Saturday, November 28, 2009

On Beyond Bovine #19 – Broccoli

Bet you thought I forgot about this thing?

Yeah, I’m just a slacker. But since we're trying to do more fresh stuff now, I'll probably have a few more of these.

So the alternative title for this post is “Adventures in overcooked broccoli”

Sounds fun right?

I decided to make Beef and Broccoli from a recipe from The Pioneer Woman’s website, although the recipe is actually from someone else.

So I cut up the broccoli (which I keep trying to spell broccoli.)

And the beef (fun tip: put the meat in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to make slicing it easier.)

Also, new to me are these three ingredients – I had heard of but never actually used the oyster sauce and the other two I actually had to go to the local smelly Chinese grocery store to find.

I made the marinade and set the meat in it.

I then proceeded to screw up. I steamed the broccoli entirely too long.

I pan fried the meat - as per the directions, and then added the sauce.

Then I added the over cooked broccoli to the meat and it let out a bunch of water which made the whole dish entirely too watery and there was no thickening it up and every time I stuck my spoon in it the broccoli disintegrated some more and the was like broccoli mush and beef by the time I was done.

That being said - the flavor was right (although I should have added more pepper and surprisingly a little more salt) so if I make it again, I just have to not overcook the broccoli.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My own personal narrator

I’m not sure if any of you are blind. But I have such a great business idea.

Parade buddies.

See – on the one hand, one might think that just because you are blind you might no longer enjoy going to parades, as most of the joy of a parade is in the visual aspect.

But if you took a buddy with you. One who narrates everything to you unceasingly – you wouldn’t miss out on anything.

The idea came to me after taking Landon down the Lake Jackson for the Festival of Lights parade. I had kind of ulterior motives, since I wanted to see the band. Mr. Koch apparently does not age, and Mr. Casey is like 107 now.

I also thought we’d get to go to the festival itself, but he fell asleep on the way down there, and when I transported him into my parents’ house he never woke up. In fact 2 hours later I was waking him up because we had to leave to go to the parade. 2 hours is a lot of time to waste in your parents home when they’re not there and you didn’t bring anything to do.

He loved the parade. He talked for the entire 2 hours we were there.

And thank God, that we found a place to stand near a woman who probably would have taken him home with her if I would have let her instead of someone less receptive of small people talking to them.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I don’t know if I mentioned it before or not, but one of my birthday presents this year was a set of classes to learn to decorate cakes. I think my mother-in-law could have used more help with the train cake – because I was seriously like no help at all!

The classes were really fun and we learned everything from the little stars you use to cover the character cakes from Wilton to clowns to roses. Um…you should probably not request that I decorate your cake with roses, unless you like roses that look like they’ve been run over by the lawn mower.

Anyway, this past Saturday was my final class. We had to bring in two 8 inch round cakes, and enough icing to ice them and decorate them. Most people brought in yellow cake, but because I’m difficult, I brought in chocolate (I was one of 3 who brought in non-yellow cake). They gave us a choice of fillings, so I use Bavarian cream. The cake was awesome. I told Clint I was bringing whatever was left to work today and he told me no. He said he would eat it – so it can’t be that bad.

It's no train cake, but it's not bad for a first timer. And it matched my kitchen wallpaper...kind of.

And it's tasty too!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Well isn’t that craptacular

I’m working on my positive thinking these days. It is seriously working in parts of my life that I need it to. (Hey maybe you should stop having fake arguments in your head with people before anything actually happens and then when you see them you won’t already be mad at them about the fake argument you had in your head – which never comes to fruition anyway. It’s poisoning your relationships.)

Now, I don’t want to make you think my life is centered around the day care or anything, or that I feel like they should make me feel like puppies and rainbows are coming out of my butt every time I encounter them, but – they have been the brunt of my frustration for the past couple weeks – and I’m not even talking about homework this time.

Last week the day care began reporting behavior in terms of happy faces and sad faces giving one face for the morning and one face for the afternoon. Landon had a REALLY bad week that first week.

  • This week he has happy faces across the board, I’m glad the threat of losing his toys works on him and we didn’t have to resort to harsher punishments.

Yesterday they called to tell me that Landon had an accident and that he didn’t have a change of clothes. I told them I had put a full change of clothes in his cubby. The teacher said it looked like he had already soiled them and they were used, but didn’t know from when and thought maybe they put the used clothes in the wrong place so I never found out about a previous accident.

