Baby Oliver! Plus Ball Sagas and Tooth Horror Stories and Some Really Good Soup

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Look, you guys. Look at this big beautiful baby that my sister grew in her very own body. His name is Oliver, he is two weeks old, and I want to insert my whole face into his neck fat. That neck fat goes around to the back too, he’s got a little neck fat roll back there! Oliver, or Ollie, as his older and wiser sister Phinnie insists he be called, is a darling baby. He loves to be held and he dislikes farting. I’m so happy to get to live vicariously through my sister and hold this gorgeous baby from time to time but not have to do the staying up all night while simultaneously recovering from the messy process of getting the kid out of your body in the first place. Call your mom and thank her, cuz this shit is the worst. (Thank you, mom!) But worth it! Cuz, babies.

Oliver was born on a Tuesday, which, according to a rhyme that my mom knows, means that he is “full of grace.” This seems right. He is a kind and gentle spirit, I think. Relatedly, George was born on a Wednesday which means he is “full of woe” so I think there’s really something to this poem because he’s perpetually hurting himself in mind-boggling ways. Welcome to the world, and to the family, baby Oliver! We are so glad you’re here and we’re all excited to learn and grow with you.

Ollie is clearly the big news around here, but here’s some other stuff. I’ve been off Facebook for a month. I still hop on and dick around in there for no reason sometimes, when I’m looking for ways to procrastinate doing a task I don’t want to do, but there isn’t much to see and I hop off again pretty quickly. But it does still feel like I’m in the process of learning to live a life where I’m not constantly on my phone. I’m not there yet. Almost every night, after I read to the kids, I go for a long walk. I take my dear old dog, Adelaide, out with me for the first little jaunt of it, but she gets really tired really fast, trailing slowly behind me at the end of the leash, pretending to stop and smell the ground every four feet or so. So I just walk with her for about twenty minutes, then drop her off at home and continue on for another 40 minutes or so. I love walking at night and listening to podcasts (my favorites are Pod Save America and Pop Culture Happy Hour) and looking at all the houses in my neighborhood. I do not like men who insinuate themselves into this process. Every time I have strayed from my neighborhood on these walks, into the nearby strip mall, or onto Stassney or South First for a block to get to another part of the neighborhood, some stupid guy has bothered me. With cat calls or honking at me or, in one case, actually stopping his stupid mustang in the middle of the road to yell, ‘need a ride?’. No, fucker. I need you all to leave me alone so I can listen to my podcast. (Shitty) people say all the time that women who dress a certain way are asking for or inviting this behavior. But honestly, I am barely recognizable as female on these walks. It’s dark. My hair is up. I’m wearing a t-shirt and jeans. And they still bother me. Probably the same people who comment on women’s wardrobe choices will also say that a woman shouldn’t walk around alone at night, because that’s inviting this behavior too. That’s just not fair. I’m going to keep walking at night, but I’m mostly going to try to avoid the big busy streets near me. I shouldn’t have to do that though, and I wanted to go on record here to say that.

Other things. I turned 34 and I made some scones and a beastly loaf of bread and the best soup in the world to celebrate. I’ve spent a lot of time with my sister and brother-in-law Jordan and Phinnie and my mom. I’ve cooked. I’ve been in too many Walmarts. And I’ve coerced Andy into wearing a unicorn wig and joining me at a real-live party for grown up humans. Here we go.

Mrs-MFing-Larkin’s Blueberry Scones! These scones were one of the best things I ate in the past year and were a no-brainer birthday breakfast. They are glorious.

Sushi at Kome. With my mom and George! Isn’t my mom adorable? George too. (Andy and Henry were at Henry’s weekly math class). My mom and I split one hundred pieces of sushi and George got this fantastic $6 kids meal that had so many delicious things, including 2 pieces of fried chicken and 2 sweet and sour meatballs and a potato croquette. He only ate the rice and drank the tiny yogurt drink though, so I brought everything else home and ate it for lunch at Yawp the next day.

Obscene-looking but delicious and easy Milk Bread. I don’t know what the hell happened here- the recipe said it made two loaves of bread, so I put half the dough in a loaf pan and formed the other half into rolls. The loaf pan half exploded out of the pan into the grotesque form you see before you, but every bit of it was light and fluffy and rich and wonderful. We ate the whole loaf for dinner and I froze the rolls for later.

