Wow.

November 15, 2016

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Soooo…it’s been quite a week. Anybody else make the mistake of taking their daughter voting last week? “Nevermind! Turns out the country is a lot more sexist that we thought.” Whew! Glad I’m not the only one who screwed that up.

My 9 year-old cried bewildered tears Wednesday. This was a very black and white issue for her, and she is a sensitive soul. Naturally, I felt like crap for having exposed her to needless sadness. I just really, really thought she would value being able to tell her kids that she was there, for this important day. She pushed the button. Yes, I’m that idealistic. Wednesday morning we explained that, though it seems like people liked the bully more than the smart girl, there are many other things going on, and she was safe. I wish every mom could have been able to say that, Wednesday morning.

Policy, anti-establishment sentiment, those damn emails – these were all cited as justifications to vote for Donald Trump. Unfortunately, the multitudes cared more about those justifications than about saying “NO” to racism, sexism and a whole host of other crap we shouldn’t allow out of basic human decency. The prevalence of that mindset was not something I could previously conceive of in my NPR-listening, blue state-living, white, middle-class, privileged bubble. I didn’t realize that so many people actually thought policy was more important than people. Holy crap, America.

Thinking as a parent, since this is a parenting blog (most of the time), I’m offering the following: No, Clinton was not an ideal candidate with an ideal track record. There are NONE OF THOSE. They don’t exist. Ok, maybe Justin Trudeau. #dreamy The problem is that in this election we have journeyed past politics. We are now disassembling basic morality for our children. Think about what we teach kids: You treat people the way you want to be treated. You take care of people. You welcome new friends. Your body is yours alone, it is a good thing, and it should be respected. How about the one preschool teachers keep on repeat, all day: “Keep your hands to yourself!” Dear Donald, “grabbing” means you are doing it wrong. 

Not to mention the tired old slogan, “Girls can do anything boys can do.” *sigh* Hang on, girls. Change comes slow, but it does come. Look at where we started.

Speaking of girls, as Clinton was on Wednesday: “And — and to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” Forget the sadness that we have to state that at all. “Valuable” is my favorite word, here. I’m still more of a believer in the social commentary and symbolism of this election than in specifically electing Hillary Clinton – remember, I just wanted a girl to win, for once. I just thought this was immensely cool to hear. They knew, she knew, that little girls had serious stock in this election. And she asked them to hang on, too.

You know what else was cool? A friend of a friend of mine made a beautiful design of the above quote, and posted it on Facebook. I shared it, and the designer was kind enough to send me the high resolution version. I grabbed a frame, and this actually cheered my kid up. She moved a My Little Pony art project off the wall to make room for this! This was important stuff!!

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Thank you to Nataliemcguiredesign.com for this lovely print. You do good work, girl!

Moving forward, I’m choosing to be hopeful and expect the best from people, including President-Elect Trump and his future cabinet appointees. I’m going to repeat the closing of my previous post. I’m praying it’s still true, though now it refers to a different “someone”. We’ve done enough of tearing people down. It’s my fervent hope as a mom and teacher that tomorrow our nation will raise up someone who will makes it their job to raise up others.

Also, I’m posting a link to a wonderful article containing the names of non-profits. If you liked this post, chances are you will find one whose ideals you agree with. If you’re feeling powerless in the wake of last week, and looking for something to do to feel more empowered, donating to any of these amazing charities is a great way to feel like you, too, are valuable.

Click here for the list of charities. Thank you.

 

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12 Things I Want My Daughters To Know

