Friday, May 28, 2010

Minivan

When I was 30-something weeks pregnant and hunting for a car that would fit three car seats, I was dead set against getting a minivan.  I JUST COULD NOT DO IT.  It was impossible to envision my 5'3" self tooling around town in a short bus.  Plus, having a car that gets under 30 miles to the gallon flies in the face of all that I think is right in the world.  It seemed that our bonus baby meant something had to give so I compromised on the fuel economy and we ended up with a Subaru Forester.

Our Forester served us well until the Turtles needed to move out of their infant seats and into convertible ones.  Vivi got booted from her convertible and moved into a booster seat.  They all fit but I didn't realize that the booster required the actual car seat belt to restrain the child.  That's when our Forester turned into a royal pain in the ass. 

So after 14 months of Forester ownership and a grand total of 6428 miles, I started dreaming of minivans.  Ummm... salivating at the sight of one is more accurate.  Part of this was because there is just no other car I found that could easily accommodate a booster seat, and two non-moving convertible seats.  (Many large SUVs have three rows but you need to fold down the middle row to access it.  That just won't work if you have two car seats installed.)  I just could not imagine any possession giving me more pleasure than a minivan.  I welcomed my fate with gusto, did my research, and took my best car critic to every dealership.  (That would be Vivi who at one point, in the midst of dealing with an obnoxious salesman, turned to me and said, "Mama, why is this guy wasting your time?")

I knew a minivan would mean that I would have to compromise on fuel efficiency even more.  (It also meant that I would finally have to accept  that I am, in fact, a mother to three children.  Something that vaguely figures into my ongoing question of self-identity.)  Nonetheless, I decided it would all be worth it so last week, we welcomed our newest member of the family.  Here she is:


OK, so here's the thing.  I really like this car but it is so damn long that I've already backed into a stone wall.  I haven't quite figured out how to park it in just one parking spot but I hear that comes with time.  (Hopefully, so does the ability to back it up.)  This leads me to wonder why anyone would want a car like this if they absolutely don't need one.  I mean, there are tons of families with two kids who have minivans.  Is it really worth the expense and fuel economy to have the storage space?  Fair readers, if you have a minivan, tell me why.  If you are dead set against them, tell me that too.  How did you decide on the car you drive?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Animals

I am not an animal person.  Although snuggling with my children or being slimed by their boogers and puke doesn't generally bother me, the idea of cuddling up with a pet is just not my cup of tea.  Sharing my space with some furry creature is almost certainly at the bottom of things I would choose to do.  This is a bit surprising since I always grew up with pets and hate the idea of any animal being mistreated.  (Well, except for mice and rats, I don't care what happens to them.)  Still, it is a given that I will be the fervent hold-out when my husband and girls start begging for a dog.

Yet, in the last couple of weeks, I have had to deal with more animals and animal-like behavior than I thought possible.  Saturday morning I went outside to check on Vivi only to find her playing with a dog I had never seen before.  The animal seemed sweet enough but I was loathe to go near it just in case it wasn't.  After much cajoling I got a hold of its collar and called its owner.  She arrived 15 minutes later but that was not before the dog discovered the remnants of a dead baby bird in my yard and started chewing its head.  Ewwww......

We also have the ongoing headache of dealing with our neighbors and their two outdoor cats.  These pets have decided to use my yard as their hunting grounds (two dead birds so far, not including the aforementioned baby bird) and as their litter box (countless amounts of shit) and my garden as their digging spot.  Appeals to our neighbors have been largely ignored although they did offer to give us some garlic spray to try and keep their cats away.  Oh yes, in my copious amounts of free time I will be sure to roam the grounds whilst having my hand at the ready with garlic spray.  Somehow, they seem to think that keeping their cats out of my yard is my responsibility.  We are thisclose to calling animal control on the damn cats.  (Damn Cats, by the way, is now their official name.  The other morning, after spotting one in the yard, Vivi innocently asked, "Mama, what are you going to do about those damn cats?") 

Sadly, cat poop isn't my only problem.  I walked out to the car yesterday to find a big pile of poop by the passenger side door.  Not a day later, like a package waiting to be discovered on my back porch, one long, stinky, bumpy turd sat on the mat by the door. 

