Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I am officially a Soccer Mom

It has happened...and I think I might like it. I am a Soccer Mom. I made plans to check out a Tykes soccer clinic (it sounds like they're fixin' the wounded balls) with Eli. I threw him in the car after dinner and asked him if he wanted to play soccer. He screamed. He was just that excited. He was doubly excited that there were no other children in the car coming along for the ride. The coach was running late, so when we got there we had to WAIT. He was spinning in circles and kept asking, "when can I play soccer, mommy?" Kid, just be patient. Not his, or my, forte. The coach arrived. She's in the picture to the right, with Eli. There were two other children in the class. Fantastic. The parents all struck up conversation. There are common acquaintances. Our children had such a great time. Coach was excellent. She switched up the games and activities every five to ten minutes, for an hour. The three kids were not lacking in attention and were thoroughly engaged. Eli was so happy and excited. Watching him attempt to do jumping jacks was the highlight of my time there. I couldn't help but smile the whole time. My kid was having a good time. He listened and followed instructions. He got along well with the other kids. He took turns and played well with others, and all the other tell-tale signs of being the perfect little brown-noser. Kidding aside, I liked sitting there and watching my child function independently...without me. He looked over a couple of times, to make sure I was there watching his independence. And I was...marveling in it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Amanda Wachob

For years I have tried to get the husband to tattoo what I want on my body. The tattoo I want is very abstract. It's the way I paint. I actually would like a tattoo of a painting I did before Eli was born, for his room. There are no lines. It's all color. The husband's style is with lines and no color. Today I found this amazing artist. Her name is Amanda Wachob and I am in love with her art. She has the most amazing tattoos I have ever seen. They are beautiful and full of color. I could never go to anyone but the husband, it would be like cheating. So, I am planning on inspiring him to push the envelope, so to speak, and do something outside his comfort zone. He's been telling me that what I want cannot be done. It can be. He will do it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


My two-year-old requested a smoothie for lunch. I am not a whiz with smoothies. I have simply followed a random recipe that I found a long time ago which included yogurt, juice and fruit. We have no yogurt. He really wants a smoothie. I have a container of extra firm tofu. Hmmm. No. So, I got out the blender and added the following: 1 banana, 1 sheet of nori, 1/2 bag of frozen berries (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry mix), a splash of Gerber White Grape Juice (the baby isn't drinking it fast enough and I don't want it to go to waste) and half an avocado. Mix. Taste. YUM! If you could only hear the sound of the straw sucking up the remnants in my son's just-about-empty cup...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Three Little Pigs

This morning we read The Three Little Pigs. Eli started handing out roles and wanted to act out the story. Um, I wasn't feeling very dramatic, so I suggested recreating the story via construction paper, cardboard and glue. It's 11:30 a.m. now. We started this before 10 a.m. and he hung in there for the hour and a half arts and crafts session. He got distracted by Between the Lions and took off. That's okay, because the glue has to dry before we can continue. Plus, it's almost time for lunch. Plus, I haven't showered ... I should do that.
This was such a cute and fun project for us to do. We used construction paper for the straw, sticks and bricks. I started out rolling pieces of paper to make the sticks. Then I remembered that we have craft sticks. Duh. So we used a combination of the two. We made little piggies. We haven't completed it all just yet. We still need one pig and a Big Bad Wolf. I think Eli mentioned something about him being the wolf, so we'll see. I grabbed some boxes of tea and emptied the bags into zippered baggies. Then, I found a baby oatmeal box, emptied the contents and used the box. Whenever using a lot of glue, I use old cookie sheets covered in aluminum foil for their work area. It lessens the mess and you don't have as much difficulty moving the projects from the table to another drying area. Win, win.

Odin, being 2 1/2 was with us for a half hour doing his own cutting and gluing. Then he got distracted. I started giving him scissors almost a year ago. He is pretty proficient now at cutting a straight line. I've discovered that if you think something is too advanced for a kid then they'll think the same. Give them a chance. Give your 18 month old scissors. Watch him carefully, of course. In time, he'll figure it out. Don't push, and don't pull. Try it. He'll let you know when he's done. Odin tests...he'll start to cut things that are not his hair, skin or clothes. He'll put the tip of the scissors on the inappropriate thing and look up... Okay, now you're telling me you're done. Peace out, homeslice. Make sure you're using blunt tipped scissors. Don't make the mistake that children's scissors are not sharp, though. I use them to cut fabric because my gigantic, pointy-tipped ones are duller. If you're not comfortable with metal scissors, the Melissa and Doug set is great.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I have decided that my family needs to eat more fish. Wait, what is that banging upstairs when the children should be sleeping!? I think it stopped.

