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Easy Bake memories

By Robin Dearing
Monday, August 7, 2006

To celebrate the impending arrival of my husband's birthday over the weekend, I decided Margaret and I would bake him a cake. I'm not much of a baker, but I can follow the directions on the back of a cake-mix box like no one's business and I love cake (that is a huge understatement. Cake is one of my favorite foods. I like to start my day with a chocolate-chocolate chip muffin from the vending machine here at work because it's like eating a little cake for breakfast — and we all know that cake is the breakfast of champions). But after baking the cake and dumping a can of cream-cheese frosting on it, Mar and I decided that it was missing something. It just seemed all plain and regular. Being that my husband is far from plain and regular, we knew that his cake should reflect that. Ultimately we decided it was time to break out Mar's Easy Bake Oven. We used a package of store-bought chocolate-chip cookie dough (no, I didn't even make the cookie dough myself ... all that mixing, measuring and blending, it just didn't appeal to me. I'm a firm believer in the notion that the food that tastes the best, is the food cooked by someone else.) and pressed a huge spoonful of the dough into an Easy Bake Oven pan. Ten minutes later we had a big, round chocolate-chip cookie. We made big, round chocolate-chip cookies all afternon long — one every ten minutes. Mar became quite adept at loading and unloading the oven with the plastic pan pusher and filling the pans half way with cookie dough. I became adept at burning my fingers on the extrordinarily hot baking pans. EZ bake Mar.jpg We cut the round cookies into tiny squares and arranged them jauntily on the cake. In the middle of the cookie-baking process, I realized that I could have smushed the entire roll of pre-made cookie dough into a cookie sheet and baked it for 15 minutes and been done with it. But it was the joy of the Easy Bake Oven that made the afternoon so much fun. I had an Easy Bake Oven as a child. I loved it (yet, another understatement). Eating hockey-puck-like “cakes? made of dry cake mix and water is one of my cherished childhood memories. I•m actually surprised that I even stopped using it. I mean, with the Easy Bake, you can have cake whenever you want without having to turn on the oven. And since it’s just a little cake, you don’t have to share. I wanted to find a picture of what my Easy Bake Oven looked like (as it is markedly different from the microwave-oven-type Margaret has). I found this Web site that chronicles the history of the Easy Bake Oven from when it was first marketed in 1963 until today. The whole experience has made me nostalgic and I even considered bidding on the 1970s version of the Easy Bake I found on eBay. But then I realized that it's Margaret's turn to be the Easy Bake baker and handed over my oven mitt. 1 comments

Do you really wanna see?

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Saturday, August 5, 2006

Todd Powell shared this CNN story with me today. I guess I'm just surprised that people find this sort of thing offensive. I'm not saying breastfeeders should just pop one out whenever they feel like it but I do wonder when women say they hide a picture like this from their husbands. I'm mean what's the big deal? http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060804/od_afp/afplifestyleussocialbreastfeeding 4 comments

Outgrown

By Robin Dearing
Friday, August 4, 2006

As I read Richie's suggestion to one of our reader's about things to do with little kids, I was reminded of our last trip to the mall. It was early on Sunday. We trying to figure out if Bill's cell phone could be resurrected after being transported in the pocket of his damp swim trunks. (Note to RAZR owners: These phones have a serious aversion to water or dampness of any kind — just mentioning any kind of liquid in this cell phone's presence will send them into arrhythmia. Oh, and they have this little white dot inside the battery compartment that turns red if you so much as sneeze in the phone's general vicinity, thereby voiding your warranty.) Margaret is a notoriously unpleasant shopper. Even if we are shopping for her, she hates spending time among racks and shelves of things she cannot have. I promised her that if she would be patient while Bill took care of his phone, we'd let her play a good, long time at The Daily Sentinel play area in the mall. After being told that we were out of luck on getting Bill's phone replaced (but don't worry, the cell phone guy we bought the phones from is hooking us up), we dutifully trudged down the length of the mall to the play area. Mar happily stowed her flip-flops in one of the cubbies and began cavorting. As I sat on the benches within the play area, I noticed the signage explaining the rules and regulations. Included was a height guide denoting the height limit for the play area. I called Mar over and told her stand next to the height chart. Whoops. She was a good two inches over the height limit. I was shocked. She's just a little kid ... in my eyes. So that she's heading into the first grade and still reminiscing about her 6th birthday party is testament to the fact that she's not really a little kid anymore. I guess I'll have to get used to the idea that she's just a kid now. 0 comments

