January 2013 archive

I’ll Translate

20100112-languageSince Abe turned two years old in August, he has a new sentence every day with 10 new words. I don’t know who is teaching him these words or when he learned to read. It’s astonishing how quickly his vocabulary is growing.
He talks all day. The boy talks all. day. long. He describes, responds to, or interacts with every person, experience, and landmark. There is no part of my day that doesn’t come with a narrator. A clumsy narrator whose second language is English and whose first language was acquired during a drunken tour of Ireland.
I never understood how moms knew what their children were saying until I had a child who grew old enough to speak. I often heard children talking and then waited for their mothers to translate and then wondered, at what point did they figure out what all this garble meant?

I can now proudly tell you that I am that mother.

I noticed last week that when Abe was speaking with an adult, they kept looking at me to translate. As I became more aware of this phenomenon, I realized that I could get paid for this were it Arabic or Mandarin Chinese. I am constantly translating. No one else is positive what Abe is saying at any given time. This, I believe, is one of the only true gifts were receive as mothers to two-year-olds. My son can look a man dead in the eye and say, “Ok, enanna pay caws in tucks?” and I can immediately double back to ask, “He wants to know if you want to play cars and trucks?” Or, perhaps, “Isin doorin cuz we opin’in’in it for in out-siiii,” might sounds like crazy speak to a visiting neighbor or loved one, but to me it clearly means, “If the door is open can I go outside?”

In the very near future, I’ve decided to begin mistranslating my son’s confusing and convoluted use of the English language to those who would most be offended or made uncomfortable by it. Perhaps an older gentleman or grandmother-type would like to know that, “Abe has an itchy penis,” or, “There’s a red spot on mommy’s bottom.” Because if I have any power over my two-year-old right now, that’s about it.

The Real Story

62923_10151664246904829_564585535_nThe other day I posted a picture on Facebook of Abraham laying on the floor of  a Michael’s craft store reading a book he found on the shelf. It was a very innocent gesture. Just a cute picture.

But, oh, the controversy it caused.

First, it started with a few comments about how well-behaved my son must be. Then, how crafty I must be if I’m spending time at a Michael’s. Then I started getting personal messages asking what I was crafting and how I was crafting and how I got Abe to behave. It snowballed. Folks went all over the place with assumptions about this picture.

How many times have you looked at a picture or status on Facebook, compared your own life to it, and then automatically assumed that your life is worse/harder/more exhausting than the person who originally posted? Maybe you don’t even do it consciously. You just suddenly feel badly, or kind of sad, and immediately begin working on your life as a whole because it’s obviously irreparably broken. You don’t connect it with the possibility that the person just posted the BEST moment of their week. You just want to move to Patagonia and start a new life.

Well, let me clear that picture up right now. Abraham finally settled in that place where he would read that book shortly after he pulled ALL the books off of the shelves and refused to help me replace them by screaming. Ordinarily I would frown upon my child wallowing on the floor of a store reading a book he was bending and tearing that I had no intention of buying, but he was quiet and not moving and I was able to shop for a few moments before he began screaming again. And what was I shopping for? Fake plants. Because I kill real plants on contact. We have ONE house plant that I haven’t killed, and I really have no idea how it’s still alive because I’ve never watered it. I was not crafting. I do not look at a tongue depressor and see a rose bud. No. I kill house plants. Oh, and shortly before we left, Abe pulled an entire lot of wire bicycle wine racks off a shelf. It was very loud. Or, as Abe announced, “Beeeeery wowd.” Thankfully, nothing broke, and we quickly exited the store.

So look at this picture as you will, but this was a brief moment of peace and beauty in the middle of very human day that included meltdowns, broken toys, and poopy blowouts. The next time you look at a picture/status on Facebook that makes you feel bad, even if just for a SECOND, retell the story of that picture in the worst possible way. Because that’s more likely the story behind it anyway.

Altered

After Abe was born I bought some larger jeans to accommodate my larger everything. Three years later I decided it might be smart to take them in and have them altered, since my legs are back to normal size but my waist and hips are permanently a size bigger, it seems. No use buying new jeans when these will do with a nip and a tuck. This way I can keep a comfortable waist and accentuate the fact I have twigs for legs.

