• the quotidian (9.30.19)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace
    Everything and plain.

    Thanks to one of my birthday presents (on that account, no one listened to me).

    When I cook to order  in this case, for a sicky child  I leave my mark.

    A slice of my mom’s latest creation: s’mores cake.

    Prediction: he’s going to be bigger than all of us. 

    Monday morning.

    Banishment: because I get sick of hearing the same songs over and over again.

    Writhing in our seats: the tooth extraction scene.

    This same time, years previous: the myth of the hungry teen, the skirt, ciabattadumping: a list, butterscotch cookies, peposo: beef with black pepper and red wine.

  • for my birthday

    For my birthday, my requests were as follows:

    to not cook
    to not teach anyone
    to not make chore lists
    to not get presents

    If they wanted to make me a cake, a cheesecake would be nice, but I really didn’t care what kind of cake it was as long as I wasn’t in charge. I wanted to write for a long time. Also, I wanted to go on a family hike (but not on the actual day since everyone was at school/working and probably not until after the relief sale — so only in theory, I guess; we’ll see if it actually happens) and play Ultimate Frisbee with the kids.

    the ultimate 
    For the last few weeks, all four of my kids have been playing Ultimate twice a week at the local university. It’s for anyone — just a bunch of pick-up games — and intergenerational.

    You should come, Mom, they kept saying, but since it’d been a good twenty years since I’d last played, and I wasn’t even sure I remembered how to catch a frisbee, much less throw one, and because I was afraid I’d sprain an ankle or something, I kept declining.

    But then at our church retreat last weekend, I got roped into playing and it turned out to be loads of fun (never mind that I about died from all the running and jumping), so when I realized that the community group would be playing on my birthday, I decided that that’s what I wanted to do to celebrate: play Ultimate with my kids.

    (And then my dad showed up, too, so we were three generations, yay us!)

    the day
    I spent the day writing, and running errands and blogging and basically not thinking about anyone but myself. When I arrived home mid-afternoon, the kids were over at my mom’s, and the house, I noticed, was spotless.

    Hm, they must’ve cleaned, I thought. Nice.

    Later that night after the kids had all gone up to bed, I found this:

    and my jaw dropped, bless their little hearts. (Also, apparently I’m not the only one who knows how to make a list.)

    the supper
    Cheese, crackers, pickles, fruit, meats, and two boxes of Captain Crunch.

    I couldn’t have been happier.

    then, the cake 
    I knew it wasn’t going to be a cheesecake, since my favorite cheesecake has to be made 24 hours in advance and no one appeared to be preparing anything ahead of time (as they are wont to do). But I didn’t much care; just not having to think about anything was gift enough.

    But! Supper over, they made me cover my eyes and presented me with a wee baby chocolate cake, which didn’t fool me for a second — no one goes to the trouble of mixing up only a wee bit of cake batter. And sure enough, then the real cake appeared.

    a day-after photo, since it was too dark the night of

    Three layers, and each layer brazenly and extravagantly studded, sprinkled, piled, and armoured in candy, with a jauntly red ribbon wrapped round the bottom layer. I couldn’t get over it. It was utterly spectacular.

    They eagerly filled me in on the details: how my younger daughter had made the cakes and my older daughter had bought an obscene amount of candy. How they’d taken everything to my parents’ house (my parents weren’t at home) and set up their cake shop there. How they’d printed off plans from the internet and measured and calculated and chopped and iced and decorated, all working together.

    cake-in-progress photo credits: my older daughter

    That, plus the candy, made it pretty much the sweetest cake ever.

    This same time, years previous: hey-hey! look who’s here!, the soiree of 2016welcome home to the circus, getting shod, the quotidian (9.29.14), pointless and chatty, chocolate birthday cake with vanilla water frosting, a jiggle on the wild side.

  • what we ate

    One of my friends does a weekly blog post documenting her previous week’s grocery purchases and meals. It’s pretty straightforward — a bunch of photos with a bit of writing — and some might call it boring, but not me. To me, it’s the blog equivalent of eating a big bowl of homemade mac and cheese, comfy, simple, and utterly satisfying. Like pawing through someone’s pantry, a look-see at the dinner plate gives me a peek at the inner workings of another’s home: their resources, limitations, and preferences, their creativity (or lack thereof), their foibles and shortcomings, passions and desires.

    So then I thought, if I like it so much, why don’t I do a what-we-ate food post? I often post food shots, but they’re random — sticks of butter or illuminated honey or stomped on loaves of underbaked bread. A running tally of what we eat, day in and day out, would be different. Maybe boring, and perhaps a wee bit embarrassing — Yet another bowl of cereal, Jennifer? Or, Where are the green vegetables, you bad mother you! — but it might be fun, too.

     So I decided to give it a go. Just for one week, just for kicks.

    Turns out, there were problems.

    First, I kept forgetting to take pictures.

    Second, with so many of our meals being leftover-based, and with each person eating something different, honest documentation would mean a million photos, ugh.

