24 December 2011

Merry Christmas From the Family!

Front of Christmas Card
 We sent Christmas Cards.  But knowing me, I won't be able to find a copy in years to come...  So, here it is.  The front.  Eason is being silly, and I debated about using it because of that, but, really, when is he not silly?
New Years Resolution Number 1: Make Eason More Serious.  Yeah, right.

I loved it, though, because Ada's smile is genuine and Collins is tickled, which actually are both kind of rare.   Some grandmothers may have been annoyed that Ada Bee is hugging her knees.  Well, I thought that was sweet.
But I can see the objection... Sort of. 
Back of Christmas Card
 This is the back of the Christmas Card.  It was my attempt at an "Update on our Lives" without entering Christmas-letter-that-tells-about-every-gymnastics-lesson territory.  It was hard to keep it short and actually convey information.  I wanted to say much more - like my favorite things I've cooked this year, some quotes from all three children, Paul's school and job status, etc.  But, that's what the blog is for, right?

21 November 2011

a two year old and death

Scene:  My kitchen, This morning.  

Characters:  Belle, a beagle dauschund mix who is no longer with us.
                     Pepper, a wonderful mutt of a dog who is very much with us.
                    Collins, a not-quite-2-and-a-half year old.
                    Mama, a 27-and-a-half-year old mother of three children and all sorts of animals. 
                    Sadie Macon, a 2-and-a-half-year-old dear friend of Collins's. 

Collins, singing:  Belle, Belle, Belle - where are you.  Where are you Belle?  Pepper - where is Belle?

15 November 2011

When I was little, I had a friend.  Actually, she's still a very dear friend, but that's irrelevant for this story.

Every year, on Christmas Eve, Rachel and her sister got new Christmas Pajamas.  At least, I think it was every year.  Childhood memories are often unreliable. 

Anyway, I thought this was super cool.  When Ada Bee was a baby, I gave her the first set of Christmas Pajamas on Christmas Eve.  And then I did it the next year.  And I loved it. 

One year, I gave the kids especially cute Pajamas and I got very sad that they would only be seasonally appropriate for a couple of weeks.  And of course with a maximum of 2 wearings before too dirty to wear or else the Department of Human Services would come get me, it meant that they only got 5-8 wearings out of them before they (should....) would be folded and put away. 

So, I thought I should give them earlier. 

10 November 2011

Menu 11/10-11/6

I've been delinquent. And I got called out on it this past weekend. 

So, this is what we're eating this week. 

a sufficiency

Yeast Rolls from Last Year's Feast

Yay!  Turkey Day is coming!  Gobble Gobble Gobble.   
I love Thanksgiving.  I'm a food girl [I hear a collective "No scheisse, sweetheart"].  And at Christmas, while there may be great food, it's not the focus.  The focus is you know, a savior's advent, and lots of wrapping paper.  But on Turkey Day, well, it's all about the food. 
For a hot second, we thought we might be out of town for Thanksgiving, and I wouldn't get to perform the sixth consecutive hosting of the Feast this year.  But, no worries.  All taken care of; yay!  

[Proper use of semi colon?  Yay is an interjection, right?  What does one do with an interjection at the end of a sentence?  When we're diagramming at school, we call this one sentence, "Wow! Look at all those frogs!"  However, we punctuate it like it's two, obviously.  I have either entirely turned off or entirely turned on, to being a grammar nerd that is, every single one of my English grammar students this year.  You can see why.]

So, menu is decided upon.  No turning back now.  Still finalizing some specific recipes, but the food-dish-name-cards can be written up without fear.  

08 November 2011

Big Paul, better than you or I

Paul, Bee, Eas and I just returned from a very important trip.  A very dear friend, and Ada Brooks's godmother, married.  Additionally, we were able to visit other dear people - Eason's godfather and newly inaugurated co-godmother.  These were important occasions, and a wonderful time.

Sometimes, the calendargods become angry at you. Sometimes your dad's birthday dinner is the same night as a much needed girls' night. Sometimes you have a dear friend's baby's baptism the same weekend as free 50 yard line Hotty Toddy tickets. Sometimes you and a favorite person schedule your kids birthday parties same day, 30 minutes apart, invitations already printed.

But the calendar gods were really, really angry this time.

Saturday, a best high school mate got married.
Friday, my grandfather, Paul Burrow Eason, celebrated ninety years on God's green earth. 

Visit to Jackson, 2004

Prop. 26: The "I don't know if its a person" position.

