Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Grainy Back-of-the-Auditorium Video

As promised in this post, here is the video of Bridget's talent show performance.

The news is all good. It was a great experience, she had SO MUCH FUN, you can tell just by watching her. She has officially gotten over her stage fright. When I tucked her into bed that night she said, "And you know what I learned? The bigger the audience, the better!" Oh lordy, I see a new journey in our future.

Enjoy the video!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Chip off the Old Block

I started feeling a little overwhelmed yesterday. This time of year is just NUTS, I tell ya. All the end-of-year activities, trying to finish up stuff, add in the fact that we're having 4 parties in 4 weeks (just NUTS, I tell ya!) and, well, I did the UNTHINKABLE and sat down and actually wrote a To Do list.

Mostly, I carry this list (along with many others, like the grocery list) around in my head, and mostly, I do alright. But yesterday I was convinced I would be unable to get through the next 48 hours without stranding a child somewhere or forgetting a birthday gift or not scheduling time for a shower. Yes, it's that bad.

So, last night I got home with Bridget check! (after Talent Show rehearsal check! and PTA picnic check!, why-oh-why did I let her con me into going to THAT bore?) and I was cleaning out her lunchbox check!

Down beneath the uneaten carrot sticks and unused handy-wipe, I found this note. Guess she's feeling the pressure too.

And once again, I am pleased and amazed that she is developing yet another necessary life skill to help her cope with things.

I was also pleased to note that she too, had to schedule her shower into her timetable. Guess I'm not so nuts. Either that, or maybe we both are.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I paid my first visit to the "farmer's market" today. I say that in quotes, because where I live (semi-rural Texas), the "farmer's market" isn't quite the sprawling cornucopia of variety that I experienced in California.

Nevertheless, it's local farmers, bringing their goods to a pre-arranged spot for sale. Being the fan of locavorism that I am, this is a Good Thing (as Martha would say).

Today, there were three good ol' boys, from out yonder near Ponder selling out of the backs of their beat up trucks. It doesn't get any better than that. I spread my purchases out, even though all three had the same assortment of tomatoes, onions, new potatoes, and squash. Oh, and there were 3 ears of corn.

Once home, I quartered the onions and spread them on a baking tray. I halved the tomatoes and de-seeded them. I peeled some garlic and tucked it in to the tomatoes so it wouldn't burn. I threw in some Rosemary Gone Wild from the garden and drenched it all in olive oil and sprinkled on some salt and pepper.

An hour in the oven at about 375 left the house smelling like spaghetti sauce and the vegetables looking like this:
Dontcha just love them? All squishy and carmelized. Juicy and sweet. I could eat 'em up just like that.

Into the blender, add a generous splash of red wine, a bit more salt (to taste) and puree.

OK, so I'm not a food stylist. This shot of the sauce being poured into a storage container is probably not as attractive as it spooned atop a grilled chicken breast, or ladled over a plate of pasta. But you get the idea. Sublime velvety texture, mouthwatering goodness. I can't think of a better use of 10 pounds of vegetables!
I hope you try eating more local, in-season goods from small growers. It's good for our planet, good for our farmers, good for our economy, and good for your body. If you make this recipe, I'll be anxious to hear how it came out or how you modified it!

Friday, May 15, 2009


Anyone who knows Bridget knows that she can be painfully shy. A bit of a scardey cat too.

This January, she made up a list of new year's resolutions. One of them was to get over stage fright.

The school talent show is coming up, and Bridget decided to conquer her fear and audition.


Now, we all hate for our kids to set themselves up for failure, and Bridget won't even sing for her own family - much less an auditorium full of people. I don't even know if she CAN sing.

She recruited a partner. There was much discussion on what song to do, much searching for an instrumental version of the song. Many phone calls. A few days before the audition, Bridget's partner, for a lot of Very Good Reasons, had to deliver the news to Bridget that she would be unable to do participate in the talent show.

Now, for MOST people, me included, this would probably be the point where you let your fear get the best of you and you say "It must not be in the cards, I guess I won't be auditioning" and breathe a silent "whew" knowing that you just found a graceful way to chicken out.

Not Bridget. She cried and twisted her hands and dramatized for about 20 minutes. She made a couple of phone calls for advice (because MOM's advice isn't very good, apparently). She locked herself in her room for a couple of hours. She emerged with the announcement that she had selected a song better suited to a solo act, found a karaoke version, rehearsed, selected an outfit and was ready to go. I mean, that girl just got down to business.

The audition was a couple of days ago. I bumped into a couple of the judges and they both told me how well she sings (really? I've never heard her). One of them said she looked terrified.

We'll find out today whether or not she is in the show.

But you know what? It doesn't matter. What matters to me is that she is developing a very necessary life skill of facing fear head on. She knows what her fear is, she identified it, she came up with a way to conquer it, and even when life threw her a curve ball, she stepped neatly aside and kept striding towards that fear, looking it right in the eye.

But you can bet if she DID make it, that soon there will be a grainy, back-of-the-auditorium, poorly lit video right here on this blog, of my Brave Bunny - singing and looking terrified.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Free Range Kids

Being Mother's Day, there are lots of articles, stories, features, etc. about motherhood, parenting techniques, etc. and I spent a bit of time this morning browsing them.

