Wednesday, June 29, 2011

International Food Month: The Round Up

I know it must look as though we gave up on the whole concept after only a few attempts, but I am glad to say that this is not the case! While I am a lame and slow blogger, we are much better at being adventurous cooks. We completed all but about five or six countries on our list, and we had a great time learning new recipes in the process. Since writing up each meal didn't seem to work out (cough, lazy, cough) here is a quick list of the countries whose recipes we tried:

1. India --- DNF :(

2. South Africa --- vegetarian bobotie (M. is a wizard) I give it 9 on the Mmm scale

3. Morocco --- Chickpea stew and tomato salad was a 6/10

4. France --- Cheese souffle (M. is a mad genius) was a 10 out of 10 on taste, but very rich

5. Mexico --- DNF :(

6. Greece --- Spinach pie with phyllo was an easy and tasty new recipe worth 8/10

7. Turkey --- Falafel was actually a recipe I've done before and got 8/10

8. Spain --- Paella did not turn out! I screwed up, but I know not where 3/10

9. Italy --- Polenta with mushrooms turned out very well 8/10

10. Canada --- M. had to make poutin and it was good 9/10

11. Germany --- Veggie brats, sauerkraut, potatoes, and slaw. What's not to like? 9/10

12. Japan --- Gyoza, miso, and cucumber salad were mostly pre-made foods so I won't rate

13. Indonesia --- Coconut tempeh curry was so tasty I will make it again 9/10

14. Kenya --- Peanut soup was rich and creamy without too much actual fat 9/10

15. Cuba --- Black bean soup was okay, but not very exciting 5/10

16. Ireland --- Vegetarian shepherds pie was delicious, but a bit intensive 8/10

17. Sweden --- Beets, mushroom soup, potatoes and greens were tasty indeed 9/10

18. Jamaica --- Ital peas and cabbage stew were underwhelming with the recipe I found 5/10

19. Russia --- DNF

20. Costa Rica --- DNF

21. Vietnam --- Noodles with tofu, herbs, and pickled veggies

22. Mozambique --- Vegetable stew over rice 6/10

23. Egypt --- DNF

24. Libya --- Lentil salad and veggie soup were good if simple 7/10

25. Azerbaijan --- DNF

I have not given up entirely on the list, and I may try to find a few more recipes when the summer rush is over. One thing I did enjoy was the process of finding new recipes in books and on the internet. By the way, we have no illusions about the authenticity of the meals. I'm sure there are dozens of inauthentic elements to our recipes and we don't even realize it. However, the purpose of the exercise was to me us go out of our comfort zone, and it has certainly succeeded in that. I also enjoyed learning a few things about the countries I was cooking. For one thing, I'm trying to appreciate our luxurious access to food.

When I was researching recipes from Mozambique I happened to read that one third to one half of all the citizens of that country are considered malnourished on a regular basis. Thus if we really wanted to get a "feel" for that culture we should have nothing at all for dinner. Perhaps a donation to the World Food Program is in order? Anyway, it was a very rewarding experience, and I will certainly be making many of these dishes again in the future. Anyone know a good recipe for vegetarian paella?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Baby Visits the Seattle Aquarium

A few months ago, I finally got up the courage to take the baby to the Seattle Aquarium. Why courage you might ask? Because driving through downtown and along the waterfront in Seattle can be quite a challenge. Then there's the parking puzzle. Without other grown-ups to help me, I had visions an hour in bad traffic, struggling into a tiny parking space, hardly being able to get the baby out, and then having to stroller her through more heavy traffic for miles before getting to the venue. It turns out I'm just a huge worry wart.

Even though it was the latter end of morning rush hour, we made it into the city without any trouble. We were on the waterfront in no time, and we actually got parking directly across from the aquarium! I think it helps that we arrived just before it opened. Maybe we just got lucky. It still cost a pretty penny, but that was okay. Once we finally made it inside, and we could see the diver in the huge tank in the entry way, I knew it had been worth the trip.

Delphinium was silent and riveted on all the fish, on the swimming man, and then on the huge eel that swam past. She didn't seem worried, just really, really interested in it all. Then the diver actually waved at her! I think she would have been fine just to stand there the whole day, but there was so much still to see. We were there with our baby group, so we snapped a quick picture of all the moms and babies (and the diver too!) and then headed out to see the rest of the animals.

