Thursday, August 01, 2013

Road Trippin'

We survived our first road trip as a giant family of 5.  My packing list was fairly intense and we only went 3 hours away.  Specifically, to the United States, where we could presumably buy everything we might need/have forgotten at home.  As you already know, I love packing up a car like nobody's business.  Packing up Eddie VAN Halen?  BLISS.  Modular, organized, capacious bliss.  I couldn't have been happier.  WE HAD SO MUCH ROOM LEFT OVER!  Ugh...just thinking about it gives me goosebumps.  I'd say that 40% of my week-at-the-cottage-with-the-family fun is made up of car packing and list-making anticipation.  It's a sickness.

Prior to our departure we were the victims of anti-big-family discrimination for the first time.  After our final midwife appointment (tear!) last Thursday morning, we were emboldened and decided to try to have brunch at a local favorite, Lady Marmalade.  We roll up, and the restaurant is pretty full, except for a 4-top in the corner. The server sizes us up and says, "Table for 2..and 2 babies." The server looks around and tells us it's going to be at least a 20 minute wait.  I glance at the empty table and the server catches my eyes and says, "Oh there IS a table available, if you can squeeze yourselves in there."  We figured she didn't want us to occupy a 4 person table when there were only presumably 2 of us who were going to eat and run up a bill.  It was kind of galling.  It's like, seriously lady, we always order like, 2 entrées each.

As an example, before we left we went out for dinner with Dr. Rei to Caplansky's to fulfil a three day promise to the Big Yam that we were going to go out for hot dogs and french fries, and ketchup, and ice cream:

That's how much food we ordered for 3 adults, 1 toddler.

Not pictured: the ice cream sandwiches we got at Baker Bots.  We picked up Dr. Rei from work in Eddie Van Halen and then went to Caplanksy's and then to Baker Bots and then we dropped her off at her house.  The Big Yam said to her, "Thanks for coming over" (!!!!!)  So cute!  LOL!  Yup, we live in our van now.  Then he said, "When I wake up in the morning, I'm going to play with Auntie Rei again."  It was hard telling him that he wasn't going to see Auntie Rei tomorrow after all.  Sometimes he can be so sweet and innocent and dear.  There are those moments when he says stuff like that where the Dotytron and I just meet each other's eyes and feel our hearts rend a little.  It's hard to remember when he's screaming "NO!" at the top of his lungs what a sweet little boy he is.  The weekend before, our street had our annual street party.  It was a hoot:

The kids were playing with these things called aqua zookas (basically water guns that aren't shaped like guns) and the Big Yam squirted a little neighbour girl who didn't want to get wet and she started wailing and crying.  We went over to the Big Yam and told him that she didn't want to get squirted and you could see the emotions washing over his big, dark-eyed, open face.  He felt so chastened and bad and his lip started quivering and he yelled, "No!" and started crying.  It was so hard to watch.  You could tell he felt so sorry and his little body just didn't know how to handle the emotion.  I think that's one of the things that's the hardest for us right now when it comes to parenting the Big Yam. How to coach him through the tumult of his emotions? Sometimes he just seems so...unhappy.  It really must suck to be almost 3.  You're just trying to make it in a workaday world.  

The street party gave us mad post-party debrief material.  Proof that the Dotytron is a good sport - he subjected himself to this game, where the dads wore shower caps on their heads that were coated in whipped cream (should have been shaving cream, as we later learned) and their respective kids tossed cheezies at their heads and the one with the most cheezies won:

The Big Yam hucked one cheezie, it stuck, and then he promptly ditched the game and went off to do his own thing.  If you ARE going to do this, I'd recommend the shaving cream, because it holds up to the heat.  The whipped cream started melting almost immediately.  The downside is that a kid might eat a shaving cream bedecked cheezie, but that kid is an idiot and has to get got anyway.

Trite: I can't believe it's August tomorrow!  What the heck?  I feel like maternity leave is going to feel much more real once September rolls around and I'm all by my lonesome.  Except not so lonesome.  My first time on mat leave almost 3 years ago I didn't know that many people who were off at the same time as me.  Now it's an embarrassment of riches...I'm actually mildly stressed about when I'm going to see all the people I want to see.  I have a bunch more mum friends I know around the neighbourhood, a bunch of my friends are now on mat leave, I'm setting up a weekly lunch date with some ladies on my street - it's going to be so much more social than the first time.  It will be so nice...I know the year is going to fly by.

