Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mom Life


At 7:45 this morning, I had been up for two hours, had two cups of coffee, and was feeling as if some breakfast might be advisable. I also felt that I might as well go all out and make bacon along with the inevitable egg. You know, in celebration of a lazy Saturday morning.

Except "children" and "lazy mornings" don't really go together, and I do have three of those children things.

Said children had already eaten some oatmeal, but I charitably offered to make bacon and eggs for them, too. When I asked who wanted some before I started cooking, Jack said he wanted bacon, Charlie said he didn't want anything, and Cubby said no, thanks, he had to go poop.

Okay. The "no, thanks" would have been enough for me.

So I started cooking four pieces of bacon. One for Jack, one for me, two for A. whenever he got up.

When the bacon was done, I gave Jack his piece and made myself an egg. Charlie wandered into the kitchen requesting bacon. I gave him a piece.

When my egg was done, I sat down at the table with my plate of egg and bacon. I had taken one bite of egg before Jack made it clear that actually, he wanted an egg too.

So I put another egg in the pan and gave him the one I had started eating, since it was already cooling down.

My egg in the pan was almost done when Charlie came back into the kitchen requesting more bacon. Nope, I said. If you're still hungry, you can have an egg. Okay, said Charlie.

So I gave him my egg. And put another in the pan for me.

Cubby came out of the bathroom and, anticipating further requests for food, I yelled down to him that if he wanted to eat, he'd better come up and eat now because I was almost done cooking. Okay, said Cubby. I GUESS I can eat something.

So he got a piece of bacon and the egg from the pan.

Notice I didn't say my egg from the pan. It was pretty clear at this point that as long as the locusts were in the kitchen, nothing in that pan was going to be mine.

Jack finished his egg and asked for another. So I made him another. He got through about one bite of that before throwing his fork and starting to spit out bites of egg, in addition to whining and generally exhibiting classic I Need a Nap behavior.

I decided it would be best to wait until that nap before I attempted my own breakfast again.

It only took me one hour, four eggs, three pieces of bacon, three cups of milk, and one chapter from the Narnia book (read to keep Cubby and Charlie from shrieking and keeping Jack from falling asleep), but I FINALLY had my breakfast. And because A. had awakened, I used the sole remaining piece of bacon, plus some cheese and leftover vegetables, to make an omelet for the two of us.

So in the end, my breakfast ended up being better than I had originally planned.

The best things in life are worth waiting for, right? Right.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Acclimated


We keep our thermostat set at 64 degrees during the day in the winter. But this house is so well-insulated and open that when I cook a lot, the heat from the kitchen increases the overall temperature of the house significantly. Also, there are a lot of west-facing windows in the upstairs living room, so when it's sunny, there's quite a bit of solar heating, too.

This morning I had the oven at 415 degrees for about an hour to bake bread and roast squash. At the same time, I was simmering both chili and pizza sauce. Then the sun came out.

It is now 71 degrees in my house. Seventy-one degrees! I had to take off my flannel shirt* and get some cold seltzer, because I was feeling very overheated.

Obviously, I live in the right place.

* Don't worry: I had a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath. I'm not going to become a semi-nudist or anything.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Neither Rain Nor Snow


There's a kind of running joke in my family about how my mom walked me to the bus stop for only the first year we lived in Alaska, and thereafter granted me full independence for bus stop journeys. I was nine years old at the time and the bus stop was about a quarter mile away. I'm sure my independence was mostly granted because of the way below zero temperatures and total darkness.

I do not recall being particularly upset by this, but I find it amusing as an adult to tease my mom about her abandonment.

Then Cubby started taking the bus here. After a week or so of taking him to the end of the driveway--all of about 100 yards from the house--to get on the bus, and being out to meet the bus when he got home, I was all, "Yeah, you just go on out there on your own, Cubby. I trust you."

I am my mother.

But I really do trust Cubby. I trust him to wait by the side of the road, to cross the road when he's given the appropriate signal by the bus driver, and to come right into the house in the afternoon.

Charlie, however, I do not trust. And not just because he's only four, either. Cubby probably would have behaved exactly the same two years ago as he does today. But Charlie is not quite so rule-abiding and never has been. I would not put it past him to get mad at Cubby and go racing off down the road, or into the woods, or . . . well, I just don't trust him.

