Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cook's Helpers

(c) 2012 Ms. Huis Herself at musenmutter.blogspot.com

We've started a new thing here at the House of 42 Doors.  It's summer, you see, which means the girls and I are around the house & each other pretty much ALL DAY LONG.  We've got swimming lessons in the morning for now, and tumbling for one evening a week for 6 weeks, but that's it.

Do you know what happens when kids get bored? They bicker.  They whine.  They fight.  They get a TEENY bit annoying...even to their loving mother.

Now, I'm definitely all for letting them figure out what to do to entertain themselves much of the time, 'cuz boredom isn't all bad!  But all these hours DO allow for a lot more opportunities. Opportunities for them to learn some responsibility, some household skills, some LIFE skills.

One of those opportunities is getting to be "Cook's Helper."  I think strongly that if you eat, you should know some rudiments of cooking!  The girls have been alternately responsible for table-setting for a while now, but this is a new evening responsibility (aka chore).   

And they LOVE it! 

Sure, we're still a bit in the honeymoon phase, but while one child takes care of setting the table, the other is my assistant.  They get to wash potatoes (with a rubba scrubba),  cut up tomatoes (with a real, sharp knife... and a little more help for the 5 year old than the 7 1/2 year old!), wash lettuce and rip it up into bite-size pieces, choose between two different noodle dishes, cut up almost a pound of mushrooms, run out to the garden to get specific herbs, etc.  Heck, my 5 year old turned two carrots into carrot ribbons with a real vegetable peeler today!  

I'm right there.  I'm supervising.  I explain and demonstrate the task as needed, and I watch like a hawk at the beginning to make sure it's suitable and that I haven't misjudged the child's abilities, dexterity, or carefulness.

But you know what?   

They take it so seriously.  This is real work.  This is a genuine job that needs doing.  They respect their tools (especially the sharp ones) and use them with care.  They are so INVOLVED with their task.  My 5 year old spent probably 20 minutes carefully cutting up almost a pound of mushrooms with a butter knife.  (And then she thoroughly enjoyed eating them sauteed in butter with a sprinkle of salt!) 

They are learning so much - cooking skills, refining their dexterity and fine motor skills, gaining experience with unusual vegetables from our CSA, respecting potentially dangerous yet useful tools, and being contributing members of our household.

Yup, I think "Cook's Helper" is here to stay!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

(c) 2012 Ms. Huis Herself at musenmutter.blogspot.com

Happy Father's Day!

...to my father, Grandpa Pharaoh, for his humor, stories, explanations, and involvement thoughout the years.  I love you dearly and am incredibly grateful for you and your presence in my life!

...to my husband, father of my children, for his, ahem, "contribution," co-parenting, balance, humor, putting-to-bed and story-reading, big dreams and realism, and silliness.  Thank you and I love you, deeply.

...to my father-in-law, for helping to raise my wonderful husband, for his jokes, sense of humor, sense of proportion, and knowledge of what's important in life.  Also, on behalf of his granddaughers, for the minnows.  :)

...to all the fathers out there, for their love and attention, ball-throwing and owie-kissing, late night worries and early morning risings, chauffering to ball games and dance practice - thank you for your love and commitment to your children.

...to those who struggle to become fathers, with love and affection and hope and sympathy.

...to those who came upon fatherhood unexpectedly, or later in their children's lives, with love and affection and hope and sympathy. 

...to fathers who also serve as mothers, and mothers who are fathers, with an extra helping of strength & support. 

... to those who have lost their fathers, with sympathy on this difficult day.  

... to those who have fathers, wishing you joy in your relationship, or healing in an estrangement, and a reminder to give him a call today, before it's too late.

... and to all who have a special place in a child's life, who provide guidance and love and attention. Thank you for being there for them.

To all of you who so richly deserve it, Happy Fathers' Day!!!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

In Preparation for the CAMPING!!!

(c) 2012 Ms. Huis Herself at musenmutter.blogspot.com

We have our first ever family CAMPING! weekend coming up.  Both girls are very excited about the CAMPING!  In fact they are THIS EXCITED!!!

Now, we have done the tent-in-the-backyard business, and both girls have successfully spent the night sleeping in the tent, so we're good to go.  Last year we even got one of those big ol' 3 "room" tents.  You know, the kind that says they sleep like 8 or 10, but really fit 4-6 with stuff.  By "rooms," I should mention, they really mean, "we'll throw in these two extra pieces of tent fabric, cut-and-hemmed into a vaguely trapezoidal shape, with toggles at the edges that you can fit into these loops and sort-of separate the two sides visually."  I'd been thinking something more along the lines of zipped-in partitions, but whatever.... it was on SALE!

For years, some friends and friends-of-friends have done an annual camping trip to the north shore of Lake Superior.  They've been so kind as to keep inviting us, but it's always a weekend right around Pumpkin's birthday and the distance is a bit far, especially for a first family camping trip.  Well, this year one of their number decided to see if folks were interested in an additional, more family-focused camping weekend... and chose a campsite that's a mere 3 hours away from us.

My "yes please we'd love to" email response was both quick and overexcited.  :)

In preparation for the trip, yesterday we hauled out and set up the giant tent of doom.  I wanted to remember how to put it together, make sure we had all the parts, let the girls sleep in it overnight again, etc.  It's huge.  I'd kind of forgotten just how huge.  Sure, we just had our sleeping pads and sleeping bags in it, and none of the backpacks and bags and coolers and such that also are required for the actual CAMPING expedition, but it was... spacious.

