Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Learning Generosity All Over Again

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - Emerson attended a school-wide sock hop at her elementary school recently. Emmie and her friends were having a blast when I arrived.

At 4 and 5 years old, these kids are still at the point when all they desire is love and attention. So those who recognized me ran up for hugs and exclamations over their hair, their clothes, their accessories, their general fabulousness, while Emmie jumped up and down beside me, shouting, "Das MY mommy! She's goeend dance wif us!" Uh, no, she's not.

And then a little girl walked up with something in her hand.

"Miss Emerson's Mama?" she asked. "I couldn't come to Emerson's birfday party."

"Oh, that's okay," I assured her. "You can come next time."

"Wull, I bring her a present," she said, and handed Emmie a cellophane bag. Inside was a giant pickle that she had purchased from the concession stand with her last two snack tickets.

"Ohh, DANK you!" Emmie exclaimed, and gave her friend a hug. She looked at me uncertainly. She really doesn't like pickles. But she gave it a cautious nibble before trying to hand it back with a frown. Oh, I don't think so.

I leaned down and murmured in her ear: "Your friend gave you that pickle as a gift. You will not hurt her feelings. You will take four bites with a smile on your face, and then you may give to me to hold for you."

And she did! She took those bites, put the pickle back in the bag, handed it to me to hold, took her friend by the hand, and lead her back to the dance floor.

And three days later, when I pulled the bag out of the fridge and tried to toss the pickle in the trash, Emmie took my hand and put me in my place.

"My fren' gib dat to me as a present. You don't frow presents away, mama."

So we put it back. And it stayed there until two days ago. Then Scott ate it.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rethinking Our Parenting Style Entirely

Sunday, February 21, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - Scott has been working all day, and I'm not sure he's eaten a thing. He's really tearing into dinner that I cooked (asian pork with edamame and baby carrots). Emmie's sitting at the table with him, and suddenly she exclaims:

"Good God, Daddy! You really eatin' da CRAP out of dat food!"

Whoa. There is a moment of shocked silence as Scott and I lock eyes, and then I do the worst thing possible. I burst into laughter. I laugh so hard that I send myself into a coughing fit.

"Mama, why you laffeend?!" Emmie says.

"Good God, did you hear that?" I ask Scott with a chuckle, and then stop. Oh. So THAT's where she got it from.

Aw, crap.

We're just a small family, the three of us, and we've always had a close, attachment kind of parenting style. We're not slack on the discipline, but we focus on helping Emmie make the best choices, as opposed to requiring that she do what we say. (Of course, at the end of the day, the best choices are the ones we'd have made FOR her, but it's all in the presentation. I hope...)

We have always involved Emmie in everything, having her tag along wherever we may go - work, friends' visits, community events - desiring to expose her to as much as possible, within reason.
We want her to be knowledgeable, comfortable, and confident. We don't want to expose her to things that will confuse her. That's one of the reasons I rolled up the car windows today, despite her protests, when some dude pulled up next to us on Wheeler Rd. His car stereo was crooning, "Ah, birthday sex... Yeahyeahyeah, birthday sex," and he bought the car stereo system THAT GOES TO ELEVEN. (Thanks A LOT, dude)

But maybe we still aren't being the role models that we could be. Because I remember when saying "crap" got me a pop on the bottom. I didn't understand it then, but I am within reach of comprehension now.

So, for Lent, I'm giving up a few of my favorite words and phrases: "crap," "good god," and "mother of god." I'll consider giving up "son of a biscuit," but I haven't made up my mind on that phrase, yet. I'm definitely keeping "for crying out loud."

I'm sure I've forgotten some things that I should stop saying. Mother of God, I'm sure there are other aspects of our crappy parenting that can be improved, for crying out loud. Like our constant sarcasm, and our inability to take things seriously.

But happy Lent, everyone. Here's to all of our efforts to change the bad habits we've fallen into. Good God, I hope you beat the CRAP out of them!

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger Woulds

Friday, February 19, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - Scott's talking about Tiger Woods' press conference, which is scheduled for later today.

The speculation - especially in this home of the Masters Tournament - is really over the top.

"I know how we could get rich," Scott says. "Start a Tiger Woods channel."

"Nah. You wouldn't have any sponsors," I reply.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bargain Beauty Tip + Psoriasis Relief

Thursday, February 18, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - My husband has psoriasis like you wouldn't believe. I've bought him a multitude of creams and lotions over the last five years that I hoped would give him some relief. But a couple of months ago, I got an idea that finally paid off.

Super Skin Softener / Psoriasis Stuff

1. Buy a bottle of oil. We used Neutrogena's unscented seseme oil, but you can use just about anything that won't make you smell like a roast turkey. I know a woman who uses straight olive oil on her hands, elbows, feet, and hair. It works, but it's not for me.

