Saturday, April 30, 2011

Moroccan Night!

Before dinner:
It surprised me when Glenn picked Morocco for our first "dinnertime country" because I remember him telling me that of all the countries he has visited in his world travels, Morocco was his least favorite. Maybe he was just in an exotic mood the other day when he suggested it.

To complete my nervousness about preparing a lot of new foods and recipes, we are having dinner guests tonight. Thankfully, they are great friends and will still love us even if the food is horrible. (I have a feeling that it will be pretty good though . . . just a hunch.)

The main dish on the menu is a pork kebab. Now, WAIT! Before you get in a huff about pork in a Moroccan dinner, let me tell you about how expensive lamb is. It is VERY expensive. And I am tired of chicken. And I didn't know what kind of beef to get. So we are having pork. If our friends coming over tonight were Muslim, I certainly would have not considered serving pork to them. I would have sucked it up and shelled out the bucks for some nice lamb.

For those of you who took geography at public school like me, I wasn't exactly sure of the whereabouts of Morocco. Thank goodness for the internets. The main religion in Morocco is Islam (something I should have realized before I went grocery shopping ;) and the country is situated in the northern part of AFRICA, very close to SPAIN, which is in EUROPE. It almost looks like the two countries are about to kiss. It's just adorable. Tonight we will make a super big deal to our kids about the location of Morocco on our globe so they will never be embarrassed when a random late night talk show host approaches them for a quick "man-on-the-street" geography pop quiz.

The kebab meat is marinating in olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, lots of pepper, salt, coriander, cumin, garlic and fresh mint. On the side we will have a chickpea-tomato salad with parsley, onion and more lemon juice and fresh-baked authentic Moroccan bread. Erma is bringing her green beans and I have to tell you, her green beans go with anything. They are magical. And then for dessert we have Ghirardelli brownies . . . obviously not Moroccan, but I was at Costco yesterday and our friend Dave always swears he won't come back if I don't give him chocolate. I understand that fresh fruit is a common sweet ending to Moroccan meals, so we will throw some grapes, strawberries and clementines on the platter for good measure.

(I do feel just a little bit bad that I'm making homemade bread since Glenn is on a low-carb kick these days, but this will be a good willpower test for him. It's rising now and looks soooo gooood.)

After dinner:
Wow. That meal made the Top 5 Best Meals of My Life List. The flavor combinations were incredible. Our guests raved; one of my kids loved it. The other one took a lick of the pork and then refused to eat it after he got a big wad of mint on the tip of his tongue. (Mint is green. He doesn't eat anything green.) My husband told me it was "excellent" and you can quote him on that.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Operation Desert Moonbeam

Both of my children wet the bed. I am not telling you this to embarrass them, but to throw out my plan to help them as well as ask for advice or encouragement from anyone who have some to share. Many of my friends have told me that when their kids were daytime potty trained, the nighttime dryness just came naturally. Well, God bless them, but I need a bit more help.

It has been frustrating because my five year old used to stay dry every night until the end of last summer when we went on a trip and she had to wear a pull up for a few nights. We reverted back to betwetting and have never looked back!

The other issue is that both kids are very heavy sleepers and never even remember that I get them up to pee every night when I go to bed. Seriously, they are like cute little jammied zombies.

I did a little research and have come up with a five point plan to help them get over this hurdle.

1. Mandatory afternoon rest period. I know, I know that I should have been doing this before. If the kids are not as tired at night, perhaps they won't sleep so hard.

2. No drinks after 6:30. We often eat late, sometimes as late as 8:00, so this has been a challenge. Today is the day I start enforcing the rule.

3. Eat a portion of protein right before bed. One theory is that natural blood sugar levels drop during the night but since they can't eat while they are sleeping, they just go into a deeper sleep to accomodate the change. A bit of protein, like a spoon of peanut butter, a boiled egg or a piece of cheese before bed might help keep the blood sugar levels more constant so that they will wake up more easily.

4. Sleep with a bare booty. Not only will we lose the occasional pull ups, we will also lose the underpants, in hopes that it feels a bit different than normal and they may be able to feel the wetness sooner.

5. Set the alarm for 2:30 am and get them up again. I always take them to the potty when I go to bed, and this is going to hurt a lot, but I will also get them up in the middle of the night. One of the kids wets the bed twice every night, so I am hoping this will help.

Now, I am a big believer that bedwetting is in no way a behavior or discipline problem. The kids never get "in trouble" or shamed for wetting the bed. (**Rabbit trail alert** I wet the bed for quite some time myself. My bedwetting was a discipline problem because it always happened after I lied to my mom about going to the bathroom before bed. I never went and always told her I did. Sorry, Mom. I owe you big time.) Anyway, because of the kids' lack of control, I can't set up a rewards system for staying dry. It just disappoints them because it is an unachievable goal for them by themselves. However, I can reward them for trying! Each kid now has a chart to mark each of my five points each day. If they do or comply with everything on the chart for an entire week, I will take them to the Dollar Tree. If they stay dry, that's great. If not, so what.

Gee, I hope this works.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Confessional

I always thought "bouncing off the walls" was just a saying until I had children of my own . . . they really do bounce themselves off the walls. And the floor. And the couch. And the coffee table. And each other. If it's there, they are bouncing off of it.

I couldn't take it anymore, so they are parked in front of SpongeBob until further notice.

I took the kids to the mall today and we will never be able to erase from our minds what we saw there. Lots of Saturday people, milling around. Lots of skin, hanging out of clothes. And not in a pleasant way, if you get my drift.

I yelled at my kids several times this afternoon.