I’m going to start looking like an orange on a toothpick, soon.

At any rate, I threw on the old jeans and grabbed a second pair that I figured could also use the needle. I walked in to my alterations place and the little asian woman there smiled, glad to see me. (If you’ve never had anything altered, here’s how it goes: you stand up on a small, circular step in front of a bunch of mirrors wearing the thing you want altered. It’s sort of 360 degrees from What Not to Wear style. You say what you don’t like, someone pins you all up, and then you take it off and leave it to magically be recreated to perfectly fit your body. It’s all very exciting.)

I stood up on the step in front of the mirrors and told my gal that the jeans were too big in the legs. I wiggled and moved the fabric around to show her the saddlebags the jeans were pretending I had and the giant, droopy calves. She stood back and put her hand on her chin. “Are these new pants?” she asked.
“These? No. They’re older.”
“Oh. Ok. Older pants.”
“Yes.”
“Hmmmm.” She stared at them for a moment from all sides, slowly walking around me. I followed her with my eyes, wondering if she was creating some new fashionable jean-type pants in her mind that would make me look incredible and ahead of the times.  After several seconds, she stopped and crossed her arms over her chest. “I can’t alter these.”
Had I chosen a pair of jeans so expensive, so incredibly unique that she couldn’t even alter them?! “Oh? You can’t?”
“No. I can’t.”
“Ok. Why?”
“You need new pants.”

Yeah. Take that in. Just taaaake than iiiin. Because it happened. That’s what she said to me. In the 360 room.

“Wait. You won’t alter my pants because…because I need new pants?!”
“Yes. You need new pants. Those are too old. I won’t alter them. Don’t you have new pants?”
“But, I wear these pants.”
“You shouldn’t.”
“Well, I know but, I brought them to you to make them better,” I pleaded.
“Not worth it. Buy new pants.”
“So you’re saying I have to buy new pants.”
“Yes. Buy new pants.”

MY alterations lady refused to alter my pants because they were so old they were UNALTERABLE. She simultaneously insulted me and refused me service. In that moment I neither fit into my jeans nor had the self-esteem to go buy new ones. I was locked in with, “Buy new pants.”
It took a few minutes for my ego to pick itself up off the floor. But, when it did, I realized something. Hey, I have to buy new pants. Not have to. GET to. I have been given permission to go buy myself PANTS! Wait…
“So, you’re saying I have to go buy new pants. If I go home and tell my husband you told me that I have to go buy new pants, will you back me up?” I asked.
“Send him in here. I’ll tell him. You need new pants.”
“Wooow. Ok. I’m going to tell him as soon as I’m home. I need new pants. I’m getting NEW PANTS!”

So the moral of the story is, I have no idea where to shop for new pants. Does anyone know where to get jeans?

Headache

Husband: Hey, how’s your head?

Wife: My head?

Husband: Yeah, didn’t you have a headache?

Wife: That was yesterday.

Husband: Oh. That was yesterday?

Wife: Yep.

Husband: Oh. Oh wow. Ok.

(pause)

Husband: So no headache, then?

Wife: Nope.

Husband: Good, babe.

Who here thinks…

“Who here thinks that, like, when you adopt  a child, you should talk expecially bad about their bio parents to them?”

For three weeks, these are the questions I’ve been facing/dodging/drinking through. Let’s just ignore the fact that the grammar is completely atrocious. And let’s ignore that pesky little, “like” that snuck into the middle of that sentence, serving no purpose. Sometimes the questions in my adoption class are so unbelievably asinine that no one can even figure out how to begin answering them. Like this one:

“In the video, Norma is 15 and she was incredibly angry at her adoptive parents for taking her out of her bio parents home. Why do you think she was so angry?”

Do I just re-state the question back to her? Do I come up with a reason, like she stubbed her toe on the way out and she’s always had a thing for blaming other people when she stubs her toe? Do I point out that everyone in the room is 7 levels beyond this question and would prefer discuss the ins and outs of the legal system as it pertains to the likelihood that they’ll ever be matched with a child to raise and love like their own???

