Monday, June 29, 2009

The One Where Mommy Realizes #2 is Going to be Different...

Oh I had a totally different post composed in my head, one I hope to write later this week. But tonight, I realized that the terrible twos with Charlotte are going to be vastly different than they were with Elisabeth. Elisabeth takes scolding, punishment, what have you, to heart. She feels sad, she genuinely doesn't like getting into trouble. Now, I know that I'm probably mis-remembering, but what I remember about Elisabeth being two was that when she'd act up, she'd think it was all fun and games but then she'd quickly that Mommy was very unhappy with her and she'd burst into tears.

Charlotte doesn't have that mode. And, while I know it is probably not very "good mother-like" to say, there is something satisfying about seeing your kid realize that you're not happy and have that make them not happy in return. There is something infuriating about having your kid see that you're not happy and laugh in your face.

From the day we brought our dear little Charlotte home, she has been a real pain in the butt to get dressed. Honestly, from day 1. My mother commented as I laid like an injured beached whale in my recliner that she was wiry and strong and really did not want her diaper changed. Wrestling a 6 pounder is much easier than wrestling a 20 pounder. But tonight, I went head to head with the 20 pounder.

Doug left to take the dog to obedience school and I was left to wrestle Charlotte into her PJs after her bath. It started well enough - she ran over to the spot where we do diapers and said "diaper ON." But as soon as I leaned down she began to kick me and kick me and kick me. I grabbed her little leg and growled "no kicking," and she laughed. And kicked. More grabbing and growling ensued. I counted to three and gave her a timeout and tried again. I had to count to three two more times until finally I realized that she was having more fun with this 1-2-3 timeout routine than she was kicking me. I gave up and left her in her diaper.

Life is one big game for Charlotte - everything is SO! MUCH! FUN! Hitting her sister? Totally fun. Kicking mommy? Totally fun. Timeouts? Best thing ever! I was so frustrated with her that I finally left her in the corner after our last timeout and went to Elisabeth's room to seek refuge. It is so frustrating to be angry and have the object of your anger having the time of her life. Elisabeth, seeing that I was frustrated managed to get herself dressed for bed. The kid is capable of moving the Earth when she sets her mind to it, but her mind is often floating around doing nothing of import.

A cute discussion ensued between the two usually battling sisters while I ran to get "Llama Llama Red Pajama" for Charlotte. I got into Elisabeth's room and the two girls were on the bed. Elisabeth was patting Charlotte's back saying, "its ok Charlotte. I get in trouble sometimes too. Mommy's not really mad. But you can't kick Mommy." I got Charlotte dressed, read her books, and stuck her in the crib thankful for my survival.

So the terrible twos are rapidly approaching. I'm fearful that 1-2-3 Magic won't work as well this time around and have no idea how to deal otherwise... I'm glad that Charlotte is such a happy go lucky kid - maybe the 10pm news won't cause her insomnia like it does her mother, but I guess at this point I'm just hoping I make it through her tantrum phase!!

Next up: our weekend report. Costco, hiking, snakes in the garden all in one great post.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Life is...

Too tired for narrative. Many hours in minivan with 2 kids and 2 dogs and 2 adults is long. Lots of you have asked how the trip went. It was fine, except for the last hour when we had a puking dog and a barking dog. At 3am. After 14.5 hrs in the car. Due to the fatigue, here is a new little format for you for today:

Fresh is... pulling a happy, healthy, kind of cute little slug off of your farm share lettuce and throwing him in the trashcan.

Dumb is... giving away your salad spinner to charity weeks before joining a farm share.

Maybe a little crazy is... thinking about that slug as you wash your lettuce and then giving him some lettuce remnants to munch on in the trash can.

Maybe a little crazier is... realizing that I spent good money on organic slug killer that I maniacally go spray on the slugs in my garden and watch them shrivel while I feel all sorts of affection for this little trash can slug.

Frustrating is... a broken laptop combined with the US Postal Service having some hangup about delivering packages to our house quickly. I just want my new screen!!!

Sad is... I'm no longer "Mama" to Charlotte. She woke up this morning screaming MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY, and Mommy it has been all day. Even Llama Llama is no longer Mad At Mama - he's Mad at Mommy.

Cute is... this email that Elisabeth sent to our neighbors who we love like family (the subject was "Love":

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Journey - part 1

A few months ago, I decided that I'd like to come to Florida and spend more than just our standard 3 nights here. Unfortunately, a few months ago, we also got a puppy. I'm sure that in a few years I won't view Ginny's arrival as unfortunate, but after 2 months of not sleeping through the night and more than my fair share of wounds from her teeth - I'm not yet jumping for joy at our new addition. I'm not even yet jumping for satisfaction.

