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Archive for the ‘the ones about my folly’ Category

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On Saturday, we had to be at HungryMan’s softball tournament at 8:00 am.

8:00 am. On Saturday morning. At a field that is forty minutes away.

Needless to say, the two of us were a little groggy and grouchy when we arrived at the park. And since we were veering on the later side of 8:00 am, we progressed from the car to the field in a sort of frantic frenzy.

Three hours later, my friend, Nica and I determined that the breakfast snacks we had consumed on our way out of our respective doors didn’t really qualify as breakfast. And since our husband’s team was set on dragging out the morning by winning games, we decided to leave in search of food.

As we were walking with our daughters towards my car, I spotted HungryMan’s water bottle on the roof of the car.

“Look at that! Nate was in such a hurry he left his water bottle on top of the car. Oh, that’s hilarious!”

Two steps later, I saw something so ridiculous that it set off my finger-pointing reflex with such force that I sent my cell phone sailing through the parking lot. While my phone lay decimated on the pavement, my mouth hung wide open at our gaping passenger door.

That’s right, I failed to shut the car door when we arrived at the park. For three hours, our car sat in the “ready-for-entry” position. We might as well held up a sign, “Free Ice Cold Drink While You Steal Our Possessions!”

Thankfully everything was still in our car, including my purse.

And here’s what you get when you laugh at your husband’s folly as though he’s the one that is so absent minded.

Pride. It comes before the fall. Or in this case, before the long hard crash on the concrete.

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Hello friends! Ah, I’ve missed you and this crazy thing called the internet. I can’t believe it’s nearly the middle of June already. Time flies when you aren’t documenting it.

When I last left you, Ava was near comatose in her booster seat. Had I known that posting that picture would have resulted in my assuming the same status for nearly two weeks, I would have strongly reconsidered it. I (and Ava) have come out of the fog, but that is another post.

There is a question that I must address first. Party or no party–it’s quite a cliffhanger.

Given my flair for the melodramatic and penchant for suspenseful posts, I clearly should pursue writing soap operas. Though I think at my recent rate of output most viewers would have switched stations by now.

For all of you who are still tuning in let me introduce you to what I call one-child-math: one child plus drop-off birthday party equals free time. And in this instance, free date time. Nate and I were dropping Ava off and going to have a party of our own.

So you can be sure that we unbuckled the child, carried her and the present inside and set them down in the gift pile. We would have left them there and tip-toed out the back, but one whiff of gummy worm laden cupcakes and Ava bounced up like the bright red balloons lining the ceiling.

When we returned two hours later, we literally had to tie a string to her and pull her back out to the car.

I do not have the same helium like reflexes and should have known that this was one party too many. It is best to stop when you are ahead. And by ahead, I’m referring to dropping a sleep-walking child off at a party.

So on Thursday when I realized at four o’clock that Ava was supposed be dropped off at a five o’clock for a birthday party that I had COMPLETELY forgotten about, I should have cut the losses and called to cancel.

Nate had planned a date night for us that Thursday and had even arranged for some friends to watch Ava. So, at four o’clock I remembered that Ava has this party and then the whole one-child-math sequence kicked in. I called Nate and he agreed to be home in half an hour and then I called our friends and freed up their evening.

Now I needed a present. A present for a boy. I handed Ava some paper, stickers, and markers and instructed her to make a card, while I ran downstairs to survey my paltry stash of possible presents. My mom has always had a large stash of potential presents for all occasions. Whenever she is shopping she picks up this and that to be given to unknown recipient for an unforseen event. I do not have that gift, and therefore do not have that stash.

I have a shelf in my basement with a few random things that I’ve found on clearance. Most of them are designated for Ava or destined for donation. These are not things that I give to other people for presents. But, I was desperate.

I immediately spied this cranium game that I bought when Ava was too young to play it. I quickly scratched up the clearance price tags, threw it in a gift bag, stuffed some tissue it in, and ran back up stairs.

Upstairs, Ava had finished her birthday card creation and even had time to wrap up her own contribution to the gift: carrot sticks. That’s right, carrot sticks. We are generous family.

I was feeling down right proud of myself twenty minutes later when I dropped her and the gift off at the party on time. Nate and I were nearly giddy as we zipped away to our date of steak and sweet wine.

Two hours later, we returned high on love and sweet chocolate ganache. Hand-in-hand we walk in to find our daughter in half the outfit we dropped her off in.

“She had a bit of an accident,” the mom said handing me a bag of wet clothes. “We were opening the gifts when Ava walked in, held out her underwear and said, ‘They’re wet.'”

Clearly decorum and modesty are values that we are instilling in our precious girl.

