The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round and Round

This happened a couple of years ago, but I was reminded of it recently.  I had taken the kids to the Henry Ford Museum one dreary weekday.  At the time my oldest was three and I only had a one year old in addition to him.  Winter in Michigan can drive you stir crazy, especially if you have only young kids.  All of this happened in my pre-homeschooling days so I had flung myself fully into the whole “preschool mom” thing.  We sang Wheels on the Bus wherever we went, making up new verses when we ran out of the classics.  There were craft projects and sensory boxes and finger plays.  Really, it was an early childhood my youngest kids never experienced.  I like to tell myself that the littlest kids had a different, yet equally stimulating early childhood.  Like “separate but equal”, and we all know history’s opinion on that.

And, speaking of, it was Black History Month.  Black History Month always strikes me as funny since the word “black” has joined other words like “negro” and “colored” as historical words and “black history” has joined the United Negro College Fund and the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People as entities who refuse to change names to suit modern taste.   I always liked the symmetry of black and white; “African-American” is terribly imprecise: it doesn’t refer to Americans who recently came from Africa, or Americans from North Africa, or people whose ancestors came from Africa to Canada or the Caribbean.  Sadly, no one asked my opinion when we moved on from “black”.

car

So we come to the Henry Ford Museum that February not to learn anything about Black History Month (a 3yo and a 1yo preclude one from learning much about anything, ever) but more to look at old trains and cars and farm implements.  There’s a car you can “drive” as well as a harvester and a train.  It’s basically a 3 year old boy’s nirvana.  So we worked our way through the museum “driving” as we went.  In the center of the museum is the civil rights display whose center piece is the Rosa Parks bus.  On that day there was a field trip of 3rd graders, all African-American, getting a history lesson while sitting in the bus.

Owen wanted to drive, obviously.  And, since we know a song about what the driver on the bus says, he thought he’d throw that out there too.  So my lily white little boy marched up to the front of that bus of African-American students learning all about Rosa Parks and loudly said “I’m the driver of the bus and you all need to move on back (move on back, move on back.  The driver of the bus says move on back, all through the town!)  I’m pretty sure I heard crickets chirp in the silence that followed, but that doesn’t seem likely as it was February and we were in a museum.

Instead of explaining about the song and the driving and the fact that my son was three and, despite it being black history month, he wasn’t exactly savvy enough to purposefully make a racial blunder as profound as what had just occurred…instead, I scooped him up and ran away in horror.  Because I’m a good role model like that.

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Whatever

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Hey, look at that, I have a blog.  I nearly forgot.  I started selling at the farmers’ market (I think that’s where we left off) and then I started volunteering at the kids’ school two days a week and then we went to Maine.  So it’s been a busy time.

Maine was lovely, thanks for asking.  It’s 3.5 hours from our house and I’d never been before.  We rented a cottage near the beach in York and ate obscene amounts of seafood morning, noon, and night.  Leo and I had lobster rolls for breakfast twice.  Owen (who is allergic to shellfish) had mussels at every meal (they’re mollusks) and we managed not to sicken him with all the shellfish nearby.  Ice cream was consumed nightly.  Joe threw enough rocks into the ocean to raise sea levels globally by at least an inch.  Patrick carried around a pound of sand in his diaper wherever we went (ow).  It was lovely.

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The house is actually getting towards being done.  I really didn’t think this day would ever come (which is funny because it’s only been a few months).  The upstairs bathroom still needs tile and I think we talked about a coat of paint on the pantry.  The outside of the house needs major attention but the inside is pretty close.

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Before and after on the bathroom

Today the Vermont sales guy had a function to go to so we were short staffed.  Burlington has a little bit better sales than Rutland so I went there.  In Rutland I usually gave out 50 or so samples.  In Burlington I gave out 206 before I ran out of cups!  It was quite a day.  They were having a week-long jazz festival in the same park as the farmers’ market.  That started at noon so the last two hours of the market where nearly impossible to talk to people because of the extremely loud music.

