Monday, March 18, 2013

The Joy of Cooking and other Myths of Motherhood

Every once in a while I start feeling really sorry for my husband.

The man grew up with Paula Dean, Martha Stewart, and Emeril all combined in his wonderful mother.  

The woman can cook.  Seriously cook.

And then there's me.  

I remain convinced that cooking is a direct result of the Fall of man when sin entered the world.  

Anyway, today I decided that my poor husband was long overdue for a good meal.  I loaded up the kids and took them to Publix, where we carefully selected each item we would need for one of his favorite dishes.  

I got started right away when we got home.  I carefully chopped celery and onions so they could saute in the pan.  I added all the herbs and lemon zest and got to work carefully slicing the loaf of french bread to line the bottom of the skillet.

And then came the part where nothing but true love would motivate me...I had to work with a whole chicken.  

Eww!!!  Hate it!  Would MUCH rather change a dirty diaper than deal with raw, slimy chicken with giblets and skin and...well, you get the picture.  Not my favorite activity, but alas, the recipe specifically instructed to use a whole chicken for flavor.  

Finally, after much face making and hand washing, I finished preparing the chicken and laid him out on top of the sliced bread and sauteed veggies.  Checking the recipe once more, I popped it in the oven and set the timer for 1 1/2 hours. I smiled the contented smile of a woman who knows her family will be pleased.  Score one for domestic me.  

Fast forward 90 minutes.  Everyone is starving.  The kids are hungry enough to willingly eat fruit as they wait for the main course.   I pull the piping hot dish from the oven and immediately know something is dreadfully wrong.

The blackened vegetables were my first clue.  

And yet, my sweet husband says not a word as he begins carving the chicken.  He dishes it out onto plates for the children while I get everyone a drink and utensils.   

Remember that scene from National Lampoon's Christmas when Clark and his family are trying desperately to eat the bone dry turkey that cousin Eddie and his wife overcooked?  Remember all the guzzling of water and coughing and endless chewing as they tried to be polite and eat at least a couple bites?  

The scene in my kitchen was disturbingly close to this very moment in the movie (except I am not blonde nor do I wear white blouses with actual buttons to dinner).I only wished I had a cousin Eddie to blame it on.  But alas, it was all ME.  My fault.

The kids scraped all the chargrilled veggies off the bread.  I use the word "bread" loosely.  At this point it was much more identifiable as giant croutons than bread.

My oldest daughter, trying to use her table manners, attempted to use her fork and knife to cut her bread into bite sized pieces.

Have you ever tried to cut a crouton with a butter knife?

It went flying across the table, which of course caused an eruption of pent up laughter from everyone.

At the same moment, my middle child's eyes became as big as saucers and she began gulping down her water.  "Too spicy!"  she gasped.

The littlest one just declared she had filled up on fruit and went back to her sticker book.

And my dear, sweet husband, trying ever so hard to be thoughtful, just ate quietly.  His eyes did water a little, though.  It was a bit on the spicy side, I suppose.

I couldn't help it.  I started laughing.  This seemed to give everyone else permission to do the same.

"It's good!  Really!  Maybe it was in there just a tad too long," my husband offered.

But I followed the recipe exactly!  I got up and pulled out that worn sheet of paper where I'd written it down years ago at my mother-in-law's house.

Hmm.  I studied the cook time again.  What I'd thought said 90 minutes actually said 30 minutes.  That would explain it.  I looked up at my poor family still trying to eat bread dry enough to scratch your throat on the way down and I took pity on them.

I got out the ice cream and we made root beer floats.

So my impressive meal didn't turn out exactly like I'd hoped.  We made a memory as a family tonight.  We laughed together at the table and talked about one of our favorite movies and I modeled for them (AGAIN) that it's okay to make mistakes.

And those things mean much more to me than any compliments to the chef.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Real Source of the Pain in my Neck....

So I've had a teeny bit of trouble with stress lately.

We just got back from THIS place last week.

Let me tell you, the happiest place on earth is no relaxing day at the beach when keeping up with 3 kids in huge crowds and figuring out the best uses of your fast passes and making sure the kids see everything you know they'll love.  Great trip, NOT great for stress, though.

But then again, what mom DOESN'T have some stress to deal with?  Or what human being, for that matter?!  I should be able to handle this, right?

But alas, after several months of waking from sleep due to aching shoulders and neck muscles, I gave up thinking I could just buckle down and get through it.

And for the first time ever, I visited a chiropractor.  I figured if it helped AT ALL it would be worth it, right?  Just a little instruction on some exercises I could do or things to avoid, or ANYTHING at all that would provide some relief and relaxation.


I forgot to mention that I brought my youngest little minion along with me since she didn't have preschool that morning.

Armed with her big sister's purse stuffed with plastic animals, she followed me quietly into the examination room.  While we waited to see the doctor, she took out every single one of the 56 animals and lined them up against the wall.

Didn't phase me a bit.  I was quite pleased with her behavior, actually.

The doctor came in and we talked for a few moments.  He asked what situations in my life I would currently identify as stressors.

He had to ask me three times because I was distracted by the 4-year-old pulling on my arm asking where the paper towels were because she had spilled her juice box on the massage table.

A few minutes later, a nurse came in and hooked me up to some kind of machine that delivered an electrical massage of sorts to my shoulders and neck.  I was instructed to lay facedown on the massage table and just enjoy about 10 minutes of quiet and a heating pad on my back.

No problem.  I handed my iphone off to my child and gave her full freedom to play every game I have on there (Okay, stop judging).  I breathed deeply and closed my eyes, feeling the little machine thingy doing its magic on my tired shoulders.

"Mommy!  Open your eyes.  Stop sleeping!" I heard a little voice say.

I opened my eyes and looked thru the little opening where you put your face.  I saw little hands with my iPhone.  She was showing me a picture she had taken of me laying on the table.

"Honey, can you go back and play with your animals some more?" I suggested, closing my eyes again.

"Okay, Mommy."  The sound of little feet padding over to the corner of the room satisfied my request.

Three seconds later, I heard giggling.

"Mommy!  That's so funny!  I put the piggy on your back!  Look at this picture!"

I opened my eyes again.  Sure enough, she was holding the phone for me to see and she had, in fact, taken a picture of a toy pig sitting on the heating pad on my back.

"Okay, please take him down and go back to your corner."

I again closed my eyes, willing the ache in my shoulders to just go away.  The dimly lit room and comfy table and music were so nice.

Suddenly, I felt something was not quite right.  It was too quiet.

"Babe?  What are you doing?"

"I put all the piggy's friends on your back!  They look so funny!"

She showed me the picture evidence once more.

I managed to convince her to take down the animal party off my back mere seconds before the chiropractor returned.  For the remainder of the appointment, my sweet child stood transfixed by my side, precariously balancing about five animals in each hand and I could tell she was just bursting to talk or ask questions.

I thought to myself that PERHAPS bringing a 4-year-old (even though she really was very good in 4-year-old world!) had not been the wisest choice for de-stressing and focusing on the doctor's suggestions on how to relieve tense muscles.

Thankfully, the staff was very kind and patient and just smiled at the antics of a young child.  As I filled out paperwork and stood at the front desk before we left (which was interrupted when I had to go retrieve my little runner from making her way to the parking lot alone), the doctor came by and brought me yet another toy we had left behind.

As we got into my mom mobile and the sounds of Snow White's high pitched singing filled the car, I decided there was just one thing left I should try...

The ultimate stress reliever. We got a manicure.
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