Saturday, June 20, 2015

So True

Just now my 3rd son came to me and said, "Momma, I think you picked the right Dada." *

I couldn't agree more.

Happy Father's Day Eve.

*Our children usually call us these names instead of "Mommy" and "Daddy".

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

_The Hancock News_ Column--June 10, 2015

Without thinking too hard, I’ll bet you can think of something you’ve said that you regret. It is easy to allow our emotions to take over and react to somebody else’s words without engaging our brains.

I was guilty of that a couple weeks ago at a Hagerstown Suns game. My husband’s family was visiting, and since my father-in-law loves baseball, he treated our entire family to an evening at the ballpark.

We arrived a little bit into the first inning, and already a group of elementary school students were running wild all over the place. I’m sure they were excited to be on a field trip at the end of the school year. 

With these children running up and down steps and playing tag amongst all the other ticket holders, I’m sure the last thing baseball lovers wanted to see was our crew of little ones headed their way in search of a good seat.

We had no problem finding eleven decent seats together; on this evening probably half the seats or more sat empty. My husband and I sat with the younger three children while the older ones sat behind us near their grandparents and uncles.

I admit I was more than slightly worried about how we’d keep our teething toddler and preschooler content during an entire baseball game. If those elementary children couldn’t sit still for even one inning, how would my little ones manage it?

Well, it wasn’t easy, but I was surprised by how well they behaved. A cup of ice kept the baby sitting nicely on a chair by himself for at least three innings. My youngest daughter bounced from lap to lap but loved yelling, “Charge!” on cue and tasting cotton candy for the first time--Grandma and Grandpa’s treat.

While the man in front of us did get bumped a few times by little hands as the littlest one navigated between Mom and Dad, even the kind man next to us remarked about how well-behaved our children were. It was a miracle.

I was proud.

Until about the sixth inning. You know, before the stretch.

My kindergartner had been sitting still so nicely. She didn’t really understand baseball and was trying to figure it out, but I could tell she was getting bored and tired. And her foot fell asleep. I don’t even think she realized it, but her foot started kicking the seat in front of her, the empty one next to the man who’d been jostled by the little ones.

I didn’t notice until this “gentleman” started yelling, “No! No!” at her and began swatting at her foot. She had no idea what was happening as I grabbed her foot to keep it from kicking. The grumpy man turned back around and crossed his arms over his chest, not even acknowledging my hasty apology.

And that’s when I said what I still regret. I looked at my little girl who was barely holding back tears and was clinging to her Daddy, and, wanting to be a responsible parent, I said to her, “Now you need to apologize to him.” My daughter’s eyes widened in hurt and fear.

I soon realized there was no way my daughter who was hiding her face behind Daddy’s arm could manage an apology, and what’s more, after my initial reaction, I realized she wasn’t the one who should be apologizing.

This man abandoned all polite social conventions when he yelled at my daughter and tried to hit her. He could have turned around and asked nicely or perhaps asked us, the parents, to keep our child from bothering him. Had we realized, we would have gladly remedied the situation. 

I am sorry for not standing up for my young daughter, but even now I can’t think of what I could have said to that crotchety old fellow that I wouldn’t later regret. Instead, I’ll plead with you, the reader.

We were all little kids once, and none of us were perfect. Please be understanding and kind when dealing with small children, and if a child is being a nuisance, it is not your responsibility to discipline, scowl, or be nasty. Help the parent or other adult in charge by alerting us to the situation. And, above all, help us teach our children the right way to behave by being a good example yourself.


I’m still upset by the whole baseball ordeal and not feeling kindly toward that crabby man. Perhaps that’s why I chose this recipe. Then again, Crab Louis is a perfect summer meal because the season provides fresh ingredients and because there’s no need to heat up the kitchen with cooking.

Classic Crab Louis salads use iceberg lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and real crab. The version my family eats uses whatever lettuce and vegetables we like and have on hand--it’s a regular salad bar! And we make it cheaper and easier by using imitation crab meat.

I had no picture to match this column. . . but crabs are at the beach!

Crab Louis Dressing

1/4 cup ketchup (or chili sauce)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. horseradish
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
(I will occasionally add sweet relish or chopped green onions.)

Mix together dressing ingredients and chill until ready to serve. 

Prepare lettuce, tomatoes, sliced hard-boiled eggs, and imitation crab meat (or well-picked over real crab lumps) plus whatever other salad ingredients you like. We particularly like sliced cucumbers, cheese cubes, sunflower seeds, carrots, sugar snap peas, and bell peppers. Serve salad bar-style with dressing on the side so everybody (especially children) can create their own salad masterpiece.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Things I Love About My Kids-- Part I

When we began the adventure in homeschooling, I envisioned my children being quite refined, playing chess, listening to classical music, and reading only amazing literature classics-- picture-perfect kids.

