Adventures of Logan: Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

Out of the 19 kids in his class, Logan received just nine valentines at the class valentine exchange party last week. The kids were supposed to bring in a valentine for everyone. Logan had. He painstakingly wrote out each of his classmates’ names, picking out the valentines in his super- hero valentine variety pack for each kid. “Avery would like this one, I want to give that one to Seth…my teacher likes this color, I will give her this one…”

Logan is a thoughtful kid.

He’s super tender- hearted. Omitting a classmate would never cross his mind, in fact, since his super-hero valentine pack had 15 more valentines than he had classmates, Logan addressed the leftover valentines to the principal, his music and art and science and PE teachers. The librarian. The guidance counselor. Kids in other classes. He wanted everyone to know they were special to him.

If kindness was a superpower, Logan would wear a cape.

So it made me physically ill to watch Logan’s spirit crumble as he counted up his valentines and realized he’d been snubbed by half his class. My little superhero had been defeated by meanness.

Matt and I asked if there were lots of absent kids that day.

No.

Had he left the missing valentines someplace? Maybe in his desk? Backpack? Maybe they are just lost?

No.

Maybe the other kids’ parents just didn’t know that was the day they were supposed to bring the valentines in?

“Mom, they sent home, like, a million reminders, remember?”

We told Logan how there are lots of kids at his school who are less fortunate than we are, that can’t afford the three bucks to buy a box of valentines, and how they probably really appreciated his generosity; he should be glad we can afford a box of valentines, how fortunate and lucky that makes him, us. How making others happy makes us happy, and isn’t it sad that some kids couldn’t feel that joy that comes from giving valentines?

That seemed to help, but it was mostly a lie. I just don’t know how to explain bullying to a second grader who not only wouldn’t hurt a fly, he’s repeatedly tried to save dying, twitching bugs by placing them in a special container and bringing them food and water. The almost- dead cricket he found over Christmas lasted a week beyond its expected expiration date because of Logan’s care.

…certainly poverty is an issue for one or two classmates, and perhaps another one or two’s parents forgot it was the day of the valentine exchange, and someone was sick… But that doesn’t add up to half the class. Logan was snubbed, purposefully excluded, and I am at a complete loss for how to explain that kind of meanness.

What kind of parents raise kids that do that?

Not my neighbors.

When the “super cool” fifth grader that rides Logan’s bus saw Logan was upset that day, and found out what happened, she decided she had to do something to cheer him up. She used her own money to pick out a special gift for Logan, a card and some candy, then surprised him with it on Saturday.

Honestly, Logan thinks this girl is so super-awesome-amazing-cool that if she’d just said “hi” to him it probably would have been enough, but she went the extra 30 miles round-trip from town to make a difference for him. She saved Valentines Day and the heart of a little boy.

Logan was over-the-moon. I was completely humbled and blown away. What an amazing young lady. The world needs more kids like her. I want to raise a child that does that.

So today, after bringing this young lady a Thank You card and gift Logan had worked very, very, very hard to pick out (8 stores and four hours), and once again being amazed by the young lady’s grace and poise, Logan and I drove in to town so I could get to work…

In the car on the radio was Taylor Swift singing ” Mean.”

I didn’t even know Logan knew any of the words. But he knew all of them. He sang each one with such conviction I started to cry.

I pretended I had allergies and wiped my eyes while Logan sang from my back seat.

And sang.

And sang.

And I was so thankful to know people that raise amazing kids, and so sad that not everyone does, and hurt that my son knew the difference at 7 years old.

I don’t have to explain that some people are mean. He already knows. And he knows that it doesn’t have to be like that. That the kindness of one trumps the meanness of ten. And that’s power. A superpower, even.

Adventures of Logan: Logan’s Rules for Playing with his Action Figures

There are rules you must follow if you want to play with action figures. Lots of rules.

For more Adventures of Logan, and parenting, click here

This morning I told Logan to come give me a hug.

He starts kindergarten in about two weeks; in about two weeks, I wont have my little guy with me all day, every day, any more.

Logan told me, “You’ll miss me a lot when I’m at school

I said yes, I would.

But it’s OK,”he said. “You can play with my super-hero action figures when you feel alone when I’m at school.

Oh, thanks!” I said. “That is very nice of you. Is there anything I should know about them before I play with them?

Yes.” he said. “There are a few rules.

ohhhh….this should be fun.

The first rule is, don’t break them.” he said.

OK” I said. I can handle that.

The second rule is, don’t light them on fire” he said.

OK. I think I can handle this one, too.

The third rule is, don’t put them in your mouth, or any human’s mouth” he said.

