Monday, September 29, 2008

100 = $1

So, during The Boy's first couple weeks of school he apparently is the only one in his kindergarten class who can count to 100 by 1's and 5's and count to 20 by 2's. So he won the teacher's bet and got a dollar. He's very proud. As he should be. And so should Big Sis, who's a great teacher ...

Just as cute is the Best Buddy, who told his mom the tale, and was earnestly happy for his best friend. Instead of being jealous that his best friend got a $1 and he didn't, he told his mom (who queried how that made him feel) that he was actually quite happy for The Boy -- because he's his best friend.

Very sweet.

If only life continued to be so simple.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Barefoot (and not pregnant) in the kitchen, part 1: Homemade spaghetti sauce

I had a bonus day at home today since Diva Daughter was not feeling well and needed to stay home from school. So I watered the garden (it was pretty dry since I was gone the week it actually got hot), straightened up a bit, and then decided to partake in some kitchen chemistry.

Since I'd been gone for a week, several of my tomatoes had ripened, and I was on the verge of being overtaken by ripe tomatoes. I've been giving them away like crazy, but between the vines and my weekly box from Terra Organics, my cup had runneth over. But before he left in the morning, the hubby made a good suggestion: We can always make tomato sauce.

Why yes, yes we can. And yes I did. I'd never made tomato sauce from scratch. I've made my own spaghetti sauce, but from canned tomatoes. Never actually started with tomatoes. But today I did, and it was yummy scrumptious. Even the Boy enjoyed it. Here's the approximate recipe:

TC's Homemade Spaghetti Sauce -- with BACON
Approx. 3 quarts of diced tomatoes, several varieties Several leaves of fresh basil, chopped A couple branches of fresh rosemary A couple branches of fresh oregano Red wine, approx. 1/2 cup Several cloves of garlic, chopped 1 onion, chopped A couple pinches of kosher salt 1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped

I know, I know ... real exact. But, basically, put all the tomatoes in a large pan on the stove and cook over medium heat at a low boil for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. As it simmers, add in the above ingredients as they're ready. It ends up to be a lovely and chunky and very, very fresh (esp. if you have the herbs in your garden) tomato sauce. Serve over your favorite noodles. Smile a lot more.*

*To some, cooking is an art or a means to feed. To me, cooking is one of the best kinds of therapy.

Chickens, geckos and sharks ... oh my!

One of my favorite things about traveling is checking out the different wildlife. Heck, even traveling between Western Washington and Eastern Washington you'll find some big differences.

The first Kauai wildlife we spotted were some little redheaded birds that are called Brazilian cardinals. They were everywhere on the island.

Then there were the geckos, which are apparently nocturnal. When we'd turn the lights on outside, we'd see them crawling around the deck. Little brother's reaction: They're so cu-ute.

Kauai is known for its infestation of chickens. They were EVERYWHERE. In the mornings I'd stand outside and watch the sun rise while listening to the chickens. Then there are the moments they go all Jurassic Park on you ... but that's a tale for a later post.

This cutie-pie toad was hopping around the front yard of the house we were staying in. My brother kissed it -- and two days later he married a princess! Must've worked. (Kidding.)

The following isn't my picture, but we did see turtles floating in the surf behind my brother and his now-wife as they were married. Can't wait to return and spend more time and actually see some turtles on the beach!

I didn't see it, but some of the others were on a walk along the beach to the fishing dock in Waimea and encountered a fisherman with a hammerhead shark he'd caught, now dead and laying on the dock. Apparently the ocean that we enjoyed watching the sun set over each night is teeming with hammerhead sharks. So if the rough surf on the west side didn't keep us out of the water (heard a tale from a woman about how years ago she was standing in the surf with her 3-year-old and a wave ripped him out of her hands, and luckily the next wave returned him) -- well, even if the waves were safer, and the shore not so steep ... the hammerhead sharks would definitely keep me to the beach.

