Twenty-five years ago

This morning began a bit rushed; I was so focused on making breakfast, packing lunch, and getting ready for work that I completely forgot the importance of the date to me until hours later.

Again I had not slept well, so I was more tired than usual. Only when I was gathering my laptop, my pump bag, and my sneakers from the van, after I’d parked in the overflow parking lot where I usually park because it’s closer to the side of the building where my desk is, did I realize that I didn’t know where my ID badge was.  Ug!  Rather than be too upset that I needed to walk around the building to the front lobby and request a temporary badge from the always-friendly receptionist, however, I considered it an opportunity to get some more steps for our annual walking challenge currently in progress. Also, I guessed that my badge was in the plastic bag in which I’d put several things to carry home, along with my other items, on Friday–I worked from home on Monday–and that I would find it in the bag when I got home.

After I got the temporary badge, I went to the break room to put my lunch into the refrigerator.  That’s when the day got even better.  When I entered the room, I saw the layout of baked goods on one of the tables. Usually on Mondays, one of our summer interns brings leftover donuts, pastries, cakes, pies, and other bakery products from his grandparents’ bakery for the rest of us to enjoy. He wasn’t in the office, either, on Monday, so he brought the leftovers on Tuesday.  Lucky for me!

Lunch safely in the refrigerator, I eyed the delicious-looking spread of goodies.  When I opened one of the boxes that usually contains donuts, the rest of my not-so-happy mood disappeared.  One of the leftovers was pain au chocolat! Woohoo! Often I joke that I lived on that tasty bit of Heaven in a chocolate-filled rectangular croissant while I was in France the first time, because the university cafeteria food at lunch and dinner was not especially to my liking.  (I refuse to eat veal, which seemed to be the entree more times than not.) Seriously. I think I spent 90% of my spending money at the local bakery, especially on Sunday mornings after church, when the cafeteria did not serve breakfast (and maybe not even lunch; I can’t recall).

As I was enjoying the unexpected treat, which I’ve only had a couple of times here at home since that trip, I realized that exactly twenty-five years ago today, I returned home from my first-ever trip abroad, a nearly-one-month study program in Dijon, France. What a wonderful way to remember the trip!  J’aime le pain au chocolat!

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The Day After St. Patrick’s Day

Although St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, I was too distracted to get more “into”celebrating the holiday yesterday.  My husband left around 08h00 to drive over an hour away to pick up our new, larger dining room table, and was gone for over 5 hours (because he went grocery shopping after getting the table), and I spent that time dealing with the kids and trying to clean up the dining room.

After breakfast, I started to tackle the mess in the dining room (removing the clutter, wiping off the table) and moving chairs back against the wall to make room for the new table.  My work in the dining room took over 2 hours, because I needed to stop every so often to care for the baby or to help one of the other kids, plus I needed to pump every hour or 2.  I was so focused on these tasks that I didn’t even have lunch.

I had just finished moving things out of the way so that we could move the new table from the van and up the steps at our side door into the dining room when my husband returned.  My husband and the two oldest boys dismantled the old table and moved it out of the way, then got the new table inside.  I helped them put the legs on the new table.  After they had put the table in place, I covered it with a table cloth, and then I put my St. Patrick’s Day flag display–the flag of Ireland and 2 other Ireland-inspired flags–in the center of the table.  That was the extent of my decorating for the holiday, as well as my outward acknowledgment of the holiday.  I didn’t even wear green (on one of the few days of the year that I voluntarily wear that color, to celebrate my (part) Irish heritage) because my one green shirt that would have fit over my postpartum belly was not warm enough, and most of the day yesterday I was COLD.  My favorite color to wear is orange, but since that’s not the color to wear on March 17,  I ended up wearing a heavy (pink) sweatshirt over a lighter weight (also pink) sweatshirt, and at one point also wore my lightweight jacket, even though the indoor temperature was 68 degrees F, and the rest of the family was comfortable.  Maybe feeling cold was because of postpartum hormonal changes.

