Thursday, June 29, 2006

Stress at Its Best

- Trying to get eight kids in the van by 7:30am, together with hubby who starts freaking out about everything before we even have started.

- Leaving the house at 8am (only half an hour late!), dropping off six kids (but one was hers, really!) at a friend's house. Actually, this was about the only part of the day that went well, even Sylvia barely spent me a glance when we left.

- Driving to Boston with the happy feeling that this time we did our homework, and were going to part at Alewife T-station and not deal with the whole 'driving in Boston' crap.

- Trying to find any of my Boston maps or road atlasses in the car and realize they all are missing. No problem, we stopped at a gas station and picked up a new one. Their selection consisted of one, marked $25, and turning out to be beyond useless. I didn't know that yet, so spent the first money of the day (this was a very expensive day)

- Starting to get a clue of the uselessness of the map when I tried to figure out which T-station we would park, and how to get to the Dutch Consulate from there.

- Getting even more of a clue of the utter impracticability when our Mapquest directions to the T-station turned out not to be very helpful. How I longed for my gazetteer. Dealing with more hubby stress.

- Finally, after tons of cursing, and moaning, and groaning, and gnashing of teeth, making it to the long-awaited T-station. To find out that.... the parking garage is FULL... Indeed. That sucks.

- Glaring at the map and wanting it to tell us what to do now, or at least where to go. It does neither of those. Glaring at the clock and wanting it to stop moving forward so fast. It doesn't listen. Grumbling at the consulate for only being open from 10am to 1pm on gibbous moon days. Glaring at the boys for yet another 'Are we there yet???' or its equivalent.

- Making it over to downtown Boston, having had absolutely no help from the map. Realizing we are within 700 meters of the consulate, even if I don't see it yet. Kicking out hubby and the boys to find it and start the process (it was getting later and later) while I went to park the car.

- Driving around in circles, and seeing a parking garage at the other side of the street, with five lanes of fast moving Boston traffic in between the garage and me.

- Driving around in circles, and this time managing myself to be at the right side of the street when I pass that garage. Anxiously looking at the clock while going in, mentally calculating that if I run really fast, I might still make it in time to the consulate. Being kicked out because my van being too big...

- Begging her on my knees to tell me where else I could park the car, only to be told 'Get out, you are too big' (Those weren't the exact words, but basically the sentiment she expressed, and the helpfullness she offered)

- Driving around in circles.

- Being worried about getting lost, since I didn't have my GPS anymore, and driving around in more circles. Seeing yet another parking garage at the other side of a way too busy street.

- Driving around in circles, but eventually making it to that garage, and the van fit, AND they parked it for me! I love valet parking (Sander later asked me 'You let them park the van with all the mess in it??????')

- Running and latching on to any person who looked even remotely Bostonian, trying to figure out where the heck I was, and how to get from here to the Consulate.

- Being there 10 minutes before the consulate closed, and dealing with all the bureaucracy. Everything was fine, apart from me not bringing the boys birth certificates. You gotta be kidding me. I was there with two boys, their two passports, their two parents, their two green cards, and they didn't believe they were born, or they wanted to be sure we had not passed off our dogs as kids for the past 14 years??? We used to not need birth certificate if you had a passport already. Gotta love the lawmakers... Not only making us drive to Boston (in the past, we could do all of this by mail), but also making us bring all kinds of superfluous documents.

- Now we had a low-stress period, in which we actually managed to spend a few good hours at the Museum of Science, till we decided to head back home at 4pm.

- Handing over my parking ticket to the attendant, only to be told this was NOT the right garage. Wondering where the heck the right garage moved to.

- Finding the van, doing stressful Boston driving, using the still useless map, and passing the Museum of Science, which we left more than an hour ago! I felt like we weren't making much progress.

- Dealing with Boston rush hour traffic.

- Having our windshieldwipers break on the way back. They just stoppped working.

- Arriving home around 10pm. What a day!

