Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Book of Babies - How to Wake Up in 8 Easy Steps

Step 1 - After finding yourself inexplicably awake just 20 minutes into your nap, search for your paci and other beloved items while cooing gently. Practice making babbling noises while you sniff your blankie and run your fingers over the satin edge. This is key language development time. It's also key spitting (and chuckling at the spitting) time.

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Step 2 - Increase the volume and pitch of your babbling noises. Try to be adorable. Maybe Mom will come rushing to get you, since you're being so cute. However, don't count on it. She's probably in the shower or on the phone, and simply happy that you're enjoying yourself. However, if she does appear in this phase, skip to step 7.

Step 3 - Stand up and jump, while squeeeing and laughing at yourself. Continue jumping until you notice your lovey bouncing up and down next to you.

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Step 4 - Throw your lovey out of the crib, preferably at something metal to create as much noise as possible to alert Mom that you're up. Start interspersing unhappy sounds as you toss your stuffed animals and bedding out of the crib. Don't forget to squeeze your paci down between the crib and the wall to replenish your stash. Keep jumping. Momentum is key to the next step.

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Step 5 - Realize that all comfort items are gone and alert Mom to your plight. "Accidentally" bump your chin on the rail as you jump. Practice screaming while holding on to the rail and arching your head back as far as possible. Repeat three times. It's good to stretch after jumping. Keep up the wailing and gnashing of tooth. Flail on your now empty bed with as much energy and dreariness as you can, because Mom always comes when you're in "real" pain. Don't forget to let your head make contact with the bed. Nothing says "sad" like putting your head as low as possible, even if it means some uncomfortable contorting. Lean into the stretch. This position has the added benefit of making your face turn red, adding convincing realism to your act.*

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Step 6 - The instant Mom is in sight, give up the injured chin act and reward her for coming to get you by leaping up into her arms with a big smile and an excited "Ma!"

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Step 7 - While your mother is lifting you out of the crib, suddenly leap from her arms in an attempt to get the beloved items on the floor and bonk your head for real on the side rail. Repeat wailing and gnashing of tooth. Pay attention to the way you act when you're truly sad; you can use this valuable information to up your game next time.

Step 8 - Wait fifteen minutes, show obvious signs of tiredness, and repeat steps 1 through 8 as often as desired. Mom doesn't have anything better to do; she won't mind.


*Please note - for waking when sick, cold, hot, hungry, confused, soiled, over-stimulated, teething, having a nightmare, in a new room/bed, startled, irritated by some random piece of clothing, bitter about the ending of LOST, or just because it's fun to confuse Mom every once in a while, skip steps 1 through 6 and begin at step 7.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Herbed Brown Rice with Red Onions

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My hang-up with brown rice is that it takes twice as long (or more) to cook than regular rice. Usually, I just take the easy route and go with the white stuff, but this dish compels me to go through the extra trouble. I try to convince myself that it's healthy, since it's made with brown rice and all. We'll just conveniently overlook the four tablespoons of butter in there.

I made this the other day to go with Jaden's beef with broccoli, which you have to try. It will forever change your thinking about oyster sauce. Then I made it to accompany the curry chicken and broccoli casserole that is my husband's most requested dish. Heaven! But really, my favorite way to eat this rice is straight up, by the forkful, while I'm setting the table and getting the rest of dinner ready.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups brown rice
4 tbsp butter
3 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 slivered red onion
2 cloves garlic
6 or 7 fresh basil leaves

Yield: 6 servings

Directions:

Begin by measuring the 3 1/2 cups water and keep it close by for the time you'll need to add it to the rice. I find that it's easier for me to have it on hand at the beginning, than to risk burning the rice while measuring water. (Learned that the hard way.)

To brown the rice, put it and two tablespoons of the butter in a large sauce pan, on high heat. I like to use a large pan so that the uncooked rice lays no thicker than 3/4ths of an inch when placed in the pan.

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This provides enough surface area for the water to effectively soak into the rice in time. If the pot is too small and the rice is too deep, the water will pool at the bottom and you'll have uncooked rice soup when the time is up. (Learned that the hard way, too.)

Stir the rice constantly as it browns in the butter to prevent it from scorching. Saute until it's lightly browned, like so,

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then immediately pour in the water. It will instantly begin to boil. Turn the heat down to medium low (a 3 out of 10 on my electric stove top).

