Well, the year is off and running. I'm still creating elaborate lists to figure out how to spend my bookstore gift cards that I got at the end of the year, but I did get a couple of books in the mail this month:
She's the only woman inducted into the baseball HOF, and I hadn't really ever heard of her until I came across this book. The little Ghost is pretty interested in the Negro Leagues, so we might dive into this one together.
The latest in the New Directions subscription that I got for Christmas and I'm excited to read another Perec book. I loved "Life: A User's Manual" and I've committed myself to reading "A Void" at some point this year. Maybe I'll do that this month to pair with my new acquisition.
Some links to interesting things I read in January:
My husband and I were on our honeymoon, and I thought I only wanted the plague doctor. I didn’t know I’d eventually need him, too. “You can’t be serious,” says my brother. “Who loses a plague doctor during a plague?” “I guess I do,” I say.
“We’ll find him,” says my husband. But we never do.
When something is said to come full
circle does this mark completion or make
a new form
through which another
Reading with the Little Ghost:
The Girl and the Ghost turned out to be far too dark for our current situation. Lots of bullying and jealousy and anger and it just wasn't the thing we wanted to read before bed. We switched after about 90 pages after the main character had a nightmare about eating curry with human body parts in it.
So, instead we are reading Pip Bartlett's Guide to Sea Monsters which is a series that G has enjoyed. This is the third book, and it's much more light-hearted entertainment.
He really liked Monstrous: The Lore, Gore and Science Behind Your Favorite Monsters. This was a book where he would go quiet for a while and I'd go looking for him only to find him nose deep in a chart about how to tell if you are dead or undead. Thanks, Pepper!
He also just finished The Atlas of Vanishing Places which was full of geography facts and just about perfect for the obsessions of this particular third grader.
Topics include the 2020 postseason, a little brief Twins news, the KBO playoffs, some "new" faces in the AL Central, highlights on recent videos, a thorough trashing of PBJs (DK abstained), and an exhaustive breakdown of the Vikings and Gophers football programs.
Okay, so, here's another one we did. Kind of. You see, someone screwed everything up and completely lost the second half of what recorded. Lost topics include more season wrap-up as well as a look towards next year. We'll pick that up again next time after I quintuple check how to make sure I whoever doesn't screw everything up next time.
Just in case the guy on KFAN has got his intellectual property ducks in a row with his Kickstarter thing, I will not refer to this game by the same name he has given his version. Instead, this will be the initial time I "host" a game for the second on this platform with the following rules:
1. I will give you two letters (for example, "K.P"). All the items that week will be a two-word answer in which each word begins with letter in the appropriate spot. The answer can be a person, place, thing, or other two-word phrase. For example, if "K.P." are the letters, then one answer might be Kirby Puckett. Another answer might be "Krakow, Poland." And so on.
2. I will provide six clues for each answer. The clues will be provided one-at-a-time.
3. If you believe you know the answer, make a Spoilered guess in the thread. The point will go to whomever correctly identifies the answer first. If you submit an incorrect response, then you can no longer submit for that particular answer.
4. The participant with the most correct answers at the end of the week wins. (If there is a tie, then I will have tiebreakers for only the participants in the tie.)
5. You're going to be on the honor system, but you should not be using the internet or other resources.
The letters will be revealed, and clues for the first phrase will commence at 9:30am.
While in Scandia, I've been cleaning out scads of stuff: basement -> garage -> recycling. Today was spent cutting out SSNs and account numbers from old papers so I don't have to burn them in the Firepit (PITA).
Came across this (from an earlier family cookbook I did a while back). See how well you do with no help from the I'webs. Honestly, I couldn't even remember some of the answers. A lot are obvious. Some you'll never get. Spoiler guesses.
What do you guys see for the future of movies/cinema? How soon do you think the theaters will come back, if at all?
Also, they're having a series of pop up drive in movies in the parking lot of a nearby sports arena, but it's like $30 a car. $50 for a "preferred location", whatever that means. Not worth it just to watch The Goonies.
I've always been happy to leave the cocktail mixing to the pros, but while sheltering in place, I've been playing around. My younger son is really into watermelon these days, which made me wonder how watermelon might work in a cocktail. I came across this recipe, and after a little experimentation, I might just have found my favorite summer cocktail. It's not to sweet and has a spicy kick that I can't get enough of. Plus, the watermelon "ice cubes" are genius.
Planning note: you'll need to prepare the infused vodka, simple syrup, and watermelon ice cubes ahead of time. This might seem like more work than you want to do for an easy summer cocktail, but it's really not all that much. If you're making cocktails at home, you likely already have a jar of simple syrup in the fridge. And I've found that the extra watermelon juice is a great addition to fruit smoothies, which I've been making regularly for the boys.
2 oz. jalapeno-infused vodka
1 small, seedless watermelon (or a package of cubed watermelon), from which you'll make juice and ice cubes
To make the jalapeno-infused vodka:
Measure your desired amount of vodka into a mason jar. (I've done this with 4 ounces and 8 ounces.) Slice 1 jalapeno pepper into rounds and add to mason jar. Put the lid on and let infuse for 30 minutes. (This gets quite spicy quickly, so you do NOT want to forget about it and let it sit for hours!) Strain out pepper and seeds and return vodka to mason jar. Store at room temperature until ready to use.