Got it. Don’t put in mouths. Check.

And don’t ever throw them out the window” he continued.

is there anything else i can’t do?” I asked

well….you can’t feed the squirrels with them” he said.

Sure. That makes sense.

…and you can only have two in your bed or you will lose them.

This is what Matt and I have been telling him every night for months now. Glad to see it sunk in.

…and you can’t wash them in the washer, either. You have to check all your pockets before you wash your clothes to make sure you don’t wash them, ok?

He kept going…

And don’t BBQ them or eat them for steak, OK? And don’t plant any of them either.”

Darn. I was kind of looking forward to a dinner of Captain America under a Super-Woman tree.

You’re not gonna forget the rules, right?” he asked.

Right. I’ve got them written down, right here, so I don’t forget…

Adventures of Logan: What CAN you do on a bus (that wont give you cancer)?

Eating Watermelons: Also not allowed on the bus.

Eating Watermelons: Also not allowed on the bus.

Logan and I took a bus to a free movie today. (Click link to find out about the free movies in your area).

Watching free movies in the big theater is our Tuesday and Wednesday routine; we run down the hill and take public transportation to the local Regal Cinemas for their Free Family Film Festival. We pack a bottle of water, some peanuts or raisins or popped popcorn. Sometimes we go to the grocery store and Logan buys a packet of Skittles. Its affordable, its a treat, its fun.

Well, its a fun treat when the bus is on-time, anyway.

The bus was 16 minutes late, which meant we were really late for the movie. Since the tickets are first-come, first-serve, this made me a bit nervous. But not Logan. No, Logan doesn’t get nervous. He gets musical.

He decided to sing a song about the bus being late. At the top of his lungs. To the bus driver and the two other people on the bus.

Logan’s songs are creative, to say the least. They sometimes rhyme, occasionally have a melody, but always revolve around being Strong, loving his Dad, and having a name that is spelled L-O-G-A-N S-M-Y-L-I-E.

Sometimes he sings about having lots of ear wax. Sometimes the song is about his desire to “never kill you.” And if those two things weren’t disturbing enough in the privacy of your own home, sometimes Logan sings about how only the doctor is allowed to touch his penis.

Today’s song on the bus, however, was even more awesome than anything he has ever composed before.

“We’re going to be late to Horton Hears a Hoo–because of youuuuuuuuuu.”

The Cancer-Patient-Impersonating, Singing-Bus-Rider Sensation, Logan. In all his glory.

I told Logan not to sing Out Loud.

“I’m not singing LOUD” he said, and sang some more.

“My Mommy says bad words–this bus has lots of germs–don’t touch anyyyy-thinggggg!!!”

*face-palm*

“Logan, we don’t sing on the bus…” I said.

He didn’t stop. He was going for the chorus.

“You can’t smoke or drink on the bus!! Because it would bother everyonnnne!!!! And you would DIEEEEE! of CANCERRRRRRR!!!!”

This, coming from a five-year-old who looks very, very much like he may have first-hand knowledge of “cancerrrrrrrrrrr” because he is a hairless toe-head. He wanted it that way, asking the barber to shave his head and make him “bald.” The resemblance to a chemo patient didn’t dawn on me until my child–who has naturally flesh-colored hair–ran over to me right after the buzz-cut and I realized that in addition to being bald, he also had no visible eyebrows.

Yeaaaaah. Oops. Sorry about that, kid.

So in addition to the song already being annoying, it was especially disturbing coming from what looked like a young cancer patient.

“Logan. You also can’t sing on the bus.” I said firmly.

He looked at me, shocked. Like, “what do you mean the world isn’t a Broadway stage full of random acts of music and dance?”

“You can’t sing–EVER?” he asked.

“Right, honey. No singing on the bus.” I said.

“But, you can’t smoke or drink on the bus, and I’m not smoking or drinking,” he said.

“And that is good, but you also can’t sing, honey, I’m sorry.”

“Because it will give you cancer and kill you? It will make you die?” he asked. Clearly that must be the reason for not doing things on the bus: because they will kill you. With cancer. (?!?!)

“No, honey, singing isn’t going to kill you, but you just can’t do it on the bus.” I said.

“Then what CAN you do on the bus?” he asked.

I mean, if you can’t smoke, and you can’t drink, and now you can’t even sing original songs, what IS a 5-year-old on an 8-minute bus ride to do?

“Nothing, honey. Just sit here quietly and ride the bus,” I said.

“ugh. I don’t like that” Logan said, and went right back in to his song.

