Lots of irons in the fire and I'm seeing some payoff for my preparation and drive, which is good, but it might lead to some hard choices, which is not bad, per se, but fraught.
WAS THAT VAGUE ENOUGH FOR ALL Y'ALL???
The past few weeks and the next few weeks until the end of June are pretty much bananas. But it's okay, I've made my peace with it.
We spent the May 2/4 weekend in Cleveland with H & A and their kid, Danger. We managed a 5+ hour drive there and back without having to resort to screens in the car, but we almost broke down (and by "we" I mean, obviously, "the Dotytron" who is ready to unleash the screens-in-the-car-kraken at the slightest provocation) on the way home. The kids were cranky and overtired and I was driving and it was a bad combination. I just gotta say: when I'm riding shotgun, I KILL the kid distraction game. The Dotytron's methodology is very strange. It involves near-instant capitulation, turning up his own music in the car VERY LOUD, playing one half-hearted game of "Eye Spy" and then asking why we can't turn on Eddie VAN Halen's DVD player. At the end of the day, the point is: we made it. My tips for longish car rides with kids success:
1) PACK SNACKS. SO MANY SNACKS. I have an emergency stash of snacks in the car, and before we go, I pack a snack container of a mix of goodies for each kid. Each kid also has their own bottle of water
2) Try to do the driving around bedtime, if at all possible. We'v gotten burned before thinking that if we leave the city at 3 or 3:30pm, then we'll "beat" rush hour traffic heading out of the city. THAT IS A G-D LIE! All you do is pick up rush hour traffic. Basically, you leave the city by 2pm, or not until 6:30 or 7pm. So, we eat dinner at home, get the kids into their jammies, and then pack up and roll out with the aforementioned snacks.
3) Depending on your kids' interests, pack some appropriate, portable, no small pieces entertainment gear. The Big Yam gets some crayons and markers and a big pad of paper. The twins get to hold a foam sword, conducting baton, or one of those magna doodle boards.
4) Bring music your kids like. We have a Spotify playlist of all their favorite tunes, so when they get tired of being quiet, we play that for an hour until they invariably pass out.
And that's it. We've never driven for longer than 6 hours.
We basically just chilled out, ate some food, hung out with their friends. Went to some playgrounds and their Museum of Natural History. It was very low-key. Some snaps from our time there:
LOL at my cautious Big Yam struggling on this thing.
I made that toffee bundt cake from Baked Occasions but this time put a brown butter glaze on it. It was MURDERATION
They took us to Eddie's Grill, which is this cute, old-timey place that serves chili dogs and fries and hamburgers along lake Erie. I have to say though, Americans have no idea how to cottage. They're clueless.
We tried Michael Symon's new BBQ joint, Mabels. The brisket was delicious. The lamb ribs were way too fatty. The pig's tail was in this super-spicy, vinegary, buffalo-type sauce which was super-addiction. Baked beans and slaw were good. As was the spaetzle side and the beet salad. It was tasty, but kind of expensive. Not sure if I would go back. Portion sizes were kind of weak.
Whenever we travel, we always come back and get Vietnamese takeout from our local. It's a tradition. We came back late on Sunday of the long weekend, which meant we had all of Monday to relax. We spent the morning doing chores/laundry, and then grabbed takeout and spent the afternoon at Cherry Beach. It was the perfect long weekend day.
Our appetizers, a crispy pork belly with papaya slaw and sawsawan reduction, and a tuna/avocado poke-type thing with shrimp chips for scooping.
Our mains: octopus and crispy polenta; chicken adobo with garlic rice (so good!); a charred eggplanta caponata thing with creme fraiche; and this DELICIOUS grilled zucchini with coconut zabaglione, and foam and housemade ricotta.
I really loved the vegetable dishes in particular. There's nothing bad about a super-charred eggplant dish and the zucchini was delectable. The coconut was so rich and light and the lightly grilled zucchini played so well with the ricotta. I would definitely go back and it was a fantastic choice for gluten intolerant people. We lucked out because it was a walk-by situation.
Sunday the Dotytron was pretty wrecked so we took it easy and kept it local. We went to the farmer's market and hung with people we saw there, then came home and had dinner with Momma D, freshly returned from Iceland. I made pizzas on the grill, which were good, but not great. I need to get my grill hotter! I don't know how to do it. They were still tasty, but the pizzas need a minute or two under the broiler to get the top browned (the bottom cooks before the top crust can get really burnished).
