The Split Pea Incident

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The other day I had an idea to put some old split peas to use by allowing Samuel to engage in open-ended play at the table. I gave him a bowl, a spoon, some measuring cups, and the split peas. I watched him for awhile, felt pleased with my idea, and walked away. My kid was an open-ended player, what more could a Mom want?

About five minutes later, I heard the sound of split peas being dumped on the table. Samuel called out, "I'm sorrrrryyyyy, Mommy! I accidently spilled some on the table." Since I'd already prepared myself for cleaning up a small mess, I called back that it was okay and we'd clean it up later.

It was then that Samuel decided it was fun to watch the split peas bounce as they hit a hard surface. First, I heard him pour the whole jar of split peas out (this is when I got up and started running), then I heard him simultaneously brush thousands to the floor with his hands.

I arrived in the dining room and told him to stop at once. He looked me in the eye and kept doing it. He was marched right to the couch for time-out, and I took a time-out in the kitchen.

Oh, I had an idea! We'd clean up the mess together. It might even be fun to teach him to use the hand broom and dustpan.

At first, my idea of cleaning up together seemed to work, then one minute later, he was swimming in the peas on the floor, casting them to all ends of our hard wood floors, and to the depths beyond.

I wanted to pull my hair out. I wanted to scream. I thought about taking my mandatory government loan, I mean stimulus money, and purchasing a one-way ticket to Europe.

Samuel was sent to the couch again. He didn't stay.

I got on my hands and knees and swept up every last one of those split peas. Some of them were trapped in a crack between the door frame and the floor. I got those, too.

I looked up at my white dining curtains from my hands-and-knees position on the dining floor and saw the boysenberry-applesauce and Nutella fingerprint stains all over them--an accumulation of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners the past few months during which Samuel gave into curiousity and opened them up during a meal to check on the latest bug to be trapped in our window spiderweb, leftover from last summer's batch of garden spiders.

I went into the kitchen, did the dishes, washed out my French press from my morning coffee, flipped on the garbage disposal, and grinds mixed with dirty water shot up out of the neighboring sink all over my green REI shirt.

Is it really possible that some day, twenty years from now, when Samuel and Juniper are living lives of their own, that I will miss these days?

I went out with my friend Sharla after dinner, just Juniper and I, and we talked for four hours like old times at Pix Patisserie on Division (love that place!). On the way home I listened to Loveline with Striker (used to be Adam Carolla) and Dr. Drew and recalled fondly the days when Landon and I would listen to it on the way home from a late night at Biddy McGraw's. I'd pretend to be innocently appalled and Landon would laugh.

These days, we're laughing at Flight of the Conchords (we love it, Annagrace!), our latest HBO favorite:

MMORPG's: My Husband has an Avatar?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
My husband has been known to spend many an hour playing online multiplayer games like Counter Strike and Team Fortress. Once we had kids, his free time became limited, so he never moved on to more popular MMORPG's. I know, I had to look it up, too. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG's) include World of Warcraft, Second Life, and EverQuest; they tend to be addictive in nature. I always thought Landon's nights at the computer playing his game were a little adolescent, especially when it involved talking to the other players through a mic. There have been many occasions where I've exchanged a laugh and rolled my eyes with another wife or girlfriend of a gamer about our men in the other room talking on mics to other gamers and playing long into the night--our men at their happiest, right? Nights like these, I'd shut the door and tell myself that my husband was only acting like a highschooler and would join the real world once the game was over. Now, I realize I was much too hard on him, poor guy.

After hearing Robin Young's interview on WBUR: Here and Now (one of my favorite podcasts) with the producer and director (Peter Brauer and Juan Carlos Pineiro respectively) of a new indie documentary, Second Skin, I realize just how much self-control my husband has exhibited in the game world. I'm okay with the fact that I had never heard the term "virtual families" until this interview. You'll see in the trailer below that it's not uncommon for people to play twelve to fourteen hours per day, losing their jobs, failing to pay their bills. An examination on a culture I've only slightly been exposed to through Landon, I'm curious to see this documentary. One aspect to MMORPG's that especially intrigues me is avatars, which is a gamer's online representation in the virtual world, and the basis for the name of the documentary. Players can choose down to the size of their nose how they want their avatar to look.

I'm not sure what my husband's avatar looks like, or how his online persona behaves. Is he good looking and popular in the game? Macho and rugged? Hair blond, long, and flowing? Is he more outgoing?

I can only wonder.

One thing's for sure, I won't tease him anymore about his games, and I don't think I'll ask about his avatar, either. Between watching the trailer for Second Skin and hearing Young's interview, I see there exists a wide chasm between a gamer who plays for fun every once in awhile to zone out and the guy who only has virtual avatars for friends.

