Category Archives: Present

Good, Good, Good

Friends = good.

Food = good.

Sun = good.

It was a good weekend.

Saturday we loaded up to go to Costco to get an order of contacts.  This was attempt #2, with attempt #1 being two previous Fridays when we tried to hit the Joe’s “Liquidation” sale which turned out to be liquidating their parking space availability as well as unclogged walking isles, but we found that out later because our first Joe’s attempt was too early – not open yet.  We went to go to Costco, but it wasn’t open either, so we got Costco gasoline and stopped off at PetSmart first because JJ had been promised a new fish, you know, in December.  In typical American fashion we walked out with six (I believe) new fish and a snail that’s favorite game is “trick the girl owner into thinking I’m dead so that she has a mini-attack most times looking at the tank, but FAKE OUT”.  Then we went to Costco.  Except Costco opens at 11:00 during the week, not 9:30 like the weekends:  FAKE OUT.  So, back to Joe’s for the last FAKE OUT experience of the day (those prices:  20 percent off is liquidation?!!  Dude, that word can *only* be associated with at least 70 percent or better – don’t you read all the frugal sale blogs?!!).

So we went to Costco this Saturday and boo-yah:  open.  Contacts:  purchased.  Other things we “neeeeeeded”:  purchased.  I mentioned to the Hubby:  it’s going to be nice – go buy something fun to grill.  He wanted salmon, but mentioned how it’s just not the same without the cedar plank treatment that we always do at my folks.  Round the corner:  boo-yah – planks.  With little salmons etched onto them.  Calling Hubby’s name:  use us!  Use us!  Then we grazed for samples (good day for adults – all natural turkey, garlic chicken meal, hawaiian chicken bowl, smoothies, two nut stations, and acai drinks; not so great for kids – dehydrated blueberries and mangoes).  AND we ran into some friends making their necessary purchases of Fair Trade Organic Sugar and non-Fair Trade non-organic Cheerios:  excellent combo.

We left.  We came home.  We unloaded.  We ate lunch.  Hubby moved into yard maintenance, and I moved into, “Hmm:  I wonder if I can lure our friends over for dinner by constantly Facebooking them.”  It worked.  And the food was GOOD, and so easy:  I seriously don’t know why I don’t do meals, with friends, more often.  Minus the incessant reports of all the ways my children were hosting/hazing the other kids.  The one thing I forgot to pick up at Costco:  the Fair Trade Organic nanny.

On Sunday we were chatting with friends during community time while the boys were getting their pack animal mentality on (first exclamation when one saw the other, “JJ, let’s RUN!”  And they did.  Oh, how they ran), and we decided that going to service just wasn’t in the cards once Abe had a permantent indent in his hand from getting a heavy door slammed on it.  So we went for Extended Community Time at a friends house because, really, did we want to have to entertain our children by ourselves, or rather to encourage/lock them outside to play together while we sat and talked?  The answer is obvious.  Again:  most excellent food – an assortment of baked goods from various grocery stores in our area.  They had bakery chocolate chip cookies that made me miss Buttrey’s/Alberton’s bakeries in Boise when I would get a free chocolate chip cookie to munch on while Mama shopped.  Which my boys don’t get, and won’t get, until they’re old and determined enough to read/slog through my blog and get to this blog post.

Sunday I took advantage of naptime to throw on the walking shoes and hit the hills.  There’s a little red on my shoulders, but there’s sunshine blazing on my inside.  Such an odd sensation, plugging in the headphones, having flashbacks of my daily walks in Boise, feeling like I could breathe for the first time in I don’t know how long.  Breathing:  that’s another thing I should add to the good list.  I so often forget.

This week we’re eating from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home:  Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day.

Monday:  Mighty Zucchini Muffins w/cream cheese, bananas; Mockamole, nachos, ants on a log; Simple Quesadillas, Caribbean Black Beans

Tuesday:  Fruit-filled French Toast, yogurt; Italian-style Tofu Pizza, apples w/pb, crackers; Broiled Tofu burgers, seasons fries, peaches

Wednesday:  Cottage Cheese Apple Pancakes w/peanut butter, cheese; Greek Pita, hummus, chips, apples, veggies; Golden Cheddar Cheese soup, Pesto Palmiers, Salad, tangerines

