7QT: Mom, we don’t have anything to eat

One: My kitchen is full of really, really great food.  I have a rainbow of tomatoes.  I have three  gorgeous, shining eggplants, one of which looks just like Cyrano de Bergerac.

image

Two: Just naming this eggplant Cyrano made me look for the scene from Roxanne in which C.D. tells all the nose jokes in the bar.  After watching it, I remember exactly how I felt the first time I watched it: sad that he had heard it all before, and that that scene wasn’t nearly as funny as the rest of the movie.

Three: Anyway, as I was saying, my kitchen is full of all this incredible food, but my children can’t find a single thing to eat.  Seriously.  Jonah went to pack a lunch the other day and said he couldn’t make a sandwich because there was no cheese. (We did have turkey, bread, bagels, peanut butter and four kinds of jam (seriously:4!), tomatoes, pesto, pears, grapes, and leftover pasta with homemade sauce. Not that all of that could have gone on one sandwich…)

Four: On my run the other day I listened to a great podcast from Another Mother Runner, in which Sarah and Allison interviewed a registered dietician about healthy snacks for families. It was good inspiration to come home and prep for a bunch of easy-to-eat snacks. I instapotted (verb, past tense) several pounds of beets to freeze for future beet smoothies and Can’t Be Beet Hummus (recipe from Eat Slow, Run Fast), hardboiled a bunch of eggs, and peeled five pounds of carrots (which I store in jars of water to keep them from getting dry and ashy), and froze about twenty pounds of peach halves, also for smoothies.  Then the children proceeded to eat all of my hummus and carrots in about seven minutes. (Seriously?)

Five: On the AMR podcast, the R.D. guest mentioned she had a free downloadable chart to hang in your cupboard to help your kids pack their own lunches, to encourage them to select foods from more than one food groups.  What a great idea! I envisioned a list of proteins one might keep in the cupboard or fridge: hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, beef jerky, and individual packs of hummus and PB. I thought this amazing printable might have a list of quick-to-grab fruits and veggies, and a selection of grains.  I have to have that list!, I thought.  It will save me hours of pain and hassle every week, if my kids will just look at it and make themselves a balanced snack out of all the amazing food in our kitchen!

Six: So I looked up the name of the RD, found her blog, signed up for her mailing list and opened the email with the Free! Downloadable!  [insert unicorn glitter emoji here] Magic Cupboard Printable to Teach Your Kids How To Pack Their Own Lunches!

Seven:  Guess what? It’s blank. It’s just a piece a paper with the different food groups on it, and you have to write your own list of foods.  Back to square one.  Who wants some fried eggplant noses with purple hummus?

image

Check out This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick takes!

Advertisements

7QT: Instead of the news

One: It’s been hard to write this year. There is so much terrible news, and all of it is much more important than anything I have to say about school or local food. When I finally get over it to write something and schedule it to post automatically Monday morning, something terrible happens (looking at you, white supremacists who overran Charlottesville, and nutcase in Barcelona) and then my response appears to be some links about the upcoming eclipse.  There are many thoughtful, wise responses to the state of our nation and world.  I’m sorry that you won’t find them here.  Read them first, and then when you can’t take reality any more, you can pick up some sheet cake and come back here to read about something less distressing.

Two: Welcome back. While you were gone, I’ve been organizing our books.  Every year I  pull out the ones I want to have handy to assign for school.  I’ve been putting it off this summer because… well, see #1 above.  (It’s not just writing that’s been hard.)  But school starts on Monday, and I’m running out of time. I began yesterday by going through all the shelves and pulling out the books I need. Now I have to make room for them in a convenient spot, which involves moving those books somewhere else.  Anyway, it quickly became overwhelming.

image

image

image

image

Three: So instead of finishing the task, I moved on to the abundance in the kitchen.  It’s August, which means melons and corn and tomatoes and peaches. Hallelujah. A God who made the peach is Someone I can get behind.

image

I used to spend a hot, August afternoon sweating over the canner with these beauties. No more. Now I wash them, slice them in half to remove the pit, and freeze them on parchment paper. (The peaches, not the pits.) It takes about 10 minutes and involves no heat. Then, when the peaches are frozen, I throw them in bags.  In the winter they are perfect for the cobblers and smoothies that are the antidote to the February blues.

Four: While I’ve been working hard (or running to escape the news), the children are struggling with boredom. Poor things. I feel so sorry for them.

Five: Phoebe has taken to writing a newspaper.  I was nervous about this at first, until her first two articles were Tips about the Eclipse and Tips for Going Back to School. A girl after my own heart.

Six: Moriah has been coping by baking. Alas, that enables my coping by eating. After days of double chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars and flourless chocolate cake (she has been limited only by the egg production of our hens), I begged her please to make something that could count as lunch.  “Here,” I said, “use all these gorgeous tomatoes to make some sauce.”

image

image

image

Seven: Teenage boredom for the win. Now if I could only talk her into helping me with the books…

When you can’t take the real news any more, check out Kelly for more Quick Takes.

