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Showing posts from 2009

And the cartoon bubble says...

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"Me no wanna go sledding no more." But that's what to be expected when we push our 2 year old down a giant hill. Go ahead and pin the 'parent of the year' award right here on my snowcoat.

I’ll be home [after] Christmas

December is quickly coming to a close, which means mostly one thing: I have watched the same Christmas specials so many times that not only can I recite them, but act them out from start to finish. And yes, this includes my impression of the Grinch’s dog, Max, when he falls over with that giant antler on his head and the entire scene from The Christmas Story when the Bumpus’ hounds barge in and eat the turkey off the table. Normally we don’t watch so much television around our house, but it seems that during December the ratio of screen to mommy time is completely out of whack because mommy has been running frantically and has not sat down since Thanksgiving dinner. I do it because I love the end of December. Mostly that bit of time right after the holiday when the hoopla is over and I can finally breathe again. It all starts with Thanksgiving, when we gorge ourselves to the point where we think we don’t want to see another piece of turkey for an entire year. (And we usually don’t.)

Holiday Fever! (A 2008 classic)

In case someone missed last year's poem... ‘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’

The perpetual present peeker

I’m trusting all of you to never, ever tell my parents, even though they could probably guess. I was a perpetual peeker when it came to Christmas presents. It wasn’t very hard in the little house I grew up in. Especially when they would say things like, “don’t go in dad’s workshop or in the blue bedroom.” The blue bedroom was the family catch-all. It contained everything from mom’s dusty sewing table, to the accordion I painfully tried to lift as a child (and have the neck brace to prove it), to dad’s giant salon-style hair dryer that sat near his stack of Popular Mechanics. In December, though, the blue bedroom was also home to the presents that would grace our tree come Christmas and was strictly off limits. But just like telling someone “not to think about an elephant” (you just did, didn’t you?) telling an inquisitive kid not to look at her presents and telling her exactly where they were, was practically a waste of breath. Of course I looked. Every year. And one year I rea

Read this (and eat this) before you pucker up this holiday season (All about mistletoe!)

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Among many other odd traditions that don’t make sense, I find myself scrambling to find a tiny and mostly fake sprig of mistletoe to hang every year. When I do finally hang it, I end up kissing my kids as they run around the house, back and forth underneath, all the live long day. It goes without saying, then, as curious minds tend to do, I have recently overloaded my brain with as much knowledge of mistletoe that I could find. And wow, who knew that such a small little plant that I have thumbtacked into my molding could hold such a myriad of stories… First of all, the name itself. According to a USGS web page, the name mistletoe (from mistletan) is derived from early Anglo-Saxon words of mistle, meaning “dung,” and tan, meaning “twig” because it was thought that bird droppings were the cause of the growth of this mysterious plant. So literally, well, you can figure that out for yourself. Scientifically the plant’s name is a little cleaner: Phoradendron, meaning “thief of the tree” in

To the guy who cut me off and then bought my coffee...

Anyone who has visited the Starbuck's in Wooster knows that there is an entrance and an exit. The exit is conveniently close to the drive thru lane, but, we also all know that coming in through the exit makes you a big, fat, cheater. Especially when someone takes her time and drives all the way around. Especially when that someone is a girl who literally lives on coffee. (I used to be blond ...) :) Such was the case this evening, when driving around, the couple in the black little car tore in through the exit, nearly hit me, and continued to speed into the drive thru lane. Being a world traveler and knowing how much the horn is underused in these United States, I gave him a quick few honks to let him know that I was not happy. And I got nothing. Not a courtesy wave. Not a I'm-sorry-I'm-an-idiot/jerk wave. Not even a measly glance in the rear view mirror. So I did what any red-blooded girl who really needed a caffeine fix and had her children in the back seat would do-

When personal cakes seem the right thing to do

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Thankfully it was just our little family sharing these pristine birthday cakes, which really weren't all that pristine after all.