So now we all go out in the morning to wait for the bus, and Jack and I are always outside to meet the bus in the afternoon, regardless of the weather.

This is no small thing in this climate. One morning last week our entire driveway was a sheet of ice covered in a layer of rain, which resulted in a Three Stooges On Ice situation with children prat falling all over and the dog getting in everyone's way. It was hilarious, if irritating.

We've been out in the rain, and the sleet, and the snow, and almost total darkness. Today just as the bus arrived to drop Cubby and Charlie off, I noticed it seemed to get suddenly darker. I looked to the west to see a wall of fog blowing at us. It was cool to watch, but probably not so cool to the bus driver, who had to drive right into it.

I may not enjoy having to be out in all weathers for bus stop duty, but at least I don't have to drive the actual bus in those conditions. And for that, I am extremely grateful.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

No Such Thing as Too Much Stock


Cubby has been complaining of a vague and non-debilitating stomach ailment for a few days now, and requested soup for dinner in deference to his delicate stomach. It was 4 p.m. at this point and I didn't actually have any soup on hand. He waved this away, and told me to just get some stock and mix some stuff with it*.

There speaks a boy who is spoiled for stock.

There was a point this fall at which I thought I had too much stock in the freezer. I had Mr. Lonely stock, duck stock, ham stock, and venison stock. All together, there were probably about four gallons of different kinds of stock in the freezer. I actually told A. I didn't need the bones from the second deer he shot to make more stock, because I had enough stock on hand.

Silly me.

I wish now I had made the second round of venison stock when I had the chance, because I am now down to two quarts of chicken stock and two quarts of ham stock. Critically low levels, for sure.

I need to find another asshole rooster.

* This was in fact what I did, as I realized I had a little bit of leftover pasta and meatballs, a little bit of cooked broccoli and carrot, and some cooked white beans. None of this would have been enough for dinner for four people, but add some stock and TA DA! The magic of soup. Of course, this would have been a non-starter if A. had been home, but he's not, so I didn't have to worry about mass quantities of anything.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Lunch a Deux


The sole remaining child at home during lunch is luckily also the only one who is young enough not to complain about the vegetable soup with dreaded mushrooms that I like to make for lunch in the winter.


Way to be, Jack. You can be my lunch buddy anytime.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Miracle on the Canadian Border


It's multiple choice time!

How would you respond to the following statement?

It is 5:34 a.m. and I am currently drinking my second cup of coffee in a quiet house.

   a) What in the hell are you doing awake at 5:34 a.m., you crazy person?

   b) That sounds nice.

   c) A quiet house? You mean all your kids are asleep and you're drinking coffee in peace? ALLELUIA!

If you chose "c," then you're right there in the small-child trenches with me. right? But even if you're not right there in those trenches, you will perhaps understand my pleasure in a 5:30 a.m. uninterrupted cup of coffee when I tell you that Jack has been waking up every. single. morning. before 5:15 for two weeks now. Sometimes before 5 a.m.

While I will willingly get up that early to have some cherished quiet time before children awake, waking up WITH one of those children that early is not so cherished. Much as I love sharing my coffee time with a squirming two-year-old, I actually prefer, uh, not to share it.

Sorry, Jack. Mommy can appreciate you more after 5:30 a.m.

I have no idea why Jack is sleeping in this morning. I can only hope it continues.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Mixed Reviews


I made some split pea soup for dinner tonight, mostly because I had all the ingredients on hand and no other brilliant ideas for dinner.

I don't think I've ever made split pea soup before. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever actually eaten it before.

I used a recipe from Christopher Kimball (of America's Test Kitchen fame), and it was okay. Not being an authority on split pea soup, I don't know if mediocre is all I can expect from it (I suspect this is the case, seeing as the main ingredient is, well, dried peas), or if it was the recipe, but I wasn't overwhelmed by the taste sensation.

Apparently, neither was Cubby.

He was halfway through his bowl of soup when he announced, "I'm going to have seconds of this. It doesn't taste perfect, but it feels good in my tummy."

Yeah. Sounds about right to me.

P.S. Any mediocre soup dinner can be salvaged by cornbread. Good thing I made some. It was a good call. Everyone kind of grudgingly ate their (single) bowl of soup, but everyone wanted seconds of the cornbread. Life lesson: Always make cornbread with soup. It ends the meal on a happy note and makes everyone forget about the soup, especially if it was forgettable to start with.