To make the cocktail:
Cut watermelon into cubes approx. 1.5 inches square. For each drink you plan to make, throw four cubes into a ziploc bag and freeze for 2 hours (or longer). These will be your ice cubes. Take about a cup of watermelon cubes and liquefy, using an immersion blender, full-size blender, or food processor. Note: I strained the juice the first time I made it, but I found that by not straining it, I get more watermelon flavor in the drink, which I prefer.
Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz.) watermelon juice, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon simple syrup, and 2 oz. jalapeno-infused vodka. If you have a cocktail shaker, shake it all up and strain into a glass over your watermelon ice cubes. If you're shaker-less like me, stir vigorously and then pour into a glass over your watermelon ice cubes. Add a splash of sparkling water (I probably use about 1 oz.). Garnish with a lime if desired. And enjoy!
Though it's occasionally a chore, one silver lining to the whole pandemic situation is that we're basically cooking everything in house. We very occasionally get something from outside, but I think we do that on average maybe once every two weeks. While it's fun to try new things, or at least get creative with ingredients before they go bad, that's still a whole lot of cooking that needs to be done. This naturally means we've all got a few go-to's that we can pull out quickly, or at least easily.
Now, we've got a home with young, picky-ass kids, so our house specials are very boring and basic. Tacos, macaroni, various non-threatening noodle and pasta dishes, but that's pretty much as far as it goes. Japanese curry is about as exotic as it gets with them. Jane and I have been trying all sorts of stuff, but the same namby-pamby retreads are the only sure things around here (yeah, I'm bringing that phrase back).
What dishes are in top rotation in your homes when you need a quick and easy win?
With all that's been going on lately, how are the Citizens with young kids handling it? I want to share some thoughts, tips, and resources, in case they're helpful. And if you don't have young kids but know someone who does, please feel free to share this with them.
First off--do you really have to talk about race with kids? Can't you just tell them that everyone is equal and let them figure it out from there? Nope! The world is not colorblind, and neither are your kids. A while back, I read the book NurtureShock, which has a great chapter called “Why White Parents Don’t Talk about Race.” You can check out an excerpt here. The key takeaway is that even very young kids see skin color differences and that not talking about race results in kids jumping to conclusions that are probably not what you wanted them to have.
And think about it. Once kids hit a certain age, they're going to hear things at school, from kids on their baseball team or in their gymnastics class or from someone at in their scout troop. So wouldn't you rather have given them a certain level of knowledge and understanding for when things come up in situations you're not a part of?
Telling a kid that a cop killed a Black man in your community is wrenching. When we told the jalapeno, who is nearing ten years old, about George Floyd's murder (omitting graphic details), he asked "But why?" in this voice that broke my heart. I was glad that at least we've been talking about race and racism for a long time already with him. When you have already been talking about race with your kid, in a moment of crisis you're not starting from zero.
So where do you start? I probably have a bias toward books, but I also think they're a great way to have a conversation about something without making it about your kid or their friend or anything that feels more personal.
For a resource specifically about police violence toward Black men, there's a good book called Something Happened in Our Town that's also been made into a 9-minute video you can share. I like that it includes both a white family and a black family in the storyline. Consider watching it with your kids as a way to launch a conversation. If you get the book, there is a lot of information for parents and educators about how to talk more with kids.
Earlier this morning, I read an article in the Washington Post specifically about the need for white parents to talk about race with their kids. There were three key points I found helpful.
1. Include books, TV shows, movies, music, etc., by nonwhite people as a regular thing for your family. And expand your circles to include people of different ethnicities. The article didn't mention this, but supporting minority-owned restaurants and other business would be another great thing to do.
Our actions speak at least as loudly as our words, and kids pick up A LOT just by seeing what we do. Remember that if you're only reading books about Black people when talking about slavery and civil rights, you're not sharing a complete picture of Black life.
To find good, diverse book for kids that aren't specifically about racism or oppression, a great tool is the Our Story app from We Need Diverse Books.
2. Educate yourself and your kids accurately about history. The article doesn't mention this, but I think doing so also gives you the background so that you can speak up as needed in conversations with your kids' teachers to advocate for a more accurate, more inclusive curriculum.
3. Talk often about current events and things you're seeing on social media. We white people are so often uncomfortable talking about race because we didn't grow up doing it. But by making it a regular part of conversation, you and your kids will start becoming more comfortable having these conversations at home--and out in the world.
Keep in mind that you're not going to have one conversation about race with your kids. Like everything important in parenting, it's something that will come up repeatedly. And your conversations will expand and deepen. And kids will ask questions sometimes when you're not ready for them. But remember that your kids don't need you to have all the right answers. They just need your willingness to talk.
Finally, if you've made a donation in recent days, talk to your kids about the place you're donating to and why. When I was a kid, I had no idea my parents donated anywhere, and while I get the instinct to not call attention to it, I didn't really understand that donating was important because we weren't talking about it.
So I hope this is all helpful, and I wish all the parents out there lots of strength and support today and every day!