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Scattered Sundays

To all the parents out there who are looking at the color-coded “summer fun bucket lists” on Pinterest and then googling “are there boarding schools for summer”, I see you and I honor you.

My friend Anne, who is the one of the best mothers I have ever met, once told me “I’m a better mom because I work”. And I loved hearing that from someone who is so incredible. It gave me so much freedom to say the same without guilt.

And those declarations go both ways, for the record. If you are a better mom because you don’t work outside of the home, more power to you. Let’s do more public declaring of what makes us happy. More of that, please and thank you.

You know that I’m a firm believer that mom guilt can go die in a dumpster fire. And this podcast series was a fascinating discussion on the difference between guilt and shame. I highly recommend it.

Basically, guilt is internal (what I think I should be doing) and shame is external (what others tell me I should be doing). And when it comes to anything related to how we view ourselves as parents, I think both can go straight to hell.

As someone who works from home, I dread school vacations and that is the honest truth. My kids are at this age where they are at each other’s throats from the second they wake up until the minute they go to bed. It is exhausting and right now, it’s not that fun to be their mom.

Can we start to publically admit that we would fight a bear for our children and love them with our whole hearts, and STILL not want to be around them 24/7? Can we just use that as a jumping-off point?

I want a life where we go on trips and experience new things together and have magical moments. Instead, what often happens is that I have to do 4-7-8 breathing just to get through a 60-minute church service. It’s always only one hour because you know Lutherans will straight-up riot if it goes longer than that. Do not piss of the Nordic churchgoers.

The idea of 10 weeks ahead of me of balancing work while listening to the utter crap that they fight about is already leaving me exhausted and annoying. I want to make one of those paper countdowns to Christmas chains, but instead of Santa coming, it’s the kids going back to school in September.

The only real time I feel guilt is when I think about how badly I want them out of the house, but also can’t help but think that every day they go to school there is the danger that they won’t come home. That’s the state of the American school system. We send our children off and pray that they return.

So, my fellow “just get through the next few months” parents, I see you. I honor you. And in the words of Pantsuit Politics, I’m sending you a virtual cobbler and a hug. Here is to what is likely to be an exhausting and crappy summer. :confetti:

a stuffed cat with glass jars

As I have mentioned multiple times since May (you’re probably sick of hearing about it), I had a big audacious goal of getting all photos I needed through mid-September photographed before the kids came home for the summer.

Bennett is a curious little cat and cannot/will not help himself from touching my camera equipment or the food I am photographing. He’s been reverting to the behavior of a three-year-old lately and is asking ALL the questions.

The idea of a one-hour photography session taking three hours because of dodging children, Nerf darts, and having to answer questions the entire time, was a hard pass for me. I worked SO hard to avoid that scenario by ramping up photography to two or three days a week in the last six weeks.

Well, I almost got there. Seriously, so close. I did end up shifting some things around due to the overwhelming nature of the growing list, and I moved a few recipes to later in September. I can now photograph those when school starts and breathe a little more easily.

As of yesterday, I got all but ONE recipe photographed that remained on my list. I’m shocked I did it and I’m exhausted by the idea of ever doing it again.

I would have done that final recipe but due to the terrible spring weather we’re having, local produce is delayed by 4-6 weeks. From an asethtics perspective, this recipe simply couldn’t be made with grocery store produce, and thus I’ll need to wait until the end of July when it’s available at our farmer’s markets.

Of the 45+ projects I started with, a good chunk of them were rephotographing old recipes. Let’s just say that I thought this photo in 2017 was so good, the height of sophistication, and surely would drive ALL the traffic to my blog. In a strange but entirely predictable twist, it did not!

an ugly photo of pesto in a glass jar
Is it vomit or pesto? Who’s to say.

Giving old posts a “glow up” as Katie and I call it, always feels good. And with new photos comes a reworking of the post. I can clarify and (oftentimes) simplify instructions. It’s nice to do a little refresh to make something better for y’all.