I also didn't see any wild boars. But as we drove up the Waimea Canyon, we did see many locals wandering about dressed in camouflage and carrying their bows. We tried to ponder what they could be hunting, and I completely forgot about the wild boars ... until someone brought it up later. I had wondered why they were that dressed up if they were hunting birds ...

For better or for worse ...

Betcha think this is a post about marriage. Nope. This is a post about surprise upgrades ... for better or for worse.

The first upgrade of our trip was getting transported to the airport via town car rather than a shuttle van. Very awesome. Especially when I didn't realize the Airborne tablet I popped into my mouth wasn't meant to be chewable. (Think Alkaseltzer-like fizzing in your mouth -- and no place to spit it.) The town car had water bottles and snacks! Thank heavens ... because for a bit there I thought the fizzing would never end ... Of course, on the way home we did get the van. The fullest shuttle van I've ever been in. Every seat, even the front seat, had a person in it. And we were the last stop.

But the best, and in the end the most painful, of my for better or for worse upgrades, would be our vehicle for the week. I'd pondered splurging on a convertible or a Jeep, but my neighbor (he's from Hawaii) just laughed at me and let me know that I'd want a top on my car. I'd want my AC working strong, and fast. And so we decided to spend our dollars in other ways, and reserved a compact car. But upon arrival, lordy, lordy: they were out of compacts. (At least they weren't out of cars, like apparently some other rental companies were having to deal with.) So the apologetic woman behind the desk pointed to the car lot and asked us if the white Jeep Wrangler to the left would be OK. Same price as the compact, and she'd toss in a $25 gas credit since it wasn't as fuel efficient. Hmmm ... sure. And while the first day or two it rained too much to take the top off, we decided during our trip up and down the Wimea Canyon that it might be nice for my cousin to be able to get a better view, so we wrassled the top down. And all was well ...

... until we ended up, after making it down the canyon, driving a little too far during the hot part of the day. An extra few minutes turned into an hour or so in the baking sun. And my attempt to get a little color on my arms ... well, let's just say my arms ended up quite neopolitan. I had my chocolate, my strawberry and my remaining vanilla. There is a photo of this, but I don't plan on sharing. But if you don't get the concept, here's a reference point:

Ouch. The strawberry still hurts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Simple pleasures

Got to drop the kids off at school today.

Doesn't sound like much, I know. And back in the day when I had to do it every day, it was a chore. But now that I have to be at work before they have to be at school, it's the rare, rare day when I get to say "Come on kids, time to go! Time to go to school!" And it's a moment I now cherish and appreciate when I get the chance.

I miss the happy farewells, and even the clingy ones. I miss arriving to pick them up and scanning the playfield to see what they're up to when mommy and daddy aren't watching. I miss the hugs, and even the "I'm hungry" declarations. But today I get to relive the adventure. And tomorrow I'll miss it -- but I'll seek solace in the fact that I could be missing so much more, and really I am lucky.

But today ... today I high-fived the Baby Girl off to preschool and helped her put on her slippers and put away her coat, met her adoring teacher, and then headed off to deliver the eldest two in plenty of time before the bell. We waved at the crossing guard and I got big hugs (ouch! darn sunburn) and watched them each run off to their separate playgrounds. Got to spy on who they were chit-chatting with. I look forward to picking them up and getting hugs (and even looking forward to the ouches), helping them with their homework and then doing some evening family time baking. And I look forward to my next opportunity. But in the meantime ...

It's good to be home.

