The Magic Hour

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

As a kid, I hated the end of daylight savings time. I grew up in New England, where the darkness falls noticeably earlier than it does around here, and "falling back" banished much of my waking hours to darkness. Thinking back to my years in high school, I realized I have no memories of daylight during the month of December.

What a difference parenthood makes. Having kids has dragged me, kicking and screaming, from night owl to morning bird. With two kids, there is no such thing as sleeping in. But rather than fight it, I've relished it. I understand that I'm at my best in the early morning, and for nearly two years, I've been trying to get up even before the kids for an hour of pre-dawn me time -- my magic hour. But it was hard to get into the magic-hour groove in October, knowing that the sun would rise at 7:30 a.m., long after the kids were bounding about.

Now that we've fallen back, I'm back to enjoying the twilight, and the magic hour has again become my best and most productive hour -- with no threat of anyone disturbing me. Here's how I can spend it:

1. Correspondence: Not only are e-mails and voice mails sent at 6 a.m. impressive in their own, slightly sick way, but you're not likely to get an instant response. Middle-of-the-day e-mails often mean a quick reply, and the ensuing back-and-forth just kills my rhythm.

2. Writing: I am shocked at how much I can get done with zero interruptions -- I must write five times faster. I know most of you aren't writers, but I'm sure you all have little personal or professional projects that would take off if you could just string together 45 minutes of calm.

3. Reading: If the newspaper doesn't get read by 7 a.m., it ain't gonna happen. But before the sun rises, I actually have a fighting chance to read -- at the very least -- the comics (can't miss "Frazz").

4. Breakfast: It takes about 10 minutes, start-to-finish, to prepare a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and apple slices (same goes for pancakes). By the time the kids are up, there is no way I can spare those 10 minutes. (Eggos anyone? Cheerios?) But get started just a few minutes earlier, and I can be Martha Friggin' Stewart.

5. Exercise: OK, I'm a year removed from my early-run habit, but there was something powerful about working up a brisk sweat first thing -- it really set a nice tone for the day.

I'm sure some of you out there are also early risers -- how do you make the most of your morning?

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  November 30, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Tips
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I have also been an early riser all my life. I think I got it from my father who, if the kids weren't up by the time he thought we should be played a John Phillip Sousa march loudly on the phonograph (yup - the phonograph) to get us up. I have to leave for work by 6am which means I am up at 4:40 to shower, do hair and makeup, walk the dog, make coffee and pack lunch. My idea of sleeping in is 7am on the weekends. I can be up, to the gym, home for coffee and laundry and cleaning and be done by 11am when some people are just straggling out of bed. It's great for Sat am post office runs - no line!

Posted by: Early rising former yankee | November 30, 2006 7:17 AM

Ugh, My commute is now an hour each way (and I live just 12 miles outside of the city!!) so my morning exercise routine has stopped. I just can't manage to get up at 5:30 AM to exercise--I'm not a morning person. Traffic in DC sucks!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 7:23 AM

I'm still in the phase where I don't stir from bed until my daughter wakes (in my defense, she's still up 1-2x a night, so I need that sleep), but I often think it would be great to get up before she does.

My grand plan? A shower. A long, unobserved, uninterrupted shower. A shower that takes place at an hour when I won't spend the mid-afternoon running errands with wet hair. A shower that's not precisely calculated to last exactly as long as the baby will tolerate watching me from her jumperoo.

I wonder, when did you train yourself to get up early? How old were your kids? With a one-year-old and another on the way, I have a hard time imagining a time when I'd voluntarily leave my bed before I absolutely have to.

Posted by: NewSAHM | November 30, 2006 7:55 AM

I envy early risers. I am a slug in the morning. The kid's school schedule gets me up at 6 am, but in the summer we are all sleeping in till 7:30 or 8. My 5 year old wakes up first on the weekends and I try to coax him to go downstairs and turn on the TV, but he manages to annoy me enough to get me out of bed.

I wish I had the ability to get up and exercise - I know I would have more energy the rest of the day.

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise! My mother woke me up with this every morning when I was growing up. Too bad it didn't stick!

Posted by: cmac | November 30, 2006 7:58 AM

Early rising former yankee,

What time do you get to bed?

Posted by: AnotherRockvilleMom | November 30, 2006 8:07 AM

With a three year old and one on the way, my idea of luxury is a cup of coffee I can drink solo to collect my thoughts before going into battle. Problem is, last three months no matter how early I get up, my son hears me and decides it's time to get the party started!

Posted by: PTJobFTMom | November 30, 2006 8:10 AM

I usually can't make it past 1030. I don't bother trying to watch a show that starts at 10 'cause I know I won't make it. Thank goodness for DVRs.

Posted by: Early rising former yankee | November 30, 2006 8:16 AM

PTJobFTMom,
Do you share your bed with your 3 yr old? If yes, then pls consider moving him to his own bed in another room. I shared my bed with my daughter for almost the first two years with my daughter and I can relate to this post. She would be up the minute I did. I remember one Black Friday at 5:00AM I had just turned on my computer and she was up! My theory is she has an overactive radar when we share a bed but this Black Friday she slept till 10:00 AM in her own bed.

Posted by: AnotherRockvilleMom | November 30, 2006 8:18 AM

I'm also up by 7 am on the weekends. I do all of the week's laundry and ironing, house cleaning, and cook up 3 or 4 meals for the upcoming week while the rest of the family sleeps. I also do the yardwork or snow removal as needed.

Part of the time I am doing these chores, I chat on the phone to my 2 aged aunts who don't have much contact with the world.

By the time my family is stumbling down the stairs at noon, most of the grunt work is done and we can enjoy the rest of the weekend together.

There are some advantages to be a morning person and having an "A" type personality.

Posted by: Liz | November 30, 2006 8:26 AM

I too can call my mother and brother who are also early risers while I am working around the house or walking the dog. They do get suspicious when I flush the toilet when I am cleaning the bathroom :-)

Posted by: Early rising former yankee | November 30, 2006 8:32 AM

the magic hour for me is from 9-10. All the must-do reactionary work is done and time to crank on something. This applied when reactionary work was picking up the house or answering emails!

Posted by: dotted | November 30, 2006 8:34 AM

Wake up time for me averages around 3:00 am. I usually make a cup of coffee and read the end of yesterday's comments on both Achenblog and this here the Mommy Blog. Now that is approaching the holiday , I like to practise Christmas musidc on my guitar.

The cats love me. It's my job to either let them out or in, whichever the case may be.

On good days, I'll go out and jump on the trampoline. Hope the neighbors don't mind. The noise it makes is strikenly similar to that of a couple engaged in wild sex on a squeaky matress and boxsprings. 600 jumps takes about 20 minutes. Ha! I've never made love on a trampoline, but the idea has merit.

then its time to eat a little breakfast, take a shot, then off to the shower.

To conserve electricity, I never turn the light on in the bathroom, and when I get out, I almost always set off the fire alarm which is located on the cieling right outside the door. It doesn't even wake the kids up anymore wich I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, since I try to shut the thing up by waving the towell that used to be around my waiste at it.
Picture your dad doing that! Hmmm..., come to think of it, no wonder the kids don't get up when they hear it go off.

Then I wake the wife up to dress me.

sometimes I've arrived at work and had a co-worker ask, "Did you dress yourself, or piss off the wife?"

I run into funny people everywhere.

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 30, 2006 8:35 AM

My wife, son, and I are in bed between 8 and 9, and I'm up for work at 5.30. I go through some phases where I only need 7 hours of sleep, so I was in bed by 8, and up by 3. ( I did force myself back to sleep for 3 hours cuz it's just ludicrous to wake up so early). I'm lucky that work doesn't care too much when I arrive and leave as long as i put in my 8-10 hours.

I can pretty much go to sleep and wake up at any time between 7pm and 1 Am, then wake up 7 to 9 hours later.

My only constant is that if it gets light outside, I'm awake.

Posted by: f01 | November 30, 2006 8:57 AM

To Father of 4: So if there is ever a fire your family will ignore the alarm thinking their naked dad is waving a towel in the hallway? Quite a funny sight I am sure. What bugs me about getting up early is that the dog stays in bed until I am dressed and ready to take him for his walk at 5:30. And when I get up he moves into my spot with his head near my pillow.

Posted by: Former yankee early riser | November 30, 2006 8:58 AM

I'm usually up at 3:45 in the morning, get dressed and go walk a 2-3 mile route 4-5 days a week before I go to work. My work day starts at 6:30 am and fortunately for me I live only 12 minutes from the office, and I still have time for a leisurely shower, breakfast and drive. I'm usually in bed between 9:00 and 10:00 pm too.

On weekends I stay in bed a bit longer, usually until around 7:30 or 8:00.

Posted by: John | November 30, 2006 9:00 AM

Brian, I can't do it. I'm still holding out.

All my career I've been most productive between whatever-time-I-finish-dinner and 1am. I focus better and write better. And the boy's in bed by then.

Naturally, the little guy wants to be up at 5am. Thankfully my early-riser wife lets me sleep until 6, which gives me between 5-6 hours of sleep a night. By Thursday (today? what day is it?) I'm a zombie.

But I can't stop. I'm working fewer hours now that the baby is here, so the quality has to be better than the other guy's if I still want to stand out around here.

Catch 22. Back to the grind...

Posted by: Proud Papa | November 30, 2006 9:06 AM

Neither our old dogs with weak bladders nor our two year old will let us sleep in. So I'm an early riser by default. And because our daugher wakes up a couple of times a night still, I can't see getting up even earlier. I'm longing for the days when I will have to get her up out of bed in the morning!

Posted by: PLS | November 30, 2006 9:08 AM

I have been an early riser for most of my life, and now that my son is older (he's 9) I can get up early while everyone is sleeping, run for 40 minutes, and still have time to walk the dog. The trade-off is that I have to be in bed by 9 am or the entire plan falls apart, but I am used to this schedule and it lets me start off the day knowing that I have done one thing for myself (without taking too much time away from the family).

Posted by: KrisD | November 30, 2006 9:23 AM

I've had the opposite experience.

Used to be a morning person, now so sleep-deprived from juggling work & kids (sleep is what's gone by the wayside)that I'm no longer able to get up early. And once I do I can barely function pre-coffee.

But my sentiments are the same as yours, Brian: love the way kids have turned my world upside down.

Posted by: Leslie | November 30, 2006 9:23 AM

I've always been an early riser, but my children are as well so I've lost the golden hour (temporarily, I think). If I can feel productive by 8:00, it's going to be a good day.

But I am done for by 9:30 at night most nights! I'll second the poster who said "thank goodness for DVRs"!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 30, 2006 9:24 AM

"I must write five times faster."

But perhaps you could use the time you saved by writing five times faster to proofread:

"I grew up in New England, where the darkness falls noticeable earlier than it does around here." (noticeably)

"What a different parenthood makes." (difference)

EDITOR: once again, the Post is a reputable newspaper. If you don't stick to some reasonable standard of grammar and spelling, who will??

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 9:25 AM

Leslie

Coffee is bad for you, stains your teeth, and makes your breath reek!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 9:26 AM

And we were all getting along SO well this am.
He DID write noticeably in the first paragraph - where are you reading? And why do you care? The point was made without the grammer police.

Posted by: To anonymous at 09.25 | November 30, 2006 9:29 AM

I've always been an early riser (in my senior year of college I would get up at 4:30 to study--but I only needed 6 hours of sleep back then). Now I go for a four mile walk with the dog at 5:30 am. It's the only time I can sneak in some exercise. The biggest time saver for me? Changing hairstyles. At 48, I'm no longer the office fashionista, so I no longer feel like I have to spend 35 minutes with the hair dryer every morning for that perfect hairstyle (yes, gentlemen--that's not a typo. 35 minutes.)

Posted by: FC | November 30, 2006 9:34 AM

I'm an early riser. All the things that seem to tiring in the evening get done in a breeze at 5 a.m.

I got started when my kids were in Middle school. I could get up and go to 6 a.m. aerobics and be back in time to be sure they caught the bus. I'd get up at 5, make my own lunch, put their breakfasts out and leave. Amazingly they would get up when their alarms went off and stumble down to eat their breakfasts. If that didn't happen then I was back in time to be sure everybody got to school. But mostly it did happen.

Probably in 30 years my kids will be writing columns on whatever the media is complaining that their Mom deserted them for step aerobics! I'm just gonna hope they're writing those columns at 5 a.m.

Posted by: RoseG | November 30, 2006 9:35 AM

FC

Oh, for the good ole days of primping for hours in front of the mirror!

