The Things We Forget

Mother’s Day is weird this year.

Mom’s birthday is May 11 and usually it falls within a couple of days of Mother’s Day.  My mom was an extraordinary gift giver.  For me,  it was always a struggle to get on her level for Mothers Day and her birthday, which we always treated as separate days.   She understood the struggle of people who have birthdays on or near holidays… of course, my birthday is on National Boss Day… I guess I know the struggle as well?

It just caught me off guard last month- I came across an ad for Menards or something that was like, “Make Mother’s Day Special.”  I was like, “Wow.  There is that, too.”

Growing up, I did a lot of the cooking.  It started when I was in about 5th grade, Mom got really sick over Thanksgiving and I made Thanksgiving dinner.  Up to that point, I made the occasional hot dogs  or macaroni and cheese or ramen.   But after, we realized I could more or less follow directions for cooking meals, I took over a majority of the cooking.

It made sense, because in 6th grade, I would come home from school and “get dinner started”… and once you’re trusted to boil pasta water, it’s not that big of a step to make hamburgers.  And no one every bled out from cutting themselves while making a salad.

I learned at an early age how to get food to the table at the appropriate temperature, at the same time.  Seriously, my mom would flip shit if I brought out fries 10 minutes before burgers were ready. Or a pan of baked ziti getting cold on the table while you’re still waiting for salad to come out.  I learned that you cannot use flour or granulated sugar to thicken up buttercream frosting that you carelessly made too thin.  That first year I made Thanksgiving dinner, mom talked me through the whole thing, including dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  I cooked the turkey breast down because I didn’t know any better.  When I got the meal to the table, the turkey did not look like what you see in magazines, and I assumed I had messed something up.  Mom was like, “breast down is how Martha Stewart cooks her turkey”.  And it keeps the white meat from drying out.  Ever since, I’m like, “Martha Stewart can get on my level!” And I cook the damn thing breast down.

Growing up, we had a weekend routine that I continue to be in awe of.  We’d get up Saturday morning and do JJ’s soccer games/tournaments, and wrestling meets.  If Nicole and I were reffing, we did that. Often, mom would work in the concession stand or field marshal at tournaments or do whatever portion of the seemingly endless work of volunteers in youth sports organizations.  Then we’d hit the library for books.  We never had a limit- we’d each leave with a stack of books that would reach our chins.  Then the video store, back when that was a thing.  Usually we’d get 2-3 movies… some new releases, some that we had seen before.  Usually there was something for all of us to watch as a family and then something that was Rated R, which mom and dad would watch after we went to bed.  Then groceries and the feed store, then home.

After unloading the horse feed and groceries, we usually have 1-2 hours to immerse ourselves in reading.  Mom would turn on college football or PBS, while she sewed or crocheted, or quilted.  And then we had pizza. Chef Boyardee makes a pizza mix, that comes with the dough mix, sauce, and Parmesan cheese for two pizzas.  Throw some mozzeralla on top, and it was not a half bad pizza.  Once JJ got a little older though, two pizzas made as prescribed didn’t go real far in a family of five.  So, we’d get another pizza dough or use flour to thicken up the crusts.

Around the time I was in 5th grade, I was making the pizza myself.  And I got good at it.  I figured out how to make it, so that it was filling and delicious.  Pizza plus nachos made with doritos, bean dip, taco sauce, and cheddar cheese.  That is Saturday to me.

When Mom was in hospice, she explained the origin of that family tradition.  Her father had died when she was kid (11-12 years old).  Her mom was trying to raise four kids and keep a roof over their heads.  She made pizza for the family because it was cheap and it was good, and it was one thing just didn’t suck.  It was something they could look forward to for the week.  And back then, soda was just becoming a thing. They’d have glass bottles of soda and pizza, and for that night, things were okay.

The thing is, I forgot the recipe.

There was a time when I knew that recipe better than I knew the star-spangled banner.  I’ve made it a couple of times since she died, and its just not right.  Its actually kinda terrible.

I have two thoughts  on the matter- one is to let it go.  Before she died, I didn’t make pizza from scratch because it is a little bit of a beat down.  Especially when you get get a Hot and Ready at Little Ceasar’s for $5.  Or a decent frozen pizza from Aldi for $4.

