The UnGlam Fam

I now blog at www.constantcircus.wordpress.com!


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5 minutes inside my 6yo’s head.

Jason, one of my favorite parent bloggers over at jasongood.net, did an absolutely hilarious post about what goes on inside his then-2yo’s head at any given point in time. I didn’t think about that one until today when my 6yo was home with me all.day. What started off as a lovely day with spring flowers of love blooming in my chest went quickly south after about a couple of hours of free play without friends (R was at preschool for half the day). By early evening, let’s just say we were all ready to go on separate vacations and possibly never return.

Here’s my guesstimate of what must go on in his burdened head during any given 5 minutes of a day.

  1. Boys rule, girls drool!
  2. What’s 7 times 7?
  3. 49. Too easy!
  4. I wish I was 36. No one could rule me then.
  5. I’m bored. No fair!
  6. I need a snack. Should I ask mama?
  7. Never!
  8. “Mooom, can I have a snack??!”
  9. I’m having a snack. I’m not hungry for lunch. She can’t make me!
  10. Saturn has 7 rings.
  11. What? We’re out of chips AGAIN? No fair!
  12. I’m smart.
  13. Oooh, brother! I can smack him if I like.
  14. Boys RULE!
  15. Am I in trouble? I don’t care.
  16. What if I’m in trouble?! I hate mama.
  17. The guy who makes Lego must be really smart.
  18. I wish I could make Lego when I grow up.
  19. I wish I were a superhero.
  20. I love my brother.
  21. He’s SO annoying.
  22. I’m a jerk.
  23. What can I DO? I’m bored.
  24. Rudolph the red-nosed rein-POOP! Hahahaha.
  25. Wow. I can run really fast. I’m the fastest human alive.
  26. How do you spell contaminate?
  27. Girls are dumb.
  28. What the ____. Oh no.
  29. Cashiers sure have a lot of coins.
  30. POOPYHEAD! Hahaha.
  31. I’m bored.

 

Commiserations? Additions?


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Wanton Wrappers Recipe 1: Veggie Wantons

This weekend I’d planned to cook Chinese at home. It’s one of those cuisines, I know, that’s so much work to prepare that one would rather pick take-out. But we’re used to eating a particular version of Indian-twisted-Chinese food that’s not readily available even in a cosmopolitan area as the DC suburbs. So, to get our vegetarian friendly, Indian inspired Chinese food fix I sometimes venture into this severe-post-production-backache territory.

I always regret having to put in so much effort into cooking after, but this week all the chopping was actually therapeutic for me after last Friday’s event. I also didn’t mind the effort because at the end of it we were going to be rewarded with something I’ve never made before: veggie wantons! While at the store earlier, I’d spied these wanton wrappers, and since I’d already planned on cooking Chinese, bought them on a whim. What a great decision! These babies are easy to prepare (if you don’t mind the mindless chopping) and a joy to devour. The best part is they can use up whatever veggie odds and ends you have languishing in your crisper and can be frozen for later use.

An interesting snippet: Wantons are interchangeably called “momos” in India. From what I can discern, and Mr. Google hasn’t been much help here, the only difference is that wantons are always fried in India while momos are served either fried or steamed. Momo is primarily a Northeast Indian specialty; maybe due to that region’s proximity to the Chinese border, over time dumpling recipes got passed down and were reinvented by the Nor’easterners into what Indians know as momos today? Either way, whatever route they took to get there, wantons/momos are a definitely much appreciated street snack in India.

My recipe will make about 30 wantons, give or take 3. I fried 10 of them right away for an evening family snack and froze the rest.

You’ll need:

30 wanton wrappers
10 baby carrots, shredded
5 stalks green onion, minced
3 big white mushrooms, minced
½ cup shredded cabbage
1 tbsp garlic, paste or grated
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tbsp. Tobasco/Sriracha or any other chilli sauce
Crushed black pepper, to taste
1 tsp sesame or vegetable oil
(More oil depending on the method of cooking you’ll use: shallow/deep frying or baking)

Heat oil in a wide saucepan. Add garlic, carrots, cabbage, onion and mushrooms, in that order, and sauté until soft. Take off flame and mix in soy sauce, chili sauce and pepper. Set aside.