“We’re almost HERE! My Daddy drinks BEEEEEEER! But not on the bus because it gives you CANCERRRRR!”

I. Give. Up.

Thank God we were at the movie theater and getting off the bus at that point; I don’t think I would have enjoyed the second verse much.

Recipe: 7-layer cookies

Oh yes. This cookie will make you a favorite neice AND get you a spouse.

Oh yes. This cookie will make you a favorite niece AND get you a spouse.

This cookie is special for many reasons. First, it comes from my Aunt Carrie, who makes the best cookies, fudge and goodies at Christmas time. When I was a junior in college I finally got up the nerve to ask for her recipe. She’s kind of intimidating in her frilly apron setting a 12-foot dining table.
“Oh this? It’s easy! There’s just seven ingredients and you layer them!” she said.

…And my life was changed forever.

I went back to college and promptly made a double batch for a handsome, single fella I knew who was living in Hawaii. I was very careful to purchase a large-ish, clear rubbermaid  food container which I then lined with slices of white bread to keep the cookies moist on their week-long travels across the ocean.

When they arrived, the cookies had melted all over the bread. Matt, being a man starved of both food and attention, ate it all, including the chocolate and coconut covered bread.

I’m fairly certain that those cookies are the reason he eventually married me. Or maybe it was the chocolate and coconut covered white bread. Either way, this recipe is special to me and I hope it can be special for you, too.

INGREDIENTS:

1 stick of butter or margarine

1 pkg of graham crackers

1 cup choc chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 can SWEETENED condensed milk. (not evaporated or regular; those will make this cookie gross.)

Use a bar pan similar to this (if you use a large one, just double the batch), or you can use a 9×11 casserole dish.

DIRECTIONS

Melt the butter in the pan by placing it in the oven at about 250 degrees. While melting, crush the graham crackers in to crumbs. Then sprinkle crumbs evenly over melted butter, they should absorb the butter mostly. Then layer the next ingredients, ending with the SWEETENED condensed milk on top. Place is oven at 325 for about 20 minutes or until the coconut is starting to turn golden brown on the edges. Let cool. Cut in to bars when cool.

Recipe: How to make a Sweet Potato Pie

There are pictures here of two of my pies–one from Thanksgiving 2008 and the one I made tonight–Thanksgiving Eve 2010.

I usually make two sweet potato pies at a time because it doesn’t take any extra time to double the ingredients as you boil the sweet potatoes or toast the nuts. And, once you’ve boiled the sweet potatoes, really, it is all smooth sailing from there. You do, however, have to make sure there is plenty of room in your fridge because these pies take two hours to cool. It is a cold pie, after all.

This pie uses a cornmeal crust–and I learned the hard way to just use the cheap yellow corn meal and not get all fancy with Red’s Mill cornmeal. Red’s is a medium grind, the cheap stuff is a finer grind for good reason. Lets just say  the medium grind is not totally unlike eating egg shells. It is awful. Don’t go there. Just get the cheap stuff for cornmeal crusts.

I’ve put together a step-by-step pictorial on the process to make it easier.

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Pie Filling

This recipe comes from a pie making class I took at Rudy’s A Cook’s Paradise in Twin Falls, Idaho in 2006, taught by Laura Fall-Sutton.

Tarts are a great way to use up scraps

Tarts are a great way to use up scraps

INGREDIENTS:

1lb sweet potatos

1/4 c butter, unsalted

1 recipe cornmeal pastry (below)

1/2 c packed brown sugar

1TBSP finely shredded (zested) orange peal. Navel works well.

1tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

3 slighly beaten eggs

1 C half and half

1 recipe Nut Streusel Topping (below)

Directions:

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a covered sauce pan, French Oven or Stock pot with enough boiling salted water to cover for 25-35 minutes until tender.

Drain potatoes. Then return to the pot and mash. There should be about 1.5 c of mashed sweet potatoes.

Add butter to hot mashed sweet potatoes, stirring until melted.

Zest the orange…

…Stir orange peel, spices, sugar in to sweet potato mixture.

…stir in eggs and half and half.

Set aside so you can prepare the crust…or…while you are boiling those sweet potatoes you could prepare the cornmeal crust (below–at bottom).

Ease the cornmeal pastry crust in to the pie plate. I do this by first rolling out the dough on a parchment paper, then placing the plate upside down on top of the pastry and then flipping it over.

It is fragile. Crimp the edges high.

Fill pastry shell with sweet potato mixture. Cover edge of pie with foil or protector.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes,  Remove protector, sprinkle nut streusel topping on top, bake for another 20-25 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool for two hours on wire rack, then cool for an additional two hours in fridge before serving.


