Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Raising Boys

 This weekend, all three of my offspring were all together under the same roof.

My roof.

The house might be little, but it's home...and all feels right when they are all together.

I'm not an expert at parenting...not at all.  I'll be the first to admit that these boys of mine are all as different from each other as can be, yet they all share very similar traits too.  The biggest?  They are all funny.  Witty kind of funny.  

They make me laugh.


 When they were all little we used to have a saying...friends will come and go, but brothers are brothers forever.  Coming from a family that wasn't exactly harmonious,  I wanted more than anything for them to have each others backs.  To stick up for each other no matter what.  That it's ok to disagree but always look out for your brother.

 The moment Matthew arrives back home, life in our little house shifts.  The whole dynamic changes.  Nights get later, plans are made, the fridge is raided at all hours, I'm ganged up on, the volume level multiplies by 100, stuff is everywhere.

It just feels...right.  Exhausting, but right.

Our middle born, the biggest of them all, likes his role as the middle child.  A lot. He gets along with both the older and the younger and truly is the glue that holds them together.  Remove the oldest from the picture and the middle suddenly becomes the oldest...and for him, any extra attention put on him is pure torture.  He's an under the radar kinda guy.

So the moment the oldest arrives home?  Happiness and harmony.


My goal this time around?  A really super good photo that can be used as a 'the' photo for Christmas because more likely than not, we won't see Matthew again until Thanksgiving.

I tried.  Bribed and begged and threatened even.

None of it worked.

Next time around I am withholding food.

Food for a photo?  Sounds fair to me.


Pappa Al Pomodoro

Supper tonight came down to a toss up between making a pot of pappa al pomodoro and not making pappa al pomodoro.  The fact of the matter is I was rather grumpy after having done nine loads of laundry and stewing over an email from my boss that I just didn't feel like cooking...yet I needed comfort food.

Comfort food cures the grumpies.  It's a well known fact.

 So...introducing tomato bread 'soup'.  Italian peasant food at it's best...simple, cheap and one of my very favorite things ever.

Begin my sautéing some onion, carrot, garlic and whole basil leaves in an ungodly amount of olive oil until the veggies are soft.  Add in a loaf of stale bread, cubed, stirring until the bread gets coated in the oil.

Next up...chicken broth.  Pour it right on in and stir, stir, stir until the bread absorbs the broth and starts to break down.  You can add more depending on how soupy you like it...we like it on the thick side.

Now for the pomodoro part...tomatoes!  

I know it doesn't look that appetizing, but trust me.  Put some in a bowl, sprinkle with fresh parmesan and (gasp!) a drizzle of olive oil and there you have it.  Close your eyes when you take a bite and you'll  find yourself sitting in a piazza in Italy, drinking chianti out of water glasses and shouting 'ciao! ciao!' to passersby.


So here's the reality.  Feed your family and have one of them (who knows better) start rummaging through the fridge immediately afterwards in search of meat.  Huff and puff to the back of the house only to come out when your neighbor, once again, comes to the rescue.

Introducing Leila.  I love Leila...she's a big sister to Brian at school and I can never thank her enough for that, because all 14 year old boys who have girlfriends need a big sister watching over them.


Anyway, Leila showed up with a plate of the most amazing food...zucchini thingys with feta and garlic yogurt, baba ganoush and MEAT.  Feed a bunch of menfolk bread and tomatoes for supper and then bring over a plate of meat and well...we were fighting over that plate of food.

I'll keep saying it...if you don't have a turkish neighbor, well, you're missing out.


Pappa al pomodoro
(tuscan bread and tomato soup)

1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, whole
8 - 10 large fresh basil leaves, whole
1 cup olive oil (yes, 1 cup...trust me!)
1 loaf of stale bread, cubed
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano's
fresh parmesan

Heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onions, carrots, garlic and basil leaves until veggies are soft.  Add bread, stirring until bread cubes are covered in olive oil.  Add chicken broth, stirring to break down the bread.  Add tomatoes, heat through.  Serve in bowls, topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  We like it best at room temperature.

Monday, October 29, 2012

All Were Home

This morning on the trail was SO cold (I've gotta buy a new sweatshirt.  pronto.) but felt so good to be out there getting it done.  Are you ready for this?  So far this month, my total miles on this trail equal 74.1 miles.  In a month.

That's just...crazy.  


Anyway, it was a beautiful morning until I read the email from my boss on the way home and now I am in a bad mood.  Really bad mood.  Oh, and I sent a scathing reply.  Maybe I'll be unemployed by noon?  Not really, but I'm mad.  Really mad.  So let's just go back and relive my happy weekend...ok?

My oldest came home for the weekend.


