Wednesday, January 27, 2010

family communications

The backstory:  I heard a lot of giggling while the two boys were at their computer, not ten feet from mine but in the other room where I couldn't see the screen.  Then something popped up in my inbox.

On 1/22/2010 4:58 PM, Pook wrote: To Mama,
      Do you want to play lego's with me and Bug? Answer quick, or it will be too late!

On Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 5:02 PM, MyKidsMom wrote:
Give me four more minutes, then I can play for a short time before starting dinner.
I love you!

On Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 5:05 PM, Pook wrote:
OK, I Will wait

On 1/22/2010 5:07 PM, Pook wrote:
By the way how long is a short time?


The backstory:  Bug has lost three teeth in two weeks.  His mouth looks like a Jack-o-Lantern right now.  When he whined about being bored today, I suggested that he email someone.  He happily climbed into my chair and took over my computer.  This is what he came up with:

Dyr dady
nun uv my tyth fel out today and that is a good thing becos it wuud be even hartr to eat.

love Bug

On 1/27/2010 4:31 PM, CD wrote:
I am happy that no more teeth fell out today. I think you should grow some new teeth before any more fall out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Bob and Morris are the two cats who live next door.  D isn't really much of a cat person, it's her dog who goes to work with her each day and gets to live in the house.  But she rescued both orange tabbies eight years ago when they and their siblings were dropped off at the park in a cardboard box.  She found homes for the ones that managed to stay out of traffic and ended up keeping the last two.  They live in her garage with a fancy climber, heated cat boxes and probably heated canned food too.  It wouldn't surprise me.  And yet, the two are hunters.  Serious hunters.  Her yard is small, so they seem to spend most of their time in ours.  Their orange coats blend in with dead oak leaves and the ivy in my yard is an endless source of meals for them.  (I doubt they consume.  If I were them, I'd bring the "gift" to D and dine on warm Fancy Feast.)

I caught them in action today, in my backyard.  The cool thing about Bob and Morris is that they hunt as a team.  One often scares out the prey for the other to pounce on.  (Although Bob is getting a bit fat and lazy these days, so I'm not sure he's keeping up his end of it.)

They were still for a long time on a stakeout at the edge of the ivy.

Finally their ears perked up at the same time.  Morris walked slowly closer to the sound.
Morris went for the pounce.
And came out successful. 
He left the yard with a tiny gray mouthful.

And Bob followed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

pizza sticks

Pull out that old bread machine!  I've decided that as long as I don't let it do the baking itself, the machine is great.  I dislike the tough crust mine gets when baked in the machine but these are so fun and easy and good.  Pizza in a stick.

I made breadsticks for the kids lunches once, and sent them to school with some cheese and jarred red sauce for dipping.  Then I got more adventurous.  These are a complete pizza in a stick form.  The cheese, herbs, tomato sauce and even pepperoni are baked right in.  I think I'll still give them some red sauce in the lunchbox, just 'cause dipping food makes everything better.

Pizza Sticks
1 c. cold water
2 c. AP flour
1.5 c. oatmeal
1.5 tsp. salt
1.5 tsp. sugar
1.5 Tbs. butter
1.5 Tbs. dry milk
2 tsp. dry yeast
1/4 c. tomato paste (I did not use spaghetti sauce, so if you do, adjust the flour and herbs to the extra moisture and flavor)
2 Tbs. dried Italian herbs
~20 slices of pepperoni, chopped

I set my machine on "pizza dough" which includes mixing and one rise.  Then I removed the dough and rolled it into sticks (I think mine made 12) and rolled them each in Parmesan cheese.  I gave them about 30 minutes to rise in a warm location, then baked them for 25 minutes.  Oh, the smell!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Weeks of icy cold.  A frozen lake.  Thawed and "melted" leaves on winter plants.  But now it has rained, a spring rain even though it is still January. Spring because it thawed the ground and sent warmer temperatures our way.  Spring rain because now all the cold is forgiven.  I went out to check on the condition of our yard today, wearing a sweatshirt, comfortable in the sun.  Winter is over in the sense that we will get wonderful days like today to perk us up between the cold ones which will continue to come for a few more months.  That's how I described spring to Bug.  Spring is when the weather changes every day and the warm jacket you need in the morning can be put in your backpack in the afternoon.  (And spring is when kids lose jackets.)

The yard is forgiving.  The bulbs are beginning to peek up through the leaves.  I should put more mulch on them before the next freeze or the leaves will yellow.  The soil was moist enough to allow me to pull some green onions I noticed in the yellow grass.  (Yes, I grow chives.  But not in my grass.)  The Lambs Ear, the soft and tender-looking leaves, are unbruised and undamaged from the cold.  The varigated vinca was unbothered by the cold. The lettuce which I had given up on growing, as I gave up on spinach and swiss chard in the same bed, is perky and green.  Maybe we'll even get a salad soon.  The pansies, the winter mainstay here, came out of their weeks of hibernation to continue their bloom cycles as if they'd never paused.  I smoothed away the squirrel holes which are always between them.  Soon, tulips and daffodils will rise out of that planter (and oak trees, I suspect) and hot pink and yellow will join the purple pansies to show us the true colors of spring.  All is forgiven.

The pansies are currently sharing the planter with these stained glass yellow flowers made by my dad.  I'll put them in a new spot to give a shot of color somewhere else when the planter gets full.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

give and take

It seems that once a year, just as the new year begins, CD and I get in a purging mode at the same time.  We start digging out old clothes, old toys, old Stuff and we make huge piles to give away.  Just before Christmas I gave up four bags of outgrown children's clothes and clothes of mine that I thought I should keep because I liked them, but hadn't worn in years.  This January purge then was less clothing and more Stuff.

