Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Last Week in February

Chicken pot pie or Tofu Pot Pie

Acorn squash rings
cornbread muffins
Green Salad

tofu fried in garlic black bean sauce
Trader Jo chinese BBQ Pork



Sunday, February 22, 2009

hard to pin down style

I'm putting in a bid on a post-war ranch house, with wood plank ceilings. It looks like you could shoot a catalog in it.

I'm having a hard time figuring out what kind of furniture I'd want in it. Easy to imagine Ozzie and Harriet in it, or Cary Grant with Myrna Loy, but that's not quite how I want to go.

Latest thoughts, triangulate between these:

Sundance catalog
Shabby chic (though shabby chic in general does not necessarily seem fresh to me.)

I love Midcentury, and that's around when the house was built, but it's hard to imagine the delicate lines under those big ole beams.

And this has me wondering if I should pull out of buying this house.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

When Mom checks out, everyone checks out.

The day back to school after a long weekend is hard. Even if you've kept fairly close to the normal schedule, even if you didn't travel over the holiday weekend, the logistics of getting lunches and socks and out on a bike on time challenge everyone.

During the school day, I needed to take one kid to a dentist. Additionally, I dropped over at someone's house to work on a Relief Society project I wanted to participate in, something for an orphanage in another country.

I knew I was maybe pushing it, stopping by for socializing and quilting. I should have been doing chores or maybe catching up on sleep. But, I wanted to have a normal life, by my measurements. even if I had just pulled a couple weekend days as the only parent at home.

Right after school I needed to take one kid to tutoring. Which was also aggravating, because the tutor cut back her hours and the institution providing the tutoring couldn't schedule with me with an appropriate replacement. I've paid for the ten-session block in advance. The other child's tutoring, which we usually drive to after this one's, had been cancelled for their spring break.

On the way home we were talking about picking up the monopoly game the smaller children and I had laid out on the game table in the morning. But I was so tired driving, my head kept nodding.

Luckily when we got home, a toy my son had ordered from eBay had arrived. We cancelled monopoly. He played with his new toy, and she played some computer games. And I took a nap. I was out for three hours. Three prime hours of after-school time.

Now everyone is cross. They don't like the hot dogs I offered for dinner, my backup for when I didn't make anything good. They haven't done their homework or chores, so now they're overwhelmed and cross about being asked to do so.

I don't consider my lapses character flaws anymore. I consider them flaws in managing my time and resources. Still, even with greater attention to my limits, sometimes I am taken by surprise when I've collapsed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Progress Report

I'm working through Shrink Yourself. It's starting to settle into my brain stem. I read the book but couldn't seem to concentrate on it, so I signed up for the paid online program.

I'm listening to Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani as an audiobook. It gives me a reason to stay in the kitchen long enough to clean up or do laundry.

Between my iPod Things application, consulting with an organizational expert, and reading advice books, all the things I juggle are pretty much staying in orbit and rarely anything falling. Oddly, getting a little better at this and I'm less enjoying public confession about all the things I don't do well.

My brother introduced me to Stanza, and I'm reading some Bruce Sterling-ish author.

I worry about my kids.

I'm a little stressed out when I should buy a house.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Today, I'm going shopping.

With a young teen. Recently I've given her control over her clothing allowance, and she has embraced the task. But all that investment in choosing the best style and at better prices than I would, has resulted in her NOT WANTING HER MOTHER LOOKING OVER HER SHOULDER.

Thank heaven for cell phones. Since I need to be in some other part of the mall. I'm not brave enough to drop her off and drive away--the affordable malls are not that close to home. Maybe I'll find something for my own Valentine Date tonight. Or maybe I'll play a lot of suduko.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Now he wants to watch a movie

I'm only partly through the mopping. Haven't started the bathroom. Husband comes back from meetings. Probably at the chocolate shop.

"hey, haven't you had a shower yet?"

My mother-in-law was of the opinion there was no point in taking a shower before mopping the floor. Maybe I ought to rethink that advice.

"I have an idea" he continues, "why don't you wash up, then we'll watch that Bob Dillon movie and then go out to lunch."

Grr. I got nothing done yesterday. The kids get out early, and then I'm driving them on wall-to-wall appointments until dinnertime. Then there's scouts and youth activities at the church.

He drifts in and out. I keep mopping.

Finally, I realize he doesn't know the school schedule--the kids get out early but have classes I drive them around to, right up to the point we collapse at home in front of dinner from a crock-pot. "I'm sorry," I say, "that's why I'm being so stingy with my time."

"Oh," he says, "yes, there wouldn't be time for a movie anyway."

"lunch sounds tempting,"

"well, let me know."