2. Buy a tall container of coarse sea salt. The brand doesn't matter, but the texture does.

3. Buy a small transparent or translucent container with a covered spout and an attached lid. I picked up a small plastic measuring pitcher for $1 in the kitchen section at Wal-Mart, but anything will do. Just make sure the lid is attached so that you don't have it slipping around all over your tub; and it has to be translucent so that you can see whether the salt is mixed properly.

4. Fill the container halfway with salt.

5. Finish with oil, leaving an inch open at the top.

6. Shake well.

Voila! Just a few drops make enough to use everywhere - except your face - and a supply of moisturizing exfoliant that will last for months. One use, and my ashy winter skin turned these tree trunks I've been scratching back into real, live, lady legs. Just remember to shake well before each use.

Total cost: $7

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

True to Her Word

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - Emerson has pneumonia, and has been instructed to eat only light foods - like saltines and chicken soup. But by Day Four, this child would take down a buffalo and eat it raw if we'd let her out of the house... in South Dakota. Anyway.

So we let her "choose her choices," within reason, for dinner. She chose French Toast from 3 Squares. But I didn't know that it came with a packet of butter and a side of fatty bacon.

"Sorry, Doodle, but the doctor said to stay away from oily foods."

She let me take the butter. But I was getting that bacon over her tiny, 5-year-old, dead body. I could swear that she took a chomp at me. Ooookay, then.

"Fine. But later, when you're frowing up, I'm going to do this..."

I danced around and shook my bootie, singing "Nyah-nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah-nyah!"

She grinned and giggled: "Dass not nice, Mama. Den I'm goeend punch you in da belly!"

"What?! I don't think so, young lady," I said. But I knew she was going along with my humor.

Not 20 minutes later, she went into a torrent of deep, growling coughs. At the end of the spasms, she clutched her stomach and made a mournful face: "I ammost frow up, Mama!"

I jumped up and shook my bootie, dancing in a circle: "Nyah-nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah-OOOOOFF!"

Well, she warned me.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another Fast but Friendly Meal Plan

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - With Emerson sick with pneumonia, I'm not in a cooking mood. We had frozen pizza for lunch, if that tells you anything. Hint: we don't much care for frozen pizza around here.

But tonight, I was in need of a healthy meal. Enter fast food - no, not THAT kind. I'm talking even FASTER than that.

Here's my recipe, and it may be the shortest thing you've ever seen:
  • 1 box Near East Couscous with pine nuts and olive oil (you can sub a flavored rice, if you want, or even orzo).  Cost: $1.49
  • 2 boxes Gorton's grilled lemon butter salmon fillets (or any kind of fish fillet, heck, I don't care). Cost: 2 for $3.
  • Half-a-bag of leftover bag salad (mixed greens, spring greens, Mediterranean, spinach, or something else dark green and leafy. Iceburg and romaine will not do). Cost: Maybe $2.50 a bag, divided into two separate meals. We had the first half on Sunday.

1. Chuck the frozen fish filets into a skillet on medium heat, with a drizzle of olive oil to keep them from sticking
2. While they're cooking, start the directions on the back of the couscous box. Put the water on to boil, dump in the spice packet, and add some chicken bouillon and a dash of garlic to the water.
3. Divide the leftover bag salad onto the plates, drizzle with a tiny bit of vinaigrette (I used honey mustard vinaigrette, but you can use anything not too sweet or too strong. If you're wearing your fancy pants, and you have Meyer lemon vinaigrette, that would be amazing).
4. The water should be boiling, so pour in the couscous. Give the couscous mixture a good stir, then take it off the burner, cover the saucepan with a lid (or a plate, if you're like me and couldn't find the dadgum lid). Let sit - AND DON'T TOUCH IT - for five minutes.
5.  Finish cooking the salmon.
6. Fluff the couscous with a fork, all the way through, then divide on top of the salad on the plates.
7. Chuck a salmon fillet on top, and voila!

Total prep time: However long it took me to open two boxes and a bag.
Total cook time: 10 minutes, give or take
Verdict: Emmie had never had couscous before, and she ate every bite.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010 By

Emmie knocked off my boss's Phillies bobbleheads off his desk the other day and broke them. I was SO PROUD that I was able to seamlessly Super Glue them back together, until I brought them back today.

"You messed 'em all up," Bryan said.

"Nuh-uh! They look great!" I argued.

He laughed: "You glued a bat onto the pitcher's hand!"

