Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Zoo!

We went to the zoo today. I actually drove, for a change. $15 and free admission makes for a happy combination.


Eileen led the way. She is getting to be such a young lady that we thought today, today... she could be a boy. (oh, you think that pink shirt would be the tip-off that she is a SHE? Welcome to DC, where the boys have long hair & the girls dress like Miley Cyrus)
Eileen was in jeggings, and newbies. She was sorority-tastic, ready to take on the animals. 




She marched us under the trees and over the bridges until she found the tigers.


Then, she thought that she should show Da-Dee how great she can walk on the balance beam.


Until it was easier to crawl and was caught red-handed.


At the monkeys, I found it appropriate to call PETF to tell her that Eileen was growling at the monkeys. Growling, yeah I said it. "GRRRRR!" It was loud, too. Mom could hear it all the way in Georgia.


She was quite impressed with herself and her growling abilities.


And then, she wanted to see the elephants. Last time she saw the elephants, she flipped. Not flipped like, totally impressed, but flipped like, flipped over me to run out of there. Today though, today she was quite the fan. Husband asked her if the elephant has a big nose. A big nod.


The Da-Dee said something about fishies, and she looked at me before taking off in a bolt.


At this point, Sr started telling Jr about fishing and the kinds of fish they would catch. Eileen was way more interested in the carp, found just below. What does the fish say? Meeeee-owwww.


And then she heard a moo.


And was quite impressed with the cows. She wanted to get a closer look,  so she tried to call them over with her own, MOOOOO.... no dice.


So, she thought she would take matters in her own hands and tried to make a break for it.


She made a good effort.


Until one came over & Husband picked her up to pet him. Do you see how she has wrapped herself around him, so as to be as far away as possible from the black and white hairy dairy cow?


Sorry, buddy. Maybe next time.


I finally pinned her down to make sure that we had a picture together before heading off.


One last peek at the goats...


Until next time, Zoo. We're outta here!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Glue.

I love carbs.
It is really a simple statement, really, who does not? But, it is like saying I am a picky eater, which I am.
I love carbs.

If there was one meal I could have for the rest of my life, it would be turkey sandwiches with Hellmann's mayonnaise. If I had the option for a side, it would be extra crispy french fries. I'm not kidding. I love turkey sandwiches, with the crusts cut off.

I love beer. Some days, 5 o'clock rolls around, Husband is on call & it has just been a great day, or a horrible day, or it's just been a day. There is nothing better than going to the fridge, getting an ice cold bottle of beer, taking it outside and sitting and sipping and enjoying the early evening with my peanut and her juice. If Husband is home to join us, even better. I was never into liquor, it was way to potent, but I love beer like Eileen loves milk.

I love cheez-its. One summer, my first summer back home with Team Prom- as my pious companions and I called ourselves, I sustained life on cheez-its and Snackwell Chocolate Chip Cookies alone. And beer. Does this sound like I was 21 and still in college? Nope- we all had degrees, half of us were in law school, the other half worked in some fashion or another, and we had a great time. Getting back to it, we were all broke. BROKE, not too broke that we could not go to the Tavern, but broke enough that we had to sacrifice in other areas, like meals. A box of cheez-its could be found under any of our beds and couches. It left for plenty of room in the pantry for the necessities, like Snackwells Cookies.

I love breaded and fried most anything. My MIL makes this dish called cracker steak where she basically makes country fried steak, but breads it in crackers instead of flour. No gravy, which is not necessary. I swear, it is the very best thing she makes, and it is excellent. Which leads me to something else I love even more, saltines. Saltines are awesome. I always use the whole wheat kind for parties and dips. The taste is much more subtle than a Ritz or a Waverly and the crunch is much more satisfying. Every beach trip since I can remember, the only groceries I buy are saltines and chicken salad (and beer). It's breakfast. It's lunch. It's a snack. It's an appetizer. It's great. I love saltines.

Saltines, beer, cheez-its, and my very beloved turkey sandwiches are what sustain me.

Recently, I have been having some ... issues ... with .... well ... everything. My skin has been crazy with my allergies, my hands have been breaking out, I have been getting blisters all inside my mouth, the list goes on, but I have been chalking it up to allergies. Ethyldiame is in everything, and I just have to be aware of where it is. Sunscreen, Will's asthma medicine, Pampers, latex, Redken shampoo/conditioner, binders, some medicines, the spices used at Einstein Bros on the sandwiches, hair spray (which I still have leprosy spots on my noggin from our last run in a month ago), but really-- who wants to hear about where the damn chemical is? There is a point to all this.

