Thursday, May 31, 2012

Three Stitches

For Sis, in her left thumb, which she cut on a shell at the Daisy end of year picnic.

Sugar-Coating

Sis last night:  "Mommy, I had a bad dream! . . . . But I got to eat the sweets!"

Humidity Meter

There are two clear signs, I've noticed, that show how moist it has been:  1). my face is ringed in wispy curls that get frizzier as the humidity rises and 2). the dried apple rings made by students at the historic house have grown soft and mushy!

Much Better

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers, emails, and help.  After a rough day yesterday, due to reactions to the anesthesia and painkillers, Mama Hungry is feeling better this morning.  She is in good spirits, remarking that this was "surgery-lite" compared to this summer's probable one!  Her parents were wonderful, the kids were great, and I am stronger than I have been in two years.  So, as good as can be.  We should have the results in a week or so, with surgery, barring unforeseen results, at the end of July sometime.


But, so I don't forget, a few things I learned, very specific to us:


In the hospital:

  • Take as little as possible to the hospital--who really reads in waiting rooms anyway?  I lugged around a book and two magazines and never took them out of the bag.  Though, oddly, there was not a magazine or paper to be found in the whole hospital!  This might change for a longer surgery or multiple-day stay.
  • It takes longer than you think.  
  • And the follow-up:  get used to not knowing.  They wouldn't give us any information until about 10 minutes before they were ready to discharge her--she woke up, ate, walked around, etc--before they told us.  Which is probably why it took so long.  Even though we had asked--politely and patiently--before that.  (When I had my two outpatient surgeries there, they let Mama in with me beforehand and she was there when I woke up.  Not sure why yesterday was different).
  • Which leads to:  you're pretty helpless.  Relinquish illusions of control and you'll feel better.  This is my lesson right now in many things!
  • Yep, hospital visits are very good exercises in mindfulness and the Four Noble Truths!
  • Medications and anesthesia make Mama nauseous and dizzy--more anti-nauseals next time.
  • For the patient:  socks, change of comfy clothes, lotion, lip balm, driver's license, insurance card, nothing but eyeglasses.
  • For the waiting caregivers:  charged smartphone!, water, hand sanitizer,
  • About the drive home:    validated parking pass, easy directions to pick up spot and then home for whomever is driving. patient in front seat, clear driveway so shortest walk to the house.

At home:
  • I should have done more of the chores so I had less to do yesterday--run the dishwasher early and unloaded it, finished off the last load of laundry, etc--we had prepped the kids' morning routine beforehand but not the evening (or next morning) and so were stuck with chores to do, a nauseous patient, and exhaustion.  
  • There is always a trip to the pharmacy.  Always.  Good time to get whatever the patient wants to eat or do.  Nice way for caregiver to take a break (at least for me).
  • For the patient:  crackers, applesauce, rice, broth, toast (Sis made Mama's favorite, with butter and sugar!), gingerale (or Zinger Punch), remote controls and the phone (in a handy basket), clean clothes, various distractions (we had iPad games, new videos, a magazine, and pre-recorded tv), charged phone and computer, ice packs/heating pads as needed.
  • For the caregiver:  a few easy meals already done (would paper plates be overkill??  Ma and Gong cooked last night but that was probably too much), iced coffee, and chocolate!  :)  
  • Extra hands are always needed--we were very grateful for Ma and Gong.  Sis and Bud were also immensely helpful.

To Do Before Next Time:
  • get a lamp for Mama's nightstand
  • clean the house right beforehand (empty fridge for extra meals; empty litterbox for cats, who stayed in their room all day with people in and out; especially clear the bedroom; charge the toothbrushes!)
  • big run to stores (grocery, pet store) for staples a day or so before
  • pay bills early (because, while we didn't miss any, we were pretty distracted more than just the one day this week)
  • and whatever we come up with in the coming days . . . . 
Any helpful hints from those of you who have been here before??  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A-OK

Mama is home and doing pretty well.  We'll get the results in a week or so.  Thanks so much for your thoughts, prayers, and help.

Right Now

In waiting room, with Ma, had breakfast, walked around, shop not open.  Probably awhile til they call us, though I imagine she's done.  Gong got the kids off just fine and will probably be here soon.

Think of Us

We're heading to the hospital this morning for the first of mama's procedures and will be there half the day.  She'll be home midday and right as rain in a day or so.  Please keep her in your thoughts.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sleepless in Connecticut

The kids are sleep-deprived.  Instead of their usual 11 hours, they've been getting more like 9 since at least the weekend.  Not through our lack of trying--early bedtimes, silenced alarm clocks, --but they are excited and exhausted.

Tonight, awake more than an hour after bedtime, Sis explained, "My body is full of action!"

You Know We've Just Been on Vacation When . . .

Sis and Bud adapt our outing to their imaginative play.  This time, they've created a newspaper office in our basement similar to Ben Franklin's print shop!

Right Now

A huge thunderstorm is rolling and breaking the heat of the last few days, providing some relief to people and plants alike.

Lunch, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Saturday
  • The new World Trade Center--we admire the tower from NJ
  • Vince Lombardi rest stop--nothing like cinnamon buns for breakfast!
  • Independence Visitor Center--big, new since we were there 10 years ago, and a great anchor for the site; kids pick up Junior Ranger booklet (and complete enough activities to earn their Independence ranger badge) and trading cards (which they earned by answering questions posed by rangers).
  • Liberty Bell--but only from outside, as we wouldn't brave the lines
  • Independence Hall, again just from the outside, but an up-close look at the "Great Essentials" documents--Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and Constitution
  • City Tavern:  Sally Lunn bread, Anadama bread, sweet potato roll, shrub, mushroom toast, lobster pot pie, chicken pot pie, fried tofu a la Ben Franklin, all served by costumed interpreters in a reconstructed 18th-century building.  My favorite stop, both for the food and the atmosphere.  I got the chef's Taste of History DVDs for home.  
  • Ben Franklin's Print Shop, complete with Amos the mouse from Ben and Me, which we read before our trip.  This was the kids' favorite stop in Philly.
  • President's House archaeological site discovered during building of new Liberty Bell center, with outdoor exhibition on Washington's slaves.  My second favorite stop.
  • Free Quaker Meeting House
  • Ben Franklin's grave 
  • Shopping--hammered dulcimer cd, magnets, Philly puzzle, soap, mob cap, NPS pins and patches, Junior Ranger vest, books 
  • And all the while, I hum, "Open up a window . . . It's hot as hell in Philadelphia!" from 1776.  
  • Dinner at Iron Hill Brewery: pomme frites with garlic rosemary aioli, quinoa salad, egg roll sampler, shrimp, cheeseburger, ice cream, oatmeal cake
  • Sis and Bud shared a pullout sofa in our hotel suite, but Sis came to us in the night to complain.  "Mom, Bud feels my warmth and keeps scooting over.  He thinks it's you and he wants to cuddle.  So I keep pushing him back, 'Stay on your side!'  I even threw Mr. Big over to the other side, but he just keeps cuddling with me!"