I have a little girl.  

When I discovered her existence, I was nineteen and right in the middle of a really great Ole Miss football season.  Eli was playing.  
We beat Florida. 
In Gainsville. 

I had declared my philosophy major and College was what College should be.  Lots of brain stretching and lots of fun.  
I was not married. 

It was not a good time for me to have a baby.   

C'est la vie.

I was given a choice - a choice afforded me by our government - to not have the baby.  To opt out of my womb being used as very low rent property.  My uterus is my own, and therefore I didn't have to do anything with it that I didn't want to do.   
I exercised my choice.  And I had the little bugger.  I threw up in the student section during the South Carolina game.  I wasn't the only one, but the other fans' nausea was triggered by something slightly different. 

This person is now beating me at arguments on occasion, reading a lot of great books, singing off key like there is no tomorrow, and crafting her daddy into the insane asylum. She is a true person - her own, and her personage has little to do with me.  

This is a sensitive issue, and there are many people who I love, genuinely respect, and frankly just enjoy a lot, who are on a different side of the issue.  I have dear friends who are actively pro-abortion, and scores of friends who are personally pro-life, but who believe, as I did for a while, that it is a personal decision best left up to women and their doctors.  

Because of that, I've not found myself a public [facebook] activist on the matter.  

But, occasionally, life takes a turn;  all of a sudden,  something that is normally not discussed around the dinner party table is now in the mouths and status updates of the masses.  And, frankly, I want to keep my mouth shut, and not cause conflict.  
But, at this point, I think it might be closer to cowardice rather than peacemaking.   

Many people have written about Proposition 26 over the last couple of weeks.  There are proponents and opponents.  There is mass confusion. 

If you'd like a legal treatment, this is the best I've found.   

If you'd like a very good academic/spiritual overview treating most of the arguments, see my dear friend here.   

If you'd like an argument strictly from Biblical Christianity, this is a good one.   

Despite identifying as a proud feminist, despite having very much experienced a moment of true choice, despite politically identifying half with Ron Paul and half with the pretty far left, I'll load up all of the little buggers and go vote Yes on Proposition 26 today.  

Are we Consequentialists?   

Many who say they agree with the principle of the Proposition are arguing against it from a consequentialist viewpoint.  I believe it's wrong to make moral decisions based on their consequences.  Something is either right or wrong, and then we deal with the consequences.

 We are bound by natural law, no matter how annoying it is.  That means that we don't first ask "What will the consequences of Proposition 26 be?"  We first ask, "Is it right?"  

And make no mistake, Prop. 26 is positing a moral position.  You know, like freedom of speech and the right to due process.   

Now, if you don't believe a fertilized egg is a person, guess what?  You should vote no.  
If you do, however, believe it is a person, you should vote yes. 
We don't yet know what the implications are of the proposed amendment.  We don't know what lawmakers will now choose to say, within this slightly altered constitutional framework, about in vitro fertilization or about certain forms of birth control.  But the fact is, if you decide to vote no based on that, you are using a consequentialist view.  It is either true or not.  There is no room for "true, but we don't like the implications." 

Southerners who fought to hold on to slavery in the mid 1800s viewed the matter not as a question of morality [as would have been right], but a question of consequences. 

Should you traffic human persons? 
"It's irrelevant, because we cannot afford economically to not traffic them.  And ps, they aren't persons, really."
Why?  Because they knew if they allowed for their black slaves to be called persons then they'd have rights - rights that would make life less pleasant and harder for the slave owners.   

So, we mustn't answer the question, "Do we like a world in which we affirm that an embryo is a person?"
We must instead answer the question "Is an embryo a person?"   

The "I don't know if its a person" Position 

This brings me to my second point.  I think there are two reasonable answers to the question.  "Yes" or "We don't know"   

Many answer the question yes, either based on spiritual teaching or on the fact that biological life has begun.
You can also answer with "I don't know." 
I think that's legitimate.  At what point does that thing which makes someone a person begin?   
We tend to think that our children are ours.  But they're not.  While they are our responsibility  for a time, they belong, in a very real sense either to themselves (for the secular humanist) or to their Creator.   

I don't belong to my parents; Ada Bee doesn't belong to me.  I've no right to hurt her, and, again, I'd be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks that I do have that right.  I have no right to hurt her because she's not simply an extension of myself; she's an entity.  

A thing deserving certain things.  She has rights.  The rights of what?  She has the rights of a person.  When did those rights attach?