But, then there is the other part of  it… that I ought to re-develop the recipe, so I can pass it down to Nico.  But he has such trash taste in food… I can’t imagine he would like it.  And that would be disappointing.

Coldy Woldy

Some images from winter around here: 
Icicles hanging off the roof over the back yard.  

The avalanche of snow leading down to the basement. 

Gordon hanging out in the snow.  
So, it has been interesting around here.  Winter Storm Ion came in and put the muscle on us.  So much so, that I experienced my first snow day (true story: DePaul was closed on Monday!!  Yippeee!)  We ended up with another 10″ of snow over the weekend, combined with brutal cold on Monday and Today, and things are just not back to usual.  On Sunday, we walked to a Korean grocer at Brynn Mawr (which was like maybe 6 blocks away).  Nico walked the whole time and was a champ about it.  
I have decided that Nico’s pink cheeks make me very happy. 
I finished Nico’s hat.  The wheels came off a bit when I was decreasing to finish it.  But altogether, I am very happy with how it came out.  Although, I am not sure I will make him any more, since he whipped if off his head and threw it on the floor (to be funny).  Let’s see how funny it is next year when his giant melon head doesnt have any hats to keep warm because his mom wont make any…
It’s still pretty chilly here… below 0.  But its supposed to warm up substantially this week… like in the upper 30s.  Given that it was -48 with the windchill yesterday and we’re going to have RAIN later this week, I am left with the conclusion that Chicago is drunk.  Go home Chicago.  Go home. I am actually working from home today, in the basement.  It’s fricking freezing.  Like for serious, I have the hood on my hoodie sweatshirt pulled up and I am contemplating finding one of our space heaters to supplement.   
Dave and I took Nico to school on Monday (which was open for a few hours), and we got stuck coming back (and trying to park the car).  I hopped out and pushed the car out.  So yay, for my muscles- made by CrossFit.  Speaking of CrossFit, our gym started a paleo challenge this week.  I know, you all are rolling your eyes.  Paleo?  Really?  But, I am a social person who also is peer pressured very easily.  So, I am doing it.  In all, I think it is a bit of tie really… no processed carbs like bagels and bread, but you can put bacon on everything.  And for some reason, butter is okay, but not milk or yogurt.  
I have been, for six months, been trying to find a paleo blueberry muffin.  Mostly for Nico and me… since I don’t like him eating a lot of processed foods.  I found a recipe for muffins using coconut flour, which isn’t terrible.  You have to not mind coconut, which some people do.  I mostly just use this as a method of getting butter and the tiniest scotch of maple syrup to my mouth.  
In any case, someone ate the last three of these guys for breakfast.  So- they must be alright.  Speaking of food.  Last night I made a spaghetti squash carbonara.  Basically, I fried bacon and then tossed spaghetti squash in the fat (along with sun dried tomatoes and garlic).  Then topped with a fried egg.  Guess who ate that?  The boys!!  I put a little marinara on Nico’s and didnt tell him it was spaghetti squash and he ate 1.5 servings of it.  I know, right?  Mom cooking ninja!!
Before Christmas, we had to make our selections for Nico’s school for next year.  Chicago has this crazy lottery system… where you choose schools you want your kid to be considered for and you might get in, you might not.  But there are also selective enrollment schools, where your kid has to test to get into.  So, we signed Nico up for both.  And his test is tomorrow.  I’m not nervous for him… the biggest obstacle for him is whether he will go into the test (the kid has to be able to separate from the parent to go into the test room by himself).  If he can, I think he would be fine.  Because he is really bright: he’s reading, telling time, doing math, etc.  
In one sense, I understand that Nico is essentially being shafted by the system… since CPS doesnt allow redshirting, we figured that it wouldnt do much good to keep him at his preschool another year (since he would be starting first grade when he starts).  But, maybe being able to separate is a good indicator.  And maybe it would to him some good to go somewhere where he could be the kid out in front.  I dont know.  I just kind of wish it would be over already.  Will keep you posted.  

Post season affective disorder.

