Friday, October 29, 2010

happy halloween!

my two animals, the house cat + leopard {shown above at their class party} and the giraffe + bumble bee wish you all a happy halloween!

what will you be doing?

my bff made these for her son's class {both her daughters classes last year} they are oranges carved with strawberries and grapes inside for a fun, festive and healthy treat. 
30 took her 6 hours!! {can we say wonder woman}  i'm going to try to do 4 this weekend. we'll see. i'm not nearly as patient nor precise.  wish me luck.  do you have any fun halloween treats you make?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


As the mom of twins and as the mom of two sets of twins, I am fascinated with the twin bond.  Their unique closeness is outstanding, something to be celebrated.  While each one of my children (just like singletons) is unique and their own person, they are also part of a special entity at such an early age.

I never refer to them as "the twins" and while they share a birthday celebration they get their own cake and are never given one gift to share.  They have always shared a room and when they say, "Mom, we want our own room" they will get one.  I will keep them in the same classroom until they tell me otherwise or it becomes detrimental to their learning.  My older kids rarely choose to go somewhere without the other, which I find endearing.  When they are away alone they are always thinking/talking about the other.
It surprises me when we constantly have people telling us "they should be separated more"  "they should be in different classes" "they should have separate rooms"  After my initail shock, I wonder why? why does it bother them so much?  How are they a twin expert?  While these are the responses I should give, I usually either give a half smile and walk away or say "when you have twins, you can separate them as you'd like" 

How would you handle this situation?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Riding in cars with kids...

I take my kids everywhere with me, if I want to go somewhere that is. I'm a work at home mom remember.  So they've grown up in the car. Not really but you know what I mean. 

Now that we live in the middle of nowhere, we are in the car for longer stretches of time in order to run errands.  Many times as we drive around the metro area, I see the dvd players playing.  Is it just me, but I'm not a fan of the car dvd players?

Don't get me wrong, we have a portable dvd player that we use on airplanes or car rides over 2 hours.  But I'm not a fan of dvd players that are on from the time a kid gets into the car until they get out.  Why? why does it have to be on? So we can talk on the phone, so we don't  have to interact with them, why???

This one time last year, we were heading to my parents lake house prior to our road trip to Sioux Falls, SD.  I let them watch a dvd since it was in the car, ready if needed for backup on our road trip.   I thought. okay special treat.  Uusally, we always point out cars, semi's, animals, scenery, etc while in the car.  I started to do this and was annoyed at all they were missing in our 40 minute trip to my parents.  Plus, I was sad I missed their interaction and usual silliness.

Missed learning opportunites.  Missed life experiences.  On a recent trip home from the zoo, if I'd had a dvd player going, we wouldn't have these...
{photo's courtesy of Avery 5 yrs old}
Just curious if I'm the only one who feels this way and is wondering what do you do in the car with your kids?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Paper Mâché Ghosts

I believe that one of the many reasons that I have a houseful of boys is because God knew that crafts were not my strong suit.  On more than one occasion, I have had to apologize to a classroom full of kids because, as Room Parent, I planned a lousy craft.  It's not that I don't try, I do, really I do.  But the year we were making snowmen by gluing pom poms onto popsicle sticks?  The popsicle sticks we had donated were coated and the glue wouldn't stick.  That's the kind of craft luck I bump into on a regular basis.

But now I'm feeling brave.  When my brother was little, he made the cutest little ghost out of paper mache. (He made this at school, mind you.  I'm not sure why I'm considering attempting it at home.)  The thing is, my mother STILL has that paper mâché ghost.  And, people, she's moved something like 20 times since then.  She even sold the old-fashioned typewriter we loved--at a Garage Sale for 10 cents!  But the ghost, he's still haunting her halls at Halloween.

So I've been thinking about how fun (fun?) this project could be for my boys.  As best I can tell, we blow up a balloon, cover the table with newspaper/plastic wrap, and get busy dipping strips of paper into paper mâché paste.  Dry overnight, repeat.  Dry again, paint.