I don't think anyone looks at a brand new baby and says "Yes, it's biologically alive, but not yet a person."  That little bundle of spit up and confusion is a person - and we, as a society, legislate morality surrounding those people all the time.  
One cannot smother a newborn, right?  Or leave it out in the cold?  
A primary function of government is to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  And little bitty baby people are the most helpless.  There is a reason pedophiles have a hard time in prison.  Even felons, whose moral compasses are oft skewed, know that hurting a child is a special kind of wrong.   

So, it attaches sometime between conception and birth.  An unfertilized egg is not a person.  A screaming infant is very much a person, deserving all the lawful, moral protection that brings.   
Sometime during those 40 glorious, miserable weeks, personhood attaches. 

What should we do with an 'I don't know'?   Well, what do we currently do?  We deal with this all the time.  Society has situations day in and day out where we protect potential persons.  

Firemen run into burning buildings, putting their own lives at risk, to see if there is life there.  Why?  Because we don't know if anyone is in there, but if there is someone there, he or she needs to be saved.  So, we act as if there is a person present, even though we don't know for sure. 

Cities bulldoze condemned buildings.  What do they do first?  They check to make sure there aren't any people in there.  We act as if there is a person there, even though we don't know for sure. 
What would you do with an I don't know?  Would you tell them to bulldoze the building away, just cross your fingers that it's not actually a person in there? 
These are not merely "women's reproductive issues"; if they were merely that, I'd be first in line to preach None of the Government's Business.  Don't tell me how to to take care of my body.  
Instead, these are issues surrounding an entity that you cannot say with surety is not a person.  A person created Imago Dei, I might add, a person who will one day legitimately beat his or her mother at checkers.
If you cannot answer no, you must answer yes.   

Why?  Because we've a duty to protect the potential people in the condemned building.  We have a moral duty to protect the helpless.  If there is potentially a person in a uterus, it is not less deserving of protection just because it is young or because it is in a different person's body.  

This is the rub, right?  "But it's my body!"  Do you remember that old glorious example from ethics conversations?
 You have a right to swing your fist through the air, but that right ends when someone else's face begins?  
Well, you've a right to do with your uterus (and spleen and sinuses) everything you want to do with it (from the government's perspective).  That right becomes limited when it affects the rights of another person. 
[Although, it's worth noting, that when we tell people they cannot use heroine, we are telling them what they can and cannot do with their bodies.  Oh?  Because they might run their car off the road or leave their children motherless?  Yes, I see.  They might affect the rights of another person.]   

Was Ada Bee a person while the youngest Manning was throwing for some ridiculous number of yards against the Gators?   
If you cannot say no, you must act as if she was.  And, if you cannot say Ada Brooks wasn't a person, you cannot say that any embryo is not a person. 
If you can say embryos aren't people, vote no.  

I cannot say they aren't, I cannot affirm the negative, so, to protect the helpless, who are potentially persons, I'll be voting yes on Proposition 26.   

24 October 2011

What is Hebrew?

My son is the funniest four year old person, perhaps, of all time.
And maybe a bit weird. 

In the last 23 minutes, these are our interactions, as close to word for word as I can get them.

20 October 2011

beautiful brains

 Overheard, a few moments ago: 

Eas:  "The world is not fair."
Ada:  "What do you mean?"
Eas:  "In North America we have machines and all that stuff and in Africa and Asia they don't." 
Ada:  "I know, buddy.  I told you that." 
Eas:  "I don't think so.  I don't think anyone told me that.  I think I just know that." 

Eight Observations

06 October 2011

Not Whilst Frolicking in the Field

To become well-educated, a person must, at some point, take ownership of his or her education.  We can have compulsory attendance, but there is no such thing as compulsory education.  Lead a horse to water, but yadda yadda yadda.

I am privileged to teach a wonderful bunch of kids at Jackson Classical, the halfschool/half homeschool program that is kind enough to employ me and receive my older two urchins.

I get to have the third through eighth graders for
English Grammar, and
Critical Thinking, which is an amalgamation of brain teasers, LSAT-esque logic problems, real-life inspired situationals (Yes, I made up that word), and other things I dream up to help them give their brains a daily workout.  And yes, now after writing that sentence, I am tempted to brand myself a Brain Personal Trainer.

I work alongside some great teachers who have the kids for Ballet, Gymnastics, Art, History, Creative Writing, Robotics (using LEGOs, yes, be jealous), Piano, Violin, and on and on.