A friend once told me that her mom came to my site and said that the instructions were too complicated. That got in my head and as a result, I have a whole year of old posts where I thought if I shoved a bunch of steps into ONE instruction field in the recipe card, it would look “uncomplicated”.

Guess what? It didn’t! It just made things confusing and overwhelming. I have now come to the realization that maybe my recipes aren’t for everyone, and that is ok. So instead of trying to appear simpler, I actually just clarify what you need to do to make it successfully. Results > perception.

This “balls to the wall” photography experiment taught me a few things. 1) I don’t want to repeat it next year. So, instead, I’m going to add one extra photo project a week throughout the next school year to spread the pain around. 2) I need 15 dishwashers and a fairy godmother to empty them. 3) I do not know how people cook without supportive footwear.

I wear wool slippers from fall thru spring and have these athletic inserts in them. Even with that, I’m still pooped by the end of a long day in the kitchen!

In late spring through summer, I wear a pair of Toms that are meant just for the house. They are supportive enough for me, but I keep a pair of terrycloth washable inserts in there because this bish has some sweaty feet.

a baby deer
I take my job as “volunteer fawn crossing guard” VERY seriously.

Bennett got his ‘Rona booster shot on Monday during his well-check and discussion with his ped about EDS. Unlike Troy and Jack who were like a hot bag of death after their second shots and boosters, Bennett was totally fine after his second dose.

Well, the booster made him pretty miserable, a fact that we didn’t realize until we picked him up from school on Tuesday and he collapsed into my arms saying he didn’t feel well and had a headache. Poor nugget.

Jack recovered from his vaccines within 36 hours of getting them. Troy had a three-day recovery (hours 0-48 being completely dead to the world), and Bennett followed in both of their footsteps this time.

He was fine Wednesday morning but by Wednesday afternoon his headache was back as well as a low-grade fever. He didn’t want to miss a single second of his last week of school, so he rallied with some Tylenol and Motrin. And yes, we tested him daily for ‘Rona, but this was just a simple post-vax reaction.

With his PFAPA (Periodic Fever, Aphthous Stomatitis, Pharyngitis, Adenitis), fevers are pretty normal around here. In fact, they happen so frequently that we refer to them as “his period”. We know how to deal with them; we’re old hands at this point.

One piece of advice that I’d like to give to parents of “normie” kids (you know, kids who don’t get high fevers every 4-6 weeks…) is to spend a few days taking your kid’s temps throughout the day. Do this when they’re healthy. Try it over a holiday weekend.

I’d recommend you take their temps when they wake up, after eating breakfast, mid-morning, lunchtime, middle of the afternoon, late afternoon, dinnertime, and right before bed. I know that seems like A LOT of temps to take but stick with me on this.

Make a note on your phone or write it analog style (on a piece of paper) over a few days what your kid’s temps are during each timeframe. You might be shocked to learn (as we were), that a lot of kids actually have elevated temps in the late afternoon, no matter how healthy they are.

For whatever reason, both my kids have temperatures between 99.1 and 99.4 around 3 pm. If we didn’t know that was normal for them, taking their temps and finding them “elevated” would be concerning. Note: a temp is only considered a fever if it is 100.4F or above.

Oh, and regarding the EDS check-in with Bennett’s pediatrician…it was inconclusive. He has some of the markers for it (excessive bendiness, especially in finger joints and super stretchy skin) but his doctor wants to do more research on it.

EDS is a disorder with a spectrum of symptoms, so at some point, he might refer us to a rheumatologist. It’s kind of a wait-and-see thing at this point. Until then, he continues to freak us out with his creepy fingers.

a kid in red pajamas with a weird finger.

And finally, a happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, especially Troy, my dad and my father-in-law! Father’s Day can be complicated for people for multiple reasons. I hope that however you feel about today, it involves good food and some self-care.

multiple photos of a dad with his kids.
multiple photos of a dad with his kids.