All I want for Christmas is a long, white beard

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I’ve always been pretty happy being a female. Not only have I gotten to experience the wonderment that is childbirth and motherhood, but I also have the privilege to cry during greeting card commercials and at my children’s choir concerts. There is one thing that rolls around every year that reminds me that being a gal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I may be able to wear cookie-scented lotion and own multitudes of shoes, but never, ever will I be able to be a member of AORBS. You know, the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas. I didn’t know that this prestigious group existed until a recent news article caught my attention. The AORBS group was commenting that they should be right up in the front of the line with the given shortage of flu vaccines. Their argument was that part of their holiday cheer is being sneezed and coughed on by millions of children asking for shiny new bicycles and video games, while they themselves were just wishing to spend their Christmas surrounded by re

Try this at home, if you're in good with the cops

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Flipping through the latest issue of Family Fun Magazine , I spotted a nifty little article teaching how to do rather clever Christmas decorations. And since we were last on the block to get ours up, I figured I needed to do something a little extra. A little special. A little morbid. And so, sans hubby's help, I concocted this: (A lousy photo, but you get the drift. Legs sticking out of the bushes, lights hanging down from the roof, a mysteriously placed ladder. HILARIOUS.) So very proud of my outdoor artwork, and running late to get the kids from school, I set our house alarm and ran out the door. But, whoopsie, I didn't shut the door all the way, which means as I was driving down the road and chatting with my friend on the phone, and while I was waiting for eons in the pick up line at school, the sirens at my house were blaring and the police men were on their way. My husband calls me and tells me to hurry home because the alarm had gone off and I needed to check things

Moms who need wine!

A brutally honest piece of my literature featured today at Moms Who Need Wine . Visit and learn all about the term "Coat Rack." You just might know one yourself.

Oh, Christmas tree, Ohhhh, Christmas tree

We all dream of that storybook day, when the snow is glistening and the temperatures just cold enough to frost your breath and just warm enough so that you can feel the tips of your fingers. You pack up the family, all dressed in coordinating thermal gear, and set out on an adventure to find that one, glorious evergreen. Perfect from every angle, needles strong and intact, strong spire to support a family heirloom star, and just enough clearance on the bottom to hold the dozens of perfectly wrapped presents from Santa. There are quiet, peaceful moments of stringing popcorn by a roaring fire and then carefully hanging every safely wrapped precious ornament, and with each returns a flood of heart-warming memories. Choral music from a famous European choir plays softly, accented by the giggle of happy children and the crackle of the fire. But then, reality hits. And last year, for us, reality hit rock bottom. Due to a Thanksgiving away visiting relatives, we started off two steps behin

Thanksgiving '09: 2 great recipes and a verse or two

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Every year I have my children write out their own recipes for "How to cook a turkey." Giggles never fail. Every year I have my children write out their own recipes for "How to cook a turkey." Giggles never fail. Toby, Age 6 Ellen, Age 8 (And really, CHEESE? Whose kid is this?) And finally, a profession of why this is the greatest holiday. And another reason why I shouldn't try to write anything at 11:30PM. It would be worse though, if it was after eating the turkey. Thanksgiving is for me Easter has its chocolate Brought by the Easter Bunny, Summer holidays have their BBQ's And the weather's always sunny. Christmas keeps us hopping With the lights and gifts and tree, But for all the year's holidays, Thanksgiving is for me. The entire day is based around A table full of food. The turkey roasting in the morning Puts us all in a spirited mood. Parades and pies and pumpkins, And football on TV, I've got dibs on that there turkey leg B

Wedding crier gets the job done

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There are two sorts of criers. There are the type that release the most delicate tears that peacefully roll down their cheeks in a quiet and dignified sort of way, and then there is me. I am a quivering, snotting, can’t-catch-my-breath sort of crier which works quite well for watching chic flicks at home alone, but isn’t great when I am standing up for a friend at her wedding. I recently had my first ever duty as bridesmaid, a job that most girls loathe. Having never had the opportunity to wear an ugly dress, I was doubly elated when asked to be a matron of honor. Sure, I’d been a junior bridesmaid as a ‘tween and a bestman for a best friend in college, but never once had the opportunity to adjust a flowing train or carry a supply of lipstick. My dress was my own choice, and at the store I knew I needed something practical, mostly floor-length to cover my pasty legs, all bruised up from soccer balls and toddlers. The dress itself was gorgeous, but it had one downfall: no pockets. Not t

