Showing posts with label lessons learned. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lessons learned. Show all posts

Monday, July 25, 2011

the ac follow-up


i sat down and tried to write this a couple of times, but re-living it was quite tiresome. tuesday night our air stopped working somewhere between 7p - 3a. i awoke and wrote the banana bread post and went back to bed. by morning, though, it. was. hot. we stayed around until 11, when everyone was sweating just by watching a movie with all the blinds closed and fans running. we decided to go to the mall - have lunch, ride the carousel, play in the kid's area, and do some walking - the usual. i actually had to borrow a stroller because we haven't gotten that far in our baby buying just yet...which will be corrected this week, i forgot how awesome strollers are - even if they are big and clunky and take up way to much room.

the mall was better than we expected. there is a new trackless train in the mall that actually drives around different areas and after you pay for a stamp, it is unlimited rides. needless to say, the kids had a blast. they played, argument/fighting free, for a few hours, we had lunch, and i actually tried on clothes and picked up a few things for myself. what?! i'm still wondering how that happened. the kids were being so good, i took advantage and they did just fine in the dressing room. a modern day miracle, if you ask me. don't get me wrong, though, i wouldn't even attempt it again.

we, of course, came home to a house that rivaled the heat of hades. i got the kids dressed as quickly as possible for their baseball game and we were out the door again, no reprieve from the heat, though, because it might have been hotter inside than out. the heat index was 115.

after the game we had to go back to our house to pack an overnight bag for everyone to stay at my in-laws. i am making this sound like no big deal, but packing for 4 with sweat pouring down your face and all the boys pretty much crying because they are hot really isn't an ideal situation. it could have been worse, but it wasn't fun.

the next day our repairman didn't show up so we packed another bag as quickly as possible for a hotel. first, let me just say that i hate hotels, so i wasn't thrilled to be going there. we knew the kids would have fun swimming, though. i packed everyone up and we headed there.

at one point i wanted to cry because of all the questions. i was on edge anyway and nash was fussy and there was just a endless stream of "where are we going?" "is it far?" "can we swim right away?" "what are we going to eat for dinner?" "how long do we get to stay here?" ect. ect. ect. it's to be expected, but holey moley...

we got to the hotel and with careful maneuvering i got everyone and our bags into the hotel room in one piece. we got ready for the pool and realized we had forgotten triston's earplugs (he has tubes)...so back down to the car we go to run to the drug store. 

we run in, which is never just "running in" when you have four little kids. nash was in his car seat on my arm, and the other three were walking with little hands touching just about everything in site. we find the earplugs and head for the cashier, as i have to say "come on boys, let's go." twice. those creative marketing types are a mother's worst nightmare - there was just too much to see and they got distracted. but, then bryce starts opening up candy at the counter and eating it....so throw that in, too. they are usually really good in stores, but this was just a weird trip, i guess.

let's not forget how hot it is outside...

we get back to the hotel and in to the pool and bryce starts jumping up and down to go pee, while the other two have already jumped in. in my desperation, i knelt down to bryce and just whispered for him to discretely pee in the pool. (and just so you know, that is not normally something i would do) bryce, in the loudest voice possible says, "what?! you want me to pee in the pool?!) to save face i say just as loudly, "no! i DON"T want you to pee in the pool!" so we all get out, two of which are soaked and dripping, and with nash's car seat back on my arm, we make our way to the bathroom, which for some reason is really far away: past the lobby and down a hallway. 

i made sure everyone went, even though triston argued with me about it before finally conceding, and he really did have to go so i don't even know why he made an issue out of it. we get back to the pool and have a great time. nash fell asleep and i got in with the boys and we swam for a couple of hours.

time for dinner, though, so we go to our room and everyone gets ready. travis has been mia this whole time, which is fine bc he was working, but we're waiting for him to arrive and he calls me and says he decided to just stay home because he has so much work to do. what?! i am going to have to do this completely alone?  i said a few expletives and hung up on him - it was his idea to come in the first place.  but just as i threw the phone on the bed, there was a knock on the door and there he stood. oops. i apologized and off we went.

dinner was great, but hectic as usual. rest of the night went just fine. travis took the kids swimming and i sat in the hotel room and of all things turned the channel to disney. i swear, i have no life outside of being a mother. that was proof, right there.

