Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When the Cat’s away…

Ryan won’t be home until late so the boys and I decided to break the rules tonight. We had French toast and eggs for supper (Daddy isn’t a big fan of breakfast foods. Fool!) We watched a movie on a school night. A whole movie, and not a Scooby Doo. And when I say “we” watched a movie, I mean the bigguns. I, being the crafter of ingenious plans that I am, caught up on my blogs (they’re like the “soaps” of the 21st century!), started on house chores, and watched American Idol in peace. I don’t need to tell you that there’s a big difference between watching Idol on your own and watching it with three boys who alternately wrestle and impersonate singers – and when I say three, I don’t mean Max – he’s the one who alternately grunts for Mama and impersonates the Hollywood hopefuls.
Moms everywhere must be dying to know how I accomplished such a glorious evening all by myself and all before bed time. My plan? Movie in a tent. I think I’ll patent it and sell it to desperate mothers. Here’s how to execute:
1)      Get boys in shower. Tell them when they’re clean, dry, jammied, and all of their toys are picked up there will be a showing of their current favorite movie…in a way cool tent.
2)      Hang a blanket from the top bunk to create the way cool tent.
3)      Set up the portable DVD player that usually only makes its celebrated appearance on super-long car trips.
4)      Hang the player from the top bunk for its safety (and in hopes that maybe the baby will want in on the movie-away-from-mom gig.)
5)      When boys have washed up and picked up in record time, pop in the movie.

6)      Watch what you really want to watch on the real TV.
7)      Pop popcorn for the peanut gallery to ease your guilt.
It was brilliant. I even got Fussbutt to snuggle in there for a few minutes while I cleaned up the French toast mess. Then he waddled out of the room, searching for his favorite hangout – my leg. So I let him “help” me pop popcorn. By help, I mean, render me a 1-armed wonder. He was back in the tent with a little popcorn for a quick photo-op, then joined me for a Mama’s boy date and an early bedtime. I was back to peace. The only flaw to my plan? Apparantly, I skipped the step where you make the kids go to the bathroom before you start the movie. That way, if they have to pee, but don’t want to miss any of the movie, they won’t just pee their pants and crouch over the wet spot until you happen to peek in, notice their dirty deed, and get seven different kinds of angry.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It Doesn't Get More "Boy" Than This

A look at our afternoon should make it obvious why I adore our middlest. During our few hours in the great outdoors, I witnessed Calvin:
- jumping on the trampoline
- climbing on the garden fence
- climbing on the grape arbor
- cimbing on the goat transport cage thingy
- climbing on the dog box and jumping off...over and over and over...and over
- executing a successful sneak attack and pounce to save my left shoe from Shaky, our canine shoe thief
- running all over the yard in an attempt to rescue my right
- wrestling with Shaky, just for fun

- making important announcements into a large and long piece of PVC pipe
- lapping water from the ditch like a dog (the same water we were fascinated with a few days ago because of the abundance of troll-hair algae)

And he did all this while sporting his dino/monkey jammie shirt (backwards, of course), clashy shorts, and black socks. Gotta pick my battles with this guy...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Signs That Your Little Boy is Growing Up

- He eats more than most teenagers
- He's outgrown half a drawerful of pants in less than a school year
- A classmate thinks he's "hot"
- He notices characters who "want to marry each other" in books--and giggles and rolls his eyes at any interaction they have, no matter how innocent (even the female and male villain are flirting while they scheme about capturing the superhero, apparently)
- He can make his own breakfast, unlock the front door, and start the car
- He talks about his future career and life:

          Reed: When I'm a sherith, I wonder if I'll have a star for a badge or that one other kinda shape like this (outlines shield)
          Mom: I don't know...I think Texas sheriffs still have stars. Maybe you could move to Texas.
          Reed: But then I'll never see you!
          Mom: Well, we'll visit each other all the time. Especially if you have lotsa grandbabies for me!
          Reed: But I'll be busy chasing robbers and solving problems and looking for clues all day. I won't have time to visit you!

We went on a walk yesterday (70 degrees in February?! Hello!!!) We had just tootled up and over the big hill by our house when he announced he had to go to the bathroom--the #2 variety. Being the little bear that he is NOT, he refused to go in the woods. "I wanna go back home," he insisted, so I turned the stroller around. He took off up the hill and shouted, "I'll meet you there in a little bit!" I knew better than to stop a man on a mission, but I also had three major barriers to keeping up with him: a certain stubborn pokey puppy named Calvin trailing behind and two fat butts (Max's weighing down the stroller and mine trying to huff it up the hill). So we sort of just inched along from behind, keeping an eye on my little sprinter as he got smaller and smaller. He stuck to the safe side of the road, then switched to the left side when he crested the hill, just like I taught him. Then he disappeared out of sight without ever looking back. Quite the metaphor, huh? Gotta admit, I had a little moment right there -- and not entirely because of my out-of-shapeness.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Stromboli and Dating Advice

