Saturday, July 30, 2011

How to Be a boy: Keeping it Interesting

Robert took the boys camping last night. I took the opportunity to reclaim my house and do a little cleaning while they were gone. When I say "a little" what I mean is that I've been cleaning almost non-stop since they left. I only stopped to have a lovely, lovely dinner and general good time with my dear friend. But then I was right back to it. 

The boys will be home in 30 minutes, and so, as I walked past Ethan's room I paused to admire the results of my hard work. The order, the cleanliness, the peace--it was wonderful. 

But wait! What's that?

I'd missed a sock. One sock.

And so my advice to you mothers who are obsessive compulsive enough to clean your teenager's room is this: After you've looked on the floor, under the bed, behind the dresser, and even in the drawers for balled-up, dirty clothes, don't forget to also look UP. Because boys will find all sorts of places to throw their dirty clothes.

As long as it's not in the actual laundry hamper.

That's how they keep it interesting.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

This Thing Is So Over

This summer I've been enthusiastically participating in my library's adult summer reading program (why let the kids have all the fun and win all the prizes). So far I've won two weekly drawings (I get entered with every book review I turn in) and now am the proud owner of a tote bag, a t-shirt and a $20 gift certificate to Chen's Dynasty Chinese restaurant. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for one of the big prizes at the end of the summer, like the Kindle or Powell's gift card.

So I haven't blogged much. But now I have some stuff to say. Sorry if I offend anyone. Feel free to argue with me in the comments if you feel so inclined.

That thing where you make a heart with your hands is so over. It was cute at one time but now it's just old. Just stop taking pictures of yourself doing it, please. 

Also, I'm already getting tired of the feather hair trend. I don't think it's totally over, but get yours quick because the trend will probably be over before that poor rooster tail falls out of your hair. 

And maxi dresses! Do you get the feeling we will all be looking at pictures of ourselves wearing these things in like 5 years and cringe, wondering what we were thinking? 

And Kim Kardashian. Does anyone know how much longer before her 15 minutes are up? I read the other day that she became famous for (and I quote) "being friends with Paris Hilton and having a sex tape scandal." Why are people paying attention to her?

Bacon is so over. It's delicious, but over. The bacon scented candles and aftershave and lip balm and tendency to talk about bacon like it's a drug . . . over, over, over. (My guess is peanut butter and jelly will be the next big food trend.)

I would love to hear what you think is over. Or you can just tell me how wrong I am. Just don't send me a picture of yourself making that little heart and thing with your hands. Please.

And here's a clip from Portlandia about stuff that is over.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Things that Squik Me Out

I finished reading Deanna Raybourn's 5th installment of the Lady Julia Grey Mystery series and entered the general malaise that follows finishing a delightfully engaging book--where I feel like I've just said goodbye to my good friends and won't see them for a long time.

To ease my malaise I went to Deanna Raybourn's blog to see if it was as clever as I'd remembered. It was.

Finally, I saw her post about things that "squick" her out. Squick. I'd never heard that word before, but knew exactly what it meant. I'd been thinking about doing a "bandwagons I won't be getting on" post, but will follow Ms. Raybourn's lead and list a few things that squick me out.

1. Cat food commercials--the ones with the wet, fancy cat food that they serve on people plates with a garnish.

2. Latex balloons. The smell, the feel, the sound. Just, yuck.

3. Bird feathers. I feel like they're riddled with disease. Even if they're not. My boys bring lots into the house thanks to our next door neighbor, the waterfowl hunter.

4. Jeggings.

5. Crazy crooked teeth--the kind that makes you wonder how people eat. Except if it's my crooked tooth, which I'm hoping to use to scare small children when I get old and cranky.

That's a pretty sad little list. Or maybe I just have a strong constitution? Cleaning up after boys for thirteen years must have steeled me to many disgusting things.

Now it's your turn. What squicks you out? Leave me a comment.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bombs Bursting in Air

I really took this picture. I know! I can't believe it either.

We forced the kids, complaining and sulking and whining, into the car and drove downtown to see Portland's fireworks display last night.

