18 May 2013

Menu: 5/15-5/22

Okay, we're going to get back to it.  It always runs so much more smoothly when there is some thought put into what we're going to eat, you know, before 3 pm the day of the needing to eat. And I like to be able to read what others are eating, and trying to post this holds me accountable. 

So, this week:

Wednesday night my daddy took us to see Lyle Lovett at the best venue in the world - Thalia Mara Hall.  Okay, perhaps not the world.  But the acoustics are great, seats comfy and not a bad one in the house, and it's 9 minutes from my house, making it awesome.

The kids ate leftover lasagna, and Paul and I joined Brooks and Carrie at the best restaurant in the world.  Okay, perhaps not the world.  But maybe.  Walker's Drive-In.  And, I've become convinced that soft shell crab is in season in the gulf in May simply because of divine providence allowing it to be at the same time as my birthday.   So, soft shell crab, lemon tarragon butter, red potato mash and thin beans for supper.  Plated perfection.

Thursday, we had Red Beans and Rice - Plain ol' Jane ol' cheap and filling. 

For lunch on Friday, we had red bean and rice tortilla roll ups.  See what I did there?  Sneaky sneaky.    Friday night, we had an end-of-season cookout with Eas's baseball team.  There were burgers, chips, hot dogs.  I was in charge of the best thing ever -  Capri Suns.  I rocked it out with those capri suns.

Today for lunch, well, I should probably come up with something....

Tonight for supper: Pork Loin over Vidalia Onions and Apple Cider.  Something along these lines:  Recipe Here.  Lady Peas, Roasted Broccoli, Mashed Potatoes.  This is me, cleaning out the pantry and freezer.  Good shall conquer evil.  Or at least efficiency shall conquer waste. 

Tomorrow, we have a food filled day.  We have our Pentecost luncheon at church -  I'm contributing a quiche (fillings as yet undetermined, but I'm thinking it might involve shredded pork loin, some chopped roasted vidalias and maybe some roasted broccoli?  ;)  ), Roasted Asparagus with Vermouth Butter, and a Pear Tarte or Gallette or some such.

Tomorrow afternoon, I get to help give a baby shower.  And I'm responsible for cracker candy and for spinach dip.  I recently had the best spinach dip so far in my life - it's easy to get bored of it - but it was so good, and I'm so excited to try the recipe I begged off of a kindly woman at a party...

Tomorrow night, we are celebrating my mother's day, a bit late (insane week), and we're having steak and twice baked potatoes and the rest of the works.  I'm cooking, but Paul is doing all of the setting up, cleaning up, minding the children, etc. 

Monday for lunch, we'll be plowing through leftovers.  

Monday evening, we've a birthday party to attend.  I imagine there will either be pizza or grilled hot dogs.  Win/Win.

Tuesday evening, Paul and I have a meeting to attend.  The kids are having supper with their grandparents, I think, or we'll continue the leftover plow-through.  Paul and I will, I'm sure, grab taco bell on the way home from our meeting, which will be a travesty. 

Okay, back in the saddle.  Feeling better.  Life under control.  We're a gonna make it.  I shall not be sick at my stomach for the remainder of my lifetime.  People will be fed.


15 May 2013

Freezer Inventory and Giving Thanks

A dear friend came to play today, but instead of just playing, we cleaned out my refrigerator.  This had not been done since 2012, I'm pretty sure.  Which means it was uber gross. 

Actually, I think it's been grosser before, and that's just by some miracle. 

So, we pulled everything out and washed the fridge guts and then put everything back in.  Which is just the best feeling in the world.  The kids were even showing it off to one another.  "Look, Ada, Look at the refrigerator!" 

Anna's baby, Roland, even climbed in before we added anything back (except the bottom produce drawer - it was already filled).

14 May 2013

A Girl! In All her Resplendent Glory

I spotted this post this morning, linked from a few friends on my facebook newsfeed. The pictures are beautiful and the project is creative. 

I was immediately drawn to it; I try to keep up with issues of The Woman, especially as related to The Little Girl.  I have one of those - little girls, that is -  and I remain concerned with the images we project onto our daughters.  [This week we're seeing the inability of Disney to let strong, real girls remain apart from sexual objectification, as seen with the reformatting of Merida, the atypical princess from the movie Brave.]   These images we continue to project, post sexual-revolution, have resulted in a culture of pornography and eating disorders, not to mention continuing the culture of unhappy marriages, divorce, and abuse. 

The second reason to be drawn to this post is that the photography is excellent.  I know not Jaime Moore, but she can sure take a picture. 

And the third reason (and it's entirely self-centered): I did a report on Amelia Earhart in second grade and have a treasured picture of myself dressed in my leather flight jacket and some sort of goggles on my head. 

So, I love these ladies - Especially Amelia, Helen, and Susan B, who are personal faves of mine.  And the little girl being photographed, well, she looks happy and to be enjoying the exercise.  And her mother's motivations are good:  stay away from the prostitutes-disguised-as-heroes in most of pop culture today.