Posted by: DZ | November 30, 2006 9:37 AM

I don't have kids yet, but cats and dogs, so I guess I'll be prepared when I do have kids: meowing cats who cry and knock things off shelves to get attention, whining dogs who have to pee. Because I am the walking dichotomy of loving to get up early but still being a zombie, my husband takes all the thinking duties (making lunches, feeding the beasts) in the morning and I get to enjoy a brisk walk with the dogs. And the best part? We both think we got the best job.

Posted by: kate | November 30, 2006 9:37 AM

Grammar.
I care because we are all going to forget how to write correctly if papers like the Post do a shoddy job of checking their output.
FYI, the sentences read just as quoted. They may have been corrected since.
The point is, nobody is going to presume that the people who write comments are professional, edited writers and can use proper syntax and spelling, but when the Post publishes a blog it puts its reputation behind it. If the writer is better at "content" than at "form," so be it; that is why papers employ editors to make sure the form is up to par too.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 9:37 AM

I agree wholeheartedly with RoseG. For some reason I can't bear to do the pots and pans at night but zip right thru them first thing in the am - sometimes at 5:45 before I go to work (like I did this am). Why is this?

Posted by: Former yankee early riser | November 30, 2006 9:39 AM

I never post, but read often, mostly just to see exactly how nasty people can be. That usually inspires me to be extra aware of how I treat people through out the day. Today you guys were doing quite well until the grammar police showed up. But I am curious, do the grammar police get some sort of purient thrill out of pointing out these little writing mishaps. I mean honestly, if you care that much, I would just not bother to read this blog. It will just ruin day.

Posted by: ToTheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 9:41 AM

5:30?? May as well be middle of the night! I hate the time change -- all that daylight wasted while I sleep. I just can't do early mornings. We worked from day one to help our child be a good sleeper - he's down at 8:30 and up around 7 or 7:30. His first order of business is to head to Mom and Dad's room to snuggle while we finish our coffee in bed. Very civilized way to start the day -- then, of course, it's a mad dash to get out the door in 20 minutes flat. But I wouldn't trade that first 1/2 hour or so in bed chatting about the day and having coffee. It's actually really great family time.

Posted by: VAtoddlerMom | November 30, 2006 9:41 AM

As an aside, did anyone catch the NPR piece about a hiring bias against mothers in Pennsylvania. According to the piece, Pennsylvania is among many where it is not illegal to discriminate in hiring based on parental status or marital status.
How can we achieve balance if the law does not support us?

Posted by: A | November 30, 2006 9:44 AM

The Post and the Post website are two different things, run from two different offices. Blogs appear not to be edited or even spell checked, perhaps to keep things casual?

Posted by: December 10 | November 30, 2006 9:45 AM

To NewSAHM: It took me until my first was 3 before I could put it all together, but I wish I had started as soon as she was sleeping through the night.

To Fo4/Fo1/John: 3 a.m.? Holy moly! Now you're making *me* feel lazy.

To Proud Papa: Whatever works for you. I'm usually spent by 8 p.m., and I feel bad crawling back to the writing hole when the wife is about and the kids are not ...

To Leslie: Ahhh ... coffee. Pre-children, I couldn't stomach the stuff. Now, I absolutely need the caffeine. Coffee is just the drug delivery system ... I went from a never-ever coffee guy to someone with a European espresso machine on my counter.

And, as always, apologies for the typos. I've gone back in and fixed the errors noted. And I'll read everything twice as carefully next time. Maybe after a second cup of coffee.

Posted by: Brian Reid | November 30, 2006 9:45 AM

Well, it has now been three weeks since the Washington Post has been delivered to my house. The delivery subcontractor still does not acknowledge or return phone calls, and apparently the Washington Post doesn't really care.

Do not bother subscribing to the Washington Post if you live in Lexington Park, MD.

Don't waste your money paying for a product not delivered.

Posted by: Don't Bother | November 30, 2006 9:48 AM

I am sorry, but I am a little puzzled by the comments. I understand this is becoming a largely illiterate nation, but I am at a loss as to why this should be seen as a good thing.
As I said, nobody expects the posters to be competent writers. But I think it is entirely appropriate to expect the bloggers (i.e. professional or semi-professional writers, presumably paid to do their job) and the editors to ensure that the product that is published under the aegis of one of the most distinguished newspapers in the country to contain no grammar and spelling mistakes.
I am not going to belabor the point, but I do find it worrisome that people are so quick to condone sloppy writing. Language is a treasure that is slowly being lost. I would think the parents on this blog would be committed to save it for their children and to make sure their children grow up to be competent speakers and writers, avid readers of *well-written* prose (and poetry), and citizens who are proud of the rich heritage of the English language.
Over and out from the grammar police.

Posted by: TheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 9:51 AM

Proud Papa, I'm right there with you. I've always been a night owl, did my best studying in college after everyone else went to bed, then would happily sleep till the crack of noon. Unfortunately, both of my kids seem to have inherited my husband's up-BEFORE-the-sun engineer gene -- my daughter was happily up at 6 as a baby (though it's moving towards 7 now, thank GOD), and now my son hardly ever sleeps past 5:30. Luckily, my husband and I trade off mornings on the weekend, so we each get to sleep in one day -- although it is weird that 8 AM now feels like a luxury, when I used to think it was the crack of freaking dawn.

I actually don't mind that one weekend morning too much, though. Usually it's Sunday, which means I've had a decent night's sleep the night before. And when my son was little, it was nice to snuggle with him on the sofa in my bathrobe, all covered with a blanket. Now that he's toddling about, he just wants to play with toys and bash things, so I just close the door and run the DVR and watch all the shows that bore my husband. And when my daughter gets up, we snuggle with cartoons, then I make a big breakfast for everyone. Sometimes it's nice to pretend to be June Cleaver for a morning. :-)

Posted by: Laura | November 30, 2006 9:55 AM

All the writers who were parents in the last workshop I took said the same thing about early morning writing. I've always been a late evening kind of person, so I'm hoping I'll be able to adjust when the time comes.

And "Don't Bother" - what kind of response are you expecting by anonymously spamming blogs? Contact the circulation manager, or go knock on your neighbors' doors and find out who's swiping the darn thing. It'd be a far more productive use of time.

Posted by: fs | November 30, 2006 10:03 AM

I am not the grammar police, but the grammar and spelling errors bother me. There have been many references on this blog about education. Parents seem very concerned about their children receiving a college education. They also seem somewhat condescending toward those who do not have a college education. There have been comments about acceptable research methods, survey results, and things that were learned in freshman year of college.

I am 50 years old and graduated high school at a time when financial aid for college was not available in the same way it is today. I came from a family who could not afford to send me to college. I started my working life in an entry level position, took some community college courses along the way as well as in-house training at work. I have risen to the level of computer programmer/analyst, yet I don't have a college degree.

Because of my lack of a college degree, I have been blocked from changing jobs to those companies that require a degree regardless of my long, successful work history. I have been told, "Well, just go back to school then." I won't do that at this point because I like the balance in my life that school would disrupt.

However, I do feel that I am treated with less respect because of my lack of formal education at the college level. So, it really does bother me when "college-educated" people ignore basic grammar and spelling. It is a big deal when you don't use the education you have.

Of course, I do make allowances for human error. I try to look at some of the mistakes as "typos" rather than actual errors caused by the typist. That is why I haven't commented on the grammar before today.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 10:03 AM

I'm not naturally an early riser, but in the last year, during which I've been pregnant for all but a month, I've discovered weekend mornings! No longer do I stay out until 3am and sleep past noon. I LOVE having all the chores and errands done before noon, sometimes before 9. Then the rest of the afternoon we can do whatever we want! And the dog benefits hugely. During the week, though, I get up at the last possible minute. I'm very happy to get from bed to the office in less than an hour. However, I LOVE the idea of morning snuggle time once the baby comes. I'd gladly get up lots earlier for that. Considering husband is up at 5:30 and out the door at 6:30, that would mean 4:30-5:30 snuggle time! Holy going to bed early!

Posted by: atb | November 30, 2006 10:11 AM

Yo Grammar Police, I don't think it's a question of people not caring about the destruction of the English language (awful lot to read into a couple of typos, dontcha think?).

It's a blog, it's not the published Post. I agree with you that grammatical errors in a published article in the Post would really bug me. But this is just a blog, so they don't.

Second, we're talking about typos here. If someone doesn't comprehend the basic rules of grammar and spelling (like, say, the difference between its and it's), yeah, that bugs me. But when the guy's fingers slip or he has a brain fart at the keyboard, I'm just not going to get riled up about it -- especially before he's had his daily shot of coffee.

You are of course welcome to disagree. But don't write off my failure to jump all over Brian as not caring about the destruction of the English language. Good Lord, I'm the daughter of two English Professors -- I might get disowned if that rumor got around!

Posted by: Laura | November 30, 2006 10:15 AM

I envy those of you who have embraced the early morning hours. For me, the only unpleasant aspect of being a mom of 2 young kids is that they bounce out of bed before 7 (usually 6-630) every day, even on weekends. My husband and I are not morning people and can't seem to convert ourselves. So I'm looking forward to the time when the boys are old enough to play on weekend mornings by themselves without supervision while we sleep in. Anybody know when that happens?

Posted by: randommom | November 30, 2006 10:16 AM

I'm a dedicated night owl. While I love the early morning and the quiet and calm it brings, I can only enjoy this when I am acutally fully awake... a state which it takes a battle to attain for me. I usually wake up between 7-7:45 (luckily for me I live 2.5 miles away from the office so getting there doesn't take very long). The only time I get up earlier than that is when I have to catch an early flight for business (when traveling for pleasure, I make certain the flight leaves no earlier than 3 in the afternoon). I'm not married nor do I have kids, but before I do I would like to try getting more out of my mornings. My problem is after I leave the office at night I head home, eat dinner, and then inevitably end up sitting in front of the computer working for another 3 hours. How do I train myself to become an early riser when it's a completely unnatural state for me?

Posted by: 215 | November 30, 2006 10:16 AM

I'm not so inclined to take Brian to task for his grammar/spelling skills as for his diet.

His item #4: "Breakfast: It takes about 10 minutes, start-to-finish, to prepare a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and apple slices (same goes for pancakes). By the time the kids are up, there is no way I can spare those 10 minutes. (Eggos anyone? Cheerios?) But get started just a few minutes earlier, and I can be Martha Friggin' Stewart."

Well, truth be told, the Eggos and Cheerios are infinitely healthier breakfast items than eggs and bacon.

Why spend your precious extra minutes clogging your arteries?

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 10:19 AM

To: anon at 10:03

Amen.

Incidentally, the recently published book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" (by Lynne Truss) is a useful, and funny, primer on some basic punctuation and grammar issues--well worth picking up!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 10:20 AM

The only thing worse then the grammar police are the food police.

Posted by: to pittypat | November 30, 2006 10:28 AM

I think we're all a lot more tired in the evenings (particular the early risers among us) than we know.

I've timed emptying the dishwasher. It takes something like 3 minutes. That's nothing! But I put it off.

My whole early morning experience makes me think it's smart to pay attention to when you're up for certain tasks and plan your day to catch yourself in an up moment.

One of my greatest annoyances used to be that I would get a rush of focused quiet problem-solving energy right about 4:30 p.m. The baby had to be picked up on time and I'd be right in the middle of a good work spell and forget I was supposed to leave work. Nothing was every going right at 2:30-3 p.m. I'd have been happy to leave then!

Posted by: RoseG | November 30, 2006 10:35 AM

"The only thing worse then the grammar police are the food police."

Do you mean "than"?

(You asked for it.)

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 10:36 AM

I agree on the food policing. Come on, folks, it is not your job to control what other people eat. Plus, there is something wonderful and warm about scrambled eggs in the morning. Just had some myself, with one link of sausage no less!!

Posted by: Emily | November 30, 2006 10:38 AM

Okay, Pittypat, you take the cake for annoying blogger of the day by taking on the role of grammar police AND food police at the same time. You must have been hall monitor when you were in school.

Posted by: Emily | November 30, 2006 10:41 AM

I love my kids beyond reason but here's what I dream about when they're grown:

-Sleeping past 7 am on the weekends
-Cleaning up only after myself
-Being able to read the newspaper in the morning at the same time as my husband

I wish that a few times a year I could time-travel back to the carefree days pre-kid. That's all I'd need. My uncle told me once, "The thing about having kids is that it's a 20-year-run with no time off." So true!

Posted by: Leslie | November 30, 2006 10:43 AM

Laura--

I am totally with you: there are typos (or, uh, "brain farts") and there are bona fide mistakes. Presumably Brian knows the difference. But do his readers? Brian writes (again, I assume, professionally or semi-professionally) under the banner of a major publication. He should be a model. If he is not--and again, clearly there are brilliant authors who cannot spell for beans--then his editor should make sure he is. And I don't buy the difference between blogs and published columns. The Web is a publishing medium. Again: I DO NOT expect posters to have perfect grammar--although there are many excellent writers on this blog. I DO expect the initial column to have been competently proofread.

