Monday, February 28, 2011

Sunday Chicken Dinner

I've always wanted to roast a chicken. There's just something about the look and smell of it that is so homey and delightful and reassuring somehow. Maybe it's the way the chicken looks all cozy and warm nestled in a pile of caramelized root vegetables. I know that sounds really psycho, but I'm just laying it all out there. I bet that's how Martha Stewart looks at a roasted chicken. Yep, me and Martha, peas in a pod. Uh-huh.

Anyway, thanks to my new favorite store, Earth Fare, we received a free dinner for four just by registering on their website!!! (the deal expires today so jump on it, y'all). This meal deal included a whole chicken, baby carrots and mashed potatoes. YUM, even though I can't eat mashed potatoes due to Clara's milk allergy -another topic for another day. So I went to pick up my bird on Saturday and was so excited to cook it for dinner on Sunday.

WARNING: To those with weak stomachs, stop reading here and just know that the chicken was golden and delicious and I am a culinary master. For those who are hard core, read on...

OK, so here's the thing. To cook it, one has to actually touch the darn thing. Not only that, but there are innards, y'all. Liver, heart, gizzard, etc... I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I knew this would be a step in the actual process, but wan't exactly prepared for the handling and de-gutting that would have to take place. OK, the parts were inside the cavity and all I had to do was reach inside and pull them out. No biggie, right? Wrong.

I looked at the bird and although it had no head, it looked at me. I thought to myself, or maybe said aloud (I do that from time to time),"You're not the boss of me. I'm sorry, but you're already dead and won't feel a thing. I can do this." My husband was in the living room and heard me making gagging sounds and saying "Oh, no" over and over. He ever so gently called in and said "Just do it!". Thanks, Tom. I called back, "I need your help, you are going to have to get these parts out." And do you know what my rugged, manly and ever-so-chilverous man replied??? "No, you've got to do it. You wanted to cook this chicken, so do it." That's right ladies, back off, he's mine.

So, there was no option. I would clean this bird out and win this moment. And so I did. And I rinsed the bird, inside and out, dried it, seasoned it and now on to the trussing.

Truss: verb
1 tie up the wings and legs of (a chicken or other bird) before cooking.
tie up (someone) with their arms at their sides : I found him trussed up in his closet.

I have never trussed, of course so I did what any modern woman would do, I brought my laptop into the kitchen and googled "how to truss a chicken". May I recommend's how-to video on trussing a chicken. I only had to watch it about 7 times, each time finding a way to move the mouse and click on play without using my polluted raw chicken hands. Finally my chicken was trussed! See photo for proof!

I cooked the chicken right along side of carrots (free) and parsnips and it was divine I tell you! Melaina loved it and even wanted seconds. I have entered into a new culinary dimension and will now be roasting chickens like nobody's business!

Side note: It is helpful to keep a canister of Clorox wipes nearby to disinfect all things touched by grubby raw chicken hands!
Happy trussing and roasting, everyone!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Simple Joys

As I wrote in my last blog post, there have been a few challenges this week. Now though, I am starting to see the fog lift a little and see that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel. It's sometimes the smallest things that give us the greatest boost. I thought I would list just 10 of the joys and pick-me-ups that have gotten me through the last couple of days. These are in no particular order in case my husband gets offended. Just stream of consciousness, honey.

1) Good music! Ray LaMontagne, how I love thee. The song "Hannah" just soothes my weary soul. Mix 2 parts Ray with one part Travis Tritt and there are better time ahead, I promise!

2) Melaina's quirkiness. Yesterday morning as we were getting ready for school, we took a break while we were waiting for Daddy to fix Melaina's bagel. Melaina wanted me and Clara to come along for a ride on her magic carpet a.k.a. butterfly blanket which is a necessity that is second only to air as far as Melaina is concerned. So, I plop Clara down on the blanket and get myself situated and we are off!
I said "Oh, Melaina! I love flying on the magic carpet. Where are we going?"
She answers in her dreamy airy voice, "To the restRAUNK" (this is how she says restaurant).
"Which restaurant?" I ask.
"The one with grilled cheeses in there".
I say, "Oh. What are we going to feed Clara?"
"Food with carrots" she answers definitively.