Then someone interrupts my train of thought and slowly asks, “Because her adoptive parents took her away from her bio parents and she misses them?”

“EXACTLY,” our teacher will reply.

It’s like Jeopardy for 4th graders.

We also have massive amounts of “homework.” It entails us answering questions similar to those above. If I’m answering most of them honestly, my answer is that the kid is going to be totally screwed up and it will take months and/or years to normalize their routines and get them comfortable in our home while still acknowledging that they will ALWAYS remember their bio parents and wonder about them and throw them in our faces (“You’re not even my real mom.”) and then leave us to go find them when they’re 18 like we never existed. But, usually I just write, “Yes, I think Vernon will have a hard time adjusting.”

I’m good at jumping through hoops and doing my homework and all that school-based stuff. It’s just that I think as a class that’s meant to be preparing me for owning and operating a child, it’s not teaching me any applicable information. They keep telling us, “We’ll cover that during the Home Study,” which now appears to be a catch-all for anything that isn’t covered in the class. I mean, when they finish a section with, “Any question?” and someone asks, “Yes, once we adopt the child can we move out of state?” and the answer is, “Oh, you can’t do anything with the child for 3 months until the adoption is finalized. You can’t leave them with anyone else or go anywhere outside of the county until the adoption is finalized,” DOESN’T THAT SEEM LIKE AN IMPORTANT FACT THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MENTIONED IN THE CURRICULUM ITSELF RATHER THAN THE HAPPENSTANCE FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS??!!

Sorry for yelling.

4 more classes.

Have a beautiful weekend.

Snooty, Snotty, and Spoiled

With several clients headed into town and then on in to my upstairs guest room, I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief upon realizing they would arrive the day the cleaning woman comes to my house. Bullet dodged.

Eww. I hate admitting that I hire a woman to clean my house. It makes me feel snooty, ungrateful, and like people think I’m spoiled. Of course, I’m incredibly grateful to this woman who comes into my home and cleans it from top to bottom. I thank her profusely every time she is here and I make sure she is comfortable and knows she can eat/use anything she wants. But I still feel like I should be doing more to prove it’s ok that I pay for this service.

The day she’s due at my house, I got up and made sure things were picked up and surfaces were cleared off so she could get in there and work her magic. I opened the front door and left a happy little stickie inviting her in when she arrived. All I had to do was get Abe to school, work, come home, and the house would be clean and I could cook dinner for our guests.

Cue the cleaning woman texting me to tell me she is sick and can’t make it.

Did you hear me? The cleaning lady is sick. She can’t clean today.

Complete panic over how much cleaning there is to do because I didn’t do any of it during the week because we hire a CLEANING LADY. Do you have any idea how hard it is to clean an entire house in one day? I clean my house regularly in small bits and pieces, never all at once. It took for-ever to dust, wipe, disinfect, scrub, sweep, and mop our modest little home and I was exhausted by the time I was finished. NOW how snotty do I sound?

I decided it just had to be done. I was going to figure out how to do it all. I proceeded to clean while checking my work emails in between each task and taking conference calls while mopping for the next 6 hours. By the time I was done, I sat back and looked to see  faucets that twinkled in the sunlight, countertops clear of debris and clutter, floors minus scuff marks, windows without nose prints. And you know what I felt?
Grateful.
I am so unbelievably grateful that I get to work, my child goes to school and he still spends days with me, and that if the cleaning woman cancels I am in a position where, for one day at least, I can do it all.
I am also incredibly grateful that this woman comes to my home and cleans it with as much care as I do. She doesn’t make me feel badly or guilty. In fact, she is grateful for the work.

I think what I’m trying to say is that when I misplace the notion that I’m incredibly lucky, the cleaning lady gets sick and reminds me just how lucky I am. Sweet little reminders come from the strangest places.

I ruined my manicure, but that’s ok.

 

 

Blended

It’s rare that I sit down to make a meal just for myself. Cooking a piece of chicken takes the same amount of time as a walk or a nap or having a small glass of bourbon. So, obviously, I usually choose one of the latter options.

Lately, though, I’ve entered the smoothie world and frankly, it’s divine. It’s so easy to throw one together and it’s way healthier than anything I could get at Taco Bell…I mean Panera where they serve salads with vegetables.