Sunday
  • Competition begins early, with Bud's first two forms back-to-back.
  • Gold in broadsword!
  • Gold in staff!
  • Sis plays DS and chats with Ma and Gong.
  • We have chicken and broccoli, fried rice, pork buns, and noodles for lunch.
  • Masters' performances of various wushu-kung fu and tai chi
  • Team competitions are fascinating, with whips, double swords, etc.
  • Gold in nunchucks!
  • I asked Bud if he heard people cheering for him when he was doing his kung fu forms.  "No, Mom," he explained, taking his first position and sweeping his arm around in the way he usually begins, "I think, 'I am the best!  I am the best!  I am the best!'"
  • We take some pictures, talk to his master, watch several more divisions.
  • Dinner at the brewery again with Ma and Gong, before they head home.  Bud practically falls asleep at the table.
  • We chill in the hotel, but kids get second wind won't fall asleep.

Monday

  • We "sleep in" and leave hotel by 8:30-something.
  • We head to Animals & Acrobats at Van Cortlandt Manor in Hudson valley, essentially an old-fashioned circus
  • Boston Circus Guild:  acrobats, trapeze artists, other aerialists, all to "Emperor Norton Stationary Marching Band," all dressed in steampunk.  Kids love woman with hoops, trapeze work, partner acrobatics, etc.  Sis wants to be an acrobat!
  • Lunch of hot dogs, turkey sandwich, pasta salad, bean salad, lemonades
  • Double servings of Blue Pig local ice cream in the high heat--"double the yum!" Sis says.
  • Visit the Cabinet of Curiosities, with Fiji Mermaid, mastodon, and invisible woman in a box!  Bud declares, "There is no magic!"  I tease him about being a realist.  Then I ask about the Tooth Fairy.  He stands perplexed then answers, "The Tooth Fairy is different because she's not creepy!"
  • Circus Arts hands-on.  Bud tries juggling; Sis excels at this big yo-yo.  Both walk on tight rope and try stilts.  
  • Flight of Raptors display birds of prey and Two by Two have animals, including a huge, hot, brown rabbit reclining in the shade of its enclosure.  "He's a melting bunny," Sis declared.
  •  Mama, Sis, and Bud conspire to buy me an adorable giant stuffed hedgehog.
  • We head home around 2 pm, missing traffic almost completely!
  • We get the AC on quickly and sit around the rest of the afternoon, reminiscing about our great weekend.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

HOORAY!!

Bud won three gold medals --in staff, broadsword, and nunchucks--in his division at the kung fu tournament.  We are so proud of him! 

Liberty


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lunch


Near Where the River Runs

I see the new World Trade Center spiraling skyward over all of Lower Manhattan for the first time, takes my breath away ....

Friday, May 25, 2012

In Memoriam

For Memorial Day weekend this year, I share with you a touching post and photo as a reminder of the meaning behind the holiday.

(See here for one perspective on honoring the holiday despite being a pacifist.)

Too Much of a Good Thing

It's kinda like that part in every job interview where they ask you about your weaknesses and you come up with one of those "good" flaws, like work too hard/long, perfectionism, etc., trying to show off to your potential new employer while you both know it's not really a flaw in the same way always late, lazy, doesn't return calls/email, might be.

But still:  Bud and Sis are reading too much.

They both stay up way past SQUIRT time is over, indicated by their clock turning blue.  Sometimes we even have to go in more than once to remind them to put the books down.

If they wake in the middle of the night for anything less than a nightmare, they will turn on their lamps and read some.

And Bud even wakes up early, before 6 a.m., to continue his reading!

Which means, with everything else the same, they're losing some sleep each night.  You'd think we didn't let them read any other time!  Except they do read--in the times between finishing getting dressed and eating breakfast, eating breakfast and getting out to the bus, sometimes even on the bus, at school, and then oftentimes right after school and before dinner!!!

No wonder they're going through about 10 books, mostly actual chapter books, per kid a week from the library.  (And, yes, we're usually book buyers but who wants to pay for all that?  Especially because most of them are "twinkies" they'll never read again.)  Sometimes it's more than one a day.

And they've got the circles under their eyes to prove it.

We even stockpile paper bookmarks because they sometimes have more than one book going at a time and we used to run out of our nice ones; more than that, the bookmarks would get left in the library books.

But just as I've read that you're not supposed to wake a sleeping baby (okay, I did that), you shouldn't interrupt a reading child.

Because, I suppose, even not in moderation, it's a very good problem to have.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Good For You

Snickerdoodles for our neighbors whose dog of 16 years died this weekend.  And also as a thank-you for another neighbor who entertained the kids one afternoon.

They weren't "good for you" in a healthy way, because we were out of wheat germ for the healthy version.  But I did substitute coconut oil for vegetable shortening and they came out just as well.  I'll be making that substitution from now on.  And everyone liked the warm, cinnamon-y goodness.

-=-=-=-=-=-

Snickerdoodles



1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening (or coconut oil)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

cinnamon-sugar:  1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the shortening and sugar till smooth, then beat in the eggs, again beating till smooth.

Beat in the vanilla, baking powder, then add the flour, mixing slowly till combined.

Place about 1/2 cup cinnamon-sugar in an 8" or 9" round cake pan or in a zippered bag.

Drop the soft dough by teaspoonfuls into the pan with the sugar, about 6 to 8 balls at a time. Gently shake the pan to coat the dough balls with sugar. Place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between them. Using the bottom of a glass, flatten each cookie till it's about 1/2-inch thick. Repeat till you've used up all the dough.

Bake the snickerdoodles in a preheated 400°F oven for 8-11 minutes.  They'll be set and just starting to turn golden. Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool them on a rack.

adapted from King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion

Coming Up for Air

It's been so busy here:  end-of-school activities like picnics and meetings, Girl Scout parties, kung fu practices, and doctor's appointments.

Yes, more doctors.  Because Mama Hungry will most likely have surgery later this summer, following a few more tests.

We're thankful for all of the support and help that has been offered.  We would appreciate your thoughts and prayers in the coming months.  Also, the kids don't know the whole of it yet so, please, if you see us, understand that we can't talk if they are nearby.

So, to go back to our new motto:





My New Frock

For those of you who know me IRL, as they say, and not just virtually (though, I can guess you've guessed), I'm not much for clothes.