Sounds good to me. But then Melaina had an alarmed face as she said, "Oh no! The magic carpet's batteries are dead" So we made an emergancy landing so that Melaina could get more pretend batteries and install them in the magic carpet. Once the batteries were replaced, we were off again to the RestRAUNK!!

3) Shug:

4) A belated birthday celebration with a great friend! Ashley+sushi= joy!!

5) Roasted Butternut Squash. Sometimes the most delicious food is the simplest. In case this heavenly side dish (I could easily make it an entire meal) is new to you, try this. Halve the squash length-wise and scrape out the seeds with a big spoon. With a vegetable peeler, peel the outer skin. Slice the squash into 1-inch half moons then into cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Absolute buttery perfection!

6) My chipped "domestically disabled" coffee cup with several refills of joe.

7) A mother without whose love and support, I would surely be in the nut house.

8) A darn good hubby who's commitment to me and this family is unwavering despite having a frazzled, anxiety driven and cranky wife. (Sorry for the squabbling this week, honey! TGIF)

9) Regis and Kelly. I know some people don't like her, but Kelly's perkiness is soothing to me.

10) A great friend I can call who knows exactly what I am going through and who is always supportive. Yes, Laura, Real Housewives re-runs are a great idea.

There are so many more great things, but everyone likes a top ten list!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's all fun and games until exhaustion sets in...

I haven't blogged in several days. I simply have had a major lack of creative juices due to being just plain worn out. The last several days have been filled with our entire household fighting the nasty cold bug that is going around, a horrible busted lip fiasco, a complete napping embargo and a lack of nightly sleep due to said cold bug. I have left the house maybe four times in the last 6 days and those were made up of two trips to the grocery store, church, and to teach my once a week singing class. Hey, I'm thankful for those four short outings because if it weren't for them, I would most certainly be even closer to the entrance of the loony bin than I am right now. As we speak, I have a very nap resistant 7 month old crying (more like screaming) in her crib and an insomniatic (not a word, I know) 3 year old who can't sleep due to a constant cough, bless her heart. I will go and comfort them, I promise, but right now I need a moment to clear my head!

I know that I should be thankful that these are the things that are weighing me down today and that there are many worse things that I could be facing. But the truth is that when we are cocooned and insulated in our own little world and our own little problems, these little things can seem quite heavy. I think about people with real problems and I wonder how they have the strength to face them. These are the times when I remember the truths that we have been promised by God. I hate to admit that I don't turn to God nearly as much during the good, happy-go-lucky times, but it is good to know that he is there when we are struggling to manage.

Here's the breakdown: I have issues with anxiety. When I get overly tired, that anxiety gets more and more unmanageable and then I get frustrated and angry. Then the anger turns inward and creeps steadily towards depression. It takes more than looking in the mirror and saying "you're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, people like you" to get me out of this funk. It takes divine strength. Here's what is helping me through today:

Philippians 4:6,7

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition. With THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus."

It is amazing what these words can do to an anxious heart. And...exhale. Ah, getting better already!

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm (NOT) Ready For My Close Up

Today was the most beautiful day!! Here it is mid February, 75 degrees and sunny. So me and a couple of my friends decided that it would be a perfect day to go to the park, have a picnic and then to the zoo. Glorious ambitions since each of us has two small children. We clearly weren't the only ones who thought this day was for the taking since everyone and their brother was at the park today. So we meet at the park, gather up our gaggle and head to a nice green patch to place the blanket. I start pulling out the food and this and that when Laura says to me, "Hey, the news is here." Sure enough not 20 feet away is a camera man setting up his equipment ready to capture that all important "fluff piece" (I think that's what people in the news biz call it) that features families out enjoying this glorious day.

