The Zen of Parenting

This is now almost a 3 year old post- but I repost it for those of you in the midst of babydom:

Parenting is so repetitive. I guess that seems obvious, but it isn’t just changing diapers ten times a day. Or how many times you shove a noodle arm into a long sleeve onesie and think “That’s it. I snapped it this time… oh whew! All fingers intact. Excellent.” It’s the sounds that really strike me as oppressively repetative.

Continue reading “The Zen of Parenting”

Random

Some random thoughts that can’t be fleshed out to full blog posts:

  • Goal for 2017 was to lose 10 lbs… only 15 to go!
  • The concept of taking no shit while not being an asshole about it is a knife edge to walk and might very well end up being my life’s work.
  • I often wonder if other adults still show up for appointments with toothpaste on their shirts. Or have such messy closets. Sometimes stuff like that can feel adolescent… but maybe it’s just human… I’m really not sure.
  • Somehow we ended up taking away the bottle, potty training, and taking the 2 year old out of her crib all at the same time. And by god- what felt like it would end in disaster has turned into the easiest transition on all of those. Third times a charm I guess? I think we as a society wait too late to potty train these days- we started at 25 months… you gotta start these toddlers before they hit the defiant stage- because early twos they still want to be super helpful.
  • What are we going to do with the extra $100 a month we now are saving on diapers? Buy all the food this growing toddler is sucking down… it’ll be a wash, methinks.
  • I should paint more. I should write more. I should cut and color my hair on a more frequent schedule. I should read more actual books. I should clean… I should I should I should I should. I should also probably stop beating myself up over it…
  • The girls were asking what the cats’ names would be if they didn’t have their current names. I suggested they all be named Stoppeeingonthebathmat.
  • The dog is scared of the fire alarm and now every time I cook he frantically jumps over the baby gate to get into the other side of the house. You freaking burn something ONE time around here…

 

 

 

Weeknight Dinner 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.

olive-tree-1327733-1600x2400

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.

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.

 

The Battle of Vicksburg… Monday Morning in a Central Texas Town Version

So. It’s EFFING cold in this house. Worse than last year? Maybe. I have cold weather plastic over the windows in the baby’s room- and that is JUST about the only thing getting us through. That and the belief that this is fleeting and is therefore romantic in an “Oh it’s cold, let’s all cuddle up” type of way.

So therefore know, when I told my middle daughter that “I need you to bundle up and go play outside.” I wasn’t being cruel… hell, it’s probably warmer outside. Besides. Character building.  But how was I to know THIS was the hill I was to die on? Did Johnny Reb know the Battle of Vicksburg was the turning point in the war when it happened? Did they know it was a slow, inexorable slide from that point to defeat? Because I can sure as hell tell you I knew the SECOND she replied with a not impolitely phrased: “That sounds like a want more than a need” and walked out of the room- that this war was lost.

They’ve won. Oh lord. The children have won.