Category Archives: Uncategorized

Don't Tell Me About Problems, Tell Me What You're Going To DO

I’ve been really touched by all the responses to my call for recipes. Thanks, and keep ’em coming!

As repayment, here’s a link to a really interesting interview with Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Grameen bank, which pioneered the micro-credit lending idea that has helped thousands of families out of poverty. [This link will open the mp3, so right-click if you’d rather save it…]

I got really excited listening to this. This man really seems to understand humans and he has a proposal for creating a world without poverty (also the title of his new book). He is infectiously enthusiastic and says things like, the current system of capitalism ignores a whole aspects of human life, only concentrating on making money, so some people are deprived financially and everyone is deprived in terms of fulfillment.

“What is there for young people?” he asked in this interview. “To get a good job, make lots of money, have some fun…this is not EXCITING for young people…”

In our system that sounds like an odd comment, but I know from experience that it is both wise and true.

He’s not anti-capitalism but thinks it needs some augmentation. And he’s not just complaining. He’s got ideas.

It is refreshing and encouraging. I put this guy in the same category as Jim Wallis, who is trying to take on poverty from a religious motivation, but is positive and enthusiastic and tries to find a middle ground, rather than shouting at people or blaming anyone.

These guys give me hope where news pundits and others so-called experts do the opposite.

Cooking With Dad

My neighbour lost his wife last week, suddenly, shockingly. Amidst his grief he is now going to have to learn to be a single parent to his four-year old daughter, hairdresser, housekeeper, chief cook and bottle washer, and did I mention single parent?

The mind boggles. And the awful thing is, this is not the first time this has happened to one of our friends.

My heart goes out to anyone who is left alone like this, but it seems extra heart-wrenching when it’s a father left with young daughter.

Of course, all the neighbors are rallying around and have cooked him so much food that he’s had to call a halt for a few days until they eat their way to the exits (really, if it wasn’t frozen I’m sure all that food would constitute a fire hazard).

Obviously we can’t feed them forever. They’ll have to find their own way, so the neighbourhood moms are talking about putting together a cookbook of all the recipes that we’ve found easy and kid-friendly over the years that we’ve had to feel our way into this housekeeper-cook gig. I’m planning to add tips to my recipes, the best advice I’ve picked up from cookbooks and cooking shows; things that might seem obvious after you’ve done them a million times (like: when is a pancake done? How do you roast a chicken? How long do you cook a steak?)

One of the things he has shared, is how much his daughter loved to cook with her mother. He’s hoping to carry that on, so I guess they’ll kind of be learning together (credit where credit is due, he’s not completely clueless, but wasn’t the one who did the majority of the shopping and cooking).

So here’s my call:

What is your best, kid-friendly recipe? Your go-to supper? Care to share? You can do so in the comments or link to a recipe in your own blog. Invite your friends. We can make this an Internet Neighbourhood Recipe Swap! And if you don’t mind, I’ll pass them on to my neighbour too, and we’ll prove to the world what a community of caring people can do.

Not About Food

This post is not about this month’s NaBloPoMo theme, food, unless you count the bit about McDonald’s. It’s also enjoying a guest-blogger spot, having jumped over here from my family blog, so anyone who has read the boys’ journal needn’t read on

It was 2.45 and after a full day of fighting with his brother, swimming, fighting some more, going to McDonald’s * for the Transformer toy, eating a second lunch (because “the food at McDonald’s isn’t healthy” – A), fighting over the McToys, and doing two crafts, A was starting to cast around for something to do. (!)

I was clearing up the craft stuff — hoping I had enough time before he started a fight to get everything put away. I picked up a box of alphabet stampers, to put something else away behind them and, of course, the box wasn’t closed properly. I smothered a curse as the box disgorged its contents all over the floor. I was, of necessity, moving fast, so I gathered up the stampers and shoved them, higglety pigglety, into the lid of the box, setting the whole lot aside as a ‘sorting project’ with which I would try to excite one of the boys later.

