The Lunar Effect

We are still in Costume Land, but tonight I remembered to take a break for my blog! What you see in this photo is a lot of Work in Progress, including Eli's H.E.R.B.I.E. helmet, face and shirt, and Lila's jelly bean label. I think we've got their costumes under control. When I'm through with this post, I'll be cleaning off the coffee table (currently covered in glitter and markers) and bringing down our ironing board. I'm wicked excited about our Greendale Community College shirts! Go Human Beings!
I'm glad the day is winding to a close because it's been a long one. The kids were extra crazy all day. Now I'm going to say something that 75% of you will think is nuts and/or heretical: I'm pretty sure it was an effect, at least in large part, of last night's full moon. Six or nine months ago, I would have thought that was crazy too, but then I started paying attention. There were days when the kids seemed inexplicably loony (pun intended).
I noticed on one of those occasions that there was a full moon that night. On a hunch, I started taking note of the moon whenever the kids had one or two of these spells of lunacy and, sure enough, they nearly always coincided with a full moon. Weird, right?!? We cannot fully understand the way that God made this world, hard though we try. But I figure, Hey, if the moon can control the ocean tides, it can have an effect on my children's brains.
Go ahead. Grab your pitchforks and torches. But don't bother bringing science with you. :)


Blogger Currently Unavailable

We are deep in the land of costume planning and preparation. This whole Make Your Own Costume deal is a lot of work! We've had a stroke of genius for the grown-up costumes. Doug, Renee, and I are making Greendale Community College t-shirts!
I guess you'll really only think that's awesome if you've seen Community.
Anyway, I will try to type up a real blog post tomorrow evening.
Below is my Blogger Currently Unavailable image.


Various Forms of Pain

A quick update on the Insanely Spicy Curry (i know you 've been thinking about it): On the first night, after we finished dinner, I drained the liquid off, added more peas, coconut milk, and a couple tbsp of yogurt. Doug ate some the second night and said it was much less spicy. Last night, I spent way too much time thinking about what to do, then pulled it out and served it again for dinner. I added some corn, a little peanut butter, and mixed it with pasta. It is now a different creature than what I started out to make, but it's rather tasty and can be eaten without pain. I won't have to throw it out after all!

On an unrelated note, I fell down our stairs today. Really, it was only about one-third of the way down the stairs, but it sounds better when I'm less specific. I must have cried out in surprise/pain/fear when it happened because both kids came running. Eli looked at me long enough to determine that I wasn't bleeding, then went back to what he was doing. Lila tried to help me up, but I was still in too much pain to move. If I wasn't going to let her minister to me, then she had no further use for me, so she also went back to what she was doing.

Thankfully, I'm fine except for some scrapes and bruises. But, as I was evaluating my injuries a little while ago, I was reminded of a funny story that happened to me when I was pregnant with Eli. As a matter of fact, I was two days away from my c-section, so I was really pregnant with Eli.

I woke up one morning to the sound of a naughty cat scratching the carpet. I sat up, spotted the guilty culprit, and grabbed the nearest squirt bottle. (We keep these handy all over the house.) I jumped out of bed and took off in pursuit of the cat, squirting water at him as I went. We had wood floors in that house... and I was running... and I was squirting water in front of me as I ran... 9 months pregnant... Jump to Doug's point of view--

He is in the kitchen, making his breakfast and doing Morning Things. He hears a strange sound from the direction of our bedroom and looks up, over the bar, in time to see his extremely pregnant wife come running into the living room and then disappear. The next thing he sees is said pregnant wife's feet in the air. He comes around the end of the bar to see me, flat on my back, laughing my ass butt off. He, being concerned for my well-being, was not as amused as I was.

I still can't tell the story without laughing so hard that I cry. [she says, as she wipes tears from her eyes.] I mean, really, what good is a story like that if you can't laugh at yourself?


Costume Construction

Construction has finally begun on the Halloween costumes. Lila will be a bag of purple jelly beans. Unfortunately, we can't really put that together until just before we go out. We got some letter stencils to make the label (I love this!): Lila Beans, purple jelly beans. The bag will be a transparent trash bag and the jelly beans will be small purple balloons. We took one of the balloons for the making of Eli's helmet (see photo).
Eli will be H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot, from Super Hero Squad. Doug and I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out the best way to make a realistic H.E.R.B.I.E. costume. Turns out, Eli doesn't care about realism. When we consulted him on costume ideas, he just wanted to wear a gray long-sleeved t-shirt, and gray sweatpants. Uh, that is way easier than the ideas we were coming up with to make him look like he was levitating!
We got black fabric paint to draw the lines on his belly and sleeves. Surprisingly, Eli did consent to let Doug make a cool H.E.R.B.I.E. head helmet. I'm just hoping he also consents to put it on when Halloween gets here. What you see in this picture is the beginnings of our first-ever paper mache project. He requested extendable arms, but I don't think we're going to be able to pull that one off. I don't think we have room in our budget for replacing our son's arms with robotic prosthetics.


