Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Will Bake for Food

Baking season is here! Hooray!

Finally, I have an excuse to try exotic recipes and stock my pantry with nuts and chocolate and five different kinds of flour. This is the only time of year we allow ourselves to make the truly decadent candies and morsels that satisfy the baker's soul. My fingers get all twitchy as I start making a mental list of the goodies I'll craft for friends and family. Shopping for presents is lots of fun, but baking for presents is sheer delight. All is well with the world when you can assemble a tin of nut brittle and toffee with pecan sandies sandwiched in between...or maybe pralines.

Alas, my early season ambition is always thwarted by the busy reality of kids and chores and even illness. So I have decided to chronicle my seasonal quest for baking perfection and see how close I can get to accomplishing what I want. Maybe writing this all down will help keep me in the kitchen.

Confections and Baked Goods

  1. Fruit cake (taken with rave reviews to Thanksgiving in Indiana)
  2. Toffee
  3. Pecan, almond and cashew brittle
  4. Peppermint and chocolate bark
  5. Chocolate covered cherries
  6. Cheesecake
  7. Coconut cream pie
  8. Mounds of hot buttery rolls
  9. Pecan tart
  10. Blueberry coffee cake
  11. Decorated sugar cookes
  12. Giant birthday cake for my son's first birthday
Potential Gift Recipients
  1. Three Sunday School teachers
  2. One Public School teacher
  3. Six close friends
  4. Several neighbors
  5. Mailman
  6. Trash Collectors
  7. One giant gift and goodie filled basket for my aunt and grandmother
I'll be pleased if I can get half of this done.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


My parents love to take my children to Chuck E. Cheese. This is a tremendous blessing because the kids can get their semi annual fix and I don't have to brave the chaos by myself with three children.

This evening we discovered a new game called Colorama. It is essentially a simple roulette wheel for children with flashing lights and psychedelic patterns. Up to four people can slip in their quarter, chose from up to five colors and spin the wheel. You watch as the silver ball comes to a stop on one of the colors. This is Vegas for children! Unrestrained joy is the only was to describe my daughter when she won. Lights, tickets shooting out like the big pay off, she couldn't contain herself. "I won, I won, let's play again." We had fun chunking tokens and letting it ride on all five colors. At the end of the evening we had over 500 tickets and a good time was had by all. But I could sense a pattern developing...

The last time I went to CEC with our church group I found myself using my check card at a token vending machine. This time the culprit was the little shovel game where you flick tokens at the shelf where hundreds of shiny gold tokens are precariously dangling over the edge just waiting for you to tip them all off in one great avalanche of ticket yielding glory.

There are two thing I have learned about myself at Chuck E Cheese, first I think I need to stick to Skee Ball and secondly under no circumstances should I visit Vegas.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Joys of Multiple Siblings

Back when we were DINKs (Double Income No Kids), we had friends with two beautiful children; a boy and a girl. Then one day they showed up pregnant with their third child. My initial gut reaction was "why would they have another kid, isn't two enough?" I was surprised at myself and my inner dialog settled down remembering that they were great people with the means and desire to care for as many children as they wanted. But the feeling was out there, two children is more than enough. Of course here I am four years later with three kids.

When you are pregnant with your second, third and beyond people always tell you, "It gets easier after two" or "it gets easier after three." True and False. There is more work and more helpers, if you can call a five year old a helper. But the best thing about lots of kids is lots of siblings.

Tonight, my 5 year old walked around the house holding onto the 10 month old's hands helping him learn to walk. To them it was just simple fun, but I saw a lifetime of cooperation and brotherhood. I saw big family gatherings twenty years from now that will be filled with the joy of shared lives. I saw three grownups who helped each other grow up and that made me so Happy to have three kids.

Death by Daylight Savings

Ugh! It has taken us all week to get used to the new daylight hours. My children have been waking up at 6:30 a.m. and the results have not been pretty for any of us. On Wednesday, my three year old was particularly irritable when she woke up.

Me to Husband "It is killing these kids to wake up so early, but they do it anyway."

My 3 year old "Mommy, am I going to die?"