 in the morning it started all over again. we got up and everyone got ready for breakfast. our hotel had a really great spread and the boys were very excited. ( i am realizing we get way too excited about food). we ran into a couple of problems, though. first, i had nash strapped to me in the bjorn. and second, there was absolutely no where to sit. every single table and chair and couch in the lobby was packed. so not only did i have the issue of preparing food for them with a baby strapped on front, we also had no where to go...and the kids didn't want easy things like a bagel, they wanted cereal and waffles from the waffle iron that you had to make yourself.

i told the kids we needed to go back upstairs for just a little while longer. the older boys were fine with that, but little bryce wanted to eat right then and thought we were just going to skip it all together. so the tears started. it was awesome and i really did want to cry because it took a lot of effort to get everyone down there and we had to go right back up and bryce was upset and i just wanted to go home.

but no tears for mom. we came down an hour later and everyone had cleared out so the boys picked what they wanted and i maneuvered with nash strapped to me and we were just fine. untttttiiiil, the hotel clerk tried to be funny and knocked on this hidden wooden door in the front desk and it came down and hit bryce in the face. in typical 3 year old fashion, he started crying and jumping up and down.  the lady made a huge deal out of it and everyone was staring at us. it really wasn't a big deal, worse things happen at home, but she insisted of "treating" the scratch and was dramatic about it. afterwards, we did more swimming. and then i got the call i was waiting for: the ac got fixed and we could head home!

so that is what we did, but not before the kids got a healthy dose of bed jumping...




i and i'm pretty sure everyone else were relieved to be home. so, i learned a couple of things from all of this. one, that baby carrier is invaluable (i already knew that one) two, i never would have made it before ac with children. three, four kids is a lot to pack around. when is school starting again?! four, even though it was hard we really did have an alright time. and five, even though i try to fight it, these little guys really are my whole world (as evidenced by the disney channel deal). and six, there is always someone with a worse situation, so just suck it up and do what you have to do.

...but the very next night my parents came to town and got a hotel room with a pool and wanted us to come swimming. i said no.

Friday, July 1, 2011

vegan family meals: real food for everyone


"uhhh. miso?" was the expression of the day. i had been to several grocery stores in search of an ingredient needed for a recipe that i had committed to making a month earlier in reviewing ann gentry's new book, vegan family meals.

i understood the confused look, i didn't know what miso was either. one grocer asked me if it was a drink. honestly, i wasn't sure. all i knew was i needed 2 tablespoons of the stuff to finish off my shopping list so i could get to work preparing the vegan version of a nicoise salad.

finally, someone told me to try an asian grocery store. after looking through several listings in the phone book, i went to the closest one (still a 40-minute drive) and walked in, not knowing what to expect.

The woman behind the counter had a pleasant smile ready when i walked in her store. in her broken english, she asked me what i was looking for.

"miso?" i said, hopeful.

"ahh. miso. over here." she stated and with a quick whip of her hair, she darted to the refrigerator and just like that pulled out the mysterious grail i had been on the hunt for.

only, as i found out later, miso isn't so mysterious afterall. it's only fermented bean paste that is hugely popular in the asian food industry and i bet a regular at any major grocery chain in a bigger city. maybe not in southwestern indiana, but in more diverse places, surely.

let's go back. in late april, i was contacted by much and house public relations to do a review for a new cookbook. i am definitely not vegan, in all the sense that the word implies, but I do like to prepare more meatless meals in a week's time than not. so, i took the challenge.

the book is filled with all kinds of recipes with ingredients I can't even pronounce, things like tahini and tempeh, which is usually a turn-off for me. but, since I had committed to it, I decided to make the best of it and see what I am missing out on.

out of several recipes to choose to duplicate, i chose the nicoise salad. a traditional nicoise has a grilled tuna steak to top it off. In ann gentry's version, she uses tofu chevre, which is essentially a "tofu cheese".

whhhhhhhhaaaaaatttt?

Yeah. tofu cheese. i was a little out of my league here, for sure. but, i gathered all the ingredients with the help of my newly found little asian market and started preparing the salad. and the tofu cheese.

the salad? awesome. it combines interesting flavors pulled from kalamata olives, capers, and fresh cherry tomatoes plus steamed new red potatoes and green beans all settled in between chopped butter lettuce. if you haven't tried butter lettuce, or boston lettuce as it is sometimes referred, you are missing out. the texture is different than your standard romaine. it's big thick leaves almost seem 'buttery'. and if you are a reader of my blog at all, you know i loves the butter.

the kicker, though, comes from ann's vinaigrette; a melding of minced shallot, fresh thyme, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and a big dose of ground pepper and sea salt. perfection, really, and i could only think of how many other types of salad it could be perfectly drizzled over.