Anyway, back to fish. We are gross carnivores. Not just the regular kind. We love greasy meat from swine. We love the 80% lean meat...not the 93% variety. My husband does not like fish and I do not like shellfish. My kids like tuna, from a can, and fish sticks. I made seared tuna a couple weeks ago. The husband ate it. Probably because he was hungry and wanted something besides a salad. Tonight, I decided to go with swordfish. It's not that "fishy", like haddock or salmon. It's more steak-like, without being anything like steak.

I decided to make Swordfish a la Siciliana.

3 ounces raisins
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
two vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
10 Picholine olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup capers
2 pounds swordfish steaks
pinch of salt

Soak raisins in water for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft. Stir in raisins, tomatoes, olives and capers. Cover pan and cook for 15 minutes.
Season the steaks with salt. Place in a lightly oiled baking dish and cover with the cooked sauce. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until steaks are firm.

The original recipe calls for pine nuts and pepper. We have nut allergies, so I omitted the nuts. I also didn't add pepper because I'm tired of adding pepper to things.

I loved the dish. The colors were beautiful. It was absolutely delicious. The sweetness of the raisins was balanced out by the flavorful Picholine olives and capers. I think next time I make this I'll omit the swordfish and put the mixture on rice or some sort of pasta. I might also increase the raisins, adding in golden ones, too. There goes my desire to eat more fish.
My kids love fruit, and I'm not a food person at all, so I paired it with black cherries. We had leftover green beans. I sprinkled them with sesame seeds so they'd look "new". I also made a red wine risotto. The risotto was easy. I followed the directions on the aborio rice container. Instead of the 3 cups of chicken stock it called for, I substituted one cup of Shiraz for one cup of chicken stock. If I had substituted all wine for stock it would have been too much, I think. It was purple and fun. Eli didn't like it. He made a face, ate the cherries and munched on the green beans. As you can see, Odin enjoyed it. Don't mind the shirtlessness of the boy, or the marker on his body. If he could be naked all the time he would be. That and tattooed.


I love doing experiments with my kids. I'm not sure if they are retaining the information, but I'm sure the in-the-moment experience is one they'll learn from. Maybe not. Either way, I'm having a good time.

Several years ago I did an experiment with the kids I taught. Dissolving the shell off an egg using vinegar. I love vinegar. There are just so many uses. Eating away the shell is just so useful...

All I had that day was cider vinegar. We poured it into the jar, put the egg in and placed it in the fridge for a day. As you can see, the bubbles on the egg are indicative of the whole shell-eating process. The vinegar is acidic and it eats away at the calcium shell. When the process was done, we compared it to a regular egg. We put the two into white vinegar (I had since gone and bought some). After another day, we put the shell-less egg into a jar and poured Karo syrup in so it covered the egg. The corn syrup makes the egg shrink. I just love this experiment so much.
After another day or so, the egg is all shriveled up. Apparently, and I did not know this until today, if you put the egg back into a clean glass and cover it with water it will resume it's shape. I will have to try this one again. The husband hates these sorts of things. "Gross, shriveled up eggs and vinegar all around the house." It's not like they take up the whole house. He just exaggerates...I think on purpose.

Crockpot Yogurt

Almost a year ago I tried making yogurt in my crockpot. Thanks to Stephanie at A Year of Slow Cooking, I was able to do it successfully. The first try yielded liquid. I don't think I kept it warm enough. The second time was awesome. I came downstairs after the crock sat all night and when I opened the lid I literally screamed I was so excited (picture on the left). I tried it a couple more times but couldn't master adding any sort of flavor. I like to try thing simply to do them. Once it's been done, I'm over it. I haven't made yogurt since. It's simply easier and cheaper to buy it. (To the right: straining the yogurt to make it more of a Greek consistency)

It's definitely healthier to make it on your own, but we just don't eat that much yogurt to make so much of it. I suppose I could make small batches... I think I might do just that. I had forgotten all about this until last night when I took a trip down memory lane via all the pictures I have stored on my computer. (To the left: pouring out the whey. mmm. whey...) They leftover whey can be used in bread making as a replacement for the water. I'd use a 1:1 substitution. It can also be consumed as buttermilk would, but I wouldn't drink either...not so tasty in my opinion. As my baby gets older, I think I might begin to make yogurt for him. Hmmm. Now that I have begun writing, all these ideas are streaming into my brain. And I can freeze it. Der. Frozen yogurt. Why haven't I thought of these things before?