Becoming What I Used to Mock

Monday, April 28, 2008

I never ever wanted to be the mom who pushes this through the supermarket, but it's official--I'm the mom pushing this through the supermarket. Somehow, I've managed to avoid it altogether until today, at which point Samuel asked politely if we could use it instead of the plain one, and I gave in . . . only because I figured there was something worse than pushing this thing around the supermarket, and that was being a mom who never lets her kids have any fun. I used to mock these things, and to be honest, I'm still mocking them under my breath as I heave all my body weight into the cart to round a corner. I've lost my dignity and pride around the grocery store these days, but I have a happy kid . . . what can I say?

Starbucks Launches Splash Sticks

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another example of pollution for the sake of convenience.

Starbucks just introduced a new splash stick this week. If you don't already know, it will become quickly apparent as these green sticks topped with the siren from their logo start littering sidewalks and filling up city garbage bins. Instead of using the box of stickers to cover the hole in your plastic paper cup lid, they are now offering a splash stick, which serves as a plug for your drink hole and a stir-stick all in one (except the stir-stick is too short to actually do any real stirring).

Apparently, Starbucks customers share and vote on ideas at My Starbucks Idea. This was an idea that was voted on, then went under review, and was finally tried out in a few stores. Customers liked the splash sticks so much that as of last week, all stores now have them. On the website, it's suggested you bring your splash stick back for reuse, but since I rarely see customers bring in their own mugs, I really doubt they'll remember to wash and bring their plastic green stick.

In addition, after talking to a barista at Starbucks today, I found that employees are not required, and rarely ask on their own whether or not customers are drinking in or getting their latte to go. Many people don't realize that Starbucks has coffee mugs and dishes for in-house customers. He said he is someone that is environmentally conscious, so takes it upon himself to ask customers as much as he can whether or not they are getting their coffee to go or not, but that most of the time, Starbucks' mugs and dishes remain unused.

I'd like to see Starbucks and other coffee chains use dishes for in-house customers. I've noticed that most indie coffee shops are already doing this. Also, I'd like to see more incentive in place for customers who bring their own mug with them.

And if Starbucks really wants to provide a splash stick for their customers' convenience, why not make biodegradable ones?

Landon took Samuel to Washington Park this morning, and I finished Atonement. All ready for book-club tomorrow night. Here's a picture from the park that I thought was particularly good:

Reading Frenzy

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I was on Chapter One of Atonement last night, and here I am, on page 221 a day later. After eating a waffle breakfast prepared by Landon, Juniper and I laid in bed all morning together. She played, I nursed, she slept, she nursed, then slept some more. And all the while I was reading. Landon and Samuel went for a long bike ride during the late morning and early afternoon, so it was only Juniper and I, which is what made reading 200 pages possible. This novel is a must-read. I can't put it down (because I have to have it read by Monday night for book-club)--but seriously, I can't put it down.

I've abandoned Landon in the living room. We were watching American Gangster. Too slow. Painfully slow. Judging by his sprawl on the couch, I don't think he's too interested, either. Tomorrow night, we'll start Flight of the Conchords. I hear it's pretty darn good, and to be honest, I think everything on HBO is pretty great.

100 pages left to read tomorrow. Too bad the nice weather showed up this weekend. I've been wanting to get out in the garden or go for a short run, but I'm determined to be prepared for book-club.

Off to bed. Podcasts are queued up and waiting.

End of a Week

Friday, April 25, 2008

We all headed to playgroup this morning. Samuel took a picture on the way (his request). Later, we went outside and Samuel drew a crocodile on the sidewalk with his chalk. He started a new art class Thursday evenings, which Landon is doing with him, and I've noticed he's getting more artistic. This is great! Shortly after the chalk-art manifesto, we went over to our neighbor's house to visit her backyard rabbit and chickens. Landon came home from work soon after, and took us all out to eat at Tony Bento in SE Portland, one of our favorite bento places!

Juniper loves Lamaze's Jacques the Peacock. It's her favorite toy. I've noticed she is attaching to objects moreso than Samuel did. I captured some play-time with her special peacock on video today.

On another topic, I'm finding less and less time to read these days, so my books have collected dust beside my bed, and I'm only three chapters into the book selection for my book club this month. Atonement and I will be spending the greater part of tomorrow together between breastfeedings while Samuel and Landon go on a bike ride. I've got just over three hundred pages to read in forty-eight hours, and I'm determined to finish it!