    Third, most of our family meals happen after dark, and photography after dark is a no-go.

    Fourth, a lot of my meals are a series of sneaked snacks — a peanut butter apple or a handful of dry cereal or 15 Twizzlers or a margarita and too many tortilla chips — so the last thing I’d want to do is actually document the food I’m not supposed to be eating, right? 

    Still, I tried. Over the course of two (three?) weeks, I got enough photos to make a post. It’s hardly a fair representation of our eating habits, but it’s something (and maybe one of these weeks I’ll try again).

    Soft cheese tacos with Anaheim peppers (I found them!), rice, a couple cans of black beans into which I’d stirred a scoop of Chiro’s magic pincho seasoning (we had leftover sauce squirreled away in the fridge from their latest visit).

    The next day, leftover soft cheese tacos, leftover rice that I fried up with oil and a scoop of pincho sauce, the beans, buttered and roasted beets from the garden carefully and evenly divided out among the six of us so we all get some like it or not, and salsa.

    And the next day, the last of the soft cheese tacos, more pincho fried rice (the kids love it), and scrambled eggs.

    The kids adore sandwiches, especially when there’s lebanon balogna. Everyone differs on their cheese preferences. Some go for “yellow” cheese (Colby, mild cheddar), but I’m partial to Jarlsburg, a.k.a “hole-y cheese.” The dill pickles are from Costco, the only dills my kids like, though I detect a displeasing chemical taste.

    A cool day (finally!) equals soup: white beans, a bag of frozen chard from my mother’s garden, a jar of tomatoes that didn’t seal, sausage from my cousin Zoe, frozen turkey broth, with buttered sourdough toast on the side. I froze the leftovers and then regretted it. I wanted more.

    My older daughter insists she can’t cook, which is utterly ridiculous — she just doesn’t want to — so I said she had to cook dinner but it had to be real food, not eggs. And then in the end, I chose the menu for her — Indian chicken, rice, green beans — and left the house. I got a lot of panicked phone calls, but she did it. Shortly before supper, I slipped a whole head of cauliflower into the over to roast (an experiment): it flopped.

    I had a bunch of fresh mozzarella that I was afraid would soon go bad, so I made pizza rolls: hunks of five-minute dough rolled into sloppy rectangles, sprinkled with garlic powder and Italian seasoning, and layered with pepperoni and lots of fresh mozz, rolled up and, after baking, brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with more garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan. OUT OF THIS WORLD. (Dipping sauce from a half pint of roasted tomato sauce that hadn’t sealed properly and that I spiced up with spices, and, on the side, roasted broccoli with lemon.)

    This same time, years previous: evening feeding, the quotidian (9.26.16), better than cake, test your movies!, the run around, 37, she outdid herself, painting my belly, vacationing until it hurts.

  • the quotidian (9.23.19)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Supper: cheesy, salt-and-vinegar, and spicy
    My favorite, I’ve decided.

    Sweetness illuminated. 
    Yeah, it’s a lot.
    Cooking something.
    Google translate, a.k.a. cheating.

    Good kitty. 
    Climate strike.
    Our church takes dutch blitz seriously.

    The most interactive screaming! jumping! standing on the sofa!  movie ever.

    This same time, years previous: a bunch of things, grape pie, a day in the life, stop and sink, the quotidian (9.22.14), hurdle-free molten brownie cakes, we love Fred.

  • family night

    Today, there was the regular stuff — work, studies, chores — but the best part was knowing that we’d be home for the evening, all six of us. These days, that’s becoming increasingly rare, and what with the upcoming whirlwind of a church retreat, Puerto Rican guests(!!!), pinchos and 16K doughnuts, plus birthdays and soirees and all the stuff in between, I was aching for a family night.

    With an at-home evening to look forward to, the afternoon meandered most deliciously. I ran over to Mom’s so she could make me coffee and feed me candy and tell me stories. Then I hurried back home. My sister-in-law was coming over for an informal makeup tutorial, which is a hoot, considering how little me and my girls know, though the chicas certainly aren’t short on beauty supplies.

    The girls arranged everything on the table and then we set to, explaining and experimenting. The kids joined us then, and the color palettes exploded.

    Lots of giggling, dark eyebrows, and one little boy even got a ladybug-adorned cheek.

    They left, and my younger daughter got busy with supper: spaghetti carbonara.

    While she browned the bacon and garlic and my older daughter washed a minor mountain of dishes, the kitchen rocked — with hip-hop and (attempted) twerking and and shouted conversations. Also, the cup song.

    My older son and husband walked in then, grimy and starving, my husband a little more ripped than normal.

    Then supper. We inhaled it — sooo good — and my husband and older son had a muscle-making competition. As soon as I grabbed my camera, though, they stopped. 

    “Oh, come on,” I huffed. “Just do it.”


    I waited.

    And then….

