Fried Banana Splits, A Trip to San Antonio, and The Weekend of Andy (or not)

I’ve been doing some contract work for my friend (and former boss) that has taken up most of my free time. It’s boring, repetitive work that can’t have any errors which is the worst combination of things. But I’m going to be able to replace the horrifying carpet in our house with my earnings so it’s worth it. The few scraps of childless time left after that has been poured into finishing my witch and vampire book. Which I did last night. Now I’m waiting for my hold on the second book in the series to come in from the library. I have spent no time menu planning, and little time cooking. I’ve been wandering the grocery store with the kids every few days, grabbing things to make whatever meals I can remember the ingredients for without a cookbook. That means we’ve eaten a lot of quesadillas and sandwiches for dinner and it also means that I’m writing my blog post half a week late. We also spent two days last week thrilling at all the marvelous things San Antonio has to offer, namely the world’s greatest baseball mascots and rickety century-old miniature amusement parks. Along the way there are stories about moles (the skin kind, not the animal kind), children who have to go to the bathroom the instant your food is delivered at a restaurant, and children who have to pee when you’re stuck in rush hour freeway traffic. Basically, this week is gross, and I’m warning you now. Also I spent eight hours of my life in an enneagram workshop and spent almost a thousand words of this blog trying to work out what it was all for, so you might not like that. These are the reasons for you to not read this blog. In hindsight I shouldn’t have started the post this way. Here’s what we ate this week.

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Molletes, Mexican Street Corn Salad. When I find myself at HEB right before dinner with no menu plan, the 20 cent bolillos sing their siren song and I make molletes. I’m forever indebted to my friend Amanda for introducing me to the notion of toasted bread covered in refried beans, cheese, and chorizo.

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Coconut Curry Chicken. I woke up feeling like I had food poisoning, but no one else did so who knows what was going on. I had a dermatologist appointment in the afternoon, made three years after my midwife suggested that I have my numerous moles looked at. I know you want to read about my mole-riddled body in a paragraph under a picture of chicken curry, so you’re welcome. Anyway, the nurse asked me if I had a fever or any sort of health issues I wanted to disclose and my brain thought, this is where you should mention that you have some sort of food poisoning thing going on, but then I didn’t because I didn’t want to talk about it and because it wasn’t a fever. The doctor said my moles looked fine but I had one freckle that was darker than all the other freckles and she wanted to do a biopsy on it, and did that in about 90 seconds from shot to band-aid. It turned out, after I removed the band-aid, that she actually cut off the whole thing, plus a little divot of the flesh underneath it. I got the results yesterday, that it’s ‘atypical’ but they didn’t say cancer but they did say I have to go back in six months to see if any of the pigment is coming back. Anyway, this is boring. I’m happy I went after three years plus a lifetime of not going. This curry was not good, by the way, so don’t worry that all my mole talk has put you off wanting to make a good chicken curry. I sort of made it up and way overcooked the chicken and that was our day.

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Tortellini Pesto Pasta Salad. Wednesday. I don’t know what happened on this day, other than making this pasta salad and a vague memory of a trip to Target. I wrote this post from the bottom up and I’m at 2997 words already so let’s just move on.

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The Spy Room at the DoSeum. We took a little road trip to San Antonio! The kids and I went with my sister-in-law Joanna and her kids and had two days of pure fun. And we got to stay with her parents-in-law in the kids’ first ever sleepover-sort-of-thing. The impetus for the trip was my desire to take the kids to a baseball game, and Joanna’s desire that that ball game be one of the San Antonio Missions’. I think her allegiance to them is based largely on their mascots, and no one could fault her for that because they fucking nailed it. The team has two (though they’re never seen at the same place at once, Joanna informed me!)- Henry the Puffy Taco(!!) and Ballapeño.  More on this later. We started our trip with a visit to DoSeum, which was blissfully empty owing to it being the second week of school for kids in San Antonio, and which was packed with the most wonderful exhibits. Joanna captured this image of the kids in front of the safe we unlocked in the spy room after following a series of clues and breaking a few secret codes. It was like a mini escape room for children and we all loved it so much.

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More DoSeum. We made movies in an animation studio, wandered through a bamboo maze, climbed to the top of a beautiful fairy-like tree house, played with scarves in a wind tunnel, and built cities in the geography room. It is such a neat place. Also, it made me really want to make a bamboo maze in our backyard.

