Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Clearing Out the "Edit Posts" List

I have sat down and started about 5 blog posts over the past 2 weeks, but none have managed to flourish into completion. Being a bit disappointed in myself for not maintaining my personal goal of at least one post per week, I am going ahead and posting this complete stream of consciousness entry.

So what were those other posts going to be about? Here is the low-down...

Baby Whale tried to nurse boats in Australia
....brought back many memories of nursing our children. I found it very sad that this little newborn was so desperately trying to latch-on and aren't all newborns as clueless about their surroundings? Put just about anything in front of them and they will suck it; just ask any new parent's finger if this is true.

Mother Gorilla mourns dead baby
.... The mother did not want to give up the corpse of her dead baby that died from a suspected heart defect. Many people doubt whether animals have any parental feelings beyond instinct, but perhaps humans are too far removed from parental instinct. It is especially evident when there are so many instances of child neglect, like this recent story about an 11-month-old that died of starvation and dehydration.

The last news story that I started to post about was (surprisingly) not about animals, but about The Recent Immunization Debate that seems to be going on day-in and day-out over at MSNBC.
Lax vaccinations causes whooping cough outbreak -- link
Vaccines cause autism -- link
Vaccines are not linked to autism -- link
(the above to articles are older but referenced heavily)

Aug. 21- Non-vaccinating causes more measles -- link
Aug. 22- Non-vaccinated kids pose a health risk to everyone -- link
Aug. 25- Our kids shouldn't play together -- link
Where do I even start with this one? I, for one, am cautiously suspicious of vaccinations, but our children have had the shots on the infant/toddler schedule. They have not had any of the school age booster shots.

I imagine that if I had been more informed about the dangers of the shots and the actual effectiveness (or should I say ineffectiveness) of immunizations, we may have chosen a different route, but either way, there is no reason for parents to be in such an uproar and battling it out over this.

Don't we all do the best we can to take responsibility and make intelligent decisions for our children? Are any of us so confident in our daily choices that we want to force our decisions onto other parents?

This is simply a great way for MSNBC to maintain their readership. Get everyone to take a side then maintain this perpetual debate.

So those are the thoughts and perspectives that have been swimming around in my head recently and now that they are out of the way, I can now post about what has been occupying my time since last Monday.

....But now I am out of time again and I need to get up and chase my naked 2-year-old!

I'll be back later, I'm determined!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Easy" Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

I have never posted a recipe before, but this is an easy favorite of mine. Cooler weather will hopefully be arriving soon and soup is great when it's cold outside.

"Easy" Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

  • 46 oz can of tomato juice
  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream*
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter*
  • 5-6 tomatoes
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic (add this to suit your preference)
  • Fresh Basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
* This is what the original recipe calls for. I have only made it like this two times and it was, of course, delicious, but lets get real folks, how much milk-fat does one family need?! I usually substitute half-and-half for the cream and margarine for the butter. (I once tried it with fat-free half-and-half, but it was not very good. Fat-free is mostly corn syrup.)

1. Peel and seed the tomatoes. (There is a learning curve on peeling and seeding tomatoes, but once you get it, it's not a big deal. Here is an instructional video just in case.)

2. Simmer together tomatoes, tomato juice, butter and garlic for about an hour and a half. (I often throw this into the crockpot and cook on high for 3-4 hours. That way I don't have to monitor it and I can instead monitor the children!)

3. Remove heat and allow soup to cool. Put mixture into a blender, add 6-7 leaves of fresh basil and blend together. (This is where a hand-held blender comes in quiet handy. I use mine to blend the soup right in the cooking pot. You still should wait until it has cooled a bit because scalding hot soup splattered up your arm is not pleasant.)

4. Return soup to pot and add cream, simmer for an additional 30 minutes. (Again, you can put this together in a crockpot on low for about an hour and not have to worry about it.)

5. Serve and enjoy.

Looking over the recipe now, I realize that perhaps it is not as easy as I thought. Maybe I have just made it so many times that it seems to require little effort. Hopefully you will give it a try and let me know in the comments how it works out.

BTW - ALL of our kids, even our very pickiest eater, eat and enjoy this soup. I usually add crackers or bread to thicken-up our toddler's bowl. He isn't all that great at spooning liquids.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Wedding, a Bit of Confusion and the Summer is Over

I suppose the summer is drawing to a close. The public schools have started back and I am just beginning to see a tinge of red in a few leaves on the Bradford Pear tree that waves to our bedroom window each day.

