11 March 2010


(second day in a row: picture above has nothing to do with story below, but it is happy and it was a kind of warm day, so maybe spring....)

It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The temperature has already reached seventy degrees.

I'm warning everyone of the following:

Daughter already has on a spaghetti-strapped tie-dyed dress.

I will be orchestrating outdoor lunch.

We may be building a kite.

I'm going to walmart later - i may buy a spring 'item' or two.

Ada is now dancing through the house singing "spring is almost here"

Eason has formed a chorus of just saying "spring" every few seconds because he cannot keep up with her made-up-off-the-top-of-her-head lyrics.

I need to find easter outfits for the children!

I need to find an easter outfit for me!

We may build kites, just sayin'

Or buy one dollar kites at wal mart!?!

We're cooking out at the cabin tonight! There may be photographs taken of the whole family looking outdoorsy and springy and happy. Very little of it will have to be staged. Because why? we are definitely happy, springy even if it's not quite time, and have an outdoorsy vein in there somewhere that needs honoring.

Spring! Woohooooooooooo! says ada brooks.

Wooohoooo! say I back.

Can we watch just one pink panther before school? says Eason.

10 March 2010

amen to the dinner table

(the above picture has nothing to do with the below story, but it's a good picture and the dinner table in the story is the same dinner table in the picture, and yes, that is eason in ada brooks's senorita dress - what can i say - some friends of his dared him, and he's not scared....)

We are supposed to be an idyllic american family who sits down to eat supper together every night.

We don't. I could hem and haw and justify, but it basically boils down to two facts:

1) Paul's weird-a schedule in which he's tutoring/flute lessoning/going to class/studying, etc., means that he's often not here when the children need to eat and

2) I'm kind of selfish and would actually like three suppers a week to be uninterrupted by spilled milk, requests for second, third and fourth napkins. Basically, I'd like to eat my food while it's warm, and I would like to have a conversation in between bites.

But we do sit down together a lot. And whenever we do, I almost always wish we did it more than twice or three times a week. I wish we sat down and ate and visited and I'll deal with the spilled milk and the nakkins and the ridiculous requests for food temperature change (that almost never get entertained -you'd think they would have quit asking by now....)


When I sit down with Ada Brooks, Eason and Paul, I'm sitting with three of my seven favorite people with whom to have a conversation, and how often does that happen?

Tuesday evening of this week, we did sit down for supper (cottage pie - which needs its own post).

A window into our lives:

Me: "Whose night is it to bless?"

*Silence* (no help even from the co-parent to my left)

Me: "Ada - i don't think you've blessed in a while" (I happen to know I'm a hundred percent right about this - she went through a 'i don't like blessing in public phase' that i've been pretending didn't exist by just nominating her every now and then. And if she declined, we moved on without a fight. some battles I will not pick, by damn. And! It worked! Because she said....)

Ada: "I haven't blessed in a while - I'd love to"

Paul: "Okay - let's bow our heads"

Ada: "well, actually, i have this book of blessings and poems and i was wanting to read a blessing out of there"

Paul: *stifled cursing about food getting cold and how hungry he is*

Me: *who dishes her food out last so it will remain warm the longest* "That sounds awesome" *simultaneously sending a silent elbow jab under the table saying "remember the blessing boycott??? do you? - it's ending! don't ruin it! rraaahhh"*

Ada: "I bet I can be back before you count to ten."

Ada, running back into room, takes 3 excruciating minutes to find the damn blessing that she wants to read.

Paul: *stifled more cursing*

Ada: "I found it. thank goodness. Here we go. 'Blessed are you, Oh Lord our God, King of all the world, Who makes bread grow From the earth.'"

Awkward Silence

Ada: "that was it, but it sure needed an 'Amen' at the end. What does Amen mean anyway?"

Paul: "it means 'i believe'

Me: "i thought it meant 'let it be'"

Eason: "I fink it means 'eat'"

Laughter erupts, clearly.

