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Jul 27, 2004

Rhymin' time

There's a Mother Goose rhyme that goes:

There was an old woman tossed in a basket
Seventeen times as high as the moon,
And where she was going, no mortal could tell,
But under her arm she carried a broom.

"Old woman, old woman, old woman!" said I,
"Whither, oh whither, oh whither so high?"
"To sweep the cobwebs from the sky,
"And I'll be with you, by and by."

The other day I started making up a variation with "young Bobo" (one of Silas' nicknames) for "old woman", and "spoon" (one of his obsessions) for "broom". After the "whither so high?" line, I paused, and Russell, grinning, immediately finished: "To scoop the yogurt from the sky/And I'll be back on the Fourth of July!"

Big parent OOPS

Our first mistake was clicking on the JibJab link while Russell was in the room. He raced over all eager to see the "cartoon" (and of course Silas followed).

Our second mistake was to download the JibJab thing (for a mere $3) when their server was so overwhelmed that we could only see part of it by clicking on the link.

Our third mistake was to let Russell know we had downloaded it.

Our fourth mistake was to go into such gales of family laughter whenever we played it that we let an addiction develop.

Our fifth mistake was to think that because Russell hadn't been singing The Song at home, maybe we were going to get away with this without public humiliation.

Today I was parent helper at Russell's preschool, when somebody mentioned California, or something, and suddenly Russell was off. "You're a pinko commie; you're dumb as a doorknob..." He went through several word-perfect iterations of a verse or two. How embarrassing!

The only thing that made me feel better was that Sarah (age almost five) joined in without missing a beat, and even added in the Dean Scream.

Russell and Silas, by the way, still chant "How-aw-Deen!" whenever they see a political button.

Jul 24, 2004

Pie, oh my!

I've made three types of pie so far this summer: sour cherry, blueberry-peach, and blueberry-peach-mystery-ingredient-to-be-revealed-below.

I knew that sour cherries make my favorite type of pie. It's too bad they're only in season for about 48 hours. But at least I spotted them in the store in time to buy some. I needed to make something for our neighbors' barbecue, so I decided I could throw the pie together in time, once I realized Fannie Farmer (my favorite cookbook) did not recommend chilling the basic pie crust dough before rolling it. Geez, I've made pies for years thinking I had to have that half-hour step! But sure enough, I didn't chill the crust dough and the pie was outstanding (one of my all-time best, thanks largely to the cherries). It was pretty, too -- the lattice-top crust came out really well.

The next time I made a pie, I had some blueberries and peaches. This time, I realized I had not chilled the shortening beforehand. Uh oh. So I looked in Fannie Farmer to find out how urgent shortening-chilling was... and found there was nothing about it in there. The crust came out fine, so there's another step saved forever! (I'll have to look in my other books to see why THEY be chillin'. Maybe so it handles better? It was good enough for me this way.) Unfortunately the peaches were about a day short of being ideally ripe, and somehow the blueberry-peach combo, while pretty and tasty, just wasn't in the same league as the sour cherry filling.

So for the most recent pie, I had a bunch of blueberries and (ripe) peaches, but wanted to add something with a little zing. Something a little sour... something that cooked up to be soft like blueberries and peaches, in about the same amount of time... something in season... something reasonably easy to prepare... aha! rhubarb! I used 3.5 cups blueberries, 3.5 cups peaches, and 2 cups sliced rhubarb for two pies. And I was just tickled to death, as my grandmother would say, that they were REALLY REALLY GOOD.

My other pie tips, besides Fannie Farmer: Organic palm oil (sold as organic shortening) works very well and has no trans fats. Use two knives to cut the shortening into the flour. Add the ice water a tiny bit at a time. Roll with a marble rolling pin on parchment paper. Use a chopstick for crimping the crust. Cook in a stoneware Pampered Chef pie pan if your sister is nice enough to give you one. Use one of those rings to cover the edge of the crust (so much easier than foil). Try to belong to a family of pie-worshippers who will treat you like a Goddess of Pie.

Jul 21, 2004

The morphing of Silas

When we went to North Carolina in late June, Silas sometimes spoke two-word sentences but often just grunted.

Apparently he had decided he wasn't really going to bother with this talking stuff until he mastered prepositions. Suddenly he is making remarks like, "No like butter on it!" and "Take my shoes off" all day long. He loves phrases like "over there" and "up there". He also likes identifying who possesses things (Ruh-ell's hammer, Mama's spoon, etc.) (Actually it's more like Ruh-ell ammer, Mama poon, etc., since he still doesn't do S sounds much. He calls himself something like "Yilesh". Heck, Russell still calls himself something like "Wussell"...)

Russell's latest language changes mostly have to do with his curiosity about the world. We've been hearing a lot about "the state of Maine," as well as other states, including "the state of Venus". He also discourses on the high mountains called the Yalps. All of these things can be found on the "naps" he draws (he has insisted many times that they are naps, NOT maps).

On Tuesday I did a mental calculation and realized that the day before (Monday 7/19), Silas was exactly the age Russell was when Silas was born. At the time, Russell seemed so big to me! Hard to believe, now. This age gap has worked really well for us, but I have to admit I'm quite happy not to have an infant or pregnancy to deal with right now as Silas progresses through being two (perhaps my favorite little-kid age -- they're just so FUNNY).