Archive Page 2

13
Feb
09

The Week’s Kid Highlights

Kid highlights of the week so far (There will come a time when I have more to blog about, I promise, but I need to write this stuff down or I’ll forget about it.):

  • Coming out of Target with C. the other night we were behind a man on one of those motorized shopping carts. C. asked me if we could help him with his bags. I told him he could ask the man if he would like help. The man said “no thank you,” but I was still proud of my son.
  • C. went from throwing a tantrum on the floor because he didn’t want to see his caseworker to making said caseworker a Mii on Wii. Then we had a good talk about other ways he can express his anger over seeing people who make him sad.
  • C. and I went to Circle Center Mall to get a black shirt for his school play today. He LOVED it. He kept saying how much fun it was – the mall that is. We went to the Gap to get a black shirt. They had a nice polo, but he didn’t want it. I asked him why and he said, “it’s nice, but it’s spiffy. And I don’t really look good in spiffy. My friends think I look weird in spiffy.” Then as a giant guy walked by us, he said, “Hey, that guy looks like Bob Sanders.” Whatever, the black t-shirt we got at H & M was actually cooler and a LOT cheaper. Now I have to figure out a kid style that isn’t spiffy, but that involves something besides Colts jerseys and sweats (young urbanite maybe?). It sounds bad to say, but at least he likes the mall. And he was really impressed when we ran into Mr. Frank there, who is our friend who helped Miss Indiana become Miss America.
  • As C. wrote out his class valentines he gave the girls two pieces of High School Musical Heart candy so that it would equal the size of one Sponge Bob “crabby patty” candy that each of the boys were getting with their valentines. Fair is fair.
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08
Feb
09

On My Transfiguration into a 1950’s Housewife

There was once a time when I used to stare out of the kitchen sink window at the viburnum bushes pondering one of my life’s great mysteries: namely that I knew I was destined to be a 1950s housewife but didn’t actually feel like one. Well, I’m here to tell you, we can safely put that one in the solved column. The problem was that I didn’t yet have children.

I’m not sure how it happened, but the second I became a parent a switch inside me was flipped.

I used to dread mornings. Now I get up at 5:45 a.m. I walk Claire, cook a full breakfast for three, empty the dishwasher, start a load of clothes and have C. to school with his bed made and his room picked up by 7:40. Those of you who know me well, know that before fatherhood I used to think getting up at 8:00 was something of an imposition. And the weird thing is, I have a strange feeling of satisfaction about the whole ordeal.

My joy over completed loads of laundry coupled with a strange desire to keep C.’s drawers stocked with clean socks and underwear is particularly surprising to me. Before I was a dad I used to moan to my mom that I sometimes had to do laundry twice a week. She said, “When you were a kid I typically did it twice a day.” I presumed she was exaggerating. She wasn’t. Today is Sunday. C. is going over to a friend’s house to play after church, and I’m actually thrilled that I have a day just to laundry! What has happened to me?

And don’t get me started on how much I love a clean house now. It’s as if disorder and chaos are crouched around every corner waiting to attack the house, and I’m the superhero in charge of keeping them shaking a fist in the air and muttering “curses!” I need to come up with a name for my new super alter ego (The Orderizer? Put It Away Man?). And it isn’t just me. John springs into action to help me out. C., too. No lie! He is a wiz with the dust cloth and the vacuum cleaner. Sure I have to set up little rewards for us: “Okay, if we can get the entire house cleaned by 3:00 we’ll go see Pink Panther II.” But you should see them scurry.

I’ve even started meal planning and preparing dinners in advance! This morning we had French toast casserole (easy to prepare the night before – I included the recipe below. John and I loved it. C. was lukewarm. Said parts of it were too soft – he was talking about the buttery brown sugar part!).

I have a feeling this may be just a delayed nesting reaction, since we had such a short “pregnancy.” (I did catch myself last week putting off a trip to the grocery store until we ran out of plastic poop bags for Claire.) I guess I’ll just ride the wave for as long as it lasts.