  • I’m lucky my boss is understanding of the fact that after being at work for only 30 minutes I would need to leave for an hour and a half to remedy this situation.
  • By the time I got there they had located a pull-up for him to wear in the meantime and a pair of pants for him to borrow.

Yesterday when I picked him up he was wearing a different shirt than the one he was wearing even after I came with the change of clothes. He had bonked his nose on the playground and had a bloody nose which he wiped on his sleeve…I had received no phone call and had just started his laundry before coming to pick him up. Also, they didn’t fill out a boo-boo report.

  • I’m lucky it wasn’t more serious and I’m not overly concerned about small mishaps.

This morning the person who has the key to the day care didn’t show up for work – or at least she didn’t show up on time. And the other lady who has a key didn’t get there until 40 minutes later than opening time.

  • I’m lucky I have a job with flexible hours and an understanding boss – who also happens to be out of town today.

Once inside the day care, Landon was absolutely appalled that I would not let him just stand outside in the rain, and he was in no way giving in about it, so we stood outside under the awning for a minute before he relented to eating breakfast.

  • I’m glad I have a kid who enjoys the rain as much as I do, and I hope that stubbornness evolves into some kind of productive personality trait that will take him far in life.

While this positive thinking stuff is helping my general outlook and mood. I’d like to not have to use it so often.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Worse than the GLITTER!

I picked up Landon from school yesterday only to find out that his homework load is now a daily load, a smaller daily load, but daily, as in given on Monday due on Tuesday, given on Tuesday due on Wednesday...etc. etc.

I'm pissed. See, I pick up Landon at 6:15 - And yes, I could pick him up earlier, but he gets mad if there are more the 3 or 4 other kids left when I pick him up - he wants to stay as long as possible. Which, I think, is a sign that he likes the place, which is what I want. We get home about 6:30. I can hopefully get dinner on the table by 6:45. He take for-freaking-ever to eat, and at 7:30 I can finally persuade him to either shower or take a bath. That generally lasts until 8:30 or so, and then we settle in and snuggle and bond and try to get him to settle down enough that he'll be able to sleep.

Oh, and let me explain homework with Landon so you can see why I'd prefer to do it in one big chunk instead of spread out over 4 days. First, I get the paper out of the folder and grab whatever writing utensils we are going to use (I generally go for the markers, because YAY! COLORS!) I sit him down at the breakfast table and show him the homework. I tell him the instructions on the first page. He sits there and thinks for a few minutes and then does the letter tracing with his finger instead of the marker. And if there are multiple pages, we must look at all of them before starting anything. And then he chooses the color he wants to use, provided they didn't give certain color instructions. And then he decides that it's prolly not the best color and chooses another. And possibly a third one. Then he talks about how he holds the marker and who told him to hold it like that. And after a good 7-10 minutes of stalling and coloring waffling, he finally makes his first mark on the page. When tracing letters, he expects some form of applause after each letter. If you don't do it, he will. If he has multiple sheets the second through fourth ones go much faster, because he's already in the mood to make actual marks on actual paper and the assignments take roughly 2 minutes each. So a 4 page assignment takes us 10 minutes + 2 minutes per page about 18 minutes. But over the span of 4 nights, we would have to do the 10 minute warm-up each night giving us 48 minutes. I like my extra 30 minutes. I WANT my extra 30 minutes.

Last night I managed to squeeze the homework in prior to dinner, but that's just because I had dinner ready to go and was just waiting for Clinton to get home to put it on the table. On nights when dinner take a little more prep, I won't have that luxury.

As I read the sheet that tells me what the week is about, I also found that they want him to dress in certain colors on certain days, when I can't even get him to agree on a shirt I pick out for him. And also to bring something pink or that starts with the letter L for show and tell DAILY. I'm picking my battles, I can ignore the dressing in certain colors business and the daily show and tell - especially since it appears that not everyone in his class was participating in that before. So I'm starting with the daily homework crap.

This morning I approached the curriculum director and asked why we were giving three year olds daily homework. And her response was looking at me like I had 2 heads and saying "you don't approve?" And I explained that no, I do not approve. For one thing he's three. And for another, I barely have time to feed him and bathe him before he has to go to bed each night, and God forbid we have something else that has to be done that evening.

Her response was that I could speak to his teacher and ask her to put all his homework for the week in the folder on Monday and we could just do it when we could, and not to stress out about it. That they were just trying to prepare him for public school. To which I said "Yes, but he's three."

