Culinary Adventures

Back when Daniel B. posted on All Over Albany about Tacos at La Mexicana Grocery & Restaurant, Cute W and I sent each other the link with messages laden with multiple explanation points about how we must try it soon. But of course, the holidays were busy. Over the weekend, Cute W planned a menu out of one of his Rick Bayless cookbooks, so it was the perfect opportunity to shop and get some takeout at the same time.

Mmmm, it was a hit with the family. If you want the nuanced, well-considered, foodie review, check Daniel’s. I’ll give you J’s review. Regarding the chicken taco, she said, “I think that I have found something new which I adore.”

And the tacos are $2. So that’s awesome. Cheaper than Chipotle, for sure.

Of course, Cute W’s dish was delightful as well: tostadas with a black bean concoction, shredded chicken, romaine lettuce with a bit of dressing, Mexican cheese, roasted tomatillo salsa, and tomatoes. Just typing it is making me a little bit sad that the leftovers are gone.

Cute W is not the only cook in the family. J invented a new dessert recipe. Simply unscrew an Oreo, add a dollop of cranberry sauce, replace the tip, and voila! Very sophisticated if you are 7 years old. And Cute W thought it was tasty, too.

 

 

Fair Warning: It’s Gonna Get Dark Around Here to Protest SOPA

Update: okay, okay. Have I mentioned that I’m not too tech-savvy? My first plug-in, which would have kept you in the dark at Capital District Fun all day, didn’t work, so you just got a teensy blackout. And here’s more info. if you’d like it:

If you spend slightly less time on the internet than I do, or if you’ve been taking care of toddlers or sick children, you might not realize that there are going to be quite a few blacked-out sites tomorrow. Capital District Fun will be one of them. I wanted to give you a little warning in case you want to look something up and write it down with an old-fashioned pencil.

I am blacking out because I like to link & comment with wild abandon, and I like to link to people & places where people are talking about all sorts of things. Sometimes these are vitally important and politically relevant. Sometimes they’re tasteless, not-suitable-for-the-kids spoofs of pop culture. I want access to all of them without fear that my site, or the sites that I love, will be shut down.

Here’s more information, in case you’re looking for it.

FightFortheFuture.org video (this has a quick form to send to Congress) and information on the SOPA Strike.

TechDirt’s got what it calls The Definitive Post On Why SOPA And Protect IP Are Bad, Bad Ideas.

If you don’t feel like reading, and you’d rather listen to a guy ranting in a British accent while you, I don’t know, fold laundry or wash dishes, here’s your link.

Here’s a commentary from Time’s Techland Blog.

Here’s a legal memo by a smart guy from Harvard.

The Bloggess takes on SOPA in video form and makes us fall in love with her all over again.

 

 

Father-Daughter Bonding

A surprise hit among the Christmas gifts was this Thames & Kosmos Electronics Workshop:

Cute W picked this out for M, and they’ve had fun doing the experiments together. Today was M’s favorite one yet: they made an electrical circuit that was only complete when they put the two ends of a wire in a cup full of water.

This has been a father-daughter venture, so I didn’t know much about it. I decided to interview M:

Me: “So, are the experiments easy or hard to do?”

M: “They’re pretty easy if you’re someone who know what they’re doing. Like me.”

Me: “Did I hear you guys reading a story or something?”

M: “Yes. It’s got a story about Robert the Robot who’s going into space. It teaches lots of technical science stuff, which sounds really boring, but it’s actually cool. Really cool.”

Score one for STEM promotion at our house!

Now the girls are settled in their pajamas and reading, but they’re going to be allowed to say up late to watch the Broncos with Daddy. Soon it’ll be time for some Buffalo Chicken Dip. Life is good.

 

Evening Inventory

First, one quick note: Deb from KidsOutAndAbout.com is going to be on Tuesday’s noon news on Channel 13, WNYT, and one of the things she’s planning on talking about is favorite sledding hills. She made a survey, and we’d love help with filling it out.

Even though I have the whole day to do it, I often don’t get to writing blog posts until the evening. After dinner, Cute W reads to both the girls together a while, and if the kitchen’s clean already, I start the post.

