Thursday, March 26, 2009

Moms in Style (section)

I am a little addicted to the Style section of our newspaper. I'm embarrassed to admit that I merely glance over the bad news about plummeting stocks and flooding in North Dakota and head straight for some Style section. I may not know much about Geithner, but I could have a doctorate in Ask Amy columns. It's these little things that get me through the day sometimes...

So, here's some cool stuff culled from the Style section I thought y'all might like:

Was this lady the first mom blogger? Maybe so... check out this book about a woman's diary in England after World War II: Here's a bit about the book...

Nella Last may be the most prolific writer you've never heard of. For nearly 30 years, beginning in August 1939, this mother of two in Barrow-in-Furness, England, wrote a diary at a 60-page-per-month clip, leaving behind several million words. Her journal was part of a social research project called Mass Observation, which did exactly as it sounds: collected the observations of citizens who shared their thoughts on matters both personal and political. (It later morphed into a market-research company.) An edited portion of Last's musings was published in 2006 as "Nella Last's War," which also served as the basis for a BBC series, available on DVD, called "Housewife, 49" (a name that reflects Last's age when she began the diary).

"Nella Last's Peace," the second volume in the series, picks up in August 1945 and ends in December 1948, when life shifts slowly toward "a new era," as Last puts it. "When war first broke out, I used to feel wildly, 'Dear God, where has all the fun and laughter gone?' . . . Yet now we are all like an untied bundle of sticks, all tired and busy with household tasks." Her account records the personal adjustments -- returning to housework full time, dealing with a husband's moods, simply figuring out how to put a meal together in lean times -- that trickle into daily life amid sweeping international change. It's not necessary to read Last's first volume to become immediately absorbed by her honest and heartfelt story.

I also read about this new TV show that actually got a very good review from the Post's hard-to-please TV critic. "In the Motherhood" starts tonight on ABC. It might just be worth firing up the old Tivo for. But can it top "Real Housewives of NYC"--my latest obsession? Does anyone else LOVE this so-bad-it's-great reality show as much as I do? Probably not. I think I've gotten Brandon hooked on it too. Best husband ever? Yep. I'm just answering all my own questions over here. Jump in anytime.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Things I am sick of

1. Finding peanut butter smeared across my white kitchen cabinets.
2. Not being able to use my computer without someone begging to play Wall-E or or for something to eat or to watch a show.
3. Finding my hair on everything constantly. I now understand how "mom" haircuts happen.
4. People always asking me for food.
5. People making toys out of things like hangers and old vitamin water bottles.
6. Constantly dressing like I'm running late for my 8:00 a.m. freshman English class.
7. Yelling about how I'm not going to make food at the moment.
8. A certain yogurt fan always leaving her foil yogurt lid yogurt-side-down on the table.
9. Losing my patience.
10. Kids playing "ghost baby" with Teddy by putting the living room throw on his poor little head.

Having sort of a "day" over here in case you couldn't tell. Nothing specific is that horrible. Just lots of little things that make me want to lock myself in my bathroom and hide out for a little while. Except nothing makes the kids want to hang out with me more than if I am in the bathroom, so that won't really work. Emma's hungry... back to the grind.... Serenity now.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How does your garden grow?

We may not all agree on bailouts and health care, but can we all agree gardens = good?

We aren't going to be able to do much gardening this year...apart from killing our little sproutlings that are currently suffering on the windowsill, but I'm pumped about joining the Great Country Farm CSA . We'll get a weekly box of fresh produce and unlimited visits to the most fun farm ever. And lots of excuses to make that beautiful drive to Bluemont, VA. Can't wait until it's warm enough to go!

Got any gardening plans? Eating plans? Spring plans? I'm so jealous of all the Texans out there who are already picking strawberries and whatnot (Suzanne). This is the time to be a Texan if you can swing it.

Happy Saturday!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

This gets me every time...

I'm sitting here posting this through tears because I just re-read this Anna Quindlen essay again. I'm reading it on the heels of reading the Rosin article I just posted about and all the wonderful comments that followed that post, and so now it's like I'm seeing it with fresh eyes.

It's hard to pick a favorite line from this essay, but I think right now my favorite is this:

"When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who
they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their
true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let
them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity."