My doctor recommended a couple of courses of action, the first involves going gluten free. My first question was, "What the hell is gluten?"

Much to my chagrin, gluten is in saltines. It's in beer. It's in cheez-its, turkey sandwiches, artificial flavorings, breading, bread, and any other thing that I really, really love eating.

Grumble.

I love food. I love cooking, organizing a kitchen, setting a table for a fancy meal, and all things, really, to do with food. I hate cleaning a kitchen and Husband can vehemently attest to that.

Plans. Excel sheets. Goals. Gluten Free here I come. Eight days GF later, I'm ready to talk about it. GF is not so bad. It ain't cold beer on the beach, but it is in a lot of the food I used to eat, plus more that I am not used to, like salads.

In the last 8 days, I have lost... without trying and without stepping foot in the gym (which I had been doing faithfully since December without a pound shed) five pounds! Woah. I was shocked when I stepped on the scale this morning, but very VERY pleased.

What else pleases me? Beer might be off the list, but wine's still on.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lunch!

Eileen has taken this whole "picky" business to a new high... or low, depending on perception. Today, we went to Target for some household goodies. As an afterthought, I picked up a package of whole kernel corn, frozen. As we checkout, the wall-eyed cashier who was fascinated by my Georgia license did the smartest thing-- he put the corn in its own small bag, just the perfect size for Eileen.

Back at the ranch, I unload and give Eileen "her" bag and we head up to the apartment. Eileen said, "OHHHH!" with a little sass on her face, placed her Target bag in the crook of her elbow, and sauntered off. All she needed were her sunglasses and I would truly have a mini-me. Between P2 & the 7th floor, an idea hit me much like the Grinch on Christmas Eve. A wonderfully, marvelous, awful idea.

Eileen is going to maker her lunch today. Maybe then I can trick her into eating something besides Mickey Mouse chicken-parts chicken nuggets and ketchup. (Please don't think that those two items would be served together. No. One meal is chicken nuggets and the next, no matter what it is, gets dipped into ketchup and then sucked off before getting re-dipped. Once the fried deliverer gets soggy, she tries to force it into some unknowing parents mouth. Husband is way more tolerant of this than I am, mostly because he likes ketchup and I find it icky.)

Eileen is placed on the counter and she pulls handfuls out of the bag and into a bowl. Eileen holds the bowl while I fix the water for her to pour in. I hold Eileen as she presses the buttons on the microwave and we watch the bubbles. Eileen claps excitedly and screams, "I DEED IT! I DEED IT! MAMA! I DEED IT!" I pull out the corn, Eileen adds the milk, shakes the salt & pepper, and she decides that we need to add some cheese. I pour everything into a food processor, Eileen puts on the cap and presses the button. As the food whips around in a pulverizing frenzy, "OHHHH, Mama! I deed it!" She pauses for just a moment to clap at herself, but upon realizing that not pressing the button made the whirlwind stop, she quickly gets back to work.

I taste and nod. She turns her nose up.

Shocker.

Well, this mom was not going to get undone, because This is what was for lunch. Still smiling, I pour it up in her bowl and let her pick out the spoon and I walk away. (yes, I left her on the counter) Gingerly, she placed her hand over the bowl and said, "hot" ... and then stirred before making the very slow trip with the tiniest of kernels between the bowl and her mouth. Her eyes grew big as she smiled at her handiwork.

"Mama, I deed it."  

Yes, Sweet Potato, you did do it & I am very proud of you. Thank you for being such a big girl helper!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hippity Hoppity, Easter's on its way!

Okay, so Easter came and went & we came and went with it, but, boy did we have fun! The Cannons and their two precious daughters joined us for a festive day of mimosas, ham, mac and cheese, biscuits, and the coup de gras was homemade strawberry ice cream with fresh strawberries. I kid you not. This domestic goddess can't sew a button on a shirt, but I pulled out all the stops for our guests and made ice cream. It was, ahem, if I do say so myself, excellent.

Catherine, the eldest of their daughters seemed to think so, too. At first, she was hesitant about the pink stuff in front of her. She gingerly placed her finger in the bowl and then her eye lit up like the fourth of July. She tried to get the spoon to her mouth; no luck. The useless utensil was thrown across the room and with one hand, the little 13 month old picked up the bowl and the other hand became a shovel to push the goodness in faster. A brain freeze slowed her for a second, but then she was back on it. With her bowl clean-- literally clean-- she started crying for more. Eileen, who had no interest, handed the smaller child her bowl with her spoon. That spoon, too, hit the wall and the bowl was empty before the second freeze could set in.