Happy, happy momma.  Happy, happy brothers.  It was just fun to have them all under one roof for a few nights even if I did have a bike in the hallway the whole time.  My question...aren't bikes ridden outdoors?  And if the answer is yes, then why can't they sleep outside as well?

Oh well...let's go back to the fact that my oldest came home for the weekend.  Bike and all.


For the girlfriend who had a tough weekend...pumpkin bread pudding with (not pictured) salted caramel sauce.

I did keep a little chunk for that guy that I like so much....but shhhh, don't tell.


Lunch out with my two, rather ginormously tall younger boys.  Seriously, I'm shrinking.  Or they're growing.  Or both.

For the prodigal son...a steak dinner by candlelight, hence the poor picture.  Steak for him, mashed potatoes for the boy in the middle, asparagus for that guy that I like so much and chocolate chip cookies for dessert for the babe of the family.  All were happy and full.

Sunday morning, Matteo played for church on a horn he bought off ebay.

Money wisely spent.


Sunday afternoon...that guy that I like so much, who is spending his sabbatical singing, sang.  How fitting.  He's one of the guys up there in the black shirts with the grey ties and if you're interested, they performed Elijah with a cool soloist from the Met.  

It's a lot less pressure on me (because it's all about me...right?) when he's not the conductor.  No worrying about him falling off stage, which is my normal thing to do during concerts.   I did find myself wondering why no one told the conductor of this concert that his pant leg was tucked into his shoe...doesn't he have someone double check stuff like that?  

Aside from the way my brain works, the concert was phenomenal.


So here we are on a Monday morning.  None of the laundry was done over the weekend and I was just informed that there isn't a clean towel in the whole house.  I guess I better get on that...wouldn't want someone to use a towel twice or anything.  


Friday, October 26, 2012

Another Week Has Passed

I am so sleeeepy by Thursdays...this getting up at 6:00am is for the birds.  And the cats.  And the people who work with crossing guards.  

I guess I'm the latter.  The tired latter.

Above:  Mom of the year.  Chipotle after practice makes for a happy (yet still grounded) boy.

Below:  How many remotes?  Too many.  Seriously, is manhood upped a notch the more remotes you own?


This kitty...well, she is purrfect.  Absolutely perfect.

She's going to be locked inside on Halloween and isn't going to be too happy about it, but oh well.

On the last big iPhone update all my music was lost and for some reason can not be uploaded again on my phone.  When I'm hiking on my own, I need my music...today I discovered an app for my favorite radio station.  Running to talk radio?  Interesting.  

Not as interesting as girl talk, but it worked.

That guy that I like so much and I just might or might not be playing a little hooky today...Disney hooky.  I've been craving a corn dog from Main Street USA....mmmmm.  


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Growing Up

Yesterday, I got in my company car and drove to a managers meeting in LA and as I sat there looking around the room all I could think was, 'how the heck did I become 'management'?'

And then I laughed to myself pretty much the whole time.

The meeting was good.  The lunch they served was good.  The only thing not good was my car, which thankfully is their responsibility, and which is now in the shop, thankfully on their credit card and not mine.  I now have my bosses car while he is traveling and I couldn't help texting him the following message:

WOW.  Power steering.  Windows that roll down (and then go back up).  Cup holders.  A radio.  Nice car!!!


I came home, threw on my running shoes and hit the trail with my girlfriend.  It felt so good to be outside and get in a good workout.  Wait.  What is happening to me????  I like working out????

Anyway, home to my family and a big pot of pasta...and candles and wine and then jammies and a mug of hot tea and Simon Cowell on X Factor.

Can't beat that.


And then the draft resumed and there were boys yelling and hootin' and hollering about their players.  I told them I wanted to have a fantasy football team and was laughed at...I guess it's fantasy basketball and not football.

So much for being the cool mom.


This morning I am going to stick close to home...I have so many phone calls to make and paperwork to do and emails to answer, plus jewelry to ship and laundry to wash and floors to mop.

Supper tonight is probably CORN...clean out refrigerator night.  That guy that I like so much has a rehearsal and Alex has to work, so we'll just all  eat the leftovers from this week...unless I make pancakes.  Pumpkin pancakes.  Mmmmm....that sounds so good to me right now.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shabu Shabu

That guy that I like so much and I squeezed in a lunch date...my counterpart at work just had a new baby, so I'm working lots in the next few weeks...thankfully most of it from home.  That being said, I've missed my boyfriend.

We're kinda spoiled.

Lunch...well, we were adventurous and followed the recommendation of a 14 yr old boy from Japan who happened to be riding in our car last weekend.

"What?"he said. 
"You've never had shabu-shabu?  You're totally missing out!"

Sigh.  The gauntlet was thrown down and for two whole days all I heard from that guy that I like so much was the fact that we had never tried the newest food phenom.  