- But it wasn't over yet. We spent three hours looking for the darned birth certificates. I am sure we have had them at some point, but they were not here right now. All the while grumbling about the stupidity of needing them. Passports and green cards seemed plenty enough in my grouchy opinion.

- Giving up and playing a few games of go.

- Getting up at 6:30am, yawning, to get the girls off to a track-and-field meet, and the car to the garage.

- Calling the consulate and trying to figure out what to do, which is still not clear.

So how was your day?

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Mystery of the Hollow Bread

Yesterday, Sylvia wanted to go visit our neighbors. She decided that it would be impossible to go over without bringing some bread for them, and made that very clear to me. I am always happy to share bread, but we were kind of low, so I cut a long loaf into two, to give one half away. Sylvia also wanted a slice of bread for herself.

Exit Sylvia, enter a phone call from my neighbor, complaining about the hollow bread. 'What hollow bread???' 'The bread you gave to Sylvia, was that a practical joke or so? I saw this nice bread, and we turned it around and it was just an empty shell!' She thought it was a practical joke till she saw her front steps, totally covered in tiny pieces of bread ^^. 'The squirrels will have a field day!'

Later that day, I baked some more bread and brought her a non-hollow loaf :)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

She Is Prepared!



Groundhog nuggets are starting to sound better and better.

Thanks to Annelies for finding this pic.

Breakfast

Breakfast. Some kind of chinese dish. Main ingredients are eggs and tomatoes. fan1 qie2 chao3 dan. Not from a book, my friend mosaica told me how to make it. Someone asked about the cookbook for the wontons. I used the recipe from one of my Moosewood books: Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant, I think. It has tons of ethnic vegetarian recipes, it gets a big recommendation from me.

Friday, June 23, 2006

It is War!!!!

Stupid groundhog.

He ate all the newly planted cauliflower plants.

The ones which were replacing the ones she ate before.

Leaving just the stems, eating the juicy leaves.

It is war!

I was a vegetarian and didn't want a gun.

Rethinking both principles.

Time to google 'How to get rid of pesky groundhogs'.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Forty Two


That is how many wontons ( 餛飩 --hún tún ) my friend Mosaica made today. I had this brilliant idea. I saw a recipe for wontons (veggie ones) but just did not feel like actually making them, I just wanted to eat them. Enter mosaica. She loves to do little fussy things like that, so i gave her a call 'I have a proposition for you!' 'Hmmmmm?' 'Well, I got those wonton thingies and stuff for filling. What if you come over and help me make them, in exchange for half of the final result?' 'YES!'

Today was the day. She first picked up a lovely lunch at a local korean restaurant, so we spent some time eating and chatting. Sylvia enjoyed the take-out food too, she obviously hasn't entered the 'I won't anything' phase yet. She happily dipped and nibbled.



We started the work, of course, we got interrupted about every five minutes by yet another crisis. Mosaica did all the cutting and grating, while I dealt with the crises.



Sylvia totally fell apart when she spilled a few drops of water and spent a lot of time being very loud about it. The girls were busy doing some things in the van, and eventually she joined them. When she saw her car seat, she wanted to be strapped in, and was asleep within five minutes... Amazing!



Erik was in and out with story after story. He seems to have picked up Kate's habit of talking constantly.



Finally, I got the filling made, it smelled soooooooooo good!



I still had some dough leftover from yesterday's steamed buns (馒头 -- mán tou). We decided to make another batch of them out of this leftover dough.



Mosaica made 98 % of those wontons:



While she was doing all that, I steamed the buns



Time to throw together something fast to go with all this:



And we all enjoyed a lovely supper, with a cheerful and sunny disposition. It was our pleasure to make those wontons, with the satisfaction and knowledge of a job well done. (42 bonus points to whoever gets this quote)



好吃吗? 好吃

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Food Porn

Dedicated to my friend mosaica, who has been talking about steamed buns continuously for the last five days...



Accompanied by good jasmine tea. Life is good!