One thing I learned early on in this parenting gig, is there is an opinion or article or expert to back up nearly everything. Are you pro-family bed? There are lots of resources. Against it? There are lots of resources! Same goes for breastfeeding, Baby Einstein videos, potty training, shoe brands, you name it.

But we Mommies are an insecure bunch. We have to learn on the fly, make it up as we go along, endure lots of failures, and so we search for validation. From each other, from experts, from the product we create, our children.

I read an article that led me to this website that provided me with some of that necessary validation for some the parenting choices that I have made. I've always said that I am raising my kids to leave me. In order for them to be successful in the world, they need confidence, independence, curiosity, respect, and they need to learn to make a few mistakes. Kids don't automatically learn this stuff when they're 18 and getting nudged out of the nest. They need to learn it slowly, and they need to LEARN it. Not be TOLD it. So, Ray and I have tried not to be "helicopter parents;" we've tried to let our kids have some freedom, independence, etc.

I'm not trying to compare myself to a helicopter parent or even say I'm better. I probably will feel quite the opposite next time I'm in the emergency room with one of my kids (a rare occurrance, knock on wood). And who knows what awful experiences have happened to other people and their families, but that all factors in to the choices we make as parents. I had a "free range" childhood and I think I can draw some direct lines from the freedom granted to me to the parent I am now.

My kids hike in the woods on their own, some of their friends aren't allowed to. Some of their friends haven't ever really explored the woods! I let them wander around Target while I am buying groceries. Aidan goes to the movies without us. They can make their own scrambled eggs, fill the motorcycle gas tank (yes, they both can ride it), walk to their friends' houses without me as escort. They even climb trees that are tall enough that they'd break bones if they fell. While their playmate's parent was hollering at them to "get out of that tree before you get hurt!" I find that sad.

I love seeing the sense of adventure and the pride my kids have when they are granted each bit of independence. I hope these baby-steps of freedom and independence will grow into big strides that will insure their success as they reach adulthood. I'll miss them. But that means I will have done my job.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Random Updates

Monday monday, and no school.

No school all this week, we're calling it Swine Break '09. Rumors abound about how many cases in Denton County, whether or not there are any confirmed cases in Flower Mound, and whether or not the school closure will be extended another week.

Pretty much every kind of organized activity or community gathering has been cancelled upon the advice of the health department.

Our swim team is cramming the 600 kids that normally practice in 5 pools into the 2 pools that still remain open (as of this second).

So, in light of all that, the kids and I are going to go play Texas Tourists for a few days and give Ray some peace and quiet so he can work without wild kids tearing through the house. Of course, we'd rather he joined us, but somebody's gotta earn a livin' around here as he says.

I didn't want to head to someplace like Austin or San Antonio and suddenly have the health department close down Sea World or somesuch, so we're "goin' country" as the song says. Yeah, yeah, yeah... most of you would say that I'm already there.

Our target: Glen Rose, TX. Our agenda: Dinosaur Park which has a lot of dinosaur artifacts (footprints, fossils, etc.) in a pretty concentrated space. Also, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center which is a drive-through safari type place with animals from the African Savannah. Optional activities will include fishing, trail riding, reading, bird-watching, etc. We're staying in a little cabin in the woods with it's own kitchen and hot tob, and it sounds just perfect to me.

There is no in-room WiFi, so you won't be hearing from me much for the next few days 'cept from Twitter (upper right side of this blog).

Other updates.... Ray and Aidan killed a two-foot copperhead out back today. Ray's been trying to get that darn thing out of it's hole for several days now, I'm glad it's finally good and dead. I found a smaller one the other day while moving a rock pile. I very nearly didn't see it, and ONLY saw it because I was being incredibly careful, as moving a rock pile on a hot day is a SURE way to see a copperhead.

Had a fun weekend... joined some neighbors for their annual "Derby Party" and enjoyed mint juleps and plenty of good company. Lost a few bucks on the races betting on the WRONG long shots. Headed to the "after party" at some other neighbors and eventually left that when we'd lost a few more bucks at Texas Hold'em. As we were among the first to leave, and this particular crowd has a reputation for mischief, Aidan and Scamp appointed themselves to guard duty and Aidan stayed up until 3am by the upstairs balcony with his AirSoft gun awaiting the middle-aged toilet papering party which never materialized due to the rain.

Speaking of rain.... it looks like we quite possibly could have white-water rafted down the gulley in our back yard, had we been awake at 5am when the storms were at their worst. All that rain thoughtfully washed away all the dried leaves we'd dumped in the gully after raking this fall. Fewer hiding places for the darn copperheads.

And ALSO speaking of rain... my poor garden. Ray keeps telling me not to panic, that I'll be grateful of it's location in the heat of summer. But right now I say, "Heat? What heat?" as any heat is but a memory lately. It almost feels like Seattle around here - very little sunshine and intermittent rain. The mushrooms (which I did NOT plant) are doing quite well. The tomatoes, lettuces, carrots, etc. (which I DID plant) are water logged, sun-deprived, and rain-flattened.

All for now. Stay healthy and don't kiss any pigs!