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Showing posts from 2008

My outstanding dinner-- it can be yours, too!

Staying at the family cabin, I originally packed frozen corn dogs for dinner. But after perusing the randomly-stocked freezer and pantry, I came up with this fabulous meal. Really, even the husband liked it... (and it's dairy free!!) Still thinking of a title: 2 fattie boneless pork loin chops olive oil 1 medium sliced onion some dried rosemary and marjoram 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes 1-2 cloves garlic Sear the snot out of the porkchops in a big skillet in olive oil. Remove once they are mostly cooked and cover with foil. Then saute the onions in the remaining oil for a few minutes to give them a head start before adding the tomatoes, spices, and garlic. Cover and cook a few more minutes and then return the chops to the pan. Cover and heat through until the chops are done, but not over cooked. Pink ain't all bad. Served it with pasta smothered in olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and dried parsley along with a salad. If anyone tries it, let me know! Or if you've got a clev

This is for you, GiGi...

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For this year's Wigilia dinner, the kids and I baked challah bread. (Jewish, Polish, tomatoes, toma-tohs...) This shot is for you, Grandma! We did you proud-- it's delicious! And I would have pushed the hair out of my face if the bread wasn't going to slide off the rack. Promise.

The inevitable holiday part 5: The Holiday Fever

‘Twas the night before Christmas And all through the dwelling, My poor back was aching And my ankles were swelling. Motherly duties are Never quite done. At this time of year We provide all the fun. Who does all the shopping? Who does all the baking? Who wraps the presents And keeps kiddies from shaking? Who hangs the stockings? Who strings all the lights? Who fills Advent calendars For twenty-four nights? Who decks the halls? Who keeps the tree wet? Who helps make the presents that The grandparents get? In our home, it’s me. The mother, the wife, Who runs herself ragged With holiday strife. And yet for the sweating And weariness, I fear I do the same thing Again every year. What keeps me returning To this disorderly place? It’s not the gray hairs Nor wrinkles on face. It’s not the fruitcake Or a great love of shopping, No, instead it’s something Else that keeps me hopping. It’s that little feeling That glows and that gleams. It’s the reason for Christmas And what it all means

Why our house looks like this for Christmas

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We were fortunate enough to travel for Thanksgiving, but unfortunately didn't have much time to decorate for the holidays. After the neighbors poked fun numerous time (in person and harassing via email) Ryan had enough. He promptly went downstairs and flung two wads of Christmas lights in our puny tree out front. Half of them twinkle, half of them don't. And we leave them on 24/7 so our neighbors can see them whenever they look out their windows, day or night. I've had other friends try to guess what the display is, if it is supposed to be snowflakes or stars hanging in the tree. "Nah, it's just a wad of lights" I tell them. Eat your heart out, Clark Griswold.

Our Christmas Poems

So I thought I'd put a bit of literature into our annual Christmas program. I had the kids, each separately, help me write a poem. They gave the ideas, I made them rhyme. Look out, Jack Prelutsky! My Sister Baked the Christmas Cookies By Mom and Toby, 2008 My sister baked the Christmas cookies When no one was around. My mom was downstairs wrapping presents And didn’t hear a sound. My sister got creative With her culinary skills, And when I think about what she made It just gives me the chills. First she took a giant bowl And filled it with orange juice And then added from the freezer Some ground up meaty moose. Then she found some snack mix In the pantry, way in back, The marshmallows were all crusty And the cereal all cracked. Then some flour and some sugar, And eggs that totaled twenty. I sure hope these tasted good, Because she was making plenty! Then she mixed it with a spoon With lots of song and lovin’ Then scooped it into tiny balls And put them in the

Merry Christmas from the McAllisters!

Instead of spending money on stamps, we thought we'd blow it on fruitcake and send out this neat video instead. Enjoy a look back at our 2008! Happy Holidays to all!

The Inevitable Holiday Part 4: A slice of heaven? (and the results are in!!!)

