marcus and i were sitting in our chairs on the porch reading the mail today when olivia grabbed the sidewalk chalk and began scribbling at our feet. she drew a colorful cross and put vickie's name on it front and center. then she put all her siblings' names around it and said "it was all the kids saying prayers for vickie." i'm not sure what sparked this or what she had been thinking about, but i know they are still processing her loss as well. and they do it so organically, getting on the ground and drawing it out. grown ups have a lot to learn.
boys will be boys. and toddlers will be toddlers. i'm not sure which was more enthralling sam with the snake or audrey with the cake. but they both were a sweet find-the snake while on the way back across the open space from the fort, the cake spotted at the far recesses of the counter top. sam put the snake back exactly where he found it, 'cause that's a sam kind of thing to do. audrey got cake crumbs exactly everywhere. while audrey is happy to have a big brother, we're hoping the snake is an only child.
so, i'd like to share some of the new recipes i'm trying. if i can't have you all over for dinner, then at least you can see what's coming out of the kitchen these days. i'm trying recipes with fewer ingredients that are affordable and kid-friendly. i'll share how much our may grocery bill went down at the end of the month. you should see me walking around the store with my calculator and price binder.
crockpot smoked sausage:
2 pkg. smoked sausage sliced thick (turkey is fine)
2 lbs. frozen hashbrowns (i used the cubed ones)
sweet vidalia onion chopped (half an onion)
green bell pepper chopped (one whole pepper-add the last hour)
dash of garlic powder
1 can of cheddar cheese soup
10 oz. milk
mix all but peppers, soup and milk in a well buttered crockpot. whisk soup and milk together and pour over. cook on low 4 hours. yum. serious down home cookin' and made even better when served with biscuits. (cooking with soup is not always the healthiest, but a couple times a month it sure is yummy.) i love my crockpot and besides my children it would be the first thing i grabbed in the case of a fire.
baked shrimp with feta and orzo:
4 scallions (don't you love how in fancier recipes they're called scallions and not green onions?)
3 garlic cloves
1 1/2 lbs. shrimp (i used the frozen raw small ones thawed-watch for sales)
2 T. olive oil
1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes in juice (try the fire roasted ones!)
1/2 c. crumbled feta
preheat oven to 400. cook scallions and garlic in oil over med. heat until scallions wilt. add tomatoes and bring to a boil. cook until it thickens, about 5 minutes. remove from heat and stir in shrimp. sprinkle with feta. bake until cheese melts and shrimp are firm, about 10 minutes. serve over orzo and make sure you have bread to dip into the sauce. this is your fancy, but easy dinner. no soup involved.
she's still with us. our cat belle, who was put under the christmas tree in 1999, poisoned during the pet food scare of 2007 and moved across the country while sleeping near the gas/brake pedals for 15 hours. since the melamine poisoning from tainted wheat in china, she's had small seizures where she loses consciousness and throws up. she starts making this really strange noise, so we all know it's about to happen and we spring into action, grabbing the carpet spray, paper towels and trying to move her to the hardwood floor. we just tell her "it's okay cheech" and as she comes to, we pet her. afterwards, she'll go up on my bed and sleep for a while. she's one strong animal i guess. totally low maintenance, mostly keeping to herself, except when she's in the mood for attention and then she's a sweetheart. she's still lively and weird, chewing on my little pony's hair and twitching and racing around the house when she gets a wild hair. we haven't taken the dog plunge yet, but cheech will be fine when we do. she knows she rules the roost and can clearly hold her own. she sits on the driveway staring at the dogs in the neighborhood, taunting them, knowing full well they have electric fence and can't get her. she loves the birds here, watching and hunting through the screen door. there's a little hedge in the front yard, that she likes to climb into to hide herself while getting some fresh air. one red tailed hawk comes by and she's a distant memory and it seems like she knows it. the kids come in the house and look for "the cheech" everyday. sam does the litter box and olivia usually feeds her. she sleeps on my feet every night and she flirts with marcus brushing up against his legs while he reads the paper. there is no love lost between cheech and ethan. he chases her, she chases him. it's a love/hate thing. and audge loves it when cheech goes under the bedskirt of her crib, lifts up the skirt and says "hi cheechie". so, until a dog enters our world, we have "the cheech". we have a responsibility to make her gig here on earth the best we can. so, the occasional cheeto left on the floor is all yours cheech (yes, she loves cheetos). i'll keep filling the birdbath for your entertainment cheech. you are welcome to be the 10 lb. brick on my feet every night. and if you keep pawing at the fridge, we'll keep giving you fresh cold water. love you cheech!
