Monday, November 22, 2010

Go Mommy GO! Sing Mommy SING!

Yesterday I stretched my wings again and sang FOUR songs at Ryles Jazz Club during their jazz brunch, with Harvey Finstein and the bass player from our little jazz group, plus Harvey's regular trio. Cooper behaved himself quite nicely, despite having to tolerate SITTING and EATING (or not in his case). It didn't hurt that I brought bribes. Oh yes, I bribe my kid to do things I want him to do. I am sorry, I REWARD him for behavior I find useful. Like sitting still and being quiet while I am performing. M&M's are MAGIC.

This video is one and a half minutes of Black Orpheus, a song I did not know prior to Harvey suggesting it and Cooper made a contribution at the beginning.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Big Man Turns 4 or How Legos Ruined My Life

Thursday Cooper turned four. FOUR. Seriously. When did that happen? He had his 4 year old check up this morning. I am happy to report he is 42 lbs strong and 43 inches tall. For those who are keeping track, he started out at 4.4 lbs and 19 inches long. He was long but lean and 2 months early. I would say he has made up the distance.

He and I both had Thursday off as it is also Veteran's Day (thanks to all who have served including the Bob!) and we gave him one present first thing in the morning: A Batman costume. Which he rocked all day. He even wanted to wear it to Target when we went on a shopping spree to spend the money his Memere gave him. We compromised on just the mask. We had cupcakes that evening with our neighbors who couldn't make his party on Saturday as they were heading off to the Happiest Place on Earth, i.e. Disney. They gave him a set of Buzz Lightyear pj's. Awesome.

Saturday we had his party. We invited his class at school, plus a few other friends. We thought we might get half of them to come. All but TWO kids could go. We had 18 kids and accompanying adults at this shindig. I have almost no pictures. We held it at an ice cream place in town, Lizzy's. Everyone declared it a roaring success.

Reasons to invite that many kids to a party: Really awesome gift ideas! I am always puzzled about what to get kids this age, and the presents he received were varied and interesting and in some cases will put me in an early grave.

Case in point:

Lego's. I had said to Bob I felt Cooper wasn't quite ready for them, as they have pretty small parts and he has the attention span of a...well...4 year old. And we have three dogs. Buster the Beagle lived on Lego's during the Lego years of Alex and Nick, Cooper's much older brothers. But someone gave him a set which has the parts to build three construction vehicles. Thank all that is holy it comes with instructions. But I have a suggestion for the Lego people. How about putting the parts for one truck in ONE BAG. Not all the parts for all the trucks in three separate bags based on no discernible pattern. You have to open all three bags, dump out hundreds of little parts, sort through them all for the 20 you need for one truck. Obviously no one was thinking of the parents.

Also acquired: Our first Hot Wheels cars AND one loop di loop Hot Wheels track with motorcycle. The testosterone levels in my house rose exponentially this weekend.

My kid capped off the weekend by watching a Spider Man movie, while wearing his Spidey costume, and playing with his Thomas the Tank Engine stuff.

All in all, it was a good birthday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tasks that are hard to describe over the phone...

Cooper and I may or may not be slightly addicted to popcorn.

An indication your child might love popcorn a little too much: He asks for it for breakfast.

But what is not to love? It is low calorie, at least the way I make it, it has the salty/crunchy factor and is portable. Oh, and costs like 2 cents to make per batch, at least the way I make it. And I am fairly sure it qualifies as a source of fiber, and is considered a vegetable. Or starch. Whatever.

I LOATH microwave popcorn. It is an abomination. Too salty, too, I don't even know what that other texture/flavor is that they all have. It is not exactly greasy, because microwave popcorn is super dry to me. Can something be greasy and dry at the same time? Whatever it is, it is gross. And heaven forbid you burn it. Just throw away the entire microwave at that point.

I make popcorn on the stove. In a pot. Kernals, oil, pot with lid. Salt to taste when done. If I am feeling decadent, I will melt a little butter, or put parmesan cheese on it. If I am feeling fiesty, I will add a little cayene/chili seasoning with a tiny hint of sugar. Seriously, TRY IT if you doubt. But mostly, especially if I am sharing with Cooper, it is just salt.

Last week I was away for two nights at a conference for work. The Bob called, asking me how to make popcorn. This is when I realized that making popcorn is deceptively difficult. You think it is easy, since it is just kernals, oil and a pot on the stove. But there are the ratios. How much corn to how much oil? How hot do you make the burner? How long do you wait, listening to the popping before you pull the pot off the burner and let the corn finish popping without burning?

There is almost nothing worse than burned popcorn. No matter how you make it, when it burns it all smells and tastes the same. BAD. And you can ruin a good pot. Not to mention you have been jonesing for popcorn, and now it all tastes burned.

Here is my recipe for good popcorn:

I am not picky about the corn itself. I usually buy the bulk bag at the store for like 2.99 but one store I frequent only sells Orville Redenbacher kernals, so we get that every so often. I just bought two big bags from a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts from a friend at work, and this stuff is very nice. But stale kernals make for lame popcorn, so keep it fresh!

Use a heavy bottomed pot. I prefer a stainless steel, 3 or 4 gallon pot. Cover the bottom of the pot with a layer of kernals. Pour in roughly 2-3 teaspoons of oil. You might need to experiement with that to get it to your preference. I use corn oil mostly, because olive oil has a lower burn temperature, and will start smoking and burn sooner than corn or canola if you are not careful. But I have used a very mild flavored olive oil as well. Put the lid on the pot, set burner (we have an electric stove) at not quite high. If 10 is high, set it at 8. Let it sit until popping starts. Once popping starts you have to be right there. Once the pot is pretty full, and the popping has slowed down to just a few pops a second, take the pot off the burner, turn burner off, and wait until there are no more pops. The pot stays hot enough to finish the job leaving only a handful of old maids. I pour into a bowl, and season.

This makes a lot of popcorn, obviously you can adjust the amounts to get more or less.

Bob very successfully followed those instructions, and Cooper got his fix. And yes, I DID make some this morning to bring to work, and yes, Cooper did eat some on the ride to school. But he had other stuff for breakfast first. There are worse addictions to have. Just keep plenty of dental floss handy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

And then it was November

Does anyone else feel like it was just July? I can tell it isn't anymore, by looking outside and seeing all the leaves on the ground, and the colors have changed from all greens and pinks and oranges of summer to the steel gray of the clouds with the yellow and copper browns of the leaves up against them with the blue blue sky behind it all. Nevermind that my pool has been closed for over a month now. Cooper did not understand that at all. Where did the pool go? Why is it closed and why can't we swim anymore? The dogs like it when the pool is closed, because they can run across the cover, making the trip to the back corner of the yard where they bark like a murderous pack at the neighbors' dogs much shorter. They don't run as much as bounce like little astronauts on the surface of the moon because it is like a trampoline.

We had a very successful Halloween, although between our office party, Cooper's school celebrations, the Halloween parade we do in the neighborhood, and then finally trick or treating last night, it feels like we have had a week of celebrations. Cooper was Wolverine this year, which he rocked with his usual flair for the dramatic superhero.

Finally, the lovely and talented Karen Waldron of Chookooloonks fame, finally has her book out, The Beauty of Different. I will be getting a copy for sure! You should be checking it out too. Because we are truly different and beautiful because of it.

Happy November!