Creamy Tomato-Fennel Soup. My birthday dinner. And this soup! Remember that soup I loved at Duckfat when we were on vacation in Maine this summer? Well I went poking around for the recipe online and found that one of my two very favorite food bloggers had shared the recipe for it this winter! It turns out that the secret to what makes this soup incredible is a staggering full quart of heavy cream. Cooking fennel with onion and a lot of fennel seeds adds to the magic too, but I think it’s the ratio of cream to tomato that makes it so great. I have made it as written several times and I’ve also made a Whole 30 version by omitting the wine and (tiny amount of) sugar and replacing the heavy cream with coconut cream- it was really really delicious also. If you like creamy tomato soups and fennel and fat, I heartily encourage you to try this recipe. I love it so much.

Reading at Yawp! Henry has been devouring books. He’s on book nine of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I haven’t read them, but judging by what Henry has shared with me, this Wimpy Kid seems like a real asshole. Henry loves them though, and said that he thinks that every book in the series should “get that award they give to the best chapter books.” He’s also read a whole lot of Magic Tree House books, the first Harry Potter book, and many others, all in the past month. Honestly, I feel like even if the only homeschooling-y thing I ever did for Henry was to bring him to the library, he’d do just fine.

Rosh Hashanah. We celebrated by eating some apples and honey as the sun went down, and then, inspired by the candlelight, we went around the table and told scary stories, and then we all blew our candles out at the same time and said “happy halloween!” which wasn’t entirely appropriate for the holiday, but it was George’s idea and it made him happy so we did it.

Lunch at The Leaning Pear. In the weeks leading up to Ollie’s birth, we tried a few things to kickstart Helen’s labor, including walking around in the sun in Wimberley. We loved our lunch at The Leaning Pear, and I fell in love with a little shop we stumbled into called Ceremony Botanicals which felt really Instagram-y but in a good way. And we walked by the water and threw bread crumbs in that represented our mistakes and fears from the past year and watched them drift away (a Rosh Hashanah tradition). Good times. Ollie didn’t get the memo that day, though.

He lost the other one too! This one came out when I was getting Henry dressed for bed and I pulled his shirt over his head and his very loose tooth got caught on it (horror of horrors!) and was yanked right out. The second front tooth came out when he bit into a pickled plum onigiri before math class last week. He didn’t swallow it.

Helen had contractions all weekend, and we were all on high alert, waiting for them to get closer together (they were about seven minutes apart for long stretches of time) but it didn’t happen. They kept her up all night but Ollie was still way high up and Helen wasn’t dilating. This was so much like what happened with Phinnie’s birth- Helen had days of contractions, worked and worked and tried to move Phinnie down with spinning babies, and in the end had to have an emergency c-section because nothing was working and Phinnie needed to come out. So after two days of contractions that weren’t intense enough to move Ollie down but were intense enough to make it so Helen couldn’t sleep at night, she called it and we went to the hospital and Ollie was born. To keep things as normal as possible for Phinnie after the birth, Jordan took her home at night and stayed with her, and so I got to spend three nights in the hospital with Helen and Ollie. I loved it! I’m so glad I got to spend that time with both of them. I never got to spend time like that with Phinnie when she was a baby because George was still a baby himself, but this time around George is a big capable 4 year old! And it was fun to spend the night with my sister, even if she was recovering from surgery, cuz she’s funny and we never get to hang out like that anymore! I’m proud of you, sister. You’re an amazing mom.

Grilled Chicken, Bruschetta, Okra Fries. One paragraph it’s c-sections and the next it’s chicken cuz that’s just how the pictures come out of my phone. The chicken is my favorite way to grill chicken. Bruschetta is a perfect side, because you can grill the bread and then rub it with garlic and douse it in olive oil and salt and pepper while the chicken is resting, and the okra fries are crisp and salty and not slimy at all. They’re so good that it’s even worth clicking the link for the recipe, even though that will take you to Rachael Ray’s website which also sports an auto-play video. Anyway, here’s this chicken recipe, which is based on how I think my brother Caleb does it:

Grilled Chicken Legs with Herbs de Provence and Brown Sugar

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons herbs de provence without lavender (or any combination of dried rosemary, thyme, sage, and fennel seeds to equal 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds chicken leg quarters

