28 October 2010

Food 10/29 through 11/4

Friday: Helping a friend throw a costume party to celebrate her brilliant husband. I'm doing a vegetarian white bean & black bean chili (cue Michael Jackson), a miniature version of these cupcakes, and some other snack foods!

Saturday: We have our church's Reformation Day Party (no coincidence that Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door on Halloween - All Hallows Eve - eve of what? All Saints Day - a beloved church commemoration of all the Saints that have gone before us in victory).

At the party, there is a red beans and rice cook-off.

That I may have orchestrated.

So, I'm making red beans and rice for lunch. Also, I need to make a rum cake for the cake walk and a rice krispie treats for prizes for the three legged race. For supper, we'll trick or treat around the neighborhood, and then perhaps collapse into a pile of $5.00 Little Caesar's pizza. I'll be cooking all day today, all day tomorrow, and then setting up and helping run the Reformation Party all day saturday, then trick or treating. I ain't agonna cook supper Saturday Night.
Not gonna do it.
Wouldn't be prudent.

Sunday Supper: Herbed Italian Shrimp, Fettucine Alfredo, crusty French Bread, Salad.

Monday Supper: Chicken Enchiladas to my mom's house. Where hopefully she will provide salad, bread, dessert.

Tuesday Supper: Paninis, Cheese Soup (My friend Jessica gave me her Swenson's Cheese Soup recipe a while ago. It is amazing. And breaks all of my (and if I had to guess Jessica's as well) culinary guidelines, but every now and then, you just need to do it. If you don't know what Swenson's cheese soup is, I pity your soul).

Wednesday Supper: Pizza at Church

Thursday Supper: I'm going to a girlfriend's house to have a small going away get together for a friend who is moving to Cleveland, Ohio. I'm going to take a chocolate chess pie, and some spicy onion dip. Others are bringing other things. It'll be a smorgasbord (orgasbord orgasbord). I'm hoping there will be leftovers for the family, but if not, I'll pull out frozen cheese ravioli, boil it, and pour some jarred spaghetti sauce over it. Not ideal, but better than McDonalds, something out of a can or a box.

I heart food.

26 October 2010

Victory over the Halloween Curse.

Halloween is great fun at our house.

I grew up viewing it as great fun, and nothing more and nothing less. Anything 'scary' about halloween was always viewed as in good fun - we didn't believe that there was anything actually scary - we all knew that was ridiculous. It was just an excuse for fun. And we all know that I'm for that.

We dressed up, carved pumpkins, trick or treated, and that was that. And at least one year our dear family friend Jonny sat on our roof and dropped a coat hanger ghost down on any trick or treater above the age of 11. Now that was fun.

I don't remember any particular battles over costumes with my mother. She ruled (rules?) with a quiet, meek, iron like no other iron fist. I don't think that, until I was 14, I did anything she didn't perfectly will for me.

And by the time you are 14, you are so immature that you think that avoiding things like dressing up on halloween actually makes you more mature... dumb teenagers.

So, my point is, I don't think I ever, ever said, "Mama- I want to be x for hallween" without her having planted the seed, and by the time I had enough of a rebel in me to attempt to thwart her will, I was 'too old for such frivolity' - how pitifully boring that is.

This is not the case at my house.

My personality is very different from Mama's, and I continually make the mistake of trying to involve the kids in decisions about things like what to put on their Christmas lists, what they're going to wear to church on any given Sunday, and what to be for Halloween.

See, I'd like for them to get to pick.

But then, they might mess it up... =)

We have procrastinated about Halloween costume decision making this year.

Yesterday, while the boys were sound asleep napping, I said, "Okay Bee, come sit down with me - let's figure out what you and the boys are going to be for Halloween."

(She and I both agree that until the wills of the boys are stronger, they should be just used as props, or rather sidekicks, to whatever she is going to be - yes, eventually, Eas will want to be a transformer or something - even when Ada says "But Eason - I need you to be a knight in shining armor and rescue me, the princess, from Collins, the dragon" Where as now, Eason says "Okay, that sounds like a great idea!!! to whatever, and when I say whatever, I mean anything that she suggests. I asked him what he wanted to be the other day, and he said, "I don't know, Ada, what do you want to be?" Do you remember that scene in the the animated jungle book when the vultures cannot decide what to do? If not, go watch it here. This is Eason in a nutshell.)

So Bee and I sat down. She says "Mama - I'm six now. I want to be something scary this year."

A few years ago, she was a bat. She was darling. Some friends sewed her an awesome bat costume (with hot pink accents). I feel like a bat is the perfect line between sweet and scary, right?