We’ve all heard the one about the poor fruitcake who, while he had plenty of dates for the Christmas party, nobody loved him. He was just a little too nutty. Seems like fruitcakes have been getting a bad rap for ages. Literally. A bit of research shows us that the whole idea of preserving fruit with sugar and then baking it into a so-called “cake” dates back to ancient Eygpt and the Roman Empire. Some historians say that a form of fruitcake was considered an essential food for the afterlife (and many today may agree!) A bit later in history, the Crusaders were said to pack the sturdy little cakes in their saddle bags on their long and arduous journeys. Apparently there weren’t many other foods that could withstand that kind of travel, and beef jerky and Twinkies hadn’t been invented yet. Keep moving on in the history of this tasty holiday delight, and arrive in Victorian England, where those people just loved their fruitcake. They loved it so much that they started a custom that said i

The book...

I've got a handful of my books available if anyone is looking for a last minute Christmas present. Just shoot me an email.

The Inevitable Holiday part 3: Shopping spirit

Somehow, every year, I think I’ve got all of the time in the world to get my Christmas shopping done, and then, once the turkey digests, I find myself running frantic through the stores…with every other person within a three county radius. Shopping during the holidays, as I see it, can be approached in two very different ways. There are those who have the spirit, and those who smell like it. Let’s examine the first type, the Holiday Shopper: The Holiday Shopper lives for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving with all of the fabulous deals, and still sees the month of December as one big shopping extravaganza. She thinks of shopping as a hobby more than a job, and is also the person who wears the Santa hat while gleefully waltzing throughout the stores, wishing everyone a happy holiday season and the occasional outbreak of Jingle Bells. This person loves to shop. She usually checks many items over before deciding what to buy. She carefully holds up each item and thinks about the pers

Jingle Bells...WHO smells?

Shamefully enough, I had to google the lyrics to "Jingle Bells, Batman smells" today, only to find out there are a lot of different versions that I have never heard. Some nicer than not, but it stands to raise a question: Do we teach our kids these revolting rhymes? Does Batman really smell? And what about Deck the halls with gasoline??? (not to mention the ones that are unfit to post on the blog...) Thoughts, anyone?

The Double Whopper

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OK, for some reason Ryan is just so impressed that I ate an entire Double Whopper the other day. He told me I need to blog about it. So here it is, the whole greasy story... We stopped at a filthy and disgusting Burger King/gas station on the way home from Thanksgiving vacation because he had to pee even though the kids were quiet and the baby was sleeping. Between trips to the bathroom (aka. "small room of fecal coliform"), I had to quickly decide what to order. And because I am still the nazi breastfeeder and the babe has a milk allergy, I quickly scanned the photos of the food for something that didn't have cheese. And for whatever reason, and it could have just been my bad eyesight from playing Webkinz too much, I thought the #2 meal didn't have cheese. So that's what I told him to order for me. "Sure?" he said. "Yeah," I replied and took a deep breath and headed into the bathroom. When the food came, the kids asked why I ordered s

The Inevitable Holiday, Part 2: Your Leftover Personality

For most people, the one very guaranteed part of the holidays are large family gatherings. And if your family is anything like ours, there is a copious amount of food. I’m sure the first Thanksgiving was a feast, but I’m also pretty sure every aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent and otherwise had to bring their signature dish in large quantities. As if one family can eat that much green bean casserole… So as sure as the turkey starts hiding in early November, there will always be a heaping helping of leftovers after the Thanksgiving dinner. The question is then, what to do with these remaining bits of delicious food. The older I get, the more I realize that people attain their own Leftover Personality, and it subconsciously dictates what to do with the spare sweet potatoes and the surplus stuffing. Not sure what your Leftover Personality is? Take this handy quiz… 1. Do you bring a bag full of old Cool Whip containers and plastic baggies to the family gathering? If so, give yourself 2 poin

How to cook a turkey, kid style

Ellen’s Tercy Recpe 2008 (Made by Ellen, first grade) 1 cup of stilt 2 cups of green benes 3 cups of ptatos 5 cups of corn 4 cups of fower 7 cups of apple juse 6 cups of water 8 cups of Pumpkin 10 cups of bnanas 9 cups of peper 11 cups of cinimin 13 cups of spinach 12 cups of asparirgch 14 cups of shuger 16 cups of tmatos 15 cups of butter 17 cups of coffe 18 cups of milk 19 cups of persie chees First you torun on your ovin to 16 dgerese. Thn stuff the turkey with tmatos and stuf the trkey with bnanas. Then wipe the turkey with butter and shuger. Then put the rest of the ingedtis on top. I love turkey. My turkey is 19 feet long. And 19 feet wide. Toby’s Turkey Recipe 2008 (As dictated to mom) INGREDIENTS: 1 big flop of yogurt some cookie dough Apple juice hot dogs wishbone Glob of ice cream 1 bone of turkey Put them all in a big bowl and grind it up. Add the finishing touch: chicken noodle soup. And a 105 pound turkey. TO COOK:Cook it in the fireplace at zero degrees for 146 ho

