Thursday, July 25, 2013

Paleo Pot Pie (and some such things)

Those of you who know me (or read my blog regularly enough), know that I'm not a natural homemaker. I get by. Sometimes I use a jelly coated broom to more effectively sweep up dog hair, and the most excited Littles has gotten about something coming out of my oven was the time I baked the mouse. Still, I get by. For the most part. The Man still likes to tell the story of the time I served him still frozen (and consequently raw) chicken. It's why he fell in love with me.
But the last few months have been even more challenging than usual. You see, towards the end of last year, the Man, in an effort to eat more healthily (which is difficult when there is a snack bar directly outside your office door), went paleo. Don't worry if you have no clue what that means. I didn't either. Essentially, it's eating like a caveman (which is apropos for our family considering that a lot of our conversation around here consists of grunts and chest thumping). No dairy, no grains, no legumes. Organic fruits and veggies, grass fed meats, only natural sugars. You get the picture.
Needless to say, this has not exactly been my cup of tea. Not because I don't like eating healthily or exploring new things, but because trying new recipes is not in my comfort zone, and I've had to try a LOT of new recipes. This is what happens when you learn how to cook from your southern mother, southern mother-in-law, and definitely southern grandmother. A lot of my recipes contain butter and milk and butter and flour and butter and super healthy things like beans and peas and more butter and occasionally the tiniest bit of sugar and then a little more butter. And my Asian recipes contain wonderful things like soy sauce and MSG. So you see, I was in a bit of a bind.
But a few months in, I've started feeling pretty good about myself. I even made paleo lasagna this week. And may I say: what is the point of calling something "lasagna" that contains neither noodles nor cheese? I'm not saying it didn't taste good; it just wasn't lasagna.
Then, last night, as the crowning achievement in my paleo cooking career, I made chicken pot pie. Yes, without  flour, without butter, without milk, without cheating and using a can of Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup, and the Bisquick box stayed in pantry while my grandmother rolled over in her retirement home.
I will be honest: the little pies looked cute, but the medium sized one was a disaster. More importantly, perhaps, I wasn't the biggest fan. Although they tasted better than I thought they were going to, I still couldn't get Tiny to take a bite of his, and I felt a little queasy after dinner. But the Man gave his stamp of approval and even told me he'd eat the leftovers for dinner tonight. Littles was bribed to eat his portion with promises of applesauce and brownies for dessert.
And yes, I cheated and used frozen peas. Because while I can barely conceive of chicken pot pie without a Bisquick crust, I absolutely cannot imagine it without peas.

At any rate, come September, the boys and I will return to our steady diet of quesadillas, stir fry, and jarred curry--and more power to us. In the meantime, we continue to support the Man in his attempt to fight the good fight and finish the race. Besides, he looks good. I just have no desire to stop eating brownies in order to look good with him. And fresh bread with melted butter. And noodles. And beans. I love beans. And chocolate milk, preferably sipped through a crazy straw (can cavemen use crazy straws?). And all the rest of the things that make life taste extraordinarily wonderful.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Driving Captain Daddy

A few weeks ago now, we traded in both our vehicles and bought a minivan. There was really no point in keeping both cars since the Man is getting ready to head out of the country for a few months, and we thought it was a better use of our resources, down grading to one car payment and one insurance bill while he was gone. Naturally, after we had "done the deed", we realized that this meant we'd be sharing a car for an undetermined number of weeks until he hit the road for real.

Sharing is fun, guys.

The first week, realizing that we were both in need of a pair of wheels for the majority of days, me for the mundane excitements of life with toddlers (grocery shopping! doctor's appointments! out of town brace fittings! oh my!) and the Man for multiple pre-deployment appointments that were lovingly spread all across base, we bit the bullet and rented a car. The concept was lost on the Little Man who couldn't understand why the Man's super cool and manly truck had been traded in for a wimpy white sedan.

Since then, however, we've been sharing the minivan. At least one or two days a week, the Man takes the car to work and the boys and I stay home and catch up on laundry or go places within walking distance. The other three to four days, we give him a ride there, and he catches a ride home. I admit that I keep waiting for him to just commandeer a cop car, but so far that hasn't happened. The disappointment on my part is crippling.

At first, this seemed like a hassle. Really, it did. We have two super active kids, the Man works odd hours, and I get cabin fever (yes, even in my super pregnant, lazy state). But lately, I don't know, my perspective has been changing.

Instead of being frazzled by eating breakfast in stages, I'm thinking of it as a luxury--we have our breakfast in multiple courses. How upscale is that! Instead of feeling rushed to get up in the morning, I'm seeing it as motivation to get my day started instead of lounging around 'til the boys drag me out of bed. Most of all, instead of seeing it as one more thing I have to take care of, I'm seeing it as precious extra moments as a whole family before the Man leaves.

I've also noticed that I am less apt to put off my trip to the commissary until we're all eating delivery pizza since I actually have to schedule it into my week.