The year after that, she and her then 20 month old brother were both pumpkins. Come to think of it, Eason has been a pumpkin every year since birth....

Last year, two of my favorite people on earth RUINED HALLOWEEN by getting married. As if Holy Matrimony is more important than costuming. Seriously?

hee hee.

So, none of the kids dressed up.

But this year, Bee wants to be 'something scary' -

I'm not opposed to scary things for halloween. I rather think it's appropriate and fun, especially as the kids get older.

But, I'll admit two things:

1 - I don't like the idea of my 1 & 3 year olds being scary. They are not scary. They are sweet. And should dress accordingly. And if she's something scary, there is no way to forbid the 3 year old. It ain't happenin'.

2 - There are people who don't like Halloween. Because of all of the wrong-headed-creepiness that goes along with Halloween. When the little girls are fairies, we can call it fall festivaling, but when the little girls are witches, well, then it's too close to devil worship. And children being scary things sends them into not-liking-halloween fits. And fits are no good.

The best theological treatment refuting this view I've seen is here.

Anyway, though I disagree with the view that Halloween should be avoided because it somehow belongs to Satan or is used as Satan worship or what not, I respect that for years in certain churches and cultures in the South, this was the belief. And when you are told something for 40 years, it's really hard to start unbelieving it. And, even if you unbelieve it in your head, it's hard not to cringe - when - say - little people dress up as scary things.

And I see no reason, if we can avoid it for a few more years, not to save folks the cringing.

What were the two options she threw out?

A Vampire.

A Devil.

I object to the vampire because, well, I don't want anyone on the sweet earth thinking that I've allowed my daughter to know about the current teenage vampire obsession. Yes, I've kept all references to Twilight and Twilight-esque things out of her bubble. And I don't want any confusion on the point. She's too young for anything in that realm, and it's stupid to boot.
She knows about vampires from references in literature (like real, old-timey literature) and from the Count on Sesame Street. So, I kaboshed the vampire idea.

I don't object to dressing as the devil. I did it when I was 7 or 8, and I think she'd be darling, funny, and what better way to mock Satan than to dress up pretty little people in red horns and leotards. Plus, I like the irony of kids being dressed up as 'little devils ' - you know, since that's what they are.

But, I don't like the idea of Eas and Collins as devils, and they really, really want to match their sister.

And I think some people I really like and admire would cringe because of the aforementioned prejudices against scary costumes on children.

So, I kaboshed the devil, but I had a harder time with this one.

I'm still tired.

But I won. I had victory. I mean, I can always win by saying "No. I said no, you will obey, and that is final." But I feel like that's like walking the guy who with the highest batting average. It's necessary sometimes to the victory, but it should be avoided if possible as a bit of a cowardly move. It's so much better to pitch to them and have them strike out.

(Is the 'out' in strike out functioning as a preposition? I don't think so - I think it's either part of the verb - you cannot say, 'I struck' - you have to say, "I struck out." Or maybe it's an adverb, but of course prepositions are usually part of adverbial phrases - aaahhhh.)

I talked her out of it. Like she doesn't want to be a devil anymore. When she's 8, if she still wants to be one, she can be.

One small victory for me; one giant victory for mothers everywhere.

23 October 2010

Food 10/22 through 10/28

Friday Night: We had a bunch of the kids' friends (and maybe their parents, who happen to be our friends....) come and carve pumpkins. I roasted a pork shoulder for pulled pork sandwiches, made baked beans and slaw. The children who came contributed a beautiful fruit platter, two different guacamole based dips, a perfect chocolate cake, and the most wonderful oatmeal cookies ever.

Saturday Breakfast (yes, breakfast): We joined some of the sweetest people ever on their land to feed their pig, meet their brand new baby goats, love on the cow, and ride horses. They invited us for a breakfast first - and I just have to tell you that farm life may be the best life. Fresh from the chickens scrambled eggs, zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, bran muffins with raisins and nuts (all from flour she ground herself), mimosas, coffee. Best eggs of my life, hands down, no contest.

Saturday Lunch: I roasted enough pork for us to take to our friends for a picnic lunch, so we had that again. But it's good enough that we'd eat it over and over and over again.

Sunday Supper: Shrimp and Potato Porridge - one of our absolute favorites. It's a very heavily modified Paula Dean recipe, but I feel I should give her credit, because I never would have thought to put shrimp with potatoes. I'm also going to make boiled custard for dessert. Don't ask me why I'm wanting boiled custard, but I am.