‘Dem Apples

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The baby food making is a huge success. I’m feeling all smug and Martha Stewarty about myself. I’ve blended up a cornucopia of Grand Valley’s best produce for my little guy. He loves food. His particular favorite is the Palisade Peach. This year’s crop is so juicy that after boiling in a small amount of water, I was left with an overly runny gruel. I thickened it with a bit of oatmeal cereal making it just right. When he eats it, I bask in the thought that I am the best cook ever and was smart enough to thicken it with baby cereal making it even healthier. Green beans are not his favorite, but I try to trick him by sneaking in some apples or sweet potato. I think he’s on to me but realizes the futility of such a fight. But maybe not because he is just learning that he can spit. Lucky me. Most days I can’t shovel it in fast enough. He eats like his dad. Like some other baby/daddy is going to come along and eat his blendered tator/juicy pork chop if they don’t hurry. Now, the EDL (evil dark lord for those who missed that entry) will grab at just about everything on my plate. I can’t hold him and eat anymore because his little paws are mushing around in my pasta or smacking my pizza out of my hand. Poor kid can’t wait to get teeth so he can try some tuna noodle. My smugness came to a screeching halt the other day. What goes in must come out and nothing had for a few days. I’ve been discussing how best to write this next bit with Robin. She suggested a disclaimer: (Disclaimer: The fact is some people are squeamish about words such as poop, but another fact is that poop is a crucial part of parenting, as I am just learning. I will do my best to proceed with tact but if you don’t like poop stories, stop reading now.) So, everyone was on poop watch. I wasn’t extremely worried but had taken mental notes of each diaper I changed. I changed a wet one and left to put the dirty in the bin and get a clean one. When I returned the poop watch was over. A dingleberry was a danglin’. And I mean a really stinky PlayDoh one! I had been warned that what goes in must come out….but I didn’t know it would make me retch! Things were a movin’….right before my very eyes. I couldn’t diaper that kid fast enough. I sat on the couch and thought with a mischievous smile: “When is your dad coming home?? 5 comments

In his own words

By {screen_name}
Wednesday, August 2, 2006

One more week before Alex returns to the continental U.S. Below is a mostly unedited version of our e-mail correspondence to date. Trust me - this is a pretty lengthy and detailed conversation for us! From: "Lynn" To: “Alex? Subject: Dude! Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2006 06:58:20 Wow! I'm having an out-of-body experience! I turn on my, I mean our, computer and there's a message from you on the blog! And a darn good one, too! Tell me more about what's happening! It's hotter than blazes here. I'm sad to report that the basil got burned up, but the tomatoes are doing great. I miss you. Say hi to Uncle Mark. Love, Mother of The Alex From: "Alex" To: •Lynn? Sent: Thursday, July 27, 2006 3:15 AM Subject: RE: Dude! first of all it is MY computer not ours. so it is like not too hot like 75ish here and we went fishing and berry hunting which was fun and i am going go hiking tomorrow P.S. your computer is the white one in the office which i will set up for u then we can have passwords and privacyem> From: "Lynn" To: "Alex" Subject: Re: Dude! Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2006 17:12:44 -0600 You're right. It is your computer. But it's MY internet access. And MY electricity. You can certainly use YOUR computer without MY stuff though! Still hot here. Got some stuff to fill out for PHS and they're having freshmen orientation August 10. I know - blah, blah, blah. Enough about school. Did you catch any fish? When do you go down to Juneau? I painted your room while you were gone. I hope you like pink. Love, Mom P.S. Why are you sending e-mails at 3:00 in the morning? Is it light all night? From: "Alex" To: •Lynn? Sent: Friday, July 28, 2006 2:26 AM Subject: Re: Dude! we•re two hours behind and we were just finished watching a movie no i hate pink and yes we caught some trout and ate them for dinner From: "Lynn" To: "Alex " Subject: Whatup? Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 12:06:52 -0600 Sorry about the pink. You'll get used to it. Trout sounds good. Did you get to gut and clean the fish? Love, Mom P.S. Dan says hi. From: "Alex" To: “Lynn? Sent: Saturday, July 29, 2006 12:28 AM Subject: RE: Whatup? no i didnt do it mark did.....................and tell dan i said hi too From: "Lynn" To: "Alex" Subject: Re: Whatup? Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2006 18:45:12 -0600 OK. Wrestled any grizzlies yet? Love you, Mom From: •Alex? To: •Lynn? Sent: Saturday, July 29, 2006 11:56 PM Subject: Re: Whatup? no grizzlys. but here is another one for the blog we were building a bear cage and mark gets a huge pole and slides it up on the chain link fence in the back of the pick up and it accidentally went through the back of the windshield shattering it. then as we are pulling the fence out he decides he needs a rest and says ready? and i start to say no but before i got to that part he drops all 200+ pounds on my foot. hows that for blog material From: "Lynn" To: •Alex? Subject: Re: Whatup? Date: Sun, 30 Jul 2006 17:50:46 -0600 Good blog material! All I can say is ...... OUCH! That'll leave a mark. Did Uncle Mark make you pay for the windshield? :) Did you get it replaced or do you get a shower every time it rains when you're in the car? Most important - why are you building a bear cage?? Holy cow. That's not something you do every day! Love ya, Mom From: •Alex? To: •Lynn? Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 12:29 AM Subject: Re: Whatup? no we built a new windshield. and there is this guy named steve who has this really cool zoo thing but not really a zoo. c it is like u go in and there are pens but he brings the wolves and porcupines and lynxes (among loads of other stuff) out and lets them walk around and then u can touch them. and he is getting an abondined ear cub Hmmmm, not sure what an "ear" cub is. Waiting for a response on that. There you have it. Think he's ready to host his own show on the Travel Channel? 4 comments

