Holiday Smiles and Silly Families

In addition to being the week before Thanksgiving (yay) this is also the week that people in my extended family start Christmas shopping. (Not me, I’m busy cooking/working two jobs/raising three kids/you know, stuff) But that does mean that everybody wants the kid’s Christmas lists. This works for me, as a kid extended family (ie people who you see two times per year) would never have a clue enough about my personality, likes, dislikes, or shoe size, to actually get me anything I wanted/could wear/would use. As a grown up, this means we can spend those weeks in December returning crap, or (the option I prefer) actually hanging around/getting to know (this year’s version) of those family members. So each of the moms makes a list, and then emails it to everyone. Honestly, this is usefully for those of us who see kiddies all the time but can’t keep in their head their own kid’s shoe sizes, much less other people’s.  These lists were started when I was in high school by one of my aunts. What is less helpful (IMO) is that these lists became like a newsletter of sorts. You know “Tilly Mae is now a Junior in High School and is {of course} still making straight As. She enjoys volunteering at the local homeless shelter, and has time to do that despite her busy school/band/choir schedule due to the fact that her father and I decided we prefer to fund her activities {because they made $100s of thousands of dollars per year and could do whatever} rather than her having an afterschool job. She recently won an award for Excellence on the Field {which was awarded as a participation award, I remember asking her} with her soccer team this year as they made their way to the season finals {no mention that they got in as an alternate}Go Eagles! She has always been a joy to us and we approach her last two years before college with the mixed feelings of those who are as proud and blessed as we and will miss her terribly.” This is the same cousin who that year I caught smoking pot on the front stoop of my mother’s house while everyone was inside. They would go on and on, these newsletters, and then have a list at the end of overpriced gifts none of us could afford to purchase.  So when I started making lists for mine I will put a brief “Hey, how are ya’ll” at the beginning and make applicable personal comments in the actual lists. I mean, if you mail (on red or green paper, natch) or email me a 3 page diatribe, what will we talk about when we all get together, right? So I sent out our list yesterday, after 2 request texts (one while I was at work) and then a reminder text a day later. I have since then been told that I should share my letter here, because “this is cracking me the fuck up” as I was told.  So I have changed actual personal info using {brackets and fake names}, but figured, what the hell? Hope it makes you giggle a little this morning as well…

Back by popular demand! A Christmas list (or maybe just inspiration guide) for the kiddos here. Thank you in advance for sending me your kiddo’s list as well (ahem) if applicable. We are looking forward to seeing everyone around Christmas time this year! If we haven’t gotten together and nailed down a time, please text/call me/email me/send carrier pigeon/something. I really am hoping to see all of ya’ll soon (& force you to take home copious amounts of baked goods), so let me know. Also, since this stuff ends up changing all the time (are some of you trying to be cyber anonymous? Or perhaps you just don’t like Christmas cards? 😉 ) My contact info is listed here, please reply with any updates of your own. I did try to make this list as clear as possible, but since you don’t have the benefit of being inside my head (lucky you!) let me know if anything requires further clarification. I asked the kids to be cost conscious when making their lists (some are better than others, as you will see) feel free to ignore overpriced items or donate towards them. Again, I feel, and am (still) trying to convey that the getting to see family and friends, the fellowship of the season, celebrating a  birthday, and the joy of giving are Christmas, not who got what from whom. Please, keep that in mind as you go about shopping this year. We love you and are truly looking forward to seeing you.

 

Address: {you may send an e-card, but I prefer no strange visitors, that I’m not related to}

Cell Phone: {also, do not call me}

Email to phone (ie you want me to read it NOW-in important & capital letters):

{can’thavemyhomeemail}

Email to computer (ie you have attached things & want me to be able to see them on a nice eye soothing full screen, and it can wait till I get home & put people to bed-or the weekend): mamaskitchentable@gmail.com

Email at work (ie we are almost sending an IM, but with links & it is happening Monday through Friday 8:45am to 4:45pm EST): {ormyworkemailnosey}  or {alsonot thisone}

Merry Christmas everyone!!!!!!  (yes I am excited, time for dancing, I do believe…)

 

BoyChild I:

Plasma Nebula Ball (a link here: http://www.amazon.com/Electric-Novelties-Plasma-Nebula-Ball/dp/B000QSQSMU/ref=pd_bxgy_hg_img_y  Doesn’t have to be this one, this is an example of one.)

