Thursday, September 25, 2008

MetaMegan's Mangled "Me Time"

Luke has swimming lessons on Thursdays, and the pick up time is between 5:45 and 6:00 at the pool, which is very close to my office. Since I finish work at 5:00, that means 45 whole minutes of glorious "me time" between work and pick up. I declared Thursday to be Megan Day! I dressed nicely because on Thursdays I have to drive! I brought the paper to read while I sipped a latte somewhere between Whole Foods and Barnes and Noble after leisurely strolling the magazine and fiction section! Thursdays, how I have looked forward to you, lo these many weeks since I signed Luke up for swimming lessons. How I imagined what I could be doing instead of hovering around the lesson that first week. How I wished I was more organized the second week when I was speeding to pick Luke up after we had stupidly scheduled his parent-teacher conference at the school at the end of the day, forgetting he would be across town at lessons.

Maybe it was a case of too much anticipation? Maybe 45 minutes isn't really that much time? Especially because 10 of those minutes were spent talking to my boss, not realizing it was already 5:00 pm? And 10 minutes were spent finding a parking space at Whole Foods, and 10 minutes were spent purchasing peanut butter at Whole Foods so I can make lunches this evening. And 5 minutes were spent waiting for my latte. So yeah, I browsed for 2 minutes, spent 3 minutes in line debating just chucking the book and running for the door. I made up excuses in my mind for not being there when the lesson ended. Like, "I couldn't find a parking space!" (Eerily, that came true.) Alas, when I arrived at the Y, Luke was lounging on the couch watching TV. He managed to slide one eye in my direction to glare at me reproachfully for not being the first parent there, all the while keeping the other eye glued to Nickelodeon.

And then we left, and he immediately and completely melted down into a pile of crying, screaming, hungry goo. I brought him a plum for a snack. That made things worse.

But! The day was saved! Because if are coming down from a relaxing three minutes of me time, and you have a screaming child in the car who needs a snack, and you have recently purchased some peanut butter... I think you can see where this is going. I loaded up a spoon full of peanut butter to take the edge off his hunger meltdown, while simultaneously gluing his mouth shut for the rest of the drive home.

Megan Day was saved.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Panic Attack Magazine

I have sworn off Parents magazine, hilariously referred to as Panic Attack Magazine in Baby Blues, and by one of the nurses at my OB's office as One Thousand and One Ways Your Kids Could Die Magazine. But that's all there was to read in the lactation room yesterday, so I told myself to just read it for the crafts, advertising, and halloween costumes. I swore I wouldn't read any of the recall notices, milestone alerts, "it happened to me" horror stories, or parenting tips.

But then I got to the section on what to do in cases of emergencies, and I thought maybe I could use some brushing up on my first aid. So I read what to do in case of burns. Always good to know what to do in the case of a burn. Next section: Tornadoes. OK, I could use a refresher on that. Next: Bear attacks. I have bear-aphobia, so this looked like a good read. There was a lot of info on black bears, who normally don't attack you. Grizzly bears, not so much info beyond: Grizzlies are not found East of the Rocky Mountains. Thanks a lot, Parents magazine! I guess your demographic is more Midwest/East Coast? Blood pressure rising. Next up: What do to if your car becomes submerged in water while driving? What!? Seriously? Who needs this kind of info? Who will remember it when it happens? And since it was presented as
2.) Myth about how to solve problem
3.) Actual way to solve problem - OK, now all I remember is the myth, and not the actual way to solve the problem. Maybe because I tossed the magazine aside in disgust before I read what to do. For future reference, if your car is sinking in a lake, don't wait for the car to become completely submerged and the pressure to equalize before you get out. That is a MYTH!

So I stormed off to complain about Parents magazine to Carolyn and she agreed that we'd never remember what do to if any of those freak accidents happened to us. But that maybe if I tore out the article and acted like an authority on under water car accidents that my mom would feel more comfortable going on drives with me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Messy Cook: Zucchini Bread Revisited

When I was a junior in college, I moved into a house, and I started inviting people over for dinner immediately. As I started cooking that very first meal I realized that I did not, in fact, know how to cook. By Christmas someone had wised up enough to give me a cook book. And once I had a recipe to go from, things started to improve. Slowly. I would make one delicious thing from the cookbook, with no regard to how many people it served compared to how many people I had invited, and I only made one thing. Side dishes? What? It probably took about 10 years for me to start incorporating side dishes. But at the beginning, on 27 Mound Street, when I was making Cajun Lentil Stew, I was having a panic attack because the recipe said the lentils would be done after X amount of time and they weren't done. Dave was there, and I think he suggested that I add more water. Once the meal was served, I remember Eliot and Nellie saying that I should have a cooking show called The Nervous Cook. I would have a bunch of friends over, start cooking, totally freak out about something, get some advice from the friends/audience and then everything would turn out fine.