So the camera man comes over and says, "Would any of you ladies mind letting me tape you for a minute". My response was nothing short of someone possessed by Satan, "Oooo. I would LOVE to!" What??? Who said that?

So I stood up and answered the two, maybe three questions he asked about this or that, something about the nice day, yada, yada, yada. The only thing going through my mind was, "Why the hell did I say I would do this. I have NO makeup on. My nose has those ugly red marks that sunglasses leave and my hair is in PIGTAILS." Now, I swear to you that I haven't worn pigtails since third grade and for some odd reason, today seemed like a pigtail kind of day. That little angel (or devil) on my shoulder who told me to wear pigtails in the first place was laughing his you-know-what off, I have no doubt. So there I was looking like Willie Nelson's less attractive first cousin rambling about "getting out with my girls" and how "I can't believe it's February."

So the camera man says thank you and moves on to someone more attractive I'm sure. My two friends who declined the offer to have their moment in the spotlight thought it was funny. They, by the way, looked fabulous. Hair completely coifed, cute outfits, makeup. Ugh.

So then we wrapped up the picnic and headed for the zoo. I felt much more at home amid reptiles and apes! Now I HAVE to check out the 10 o'clock news to see if I made the cut. I am praying that I did not and that if I did , no one will recognize me!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Great Read

I really do love to read. I don't read as much as I would like especially now with two kids. If I had known back before I had kids that I would rarely get the chance to read once I had them, I would have read everything I could get my hands on. Ok, that's a lie. I would have probably watched a lot of tv, eaten out a lot and drunk a lot of wine which is exactly what I actually did before I had kids. But still.

I recently read a book called Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses. I cannot tell you just how much I loved reading this book, but I will try. The author, Claire Dederer is so fantastically funny, witty, honest and smart. She writes from a very vulnerable place and opens up her life in a way that makes you love her. It is part yoga memoir and part mommy/wife memoir.

Basically, here's the jist...Claire throws out her back while lifting her very chauncy ( is that a word?)10 month old and everyone in her crunchy Seattle town tells her to try yoga, which she does. At this time in her life she is living by a set of rules, which we all do. It just so happens that this set of rules was founded on the very principal of being a liberal, non-conformist parent but has become more conformist, smug and downright snooty than any Bible belt suburban household out there.

The book is based on Claire's journey to reconcile her past with her present and to wiggle herself free of the grip of mandated co-opping, baby-wearing, dansko wearing, baby food making judgmental moms that she lives amongst. (Those things in and of themselves are wonderful things!! I love wearing my baby whilst wearing danskos). It also follows Claire as she is awakened to the benefits and challenges of yoga. Trust me, you will want to read the book while doing downward dog.

It was so funny to me all the parallels of this book and my life. I found out about it, for instance,while laying on the couch reading a review of the book in a magazine. Why was I laying on the couch? I had thrown out my back when trying to lift our giant 6th month old from her high chair. Hmmm. Then the author lives in Seattle (Hmmm) and moves to Boulder (Hmmm). The "Hmmms" are representing the parallels in my life and hers in case that wasn't clear.

So go, please read this book!!! You will laugh, you will cry, you may lactate, and you will be better for it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reality(???) TV and Me

I would very much to think of myself, and have you think of me, as one who is highbrow in her pursuits of culture. That entertainment should be informative as well as enjoyable. That this phenomenon called "reality television" is a vile thing and should be looked upon with contempt and disdain. In fact, I would like to think that my time is worth so much more than sitting glued to the television with my mouth agape shouting, "no she didn't" with no one to hear me except the pile of unfolded laundry.

But let's get REAL. Reality tv is about so much more than what is happening on the screen. It is about how anyone and everyone is equally vulnerable to its seduction. I don't care who you are, you give the Bravo network two minutes of your attention and you will be not only completely removed from your own reality, you will be absolutely hooked, I tell you. I dare anyone to dispute this. Ok not really, I don't like confrontation. (My husband would argue otherwise, however.)

