Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving (in a nutshell)

Ahh, Thanksgiving. A traditional holiday to do traditional things. My sister and I joke about the Thanksgiving menu, no deviations allowed from the original one my Mother set in 1970. I was hosting the mayhem this year, so my Mother sent an menu and shopping list. Organized by item type and section of the grocery store. Nothing like a little crazy to start the holidays off properly.

My Mother came down early this week to visit the kids' school for Grandparent's Day. Also so she could make the turkey. And make sure no one skipped the important step of boiling the giblets on the stove all day. Only my Mother eats them. And identifies each part before adding it to the pot ("hey, this turkey has no heart! And two livers? Do they just scoop up random parts to stuff in each one?").

I got to make the mashed potatoes. Because, well, I love potatoes. And they love me.

While we were waiting on the rest of the family approaching on I-5 from the north and south, we worked a puzzle. One we've had since 1980. My Mother was worried that we'd not be able to finish it "What time is Jenny coming again? We need Jenny for these hard parts!", but we managed just fine. Perhaps because we've worked it 5,000 times.

Dave took it upon himself to make Crispix mix. And stay out of the way. And try to ignore us all by watching football on his giant tv and his laptop at the same time. He's talented that way.

Tate hid out in his room. He had had his Star Wars toys taken away due to a small problem keeping his hands to himself. He finally made it one whole week without hitting and got them back. I also let him watch tv in his room in an attempt to keep him mellowed out and somewhat sane.

After Thanksgiving dinner we played an exciting game of ElvisOpoly. (Nothing weird about that, right?)

Guess who won?
The sun came out for the weekend so we attempted to worked off some of our Thanksgiving gluttony with a hike up and down Skinner's Butte.
How can you tell you live in a college town? They have a giant letter on the hillside. This is what Maisie scornfully calls"that big dumb O".
Finally, since it was my family holiday, everyone came prepared. Three bottles of wine from Oregon, two from Washington and three came from California. We didn't make it through them all, but like all family events "my advice to you is to start drinking heavily". A glass of wine makes it all so much more tolerable. :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Moment of irony

I was in a bad mood toward the end of the week. Mostly due to the 3 phone calls in 2 days. One from each of my children's teachers.
Julia was having a twitch with her bff about a bird nest she wanted out of a tree and her bff, who is tall, was willing to admit the obvious problem with trying to get it down. Julia was furious that said bff was not trying harder. Also, Julia, being her Mother's daughter, joined in another friend's made up rude song about the eurythmy teacher. Julia doesn't have an issue with this teacher, but good friend she is, she had to support her friend's vengeance through song. And she got busted.

Maisie was in the dog house for being loud. Imagine that. There is some girl drama in her class and Maisie has no patience for any of it. Oddly, the day before the teacher called to say Maisie was rotten all week, we'd had our parent-teacher conference and the teacher said she had been doing fine lately. (insert sound of banging head)

Tate, meanwhile, has had some issues this year keeping his hands to himself. Again, not shocking info. His best friend is a little boy with whom he tumbles head over heels with and growls at. They get on great because they are not children, they are puppies. This doesn't work so great at school though. Tate's lead teacher was gone on Wednesday and he apparently terrorized the class acting like a maniac. And a steamroller. With predictable results. I think his day would go better if I could attach some SCUBA ankle weights to his legs before sending him into class. It would slow him down and pull him down into his body and back onto this earth. He is so completely oblivious to anything going on around him. He doesn't mean to hurt or freak out other kids, he's just more testosterone than he knows what to do with. Shame you can't bottle that to sell to lazy, fat old men with erectile dysfunction. I'd be rich. And get less teacher phone calls.

Anyway, long story short (like that ever happens with me), the crafty ladies were working on a project for Winter Light Faire (school thing, of course) on Thursday and called to see where I was. I was home with the banished Tate, but they talked me into dragging him out to the come join them. As I was getting ready to go, I glanced out the window. And saw this:

Woah. Twelve wild turkey, giant birds, in my backyard. I've seen a few turkeys around town but never in my yard, and never that many at once. Twelve! I called to Tate was we watched them for about 10 minutes. The cats watched them too. One of the turkeys decided he didn't like the looks of Julia's cat and faced off with her, puffing up and sidestepping towards her until she backed off.

