Every single time I think I might be getting a handle on how little boys think, they go and prove that I'll never figure them out. I could fill every column that I write with the ridiculous things I say and do in my attempts to be a competent parent. For example, I heard myself saying, "Hey! Knock it off! You and I both know you're looking at him and laughing on the inside whether or not you're moving your face. You're driving him nuts!" It's much more valuable, in the interest of later blackmail material, to have a chronicle of the silly things my children do in the course of simply living.
While preparing the boys for bed the other night I stationed myself in the bathroom for the toothbrushing assembly line. My eldest and my baby were done first and removed themselves to the bedroom to climb into bed and await their brothers. I heard Rowan crying his little head off in his crib because he did not want to go to bed. I called to Liam to make sure Rowan was alright. Having established that there was nothing worse going on than a case of want-to-stay-up-late-itis I figured I could let him cry it out a bit while helping the other boys get ready. Liam was not so complacent.
I could hear him trying to cheer up his baby brother. He tried reading a book, telling a joke and doing a silly dance. After each attempt to calm his brother down, Liam received a resounding screech of protest. There was a huge repeating crashing sound that was Liam "rocking the crib." I promptly stopped the crib-rocking and turned around to fold some clothes that had been tossed to the four corners of the room while telling Liam, "You've done a wonderful job trying to calm down Rowan. I think it's really sweet that you want him to be happy, but I think you can stop now and just let him settle himself down." I came around full circle after folding expecting to be looking my ten-year-old in the face and instead saw him lying on his back with his legs and arms in the air looking expectantly at his wee banshee of a brother.
"What are you doing?" I asked?
"I'm showing him submissiveness in order to get him to calm down."
"You're doing WHAT?" quoth I.
"Mom. It works for dogs. I figured it might work on him."
It did not. And I had to excuse myself to a private place to let out the laugh that I bit back after that display of animal science.
I may not have a handle on what makes their brains tick but I'm pretty good at filling their bellies. That often goes a long way toward soothing the savage beasties.
The Ultimate Bean Dip
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this bean dip will rock your world! (No snickers from the "Beans, Beans the musical fruit" crowd, please ...) A tightly sealed container of this in your fridge makes your snack life super easy (and pretty healthy, too!) This one dip tops tortillas for the world's quickest lunch, makes an incomparable base for seven-layer dip, sits in as the best refried beans ever, or stands alone on tortilla chips or a spoon.
If you don't have a food processor, don't despair. Just break out the potato masher and squish away. You'll end up with a more rustic but equally delicious dip!
1 can pinto beans, with liquid
1 can black beans, with liquid
1 can chili beans, with liquid
12 oz. grated Cheddar, Monterey Jack or Mexican Blend cheese
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/2- 1 t. chili powder, according to taste
3/4 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. onion powder
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
Add pinto beans, black beans, chili beans and their liquid, garlic, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to your food processor fitted with the 's' blade. Process until the beans have formed a smooth paste.
Add the cheese to the contents of the food processor and process until there are no recognizable bits of cheese hanging about the bowl. Scoop into a container with a tight fitting lid and store in the fridge until use, up to two weeks.
Vanilla Simple Syrup
Once you make this you'll find all sorts of reasons to keep it handy. We put about 1 1/2 ounces in the bottom of a tall glass and top it off with cold plain seltzer for a homemade cream soda that beats the pants off of anything you can buy in the store. If you're so inclined, you can pour a wee bit in a glass with some brandy. And for you Harry Potter fans out there ... Tune in to www.foodiewithfamily.com for an amazing and delicious Butter Beer recipe in both grown up and house elf styles.
If you don't have access to a vanilla bean, just add an additional tablespoon of vanilla extract at the end of the recipe.
1 c. fresh water
2 c. granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise but not scraped
2 T. pure vanilla extract
Add the sugar to a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan with the vanilla bean and pour the water over the top. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour syrup, along with the vanilla bean, into a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Cool completely before use.
You can read more of Rebecca's recipes, kitchen tips and parenting adventures at www.foodiewithfamily.com.