Overdue: Showcase Tacoma chalkwork

Once upon a time, there was this thing called Showcase Tacoma where newcomers and chalking fanatics alike got together amid the fun to lay down some color on the gray streetscape. Let me start out with the hands down best piece in the place ...

by unknown fabulous chalker

I don't know who he was, but this guy knew what he was doing. He had gloves and sponges for spreading. He laid down that color thick, and he had The Boy entranced. We could have stood there for hours watching. Even in the rain. Yes, sadly, the day the Frost Park Chalkers & Friends came over to the Tollefson Plaza to participate in Showcase Tacoma -- it rained. Not the best for chalking, but some impressive pieces came out nonetheless. Though not all my pictures turned out -- sigh. But here's a few!

by The Boy (who delighted in showing off his piece to the above fabulous chalker -- especially since they both use similar strategies of randomness and deep color)

By Adam The Alien (duh)

Diva Daughter in action (note she bravely uses her hands to make special chalk-effects)

Diva Daughter's final solo piece

Mostly this is the boy's picture again, but it caught pieces of some of the other fun that my camera did not apparently capture -- including the Mt. Fuji on the left, and KF's amoeba toward the top.

By Joel413 (guess where he works)

And in honor of the rain, Team Chickadee decided to have fun and sketch out this ray of sunshine ...

For more chalking fun, check out Frost Park Friday action from 12-1 every Friday. Click here for this week's details!

The whole reason we were in Hawaii ...

... was to celebrate the marriage of my brother to the love of his life.

So while I plan to share other photos and tales both funny and fun (thank Zesty for the inspiration), I begin with the main point of this recent too-short adventure: The Happy Couple.

We have many more sappy pictures, but I enjoy the mischief and playfulness in their eyes here.

This is a couple who spent the whole day boogie-boarding before exchanging vows. A couple who exchanged vows on the beaches of Kauai (with giant turtles floating in the surf) in part to force their families to take a fun vacation and get barefoot on the beach. A couple who manages to keep each others' feet on the ground and heads in the clouds. A couple who cherishes family and tradition all while dancing to their own beat. Their own beautiful beat.

To the happy couple: Keep dancing.

Friday, September 05, 2008

A farm is gone, but the future is still to come ...

George Richter's Fife farmland is gone. Another piece of land sold to a developer; and being developed. A crop bulldozed. And rightfully, yet sadly, tragically, so. (Don't know what I'm talking about? Click here.) As a former farm/forest girl ... I mourn the loss of farms. The loss of nature. The loss of open space. The loss of rural. The increase of impervious surface and concrete jungles. But I also have faith in the human race's ability to adapt and learn from its mistakes. I do worry what will happy if the bulldozing trend continues. More people on the globe means less land to be farmed, and yet more need for food. How do we deal with this conundrum? I can tell you what we don't do. We don't throw up our hands in despair that there is no answer, so why try? We don't sit down and take it. We talk about it, debate about it, wring our hands about it, lobby about it, and work, work, work, work, work toward a solution. One thing we for sure don't do: We don't shut up.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A mountain of socks

The Boy was complaining recently about his severe shortage of socks, as his feet have grown a few leaps and bounds (they're bigger than his big sister's), so we decided to order him some socks. He professed a liking to the Gold Toe Auro style we'd gotten at Target early in the year, and so I went onto Target website to order more (I prefer online ordering to battling retail crowds and flourescent lights) ... but they weren't offered online there.

After several attempts, I finally found Gold Toe's rather basic (but still effective) website and perused my options. I found his favorite, the Auro EZ Match that comes with one, two or three stripes across the toe depending on the size (hence, it's easy to match -- and easy to weed out the too small ones ... me like!)

The only problem, I thought, was that they didn't seem to sell them in multiples. That's funny, I thought. At Target they came in multi-packs. And it seemed a bit pricey for one pair, but they were good socks ... so what the heck. I ordered five pairs of white, and five pairs of brown and black dress style socks. Or so I thought. The socks arrived today. Unbeknownst to me, the white socks come in packs of three, the dress socks in packs of two. So we now have 15 pairs of white and 10 pairs of dress socks. I told The Boy he had to share with his sisters when they run low.

Needless to say, The Boy no longer has a shortage of socks. And they are a lot more reasonably priced that I thought. Hooray!