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Fancy Cookies and Crusty Hummus at the DoSeum. I was desperate for a snack, so we bought everything they had at the cafe. Joanna surprised us with a beautiful box of gorgeous macarons. I got a salted caramel one and it was everything good in the world. The hummus was kind of weird and the nectarines in this fruit cup tasted odd, but I couldn’t pinpoint why. This fruit cup makes a surprise reappearance in a few paragraphs, so get excited for that.

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Hot Dogs and Fish Tacos at The Cove. Then we went to this laundromat/car wash/local/organic eatery for dinner. Henry’s food likes have narrowed significantly lately, and I didn’t know what I could get him for dinner. The kids menu was hot dogs and hamburgers with french fries. He doesn’t like cheese, he said he didn’t want a burger, he doesn’t like hot dogs, and he won’t eat potatoes in any form. He claims to like shrimp though, and I saw they had shrimp tacos, so I got him one. He devoured it, first the shrimp, then the tortilla, and said he wished he had a hundred more of them. I went back and bought him another one and he loved that one too, and talked about how incredible it was for the rest of the trip. I loved my fish tacos too, and George loved his hot dog. Also, this place has a big playground in the middle so the kids can play while you ignore them and eat more tacos. Highly recommended.

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Ballapeño, y’all. Joanna made it her personal mission to introduce the children to the man (or woman) himself (or herself). Clara and Henry both wanted to stay and watch the game. Really they wanted to watch the numbers on the scoreboard change and note when the At Bat, Ball, Strike, and Out numbers were the same. So I sat with them and Joanna took George and Lucy to explore the HEB fun zone, where she caught a glimpse of Ballapeño and chased him down for a picture. The kids made it through the sixth inning, and then they were losing their minds and climbing everywhere and screaming loudly (of course I’m referring to Henry and George- Lucy and Clara sat serenely in their places) and we decided to leave. Just before we stood up, we were blessed with an appearance from Henry the Puffy Taco. He was everything I’d hoped he’d be and more. It looked like the Missions were gonna lose their game against the Frisco Rough Riders, but I never looked it up afterward to check. Even so, it was really fun.

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A Taco Nazo from Taco House. Joanna’s mother and father in law are so cool. Their house is spectacular- the rooms are beautifully curated collections of vintage furniture and lovely and random objects collected over the years. I’m so happy my kids didn’t destroy them. We spent the morning walking through Jamie’s lush backyard garden, admiring the citrus trees and huge flowering ginger plants, and ate a pile of tacos from the place around the corner. John informed me that when you’re really doing something up big, like eating 40 tacos for breakfast, you put the word “nazo” after it. So this would be a taco nazo. I’m not sure I’ve gotten this quite right, and urban dictionary/the internet in general was no help, so please John, let me know if I’ve messed this up! These tacos were perfect. Homemade, griddled tortillas packed with good stuff, sold quickly and cheaply and without that whiff of hipster stank. You know I love Austin’s breakfast tacos, even the ones on cold mass-produced tortillas, but San Antonio wins, and it looks effortless doing it. Thank you for your hospitality and your tacos, John and Jamie!

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Cuban Sandwich from Bakery Lorraine. On the drive down to San Antonio, we stopped at Whole Foods to buy a thank you gift for Joanna’s parents-in-law for letting us stay in their house, and to eat lunch. We got through the line, I opened up everyone’s sushi trays, tore open the little soy sauce packets and squirted them into each tray, and took my first bite when George announced, as he does at the start of nearly every meal he is served, that he had to go to the bathroom. I looked down at the table, at all the open sushi trays, the bottles of vino verde and beer and gift wrap, and said that that would be impossible and he’d have to wait. George burst into tears and said he couldn’t. So I, angrily, I’m ashamed to say, grabbed his hand, told Henry he had to come with us, and pulled them both across the store to the bathroom, complaining the whole time about having to leave the sushi, that someone was probably going to throw it all away before we got back to it. The kids both peed (Henry said, “since we’re here…”) and we went back and the sushi was just as we’d left it and I felt like a horrible asshole for giving George a hard time about having to pee when he can’t help it. Well the same exact thing happened at Bakery Lorraine the next day. Our food came out and George announced he had to go to the bathroom, and it couldn’t wait. I got to practice being nicer about it, but I was still super annoyed. I told an employee that we had to go to the bathroom but that we would be back to eat our food but he didn’t do anything with this information because we got back to our table just as a lady was starting to clean up our (untouched!) plates of food. It’s hard to eat out with kids. I must remember to bring George to the bathroom before we order food next time.

