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March 2010

Sam takes a hostage

Being the inspiration for my column, Sam seems to feel a sense of responsibility to provide fodder for fresh writing material. He tends to do this right before my column is due. Like the first time I had to call poison control. And the second time I had to call poison control. Like the time he swallowed a screw. Like the time he got croup and we took our first trip to the ER.

As of this week I can add a new little Sam adventure to my list: getting locked out of my car with both babies in it. To be fair, the blonde one is more of a freakishly mechanically inclined toddler than a baby but still ... my heart dropped when I reached for the handle and realized they were both in there, Jake was screaming and I couldn't help him. Sam, luckily (or not) thought it was pretty awesome so he wasn't one bit afraid.

I'll back up ... back when I used to swear all the time on this blog I would've used a word that started with "cluster" to describe the morning we were having, instead I'll settle for "chaotic."

We went to the community center open play room for too long after play-pre-school so Sam was waaaaaaaay past his cooperative point. Jake wasn't doing much better which tells you were I was at. So it's raining, of course, and I'm wearing Jake on my front because I seem to be incapable of figuring out how to use the Moby in other ways. I've got Sam by the hand, my backpack and extra bag of extra things we may (or may not) need. (We didn't). I get to the car, open the front passenger door to put the bags down and Jake pukes. All over me. Sweet. (And I say "puke" because "spit-up" implies a lot less than what this kid is capable of throwing down all day long.)

Sam takes the opportunity to climb into the car and worm his way over to the driver's seat. This is the third time in his two years on the planet that he's played in the front of a car, and the first time under my supervision. 

I let Sam play as I come around to put Jake in his seat. First I have to take off my coat to get the wrap off so I can clean him up. I didn't strap Jake in because I wanted to get Sam out of the front seat and buckled into his own before doing anything else. I shut the door and went to open the driver's side door. Sam grinned at me as I realized it was locked. My key was in the coat covering Jake.

 Amy came over to see how we were doing and I started to panic.

She started troubleshooting. I told her to go ahead and leave. I knew I could convince Sam to unlock it.

"I'm not going to leave!" She said. Which was a good thing because she saved the day in the end. But we aren't there yet.

As I'm pounding on the window to get Sam's attention away from the newly discovered CD slots and all the buttons, a lady walks over from the Sheriff's office. Yes, isn't that awesome? I am parked across the parking lot from the Sheriff's office. She offers to help. I tell her I think we're good, I'm sure Sam can unlock it. In fact, I'm positive because he pointed to the button with the key on it before resuming playing with the blinkers.

Then she hears Jake screaming. "You have a really little one in there. I'm going to have to get a deputy now."

Damn. It.

Really, Sam? Don't you know I just voted against Carlton contracting with the Sheriff's office?

And then Amy saves the day by holding a sucker up to the window.

"If you open the door, I'll give you this sucker." He tried to negotiate to get the sucker without giving up the front seat. When he realized she was serious about the conditions, he pulled the handle and released his hostage. The car alarm started going off as the deputies were walking toward us.

Good times.

Because I'm still the kid who doesn't want to go to the principal's office, I was afraid I'd get in trouble but really the police were there to help. I'm just glad they didn't have to.

Meatless Monday: Yogi Pizza

I'm going to do something I haven't done before, and that is recommend a recipe I haven't tried myself. So you let me know if it worked :) In this case I'm taking my friend Erin's word for it because I wanted to share her lovely blog with you. I got an invitation to become a fan of the Mamastay Yoga Company on Facebook but I had no idea that it was Erin's company - that's how wrapped up I've been in my own world. I checked it out and decided to pass it on to you.

For her pizza recipe, and more importantly her essay comparing and contrasting her experience with making pizza and practicing yoga, click here.

Remember the Meatless Monday campaign site I wrote about? Here are a couple more to check out if you're doing a little web-wandering yourself.

"Still life with a whisk" and "FabFrugalFood"

Passing on the gold

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work."

- Mary Oliver

This morning I thought I'd paint you a little picture of where I'm at mentally. I woke up every few hours to feed my sweet kiwi and then played the "beat the boys awake" game so I could get a shower in, dress and maybe thrown on some make up. Except I can't find my makeup bag. Anywhere. All I  know is that in a mad dash to clean the house before I left to let Chris show it, I stashed some things in unusual places. Evidently my makeup bag was one of those things. (I'll check the oven before I preheat it).

So forget the makeup, I head to the computer to start working on my column that's due Wednesday and I'm thinking "hell, I can't write a grocery list right now how am I going to write a whole column?" My working draft, a process I can explain later, is in shabby shape and I really don't know if my editor is going to go for my "this space intentionally left blank" idea. What? It would accurately reflect life at this moment.

