Friday, September 18, 2009

Family Traditions

It's funny how a seemingly insignificant action can become a family tradition. My sons and I have some regular family traditions, like having a big Sunday supper. But we also have a Friday night tradition.

I don't know when it began, but I do know it's lasted several years. Every Friday night, we have pizza for dinner. David, my oldest son, generally tries to dictate what pizza we will have, but more recently, say the last year, David and Derek will take turns choosing pizza. Upon a rare occasion, the boys will play an Xbox video game to determine who picks. That's what they did today. David won the Madden football game 33-31, so he chose our pizza, which was the new stuffed crust pan pizza from Pizza Hut.

One other tradition that we have developed over the past couple of years is that every Sunday morning, I fix a homemade "big" breakfast for the boys. When it's David's Sunday, he always asks for pancakes. I spent about 6 months trying to find the best pancake recipe. What I finally decided was that the one on the Bisquick box for Melt-In-Your-Mouth pancakes is about the best. I add a little extra vanilla, but that's it.
Those pancakes must be good because David eats 6 or 7 of them every time I make them. I also found a recipe that uses cinnamon chips and that is pretty tasty. Derek gets tired of pancakes, so I try to mix his up by putting chocolate chips in the batter before I make his portion.

Derek likes scrambled eggs with ham and cheese. He also likes to find new recipes on the Internet or off of the Food Network for us to try, and he doesn't limit his search for breakfast only. Derek has found recipes for dinner meals, too. Whenever he finds one and prints it out, we try it. Derek is definitely the food adventurer of the two boys.

Derek is also more of a chef than David. I bought a Rocket Grill at the beginning of the summer for the boys to use to cook burgers, hot dogs, grilled sandwiches, etc. Put the food in the cooking bag, hang the bag in the grill, and set the timer. It's an easy to use and virtually no clean up way to cook. It's taken all summer, but finally Derek will cook things in the Rocket Grill. Once he got started, there has been no stopping him. Today, he made himself a grilled chicken, cheese, and BBQ sauce panini sandwich. He makes grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He's becoming quite creative. I like it because there are no dirty pans in the sink when I come home from work. The cooking bags are just thrown away after the food is done.

I should start making both boys cook one night a week so they will have basic skills when they move away. That's my next big project. That and having them do their own laundry. :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where to Start...

We started this summer with two dogs. We have a Yorkie, Skittles (a female) who will be 11 on Halloween. We also have a Black Lab mix, Kobe (a female) who will be 2 on October 9. Both dogs were rescues (of sorts). Skittles was adopted at age 2 from one of my best friends who was ready to take her to the animal shelter. Kobe was adopted directly from the Animal Welfare League when she was 11 weeks old. Skittles has always hated Kobe and won't associate with her. I decided it was time to get Kobe a companion dog friend.

I looked for months on the shelter websites. All of the stories about the dogs broke my heart. One evening when my sons went to a White Sox game with their father, I decided to stop by the Animal Welfare League just to "look" at the dogs. I really had no intention of actually adopting one that night. Then, I met Jordan. Jordan is the name we gave her. The sign on her cage said Cocoa.

The noise level in the "big dog" portion of the shelter was in overdrive. There had to be 100 dogs in rows of cages. When I would walk by a cage, the dogs in it would bark as loud as they could at me. I also made the mistake of visiting at feeding time. The noise level, which was already unbelievably loud, increased tremendously. She was huddled in a ball in the back of her cage. I stopped at her cage and talked to her. She just raised her head for a second, gave me a quick glance, and then hid it again in her paws. She had only been in the shelter for 11 days and was still in shutdown mode, trying to cope with all of the noise and confusion. My heart went out to her.

I asked the front desk if I could meet her in a room. The poor thing didn't even want to come out of her cage and make the walk to the private room to meet me. She reluctantly followed the attendant, dogs on either side of her going into a barking frenzy as she passed their cages. Her sign said she was a German Shepherd mix, but I didn't and still don't see much German Shepherd in her. Her coat was dirty and matted, the undercoat shedding and sticking out all over the place from lack of grooming. I could feel her ribs when I ran my hands over her sides. She wanted to be friendly but was scared. She came and hid her face on my thigh. Of course, she won me over that very minute.

I proceeded to complete the steps needed to adopt her. As I was talking to the woman at the front desk, I learned that Jordan had been someone's pet. The family who owned her moved out of their house and just left her behind as a stray to fend for herself. I don't know how long she had to survive like that before one of the neighbors brought her to the shelter.

I drove 25 minutes home to get Skittles and Kobe. They had to meet Jordan and they all had to get along in order for the adoption to be approved. I held my breath as Skittles met Jordan. Knowing that Skittles hates Kobe, I wasn't sure how she would react to another big dog. Miraculously, Skittles didn't snap, growl, or bark at Jordan. Skits must have known that Jordan needed us. :) Two days later, after Jordan was spayed, I picked her up and brought her to her "forever" home. :)