In my calculating brain, I know the invitation to a watch a movie is something I should be grateful for. But mostly right now I'm feeling socially awkward.

addendum: we went to lunch, and it was fabulous. and the next day out to dinner. and out to hot chocolate. I just don't play this much when he's not around.

What would a dolphin trainer do?

I'm in the thick of cleaning up the kitchen, my supplies laid out to scrub the bathroom afterwards, and then to clear some clutter from the living room. [system] Some days work lined up like can be daunting, but today it is invigorating. I have had a full night's sleep for a change, and haven't scheduled too much work to handle before noon.

My husband comes ambling into the kitchen. When he's in town, he works at home quite a lot. "The president will be speaking at noon (eastern time). That's in 15 minutes. I've got to go scrub myself. Will you queue up the t.v. so it's going when I get out?"

"What channel will it be on?" (is it just me? I am supremely irritated by this.)

"Oh, I don't know. Probably a few, it will be easy to find."

(what the heck is this? Doesn't he know how to turn on the t.v. anymore?)

He pads off. I keep emptying the dishwasher.

I could "forget."

I could be grateful for the opportunity to do this small service for him. Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.

I could blog about it. You could tell me what to do.

Once the dishwasher was empty, I padded over to the living room, found a channel that will be running news in the next hour, turned the sound down low so it doesn't bug me while I'm working in the other room. Then back to work for me.

I think the dolphin trainer would "forget."

Organizationally Challenged

I finally decided to make something easier on myself. I hired a professional organizer to help me divide night from day and find homes for towels in a house without a linen closet.

She's fabulous, by the way. Lisa Mark of Time Butler [her blog].

What's funny is my next appointment is still not on the calendar. Because I'm so frazzled right now, I forget to return emails.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Family Home Evening Monday Night destroys another Tuesday morning

We have GOT to start having Family Home Evening on Sunday afternoon. Everyone was up past 9, and the older ones past 10, and me until midnight. The teenagers overslept this morning just enough to be crazy. I couldn't drive too-young-for-seminary to junior high though she was running behind, because these days I'm taking the neighbor's child with us each morning to the elementary school, while her mother recovers from surgery. So my kid is getting on her bike with tears in her eyes, blaming all of us for her misplaced English book. And the puddle of pee she stepped in made by some tiny who missed the toilet.

So with the younger crew in the van, I pull up to the front stoop of the school, and start kissing kids goodbye out of the van, handing them their lunches as they go. I don't kiss the neighbor girl but wish her a good day. And someone doesn't have his coat. And it's cold out there. So in the sight of the fundraising moms that are greeting each car, I pull off my sweatshirt and hand it to him.

Realizing then, that my pajamas are what I have on under it. Because that's my seminary-run trick. Jeans with the pajamas, sweatshirt over the top.

So, while the fundraisers wish me to have a better morning, and the bus behind me is kind enough not to honk, I realize I have one more lunch on the seat. Too-young-for-seminary has left hers on the counter again.

And she had the best lunch. She's so stressed out these days, I've been trying to make her designer lunch. No sandwiches, but lovely tortellini, or salads in pita, or...well I'm running out of ideas. She rejects macaroni and cheese as too fattening.

I start driving to the junior high, I park at the bottleneck by the library hoping to catch her before she got to the school. No chance, I didn't see her. Which means she probably made it to school on time.

I don't want to drive back later, so I continue on to the school. But, how to enter the attendance office in pajamas? Unfortunately, these are fabulous silk ones. A little less than I want to wear in public.

There's a turquoise beach towel on the floor of the car. It's handy when the rain leaks through the sunroof, or to clear frost on the inside of the windows before the seminary run. I wrap it around me like a serape. It matches my glasses. Now I'm a crazy fashion victim, a perfectly acceptable role for a junior high mom. Acceptable compared to half-naked crack addict.

I'm going back to bed. I'm already dressed for it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pork Chops

We're semi-vegetarians. In this case, that means we have some family members who do not eat meat. I serve a lot of split meals and I post intermittently at Mormons Going Veggie.

Sunday I found out my youngest doesn't know what a pork chop is. So I decided a meal of pork chops was in order. I had to look up a recipe though, because after spending my 20s as a vegetarian, I missed the critical window for learning to cook meat. I serve meat two or three times a week, and then mostly with fear and trembling, and much use of an instant-read thermometer.

Still ended up with meat browned on the outside, raw on the inside. I blame the low heat of the nonstick pan. I ended up putting the fry pan with the chops in it into a 400 degree oven, then overshot my 144 degree target. Good news, chops are still edible, if not actually delicious, at 160. They were in the oven overlong because no child wants to come to the table and wait for the others. Everyone wants to be last.