I live near a woman who invented a type of rug punch (fascinating, no?)  After reading about her one night and then hearing multiple mentions of rug hooking, I got it in my head to try it out.  So I did.  It was a lot of fun (and I still have the other half of my 4 hour intro course to do) but it just killed my hands.  The hand surgeon had given me the steroid shots two weeks ago and they’ve already worn off which I think means that surgery is in my near future.  That also means that I probably should not sign up to spar in the next karate tournament (the only adult category is 18+.  Those 18yo whippersnappers should know they’ve dodged a bullet).  I could just compete in a different category, I suppose, but many of the forms popular with the ladies involve doing the splits or some sort of acrobatics and why oh why DON’T THEY HAVE A MIDDLE AGED CATEGORY BECAUSE I CAN’T COMPETE AGAINST TEENAGE GYMNASTS???

So, there you have it, from the farmers’ market to the structure of karate tournaments.  We still have 2.5 weeks of school left here before we move in to summer mode.  I still can’t decide if it will be more or less chaotic then.  I guess I’ll find out.

tractors

Morning Glory Cookies

I like to celebrate the kids’ Saints feast days. “Like” means that it happens, oh, about 30% of the time (when I actually remember and have the energy). Owen’s Saint’s feast day is awkward because it’s right after his birthday and we’re all celebrated out by then. Mary’s is easy but also easy to put off because there are so many dates from which to choose. Patrick is a cinch to remember as St. Patrick’s Day is a pretty big deal, but it’s easy to fall into the corned beef and green beer trap (plus my Patrick is 1 so he’s a little young for green beer). So that leaves me with St. Joseph’s Day, which is today (May 1).

St. Joseph’s Day is apparently a big deal in Sicily. I love reading about all the recipes with olives and preserved fish and tomatoes. Unfortunately that would never fly here. I make all sorts of dishes for the family that I honestly think at least some people will like only to find myself begging and pleading with all four kids at the table to at least try it. So Sicilian food is out. And I’d already planned French dips for tonight. So I needed a dessert…I decided to make one, didn’t have the ingredients on hand for most so I made one up and it is AMAZING. I present to you…drumroll please…

St. Joseph’s Morning Glory Carpenter Square Cookies!

St. Joseph is often pictured carrying a carpenter square.  Unfortunately it also looks just like those weird sword weapons the orcs used in the Lord of the Rings.  Obviously, these cookies can be cut into any shape you like.  But I’m going the extra mile today.  He is, after all, St. Joseph the Worker.  If he was St. Joseph the Mail It In-er, it might be different.

St_ Joseph

Since we’re doing a mash-up of recipes, why not present it in a mash-up of styles?  I really like the Pioneer Woman’s blog and also Illustrated with Crappy Pictures.  So the following is an attempt at blow-by-blow picures like PW, but taken with my phone so…Crappy.

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You want to use the smallest holes on the grater for this recipe.  Here’s the apple.  It’s starting to turn brown because Joe asked for apple cider, which I gave him, but he really meant apple juice and there was much back and forth over whether he would drink the cider.  Why do we have both juice and cider?  No idea.

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The carrots are on top of the apples.  They look much happier, no?

20140501_130346Wring out the grated apple, carrot, and orange zest in a clean kitchen towel.  The juice is tasty and would cost you at least $3 at a Lebanese carryout place so wring over a glass if you so choose.  Wow, this looks like a hairball.  Stay with me, people, the results are AWESOME.

2014-05-01 14.03.32Cream the butter and brown sugar, add the hairball grated stuff and the rest of the ingredients.  Mix!

20140501_150919Hey look at that, the dough is almost the same color as my Harvest Gold counters.  That’s a karate cookie cutter, btw.  It looks like outline of a dead body all by itself though.  No one was murdered on top of my cookie dough.  Oh,btw, you really need sharp metal cutters to cut through the coconut.

Bake.

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I didn’t say they were gorgeous, I said they were DELICIOUS. Maybe carpenter squares aren’t the best shape.  I did the karate guys to hedge my bets.

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Joe ate more cookies than I am comfortable in publically admitting.  I  might have forgotten to tell the kids about the carrots in them.  No one noticed.

 

Morning Glory Cookies

1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
5 ounces salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1/2 of a medium Granny Smith apple, finely grated
1 t vanilla
1 t ground cinnamon
zest of one orange

Mix the coconut, flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy.