Alright, now. Let's put it all out there on the table. My latest addiction is the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I can't get enough. I'm like a dog with a bone. We got rid of cable a couple years ago since we really didn't watch much tv other than the network stations anyway which we can get through an antenna. ( I'll save the my-husbsand-putting -his-foot-though -our-ceiling-installing-our-antenna-all-to save-money story for another time). And through this marvelous invention called Netflix and a Roku box we can watch virtually anything we want. Furthermore, Amazon On Demand offers entire seasons of shows which you can purchase either while the season is running and watch the episode the day after it airs, or like I did, after the season has ended which means you can watch the whole darn thing, one episode after another. How's that for a run-on sentence.

So, I had heard from my friend Laura, whom I trust in all matters especially those related to entertainment, that the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills was AMAZING. Well, what was I waiting for? So, I purchased the season and dove right in like a cat in a fish bowl. For an entire 5 days, which is all it took for me to watch 15 episodes, I was absolutely useless. All I could think about was what a flake Kim is and how I love Kyle's false eyelashes. And how I wonder if Lisa and I could be good friends and if Camile really talks that way all the time. These are serious ponderings, people!!

When the season was over, I had major withdrawals and started actually thinking about starting over and watching it all again, because why??? Get ready. I missed these people. How pathetic is that? But it's true. My addiction had been a very visceral and mesmerizing thing. And now that I've had a little distance (and time to recover) I'll just go back to watching Days of Our Lives as I have since I was six. Hmm, maybe I see a pattern here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tea for Three

Happy Valentine's Day! I wanted to do something extra special for my girls today since it is Valentine's Day. I had planned to have Melaina's best friend Brooke come over for a little tea party, but since I have caught the cold from hell, I decided it might be best to keep my fun little germs confined to this cozy house and this cozy little family. These cozy ones of mine are after all, the ones who gave me this plague to begin with, by the way. So, while Melaina was at preschool I went to the store and prepared a nice little tea party to surprise her when she got home.

Behold the menu: Heart-shaped peanut butter sandwiches, fruit salad, raspberry tea (no caffeine, of course (we have a nap to take, folks), and a petit four with a red heart made of frosting on top. The place setting was fit for a princess with table cloth, real china (not our usual paper plates) and my Tiffany and Co. demitasse cups and saucers which I bought several years ago at a rummage sale for thirty dollars and have never used. OK, so I probably enjoyed it way more than she did. Hey, who says I can't be a lady who lunches?

Enjoy the photo and Happy Valentine's Day! Notice the always camera-ready, Melaina...oh, and the perfectly placed Breast Friend nursing pillow in the background. Welcome to my life, y'all.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The eternal "Why?"

So now we have entered the world about which I have forever heard. The world where everything I say is answered with a question. That question is a simple one in it's form, but can be so incredibly difficult to answer. I am referring to, of course, the world of "why?".

Now, anytime I say anything, anything at all, it is followed by Melaina's "Why?". People with kids have always told me about this stage and they always imply that it is a really aggravating one. I find it, however, incredibly refreshing. I was telling this to my husband the other day and he just laughed, but truly, I love this new phase of the "why". Think about it. Instead of "But I want my juice" or "I don't want to go potty" or just plain "no", we now have an entered an entire new frontier, that of "WHY".

I finally get to have an existential albeit simple actual conversation. I have to actually think!! What, use my brain? I haven't done that in a while it seems, but answering why can be so limitless, so meandering. It is wonderful. My husband thinks my excitement has everything to do with my love for talking, and maybe that is somewhat true, but it's more than that. I am having actual conversations with real give and take, real possibilities with this human that I gave life to. Pretty cool. I've had many moments of wanting to ask "Why?", myself. Check her out. She's is one of a kind!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Look at those signs!!"

