Lua’i

It was a normal day.

Heading to our niece’s birthday party, we were ALMOST there when the toddler started throwing up. Our eight year old was sitting next to her and gagged and puffed out her cheeks and turned towards her older sister. Monty Python came instantly to mind.

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Accurate Squash Recreation

Screeching halt. Older children pile out of the car. Clean up is spotty and Mcguyvered from a Target bag, napkins of various origin, and an old water bottle from under the drivers seat. How long it’d been there I have no idea, but maybe the leached out phthalates would have a disinfecting property. I have my doubts, but beggars and choosers and all.

Once we’re at the party the toddler gets a bath because of Puke Hair and we chalk it up to a long car ride after a lunch of raspberries and cheese cubes.

It wasn’t the car ride.

After having to borrow not one but two teeshirts for myself from my sister in law, no extra clothes remaining for the toddler, and the other brother and sister in law vowing to take the older girls home later- my husband and I set off for home, over an hour away. Me in the back seat (puked on again at this point, but I’m not asking for shoes this time for Christ’s sake) holding a towel around the baby, and we’re trying to navigate by memory through the neighborhood.

And that’s when this happens.

“Did we take a left on Kaanapali Ln. or was it Kipahulu Dr.?”

“No, no, left on Manawianui Dr., right on Moku Manu Dr., and then another right on Heleakalaka Dr.”

“Man, I don’t recognize Keanahululu Ln., I think we went to far.”

“Does Lamaloa Ln. run into Nuuanu Dr., you think?”

“Crap! There’s Keanahululu Ln. again!”

That’s right, on top of everything else we were now lost in Tahitian Village in Bastrop, where all the streets have Hawaiian names! LONG and difficult and inexplicable Hawaiian names- none of which is “Aloha.” (Someone tell the developer Tahiti isn’t Hawaii)

THIS SHIT ACTUALLY HAPPENED IN MY LIFE.

(We made it out of the neighborhood and the toddler was fine the next day, but it was a confusing and puke filled commute. Commpuke? Maybe. And if you think for a MINUTE that I didn’t google map the neighborhood so I could use accurate street names you don’t know me very well.)

A Vow of Cake

We had our middle daughter’s 8th birthday party yesterday at noon. And so when 10:17am rolled around and my husband and I were in bed and instead of getting up he pulled the covers over his head I was so, so proud of him. And I then enthusiastically joined him under the covers. It’s like a fort of delayed obligations… I recommend it. (Yes we still have a baby around. We got up at 6:30am with her and then crawled back in bed at 9:30am when she went down for a nap.)

Now, the house had been cleaned, food bought, and the cake baked the night before- we’re not total monsters over here. But what were the first 2 things I did upon finally getting up and getting ready at 10:30am? Winged eyeliner (HEY I’VE NEVER TRIED THIS BEFORE SURE SEEMS LIKE A GOOD TIME FOR IT) and painting my toenails. THIS is what happens when I don’t make a list, for god’s sake.

We got everything done by 11:54am though, so it all worked out.

And I think we can all agree that cake is the worst. Not mine, I make decent cake- I just mean in general.  Icing is gross. And even the best cake is just nuthin’ special. I don’t tie up a lot of pride in my baking- but I made a promise, many many years ago that I would make every one of my children’s birthday cakes. And they get to pick whatever kind of cake they want. Shark cake? plastic sharks on top. Giraffe cake? Plastic giraffes on top. Dolphin cake? You see where I’m going with this, I think. And I have made each and every one and did it with the hand mixer I bought at a Big Lots at 18 before I left for college and that has somehow made it through about a MILLION moves and that I actually don’t think I used, ever, until I started making my kid’s birthday cakes.

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Image by C. Glass… half full? Half empty? if I was that photographer I’d go by my full first name, honestly.

It’s a weird promise to have made, and I made it only to myself- but it absolutely stands in as a symbol of the mom I want to be. It stands in as a succinct version of all of this- rolled up in my head.

  • I promise to be the mom that can make you dinner.
  • and make you laugh and to also make sure your sense of humor is top tier.
  •  to mend your clothes and sew on buttons and who can make curtains if I have to and gives you a clean house to live in.
  • I promise to call you outside to see possums and hawks and birds and snakes. And point out the biggest earthworm I’ve ever seen in my life holy hell that thing is HUGE!
  • I promise to impart upon you a concept of self that is more than to be decorative.
  • But also to let you see that being a feminist badass doesn’t mean having to deny one iota of the nurturing that goes into home cooked dinners or mending or you know. Cake baking.
  • I promise to give you a chore each and every time you say “I’m bored” and that you’ll get to a point where you’ll open your eyes wide in horror after you say it and say “NEVERMIND, NEVERMIND!” and run off to your room to do something creative.
  • I promise to make you play on at least one team in your life.
  • But I also promise to not overbook you because free time is important to kids, and also your father and I like sleeping in on Saturdays.
  • I promise you’ll love reading.
  • And hell no you can’t get a phone!
  • And I promise to sing you a song at night as often as I can and you know what? You’re 10 and 8. I really should just do it EVERY night still, because how much longer will you even let me? But the baby still gets the Silent Night treatment every night.
  • I promise to have National Geographic in the bathroom and that it’s totally cool if you drop them in the bath, I’m just glad you’re reading them. (hasn’t happened yet, but they’re in there for y’all. Ready for whenever you pick one up.)
  • And while I’ll bake your birthday cake, I promise to never get tied up in the Pinterest-y competition between moms and do all the stupid other crap that isn’t for the kid who’s birthday it is, but to show off for the other moms. I’m looking at you, mom who prints labels saying “Caitlin’s Birthday!” for the goddamn water bottles.
  • Also? No goodie bags, ever. Though we did give out whoopee cushions that one memorable time. That was awesome.

