Craig was the Oneiest One Year Old that ever Oned today, and so all I’ve got left in me is a recipe post.  Here’s what the RG fam is having this week:

Saturday night, we had Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  I skipped the quinoa, mostly because I forgot to cook it.  Still delish.  Loved this one.

Slow Cooker Huli Huli Chicken.  This we had tonight. I made mashed sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli to go with.  It calls for skin on, bone in chicken, but I had skinless, boneless thighs already so I used those . . . mistake.  This managed both to be falling apart and also pretty dry.  I should have seared it or something.

Cauliflower Chowder.  This is an old fave – I made it today, we’ll eat it this week.  I skip the bacon, but add Tony Chachere’s Cajun spice.  I also use an immersion blender at the end, leaving just a few chunks.  Tastes like mildly spicy potato soup.

Skillet Basil Cream Chicken – another repeat.  This is the one with the sauce you could pretty much drink in a mug.  Mmmmmmm.  Using up the last of my home grown basil.

Southwest quiche – this was a Full of the Dickens suggestion, and so I made two of these today.  We’ll reheat and eat later this week.  It smelled amazing.  Thanks, FOTD!

Chicken korma – I just use a jarred simmer sauce and serve over rice.

Okey dokey artichokey.  Catch you Monday, after I’ve slept off some of this dealing-with-toddler-exhaustion.

Posted in Domestic Bliss, Tex | 1 Comment

Hover vs. Free Range?

I listened to this absolutely astonishing podcast . . . Invisibilia?  Now I’d better go find it and link to it so you can listen if you want.  Hold on a sec . . . there it is.  That link is an article about the podcast and its subject, and it contains a link to the podcast itself should you be inclined to listen.

**Side note – I went over our cell plan data allotment this month.  I think it’s probably partly listening to so many podcasts while driving.  The Stitcher app is amazing, and I love podcasts, and I guess we’re bumping up our data plan by a couple of giga mega whatever-a bytes.  I’m a recent convert to this decade old information delivery system, but humor me.**

*Spoiler alert* – The linked story and podcast is about blind people who use echolocation to actually see.  Literally, the visual cortex parts of their brain light up just like a sighted person.  Obviously they cannot see color, and cannot see far away beyond where the clicks bounce off of, but they actually see general shapes and forms like non-blind people do, if you tell them that they can.  The whole point of this story is that if we TREAT blind people as if they can see (and also teach them this echolocation clicking skill), then they can use their ears and clicking tongues to create something approximating sight, and move about the world like a sighted person.  Like, ride bikes, walk down busy highways, all of it.

However, *more spoilers*, most blind people never achieve this.  And the reason is LOVE.  The loving concern of their families keeps them from actually living in a way that would give them more freedom and autonomy.  Because you really have to learn this skill as a kid – and parents cannot bring themselves to let a little kid walk next to a highway to learn how it sounds, or ride a bike (clicking all the way) and maybe run into a tree or a pole until they learn how to do it.   We treat them as blind, we project our fear of being unable to see the world around us onto them, and our very protectiveness prevents them from a full life.  And those people don’t have the visual cortex light up in the same experiment, at least not as much.  Point being, they are literally blind BECAUSE they are treated as blind.  If they were treated as sighted, they would be able to see!  Wild, right?

The bulk of the podcast centers around this one guy who used echolocation as a kid, and whose mom really had to stay strong through his childhood, letting him run wild when all of her friends and colleagues told her she was crazy and was seriously endangering him.  And this one time he did actually run into a pole while bike riding, and all her friends were like SEE.  SEE WHAT YOU LET HAPPEN TO HIM.  And even seeing his knocked out teeth and broken nose, she took a deep breath, got her anxiety in check, and sent him back out there on that bike.  Now he’s a fully grown man and lives a life without boundaries.