Anyway, point being, in case you couldn't figure this out for yourself, sometimes what looks like an inconvenience is actually a blessing waiting to be acknowledged. And I am grateful to be a one car family for a little bit, and more than just for the fact that we're saving on gas these days.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Just Rain

This was when I was still a super cool mom
who let her kids play in the rain
and before I unintentionally inflicted
muddy trauma on them.
Those of you who know me, know that I love rain. I feel like that is an understatement.

I am enamoured of rain. Rain is my other half (other than the Man, of course). It completes me. Without rain, I am nothing. Incidentally, the Man does know this about me, as is evident by this story here, and most days he's not jealous.

At any rate, you get the point.

Anyway, rain is hard to come by in this part of the U.S., I've discovered. At least lately. This is our third summer here, and each year we have had temperatures in the hundreds, drought warnings, water restrictions, and increase risk of fires. Yes, we are suffering for the Air Force.

Honestly, most days it doesn't bother me. Going outside in the heat reminds me of the Middle East, where you weren't sure if you were smelling a bakery down the road or the grass actually roasting in the sun. What I have really missed, though, is the rain.

We get rain storms every now and then, but they come accompanied by weird winds, tornado threats, and hail. They are exhilarating, for sure, but sometimes it would be nice to have a few days of steady, soft rain. And that's just what we've had since Sunday.

I don't know how it happened. I feel like we must have moved some place new, and I just wasn't paying attention. Is this really southwest Oklahoma?

In a nutshell, it has been wonderful. I have been in a daze of happiness. This afternoon, in fact, instead of taking a nap, I just sat in bed while the boys slept, read, ate second lunch, and listened to the rain. It was perfection. And I didn't even regret it later, as is so often the case these days when I miss my nap.

Can you see the tiny tear hanging
below his distraught eyes?
Happy first haircut, Tiny!
Then, after the boys woke up and we ran a couple quick errands, I decided to take them for a walk in the rain before we made dinner. In my opinion, this was a brilliant idea. I looked on this as a reward for their previous good behaviour considering the fact that I had dragged them to the DMV that morning and put Tiny through the trauma of his first haircut (he's fine--didn't even lose an ear or anything cool like that). And we were having a great time.

Until I talked Littles into jumping into a gigantic mud puddle.

In my defense, it looked incredibly fun. So much so that Tiny jumped right in after him. Then they both came out crying and distraught because for some reason, in their book, having mud in their shoes is not enjoyable. As the Man and I both said: whose kids are you? Luckily, I had taken the above picture of them before they dissolved into their own puddle of whining and had to be immediately taken home and thrown into the bathtub.

Regardless, I had fun. And while they were cheerily de-mudding themselves, I made a wonderful mess of curry for dinner and spent more time indulging myself by watching the rain out the window.

Yes, I am spoiled.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Craving Ink and Paper

You know how some women have weird pregnancy cravings like pickles and ice cream? Yeah,  that's never been me. Sure, I want to eat stuff that I can't access in this corner of mid-America (I would kill for a bowl of mie ayam), and I was more than a little upset when I went to the fridge the other day and discovered that the remains of the peanut butter cookie dough had disappeared, but that's just because certain things are common sense. Just like you "don't ever touch a black man's radio", you don't ever steal a pregnant woman's dessert options. And yes, night before last I may or may not have threatened to stab Littles with a fork if he touched my food again, but on the whole, I think I've been fairly normal about what I'm eating. I don't have an odd desire to go eat laundry soap or chalk or anything like that.

However, I am having deep and intense book cravings. I think I mentioned earlier that I've regressed to my thirteen year old self this pregnancy and reread a bunch of fantasy and young adult fiction (last night was the second half of the Prydain Chronicles), but there are a few books right now that I would beg, borrow, or steal if they were anywhere in my line of sight. Let me be more specific, I have had an unearthly and very deep need to reread the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede and an unwholesome fever in my bones to get my hands on Rick Riordan's Mark of Athena.

And let me just say right now, if you live anywhere within a fifty mile radius of me and have any of those books and do not read this blog and immediately drive to my home, book in hand, to lend them to me: you. are. dead. to. me. And I refuse to tell you what the twins' genders are until everyone else already knows and I may possibly withhold baby pictures after they are born.

I'm just being honest.

And I'm aware that none of these books are high literature. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Did you know I could once read and carry on reasonably intelligent conversation about James Joyce and his ilk? No more. Pregnancy brain has sapped me of brain cells and all I want now is pure entertainment and escapism. Especially if I'm capable of concentrating on the plot line while the boys build pillow forts and drive trains up and down my back (which feels incredible, by the way).

Also, if next week, any of these books arrive via post, the gold will have been officially separated from the dross. KIDDING. Mostly?

