Archive | February, 2011

Cooking for the Lazy

There are two things that make me feel like I’m a great wife and mother: cleaning house and cooking.  For some reason, working 10+ hour days DO NOT make me feel like a great wife and mother, but the bill collectors appreciate it when I do the latter more than the former.  Thus, the three things do not always coincide harmoniously.

I wouldn’t quite call myself “lazy”, as the title would imply.  But I do keep recipes simple.  Because I often have less than an hour to 1) get myself and Tony inside, 2) get dogs fed and Tony a small snack, and 3) get dinner started.  If I’m lucky, I might have an opportunity to use the restroom in there, but that’s not a guarantee.

I also like to keep recipes simple because occassionally, I will pass the cooking baton to Bryan.  This happens VERY RARELY, because he can cook chili and spaghetti and anything else will confuse and overwhelm him.   I’m trying to introduce him to new things he can cook (one example is included below and he made a successful risotto a few weeks back), but they have to be simple. (And I don’t blame him – I was the same way when I started cooking.)

I also (last reason, I promise) like to keep recipes simple because there’s usually little clean-up involved.  Although our house enforces the “She who cooks will be spared the cleaning” rule, my dishwashers often believe that “cleaning” simply implies you can put everything in “to soak” and then Sarah will get tired of looking at it soaking and will, in fact, clean it.  They believe this because IT HAPPENS LIKE CLOCKWORK.

I cook four or five nights a week without fail, and Bryan usually catches one night a week when he beats me home, so we have a list of some tried-and-true recipes.  A few people asked me for my “staple list” on Twitter a week or so ago and I thought I’d give it here, too.  I did not create these recipes, so they’re all links to other sites, but keep in mind: I’ve used them several times, and I have THE PICKIEST EATERS KNOWN TO MAN.  If they’ll eat these dishes, we’re all in luck.

Dinners Reserved for Monday nights:
(I hate cooking on Monday nights more than going to the dentist, so these are super easy.)
Pasta Fagioli
Taco Soup
BBQ  – I can’t find the recipe for this, but it was literally a pork butt and a pack of McCormick Chili seasoning thrown into a 6 quart crock pot for 8 hours.  Shred with two forks and return to crock pot for another hour along with a bottle of your favorite bqq sauce.  TA DA.

Other favorites:
Mexican Lasagna

Homemade Pizza Rolls

Picante Pot Roast

Sour Cream Enchilladas

Lazy Chicken Enchilladas

Mexican Cornbread Casserole (Although, honestly, we may be having the next recipe on that page – the chicken turnovers – tonight)
Chicken Spaghetti

I just think that America is lacking family dinners.  I think sitting around a dinner table is no longer a standard format – and while I know sometimes, it can’t be helped, I just think it should be the rule rather than the exception to eat dinner with the family.  All of these recipes are crazy easy and don’t take a lot of time or weird ingredients.  Throw a side or two with any of them (or not! we’re not a big side-dish family), and you’ve got a great reason to sit around a table and learn your family again. ::dismounts judgemental soapbox::

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Fluffy Filler (Now with More Pictures!)

Looking back, I should’ve taken a week off before jumping into another project.  I should’ve taken some time for me, some time with nothing to do, some time to get life back in order.  Because now?  I’m looking ahead to Christmas 2011 wistfully, when my next paid time off will roll around.  I WILL NOT WORK ANOTHER CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY, OH HELL NO. (Unless you pay me.)

Because I don’t have a lot to talk about today, or really because I do have a lot to talk about but I don’t have it flushed out yet, I’m stealing an idea from Linda and posting a picture wrap-up.  This 365 Project is still happening, although most days, I feel completely drained by trying to find something artistic and lovely to take a picture of.  So 99% of my pictures are probably of Tony as we play outside after school.

So I’ll try and spare you eight hundred pictures of him riding his bike, is what I’m saying.

If you follow me on Twitter, this was the SURPRISE SCIENCE PROJECT THAT WE'VE HAD FOR TWO WEEKS due tomorrow!

Aunt Jenni MADE these for Tony's Valentine's Day party.

This was in the pocket of a hand-me-down coat; we have dubbed him Ninja Jesus.

