No time or imagination today, recovering from stomach flue. Here are some previous posts
The kids are all home sick today. Finn has missed all week, Anya two days, and Connor toughed it out until this morning when he gave in to his body’s demand for rest. I am not feeling so hot myself, though considerably better than the kids. Today’s bento box was supposed to include my kids’ favorite homemade enchilada recipe and being the optimist that I am, I was in the process of attempting homemade tortillas without a press when Connor decided to stay home. After seeing to Connor’s needs, I quickly changed gears and turned my bentos menu into an enchilada casserole that my husband could take to work. The addition of homemade corn tortillas should be a nice touch. (Yes, it is possible without a press, though my X-Mas list hasn’t changed) We have gotten in the habit of serving a paleo version of this recipe because Connor prefers it though we certainly won’t be taking a family vote on the matter today with everyone feeling so sick. (I can’t believe they stuck it out with Mexican lunches for as long as they did!) My poor husband has suffered through cheese rats and cookies shaped like skulls, as I include leftovers from the kids’ menus in his lunch, so at least today he gets to eat something faceless. Maybe his enchiladas will impress him as much as the flautas did and he will benefit from this bento-box experiment as much as the rest of the family. So, about “base”…
I was a chemistry major in college and DIY kitchen science experiments have always had a place in our family. The year the boys started kindergarten, we were organized enough to have a specific time of day set aside where we would do an experiment and talk about the reaction chemistry behind it. (my poor kids) Our home lab was well stocked with chemistry basics as my father-in-law’s brother had left him all of his rocket making materials when he died and in a massive spring cleaning event, the lab equipment had all been passed down to us. We had beakers and test tubes, blown glassware and more as well as all of his unused, but perhaps outdated chemical reagents. To this, we added chemistry sets from the church garage sale, etc and ended up with some pretty amazing potential for scientific discovery. Alas, over time, our enthusiasm waned and hours seemed better spent on sports and music. We held on to our makeshift lab, however, with everything packed up and put away for future use.
I realized that Anya was doing her own science experiments, when I came across beakers with colorful liquids in her room. Not one to stave off innovation, I cleaned her glassware properly and returned it to the closet where our science kit was kept. I’m sure I stood staring for awhile. Everything was out and open. Dried substances of varying shades of purple covered most surfaces. Looking about the rest of the playroom, I noted that these unendorsed trials were progressing via different modes under the piano, by the bookshelves, on the dollhouse, behind the puppet theater etc. Shocked, but kind of proud, I started carrying glassware into the bathroom for cleaning. My chemistry years long behind me, I began emptying contents down the drain without thought. The changing patina of the chrome signaling the water’s descent to the sewer stopped me. Whoops! What was I dumping and what had they been playing with? Had we ever taken a thorough inventory of the contents of this chemistry set? What if the kids had mixed an acid and a base? Would my husband find this amusing or was I truly unfit to raise children?
Needless to say, we cleaned the rest of the glassware outside and tossed those no longer able to perform their function into the recycling. I rounded up the remaining chemicals, some downstairs, some in Anya’s room, and some discovered later in the backyard and boxed them up to be stashed in our storage room until time allowed for proper disposal. Sounds reasonable I’m sure, but 5 years have passed and that time still hasn’t come. Worse yet, the kids have discovered candy I have hidden in the storage room, so it isn’t a good hiding place. Still, 5 years is a long time and my kids have matured. Their schedules are so busy, they don’t have time to look for trouble. And, I believe if they came upon such a discovery at this age, they would bring it to my attention. Actually, that may be the only way I can discover the exact location of the box. So many things have been moved around in there that it could be under anything. Maybe I need to pay them to find it for me?
8 chicken thighs cooked and shredded (I made double when I made Flautas)
1 1/2 cups Costco Green Chili Salsa ( or other tomatillo base-this has kick and some color)
2 c heavy shipping cream
2 c shredded Mexican cheese (at least)
corn tortilla dough (see “Amazing, Homemade Flautas…” yesterday’s post)
olive oil spritz
Roll tortilla dough out, as in previous recipe, on well-oiled surface, and spritz oil on dough itself. Cut into circle using a bowl the size of small tortillas (around 5-6″). Using spatula, lift tortilla and move to pan spritzed with olive oil. Cook, gently turning over until lightly browned (small brown bubbles) on both sides. Repeat eight times, creating eight corn tortillas. Pour 1 cup of cream into bowl and dip four tortillas until coated and place in the bottom of a 13 x 9″ casserole. In large bowl, combine chicken and salsa. Mix well and spoon on top of tortillas. Dip remaining tortillas in cream and place on top of chicken. Pour all remaining cream over casserole. Top with cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes, until cheese begins to brown. Allow to sit before serving.
Star Wars and Diapers
Finn was potty trained in one day. We had introduced the boys to the concept one weekend at the mountain house where a trip to Target and creative application of ear plugs and masking tape resulted in 2 anatomically correct cabbage patch kids. Sleight of hand, assisted by a squirting water bottle and crumbled brownies, gave these dolls human functions, primarily the ability to use the toilet. This bathroom pantomime required no command performance for Connor. Already a high achiever, he practiced and learned from accidents and by summer’s end, was ready to advance up to a diaper-free classroom at preschool. Finn was less interested. He rather liked making bubbles in the toilet with his brother, but had no desire to sit down on the contraption. He was sincere in his admiration for Connor’s new skill, but who would want to touch the toilet with their bare bottom?
