Monday, June 30, 2008

"The Best Ham Steak Ever"

These were the words of my love, pontificating about his own cooking talents.

My family and I are all really into the food network. My son actually likes to cook and will often try his hand at new recipes.

My love, on the other hand can usually only handle frozen pizza, or one left over recipe from his college days. He has never been the one to cook in our house.

One fateful day in May when school projects were at their peak, after work was really crazy. I had things going on with the vineyard, was on and off the phone with a winemaker, two kids with stressful projects, and a household that was dying a slow and painful death. This was on the heels of my longest day at work.

When my husband arrived home, I announced he was cooking dinner. It was already seven o clock. He looked disappointed and said he could make a quesadilla. I corrected him to explain he had to cook dinner for all of us because we had not eaten yet. The look on his face, as I started barking orders for him to get out a ham steak and some frozen veggies. I gave him instructions, while typing on my laptop about vineyard business and helping my son with his project. I also informed him after dinner he had to help our daughter with her project, while I continued to assist my son with typing.

It was one of those days that I really questioned the sanity of all we try to do. My husband surprised himself and all of us with an excellent dinner. The only trouble was we had to listen to him expound about what an awesome job he had done.
"It has a great texture, and flavor. This might be the best ham steak I have ever eaten."

He was like a judge on Iron Chef narrating the perfect balance of the meal. He was so proud of his basting combination of black pepper, brown sugar and butter.

Thanks to teamwork we all got everything done that night. The added benefit is that now my love is willing and eager to cook "the best ham steak ever" for dinner once a week or so.

I'm so glad it is summer and we all get a little rest from those crazy over scheduled nights.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Why Me Why Not

A Tribute to a Teacher

Last week while having my teeth cleaned, my hygienist shared that her son had joined a speech club. My hygienist's youngest son is the same age as my oldest, so we often talk about our boys. Her son has struggled with writing and has had some ups and downs in his school experiences. Recently his English teacher had told all the students that if they wrote a speech and performed it they would receive extra credit. All the kids had to write their speech for the title Why Me Why Not. To my hygienist's surprise, her son went on to win speech event after speech event. His speech is a wonderful tribute to the power and influence teachers can have over children. As a special educator myself, I loved the speech and asked her permission to share it on my blog. 

The following is his speech, as he wrote it.

Why Me Why Not

I have a learning disability, when I was seven; I dictated this poem to my teacher. 
The title is I am.

I am
A sloth lying around,
A lion that never gives up,
A tiger running just for the fun of it,
A dog that loves his master,
A clock that never stops tick - tocking,
A little light

My mom loved this poem, at first she didn't understand what it meant, I explained it to her. I will explain it to you.

I am
A sloth lying around that's because I am lazy.
A lion that never gives up, that's because I never stop trying.
A tiger running just for the fun of it, I do things because I want to not for something.
A dog that loves his master, that's because I am very loyal .
A clock that never stops tick - tocking, I like to talk I never stop.
A little light , I am really bright

I really wasn't lazy. I thought I was lazy because everybody told me I was, I couldn't get my work done in school. I had a hard time writing everything. Writing is more like running in circles for me. Try patting your head and rubbing your belly. That's what it feels like every time I write. I have to concentrate so much on writing that I can't think about anything else I try really hard but I never get any where. But I never give up.

One of the reasons I never gave up was a teacher I had, I will call her Mrs. X. When I told her I couldn't do something she believed me. She didn't get mad at me or punish me, she let me finish. Mrs X was the first teacher that didn't think I was lazy she knew I was smart. I worked as hard as I could for her; because she made me want to work hard. Mrs X was nice, she understood me. If she asked a question that I didn't understand she changed the way she asked the question so that I could understand it. She never got mad no matter how long it took me to do something.

I liked being in her class. I liked her when I left her class I felt like I was leaving an old friend. I was sad the last day of school that year, my uncle came by the house and I told him why I was unhappy. He said "your really lucky, I never felt that way about any teacher I ever had". I will always remember her and be thankful to have known her. In some ways a writing disability is horrid, I used to think why me in other ways I'm glad to have gotten to know a teacher as great as Mrs. X so why not?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer Time Bliss

Being a full time working mom in the school system, I am so excited when summer is here. I love lists and getting things done (goal oriented). My kids and I love swimming and love days at the beach as well. I also always have many cleaning out projects and catch up projects planned for summer.

Yesterday, was my first official day of summer. I didn't even look at the list. The kids were out of school midweek, and my last day was Friday. It was a glorious day. A friend who I swap childcare with dropped her kids off in the morning and I greeted her in my robe, which I stayed in until noon. The kids were great and they played well all day. We ran a few errands and ended our day at my friend's pool.

Today my daughter and I will tackle her bedroom. We are planning on taking everything out of the bedroom and then slowly going through and weeding out what we don't need and organize.

Did I mention I love Summer.
My favorite things about summer include:

  • Lots of unscheduled time.
  • Not having to be anywhere in the morning.
  • Realizing I am not a domestic failure. ( my house looks really good most days in the summer)
  • Beach days
  • Pool days
  • Pajama days
  • Organizing days
  • Photo album catch up days
  • Road trips with my kids
  • Creative projects (sometimes painting)
  • No Homework
  • Concerts and outdoor movies at the local park
  • Long days and late sunsets
  • Summer wardrobe .. sandals, shorts, dresses

As Nat King Cole sings ... roll out those lazy- hazy- crazy days of summer.

Friday, June 13, 2008

13 Going on 30

The other day, while channel surfing I found Jennifer Garner portraying the wide eyed thirteen year old in a thirty year old body. I thought she did it justice, but no one can touch Tom Hanks performance in Big.

My thirteen year old has shown me the many sides of a tweener. He is starting to seem a little more like a grown up than a kid, but still so young at heart.