One more expression I didn't realize I used too much.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Compassionate Child

My oldest daughter started Kindergarten this year and the texture of all our lives has definitely changed. One of the surprises for me has been how much my child is asked to participate in charitable and fund raising endeavors. In the past two months she has been asked to raise money or procure goods for seven separate projects.

First in School she has had a canned food drive, the obligatory shiny cataloge PTA thing(the only one we sat out) and a specific food item drive for the Salvation Army's Thanksgiving dinners.

Then at Church she has had a canned food drive, a booklet of quarters collected for orphans in other countries, a shoebox collection of gifts for underprivileged children around the world and a monthly piggy bank collection to purchase literature for missionaries.

This has all been in the past two months. We chose our church partially because it is very "outreach" oriented and we have always enjoyed being involved in the compassion ministries in the past. The school's community efforts I find pleasantly surprising. We live in a very working class/immigrant neighborhood and no one has resources to just throw away. All of this outward giving has made an impact on my five year old. She is routinely looking for quarters "for the orphans" and telling me why they need our money.

I'm pleased that she is learning to give outside of the home...but I have to say I'm just a little overwhelmed. It's an effort to find cash (who uses cash anymore?) and I have started adding food drive items to my regular grocery list because she needs more items than I have stuck in the back of the pantry. Perhaps that is the way it should be, every time we get something for ourselves we should get a little something for those less fortunate.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Cartoons I Have Loved

Every parent has watched cartoons with their children and you either found yourself laughing or grimacing. My husband has recently been ordering those eighties gems from Netflix, that hold after school memories for him. I have compiled lists of my personal current favorites and golden oldies that I have loved.


  1. Little Bear--He is kind, creative and my personal favorite obedient. Each episode is like a little adventure and it is the least formulaic of the bunch.
  2. Handy Manny--"You break it, we fix it." Love the tools and Manny. How cute is a town named Sheetrock Falls?
  3. Veggie Tales--Wisdom and Morals in a funny, clever cartoon. Pitch perfect writing that I have used over and over again with my children. For example "a thankful heart is a happy heart," can be used in so many circumstances. Thank you Madame Blueberry.
  4. Little Einsteins--Beautiful music and art in an adventurous fantasy world. Probably my kid's favorites and I find them humming the classics all the time.
Golden Oldies
  1. Penelope Pitstop and the Wacky Races--My sister and I used to fight over who would be Penelope.
  2. Bugs Bunny--The most classic of all, if you have watched any vintage bunny recently it's also a time capsule. There are tons of WWII references and even a few shameful episodes that deal with race.
  3. The Chipmunks--Probably a really dreadful cartoon, but I loved it as a kid.
  4. Tom and Jerry--They still hold up today my kids argue over who is the mean one.
  5. XMen--My favorite of all the comic book cartoons probably because they had plenty of cool girls to relate to.

Cartoons I Have Hated

There are two categories of cartoons I have hated.

Merely annoying or not to my taste

  1. Scooby-doo--I think I was four when I realized the show was formulaic, painfully, not endearingly formulaic.
  2. Road Runner--He is just so smug, does the poor skinny coyote not deserve to win just one hot meal?
  3. All anime'--Their mouths don't move when they talk, too creepy.
  4. Max and Ruby--It does have it's cute moments, but Max is like five and he can only speak in monosyllabic responses. Why does Ruby have to bee so bossy? Maybe because they appear to be orphans alone in a big house.
Cartoons my children are forbidden to watch due to content
  1. Spongebob Squarepants--It's just not written for children under 10, it's gross and in the words of my five-year-old "all they ever do is shout at each other."
  2. Dora the Explorer--She's too cute and innocent, what could be wrong with her? It's really just more of a feeling I get when we watch it. Too much chanting, too many brujas (a little crazy family history, but a witch in Spanish has a different meaning to me) and just an overall new age-y new world order vibe I get. I know, I know it's just me.
  3. Jimmy Neutron--the kid's a genius and his father is a clueless fool.
  4. All those mid afternoon Nick shows that are just about loud, obnoxious deviant behavior.