The idea of pork chops brought back delicious memories of my happy childhood and our regular pork chop meal. I tried to get shake-and-bake but my store didn't have it, another casualty of gentrification. I bought four chops, one for each known meat eater, because I didn't want to run out. I anticipated the food would be delicious. And, I bypassed the economy thin chops for ones that were 3/4 or an inch thick, with the bone in, of course.

And they were delicious. (ha, you thought the punchline was they were inedible, dry)

And ONE pork chop fed all of us. I have three beautiful, delicious pork chops sitting in the fridge. The bloom of their just-roasted flavor dissipating into the cold.

That's the problem with semi-vegetarians. They really just don't eat much meat.

Pork Chop Dinner Menu

  • Mom's Perfect Pork Chops from Simply Recipes. Except I completely lazy-fied it. Instead of using her dad's rub, I just rubbed untoasted pre-ground cumin, corriandor, salt and pepper on it.

  • Cornbread. The vegetarians rejected my offer to make cornbread stuffing in favor of straight plain cornbread. My new lazy trick is the Marie Calendar's mix. I used to make cornbread from scratch, but never had the nerve to put that much sugar in it.

  • Sauteed zucchini, summer squash, and mushrooms. I only have one pan, and the pork chops were in it. So I did this on my electric pancake griddle. Worked well.

  • fresh fruit salad: melon, pineapple, grapes, berries. yes, I got it at the deli

  • Caeser salad, with the reduced-fat dressing the teens requested. Actually, I couldn't tell the difference, though I am against reduced-fat dressing on principle.
  • Sunday, February 8, 2009

    (another) new regime in Family Home Evening

    I'm inspired to get Family Home Evening back on tract by, of all things, the South Park mormons episode. Why can't we be like Gary's family, greeting each other at the door, playing board games, and entertaining each other with a trumpet?

    The thing is, there's just one of me, and my ability to dictate terms decreases every year. The lovely FHE assignment board hangs unnoticed behind the computers. So here's the new plan.

    The Family Home Evening Host.

    Each week on a revolving and predictable schedule, one person in the family will be the Family Home Evening host. They get up to two hours on Sunday (or 90 minutes if pushed off until Monday) to dictate terms of the activity.

    This means we will all be forced to play Heroscape next month with the child born too late for D&D. But hey, what could make him happier?

    How better to prepare my children for dating?

    How easier to duck or de-emphasize the lesson?

    How better to reduce our consumption of dessert than to schedule that on Monday?

    Tomorrow we're playing Monopoly. We'll have a short review of tithing first, mostly filling out envelopes and putting money inside. Since no one's paid on their allowance in 2009 yet. And then next week someone beside me can be in charge.

    Saturday, February 7, 2009

    Full of Ambition

    I've been wanting to be more glamourous. And lately I have. By blow drying my hair.

    Hey, it is a difference.

    Except that I didn't manage to amp up my glamor the day Husband came home.

    I've had some days when I'm more on top of the kids' schedule.

    Except that I'm eating through 3-6p.m., so that I never want real dinner when I serve it.

    I need to make a schedule again. The little kids never brush their teeth. They're not getting to bed on time. I haven't exercised in more than a month, probably only twice in two or three months.

    I want to embrace getting in bed again. I have trouble getting to sleep without media. Then I don't want to get up in the morning. Why can't the bed feel so comfy and embracing at 10 p.m. like it does at 6:30 in the morning?

    When I made a schedule with Lisa, I looked at it and felt trapped. Trapped I tell you.

    My kids rooms are each a mess. Mess I tell you.

    I'm going to take a shower and then go buy a waffle iron.

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    what it means to be the mother of All

    The mother of all storms. The mother of all excuses. Wherever there's a problem, the biggest and baddest is the mother of all.

    And as a mother of a handful of kids, that mother is me. Whether you've forgotten your homework or your lunch, whether you've not gotten enough sleep or enough play time with your same-age peers, whether you've put the time in on your trumpet or your math facts, your mother is to blame. Or so she often thinks, because that's mostly true.

    The ideal mom is loving and kind, and super organized, dependable and consistent. In addition, I wanted to be like the mother in Wrinkle in Time, a violet-eyed scientist who cooked dinner on the bunsen burner so she wouldn't have to leave the lab. There must be less than 50 words about her in the book, but she made a bigger impression on me than the tesseract. Because that was a mother I could relate to, the rock-star version of the mother I could imagine becoming, even when I was 10.

    I didn't imagine being the mom who forgot to wash our socks.

    I'm not dependable or consistent at home, at least, not naturally so. And yet I procreated anyway. This is my blog.