But....we are not done yet.

Me: "well, eas, i believe i'll have to write that one down."

We've all begun to eat at this point, and after she swallows her next bite,

Ada: "mama - you could just put it on facebook"

Me: "Well, remember - I'm not facebooking during Lent."

Chews, swallows, a few other irrelevant remarks are said.

Ada: "well, mama, that'll just have to be the first thing you write on facebook on easter - it's good enough for that, don't you think?"

So... maybe the grownups should eat with the kids more often....

04 March 2010

gleeful smellovision

no one called. the chickens are the in the oven. no pictures of the process.

darn darn darn.

oh well, they'll still taste so yummy. with roasted herbed new potatoes.

[making things with herbs on the fourth of march is just my masochism coming out. just a few months until an entire array of fresh herbs spring forth on the back deck. until then.... i'll just subject myself to the culinary version of self-flagellation, and make do with dried ones. darn darn darn again.]

I did snap a few of the inside of my oven, but that doesn't really help you.

I mean, i guess it all looks appetizing, but....

I used to have a philosophy professor, Michael Herrington, who incidentally gave me my only B in philosophy while at Ole Miss (he and I were on entirely different wave lengths....). He did say one thing that has stuck with me. He taught me philosophy of war (maybe thats why it was my only B....me and philosophy of war... not so much), and he had us watch some of the great war movies during the semester. In the middle of the beach scene of saving private ryan, he just started shaking his head. He paused the movie and said, "no one can ever know what it's like until we have smellovision"

So... You can never know what these chickens are like until we have smelloblogging.

garlicky lemony goodness is wafting. that's right.... wafting. throughout my house and my life at this very moment. I may never smell the same, but i care not, because i am gleeful with anticipation.

Ada Brooks just read over my shoulder and said, "Mama - i don't know if gleeful is right or not. I mean, I don't know if you've ever been gleeful"

Thanks, Bee.

Eason said, "gleeful - I am gleeful"

Yes, yes you are.


Ada Brooks has never really taken a test before.

First of all, she's in kindergarten, and second of all, she's currently schooled at home, and frankly, i now understand why the 'homeschooling experts' all say that testing isn't really necessary in elementary ages. I really do know what Ada Brooks's weaknesses are, whereas a teacher teaching 20 children has to test, or some will fall through the cracks.

But.... test taking is a skill like any other. And, whether for good or for bad, it's a necessary skill here in America. One day, God willing, Ada will apply to college. Not only will she have to do well on tests to get into college, but she'll hopefully do well enough on some tests to earn some scholarship money.

I don't feel the need to test Ada Brooks weekly so that I'll know which math skills she understands and which ones she hasn't quite mastered; I do feel the need to teach Ada Brooks what it's like to take tests.

And her schooling program, Jackson Classical, also recommends yearly standardized testing, for two purposes. One, as I said, so the first test children take is not the ACT, and two, so that the educational consultants at Jackson Classical can assist parents in interpreting the results to pin point any weaknesses we may not recognize.

So, in April, Ada Brooks will take a first grade level achievement test to see where her strengths and weaknesses are.

But, since she's never seen a multiple choice test question before, JC encouraged us to get a few first grade achievement tests and walk through them with her.

This was our assignment for the morning.

I'm exhausted, and am proud to say that I, a cum laude graduate of the sally mcdonnell barksdale honors college, have missed three of the first grade questions. Perhaps there needs to be some revamping... And perhaps the eleven (so far) grammar mistakes (three of which are in the 'language mechanics' section of the test) need to be removed....

03 March 2010

like brother, like sister, like brother

The other day, I took the children to the park. For the first time (8 months old), Collins was able to sit up enough to really enjoy swinging.

And enjoy it he did.

Loved every second of it.

And after I came home and dutifully loaded and organized the photos, I was looking at them and thought, "i've seen this picture before. But i think there was a dress involved..."

