Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rants From Mommyland Likes Me!

It's been kind of suck-y week, with things being super-busy at work and at home and me getting hit by the Queen of Cold Viruses. (Thank you, back-to-school-bugs!)

Enter into my life a little sunshine via my favorite blog, Rants From Mommyland, which decided to post a submission I sent them last week, titled, "Domestic Enemy of the Mom with Mixed Race Kids." Honestly, it was something I drafted up for fun during an insomniac evening, highlighting some of the most interesting moments our mixed-race family has experienced. I sent it in, not expecting much of a response, but I was astonished to get an reply from Lydia (of Lydia and Kate fame) THE VERY NEXT DAY indicated that they planned to post it.

To me, Rants From Mommyland captures the joyous highs and hair-pulling lows of parenthood and neatly presents them with amazingly funny artwork (witness the one above, which ran with my post). Some people take parenting way more seriously than I do, and that's fine. I'm not into competitive parenting so I leave that for others.

My philosophy: If the kids are puking while the dog is having an accident, or if you have 12 sugared-up kids bouncing off your walls during a home birthday party while your hubby conveniently lays in bed sick (all true things that have happened here, by the way) ... you might as well laugh. And maybe have some wine. I have long suspected that other moms existed who felt the way I did, and when I discovered Rants from Mommyland, I knew I had found my asylum.

If you haven't checked out Rants From Mommyland, do it now! Now! Before the wine is gone.

Awesome artwork from Rants From Mommyland

Saturday, September 17, 2011

After-School Activities, and Other Tall Tales

The other day I read a blog post suggesting things to do with your kids after school. I had no idea families existed who had so much free time after school that they actually had to create activities such as water-balloon games that you, the parent, would prepare ahead of time by filling up the balloons while the kids are still in school.

One suggestion that struck me as particularly odd, and a little cruel, was having your kids actually search for their snacks after school. You, the parent with nothing better to do, would hide a favorite snack, and then present your children with "clues" so they could have "fun" searching for their provisions.

I don't recall the other suggested activities because, at that point, my eye started twitching and I think my brain exploded a little.

I don't know how it is in your family, but in our little corner of paradise, my kids are STARVING when they get home from school. Ever see those nature videos featuring large predators (picture lions or cheetahs) ripping through their unfortunate prey? You can find that type of action in my kitchen each afternoon.

Therefore, as an act of self-preservation, I do not dare play the "snack-search" game with my progeny, but should I ever be so foolish, I hope you will be quoted saying nice things about me when the article titled "Hungry children acquitted for eating mom" is published.

Would you attempt this game? Why or why not? Do tell.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 New Year's Resolutions

I usually don't make resolutions because I consider the entire year ripe for self-improvement. Also I can't remember them past Jan. 2.

But change is good (and large bills are better), so in the spirit of David Letterman's Top 10 list, I will now share my Top 10 Resolutions for 2011.

Resolution #10: I will keep the jokes about writing "2010" on my checks to a minimum. No one finds them amusing.

Resolution #9: I will jot down the names of books that I really enjoyed reading, so the next time I inform someone I am an avid reader, and they ask what I've read recently, my mind won't go blank and I won't appear to be an idiot/liar/dementia candidate.

Resolution #8: I will avoid offering unsolicited advice and I highly recommend that you do the same.

Resolution #7: Floss daily. Oh, wait, I already do that -- RESOLUTION COMPLETED! (It motivates me more to cross at least one thing off the "to-do" list.)

Resolution #6: I will stop asking my children and husband, "Are you really going to wear THAT?" when I already know the answer. The husband will change if it's for work; for any other occasion, he'll laugh as if I made a funny. The kids will look at me, mystified, as if they no longer speak English. Needless to say, they will continue to wear THAT.

Resolution #5: I will stop making Wal-Mart jokes. This one's gonna be hard to keep.

Resolution #4: Speaking of shopping, when going to Costco and Target, I will only buy the necessities on my list, no matter how good a bargain something is. However, this resolution is null and void during the month of December and in the event that something really is a good bargain.

Resolution #3: I will eat healthily to reap the benefits of a nutritious lifestyle and set a good example for my family. However, if I do end up having junk, I'll wait until the kids go to bed so I don't set a bad example (or have to share).

Resolution #2: I will not wait until Super Bowl Sunday to ask of football fans, "Who's playing again?"

Resolution #1: I will not cringe at the thought of hot yoga. This one's gonna be hard to keep.

What are YOU resolving to do in 2011?
(Note: Thanks to the sharp-eyed readers with fully functioning brains who pointed out the year discrepency in my original post. Apparently when I'm tired I forget what year I'm in. So here's an addendum to my resolutions: I will not blog when brain-dead. Happy New Year!)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jook for a Cold Winter's Day

Last weekend my husband roasted up some delicious Cornish game hens. After we had stuffed ourselves silly, we were left with a few carcasses that still had attached to them a lot of delicious, hard-to-reach meat.

What to do with them? A hot bowl of jook immediately came to mind, prompted, I'm sure, by the cold winter weather that has hit the Northwest. Jook is a Chinese rice soup/porridge that consists of some very basic items: rice, liquid and any meats or vegetables that the cook wants to throw in there.

In Seattle, you can find jook (also called "congee" in some areas) at the more authentic Chinese restaurants. Some restaurants will offer it during their weekend dim sum service, pushing a large pot of plain jook around on a cart with bowls of sliced green onions and other accompaniments offered on the side.