Place the grated apple, carrot and orange zest in a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much juice as you can.  Stir the carrot, apple, and orange zest into the flour mixture, and mix until well coated and evenly dispersed. Stir the flour mixture and the remaining ingredients into the butter mixture until a dough forms, then knead a couple times to bring everything together. Split the dough in two, flatten each piece into an inch-thick patty, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.

When you’re ready to bake the shortbread, roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface 1/2-inch thick/1cm. Use a metal cutters to stamp out cookies, then place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies start to brown just a bit.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on the size.

 

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meh

I’ve been suffering from a serious case of “meh” lately.  Maybe it was the 12 hour drive to and then again from Detroit for Easter break.  Or maybe it’s that it’s Spring and not nearly as cold, but still cold enough for a coat weather and seriously will I ever be warm again?  Or maybe it’s having a break and then going back to the grind.  Or the fact that I still have 8,456 boxes to unpack. For whatever reason, it’s “meh” all over here.

I decided that I couldn’t possibly put off potty training Joe any longer.  Potty training is – hands down – my least favorite parenting duty.  I started potty training Owen before his third birthday and it was a total disaster.  I was still recovering emotionally when Mary turned 3.  I put it off so long that she actually asked to potty train and that was that.  In one thousand years Joe probably wouldn’t think to ask so I put it off because we drove to Florida before Christmas.  Then we were about to move (the change would probably just make him regress, right?) then there was that drive to and from Detroit…

So that’s happening.  He is VERY motivated by candy (he demands “poop treats”, “pee treats” and even “fart treats” which are NOT A THING but he won’t believe me.  Hopefully we’ll be well established in this before the next 12 hour trip back to Michigan.

living room
I would add a before picture but can’t seem to find one right now.
Just know that it was bad.  Real bad.

My living room is box free!  Plus it contains a 6yo watching tv on the iPad who has thrown her dirty socks on the floor.  I’ll take that over boxes any day.  We shoved the coffee table to the side in order to practice karate there, which we do over the internet.  I probably should have bothered to put it back.  The books in the bookcase are a really odd mix of our college books, homeschooling books, kids’ easy readers, and cookbooks.  But I can sort them later, right?

I got all hopped up on homesteading blogs recently and decided to make face cream.  It actually turned out really well, better than the kind I had been using and much, much cheaper. It took all of 5 minutes maybe and now I feel totally self-sufficient, like I’m ready to shear my own sheep to make a sweater.  Directions here. Obviously it  smells like tea tree oil after you add the tea tree oil.  You probably put that together immediately.  I did not.

I’ve also decided to ferment a bunch of things after reading all those homesteading blogs.  The kids will just LOVE my new hobby, I just know it.  A family of 6 needs at least 3 or 4 kinds of sauerkraut, right?

The Palm Sunday where feminine products rained from the sky

Apparently there are people who think “church is boring”.  That is never my problem.  Ever.  I have too many little kids.  I would LOVE it if church was actually boring; I could sit still, pay attention, maybe even learn something.  Instead, it’s chaos.  Always chaos.

Today is Palm Sunday.  The Catholic online world began steeling itself for Palm Sunday several days ago.  They hand out blessed palms at the beginning of Mass on Palm Sunday.  No child has ever not used these as weapons.  And so Palm Sunday is especially challenging for parents.

The town our parish is in has Easter break this week (our Easter break isn’t until next week) so there was no religious ed. before Mass.  That worked out perfectly as I planned on being a few minutes late to avoid getting palms until after church (I know, I know.  I do what I have to, to survive).  Unfortunately, we ended up being more than a moment or two late.  It was one of those mornings where both Leo and I were running around screaming things like “WHERE ARE THE BABY’S SHOES?” and “YOU MUST WEAR A SHIRT” (directed at a child.  Not Leo)

So we roll in right as the first reading starts.  The pews are full.  The kids are delighted that we have to sit in the balcony.  I hate the balcony.  There isn’t the public pressure to behave like you’d get in a normal pew.  The 3 year old thinks you can run around and the acoustics are such that it has a drum-like effect, amplifying every step.  The balcony is stressful.  But it was our only option.

