Thursday, July 06, 2006

Soup of the evening, beautiful soup! - Lewis Carroll, in Alice in Wonderland

I find the best days with my boys are days in which I don’t expect to do much at all. Leave the house a mess, feed them pizza for dinner, and just go have some fun.

We are all still coming off our mini-vacation feeling from the long weekend in which we hung out around the house, spent a lot of time at the pool, went to the movies (I took the boys to see “Cars”. And can I just tell you it has been so long since I have been to the movies – think “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie” – that I thought the dude had charged me the evening price for the matinee, but no, six bucks IS the matinee price! Ouch!), watched television, including a thrilling World Cup soccer game that went into double overtime, and went out to eat. So yesterday I continued our sloth auditions and took the boys to the Center for Creative Play.

The Center for Creative Play (CCP) lives in what was once a supermarket; now it’s a giant hangar-like space full of all kinds of toys and play areas and play sets. There’s a play kitchen and a treehouse and a jungle gym-y kind of thing, and ride-on toys, and a baby area full of Exersaucers and chewy toys, and an art room and a music room and a dress-up room. In other words, it’s the perfect place to set the boys loose, put the baby down on the floor among some toys, and sit down with a coffee and a book.
If you’re me.
If you are another sort of mother, you play with your children, and run around with them, and help them paint, and play peek-a-boo with the baby and see if he can crawl up ramps and slide down slides.

My boys seemed content to spend three hours grocery shopping and cooking up a plastic feast; and the baby seemed content to crawl in and out of a gigantic foam tunnel only about a gazillion and a half times.

I myself was perfectly content to read Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, & Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living, of course keeping an eye on my boys to make sure they weren’t beating up anyone, weren’t getting beat up by anyone, and weren’t being abducted by pedophiles or aliens. I was easily within arm’s reach of The Baby, plus he will only go so far away from me just yet.

And yet…I garnered clearly nasty looks from one mother who was busy coaxing her infant down the slide using one of those high-pitched giggly voices, clapping and saying, “Oh, yay for Myrtle!” when the unfortunate child tumbled to the bottom - rather than, say, reading a newspaper or chatting with another mom. Which is JUST FINE, if that’s what makes you happy and fulfilled. Just don’t be judging ME.
This is the same mother who gave me the hairy eyeball when I sat down on the floor in a back corner and nursed my hungry baby.
Another mother saw fit to physically pick up my baby, who was ten feet away from me in the giant expanse of floor space, while I was chatting with a mom I knew from the boys’ old daycare, and deposit him at my feet, saying, “I didn’t know if you knew where he was…” He was the ONLY CHILD playing with the foam blocks, for God’s sake, and he was directly in front of me, only – gasp! - about ten feet away. While I – God forbid - was conducting an adult conversation.

What is with people? My boys were happy, I was happy. We were all having a good time. I knew where they were, they knew where I was (of course they did, since I am the one with the snacks…), everyone was busily occupied and safe and sound. So sorry if I was not interacting with MY children to YOUR specifications. And yet you didn’t seem to appreciate the interaction when I whipped out a boobie and stuck it in The Baby’s gaping maw. Huh. There’s no pleasing some people.

And today? Today was a typical Thursday. The babysitter comes for the day, and I don’t have to be at work till three, so I always have a list as long as my arm of things I am convinced I have time to do. I never ever accomplish all of them – no one could, but then, no one has ever accused me of holding realistic expectations either. Plus, I get hung up checking email, reading blogs, writing blog entries. I think, “I’ll just quick check my email,” and half an hour later, I come to. It’s like a….dream. Yeah, that’s it.

But I did have coffee and read some more of Julie & Julia…. It’s a fun book to read, and I was pleased to discover that her blog is back up. A few months ago it had been down, I thought, but since the book is about the writing of the blog and not the cooking so much, it’s nice to be able to go read the blog about the cooking part.
And I bought sheets because H keeps stealing my nice 300-plus thread-count, 100% cotton, pale- and soothing-colored sheets, and I get stuck with the garish red-and-navy striped ones that I swear give me nightmares and headaches both. I found a set of full, 400 thread count, cotton, pale-green-on-green floral print sheets at TJ Maxx for TWENTY BUCKS. It doesn’t get any better than that.
And I stopped at the grocery store.
And I ran.
And then I ate a BLT for lunch, the tomato juice and mayo dripping down my arm, and a bowl of leek and potato soup, made from our CSA leeks. At least I think they were leeks – but even if they weren’t, they made a fine bowl of soup.
H will have this meal for dinner tonight, only just with an LT as he doesn’t do B.
And I finished this fabulous meal off with a no-bake oatmeal cookie thingey, the recipe for which I got from my breastfeeding mothers’ online support group because oatmeal boosts breastmilk production, did you know that? Oh yeah.


Leek and Potato Soup

3 leeks, white and green parts, quartered, soaked, and chopped
1 ½ pounds of potatoes (about 5-6 average sized), peeled and chopped into ½” cubes
3 TBSP butter
½ cup cream
5 cups chicken broth

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Saute the leeks until tender, about six minutes. Add the potatoes and sauté for about three more minutes. Add the broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add cream and bring back to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, throw in a few handfuls of grated fresh parmesan, and a couple tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. When it’s cooled a wee bit, whirl about half the soup in the blender or food processor and then add back into the pot, to thicken the soup.


No-Bake Oatmeal Fudgie Cookie Thingeys
(I call them Breastmilk Boosters, but you don’t have to...)