One of the advantages of being a teacher is birthday lunch day. Once a month, my coworkers and I take turns cooking for each other. I’ve gleaned a lot of great recipes this way, but this is probably my favorite. The original recipe is fairly involved, which, in my household means it will never be made again. Its Tobified version is super easy and a fan favorite. Last night the boys were stuffing their faces with the stuff. Literally. This inspired quite an interesting conversation about how a failure to develop one’s table manners will result in one being dateless in high school and, ultimately, dying alone. It sounds depressing, but it was actually quite hi-larious. Our favorite storyline from the conversation: “What if Max went out on a date with…Cara (the youngest non-related girl we could think of) and they went to the restaurant and he pulled out the highchair for her like a nice boy and they ordered Stromboli and the waiter took a long time to bring it out and so he got up on the table and said, ‘Buh! Buh! Buh!’ Cara would say, ‘Take me home! I want to go out on a date with a different boy!” Laughing the hardest at this scenario? Max. Even though over the course of the discussion we came up with a lot of rude things to do on dates, I’m hoping eventually those behaviors will be less comical – and less frequent. Here’s the incomplete list of what NOT to do on a date:
- Dance on your chair or around the table
- Wipe your face on your shirt
- Get all up in your date’s grill
- Crawl on your high chair tray
- Throw all your utensils on the floor one at a time, while saying “Uh oh”
- Meow at and trip the waiter (our pets aren’t off the hook when it comes to table manners)
- Toot in your date’s face (Nope. That’s a piece of human advice.)

Just so you know, these tips were not hypothetical. They were all inspired by real events. Many of them are regular occurrences. And with that peek into life around my dinner table, I’ll move on to the recipe. Maybe I’ll appear to be a little more Supermom and a little less Harried Zookeeper.

- 1-2 loaves frozen bread dough
- Olive oil (or, if you’re feeling cheap, vegetable oil works too)
- Seasonings (I like oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard, and/or sage)
- Meat (I usually use lunch meat and pepperoni, but hamburger, bacon, or shredded chicken or pork would be good, too)
- Cheese (any and all kinds, lots and lots)
- Vegetables (onions are the best, but use your imagination)

1) The morning of, place bread loaves on two greased pans to thaw and rise.
2) When you’re ready to cook, punch down and roll out the dough.
3) Brush dough with mix of oil and seasonings, leaving a half inch around the edges.
4) Load those puppies down with the good stuff, then pull dough around the goodies, and seal the un-oiled parts together.
5) Generously brush the outside of each stuffed loaf with the oil mixture, and place on a greased cookie sheet.
6) If you like burnt cheese, sprinkle a bit on top of the loaf.
7) Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 mn.
8) Serve with pizza or spaghetti sauce to dip in – or throw on the floor.

I’m usually a rigid recipe follower. It drives me nuts when I ask for a recipe and someone says, “You add some Ingredient X with a good amount of Ingredient Y…” Give me some stinkin’ amounts, people! But this recipe is so fool-proof, I don’t worry about it anymore. I dump some oil in a bowl and start sprinkling randomness in. If I have too much, I'll make croutons. But I probably never would have tried this meal at all if the above “recipe” was all I had to start with. So, to that end, I’ll tell you that the original recipe called for:

- 1/3 c. oil, 2 eggs, and 1 ½ t total of seasonings for the basting mix
- 1 lb ground beef and 1 pkg of pepperoni for the meat
- 3 c. total of cheese
- 1 small onion, chopped

Homemade Croutons

Calvin used to call them “croutacos” and Max will go on a hunger strike until he gets more of these babies. I like them because they’re dirt cheap and super yummy!

Homemade Croutons
- 8 pieces of bread
- ¼ c. olive oil
- Herbs and spices
- Parmesan cheese

1) Mix oil and spices and brush onto both sides of bread.
2) Stack and cut bread into cubes.
3) Shake with parmesan cheese in a bag or bowl.
4) Spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees until dry and crisp, about 30-45 mn.
5) Cool and store in an airtight container. Ours are in a cute jar!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Freeze Ball Tag:

- 1-2 balls

Players:- Runners
- Crawler
- Mom

- Runners dash around the house. The object is to hit opposing players with a ball (bonus laugh points for hits that knock players over or for blows to the head). A hit by a ball results in a “freeze,” meaning players may not move (mouths exempted) until one of the following occurs:
1) Another player tags them
2) They touch a ball of a different color
3) A crawler brushes up against them
4) A crawler shuffles into the nearby vicinity and the frozen player reaches out (or walks over) to touch him
5) The frozen player gets tired of being frozen

- Crawlers waddle around chanting “ball” and shrieking. They don’t so much have to follow the freezing protocol, though they are open for ball hits. Runners score double bonus laugh points for head blows delivered to a crawler.
- The role of the mom is to prolong the game as long as humanly possible, so she can frantically finish meals and house chores free from sibling rivalry, persistent snack requests, tattles, and barnacles attached to her leg. To this end, moms may enter play to unfreeze runners who appear to be approaching boredom. Moms, however, possess special “air unfreezing” powers. They need only raise a hand in the general direction of the frozen runner and say, “You’re unfrozen.” Should the mom become frozen herself, she may invoke the “self-healing magic mom” rule.
- The game ends when any or all of the following situations occur:
1) A fight breaks out
2) A crawler gets hungry
3) Someone gets their eye poked out
4) Something gets broken
5) Bed time hits
6) Mom gets all of her work done*
* Theoretically, though this has never occurred in the history of Freeze Ball Tag