You Gotta Be Kidding Me...

Before I even could plant them...



... the groundhog got to my cauliflower and broccoli. The fiend!

The groundhog and I have a longstanding war, exchanging insults all the time. Here is a post I posted to a mailing list a few years ago, to give you some background:

Groundhog Stew

I am going to give up my vegetarian lifestyle. Any good recipes for groundhog? Do you think the kids would notice if I substituted groundhog in "chicken" nuggets?

This groundhog has been a challenge in my garden for the last few years. I used to plant stuff in the backyard, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, and be so happy when they started growing. And then the groundhog happened to them. He didn't like peppers or tomatoes, but he LOVED the squashy types of plants. He would wait till the plants were a few inches high, and then come and eat all the leaves, leaving the little stems behind. I would walk into my garden area and he would run away with a guilty grin on its face... That was only the start though...

This year we read a wonderful picture book about a sunflower house. The idyllic 'sow sunfower seeds, watch them grow, and have tons of fun in your sunflower house' kind of story. Jane was mesmerized by it and begged me to have our own sunflower house. I was happy to oblige.

We spent a day digging and sowing, she was so enthousiastic and looking forward to seeing her house grow. We did sunflowers, and morning glories, to climb in between them. After a week the seedlings emerged, and from that day on, I went into my backyard every day, muttering 'Please, please, please, PLEASE!!!!!! Let the groundhog not have eaten her sunflower house!!!' It has been eating my cucumbers, my celery, my broccoli, my parsley, and my peas, but I care a lot less about them than Jane does about her sunflower house.

Things seemed to be going well. I even planted a patch of sunflowers not too far away from the house, figuring that he would eat those first, because they were closer together, and easier to eat.

Also, I got coyote pee, and put that in a little bottle in between the sunflowers of the sunflower house. The girls found the bottle, and poured it over their hands before they came in to ask me what it was....
So I had to refill it from my BIG bottle of coyote pee. I am wondering what visitors will think when they see this in my kitchen window, where it somehow ended up being.

Then last week, I did my normal muttering and praying, and got greeted by a sunflower house with a mixture of seedlings, and stems... He had eaten about 1/4 of the sunflowers... I cursed him and transplanted some other sunflowers into the empty spots. I hoped he would not be back. He hadn't been close to the coyote pee, so I even contemplated getting more bottles of it, but life got in the way. He totally ignored his own sunflower patch BTW.

A few days ago, he came back... Ate 3/4 of the house this time!!! Including the sunflowers just 1 inch away from the coyote pee! So much for thinking that that would work... Ignored the other sunflower patch yet again.

Yesterday we did rock painting with our homeschool group. Jane painted a sunflower and a seed on some rocks. When we came home yesterday, she went over to the sunflower house, and put the sunflower rock, and the giant seed in between the sunflowers (or should I say the remaining sunflower stems?...) Then she told me 'Now the groundhog will come and try to eat this sunflower and he will break his teeth!!!'

Tara told me 'That book about the sunflower house was totally wrong!!!' I asked her why it was wrong.
'They left out the groundhog!!!!!!!!!' LOL

Today, I got cheap plastic fencing at Walmart, and will try to put that around the house. It is not heavy, and I am not sure whether it will work against a determined groundhog, but at least it gives me the feeling that I am DOING something! I hope that it will be enough of a trouble, that he will prefer to eat the pea plants from my pea teepee instead. I can hope, right?

I asked two of my favorite, organic farmer friends, what they do about groundhogs. Hoping for a magical cure, like 'plant GroundhogBane close to your garden and they will avoid it'. I was a bit disappointed when the first one said 'Shoot them' and the second one said 'Bomb them'...

I am not in favor of guns and have been vegetarian for a while. But at this point I am ready to make an exception to both of those principles! We'll have groundhogstew for dinner tomorrow night!

Karen


A good friend gave me some new cauliflower, which I planted right away. Just in time for Tim to tell me, excitedly, the next day 'I saw the groundhog with three babies!!!!'