So Super Bowl weekend was pretty fun.  We went over to Joe and Kari’s house (Joe is a former press corps writer).  We have been to their house several times- so Nico had a blast.  Joe and Kari’s youngest child Jack is maybe like 7 or 8- so they ran around and tore up things.  It was pretty fun.  Plus Margot and Mike were there with Zoe who is just about the most fun ever (next to Nico when he was 10.5 months old).

I didnt get any pictures of Nico… but I did manage a picture of the pie I brought.  I hope that doesnt reflect poorly on my priorities as a mother… Oh it does?  Sadface.

Other than that- not much going on here.  Settling into a nice little post-season routine.  I was telling Dave the other day that I thought I was suffering from post-season affective disorder (PSAD), because I just feel listless.  I feel like I dont want to work… I dont want to write… I dont want to work out.  I just want to go to the beach.  And sleep.  And watch movies.

I think its a feeling of getting my life back and not really sure where to start…

Or something.  But I am better now 🙂

I am playing on a womens soccer team in New Orleans.  I am still woefully out of shape… but it should be fun.

for real.

Dear Family and Friends,
I made these last week.

It was Thursday night, I came back into town from practice and we had our sitter watching Nico. I ran through town in an epic Christmas shopping blitz. I was at the Lowes next door when I felt like I should bake some cookies. So I strolled into Publix and got the items for this. They were delicious. I prolly shouldnt admit to this, but I have eaten most of them. Dave and Nico have gotten a few… but sadly, this has mostly been about me. And they ARE really bad for you. Know how some things you eat and you’re like, “That wasn’t really as decadent tasting as I thought it would be… it prolly doesnt have THAT many calories.” And then your eyes POP out of your head when you see you just at 54954987324958723 calories? This isnt like that… you pretty much know you ate your daily allotment of calories in one bite. And you just dont care.

Apparently, I need to “Martha Up” in this hizzie and learn to sew. Because I want this real bad:

As Senator Clay Davis would say:

Went 1-2 in the tournament this weekend. Lost our big center back due to a cracked ankle. Out 4-6 weeks. Got another game tonight and tomorrow. Just need to get through till Christmas.

Nico is now providing the excuse, “I have lots of things to do,” for why he cant take a nap or go to bed. Its adorbs.


We had a pretty fun weekend here. Uncle JJ came up to see us! We waited till after nap on Saturday to go out to Monticello for the Watermelon Festival. We pretty much got there as they were taking it down 😦 but not before we snagged some sno-cone and meat on a stick- which you can’t beat!!

We pretty much just hung around the house. In one sense it was good because I havent had a lot of that lately, but I am feeling the pinch now. I am trying to get these two damn papers out the door.

I seem to be getting sick. Or I seem to be now, at the age of 31 developing a serious set of allergies. Or its just head cold central up in here. In any case, Dave brought home some Allegra tonight and that seems to be helping. Speaking of which, I have calculated it out and it looks like I will be doing dishes and making dinner for the rest of the year. Given that I am totally not weight bearing, that means I have to walk with crutches. Have you ever tried carrying food to and fro while carrying crutches? Yeah, do not like.

So on the way back into town, from the watermelon festival, we snagged some fruit at a fruit stand on Capital Circle. We got a bag full of almost ripe peaches and some watermelon. Today, after school, I sat Nico on the table and had started on a peach and offered him a bite. He ate the whole damn thing. Out of my hand. Refusing to hold it his own self. Seriously. He likes fresh peaches? And pizza? Yeah, until about three weeks ago, I was pretty sure that the only food he liked was CHICK nuggets. Turns out he likes pizza too. Like a fool. That kid changes every day.

Gr8 weekend!

So its been craxy fun around here this past couple of days.

These are the “wonky” log cabins that my mom and I worked on while she was up.  We got five blocks done (want Nico’s quilt to be 4X4, so I need 9 more.)  Aren’t they cool looking?  I cant justify working on it a lot right now- with the whole dissertation and moving thing… but I am hoping to get it done for Nico’s First Birthday.

Mom and JJ left on Friday morning… in the afternoon, I took off down to Orlando to run the Muddy Buddy.  I had dinner with JSD and her little bundle of cute O on Friday night.