Tonight, I had no ideas. In fact, I was pondering doing the February break camps post, but it’s tedious, and I’m feeling lazy. (Hey, how many of you actually enroll your kids in multi-day camps? Just curious. . . .)

As I walked around the house, I kept chuckling over one thing or another, so I figured that I’d share the evening inventory. I try to maintain some order in our common living and dining areas, because it makes the time after they’re in bed feel more gloriously serene.  I thought we were on track tonight, but while they were brushing their teeth, I took a look around:

It’s rare that I don’t find discarded dirty socks by the couch. They have to tidy up before watching tv, but they always miss them and so do I. Parenting tip: it’s not worth threatening to throw away socks. The only one who actually cares about a sufficient supply of decent socks in the house is mom, anyway.

Also, what the hell? J likes her stylish new jeans jacket, and these hand-me-down shoes have high heels. She was wearing both at some point today, and she clearly decided that they were so fabulous that they should remain display in the middle of the living room with the help of M’s cello stand.

It’s wonderful that my children sneak carrots, but then I find discarded bags, often still containing overpriced produce  hither, thither, and yon. Why are they so good at taking items out of the fridge and so bad at putting items back in?

Of course, it’s tough to get annoyed when M cleaned the closet, unprompted, again. That girl rocks.

Isis the furry daughter has placed herself in the exact middle of the loveseat again. She’s not good at sharing. And earlier today she knocked my water glass all over my papers while I was typing (she likes to get between me and the monitor).

Meanwhile, upstairs it’s worse. The little room that we call “the schoolroom” apparently exploded when I wasn’t looking. This will be a weekend project. In the center of the floor is the silver tape dispenser that is never, not-ever, supposed to be removed from my desk. There’s blue tape on the floor because if we ever get our act together this will be a master bathroom instead of a giant paper-and-office-supply magnet.

And finally, look at cute little J! Her Christmas present leotard was too small, so at today’s class we got a replacement. She likes it so much she’s wearing it as pjs, too.

Good night and have a great weekend!

In Which I Channel Stuart Smalley

Oh, please don’t tell me that you’re so young that you don’t remember Stuart Smalley from back before Al was the US Senator from Minnesota. Seriously. I don’t need to hear that.

I said recently that I wasn’t coming up with any resolutions, but I’ve actually got one. I’ve decided that I’m going to try to have only positive thoughts about myself. For example, instead of thinking “I’m a dork,” I’ll try to think “I’m full of awesome” instead.

This has turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated. For a girl with kick-ass SAT scores and an advanced degree from an Ivy League school, you wouldn’t expect that I’d think, “Wow, I’m unbelievably stupid” too often. Alas, you’d be wrong. I’ve realized how critically I view myself. Like, all the time.  Once I became aware of this alarming tendency, I decided that this bullshit simply. must. stop.

And shortly after making this resolution, I did something like, oh, I don’t know. . . drive my car directly into my garage door.

No, I’m not kidding. I wish.

We’d put one of those cargo carriers on the roof of our car for our holiday trip, and we hadn’t taken it off the car. I generally forgot that it was even there, but my driveway’s so long that by the time I’d traveled from street to garage, the garage door was fully open and I was in the clear. Except last week, when I planned to park in the driveway. Except it was snowing. So to avoid clearing snow later, I changed my mind, hit the garage door opener, and drove right in. Until there was a loud and alarming crunch.

Okay, so it doesn’t look so bad. But the door was broken enough and sort of bowed in just enough that it couldn’t go entirely up or entirely down. With the cargo carrier on top, the car couldn’t even fit into the garage. Luckily only the door itself was damaged: the car was fine.

Anyway, Cute W was out of town when this happened, and I switched to parking on his side of the driveway. Then, the night he was due home, I thought, “Gosh, he’ll be home so late, and he’ll be tired, I don’t want to disorient him by parking in his usual space.” I’d forgotten entirely why I’d parked on his side to begin with. So the next time I came home, I pressed the garage door opener, waited an extra-long time to ensure that the door was finished going up, and I drove into the garage door again. (If you’re confused here, see the phrase in italics in the previous paragraph.)