NUT STREUSEL TOPPING:

1/4 c all-purpose flour

1/4 c packed brown sugar

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

2 TBSP butter

1/4 c toasted and chopped hazelnuts or almonds

DIRECTIONS:

Mix ingredients except for nuts; cutting in butter until resebles crumbs. Add nuts. Sprinkle on top of pie at correct time. NOTE: to toast nuts, simply chop and place on baking sheet for 30 minutes in oven with pie as it bakes.


CORN MEAL PASTRY

3/4 c all-purpose flour

1/2 c yellow cornmeal (get fine ground; DO NOT get Red’s, it will feel like egg shells)

1TBSP sugar

1/3 c shortening (use butter flavored crisco)

3-5 TBSP ice water

DIRECTIONS:

Mix dry ingredients; cutting in shortening until pea-sized. Add one TBSP of water at a time, tossing with fork after each addition. Roll dough in to ball when done. Place ball in fridge until ready to roll out and put in pie plate.

Thursday, March 26: Rustic Peach Cobbler–or–Lazy Lady’s Pie

Rustic Peach Cobbler is very quick and easy

Rustic Peach Cobbler is very quick and easy. And ugly.

Logan wanted to make apple pie today; I just didn’t feel like peeling 15 apples. So I made what may be the EASIEST peach cobbler e-v-e-r by taking canned peaches from Costco and following my favorite apple pie recipe.  Where ever you see “apples” just replace with “peaches”.

I used that hard-core casserole dish I love so much, putting the bottom crust on the bottom of it and rolling out a top crust and just placing it on top. Its ugly, but its yummy. I adjust the apple recipe a smidgeon–increasing the spices and the starch

Here’s how it basically goes:

6 cups sliced peaches with about half of the juice.

1.5 c sugar
5tbsp tapioca starch
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp nutmeg
dash mace (20-30 shakes)
.25 tsp salt

pastry for two crust pie (see below)
*.25 c milk
*.25 c w. sugar

*for top of crust

Place sliced apples in to prepared lower crust; combine the next 6
ingredients and sprinkle over apples. Top with upper
crust,  brush top crust with milk, sprinkle sugar.

Bake at 450* for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350* and bake for 45
minutes longer.
crust:
2 c flour
.5 tsp salt
2/3 c butter flavored Crisco
6-7 tbsp ice water

Fill a glass with ice and water, set aside.
Mix the salt and flour and cut the crisco in until the dough is pea
shaped and sized. Then add ice water, 3 tbsp at a time, still cutting.
do not touch the dough.

Remove the dough, touching as little as possible, and create two
balls–one slightly larger than the other. wrap in parchment paper and
place in the fridge until ready to use; at least 20 minutes. If
planning to make a lattice top, place dough in FREEZER for at least 20
minutes.

If possible, put pastry board and rolling pin in the fridge the night
before so they are cool enough for working the dough when ready.

Use smaller dough ball for bottom crust; keep larger one in the fridge
until ready to top the pie.

Red Wine Pot Roast Recipe

red wine pot roast with fresh thyme before going in the oven

red wine pot roast with fresh thyme before going in the oven

This is one of Matt’s favorite recipes. It originally comes from Dave Lieberman’s Good Deal.

This recipe takes about five hours, so make sure and start on it in the early afternoon or late morning.

So easy, so yummy: red wine potroast is a family favorite

So easy, so yummy: red wine potroast is a family favorite


Ingredients:

Bottom Round cut of beef, about 4 lbs

3Tbsp veggie oil

salt, pepper

3 onions, chopped

1 entire garlic, WHOLE but peeled

4 carrots, chopped

2 cup  chicken or veggie stock

2 tbsp honey

left over red wine..about half a bottle

fresh thyme

4 potatoes, cut in one-inch cubes

carrots, garlic and onions saute in the roast juices before going in the oven with the meat

carrots, garlic and onions saute in the roast juices before going in the oven with the meat

DIRECTIONS:

Cover the Beef in the salt and pepper on all sides. Put the veggie oil (or olive oil) in a dutch-oven or french oven. Over medium-high heat, sear all the sides of the beef. Set aside. In the same pot the beef was seared in, saute the onions, garlic and carrots.

Add 2 cups veggie or chicken stock and left over red wine. Add honey, simmer. Add meat back, simmer. Add fresh thyme, about 5-6 sprigs. Cover and cook in the oven at 350 for about two hours, turning the beef-way through. After the two hours, add the potatoes and coo another 30-45 minutes. Done when fork-tender.