Archive | November, 2010

Thanksgiving Momories

25 Nov

Every year as I’m preparing the turkey for roasting, I am reminded that I’m much too squeamish to ever be a proper chef.

My daughter asked me last night if I’d be doing the turkey dance.  The turkey dance is a tradition passed down from mother to daughter.  I don’t recall when it began, but one year some of us kids were watching my mother prepare our turkey for roasting, and as she was rinsing and shaking the naked bird to get out the excess fluids, she suddenly had the turkey break out in dance.  With wings extended he waltzed, he sashayed, he did a little jig.  It was just like my mother to turn something as mundane as cleaning a turkey into something bizarre and delightful.  It would be nice if I could say that right then and there I swore to myself my own children would know the joys of the turkey dance, but I didn’t think much about it until a few years ago when I was preparing my own turkey in front of my kids.  I think it was DynaGirl who commented on how disgusting the whole procedure was (which it is).  I agreed and then told the story of the turkey dance with an accompanying demonstration, of course.  She was as delighted as I had been when I first experienced it, and knowing DynaGirl, I wouldn’t be surprised if she swore to herself right then and there that her own children would know the joys of the turkey dance.  I didn’t do the turkey dance this year.  All the kids were still asleep this morning during the turkey preparations (and are asleep still), and it seemed silly to do the dance without benefit of an audience.  I find myself wishing now that I had done it anyway just so when DynaGirl asks I can tell her yes, and she would know that she can depend on her mother to do all the things she expects her mother to do even when she’s not there to witness.

My culinary skills generally leave a little something to be desired.  I am a decent cook, I think.  Actually, if I were to compare myself to others based on the offerings of most of the potlucks I’ve attended, I may even be slightly better than average.  But I’m no Julia.  Or Martha.  Perhaps I get that from my mother.  Growing up, Thanksgiving meant stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, some sort of vegetable, rolls, pie, candied yams, the obligatory cranberry sauce (though I don’t recall anyone ever actually eating it) and turkey dust.  My mother was notorious for overcooking the turkey.  Every year it would come out of the oven richly and beautifully browned, renewing all our hopes of a Thanksgiving turkey to remember.  But then as she began to carve it, inevitably the breast would begin to disintegrate into dry clumps of turkey dust.  With enough gravy it was still delicious (I’m convinced a good gravy can fix just about any culinary disaster).  I think my first turkey met a similar fate–perhaps not quite as crumbly, but still a little on the parched side.  It was comforting—a little bit of mom at our Thanksgiving table.  I don’t think it was too many tries later when I produced a turkey of traditionally desired moistness and consistency.  As I carved into the breast forming perfectly sliced portions, it almost felt like a betrayal of my mother’s memory. 

I hope she knows that no matter what I do now—whatever “mom” traditions I do or don’t keep going—I will always look back with acute fondness and gratitude.

I would love to hear any Thanksgiving “momories” you would like to share.  Among the many blessings I am grateful for today, are all of you, dear friends and readers. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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Go oh oh ho slow

17 Nov

Ever heard of The xx?

My favorite song this week:

Crystalised, The xx

This one’s pretty cool, too:

Islands, The xx

Really love the combination of their voices.

Have you made any new discoveries lately?

Baby Jesus, Dad? Really?

16 Nov

*I had the kids make their Christmas lists the other day, and DynaGirl asked for her own room.  I’ve told her before that this is not going to happen as long as we live in this house (3 bedrooms, 4 kids, 1 teenage boy, 3 girls), but she spent most of Veteran’s Day watching HGTV and she’s convinced she can convert the closet into a bedroom for herself.  Apparently she’s mistaken their 2’x5′ closet for one of more Narnian proportions.  I’m afraid this Christmas will join puppy, pony and baby brother on the list of Santa FAILS.

*The other day I spent more time than I would care to admit searching for a stray sock—a quest that took me, among other places, under furniture, between couch cushions, into sleeves of shirts already hanging in closets, and inside the newspaper recycling bin (no stone unturned, people).  Just when I had decided to give up (or at least when I had told myself I’d decided to give up), I felt something strange on the back of my knee.  I reached up my pant leg only to discover the missing sock had been there the whole time.  Only I’m not entirely convinced it had been there the whole time.  That was at least the second time I had worn that particular pair of pants since they’d last been laundered (what, you wash your jeans after every wear?) and the sock had obviously been freshly laundered and not in the same load as the pants (I have a strict laundry sorting regimen that must be adhered to at all times).  Also, it wasn’t just my sock I found up my pant leg, but one of BigHugs’ as well, which was an entirely different color from both the missing sock and the pants.  Even if by the wildest stretch of the imagination I somehow managed to launder items from three different laundry families in the same load, would I really be able to walk around on 2-3 separate occasions with these two separate pieces of foot coverings stowed away in my pant leg without even noticing?  Would I?  Would I??  Do you ever get the feeling your life is one long-running episode of Punk’d? 

*Last night we played one of those Cranium games.  One round had DynaGirl guiding Chuck’s hand to draw a particular something, which was a little awkward considering Chuck is left-handed while DynaGirl is right-handed.  Chuck and BigHugs (who were on DynaGirl’s team) had to guess what it was.