Except costumes.

I have two for going to Renaissance fairs, one mid-19th-century one that's a bit too small because I don't have a tight corset, and now my colonial-era costume.  They're my favorite clothes!  Of course, this preference goes way back, as my mom would tell you--she used to joke I would become a nun, because of the organization and the robes!

At the beginning of the month, the historical costumer Jas. Townsend & Sons published their new catalog of 18th- and 19th-century garb and I got so excited about the new bodices and flounced skirts and new prints.  Right off, I ordered a lovely floral-print skirt for spring and summer, while I consider what long-sleeved bodice to order for fall tours.

And it arrived yesterday.  Just in time for my tour today!  I fussed with it all evening, trying to decide if the new print would go over or under my other maroon skirt.  I'm even excited about getting dressed up this morning and playing with the new pieces, including a new neckerchief and pin.

Regular clothes are just never this exciting.

Zen Garden

No, not the rock kind.  Our haphazard greenscape along our rock wall.  Every year, we overbuy flowers and enthusiastically plant them, forgetting in a few weeks to water and weed them, so they invariably die.  Unless they are extremely hardy (and really, who wants to baby a plant?  How did species make it this far without us??).  Like hostas, the ever-present purple-bloom spiderwort (my favorite), a miniature rose bush, and fragrant, quickly spreading mint.  Still, we cheerfully putter in our garden each year and enjoy the early endeavors.

But this year has been different.  We're actually still taking care of our plants.  Every morning while waiting for the bus, Sis and I peruse the wall, checking on new buds--look, some strawberries!--and even weeding!  We're learning the names of the plants together, noticing more bugs and birds, absorbing the natural cycle of life.  Then as the bus pulls away, I find a few spare minutes to water what needs it, which hasn't been very necessary with all this rain.  I like watering the plants, standing there directing the spray, listening to the sounds of the morning.  It's rather meditative.

Our plants are still very much on their own--no fertilizer or weed killer, haphazard weeding and watering, so only the strong ones make it.  But we're giving them a chance . . . and it's benefitting us all.


Kidbits



I was reviewing Bud's progress report with him earlier this week and, when I got to the part about the poetry and non-fiction unit, he said, "Poetry is my favorite genre!"

-=-=-=-=-=-

On Sunday during the children's lesson, Bud raised his hand to answer that Jesus was the figure in the Bible who spoke about light, which songwriters adapted to "This Little Light of Mine."  We had been surprised that Bud knew that because he's not nearly as interested in Jesus as Sis is (Sis loves the Nativity, not so much Easter; though, when she was much younger, she thought the Resurrection was when Jesus became the Easter Bunny!).  So we asked him.  And he said, "Well, I knew he was in the Bible . . . and he's religious!"


-=-=-=-=-=-


After performing his kung fu forms for his school and receiving many congratulations, Bud told us he was embarrassed and it "made me flattered!"




Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Right Now

Going to bed late 'cos hooked on "London Hospital"--think "ER" meets E.M. Forrester--a BBC series from five years ago that is free on Amazon now.

Gotta watch something, with "Glee," "Smash," and the new Sherlock done for the season.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A New Babysitter

We tried out a new babysitter today, one not named "M," thereby breaking our streak.  But we liked her anyway.  She's their first-grade teacher's teenaged daughter and so I warned the kids extra that whatever they did with the babysitter not only came back to me but would get back to their teacher!  Double whammy.

But they were great.  A tad precocious, actually, because they spent the get-to-know-you hour teaching her how to play chess!

Our Butterfly Garden

I've seen more butterflies this year in our yard than every before, mainly orange painted ladies.  Perhaps a warm winter is good for butterflies.  And now we're trying to make our yard an even better home for them.  To our existing salvia, azalea, phlox, and butterfly bush, all of which are butterfly friendly, we added another salvia and an awfully-named scabiosa, or pin cushion plant.  More beautiful purple!

Letterboxiphilia

Sis has found a new hobby:  letterboxing!

Briefly, letterboxing is a search using clues for a box with a journal and hand-stamp hidden outdoors (it's not geocaching, which uses GPS technology).  There are thousands of letterboxes hidden around the world.  Connecticut's State Forest System even has a program with letterboxes in every state forest, with a patch and a trekking pole as rewards for finding a certain number.  It's great for both families with children and experienced outdoorspeople, with trails of different difficulties.  And apparently some of the boxes have bonus boxes nearby and even trinket rewards!

Sis's Daisy troop went letterboxing last week at a nearby park, led by one of my co-leaders who is a very experienced letterboxer.  My co-leader is also very creative and super organized so there was a whole camp set-up with a "Happy Trails" sign and a table set with a variety of ingredients to make into trail mix (marshmallows, banana chips, butterscotch chips, raisins, peanuts, M&Ms), which they put into little bags with their names and our troop's letterbox stamp on it (yes, she's creative and organized and very detailed).  There were also little letterbox logs for each of them.

They set off as a group up the trail, with several adults in attendance, but not me (too steep, root-y, and rocky).    I stayed behind to watch base camp.  But Sis told me all about it.  There were a few boxes on the trails and each girl got to stamp her journal at each stop.  Then they all trooped back for more snacks.

And Sis planned on her next, our next, letterboxing trip.  I think we'll like it as a family--outdoors but in a controlled place like a park, the incentive of a treasure-like hunt, keeping a journal, eventually carving  our own family stamp, even traveling around the country and the world.  And it sounds like our own state is a great place to start!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jubilee Jubilation!

It was the best of Girl Scouting:  hundreds of girls exploring science (robots, astronomy), history (of Girl Scouts and also local CT sites), physical activities (tennis, rock climbing, Taekwondo, jumping rope), volunteer work (different booths by troops), environmental concerns (animals, composting), health (nutrition, recess, platelet donations), while singing, making arts and crafts (bracelets bracelet bracelets), and participating in SWAPS (aka Special Whatchamacallit Affectionately Pinned Somewhere).

Sis in full Daisy tunic with camp backpack and SWAP lanyard rushed from place to place trying so many things. Early on in the day, she received a huge special button announcing her 100+ cookie sales, which prompted a group of GS alum to serenade her with "99 boxes of cookies for sale" (you know the tune!).  She liked SWAPping, quickly exchanging her 25 marshmallows-on-skewers "I Love S'mores" SWAPS for a variety of cute pins--a "Got Cookies?" glass of milk, a slice of (sponge) GS birthday cake, square s'mores, a polymer clay whale, several beaded pins, lots of pompom pins, and such (next time, we'll a) make more SWAPS and b). bring two big Ziploc bags, one for giving away and one for collecting.  See here for SWAP etiquette and here for examples).  Sis was great about approaching older girls all on her own, negotiating the SWAPS (which is a given--you can't really refuse a SWAP if someone asks you, even if you have one like theirs or don't want one).  I only vaguely remember one SWAPS meet when I was a Brownie; don't know what I'd made but got an old black film cannister fountain soda made out of pompoms with a straw that I treasured for years. (Can leaders SWAP??  I wanna play!)  