...and missing one of the room divider pieces.  

I double-checked the tent bag, looked in a couple of pockets in the tent, & no luck.  Then Mr. Kluges reminded me that LAST year Penguin had pulled a little too hard on her room divider and one of the toggles had come off.  Possibly had I set it aside to fix it?

Of course!  THAT was it! No wonder I couldn't find it with the tent; it must be with the mending stuff 'cuz I hadn't done it yet.

No.  Not in the bag of mending or the other bag of mending.

Ok, had I put it in the hard-sided picnic basket where I keep the camping pots-n-pans and the lantern and such?  


...Maybe in the bench in the entry way that ends up with various ends and bits in it?

No, but maybe I'll bring along the kids' life jackets that are in there, since we'll be on a river & likely canoeing.

....The attic room?  The one I'm trying to turn into an away/craft space?  Dear Lord, I hope not; it's HOT and messy up there.

No, but it's slightly more sorted up there now.  Only slightly, but as the room divider is NOT a piece of paper, I'm pretty sure I would've found it.

I give up.  Either one of us will remember where it is, or it'll get to Wednesday and I'll panic and sew one up out of a sheet and some giant buttons or something.  Ok, fine.


The girls and I sleep out in the tent.  They don't fall asleep until close to 10 (WAY, WAY  late for them!), but are up bright and early at 6:30.  The weather looks iffy & there's a strong chance for showers in the early morning & thunderstorms later in the day, so I figure I might as well take advantage of being up SO VERY EARLY and take down the tent.  

....you'll never guess what I found UNDER the tent, 
between the floor and the tarp. 

Yup, there the whole time.  I must have virtuously fixed it right away and popped it back in the tent bag where it goes with everything else.  We pull out the tent this year to set it up, somehow (static electricity?) the room divider sticks to the underside of the tent floor, and, being so thin and matchy, we never notice.

Oh well, at least now I don't have to try to sew up another room divider after all!


Monday, June 04, 2012

Open Letter, 1st Back Porch Edition

(c) 2012 Ms. Huis Herself at musenmutter.blogspot.com

Dear Laptop,

I know we've known each other for less than 24 hours, but I think I like you.  I think I like you a lot.  Sure, we're going through a few getting-to-know-you quirks, like me learning how to type on your flat little keyboard instead of the ergonomic one on the old desk top, or the fact that I keep accidentally hitting caps lock.  But this touch thingie instead of a mouse is kinda handy, your screen is huge, and it's sure pleasant to be typing away sitting out on the back porch on this beautiful day.

Yup, I think we're going to get along just swell!

The Typist

Dear Hawks,

I miss you.  I know your nesting tree was blown over in that big storm that happened on the second day of school, but the sheer number of chipmunks, rabbits & squirrels we've got around here is just crazy.  Back when you were raising your young right next door, they certainly weren't so prevalent... or so BOLD!  Heck, the chipmunks just keep foraging around in the backyard when I hang up the clothes on the clothesline!  And don't get me started on the bunnies.  I mean, it was cute when I found that tiny hamster-sized baby one when I was mowing (fortunately for us all, he was hopping out of the way, but still...), but I do have a garden to defend.  

Also, I prefer your predations to those of the neighbor's cat (presumably), who likes those baby bunnies, or at least their heads, and leaves their decapitated little corpses next to our playground.  

The cycle of life says how 'bout you cycle your way back over to our neck of the woods?

Dear Hubs,

This back porch you've reconstructed sure is pleasant.  Sorry you have to be stuck at work on such a lovely day!  'Course, if you were here, you'd likely be pounding/cutting/smashing/building... and I'd be seeing not quite so much wildlife.

Your Wife

Dear Hawks,

Do you eat woodchucks?  'Cuz I forgot to mention our neighbor has a family consisting of at least one parent & 5 little 'uns living under his shed.  Little woodchucks are kinda cute, but I really don't think we want them deciding this area is great for an extended family paradise.

Yum Yum Groundhogs! 

Dear Stupid Across the Street (often drunk) Neighbors (most likely),

June is not July.  I know fireworks are legal in this state, but c'mon. Every night?  Last night was a Sunday night & you were shooting them off after 10 pm.  That's not cool.  Knock it off.  I will come over and politely ask you to stop.  Then, if necessary, I can politely call the police & ask them to ask you to stop.  How 'bout you just get a little more polite re: 10pm is quiet time & we'll all be happier, mmm'kay?

Seriously, have you no clocks?


Sunday, June 03, 2012

Shiny & New!

(c) 2012 Ms. Huis Herself at musenmutter.blogspot.com

I'm typing this on my shiny new laptop!  Woo-hoo! We were well over-due in getting something new - had been using a hand-me-down machine from my youngest brother.  Mr. Kluges had finally decided to create a desktop that could run some of the newer games he wanted...which meant he knew he'd be very protective of his new "baby."  So, today we popped off to The Big Blue Box Store (of course) and came home with one of their advertised specials.  

Still have a lot of figuring out to do with it & stuff to transfer over to here/put onto the portable hard drive/I don't know what else, but hey, it sure it fun to sit in the living room couch and post! Who knows...maybe it'll get me to post more often!