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Hey kids! How do you feel about Kiddie Park?

They loved it, I think. They just didn’t care about posing for a picture. Or Henry didn’t. He really brings the energy down here, doesn’t he? I went to this place with my friend Amanda and her family when we were little kids, and it felt exactly the same. Turns out it is exactly the same, more or less, and has been since 1925. It’s America’s oldest children’s amusement park! That’s a fun fact for you. All the rides are tiny, like the little ferris wheel that’s probably around 15 feet tall, and the planes behind the boys in this picture, many of which have fake machine guns attached to them, and there’s a stand that sells every food a kid has ever dreamed of, from snow cones to funnel cakes to something called Hot Cheesy Cheetos, which I imagined to be a bag of Cheetos that had been torn open and sprayed with a squirt of warm nacho cheese.

Both kids fell asleep on the ride home from our big San Antonio adventure and I got to sing Hamilton loudly. Henry woke up as I pulled to a stop in a patch of non-moving I35 traffic and announced that he had to pee and couldn’t hold it. I couldn’t move the car to pull over to the shoulder, because all the cars were stopped, so I found the day-old fruit cup in my purse, leftover from our snack time at the DoSeum, and Henry peed on the grapes in it. Road trip!

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Bean and Cheese Quesadillas. I spent eight hours of my weekend in the basement of a Baptist Church. This is not the beginning of an abduction/forced conversion story. I was there to listen to Suzanne Stabile speak about the enneagram and boundaries. Calling it “the enneagram” makes it sound like a weird scientology-ish cult. It’s not though. That’s exactly what someone in an enneagram cult would say. I brought a whole cooler full of snacks, both because I like to eat and because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to sit in a folding chair under florescent lights and listen to someone talk for eight hours without them. I was initially unsure about attending this workshop- I thought, if I get eight hours to do whatever I want, and $70 to spend too, is an enneagram lecture really what I’d choose? Helen talked me into it, very rightly explaining that it doesn’t have to be this OR that- I can do this and do something else if I want to. Also, I decided that learning how to be a better person is probably a sound investment. In the end, I’m glad I went, but I’m still trying to work through how the information I heard can be applied to my life. Stabile is an incredible woman, a great speaker, and has a lot of cool information to share. When a lady asked her how to parent a kid who’s a 5 on the enneagram (NB: Andy’s a 5- they’re the most cerebral number on the enneagram, deep thinkers, and usually quiet and private), Stabile recommended that the lady read Far from the Tree, a book that explores the idea of accepting your children as they are and added that “it is unjust and unloving to ask someone to give you something they don’t have.” She said that parents of 4s and 5s do this a lot. I inferred that that means a lot of 4s have parents who don’t encourage them to express their feelings, and that parents of 5s do the opposite- force them to share things and talk when they’d rather work things out on their own. Anyway, I thought Stabile gave a really cool answer, and she made me want to read that book. But there was a lot of stuff that I didn’t know what to do with it. Eights, like me, are too controlling, so what I’m supposed to do (you ready for the big reveal?) is be *less* controlling. Uhhh, yeah. I don’t know how to do that. Also, I kind of don’t want to. In enneagram, they say that the worst part of you is also the best part of you. You’ve got to learn to use your gifts judiciously, in ways that build those around you up. So it’s good that I can assess a situation and say what should be done first and in what manner, but I can’t do this all the time, or use my aggressiveness to railroad other people. I definitely do this, most notably on weekends, when Andy is home and I have a clear agenda in my head of how the next 48 hours are going to go. The things on my list are for the house and family- food that needs to be purchased, home improvement projects that need to be done- and it’s easy to feel like I’m the only one making these things happen, and so I have to take charge. But I forget that my way isn’t the only way. Andy doesn’t care about the lawn, or about building some shelves, or about the rotating and varied dinners I research, shop for, and prepare (this week’s sandwiches and quesadillas notwithstanding). If it was up to him we’d still have the same IKEA furniture we bought when we moved back to Texas, we’d eat grilled cheese sandwiches and hot dogs for dinner, and we’d have a lot more money and a lot more time to spend on things he does care about. I feel like my way is a lot better. But Andy probably feels the same about his way and never gets to try it? I’ll ask him. Maybe we’ll make Labor Day weekend The Weekend of Andy and do things his way and see what that’s like.