She also liked visiting the trading post for a special Jubilee patch and a new camp journal.  And she liked the bounce houses.  Bud spent a lot of time in the bounce houses, being a really good sport about being a "GS Bro" (as proclaimed by the SWAP Sis made him).  He also enjoyed the different booths, such as the one where he and Sis played a water rapids Wii game together and when they got to run through the chambers of a giant inflatable heart.  We also did two stops on the Jubilee GS promise letterboxing trail, having come prepared with our own new family letterboxing journal and a bunny and a penguin stamp.

The day turned hotter than we expected, even with all of our water, and we'd mistakenly left many of the outside activities for later in the day (which is why we only did 2 letterboxing stops and none of the scavenger hunt--there's always more to do than there is time (which was hard for the kids).  The line for lunch was 100+ people long.  Seriously.  And the kids got fatigued after 4 hours (no shock there).  And so we headed out for lunch and home midday.  It was still a wonderful day and we'll do another big GS gathering again.  But we'll take more water, our own food, more hats and sunscreen, a rolling bag instead of backpacks, and more SWAPS!

I'm already looking for a new design!  A clothespin bunny, perhaps . . . .

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Right Now

Swapping at Connecticut's Girl Scout 100th Jubilee!


Friday, May 18, 2012

"Raindrops on Roses . . . "

Are you singing the song yet?

It's rather like Catholics and the Nicean Creed; get them started with "I believe in one God" and they can't stop!

We watched Sound of Music over the weekend, one hour each day.  They recognized several of the songs and thoroughly enjoyed the show.  I realized that the first half is better than the second half, especially for kids.  The songs are mostly reprises towards the end.  And then there are the Nazis.  Try explaining Hitler, the swastika, WWII, the Anschluss, and/ or the Nazis to 6-year olds.  So we did our best (Hitler was bad--no UU first principle there.  People were influenced by him, like Rolfe, and so the Nazis took over Austria.  There was a war, which Capt. von Trapp didn't want to fight for the Nazis because he loved Austria) and wished they would "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" already.  All's well that ends well, the movie, I mean.

Three days later, the kiddos were still humming the songs.

We think we'll watch King and I or My Fair Lady next.

Musical Interlude

Mama and I were cleaning out CDs yesterday and came across both Raffi and Laurie Berkner.  Suddenly, the kids were just three-years old, dancing to "Baby Beluga" and laughing to "Willaby Wallaby Woo," stomping to "We are the Dinosaurs" (and curling up in the exact same positions--Bud on his tummy, butt up; Sis on her side sniffing Shirt) and running around to "I'm Gonna Catch You."  So this evening, we played some of the music for them.  They didn't remember the names of either artist but immediately recalled several of the songs.  Soon, they were running around, giggling, falling on the floor, stomping . . . and there I was all weepy and laughing, too.

Tomorrow, Imagination Movers!

Picnic Time

With about 25 days left of school, the end-of-year rush is beginning.  Today it was the school picnic, mainly the thrill of eating outside with your family.  We brought blankets and sandwiches from our local Italian deli, plus cookies, and sat under the shade.  The kids had ordered "bbq"--which was hot dogs, pasta salad, chips, carrots, watermelon, and orangeade or fruit punch.  Amazing how excited they can get about a hot dog!  Eaten outside!  Too bad they can't eat outside everyday and then run around the playground.  Usually, they finish eating in just minutes and have to sit there for 30 minutes total.  Of course, in this day and age when kids have to have something to do all the time and can't be left to their own imaginations, they are given coloring sheets and word searches to pass this time.  I think we actually talked to our friends, made up our own games!  So it was doubly nice that, after all the rain and damp,coloring pages and word searches, they got to play outside some.

Dig It!

An email from Sis and Bud's teacher:


Remind me to file this under "Something you don't hear everyday"--"We went on an archaeological dig before school." !


And it's true.  We did go on an archaeological dig this morning, being a little late to school.  Only we weren't the ones digging.  Archaeologists are digging some test trenches in the yard at "my" historic house, having dug two previous test pits in the midden and privvy.  They've found what you would expect to find from a site continuously occupied since the end of the 17th century:  porcelain fragments, redware fragments, nails, pins, glassware bits, buttons, some grapeshot from the Revolutionary War, and, making up the majority of the finds, bones and shells of oysters and clams.


We spoke to the archaeologists while they dug and sifted, recorded and drew.  Sis and Bud got to see the man in the pit check the soil sample against his field Munsell soil chart to record the "sandy loam" or "loamy sand" or whatever on the locus sheet where he would make notes about finds and features and also later draw the trench level before moving on to the last level of habitation (the terminus--old sand--which he was just reaching as we left).  He also hacked away at an obstructive tree root with a machete.  From the pit, which was about 4 1/2' deep and about 6 x 4' in size with old water pipes and a tree root, the rocky soil (so common in CT, they said) was put in a bucket and then sifted on a screen for archaeologists to look for the small finds.  Another archaeologist let us watch her sort and showed the kids a bit of everything she found, mainly shells (they ate a lot of oysters and clams), bones (one from a cow while we were there), and some redware. She described how the calcium-rich shells often helped preserve the more delicate artifacts which would otherwise decay in our acidic soil. She also pulled out some earlier finds, proudly showing the kids a rare large fragment of handpainted-with-blue-stars Delftware, which she said was often too delicate to find more than tiny pieces of (I'd say the two fragments made up more than half a dish/saucer shape).  She mentioned that they had found a large milk pan, for cooling milk before making butter, the day before.  And a small doll's head.   We asked her what the most exciting find she'd ever uncovered was and she said, from a dig in Europe, a Neanderthal's stone tool.   She also likes the Native American artifacts she's uncovered in New England, amazed at how beautiful they can make stone for simple tools.  


After she sorted the dirt and placed the finds in small bags, labeled with the trench quadrant location, she actually poured clean dirt back in the bag.  Sis asked, "If you just sifted it, why did you put dirt back in the bag?"  Good question, the archaeologist replied, noting that the dirt actually protects the fragments during transportation and storage before cleaning.  They also use the sifted dirt to back fill the site, after lining it with plastic, so they know where they've dug.  Then back at the office, after the artifacts are washed and recorded, and the locus sheets (which they have, "because," she said, "we'll forget by Monday!") are compiled, the archaeologists write a report for us so we know what they found and what it might mean.  She said that archaeologists are schooled in lots of disciplines--history, art (and drawing skills!), math, science--combined with strength and endurance and a love of the outdoors.