So I’ve been applying this logic to parenting, a little bit. If she can do it with a blind son, I can certainly do it with fully sighted children.  What could my kids do, without my presumptions of their inability holding them back?  Here’s an example. Not really on purpose, we never put gates up at the bottom of our stairs.  Being lightning quick (as babies are), Craig began going up and down stairs sort of earlier than we would have liked – as a very young baby.  And he’s never fallen (touch wood).  He’s AWESOME at stairs – better than his brothers ever were (they spent their babyhoods in single story homes).  Today at Liam’s baseball game, I saw people rushing to the bleachers as Craig climbed around on them, racing to help this helpless baby on the stairs.  They see him as a baby, their mind computes BABY NO CLIMB STAIRS, and they react quickly.  But since we’ve never done that at home (partly, let’s be honest, because he’s too fast and we’re not paying attention bc third kid), he’s been able to explore stairs and get good at climbing them, and he doesn’t need their help.  Ditto with climbing on the bed.  I have too much anxiety to let him play on our king sized bed with his brothers, who love to wrestle and jump up on the bed.  I’m afraid he’ll fall, or get jumped on by the boys, or roll over the side.  Instead of getting him down so I don’t have to deal with my evolutionary instinct to grab and protect, I’ve been practicing just leaving the room.  He never falls.  He never gets (seriously) hurt.  He has learned how to play up high without falling, because I’m not in there stopping him from getting too close to the edge.

I’m trying to do the same with Jack – and I gotta be honest, it’s tougher with my oldest.  But today I let him run around the baseball fields, way out of my sight, climbing trees and climbing the back side of bleachers and in general running wild, without me ever checking in or telling him to GET DOWN or STOP BANGING THAT or whatever.  **Side Note #2 – since when did boys climbing trees and running with sticks become this terribly dangerous thing, that no parent can be caught allowing their child to do??** I let him go across the busy parking lot to a playground, navigating among dozens of cars moving in and out as games ended and new ones began.  I have started him doing tons of chores, and I also want to get him cutting vegetables with a sharp knife.  Even the thought of that makes me sweaty with anxiety!  But I find the thought that I could possibly be holding him back and making him helpless so interesting, and it makes me really want to try to recognize when I do that and stop.    I’m becoming addicted, actually, to sensing when I am anxious and poised to interfere and then not doing it.  I’ve really started second guessing every single “CAREFUL!” and “STOP!” I ever do.

It’s a little more challenging when other parents aren’t on board, and see this as neglectful or lazy.  A lady next to me heard me tell Jack he could go climb a tree, and then pointedly told her daughter (same age) that she would not be permitted to run wild, but must sit “like a good girl” on the bleachers and watch the game.  She’s nice, she just doesn’t agree with me, and the tough thing I guess is holding firm and not letting her clear disapproval change my decision.  Another kid ran off with Jack, and after his mom couldn’t find him, she marched up angrily and said “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING, YOU SIT RIGHT HERE BY ME” and dragged him (he’s 8!) back to the bleachers to sit primly instead of running around the fields, captain of the playground, man of his own destiny.

I just think there’s so much cool stuff kids can do together without parents’ prying eyes, without our social policing (“No Craig, you share!  Jack, stop being mean to that kid, you be nice!”)  They need to learn social interactions without each of us moms/dads trying to out-polite the other through yelling at our kids.  You who are parents will know how it goes – “Jenny, you share” becomes “No John, that’s Jenny’s, she doesn’t have to share with you” and then “No Jenny, you do have to share with John, you have other toys over here” and all that Chip and Dale politeness back and forth.  Like, just let the babies get into it and rumble, right?  Craig will learn that he’s big enough to physically take any toy he likes from anybody, but also that he doesn’t like playing alone and leaving all of his friends to cry and that maybe being a toddler asshole and taking everybody’s toys away is totally uncool.

It’s also better for me.  At a fast food place the other day, the Professor was out of town and the boys were playing, and Liam needed to go to the bathroom.  So I sent him off to the bathroom – easy peasy.  A lady at the table next to me had kids a similar age, and her 7 year old daughter had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the meal.  So the lady packed up all the food, called the little sister from the playground, gathered up all their stuff and purses and bags, and they all trooped to the bathroom together.  I absolutely did not say “JUST LET HER GO ALONE,” but I definitely thought how much easier life would be if she’d just let her go alone!

