Sunday, July 31, 2011



I would write about my thoughts and feelings 37 years ago, but according to my mother, who had given birth twice in Chattanooga at a very modern hospital, giving birth to me at Decatur General 8 months after they all moved to Alabama was the equivalent of going back in time 40 years and she recalls being knocked out, shaved, woken up sometime later and handed me.  And, she always adds the part about how I was the wrong baby.  Yay!

My doctor said that when I was born, they left the mother anesthetized until the baby pinked up some, that neither of them got enough oxygen during the birth and sometimes the baby was a little brain damaged, depending on how fast they grabbed  the head and yoinked them on out.  It's astounding so many people have walking around sense, but it does kind of make the plots to some movies more believable.

Yesterday, for my pre-birthday, I got dinner and a show, but not in that order.  First, we saw Annie Jr starring Keilee...well, it starred some other red-headed kid who sang a lot and talked about being an orphan.  But mainly, Keilee!  She had 2 parts and sang and danced as both a maid and a person on the street in NYC.

A mass hold-up on the streets of NYC
Not to be confused with Easy Street

Here, the maids all plot their revenge on that evil task master, Daddy Warbucks!

They added this for the stage production.  The maids all turn into zombies and attack Annie, it was very exciting!

Here they all try to be airplanes

Here, Annie sings a song about her dog's oddly flat face

Here, Chan and Kei pretend to be King Kongs

After the play, we headed to Gina's and had dinner and ice cream cake and chatted until after 10. 

The girls had the giggles in a bad way.

In this pic, Kaitlin's grandmother is explaining to Gina how we can't keep Kaitlin forever and she has to be returned before the expiration date.  Gina was not happy, but did eventually give her back.

Today, we got up and headed out to drop Jake off to stay with Evan.  After we got him safely handed over, we went to swim at Thompson Creek.  Well...the creek was dry!  The swimming hole had water from the spring, but it was very low and full of gar.  Eep!

This is a baby blood sucking cone nose.  Squash all of these you see.  This one is dead now.  Little bastards.

See the fluttery yellow butterflies all under the bridge?  Yeah, well squint.  It's those little blurry bits in the dark part.

Swimming hole/gar haven.

Find the frog!

So we headed out to go somewhere else and the van made a funny noise.  That funny noise was a totally flat rear tire.  By the time we got the maypop on, it was looking a little flat itself, so we had to go straight to a gas station-which from Thompson Creek is about 45 minutes.  We tried to patch the tire, but the hole is too big for what we could do on our own, so we had to come on home.  It was way over 2 hours back, driving as slowly as I had to.  Plus Ben and Chan had only come along because we were going swimming.  They were really good sports about missing out, better than I was anyway.  Waaaa.  Stinking rotten luck. 

The nearly flat maypop still up on the jack, I had to drive 30 and it took us nearly 3 hours to get home.

Chan demonstrates why she believes there will never be a Captain Asia.
Back home, I was going to make stuffed shells for dinner and realized...I had bought all the things to make the stuffing, but not the ding dang shells.  *sigh*

Matt ran to buy manicotti, which is as close as the local place can get and he came back with a new string doll, Wakefield, for me.  : )  And he made chocolate cake.  So, it did not TOTALLY suck here at the end of the day.  I just wish I did not have to buy a new tire tomorrow!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lentil Tamale Casserole

Lentils are a legume.  I like making this because I can wander in and out of the kitchen at leisure and still appear to be getting something done.

You need:
a packet of taco seasoning
10 ounces of dried lentil
2 boxes of cornbread mix
an onion
a can of creamed corn
a can of tomato sauce
2 eggs

Lentils, all of them I have ever found, come in 16 oz bags.  If you use the whole bag, you will fall asleep from exhaustion trying to chew the casserole.  Lentils are not for the casual diner and just don't use the whole bag in one go.

Dump out about 2/3 of the bag, there's no need to run around being obsessive about measuring it, into a big bowl and rinse them very well.  Leave them sitting half an hour or so in enough water to cover the top of the lentils. 

Pour out the water and rinse one more time, then dump the lentils into a pot and cover them with the tomato sauce and the taco seasoning packet.

pre-measured items are great!  Recycle!

Stir that all up and leave it on low for 20 minutes to half an hour.  

bubbly tomato sauce, do your magic and soften the lentils that the bag says 'don't need soaking!' and the bag lies, oh how it lies.

While you are waiting, chop up your onion-as much as you want to use-and saute it some in a frying pan with a little butter or spray to keep it from sticking.

If you had an electric skillet, you could do this FIRST and put the tamales and tomater sauce on top of the onions!  I do not have an electric skillet, but I sometimes use the wok to make this and the onions go in first.  I figured more people had a pot and a frying pan than had a wok from 1960.

When that's the way you want it to look, dump it in with the lentil mix and stir.

At this point, you can keep going and finish or you can wander off again while the flavors mix in together a little while.

I am re-reading a book called The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.  I read it several years ago when it first came out and really liked it, but I have forgotten how it ended.  I keep wandering off to read more.

When you have reached the crucial decision to continue with dinner prep, turn the oven on 350 and then you need to get out your blender, the cornbread mix, 2 eggs, milk and the can of creamed corn.  Mix the corn in first, then the eggs and just use enough milk to make it easy to stir.  It's fine with almond milk instead of cow.

I SWEAR I wash this shirt almost daily.  I know it has been in 9 out of 10 photos this summer.  He's not a hobo, he's 11.  Sometimes there is not much difference.
Here, he is not being a hobo boy, he is being the BenBlender 99 model.

Spread the lentil mix out into a casserole dish

mmm, looks like fish eggs and chunks of lard!