"I want to be an archaeologist," Sis proclaimed excitedly, inspired by the visit.  Which is absolutely why we were late to school this morning!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Right Now

Gone letterboxing.....


Mothers' Tea

"You go rest, Mommy, and we'll make everything!" Bud declared as we unloaded groceries for our planned Mothers' Day tea.  Touched, amused, and a little fearful of the outcome, we assured Bud and Sis that they would put together the sandwiches and such while we just hung back putting away the groceries and unloading the dishwasher.  Of course, we eventually helped, especially after we noticed that Bud likes LOTS of jelly on sandwiches, and was eating one for every one he made.

And it all turned out wonderfully.  Marmalade, blueberry jam, watercress, cucumber, ham and cheese sandwiches cut into triangles and fingers.  Cheddar cheese and pickle on crackers.  Kippers.  And a beautiful almond-raspberry trifle for dessert, complete with Bird's custard.  And, of course, tea.  Best of all, we ate it at a table not in a bed or couch like last year.  And it was different, better even, to have the kids so actively involved in the planning and execution instead of as helpful bystanders.

Every year is the best mothers' day yet.

Wild Life

This morning we had a visitor:  a raccoon was outside by our garage when we went out to meet the bus.  The kids were thrilled, even as it ran away with its bouncy gait.  I don't think they'd ever seen one in its "natural" habitat and got on the bus excitedly discussing it.  And thankfully it didn't get into the garbage cans . . . .

Back to It

Mama is back to work today, part-time, having gotten a handle on pain with meds and time and built up the stamina to drive to work and stay there for a few hours.  It's oddly quiet at home.  And I'm sure she's busy and stressful at work.  But it's a good thing.  Yay, Mama, we're proud of you!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quiet

Feeling quiet over here.  Lots of posts in my head but not time, energy, or enthusiasm to post.


A Belated Mother's Day Prayer


This is the kind of God I could worship: 
a heavenly Mother who prefers 
imitation to adoration, 
and who sees in all Creation 
the indivisible smiles of Her children.
Our Mother, Holy Wisdom, draws one breath
and even we who are miles away
are warmed by the glory of Her inspiration.
Our Mother, Holy Wisdom, reaches out
and even we locked-up against ourselves
are immersed in the blessing of Her embrace.
This Earth is Her body,
and we, children of the Earth,
are Her children.
It really is as simple as that.
Let us honor our Holy Mother
by loving our bodies made in Her image,
by loving one another as she has loved us,
by loving this Earth, our beautiful and eternal home.
Amen.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Right Now

Watching the new Sherlock Holmes, lovin' it.

More on Mother's Day,  etc., later.  Hope you had a good one!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Word Hungry

Scrabble is our new family-favorite game.  We started with Scrabble Junior, with word suggestions on the side and on the board but now we play on a regular adult board without any vocabulary aid.  And the kids are doing really well!  We don't keep score, though, to keep down the competition and rivalry.

Continuing this wordplay, Mama has been making word scrambles for the kids' lunchboxes using their favorite books, movies, and toys (on the days I don't send jokes or poems).  Scrambles like "ehx ugsb" and "oornd" and "eneuq niolcar."  The kids love it.  Their favorite?  "ygfrofrind" (see below for answers)

Now, Mama is totally hooked on crossword puzzles, having discovered an iPad app (she uses Across Lite to find NYTimes archived puzzles).  She even had Sis helping her with clues today!  It's been fun doing the puzzles together, during quiet moments--and we get a good laugh over clues we can't decipher and excited when we figure out a trick (like today's puzzle that had a My Fair Lady theme and dropped the "h"s from  several words).  We're just learning the various crossword peculiarities.

Though I'm sure it's been there from the beginning (the beginning of Mama's and my relationship, even, and going back before that to our own academic-focused childhoods), it's more clear as the kids grow older that we're a word-based, I guess you'd say a verbal ("literary" is too pretentious sounding) family.  We're not a sporty family, neither really watching nor participating.  We're not an exceptionally musical family, liking to sing or listen but not having the skills (yet) to really play.  Instead, we read, we talk, and we write.   Sure it's not all we do (there's kung fu, crafting, baking, gardening, museums, history, traveling . . . but even most of those are relatively cerebral, as my pilates coach puts it), but we do manage to see and do things from that perspective more often.  Interested in basketball? Get a book from the library!  Like to draw dragons?  Let's make a dragon picture book with a story!  Enjoy birdwatching?  Keep a bird log!  Like the movie How to Train Your Dragon?  Read the book!  And then read a book about Norse mythology!  And we even got a book about the movie!

I mean, even this blog . . . apples don't fall far from the tree, of course, but it's become that much more obvious recently (now that they can read and write, though maybe that's the reason it's so prevalent now, as they learn and practice those skills).  And I'm not complaining--language arts skills will help them in school and with any kind of communications personally and professionally; plus there is enormous pleasure and inspiration that can be derived from reading, writing, and discussing.  It's how Mama and I operate.  But the challenge will be, as parents, to encourage that aspect of our family while also exploring other avenues, so that maybe someday sports or music won't be as much of a stretch for the kids as it is for me.

-=-=-=-=-=-
(hex bugs, Droon, Queen Clarion, and Gryffindor!)

Right Now

Watching Wizard of Oz with Sis, whose fever has abated leaving just fatigue.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Right Now

Watching Cats with Sis, who has another fever.

YAY!

Obama supports same-sex marriage!

Appreciating Teachers

It's Teacher Appreciation Week, the one week a year America appreciates its teachers. 


Seems wrong somehow, no?  Like how you only show your love for loved ones on Valentine's Day.


I won't get on my soapbox here about the under-appreciation (pay/support/respect) of teachers here.  


Instead, in baking brownies for the teacher lunch at school today, I'm sending along virtual brownies to all of my favorite teachers here.  


Please know that I appreciate you all year long!


-=-=-=-=-=-


My Favorite Brownies

Makes 24 brownies

One 12 oz. package (2 cups) Semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
½ cup butter
3 eggs
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)

In large, heavy saucepan over low heat, melt 1 cup chocolate chips and butter (for best results, melt butter then add chocolate chips and melt—prevents chocolate sticking to saucepan); stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Add eggs; stir well. Add flour sugar, baking soda, and vanilla; stir well. Stir in remaining (unmelted) chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Spread into greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 18-22 minutes or until set. Cool completely. Cut into 2-inch squares.

