Friday, August 13, 2010

Teach Your Children Well

I take pride in the job I'm doing raising WyoBaby. The tools I'm giving her are invaluable, and it doesn't hurt that she's a quick study. I submit the following for your consideration.

Exhibit A: WyoBaby, like most sweet children, has issues with keeping her room clean and organized. Consequently, she has trouble finding 'important' things at crucial moments. Shocking, I know. Tuesday morning, we were getting ready to head to a bigger town, about two hours away. WyoBaby panics if she thinks she has to travel longer than 15 minutes without her dvd player. Good parenting, right? She was wildly scrambling to locate the car charger for said player, and wasn't just hitting the panic button, she was jumping up and down on the dang thing. She kept coming to me, "MOM! I CAN'T FIND THE CHARGER FOR MY DVD PLAYER!!!! DO YOU KNOW WHERE IT IS???" Here was my chance to teach her that our choices have consequences!

"Well, Baby, if you would keep your room clean, and organize all your various electronic stuff, you'd know exactly where the charger is, wouldn't you? I'm sorry you can't find your charger, but it's not my fault. Maybe you'll make a different choice next time, hmmmmm?"

Stomping off, "(Mumble), find it myself, (mumble)!!"

I am such a good mother.

Unfortunately, she didn't take my words to heart, because she managed to get almost two hours' viewing time out of the dvd player, and when that died, she had her fully charged iPod Nano to pick up the slack. Dang.

Exhibit B: Back to her bedroom, two weeks ago. She was trying to find shoes suitable for cruising the links, as her golf lesson started in 15 minutes. Again, her room looked like the Mole People had taken up residence, burrowing in piles of clothes and toys, tossing things sky-high in the process, devil-may-care where they land. While she put on her shoes, she reveled in the antics of Things 1 & 2, aka Big Kitty and Little Kitty. Her little funny bone was particularly tickled by one of them cavorting around the room, and she remarked, "I love her! She's my favorite!!" While she was busy tying laces, I was making my way through a mountain of clothes, and could feel a stroke coming. There, mixed in with DS games, posters, markers, Littlest Pet Shop accessories and discarded gum and Popsicle wrappers, were clean, still-folded clothes. I would like to publicly apologize to my dear sweet mom for every single time I tossed my clean, still-folded clothes on my bedroom floor, and for every single piece of clean, still-folded clothing she found mixed in with the dirty laundry in the hamper. I am so sorry. If I'd only known how close I came to putting you in your very own rubber room, I would've stopped. Probably. Well, let's face it, all kids pull this move, so I might not've stopped, but I am sorry. Deeply.
So, while WyoBaby was remarking on her undying love for Things 1 & 2, I was fighting the urge to do my best Mount Saint Helens impersonation. Instead, I replied, "You know what I love? I love finding clean, still-folded clothes tossed on your floor, left to get dirty! That's my favorite!"
Without so much as batting an eye, after a beat, she said, "You're being sarcastic, aren't you??"

"Yes I am."


And just like that, she ended the conversation. No 'I'm sorry, Momma', no 'I'll do better next time, Momma'. Just, 'Hmm'. Oh, she's good.

Exhibit C: I'm not entirely sure why, but I was doing a lot of heavy sighing yesterday. I hadn't really noticed, until J & WyoBaby were gathering fishing gear, getting ready to head out to hook The Big One. Apparently, as I was observing, I emitted a big sigh. Immediately, both heads snapped around, and in chorus, I heard, "What's wrong???!!" It's a beautiful thing.

"Nothing, actually. But I do love that I can get an immediate response from both of you, just by heaving a sigh! Oh, I love you two knuckle heads. Have fun fishing!"

While they fished, I headed out to the movie with my girlfriends. On a side note, I loved that movie. Charlie St. Cloud was wonderful. Zac Efron was beyond wonderful. And, I shed a tear or twelve. Go see it, I think you'll like it. But I digress.

After we were all back under one roof, and J had put himself to bed, (because it was after dark, which is way past J's bedtime) WyoBaby and I were watching The Nanny (Guilty pleasure, I'll admit it! Not the best choice out there, but I like to indulge every once in a while.), when I let out yet another sigh. "Mom! What's wrong?" Have I mentioned how deeply gratifying this is to me?

"Nothing, Baby. Sometimes, my sighs are just sighs. But, other times, they mean someone is in big trouble."

"Oh, well let me try." She inhaled sharply, and let out a blast of air.

