Monday, May 9, 2011

It Didn't Exactly Work

I have to admit it.  My goal of 31 blog posts in May may not be possible.

I could post every day but I feel like I'm taking the fun out of blogging.  I couldn't think of a thing to write about today except possibly another post about our caterpillars (They're getting so big!)

This was supposed to be fun so I'm going to let it be fun again.  See you in a day or so.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day - Two Stories

I've been looking forward to blogging today.  But this is the third try because somehow I can't seem to capture the essence of Mother's Day.  I've decided to tell two stories that seem to capture it pretty well.

Both of these stories took place at "our park" which is our nickname for the park in our neighborhood.  It's a great park.  The equipment is just OK, but Sarah always seems to make a friend there, and I do too.

-Story #1 - A family had brought some bubbles to the park and the dad was making big bubble storms for all the kids to run through.  (Another perk of "our park" is that everyone in the neighborhood has an unwritten rule that everyone should share everything.  Most people just leave their sand toys there all the time for everyone to use. The bubble storm was for everyone.)  Another mom and I started chatting and, within about two minutes, we were in a deep conversation about what would be the ideal schedule for working vs. raising kids as we pondered the possibility of a life without mom guilt.  We both shared that our husbands were probably better suited to being the "mostly stay-home" parent but that isn't how it worked out.

This woman was a total stranger, but also sort of not after a minute or two.  One of the absolute best and unexpected joys of motherhood are these new instant friendships, and most especially the new instant friendships that have become lifelong friendships.

-Story #2 - There was a man at the park hitting golf balls.  This is not a usual activity for our park because the park is rather small if it seems highly likely that you could bonk a small child on the head.  The mom from Story #1 and I theorized that the man had been sent to the park with his kid and brought his golf stuff along thinking it would be boring at the park (which it sort of is but suck it up, dude.)  This theory was confirmed by the bubble-dad who went over and asked after he had to stop blowing bubbles because he was getting lightheaded.

After a while, golf dad's kid got bored and started to run after the golf balls.  Sarah joined right in and ran over to get a sand bucket to help gather up the balls.  As the kids ran around with the bucket collecting the balls, I thought to myself "I hope this dad doesn't decide it would be a fun idea to try to chip the balls into the bucket while the kids are holding it" which is exactly what happened as I'm sure you predicted right along with me.

So - I went over and got Sarah and said "Come on honey, this is not a good idea."  I think she must have agreed because she followed me right away.  At this point, golf dad walked over and wanted to demonstrate that the golf balls were made of plastic and would not hurt.  He emphasized this point by throwing a golf ball at me and saying "See?  No problem."  In what felt like an out-of-body experience, I let him know that if he hit my daughter with a golf ball, we were actually going to have a very, very big problem.

Nobody messes with my child on Mother's Day.  Or any other day for that matter.  It wasn't until hours later did it occur to me that he had actually hit me with a golf ball but somehow that seemed OK in comparison to him hitting Sarah with a golf ball.

We had a great day, Sarah and I.  Even thought I did think it would be nice to have a day to myself, I am very glad I got to spend the whole day with my wonderful daughter instead.

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

How about taking a brisk walk?

I have writer's block today.  I tried to think of something to blog about and I have come up empty.  I still want to achieve my goal of 31 blog posts for May so here I go anyway.

I'm thinking about the many conversations I've had with students about their writing.  I feel somewhat guilty that, just like lots of them, I am unwilling to really do anything to break out of this block.  I'm don't want to make a list, look through other things I've written, or take a brisk walk.  (Actually, I would love to take a brisk walk but I'm home alone with Sarah who is upstairs asleep so this isn't really an option according to DCFS.)

Sorry former (and current) students -- those suggestions are rather annoying after all.

But I suspect one of the reasons I can't think of anything to write about has something to do with this -- everything is just fine.  I'm glad for that.  It's boring, but I'll take it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

They're Here!

I bought a butterfly garden a few weeks ago.  It is a glorified mesh laundry hamper with a handle so you can hang it up or carry it someplace to release the butterflies.  I suppose you could also walk around the mall with your butterflies but I'm guessing they would not like it much.

The best part of the butterfly garden is the coupon which allows you to send away for live caterpillars. The caterpillars arrive in the mail with instructions that tell you, in a variety of different ways, "Don't worry, they're probably not dead."

