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Showing posts from September, 2009

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

A dark and crafty night

20 free sewing/knitting/printing/crafting patterns!! I'm locking myself in this weekend. I suggest some of you do the same. Click HERE .

Ahh, the smell of hot wax in the Autumn

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And they'll last longer than that rotting pumpkin on your front porch. (Directions here .)

The Seasonal Changeover

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So this idea, as awesome as it is, I cannot claim. There is something along these lines in a book called The Creative Family which both made me long for more time to do these things and want to barf because any person who has this sort of time is barf-worthy. In any case, I half stole the idea and it brings me great joy. We started this summer, when an old basket became our official "Summer basket." In it we collected items from nature-- both from camps and random days outside. It contained rocks, feathers, nuts, shells. And on the first day of Fall, we dumped it. (not the yarn, close-photo-viwers) ...and brought the basket it, ready to be filled with fall collectibles. It will be overflowing with leaves from the maple out our side door, I'm sure. Along with acorn caps and beech nuts from the forest at the top of the hill. Rocks, sticks. And all other wonderful fallish things that make this one of my top four favorite seasons.

Welcoming Fall with open arms and applesauce

This whole idea of season changing celebrations started a couple of years ago for me. Although we are not of a religion that officially worships the change of seasons, there's something deep down inside me that needs to mark the point at which our Earth travels around the Sun. Tomorrow is the first day of Fall, and believe it or not, there are way too many people who slept through second grade science class and don't know that the Autumnal Equinox is the exact mid-point between the time when our Earth is tilted towards the sun (Summer Solstice) and away from the sun (Winter Solstice.) Mathematically, it just gives me the willies that we can even figure this out. How massive the planets, the sun, the solar system. How obscure are rotations and revolutions. And yet, even on the cheapest calendar from the cheapest store, tomorrow is marked as the first day of Fall. And so, we celebrate. Just as we do the first day of each season. In the past, the first day of Winter we toast hot c

The bruised up building blocks of childhood

There are few things as unnerving as when the phone rings and the caller ID comes up as the elementary school where your child attends. What’s worse is when the phone conversation starts with “I don’t want you to worry, but…” It’s enough to send a parent into a whirlwind of well, worry. Such was the situation that I recently went through, but I’m happy and relieved to say that it wasn’t much of anything. “I don’t want you to worry, but your daughter fell at recess and is a little scraped up. Just wanted to explain the four hundred bandages before she got home.” She went on to tell me that once the teary eyes dried up, my kid, the academic trooper that she is, asked to go back to class. She later told me that walking up the flight of stairs was one of the hardest things she ever did. “I had to limp, mom. Like this,” she said, and hobbled around the kitchen after the administration of magic creams by Nurse Mommy and experiencing the healing power of a chocolate chip cookie. I told th

"You can't believe everything that kids say."

First week of school, my second grader comes home and says, "I have a very important job. I get to lead the class on fire drills all year long. They line up behind me and I lead everyone down the hall, down the steps, and outside." "Wow!" I replied, "that's a very important job! So proud of you!" and I gushed all over her because, well, it is an important job. Fast forward to the following week, when my kindergartner started school. We were on the way home and he says, "I have a very important job. I get to lead the class on fire drills all year long." "Reeeaaaallllly?" I asked, knowing full well that if someone was going to try to pull one over on me, it'd be him. "Yep. I stand at the door and everyone lines up behind me." "Reeaealllllly?" I asked again. "I don't believe it," said the second grader sister. "Tell me exactly what you do," I said, trying to catch him in a lie

Aging well

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The boat is gone, sadly the uncle is too; but looking like you did when you're five seems to last forever.

What's for dinner? Non-lazy SSDF (say what?)

