Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend Visitor

We had another pet for a few hours yesterday. Papa found it in his yard and brought him over for a visit.
"I wonder what's in the box."

Working up the nerve to touch it.

"Anybody in there?"


Tickling his belly

The dog does not approve.


"Nice turtle"


Friday Freakout

I took the kids out for a drive Friday afternoon. H was having one of those days, and I hoped the change of scenery would do her mood good. We brought the dog along (we're babysitting) and set off. Our first stop was the gas station. We're weren't going to get far otherwise.

When I finished pumping and went to hop back in the car, I made a horrible discovery. The dog had jumped up on the driver's seat to watch out the window and pushed down the lock on the door. My 2 kids, the dog, my purse, my keys, and my cell phone were all locked inside. All the windows were up and it was smoking hot that afternoon.

Panic immediately took hold of my brain. I had visions of my children sweltering in the car, crying, and me being helpless watching them through the window. They'd have me on the evening news to show the world the horrible mother who was so irresponsible as to lock her children in the car on such a hot day. None of that was happening yet, mind you. The kids were still pretty happy from the m&m's I had found for them in the glove compartment before we set out.

I wasn't quite sure what to do, but whatever it was, apparently thinking was not going to be a big part of it. I ran inside the gas station (hoping the kids didn't get upset when I went out of sight). There was a huge line of people at the counter, but I cut to the front and told the attendant my problem. She quickly sensed the urgency of the situation and paged one of the mechanics to come up.

Ah, yes, this station had a garage! It hadn't occurred to me that there were mechanics right there on site! I thought I would have to be waiting for AAA or the police or someone to come out and rescue us.

I ran back out to check on the kids, who were still sitting happily in their car seats. Whatever else I had done, at least I was doing a good job of hiding my panic from them.

The mechanic came out to assess the situation. He started muttering something about this car being designed to be "break-in-proof." That wasn't helping me feel any better. By then, the gentleman waiting behind us for the pump realized what had happened and came out to see if he could help.

It was about then, with the little audience to watch, that my brain starting working again. I looked at J and said, "Oh." The kid is 4 and a half, after all. He's not completely helpless anymore. He's been able to get himself out of his car seat for at least a year. For half a second, I considered how I was going to save face in front of the helpful gentlemen next to me, but gave up on that pretty quickly.

"J, would you get yourself unstrapped?" I called through the window.

"Sure, Mom!" He hopped down from his seat.

"Good, now would you open the door, please?"

"Ok!"

Now why didn't I think of that 5 minutes earlier? Before the crowd had started forming and all. I felt a little sheepish about having created a bit of a scene. Oh, well. I thanked the gentlemen (without making eye-contact) and climbed back into the car.

I gave J a high-five and told him he was a super hero for saving the day.

"Thanks, Mommy. Your pleasure is my work!"

I'm not sure exactly what it meant, but it gave me the warm fuzzies inside just the same!

Friday, June 20, 2008

100 Things You Can Make

Crystal, the author of my favorite frugal mommy blog, linked to Deborah's list of 100 things you can make yourself, complete with instructions. I found it fascinating to see what you can make at home if you've got the time and inclination.

Here are the things I've made from the list:
1. Applesauce - I learned while I was in Armenia from Mrs. Dreisbach. It's really quite easy and very good.
2. Spaghetti Sauce - my mom's recipe is the best!
3. Jelly - I helped my mom make it a number of times as a kid. I made it for the first time by myself last summer. We have a great blueberry farm near our house and I made blueberry jam. Not nearly as good as mom's strawberry jam, though!
4. Mayonnaise - for a high school science class when we were learning about emulsions. I'm pretty sure I didn't actually eat any of it.
5. Pesto - I'll have to share my recipe sometime. It's good. I've made it for a number of special occasions around our house. I usually turn it into pesto cream sauce for pasta. Yummy!
6. Salsa - without cilantro, of course!
7. Gravy
8. Coffee - ok, this was a pretty easy one to get credit for. I even looked at the instructions to make sure they weren't talking about growing the beans yourself or something.
9. Stuffing - Grandma Greene's recipe is the best!
10. Ice Cream
11. Pizza
12. Playdough - I learned recently that the homemade version doesn't have the preservatives that the store bought stuff does. Leave it in a ziplock bag undisturbed for a few months and it gets pretty rancid.
13. Bubbles - Soap + Water. Yeah, I can handle that.
14. Curtains - really cute yellow ones for our second home's guest room. Ok, my mom helped a little since i don't have a sewing machine of my own.
15. Candles
16. Skirt
17. Shorts - Not exactly shorts, but I worked at a camp one summer that required the female counselors to wear culottes. They're not an easy thing to find in a store. I made a bunch myself.
18. Bread
19. Pretzels - The soft kind. Only once. It was a little more work than it was worth.
20. Stool - Probably not the kind she was referring to :)
21. Pinata - A taco-shaped one in 5th grade for our class's Mexico party.
22. Crayons - I made crayon muffins once. I'm counting it.
23. Gnocchi - Made it in a cooking class with my friend Erin once. Never at home. A little too labor intensive.
24. Guitar - Again, not exactly. But I did make a hammered dulcimer once for the science olympiad (with significant help from my dad and Mr. Johnson). It's a stringed instrument, so it should count.
25. Igloo - see photos of my most recent creation
26. Cheese - I also learned this in Armenia, but it's another lesson I haven't used since.