The Inevitable Holiday, Part 1: Sole Food

Note: The newspaper requested holiday themed columns from now through the end of the year. Why not put it in a handy, dandy format? This is the first installment... Even though the aisles were decked with the hall-decking decorations long before Halloween, it is now -- with the onset of cold weather, snow, and Thanksgiving -- that we officially welcome the holiday season. And so in honor of this wonderful time of year, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce my readers to things they really already know in a little series I like to call “The Inevitable Holiday.” I personally start feeling the stress of the holidays long before I need to, wondering how we’re going to get it all done, fit it all in, make it all special, and be holly jolly, by golly, all at the same time. My hopes in this next series of columns is to assure people (and mostly myself) that we’re all dealing with the same things this time of year. We’re not alone, and maybe if we realize that and all help out a

Quote of the day

Ellen, singing: The Earth is our mother, we must take care of her... Toby: Stop singing that. It doesn't make sense. The Earth can't be our mom. How would it give us drinks? Oh yes, it's nice to be loved.

what a day.

We have had numerous lights on the dashboard, so before the holidays roll around we thought we'd take in my Silver Spaceship to get tuned up. And, a chunk-a-change later, I was happily rolling along on my way to Wally World for a shopping trip. I was organized and I was ready for tackling the super giant and all of its scuzzy patrons. I was not ready for a completely flat tire in the parking lot. So a call to AAA later and a running in and out of the store trying to keep the kids warm, the man showed up to fix the tire right smack dab in the middle of the Walmart parking lot. He told me that the tire THAT WAS BRAND NEW and put on YESTERDAY had a stem issue and I had to take it to the dealer to be repaired. I stuffed my shopping list, my super organized shopping list, into my pocket and loaded up the kids and drove on my little spare for 45 minutes where we sat in the waiting room and played with the Indiana Jones swords that I had to purchase to appease the youngins. Finally it was

Memoirs of a Gen X snacker turned mother

I was having one of my especially apathetic parenting moments and when the children asked me if they could do something (I don’t know what it was, I wasn’t paying attention), I said, “whatever floats your boat. Whatever creams your Twinkie.” I fully realize that the second line of that sentence is not the most commonly used version of that phrase. I actually thought it was something the fellow Girl Scouts of Troop 1166 made up about 20 years ago, but a quick trip to the Internet tells me it’s more than just crazy tent talk. It’s an actual saying. That said, it’s still not frequently used and I’d guess that most people haven’t heard of it. Therefore I wasn’t surprised when my kids gave me that look—the one that says “you know, we actually do listen to you sometimes, and that didn’t make any sense.” It didn’t take me long to realize just what they were confused about: My. Children. Have. Never. Eaten. A. Twinkie. When I figured this out, my mouth hung open and a little drool came out bec

Individuality

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Check back a few posts and you'll see a little guy pretending to be surviving in the wilderness. This is the child that literally leaves a ring around the bathtub every time, the one who I have pulled leaves out of his ears and his underwear. The one whose feet I've actually had to scrub with pumice to get clean. And today, in his own little world, he gets dressed by himself. He emerges from his room like this, dressed up for school in his button down shirt (all-the-way buttoned and tucked in), too-small pants, dress shoes, and he also slicked his hair down with water. (The pen and paper in his pocket are so that he can look like his Papa, a man with a habitual habit of carrying around a complete office full of paper and pens in his breast pocket.) "Don't you think you'd want to go on a date with me?" he asks. Well, naturally, yes. I would certainly go on a date with him. But now I wonder just what little girl at preschool he's going to hit up for a night

These booties are made for walking

She woke up yesterday a crawler. And by the end of the day, she walked! A full transformation, all of which occured before my very eyes as I was folding laundry. How memorable... Watch her grow up too fast and see her walk on youtube here .