We walked out to the backyard to retrieve our delicate flower from the swings and make our way back through the house to the car. Midway through our retreat we passed the mountain of gifts. On the very top of the pile I spied our present with a BRIGHT PINK TAG that said $4.00.

FOUR.

FOUR DOLLARS.

FOUR.

First, I was shocked that the present had only been four dollars and second, um, I was quite sure that I had scratched off all the clearance tags.

Mortified, I quickly bent over to scratch off the offensive tag. And then I heard it. The phrase that has still sends shivers through my skin:

“Oh, don’t worry. I already saw it.”

Mmm-hmm, that was the mom. She saw it. And worse, she saw me trying to scrape away my shame. Let me just state this again, I wrapped up a four dollar clearance gift and gave it to a child for his birthday.

I might have well wrapped up four tarnished pennies or six wilted carrot sticks.

She tried to say something about how the birthday boy had always wanted this game and actually goes to the neighbors house to borrow it, but I was too busy trying to burn a hole through the floor to even hear what concessions she was trying make for me.

“We’re the cheapo’s,” Nate muttered to me as we ducked out of the house.

Instantly, Ava starting singing, “WE’RE THE CHEAPO’S! WE’RE THE CHEAPO’S” at the top of her lungs as she skipped her mismatched self all the way to the car. It’s a moment I will cherish forever.

That’s the kind of excitement that you’ve been missing folks.

It’s enough to make a person dig a hole and bury themselves for three weeks, but not quite. More on the unexplained absence tomorrow. We’re off to the beach. ‘Cause, that’s right, it’s summer now.

As for you, what’s your worst party blooper? Do tell.

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Today when I saw the short hand nearing the fifth digit, I thought I might be nice to transition from bathroom scrubber and laundress to pretty wife before Hungryman made his appearance.

I traded my hooded sweater for a sleeveless top with ruffles and my tennis shoes for open toed heels. I stepped in front of the vanity in hopes of masking the fact that I’d been cleaning all day. My shell earrings jangled as I returned to the kitchen to peel potatoes.

Ava skipped in and took a long sniff in my direction.

“Oh Mama, did you take a shower? I like when you take a shower.”

From the inflexion in her voice you would concluded that this was a monumental occasion.

“No honey, I didn’t”

Another long sniff.

“But you smell good!”

Evidently, Nate’s not the only one who benefits from a little personal grooming.

Speaking of showering, I’ve been asked to work on another educational video.
This one is on personal hygiene. Clearly, I’m the right person for that job.

That was to be the end of my story. Thirty minutes later, however, HungryMan stepped into our home clutching an equally fragrant bouquet of tulips. We were both delighted with our surprises. And I was reminded that a sweet-smelling, pretty wife at the end of the day is as lovely to my husband as a handful of brightly colored blooms is to me.

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(just so you know).

Last night after directing Ava to the underside of her covers, I snuck out the backdoor and drove out of our alley. I headed downtown towards the soothing sauna and whirlpool at Shanel’s condo.

There was no parking left in the garage, so I had to park on the street. I dug about in my purse for a few quarters to feed the greedy meter and headed up to her building.  I walked through the lobby, rode up the elevator, and walked down her hall before I realized that I had left my swimsuit in the car.

I swung open her door, announced my ridiculousness, threw down my purse, snatched up her building keys and headed back out.

I walked down her hall, rode down the elevator, walked through the lobby, and back out to my car. I stood under the glow of the street lamp in the dark night looking down at my hands. They had the keys to her building, but not the keys to my car. My car keys were up in her condo.

I switched my flip-flops to the other direction and clacked them back to her building, through the lobby, up the elevator, and down her hallway.

Another trip in and out of her condo. Another trip down her hall. Another trip down the elevator and through the lobby. And finally another trip down the sidewalk to my car. Clearly, I believe that you must be thoroughly stressed out and exhausted before partaking in the relaxing elements of a sauna.

This time, my car made it’s cheery “woo-hoo” sound at my approach, releasing it’s lock on my trunk and therefore my swimsuit.

How many trips does it take Rachel to get her swimsuit from her car to the hot tub?

Three.

Really, I take efficiency to a whole new level.

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look friends, no pile

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Hurray, the pile has met the same fate as the snow.

Oh, just look at that all that clean open space.

And I promise there was absolutely no stashing involved. The books are returned. The mail is sent. The packages are ready. The artwork is sorted. The necessary has been filed. The unnecessary has been recycled.

And I even managed to shut the cupboards before snapping a picture.

Who knew white space could be so refreshing?

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When I first started this post (before WordPress lost several of my drafts) I intended it to be a funny story about Ava and how she is learning about life through books. Now it’s a not-so-funny story about how I’m learning through Ava and her books about life.