Wanton filling

Spoon about 1 tsp of the prepared mixture into the center of a wanton wrapper. Moisten your index finger with water and slide along the edges of the wrapper before folding as instructed on the back of the wrapper package.

Wanton puppies assembly line

Cover prepared wantons with damp cloth to prevent them from drying out. If freezing the batch (in which case, lay them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer before popping them in the freezer), you can skip this step.

Serve hot with a tangy sweet and sour ketchup or sauce.

I fried mine this time since I was already prepared for it. (I also steamed a few but that method was a terrible failure.) Next time I will try baking these puppies. I can’t imagine why baking won’t yield as delicious a wanton as frying since the filling is already partially cooked.

I fashioned the leftover wanton wrappers into the yummiest homemade veggie ravioli! Recipe coming soon.


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It’s wrong.

Just heard on the radio that there’s been another random shooting, this time at an elementary school in Connecticut. What the eff is going on in America?! Someone opened fire at a mall in Oregon yesterday, and now this. Can we not go a single day without hearing about some misfit somewhere taking out his ire at people he doesn’t know and who have had no role to play in his sorry life? How can we hope to have sympathy for the disillusioned, unstable youth among us when there are innocent people dying for no fault of theirs? Has it come to this, then, that we’re going to have to duck our way through store aisles for fear of a stray bullet that can catch us unaware while we preen at ourselves in the mirror? Why the hell are weapons still openly available to people if we haven’t discovered a way yet to zero in on possible perpetrators before the crimes happen?

I cannot imagine what the kids of this school and their parents are going through because of this horrifically unexpected intrusion into their lives. Will these parents ever be able to let their kids out of their sight again?

It’s not much, but those kids, their parents and their school will be in my thoughts today.

ETA: When I wrote this, it had apparently just happened and there were no confirmed deaths. They’re now saying 18 (18!) little kids have died in the tragedy, no… the massacre. And the shooter killed himself so there’s going to be no human justice. I hope the divine jurors have the heart of a parent.


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The Cost of Kids

Before we made up our mind to start a family way back when, the husband and I used to have discussions about it in an effort to determine our readiness for this irreversible big step in our lives. Well, I discussed it with him; I think he was in denial until we had a screaming babe in our arms, and mostly only said “OK” to whatever I asked.

Sorry, I digress.

So these discussions covered topics including the finality of the decision (in the sense that there’s no going back), the idea of me staying at home vs continuing to work, our future travel expectations etc. There was also a lot of talk about expenses — the upfront “baby’ ones such as strollers, car seats, cribs — and later, education. What we failed to include in our Excel child budget sheet were the incidentals. Oh, the incidentals. Why, oh why, did we not consider extraneous costs? The kids are probably not going to be able to eat us out of house and home, but I might have to take out a second mortgage to cover our cost of Band-aids. Here’s a list of mundane, unexpected things I need a Costco type store in my backyard for to buy enough of seeing as we’re always running out of them.

Incidental Expense #1 – Band-Aids: Honestly, I’ve yet to meet a kid who isn’t into Band-aids. I think their medulla oblongata, or whichever part of the brain it is that stores data, comes imprinted with the image of this pharma product. Or maybe little kids are born with an innate desire to look kewl, just like teenagers, and Band-aids project the cast-with-autographs vibe that makes breaking a teenage bone bearable? Either way, my kids are obsessed with Band-Aids, and nothing else will do when they want one — no stickers, no temporary tattoos, no clear glue type thingy that seals a wound. Only Band-Aid. Whether there is a scrape is immaterial. In fact, the regular-sized Band-Aid will only be used if there is NO wound. If there is a scratch that is visible to the naked eye, then the big guns have to be brought out, you know the more expensive ones that have grooves to fit elbows and knees, only to be peeled off in the next shower (which, hopefully, isn’t more than a day away). Oh, what a waste, moan I. And, the next time I chop off my finger while peeling cucumbers, I’ll have to make do with ice. And an IV (in a quiet hospital, if I’m lucky).