2 cups sugar
½ cup milk
½ cup (1 stick) butter
¼ cup cocoa
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups instant/quick cook oats
1 cup coconut

Combine sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa, in a medium saucepan, over low heat. Bring to a boil, stirring pretty frequently. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and peanut butter; stir till dissolved. Stir in oatmeal and coconut. You can scoop this onto waxed paper, into dainty little balls using a cookie-dough scoop, or into those pretty printed or metallic papers. Or you can pour it into a greased 9x13 pan and refrigerate until set and then hack it into bars. Whatever works for you.


Lazy cow said...

It gives me deep, deep pleasure to be the first commenter :-)
Oats/oatmeal is miracle food. It's meant to lower cholesterol too (I'm living proof!)
I'll come out with you and sit quietly and read a book while the kids play. I've never understood the whole stay by the kid's side and cheerlead his every move. OK, you have to be vigilant with babies, and - groan - help the bigger kids get across the monkey bars, but: play centres/playgrounds are for CHILDREN.
That play centre sounds amazing - ours are just hell on earth.

Suse said...

I love the way the play centre is called something that makes it sound educational, rather than the Centre for Exhausted Mothers and Overactive Children.

I agree with LC, most of our playcentres are hideous but we used to have a good local one and it was my saviour when Son #3 was a babe. The other two would play for ages, the baby would sleep in his pram beside me, and I would sit with tea and a book. (I could never stand the women who got in there with the
children and 'helped' them to play. Sheesh.)

Oh and I am outraged that someone (a woman, no less) would glare at you for feeding your baby the natural way in public.

Sarah Louise said...

What is it about moms that they think they can plunk someone else's child somewhere? Sounds like Terzo was happy with the foam blocks.

Oh well. I have a poem for you. I'll have to find it.

Carolyn said...

With my first child, I loved to take her to the park and read a book at the same time.

The second two are hell on wheels and I miss doing that.

You were doing exactly what I would do (if my darn kids would let me). The woman who gave you the hairy eyeball is going to have a neurotic kid because the mother is so far up her butt all the time. :P

Badger said...

Oh my God. I'm sorry, but if some total stranger picked up my baby without my permission and actually carried him/her somewhere, even if that somewhere was TO ME, I would have to rip her fucking head off right there in the play center.

Those overinvolved moms are the ones who are going to be freaking right the fuck out when their kids grow up and leave home, because they will have no lives whatsoever beyond caring for the kids. Oh, what am I saying? Their kids will NEVER LEAVE. Because why do for yourself what Mom will do for you?

Wow, I am feeling kind of bitter and violent today. I haven't even had my cocktail yet. Wait, maybe that's why!

blackbird said...

Never in my life did I play with any of my children -
okay...wait...I played cards on the plane with Youngest last week.
And they seem to have learned to play well - all by themselves.
I would have killed for a play center when they were small (although they were never all small at the same time)

Joke said...


I don't play with my kids. They play with me. But usually we just read.

Can you tell I've never read a parenting manual?


MsCellania said...

Thank you Thank you Thank you for parenting like this.

Some of my GFs are Helicopter Mothers - they hover and talk NonEffingStop to the child(ren), constantly praise them, push them to the head of every possible situation, and are generally annoying at public play places, indoors or out. They mutter and whine about other children who aren't under a parent's constant gaze, or preferably, feet. They Solve All Problems for their child.

BIG MISTAKE. These kids don't have to negotiate anything. They are going to either be spinless or bullies.

I can usually pick out the bullies pretty quickly. I snarl at their parents right away to let them know I have their kids' number and they better moniter the little shit. Otherwise, I say let kids fight their own battles and gain social skills.

But I do occasionally beat myself up for not playing more with our sons. I think "Will they want to have anything to do with me when they are teenagers?" Then I think OF COURSE NOT! Do any teenagers, anyway?!

Ignore the futzy mothers, BB, they don't have faith in their children. You do.

Oh, and the breastfeeding. What were you supposed to do; leave your other 2 completely unattended and trot off to privacy? NO! What an idiot! You are totally in the right.

Suse said...

Me again.

I forgot to say 'Six bucks for a cinema ticket! Fantastic!' Here it's closer to $15 for an adult and about $10 each for the children so when I take them to the movies (you know, twice a year) I say goodbye to a fifty dollar note. And we take our own popcorn and water because I'm The Mean Mum.

Mostly we just wait till it comes out on DVD.

Lazy cow said...

Suse, we take our own water and popcorn too (OK and maybe supermarket bought M&Ms). I saw the $6 and nearly cried.
Oh BB, the anti-breastfeeding bitch? I have no words, oh, maybe "hello, you look thirsty, would you like some too?"

weirdbunny said...

I'm with you, and after all how will they make friends with other kids there if we're playing with them. And go girl for getting your booby out to feed, when your babe wants to feed. Wherever, however, your kids, your rules!!

Paula said...

There's nothing left to say that everyone hasn't already said. You obviously have great self-control, since you didn't go after the woman who picked up the baby:).

Miz S said...

"Baby's gaping maw."

Heh. I've got to work "gaping maw" into my posts more often.

Your instincts are excellent. My friend Bonnie with 11 kids (all brilliant, talented, and very well-adjusted) is a big believer in benign neglect.

julia said...

Benign neglect. That's a parenting philosophy I am completely behind. The only reason I hover a bit over the youngest is that she'd climb the walls themselves if there was a sliver of a toe hold. That play space sounds very cool and I would have done pretty much what you did.

I read Julie & Julia in advanced reader's copy and loved it. It made me want to get a copy of the cookbook. It also made me buy The French Chef on DVD. My older daughter thinks it's a riot and I can't seem to get Dan Ackroyd out of my head every time I watch it.