Friday, April 30, 2010

Black and White

We have a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. in our house. Porter had seemingly never paid any attention to it before, but then the other day he asked me if that man was a president. He has the impression that in order to be president, you need to be a black man. This is totally beside the point, but I think that's pretty cool. Even though he really needs to know that anyone can be president, it really feels like a sign of the times here in America.

Back to the point though, I tried to explain the story of Martin Luther King on a four year old level. The civil rights movement and his life and then his assassination. The whole thing was problematic, and I didn't do a very good job. He didn't understand why in the world people would hate each other like that, and then at the end, he said, "so he was a bad man?" He just assumed that was the only reason anyone would get shot. So I kind of got through it, but in the end it didn't seem like Porter really had any idea what I was talking about.

Yesterday we went to the library, and I found a couple of children's books about this very subject! One of them is even 40 years old (gotta love the library). We've been through them once, and Porter looked a little glazed over at the end. I'm not sure if the books are a tad boring or if maybe he is just too young for civil rights history. I do hate to leave a question unanswered, but I'm also pretty sure he has many years of school (and life) to learn all there is to know.

I'm Cooking: Sesame Chicken, Jasmine Rice & Steamed Broccoli.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Oh Dawson, my first baby. Lover of all things caloric, barker of school buses and pizza delivery men, couch snuggler, floor cleaner, ye of much patience with eye poking and tail pulling, hiking buddy extraordinaire, happy to drop a rung on the totem pole with every new family member, best dog ever. We love you!

I'm Cooking: Kielbasa and Cabbage Soup. Comfort food from the crock pot. Five minutes of prep. Very nice.

Yesterday morning, I made sweet potato pancakes (like regular pancakes with mashed sweet potato in them, not like latkes). The kids ate them, but they had this mushy texture that totally grossed me out. Anyone have a good recipe for getting veggies into pancakes?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Day two of no nap time nursing went well! She still asked for it, but didn't cry when I said no. And went to sleep. I always, always build these things up in my head way too much, and then they end up being not such a big deal.

I'm hardening our vegetable starts this week, hoping to plant them outside this weekend. It's always a little scary here since a frost (or snowfall) could come out of nowhere. But it is 65 degrees today. Woot! This is our third year of vegetable gardening here in the Far North, and I'm excited for the results.

I'm Cooking: Last night I made this Lemon Chicken recipe. I changed it a lot though, adding zucchini with the mushrooms, chicken stock with the wine, and sour cream at the end. I used diced chicken breast, and didn't use the sliced lemons. Anyway, it was good! Served with Baked Brown Rice.

I also made Zucchini Chocolate Cupcakes over the weekend. I used an extra ounce of chocolate, no nuts, and I made my own chocolate butter cream frosting. And I used a lot of zucchini. My kids loved them. They aren't healthy by any means, but if you're going to make chocolate cupcakes, it's nice to sneak some veggies in there too. The zucchini almost completely disappears during the baking process, leaving you with moist, yummy cakes. The recipe makes a lot of cupcakes, but I put my extras in the freezer.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Today I bought milk at the grocery store. I'm done fighting that battle.

This morning Porter and Molly were struggling over a toy. Normally I let them work it out themselves, but it escalated to screaming and throwing, and I had to step in. I talked to Porter about being an older brother and how important it was for him to help his sister grow up. And how there were certain toys that were only his, but most of them he had to share. About half an hour later, he came to me and said he had been thinking about it. And that I was right, and he was going to never be mean to Molly again. I'm not naive enough to think it will last, but he was so good for the rest of the day. It made me hope that they really do listen to me, at least some of the time. And that despite my last post, I'm an okay mom.

A couple of days ago, Bryce asked me if I was all done weaning Molly. Ack. First of all, I guess he's not super observant. But also, I had not even started weaning Molly. I think I talked about it so much that he thought I had done something about it. This week, I am actually starting the weaning process with Molly instead of only talking about it. I just put her down for her nap without nursing for the first time ever (I mean, other people have occasionally put her down for a nap, but never me). Her little face when she realized what was happening almost made me break my resolve. I tried to snuggle her to make up for it, but she just screamed and screamed. I left her in her crib crying, wondering if this was going to work, and by the time I got down the stairs she was asleep. Whew.

