A Shrimp Taco Away – 7.1 @ Bellingham House Kitchen

It is amazing to me how many ideas I have on how to control things.

I have had half a million ideas on how to control the food in this household in the last half hour alone (each time prompting the first line of this blog post).

I have had ideas on how to curb what the teens eat out of the freezer at midnight. How many flaming hot cheetos makes sense to eat in one sitting… How to balance kids wine with watermelon, why you should finish this bag of chips first before starting a new one…

It is true: I do find actual joy and solace in gems like how long big batches of popcorn stretch and perfectly hiding David’s rhubarb raspberry pie in the refrigerator.

And though I will continue to tuck Oreos away on top of the fridge, I grow in my desire to be more like David. David tends to shrug and laugh more than me, even when we are “almost out of snacks already”.

Even though he can grow annoyed by the incessant teenage grazing, his response is more “damn kids” as he pours the crumbs of the Doritos down the hatch. It loosens me up. I like being like that better than trying to control things. :)

***

I was tucking away a water bottle when I thought of my mother. I had just had one of those creative ways to shame come to mind and I was instinctively compelled to change my thinking. My mom would get so stressed out in the kitchen sometimes. And, because life is inevitably stressful and over the kitchen sink *is* the perfect place to cry, I don’t want to waste stress free days allowing anxiety about how the ice cream is gone.

Like for sure ice cream and anxiety are not supposed to go together.

Today was a marvelously relaxed day. The weather was perfect for being inside and keeping the kitchen humming. Eat, drink and be merry. No need for anxiety.

***

If I spend my time coming up with fun little rules and red tape, not only do I risk the joke being on me when the food I wanted them to avoid goes bad… I miss out on sharing the laissez-faire vibe with my soon to be husband.

If I was talking to the kids right now on how to make midnight meal decisions, I would not be  writing and taking little peeks up to look over at him: enjoying a shrimp taco at the counter and watching the end of the Blackfish documentary.

It’s not the kids’ fault that I find self identity in an organized fridge and a clean kitchen floor. Nor is it their fault that I was raised with four others on a potluck budget, where you bank on church events for feasting. My love of a well run kitchen can sometimes take precedence over my actual love for them. And – for obvious reasons – I challenge that as wrong thinking.

I have a feeling as I keep letting go of my grip and desire to manage the snot (nod to COVID) out of the kids and, instead, replace that grip with being present and communicating: serving them and encouraging them, that I will resemble more and more my childhood best friend’s perfectly cool mom.

Laid back, comfortable behind the kitchen counter, a steak sizzling on the cast iron grill behind them. Ask her for a ginger ale or a pizza and you’d get a “sure, babe” through an afternoon buzzy smile.

See? Doesn’t that just sound so much better?

The end. :)

“I’m Multi-Tasking!” (10 Year Old Milestone)

I was folding laundry when I heard Lucy make this announcement.

“I’m multi-tasking!”

I looked over and sure enough her body was turned towards this little blue bowl where she was mixing an egg with a fork and then she would turn towards the stove, where she was tending to scrambling the egg she had going. Then back to the bowl. Then back to the stove.

I smiled.

This may seem like nothing. But Lucy does *not* multi task. As her “high functioning single mom” (words of my friend), I need to be mindful of how my extreme task-orientation (“Hey babe can you grab the towels on your way upstairs – make your bed and we will be ready to go as soon as you have your shoes on, don’t forget your charger”) can stress her out.

For me, I kind of see the opportunities as I move through my house. I have progressed even to where most rooms have “transition baskets” – artfully placed bowls or baskets that are for those things that are on their way somewhere else… This, ahem, efficiency can give Lucy anxiety. So the fact she was doing two things at once, naturally, on her first night making scrambled eggs – was. a. big. deal.

It was one of those parenting moments you don’t try for – when they grow in big ways because you were both confident in their abilities and a little tired.

We went out to my parents tonight to drop off a birthday present for my dad and an anniversary parent for my parents to enjoy. The girls swam for a little bit and we decided to make a run to Lucy’s new school to time and clock mileage.

(Side note – I gave my 13 year old daughter the task of being my phone personal assistant and today, over the course of driving from Webster to Kirkwood, she had cleaned up all my apps, cancelled subscriptions I wasn’t using, organized them into folders and updated everything pertinent. I highly recommend this service. “Next, mom, we are going to do something about all these photos.“)

Anyway – by the time we got home from our test run, I was tired. We fed the animals and Lucy wanted to make the cat a treat. Out of cat-obvious options, we decided to try and give her scrambled eggs. Lucy asked me how to make them and I just talked her through, without moving from my seat.

Pet friendly, of course.

Grab a bowl.

Water instead of butter.
No milk. No seasoning.

Stir egg with a fork, counting to 45. (Even though I have never counted stirring eggs, I find the more specific I am, the more trusting the girls are of my instructions.)

