The Boys of Fall

I was talking to my friend at the PTA meeting and she said “The DH said you have a blog! I had no idea!”

And I thought “Holy Crap. I have the Blahg! I should really write on that.”

We are in the throws of football season here in Pure Michigan. Three Terrors. Three different teams. Thank God there are only two different practice schedules or I might actually go insane. J stays after school for practice. O Man and the Rookie come home on the bus, do homework, eat dinner and then we pick J up and drop them off. J comes home, eats dinner, showers, and does homework.  Then I (or the DH…I don’t want anyone to think he isn’t helping) go get the other two who have to immediately shower upon entering the house and inevitably need to eat yet again before we trundle everyone off to bed. Thank God the practice on Thursday is in town…right next to a lovely establishment that sells adult beverages. It’s the one bright spot in a long, dreary week.

We have practice or a game every night of the week except Sunday, which we will spend watching football on tv.

J and the O Man are hard at work trying to catch up due to a lack of any prior football experience. Most of the kids on their teams have been playing together since they were in 3rd grade. It’s been rough at times, but O Man has made two picks and J seems to be settling in on the official Middle School team.

The Rookie, on the other hand, is a flipping natural. He is benefiting from starting at a much younger age, and a complete lack of fear or sense that he could ever get, oh, I don’t know, hurt. He blocks kids twice his size. He gets tackled by kids that are even bigger. He comes home head to toe in mystery bruises. Ask him how he got them and he will give you that infuriating man-shrug and say “dunno”. He has one on his jaw that I find especially perplexing because I think that area is covered by his helmet.

Watching the boys on the gridiron is making me crazy jealous. I’ve probably said this before, but there are only two times I ever wish I was a boy: when I need to pee outside, and football season. Even now that I am well past the age for tackle football for any gender, I still dream of playing. I don’t even dream of being a quarterback or receiver or something sexy. Nope, I dream of making bone-shattering tackles. Perhaps I need help with some latent violence issues, but I can’t help but think about how satisfying it must be to stuff a running back behind the line of scrimmage.

The big home opener is tomorrow, so I am sure to be posting pictures of the children in all their pad and helmet glory in the not too distant future.

Are you ready for some football?

 

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Swamp People are the Best People

Oh YEAH!

Usually, the Terrors and I head out for an “Historic Road Trip” for spring break. I like driving in the car with them, listening to audio books, listening to the bickering, and then ending up somewhere with tons of stuff I want to see and just enough stuff for Terrors to be interested in to keep them from staging a mutiny.  This year I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. We could spend more time out East with our friends, but they weren’t on spring break and then you just become a problem instead of a guest. So where to go…where to go…?

The DH decided he needed to get away as well, which was nice for many reasons, not the least of which was we could now go CAMPING!

The DH and I are huge RV fans. We have a small camper and love to take it out with the kids. Someday, when the kids have moved out, we intend to be full-timers. I have never taken the Terrors camping on my own for spring break before because I simply cannot back up the camper. I lack the whatever it is in the brain that can do this feat of mental and physical dexterity. I don’t even like to pull it into a gas station, for fear of getting stuck. The DH, however, can back a camper into ANY SPOT! It’s truly a gift. I am in awe of his awesomeness.

So now we decided to go camping. But where?

Our damp, snowy, cold, overcast winter left us longing for warmth and sunshine. The DH checked the weather around the States and came up with Louisiana being the warmest place in driving distance for that week.

Now, if you know me, you know I LOVE New Orleans. I love the food, love the little bit of French, love the art and architecture. I was thrilled with this idea. The true brain storm, however, belonged to the DH: “Why don’t we stay out in the swamp and see if we can go on a tour. What about Pierre Part, where they film Swamp People?”

Seriously? The DH was going to take me to (hopefully) meet my “boyfriend in the TV” Mr. Troy Landry? Was he nuts? Could I pack fast enough? Even the boys couldn’t believe that this was how we were going to spend historic road trip. It was a spring break miracle.

We dug the RV out of its snow pack, set a land speed record for getting it prepped and ready to go, and headed out.

The first day was pretty uneventful. A lot of NPR on the radio, a lot of iStuff in the backseat. The next day was the interesting one. Ever drive across a 5 mile bridge over a lake in thunderstorms, 10 yard visibility and wind gusts up to 50 mph? Wish we hadn’t.

We spent our first day introducing the Terrors to New Orleans. We fed them alligator, walked them through the square, let them make a mess out of themselves with bags full of powdered sugar they call beignets.

First bite of gator sausage

First bite of gator nuggets

Tuesday was the BIG DAY. We were going on a swamp tour with Captain Vic. Capt. Vic was recommended by the good people at Duffy’s. If you watch Swamp People you’ll know that this is the gas station/quick mart/seafood storage place that the Landry family owns. Who else would you go to for a swamp tour? They hooked us up with Capt. Vic and we couldn’t wait to bake in some swamp sunshine and hopefully spy a few gators.

