Monday, October 24, 2016

the quotidian (10.24.16)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Heading out: of a Virginia morning.

Should I pick her up?

Best-ever indulgence: brownie, vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce.

The kid is constitutionally unable to eat popcorn without spilling.

Supper, going up in flames.

And some people think my husband is quiet. Ha.

For after the last show: a surprise cake for the new 17-year-old.

The people who got to eat it.

Arriving home. (We're popular.)

Forget eggs. This chicken sits on sheep.

First time. 

The kids went away for a weekend (to church retreat) and then came back.

This same time, years previous: our cracking whip, the reading week, random, breaking news, a silly supper, aging, cheddar cheese fondue, and brown sugar syrup.

Friday, October 21, 2016

impressing us

I haven’t seen much of this kid in recent weeks. Between working with his father, volunteering with the rescue squad, and choir, he’s been gone an awful lot, but it’s the theater that’s been the greatest interruption. He doesn’t have a big role in Little Shop of Horrors—screaming patient, customer, wino, and, occasionally, the Audrey Two Manipulator—but he is also the understudy for Seymour so he's had to attend nearly every single rehearsal. Leaping up from the supper table every evening and running out the door, not to return until 10 or 11 at night, took its toll. On all of us. 

Several weeks before opening, the real Seymour had to step out for a few days, so my son took over. As compensation for his hard work, the director announced that my son would actually get to play Seymour for one of the student matinees. Yesterday was that show.

My  husband and I had seen the play the weekend before. Seymour does a lot of stuff: dancing, singing, stage business, lines, lines, lines.

“How in the world will you know how to do all those things if you haven’t rehearsed?” I asked, thinking of my shaky nerves despite my many hours of hands-on rehearsals.

“I don’t know,” said my son. He was getting worried.

The night before his show, my son ran through the entire show, as Seymour, for the first time. Afterward, the leads stayed behind to run trouble spots until my son felt comfortable.

Yesterday morning, my husband took off work to meet us—and my parents and a handful of friends—at the theater. I was apprehensive. Would I have to watch through my fingertips?

And then the show started, and my boy danced and sang his way through the entire thing, and I was thoroughly and delightfully entertained, whew.

The end.

Except not. Because after the show, my husband went back to work, the younger kids went to a friend’s house, my older daughter went to do yard work for another friend, and I went to a meeting. My older son, after eating a celebratory hamburger with his mentor, went home and, just for the heck of it, put the car on the porch.


After I scooped my jaw out of my lap and attached it back to my face, I got out of the van and went into the house, passing the large piece of machinery parked on my porch on the way. My son was in the kitchen, buzzing about on an adrenaline high.

“Um, hello?” I wasn’t sure whether I should be angry or not. “Do you want to explain yourself, please?”

“Aw, Mom, I folded all the laundry and put it away so you can’t be mad.”

When my husband got home, he didn’t say anything for about three minutes. Just stood there, shaking his head. Apparently, a few weeks ago, my son had mentioned the porch parking idea to my husband who pooh-poohed the whole thing and then added, “But if you figure out a way to get it up there, I’ll be impressed.”

What a kid, impressing us twice in one day. (Which is more than enough, if you ask me. I don’t think my nerves can take much more.)

PS. Backing the car off the porch was a nail-biting affair. I could barely watch.

But he pulled it off without a hitch, and by the skin of his teeth, lucky boy because anything broken was going to be on him.

PPS. This is the last weekend for this high energy, fun show, and tickets are selling fast. My kids loved it.

This same time, years previous: winter squash soup with corn relish, field work, the quotidian (10.22.12), donut party, part III, moments of silence, party panic, and love, the tooth fairy.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

back in business

Several months after Leslie died, her farm was sold. We didn’t know the people who bought it, but through the rumor mill we learned it was a husband-wife team, both veterinarians (one large-animal and the other small-animal). And then one of my older daughter’s former co-workers called. She’d been hired to manage the farm and would my daughter like to help the new owners clean out the barns?

“Go, go, go!” we said. “Introduce yourself! Get a job!”

And so she did. Now she works there regularly, dividing up the schedule with the farm manager for the twice-daily chore-time responsibilities. (Which just so happens to fall during the two worst-possible times of day: the early morning scramble and the supper-hour crunch, gah.)

The farm is still not in full working mode. The owners haven’t made the final move to the area, so the stalls are mostly empty. Still, a couple horses (belonging to some university students) are boarding, and when the farm owners come to work, they bring their horses, too. The owners have big dreams for the farm, and eventually it’s going to be a happening place. To see the farm being cared for once again—and our daughter doing the work she loves—is gratifying.

And soon our girl will have her license and I will no longer have to shuttle her to and from the farm, glory be.

This same time, years previous: a dell-ish ordeal, the quotidian (10.20.14), the reading week, a pie party!, how to have a donut party, part two, and rhubarb cake.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

where the furry things are

Last week, the Pennsylvania baby cousins spent the entire week at my parents’ place. To give my parents a break, and to allow for my kids to have some extended bonding time with their seldom-seen cuzzes, the babies spent all of Tuesday at our place.

Because the babies are semi-terrified of the great outdoors, one of our goals was to make them spend as much time outside as possible. I kept ordering the kids out, out, out, but the babies squalled whenever they were approached by anything that wagged or purred. My kids ended up lugging them around the whole time.

“Can't we just come inside, Mom?” my younger daughter sighed. “They hate it out there.”