Why am I blogging right now? Because Jake is somehow hungry again and I've typed all this one-handed, with my left hand. It's not exactly Lindsey Von's life but hey, you can keep your medals, I'd settle for some time to myself and a night of uninterrupted sleep!

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go change my puked-on shirt (for the second time this morning) and get my other little darling out of his crib, where he's been happily talking and singing to himself while I finished feeding his brother. This could still turn out to be a pretty great day.

Back to the Beginning of Us

Cape Alava - soaking wetVillage Books  

I stayed up until a little after midnight last night. The boys were both asleep and Matt and I stayed up talking. And talking. And talking. Matt is not normally the chatty type so I was willing to push the sleepiness aside to listen. There was a lot to talk about because, it turns out, neither of us can remember the last time we did that. There's been a date or two since Sam was born a couple years ago but just sitting around at home and planning for our future together hasn't happened in a long while. I didn't even realize how much I'd missed that until I went to bed that night feeling like I found something I'd lost a long time ago.

We've come a long way since our days of basement-apartment dwelling, frozen-dinner eating, bookstore-browsing for hours upon hours. By some people's standards we might even be called grown-ups. Which somehow doesn't preclude us from leaving clothes on the floor next to the hamper - ahem. But I digress. We used to talk for hours in the beginning of us. About everything. Dreams for the future, memories of the past, and plans for the present.

And then life happened and 12 years later we talk about what needs to be fixed in the house, how to pay for new tires, (following the argument over whether we really need them), what the kids are (or aren't) doing, and how in the hell we're going to keep the dog in the yard before she gets killed (by a car or one of us). Dreams? Who has those? Ah, yes ... people who sleep.

I know it's easy to lose each other in the shuffle of life's details but you think it won't happen since you do, after all, see each other every day. But do you?

Do you really see each other, I mean?

I just ask because it turned out that we hadn't been and it feels pretty great to feel a flicker from the beginning of us ... without all the angst of "will he call me back?"

I love this picture of us from a time when I wore overalls (and not because I was pregnant) because it's in front of one of our favorite bookstores back in Bellingham where we met.

Sweet Surprises

Sam & Jake
Sam & Jake (2)
Sam & Jake (3)
Sam & Jake binky 
On the way to pre-preschool this morning, Sam said "bless you" when Jake coughed and then said, "Thank you, Mama."

"For what, bud?"

"For my brother Jake."

Somehow I kept the car on the road through my misty eyes.    

Sam decided Jake is ready for a Giraffe of his very own. I was shocked to see Sam put Giraffe in the swing and say "there you go Jake." As soon as he did it though, he looked a little freaked out. He looked at me and said "That's Sam's Jaff. I take it back okay? I give him binky."

Since then he's been insisting that I take a little stuffed tiger along every time I pick his little brother up.

Baked weaponry and wheat berry salad

First bread

My first loaf of homemade bread - and by that I mean machine-made. It is quite possibly the ugliest thing I've ever made in the kitchen. Also, it's more like a homemade weapon than something you'd actually eat. If I knew what went wrong, I'd know what to do differently next time but unfortunately it's a matter of layering exactly measured ingredients and then pressing a few buttons and yet I somehow mangled that. Sam, being both a good sport and ravenous little kid, ate it without complaint ... but I was a little worried about him chipping another tooth.

Something I made that did turn out is this wheat berry salad my friend Barbara brought over for dinner the week of the wonderful meal train she organized for us. The recipe is off the back of the bag of Bob's Red Mill hard red spring wheat berries.

It's a little chopping-intensive if you're not a fan of that sort of thing so I suggest doubling everything and making twice as much salad to enjoy all week. Also - it's best to make it the night before but don't let that stop you from making it because it's still good either way.

The salad disappeared before I got a picture of it. But here's the recipe:

Basic Cooking Instructions:

1 3/4 cups water

1/2 cup rinsed Wheat Hard Red Berries

1/4 tsp. sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to rolling boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for an hour or until tender. Drain and set aside to cool or serve immediately.

Wheat Berry and White Bean Salad


1 cup cooked Bob's Red Mill Wheat Berries

1 cup cooked white or navy beans

1/2 cup green onions, chopped

1/2 cup celery, sliced

1/2 cup tomato, diced


1/2 cup olive or canola oil

2 Tbsp. lemon or lime joice (fresh)

2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped (next time I might try cilantro)

1 Tbsp. honey mustard (is this a common household item? I didn't have any so I mixed together honey and mustard)

2 Tbsp. shallot, minced

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Mix the vinaigrette by combining all the ingredients with a whisk or in a blender. Add the salad ingredients and mix well. Let chill overnight or for several hours to let flavors blend. Served chilled on a bed of lettuce. I'm just curious - I see that all the time "serve on a bed of lettuce" but wonder: does anyone every actually do that?