Here’s the recipe:

Virginia Willis’s French Toast Casserole (From her cookbook Bon Appetit Y’all)

French Toast Casserole

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 loaf brioche or challah, sliced 1-1/2 inches thick (about 1-1/2 pounds)
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (I substituted a little cardamom)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Confectioners’ sugar, for accompaniment
Sorghum, cane, or maple syrup, for accompaniment

Instructions:

Combine the melted butter and brown sugar in a baking dish. Arrange the bread slices in the dish. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a bowl. Pour over the bread, letting it soak in. Top with the pecans. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Let the chilled casserole stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Bake until browned and set, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly. Sift over confectioners’ sugar. Serve hot or warm with sorghum, cane, or maple syrup.

22
Jan
09

Biggy Smalls

Not the rapper. That phrase describes our life now- a much smaller world that feels much bigger. When we first shared the good news about our son with our friend Sarah, who is a mom and the librarian at C.’s school, she said, “You don’t know it yet, but your social life has just changed.”

At the time I sort of knew what she meant: we’ll meet a lot more parents with kids, etc. The truth of what she really meant finally dawned on me as I was driving home yesterday from school with C. and his friend James in the backseat. My new social set is made up mostly of nine-year olds whose parents are trying to get a break from them! That’s really fine with me. C. is a very social animal especially if you are a nine year old and/or willing to play Lego Star Wars for hours on end. He and James really hit it off fast at school, and C. told me that James already feels like his “cousin” (translation = best kind of friend).

I like all of the friends C. is meeting. They are most entertaining. If you haven’t spent much time with nine year old boys, you should know that they think they are hilarious and typically are, but not for the reasons they believe. I’m starting to see that nine year olds are sort of like 80-year old men in that they can be entertained by talking about their bowel movements for hours. Yesterday as we drove home C. and James were trying to top one another’s stories about who had clocked in the longest recorded number 2 effort. James said he nearly missed an an entire Reds baseball game sitting on a toilet getting rid of the remnants of a Lean Cuisine meal that didn’t agree with him. “Two hours, I was in there! I haven’t eaten Lean Cuisine since,” he said.

Even C. was amazed at that one, and that’s saying something since he’s known for taking his own sweet time in the bathroom, too. Sometimes when he’s been in there a good long while, he’ll call out for us just to make sure we’re still somewhere in the house. Even though we would probably have time for a trip to the mall and a stop at the grocery store before he emerged again, it hasn’t sunk in for him yet that we would never leave him in the house by himself.

So our home has become our world in a way that it never has before. C. is becoming a homebody, which is good news because it means he is starting to experience his home as “home.” That can be challenging for someone whose life has completely changed recently. That we are spending time at home is a good thing in a lot of ways. And fortunately, our neighbors and good friends who have a son about C.’s age invite us over for dinner and to play a lot, which is helping him love his neighborhood, too.

As our life becomes centered on the geographic locales of school, church, home and neighborhood, we are starting to notice things that we never did before, like new friends and challenges to keeping friends without kids engaged in our lives. And our eyes are ever scanning the horizon for good babysitters as John and I prepare for the day when we can have a date night. Having C. has certainly brought John and me closer as a couple. At least that’s the way I’m choosing to characterize recent comments I’ve made to him, things like “You know you can never divorce me now. I will chain you to the basement stairs before I ever let you leave me.” Could be time for that date night sooner than I think. Don’t want the world to become TOO small.

12
Jan
09

Welcome Home, C!