Thursday:  Leftovers; PBJ, crackers, raisins; Leftovers

Friday:  Blueberry Multigrain Muffins w/cream cheese, peaches; Greek Spinach Frittata, cinnamon raisin toast; Sweet Potato Quesadillas, North African Cauliflower soup, chips, salsa

Saturday:  Yogurt Cheese Pie, cinnamon toast; Tofu Burritos, pb crackers, fruit leather; Feta Spinach Pizza, breadsticks, marinara, peaches

Sunday:  Leftovers; Leftovers; waffles

Never Fear: We’re Still Eating

I went away on a retreat with a bunch of lovely ladies a few weeks ago.  One morning we were talking about food (as women often do) and families (as women often do) and being too busy (as women *never* do :D), and the topic of menu planning came up.  “Oh, y’all should check out my website!  I post weekly meal plans *every* *week*.”  Yeah, that was a couple of weeks ago, and I put up nothing:  classy.

But that doesn’t mean we weren’t eating.  We’ve been eating … and eating … and eating.  The week after the retreat, I went to my folks’ for a “retreat with two small boys, one of whom decided he would prefer to be attached to mama at all time as well as weep and wail and gnash those darling little molars while falling asleep or at 2am or both” – not necessarily so restful, but rejuvinating in that I didn’t have to cook or clean for seven blissful days.  And I could watch a number of NCIS marathons (a show that has been endeared to me since finding out that the writer/producers also created Magnum, P.I., one of the sacred Trinity of TV Childhood Favs).

While at the Mama & Pappy’s, I could also indulge in a guilty pleasure:  reading books about health/frugality/green/sustainable living.  Why is that guilty?  Because everytime I read these books (or watch Oprah), I freak out about all the bad things that could infiltrate my family’s health and purge the nasties.  Organic grapes and strawberries:  a must.  Homemade laundry detergent:  on top of my laundry machine.  Flax seeds and antioxidents:  regular part of my diet.  Buying disposable diapers:  a shame and guilt-laden experience.  Using paper towels and paper napkins:  rare, but also guilt-laden.  Unplugging any appliance that hasn’t been used:  compulsive and sometimes theraputic.  Bad plastics:  being weeded out.  Becoming a member of a CSA:  first pickup’s in a few weeks.  Positive, happy, healthy thinking:  work in progress, kinda shoved down the list …

I’ve been banned from watching Oprah pretty much because Hubby comes home and I say, “So Oprah says …” and then life changes, or I live in the anxiety that I don’t know what or how to change so that BPA doesn’t infiltrate our drinking water and thereby corroding our systems so that we grow third arms.  It’s totally irrational and illogical:  I’ve swam in the Willamette.  Repeatedly.  I am DOOMED.

My idealist kicks in, and I can’t get it Right, and then I my mind shuts down as I start projecting out, thinking about planting a garden and harvesting everything and spending time ordering ginormous bags of locally organically grown grain to store in Safe plastic containers and grind by hand into my own bread and use organic butter that I get after a day’s walk to and from McMinnville because using my car would cause too big of a carbon foot print, and then I find myself with only enough energy to say, “Could I get some ketchup with that, too?” as I lean out the car window to pick up my hard-worked-for dinner offerings from the House of Dave Thomas.

So I read these books at my parents’ house.  Because their tanks to deal with The Crazy are much fuller (and more experienced) than my poor lives-with-the-daily Hubby.  And they find some of it interesting (hmm: wonder where I get it?).  And they have years and years of knowing how to temper me:  “Why don’t you take baby steps? … You know, instead of planting a garden, investing money in knowing *where* your food comes from is a great first step …  There will always be other years ….  I’ve found an herb garden is pretty easy to grow”, aka. oooh, here’s a direction to move in, oh all-or-nothing one.  They know not to make “You’re wrong” statements or “That won’t work” because look at the head-strong one go charging in that direction.  Plus, they’re just as all-or-nothing as me, oh move-to-the-farmland-Idaho-suburbs-to-by-acreage-and-grow-a-huge-garden-and-raise-animals-because-our-experience-of-living-in-the-urban-South-and-Germany-and-Tacoma-prepared-us-for-situations-such-as-these parents.  I’m just sayin’ …

This last time I read The China Study.  I let Hubby know I was taking it.  “This is the book that my friends read, and they stopped eating meat.  I’m just warning you.”  I read it; I enjoyed it; I believe the author – he’s not a whack job.  I haven’t gone bonkers yet.  I must admit, The Crazy One looks at animal products and thinks, “These promote cancer:  DOOM!”  But The Tempered One says, “Baby steps to four o’clock.  Baby steps to four o’clock”.  So we had Vegan Week in which I cooked vegan dinners.  I thought they were yummy, particularly since two meals required peanut sauce (mmmm).  And to celebrate the end of vegan week?  Grilled cream-cheese-stuffed turkey burgers.  Success.