Raphie I can't get up!!!

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Colder weather has definitely arrived here in Ohio. I can tell because I'm starting to bundle the baby in such a fashion that rivals Ralphie's little brother in the Christmas Story. Here's proof:

The most amazing calendar

I don't like to use this blog as an ad service, but I just received my EcoCalendar in the mail and have to spread the word. This things is beautiful! Something like I've never seen, and better than I expected. I can't even describe how very cool it is, just check it out at www.ecocalendar.info . k.

Creamy pumpkin soup

Here is my very own self-concocted recipe for pumpkin soup that I taught at the community center tonight. Think: pumpkin is a squash... pumpkin is not always a pie. I love this soup, especially around Thanksgiving. It is incredibly flavorful and will impress your friends and family, guaranteed. If you're not a turnip fan, leave it out and just use 2 potatoes instead. It's still great, and will taste a little less like a fart. :) Makes 6 servings 1 Tbl olive oil 2 Tbl butter 2/3 cup chopped sweet onions ¼ cup chopped shallots 2 garlic cloves 1 potato, peeled and diced 1 turnip, peeled and diced 1 parsnip, peeled and diced 3 cups chicken broth1 can pumpkin (15oz.) 1/3 cup dry white wine (optional) 1 tsp paprika ½ tsp dried thyme (optional) ~1 cup water1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided salt and pepper to taste chopped fresh parsley (optional) roasted pumpkin seeds (optional) 1. Melt butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven or large stockpot. Add onions and shallots and cook for 5

C'mon over!

Please visit my new blog, www.karriemcallister.com , for all of this good Outdoor Mama stuff!

C'mon over!

Please visit my new blog, www.karriemcallister.com , for all of this good Outdoor Mama stuff!

Making Richard Louv proud

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My son, the mighty fort builder, has again moved outside with the onset of Indian Summer. We would be up to four primitive dwellings, but our lean-to collapsed today. Thank goodess for the following: The Leaf Pile Fort And his own creation, the "Fort for the fire in case it rains" Fort: (note the proud pointing: " I made THIS ")

Little boy and little girl ingredients are still questionable

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I can only sit on my couch between the hours of 9:00PM and 7:30AM. This is slightly distressing because it is a very comfortable couch and I do miss sitting on it. Especially since I’ve been spending most of my time sitting IN it. Every night when the kids go to bed, I collect the cushions and pillows from the couch, neatly reassemble them, and collect and fold the blankets that are draped here and there. And every morning, before I even get a chance to sit on my own couch, my son rips them all apart to construct his very own “survival fort” of the day that is just barely big enough for my head to clear. Every cushion, pillow, and blanket available goes into building these dwellings. Once the walls and roof are erected, he packs his survival bag for the day which contains everything he believes, in his nearly-five-year-old wisdom, is necessary to survive in the wilderness. These items include (but are not limited to): plastic swords and guns, rope, string, gloves, binoculars, sticks,

Mom Writer's Literary Magazine!

Woo hoo! I've just launched the Fall/Winter 2008 issue online. It's a big honkin' issue, full to the brim with good reads. Every good mom should read it. We've got a different online format this time, so my column doesn't appear in it's entirety online...you need a real subscription for that. But we're also running a winter special, so for $15 bucks you get a whole year worth of mom writers. Take a look! http://www.momwriterslitmag.com/ . signed, the weary webmaster

C'mon over!

In lieu of this blog which is completely non-identifying for myself, I started a new one. Stop by at www.KarrieMcAllister.blogspot.com . I will post columns as usual, but also a bunch of other stuff-- photos, everyday thoughts and stories, recipes, etc. Whatever comes to mind. You just never know.

H-A-Double L-O-W-Double E-N: That spells holiday memories

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Knee-deep in glue trying to concoct a Carmen Miranda hat and stuffing candy corn in my face, I heard the inevitable question come out of the mouth of my kid: “What is Halloween?” “Uh, er, well, uh, it’s complicated.” According to the History Channel, Halloween dates back to an ancient Celtic festival, over 2,000 years ago. They believed that November 1 was the first day of the dark winter, which they related to human death and the end of the bountiful summer harvest. So to commemorate this boundary between the worlds of life and death and keep the bad guys from slipping back to Earth and ruining the next year’s crops, they lit big fires to keep them away. Not only that, but they dressed up in costumes of animal skins and heads to supposedly help predict the future. Later, when Christianity came along, the Pope of the day declared November 1 “All Saints Day” and later November 2 “All Souls Day” when people had parades and dressed up as angels and devils. Together, October 31 (when th

FUN WITH FIRE!!!!

