Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hats Off To HouseGuests!

My husband was raised right.  He was taught very early that you show respect at the dinner table.  Especially if you are a guest.

He will ALWAYS remove his hat at the table.

This applies to the kitchen and dining room, not so much at a picnic table or if we are eating buffet style throughout the house.  Then again, he has this rule so deeply ingrained in his brain that he will often remove his lid in those situations also. I have heard him say that it's just not comfortable.  I know many people who pray at the table before dinner and those people remove their hats while they pray.  We are not those people. This is just something that is important to him.

This little sign of respect is something that I never really noticed before I met him.  I can remember some people growing up removing a hat and some not.  But it wasn't something we really discussed in my family.  
Or at least, not in a conversation I was a part of and possibly because my dad
never wore hats. 
This is something that my trucker is very sincere about.  It is not something that would go unnoticed.

We had a dinner guest recently that created a slight problem.  I was somewhat surprised to see that my whole family was aware of the elephant in the room. This man was offered the seat at the head of our table as our guest and as a respected friend. He is older than all of us, it was the right thing to do.  My boys were quiet, but I know they noticed the hat. My toddler thought it was the funniest joke she'd seen in all her life.  She's not a talker but she repeatedly pointed to daddy's hat in the other room, then his head, then her head and then the guest... at which point she would make that smack your forehead gesture. The two year old way to say
"Man, he just doesn't get it!"
Now, in most cases, my darling trucker would say something, or make a gesture or even say something in a roundabout way, like "yes, baby girl, Daddy took his hat off and left it in the kitchen.  I know."  But this particular guest is an old family friend.  Well, we've known him a long time and he is a fair bit older than us. 
So what do you do then?

My wonderful hubby and I were almost stuck between two strong morals of our own.  Do you ask for the respect at the table and ask him to remove his hat?  Or, do you respect your elders and therefore keep your mouth shut?

We kept them shut.  This time.  Made a few excuses as to why he may have just forgotten and chose to take a higher road on this one and respect our elders. For whatever that's worth in this case.
Chances are, I won't have to worry about making dinner for that particular guest for a long long time.
Do you remove your hat?
What would you do in this situation?  Would you say something?  Tell me your thoughts. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tales From The Tooth Fairy

Oh, the joys of an almost seven year old!  He is currently in the stage where there are a lot of loose teeth going around. I keep joking about how the tooth fairy is going to go broke if he keeps it up.  Not to mention the older brother who is in the process of losing the last of his baby teeth.  The tooth fairy has been visiting quite a lot lately.

There was much discussion just before Christmas here about the effects of losing a tooth on Christmas eve, which was a definite possibility. If Santa won't come if you're awake and the Tooth Fairy won't come if you are awake, what if they hear each other?  Will they KNOW who it is or think it is you?  Wouldn't that be awful to wake up to nothing?

I've raised some thinkers!

Most recently, we had a very stubborn tooth.  That boy wiggled and jiggled and twisted and pulled for days and days.  It was a good yank away from freedom.  The very first loose tooth was yanked unexpectedly by a well meaning Aunty, so now NO ONE gets near his mouth when there is a wiggly tooth.  Thus, freedom remained elusive for this little tooth. 

Day after day he got more frustrated. That wiggly tooth made it hard to chew. It was in the way. It poked his lips and bugged his tongue.  Then one night, I made pasta for dinner.  I have become a big fan of broad noodles lately so we were eating pasta with a creamy chicken sauce that day.  This is a great dish, however, not one of the kids favorites. It's often a fight to get them to eat this meal too.
He took a big mouthful of noodles and that stubborn tooth stuck.  The noodles were done just about as perfectly as I am capable of, so the tooth just nestled right in!  
I finally figured out how to cook the pasta 
Al Dente
He was so excited that it was finally gone. He was thrilled that he caught it and didn't swallow it.
(That also led to a discussion once, about whether or not the tooth fairy comes if you DON'T put it under your pillow.  She is magic, why can't she get it from your belly?  Wait, that's kind of gross.  Would she really be able to get it?  She wouldn't pay you if she didn't get the tooth.  Eeww... does she wait until it... comes out?)

The next morning at school, he shared his excitement about the newest lost tooth.  He told the kids in class and his teacher that my "cooking is so bad, the tooth couldn't take it!  It got stuck in the yucky noodles and wouldn't let go." 