Monday Supper: Bean Burritos. We made it three weeks this time, I think. But maybe I'm overestimating...

Tuesday Supper: Spicy Spinach Lasagna. (Red Wine Sauce for which is pictured above). A family favorite. A recipe I've modified given to me by Ada Brooks's dear godmother, which was recipe she had modified. Fun Forster Culinary Fact: It is the only dish for which I've ever used marjoram.

Wednesday: Subway sandwiches at church. Paul is already excited. He's a ridiculous person.

Thursday: Goat Cheese and Asparagus Linguine. Another modified recipe - the origins for which I've forgotten, but it's good, and I haven't made in a couple of years, I don't think.

After typing this up, I'm realizing why my grocery bill was so low this week - no meat.... (The pork was in the freezer).

Now, if only I can come up with a halloween costume idea for the kids. Paul and I have ours down, and we're excited about it... You'll have to wait to find out they are...

In suspense?

mwah ha ha

21 October 2010


About four months after I got married, I took a full time job working for a law firm - doing witness interviews and managing the organizational/logistical side of massive litigation.

I did this for two years - working anywhere from 45-60 hours each week.

I'm still tired.

And I don't really remember Eason from 3-15 months.

Guilt, much?

But anyway - when you work a traditional job, you usually get a lunch break, an afternoon cigarette break (or, in mine and a few of my coworkers' cases, what we dubbed a NSSB - a Non-Smoker's-Smoke-Break), all national holidays off, and a certain number of personal and sick days each year.

But nontraditional job holders have fewer of these rights that others have. No one swoops in at noon each day to take over my household duties - to teach the eldest, feed all three, fold the clothes, do the 17th load of dishes that week so far.

It's a travesty, but it's true.

So, at some point post my traditional job, well into my non-traditional one, I established for myself what I called a "lunch break, dammit" -

Each week day afternoon, I feed the kids lunch, and either tuck them in for a nap (both boys), or shuffle them off to reading time (bee), and then I fix my lunch, sit down in front of hulu.com, and take 30 minutes to an hour off.

No matter what the kitchen looks like.

No matter what the laundry situation is.

No matter how much school we've gotten done that day.

Well, because it makes me a lot more likely to want to kiss my husband when he gets home, rather than, you know, murder him in his sleep.
It takes away any resentment that has built up that morning.
It makes me happier.
It gives me an opportunity to breathe and refuel before the afternoon cranks back up.
It is good. Wait, it is awesome. And necessary.

And, because, even in my busiest time of working - when I was getting there at 6 am and leaving no earlier than 630 pm, no one in their right (or even wrong) mind, was expecting me to not eat lunch. And not just cram it in my mouth as I was running from file room to law office to a phone call with yet another witness who needs to change his testimony time - no - I got a lunch break. Occasionally, it was a lunch meeting, but most of the time it was a break.

It's right. It's fair. And it's normal. Why should my now-more-hours-a-day-than-any-other-job-save-perhaps-medical-residents job not afford me the same luxury?

And when else would I watch Community?

19 October 2010

our confident child

Good marriages have certain things that make it easier for the two people to stay connected to one another.

You know what I'm talking about -
Some couples have a common career (They are both pharmacists).
Some have a common interests (They both love classical music).
Some have an unusually strong sexual connection (I'll not provide an example here).
Some have common goals (Eradicating hunger).
And there are lots more.

Most marriages, I'd venture, have elements of many different of these things.

One of mine and Paul's strongest connective tissues is our common education. We graduated from the same college, in the same honors program, started and finished in the same year, with almost the exact same degree (Mine in both PoliSci and Philosophy, his in PoliSci with a minor in Philosophy. Yes, I was more academically ambitious. And his GPA was quite a bit higher... ).
We even had the same thesis advisor.

We studied together long before we were in love. (Well, he'll tell you he was always a little in love with me, which will, of course make me grin from ear to ear).

Because of this common education, we have a lot of the same memories. The same memories of friends, of experiences, of amazing moments in mock trial tournaments.
But, most connective, I think, is that we took a lot of the same classes from the same professors.
And we were studying ideas.

And we remember most of it still. Ask us again in 20 years, but for now, we can make reference to one another important ideas, people, books, essays, and each person knows exactly what the other is talking about. Our education wasn't comprehensive, but we have almost all of it in common, so we're always on the same page.

It is one of the many ways God has blessed us.

All that to say, yesterday, we were all five driving along. The kids were talking about God (which is always funny and oftentimes great). Eason said, "God can do anything! He is so powerful!" and I, leaned over to Paul and said, "I don't know... can God create a stone so heavy he himself cannot pick it up?"

