Thursday, March 24, 2011

4 books

I just finished another memoir about Zimbabwe. The 4th in a string of memoirs about life in Zimbabwe. Life as a white African child and then later as an adult as Zimbabwe spiraled down through civil war and into greed, corruption, violence and hopelessness.

Sounds like depressing reading, and in many ways it is. But the subject matter is compelling and, though I am not a white African and have only 4 years of African childhood experience, I feel that connection with it. I was only 10 when we arrived in Kenya and 14 when we left but my life there is still vivid and ALIVE in my mind.

I can still smell the smoke from the charcoal making fires in August. The sweet smell clogging my nostrils and clouding the sky. I remember the rush of driving on safari and coming up on just fed lions, preening in the pre-dawn light after a nighttime kill.

I can feel the fear as we hung out our upper story windows yelling "mwezi, mwezi! theif, theif!" while watching my Dad race back toward the house, robbers chasing after him when they realized that the security airhorn he held didn't work. As the door slammed and the yelling continued I was sure they were in the house and were beating him only to realize they'd just crawled back into the truck to get the spare tire out and leave.

I love Africa, hope for it, despair for it and just can't stay away; even if it's just by reading right now.

The first two memoirs are by Alexandra Fuller.

The second two are by Peter Godwin.

"I feel like weeping. Weeping at the way Africa does this to you. Just as you're about to dismiss it and walk away, it delivers something so unexpected, so tender. One minute you're scared shitless, the next you're choked with affection." 
 A quote from Peter Godwin, When A Crocodile Eats The Sun

Monday, March 21, 2011

Edge of Insanity

Last year (or was it the year before? I'm not sure...the fun has all blended together) Steve's co-workers got together and got him a card for his birthday. Not some little card with a nice, work appropriate sentiment. No, this was a giant MUSICAL card.

I'm sure that they thought it was a funny joke. An obnoxiously funny little tune to brighten up his day. Did they know he was going to bring it home to his young daughter? Did they know that she would think it was THE BEST THING EVER?!!!

Seriously, this card has given us HOURS of entertainment! At first I thought I was going to go crazy having to listen to the song over and over and over again. The obnoxious was overpowering the funny... But then I decided I could either spoil the fun or join it. So I joined it and now we have rousing dance sing-a-long parties to this card.

The Princess decided that it was time to introduce Sweetpea to the awesomeness that is the Birthday Card. I couldn't help but record it.  

Caveat: Since The Princess knew she was being filmed she dialed back the excitement WAY back. Trust me, I haven't seen such a quiet rendition in a long time! (and we were just about to leave the house, Sweetpea isn't strapped into the carseat all day!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On making dinner

Cooking isn't one of my favorite things. I prefer to bake. But, since I have a husband who must eat (the wee ones aren't into food yet... Yes, The Princess is 3 but her favorite food is black beans, from a can, cold, with the bean juice. I can't make these things up!) and I'm at home near the kitchen I'm compelled to give it a try.

Here are a few of my attempts over the past two weeks...

1. Potato, Egg and Bacon Experiment.  Sometimes I refuse to go grocery shopping until two weeks have passed unless it's for fresh fruit or something. It's a matter of principal! That means that I have to make something out of whatever I have left in the fridge. The other night it wasn't much.

I thinly sliced red potatoes, scattered them in layers in the pan and simmered them in a  little broth. Once cooked I added beaten eggs, salt, pepper and crumbled bacon. Cooked it until the egg was done. It was quite good if I do say so myself!

2. Spinach Ricotta Bites  OK, The Princess enjoyed helping me make these but wasn't a fan, but who's surprised? Not me! I, on the other hand, had to stop myself from eating all of them in one sitting! They were even good heated in the microwave for breakfast the next day!

3. Minestrone Soup - Love my crockpot and LOVE this soup! I've eaten it four days in a row....

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shamrock Run

One of the things I really chafe at when I'm pregnant is that I can't do all of the physical activities that I normally enjoy. Last summer I had a list going of all of the things I was missing out of. Not that I'm not grateful for my girls but the growing of them kind of cramps my style! So, I was really excited to sign up for my first "race" of the season.

Sunday morning I woke up everyone early (even earlier since it was daylight savings...I could write an entire rant about that but I will refrain!) and rushed them out the door before it was even light out. The Princess HATES to be rushed in the morning (I see problems in our school days future!) but once we were in the car the screaming stopped and we headed pleasantly into the city.

