Thursday, April 29, 2010

Birthday Parties

I am having major mother guilt.  Sophia's birthday is Tuesday, May 4th, (yes, International Star Wars Day-May the Fourth be with you!) and I did not plan a party for her.

I have friends that start planning parties months in advance for all of their children, each with its own theme.  When my kiddos were in school, I would pick the closest Saturday, send out the invites, and plan out the theme.  Now that we homeschool, they have more friends, and of varying ages.  Sophia's close friends vary in age from 5-16, and about half are boys.  I have also noticed that she isn't as focused on the party idea.  She wants to have some friends over for a sleep over some time, but she isn't making it a super big deal.

So why is it, that as her mom, I am the one feeling guilty that we are not doing a more commercialized, no, not commercialized, I don't know, making a bigger deal out of it?  Why can't I just celebrate that my kiddo is so grounded and just wants to be with her friends, she's not all about getting presents, buying favors and the like?

On her birthday, we might head to Chilton to go caving, or to the zoo, or the museum, she has yet to decide.  She gets to pick what she wants for dinner, and she wants Pasta Roni "Shells and White Cheddar".  I don't think she has yet to comprehend my new culinary abilities :)  We are making a cake for dessert.  We might grab ice cream with friends sometime that day too...

So again, why do I feel guilty?  We are going to do a sleepover in the summer, but the focus will really be on friends getting together and having fun...Why can't I just let go and let her have what she wants?  I feel like I am depriving!! What do you do when your kid has a better head on her shoulders than you do??

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Information booth

This morning, Tony put Sophia on a bus to Chicago.  She is visiting the Museum of Science and Industry with her Girl Scout troop.  I usually chaperone these things, but because I am chaperoning a Girls' Night Out lock in tonight, I couldn't go. 

I am pretty laid back about her going to stuff without me, but Chicago, on "Girl Scout Day", with 1500 other girls in green sashes, I got a little nervous about her getting lost.  Sophia is the type of kid that reads all of the placards in a museum.  She is NOT a hurrying type of person, which is wonderful about 85% of the time.  Great when she can spend hours in an art museum with her Grandma, not so great when I ask her to go get dressed, and I find her a half an hour later, in her pj's, on her bed, making shadow puppets out of her toes.

I just had these visions of Sophia disappearing into a sea of green, and her troop completely losing her, and she wouldn't even notice.  I asked her to please pay attention to where her chaperones are at all times, kind of a futile request, and she said that I was being "overprotective".

I remember saying the same thing back to my parents. 

I also remember going to the mall with my dad, and as a new reader, I stopped in front of a store called "Id".  Now I knew that wasn't a word, and I remember very distinctly looking for the big red letter that must have fallen on the floor.  After what was probably a minute or two of searching, I looked around for my dad, but he was gone.  He told me later that he had just gone into the store right next door, but instead of looking around for him, I went right down to the information booth, "in the center of the mall", (remember how they used to say that on the paging system?)

I remembered my dad telling me if we ever got split up, to go there.  I took the long walk there all by myself, down the escalators, everything.  The ladies' voice boomed over all of Northridge: "Bob Reitman, please report to the information booth.  Bob Reitman, please report to the information booth, in the center of the mall."

I hope Sophia doesn't find any words that she thinks are misspelled's a long drive to Chicago's information booth.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Spaces In Between

Last week was an absolute whirlwind.  Sunday night at Crazy Water, Tuesday at Bartolotta's and the Pfister, Friday at MATC, oh, and working 3 extra days in there as well...

I love the crazy if there is a respite afterwards, just like I love the calm if there is some crazy on the horizon. 

To be able to be in balance is essential for me.  I know everyone says that, but for me, it's true.  I have friends that thrive on crazy, the fuller the calendar, the better.   Not me.

I feel so lucky that our family gets to change it up.  I am thankful that I love my children's company so much that when I am not with them, I really miss them.   I also believe in, "How can I miss you if you don't go away?"

It's in those spaces between the spaces, that time left to one's thoughts, that we get to discover who we are.  I want to give my kiddos that space.  I want to have that space.

I don't want my children to ever know the phrase "I'm bored.", because if you are living and breathing, there is always something to discover.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Now we're cookin'!

Today I got my first cooking lesson for "winning" the Lousy Cook contest through the Journal-Sentinel.  Let's just say it was FREAKING AMAZING!!!

