Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Earning my keep.

Tonight, for maybe the first time ever, I felt like a real mom. Not like somebody's mother - I feel like that all the time - like a mom. You know, like in a Stove Top commercial?

Er...yeah, something like that.

Anyway, 5:30 rolled around and I was like, "Better head into the kitchen to figure out what to make for dinner." Not because I found a recipe I wanted to try or got a hankering for rice, but because it was almost dinnertime, dammit, and my family needed to eat!

I realize most mothers (especially of the stay-at-home variety...) do this sort of thing all the time. Like, I don't know, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. But until recently I was not one of them. (Don't ask me how I found that loop hole - or what the hell we were eating most nights - because I honestly don't know.)

It wasn't until right before the first of the year that I realized I needed to step up my game a little. I mean, what kind of an a-hole sends her husband off to work all day without thinking, "Gee, I wonder if he'll be hungry at the end of the day"? Not to mention the nights he came home from a full day of busting his hump at the office and cooked for us. (If I knew how to make an emoticon for a pathetic person who's embarrassed and really, really sorry, I would stick that in here.) But when we know better we do better, right? (Copyright Oprah quoting Maya Angelou.)

So I made a New Year's Resolution. I would try cooking one new meal each week (or at least one meal each week). You're laughing, right? Darnit! You're like, "You dumbass - there are SEVEN days in a week. Not one. Seven!" I have to admit that is kind of lame. But I didn't want to set myself up for failure. Plus, I was working with a couple of pretty major handicaps here - I didn't like to cook or totally know how to do it. Bill understood. When I told him about my resolution he was like, "Woah, woah, woah...you're sure you want to do this every week?"

Yes! Despite his reluctance to let me into the kitchen and give up cooking on a regular basis (he actually really likes it), I was resolved to my resolution and wasted no time getting started. I tore recipes out of magazines (like the Zucchini Souffle from The Week), tried dishes I found online (Veggie Stew and Irish Soda Bread on St. Patrick's Day), and recreated favorite meals from restaurants (a spot on version of the Vegetarian Shepherds Pie from Family Wash).

It only took a handful of successes to make me realize I actually like making dinner. Sitting down to a healthy meal shortly after Bill gets home puts the evening on a nice trajectory and it feels good to more fully hold up my end of the bargain. Bill's got enough on his plate with the whole financially responsible for a family of four thing (geez, no pressure). It's only fair for me to step up and take care of things on the home front. Not to mention, I think we've all been pleasantly surprised with my cooking. Turns out, I'm not too shabby in the kitchen!

But hot damn it's a lot of work! You folks out there who do this for your families night after night should give yourselves a serious pat on the back. And if you're bringing home the bacon before you cook it up for dinner, wow. I mean, really. WOW. Your families are lucky to have you.

But tonight, my family was lucky to have me. (At least I was pretty darn pleased with myself.) When I went into the kitchen at 5:30 and discovered that someone had forgotten to get groceries for dinner (the learning curve I am up against is just ridiculous), I had no choice but to step up my game. I had a ticking clock, a sleeping baby and a big boy and hungry husband who would be home from the swimming pool very soon. So I took whatever we had left in the kitchen and turned it into dinner. Just like a real mom! And you know what? The meal I came up with was really good. Like, really good. Maybe not good enough to make up for five years of shirking my responsibilities in the kitchen, but still, plenty satisfying for a weeknight dinner.

Potato Frittata

What I had left:
4 or 5 red potatoes
a bag of frozen spinach
some garlic
half a jar of roasted red peppers
5 eggs
feta

What I did with it:
Cooked the cut up potatoes in a skillet on medium high heat with a little olive oil (uncovered at first, then covered for about 10 minutes until they were tender). Added the frozen spinach, sliced red peppers, and crushed garlic. Salted and peppered and cooked until everything was heated through. Whisked the eggs together in a bowl with a little milk and then poured them over the veggies in the skillet. Sprinked some feta on top, covered, turned the burner to low and cooked until the eggs were firm, the feta was bubbling and everything looked done.