Once the wonder wore off, I started to wish I had a shot gun or a bow and arrow or even a handy baseball (and better aim) so I could catch one for dinner next week. As my wish was hanging in the air, the door bell rang.

It was a ham. A Honeybaked Ham. ? A Thanksgiving ham? (insert twilight zone theme song)

Turns out that they are one of Dave's customers. And they have a small problem with all the turkey consumption on the 4th Thursday of November. And the gods of turkey fowl saw fit to send us one. Personally, I think it's the turkey version of this cow ad, and a darn good story.
Shame I can't photoshop this with turkey heads and different signage. So, as Sesame Street says "You'll just have to use your imagination".

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mental Health Day

We are taking a mental health day today. Completely skipping school and all our responsibilities. Well except for Dave, who doggedly trudged off to work in the pouring rain, muttering about maybe coming come for lunch. Too bad that someone had to be a responsible adult today.

Our plan is pretty simple. Veg out and watch PBS (why they still like these dumb shows. I have no idea) in our jammies. Eat pancakes. Drink chocolate milk (cow or potato depending on preference and needs). Eventually get dressed. Go to WalMart (yes, we know they are the devil, but it's hard to have principles when you are broke). Rent some movies from the redbox or buy one from the $5 display. Buy some "junk food". Pick up a pizza on the way home. Veg out some more.

Now, you should know that our definition of "junk food" is pretty loose. Julia will chose something like tortilla chips as her treat. Or something bread based. She loves bread so much I'd wonder if she's allergic, except I've tested her twice, and she's not. She's just weird. Tate will want drinkable yogurt because, as always, he'd rather drink than eat. And $50 says Maisie will choose satsumas. We've not had them yet this year. She'll want to carry the box through the store, no way will she put it in the cart. And when we get home I'll have to keep reminding her to slow down and not eat them all at once. She'll still eat about 10 today.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Easy Peasy Gluten Free Vanilla

This is one of those "duh!" moments in my life. I have been hunting down and buying expensive gluten free vanilla for 6 years. I JUST found out how easy it is to make your own. Right in time for Christmas even.

So here ya'll go. GF vanilla extract recipe:

You need 3 things.

Vanilla beans:

I bought these online for $20. 12 of them from Madagascar. Supposedly superior to Mexican vanilla beans. Someone pointed out I could have bought them in town for cheaper. Too late. I'm just going to pretend I didn't hear that.


You can get potato vodka at the liquor store. Then it's gluten free. Maisie will be thrilled about this one day.

A mason jar with lid:

Look someone even started putting the beans in already! Cut the beans in half up the long way, leaving them attached at the top. They'll look like those long pine needles. Stick the cut beans in your jar. I used 7 even thought the recipe called for 6. I'm just like that.

Put the lid on. Stick the jar in the cupboard. Wait 6-8 weeks. Remember the jar when you are trying to cram groceries into your crowded pantry. Voila! Gluten free vanilla extract! I bought 6 little extract type jars to package my vanilla in for gifts. If you get one, act surprised.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Halloween version 09