August kids

By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Ava Smith.jpg Introducing the newest member of the Smith household — Ava. 2 comments

Three weeks

By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Three weeks until school starts and my kid will start the first grade. It’s been a great, albeit hectic, summer. Our plans to finally finish painting our house went out with the bath water. So another summer has come and gone and our white-trash slip is still hanging below our skirt. We really have no excuse, Bill is an instructor at the campus formerly known as UTEC (now called WCCC) and has summers off. So theoretically, he had the time. But the theoretical world doesn’t seem to apply to us. We never had a minute to spare; most weekends were devoted to one obligation or another. And we filled our “free? weekends with activities designed to mend my always-fraying nerves. As I sit and reflect on the last two and a half months, I can•t even remember what we did that took up so much of our time. How does that happen? But there’s no time to lament the summer past, as we still have three weekends left. We’re going to be doing some more camping, swimming and bike riding. There will be more grilling and it’s finally time to eat peaches … ah, those glorious Palisade peaches. And then the heat will lift and fall will come. We will settle into our school-time routine and make plans for next summer. 1 comments

Good Eats

By {screen_name}
Monday, July 31, 2006

I’ve noticed since Alex has been away that I’ve been eating healthier. It could be coincidental with the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables at the farmer’s markets, but I’m also not buying Doritos, chips and that stuff that he gobbles up and I can't resist when they're in the house. Another plus, I have 4 tomato plants in my front yard which are going gang busters right now. I love the smell of the plants - total summer time! Getting anyone, especially kids, to eat more veggies is hard. But there are quick, easy ways to do it. These recipes are some of Alex’s summer time favorites and they’re perfect right now. Quick Pickles These really are quick. A day or two in the fridge and you’ve got a real treat. Slice about 5 or 6 pickling cucumbers. Either in rounds or spears. Place in a shallow container. Mix together: 1 cup hot water, 1 tbsp. kosher salt, 2 tbsp honey, and 3 tbsp cider vinegar. Add about 1 tbsp dried dill and pour over pickles. Stir to combine, cover and refrigerate for a day or two. You can also add a sliced onion, sliced garlic and a sliced, seeded jalapeno. Gazpacho Coarsely chop about 5 large fresh home grown tomatoes, 2 - 3 cucumbers, 3 peppers (red and green), 1 small sweet onion and a clove or two of garlic. Soak 2 slices of bread in about 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar. Add all of the above in batches to food processor with a drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Process just until smooth. If needed, add some V-8 juice. Chill for a few hours and yummy! Summertime Pea Soup In blender or food processor, place 4 cups frozen peas, slightly thawed; 2 cups low sodium chicken broth; 3 – 4 roughly chopped scallions, 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1 tsp. sugar. Blend until smooth. Serve chilled with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. Grilled Veggie Packets Coarsely chop your choice of zucchini, sweet onions, red or green peppers, mushrooms, garlic, tomatoes. Place in large pieces of aluminum foil and drizzle with Italian salad dressing. Fold up foil and pinch edges together (just so stuff doesn’t leak out) and place on grill. Grill for about 15 minutes over medium high heat, flipping packets every now and then. Any leftovers can be whirled in a blender with chicken broth for soup the next day. Grilled Vidalia or Sweet Onions Peel onions and cut out core. In the hole left from the core place some butter, salt and fresh ground pepper. Wrap tightly in foil and grill for about 15 - 20 minutes, until tender. These are really sweet because they caramelize while they’re grilling. Great along side steak or chicken or anything. All these are best done with local produce, of course. Palisade has a good downtown farmer's market on Sundays from 10 - 2. Also don't forget the one at the mall on Thursday evening in addition to the Main St. Grand Junction Market. If you have some ideas on how to get more fruits and veggies into your family meals I want to hear them! 2 comments

