Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Museum… of HORROR

As previously noted, we took the kids to the Museum of Science last week. I don’t know if you know this about me and Andrew, but we’re kind of into science. So to say that we have been looking forward to this trip since Jack was born is to understate the matter. It’s been way longer than that.

It was everything I had dreamed it would be except that we didn’t have nearly enough time to see everything. But both kids even sat through some of the lightning show without crying, instead calmly asking to leave when the noise got to be too much for them. We also saw dinosaurs, model boats, windmills, robots, computers, an enormous model grasshopper, baby chicks, and a bunny, among many other things.

Did you notice how I snuck “giant model grasshopper” into that list? That was an exhibit on how a model of an object can be bigger or smaller than the actual object, and the display contained a huge grasshopper standing over a model train. I thought Nora would like to push the button to make the train go, but I neglected to consider the impression a ten-foot long grasshopper would make on a nearly two-year-old little girl. It was not a good one. Her eyes wider than seemed humanly possible, fixed onto the grasshopper and she clutched my shirt a little more tightly. “I scared,” she told me. “I scared.” She was actually pretty calm about it, but she didn’t exactly object when I removed her to another part of the museum.

But despite that error in parental judgment, Nora loved the museum just as much as Jack did. While Jack and Andrew went to the Omni show, Nora and I hung out in the Discovery Room, a room geared towards little kids, and she was in heaven. They had puppets, and ball coasters; a bunny and a snake; a totally awesome water table,* and a real stuffed bear that Nora got to touch.

The kids have been talking about the museum for days now, and on Friday I decided to make a video of Nora talking about the “HUGE di-saur” and how she “toucha bear,” to capture it for posterity. And that’s when things went a bit awry.

Nora's take on the Museum of Science from Maureen on Vimeo.

She’s been scared of dinosaurs ever since. She ran crying into the kitchen yesterday because Jack was watching Dinosaur Train, for crying out loud. “I scared! Di-saur! Scared!” We no longer talk about the museum, but we do spend a lot of time talking about how there are no dinosaurs here. I drew a “No Dinosaurs Allowed” sign for her too, in case it helps.

But you all saw it, right? At the beginning, of that video, she loved the di-saur. It was awesome! Something just happened in her little brain that got dinosaurs and huge giant grasshoppers all tangled up and equated. I don't even think she remembers the grasshopper at all anymore. It's kind of heartbreaking, but, come on. It's also kind of hilarious.

The new message seems to be sinking in, because today she started to get panicky about dinosaurs, but then told me "No di-saurs here. Not 'lowd."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Too much to say

I have a lot of things to say, but I do not have time to say them right now. Lately, my computer time has been booked up with actual work for my job, so I haven't been able to tell you my stories. So this is a quick photo placeholder until I can take the time to write what I want.

A few weeks ago, I sent Liz some spare cloth diapers that I had lying around, and she sent me a totally awesome thank you gift:


I highly recommend sending Liz things you have lying around the house. The payoff is huge. I'm wearing a scarf she knitted for me, Nora is completely over the moon about the barrettes that Liz made for her, and Jack has already planted that strawberry plant and has been diligently watering it.

Oh, and did you notice? I got a haircut! A major haircut! And completely failed to blog about it! I was going to, but I was so excited about the haircut that I wanted to first surprise my mom and sisters, and then by the time I saw them the novelty had worn off and I never got around to posting the photos. Which is crazy, because everyone knows that if you don't blog about it, it didn't happen. But it did! I got a spontaneous major haircut at a party I went to that had corporate sponsors, and one of them was a fancy-pants salon that I could never normally afford. AND, because I got the haircut, I also won a prize for "Most Transformed." (It was Donna Karan perfume.) It was a pretty awesome party. Andrew won a gift card for a designer tie because he was the only one there with a tie pin, and when we LEFT there were gift bags, and in the gift bags were $100 gift cards towards something from the Donna Karan Infinity line. Which I still can't afford, but GIFT BAGS. It was glamorous.

And now I have to go to bed because I am going to get up for a 5:00am spin class. (And now I've told you all I'm going to do it, so I have to.) I leave you with two pictures from our trip to the science museum on Saturday, followed by the scene that greeted me this morning in the kitchen.






That was a brand new thing of pepper. Yes, I scooped it back into the pepper tin. BRAND NEW. I can't remember if this happened after she painted her tongue, but it was definitely before she ate all the Play-doh crumbs.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Look, I made up a recipe

One of my real-life friends who’s a member of my shared meal-planning Google calendar group (comment if you want in on this) asked me for my butternut squash lasagna recipe a while ago. I never gave it to her. I was going to type it up for her right now, but I thought it’s possible that there may be other interested parties. I’m pretty pleased with this recipe; it’s my own, if it’s fair to call an adaptation of some other lasagna recipe “my own.” But I added the butternut squash, and that’s a fairly key ingredient in butternut squash lasagna, don’t you think? And I think the squash and cheese complement each other surprisingly well.

So here it is, in all its glory:

Dr. Maureen’s Butternut Squash Lasagna

hands on: ~30 min (plus roasting time);
bake ~45 min;
total time: 1hr, 15min (plus roasting time)
oven: 375F

I pretty much always use Smart Ground tofu crumbles because I like my lasagnas to be meatless but I think the Smart Ground gives it a nice texture, but the last time I made this I checked the sodium content on Smart Ground, and yikes. So I’m probably going to try it without anything next time. Incidentally, sausage is excellent in this lasagna, if you like sausage.

I usually roast my squash a day or two ahead of time so that I don’t feel like I’ve been making lasagna for the entire day. To roast a squash, slice it in half the long way, scoop out the seeds, and place face down on a lined cookie sheet. Roast at 350F for about 35-40 minutes, or whenever it’s easily pierced by a fork. To puree it, let it cool and then scoop the roasted flesh out of the skin with a spoon. Toss it in a food processor and blend till smooth. I’m sure you could also just mash it up by hand, but I’m lazy.

I use cottage cheese instead of ricotta because I hate ricotta, and cottage cheese gives the same texture, which is necessary for lasagna. But if YOU like ricotta, by all means use it. Same explanation holds true for my using Romano instead of parmesan.

This recipe is easily adapted to stuffed shells; just stuff the shells with the squash mixture, arrange them in a pan, top with sauce and cheese.

ground meat or tofu crumbles (optional) (see note)
chopped onion, minced garlic, amount to taste (if using meat)
1 roasted and pureed butternut squash (see note)
1 lb container cottage cheese (see note)
1 cup mozzarella plus a few handfuls
½ cup Romano (see note)
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 beaten egg
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 package lasagna noodles

1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. If using, brown the ground meat or tofu with onion and garlic.
3. Boil and drain the noodles according to package directions
4. Mix meat, squash, cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella, Romano, parsley and beaten egg together
5. Spread some of the sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 roasting pan. Arrange a layer of lasagna noodles. Top with stuffing, sauce, and more noodles. Alternate until you have at least three layers or else run out of noodles, making sure to end with noodles. (see note)
6. Top with lots of sauce and sprinkle with a few handfuls of mozzarella.
7. Bake at 375F for ~45 min.
8. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Library book fails, cont.

There are dangers inherent in choosing a book for your child that you remember fondly from your own childhood. I present you with The Travels of Babar: