Watermelon is your ex-husband.

SCENE: The dining room, last night.  Mama has a strangely terrible stomachache and is trying to eat a banana, hoping that it will absorb some of the acid.  Nicholas, six years old, is babbling about many things that do not sink in to Mama’s distracted mind.

NICK: Babble!  Babble!  Watermelon is your ex-husband.

MAMA: What?

NICK: It is!  It is!  Isn’t it? Read more…

When Robots Write Novels in Your Comment Box

Mysterious robots sometimes comment on my articles.  WordPress is much, much better at filtering spam than my old blog software, but it does sometimes put non-spam comments in the spam folder.  That is where I found the text below, which I have edited a little bit to make it more entertaining, but I did not add a single word!

He lifted his gt40, seeing the replica on his youngish cars, and away he groaned without much jealousy.  Timex gps your watches, and no revelation through its interference and nuances.  Discounted in the radio, he dipped up fake words, or he did if that’s suspicious and able.  Replica me and pass on the many Rolex positively?  It inhales, pump now remain. Read more…

Homemade Frozen Shredded Vegetables

Like reusing glass jars, this is an idea I’ve mentioned before that has increased its importance in my day-to-day life to the point that it deserves its own article!

When you have more of a vegetable than you can eat before it goes bad, clean and shred the extra all at once, put measured portions into small bags, and freeze it.  Now you have convenient quantities to use in future recipes!  Depending on the cooking technique, you may not even have to thaw them before using.  You’ll save time, compared to cutting up fresh vegetables in a bunch of separate sessions.  You’ll save money, compared to wasting fresh produce or buying more expensive pre-sliced frozen vegetables.  Read more…

Our Neighborhood Public School Works for Us!

Today is my son’s last day of kindergarten!  This has been his first year in public school, and we are very pleased with our neighborhood public school, Pittsburgh Colfax.  It’s a great example of how an urban school can thrive when faculty encourage parent involvement.  On “Take Your Special Person to School Day” last month, I spent a whole day immersed in the experience of being one of the 700+ Colfax kids and never once felt like just another brick in the wall.  Sure, there are some systems in place to keep everybody organized, but none of it is harsh or disrespectful.

Daniel and I always planned to send our child to public school.  We feel strongly that public schools are important.  Every child deserves to learn both academic and social skills.  That includes our child.  We believe that our public schools, supported by our tax dollars (and 1% of the money I spend on my Target Visa card), are good enough for our child.  Read more…

The Power of Moose

This is a strategy for crossing the street safely in situations where vehicular traffic is reluctant to yield to pedestrians.  A friend of my brother’s explained it to me years ago.

It is based on a simple principle: Nobody will risk crashing a car into a moose.  Hitting a moose obviously would damage the car and driver.  Many drivers are sadly less concerned about hitting a person, perhaps because they figure a person will dart out of their way–moose are not known for darting.  Therefore, if you want cars to let you cross the street, you need the mass of a moose. Read more…

A Nonviolent Strategy for Action Heroes

One day, when our son Nicholas was two-and-a-half years old, Daniel and I were talking about how we would do the Star Wars prequels better (a frequent topic of discussion) and I envisioned a scene in which someone is climbing a high, steep cliff by climbing the ivy growing on it, but as dusk falls the ivy wakes up and turns out to be a carnivorous plant, and there he is clinging to it high off the ground, and–

At this point Nicholas awakened from his nap.

Later, we were all eating dinner when Daniel brought up my idea again. Nicholas wanted to know what we were talking about. I said I had made up a story; I told it, “…and then I don’t know what would happen next.”

Nicholas immediately suggested, “He can say, [assertive tone] ‘Ivy, no! Don’t bite me! I don’t like that!'”

Ever noticed how the characters in these action movies never even try that approach? They just assume that carnivorous whatevers will not listen to reason and immediately resort to violence! Well, my son knows better than that!

Within days after this incident, I broke out in poison ivy rash. When I explained what it was, and every time he noticed it thereafter, Nicholas would ask, “Mama, why didn’t you say, ‘Ivy, no! Don’t bite me!’?” I told him that I did, but the ivy did not listen. >:-(

3-year-old shows consideration in a crisis

Here is a story I posted on a discussion board when Nicholas, now 6 years old, was 3.  I still find it an encouraging reminder that in many ways he’s a really good person.

