entertaining little ones


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I don’t remember when this happened, but it was only a few weeks ago. I had made roasted mushrooms for dinner. My boys hate mushrooms, for who knows what reason. They used to love them, but suddenly they despise them. Anyway, both Derek and I LOOOOOVE mushrooms, so I make them sometimes, sauteed or roasted, with butter and salt and lots of yum.

So I made mushrooms one night a few weeks ago. I had quartered them, seasoned them with salt, pepper and thyme, and roasted them in olive oil. They were vaguely triangular and dark brown. I invited both my boys to try them. Calvin abjectly refused, and Zeeb, ever more adventurous, though still susceptible to peer pressure, eyed them suspiciously, but nevertheless sampled one. As he bit in, he grimaced and shook his little head rapidly.

“Ewww, Yuck! They’re pigs! They’re noses!”

When viewed through the eyes of a 3 year old, perhaps cooked mushrooms do actually resemble pig snouts. But really? Not that much.

If you didn’t get the reference in the title, it’s all about the pig’s feet.

Well, we moved into our beautiful tiny house. OK, it’s really not that tiny at 1300 square feet, not including the 800 square foot basement, but the kitchen really is freakishly tiny, and there is almost no cupboard or shelf space. Ah, well. I guess that’s the price I pay for rushing into buying a house. That, and the nightmare of a shower.

Anyway, here’s how it went down. Two weeks ago today, I went to volleyball practice and came home to find Derek cradling his arm. He said he had planned on cleaning up the living room and doing the dishes while I was gone, but upon his exit to take out the trash, he misjudged the outside steps to the parking lot and came crashing down on his left elbow. The next morning, it was swollen, so he decided to go to the nearest urgent care. Sure enough, he had a spiral fracture of his radius. Yes, my strapping husband broke his elbow taking out the trash. My brother said it was the sissiest bone-break he’d ever heard of, and someone from church suggested we come up with a more manly story. In any case, his little accident exempted him from packing or moving.

So I got some people from church to come over to load the truck, and some different people from church to unload it at the house. And I was left with millions of boxes of stuff thrown in at random to sort through and find a place for. That was Saturday, and now it’s Wednesday. I still have many, many boxes to put away, and I finally found the spoons. There are already many hand prints on the glass of the front door and on the stainless steel fridge that I didn’t want, but my realtor insisted on. Because, of course, what idiot would want a white fridge? One with three excessively greasy little kids, I say! I’m still mad at him for that.

So far I’ve hit my head on the chandelier about 5 times, and Derek has once. I’ve slipped on the carpeted stairs, but I didn’t break any elbows. Our next door neighbor mowed our lawn when she found out we had no lawn mower and Derek had his little ailment. She also trimmed the ivy from our porch. (We have a porch! We have ivy!) Two other neighbors helped me move in the dining table I bought. You all would be jealous of my great table. It’s a solid wood expandable table with turned legs that have acorns half way down. The matching chairs have the acorns too. The lady who sold me the table (for practically nothing) also sold me a cute cabinet with carved panels and a glass door. I might have to post pictures, because this stuff is too great. That will be after I get the real computer hooked up, after we figure out how to ground the circuits in the outlet so we can put in a 3-prong outlet.

Calvin is successfully transferred to his new school, which turns out to be not the one 3 blocks away, but a separate Kindergarten building more than a mile away. I was so worried about getting him there every day, since we still only have one car, and I really can’t drop Derek off every day to keep the car. Then I found out the there is a school bus (which is called a shuttle here, because of the local aversion to school buses) that picks up at the elementary school to take the kindergarteners to their building. So I will only ever have to walk my kids to the 3 blocks away school. I almost cried from relief when I found that out. It would have been fine if I only had one kid, but I think making Zeeb walk the mile and back twice a day would have been too much. Plus, at the pace my kids keep, it would have taken an hour each way. As it is, it took us 13 minutes to get three blocks today. And we didn’t even stop for Zeeb to puke on the sidewalk, like he did yesterday.

Hey, I’m not that bad of a parent. He puked because he was coughing, which was a natural result of his crying hysterically, which really came because I wouldn’t hold his hand while we walked, which was because I had to carry my 20 pound Kiki, which I can’t do for 3 blocks with only one arm. Which is Derek’s fault. He was clearing off the porch the night before, and he decided the stroller should go in the car, so we would have it in case we needed it somewhere. Anywhere except at home, of course. So anyway, Zeeb has a pretty sensitive gag reflex, and if he ever gets crying, he coughs until he pukes. Tons of fun. Mostly this only happens when he’s at home, safely ensconced in his own bed, in the middle of the night. Calvin has developed this amazing talent of leaping out of his own bed and running into our room, wailing, “Zeeb’s gonna puke!” And we can pretty much catch it in time. By that, I mean that we can catch it before it gets on anything other than Zeeb, his jammies, his pillow, his buggy, his pippo, and his bed. We haven’t had to clean it off the floor in quite a while, knock on wood. The other night, when he woke up coughing, I grabbed a bowl from downstairs and made it in time to save everything but the pillow and the jammies. But then I had to take him to the emergency room, because he couldn’t breathe. Turns out he has croup. They gave him some steroids and a chest X-ray, and he’s a lot better now. It’s been a long time since I stayed up that late.

This has gotten way too long. I’m tired. I have boxes to unpack. I’m sort of lonely, so if you are ever in Ohio, come visit me.

