Monday, July 29, 2013

Cooking Club.

Cooking club. Let me tell you: I'm a fan.

A night to try something new, to put on "real" clothes, to leave bedtime to the dads.

Mistakes, miscalculations, mishaps. Forgotten shallots (what is a shallot, by the way?!). Way too many peppercorns in the pan.

Minor victories. Great successes. Risatta, the food of heaven. Wait, or is it risotto?

A salad much too fancy for everyday life, we decided, but oh so delicious. What would life look like if we treated ourselves to food like this everyday, even on ordinary days?

Teamwork. A group effort. Reading directions. Ignoring suggestions. Community.

These girls. Gifts given and received recently, in my thirties. My council. My people.

Pretty sparkly glasses. Filled and refilled. Misplaced. Discovered again.

The details. A setting begging for a late night dinner party for five.

Finally. We sit, we exhale. We work out the problems of the week. We leave some for next time.

Food for the body. Food for the soul.

A beautiful, messy life, best lived around the table, glasses raised, forks in hand. For a few hours, the world seems to stand still.

"That's what this is about. This isn't about recipes. This is about a family, a tribe, a little band of people who walk through it all together, up close and in the mess, real time and unvarnished." 
--Shauna Niequist, "What The Table Is For", Bread & Wine

Cooking Club Menu, Part I:
Mini Mac & Cheese
Green Well Salad
Basic Risotto
Goat Cheese Biscuits
Steak au Poivre with Cognac Pan Sauce
Nigella's Flourless Chocolate Brownies
Blueberry Crisp

Friday, July 26, 2013

one of those days.

Matt has a new position at work, and we are thankful, but we're also all exhausted. Today, we needed to be together, to escape a little, just the five of us.

Today was one of those days.

We started out, haphazardly, towards a big zoo this morning. Right after breakfast. You know, at 11 am. (I may have returned from my 6am swim with the girls, showered and ready to greet the day head on. And I may have promptly crawled back into bed for the best two hours of sleep of my life.)

And so we began. Barely. We almost didn't make it out of the driveway. One of those days.

Hopping down the highway at 75 miles per hour, we hemmed and hawed. Keep going, an hour and twenty minutes to The Zoo, or take a chance on another zoo, just 30 minutes away?

We took the chance. Honestly, it sounded like less work. (One of those days.)

We exhaled as we exited the highway and drove through cornfields and past dairy farms and around curve and over hills. The part of me that is just like my mother wanted to stop and read every centennial farm plaque and historical sign.

And then, almost in a Field of Dreams like moment, we arrived.

The kids grumbled and groaned, piling out of the car.

We entered through the gift shop.

We positively perked up when we realized this was no ordinary zoo.

We walked and pointed and laughed and circled around and around. I wondered briefly about making a Plan, you know, for seeing the zoo in an orderly fashion, and then relaxed when I realized no plan was necessary.

It was one of those days.

Not too hot, even a tad bit cool. A relief to enjoy July without sweating.

We saw zebra and porcupines, alligators and addax. We rooted for the industrious tortoise, who looked to be plotting his escape. We took a safari ride on a giant bus with giraffe spots and couldn't believe how big ostrich eggs really are.

We picked up bunnies and chicks, and shrieked our way out of the parakeet enclosure. (Matt says it's good our independent Mady is reminded every now and then that she still needs us.) We fed llamas and baby goats. We picked out imaginary, exotic pets for our suburban back yard.

I took pictures like an old school mama - with an actual camera and with little thought as to how they might look on Instagram or Facebook or our blog. And then I put the camera away and the rest of our memories are tucked safely away in my mama's heart.

We stayed at the zoo way past lunch time. One of those days.

We stopped at a farmstand and bought English muffin bread, peaches, sweet cherries, and homemade donuts.

We took the scenic route back into a nearby little town, Matt's old stomping grounds. We ate lunch at a quaint little sandwich shop, and I enjoyed the best sandwich of my life. And then the girls antiqued (and Mommy held her breath), and the boys discovered (or in Matt's case, rediscovered) the magic of an old school card shop. Dylan spent his cash ($4 total: $3 he had saved up at home plus $1 To Be Worked Off Later).

We drove down the river, to a spot near the covered bridge. We watched a wedding party take pictures, and we ate our donuts. We circled back for the park bathrooms and stumbled upon a company picnic. We were approached by a clown making balloon animals and asked if we were with the company or just picnic crashers. We smiled and shrugged our shoulders, and tromped back to the car with a balloon bunny, kitty, and alligator tucked under our arms.

We drove home, four of us very sleepily, and also, honestly, on the edge of hysteria.

I headed for the couch - all I wanted was a quick nap - as the rain started to fall. Instead of a nap, three kids snuggled in, all elbows and knees. We started to play and bicker and talk about dinner, hoping someone else would make the first move. We decided showers first might be better.

Some families love to be on the go; I think more than anything, for better or for worse, our family loves to be at home.

From there, one lovely little lady tried to use the towel bar as a gymnastics bar and pulled it right off the wall, sawdust flying.

The boy couldn't wait to start looking up card values on eBay, carefully putting the best cards in clear holders, and labeling each one with little white stickers pulled out of his dad's own dusty boyhood briefcase.

We picked up the house and threatened bedtime and then forgot and played horse, crawling around on our hands and knees. There were accidents and spills, tears and I'm sorry's. Finally, later than we had intended, we brushed our teeth and snuggled three little ones into cool beds.

And as we did so, we marveled at a day lived well, a day lived together, a day lived imperfectly on many counts, but also a day lived just right.

It was, quite simply, one of those days.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Finally Finley.

You can rest a little easier, friends: Finley Grace is finally home.

I've shared so much of her story here on this blog, that I wanted to make sure I didn't leave out the best part. After years of hoping, waiting, and dreaming, our dear friends are now adjusting to a new normal, to life as a family of five.

We couldn't be happier for them.

Photo Credit: Lindsay at Love is {in Pictures}
Welcome home, Finley Grace! 
We're so glad you're here!

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