So Long, 2016

I wrote 14 posts this year. Sometimes I wonder if I’m still a blogger.

What can I say? It’s been a hell of a year. A lot of this is known to people; we all heard about the election, and no matter how you feel about the results, it was a big damn deal. We all know about the celebrities who died; Carrie Fisher’s passing hit me particularly hard.

For us, we’ve had a triathlon to train for (Mr. Sandwich) and support (Baguette and me), multiple IEP meetings, changes in leadership at Baguette’s school, lost teeth (the sixth came out this week), family drama that warrants assessment, and lice.

Oh, the lice.

We were supposed to travel to visit my dad and stepmom for Thanksgiving. But I had a bad cold, and based on much prior experience of making that trip sick, we decided not to. As it turned out, that was a wise decision. Because on the day we would have been driving, I discovered that Baguette and I had lice.

We called a service to come over to the house that night and comb all three of us, and scheduled the follow-up for the Monday after the holiday. But as it turned out, we couldn’t wait that long, so we also went to a lice-combing salon on Friday for an additional come-through.

There are, by the way, a lot of businesses providing this service in Los Angeles.

That was our hair; we also commenced on an astonishing amount of laundry, washing and drying on hot things that we often don’t even put in the dryer. We vacuumed and lint-rollered and bagged and froze and did everything we could think of to halt this in its tracks.

It was exhausting. It was not a vacation. It was not a break. But ultimately, we were successful–although we now are completely fixated on checking our heads on a regular (and probably unnecessarily frequent) basis.

We delayed our trip, planning to visit the week after Christmas. And then I got bronchitis. So we didn’t go. But we did have Christmas dinner with Mr. Sandwich’s parents, as planned. That was nice for a bit, and then discretion is the better part of valor, and also of family harmony on Christmas.

Now we are two weeks into Baguette’s three-week winter break from school. In case you were wondering, three weeks is too long. It’s not that I don’t love and value the time with her–it’s that we don’t have any other care for her, which means we have to take more days off from work, and it means that her routine is significantly disrupted in ways that are very difficult for her. And with my bronchitis that first week of the break, we didn’t do a great job of creating a different routine. We’re getting into one now, but that still doesn’t keep us from having rough days.

Long story short? I am ready for a new year. So Happy New Year to all of you!

And know that while I may not be able to stay up the whole time (among other things, Baguette got me up at around 4:00 this morning), I am definitely feeling this:

Finessing Christmas

When I was young, our Christmases were extravaganzas. My parents weren’t Clark Griswold/Christmas store-style decorators, but we had lights on the house and a big, full tree that was overdecorated and surrounded by piles of presents. On Christmas Eve, we’d don pajamas and curl up on either side of my father so that he could put his arms around us both as he read The Night Before Christmas.

On Christmas morning, we’d get up as early as my brother and I could persuade my parents to wake; make tea and coffee; go through stockings; have breakfast; go to Mass (when we were very young–later we switched to Christmas Eve Mass); come home; and open presents.

When we lived within driving distance of grandparents, we would spend the afternoon with my mother’s parents and the next day or two with my father’s. When we didn’t, my mother’s parents often traveled to spend the holidays with us (this is its own story).

We would spend the whole day at home with each other and our new gifts, playing board games and reading books–and watching movies, once VHS technology had been invented and acquired. And we’d cook our traditional Christmas dinner.

Times have changed, as they do. Most years we trade off holidays, so that we’re spending one with my side of the family and the other with Mr. Sandwich’s. Our own trees are smaller, often in height and always in diameter. I keep forgetting to locate the copy of The Night Before Christmas, and I never remember to buy stocking stuffers. Mr. Sandwich goes on an early run, as is his family’s tradition, and we eat some breakfast. We haven’t been to Mass in years.

The presents don’t all get opened on the same day. Baguette enjoys opening a few, but then loses interest, so we open one or two of hers a day until we’re done. Or we don’t. So far? Not done.

But there are 12 days of Christmas, right? So I figure there’s no rush.

Friday Five: September 5, 2014

Things that come to mind:

1) We took a trip to visit cousins over Labor Day weekend, and had a wonderful time. I grew up across the country from much of my family, and didn’t know what I was missing. Fortunately–and thanks in large part to Facebook–I’ve gotten to know quite a few of my cousins now that we’re adults. But I want Baguette to just not miss it to begin with.