Should we try it?  Have you?  If we get brave, I'll come back and post the results.  In the meantime, I'll take any crafty paper mâché tips you have to offer.

Pumpkin Seeds: Roast 'Em!

As you prepare to carve your Halloween masterpiece, don't forget to save the seeds.

I know, yuck!

But it's a great snack the kids (and you) can enjoy for a day or two.

I ago for the the classic roasted pumpkin seed, myself:  just clean, salt, and bake.  But if you're more creative (the kind of person who thinks of adding candy corn to popcorn, for example), or adventuresome, there are lots of other choices.

Go Spicy!
In addition to a little salt, sprinkle chili powder and garlic powder on your seeds.

Go Sweet!
What about skipping the salt altogether?  For a sweeter seed, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Get Crazy!
Just open your spice cupboard and think about the flavors you like.  Mix and match, or make a few different batches.

Whatever you choose to add, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds are a great fall treat.  Heat a little cider, light a fire, and you're practically guaranteed a happy day!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Whose Brainstorm was Driving Permits at 14?

As a parent, I'm all for giving kids responsibility.  Teach them to cook, to clean, to make their beds, and sure, mow the lawn, too--good ideas.  I'm also big on practice--the more we do something, the better we (potentially) get at it.

But, really?  My kid will begin learning to drive before he even turns 15?  Yep, kids in Michigan begin driver training at 14 yrs, 9mos.

I'm thinking of moving to New Jersey.  Those poor kids can't get a real license until they turn 18, so who cares when they start practicing?  The first time they'll be behind the wheel by themselves, they'll be on their way to register to vote.  I'll bet the candidate who suggests changing that law will win in a youth-generated landslide!

Parent supervision, more practice, lots of hours, blah, blah.  I understand the rationale, people.  It's the practical application I'm having trouble with.

Because, see, it's my kid.

And I simply cannot fathom that he will be old enough to get into a car and drive it.  I'm still getting used to him riding shotgun.  Where has the time gone?

photo credit:  Ray Devlin

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall inspired popcorn, fresh from the kettle

Once fall rolls around and the temperatures stay low all day, it just feels right to pop popcorn. I've never liked air poppers, so I pop ours in a large saucepan or kettle over an open burner on the range. If I'm looking for an easy dinner, I can always pair it with grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, with some grapes on the side -- YUM!

As easy as popcorn is, I discovered a couple ways to make it even better. Around Halloween, I make the popcorn with melted butter and salt, but I also add candy corn into the mix. It's just enough sweet to make the popcorn seem like a dessert and just enough salty to take the sickening sweet out of the candy corn. Another snack I add the popcorn is dried cranberries. This is certainly more nutritious than the candy corn and it still adds a little sweet without overpowering the natural taste of the popcorn. I've even added candy corn and cranberries in the same bowl which works just fine.

Another trick for popcorn that I learned, (and it's an invaluable trick for me!), is to have a very large plastic bowl with a sealable top. Once the popcorn is popped, I transfer it to the bowl, add whatever else is going into the mix and then shake away. When I add all these extras, even if it's just butter and salt, it makes mixing up the popcorn a cinch. It works when the popcorn is still too hot to touch, too. And plus, if we don't eat the popcorn all in one sitting, the sealed top allows us to keep it fresh up to a day after it was popped.

Every year, my oldest daughter wants to have a Halloween party on Halloween itself. The teens can sit there watching scary movies and noshing on candy and soda if I provide it. But I've found that if I give them something a little more nutritious (and tasty), they'll be just as happy. And they won't be as hopped up as they would have been otherwise. So fall-inspired popcorn is my remedy. The only drawback is that we always seem to have that clichéd moment when something scary happens in the movies and the popcorn bowl ends up being thrown upwards, sending the popcorn flying all over the den :-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Children's Day!