Legos (Esp, Star Wars)

Lava lamp in black, green, blue (or another “soothing” color)

PlayStation 2 or Nintendo DS games

Tennis Shoes (size 7 ½ Men’s) Because he keeps 1 pair at school for gym & wears out tennis shoes fast!

Money towards the purchase of a Nintendo DS (his broke & he is trying to save enough to replace it)

I just replaced all of BoyChild I’s clothes (since he grew 6in & gained 28lbs over the summer!) So he is good on clothes right now (give it till say, February & then he’ll be naked again lol)

Bathrobe Boy’s XL or Men’s S (size 14 in boys clothing)

Stress Balls (he goes through these during the school year)

Pair of sturdy work gloves (for outdoors work/gardening/etc) Men’s S

Giant Floor/Body Pillow in dark green, navy or khaki (please not white-he really is going to lay on this in the floor! Or Dark brown-Will has one in that color & it’d be best to keep them identifiably separate. Lol)

Books (Enjoys genres/reading level like: Red Wall series, A Series of Unfortunate Events series, Percy Jackson series, Hardy Boys series, lots of fantasy/mystery/adventure)

 

BoyChil II:

Legos

Books (Enjoys genres/reading level like: Flat Stanley series, BFG & other Roald Dahl books, Captain Underpants, Boxcar Children, any funny books, he is not a fan of fantasy/mystery or adventure-ugh, I know- there is a great list here: http://us.macmillan.com/MacmillanSite/categories/Childrens/Fiction/Humorous+3rdGrade )

Playground Ball

PlayStation 2 or Nintendo DS games

Pillow Pet (specifically the Dream Lites Snuggly Puppy)

Huge Ben 10 & any “classic” superhero (Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, Hulk, Flash, Wolverine, you get the idea) fan

BoyChild II spends a lot of time pretending to be one of the above, any “props” or costume pieces would also be great ideas as those things get worn out fairly quickly around here & he & K-man are constantly running around in ½ costume & creating sound effects/destroying bay guys/etc.

Bike Hemet (Children’s M)

BoyChild II is also good on clothing (what with all the hand-me-downs)

 

GirlChild:

iPod Touch (or money towards her saving up for one)

Cookie Monster, Elmo, or Oscar Snapbacks with a flat bill. (I think these are hats, but I’m not nearly hip enough to know what that is exactly)

Studded Belts (any color/pattern/etc) Size Women’s M

1in curling iron

Watch

Sports Bras (34C or Women’s M)

PlayStation 2 or Nintendo DS games

Books (Enjoys genres like: Twilight series, Undead and Underemployed series, YA romance-please be content aware, Mom thanks you-, Flipped, “girl power” type stories)

Jeans size 5 or 6

GirlChild just got a new bed that is a twin with a twin sized trundle, all of her bed linens (in addition to being horrifyingly-her words- childish)are double bed sized. She still likes pink, purple, green, yellow, etc, just doesn’t want to sleep with her fairy/Bratz/Princess blankets anymore. Any contribution would be welcomed, even gift cards to Target to pick out her own.

 

Merry Christmas all!

Me

 

Do you have (or have you received) Christmas lists/newsletters/ etc this year? Maybe one from years past? Do share; I would love a chuckle as well. Hope you have great weekend!