What a field day they would have with these!

IE #2 – Printer Paper: Pre-kids we used to buy a ream of A4 printer sheets and forget about it with the knowledge that any time we will need to print anything the paper will sputter out consistently. Not any more. Now the ink will dry out inside the damn machine because of every thing becoming e-this and e-that, but printer paper will never go out of demand. In our house, that paper (and that paper only!) is used for drawing, painting, origami, paper planes, fortune tellers etc., to tap the tip. A bound sketch book languishes on the shelf unused, colored paper will never get used for making cards, while half-finished masterpieces on printer paper are found under couches, beds and other furniture, only to be chucked into the recycle bin. I haven’t discovered a way yet to convince them that a dollar store stack of plain paper is just as good. Until then, we will continue to chuck our hard-earned cash into the waste paper basket.

IE #3 – Hair ties: Aka scrunchies, fasteners, ponytail rubber bands. I buy stacks of those every month to keep my non-descript hair under control. Every month they get used up as bracelets, catapults, handcuffs, duct tape, dental braces, and myriad other things that have nothing to do with hair. Result: A crazy haired, unkempt looking lady opening doors for Fedex or pizza delivery guys. I don’t think they even expect tips from me probably muttering to themselves, how can a woman afford a tip if she can’t even afford a hair tie? Oh, well.

IE #4 – Lego: These pesky little blocks are the bane of my existence. We have baskets overflowing with them and shelves bent under their weight, but the incoming flood shows no sign of abating. At least in other things I have the husband’s sympathy. For the Lego problem, though, he’s the perpetrator! He will keep buying more and more sets to add to the chaos, every set comes with some spare pieces (who really cares for 5 extras in a 2,512 piece set anyway?!) and then we have to buy furniture to display them. Every horizontal surface in the house is already crammed with Lego structures, and out Lego master is only 6! I shudder to think of how many more years of this madness we have ahead of us and how much more cash we’re going to have to invest in this “hobby” before filing for bankruptcy. And since I’m only 1 anguished voice against 3 testosterone-filled ones, I will just have to take to shaking my head and chanting to myself in the corner on this one.

Some order, more chaos.

IE #5 – White socks: The efficacy of a dryer really is inversely proportional to the number of white socks you have. If I don’t believe this to be the ultimate housekeeping truth, I may have to check myself into an asylum. ‘Nuff said.

What kid-induced incidental expenses do you have?


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Blogs I luuurve.

I’m new to this blogging thing. I’ve written snippets on post-its, bedside diaries, on the back of receipts, all my life, but a blog somehow makes it all official. Even though I didn’t have a blog of my own, I’ve been following some awesome ones for a couple of years. These writings have made me chortle and giggle, nod my head in assent and bailed me out when I needed a recipe for things discovered from the back of the fridge. The people behind these blogs are amazing story tellers and, often, an integral part of my day. I thought I should spread their word so they might bring joy to others like me. Read on, visit their spaces and enjoy their art!

Parenting: Crappy Pictures
crappypictures.com

Amber is a stick drawing genius. She calls her adorable sketches “crappy” but for most of her readers they are anything but. Apart from her on-the-dot drawings, she’s also a gifted humor writer who has a knack for capturing parents’ daily, monotonous grind-type moments and transforming them into hilarious reading material. If you are a new parent, go through her archives and read one of her earliest posts on sleeping with a babe in the house. She had me then, and I’ve been following her ever since.

Jason Good
Jasongood.net

Another side-cracking funny parent blog. Jason is a self-professed comedian, and has a great source of daily blog fodder – he’s a dad! His sense of humor is dry and laced with delicious sarcasm, making his posts a pleasure to read. My favorite is his most recent one on photos his kids take on his phone. What a unique perspective on the tons of blurry, arbit pictures of random objects parents find on their electronic devices every time the battery mysteriously discharges without much use. Uproarious blog!