This is my daily driver, but I change it up quite a bit based on what I’ve got in my fridge. I keep the basics on hand at all times and toss everything in the blender when I’m in a rush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The staples: 
Spinach (because you can’t taste it in there)
Frozen Berries (I get the big bag from Costco, way cheaper)
Plain Greek Yogurt
Flax Seed
Chia Seed

Today I added: 
Celery (Because we have a ton of it)
A handful of raw almonds
Cinnamon (Awesome for blood sugar)
Tumeric (I add about a teaspoon of this and you can’t taste it, it’s a great anti-inflammatory)

 

Look how pretty.

I use TONS of greens and a bunch of water/ice and spin it altogether. I usually make about 16 oz.  I bought special smoothie straws, too. They’re stupid expensive (around $5 for 20!) so I always wash them and throw them in the dishwasher to reuse.

Abe loves these smoothies. He thinks they taste like ice cream. Obviously he hasn’t had real ice cream yet and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t let him on the fact that real ice cream exists and it’s freaking delicious, way better than these stupid smoothies.

Enjoy. Ice cream later.

Ingenious

A friend recently arrived with her son for a party at my home, which was being stomped through by Abe and another of his buddies. That’s 3 buddies. It’s a lot of little dispositions to please. And when my friend walked up onto the porch, her son began a quite typical 2-year-old meltdown. It was complete with the screaming, the kicking, the pick-me-up/put-me-down syndrome. We’ve all been there. Nothing we were suggesting was working to calm him down. Every mother, many fathers, we all offered advice at a volume just above the screaming to try and help him calm down. Nothing worked. It’s the moment all mothers dread: Do I just dump him in the bushes and go inside for a beer or do I have to take him home and leave this, my one outing for the day?

So that’s when a friend of mine who isn’t a mother made a suggestion. Keep in mind, she’s NOT a mother. She took a sip of her drink, got an ice cube in her mouth, and she spit it into the grass. “Look!” she squealed. “Look! We’re spittin’ ice!”

I know what you’re thinking. It’s what I was thinking. Oh, this is just great. Now we’ll have a screamer who also spits. Brilliant.

But here’s the thing. Spitting, as it turns out, is the funniest thing ever to a two-year-old. He first acted interested, then laughed, then decided to participate. Abe and his other little friend, not wanting to be left out of the spittin’ fun, joined in. We filled plastic cups full of crushed ice and watched as they took turns stepping up onto a bench and spitting ice over the side of the porch railing, laughing all the while. And when I really stood back and took a look at what was happening, I realized that my friend had just created a free, no-mess game that three toddlers were completely loving.

“What other game ideas do you have?!” I asked her.
“How about put a laundry basket on their heads and see how far they can crawl before they get out?” she answered.

INGENIOUS.

We really lock ourselves in a bubble as moms and forget how to be creative for our kids. We go for a walk, go to the park, to a friend’s house, or even to the zoo. And then we all resort to buying little things that will hold our kids’ attention for a while. A forty-five cent car or something out of the little toy machine in the dollar store because, please God, entertain our children. We never think of combinations like ice and spit, laundry basket and crawl…how do we get out of this rut?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I can tell you that my child came home from school yesterday, walked onto the porch, and yelled, “MOM, CA’ I HAD SOME ICE?” I handed him a plastic cup, which he then carried to the freezer and got his OWN crushed ice. He spit the ice for about 20 minutes while I finished some work. Amazeballs.

Any other brilliant, free, no-mess tricks you could share?

Guilt(Free?)

So today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is a holiday for my business but Abe had school. What does this equal?
(Cue the angels)
AN ENTIRE DAY TO MYSELF!!!!

Of course, I began making lists of things that I should accomplish with this day several weeks ago. Painting, crafting, organizing, cleaning, re-organizing…the list of possibilities was seemingly endless. Oh happy, happy, joy, joy. A PRODUCTIVE HOME DAY!

You can see where this is going, right? I woke up this morning, took Abe to school, and the only other thing I wanted to do was lie in bed and read. Maybe watch Oprah reruns. Maybe drink tea. MAYBE.

