Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Easy Enchiladas

 

Old blog post from another blog where I posted recipes with a couple friends.  Now that my oldest has moved out, she needs recipes and I know she'll like this.

I'm all about fool-proof.  And you should be too.  No offense.  I'm not calling you a fool.  I have been making these enchiladas for centuries, and they've never not been enjoyed.  I'm saying they're enjoyable.  They are not "scratch" authentic Mexican cuisine.  They are "what can I make that my kids will actually eat that won't take me an entire weekend to prepare" Mexican cuisine.  A lot of the recipe (all) can be made in advance, refrigerated, and cooked the next day.

I made these the day before yesterday and then when my parents watched the kids yesterday I had them just shove the dish in the oven and take 'em out before I got home.

So...without further adieu:  Easy Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

What you'll need:
13 x 9 pyrex dish (or whatever you can heat in an oven)
1 package burrito size tortillas
2 chicken breasts
15 oz can enchilada sauce (mild or hot, they're all good)
1 lb cheese (give or take)
salt
pepper
dried mince garlic

Prepare in advance in advance (not a typo).

Cook your chicken.  A couple words about chicken.  My wife, god rest her soul, used to boil the chicken in this recipe.  Boil it.  It was still great.  You literally cannot fuck up this chicken.  It's impossible.  So...cook the chicken however you want.  Emma...you can cook this in a pan with butter, since you don't have a grill!

A couple things.  When I took over this recipe I grilled the chicken.  I seasoned the hell out of it with salt, pepper, and dried minced garlic, and grilled it.  And it made it even better.

Tip 1:  Suck at preparing chicken on the grill?  (too dry on the outside, still not done on the inside?)  Butterfly it.  Cut it in half thickness-wise.  Cooks faster and more evenly.  Okay...

Tip 2:  I once heard Lydia (of Lydia's Italian Cuccina) on a cooking show say that when you cook chicken you should season it three times.  Once before you cook it, then as you cook it, then after it's done.  DO THIS.  Chicken...I don't know why this is...is bland as shit unless you really season it.  Like...more than you think you should.  I typically only season it before I cook it then after it's done.  And the only seasoning I add AFTER I cook it is salt.  But seriously.  Grill this chicken, then slice it up (we'll get there in a minute) then taste it.  Needs salt.  Add salt.  I was just talking to Emma about this literally last night.  I'm glad I found this old post.



Okay...so grill your seasoned chicken to taste (DO NOT TASTE THE RAW CHICKEN...it's just something people say).  Mine is usually about a 1/2" thick, and takes about three minutes per side in a hot grill.

Let the chicken cool a bit, and cut in about 1/2" pieces.  TASTE THE CHICKEN.  If it's sorta bland...that's the sign that you should add salt.  Honestly though?  Even if you STILL don't season the chicken.  This will still be good.

Okay...put the chicken in a bowl and add about half of the can of enchilada sauce.  mix it up and set aside.

If you stopped here, refrigerated the chicken and finished the rest the next day?  That would work.  Otherwise...

Grate the cheese in a big bowl.  It's a lot of cheese so you need a lot of bowl.

Use non-stick spray to grease your 13 x 9 dish, and lay a tortilla in it.  Spoon a serving spoon full of the cut chicken mix into the middle.  Top with cheese.  Roll up and slide against the edge of the dish.  Repeat until you run out of room or run out of chicken mix.  If you run out of cheese...god help you, why are you using so much fucking cheese?  Grate some more.  It'll be even more delicious, but you will probably die of heart failure sometime during the night.




Drizzle the rest of the enchilada sauce atop the shells.

Cover the entire thing with all the rest of the cheese.  You ran out of cheese again, didn't you, dummy?  Grate some more. 

Okay...if you stopped HERE...cover, put in refrigerator and cook the following day.  That would work TOO.  Otherwise...