Meanwhile A’s gaze had lit on G, happily playing with cars, and I swiftly said,

“Hey, how about some computer time?”

He agreed and we trochled off upstairs to set up a website for him.

Suddenly, A decided he needed to talk to his dad on the phone and then that he needed to talk to Granmo. So we called them, chatted, and I kept an ear open for the happy playing noises from downstairs that reassured me G was still alive.

As our calls finished up I passed G on the stairs, diverted him into a different room from Angus, and carried on down to put the phone away and finish tidying up.

As I put the phone in its cradle, I stopped in my tracks.

There, on the craft table, sat my box of stampers. Every little stamp was in its little slot, and the lid was neatly closed.

It was as if I had been visited by elves. Or the ghost of Gran D!

God bless the OCD streak that runs in K’s family…

[notes: * I started to type McDonald’s and my fingers keep wanting to type “McDon’t”. How’s that for an active subconsious?

It's A Wonderful Internet

OK, this is a bit out of season, since it’s some company’s online Christmas greeting, but it was good, nonethless.

It’s called It’s A Wonderful Internet and is a spoof of It’s A Wonderful Life, of course.  The thing is, though…I am George. Without the girlfriend.

http://www.itsawonderfulinternet.com/

Millennial Mom Monday — Great Books To Read With/To Kids

Introducing my newest idea: Mondays are for the Millennial Mothers (and dads too. And aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends. It’s just more alliterative this way…) We are raising kids at the start of a new millennium. What are we doing? What are the challenges, old and new? Are we different from, or turning into, our own mothers?

Post a reply or a link to your millennial musings in the comments (Your musings don’t have to take the same form as mine. Go wild…)

This week’s topic: GREAT BOOKS TO READ WITH/TO KIDS

I’ve been reading aloud to my own children for five years now, and longer to other people’s kids. It strikes me that some books that ought to be good are actually pretty awful when you sit down to read them out loud. And others, little unassuming books, turn out to be great fun to read.

Sometimes it is to do with the pictures, sometimes the language just drips off your tongue deliciously, sometimes they make your kids laugh themselves silly, or they make you cry, or they send a little one to sleep. Here are some books that I love for one or all of those reasons.

GOOD NIGHT, MR. NIGHT by Dan Yaccarino
Good Night Mr Night Given to me as a baby shower gift, along with a plush Mr Night, who glows in the dark and has been A’s faithful bedtime boy ever since. The artwork is gorgeous, the story lyrical and gentle.

MOUSE MESS by Linnea Riley
Mouse Mess A rhyming story (love them!) about a mouse who messes up the kitchen after the house’s people have gone to bed. Stylized art, humour and a bedtime at the end. Fun for children to point out all the household objects and foods.

SNOOZERS by Sandra Boynton
Snoozers Seven short stories (OK, six and a song) in one book. Classic Boynton: humour, surprises, counting, silliness, fun. (I put my children’s names into “I’m Too Tired”: instead of “little bear” I say “A-bear” and “G-bear”)

MR POTTER’S PIGEON by Patrick Kinmonth and Reg Cartwright
MrPotter All Mr. Potter wants is for his homing pigeon to win a race. Gentle story, quite a lot of words on each page, beautiful art. Good for kids who can listen to a longer story.

THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkein
The Hobbit
Once they’re ready for Roald Dahl (“Danny the Champion of the World” is my fave, but “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” is a good intro) they’re probably ready for “The Hobbit”. The language is dense but so well crafted that it is a joy to read aloud. Seems to keep my 5 year old interested.

Honourable Mentions:
Some classics do hold the children’s attention: Pat The Bunny (but not the money-grubbing sequels), Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Corduroy…

And don’t neglect non-fiction. Dorling Kindersley do a great line of factual books full of bright pictures. You can read the words or skip them and just talk about the books. I have boys, sons of a scientist, so I’m not sure if this is universal, but they do love these kinds of books.

And now for the dishonourable mentions.