And last but not least, because there's nothing quite like a sleeping baby, and for me, nothing quite like a sleeping Juniper, here's where I hope I'll soon be:


Thursday, April 24, 2008
I've always liked tapioca, but in truth, have seldom chosen it for a dessert because the way it's usually prepared is too custard-like for my taste. This past winter, Samuel and I have had many a lunch at Thai City in Hillsdale. Their lunch specials are affordable and delicious, and the owner and staff are the friendliest I've come across in a long time. After every lunch, we were served a tapioca dessert. A starch made into pearls from cassava root (if you're interested, this process is fascinating), tapioca can be used and prepared in a variety of ways. I asked about their in-house tapioca recipe one afternoon, then did a little research online. Here's how I made it:

Coconut milk, coconut meat (fresh coconut is preferable, but I wasn't confident in my abilities to crack it open, so we went with canned), tapioca pearls, sugar, frozen or fresh corn kernels, and salt.
Slice up the coconut meat into thin strips. Landon did this step for me.

For two to three people, bring two cups of water to a boil, then slowly pour in 1/2 cup tapioca pearls. Turn the heat to low, and cover, letting simmer. Stir frequently to avoid pearls getting clumped together or sticking to the bottom of the pan.

You will find that tapioca takes on an egg-white consistency once heated.
In the end, we had a delicious bowl of Thai Tapioca. I'm not sure if this is a traditional Thai recipe, but it's a good one. The combination of the sugar and the salt in the coconut milk is delicious. I will post the recipe below:

2 cups water
1/2 cup tapioca pearls
1/3 cup sugar (or less to taste--I recommend less)
1/3 cup coconut meat
1/4 to 1/3 cup corn kernels
1/3 cup coconut milk
pinch of salt

Bring water to boil. Slowly pour in tapioca pearls. Cover & simmer, stirring every few minutes. After 20 to 30 minutes, when tapioca pearls are just about clear & there are no more white pearls, stir in the sugar, corn kernels, & coconut meat. Dissolve the salt in the coconut milk and heat in the microwave or stove, but do not let the coconut milk boil. Serve tapioca mixture into bowls and pour coconut milk over the top.

Indoor Gardening

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This afternoon, while Juniper slipped into one of her brief, deep-sleep slumbers, Samuel and I did a little indoor gardening. We weren't going to let April's hail, wind, rain, and cold temperatures keep us from getting our hands in some soil.

After applying some new snake tattoos to Samuel's arms, we got out the supplies we needed to start our indoor gardening project.

Rudbeckia is a favorite of mine for the garden. My friend Gay has it growing wild in her very beautiful garden, and when we lived at our Pasadena house, I at one point took cuttings from her. I only wish I could see my old garden, and often wonder what traces are still left of my work there.

The Rudbeckia seeds are the ones in the center of the plate. They are very small, so I pulled out two chive seeds (on the left hand side of the plate), and a packet of daisy seeds an old friend mailed me when we bought this house. We planted seven seeds total. 2 chives, 2 Rudbeckia, and 3 Daisies. One by one, the seeds were given a new home.

Each cup received a tablespoon or so of water. Samuel was careful not to pour in too much. He said, "Mommy, it takes practice."

With a little sunshine, these seven seeds will hopefully germinate within the next two weeks! The chives and daisies I will keep indoors, but if the Rudbeckia seedlings sprout, I will transplant these perennials to the garden in late May or early June.

Splash Mountain Photo

Here's the Splash Mountain picture, taken April 15, our last day at Disneyland. These photos are taken as the log flume drops 52 1/2 feet into the Briar Patch. Front seat riders like me get pretty soaked during the splashdown.

Juniper Rolls Over for the First Time!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

With a little will . . .

effort . . .

and determination . . .

Juniper rolls over for the very first time @ 6:45PM this evening! Since I shot these clips, she's done it again and again. In fact, she can't be stopped! She's actually crossed the living room by rolling over multiple times in a row, nearly ending up beneath the couch. I'm proud of my little girl--she's been gearing up for this moment for about six weeks now, and she finally did it!

Earth Day--April 22, 2008

Today is Earth Day, and I've been thinking about other ways in which our family can lessen our impact on the environment. Landon and I are in the market right now for a new car. We've talked on and off about hybrids, but our conversation always ends with wishing they were more affordable. I was pretty sure we had decided on a Subaru Outback, but while we were in CA, our rental was a Toyota Prius Hybrid. It was so easy to drive, and for the four days we had it, including the drive from Anaheim to San Diego, the gas was around $15.00 total, and gas is over $4.00 a gallon in CA. These hybrids average 46mph. I know the Prius is a small car, but because it has a hatchback, this gives the car a huge space advantage over what we currently have: Honda Accords. We'd like to eventually get to the point where we only have one car, taking advantage of living in a city that has ample public transportation and is bicycle-friendly, but for now, it'd be great if our main family car were a hybrid. Unfortunately, they are pretty darn expensive, but I have to factor in all the money in gas we would save when considering one for a purchase. Oh, and then there's the federal tax credit for buying a hybrid, too. This might come as a surprise, but the Toyota Prius was actually pretty comfortable with two children, and we were carrying a lot of luggage. It's hard for me to stomach the purchase of a new car for our family this year without taking into consideration how that car will impact the environment. Earth Day has got me thinking again about how our family can live more responsibly. Today, it's our planet that's on my mind.

