If only Rudoplh would BTFO ...

Was talking to Miss O today about the joy that is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ...

... and *honestly* - is that not just the suckiest message for kids? Ever? His parents are embarrassed of him because he looks different, the other reindeer mock him and even Santa thinks he's worthless because of his nose. "Rudolph, those are some mad flying skillz, but you've got a shiny nose, so tough tiddlywinks." It's only after he saves them all from certain death that he's worthy of flying a sleigh. I've thrown out everything Rudolph-related in my house ...

Anyhow. Her Royal Tininess and I were chatting on the drive between dropping Bean off at kindy and dropping HRT off at daycare, and she was talking about Rudolph.

HRT: Mumma, Rudolph has a shiny nose
Me: Yes, he does. And the other reindeer are mean to him about it. Is it okay to be mean to someone because they're different?
HRT: No. That's not okay. Who was mean to him?
Me: The other reindeer
HRT: What other reindeer?
Me: The other reindeer in the story.
HRT: No, mumma. What were their *names*?
Me: Well, I believe it was Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen.
HRT: But not Clarice.
Me: No, Clarice was the only one that was nice to him.
HRT: His mommy and daddy were nice to him.
Me: Right, they were. Mommy and daddy and Clarice.

Her Royal Tininess thinks on this a spell.
HRT: Mumma?
Me: Yes?
HRT: What do you do when someone makes the mad face at you?
Me: Ahhh ... Well, if someone makes the mad face you should probably just leave them alone and give them some time to feel happy again.
HRT: Why didn't he leave them alone?
Me: Who?
HRT: Rudolph. When the other deers made the mad face, why didn't he leave them alone? If he just goed away and let them be happy, they'd like him.
Me: ...
HRT: Maybe they were mean to him because he was annoying.

She has a point, you know ... It's a message I wish she'd pass along to her big sister.

Austin Zoo, 11.28.10

We love our Austin Zoo membership and visit often. We got there right around opening time today, and the crisp, cool air made for great visit. Miss O was most taken by an orange kitty cat, not at all wild or exotic, and would have been content with a visit that consisted of just hanging with that kitty. Said kitty is missing an eye, and Miss O declared "I can be the person that finds lost kitty eyes and gives them back to the kitties that losted them." A highly specialized niche, no doubt.

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Kiddie Acres November 2010

Fueling up

Riding the carousel

Budding pilots

My little horsewomen

Making new friends on the ferris wheel

Going home

I'm thankful for ...

Looking back over the past year, I'm thankful for



Snow Days







My girls

I'm thankful for so many things ... I actually kind of consider Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good" a theme song of mine. Well, that and Frank Sinatra's "My Way" ... but "My Way" isn't quite as giving-thanks-y. I mean, I'm thankful that I can and have done things my way, but that's not the point today.

Sh*t My Three Year Old Says

Technically, she won't be three for a month, but close enough. Lu has been on a roll lately with the things she says. Below are a few I've captured for your reading pleasure.

"We can't hang Bean's picture outside because hopper-grasses will get it!"

Lu: "Get off of my finger, you silly things"
Mommy: "It's probably just glue"
Li: "It's skin. From dolphins. I don't know how to get the skin from the dolphins off. Bad dolphins"

Lu: "Mama! I have a deal: you don't make the mad face and we will get our butts in the chairs and stop whining. Okay?"
Mommy: "Okay"
Lu: "No. Say 'deal'. Say 'deal', mama!"

"Mama! Thanks for coming home. You drove your car and you came home. You're the best mama!"


Oh Bwunhilde, you'w so wuvwy!

After a long five days without them, the girls are back. Their dad will be out of town on his regular Thursday, so he picked up the Monday shift. I had a 9:00 meeting today, so his timing was pretty good. Except for the fact that he returned Bean to me with a sore throat ... and he's heading out of town tomorrow. Just once I want to be the one leaving town when a kid is getting sick.

Regardless, it was a happy reunion, with neither of them wanting me to leave a room they were in, and both snuggling in close at bedtime. I told O she was my snuggle-bunny, and she replied "No - I'm Little Bit!" (That's one of my nicknames for her - she goes by LuLu, Little Bit, Bits and Llama Llama, depending on her mood.) I tried to explain, but she was having none of it. She's my Little bit and I'm her Best Mama.

Between dinner and bed, Bean colored and O took out one of her little houses and played with her "dollies", which are a bunch of random 3-5 inch figures, like the Playmobil people, a couple Disney Princess dolls, some old-school Fisher-Price people and other random people. She sets up a little village with the small-scale dollhouses and the big wooden parking garage we have and enacts various little household dramas, all set to song. In my head, I see her as an opera singer, complete with a tiny little horned hat, cape and pointy stick.