For what it's worth, I can be a very lazy person. The difference, however, is that I don't want to be a lazy person. I want to be the person who hangs her laundry on the line, letting the fresh air fluff and freshen it. But instead I stick it in the dryer. I want to be the person who bakes her family's bread, keeping extra loaves stashed in the freezer, all that have a handful of ingredients instead of the long list of non- pronounceables that appear on the store bought kind. And occasionally, I do. But normally, I shell out the $1.89 for the Italian loaf. I cannot tell a lie. I'd like to be the person who doesn't have the entire Noggin and PBS schedules memorized and instead does wooden puzzles and fabric crafts with my kids all day long. But instead I record Yo Gabba Gabba and play the same dang episodes over and over just to get the dishes done. In the dishwasher. With non-ecological soap. And then they'll probably sit in there for a few days until

An early resolution for 2010 and a Sunday afternoon declaration

Last night while our husbands watched the football game and the women played spud and otherwise corralled the many children, we also chatted about where we were going on Sunday morning. This church, that church. "I'm thinking of heading to "Our Lady of the Holy Mattress," said one very honest friend. I kept my mouth shut, but secretly had plans to head to my favorite place to spend just about any morning. The Woods. We took the kids on a four-mile trek up and down the hills and valleys of Wooster. If you think that Wooster doesn't have hills, you've never been to Wooster Memorial Park . You should go. It just may surprise you, and kick your butt all in the same wonderful visit. Down the ravine, across the creek, up the other side, etc. etc. etc., we were about 3/4 of our way through and I had a revelation . When you're in the woods, the air must be better and a little more oxygen gets to the brain. It lets you think, put things into perspective,

Why we do what we do

It was the loveliest of late summer days. With two children officially in the care of the local school system, I had the great pleasure of being a mom to only one. A little blonde toddler whom I am quite fond of, and if I may say, is as sweet as the day is long. She was enjoying her time alone with mom, too. Without the background skateboarding noise or incessant talking, she could focus and play at her level. So there we sat, she and I, with a bucket of rocks and a bucket of water smack in the middle of my driveway, washing each rock individually and watching the colors just jump out at you. My geology background tried to get her to say words like “granite” and “quartzite” and “fossiliferrous limestone.” My mothering background just sat and loved every minute of the magical time in the sun. In fact, I got so carried away that I didn’t notice her disappear into the garage until she came back, spitting out and basically trying to eject something from her mouth. It was, I admit, a

"You WILL like this! Have fun, I say, FUN!"

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My mom makes me play with rocks. (note: Read this week's column to see what happened after we finished up our rock game.)

The brown bag queen*, and some goto Chocolate Chip Blondies

So we are "packers" here in the house. When my daughter started school she quickly decided that she was NOT going to be buying the school lunches and I absolutely agreed. Did my barely-six-year-old need to eat a scoop of chili and a bag of Fritos for lunch? Not really. Needless to say, I was happy when she came out with her proclamation. "We are packers. Packers. We pack our lunch in this house. We don't buy lunches. I don't want soggy lettuce and chili for lunch. We paaaaaaaaaack ." Therefore, when my son started school this year, I went from packing one to packing two lunches every morning. It's a pain in the beezer , but I admit that someday I'm going to wake up when my kids are off at college and get teary eyed about waking up extra early to construct tiny sandwiches and cut up apples in lemon juice.* This week's recipe is my absolute goto dessert. In the fast-paced world that I live in, making individual cookies seems to take an

Feng shui-ing the family room

Like most good mothers, I walked into my family room today and realized that I no longer had control of the most popular room in my home. It was complete chaos, as it usually is, especially about five minutes after I have picked up all the toys and said to myself, “oh yeah, my carpet is brown. I couldn’t remember if it was gray or not.” Instead of my normal routine of cramming everything into cutsie baskets, bookshelves, and the catch-all toy box where I’m pretty sure there is a year’s supply of pretzel pieces, this time I have decided to stop the insanity and start the organization. I’m taking back my family room. Or at least I’m going to try. A quick trip to the magazine aisle at the store will advertise a thousand new and exciting ways to organize your life, your room, your toys, your kitchen drawers. Someone is always coming up with a new idea that essentially says to throw out three-quarters of the stuff you have and put the rest in coordinating boxes with handy labels. I am f

Mother Nature's Homemade Birdfeeder

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Right out my office window is a perfect example of why things happen for a reason, even a dead and drooping sunflower signaling the end of a great summer.