It was her first experience with ice cream, but boy, was it a good one!

The kids were on a sugar high, the parents were on a mimosa high, and we were all jolly and enjoying the first burst of spring the District of Columbia has seen in a while. We blessed the food and the company...

"Thank you Lord, for letting us come together as family and friends. We know that friends are the family we choose; and we ask that you please Bless us, oh Lord in these thy gifts which we are about to receive, from thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Eileen had her basket of goodies from the Easter bunny, complete with finger paint (seriously, Easter Bunny?! SERIOUSLY? What were you thinking as you were perusing the aisles at Target earlier this week with Dr. Bunny was on call? Crayons, construction paper, AND finger paint? How about some caffeine & sugar to go with that...) and chocolate goldfish- which she was allowed to have for breakfast and consumed the whole container in about 3 minutes.




It was a good day- I missed my beautiful Mottahedeh, again, but the food, the flowers, and especially the company, more than made up for it. The children had their table set with linen napkins, silver, and their own arrangement, and we had ours. Welcome, Spring!  


(I love that her little paw could not stay off of all the silver on her table.  She's my child!)








Our first year is almost complete. There are no new grey hairs to report of and probably won't have any more until next winter-- here's hoping.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

small spaces = creativity

Creativity... with a hammer and a few nails... Husband might have to just throw out them out as I found where he hid them... (and, see that pink thing hanging off the door knob? That is our child lock, made out of a pink grosgrain ribbon. Budgets & small spaces, I should say, make for creativity.)



Friday, April 22, 2011

Chores

My little Eileen has chores. Nothing impressive and certainly more time consuming for me to give her the responsibility of helping the M-O-M, but she enjoys her tasks and I enjoy her help and company.

As I fold clothes, she pulls out the socks. When we are loading the dishwasher, I hand her the forks, knives, and spoons to be placed in their proper slot. Unloading involves lids and pots with only the occasional, "Hep, mama." Vacuuming, well, when Husband is vacuuming as I loathe the noise, she has her duster and runs along the base boards and when we make the bed, she hands me the pillow cases, "Mama, here."

She is my little sous chef in the kitchen as well and has become quite acclimated at stirring, cracking eggs, and throwing flour. She can get the ingredients out of the pantry and bring them to me before gleefully running off for the next. Each trip to the pantry ends with a, "Fishie!" (No honey, it is not time for a Goldfish.) Eileen also puts away clothes. Sitting on the floor, I will hand her jammies or socks or underoos and she will either run them to Husband who is patiently waiting in the closet or run them to whichever drawer they belong in.

Please note the RUN as she has two modes, well, three. (1) Still (2) Running with happy feet (3) Happy dance where she is bouncing up and down, waving her arms, and moving her head from shoulder to shoulder.

Occasionally, she even tries to change her own diaper; we're working on that...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Little Person

Eileen is no longer a baby- I’m sure to a stranger she looks that way but to me, to me she is a tiny human. And a cute one, too. She runs, jumps, and tries her best to communicate in a variety of fashions. Her independence is blooming in a very positive way that lets her mother know that there will be turmoil ahead, but we will have a good time getting through it. 
She has quite the shoe fetish and spends most of her morning picking out shoes, trying them on, saying, “Noooo...” removing and trying a new pair. They do not always match whatever smocked frilly thing I have on her, but it gives her a chance to make a decision and whatever decision she makes, I can live with it. 
She counts. 
Me- “oneeeeee”
Her- “TWO!”
Me- “threeeeee”
Her- “Fa”
Me- “fiveeeeeee”
Her- “Sis”
Me- “Sevennnnn”
Her- “AT!”
Me- “Eileen, what comes after EIGHTTTT?”
Her- “NINE!” 
She knows her vowels and can say most of her letters, even if she has no idea what they look like. Except for “E” -- she has “E” down like it is her job. Every monument, every sign, every “E” she spots is marked with a very loud and gleeful shout of “EEEEE! MAMA! EEEE!” 
Yep. That’s my girl.
She still makes the sign in the morning when she is hungry as we are laying in bed watching Mickey Mouse. If I am not paying attention, she jumps off the bed, runs to her chair, flips off her tray, and hops in. Wanting to be her own person, the tray is on the floor, so she leans down saying, “I get it. I get it. I get it. I get it.” all the while not realizing that her hands and arms cannot stretch that far, so what she is really saying is, “Hey! Mom! YOU get it!”
Her newest word is “Hep.” 
“Mama, hep?” with an empty snack trap.
“Mama, hep?” with her hand on the pantry door (which has been locked off with a pink grosgrain ribbon).
“Mama, hep?” when she gets into the pantry and pulls out the cracker box.
“Mama, tanks.” as she hands me the empty cracker box.
“Mama, tanks.” as she hands me the sleeve of crackers to place back in the empty box.
“Mama, I get it.” as she takes the box back to the pantry and closes the door, only to remove the corn Chex.
She is my little person and we are having the best time exploring and playing together. Last night, we dyed Easter eggs & she was covered in dye. It was an experience and an adventure for all of us. Next year will be even more fun and probably involve fewer cracked eggs. 
She stacks blocks, spices, boxes, soup cans, pretty much anything she can get her hands on on a regular basis. She stirs when I stir, and sits in the chair next to me stacking papers when I am sitting at my desk working. 
And the best... the very best... my absolute favorite...
“Hey Eileen, where is your humorous?”
A gesture to her upper arm.
“And Eileen, where is your femur?”
A pat to her thigh.
“And your phalanges?”
Her fingers wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, and we both laugh.
Everyone who sees this trick says, “That’s a doctors kid.” 
Will and I respond with, “No- That’s RACHEL’S kid!”