OK, I know one day very soon I'll break down and try this myself because I just can't stand not having this totally awesome trick under my belt. (Let's face it, my exploding coffee creamer only gets me so far...) I saw this on Food Detectives (Food network) and looked around online to prove it. And it's true. Grapes, when cut a certain way, will explode into flames when put in the microwave. Apparently the electolytes in the little fruit arc between the halves (you have to cut the grapes a certain way) and the thing shoots up in flames. Science is so cool. Anybody ever try this? Anybody want to bet how long it takes me before I set my house on fire? (FYI: I found a video of it here: http://vimeo.com/1761680?pg=embed&sec=1761680 )

My totally insightful thought for the day

I am constantly struggling with explaining things to my kids. It's nearly impossible for them to understand the adult world, but I have to admit the following description of a "bad mommy day" is nearly perfect. Ellen to Toby getting ready for a shower while he runs around naked and pretending to sing opera at 8:45PM: Just be good so mommy stops yelling so much today. Me: Have I really been yelling all day? Ellen: Well, not ALL day. But a lot of it. Me, tempers rising as Toby is still not behaving and now my daughter has called me out on my crappy parenting: Well let me explain it to you this way. Imagine you wake up and someone hands you a piece of homework and you have to do it. You have to do their work! And every time you finish one problem, they erase it. Over and over. And over and over. And then, when you finally get something finished, they hand you another piece of homework. All day long, you can never get anything done because you're busy not accomplishing an

Stress-inducing school photos: Just tuck in a t-shirt?

It was pretty fitting that the forms came home from school because I was just noticing how much dust had formed on last year’s school pictures. Now that we’ll be getting new ones, I suppose I can hold off on the Pledge until I replace the toothless, hairless smiles from last year with brand new ones. School picture day is extremely insignificant in the context of the entire world, but in the tiny world that my children and I live in, it is a huge deal. They are very concerned about what they are going to wear to be preserved in childhood history, and I am very concerned about ordering enough copies for all of the grandparents, not to mention remembering to send the money to school that day. Of course, there are other things I worry about too, all which stem from the disastrous memories of my very own school picture days. In first grade, the cowlick that still exists on the right side of head was in full force which only complimented the bangs that my mom cut at a too-steep angle. A

Piano Practice

Ellen (aka Carmen Miranda) practices for her piano program... CLICK HERE to view.

Darn the first entry -- THE BOOTS.

I hope to, years from now, sift back through the archives to view the very first entry of this blog. And most likely, I'll be disappointed because reading things that you've personally written aren't quite the same as reading what someone else wrote. Just like coffee and salad always taste better when someone else makes it. It's one of those worldly mysteries that not even Nancy Drew could figure out. I'm starting this blog in lieu of my old web site which is now defunct because the whole economy is going somewhere in a handbasket. But this [free!] alternative gives me one great place to post everything and anything I want, combining my old blogs, SmallTownSoup.blogspot.com and OutdoorMama.blogspot.com. But to put something of substance in this first entry of this new blog, I thought I'd tell a bit about the boots you see in the logo. This photo was taken before Annie was big enough to wear shoes, so there's only two little boots following mine. Toby's

Piano Practice

Ellen (aka Carmen Miranda) practices for her piano program... CLICK HERE to view

Too funny not to share

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Toby is almost 5 years old, and last weekend my husband, Ryan, took him out squirrel hunting for the very first time. They sat silently in the woods and when the time was right, Ryan pulled the trigger and the squirrel, still with a nut in his mouth, took his final breath. Ryan went to retrieve the little guy and left my own little guy sitting silent at the tree so that they could wait for the next squirrel to hop by. When he got back, Toby picked up the dead animal, petted it, and at one point even rubbed his cheek on the soft fur. Ryan was very impressed that Toby wasn't afraid of the dead animal. When it came time to dress and clean the animal, Toby was right there to learn. He happily scooped the guts out with his little hands. Again, Ryan was very impressed. Examining all of the body parts, Toby asked "is this the poop-hole, dad?" "No," answered his Dad, not really ready for what came next, "that is his weiner. And that there are his, uh, er, his nuts.