Basically, pots full of seaweed broth are put on burners in front of you.  It boils and you are given huge plates of meat and vegetables and noodles  and you swish your food in the hot broth to cook it.   You then dip it in sauces and eat it with rice...not especially easy if you have Italian girl chop stick skills.


Amazing.  Utterly, utterly amazing.

So, my friends, have you ever tried shabu-shabu?

In other news?  We are eating and sleeping and snoring and talking about basketball in these parts.  

And fantasy football, which I don't much understand, but I had a houseful of boys here on laptops last night during the draft.  
(Brian's in red)
Supper last night, thanks to a trip to Costco with my soon to be 19 year old, were huge new york strips on the grill with baked potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts on the side.  And a pumpkin pie for dessert.

He chose well.


Monday, October 22, 2012

The Last Few days

Thursday afternoon...a coffee date with that guy that I like so much.  There's just something about a pumpkin spice latte in a mug, instead of a paper cup, that just seems so...grown up maybe?

I'm getting used to these little 'splurges'.


Thursday night...only Brian and I were home and my neighbor brought by my absolute favorite thing ever.  I wish I could tell you what it is exactly (I'll find out...promise!) but it's phyllo and feta and it's baked and crispy and creamy and SO FREAKIN' GOOD.  Seriously, if you don't have a Turkish neighbor...well, beg one to move in next door.   

You won't be sorry.

Friday morning...I got an SOS call from a supervisor in Laguna Beach who was in need of a crossing guard.  I was already in the area so I ended up working it and it wasn't until I uploaded the picture that I even noticed the political sign behind my chair.  I actually took the picture of the sugar free mocha that I dumped as soon as I got there.  


Friday night...date night!  We had a Groupon for The Cellar, so off we went.  We got dressed up and lo and behold, The Cellar is actually in...a cellar.  Why I found that so funny I have no clue, but I had a serious case of the church giggles all night long.

You can dress me up but I'm still in Jr High on the inside.


Saturday morning was a hike in the rain.  Rain, gloriously chilly rain.  After doing 4 1/2 miles in the heat the day before, this was SO welcome...though I did get a blister on my heel.  Boo Hoo.

Saturday afternoon?  Pretty.  Did lots of errands and then sent the babe of the family off to the Homecoming dance.  Ours isn't formal...it's called Jersey Jam and they all wear, well, jerseys.  Easy peasy, especially if you have a houseful of boys who own jerseys.

And yes, Brian, the baby of the family, went with his girlfriend.  Here we go, round 3.  The parental unit stayed home and had a cocktail.  A much needed cocktail.

Sunday morning...church.  I'm going to be honest,  I'm struggling a bit.  I don't even know how to explain it, but the simplest way is to say that I have a better (and more real) understanding of spiritual warfare than I ever knew existed.  And it scares me.  I'm not questioning my God...but I feel like He's far away.  And I need Him.

Could you pray for me?

Sunday night...another date night!  This time at home...Alex was working and Brian had a birthday dinner to go to, which left just us grown-ups at home.  Our original plan was scrapped when we got changed from being the ones to drop off to the ones who picked up, so I threw together a fast supper...risotto with prosciutto and topped with a sunny side up egg.  


Tomorrow is back to reality.  I'm not sure I'm ready for the weekend to end yet...not that I have a choice.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tacos For Supper

I'm listening to Brian cough and cough and cough....the crud has entered our little house on our little street.  I'm praying it starts and stops with him and I've turned into the germ nazi, spraying and disinfecting and reminding him to wash his hands.  Poor thing feels miserable yet is still at the age where he feels like he might miss something if he goes to bed even 15 minutes early.

Pray it passes quickly.  The sickness part...not the not wanting to miss out on life part.  


I got about 15 feet from my front door after working out yesterday morn and knew immediately that my oldest was at home visiting...I'd like to say it was my motherly instinct but in reality it was the smell of bacon coming from the open kitchen window.

Some things never change.


Yesterday was 95 degrees in my part of the world...and still 90 degrees at 6:00pm.  Begrudgingly (hey!  A big word!) I turned on the AC.  In October.  Which just seems...wrong.

Supper for my crew...carnitas.  I had to stop Brian after his 6th (!!!!) burrito for fear that he would explode...he ended up eating 2 more before going to bed.  I was craving mexican food...turns out my crew was too.


Crockpot Carnitas

1 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Cups chicken broth
4 lb pork shoulder (I used a 6 lb'er)

Mix the spices and rub over pork.  Put in crockpot, add chicken broth.  Cook on high for 4 hours, shred with two forks and put back into crockpot with liquid.  Keep warm until ready to eat.  We ate it with all the taco/burrito fixin's...lime rice, pinto beans, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, lettuce and flour/corn tortillas.

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