My 3-year-old has been demanding and rude and self-centered lately, and both parents and teachers have been struggling to get along with him…but the other night, he did something really cool:

We were eating in a Mexican restaurant.  Nicholas got a small bit of taco shell stuck in his throat.  (It must have been very small because we couldn’t see it and he could talk normally, but you know how that can hurt!)  He had never had a corn-chip-related injury before and found it very upsetting.  We suggested that he cough, drink some water, etc., but he just got more and more panicky.  He started saying, “I have to get out of here!”  Daniel and I were reluctant because we’d just started eating and were very hungry.  Nicholas said, “I don’t mean go home, just out to the sidewalk.”  I took one more bite, and out we went.

The moment the door closed behind us, he started a loud, high-pitched wailing and crying big tears. At that moment, I realized he had been restricting himself to a reasonable volume inside the restaurant! I hadn’t even noticed that his panicked protests were in pretty much a normal speaking voice so that we’d felt no need to shush him. HE REMEMBERED TO BE POLITE EVEN WHEN HE WAS UPSET, AND ASKED TO GO OUTSIDE SO HE COULD VENT HIS FEELINGS! I am amazed! A lot of adults can’t manage that!

I crouched on the sidewalk hugging him for a long time while he cried. After a while he said the piece of chip had come out but the spot still hurt and he was still scared. Eventually he was done…and then he said, “Let’s finish our dinner.” We went back to the table. He picked up the remainder of his taco and said, “I will trade it for the rest of your soft thing [enchilada]. Eat it carefully, Mama.”

I guess he is turning out okay after all.

Glass Jars Galore!

My ravings about the joys of reusing glass jars got too lengthy for my “What Do You Reuse?” article, so I decided to give these versatile, durable storage containers their own article! First of all, I want to rave a moment about how glass jars are much better for food storage than plastic containers! We save the jars from peanut butter, salsa, spaghetti sauce, etc., and use them over and over again. They wash so much cleaner so much more easily than plastic, especially with greasy or sticky foods or things that stain, like tomato sauce and blueberries.  Leftovers seem to stay fresh longer in glass. The threaded lids almost never leakGlass does not leach chemicals into food, like plastics do under some circumstances.  My very favorite feature is this: Read more…

Fruit Labels, Jar Labels, Six-Packs, Environment, and Health

You know those annoying little stickers that are on most fruits you can buy individually in supermarkets?  The ones that are so thin and so well-glued that they’re often impossible to remove without gouging a hole in your fruit?  Yeah, I always knew they were evil.  In addition to being annoying on edible-skinned fruits, if a sticker is left on the peel you remove from a fruit and put into the compost, it never biodegrades (that’s how I first realized they’re made of plastic, not paper) and becomes an annoying bit of garbage to pick out of the nice rich soil in the compost bin a few months later.

What’s more, I just learned today that fruit stickers create a significant problem when they get into the water treatment system Read more…

Homemade Electrolyte Replenisher (Sports Drink)

66c471b020c1d61a519d07545084944bUPDATE in 2016: This trusty recipe has now carried me through seven summers, another low-blood-pressure pregnancy, another two years of breastfeeding (which increases the risk of dehydration), and several digestive illnesses!  Today I’ve updated some references in this post and linked up with Real Food Friday, where my recent post on using up the vegetables from a CSA farm share is featured today.

Back in 2009, thanks to The Cardamom’s Pod, I discovered the concept of Laborade, a beverage similar to a sports drink that’s easy to make at home from inexpensive ingredients.  It’s an affordable substitute for Gatorade, Pedialyte, or similar beverages, without any artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, or excessive packaging!

I now drink a tall glass of Laborade whenever I’m very hot and sweaty and draggy-feeling, or I’ve had a digestive upset but now I can keep down liquids again, or I feel thirsty even though I already drank some water, or I’m inexplicably dizzy (I’m prone to low blood pressure).  It makes me feel amazingly better very quickly!

But don’t drink it as a regular beverage.  The simple rule is, if it tastes really good, you need it; if it tastes weird, you don’t. Read more…