The puppy arrival meant that we couldn't leave Ginny home with our neighbors, like we do with Maggie, because, see, we actually really like them and want to keep them as both neighbors and friends. We were pretty certain that leaving Ginny with them meant that we'd return to them at least shunning our friendship if not moving away entirely. Therefore the dog had to come with us, which meant we piled two dogs, two kids and two adults into the minivan and drove for 14.5 hours south until we reached beautiful, exciting, rural yet not Valrico, FL.

I got two reactions from telling people of our plan: (1) you are certifiably insane and (2) have you had your head checked? We decided to put the kids in the car around naptime and drive through the night getting here around 6am. Then we'd hand over the kids and dogs and take ourselves to bed.

So we packed up the car and left our driveway at 2:50 p.m. Not wanting to help us out, the universe saw to it that we got some good backups on 495/95S in the DC area. Nothing like starting off a nice long drive by creeping past Potomac Mills. All in all things went smoothly, though. We didn't get the first "are we almost at Grandmommy's house?" until about an hour in. The girls watched 2 videos, then we stuck them in their PJs at a gas station in North Carolina. Then they stayed awake chattering cute chatters for another couple of hours before passing out around 9pm.

Doug tried to take a nap from 7:30-8:30ish. This attempt was hampered by Charlotte, who kept hollering "wake UP Daddy. Wake UP. Nap DONE. Done nap!!!! Done!! Wake up!" in a constant stream. Far from being annoyed by this, we both found it hilarious. She was absolutely adamant that he would not be napping.

So then they were asleep at 9pm and we had about 9 hrs of silence in front of us. We had decided to both stay awake to help keep the driver awake. This is very hard to do when you're sleep deprived and not driving. Poor Doug thought he'd get to listen to a book on CD for those 9 hrs, but I need chattering to stay awake so I made him talk to me for at least 6 of those hours. The Time Traveler's Wife is too weird anyway.

We thought there was no way that we'd make it in less than 15 hrs, since on our best trip without kids we did it in 14.5 hrs. Somehow, we made it in exactly 14.5 hrs and then ended up circling the neighborhood until my parents got up. Somehow we also made it along the same route that Google maps uses, but in about 50 fewer miles than Google promised us. It is, therefore, conceivable that The Time Traveler's Wife CDs do something very strange in the Georgia area and warped us closer. We'll have to see how that goes on the return trip.

It has so far been a very fun trip. We've been in the pool 37 times. Elisabeth is quite the little swimmer now - so long as she has at least 4 flotation devices strapped to her at all times and her face comes nowhere near the water. But she is so comfortable in the water, which is a good step in the right direction.

We went to the Florida Aquarium yesterday, which was really great for kids. We watched the penguine prominade, which is where they wheel some penguins in a wheelbarrow out for all the kids to see. Two penguin trainers (great job, by the way) let the kids ask questions. One kid asked why penguins don't fly. The trainer asked for answers and Elisabeth raised her hand and said "Penguins weren't born to fly, they were born to dive." Take that kid with the interesting question!!

Charlotte identified every turtle in the place. While we were standing there looking at one turtle, a grandmother came up and said "Oh look at this one!! She's so cute!" Doug looked over at her and she was talking about Charlotte. The lady said, "oh, I don't come to these places to see the fish! I come to see the babies!" We held onto Charlotte a little tighter...

They also have a little waterpark at the aquarium. True to their personalities, Charlotte came out of the park soaking wet after going on slides and climbing on things with water squirting on them. Elisabeth came out entirely dry after avoiding getting sprayed with any water. Then, for good measure, we let them both get into the huge sandbox because what fun is getting into the car both dry and un-sandy?

Tomorrow we're heading to the beach for breakfast. Then on Monday we'll do the whole trip home - although this time we're aiming to arrive home at 2:30ish so that I can we can both get some sleep before we head off to work/ballet lessons.

CSA - Week 2

Week 2 of the CSA was a total blur as we prepared for our big journey - the subject of a soon to be written post. But in week 2 of the CSA we got more garlic scapes, a handful of sugar snap peas, some sort of cabbage, red leaf lettuce, regular lettuce, dill, an onion, collard greens and beets. I tried very hard to use the garlic scapes. I made garlic scape pesto and tossed it over some noodles. It turns out, I really dislike garlic scape pesto. It is way too strong for me. I'm going to try and repurpose the noodles into a soup, which ought to dilute the garlic scape pesto enough for me to eat.

