Monday, June 28, 2010
(Aside: just last week I found out my doctor screwed up Silas's immunization record and gave him an unnecessary shot -- !!!!!! -- I was (am) livid. Big flaw).
I guess the thing about parenting -- both the most terrifying and utterly cozy thing -- is that we do it alone. Even when we have amazing friends, family, support, within the walls of our house, when we look our child in the eye, no one sees us. No one hears us. We are on our own.
The past two weeks, with jet lag, fatigue, adjustment between DC and here, I've found myself a little lost on my own and in want of answers. Clear lines drawn for how to parent well. Silas is four and throws major tantrums. How to respond (at all) constructively? Eden screams and kicks and flails when Ben tries to change her diaper and only wants me. How to counter her rejecting? Question after question...
And perhaps the answer is there is no answer. We often hear that we're terrorized by all the information at our fingertips, that too much of a good thing is, indeed, bad. Are we becoming more enlightened as we learn or more obsessive? Probably a bit of both. Either way, it sure is easy to lose touch with our guts and own quiet wisdom and let impatience rule. Especially when we're tired. Which I am. And this week, even as we've embraced summer at the museum, pancake house, zoo, swimming pool, easel, and kitchen table, I've been struck by how quickly I can lose sight of Silas and Eden, themselves -- their needs, humor, and delights-- and see only the busyness and duties that come with them.
I realize it again and again, how brief this time is when they saturate us -- our minds, muscles, hours, and energy. As I sit here stuck in this rut, maybe rather than hunting for answers, I should start trying to see the small people in front of me.
It used to be that if a child was sick, she was sick. She stayed in bed. Soup arrived on a tray. She took lukewarm baths and held cool wash clothes on her forehead. She felt sick. Generally, when my kids are sick, I give them tylenol and usher them out the door. Or schlep them to the pediatrician for antibiotics. I like to say I use antibiotics sparingly, but in truth, we more often than not end up with them, and they always seem to work...
Today, Silas is complaining of a sore throat. (the non-contagious sore throat??? that we just invited friends over to play with???) My impulse, immediately, is to take him to the doctor. In fact I already called and scheduled an appointment. Watching myself, I am amazed by how hesitant I am to sit with the sick, even a viral sore throat that I *know* will run its course because Eden's just did. But the questions: what if it was strep? What if Eden's sore throat disappeared only to lodge in her ear as an underground infection? What if --
I think as well as not wanting a sleepless, whiny, sad sick child (and tired parent), I may also have an addiction to the pediatrician, which, after thinking about it, is rooted in answers. In parenting, I constantly swim through uncertainty -- have I damaged him forever because ___? Was ____the right way to respond to tantrum #6 of the morning? Should I let her decide ____? How can I be more patient??? So settling in next to a pediatrician who can peek into the depths, even the physical ones, of my children and give me a definitive answer feels like a gift. And a relief. A quick bright flash in the dark as I feel my way along.
Today I made this sandwich from Food Network Magazine (cover recipe, May 2010 issue), and it turned out to be the best sandwich I have ever made. I used sharp cheddar instead of Taleggio.
Ham-Taleggio Grilled Cheese from Food Network Magazine
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 8 thin slices white bread
- 10 ounces taleggio cheese, rind removed, sliced
- 8 ounces thinly sliced ham
- 1 green apple, thinly sliced
Melt 1 tablespoon butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. (For a shortcut, use onion marmalade in place of the caramelized onions.)
Lay out 4 slices of bread. Top with half the cheese, then half the ham. Layer the caramelized onions, apple slices and the remaining ham and cheese on top, then the remaining bread slices.
Wipe out the skillet; melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat. Add 2 sandwiches and cook, pressing gently with a spatula, until the bottom is golden and the cheese begins to melt, about 4 minutes.
Flip and cook until golden, about 4 more minutes. Repeat with the remaining butter and sandwiches.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Recently, Silas discovered that occasionally, boxes have a hidden prize (which has made the grocery store a war zone a few times). Right now, Kelloggs boxes have a Toy Story code inside of them -- a certain number of codes equals a prize: concession dollars, an alien light, a movie ticket etc. We are shooting for four codes -- the piggy bank.
We went to the grocery store yesterday, and who KNEW that only the sugary junky cereals have prizes!!! Not rice krispies, just chocolate or strawberry kirspies, not corn flakes, only frosted flakes -- COME ON. So we still only have two boxes. But June 30th is closing in fast and I did set a goal...
