Culinary Adventures

There are so many things I love about my new life with my new fella.  After leaving my marriage to someone of nearly twenty years who was content to be a homebody and stuck in his comfy routine, it feels exhilarating to go and do and explore new places and restaurants nearly every weekend.  Last night we were driving past a small new corner bistro that opened a few weeks ago in our town and noticed empty tables.  We decided to go in for dinner, although we weren’t hopeful since it’s strictly reservation only.  New restaurants are pretty exciting here since we don’t often get new ones.  They offered us an in-the-way table for two.  The fella had a flight of Iowa crafted beer and I had a crafted berry sangria.  My pork tacos with mango slaw  and watermelon salad with feta, red onion and tomato with mint lime vinaigrette were delish and he said his ham and cheese sandwich and roasted corn were  very yummy.  One of the high points was the Ace pineapple cider that was on his beer flight.  I’m hoping to find it in a six pack somewhere local. I’m hoping Krafted Bar & Bistro makes it here in our little town.  We have a God’s plenty of franchise restaurants and fast food and this place is truly a breath of fresh air.

Mini Vacay

I tend to procrastinate vacations. I know it makes no sense, but I hate change and I hate planning trips and spending money, so I put it all off until the last few weeks of summer and then I freak out and throw a weekend trip together before the kids head back to school. This one was one of the best. When the kids were little I had a hard time imagining what it would be like traveling with them as teenagers. What could be more fun that five and seven year olds bickering in the backseat for three or four hours? Well, as it turns out, teenagers are incredibly fun and I think this is my favorite age. Now they are 20, 18, and 15 and there are no temper tantrums, no throwing up in the car, no whining, nagging, or begging. And since I breastfed half of my adult life it seems, I have to say that I was not leaning over any carseats to nurse on the trip. (What happens on vacation, stays on vacation!)

Since Oldesst Kidlet is working at an internship near Omaha, we decided to drive to meet him and spend a day in the city. We went to the zoo, downtown, and hit the touristy high points. It was a super fast weekend, but we loved Omaha and could see why the settlers decided to put down roots instead of continuing to head west in their covered wagons. My favorite sight was the bridge named Bob. It’s a huge pedestrian bridge that connects Iowa and Nebraska. It’s hugely popular among locals, so there are people walking, biking, and running across the bridge.  We ate sushi at a place downtown.  They served it in a huge boat loaded with beautiful sushi rolls. We were so grumpy and tired from the zoo that we didn’t even complain about having no ice in our glasses. (Is that a Japanese thing or did they just run out of ice?) Missy Moodle lost her sushi cherry that day.  She was less than impressed.  Well, two kids out of three love it, so that’ll have to do. At 15 her tastebuds are still developing.  She only recently discovered how amazing pickles are.  She’s got time to learn to appreciate sushi. Besides the sushi milestone, the trip was important for other reasons as well.

This is the first trip that The Fella has been on with me and all three kids.  The divorce from their dad was a year and a half ago.  They know him pretty well and like him, but he and I were both a bit nervous about it and wanted it to go well.  It went off without a hitch and everyone had a great time.  Sometimes in life you just have to take a chance, plan for the worst and hope for the best. You can quote me on that.


Old Man River

I have spent most of my life in this Iowa Mississippi River town, so the river has been an important part of my life.  Living near the river makes me feel grounded. It’s always there, full of life and always an odd sort of comforting presence.  I grew up a few blocks from the north bluff that overlooks the river.  I would walk our Dachshund, Peppy to the park several times a week when the weather was nice and watched boaters and barges and fantasized about what it would be like to be out there on the water.  Sometimes I would squint and was sure I could see the arched curves of a Mississippi Loch Ness Monster.

As a teen my neighborhood friend and I would spend hours at the park discussing the multitude of problems in our complicated teenage lives, which now are mostly laughable compared to my adult problems.  Perspective is everything.  We would carve our initials in the green picnic table as dusk approached and we swooshed the mosquitos away.

