Monday, January 21, 2013

Going nutty

Last week, my husband left for a weeklong business trip. This was not good news. At our house, mom and dad are already outnumbered by three teenagers. Take away the dad and next thing you know, the kids have staged a revolution and mom has been deposed.
Garbage day, dog duty, sibling skirmishes, unclogging toilets — when dad leaves, mom has to do it all, in addition to holding down a day job, doing laundry, checking homework, driving to 4-H meetings and cooking some kind of dinner each night.
Before he left, I made a special trip to the grocery store for provisions. I figured we needed a meal plan while he was gone or we’d be eating plain pasta every night for a week. God help me if we ran out of milk or bread.
The first couple days were pretty good. My meal plan was working. The laundry was under control and no one had run away from home. I even had enough time between dinner and homework patrol to help the girls make their lunches.
Our girls are notoriously picky about sandwiches. Most of the time, they refuse to pack a sandwich for lunch. I think salami tastes better with some bread wrapped around it, but hey, that’s just me.
In an “Aha!” moment, I dug out a sandwich cookie cutter I almost forgot I had. It cuts a circle shape out of the bread while simultaneously crimping down the edges, making a neat little sandwich package.
Using the crimper, I managed to debut a new kind of sandwich using bread and liberal amounts of Nutella. I’m not actually sure what Nutella is made of. I suspect chocolate, sugar, something that starts with “nut,” and even more chocolate and more sugar.
Whatever it is, my girls can’t seem to get enough of Nutella. If it were up to them, they’d smear Nutella on their morning toast, drink Nutella milkshakes for lunch and slather their vegetables in Nutella at dinner. One daughter even took a jar of Nutella with her on vacation. I know enough about Nutella to know that it’s probably not one of the four food groups. I usually hide the container in the back of the pantry. I don’t encourage the Nutella.
The Nutella sandwich was a hit.
When I got home, the girls told me how much they loved the new sandwich.
I made two more when I got home, said one daughter.
Wow, I said. Finally, sandwich success.
And then I looked at the loaf of bread. To my horror, it was almost gone. Between toast for breakfast and the now-famous Nutella sandwiches, three girls had eaten more than half a loaf in two days. We had three days of No-Dad left, and we were almost out of bread.
Don’t panic, I told myself. Think calmly. Breathe. And then I realized all was not lost.
There was a very simple solution to my problem, and she was lounging in front of me on the couch.
Here’s $5, I said to my oldest daughter. Go to the store and get us some bread. And you better get more Nutella while you’re at it.

Monday, January 07, 2013

New year new me?

Well, here we are again with a whole new year ahead of us. From this vantage point, 2013 is looking all bright and shiny and full of Potential with a capital P.
A new year is kind of like that new technology device that you know can do really cool things, but you aren’t quite sure how to turn it on yet. Sort of like the Wii we got at our house two years ago.
If I could just figure out the controls, I know this year could be the best year yet.
A new year is my best shot at a do-over. Didn’t exercise enough in 2012? Ate too many chocolate cookies after 8 p.m.? Spent too much time fretting over college financial planning? Didn’t check homework every single night? All that could change in 2013.
A new year could mean a new me. Or a slightly revised me. Kind of like when you start a new school and you start going by a new name. Maybe I need a new name. Instead of Jennifer, I could transition to “Jenny” or the more snappy “Jen.” See how easy it is?
I could start by cleaning out the upstairs closet and that junk drawer in the kitchen. While I am at it, I could even clean out the downstairs closet — the one that looks like a garage sale waiting to happen. Heck, I could actually have a real garage sale.
I could transition from being an indifferent cook to the kind that actually plans dinners and varies nightly vegetable offerings beyond frozen peas, baby carrots and those pre-made salad packages. Better yet, one of our girls could suddenly express great interest in becoming a chef and take over all of the weekly meal planning and cooking. A mom can dream.
I could organize our family photos. I know some good stuff happened in 2003, but if I don’t put some pictures in an album and slap some stickers on a few pages, our descendants will wonder if the Napa Huffmans fell off the planet that year. Note to descendants: I kind of had my hands full with three kids under the age of 8 that year.
I could pick up a new hobby. A group called CirqueFly Aerial Acrobatics is offering a “kick-butt sculpting and toning workout” class taught by someone named “Cypher Zero.” Hey, I’m a mom of three teenagers. Maybe I could hire Cypher Zero to come kick some butt at my house.
I could write columns way better than this one. I could turn into such an amazing writer that some editor somewhere would start reading my columns and become convinced that I should write a book about how I “surrendered to motherhood” and look where it got me.
I could do a lot of things. That’s what I love best about the new year. The possibilities are endless.