So, I’m sitting in the balcony, 20 month old son on my lap.  The Palm Sunday Gospel is a participatory one so I have an open missal on my lap and I’m trying to follow along and keep the baby somewhat happy.  So I wasn’t really paying attention.  Something yellow flew passed my face.  It landed somewhere on the people below.

“What was that?” my husband asked.  “It was yellow.”

“I don’t know.”

We looked at each other.

Then I realized what it was.

Yellow.  About 3″ x 4″.  Lightweight.  “60% more absorbent.” “With wings”

That was an Always Regular that flew over the balcony.

I looked down.  The head usher was directly below us.  Everyone was at the most solemn part of one of the most solemn Masses of the year. “Let Him be crucified!” everyone read.  I turned bright red.  Stifled a laugh.  Leo was trying hard to keep it together.  The usher guy had been hit in the head with a maxi pad during the gospel.

Luckily I was too busy keeping kids in order to really be as embarrassed as I should be.  I found the pad, well under the balcony so I know there’s no way it fell there, on the same table with the blessed palms.  I grabbed it as surreptitiously as I could.  And tried to comport myself like I knew nothing about it.

And thus ends another non-boring Mass.  I can only hope Easter is closer to boring.

The 6 year old in the pink dress is really a liquor salesmen

It all ends with Mary, age 6, walking in to the Farmers’ Market this morning and demanding to know “Do you sell liquor here?”

Mary is the entrepreneur of the kids.  She is always looking to make a buck.  She doesn’t much like spending money (not more than any other kid, I guess) but she’s nuts for making it.  That all sounds like a great attribute in a kid but, when I ask for her help, half the time she wants to know the pay upfront and gets a little pouty when I tell her “nothing”.

When we first were considering the move to Vermont, Mary’s first reaction was “I’m going to have a roadside farm stand!”  She hasn’t forgotten this in the intervening months and, on the first nice day, she broke ground.

marydigging

The whiskey company that Leo works for has toyed with the idea of having a table at the local farmers market.  They have many vegetable beds at their farm and could easily supply enough to sell.  Mary picked up on that and it was a done deal, at least to her.

I’m not sure how we started talking about her selling the actual whiskey, but that was mentioned.  Leo’s boss told her that she’d get a $5 commission per bottle.  Her eyes got wide.  “How many people are there at the Farmers’ Market?”  She was adding it up.  The train had already left the station and it was all over.

As she was going to bed, I tried to temper the excitement: “Honey, I don’t think they allow liquor sales in the Farmers’ Market”.  “But maybe, maybe they do!” she countered.  “And, if they did allow liquor sales, they wouldn’t let 6 year olds sell it”. “Let’s check it out together tomorrow”.

It was a plan.  Let the powers-that-be break my daughter’s heart!  I’m not proud of my parenting decisions but being the bad guy All. The. Time. gets old.

So, this morning, we headed out to the Farmers’ Market.  It just so happened that we were a little early so we stopped at the Otter Creek Bakery, you know, just to kill time (I didn’t pad in an extra 20 minutes on purpose, promise).  I’m in love with this place.  Seriously.  It is teeny-tiny and yet they have such an incredible variety of things (all yummy).  I got a cappuccino, adorned with a C (which I’d like to think was for me but is more likely for Cappuccino) and an almond croissant with orange zest.  Mary had an apple strudel and a hot chocolate.  It was amazing.  I love that place.

 croissant

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Middlebury Love cookies (that’s a green frosting heart right over Middlebury)

Then we hit the Farmers’ Market.  And Mary walked in, demanding to know if they sold liquor.  The guy she asked didn’t seem nearly as startled as I imagine I might be.  The winter market is in an elementary school and the guy thought that, that alone would probably mean the answer is no.  He thought it might still be possible for the summer market, though.  So thank you, Farmers’ Market Dude, for keeping my six year old daughter’s liquor selling dreams alive.  Hopefully the whiskey company lawyer (Leo) can do a little research on that on before Memorial Day. And then he can break her heart.  In the meantime, we’ll be developing alternate business plans.