Paul and I laughed. In our philosophy classes, that was one of the standard examples of how sometimes God's different attributes seem to be in conflict with one another or with logic. If the answer to the question is No, God cannot do that, then he is not all powerful. And if the answer to the question is yes, then he is not all powerful, because now there is something he cannot pick up...

I was talking to Paul, but the kids heard me.

Eason said, "God can do anything - he can create the big rock and then he can pick it up." Eason does not get the nuances of (albeit fruitless) philosophical exercises.

Then I said, laughing with Paul some more, "Yeah - can God create a square circle?" (Another of these (silly) attempts to prove that an all-powerful God doesn't make sense).

Well, this time, Ada Brooks chimed in.

"Mama - I don't see why that's a problem. Of course God can create a square circle. I can create a square circle."

I thought, "She doesn't have any self esteem problems."
But then, maybe she does: a little too much of it.

My daughter: not thwarted by logical impossibilities.

18 October 2010

The Opposite of Brutish

We are at the beginning of holiday perfection. Get ready. It's coming. And it's awesome.

We've Halloween plans in place - for kids and adults.
We've Thanksgiving plans in place (Fifth annual Cooking of the Entire Feast at my House).
We've even a few Christmas items on the calendar. (Don't laugh - only one of them is my doing).

I surely do love the Holiday season.
And yes, I admit, a big part of that is the food.

But an even bigger part are the rampant excuses to celebrate. In my old age (ha), I've come to really appreciate and desire any excuse to celebrate.

Thomas Hobbes, in Leviathan, famously said that life is 'nasty, brutish and short' - the full quote is even more distressing - "...the life of man: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short..." - Cheered up, much?

This is taken out of context all the time. He's not actually talking about our life now, but life in the (post-eden) state of nature, in which we, fortunately, do not currently find ourselves.

(Leviathan, the book, incidentally is nasty and brutish, but only because of how not short it is - but it should be read - yes, at least big chunks of it. But I've read it, so now I don't have to - nannynannybooboo.)

Why do we not find ourselves in this state of nature?

Hobbes is talking about it from a political/philosophical stand point - we remove man from the nasty state of nature by forming social contracts (John Locke builds largely on Hobbes's work), basically, "I won't kill you if you won't kill me. I won't take your crops if you won't take mine."

Paul and I quote to each other that nasty, brutish and short bit a lot - you know - when Bee is struggling not to sob over her leggings being 1.3 inches too short, when Eas has fallen off the same stool seven times now, or when the baby has run out of cheerios and LIFE IS OVER.

So, most of the time, hubby and I are saying it tongue in cheek.

But it is more than a joke - it is, what we would be, without redemption.

We are redeeming the world from what Hobbes calls the state of nature; I believe this is an extension of and our response to Christ's redemption on the cross, but regardless, it is us - redeeming every moment.

That's our job. Redemption. Redeeming this world.

And yes, a lot of that is big work. A lot of it is restoring things that have gone seriously awry.

People don't have food. People don't have shelter or clothing or medicine.
There is racism, hatred, bigotry.

It's all enough to make a woman cry over her morning homeschool materials.

But we are not called only to restore life to merely livable.
Livable is not the goal.

What is the goal?

Nothing short of glorious.

I have a dear friend who is a perfectly competent cook - I'd gladly eat a meal prepared by her, and look forward to it, any night of the week. But she doesn't think of preparing food as potentially glorious like I do.

But you know what she can do? Arrange a few flowers into something that is, in a word, exactly that - glorious. And I can put flowers together perfectly competently. Really I can. But no one is ever going to say, "Ann Lowrey - that is glorious."

Redemption is two fold - fixing the errors of the world we live in - feeding the hungry, healing the sick, loving the unloved.
But it is also making everything - each ingredient, each flower, each moment better. More glorious.

It is this drive to redeem that prompts the creation of most art, music and food. It is this which drives us to put pretty dresses on our little girls.

And you know what the holidays are? an excuse to do that more. Yes, you could have a mid-june jaunt or a late-february feast. But from late October through early January, everyone is ready to celebrate.

To laugh. To feast. To eat, drink and be merry.
To serve. To give.

We're all primed for it.
We're all ready to redeem.

And that is why I love the Holidays.

So, get ready.
For menus and crafts and stories of beautiful, priceless children.
For costumes, for tricks, treats.
For homemade turkey placemats and nine different side dishes.
For precise and extensive present lists, traditions, hot chocolate.

