little stories

This morning I said, “Seth, I’m putting your snack in your backpack,” and he turned and looked at me with the “oh-no- mom’s- going- to- see-what-I-have-hiding- in-there” expression on his face.  So I did a search and found two strange “squishies” that he had pilfered from his friends.  “I’m just borrowing them.” he quickly explained.  Squishies are all the rage with Seth and his friends and he doesn’t have one but I told him (like I tell all the children) DON’T BORROW YOUR FRIENDS TOYS OR LET THEM “GIVE” YOU THEIRS!!!!

*****

The other day we were getting ready for football practice and I said, “Seth, don’t forget to put on your cup.”  “Oh, I don’t wear a cup to football anymore,” he said.  “You’ll get hit there sooner or later and then you will,” I replied, airily.  He was insulted.  “MOM.  I have GOOD REFLUXES.”

*****

Yesterday we were in the car headed to football practice.  “Mom, why does that truck have chuffy cheeks?” Sarah wanted to know.

*****

“Oh, this is so good, try this, E,” I said, handing Ethan my cup of iced matcha green tea latte to sip.
“It tastes like condensed grass.” he said.

*****

We returned home from an outing an hour ago and I got the mail before coming into the house.  In a stack of junk and catalogues, I found a letter from the local meat market.  My name and address were written out by hand on the envelope.  “Why are they sending me personal mail?” I questioned out loud.  I opened it and read,  “If you shopped here in August, check your bank statement, we believe we owe you money.”  I was completely flummoxed.  I handed the note to Rich, and he in turn checked our online bank statement and found that they charged our credit card 461 dollars.  “Did you spend that much?” “No way, not on meat.” So, he called and spoke to the same lady whose name was signed to the letter and she excitedly told him how she had worked behind the scenes to find me and make the discrepancy correct.   It turned out that the true meat total was 46 and she charged me 461…… and I myself stood there in the store, signed my name, and let it happen.  “I don’t know how I made such a mistake,” I apologized to Rich.  “I wonder if I had kids with me or waiting in the car.”  “You were frazzled,” he agreed.

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“has good refluxes.  doesn’t need a cup.”

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“chuffy cheeks”

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“condensed grass” ……..my beverage of choice

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“I believe we owe you money.”

 

 

i am made aware of another mothering mistake

I simply love it when the children and I have time to chat without distractions because it gives them the chance to air their little grievances.  This morning Seth and Sarah were all ready for school with about 10 minutes to spare.  I stood by the door watching for the bus while Seth sat on the floor and Sarah sat on the couch.  The family dog was flat on the floor, sound asleep and exhausted after a busy day yesterday when he escaped through his hidden dog fence and ran around the neighborhood for hours.  We have since figured out that his collar is broken so in the meantime, we were discussing how we cannot under any circumstances allow him go outside when the bus came, as he usually does, and having Parker as the topic of conversation reminded Seth of something that hurt his feelings…..and naturally, it was my fault.

From the floor, he spoke up.  “Mom?  MY favorite animal is the dog.  Caleb’s favorite animal was the SNAKE but then as soon as I decided MY favorite animal was the DOG he changed HIS favorite animal to the dog, too.”

(Caleb is his big brother and almost 4 years older than Seth.)

I turned away from the window to look at him.  “Well, you can both have dogs as your favorite animal, besides, I’m sure that Caleb still likes snakes better.”  But as I said this I realized that Seth was correct; Caleb has become a Dog Expert and watches lots of videos on youtube about……dogs.  And has been begging me…..for a dog of his own.  Well, it’s beside the point.  Having siblings means having to share your favorite things with them.  Life isn’t fair, ya know.

“And I feel ignored….” Seth continued, wide eyed.  “I feel ignored because now, when you see a dog, you say, ‘Caleb, look at the cute dog’ and….. I’m ignored.”

He began to get actual tears in his eyes over this thought.  It was obvious it came right from the heart.

As he buried his face in his hands, ashamed to be crying, I looked at Sarah, shrugged my shoulders, and bugged out my eyes, meaning;   “Can you believe this kid?”  She raised her eyebrows at me and it quickly became clear she was on “his side.”

She said, in a lecturing tone,  “Well, Mom, the name Caleb MEANS DOG.”

“All this is MY FAULT?” I asked.

“You could have named Caleb Seth and Seth Caleb.”

I was stunned.  So I raised my arms and said dramatically, “I would like to apologize to the entire room, especially YOU Parker, because you ARE a dog and you have to listen to all this. From now on,”  I turned back to Seth,  “If you and Caleb are together with me and I see a dog, I’ll say SETH LOOK AT THE CUTE DOG.”

Parker is elderly now so it touched my heart that between the three of them, he was the only one to slowly creak to his feet and walk over to me in order to accept my apology and get his ears rubbed.