One Hot Stove
onehotstove.blogspot.com

I stumbled upon Nupur’s space a couple years ago while searching for a recipe of pizza dough. Her post guided me through the process every step of the way and the resulting pizza came out delish! I’ve tried many of her recipes in my home and they have come out consistently yummy. The things that I routinely cook with my minor changes are her pav bhaji, pan-fried potatoes and gobi manchurian. Her recipes have never disappointed me, and the fact that they’re all vegetarian doesn’t hurt either.  Nupur seems like such an honest, warm person that I could see us being friends if, you know, I knew her IRL. But I don’t, so I’ll settle for following her instead.

Sweeter Salt
Sweetersalt.com

Laura is a young Maine-r who blogs about her life, focusing mainly on her everyday, approachable sense of fashion and food. I’ve only recently started reading her blog but she’s already give me ideas about how to pair certain closet staples with others for a put-together look and how sneakers don’t have to be the tail-end of every outfit. She’s a proud supporter of thrift stores and, frankly, some of her finds are so lovely that I’m tempted to check out my local consignment stores for similar treasures. Only, I don’t think I could identify 80s chic (if there ever was such a thing) if it hit me in the face. Oh well, if following her blog isn’t the definition of living vicariously then I don’t know what is.

I hope you like these bloggers as much as I do. Happy reading!


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Book: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

This is a true story of an Afghani family torn apart by Taliban rule, told by a journalist who lived with them for a while. Out of 11 children, five sisters stay back in Kabul at the height of the Taliban regime while their father and brothers flee to avoid being sucked into the Taliban ranks. The book follows those girls left behind – how these educated, bright, resourceful women suffered during the regime, and emerged on the other side as world class entrepreneurs.

The writing is good, nothing spectacular, and I never really got too invested in the story. What did remain with me until afterward was the fact that when to the rest of us in the world Afghanistan was just headlines that gradually faded into background noise, there were people, real people, living through what can only be described as hell every day for five years. To not be able to step out of your house without a man, to fear public flogging for flashing a wrist, to have to drape a bedsheet-like garment on yourself in the heat of summer, all amidst the constant fear of death in war, these are things I cannot even imagine surviving. And yet these women lived through all of that and more without a broken spirit, with courage and empathy for others like them. In that respect, the story is inspiring and I’m glad I read it.

PS: Another book, although I hesitate to call it that, that I read on the side was 50 Shades of Gray. In my defense, I’m averse to reading anything that makes it to bestseller lists (I doggedly avoid them, in fact), but I was stranded on an airplane journey without anything to read. I did not buy it, but since my sister-in-law was only too happy to part with her copy, I took it. I really hadn’t realised how pathetic it would be.

In my opinion, only one kind of people will like this book: those who are in a coma and are being read to. And then only because someone else is having to read that crap.


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Things Kids Say: Effin’ and More

Everyone says kids are like sponges–they absorb everything. I beg to differ. Mine are more like feather dusters with a particular affinity for the dirt floating around. Like many of you, I spend countless hours singing songs, retelling stories with morals, talking about conscientious topics etc., but all they seem to pick up are F-bombs some random kid thinks is funny to teach them. Sigh.

Today V came home from school singing a jingle like that bubblegum one we used to sing as kids. Bubblegum, bubblegum, in a dish; how many pieces do you wish. Innocent as a chair. The one he came up with went something like this: Tarzan, Tarzan, swings and falls; when he falls he breaks his balls; what color is his blood.

What?

Apart from the whole gory-ness of the rhyme, I did a double take at the obvious “word”. Stony-faced, I waited for the inevitable repetitions before deciding if what I’d heard was right, and to wait for signs of attention seeking (shift eyes, pointed smirk). None. So I nonchalantly asked him what baIIs meant. “Oh,” he says, “it’s just another word for bones. Y’know because he falls?” *Eye roll*

I laughed. At least my son’s still kosher, even if the jingle isn’t!

PS: The whole F-word thing didn’t really stick. Yet. Maybe my pointed ignoring of it the first few times did the trick? I’m under no illusion that its time will come, but until then, I’ll fudgin’ count my blessings!