Nestle chocolate chip bag

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thank You

 . . . for Max and the Wild Things and sharing your gifts with us, Maurice Sendak!   Let the wild rumpus continue . . . .

Monday, May 7, 2012

April Showers

Bring May allergies . . . or maybe it's a cold.  Either way, I'm congested with a sore throat and a grumpy temperament.  It's not that bad and otherwise things are as well as can be expected . . . .it reminds me of a reading in church yesterday:


When Life Is Messy
by Richard Gilbert

It is easy to pray when the sun shines
And we are grateful for another glorious day of being.
It is hard to pray when wind and rain and thunder
Plague our every step and spoil our every plan.

It is easy to be virtuous when life goes well
And our existence is a journey from bliss to beauty and back.
It is hard to be virtuous when life assaults us
And our very being is a pilgrimage from bad to worse to worst.

It is easy to be cheerful when health bursts in us
So that we can feel the very pulse of life.
It is hard to be happy when pain and fatigue beset us
And we wonder if we can go on.

It is easy to do good when our goodness is rewarded
And we feel the power of pride in accomplishment.
It is hard to do good when we suffer for our efforts
And are troubled because we have been misunderstood.

It is easy to feel religious impulses well up inside us
When inspiration lives at our elbow and walks on our path.
It is hard to feel religious when we are tired with work to be done
And discouragement seems to mark our every move.

O God of order and neatness, we give thanks for all that is good.
We are grateful for manifold blessings bestowed upon us.
O God of chaos and disorder, be with us also when life is messy.
Bless our coming in and our going out from this day forth.

Source: In the Holy Quiet of This Hour: A Meditation Manual, Boston: Skinner House Books, 1995

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Right Now

Remembering it's my fourth anniversary if going vegetarian....

Not MOT

I feel like I've graduated from a club and become an alumna--in the Mother of Twins club.  Of course, I still have the twins, but it's not obvious anymore.  Because they aren't in front of me in a double stroller or beside me one in each hand.  It's odd.   People can converse with me, even know me some, without realizing that my daughter and son are twins.  And not just because the kids are usually in school and not with me during outings.  People can even see us all together and never guess, even though the kiddos are almost the same height and weight and clearly not nine months or more apart.

So it's odd not to be the mom with twins anymore (though, I think I still stick out as the white lesbian with a Chinese wife and biracial kids!).  No one has said, "Oh, double trouble!" or the even more ubiquitous, "I'm glad I don't have twins!" to me in such a long time.  I still get, "Ah, the perfect family--a boy and a girl!" but not because they're twins (funny how so many people think that a boy and a girl is perfect.  I just can't agree.  I think family can come in many shapes, sizes, and genders, with or without kids).  In fact, the question I field most often now is "Oh, are they twins?"

Even if their twin-ness is not so readily apparent anymore, Sis and Bud are still very much twins.  They are almost inseparable, even when they are fighting.  When they do different activities, they still keep tabs on exactly where their sibling is and what their twin is up to.  They are usually content to be alone together without other playmates.  They can't imagine not being in the same class or the same bedroom.  And when they are apart--for Girl Scouts, kung fu, separate birthday parties--they generally have a moment or two of thinking of their twin, asking questions, wanting to share.

I meet adults who are twins and always find myself looking for the other one even though I intellectually know that twins do go their separate ways, and rightly so.  It just seems odd to have just one twin, counter-intuitive when mine are still very much a pair.  Because even though I'm not so clearly a MOT, they are still very much twins to me and to each other.

Right Now

Bud just earned his next belt in kung fu!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Multi-Culti

Today was a worldly day for the Hungry family.  Mama and I had lunch from a newly-opened Jamaican restaurant, trying a whole new cuisine (thought Mama knew the Golden Krust patties from childhood).  We enjoyed the red peas (kidney beans) and rice with a coconutty flavor, pigeon peas and rice, peppery cabbage and carrots, fried plantains, salt fish and ackee (a fruit), callaloo and salt fish, bammy (fried cassava root), jerk chicken pattie, mild beef pattie, vegetable pattie, "peanut punch," very gingery pineapple juice, and coconut water.  Plus tastes of sweet potato pie and bread pudding and a dark, sticky "spice bun" bread to bring home.  Mmmm, we'll go again and I definitely recommend it.  But you've got to like pepper if you're going to eat more than peas and rice and plantains!  And if you're adventuresome, there's oxtail soup and curried goat head soup!  Coincidentally, I picked up right before lunch a Vegetarian Times special edition on global food that contained Jamaican recipes (plus all of the usual veg locales--Egypt, China, Japan--but also Greece, and more.)

This evening was multicultural night at school, with teachers and parents presenting activities and crafts from a variety of nations.  The kids had spent a lot of time preparing--Sis and Bud's classroom celebrated China (at least the door did, as it wasn't an activity center) and Sis and Bud contributed some of our decorations; they made flags of their heritage for the cafeteria (Bud chose Chinese and Sis chose . . . French?!   I mean, she is, in part, but it seemed an unlikely choice . . . until she admitted it was the easiest of the flags I'd shown her!); they also decorated the hall with windsocks based on different flags--their class did Mexico.  I think between the two kids, we managed to visit every country in two hours.  We started in Africa, where they played Djembe drums, copying the beat of the main drummer and two of her students.  They played a drum version of "hot potato" which deteriorated quickly and humorously.  Bud practiced step dancing in Ireland while Sis and I had her hand henna-ed in Pakistan.  From there, she made a toilet-paper-tube Phoenix in Greece, which was challenging with her dominant left hand covered in henna goo, while Bud made a paper blossoming cherry tree in Japan.  Deciding against "making a chicken" in Greece, Bud then Zumba-ed happily (he really loves to dance, while Sis skipped both of those) in Colombia and Sis made pasta necklaces in Italy after listening to Strega Nona.  For the USA, Sis helped make care packages for a local charity.  We also sampled world cuisine, which for me mainly consisted of eating flan homemade by the mother of their classmate.  There was also a young man demonstrating Korean martial arts, specifically Tang Soo Do, with a sword and a staff, which Bud studied with interest before explaining his own kung fu experiences (he was still in his uniform because he had class this evening).  I'm so glad their school offers this celebration of cultures representing the diversity of the student population (especially after yesterday's "Chinese, Japanese" incident); it's one of our favorite school events.

And then we went home and rushed to bed--after reading about some English mice in Tumtum and Nutmeg--so that Bud could rest up before his kung fu belt test tomorrow.

Light in the Darkness

Yesterday at Daisies, we hand-rolled beeswax candles for Mother's Day presents.  The girls really enjoyed picking their moms' favorite colors, rolling the candles, and putting together the decorative cards.  Sis chose purple for me and green for Mama, but I wasn't supposed to be watching!