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4 Quick Dinners for the Little Ghouls

Happy Halloween everyone! Prayers to those of you still without power or under water. I hope you all go Trick-or-Treating as soon as you are able. For the rest of us, it’s Trick-or-Treating on a school night. (Ugh) I always hate that when it happens, you can’t let them eat their candy while you are walking around the neighborhood (Ahh! Potential poisons/razor blades/allergens/oh my!!), which you are doing at an unreasonably early hour (it’s still daylight and only the toddler crowd and complete lame-os Trick-or-Treat before dark; ask any of my kids, they will totally confirm this fact), so you go home after, everyone gets one piece of candy then it’s teeth brushed, pjs on, and off to bed. (hurry, hurry) And the next day? Cranky, pissy, sugar-hungover kids; hanging out at school with other kids of a similar disposition. (an excellent reason to not teach elementary school, or to give your kids teacher an excellent gift prior to the “winter holiday”, however you want to interpret that) I’m kind of surprised there aren’t more fights at school the day after Halloween, I wonder… (To do: Google average day of school year with most fights…) Anyway so before the treating and tricking this evening you still have to feed the little dears (I normally wouldn’t refer to kids that way, but trying to get them to anything like eat a healthy meal prior to Trick-or-Treating? Psht, right), my mommy guilt gets on me and I’m all “a healthy meal before we indulge this evening” while they are all (picture short people vibrating with excitement) “but I’m not hungry for supper (same child is normally in the final death throes of starvation by this time in the afternoon), I just want to put on my costume and goooooo (whiney tone added to the physical vibration here)”.  Ahh, these are the days… Good times and all that. I have discovered a few (very fast) fairly appealing and yet moderately nutritional Halloween suppers. I thought I’d share (since most of them were ideas from cookbooks that I simplified or used as is). These are also fun for any busy night in October or, I suppose, if you go for the ghoulish, any busy night year round.

Ghost Soup and Graveyard Salad

*the trick to any Halloween dish is make it sound as gross/scary as possible*

Ghost Soup is actually low-sodium New England Clam Chowder topped with a slice of Provolone Cheese cut with a ghost shaped cookie cutter. (place cheese while steamy hot and your ghost will be more melty and less cookie cuttery-yes I just made that word up) Graveyard Salad is Base Salad with large wheat croutons (gravestones) and alfalfa sprouts (moss) and raspberry vinaigrette dressing (zombie blood), delish!

Wormy Sandwiches with Bug-Infested Logs

Wormy Sandwiches are hotdogs, sliced length-wise into thin strips and tossed in your fav BBQ sauce, served in a pile on a hamburger bun (or dinner roll for littler monsters). Bug-Infested Logs are a gross (er?) take on the classic ants on a log (aka the only way anyone has ever been excited about celery, ever). You cut your celery logs and fill the trough with cream cheese (maggots) or cottage cheese (if you kids are willing-mine aren’t & well, neither am I *shudder*) top with raisins (flys, bugs, whatever you wanna call them). Bon-appetit! 🙂

Vampire Soup and Fang Sandwiches

Vampire Soup is just classic tomato soup (blood) with a slice of Colby (or American, just orange cheese) cut with bat-shaped cookie cutter (you can usually get 2 bats per slice) floating on top. Fang Sandwiches are grilled cheese sandwiches cut into 4 triangles (arrange into a toothy grin on plate around bowl of soup). This one usually makes even the pickiest monster happy.

Mummies and Garbage Dip

The Mummies are hot dogs wrapped with crescent roll dough that is sliced into strips. (Make sure to wrap haphazardly so that it looks like mummy wrappings, also kids can do this part, if they want to help) Bake as directed on crescent roll package. When cooled enough to eat give your mummies ketchup (or mustard) eyes. Garbage Dip is Ranch veggie dip (get a kind that has chunks of veggies in it) with cut up veggies spread all around on a serving platter. The trick is you need 5 baby carrots arranged in the dip as though they are a hand reaching up out of the dip. Try adding to this “illusion” by putting a plastic spider ring on the ring ‘finger”. Mmmmm…

These are the easiest, I’ve seen others, but the whole point is quick and easy, right? Save the Spider Web Pancakes for breakfast, not between school and candy time Trick-or-Treating.

 

 

 

 

 

Have a fun (and safe) time!