Holidays are the opposite of Brutish.
I'm pumped. Are you?

16 October 2010

Food 10/15 through 10/21

Friday: October Dinner Party for 8 night. We had:
1: Shrimp Cocktail (so retro. almost kitsch.)
2: Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese (which Paul cannot hush about this morning. bragging husbands are awesome.)
3:A yummy salad, the recipe for which I'll post soon, because I really liked it (Paul did not brag about this. Must have been the Craisins, Pears, Apples...), Twice Baked Red Potatoes, Glazed Carrots
4: Orange Tequila Mint Sorbet
5: Beef Wellington. Google it. (Or I can just tell you. Filet of beef seared, then wrapped in puff pastry with a Mushroom Duxelles and baked, served with Bearnaise sauce, which takes forever to make from scratch, but is so worth it - really)
6: Caramel Apple Cheesecake. (The recipe for which I made up on the fly on Wednesday afternoon - making me feel like a real cook).

Some friends brought beer. Others brought wine. We all feasted on God's bounty.

Saturday: We are kidless. We are going out. Even if it's to Taco Bell to save money. I don't care. I'm not eating in my house tonight.

Sunday: I was going to make shrimp pasta, but I learned how to make Beef Wellington at Viking Cooking School, so I thought I might continue the Viking trend and have Shrimp and Asparagus Crepes, which I also learned there. Especially since a sweet friend brought me some non-homogenized, fresh milk from Alabama last week, and I'm kind of dying to see if it makes a difference in a white sauce... (nerdy cook alert).

Monday: Black Bean Soup and Cuban Sandwiches (We were supposed to have Black Bean Soup this past Thursday, but I was a bit under the weather, and my blessed mother called and said she'd spring for Pizza if we'd pick it up and come see her. And when your mother says that, and you have three small children, guess what? you DO IT. So now, since ingredients for BBSoup are all nonperishable, we're having it for supper on Monday. And I have, for the first time in the short history of roasting pork for Church suppers, some left over pork, so I'm making Cubans to go with the soup)

Tuesday: Standard Spaghetti - it's been too long.

Wednesday: Supper at Church

Thursday: Chili and Hot Dogs. Yes, one may feel free to make this into a chili dog. But... I love hot dogs on the grill. (and only on the grill...) And I love chili. But sometimes, I just like to keep them separate.

14 October 2010


The annual Forster/Eason family fair trip gives me lots about which to write.

I could write about the annual picture of me at the top of the hill with the kids. I have all these perfect childhood memories of picking up my father at the Trustmark building on Amite street (we'd have to bring him fair clothes - because he forgot them every year), and then making the block, parking as close to this hill as we could, and walking down into paradise.

I could write about how husbands should tell their wives when to push up our glasses.

I could write about how my daughter sneaked in quarters for the petting zoo animal feed dispenser, and when asked about it, she said, ""Well, every year you say you don't have any quarters, so I brought some- just in case"

I could write about all the, quite literally, perfect moments watching the children ride.
I could write about how brave my baby was when the bizarre foreign cow tried to eat his foot.

I could write about how this is what my mom and Collins and I did much of the night - took the opportunity to visit.

I could write about how these two men in my life look alarmingly alike - both now and in baby pictures - but have very, very different personalities.

I could write about all of the scary, safety issues you spot at the fair.

I could write about how this three year old now reminds of me of

this three year old
just three short years ago.

I could write about how the 20 minutes of rain drove away the crowds, making our fair trip amazingly cool and low on people, but also making the big yellow slide unrideable, forcing a return weekday trip to the fair, because, well, I don't not ride the big yellow slide.I could write about the fact that when this is one of the least disconcerting things you see, you know you're at the Mississippi State Fair.

But instead, I'll leave you with something to ponder. Study this picture.

Yes, a Donut Burger made out of Doughnuts makes no sense.
And the fact that they named the snake lady "Serpentina" is so ridiculous it's difficult for me to handle.

And yes, the idea of a two headed baby is quite disturbing.
And the fact that they gave each head a name of a former King of England is funny.

But the real question the fair poses this year.

The one that may have had me staring at my ceiling last night, despite a particularly strong, hot cup of Celestial Seasonings' Sleepytime Extra.

What is, exactly, a Two Headed Baby FASCIMILE?!

The Fair:

It is gorgeous.
It is perfect.
It is nostalgia inducing.
It brings together families.
It puts smiles on the faces of friends.
It makes you fat and happy.

But most of all...

It makes you wonder.