Of course I don't think Brian's typos spell the destruction of the English language. But I do think people's general indifference to issues of linguistic correctness (who cares if it's its/it's, than/then, their/there, grammar/grammer, etc.) and their hostility to any insistence that these things matter have a seriously eroding effect on our communal knowledge of our language.

Its just two bad that their are so many people who dont care how too rite; there kid's wont care either.

Posted by: TheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 10:43 AM

I love the grammer police. We should, like, make it a dayly contest!

I think we should also have sexist police, uh I mean the sex police, um, not that. . How bout the police whom are sexism, um, no not that either.

Just listen to what I'm trying to mean, not to what I'm saying.

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 30, 2006 10:48 AM

"Okay, Pittypat, you take the cake for annoying blogger of the day by taking on the role of grammar police AND food police at the same time. You must have been hall monitor when you were in school."

Guys, lighten up!

I'm not slamming Brian for his food choices; I'm slamming him for slamming Cheerios and Eggos -- very nutritious and yummy foods that deserve our respect.

And, all of this, including the previous comment, is tongue in cheek.

Emily, I won't lecture you about that cake...

:>)

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 10:49 AM

For me, the only unpleasant aspect of being a mom of 2 young kids is that they bounce out of bed before 7 (usually 6-630) every day, even on weekends. My husband and I are not morning people and can't seem to convert ourselves.

You can't have it all. If you put them to bed at 7 so you can have uninterrupted adult time in the evening, you will be woken up early in the morning!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 10:50 AM

Fo4 --

Perhaps "Gender-correctness Police"?

"Sexism Squad"?

"MCPPs"? (That would be "Male Chauvinist Pig Police," but then you'd have to find an equivalent for female sexist pigs.)

Go for it!

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 11:05 AM

[but then you'd have to find an equivalent for female sexist pigs.]

Pittypat, I just call them feminist. ;-)

*putting 3 pairs of shorts on, preparing for another spanking*

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 30, 2006 11:16 AM

"Well, truth be told, the Eggos and Cheerios are infinitely healthier breakfast items than eggs and bacon."

Ok, Pittypat, I've been a vegetarian for over 15 years and am working on going vegan, so I'm no big promoter of bacon and eggs, but come on...Eggos? Infinitely healthier? Eggos are flour, partially hydrogenated oils, and liquid eggs (as opposed to what, I'm not sure...), they have like no nutritional value.

Personally, I love Eggos, but I just had to give you a little good-natured ribbing :)

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 11:18 AM

Oh my gosh, I can't believe how many other early risers are out there! Most of you even have me beat by a long shot - no way do I get up before 5! :) I pretty much wake up with the sun - winters are harder for that reason. I don't run in the mornings in the winter because I don't want to run in the dark in my less-than-perfectly-safe neighborhood. My son is also an early riser, but strangely he has programmed himself to sleep as long as possible on school days but beats me out of bed on weekends :) Like Brian, I like having the extra time to read and make a hot breakfast (eggs are generally a good, healthy choice for me as a vegetarian), and the whole day runs smoother if I don't spend the morning rushing.

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 30, 2006 11:21 AM

Cheerios are healthy. It's the sugar and whole milk that people dump on them that is a problem.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 11:22 AM

anon at 11:22, It's the nutritional content of Eggo waffles, not the nutritional content of Cheerios, that are under analysis. Come on, now. Pay attention!

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 30, 2006 11:24 AM

Laura, your mornings sound just like the weekend mornings in our household.

What is it about little boys bashing things? When he was throwing stuff out of his highchair, I understood that. He wants to hear the sound it makes when it hits the floor. Same reason grown men have those catapult contests. When you hear the sound of a piano smashing after travelling 50 yards in the air, it just brings a smile to your face. But why bash things? More importantly, why use my expensive TV remote to bash things? I just don't know.

Anyway, the latest morning game is to turn on all three of our Hallmark dancing/singing snowmen thingys at the same time, which creates such a racket that whoever is supposed to be sleeping in cannot, in fact, sleep.

At what age can you send them in the backyard to bash things and annoy the neighbors, rather than have them inside bashing things annoying the parents?

Posted by: Proud Papa | November 30, 2006 11:26 AM

If I didn't get up this early, I would never make it through my day. I need to be in my classroom for my "magic hour" by 6 am so that I can have everything ready and organized before the kids show up about 7 am (High school teacher here). I start classes at 7:30, but kids are always coming in early for help. So I don't understand anyone getting up at later than 7 am.

Posted by: 5:00 am here... | November 30, 2006 11:26 AM

I get up early to jog; I established this habit when my kids were small and found something like bliss in the "alone" time it gave me - it was the only time during the day when I felt no guilt about having someone else (my husband) totally in charge of the kids (of course they were basically asleep but still, it made a difference to have my radar definitely turned off). And the health and well-being benefits kept me doing it. Now that those kids are in their 20s and not at home, I still get up ~5:30 and jog several times a week.

On the other hand I have normally written better in the evenings. At the extreme of this was when I was writing my PhD thesis, I couldn't seem to settle down for it until around 10pm (no, I wasn't jogging early then!). But even now I generally don't write well early in the day. I seem to need to be somewhat physically tired to tame my restlessness and write. I do physical tasks better in the morning though.

Posted by: Catherine | November 30, 2006 11:27 AM

The new Fruity Cheerios taste unbelievably good. It's like they removed half the sugar and put in something addictive. Ground up cigarettes, maybe?

Whatever it is, count me IN.

Posted by: undercover marketer | November 30, 2006 11:28 AM

I wonder how many transfats there are in Eggos? At least scrambled eggs have protein and other things in them that a growing body needs.

For breakfast I eat a bowl of Cheerios with only milk (no sugar), along with a glass of Instant Breakfast and a banana if they've not gone bad already. Sometimes I have some sausage or bacon too!

Posted by: John | November 30, 2006 11:28 AM

To the person who recommended "Eats, Shoots & Leaves":

It's a great book, but it's focused on BRITISH English, which deviates in meaningful ways from standard American editorial rules.

(Example: rules for when punctuation goes inside quotations marks and when it doesn't.)

Posted by: anotherjoe | November 30, 2006 11:28 AM

OK, so I can't remember how old Brian's kids are or how many of them there are...but I guess I'm a little confused about the whole breakfast thing. This is kind of a picky question - but why exactly can't he spare 10 minutes to make breakfast after his kids are up? Isn't that one of the beauties of being a SAH - not having to rush off somewhere and being able to spend the time at home doing things like cooking breakfast if you choose to?

Posted by: momof4 | November 30, 2006 11:30 AM

Catherine, you sound like me; I started walking in the early morning over 2 years ago to lose weight, and after I reached my target, kept doing it because it felt wrong to stop. Now it is a habit, but a good one.

Posted by: John | November 30, 2006 11:31 AM


My kids are both night owls like me. DH is the morning person. He does most of the school waking, rousts them starting at 6:30 while I sleep in as long as I can manage . . . His rousting consists of picking them up, carrying them to the toilet, then handing them a blanket/bathrobe that they can huddle in, while sitting/laying over a warm air vent, slowly waking while he gets breakfast . . . at 6 and 9, 47 lbs and 70 lbs-ish, I couldn't manage that even when I'm not stuporous in the morning . . . though our oldest has recently proved unwakable by others at slumber parties . . . (which seem to often end at 9am here! - usually due to soccer conflicts) But then DH is the useless one at night, often unable to keep awake and coherent through bedtime reading-aloud time. And once he starts drowsing/becoming incoherent he's hopeless --- there will be no getting a sensible comment, let alone reading aloud, out of him, he's just incapable. While sometimes we all read together in our bed, especially if the girls are into the same chapter book at the moment, usually he reads with the older one and I with the younger one; when he loses it the older one just gives up after a few pokes and reads on silently herself til sleepy. Our kids are in bed 9-9:30ish and we aim for asleep/stop reading by 10.

We do tend to drift later on weekends and vacations. That early rise time is entirely unnatural to 3/4 of us, who get very perky/talky in the evenings. Though, I also only manage to emerge conscious about 1/2 the time from the whole bedtime ritual, because I'm laying there next to a settling/snuggling child for so long til she falls asleep --- by then bed's an awfully warm and comfortable and sleepy place to drag myself out of, so I generally don't unless I've got a pressing deadline, or am sleepless.

Not a complaint --- the kids do well, just need extra time to wake in the morning (we don't need to leave the house til 7:45 but we've found that, unlike me, they need to get up extra early to have a gradual wake-up or they can't cope). They're not overtired, do well at school, aren't whiny, etc --- we've watched for signs of undersleeping. And we all enjoy the time together at bedtime, it's the best capstone for the day . . . And I can manage the morning wakeup, just not DH's way, when he's out of town (he *used* to even do that lift out of bed wakeup even when my oldest slept in a top bunk bed --- definitely not Mommy's way!)

They were night owls as babies/preschoolers too. Their preschools had 9 and 9:30 am starts which still required rousting them for, and hustling them through wake/eat/dress, it was just later than the 8 am elementary school start. Our work schedule has shifted earlier not because of the kids, but because of school schedules.

Posted by: KB | November 30, 2006 11:33 AM

Hear hear for the early risers! I'm up at 5:30; fixing breakfast for the kids (make the waffles from scratch; it's better and more fun), taking the dog for a walk; cleaning up any leftover dishes from last night; putting the clean dishes away; doing a load of laundry while the rates are low, and yes, reading the comics ("Zits", because 3 of my 4 kids are teenagers; and "Baby blues" because they all used to be babies). Start getting the kids up at 6 (high school bus comes by at 6:35 am because school starts at 7:15 - that's insane, folks!) Everything's done and I'm out the door on the way to work at 6:45. My wife usually gets up at about 7 and calls me at work to let me know the rest of the kids got to school. It works well.

The only problem was when the early-riser mother-in-law stayed with us. She threw a fit that I was up doing everything rather than eating breakfast and reading the paper at the table while her daughter did everything. Explaining to her that our system just works for us was not a pleasant experience.

Okay, I'm rarely up much past midnight anymore, but we're gettin' older, folks.


Posted by: Army Brat | November 30, 2006 11:34 AM

Megan --

You're right about the Eggos, although if you eat 'em without the bacon, then they're still less poisonous than Brian's dream breakfast.

From a vegan perspective, of course, they're totally out of the picture.

Congrats, by the way, for working on the vegan thing. I'm coming up on two years, and it's not nearly as hard to do as I thought it would be.

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 11:36 AM

I'll take the fashion, food, and grammar police over the God Squad anyday!

Posted by: Trixie | November 30, 2006 11:37 AM

Pittypat is just plain mean.

Posted by: lucky husband | November 30, 2006 11:40 AM

WARNING - OFF TOPIC PERSONAL ASIDE!
Pittypat,

Thanks for the encouragement and congats on your own success! I actually found it very easy in the first month or so after I decided to make the switch, but then we discovered that my son was allergic to wheat and I had to cut it out of my diet too bc the allergen came through in my breastmilk. Learning to do no wheat and no dairy at the same time was a little more than we could handle. And then my husband ended up taking over most of the cooking due to our work schedules (he's not veggie or vegan) so progress has been slow. But, the good news is we've had the wheat allergy treated through accupressure, so now things are getting easier and I'm hoping to focus more on the vegan thing again!

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 11:45 AM

"At what age can you send them in the backyard to bash things and annoy the neighbors, rather than have them inside bashing things annoying the parents?"

I don't know, but when you figure it out, could you let me in on it? And yeah, why is it always my %*(&%*$^ remote -- we've actually had to sacrifice two that we don't use much to the boy just to keep him from destroying the others.

And boy, I'd LOVE to go see a piano chucking contest -- one day we'll hit that Del. punkin chuckin deal, but a piano would be WAY better.

Posted by: Laura | November 30, 2006 11:49 AM

Up at 4am, exercise, put away the clean dishes, make lunches, do laundry, pay bills, shower, leave for work by 6am. Doing all of this in the early morning gives me time with my daughters in the evening.

Posted by: Burke Dad | November 30, 2006 11:51 AM

Just curious - To all you folks who rise at 3 and 4 am, what time do you go to sleep?

Posted by: Emily | November 30, 2006 11:53 AM

WARNING - OFF TOPIC PERSONAL RESPONSE!

Megan,

Yeah, that would be tough, coming off of wheat and dairy at the same time. Whew!

I'll confess that one reason it was pretty easy for me is that, with no kids, I don't have to work around issues like allergies. And I'm lucky in that my husband, while not a veg, is perfectly happy eating the veg food I cook at home. So, I didn't really have any obstacles to trying a vegan diet.