Too funny not to share

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Toby is almost 5 years old, and last weekend my husband, Ryan, took him out squirrel hunting for the very first time. They sat silently in the woods and when the time was right, Ryan pulled the trigger and the squirrel, still with a nut in his mouth, took his final breath. Ryan went to retrieve the little guy and left my own little guy sitting silent at the tree so that they could wait for the next squirrel to hop by. When he got back, Toby picked up the dead animal, petted it, and at one point even rubbed his cheek on the soft fur. Ryan was very impressed that Toby wasn't afraid of the dead animal. When it came time to dress and clean the animal, Toby was right there to learn. He happily scooped the guts out with his little hands. Again, Ryan was very impressed. Examining all of the body parts, Toby asked "is this the poop-hole, dad?" "No," answered his Dad, not really ready for what came next, "that is his weiner. And that there are his, uh, er, his nuts.

Look out, folks—there was a well-timed spark

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The little fire-making workshop came just at the right time because lately I’d been really getting bogged down by the daily doldrums of being a mom. Stuff was starting to get to me. I’d practically break into a sweat about the smallest things, like I had totally lost perspective on what really matters in life. Not that fire really matters, but I found myself worrying about what the other moms would say if I fed my kids white bread and at what percentile the baby clocked in. It was getting out of hand, and I knew it when, driving to my little fire-making workshop, I bombarded my husband with my apparently annoying life. And if I would have been a fly on the wall in my own conversation, I probably would have thrown up. “The weather these days is so annoying. The school rule is that it has to be 60 degrees before you are allowed out without a coat, and I know this because I got scolded for not wearing a coat one morning, and now it’s like 59 degrees when we leave for school and the kid ha

Of bald eagles and cheerleaders

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You’re never too old to learn something, right? Playing a child’s board game recently, I have learned two very interesting fact. For one, I never knew that a group of twelve or more cows is called a “flink.” (And I am anxious to add it to my next Scrabble game!) Secondly, I learned that the bald eagle when it is a young bird, looks nothing like a bald eagle. Like most birds, they start off kind of funny looking with grayish down that covers their little bodies. At about three or four weeks, the little birdie begins to grow its secondary coat of gray down, and by the time the little dude (or dudette, as it may be) is around 6 weeks old, it will be nearly as large as its parents—but will just start growing in its black feathers. Not white, black. In other words, no bald head. The white feathers that grow on the head and the tail and that are so characteristic of bald eagles don’t grow in until sometime during the bird’s fourth year of life. In other words, eagle kids don’t look anything

Learning things the hard way prove to be real life lessons

This past week I learned, the hard way, that one should not roast hot chili peppers on the same day one goes to the dentist. This is, of course, because of that last minute rush to the bathroom, five minutes before your appointment, where you scrub the garlic bagel out of your breath and hope to trick the dentist into thinking that you floss more frequently than a full moon. Because when you are rushing to roast hot peppers and then floss your teeth, you tend to be a bit lazy with the whole rubber glove/hand scrubbing thing, and you inevitably end up running around the bathroom, fanning your face, spitting, and yelling “my lips are on fire! My tongue is on fire!” Eventually the burning subsides and you go to the dentist and while laying there in the chair, mouth pried open with multiple instruments that suck and scrape and grind hanging out, you sit your nine-month old baby on your lap in the hopes to keep her occupied while your mouth is sucked and scraped and ground. And to keep h

Trying to decide whether or not to keep the change

by Karrie McAllister I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately. Maybe it’s because I see and hear the word 5,873 times a day in the political campaigns, or maybe because I’m just finally realizing how much I am surrounded by it in my daily life. I’ve always considered myself a person who likes change. I was reassured of this when I went in for a haircut last week and told the beautician to “do whatever” and that “it was only hair, it would grow back.” She took a good five inches off of my eight inch hair, leaving me surrounded by a pile of my own clippings. Looking in the mirror at my new self, I smiled. “You like change, don’t you,” she said, speaking the truth. I was reassured of how right she was when I had the sudden urge to rearrange my house. I find I do this frequently, even if it’s just moving my kitchen table (which is pretty much a square) a simple ninety degrees. I also adjust the angle of my couch for no real reason, or maybe I’ll switch the end table from one side