And, due to the modern marvel of digitally storing photos, I didn't have to get in a box in the attic, like my sweet mother has to when she wants to show someone a picture. I just went back to "Spring, 2005" on my computer.

(Admittedly, things used to not be so organized even in my digital world, but this summer either right before Collins came (during the heartburn of night) or right after he came (during the cluster feedings of night), I went through all 6000 digital photos and organized them by season/event. Add a jewel to my crown)

And I found them.

Miss Bee, 9 months, swinging away at our favorite park in Oxford.

I could still just cry at how darling she was. Something about that first one. And that only girl.

Wait... I could cry at Eas and Lins as well.

[was anyone shocked by that "Lins" nickname usage there? I hope not. It's not my fault. Eason calls his baby brother colLINS. And Collins only looks around when the emphasis is on the second syllable. I grieved, and now have embraced. Who cares? His brother is inexplicably kind to him, and so he gets to use whatever emphasis he wants]

But, that sweet girl....she was the first one to break my heart into a million pieces.

And the first one to try to have an opinion about EVERYTHING.....

This is her. Having an opinion. Wonder where she gets it?
Could she talk? Nope. Could she have an opinion? You better believe it.

No...there are no age appropriate pictures of Eason swinging. This is not my fault, though, I tell you. He was born in March. So, when he was 8-9 months old, it was November/December. Holidays and Coldness (as he says now - "i just love the coldness") prevented many trips to the park. It was not my sixty hour a week job that I was working at the time.

Yes, I probably need therapy over my guilt about my sixty hour a week job.

regrouping regrouping regrouping praying praying praying

Now... feeling much better. Guilt - I have conquered thee. For now.

But...i don't feel it's fair not to have comparison shots.

So... As close to eight months as i can get:

Who do YOU think our little Lins favors more? Brother or sister? (there is a debate raging among those who see them most....I'll not tell you where I land)

Ada Bee. (with her Ba)

Eason. See.... Christmas. And he's making a mess. Could he crawl? Nope. Could he make a mess? you better believe it.

And Collins.

One thing is clear. Paul and I make at times painfully bald babies.

The other thing that is clear is that they are all now awake. And hungry.

hearts from forster land.

01 March 2010


I cook often.

And I always mean to take pictures of the food I'm cooking.

But I almost always forget.

So, I can at least review the menu from the past week, and preview the menu from this coming week.

This is helpful to me so I can remember what we liked/what I enjoyed or despised cooking.

Sunday Supper, last week: Roast with twice baked taters. After trying a few different ones, Paul and I have decided that we like my mother's old roast recipe the best. It has red bell peppers, carrots, and a good amount of spice in it. I love twice-baked potatoes, and since I learned how one should really bake a potato (no foil, lots of kosher salt and olive oil rubbed on before it goes directly on the oven rack), they have just gotten better. I try to vary what I do with potatoes, and twice-baked are good if you are not rushed, but I'd have them three times a week if I thought we wouldn't start to dread them like I used to dread oatmeal after my Wilderness Venture when I was 15....

Monday Supper: I cooked at Mama's house (we try to eat with her once a week or so) - Italian Shrimp and Pasta with Cream Sauce. It was actually more like angel hair alfredo. (Mama doesn't like fettucine....don't ask me...). The Italian Shrimp is good - a recipe i've modified out of Square Table, one of my favorite recipe books, but i've found it really hard to get the shrimp done just the right amount. You cannot beat alfredo sauce, and I've got it down to a pretty good science.

Tuesday Supper: Paul has been after me to add some asian-type dishes into my repertoire. I have been a bad wife and been resisting for about a year now, but I've finally given in. So, I read reviews, researched recipes, etc., and decided to try this recipe. It wasn't hard, once I had my mise en place. But that was an endeavor in itself. I had to cut chicken into 1/8 thick slices (so when you stir fry it, it will cook quickly), and many of the ingredients are expensive. But, now we have them, so now, I guess, we can keep adding asian dishes. I served it with fried rice, which was good, but unhealthy, so I don't know how much of that we'll do. But, the kids gobbled up the fried rice, some broccoli, and some non-spicy chicken i made for them.