13 October 2010

a funny

At the state fair last night this sign was photographed.

I'll write more about our amazing trip to the fair later - and all of the nostalgia involved - and have pictures of the kids having the times of their lives, but for now I leave you with this culinary disaster.

A Donut burger -

Made from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Beef Patty, Cheddar Cheese, Bacon and your choice of Lettuce, Tomato, Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Pickle, Onion and so on and so forth.

Gives a new dimension to fair food.

12 October 2010

Toasted with Swiss Cheese, please

Well, how would you like to have someone come along and pick something off of you?
Oh dear! I keep forgetting I'm not in Kansas!

It's apple season. I heart/love/am obsessed with apples.

When I was in first, second and third grade, I took apples to school every day in my lunch. And then dipped them in ketchup.
How gross is that?

I was ridiculed. But I was stubborn and stuck by it.

Gross Gross Gross.

But anyway, apples are amazing.

And come October, I want to cook apples - I love sauteed apples with cinnamon and butter and sugar; I love apple pies; I love apple cakes (I made one just this weekend - with cinnamon cream cheese icing) - it is still being yummy.

Paul loves apple cider.

The kids love apples. Period.

I love apples and peanut butter - a snack my dad taught me to love - I am forever indebted.

But you know what else I love?
Tuna Salad.

yes, because the best bites in tuna salad are crisp, cold Fuji or Gala apples.

My sweet Paul and I disagree vehemently about this.
No fruit salads -and that includes Tuna Salad.

But, he's wrong.

Anyway, Ada Brooks requested Tuna Salad for lunch today.
By the time she made such a request, she had opened a can of tuna, so I couldn't exactly turn her down.

4 - 5 oz cans of white tuna (get dolphin safe. really. they've probably killed dolphins in the process still, but if it's not dolphin safe, it means they've specifically targeted dolphin populations to find the tuna, and that's an ugly thing to do - it's bad stewardship and it's the worst kind of dominion over the creatures)

approximately 1/3 cup of lite mayo (When i make chicken salad, i often make my own mayo. It's easy, and is reason number 145 to have your own food processor. But with tuna salad, the tuna taste is so strong that making one's own mayo would be a waste. In this case, it's just serving as a binding agent)

1/2 of a large fuji or gala apple (red delicious and golden delicious will be a bit too mealy and granny smith will be too tart - others might work, but I can always get a fuji or a gala, so I don't usually experiment)

3-4 Tablespoons of sweet pickle relish (now, here, I'll make a confession. I always put about 2 T of regular sweet pickle relish, but the other 2 T are my homemade hot/sweet pickles chopped up really finely. This is what makes the Tuna Salad epic. If you want some pickles for your tuna salad, run by here and honk, I've got a gallon made up right now - I'll run out a jar to you)

Generous sprinklings of Salt and Pepper. Especially Pepper.

Do not put egg in your Tuna Salad.
Do not put celery in your Tuna Salad.

(Well, you do whatever you feel like, but I'll roll my eyes).

Best served cold over a pile of greens, beside wheat crackers.
Or best of all with a slice of swiss on good, buttered wheat bread toasted in the toaster oven on both sides.

Do not make your tuna melts with American Cheese. Even though I eat them greedily like that from Brent's Drugstore - that doesn't mean other people can get away with that.

And now I sit down to this, with a diet sunkist and an episode of Monk.

Thank the Lord for apple season. And for naptime.

switch 'em around?

There are all sorts of studies on birth order - some claiming it absolutely has a very large effect on our personalities, and others claiming it is merely pop culture silliness - is actually not affecting anything at all.

Come to my house. I'm a believer.

See the above picture. This is one of 800 some odd Christmas Card tries from last year. Do you see the eldest child? Holding a perfect smile and maintaining eye contact with the camera. You kind of want to tickle her. Do you see the second child? Swinging his body around the chair, sticking out his tongue, and completely forgotten about the camera altogether. Do you see the baby child? Tortured and uncomplaining. One day, he'll resent this, and so we'll let him get away with murder...

Paul and I are both first children.

And we, especially Paul, are both typical first children. Paul is academic, driven, energy filled, conscientious, hard working, self-disciplined, a natural leader - and on the less flattering side - rigid, bossy, patronizing, and thinks he should probably just take over most things.

[And yes, sometimes he thinks he should take over things from me - which leads to all sorts of lovely conversations - "Paul, I think I've got the pasta boiling under control....."]

I also have most of these traits, but I'm not very self-disciplined or rigid. Wonder what happened with that?