Finding the line between doing this, and being a parent-jerk whose kids are bothering other people, is tough I will admit.  Especially when other parents are bothered simply by observing a 7 year old child run with a stick, in their peripheral vision, and don’t see a harried and snappish mother tromping after him hollering.  “Where’s the mother??”  “Manage your kids!” I hear in my mind, and then my hoverparented kid gets to college and needs me to call his advisor to help him plan his classes for him, and “Stop micromanaging your kids!” becomes the refrain.

It’s fun, though.  Stepping back, seeing what they can do.  Ceding some of the housework also makes life easier (Jack empties the dishwasher!  Liam gets the mail!  They get their own breakfasts now!)  Tonight, I think Jack cuts some carrots.  I’ll let ya’ll know how it goes.

Posted in Domestic Bliss | 2 Comments

October Two

I declare that this shall be the month of non-creative titles.

I liked the Sister’s idea of revisiting Octobers past, and having a little retrospective.  Whenever I have a day sans inspiration, I shall do so.  Today, being one such day, has us taking a stroll down memory lane of this very month, ten years hence.

October 2005 saw me living in North Carolina, working in my first HR job, living with my sister and my/her/our cat, Bella in a tiny 900 square foot house that had 3 bedrooms and 2 baths (each of them wee).  I have a few posts about working with the characters who populated that workplace . . . they were minimum wage folks, very poor, trying their best.  Some were on the bottom end of the IQ scale, and had been placed in these low wage jobs for something to get them out of the house.  But most were born poor, and with no way out would continue to live the life of the working poor until the day they died.  The happiest ones did not have the imagination to hope for something better.  Others wanted more, but between working 2 minimum wage jobs that even then didn’t pay the rent . . . there was no time or energy for dreaming bigger.  Kind of a bummer job, really.

I wrote also about receiving a phone call from my little brother, just 18 at that time.  He was just on the cusp of adulthood then, and a spontaneous call just to chat was such a novelty.  Prior to his going off to college, of course, the best I’d get was a sullen “Hello, I’ll go get Mom” when I called home.  I was chuffed when he called me from college to say hi, all on his own, and not even on my birthday.  Now he is 28.  I still get a thrill when he calls, which he does often, mostly to Skype with his nephews.  He was just in Croatia for a while, for work.  We’ve all moved on pretty far after 10 years.

Amanda and I passed out candy on Halloween, and wore costumes to our jobs.  It was fun, living with my sister.  She was always up for anything, a pretty open recipient to fun ideas like dressing up to pass out candy.  I could never wear a costume to work now.  I rarely make myself a costume anymore.  I do love Halloween and wish I had time and energy for costumes, but sadly the kids and job are pretty draining, and anything fun tends to go by the wayside.  This year I’m trying desperately to talk them into doing a fun matching costume for three boys.  Unfortunately, instead they all want to be Skylanders.  LAAAAAAME.  I kind of want to play the “I birthed you and labored for hours” card, and guilt them into dressing how I want.  But then I think – do I really have time to make these matching costumes, which they aren’t even going to like?  Would the pleasure I would get out of doing it outweigh the annoyance when they whined about wearing them?

So, that’s my October 10 years ago.

Posted in Categorizing Things is Overrated | Leave a comment


This month marks ten years of writing on this blog.  I am going to attempt – and probably fail – at one of those write-every-day-for-a-month things.  I cannot guarantee the quality of each day’s offering . . . but I do know that the only way to write anything good is to write, a lot, and then sift.  I don’t imagine I have enough readers to merit much of a response to this query, but . . . if any of you following along have any questions or ideas for topics, do leave them in the comments!

We are watching Twin Peaks, for the first time – I did not catch it back when it originally aired. We have about 10 episodes left.  It was a great beginning, but these last few episodes have devolved into a silly soap opera, and we are kind of slogging through the end here.  I did not know that it also starred David Duchovny in drag, which was a pleasant and unexpected treat.  X-Files is also on my list, after I’ve ended my foray into the creepy town where homecoming queen Laura Palmer met her demise.