The sugar snap peas were easily the biggest hit of the bunch. Elisabeth and Charlotte love them! They like picking out the peas inside and making Doug eat the pod - I think they like the latter part better than the former, but whatever gets greens down the kids I'm in favor of.

I really loved the red leaf lettuce, it made such a good lunch salad - I'm considering getting more from a farmers' market just to have lunch salads! I made a decent cole slaw out of the cabbage, although Doug would have preferred a sweeter cole slaw. Perhaps next time - as I'm sure we'll get more cabbage in the fall. I made the ill fated cucumber-dill dip with the dill. I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't used the onion yet, but I am pretty sure it will be ok to use when we get hoe. As for the beet? I'm at a total loss. I'm pretty sure a beet has never crossed my lips, but the point of this whole experiment was to widen my veggie horizons, so I will eat that beet. Melissa said to roast it, so I suppose that's what I'll try.

The collard greens came to Florida with us because my mother was so very excited about the prospect of fresh collard greens. Probably because our children have more energy than most power plants, the collard greens remain in the fridge uncooked. Fine with me, I know that collard greens aren't really my cup of tea. Although, my mom cooks 'em up Southern style (you know the recipe... it starts with "get out your tub of bacon grease") - so they're probably pretty good.

We took a pass on Week 3 of the CSA since we are out of town. Poor Melissa has double the veggies to deal with...

Going to the grocery store is more fun now because I can actually identify and say that I've eaten more of the leafy greens. I can't say I love leafy greens, though, and I'm ready for the more veggie looking veggies.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tsatsiki Sauce - A Recipe

I set out to make Tsatsiki sauce this morning, because we got some dill in our CSA bag this week. I love Tsatsiki sauce. Here is my recipe. You'll note that it is not quite as easy as the one that I took it from on


  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 English hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, grated
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 6 pita breads, cut horizontally in half, then cut into wedges
  • Olive oil


Line sieve with cheesecloth (I used a coffee filter) and place over medium bowl. Place yogurt in sieve. Cover with plastic wrap (didn't cover with plastic wrap, figured that fridge smells would only enhance final dish) and allow to drain in refrigerator overnight.

Mix cucumber and 1 tablespoon salt in small bowl; cover and chill 3 hours.

(Yeah, so I tried to do this at 6:30 this morning when I woke up with Ginny and did not see this "chill 3 hrs, mix with the salt first" business. This will be important later. File it away. Also, one hothouse cucumber, "unpeeled." What the hell does that mean? Unpeeled? Peel on? Peel off? If it said "peeled" - I'd know exactly what to do. So what does "unpeeled" in this context mean? I decided it meant peeled, since I don't remember ever having tsatsiki sauce with peels on the cucumber. This was way more work than my brain wanted to do at this hour. In the course of peeling the cucumber, I removed two of Charlotte's socks from Ginny's mouth. In the course of grating the cucumber, I had to go get Charlotte up, bring her downstairs, change her diaper, wash hands, go back to grating cucumber, remove Cinderella Barbie from Ginny's mouth - too late, she now has a permanentely disfigured hand, good time to teach our children about not commenting on other people's physical challenges, wash hands, go back to grating cucumber, remove Charlotte's hand from Ginny's mouth - I don't want to teach Elisabeth about not commenting on Charlotte's physical challenges, wash hands, go back to grating cucumber, got Elisabeth up, sent both little people into watch tv, oh dear, the TV is on the wrong input and Elisabeth can't find the TV remote, double 'oh dear' (not actual words used) Ginny has escaped and is eating Maggie's food, haul Ginny back and throw her outside, wash hands, resume grating cucumber, hear Charlotte at the gate hollering "IN IN IN IN IN" and realize she is throwing IN the diaper that I just put on her which means she is not wearing a diaper, go investigate, put Charlotte on toilet and let her do her business, re-diaper and give speech about leaving diaper on, wash hands and miraculously finish grating cucumber. Total time elapsed since beginning cucumber ordeal: 30 minutes.)

Transfer drained yogurt to another bowl. Mix in sour cream, lemon juice, dill and garlic. Squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible from cucumber. Stir cucumber into yogurt. Season with pepper. Cover; chill at least 2 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

(While chopping the dill, I had the lovely opportunity to assist Charlotte in putting her pants on, at her request. Said request was summarily revoked for no apparent reason once the pants were on, so off they came. And then she asked for "help", which I went over to give and fabulous meltdown ensued. One meltdown was insufficient so then she re-enacted the whole scene multiple times by saying (totally to herself) "Help. Help pants. Mama help pants. NOOOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOO HELP PANTS, NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!" and melting down into tears. Great, the self perpetuating tantrum. Total time elapsed helping Charlotte put on pants while chopping dill and stirring in ingredients? 20 mins)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place pita wedges on baking sheets. Brush with olive oil. Bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Store pita airtight at room temperature.)