What is it about being born first that leads to these? Paul and I are not the only ones. I have a list a mile long in my head of only children, eldest children, middle children, baby children who all typify their birth order roles. And yes, there are people who don't - baby children who are neither sweet nor spoiled, eldest children who are weak and easy going, middle children who are perfectly conventional and shy, only children who are considerate and insecure. But, by and large, this birth order thing does seem to mean something.

Birth order affects when women first have babies:
Graph showing average age at maternity in Canada over the last 60 years - as it relates to birth order. We first children - we gotta quit having all these babies so early.

And in this Time article, all sorts of things are linked to birth order - IQ, size, tendency to be in congress, tendency to be willingly arrested, etc. etc. etc.

So, what happens to make us this way. It's not as though our genetic personalities are affected by birth order (right?). It's all nurture, circumstance, experience.
An eldest child acts like an eldest child as an adult because of her experience in her household growing up (although some experts say it continues throughout life - basically, I am still being formed into an eldest personality - a theory, in my particular family, I tend to buy).

Anyway, Sunday afternoon, we asked Six Year Old First Child (bee) and Three Year Old Second Child (eas) to go clean their room.

Conflict abounds! The same conflict. Each and every time we send the two of them to complete a task. Every single time. Go get ready for church. Go clean your room. Set the table. Peel the garlic. Take a shower.

Bee starts to clean. Eas starts to dance around the room, build a beautiful block tower, 'read' a book. Which super duper pisses off Bee (excuse my french). So, she starts to complain. And all this moaning, and her sense of equity, keeps her from her duty to clean.

So, we go back there to check on things. Eas is perfectly pleased as punch - disobeying, but a dancing, happy soul. Bee is irate. This is ridiculously unfair.

We've wanted to control circumstances in my household so that birth order wouldn't affect personality. I've contemplated ways to switch 'em around a bit.... I know I know - how would that possibly work? (me... a first child.....wanting to control....shocker....)

Paul and I were first children. We had younger siblings. The exact same 'I'm cleaning while you're futzing around' conflict occurred at our houses. And, I'd bet, houses all over the world. We remember the frustration.

We enter the room to hear, "Eas - if you'd just start picking up legos, we could be finished, but you won't, and rrraaahhhhhhh"

We have to discipline Eas for not cleaning. But we cannot let Bee off the hook from cleaning just because her brother is not doing what he's supposed to do. She wants equity - he's not cleaning, so why should she?

Well, because the room has to be clean before they can watch the second half of The Incredibles. And she wants to watch The Incredibles (who doesnt?!) So.... Fine. She'll just do it. Dammit. (She doesn't really say dammit - clearly not - but it's written all over her face).

It's not fair, but she'll just do it or it's never going to get done.

that's what happens....

that's how these first children are made...

Exactly what happens. That's Paul Forster in a nutshell. And me. We both remember this exact conflict being ever present in our lives growing up.

And my wise old owl conclusion (ha) after being this eldest child, marrying an eldest child, and now having my eldest child turn into a motivated, bossy, driven, people pleasing, academic, nurturing, control nut?

Nothin' we can do.

Just do what's right. Discipline all sin. Encourage and praise all the amazing gifts God gave our children. And laugh as the first one bosses the second one who is always kind of goofy and tons of fun, and they both tend to resent how much that sweet baby one (seems to) always get his way.

It's funny. It's interesting. Sometimes it's annoying. But, it's not tragic.

We need bossy ones, goofy ones, and sweet ones.

This birth order thing - just another spice of life.

09 October 2010

Food - 10/8 through 10/14

Friday: Some friends invited us for BYOM night. BYOM is brilliant. Bring Your Own Meat. If you are feeding a bunch of people (or even a few), it's often hard to afford (or justify) spending money on good steak for everyone. But - if you say "hey - let's get together - bring your own meat" - then each couple/family can decide what to bring - So, we brought beef fillets that were on sale at Sam's (which I marinated), and the kids acted as though they were all of a sudden royalty. I think it's good to spoil them every once in a while. I was also in charge of Twice Baked Potatoes - I think this is my favorite way to eat a potato. Especially if you bake them properly. More on that later. My friend made a big yummy green salad and a cheese cake.

Saturday: We're being treated to a nice lunch by friends - isn't that fun? Invite people for lunch on a Saturday - it's not done very often these days, but it's really very fun. I'm bringing a salad. Saturday night we have a friend/groomsman coming to town all the way from Cornell - where is Cornell? Ithaca? Anyway, I feel compelled to feed people who drive that many miles to see us. So, we're having Shrimp in Cream Sauce over Angel Hair. I think. It's possible that I may reverse our Saturday night/Sunday night plans. This recipe is an old one of my mother's and we just love it. It's perfect for company. It is not good for you.

