Sunday, February 28, 2010

Just a blurb

I want March to be an active month around here, so I'm planning ahead! (A WTM-based homeschooler doing this thing called planning? Say it ain't so!)

1. I weeded out part of the garden today. Can you believe it's time to start thinking about food? Like I ever quit thinking about food. I've run the dishwasher no less than three times since Friday night and handwashed the dishes that don't fit in the dishwasher. To be fair, 1.5 of those loads came from all the Indian food, and I also made another pavlova because I saw the Valentine's picture and got a random craving.

2. I also plan to have a mom's tea on the 14th. I hope to post recipes and pictures from the tea itself. So far, the menu includes two pavlovas (pavlova? What would the plural of pavlova be? I can't NOT make these, though. They're the selling point to get people to come), cinnamon rolls, chocolate pie of some sort, lemon squares, and fresh fruit, plus tea, of course, and raspberry lemonade or hot cocoa - depending on the weather - for those who don't like tea.

3. M2's FIFTH birthday is later this month. That just blows me away. It really, really does. I cannot believe that it's been five years since she made me so sore and miserable that I couldn't walk, sleep, or otherwise function. I was never so happy as when I woke up at 4:30 a.m. three weeks before my due date with no bag packed and realized that the little brat had broken my water. Thank heaven she's cute. ;) I jest, of course, but I *was* ecstatic to finally meet her.

4. Spring Break! M2 gets two weeks off; ergo, so does M1. We're not planning any big trips, but I would like to get to a children's museum and am contemplating a trip to Leonardo's Discovery Warehouse in Enid. I think we're also going to go up to Kansas and visit my grandmother, since her birthday is also this month. She'll be 86!

5. School stuff. I don't often get around to talking about actual school stuff, but M1 has been doing some cool things. He's conducting an experiment right now involving growing bacteria in his dresser drawer (well, in muffin cups in plastic bags in the dresser drawer), and I want to get some photos of that. Plus, now that I'm digging in the garden and it's finally warming up, we can do our worm unit. I might try to get some video of him as well, or maybe a video of M2 practicing her violin.

Now that I've put all this in writing, I hereby promise to do my best to keep my word and tell you about it all.

Scout's honor.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Indian Feast (and other matters)

So I logged on today and realized it'd been almost three weeks since I've posted! I do apologize, but you really don't want to know THAT much about my life, do you? It's been horribly boring. Except for my friend's 40th birthday that involved a trip to Dave & Buster's and a cake that I made with a bottle of wine on the top also made out of cake. She loved it, and that was really cool, because she had had a really rough week that involved enough meds to make a druggie blink, so she needed the outing and the cake... and the gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma and the dozen or so mini-bottles of liquor that we also got her. And the pasties, but that's a whole other story.

However!

M1's been happy with school again, and this week we've been studying India, and so, in the tradition that we have around here, that means...

FEAST TIME!!!!!

Because I am the ultimate over-achiever with a horrid Type A personality, the menu read like that of a small Indian restaurant:

1. Tandoori chicken
2. Saag paneer
3. Indian fried rice
4. Gulab jamun
5. Chai

And because I really *AM* the ultimate over-achiever with a horrid Type A personality (no, really...), and I am also incredibly lazy and didn't feel like getting out of my holey gray sweatpants to make a trip to Whole Foods to find paneer and didn't decide till today that we were even having saag paneer...

I went to the small grocery store near my house where my happy holey sweatpants are socially acceptable and bought whole milk and...

Made my own paneer.

'Twas quite simple, actually.

You start with 3 quarts of whole milk and 1-1/2 tablespoons of salt...

Bring that to a happy little boil (and watch it like a hawk so it doesn't completely boil over, kill your stove and stink to high heaven like burned milk tends to do), turn the heat down, add 5 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice, give it a quick stir till all the curds rise to the top, and then drain it all in a cloth draped in a colander.

After you drain it for 10 minutes, then you wrap it all up tight, squash it between two plates and stick something heavy on the top to press it all together (I happened to have a case of silverware handy, but shhhh... that's just between you and me).

And that's how you make paneer.

Having finished the paneer, it was time to make the marinade for the tandoori chicken. Lots of spices and some plain yogurt were involved with that.

It came out absolutely delicious and, better yet, wasn't dyed red!

M1 helped make the dessert. Gulab jamun, it's called - fried milkballs in simple syrup. The local Indian restaurant serves them, and I've always loved them, but I've never made them. They are also incredibly easy to make.

