Friday, February 27, 2015

These Are The Days (You'll Remember)

6:15am or 7:03am or maybe 7:59am if I'm super lucky | Arlo stands up in his Pack-n-Play and pats my head. Yep, still sleeping in a travel bed right next to my bed because I still wake several times a night to listen to him breathe.

8:01am | Bring his smooshy warm cheeks into our bed, where he pats his daddy awake.

8:05am | I have to go to the bathroom, ahem #2, at the same time every morning when my body starts to wake up and if I don't I won't go ALL DAY LONG and it's sad and painful. During said bathroom trip I always write in my mom's one-line-a-day journal about something sweet or mundane about yesterday because if I don't I won't REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED the day before the day before and it's also sad and painful (my memory).

8:06am | Hear the girls screaming and fighting over playing Minecraft on the Kindle, even though there are rules about no gaming on weekdays.

8:07am | Scream back at the girls to stop screaming. (Because: brilliant parenting.)

8:10am | Wander to the kitchen to turn on the kettle for hot water for Arlo's bottle, praying that Dr. Brown pre-set the coffee pot the night before (he didn't).

8:11am | Yell for the girls to come eat breakfast and watch them pour cornflakes more on the counter than in the bowl but whatever.

8:15am | Feed Arlo his bottle while checking Facebook and email for anything that needs immediate morning attention (read: gossip or birthday notifications or reading new mean comments on late night news articles on KTVB's page or snoop on the latest updates on a fight happening on another friend's wall about politics or breastfeeding or Taylor Swift).

8:30am | Try to get Alice to stop doing cartwheels and get dressed for school and remind Lucy to please don't forget to put deodorant on today.

8:45am | Hard-boiling eggs for breakfast (while Instagramming them, of course!) and yelling at Alice because now she's round-offing and still in her pajamas.

9:00am | Dr. Brown to the rescue, smoothing out the bumpy socks and finding the matching gloves and calming the preteen about how late it is and getting both girls out the door for the walk to school with a mug of coffee from a nice, steaming pot that he has now made for both of us.

9:15am | I hide the Kindle for the rest of the day and kiss Dr. Brown goodbye, sending him on his merry walk to work with his podcast already streaming through earbuds.

9:19am | Change Arlo's first poop of the day (he's regular like Mama) and stare at the diaper because the contents still look remarkably like they did when he ingested them 12 hours prior. Worry about whether or not he's extracting the necessary vitamins in his tiny system.

9:22am | Settle back into various morning internet routines, reading messages and mail and news stories while refilling coffee mug 3x.

10:00am | Check the paper wall calendar (read: your life scheduling bible) on the fridge and pray you didn't schedule any meetings or appointments before noon since 1) you're not dressed 2) it will completely fuck with Arlo's morning napping routine.

10:01am | No meetings today, actually, no reason to leave the house at all unless we want to. Snuggle sweet baby boy into his fleece sleep sack for his morning nap and turn on the stuffed bear that blares the beating heart sound that neither you, Arlo or Dr. Brown can sleep without now.

10:02am | Stand outside the bedroom door for a manic minute, trying to decide in what order and how many things that you need to accomplish in the next hour sans baby.

10:03 - 11:15am | Write a blog post, print and mail off a grant, put in a load of laundry, fold another load of laundry, take my braless boobs outside with the kitchen compost bowl to dump, let the chickens out, pick up the handful of goddamn pink Idaho Statesman ads in bags strewn across the front yard, close the door on the Little Free Library, wave (embarrassed) at my neighbor, order my niece a birthday gift direct mailed from Etsy the day before her birthday, send an apology text to parents of said niece for late gift. Basically, cram as much shit at possible into a little over an hour's time.

11:17am | Grab screeching baby from his bed while your landline is ringing for the fifth time this morning with some toll free number appearing on the caller ID screen. I pick up and hang up on them immediately.

11:30am | Prepare bottle #2.

12:01pm | Remember that you need to call St. Als about a billing question because you can't keep straight all the bills and all the monies for all three children and your birth 11 months ago and a vasectomy 4 months ago and why are we just getting charged and still paying for these things? My cheek hangs up my iPhone on customer service rep (GADS!) and I call back again and wait for 4 minutes and restate claim and apologize for the baby perched upon my hip that is yelping into the phone.

12:33pm | Phone rings again with a representative from a local organization that is reviewing one of the grants I wrote for our school garden (yea!) but again I have to apologize for said hip screeching baby. (She isn't amused.)

1:06pm | More poop. More worrying. Facetime Dr. Brown to show him and express my concerns.

1:31pm | Friend texts she's stopping by in a few. Shit. Strip Arlo out of pjs and pop him in the tub with me while I shower carefully, sidestepping his slippery body and that pointy Big Bird toy.

1:40pm | Dress Arlo in a 6 month sized shirt and 18 month sized pants which both remarkably fit his tiny 11 month old body perfectly because baby clothing sizes MAKE SO MUCH SENSE.