but the tofu cheese? a big fat failure. even following the instructions on how to mix it properly with the garlic, miso, and olive oil, and then refrigerated, and rolled in black peppercorns and baked until warm....uhhhh, no. mine completely fell apart and was just weird. plus, it tasted like....well, probably how tofu is supposed to taste.

but that's the thing about this book. even though i didn't really enjoy the tofu part of the recipe, i loved the salad, and it's not really a salad i would have tried to make otherwise. it got me out of my comfort zone when it comes to ingredients, which i think is what a good cookbook should do. the tag line "real food for everyone" in the title is just that. real food for everyone, because if you don't prefer the freakin' tofu cheese, just leave it out and you still have a pretty rad salad. and you can say you at least attempted. plus, hello! my new favorite soup came out of this book: black-eyed pea and red pepper soup. seriously delicious. not to mention the desserts! summer blueberry crumble? definitely yes. and several smoothie recipes, too.

oh, and that asian market? while i was there i picked up several other items that i can't wait to try, which i also wouldn't have done otherwise. i mean, i didn't even know we had an asian market in our city. and the owner even got to me to consider trying the sushi she makes, right there in her store on the spot. i definitely wouldn't have done that otherwise, and i promised her i would try it next time i come back.

and if nothing else, i definitely know what miso is now.




check out celebrity chef ann gentry's blog.
Buy your copy (and read an excerpt) of vegan family meals: real food for everyone, here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

a spectacle, of sorts.



sometimes, with these four, I feel we are a spectacle. take this morning, for example. triston, the oldest, has basketball camp for an hour and a half each morning this week. after piling everyone in the car and taking off, i realized i had forgotten a bottle for the baby. i dropped t off and came back home to get the bottle and drove back to the school to watch the rest of practice in the high school gym. when we walked in my eyes scanned the gym to find triston sitting on the sidelines NOT PLAYING. so i sat the baby carrier down and started to walk over to him. while i am doing this, jackson takes off one way and bryce the other. the baby starts to cry so i hurry back over to him and triston is grabbing his stuff and saying, "let's go" which signals to me he is not happy about something. he is the particular one, after all. the coach comes over to talk with us and out of the corner of my eye i can see bryce doing a balancing act on the thin ledge that separates the bleachers from the floor. i can hear j in the distance saying, "mom! look at me!" he's at the very top of the gym. and the baby is still fussing. needless to say, all i heard the coach say was "wah wah wah wah wah wah wah", charlie brown style.

there are a couple of moms in the gym giving me the "i feel sorry for you" look and there are, of course, the women out there that probably have the "...she got herself in to this..." mentality (to which i believe are jealous of our little life...even if they don't know it yet) and a couple of other moms in the gym looking at me with the "i know, girl..." look, probably reminiscing about when they were in my position. what? did i just say reminiscing? yeah, i did. because even though these times can be tough, i've gotten the very clear impression to savor these moments.

after resolving the situation with t, i climb the stairs, baby carrier in hand to where jackson and bryce are sitting. when i arrive, they bolt, which i knew was coming by the smirks on their sweet little faces. i, of course, act like i didn't even see them which results in them coming right over within reach so i can lecture/tease them about the importance of staying close to mom.

"i need help with the baby," is all i need to say and that usually keeps them close so they can leap at his beckoning whimper. (it's good to be fourth in line at our house) (until you are old enough to go for someone's toy...then it's not so good anymore). and then we're done. practice is over, so me and the brood head into the pouring rain to our car to head home. (I did leave the part out about having to restrain b on my lap for a time while he kicked and screamed. that is always awesome.)

there's no great way to end this post except for the clear message of - this is hard. it is. but, more than it is hard, it is completely wonderful, absolutely hilarious, and such a blessing to have these four little boys completely saturate my days with complete joy. one day, instead of just the little daily nibbles that freckle my life as a mother, I am going to see the fruits of my labor in full perspective.

whether we are a spectacle, right now, or not. :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All In the Name of That Face


Bryce peeking around the corner at Shrek


Never mind I've chosen to rock the woodgrain panels and original 1986 brown shag to the world: check out that face. It's one of sheer terror and one that makes my heart aflutter. I love seeing my kids scared, the face that accompanies is just the cutest thing ever. It can be a fine line though, understanding the science of scaring. Alas, I know from personal experience.

