Monday, May 21, 2012

Mommy, what are we going to do with all these leaves?

Well, small one, we're not going to do anything with the leaves, but the stems, we're going to cook with sugar and lime juice and then we're going to add rosewater. 

That's right, we made rhubarb and rosewater syrup recently.  It tastes great and is really beautiful; sorry I didn't think to take a picture during daylight.  I mix it with sparkling water.  Except now it has turned cold and rainy again so I'm thinking of mixing it with hot chamomile tea.  Seriously. 

This rhubarb plant is an amazing thing.  Someone gifted it to me about 3 years ago, all of two and a half small leaves and completely wilted.  It was an 80 degree day in August.  Not transplanting weather.  But, into the ground it went with a bag of compost and a bucket of water and now, well, it has taken over the front corner of the yard.  It is sending up flower stalks for the second year in a row and they are at least six feet high.  Another thing that should be photographed in daylight.

Liam has a cold.  A cough that I hoped was on the way out this morning seems to be, instead, settling in.   Poor small thing, he was asleep by 7:00 tonight.  He desperately wants one of his school friends to come over and play tomorrow afternoon and "stay for dinner, please, mommy, please, please call her mommy and ask" and it would be fine with me except I'm not sure he is going to be up to it.  I'm trying to steer this energy towards Pizza Friday in hopes he'll be rested and better by then.

We suffered the death of one wooly-bear caterpillar this weekend and are now trying hard to take better care of the second one.  Pets that live in jars are so not my thing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

At the end of a long day

After an unexpected school cancellation for Liam on the first of Three Very Long Days in a row for me,  I feel so lucky to have returned home to the following note from Liam's lovely babysitter.

Things we did today:
  • Got ice cream, "I got to eat an ice cream cone today!"
  • Saw ducks in the lake
  • Saw little fish in the Sound
  • Climbed the tree
  • Sawed a branch up
  • Played with legos
  • Got to pet 2 friendly dogs
  • Road bikes around the block

Reading between the lines, this means they took the $5 I left them this morning and walked half a mile downtown across the bridge to the ice cream store, then across the street to the lake to run around in the big open space, and were outside most of the day.  An adventure.  Perfect.

They also replaced all the batteries in all the flashlights (some small person tends to leave them on and I thought it might be nice for him to be involved in repairing them), fed and watered the chickens, and picked up sticks and random debris from the yard to put in the green bin.  She is firm with him but positive and kind and they do well together.  She remembers sunscreen and snacks and Liam reports she "never talks on her phone." 

Welcome back to my parents today who are here for the summer and were nice enough to treat Liam and me to dinner.  I may survive this week after all.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Beading, birthday presents, and mothers day

Liam made a necklace as a gift for the birthday girl this weekend.  He worked so hard on it, selected all the beads himself from the big bucket of random beads I have left from college.  (Yes, I went to a hippie school.)  He did all the stringing, I helped with the jump bead and the clasp only.  Then he had the idea to make a little bag to hold the necklace and so we did.   He really, really likes this little girl; her parents are the teachers for Liam's little school, and he is fascinated by all that.  All good.

Birthday girl loved it I think.  She put it right on.  I wish I had taken better pictures.

Liam did pretty good at the party.  He was very, very anxious that I might leave, and tearful at the prospect more than once.  So I stayed.  It's hard to not feel embarrassed when he acts this way, but I'm trying to just get over it.  He is how he is, and I didn't know one way or the other if it was a drop off or a stay and play until we got there, so I hadn't prepared him for the idea that I might leave.  He really rallied after the lunch and participated in the activities including the pinata (which he loved).  I'm sure he would have been fine if I had left.

As we walked across the street to the car after the party he volunteered:  "Mommy, thank you for staying with me even though the other mommies didn't have to stay."   Happy mothers day all.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Playmobil Kitty Names

Liam has recently been introduced to playmobil and has really been loving it.  I've been buying him pieces of the farm set and they're pretty reasonable, only about $10 each for the small sets and they get lots and lots of play.  Today he has a birthday party to go to, so when I got the present earlier this week I picked up the playmobil cat play set for him; as if he needs more toys.