Even though I wasn’t wearing green, I did put the baby in a holiday outfit:  a cute, white romper with shamrocks throughout the fabric, and a big felt shamrock over the diaper area at the back of the outfit, and “Lucky Charm” at the left breast.  Unfortunately, she messed through the outfit before I could get a photo of her in it, so then I put her in the back-up outfit, a yellow romper with green, yellow, and brown four-leaf clovers dotting the fabric.  I put a “Baby’s 1st St. Patrick’s Day” bib on her then, too.

I also forgot about leprechauns playing tricks and leaving small treats for children…. Oops!  My older daughter was quite upset that the leprechauns had not come yesterday morning; she was expecting the toilets to have green water, and chocolate from leprechauns, and she didn’t buy my suggestion that the little men didn’t come because they couldn’t get through the snow that covers the ground in our area, and they’re not used to snow, which is rare in Ireland.  The leprechauns did pay a visit overnight last night, though, and left a few treats (courtesy of my younger sister, who, after dinner, brought cards and brownies for my husband and me and the older kids, and a couple of cute St. Patrick’s Day onesies for the baby).

None of the kids nor I care much for corned beef and cabbage, so we didn’t have it.  Instead, dinner was salmon, brown and wild rice, and hors d’oeuvres of cucumber slices topped with a cream cheese dip and shrimp.  Although the preschooler didn’t want the shrimp or the dip, he asked for some cucumber, and ended up eating almost an entire cucumber by himself.  My husband and I joked, as we have done before, about telling the kids to stop eating their veggies and start eating their meat.  (More about that in another post.)  We all liked using the bigger table.  We didn’t feel so cramped.  With the 2 leaves, we should have enough space at the table for the extra 10 family members who usually come for holiday meals (especially Thanksgiving and Christmas) and birthday dinners.

Speaking of birthdays, I can’t believe that a month from today, my oldest will become a teenager.  Last year I had thought that I would make a t-shirt quilt for him for his 13th birthday, using some of his baby clothes and special shirts from his school years so far, but since I didn’t even start it, and I’ve barely had time to do anything personal–for example, I’ve been working on this blog post on and off for most of the day; every time I start to type, someone interrupts me!–since the baby was born, I know that it’s not realistic to finish that in a month.  Plus, I don’t think that he’ll appreciate it as much now as he might if I make it for his high school graduation, so I’m going to postpone that project.  Instead, maybe I’ll try to work more on his scrapbook, which I haven’t touched in about 8 years.

Right now I need to feed the baby, so I’ll post this finally and try to write more soon.

 

Homemade Pizza and Birthday Cake

Yesterday, I had fully intended to write and publish a post, but never had the opportunity to do so.  To be honest, I guess I could have written the post instead of editing my LinkedIn profile, or more specifically, removing myself from several groups in which I no longer have interest, and reading a few articles that did interest me.  The rest of the day, I was caring for the baby, pumping, helping the other kids, and trying to take care of myself.

I did try to start this post late last night, but I had just opened the blank post page when the baby woke up.  She didn’t get back to sleep until nearly 01h00, at which time I just wanted to lie down.  She slept until about 03h30 something, when she needed a diaper change, and then food and burping. She finally fell asleep again around 05h00 and slept until around 07h00, and she’s sleeping now as I type.

More about the baby in another post.  Before the baby wakes up again, I want to finish this post by writing about what I had originally planned to write yesterday.

My kindergartner is now 6 (as of Monday).  He requested homemade pizza for his birthday dinner, and homemade cake resembling an Oreo cookie for dessert, so that’s what my husband made for him.  (My husband likes to cook and bake and is good at both, so he makes most of our family’s meals.)  Most of the day, my son kept asking when he would get his cake and presents, and I said, “After dinner,” so of course he wanted dinner at around 16h00, and was a bit annoyed when we didn’t actually have dinner until almost 19h00, and then didn’t have his cake until nearly 20h30 (because I needed to feed the baby in between).

Our homemade pizza is:  homemade pizza sauce (canned last summer); homemade dough made earlier that day; freshly grated cheese (my labor contribution to the meal); freshly cut pepperoni; and freshly cooked bacon and sausage.

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My husband made the “Oreo” cake that morning.  The cake consists of:  2 layers of dark chocolate cake, a middle layer of homemade whipped cream with crushed Oreo cookies mixed into it, and an outer layer of creamy chocolate icing.  The whole cake is decadent.  (The most processed ingredient in the cake is the Oreo cookies in the middle layer.)