(Children were outside for this part. All major catastrophes averted.)

Serve cucumber dip with baked pita wedges.

End result? Well, the "put salt on the cucumber and let it sit for an hour" part is actually critical - the salt would probably largely remain in the cucumber juice which you strain off, and notably not remain in the yogurt sauce. The tsatsiki is really salty. Way too salty. I realized it as I was adding all of that salt, and only added half of what they called for. So that is very disappointing.

I also realized that I need to take whatever the recipe says for prep time and approximately quadruple it if I have two awake children and one awake puppy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Email that I got at work today...

Here is an email chain between Miss Elisabeth and me. I was able to understand almost everything. I'll post the translation tomorrow if no one comes up with it... I really love getting emails from Elisabeth at work. This is 100% her doing, no help from grownups.

From: Elisabeth at 9:29am


From: Me at 9:37am

You and Constance have the same shirts?? That is very exciting!
Are you ok from getting poked?

From: Elisabeth at 10:37am


(editorial: one of our cats is named Silly)


From: Me, at 10:42am

She smacked me yesterday after I said goodnight to you


Obviously, we need to work on appropriate spacing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

CSA - Week 1

This past Wednesday we got our very first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) bag. We're splitting a regular share with some friends, so really we're getting a "mini" share. This is probably all we can tolerate as we're not really veggie lovers. But, after reading Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - I realized that we really ought to be eating more plants. And I definitely buy into the whole "buy organic and buy small farms, as local as you can" movement. I'm reading Food Matters by Mark Bittman right now, and the statistics on big farming's effects on the environment are fascinating. So, for me, buying extraordinarily fresh, i.e. picked that morning, veggies from the farm 2 miles away is a very exciting idea.

But how will I survive in practice? Getting a bag of vegetables every week - stuff that is not broccoli, carrots, cauliflower or greenbeans (the extent of our vegetable repertoire)?? Well, luckily - or unluckily - for you, you get to watch and see.

This past week, we got: lettuce (score, something Doug will eat!), baby bok choi, escarole, swiss chard, garlic scapes, strawberries, some mustard greens, some other kind of leafy lettuce-ish green, basil and oregano. This one bag contained more leafy greens for one week than I buy in a year - and no, I'm not kidding. The first few weeks of a CSA are all leafy greens and I've never been a leafy green girl.

So what did I do with it? The baby bok choi went into a stir fry - chicken, loads of ginger, green beans and bok choi in a nice sauce. It was really good, definitely a keeper. The mustard greens went to Melissa in their entirety because no one here enjoys them. The escarole and swiss chard got steamed and then sauteed with chopped up garlic scapes, garlic, butter and salt. They cook down to a tiny amount and I'm in the process of suffering through eating them. It turns out I really do not like a big bowl of sopping wet, mushy greens. I'm putting them on Triscuits. The smug feeling of goodness that I'm getting from eating healthy for me and healthy for the environment food is pulling me through, although let's just say greens season needs to hurry itself along. I have big plans for this week's greens that don't involve mushiness.

The oregano went into the trash. I'm sad to admit it but I washed that stuff a lot, and it still had dirt and bugs on it. Plus, I am not really a huge fan of fresh oregano. I gave Melissa all of the basil, since I have not one, but two varieties of basil growing on my deck. I still have a couple of garlic scapes. I have no idea what I'll do with them. The strawberries are getting put into Doug's oatmeal in the morning. The non-"plain old lettuce" lettuce-looking thing went into salads for me for lunch.

So what is the score card? Well, I'm proud that I made it through the first bag with relative success. I'm still looking forward to getting another bag, which is critical since I have like 5 months of this in front of me! I give myself a B+. Lack of creativity precluded me from the A. Here's the individual breakdown:

Erica: ate more leafy greens than average. Feels sense of accomplishment for using almost everything in CSA bag. Feels like part of a community for joining CSA.

Doug: got strawberries in his oatmeal. Ate additional leafy greens in the form of lettuce on his sandwich (has to be a net positive, right?). Feels sense of relief that I didn't make him eat swiss chard.

Elisabeth and Charlotte: completely unaware that anything has changed. Had their bowl of frozen peas at dinner.