It seems like this should be some sort of "goal" (for lack of a better word) of motherhood...right? To end up with people you "like best in the world?" Doesn't that make breast milk sort of seem like a grain of sand on the beach of childhood? That's a rhetorical question--I don't want to spark another debate. ; )

Here's the rest of the essay...get the tissues handy!

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, have all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations --what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there some thing wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China . Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the, 'Remember-When- Mom-Did Hall of Fame.' The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pick up. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, 'What did you get wrong?'. (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get onto the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Breast Is Best?

I just read an article in The Atlantic called "The Case Against Breast-feeding." Here's the blurb about the article from the magazine:

In certain overachieving circles, breast-feeding is no longer a choice—it’s a no-exceptions requirement, the ultimate badge of responsible parenting. Yet the actual health benefits of breast-feeding are surprisingly thin, far thinner than most popular literature indicates. Is breast-feeding right for every family? Or is it this generation’s vacuum cleaner—an instrument of misery that mostly just keeps women down?

Whoa. I don't know about where you live, but around here, saying something like that will get you kicked out of Music Together or Baby Mandarin pretty quickly. Despite the shocking premise, I think the article has a lot of really interesting things to say about modern motherhood.

Hate this? Like this? I'd love to know what you think. I think this subject is so interesting! If you're like me and never click on links to videos, then I would urge you to make an exception and click on the podcasts that accompany the article. I think you'll really like them. Really. You should click on them. Please? Here's the link again just in case you forgot. : )

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's cooking at Hot Rob's

Emma is my official sous-chef. Every time I fire up one of the burners on the stove, the sound of her stepping stool being dragged from the bathroom to the kitchen is not far behind. We made pumpkin bread together the other day, and I was shocked to discover that she had already buttered the loaf pan without me asking her to. The girl pays attention. The other day as we made pancakes, we were talking about what it would be like if we opened a restaurant together someday. We both agreed that would be pretty cool and that cousin Olivia would have to be part of the action because I hear she is quite the foodie as well.

So, I asked Emma what the name of our restaurant should be and she said, without skipping a beat, "Hot Rob's." Of course. What else would it be called?

We've decided that Hot Rob's will definitely serve pancakes...and pizza. I'm not sure what else. Maybe pumpkin bread? That sounds like a place I'd like to eat. With a name like "Hot Rob's" I envision lots of beach volleyball being played there. And also it seems like there should be ribs.

Two Weeks/200 Bucks
As the official cook and grocery shopper of the house, I have decided to rise to the challenge over at this mom blog (what up, Phillips family!) and try to feed my family for two weeks on $200. This was quite an undertaking for me. I like to cook what I'm in the mood for and not necessarily what happens to be on sale. So, here's what I came up with:

Monday: Roast chicken, roasted carrots, mashed potatoes (roast two chickens at a time and make stock with leftover bones)

Tuesday: Chicken (use leftover chicken) Caesar salad, fruit salad, bread

Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pie Empanadas (use leftover chicken and chicken stock)

Thursday: Fish tacos, guacamole, rice, black beans

Friday: Individual pizzas at home

Saturday: Make your own taco night!!

Sunday: Spaghetti & Meatballs

Monday: leftovers

Tuesday: Grilled chicken + "butterflies + trees"

Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner (Brinner!)

Thursday: BBQ chicken (chicken breast + BBQ sauce + slow cooker=BBQ chicken) + baked potatoes + some kind of veggie

Friday: Cheese pizza (kids) & BBQ chicken pizza (grownups) (use leftover BBQ chicken), salad

Saturday: Pork tacos & quesadillas (use pork from freezer), guacamole, fruit

I must admit, I'm using pork and fish from the freezer. I'm not sure if that disqualifies me or not, but I came in at $188 and change. The other grocery shopping bargain tip I've come up with is shopping online. If you have this option in your area, take advantage of it! You can look for the best deals on pork butt while surfing the net post-bedtime. Way more cost-effective than buying Paula Deen magazines when the natives get slightly bored in the checkout line. I ordered my groceries online on Sunday night and cruised right up to the front door of the grocery store and had them loaded into the mini van the next day. Pretty awesome.

We have had to go back to the grocery store for things like nighttime pull-ups and dishwashing detergent, but my friend Ramona says those things don't count as groceries and I am totally with her.

So, Hot Rob's is in business. Anyone want to come over for some pancakes? Or BBQ pizza? Or beach volleyball? You're always welcome at Hot Rob's.