But as we were enjoying our craft, I saw one little girl standing before the others and pulling at the corners of her eyes, "Chinese, Japanese . . ." and I knew where she was going.  An old rhyme from childhood, that ended with the speaker pulling up her skirt and showing her underwear, but not before slanting her eyes up and down.  "Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these!"

I hurried over to the other side of the room, thankful that Sis was nowhere nearby, and sat the girls down for a talk.  I told them that rhymes like that could hurt people's feelings because it made fun of them and the way they looked.  I knew they didn't want to do that--I'm not sure they even realized what was wrong with pulling up and down on your eyes with a singsong verse.  And I wasn't about to talk about racism and prejudice particularly; I just wanted them to be more sensitive and compassionate.  They of course denied saying anything of the sort, as kids would, and then said they didn't even know that Sis was Chinese.  And then they seemed to feel bad.

On the way home, I had to talk to Sis about it because if girls are reciting this in Daisies, no doubt it's spreading around school.  I remember it going around my school when I was about that age . . . and we didn't know it was insensitive and hurtful; racism never occurred to us.  Sis hadn't heard of the rhyme and wasn't sure what it even meant.  We talked about the inherent worth and dignity of everybody and how talking about how people look or act or where they come from isn't respectful.   We talked about what to do if people said such things that hurt her feelings, how she could say that wasn't nice or appropriate, walk away, and then tell an adult.  As they always do, Sis nodded in understanding, and probably in some boredom, as did Bud when I repeated it all to him later.

I knew such things would eventually rear their ugly heads.  Teasing, mocking, insults, tinged with racism, sexism, sizism, homophobia, are common on American playgrounds.  I'm glad I got to talk to the kids before it was directed at them, though no doubt when the time comes it will still be painful.  For now, they are mostly innocent of it all, untouched by some of the ugliness in our world.

Just like her candles, to paraphrase Willy Wonka, so shines a bright light in a weary world . . . .

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Veg Pledge: The End

Our pledge to be vegetarians ended last weekend with a return to chicken and ham and the like.  But the kids didn't run from vegetarianism screaming.  They even decided that we should spend more meals meat-free, with a special vegetable of the week that we try in a few ways. I realize I have to make more sides for their lunchboxes and for dinner, more fruits and vegetables than we already have to augment the meal.  I had found a few more dishes--baked potatoes, Sumi slaw--the kids would eat.  I did like that we were all eating the same thing, even with all the cheese, and I miss that simplicity and synchronicity.  But, with a few more nights a week of veg, we'll have more of that.  So, I'd say it was a successful week!

More Good Reads (Pre-K to K)

Not wanting to leave out the youngest listeners and readers (see here for my K-2 list), I have quickly (i.e. no authors, no alphabetizing)  compiled a list of the main books we read to and with Sis and Bud when they were toddlers and preschoolers.  This is for you, Cousin Hungry!

The * marks my very favorites.

Wordless Books
Black and White
White and Black
Goodnight, Gorilla
Byron Barton books (Planes, Trains, Boats)
*Flotsam

Classics
Goodnight, Moon
Runaway Bunny
The Big Red Barn
*The Little House
Dr. Seuss
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel
Katy and the Big Snow
Each Pear, Each Plum
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
The Snowy Day
Eric Carle books
The Little Engine That Could
Make Way for Ducklings
*Miss Rumphius
Velveteen Rabbit (abridged)
Ferdinand
Leo Leonini books
Paddington
Winnie the Pooh
Peter Rabbit
Corduroy
Tasha Tudor books


New Classics
*If You Give a Cat a Cupcake series
*Bear Snores On series
*Ladybug Girl series
Pinkalicious (but not the others)
How Do Dinosaurs Go to Sleep? series
*Kevin Henkes books (Kitten's First Full Moon, The Old Bear, My  Garden,Chrysanthemum, Owen, Wemberley, plus all the Lily books)
Guess How Much I Love You?
Todd Parr books (The Family Book) The Napping House
Click, Clack Moo
*Tomie de Paolo (Legend of the Bluebonnet, Clown of God)
Mama, Mama Red Pajama

Humorous
*Jamberry
Duck in a Truck
Sheep in a Jeep series
*Tumble Bumble
*many Sandra Boynton books (Barnyard Dance, The Going to Bed Book)
*Mo Willems's Elephant and Piggie series
Olivia
Duck! Rabbit!
Pirates Don't Change Diapers
Skippy Jon Jones
The Day the Babies Crawled Away
(Star Pets?)

Good Gifts for Parents
*Someday
*All the World
*On the Day You Were Born
*Everywhere Babies
Mother Goose, Aesop's Fables

Miscellaneous
*Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep
Tell Me What It's Like to be Big
*Wish Come True Cat
*Imagine (by Alison Lester)
*A Penguin Story
Not a Box
I Love You More
*I Love You, Stinky Face
Jan Brett books (esp. Berlioz)
Jungle Drums
*A Bad Case of Stripes
The Cat Who Walked Across France
Ugly Ogre and other Jack Prelutsky poetry
*Adventures of Little Bear
The Magic Horse of Han Gan
Hurry Up and Slow Down
Raising Dragons
The Littlest Owl
Where's My Teddy?
*And the Good Brown Earth
*Grandfather Twilight
I Love My Mommy Because
Grandfather Twilight
Grandfather's Poems of the Earth
Dinostory
Thanks to the Animals
Time for Bed
Mem Fox books
*Hush!
Karen Katz books
Everyone Poops
Good Morning and Good Night "Quacky Duck" (can't find it, don't recall exact title)
Ten Wishing Stars
Good Night, New York/Chicago/Boston/Washington, DC
Sailor Dog



In the Papers

Of all the articles I've read this last week or so--from election op-eds to the blind Chinese lawyer's changing circumstances to the ones below--the one that touched me the most was about the death of a baby with a terminal illness and the bucket list her parents helped her achieve before the end.  To learn more about Avery, her parents, and SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy), please visit her blog.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Twinsies!

Mama has torn her L5/SI1 and has a protrusion in her L4/5, according to her doctor and the MRI.

She even got a lift in her right shoe because that leg is shorter.

She'll be on a course of steroids and might have a spinal injection in a few weeks.  And she has PT.

Let's just hope she doesn't become allergic to NSAIDs, too!

We didn't realize that, along with women synching up* their menstrual cycles, it can happen with musco-skeletal issues too!

The kids think it's funny that their moms are now like twins, too.


*It's an urban myth and such synchronicity really only works in large populations of women living closely together--prisons, the army, convents, sororities--not every lesbian couple.