Children's Day in Brazil is October 12th, so our girls got gifts and ice cream cake last night. They look happy, no?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My two cents on bullying

All this talk in the media about bullying and kids who are berated for being gay has gotten my attention. A lot has changed since I was a teenager. No one would have dared admit being gay or lesbian. Forget transgender -- we didn't every know what transgender meant, much less not tease someone who identified this way. My oldest daughter is a junior in high school. It was about her 8th grade year that we started noticing the kids coming out. By 10th grade, everyone knew what everyone was. Her various friends identify in every way you can imagine: lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, you name it. I've really never worried about it too much; we live in a pretty liberal town after all.

But our pretty liberal town made national headlines a couple weeks back though, and it wasn't for football. It was because a student at University of Michigan, the student body president, an openly gay man, was being harassed by a public official of the state of Michigan. The student, after months of being harassed, finally filed in local court to have a restraining order brought against the official. The university moved to have the official, an alum of the law school no less, banned from university property. Here's a video of Anderson Cooper interviewing the official, followed by a video of Anderson interviewing the student:

Wow. It's like something straight out of my adolescence. I remember all the things me and my peers said casually, never even thinking about what the effect of our words might be:

"He's so gay and he's trying to get everyone else to be gay too!"


"Don't be so gay!"


"I think she's a lesbian, you know? I'd stay away from her in the locker room.
She's probably trying to get other girls to go lesbian too!"

Yikes. I'm glad to put those days behind me. I'm glad my friends who eventually came out don't hold my words against me today.

But we're not teenagers anymore, we're parents. So let's talk about parenting. Let's talk about our role in this whole thing. How do you raise a kid not to be a bully? How do make sure your kid isn't bullied? These are the immediate questions that come to our mind, right? How do I make sure my kid is ok?

I think these questions are the first ones we want to address. But once I've established that my kid isn't a bully or being bullied, I don't think I'm done parenting on this issue. I think I have to go one step further. I think I have to teach my children how to stop the bullying, how to stand up for their friends, how to make this whole ugly chapter end. Here's a start of what I did with my oldest daughter.

When she was in middle school, the insults started. She'd come home and report on what was going at school. She'd tell stories that included things like this:

"I mean, all the kids we're calling him gay, of course he got mad!"


"So then, things got really ugly. All the girls were in the bathroom and so-and-so
accused her of being a lesbian. She was really mad."


"She's a tranny, everyone knows it! It's just the truth,
so what difference does it make if we say it?"


My instinctual reaction as a parent in this situation was to question whether it's legitimate for the kids to call someone gay or a lesbian or a transgendered person. I mean, there's no need to insult someone just because you want to be mean. But pretty quickly I realized there was something much more important to teach my daughter. Why is it an insult to say someone is a gay or a lesbian or a transgendered person? If it's true, should the person still be insulted or embarrassed or scared? I realized the important thing I needed to teach my daughter is that gay or lesbian or transgender or bi is nothing to be ashamed of. The very nature of these words as insults should be something my child finds odd. These words just describe the differences between people.

Think of it this way. I would faint if I heard of all the kids in the bathroom accusing a girl of being half-black. Or if they cornered a boy and threatened to ruin his reputation by revealing that his mother was Jewish or Hispanic. My immediate reaction would be to teach my child that discrimination against someone based on their ethnic heritage is dead wrong. We have to get to the point where discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity shocks us in the same way. I'm not saying racial discrimination doesn't exist or doesn't matter, I'm just saying that we are quicker to identify it as wrong. The N-word is still more offensive than "fag," as evidenced by the fact that I can include the word fag in this post, but not the N-word.

Yes, teach your children to trust you and to have a positive self esteem; this will help them not become the victim of bullying.

Yes, teach your children compassion and a healthy sense of humility; this will help them understand that being a bully is wrong.

Beyond this, teach them to stand up to bullies and to support others when they are being discriminated against. If we are able to have our children learn this while they are young, maybe they will grow up in a world where bullying is archaic and old-fashioned.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Where do you like it?

