Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Green Acres is the Place to Be

We decided to experience Amish Country this Labor Day weekend. I was able to get a room for us at a B&B on a real working farm called Green Acres.
We drove up and spent Saturday at Dutch Wonderland. We spent that night and the next day on the farm, which the boys seemed to enjoy just as much.
The cats were free for the taking! Will loved them. Waving at them, petting them, counting them and, here, identifying which were the parents and which were the babies.
There was a wonderful yard complete with a playhouse and slide. The boys were in heaven.
A goat sliding down a slide.
Dutch Wonderland. We didn't even need to give Will a coin to have fun "driving" the motorboats.

I love Will's face popping out of the house here.

Brigham and I realized that, if things ever get really bad, we could buy a house with cash and run a B&B in Amish Country.

Brigham loved the hammock. He realized that he never gets to just hang out with the kids like this. Fortunately for Porter, I suppose.
I love Will's happy smile as he extends his hands for the kitties.
Gathering eggs in the morning.

Rectangular trampolines are way bouncier than circular.

I hope they don't forget all the fun we had.

Monday, September 06, 2010

the laughing little boy that he was swinging

Last Sunday evening we took the boys to a local park before bedtime. The kids had such a wonderful time that Andrew found it impossible to obey our entreaties to return to the car.

Porter experienced the joys of the swing for the first time. He loved it. He loves everything. I hope that never changes.

Must not forget to bring the camera with the flash; Porter's smiles are full-body affairs that blur in evening light without a flash.

Friday, September 03, 2010

like a hurricane

Sometimes you can gauge the exact tenor of how your kids' behavior registered with others by the nature of the comments they make to you upon parting. Today, I departed amide a barrage of, "Kids can be really hard, but you are so good with them!" and "We just want to whisk you away to a cabin the the woods for a few days when that baby is weaned!" and "My friend who has three kids would like to be mildly injured in an automobile accident so that she can spend a few days of peace in the hospital," a fantasy with which I am well-acquainted.

Not that I really needed a scientific form of measurement; I was there, too. I was witness to all the couch jumping, decorative-ball throwing, screaming contests (literally) and, for the grand finale, kid-ese for "it is time to go," the wadding up of magazine pages and for game of throwing them at my host and her tiny baby.

I know that our visits to the homes of others is like a home invasion from the local street gang. Brigham and I have tried to console ourselves with jokes about how we need to take back the night (and day) from the neighborhood gang (that lives in our home) and in whom we live in fear. I will never forget the look of sad defeat in Brigham's face during that Sunday School Meeting when one of the boys snatched Brigham's new iphone away from him and cackled, truly cackled, in his face the way a bully would to a small victim. That was the day I realized that the kids were like a street gang, only without the drugs and guns. I think. Even a visit to a store or the pool will rapidly deteriorate into an amphibeous assault upon enemy territory. I know that people often feel embarrassed for me, but the worst part is that they don't need to because I gave up any hopeful aspirations that would bridge me over to the disappointment that would make embarrassment even possible a really long time ago.

I do not mean to say that they are bad kids. They aren't (usually). They are wonderful. They are my favorite people. They are just wild and uncivilized. They are little boys. I feel boys need a better spokesman to act as an agent for them to the world. The planet doesn't seem to understand little boys. Mothers of boys understand them, but only for the years during which their kids are young, and then the same magic that enables children to hear the tinkling of Santa's sleighbell evaporates and those mothers, too, turn into the tone deaf Unbelievers in What Little Boys are Capable Of.

"Run them," my friend agreed sympathetically after I told her that I thought maybe prebreakfast laps would be advisory. "Run them like dogs." A small trampoline in the basement is not a bad idea, either. Nor is a much larger house with a fenced yard.

Yes, our home life is chaotic. We do descend upon each and every room in it the way we descend upon you in your homes, in your church meetings, in your classrooms, in your stores and restaurants, parks and pool: like a pack of animals, like a platoon of crazed marines, like a hurricane.