First came the touching pools that were supposed to represent the tide pools around Seattle. The variety is amazing. The colors on the sea stars and nudibranch is impressive, and you'll find huge purple monsters "holding hands" with smaller, finer fingered, orange ones. Delphinium didn't actually get to touch yet (I know I'm an over-protective mommy!) because there must be lots of people germs in there even if they've somehow sanitized the fish.

Next up we did the dark aquariums that are meant to show off the animals who live deep underwater. This was one of the baby's favorite parts since the aquariums are right at eye level, and many of the fish are brightly-colored. As expected the clown fish got a big reception even though she hasn't seen Finding Nemo yet. Her favorite was something called the Devilfish with spiny fins and red and black coloring. Certainly they were very impressive, if not beautiful, and she chattered at them for several minutes.

By the time we hit (not literally of course) the otters and birds and other outdoor animals, the baby's eyes were beginning to get heavy. We admired a few more displays, and then it was time to head for home. With a nap smack in the middle of the day, you can't do any one activity for more than a little while. We will need to head back to the aquarium to finish enjoying all the animals. That's no problem since it's a place I know were going to visit many times in the coming years. Next time we'll have to take Daddy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mr. Darby's Music with Friends

It's been ages and ages since Delphinium's birthday, but I've been meaning to write about the music at her party.  We were lucky enough to have music with Mr. Darby, and it was tops!  Our living room was FULL of happy kids who sang along and enjoyed the jokes and animals as well as the music.  It was amazing to watch little ones like our wobbler bopping to the beat at the same time as five, six, even eight and nine year olds.  We even had to go and find some Mr. Darby shows (he plays in all sorts of places) so we could get our fix.  Luckily, we have both of his CD's as well.  We would certainly ask Mr. Darby to play for us again in the future!

Friday, June 17, 2011

No Working For Me

I just got the official call from the head office. There is no position available for me in the next school year. This should not be surprising given that I asked for a very specific type of part-time (two periods in the morning would mean NO childcare), but I still had hopes that the job might magically appear. The boss was really excited to be able to offer me a full-time spot at my old school, and then he was quite disappointed that I wasn't willing to take it. However, I just can't see my child in daycare, at least not yet. For her sake, I'm thrilled to stay home another year. For my sake I'm a little sad. I loved my job, and the thought of doing just under half the usual work sounded dreamy. Oh well, there are (hopefully!) many many more years in which I can teach. The baby is only small for such a short time, and next year will be good for both of us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yes and NO

The latest round of extreme cuteness in our house is the addition of gestures to the baby's repertoire.  Now she can shake her head "no" and also shrug her shoulders in a "?" action.  The question is something she clearly understands and uses successfully.  For example, when she sees me sorting laundry she points and shrugs to ask "what's that?" Or if you ask her where her bunny is she might shrug to show she doesn't know.  Then it's fun to play a hunting game to find him.

The head shake is much harder to understand.  She knows it relates to "yes" and "no" but she still can't quite grasp which is which.  Often I ask her if she wants something really good (milk, fruit, to read a book, to go outside) and she will shake her head.  Then, when I don't do the thing she's just rejected, she gets quite annoyed.  I'm trying to get her to nod her head, but so far we only have the shake.  Maybe she can learn the Indian head waggle and call it good. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Much Better Thanks

Delphinium has made it back to the land of the well and cheerful, so I am definitely breathing a sigh of relief.  We were able to do a normal weekend's worth of activities with Daddy that included the farmers' market, swimming, breakfast out, and a hike.  The weather was not perfect, but we did not care.  It feels so good to be out and busy!  The baby did not protest once when we loaded her into the backpack or stroller because she likes to go, go, go at least as much as we do.  Sometimes she even pats the window next to the door, or brings me her shoes to let me know that maybe we should get moving.  Yay for a healthy kid!

Friday, June 10, 2011

On Not Going Mad

The poor little muggins is certainly better than she was a few days ago (no more lavender smudges under her eyes) but she's still not completely well. She tries to be cheerful and play, but she still gets tired quickly, and the runny nose and cough are hanging on. One significant mercy is that we did all get to sleep though the night last night. Now we are to that stage of illness where you're just waiting for things to wrap up enough to get back into normal routines.