Italian steak sandwiches on an American night

My husband said he had a taste for "American beef" tonight, not surprisingly. Men love beef. It's carnal, red, bloody, chewy. Women love salad. It's fresh, crunchy, low in calories. But women also love their men, and sometimes we just give in and whip up a beefy meal for dinner, and such is the case tonight. I will, however, be serving this dish with salad and some roasted sweet potato 'fries,' although I'm fairly certain the children will scoff at how I am trying to pull one over on them by calling something that doesn't come in a paper bag with an "M" on it as "fries." More for me, I suppose. In any case, my family loves these sandwiches. Packed with fat, carbs, and sodium, there couldn't be anything more american than these easy-peasy Italian steak sandwiches. Go figure. Italian Steak Sandwiches A great weeknight meal! (serves 4) 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tbl olive oil 1 pound deli roast beef, shaved 1/2 - 3/4 cup b

How I first earned the name "machine gun Karrie"

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Basically, while in 10th grade doing environmental research in a river, I stumbled upon a stolen WWI machine gun. My 15 minutes of fame, used up when I was 15. (You can click on the article to blow it up and actually read it.)

A quest for knowledge leads to old, dusty books

Like most good children of the 1980’s, I thought we were practically Daddy Warbucks when my parents took the leap and purchased our own set of encyclopedias. No more trips to the library where you had to wait in line until someone done was pouring over volume X, only to have your turn and try to copy down, by hand, everything about your subject. Once we got those encyclopedias, I thought, my school reports would be astronomically better. I was elated at the opportunity to peruse anything I wanted, from hamsters to the North Pole, at my leisure. My parents opted for the silver set, which looking back I’m pretty sure was the same old set of encyclopedias with sliver around the edges, but back then made me feel even more proud of the thousand pounds of books that happily warped our family room bookshelves. Not only that, but there must have been a deal involved in there somewhere because we ended up with an entirely other set of books, all labeled with a famous philosopher or scientist

Me-oh-my-oh mushrooms

My husband and i have this thing we do without even knowing that we do it. Whenever we eat out at a restaurant, each of us automatically orders the one food the other person doesn't like. I do not eat fish, and every time we eat out, he orders fish. He does not eat mushrooms, so I'm the one usually ordering the extra large side of them whenever I get the chance. I like to attribute it to my polish heritage, my love of mushrooms. In every Polish cookbook I've ever seen there are countless mushroom dishes, all equally wonderful because I like to live by the rule that anything with mushrooms makes it better. This rule generally applies to other things as well, such as garlic, salt, and any processed pork product. (Can I get an 'amen' for the bacon?) Growing up, on special occasions my dad would make his famous mushrooms. We'd clean and slice them and lay them out on a plate. Dotted with butter and sprinkled with Lowry Seasoning Salt, they cooked in the micr

Veteran's Day to a 5 year old

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If the hand on your heart doesn't break yours just a little, you need a lesson in patriotism.

An open letter to the mega media

Dear Mega Media, Just wanted to drop you a quick note of thanks for turning me into a raging lunatic these last few weeks. I honestly feel like I have been walking through a minefield, tiptoeing through my entire life and practically drowning my family in hand sanitizer. I have even have gone as far as giving my children money to hold in every public place we enter with the strict rule that if they touch anything, anything, they will lose the money. Hands-off everything, they keep it. I’m down at least eighteen dollars already. You’ve done a fabulous job scaring the pants off of all of us. Or most of us. Some of us can see through your hype and just change the channel. Of course, every channel that doesn’t contain sporting events, cartoons, or classic TV re-runs has the ticker running across the bottom that spells out in scrolling letters that we’re all going to fall victim to the flu de jour and spend the next two weeks of our lives practically on our death beds and don’t even

