Parenting Lesson #3,452

If you let your toddler play with an old (clean. unused. I’m no monster) dog dish outside she will forever after be picking the one up inside and pouring it out on the floor.

Toddlers loving pouring stuff on the floor.

I regret my decision.

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The Occasional Random Word Post: Shape

That seems unfair, Random Word Generator. Like. On the nose unfair. Random Word= SHAPE. Insert round is a shape joke here.

Truth is, I’m not round is a shape. 149lbs for 5’7 is still 9 pounds within the ideal range of 121 to 158lbs. Squeaking by, but good enough for a Liberal Arts diploma, you dig? (I would know, wouldn’t I?) Nope. Tell it to my Ukrainian Endocronologist. Who also is a metabolism and diabetes specialist. Here I went in to get my thyroid medication level checked and slightly adjusted and an hour later I’m mid lecture about how I’m becoming insulin resistant and phrases such as “as we get older” and “no more flour tortillas” and “all the lettuce you could want” are getting bandied about WAYYYY to liberally for my taste. (My taste runs towards flour tortillas.) And I have to lose 10 pounds. Which I wanted to do, aesthetically, but to have to do it for medical reasons feels much different. Shittier different.

So here I am. While the shape was never really the issue, per se, it was, I believe, a firmness issue. See… I’ve become SUPER sedentary. I used to be a bit of a hardbody in my youth, what with full contact karate  twice a week and distance biking 3 times a week… and even when I went to college I was able to maintain hard abs and thigh muscles of a size that made fitting pants tricky through no effort. But that muscle tone? So long gone, and I for one blame the children. I think that lack of muscle and the level-of-movement-of-a-knick-knack lifestyle is the issue really. So while it’s 10 lbs to lose it’s really a muscle to gain thing I think. Plus actually losing 10 lbs.

Plus the thing about no more bananas. Or sugar. Or watermelon. Or yogurt. Or beer. Or bread. Or mangos (which have an undertone of garbage- so no issue there).

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Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.    (Image by Pat Herman)

Supposedly no flour tortillas or potatoes. Does my doctor know she’s talking to a Viva La Raza Irish chick? I’m a rule follower in general, but cutting down on those is going to have to be good enough. She’s Ukrainian. She’ll understand my Orange Revolution on those two. Hmmm… how many carbs in oranges? *typing sounds* And no more god damn oranges either unless I add THOSE to the dietary Orange Revolution… and frankly I think that’s almost required, really. So minimal flour tortillas, potatoes, and oranges- this I pledge.

Turns out my diet was about 86% carbs, so cutting them out actually gave me the “low carb flu” that felt, I assume, what withdrawal from heroin feels like. I’ve added some carbs back- but it’s a slippery slope of “I’ll just have one” or “I’ve been so good I deserve a reward” turning into full on former eating habits… sigh. I’ve lost, bouncing around, about 5 pounds so far. I worked out for the first time in hmmm- checks watch to see what decade it is– a long time. And I’m trying. Work to go. But there is all this life to be around for. And that’s the issue.

It rocked my world more than tweaking a fairly healthy existence should. Because it meant more than my shape. It meant health stuff. And me no like the health-stuff concerns. Having recently gone through a health-stuff loss and having family going through serious health-stuff currently it’s all just a little to close. But just because I have a toddler in diapers doesn’t mean I’m not getting older. How often have I said or thought “I’m too old for this shit?” ala  Roger Murtaugh. Well turns out that’s literally becoming true. Tell me what you joke about, and I’ll tell you what you are.

Anyway. Also found out I have the genetic markers for heart issues making me 5+ times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke and excessive inflammation and other scary things. But jesus, we all die of something- is it weird that scares me way less than the insulin resistance thing? As long as my heart doesn’t go before the catastrophic porch swing accident at 93 while holding my 98 year old’s husband’s hand … well then I should be fine. 37 years down. 56 to go.

Wish me luck.

 

 Other odd details not directly pertaining to the narrative here:

I measured at 5’5″ the first time I was at the endocrinologist. Was like WHAT THE FUCK I”M 5’7″ AND ITS INTEGRAL TO MY IDENTITY. Had myself measured at the chiropractor… 5’7 and 1/4″. Measured the next time at the endocronologist: 5′ 6″. NONE OF THESE SCALES ARE DIGITAL WHAT IS GOING ON?! I’m god damn 5’7″ and that’s final. I’ll be making them take my height again on Wednesday when I go back.