Just letting you guys know I'm still alive, and of unsound mind and rapidly expanding body.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Catch Up (not Ketchup or Kecap, but some of it is Manis)

I have not been purposefully avoiding the blog. It's just that since the Man got home, we have been going full throttle. This is what happens when two type-A personalities marry, find out they are having twins, have less than twenty four hours to process together (and then three weeks to process apart), and know that they only have a few weeks to get everything squared away: they hit the ground running. 

The first week he was back I found and bought the bunk beds. The Man dutifully used his huge muscles to pick them up and bring them home. Incidentally, there will be a lot of references to the Man's dutiful use of his muscles in this post. Prepare yourself. I also did twenty gazillion loads of pre-deployment training laundry. And started cooking real food again. Don't act so shocked.

That week we also had change of command at the squadron, I spoke at a VBS about growing up in Indonesia, and I had my twelve week check up. Did you know that they do ultrasounds at every check up with twins? I learn something new every day. Also, the nurse practitioner gets nervous when you're pregnant with twins and actually lose a pound between your 9 week and your 12 week. I blame Tiny. He likes to steal my food. And being his mom burns a lot of calories.

The first weekend we went minivan shopping. If we had been smart, we would've left the kids with someone, but we had tricked ourself into thinking we weren't really going minivan shopping, we were just doing some quick pricing, but it quickly turned into an all day long extravaganza of excitement. Yes, we play mind games with ourselves about the whole minivan thing. Thankfully, one of the dealerships had a parrot, one had a playroom, and the other had balloons (which is enough for a one year old). Littles had a great time exploring his future as a photographer and got this awesome shot of my flying pony tail reflected in the show car:

I am waiting to include a picture of the new minivan when I can pose on the hood, fully pregnant, with huge eighties hair, channelling the best of the car models. Possibly with an electric guitar. Don't kill my dream.

Then last week, Littles broke his brace so we had a quickie trip to OKC and back. I availed myself of the Chic fil-A in Lawton coming AND going and did not feel a smidge of remorse. It is times like that when I really do believe that twinancy is awesome. Why pick between the grilled chicken burger and the orignal? Have both! Yes, I can have my cake and eat it too, thank you. Anyway, the exceptional photographer in the family took this picture of me while we waited to get his brace fixed. The rest of the time I was sleeping off the two hour drive while he and Tiny showed off their dance moves as I dutifully sang Matt Redman's 10,000 Reasons over and over again. Yes, I sleep and sing at the same time. Don't you? PS That's Tiny's head in the bottom left corner, not my huge and really hairy knee.

Then we had a marvelous four day weekend that we put to good use: setting up the new bunk beds in what used to be the guest room, buying another mattress, buying more pillows and bedding sets, cleaning out the garage, moving the guest bed to the nursery, rearranging the closets, buying a new dresser, staining and sealing the new dresser, moving said dresser into the room and filling it with lots of little boys' clothes... And yes, you guessed it, when I say "we" I mean, the Man's rippling muscles and my moral support. Seriously, he doesn't let me do anything. Which means that we filled in all the little bits of time when we weren't working by getting in fights because I am hormonal and feel useless and I'm not so good at the useless bit. He was very understanding and took me to see buffaloes and eat massive hamburgers on Sunday to make up for all the trauma his thoughtfulness had put me through.

Here's the new dresser, complete with some "sport's stuff" per Littles' request. My favourite thing about the dresser: I have Tiny's diapers and wipes in it, and when I'm changing his poopy diapers, I can smell the fresh wood and varnish instead of the sewage that I'm cleaning up. Don't tell me if this is bad for the twins. I really don't want to know.

At any rate, this week has been full of fun stuff as well (the less details for you the better), but I will tell you that I diligently filed everything that has been loading up on our desk for the last four months. I hate filing and put it off as long as humanly possible and was only motivated to deal with it because in an attempt to make room for the twins, we had to move the desk into our room. Surprisingly, it only took me an hour and a half, and that was with multiple interruptions from my children who moved every single couch pillow into our bedroom. There have been multiple pillow forts lately. Also, I moved all of my nonmaternity clothes (and a couple of the maternity clothes that I've already grown out of) into our spider infested garage. Just wait until I spring that 20 week picture on you guys. You are going to flip.

But I have to say, the biggest accomplishment of our week was this:

For the first time in three and a half years, there's no one sleeping in the nursery. Tiny made it in his big boy bed all night last night. Sure, the blinds took a beating, and the Man and I had to do an hour's worth of hard core laying down the law (which is appropriate, since the Man is a cop), but we survived. We'll see how tomorrow night goes. But (cue Mariah Carey), Tiny will always be my baby.

At any rate, I'm sure you can understand now why there has been a little bit of a lull in these parts. When we get a break these days, I am using it wisely (by which I mean, sleeping, eating, or doing mindless Internet surfing). And really the only reason I made it to the blog today is that the Man has the car and the boys and I are "having a quiet day at home" which means doing a big fat load of nothing. I am pregnant, and I support that message. But I'm hopeful that now that the major stuff is done, we can chill out a bit and let things return to semi-normal.

Whatever that is...