But, he really, really loves playing with them.  I think tomorrow I'm going to swap out some of the toys that don't get played with so much any more, and a big stack of books, to make room for the new and to just pare down a little overall.

In the meantime, Liam has named the six cats that came with the playmobil set:


Reminds me of how he used to name all the areas in his paintings.

Pizza Friday was a success last night until Liam and the neighbor-boy just couldn't keep from bugging each other to death (including some hitting and pushing and name-calling that was really over the top).  Went from fun to not fun pretty fast.  Today we have the birthday party for one of Liam's school friends and then a mother's day tea at GG's church.  And then we clean the chicken coop.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012


We've had two and a half (So far!) sunny days in a row, and Liam's babysitter is on vacation for the first part of this week so I've been spending afternoons at home.  Makes me want to work part time.  If only.

Yesterday afternoon we got an old hammock out of the garage and strung it up in the rhododendron tree.  Well, the vegan strung it up, I offered commentary and mostly watched.  Liam jumped up and down and demanded that it be higher, higher, higher.

Then Liam was introduced to the joys of swinging in a hammock.  Which he took to immediately.  I am of the gentle rocking hammock people.  Liam, not so much.  His favorite thing was to be spun unceremoniously out of the hammock onto the ground.  "Again!" he says.  Again.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Homemade cheese!

After at least fifteen years of thinking I was going to try cheese making at almost any moment, we finally did it: on Sunday Liam and I made homemade paneer cheese and today we cooked it up into saag paneer and it was delicious.

I have no fewer than four books on home cheese/yogurt/butter making, but it was this book, Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila, that finally got me over whatever was holding me back.  This really is a great book.  As nice to just read as it is to cook from; I've been toting it back and forth form the living room to the kitchen since it arrived.

Cheese making in what must be its most basic form pretty much couldn't have been easier.  I iced the pot and then heated half a gallon of whole milk to a slow boil.  I let it go for one minute, and then added acid (lemon juice for me) one tablespoon at a time until we got curds and whey.  It took about 3 and a half tablespoons.  I separated the curds from the whey and drained the cheese.  Pressed it flat, salted it (just a little), and done.   I followed these instructions for paneer cheese.  Mine was definitely a first attempt.  It came out a little dense, which I think was too much acid and probably too much draining.  But it was still very good.

Liam helped with every step. He squeezed the lemon for the lemon juice.  He helped add the juice, and he helped stir it in to see the curds and whey.

We drained the whey and tasted the cheese (Good!).  We let the cheese drip for a while and then pressed it flat.  While we waited the approximately 100 years it took for the milk to reach a slow boil, Liam smashed the spice mix together for saag paneer.  (Which tonight he refused to eat.  Scrambled eggs and broccoli for Liam; but the vegan made a special exception so I didn't have to eat all of the paneer myself!)

The method for making paneer is nearly the same as for  homemade ricotta, which will definitely be my next try unless I skip straight to mozzarella.   What do you know. . .homemade cheese!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fences, flowers, and dancing the may pole

Liam's little school had its spring celebration today and they danced the may pole. 

The whole place was decorated with flowers.  Knowing that the children had done this themselves was wonderful.  Everyone was given a flower petal for a ticket.  Children gave the tickets and children took the tickets.

Liam had told me (tearfully) that he would not sing and he did not want to dance.  He has anxiety issues, other issues. . .he is who he is and right now that's a person who wants to, but often feels he can't because he is too scared.  He told me (tearfully, again) that Teacher Nick told him it was a "have to."  There aren't many "have to"s at his little school.  His teachers understood that, for him, "have to" is what it would take to push through the concerns.  They are so kind to all the children.  Liam came in first, closest to Teacher Nick.  This is to help him, but it is done so no one notices.  No one says -- you can be next to Teacher Nick; they just make it happen naturally, quietly; and let the love and support flow in that way. 

Little Liam, he is so very concerned about not doing it right. . . not being perfect.  But, he did it.  He  sang (a little) and he participated.   He was so excited afterwards.  And he was pretty exhausted later this afternoon; asleep by 7:15.  Now he knows that he can -- another step. 

At dinner tonight, Liam asked me: "Mommy, what did you do when you were at school?"  I said, well, you know, this and that.  But what I thought was never, ever anything as wonderful as you get to do every day at your little school.