And so, I will continue to make birthday cake, every year, three times a year and neither rain nor snow nor heat nor gloom of night will stay this faithful courier from the swift completion of her appointed rounds.

And the only other promise I’ve made myself that I have never ever once wavered on? No more tequila. Super committed to both. Make kids’ birthday cakes and no more tequila.

Words to live by.

Of Lice and Zen

Crap.

So yesterday our oldest put her pet mice (named Almond and Honey) on her shoulder and I cracked a joke about “Oh no! You have head-mice!” She laughed. I didn’t- because holy hell. When was the last time I checked your head for actual lice?!

She didn’t have any. Her sister did though. F*****CK!

So it’s laborious nit picking around here. It’s dousing a small little head in burning lice shampoo made out of flowers. Think I’m making that up? The main ingredient in Rid is pyrethrum, made from chrysanthemum blossoms.

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Flowers of louse-y death. 

“A Chrysanthemum by any other name would also totally reek.” These aren’t roses, but it’s not the very worst smell out there.

And so there will be much laundry and bagging up of stuffed animals, and weeks of staying on top of it… hours a night on nit checks. But, it’s an opportunity to sit and talk for uninterrupted time with my child. And besides, all I want is for her to feel better and to take care of this for her- it’s never had me angry or frazzled or super stressed out about whenever we’ve had to deal with lice. There is nothing to be done except slow waaaaaay down and invest the time to fix it. And that isn’t a bad thing, actually- the brakes getting thrown on life sometimes. So, I know it makes for a zippy title, but it is true, I do get quite zen about it.

And so I’ll go through the next few weeks with hands that smell faintly of flowers of death, which makes me feel like a minor Hindu deity in the Indian pantheon. And that isn’t a bad thing either, actually.

I will try to grab those silver linings as they race by, whenever I can…

Of Possums and Raspberries

I called the girls out the other night to see a possum that ran across the street and hid under my husbands 4Runner while I was taking the recycling out. They loved it. Crouched down, shining a flashlight under the car while they talked about all they had learned about possums from the Wild Kratts episode. (good PBS show about animals. 10/10)

Here is what they decided about the possum:

  1. Her name is Nosey.
  2. She is the cutest possum they’ve ever seeeeeeen! (Beauty. Eye. Beholder.)
  3. They gave her raspberries for Valentine’s Day gifts.
  4. They are planning on naming the next possum “Feet.” (…? Man, don’t ask me.)

 

Boy I tell you what… I love these lovely children.

 

The Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipe Ever

You know, the only soup I’ve ever had at a wedding has been Menudo, but I dig the concept. And I forget exactly where I first read about Italian Wedding Soup, but I do remember why it piqued my interest. The article I was reading was written by some mother who mentioned this soup was her daughter’s favorite and the prepackaged brand she bought was discontinued and she didn’t know what she was going to do. DIDN’T KNOW WHAT SHE WAS GOING TO DO. Sheesh. That reminds me of stories about people getting trapped on escalators because they stop moving or people who are locked out of their car because their key fob batteries died. Are we that helpless, humanity? Make the soup yourself, that’s what you’re going to do.

The mix of beef and chicken broth adds depth to the soup and means you’re getting beef, pork, and chicken in this meal. Making it like a Turduckin… in no way whatsoever. And maybe double the meatballs and freeze them after you brown them- that’d be a nice jump on the next batch of soup or you could finish cooking them and toss them in pasta for a quickie meal down the road. Also? Some people drizzle beaten egg in this for egg streamers like in Egg Drop Soup. I like my eggs in birthday cake, so I don’t do that.

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Refrigerate meatballs for 1 hour prior to cooking
Cooking Tine: 45 minutes

For Meatballs:
Not exact science here- mix ratios till the meatballs stick together. For this soup the smaller you can get the meatballs the better; I aim for large blueberry sized, myself but usually end up at gumball sized.

1.5 lbs. ground pork
1 egg
2 tbsp. milk
4 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
½ tsp. salt
Pepper to taste (around 1/3 tsp.)
¼ finely chopped onion

For Soup:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
2 cups thinly sliced kale
1 cup cooked Israeli couscous (orzo or other small pasta as a sub)
2/3 cup finely chopped carrot

Garnish with grated Parmesan

Mix ground pork, egg, milk, grated Parmesan, onion, garlic, salt and pepper together well in a large bowl until evenly mixed. Form into small meatballs, place on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for an hour. (This keeps them from falling apart when you brown them)

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in large pot. Add meatballs in batches (don’t crowd the pot or else they steam and don’t brown) turning regularly to brown all sides. Remove to a clean bowl or platter. Or plate. Just not the contaminated with raw pork bowl you used earlier is what I’m saying. Once all meatballs are browned and removed from pot add chopped carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add broth, scraping the bottom to loosen the browned bits (they add mucho flavor) and add kale. Simmer for 30 minutes

In a separate pot cook the Israeli couscous or small pasta. Set aside (Yes. I know. Israeli couscous in Italian soup? That’s the Diaspora for you.) Tradition calls for a small, round pasta I’ve never ever found in stores anywhere, but Israeli couscous looks awfully similar to my eye, and was conveniently in my pantry already. Any small pasta will do though, orzo, stars, etc. Just cook it separately or it will suck up too much of the broth as it cooks. Also store it separately or it’ll get mushy and ruin any leftovers.

For the last 15 minutes of cooking add the browned meatballs back to the soup and continue to simmer.

Fluff the Israeli couscous or drain the pasta then add desired amount to individual bowls. Ladle in soup and top with more grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!