Seth was smiling again, no doubt imagining Caleb’s face when he realized Seth took back his favorite animal and he would no longer receive motherly notifications about dog sightings,

then……thank heavens…..the bus arrived.

~snow in March~

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Ah, the changeable weather of March.

This is what we woke up, nothing too terrible, but school was already cancelled and for hours and hours we felt rather let down. . . . .in fact, the roads were perfectly fine when I ventured out with Sarah for her dentist appointment at 11.

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Next door to the orthodontist is a small floral shop so the two of us ducked inside to look around before heading home.  It was warm and cozy and we met a cat named Penny.   Sarah said, “Penny is a great name for a cat.”

No one appreciates flowers like a Northerner at this time of year.  They are a feast to the eyes. . . . .

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We came home with this arrangement. . .and a soy candle.

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back at home. . . . .

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David and I played Monopoly with Seth and Sarah.  It was laborious.  And not fun.  By the time I had a total of 2 properties, everyone else had like 7.  I kept landing on non property spaces.  Seth played like he lives life, with no regard for keeping things orderly and neat, flipping around on the floor, spilling his iced tea, and so on.  He also got tired of the game even though he was doing very well.  We eventually congratulated ourselves for quitting at the half way point.  (we made it that far)  But isn’t the penguin token so cute?  I thought of you, Dad.

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“Why aren’t these kids in school?”

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“I can’t relax in these conditions.”

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The Christmas Cactus surprised me with one more blossom!  (in a cobalt fiestaware planter)

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Rich got home from Dallas just in time for the big snow-day.  Everyone was glad to have him back. . . .including Parker the dog.

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Eventually the snow picked up.

Rich went out with the children to buy a mattress for Joanna’s visit (tomorrow) and I had a nice hour or so to watch the snow fall and read my book (Don Quixote) which has been a highly amusing literary surprise.

“Published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. As a founding work of modern Western literature and one of the earliest canonical novels, it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published.”  ~wikipedia

I picked up a copy at the thrift store for like 5 cents.

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When they arrived home with the mattress, I had just put chicken enchiladas in the oven.  Everyone was so hungry.  Enchiladas were never anticipated quite like this.  We looked into the oven every 30 seconds to see if they were done.  Meanwhile, Rich told me all about his wonderful deals at the mattress store.  The man in charge gave them his full attention because, as he said, “You will probably be my only customers today.”  Rich told me his story as the children all hovered around, listening and watching for Mama’s reaction, after all they were so proud of their Dad and knew I would be, too.

Alas, just as Rich finished up his report and concluded by saying, “Wasn’t that a good deal, Shan?”,  Seth “ate his chair”, in the words of our 15 year old son.  He had been rocking back and forth on his stool, leaning on it instead of sitting on it, and it slipped out from under him and landed on him with a loud crash.  We all looked down at Seth on the floor as he started saying, like he was trying to convince himself or maybe pray for a miracle, “I’m okay, I’m okay!  I’m okay!”  Rich helped him to his feet and dusted him off.  It was dear little his nose, the part right between his eyes.  It swelled up slightly and bled a little but was not broken.  “Wow, he totally ate that chair,” said Dave,  “Is the chicken done yet?”  Seth went to look at himself in the bathroom mirror.  A picture would be nice right about now but I wasn’t in the position to be photographer at that point, I was too busy congratulating my husband for buying 2 mattresses, 2 pillows, 2 sets of sheets, a mattress protector, arranging free delivery and old mattress pick-up, all for the PRICE OF JUST ONE MATTRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!  “Wasn’t that a good deal, Shan?”  “Wait, I’ll tell you just as soon as I feel Seth’s nose to see if it’s broken………….”

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I’ll just post this photo again.  Boy was dinner good.  They all dug in and enjoyed as they ate in front of the TV and got up for seconds and thirds.  Yes, TV is totally okay during meals on snow days.

The rest of the day passed lazily.  PTL

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The snow continued to come down heavily and we woke up this morning to yet another snowday.  Rich plowed the driveways and headed to work after telling me, “No, I cannot take them with with me,” and the children went right outside before 8,  after breakfast to make hyenas.  (I don’t know but they took the bag of carrots, I saw Parker running around with one in his mouth)

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I filled up the bird feeders and admired little cat tracks.