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Put the dish in the oven.
Cook for 15 - 20 minutes (the chicken is already cooked, so you're essentially just heating it up and melting the cheese) or until the cheese (jesus, how much did you use?) is all bubbly and melty.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some chives or (if you're in a sour cream free/green stuff free home like ours) plain. 

~ Jim

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Home

 It's getting cold out.  I'm out of firewood.  Man we burn through that stuff quickly.  

I started following Tok-tok.  I really like it.  I guess it's been a couple years.  I mostly follow art pages and book pages (book Tok) but there are some really great random funny things there and I find a few tidbits every day to share with Angie that she ignores because she refuses one general principle to add one more time-wasting social media site to her list.

Emma came by for dinner.  It's nice having her home.  Eli adores her and it's fun to watch them play, and of course I love having her in the house to talk to (or talk at, if she's absorbed by her phone).  It makes me wonder when "home" stops being your parent's house.  For me it was after I moved away for college and the moved back after it was over.  The transition was easy:  they sold the house and moved to another one.  The next house they built was never 'mine'.  There were no memories in it.  It makes me a little sad.  She has a house that she rents with some classmates in Pittsburgh.  She spends less time here.  It's understandable but sad.  When will this house stop feeling like her house and start feeling like "Dad and Angie's house".  Hopefully not yet.  

Elliott said, "I'm glad you're here."  His vocabulary and speech is crazy.  I think I just forgot how smart kids are and how quickly they pick things up at his age.

"Mama, can you come join us on the carpet?" is how he asks Angie to come play with us.  It's nuts.


Thursday, September 29, 2022

Forgot

 I was walking upstairs this evening and thought..."I forgot I was writing again!"  And the thing that made me forget was that Elliott did something and now I forget what it was that made me remember that I forgot I was writing.  Because at the time I was thinking, "Angie should write that in her journal that she keeps for Eli." but then immediately after I thought...wait...I WRITE TOO!    And the fact that I forgot that I write and then forgot the reason I remembered why I write is just so...me-at-this-age.

So I know it wasn't this, but tonight I was putting Eli to bed.  Angie has taken it upon herself to be the bed putter for Eli.  I do it every so often, but for the most part, my portion of the ritual ends with the "whoosh" and "Weeeee" where I swing him upside down from where I'm holding him, his arms reaching up (down) as his outstretched fingers nearly touch the carpet as he swings down between my legs then back up to my chest and I say "WHOOOSH!" and then I do it again and say "WEEEEE" and I ask him each night whether he wants whoosh or wee and he tells me and I do it three times then plop him on his mother's lap where she waits to read him a story.

But wait...then he climbs back down for one last hug, on my right side.  Also one squeeze daddy.  Followed by "now dis side" and one more squeeze then a request for water, which he drinks way too slowly and insists upon closing and putting back by himself before crawling back up onto his mother's lap where she waits to read him a story.

But wait...then we blow kisses and after I blow a kiss to him Angie says, "blow dada a kiss" and Eli says, "You do it mama" and so Angie blows me a kiss and I catch it and press it to my cheek and then Eli climbs back down on the floor for one more kiss, leaning is forehead toward me so I can kiss his soft hair and muss it in, before he finally climbs one last time up onto his mother's lap where she waits to read him a story.  

I slowly leave, telling him I love him and then he says he loves me and we each say it two more times in silly voices before I shut the door behind me.

But that is not what I did tonight.  Tonight I put him to bed, and since I rarely do it we don't really have a set routine apart from reading him a story, then snuggling him and scratching his back while I sing him a song.  

Tonight I read him Grandfather Twilight and then snuggled him and asked him what he wanted me to sing.  "Gata" I thought I heard him say, but that didn't ring a bell, so I said, "what about Twinkle Twinkle?"  

"Gata" again.  "Sorry buddy, I don't know that one.  I'm going to sing Twinkle twinkle."  So I did.  He didn't seem to care, so I sang it and then sang Bah Bah Blacksheep and the Alphabet song since they're all the same melody.  His little head was turned away and he was lying against my shoulder.  I turned him back to face me and asked if he wanted me to sing another song and he said, more clearly this time, "Gah Gato".

