Monday, June 28, 2010

The Third Child

Yesterday Josie was in her high chair munching on a handful of cereal and I was folding laundry five feet away. The overhead lights turned on, then off. I looked at the switch, and there's Josie...standing up in her highchair, turned around to face the wall. She has her hands on the back of the chair to balance herself and she's bumping the lightswitch on and off with her head.

With her head.

Needless to say I tightened the heck out of those highchair straps and our darling little Houdini will be under a higher level of surveillance from here on out.

Going from one child to two was was going from two to three. I was surprised at the switch from Gage to Gage and Lila - it was so much smoother than I'd feared. Even easier was adding Baby Jos. She has had a comfortable, defined place in our family from the day she was born. But strangely, it's more difficult with each baby to let them cry it out at bedtime.

I know, logically, that Josephine can't talk yet. But that doesn't stop her from babbling 'Ah-dah' whenever she sees Mike. It made me grin big yesterday when he kept redirecting her attention...she was getting distracted when he was feeding her peaches and yogurt...and she gave him a little baby glare and scolded, "Ah-dah'!" in this annoyed way. Like..."Leave me be, Daddy!" Mike and I both felt her wrath...or at least enjoyed the way it seemed.

We took Lila to her first movie over the weekend - Toy Story 3! (Gage's third...his first was Up, last summer.) She enjoyed the movie, for sure, but we should have prepared her better for the whole "You must stay in your seat the entire time" part of it. She kept squirming around, flopping left and right, forward and back, and saying, "Is it over now?" I tried to get her to sit in my lap but she would have none of that. She did, however, enjoy the box of candy and bag of popcorn we bought. Who wouldn't!?

And Gage, in true Gage style, liked every scene of the movie (including the fiery-inferno-imminent-death scene) except the one where the toys were rude to each other.

I know what you mean, pal. I don't like rude, either.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Yay! It's Summer!

Last night we settled down to play a game with Gage - a great, creative game called "Now What?" It's lots of fun and we play it often. There are cards with short paragraphs describing a scene, and then there are picture cards that you can choose how to complete the scene. I'm not explaining this well, but it's an awesome game and Gage really likes it and it's fun for me and Mike to play, too, unlike many (repetitive and simple) kids' games.

So I'm skimming through some of the 'story' cards, trying to find one that's easy to follow, since Gage is four. Many of the stories are geared toward slightly older kids. Mike is watching me and says, "What are you looking for?"
Me: "Some of these cards are a bit...." I search for the right word.
Mike, leaning forward conspiratorially: "Advanced?"
Gage, leaning forward conspiratorially: "Overwhelming?"

Well. So much for trying to sneak that one by him.

Lila was watching me prepare a whole chicken for the grill last night. I massaged a dry rub onto the skin, tied back the wings, etc., and she watched me all the time. Then she pointed and said, "Are those legs?"
Me: "Yep."
Lila: "Was that alive once?"
Me: "Yes, it was."
Lila: "But not in our country."
Me (hiding a smile): "Even in our country."
Lila: "But it's deaded in the store."
Me: "It's no longer alive before it even gets to the store."
Lila (quiet)
Me: "How does that make you feel?"
Lila (looking uneasy): "Funny."

I wonder if we'll have a little vegetarian in a couple of years...? I couldn't very well lie to her. Mike helped me out by adding that the chicken we eat is raised responsibly and happily, which is true, and I think that must help a little. It helps me, anyway.

Lila and Josie both had well-child visits to the doctor recently, and the doctor recommended that Lila have an echocardiogram done to see what's causing a heart murmur, which has been persistent since she was 12 months old. We went for the echo two days ago and she was a real champ, but we won't know the results for another several days.

Josephine is pulling herself up into a standing position now. She just turned seven months, and has two bottom teeth and her hair is beginning to lighten in the sun. She is a charming and funny baby. I swear she made her first joke. Gage often comes close to talk to her and stroke her hair while she nurses. A few days ago he was doing this, and she turned her head and latched onto his arm. He squealed and she started laughing. I swear she did it on purpose. She is also very 'talkative' lately, stringing sounds together often and loudly. I love to listen to her "Da-da-da-das" and "Mum-mum-mums."