Our caterpillars arrived today during one of the two sunny hours of the day.  Yay!!  This was without a doubt the most fun thing to arrive in our mailbox ever.  And boy, those caterpillars sure did look like they were dead.  Now, a few hours later, 4 of the 5 are perking up and crawling around the little jar.

Oh yeah - I forgot to mention I bought this for my child.  She likes it too.  Stay tuned for caterpillar updates...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother's Day - Part II

I'm really struggling with the Mother's Day ads this year and I'm sad that I still feel sad.  

When she was alive my mother was not a fan of Mother's Day which she referred to as a Hallmark Holiday.  She liked getting cards though, and she liked it when we all came over.  

Sarah does not remember her but she misses her anyway and sometimes mentions that she really wishes she could have a grandma.  I remind her of all the people in her life who love her but I know this sounds insincere, even to a five year-old.  I wish she could have a grandma too.

Yesterday I noticed that a lot of people on Facebook have changed their profile pictures to a picture of their moms.  This is a nice idea I suppose but I'm not doing it because my mother wouldn't like it.  She was very private.  She was also not big on technology -- she didn't pump her own gas or even use the ATM very often.

So, the ads.  The ads remind me that Mother's Day is a Hallmark Holiday after all and, although I believe she is in a better place, I know mom would rather be here this Mother's Day, and I miss her every day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Recipe our Whole Family Ate

This is a secret about the Polley family.  OK - Maybe is isn't a secret but I tried to make it seem more mysterious or something.  Here goes:  The three people in our little family generally don't eat the same things for dinner.  It has a lot to do with me trying to eat healthier foods and not eating much meat, Eric working strange hours and preferring a diet of pot pies, and Sarah being having a bit of a narrow palate. (I stole that narrow palate thing from another mom - don't you love it?!  Sounds so much fancier than picky eater.)

Anyway, I made this recipe a few weeks ago and everyone liked it.  I love making things in the crock pot because it gives me a feeling of accomplishment when I walk into the kitchen and something is cooking.  I realize that posting a recipe makes this even more of a mom blog.  Oh well.  Here it is!

Peanut Butter Pork Tenderloin

1 1/2 - 2 pounds pork tenderloin or pork chops (you can also use boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
1 onion, sliced in rings
1/3 cup soy sauce (you could use the low sodium)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbl. white whine vinegar
3 tbl. water
2 garlic cloves chopped
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (The original recipe calls for the natural kind but I used the cheap store brand.  I think you could use soy nut butter if peanuts are an issue.)
2 tbl chopped peanuts for garnish (I'm skipping these next time because the can of nuts was too tempting.)
1 lime cut in wedges for garnish (kids love squeezing lime wedges)

How to make it:
Place the onion in the bottom of the crockpot.  Put the pork or chicken on top. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, water, garlic and then put the peanut butter on top in dollops.  Don't worry about stirring or anything (although you will feel nervous because it looks pretty awful at this point.)  Cook it on low for 8 hours or high for 4 - 6 hours.  An hour before you want to eat, open the crock pot, flip the meat over and stir everything around.

An hour later, you're done.  Now I've also made it into sort of a "pulled pork" or "pulled chicken" by taking the meat out and shredding it with two forks and then sticking it back in the sauce for a few more minutes.  I also plan to put in some shredded carrot next time because the Meal Makeover Moms always do that.  Serve it with  rice and squeeze some lime juice on top of each serving.  Yummy!

And this is the 4th blog post in a row for May - Whoo-hoo!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fine Thanks!

I had an appointment today with my allergist.  I go to her office monthly to get shots which are given by some nice chatty nurses but I only have to see the doctor about once a year.

I had a busy morning of teaching and talking to various students (including one who seemed genuinely excited that he still might be able to squeak by with a D-.)  Even though the morning was fine, I had a headache when I headed over to my appointment.  The nurse who takes my blood pressure asks the same screening questions every month, including one about whether or not I am in any pain.  I was stupidly excited because I realized this month I could mention my headache and I also stupidly (and incorrectly) thought they would offer me some Tylenol or something.  Apparently the nice chatty nurses just ask about your pain to make conversation.

On the way over to get my shots, I mentioned in an equally chatty fashion that I had an asthma attack while I was teaching and my students seemed quite relieved we could take a break from discussing The Aeneid so I could have a little shot from my inhaler.  Funny! Or not.  The nurse stopped walking and said "Oh my God!  Are you OK?"  Clearly I was OK since after the asthma thing I taught for 3 1/2 hours and then drove 45 miles.