A good woman's chicken

I had dinner last night with a bunch of people who are waaaay smarter than I am. Well, this is a lie. I actually ate dinner, the first time, with my family. A pulled pork sandwich and a bottle of Budweiser, which was absolutely delicious and absolutely grounding. Later on, I ate dinner (yet again) with my college roommate who went on to earn a few degrees while I got married and had a few children. The purpose of the meal was to introduce the wedding party to each other. Come tomorrow I will be, for the first time ever, a bridesmaid. For this I am excited beyond belief. The chance to stand up for someone special and be there when she ties the knot and makes the promise is an absolute honor. I've got my toast all ready (stay tuned, I'm sure some sort of column will appear) and my duties of flower carrying and dress bundling all scheduled. But back to my dinner. We ate at a fancy restaurant where I felt completely under dressed. "Casual" she said, and apparentl

A hunting we will go

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My neighbors will have to pardon the nerdiness (you know who you are!), but this is a rather addicting fall habit and a fun game to play with your kids outside: Who can find the most nests in the bare trees?

A cut above: Historic season ends in a win

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Although I’m not sure how many times the turf saw action, it seems that the average record for the year was about an even tie. The playoffs, however, were not a match up to be missed. Both teams put in a full blown effort both offensively and defensively. I am, of course, speaking about mowing the lawn. With the exception of my sister-in-law’s father who prides himself on mowing the lawn ten months out of the year, we are all just about done with arduous task that is keeping the yard neat and tidy. This was indeed a season that saw great action. I am probably an oddity, but I genuinely love to mow the lawn. Perhaps it is seeing the lines and the instant gratification of a clean-cut surface, or maybe it’s the feeling of accomplishment knowing that I am strong enough to pull start the machine. Or really, maybe it’s just the fact that when the mower is running the sound of the children playing/fighting/asking for juice is completely drowned out and oddly enough, even at 90 decibels, mowi

Saving Isabella: A wooly bear for the winter

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We own a fun nature book for children (which I would credit but I loaned it to a friend and don't have the name on hand), and there's a page that gives directions for keeping a wooly bear catapillar over the winter. What fun!So we're giving it a try. The wooly bear is the fun fall version of the Isabella Tiger Moth which emerges in the spring. For years I've never taken the time to know this. For me, the wooly bear meant one thing: how hard of a winter we were going to have. I remember as a kid seeng how many I could collect and making my own predictions about the winter-- long before we had the power of the internet and computer forecasters to tell us all in detail and in every form of media. But now, they are just catapillars that we can hold. Fuzzy and non-poisonous, after reading the how-to in our book, we kept one this year. Here's the basic how-to... 1. Find a wooly bear in the fall. That's RIGHT NOW!! 2. Store it in a plastic jar with a top that you'

What's for dinner? A giant pot of what's for lunch tomorrow (drum roll for beef barley...)

I spent last night in a doctor's office, holding a sick 22-month old. Out in the waiting room we were banished to the "sick" section where people sat with masks and coughs. "But I'm not sick," I said, so instead of sitting I stood in the middle of the room, pointing my head towards the well side and my ailing daughter's toward the sick side and rocking my poor child like she was once again a fussy infant. (Yes, this is the same kid who is dressed as a pig in the previous post, thank you karma, which I wrote about in the post before that...) Eventually we were shuttled into the exam room where my kid turned into a the limpest rag doll I have ever seen. A quick forehead temperature reading of 104.5 and the nurse swiftly took her other vitals and scribbled them down. She left, only to emerge a minute later and tell me that the doctor wanted to do a flu test on her because she was so lethargic and her fever so high. The test took 10 minutes to run, so durin

Thanks for the [Halloween/Pandemic] memories

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Here we are, in the midst of the swine flu pandemic, and I dress her as a pig for Halloween. Niiiiice.