The pour the cornbread mix on top.  I used to add cheese to the cornbread, but you really can't taste the difference if it's not in there, plus it adds fat and calories.  I want some flavor in exchange for such things!

It's pretty thick, so spread it out into an even layer.  If you are not ready to cook it yet, you can keep it covered in the fridge in this state for up to another 24 hours.

mmm, purdy!

Once it's in the oven,leave it alone for 20 minutes, then come back and be near-by.
you can peek if you HAVE to

To fill the time while you wait, clean your kitchen

Give Small Dog sprinkle cheese.  Come ON, look at her!


Then check the top.  It should be firm and a fork should come out clean.  This takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes total, it's a mystery why it is so inconsistent.

As you can see, there are poke holes right in the top!  Pooooooooke Hoooooooooles

Once wounded, the lentil tamale's time is short, topped with shredded cheese, sour cream or just a little salt, it will be gobbled up even by those narrow minded people who thought they did not even like lentils.  Pshaw, as if.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Other Photos

Pictures, not by me!

Matt's album cover type shot

Matt's pic of me looking pensive in the fiction section.

Sending Matt off to work the other morning. 

Still a favorite.  We are trying to eat baking chocolate.  Those things are huge.         
Not mine, or my addition, oh, but I love it.
Katy's shot of her 2-year-old's painting 
The shots below are my pics that I altered to amuse to the boys recently.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On Homeschooling

It used to be that being a homeschooler brought a certain amount of respect, that I could call and book a field trip and be greeted with enthusiasm from the other end.  Many places would hold a special homeschool day-and many still do.  But it's becoming less common and in several cases, it's being discontinued.  The last time I made a call to set up a field trip, when the field trip liaison heard it was for homeschoolers, she was not at all thrilled.

Homeschoolers are becoming notorious-not for having poorly socialized children or for wearing out the kitchen chairs or even for all having trampolines or US maps or microscopes or whatever the general population things we all do all day.  We are becoming notorious because of three things, and as a former event planner, I heard this more and more often.

One, homeschoolers will seize upon an event-let's say a trip to the art museum-and sign up to go.  The numbers are turned in to the docent who will lead the tour, a slot is given to the group, more guides are called in if needed.  Then the day before the event, the e-mails start coming in to the trip planner.  Timmy is sick, we need to do more school this week, the van is in the shop, we forgot we have scouts/ball/church/ that evening, it's too far to drive, gas is too high.  Suddenly a group of 60 is a group of 30 and the art museum has called in an extra paid docent to cover the bigger group and is stuck holding the bill.  And that's just the people who bother to let someone know they won't be there. 

Two, homeschoolers are very often late.  It's jokingly called 'being on homeschool time', but it's a huge factor in scheduling group events and activities when people are late.  It throws off the group coming after for the place being toured and it throws off any other parts of the day the trip planner has lined up.  It smacks of disrespect and we are known for it.

Three, in groups large and small, the same thing is happening-moms are clumping together to chat and gossip and the kids are running around unattended.  This is fine at playgrounds and other places where they don't need to be attentive, but it's happening on tours and at classes and other events as well. And our kids are not as well-behaved as we like to think.

I no longer plan events for homeschool groups and we rarely attend them because it's disheartening to put so much work into planning and only two other families show up.  Or to arrive and find the kids running around not paying a bit of attention to the group leader, or to arrive on time and have to wait for the rest of the group to show up, or get started and several people slip in late.

Homeschoolers are becoming notorious for three reasons, but it all boils down to one real issue-entitlement.  We are homeschoolers and believe we are better than public schoolers, we are homeschoolers and your rules don't apply to us, we are homeschoolers and we are special.  No, we are homeschoolers are we are not better than public schoolers, but we ARE better than this.  It's time to make an effort, parents in the generation before us went to jail for the rights we now have to educate our children at home and this generation can't even commit to a date and time on a calendar.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cream of Cabbage Soup

This is very easy to make at lunch and leave in the crock pot for several hours until dinner.  The cabbage needs at least 3 hours to cook down.

 Using extra firm tofu, drain and cube it.

In your crock pot or large pot with a lid, pour in 4 cups of stock and add the tofu cubes.
If you have time, allow to tofu to sit covered in the stock for an hour or so, heat off, just to soak up some flavor.

You can use vegetable or chicken broth, this time I used Thai cooking stock made with lemon grass and mild chili peppers.  Peppers themselves give my stomach fits, but in stock, they don't bother me.

Turn the heat on and start the stock simmering and add a container of cream cheese cooking sauce, they come in several flavors, so just pick one you like.  Or, omit for dairy-free soup.

Once the cream cheese had softened enough to spread a little, add the rest of the veggies:

A bag of frozen peas and a bag of frozen okra.  Fresh works just as well, but frozen is that much easier if you are in a hurry.

If you use frozen okra, look through it for stem ends!  Those are no fun to bite into later.

Chop up a small head of lettuce-something just larger than a softball is a good size in relation to the cream and bagged veggies.  Throw it on top and put the lid on and let everything warm up before you stir it.  If you have to leave for the day and plan to let it cook, go ahead and stir at this point, it's just that frozen veggies and cold cabbage are hard to mix around.

Now it's all mixed together, add a little salt and pepper and put the lid on.  Let it cook at least 3 hours so the cabbage will be soft.  This is surprisingly good, since we came up with it one evening trying to use up a few things before they expired.  I think we had been given a container of the cream cheese cooking sauce and did not know what else to do with it.

It has become a regular staple around here, other than the cream cheese, there's no fat in it and other than salt added yourself, the sodium content can be kept well in hand, too.  Loads of veggies and fiber!  We like it with corn in there, too.