October 2, 2016

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  1. Your intelligence should be ever-expanded with quality books, education, and conversation. Don’t stop seeking them out.
  2. I really don’t care if you don’t take a jacket. You’re not going to die of exposure in New Jersey. Just don’t be the girl who doesn’t take a jacket and then whines about the cold. She’s annoying.
  3. Focus on what you want your life to look like, not your body. Your body is a freakin’ beautiful miracle. Go do cool things without worrying how you look.
  4. If you stop laughing about stuff I’m pretty sure you die of boredom. So there’s that.
  5. Four hours into a night out, you probably won’t care what shoes you wore. But, you will care if you can’t walk. Or dance. Choose the shoes carefully.
  6. You’re both smart girls, but kindness is your highest goal. I care much more that you would invite the loner kid to sit with you at lunch than I do about you getting into the “right” college.
  7. There is no “right” anything, while we’re on that subject – not clothes, friends, college, house, career, nadda. There is only what’s right for your situation. But, Mom and Dad get to help you with that situation, so NO, you’re not wearing that skirt.
  8. To quote the internet, “Life is too short for fake butter, cheese, or people”. Steer clear of all three. Actually Cheese Whiz definitely has its place…
  9. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to try it, and think long and hard before you quit. This does not apply to certain controlled substances.
  10. Make-up can be washed off. Haircuts will grow out. Tattoos are forever. Just saying.
  11. If someone does something that hurts you, try to understand them. It doesn’t make them right, but you’ll probably find that their actions aren’t about you in the first place.
  12. Your dad and I always, always love you.
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War on Thanksgiving?

November 24, 2015

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We have RULES in this family, dammit. There are certain expectations for all of us. We must uphold our values, no matter how societal pressures influence us. These restrictions are hard and fast and non-negotiable.

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I am exaggerating. A little. But a certain sisterly person of mine…she better watch.

You can do whatever you like in your own house, of course. And if I don’t like a store’s policy of putting out Christmas decor or playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, I don’t need to shop there. Oh wait, it’s Target and Walmart mostly, so yes, I do. But anyway. If it makes people happy, who am I to want them to delay their happiness?

However, I want to get up on my non-tinseled soapbox and explain why there is no Christmas music or decorations in my house before the turkey has had his due.

  • Because I love Christmas. I love it so very much, and I don’t want it to lose its meaning or specialness by stretching it out earlier and thinner.
  • I have an almost spiritual relationship with Christmas music (said the corniest dork in the world) and I don’t want to hate it because I hear it too much. Please. Occupational hazard: We music teachers start our Christmas concert rehearsals in September. Ugh.
  • It’s not “the most wonderful time of the year” if it’s like 1/4 of the calendar.
  • The pushing-it-earlier thing really seems to be mostly about consumerism. You can see this in the big controversy of whether stores should be open for Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving. I vote “no”, but with gratitude for anyone who is there for me to buy Tums or cooking supplies I forgot to get the day before. Love you. Hope you get off early. 
  • The giving part of Christmas isn’t emphasized in the earliness much, it seems. I’ve seen lots of ads for flat screens and toys, but not one Salvation Army bell ringer person yet. We have taken gift suggestions off the giving tree at work, though.
  • Remember the “War on Christmas”? I also embrace it as a cultural holiday that doesn’t need to have anything to do with religion, if you want to tar and feather me for that while we’re here. Shouldn’t we be outraged about a lack of (Christian, or whatever) gratitude?

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  • My BIG (hippie, buzz-kill, left-wing, Scrooge) reason: This is very “Ugly American” to me. We are sweeping under the rug the holiday in which we celebrate the cooperation with and gratitude towards the native people who made it possible for European settlers to, oh, I don’t know, not DIE, and the only holiday for pausing to recognize that we are SO. DAMN. LUCKY to be alive and well. We should push for more GIVING in the “Thanksgiving”, too. I’m working on that in my own home this year, slowly but surely, I swear.

All of that is some important S#*T!  That is not Christmas Part 1!! I go on little rants about this to my own children and they stare blankly and think I’m weird. 

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In your own home, you should do what you want. I will roll my eyes when I drive by your tree-filled window, and you can roll your eyes at this post. Whatevs. Nobody is over here telling me when to do stuff. Except the smoke alarms. The fire department is pretty keen on us checking those every time we celebrate Daylight Savings. 

Christmas is awesome. There are traditions and parties and special moments that are like yearly spiritual renewing in our busy lives. It’s a connection to our childhood and a stepping stone into the future as we build traditions with our kids that they will remember just as fondly.

But we owe it to the universe to emphasize the importance of truly counting our blessings first. That’s all.

