybe it’s just rumor, but women have been known to scrub their entire house, top to bottom, with a toothbrush. Others take on full-blown nursery renovations and complete them in record speed.
It’s not only humans that go through this mad dash of preparation just before birth. Birds obviously have their own nesting rituals, mainly building nests, before laying their eggs. And some studies have shown that all primates have these same urges in the last months of pregnancy, which I believe only further justifies the fact that I myself have been “going ape” of late.
They say it’s all done to get ready for the big day, to ensure that you and your other family members are well taken care of after the birth of the new child, when instinctively the mother knows that her time will be completely consumed. They also say the nesting instinct is caused by hormonal fluctuations and surging emotions. (Any woman will tell you this can NOT be true, that we as a gender never, ever have emotional swings, and that we are perfectly stable all the time and if anyone wants to challenge this, well, step into the ring, buddy!)
But going through this instinct for the third time myself, I’m pretty sure the nesting is just a good case of motherly intuition. Call it physical, call it emotional, call it whatever you want. It boils down to a mother’s sixth sense; the same one that knows when a child needs to wear a coat and hat and when the kids is eating his beans or is just hiding them in his napkin. Same thing. We just know best.
We mothers know that once the new baby comes, life will change. We know that laundry will pile higher than Mount Everest and that there will be many nights of eating cereal for dinner. We know that closets that are overstuffed to the point of being harmful will somehow drop the bottom of the priority list, only ahead of our own personal fashion and beauty sense.
And so it is with excited heart that we plan and organize and get ready for baby. Bursts of energy like this are not to be ignored—in fact, I don’t think it’s physically possible for us to overlook the urge to scrub our bathtubs. It’s healthy, it makes us happy, and frankly, our bathtubs can probably use it, too.
Unfortunately, the nesting instinct is mainly a maternal one and doesn’t extend to the paternal part of the family, who usually is equally exhausted near the time of the baby’s birth. His tiredness doesn’t come from the sleepless nights and constant neediness of the baby, but rather from the mile-long honey-do list that the mother wrote out for him inbetween loads of laundry and scrubbing the bathtub.

Holiday shopping builds big muscles these days

By Karrie McAllister

This afternoon I will partake in my November ritual. I will don my shoes and jacket and head out to the garage. I will find my leather work gloves and put them on and push the wheelbarrow out the side door.
From there I will go past the woodpile. I will go past the plants that need to be cut back. I will go down to the end my driveway and park my wheelbarrow in front of the mailbox.
It is time to check the mail.
Stuffed inside the little rounded metal box there will without doubt be more paper than I can safely haul back to my house without the aid of my trusty wheelbarrow. There will be a few bills from early holiday shopping and bills revealing the first cold snap of the year, but there will certainly be at least five-thousand six-hundred catalogs jammed in there.
I think the mailman must have super-human muscles from lugging these things around—I know I’m getting a good set of my own just bringing them into my home.
I’m also thinking that my name and address must appear on some master list entitled “People Who Have Actually Purchased Something from a Mail-Order Catalog,” because I receive, on average, two catalogs a day during the month of November.
They come in all sorts and sizes, each different and each displaying their own special products that they assume will take care of everyone on my Christmas shopping list.
For the carnivores, I have received a few “all-meat” catalogs. Page after page of raw beef and obscure things like elk sausage and my personal favorite, the tur-duc-hen, which for those who have not received this meat catalog yet is a hen stuffed inside a duck which is then stuffed inside a turkey. Mmmm mmm… but I’m thinking there must be a better name for it.
For all of those sports enthusiasts I know, I’ve got heaps of varieties of catalogs covering every sport known to mankind. Tennis, running, hunting, fishing, you name it, I’ve got a place for you to find it. If only everyone I knew was in need of sub-zero thermal underwear or a new snorkel, my holiday shopping would be a breeze.
But because I have children and I’m on another master list entitled “Suckers Who Actually Bought from an Extremely Over-Priced Toy Catalog,” we get these things by the dozens. Hundreds, even. And at least three-quarters of them are identical versions of another catalog; the only difference being a different front cover, showing a different kid, wearing a different colored construction hat and playing with a different set of blocks.
Yet somehow, my own kids go gaga over ever single catalog that comes in the mail.
They tear through them, pointing out the same exact toys that they went gaga about the day before in a different catalog, ooohing and ahhhing over how cool it would be to have a rock tumbler or an electronic drum set.
They then cut out the pictures of the, and I quote, “coolest presents in the whole wide galaxy.” Next they glue them on a piece of paper, making a visual wish-list that conveniently has the price and ordering information clipped away, not that I’d use it, but at least I would be able to have a good argument as to why they can’t have a twelve-foot teepee. (Because it costs over three-hundred dollars!)
When they are finished and their Christmas lists have grown to gargantuan proportions, I don my shoes and coat and work gloves again and load up all of the now skeletal toy catalogs back into the wheelbarrow. From there I haul them back out to the end of my driveway and leave them there in the recycling bin in hopes that they will be recycled into something better and more useful than one of the thousands of holiday catalogs I’ll get next year…maybe something like protective packaging for the tur-duc-hen…

Club MAW!