There are a number of books out now on vegan cooking for families, and some really focus on kids' likes and dislikes. Amazon has 'em all.

Good luck!

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 11:54 AM

I've got the reverse situation: I worked evening shift when my kids were babies, and then went to law school in the evening program, so that I could care for them by day and my husband got them for the evening. Accordingly, I slept in in the morning.

Now, with a daughter in HS (bus at 6:20), a son in middle school (starts at 8) and a dog to walk, I'm an early riser (by my standards) at 5:30. So I've come to appreciate the morning mist, the sunrise, quality time with my dog, and a set of dog-walking neighbors I didn't know until I started my appointed 6 a.m. rounds.

I sure do miss late-ish dinners and latenite tv, though!

Posted by: LawyerMom | November 30, 2006 11:57 AM

Completely off topic, but now I'm curious. What are the benefits of a vegan diet as opposed to vegetarian. Do you do it for health reasons, or other reasons?

Posted by: Emily | November 30, 2006 11:58 AM

To: anotherjoe

About "Eats, Shoots & Leaves": I could be wrong, but I seem to remember the American edition made at least some attempt at flagging the differences.

In any case, I thought most points applied equally to British and American English--those pesky commas and apostrophes apparently end up being misplaced in the same ways across the pond!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 12:06 PM

I skip the Eggos and make big batches of waffles to freeze. These are the best waffles you'll ever taste, they freeze beautifully, and they use vegetable oil, so no trans fat. I quadrupled the batch last time and they came out great. The recipe is originally from Pam Anderson (http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/recipes/light_crisp_waffles.aspx), and my version is at RecipeThing (http://www.recipething.com/recipes/show/4938).

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
6 T vegetable oil
1 large egg, separated
1 T sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 200°F and heat the waffle iron. Mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Measure the buttermilk, milk, and vegetable oil in a Pyrex measuring cup; mix in the egg yolk and set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg white almost to soft peaks. Sprinkle in the sugar and continue to beat until the peaks are firm and glossy. Beat in the vanilla.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until just mixed. Drop the whipped egg white onto the batter in dollops and fold in with a spatula until just incorporated.

Pour 2/3 cup batter onto the hot waffle iron and cook until the waffle is crisp and nutty brown. Set the waffle directly on the oven rack to keep it warm and crisp. Repeat with the remaining batter, holding the waffles in the oven (don't stack them). When all the waffles are cooked, serve immediately.

Posted by: sisina | November 30, 2006 12:06 PM

LawyerMom - try getting a DVR for those late night shows and watch them early in the am when nobody else is up - a guilty pleasure with your coffee.

Posted by: Early rising former yankee | November 30, 2006 12:07 PM

I've said this before, but our family has slow-cooked oatmeal almost every morning, made from a rice cooker set up the night before. We stumble downstairs and it's ready. It's easy, tasty, and extremely healthy (you should see DH's cholesterol numbers before and after we started doing this). It sounds boring, but we have about 20 different "mix-ins" to choose from so we all can have something different every day. I should say, it's healthy except for the occasional day when the mix-ins are chocolate chips!

Posted by: Neighbor | November 30, 2006 12:08 PM

Emily,

There's a lot of argument about the health benefits of veganism - personally I think there are some benefits but also some particular challenges, though Pittypat or someone else may be able to give a more detailed answer (I've read up on it but don't have time to go back and find/summarize)

Personally, I am motivated by other reasons (and this is true of most vegans I know) - concerns about the environmental, social, humanitarian and other impacts of dairy production. I essentially realized that all of the things that bothered me about meat production were true of dairy as well, so it doesn't make sense to continue eating dairy but not meat.

I don't want to open a debate about those issues - I believe that what you eat is very personal choice that involves a host of factors. It's not my place to criticize someone else's choice and my only request is that others show the same respect towards my choices.

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 12:10 PM

To: AnotherRockvilleMom
No, he doesn't sleep with us--has had own bed from 7 weeks--just supersonic hearing! I can shut his door, creep out on my tippy-toes at 5:30, and as soon as I open the bathroom door, there he is!

Posted by: PTJobFTMom | November 30, 2006 12:14 PM

I remember when I realized the kids were growing up - we had to wake them up on Xmas morning!

Posted by: RebJ | November 30, 2006 12:14 PM

I cannot see myself making a recipe recommended by Pam Anderson.

If she recommended a Divorce lawyer, that I would consider. But nothing domestic.

Posted by: Random Guy | November 30, 2006 12:16 PM

To pittypat: Once a week, the bacon and eggs are a nice treat (I really, really love food, and a nice protein hit in the morning does me wonders. Even without the coffee). But most mornings,for me, it's oatmeal with frozen blueberries, flax seeds, almonds and whey powder. I figure that makes up for my bacon habit.

In defense of Eggos: the NutriGrain ones ain't so bad ...

To Momof4: The older one has to be at school at 8 a.m. We have to leave by 7:45 a.m. She gets up at 7 a.m. (give or take). That leaves 45 minutes for ... Getting the kid up, getting breakfast made (and -- more signficantly -- getting it consumed), feeding the infant, getting teeth brushed, clothes on, hair combed, coat on, infant in the stroller. Sadly, that doesn't usually leave the 10 minutes needed to bust out an omelette ...

Posted by: Brian Reid | November 30, 2006 12:17 PM

Emily,

With a vegan diet, you don't eat any animal products. So, in addition to not eating meat or fish, you don't consume eggs or any kind of dairy, and most vegans don't eat honey.

People who become vegans for ethical reasons also don't use any animal products or by-products; so, they don't use beeswax, wool, silk, leather, etc.

Some people adopt a vegan diet for strictly health reasons, as it eliminates external sources of cholesterol, alleviates dairy allergies, pretty much gets the "bad" fats out of one's diet, and, in general, is a very healthy way to eat. T. Colin Campbell's book THE CHINA STUDY covers this stuff in depth, and I highly recommend it.

Ethical vegans also adopt not just the vegan diet but also a lifestyle that eschews using animals for human needs. These are the folks who avoid as much as possible using any products derived from animals (fabrics/clothing, personal care items, etc.).

I initially made the choice to go vegan for ethical reasons, on the basis of a lot of reading (mostly online) about factory farming of animals. But I've also found that I feel much healthier nearly two years into it.

Thanks for asking. Hope this isn't too much more than you wanted to hear!

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 12:18 PM

Megan ---

Glad your son is doing better. Just stay watchful. At least a vegan diet tends to be mainly whole foods, so it is easier to know what foods you've eaten as you stay watchful and correlate symptoms with food exposures.

I certainly couldn't have made it through my dd's food allergies without meat --- I lost too many balancing protein sources otherwise. Though, I tended to lose weight still until I found the magic dietary element to stabilize both weight and food-contentedness -- dairy-free chocolate (at our local kosher foods store) :-)

As a public service, here are the top 8 food allergens for children and babies again: dairy, soy, wheat, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish. Sesame seed/tahini is also becoming quite common, to round out a top 9.

I'm glad you seem to have gotten the food allergies under control quickly, and got only a glancing blow instead of a more-and-more sensitized child. My first got the glancing blow, my second the multiple trace food allergies. I agree, it is so hard to change your entire diet/shopping/cooking repertoire (gluten-free baking is very tricky and limited!) while coping with a sick young baby . . .

No comment on the accupuncture, but so long as you're watchful and responsive, it doesn't really matter how the baby gets stabilized, just that he gets there and stays that way.

My mild allergy girl outgrew dairy and soy by 1 (first time we challenged, but I was unknowing and did not zero-tolerance eliminate, only eliminated gross/obvious exposure myself). My severe one, whom we zero-tolerance eliminated for, out of better information but also necessary just to clear her symptoms, outgrew dairy by 14 months; gluten and egg by 2; soy - the last hanger on - by 4; and nuts and fish/shellfish by whenever we tested them, she was definitely eating shrimp by 2.5yo . . .

If you need any resource pointers, just shout!

Posted by: KB | November 30, 2006 12:19 PM

I agree with rebeldad that kids definitely turned my schedule upside down. That and a longer commute. My commute is an hour 15 minutes each way, so I get up at 5:15 am so that I can get a 30 minute run outside in the morning. My husband gets up at 4:30 am to get his workout in and then "wakes" the kids after his shower (about 6: 15 am) (usually the youngest has already gotten up). This allows us to stagger our showers and get some breakfast and interact with the kids before husband leaves for work at 7am and I leave at around 7:15 am to drop the kids off at school and then head to the metro for work.
I love my early morning runs, it's my time to think through the day and get energized.

Before kids that early morning workout ran an hour long and took place at a more reasonable 6am but now with so much more going on I just get up earlier.

My idea of sleeping in now is hoping on the weekends that my son (4 years old) and daughter (age 6) will sleep past 7am. As an aside, we have given up our daily paper and I now read the paper online when I get to work.

Posted by: downtown mom | November 30, 2006 12:20 PM

I rise early by my own standards - 6:30. This has only been since my son started high school, since he leaves with my husband at 7:10 and needs to be roused and fed. (And before I get tomatoes chucked at me, yes, I wake him and fix his breakfast and pack his lunch - he has enough to worry about and it's the one of the last mommy things I do for him!)

Then I have about 20 minutes to myself before I have to wake up my first grader and then a few minutes later, my second grader. The only one who gets up on his own is the 4 year old. And sometimes he wakes up during that 20 minutes. :o)

Anyway - I usually use that 20 minutes to read e-mail or other Internet stuff. But I have to say that nothing I do around here really *has* to be done in silence or while I'm by myself - it's all a matter of adapting your activities so they can be done in less-than-complete silence or while you're doing something else.

Posted by: momof4 | November 30, 2006 12:23 PM

"To pittypat: Once a week, the bacon and eggs are a nice treat (I really, really love food, and a nice protein hit in the morning does me wonders. Even without the coffee). But most mornings,for me, it's oatmeal with frozen blueberries, flax seeds, almonds and whey powder. I figure that makes up for my bacon habit."

Ha, figured he'd cover himself somehow!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 12:24 PM

Neighbor,

Your breakfast sounds heavenly (not boring)!
Can I come over and eat with you every day? :>)

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 12:26 PM

Used to be a night owl - kids made me early. I love the productivity of getting up early. My life saver was that almost from the beginning of my kids lives (now 4 and 6) I have provided their breakfast to them and then I take 30 min to have my coffe, bagle and paper. My kids have learned that this is something that they don't interfere with. After they finish their breakfast they play until I'm done with my paper and bagle and then we proceed with the morning. Works for me and has saved my sanity.

For the mom who wanted to know when they could play alone in the morning. It depends on your kids, I've only just gotten to the point where I'm comfortable with both of them being up while I'm sleeping. The 6 yr. old was fine, but only now that the small one is 4 am I o.k. with it. You can always try leaving the t.v. on Noggin at night so they can turn it on themselves and a couple of sippy cups with milk in the fridge that they can get. Good luck. I think the irony of the whole situation is that they convert us to morning people then turn into night owls as teens and we are too accustomed to getting up early to sleep in anymore.

Posted by: Moxiemom | November 30, 2006 12:29 PM

Brian,

I hear you. I was just giving you a hard time.

And you're absolutely right about the NutriGrain Eggos. Before I veganized, I used to eat them all the time. There's something about the smell of a waffle cooking (or even toasting) that is utterly incomparable to any other food smell. Immediate salivation.

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 12:30 PM


Neighbor,

Do you use the usual oats/water ratio when you cook the oatmeal overnight in a rice cooker?

Posted by: KB | November 30, 2006 12:33 PM

Now, I need to go home tonight and do a YouTube search for flinging pianos.

I incorrectly called it a catapult. Apparently, something that flings very large things is called a Trebuchet. Those French, they sure know how to fling stuff...

http://www.eskimo.com/~verne/catapult.htm

Posted by: Proud Papa | November 30, 2006 12:36 PM

Emily, I at least try to stay up past 9:00. I never have a problem falling asleep, just staying asleep. Probably due to anxiety. Several times a month though, I lay on the couch and accidentily fall asleep before 7:00 and wake up before midnight. Makes for a real long day. I can sleep better the more I exersize.

More exersize is my answer to everything!

Posted by: Father of 4 | November 30, 2006 12:37 PM

OFF Topic (or on if you consider eating habits part of today's thread):

I am avid reader of food blogs. Several blogs out are by gluten free authors. My favorite is http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/ - she includes vegan substitutions in some of her recipes.

Should someone you know be diagnosed as gluten intolerant her blog has lots of good recipes, including baked goods.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | November 30, 2006 12:42 PM

KB, thanks for the information and support! We were indeed very lucky - my son's only symptom was eczema on his cheeks, so we really got off lightly. A good friend of mine has a son who is more like your second - he's had very severe symptoms and they've had a horrible time pinning down what the sources are and eliminating them. I really feel for what you went through!