Mix 1 cup of powdered milk with 1/2 c. Bisquick (of all things!) and enough whole milk to make a dough. Make balls out of the dough, and fry it on as low a heat as possible. They sink when they're raw but float when they're completely cooked, and you have to turn them constantly.
M1 did the turning and cooked all of them! It was the first time he'd ever worked with hot oil, and I was a bit nervous, but he did great!

Here they are resting on the plate. After you get them cooked, you mix up 1 c. water with 2 c. sugar and a bit of cardamom, heat that till everything's all melted, and let the milkballs soak in the syrup all day. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saag paneer, all finished.

Gulab jamun, after they've been soaking all day. Most delicious.

And because I can't resist, here's an extremely belated Valentine's Day wish for all of you.

Pavlova.

I'll be back soon! I promise!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Moments of pride and joy

I have a grainy photo to share with you today :)

I don't know whether you can see it or not, but on the top right corner of the page, it says "Final Test," and in red ink in the middle of the page, I wrote, "Perfect! 100%" because my boy totally aced his final exam from Math-U-See Alpha.

Because he passed (which I would have accepted anything around 90%), he earned himself a new toy. It's a Leapfrog Didj, and he's absolutely thrilled with it. Little does he know that the Indiana Jones game I got him to go with it will only supplement and reinforce his math learning - muah ha haa haaaaa....

I'm pretty proud of him right now. We've had some serious struggles with math over the last few months, so seeing him finally be able to "get" it is very fulfilling.

-----

I had another moment of pride on Tuesday.

I say that with great sarcasm and embarrassment.

I got my van stuck in my front yard. Not just a little stuck, either - STUCK stuck... the kind that requires big, strong men, a huge tow chain, and a very large truck to pull it out, and then the men step back and wonder how on earth one medium-sized woman can get a van that stuck in the mud while she hands them beer as payment and stands around looking useless and sheepish.

I didn't do it on purpose... obviously, one would hope... and if I *had* meant to do it on purpose, I sure wouldn't have picked this week to do it.

Why is it these things always happen when your spouse/significant other/only person you don't *mind* helping you out... is out of town?!?!? The last time something like this happened was last spring when I locked myself out of the house for almost the entire day. Oz was five hours away, in another state. The day that I got dragged by my car, Oz was three hours away, in another state. Two days ago, when I got the van buried in the mud, Oz was four hours away, in another state.

I think I've learned humility, God... now can ya cut me a wee bit o' slack? Please??

So how, you may ask, did I get the van stuck in the mud in my own front yard. Since I've already admitted to the doing of the deed, I figure I may as well share the rest of the story!

M1 and I had gone to Wal-Mart. He has outgrown his pants - again - and needed new ones (my 7-year-old son now wears size 10 slim pants, by the way), and we needed groceries, so off we went. This is not unusual for us on a Tuesday. I usually try to run errands on Tuesday. It's what I do.

So we went to Wal-Mart, got the groceries and the pants, paid for it, choked at the cost (as always), loaded it all into the back of the van, and headed home.

Now... as you know, it's been a bit snowy here lately, and it's been melting. I like that it's melting, but it does make my yard into a bit of a bog, a fact that I completely and utterly forgot while driving home from Wal-Mart.

So I pulled into my driveway, and the only way to back into my garage is to turn around in my yard and back in. This requires me to go a bit off the driveway. This would not have been a problem if my van was rear-wheel drive, but of course it isn't, and my driver's side front tire instantly got stuck. Nothing daunted, I got out, pulled a cardboard box apart, stuck it under the front tire, and figured I'd be able to get out.

I'm nothing if not resourceful and independent.

No such luck, however. The cardboard flew spectacularly up in front of the van, and I went precisely nowhere.

Still undaunted, I decided I'd see if I could go forward a few feet and then throw the van into reverse and give escaping the mud hole one last good shot.

So I put the van into drive, gunned the engine a bit...

... and flew forward like a bat out of Hades. Since I was facing a good old-fashioned pipe fence, I had to steer very quickly to not hit that, and the next thing I knew...

I was stuck. Forward, backward, and ranting all got me nowhere. I got out and took one good look at the now mud-filled tires, got back in the car, and just wanted to die.

But I couldn't do that, because I instantly realized that if I died, who was going to get M2 from school in three hours? Who was going to get M2 from school? That was the question.