Bonus points if you've got stuff for a salad or maybe some good bread to serve on the side.

Now the only question is, what the heck should I make tonight?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday.

I was about to title this post, "Diary of a wimpy kid's mother," but I decided against it. I mean, that's just rude. So what if it took us two hours to get around the one mile loop at the park today? I'm sure it has nothing to do with Liam being a wimp. He's just a kid. A kid with weak legs, a bad attitude, and an impatient mother.

I know he should be wearing a helmet. It hurt his head.

Liam blames his bike. Which is totally understandable. See, it kept "stopping" or "rolling backward" or "making his feet fly off the pedals". And this one time, there was a teensy bit of a downgrade and his bike went SO FAST he had to slam on the brakes and jump off to have a panic attack.

He also blames me. For loving the great outdoors and forcing him to leave the house and not waiting for him when he stopped pedaling for the hundredth time and giving him a little push when he asked for a push but pushing him "WAY TOO HARD!" and making him cry and then not getting him a tissue fast enough when his nose started to run from all the public crying.

And he's right. I probably am at least party to blame. Genetics have something to do with it, right? Although I'm most likely not the parent responsible for Liam's biking gene. That would be Bill. He's way into biking. I mean, he actually owns a road bike! A really nice one, too. At least, that's what he keeps telling me. All I know about it is it has been sitting in my laundry room untouched since he bought it off some guy on Craigslist a month ago. Okay, that's not entirely fair. He did ride it that one day - down the block three houses - only to return with a sore hand.

But who am I to talk? Seriously. I know better than to sit here in my glass house throwing stones. Especially since these days my glass house is really more like a brick house, if you know what I'm saying. The most committed I've been to working out lately was the 45 minutes it took me to get through my post-pregnancy mom and baby yoga DVD with the boys this morning. Not that that's for nothing. I mean, it was pretty challenging. At least, for Liam. (I noticed he had to modify A LOT.)

Maybe he was just saving all his energy for karate class tonight. He did kind of kick ass. Not ass ass. Air ass. It's just a class at the YMCA, not some fancy ass-kicking dojo. Although he did get an official karate uniform tonight. He told Bill all about it on the phone (he's been travelling for work this week). "Dada, guess what? We made delicious chocolate chip cookies and they're delicious. And you're never going to believe it. Sensei brought my gi to class!" That's right. Liam totally speaks karate. He even corrected me when I tried to immitate what he learned in class tonight. "Mama! It's not hi-ya. It's uuhs! Loud and short."

Okaaay...

What was I even saying? Oh yeah, I was calling my defenseless five year old wimpy and for some unknown reason taking my hard-working husband down with him. Wow. What a fantastic way to come back from a three week writing hiatus. I mean, seriously. Class. Act.

There's really no way to redeem this post at this point, is there? Damn. Maybe I could share some of these delicious chocolate chip cookies with you? They really are delicious! (The recipe is on the back of the Trader Joe's chocolate chips. Bam.)

He brought the whole plate over. He's optimistic like that.

Eh, what can you do? I guess I'll just leave you with a little conversation I had with my big boy this morning. It's not much but it made me giggle.

On the way out the door I asked Liam to grab a coat or a sweatshirt.

"But I don't want one."

"I don't care. I asked you to grab one."

"But I'm the boss of myself and I say I don't need one."

"Actually, believe it or not, I'm kind of the boss of you. At least until you're old enough to be the boss of yourself."

(Completely astounded.) "But...but...(shaking his head in disbelief)...I'm the boss of some of my things!"

"Yes, that's true."

"Like my balls."

"Hmmm?"

"I'm the boss of my balls! Like how high I can throw them or if I can make them bounce or not. I am completely the boss of my balls."

So, there you go! My wimpy kid is completely the boss of his balls. And with that, I'm going to bed. Good night!