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Lady Etiquette in the Ladies’ Room

Pregnancy cured me of most of it, but I’ve lived my life in fear of public/shared restrooms.  I don’t like sounds, smells, or other evidence attributed to my being there.  I seriously (again, before pregnancy) had never EVER used a work restroom to do anything other than pee.  I KID YOU NOT – I WOULD DRIVE HOME IF NATURE CALLED FOR MORE DETERMINED REASONS.

Well, like I said, pregnancy put a lot of my pride on hold.

But I still am weird about restrooms.  I know this because my family tells me.  Everytime I shoot Bryan the look of We need to go home soon, he will sigh with exasperation because it’s not as easy to pack up two kids just because Momma’s gotta shoo-shoo.  You know?

There are some rules that I believe apply to the use of the public/shared restrooms, and I’m ALWAYS ASTOUNDED that people don’t follow them.

Skip a stall.  If you’re in a restroom that has multiple stalls, and I’m the only one in a stall, DON’T PICK THE ONE NEXT TO ME.  I need breathing room, yo. 

Conversations do not happen while I’m peeing.  I’ll happily talk to you as we stroll in, as we stake our territorial claim, but the minute my pants are removed, can we cut the chit-chat?  I have to focus.

Be a magician: make it all disappear.  I borrowed this from Bryan’s place of work because it so cutely sums up a totally disgusting issue.  FLUSH THE DAMN TOILET.  I have three boys at home and they all HAVE BETTER HOME TRAINING than some of these people.

We all have voicemail for a reason. If your phone rings while we are both using the facilities, hopefully in our well-spaced separate stalls, LET IT GO TO VOICEMAIL.  If you answer it, I will be torn between not flushing the toilet to avoid you the embarrassment of letting your friend know that you’re TALKING TO THEM FROM A TOILET or flushing a gazillion times to SHAME YOU INTO LEARNING BETTER TRAINING.

I don’t know how I feel about toilet seat covers, but you leaving them behind makes me wish you contract horrible STDs or whatever you think you’ll catch on a shared toilet seat.  Seriously, you know what is also gross about shared toilet seats?  When the GERMAPHOBE who used the seat last didn’t care enough to remove their used ass-condom.

I know I can’t be the only person who has thought about this.  What other behavior turns your nose up in a shared restroom?

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On Raising Boys

I’m not sure the right way to go about writing this.  It’s something that’s sat heavily with me for weeks now, as I’ve watched it unfold and I’ve wondered what the right answer is.  Of course, I knew I’d eventually turn to the masses for suggestions, but I had to wonder: is writing this insulting the boy my son is growing in to?

Both of our boys are sensitive, emotional children.  Jack (10 years) is your typical rough-and-tumble boy.  He loves sports, he plays video games, and he looks like Opie. (I’m sorry, but he does.  It’s one of my FAVORITE things about him.) He’s also an incredibly big-hearted boy, naturally empathetic and caring.  He’s a great big brother.

Tony (3) is very much the same emotional child.  Incredibly sensitive, he’ll be the first to ask “What’s wrong?” if you’re not smiling.  His emotions are deeply tied to those around him.  He’s also, you know, THREE.  He loves to kick the ball and run and jump and all those things too.  Boys will be boys and that nonsense.

When Tony moved up into the next class at daycare, his former teacher hugged him hard and said, “Don’t you let (Kid A) and (Kid B) push you around up there, okay?”  Which was, you know, sweet and terrifying at the same time.  Kids are pushing MY kid around? 

::deep breath:: Don’t be a Momma Bear, Sarah.  Free Range Parenting, Sarah. ::deep breath::

Tony’s been coming home repeatedly with stories about the boys in his class .. his friends, mind you .. hitting him or pushing him down.  And, to an extent, I let it go.  Boys will be boys.  Also, my child has my grace and will trip over gravity and then try and blame the rotation of the earth for it.  But I pulled up yesterday to watch his class playing outside without anyone seeing me.  And I watched the little microcosm of their world.  And I didn’t like it.

The boys in his class would take whatever he had from him.  He’d let them, wide-eyed and hurt.  They’d knock him over and he’d let them.  He’d stare at them, not understanding why they were acting that way, and they’d scurry off.  It happened repeatedly.  He played with no one as a result.  Kept to himself because it was safer that way.

