Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dinner from leftovers

Have I mentioned that I like to cook? I do. A lot.

If you're ever faced with leftover salmon, try this:

Greek Salmon Cakes

Mix together leftover cooked salmon (baked, roasted, poached, whatever), chopped scallions, chopped dill, crumbled feta cheese, a squeeze of lemon juice, some breadcrumbs, an egg, and a dollop of mayonnaise.

Form into patties with your hands. Coat the patties with more breadcrumbs. Put on a plate in the refrigerator for an hour or more. (This keeps the patties from falling apart when you saute them. I often do this in the morning for that night's dinner.)

Just before dinnertime, saute the salmon cakes in olive oil until golden brown. Serve with a lemon- and dill-spiked mayonnaise or thick yogurt.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Spilled milk (or juice)

Why, oh why do I have such a problem with spilled drinks?

I know that the rational reaction when a five-year-old topples a cup of juice is a resigned "Oh well." And yet -- despite myself, before I even realize it -- I say something that clearly shows my exasperation and, I'm sure, makes W feel like crap for having knocked over his cup.

Bad mommy. Bad, bad Crabby Mommy.

Even worse, over the weekend W and I were baking, and when he sailed the bowl of dry ingredients -- which he had carefully measured and dumped in and whisked -- onto the floor, I actually screamed at him. He cowered and cried and took off for his room. And my husband was furious with me. I felt pretty bad too. I cleaned it up (between the Dustbuster and a wet sponge it took all of two minutes) and then went to apologize to W, and we finished the baking without incident. But I felt like shit for making my kid cry.

When, actually, can one expect a kid not to knock over cups and bowls with regularity? How old? I myself haven't done it more than once or twice in the past decade, so yes, I feel confident that we do outgrow the tendency eventually. E, at eight, hasn't knocked anything over in -- well -- okay, I don't think he's ever done it. He's just not that kind of kid. He's a careful one. Also not a good frame of reference for me. I think W pays for E's off-the-curve behavior in more ways than this, because I am not properly conditioned. My expectations have not been set appropriately. That's really the problem.

My brother always complained that I didn't do enough to break our parents in when I was a teenager. Maybe this is similar. I can hear it in W's therapy 20 years from now: "My goddamn goody-two-shoes brother. He never spilled his milk, so every time I did it -- I was five, for chrissakes! -- my mom made me feel like an idiot."

So the problem here is clear. Must learn to control reactions with respect to spilled drinks. How to do? Some thoughts:

1) Spill a few myself on purpose, just to even things out.

2) Time cleanup -- why get worked up over something that takes a mere 15 seconds to swab?

3) Figure out a canned speech for the moment of distress: Wow, the floor/counter/chair/table must be hungry/thirsty!

4) Maybe I should start doing affirmations. I will not yell at my kids for spilling milk. I will breathe deeply when the flour flies. I will not give my kids any more reasons to hold their shortcomings against me. I will start saving for their therapy funds tomorrow.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

First words from the Crabby Mommy

It's a little of a misnomer. I'm not always crabby.

But more often than I'd prefer, these days.

I thought perhaps if I spent a little more time reflecting I'd have less time for the actual crabbiness. And less inclination. I find that crabby becomes a habit, and it's a habit I'd like to break.

Today was an ultra-crabby day, at least until about 2pm. More on that later. Now, think about the good things, focus on the good things.

Friday was a near-perfect day with my kids. In the morning, an inspiring Multicultural Day at my eight-year-old E's school, where each kid in his grade chose a country, dressed up as a child from that country, prepared a poster and other audiovisual materials, and memorized a five-minute speech touting the country's highlights.

"Hi, my name is Blake," began E's presentation. "I am from Ireland, and I live in the capital, Dublin." He went on to list the leader's of Ireland's government, natural resources, major religions, popular foods, a complete encyclopedia entry. Around him his friends were doing Russian folk dances, reciting French poetry, that sort of thing, dressed in costumes ranging from the extremely authentic (India, Turkey) to the extremely creative (the orange bath towel for the Thai monk). Despite the fact that it was sunny and windy and dry, and the kids had to stand there and recite their reports in a continuous loop for two hours, they were unflappable and absolutely enthusiastic.

I went from that to a really idyllic afternoon with W, who is five and alternately fantastic and infuriating. I never know which kid I will get at the end of the day. But on Friday we went from school to the nursery near our house to buy plants for our summer vegetable garden. He was so into it, the whole process, soup to nuts. He picked out all the plants himself, insisted on putting them all in the cart. He helped me carry them from the car to the backyard. We only had 45 minutes until his t-ball practice, but he said we absolutely had to get started on the planting, and he was efficient and effective: picked the spot, dug the holes, gently removed the plants from the plastic pots, broke up the roots, put the plants in the ground, held them with one hand while he filled in the hole with soil, tamped down the dirt, put the stakes in so we'd remember what we planted. We worked in parallel, which I never expect with a child this age.

And then we went to t-ball practice, where he had fun, no whining, got me out on the field chasing balls, which I suppose was good for my chemistry, emotional as well as physical. After which we went home and he forewent (?) dinner to finish the planting. Dad and E came home from E's gymnastics workout and they brought their dinner outside to keep W and me company while we finished in the garden. The plants were growing, the sun setting, the day and week ending, and I was in a better mood at bedtime than I had been for weeks.

So why aren't there more days like that? And even if there haven't been in the past, how can I create more days like that?