I had never been to a swamp before. It is indescribably beautiful. Crowds of cypress trees standing knees deep in thick water. Green everywhere. You should really take the time to see it. If you are in Chicago there is a great one in Southern Illinois you can check out. We saw two gators that were about 12 feet or larger, and Capt. Vic made the comment that he wasn’t sure if we were circling the gators, or they were circling us. At one point a gator we were watching splashed and disappeared: Capt. Vic couldn’t get us out of there fast enough. That’s when it hits you that you are not, in fact, on a Disney ride and these animals could flip the boat and gorge on Terror nuggets.

Every time we got in the car the boys would beg us to go to Duffy’s. They were sure that they would get to meet Troy Landry if they just went there enough times. Like you had to stalk him for a certain amount of hours before they’d let him out of the back. We needed gas, so we went there. And wouldn’t you know, the people out front told us that Jacob was inside.

Jacob is Troy’s son, also a cast member on the show, and he couldn’t have been sweeter.

Jacob Landry

Jacob Landry

He was helping out in the store when we walked in. I told him he had some huge fans in the Terrors, and he dropped everything to talk to them. They told him about the gators we saw. He teased them about not noting which ponds they were in so he could track them down in gator season. He signed all their hats, posed for pictures, and MADE THEIR DAY.

As great as this interaction was, it only made them more desperate to meet Troy. Not that I was against that idea, but I had no intention of spending our entire vacation at Duffy’s.

The next day was the Tabasco factory, and the next morning we packed up to leave Pierre Part for good. The Terrors were BEGGING us to make one last trip to Duffy’s. Please. Please. Please. They said he goes there in the morning. We need sunflower seeds and gas. Please…! 

We pulled into Duffy’s with the RV and to their crushing disappointment Troy was nowhere to be seen. We were done filling up, we had purchased our snacks, and it was time to go… when, what…wait…who’s that walking through the door? TROY LANDRY! The boys ran and got the hats that Jacob had signed. Troy came out of the back and The Rookie walked right up to him and says “Will you sign my hat?” Troy laughed and then talked to the boys for a bit (and I actually can understand what he’s saying…you just have to pay attention), posed for pictures, and gave me a little squeeze when I thanked him for being so nice to the boys. Then I gave even BIGGER thank you’s and squeezes to the Terrors for not telling Troy just how big a crush their Mom has on him.

Troy Landry

Troy Landry

Our swamp vacation was a huge success. J still lights up like a Christmas tree when he talks about it. We even managed to sneak in some history by taking the Natchez Trace Parkway back up to Nashville.

Don’t know how I’m going to top this next year…

Ah…Plumbing…My Great Nemesis

I wish I had a picture.

I wish I had had the time to take a picture of the disgusting lake that formed underneath my kitchen sink, but I was too busy trying to make sure the food-bit filled water didn’t seep underneath the hardwood floors.

It started off a simple evening. I was clearing the debris from another culinary masterpiece (not) when Jack calmly informed me that the cabinet was leaking. A quick look down and I discovered that a miniature Niagara Falls had formed out of not one, but both corners of our sink cabinet. I slammed the water off and opened the cabinet to see where the leak was coming from. There wasn’t a small pool turning into a river gently flowing out of the cabinet. Nope, it was everywhere. The entire floor of the cabinet was covered in dirty water and whatever it was that was chopped up by the food processor.

“TOWELS!” I yelled at the Terrors, and they quickly got the three towels left in the kitchen drawer. I had been hoping they would raid the beach towels, but instead of screaming at them, I decided to direct them to the cache of paper towels in the mud room. The Terrors formed a fire line and ferried all the crap that lives under the sink to the counter. After some frantic mopping and toweling, I got most of the standing water.

Then I turned on the water to sleuth out the leak. Wasn’t much need for it though. An entire fitting had worked its way loose, so the pipes weren’t actually connected under my sink. Yowza.

Of course, the DH is not home. And, of course, plumbing is the one DIY project I will not mess with on my own. Visions of blowing up the hot water heater, or a slow, drippy leak destroying my house, dance through my head anytime I attempt actual plumbing. With the DH by my side, I will assist, but I have to admit he does most of the heavy lifting in this department.

This meant I had to call the Rock Star Contractor, who I’m sure was thrilled to see my cell number blow up his phone. I explained that we were forming a swimming pool in the kitchen and I would love to have some assistance in fixing the problem. Expecting the worst, he showed up and was clearly thrilled to have it be something he could fix cleanly and quickly. Not quite as thrilled as I was, but thrilled nonetheless.

So instead of watching the final Twilight movie I will be washing the bottoms of all the Things That Live Under the Sink. grumble grumble

To Adrienne

Sorry I haven’t been posting lately. I feel I have nothing to write about worth reading. But since you admitted to reading all my posts, even the incredibly lousy ones, I promised I’d write one for you even if I didn’t have anything to say.