I couldn’t write about this while it was still fresh, but it’s resolved now. The door was semi-functional, but semi-functional just doesn’t cut it where Cute W is concerned, so he’s replaced it. The job took him all weekend, and although I tried to help, it was a bit like when your 3-year-old tries to help unload the dishwasher.

Actually, I was tempted to take a picture of Cute W, because he was wearing these grease-stained jeans with a super-masculine tool belt over it and a bunch of tools hanging off of that except that one pocket held a pencil with pictures of fluffy puppies and pink roses on it. It was hilarious. But at the time he was cursing and muttering, and I was overcome with remorse. And feeling like an idiot dumbhead a$$h63 intelligent person who had made an two unfortunate errors.

So again, it’s more challenging than I anticipated. But that’s what makes me feel that it’s a worthy endeavor. If you generally don’t do resolutions, or if you just haven’t settled on one yet, what about this one? Try listening to yourself and your internal monologue. And if it’s mean, unhelpful, or depressing, just shut it off. Replace it with something a little more joy-affirming instead. And if you’re having a bad day when you’re feeling like you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer, just think: “Hey, at least I didn’t just drive my car into my garage door twice.”

January Opens CSA and Nursery School Shopping Season

I’m not up for much today. I’ve had a series of technical difficulties, I still have a splitting headache, and in moments I plan to have a big slab of brie that’s softening on the coffee table. So, let’s throw this together quickly, shall we?

If you’re thinking about joining a CSA, here’s a post I wrote with links to help you find a CSA. Really popular ones fill up fast, but many will be available through March. The optimistic tone in that old post made me laugh. This year, I’m taking a break from the CSA and I’m just going to spend more freely at the farmer’s market.  With everything else going on, it was a bit too much for me last season.

January’s also Nursery School Shopping Season. In fact, if anyone has open houses or general nursery school plugs to share in the comments, please do!

Some Supremely Awesome Women Out There

I wrote a review of Saturday’s Laurie Berkner Band concert. It’s over on KidsOutAndAbout.com. I was a little scattered that day because we were running straight to the show after ice skating, so I forgot my camera. But there are photos from the concert over on The Angel Forever, in case you’re wondering what a “a surprisingly chic giraffe-print pouffy party dress with pink ruffles” looks like. The review is a love-fest, and not just because we got review tickets and a giveaway: pack I just love her. Oh, and not only that, but Deb tweeted the review @KidsOutAlbany, and Laurie tweeted back. It’s like, she almost talked to me.

And speaking of cool women, I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out that Amy Poehler and friends have a web-based show called “Smart Girls at the Party” with the tagline “change the world by being yourself.” Holy cow I think she’s fabulous. The girls haven’t seen any of the shows, because if I said, “Girls, girls, look, look! Check out this cool show,” then they’d watch it, all skeptical, and possibly roll their eyes. If I look like I happen to be watching it all by myself when they walk by and look over my shoulder, they will be hooked. So, what is this exactly? Tragically manipulative? Not passive-aggressive surely, but passive-awesome? Discuss.

And if you aren’t already overwhelmed by social media, the splendors of the internet, and the fabulosity (yes, I just made that one up) of womanhood, did you hear about the Bloggess and her traveling red dress? If you’re a regular reader, you know that I think that The Bloggess is hilarious, although between the guffaws she’s also shared that she suffers from depression and anxiety. Just about a week ago she posted that she struggles with trying to control a self-harming disorder, and when she did, her readers and fans, in addition to passing along comments and virtual hugs, showed their support by donating to support her traveling red dress. To hear more about that, check out  the original red dress post with lots of follow-up updates, and here’s an article from Forbes.com (which made me laugh at the end, because the writer discloses that she bought a bunch of red dresses after researching the story).

And finally, in honor of future supremely awesome women, if anyone needs to be hooked up with Girl Scout cookies this year, it’s M’s first year selling them. If you’re local or family and want some thin mints at the end of the month, she’s your gal.

A Trader Joe’s, a Sense-able Movie, and Baby Yoga, Plus I CLEANED!

Wow, what a gorgeous day today! I hope you managed to get out there. It was perfect weather for me to dismantle my Christmas wreath–I often leave that for months, because it’s best done outside (pine needles everywhere) and it’s usually too cold. I also managed to put away all the rest of my Christmas stuff. It’s funny, because I love putting the tree and all the decorations up. But after all the holidays I love getting my house back to normal, too. It makes my teensy house seem spacious again.

