Saturday, July 24, 2010

7/24/2010 Visiting!

Hi all -- busy, full weekend, my favorite kind! I went running this morning while Dave, Ryan, Laura and 3 kids went out to breakfast and later, miniature golf. Then it was hanging at home and watching some of Avatar until swim lesson. Ryan's been playing outside with the boys with their Nerf guns and baseball for hours. Then Ryan's Mom came to visit. That was a lot of fun; Julian showed her and Laura how to play some new card game. We had a great dinner again (Ryan made a phenomenal salmon), dessert, more talk and hanging, the rest of Avatar....just the way we like it! And we get more tomorrow.

Oddly one thing that hasn't been happening is photos. Partly my poor camera has had about its limit of abuse and is about to break open, and partly I've just been too busy or too lazy when the time should have been right. But with Ryan here (a professional photographer) I'm hoping we can get a photo of our family of 5, and also one of me and Laura, and maybe even all of us somehow. If not, well, that's OK. There will definitely be more opportunities.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

7/22/2010 In-laws

Laura and Ryan are here!!! I'm delighted with how well Laura is doing -- she's still totally Laura with a few mechanical challenges, but LAURA is here! One never knows to expect when someone you love so much undergoes a brain bypass. But she's here. Thank goodness. We made dinner, drank, played with kids a little, and chatted well into the evening. Dave and I have to go to work tomorrow, but to tell the truth, I'm there for appearances, since my mind will be elsewhere!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

7/21/2010 Cooking along

I snuck out of work early today, so I could do some grocery-shopping before picking up kids. Not just regular grocery-shopping either, but to fulfill a gourmet menu I have planned for Laura and Ryan's upcoming visit tomorrow! I'm so happy, I can't wait to see them. I haven't seen Laura since her stroke and surgery, so I'm super anxious to see her.

It's a tough call who I love to cook with the most: Laura or Mom. It's a call I'm lucky enough to have, and one I'm even luckier enough not to truly have to make. (The ultimate moment would be with them together, and I think we did once many years ago, before I turned into a foodie -- or really, moreso a cook-ie!)

I don't know yet if Laura will be up to cooking together, but I certainly can't pass up this opportunity to make new great stuff, so I'm preparing some things ahead of time. I don't want anyone to have to lift a finger, or go any further than the wine cabinet for the whole weekend.

Naturally, I've planned a week's worth of ideas for just a few days' visit, but alas, I can't help it. As always, I have less time than I think, so I wasn't able to pre-make my blueberry pie bites (or a strawberry substitute I just found that I must try), or do prep work for some wonderful roasted fennel with gorgonzola appetizers, but at least I got the awesome boeuf bourgignon done. Gabriel was with me when I set a cup of cognac ablaze in the pot, and together we cheered while the flames roared. And Julian was delighted to hear about the yogurt mediterranean salad, with cucumber and tomatoes: "that's for me!" he declared.

It's funny that I haven't posted to my food blog in almost a year, yet I've cooked and baked more in the last year than I have in my whole life. Slightly related, I'm also finding more and more fault with my new kitchen, mostly in that the fridge is too far from the sink. This wasn't an oversight; I had a careful plan for the prep area relative to the fridge. Trouble is, it's almost impossible to know what part of the kitchen you'll be drawn to until you're actually in it. Indeed, up until the very moment you reach for that first stick of butter, the plan seems perfect -- but then, as soon as you look for the knife to cut the butter, the plate to put the butter stick on, the bowl into which the slice of butter will go, and the sink that all that stuff will land in in the end, the fallacy in the plan roars in. Overall my kitchen works well, but it really is too spread out.

Not that my double-wide kitchen should stop me food-blogging, but it's interesting that I food-blogged a lot more when I had far far worse kitchens.

Now, spinach carbonara or shrimp bisque tomorrow? Another great dilemma to have. But first, I must make sure to have the goat-cheese salmon dill appetizer ready for their arrival.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

7/20/2010 The parking lot

Today and yesterday, I watched three parents park at the CDC, pull their toddler out of the car, and then walk across the parking lot to the building -- with their kid 5-15 feet behind them. Sometimes the kid kept up, other times the kid stopped, as kids are wont to do, went around in various directions, and then darted across to catch up to the parent.

Meantime, Katrina is strapped into the car, with all the windows open, in the shade, in sight and well within shouting distance. I watch her through the CDC window, or wait outside if the boys have to clean up toys. She's calm and in no danger of being hit by a car.