Insider tips, straight from the trenches of parenthood

It’s time to break out the itty-bitty socks and diapers again in our family, and in my current state of total and utter chaos, I’m glad it’s not me. It’s my sister-in-law, which will give me my very first chance to be an aunt, and my children to have their very first cousin. We’re all so excited we can hardly stand it. Not only will we be able to empty out some of the baby clothes we’ve accrued over the years, but it also gives us older, more seasoned moms, an opportunity to relive those glorious newborn days. You know, the ones where the kids are too small to dress themselves in ridiculous clothes, be picky eaters, and roll their eyes at your every word. Besides, it gives me a chance to reflect on all I’ve learned as a parent deep in the trenches of parenthood. There’s only so much to expect when you’re expecting, but what comes in that fateful fourth trimester—the one that lasts about 18 years – is the hard part. And even though my parental wisdom only gets me as far as the eleme

Make new friends, but keep the old…

by Karrie McAllister Guaranteed, all of the scout alumni are finishing the title with “one is silver and the other gold.” In fact, some might even be attempting to sing the ever-so-popular round, even as a solo. I, myself, sang that around many a campfire when I was a kid, with the new friends I made way back in Girl Scouts. Someone would direct us in small groups by waving their arms around in an attempt to appear like a real conductor while looking more like a flying bird, and as sure as the s’more is tasty, we’d sing the round. And even though it was just a silly song so many years ago, I now know what real truth rings through those few simple lines. Today I had breakfast with a relatively new friend. We both amazingly ditched our children, leaving them in the fragile care of our husbands, and discussed the big issues in life over coffee over French toast. It was fabulous. The conversation, that is, as well as the French toast. It’s not often that two people connect on such an

dirt baby

You know how some babies just hate the feeling of grass on their bare legs? Not mine. She loves it. I just spread a blanket out in the lawn under the side maple, where the grass is sparse in the late summer weather. There are rocks and twigs and dry leaves, so I thought a blanket would be somewhat appealing. I hauled out toys and plopped little Annie down in the middle of it. It lasted for about, oh, two seconds. She crawled off and into the grass. Crunched leaves and waved sticks. And now she's digging a hole in the mulch, happy as a lark. The toys sit untouched as usual. Fischer Price should figure out how to market a stick toy or capture the texture of crunching leaves. Until they do, the real thing will work just fine. Probably even better.

dirt baby

You know how some babies just hate the feeling of grass on their bare legs? Not mine. She loves it. I just spread a blanket out in the lawn under the side maple, where the grass is sparse in the late summer weather. There are rocks and twigs and dry leaves, so I thought a blanket would be somewhat appealing. I hauled out toys and plopped little Annie down in the middle of it. It lasted for about, oh, two seconds. She crawled off and into the grass. Crunched leaves and waved sticks. And now she's digging a hole in the mulch, happy as a lark. The toys sit untouched as usual. Fischer Price should figure out how to market a stick toy or capture the texture of crunching leaves. Until they do, the real thing will work just fine. Probably even better.

Cardomom, cardomom, I love cardomom

There was a recipe in the newspaper today and to my suprise, it didn't contain dairy! I had to try it. And as usual, half-way into the preparations I realized that I didn't have half of the ingredients. So i tweaked here and there, and the result was pretty darn good! Dairy-free spice cabinet applesauce cookies 1/3 cup shortening 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1 egg 1/4 cup cinnamon applesauce 1 heaping cup flour 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt heaping 1/4 tsp of: cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardomom 1/3 cup raisins 1/2 cup chopped pecans Stir (not with a mixer!) everything together by hand in a giant bowl. Drop by rounded teaspoons on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 375 for ~10 minutes. Makes 2 dozen. MEANWHILE, make yourself some coffee and after putting the grounds in the filter, sprinkle in a little cinnamon and yes, cardomom for a fabulously simple spiced coffee! And if you haven't tried cardomom, I recommend it highly. It's insanely expensive