It was spritzing, misting and spitting off and on as we loaded the stroller, walked to the starting line and met my friend Angie to run. First time for her (yay Angie!) and what felt like a first time for me!

The mist turned to drizzle as we set off in the sea of people many of who were wearing crazy hats, green tutus and shamrock headbands - good people-watching for the runners and bystanders!

We had a great run in spite of having to stop three times for traffic (you can tell this was a fun run - the pedestrians had to share the right of way with the buses and streetcar every so often!) and thanks to the beer and donut stop on the way. (Yes, I'm serious - a group of people in their pajamas handing out green beer and donuts but no, we didn't actually stop!)

The drops fattened up as we headed off to our cars and by the time it turned into real showers we were safely ensconsed at Beesaws for plate sized pancakes!

Really, truly a great morning!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spice up your pantry!

So lately this blog has been rather kid/mommy centric.  Not a surprise considering I spend 95% of my time at home with them but still...there has to be something else for me to write about, right?

I thought I'd do a little review of my current favorites at Trader Joe's. I may do this periodically since there are so many good things at Trader Joe's and so my favorites change constantly.  For those of you who don't have a TJ's nearby - I'm really sorry. That's really sucks for you!

Trader Joe's Tuna in Red/Green Curry Sauce - apparently TJ's carried this a few years ago but it hasn't been around for a while.  Well it's back now!  I tried the Red curry and really liked it, the Green is sitting in my pantry for the next time Steve is gone on business (he's anti fish...). It was spicy with great flavor and the tuna was flavorful and had a good texture. I'm not a fan of plain tuna from a can, I can handle tuna from a pouch. This tuna wasn't "tuna-y" at all.

Trader Joe's Soft and Juicy Mango - I can't say anything except that I could eat an entire package in one sitting. It's sweet and soft and if you can't get a fresh mango this is the next best thing. Watch out if you're giving it to toddlers though, they'll end up with an orange covered face.

Bogle Chardonnay - Crisp and clean and affordable. If you can't drink red (it gives me a headache) this is a worthy substitute.

Trader Joe's European Style Plain Yogurt - I don't like plain yogurt. It's a little too tart and sour. But this yogurt! Wow! I bought it because I had homemade granola I wanted to try so I figured I'd choke it down. Was I ever surprised. It's creamy and smooth and tart but NOT sour. I loved it and I've been converted.

Dubliner Cheddar Cheese - This cheese is a combination of nutty and sweet. It's perfect in sandwiches or just on it's own and I've been known to grate it over my salad too.  I never get tired of eating it.

Trader Joe's Ginger, Almond & Cashew Granola - This granola has ACTUAL chunks of ginger in it! That's all I have to say about that.

**No, I'm not getting paid or receiving free products from TJ's but a package of their Mini Peanut Butter Cups wouldn't be refused!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Proud but a little sleep deprived

I mentioned before that we're working on sleep training with Sweet Pea. We've had some travel disruptions so it was time to get back on track. Saturday night it came to a head. It was a 2 1/2 hour scream fest of rage as she tried to "cajole" us into picking her up and we held firm in getting her to put herself to sleep.

"Held firm" as in, suffered through the screaming as I paced and Steve pretended to sleep. Oh, and I had to make a lunging grab for him at one point when his restraint broke and he made a move to pick her up and derail our efforts!

We all survived.


And Sweet Pea even woke up with a smile. We just woke up. (And Steve made me french toast. Thoughtful, right?!)

Sunday evening was high with anxiety...would we go through the same thing again? Would we be at all functional for work the next day?

It didn't start out promising. The screams of rage sounded out as she was put down in her bed after being fed, swaddled and rocked to drowsiness.

We climbed into bed with grim determination, muscles tensed in an attempt to not move and not make a sound, hoping that the child will mercifully fall asleep. Now, we have a fan going to drown out excess noise but at that moment, the moment of paranoia where any noise brings a flinch, even the whisper of skin against sheets seems as loud as a car backfiring outside your window. That whisper IS going to sneak past the sound barrier and wake the baby that finally stopped crying.

(Of course the break in crying was actually just a pause for the face splitting yawn she couldn't hold in because she's so tired. The crying resumes as soon as she's done away with that stupid sleep signal. But still, there was the brief flicker of hope that she was going to go to sleep and leave us with ringing ears but a silent room.)

She did figure it out and after 10 minutes of crying she spent another 45 talking in offended and sulky tones before finally going to sleep...all on her own.

I'm so proud of her!