Are you in the know? I'm guessing since most parents of little'uns and school-age kids are Gen X-ers that many readers of the blog are on facebook. Which means that you're privy to the latest trends in savvy cyber-movements. Like how last year during breast cancer awareness month (October), we gals all told the world what color the bra was that we were wearing. It was clever, with each woman just putting a single word on her facebook status, like "black" or "pink," and then not letting out the secret of what it was. After a few days, everyone (including the men) picked up on it and the initiative got enough attention to merit national reporting. If you haven't noticed it yet, this year we're telling everyone where we like to put our purse by using a sentence in the form of "I like it [locative prepositional phrase]," for instance, "I like it on the staircase," or "I like it on the floor, in the cushy carpeting in front of my fireplace." Provocative, no? All this titillating cleverness used in order to bring awareness to breast cancer.

I didn't participate in the "color of your bra" campaign and I won't post anything like "I like it somewhere" this month. I'm not willing to risk my image in that way. And I'm not sure it does any good.

There's something about the whole thing that I can't put my finger on...

Last week my oldest daughter's best friend asked via her facebook status "what's with all these 'I like it in the...' statuses?" Two comments later she got her answer, to which she replied, "I'm already informed enough about breast cancer." BINGO. That's what gets to me about the whole thing. I feel like I've been flooded with good feelings and smiles about being "aware" of breast cancer. Yet I do nothing to help find a cure. I do nothing to make a difference at all.

My ex-husband's mother had breast cancer 20 years ago. She survived. Now she's got stage 4 lung cancer. It's not so tragic for me at this point in my life, but it's the way I first became "aware" of breast cancer. She's my oldest daughter's grandmother, so it still indirectly affects me long after my divorce from her son.

One of my sisters-in-law just got a mammogram with a suspicious lump. She's 44. She's going to have a piece of it biopsied shortly. Now I'm even more aware.

On the general cancer front, a friend just got news last week that her husband's colon cancer has metastasized and now it's in his lung. More surgery, more chemo, more heartache. He's 40. And last Thursday night, a cousin who I've known my whole life lost his battle with cancer. He was 70. A co-worker's partner has had most of his right calf removed and he's still not out of the woods.

If you're like me, none of this is so remarkable. Cancer is everywhere around us. Some people win the battle, some people don't. Still, it keeps coming and we still don't have a great way of fighting it. The treatment is still, kill a lot of cells and hopefully the cancerous ones won't survive. And hopefully no new ones will learn how to grow, go forth and multiply.

I think I've become apathetic towards cancer "awareness." The pink ribbons make me feel good and cozy, even though I'm not doing anything. I don't even know who Susan "race for the cure" what's-her-face is. Since no one REALLY close to me has suffered from cancer yet, I carry around a sense of naive immunity, like it will never affect me directly since it hasn't yet. It's a rather irrational line of thinking, yet it keeps me from having to face an ugly truth: Cancer is with us and the situation is bad.

So this October, I'm trying to find something out about the whole cause, the campaign to raise money to find a cure for breast cancer. Feeling good inside when I see pink spatulas on sale at Meijer is not going to cut it, I don't think. For any readers out there who are passionate about this thing, please give me more info, something I can sink my teeth into. Because really, I fear I'm am the middle-aged version of my daughter's best friend: trying to smile and get past the month without facing the ugly truth, trying to convince people that "I'm already informed enough about breast cancer."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Wine Goodness is back! Meredith Brooks style.

I have a tendency to purchase wine based on fun labels and names. I must not be alone, because wine marketers have figured that out over the past several years. If you go browse the brands in the $8-12 range at World Market, you can find a good hour worth of entertainment.

Maybe that's just me.

Anyway, I'm pretty adventurous as far as reds go. I rarely come across a red I don't like, and when I do, it is because it's too peppery or spicy and overwhelming, which is why I've learned to stay away from Spanish reds. So I really like the trend of Australian wines that are not only easy on the pocketbook, usually quite tasty, and display that Aussie sense of whimsy and humor that says, "Hey! We're not saving women and children here, folks, we're making booze." Unlike the Europeans, of course.

Plus, screwtops. Hello.