Starting (play) School

Sam had his first day of (play) school yesterday. It was awesome! We were late, but don't tell the punctual Mr. Hardy that please. I was impressed I got us all out the door dressed, fed and relatively clean.

I wasn't sure how Sam would handle the new experience. We've talked school up quite a bit but then yesterday Lucy had a training session with our obedience school instructor and I told Sam she was in school. His eyes got kind of wide because Sandy was standing on the leash near Lucy's neck to encourage her into a settle position. In retrospect I probably should've called it something else. Then again, the kid was amazingly well behaved. He kept saying how much fun he had at school.

We were, of course, the last ones to arrive and Sam stopped in the doorway and watched for a few minutes before deciding it would be worth checking out. They had him at the first table: cars + a huge tub full of the punch-outs from the Casino's card decks = Sam Heaven.

He later discovered where all the other cars were stored and spent the most of the remainder of the time moving the cars across the room by the handful. It was fun to watch him sharing with other kids and then surprise of all surprises sit down for circle time. He sang and listened to part of the story before realizing he could be playing with the cars all by himself. Except he couldn't. So we had a little tantrum and then went back to the circle. Until he decided he could be playing at the craft table taking the lid off all the glue sticks. And then coloring with the glue sticks. "Come on, Mama, let's color." He said as he swiped a line of glue on each block of paper he could reach before I could stop feeding Jake and explain to Sam about how glue isn't a color and we can't use all of the paper. See, teaching opportunities abound.

Honestly, this will be as much a learning experience for me as it is for him as I watch the teacher interact with the children and set up age-appropriate activities and navigate the world of toddler practice sharing - which is to say not sharing most of the time.

As I drove us to school sweating and heart-racing I realized it was likely too ambitious of me to commit to being somewhere on time twice a week but I really wanted something for Sam that was all about him. Since it's a pre-pre school parents have to be there and I'm allowed to bring Jake since he's so new to the planet so I feel like I'm still with him but someone else is in charge of creating the activities and learning opportunities and (my favorite part) the clean up. The joy on his face and watching him wave to one of his new little friends on the way to the car was worth it!

Cheerio Cookies

Cheerio Cookies
There are secrets to baking. And I don't know any of them.

Sam started his first day of (play)school today and I needed something he could eat on the way there that he wouldn't refuse and that wasn't messy like applesauce in case he slept in and didn't have time to eat at home. So I made these Cheerio Cookies figuring it's got some good stuff in it and something for breakfast is better than nothing, right? I mean, unless we're talking about Red Bull on ice in which case nothing might be better. The first time I made these I thought they were awful but I may have overcooked them and I left out the sweet part trying to make them healthier. Bad call. This time even I like them. Sam is just delighted to have cookies for breakfast. Pronounced: cooooookeee.

We call these Cheerio Cookies but technically they are "Double Oat Breakfast Cookies" and I pulled the recipe form Better Homes and Gardens Prize Tested Recipes, Sept. 2009 by Marie McConnell

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 water

1 egg

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour and they seem fine)

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup golden raisins and/or milk chocolate pieces (I read this as an open invitation to experiment and used cran-cherries and white chocolate chips)

3 cups round toasted oat cereal (I used Cheerios)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Beat butter and peanut butter with electric mixer on med to high speed for 30 seconds. Sam didn't understand this concept and we may have over beat it. Add sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl. Beat in water, egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the rolled oats as you can with mixer. Stir in any remaining rolled oats. stir in raisins and oat cereal.

2. Drop dough by scant 1/4 cupfuls about 3 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie shoot. (Oh. I just read that part about ungreased. I greased it. Nothing exploded). Flatten slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cook on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely. Store cookies in tightly covered container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. MAKES 24 (2-cookie) SERVINGS. (No, it does not. I forgot to count how many it did make though. Maybe my 1/4 cupfuls weren't "scant" enough!)

Happy anniversary!


Happy Anniversary Mami & Tati - my parents celebrated 40 years of being (and staying) married yesterday. FORTY years. That's a lot of loving, listening and compromising. I've learned so much about who I want to be as a wife and parent from watching the way my parents interact with each other and the world. This is not to be confused with us agreeing  on everything but rather that with enough love, listening and compromising you can make a pretty damn happy life for yourself.