my absent-minded professor (sam) forgot a math sheet on the dining room table so, i ran to school at his lunch hour to drop it off. he was also really complaining about his throat and ears hurting, so i grabbed the motrin too and headed out the door. when i got to the front desk of the school, a woman from a back office saw me through the interior window of her office and came out to great me. she was probably about 55 or so, with a cute denim fishing hat covering her obviously bald head. she was wearing a breast cancer pin and her office was filled with cards of well wishes. a large banner hung above the window to her office that said "2008 Employee of the Year!" i had to believe that surely that award was not only for the wonderful dedication to her job, but her tenacity in the face of this disease as well.
i explained to her that i had given birth to an absent-minded professor with bad allergies, as she laughed looking at the papers and motrin in my hands. she grabbed his schedule from a file to locate him and made a quick call to have him sent down to the office. while i was waiting for sam, another mom came in to pick her daughter up. she was dressed to the 9's in that colorado casual-but-costs-a-fortune look with overhighlighted short hair and flashy sunglasses. the girl was sitting in the office, waiting to go to an ortho appt. i figured out. the lady from the office asked the mom for an i.d., a customary security process in a school of 900 middle schoolers. to which the overdone mom replied "you know, this is getting to be ridiculous."
okay. i do understand her notion that the security stuff is a bit much. but you know darn well, that if something happened at that school, she'd be the first one to complain. just follow the rules lady, i thought. office lady walked over to another file cabinet to check the girl's file and mom's i.d. against each other. meanwhile, overdone mom says loud enough for everyone to hear "she's just doing this to be obnoxious. they don't check i.d.'s here." then she turns to me to receive some kind of sympathetic look or affirmation to which i stared straight ahead of me. no way. i'm not signing on to your assinine behavior. find another chump. while office lady was checking her i.d. the mom explained (again loudly) to her daughter she was late because she was on the phone laughing with her girlfriend and no big deal if they don't make the appt. they'll just reschedule and spend the rest of the day shopping. now who's trying to be obnoxious?
so, office lady comes back and says thank you to overdone mom. it doesn't end there folks. overdone mom says "you know, " (the last sentence she started this way wasn't a good one) "i'm in a hurry and this was totally unnecessary and you just did this to hold me up. my plate is very full." i freaked. i totally freaked out and yelled at the woman, "she's battling breast cancer. her plate is way more full than yours." she whipped hear head around shocked, closed up her purse, office lady and i exchange looks that bonded us forever, and overdone mom stormed out saying things like "all of our plates are full, we're late for an ortho appt....." trailing off into the parking lot.
the easily rescheduled appt. wasn't all that important. the phone conversation was just too fun and worth being late for. she clearly has the time and funds to shop with her daughter for the afternoon footloose and carefree. does she even realize that she could be going to a chemo appt.? she could be waiting for test results, wearing a paper gown and sitting in a cold doctor's office. guess what overdone mom? no matter how inconvenienced you were today, office lady's day sucks more. it just gets to.
the thing that bothers me the most is that i don't think she knows. i don't think she'll lay awake in bed tonight thinking about how she shouldn't have been so hard on office lady. she just doesn't seem to have that kind of heart and that's what i'll pray for. not that she gets cancer or anything, but that in some way, somehow, she'll be touched by another person's troubles enough to pull her up and out of her r.e.i. flip flops to see. to see that sometimes getting up and sitting in a middle school office checking i.d.'s is a real triumph for some people. that it would have been easier to lay in bed and not live today for today. i said "i'm so sorry you had to deal with that" to office lady and she said "oh, you wouldn't believe what i have to deal with." oh-i have an idea. and something tells me you can take it lady.