The Bitch Grenache is really very nice considering how cheap it is. Consider the Robert Parker recommendation:

"90 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Bitch Grenache is sourced from 40- to 60-year-old vines from the Ebenezer sub-region of the Barossa. With the price of Cotes du Rhone soaring due to the weak dollar, I am hard pressed to think of a better value in full-flavored Grenache. The 2006 Bitch Grenache received no oak treatment. Medium ruby-colored, it presents an alluring bouquet of earth, smoke, rhubarb, cherry, and strawberry. Supple, sweet, and tasty, this wine totally over-delivers for its humble price and is an exceptional value."

That's a lot of wine-speak for me, frankly, just to say it's yummy.

And let's just mention how much fun it is to show up to the Friday afternoon Mommies on the Culdesac Round-up with a bottle of this stuff. The perfect antidote to a long week.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mean people suck.

There's been a lot in the news lately about a rash of child suicides over bullying, mostly regarding being gay. I don't want to discount the horror of that kind of hateful harassment, but there's not always a discernable reason for why a child gets bullied. All educators, therapists, parents and survivors can agree on is that the kids being bullied are seen as different somehow, and that the kids doing the bullying also have some insecurities they are trying to hide.

For bullying to have finally become portrayed as wrong, and sometimes even criminal is a step I never thought would happen in my lifetime. The bullies that chose me when I was a child were ignored by teachers and administrators, the problem was always with me, and how I must be taunting them by standing out, by getting their attention. A bully then was just an aggressive kid, and if I could only learn to shrink back into the shadows and not be so weird and glaringly annoying, one teacher actually told me, maybe they wouldn't notice me anymore. Maybe if I just ignored them, instead of getting angry and fighting back, they would find me less entertaining and would move on to someone else.

Not so much.

Because it wasn't about stopping the bullying, according to those teachers and administrators. Bullies will be bullies, just like boys will be boys and play in the mud, according to the system then, there just wasn't much you could do about mean kids. It was not about stopping the hate, or redirecting the behavior of the kids being aggressively mean. It was every kid for herself, just get away from their laserbeam, and someone else can become their victim.

I am hopeful that my children will not know the feeling of inescapable doom* that comes with seeing a particular kid walking toward them in the hall, when no one else is around to bear witness. So far, they've been luckier than I in that way. I am pleased to see their elementary school establish anti-bullying guidelines, internal communication/marketing campaigns, and special small group discussions with the counselor which are positioned as an honor to be invited to participate. I am not so pleased that the kids that I know to be bullies are not necessarily participating in these programs. And I know that the programs are not enough. It is not enough until the parents of the mean kids are called out (if they exist), that attention is focused on the insecurities of those children, and solving their problems. It is not enough for educators and counselors to focus action steps of avoidance and reporting toward victims, rather than bullies themselves.

But it is a start. A step in the right direction. I believe the most important thing I can do as a parent to avoid my children becoming a target is listen to them, without judgment. To know who the problem kids are on the bus, in the classrooms, and in the hallways, and to help them devise realistic solutions to dealing with these kids. I can be present up at the school, volunteering, building rapport with teachers and administrators. It is not every child for themselves anymore.

Department of Education Anti-bullying programs

* My elementary school bully grew up to become a school psychologist. Now that's irony, folks.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sometimes the only antidote to a long day is a snuggle.

Also, how much do I love to new iPhone4 and it's take pictures from the front option so you an see what you're shooting? SO MUCH.
(I'm not so good at the wordless part, clearly.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cloth Diapers Review: Guest Post!

Guest post! From someone who still has a baby! *sob* Ahem. Meet my super-girl friend Karen.

I am a cloth diapering mom. No, I’m not a crunchy environmentalist and my child does not have sensitive skin… I have a full time job, a house, a husband, a child, and a dog to care for... And I am willing to do whatever I can to save money. I did some research before my kiddo was born and found a comprehensive diaper calculator at It showed disposables vs. cloth as $2300 vs. $800 over the course of 2 ½ years. And since with each additional child, the savings grow exponentially, I was pretty much sold.