So I got about half way to work and I thought I needed to conduct a survey. So I called my friend Myra. She teaches first grade now, but has taught kindergarten, first, and second grade in public schools and taught in at least 2 different area school districts (and other grades too, but those are the ones of interest to me.) And I asked her if she gave her kindergartners homework. She said she did, and I asked how she implemented it. She said she sent it home on Monday and wanted it back on Friday. And there were usually like 4 or 5 assignments that would take 5 minutes a piece. She said she did it similarly in kindergarten, first, and second grades. And I got to work, and my neighbor has a little girl in Pre-K in public school and their homework situation is similar.

I waffled back and forth on how to handle it, but I did end up calling the school, asking to have the teacher call me when she got a chance and then typing out this post to get my anger out so I could be nice to the woman who teaches my kid most of the day. And then I just have to wait for his teacher to get a moment to call me.

And you know what sucks? There's nothing worse than getting all uppity and on my high horse and then having the situation resolve itself before I can even hit publish and tell everyone how mad I am! I mean, dude, it's a pretty high horse - it requires ladders and pulleys and stuff. I was finishing that last paragraph when the teacher called me back. I was totally prepared to fight about this with everyone there. She totally understood that our time is crunched, so Landon will now get a week's worth of assignments on Monday. And I think we're all happy all the way around. I just can't believe that we are the only ones with that kind of time crunch in the evenings. Especially since we're pretty lax on the bedtime thing, I mean, he doesn't have a set bedtime, I can't even imagine if I had some 8:30 or 9:00 deadline to put him to bed in addition to all the other stuff we do. So now I'm kind of concerned about the children whose parents haven't called to complain. Because I need something to worry about.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Monthly Newsletter #37

Dear Landon,

I was thinking about at what point I should stop writing these monthly newsletters. On one hand, when you have a baby one day and ask "when did I start talking?", since we didn't manage to fill out your baby book for more than a few months, you'll always have this blog. On the other hand, you're already remembering things. Things like when we went to Pei Wei to pick up food and last time we had a #3 pager and that time we had a #12. Down to the fact that the #3 one had an extra sticker on it. Or on the way home from school when you asked if I remembered "that girl covered in her blood." I did manage to get from you that you were talking about that show with the doctors, so I guess we also have to stop watching Grey's Anatomy in front of you.

This month you started having homework at school. So far, aside from the glitter incident, we've been doing fine with it. We manage to turn it in on time, and we're getting excellent grades - I'm saying "we" because there's no way you could complete the homework on your own. First of all, the instructions are all "Find and Color the capital letter Ns in the picture purple and then find and color the lowercase letter ns orange, and then do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around." They just seem a tad complicated for someone who can't read them. But you do love doing your homework. Even if Mommy and Daddy think it's a bit early.

This was your first year actually trick or treating. Which was awesome. Since Halloween was a Saturday night, a lot of people had parties to go to, so there weren't a lot of houses lit up. But we did go and managed to fill your jack-o-lantern bucket not once, but twice by frustrated door openers who said "there just aren't very many trick or treaters out tonight - here, have 1/3 of my candy." And we met Batman, who told his mother that Buzz (you) were his new best friend. So, all in all, it was a good night. Maybe one day we'll make it down to their house without the costumes.

I don't know when kids develop empathy, but I will tell you that this month you truly showed a caring side. I asked you if we could go through your toys and donate the ones you don't really play with anymore to the kids who don't have very many toys. I had ulterior motives, what with my dining room table brimming with your new toys from your birthday because I have NO place to put them in your room until we clear some stuff out. You take excellent care of your toys, so we get to throw very few broken ones away - and generally the ones we do are the ones that Fiona destroyed when we weren't looking. Anyway, you were awfully concerned that there might be kids out there who don't have toys, and of course you would be willing to give them some of yours. I am blown away by how awesome your response was. Now granted, I haven't actually tried to remove any toys from your closet yet, so we'll see how that goes, but I think once you're reminded about how many toys you have you'll be okay with it.

You also are showing some signs of inner thought. You no longer blankly stare at the TV when you are watching your shows (or as you call them your "movies.") You are giggling at the funny scenes and jokes.

If I had one thing for you to work on it would be this: be less whiney. I know this is my own childhood coming back to haunt me because I was whiney, and I now understand exactly how annoying it was and I promise I have learned my lesson now.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Same Song Second Verse

Or bazillionith verse, whatever. I owe you a monthly newsletter, but there was a virus, and an upset stomach, and well, it's hard to type when you spend a day leaning over a toilet. I can't promise when it will be out, but something will. Someday.