1:51pm | Friend stops by to drop something off and I apologize for the cornflakes and pick up Alice's dirty underpants from the living room couch and I lie and say that our "house is unusually messy because WE'VE JUST BEEN SO BUSY."

2:04pm | I realize that I've forgotten to feed Arlo (and myself) lunch, so I put some frozen peas in the microwave while wiping the breakfast food off the highchair with a baby wipe. I search the fridge for leftovers for myself because if there aren't any, I'm eating a cold plain tortilla.

2:39pm | Googling about starting whole milk a month before Arlo's first birthday somehow leads me down an internet rabbit hole of searching Pinterest for ideas on how to make a play tent and then I end up watching the newest Ask A Mortician YouTube video and then my another friend messages me about what age I think is appropriate for our daughters' to read Are You There God, It's Me Margaret? and we end up chatting about Girl Scout cookies and mutual friends and, eventually, world domination (truth). All the while, checking Instagram on my phone and posting more pics of random things around my house using artsy filters.

2:47pm | Wonder what time I last gave Arlo a bottle because he's crabby. I think maybe he's got a fever so I grab the Vaseline and anal thermometer because Mama takes no chances on inaccurate temps and hold his legs tight while singing Katy Perry songs to get him to keep still.

2:51pm | While making another bottle, I hear sirens in the distance and freeze, holding as still as possible to hear their location better. I can't decipher how close they are, so I run out to the front sidewalk to make sure they are not headed towards the girls' elementary school a few blocks away.

2:55pm | Satisfied that no one I love is in immediate danger, I return to a house filling with smoke from a now empty water kettle turning black from all heat and no liquid.

3:11pm | Will we have time to walk up to the corner market to pick up a lemon needed for dinner? We haven't left the house today and Arlo could use the fresh air and I could use the sunshine, so we take the next 15 minutes trying to find shoes and wrangle his tiny body into a hat and coat he hates.

3:40pm | Make it to the market and halfway home when I realize Arlo's ditched his hat out of the stroller somewhere. I turn around to see it floating in the wind several blocks back. I seriously consider how many other winter hats we already own and if I need to retrieve this one or let it go. Rational thinking sets in, and we retrace our steps.

3:54pm | I decide, every day, to try to lay Arlo down for his second nap MINUTES before his two sisters come barreling in the door after school with their fighting and gymnastics. (Because again: brilliant parenting.)

4:00pm | Baby up, girls in, fighting started.

4:12pm | Demands for stovetop popcorn begin and will not cease. Swipe something small and dangerous from Arlo's mouth for the 39th time today. Have I changed his diaper lately? Did he poop today?

5:01pm | Start pacing the sidewalk watching for Dr. Brown. Re-enter the house to see ants, everywhere, eating some remnants of food. Fuck, I think, but leave it.

5:06pm | Lucy is watching Maroon 5's "Sugar" video on the TV on repeat a thousand times AND LOUD OMG. Alice is now spewing at me all the details of who said what and who touched what and how she looked at her and what happened in P.E. and what the duty on the playground said and who cried at school.

5:35pm | Dr. Brown still isn't home and I start washing a basket of purple fingerling potatoes to prep for dinner and I briefly think how lucky we are to still have fresh produce from last summer's garden until I dump half the basket which is full of dirt along with the potatoes into my sink and the whole thing turns to mud crusted piles of dirty dishes still from last night.

5:39pm | HOME. Another adult in the house THANK THE LAWD.

6:07pm | I carry Arlo outside (I'm pretty certain my right hip is permanently marked by this child's spot) to see how Dr. Brown is faring grilling the steaks (read: desperate attempt to talk to another adult for any amount of time/number of minutes possible). He grabs my ass.

6:31pm | We eat as a family. Alice wants to draw a card from our question basket, but Dr. Brown makes one up instead. If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go? Lucy: Universal Studios in Florida. Amy: Paris. Dr. Brown: Hawaii. Alice: Roaring Springs Water Park. In Meridian. (We decide that Arlo's dream vacation might be Atlanta, Idaho, though, so he wins by default.)

7:01pm | Lucy, it's time to practice the piano, I say.

7:11pm | Lucy, please practice the piano. Now, I say.

7:18pm | I told you to practice the piano CAN YOU NOT HEAR MY WORDS? I SHOUT.

7:18 - 7:38pm | Piano is practiced for the next twenty minutes. I attempt to tackle a kitchen full of dirty dishes.

7: 40 - 8:00pm | Repeat the same scenario as above, only this time VIOLIN. (I'm so tired.)

8:01 - 8:15pm | HOMEWORK. (14 minutes worth? SMALL MIRACLES.)

8:15pm | Showers and baths commence. Our parental tag team on this nightly scenario is ON POINT.

8:29pm | Adam Levine really is hot.