I was looking at the Wonder Twins' faces last week and I started crying (hormones!) at the thought of going back to work.  I had talked a big game during the pregnancy - even considering going back to work early once my work EI top-up ran out and letting the Dotytron take the tail end of my maternity leave.  Looking at their little wee funny faces sleeping on my chest made me consider something I never thought I would have considered - extending my maternity leave unpaid for a couple of months.  Going back to work in June when the Dotytron would be just winding down his work year would be heinous.  This summer has been sleep-challenged and not without its stresses (talk to me about staining our deck some other time), but being home together as a family and being able to do fun stuff like farmer's markets and ice cream walks and Science Centre missions and family pool swims has been the life-affirming, enriching, nostalgia-building stuff that I crave and romanticise like whoa.  The thought of going back and missing a summer of freedom, when the Wonder Twins would be ambulatory (maybe), and right before the Big Yam starts junior kindergarten made me cry.  Trite: it's all going by so quickly!  The Big Yam in school?  What the hell?!  This is probably going to be my last kick at the baby-mania can, which is also heightening my awareness of how ephemeral all this is: the sweetness, and milky-breaths, and googly eyes, and gas-y smiles and all the million other things that make me start to understand the whole, 18 Kids and Counting thing.  Anyway, I have time to think and consider it (hello, I'm only 2 months into my mat leave right now!), but the potential that I can take a couple of months unpaid leave is on the table and worming its way around my brain.

Some random catch-up snapshots from life:

These guys.

And these guys.

"Are you supposed to do that with a Moby?" "I dunno...I saw someone do it on the internet." " can see A LOT of things on the internet."  This photo doesn't capture the moment when Professor Gantok tried to latch onto his brother's head.

Midwife graduation photo.  Love our midwife.

Turtle by day. Paul Giamatti impersonator by night.

Cousins holding cousins.

My sister being her awesome self.

At the children's museum in Rochester.  LOL at how wee Lil' Big Cuz looks and how GIANT the Big Yam looks.  

Sweet, sweet, little mini Dotytron.

I've been cooking, too!  

My friend from high school is in town from Egypt.  We had him over - grilled striploins, garlic swiss chard, olive bread and my homemade tapenade, CSA new potatoes tossed with scape-basil pesto and soft boiled duck eggs, an heirloom salad with burrata and mint/basil.  In case you couldn't tell - I've been cheating a bit on the dairy.  Professor Gantok has been a bit barfy, but he's still gaining weight, so I've been the worst mother in the world and throwing caution to the wind.  

Mini cherry hand pies.  Based on this recipe from Serious Eats.  I had a disk of shortening pie crust in the freezer.  All shortening/lard crusts are balls, guys.  I also had my standard pie crust in the freezer so I cracked and used that (3/4 butter: 1/4 lard proportion).  Not surprisingly, the ones made with my standard crust were better.  I'd say the recipe yields a filling that's too thick - it's not jammy enough.  I know what they're trying to do - they don't want the filling too wet and oozy, but this lacked a bit of the lusciousness that a less set filling would have yielded.  

This is my attempt to recreate a favorite dish of mine from Phoenix.  It's not exactly the same (theirs is cooked in a stone pot so you get crusty rice edges) but still tasty.  I sautéed ground pork with CSA snow peas, cut thin, some scapes (also CSA), garlic, and ginger, and some Korean gochujang (fermented chili paste).  Piled that hot on steamed brown rice, and topped it with mandolined cucumber, julienned nori, and a raw egg for mixing.  It was gooood.

This blueberry almond cream cheese danish cake was meh.  I wanted it to be more dessert-y but it came out more brunch-y and the cream cheese layer was basically absorbed by the cake.  Not my favorite.  Big hit with Uncle Rico though.

Unlike this blueberry recipe - the blueberry pudding cake - basically a big muffin with plump, juicy berries - equally delicious for breakfast or for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


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