So, things have improved, but now my show would be called: The Messy Cook. And instead of a show, it would be a blog.

The accidental fat free zucchini bread and the peach cobbler blog posts are the ones that have generated more hits than everything else, so people are obviously very interesting in finding recipes on the internet. And I feel sorry for the ones that end up here with my bad photography and recipes gone wrong. (Although the peach cobbler is delish.)

So on my pretend cooking blog, I will now review 3 zucchini bread recipes.

1.) Blue Ribbon Zucchini Bread from my Simply Colorado cookbook.
3 eggs beaten
½ Cup sugar
1 C. brown sugar
½ C. oil
1 T maple flavoring (I leave this out)
2 C. zucchini shredded
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tps. Salt
½ C. wheat germ
2 ½ C flour
1/3 C. walnuts, chopped
Cooking spray
¼ c. sesame seeds
Preheat to 350
Coat two 9x5x3 pans coated with cooking spray and flour
Beat together eggs, sugars, oil and maple flavoring until foamy and thick
Stir in zucchini.
Mix dry ingredients, stir into above.
Add nuts
Spoon batter into pans
Sprinkle tops with sesame seeds
Bake 45 to 60 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans.

This used to be my go to recipe for zucchini bread, and when I accidentally made it without any oil, it turned out fine, but it seems strangely short. This was a good one because it seems to be the healthiest, but at the same time, I haven't been inspired to make it again yet. Luke didn't like it because it had nuts, and no raisins. Or none raisins, as he would say. Of the three, this is probably the best one though, if you are looking for something that is on the lower end of the fat and sugar scale.

2.) From my fave food blog, the antithesis of The Messy Cook, Smitten Kitchen

I made this without nuts and with raisins. It was fine. Luke really liked it. I'm not really inspired to make it again though.

3.) Then Dave came home raving about his co-worker's wife's zucchini bread, and I can't be outdone, so I made that. I think maybe I didn't cook it long enough because it was kind of gooey and one half of one of the loaves stayed in the pan. But if you are looking for a dessert zucchini bread, served straight out of the pan with a spoon that you pass around the table, then this is the one for you. Or you could just cook it a little longer. Details:

It all started at some festival, where we saw the great zucchini races, and Luke wanted me to grow a gigantic zucchini. I had a zucchini in the garden that was about ready to be picked, so I just didn't pick it. Three weeks later, Dave noticed it while looking out the window. If I had waited any longer to pick it, it would have been visible from space. Weighing in at 5 pounds, the zucchini:
From Zucchini

Luke helped me shred it in the food processor.
From Zucchini

I had enough for 9 loaves of bread.

I made sort of a mess.
From Zucchini

It turned out gooey.
From Zucchini

The end.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Then and Now

My Little Pumpkins



Luke and Jack:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

Luke was having a play date with Elsa last week, and Luke was playing with one toy while Elsa played with another. Jack got in Elsa's way, and she said, "No! Jack! No!" The altercation appeared to be over a toy, and I grabbed Jack and moved him away while Luke said over his shoulder, "Yeah. He pinches. And bites."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Nice Everything

I fell asleep in Luke's bed last night while reading to him, so no time to post. Today I will just reprint some submissions from my good friend Krista:

I vaguely remember this funny fireside scenario...or something to this effect:
Me- "Dave, why don't you go and check the kids in my van...?"
Dave "I already did! They're just fooling around in there and talking...I'm sure they'll put themselves to sleep soon..."
Me "Oh great! Thanks!"
A few minutes pass...
Me "Wait a minute... You didn't just get up and check them! You have been sitting next to me the whole time!!!"
Dave (laugh, laugh) "Oh great, thanks Krista, now Megan is on to me..."