Cloth diapers are not what they used to be. It's not like the old days with folding flats in thirds, diaper pins, and plastic pants. Those things are still around but there is no way I would’ve cloth diapered if that’s all there was. The ones I use are much more like the disposables. For the majority of my stash, the diaper and the cover are all in one piece and they fasten with Velcro or snaps. Some require covers but I can chose ones that pull on like pants or ones that go on like the diaper. I have every color of the rainbow. Some are size specific and some will grow with my child. The possibilities are endless….

I was new to the whole thing so I did a lot of experimenting at first. I needed to see what would work for us and what wouldn’t. I found that Fuzzi Bunz One-Size work for us the majority of the time. At night, however, they leak (just not enough absorbency for that length of time), so we’ve been using disposables while we feel out what will work.

Happybottomus, a local cloth diaper and natural baby store in the Kansas City area, has been the source of the majority of my knowledge, as well as my diapers and accessories. They are FABULOUS and have the best customer service of any store I’ve ever patronized. Any questions or problems I have, they are right there to help me out.

When we began our search for an overnight diaper, the owner at Happybottomus recommended we try Good Mama’s diapers with a Thirsty’s Duo Wrap as a cover. These worked great except the elastic on the covers were causing little irritations on my little one’s legs if she wore them for more than a few hours at a time. When I visited the store the next time, I explained my problem. After some brainstorming the owner not only suggested two alternative covers - a Sugar Peas Windpro Fleece and a Woollybottoms Hybrid Soaker.

The Thirsty’s Duo Wrap is easy to use and works well. We have NO night time leaks, it’s easy to wash, and dries very quickly when laid flat to dry. The only problem we run into is the irritations on my kiddo’s hammy thighs. We tried adjusting the fit but it would’ve leaked if we had it any looser. We still use it, just for shorter periods of time.

The Sugar Peas Windpro Fleece works just as well as and is the simplest to care for: It’s just washed and dried it with the rest of the diapers. We have no night time leaks but a little moisture has been known to seep out during our first nursing session of the morning… but with my little wiggle worm and a 9-10 hour old diaper, I am not displeased.

The Woollybottoms Hybrid Soaker works well, too. It pulls on & off like a pair of fluffy shorts and I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort and leak protection. It was also surprisingly easy to care for. I just soak it in a special water solution every 10-14 days or so (unless it is visibly soiled) and then lay it flat to dry. Once it’s dry, I massage lanolin onto the inside surface. Although it sounds like a lot of work, it’s really not…. It is by far my favorite of the three.

Overall, I am pleased with my decision to cloth diaper. The amount of work that goes into it is minimal and all the different styles, colors, and designs make it so much fun. And since I still use disposables from time to time, I am extremely aware of the money I am saving by doing so.

*Happybottomus provided several diaper products for us to sample and review, worth about $50. We thank them for their generosity and guidance. If you live in the Kansas City area, visit their new location in Overland Park opening next week, by the Whole Foods store at 91st & Metcalf.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Modern Family.

A few weeks ago I was shopping at my local Target store. I was in a hurry, running in to grab a birthday present for a party my son was going to, on the way to the party (natch.) There was a young family shopping in the toy section, a black mom, a school age boy, a toddler girl, and a white dad. The dad especially stood out, not just because he was white and the rest of his family was not, but because he was covered in tattoos and had some interesting piercings, whereas the mom didn’t seem quite so alternative. (Given my penchant for people watching, I’d say she has an office job, whereas he might be in the music industry, or a bouncer.) Both kids were dressed normally, with light brown skin. The girl had a pretty little afro the color of brown sugar, but the boy’s hair was darker.

At any rate, they had been shopping for back to school stuff, I could tell as I quickly ran past their cart, and for some reason had migrated over to the toys (danger, danger, Will Robinson!) This is when the toddler girl started to lose her mind, over a doll she wanted. She began to wail, sharply, “MY DOLLY I WANT THAT DOLLY GIMME THAT DOLLY I WAAAAAANT IIITTTTTTT!”
The mom sighed and gave the dad That Look. And so the dad picked her up out of the cart, and did what most of us would do. He walked out of the store with a screaming, thrashing child, going back out to the car.