Giving karma the upper hand

There’s nothing like karma to make you run out and buy lotion and a nail file. I recently had the distinct pleasure of chatting with three family friends late into the evening. All much younger men, they hold a special place in my heart, perhaps filling the void of the little brother that I have always wanted. And because I care about these guys as if we’ve shared family meals and taken turns taking out the trash, I somehow feel that I need to share my elderly wisdom with them when I get a chance. In the past I have given them countless tips on finding a good girlfriend and provided them with my short list of criteria that their girlfriends have to meet in order to pass my elite standards. These criteria are very simple, and include such things as, a. she needs to be able to cook a decent breakfast and b. when wearing long pants, she can’t get worried about whether or not her socks match. Little things, all because these are really great guys who deserve really great girls. Honest

My quest for October and pumpkin muffns

October is, hands down without a doubt in the great green world, my favorite month of the year. There are colors in every direction, even though some of them are gray sky gray and mud brown. The weather is outstanding and it seems that in a one month span you can taste all four seasons-- the first crispness of fall, the wetness of spring, a hard frost or a snowflake or two, and of course Indian Summer. It is splendid and a gift worth being thankful for. But instead, my stupid self booked the month of October so full that I've barely gotten a chance to capture one day of it all. I should have been taking walks outside and collecting colorful leaves, but instead I was stuck inside doing something I didn't want to do and looking longingly outside and wishing I was wearing a turtleneck sweater and a vest because those are, for me, the essence of October wear. So next year you can count me out and write me off for my favorite month, unless what you're asking for has to do wi

Blowing the day to take a walk in the sun

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Thank you, Indian Summer, for this afternoon.

Yes, mam, you are a bit like a zoo exhibit

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There’s something to be said for the coati. It’s not every day that we can learn so very much about ourselves when we go to the zoo and stare into an exhibit of obscure animals. My first introduction to this magnificent mammal happened a few years ago while visiting our favorite little zoo. An enclosure full of these critters that look like a raccoon that stuck its nose into a vacuum hose completely fascinated me. The first thing I learned that day was that “coati” is not pronounced “coat-ee” but instead “co-AH-tee,” not because the sign clarified that, but because my daughter, then age 5, corrected me and told me I should watch more animal TV shows so I can learn as much as she does. Beyond that embarrassment, I discovered that coatis are pretty smart animals. They have, I’m assuming, over many generations, learned how to get things done and thrive as a species. They have figured out how to best increase their populations and grow in strength and numbers. They have determined how to f

Of love and lard

Normally, our anniversary celebrations range from slim to none. Our fifth year we spent apart-- he at a wedding and I at home with a baby that was not invited to attend. Others have been spent wishing we had the money to do something more extravagant than grilling out a nice steak and baking up some potatoes. And others have been spent like this year's-- tending to the needs of others; mainly the three little people that mess up our house and eat all of our food. And today is no different. He will go to work, I will drive the kids around and try to squeeze in a few minutes of work at home in between restarting Yo Gabba Gabba and stuffing the baby with graham crackers so she'll hopefully take a nap. In the evening we'll all drive to a local nursing home where my kids will partake in a piano recital for the residents, as planned by their piano teacher. But this is my 10th anniversary. Tenth! And it should be special, right? Last night, after struggling to get those messy, hun

One-liner for the season

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Dropping temperatures and leaves aside, Fall is pretty darn fun.

Computer literate babes to start Jr. networking sites?

I have one of those computer mice that doesn’t actually move. It’s just a base with a little red ball that sits on top that I roll around with my right hand while my left hand does coffee curls or is forever holding one of those super hard sourdough pretzels that leaves little crumbs all over the place. In any case, that little red ball must have some sort of attraction that I’m unaware of, because at every turn my toddler sneaks into my office and climbs up on my chair, pounds away at the keyboard (as evidenced by the occasional skejdjfdsrlkj that shows up on the screen), pulls that red mouse ball out and runs away laughing hysterically. As if she holds the key to my happiness or something, which she sort of does, but not really. Her fascination with these electronic things, and the fact that she has somehow managed to reprogram our TV recorder by randomly pushing buttons makes me wonder that she’s a few spelling lessons away from actually doing real things on the computer. At only

Kielbasa-garlic-bean-potato-spinach soup, I tell you!