It was the last day of seventh grade and my son had gone home with a friend until I could get out of work. I stopped by the school to pick up his eye drops and the beloved secretary shared her observations of my changing boy, "you know now he is insisting on doing his own eye drops." She mentioned how grown up he seems, and I agreed.

When I picked up my son, we decided his friend should come home with us and hang out. Upon arriving home, the two boys announced they were going to clean up my kitchen. They worked together to straighten papers and return toys to their resting spots throughout the house. They even did a few dishes.

Next,they proclaimed they would cook dinner for the family. They proceeded to cut up potatoes and an onion, defrost some chicken and make some peas. They were so proud and pleased with themselves when they called us all to dinner. I supervised a little just to make sure we had reached safe cooking temps.

After dinner, I told them to go play outside while I cleaned up. Near the end of the dishes, I heard the noise of high powered hoses. Not a good sound where I live, lots of dirt. There they were having a high powered water fight complete with hoses and boogie board shields, a muddy mess!

I smiled before, barking at them to turn off the water. I threw beach towels out the door and told them they had to figure out how to get to the shower with out getting mud on my floor.

I reflected on the magical age of thirteen, old enough to be competent at cleaning and cooking and still childlike enough to enjoy the mud like a five year old.

Yes, thirteen is a difficult age in some ways, full of attitude and adjustments. It is also a magical time, watching your child on the brink of his journey to become an adult. I hope I can remember to enjoy the journey with all it's glory from junior chefs in my kitchen to the mud in the hallway.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wine ... whine ...whine

Selling and farming requires much art and finesse. We thought we had all our fruit sold, until there was a problem with a detail. Now we are looking at another buyer who is interested, but of course there are questions, on both sides. Sometimes the winemaker's needs do not fit the weather patterns and the realities of farming.

Meanwhile, I am on the phone with one of my blogging buddies who is having similar issues working out her children's school schedules. Will meeting the bus for her 5 year old boy, make her late to take her 3 year old girl to preschool? How can she be at two places at once?

Sounds unique and unrelated to my issues with farming, buying and selling, but as I listen it feels so familiar. Timing and setting it all up, it is the same process. Reminds me of a quote that has always made me smile.

"Whenever God Closes One Door He Always Opens Another, Even Though Sometimes It's Hell in the Hallway"- Unknown

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Chicken Pox? But We had the Shot!

These were the words, I was telling my doctor on Tuesday afternoon.

Yes, my Bookworm has the chicken pox and yes she was vaccinated.

I hadn't even considered this when she had a fever Monday and woke up with many bug bites spots in the night.

I became convinced we had a flea infestation from our cats and dog. I proceeded to evacuate the house and set off flea bombs in our living space. My behavior was a little nuts, because our pets are not indoor pets.

My doctor explained that she is not giving the booster shot as much any more because she is questioning the outcome of this vaccination series. I love my pediatrician and totally respect her judgement. I found research regarding breakthrough cases, outbreaks in highly immunized school children between the ages of nine and eleven, and questions about long term effectiveness. While my brain fully appreciated her reasoning, my heart was so mad at her, as I watched my child writhe in pain and cry all night long.

Now, she is much better and she slept though the night. She is still sleeping and we weathered the storm. My son the artist was immunized twice, so hopefully he will not fall prey to the pox at this point. Oh, and as an added bonus we are protected from fleas, that we didn't have.

I will end this post with a quote from my bookworm, " Well one thing mom, having the chicken pox and going through something like that makes you feel like being comfortable is a privilege. It makes you more thankful."

From the mouth of babes. It is so true, I always have a skip in my step the few days following an illness, a temporary appreciation for the feeling of well being.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A New Look

My good friend, a fellow blogger, offered to give me a custom blog design for an early birthday present. Christy at Be Design did a fantastic job. I was so new to blogging, I didn't even know what I wanted. But Christy took my rough concepts and perfected them into this look, that is all me.

What a treat to have good friends to share a new hobby with!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

One on One - no not basketball

Last night, my husband and son had to journey out to see the new Indiana Jones flick. Still too scary for my daughter, we all agreed.

So we girls went out to dinner. As I sat across from my bookworm, it was with pure joy that we ate, talked and hung out. It occurred to me, as it always does that one on one time with people is so pure and precious to me.

Being the youngest of ten, I can easily be the life of a party, but what I really crave is one on one time with individuals. Groups have never been my thing, maybe because I was raised in a large group (ten kids). I absolutely love my big family, and am so thankful for my upbringing. It has always made me value one on one time as a blessing. As a child I did not care to join the girl scouts or any other organized group. Today I am in a mom's group that goes out to dinner once a month. Although, I enjoy all the women there is a part of me that is always wanting to quit. I would prefer to go out to dinner with these women one at a time, through out the year.

So what a treat to be with my daughter and listen to her ideas about PE, favorite super hero powers, kids at school, funny teachers and the rest. I did not allow her to bring in her book from the car, or it would have been like eating dinner alone. At age nine her ultimate list of super powers include (not in order of importance):

*ability to fly.

*ability to talk to animals (including tigers without the tigers eating you).

*ability to transform into things.

*ability to transport (like we could have gone to Hawaii for dinner).

*being able to control the weather including making it snow, which of course would cancel school.

*having a magical car with a center console - you could type in anything you wanted and it would be provided ( her example was a new kitten or an iguana for her brother).

*to own a time machine ( this was a big desire when she was younger and would get hurt, she would lament "I wish I had a time machine!").

I was warned as we left the restaurant this list was not complete yet. As we drove home I was aware that if we all went to dinner, I may have not been provided with this list. I encourage all you moms of multiple children to carve out one on one time with each child now and again, it is so fun to get to know your kids individually.