He also suggested that the tooth fairy is the only fan of my cooking.... 
she gets a lot of teeth that way.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wendy Can't Cook, But I Sure Can Eat!!

There IS a down side to quitting smoking.  The weight gain!!! Now, it's not the act of not smoking that makes you pile on extra pounds, it's the random snacking you do when you are not paying attention.  When you normally would have spent that twenty minutes bundling up to go freeze outside, you may be nibbling on chips or candies, or whatever else may be handy.

If you remember, not so long ago, it was mentioned that I can't cook but I CAN bake.  Turns out that baking is a bit of a problem.

I have to have a little cookie dough when it's ready.

I have to try a cookie when they are fresh out of the oven.

I have to have a cookie the next morning with my coffee.

I have to have something!
I gave myself grace as the benefits of not smoking were plentiful.  I didn't worry about what I was eating or when.  I gave no consideration to grabbing a donut for myself and the kids when I stopped at Timmies for my coffee.  It was just one donut.  Really.  Or the cake for celebrating small things. And the leftover cake the next day.  They were just (not) tiny pieces....

But now it has been just about 4 months. (WOW, four months!!) It has got to stop!  I am not one to load my coffee with sugar, there are no 'hidden fats' that are tacking on to my backside... they are all obvious.  And I just seem to gravitate towards them.

Part of it is simply convenience.  Prepared snacks are easier than cutting up veggies...  But even easier than that.... is NOT EATING those snacks!!

I'm working on it now.  I will not cut these things out completely, but maybe I can limit it to weekends.  I am not one to give up all at once.  With smoking, I leaned on the nicorette, for this I will start slow.  Add exercise and reduce but not cut out everything.  I will also try to work on drinking more water and actually eating proper meals. I tend to graze all day then eat a big dinner.

It is also kind of sad that the addicted part of my brain is arguing that it is not worth it.  I NEVER had to worry about my weight before. Smoking does affect your metabolism and I started smoking when I was very young.  I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Only once did I have 'diet' and that was after a baby and before my wedding. And if I'd had a bigger budget, I could have bought a new dress fitted to me, instead of getting ME fitted to the DRESS.  I've never been "skinny" but I've never been terribly over either.

Yes, I am still certainly very much a nicotine addict.  I'm sure I will this way be for a very long time. It seems unfair that this has to come out of it.  I know I can lose the weight, I just have to make a few changes.  But when I see those ooey gooey cinnamon rolls in the bakery or the kids ask me to make cookies... it can be really hard.  Like someone with an eating disorder, one who will think about a binge and purge, I will stand there and think 
"If I just started smoking again, I could go back to eating whatever I want..."

Quitting stuff is not very gratifying... but then I'm not completely sure if this is the addiction talking or the "I don't want to exercise" side of me talking.  And of course, there is the depression that likes to come and go... it could be that talking too....

There seem to be only two VISIBLE signs of quitting smoking.  
More money, and more waistline.
(Hmmmm.... money isn't everything.....)

So, Wendy needs to start cooking healthy, stop snacking so much and get moving!  
Let's go!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dreaded Dish Duty

Sometime last year, I instated the 'Kids dish night' rule.  I declared that Monday and Wednesday were non-negotiable nights where the boys did dishes.  Having two days in the week meant that each one had one day to wash and one day to dry.

Yep, when given the options, siblings really can find ways to fight about everything.

Kids Dish Night worked GREAT the first week.  

I think we had one day the second week... but then mom has to help with the pots. And they really shouldn't be washing the sharp knives at that age, should they?  And mom puts away leftovers, and wipes the placemats.... and the counters....

Effectively, I had organized 2 days a week for the kids to wash plates, cups and silverware.  When I was doing the cleanup around them and they were either playing or fighting..... Kids dish night took about 2 hours instead of the 20 minute kitchen cleanup I had most days.

I am not really sure how to get this one sorted out.  But I've pretty much given up on kids dish night. It is still on the calendar, and I'm not telling anyone that I'm giving up.  But this week was so much different.
More fun, even.  Yes.  Fun doing DISHES.  I didn't believe it could happen!!

The night I asked for a sucker.... I mean, a helper..... and my 6 year old cheerfully volunteered, I learned something really neat!  I don't have to enforce kids dish night and have a night off dishes. What I wish for even more than a night off, is the HELP.  No, not even that.  Company.  Someone to talk to while I'm tidying is awesome.  Having someone else there makes it more fun.
I don't feel like an appliance!
I do, however, find it disturbing that this dishwasher picture is, ahem, TOP HEAVY. 
Dishwashers ARE built by men!

