Ike and Bikes

1973 … a health scare meets an environmental crisis … and everyone is buying a new bike.

Sound familiar?

Get the whole story at The Spokesmen, EPISODE 246: 

“The bike world has never seen anything like this”: Jay Townley on Bike Boom 2020 vs Bike Boom 1970-4

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Sage Advice

Start with yumm.

~ advice from our almost 3 year old on how to approach a meal

Posted in breakfast, family, first words, foodie quotes, health and welfare reports, kids, lame attempts at humor, meditations, mental health, Parenting 101, toddlers | Leave a comment

Ear Drops

Hope hates her eardrops. They’re cold and make her ears feel squishy.

And she is part idiosyncratic, part control freak, so to put them in, you have to have a certain blanket on your lap, a different washcloth under her chin, and a tissue by her ear.

So, I went through the 10 minute prep process to get ready to administer the eardrops, and I asked Hope which ear she wanted first.

She said, “My sister’s”

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There is no Fermi’s Paradox

Take SJG’s punctuated equilibrium and extrapolate over a billion solar systems instead of a million earth years. The math ain’t that hard. The problem is the assumption that earth-like consciousness is a typical outcome. It’s not. And when it does present, they all do the same thing we’re doing: offing themselves before they invent a decent intergalactic dune buggy.

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A Glorious Dawn

Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise.

MC Sagan featuring Snoop Hawking Dog.

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Two Generations Apart

The world ain’t comin’ to an end, my friend.
The world is comin’ to a start.

Purlie Victorious Judson

My dad got an iPhone two Novembers ago. His intent was to be able to FaceTime the grandkids. Fourteen months later, he has yet to initiate a call.
IMG_1101Meanwhile, this morning, my two-and-a-half year old daughter grabbed my phone and asked Siri to put some candy in her backpack to take to school. 

One generation sees technology as an insurmountable hurdle; the other, as a door to limitless potential and opportunities.

My dad tells me they’re out of ammunition in Mississippi, where he has chosen to hang his hat. He’s thinking about buying an H2 Hummer, so, in his words, he can get off the grid and hit the woods if things really go south.

What’s that all about? I ask.

I just don’t like the direction this country is going … 

Which is what both the Federalists and Anti-Federalists were saying two hundred and thirty-whatever years ago. And what half of each generation has said every twenty years since. One of these days, someone’s going to be right, I guess. Doesn’t take Nate Silver to figure out that a guy batting .015 will eventually get a hit, if he swings often enough. (And don’t even get me started about a dude in a Hummer getting off the grid. One word: gasoline.)

Meanwhile, our little one — remember, she’s 2½ — thought one of the wheels on her doll stroller was wobbling, so she grabbed a wrench and pliers and flipped the thing over, intent on fixing it. Because everything is fixable to her. Everything. If not with duct tape and pliers, then with a band-aid and a kiss.

20121209-195611.jpgPut her in the kitchen, and she’ll start throwing things together, 100% convinced that it’s going to generate a pie or mac-n-cheese or cookies or something.

So, is the world coming to an end, or to a start? My first instinctive response is to say it’s a generational response. Our little one hasn’t been burned yet, whilst my old man has been around the block more than once. In round trips around the big ball of fire, I’m significantly closer to my dad than to my daughter — 70% of the way to my dad’s age, half a century away from the little one. On paper, I should be leaning in my dad’s direction.

And yet, at the same time, I don’t see how this attitude is not a choice. My dad sees his iPhone, and the screen is too small, the icons move all over the place, he can’t remember how he got to that thing he was looking at the other day. My daughter sees the same device, and she sees a servant standing by to grant most any wish. She can video chat with cousins and aunts and uncles (and grandparents, if she can get them to answer) , watch Curious George, learn shapes and colors … and maybe, someday, use it to fill her backpack with candy.

Maybe it takes a lot of work to stay in the optimistic camp. Maybe we all eventually slip into “glass isn’t just half empty, it has a damn whole in the bottom” mode. But I know one little girl who will find a surprise in her backpack after school today.

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Bon Hiver 2012

Hoping everyone gets to say hello to the flakes this winter.

First Snow, Northern Exposure Season 5

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Little Memorex

I have to remember that Hope is a little sponge, taking everything in, and repeating nearly all of it back atcha. Even stuff you don’t remember saying.

We’re making breakfast this morning, and Hope dropped a bowl. It was a little bowl, and it didn’t break, but it was really loud.

I absent-mindedly said “boom,” which is what I always say when she falls down, just a habit I picked up trying to distract her from being scared or thinking about how a skinned knee hurts. Somehow I transferred “boom” to dropping stuff, too.