Honestly I am feeling convicted to be more aware of animal products in my family’s diet, but not crazy.  I need to use things up in my freezer.  And I need to honor my family’s requests for favorites.  Mantra – these are choices to make out of love, not fear, to move us into life, not prison.

This week I used meals from The Sneaky Chef:  How to Cheat on Your Man (in the Kitchen):  a baby step in working veggies and other good stuff into the boys’ food.  I didn’t “hide” things:  I shared what was part of the meal.  And I bonded with my handheld blender:  we needed some quality time together.  Soon it will be quality smoothie weather …. sooooon ….

Monday:  Cheese eggs, cinnamon toast, banana (had to get out the door for MOPS); grilled cheese & turkey, grapes, crackers; Burgerville (Hubby’s half birthday:  woo hoo!  Burgerville’s also very locally/sustainably minded as well, and just plain tasty:  bonus).

Tuesday:  Power Breakfast Cookies (which led to some little peoples’ power poops – oy), sausage, strawberries; Chicken Waldorf wrap, veggies, apples; Italian Herb Chicken, Mighty Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, applesauce, bread, salad (comment:  “Wow!  You really went all out!”  Tried not to extrapolate into “and finally cooked a real meal/meal like my family cooked” – see, holding in The Crazy).

Wednesday:  Blockbuster Blueberry Muffins, cheese; Burly Burritos, veggies, crackers, raisins; Real Man Meatballs w/spaghetti, apples w/pb, salad, bread

Thursday:  Leftovers; Leftovers; Leftovers (seriously needed.  LOOOONG days cooking beforehand)

Friday:  Chocolate-Charged French Toast, cheese, banana; Leftovers (had a meeting that ran long); probably fend for yourself (because I had planned for Turkey Burgers, but tomorrow’s supposed to be quality grilling weather)

Saturday:  French Toast Bites, banana; English Muffin Pizzas, veggies with laughing cow cheese, peaches; Now You’re Talking Turkey Burgers, Real Freedom Fries, applesauce

Sunday:  Leftovers; Leftovers; Top Banana waffles, turkey bacon

In typical tradition, what one child hates, the other loves, and visa versa.

And what one child leaves, the other wears.  Marinara:  the latest facial treatment.

What, no kiss, Pappy?

At least he gets lovin’ in the belly.

I Dunno: Whachoo Wanna Do?

Tonight is our last night in the Valley of Roses.  We’ve been visiting my folks for the past week, and as all good locusts do, we’re leaving the place fairly barren or with everything in a “new and better” place.  Like the exercise rubberband now underneath my bed or the basket of fake flowers moved to the center of the bottom of the stairs, because that’s where toddlers, a.k.a.  home stagers, feel these objects would best reflect the values of the house.

Each morning after leisurely getting up, watching a little Curious George, eating breakfast, and having other people dress my children, my mama asks the same question, “What do you want to do today?”  Um, I’m not doing it already?  See, I rarely get the chance to sit.  To knit.  To play the DS.  To watch ICA Battle:  Suckling Pig (now that’s educational television for the kiddos).

Not to dress children.

Not to have to Power Grocery Shop.

Not to have to leave the house because my two arms and introverted, melancholy personality can’t meet all the needs of my extroverted, sanguine children.

Today Mama was very excited when I said that the Hubby and I were going out.  “Really?!!  You’re going out?  Stay out as long as you like!”  Since this is her house, I think she’s got a bit of the cabin fever, cause she gets to sit when she wants to:  the novelty’s worn off.

So what did the Hubby and I do?  Go to Cash and Carry to get DaVinci syrups for 3.88.  Get the cheapest gas in town at Freddies, using our gas mileage points we never get to use.  Peruse the end of Target’s rows for Clearance (got a double-set of pjs for JJ for 6.50, two shirts for Hubby for 9.00, a red dress for me for 9.50, for all those places I go to that require wearing a red dress, like Power Grocery Shopping).  Wander around Safeway looking for yummy sweet bread to go with our Breakfast for Dinner dinner (a standard around my home – mmm, Granddaddy’s cheese eggs).