There's no one correct way of making jook. When I was little, my mom would fill a large stockpot with rice, water, ground beef and finely shredded carrots, and feed the pretty, orange-tinged product to my toddler sisters. It was a nutritious, teething-friendly dish.

With my jook, I threw the game hen carcasses into a stockpot and added two cups of jasmine rice (short-grain white rice makes for a smoother consistency, but I only had jasmine on hand and it worked fine), two cups of water, about 6 cups of organic chicken stock, and three carrots, shredded. I simmered everything for about an hour (some of the liquid I added near the end when the jook looked a little dry), removed the bones/cartilage while leaving in the meat, and added a little soy sauce and pepper.

The resulting warm jook is flavorful, comforting and has a pretty carrot-orange tinge to it, just like my mom's concoctions. We've eaten it for breakfast in lieu of oatmeal, lunch, dinner, snack, etc. There's no wrong time to eat jook. Even my kids (who claim they don't like restaurant jook) have had a few bowls of this.

This would work really well with some white pepper and a few salty peanuts sprinkled on top, but we enjoy it plain, too. I think the big pot of jook will disappear soon, and then it'll be time to roast more birds.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Heavy Heart

Some good friends of ours are going through hell right now. There is something wrong with their son and they're going through a ton of testing. The diagnosis doesn't look good and, if he does end up with the condition the specialists suspect, there is very little they can do for him and survival is very slim. One of the parents works in the medical field so the process has been less chaotic for them than for someone unfamiliar with the system; however, all that knowledge is little consolation right now.

They know that I'm available should they need anything. For now there's not much we can do other than wait. Gotta go give my kids a hug now.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cooking With the Queen of Improv

One thing I dislike about being a busy mom (wait, "busy mom" is a redundant term, right?) is the fact that I don't get a lot of time to try out new recipes, let alone go shopping for special items that I normally don't stock in my bulging pantry. So when I see a recipe I like, I become the Queen of Improv. Sometimes the results are delicious; sometimes they're comically bad. Fortunately, they're often good enough to cancel out the bad.

I was inspired by reading this great article in Sunday's Seattle Times about cooking with local seasonal produce. The article includes a great recipe for Farfalle pasta with pine nuts, currants and kale. It sounded delicious and, as we do not eat kale on a regular basis, I marched down to my local grocers to pick up a large bunch of organic kale. I was surprised by how reasonably priced it was, about $3 for a HUGE bunch.

Of course, I was so busy with other "to-do's" that I didn't manage to pick up the rest of the ingredients. So tonight, during a busy weekday evening, I decided to do the Improv using substitute ingredients I already had. I used chopped walnuts instead of pine nuts, raisins instead of currants and (the biggest difference) spaghetti noodles instead of farfalle (or bowtie) pasta. I also used more garlic than the recipe called for, as our family subscribes to the "if-four-cloves-are-good-then-six-is-better" school of thought.

"What's for dinner?" the kids asked.

"Spaghetti with kale, garlic, walnuts and raisins!" I announced, with just the right amount of enthusiasm - enough to try to get them excited but not enough to make them suspicious.

Silence. "Um, that sounds interesting," said my son cautiously.

The results? It was delicious and the whole family enjoyed it. The toasted walnuts and thin slices of sauteed kale gave a nice crunch to the noodles, and the raisins' sweetness balanced the kale's peppery bitterness quite effectively. I believe some family members went back for seconds and both kids asked me to make it again. Ding, ding, ding -- WINNER!

One of these days I may try to find time to follow the recipe exactly so it'll look as pretty as the Seattle Times photo below. Until then, I am still unashamedly and unabashedly the Queen of Improv.

Photo from The Seattle Times

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Most Amazing Mom

A friend turned me on to this this amazing blog post, in which a mom discusses her preschool-aged son's experiences dressing up as Daphne from "Scooby Doo" for Halloween.

What a ballsy woman she is to allow him to be what he wanted to be and to stand up to the judgemental comments other parents made. I am amazed by how threatened people can be by something that goes outside of THEIR concepts of "normal." People, it's a preschool Halloween party, not the Pride Parade. Wish they had kept their mouths shut. As the saying goes: Opinions are like assholes - Everyone's got one, and they all stink. (Or something like that.)

I remember being very sad when my son learned about "acceptable" gender roles. He loved the color pink until kindergarten, when he informed me that it was a color for girls. He also gave me a listing of which toys were for boys and which ones for girls. Why do we teach boys that it's NOT acceptable for them to play with dolls, yet it's okay for girls to play with toy cars? (And as the parent of both a boy and girl, I'm glad girls have a lot more leeway with "acceptable" toys nowadays, but I don't think it's fair that this doesn't work both ways.)

Just because a little boy wants to dress up as a girl doesn't make him gay. I have never worried about my son turning into a real pumpkin, Teletubbie, skeleton, clown or Darth Vader.

And if the little boy in the blog turns out to be gay, so what? As a mom, I would prefer that my kids be straight, if only for the reason that life is so much harder when your private preferences cause you to be shunned socially and banned from legally marrying. However, if I had to pick between a gay adult child who was emotionally healthy and had happy monogamous relationships versus a straight adult child who slept with everyone and ended up on a "Girls/Boys Gone Wild" DVD, guess which one I'd pick?