Sigh.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Birthday Girl



Two years ago, I gave birth to this beautiful girl, outside, underneath the maple tree. The two years have flown by, and instead of that tiny baby, she is a very able 2yo now. Very two. Very able. Very convinced she can do anything. Such perfection.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Geisha

Why???

Sylvia has been using 'Why?' a lot, I thought that was supposed to happen later. Not this young. It is cute and she looks really expectantly at us to get the right explanations to her burning questions.

Today, I was putting on her sandals, like three times in a row. She kept taking them off seconds after I put them on. I finally wondered aloud 'Why do you keep taking them off???' and she replied 'Because taking off!' Not sure what it meant, but I figured it means she likes taking them off. It is just so neat to see her experiment with language.

Been mowing the lawn and done some gardening. It's amazing how wet this spring has been, I still don't have all my plants in, the weather has just been awful.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Gone!!!!!!!!

It was nice having my mom and niece visit, but boy is it nice to have the house to ourselves again. Somehow my mom still hasn't accepted that I am a grownup now and that I am not going to get raped or murdered just because I am home half an hour late from my aikido class. Sigh.

Talking about aikido, it's a small class because of college being out for summer. This means more attention, more falls, more opportunities to mess up... I so totally suck at it, I hope that one day I will actually be able to master some of those techniques. Will be a while, from the look of it.

Time to make tea and study some go! The garden is yelling for attention too, we finally have a non-rainy day.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Double Digits

Yet another kid turning 10, I am the mom of three kids ten and over now! She is having a great day, she got the presents she wanted and she is playing a lot of computer games. Yesterday, I told Sylvia it would be Tara's birthday today. Sylvia's reaction was 'Nooooooooooo!'.

Tara's big present was a kimono, I'll have to post pictures soon. She is turning into quite the young lady.

Today we saw a dog, and Sylvia later told us 'Doggy / inu scared me!' Two mile stones, one is that she is using you/me appropriately now. And the second one, she is naming her emotions. We hadn't used those words at all when seeing the dog, she came up with it all by herself. So wonderful to see them grasp language better and better. Oh, and in case you wondered, inu is the japanese word for dog.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hahaha

Cees and Tim are having a friend over for a sleepover and they decided to stay up all night. Don't ask me why, must be a macho thing. They got up early, just to play computer and nintendo, but after a while disappeared. Just went to ask them something, and they are all sprawled on the bed, fast asleep...

Even teenagers are cute when they sleep ^^

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Crunchy Frog Tea

Milton: We use only the finest baby frogs, dew picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope and lovingly frosted with glucose.
Praline: That's as maybe, it's still a frog.
Milton: What else?
Praline: Well don't you even take the bones out?
Milton: If we took the bones out it wouldn't be crunchy would it?

Got this great tea to try, and we just had to call it crunchy frog when we read the description. It is good, I can recommend it :)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Visitors

They are here, my mom and my niece. I decided to not bother too much with cleaning, just get the floors kind of clean and their room ready. They haven't complained yet, and I did get to study go instead of cleaning. Works for me ^^

They brought all kinds of dutch goodies, so that is fun, the kids are happy with them. Going to take them grocery shopping now and then hopefully can sneak out for some more go studying. Hmmm, maybe I should feed them some dinner too, they might appreciate that.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Back from a weekend of go bliss

All by myself, I am still amazed. It was wonderful, i learned a lot, if only not to believe it when people say 'This is going to be an easy hike'. I will go into more details later, but rest assured that this is the very last time I believed that.

Now my mom and my niece will come to visit on Friday. The house still looks like a disaster area and I don't think I will get much changed before Friday. Oh well, I guess she'll have to deal with it, but somehow I still feel a touch of inadequacy, even if I know that is utter nonsense. I might just focus on making their room look nice and they can close their eyes in the other rooms. Whatever I do, it won't be enough anyway, so I can as well spend my energy on studying go and gardening.