Right before we moved to Jacksonville, we stayed with Travis' parents for six-ish months. Travis' dad runs dogs, or used to run dogs, and I guess he was pretty good at it because he has among his trophies, one in the form of a stuffed bird. A stuffed bird that used to be ALIVE. Triston, being the 15-month-old animal lover that he was, was naturally drawn to the bird and would point and say "Gunh", which was his word for "Bird" (for, like, ever.) . I would get the bird down and set it on the table at his eye-level and let him look at it, all the while knowing there was a hint of caution in his eye. (I so wish I could find a picture of that bird...it was intense.)

You get bored when you don't have your own home....ahem, something I know all too much about and it wasn't long before I started making the bird move ever so slightly across the table and making soft "coos" that made Triston's head snap up. He would look at me and make the face and I would hug him and tell him it was alright. So cute. But, somehow that morphed into me actually scaring the crap out of him with the bird. I would make the bird "caw" and he would run to me and make the cute face. It sort of became a game...only one he didn't really like. Oh, come on, it was only a few times....and his Nana and aunt helped, so there.

But then, we were at my mom's house one night. Triston had just watched Monsters Inc. and I could tell his "monster awareness" was off the charts. It was getting close to bedtime and he was coming down the hall--the darkened hall. Like a bona fide idiot, I stood in the shadows and jumped out at him and growled. What a mom.

He was never the same. To this day, he still cautiously walks down the hallway at my mom's house. He wants every light on in his vicinity if it's dark outside. We have had many a argument over why I'm not going to stay in his room until he falls asleep, and we've stumbled over him in the morning upon waking because he has made a bed for himself right beside us in the middle of the night. Worst of all, I lost his trust that night. Even now, if he is really scared about something, I can tell my presence does little to calm him. I really have to talk him out of it and every once in awhile he ends up scaring me. (Like when Travis is gone over night...those are the worst.)

I, of course, hadn't realized all the ramifications quite yet at that point and continued to try to scare my kids. All in the name of seeing that face, pretty pathetic, huh? It's just so cute. But, fortunately, Jackson didn't have the same issues and he was unfazed by my eager attempts. Jackson's only terror comes from getting caught doing things he is not supposed to, a trait I will be bracing myself for as adolescence draws nearer. Oh, and bugs. He hates flying bugs.

So along comes Bryce and since we already had 3 years under our belts of whining about being scared, the prize of seeing the cutest face ever just wasn't a prize anymore. You'll be glad to know I've recovered from trying to scare the crap out of my children on purpose and I do what I can to shield them from sensitive material.

Nevertheless, that face ranks among my favorites and when I do get the chance to see it, instead of running to console, I'm usually running for my camera.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Backing Off

We were getting ready for an event that was to start at 7. I, being the inexperienced mother that I most oft seem to be, was busy explaining that an event such as this--the end of season awards banquet held for Little League--was something exciting, something worth dressing up for. My goodness, Triston was getting ready to receive his first trophy. I mentioned the clothes I thought he should wear and was met with opposition--an all too common theme with that boy. It didn't help that Travis had just praised him for putting his socks and shoes on all by himself.

"Why do I have to wear something nice? I don't want to wear something nice. It's just a banquet!" Right. He just learned what a banquet was 5 minutes beforehand, but whatever, I had a baby to diaper and my own shoes to grab. Out the door we go, black Spider-Man socks pulled up his shins and all. "He'll learn one day," I thought to myself.




Upon arriving where this banquet was taking place, we weren't sure where to go. Thankfully, we were able to follow the sounds of many screaming children that were running wildly throughout the 4-H grounds. I instantly felt ridiculous for making the clothing an issue. This is what we saw:



100+ regularly dressed people crammed into a tiny shelter house all waiting for trophies and wieners. We found a seat on the very last picnic table all the way in the back and waited for Travis to grab the boys a hot dog.




Then we waited for every girl of all the co-ed teams to get called first. Our boys were impatient, so we let them run around. And I sure am glad Triston did know what was up with the appropriate apparel because there was a lot of mustard and fruit punch smeared on shirts and little faces, a lot of running, a lot of falling, and a lot of crying by two tired little boys who didn't want to wait for something they weren't receiving.



Stinkers.
Finally it was Triston's team's turn....

It turned out to be a really good time. I earned another notch on my experience belt with this kind of setting and Travis got to engage in some Daddy Duty as he stepped in for our coach, as the announcer, when he couldn't make it. Triston got his medal for a well-played first season of T-Ball, and maybe more importantly, it seems that the day came when I'm the one who learned the lesson I should have been teaching: Don't fuss over petty stuff. Let them be and they'll do just fine.
....even if they are wearing black socks pulled all the way up their shins.

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