Daisy Doings

I don't blog much about Daisies, though I'm not sure why.  Well, one reason is I'm in no way a model Girl Scout leader and there are many sites out there that can better demonstrate how it's done.  Another is I don't really want to write about other people's children here much and so a discussion of our meetings would be very dry.  So, like last year, I thought I'd summarize what we've done this year by listing the patches we earned (it's all rather casual for patches, while badges have stricter requirements and are official, being worn on the front of tunics instead of just the back).  Of course, there's more to it than our list of fun patches below--like spilling popcorn on the floor at snack, playing in the bathrooms by trying to crawl into each other's stalls, singing at the top of their strong lungs as we march down the school hallways, playing "Jump Jack Jones" or whatever it's called over and over and over again, scurrying to locate coats and bags in the huge pile at the end of the meeting, all volunteering to start the GS promise, proudly distributing the snacks and drinks they bring, dressing up for our holiday Nutcracker party, and so much more . . . . I'm looking forward to Brownies next year!

Fun Patches:

  • flag ceremony--learned how to conduct Girl Scout flag ceremony
  • yoga--learned several poses and played Yoga Garden game
  • arts and crafts--decorated the local library with our wonderful owl paintings
  • baking--made candy for teachers and staff during winter holidays
  • community service--visited to the senior living center
  • hiking--went letterboxing in nearby park
  • pumpkin picking--farm tour, pumpkin picking, and hayride
  • horseback riding--stable tour with grooming lesson and horseback riding
  • science and nature--bird sanctuary tour
  • yarn crafts--paper-plate weaving at historic colonial house



Poetry Jam: Jammin' at School

I was invited to read poetry at school today, even though poetry month ended yesterday.  The class was amazing--attentive and engaged through 25 whole minutes of verse!  Choosing from the Random House Book of Poetry for Children and The 20th-Century Children's Poetry Treasury, I started with rain poems because it's raining here today (we've already gotten more than an inch, which is a lot for us), then did some spring poems and one about the wind.  And back to rain.  I did a few about school, particularly recess, and ended with several from Jack Prelutsky's Awful Ogre Running Wild.  I gave out Dr. Seuss bookmarks for everyone and topped the whole thing with lunch with Mama and the kids in the cafeteria.

Fun Foodways

As part of our celebration of my first historic house tour, and just as something we'd been meaning to try, we cooked our way through many of the Colonial Williamsburg foodstuffs I received for Christmas.  We made Spoon Bread on Friday evening but were disappointed with the results, as the eggs separated--I either over or under beat the eggs or over or underheated the milk.  We'll try it again because I like the idea of a souffle-like cornbread.  On Saturday, we made Sally Lunn bread, oddly enough in a bundt pan, which we enjoyed with jam and later as Welsh rabbit.  Sis and Bud actually like the tang of the mustardy cheese sauce.  And then on Sunday, we literally whipped up some syllabub, a popular 18th-century boozy dessert/drink for which they even had special two-handled cups for sharing around (it was very common then for people to share drinks that way).  Tradition has it that the dairy maid would take the large punch bowl out to the barn and milk the cow right into the syllabub, making it both warm and frothy. We made the non-alcoholic version, but even so the kids didn't like it much. Next time, we'll just use wine and sherry.  Finally, yesterday, Mama and I had porridge for breakfast, made of white and yellow grits, wheat, and rice.  Now that's filling food!  And actually pretty good with honey or brown sugar (alas, we didn't like the traditional molasses as much; and it being a Southern dish, we didn't even think of maple syrup!).   Otherwise, we've been using our historic mushroom ketchup off and on for weeks--it's good on faux meatloaf and potatoes--think mushroomy Worchestershire sauce.  I think we still have a few mixes--for sweet potato muffins and apple spice cake--but those seem less unusual that the others and so not as interesting for now.   It was a fun exploration for the weekend--I'm just glad I had an electric stove and oven in which to cook the meals, unlike our colonial forebears.

-=-=-=-=-=-
Welsh Rabbit, or Rarebit


8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
3 tablespoons ale or milk
1 teaspoon prepared mustard (or Coleman's powder made into 1 teaspoon mustard)
4 slices of toast (doesn't have to be Sally Lunn bread, just any sliced loaf)
Worchestershire sauce to taste

Melt cheese with ale or milk and mustard over stove.  Pour over four slices of toast on an edged baking sheet.  Broil until brown and bubbly.  Remove to plates and score tops and drizzle Worchestershire sauce (without scoring, it just rolls off).  Eat immediately.

Mama Hungry

Feathered "Family"

First penguins, now swans!

Check out the lesbian swans in Boston's Public Garden.

My First Tour

More than a year in the making and then waiting, I finally gave my first costumed historic house tour on Friday! It was like redemption or finally catching up to where I left off last spring (similarly, we're trying to reschedule the things that were canceled that we can re-do, like our trip to Plymouth).

And it was marvelous!

I was nervous beforehand.  I haven't given a tour since November 2004, a long time ago (though I did it weekly, and sometimes daily, from June 1998 until then).  And never in a house, or in a costume.  Sure, I helped write the tour and have been researching the colonial period since January 2011, but leading a tour is something different altogether.

Thank heavens for adrenaline.

Not only did I enjoy the tour, but I think it went well.  I remembered all of the facts, hit the transitions, managed interactive questions, and kept the discussion going.  They paid attention and there were no discipline issues (that can be so, so common with 5th-grade tours!).  And I think they enjoyed it, from the stories about slaves and Native Americans to the discussion of the archaeological excavations that tell us about life in the 18th century.

And I got to do it all in a costume!  Chemise, underskirt, gathered overskirt, English bodice, apron, gathered cap, even pockets tied around my waist.  Which contained my smartphone!  Other major anachronism:  I had my fancy tennis shoes on.

But they got me through the morning with no spasms or serious weakness, which was a major achievement.  Even a month ago giving the same tour to the docents, I almost didn't finish.

I hope I get to do another tour soon.

Especially because my favorite costumer has new bodices and flounced skirts in their catalog!

Poetry Jam: I am a Poet

Well, perhaps "poet" is going a bit too far.  Let's just say I wrote some verse this month for the kids' lunchboxes.  And, as we wrap up National Poetry Month, I thought I'd post them, for posterity, not including the acrostics I did with their names.  Good verse is harder than it looks.

haiku
Penguins on the ice
sliding down, swimming freely.
Antarctica rocks!

Bunny underground,
sleeping in her burrow home,
dreaming of carrots.

diamante
Strawberries
red, sweet
growing under leaves
good with creamy yogurt.
Delicious!

Chocolate
dark, sweet
makes me smile
best in homemade cookies.
Yum!

And the ever-traditional,

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You are our Bud/Sis
and we love you!