To get you in the right mood, here's Miss O's opera du jour, to the tune of "You Are My Sunshine". The ellipses are when I couldn't understand her, so I waited for the next stanza

And now we're here
at mommy's house
Strawberry Shortcake
is the big sister
and now the big sister is me
Her name is Ariel
and she is my mom
my mom is Sarah
and she doesn't know
And then she's fallin
in the di-irt
and then she's stuck
in the dirt all day

And for anyone who, like me, thinks Bugs Bunny is comic gold, What's Opera, Doc?

Oh balls ...

As my kids have aged, it's led to phone conversations with the in absentia parent. Sometimes these are brief, parent-initiated calls, and sometimes they're more involved kid-initiated calls. I've called them at their dad's several times, wanting to say hi, only to hear them say politely "no thanks" when he asks them if they want to talk to me :)

But miss a kid-initiated call, and you'd think they actually saw you purging their toys while they were away. I've had several whining messages from Bean on my voicemail when I miss their call. I can hear her dad in the background, trying to talk Bean off the building's edge when mommy doesn't answer.

Yesterday was one such message, so when I called back, Bean had tons to talk about, including the request that I pick her up. It went much the same with Miss O, who insisted that I could come pick her up. As my conversation with her reached it's (mercifully soon) end, I asked to talk to her sister again.

Miss O: Okay, bye mommy
Mommy: Can I talk to your sister?
Miss O: No, you've already talked for her. You haven't talked for my daddy.
Mommy: That's okay. I'd really like to talk to Bean again.
Miss O: (firmly) You already talked for Bean, and you've already talked for me.
Mommy: (realizing the only way to return - as promised - to Bean) Ah, okay. Can I talk to your daddy?
Miss O: Daddy - come talk for my mommy!

In the car the other day, Bean was thrilled. She'd read the required 15 books in October to score a free Pizza Hut pizza. Her dad called to say hi, and she told him about it.

Bean: Daddy, I got a pizza coupon for reading 15 books! I'm going to take mommy to dinner!
Daddy: That's great! Next time we can go to dinner ...
Bean: Only if you marry my mommy.

Thankfully, I'm not held to the same standards. No-one tell her the certificate is only good for a personal pan pizza, okay? She's very excited about paying for dinner, and told me "This time you don't have to spend your money - I'll pay for dinner!"

Today's foray into cooking is muffin pan meatloaves. This is a serious win, because Miss O likes meatloaf but won't eat meatballs, and Bean likes meatballs but won't eat meatloaf (I seriously cannot make these things up). This way I can market the same product to my two disparate audiences: "Look! A big meatball!" and "Look! A personal meatloaf!".

I also used this to sneak in some veggies; jarred pasta sauce has veggies, and some of the newer baby foods sneak in some of the more exotic veggies (seriously, what typical American diet kids actually eat lentils?) Another cool thing about small-scaling? Way easy to freeze daily portion sizes.

Muffin-Pan Meatloaves/Meatballs

2 lbs protein (I used 1.25 pounds of 93/7 ground turkey and .75 pounds of 85/15 naturally-raised ground beef)
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 3.5 ounce package Sprout Organic Baby Food, Pasta with Lentil Bolognese, Stage 2
1/2 - 3/4 cup Ragu Organic Traditional Pasta Sauce
1/4 - 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Mix all the ingredients together. I actually did it in a gallon zippered plastic bag to shield myself from the dreaded "raw-meat-under-the-nails" syndrome, but, alas, when it came to making the balls, I had to sully my manicure.

Form into racquetball sized balls and drop into a standard muffin pan. This recipe made ten big balls (I loved typing that) - you can experiment with the ball size (giggle) and cooking vessel that suits your whims.

Cook at 350* for 30-40 minutes.

More sophisticated palates than those my children possess may note the blandness of the recipe and the sauce. I zinged my serving up with basil, oregano and garlic salt and it was nom-a-licious. If I were cooking for people to whom a McNugget was not haute cuisine, I'd have used onions, garlic and tomato paste. But the lentil Bolognese wasn't noticeable at all - I'll probably step that kind of element up on the next go-round.

(My conscience dictates that I note I'd really prefer not to use conventionally-raised meats, or even meats at all for the most part. But as I'm cooking for two picky kids on a single mom income, sometimes I just have to go with what works. Once I've got a couple rounds of this in the "accepted by both kids" pile, I'll switch to locally-raised, pastured meat. Another aside: my 5-year-old will eat, by the pound, these eggplant meatballs, so if her sister would deign to try them, that might be all I used.)