We rounded out our very busy summer with an annual New Hampshire visit. This year we journeyed in August so that our trip would coincide with my sister-in-law's wedding.

Stacey Elizabeth Holland married Christopher Joseph on Saturday, August 2, 2008 on Bear Island in Meredith, NH. What a beautiful bride and a beautiful wedding!

But, I must admit that the ceremony's procedure created a bit of temporary confusion in our four-year-old's mind - Let me explain....
Setting: The lake side home of Barney and Bettyanne Holland, bright flowers adorn every walkway and the weather is pleasantly warm and sunny. Sunshine filters through the pines and the water sparkles.
Scene: Standing on a prominent rock, about 3-feet over the guests are the groom and his best man. The wedding music plays as the wedding party walks down a path. First, toddler Henry is lead by his daddy and brings flowers to the mother of the bride and of the groom. Next appear the two lovely flower girls, Elora Holland and her cousin Erin. They are followed by two young ring bearers, 7-year-old Corbin and 4-year-old Jacob.
The boys took their job of carrying the rings very seriously. Corby told them that if they dropped the rings, Aunt Stacey would not be able to get married. We were so happy that all of our children could participate in their aunt's wedding!
Next appears the matron of honor holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers. (Yes, I was the matron of honor but I still can't get over the word matron. It just sounds so....well, you can imagine!.) Last, the radiant bride is escorted by her father and the wedding begins.
The rock we were standing on was very large, probably more than 100 square feet of surface area, so there was plenty of room to stand on, but I must admit that during the ceremony I was mostly concentrating on not falling. The rock was pretty uneven and you know I just had to wear those cute little bronze heels instead of hiking boots which would have given me a lot more traction!

Despite my balancing act, I still got a little emotional when Stacey echoed "Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay." Even now the words move me.

Back to the wedding:
The ceremony is complete and the bride and groom kiss. He escorts her down the rock.
Here is the tricky part.
The best man (Chris' friend Dave) turns and takes the matron of honor's arm (that's me) and he escorts her down the rock and follows the bride and groom. The guests are excited, but as the wedding party departs they quiet. Just at that moment the four-year-old exclaims, rather loud for all to hear -
"Did Mommy just marry another man?!?"

Poor Jacob! Could he have really thought I was getting married too! Needless to say, there were many helpful and somewhat snickering family members to help clear-up his confusion.

Despite my failed attempt to acquire a second husband (darn-it), we really enjoyed our little vacation. It was a great way to close a busy summer of swim-team and home repairs. Now it's on to soccer and school.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Very Busy Summer So Far

It's been well over a month since my last post, but we have been very busy and we remain extremely so!

In early May we spent a wonderful week meeting and visiting with my father's side of the family in Destin, Florida. The beach was beautiful and the kids loved playing in the ocean, but none of that compared to the precious time we were able to spend with family from all over the country. Who would have guessed that so many people who had never met would have so much in common and be so much alike! In the end we all went our separate ways, but I hope our reunion becomes a regular event because we miss everyone dearly.

As soon as we returned home we jumped back into Corbin's baseball season with a game the day after our drive. Uncle V. arrived a few days later for a week long stay and Elora's dance recital. The recital went very well and I was impressed by many of the dancers' abilities. This is our first year participating in the evening performance, so there were even adult dancers in some of the classes.

After our company departed for Pennsylvania, with dance class wrapped-up and baseball coming to a close we moved into the summer swim team season. This year we have two swimmers, but unfortunately the practice daily at two different times! Needless to say, I typically spend all of my weekday mornings at the pool.

While the kids focus on their sports and activities, Corby and I are working hard to fix-up our rental house in order to sell it.

People warned us that renters will trash your house but we were not prepared for some of the strange and destructive things they did to our property. Were these people crazy? I think they were trying to re-mulch our flower beds with cigarette butts and cat litter! Gross!!

We have spent every spare hour painting over nail polish marks on the walls and ripping-up pet stained and smelly carpet. We did get quotes from handymen and painters, but needless to say, nothing saves money like doing it yourself....yay.

On top of all of this, Corby committed himself way back, early in the spring, to a Shakespeare on the Mountain theater production, and because his performances start next weekend, practices are almost every night.

This all stand to reason why the PB&J Chronicles have been a little quiet, but I hope to squeeze in some blogging time this summer so keep checking for updates!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Mosquito That Rings In Your Ear

A particular news story has been ringing in my ears this week, perhaps you have also heard about The Mosquito.