“Squeak, squeak” and before you know it, unit calculations

My husband left for work pretty early that morning, so I didn't get a chance to explain. But the email came through shortly after he arrived at his desk: "The heating/cooling people are coming out to check the furnace in a couple of weeks. It's making a terrible noise. I don't know why, because it's not even running, but for a few bucks, it's better to have it checked out and tuned up before the weather turns." And while I'm all for a pristine HVAC system, I had to laugh when I read his email. This was my reply: "Uh, well, that squeaky noise is the rock tumbler we set up in the basement. I heard it this morning too, only I thought it was a cricket." Besides chuckling at the emergency call to fix the furnace, I giggled a bit at myself for the whole rock tumbler ordeal. When I was a kid, an only child, mind you, my dad constantly shoved science down my throat. Example: for my 8th birthday I got one of those electrode kits where you fol

A natural playground?

Tonight I went to my first PTO meeting. It was against my better judgement, but I went because I thought it best that I enter the school with a positive connotation, rather than the pesky mom I feel like I've sometimes become. But low and behold, there may be a reason I was there. One committee that is looking for volunteers is the playground committee-- a group of people who are going to help plan the playground at the new elementary school that is being built. Maybe this is my chance to put in a HUGE plug for "natural" playground equipment. What's natural playground equipment? Great stuff. Trees to climb and run between. Rocks to turn into mountains. Logs to walk across. etc. The creative benefits are enormous. A slide is a slide is a slide, but a giant rock is a pirate ship, a house, a giant egg, anything. The hard part is going to be convincing the others on the committee of this wonderful idea. I'm trying to figure out how many copies of "Last Child

A natural playground?

Tonight I went to my first PTO meeting. It was against my better judgement, but I went because I thought it best that I enter the school with a positive connotation, rather than the pesky mom I feel like I've sometimes become. But low and behold, there may be a reason I was there. One committee that is looking for volunteers is the playground committee-- a group of people who are going to help plan the playground at the new elementary school that is being built. Maybe this is my chance to put in a HUGE plug for "natural" playground equipment. What's natural playground equipment? Great stuff. Trees to climb and run between. Rocks to turn into mountains. Logs to walk across. etc. The creative benefits are enormous. A slide is a slide is a slide, but a giant rock is a pirate ship, a house, a giant egg, anything. The hard part is going to be convincing the others on the committee of this wonderful idea. I'm trying to figure out how many copies of "Last Child

A Mom looks back at a family vacation at the beach

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One version of this story appeared in the newspaper. The REAL story will appear in the fall issue of Mom Writer's Literary Magazine . Stay tuned for details, and until then...

Mom’s Un-Official Back-to-School Supply List

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It’s mid-August and for the past few months I’ve been carrying around in a secret and secure place in my wallet, a tiny piece of paper labeled “First Grade Supply List.” I was instructed back in May when this paper arrived in my home, to keep it in a safe place and reminded very often throughout the summer to double-check its whereabouts. I can’t imagine what would happen if I actually misplaced the thing. I’d have a frantic seven-year old running around and crying and screaming “how am I going to know how many number 2 pencils to bring to school!” Chances are this would be followed by fits of convulsion over types of folders and what brand of scissors she needed to bring. My daughter, now entering first grade, is a list-maker and a list-checker-offer. She is very concerned that everything that should be done gets done and it needs to be on time and perfect. (Consider this statement just a public warning to any of her future teachers.) She is, unfortunately, just like her mother. So

Good Lord, is it back???

It is currently 10:35PM, and outside my bedroom window, somewhere in the woods, is the creature. I'm not sure what it is, but it makes a horrible sound late at night when these kinds of sounds wake you up from a dead sleep and make you grab the flashlight and shake your husband. It's a screaming/barking/yelping/crying sort of cry that makes your heart beat in your throat just thiking about it. A few weeks ago, on a night with perfect sleeping weather, everyone on the street heard it. At 3:00AM. And my neighbor, whose nerdiness is only matched by mine, also took the time to look it up online. We concluded that it must be a fox, although the jury is still out. My husband isn't due home until midnight, so I'm hoping that the creature is quiet until then. I need someone to wake up if I hear it screaming.