I've been on this pretty disciplined weight loss regimen for the past two months and I've actually seen results. I'm about 4 lbs off from my pre-twins pregnancy weight. I run about 5km 3 or 4 times a week, getting up buttf**k early in the morning to do so (I'm up and around before 6am, ideally). And I do gross things like start my day with a green smoothie and exercise portion control and log everything I eat. I feel like I do this every summer, but this is the first time I've seen marked results, and I think I can chalk the success down to this: being kind to yourself. That was the breakthrough for me. So, if I have a bad day where I go off the rails on what I eat? It's no biggie. I try again the next day. I don't sweat, or stress, or beat myself up over it. Which means that the shame/guilt spiral of excessive overeating that used to accompany previous lapses doesn't happen. Same with the exercise. If I feel like not doing the full run, I don't do it. I don't beat myself up over it. It's working for me, this whole being kind thing, and I kind of like it. If I know I want to eat ice cream for dessert (which for me, is I KNOW IT), then I just dial back on dinner a bit. Not hating myself for enjoying myself makes a big difference, I've found. It's just easier to dust yourself off and try again (try again).
I can't believe the twins are almost 3! THIS IS UNREAL. They're such little people now. So much talking and being ridiculous between the two of them. I love their little butts so much. This week, Quincess woke up and barfed a few times. He wasn't feeling well. When Lindsay (Twin B) heard, he scuttled down to the basement to get their toy doctor's kit, and was talking to himself the whole time about how he knew what to do. He then struggled to get the doctor's kit up the basement stairs. He was so determined! I was in the kitchen futzing around and Twin A (Quincess) was in his high chair and all I could hear was him screaming, "LEAVE ME ALONE!!! LEAVE!!! ME!!! ALONE!!!" as Twin B advanced on him with a plastic syringe. So cute.
This video shows the cute little gasps that Lindsay does when he's excited about something. He's such an enthusiastic little dervish. He's been all over his "ice lollies" lately (that's a Peppa Pig reference).
Lindsay talking about his "snow cones."
This guy's morning hair
At one of our new favorite playgrounds
Outside all day, erryday.
Twin A is so funny. He has this belly-laugh chortle which is so adorable coming out of his wee little body. He also gives major teenage-style attitude. "Line up your shoes on the mat!" Response: "I diiiiiiiiiid" and then he throws his head back and drags his body around like Paul Rudd in Wet Hot American Summer:
He also gets very teenager-y when he wants something and drags all the words into one moany-sentence. I'm trying to capture it on video. It's so good:
So. Much. 'Tude.
For all my friends who still have the option of avoiding this fate: don't drop off your kids/pick them up at school. I don't have the stomach to watch schoolyard dynamics play out. The other day, I went back to watch the Big Yam surreptitiously from the side after dropping him off. He ran up to a friend of his, and playfully grabbed his friend's baseball cap off his head. His friend whipped around, annoyed, and ripped the hat out of the Big Yam's hands and hit the Big Yam with it. Then the kid turned around and continued talking to this other kid. I watched the Big Yam stand there, kind of chastened, his arms akimbo, all awkward-like, and then you could see him trying to recover, so he asked his friend, "Are you Iron Man?" and his friend ignored him. The Big Yam stood there for a bit more, before running off to play with other kids, and my heart hurt for the rest of the day. I could barely stand it.
WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY
I know that I can't protect him. I just don't have the heart to watch this stuff happen. He is a very sweet, gentle, weird kid. He's not great at reading social cues. I mean, he's okay at it, and he likes other kids, but he's also very content to play in his own interior world. Like, if all the other kids are doing a game of hide and go seek, the Big Yam will frequently just go off and do his own thing...he's not the one to succumb to the group propulsion to do what everyone else is doing. These are all beautiful, lovely attributes. I just want him to be safe in who he is.
This sweet little butt.
I also know that a lot of the time the view from outside is way worse. That I'm likely projecting a lot of my adult psychological baggage and nuances onto his social interactions...it doesn't make it easier. Can I just like, never drop him off and pick him up?
I've been gently probing during our dinner time conversations, because I want to know about other stuff happening that might be bothering him. I feel like we don't know very much about what happens during his day. The other night, I asked, "Did anything happen that made you sad, or mad today?" He thought for a moment, and then his whole sweet face brightened up and he said, "Something made me so happy! Our butterflies hatched!" And then he went on a long, rambling description of the butterflies hatching. Never change, Big Yam, you sweet little soul.
Dinners around here lately:
Oven roasted kalbi and bi bim bap rice with fried egg
Leftover almond toffee from making the bundt cake with maple bacon ice cream and mercury espresso ice cream (I have a bit of an ice cream problem at the moment)
Stew oxtail, squash, and spinach with a double
Quickie weeknight meal - brisket in the freezer, King's Hawaiian rolls, and broccoli
Soft shell season! Breaded soft-shell po' boys with bacon and homemade remoulade
A veggie-heavy meal - tater tots (fried, of course), roasted aspargus, poached eggs, proscuitto and hollandaise.