(did I mention that recently I told Elisabeth that I was going to grow broccoli in the garden and she said "mommy, broccoli comes from the freezer, not the garden..."?)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Our Benevolent Princess

Charlotte got ahold of the Cinderella wand this morning. The very fancy wand, with songs and flashing lights. The one that Elisabeth carried around like a true princess, waving it just like the Fairy Godmother. As an aside, why do they give out wands with the Cinderella dresses? Cinderella did not carry a wand - the fairy godmother did. Stupid Disney thinking they can pull the wool over my eyes... shut up - stop laughing, the wand is NOT proof that they have done that. It was a gift I tell you!!!

Anyway, Charlotte thought the wand was terribly nifty. Hey look, mom, it flashes!! Oooooh, listen to the pretty song. Oh, Mommy, it is such a great toy! Look how it...... bashes people in the head. My darling little princess needs to learn to use her wand for good, and not evil.

In other news, I bought Elisabeth Madagascar 2 yesterday mostly so that we, her parents, can get a bit of variety in our quiet time programming. As of yesterday, she watched Madagascar 10 times in 14 days. The off days were days when quiet time was too short for a movie or skipped all together. She likes to move it, move it - that's for sure. Interestingly, my goal oriented little girl had set this 10 times in a row goal for herself the day after she watched Madagascar for the first time. So, flighty as she may be when it comes to her parents telling her to get dressed, put shoes, on, etc - she can stick to any plan that she comes up with herself... I have no idea where she got that.

Finally, I will leave you with two of the funniest things I've heard come out of attorney's mouths lately. First, in court the other day an attorney said, in a very dramatic and impassioned tone of voice, "Your Honor, there is not one chinchilla of evidence against my client." (this caused me to dive behind my computer pretending to look at files so as to avoid laughing out loud.)

Second, I had done something unexpected for an attorney - like return her call, or something similarly mundane - and she said to me, "sweetheart, I want you to call your mother right now and tell her that a completly disinterested party wants her to know that she raised a very good little girl." Golly gee willikers, did I go to law school for that?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Price check?

Charlotte's standing invitation to join the girls at Costco has officially been revoked. I turned into my own mother, and I'm sure her mother and all mothers of prior generations on Sunday as we perused the cleaning supply aisle at our Costco. Charlotte kept touching Elisabeth. Love pats turned into smacks (or "macks" as Charlotte says), and "macks" turned into kicks and pushes, which then turned into howls by the older one. At first, it was funny. "Stop touching your sister! No REALLY, don't even look at her! I don't care that you're kissing her because kisses turn into smacks and smacks turn into Elisabeth complaining! so STOP touching your sister!"

People actually snickered as they walked by. As I said, it was funny at first. But, I ask you, what exactly do you do when you have two kids, the little one literally beating on the older one, and a cart full of prizes that you've accumulated over the past hour but not yet paid for? I had a conundrum. Put her on the shelf with a price tag and walk away? You can't exactly snatch the little one baldheaded in public. Hollering at her has no effect, she laughs and says "mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmack!!!!!!! mmmmmmmmmack!!!!!!!" So I took Elisabeth out of the side by side cart and made her walk next to me (which, in Costco, is actually dangerous). Charlotte, left with no one remotely her own size to beat up upon, started inflicting her physical abuse on me. Now we've ventured from funny to decidedly not funny.

I looked her in the eyes and said "stop." Then I grabbed her leg while looking into her eyes and growled "sttttttttop it NOW." I told her she didn't get to come back if she kept it up. She, of course, kept it up. Finally we got out of the store, Charlotte as happy as a lark, Elisabeth a little haggard and me, well, totally running on empty (so I got a Coke refill and a churro for the enormous price of $1.25).

As we got out of the store, I asked Charlotte if she had been a good girl in Costco. Her answer? "Nooooo." Oh, really? Why not, my dear Charlotte? "Mack mama. Mack Lizzy. Kick. Kick mama, kick Lizzy." Oh yeah? Is that what you did? Are you ever coming back to Costco with Elisabeth and mommy? "noooooooo." Damn right, kid. Not until you're 7.

I don't know what to do with that kid. She cracks me up, even her tantrums are endearing. But her little show in Costco was over the line. I know the mommy message boards have all sorts of mommy wars over the leashes that people put on their kids (proud leash owner here, its an adorable little fuzzy dog backpack, not like a leather studded neck collar!) - but can you imagine the wars over the 2 yr old straight jacket I'm developing?

I guarantee you it will be a top seller on Amazon.