Saturday Morning THANKSGIVING Meal Planning

Generally this time of year, we would be packing up to travel right now.  We would be saddling up the old minivan and heading to wherever we’re going for the holiday, and then I would work remotely pretty much every day except Thursday (and even then a little, some years, because law firm).   Oh happy day, this year we are hosting!  So no traveling for us!  This also means I get to be in charge of the menu.  I love holiday cooking!  I will stick to my “couple of fancy things, a couple of easy things, and a couple of out-sourced things” rule for holiday cooking.  Luckily, the typical Thanksgiving meal is actually mostly simple things – roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing couldn’t be simpler!

Meanwhile, there are also 5 dinners between now and Thanksgiving Thursday, so I have to meal plan for those as well.  Here we go . . .  And before I go too far, I want to make sure you all are aware of two of the best leftover-turkey recipes ever: chicken (turkey) and fall vegetable pot pie; and white chicken (turkey) enchiladas.  My shopping list shall include the ingredients to make these on the post-Thanksgiving Friday and Saturday, as well as stuff to make pancakes and eggs for breakfast, and turkey sandwiches (with mayo, pickles, and salt and pepper) for lunches.  Mmmmmmm.

Best Stuffed Peppers.  The husband loves stuffed peppers, and I bought all the stuff to make these completely forgetting that he would be gone for about 11 days.  I could freeze the meat but the peppers won’t last that long, so alas, I shall make the so-called “best” stuffed peppers, and the boys will complain about them, and the person for whom I made them won’t even get to try it, because I am a harebrained weirdo.

Blue Apron Thai Chicken Meatball Curry.  Ditto with the forgetting of the husband thing – I wouldn’t normally get a Blue Apron order w/o him in town since the children are not always enthusiastic consumers of the fancier food.  But it came in the mail, and eat it we must – it’s kale and coconut curry and chicken meatballs, so nothing too offensive and hopefully they eat it.

Ravioli with pesto and asparagus.  I bought ravioli, will toss it with chopped cooked asparagus and some pesto.  They’ll like this at least.

Fish Sticks and Tater Tots and peas.  Zero points for health (well, maybe half a point for the peas), double points for ease and “cleaning old tater tots out of the freezer.”

Potato, green bean, and cheddar quiche.  We had delicious potatoes and green beans as a side earlier this past week, so I will chop up the leftovers and put them in a quiche.


Morning – BLTs, mini-cinnamon rolls, and bloodies/mimosas/poinsettias.

Dinnertime –

The bird – I’ll try a dry brine.  Not entirely convinced brining is worth it, but we’ll give it a try.  I’ll probably buy jarred gravy, to be honest.   It will, of course, be stuffed with Sausage and Herb Stuffing.

Cranberry sauce.  I’ll also get a can of the stuff because unaccountably, my sister loves it.

Angel biscuits.  The picture of these shows them all buttery and amazing.

Slow cooker mashed potatoes.  To simplify the range/oven situation, we’ll utilize the slow-cooker for these.

Fennel-apple slaw.  I may be the only one that likes this, so I won’t make much, but it sounds delish.

Fresh steamed green beans.  I don’t hate green bean casserole, but since we have so many heavy saucy things, I think a lighter green bean is called for.

Sweet potato and sage butter casserole.  The typical marshmallow thing is too sweet.  This sounds much more subtle but yum.

Desserts shall be out-sourced, or perhaps I will ask my sister to make a pie or two.

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It’s a bleak time of year, it’s a bleak news cycle, and I need a little sunshine.

My newest niece is a ray of sunshine, of course – I cannot wait to meet her.  Boy do I love seeing pictures and videos of her hiccups and sneezes and gas-induced smiles, though.

My kids make me laugh (when they’re not making me cry).  Liam, upon my request/command, hopped up to refill the spare-tp drawer by the guest room commode.  “Uh, Mom?  We got a situation here,” he said to me, and I came into the bathroom to investigate the ‘situation.’  “The toi-wet paper got wonger” he lisped, and pointed to the drawer, which would not close because he had filled it with paper towel rolls.

Craig, in a fit of pique yesterday because I would not let him abandon his dinner bowl and eat off of Liam’s plate (grass is always greener when you’re 1), launched himself off the dining room table, picked up the heavy ceramic dog’s bowl full to the brim of water, and hurled it across the room.  It’s like we live with the Incredible Hulk – miniature version.  He then contentedly mopped up water and scrubbed the floor with a towel for about ten minutes.  He loves to scrub things.  In a happier moment the day before, he opened the under-sink cabinet doors and pulled out a pack of sponges, then put one in each hand and got on the floor scrubbing, Annie-style.

I had a nice lunch with a friend yesterday.  We swapped mom stories and lawyer stories and it was all very pleasant and grown up and fun.  I ate crawfish enchiladas and drank sweet tea and didn’t have to wipe a nose or grab an errant fork before it flew across the room.

We have dressed up and slimmed down the house, top to bottom.  Every closet cleaned out and organized, every drawer.  The children still litter toys everywhere, but they are easy to tidy up now that we have room for them.  I’ve rearranged some furniture, including putting a little reading nook in the master.  It’s nicer.  I feel somewhat in control when I organize things, though I try not to let the need to organize things control me (if that makes sense).

Only a couple more weeks til the semester is over and I get a break from being a ‘single mom’ during the workweek.  Hallelujah.

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I’ll admit that it was naive of me to not anticipate the response of southern governors to the Paris attacks, but it caught me by surprise.



There but for the grace of God goes my baby Craig.  (Photos most obviously not mine – google image searched.)  “I want to bury my children and sit beside them until I die,” said his broken father.

