1. When I was a kid we usually spent December 23 at a party that my great grandparents hosted. I will never know how they fit so many of us around the same dining room table that now lives in my house, but it sure seemed like 20 or so to me as a kid. I know the maximum limit of the table is a dozen people though, because now it’s MY table, but that’s really cramped eating quarters so I try to keep it at 10 if I can. Anyway, I am sure that teenager me, on December 23, sometime in the mid-90′s never thought that 34 year old me in 2013 would spend part of her morning cleaning an absurd amount of Desitin off one of the dining table chairs, which my middle child “helpfully” smeared ALL OVER IT while I was brushing my teeth. OH, LIFE SURE IS UNPREDICTABLE.
2. Claire rides in a Britax Marathon that she’s had since she was a baby. I think car seats “expire” every five years, though I confess to not knowing exactly what that means so if it’s legit and not a sales/marketing tactic please let me know. (Does the plastic become more brittle? General wear and tear? Improved technology? I am genuinely curious.) She’s due for a refresh sometime soonish if the 5-year-expiration is to be believed. She still fits according to the stickers. However, car seats are mighty spendy so we’ll be waiting for the January sales/trade-in whatnots on that one. I moved the straps to the highest setting on the back of the seat today and it was a weird, very tangible, visual representation of how much she’s grown, right in front of my face. She’s going to be five in about a month and my goodness she sure LOOKS it these days.
3. We made it through the summer. I am not going to sugarcoat the topic for you but…this summer SUCKED. I mean, we had fun and we did things and we saw people but I am starting to accept that maybe, for me, July and August in Texas are never going to be easy with small children. Hell, those months were hard enough when I was single and childless and didn’t even have a houseplant to water. I will maybe talk about it more later, because it wasn’t just the heat, it was also the number of very young children we had clawing at our ankles and demanding Cheez-its. But you know you what? It’s OVER NOW. I’m so thrilled to be moving on. BRING ME PRESCHOOL AND FOOTBALL.
4. Sometime last week I was doing the dishes (again) and I was thinking, “My goodness, I really seem to spend A LOT OF TIME doing dishes, what is UP with that? Because no, really, THIS SEEMS TO BE EXCESSIVE.” And then I realized that since Chris works from home and nobody goes to school in the summer and Preston is eating solid food too, I am preparing and cleaning up FIFTEEN MEALS A DAY. That’s fifteen plates! Fifteen to thirty utensils! Plus prep items like cutting boards and knives! I also cook dinner every night!
AND HEAVENS, DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE SNACKS. If my memory is correct I think I prepare about eight thousand snacks a day so it’s no wonder I’m drowning in dishes. Perhaps I shall start serving meals on lettuce leaves and sending everyone outside. (Summer’s over, I can do that now.)
5. Can we talk about sunscreen? What is your favorite sunscreen for the whole family? I am not into buying individual sunscreens, I need one can that works for EVERYONE. I have been using Neutrogena Ultimate Sport for the past few years and nobody has gotten sunburned and they sell it at Costco, but like many things in life I do wonder if there’s something better out there. HMMMMM. (It has to be a spray though. How did our parents sunscreen us properly before sprays?)
6. I made some totally kick-ass enchiladas last night but I can’t show you a picture of them because unless a person is fussy and styles them very nicely with sprigs of cilantro and thin slices of avocado, enchiladas photograph terribly. But I will TELL you about them:
Chicken (breasts or thighs, whatever), about a pound or so. Cook it in the oven with some pepper, chili powder and cumin sprinkled on top.
Hatch Chiles (Or green chiles in a can, but Hatch chiles are available right now and freeze BEAUTIFULLY) (Use as many/few as you want. I used 7 or 8.)
Red Pepper, Onion, or other vegetables of your choice. (I used one red pepper and half a purple onion and I should have used two peppers and a whole onion. But, it works with whatever you have on hand.)
Black Beans (Mine come from a can, but sometimes I actually make them and freeze them up.)
Corn Tortillas (Or flour. Whatever.)
Old El Paso Green Enchilada Sauce (1-2 cans, depending on your preferred sauce level of enchiladas.)
Two bricks of cream cheese (Only Philadelphia will do at my house, but you be the judge of your own cream cheese)
A variety of spices of your choosing: chili powder, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt/garlic salt
Okay, here’s what you do. Shred the chicken up in the Cuisinart. Remove it. Chop up the bell pepper and onion (together) in the Cuisinart. Chop up the hatch chiles in the same wonderful food processer. Drain and rinse the beans. Open the bricks of cream cheese. Dump it all in a big pan on the stove. Turn the heat on lowish – you only want to heat it up enough to get the cream cheese melty so everything can be stirred up and combined (gently). Spice it up as you see fit. Taste along the way. Make yourself a nacho or two with the filling, if you need it.
Scoop the contents into tortillas, roll ‘em up, place in a casserole. Pour some enchilada sauce on top. Bake until bubbly. (OR! You can roll them up and put them in little aluminum tins and then cover with plastic wrap and foil and freeze, thereby making excellent freezer-to-oven meals for yourself or gifting.)
7. That was kind of a long 6th take, let’s count it as two, okay?