There are some books that I just hate to have thrust at me. The Thomas The Tank Engine books and Beatrix Potter books are badly written and dull. The TV tie-in Thomas books are full of meanness with one page of revenge at the end — not what I want to teach my boys. Even the more modern ones are just weird, with some pages rhyming and others not.

TV tie-ins in general are pretty ropey and I’ve learned to avoid them, with the exception of The Backyardigans ones, which are OK.

Funnily enough, these were the books my mother never read to me, because she hated them too. I thought she was being awkward, but I’ve come to realise that she was justified.

OK, your turn: what are your gems and your ‘only good for straightening a wonky table leg’ picks?

Don't Talk To Me!

I’ve just watched tonight’s Doctor Who.

For the love of cheese, if you’ve ever heard the words “Doctor Who” and know what they mean, don’t talk to me this week. At least not on the subject of anything Who-related. The suspense may kill me but I’m willing to take that risk.

I knew nothing about tonight’s episode (include who would be in it) and it was such a blast.  I’m sure 99.998% of the people who watched it had heard spoilers of one sort or another but I hadn’t and it almost blew my mind. Aren’t you envious?

Hee hee (hysteria will reign until next Saturday).

End transmission.

Blasts from The Past

A lifetime or two ago, when I worked for a start-up with lots of young employees, I was walking along the street talking to a (younger) friend about his girlfriend. Now, you have to understand that this friend was a tall, blond, gorgeous and charming guy, with a pure heart, who everyone loved. He was very intelligent and humble and nice to your mother when she was in town.

By way of describing his girlfriend he said,

“You know how, in every couple , there’s one person who’s the one who’s really great and the other one’s kind of the weak one?”

Um, not really but ‘okay’.

He paused, grinned, and looked at me,

“I’m the weak one.”

“Wow,” I said, thinking she must be something special.

When the company transferred him to London, she followed him and, within 24 hours (with jet-lag, mind you), had walked into a music venue in London and set her self up a gig to perform her songs the next night.

They came back to the States, and he married her. Their wedding featured music she had written, a special bridal march composed and performed by her aunt, and a fantastic rendition of “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” by one of her friends.

She went off to study playwriting at one of those Ivy League universities (having already had one musical produced professionally during her undergraduate years at another Ivy League place) and he followed her and I kind of lost touch with them.

Then, checking on her website, as I occasionally do, I just discovered that her latest musical (she wrote the book), has recently..

won the 2008 Tony for Best New Musical!

….

I’m a little bit speechless.

She has that ‘drive’ think of which I have heard tell. It seems to be important.

Uh-yup.

Kids Away

I was gearing up for a Granparents-and-all trip to the big zoo this morning when Granmo said,

“Well, we could take them to the little zoo instead, and you could stay and get on with some stuff…”

It seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up, so I packed them off with water and sunscreen and a double stroller (not for Granmo, sadly) and watched them drive away.

Then I came in and started to clean the kitchen.

Dang. I think I made the wrong choice.

However, an hour and a half later, my downstairs is mostly clean and decluttered and I’m taking a moment before tackling (some of) the upstairs.

It feels quite good, but I’m still feeling a bit conflicted, as I only have a few more days to hang out with my parents and it would have been good to do so at the zoo where the boys could be allowed to roam and we might have had a chance to talk a bit. I swear I talk more to my mother when she’s 3,000 miles away than I can when she’s here!

Birthday Suits

Look what Fifona made for our birthdays! Mine has knitting stuff all over it and little pockets for needles and notions, and fimo clay buttons in the shape of balls of yarn.
front

Kev’s has fabrics from his various interests but it really gets good when you turn him around.

back

Not only is that a “Settlers of Catan” board, but the road system on it is his molecule, the one that may well be on the market as a drug any day now.

He says he’s going to wear it when he gives his Boffin Award speech in September!

Happy Birthday To Me!

Most people I know are going to be jealous of my present.

And if you aren’t, it’s only because you haven’t played with one yet!

It’s lovely. There’s a spot where you can enter your device’s name. I’m thinking it’s going to have to be “My Precioussssss”…