I'm Cooking: Over the weekend, I made a roasted pork loin and black-eyed peas with greens. Not really any exciting recipes to report, just basic food, but it was good. I love beans, even if no one else in this house will eat them.

I also made these for lunch. They were great! And a good way to use up leftover rice. I used brown rice, ham, diced zucchini, fresh basil, green onions and cheddar cheese. I think they would be a nice breakfast item too. Molly gobbled them up, Porter not so much (but nothing new there).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mother of the Year Award

Okay, so I was checking my email yesterday, and Porter was behind me yelling "Mom, look at me, Mom, MOM." And I was saying "oh yeah honey, that's great." Not even looking to see what he was talking about. This happens a lot. You know. So then I finally turn around and see...

So we had a talk about plastic bags and why it is not okay to put them on your head. And why it's not funny even when I take a picture of it and laugh a little. It's dangerous!

And then, seriously two minutes later I turn around and see...

We did have another talk about how your little sister copies everything you do. And I clearly need to find a new home for the ziplocs. And Molly looks freaked out in that picture, but she really wasn't. Sigh.

I'm Cooking: Last night we had Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto. I love this recipe, it's easy and a nice change from regular pesto or spaghetti sauce. I find that it makes plenty of sauce for a pound of pasta, even if you add in some meat or veggies. I used some diced chicken breast and broccoli. Make sure you reserve the pasta cooking water, because you will need it!

On Thursday I had to bring a snack to Porter's preschool, and I made these healthy oatmeal cookies. They end up kind of chewy (and are no substitute for real cookies), but the kids ate them up. I added some cracked wheat and used dried cherries and no nuts.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oh, Costco

Let me start off by saying that I really love Costco. There are not a lot of shopping options here, and (in my opinion) Costco is the best place around to buy many, many things including diapers, meat, maple syrup, and even clothes.

But the milk. It is cheap and so I buy it. But why do they not have organic 2%? And why in the world did they design the milk jug so that every single dang time you pour some milk, it spills all over the counter?? I'm about to lose my mind.

I'm Cooking: Last night I made homemade pizza. One pepperoni to please pretty much everyone else, and one BBQ chicken pizza for me! BBQ sauce, baked chicken breast, mozzarella & cheddar cheese, green onions and (a lot of) sun-dried tomatoes. The leftovers were fantastic.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Okay, so I've been more motivated this week for healthy, protein-filled breakfasts. I have really enjoyed it. The kids, not so much. They just don't like eggs a whole lot, and I haven't changed their minds too much yet. I'm going to keep trying, but I may also have to come up with some non-egg ideas.

Anyway, I made some granola yogurt bars that everyone liked. I started with a recipe from this website (a really good source of toddler food ideas). It is still a work in progress (they didn't turn out exactly how I wanted, but were still good), but what I did was this:

Mix together 2 cups of granola (smashing the big pieces), 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/8 cup brown sugar. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until the mixture looked like coarse crumbs. Press half of mixture into a 8x8 inch pan. Spread 1 cup strawberry yogurt over mixture, then sprinkle remaining mix on top. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes. Cool on a rack, then in the fridge, and cut into pieces.

They weren't quite as crispy as I wanted, but they tasted good, and seem like a nice alternative to pre-packaged cereal bars. We had them for breakfast and then snacks the next couple of days.

I also made baked eggs in ham cups (eyed with suspicion but tasted and partly eaten) and scrambled eggs and toast (toast eaten, eggs untouched).

And here are some pictures of the kids, because besides being served eggs, they've been happy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Caitlin

Yesterday was my sister's birthday. I talked to her on the phone, but I wasn't there. She lives in a different state with her own family and her own life, as I do here in the Far North. And it is all for the best, except that I miss her. A lot.