I do believe sick weeks are one of the hardest parts of being a mom. This is where you feel the most cut off from the world, and you run out of fresh things to think about. Most of the activities you would usually do to combat boredom are out of the question due to the germs and the sad state of your child. No friends to visit (or be visited) no shopping or classes or playgroups. Then there's the guilt for feeling bored when your little one is feeling so poorly. Grum, grum, grum. Enough!

Anyway, here is my plan to combat the cobwebs:

1. Turn on National Public Radio (for a little mental stimulation)
2. Scrub house (as much as baby will allow)
3. Take baby for a walk (the doc did say cool moist air is good)
4. Cook something interesting (again if baby will allow)
5. Give self and baby permission to break the TV ban on sick days (just a little!)
6. Read and write as much as possible while baby sleeps
7. Reward self for surviving another day by getting drive-up coffee

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Soooo Sleeeeeeepy

The night of the ER visit we came home and Charlotte went down very easily since she was so exhausted by all the commotion. Unfortunately last night was not so simple. She went down just fine, but she didn't sleep very well due to the croup symptoms. She was restless so she wiggled out of her blankets, but then when we went in to cover her she would wake up. I actually got her to lay down with us for a while (which she normally won't do), but it did not last. Over all it was a very disturbed night, and we are all creaky and tired this morning. We'll just zombie our way to naptime, and I may have to join her.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

First ER Visit

It seems that we just can't catch a break when it comes to illness. Only one week after conquering the nasty tummy bug, it seems that a virus has come to call. Last night we had to take our poor little girl to the ER because she was not breathing well. When she coughed it sounded just like the barking of a seal. Not a nice sound to get through the baby monitor! M was working late, but I called him to come home, and we took her in just after mid-night.

The doctor and nurses were very nice to us, and we did get to go straight in with no waiting, but Baby was not happy. First, where are we? Second, what are these strange people doing with all their poking and prodding? Third, why did somebody just stick my toe, and what is that thing now attached? Last, but most important, what are we doing up in the middle of the night? The only bright spot, as far as she was concerned, was the new teddy the nurse gave her.

After getting the croup diagnosis, and the reassurance that it was not the end of the world, we were released. Now it was time to hit the all-night drive-through pharmacy. I feel for the poor lady who has to do that job, but we were glad to see her. The only hitch was that there were five orders in ahead of ours, so we had to go drive around (if you drive, the baby sleeps) for half an hour. M took us on a scenic tour of the area, and then we were back again to get our meds.

You might think that by the time we got home at 2:30am the adventure would be over but no. We still had to convince the baby to eat something so she could take her prescription before going back to sleep. Luckily she loves toast, so there we were sitting around the table, bleary-eyed and exhausted, eating toast with almond butter. We did get lucky in that the baby enjoyed the taste of the liquid meds, so it was easy to get her to take the dose. Finally we all headed upstairs to get some rest.

Everybody slept well, but it did make for a very short night. I think the adults got about four hours of sleep, and the baby made do with maybe nine (she usually prefers eleven). I am happy to say that she does seem better today, and she is actually managing to catch up a little on her sleep. Let's just hope the seal decides to vacate our house sometime in the very near future.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


Over the long weekend, we were able to spend quite a bit of time in the back yard with Delphinium.  She loves to toddle around out there admiring the flowers and picking up pebbles.  We always point out the birds (mostly crows), squirrels, bunnies (if we're lucky), and other fascinating creatures who inhabit the yard, and she waves and babbles madly when she does see one.  I was very excited to point out a beautiful stripey snail who was making his stately way through the grass.  Without so much as a smile or a nod at the snail, Delphinium swooped in and grabbed him out of my hand.  Then she came within an inch of popping him right into her mouth before I recovered enough to snatch him back.  I chalk this up to latent tendencies inherited from her French grandmother. 

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Hmmm I got a most cryptic email from my principal the other day.  I'd emailed him a few weeks ago to ask if he knew anything about my working (part-time) back at my old school next year, and he responded that nobody knew anything yet because there was no state budget as yet.  However, he said, he did not think there would be a place for me.  Fine, I thought, I wasn't sure I wanted to go back anyway, so that makes the decision really easy if there isn't a job.  In fact, I'd gone through a bit of letting go, and began planning stay-at-home-mom things for next year.  Then, just a couple of days ago, I got another email from him saying that the state budget was done, and he would know his own numbers by this coming week.  He promised to let me know by then.  Now this could mean that he's just being polite and keeping me in the loop.  However, he's not usually that thoughtful.  Hmmm and hmmm again.