I’m blogging in front of the window with my slippered feet up on the sill.  When I look outside I have to squint a little, the snow is so white and bright it puts our ideas of “white” to shame.

a little husband and wife story

On Friday night I started falling asleep before our tv program was over so I gave up and went to bed.  A few hours later I woke up to complete stillness in the room and thought, “Wow, Rich never came to bed, he must have fallen asleep on the couch!”  Nothing gets by me even in the middle of the night……I don’t even need lights to get to the bathroom at night.  Thus I got up and blindly walked around the bed to the bathroom and then when I was done, to save myself some steps, I started crawling over Rich’s side of the bed to get back to my side.  To my shock and horror, I landed right on top of my husband who was flat on his back, peacefully asleep.  He woke up startled, grunted, and reached out his hands to grab my arms and help me over which I thought was strange but I quickly backed up while apologizing and went back the way I came, which was around the bed and not over the bed.  I crawled under the covers meekly on my side and held my breath.  Thankfully he fell right back to sleep and so did I.  By the next morning I was laughing and laughing.  I had never jumped on top of my husband while he was sleeping before.  Although I secretly knew he wasn’t really trying to be chivalrous and gentlemanly about helping me get over him, it made for a good story.  I also wanted to see if he would react to my altering reality slightly.  After hearing me tell the tale to the children multiple times that morning he finally spoke up and teased,   “You can go right ahead and keep telling yourself that I was trying to help you but I was really trying to protect myself, I was in a very vulnerable position.”

And that’s the truth.

 

longer story

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The Impact of Food….Or Family?

At my home, our eating habits as a family have changed a bit over the years.  I am the oldest of seven children, and as a result our household is one of constant, noisy hustle and bustle.  My dad is a hard worker, and has worked his way up in the company that he is a part of, therefore we are reasonably well off.  We don’t really have to scrimp and save to get what we need.  However, my parents both come from families that had to live frugally while they were growing up, and so they both have the habit of frugal living etched into their DNA.  The kinds of food that we eat and the close ties that I have with my family help to enrich my experience with food.  It is very safe to say that it is not the food itself that keeps me coming back to certain places and certain dishes, but the strong memories and pleasant experiences that I have had over the same plates and in the same restaurants with my family and friends.

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I was born in upstate New York, the state my parents love, and also a state that is known for it’s cultural foods.  My Dad is a great lover of pasta and pizza, and pizza is a favorite food of my family’s.  One favorite pastime of ours when we go to New York to visit our extended family, is to meet at our favorite pizza restaurant and to catch up on the latest events around a fresh, hot pizza pie.  Thin crust is, of course, the way to go in New York, and it is usually topped with flavorful sauce and heavy mozzarella cheese, with the occasional topping of pepperoni, mushrooms ,bacon, or sausage.  I have countless great memories of the restaurant, which my parents and grandparents have been providing with service since that day that it opened it’s doors.  I have countless pleasant memories with pizza in general.  I have spent some time up at Castleton University, since it is where one of my numerous brothers goes to college.  One of the first things we did together was explore the various places to eat in the area.  To our great delight, we found a wonderful little pizza shop only about 10 minutes away from the college.  As soon as we opened the door, thick, warm, and familiar scents of tomatoes, cheese, and meat flooded our nostrils. Smiles instantly leapt onto our faces as we cheerily said hello to the staff.  It was an environment that made us feel at home, and it was just one more pleasant experience with this wonderful food.

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This brother and I are very close, he is only a year younger than I, and we’ve had our fair share of experiences when it comes to food.  When we were very little, we used to spend a lot of time in our Grandmother’s blueberry patch.  We call it “hers” because it is conveniently right across the road from her house, however it is entirely wild.  My Grandfather painstakingly grooms it.  He is always keeping the grass around the huge blueberry bushes mowed short, and is constantly making new pathways upon which to walk through and around the bushes, and lengthening, widening, and improving existing ones.  The blueberry patch is quite large, and my Grandparents share it with other animals of the forest.  Bears, deer, rabbits, turkeys, foxes, and countless songbirds are all appreciative of my Grandfather’s work at making the blueberries accessible, and they can be found in among the bushes on a daily basis.  My siblings and I have many fond memories of walking through this blueberry patch with our Grandma, oftentimes joined by the occasional Aunt or Uncle.  We would comb through the bushes, looking for the biggest and ripest berries, which we would pluck and place in a bucket to bring home.  Grandma keeps large quantities of berries in her freezer for the off-season, and she uses these to bake into pies, muffins, or pancakes, which she always treats us with whenever we visit.  Her pancake recipe is one that she has perfected, and is one that my Mom uses to this day.

