Taken 4 : Skills Indeed

This morning over breakfast, Le Grande H told me that food has begun disappearing from his lunch. Of course, I was curious.

In Southern California, we so rarely experience weather that the kids all hang their backpacks outside. My son does not zip his closed. He also takes some of his snacks out of his zipped lunchbox, so it would not be difficult for someone or something to abscond with his beloved snacks.

He seemed to think that someone or something (his words) was stealing this food. And he launched into his best Liam Neeson imitation.

From the archives…


This gem is from April 2012. I know they were both sick. I think this was the song from the Chipwrecked Movie (I’m Not a Survivor?), but I have no clue what they were doing.

The end just kills me. Always playing to the crowd.

Barnyard Moosical

That’s right folks, it takes me four months to work out all the technical problems I had with editing, exporting and uploading this video. It has been a rough road, but here it is.

Famous Baby C is the second goat from the left. Her group steps up to mic around the 11:34 mark if you don’t want to watch the splendor of kindergartners singing and dancing.

I apologize for the occasional blurry video, but the focus was in flux through the whole thing and it turns out I am not the greatest videographer. At all.


The Chuck Norris of pies

It is that time of year, people. Apples are ready to be picked. Pies are begging to be made. Caramel for the apples is also begging to be made. It is easy to make and sooooo delicious.

Even people who are not crazy about apple pie will like this one. It kicks all other pie’s asses. Seriously.



2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

1/2 cup ice water



1 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used Granny Smith)

1/2 cup carmel apple dip (I made my own carmel sauce)

2 Tablespoons milk or cream



1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter


To make the crust, combine the flour and salt. Work in the butter to make an unevenly crumbly mixture. Add enough water to bring the dough together. Divide it in half, shape into disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.


To make the filling, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir in the apples. Combine 2 Tablespoons caramel apple dip with the milk or cream. Toss with the apples.


To make the streusel, combine the flour and sugar. Work in the butter until crumbly.


To assemble the pie, roll one piece of dough into a 12″ round, and lay it into a 9″ pie plate. Spoon in the filling; sprinkle with streusel. Roll the second piece of dough iinto a circle slightly larger than you pie plate. Cut 2″-wide strips and weave a lattice crust. Seal and crimp the edges. I brushed the top with some cream and sprinkled sparkling sugar on top before baking. If you are like me and put way too many apples in your pie, put some parchment on a cookie sheet and put that under that bad boy. Otherwise, make time to clean your oven. It gets messy.

Bake the pie in a preheated 375°F oven for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown. Cool it for 15 minutes, then drizzle with remaining caramel apple dip; warming the dip slightly helps with drizzling. Cool the pie for at least 2 hours before serving.


From: King Arthur Flour


Have you discovered Waterlogue yet?

It just makes the most pedestrian things seem magical to me.

A new school year…

So we got the school supplies and fresh haircuts. I checked the school website obssessively waiting to see which teachers would be teaching our children for the next 9 months.

The stakes were kind of high.

Grand Master H had a slightly rough time last year. He had two teachers last year, a “team teaching/job sharing situation” which is awesome for them. They are both moms and I get the urge to want to work and be there for your children. However, one teacher was calm and cool and the other one was a nervous chihuahua of an accounting type. The Oscar Madison/Felix Unger-style of every week was jarring to Grand Master H. Very early on he started calling one teacher Mean Old “Mrs. Unger” and it pretty much went downhill from there.

There were also bullies and other issues, new friends, science experiments that fired his imagination/curiosity, so I opted not to make his situation worse by going to the mattresses with “Mrs. Unger.” Which, by the way, is not her real name, but really really suits her uptight, rigid, clenched personality. Her career choice is woefully incorrect. Dealing with unpredictable messy first graders really should not have been her career path, but alas, we were in it and made the best of it.

So, at 3:10 when I saw that Famous Baby C would be having her kindergarten teacher again for first grade, I pretty much wept with joy. And then, Grand Master H got Mrs. Wildcard, I wasn’t sure how to feel.

So we went to the pool and had fish tacos and fun on the last official full day of summer vacation.



And the next morning we gathered our 2,413 pounds of school supplies and trundled to school. We found their respective lines and they lined up with old friends, a few old enemies and some people we didn’t know. But we kept it positive, because despite everything, I wanted them to feel good about the new year and I was so hopeful.

And then, Mrs. Wildcard came and introduced herself to every child in her line and every parent. She took almost 30 minutes to talk to each child and each parent. And then she took her freshly minted second graders to her classroom, told them a few basic rules of her classroom, was completely awesome and loving and patient. It was immediately obvious to me that Mrs. Wildcard loves her job and loves these little people. Her passion for her job radiates from her.

And then I went to the car and the patiently waiting Mr. Smith and I wept with joy and relief. I knew that Mrs. Wildcard wasn’t a wildcard at all, she would be so wonderful for Grand Master H and that he would like her. Second grade would be much better than first grade had been.

On Friday, after two days of being in Mrs. Wildcard’s class I asked him what he thought, “She’s a good teacher Mommy, and she’s really nice.”

For. The. Win!!!


Except there is no hula hoop as advertised in the title. Not sure what happened there, but this made me laugh.