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This is: Spicy Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos

July 11, 2015

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This is a tomatillo with the husk on it:IMG_20150708_111535385

This is a tomatillo without the husk:IMG_20150708_111451795

This is how you roast them in a pan with garlic:

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This is how you blend them with two chipotle peppers:
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This is the other goodness that your sister makes while you make the tomatillo salsa:IMG_20150708_112345879

This is the fruits of your labor (chipotle tomatillo, red pepper pico de gallo, mango cilantro salsa, guacamole):

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This is how you eat it (adorable children not necessary):

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What we have learned:

  • You cannot screw up salsa.
  • You do not need to have salsa music playing while making salsa, but it helps.
  • A tomatillo is actually an armadillo-like tomato.

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Mexican Everyday: Chipotle

June 11, 2015

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My Mexican Everyday cookbook (by Rick Bayless) came from Amazon today. I haven’t even cracked it yet. It’s a weeknight, we spent 2 after-school hours in the pool, and have I mentioned I suck at cooking? I did mention that, right? Go back and read.

To preface my dinner choice explanation, I would eat Chipotle for one meal a day, every day. Forever. And ever. Amen. So, I decided to celebrate my fancy Mexican cookbook arriving and kick off my adventure in Mexican cooking with… a little fast food. Since public opinion says that taking the lid off a take-out container doesn’t count as cooking, I made an attempt a cook a Chipotle Burrito Bowl. What, like it’s hard?

Hubby schooled me the night before on how NOT to overcook chicken:

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Did you know they make thermometers for meat?! What will they think of next? Chicken is supposed to hit 160. Then you take it off the pan, or you eat white rubber.

I accidentally started the chicken way before the boy (who was doing some wife-approved, after-work, guy-bonding  in Philly) was on his way home.  No worries! Turns out you can keep chicken warm in the oven on a covered plate in a 170 degree oven. Then you can take the plate of chicken out later, good as new, and burn the ever-lovin’ CRAP out of your hand on a hot plate. Good times.

The rest of my Chipotle assembly line ingredients were as follows:

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Weeknight = ready-made guac and salsa. The boy makes his own killer versions of these, when time permits. I do not. Black beans must be rinsed or they have a buttload of sodium, and make my congestive heart failure get uppity. And yes, that is Great Value brand you see. And YES, there is a Whole Foods, Rastelli’s, and Trader Joe’s 10 minutes from my workplace. We shop at Walmart for basic groceries. I know. We’re heathens.

Important Factoids:

  • I only ate the guacamole verde with a fork 4 times during the meal prep. #selfcontrol
  • Herdez is our favorite salsa, and we’ve noticed that it’s seems to be the favorite of the people in the Hispanic Foods aisle who actually appear to be Hispanic.
  • Speaking of hearts, cut open a plum tomato long-ways sometime, and tell me if it doesn’t remind you creepily of a human heart. Freaky.
  • Shredding cheese is dangerous for your fingertips, fyi.
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There are no bits of shredded fingertip in there. Probably.

I cooked the Minute Rice as per the package directions, but I don’t usually remember to note the time that foods are on the stove top, so….it may have boiled over twice. This dish also required math and reading a chart on the side of the box, so I would like extra credit now.

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All good. Not ruined! Just messy.

I mixed in chopped fresh cilantro, pepper, and butter. (I was careful to put aside some of the unseasoned rice for the girls, because God forbid they should eat something with flavor.) I discovered after some research that Chipotle calls it “cilantro lime” rice, so I should have probably bought limes. And made margaritas, clearly.

When hubby got home, I took his order. I did not greet him at the door wearing the Chipotle crew member apron and hat, sorry. He did not get to choose between “for here” and “to go”, either. (The cherubs were in need of some Daddy time, and I was in need of them not needing me for like 15 minutes, so he was not going anywhere.) He asked for everything except salsa. He is a reformed tomato hater; he didn’t want to over-do it.

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The final product. “For here”, Burrito Bowls, pretty darn close to Chipotle quality, too. *patting self on back*

What we have learned today:

  • So maybe the hubby’s insistence in the value of digital thermometers is real. The chicken was so much better than Chipotle’s.
  • The rice, not as much. Apparently you should actually follow those directions on the side of the box.
  • You pretty much can’t screw up the rest of these ingredients, in various combinations. This is why “Mexican” food is the best food.

