Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pax! Pax!

enter, the peas.
 Three types of them, to be precise - but the specifics of peadom were irrelevant next to the joy of the boy collecting stuff. Sigh.

No, wait - I lie. In truth, we love our jaunts out to the farm, especially this lovely local one. Getting ourselves out of the house takes a crack bunch of sheepdogs right now, and occasionally leaves me hoarse and gasping words that I really would rather the boys didn't learn. But then we're out, and a zip down the road from this quiet greenness, a wisely shaded picnic table, and this:
 In the field, the boys stop grumping about having to brush their teeth, there is no Lego to divert them to absolutely essential something that must come before changing out of their jammies. And I try not to gape at the idea that all of this joyful, careful focus is happening over - peas.
Yep. Snap peas, sugar peas, snow peas - and now? our peas.

What on earth will I do with them all?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

did someone say go?

Somehow, speed and this oh my gawd, it be hot doesn't seem to go together in my eyes - but the boys seem to operate according to an entirely different set of specs. Which would explain, come to think of it, oh so much.

A couple of months ago, we were given a hand-me-down bike. Gig fell in love with it, mourned when it was too big, and reluctantly allowed the Eldest to sit on it. Briefly. When removed from the bike, the Eldest screeched bloody murder - the bike was too tall for him, also.

The Man shook his head. Maybe if we took it to a bike shop? 

Upstairs, the boys squabbled over the blue bike - no, the purple! - the one with the bell! - but can't Mum move the bell? - oh, yeah, but I want the one without the training wheels - oh, me too! said his sibling, gloriously indifferent to his lack of two-wheeled experience. Me, too, he repeated. Firmly.

1.2 inches of seat adjustment later, and we had ourselves some speed. Irregular and slightly scraped at first, but then? Then we had this:

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And, to be fair, they did slow down so that my poor wee camera could capture them.

Feeding the speed demons requires an equally speedy dinner, because while they might be fast on the road, the lads flag quickly when its time to come inside. But this salmon and salad meal gets thrown together in about 20 minutes, with a little advance prep.

garlic, with a little yogurt & dill sauce:
adapted from (no joke) Garlic, Garlic, Garlic - credit for the adaptation goes to one of our favorite children's librarians. 
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 fat cloves garlic, pressed or minced
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried oregano, or 1/2 tsp fresh
1 big handful chopped dill
optional: a sprinkle of mint

Mix thoroughly, and set aside. Covered, the sauce should keep in the refrigerator for a week.

Meanwhile....take a slab of salmon, drizzle with olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle a bit of maple syrup on top. Grill or broil until it flakes gently in the middle.

Into a bowl, toss a whatever is in the fridge salad. Yesterday, this salad looked like this:

1/2 of a small Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
a shred of a radiccio
a handful of lettuce from our garden
thin strips of apples
2 scallions, sliced
a big spoonful of green olives
1 underripe mango, sliced into strips

Toss in the bowl, along with a dressing. Yesterday, our dressing was: olive oil (drizzle on salad, toss until salad is coated), salt, pepper, garlic powder (toss again, until spices are distributed). A spritz or two of Bragg's (a recommendation from a wise friend, whose children eat kale - think of it, kale! - with Bragg's sprayed on top), a drizzle of honey (1 Tb?) and a tablespoon or so of vinegar.

Serve with a bowl of leftover rice, or some boiled potatoes - preferably the wonderfully lumpy ones that Gig picked out at the market, and then was only reluctantly persuaded to share. The slightly charred, caramelized flavors of the fish match up nicely with the slightly sweet salad. There might be more subtle ways to balance this gentle, summery sweetness, but I'm not a subtle person. I like the coolness and the garlicky bite of the yogurt sauce, and I know that tomorrow, it'll be lovely with just the boiled potatoes, a pickle or two, and a peach. The day after, I'll probably use the sauce as a salad dressing...but I'll wait a couple of days after that, before I use it as a dipping sauce for some pan-fried tilapia. 

And then? peas.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

best. QOL. evah.

Nowadays, it seems as if children's mental health is climbing onto the medical radar, and spreading until it gunks up the wipers. As it should - too many kids, saith my not at all educated self, are left to struggle with depression and mental illness. People should find these kids and help them, and no, I'm not going to swear to add emphasis to the statement. They just should.

With that, of course, comes the QOL form - the quality of life form.