As I was lugging the tree outside, there were still a couple of stray ornaments. One was this adorable little tin gingerbread boy. Luckily the tin clanged on our steps, so I found it. The other was one I chose to discard:

Okay, so what the heck is this? Cute W and I speculated that J tied this little candy cane to the tree. Festive, right? Except, look: it’s clearly been licked. What do you think she did? Did she start eating it, then get bored and she didn’t want to waste it? Or did she tie it on the tree, and then it looked so good she had to lick it a couple of times? The thought of our daughter pressing her face into the pine needles to get a little candy cane hit made us laugh so much that Cute W insisted that I take a picture for the blog. And here it is.

You’ve heard that Trader Joe’s is coming to Albany, right? At Wolf Road, where the old Office Max used to be.

The Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region is having another Sense-able Movie for kids with sensory issues on Saturday the 21st at 10 at Bowtie in Schenectady. The film is Beauty and the Beast, and if you want to go, you should reserve right away, because these fill up.

Breathing Room in Delmar has prenatal, baby & me, little kid, and big kid yoga classes starting up. Whenever I hear about baby stuff I like to spread the word, because I know it’s hard to find baby-centered activities.

We’ve got a busy day tomorrow! Ice skating in the morning, then Laurie Berkner, and a soccer game in the afternoon. Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

Links for You

I’ve been collecting links to share. And I’m too lazy to write. So, here’s what I’ve got:

I thought that saying I’m an organ donor on my driver’s license was enough, but apparently it’s not. So here’s a form for New Yorkers to fill out to register as organ donors.

I thought that this video, created by a girl with her sisters to support The Girl Effect, was awesome. Her mom must be so proud!

New Moon Girls has a list of Girls Choice Books.

Have you heard about Khan Academy? If you or your kids want to learn about something–math, art history, economics–there are tons of free tutorials.

The family of a woman who died of liver cancer on December 15th is collecting breast milk for her newborn baby Violet. They live in Dutchess County and there’s a drop-off spot in Coxsackie, but if I hear of someone collecting closer, I’ll update this. Update: Call 813-9290 or 788-7821 if you want to donate locally. This is a friend of a friend of that Katie girl whose blog you read, if that’s enough of a reference for you!

 

Capital District Family-Friendly Hikes Plus Rock Climbing, Gymnastics, & Ice Skating

Over the weekend,  The Daily Gazette included a list of Schenectady County hikes. I compared it to my list of Family-Friendly Hikes and realized that I was missing some, so I updated the page for you. At the bottom I’ve also included a couple of my favorite local nature-appreciation blogs as well, just in case you need a little inspiration.

Meanwhile, there are a couple of new businesses opening that offer physical fitness indoors where it’s a little warmer. When I was checking into the hikes, I stumbled on the TU’s Outdoor blog’s post on a new rock-climbing gym, The Edge in Halfmoon. There’s also a new gymnastics place, Cartwheels in Clifton Park, which is scheduled to open later this month.

Or maybe you’re excited about the cold, and you’re all about ice appreciation? Then I’m super-excited that the Empire State Plaza has officially re-opened the free ice skating rink. Yippee! Check out the details over at All Over Albany. Speaking of blogs sharing the free joys of winter, Nippertown‘s got the list of free concerts at Schenectady County Library. I will try to remember to add these to my listings as I go, but I’m linking up in case you want to mark your calendars for something special.

And completely off-topic, was anyone wondering how that Baby Eewok cloak-sewing went? No? Well, sorry. I’m showing you, anyway. Here’s one:

The second one, with its lovely pattern, is a little more formal (Eewok also borrowed an American Girl headband for this one). The seamstress elf who created both fashions sent little J some extra fabric scraps because she’d heard that J was crafty. J got to work immediately and put together a new blankie for Baby Eewok. It’s hard to make out in the picture, but the blanket is outer-space themed, with two stars cut from the cloak straps as well as a floral-ish planet.

J was super-excited to hear that there is an elf who loves crafting and Star Wars as much as she does.