The accupressure was very interesting - I was skeptical but willing to give it a try. She actually found that he also tested positive for dairy and a few other minor allergens as well, and treated them all. A few weeks before the wheat treatment, we had to give him wheat as it was all that we had (long story), and the eczema flared right up. After the wheat treatments, we first trialed with me eating it, and then him, with no reaction. He's been eating it for about a month now with no recurrence, so we're crossing our fingers!! It's possible that he just grew out of it, but given his strong reaction a few weeks right before, I'm inclined to think it was the accupressure. I guess we'll never really know! But we are still keeping a very close watch for the eczema or any other symptoms that might be related.

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 12:48 PM

PP -- "Junkyard Wars" (I think) did a couple of programs building a trebuchet to try to fling an old VW Bug. Not exactly successful, but one of the funniest things I ever saw. Sure wish that show was still around.

Posted by: Laura | November 30, 2006 12:50 PM

I just wanted to say hat's off to all of you early-risers out there who carve out time to exercize before cleaning, cooking, commuting and working. That's a feat I never managed even before I had a kid.

And frankly, if it weren't for exercise classes that use the baby and the stroller as part of the class, I'd still be a total slug.

Posted by: NewSAHM | November 30, 2006 12:58 PM

I myself am not an early-riser, but my parents are. When we go down to our house in Myrtle Beach, my dad gets up every morning very early, makes a big mug of tea, and walks down to get the newspaper (which is this hilarious small-town little paper, not up to our high standards of WashPost), and he goes and sits on the beach to watch the sun come up, drink his tea, and read his paper. He loves it, especially if its on one of those days where the dolphins are out in the water... it's too bad he can't do that same routine here in MD.

Posted by: college kid | November 30, 2006 12:58 PM

I never understood how my mother could voluntarily get up at 5:00 AM...until I had my first child. Thirty minutes of uninterrupted me time is worth the early hours...it gives me a wonderful start with which to face the rest of the day.

Posted by: Lurker Until Today | November 30, 2006 12:59 PM

And all of you later risers should offer thanks to us early birds for making the coffee :-)

Posted by: Early rising former yankee | November 30, 2006 1:01 PM

Pittypat, you're welcome anytime! I'd love the company.

KB, it's been so long since I've made oatmeal the regular way that I don't remember what the ratios were. But we use slightly more than 2 parts water to 1 part oatmeal.

The secret is buying a really good rice cooker. Here's ours. http://www.amazon.com/Zojirushi-NS-ZCC10-Cooker-Warmer-Premium/dp/B00007J5U7/sr=8-1/qid=1164909744/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-3828497-9820619?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden
It's an expensive initial investment but when we were considering it I did the math for our previous breakfasts (Cheerios plus milk) and found it would pay itself off within a matter of months. Plus we use it for rice and (mmm) slow-cooked tapioca.

We've gotten several of our neighbors hooked on this too. One of them has set her kids up with a set of serve-yourself fixins and the kids take care of their own breakfasts in the morning so that she can sleep in. Something I can only dream about at this point...

Posted by: Neighbor | November 30, 2006 1:12 PM

"One of them has set her kids up with a set of serve-yourself fixins and the kids take care of their own breakfasts in the morning so that she can sleep in."

Today's is the sort of blog that gives me hope for the future, particularly, this comment. What's it like to live in a house where kids get themselves up, dress themselves, get themselves breakfast and -- here's the kicker -- all in the timeframe necessary? I live for the day I can exercise in the morning and they can stay on task enough to get out the door themselves. God Bless their precious souls.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 30, 2006 1:21 PM

I WISH I was a morning person - it just hasn't happened with me even with the birth of my son. I just can't get myself to bed before 11 and then struggle to wake up at 6. Plus I am the slowest morning person in the world and take forever getting ready. Thankfully my husband gets our son clean and dressed most days.

Neighbor - about the rice cooker, I have one but I never use it. How exactly do you make the oatmeal? Pray tell.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 30, 2006 1:25 PM

NC Lawyer --

I dream of that day, too. But I just discovered two really simple tricks that have been nothing short of a minor miracle with my 5-yr-old (ok, she's Little Miss Independent anyway, so it's playing to her strengths). First, I bought two plastic 1-cup liquid measuring cups, the kind with the handles. I put milk in one and OJ in the other, and put them on a low fridge shelf. Then I put cups and bowls and her cereal where she could reach them. Now she makes her own cereal and pours her own juice in the AM -- and the little kid-sized pitchers limit the likelihood and seriousness of spills.

I also discovered a sticker chart. TOTALLY not my thing (always thought they were stupid myself). But just got tired of mornings and bedtimes degenerating into fussiness and yelling when she'd spend 10 minutes dancing naked in front of the mirror instead of getting jammies on. I put very simple things on there that I knew she could already do if she put her mind to it (get dressed in 5 minutes) -- and she knows the no. 1 rule is "no nagging or whining"! Turns out, she wants to earn the stupid stickers so badly that she actually does everything herself without me having to step in and nag (ok, I occasionally remind her when she's getting off track, but she's 5 -- not looking for perfection).

Obviously, you need to find whatever the trigger is for your kid. But I swear, it has been like night and day for us -- bedtime is now the nice calm together time I always wanted it to be. I'm already dreaming of the next things we can move onto on the chart (picking up your %&^*# socks would be high on the list!).

Posted by: Laura | November 30, 2006 1:34 PM

Leslie,
I understand the feeling of wanting to sleep in pre kids, with a 17 month old and an almost 4 month old that's a dream! I used to not be a morning person, but now look forward to getting up before my husband and kids. I get so much done (laundry, make lunch, try to start on dinner for that night). I love my little ones, but would love a morning that I don't have to get up before 5 a.m.

Posted by: momof2 | November 30, 2006 1:42 PM

Not having kids yet, this is actually something I'm worried about. I love sleeping in the weekends and spend all week looking forward to it (only 3 more days, only 2 more days...!) In fact, I find my most productive time is often later at night, when my husband has gone to bed, so I know when I get up in the morning to get ready for work everything is organized and I can get out the door faster. What am I going to do when I HAVE to get up early EVERYDAY! I guess you just learn to be a morning person? I really want to be; on the weekends, I love the idea of getting all the cleaning, laundry, etc, done before 11, but I haven't been able to give up my lazy mornings quite yet!

Posted by: notyetamom | November 30, 2006 1:58 PM

Laura,

LOL re: Princess dancing naked in front of her mirror:>)

I like the sticker chart idea immensely, and it's also not naturally my thing. The reason she has such a dang hard time getting up and moving in the morning is, in part, because she sings and pretends to read books to herself from the time I say goodnight (8:45ish) 'til 11 p.m. or so. She's inherited her dad's (must -- have -- coffeeeeee) morning personality, as well. and her brother has his own morning "I'm so cool, I can't hardly stand myself" 11-year-old issues. You know, making sure there's a belt on his pants so they don't fall off. Making sure he doesn't go to school with wheels in his heelies . . . Commenting on the wisdom of donning a coat/long-sleeves when it's below 35 degrees - or merely pointing toward the thermometer.

Some days a great deal of parenting at our house is devoted to shoes - finding them, finding two of them, getting one of them away from a Golden, finding where in the backyard the Golden relocated one of them, cleaning the mud off them, getting them in proximity to tomorrow's outfit. Oops, there are no clean uniforms! Have to do laundry . .. . etc.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 30, 2006 2:05 PM

Pittypat - haven't read all the responses, so sorry if this has been asked before - where do you shop for food? What should I look for on food labels? Not sure if I am ready to go 100% vegan, but am working my way there.
My kitties are early birds so that makes me an early riser too...it is impossible to ignore a cat that wants you up..

Posted by: Missicat | November 30, 2006 2:21 PM

Neighbor:
I have an oatmeal question. Do you think a crock pot would work for slow-cooked oatmeal? I've never used a rice cooker, so I can't compare the two cooking methods.

Posted by: Pam | November 30, 2006 2:23 PM

NC Lawyer, love the 11-yr-old and shoe stuff. As of now, I'm choosing to pretend that I have all problems solved and that things will only get easier as they get older and more rational. :-) Of course, since I was the same kid who fairly routinely left for school in Feb. without my coat (LOTS of memories of stepfather chasing me down the street), perhaps that's just a teeeeeeeensy bit unrealistic.

So were our kids switched at birth or something? Sounds like your kids got my genes somehow!

Posted by: Laura | November 30, 2006 2:28 PM

Thanks M02.

I never love my kids more than when they are sleeping.

Off to pick up!

Posted by: Leslie | November 30, 2006 2:31 PM

I moved to Central Oregon a few years ago, yep theres noticeably less daylight (just checked 40 min). When I came here, my employer said, we have an East Coast customer, You need to be up and alert for conference calls by 6:00 am. I got used to it and now I like it, so I'm up by 5:00 everyday. I just tell people, I never could get used to Pacific time.

Posted by: DougS | November 30, 2006 2:32 PM

Missicat (and any others who are interested:

Not sure where you live, but Howard County MD has a pretty cool vegan/vegetarian store. Check out their website below. I worked there for about 8 months after college, and they have awesome, awesome stuff! Their produce is to die for!!

http://www.rootsmkt.com/

Posted by: literarygirl | November 30, 2006 2:39 PM

Thanks pittypat - I love that they have a section for natural food for pets!
I do have a Trader Joe's near me, and they have some organic stuff there.

Posted by: Missicat | November 30, 2006 2:42 PM

Brian, I think finding the hour or two, be it early morning or late night, is one of the ingredients to balance that we all seem to be seeking. I really need at least half an hour a day to myself - it can be early (preferable) or late (but I tend to fall asleep reading). I also wake up early - but the morning slips away more often than not. Today included a "found" couple of hours. Our schools were on a 2 hour delay which the children welcomed as extra play time and I found myself at home, when the sun was actually shining, with a couple of hours to fritter away. Very nice. We were already organized for the day so there was little else to do but read the paper, savor a cup of coffee from a real mug as opposed to my travel mug, enjoy the last of a light snowfall, and get a good start on preparing for the DD's birthday party on Saturday. Thank you Mother Nature :-)

I applaud those of you who are or hope to be vegans. I can get my family to go veggie but not vegan - but only for about 4 weeks at a time. I have one child who would happily be veggie with me full time but the other two children and DH are dedicated carnivores. Since I do most of the cooking, they don't realize how many meatless meals they actually eat. And, they seem unable to tell the difference between sausage and the morningstar farm version - especially in breakfast burritos.

Megan, in addition to accupressure, for a little older child, there's a kid-friendly version of accupuncture where electrical impulses replace the needles. My allergy-prone and insomniac son was greatly improved by this technique - when he has a hard time falling asleep, he now asks to go see the accupuncturist.

Posted by: Stacey | November 30, 2006 2:45 PM

There is a Seventh Day Adventist store in Silver Spring that also sells vegetarian.

Posted by: Vegetarian store | November 30, 2006 2:50 PM

Stacey, good to know! THe accupuncturist who did our son's treatments is great - we're going back for a followup next week, maybe I'll ask if she thinks she can do anything for his sleep issues ;)

My husband has no problem eating veggie and vegan stuff that I make, and back when I did most of the cooking he really only had meat when we ate out or when he grilled. Since he's taken over, he cooks great veggie stuff and some vegan and sometimes will do meat for himself and my son. FOrtunately, so far, my son likes a wide variety of foods - I'm sure at some point he'll do the "I'll only macaroni and cheese" type thing, but for now, we're trying to expose him to as many vegetables as we can!

BTW, we did indeed get plenty more snow yesterday! We have yet to hit the slopes yet, can't wait.

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 2:51 PM

There's quite a bit of difference between a catapult and a trebuchet, actually. A catapult works by putting tension on the arm that throws the projectile; release the ropes and the arm springs forward.

The trebuchet works with a large counterbalancing weight on one end of a long arm and the projectile on the other. The fulcrum is near the weight, which gives the projectile a large amount of velocity when it is released.

In the final Lord of the Rings movie, for example, the Dark Lord's army had catapults when they were at Minas Tirith, while the city had trebuchets.

(Enough siege engine geekery now...)

Posted by: John | November 30, 2006 2:53 PM

FYI, parents of allergic kids--
it's actually "acupuncture" and "acupressure" (not accupuncture and accupressure). These words do not mean "accurate" anything, in case you were wondering--they come from Latin "acu," meaning "needle." Puncture=piercing.

Posted by: Etymology buff | November 30, 2006 2:53 PM

Thanks, Etymology buff! Unlike the grammar police, your comment was not only helpful and educational, it didn't demean us as ignorant plebeians.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 30, 2006 3:12 PM

Missicat,

Glad you asked. :>)

There are a lot of good vegan "starter" websites, but I think one of the best is:

http://www.veganoutreach.org/starterpack/foods.html

A lot of good info -- but not too much (i.e., not overwhelming).

