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Showing posts from April, 2009

The mini tent-- it never hurts to ask

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Last Thursday was just an ordinary day until I made a mad dash to K-Mart to make a return and quickly buy some carrot seeds for the garden. In a whirlwind race through the store that ended with a very slow nearly standstill wait in the check-out line, I noticed the mini tent. I have always eyed these things up, these display models for the tents the store sells. They seemed the absolute perfect toy for someone like me who always hated Barbie and most doll-sized playhouses. Seriously, pretending to cook? Clean? Make beds? Rock babies? I had better things to do as a child. Like go camping. But back in K-Mart, there was, as usual, a few extra employees hanging around and not ringing people up, and on my way out I pointed to the tent and said to one of them, "you know, if you sold these things, people would buy them." "It's for sale," she told me. "Not anymore!" I said, the grin on my face forming instinctively , as if I finally got that Red Rider BB Gun.

Parents say the darndest things

There was a girl who lived down the street from me as a kid who used to come over and play pretty frequently. And I’m not sure that she ever knew it, but that little girl used to make my mother laugh. We’d be well into a version of pretend something-or-other and I had an old rotary phone that was designated for play. My friend would grab the phone, hold it with her chin and say things like “uh huh, OK, sure, OK, yep.” According to my mom, that’s just what my friend’s mom sounded like on the phone, and back then I didn’t know what was just so funny about it. Now, being I parent, I know. Oh, do I know. Children, besides being tiny treasures filled with wonder and ideas, are also little sponges, absorbing everything they meet, hear, feel, and see. More than that they are also little mirrors, and if you look closely enough they can show you exactly how you, the parent, act, sound, and generally exist. We’re riding in the car the other day, my children and I, and my son at age 5 star

An afternoon eclipse

My real world has just been eclipsed. By peace and quiet. One child in school, one asleep on the couch, and one off at the park with a friend. I changed a load of laundry without anyone bothering me and I even sat down at this here computer without yelling at anyone to leave me alone. There's reheated coffee on my desk and the house is so silent that I can hear the trains and the birds outside. This is all cause for a moment of pause, a deep breath, a smile, and a head shake. For as wonderful as this feels now, I'm pretty sure that in a few years time I'll be begging for the noises again and wondering why the birds are so loud.

Peter Cottontail: Swift, slick, and smart

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We have a very clever Easter Bunny. This year, because of the way the school calendar falls we took our spring break trip early this year. We had to visit the relatives that unfortunately live in a warmer climate, leaving all of the oh-so-lucky residents of Ohio to enjoy their egg hunts through the snow and dirty road slush. But as I was saying, our Easter Bunny is very clever. Each year when he hops along his little bunny trail, instead of leaving a basket of sweets that mommy ends up eating, he leaves a basket of summer essentials. Specifically, the baskets my children receive are filled with the annual swimming suit and sandals, because the Bunny knows that last year’s suits have more snags than threads and one of the sandals got left by the pond and eaten by the tractor, which doesn’t matter because none of them fit anyway. See? Smart bunny. This year, while visiting the relatives the week before his scheduled visit, our brainy Bunny made an early deposit of goodies. Somehow while

Holy cow. Microwave, dairy-free risotto.

I wouldn't believe it either if I didn't taste it with my very tastebuds. Friends know that I've been dairy-free for the last year thanks to my allergic baby girl. I've learned to adapt in many ways, and if it wasn't for a mother's love I'd surely be scarfing down the pizza and ice cream. But love is a powerful tool. And so is a microwave. To satisfy my craving for creaminess, I turned to risotto. To satisfy my long to-do list, I found a recipe that lets you cook it in the microwave, without the constant stirring on the stove. With a few tweaks, I have officially found a staple side dish for our family. Microwave garlic and pea risotto 3 Tbl olive oil 2-3 cloves minced garlic (we like the stuff!) 1 onion, diced fine 1 1/2 cups chicken broth 1 cup arborio rice 1 cup liquid of choice (chicken broth or white wine) frozen peas In a casserole dish, combine the oil, onion, and garlic. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. In a separate vessel, heat 1 1/2 cups

Squeaky squeak-- let's go to the movies!

As I'm sure I'll write about soon, I am returning to my roots (ha ha) and doing a garden this year...along with a zillion other people, according to the seed companies. While auto industries are failing left and right, the seed companies report booming numbers, some even hiring extra help for processing orders. The so-called "recession gardens" are all the rage. Me, I just like homegrown tomatoes and dusty beans off the vine. But that doesn't mean that I won't mind saving a buck or two on produce if our garden produces. As true as it is that love to dig in the dirt, I also love a good bargain. Free stuff makes my world go round, and I reckon that even if I won every lottery in the country I'd still clip a coupon and enter my name five times in a basket raffle. I'm just that kind of person. I was recently reading on another blog about RedBox and wanted to share this tip with any of my readers. Have you heard of RedBox? It's the vending machi

Green fingers, no markers needed

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I really have the bug. Really, really. It's probably because after years of waiting and planning, we finally built some garden boxes for our home. Because most of our backyard is wooded, there's not much space for a garden but I really felt incomplete without one. This year we've got some garden boxes built pretty much in the middle of our yard. There's just no better place. And beyond that, I am again going to attempt a sunflower house that will no doubt take up the remainder of the grassy area. Last year I wrote a column about "putting on an addition in our side yard" (read the old post here to learn about just what a sunflower house is) and after not one, not two, but three attempts, nature got the best of me. Rains and toads and bunnies completely shattered my dreams, but not this year. This year I am bound and determined to successfully complete this magical playland, even if I have to spend $400 on fake flowers and glue them into my backyard. You can r

At this moment, you mean eeeeeeverything…

It’s not the greatest theme song for a mom and her children to dance to, but if you block out most of the lyrics and just focus on one itty, bitty line, it’s pretty fantastic. Our kitchen has, I believe, abnormally large floor space. Like there should be a big butcher block island right in the middle of it, but there isn’t. We did it that way on purpose because we thought that such an obstruction would surely be cause for detrimental wounds and cases of bandages as our children learned to walk/run/boogie/etc. As good of an idea as that was, it was an even better idea because without knowing it, we’ve created our very own private dance club. And let me tell you, Club Kitchen gets really rockin’ sometimes. There are nights when the music blasts and we’re all in our wool socks showing off some smooth disco moves on the wood floor and other times when I hope the neighbors aren’t watching because I’m trying to do my best MC Hammer impression. We waltz to classical, and it goes without

Wilma vs. Fred: the paycheck wars

It must have been a cold and gloomy day because instead of kicking the kids outside to mess up the yard, they were inside messing up the house. It must have been the afternoon too, because my entertainment/educational energy had worn out and I think my exact words were, “will you little people just sit down and watch some TV? Please?” I had things to do. As a stay-at-home mom, there is dinner to cook, clothes to wash, crusty rice to Dustbuster off the kitchen table. I don’t need to write out the entire list—any mom can relate. So in my mind, there are times in my day that the TV Babysitter becomes a very legitimate tool, for one low monthly fee. Today’s sitter: The Flintstones, a good, wholesome and classic cartoon. But in this episode, the modern stone age family was a bit unstable because Wilma and Fred were arguing about who had it more difficult – the stay-at-home mom raising young Pebbles, or the working dad, operating machinery at the quarry. It goes without saying that I had to