As a young adult I would walk by the river hand in hand with my boyfriend, have picnics at the riverside park, or eat an ice cream cone and watch the water roll by.  These days I find myself working in an office building near the river.  I sit by the water’s edge during my lunch hour or take a walk by the river front and feel the sunshine on my face.  The top photo was taken looking upriver one afternoon after work on a particularly pretty day with puffy clouds accenting the bridge.  The bottom photo was taken this morning looking down river toward the BNSF bridge.  It’s open to allow a barge to pass down river.  Every morning I gaze at the water and watch the gulls as I park my car in the lot next to the water’s edge and prepare for my work day.  I appreciate the river in a new way now and almost feel a bit of giddy excitement as I drive toward work and see it off in the distance on highway 34.  I am amazed how it looks a bit different every day. Some days it’s hazy, cloudy, sunny, fog, or a light mist. The clouds are absolutely stunning some mornings and I have to stop and take a picture.  It’s a lovely thing to appreciate the natural beauty around us, whether trees, a bright sunny day, or the massive and mighty Mississippi.

I’m Back!

I’m back.  It’s been a crazy long absence, and I’m not sure anyone will ever read this besides me, but I’m back.  Where have I been?  It’s hard to say.   I had a bit of a mid-life crisis (for good reason, I might add. It ended spectacularly. I’m very happy now mostly because I’m no longer married),  I had several career changes, my kids turned into teenagers and one is halfway through  college and another just graduated high school and another just started tenth grade, my mom passed away, and well, LIFE happened.  I have so many stories to tell and they just bubble around in my head all day and I knew I had to come back here to get them out.

Do people still blog much? Are my old favorite blogs still there?  La, Ruby, are you there?  I’ve been working full time and being a single mom and not much time for reading blogs and puttering as I used to in my old life of staying home and raising kids.  How I miss my old life and my old house and my old friends.  People change and grow and even outgrow places and people sometimes.  And I do absolutely love my new life and it was utterly worth every tear and the heartbreak.

Life is such a strange and amazing journey.  At different points in my life I would think, “NOW I have things figured out. Now I’m finally an adult and am content.  This is where I’m supposed to be.”  I must have had that thought at least twenty times in my life. But really, I do have it figured out now. And THIS is where I’m supposed to be.  I love my new life, love being a single parent, and I love my new house and my new job.  I am the luckiest duck.  Life is so good.

Peace and Quiet, and a Little Spoiling

I have three kids and a husband.  I am reminded of that daily by their sounds, needs, and sometimes affection (but mostly their sounds and needs).  Two kids and husband left this morning for an adventure with Boy Scouts.  Missy Moodle couldn’t be happier to have all the testosterone removed from the house.  And I can’t say that I blame her.  Most times I am her favorite person and she always asking to do special things together.  I always make efforts at this, but often she has to wait because of her siblings and dad.  So I told her we’re having girly week.  We started the day by having breakfast together, her choice.  We played a new board game together, enjoyed the quiet a lot, talked about how we don’t miss the boys yet, went to her favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch, bought some new nail polish and shoes, went to see the Harry Potter movie (awesome!), and then picked up a friend to come over to play. And this is only day one!  I think we’d better slow down or we’ll burn out!

The most amazing thing about the boys leaving is the different feeling in the house.  No stress, so many less interruptions, and it’s more quality time.  It’s completely not reality, and I’ll be ready for the craziness to resume when the boys come home, but for now it feels like a dream for both of us.  I think it’s always good for a child to get a glimpse of what it would be like to be an only child.  And of couse a little spoiling is a good thing too. Each child is a gift and although the days pass slowly sometimes (summertime, when I’m home with them!), the years are a blur.  I need reminding sometimes to slow down and make some special memories with them.

What I’ll be missing this week is a bit of time for myself.  The boys often watch Missy Moodle (at nine she can stay home for short periods alone, but mostly the boys are with her when I run an errand alone).  I know she’ll spend time at friends’ houses for playdates this week and I’m sure there will be some time for me, but it will be few and far between I suspect.