Tomorrow is the first time that the US has acknowledged Juneteeth as a federal holiday (obseved). If you’re unfamiliar with Juneteeth or just want to learn more about it, the ADL has some great resources and ways to honor this holiday.

In the Garden This Week

I fiiiiiiiiiiinally got the tomato and cucumber plants in. And frankly, it’s still probably too early given this dumpster fire of a spring we’re having. Unlike previous years, I really limited how many tomato plants I put in.

A normal year finds me planting 18-22 plants. This year I put in a measly eight plants. That’s enough for fresh eating (this recipe is a favorite), freezing (details here), and giving away to neighbors and loved ones.

Only eight plants mean no canning this year, and that is OK. For my mental health and work/life/kitchen balance, taking a year off from canning is just how it’s going to be. Instead of canning tomato soup, I’ll just be using this recipe to make our family’s favorite tomato soup in fall and winter.

I continue to pick epic amounts of lettuce each week, creating giant salads. We all know that I feel “meh” about salads, but they’re fresh and free right now; two of my favorite “f” words.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO THIS WEEK

DepreshMode (formerly The Hilarious World of Depression) is a podcast about mental illness and mental health. If you or someone you know lives with mental disorders, this is a really great podcast to have in your life.

I loved this recent episode with David Sedaris. I’ve always enjoyed his books and his interviews (this one with Conan O’Brien is delightful) and this episode is very illuminating.

If you’re ever read his books before, you know what kind of “character” his dad is. His dad has passed away, and David feels free to finally talk about the kind of person his dad was. It’s a great and heartfelt discussion.

READER SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK

Kelly left this five-star review on our Garlic Butter Rice post {Pin this recipe}:

Amazing and so simple and quick.  My husband was like that smells so good! He is not a big rice fan but he loves it! Great recipe. 

a white and blue bowl with garlic rice topped with chopped parsley.

ON SUSTAINABLE COOKS THIS WEEK

Fresh Peach Ice Cream – Usually this is where I tell you all about the recipe and why you’ll love it. Instead, I’m going to tell you that I have spent the last two years remaking and retesting this old recipe to make it 100% better.

The old recipe was fine but never had the “wow” factor I was looking for. It wasn’t as creamy or as flavorful as I wanted.

This new version is all of those things and more. This new recipe is so very good and I’m excited to share it with you.

a blue bowl with multiple scoops of homemade peach ice cream, with whole peaches.
That front scoop of ice cream looks like it has a butthole. It can’t be unseen.

Pub Cheese Pub Cheese is a delicious and flavorful spreadable cheese dip that you’re going to love snacking on! Perfect with crackers, veggies, and pretzels, this beer cheese recipe is a super-fast appetizer that will quickly get gobbled up. {Pin this recipe}

a piece of celery being dipped into a bowl of pub cheese.

Can You Freeze KaleLearn all the tips and tricks for freezing kale to save a ton of time and money. Learning how to freeze kale for smoothies, soups, and sauces is a great way to preserve this healthy staple of so many recipes. {Pin this recipe}

a wooden bowl full of chopped kale, and a wooden cutting board with a knife.

THE FIVE MOST POPULAR POSTS THIS WEEK

  1. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – vegan and vegetarian as written but super customizable! On, and did you know you can FREEZE these? {Pin this recipe}
  2. Canning Peaches – like sunshine in a jar that you can enjoy all year long. {Pin this tutorial}
  3. Garlic Butter Rice – so easy and so comforting! {Pin this recipe}
  4. How to Freeze Spinach – the people demand instructions and I happily give them! {Pin this tutorial}
  5. Peach Ice Cream – this recipe got a MAJOR glow-up this week and I’m stoked to see it doing so well! {Pin this tutorial}

MEAL PLAN

I don’t know what we’re having this week, because Troy offered to handle all the meal planning and grocery shopping for our trip to the ocean. And I happily and joyfully agreed without hesitation.

We’ll be eating something but it’s not up to me to decide what it is. Heaven!

What are you having this week?