Four years ago as I wandered through one of those organic everything food coops in Minneapolis with my friend Kris, I shared a secret with her.
“John and I are trying to adopt,” I said.
“Adopt a what?” She asked as she clasped the most tender of the leafy greens from a bulk vegetable bin with small pair of plastic tongs.
“A kid,” I said holding onto the cart.
She dropped the tongs, turned to look at me and said, “Are you out of your mind? Don’t do it!”
“Why not?” I asked, immediately offended by what I interpreted as a lack of confidence in my latent parenting skills. “You’re a parent!” I laced that last accusation with a thick layer of if you can do it, I can.
“Which is why I can tell you in full confidence that this is the silliest idea you have ever had. Heartache! Heartache! That’s what you’re shopping for! Don’t you know?” Kris has a charming ability to overstate her case in a way that actually makes you think about the case she’s making. And for the record, she’s actually crazy about her college-aged daughter.
As we shopped, Kris continuing her diatribe and me feeling sorry for her daughter whose middle name it seemed might as well be “heartache,” I did find myself taking one of many of the steps back I’ve taken over the last four years and asking myself, “is this really what we want?”
The good news for same-sex couples is that we aren’t in much danger of “accidentally” getting pregnant. Almost all children who end up in families like ours are planned for. There are many opportunities along the way for reflection and healthy second-guessing.
Well, I’m happy to inform any reader who may not know the truth already that after four years of thinking, praying, studying, home studies and document filling out, John and I are now parents.
Our new son, who I will call C., is nine. We met him over Thanksgiving. After meeting and talking (he had to meet three potential families) he chose us and we chose him. He came to live with us in mid-December and man, what a journey it’s been so far.
He’s a mighty fine gift. I’ve known for some time that children are a gift from the Lord, but I’ve since decided that I never knew just how many ways they could be. Having C. in our lives is like having a magnifier held in front of the sun and over every aspect of our lives – more light, more heat, and a clearer view than ever before. Not to mention a sense that things are going to spark up at any moment.
So Good Home will be getting a family twist in the future. I can’t promise posting will be regular, since we are still getting into our routine, but I’ll do my best. I hope you will hang in there with us. And please pray for us as we create the life God has for us together!

28
Nov
08

A Near Perfect Holiday

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Ours was a near perfect holiday. I have a bad habit of expecting all of them to be that way, but we kind of lucked into this one being darn close.

We had dinner with John’s mom and his grandmother and Jim at Broadway Church. Every year our church hosts a Thanksgiving lunch for anyone in the parish who wants to come, and they deliver meals to those who can’t make it. John and I’ve volunteered in the morning before and then gone on to our family Thanksgiving dinner, but this year we asked John’s mom and co. to eat with us there because everyone was too busy to host. Best idea we’ve had in a while.

Turkey and Cranberry Sauce

I donated the turkey we brined and baked and some fresh cranberry sauce (easy recipe below). I’ll never buy canned cranberry sauce again. If I’d trussed the legs on the turkey it wouldn’t look like it was about to get up and march off, but it was still super tasty. If you want The Goose’s brine recipe and other turkey tips, just send me a message in the comments. If I get enough I’ll post them. If not, I’ll be happy to just e-mail you.

Thanksgiving at Broadway is so ding-dang festive. I just love it.

Broadway Thanksgiving

The food is good. They have great live music and everyone, even people you don’t know wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. When we sat down a woman we’d never met before came and joined us. Her name was Donna. She’s between Jim and Linda in our photo.

Family

Turns out she’s a Special Olympics state bowling champ. She told us she had to eat a big dinner because finals were next Saturday.

The Sell family started the Thanksgiving at Broadway tradition about 30 years ago (Roger if that’s not right, feel free to correct me). And it’s been going strong ever since.

Queen Pat

Pat Pearson, Broadway’s kitchen queen (hugging Conor in this photo, precious) is one of the main reasons it happens. Her mac and cheese was awesome.

Mr. Jim and Me

This is Mr. Jim, one of Broadway’s hospitality staff people. I’m a big fan. He makes me feel good every time I see him.

After we had dinner at Broadway, John and I drove down to catch up with his dad’s family. Had a great time there, too, but my favorite thing was watching how excited John’s dad was to show off his new motorcycle, which John’s cousin Mary models here.

Motor Mary

Once we got home, Dave and Conor came over for our final yearly Thanksgiving tradition, watching White Christmas. Dave even managed to stay awake until the end this year.