The non-checked on children:
From s

Also! Krista was riding her bike up Lookout Mountain this week when a suburban full of gigantic men with dark sunglasses tried to flag her down. She was rocking out to her ipod and considered ignoring them. (When you are as beautiful as Krista, men waving at you from a car is an everyday thing. Amy and I once witnessed the following exchange between Krista and a lift operator on a chair lift at Steamboat Springs Resort:
Krista: Nice Eyes
Lift Op: Nice Everything)

Anyway! When asked, "Are you just waving or do you want me to stop?" The gentlemen in the Suburban replied, "No ma'am, you need to turn around, you can't get through that way. I'm going to need you to turn around and go up a different way." Apparently she was getting too close to Barack Obama!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

As The Worm Turns: The Plot Thickens

So, there is a recommended amount of worms per square feet of worm bin, and a standard amount of pounds of food per week per pound of worms per square foot of worm bin. But the worms I bought came in a standard amount, and I already had a worm bin, and measuring my food waste just seemed like a lot of work, so I decided to wing it. And it turns out, I had the wrong amount of food per worm, and my 13 year old worm bin is sort of not that great and the worms were unhappy. I know! Who could have predicted a worm problem? It came out of nowhere.

If you are every going to dig around in a worm bin that has major problems, I highly recommend having a few glasses of wine with the ladies and going to a museum exhibit about purses first. (Mom - I need to talk to you about some purses we used to have laying around.) The exhibit was great. And later, the wine really made the whole digging around in my worm bin thing possible.

The problem seemed to mostly be from too much moisture, both because the bottom was sagging and not draining properly, and also, possibly, from too much food. So I dug deep, and put worms with bedding and food in one bucket and worms with just bedding in another bucket. Then I scooped out a ton of water from the bottom with my perry nuclear power plant mug (high school field trip souvenir) that happened to be laying nearby. The I put half a roll of paper towels down, covered it with the food, and covered the food with the non food. (People who are grossed out to come in my house can be reassured that this process took place in the garage.) Now, I still need to repair the bin to provide a platform for the worms so the water can leak down to the bottom, but I already have a plan in place for that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Picture Day

Picture Day. Tomorrow is picture day. And I hate to use gender stereotypes, but I can't help but complain that I have sons, and yet I am not spared the battle over the picture day ensemble. Once, since school started, I put Luke on the bus in a collared shirt. He got off (yes, we still meet the bus at the school) wearing the collar turned under. I also bought him the coolest retro 80s shirt with neon boomboxes on it for $2.49 at Target Boutique. He has refused to wear it. I think you can see where this is going. I want him to wear a collared shirt for picture day, he disagrees. Dave gave him the option of a collared shirt or the boombox shirt. He chose the bookbox shirt.

Also, he started smiling like this:
Let's just say I don't regret ordering the cheapest photo package.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What a Pleasure (Fruita Times Two)

We camped at Highline Lake State Park this weekend again, and it was fantastic. We have a new favorite campsite, and according to two little old ladies, we are a great group of families who are a pleasure to observe. Children frolicked, bikes were ridden, food eaten, drinks dranken (wait, that doesn't sound right, but it does sound familiar), what could be better? Well, I guess I could have brought the memory card for my camera, but you can't have everything.

And the days of the camp host appearing with an unholstered firearm and threats of "keep it down or be kicked out" seem to be over. This camp host just wanted to talk about the thirty feral cats she has adopted from the park. (Found homes for 20, kept 10.) Okaaaaaaay. And she just threw out a, "It's technically 3.2 alcohol in the park only, so go ahead and put that tequila in your cooler where I can't see it." Sigh, I guess we still got a tiny lecture, but only because she was lingering to answer any cat questions that might come up. Who knew what kind of response I'd get from, "wild cats? I've never heard of such a thing!"

Oh, and Jack slept 5 out of the last 7 nights from 8am to 6am. Saturday in the van, he was awake from 6am to 7:30, when the effort involved in repeatedly poking me in the eye finally tuckered him out, and we both got to sleep for another whopping half hour. Sunday, I learned my lesson and after I fed Jack at 6am I said, "I am leaving to go to the bathroom, please get Jack back to sleep before I get back." Dave only had to be head-butted twice and poked in the eye less than five times, before he had Jack in a sleeper hold. And we all slept peacefully until 8. Especially Luke who was having a sleep-over with Scarlett in her eurovan.

Good times.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

"Because it blocks Jack from playing with the phone cord" is no longer an excuse for not putting away the laundry.

** Note - the back of Jack's haircut is not that great either.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Jessica Seinfeld Ain't Got Nothin on Me

So Jessica Seinfeld wrote some book about hiding vegetables in your meals, and I guess there was some other book that was also about pureeing vegetables and hiding them in brownies and spaghetti sauce. I haven't read either one because I subscribe to the parenting philosophy of preparing a well balanced meal and then saying, "Eat your vegetables!"