2) Someday all too soon, Baguette is going to stop singing “Wet It Go,” and I’m going to miss it So Much. Just as I will miss it when she no longer says, “Want get wemon” at the grocery store.

3) I wonder how many times I can re-read Cryptonomicon. So far, the answer is “a great many times.”

4) It is becoming clear that we are about to enter a Winnie the Pooh phase. And because it’s the question everyone asks next, I mean Disney Pooh, not Classic Pooh.

5) Mr. Sandwich’s hugs are like being wrapped in a hug. That sounds like it is circular and self-evident, but in fact it is just the best.

5

Disruption Can Be Good

We spent the last week visiting family out of town. For Baguette, routine is king–but this morning, I was reminded of why disruption can be good.

The trip was great, and I’ll write more about it later. But it was also exhausting, because we were constantly on the move, seeing new places and spending time with people who Baguette doesn’t know all that well yet.

Last night, after we got home, Baguette used more full sentences than we usually hear in a week. And they were new ones, like “Mommy, get the ball” (it had rolled under a piece of furniture) and “Mommy, I want green Play-Doh” (more typical is simply “Green Play-Doh”)

This morning, she started reciting the alphabet. This is not unusual, but here’s what was: She was also signing it. All that time this week she spent playing with the Baby Sign and Sing app we’d bought her?

She’s been teaching herself ASL.

Fresh Week, Fresh Start

Well, last week was a bear, wasn’t it?

Over the weekend, Baguette and Mr. Sandwich went to swim class and our regular playdate with Bestie, while I went to my alumni club’s annual lunch, which raises money for scholarships. I haven’t been able to go for the past several years–it’s been too long a time to leave Baguette–but this year we made it work.

On Sunday, I took Baguette over to see Mr. Sandwich’s parents, who had been out of town, and he went for a bike ride–something he hasn’t been able to do in a couple of months. So it was a weekend full of doing things we would like to do more often, which is pretty cool.

Yesterday, our second CSA box arrived, full of fresh fruits and vegetables. What was in this week’s box from Good Life Organics?

fresh fruits and vegetables
Strawberries, potatoes, zucchini, oranges, apples, rosemary, an avocado, and chard

So last night, Baguette and I started out by snacking on some strawberries. Mr. Sandwich spiced up some chicken thighs and put them in the toaster/convection oven, and I cut up and boiled some potatoes. While the potatoes (and some garlic) cooked, I sliced up a zucchini and salted it. Then I sauteed it in coconut oil with more garlic (we love our garlic), adding lemon zest and lemon juice right at the end. I mashed the potatoes with the skins on and sprinkled the zucchini with parmesan. Presto, a fresh spring dinner!

Today, Baguette and I are taking more of the strawberries to eat during our respective days–me with my yogurt and granola for breakfast, and her with her macaroni and cheese (by the way, we’re trying some other brands in the hope of reducing food dyes) for lunch.

I’m trying to decide how to use the remaining zucchini–should I make a soup with my remaining meatballs and tortellini? Or should I slice it up for zucchini chips?

And if anyone has a great, easy recipe for chard, I’m all ears!

Easy Weekend Breakfast: Monkey Bread

I remember monkey bread from my childhood. It wasn’t one of my mom’s regular weekend breakfast dishes–in fact, I’m not sure she made it more than once–but clearly it made an impression. With only three of us in the house, and one of us quite small, I don’t make a lot of big breakfasts. Most weekends, we eat pretty much the same things we eat during the week–eggs, some sort of breakfast bar or pastry, and fruit.

But I want to have some “company” meals on tap, for the years we host family at the holidays, or for when we have other out-of-town visitors. First up? Monkey Bread.

I read a variety of recipes, and yes–I am sure that making the dough from scratch is better. But who has time? People who aren’t me. And while I have a Bundt pan, I wanted to see if I could make it in a regular pan. Spoiler alert: I totally can.

Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread

1 can jumbo biscuits
3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. honey
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, divided
cinnamon and nutmeg, to taste

Heat oven to 375. Spray a 9×9 pan with cooking spray. Melt the butter and honey and use half to cover the bottom of the pan. Distribute half of brown sugar in bottom of pan.