The book I had read to prepare for twins had recommended keeping them together; Psychologically and cognitively, twins do better when their mirror image is close enough to interact and exchange ideas so it was imperative that Finn move up in preschool with his brother. Thinking outside the box, and perhaps killing two birds with one stone, I asked my husband if I could incentivize potty training by rewarding success with Star Wars toys. Understand that I am not a Star Wars fan, but my husband is and while I entered into marriage with very little personal effects, my husband entered with bins and boxes and bags of Star Wars collectibles that I attempted to organize and store. I dreamed of garage sales and longed for “Clean House” to put an end this clutter. I was drowning in simplistic plots and bad dialogue made into plastic idols for the masses. Maybe we could give some of daddy’s “toys” to our kids rather than waiting to be made rich by over-prolific marketing strategies. To my surprise, my husband did not dismiss my idea, rather he limited the toys that could be separated from their packaging to those acquired at Taco Bell or Burger King. It was fine to break out the happy meal toys, but the licensed, trademarked action figures that actually cost money might still send our kids to college.
Small victories. I had the foresight to separate the fast-food toys from the rest and was storing them in a bin of their own. I opened it up and chose a few interesting baubles, and called the kids down to hear my spiel. The plan was that if Finn sat on the potty and went number two, all three of my kids would get a Star Wars toy. Motivation for Anya and Connor to stay engaged and support Finn in his potty journey. As expected, the kids were excited , so I brought the whole bin of toys out and let them peruse their plunder. It took about two seconds for Connor and Anya to begin asking Finn if he needed to go potty and encouraging him to give it a try. Convinced, Finn took off all of his clothes, perched naked on the toilet seat and proceeded to make his first big boy poopy ever. Success! Everyone cheered and the kids clamored to pick from the bin of toys.
I was glad my idea had met with triumph and proud of Finn for taking this big step. I was not prepared for the rest of the day’s events however. The kids had seen the toy bin. It held years of prizes from multiple movies and various plot lines. Who could be satisfied with just one item? To my surprise, the morning’s efforts were repeated a total of five times throughout the day. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been a witness, but with very little coaxing, and no unusual foods or drinks, Finn was able to score a total of 5 toys each for he and his siblings. I wondered at the sincerity of Finn’s new attitude towards bathroom habits. Had we been mistaken to use such rewards? Would he need a Star Wars toy every time he went for the rest of his life? I am happy to say, 9 years later that Finn is a healthy and well-adjusted kid who prefers the privacy of a stall in public venues, but otherwise has no unusual proclivities around his bathroom habits. He is a Star Wars fan, however, and may one day use the collection he has amassed to potty train his own son.
Here, Kitty Kitty
Raven appeared on our porch and in our lives two days before the Mother’s Day big snow, only he was still Murray at that time. It took this grifter 1 hour to elicit a bowl of milk from our kitchen, 2 hours to convince me to run to the store for cat food, 24 hours to put a chink in my no-cats-inside armor, 3 days to see me researching litter boxes and four days to bludgeon me into spending $500 at the vet. (Sterilization and inoculation to prep this mangy creature for domestication) I had every intention of standing my ground and keeping this vagrant at arm’s reach, but I was no match for Raven’s big cat personality. My resolve began to slip when I observed how this stray interacted with my daughter; He was vocal and affectionate and would appear out of nowhere when Anya called. They had become fast friends and this feline quickly adapted to our schedule, recognizing that a car in the driveway meant Anya could play. The real turning point for me came the Monday following the big snow. Our furry friend had survived inclement weather and a neighborhood coyote only to tempt fate by taking his siesta in the middle of the street. Raven seemed oblivious to danger and it was decided that we must rescue this cat from himself. We followed a background check with kitty paperwork and a subcutaneous chip in the process of making this cat a member of the family. I am now saddled with a cat box, twice as much pet hair (we already had a malamute) and anecdotes about chasing kitty through the neighborhood at 2 in the morning in my robe with my husband shadowing us in his underwear. But most importantly, I possess the absolute conviction that Raven, formerly Murray, is worth it.
Too Tired to Write This...
Nanuck doesn’t understand what is so interesting about a piece of string. His copycat game is endearing. We know he is jealous of our rescue-cat, but his good nature outweighs his covetousness (unless food in involved) Ever the gentleman, Nanuck waits, perplexed, as our new addition naps in his bed. Taking time from his backyard romp, Man’s Best Friend invites Kitty to play on his turf, prancing around his oblivious buddy. When our Feline Friend crosses the street without permission, Nanuck is first on the scene, herding Raven away from traffic, helping us to catch this bad example. Nanuck sets the bar high regarding cat behavior: Our Good Boy won’t tolerate claw sharpening on the rug or dashing from room to room in a crazed frenzy; He is quick to bark his disapproval when Raven uses teeth and claws to shred homework or the occasional stray check; Nanuck’s embarrassment at such bravado as he catches our black cat walking across the counters is obvious. Our malamute stands idly by as Raven swats at his tail and chases his dragging leash. He runs to our cat’s aid when the sound of a rejected hairball worries his kind heart. Nanuck has accepted his adopted sibling and comes running to “Here, kitty, kitty..” because Raven won’t. When my mother-in-law brought a new puppy over to the house , both pets acted out; Nanuck growled and whined and Raven stalked his prey. These unexpected brothers will not tolerate a new baby in the family. They have an implied understanding and a funny kind of love, but the O’Neill pets also have their limits.