A Seasonal Romance

Fall! Yup, cold at night and not ever hot during the day. Fall is totally here in the south. You all know that summer is my favorite, but that doesn’t mean I plan to be a whiny mope the rest of the year (unless I’m sick, duh). The beginning of Fall rekindles my yearly romance with the pumpkin. RedBird and I start buying up all the pumpkin flavored foods as soon as they hit the shelves. We go crazy, then by Thanksgiving we are all, ugh, pie? *shudder*. It’s definitely one of those flash in the pan, hot and heavy romances, that’s comes on too strong to last. But, it’s been a whole year so it’s totally time for crazy amounts of pumpkin related stuff. Yay! I already made Pumpkin Bread, and when I was drinking my pumpkin coffee this morning while eating my pumpkin bagel I realized this might be an obession others could benefit from. I mean, if it exists, I have at least tried it (as far as pumpkin goes). So I’m going to try to remember as many pumpkin successes as I can (and as many failures, I can think of at least 2, and I know there are more) and post them here, well, until I get over pumpkin for the year. Do you have any suggestions or recipes you’d like to see? Like, are you searching for a pumpkin cookie that has an entire serving of veggies in it, but is okay for a diabetic to eat? I have one for that. Comment below, or email me at mamaskitchentable@gmail.com with any requests, I will try to fill them all. Enjoy the pumpkin love!!!

Pumpkin Bread

Braided Pumpkin Bread Wreath

Harvest Pancakes

Spider Web Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Spice Bars

Pumpkin Soup

The End of Summer 2012

You know how I love summer. You know how sad I probably was this Monday evening. School started back last week, but I could at least pretend a little longer. But, nope. As much as Memorial harrolds in my favorite season, Labor Day takes it away disguised as an overly pleasant, bittersweet, three-day weekend. Oh Labor Day, you sneaky little devil. It was a good summer, we spent all but the last 3 weeks living in a hotel and discovering that that wasn’t so bad. There were Mosquito battles, but no one had heat stroke, all in all a good summer. We had GirlChild’s Bday, played in the pool, had my Bday, played in the pool some more, rebuilt a house, had K-man’s bday (I promised to get of my ass & post about his Farm cake soon), we had BoyChild II’s bday party (I know, I am sooo far behind on the cakes/parties), we moved back into the house, went back to school shopping, had Gma’s (My mother & yes this is the adult Luau I am still promising to fill everyone in on as well) Bday, and then started 3rd grade/middle school/high school. Whew! we did have a busy summer! I thought I’d share one last just for summer recipe before I type up all those party posts. This one is a great way to encourage the hydration (and still yummy). So enjoy one last summer recipe for 2012!

Fizzy Fruit Tea

  • Brew 4 bags green tea in your coffee maker
  • Pour brewed green tea into gallon sized pitcher
  • Add 12 oz frozen juice concentrate (try cranberry/raspberry, orange, apple/cherry, or your house’s favorite)
  • Stir well
  • Add ice to mix
  • Once cooled pour into glasses 2/3 full
  • Top each glass with chilled ginger ale (or club soda, either works)
  • If you are being very fancy add fresh berries etc
  • Serve & enjoy!

Hope you all had a great summer! Keep an eye out for all the partying we did. Stay cool till the weather does my friends. 🙂

Freedom from Adults Interfering in Play Time

Happy Fourth of July everyone! This post is about freedom for kids. Freedom from Mom and Dad and their (well-intentioned) interfering ways. As Americans we keep encroaching on childhood, we chip at it, “improve” it, “enrich” it, basically in the name on “in your best interest” we don’t let kids be kids anymore. This post wasn’t actually originally written as a 4th of July post, but it did strike me as appropriate for today. So happy Fourth & have a safe and happy holiday!