These are a few of the things I haven't made, but would like to someday:
1. Hummus - yummy!
2. Pudding pops
3. Pickles
4. Finger paint
5. Bird house
6. House - this will never happen, but I think it would be fun to be able to design a house with all the things we like best from the places we've lived so far.
7. A kite

Here are some things from that list I'll definitely never make:
1. Bacon - Seriously, I have better things to do.
2. Tofu - Gag! Enough said.
3. Wine/beer - I'm a teetotaler. The only alcoholic beverage I've made is apple jack from letting the cider hang around too long.
4. Paper - It's plentiful enough around our house without me making more.
5. Couch - God bless you if you've got the skill for this, but wow! That seems like an awful lot of work to me!
6. Biodiesel - I prefer not to mess with things that are combustible.
7. 4th of July sparklers - See #6. Besides, we still have dozens left over from 2 years ago. J touched the wrong end of one and wants nothing more to do with them.

And would you like some potatoes with that?

J's not the only little guy who makes me laugh with the funny things he says. Last Sunday one of the boys in my Sunday School class was trying to act macho. He puffed up his little 4 year-old chest, clenched his fists, and strutted around saying - in his best New York accent, "Do you wanna piece a' meat?! Do you wanna piece a' meat?!"

It's funny how kids (and adults too, I suppose) hear something other than what's really said. A couple years ago, J started talking about "Backafoosters." I couldn't for the life of me figure out what he was talking about. When I asked him what it was, he gave some strange explanation about "baby sheep and they have mamma sheep and daddy sheep and. . ." It became a little joke in our house to call something a backafooster after that. We even nicknamed J our "little backafooster" for a while. Then one day I finally realized what it was when I heard a line in a Little Einstein DVD about Rocket's "back up boosters." Ohhh!

One of the reasons J is so smart (yes, I'm biased) is that he doesn't hesitate to ask a question when he hears something he doesn't understand. Like a couple weeks ago when we were driving to visit some friends for lunch after church. B asked if I knew what was on the menu. I replied that she said she had fish for us and some chicken she can do in the wok for the kids. J piped up from the back seat and asked, "What's chicken shikandoo?" Sounds like a Chinese dish!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cheap Date

Tuesday night is date night for J and me. He goes to kids' choir practice on Tuesdays. We go out afterward for a special treat. The first time we went I told him we could go wherever he wanted to go.

Anywhere at all.

Where'd we go? Wendy's.

He's a pretty cheap date. Which worked out especially well tonight. We were running a little late. Not so much because we left late, just because traffic is very heavy at that time of day, plus there was a downpour going on so we were moving very slowly. I realized part way there that I'd forgotten to bring my purse with me. I knew that if I tried to turn around and get it we'd miss most of practice, so we pressed on.

Fortunately, I hadn't forgotten my coupon. We recently discovered the strawberry fruitista at Taco Bell and that was what J wanted for his treat this week. I was able to scrape together enough change from the car to get a cheesy bean and rice burrito (which I love except for that blasted cilantro in the sauce. ), cinnamon twists and the free fruitista. I avoided eye contact with the kid behind the counter while counting out my pennies, nickels, and dimes to pay.

It was $1.79 well spent.