8:35pm | Baby Arlo on lap with bottle in one hand, paperback in the other, Lucy and I read together while I can hear the names Almonzo and Pa from the bottom bunk in the other room. (Again, parental units divide and conquer like old pros here.)

9:07pm | Everyone tucked in after teeth flossed (Six cavities! $88 a piece! That's what savings accounts are for!).

9:10pm | 2nd attempt at finishing the dishes, sweeping the floor and finally eradicating the ants. For now.

9:40pm  | I'm so fucking tired. All I want are my 'jamas, my bed, and the copy I just picked up from the library of Lena Dunham's new memoir. I'm on the chapter about her wild college sex years and I can't wait to live vicariously through her adventures because I'm 39 and it's 9:40 and I'M IN BED ALREADY.

9:58pm | Brief thought about possibly having sex tonight.

10:00pm | Out. Like a light.

And as you feel it, you'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky.

It's true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

These are days.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

FOODIE: The Pioneer Woman Cookbook Challenge | January Update

Whew, this is so much easier than I thought it would be. I've decided to make at least two recipes a week from the cookbook, which really helps me feel less overwhelmed when thinking about 109 recipes to get done in 2015. I've stayed right on top of it for this first month, but haven't felt strong love for most of the recipes (except one, which I'll save for last here). I have, however, been thrilled to find a compelling reason to finally open the box of vintage Lenox china c. 1960 that haven't been used in at least ten years. Every Sunday night is Pioneer Woman dinner, and we bust out the gorgeous gold leaf china. What a fun new tradition!


Let's start with the NAWS.

Chicken Tortilla Soup:  My Lucy is the biggest soup fan and she loved this. Dr. Brown and I both thought it just okay. We make a version of this ourselves that we've perfected over the years, and we think it's better. The addition of cut up corn tortillas, though, is a brilliant idea.

French Onion Soup: Meh. Julia Child's is SO MUCH BETTER. I think it's the addition of chicken broth in this one that just makes it blah to me.

Hummus: So garlicky that it gave me a super upset stomach. Admittedly, I'm way sensitive to garlic (unless I'm pregnant - I know, weird), but Dr. Brown has a stomach of steel and eats ALL THE THINGS and it did the same to him. Also, Dr. Brown is Greek, so we are a bit snobbish about the Middle Eastern foods and we have a Mediterranean cookbook with a killer hummus recipe that this one does not beat.

Brie-Stuffed Mushrooms: We made these for Katy Bowl Sunday (football WHA?!@#) when our friends the Zehnas were in town from Utah, along with the hummus above (and PW's bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers which were in her first cookbook and we will make for the rest of time they are THAT GOOD). These were the best of the naws, but not amazing. Fine, but I'm not searching for just fine in this quest.

Pork Chops with Apples & Grits: Much like garlic doesn't agree with my stomach, grits do not agree with MY ANYTHING. Listen, I've even lived in the South for a short time (I went on exchange during college to Charleston, SC) where grits were served at every single meal (sigh) at my college dorm lunchroom. I've tried and tried and tried and even made them homemade myself to no avail. I ain't doin' it. Also, the pork chops weren't that great, and I do usually love them with apples. Dr. Brown did like the grits (he thought them better the next day), so he gives this one a higher ranking than I.

Let's move on to the FOREVER AND EVER AMENS.

Rigatoni and Meatballs: I made this for my grandma's 85th birthday party dinner and OMG WE ALL LOVED IT. Seriously, those meatballs?! We used tomatoes we had roasted with garlic and herbs from our own summer garden and frozen in the sauce and they truly made the difference. This recipe is not on PW's website (which is where I've linked all the other recipes here), so you'll just have to get the book if you want to make it. Also? Kid-approved. Even Arlo loved his teeny tiny bite sized pieces.

Meatball Sliders: PW directs you to use the leftover meatballs and sauce from the recipe above for these and holy moly, we almost loved these more than the rigatoni above. Paired with baked French fries, it was a super easy leftover kind of meal for a weeknight. Alice and Lucy also loved this one.

Classic Hot Wings: These are spicy as hell, but Dr. Brown is the wing connoisseur and he gives a big stamp of approval. It makes a ton of sauce, though, so you could probably cut back on that, or else more wings than the recipe calls for.

Roasted Cauliflower: We made this as a side dish to Dr. Brown's BBQ ribs and both agreed that this was the best way we've ever eaten cauliflower, hands down. So yummy! (Again, no recipe on PW's site for this, sorry!)
Billie's Italian Cream Cake: This, my friends, was January's crowning jewel. The best recipe I made all month. This cake is a winner. It took hours, was three layers high, and was my grandmother's 85th birthday cake. It was even better the next morning with coffee. Super rich and lovely. I'm a huge cake snob, and once you've had homemade cake, you'll never, ever, ever be able to eat store bought or boxed cake mix cakes again in the same way. We all give this the highest ranking. Grandma-approved!