I went through the checkout not thinking anything else about it. But as I hit the parking lot, I realized there was some kind of disturbance, and it was this dad. A woman had stopped him, along with a Target employee retrieving stray shopping carts, and was trying to intervene as he was trying to strap his screaming, thrashing daughter into her carseat. He finally got the girl buckled in and turned around to the woman, apologizing, pulling his i.d. out of his wallet and trying to explain. “I know what it looks like,” he said as the girl continued screaming “NOOOOO” at the top of her lungs, “but I promise this is my child!”

The woman was so upset she was crying. She had pulled her phone out of her purse and was getting ready to dial, presumably 911. I said, “No! I saw them in the store. She threw a tantrum and melted down. I saw him with his wife, who is still inside shopping. They are fine. It’s fine.”

The woman looked at me, unsure, but put her phone back in her purse. He approached her to show her his i.d., I don’t know why, it was all he could think of to do, I suppose. The woman turned away from him toward me, thanked me and started walking into the store, she didn’t speak to him again or acknowledge his driver’s license. The teenager collecting carts went back to his texting.

Exasperated, the dad turned and looked at me. He was near tears. I smiled at him and continued to my car.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

So many times I have left a cart full of groceries in the middle of the frozen food section of the grocery store and taken my screaming, thrashing child out to the car, giving up on shopping. So many times I have forcefully strapped a bucking bronco of a toddler into a car seat, red faced and screaming, and then quickly driven away. Has anyone ever thought I was taking a child out of a store that wasn’t mine?

Probably not. My kids look just like me, blond and blue eyed. Well actually, they look like their father, but still, close enough. I’m sure if one was to study this little family long enough, say in a picture, you would be able to make out features of these children that resembled the dad, despite the ethnic differences.

Here is where I’ve arrived after pondering this for a few weeks. I probably would have done the same thing that woman did, given the information she had at the time. I am not a fan of stereotyping based on race. However, I think it’s better to offend someone and be safe than sorry. Sometimes we have to make quick decision in a parking lot to keep children safe, it is indeed our responsibility as human beings to do so. And that may involve stereotyping.

I don’t know what it was that concerned the woman most, that the child was so upset, that they did not appear to be related, or that he was covered in tattoos and piercings. But I think it may have been that the family vehicle he was struggling to strap the child into was an older model white cargo van.

Totally not making that up. A white cargo van. I mean I AM SORRY, but be more self-aware than that, people.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

I will put the disclaimer at the top here: 2 of my 3 kids refused to eat this. Granted, my son was sick so he may have eaten it if he was feeling better. Our toddler, who eats pretty much anything, LOVED it. My husband and I commented how tasty it was to one another.

My Aunt found a version of this recipe in our local paper and made it. She received rave reviews so I asked for the recipe. My cousin sent it to me in Cliff Notes version and I made it my own wrong way.

Here's what I did:

1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup butter
4 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1 med head of cauliflower
1/2 lb. Velveeta
dash pepper
2 cubes chicken bullion
1 T minced garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped carrots

I grabbed my trusty Pampered Chef Microwave steamer/cooker thingie ...let me see if I can find a link...Okay, it's like this but bigger and doesn't have the long handle. My mom and dad gave it to me for a wedding shower present. Love it!

Back to the recipe...I chopped up my head of cauliflower, added the butter, minced garlic, minced onion, carrots and about 1/4 cup of the milk and threw it in the Micro steamer and cooked (nuked) until the veggies were soft. Once they were soft, I used a fork to mash up the cauliflower and mixed it all together well.

While the veggies were cooking I added the remaining ingredients to a large pot on my stove and stirred continuously (well, sort of) until the cheese was melted and the bullion dissolved.

Finally I combined the veggie mixture from the micro cooker in the pot on the stove and mixed well.

You will be surprised how tasty this soup is...though if you don't like cheese you'll probably want to skip it...but who doesn't like cheese?