Is your child happy? sad? in trouble at school? do they talk about anxiety? do they say that they feel down? do you think that they are anxious? do you think that they are happy? sad? in trouble at school? 

I have an amazing urge to write it depends all over these things, but I do appreciate their significance. Mental illness happens to all kids - the ones with the chronic diagnoses are simply best poised to get screened over and over. Which is perhaps unfair. Still, I do appreciate the pop of studies by people are realizing that hello? chronic illness is actually an additional thing to ask of a kid. And that kids' response to illness is unpredictable. QOL studies - and I'm too tired to go find you links, but look up QOL and pediatric cancer, resilience, etc on pubmed and read carefully. Especially, read the bit about how parents tend to rate their kids as unhappier than the kids say they are.

I love the bit where the researchers think carefully about how to prove that the kids aren't lying. Or so extraordinarily socially adept that they know to say that they're just fine, as the Eldest did, when asked by doctors doing their morning rounds.

How are you feeling this morning, kiddo?
The Eldest summoned a big smile and bright eyes. Oh, just fine.
Hey, said the doc du jour, that's great!
Yes, said the Eldest with a degree of satisfaction. So? Can I go home now?

Truly, the doctor should not have been surprised. Happily for him, he joined the rest of us in laughing our asses off while the Eldest looked on, somewhat hurt.

And thus, the QOL.

Which is how the Man and I found ourselves looking at the following question: Does your child get into more trouble at home than his sibling?

And our answer: You should meet the sibling.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

2.25 miles plus what?

The 4th of July is a big deal around here, so much so that the Man and the kids and I decided to celebrate by admiring roughly 2.25 miles of our municipal water supply. It's a nice trot around a pretty bit of water, on a very nice blacktop with lots of dogs to pet. Who would happily, btw, share your lunch with you.

It was the perfect day for a stroll around the water, with the sunshine and the 90 degree heat and the children bounding along. Also? The city had made the paths really pretty, with the occasional butterfly meadow.

The bees appreciated it too, although my look, kids! Do you see the two kinds of bees? Come closer - I'll show you which one is more likely to sting didn't go over well. Oddly. By contrast, our stop at the dogs-get-wet-here spot was epic, and genre alone should explain why I couldn't possibly give you any real sort of sketch as to why, or what happened, but there were wet dogs and sticks and small boys and dogs' people who showed the small boys how to throw the sticks. Also, that you should show the sticks to the dogs first. And that once you've shown the dog the stick, it's a good idea to throw it quickly - especially if the dogs (uniformly) outweigh you. As the Eldest ruefully observed.

It doesn't help that I'm short.

No, I thought. But it does help that you - both of you, actually - are literally willing to get up after you've been knocked down, and try again. Lucky for the kids, their parents are the same sort - although for the adults, it might be less pluck than bone-headed stubbornness.

That's poison ivy. See? Leaves of three, the newer, smaller ones are reddish. Don't touch it  - it'll make you really, really itchy.

A couple of pairs of small boy eyes grow round, solemn . Oh. 

That's poison ivy. See? There on the edge of the track? You were about to walk into it, and that's not going to be fun. Remember how itchy you were after we went to that park? 

OH! No, I didn't like that. I'll stay away from the ivy.

Hey, honey? See the poison ivy right there? You were about to step into it. Remember how it's itchy?

Gosh, that poison ivy is just lining the entire path. Better walk in the middle, so that if you stray to one side, you'll still have time to move away again.

Um. Notice where you are? No? Okay, what do you see there?

Hey, look at that sign! It says that there's poison ivy here. Wonder why they didn't hang up more of those - oh, kid - you were about to walk right into the poison ivaaargh.

There is a special sort of hell that describes this, but all I can say is: 2.25 miles of track. 9 miles of poison ivy (it was on both sides of the track, we had two kids, so you do the math), and where in hell is the learning curve, huh? Right now, all I'm getting is Zeno's paradox.

The Giggles' ability to read the Poison Ivy Runs Rampant sign? Not as comforting as one might hope. Somewhat mocking, in a rather cosmic karma, laughing behind its hand sort of way. Or possibly just strolling right up and prodding me in the ribs. But, MO-OM, said a child, it would help if you REMINDED me. You know, sometimes I need a reminder. And sometimes, I need two or three or five reminders. I inhaled. Forgot to exhale. Focussed on figuring out the square root of the number that I was counting to.

You had 2.25 miles worth of reminders! 