Have I mentioned I love my in-laws? I called my mother-in-law, who said that she and my youngest brother-in-law would be out to help as quickly as they could. So I hauled all the bags out of the back of the van, fixed M1 and I some lunch, and posted a rant about my day on a forum. No sense in having a bad day if you can't share it with someone.

My in-laws showed up, and my BIL tried to pull me out using a brand-new tow rope.

The van didn't budge.

He turned his truck around and tried again.

Still nothing.

It was time to call in the cavalry. So my MIL placed a call to one of her friends, my BIL went to get M2 from school, and the friend arrived with his heavy-duty Dodge, a very large tow chain, and complete incredulity at the way I'd managed to bury the van so well. Did I mention that the way the van was positioned, there was no way to push from the front? The nose was almost on the ground.

If I'm gonna screw up, I'm gonna do it right!

An hour later, the van was out. As mentioned, beer was offered as a poor means of payment to the guys who had been laboring over (and probably cursing at) my van for a good chunk of the afternoon.

There are still very large scars in my lawn from where the van was pulled out. I'm leaving them to show Oz when he gets home so I can explain to him why he should never leave me alone again, to which he'll probably laugh, give me a hug, and tell me he's flying out next Thursday.

Or something like that.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The obligatory ice storm post (and a fun story)

So we survived the Great Ice Storm of 2010 That Thankfully Wasn't as Great as the Great Ice Storm of 2007. At least, it wasn't as bad here, anyway. There were other parts of the state that got hit much, much harder.

All that to basically say we didn't lose power for a week this time.

Thank heaven.

The power did flicker a time or two, and we had gotten some extra propane and an indoor-safe heater, just in case, and I had mentally made preparations (no extra shopping... I have a bit of an apocalyptic mentality that requires me to keep a full pantry at all times, anyway), but we never did actually lose power for any amount of time.

I had fun taking a few photos, especially after it started snowing on Friday morning.



The kids couldn't get over the fact that the tree branches were buried in the snow.

M2: "They're touching the ground, Mama! Look!"

M1: "Mom, is that tree gonna break?"

Me: "I don't know, baby, but it sure is bending."

One child or the other: "Can I go outside and touch it?"

Me: "Um... no... but thanks for asking!"

It didn't break, by the way. That tree is extremely flexible. It survived 2007 fairly intact, too.

I thought we'd go a bit stir-crazy over a three-day weekend where we were all cooped up together, but the kids kept themselves pretty busy.

M1 broke out his tools - REAL tools - that Granny gave him for Christmas along with some wood - REAL wood - and built a little table. He loves woodworking, which does and doesn't surprise me. I thought the noise of hammering would be too much for him, but he pounds away without even blinking.



M2 wanted mint hot chocolate, also a gift from Granny. I made that and also served up some snow ice cream. I hadn't made any of that in a long time. It reminds me a lot of the ice cream I had growing up, since "premium" ice cream in my youth meant that Grandpa had churned it himself in the storm cellar beneath the house. My kids and husband, on the other hand, are ice cream snobs.

It almost made me sad.

But then I got to eat the rest of it, and I got over it.

And now it's all melting.

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And now for something completely different.

I want to share a web site with you. But first, a story.

M1 and I went to the pediatrician today. He's been having asthma attacks this fall and winter, which is something new for him, and I needed guidance in how to manage it.

I love our pediatrician.

So we got into the office and started going over the details, and the pediatrician nodded and told me we needed an asthma action plan and a peak flow meter to measure how well his lungs were working. So she stepped out to get the sheet for the plan and the meter for us to take home.

I really, really love our pediatrician.

And then she walked back in with this:


And I about died laughing.

That, my friends, is Ebola virus, in plush form, straight from giantmicrobes.com. Oddly enough, I had known of this site previously. One of my friends was gifted the Swine Flu plush toy after her family contracted the virus over the fall; another one had received a louse after she had to deal with that in a family that wasn't even hers. The pediatrician had received Ebola (among others) from her son at Christmas, and she just KNEW that my son would appreciate it. Which he did... does...

And the pediatrician also got a good kick out of hearing about the swine flu and louse stories. Her quote: "It's good to know you have as warped a sense of humor as my family."

Love my pediatrician. I'd be friends with her even if she wasn't my kids' doctor.

Hope you got a good giggle, and enjoy checking out the site. Hope you can find something on there to amuse yourself or your friends with!