Blueberry Pie (or Early Summer Pie):
crust:In a 9" pie plate combine and mix
1 1/2 c flour
2 T sugar
1 t salt
in a separate bowl mix
1/2 c canola oil
2 T milk
Pour liquid over flour mixture in pie plate
Mix with fork
Pat out and shape in pie pan
Prick with fork
Bake at 400 until lightly golden (10-12 min)
filling:2 c crushed strawberries
1 1/4 c sugar (can use less if berries are v. sweet)
3 T cornstarch
1/4 t salt
Mix all in a pot
Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes
cook until clear-ish
Here comes the part you can adjust however you'd like:
*for early summer pie -
peel and cut apricots into hot strawberry mixture and let cool together
fill baked crust with a pint of fresh blueberries (tart ones work well) or blackberries
pour the cooked strawberry filling on top
*for a strawberry pie-
cut the tops off a pint of strawberries and arrange fresh berries at the bottom of pie shell, pour cooked filling over
Or for just blueberry pie,
2 T cornstarch
1/4-1/2 c sugar (depending on sweetness of berries)
1/2 c water
1/4 t salt
1t lemon juice
2 c berries
Boiled 5 min, then folded in 2 more c raw berries
You get the idea -- you can use really any fruit -- peaches, other berries.
The idea is to mix the very sweet cooked filling with the fresh.
I read about a tomato galette not long ago and have been craving one ever since. For this pie, I also made a crust right in the plate (mixed the dough, let it sit for 10 minutes in a ball, then formed the crust) but used an olive-oil based, more savory dough. It was delish. I bet you could also chill and roll the dough out to make a rustic tart on a baking sheet, folding the edges of the dough up around the filling.
Tomato Galette adapted from Vegetarian TimesCrust (I halved this recipe for my 2 little tarts):
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup canola oil (I used olive oil instead, which was perfect with the tomatoes)
3 Tbs. cold water
Mix salt and flour in pie plate; make a well in center and pour in oil and water. Mix with fork -- mix as little as possible, just enough to bring dough together. Let dough rest 10 minutes. Press into pie plate.
Seed and half tomatoes and fill crust, then add what sounds good.
For one tart I mixed the tomatoes with basil, Parmesan, and salt, and
for the other I diced rosemary and garlic and sprinkled it over the tomatoes.
Ricotta, feta, caramelized onions, olives -- would all be delicious, too.Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake 15 more minutes.
(My cooking time was less because my tarts were the size of my hand -- adjust accordingly).
Cool 10 minutes and serve.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Last night I fell asleep before 8:00.
And this morning everything feels just a little bit off.
I am sitting at the table drinking tea with honey and lemon. Silas and Eden are watching Sesame Street (which Eden just called Cookame Street). The sky is overcast and the morning looks cool outside.
Last week, in a bust of energy, I made a curriculum for our whole summer. Each week is themed and involves trips to the library, field trips to LA museums, outings around town, various art projects, and journals for each of them.
This morning the plan looks awfully ambitious.
Today starts Music week.
Sesame Street has ended and the kids are hovering at my elbows, trying to push the computer keys and climb into my lap. The day calls -- it's time to decorate the covers of their journals. Wish me luck...
Friday, June 18, 2010
Since I've been home from DC, this task has felt a bit relentless, I'm sure partly because of the transition from being surrounded by family to being alone.
There is the constant picking up.
The constant organizing, sifting through, and cleaning out toys.
The constant washing of hands.
The constant making of food.
And, of course, the constant demand for time and attention. Constant.
I usually have 5 or 6 hours with a babysitter each week. Which is great, but isn't much. I have a laundry list of things I feel pressed to do -- submit to journals and contests, research presses, revise and write poems, read -- and so many things I'd like to do -- sit on the sand, go for walks, write in my journal, pray without distraction, talk to a friend without also answering 50 quickly-fired questions simultaneously etc.
But the problem is that someone has to take care of kids. And when I imagine doing life a different way -- teaching or writing full time, or living a life of leisure :) -- and having someone ELSE take care of my kids, that feels no better.
And so I am working to back off the urgency to have time and space to myself, and am praying for perspective about how brief this time is, these days when Eden calls me "the other Tink-uh-bell" and asks me to hold her as we fly together to "Nev-uh-wand."
Sunday, June 13, 2010
"Chicken feet" at the hospital while visiting Ben's mom:
Silas covered in ballpoint pen tattoos, moustache, and sideburns
Eden's birthday (this, I think, is the 7th or 8th picture -- in all of the pictures before this one, she's looking past the bunny, her eyes fixed on the chocolate cupcakes).
Running on the trampoline eating a stick of chalk...
the boy cousins
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
(at St. Mary's)
may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
The kids and I are in DC (Ben comes tomorrow) with nearly my whole family. What an anchor the sweetness of being together right now is. On Saturday morning, I stood in the kitchen scooping coffee into my parents' coffee maker. My dad was still upstairs sleeping (he picked us up at 1AM), my mom was at Max and Sara's, and the kids sat at the table. I was struck: I have come with my own children to stand near my grown siblings and weep for a child lost. A baby is gone who will mark us and change Max and Sara forever. This familiar house hasn't held us like this before.
We covet your prayers, especially for Max and Sara.