Hope didn’t look up, but quietly started half-singing, “boom goes the dynamite, boom goes the dynamite.”

So I guess swear words are next.

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New Favorite Pancakes

IMG_8819I really thought these would be my favorite forever. High protein, high fiber, healthy but tasty. Ahh, but life at the top is always short-lived. Someone’s always there to knock you off. And now we have a new top dog, courtesy Michelle at One Ordinary Day.

How good are they? Our 25 pound little two year old ate three at one sitting. Her mom, who says pancakes always fill her up, cleaned her plate. As a veteran of many an Episcopalian pancake dinner, it’s always been my job to make the left-over batter disappear, but alas, there was none this time.

IMG_8823Two caveats:
1. The first time around, the outsides (tops and bottoms) of the pancakes firmed up too quickly, leaving the insides undercooked. Might be our altitude, given that these have both baking powder and soda. After five years, I should have a handle on altitude issues by now, but I can never remember the rules. All we did was increase the milk a skosh so the batter was thinner, and it worked like a charm. So, simple matter: when you’re done, if the batter looks too thick, thin it out with an extra ¼ cup milk.
2. We’re trying to limit the use of teflon and used a non-non-stick pan. Adding the berries to the top placed them directly against the hot pan when we flipped the cakes, burning some and making others stick. So we just added the berries into the batter before pouring onto the skillet.

Oatmeal-Yogurt Pancakes, adapted from One Ordinary Day

IMG_9678What You Need:
1½ cup rolled oats
1 cup unflavored Greek yogurt
1½ cup milk
1½ cup A-P flour (preferably King Arthur white whole wheat)
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mixed berries

IMG_9676What You Do:

Mix the oats, yogurt, and milk in a large bowl and set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in another bowl.

After 30 minutes, beat the eggs and mix them into the oats. Then the vanilla. In batches, mix in the flour mixture and gently stir. Right before cooking, add the berries. (Can always save the berries to top off the cooked pancakes, which is nice if you’re not going to finish off the batter. Batter will last in the fridge for about two days, in a tightly sealed container.)


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Chocolate – Peppermint Checkerboards

20120815-073027.jpgHere’s a project with some extra math, just because we know all kids love math. Obviously all recipes call for a little math: addition, proportions, fractions. But this one adds some geometry.

This is a basic icebox sugar cookie, but adding chocolate to half and using a quick little stacking trick, you get the checkerboard effect with no heavy lifting or heavier thinking.

20121214-085311.jpgWhat You Need:

Two sticks of butter (1 cup, half a pound) (softened)
¾ cup baker’s or granulated sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp salt
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs dutch-process cocoa
1 oz semisweet chocolate (melted, then cooled)
3-4 Tbs crushed peppermint sticks (optional)

What You Do:

Beat the butter, both sugars, and salt with either the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or a regular electric mixer — around 3 minutes on medium speed, until it’s 100% incorporated and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and give it another minute. Add the flour a half-cup at a time and mix on slow. Then divide the dough into two halves.

IMG_8504The first half can either be left alone for a chocolate-vanilla cookie, or you can mix the crushed peppermint into the dough.

With the second half, mix in the two chocolates.

IMG_0657Place a large square of wax paper on the counter and scrape out the dough in the center of the paper. Gently shape the dough into a rectangular bar, around 10 inches long, 1 inch high, and 2 inches wide, and then fold the paper around the dough and form it into as smooth and squared-off as you can. Repeat with the second half of the dough.

IMG_0656Wrap both bars in plastic wrap (you can leave it in the wax paper) and refrigerate for about an hour, maybe two, until it’s firm. Then unwrap the bars and slice them long-ways, resulting in two vanilla sticks and two chocolate sticks, both 10″ x 1″ x 1″.

IMG_0659Place one vanilla stick next side-by-side with a chocolate stick. Then place the other vanilla stick on top of the chocolate stick, and the other chocolate on top of the vanilla. (Geometry! Yay!)
Re-wrap them in wax paper and give them a gentle squeeze to form one large 2″ x 2″ bar. Then re-wrap with plastic wrap and return to the fridge.

IMG_0658At this point you can either heat up the oven, or save the dough for another day to do the actual baking.

20121214-085254.jpgWhen you’re ready, heat the oven to 325° and line a couple of baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.

20121214-085245.jpgSlice off quarter inch squares from the end of your dough bar, and place them one-half to one inch apart on the cookie sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes, just until the edges start to very lightly brown. Remove from the oven, cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then complete cooling on a wire rack.

Posted in baking, cookies, holidays, kids, seasonal, toddlers | 4 Comments