We went to Crazy Water in Walker's Point, and our teacher was chef Peggy Magister.  I learned so much, I think I am still processing (get it, food processing??)  Below is a photo of Peggy at home.  She is a wonderful person and an absolutely amazing chef.  I feel so lucky to have met her.

Peggy taught us how to make Caesar salad dressing, balsamic vinaigrette, oven roasted potatoes, gourmet grilled cheese, wild mushroom soup (to die for!!), and tons of different kinds of veggies.  We just had so much fun!  The biggest thing I learned is how to be fearless.  She threw in pinches of this, tasted, a pinch more of that, tasted, she just cooked with pure joy. 
She taught us everything from how to hold a knife to how to blanche veggies.  I had no idea that veggies are so easy!  No more canned veggies for us!  She really took her time with both George, the other 'lousy cook', and me.  I learned a ton.

I was so inspired, that the kids and I cooked dinner for Tony tonight.  We went grocery shopping, bought ingredients that previously did not have a home in our kitchen such as Worcheshire sauce (that was fun to hear the kids say) and Rosemary.  I have grown herbs in a pot before, but never knew what to do with them!

The kids and I donned our aprons- Nancy Stohs from the Journal Sentinel gave me a really cool apron with "Food" on it, looking like the headline from the Food section.  
We made Caesar salad with our own homemade dressing, asparagus, and Tilapia with Rosemary.  The kids rocked!  They sliced, cut, blended, whisked like pros!
 Here they are preparing the lettuce for our Caesar salad.
 Dominic sampling the asparagus.  It was sooooo good!  I love to see the kiddos loving veggies!

Sophia loved the asparagus too, can you tell??

The chefs ready to eat!  As you can tell from the time stamp, we started cooking a little late, but hey, we cooked, and we had fun. 

Sorry doggies, but this food is too good for you!  They miss the burned grilled cheese...

On Tuesday I get to go to Bartolotta's in Tosa and the Pfister.  Chef Juan Urbieta is teaching us how to make Lasagna, and we are making some kind of chocolate cake at the Pfister.  Yummmmm....

Life tastes good!!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Yup, that's me

Well, today was pretty funny.  My dad called at 8 AM to say not only were we in the paper, but my "huh?" expression was a part of the headline.  Shortly after, I got calls from my Grandma, a lady from church offering me cooking lessons, our insurance agent offering his condolences to my husband, friends, neighbors, countrymen, you name it.

 Look at these faces though, cereal is good for the body, right?  Did you notice Jerry the Weimaraner is more than happy to take that grilled cheese off our  hands...someone posted a comment on jsonline that I must have ADD that I can't make a grilled cheese right.  I never knew fame could be so cruel.  I will get even with them in a tell all someday...


Some of you might see books that you got me in this pic.  I really hope that I will be using them  soon.  The pressure cooker is on now; people are asking when I am going to make them dinner, post-lessons.  Let's just say Rome wasn't built in a day people...this is going to take time.  

Sunday is the first lesson.  The chef at "Crazy Water" is going to be teaching us.  I cannot wait!!!!  I will keep y'all posted.
Sweet dreams!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A life worth living...


I get to work with people at very interesting points in their lives.  Like the woman who is getting her GED so she can leave her abusive husband, or the man who built homes, and his family, for the last 40 years, but now finds himself out of work.  Many of the people I work with we might just pass by on the street without even a glance. 

I have students from all over, many of whom find themselves in a new place with a different language.  Quite often, these are the people that we just walk by, not out of cruelty, but because we don't recognize the humanity in each other. 

I saw a man on tv the other day, a college educated man from Russia, who said that he used to look down on people who did menial labor.  Now, in the US, he drives a truck for a convenience store.  He shook his head at how his former self would have viewed his current job.  He appreciates his job now very much, and says that he regrets ever judging others.

The kids and I are studying Philosophy and self-deception.  One argument is that the human mind cannot truly examine its existence without becoming thoroughly depressed, the other, obviously,"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

It fascinates me to hear the kids' take on this.  Why wouldn't one examine one's life?  They are fearless.  Why wouldn't they be?  It just takes some adults to teach kids fear and ignorance.
My children constantly recognize the humanity in others.  We, as adults, mess that up too.   Do we, as a culture, with our nose in our phones or ipads, remember others besides ourselves?  Do we remember to see each other?  Not even in an "Avatar" way, but just a look?  An acknowledgement of existence?  We are all given a brand new chance every morning to be reborn.  What an amazing gift that is.  I choose to examine that, with my fearless kiddos by my side.