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(Yes, my photography skills need some improvement!  Usually my sister, who is definitely a better photographer than I, takes the photos at our family birthday parties, but she was at work, so I took these 2 photos using my phone instead of my digital camera.)

Because the birthday boy was so eager for his cake, we didn’t put any decorations on it, but we did put a “6” candle and then 6 other candles on it and lit them for him to blow out.  Also, we didn’t bother to wrap his presents, because he doesn’t care about the surprise of unwrapping them; he was just eager to have them.  I was glad that he didn’t mind that his presents were not wrapped, because wrapping is a tedious task for me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the camera ready when he got his presents, so I didn’t get any photos, but I don’t think that he minds about that, either.

 

 

 

Pancakes and Popcorn and Projects in Between

After my kindergartner’s behavior of the past couple of days, I thought that maybe he was misbehaving because he wanted more good attention than he has been getting lately, so I decided to do a special activity just with him.  When he got up earlier than usual this morning, I asked if he wanted to help me make pancakes for breakfast, and he enthusiastically said yes. He helped gather the ingredients, mix, and put the batter onto the griddle.  He wanted to flip the pancakes, too, but I didn’t want him to burn himself, so I convinced him that it was safer if he let me do it instead.  At first he wasn’t happy, but I reminded him that he was going to get the first pancakes, so then he cheered up.

Most of the morning I worked on a couple of sewing projects.  One didn’t turn out too badly.  The other didn’t come together as I’d planned, but was definitely a learning experience.  I plan to try the project again with a different method, and I think it will turn out better the second time.

This afternoon the kids played outside, and I enjoyed some time outside too, in the sun and warm weather, skimming through a few magazines until going back inside to start dinner (macaroni & cheese and sausages), which my husband finished making before taking our daughter to her weekly Girl Scout meeting.

After they came home, she and I made popcorn for snack.  Now I’m going to have some yogurt before getting some sleep.

If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Raining

For several years now, my husband and I have noticed that more often than not, if our area receives rain, that rain will come on a Tuesday, especially on those Tuesdays when we want to go to our favorite farmer’s market, which is open only on Tuesdays. (In our area, each local farmer’s market is open on a different day.)  This pattern has held true more times than it hasn’t, especially in the months with warmer weather, when we try to go to that market every week.

Today was no different; the pattern of rain on a Tuesday continued.  Since my family wanted for dinner what we call super salad, which we haven’t had for months, my husband decided to go to the market first thing this morning to get the fresh produce–tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and carrots, all of which are so much better from the farm stands than from even our favorite local grocery store, and often at a greater quantity for less money–which we serve along with grilled chicken, baby shrimp, shredded cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and a small amount each of croutons, plus salad dressing.  Of course, as soon as he ready to leave the house for the market, the rain began to pour. It hasn’t rained in 2 weeks.

Thankfully the rain did not last all day.  By the time my husband came home with the produce and other salad items that we didn’t have, the clouds were clearing and the sun was peaking through them.  By the afternoon, the air temperature was in the 50s, and the kids played outside after school and before helping to get everything ready for dinner.

The older kids like to help wash and cut the veggies, shred the lettuce and the cheese, and put all of the food on the table.  Instead of mixing everything in one big bowl, we put each food item in a separate bowl on the table and everyone gets to build his or her own salad. We’ve done it this way since our oldest was old enough to eat salad, so each person gets exactly what he or she wants in a salad, and there’s no complaining about not wanting to eat a certain item.  We don’t force any of the kids to eat all of the food items; our rule is that they need to try a new food item, but it’s OK if they don’t like it.  Once they’ve tried a food item and decided that they don’t like it, we don’t expect them to eat it again.  They all love salad night, and they all eat enough of a variety of food that they’re not missing nutrients by not eating a specific food.

Below are a couple of photos that I took before dinner.  (I should have taken photos of each kid’s plate full of salad; as it is, I have only one good photo from my phone of the bowls of produce before everyone began assembling their salads.)

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One BIG carrot and a red pepper

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A rainbow of produce + sliced hard-boiled eggs & grilled chicken. (That’s my daughter’s hand reaching for a piece of carrot, one of her favorite veggies.)