It's a full load for the kids.  And we're only there two days a week. 

The fact that the process of learning must be self-owned is never more apparent than in whole or partial home-education.  In normal ol' school, you at least have possession of the kids for 35 ish hours  a week.  Not me, I get each of these kids for four hours a week.  A whopping four hours.  Two hours on Monday, Two on Wednesday.  It boils down to roughly 40 minutes each day for Latin, 30 minutes each for Literature and Critical Thinking and then 20 for English Grammar.

Is this enough for mastery?

Of course not.

We're homeschoolers after all.  So, much of the work is done at home.  

We're two months into school, almost, and the new has worn off.  My students are no longer enthused by their binders, books and colored pencils.  The shiny is gone.  The drive has fizzled.  Only the truly type-A, or the ones who came into this world with an undeterred intellectual curiosity, are still engaged. 

Last week, I sent them a note with a verse from Colossians in which we are exhorted to work heartily - to do all things with all our might for the Lord.

It didn't work.  Or maybe it just hasn't yet worked.  Or maybe they haven't read the note.  Either way, I had more grumbling and undone homework this week.  And I'll not place the blame on the parents.  I mean, I might, in certain circumstances, but if one starts doing that, it enables children to, again, not take ownership of their own education.

10 September 2011

Wife / Mother / Educator also finds herself, regrettably, a citizen.

I've found myself, over the last few years of potty training and learning to read and cooking a lot and doing a lot of dishes and praising Paul for folding a lot of clothes, not so much politically engaged.  Also, I don't have television and don't make time to read things online.  So, I've been a bit out of the loop.

But until a couple of years ago, I was very engaged, and my leanings have swung all over the map as I've grown up and taken ownership of my own opinions.

30 August 2011

A Happy Morning

I woke up this morning and went to the gym.  (I'm trying.) 

I left the house at 5:52 am.  I arrived at the gym at 5:59 am.  I picked out my eliptical machine (my friend Calen has challenged me to use the difficult eliptical rather than the easy one.  It is a morning-by-morning struggle;  this morning, I defeated the devilish temptation to go the easy route.).

After my eliptical, at 6:37, I called Paul to see if he cared if I did a few weights or if he needed to get going to work.
No Answer.

So, I did my weights.

I walked outside, at 6:59, and got in the car.

Except I didn't.

Because it was locked.

04 August 2011

store up that mississippi summer angst

This is the color Mississippi should always be on maps.
It is naptime here.  This means that I'm taking a moment to rest as well.  I spend a few minutes on pinterest (or more than a few, and then naptime is gone....); I read through my blogroll to see if there are posts that command my attention; I return emails from the morning; and, of course, facebook is ubiquitous. 

[Yes, facebook is actually everywhere now.  It always rearing its two sided head.]

So, just a few minutes ago, I was perusing my news feed.  And noticing the large percentage of complaints about the heat.

25 July 2011

eat a shortbread cookie and croon

I have a problem.

It's an American problem.  It's a woman problem.  It's a typical problem.
This is me being, in a word, unoriginal.

I have too much stuff. 

Make this this week. Bring me a piece.

Mine usually aren't quite this pretty, but I bet they taste better....                                                                                                   (I didn't take a picture of my cherry pie from this weekend, and yes, I'm regretting it)

I have recently written about my literary love affair with cherries.  Oh, lady macbeth, how do you make me delightfully somber.

But, let's be honest, we don't pit all the cherries for fun.  Really, we don't.  We pit them for a reason, and here it is mostly for cherry pie.  And I've recently discovered that a cherry can take fruit salad from blah to luxury in a hot second, or we've put them in a salsa, or in a fruit compote to top pavlova or white chocolate almond torte.  Okay, so there are a ton of ways to eat cherries, but Pie remains our favorite (prepared) way. 

22 July 2011

all that bound up foolishness

I am in love. 
I am in love with both of these people, but specifically mine, the one on the right there. 

Instead of Yes Mam, he says Messam.
He calls his Pajamas either Conjangles or Conjamas, depending on whether he's having a sense of humor (Conjangles he knows is wrong, but likes to say it anyway).
He brings me my shoes wherever he finds them in the house.

15 July 2011

Equal and Opposite

At church each week, we take communion.  We don't process up for it, though.  We have those little plastic cups.  Not grape juice, thankfully, but real, cheap, red wine is found in them.  The cups come down the aisle in a stainless steel round thing designed specifically for plastic, miniature, communion cups to be passed down church aisles.