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The NEW Pledge of Allegiance: Even Better Than the Real Thing

Saturday, February 13, 2010 By

We've been working on The Pledge, since the first time Emmie told us she was learning. Now Emmie says:

"We pludge jaleegabence
To da flags
Ub da uninnah stays subamerica
And toodarepuggic
For witches dance
One nation
Under God
For libercheesus for all"

I don't know where libercheesus is, but I want to go to there. Right now.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow day in Augusta, Ga!

Alice says her sweater is from Japan.

Augusta, Ga. - We're all excited about the snow. It's been 8 years since we've really seen accumulation. So far, we've been disappointed. Reports from North Augusta, Evans, and Hephzibah have all included snow. We're surrounded by the white stuff, but get none of it.

"No, there! It's snowing," insists Jason.
We peer out the bank of windows at the front of the building.

"Huh... Is that what that is?" Alice muses.
"Yeah. That's called 'snow,'" Jason grins.

"Oh, shut up," she retorts, and jokes around, trying to catch some snowflakes on her tongue.

"That one was pigeon poo," Jason grins.

She goes back inside.

Erin dances in the snow while Alice looks for pigeons.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Pledge of Allegiance, according to a Five-Year-Old

Tuesday, February 09, 2010 By

Emmie says:

I plujaleegence
To da flag
Ub da uninestaysubamerica
And toodarepuggic
For witches dance
One nation
Under God
Wif ladies in just a bra

 "Mama, why da witches dancing? Do dey lub America, too?"

*snicker* "Yes, honey, I think they do."

"Oh. Das cool... Why you laffeend?!" she yelled, angry that I would even dare.

"Um..." *snicker*

"Stop laffeend, mama!"

"I'm sorry, honey."

"Seriullsly, mama. Why you laffeend?"

"I was just surprised that you didn't ask about the ladies in just a bra."

"Maybe dey getting dressed for da witches' dance... MAMA! WHY YOU LAFFEEND AT ME?!?!"

Hoo, boy. I can't wait to hear what she makes of "o'er the ramparts we watch were so gallantly streaming."

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Kids Are All Too Revealing

Sunday, February 07, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - The ballet teacher is going around the class having all the tiny dancers introduce themselves with a clapping game.

"My name is Julia," clap-clap. "And I want candy for Valentine's Day."

The teacher is Tammy Westofer, and her husband, Benji, used to dance with my husband.

"My name is EmersonReneeMcGowenHudson," Emmie says, setting off giggles from the observing parents. "An' I want candy AN' chocolate for Valentine's Day."

"I know your family," Miss Tammy says.

"Uh-huh!" Emmie answers. It's Augusta, after all. She's had this happen hundreds of times.

"I know your daddy," Miss Tammy says. "Did you know that?"

Emmie nods enthusiastically: "Yeah! 'Cause he's SCOTT HUDSON WGAC!"

Oh, my lord...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

How many dancers does it take to change a light bulb? It doesn't matter; they won't be in their light anyway

Augusta, Ga. - Emmie had her first ballet class today at the Augusta School of Ballet. One five-year-old, and four adult relatives to watch her spin around, act out various animals, and run around bumping into the other girls in her class. It was awesome. But it was very little ballet.

"This is your dance bubble," Miss Tammy explained, demonstrating the space around each dancer, into which other dancers are not supposed to cross.

Emmie chased the other girls around while bursting their dance bubbles. "Pop! Pop! Pop!" she shrieked, happily.

"Let's try our battement tendu," Miss Tammy said, demonstrating the graceful pointed-toe motion.

"Watch dis!" Emmie cried, and did a spinning leap, nearly smacking her elegant young classmate, Julia, in the head.

"Let's listen, and dance to the music," Miss Tammy said, playing a CD of music cues for various movements.

Emmie squished her face against the mirrored wall and made silly expressions to make the other girls laugh.

"Dat was fun!" Emmie said, when class was over. "I'm a ballet girl! I'm goeend ta come back nex' time!"

Yes. We'll definitely be back. And maybe Emmie will actually take a break from clowning around, and try a few dance moves. If not, well, at least she is getting over her crippling stage fright. O_o

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Let Me Know if God Answers, 'Cause I Have a Few Questions, Myself

Augusta, Ga. - Emmie and I were making dinner, and I wouldn't let her cut a potato with a "real" knife.

"I'll be very careful," she pleaded.
"No, ma'am," I said, firmly. "It's too dangerous."

She sighed, wearily: "Mama, I so tired of you telleend me wut ta do."

I couldn't help but laugh. I remember that feeling. It's like a world full of no. But I tried to explain.

"I know, Doodlebug. But that's my job. It's a mommy and daddy's job to tell you what to do, until you get old enough to tell yourself what to do, the right way," I said.