White Christmas Crew

Like I said, it was a near perfect holiday. The only thing that would have made it better was if I’d gotten to see my family and one other person. But I’m truly grateful for all that we have.

Here’s my recipe for Sweet Tart Cranberry Sauce. Try it for Christmas, and let me know what you think. It’s a recipe I’m toying with, so I’m open to suggestions.

Sweet Tart Cranberry Sauce

3 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbs. water
Zest from one orange (Just the outside of the orange, not the white pith, which is bitter)
1 tsp. fresh ginger, finely grated (handheld Microplane works well for this and for zesting the orange)
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. allspice
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Set over medium heat without stirring until most of the cranberry skins have split, about ten minutes. Stir gently. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

20
Nov
08

Now That’s What I Call A Brine

Darn that giant magical food elf, Chris Eley. So I was at Goose The Market’s website ordering a country ham for Christmas dinner. On their home page Chris, one of the owners and in my opinion a closet Southerner (no one likes the pig as much as you do who isn’t, Chris), has a cute video of him brining a turkey. And we’re not talking just throwing your bird into a bucket of salt water.

Toasted star anise, cinnamon stick and mustard seeds, sliced oranges, brown sugar, flat leaf parsley, garlic, lemon, bunches of other things and of course salt (He even provided the full shopping list that you can print out). And, I promise, he makes it look easy.

We weren’t going to roast a turkey for Thanksgiving since we’re having one at a friend’s house on Sunday and then having Thanksgiving dinner at Broadway Church on Turkey Day. But I’m thinking we might have to order one of Chris’s fancy free runnin’ birds now and try this recipe.

I wonder where I can get a turkey injector this late in the game.

Update: So I went to The Goose to order my turkey and found out they will even put together all of the ingredients you need for the brine and sell it to you along with the turkey! I just pick it all up along with the bird on Saturday. If it’s tasty enough I’ll take a picture and post the results.

31
Oct
08

Return to Boggy Creek

Fouke Monster Foot Cake

Well, the holidays are here. That means it’s time for our annual Legend of Boggy Creek party. Those of you who know me well, know that I’m obsessed with Bigfoot and by extension his Arkansas cousin, the Fouke Monster (or “munster” as Mr. Willy calls him in the movie). Boggy Creek isn’t much of a party. It’s typically on a Tuesday night. There aren’t many refreshments, just bottled Coke and this year a big foot cake that I made myself. I tried to swirl the icing to give it a hairy look.

As with all good parties though, the guests make the night special. But it is not an exclusive list. Anyone is welcome as long as they have a healthy respect for Bigfoot and the horribly bad movies made about him. Be forewarned though, the movie does suck and attendance is frowned upon if all you’ve come to do is make fun of Dave and me for being dressed like this:

Mama Searcy 1 and Mama Searcy 2

Guests don’t have to be in costume. It is encouraged, but if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t know what to wear, comfortable pajamas are appropriate (see Eric and Max below). Most of the women in the movie are dressed in nightgowns and big rollers, so Dave did a little shopping. We’re dressed as Mother Searcy. We didn’t make an attempt to look particularly matronly, since the woman in the movie who plays her sort of looks like a dude anyway. I don’t know if there’s much of a market for it, but Dave totally rocks granny chic. The cigarette is fake, kids. Remember, don’t smoke, and stay in school.

Eric and Max

Eric jumped at the chance to wear his pjs to a party. And Max is wearing the new Fouke Monster shoes I found when I was in Arkansas last. No, that’s not how they were marketed, but it’s the way they should have been.

When Max put on the rest of his costume it was clear that he was a little confused. Instead of “Fouke Monster”, he thought I said “Fez Monkey”. I cut him some slack since he’s only nine months.

Fez Monkey

But you got to hand it to the boy. He’s a tech whiz already. Look at him go at that DVD player. He couldn’t wait to get the movie started!

Fez Monkey

And, Max, that’s how you get invited back.