For a few brief years after she graduated from college, we lived in the same town. She was there (I mean, really there) when Porter was born, and she helped me through the first two years of being a new mom. Having family around when you have small children is a luxury that not everyone has (I know this all too well now), and I really appreciated it. She watched Porter once a week while I worked, for free, even when she worked the night shift and got three hours of sleep. She always helped me when I needed it, even at the last minute. And I think that Porter and Caitlin have a unique bond that goes beyond her just being his aunt. Plus, she often came over bearing the coolest children's books and six packs of beer.

Now Caitlin has a baby of her own, and it makes me sad that I'm not around to help and listen and get to know Ava in the same way. Caitlin just gets me in a way that I'm not sure anyone else really does, she shares my seriously exact same sense of humor, loves to sit around at restaurants drinking wine, and I just miss sitting around with her and talking about nothing and everything.

So, happy birthday Caitlin! We all miss you so much. And you are so totally in your late twenties now.

I'm Cooking: Over the weekend, I made Orange and Ginger Chicken and Barley Vegetable Pilaf. I've only ever really made soup with barley before, but this was a really yummy alternative to rice. I had to use more water and time to get my barley to cook enough, and I used zucchini and carrots instead of all root vegetables. Lots of room for improvisation here. But yum. The link to the pilaf includes a chicken recipe too, but I didn't make that part of it.

I have also been making inroads into my breakfast issues. The kids are lukewarm on the whole thing so far. More tomorrow.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Okay, I have to admit that after my last post, I have done nothing about breakfast. I ran out of eggs and motivation and all that. AND, Porter ate fish sticks for lunch yesterday. But I'm getting my act together and starting next week!

Today I went to visit a friend. She is actually Bryce's boss's wife. Her seven grandchildren all live down south, and with no grandparents of our own here, we make a good pair. Her husband has the same kind of schedule that Bryce does, and she offered me a good perspective on reality today that I think I needed to hear. I've been getting very caught up lately in what is good for ME and thinking that meant it was also good for my family. Which, of course, is sometimes the case. But not always. More on this later, but if everyone who has been through it tells me this time with small children goes so fast, I'm thinking I should probably believe it. And quit worrying about what comes after.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I've been thinking about our family's diet lately. We do all right. We hardly ever eat out, and the dinners that I cook usually have fresh vegetables in them.

I think our breakfasts and lunches are lacking though. Both of my kids wake up starving and whiny, and toaster waffles and bagels get on the table fast. Lunch time can also be hurried, and I usually don't have the motivation to actually cook a meal. We do always have fruit on hand, but then I often resort to mac and cheese or PB&J or fish sticks. Not that those are horrible things, but I could totally do better. At least some of the time.

So my current goal is to find some interesting breakfast items I could maybe make ahead of time and freeze. I would especially like to get some protein and maybe even veggies into our morning meal. Carbs and sugar seem to dominate right now. And I need to just get motivated for lunch a couple of times a week. I'll let you know.

I'm Cooking: So, in the spirit of this post, I made stir fry noodles with chicken and carrots for lunch. And it really didn't take all that much longer than mac and cheese. Success #1.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Molly has this onesie that I love. I put her in it all the time as (I think) she looks really good in brown. Plus I've always thought it had this cute Indian look to it. Then Bryce looks at it the other day and says, "well, that's a really Republican shirt." Upon closer examination of the Republican logo, they are not exactly the same. But of course, that is all I can think of whenever I see it now. Thank you Baby Gap. And Bryce.

I'm Cooking: Last night I made a sausage, potato and cauliflower soup that was really just an excuse to use up leftover items of various sorts before my CSA box comes today. I thought it was good! The kids did not eat it.

Monday, April 12, 2010


We had a great weekend here in the Far North, filled with sunshine. As it can rain here for days on end, even in the summer, you have to take advantage when nice weather blows through. We spent Saturday out on the water, sort of fishing, but mostly just relaxing and motoring around.

Porter loved every second of it. I wish he would quit giving me this look when I ask him to smile, but he was happy.

Molly is a trooper, considering she has to spend much of her time here...