In the Kitchen

Monday, April 21, 2008
Landon and I have always strived to eat well, but recently, I've been using new cookbooks for fresh ideas in the kitchen. My goal is to use seasonal produce and to become more vegetarian. My friend Miriam loaned me, Still Life with Menu, by Mollie Katzen and it's great. I made the Breakfast Cookie-Bars before our trip, which contained rolled oats, whole wheat flour, apple juice, wheat germ, dried fruit, and pumpkin seeds. We ate the whole batch during the three days we were at Disneyland, and they made for a tasty & healthy snack. I'm also using the Moosewood cookbooks for dinners during the week. Each week, I create a menu of 3 to 5 meals before we go grocery shopping. Because of the fresh ingredients in most of the recipes I'm making, I can't really get more than 3 to 5 meals at one time or the produce goes bad before we get to the end of the week. Usually, we eat out once or twice a week, so it works out perfectly.

Tonight, I made Mexican Polenta-Stuffed Peppers for dinner from Simple Suppers, my new Moosewood cookbook. It was a complete meal on its own, but was better with a little dinner salad. Lately, we've been using the European mache mix from New Seasons--it's delicious! Mix in some chopped filberts and dried cranberries and it's even better.

Returning to Life in Portland

Sunday, April 20, 2008
We all slept in after our long day yesterday, and after getting groceries, we all headed down to Sellwood to hear Landon play and enjoy company with some friends. Here's my friend Miriam's little girl with Samuel. The Muddy Rudder is a great little pub in Sellwood on 7th and Tacoma. Their food is really good, and so are the variety of lagers and ales they have on tap. Next time you're in Sellwood, check out the Muddy Rudder!

Last Day of Vacation

Saturday, April 19, 2008
After six long days on our feet, we're ready to come home. It's been a great trip, and one we won't soon forget. Our trip couldn't have gone better, and I'm no longer nervous about traveling with two kids, which is good considering we have another vacation already booked. Here's a few pictures of our last day in San Diego. Today was a travel day, so we spent the morning in downtown San Diego, then went to the airport a little early, only to wait for many hours due to delays. These first three photos were taken at Brickyard Coffee and Tea in downtown San Diego.

Downtown San Diego in the Gas Lamp Quarter.

Downtown San Diego

We went for a walk after having coffee at the Brickyard. Here we're heading back to our car to drop it off at Alamo and head to the airport. It was actually a little cloudy and cool in San Diego today. Other than today, it was in the 80's the whole week!

We waited many hours at the San Diego airport, which was boring since it's so small and there was little to do. There were several delays. We finally arrived at PDX after 10:30PM, and got home after 11:30PM. It was a long day!

San Diego Zoo

Friday, April 18, 2008
We spent today at the San Diego Zoo. What a beautiful place. Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is a big place. We saw lots of beautiful animals. It was a great end to the week, and the weather couldn't have been better! It was beautiful!
Juniper was such a peaceful baby on this trip!

Samuel loved looking at the ducklings, which were everywhere. We had to tell him a few times not to chase them. Here he is watching from a distance, something that doesn't come easy for a three year old.

We ended the day with another great Mexican dinner in Old Town. This time we dined across the street from Cafe Coyote, and I was able to get a slightly better picture since it wasn't quite dark.

Juniper and Samuel fast asleep after our day at the zoo.

SeaWorld--San Diego

Thursday, April 17, 2008
Today we visited SeaWorld, sat in the soak zone for the Shamu show, and caught the dolphin and seal shows as well. SeaWorld is okay, but as a park, it in no way compares with Disneyland. There wasn't a drinking fountain in the park, and water bottles were nearly $4.00. I wasn't too impressed with the shows for the money, but we had fun. Samuel loved seeing the orcas up close, and loves telling anyone who will listen about the killer whales he saw at SeaWorld.
Shamu is the stage name used for all the whales in the show. The real Shamu died in 1971. Because all seven of the orcas that performed in the show were called Shamu, I'm not sure what the name is of this beautiful whale. The actual names of the whales at SeaWorld, San Diego are Corky, Kasatka, Ulises, Orkid, Sumar, Nakai, and Kalia.
The dolphin show at SeaWorld.
The seal and walrus show.
Dolphin in one of the holding tanks, watching its trainer clean up after the show.
There was a honeybee hive outside our motel room. Yikes!
After a day at SeaWorld, we went out for authentic Mexican food (and margaritas!) at Cafe Coyote in Old Town, San Diego.
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