Stir in one teaspoon of salt, put the lid on, and set a kitchen timer for 45 minutes. Once the time is up, keep the lid on and turn the heat off. Let the rice sit for five more minutes before removing the lid.

While the rice is cooking, sliver the red onion.

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Prepare the basil and garlic and set aside, to be added to the sauteed onions in the final stages.

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Rinse the basil leaves, pat them dry, and then loosely bunch them together to chop them.

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Heat the remaining two tablespoons of butter in a frying pan on medium high heat. Add the onions when the butter begins to bubble.

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Gently stir to coat the onions with butter, then let the onions lightly caramelize for a few minutes by disturbing them as little as possible, but move them around enough to keep them from burning. Turn the heat down if the butter is turning brown.

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Continue to saute the onions, periodically stirring them to keep them from burning, until they begin to turn golden brown on the edges.

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Once the onions have softened and are somewhat translucent, stir in two cloves of minced garlic and saute for a minute or two more to gently cook the garlic.

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Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped basil.

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When the rice is finished, fold the onion mixture into the rice.

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Garnish with a little fresh basil, and pat yourself on the back for making something so healthy. (Butter? What butter? I don't see half a stick of butter in this.)

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Naturalist, Part Two

My daughter has completed the nature book that I blogged about back in January. I love this collection of thoughts and pictures. Her misspellings are so cute and intellectual for a five six year old. There are some lovely new additions, to go along with the butrfui, wrm, and the golden arches already featured in the book.

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"I was trying to color a bat. But that was WAY when I was little. I think I was only in KINDERGARTEN!"

This is what a bat looks like, now that she's all grown up and in first grade:

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I've gotta give it to her; this bat looks much healthier than it did in Kindergarten. Speaking of first grade, she documented some important facts about her first week as a "big kid."

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It's true; going into Kindergarten she wasn't able to read, but now she can. This is a valid milestone to document. From an artistic point of view, I love that she drew the book first, drawing the stick figure behind it, to accomplish the effect of having the book in front.

Another noteworthy aspect of first grade — she now has her own desk, which I'm told is very difficult to open and the teacher doesn't help. I'm also told that Cassidy fell on the monkey bars, and Claire's dad has had surgery three times.

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Some more entries in her nature book:

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I love this owl, he's one of my favorites.

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(Clearly influenced by Word World.)

And finally, something that should be carefully noted and documented in every nature book:

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But wait, there's more!

Literally.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Happy Birthweek!

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Remember when birthdays used to last just one day? My daughter turned six this week. There was the day of the friend party, the day the birthday was celebrated in school, the family party, the time that the people at the restaurant sang to her, and the go to the store and redeem gift certificates day.

Here's a run-down of the birthweek.

Friend party:

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We used these props to take pictures of the kids when they first walked in, and then printed them at the hour photography place to send home with the gift bags:

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Which was great in theory, except that our runner didn't return back with the pictures until about three minutes after the party ended. So they just got handed out to the kids instead of being clipped to their bags. But that's what they were supposed to look like!


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Slaying the dragon:

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Thanks for doing her hair, Bridget!

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Family party:

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This is the look of "these aren't just pants; these are PURPLE pants!"

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This is the look of "if you insist on taking pictures of me, I am SO putting them through a black and white filter to make these dark exhaustion circles under my eyes less obvious!"

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The balloon, that my daughter begged and pleaded to be allowed to take outside. We told her she would lose it. She guaranteed us that she would not let go of it, and would tie it back on to the weights it came with. She walked out the sliding glass door, her knuckles white from gripping the ribbon so tightly.

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That's when the neighbor girl asked to see it. She saw it... briefly... before it was too high up to see anymore.


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We give the other children little presents to open on their siblings' birthdays. These white boards from the dollar spot were a big hit. My three year old is just barely learning to write letters. I showed him how to write mom,

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and this is what he came up with:

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He even remembered how to spell it this morning. Love it!


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My daughter had a great birthday this year. This was the first big "friend party" that we've attempted. I'm hoping that she is old enough to remember it and appreciate it! The week has come to a close, all of our house guests have left, and we're all looking forward to a nice calm relaxing week of normal.


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Some of us more than others.
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