So I’d relent… for a little. And then I’d shoo them out all over again. I didn’t really expect anything to change. The kids have been consistent in their dislike of furry things since forever, and we weren’t exactly cajoling them into petting and playing with the animals. The animals were just... there.

But then, late afternoon, the babies pulled a one-eighty. They were all out on the deck—kids and animals—when, suddenly, the babies grew bold. They petted the dogs, shook paws, hauled the cats around, and got down on all fours to scoot under the dogs รก la London Bridges.

What a hoot.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (10.19.15), autumn walk, how to have a donut party, part one, and pumpkin sausage cream sauce.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

hair loss

How much hair falls out of your head when you wash it?

I was discussing this with some people recently and was interested to learn that what I perceived to be a normal amount was considered excessive by others.

This is what I typically gather during my every-other-day hair wash. (After giving birth, the hair loss was 3 or 4 times this amount and seemed to go on forever.)

My younger daughter sheds hair at an alarming rate. I’m constantly picking her hair from her clothes, and when I braid it, I usually collect a whole bouquet of baby-fine blonde hairs that I feed directly to the vacuum nozzle so they won't waft about the house, haunting me at every turn. On the other hand, my older daughter’s hair sticks firmly to her head.

So, after giving the issue almost zero thought, I’ve come to the brilliant conclusion that some people shed hair and others don’t. (Give me a medal, please.) Which are you?

This same time, years previous: rich, would you come?, Italian cream cake, stats and notes, 2008, and deprivation.

Monday, October 17, 2016

the quotidian (10.17.16)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Such a marvelous food.

This is what giving up looks like.

Nobody was a fan.

Her eyes were bigger than her stomach.

I made this salad (which I love), and my husband said, 
"All butternut squashes belong in pies." 

Debate entertainment.

Anything to distract from Algebra.

Stunned: window-crash victim.

Sideways thinking: I bought the game for my husband because I knew it would 
make the kids happy, which would, in turn, would make him happy, and I was right.

Post (no-Jennifer-and-therefore-very-fast) run, cool-down strip.


This same time, years previous: a list, the adjustment, grab and go: help wanted, that thing we do, apple cake, and pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting.

Friday, October 14, 2016

peanut butter fudge

Hey, y’all. It’s Friday afternoon, the tail end of rest time. My husband is snoozing on the couch downstairs, the three younger kids are in their rooms, my son just left to go run lines with my mom at her house, and I’m sitting in my unmade bed, my back propped against a stack of pillows, my cold feet tucked under the down comforter.

This morning, through a series of unplanned events, the house ended up quiet and empty. I spent the time cooking (soup, salad, pizza) and listening to the radio. If I had known I’d have the house to myself, I would’ve done some writing, but no matter. Now the cooking is done and my husband is here to oversee the company-is-coming cleaning scramble while I hide out in my room and get some writing therapy. I win.

Awhile back, I was flipping through blogs when, just as I clicked onto a blog post boasting a recipe for peanut butter fudge, my daughter looked over my shoulder.

“Ooo, Mom! Are you going to make peanut butter pudge?”

I burst out laughing. “So it’s pudge now, eh? That's fitting." (This child is forever derailing our conversations with delightfully mauled words, reducing us all to belly-shaking laughter.) "I guess if we're going to call it pudge, then I have no choice but to make it."

I’ve never had much luck with fudges. I find the texture too waxy hard, or even sort of crumbly, and the sweetness cloying. But this recipe looked different—it called for six marshmallows as the stabilizer (or whatever… they eliminate the need to cook the fudge until it reaches the soft-ball stage)—and it’s hard for me to turn down a new recipe, especially when it might solve a persistent cooking quandary and involves peanut butter.

This fudge has the texture I’ve been looking for—soft, tender, creamy—and the flavor is all about the peanut butter. A piece (or five) of "pudge" is just the thing to get you through the draggy, late afternoon hours, and it serves as a great pick-me-up for a child suffering from a pre-supper energy crash. (Trust me, I know.)

Peanut Butter Fudge
Adapted from Simply Recipes.

½ cup milk
6 regular-sized marshmallows
¾ cup each granulated sugar and brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups creamy peanut butter

Pour the milk into a saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Add the marshmallows. Stir occasionally, until the marshmallows have dissolved. Add the sugars and stir until dissolved. Remove the kettle from the heat, and add the remaining ingredients, stirring until creamy-smooth.

Pour the mixture into a parchment paper-lined, 8x8 pan. Cool in the fridge for several hours. Cut the fudge into little squares, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

This same time, years previous: up and over, the boarder, the quotidian (10.13.14), home, roasted red pepper soup, old-fashioned brown sugar cookies, pepperoni rolls, and pear butterscotch pie.

Monday, October 10, 2016

the quotidian (10.10.16)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

She's got a plan and I approve.


Our personal guacamole chef.

Doctored Ramen.

Birthday pies.

You know you're a Mennonite when...
you bother to salvage the plastic bags in the midst of making 12000 donuts.

With my older son: running lines.



He's on an experiment bender.

He  built a house.

Never too old for dress-up (though she did have to alter the dress first).


Window washing: cat's got her back. 

Can you guess what he's making me?

Blood pressure checks: our version of dinnertime entertainment.

This same time, years previous: o happy!, salted caramel ice cream, contradictions and cream, the quotidian (10.8.12), clouds, green tomato curry, the quotidian (10.10.11), and pie pastry with lard and egg.