Monday, September 14, 2015

Running the Gauntlet

What a week.

It's cool and drizzly out and I can't tell you how much I'm loving the Saturday we've had so far.  We were under the impression that the Big Yam was starting Chinese school so we hauled a** to get out of the house and to the school in time, only to find that the mad scramble was in vain and we were a week early.  Is there anything worse, when you're a parent, than a mad scramble for naught?  Not really.  So much wasted coordination and energy.

Faced with an unexpectedly free Saturday, we did our grocery shopping, hung around in the park, then we had quiet time and I started Roxane Gay's already-excellent Bad Feminist and died a few deaths at how good it is (to give you an idea of JUSTHOWVERYGOODITIS I'm only halfway through the introduction).  The heat has broken, it is easy to believe that we're slowly slouching into fall, and the rain means that you don't feel guilty for cozying up at home.  The best thing about fall and winter is cozying up at home.  Luxuriating in your home and your family.

I wasn't one of those kids who imagined what my adult life would be like.  Like, I had lofty goals about maybe being a writer, or an academic, or a perhaps some high-powered 80s lady, but the idea of having a family of my own didn't register.  Remember: for a long, long time, I didn't think I was going to have kids.  I associated having kids with some kind of betrayal of radical feminism.  When we decided to start a family, I still didn't spend time trying to picture what that might be like.  I never imagined how much I would covet and enjoy an insular weekend afternoon spent with my own family.  How an open afternoon with nothing pressing to do, perhaps making dinner, definitely lying on the couch reading while my boys careened around me, would be so fulfilling.   How I could so enjoy seeing just these 4 faces engaged in the mundane.

Edit: fast-forward to Monday evening - I reveled so much in my free afternoon that I abandoned blogging

Summer ended in a roar of activity and culminated in last week's insanity.  We hit summer, HARD, and we're wringing out every last drop of goodness.  We went to the CNE, we went to the beach, had one more glorious swim in the outdoor pool, and hit up some nature walks with some of the people we love best.

 These two photos make me laugh because you can see various stages of Quincess trying to scale that log.  He's trying so hard!

Big Yam didn't want to sit in the front because he wasn't sure how he would "drive" this thing

School started last week and chaos of the first day was given a thematic supporting assist from some truly hellish weather.  I dropped the Big Yam off at his new school and it was hot, humid, muggy, oppressive.  His new school made the tactical error of letting the parents into the kindergarten area to drop off their kids which obviously resulted in a smaller-scale recreation of that Civil War scene from Gone With the Wind.  There were people strewn about the halls, widespread pandemonium, tears.  The Big Yam had been on board with me up to that point but when he walked into his classroom, he went AWOL on me.  Flipped right out.  I tried everything.  I spoke calmly, I was upbeat, I tried distractions.  He was having none of it.  Finally, I had to do something I'm not proud of - which was to shame him into snapping into it.  "I've been very nice and calm with you up to now, and you're leaving me no choice.  I'm going to have to get stern with you and cross.  Do you want me to get stern and cross in front of all your new friends?"  I re-live that moment and squirm inside every time.  But you know what?  IT F**KING WORKED, okay?  And there's a small part of me that doesn't regret the fact that I was able to deposit my kid in the system and get to work *only* an hour late.  You do what you gotta do, desperate times, etc., etc.

 This guy's ridiculous, crooked-mouth, old man, elvish face kills me

Sunday we intended to do a hike in the Rouge Valley Conservation area, but it was raining so we skipped to the city's first ever Kothu fest.  We picked up Kothu and supplemented with Babu for the kids.  It was a bit of a bust, but we wanted to show our support for kothu and Scarborough.

Also, every other day since then has been beyond fine.  He's found himself some homies, he's adjusting well, this new school - first day tactical error notwithstanding - has been head and shoulders above the previous one.  They just have their s**t together and are inspiring a great deal of confidence in us.  We're happy with the transition over all.

I mean, it probably wasn't helped by the fact that  I had three consecutive interviews last week.  By the time the week ended we were all DONE.  So the lazy Saturday described above was exactly the reset we needed.

I'm hoping that one of those interviews results in something, but even if it doesn't, I'm happy with my current job, I'm happy with my home position - so I think I'm in a pretty good spot, overall.  All the preparation and work that went into the interview process was harrowing, but it's behind me, and I think I know better now than to sign up for back-to-back-to-back interviews again.  Although knowing me, and the my masochistic need to put myself in the line of fire, I wouldn't put it past me.

Every day, I come home from work, put away my bike, take off my shoes and bag and put the finishing touches on dinner.  Within 10-15 minutes of me being home, the Wonder Twins cotton on to the fact that I'm in the building, and they clamber up the stairs and I get this exact same greeting:

Every. Single. Day.  "Hi, mama."  It kills me.

We started watching the new Netflix series, Narcos on the weekend and blew through 6 episodes.  I didn't think I'd like it.  I'm only so-so into drug movies.  They can get kind of repetitive after a while - the tropes, the delivery.  This series has a killer first episode, but I do recall wondering how they were going to sustain it for 9 more.  For me, they don't do a good job of delivering.  This is "history comes to life" type of watching.  It relies on some narrative clichés and some clunky exposition, but it's anchored by a compelling score and charismatic performances.  Like, how do I end up having the hots for Pablo Escobar?  Granted, he's a bawss.  But he's also a really, really, really bad person?  That does terrible, terrible things?  Yet when you watch him, as embodied by Wagner Moura, you can see how you fall under his thrall.  It's good for watching while you're knitting (*raises hand*), but I only half pay attention.

Quincess has been using the placeholder, "Ummm..." before he answers a question.  It's friggin' adorable.  Lindsay doesn't have time for placeholders, because he's too busy aiming at my head with a baseball bat and saying, "shoot mama?" "No, we don't shoot people."  "Shoot baba?" (and so on, until we go through the entire list of everyone he knows, who he's NOT allowed to shoot), or trying to wrestle a giant couch cushion, UP the stairs.  

End of summer means blueberry pudding cake.  Blueberry pudding cake means blueberry pudding cake and whipped cream breakfasts, with a boiled egg for respectability.

Smitten's hazlenut plum tart.  Which I may have talked about already?  I doubled the hazlenuts but would reduce the butter and omit the custard filling, so all you have is toasted hazlenuts, crunchy around a thin layer of plums turned jammy in the oven.  

Meal templates to the rescue of busy week/school days!  Taco Tuesday: salad edition

A pound of zucchini, thinly sliced, fried in olive oil with minced garlic, some sliced basil, and tossed with artisanal pasta, topped with grated ricotta salata and a fried egg

We hung onto summer hard this past weekend - lobster rolls on buttered brioche buns, fried pickles, and this roasted cabbage salad that I've been obsessed with, ever since Dr. Rei made it at the cottage.  Thinly sliced cabbage, tossed with oil, roasted and turned every now and then at high heat in the oven until crispy, tossed with a spicy mayo dressing.

Smitten's crispy peach cobbler.  This was a HUGE hit.  You sprinkle a generous amount of sugar on top of the cobbler topping and then sprinkle that with water.  It makes a shellac that bakes up in the oven until it shatters.  A nice mix of textures against some fresh, juicy, yielding peaches.

The textbook Lagerfeld late-summer pasta - fried eggplant cubes, cooked with minced garlic, some grape tomatoes thrown in and cooked in the pan with the lid on until they burst, with some kalamata olives and basil, tossed with pasta.


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