Oct 30, 2006

The Invasion of the Bank Mystery, by Will

Will dictated this to me a couple weeks ago. I love the irrepressible optimism of these two guys. Possibly at the beginning/end of Ch. 2 they are are a bit discouraged, but they'll rally. You can tell how Will feels about the possibilities presented by commuter trains

Once upon a time, there were two mysterious kids named Afeymus and Sam. And they were looking for this weird guy who was pretending to be Ron Roy. The boys went to him and said,"I think there's someone who's pretending to be you. Let's tell the police that."
"OK," said Sam and Afeymus.
They went to the Swarthmore Police Station. The police said, "That's easy. Check Room 305 at the Media Inn."
The Media lobby owner said, "Check Room 6010. He's eating lunch right now."
"That's easy," said Sam and Afeymus. They went to the lunchroom, but when they went there, there were no people there.
"Let's go back to the lobby to see if this is the right inn," said Sam.
"Great idea," said Afeymus.
When they went there, they looked at the sign that said what inn it was. It said "Elwyn Inn."
"Oh, no! We're at the wrong inn! Let's dash on the train to go to Media."
"What train?" said Afeymus.
"The R3 train," said Sam.
"You mean the one that goes all the way to New Jersey?" said Afeymus.
"Yes," said Sam.
"That's easy to get on the R3 train. We can just go all the way to New Jersey," said Afeymus.
"Actually, we have to go to Media," said Sam.
Afeymus said, "Actually, we could go to Wallingford."
"Good plan," said Sam.
"Let's grab the R3 train, quick," said Afeymus.
"Zoom to the Elwyn stop in your fire car," said Sam.
"OK," said Afeymus.
They zoomed in the fire car all the way to New Jersey. They went to the New Jersey stop. When they got off they said,"Hey! This looks familiar. Oh, no, we're in Swarthmore."

Chapter Two

"We've got to go back on the R3 train to go to Wallingford."
"That takes a long time," said Afeymus.

Oct 27, 2006

Rules to Live By

We have been having "Family Meetings" the last two Sundays, and we hope to make this a routine. The kids get to request some meals and activities, and everyone suggests new habits to get into, or old habits to break.

This past week have been working on a habit from last week which has not seen much improvement:

Don't put it down, put it away.

This week the emphasis is on:

When Mommy or Daddy tells you to do something, do it the FIRST time they say it. So now instead of repeating it, we say "I'm not going to repeat that" over and over.

And from Will, derived from recent experience:

Ask permission before doing experiments.

Don't lick syrup off the plate.

Oct 25, 2006

The Story of the First Thanksgiving, and a Few Others

I just wrote this for the Delaware County Mothers & More newsletter.

Thanksgiving is a big holiday in our family. This year, Jack’s birthday falls on it, and Will’s a week later. After Jack’s birth, Thanksgiving dinner was the first solid meal I had after my C-section. And, in case you had any doubt, a holiday dinner in the hospital is about as solid as it gets. That gluey stuffing made almost made me yearn again for broth and Jell-O.

For our family, Thanksgiving and birthdays are the same extended holiday, a festival of thanks. So far the boys have always agreed to share a birthday celebration, to consolidate the party spirit and save Mommy and Daddy’s wits. One year my brother Dan cooked and brought the turkey, and will do it again this year. Dan and I are both control freaks in the kitchen so I have learned to delegate a dish completely to him and have him cook it at his own house.

We pull out all the stops and polish my grandmother’s silver and rinse off my mother’s china. I get out a delicate ivory linen tablecloth that my grandmother used. Instead of ironing the tablecloth like Nana did, I spritz it all over with water and put it in the dryer for ten minutes. This was my own idea and I’m sure it’s heresy, but only Martha Stewart’s staff would ever iron a large linen tablecloth these days.

One year, I made up a binder and labeled it “Holidays.” I felt sort of silly doing it, but I was tired of reinventing the wheel every year. I save my to-do lists from the previous year and the notes I have added, as well as recipes that have been successful and new ones I want to try. Breaking open that binder in November every year is strangely rewarding. It makes it so much easier to get started. Last year my in-laws were here and they love to be put to work, so together we washed china and linens, polished silver, vacuumed, and shopped. The hum of activity was somehow rejuvenating, as was the scent of cranberry sauce cooking and pumpkin pie baking. I leave you with the recipe for my family’s favorite cranberry sauce, simple and delicious. Let us give thanks.

Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
12-oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries (3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
Bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries just pop, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in zest, then cool.
Cooks’ note:
• Cranberry sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Oct 24, 2006

Where Does a Blog Go When It is Deleted?

Such was the metaphysical question I was asking myself yesterday when I realized that, instead of deleting a test blog that I decided not to use, I had deleted Dream Kitchen, my baby. Since I had always heard that deleting computer files doesn't really delete them,I figured there was some way the Blogger Powers That Be could help me. And they did, or in this case someone named Danish (DA-nish? Da-NISH?) from "The Blogger Team." Thank you Danish! And within an hour, too.