"Don Gato," I asked, surprised?

"Yeah," he agreed.

The last time I put him to bed, and I can't even tell you when that was, perhaps the last time Angie had an event at work where she needed to stay late, or maybe she was meeting friends or something, but it was months ago.  The last time I put him to bed, I sang him "Senor Don Gato".

Señor Don Gato was a song we sang when I was in grade school.  I learned it in 3rd Grade.  Mrs. Wetterhaus (later Gniting...butchering these name spellings I'm pretty sure) was our music teacher.  Señor Don Gato was THE favorite song we sang in third grade and SOMEhow I still remember it to this day.  I've sung it to all the kids, but honestly don't remember all the words.  Just most.

Here's what I sang:

Oh Senor Don Gato was a cat,

on a high red roof don Gato sat,

he was there to read a letter

meow meow meow

where the reading light was better

meow meow meow

'twas a love note for don gato.


'I adore you' wrote the lady cat,

who was fluffy white and nice and fat

there was not a sweeter kitty 

meow meow meow

in the country or the city 

meow meow meow

and she said she'd wed don gato.


Oh don gato jumped so happily,

he fell off the roof and broke his knee

broke his ribs and all his whiskers

meow meow meow

and his little solar plexus 

meow meow meow

twas the ending of don gato Ay carumba! cried don gato

*Completely forgot these two verses:*

Then the doctors all came on the run,
Just to see if something could be done.
And they held a consultation, Meow, meow, meow
About how to save their patient, Meow, meow, meow
How to save Señor Don Gato.

But in spite of everything they tried,
Poor Señor Don Gato up and died.
Oh it wasn't very merry, Meow, meow, meow
Going to the cemetery, Meow, meow, meow
For the ending of Don Gato.

*somehow skipped right to the end*

As the funeral passed the market square

such a smell of fish was in the air.

hmmm hmm hmmm hmm hmmm hm hmmm hmm though the burial was slated,

meow meow meow

he became reanimated meow meow meow

he came back to life don gato!!

We loved that song.  The "hmms" represent words I don't remember.  I recall trying to look it up years ago and not really finding anything online.  Not super surprising since it was a children's song we sang in the 70's.  But maybe I should take another look.

Anyway.  I forgot I was writing.  And then I remembered.  Maybe I'll remember what it was I actually wanted to write down.  But probably by then I'll have forgotten I'm writing again.

OH!  Nobody's seen this yet regardless, but after I posted I found it!  Not only that, I found it on Spotify too, so now we listen to it on our daily walks.

Señor Don Gato

 

 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Left

 I'm waging a lengthy campaign against a wasp colony that is somehow both inside and outside the house.  Outside they are constantly coming and going, bumping into the siding of my house as they maneuver between the gutter and the house to wherever they're all living.  Inside the house they appear in ones or twos over the course of several hours.  I kill them with paper towels, wadded to keep from getting stung.  An hour or two later, two more take their place.  Over the past two weeks I've killed maybe 30 wasps IN MY HOUSE.  I have no idea where they're coming from.  

Elliott possibly knows his right hand from his left.  He'll be two and a half years old next week.  He walked with me outside to 'help' pull weeds and water plants on the hillside.  Is that an unclear sentence?  Are you thinking he's pulling water plants and weeds?  That was not my intention.  Anyway...We had a retaining wall extended there about a year ago and all the grass is still dead so the ground leading up to the hill is like hard-packed dirt and it's a little slippery to walk on.  I was carrying something.  In my left hand and he was carrying something in his left hand, but I was reaching over his head so that I could hold his right hand in mine as we walked down the slope.  

It was sort of an awkward hand-hold, since my arm reach all the way over him to hold the arm furthest from me.  And at one point he looked up and said, "Dadda, can you hold my LEFT hand?"  Then he transfered the little toy rake from his left hand to his right and held his left hand out to me.  