Official name of my undertaking: No Waste Rules!

Until about 30 minutes ago, I was feeling very triumphant about our reduction of food waste. Now I feel frustrated! But I'll get to that later...
This is actually a photo of the dinner that I cooked on Wednesday: Roasted Tomato stuffed with Yellow Rice. I probably should have cored out more of the tomato before roasting, but overall it was a yummy dish. It made three dinners and one lunch. I have cleared out all questionable leftovers and produce, and fully implemented all of my new No Waste Rules! So, from this point on, I will be taking photos of any food that I have to throw out.
Which leads me to my frustration with tonight's meal. It is a Simple Green Curry... that is too spicy for anyone in this house except Doug to eat. I was exceedingly puffed-up by the time dinner rolled around because I had not only cooked a healthy meal, but even turned the excess kale into kale chips (shockingly tasty!), added the leaves from the excess bok choy to our salad mix, and put peanut butter on the excess bok choy stems. Our plates were full of healthy food and nothing except ends and pieces got thrown away!
Then we took the first bite of curry. I don't feel like going into what went wrong - it's too frustrating. Let's just say this was a learning experience. Doug enjoys spicy food, so he was able to finish his serving, but it was a bit much even for him. I ate three bites and couldn't handle the pain. I thank God that Doug took the first bite of his food before any made its way into the kids' mouths. There would have been tears!
I absolutely refuse to throw leftovers away on my first day of fully-implemented No Waste Rules!, so I am desperately trying to tame them down. I have drained off the liquid and added some more coconut milk (it's not the super-creamy stuff though - it's coconut milk 'beverage'), a couple tablespoons of plain yogurt, and more peas. It's still ridiculously spicy, but I might have managed to tone it down about 10%.
Nonetheless, I will not be able to serve this to my children again (or myself, for that matter) and that means going to the store again tomorrow and cooking another meal while leftovers that might or might not get eaten sit in the refrigerator. [sigh] I am trying to remind myself that it's not a big deal and I can't expect to get things just right all the time, etc. None of that is at all comforting to a raging perfectionist, however.
Hmm... maybe God has more than one thing to teach me through this new way of doing things...


Story Time

Man, I really enjoy sitting around with friends (old or new) and telling great stories! Our family had an impromptu cookout with our neighbors tonight and we had so much fun! The grown-ups sat around in lawn chairs and talked while the kids ran in, out, and around us. Each of us was doubled over with laughter at one point or another. And the best part is that we were just talking about life. We told stories about our kids, our childhoods, each other. 
There was no cussing (that I recall) and very little "adult" humor. The funniest things in life are the things that happen to us every day. I thank God regularly for giving me such a strong sense of humor because it makes life so much more... fun! There are countless moments in each day when something unexpected happens and we have a choice to make. It's a choice that's made in a moment, almost without thinking, but it's so important!

It's the day before your daughter's very first day of school... and your toddler son pours carrot juice into her brand new (and mostly white) school shoes. What do you do?
You could get angry and punish the child for making a mess. You could obsess about the money you spent and the impossibility of getting carrot juice out of white fabric. You could feel burdened by yet another item added to your to-do list.

Or, you could stop and appreciate the humor in the situation. What are the chances that your son would choose to pour his juice into someone's shoes, especially those particular shoes? (And who left the brand new shoes sitting out on the mud bench, anyway?) Is it going to hurt your daugher to go to school with slightly orange shoelaces? No. Will it make a great story to tell your mom-friends (and the kids' grandparents) later? Yes!

Should your son think it's okay to pour carrot juice into his sister's shoes? Absolutely not. Will he and your daughter both learn a great lesson from watching their mom confront an unexpected and undesireable situation with humor and grace? You better believe it!
For the record, this example is not theoretical. It actually happened to me a couple of years ago. I'm not saying I made all the right choices in that moment. As I recall, I stood in the hallway with my mouth opening and closing silently for several seconds, then began to freak out. Eli did not get in trouble, but he definitely understood that it was not okay to pour his juice into someone's shoes. The laughing came later, when I started doing one of my favorite things - telling a great new story!


