I watched my two month old grandson from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday. That’s 14 hours. In addition to babysitting him, I watched my 5 year-old grandson Wyatt from 8 a.m. Sunday to 7 p.m Monday night (minus his three hour stint at school). Adding to this three-ring circus, was Chris and Courtney’s dog Maggie. She’s a boxer and a good dog, but she’s anxious, energetic and needs to be let in and out, terrorizes the cat Eloise and eats her cat food. There’s this World War II film called The Longest Day. With all due respect to the men and women who served our country in WWII, this last Monday seemed to me like THE LONGEST DAY of my life.
Up at the crack of dawn, instead of marching I was walking the floor constantly with my small bundle of joy. Instead of jumping jacks, I bounced him, patted his diapers and rocked him to get him to sleep. It was a regimented routine of: wake up, play, eat, burp, eat some more, burp some more and sleep. Over and over again. Instead of ducking bullets from the enemy, I was spit up on, drooled on, pooped and peed on.
I drilled him on his black and white flashcards, read a couple baby books and sang him songs in an attempt to entertain the troops. No Marine Corp Hymn for Liam (the only song my Dad knew how to sing). “Five Little Ducks went out to play” and “Five Little Speckled Frogs sitting on a speckled log” seem to be favorites, with Baby Shark coming in a distant third. A swing and a glider came in handy to relieve the constant holding of my small charge. I forgot how hard it is to do everything one-handed!
I even gave him a bath, which I think deserves an award for bravery- a blue washcloth instead of a purple heart? Liam is a happy baby and was a pleasant most of the day until about five, when he got extremely cranky, fussy and nothing made him happy. It felt like some kind of torture, but instead of a Prisoner of War, I was a Prisoner of Love. I desperately needed reinforcements. Wyatt left around 7, right after Liam finally went to sleep, so all was quiet on the Western Front. I prayed it might be an early bedtime (he usually goes to bed at 8), but no such luck.
There’s no way in hell I’m making dinner tonight.I told Zeke, when he came home.
So he ordered two sushi rolls from Moon Thai and picked them up for dinner. Just as we were about to sit down to eat our Sloppy J and Sexy Lover roll, guess who woke up? Zeke said “You eat,” and held Liam and I then returned the favor. This reminded me of what my life used to be like with young kids, eating in shifts, gobbling down food as fast as possible and never having a minute to yourself. I don’t miss those days.
The Sloppy J roll had shrimp tempura and avocado inside, topped with tuna, salmon and yellowtail slices on the outside. The Sexy Lover roll has spicy tuna and cucumber topped with spicy tuna, sliced jalapenos, wasabi mayo and cilantro. Both were very good, although sloppily sliced. With dirty hair, spit-up all over my clothes and tight shoulders from holding the baby all day, I felt as far from a Sexy Lover as possible.
Being with the baby all day made me think I need to be doing more yoga, to get myself flexible, relaxed and able to handle these marathon babysitting sessions. Courtney is working 12 hour shifts in Labor and Delivery as a nurse at Mount Sinai and I will be one of the regular sitters each week. It also made me think I need to start eating healthier- more fruits, vegetables and whole grains- in order to stay in ship-shape for all these grandsons!
I had Emma and Guillermo over for pasta Sunday night with Wyatt. As we ate springs with my Grandmother’s pasta sauce, Zeke called me a hoarder. This is the thanks I get for making homemade Sunday gravy, with meatballs, sausage, salad, peas and bread! I was surprised to hear Courtney agree (Emma wisely stayed silent on the matter), saying she’d found something in the freezer she couldn’t imagine what I would be saving it for.
Could it be my frozen celery leaves, parsley stems or onion skins she was referring to? Or perhaps the chicken skin in a plastic bag, mushroom stems or parmesan cheese rinds? Doesn’t she know that eliminating food waste (a big problem in our country?) is all the rage these days? I’ve been ahead of the curve on that one for decades. My mom says I act like someone who was raised in the Great Depression and it’s true; I just can’t bear to throw anything away.
So I took my onions skins, mushroom stems, celery leaves and parsley stems and made a vegetable broth with them. I filled the pot with purified water, added my scraps and a couple bay leaves, brought it to a boil and simmered it for a couple hours. I find vegetable broth in the grocery store has an odd flavor. This broth unfortunately lacked flavor as well, so I added some salt and mushroom seasoning to punch it up. Perhaps a cube of vegetable bouillon would have helped as well. I used this broth as a base for a Minestrone Soup I made the next day.
I used a recipe from Cookie and Kate, which has wonderful vegetarian recipes. This soup is totally vegan, except for the Parmesan cheese on top. I also added Parmesan rinds to the pot, to give it a depth of umami flavor. You know the really hard part covering Parmesan cheese? I cut them off and save them to use in soups and pasta sauces. The only thing I haven’t made use of is the chicken skin, but just give me time.
In other news, Mr. Potato Head is no longer going to be a Mr., but now will just be Potato Head, in order to be gender-inclusive. Potato Head will come with various parts- eyelashes, mustache, purse and pipe- that can go either way (or both ways). Good news! After staying on the phone with American Express for hours last week, I finally scored tickets to a Resy event in Wynwood later this month for a drive-through dining experience. Ten Miami chefs, including Michelle Bernstein and Michael Schwartz, are serving a ten-course meal to diners in their cars. It’s March 18th and I can’t wait!
Zeke and I went down to our condo in the Keys Friday to check on a boat cover I’d gotten him as a Christmas present. Luckily my brother-in-law trailered the boat back from the boat dealership, so we didn’t have to deal with that nightmare again, but when Zeke checked the boat last week in the boat yard, he couldn’t find the boat cover. I wasn’t too concerned, as I know how Zeke looks for things, but we decided we better go down to make sure it was there and put it on the boat.
When Zeke looked again, “Surprise, surprise!” (as Gomer Pyle liked to say)- there was the boat cover, in the head, just as Unique Marine had informed us. Zeke removed it from its bag and it was like a giant black amoeba sprawling out inside our boat, with no rhyme or reason as to how it was to go. There were no instructions, but we finally got it figured out, positioned it in place and we went to get a drink, before heading home.
Getting a margarita at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon was probably not the best idea in the world. But we were in the Keys, celebrating our victory over the boat cover, enjoying the day and missing our little slice of Paradise. The Big Chill serves a margarita I actually like, not easy to find in the Keys. Their Perfect Margarita is made with tequila (Jose Cuervo), lime juice and orange liqueur, exactly as it should be made; for some reason, the salt around the rim tastes better than regular salt. It went down quite easily, as we listened to some island tunes and looked out at the glittering bay. Getting the second margarita was probably not advised, but I did it anyway.
Needless to say, when we got home, I didn’t feel up to going out so we just grilled some sausages outside by the pool to make sandwiches and listened to Margaritaville on Pandora. Which is what we will continue doing as we count the remaining days of March, waiting to get our condo back in April. Until then, I have a little Drill Sergeant living upstairs who demands my time and attention.
So bring me two pina coladas, I want one for each hand, Let’s set sail with Captain Morgan and we’ll never leave dry land, Hey troubles, I forgot them. I buried them in the sand, So bring me two pina coladas, she said goodbye to her good timin’ man.Garth Brooks
Up Next: Minestrone Soup