So I am still not over my grocery store boycott, and I am still getting my vegetables and fruits delivered and I am still the best pizza chef any of you have ever met, or anonymously read about. Where is this all going? Three words: Swiss Chard Pizza.

I don't have a lot of experience with Swiss Chard, but it seems to show up in my box o' veggies about every other week. I had been making a swiss chard and goat cheese frittata, which was delicious, but Luke doesn't like it. He does like the zucchini frittata, and I have 18 cups of shredded zucchini in the freezer, so why not just make that one instead? Well here's why: Because then I have to find something else to do with the swiss chard. So I was browsing epicurious, and I found a recipe for swiss chard casserole which all the reviewers said was terrible. Terrible, but would be good as a pizza topping or something. Light bulb! I cut the leaves off the stems, shredded the swiss chard, and microwaved it until it was wilted, stirring every 2 minutes or so. This is exactly what I did with the swiss chard when I was making the frittata, but all summer Dave read the paper on the front porch instead of in the living room. It was raining today so he was a lot closer to the action in the kitchen. And the smells. It smelled the same as it always smells. Dave described the smell like this, "That smells like poop."

That didn't deter me one bit. I made the crust with 1 cup of water, 1.5 teaspoons of yeast, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1.5 cups whole wheat flour, 1.5 cups of white flour. As the flour was mixing, I tossed the swiss chard in. As it was all getting mixed together, I added a bit of flour to get the right texture. Toppings: Blue Parrot Tomato Sauce, Mozz, and Pepperoni. It was delicious. Luke had one piece, Dave had two. (Dave usually has 4 pieces, but I am still calling this a success.)

* Note: I made this yesterday and no one has eaten any leftovers. Hmmm. And I just got more chard today.

Soccer Mom

From Soccer

Luke started soccer on Saturday and I have to say, we make great soccer parents. (Pause to pat self on back.) By the end of the game Dave knew all the kid's names and I had signed up to bring snacks. In an homage to Peggy Hill, I even wore a cashmere sweater. (Linking to synopsis that leaves off the important part about Peggy not fitting in at soccer games in her flannel shirts and needing to borrow a cashmere twin set.)

Oh, yeah, and Luke had a great time! He couldn't sleep the night before because he was so excited so I told him to count to a hundred as many times as it took to fall asleep. I maybe should have suggested that he not do it out loud because we were watching Persepolis and it was very distracting. (He did it 3 times before he yelled out that it wasn't working. I suggested he count backwards from 100 to 0 and I didn't hear another peep.)

The league is great because they have a 25 minute practice and then a 25 minute game on Saturdays, no practice during the week, there are no goalies and they don't keep score. Or I should say, the don't officially keep score. Luke and I are really into counting (see above) so we'd call the game something along the lines of 10 to nothing. With Luke scoring 4 of the goals.

Here he is about to score the first one:
From Soccer

So it was really fun, and I have now experienced the trifecta of things that make you feel like a mom: baby playing with tupperware, packing school lunches, and cheering at your child's sporting event.

Jack had fun too:

From Soccer

Sunday, September 7, 2008

CU Wins, OU Beats the Spread

From Soccer

Saturday was a big football weekend for our little family! OU beat the spread against OSU, which was cool. Jack started off the day in OU colors, but got hair all over his clothes and had to change. And if you need to change your shirt on game day, you might as go with the black and gold. Especially for your first football game. (Well, your first football game on the outside, that is. We saw a game at this time last year and I almost died of heat exhaustion and practically had to lay down on the sidewalk a block from my house and beg Dave to get the car because the contractions wouldn't stop and I felt faint.)

This year the weather was great and we all had a good time. Well, I think the boys were ready to leave after the third quarter, but CU was coming from behind to win so we forced them to tough it out until the end. And tough it out they did.

From Soccer

You know, I never managed to pay the zero dollar entry fee to see my alma mater play in the 3.33 years that I was in college, but if I had, I would have known that college kids like to drink a lot before football games, and that they are sometimes obnoxious about it. Of course, I did sort of know that since I skipped the football games and just did the drinking anyway during my college years. Also, when we lived close to downtown and the CU campus and people would park in front of our house and tailgate, and then bring their passed out friends back to the car at half time, and lay them down on our tree lawn to sleep it off, and Bean would aim for the no parking sign, but accidentally pee on them, that was another sign that people like to drink a lot before college football games. Also, they like to use obscenities. And that's fine. If Luke were to notice, and ask, I would explain that some people lack the imagination, intelligence and creativity to use more appropriate language. But I find it quite odd when we are walking to our seats passed some grannies who are shouting "rough em up" but instead of "rough" they are saying something else entirely. So in that case, if Jack accidentally kicks them in the head when we walk by, I just pretend I didn't notice instead of apologizing.
From Soccer