(i'm philosophically opposed to giving them something other than what we have, but on occasion, i'm aware it would be unkind to force upon them what we're having. the only thing they really object to is something very, very spicy. Which is what this was. very, very spicy)

Wednesday Supper: Generally, each Wednesday, I take off from cooking, because we have pizza or subway with our church family. It is nice to have a day every week that I know I don't have to fix supper.

Thursday Supper: Paul was out of town and Mama took the kids and me to have mexican food out and then back to her house for me to help her chop things to prepare for a dinner party she was having on Friday. So, i prepared a reduction for lemon butter, and chopped onion, garlic and peppers for crab cakes, but ate a bean burrito.... it was culinary confusion!

Friday Supper: Some good friends of ours had us for supper - and wouldn't let me bring a thing. It was so nice to have no dishes to wash and no garlic smell emanating from my pores, but, by Saturday morning I was really missing cooking.

Saturday Supper: We had Bring Your Own Grill Item night. I made garlic mashed potatoes and a capresi inspired salad (fresh mozzarella, vine ripened tomatoes, fresh basil, tossed with mixed greens. A traditional capresi salad is just the first three drizzled with olive oil, and while it makes a great appetizer, it doesn't make a great actual salad). I also roasted some garlic for rolls. Roasted Garlic Makes Everything Better.

Sunday Lunch: We had several friends for lunch - they contributed a salad and dessert. I made Chicken Romano, which is an old recipe of my mothers that we love around here. It's chicken in red sauce over angel hair. I guess it's similar to chicken parmesan, but I don't like a big hunkin chicken breast over my noodles, so i cut it up into strips/nuggets, and then make a sauce from scratch, which is so yummy.

Sunday Supper: We had a super yummy supper last night, if i do say so myself. Paneed Redfish (which is also an adapted recipe out of square table) - with an artichoke crabmeat cream sauce, asparagus, and cheddar risotto. Love risotto. The redfish recipe reminds me of Redfish Anna, a redfish dish at one of our very favorite restaurants in Jackson, Walkers Drive In. My sweet friend brought dessert - this amazing caramel banana pie that involves boiling whole cans of sweetened condensed milk.

Tonight: We are having super easy supper. Cheese ravioli with tomato sauce on top of it. Big green salad. May roast a few heads of garlic. because why? Roasted Garlic Makes Everything Better.

Tuesday Lunch: Swenson's cheese soup, big green salad, paninis. (I'm taking lunch to some old work buddies, so actually making lunch, rather than just scavenging, which is what we normally do 'round here)

Tuesday Supper: At Mama's - I'm probably cooking Spinach Lasagna - her request. It's very labor intensive, so I am almost of a mind to tell her to cook it herself. But, although labor intensive, it is one of our favorites, so I'm up for it. It makes the BEST leftovers.

Wednesday: Again, my night off.

Thursday Supper: Roast Chickens. It's my new favorite hobby. I'll also probably roast some new potatoes, and we'll definitely have lots of green things on our plate, and maybe some carrots. Someone call me Thursday morning and remind me to photograph the chicken roasting process so I can pass on the fun.

Friday Supper: The Children are going to be in Hattiesburg with Paul's parents, so we're probably going to have taco bell. It is our favorite weakness. And I'm hosting a baby shower at my house on Saturday morning, so I really don't want to dirty up a bunch of dishes here.

Saturday Supper: Haven't gotten that far yet. Kidless again, so who knows what might happen.

Sunday Supper: Chicken in Puff Pastry. One of our favorites and I haven't done it in months and months, maybe a year, so I decided it was time to do it again.

whew... Tired now. And hungry.

Roasted Garlic for midmorning snack?