Oh. said the child. That's a lot of reminders. I see your point now. But, he went on thoughtfully, you know, they don't have poison ivy on the planet Emeraldia. Or, rather, they do, but nobody's getting itched by it. I should ask them why not and then sell the cure to everyone!

And just like that? We were half-way to the end of the curve.

Math sucks.

Monday, July 04, 2011

an unfolding deliciousness

I found them, of course, right beforehand.

Tucked into a bin next to some sawdusty roots, a raggedy collection of twigs were sprouting in a somewhat forlorn corner of the fruit-and-veggie store. Shopping carts whisked past, heading for the more promising broccoli, leeks and (barely deserving the discount) seconds. On the other hand, how anyone missed the burst of color in the sawdust and twig corner? I can't imagine.


I don't know how you'd pronounce them - my ligh-cheeze has never been quite right, but who has time to compare notes on pronounciation when that is dancing a delicate, swooping samba on the tastebuds? Liquid, apple and a light sweetness, with a little pineapple? or quince, maybe? definitely a tang that's halfway between a really aromatic Meyer lemon and a regular lemon, and oh, too much of my childhood for me to really taste the thing.

I think.

Judging from the looks on the boys' faces when they carefully divide them up, though, I might not be so far off. The boys' precision is overlaid by a sense of ruthless logic: if I'm really, really fair, then I'll get as many lychees as the other guy.  Unless mum's not watching, in which case..? um. Or not.

And for the Man, it's one more oddity in a pantheon of edible oddities that he's learned to enjoy. An unfolding of flavors in the mouth, a discovery of unexpected pleasures - yep. It's really rather the perfect metaphor for a rather extravagantly numbered anniversary. Even if I did have to work the image a bit too hard to make it fit, well, hell. There's a bag of lychees in my fridge. Get here before they're all gone, and I'll let you see for yourself.
Unless we eat them all, the Man and I, sitting at our table in that most private of restaurants, with the candlelight flickering. And the kids, hopefully cooperatively asleep, having eaten their own bag of edible yum earlier that night...

Wishing us another many, many lots of the lumpy bumpy delish, love. So glad to have you with me for the road thus far, and I promise to share very, very fairly the deliciousness that comes...

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Sunday, July 03, 2011

so, in case you missed it? summer

of course, if you are at all unclear on the subject, you most definitely do not live at my house. Here, the mornings be loud and the afternoons be bitchy, and periodically the Eldest will wander over and explain that he is oh, so very tired. You know, he'll say confidingly, the Gigswoke me up an hour - no, two hours - early this morning. Which is to say that, his brother woke up at his internally cuckoo-clocked hour of 6:something wee am, rather than letting the Eldest snooze until 7ish.

My parenting position on this sort of thing is, officially, that there are many reasons that it can suck to be the older child, and this might be one of them. Also, that the Eldest spent oh, five? years requiring us to make him the center of our attention - and gently accepting mid-field, slightly off-center. The morning adoration and play with me! It's a day! Let's play with something FUN! from his sibling is just deserts.

 So, yes. Summer. It started gently, with the Eldest transforming into lo! a fourth grader. Don't ask me what it means, except that I'm pretty sure that there's a growth spurt in there somewhere. Eventually. Also? A sudden, horrified awareness that if someone makes trouble, the mature, sensible fourth grader might be part of a group held responsible. Hm.

Shortly his mother stopped smirking in corners where she thought he couldn't see, the smaller one dusted off his hands, was offered and solemnly wielded the rose-shaped light saber of the Padawan, graduating to apprentice Jediship. (or some such) And I'm going to hold the grin in my tone here, but you know that it was a soggy occasion.
The Preschool of Wonders was wise enough not to equip their graduates with lightsabers - they gave them kiddush cups, instead. Armed with a nice bit of Judaica, the kidlets trotted happily off after a slightly adapted "Tick, Tock" song, wondering why that last line had come with a sudden round of adult mucus. They were, after all, going to see everyone on Visit Days, right?


With that taken care of, it was time to - well, to anything. The boys began with aerodynamics, 

 paused for a bit of whoop!
and went on to figure out how they could conquer the world.

And if you hadn't noticed, I suspect that I haven't been blogging nearly enough. Trust me - they did.

* Gigs, along with Trig and Gigabyte are a variety of names that we use for the really no longer toddling Toddles. For obvious, Palinesque reasons, I'm going to eschew the lovely Trig. Let's see if Gigs works for us - and your opinion is most welcome. The name is, of course, short for the Giggles.