Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quiche Me, You Fool

I have a love/hate relationship with rain. OK, maybe love is too strong a word. I know rain is necessary. But because I am a dog owner, and the type of person who gets a chill if someone even utters the word "snow," waking up to rain and the knowledge that I have to walk the dogs is just downright painful. Griping and moaning, I drag the unwilling animals out of the house with two leashes in one hand and an umbrella in the other, sternly urging them at every pause to 'get on with it' so we can head back to the house as soon as possible.

And while I hate having to go out in the rain, with all the negative feelings that it incites in me, I actually have a great appreciation for it too. Because once I get back from walking the dogs on a rainy day, I dry them down, kick off my boots and put on my apron.

While many would consider rain to be a 'paperwork' day, when they can force themselves to sit down without guilt and go through bills and filing that have piled up, its cold and unappealing nature essentially shoves me out of the office and into the kitchen. Since it's the dark and cold that I loathe, the kitchen is my haven on these days, and cooking saves me.

Many times it doesn't even matter what I cook. A big pot of soup, some stew and biscuits or maybe a roast--nothing is ruled out. If I haven't figured out a dinner plan yet, I'll shoot for lunch. Today it was ham, cheese, spinach and tomato quiche with a homemade crust: one for me, one for the freezer. (OK, I'll share.) Since it didn't take very long, I'm thinking of making some pancakes to have on hand for the boys' breakfasts during the week, especially since they both have colds and sore throats now. (Ain't that always the way with the first month of school?) Finally, I'll have to truly christen the new oven with a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

For years I've wondered why my love of cooking swings to both ends of the spectrum: some days I just want to order every meal out, and others I want to eschew every other obligation and just cook for hours.

I'm starting to think that rushing to get something on the table that everyone will eat, while feeling I have other things that need tending to, is really the culprit behind those days I hate to cook. Knowing that I can't spend the time and creative energy to make it warm enough--in my kitchen and heart--to produce quality results is stressful and disheartening. It makes cooking feel like work.

So with winter here already (OK, maybe not technically, but 40-degree nights are, in my mind, winter), it's time to start planning some meals to really put my new kitchen to the test. And maybe with enough practice, I'll stumble upon some dishes that even my kids will be willing to try. If not, at least I'll be warm and dry and having fun trying.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Outsourced Diet

I would like to thank my husband for keeping me thin. Because yes, he is responsible. How, you may ask, is this possible?

Did he buy me a gym membership?

Does he exercise with me every day?

Does he cook me healthful and nutritious meals?

Or is it just the pure joy of being married to him that keeps me not only thin, but rich, happy and wrinkle-free too?

None of the above.

My husband keeps me thin by doing the grocery shopping. All of it.

"Wow!" you must be thinking. "How great! You must be thrilled that he does all the grocery shopping! One more huge task you don't have to deal with!"

Yes, I concede I am very happy to not worry about the grocery shopping and all of the flyer-studying, coupon-clipping and price-calculating that the job entails. Really. I pretty much hate math more than anything. Except maybe cleaning toilets.

But he does that too.

So yes, I also concede that not having to clean the toilets keeps me very happy (though the job is so nauseating that if I *did* have to do it, that would probably keep me pretty thin as well).

But I digress, and while I've listed some of the ways my husband keeps me happy, I haven't yet gotten to the point of exactly how his doing the grocery shopping actually keeps me thin. And so the truth comes out:

He buys lousy desserts.

Now, if you were to poll my children--or even my husband--on this, you'd get a very different answer. But this is my blog, so here, it's all about me. And to me, mint chocolate chip ice cream ranks right up there with Ben & Jerry's new flavor, Schweddy Balls on the appealing-flavor-meter. But since that's the fave of all the boys in the house (read: everyone who lives here but me), that's the flavor that rules in our freezer.

Fine. What about some cookies? Surely there are cookies?

Yes, there are cookies. If you could call them that. Like the mint ice cream, the cookie that comes home is the one that pleases the majority. So for those of you keeping track, #3 on the icky desserts list is:


I'm not picky. I'd be happy with some Dark Chocolate M&Ms, Double Stuff Oreos, Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk and maybe the occasional bag of Hershey Kisses. I'd even stash them so no one else would have to see or eat them.

But those of you who can appreciate the common denominator in these options (read: you women out there) also understand that I can't complain. Because the reason I'm thin is that these things *aren't* in my house. Like, ever.

And since it really only irks me once a month or so, I'll let it go again. At least for today.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Secret Love

The women I know who have daughters are always telling me about the drama in the lives of girls: friends who aren't being friendly anymore; who said what about whom; crying outbursts over seemingly nothing. And every time I hear one of these stories, I am secretly happy--again--to have only sons. They don't wear their hearts on their sleeves. They say what they mean. Everything is pretty much black and white--very little middle ground. In essence, you know where you stand with boys, and emotion rarely gets in the way.

I thought this was wonderful. Until yesterday.

On the first day of school, I put little notes of encouragement into each of my sons' lunch boxes. A little pick me up from home to help with the anxiety of starting a new school year, I figured. Jacob came home and hugged me, thanking me for the note. Ben didn't say anything, but his note came back home with him in his lunch box. I left it in there for day two, just in case he had missed it the first day. I even opened it a little so he could see it was a card with a message inside. It came home again. Finally, I asked him if he had seen the note I sent him.

"Oh, yeah, I saw it. Um, Mom, please don't put those in my lunch anymore."

I'm sorry. What?

"Why not, Ben? Didn't you like it?" I asked, trying to hide the feeling of having been punched in the stomach.

Then Jacob piped up, perhaps to save my feelings in case Ben decided to be honest.

"It's OK, Mom, I've got this," he said. "Ben," he said, turning to his brother, "just do what I do. When you see the note, just pretend you're looking for something in your lunch bag and read it without taking it out. Then you don't have to be embarrassed."

Embarrassed? What? Jacob too? At this point, after having told all my friends about the love that boys have for their mothers, how much better it is to have boys than girls, I was speechless. I had to leave the room.

After a while, I realized that I couldn't take it personally. Kids are going to be embarrassed by their parents' expressions of care and love, regardless of whether they are boys are girls. It's not me. It's them.

Once I accepted this--that Ben was only rejecting my expression of love while among his peers, and not actually rejecting my love --I felt much better. Plus, Ben accepted his brother's advice with grace and was, mercifully, silent on the subject afterward.

Whether he would still welcome a love note, now that he has the reading tip from his brother, is unknown. I'm OK now, but I think I'll wait a little while before asking if he still wants me to refrain from sending them.

Like a year or two.