The final product... I poured honey all over it and ate it relatively quickly.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

National Day

I joined a homeschool group via Yahoo Groups. I am a member of New England Unschoolers, Quiet Corner Homeschoolers, Village of Great Milford Homeschoolers and Worcester HEN. My oldest son, Eli, has been yearning for outside activity. His friends are all in preschool or Kindergarten now. I figured it was about time to join a group.
A friend of mine said it perfectly, "the mommies are hard." And they can be. I can be, too, so I get it. It's always intimidating coming into a new group of mommies. So I signed up for these groups and walah, instant friends. Seriously. I have been an active member of these groups for less than a month. I have signed up for a field trip, a project day (National Day) and two playdates.
Eli and I participated in National Day with the folks from Quiet Corner Homeschoolers out of Connecticut. Our project needed to be about a state. Eli wanted to do Massachusetts. Awesome opportunity for him to learn about the place he lives. We worked on it for three days...we came into it a little late. Eli, being 4, didn't really know what Massachusetts was all about, so I did the choosing when it came to what we wanted to showcase. We had visited the aquarium last summer, even though he doesn't really remember it. The Boston Tea Party was another idea. I told him, "People got angry because they didn't want to pay more money, so they threw tea into the ocean." Eh. He chose to make a guy into a Boston Bruin. Good times. We met a lot of other families. An older girl made Eli cry. Then he made a friend. Throughout our time there Eli said to me a few times, "Mom, I'm fine. Can you go over there?" While motioning away from him. Um...okay, kid. I'll go stand awkwardly over there.

Yay For Broccoli!!!

I love broccoli. Alone or with some sort of sauciness. I love it. Growing up, I was not unlike the hoards of children who chanted "no more vegetables" when it came time for dinner. Now that I resemble a grown up and have lost many of my taste buds, I adore the veggie. There are so many health benefits to eating broccoli as well. I do prefer the flower to the stem, but I'll eat them both. I introduced broccoli early on to my children. I made my own baby food for my children and incorporated broccoli into their diets. With my oldest, I added broccoli after I had introduced all the other suggested first foods. My second got it a little earlier than the first. Baby number three has had baby oatmeal and rice. They both bind him a bit. The pediatrician suggested prunes. He hated them. I abided by the 4-day rule and offered them for 4 days. He really did not like them. I mixed them in with the cereal and still...nothing. I then went to broccoli. I mixed a tablespoon of pureed broccoli in with the cereal, warmed it and he LOVED it! It has loosened his bowels a bit, but not too much. He waves his little arms in the air when I begin spooning the food into his mouth. Happy baby.
I bought a food mill. I was able to get a great deal on it. While grocery shopping at Hannaford's before Christmas, I walked by a clearance stack - 75% off. And glistening on the top, was the infamous food mill I had my eye on. I was able to walk out of the store with it for the bargain price of $6.50. So fabulous! I love Kid Co's electric food mill. It's easy to use and does a great job. There are five pieces. The skid-proof base, the container, the cover, the power source (the big white part that says KidCo) the blade and a piece that attaches the blade to the cover and power source. There is a turbo button that makes everything "super speedy and fast", as my older kids say. It's easy to clean. I just throw everything into the sink, except for the power source. Electric cords plus water equals bad. I did make the mistake of throwing it into the sink with the husband's dirty lunch containers and the skid-proof bottom got speckled with pasta sauce. Ugh. That's okay, though. No one's grading me on how clean I keep the food mill...or are they? I think I might have to get the travel food mill with carrying case! It would be so great to have in restaurants and when we go to my mother's house. Actually, it might be useful to get another mill to keep at my mother's house, since she watches the kids all the time. I'm just hoping Hannaford's is having another sale soon....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Googly Eyes

I needed something to entertain the kids while I got dinner ready. Out came the markers, glue, paper and googly eyes. Turns out, all I really needed was the googly eyes and one marker. Eli started to pretend that they were his own eyes. Then came, "Momma, you try it!" The husband started shaking his head. Of course he gave in once the kids started pleading, "Daddy, please, please, please, please!!!!" It entertained them, and us, for a good half hour. Maybe we're just wacko...