After the remaining nurses took turns asking me if I was OK, they zipped me in to see the doctor who asked me if I was OK.  (Apparently this question is a powerful diagnostic tool.)  After the doctor actually examined me she determined that I was OK and she started asking me why I had the asthma attack.  I answered that I must have been allergic to something.  She smiled and said "Hmmmm!" which I took to mean that that was not the right answer.  She asked a ton of other questions and I answered those wrong too.  She seemed to get increasingly irritated when I kept mentioning my allergies despite the fact that she is, in fact, an allergist.

I tried changing the subject a few times and finally mentioned that Sarah was playing t-ball.  Bingo!!  And I was outta there with the usual collection of samples including (score!) a fancy new neti pot.  (You have to have allergies to fully understand why a neti pot is exciting.)

I feel very fortunate that I don't get sick very much.  I also feel fortunate (or something) that I can't spend very much time thinking about it if I do get sick.  The allergist was annoyed that I didn't have better personal health insights but I actually felt fine and she eventually did begrudgingly admit that maybe just maybe it was some allergy thing after all.

The main lesson was, when they ask those screening questions, I should just keep my mouth shut or I'll have to come back next week for the shots they refused to give me this week and I'll have to pay another three bucks for parking.

I'm OK.  You?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mother's Day - Part I

In an scientific survey I conducted while standing around the playground with a bunch of moms the other day, I was able to determine the following:

For Mother's Day, 9 out of 10 mothers would appreciate a day off from being a mother.

We -- I mean THEY mean no disrespect to our children who we love more than anything on this planet.  They hold no grudges about the permanent damage they have endured from stepping on a Lego in bare feet.  They can hardly think of a more enjoyable way to spend an hour than the hour they spent digging through the contents of the vacuum cleaner bag searching for a Polly Pocket shoe.  They really don't mind cutting off crust from sandwiches or even picking through an order of rice from Chipotle with a tweezer to remove all the green stuff.  It is their pleasure to do just one more load of laundry because the very important Star Wars t-shirt was found stuck under the hamper at 10:15 pm.

Having said that, they would accept a day off from those things and instead spend time getting dressed alone and drinking a whole cup of coffee while it is still hot and then maybe reading a book.

Realistically, they know this is not likely to happen, and even if it did, the person entrusted with the kids for the day would eventually bring them back totally exhausted and all of the benefits of the relaxing day off would fade away faster then you can say "Mommy, I left my favorite doll at the museum and I can't go to sleep without her and the museum is closed until Tuesday and daddy gave me three brownies and I feel like I might throw up."

My research further indicated that the people who market Mother's Day gifts know they are not selling what mothers would really appreciate but they're hoping the moms will agree to settle.  And the moms would not trade being a mom for anything else, and by the way, thanks for the flowers.  They sure made our day.

Play Ball!

(Side Note - I am planning to blog every day in May.)

Sarah is playing t-ball this spring.  I was never involved in organized sports (or any other sports for that matter)  so signing her up for something like this took a while.  Sarah ended up on a team with only two other kids she knows.  Initially, this caused me great anxiety but she was totally fine with it so there you go.

There are only two girls on the team.  This seemed like a disadvantage but boy, it sure is not.  The brave, patient, kind coaches have got to find it nearly impossible to tell the boys apart.  As a result, when they need anybody to do anything, they just say "Hey Sarah, you want to practice batting?"  "Sarah, do you want to practice throwing with, um, that kid?"  "Nice hit, Sarah!"  

And she eats it up.  

The other girl on the team is a born athlete.  When the team was practicing throwing, the other kids would cower and duck when she fired the ball in their general direction.  When playing first base, she made damn sure to tag each batter when the ball eventually made its way to her, despite the fact that there are no outs in t-ball.  She slid into home plate when she was up to bat.  

Girl Power!!

The game itself was fun and the kids really seemed to try very hard.  It is very cute to watch.  The batting helmets look enormous on their heads.  The coaches seem to be working very hard to teach the kids baseball skills and Sarah can already throw a ball much better that I ever have. The "high fives" and "good games" the teams passed to each other at the end of the morning are very sincere.  

Stay tuned....