And so you know what I did? I fought all of my urges to catch up on the million blogs I keep meaning to read and the katrillion posts on Pinterest I know would interest me (hey, I just figured out why they call it that). I resisted the urge to call people I need to catch up with and weed through emails. I even fought the urge to do the laundry. I came home, got in bed, and stayed there. And it was glorious.

Painfully glorious.

You see, the guilt crept in all day. It woke me from a dead sleep on a number of occasions, no joke. My to-do list snickered and my laundry baskets cough and choked as if my last pair of clean sweat pants might throw them into full-on hysterical vomiting. The weeds outside my window reached up and smirked at me. “It’s cool. We’ll just take over the back yard.” The floors gurgled up with muck and grime, and sandy ash floated around coating all the surfaces. The ceiling fan whirred around above me, daring me to turn it off so I could see the puffy patches of dust clinging to the paddles in all their glory (speaking of glory, they were actually singing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah” in little chipmunk voices). And the worst of all? The dishes in the sink clinked together on occasion to softly remind me that fly-attracting breakfast food was facing a slow and painful death in the kitchen sink.

But, ladies and gents, I fought it. I fought the guilt and insisted on remaining guilt-free. And when I could lie in bed no more, I took a walk. A walk to no where. There was no agenda for this walk, not even a Pandora station I planned out prior to leaving. I didn’t even wear good socks. I just threw shoes on and walked. And by the time I got home, I was so refreshed, so focused, so calm that I decided I didn’t even mind doing the dishes or crossing a few things off my list in the hours before Abe came home from school. I leisurely did a little cleaning, a little organizing, a little to-do list writing. No stress. No panic. No T-2 hours until the world explodes and then I’ll NEVER get this stuck-on food off the stove. And even in this very moment, without wine or gluten-y foods, I am at peace and content.

And then I read this MLK quote:

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. 

The lesson today? If you seek peace, seek it in the things you do today, not as the goal you must reach by the end of the day. Find peace in the simplest of tasks and in the most challenging. You don’t need an entire day off to do it (although, I’ll admit, it helps). Breathe deeply and feel the peace in a hug, watching your children play, or even cleaning a dish. Peace is everywhere.

So are legos. And they hurt like a mother when you step on one in your bare feet. It’s okay when that doesn’t bring you peace. Just find it somewhere else.

Cabbage and Nuggs

No one likes cabbage unless it’s in coleslaw and full of sugar. So, I’m constantly in search of things to do with the head of cabbage I get in my farm bag every week.
So this week I found this recipe. Roasted cabbage disks. This is mostly cool because of the shape. Chop the cabbage into 1 inch thick disks.

 

Then brush them with olive oil and salt and pepper liberally. I think I baked these at about 375 for 30 minutes, maybe more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave them in the oven until the outside leaves get black and crispy. Those are the really delicious part. I also added celery seeds in the last 5 minutes of baking so add some yum but without burning them.
Ok, so now what?
You can add roasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts) or maybe some fresh tomato sauce. Even try some salad dressing or coleslaw dressing. These actually ended up pretty delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

Next, chicken nuggs. My girlfriend makes these a lot and I always assume they take too long so I never make them. After she left some potato flour in my freezer (remember, we are g-free) for me, I decided I should just try. I dumped some potato flour, salt, pepper, and romano cheese in a bowl. I put some almond milk in another bowl. Just substitute all of this stuff for things you actually like, because I know you’re all rolling your eyes at all my hippy dippy ingredients.

 

I just rustled them around in the milk and then plopped them 4 or 5 at a time in the flour. I shook them around in there (remember the Shake n Bake? Is that still a thing? I could’ve used it…) and then set them on parchment paper. I did 2 chicken breasts and the prep took me about 12 minutes. No big deal!

 

 

 

 

 

I lined them all up on some parchment paper and popped them in the oven at 400 for 25 or 30 minutes with some already roasting brussel sprouts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at those cute little nuggs.

 

 

 

 

 

Let me tell you, these were SUCH a hit. SO simple and delicious. We dipped in ketchup and blue cheese dressing (because my son’s tastebuds are polyamorous, and I don’t judge him for that)!!

 

 

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