She looked hard at me: "But who gib you that job?"

What a great question! I answered with a simplified concept I knew she'd understand, as opposed to a long monologue about social contracts and primal instincts: "God gave me that job."

She furrowed her brow and shook her head in obvious disapproval: "Hmph. I goeend talk to God about dis."

Just Loving My Doodlebug

Wednesday, February 03, 2010 By

Augusta, Ga. - I got home on time last night (for once). Emmie and I cooked a curry (see previous entry), and she was just SO sweet. She pulled her chair up beside me as I was cubing chicken, and climbed up beside me with her little plastic knife.

"Whatcha doing, Em?"
"I'm helping!" she answered, happily, and then she attacked and mangled a red potato.

We chopped (and mangled) all the vegetables. And then, under supervision, she browned the chicken, poured in the ingredients for and stirred and simmered the sauce, and set the table.

We poured orange juice for everyone, then she served our plates at the table with delicate little scoops of curry. She served herself chicken - AND BROCCOLI with no prompting!

She beamed, proud that - except for chopping - she cooked dinner and served it. Of course, cleaning fell mostly to me. But she helped with that, too... a little. And before I put the leftovers in the fridge, she just had to have two more bites.

Then we took a bath, read books, and snuggled until she fell asleep. It wasn't a big, special day; but it was a little, special day, with lots of wonderful, sweet moments with my newly-turned five-year-old. I am so proud to be her mom!

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Dinner That I Didn't Burn, Overcook, Undercook, or Otherwise Mangle While Doing Ten Things at Once

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 By No comments

Augusta, Ga. - I came home to find that my husband was about to do something horrible: He was about to fry chicken!

Okay, I love fried chicken. But I've been SO good lately, that I asked him if I could cook instead. He said yes - like he was really gonna argue. But then I realized that I had no idea what to do with two thawed chicken breasts and some random odds and ends of vegetables, not one of which measured up to a full serving of jack squash. (hee... see what I did just there? hee?)

Stew, I thought... no, that's boring. Stir fry? Too predictable. And we just had rice last night. And then I saw the box of jodhpur lentils that have been sitting in the cabinet for about six months.
They issued a challenge, and Emmie and I answered by whooping bootay.

Here's the recipe I made up, accompanied by my usual meticulous attention to measurement and detail. Please note the complete absence of salt, most fats, and the ability to go completely low-carb. You won't need any of that stuff:

  • Some chicken, thawed and cut into cubes
  • Some vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces. We used broccoli, potatoes, and carrots; but I can imagine black-eyes peas tasting amazing in this. Also consider: onions, turnips, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, zucchini, squash, green beans, lima beans, butter beans, and sweet potatoes
  • One regular sized can of tomato sauce
  • One 8-oz can of evaporated milk (note: NOT sweetened condensed milk; but if you're wearing your fancy pants, you can substitute coconut milk, or similar)
  • Light butter/margarine/Promise/I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, olive oil, or something else that will keep the chicken from sticking to the pan
  • Yellow curry powder, cumin, garlic powder
Cooking Instructions
  • Melt butter and brown chicken cubes, while microwaving any vegetables that are particularly long-cooking (potatoes, carrots, etc.) for about 5 minutes
  • When chicken is mostly brown, add about a tablespoon of curry powder, two teaspoons of cumin, and a teaspoon of garlic
  • Finish cooking chicken, microwaving veggies longer if necessary. You want them a little underdone. They'll finish cooking when they simmer in the sauce.
  • Pour the cans tomato sauce and evaporated milk over the chicken and stir well
  • Simmer for a few minutes, then taste to see if you want more curry, cumin, or garlic. Think about black pepper, but you don't have to use it
  • Pour in vegetables that were microwaving, and any that weren't
  • Simmer for 10-15 minutes
  • Think about throwing in something that will add some crunch, because it is kind of a stewy mess - maybe peanuts, almonds, water chestnuts, raw celery or other cruciferous vegetables. We didn't do that, but that's what was missing from the dish. Next time, I'll add water chestnuts. 
  • Serve over instant brown rice, on a bed of spinach leaves, or by itself (which is what we did, with the lentils on the side)
Total prep time: Maybe 10 minutes - it would have gone faster, but Emmie was "helping"
Total cook time: Maybe 20 minutes, 'cause I had everything going at once
Total satisfaction level: High - and I mean Emmie even ate the broccoli! That's saying a lot. Heck, she tried to lick the sauce off her plate!

So try this healthy, veggie-and-fruit-packed low-carb, low-fat, high-flavor dish with your family. It's definitely one we'll be revisiting!

Okay, it's not the prettiest food picture ever. But it sure was tasty.