Monday, November 30, 2009

Why Do I Get the Crazy Dogs?

I'm starting to think it's me.

Argus was afraid of lightning. Thunder. Fireworks. The vacuum cleaner. All fairly normal for a dog. But he also disliked rain, snow, chirping smoke detectors and the occasional Chihuahua.

Kairos is taking it a leap forward, turning almost overnight into Crazy McTwitchypants. He seems to have hit some weird fear stage--which typically occurs around eight weeks (he's now one year plus)--and the list of things he's afraid of grows almost daily.

First it was men. Not Thomas, but pretty much every other man he came across, even those we had welcomed into our home and introduced to him as friends. Like Scott, for instance. He stayed overnight and every time he managed to leave and return to Kairos' line of sight, he was greeted with renewed barking and growling.

The first time I noticed Kairos being fearful around men was at the dog park. I was sitting at the picnic table when some random guy came up and sat down. Kairos ran over, pressed himself against my leg and started barking. At the time I thought, "Oh! How sweet. He's protecting me." But no. He growls at the man who comes to school to pick up his son. He shies away from men on the street, and those hanging out in their own yards. He doesn't lunge or jump at them; he would just prefer that they take themselves elsewhere.

And then there's the shrub. The same shrub he's seen every day since he was six weeks old. It's in our front yard and he has to pass it every time he goes out to pee, to get Hannah from school, or just to go on a walk. Same shrub, but now he tries to run out into the street to avoid it. I thought, "Well, is it touching him? I wouldn't like branches in my hair, so maybe that's the problem." I trimmed the shrub. No luck. He still doesn't like it.

Kairos also won't go outside by himself. Not even for a romp around the back yard. We put him out; he hops up on a chair and barks at the window until someone opens the door again. And now he won't cross the playroom to get to that back door. He won't even cross the threshold into the playroom.

But hey, I’d rather have him freaking out about the shrubbery and demanding to be carried across the playroom to the back door than have him poop out socks, headbands and other random bits of fabric twice a day.*

Good thing he’s really cute--and sweet. I guess he’s growing on me.

* I’m assuming you’ve already heard enough about that particular quirk!

Monday, November 23, 2009


Me, in response to Charlotte whining about wanting to turn the TV on "all by myselk!" [sic]:

"Dude, stop whining--I said I would give you the remote!"

"Um, I thought we agreed that you would not be calling anyone "DUDE" anymore?"

"We agreed that I wouldn't call you "dude" anymore."

"Yeah, well, I don't think Charlotte likes it, either."

Noted. I'll add that to my List of Things to Stop Saying by New Year's Eve.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Military Spouse Appreciation

Yesterday, Veterans' Day, I was thinking that there should also be a day of appreciation for military spouses. I was very happy to find that there is--it's just not well publicized--well, not to the general public, anyway.

I know that the men and women of of the military truly appreciate the work that their spouses do to keep the family together--often through long deployments, to pack up when it's time to transfer again and a thousand other little things that have to be done to just survive the rigors of the military life.

The date for 2010 hasn't been set, but it'll be some time in May, which is Military Appreciation Month--which I also did not know.

So if you have family or friends in the military, plan to send a little thank you gift in May. An Army may march on its stomach, but it needs someone to make its food*, wash its clothes and take care of its children.

* Obviously when deployed, someone is paid to do the laundry and cooking.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Project Runway, Hannah Style

This weekend, Hannah made her first evening gown:

She constructed it from one of the cloaks left over from her Harry Potter birthday party and a hair clip that looks like a crystal flower. Not bad for a seven-year old, eh?

Monday, November 09, 2009

More Fun With Apraxia!

Charlotte's speech therapy is going well, well enough, in fact, that I'm not as worried about her level of intelligibility when she start kindergarten next fall.


Some sound combinations are still difficult, particularly when there are two hard sounds in the same word, or one at the end of the first word and another at the beginning of the word following.

Take "cupcake," for instance. Say it slowly. Notice how much the shape of your mouth changes between the "p" and the "c" sounds. Charlotte used to insert a soft "a" in between sounds like these, so "cupcake" would become "cup-ah-cake." But now she has decided that it's easier to just replace the "p" with an "m," and so we are left with her excitedly, loudly announcing to the entire store that Whole Foods has "come cakes!"

My friend, Kevin Murphy" is now "Target Monkey," though I'm still not sure how "Kevin" morphed to "Target." "Murphy" to "Monkey" is a bit more understandable.

"Like my book" becomes "Lick my butt," while "Leave me alone," becomes "Lick me alone!" This last one is handy in diffusing arguments, as most people are unable to stay angry while laughing their heads off.

And as for Charlotte's inadvertent adaptation of one of the songs from Phineas and Ferb? I think that Candace, the character who sings it, would appreciate the change from "I'm gonna bust those boys" to "Me gonna bust some balls."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Time for a Little Holiday Baking

This gingerbread is absolutely scrumptious in any season, but to me, it definitely tastes like autumn!

It's from the book With a Measure of Grace: the Stories and Recipes of a Small Town Restaurant, by Blake Spalding and Jennifer Castle. They own a Buddhist-based restaurant, Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah.

All of the recipes look wonderful (even the pork recipes, which, coming from me, is really saying something!), but the gingerbread is one I keep coming back to.

Dark Magic Gingerbread

3 cups white flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground ginger
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp Chimayo chili
1-1/2 sticks butter
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups dark molasses
1-1/4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup diced pear
1 tbsp chopped crystallized ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13" baking pan

2. Stir or sift well together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

3. In a large bowl, beat butter until it's creamy. Gradually add eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer on high until batter is light in color and texture, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly beat in the molasses.

4. Add flour mixture and stir with a spoon until it's just combined. You don't want to overmix this cake.

5. Stir in boiling water slowly, mixing well, then add the diced pears and crystallized ginger.

6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed on top.

Butterscotch Sauce

1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or Scotch whiskey

1. Combine butter, water and corn syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium hear, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted.

2. Add sugar and stir until it's really dissolved--completely smooth and no linger making gritty scraping sounds.

3. Increase heat and boil without stirring until the mixture starts to brown around the edges. Start stirring as this point, and continue to stir as it thickens and turns a darker brown.

4. When it just barely begins to smoke, remove from heat and pour in cream (be careful here, because it can sputter and get kind of wild). Stir until it's completely dissolved. If it's stubborn and won't melt, place briefly over low heat and stir the lumps out.

5. Add salt and vanilla or Scotch and stir well.

The sauce will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator and is great to have on hand. It can be reheated in the microwaver or a double boiler. (Also very good on vanilla ice cream!)