Well, we all know about the ideal and reality.

One thing I love about my boys is their taste in music. Our children aren't really exposed to what's "cool" with other kids their age. They don't know a whole lot about boy bands or celebrities and such. In this environment, they've been able to develop their own likes and tastes in music--at least within the limits of what Mom and Dad have on the iPod.

One 9-year-old son has lately taken a liking to Styx: Greatest Hits. I know there's nothing really remarkable about that, but I do appreciate listening to it myself.

My daughters, on the other hand, still want to listen to the Frozen soundtrack over and over and over.

But I do think the Styx thing is cool.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Well, we've had snakes (a copperhead, even!) and lizards on our front porch this spring/summer. I'm not terribly fond of them. And then my son saw this in the corner of our front door frame. It might be hard to see, but it is indeed a black widow spider. I'd thought they only liked dark places, but, no, this one made her home on our south-facing porch.

Yucky old poisonous thing!

And speaking of things that probably aren't the healthiest for you. . .

I have had an insane craving during this pregnancy for instant mashed potatoes. We NEVER make instant mashed potatoes, but a few weeks ago at Sam's Club, I gave in and bought a monster-sized box of them.

Appetizing, no?

But what to serve with instant mashed potatoes when everything you have is frozen and the oven is broken? Hmmmmm. . . 

How about something else that might be served in a cafeteria?

Greasy (but quite tasty) hamburger gravy

At least it was made with grass-fed beef and homemade bone broth, right? Right?!

Plain Jane green beans

This was definitely not my finest fancy dinner, but you wouldn't believe how the kids gobbled it up. And it completely satisfied my pregnancy craving. Well, I still want more mashed potatoes, but the box isn't empty yet.

What was your strangest pregnancy craving?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Whirlwind Week

The last week or so I feel like I've hardly had time to catch my breath, and while a growing baby-belly could have something to do with it, we've had some event nearly every day--not our norm.

We started off the craziness with a delightful visit from my in-laws and a birthday party for my daughter--complete with another lopsided birthday cake.

The Leaning Tower of Cake-sa

I'm thinking this problem was in part due to uneven cake layers and a small mishap when I tried to remove the parchment paper strips (which I'd placed around the edges to keep the plate clean)  from beneath the cake. Some of the cake wanted to come with the paper, so I had to stuff it back in. You can see this on the right side of the photo.

Nobody commented too much on that because it was a stinking tall cake, and the food-colored layers were impressive to our kid crowd. Some of the inveterate cake non-eaters nearly polished off most of their huge cake slices, and I'm guessing it was because they wanted to try the different colors. 

Pretty layers

My favorite thing about this cake was NOT trying to get those sprinkles attached to the sides, but instead the yummy chocolate frosting. Thank you, Pioneer Woman.

Another big day was when my oldest was on television.  He was a Sav-A-Lot Kidcaster on our local news. If you follow the link, you can see him in action. It was quite the educational experience to see, in part, how television works. The folks there were really nice to him, and I was proud of him (even if he didn't know what grade he was in-- typical homeschooler!).

My in-laws treated us to a Hagerstown Suns (minor league) baseball game, and that was a fun late night. I had our final homeschool review meeting for the year, and soccer filled in any open gap--including the whole day Saturday when my son played 4 whole soccer games in a tournament.

We ended the week with a birthday party for my oldest son. He wanted an ice cream cake in the shape of an abominable snow man that we had seen in a library book. He got this cake instead.

Well, it is an ice cream cake!

He wasn't disappointed because the essence of what he wanted was an ice cream cake that looked cold, and he asked for the blue frosting because it looked cold. Notice the reappearance of sprinkles? And, yes, those are tons of tasty Oreo cookies crushed up in the ice cream layer. His very favorite part of the cake was the hardened layer of Nutella between the cake layer and ice cream. I liked it, too, and not just because it was easier than making either frosting or hot fudge sauce to glue the two layers together. The frosting was simply whipped cream sweetened with powdered sugar and tinted with food coloring. And leftover chocolate frosting wrote out the "Happy Birthday" part.

Phew! I'm tired just typing all of this out. Only half of this week is filled with outside activities, and my pregnant body is thankful!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ad Infinitum

My definition of agony is homeschoolers arguing about discussing the concept of infinity at the lunch table.