This morning I reached out to grab the latest bottle of shampoo to grace its way to my shower. A new product for me, I admit I was drawn to it in the store by the hip color and style of bottle. I should also mention that I gave it a the whiff test-- you know, where you open the bottle and blow a puff of air towards your nose to smell it and hopefully not a plug of shampoo comes out and lands on your upper lip-- and liked what I smelled. Fruity, yet it didn't make me hungry. I was sold. I really don't like beauty products that make me hungry, and just thinking about that takes me back to the vanilla sugar cookie phase a few years back where every woman I knew was walking around smelling like a giant delicious dessert. Even myself. And at times I had to stop myself from sniffing my arm just so I wouldn't have the urge to grab a Lorna Doone or whip up a batch of shortbread. But I digress... My new shampoo, along with its flashy color and what not, advertises that it has nectar

Wheeeeeee!

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You too can become an [Ohio] Outdoorswoman, and find yourself swinging and screaming and loving every second of it, even though your arms are sore from shooting for 3 hours.

Should he stay or should he go?

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Here we are, just a few weeks into his entire educational career, and I’ve already blown his chance at a wooden plaque at senior assembly. This is because I, in all of my great wisdom and thoughtfulness, kept my kindergartner home from school one day this week. He spent the weekend on the couch, feeling the wrath of some stomach bug that not only made his tummy hurt, but his forehead a little warm for my lips’ taste. And yet, bright and early on that Monday morning, he seemed well enough to complain about the clothes we had laid out for him. He ate his breakfast and peeked in his lunchbox. But a last minute check of the thermometer gave me the news I didn’t want to see. 100.4. At this point I had two choices. I could a) give him some fever-reducing medicine and send him off to school where he’d be falsely healthy and have a fairly normal day, or b) keep him home because I knew it was the right thing to do although I knew quite well that he’d refuse to lay on the couch and beg and plead

34 on 10/1

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Nothing says Happy October like a frosty mum.

Feeling the chill, heating the pot

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Many thanks go out to the cold front that came crashing through and provided constant thunder from 4:12 - 4:48 AM. I didn't really need to sleep anymore, really. But making lemon out of cranky and sleepy lemonade, I will say that I love the drop in temperatures that we're feeling here today. There are many reasons, but mostly because I get to dig out the sweaters that all smell like the cedar chest and pretty much live on soup and stew from now until March. I love soup. It's genetic. My grandfather says he could eat it every day, and I agree. It is comforting for the mind and body, and who doesn't eating out of a giant bowl? Today in the spirit of the chilly and blustery air, I'm sharing two things. For one, a family favorite of Chicken Stew with pasta, that even my picky kids eat. It is simple to make and already comes cut up for little people. I usually double the recipe because it goes fast, and it makes terrific leftovers for lunch the next day. Chicken Stew wi

The allure of the lunchbox and all its fillings

Many moons ago when my daughter started kindergarten, she asked me if I was a buyer or a packer. In all honesty, I had to tell her that my mother packed my lunch every day. For my entire school career. Yes, even in high school. “I think I’m going to be a packer, too,” was her response, and I immediately felt tired for the years of getting up early to pack tiny sandwiches that I knew were in store. Sure enough, I found myself setting my alarm clock earlier and earlier to wake up and concoct a smorgasbord of edible delights, somehow packed with as much love as I would give her at home, if not more. There were days when I thought I would need a bigger lunchbox because I missed her so much. As if packing it full of her favorite things would somehow make me miss her less as she because her educational career and I sat home and dreamed up creative ways to make peanut butter and jelly. “I like peanut butter and jelly” she told me after just a week or two of school, but I, in my ate-out-o