My doctor told me my thyroid medication levels were too high due to my height and weight, but my height is measuring wrong at your twilight zone of an office so what do we do now?

My blood work results were NINE pages long and went into genetic stuff and vitamin deficiencies. I now take COQ10 (whateverthefuckthatis), Fish oil supplements, Vitamin D, Vitamin A (whateverthefuckthatis), Sour Cherry Extract (whateverthefuckthatis) and I SWORE I’d be a “I get my vitamins from leafy greens” type of person and not a “I take handfuls of vitamins” type of person like somebody’s mother, but look at me now.

And my regular hypothyroidism has morphed into Hashimodo’s type hypothyroidism and I for one and glad someone with a cool name discovered that one. *Casts pitying glance at the folks with Asbergers*

 

Linking up with Fake Fabulous HERE

 

Stupid Complex but Easy BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

So much, amiright? Yes this has 2 sauces involved, I know, I KNOW- but it’s so good! And let’s face it, bbq chicken sandwiches can be a bit one note- the garlicky white sauce adds such a step up here- and that sauce is so easy and awesome on other things… most notably fries dipped right into it. And no, I am not one of those European weirdos who eats fries with mayo. (World War Ewwww raging with that one.)

And look- this should really be your very simple pantry staple meal. You’re not even cooking a chicken! It’s rotisserie! And while I know that’s a lot of different ingredients I’d really recommend having mustard, bbq sauce, rice wine vinegar (the very best vinegar, really. Screw that dye heavy, overpower-everything balsamic) soy sauce, garlic… you get where I’m going here right? Have staples and you’ll be cooking. I can’t. I can’t let such a bad and unimaginative pun stand. Now I can’t think of anything else. Oh well. You quality staples buy. Good food makey makey.

As for the coleslaw… I buy prepackaged. I usually add rice wine vinegar (I SWEAR the rice wine vinegar cartel hasn’t threatened my family over here) since I find the packaged sauce too sweet usually. Serve it as a side and add some to the sandwiches. Is good.

rice vin

One Vinegar to rule them all, one Vinegar to find them, One Vinegar to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. 

Shredded BBQ Chicken
½ rotisserie chicken meat- shredded or cut into small pieces. Good way to maximize all of the … carcass is the only word here, but wasn’t one I necessarily wanted to use…
Sweet BBQ sauce
Rice wine vinegar
Yellow mustard
Water
Pepper

Combine in saucepan and heat through

White sauce
1/3 to 1/2 Mayo
Pinch sugar
Lots of black pepper
Splash rice wine vinegar
Splash soy sauce
Small handful chopped parsley
1 clove garlic through garlic press
(combine and refrigerate for 1-2 hours)

Serve with

Sliced pickles
Small dinner or Hawaiian rolls, cut in half and toasted
Coleslaw

Toast rolls at 350 degrees in the oven for a few minutes. Slather one side of toasted rolls in white sauce, pile on bbq chicken, add sliced pickles and/or coleslaw and enjoy!

(Kids like it too. Don’t let them see you put the white sauce on, but don’t omit it- you’re developing their palates whether they know/like it or not)

Loss

It doesn’t feel like real loss. Not yet.

Please know, I’d have shed the tears (borrowed from that future when it finally hits home) at your funeral, if I could have.
Would that have honored more than their lack?
I meant no disrespect.

But even facing you then the loss didn’t hit home. 
What did CS Lewis say? “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body.” And the loss is not a loss, because the body was just a body, I guess.

Perhaps when my mind is not set on being strong for my children, as my husband and I hold them tight and lead them through their grief, the loss will finally feel like loss, fully.

And yet… I move underwater the first time I am back in a grocery store.
I wish for Victorian mourning clothes.
So cashiers can stop asking me how my weekend was or if I’m having a nice day.
So that the black full skirt and pleated bodice and high neck would tell them all they need to know.
So instead of the chitchat they could grab my forearm briefly and squeeze it. And say nothing.

The world is fast and bustling and makes me want to go back and not honk at all the people who were too slow to accelerate when the light turns green.
I bet they were grieving.
I bet.

My loss is not a loss.
Not yet.
My loss is an idea, hurtling towards my reality.