Gage and Lila are both on a seafood kick lately - wanting steamed clams and shrimp for dinner. We indulge them occassionally, since Mike and I love seafood, and we're tickled that we can enjoy these foods with our kids now.

Gage used to be put off by spicy foods, but now is beginning to enjoy and crave them, as long as he has a glass of milk nearby. Lila has always liked spicy food, that funny girl. She got mad at me recently for finishing the buffalo chicken dip without letting her grab a final scoop.

Josie has just started yogurt and she loves it. I also love the yogurt stage of babyhood, because it is so nourishing and flexible. She loves graham crackers, too, and bananas.

Mike is back at work, and while we're very happy about that there is also some adjusting to do. I love having time with the kids in the afternoons, but without a fence enclosing our backyard I can't leave them alone for a second. I think that's what I miss the most about Mike being home - not having to herd the kids inside every three minutes to grab something else that we need (the phone, crackers, water, sunscreen, a towel, etc.). I mean, that's the most practical thing I miss. Mostly I just miss having all of us together for much of the day. That was really nice.

I dropped off the last of Gage's Kindergarten registration paperwork at his new school, so he's all set to begin at the end of the summer. My boy. My big, big guy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rice. It's so, so good.

I set out on a modest quest this past perfect my rice. I know it sounds small, but all the rice I had ever made before, like, December of 2009 was okay. And just that- okay. Not great. And rice is something you should really just understand, you know? Something that should come easily. I try to challenge myself a couple of times a year to really study, like, REALLY study one specific food and learn how to make it really well. 2008 was the Year of The Yeast Dough. I made so much bread, so many sticky buns, so many delicious cakes that 2009, by default, also happened to become The Year of Losing Ten Pounds. But I learned a lot.

So I figured that I could do something relatively simple for late 2009, since Jos had just been born and I needed at least a little of my wits about me.

Anyway, I'm not saying that I make the best rice. I'm not saying that I learned all there is to learn about rice. But I did learn one thing, at least, and that is that the instructions on the package DO NOT make the quality of rice that a few little adjustments will allow....

So make this rice, and tell me if you like it. This is our go-to rice now, the side dish that accompanies at least one meal per week. After a couple of times it's old hat...this recipe is from memory (it is so simple!).

Oh, one more thing. We try to eat pretty healthfully but I gave up on brown rice a few years ago because I missed the deliciousness of starchy, wonderful white rice. I missed it so much! We'll give brown rice another go someday, I'm sure, but for now we use plain old white, long grain rice.


One cup dry long grain white rice
1.5 tsp butter (2 tsp if you've had a bad day)
.5 tsp kosher salt
1.5 cups boiling water (boil the water then doesn't have to be literally boiling hot when you add it, but it should definitely be hot)

Rinse the heck out of the rice. What I do is soak the rice in a 2-cup measure in cool water for several minutes, stirring occasionally. I pour off the starchy water and refill with fresh several times. After ten minutes or so, when the water is more or less clear (the starches have been rinsed away) I pour the rice into a metal strainer and give it one last rinse...then let it rest on a clean cotton towel (to sap away some of the moisture - important for later).

Put a 2 quart pot on the stove, and turn the heat to medium. Put your butter in there.

When the butter is melted and sizzling a little (but not yet brown!) add the salt and drained rice. This is where your draining of the rice is important - you don't want a bunch of water hitting that melted butter.

Leaving the heat on medium, stir the rice with a wooden spoon. If it creeps up the sides of the pot, push it back down. Keep stirring for three minutes. What you're doing here is toasting the rice a bit. It brings out a kind of nutty flavor.

Add your hot water, jack the heat up to high, and stir until your rice is boiling. This will happen quickly, probably within twenty seconds. As soon as you have a good boil, give one last stir, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and turn the heat down to the lowest setting on your burner. For me, it's just above low, like just between low and one, but more toward low.

Set your timer for seventeen minutes and leave it the heck alone.

When the timer rings you have two options - serve right away or move off the hot burner, keep covered, and wait until the rest of your dinner is ready. It stays hot and doesn't lose much quality if it waits there in the kitchen while you're getting other stuff together. When you're ready to serve, scoop it out very gently into a serving bowl using a fork, scrape at it like you would an Italian Ice, going one layer at a time.

So simple, yet so delicious.