I have a few objections to this type of thing being the key to alternative, fix-the-bad-feminine-images strategy.  Please don't read this as a criticism of Jaime Moore.  She seems an earnest, excellent type who aside from taking great pictures, is being thoughtful about how to rescue her little one from the false images of sexuality that pervade and prevail.  I'm just reluctant to join the bandwagon of "isn't this cool" linking up to this project.  It is cool.  But, I fear it is not the complete answer. 

So, to the However. 

09 May 2013

It's (not) my right: Fighting to, in fact, be a thankful house

Paul and I believe that thankfulness is the solution to many of the world's ills, thus the name of this here little corner of the internet.  And, our own world is no exception.  When there is grumpiness, chase it away with thankfulness.  When there is frustration or giving up or meanness or illness, conquer with gratitude, cheerfulness, joy.

But, not so surprisingly, sometimes that's hard.

And, as matriarch of the day, I have a special burden.  Ain't nobody happy when Mama's not happy?  Well, ain't nobody thankful for jack when Mama is just a fussin' up a storm.

And the fussing doesn't start outloud.  It starts inside.  And usually, it starts with perceived victim-hood, right?  We all know this feeling.  I have been injured, and now I am irritated, so now I am grumpy, and eventually, it works its way outward and we start snipping over the fact that are you seriously asking me again where your d**n shoes are?
And of course, the worst perceived injuries are those perpetrated against us by our families.  The world is not really out to get you, but your family probably is, right?

My husband is the most hard working, caring, kind man I have ever known, and he genuinely wants me to be happy, healthy, and holy.  And his ego doesn't even get in the way of those desires.  But, still, he clearly is in a plot to make me miserable, says the small part at the back of my head.

And do you know when the primitive id rears its ugly head and insists that gratitude is far from what is needed?

Every year at this time.
(And I bet I'm not alone here.) 

It's Mothers' Day season. 

This is a day to give us mothers a time when we are officially appreciated. The idea is that our job is thankless, and that if we can just have this one Sunday, all manner of thing shall be well. 

However, if you are as blessed as I am, you are appreciated most days.  My husband puts our children to bed, while I sit on the couch or languish in the bed or scroll at the computer, every.single.night.   My sons are, as I type, playing a game in the back yard of "Who can pick Mama the most flowers" and my daughter tells me about once a week that dinner was just so delicious and she hopes she can one day cook like I do.  And they all defer to me in matters of the matriarchy -  I dictate, hopefully benevolently and with input, the way in which our life runs on a day to day and celebratory basis.  Christmas goes the way Ann Lowrey arranges for it to go. 

They do appreciate me.  They all four do.  No, really.  But, that is not enough in my own mind.  And, to top it all off, nothing ever would be.  That's the problem, right?

One year on Mothers' Day morning, they brought me breakfast in bed.  It was pretty much my least favorite foods, all ill-prepared.  Who is the ungrateful one now?  Who doesn't appreciate whom?

Why do I (we?) feel this way?  Why is it not enough?

I was sitting here this morning and psyching myself up for not being a witch, even internally, this mothers' day.  And I realized why we keep waiting for the perfect celebration brought to us by our people.

It's because, at least for me, I'm the one who is good at this stuff.  I plan, I celebrate, I find the thing that they all need to make them feel special.  This is my job.  I better be good at it.  I am in the business of making a home.  This means the daily things and then the special things.  I am supposed to interpret and parse the real injuries from the dramatic ones, and react accordingly.  I am to take the temperature constantly.  I am to know who is stressed and why - who needs a pick me up and how - and then to enact it.  I am to recognize the reasons for and then ensure the celebrations.  And so, because of these duties, I get better at these things. 

So, this day rolls around.  And if I could celebrate myself, I'm sure I'd do a bang up job.

I would appear at my own door with a coke icee first thing in the morning.  I would send me to the book store with one of the children, and then I would clean the house for me.  I would administer a foot rub and a back rub and put on Norah Jones or better still that Diana Krall album Paul bought for me the summer Ada Brooks was born, candles lit.  I would have developed a slide show of pictures from my years of mothering, and, being inside my own head, I would know exactly what sounds good for breakfast, lunch, supper, dessert, and would pull it off with the right bit of panache.  There would be ice cream.  And I would know whether or not I was in the mood for silence or visiting, all the kids climbing up in bed with me or not, a hike or a nap, an outing or 30 rock.
I could really Mothers' Day it up around here. 

But of course, we don't want to do that.  We want them to know it all and do it as well as we'd do it for ourselves.  Even though this is what we do all day, and this is what they do once or twice a year.

I have a favorite song - it's by Mary Chapin Carpenter - the lyrics are all about a woman and those small things she wants.  It's got a great piano intro, and she rocks the guitar while singing in that great old country-rock style that defined my childhood.  She just wants pens that don't run out of ink, and, ultimately, she just wants passionate kisses.  She sounds so reasonable.  And then, she gets more and more irritated and she finally says, "Do I want too much; am I going overboard to want that touch?  Shout it out to the night; give me what I deserve.  It's my right."