I’m also watching Gilmore Girls on the nights to Professor is out of town.  Although sometimes Lorelai Gilmore is a little to precious and cutesy, and some of the quirkiness of the town is too forced, I do enjoy it.  I think Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel have a good chemistry, and although this, too, is devolving somewhat into soap opera, it never sinks to melodrama.

This is my tv experience.  I wait a decade or two to be sure that the thing stands up to the test of time, and then commit.  Maybe in fifteen years I’ll give Grays Anatomy or Mad Men a try.


Posted in Domestic Bliss | 3 Comments

Those Boys, Though

Yesterday, Jack went to a Cub Scout meeting with his dad.  Craig was asleep, and so it was just Liam and me.  Middle child that he is, my Liam flourishes under individual attention –  and he so rarely gets it.  I took the stolen moment.  First we got out paints and paper, and he painted some pictures while I wrote some notes.  Heads bowed together at the kitchen table, both of us studious and focused.  He bored of this rather quickly, though – again, a very Liam-like behavior – and started asking for tv.  “Let’s have a snack on the porch instead” I suggested.  I had him at “snack,” and so he went to the pantry and got himself a small bowl of Goldfish, and I got a small glass of white wine, and we went to sit ourselves down on the rockers on the front porch.

First, we checked the underside of both for wasps’ nests.  Liam has learned his lesson, having been stung on the leg by a bastard wasp who had made a nest underneath the seat of the chair, and never fails to do a survey of the immediate area before relaxing out there.  I sat myself in my own chair and pulled his close, and then he came over without really thinking about it walked right past his designated chair and sat on my lap instead.  I’ve mentioned before that this child is a string bean, all bony elbows and hip joints, and I gathered his lean frame up in my arms and rested my chin on his shoulder while he munched and talked.

When Liam is alone with me and not competing for my attention, some always-active parts of him settle down.  I can see the tumblers line up, like a key in a lock – something changes in the way he holds his body and face.  His demeanor is smoothed – his vocabulary grows.  It’s like the immature kid part of him holds sway when other kids are around and he reverts to some sort of primal sibling rivalry, but when he is with adults only, that primal competitive part fades out and cedes the stage to the more considered and deliberate parts of him.  His considerable  – formidable, I’d go so far as to say – intelligence reveals itself.  With each conversational exchange, he takes a moment to ponder, and the places his mind goes are so unique and so genius.  I’m sounding like a mom here but I don’t care – Liam really is one of the sharpest, quickest, most brilliant minds I know.  His intellect is currently trapped in a 5 year old physique with 5 year old emotional control and 5 year old immature nervous system, but when conditions are right and it comes out – hoo boy.  It’s cool.

I unlocked it briefly on Sunday, holding him there in my lap.  I asked him all the questions I could think of and drank up the answers.  His tiny hands and dirty fingernails gathering up one cheddar goldfish for him, one for me, one for him, one for me, and he would munch thoughtfully between questions and then answer when he was ready, his dark brown eyes working behind those glasses as his mind groped for the right words.  Nothing profound – we weren’t solving impossible math problems or learning physics – just stuff.

I sat enraptured for almost twenty minutes.  Eventually the snack bowl was depleted, and he asked to watch Word World until Jack came home.  He sweetly offered me the last goldfish, and wrapped his long skinny arms around my neck for a hug before bounding in the house to put on the tv.  I followed, in awe, as I always am in the face of these gorgeous creatures I made out of thin air.


Jack returned from Cub Scouts and continued talking about the topic that had occupied his mind the whole livelong day – setting up a lemonade stand outside.  He wanted to raise money to pay for the glasses that his baby brother had broken the day before, darn those chubby little grabby toddler hands.  While at Cub Scouts my genius husband talked him out of lemonade and into orange juice, since we had a bonus bottle of OJ in the fridge (buy one get one free, dontcha know).  Jack quickly drew up a sign offering “oreng juice for 50 cents,” which he wrote in pencil on a brown piece of construction paper.  While we weren’t 100% paying attention, he hoisted the back-porch side table up on our front lawn, taped his sign to it, and grabbed a bunch of sippy cups.