Anyway, I was tired after the enneagram workshop and threw some tortillas and beans into a skillet and called it dinner.

UPDATE: I just filled Andy in on my plans to not make plans for the weekend and he said he didn’t want to be in charge of meals, and I was like, um, that’s a big part of how we spend our time so maybe think about it for a minute, and he said, okay, I will do as you say and think about it. I feel we’re off to a good start!

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A Ham Sandwich. I have nothing to say about it. What I’m feeling right now is that I wish I had the next book in the witchy vampire chronicles. Oh, but I do have something to say about chips. Central Market has a whole aisle of potato chip-like things and they’re ALL kettle chips! What is this? I hate those super thick euler discs of potato that don’t crunch properly and cut the roof of your mouth. I want a thin, ethereal, super salty sliver of potato. Before I got to the store, I organized my thoughts on the subject and decided I would examine every bag of chips offered at Central Market in search of one that might meet this criteria. I did it, and I found Utz potato chips on the top shelf of the far left side of the aisle and they were everything I was hoping for.  News you can use. If you also shop at Central Market and also do not like kettle chips.

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Roast Chicken, Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Sesame. Henry mentioned that he missed cooking from his cookbook- a project we began at the end of April and abandoned somewhere around late May- so I said he should look through his cookbook and we’d buy the stuff to make whatever he wanted to cook from it. He surprised the hell out of me by picking a quinoa and edamame salad. I said I’d roast a chicken to go with it, but that he didn’t have to eat it. Having his bird friends in the backyard has turned him off the stuff. Anyway, he made it, and ate big heaping servings of the stuff- it was delicious!- and then made us the delightful dessert below too.

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Fried Banana Split. A lot of the bananas  broke when Henry cut them in half and pulled the peels off, but a couple stayed intact. We fried the banana halves in butter and I asked him who would get the best (least broken) ones- he said he would get those, of course, and then Papa would have the next best and then I could have the other bits. George had decided that he only wanted ice cream, so he didn’t figure into this ranking system. None of this came as a surprise to me, though, because earlier in the day, after laughing at something George said, Henry told me George was his favorite person in the family, and then Papa, and then me. I said that it’s totally fine that he feels that way, but maybe he didn’t need to tell me that I was his least favorite member of the family, and he sat for a bit, looking pensive and said, “I don’t know what to say. Should I say that Adelaide is my least favorite (our dog)? Or that you’re tied with Papa?” I’m not too worried about it. I’ll be back in my rightful place at the top again sooner or later.

Happy Weekend of Andy, friends! I hope you have a relaxing one, full of hot dogs and free of yard maintenance.

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One thought on “Fried Banana Splits, A Trip to San Antonio, and The Weekend of Andy (or not)

  1. Elaine September 2, 2016 / 3:46 pm

    The only hard part about family meal in cooking school was prepping all this yummy stuff and not being able to touch it until everyone who hadn’t cooked it went through the buffet line. And watching them make the best stuff sometimes run out before our turn came.

    If Henry is allowed to have favorites then so are you. Maybe you do already? Maybe he is like my cats and he picked as his favorites the people least likely to give a shit about favorites?

    Funny that a 5 would rather be free to be as happy or unhappy as he wants instead of having someone force him to be happier. I will try to remember that!

    A 6 would have had the peeing before we order food down by the second occurrence. Control is like a game for us, especially when it comes to our personal convenience. I would have been so pissed at myself by the third occurrence for not getting the pattern recognized and dealt with.

    My ex husband was an 8. I slid into letting him make the decisions about everything he cared about, because I hated the thought of a fight with him. He seemed to understand everything better than I did. A big part of my life after he left was making things uncomplicated down to my own comfort level. Yes the sound from the TV and radio was so much better with his speaker setup, but I can turn on the TV and get sight and sound from it with one button and it’s OK. I hardly remember the way thee good sound was. But his way was OK too, while he was there to figure out how to do stuff.

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