About the race: it is a running and biking race.  You have a partner, you run part of the way while your partner bikes, you get to a drop point and drop the bike.  The runner picks it up and goes, likely passing you along the way.  At each bike drop there is an obstacle to do- wall climb, cargo net climb, balance beam, etc.  At the end, there is a huge mud pit you have to crawl through.  The race takes place at the Wide World of Sports at Disney, and wraps around their facilities… so you run out to the baseball fields, by the entrance, etc.  We accomplished my major goal of not finishing last.  I did fail, however, at keeping my face out of the mud- mostly because it is gross… but also because I was wearing contacts and that is never a good combination when you’re driving yourself back to Tallahassee.  I also managed to not run into anyone, twist my ankle (badly- I did tweak it a little on the cargo net climb) and I didn’t eat it face first off the bike (whoo- hooo!)

It was definitely a lot of fun!  I am hoping to do it next year… and when Nico gets a little bit older, I think he should run the mini-muddy buddy.  So cute!

So when I got back from Orlando, Dave and I headed to Nene Fest.  It is a festival put on by the hippies that live in Indian Head.  It was pretty cool… we got dinner there, where we discovered that Nico loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  He pretty much helped himself to the one on my plate.  NOM NOM NOM NOM.

Last night was pretty chilled out.  This morning Nico and Dave went on a drive and got some breakfast.  They also brought home a Tallahassee Democrat, which featured a story about Moms who coach on the front page of the sports section.  It was pretty cool…BUT… what is with my face?  If I really look like that in real life, I am going to be very mad at all of my loyal fans for not mentioning that my face looks like a fun house mirror! I am assuming that maybe I had a hard time keeping my eyes open and my face got weird and they tried to fix it by photoshopping eyes from one picture onto another.  That is my only explanation… because, WOW… I look very weird.

This afternoon, Dave went to play coed while Nico and I watched.  He is getting to be a quick little booger- crawling away if he you take your eye off of him!!  We did a soccer drill today, which was pretty cool.  It was a modified Portuguese Man of War… in the traditional drill, you line up a line of balls on the ground.  You put a kicker on one side and a GK on the other… you go down the line, with the kicker attempting to kick the ball out of the hands of the GK… who moves along from ball to ball trying to keep the kicker from getting a shot off.  Its tricky because its very fast and you have to push yourself off the ground while not using your hands (coincidentally, its my Dad’s favorite GK drill).  I just sat the ball in front of Nico and kicked it while he held onto it with his hands.  He was pretty good at it till he got bored!!

He is off the chain when it comes to food… so far he is into trying almost anything.  We might be at the end of getting baby food vegetables… he seems to like real ones so much better.  And I guess since in the end, the goal is to get him eating regular food-food, that this is pretty good.  Tonight I had some green beans (with bacon in them) while trying to feed him baby food green beans.  He was like, “Srsly? Lady, I know what is up!”  We have also started seeing if he is interested in yogurt, which he is.  So far this is what we have:

real green beans
real peas
pbj sandwiches
macaronni and cheese
cheese cubes
most fresh fruit
most canned fruit

baby food carrots
baby food peas
orange peppers (weird).

All for now.

French Food.

I am pretty much a cooking genius.

Last night I made a Shepherd’s pie for dinner.  I even made a menu for the week… which included 16 bean soup with ham on Saturday, baked chicken on Sunday, a chicken pot pie on Monday and Shepherd’s pie yesterday.  The mashed potatoes and gravy that I made on Sunday were pretty much an epic fail, but I recovered nicely with the chicken pot pie on Monday and the Shepherds last night (secret to a fantastic chicken pot pie: phyllo dough for the crust.  FORGET ABOUT IT!)

I rented Julie/Julia on Sunday to watch.  It makes me want to Master French cooking.  Which brings me to another point:  I ❤ Meryl Streep.  I know- thinking Meryl Streep is a great actress is about the same as liking Apple Pie.  Boring.  I know.  But I just love her.  I really liked her as Julia Childs… but even more in the Devil Wears Prada as Miranda Priestly.  One of my favorite quotes from a movie is in the Devil:

This… ‘stuff’? Oh… ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of 8 different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic casual corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff.


In any case, I am tempted to learn french cooking.  But I suspect I do not have the time to commit to such an endeavor.  So maybe I will shelve that till later.  At least till I get a dishwasher 🙂