She did it entirely on her own. She turned the stove on and off. She got the bowl down, she cleaned up her dishes. She purred over her kitty (who, we discovered, doesn’t like eggs) and she multi-tasked.

She felt grown up.

I sat there and finished my La Croix then folded laundry, simply because I wanted the sweatpants that were dry.

I like this phase of parenting. I like allowing them the space to do the things they want to do because I like validating their ideas about how to live their life. I like supporting anything they want to do that is to care for, feed or tend to a human, animal or plant. I like seeing them really proud of themselves and process their results.

I like that I am about to have (human) scrambled eggs at 9:30 at night because she knows how to do it now and so – well – we’ll probably be eating scrambled eggs a lot.

But not before school.

Because, according to our test run, we need to leave the house at 6:50am CST…

Till next time :) erin

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Aces, Trust & Remedied Lilies

UB40 is playing on my “Three Little Birds” Pandora Station and the mildly annoying chatter of two teenagers and my sweet Lucy rattles and laughs against the clank of dishes and commands of dogs (<< plural for poetic effect, though I am so preparing my heart for the right puppy number 2) from the kitchen. Ranger is not by my side, surprisingly, but is in the kitchen – hoping for an Alfredo noodle or some cheese or pretzel crackers to be dropped to him during the process of cleaning up.

I? Am in my writing studio, wanting to capture this week – this moment in time. My whole life, it seems, is coming together – tightening correctly, woven seams. And the reason I am confident in this is based on the fact that it is based on what I am seeing happening in *other people’s lives*.

But, this is the fun part of trying to find the threads in my own life. Let’s start here:

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So, when I bought my house (two summers ago), there was this big circle pod of day lillies right in the middle of my lot. Pretty, but odd. So last year, I dug them all up and put them in new corners, some in new rows and some in the trash :) And when I finally saw this crew in the one corner of my house bloom – this fleshy peach and ruby – I couldn’t help but feel some sense of validation in me doing what I wanted to my yard.

Sometimes, I don’t do what I want because it directly changes or opposes something somebody else intentionally did. The way my yard looks lately is proof to experiment with your own way.

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This is from Tuesday. That’s my oldest daughter, rounding home – listening to music – with a pack (complete with a full water bottle) – on her scooter. She was coming home from my brother’s house who lives up a few blocks east of me. This sight of independence was actually a reflection of my trust in her.

And let me tell you –

Seeing your trust in other people is a beautiful sight.

<insert prayer for the spiritual math on trust, giving trust, and building trust>

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So, the other day, I did not could not would not cut my grass. But it was uneven. And there were weeds. And some high spots. And it just “didn’t feel right”. So I poured a little bit of margarita and weeded. Checked it out. Wasn’t good enough. So I got my edger out and trimmed it up. Checked it out. Wasn’t good enough. Pulled out my mower and whipped through it. Blew off the clippings. Hosed off my porch. Wiped things down. Put everything way. And… twenty minutes later when it started to pour – I stood on my porch, in my Superwoman tank top (picked out for me by my daughter in a California Thrift Shop) and felt the power of doing things to your personal standards, even when you really don’t want to – and that relief, that satisfaction of having it done right when it’s complete.

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Wednesday night was an interesting one. It came with a dose of “personal conflict” as I decided where to spend my hour by hour over the course of logistics, farewells and seeing one of my best friends. As I was leaving the house where my daughters were swimming, I saw this on the host’s wall. And I love it. Because, at the end of the day, there is family, there are friends who love like family, there are friends, there are acquaintances and there are complete strangers. And I grew thankful I have family, of course, but especially aware of friends who love like family.

But you have to prioritize those friends who love like family. Those don’t grow overnight. Seasoned friendships deserve you, in your fullness.

This week has been really full of a lot of happiness. I almost can’t believe it. It hasn’t always been easy. But I can gladly say I am no longer learning from certain past mistakes but that I am actually a learned person. On our hike Thursday, Ellen started her inevitable complaints. But as soon as my agitation grew, I remembered I knew this was going to happen. And I also know not to get worked up. Go slow. Offer lots of support and encouragement. Validate everything she is feeling. Kick her in the butt when she needs it, but coach her through the experience. Then be quiet. Draw boundaries (ok no complaining now until we are half way). Let her get upset. Let her cry. Watch her frustration and pain and suffering chip away at the outside. Watch the process. Don’t battle it. Then, on the downhill side, watch her joy emerge. Watch her adrenaline kick in, see her gem. Watch her get excited. Wait for her to say it wasn’t that bad. And be thankful you didn’t lose it, because that would have really ruined the time.

Then, go get a milkshake.

Then, go jump in a pool.

Then, go home and take a shower.

Put on your favorite V Neck tee and go to dinner.

With a deck of cards.

PEACE.

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