I can REMEMBER struggling with left and right as late as kindergarten.  My mom would label my cowboy boots left and right with nail polish on the soles so that I knew which was which.  And maybe that was the struggle...which BOOT was the right boot and which was the left.  But I know I was still working out that whole left/right thing when I was 4 or 5.  So I was borderline stunned.  Also a tad skeptical.  

We walked down the slope into the grass and put our 'tools' away in the shed.  As we got ready to go into the house I hunkered down in front of him so I was centered and asked him if he could give me his left hand.  And he did.  Still a bit skeptical, but amazed.  

We tried it again a few hours later and he gave me his right hand.  Meh...he still knows there's a difference between left and right, and gets it correctly 2 out of 3 times...

Fun stuff.


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Ramble On

Dobby is on my lap. It's very hard to type. Okay, he jumped down.   

Angie is writing postcards to registered voters. Abbott Elementary is on in the background. I'm not much for background music/tv while I'm writing. It is, however, Angie's default. I'm giving it a shot. We'll see. 

So much to catch up on. Covid stuff though. We were lysoling groceries last time we chatted. Emma was still in high school...sorta. I can't remember when she went remote. THIS is why I blogged. I'd look back at past blog posts, but I haven't written for two years, so I've got nothin'. 

 Eli was born and we were still in the hospital and customers were calling me in the hospital trying to get equipment delivered because they were afraid our company was going to be shut down and they'd be stuck without treatment equipment until the pandemic ended. Little did they know we'd give up on the pandemic lonnnng before it ended. Our company never shut down. Portions of it did, but we were "essential" because we make water treatment equipment. 

 I don't love Abbott Elementary. It's amusing and mildly entertaining, but not truly funny. It's probably good I'm not focusing on it, but I'm also not truly able to focus on this either, because every minute or so a snippet of dialogue will hook me and I'll see what's happening and stop doing this. 

Anyway, we were in the hospital for three days I think. God it's hard to think with this show in the background. Now I'm bluetoothed to "Essential Metal" on spotify...this might be better. 

 Emma went remote. My timeline is all over the map. I had to text her to find out.  Emma says she went remote three days before her 18th birthday, which was a full week before we went to the hospital to have Eli. Remote was a joke. I mean, I think there were kids that were able to learn, but Emma sure as shit wasn't one of them. She did what she had to do to graduate there at the end, but I think she, like a lot of her classmates, was resentful of the 'necessity'. Resentful that she had to go remote while all around her people were going to work or school since there was no universal policy on how to handle it. 

One school district was remote, another was in person, and a third was hybrid, and it was local government calling the shots. Like...REALLY local. School board local. So people she knew were going to school or work and she wasn't, and if she was a bit resentful, I'm pretty sure she can be forgiven. 

Honestly, what a shit show. I remember trying to legislate our own house badly. We were trying to figure out whose guidance to even follow. I remember telling Emma we'd follow whatever the governor recommended, but then he started recommending stupid bullshit and I had to pivot from that to "CDC isn't recommending that we do what he's telling us we can do". And recognizing that the political position he was in was driving him to make decisions that were "less unpopular" than the ones he started out with didn't really help. We were contact tracing each other before family get togethers. Sending out emails requesting two week isolation before visits, and masks to see Elliott once he was born. Keeping Emma from her boyfriend. Keeping family from meeting Eli. So much guilt and fear. 

And I get too that a lot of people think COVID is a big nothing burger, and I'm so happy those people didn't have to lose a loved one or spouse or child or whatever in order to see what a position of priviledge just 'acting like nothing is happening' was for them. We just wanted our baby to be healthy. We wanted Emma to get her prom and her graduation and we wanted Lily to stay healthy and our parents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles not to die. Okay...done with Covid talk for a bit. 