Take a quick gander over at the side bar at the recently published posts. There are literally three times that number of posts in the draft section of my blog and would be more if WordPress hadn’t decided to shave off a few. And that’s just blog writing projects. I have creative writing projects, crafty projects, house remodeling projects, organizational projects, cleaning projects, correspondence– I’m up to my ears in projects. And frankly I’m not making a whole lot of progress. I am, however, continually coming up with new ideas for new projects as if this is helpful. When the balance of the ideas starts to tip strongly to the uncompleted side, my mood starts to slide in the downward direction.

And this heap, well it’s about to send me into the depths of despair.

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(Please note the open drawers and cupboard–one of my many endearing qualities, just ask Nate.)

Actually, I hid the pile in a Steve Madden shopping bag two weeks ago. Someone must have added a couple packets of yeast, because it doubled in size and is now taking up an entire place setting at my dining room table. Talk about an unwelcome guest.

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Oh it’s hideous. A couple of weeks ago, my friend Christa asked other moms to share pictures of their messes in attempt to dispel the myths of perfectionism. There it is, Christa. Not that this is shocking as this blog is open source chronicle of my imperfections.

Somewhere in this heap is the medical bill and the lawn service bill that Nate asked me to mail ten days ago. There are stickers in there for the daily job chart I was going to make Ava months ago. There is also a library book I needed to return yesterday as well as the embroidery floss needed to complete the baby gift I still haven’t mailed. If you look closely you will see an ad that expired on Valentine’s Day. I probably don’t need to state that we are passed the midway mark in March. And taking up the bulk of the mess are heaps and heaps of Ava’s art projects.

People, I have never thought of myself as a saver, yet I have so much trouble throwing away Ava’s art. It’s ridiculous, but that’s another post.

Suffice it to say, this pile is driving me to write about it, not actually fix it, but write about it.

So let’s see if we (or just I) can learn from Ava and her recent life lesson.

A few weeks ago, I was in the kitchen slicing apples when I heard a little voice in Ava’s room say, “I’m down in the dumps. I’m down in the dumps….I’m down in the dumps!”

I walked toward her room and found her standing the midst of tutus, undershirts, plastic ponies, glitter wands, pink bottles, lacing cards, and pocket-sized princesses. “Blah! I’m down in the dumps.”

“You’re down in the dumps?”

“Yep, like Toad,” she said picking her Frog and Toad book out of heap.

She explained the state of her room (as though it wasn’t obvious) and how it was just like Toad’s room. We talked about how upsetting it was to have a messy room and that it wasn’t fun to play or sleep in a mess. We reviewed the story together, how Toad didn’t want to clean his room, but he couldn’t enjoy himself knowing that he would have to clean it later.

“Maybe if I put away all my jammies,” she said echoing Toad’s line, “I won’t have to do it later, will I?”

“No, you won’t.”

She starting sorting the matching tops and bottoms out of the heap and stuck them in their drawer.

“And if I pick up all my books, I won’t have to it later, right?”

“Right,” I said, as I helped her put her books on her shelf.

“If I pick up all my barrettes and tails now, then I wouldn’t have to later, will I?”

“No, you won’t.”

And with the hope of clean room set out before her, Ava cheerfully put away all the things in her room with increasing expectation and excitement. As though she was sent forth as a continual object lesson, she demonstrated how to tackle a project one piece at a time. In what seemed like merely moments, Ava was twirling around a delightfully organized room.

“Now, tomorrow I can take life easy,” Ava said throwing her arms up and landing on her bean bag.

I should hope so, you are only three.

As for me, well I still have the pile. Let’s see if I can put this lesson to practice.

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Last night, Ava and I shredded, sliced, and stirred our way through another soup for you.

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Hoping to appeal to the non-soup eaters, we had made soup for the steak-knife. A hearty barley-beef soup with plenty of vegetables.

After putting the Sous Chef to bed, I pulled out my laptop and filled the screen with pictures and pointers. I was nearly finished with my post, when HungryMan came home from an over-extended day at the office. Having worked right through dinner, he was unimaginably hungry.

I pulled the stock pot out of the refrigerator and fired up the stove, quite eager to serve him a bowl of steaming steak and barley.

“Oh, you don’t have to make that right now. I’ll just eat this,” he said, holding up a take-out bag from P.F. Chang’s.

After devouring the one, not quite filling lettuce wrap, he began rummaging through the fridge. He found the three-bite portion of wild rice soup and placed it in the microwave while I returned to my laptop.

And then, when I wasn’t looking he ate Ava’s left-over mac’ and cheese. Mac’ and cheese, people. Nate doesn’t ever eat mac’ and cheese.

It was then that I knew the wet steak was a failure. It couldn’t even entice a man near-faint with hunger.