It’s Amazing Ain’t It????

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Friday, July 28, 2006

Before kids I'd hear people say "They grow up so fast" blah blah.....but just this week I've come to fully realize just what people have been talking about. Yesterday, my baby was sitting on my lap (he can almost sit up all by himself without support) and his cousin was sneakily sipping my soda. Soren reached out and grabbed the cup and started to pull as hard as he could. Being nine-months larger, she wrestled the cup from his bear hug pretty easily but not before he successfully snagged the straw. That made her cry in protest and him smile in glee. But then he poked himself in the eye and he started to cry too. The whole scene delighted me despite the crying of two babies. When did he learn to do that???? He's never had a drop of soda but he's figuring out that food tastes good. Plus to see him socially interacting with her amazed me. And, wow, did he ever have that cup in a two fisted wrestle hold. The one-year-old really had to work to get her way. I can see this is only the beginning of many wrestling matches between these cousins. Of course, they both lost the soda after that because frankly it was mine. Everyday my baby becomes more of a kid and less of a baby. It's bittersweet really. 3 comments

Learning new tricks

By Robin Dearing
Thursday, July 27, 2006

Last summer we took the kids to Disneyland and California Adventure. Mar disneyland.jpg This vacation was a big deal for us. Normally we visit family or go camping around here. So flying to Anaheim and staying in a hotel for a week was a big departure for us. Margaret was 5. She was old enough and, more importantly, tall enough to go on most of the rides. She was very excited about her first Disney adventure ... That is until we actually got on the rides. After getting off of the Matterhorn, Margaret stood firmly, arms straight at her side and gasped, "Why do they scare children?" And she was scared. Scared to tears. We literally took her kicking and crying on to some rides. I would smile and reassure the ride operators that she was just tired but very much looking forward to enjoying their fine attractions despite her pleas to be removed not only the ride but the entire state of California. But she ended up enjoying many of the rides. But not all of them — she never developed a taste for roller coasters or any ride that had characters with "mean eyes." She did, however, find a passion for rides that moved in a circle ... slowly. While exasperated at her fear, I remembered being scared of certain amusement park rides myself when I was her age. So instead of forcing her on rides she didn't want to go on, we repeated the ones she liked over and over again. And we had fun. Margaret is not fearless; quite the opposite, she's probably more fearful than most. We know that about her now. So we try to make sure she's prepared for new things. But most importantly we encourage her to overcome her fears and learn that trying new things and being brave is exciting and rewarding. This summer those lessons have born fruit. Every year we get season passes to Lincoln Park pool. Every year Margaret talks about going down the water slide. She's been tall enough for a couple of years but she always chickened out of actually going. Last Sunday she decided enough was enough and she was going to conquer the waterslide. Bill, Margaret and I climbed the (many) stairs to the top of the slide. We peppered her with encouraging words. It was decided that I would go first and wait for her at the bottom. Her dad would stay with her until it was her turn. I took my turn (this was also a first for me this summer, in that despite the fact that I go to the pool several times a week, this was the first time I'd actually gotten my suit wet this summer) and waited at the bottom, peering up the slide. I was expecting that she was going to be, at best, scared and making her patented fearful grimace; at worst, she was going to be crying. She surprised me. 7-23 Mar waterslide.jpg Margaret was all smiles. She loved it and spent the rest of the day climbing the stairs and gliding down the slide. It's one thing to see her growing taller and leaner with very speeding year. It's another thing to witness the emotional growth that is shaping her as whole person. 2 comments
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