 

 

 

The world lost a good man recently and his loss is all our loss.

Roast Chicken

 

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So Pretty!

Something about the words “roast chicken” bring to mind table fare of a bygone age. Mother in pearls. Kids playing stickball. Fedoras and credenzas and communist fear along with rampant sexism and racism… you know. The past! (What- you expected rose colors glasses out of an anthropologist with a minor in history? Pashaw.)

This is a delicious and succulent chicken that takes less effort than any chicken breast dish I make and costs half as much… and tastes twice as good! Why aren’t we making this, as a people, weekly!? I’ll tell you why. Bones. I used to be like that too: squeamish of skin and bones and animal-ish stuff.  But it’s time we got over our squeamishness and grabbed life by the pope’s nose!*

And there are an absolute multitude of roast chicken recipes out there; with herbs and spices and lemons wedged into the cavity… and that sure does sound like me, right? But nope. Not this time. A roasted chicken doesn’t need any of it. While chicken breast can be bland with just some salt and pepper, a roasted chicken is brought to perfection with just those two seasoning. It’s so damn easy too. Get it set up in the pan and then don’t touch it again. It’s a great I’ll-be-quasi-napping-on-the-couch-while-actively-cooking-dinner dinner.

2-3 lb whole chicken, thawed
Coarse sea salt
Ground pepper

Rinse of your chicken, inside and out. If this is your first time doing this be forewarned that the neck and gizzards are in the cavity. You don’t want to drop the neck down the garbage disposal and then have to fish it out with your hands like I always seem to find myself doing. I generally discard the neck and gizzards. I know some people make gravy by boiling all of those, but a far superior gravy can be made from pan drippings, so don’t bother. Once your chicken is rinsed, make sure it is very dry, inside and out, by drying with paper towels. The less liquid, the less steam, the crispier your skin will be. The chicken’s skin. You know what I mean.

Once the chicken is dry, place breast side up in the center of a metal baking dish with sides. Sprinkle the entire bird with the salt and pepper, inside and out and be generous. Bake at 475 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on size of your chicken or until temperature reached 165 degrees.(I never measure this myself. I just tilt the chicken and check for clear fluids to run out.)

Why such a high heat? You’re looking for a dry cooking method here- no steaming, so it’s high heat and no basting or opening the oven a bunch of times!
Let rest for 15 minutes and enjoy!

*part of the chicken. By the butt.

(I have more to talk about. A riot of words and feelings and loss… but the day for that is not this day.)

It’s really the easiest of choices, Sweetheart

Our oldest has been moody lately. Distracted. Preoccupied. I chalked it up to upcoming tween years, but was keeping an extra eye on her as well. She’s a sensitive one, this child. Quite introspective- and so I thought, perhaps, something had been bothering her.

Last night, as I helped her pick out an outfit for her awards ceremony today at school and spent some one-on-one time with her it finally came out. There had been something bothering her.

In one of her books a father had to make a choice, save his son playing on train-tracks, or crash the train barreling towards the son but killing the hundreds of passengers onboard. He chose to save the train. (And WHAT THE F*CK, young adult authors?! A Bridge to Taribithia, Ol’ Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, the goddamn Lion King (a movie, but still), this shit… they’d be safer reading Douglas Adams and Tom Clancy!)

And so I found that the root of her issue lately has been the thought of that father’s choice keeping her up. She hasn’t been sleeping well. She’s wondering about the worth of a life/ her life, could a parent choose someone else over their own child, and what’s right when both choices are bad… life’s hard sometimes, my child, but this one is easy. I told her the god’s honest truth- that the world could burn for all I care, I would always choose to save her and her sisters.

She slept well last night.

Cooking with Toddlers

Last night I documented (for posterity and anyone considering having a third child) what cooking with a toddler is like.

This first picture is 10 minutes into cooking. I was able to focus and so was able to pound chicken breasts (tenderize and flatten) and get them in the griddle pan and snap the green beans. What’s my secret? Ye old blind eye.

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1,000 piece puzzle in an even film over entire house.

2 seconds later…

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999 piece puzzle

2 seconds later…

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I promise dinner will taste better than puzzle if you just give me a few more minutes, sweet child.

Negative time later… think we moved backwards 5 minutes. Time concepts get hazy in the kitchen wormhole.

