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.

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!

On The Past Self

I remember a few years ago there was an impromptu reunion from my graduating class at Wurstfest (roll with me here- it’s a sausage festival in my hometown. It’s kinda a big deal round these parts). Now, I was there that evening because my husband and I had worked at my family’s booth at the festival. And we happened to walk through the area where this reunion was to be held for various reasons, none of which was that I wanted to be there.

At one point I heard my maiden name called really loudly. Excitedly. I might have even recognized the voice. Did I turn around and greet an old friend or classmate? Hell no I didn’t. My instinct was to drop my head into my shoulders and pick up the pace out of there.

I’ve thought about this over the years- why that’s my default reaction to that time and people. I’m proud of who I am now. Of my husband. Of my life. But the thought of looking someone in the face and having them see me with eyes that only recognize who I was back then… I find the whole concept unbearable. I used to laugh and say I hated everyone I went to high school with. That I hated the school and this town. But that’s the easy answer. The glib answer. The incorrect one. The truth is it wasn’t all of them I hated. (Some? Yes. Most? Yes. All? Probably not, I guess)

Because I was me, this me, this 37 year old me trapped inside back then. It was like I was an egg, and the shell (breaking out of your shell- never heard that analogy before, woman! Uninventive but apt- bear with me here)– the shell was this confidence lacking awkward person who hadn’t learned to laugh at herself or life yet. For it to be such an integral part of my life now it is weird that I didn’t have humor on the radar even until I was most of the way through my senior year. But… I was this me inside. And let me tell you it’s a very odd feeling to not know how to be you. I got there eventually, but it was a mostly uncomfortable time for me.

feather

And so, I want nothing to do with the people who remember the egg. For fear they won’t see the feathers I’ve grown in the years since? For fear there aren’t as many feathers as I think? Maybe.

Or maybe they really do all suck and I’m overthinking this. That could be it too.

But here’s my point- for my children I want nothing more than to make life easier for them. AND YET, it’s the difficult parts of my own life that made me who I am today. How do I weigh what is good for them against what is better for them? All the while knowing not everyone makes it out of difficult situations the same way I did?

All the baby books talk about breast milk vs. formula, or cosleeping vs. cribs… someone needs to write about the vastly more tricky parental decision of weighing character building vs. mental anguish protection for our children. I’d read it.

Nature vs nurture has nothing on establishing backbone vs. hardships unknown lemme tell ya.

 

Lord.

So, in the prep for hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year I busted out the steamer mop and gave the living room/kitchen/dining room a once over. Later, I glanced at the 11 month old (wait. what? That was fast- life is just a quick sprint to the grave once you start having kids- I SWEAR.) while she was sitting on the floor and I snatched her up with a gasp while saying “What did you spill? Or did you pee? Why are your pants …dry.” Because I thought she was sitting in a puddle of water. What was she sitting in? A shiny patch of floor with light bouncing off it. Because it was clean. Spotless, even.

THIS IS MY LIFE NOW I DON’T EVEN RECOGNIZE CLEAN FLOORS ANYMORE.

Insufferable Parenting #489- Of Wood and Plastic

Plastic is scary stuff, what with all it’s mimicry of estrogen in the human body. And in fish. And in animals. And… yeah. So I actually think this latest generation will be similar to the last generation that grew up with lead paint and leaded gas- we are very close to a full realization as to how dangerous this stuff is and our behavior as a society and products WILL change to reflect that very soon- of this I believe. *Hand on heart while staring knowingly into the distance. Sunset behind me. Eagle cries ringing overhead.*

BUT- I sure as hell wasn’t going to wait for Johnson and Johnson to make the change for me. So with all the girls- we used glass jar baby food as much as we could. Glass storage containers. Few plastics in the girls eating utensils- no melamine plates, ever, but there were some plastic cups for a short period of time. Those have long been replaced with small glass jelly jars. I buy olive oil in glass jars. I’m… yeah. It’s important to me.

I have gone off the deep end, a BIT, with it with our latest daughter. Metal baby spoons (turns out Oneida makes some still). Organic blankets. Organic crib mattress and mattress pad. I tried glass bottles, but she wouldn’t go for it- but we use the only organic, American made formula once we started supplementing at 7 months when I was just DONE pumping at work 3 times a day. Morning and night we still breast feed though. And yeah, we can’t help but use the plastic baby food pouches, but they’re organic at least- scout’s honor. Wooden toys and teether (she uses the teether to hit the wooden drum and has never once put it in her mouth. But then, she hasn’t been teething yet either, so I’ll hold off saying that $17 was wasted yet. Who am I kidding. Totally was.) Did I order wooden baby bowls and plates? Maybe.

The biggest one- which I could CARE LESS at the expense of- was a 100% wood high chair from Great Britain. Yes- I had a damn high chair shipped from Europe- but the only one I could find in the US was plywood- and hell, that might be worse than plastic. I just plan to turn it into a heirloom. And I figured we saved so much by borrowing baby stuff and not going overboard on swings or other baby gear that we still came out on top. And it may sound like it, but I am not justifying the expense- I’ve never once felt guilty about it- it was totally worth it for my plastic fearing self.

wooden-high-chair-rdymjoxh6

Wooden high chair, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

How self righteous does this post sound? Oh god. So very. Here’s my point though. What’s the WORST plastic in the house? The cheap bath toys- can’t seem to find a good alternate to those. What are Mary’s favorite toys? Take a guess. Does she crawl around the house with one in her mouth, INTENT on torturing me? You bet your ass she does.