But these toddlers who are left to cross a parking lot freeform are removed from their parents' car in the interest of safety. Not only is what other parents do legal, but it's claimed to be preferred. What I do is technically illegal, as Katrina is under the age of ... I forget, 6? Of course, I learned long ago as a motorcyclist not to confuse law with safety.

One could argue that the best of both worlds is that the toddler is not left in the car, but also is not left to wander across a parking lot on their own either. Certainly convenience plays a role in my decision to leave Katrina in the car, but more starkly, convenience completely drives parents' decisions not to insist their toddlers hold hands. I know alllll too well how incredibly inconvenient it is to insist on proper behavior with a toddler, which is why I opt out whenever possible.

All in all, I still think my convenience choice is the safer one. The odds of a toddler being struck by a car in a parking lot far, far, far outweigh the odds of a stranger kidnapping. But I seriously doubt the school administrator and principal who chewed me out for leaving Katrina in the car would scold a parent for letting their toddler bumble across a parking lot on their own. If nothing else, there are just too many of them.

Nope, there's no doubt about it. Leaving her in the car is safer and more convenient, since I absolutely will not allow her to enter any parking lot without holding hands. I still insist on this from the boys in fact.

And so ends the indignant rationalization (or is that rant?) of the day.


Monday, July 19, 2010

7/19/2010 Rainbow Ribbon

MORE swim news! Aside from the fact that I forgot about lessons tonight until we got home -- a little late for the mad scramble, but pulled it off and got everyone to their lesson on time. Good thing -- Gabriel had a private lesson, Julian had his second first "red ribbon" class (that is, first on Mondays, new teacher), and Katrina had a teacher she's had since she started. Which by now makes her something of an old-timer.

And today that experience paid off -- she got promoted to the "rainbow ribbon" level today. It's not hard at this stage; I think all it means is that they don't cry in class three times in a row. Still, she was very happy about the ribbon.

More significantly, she put her face in the water again today, a huge step for her.

Julian again did great in his new class, smiling and listening and really working again. But I was dismayed to see the teacher doing an exercise in which the kids hold her arm and she pulls them through the water while they kick. What about swimming for Pete's sake?! Still, overall, after he's picked up a sink ring, or has dived in, he makes his way the few feet to the side of the pool on his own. It's not swimming, but it's not drowning either.

Gabriel, to my delight, actually did swim. He used to take a few strokes, then stop and tread water, put his feet down if he could, or generally make a good impression of drowning, make a dash for the side of the pool, resume a few strokes and repeat the whole cycle. Today no one else in his class showed up, so he had a private lesson and he had to work at it. He saw the whole length of his lane that he could, and didn't appear to need to stop. Great! Unfortunately, he's the one who's dropping his lesson come August.

But I have other ideas too. I ran into my "butterfly buddy*" when I went swimming yesterday, and she told me that during winter, she keeps her 5-year-old daughter tuned up by giving her a private lesson roughly once a month -- that's just enough to keep it on her radar and not have her starting afresh come summer. That's a great idea, for the boys anyway. Maybe next year summer won't creep up on us with rusty swimming.


* a woman I met in the pool when we encouraged each other to do a 50-meter length of butterfly, and I've run into her there twice since.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

7/18/2010 The Caterpillar

Today I was doing some plant-trimming, dead-heading and weeding, and came across a caterpillar on a geranium plant. I called Gabriel right away, hoping this would help relieve his ongoing grief at the loss of his silkworm "Scissors." (And it was a way of transitioning from a morning-long crisis of Gabriel being sent to his room and losing toys and allowance for pushing Julian down the stairs.)

Sure enough, Gabriel was fascinated and excited by the creature. He greeted it tenderly with, "Hello, friend," and then studied it carefully for a long time.

The caterpillar then served to defuse a huge Katrina tantrum too. Dave took Katrina and Julian to a closeby park to practice two-wheeling, which Katrina soon lost interest in. While Julian pedaled around, Dave watched her play on a little playground for a while, but she was furious when it was time to go home. I could hear her screaming as soon as they had rounded the block.

So Gabriel showed her the caterpillar to distract her, which, unlike with him when he was her age, actually worked.

Gabriel supposed it was a silkworm too, but I don't think so. This photo doesn't quite capture it, but it appears to have iridescent dark-blue "eyes."

(Anyone have any idea what this is? I suspect it's pretty ordinary.)

I hadn't expected this about having landscaping and plants -- dare I even call them "gardens." It's a lot of fun walking around and seeing what's bloomed lately, what's changed, what's growing and what isn't. And even finding wildlife too.