Our Latest Adventure

I am a frequent reader of several blogs. Two of them, The Frugal Girl and Simply Being Mum, are chronicling their efforts to reduce and/or eliminate food waste in their households. I have read their posts with increasing discomfort for months now. I want to do the same, but I don't care much for change. I'm also bizarrely defensive about my grocery shopping habits. I get a little hostile if Doug tries to suggest that I should get a different brand of vegetable broth or buy a few less apples.
Well, I'm finally going for it! I am putting my own boundaries around it (naturally - since when do i ever do exactly what i'm told?), but I think it will be revolutionary around here. Once I have the routine figured out and the fridge cleared of all current crap, I will begin taking photos of any food that I end up throwing away. I will post those photos here and use my readers as my priests as I confess my wastefulness. (For the record, these Candy Corn Cookies are not being thrown out. They are just cute.)

Step 1: I am only buying the ingredients for one meal at a time. Too often have I bought produce several days ahead of a planned meal, only to find it rotted by the time I was ready to cook.

Step 2: I will not cook a new meal until the leftovers from the previous meal have been consumed. Too often have I found fuzzy leftovers in the fridge that I don't even remember cooking!

Step 3: I will not cook food that I do not intend to eat. This one is actually a bit difficult for me because there are (quite) a few things that I don't eat, but I know that Doug loves them. However, this leaves Doug in the position of having to eat all of the leftovers by himself. Too often have I thrown away food that only went bad because one person could not consume it quickly enough. I do recognize that I could just cook small portions of those items and I might do so from time to time.

Step 4: The children will be served leftovers. This one might seem like a no-brainer (ew. i just remembered how much i hate that phrase...), but here's what Leftover Night looked like in the Peeler house prior to this week: Doug - leftovers; Angela - maybe leftovers; Eli - frozen pizza; Lila - frozen burrito. The kids didn't eat the food when I served it the first time, so I didn't make them sit in front of it a second time. Well, that rationale is breeding poor eating habits and a (greater) sense of entitlement. Too often have I allowed my children to eat processed and non-nutritious food because I wanted to avoid an argument.

This may seem excessive or fanatical, but I'm not kidding when I say that one person (or maybe two people) could be sustained by the food that we throw away in this house. I can't stand it anymore. I will not throw out food that another person would literally kill for! I welcome anyone who wants to join me in this journey...



 I have really been enjoying my time in the kitchen lately. I have taken pleasure in cooking for quite some time, but my endeavours have gradually turned toward baking (which i used to avoid) and vegan cooking. Okay, the Sauerbraten (pictured below) is neither baked nor vegan, but it was an adventure all its own. I was terrified that I was putting a great deal of cost and effort into a dish that no one was going to eat, but people liked it! They liked it!
I can't say that my husband is particularly enjoying my newfound love of vegan food. He would rather have a hunk of meat on his plate. I don't have a great deal of sympathy for him, however, as I know how often he goes to Chuy's for lunch with his co-workers. Chuy's, which I can no longer eat. Curse you, Doug Peeler! It's a good thing I like you... Anyway, I figure I'm doing him a favor by giving his body a break from the animal products when we eat at home.
The kids could not care less. Really. It's not like they ate the food that I cooked before anyway! And, as it turns out, Lila loves brown rice and quinoa. That's fabulously healthy! As for Eli, we are ecstatic if he eats one bite of food at dinner. I truly don't know how he maintains that delightful plumpness. BUT... it seems that a batch of homemade cookies can erase a lot of bad memories. Who can complain about Roasted Tomatoes Stuffed with Yellow Rice when there is a bucket of Candy Corn cookies in the pantry?
Well, okay, the kids can. But they forget quickly!


A Fish Funeral

Our family had a little fishie funeral tonight. Lila's dear beta, Snowflake, finally succumbed to whatever was ailing her. Many tears were shed. We laid her to rest in a small jewelry box, tied up with a golden ribbon. We gathered around the hole (lovingly dug by Dad, right next to Hurley's resting place) and said our last good-byes by the light of a camping lantern. This priceless conversation followed:

Doug: "Lila, do you want to say anything about Snowflake? That's what people sometimes do... when they bury a pet."
Lila: "No."
Me: "We could tell stories about her. Like the other day when she tried to jump out of her tank!"
[silence, then]
Lila: "She used to like to play hide-and-seek with us."
[Renee had to bury her face here, to hide a laugh.]
Eli: "Yeah, but now she can't. 'Cause she died."
Lila: "Yeah. . . . Can I get a beta baby now?"
Me: "Let's finish saying good-bye to Snowflake before we start planning her replacement."

Later, after we had come back inside, I was getting some pre-bed snuggles from Eli. He was thoughtfully twisting my hair when he said, quietly, "It's actuwy kinda sad."

Yes, baby. Death is kinda sad. Even when it's only a fish.