I shop at SuperFresh, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods. Most of what I buy can be purchased at any mainstream supermarket (e.g., tofu and, increasingly, tempeh -- as well as meat analogs like soy cribbles ((to replace ground beef)) and lunch slices). I tend to shop at WF when I want greater variety and/or organic produce. Trader Joe's is terrific for canned beans and tomato products, pastas, nuts, and really good frozen vegetables and "cheater" items like vegan gyoza dumplings and faux meatballs. And everything there is ridiculously cheap. (Don't care for most of their bread products, though.)

For personal care products, I buy some at WF, some at Target, and some online. Two excellent sources for all things vegan are Pangea in Rockville (veganstore.com) and Vegan Essentials (veganessentials.com). There are oddles more. Once you get started looking for vegan stuff online, you'll be astonished at the range of resources.

Labels can be tricky, but you get the hang of it pretty fast. Websites like the one above provide lists of "hidden" animal ingredients to look for -- you know, the ones with names that are 50 syllables long and might be animal, vegetable, or mineral. On a regular basis, though, you want to look for: ALBUMEN (egg product used in lots -- but not all -- of veggie burgers); WHEY and CASEIN (milk byproducts that show up in baked goods, vegan cheeses ((which are all pretty awful)); EGG WHITES in things like candy (Peppermint Patties were vegan until recently, when they started adding egg whites and something called "butter oil"); HONEY (shows up in lots of regular whole wheat bread); and SUGAR (some of which is filtered through charred animal bones).

There are terrific vegan cookbooks nowadays. I highly recommend anything by Joanne Stepaniak, and Amazon is a good source just for perusing what's available. Borders and B&N both have good selections of vegan cookbooks.

Oh, and WF now carries vegan pies. Utterly divine. :>)

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 3:12 PM

Thanks for the info/correction Etymology Buff. In the future I shall try to be accurate, hyuk hyuk.

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 3:21 PM

Thank you, NC lawyer--glad to be of service. But I didn't think the grammar police's comments were demeaning or insulting. All he/she was saying was that it is a shame that people do not care more about really knowing, understanding and preserving their language. I actually agree with that--but what else would you expect from an etymology buff?
;-)

Posted by: Etymology buff | November 30, 2006 3:24 PM

Don't know why I haven't thought of WF - they recently opened one up in my neighborhood. Thanks for the info!
Pies...mmmmm

Posted by: Missicat | November 30, 2006 3:24 PM

Catapults vs. Trebuches? Is that like bringing a knife to a gunfight?

Shouldn't the city have won easily then, or am I confusing battles? Maybe I am thinking of Helms Deep.

My head hurts.

Posted by: Lets Fling Stuff. | November 30, 2006 3:30 PM

I am delurking ever so briefly...

Grammar Police, I really do sympathize with you. However, it's a heck of a stretch to say that a blog is somehow responsible for the downfall of the English language. I'm a historian and often read newspaper articles from periods prior to the advent of spellcheck. I find an average of two to three typos or spelling errors in almost every article I read.

If you look at newspapers from even earlier periods, the spelling and grammar are...creative, to say the least. Standardized language usage is an invention of the twentieth century.

Posted by: Sass | November 30, 2006 3:34 PM

pittypat is in hippy heaven today

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 3:38 PM

WARNING: OFF-TOPIC COMMENT

Etymology buff,

As you might imagine by my choice of employment, I share your love of language and precision of language. We may have to agree to disagree, though, if you didn't consider the following two comments to be demeaning to the blog and its participants:(a) criticizing Brian for not proofreading (assuming that GP was the author of the 9:25 anon comment), and (b) characterizing the posters' collective preference for staying on topic as "condon[ing] sloppy writing" and evidencing a lack of commitment by parents to language and making sure our "children grow up to be competent speakers and writers, avid readers of *well-written* prose (and poetry), and citizens who are proud of the rich heritage of the English language."

Quite honestly, "snarky", "holier than thou" and "blowing out of all proportion the board's desire to stay on topic rather than getting absorbed in minutiae" might more aptly describe TGP's comments. In the alternative, perhaps he needs additional caffeine before hanging out in the blogosphere. I know I often require it.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 30, 2006 3:44 PM

Sass,
of course this blog is not responsible for the downfall of the English language! That's not what I said. I said:
(1) we are entitled to expect that people who make writing their job and people who make editing their job do their job--which means also projecting a sense that writing correctly matters;
(2) it is amazing how hostile people get when someone tries to insist that language correctness is actually important. This is a problem, because if parents don't care, who will? We have way too many people walking around saying things like "We don't have no cheese" already.

You are totally right about standardization being a modern phenomenon--I will add that English spelling rules are often arbitrary and illogical. But so what? Some of them are quite logical--and preserve a memory of the roots of the words (Etymology buff, feel free to intervene here). Some of them make very important distinctions between very different words (their, there). The idea that it is OK not to know how to write your own language, or that it is somehow arrogant to insist that writers take their craft seriously and those who publish them help them do so is just very puzzling to me. That's all. Enjoy your newspapers!

Posted by: TheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 3:53 PM

Megan and Pittypat what do you guys eat! Seriously, I like to know because I eat meat and can't find enough stuff to eat.

Brian,

I thought that eggs were an okay source of protein now? I eat them at least three times a week. On the grammar issue, don't let the grammar police get you down! The English language will continue to evolve with or without your typos.

On the topic of the day, I'd stay up all night and sleep all day if I could, but I can't, so I am up everyday at around 6:00.

It's icing and snowing in the Midwest, so if you have good weather enjoy it!

Posted by: scarry | November 30, 2006 4:07 PM

to NC lawyer - The grammar police don't hold a candle to the vegans when it comes to being off topic. ;~).

Posted by: justme | November 30, 2006 4:10 PM

NClawyer,
Two things worked for me in getting my kids to make their own breakfast:

a) make a boring breakfast, but make sure they see that healthy good stuff available if they would just do it themselves.
b) time: nothing like getting older at solving the trick. Now the problem is making sure my teenager eats breakfast!

Posted by: dotted | November 30, 2006 4:10 PM

Just curious - what is everyone's typical breakfast during the week?
Mine - Cheerios. and coffee.

Posted by: Missicat | November 30, 2006 4:14 PM

OFF-TOPIC AGAIN
NC Lawyer, I am not sure I am with you (we may indeed have to agree to disagree). Brian did admit to not proofreading before posting his blog--i.e. before publishing it to who knows how many people. I don't mean to judge, but that's odd to me. It does not take that long to proofread a page, and it can make a difference. Would you give something to a judge without proofreading? Would you not even have a second pair of eyes proofread for you? Sure, it's just typos, but I think you would probably find it embarrassing if the judge found some.
I am not as certain that the lack of interest in the matter on the blog necessarily shows a lack of commitment to teaching our children to speak correctly, but in my experience (as a lurker) when these issues are raised people react angrily instead of saying "ah, that's how that's spelled" or whatever and moving on. It does remind me a bit of kids who think it's uncool to do well in school or to know too much. In my humble opinion, the more we all know, the better. (And etymology is a fascinating field--and the more you know the better you spell!!!)
That's my two cents.

Posted by: Etymology buff | November 30, 2006 4:15 PM

Scarry - it's a fair question, I get it all the time! Actually, I find that most vegans have a much more diverse diet than omnivores, as they start exploring vegetables and grains that a lot Americans rarely see or eat, like bulgar, barley and quinoa (sp?). So, basically, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, fruits. Tofu and tempeh, beans. I'm not a big fan of the "fake meat" products but I use some. For lunch I had a sweet potato and black bean burrito, with roasted turnips and carrots on the side (no, I'm not normally this healthy!). Breakfasts are usually toast with a vegan margarine (Soy Garden is my absolute favorite, no transfats and very tasty), sometimes I cook up some tempeh. For dinner we do a lot of burritos/tacos/tostadas, as that allows my husband to add cheese to his easily; cheese-less pizza with caremelized onions and loads of veggies; pasta dishes; stir fries etc. It's actually been very fun and educational to learn how to cook so many more foods.

Regarding grammar and staying on topic, personally I don't think TheGrammarPolice was all that rude (unlike the people who sometimes attack individual posters on grammar and spelling), and I think a discussion about language and how we pass it on to our children could be quite interesting. And staying on topic has never really been a strong point here anyway.

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 4:20 PM

Not that I disagree that good grammar is an important thing to have, but so are good manners. Sometimes I think that disintegrating manners may be more of a problem than bad grammar. Is is rude to correct someone's grammar, unless it is your child or student (or you are asked to edit someone's work or something). We should be teaching our children how to properly use the English language, but correcting another adult or someone else's child is just rude and personally I think being polite may be more important to a civil society than good grammar, not a mention a valuable lesson to children.

Posted by: notyetamom | November 30, 2006 4:24 PM

Missicat - although not on topic, I think what people eat for breakfast is an interesting question. We generally make a hot breakfast for the kids but not necessarily for ourselves. I make smoothies for DH and myself - yoghurt, frozen fruit of choice, banana, flax seed oil and protein powder. Mid-am at work I have oatmeal (unflavored but with a wee bit of brown sugar). And about 3 cups of coffee - but I really am trying to cut back. Kiddos eat pancakes or waffles, or scrambled eggs and tortillas (sometimes with cheese, green chiles and shredded potato), juice and fruit. We make pancakes and waffles on the weekend in double batches and freeze for during the week. I eat better breakfasts since having children - partly because I like to sit down with them and partly to set a better example. In general, my eating habits are way better since having children!

Posted by: Stacey | November 30, 2006 4:28 PM

Hmmm... I don't know about crock pots. I remember hearing of someone trying them, but I think they ended up with some overcooked and some undercooked parts. I haven't done it myself.

How we do oatmeal in our "fuzzy logic" rice cooker-- we set the food type to "porridge," hit "timer" (it remembers our preference of 6:30 AM), and hit "cook." I tried doing making oatmeal in one of the simple rice cookers (with just an on/off switch), and it was a disaster. We eat a lot of brown rice, and our on/off rice cooker didn't work for that, which was another reason we decided to upgrade to a fuzzy-logic rice cooker.

As long as I'm on the subject of my favorite kitchen gadgets, pittypat and Megan, have you tried the new, safe pressure-cookers? We cook vegetarian and it is such a huge help-- shortens the cooking time for making anything with beans, lots of veggies, and grains (like quinoa, etc.). Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure, by Lorna Sass, is one of my favorite cookbooks. Most of the recipes are vegan, and just delicious. We now make the best risotto I've ever tasted, and it takes 5 minutes to cook-- with no stirring.

OK, you've found out that my weakness is kitchen gadgets! But we really use these two all the time.

Posted by: Neighbor | November 30, 2006 4:35 PM

My beef with the Grammar Police is mostly with his/her timing. I log on in the morning to see what enticing tidbit has been posted for the day. (BTW, I really liked yours today, Brian.) Then, I read the postings and generally find a grammar comment within the first ten postings of the day. The posting just sets the blog off in an annoying direction almost every day. It's like getting ready to bite into a gorgeous piece of pie and finding a hair. Yuk. Spoils the whole experience.

It our typos are such an annoyance, just stay away. We get your point; why make such a big deal EVERY day.

And, you forget, most of us are quite involved in many other things while looking at the blog. We don't always have time to spell check our misspellings.

Posted by: My beef | November 30, 2006 4:39 PM

to Notyetamom,
That's exactly what I was thinking and didn't say - thanks!

Posted by: TakomaMom | November 30, 2006 4:40 PM

"It's like getting ready to bite into a gorgeous piece of pie and finding a hair."

That's exactly how I feel when I read something with misspellings and grammatical errors.

"It our typos are such an annoyance, just stay away. We get your point; why make such a big deal EVERY day."

If comments about correct grammar are such an annoyance, just stay away.


I find the grammar police to be no more annoying than the people who respond to the grammar police's remarks.

Posted by: to mybeef | November 30, 2006 4:45 PM

Scarry,

I make stir-frys with veggies and tofu or tempeh; mushroom stroganoff; beans bourguinon; Hungarian goulash; and a huge variety of stews, soups, and chilis.

We eat casseroles of beans, grains, vegetables, seitan, and mushrooms. I make pasta sauces for spaghetti, lasagne, and polenta; burritos and enchiladas; grain pilafs and noodle soups. I cook Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Greek, Mexican, and Indian.

And I spend very little time in the kitchen, so the recipes I use have to be pretty quick and simple.