Sunday: We have our monthly fellowship meal at church on Sunday - each family brings food and we all sit around at gorge ourselves on pot luck classics. Or not so classic...
I'm bringing cheese and onion enchiladas, a big green salad, and apple cake.

Sunday night - I'm going to try my hand at this - pictured above, except I'm going to sub some of the beef for some shrimp (I have shrimp I need to use), and I'm going to add extra veggies in with the broccoli. I'll serve it with fried rice (I made extry rice on Thursday with my red beans so I'd have left over rice, which is the best kind for fried rice, apparently), and Sauteed Cabbage.

Monday: Pot Roast. It's fall. Even if the weather seems to be reneging a bit on that. It is, darn it.


Wednesday: bbq pork at church. I make the pork, which I really kind of enjoy - it's a feat to make pork to feed 35. Other blessed people make the sides.

Thursday: Black Bean Soup/Paninis. I heart Paninis. And Black Bean Soup. I use the recipe out of Square Table - I've tinkered a bit - but it's better than the one out of Come On In. The one in Come On In is almost bland. I said it out loud. I did. It needed to be said, and I said it.

07 October 2010

my kind of Prince

[My darling spouse has still taken possession of my cameras. Both of them. I guess they're our cameras, but they certainly aren't his. And so I'm left with my phone. If my mother let me say the word 'butt', I might call him that, but I'm not allowed, so he's safe for now. But it's rapidly escalating to ass. He better watch it.]

Every girl, somewhere in there, wishes she were married to a Prince. Because we are all secretly wanting to be thought of as princesses.

Right? I'm not the only one?

Bueller? Bueller?

But not every girl gets this dream. Life's not fair, nor is it lived in a castle.

I'm married to a most unromantic man.

I don't think he has ever brought me surprise flowers.

He doesn't believe in getting baby presents for me after I carry for nine months and birth (on this last one without any drugs) perfectly healthy, beautiful children. I do not resent this at all. I promise.

He regularly forgets my birthday. Including this past birthday. Scripture teaches us that love covers a multitude of sins. It has not sufficiently covered this one yet. I'm working on it.

He's gotten better at Christmas, but I'd venture to say that it has something to do with the fact that when we were engaged, on December 23rd, he asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I burst into tears on my mother's front porch. (And I ain't the bursting into tears type). It damaged him. It should have. I'm just sayin'.

The man will not, I repeat, will not plan a date. It does not compute with him that it's the gesture of planning the date, not the actual date, that matters. He says, "You know what you'll have the most fun doing - why don't you just plan a date?"

He just doesn't have it in him.

And yes, sometimes this makes me sad. I wish he'd leave sweet notes in my sock drawer, surprise me with picnics in the front yard, and arrange surprise babysitters.

But, in my life, sometimes, other things, really are the most romantic. Because as much as, on occasion, princessness would be nice, I'm not a princess. I'm a busy, sometimes tired, wife, mother, hostess, cook, teacher.

At 11:12 p.m. last night, approximately 47 seconds after I quit reading Southern Living and we both turned off our bedside table lamps,

I sat straight up in bed, groaned a little bit, and said,

"I didn't put the red beans in water to soak over night... In fact, I never brought them in from the van"

[Side bar - Small Red Beans are the best beans for red beans and rice, in my not quite humble enough opinion about red beans. Kroger does not carry Small Red Beans. It makes me actively angry. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it's true. And so yesterday, I had to go to Wal Mart to buy red beans. I despise Wal Mart, but they carry Small Red Beans. So, I went, bought four bags, hoping they'll last me for the next couple o' months, and then proceeded to leave them in the car, because, well, red beans are not perishable, and I had all my school book to take inside, and well, don't judge.]

So, my husband, who was as far from the van as he could get and still be in our house, got up, in his boxers, went out into the chili night air, came back in, rinsed my red beans, put them in the water to soak, and came and crawled back in the warm bed with me.

I said, "I'll do it." and he said, "But then I'd be letting you do it, and I cannot do that..."

Yes this man, right here, giving our baby the bottle and smiling at his life he loves, got up, and fixed my blunder.

Almost without a word.

Yes, he grumbled a bit. But then, he rolled over and patted me, and said, "I'm so glad you're such a good cook."

Now that is my kind of Prince.

(Can someone have a conversation with him about baby presents...?)