We even caught some Dungeness crab, which was exciting and delicious for all involved.

I'm Cooking: So, besides eating crab and lots of salad and potato chips this weekend, we also had Cornmeal Fried Fish, Braised Greens and Biscuits. This meal just says summer to me.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Fearless One

When Porter was about 16 months old, we took a trip to Minneapolis to meet some friends. One day, we all went to the amazing Children's Museum downtown. They had a big slide there, the kind where you have to walk up a lot of steps to get to the top, but it was kid-friendly enough for a toddler to do on his own. My friends had kids of the same age, so they all went up. And came down just as fast. Except for Porter. He froze at the top, terrified, and just stood there. A line of kids started to build up behind him (some much older), and they were getting impatient. Making comments. I couldn't get up there at that point, and there was only one way for him to get down. All I could do was yell encouragement, and after a looooooong time, we managed to get him to slide down. Much to the relief of the other excited children.

I don't know why I remember that moment so clearly. I think it was one of the first times I realized that my son was a pretty cautious kind of guy. Since he was my first, I guess I didn't have much to compare him to. Now that he's older, I'm actually appreciative of this quality. He likes to observe for awhile before he participates in anything. And this makes him a lot less likely to get into trouble. was another lovely one here in the Far North. We have a nice playground in town, and we got to enjoy it. Molly found a slide, climbed to the top, gave me a huge grin, and slid down laughing. And did it again. And again. And again. And threw kind of embarrassing tantrums when I had to let her give someone else a turn. Since she is so young still, this fearlessness manifests in baby-in-oven and slide-loving scenarios, but that's about it. I hope when she's four I can keep her out of trouble.

I'm Cooking: Potato, Cauliflower & Chicken Curry with Jasmine Rice. This is an Indian style curry, and while it's not terribly authentic, it is easy and good. Bryce is a self-proclaimed cauliflower hater, and he liked it too.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Bus

Today was an exciting day for Porter. His entire preschool class (20 four year olds) took a field trip to the library to hear a special Folk Fest story time and sing along. And they took the city bus to get there. Porter asks to ride the school bus almost every day, and while this one wasn't yellow, it was pretty close to the real thing.

My car is in the shop, so I decided to take Molly and go along for the ride (and help hold a few hands). The kids all had to get suited up (it is a gorgeous day here, but it did snow a couple of inches over night), walk about six blocks to the bus stop, wait patiently, get on the bus, sit down for the ride, get off the bus, and make it into the library safely. Twenty four year olds, seriously. I was sort of imagining this crazy scene of kids running into the road and all the other bus passengers hating us. But you know what? They were great. Really well behaved. The whole thing went off without a hitch, and the kids had a fabulous time.

I know that when I plan something like this for just my own two children, about 50% of the time it ends in me yelling and everyone being tired and hungry and bummed out at something that was supposed to be fun. I'm not sure what it is about being at school (even on a field trip) that makes everyone so much more cooperative and obedient, but I'm thankful. I just wish that Rhonda and Mary could take my kids to public places all the time so it could go so smoothly.

Sorry for the blur here (it was bumpy), but Porter was really into the bus ride...

I'm Cooking: Last night I made one of my kid-friendly (at least to my kids) stir-fries. Chicken and Veggies (mushrooms and bell peppers this time) with Yakisoba Noodles. There is no recipe here, just cooking of meat and vegetables with garlic and ginger and lots of soy sauce. And some fresh basil and oregano and sesame seeds if I have them. Porter may have picked out all the peppers and mushrooms, but he ate a whole bowl of chicken and noodles, which is more than I can say for many nights out of the week.


Porter has been falling asleep around the house a lot lately. He really doesn't want to nap unless he is sick, and most days doesn't seem to need it. But clearly there is some lack of rest going on here. Maybe an earlier bedtime is in order. Some days it feels hard to get all the dinner eating, bathing and general end of the day activities done in time to get these guys in bed early. It is probably worth doing though, as I imagine it is better to sleep in a bed than on the floor or the table or the living room chair.