I dunno about you, but this blasting hot summer we’ve had has put a real crimp in my knitting life.  It’s just too damned hot to knit.  Even in the cool A/C I don’t want to touch yarn.  Either I’m dying of some anti-knitting brain disease or it’s just too hot.  I choose the latter.  It’s a rare occasion that I find it too uncomfortable to knit.  I hope it cools down soon.  I’m dying to make real progress on this:

Flyaway Vest from SkeinCocaine (bought at SimplySocks.com

I had hoped to get it done soon before I go back to work for the semester. I actually had hoped to be wearing it back to work, but I guess I’ll be working on it during my breaks instead.  Anyway, it’s lovely and it’s supposed to be a quick, easy knit so I’m sure I’ll cruise right along. I got the Simply Socks newsletter via email in May and this yarn was the May project.  I bought the yarn and got pattern free.  I chose the yarn from the photo, (Dream Baby), hand dyed Lettuce.  It’s yummy.  I’ll post some progress photos if I ever make any.  In the meantime, stay cool and post a comment, please.  I feel like I’m on Mars here.

Modern Convenience

The New Dishwashers

My dishwasher went out last week.  Life was going along peacefully, or as peacefully as it can be in the summer with three kids out of school, when suddenly, with a dishwasher full of dirty dishes, there was water leaking through the kitchen floor into the basement.  After the panicking was over, the kids were employed as the new dishwashers.  I was astounded at how they stepped up to the task.  For nearly a week they washed not just their own dishes, but any that I asked them to.  For a minute I thought my kids had been abducted by aliens and replaced with extremely agreeable imposters, but no, it seems they didn’t really mind it, especially since they knew it would be short term.

Thankfully, it was short term because their agreeableness was wearing thin by yesterday.  I post this photo as evidence that 1) they actually did do dishes by hand, and 2) it did not kill them. Oldest kidlet looks pretty unhappy in the photo, but I have to add that he is a fifteen year old male and it seems to be what they do when a parent points a camera at them.  They were perfectly happy up until this moment.

I also have to add that every time I’ve been without a dishwasher in my life the kitchen tends to be more orderly.  After meals we tend to do all the dishes and it’s all cleaned up at once, including the sinks.  With a dishwasher it seems we are always in a state of doing dishes.  There are either dirty dishes waiting in the dishwasher to be clean, or clean dishes waiting to be put away, and a few in the sink waiting to be put into the dishwasher.

Sometimes I think if I didn’t work, or if I had more help from the troops, that we’d be a happier family without a dishwasher.  Then I come to my senses and realize that that’s crazythink and that I’d take hostages without one.  Or at the very least I would detest cooking and resort to writing people’s names on the plates and glasses to encourage them to only dirty one per day.  I found myself becoming a dish nazi this past week.  “Okay, here’s dinner.  You’re in charge of washing this when you’re done.”  Or, “HEY!  You can’t get another glass out, where’s the one you used a minute ago?”  I’m definitely a more laid back mom with a dishwasher.  But it’s nice not to buy into the  American pigginess that comes from using a dishwasher.  “Dirty anything you want.  Use four forks and three glasses for dinner if you choose. I have a dishwasher!”

I feel dirty every time I load a dishwasher.  Lazy, I feel lazy by using a dishwasher.  Without one I felt really good, like we are doing things the way we’re supposed to.  Chatting while doing the dishes in teams, and having it all done and tidied at once.  It felt real.  I am thrilled to have a dishwasher again.  The realness and tidyness are no more.  And I couldn’t be happier.

Sherman’s Rockin’ 13th Birthday

When I realized that Sherman would be at scout camp on his birthday I was bummed. He seemed okay with it. I sent him to camp with a birthday surprise to open on the day. He seemed not to care about any of it. As a parent it’s so hard to tell when to make to make a big deal of something and when no to. I chose to make his birthday special even if he acted like he didn’t care. Someday he’ll remember that and know he was loved. Right?
Yesterday was the family party at my mom’s house. My sister brought her new puppy, Skippy, who was the star of the show. He even outshone the two birthday boys. DH’s birthday was the day before Sherman’s. They share a cake every year whether they like it or not.

Sherman's awesome gift from his aunt and uncle
Sweet Skippy
Stella and Skippy
Sherman