I had an indepth conversation with my daughter about the bottle we saw on the ground, tucked inside a paper sack, and how it probably got there. I told her it may have had something to do with the beggar we encountered in the parking lot. The beggar we ignored.

I forgot to get stuff for my kids' Easter baskets, so I lied to them when we were at Target, pretending that I was buying a couple of little things for their cousins.

I feel like a Bad Mom. And today I think I was. At least for a couple of (several) hours anyway.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

But tonight, tomorrow and every day of my life from now on, I will have chances to make right decisions. And I am forgiven when I don't. I have hope.

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5: 1-8

Jesus Christ has taken my sins away.

He has given me gifts to grow so that can I be a better Mom, wife, citizen, friend. So I can be holy in the eyes of God.

He is my Redeemer and He lives!

Easter is tomorrow and I am glad that I don't have a candy treat spectacle prepared for my children, care of the Easter Bunny. (They will get a little something, if any of you are worried.) I can't wait to wake them up while it is still dark and walk over to my neighbors' house to watch the sunrise over the mountains, and remind them of the story of our salvation. That all of us make mistakes and need redemption, even (especially) dear old Mom.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Interview with Charlie

We sat around the table for almost an hour tonight, chewing on our potstickers and talking up a storm. My four and five year olds ate nearly all of their food, without complaint, and never once asked to leave the table. Friends, a miracle happened at our house tonight.

I had a list of questions to ask everyone and this kept my crowd laughing, giggling and sharing . . . and asking for more. Charlie was the most hysterical, as usual.

When do you feel angry?
Charlie: I feel angry when someone does something bad to me, like won't let me have chocolate.

If you had to move and could only take three things with you, what would you take?
Charlie: Chocolate, Oatmeal and Mommy

If you received $5,000 as a gift, how would you spend it?
Charlie: I would buy a giant $100 dollar teddy bear. Then I would buy another giant $100 teddy bear. And then I would buy another $100 teddy bear, so I'd have three. Then I'd buy another $100 teddy bear . . .

Share a time in your life when you were embarrassed.
Charlie: I have never been embarrassed.

Talk about birthdays.
Charlie: Burp-days? Oh, I never burp.

What do you think about when you can’t fall asleep?
Charlie: I never have trouble sleeping.

What is the worst thing parents can do to children?
Charlie: Not letting them have chocolate.

If you could change your age, what age would you rather be?
Charlie: How old are you, Mommy? I would like to be your age.

What kind of animal would you like to be?
Charlie: A bat so I could eat moths.

Who or what makes you feel guilty?
Charlie: When you tell me I can't have anymore chocolate and then I eat more chocolate, then I feel guilty.

Do you ever feel lonely?
Charlie: I'm lonely whenever I'm not with you, Mommy. (aww . . . can I get you some more chocolate? anything you want . . .)

Bringing Back Dinner

Dinner time at my house has become not only boring, but also a huge frustration, a burden on my whole week. And it's not that I don't like to cook. Anyone who knows me knows I love creating with food. But we've got a few issues.

My family is full of picky eaters . . . every single one of us.

My husband doesn't like pears. Or dishes with anything resembling cream cheese, mayonnaise or cottage cheese. He likes garlic in his eggs, spicy hot vegetables and curry.

My daughter likes fruits and vegetables. As long as the green beans are raw and bananas aren't too ripe . . . or ripe enough.

My son likes bread, chocolate, candy, bread and chocolate. Oh, and candy.

I am more of an emotional eater than a picky eater, so I tend to ruin my dinner with snacks. Perhaps in anticipation of feeling like a failure at dinnertime and needing to soothe my ego's wounds?

The other major hurdle is that no one ever wants to come to the dinner table. The kids have already decided that they will hate the food and would rather play. My husband has his own business and has a lot on his plate (pardon the pun). Often when I ask him if he is coming home for dinner or working late with a can of soup he asks, "Well, it depends . . . what are we having?" IT DOESN'T MATTER! sigh.

Dinner has become a non-event.

A few weeks ago, I shared my frustrations with some dear friends at MOPS (that's Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting and they gave me some great advice. Why not have a family meeting and explain how you are feeling? Then let them get involved in the meal planning. Assign each night of the week to one family member and let him (or her) choose the dinners. Let them all be involved with the process and get excited about sharing their favorite meals with everyone. If people don't like a particular meal, then they can look ahead with hope since they will know that I will serve their favorite meals in only a night or two!

So, this morning I proposed this idea and they are all so excited! They even went a step further and want to pick a different country theme for some nights, when they will prepare for a special meal by researching cultures and customs and decorating the table to go along with their chosen country.

As you can probably imagine, I am thrilled. Dinner is back on the menu!

Here's what we've got going for the next couple of weeks:

Miriam's Friday: Potstickers, rice, broccoli and fruit cocktail
Dad's Saturday: Roast, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus
Charlie's Monday: French toast, bacon (from a pig), eggs and fruit
Mom's Tuesday: Grilled shrimp, sauteed veggies, garlic-butter pasta
Miriam's Thursday: Salmon, buttered noodles, asparagus and fruit
Dad's Friday: Morocco!
Mom's Saturday: Appetizer Night
Charlie's Sunday: China!
Mom's Monday: Greece!
Dad's Tuesday: Salmon and veggies
Miriam's Wednesday: Italy!
Charlie's Thursday: Japan!

P.S. If my mom is reading this, she might remember The Un-Game . . . we would go around the table answering questions, getting to know each other better and having a good laugh. We also had a "Golden Spoon Award" which was given every so often to a family member who had done something especially good that day. I just loved those times!