I'm Cooking: Last night (in an attempt to use up some greens) I made tomato sauce with sausage, zucchini and arugula. I love arugula in salads, but I had never tried cooking it before. I served it over pasta, and while the results were definitely edible, the strong arugula flavor really took over the dish. The kids were not into it. Bryce ate two bowls, but then again, he'll usually eat anything. I think I'll probably stick to arugula salads from now on.


Porter is doing better, but still struggling. I'm not sure if it's the medication making him feel down or if he's still feeling sick, but he's just not quite himself. We had a difficult drop off at school today, and his teachers said he was subdued. I'm just hoping he stops waking up at night soon, because we are all tired, plus Molly is sick now too.

I just love that guy that works the front door at Costco. He is so funny and Molly loves him. Anyone know who I'm talking about?

The amount of Easter candy currently in our house is ridiculous. I really want to just throw it all away, but can't quite bring myself to do it.

I am so excited that we finally have Photoshop, but it has been sitting on the desk uninstalled for two weeks now. I need to get on it.

I forgot to customize my CSA box this week, and I am getting a lot of greens. I do love my greens, but no one else here has exactly the same feelings for them. We are getting salad mix, braising mix (chard and the like), and arugula. I need some new ideas!

I'm Cooking: Last night I made soup from the leftover ham bone. I really don't have a recipe, but I cut off what ham I could, then cooked the bone with chicken broth, thyme, onions, carrots, lentils, potatoes and zucchini. Then added the ham back in at the end. Sort of split pea soup-ish with vegetables. The kids didn't really eat it, but Bryce and I thought it was delicious.

Happy Easter

We enjoyed Easter with some great friends, great food, many children and an egg hunt in the yard. I just may have had one more glass of wine than was prudent. And stayed up way too late. But it was worth it.

I'm Cooking: I made a Brown Sugar and Mustard Glazed Ham for Easter. I love ham, but I'd never actually made a whole one before. This recipe was fantastic. Every last piece was eaten. And I still have the bone to make soup with today.

Thanks to Amy for the pea and radish salad and Lori for the egg bread. And to everyone else for such crazy goodness as an asparagus tart, scalloped potatoes, a whole turkey, wild rice salad, strawberry shortcake and apple pie!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Just Breathe

We had a trying day yesterday! Porter has been sick most of the week, the standard preschooler cough and runny nose. He seemed worse on Thursday morning, and I kept him home from school. He was begging to go, and I hate keeping him home from school, but he was so pitiful that it just wasn't going to happen. He'd been coughing all day, but that afternoon he just couldn't stop, not even for a second. It made him throw up. It was awful. He coughed for three hours straight. So I took him to the pediatrician, and right away they said it sounded like asthma. After looking him over, our doctor said there was nothing else wrong with him, but his airway was swelling shut. She gave him a breathing treatment, which thankfully stopped the cough a little bit. She sent us home with a nebulizer and three prescriptions. Poor guy. I can't even count how many times I've taken the kids to the doctor and had them tell me they just had a virus and to wait it out. And then honestly, I wasn't even very worried about him, and look what happens. I don't think I'm very good at making the home diagnosis. But I suppose that is why I'm not the expert.

Anyway, he is doing better today (not great, but better). They don't think he has asthma, just that a virus or something else triggered this event. And I am grateful, because having a four year old struggle to breathe is scary.

On a side note, I sent Bryce to the pharmacy for our huge bag of mystery medications (don't you love it when the pharmacist gives you different instructions than the doctor?), and I told him to pick up some Popsicles or something to make Porter feel better. He came back with a BIKE. He is a serious sucker for a sick kid.

I'm Cooking: Yesterday I made Pear Tarts. They were quick and easy. I used fresh pears cooked in a little butter and honey, and I think the cheese really made it. As Porter has been telling people, mommy ate THREE. Hey, they were good and it was a hard day.

I also made Bacon and Swiss Chard pasta*. This was also quick and easy, although I used more balsamic vinegar than called for.

*Thanks to Lori for reminding me how tasty bacon is with greens!