Preparation

Prepare your grill for indirect grilling- if you have a charcoal grill, put the burning charcoal on one half of the grill and open all vents, for a gas grill, heat one half of the grill with a medium-high flame. Make the rub: mix the sugar, salt, herbs, garlic powder, and ground pepper in a bowl. On a cutting board, separate the thighs from the drumsticks by cutting along the line of fat that runs between them on the skinless side. Rub the sugar/herb mixture all over the chicken pieces. When the grill is hot, position the chicken pieces on the unheated half of the grill, open all vents, and cook over indirect heat for an hour, until the fat has rendered and dripped off and the chicken skin looks thin and roasty. You can move the chicken to the hot side of the grill to crisp it up a bit for a minute or two. Remove from the heat and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Chorizo with Crispy Potatoes and Kale. This is the recipe that got me through Whole 30. I recently typed up the chorizo recipe for Joanna cuz I think her ground pork makes the most wonderful chorizo, so I’m gonna share that here too. It’s adapted (to work with a pound of ground pork) from John Currence’s Big Bad Breakfast cookbook.

Chorizo

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot Mexican-style chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mixing well to make sure the spices are evenly distributed.

Chorizo can be cooked fresh or rolled into a log in plastic wrap and frozen for later use. Chorizo is most frequently used cooked “loose” and scrambled into eggs, put in tacos or burritos, etc.

The ball saga. George has a friend at Yawp who sometimes brings a big giant rubber ball. She generously shares it with George every time, but he pines after one of his own. He asked for one for his birthday, in fact, and I totally forgot about it. He did too, I think, until the next time his friend brought her ball to Yawp, and then his lust for a giant ball of his own came back stronger than ever. So we went to Target the next day to look for one- they didn’t have any. So I went to a godforsaken Walmart and they didn’t have any, so I went to another Walmart and they didn’t have any. So I gave up and went home. The next day, at a third Walmart, this time in Kyle near Helen’s house, we struck gold. George had been hoping for a purple ball and they had several, so we picked out the biggest, tautest purple ball we could find. We took it home and he bounced it on the floor and the fucking thing popped instantly and spectacularly, exploding into two distinct hemispheres of flacid rubber. So I went back to the Walmart in Kyle the next day and got another purple ball, less big and less taut than the first, and as of this writing it’s still intact. In conclusion, I have nothing to say, this is just how I spend my time, I guess.

Not what I wear on my walks around the neighborhood at night. My friend Jen Meaux had a birthday party where we were all encouraged to dress up as Jen Meaux. There are very few people who could have a birthday party like this, because most people, myself included, dress in roughly the same boring shit every day. Not Jen, though! She’s got wigs of every color! She owns several pairs of hot pants! We should all aspire to dress like Jen and it was super fun to get to do it for an evening. I am really bad at selfies, so while Andy was at a game night with work friends the night before Jen’s party, I put this outfit together and then spent half an hour trying to take a picture of myself wearing it to text to my mom and Helen. This photo represents the very height of that enterprise.

Here’s me and Molly, pantsless, with the real Jen in the middle, who is wearing pants and looking fabulous as always. I didn’t smile for my picture because my work in front of the mirror the night before had convinced me that I look like a big toothy maniac when I smile, but now that I see this picture I think it’s sad that I didn’t. Better to be a toothy maniac than to look like you’re not happy to be somewhere in a pink wig with Harley Quinn hot pants. Next time!

I simply had to share this photo of Dustin and Andy, who gamely also dressed up as different versions of Jen. Andy reminded me more of Lucius Malfoy than the unicorn we were going for. Dustin is heartbreaking-ly endearing with his bowl haircut wig and oversized glasses. They’re good guys.

 

Old-School Baked Ziti. And here’s some ziti I made, cuz if I didn’t put one more picture in this post, the thumbnail image when I share this on Facebook would be of Andy the unicorn and he’s already met me more than halfway by agreeing to dress this way and put proof of it on the internet. It’s good ziti, even if it’s actually rigatoni.

That’s it! It’s back to babies and podcasts and watching TV with Andy (are you watching The Good Place? I hated the beginning of the first season because it seemed simple and stupid but things pick up quickly after that and now I love it so much!) and walking around at night while female and all the other parts of life’s rich tapestry. Thanks for reading, friends.

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3 thoughts on “Baby Oliver! Plus Ball Sagas and Tooth Horror Stories and Some Really Good Soup

  1. Bevi October 11, 2017 / 4:03 pm

    This was highly entertaining. Congrats to your sister and her family!

  2. Raven October 11, 2017 / 4:24 pm

    Love it. Congratulations to Helen!! And that photo of Andy is extremely scary. 😰

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