Me and Eli. I love this kid.

What's more fun that two sticky googly eyes? Why, three, of course!

A reluctant, yet participative daddy.

Odin, plus markers equals "tattoos" all over his body. No matter where we are or what time it is...

This one of Eli with the mustache on his finger is my favorite...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Gettin' Out There

We had our first blind homeschool family date. Okay, that sounds weird, like we're dating visually impaired families that homeschool... No, that's not what's happened. I "met" a homeschooling mom online. Yes, via Facebook. She's a friend of a friend. She set up a homeschooled kids fun day at a local mini golf course - Monster Golf. This place was awesome. I saw her walk in with her boys, but we had no idea who the other was. Monster Golf is indoor glow-in-the-dark mini golf. Black lights equals yellow-green teeth and darker skin. On Facebook she does not look like a badly tanned woman with horrible dental practices. In my Facebook profile picture I am wearing German Goggles. By the way, I love Restoration Hardware, the website where I got the goggles. They have the greatest stuff. Anyway, I was not wearing the goggles when I went mini golfing. I probably should have. That would have been awesome.
I finally walked over and asked if she was who I was meeting. She was. Yay! She was a love and her boys were very nice. My children were afraid to play golf - the course was too scary for them. However, once they saw the boys playing, they wanted in, too. We're going to make plans, eventually, to hang again.
I just want Eli, mostly, to know that there are other little boys out there who are homeschooled. He keeps asking about "going away to school, not at home, mommy."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

People Are Mean...

We're renovating our shed into this sort of "man-town" of sorts for the husband. In our quest for materials, I posted a want-ad for insulation and/or Tyvek on I got a response from some guy telling me about Freecycle. However, he didn't specify His e-mail address came up as Jamal something-or-other. I replied to him before I even thought about it...I had no idea what Freecycle was or would even think someone would try to scam me. Apparently, I think I live in a world impervious to scam artists... He responded back, his name being Jon, not Jamal, and his e-mail address was different. This is what he wrote:
You can access all the items I'm giving away at Freecy (insert web address here
). It's a community of people who are giving and receiving free items. Let me know if you have any problems signing up.

I was curious, so I clicked on the link and it brought me to a fake Freecycle site. I had created an account at the real and my username and password did not work in the fake site. That's the only reason I know it's fake. Now, here's the question...did the fake site just steal my password and username? No big deal because it's a FREE site, so no worries. Still, it bothers me that people are that twisted. I know there are people that are even crazier, but this just made me sad. Someone took the time to read the ads on Craigslist and then e-mail who knows how many people... I just hope that it's just a money scam or something and that no one really gets hurt.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I've tried to knit. I really have. For whatever reason, despite my dying urge to knit, I have flunked the course. I have started to sew. I started small: 6 Christmas stockings. I grew up with the standard red felt with white felt trim. I wanted something heirloomy. They were pretty easy - it seems hard to mess up a stocking. I downloaded a pattern from Martha Stewart. Eli chose the fabric. I spent a few days on them, even added some felt and jingle bells to a couple. After printing out the pattern, I enlarged it by simply drawing around it incorporating a two inch gap. I don't own a sewing machine, so I hand sew everything. It's as relaxing, I suppose, as knitting is for some. I honestly don't know what I'd do with a sewing machine. I like the simplistic process of hand sewing.
Then, I got the brilliant idea to make matching pajama bottoms for the boys. I initially wanted to make them for the whole family, but the husband does not wear pajama bottoms. Again, Eli picked out the fabric and I made fleece pajama bottoms for all the boys. After scouring the internet for patterns, I found that many people suggested to use a pair of bottoms I already have and create a pattern that way. I would have never thought of it. Also, I wouldn't have thought to fold the pants in half, so you get the curve of the crotch/bum...I would have traced out the pants by lying them flat. I love this thing called the Interweb. The blueprint savvy husband quickly pointed out what I was doing wrong when i went to pin the pattern together. Again, I was very confused to find that one piece of fabric on the other looked just like a pillow. The husband pointed out that I needed to pin the top half together, one piece of fabric on the other, then pick it up and grab each side of one panel and pin those together and repeat for the other, making two legs. I would have never figured that out alone... All the information on the web, and my mother, suggested using a safety pin to thread the elastic through the waistband. I don't own a safety pin. So, I craftily attached the end of the elastic to a chopstick with two pins. It worked and I love the results, don't you?