And so, the seed of ingratitude grows.

[And, just before we allow ourselves on the high horse:  quiet martyrdom is no better, and sometimes more long-term harmful, than actually fussing.  Thinking, 'oh, they can't help but be terrible husbands and children, but my role as mother and wife is to sacrifice and so I shall be silent and alone and only the Lord will know the sufferings of my heart, woe unto me' may be worse than saying, 'hey sweetheart - could you buck up and do something for me?' Silent martyrdom isn't helpful; the only solution is recognizing how well-loved and undeservedly blessed we already are.] 

 "It's not hard to love on people - just love on me."
"Love is a transitive verb, afterall."
 "Just try, for goodness sakes."
all run through my head, and too many days for me to admit, escape my lips.

And they do try.
And they perform at about a C- level.
And our victim hood grows.

It is the sin of our mother Eve.  She knows better, and probably, if you'll just let her alone, she'll take care of it, and you'll all see.  But see, she doesn't just want to do it her way; she wants you to do it her way as well.  It is, in a word, disgusting.

So, admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it, right.  I am joining Ingratitude Anonymous.
The list of things for which I should be on my knees constantly giving thanks about is ridiculously long.  God is good to the world He created.

I have an employed husband who seriously never quits serving people, usually us, who is also awfully funny and a terribly good kisser.  I have three pretty children who are healthy and amusing and generally pleasant.  I have a house - with 75 year old wood floors - a gas stove, gin and tonics, phenomenal friends, a church family that actually loves us, reliable transportation, clean water, great extended family, my health, hulu and netflix, an in-house and public library system,  sauteed onions and chocolate milkshakes, great music.  

But, for mothers' day, because I deserve it, afterall, I would also like 100 ranunculus in this perfect shade of antique ecru with an ever so slight tinge of pink undertones.  Carnations are evil; don't even try that jazz.  And why, family, do you not already know this? 

Lord have mercy on my soul.

08 May 2013

Dinner and a Movie

I've been plotting our summer school experience around here.  It's difficult for homeschooling mothers - or probably any sort of educator-parent - to just enjoy the summer break.  However, I do believe in a break.  Slow growth.  Relaxed progress.  Joyful.  Calm.  Fun.  Easy.  Flexible. 

But, we have to do something.  It's not just my educator compulsion -  it's also because I know full brain disengagement for 3 months is actually damaging.  And because my children - like their mother - do poorly with an empty to do list. 

So, we have a few goals for the summer. 

1)  Swimming.  We are all four (Paul just won't) going to practice our swimming nearly daily.  The older two kids have joined the swim team, and Collins and I will join them at the pool most days. 

2)  Reading.  We'll all read a lot.  Collins will just listen. But Eason and Ada Brooks have ambitious reading goals, as do I - mainly reading aloud to the kids, but also doing some personal reading. 

3)  Memory Work.  We are all working on a list of things we'd like to memorize this summer.  We're aiming at very short lists, so we'll actually succeed.  ;)

4) Morning Meeting.  We did these last summer, and the kids still ask after them.  It is a brief 15-25 minute meeting most mornings when we sing, pray, recite, catechize, laugh and start our day from a centered place.  Yes, a combination or orthodox western Christianity and some eastern mysticism? 

5)  Miscellany.  Eason wants to improve his violin.  Ada Brooks has determined to learn to type 20 words a minute.  (Start small...).  Eason and Collins want to throw and catch a ball without dropping it 15 times in a row.  (Again, small).  Ada Brooks is going to plan and cook supper once a week.  Ada Brooks and Eason both need to work on their math facts speed.  They get the right answers; it takes them FOREVER. 

So, those are the categories.   As part of the Reading category, I had this idea that once a week we'd watch a movie that had been based on a book that one of us had read.  Ada Brooks will carry the plurality, and Eason will have a few and a few will be read aloud by Paul or me to the kids. 

Here is the dinner and a movie schedule.  The person who read the book will give the rest of the family a brief summary, we'll eat (on tv trays!) and watch the movie version.  Ada Brooks, for her 5 books, will write a compare and contrast paragraph about the book and movie.  Maybe.  If she enjoys it.  It's summer time after all. 

  • Basil of Baker Street - Mama reads aloud - Movie on May 23rd
  • The Secret Garden -  Ada Brooks -  Movie on May 28th
  • The Wizard of Oz - Mama reads Aloud - Movie on June 4th
  • Shrek -  Eason - Movie on June 18th
  • Swiss Family Robinson - Ada Brooks -  Movie on June 25th
  • Nim's Island - Daddy read Aloud - Movie on July 2nd
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Ada Brooks - Movie on July 9th
  • The Princess Bride - Mama read aloud - Movie on July 16th
  • The Littles - Eason - Movie on July 23rd
  • A Wrinkle in Time - Ada Brooks - Movie on July 30th
  • Stuart Little - Eason - Movie on August 6th
  • Around the World in 80 Days - Ada Brooks - Movie on August 13th

If anyone wants to join us for any of the Dinners with Movies, let us know!