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NOT THE SANDWICH BAGS, STAAP!

Time sense totally gone by now. Me revert back to primitive, pre-civilization time concepts. Somewhere between setting of bright sky ball and earth mother sleep in blanket of darkness later…

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Insert soundtrack of desperately sad and hungry toddler crying here.

If it was only 10 minutes later how did I age 3 years?

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YOU’RE F-ING WELCOME

Did I mention she woke up at 4:30am today? She woke up at 4:30am today.

Good thing she’s cute.

Of Hair Clips and Heart Attacks

I really don’t think I’ll ever buy brown hair clips again.

Maybe neon green. Or purple. Because this…

1

Innocent brown hair clip

Looks EXACTLY like this from anything over 3′ away.

6e83c81a6d179c05d9b72348ae5b969b

AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

And as proof….

Floor

AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH….oh.

Or blue? Blue hair clips wouldn’t give me the twice weekly heart attack.

It was a beautiful day…

My husband and I were sitting in the backyard last weekend and noticed a black swallowtail butterfly flit around the potted plants. I told my husband it had been doing it for hours and when I went over and checked the parsley I called him over to see- a newly laid butterfly egg! And look- there is another, and another!

Did he reply with wonderment at the beauty of nature? Or with wonderment at me and my insanely good eyesight and perceptivity? Yes, that last one… kinda. What he said was something to the effect of: Picking nits from the past few lice incidents has really paid off! Well. Yes. I guess it has, my love. I guess it has.

 

Occasional Recipe Post: Chicken Piccata Plus

Why the “Plus?” Because sure, this is a piccata in that it’s got a sauce of butter, lemon, and capers, but it also has tomatoes and green olives too, and if you think that’s weird well just you… hey! WAIT, okay? I promise it’s good! And it’s my 10 year old’s favorite meal! And her friends down the street who said they didn’t like olives liked it too! I PROMISE you need to give this one a shot.

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Olive Tree. I was actually looking for an olive image to include here but I like this composition- think I’ll try to paint it… brb.

There is a lot of sauce in this one, so serve this with a nice big pile o’ carbs- I suggest rice, myself. But a bunch of crusty bread or maybe noodles would be good too. Not potatoes though, I can’t really see that.

And I was about to write “4 chicken breasts” in the ingredients, but honestly pretty soon that’d mean 10 pounds of meat! The size of these chicken breasts these days… I’d be terrified of what those chickens must actually look like if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve seen turkeys before. The truth is I usually just use two chicken breasts, pounded to ½ an inch thick and cut into 2 or 3 pieces each and it’ll feed my family of five with some left over. And that’s plenty because it’s not just the chicken breast sizes that have gotten out of hand; it’s our portion sizes too. A serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards- not a file folder, and a bowl should hold about a cup of something, not those serving platters they give us in restaurants these days! Lord, I could talk forever on this one… it’ll be plenty and just round out your plate with a few carbs and a big salad. You’ll live longer for it. Promise.*

2-3 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2in thick and cut into 2-3 pieces each
½ cup flour
1 lemon- juiced (reserve) and then slice peel into strips
1 Tablespoon capers
¼ cup good green olives, sliced (I buy whole olives in jars and slice myself. I like the pimento stuffed for this)
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, crushed and rough chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth or mixture of ½ chicken broth and half white wine)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt
Black Pepper
Paprika
Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

1 cup white rice or noodles, cooked separately. You should start on that before you start on the chicken.

Pound chicken to ½” and cut into reasonable serving sizes and season both sides with salt and pepper. Mix flour and paprika on a plate and dredge chicken on all sides, shaking off excess and set aside. Heat oil and butter over medium/high heat until hot. Add chicken pieces and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per. Add garlic, tomatoes, capers and olives, cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth or broth/wine mixture along with lemon juice and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. Liquid should come up ½ to ¾ of the way up the chicken in the pan… add more if needed. Top chicken pieces with slices of lemon peel. Cover the pan and reduce heat. Simmer for 10-5 minutes or until chicken is done.

Serve over rice and pour plenty of sauce mixture over the chicken. Top with fresh parsley. And while you could eat the lemon peels I usually don’t. I do serve it on the plate though. It looks purdy.

 

*Promise of longer life contingent on no cave scuba diving.