Our children are encouraged to partake of the supper with us.

So, along comes the bread first.  And each child in our family takes a piece of bread.  [Our pastor always leaves one giant piece on the tray - the one that he broke in half in front of everyone and every week Eason eyes it with breadlust.  And every week Paul says, just watching his eyes, "nope - just grab a normal one, Eason."  And Eason obeys. Sometimes cheerfully.  Sometimes the epitome of bedgrudgingly.] 

28 June 2011

Food 6/12/11 -7/2/11

Shockingly, I've been a delinquent blogger. 

But last night, the women and friends of our church got together to talk about feeding our families, and one of the tools of accountability we mentioned was actually writing down your menu. (Obviously).

And, so I remembered that I actually do have a spot to write down my menu. 

Right here.

So, going back in time a bit - 
Food from June 12th-June 18th:

17 June 2011

And Now She Is Seven


Dearest darling Daughter: 

Seven years ago today, you were born.  
Your labor and delivery were, in a word, horrific.  

As were the first six weeks of your life.  I have a vivid memory of our sweet friends Marianna and Mary Ellen driving us around for hours in the dark, hoping you would sleep, and yet, just more screaming. 

But we made it through.  I gave you a bottle, and you looked up and said, "Finally."  Well, at least you said it with your eyes and the six hours and forty three minutes that you slept.

At Seven Weeks - Happy Baby
And since then, you have brought immense joy.

10 June 2011

will these hands ne'er be clean?

I just pitted a ton of cherries.

I love to do that.
It's soothing, cathartic, juicy.

I always forget to put on gloves before I do it.

I'm supposed to remember, because, cherry juice stains, especially one's cuticles.

But, I think I unconsciously purposely forget.

Why?  Because cherry juice looks a lot like blood.
And Macbeth is my favorite work by Shakespeare.

So, I get to stand at my kitchen sink, scrubbing my cuticles and saying "Out, damned spot!" over and over again.

I recommend, if anyone is needing a literary moment, to read Act V, Scene 1 of Macbeth.  And so, I reproduce it here for you.

09 June 2011

Food on the Ocean

We just got back from a fabulous week away from real life with my dad and my stepmother, Carrie. And a few interlopers.

It was awesome.

It was not real life.

Real life began this week.
I prefer the beach.

Well, I probably wouldn't after a while. But for now...

When a family goes on vacation, apparently, they still need to eat.  There are a couple of options about food. You can eat out, you can cook a bunch of food and freeze and take, or you can cook while down there.

We don't particularly like to eat out, in general. That needs clarification. I love, love to eat out. But, for me to enjoy, my requirements are as follows:

  • The joint almost always be locally owned and operated. Chains just don't produce a good product, by and large.  There are always exceptions, but.... 
  • The food must be as good or better than food I can cook. 
  • And there shall be no discipline needed during the meal.
  • Or the joint be Krystal or Taco Bell or Cheap (Tex) Mexican.

The first qualification and second qualifications sound quite snobby, but when you like to cook, it's very painful to pay for food that costs more and tastes worse than what you can do at home.  And by 'very painful' i mean 'mildly annoying'.  Regardless, the fourth qualification should alleviate snobby accusations.

All that to say, eating out at the beach isn't really on my to do list.  It results in mediocre, over priced meals interrupted by "sit down, Eason."  "use your fork, Collins" "sit down, Eason""Ada - remember how we talked about facing the knife inward?" "sit down, Collins." "Paul - can you help clean up the water spill?" "sit down, Eason."  "Ada - No, I don't know the exact difference in size between large and jumbo shrimp"  "sit down, Collins."
And so on and so forth.  None of it is bad.  I do it most nights at the supper table.  Which is fine.  And good.  And part of an important proccess.

But it's not something I'd like to pay to experience.

I could cook and freeze.  But I don't like pulling meals out of the freezer.  I have a few things that work really well like this, but only a few.  And I cannot do a week of casseroles.

So, we cook down there.  Which I enjoy, and have learned to bring my knives and a couple of pans.  Note to self - next year, bring a cutting board and some kitchen towels.

So, what did we eat?