The culprit?  Vivi.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Embarrassment

I am fully aware that, as a mother, I will be an embarrassment to my children at some point.  It seems to be a requirement.  I would imagine that it starts happening somewhere around adolescence.  That point in time when friends become more important to a child than her own family.  That moment when I go from being the loving caregiver to a fat slob who doesn't know how to dress.  (Which, to be fair, is very likely true now.)  It seems inevitable that I will be that person who just DOES. NOT. UNDERSTAND. how difficult it is being my daughter.

I get that but no one ever tells you that your preschooler could be an embarrassment to you.  Lately, I am afraid to say that I have been feeling very ashamed of Vivi's behavior.  In the past two weeks, she has pushed, shoved, and bitten her friends without any obvious provocation.  She seems very angry and I, clueless mother, am bewildered as to why.  This is not the behavior of MY child.  My child is creative and precocious and sweet.  She doesn't need to be aggressive, after all, she has a plethora of words at her disposal.

In other words, what the #$&(#* is going on?

Yesterday, one of my closest mommy friends called to say that Vivi had bitten her son at school and that he was feeling like he didn't want to play with her anymore.  It took a lot of courage for my friend to call me to discuss problems between our children and I am glad that she did.  I appreciated her willingness to talk to me about it and while I may be confused about the reasons why my daughter is acting this way, I am under no illusion that her behavior is getting way out of control.

So, as I write, Vivi is making a picture and writing an apology to her friend.  We will meet them later and discuss what is happening.  I think it is important for Vivi to hear from her friend that her behavior hurts him.  We are trying to walk that fine line between not tolerating bad behavior but also not giving it so much attention that we are reinforcing it.  I'm not sure if this is the right way to handle it but my child psychiatrist husband said my taking away her brand new birthday bike might be a little over the top.

Has this ever happened to you?  How do you handle it?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Crock-Pot

My Crock-Pot and I are in the midst of a grand love affair.  I put a little work in during the Turtles' naptimes and it rewards me with delicious meals and minimal clean-up.  I've baked cakes and made super easy tapioca in it.  It has provided me with many bowls of soup throughout the winter and works wonderfully at cooking beans or making stock.  Much like my stroller, I will forever sing the praises of the slow cooker.

What I will not sing the praises of, however, is Make It Fast, Cook It Slow:  The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking by Stephanie O'Dea.  Despite numerous recommendations and a few recipe attempts, I have been thoroughly unimpressed with this cookbook.  To be fair, we don't eat meat so perhaps the meat recipes are better but the Tamale pie I tried was mediocre at best.  The Quinoa Casserole was my first ever Crock-Pot disaster.  I found myself cooing to my machine, "Don't worry slow cooker.  It's not you.  It's the horrible recipe."  What can I say?  I needed to make amends.

So, for all of you who are busting out your Crock-Pot in an attempt to make your lives a little easier, let me recommend my favorite slow cooker cookbook.  It is 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson.  And here is one of my absolute favorite recipes from her book:

Sweet Potato Barley Risotto

1 T. Vegetable Oil
2 Onions, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 t. dried Rosemary leaves  (I use several handfuls of fresh from our plant which I mince)
1 1/2 cups Pearl Barley, rinsed
3 cups Vegetable Stock (although I'm sure you could sub chicken stock here too)
2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
Parmasan Cheese

1.  In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened.  Add garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring, for one minute.  Stir in barley until coated with mixture.  Add stock and bring to a boil.

2.  Place sweet potatoes in slow cooker stoneware.  Cover with barley mixture and stir to combine.

3.  Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or on HIGH for 4 hours, until barley and sweet potato are tender.  Stir in parmasan and serve immediately.

This dish can be prepared through Step 2 the night before.  Refrigerate until ready to cook.  Delicious!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I'm Baaaaack!

I've returned from the familial abyss that has claimed my blogging time for the last three weeks. I don't think I've gone so long without writing since I started this blog so to the two or three people who read my ramblings regularly, sorry about that. You see, we've just had quite a bit going on around here.

Vivi turned four.

 





The Turtles are on the cusp of walking and destroying everything in their path.







My washer died and flooded part of our basement in the process.


Our beloved babysitter is graduating college and leaving us which has me distraught.



















And my husband and I celebrated five years of mostly marital-bliss.

No picture for that.  Go figure...

And you thought I was just busy soaking beans and baking bread.