I looked sadly at the glider and ottoman that I had used many late nights to rock my babies, but I decided it must go.  I began to set aside items of worth and thought I'd sell them on Craig's List.  Umbrella stroller, baby gates, bed rail....  The rest was packed into the car and immediately, the same afternoon, driven to Goodwill.

I wondered how much those items would sell for.  Possibly more than I'd spent on them since they'd almost all been bought used.  And then I looked at them again and decided the lot wouldn't make more than $100 profit.  It wasn't worth the effort.  As part of the International Rescue Committee's efforts we had bought Christmas presents for a child.   I phoned the church member who had organized the IRC gifts and asked where we could make further donations.

It took until today for the momentum to return, but today I drove down to the IRC's offices, ESL classrooms, and their store.  I squeezed past a crowd of men and women, hearing several different languages, and handed off the first load of items.  As I stretched to put two wooden clocks on a shelf, one was gently collected by an excited older man.  He called to his wife and adult son to show them, and it was immediately put in the plastic trash bag he was using to hold their items.  The son helped me empty the car.  The rocker and ottoman would have a good home.  The radio never made it onto any shelves either.  The toy basketball game stayed outdoors with a young mother.

Families from Burma, Sudan, Iraq, Cuba....  They had all left their home countries to have what I have.  Most brought nothing with them.  They would be given assistance for four months.  They were allowed to "shop" weekly from the donations from people like myself.  And then they'd need to have paying jobs and learn to survive on their own.  It made me wish I'd put a new battery in the clock.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I mentioned here, yesterday, that I was having a birthday.  I'm turning one of those numbers that is just sort of in the middle.  I'm just "in my forties" these days.  We'll celebrate at some point this week.  Wednesdays aren't exactly good for CD to be doing any fancy baking (or not fancy baking) so I considered Saturday or Sunday, but we're leaving the kids with babysitters both those nights.  Then I started thinking about what sort of cake I wanted and first settled on either homemade chocolate pudding or homemade cinnamon buns.  (We think way outside the box around here when it comes to "cake".)  I think I read too many food blogs.  I've been interested in both making and eating those two items for a while, but I think I'm interested in the process as much as the eating, and making it myself seems wrong, as does subjecting CD to a three hour dough making process.  There is still the option of a quick one pan cake from my Grandma, a nutmeg cake, and it could be done any night.  As could the pudding.... 

The cinnamon bun idea brought up the idea of celebrating my birthday at breakfast which is what Bug is going to do in a few weeks. I've already sent his evite out to a few friends and heard back from them all.  He has decided to have a "Pajama and Pancake Party".  We've invited five boys to come over in pj's at 9:00 am one Saturday.  We'll have toppings out for customized pancakes and a multi-layered pancake cake for Bug.  Then we'll throw them all in our small den to watch a movie which has yet to be chosen.  Send 'em all home by noon and we'll still have the rest of the day ahead of us.

Party time!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

balmy weather

When I went to bed last night it was still a whopping 34° outside!  Amazing that I could consider that good.  I've watched the plants in my yard "melt" from the ongoing freeze.  The pansies will be back and blooming in a week, and the bulb foliage will yellow but not bother the eventual blooms.  I'd love it if some ivy or privet died, but I suspect the worst of the invasive plants are also cold hardy.

Our driveway still has icy patches on it, as do shady streets.  Due to "budget cuts" Atlanta, it seems, has only four DOT vehicles to use on snow and ice.  I don't expect them to reach our side streets before June. And I doubt they'll be needed much more anyway.  The forecast is for warmer, more typical temperatures (50°) on Wednesday (which happens to be my birthday, just in case you wondered).  I will celebrate by getting the car washed!

Last week I started a load of laundry and left the room.  When I returned, the kitchen and laundry area were under water.  I was unable to see any wet source and I waited until later in the day, tried a load on small and all was well.  (Like the oven, the washer has done this before and then continued to work fine as if it had never acted broken.)  Yesterday I started a load and had work to do nearby.  Suddenly there was water spraying out of the discharge hose where it entered the wall.  A wonderful, friendly plumber suggested I look to see if we had antifreeze and pour it (or salt and boiling water if not) in the pipe.  An hour later the water level was lower- out of sight- and I hesitantly poured water in - so far so good- and then let my soapy laundry drain successfully.  I phoned him back to thank him.  I know good will won't pay the bills, but if you live in Atlanta and need a plumber, I'll happily give you his name.  (His brother was our bathroom contractor who was great too.)  So, frozen pipes in Atlanta.  Never happened to us before, so we weren't even careful.

The kids were off from school last Friday.  Everyone teases us in Atlanta for panicking when we get a half inch of snow. But I have to keep excusing the city.  To begin with, the weather maps showed us right in the middle ground between snow and rain.  "Wintery mix" seems to favor our area.  So anytime we get snow, we've also gotten rain.  If the temperatures dip, we're doomed.  The kids get excited to see snow, but the adults know the roads will be impassible.  So, in a city full of hills, schools get canceled when buses can't get around.

I took the boys to feed the ducks that day.  We bundled up in all we owned and looked like snowmen as we trundled down the street.  The lake by our house had frozen for the first time since I've lived here.  The ducks were at the top of the waterfall/drainage area, paddling in a small circle. We fed them a whole bag of perfectly good pita bread which seemed to make their day.  The boys found sticks and proceeded to smash the edge of the ice "to make a canal" for the ducks.  I gave the motherly advice that they be a bit careful so as to not fall in.  Bug calmly responded, "If I fall in I will find a shallow place."