Do you know the muffin chick?

It's funny; I used to always have my blog set to the WYSIWYG editor, but lately I've been firing it up using the HTML editor. Technically, the Blogger interface should be called the "kinda-sorta-html-editor", as you don't have to format text or paragraphs or anything, but it's the HTML editor. And I sound damn cool saying I'm using the HTML editor. (My mom is still trying to figure out what I'm talking about ... it's cool, mom, just skip to paragraph four.)

At my job, a switch from sending Outlook-based emails to sending them via an email marketing service means that I've had to gradually learn basic HTML coding. And I'm starting to realize that I'm more comfortable producing documents in HTML and doing most of my own coding, than I am trying to make the email marketing interface do what I want. So I created templates in Sharepoint Designer (the software formerly known as FrontPage), since that lets you switch between the WYSIWYG and HTML editing seamlessly, and then I tweak all the coding I need daily.

It's cool, because, really? Who doesn't want to know a bit more about how things work? And when you're a closet control freak like I am, well, that extra degree of "ha! I am the lord of all I survey! Or, at least all that I survey and know how to do!" is just icing on the cake.

And that's how I lost my virginity.

See what I did there? I told my mom to skip to paragraph four and ... nevermind. It was funny as hell to me.

So I'm on post three out of the five I should have done by now for NaBloPoMo, but I think that's officially two more posts than I did in all of October, so go me. I have banana chocolate chip muffins hot from the oven, Parmesan bread rising in the bread maker and my windows wide open, so it must be fall in Texas. I also have all of the accompanying detritus in the sink, and I am not at all looking forward to cleaning up after myself.

But I will share my muffin recipe :) I've kinda bastardized a couple recipes and used spelt flour in place of regular flour.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Preheat oven to 350*

Wet ingredients
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Dry ingredients
2 cups spelt flour
3 teaspoons baking power
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

(You can do a cup of banana and 1/4 cup of milk, if you want. I just use whatever bananas I have and beat the crap out of them with the mixer, then use milk to reach 1 1/4 cups of banana + milk.) Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer. Add eggs and mix well. Add the already mixed up bananas (I did them first and measured so I knew how much milk to use) and the milk and mix it all until smooth.

Put the flour, baking power and salt in a bowl, and make a little well in the middle. Pour the liquid in and, using a spatula or big old spoon, fold, rather than stin, everything together. Mix thoroughly, but no longer than necessary, and then fold in the chips.

Spoon into greased muffin pan, bake at 350 degrees for 18-25 minutes. Makes 8-12 muffins, depending on how much you fill the cups in the pan :) Eat them right out of the oven for best results; you can also cool and freeze.


Wordless Wednesday

Howdy, y'all

Happy NaBloPoMo!

For the less-bloggy, it's National Blog Posting Month, where bloggers commit to posting daily for the month. I've been slacking so badly on my blog, I'll give it a whirl to see if it kicks my butt back into posting more regularly.

I'm trying to reconcile it being November first with having to still run the air conditioning. I so miss North Carolina in the fall ... windows open, maybe even running the heat in November ...

But I'm a Texas girl. Well, at least until I can move to Alaska.


After a bumpy start to Kindergarten, Bean has been settling in really well. She's reading like crazy, and her teacher even assigned her another child to mentor. Since I've always likened Bean to a Border Collie (as in, she does better with a job, and gets in trouble when she's not challenged and busy), so I'm happy to see her teacher harnessing some of that energy for good instead of evil.

Speaking of evil, here's my favorite exchange she and I had on Halloween:

Bean: "Mommy, why is everyone dressed like a princess?"
Me: "Because they like princesses. Why are you dressed like a witch?"
Bean: "Because I like evil."

Miss O is just a little pistol. She's alternately sweet, funny and temperamental. She's doing fabulously in the new preschool she started in August, and 97% of the time she's a delight to be around. But since she's in the middle of the "Terrible Twos - Terrible-er Threes - F'ing Fours" cycle, the 3% of the time when she's *not* a delight to be around can make a mommy long for a Valium drip.

But if anyone thought Bean had the lock on saying stuff that makes you laugh out loud, Miss O is officially giving notice that she's giving her big sister a run for her money. As evidenced by the following exchange between them:

O: "Mama, how do you spell horses?"
Bean: "h-o-r-s-e-s"
O: (pauses a beat)"Are you the mama? No. Mommy is the mama"

Oh yes. Yes she did.

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