Ah, Halloween. What can I say? Excessive amounts of candy eaten, rain and darkness, running and giggling, hair sprayed, costumes gathered and worn.
My Mom couldn't stand to miss the fun and tried to come down and visit. The original plan was to drive down with my Dad for the weekend. No such luck. This is a college town and every hotel was full up with rabid football fans. Fine. Mom decided the heck with my Dad, she'd just come alone on the train and crash in the bottom bunk in Julia's room. Who needs a hotel anyway?
The train arrives and grandkids go running!
My kids refer to my Mom as "Cracker". Nine years ago my poor mother was trying to decide what she wanted to be called when her first grandchild was born and came up with "Gram". My gma is Nana, my Dad's mom was Granny and Dave's folks are Grandma and Pa. Gram lasted about 3 weeks into Julia's life before Dave started referring to her as "the Gram Cracker". Cracker was one of Julia's first words, and now it's stuck. The kids will be horribly embarrassed one day. But that's the job of family, isn't it?
We spent Saturday morning before trick or treating like this:
And at the art museum on campus. Living in a college town has some benefits - free admission to the art museum and natural history museums on game days. This was the fabulous current exhibit:
How perfect for Tate!
Back home we carved our pumpkins. Maisie insisted on carving a little one from our garden patch. I grew a small variety of pumpkin since we have a pretty small garden. Rooster didn't care. She had fallen in love with this pumpkin when it was still a seed.
Tate was grossed out by the pumpkin guts and only posed working on his. He decided observing from afar was the best plan. He can totally sneer like Elvis. I'm so proud. I need a better picture of it, but you get the idea.
Julia was not so put off by the "eeew" factor.
Here are the finished jack-o-lanterns. Can you guess whose is whose? Hint: the middle airplane thing is actually an X-wing. Google it if you are not dorky enough to know what that is.
That's hair color spray next to the small pumpkin. Had I not had a lighter, I could have utilized my Camp Fire Girl training to start a fire with it. (Think survival in the 1980's - what resources would you have? Aquanet, of course! Who needs flint?)
Here's Rooster getting her hair done. She was a little weirded out by the process. Oddly, the hair color only showed up in natural light outside and looked just blonde inside. I had to take this picture so she'd believe me that her hair was green. (I was too lazy to re-set the date on the camera, btw. Ignore it.)
Hey look! It's Glinda the Good Witch and Anakin Skywalker! (Guess who commandeered the camera? Hint: they cared enough to reset the date.)
And a witchy Roo!
I was not impressed by the funky green face paint, but Maisie insisted it was necessary. Personally, I think she looks like she's in the witch ROTC.
Here's Glinda and Dorothy. Can you tell we live in rainy Oregon? Dorothy wouldn't need an umbrella in Kansas!
Anakin has ditched his lightsaber for a lollipop. The Force (of sugar) was obviously with him.
"Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?"
After the fun was over and the grouchies set in we went home, tortured kids through hair washing (hair dye + rain = not so nice) and sent everyone to bed. The kids left out their candy for the Sugar Fairy. She's a nice little sprite who gathers up all the leftover junk and leaves a surprise in it's place. The kids are always so stuffed by bedtime and sick to their stomachs that they are happy to leave the remains to be gathered up. And the gluten/dairy/artificial colored/can't-eat-it-anyway candy problem vanishes. No begging, no sneaking. Just one crazy night. That's what it's all about anyway, right?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A gift

I am going to mediation tomorrow with 1/2 the Waldorf school and a woman whose son said he'd shoot Maisie with his (unlocked) gun. I have spent a lot of time being absolutely furious about this. The incident was small and solution simple. It didn't work out that way. The whole thing has become a hornets' nest and my attempts to take the high ground and ride it out have failed. I finally agreed to go to mediation because I wanted something from the school in return. But I was still mad. Livid. Flames coming out of my head.

But I'm not mad any more. In the past week, I've felt an incredible, prodigious amount of support from friends and community members. I've found a goal to work toward. I've rediscovered my good intentions. I have stacks of emails and notes which show my attempts at reconciliation and contradict any statements otherwise. I have support people who will come and be with me during the mediation process. I have all I need. And I have peace.

A dear friend told me today that I was reminding her of the Hindu Goddess of Durga. I had to look it up to understand what she meant. Wikipedia says:

In Hinduism, the Goddess Durga (दुर्गा, "the inaccessible"[1] or "the invincible") or Maa Durga (Mother Durga) "one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress".[citation needed] Durga is a form of Devi, the supremely radiant goddess, depicted as having ten arms, riding a lion or a tiger, carrying weapons (including a lotus flower), maintaining a meditative smile, and practicing mudras, or symbolic hand gestures.
An embodiment of creative feminine force (
Shakti), Durga exists in a state of svātantrya (dependence on the universe and nothing/nobody else, i.e., self-sufficiency) and fierce compassion. Durga is considered by Hindus to be an aspect of Kali, and the mother of Ganesha, Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kartikeya.[2] She is thus considered the fiercer, demon-fighting form of Lord Shiva's wife, Goddess Parvati. Durga manifests fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion.

I can't claim to have maintained patience and serenity during all my battles, I do strive to be fearless and keep my since of humor. Tomorrow I will ride my tiger into what will hopefully be the end of the "get out of the tree or I'm going to shoot you in the face" drama. I have made my peace with it, I just want it over now. Wish me luck.