SQT: Small triumphs

Seven nearly-random observations about life on 8/11/17.

image

  1. I just made a record-fast trip to the DMV to renew my driver’s license. I brought approximately 80 pounds of school books to prep for lessons (starting school in 10 days! ack!) and then only made it through one before they called me.  I am happy to report that my photo is marginally better than the one I had taken 13 years ago, immediately after my worst haircut ever. (It was a “short shag” and is the only haircut I’ve ever gone back to have fixed after the fact.)
  2. When I got home I realized I’m flying to my uncle’s funeral tomorrow and have no driver’s license (for up to 30 days.) Thank goodness my passport is current.
  3. Our farmers are donating a full share of vegetables to our refugee friends. It had taken so long for her to call me I’d given up, but instead it’s just been a busy year. (I can relate to that.) So starting next week, they’ll be getting delicious yumminess like this: image.  Hooray!
  4. Owen’s godmother was in town and took him out to brunch. It has been such a blessing over the years to have my children’s godparents to share in the care of and prayer for our children. (As an added bonus, I got to spend time with her too, after brunch.)
  5. I have been following the IAAF track and field world championships, mostly on youtube. (If you know a better way to do it without cable, please let me know.)  The most impressive thing I’ve seen so far is the sprint finish (after 26 miles!) of the women’s marathon.  (That’s a youtube link.)  Those women are amazing.
  6. We spent yesterday in the mountains with my friend Christine and her kids. She and I have been friends since medical school (24 years now).  Even though the kids are getting older, all of mine rearranged work and other schedules so we could spend the day together. (Side note: it still startles me that the kids’ calendars are as busy as mine.)
  7. I know I came across as an Instant Pot skeptic on my recent post.  However, I just hard-boiled a dozen eggs (start to finish, 22 minutes, so only slightly faster than on the stove) which were the easiest-to-peel eggs I’ve ever made.  I thought I had tried all the tricks on how to make a fresh hen’s egg peelable, and none had worked till now.  The Instant Pot made the perfect hard-boiled egg.

image
I really, really hope Owen is standing on a rock.

Check out Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick takes.

7QT: Pre-College Curriculum

image
This is the t-shirt my college sent my son as a “thank you” for forwarding his test scores. Their admissions department is very clever.

As our oldest begins the college search, my head is full of all the things I have still to teach him.  So many things, so little time.  I can hardly believe it’s just a year till he graduates!  Here is a list of skills I would like him to master in order to be ready for college:

  1. Survival food: how to make a grocery list, navigate the grocery store, make a week’s worth of dinners and clean up the kitchen. So far he has mastered the grocery store, kitchen clean up, and making three of our favorite family meals.  There’s not a lot of motivation to conquer the making of a shopping list.
  2. Survival car maintenance: how to change a tire and how to pump gas.  He’s got the gas-pumping down.  For extra credit, he also learned how to get rid of the creepy gas-station-guy hitting on him while he pumped gas. (Of course, I just changed a tire but didn’t think to call him to come & learn how.)
  3. Survival finances: how to use the ATM, how to do mobile banking (can anybody remember using passbooks, or is it just me?), and how to make a budget and live within it.  Our bank offers kid accounts (both debit and savings) so he’s been managing his banking for a while.  I think he’ll be fine with the budgeting since he’s my frugal kid, but some of my future graduates may have a harder time.
  4. How to call for help.  4a. He called the bank to have an unauthorized charge removed from his debit card.  4b. He spent an hour on the phone with the IT department at the college where he’s taking classes next year to resolve the problem with his registration. 4c. He regularly navigates the online help lines for his computer and purchase-related problems. 4d. He knows how to call us.  What else should we be practicing here?
  5. Using Google maps.  A year ago, he was completely overwhelmed by driving at all. Now, he and his brother are comfortable setting off in rush hour with an address and an app to find a friend’s party in another town.  It’s amazing to me that we have come so far.
  6. How to play ultimate Frisbee. I didn’t say he has to enjoy it. He just has to know how.
  7. How to do his laundry. Cause there’s no way this mama is going to do it for him.

Okay, friends, what am I missing? Please let me know in the comments! (And better yet, if you’re interested in a good game of Ultimate, come on over!)

I’m linking up with Kelly @ This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick takes, so go check her out!

7QT: Summer Screen Time

Although our weather doesn’t quite feel like summer yet (we had 6 inches of snow a week ago), the kids are in full summer mode, which means eating popsicles, staying up late, and trying to have non-stop computer time.

Last summer, we implemented a checklist in order to make sure our days had some redeeming qualities, amidst the hours of screen time.  It worked so well, I’m implementing it again.  This year I’m trying to hold them to the American Association of Pediatrics’ recommendation for no more than 2 hours* of screens per day, although some of us can do an hour just in the bathroom!)

image

So here, without ado, I present the 7 most common complaints in response to our summer screen time plan.

  1. Our friends can have as much computer time as they want! (I doubt this is true. In fact, I know it’s not true. It just feels true.)
  2. Owen’s been practicing for hours and won’t let any of the rest of us practice! (This one is actually true, and it’s why we now have two pianos.)

image

3. I’m doing __________ (swim team/ballet/gymnastics) later, so can that count as my exercise?

 

image

(The answer: not if you want to have computer time before you go.)