Cut each biscuit into quarters and cram all the pieces into the pan in a single layer. Top with remaining brown sugar and drizzle remaining butter and honey over everything.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until top is beginning to turn golden brown. Cool pan on rack for 3 minutes and turn onto serving plate.

This was just what I was looking for–easy and quick, and sweet-but-not-TOO-sweet. It’s definitely a keeper.

Thankful Thursday: Family

I’m really not sure I can express how thankful I am for my family.

  • For my parents, who taught me their values and how to determine my own.
  • For my brother, who loves me even though I may have been guilty of psychological torture when we were children.
  • For Mr. Sandwich, who sees everything I can be, and tells me what he sees.
  • For his parents, who welcomed me into their family long, long before he and I became a couple.

And of course for Baguette, who we feared might never bebut is.

Well, Then By All Means, Let’s Spoil It For Everyone

When I was in third grade, I was in a Bluebirds troop. Our leader decided that we would put on a play: Snow White. We drew lots for roles, and I was excited when the slip of paper I drew from the bowl read “Snow White.” I would get to be the main character!

And then one of the mothers objected. Snow White, she said, was a story about a woman who cooked and cleaned for seven men. It glamorized traditional gender roles. And if we put on that play, she’d pull her daughter from our troop.

The show did not go on.

I’m remembering this, because it turns out that father-daughter dances (and mother-son ballgames) are discriminatory.

THIS ATROCITY MUST BE STOPPED!

The only way to accomplish equality, clearly, is to ban the offending event.

Here’s an idea: what if we changed it? What if we made it a “Family Dance” or a “Family Ballgame” that didn’t specify gender for any of the parties? What if, in the case of my Bluebird troop’s play, the mother had suggested another story she thought offered a better message? What if she’d worked with the troop leader to rewrite the story so that it taught a lesson she found more palatable?

There are a lot of ways we can teach our children to deal with discrimination. I want to teach Baguette that she should start by looking at how to make events/traditions/the world more inclusive. I don’t want her to learn that the way to increase fairness is by limiting access for all.

Fort Bragg Father Daughter Ball gives Families night of fun, fantasy - FMWRC - US Army - 100916

Seriously, who looks at this photo and thinks, “That’s enough of that nonsense”? If you want to be a part of it, find a way to be a part of it. Don’t ruin things for everyone.

That’s not equality. That’s spite. And it’s not what I want to teach my daughter.

Photo by familymwr, via Flickr.

Birthdays in the Era of Pinterest

balloons?

The On Mom has a post about party planning and Pinterest that definitely is worth a read. As for me, I like Pinterest. I think it’s fun, and I use it a fair amount.

I don’t base my life on it.

See, my approach to Pinterest is to save and share things I like. I just want to look at them, not transform my existence. But I keep reading about how Pinterest is increasing “mom guilt” as real-world moms feel their efforts don’t measure up to the perfection on Pinterest.

Sorry, but I think that’s your fault. You shouldn’t be taking pins so personally.

Even in the real world, I’m apt to scale back from what I see. We’ve been to a number of birthday parties for our neighbors’ children and Baguette’s classmates, and they’ve all been nice. We’ve been to several indoor playgrounds, a backyard pool party, and one bounce house/ball pit/wading pool fiesta.

My thoughts? The indoor playgrounds are expensive, but really easy. So that’s tempting, because I don’t have to clean the house. The pool party was nice, but we don’t have a pool. And I am not yet ready to rent a bounce house. I’m just not.

So far, Baguette’s birthday parties have featured family getting together for a cookout followed by cake. We have not invited her friends. Our thought has been that she didn’t understand gifts, and she didn’t know what parties were.

Well, she does know now–and that’s fine. We’re not trying to keep the concept of parties from her. So when her third birthday rolls around, we’ll plan something more child-focused than the birthday parties we’ve had so far.

We’ll invite some of her friends, I’ll make a cake (if I have time), and I’m totally open to buying themed plates, napkins, and cups. I’ll even spring for the coordinating banner.

But why should I worry about whether it matches something on Pinterest? Baguette couldn’t care less, and it’s her party.

Photo by asleeponasunbeam via Flickr.