Having just one other person is nice.  Dividing the kids up, instead of forcing them to do dishes together, provides TWO great benefits.  Less Fighting and More One on One Time.

It was over dishes that I found out my younger son doesn't think it's fair that his brother gets to play at friends houses more than him.  
We had a towel fight, we had bubble wars, we had races, we told jokes and talked.  We 'guarded' the kitchen from outsiders, while we did our dishes.  I even had a chance to explain WHY I wash the counters and placemats, and teach the kids how to put leftovers away or finish the kitchen cleanup.  
Maybe when they are older, they'll have a better start than I did?  Not that I had a bad start, but there were a lot of things I just didn't have to do growing up, adult life was a bit of a shock!

The little princess even took her turn.  She had to use every cloth, sponge, scrubby and brush to do it, but those 5 tupperware bowls have NEVER been cleaner.  The 6 year old had to get in on her giggles too, I laughed so hard when they were fighting over the scrub brush or which bowl was for which person..... Eventually, I had to fill the bathtub so she could still play in the water but I could finally finish the dishes.

This is life. If the only time I have to chat with my kids is during supper and dishes, then I just might start to look forward to it.  Instead of dreading the dishes, I'm going to start looking forward to it. 

"Who do I get to visit with tonight?"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dancing In The Kitchen

Whistle while you work, crank the music while you clean house, dance in the kitchen.  Things that make work more enjoyable, right?  Definitely something I know I should work on.  I have days where I don't even want to step in the kitchen.  Forget cooking or cleaning.  And dancing?  yeah, right.

I remember stories of my grandparents dancing in the kitchen.  Of course that was partly because they had no electricity and the 'good light' was kept in the kitchen.  But they were happy and cheerful and loving and they really did often dance around the kitchen. Such warm memories to hold.

A week or so ago, I was just in the last few minutes of dinner preparation, shuffling back and forth through the whole kitchen doing my own little 'dance' (though not a pleasant one).  Dear Trucker came into the kitchen  following close behind the "angel baby". This toddling monster was determined to find a snack before dinner.

So here's the picture.... a busy and FAST toddler trying desperately to get into something. If not a fridge then a cupboard... Daddy trying to keep her out from under mommy's feet at the same time as blocking her access to the fridge and cupboards.... Mommy spinning around, draining the pasta, stirring the sauces, turning the meat, etc.... All three of us twirling around the kitchen to an unheard rhythm.

Grandma had a ride home that particular night and for some reason, they chose to drop her off at the back of the house. They had a clear view of our kitchen window.  Her friend paused and smiled and commented to my mom...

"That's so nice, your family is dancing together in the kitchen!"

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mission - April Fools.

I know I have a fair bit of time left in March, but the kids had so much fun the last time I messed with their food on April Fools.... I have to be even better!  Thanks to Gretchen Rubin and the Happiness Project Book, I have a great idea for breakfast.  Now I just need to hammer down the rest of the day.

For breakfast two years ago, I made burgers and fries.  Well, I made regular pancakes and cocoa pancakes and skinny strip pancakes, and we put them together as burgers and fries.  A little raspberry sauce made perfect ketchup, too.  The boys thought this was AWESOME.  And I love it when they like the silly things I do for them.

I don't really remember lunch, oddly.  But we had cupcakes for supper.  I know that.  Mini meatloaves made in a muffin pan and topped with colored mashed potatoes.  It was really fun, and the kids ate a lot.  AND they don't even LIKE meatloaf!

So, I'm on a mission now, to find some great ideas for this year. I want something that they'll remember for a long time.  The last week of this month is Spring Break, so they will be home and I'm not going to be able to work on this with them underfoot. This leaves me 3 weeks to figure it all out.  I have a few other tricks up my sleeve, but I'm not telling!  Every now and then, my curious kid will ACTUALLY read this blog.  So, sorry to anyone who wants a sneak peak, you'll have to reach me another way :)

I'm calling on anyone with a sense of mischief to send me their ideas too!  Doesn't have to be just food related either. The advantage of Spring Break is that I have the WHOLE DAY to mess with these boys.  You see, I've been a bit on the cranky side lately, and I want them to know that I'm back with a vengeance!!  I was forgetting to have fun, but now I remember......muahahahahaha

What is the best April Fools joke you've ever seen?  
(Family Friendly of course...)