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 4:48 PM

Notyetamom, you're right, it is often rude to correct someone else's grammar, but I don't think it's true across the board. I think TGP made a valid distinction in referring to a professional writer who is publishing. Not only is there a higher standard for official publications, but it is the writer's trade - getting feedback is how you improve your skills, even if it's just a reminder of the need to proofread more carefully (and I am a terrible proofreader, so this is a reminder I get frequently). You're right though, that admonishing someone in a public forum is rude - it would have been more polite to email Brian privately. The other thing is that I think it seems more rude when either person assumes that good grammar is related to intelligence. I think of language use as a skill that is learned and continually improved upon, and not necessarily a reflection of intelligence. I know people with terrible grammar that are extremely bright and vice versa. But often someone corrects another's grammar with the intent to make the other person look stupid, which is a horrible thing to do. On the other hand, sometimes it's just passing along information or feedback which can be very helpful - it all depends on the context, I guess.

Neighbor, I've never tried a pressure cooker, but you make it sound quite fabulous! I also have a total weakness for kitchen gadgets, so perhaps we'll give that a go...

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 4:48 PM

hear, hear, NotYetaMom.

Plus, and perhaps it's my short attention span, I'd rather peruse a comment, almost any comment, on the topic teed up for the day, or reacting to someone else's comment, than a comment relating to the Post's failure to proofread. Yawn. Comments of substance are more intriguing than comments relating to form.

and just to clarify, I'm not dissing off-topic comments re: recipes, vegan menus, or anything else substantive.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 30, 2006 4:49 PM

My Beef--
As to your first point, I have commented on typos in a column exactly twice so far. And in both cases it was after I found out that the WP specifically employs an editor to look them over! Sorry to have placed a hair in your pie, but I could say the same about sloppy proofreading in one of my favorite papers.
As to your second point, I said this twice and will say it a third time: I do **not** expect the postings to be professional pieces of grammar-perfect prose. We all have day jobs, etc. I just expect the column (which is NOT in the same category as our postings because it is "published" rather than just spontaneously posted) to have been thoughtfully written and carefully proofread. Take it, if you will, as an encouragement to the paper to "be all it can be." What is wrong with insisting on high quality product from the WASHINGTON POST?

Posted by: TheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 4:51 PM

"What is wrong with insisting on high quality product from the WASHINGTON POST?"

It's the OnBalance forum, Silly! If you want to insist, insist away, but please use the e-mail link to the editor. It's conveniently located directly above the block in which you're presently inserting your comments. Your concern has been made repeatedly, if not by you then by your twin in the universe, and the rest of us don't want to wade through this silliness before getting to our OnBalance silliness.

Posted by: to TheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 4:54 PM

"And, you forget, most of us are quite involved in many other things while looking at the blog. We don't always have time to spell check our misspellings."

I would contend that the length and frequency of some of your posts is direct evidence that many of you are NOT involved in other things while looking at this blog :)

Posted by: On the other hand... | November 30, 2006 4:56 PM

Notyetamom,

To go back to your earlier comment, having kids is not necessarily the death knell for sleeping in. On the weekends, my husband and I take turns getting the baby in the morning while the other sleeps in.

I can't promise you'll be able to sleep until 11 (especially if you're nursing), but one of us usually manages to stay asleep until around 9:00. And when your normal waking time is somewhere between 5 and 7, 9:00 is a real treat.

Posted by: NewSAHM | November 30, 2006 4:59 PM

From Michelle Singletary's column today - "Although it's not quite time to file your 2005 tax return, there are some things you can do to improve your tax situation before year-end."

Not to pick on Michelle, but a proofreader may have realized that she meant 2006 tax return.

Just another example of WashingtonPost mistakes.

I find in general that Internet writings are not at the same level as printed materials. I have a theory about this. When I was learning about writing, it was actually writing on paper with pen or pencil. Younger people, including my children, do most of their homework on the computer using keyboarding and spellcheck. I think that many have become so dependent on the 'tools' to find their mistakes, they don't grasp the differences between there, they're, and their as well as they should.

And Megan said that these are skills that don't reflect intelligence. While I don't disagree completely, I do feel that certain skills should be shown by educated people. Isn't that why employers hire people with college educations rather than high-school? Because they expect a certain level of skill? And I don't mean specialized degrees, just your basic undergrad degree.

As far as posting while multi-tasking, I think the errors and lack of proofreading show that you may be able to do several things at once, but not all will be done well.

Posted by: to TheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 5:05 PM

sigh. clearly there's a need to create a grammar blog so that there's an appropriate place for some participants to post their extended thoughts on the Post's supervision of grammar.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 5:07 PM

I'd much rather discuss grammar than recipes and food preferences.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 5:09 PM

Neighbor,

I bought a pressure cooker about a year ago. However, despite all I've read about how easy they are to use, I'm still a little intimidated, so I haven't tried it yet. Each time I read in a recipe "bring it up to pressure," I think, eek, that sounds complicated, and I chicken out.

Give me a pep talk, would you?

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 5:12 PM

if you'd rather discuss grammar than recipes, by george, we must not be discussing the right recipes. would anyone like to share any recipes for favorite beverages of the alcoholic variety? they may, if necessary, include animal by-products . . .

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 5:13 PM

I'm partial to fuzzy navels. The kind you drink.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 5:14 PM

Food good. Grammar bad.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 5:16 PM

"I would contend that the length and frequency of some of your posts is direct evidence that many of you are NOT involved in other things while looking at this blog :)"

Hee hee, too true! I, for one, am sitting on my hands waiting for my boss to get back to me on something.

"I do feel that certain skills should be shown by educated people."

I think that's true too, but I also don't think education always equates with intelligence - I've known people who did not go to college who are extremely smart people (mostly the same ones with terrible grammar that I mentioned before). Meanwhile, I've met some people in my pursuit of education that were like bumps on a log. Education can be a useful proxy for intelligence, but I don't think they're the same thing.

Also, I don't know if this is true, but I seem to remember reading that grammar is something that is imprinted on the brain at a very young age, and if you don't get it then, it doesn't become an ingrained thing (like learning right from left); therefore someone whose parents speak with poor grammar and doesn't get it right at an early age will always have to struggle to get it right - not that they can't learn it, but it will not be intuitive the way it is for people who do get exposed to it in the "formative years" (whenever that is). Does anyone know if this is legit?


Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 5:16 PM

"Neighbor,

I bought a pressure cooker about a year ago. However, despite all I've read about how easy they are to use, I'm still a little intimidated, so I haven't tried it yet. Each time I read in a recipe "bring it up to pressure," I think, eek, that sounds complicated, and I chicken out.

Give me a pep talk, would you?"

Pittypat, cooking with pressure cookers can be intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it you wonder why it took you so long to get one!!! I'm not vegetarian, so I use mine for meat dishes and stews. You need to keep in mind two things: (1) have enough liquids in the pressure cooker and (2)you start timing the preparation time once that thing that you put on the lid (forgot the name :-)) starts whistling.

Posted by: montgomery village | November 30, 2006 5:23 PM

My grandmother was a teacher and we either spoke correctly or not at all. She was vicious about correcting us. My younger brother was sometimes afraid to talk in front of her. Like all else - there is a nice way to correct someone and a mean way - a right time and a wrong time. Balance right?

Posted by: Early rising former yankee | November 30, 2006 5:24 PM

In response to today's question, I am really not a morning person. I get up after hitting the snooze button about 10 times :-). I know that once we have kids, this is the first thing that is going to change.

Posted by: montgomery village | November 30, 2006 5:26 PM

Megan, Early rising former yankee--

Perhaps if we can agree that using our language correctly is an important and valuable skill, we may also agree that we need to care more about doing it ourselves (so our children learn to do it) and asking professionals to do it.

I don't think this is "silly" at all, by the way. But I imagine that was clear already.

Posted by: TheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 5:29 PM

I have 2 children and still hit the snooze multiple times, so I learned to set the alarm an hour before I actually want to get up.

I have even been known to get up, walk downstairs to let the cat out, walk back upstairs and climb back into bed so I could hit the snooze several more times.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 5:31 PM

"I have 2 children and still hit the snooze multiple times, so I learned to set the alarm an hour before I actually want to get up.

I have even been known to get up, walk downstairs to let the cat out, walk back upstairs and climb back into bed so I could hit the snooze several more times."

I just might have to adopt your strategy.

Posted by: montgomery village | November 30, 2006 5:33 PM

Thanks, Montgomery. Think I'll give it a whirl tomorrow. :>)

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 5:34 PM

On a tangent to this Grammar Police business, anyone notice how George Will took Jim Webb to task over this Presidential Snub business?

I thought it was remarkable that a man as intellectual as Will (whether you agree with him or not) was left to grasp at linguistic straws rather than tackle the substance of Webb's decision not to be the typical phony politician. He's part of a co-equal branch of government. He need not bow and scrape.

I've always had respect for George Will and I thought it was beneath him to pick at Webb's grammar rather than the his stand on principle.

Posted by: Tangent | November 30, 2006 5:39 PM

I get up at 4:40 am. I used to do the snooze thing but found that I could fall back asleep and be dreaming in minutes. It was actually worse when the alarm went off the second time. Now I set it for the most amount of "real" sleep I need, bite the bullet and drag my butt out of bed.

Posted by: Early rising former yankee | November 30, 2006 5:40 PM

According to Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, you can make oatmeal in a crockpot, but it only takes 6 hours, so you'd need the programmable kind. This recipe uses 1 1/2 cups of oats and 4 cups of water, plus cinnamon, salt, raisins, and shredded apple. Yum!

Posted by: restonmom | November 30, 2006 5:40 PM

Does anyone else think that oatmeal is disgusting? Seriously, one of the reasons that I don't eat more "healthy" food is that I can't stand the taste of most of it.

I don't eat breakfast at all, except for my coffee, of course.

Posted by: lurker | November 30, 2006 5:47 PM

"our language correctly"

Can you give us a definition of "our language?" The English language is spoken and written differently all around the world. The British think that the way you speak is complete and utter rubbish. I think the root of the problem is that you are bothered by your lack of education, so you try to make up for it by pointing out other people's errors.

Posted by: tothegrammarpolice | November 30, 2006 5:47 PM

Tangent, I was left wondering whether Will behaved similarly after Cheney's less than elegant remark. I found out quickly that this wasn't the case. So his column was less about grammar and more about his political leaning.

Posted by: montgomery village | November 30, 2006 5:47 PM

Oatmeal is ok - smoothies are better. I picked up a Magic Bullet over the summer and throw in some low-fat vanilla yogurt, a banana, whatever fruit I have either fresh or frozen, and ice. It only takes a minute to blend. It comes with lids so I can then throw it in my lunch bag and have it for breakfast once I get to work.

Posted by: Early rising former yankee | November 30, 2006 5:49 PM

okay, Tangent, you've managed to drag the grammar message kicking and screaming into an area of substance. I'm in.

George Will made two points with respect to Mr. Webb. The first was that he acted in an uncivil manner. The second was that Mr. Webb, formerly quite precise in his use of language, has become quite imprecise of late in his use of language. Will's criticism did not relate to Webb's use of grammar. Saying "literally" when one means "figuratively", and employing "infinitely" when the noun being modified is, in fact, "finite" means one is not selecting the proper words to convey one's message. While we may disagree with Will's conclusion (and I do, by the way), his point that we must carefully select our words if we intend to communicate clearly and accurately is correct. Communication is the purpose of language, isn't it?

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 30, 2006 5:53 PM

Breaking news: Eva Longoria and what's his name (B-ball player Tony something) are engaged (sorry - watching E).

Posted by: Early rising former yankee | November 30, 2006 5:53 PM

To tothegrammarpolice at 5:47:

Of course. Vocabulary and spellings vary (though basic grammar is generally consistent, at least with respect to standard English in the UK and the US, the two versions with which I am familiar; I could not swear that new standard grammatical forms are not being developed elsewhere). I was speaking of our language in this country.

I am not sure why you think I lack education, but I assure you that is incorrect. Would you care to explain the reasons for this fairly uncalled-for statement?

Posted by: TheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 5:53 PM

Lurker, I despise oatmeal. Bleach. I know its wonderful for you and I want to like it, but I can't.

Tangent, doesn't Will often write about linguistics and language use generally? Or am I confusing him with someone else?

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 5:54 PM

OK, NC Lawyer, you got me. My linkage to Grammar Police was pretty forced. But I had to get you all to shift gears somehow. :-)

I agree that Will was emphasizing precision. But I also think it was awfully convenient that he took Webb to task in this way, when the elephant in the room clearly is GWB's own ham-handed grasp of language (and honesty, in general).

And as far as being civil, Montgomery Village correctly points out that there was no rebuke of Cheney for his use of obscenity in referring to the "other" party.

Posted by: Tangent | November 30, 2006 6:01 PM

I'd be thrilled if someone could just get the prez to pronounce "nuclear" correctly.