I wanted to post a little something about ClubMAW, a newer site of which I am a part. It's a very nice community with lovely women, designed to be a meeting place for other lovely Mothers And Wives around the world.
The site is set up into "parts of the house" divided for different discussions. For example, you can post about feeding your family in Your Kitchen. Get it?
I am the MAWderator for, you guessed it, Your Back Yard, where we discuss outdoor activities and recreation, etc. Nearly anything goes.

This site, www.ClubMAW.com, is just getting started. Please drop by and take a look around, and come and visit me "out back!"

Club MAW!

I wanted to post a little something about ClubMAW, a newer site of which I am a part. It's a very nice community with lovely women, designed to be a meeting place for other lovely Mothers And Wives around the world.
The site is set up into "parts of the house" divided for different discussions. For example, you can post about feeding your family in Your Kitchen. Get it?
I am the MAWderator for, you guessed it, Your Back Yard, where we discuss outdoor activities and recreation, etc. Nearly anything goes.

This site, www.ClubMAW.com, is just getting started. Please drop by and take a look around, and come and visit me "out back!"

Monday, November 5, 2007

Five little pumpkins, two bored kids, and one tired (and orange) mom

By Karrie McAllister

Five little pumpkins, sitting on a gate.
The first one said, “I know my fate!”
The second one said, “My top comes off with cuts.”
The third one said, “And they scoop out my guts.”
The fourth one said, “They poke my eyes and nose.”
The fifth one said, “And on the front porch I goes.”
Then OOOOh went the wind, and out went the light,
And the five little pumpkins just sat there, smiled, and rotted until the middle of November, and one until late November, but you really couldn’t tell it was a pumpkin anymore.

I love pumpkins. They are an essential part of my favorite season, which lasts from about the second week in October until the freezing rains start knocking down the corn stalks.

I love all sorts and sizes of pumpkins. I love the little tiny ones that you set all over your house for decoration to the great big deformed ones we rush to see at the county fair, and everything in between.

As a kid, we carved pumpkins every year. And this was before they had those fancy and safe pumpkin carving knives, so each and every October we all risked our fingers by using the biggest and sharpest knives we had, just like everyone else. I figure the guy who invented those fancy safety carving knives only had two fingers left on each hand but still loved his pumpkins.
But for all of the risk taking, it was always fun. We slung pumpkin goo around like we wouldn’t have to wash the sticky orange glue from off the walls and ourselves. And for a time in my ‘tween years, I even remember smearing the stuff on my face because I heard it made for radiant skin.

Then we sat for what seemed like hours, picking every last piece of guts off every last pumpkin seed, and we’d roast them and load them with salt and eat them all in one sitting.

It was good, not-so-clean, Halloween tradition, and I thank my parents for each and every memory.

But now, with my own kids, I find myself turning into a mean pumpkin persecutor. As much as I loved carving pumpkins, I utterly and completely dread the time spent doing it with my kids. It is an undertaking of massive proportions—and one I honestly don’t see myself having the patience for.

First the buying of the pumpkins, then the washing of the pumpkins. And because my children are still small enough not to poke out their eyes (or the eyes of their siblings) with even the safest of pumpkin carving tools, my husband and I end up doing all of the work.

And as if that wasn’t enough, after two scoops of pumpkin guts, someone will predictably declare that he or she is done with the pumpkin and, completely covered in the those two scoops, will want to go play with something else. Then, my husband (who is really not so particular about the cleaning of the seeds) leaves me and me alone to gather the seeds for roasting.

“And who will EAT the seeds?” said the Little Red Hen, who incidentally has a fantastic recipe for sweet and spicy seeds that she just can’t live without.

When it is all said and done, I am pumpkin weary and stained orange up to my elbows. But still, I haul their faces with the token triangle eyes and toothy smiles out to the front porch, sprinkle their insides with cinnamon, and light the tea lights.

We all go out and oooh and ahhh over the glory of the jack-o-lantern until someone asks for candy and we all go back in, leaving our new pumpkin friends to sit and gather mold and decompose until they are shrunken heads and have stained our front steps with their rot, just like they’re supposed to do.

Hey, you just can’t beat tradition.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween treats!

I usually save this blog for writing only, but when you've got kids like this, pictures are worth a thousand words. Or a thousand "awwws!" Are they cute or what?



Introducing Annie Oakley and the Red Ninja:



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