Saturday Night 5/28:  Spicy Spinach Lasagna
Sunday Night 5/29:  Went to see Paul Thorne sing.  He's awesome.  And Funny. And great dancing music. We ate a smorgasbord of left overs and vendor distributed hot dogs. 
Monday Night 5/30: Redfish Annalowrey 
Tuesday Night 5/31:  Carrie created some awesome roasted garlic french alfredo
Wednesday Night 6/1:  Chicken Romano 
Thursday Night 6/2:  Elite Style Cheese and Onion Enchiladas
Friday Night 6/3: Carrie made shrimp scampi, but I missed out.  I'm sure it was divine!

It was all good, and the only day I felt like I spent a lot of time in the kitchen was on Monday.  But it was Carrie's birthday dinner.  So it was worth it!

I measured out my spices and grouped all of my ingredients together before I left for the trip.

It's the way to go!  Prepare well before you go and then cook down there!

We had a great week.

02 June 2011

"never trust the sort of cooking...."

I am enjoying a low key vacation with my family this week. My daddy is a generous man and rented a little house on the Alabama gulf coast for himself, his bride and their kids.

I've spent time in the waves, time in the pool, time in the sand and time in the kitchen.

But, shockingly, that hasn't taken up all my hours. The rest of the time, I've been reading.

I brought Crime and Punishment to read, and have read some of it, but regardless of the gaping education hole that not having read the greatest Russian novel apparently leaves, it is not the most uplifting beach read.
Strike one.
I also went to the library and checked out some Agatha Christie stuff, only to find out that the novel collection I picked up are her six romance novels, rather than six of her 84 amazingly British murder mysteries.
Strike two.

But don't fret. I also picked up Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson, who gives Dame Christie a run for her money as my favorite British author. And my stepmother brought an Ina Garten cookbook. So, I know you're shocked, but I've been reading about food.

And have dishes to try to carry us through labor day.
But Nigella doesn't write recipes. She writes prefectly crafted essays that happen to be about food.

In one such essay, she echoed the sentiments of Robert Capon in his collection of essays on domestic life, Bed and Board. Capon opines about our relationship to Things. When we love a thing in itself, that is proper, Godly materialism, but when we love a thing for what it can do for us - convey social status, etc., that is far from good. Mistress Lawson is writing about Cheesecake Ice Cream.

She says, "I don't claim [cheesecake icecream] as an original idea...but striving for originality is frankly a grievous culinary crime. Never trust the sort of cooking that draws attention to the cook rather than to the food."

That's the lesson I've gleaned this week of reading and writing about food. It's also the reason all recipes should be shared. It isn't about what glory the food [or clothes, or work, or friendships, or anything] can bring to us; its about the glory that we, by way of the perfect dessert, can bring to God and His Creation.

I am so looking forward to being back in my own kitchen to hopefully draw attention to some yummy summer food.

17 May 2011

in the words of dave matthews.... (who should credit the prophet Isaiah and King Solomon)

At the end of our summer here in Mississippi last year, well, our entirely red state was enticed into possibly believing in global warming.

It mightn't have been the hottest summer on record (thought it weren't far), but it was the longest one in my lifetime.  It dragged on and on and on clear through to November.  And then one day, it was Winter.

16 May 2011

The Great Tortilla Test

One night last week, we had fish burritos.  I seasoned and poached the fish and tossed it with lemon juice; made a very yummy fresh salsa;  warmed some tortillas, created a sauteed onion, garlic, tomato,  bean dish for a side, along with a fresh green salad. 

It was good.
I was satisfied that I had created a meal that tasted good and nourished those I love.  You know, from scratch and all. 

12 May 2011

It's Summer Time and the Reading's Awesome

Don't really click to look inside....

When I was in Fifth grade, my teacher, the excellent, awesome, and legendary Mrs. Polk, had us complete an exercise in encouragement.
Each child in the class got a sheet of paper and wrote down the name of every other child in the class.  Out beside each name, each child chose one thing about the person that they especially liked or just was generally great.  Mrs. Polk then took a piece of nice paper, wrote our name all big and pretty in the middle, and then wrote our encouragements around it in a cloud, laminated it, and gave it to us as a present.   I still have it.  Somewhere. 
I said she was awesome.

10 May 2011

"But Mama...."

In general American culture in 2011, children are very much involved in every day life decisions.  They pitch fits, argue, bargain, whine, fuss, cry, etc. and then decisions are altered, because, heaven forbid, the baby/toddler/young child/adolescent is perturbed. 

