Works for Me Wednesday: Fresh Bread Crumbs

I don't know about you, but whenever a recipe calls for "bread crumbs," I always think of canned bread crumbs, and if I don't have any on hand, I improvise something roughly equivalent, smashing up croutons, or toasting and crumbling stale bread or some such thing.

Last time I made macaroni and cheese, though, I did it a little different. Instead of using dried bread crumbs for the topping, I minced up a few slices of sandwich bread, and tossed them with melted butter before sprinkling them on top of the casserole.

It was absolutely amazing. When it came out of the oven, the crumbs were crispy and light and oh-so-delicious. This is something we'll be having much more often around here, now that I've figured this out.

The whole family loved the results, but I must say that Isaiah was rather disturbed by the process. When he saw me chopping the bread, he scolded me soundly.

"That's not garlic! Bread's not for cutting, Elena-man."

That's Mama to you, buster!

For lots of great tips, be sure to stop by Rocks in My Dryer.


the pause that refreshes

I flopped down, exhausted. Maybe, just maybe, I would have a few minutes before it all started again. Potty training three at a time wasn't part of the plan, it just happened that way. When the time came to start potty training, life was upside-down with the move. And by the time things had settled down enough to start training one kid, suddenly all three of them were ready. Ready... and unwilling to wear diapers.

All three of them caught on quickly. It was a breeze. They knew when they needed to go, just went straight into the bathroom, used the regular toilet, washed their own hands, flushed the toilet five times, unrolled the entire roll of toilet paper... basically everything you could ask. All that was left for me to do was hand out the "potty treats."

Problem was, even though they were doing everything else, handing out those potty treats was becoming a full time job. Suddenly my children, whose bladder and bowel habits had heretofore seemed fairly normal, all developed a strange disorder requiring them to use the bathroom at least every five minutes. It was a fiasco.

So I put away the potty treats... but if there was no candy involved, they couldn't be bothered.

I was okay with this. I put them back in pull-ups, and we were just half-way there for a while. Sometimes they would use the potty, sometimes they wouldn't. I thought I could live with this. They'll learn eventually, we can just take our time.

There is just one problem with "half-way potty trained," however. You see, there are two important parts to the process. 1. Taking down your pants, and 2., sitting on the toilet. For my kids "half-way there" means that they have 1 down perfectly, just not 2. And that's pretty much a nightmare.

No, as a matter of fact, half-way there is most definitely not something I can live with. I've got to make this thing happen. So I have the timer running, and when that timer goes off, they are sitting on the potty whether they like it or not.

By the time I've prodded the third toddler through the bathroom routine, it's almost time to start all over again.

Almost. But there were a few precious moments left before the buzzer went off again. And oh, I needed them bad.

"Mama, I want sit on you lap."

No. Not right now. Absolutely not. Mama needs a break.

But then she gave me that nose-squinchy smile of hers, and I melted.

Yes, baby-girl, climb right up on my lap. A few minutes cuddling you is exactly the break I need.


The limitations of crochet

"Whatcha makin', Mommy?"

"Well, I don't know if it's going to turn out yet, but I'm trying to make a sash."

Nathan thought about it for a few seconds.

"Can't crochet a zoo, huh? And you can't crochet walls."

And indeed, I do believe he's right.

I think the sash will work out just fine, though. =)


Pardon me if I type a little slower than usual...

Saturday we hosted a "Homerathon" for Andrew's 9th grade humanities students, in which we read (most of) the Iliad from noon until 8pm. Nothing like the 20 hour sessions Reynolds has every fall, but 8 hours was quite daunting enough for a bunch of high school freshmen. It was hard for a lot of them, but they did great. All in all, it was a smashing success.

A little too literally.

15 high schoolers in your living room can produce a rather enormous amount of trash. I should have just piled the bags up in the garage. I should have. Oh, how I should have.

But instead, I went out through the garage, to the trash cans in the side yard. And this meant opening the garage door.

I never open the garage door. I mean, I open the door from the kitchen to the garage all the time, but the big huge rolling crashing monstrous metal thing between the garage and the driveway scares the daylights out of me. As far as I'm concerned, the only way in or out of the garage is through the kitchen.

But I needed (or thought I needed) to get to the side yard, and both the front and back doors were off limits, unless I wanted to carry the trash over the kids' heads. So I cautiously lifted up the clanging aluminum mass, and slipped underneath.

Perhaps my caution was my undoing. The door didn't catch, and before I'd had a chance to pull the trash bag out behind me, the thing began clattering back down again, as I frantically fumbled about for the handle.

I was reaching up for the handle, when suddenly I found myself crouched down on the driveway, with the middle three fingers of my left hand firmly wedged inside the door. It's a bit hard to describe, but you know how garage doors are made up of a bunch of horizontal slats, all hinged together? This allows the garage door to bend when it goes up. When the garage door is up, there is space between the slats where it is bending around the corner, but when the garage door falls back down, there is no space at all. That non-space was precisely where my fingers were. And since my fingers normally do take up space, that was something of a problem. A very, very painful problem.

After an endless three seconds or so of fumbling, I eventually found the handle, and hoisted the beastly thing up with my right arm.

I got my fingers out, and they don't appear to be broken. At least, I can move them without too much difficulty, and there's no noticeable swelling. Just pain. Quite a bit of pain, in fact. But I'm okay.

And I'm never opening a garage door again in my life.


WFMW: Brown Jasmine Rice

We're addicted around here.

Sure it costs a bit more than regular rice, or even regular brown rice. Okay, several times more.

But oh, the flavor! Oh, the texture! It's worth every penny.

And you know what? I think it actually saves us money. Because rice--even super-yummy specialty rice--is still one of the cheapest ways to eat. And we eat a lot more rice now.

When you can't think of anything you'd rather munch on than a bowl of leftover brown rice... well, you know you're onto something good!

Works for me!


Making a Remember

This morning Nathan was reminiscing about September's birthday party on Sunday. Nathan loves to reminisce, in a way that none of our other children do, and actually, in a way that I've never seen anyone do. Memory is such a rich and vital part of his experience of life. I suppose it's that way for everyone, but Nathan is openly aware of memory in a startlingly multi-dimensional way. He remembers events and their significance as one, and he slowly learns from the key moments of his young life as he ponders them again and again. "Remember when I went to the hospital, remember?" Slowly the memories of terror and pain and the strange men in white coats who tied him up and tried to feed him to a bizarre machine with the gaping, perfectly round mouth that growled with a sharp whir... slowly all that has given way to memories about the nice doctors who took care of him when he got hurt, who know how to help people get better, and who tried to take pictures of the inside of his head with an amazingly cool machine. And above all, memories of sitting on Mama's lap and watching Shrek while Mama stroked his head and whispered to him about how much she loved him. Nathan holds memories before him in all the fullness of experience, and goes back to them time and again, exploring them and redeeming them. I guess you could say that he dreams out loud.

At any rate, this morning, Nathan was reminiscing about the birthday party, and how we had a cake, with "sparkles in the number two." Remember? Remember?

Together we opened up a can of orange juice concentrate, and Nathan poured the three cans of water into the pitcher. And Nathan wanted a special number two cup.

A special number two cup?

Did he mean the disposable cups we'd used at the party?

Well, sort of. When I pulled out a cup, that was all fine and good... but we had to put a number two on it.

So I pulled out a sharpie, and drew a big "2" on the front of the cup. Nathan nodded approvingly, and instructed me that I was to now put an O on it. So I did.

Nathan took a long, slow sip of his orange juice, and grinned up at me beatifically.

"Makin' a remember!"