Of course, now he says "nucular" just to be stubborn.

Posted by: To the GP | November 30, 2006 6:08 PM

Tangent, I agree with you that Will has had a target-rich Republican environment in the past 24 months if he'd been motivated to call out uncivil politicians. Along with Cheney, I recall Tom Delay speaking in a rather rude, discourteous manner and getting a pass. Will does speak out on linguistics frequently, bless him, but incivility and sloppy language are not limited to Democrats.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 30, 2006 6:10 PM

"fairly uncalled-for statement"

This is among the worst of crimes against grammar, usage, and style. Larding a phrase with adverbs like "fairly" (especially when you've created your own adjective) is just poor writing.

Grammar Police: You may have your punctuation and spelling under control, but I recommend that you consult William Zinsser's ON WRITING WELL, currently in its zillionth edition, regarding your style.

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 6:14 PM

Ah. I see we are now definitely in the land of ad hominem attacks.

Ok, so perhaps the statement was not just "fairly" uncalled-for but uncalled-for tout court, and I criminally "larded" my sentence with adverbs. I intended to make allowances: perhaps the poster was expressing irritation at me, so the statement was an understandable though misguided way to vent, and I had indeed "called for" it by making a nuisance of myself.

However, I fear I invented nothing.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

uncalled-for

SYLLABICATION: un·called-for
PRONUNCIATION: n-kôldfôr
ADJECTIVE: 1. Not required or requested; unwanted: uncalled-for suggestions. 2. Not justified or deserved; unwarranted: uncalled-for rudeness.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 6:24 PM

Megan,

You may be thinking of William Safire, another Republican who writes on grammar, usage, and style. Or did -- for many years in the NYT Sunday magazine. Had his own column.

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 6:24 PM

FYI, Safire's still going strong in the NYT.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 30, 2006 6:26 PM

Pittypat and NC Lawyer, you're right! That is exactly who I was thinking of. Brain blip!

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 6:28 PM

"I criminally 'larded' my sentence with adverbs."

No, you just "larded" your phrase with an unnecessary adverb. Like "criminally."

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 6:33 PM

Pittypat,
this is silly. You are the one who called it a crime. I could have said "I larded my sentence with adverbs, which is a crime," but I said instead "I criminally larded my sentence with adverbs." We can disagree as to which is the better sentence, but what is your point? I was called ignorant, and asked why. If your point is that we all need to pay better attention to the way we speak and write, you and I agree. Why would you not instead ask the poster to justify his attack?

Posted by: TheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 6:37 PM

Megan and NC lawyer --

You guys would like this. Ever read Safire's column titled "I led the pigeons to the flag"? It was a million years ago, but so memorable. He was writing about how kids hear things before their vocabulary is fully developed. He used the example of the pledge of allegiance, which rendered in kidspeak sounded something like this:

I led the pigeons to the flag ...
And to the republic for Richard Stans ...
One nation ... in a dirigible ...
Blah, blah, blah ...

You get the idea. He also mentioned that really long letter in the middle of the alphabet -- ellemenopee.

It was really a kick. I laughed for days.

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 6:39 PM

See y'all tomorrow, when I'll be ISO a hair-free piece of pie.

BTW, Rebeldad, I really liked your column today, typo and all.

And, to all of the foodies out there, I may try oatmeal again.

Posted by: My beef | November 30, 2006 6:39 PM

Pittypat, you're not going to be a vegan anymore if you keep chewing on TheGrammarPolice! ;)

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 6:40 PM

The poster can't justify his attack. It's uninformed, psychobabble and utter rubbish. Having said that, if one opts as you did today, to repeatedly preach about grammar, eventually one will be the recipient of a baseless personal attack. Pittpat's attack was precise and she supported it. That's entirely different. Have a glass of wine. Read Thackery. Enjoy your evening.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 30, 2006 6:42 PM

Whoops, I guess I didn't hit refresh before the last one!

Pittypat, I'll have to look for that somewhere, sounds like a great column! My brother's name is Jake, and whenever my son sings the alphabet he says "H-I Jake, ellemenopee!" It cracks me up.

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 6:43 PM

That I will do, NC Lawyer. The same to you.

Posted by: TheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 6:45 PM

I confused grammar police with another poster. It was not an attack, it was an accident. Please don't critic my post

Posted by: duh | November 30, 2006 6:46 PM

Fun factoid. Thackeray's middle name was "Makepeace." Proper Noun. Not a demonstrative statement. No kidding...

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 6:50 PM

The grammar police sounds a lot like dadwannabe.

Posted by: hmmm | November 30, 2006 6:56 PM

TheGrammarPolice gets ten points and a nod of respect for not rudely pointing out my typo (misspelling Bill Thackeray's last name).

ah, a little civility is a breath of fresh air around here. isn't it?

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 30, 2006 6:59 PM

NC Lawyer,
contrary to popular belief, I don't point out posters' typos. (Well, that's not true: I did point out the typo when I was first called "the grammer police" today, but that's just because I thought it was ironic.) *Pittypat* is the one who corrected "then" for "than"!
I do feel like I am back in the sixth grade...

Posted by: TheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 7:04 PM

NC Lawyer -- the post about "Makepeace" was from me. Glad you liked it. Forgot to sign it...

Posted by: The beef | November 30, 2006 7:11 PM

I could have said "I larded my sentence with adverbs, which is a crime," but I said instead "I criminally larded my sentence with adverbs."

Oh, for crying out loud, GP. I was being flip -- pointing out another instance in which you used an unnecessary adverb. I was being a smart-aleck.

But, as long as you brought it up, those two sentences do not mean the same thing. The difference between putting "crime" in an adverbial clause (your first example) and using "criminally" to modify "larded" (second example) is that, in the first, you're saying that the doing of the action is the crime while in the second, you're saying that the manner in which you "larded" was "criminal." Do you see the difference?

This is one reason why people are better off not using adverbs. They think they can plop them anywhere in a sentence and get the meaning they intend.

Hemingway made a point of not using them, and he rarely used adjectives, either. As far as he was concerned, nouns and verbs told the story; the occasional modifier was ok, but only after a great deal of soul-searching. :>)

Truce, ok? I've been giving you a hard time because you've been blasting away all day on the blog. Suck it up and smile.

Posted by: pittypat | November 30, 2006 7:12 PM

Point well taken, Pittypat. Truce.
:-)
(and now REALLY over and out, as I had intended to do hours ago.)

Posted by: TheGrammarPolice | November 30, 2006 7:18 PM

still no drink recipes, I see, but look what we have learned today about adverbs, dead white guys, live white guys who are incapable of pronouncing nuclear correctly. . . and the amazing amount of accomplishments some folks are capable of achieving between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 7:22 PM

To anonymous at 7:22: What kind of drink recipes are you looking for? I have some good ones. With or without? Fruity? Tart?

Posted by: Early rising former yankee | November 30, 2006 7:32 PM

Ok, I'll play. My husband used to make me this one before I got pregnant again:

1 shot of tangerine martini mix
1.5 shots vanilla vodka
1.5 shots peach vodka
splash of cranberry juice

I know, I know, it sounds sweet enough to kill a horse, but it's actually quite nice.

Posted by: NewSAHM | November 30, 2006 7:38 PM

pittypat, I was nervous about it too but the descriptions in Lorna Sass' cookbooks made me feel like I could take the plunge. I checked a Sass cookbook out of the library and liked it so much I immediately ordered one to keep.

And, yeah, I HATED oatmeal until a few years ago. It turns out I had only had instant oatmeal, which to me has a really bitter flavor. Slow-cooked oatmeal is quite nice, and is a mild base for many yummy toppings.

Posted by: Neighbor | November 30, 2006 7:40 PM

Slushy drink
1 can of passion fruit frozen drink
Fill can with fruit of choice (frozen is ok)
1/2 can rum
Ice

Posted by: Early rising former yankee | November 30, 2006 7:49 PM

to NewSAHM: that sounds simply maaaahhhvelous!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 7:50 PM

Random thoughts:

re: rice cookers -- I've successfully used an old crockpot (for many years) as a rice/oatmeal cooker. This particular model will allow for setting of start-time/finish-time/go-to-warming-mode options, but you could fake a lot of that with a >$10 dollar plug-in timer. I just throw the ingredients into a collander (I had to cut off the handles to allow it to fit into the slow cooker), and set it onto an upturned bowl in a couple of inches of water inside the crockpot, and it's ready to get the job done with no additional input from me.

re: language usage/correction -- Very few folks who know me (and none who know me well) would consider me to be casual about spelling and/or grammar. One of my standard lines (occasionally quoted back to me at inconvenient moments) is, "The English language is a precise tool. Wield it carefully!" But I'm unwilling to spend lots of time proofreading my casual e-mails & comments, and incapable of demanding that others do so. I can get real testy about muddy thoughts, but I can live with muddy spelling & usage.

Posted by: Bob S. | November 30, 2006 8:30 PM

3 Parts Jameson's
2 Parts Ginger Ale.

Repeat.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 8:31 PM

The grammar police sounds a lot like dadwannabe.
Posted by: hmmm | November 30, 2006 06:56 PM


And hmmm sounds a lot like Scarry (posting anonomyously when snarky, of course). Honey, you can clean up your grammar and spelling, but people can still geuss it's you.

Posted by: the original hmmm | November 30, 2006 8:56 PM

I'll have to check the proportions, but my fave is the Moscow Mule: vodka, ginger beer (real ginger beer, not just ginger ale) and lime juice. YUM! Perfect for summer. Winter for me is single malt time...ahhhh....

Posted by: Megan | November 30, 2006 9:12 PM

Single Malt Liquor?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 30, 2006 9:17 PM

Megan,

That's one to remember. Just as it's always 5:00 somewhere, it's also always summer somewhere.

Posted by: NC lawyer | November 30, 2006 9:29 PM

PRESSURE COOKING

My sister the vegan (I'm not) turned me on to using a pressure cooker. Now I use my multiple times a week--almost daily in the summer. I make chicken soup in the PC, based on Lorna Sass's non vegetarian PC cookbook. In the summer/fall I do all kinds of beans--green, wax, roma, lima, purple hull, October, etc. Whatever is at the farmer's market. Sometimes I put little potatoes in with the beans. I have a few dried bean recipes (from Sass's Great Veg Cooking under Pressure) I use the PC for also. I've cooked rice in it as well, but I don't really think that saves a lot of time. I also really like the chicken packet recipes and the chicken in gingered plum sauce, both in Lorna Sass's Pressure Perfect.

For breakfast weekdays it is real oatmeal, cooked in the microwave, flavored with usually brown sugar, but sometimes jam, apple butter, peanut butter, or with fruit. My girls will eat it with pear sauce or frozen strawberries. On the weekends I can often be convinced to make pancakes.

Posted by: single mother by choice | November 30, 2006 11:15 PM

Actually, that post was not from me. I find it funny that you would say that since I really haven't been posting much at all due to being extremely busy.

Have a nice day!

Posted by: scarry | December 1, 2006 8:24 AM

Even if she did post it what was snarky about it?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 1, 2006 8:28 AM

Jimmy Carter pronounced it "nucular," too.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 1, 2006 8:37 AM

I have eggs, toast and bacon 4 out of five mornings. I have whole wheat no sugar added toast, two slices of turkey bacon and 1/4 cup of egg beaters with some salsa on top. Day five I eat a whole egg with runny yolk on white bread. I also eat high fiber cereal every day with fruit (although this time of year it pains me to pay 4 bucks for less than a cup of blueberries.). Pittypat, what do you do with all of those diamonds you collect every day?

Posted by: uyts | December 1, 2006 9:33 AM

Will usually is just a little annoying to me, and I rarely read him, but yesterday I did. I was actually embarrassed for him because he was being so juvenile. How great it would be if the only mistakes our president had made were in terms of protocol and grammar.

Posted by: to tangent | December 1, 2006 9:39 AM

"Pittypat, what do you do with all of those diamonds you collect every day?"

uyts,

Don't understand the question. ??

To everyone who responded to my pressure cooker angst, many thanks. I'll give it a try this weekend.

Posted by: pittypat | December 1, 2006 9:52 AM

Single malt scotch, a very pricey habit but ooooh I love it. When I can't hack the price, I go for Jamesons or Tullamore Dew instead.

NC Lawyer, very very true about summers and 5:00! We've long since lost the original recipe for the Moscow Mule, but my husband (who is the official mixer in our house) does it like this:

Fill a tumbler with ice
pour 1 shot of vodka
a "splash" of lime juice - fresh squeezed is best, Nellie & Joes Key Lime Juice is also fantastic
fill it up with ginger beer - we usually get Reeds Extra Strong (with 28 grams of real ginger!)

Posted by: Megan | December 1, 2006 10:46 AM

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