But could I really scrap an entire post, especially about a soup which had already created a double portion of drama?

You see while I love to cook, I am not keen on touching meat. I generally slice open the package and flip it in the pan without actually coming in physical contact with the meat. Today, while performing my well-practiced maneuver, the blotter, you know the the plastic sheet under the meat somersaulted over the steak, landed in the hot oil and immediately seared itself to the bottom of the pan. Frantic, I attempted to scrape it off with a spatula, but the blasted blotter shriveled and shredded into a multitude of plastic specks. Specks that were now seasoning my precious steak.

I pulled out a paper towel started trying to wipe the plastic off the steak while it was browning in the pan–brilliant, I know. Also a great example for the three-year-old watching my every move.

“Ava, look it’s completely safe to stick your bare hands into searing hot stock pot that is causing oil to sizzle and pop all up your arms.”

“Don’t do this at home,” doesn’t quite have the same meaning when you are doing it at home.

Miraculously, my hands exited the pot unscathed, but I can’t say the same for the steak. It is bespeckled in editable shiny white.

At that moment, I had a strong urge to turn off the stove and wash each individual piece of steak. And at that same moment, I knew that this was obsessive and wrong.

In the meantime, the self-starter that is my daughter had taken the carrots that she prepped for me to slice and pulverized them in the “grinder,” along with the celery that was set out for slices, not shredded bits.

The perfectionist in me wanted out. Or at least a fresh start. “This is ridiculous. I’m not scrapping a soup over a dash of plastic. I can will roll it. I can roll with it.”

So I persevered and added in the beef broth and now very chopped onion, carrots and celery. The plastic seasoning instantly rose to the top of the broth like an unsinkable salt. All I could think about as I stirred the plastic around the bits of onion and celery was how this wholesome soup was going to poison my family. And then I kept hearing my mother-in-law saying, “It’s fine. Rachel, it’s fine”–her typical common sense reaction to my neurosis.

Ridiculous as it was, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to eat it. I knew in an hour we would all be sitting around the dining room table and as soon as Ava lifted the spoon to her lips would scream, “don’t do it!” And it would be Anne Shirley, Miss Stacy and the poor drowned mouse all over again.

So I pulled out my slotted spoon and removed every last piece of steak. I carried my reproachable concoction to the sink and individually scrubbed away the plastic (and flavor) of each and every piece of cubed steak.

It’s true.

By this point, Ava was anxious for another job. So I handed her an onion and we started over.

So I hardly need to tell you that this was a hard-earned soup post, and I didn’t want it to meet the fate of the doomed plastic bits. But Nate didn’t even know that I had rinsed out all the flavor and he wasn’t eating the soup, so how could I possibly recommend it to you?

So I consulted a bag of Brussels. Somewhere between bites two and three, I realized that the soup was forgettable. Even apart of from the cooking fiasco of 2008, this soup had nothing unique and compelling to commend it.

I went to bed tossing and turning over what I could possibly share with the splendid, soup-loving readers whom I had promised a week’s worth of soups too. Okay maybe I tossed once.

And while I won’t admit that I had actually had soup nightmares, I will share what awoke me with the solution: the soup I turn to when I’m in a jam. It’s everything a soup should be: simple, savory, and soothing. And best of all, you can make it in a snap.

This is my friend Alice’s signature soup. She makes it with red potatoes and it’s beautiful. Since I turn to this soup when I’m in a tight spot (like now) and never have red potatoes on hand, I whip it up with regular baking potatoes. It’s still delicious, but not quite as pretty.

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(don’t look in the bowl cause that’s not what your getting)

If you are still reading this ridiculously long post, here is your reward:

Alice’s Warm You Up Potato Soup Wonder

  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped Onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped Celery
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • Saute in large stock pot until soft (about 5 minutes)
  • Add:
  • 3 cups peeled cubed Potatoes (if red, don’t peel) Shortcut: the smaller you cube them the faster they cook.
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1 tsp Dill
  • 1/2 tsp Marjoram
  • Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft (about 10 minutes)
  • Add:
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 – 4 tbsp Cream Cheese
  • Blend (I use a blender wand that I put right in the stock pot. If you have an actual blender, then blend the soup and the dairy in equal portions.)
  • Ladle into warmed bowls and ENJOY!

Nate Needs Meat So We Add This

  • 1 Kielbasa sliced into coins
  • Saute over medium-high until until slightly browned and crisp on the edges
  • Add directly into finished potato soup or serve on the side.

Since the tortilla soup didn’t manage to melt the snow (though it was heartily devoured and enjoyed by the HungryMan), I can offer you this scrumptious bowl to wrap up in. Enjoy!!

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