This same Grandmother keeps a large garden, in which she grows corn, peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, radishes, and any other vegetable that she decides to grow on a given year.  My mom has a small garden every year as well, but Grandma’s garden has always been the garden to us.  She is always finding creative ways to cook vegetables from the garden into her home-cookies meals, and she also takes great pride in her pickles, which she makes in batches every year from her cucumbers.  These cucumbers were always a source of pleasure for me as a kid.  I looked forward to being able to pick and eat them whenever went to Grandma’s house.  They are the perfect snack, crisp and crunchy and as fresh as they could possibly be.  Half of the fun was hunting through big, thick, and rough cucumber leaves to find them, and then snapping them off the vine and washing them thoroughly with the garden hose before eating them.  She gets all of her seeds from a local market which is open at certain times of the year and contains all manners of plants and seeds, along with locally produced syrups and honey.  This market is another favorite place to visit for us, and whenever we go to visit my grandparents in the fall we usually make a pit stop there at least once or twice.

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When it comes to cooking, I would like to say that I’m decent, although my cooking skills have never really been put to the test.  I can read a recipe and produce an edible result, but my Mom is the one who does most of the family cooking.  Usually, her meals are pasta-based since these are the meals that my Dad tends to enjoy, in fact, if he ends up cooking for some reason or another, we will most likely end up eating spaghetti (or pizza).  My Mom makes all manners of pasta, from the favorite spaghetti, to lasagna, ziti, or stuffed shells.  When she doesn’t make pasta, she’ll make savory roast beef or sweet and salty pulled pork, or she’ll make various dishes with fish.  She is quite a creative cook and has a whole bookshelf dedicated to cookbooks.  She is always looking for new recipes that the family will like.  My Mom used to be a lot more strict when it came to junk food than she is now.  When I was little we almost never had candy or soda.  Now, although it is still by no means prevalent in the home, it is not sanctioned as heavily as it was back then.  My cooking tends to include lots of pasta as well.  I’ll usually make penne, bow tie pasta, or spaghetti, and serve it with marinara or vodka sauce along with meatballs if I have them.  I also make a splendid teriyaki salmon dish, which is made with maple syrup and teriyaki sauce marinated and baked into it to give it a wonderfully sweet flavor.  I also make salad a lot when I’m with my friends; iceberg lettuce combined with carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cheese, and croutons topped with caesar, ranch, or french dressings.  This is by  no means the healthiest salad in the world, but we consider it a healthier option than fast food at least.

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My brother and I used to be somewhat explorative with our early cooking.  Mom used to let us play around with ingredients and make our own homemade soups.  We would gather our desired ingredients, usually a mix of vegetables like peas, corn, beans, and potatoes, and we would usually use hamburger and beef broth and explore how these ingredients worked with each other to produce unique flavors.  Mom would always be close by and would assist us if she felt like we needed more experienced help.  Once, when Mom was out of the house, my brother and I decided that we would try our hands at baking a cake.  Unfortunately, we had little to no knowledge of baking, and I have since forgotten the exact ingredients that we used.  All I know is that we used far too much cocoa powder, and the result was a disaster of a “cake.”  Mom returned as we were contemplating where we went wrong, and she was extremely amused.  Years of living with many kids have taught her not to be surprised when we do things that she’s not expecting.

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These experiences that I had while growing up have shaped me to be the person that I am. Walking through the garden and the blueberry patch with my Grandparents, creating wonderful failures with my brother, trying different pizzas and pizza shops with my Dad, eating my Mom’s home cooked meals; these are all positive encounters with food that I have had that have moulded my culinary techniques and tendencies.  Our experiences with and around food are some of the strongest ones that we have, and these memories with those that we love are what keeps us connected to the foods that we eat.

***

Jacob wrote this yesterday for college composition.

I was making homemade meatballs while he worked.

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A delightful story came home in Sarah’s backpack on Monday.  Picture me reading this in the kitchen after baking two batches of two different kinds of homemade cookies, for my children.

It was a fascinating eye opener for me, as I tend to live in dreamland where children don’t care about video games as much as smiling parents with big hugs, warm cookies, friendly kitty cats, a big front yard outside in the country, lot of siblings, and clean bedrooms full of a magical assortment of good wholesome toys, puzzles, and books.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha! 

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It’s the “evre day” that gets me.  If it said “sometimes” or “occasionally”…..sure.  But “evre day”?  really?

So, without Further Delay….

Evre Day Aftr Scwol, by Sarah, six years old, & perhaps a genius

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I went don stars.  too play viteo gams.  I like to play viteo game.  I like playing mincraft.  Sarah said, “I like playing mincraft.”

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I saw a Zombe it was abowt to esplod my howse.  Me and my dogs ar going to cil the Zombe.  Sarah said, “cil it dogs.”

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I dfetid the Zombe.  And I was hape.  And my dogs wr hape to.  I went bac to my howse to feed my dogs.  Sarah said “I love my dogs.”

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Aftr I dufetid the Zombe I went to my hose.  In my hose I gave my dog’s mett.  Sarah said, “I love my dog’s”.

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Aftre I gave my dog’s mett I went to go hunting with my dog’s.  Sarah said, “yee haa”.

 

The End.