Paul and I, and thankfully many of our fellow journeyers on the road, are trying to push back against this a bit.  We often don't let our children offer up alternatives to the plan we've laid out.  "No talking back.  No arguing.  No bargaining."  Tone of the child governs how much of this alternative-pointing-out is allowed, because some is, but by and large, they are Puerto Rico on the Floor of the House - occasionally can offer an idea, but no vote is counted. 

But, we have to be careful.... 

Tibi Gratias Ago

I've mentioned before that what we're doing for Ada for school right now is this weird, bizarre, awesome hybrid thing-a-majig.  For two days a week, she goes to Jackson Classical, and for the other three days a week, she's at home with me.  We find it to be an amazing balance for us.  She and I get the accountability of other authority figures for her (She cannot just not do her English because it is annoying both of us - she has to to it, because Mrs. Lewis is going to check it; similarly, I have to actually make sure she knows stuff because she's going to be tested at school). 

03 May 2011

ze menu: 5/2/11 - 5/8/11

Monday, 5/2:   
Lunch -  Peanut Butter and Honey.  Peanut butter and honey is a magnificent thing.
Supper - Red Beans and Rice, Biscuit Bread  (I'm trying to get over my seasonal issue with Red Beans and Rice....Who ever said you couldn't eat it when it's hot?  My father in law, apparently, ate it every Monday evening for 20 some odd years.  And my grandmother-in-law more like 50 some odd years.  It's great stuff.

Eason, the pot, Collins, the kettle

My family has a few sayings that we throw around willynilly and, frankly, expect the whole world to understand.

Which is ridiculous.

Or maybe we don't expect them to understand - we just don't care if they do or not.

Which would be unkind.

Either way, we say things that sometimes are ridiculous.

Many of these sayings are abbreviations of saying that other people do understand.

My dad says, "Glass house, glass house" And what he means by that is, "People who find themselves in glass houses should not throw stones." (They shouldn't by the way, unless they are like me and feel trapped and want the house broken down so they can get out...)

02 May 2011

swallowed by the Red Sea

Osama Bin Laden, confirmed dead, 1 May 2011.

(I learned this as I was being mocked at my window by an opossum, but that's a story for another day.)

The facebook statuses were all over the place.

There is a fairly sizable group of boot-in-your-ass folks celebrating with much glee. ("Sick Bastard- got what he deserved")
There are some more academic-minded people who are making note of the event merely because of its historical significance.
There are some people who would much rather go back to normal life and ignore the event, nearing offended that their television programming has been interrupted to broadcast this piece of news.
And then there is a group of people calling us to repent for being excited he's dead. ("True Christianity precludes us from being joyful about any man's death")

I don't know if I'm going to go there yet with the kiddos. Ada, my second grader, knows about September 11 and the twin towers. She has a vague notion of terrorism. She doesn't know the names of all of the guys involved.

But often we don't get to choose whether we go there. Children overhear conversations, radio news, read articles over our shoulders, etc. If we really, really want to protect them from something, we usually can, but Paul and I naturally tend toward explanation over sheltering.

(The Billboard promoting the Strip Joint on the Way to Church falls into the shelter category, however.)

So, since the little buggers may say to me, over the next week or so, "Who is this Osama character, and are we glad he's dead?" or some such, here we go:

01 May 2011

a real woman

As soon as Ada's personality started to come out, it was clear that she was all girl. She wanted to sit and read books (and still does). She has always loved a good costume, and already elicited promises from me for when pierced ears, high heels, lipstick, mascara, boyfriends will be appropriate.

(for the curious and for when she tries to argue with me later:

28 April 2011

the fates intervened

Over the last few weeks, we've had an awful lot of weather events. We've been in the hallway a lot. We've had no less than three "Stick Picking-Up" outings, and most of those 'sticks' really qualified as small branches. We have fences of ours and fences of friends to mend.

A couple of weeks ago, we were powerless at school, sirens going off, which may have led to chanting Latin and singing hymns while under our desks. We are not nerdy, I promise. A few minutes before we got under our desks, the same storm system was running through our dear friends' neighborhood, knocking over hundred foot oaks and destroying homes, banks, businesses.

26 April 2011

of the black eyed variety

Every spring, I crave black-eyed peas.

This kind:

Not this kind, ever, especially post superbowl xlv:

I was about to say "I don't know why, but every spring I crave black-eyed peas" but that would be a lie.

I know exactly why.

My mother, whilst I was growing up, was not a meat and potatoes kind of girl, but, as in most of America, most of her meals had some type of meat in them. We weren't pot roast people or roast chicken people (like my family now is), but we were spaghetti sauce with ground beef and chicken enchilada people.