4. But there’s nothing to read!

 

IMG_3830

5. But the house is already clean! (Ummm….. no.)

6. There’s nothing to make! (How about breakfast? Or lunch? Or dinner?)

7. But I’m so booooooooooored! (Actually no one uses this one, because when you’re bored at our house, it means you get to clean the bathroom.)

What does summer screen time look like for you?  Are you texting your kids in the bathroom to tell them to slide the iPad out under the door?

Go check out Kelly @ This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Quick Takes!

*update: I had originally write 1 hour (the AAP recommendation for 2-5 years olds.)  My children were so mad about this that actually went and looked up the recommendation for themselves.  It’s two hours per day of any kind of screen, for children older than 5. And no screens in the bedrooms, because they’ve been shown to interfere with sleep.

 

7QT: the April blur

One: I can hardly remember back to Lent, even though we’re not a full two weeks into Easter.  I know I totally stank at my Lenten disciplines (does that mean I picked the right ones, since they drove me right into an awareness of my need for grace?). Instead, I spent every spare minute studying for my board exam.

image

Two: my friend Lori came to hang out with my kids during my exam.  (Excellent, but then I wanted to be with them the whole time!)  I should have the results just in time to register for the October exam again if I failed.

Three: One day while I was studying at Starbucks, a dog came in and got a puppiccino.  Apparently this is a thing.  And she liked it. A lot.

image

Four: I had a list of things as long as my arm that I’d put off whilst studying (think showering, cleaning, cooking, exercising, answering emails, and all the other work sundries that I wouldn’t let spill into our homeschooling time).  When I finished, however, I spent a week just reading novels because I was so fried.  This week I managed to drag on some clothes, do yoga twice, and put up our Easter tree.

image

Five: meanwhile, life marched on.  The girls had a dance performance at school.  Here’s Phoebe as Little Red [Riding Hood] and Moriah as a wolf (she’s the one in the furry legwarmers and scary make-up- second from the right):

image

Six: This week I am finally finding my groove again, though Sam traveled to the middle-of-nowhere FEMA training site to learn how to protect us all from Ebola.

image

Don’t you feel safer now?

image

They seem to be having a little too much fun.

Seven: Tuesday I got to watch my friends’ 11-month old.  He loves Moriah, so she did a bunch of the baby-toting, and to be honest, he slept a lot.  But when he was awake, I spent most of time trying to figure out how to baby-proof my kitchen.  It involved a lot of rubber bands and kitchen tools to prop open drawers.

Baby-proofing:
image

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?  Hopefully no Ebola.  Check out Kelly for more Quick Takes!

SQT: the kitchen laboratory

One: This is a photo of my daughters mummifying a chicken.

image

It’s the third time I’ve done this.  First, we did it when Jonah was 5 and we’d just begun our study of ancients history.  He has no recollection of it.  My recollection was very hazy until I realized that I’ve made the exact same mistake 3 times now.

What I should have done was mummify a Cornish hen, because the chickens they sell in the grocery store these days are enormous and a) require an incredible quantity of salt and spices to suck all the liquid out and b) don’t fit in standard freezer bags.  Which means I lasted 4 days before I couldn’t take the smell and had to throw the rotting carcass away.

Two: this is Jonah doing AP biology lab #1.
image

After watching me freak out for several weeks, my kind husband tentatively asked, “You seem really stressed out. Would it help you if I took over the laboratory portion of AP biology?”

YES!!!!!

He didn’t have to offer twice.  And let’s be clear: of the two of us, he’s much better qualified than I am.

Three: Did I mention I hate having stuff all over my counters?  My fantasy kitchen is spare and bare with empty counters and wide expanses of space.  But alas, we have to eat, so my counters are covered with food.  Right now I’m trying to figure out what to do with the many lovely tomatoes we received from our CSA over the past two weeks.  (I’ve been eating them every day, but I’m the only one in the family who will.)

Four: In the past week, Moriah has done two osmosis experiments with eggs.  The first culminated in egg all over the counter and floor before I could take a photo.  The second, um… culminated in egg all over the counter and floor before I could take a photo.

Five: This is her other experiment: sodium bicarbonate crystals.
image

She begged and begged and I said no and said no… until I realized I was telling my child she couldn’t do science because I wanted a clean counter.

Maybe I’m not actually cut out for this home school gig after all.

Six: Amongst the bag of tomatoes (what, you don’t keep your tomatoes in Athleta bags?) and Sculpey creations (that’s a giraffe eating from a tree) and rice is a bag of moldy cheese.  On Monday I took all the moldy cheeses (last count: 5 types) out of the fridge so we could look at the different molds under the microscope… but we haven’t gotten to it yet.

image

Seven: the other experiment is to see how long I leave that bottle of fake “Original  syrup” we inherited from a pancake breakfast on the counter before I can’t take it any more and throw it away.
image

Wait- I have an idea!  We could do an egg-osmosis experiment to see which direction the fluids run through the permeable membrane if we soak an egg in corn syrup…

We’ll see if I can capture a photo before it explodes.

For more Seven Quick Takes, check out This Ain’t the Lyceum.