Chuck: A man!
BigHugs:  A guy!
Chuck: A gingerbread man!
BigHugs: A gingerbread man!
Chuck: Baby Jesus!

They were wrong.  They ran out of time.

Later, BigHugs said, “Baby Jesus, Dad?  Really?”

Any guesses?

November 11

11 Nov

Yesterday I attended an assembly in honor of the veterans with family at my girls’ school.  It was kind of a last minute decision.  DynaGirl asked if I would be going, casually mentioning that she would be part of the 5th grade choir performing at the assembly.  The school holds this assembly every year, but this is the first year I went.  I’m glad I did.

We had the usual flag ceremony and singing of the national anthem, a few essays written by a handful of 5th graders, and an introduction of the veterans in attendance.  Then they played a slideshow, in which students had submitted pictures of family members who had served or are currently serving in the armed forces.  I was surprised at how touched I was by this presentation.  I did not know any of the people featured, and only recognized a few of the students’ names associated with the pictures.  Each of the pictures was labeled with the individual’s name and their relationship to a student at our school, i.e. John Smith – Grandfather of Jane Smith.  There were, of course, fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and seeing these family connections displayed on the screen really brought home the message that for generations there have been men and women who have risked everything in the service of our country.  And consequently, there are countless families who have suffered and endured great loss.

You know, whatever your politics or your feelings about war and the conflicts our country becomes involved in, how can you not hold some measure of gratitude and respect for those willing to step up and do the job required of them, knowing the sacrifice involved?

Yesterday’s assembly was not well attended.  Granted, it was in the middle of a work day, but I’ve been to plenty of other mid-day school functions where I had to fight for a parking space or a spot standing against the gym wall.  I found myself feeling guilty that I hadn’t bothered to come in years past.  Not to say that I need to attend an elementary school assembly to honor our veterans or that even merely attending such a production is a sufficient way of showing my gratitude and respect, but as a parent, maybe I could do a better job of teaching my children the value of sacrifice and how blessed they truly are for what they have and where they live.

Because I have all these sticky notes floating around

10 Nov

Mr. T’s poking DynaGirl with a piece of foam board.

DynaGirl: Stop it.

He doesn’t stop.

Me: Leave your sister alone.

He doesn’t.

BigHugs, putting up her hand: Stop!  That’s bullying!

He laughs and stops.

DynaGirl: Did you know there are seven types of bullying?  Ticking them off on her fingers: physical, verbal, fancy word, more fancy words, and another really big fancy word that I don’t remember.

Me: But that’s only five.

DynaGirl: No, for the fourth one I said “fancy wordsss“.

Obviously my powers of observation are not as finely honed as hers.

~

Later in the conversation.

DynaGirl: Mr. J used another really fancy word that means not making any sense.  I think it started with an F.  I made a mental note, so I could flatter you with my fancy vocabulary, but then I forgot.

Me:  Flatter?  You mean impress?  Flatter is like when you give someone compliments.

DynaGirl: Oh.

She really is very bright.

~

All on a Saturday morning.

Me: Did you shower this morning?

Mr.  T: No.

Me: Why do you think it’s OK to take the weekend off from hygiene?

Mr. T: Not the whole weekend, just Saturdays.

DynaGirl: Like I take Saturdays off from brushing my teeth?

Me: You don’t brush your teeth on Saturdays??

DynaGirl: Just Saturday morning.  I brush them Saturday night!

Mr. T: If we’re just staying at home, there’s no point to hygiene.

Make a mental note: Spend Saturdays away from home.

Casa de Bythelbs

5 Nov

So a couple of months ago we had our house painted.  The color selection process was actually quite stressful for me.  There’s no going back.  No “woops”.  No do-overs.  No “Good frick!  What have I done??”  Well, I guess there’s always that.  But after careful consideration and a couple of test patches, we settled on Attitude Gray with Reserved White trim.

Here is the before:

Somewhere under the rainbow Bythelbs lives.

And the after:

Some people like to rake their fall leaves, we prefer to use ours for decoration.

In certain light it looks a lot more green than I had originally intended, but I like it.  And the best part was, I didn’t have to do the work myself, which is what made this “after” picture possible.

At the end of the job, the paint crew has you do a walk-through and point out any areas of concern or anything you want fixed.  Once you’ve given them the OK, that’s it.  There’s no going back.  We did our walk-through in twilight just moments before we had to leave for activity night at the church.  The possibility of not catching all the imperfections really stressed me out, but our job manager came back the next day to make sure we were satisfied, and fixed all the things I had missed the night before. 

There are still a couple of places that aren’t 100% perfect, but my reaction to the overall job is that it looks a lot better than if I had done it myself.  Given the expense, I’m pretty sure Chuck thinks it should look a lot better than if Jesus had done it himself, but he’s always had higher expectations than I.

Don’t you just love surprises?

4 Nov

After school yesterday.

Me: How’d your pictures go?

BigHugs: Good.

Me: Did you raise your eyebrows?

BigHugs: Yooou’ll seeee.

Oh goody.