Yesterday was such a yucky, rainy, frigid, messy, disgusting, sit-on--the-couch-in-your-sweatpants kind of day. There is nothing more annoying and generally disturbing to my comfort level and mood as cold rain. (Living in Seattle several years ago just about did me in.) Clara was taking the most wonderfully cozy nap and I hated having to wake her up to go pick up her sister in the horrible cold, but what was I going to do. Waking up a sleeping baby makes me so incredibly fraught with guilt and anxiety, so I kept looking at the clock waiting until the last possible second before we had to leave.

I have told Melaina that we can eat lunch from a restaurant once a week. I emphasize the word"from" because I am not brave enough to actually attempt lunch in a restaurant with a very tired 3 year old who has been at preschool all morning and a 7 month old who, anyone can tell you, likes to cry. Perhaps I'm a wimp but that's how I roll.

Anyway, when I went to pick up Melaina from preschool, I needed to run some errands that included picking up some prizes for her to choose from for having a clean room all week. So I had the clever idea of going to a Sonic since it was on the way to my mom's house and Melaina could eat there while I ran my errands. So we pulled into the Sonic drive-through.
Melaina shouts, "What is THAT??"
"It's a different restaurant" I answered, since Zaxby's is our usual lunch spot.

She processed this so-called new place and asked, "Do they have grilled cheese in there?"

"Yes, I think they do." I sure hoped they did. That kid loves a grilled cheese. "And tater tots", I added after I had placed the order. "You will have a grilled cheese, apple juice and tater tots for lunch!"

We sit in the drive-through line and I wipe off the freezing cold rain that had fallen on my nose while ordering. Ugh.
Melaina replied in the most romantic, pie in the sky voice you ever heard,
"OOOOhhhhh. That will be WONDERFUL!"

And then as though she was discovering the 8th wonder of the world, she added breathlessly, "Mommy look at those signs!!!! They have oranges on them. They are beautiful!"

I guess I have never looked at Sonic signage as quite so spectacular, but to this child it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. And in that moment , I thought of how I had looked at the day as a yucky, rainy disaster and that seeing it though her eyes was much much more fun!


Note: The "oranges" were actually limes, but potato potahto.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Watch out world, here I blog!

OK, so I am not at all savvy when it comes to technology. The fact that I haven't revisited my blog in two years simply because I didn't know how to find it is evidence enough. But, now that I have found it again (hello, there, blog), I'm going to try again with this whole blog thing.

Warning: this will not be a blog that posts Rockwell-like snapshots of idyllic family life, well, not all the time. It will more than likely be a bit more stream of consciousness with lots of random postings on books, cooking, ponderings, politics (just kidding), and of course, my sweet husband and kiddos...that is if I can remember how to get back to the actual blog.

It's a new year and one of my goals is to find comfort in the mess of life. Sounds so easy, but for me it is a daily battle, this trying to be content with what is rather than what I think it should be. I'm trying to live in the present and be joyful in the moment. (Sounds very profound of me doesn't it?) Chaos is sort of a constant for me, at least in my anxious little brain, so I am trying to be a little more "go with the flow"-ish. For anyone that knows me, please stop laughing at the thought of me trying to go with the flow and just look at the picture. The posting of this photo is, in and of itself, an act of letting go of the rules of what a family of four SHOULD look like. Enjoy at my expense...

Now this is how my family takes a photo.

1. Screaming baby Clara thrusting herself from my clutch - check!
2. My ruggedly handsome ( albeit a little scruffy) husband, Tom barely making it back to the family after setting the timer on the camera - check!
3. My beautiful 3 year old, Melaina trying to run away while my husband firmly holds her in place- check! (hey, at least she's smiling. Or maybe screaming, I can't tell.)
4. Yours truly with a blank canvas, no make-up, "just keep swimming" grin plastered on my face -check!

OK! There you have it - the first blog entry in two years. Yay me!! This is going to be fun. Don't worry, I'll understand if you never visit this site again. I'll be shocked if I can manage to myself!