Tonight we’ve watched Little A run around in nothing but a diaper, practicing his slide-to-home on the floor (oh, the sound).  JJ has played Lego Innianna Jones until his eyeballs are starting to look a little like blocks.  Now that the tykes have been bathed and deposited in their slumbering abodes, we’ll retire upstairs with some Paul Newman Organic Popcorn, put in Prince Caspian, and I’ll try not to fall asleep by knitting or playing the DS (must.always.multitask.).

Exciting, no.  But it’s what I want to do:  be with my family.  That’s all good.

New Year Might Require New Ear Plugs (or Hearing Aids, Depending on the Situation)

Last night my husband and I knew the New Year had arrived when we heard the first firecracker.  We understood that the excitement grew as more noisemakers were used.  Then Hubby started differentiating between the noise of  shotguns versus the noise of handguns.  Once the giant “BOOM” of either dynamite or a semi-automatic was heard, we began to wonder if perhaps the End Times had arrived.

See, we’re up at my folks’ house, and in the Valley of Roses, people ring in the New Year by shooting off large amounts of firearms.  Which is a brand new experience for me.  Usually the largest noise I hear is the pop of a champagne bottle on TV or the closing of a door as folks say, “Okay.  We made it.  Happy New Year.  And good night.”  It seems ironic to ring in the start of something new with something that could keep you from experiencing it due to the fact that you might be DEAD.  But maybe it’s just me.

How does my family plan on celebrating the arrival of 2009 years of the world spinning post-Christ’s estimated entrance onto this orb?  By eating.  I’m sure that’s what Christ was doing, and Mary, too.  I can still remember the taste of that first bit of food post-JJ’s birth (a turkey sandwich – the best the hospital could come up with since he was born on a Sunday evening, and hospital kitchens are run like Mama’s kitchens:  Sunday night’s – you’re on your own.  But it was SO good).  And JJ nursed for 45 minutes straight.  So, a day full of grazing seems to be in order.

We’re also going to play.  Play with the kids’ toys  (Team GeoTrax, All Aboard!), play with the adult toys (goo balls, anyone?), play board games, play “sitting on the couch watching others throw a ball back and forth which constitutes as being productive, right?”.

One of my friends from high school used to have a theme word for her year.  It was a idea, concept, means of living that she either felt called towards or convicted of or was interested in exploring.  I’ve pondered doing that, but often find the word hanging out in that junk drawer/closet/room/garage with my New Year’s Resolutions and jeans I could wear pre-birthing days (sigh).   But this year I thought if I publically announced it that I might be more prone to actually following through with it, either because it takes multiple experiences to remember/learn (like learning a concept through hearing and writing vs. just writing) or because I’m tricking myself into having to follow through by public exposure (like verbal streaking:  flash!).

Many words have crossed my mind:  “mystery”, “intentional”, “gracious”, “sane”, “goo balls” . . . But the one that stuck this morning is “present”.  I wish to be present in my life, in my day-to-day moments.  Much of my time I spend reflecting back, either regretting or thinking how great things were, or thinking forward, trying to anticipate any and every possible outcome and how to respond.  But in all of those situations I’m not present in this very moment.

Jason and I have been watching the series Life on Hulu.  It’s fairly enjoyable:  quirky characters, not gory, keeps my interest for the 48+ minutes (which is hard to do these days:  I didn’t make it through Iron Man last night, but that also could have to do with my impressionable mind not being able to get past the Afghanistan scenes and how they were a little too real . . . ).  The main character is a cop who was wrongfully accused of a multiple-murder and spent 12 years in jail before the case was reopened and he was found innocent, so now he’s been paid a bajillion dollars in a settlement and has been moved up to being a detective.  While he was in jail, he read about Zen which is what got him through.  One episode he kept talking about being present in this very moment:

Charlie Crews: Every moment you spend wishing you were someplace else is a moment you can’t get back.

Dani Reese: What about every moment I spend wishing you were someplace else.

Charlie Crews: If would hurt my feelings if I thought you meant it.

This year I think I will try to be Present.  I’m sure I’ll be Past and Future as well, but maybe, just maybe, I can learn the trick to Just Be.  Like right now:  I’m going to be Present opening my annual cheeseball:  and it will be good.