A new device dubbed The Mosquito is being reported as a revolutionary teen loitering deterrent. This small box with a $1500 price tag is designed to be affixed to a location and emit a high frequency sound that is supposedly heard only by teenagers. Its makers at kidsbegone.com claim that this sound is merely annoying and drives the young, would-be vagrants to a "quieter" location.

Curious as to what this "mosquito buzzing in your ear" may actually sound like, I did a quick Google search and found a few links that are supposedly the same sound amplified by the device.
When I played the Mp3 at a low volume, I was unable to hear the sound, but after cranking the dial up I was indeed able to hear a high pitched ringing sound, that in no way resembled the sound of an insect. Imagine instead the high pitched ring that resonates in your ears after spending hours at a loud concert or perhaps after being too close to fireworks on Fourth of July.

Interested in whether my husband could hear the sound, I played it a few times more. My daughter, who is nine, could hear the sound at a very low volume as could my seven year old son, our four year old even came into the room to ask us to please "turn off the alarm".

The kids all complained that the sound was too loud and, to my shock and surprise, they said that it hurt their ears.

I understand the frustration of businesses and property managers when teenagers decide that their stoop is a great new hang-out, but using a method of control that is indiscriminate in who it drives away is a terrible idea. More importantly, we have no research into what prolonged exposure may do to young children, who are definitely able to hear this sound. Fortunately, there are other people who share this view and are taking action.

This new invention also offers us a opportunity to consider how adults and teens are interacting.

I find it a bit disconcerting that adults would prefer the anonymous communication provided by a technological sound box as opposed to an actual conversation with teenagers or their parents. I have no doubt that teens can be difficult to reason with, but perhaps they would be better suited for adulthood if we actually began to teach them to interact with adults in a mature manner when they are young.

Our society seems to view adolescence as a complete vacation from reality, authority, and responsibility. Now, thanks to this new automated dog whistle, we can add human communication to that list!!!

If you would like to listen to those high-pitched frequencies, here is a link and an article explaining a bit of the science here, but be aware that prolonged listening can aggravate your ears.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

No One Said It Was Going To Be Easy

Today, while reading a post about new parenting over at Cafe Asteria, I found it interesting how quickly new parents become seasoned veterans in their own right. A few months of parenting may not entitle you to write a book or give parenting advice on a daytime talk show, but after one week with an infant, there are quite a few tasks that you begin to master to perfection.

Trial and error, and repetition, and repetition, and repetition, and repetition, slowly evolve the uneasy and inexperienced parents into trained diapering and swaddling machines. The nervous insecurities melt away into confidence and proficiency. What a wonderful feeling!

But, here's the rub...

As soon as you acquire your black-belt in midnight feeding, it is time for your baby to sleep through the night. And just when you earn your Olympic gold medal in changing a diaper on your lap in a car, it is time to potty train. You can even memorize all of the names and numbers of the Thomas the Tank engines, much to your toddler's pleasure, but in a few years it won't even matter because he will have moved onto something different.

It becomes more and more difficult to maintain that wonderful feeling of knowing exactly what to do to care for a child, because the older they get, the more complicated that job becomes.

Moms and dads struggle to stay on top of the ever changing parenting terrain by learning new tricks, adapting old techniques and forgetting some skills all together. We fight the early childhood battle of "just keeping them alive" and later move into the vast gladiator arena of trying to "teach them to be good people without screwing them up".

Parents must constantly gauge and assess their children in order to figure out what to do next. We read books and research. We ask questions and try new things. We attempt to manipulate any available aspect in life for their benefit, but it never feels like enough.

For me, that wonderful "good parent" feeling is nothing more than a distant memory, only replaced with uneasiness and doubt.

I look back on the infant era of colic and projectile spit-up and think "those were the good ol' days". Back then you knew where you stood with a child. If they were fed and asleep, you knew you had done your duty and you deserved a pat on the back.

Now when I go to bed every night I wonder, what strange and perplexing problem I will have to adapt to in the morning? What disturbing, unexplainable thing will I find broken, smelly or altogether missing? What questions will they ask me about life and what questions will I have to ask them? What if they don't tell the truth or if I catch them in a lie?

Each day brings new challenges, but perhaps what is even more worrisome than my infinitely imagined scenarios, is the idea that what if tomorrow is the day that I won't be able to figure out what to do?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You Know You're a Parent When...

...you find yourself questioning a four-year-old as to why he was stashing two weeks worth of apple cores behind the couch.