This boy just lies down when he’s tired and falls asleep. On the couch, on the floor, my bed, behind the couch, in the hall, anywhere.

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Tonight, while the boys were away for Pizza Rocket Day (I think I’ll save the explanation on that for another day), Kiki and I had a little dance-fest. Because who doesn’t love to dance with their favorite baby girl in the whole world? My only problem is that I’m so musically retarded that I have to scrounge from the depths of my adolescent years to come up with anything remotely danceable. I’m utterly ignorant of any and all new and currently popular music, so I’m sorry if these offend the senses, or take you back to 4th grade or anything. There is exactly one person who will be with me on these. You know who you are. And happy birthday last week, I’m so lame. I was gonna call you and I didn’t.

Who doesn’t love some good Chicago? I found a live recording of this song and was shocked at how bad it sucked. Don’t go searching for it, because your ears will bleed. Maybe this next one will be a little better? Wasn’t there a story about how Extreme got made fun of or accused of not being musicians and someone dared them to write a real song, and this was the result?

This next one is from 3rd grade P.E. class. I swear, they put us all in the gym, and this lady in a leotard and leg-warmers came in and made us do aerobics to this song. The visuals are not the traditional, but honestly, who sits around and makes random music videos with Spike in them? I gotta give them some credit for, I dunno, being some kind of weird that I just don’t understand.

And here’s some Jesus rock that maybe you haven’t become familiar with.

My very favorite album to dance to with my kids is The Sharpening Stone, by Kirkmount, a trio of brothers from Utah, but I don’t own it and it seems to be out of print or something, so if you have it, burn it for me. They played at my brother NungNung’s wedding, because everyone in my family has some sort of visceral reaction to their music. Also, the first time Derek ever told me he loved me was just after a Kirkmount concert we went to.

But back to the made-for-TV stuff I loved when I was 12, do you remember this? Do you remember how awesome it was in, what, 1987?

And who wasn’t in love with the Goblin King himself? Come on, you know you were. I even named my goldfish after him.

Turn back, Sarah! Turn back before it’s too late!

You know when you haven’t been to the market for a while, and you’re running low on vegetables? And low on everything else that could possibly be construed as edible? That happens about once a week here. Earlier this week, I perused the contents of the fridge with an empty head. I couldn’t come up with anything to make for dinner, and I had almost nothing that could be combined with anything else to make a passably edible meal.

Until I noticed the leftover macaroni from the night before. That had been a desperate attempt at getting the boys to eat something without complaining or making any retching noises. I had made plain mezzi rigatoni with butter, salt and pepper, and for the vegetable, cucumbers in vinegar. They ate, they forbore to complain. They even fought over the cucmbers. The next day, the leftover noodles became White Macaroni and Cheese, which was really sort of noodles alfredo, but a little different. I didn’t have any cream, but I did find a can of evaporated milk in the pantry. I melted the butter, tossed in some flour and made a roux, poured in some evap milk and regular milk, some salt, some grated parmesan cheese, and the noodles, and stirred it all until it was hot. The boys totally loved it, especially when I started calling it “White Macaroni and Cheese.” I would have liked it better with some steamed broccoli, green beans, or zucchini, but the boys would make noises. And sometimes I’d rather stab myself in the eyes with toothpicks than listen to the whining.

Fridge Fry #1: White Macaroni and Cheese

1 T butter
1 T flour
1/2-1 cup evaporated milk
1/4-1/2 cup milk
1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan, pecorino, swiss, or any cheese or combination of cheeses
salt and pepper
4-6 cups leftover pre-cooked noodles
some sort of vegetables, steamed or sauteed

Later that night, I still had the same problem with the no vegetables. I scrounged around some more, and found the remnants of the frozen Costco spanakopita that Derek and I love, but the boys won’t eat. I decided on a Greek theme, but I somehow couldn’t find any chickpeas. I did have some kidney beans, so I pulled out the remnants of the quinoa that the boys also mysteriously didn’t like last week. A solitary onion, a waning carrot, some leftover tomato paste, and a can of chicken broth? We have the makings of a South American soup. But how to turn it Greek?

I know this is totally lame, since I’m in no way Greek or South American, and hence no expert, but I got out my favorite recipe for stuffed zucchini and made the sauce for that. It has only cinnamon and oregano for seasonings, and I love it so much, so that’s what I put in the soup. It was no standout in the parade of jumbled concoctions my family has been subjected to in the last 7 years, but it wasn’t yucky, and the childrens ate. Zeeb even decided he liked the spanakopita and ate three. I felt cheated.

Fridge Fry #2: Greek-Peruvian Bean and Quinoa soup

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, very small dice
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t oregano
2-3 T tomato paste
1 can chicken broth
1 can kidney beans (or kiddy beans, in my house)
1 cup leftover pre-cooked quinoa (round rice)
water
salt and pepper
maybe some steamed zucchini, if you have it, or some diced and sauteed eggplant

On my mission in the Philippines, I cooked lunch for the people that lived in our house. One of my mission companions would give my dishes names that caused me to giggle. Vegetable Rumble with Tokwa was one. It’s pronounced “Betch-ta-boll Rrrrrahm-boll weeth Toe-kwah. Tokwa is Tofu. Another dish was Eggplant Macaroni with Color. I think the “color” was zucchini and tomatoes.

I would never comb my hair.
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