Every little endeavor like this is a fun opportunity to learn, and so I agreed to help out our budding entrepreneur.  I collected the glasses-smashing baby brother in a stroller, grabbed some change and traded the sippy cups for disposable plastic ones, and then walked with him out to a busy corner near some guys working on a roof.  Jack was wearing his Cub Scout uniform, which turned out to be somewhat false advertising as most people thought he was raising money for Scouts.  We explained to each customer what he was actually doing, but the uniform definitely hooked a few more passersby than a plainclothes Jack would have done.

Everyone was charmed.  Jack is so charming.  He is guileless, open and friendly.  He would give a chipper wave to each driver going by, and then point straight at the bottle of OJ on the table and wiggle his eyebrows suggestively.  Anyone who stopped was treated to a loooooong story about Baby Brother and the glasses fiasco, and most of them donated a dollar to the cause without even taking any juice.  The donations puzzled Jack deeply – like, why are they just giving it to us, mom? – but he accepted them with cheer.  We raised about ten bucks, which we will put towards the glasses since Liam needed a new prescription recently and he broke a pair not long before that and therefore our 2015 Glasses for Little Boys Fund is pretty much down to zero at this point.

After about forty minutes, it was dinner time, and we packed up our small, unassuming oreng juice stand with is hard-to-read sign and its toddler mascot and carried it all home in the stroller, where the Professor had grilled steaks for dinner.  Jack changed out of his uniform, hung up the shirt and yellow Scout kerchief, counted out his money earned.  Then we gathered, we five, around the kitchen table to eat (and complain) about our meal and talk about our adventures and chase that pesky baby who does not like to sit still.


Before all this happened on Sunday, it was Saturday, and I went to a funeral.  A friend’s father had died suddenly, a heart attack while at work.  He was only 60 and it was a surprise, so a handful of us made the 4 hour drive over to his hometown to attend the funeral, and then made the 4 hour drive back home.  The dad was a postal worker, and I got a little teary at the sight of a dozen mail trucks lined up outside the church.  They’d received special dispensation from the postmaster to come off their Saturday mail routes and attend, and every one of them was there to pay his or her respects.

On Saturday morning I got up early, as I had to be dressed and gone by 7am to meet my carpool.  (The Professor wrangled the kids at home alone.)  The baby started fussing at 5:30 am, as he does, and I heard his cries and paused my morning routine to tend to him.  I collected a bottle of whole milk, then trudged up the stairs to hoist him out of the crib and lay with him on the double bed in his room.  He drank the bottle, clutching my thumb (he has to be holding something with one hand while the other holds the bottle – he’s sort of annoyingly insistent on this, and will rip things out of your hands if he doesn’t have access to some part of you to clutch).  I nuzzled his neck and breathed him in.

If all goes as it should, he will bury me one day.  It’s a thought I try to hold at just the right distance – close enough that I give him all I’ve got, at every minute, so that if it’s a heart attack that takes me suddenly without warning, he will have no doubts or regrets about what we are to each other.  But I also keep it far enough out of emotional reach that I don’t start to panic about Eternity, and the Passage of Time, and How Quickly Time Is Flying, etc.  I would be pretty useless if I actually lived life as if any one of us could die any minute – what a paralyzing thought.

So he does this 5:30 am wake up most days, and some days I give him that bottle and leave him there in the crib on his own – he’ll take it, drink it, throw it out of the crib and roll over and go back to sleep for another hour.  He’s self sufficient that way.  But on this day, the day of my friend’s father’s funeral, I humbly accepted the opportunity for perspective, to pay Death my respects and hold mortality a little closer.  Although just the thought of lifting Craig out of that crib hurts my back, I hefted him out, held him close while he drank, and gently lowered him back in to sleep a bit more once the bottle was sucked dry and he’d rolled over and curled back up, a little pill bug in his pink hand-me-down sleep sack.  I smoothed his hair, blew him a kiss, and then walked down the stairs, in my black dress and heels, the empty bottle still warm in my hands.

Posted in Categorizing Things is Overrated, Jack, Liam, Tex | 1 Comment