But every summer, from April through September, inclusive (because that is summer here), my mother would have what she deemed "vegetable night." This seems silly, because we had vegetables every night, and we were not always meat-ed people (meatless taco salad, cheese ravioli, red beans and rice, black bean soup are just four entrees I can remember that appeared sans meat).

But I understand it now. These vegetable nights were when she could serve vegetables that tasted like God meant them to taste. These vegetable nights were to showcase the vegetables. We didn't have broccoli or carrots or salad like on every other night. These vegetable nights almost always followed a trip to the farmers market.

We had tomatoes, served alone, with dash of salt and pepper. We had corn on the cob, boiled for just a hot minute and then buttered (or, per my mother, margarined, don't get me started, bless her heart), salt and peppered. We usually had cornbread. And we had peas. Sometimes purple hull peas, sometimes I don't even know what, sometimes just the plain ol' pea of the black-eyed variety. If we were lucky, we got fried okra to along with it, or if my mother had her way, sauteed squash, heavy on the onions. And if my baby brother, her baby child, was around, we also had a tomato tart. Because, see, it's his favorite.

These nights found my mother at her best, that is, my mother without measuring spoons. She was just throwing stuff in pots and pans, as she well should be. It is harder for her to do that than it is for me; her motto is, "If I make it the way the recipe says and it tastes good, why would I mess with it?"

Mine is, "I like variety and have an overconfidence that often leads to greatness, but at least as often leads to 'I should have just followed the recipe.'"

Thus, I walk the line.

But I look back on these hot, summer evenings with great joy in my heart. She just threw in butter, salt, sugar, pepper with abandon.

Mama was always working from farmers market peas. She, except on new years, never bought non-fresh peas. She didn't like them enough to try to dress up a supermarket distant fourth place when she could just be patient and wait for a Mississippi backyard blue ribbon champion.

I did inherited neither her wed-to-recipe-ness nor her patience. But I did inherit, with a vengeance, her love of food and her seasonality.

I am growing my herbs (more on that later this week). Paul has planted his tomatoes. My children have been playing in the sprinkler. The air conditioning is on; if I have to sweat, I also get to eat summer vegetables.

I've been incorporating summer veggies into our menus for the last few weeks: I've made a tomato tart (but had to buy basil for it), we've had corn on the cob, and I've made squash.

But this week, I felt it come on. A need for a veggie night.

So, tonight we did it. Though, we'll have better ones later in the year, when all the veggies can be farmers market.

We had corn on the cob (which Ada slathered with butter, I protested, she said, "I gave up butter for lent, Mama, I have to enjoy Easter"); we had biscuit bread - as southern as southern can be; we had a big green salad; we had leftover Easter mac and cheese; and we had black-eyed peas.

Now, fresh black-eyed peas should be nearing unadulterated. God made them a certain way, and you should only add a little onion, salt and pepper to them.

But dried peas in a bag from Kroger need a little more help. And since it ain't culinary summer quite yet, we had the latter.

So I googled and messed around and so forth. Ultimately, I fiddled with a Paula Deen recipe.

And this is what I did. Paul and I highly recommend it. If you have "but I don't like pie-see food Mama" people at your house, cut down on the pepper, chili powder and onion. But as is, this is not a spicy dish - just a little hint of a kick.

1 lb dried black eyed peas, soaked (I used the quick soak method taught on the bag, and was very satisfied - that's a first time for me)

1 onion, sized to preference - I used large - are you shocked? Cut into whatever size pieces of cooked onion you prefer

In a pan over high heat, put a mixture of olive oil and bacon grease, the second of which you have dutifully saved in a jar in your refrigerator for occasions such as this. If you have not done so, you can fry up some bacon really quickly and crumble to throw on top of the black eyed peas. Or you can skip the bacon grease and go with some butter. I think my mixture was about a tablespoon of each.

Throw in onion, saute over medium heat for about 6 minutes, until soft - you don't have to get it to a translucent point.
Then add:

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 can Rotel (Or, obviously, store brand tomatoes and green chilies, but don't you think everyone knows what Rotel is better than "Can of Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies", huh, don't ya?)

Stir around for a bit.

Toss in soaked beans and 4-5 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover. Cook on Medium or Medium-Low heat for 45 minutes to an hour.

Serve and enjoy! On veggie night or whenever the mood so strikes.