Robert Bentley does not speak for me.  I accept the vulnerability and fear that comes from allowing strange people with a strange language and strange customs into our country (after  a year or more of careful background investigation and vetting, which is what they go through).  I am willing to be stretched and uncomfortable, even a little fearful, to give them room in my community.  The cost of the Syrian war has been so high for civilians.  I see myself in them – I see my sons in them.  The highest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.  These beautiful neighbors I am called to love are dying, and how I wish my whole country opened its big, rich arms wide and said ‘Suffer the little children to come to me.’

Bring them here, to my home and heart.  I can make room.  I want to make room, with all the complications and cost and (surely) community rejection that would bring.  Robert Bentley does not speak for me.

A refugee, holding his son and daughter, cries tears of joy after their boat arrived on the Greek island of Kos on Saturday, August 15. The island in the Aegean Sea has been overwhelmed by Syrian refugees. More than 744,000 refugees and migrants have escaped to Europe this year, the U.N. refugee agency said. Click through to see images from the migration crisis in Europe.



Posted in Alabama, Sometimes I Get Hepped Up and Think I Know a Thing or Two | 3 Comments

Love is a Battlefield

I am hosting turkey day this year – yay!  We have a significant portion of my side of the family coming – two sibs plus my parents.  We’ve tried to move Craig into the big boys’ room in advance of their visit, in order to make room for visitors.  It is . . . not going well.  Both of his big brothers were in big boy beds at this age – Jack because he was about to get a new baby brother who was going to need the crib; and Liam because he started climbing out of the crib and falling headfirst over the side, taking out lamps and desks and his own brain in the process.  A crib mattress on the floor seemed safer for Liam, even though it meant he was free to wander the house and climb on things while we slept.

Craig is also a little climber, and he can get out of a Pack and Play crib with ease, but he’s never yet attempted to escape the real, full-sized crib.  Nevertheless, he’s nearing age two which is the age of the Big Boy Bed in our parenting experience so far, and we thought he’d enjoy being in a big old bunk room with his brothers.  So we put the big crib away and got him ready for Operation Big Boy Bed.  We created a little nest in the bottom bunk in the boys’ room, with bed rails all around so it’s hard to fall/climb out.  There are only a few inches to spare between the top of the mesh bedrail and the bottom of the top bunk.  It is enough room to squeeze the little porker through for bedtime, but we assumed would be narrow enough to serve as a discouragement to his climbing back out.  We were incorrect in that assumption.  We underestimated his resolve. He flops on his belly, sticks his feet over the side, and then backs himself over til he’s a little roly poly pill bug hung up on the rail, bisected at the midsection, with two fat little legs kicking angrily while he squawks, red-faced.  “Out!  Out! Out!  No!  No!”  After much labored maneuvering, he eventually gets the bulk of his weight see-sawed from the front end of his body to the back end and uses gravity to help him wiggle through the gap, dropping heavily to the trundle bed below. He then squeals delightedly, lumbers across the room and dives headfirst in the boys’ toy chest to play. It really is quite annoying.  He is very determined – I have seen him spend about ten minutes in this process start to finish, but he never waivers in his resolve to get to that toy chest.

I have popped myself through the gap to lay with him in the bottom bunk to read books and get him to go to sleep, but he just beats me mercilessly with his flailing toddler head, wailing in dismay to get OUT! OUT!  and kicking me in the face as he tries to flee. Unfortunately I guess the boys’ bedroom has also been their play room, where we banish all three to go play some weekends so we can have a few precious seconds of quiet, and so now in Craig’s mind it is not a place for sleep or rest, but rather a place for THROWING DOWN!

We’re still working with this situation, somewhat bummed about having lost the absolute easiest baby in the world to put to bed.  Used to be you read him a book, plopped him in bed, blew kisses, quacked like his stuffed Donald Duck (‘what does a duck say?’ ‘quack quack!’), said I love you (‘Lub yew’), and left.  No tears, no fuss, no nothing – he’d fall asleep in seconds.  Now bedtime is a battle field.  The big boys try to be helpful, but what can any of us do in the face of such determination?  I tried to move his Pack and Play in the room temporarily to teach him it is a place for sleeping (a two-step deal – he’d later move from Pack and Play to bed).  He just heaves a dimpled chubby foot over the side of the Pack and Play and hoists himself out.   We could re-build the crib in there I guess, but ugh what a lot of work that would be for a very short term solution, and what if he just climbs out of that?

I have that parental amnesia where I have no earthly idea how we managed this transition with the other two boys.  This is my third go-round – I should be better at this by now.

I am 35 years and about 145 pounds ahead of this kid.  I should be winning more than I’m winning here.  I’ll let you know when I vanquish my foe.  In the meantime, wish me luck.

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Master of None

Aziz Ansari’s new show – the first season of Master of None came out all at once on Netflix recently – is great.  I highly recommend it.  It’s all about a diverse group of young friends in New York City – he is an actor, his girlfriend has some kind of job in the music business.  He treats some complex and tender issues with a really light touch – things like ageism and old folks’ loneliness . . . race and diversity . . . sexism . . . marriage and children and how we never really know what’s going on inside someone else’s lives . . . immigration and parental love and relationships with adult children.  These are heavy topics, but they’re treated gently.  There are no bang-you-over-the-head messages – he shows rather than tells.  He has a goofy kind of comedy (to be honest, although I loved him in Parks and Rec and in this show, I’ve never really enjoyed his stand up routines).   His goofiness and levity suits this setting.  He and the actress who plays his girlfriend are luminous – they have a great chemistry.  His goofy band of friends are perfect as well.  It feels really developed – some shows require at least an episode or two for the main characters to get into their groove, but these folks all seem fully formed.  He cast his writers in a lot of the roles – a nice touch.  Their acting isn’t super polished, but I don’t mind – they are clearly clever, and endearing.  Anyway, I recommend it.  Give it a watch if you have Netflix.

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