    The meal over and muscles made, we all split: table clearing, laundry-bringing-in-and-folding, dish washing, chocolate cake making (I got a craving), and grape juice steamering. My husband disappeared to the barn to work on the island, and kids got showers and argued (and I yelled, though not as loudly as this morning when one child accidently smashed a quart jar of grape jelly on the tile floor) and played more music and did outside chores.

    Now, off to read bedtime stories. Night!

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (9.17.18), the quotidian (9.18.17), black bean and veggie salad, historical fun, the big bad wolf and our children, baking with teachers, candid camera, when the relatives came.

  • the quotidian (9.9.19)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    Steak and cheese, with fried eggs, onions, and peppers. 

    First the pie filling and now the juice.

    The weather can’t make up its mind (hot one day, cold the next) and neither can my coconut oil. 

    Fancying up his board: he is so (sososososoSOOOOO) ready for snow.

    She makes writing look way too easy (grr). 

    The place I both long to be and dread to go, usually in equal measure.

    “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
    Robert Frost

    This same time, years previous: coming home, the proper procedure for toweling off after a shower, outside eating, calf wrangling, the good things that happen, 2012 garden stats and notes, how to clean a room, fruit-on-the-bottom baked oatmeal.

  • a hernia, hip-hip!

    Yesterday my husband had hernia repair surgery up in DC.

    “free” socks!

    He was supposed to have it at our local hospital but several days prior to his scheduled surgery, a couple friends mentioned a doctor up in DC who specialized in hernia repairs and charged straight up. Just, 2100 dollars and ba-bam, done.

    So then that information prompted a whole bunch of questions. What did the hospital surgery cost? How much would our insurance cover? Would a couple trips to DC — first for the consultation and then for the surgery — actually save us money?

    My husband made a bunch of phone calls, trying to pin down an actual number. Nobody could tell him anything, really, but eventually he got a loose breakdown: The operating room would cost x-amount of dollars, they said, and the surgeon y-amount, but the anesthesiologist charged by the minute so… (insert helpless shoulder shrug).

    Finally someone referred him to an estimation department and they told him that the hospital charges $15K, but the agreement between the hospital and the insurance company is that the most the insurance company will be billed is an estimate $7900. And of that, we’d be responsible for our deductible and co-insurance, blah-blah-blah. In conclusion: we’d probably end up spending between four and five thousand dollars for the surgery. But that was only a guess. One never actually knew how these things might go.

    Except this doctor in DC knew. His surgery even came with a three-year warranty.

    So we switched. My husband called the office and that evening the doctor — yes, the actual doctor — called him back to discuss his case. Wednesday, my husband drove up for his three-minute check-up — Yep, it’s a hernia — and then yesterday I went up with him for the surgery. (If he’d waited for another week, he could’ve done the check-in and surgery in the same day, but because of an upcoming project at work, he wanted to get the surgery over as soon as possible.)

    Everything went like clockwork. They were ready for him when we arrived (on time), and when I went back to see him before they wheeled him into the OR, there was a small crowd loitering around his gurney, tying their masks and waiting for the nurse to finish finalizing the paperwork.

    I read for a couple hours (Slow Man; it seemed fitting) before they called me back to fetch him. I helped dressed him, said hello to the doctor, got his home-care instructions, and then, a few minutes later, we were walking (or rather I walked, he shuffled), hand-in-hand, out to the car.

    The whole experience felt efficient and neat, and clean. Whereas the hospital had seemed positively obsessed with contamination — they’d given my husband a whole list of detailed instructions: the night before surgery he was to shower with a clean bar of soap, dress in clean clothes, and sleep in a bed with clean sheets; the morning of, he was to shower again, with another bar of clean soap (what is this, As Good As It Gets?) and with a bottle of sterile solution that, according to the warning label, may or may not make a person go blind, and change into yet another clean set of clothes — the surgery center gave none. Just, don’t eat. Which made sense. At the surgery center, they were doing routine surgeries for mostly healthy people, but at the hospital, a place teeming with disease, the risk of infection was much greater. (So why are hospitals doing surgeries for healthy people in the first place?)

    Back at home, the kids had cleaned the house. Our bed was made, a jar of flowers on my husband’s dresser. My mother brought us enough supper to feed us for three meals, and a chocolate coconut cake.

    Today my husband is sore, but Ibuprofen and Tylenol are enough to manage the pain. The kids and I did school work and chores.

    While I wrote upstairs, he monitored the chaos, sort of. All afternoon, he’s lounged on the sofa or recliner, taking catnaps, reading, watching somethingorother on his computer, and helping our younger daughter prepare for her driver’s ed test.

    It’s fun having him here, all to ourselves, unable to do work and projects or lift more than ten pounds.

    getting (rolling) up

    It’s like he’s on holiday which, in turn, makes everything feel a little more relaxed, a little more special, like a party.

    This same time, years previous: the big finale, southern sweet tea, five-dollar curtido, in my kitchen, in my kitchen: 5:25 p.m., the cousins came, regretful wishing.