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8 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. You make the best-est fawn crossing guard! In a related story, I know I’ve done well with my daughter. On her way home from school, she found a turtle bottom’s up in the center median on our street. Someone had hit this nice painted turtle, cracking its shell and the force of that flipped it over. It was still alive, so she brought it home and we quickly enacted Operation Wonder Pets. We drove across the Twin Cities metro during rush hour and got the turtle to the Wildlife Rehab Center before they closed. (Yes, I sang the Wonder Pets song, as one must do on the way to and from the Wildlife Rehab Center). I hope the little dude survives and can be returned to our neighborhood after rehabbing. Save the turtles!

  2. I wonder if you gave Bennett his own age-appropriate camera, and let him do his own photo shoot while you’re working, whether he might leave you and yours alone. Also, I love the photos of Troy and the boys, especially the one where you swapped his and Bennett’s (or is it Jack’s) heads.

    • Oh yes, we have tried this…about 3 million times. ๐Ÿ™‚ Bennett is a cat and does what he wants when he wants and loves to mess with your stuff for the thrill of it!

      Troy did the swapping of heads. He has some sort of app on his phone and he does some incredible photo editing with it.

  3. We have been battling the Rona in our house. Two out of three of us have been down (surprise surprise, it wasn’t the mama). My people have mostly been subsisting on toast and canned soup. Fun fact, it’s really hard to find a canned chicken noodle soup that doesn’t have eggs in it!

    Once everyone is eating more things, we will be in Clean-out-the-fridge/freezer/pantry mode in preparation of our move from CA to VA. Yup, moving time again. And across the entire country this time. Hauling our giant-ass camper. At least I’ll be able to cook. And bring most of my plants ๐Ÿ™‚

    Emma has decided she’d like to try public school next year. I’m both super excited (so much ME time!) and super terrified. She’s anxious about potential violence, but she’s desperate for people- and she knows herself well enough that she won’t make connections unless she’s “forced” to be around people, which enrolling in school will do for her. She’ll be a junior (how the F did that happen so fast!). And we are fully prepared to pull her out if her safety (physical and mental) becomes compromised.

    I’m 100% on board with sending the mom guilt/shame to hell. We’ve lived a pretty eclectic lifestyle, mostly because I stopped giving a shit what other people thought of our parenting style a long time ago, but that mom guilt. That one’s still lurking and often times huge. Oh the things we would do differently if we knew then what we know now!

    • Oh, Tina, I’m sorry it got your family too! I’m so thankful that the strains that are out now are so mild. I hope everyone is on the mend soon.

      Goodness, another move. You must be exhausted. Surely this is coming up close to his retirement time? Or is he going for the full 30 years in?

      I never would have put any money on Emma wanting to go to public school. This is exciting and a big change for everyone. Fingers crossed that it is the perfect fit for all involved.

      • At one point last week I was tempted to just throw a “Covid Party” like they use to do for chicken pox. I just wanted to get it and get it over with. But, I didn’t and so far, I’ve managed to avoid it.

        Unless something crazy happens, this will be our last military move before he retires. We are so excited! And living in the DC area with a teenager will be pretty cool. She is for sure old enough to enjoy all the history that the area has. I can’t wait to check out the Smithsonian!

        It was really hard for her here in CA. Usually she is able to make friends at the barn, but between Covid, and a crappy experience a few summers ago, the barn hasn’t been a thing for her. So she’s been feeling pretty isolated (and doesn’t like any of my suggestions on ways to get out and meet people). So, she’s going to try school. She’s pretty adaptable, so I think after the initial overwhelm, she’ll be good. And if not, homeschooling in Virginia (close to family) won’t be a bad thing.

      • Oh, I remember those chicken pox parties in my youth! Covid parties will probably be happening soon. So thankful that the current strains are mild and that there are vaccines and meds available to help. It seems inconvenient to get it now; it was terrifying 18-24 months ago to think about getting it!

        That’s great that it will be your final move! Fingers crossed all goes well for the move and school starting. I know she’ll do great.