"In three years," I told my friends today "my life will be a lot quieter." Maybe this isn't true, but it is certainly the case that I am on a trajectory that will lead ultimately to more and more calm moments and fewer and fewer wild ones. Realizing this reminded me of a short story I read recently about an empty-nester divorced woman attending a small family gathering in the home of her ex-husband and his new family, complete with teenage girls. The ex-wife is sad to see that his new family--the one he trader her in for--treats him poorly; he indicates by expression that he regrets his choice. The entire duration of the story you feel sort of sorry for the exhusband, but in the final sentence the author turns all your feelings upside down.

I include that because, at the end of my 15 minutes of peaceful ruminations during the drive home, I came to a similar conclusion. I do feel like I exist in the middle of a living, breathing hurricane. But it is a hurricane that brings me life and meaning and all the best things human existence has to offer. And when it subsides, years and years from now but we all know how quickly those slip through our fingers, I am afraid that my heart will be left in the empty crater carved out by those wild little beasts of boys, and silent.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

the last days of summer

Where did August go? And what happened to my newborn, and my reason for not attending church? My best friend has turned into a highly interactive, very smiley, roly-poly (back to front and front to back) guy. Here he is in his swim gown. He outgrew his swim shirt. That was so 0-3 months.

We have gone to the pool every day this week, trying to wring out every last drop of summer.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Recipes for meat eating vegans

Salmon Cake over Lemon Rice and Wilted Baby Spinach (image from internet)

I have been dairy free up since shortly after Porter was born (up until this week). The best way to describe a dairy free diet really is a meat-eating vegan. I am sure that vegans would revolt at including myself in their eating category, to which I must respond, Relax, vegans. Your lives are difficult enough. I know because I have been eating like you guys for months.

These photos ease any 'what might have beens' had I had dreams of being a food photographer. The meals are actually quite beautiful in real life. (Seriously.)

Salmon Cakes:
Mix a can of costco Kirkland salmon with an egg. It looks totally disgusting so try not to look at it. Then add a T or 2 of your favorite tartar sauce and some lemon juice. Add bread crumbs or flour (I do a mix) until the mixture is dry and sticks together. Saute in olive oil. When the cake is ready, add baby spinach to the hot pan and wilt. I usually squirt a bit of lemon juice onto the spinach and then again onto the cake.

Lemon Rice: saute raw brown rice (uncle bens) with 2 T lemon juice and olive oil 5 min or so. Then cook as usual with chicken stock instead of water.

Next we have the Salmon and Black Bean Salad on Roti Bread.
This one was born one day as I mournfully spooned measly black beans onto a tortilla for my lunch. My sister introduced me to the wonders of canned salmon (costco), a form of food at which I had previously balked.)
1) Saute roti bread (can buy at costco; they are akin to uncooked tortillas) in olive oil according to package directions (flip when bubbles up).

2) Add rinsed and drained black beans. Add salmon (from a can). Warm through. Can also red peppers (sauted is best), corn and baby spinach. Top with mango salsa (costo) and sliced, salted avocado. (My preferred method for avocado topping is to add olive oil and salt to avocado and splice up with a fork; then add to salad). If you are not a vegan, add cheese, too. You can make this with a tortilla, but the roti bread is better.

Finally we have Tilapia on a Bed of Red Quinoa and Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salsa
The salsa: 1 can rinsed drained black bean, several ears of fresh corn cut from cob, diced tomato, diced avocado, diced red onion. Finish with juice of one lime (or to taste, and I always just use bottled lime juice), salt and (important!) a bunch of chopped fresh cilantro. The salsa gets even better with age since the flavors blend with time.

Red Quinoa (trader joe's): cook like rice in rice cooker with 1 boullion cube per cup of water used. Just toss that cube/s in there and try to remember to stir it a bit about halfway through or whenever it seems the cube might have disolved.

Tilapia (or cod), frozen, costco: After thawed, prepare any way you want. When I was gluten-eating, I would dredge it in egg and then in flour. When I had to cut gluten, too, I just salted it and added it right to my hot olive oiled pan. Turn once. It cooks really fast.

Spoon quinoa on a plate, add salsa and top with fish. The salsa can be a pain to make, but this recipe was born when I had a whole bunch left over.

Just as a disclaimer, I realize that these are not gourmet meals (I am using canned salmon after all) but all I am promising is fast, healthy and tasty. For fancier, more involved versions of the salmon cakes, and for other delicious and healthful recipes check out