Then and Now

We had a big weekend of milestones and one of the biggest was Jack's first haircut! It's always so bittersweet when a baby gets their first haircut. With just a few snips, wisps of baby's sweet downy hair become the bangs of a little boy. As the hair gets taped into the baby book, you realize how fast those nine and half months have flown and you realize they will be in kindergarten before you know it. (Or maybe you realize that you haven't really started the baby book and it's impossible to tape baby hairs to a blog.) It's nice that his hair is out of his eyes, but so sad that my snuggly baby is growing up so fast. Or maybe the sadness, the melancholy, is just summer turning into fall, the days shortening, the steady march of time towards the long, dark, night of winter. Or maybe the problem is that his haircut is quite terrible. And really, it's hard to be seriously sad when I find myself laughing about it a lot. In a laughing at you sort of way. Poor kid. He slept through the haircut, which the barber though would make things easier... I'm not so sure.

Luke before his first haircut:

Luke After His First Haircut:

Jack Before his First Haircut (also note how much he is eating! That was just his first helping):
Jack During:
All the boys getting their hairs cut:

Jack After and Foreshadowing about Tomorrow's Post:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Balance Myth

I have a lot to say about the B word. (Balance.) But I don't really have time to write the whole post now. I was thinking about it on the way to a work meeting at around 7:10 am this morning, at Jack's 9 month check up, on and off during work, while I was riding my bike to the school meeting where I volunteered to be the kindergarten liaison, and I thought some more while I was nursing Jack to sleep, and then while Dave and I were picking up the house. Then I rode my bike to Andrea's house to make a peanut butter sandwich for Luke's lunch box since she lives halfway to the grocery store and we were out of peanut butter. So ideas are percolating about the balance myth. Just an FYI about what I am working on, in my little, sleep deprived brain.

Jack Report: He is meeting milestones like a champ, and he weighs 17 pounds, 6 ounces. This is slightly below the 10% percentile. He's been right at 10 for his whole life and a little drop at 9 months is to be expected since he is so active. Of course, he is 9.5 months, but whatev. 50% for height and 25% for head size.

Luke Report: He did not get the milk! My powers are not as strong as I thought. I am just going to get him a thermos, I guess. At the meeting today a subcommittee was formed to discuss why 15 minutes isn't enough time for lunch and what can be done about it. If Luke doesn't want to waste precious eating time, trying to buy milk, I guess I can deal with it. He also came home yesterday and the day before in a very good mood and he made a friend at after school care so all is right with the world. (He now has $29.50 in his online account but I suppose he can use that up over the next 12 or 13 years.)

Megan Report: Speaking of milk, the daycare has been saying I am not sending enough milk and I have been stressing. Jack's weight drop stressed me even more. I asked the Dr. about it, and I said the only thing I can think to do is add a late night pumping session. He said mother nature is in charge and Jack is doing fine. Whatever I pump is enough and I would be better off going to bed instead of trying to pump one more time. Yea! A tremendous weight has been lifted!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Week Three, Drying Tears

*** Subtitled: Why is Milk? Becows. ***

Oh, we had such a fun weekend! Playing non-stop with the cousins, staying up too late, skipping naps. It was hard for everyone to go to bed last night and face the new week. Tears were shed, fears confessed, condolences sought. But enough about me.

No friends at after school care, and milk anxiety were the big problems last night. But Luke now has a friend at after school care AND he got milk at the cafeteria. And all was right with the world.

Alas, bedtime arrived and the milk anxiety returned. "I don't want milk!!! They'll ask me if I want hot lunch and I'll have to say "No thank you!" and water is good for you!"

Fortunately, Dave put Luke to bed and handled the situation as follows: "You can choose whether or not to get milk. We would prefer that you get milk, but we can't always be there to help you make decisions. So it's your choice." Then he told me not to mention milk. When I went in to give Luke a kiss goodnight he said,

"Did Daddy tell you it's my choice?"

"About what?"

"The milk!"

"Did he tell you what we would prefer that you choose?"

"Yes. And I choose not to get milk."


"But I might change my mind. I'll make up my mind tomorrow."

I could feel his resolve crumbling under my motherly, guilt-inducing, loving gaze. Yes, Dave and I make a good team.