Apparently while my blog was . . . wherever blogs go when they are deleted. . . the URL was redirecting readers to some p*rn site. Some of my friends were amused. Guess these dastardly denizens of the internet squat in newly abandoned URLs, rubbing their hands with glee and beckoning to the innocent. Another strange thing is that Sitemeter was reporting, during this same span of time, that several people found my blog, or I guess the p*rn site, through a Google search for "Lauren Dream Kitchen," or "Dream Kitchen Lauren," etc. I ask you, what does it mean?

Anyway, whatever it means, three cheers for Danish, my new friend, and the resurrection of Dream Kitchen from . . . limbo? Death? A black hole?

Oct 20, 2006

Special Halloween Update! Ha.

(First: Thanks for the birthday wishes. There was no wait at ALL at PennDOT, and the lady was extremely nice. I seem to be the one with the poor attitude!)

I've been really busy lately sewing up some original, durable, wholesome costumes for the boys. . . . Come on. Do you really think I would do that? Do you really think I could do that? Back in what we used to call "Junior High" I took sewing and made a white, yellow, and pink striped wraparound miniskirt that I was ashamed to be seen in. Think about the precariousness of a wraparound miniskirt for just a second. Oh well, it looked good on an adolescent Susan Dey on the pattern envelope. After that and a "Stretch-N-Sew" class that my Nana took me to when I was 14, my sewing ventures were over.

And without sewing, it's hard to make a decent costume that holds up well through not just trick-or-treating but also a grade school parade. This parade is a longstanding tradition at Jack's school. Most first grade boys, and Jack is no exception, don't want to be wearing some loser homemade costume. He wants to fit in. He wants his friends to recognize his "character." Today he will go in to school and proudly announce that he will be a Scorpion Ninja. He has never seen whatever show or movie actually has Scorpion Ninjas, but no matter. It's some sort of cultural icon that has currency amongst boys. And Will? He would probably be fine wearing the women's dress-up clothes that Grammy got him last year for his birthday, but he is even more fine, and much more "awesome," not to say mobile, in his Green Power Ranger costume.

Since Halloween is Halloween, and not a secularization of any Christian holiday that means much to us at this point in history, why not let the kids run around in the costumes they like, and gather some candy to be meted out over the months as rewards until they forget about it? Of course Mom gets her cut: as many Reese's Cups as she can get away with, and a few Snickers too. Then we let the boys wear the costumes the rest of the year when they're in dress-up mode.

And a bonus for local readers: Does anyone want a size 6 Batman or a size 4 Darth Vader?

Oct 16, 2006

Whew. What a Week.

Last week was just one of those weeks in which many obligations converged. But I did everything. Here the things I did:

-Went with Will to the Franklin Institute
-Baked butterscotch brownies for my church fair
-Worked at the church fair
-Wrote an article for a Montessori newsletter on "21st Century Skills"
-Researched Verizon grants for the local literacy center
-Skimmed a chapter of Karen Armstrong's The Great Transformation for my Friday book group
-Went to book group
-Turned in a Gifted IEP request for Jack
-Volunteered in Jack's class for "Word Rings"
-Met with Will's teachers
-Cooked dinner, did laundry, made lunches, bla bla bla

Everything went very well. I will be glad to discourse at length about almost all of the above on request.

Meanwhile, on to more important topics . . . . Today. Is. My. BIRTHDAY!!!! And I need to go, right now, and I mean right now, to get the new picture on my license, because if I don't then I'll be an illegal driver tomorrow. And I read in PennDOT's literature that "PennDOT recently enhanced its policies . . . to reduce identity fraud." In the next paragraph, and this is the part that causes me to tremble, "Because these requirements have changed, you may at times experience additional wait times at our Driver License Centers." Translation: You will wait longer than you already had to, believe it or not, only this time the employees will be even more crabby. Happy birthday to me.

Oct 8, 2006

A Song about Church, by Will and Jack

The boys jointly made up this song and sang it over and over, holding hands, walking to church today.

Church, church,we're on our way.
We're not too sleepy and we're not too evil
To help Mr. God and save the day.

Yay, God.

Oct 5, 2006

Divide and Conquer: A Strategy for Taking Boys to Museums

The public schools had off for Yom Kippur, so I took Jack on Monday to the Please Touch Museum, at his request. He has been begging to go, although I thought he was a little old for it. And yes, he was a little old for it. Little planes moving slowly on a track in the air? Bo-ring. Playing with plastic boats in water while wearing a too-small smock? Please. At least we got to ride the trolley and subway, which we enjoyed. We took that instead of regional rail, because we could park near Will's school and easily pick him up later in the afternoon, and take him to an appointment. Jack and I waited for him in the local Borders. I had forgotten to bring my book, Devil in the White City, so I got Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin, which I have been meaning to read ever since she died in 1992. I bought two more Captain Underpants tomes for Jack. I drank coffee and he had water and we sat there quietly reading. For an hour.

This Monday, Will has Columbus Day off (These dueling holidays do get annoying!) and he wants to go to the Franklin Institute, a more appropriate place. Plus, we're members, thank you. They have a new exhibit called "Animal Grossology," which he should find appealing. Despite grousing about different holidays, I find it quite wonderful to have this time with each boy separately. We get to have such great conversations. And one boy is about ten times easier to manage than two. Nobody yells. No competition. A minimum of whining. Separate holidays? Bring 'em on.