"Why are you making us do this?" They asked. "Can't you just leave me here? I don't want to go." We drove down the street just as friends and families around the neighborhood were getting set for their big street firework displays.

I have to admit, it's part of the Fourth of July celebration I love the most--sitting out with neighbors and chatting while the kids get absolutely freaked out with pyromania. Good times. I didn't really want to leave either.

But when the first blasts lit up the barge in the Willamette River as they rocketed into the sky, I was a not a little awe struck. It was super awesome. And loud. Moments before the fireworks started, we could hear the crowd who was watching from across the river at the Blues Festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park start to cheer. I grabbed Isaac and lifted him up so he could see.

Not the best picture--Isaac and Jonah watch the fireworks

We arrived about 45 minutes before the show began and the East Bank Esplanade was packed. Somehow, we managed to worm our way in for a good viewing spot. On the way back to the car after the 30 minute show, the boys half-heartedly admitted that it was kind of cool and they were a little glad we came.

It only took us 50 minutes to get home, which is about 30 minutes longer than normal. I think we can check this off the bucket list and return to our humble street show with a Costco pack of fireworks next year.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Jell-o Project: Strawberry Pie and Fourth of July

And the winner for best use of Jell-o in a dessert is . . . Strawberry pie.

There is only one member of the family who passes on my strawberry pie, and that is my fruit-despising son Isaac. I am comforted only by the fact that one day his taste buds will mature and he will regret the years spent spurning this spectacular fruit.

Strawberry pie makes a great dessert, a fine lunch and a brilliant breakfast. These fruit gems don't last long, so you need to ingest them while you can before they're gone. Here's how to make my strawberry pie. Okay, it's really my mom's strawberry pie, but I've made this pie so many times this summer, I think I can claim it as my own.

One pie crust
4-5 cups of in-season, local strawberries, washed and hulled
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 TB corn starch
3 TB strawberry Jell-o
2 TB corn syrup

Bake crust while you prepare strawberries by washing and hulling. In a saucepan, combine sugar, water and cornstarch and stir over medium high heat until thickened and boiling. Remove from heat and add 3 TB strawberry Jell-o and 2 TB corn syrup. Stir to combine. Cool slightly, then mix in strawberries to coat and dump strawberries and sauce combo into pie crust and refrigerate for about 3 hours until set. Serve with whipped cream. NOT COOL WHIP.

Make this pie during strawberry season. That means June if you live in Oregon. Please do not make this pie in November with rock-hard strawberries that were grown in a lab in Argentina. The pie will not be the same. Use berries that are local, that you pick yourself or get from a fruit stand, and that are so juicy and fragile they will only last a day or two in the fridge before going bad.

I made this particular pie with berries from Mark's NW Fresh Produce where I won a whole flat in their weekly Facebook drawing. So. Awesome.

I love strawberries.

Friday, July 1, 2011

How to Be A Boy: The Quiet Game

When you are riding in the car, a good game to play is "The Quiet Game." It's especially great if your little brothers' gibber jabber is driving you nuts. Here's how you play:

Ethan: Let's play the quiet game. Starting . . . NOW! (Two seconds later) Pause--there is no touching anyone else--un-pause. (Two seconds later) Pause--no coughing or laughing either--un-pause. (Three seconds later) Pause--and no more pausing allowed--un-pause.

Isaac: (Ten seconds later) Hey Jonah, can I borrow your . . . .

Ethan: Isaac loses!

Isaac: No fair! I didn't even know we were playing! Mom!!!!

Ethan: Okay, we'll start again. Starting . . . NOW!

(The view in the rear-view mirror shows three boys sticking their tongues out and making other funny faces at each other. They wave their arms inches from each other's faces, but without actually touching. They bob and weave and do everything they can without making a noise.)

Jonah: (13 seconds later, huffs audibly)

Ethan: Jonah loses!

Jonah: That's not fair! I was just breathing. Mom!!!!!

Ethan: Okay, okay. We can play again.

And the quiet game continues. Somehow, mom has found her happy place and hasn't crashed the car in a fit of insanity.