A friend of mine and I the other day were talking about Superheroes, and the lack of female superheroes. We could list maybe ten or so, I’m referring to traditional superheroes, like in comic books. Women like Wonder Woman and Storm. Then it occurred to me that the flip side of this missing character was also true, there are very few real characters (I mean developed characters with personalities past “he slayed the dragon and rescued the princess”)of male hero status in traditional Princess stories. Think about it, we could come up with 10 female superheroes, from the boy-centric Superhero world, but we could only name 1 (Prince Charming- and how the hell is that even a name?) hero from the girl-centric world of Princesses. Now, she and I both grew up exposed to regular American pop culture as little girls (perhaps her slightly less than me, but that is another story entirely), we read the stories, we played what we read and saw, just like any normal kids would. We have chatted many times as adults about our different but similar childhoods, she a home-schooled smarty (whose not at all socially awkward for the record), me the product our public school system (who is smarty enough to know I wouldn’t want to be in a battle of smarts with this lady). We also grew up in different places, different birth orders, etc. The point is, despite all these “big” differences, we played about the same. This got me thinking about kids playing, and how as adults it’s the big thing to make sure we have equality for the sexes (especially girls right now) we work at it, we get into internet fights over it. People blast Lego for pink Legos and all the Princesses for being too whatever it is that they are too of. (I think the answer is girly, but then you aren’t supposed to say that). We analyze cartoons for cripes sake. This heroine isn’t strong enough, she’s too focused on being pretty. That hero is all ridiculous muscle and chauvinism and violence. There aren’t enough fill-in-the-blank with a race/religion/culture/body type/gender/you get the idea characters for kids to relate to. My Mommy blood is getting all boily just typing about the injustice of it all. But then I Really thought about it. Yes, some of those are legitimate concerns, but why do we, as grown-ups think we know better/can do better at the one thing kids will always be better at than adults? Play. Play is the world of kids. They rock at it. After our conversation the other day, I’m definitely going to back away (not disappear, but stop interfering so much)and let my kids play.

Why? I realized that it all really does get made equal when you add a child’s imagination to whatever form the story came in. How many times in your childhood was Barbie’s wedding to GIJoe disrupted (ie made more interesting) by the horde of marauders (various action figures like Ninja Turtles of He-men in my childhood) riding in on their vicious steeds (My Little Ponies)? Or the oversized cardboard box the new fridge came in that started as the box car for the Boxcar Children, then morphed into a dungeon where a pair of evil witches held a young prince captive for years (or until Mom got that box the hell out of her living room and into the trash)? What about the bicycles that were timid plow horses from Little House on the Prairie one day, raging winged beasts from some dark world I can’t remember the name of right now the next, and then they were the tough horses of cowboys (and cowgirls) who might rob a bank one morning then rescue a dog from a burning building that afternoon? This is how my kids play too. There were three of us, my brother, my sister, and me. I was the oldest (ie the best/a bossy little bitch), my brother was the youngest (ie the baby/ poor kid who put up with a lot) and my sister in the middle (ie the classic middle/abused from both sides). We played pretend constantly. No matter the original inspiration for our play, we always made it ours. If we needed villains, we were villains. If we needed heroes, we were heroes. None of us cared what the original gender/race/stature of the character we were being was. We played boy parts and girl parts, all three of us. Sometimes we died, sometimes we made miraculous recoveries, sometimes death played no part in the game at all. But that’s kind of my point. We just played. (and fought, but mostly played) Do you have a little princess at home? Watch, if you leave her be, she’ll also play the roles of evil witch, good witch, hero rescuer, maybe even the dragon. Do you have a little superhero? If you leave him alone, he might also be the evil mastermind, the scientist who cures the plague, a sorcerer (good or bad), the injured prince rescued by the princess, or even the bear cub. If you have ever watched kids really play you will see this, there are plots, there are character developments, there is intrigue, drama and morals running through their play. They don’t need (or even really want) us to equalize it for them, they do it on their own. The two sisters who take turns playing the bride or the groom, the two brothers who take turns being the rescued or the rescuer, they do it better than we ever could. This past Christmas I bought my youngest and his cousin a giant bin that I filled with “pretend stuff”. They love it. They can be anything from postal workers to firemen to cooks, and several things in between. I did avoid the pink cookware (I found black, which looks like real cookware and stops making it girl/boy stuff), but those two put on chef’s hats and “cook” up a storm. It’s great to watch them come up with ideas.

I guess I just wanted to put my two cents in on the whole parental “fixing” of play-time. I realized, outside of safety issues, I need to get the adult out of playtime. What do you think? Where do stand? Should we just let them be kids or should we continue this battle to make everything the same? Are we doing more harm than good? Let me know what you think.