Saturday, April 16, 2011

In the city.

In the city, you improvise- a lot.

For instance, today our balcony needed to be cleaned with outdoor debris having accumulated over the past 5 months.

The vacuum was ineffective, but the hair dryer... the hair dryer worked like a champ. We are ready for spring, Mother Nature!

Ingenuity.

Happy Saturday

At this moment, I am laying in bed in my new blue nightgown, between fresh sheets and a breeze coming in from eternally open window. Next to me is Eileen in my favorite pink jammies. $44 were spent several months ago for these very decadent jammies that are worth every penny. On the far side of the bed is Husband, holding Eileen's crackers and pretending that BeBe (the world's ugliest monkey) is snoring for her. Mickey Mouse is on the TV and we are waiting for our breakfast to cook.

This is just one of those moments that I want to capture and remember before Husband has to go back to work and the terrible twos set in. The forecast says rain and it is overcast outside our bedroom window. But, inside 705 it is beautiful and sunny.

I have plans this afternoon to Mac-I-Fy a friend, so I will be heading to Georgetown for shopping in a bit. We have a gala to attend this evening, which is a word that makes me smile- Gala. It just sounds pretentious. It does roll off better than "black tie affair" but not as great as "Capitol Hill Prom."

This moment is passing, breakfast is ready and Mickey Mouse is over. The graham crackers are gone and Eileen has flipped upside down with her feet in the air. Happy Saturday. Happy, happy family. Happy days.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Before Southern Living (AKA, the Bible) hijacks my ingenious idea

So, I went home for a month. Day 1 back at the homestead, I found an box of ANCIENT recipes. All kinds of things-- old envelopes, GB&T deposit slips, receipts, actual recipe cards... you know, those things found when a hand starts fumbling in a purse as the greatest thing ever tasted has to be written down. And then...itgetstossedinadrawer, completely forgotten. the handwriting of both my grandmothers brought memories for everyone. My great grandmother's tricks in the kitchen were found- handwriting identified by my father. Midway through, I found an old envelope with blue ink and grease stains. Both my parents said, "OH! That's the very best Cesear salad in the world!" When they were first married, some guy owned some restaurant in some town in South Carolina. After much fanagling, he finally gave away his secrets.

All kinds of cool things. My great grandparents saved menus from their travels on the West Coast. Still in a box, collecting dust. There were telegrams from 1941 when they were in Hawaii. (do that math, or at least google it)

These things needed a better home than a box. This is our history and what makes us, as a family, have roots. So, I swiped mom's credit card and headed to the frame store. An undisclosed amount of money later, me, my Miller Lite, and hundreds of recipes, menus, and the like were in the kitchen.

Take my idea... it was neither expensive nor hard (or hard?) and was lots of fun. Afterwards, I started going through moms 10 china patterns, helping her get organized. Really- ten. The smallest will seat 6 for sandwiches and the largest will seat 16 complete with soup bowls. Who uses those anyway?

So, they got new homes as well. I'd love to figure out which ancestor bride had which antique pattern.

Check it out-- I am, obviously, quite proud of my handiwork.