He asked me last week, “We don’t hit anybody, right, Momma?”

No, honey.  We don’t hit anyone.  Because we are nice to everyone.

“What about bad guys?”

Well, there aren’t a lot of bad guys out there, bud.  And if there ARE bad guys, that’s why we have policemen and army men and teachers.  They help us fight the bad guys.

“And sometimes, they just need a hug, right?”

You got it, buddy.

And this conversation just pinballed through my mind yesterday as I watched this.  My child, the one who would rather take ballet than soccer, who loudly proclaims pink as his favorite color, the one who tends to his stuffed animals over his action figures.. am I doing him a disservice?  Am I teaching him to be a pacifist or to just be passive?

Clearly, I see nothing wrong with how he is.  I love his big heart and his compassion.  I love how he’s his own kid and doesn’t really care.  But .. I don’t know.  It scares the hell out of me. 

And I don’t know how not to let it.

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The Superficial Me

I’ve written before about how oddly my skin has been behaving for almost a year now.  It started last summer and has gotten progressively worse, now spreading to a pox-like cover on my forehead and chin.  There are painful infections.  And I have no idea why.

I’m this*close to seeing a dermatologist, but I’m more terrified that he’s going to tell me something completely palm-to-forehead obvious that I’d neglected to notice the whole time, like my allergy to water or something. (No, seriously, it is a real thing and yes, I have it.) I’m terrified that I’m going to get an appointment to see this specialist, and he’ll be like, “Duh, Sarah, x-y-z,” and he’ll chuckle and I’ll feel sheepish and he’ll report my stupidity to my insurance and then they’ll drop me for a pre-existing condition, that being IDIOCY.

(I know none of this will happen.)

But in order to nullify any possibility, I’m going to start from scratch.  I’m purposefully not washing my face or using any facial products for a week .. maybe longer .. so I can make sure there is NOTHING in my skin care arsenal that is causing this issue.  Which means .. no makeup.

I’m trying to be okay with that.  I’m not an overly made-up person anyhow, but when I wear NOTHING people ask me all day if I’m feeling okay.  And thanks, I was feeling okay until you reminded me how corpse-like I look.

I just miss my good skin.  I will happily look like Death Becomes Her for a week if it will bring back my porcelain mask.  I promise to never tan again, too!  Please, Santy Claus, whatever it takes.  My ultimate final step is to have my IUD removed (TMI!) because I’m wondering if the hormones in that is throwing my body off balance.  But that also would involve a certain snippy decision in my marriage that I’m not sure we’re ready to tackle yet.

***

For the first time in a long while, I’m actively trying to lose weight.  Not tone up, not firm up, not even for health reasons: JUST DROP POUNDS. 

For years, when I’ve tried a new exercise program, I’ve had these amazingly lofty reasons for doing so.  “I want to be a good role model for my children” and “I want to be able to keep up with the boys” and even the less lofty “I want to run a 5K”.  These are lovely reasons for wanting to exercise.  They are none of why I’m doing what I’m doing.

I want to be considered for sexier stuff onstage.

Yeah, I know.

Maybe not sexier, but .. not .. mom stuff?  I don’t know what I’m saying here, but it boils down to this: when I look ahead at the next season onstage here locally, the stuff that I’d be interested in doing is racier.  I need to look not .. as .. frumpy.  I need to be more sleek.  More streamlined.  I need to pull a Six Sigma workshop on my BODY.

And that IS THE STUPIDEST REASON EVER TO LOSE WEIGHT.  And yet.

30 lbs by August in my plan.

***

This year is my second season announcing for our local derby team, the Dixie Derby Girls, and I stopped by their fundraiser some weeks back to have my headshot done.  The league photographer is quite amazing, and he happened to get some shots of me that were just out of this world good.  So because I’m being superficial, I’ll show them to you  here.

Also, keep in mind that my skin is NOT this pretty.  Editing is a godsend.

I KNOW, RIGHT?  And yet, all I can think when I look at these is Man, they’d be so much prettier if I was just 30 lbs thinner.  SUPERFICIALITY IS SUCH A PAIN IN MY SIDE.

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