"Close, Kiddo, but it needs to be more subtle. Like this. Inhale deeply, then slowly exhale, as if the very act of breathing in the same room as the offender is causing you physical pain." She practiced for a bit, taking pointers from me, until she came close to imitating The Sigh. I felt it was my responsibility to caution her, "Now, Baby? This is a very powerful tool. You can't just willy-nilly throw around The Sigh. If you use it too much, it loses its potency. If you don't do it just right, no one will pay attention. Practice all you want now, so when you're a wife and mother, you'll have it down pat."

Mother of the Year. Right here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Simple, Six Ingredient Salad

Oh how I love alliteration; it speaks to my inner English geek.

So, last night, I grilled six, count 'em six, Tilapia fillets for dinner. Those, along with three ears of corn, should've fed my family of three. Shoulda woulda coulda. WyoBaby was too busy playing outside with a dozen neighborhood kids to stop and eat, and J wasn't home from work yet. I helped myself to two fillets and an ear of corn. If my math is correct, and I like to think it is, that left four fillets. WyoBaby LOVES fish, so I figured she'd eat one fillet, (that's actually a lot of food for her, when you add an ear of corn), leaving three for J. Well, J came home and dished up his plate. I was doing something exciting, like laundry, so I paid little attention to his shenanigans. WyoBaby was still running around the yard like a screamin' street urchin. After a bit, I went in to tidy up the kitchen, and fix a plate for her, since it truly was time for her to eat. Imagine my surprise when both of the foil boats I'd used to grill the fish were empty! Insert heavy sigh here.

"J, did you eat ALL of the fish??"


"Slight problem. Our sweet baby girl hasn't eaten her dinner."


"Easy, Tiger. I know I didn't, which is why you're not getting The Eye right now. So just un-bunch your Fruit of the Looms, and pipe down."

"Fine." At this point, I may or may not have stuck out my tongue at him. All in fun, of course. I pride myself of my mature conflict-resolution strategies.

I stepped outside, and managed to yell over the din of a dozen hooligans, "WyoBaby! Come HERE, I need to talk to you!!!!"

"Um, okay..."

"You're not in trouble, I just need to talk to you." I do like the fact that I can still strike fear in her with the phrase, 'I need to talk to you'. It warms my heart.
"So, daddy ate all the fish."


"It's sorta my fault. I didn't tell him you hadn't eaten yet (and he didn't bother to ask before eating all the fish in sight), so he didn't know he needed to leave some for you. But, I do have some pork chops in the fridge I can cook for you."

"Fine. That'll work. Is there at least some CORN left??"

"Yes Baby, there is, so I'll give ya some corn and pork, mmmmkay?" I'm not sure she heard that last bit, as she'd run off to rejoin the others.

Short story long, I threw some chops in the oven to bake, as I'd already shut down the grill for the night. And, WyoBaby was fine. She ate one chop, and three bites of corn, and declared herself, "stuffed to the gills!!".

Fast forward to an hour ago. WyoMomma was hungry, so I went in search of sustenance. I had baked four chops, so there were three left this morning. Bask in the glory of my math skills, won't you? We also had some spinach, so I decided to make myself a salad, and it was sooooo yummy, I'm sharing it with you! It took about 10 minutes to throw together, and most of that time was spent letting the dressing simmer.

Six Ingredient Pork & Spinach Salad

1 can of blackberries (I used Oregon brand)
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 boneless pork loin chop, cooked ('cuz that's what I had on hand)
1/4 C walnut pieces (you could use pecans also)
3 handfuls fresh spinach
Manchego cheese

In small saucepan, combine 1/2 can of the blackberries & their juices with the vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer while preparing the other ingredients. Stir occasionally.
In small skillet, toast walnuts over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Thinly slice chop. Once walnuts are toasted, remove from pan, add pork to pan to heat.
Place spinach in a large plate or bowl, top with walnuts, pork and dressing. Using a vegetable peeler, garnish the salad with some thin slices of Manchego cheese. Toss to coat all with dressing, season with salt & pepper.

Seriously simple, and seriously yummy. The dressing is sweet and savory, the walnuts are buttery, and the Manchego adds a nutty, salty goodness to bring it all together. This served one, so you could certainly double, triple or even quadruple this recipe to serve others, if you're feeling generous. You might want to, because they'll love you for it, and you can tell them you slaved for simply ages! This is my new favorite summer salad. I hope you find it as blissful as I did, both in simplicity and taste. It would also work well with leftover chicken or steak, and of course, you can cook the meat specifically for this, if you don't have leftovers.