It was great seeing you at the party this week. Whenever I come in, I always think I’ll have time to see everyone, and then leave with a giant list of people I didn’t connect with. Having most of my girlies in the same spot made it so enjoyable. I don’t come as often as I would like, but I think that’s because it’s always a little hard for me to see everyone filling in the spaces where we used to be. New baseball teams have formed, new talent show skits conceived, new parties planned. Of course you guys moved on without us, even I am not so self absorbed to think that you wouldn’t. But hearing stories about things I could never be a part of, well… it gives a bittersweet edge to being in OP.

Not that I am unhappy where we are now. I really do love the house. I really do love our neighbors. The kids are doing way better than I dared to imagine. And we have met good people, some that are even starting to be friends. But they are still fragile, superficial friendships. It is all still far too possible that I will say the wrong thing (which I feel I do with alarming frequency) and “poof”, our shot here will be blown. But when I see you, I say something curt and sarcastic and you call me a bitch and everything is just like before I left.

The day or two after I get back are the hardest. Most days I don’t notice that I don’t go out for lunch with the girls, or I don’t have a Tuesday night basketball date, or I don’t have anyone to meet me for spinning class. But after I get back, well, its easy to feel a little lonely. So I want you to know that I miss you and the rest of my OP family like crazy. Even if maybe I don’t let you know it as much as I should.

Now, this is the part where I usually roll my eyes, deem it too depressing and whiney, delete the whole damn thing and move on. But since I am writing to just you, I’ll go ahead and post it. See you soon.

 

Period Kind of Person

I was at a funeral today, which I won’t talk much about because it is still too hard to think about.

The person we lost was a person with great personal faith. At the mass, the Priest said something that really stuck with me (I am paraphrasing):

“People without faith believe that the sentence of their lives end with a period. People of faith believe it ends with a comma.”

Times like this I wish I was more of a comma kind of person.

 

Dumpling Madness

Let’s see, my pant legs and my kitchen floor are covered in corn starch…which can only mean one thing: making dumplings.

Every now and then the DH makes enough of a stink to guilt me into making gyoza. I love eating the amazing little pockets of joy, I just don’t really enjoy making them. That involves dealing with more raw pork than I usually like to be around, and hand stuffing and sealing a zillion little skins. Its a nightmare. There is no way to do it without destroying the entire kitchen, not that I’ve found anyway. But it is usually all worth it when you get to sit down with a plate of gyoza and a dish of dipping sauce and go to town.

Tonight, I had some extra Daikon (fancy Japanese radish) so I found a recipe and tried to make these:

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If you have never had these, you need to find somewhere to get some right now. They are turnip cakes, and the DH and I had the pleasure of eating the best of their kind at the best dim sum restaurant in the world: Fook Lam Moon in Hong Kong. We would round up our friends most weekends for at least one dim sum brunch. And these were one of the main attractions for me. If left to my own devices, I might just eat my weight in them. So, I found this recipe that sounded about right and dove in.

Problem 1: I didn’t have the enough turnip. I had some of one, and this recipe called for 6 pounds of the stuff. Scaling down is always a little more tricky than scaling up.

Problem 2: No dried shrimp and no will to go find any. There is no way the local grocer is going to have them around here, so I just added some extra salt.

Problem 3: No rice flour. I tried to use all purpose and some potato starch, but I think this problem was completely insurmountable.

I say that because while my large turnip cake loaf looked right, it was really more like a loaf pan full of meaty turnip soup. Not good at all. The texture wouldn’t have been a problem if the flavor was right. I was resigned to eat it with a spoon if it tasted anything like I remembered. But alas, it was wrong on every level.

I often get a hankering for something hard to find. It is how I managed to make Hainan Chicken rice, Shrimp Etouffee, Corn Dogs, and Singapore Chili Crab. Apparently, however, the turnip cake is beyond my abilities. Yeah, right, like I’m  not going to try again. I just need to find a Chinese grocery…

Gentlemen…!

Despite how I refer to the Terrors here on the Blahg, in real life, when I need to summon them I yell:

“Gentlemen…!”

I’ve had a few people comment, mostly family, who thought that was really sweet. Of course, my tone often means the opposite, but I say it anyway.

My goal has always been to raise gentlemen, so I thought it couldn’t hurt making them assume they already were gentlemen, so they damn well better act like them.

As all of you with kids know, they save their worst behavior for us. That makes it hard to gauge how they are doing in the manners department.

When our lovely bus driver came up to me the other day I was worried for a moment. We’re they screaming obscenities? Which one was the problem?

She told me a story about the Rookie, who is often accused of hitting his oldest brother on the bus. But this story was about his behavior with his seat mate.

Apparently, he sits with a kindergardener most days. The bus driver explained that every day, when the little heathens start to stampede off the bus, the Rookie steps out into the aisle. He stops the heaving throng and makes sure his friend gets into the aisle and off the bus without getting trampled. The bus driver assures me that in all her years she’s never seen a kid that young display such manners on the bus.

Fist pump

Yes!!