Next time: Meg stops imitating take-out and opens the actual cookbook.

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Times They Are A-Changin’

June 9, 2015

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So my hubby was a band director and didn’t remember desiring any other career since the beginning of things.

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The boy’s last concert.

 

Except that this career kinda sucked for hubby. He spent 11 years hopping around to five different school districts – doing a good job and trying hard to be happy. But his hobby was always “computer stuff”.

Flashback: He built me my first (second, third) computer out of parts, in college. He was “Doctor Finale”, having mastered that music notation software back then, too. He could have charged classmates for all the help he game them, using that program.

About a year ago he started teaching himself different coding languages and working on web development projects. He began working for an app development company. He started going to JavaScript meet-ups. (No, I don’t know what those are either, but he met some very cool people who helped him out immensely, so whatever.) He started volunteering for Code for Philly, a non-profit organization that seeks to “make Philadelphia a better place to live, work, and play, through technology”. He was trying to learn all he could to start a new career- and then he got one!

Hubby resigned from his teaching job – after the spring concert – in May. June 1st he started a completely different job. He interviewed for a won an paid internship 50onRed, a tech advertising company. He’s been there 7 days and he’s never been happier, work-wise – and not just because of the endless stream of free food and relaxed      atmosphere. He really enjoys the work.

He also just gave up teacher tenure. And summer. And the promise of steady employment. And being home by 4:30 every day. And me being able to schedule any appointment kid-free before 7 PM. And…

We are adjusting pretty well to the later schedule. He doesn’t have to be in at work (in Philadelphia) until 10:00 AM. Still doing the Daddy thing quite nicely, he gets the girls breakfasted and ready, drops them off at school, and heads to the train station. He is home around 7:00-7:30 (3 hours later than before). The girls are getting to stay up late by the old standards; they think this is a party.

However, it was the boy always made dinner in our house. What? He enjoyed making dinner. And he enjoyed that I perched on our bar stool, drank wine, and talked to him while he enjoyed making dinner. It was enjoyable. Now, have to enjoy  making dinner. Oh dear.

Another, “however”:  I am going to be home and single-parenting it, without hubby. all. day. all. summer. long.

I am not a good stay-at-home mom. I don’t stay at home well, period. And I am one of those weird wives who actually loves and craves her husband’s company. Or, any adult’s company. I am going to miss him! I will be the only adult in the house with these two little kooks and the deranged puppy. Help! Send reinforcements. Tell them to bring their bathing suits, and wine. 

In an effort to not succumb to Netflix & takeout poisoning, I’ve decreed that the following will happen, this summer:

A) We will maintain some kind of a schedule. Mainly so I can point to it and say “It’s not ‘bother Mommy’ time right now, it’s ‘Art Time’, or what have you.

How to Make a Summer Schedule for Kids Plus activities for summer
Like this Pinteresting thing, but less regimented. “11-12, Quiet Time in Room” hahahahahahaaaaaa *wipes tears away* That’s rich.

I am also going to make an attempt to do stuff with these kids, and report it here (dare I say daily? Ha). We live in a fabulous area of the country to raise children. There’s a ton to do here, between the city and the shore. I do have some grad work to do (classes until July), but after that, we’re gonna pound the Capri Suns and live it up – grade-schooler style. Woooooo! Call me if you wanna go somewhere or float around a pool.

B) I suck at cooking. I ruin grilled cheese. I have minor anxiety attacks about timing eggs and toast. And we have a healthy, loving relationship with Mexican food. Therefore I very randomly purchased Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless (on my phone, in the car, after hearing him on the radio, because…impulsive). I decided I needed to grow some cojones and cook my way through his book. And his second book. And then I want an order of enchiladas on the side, just because.

So I’ll be able to mix my classic Mommy Blog ‘here’s what we did today’ ramblings with the close-up foodie pics of a cooking blog, and really strive for internet blandness. (Sorry. Stay tuned.)

You know you want more pictures like this in your life anyway. Look at this. Whatever this is, I’m making it. Challenge accepted.
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