Eli is 2 and a half. He's talking sooooo much. Also, I think I understand what the terrible twos are now. He's honestly a super well behaved kiddo, but he TESTS. And timeouts must be something that doesn't work for every kid. Because I can tell you...he LOVES them. And don't even try to tell me we don't do them right. We literally downloaded CDC guidance on timeouts. I'm not even kidding. That's a thing that exists and we're using it. For whatever that's worth.

Angie is vacuuming the house.  I don't know if pandemic started that or having a baby did.  Every night.  Does everyone do that?  Am I such a slob that it wouldn't even occur to me to vacuum 365 days of the year?  Maybe.  But anyway, she's vacuuming, and that means it's time to go to bed.  Goodnight.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Busy

I probably won't talk a lot about COVID here, but it's been such a huge influence over our lives for the past two plus years that it's hard to stray too far from it. One of the weird things about COVID was how it impacted my work. We were completely remote for over a year. In the middle of last year (maybe it was longer) our company sent us an email saying that HR wanted to chat with us all about how 'return to work' would look. Or at least that's what I thought it was going to be about. I think I sort of glossed over it in my rush to be outraged that the company was going to force us to go back into the office setting when we'd proven we could work productively from home. And that's not what they did. They basically said..."We don't know what the return to work will look like, so we want to solicit your feedback and see what you all want to do." They then gave us a lengthy presentation that more or less said what we all knew: We have proven we can work from home. Here are a list of the benfits we as a company have seen over the past year of working remotely...less polution, lower insurance rates, less wear and tear on the car, less gas used, happier workers, and on and on. I was pretty surprised. I was also surprised how many people actually wanted to return to work, for at least some of the time. In the end, about 6 months later, they laid out a plan to return to work for one day a week for the first couple months, followed by two days a week moving forward. And that's where we're at. And I, no shit, totally forgot where I was going with this BUT...I rambled on enough that I remembered. So anyway, one of the weird things about coming back from COVID was...everyone started retiring. All at once. I suspect there were a few people who got used to being at home full time and were nearing retirement and, when faced with the return thought, nah...fuck that, and retired. The Engineering Manager who I worked with daily was one. Also the guy that ran the shop that I worked with weekly. And the sales manager that I worked with daily. Then my boss, and then his boss (both retired on the same day) as well as one of our applications engineers, and others rumored to be done by the end of the year. And what ended up happening was...I got promoted to my boss's old position and assumed his responsibilities as well as my own until I could bring someone in to relieve me of them. But then also my boss's boss thought it probably wasn't fair to dump all the stuff she was doing on HER replacement, so she decided to have me do some of that stuff as well. And then, because it seemed to make sense and because the guy who was doing it was sort of half-assing it and hated it...I also assumed the responsibilities of the service product manager. So...I'm sort of treading water in a way that I have never had to before. And I'm slowly recovering. I promoted someone to manage the Project Managers (something I had been handling), and I promoted someone to help me with Product Management and Service Product Management, and she's been helping with that. And I hired a new project manager to replace the one that was promoted and things are starting to get back to manageable...but it's not there yet. The promotion is nice. But there's always that feeling that you need to prove you deserved it, so I've been reluctant to say, HEY...enough already. You want me to handle that too, I'll handle it, but pay me more, or get me some more help. Something along those lines. OH! I wanted to mention something about quiet quitting. I don't like the term, but I 100% agree with the philosophy. I used to work another place where they quite openly and proudly told everyone, "We know that a work week is 40 hours, but we expect 45 minimum. If you're not working 45 hours then you're not busy enough." Very proud of that mantra. I always worked exactly 45 hours every week too. At least...that's what I put on my timesheet. I managed to work 8 hours a day for five weeks and every week my timesheet said 45. Because...that's what they wanted to see. And it's bullshit. I'll work 45 hours. I'll work 60 if I need to get something done that is my responsibility and I'm behind, or it's an emergency or whatever. But that's not the gig permanently. It's a salaried position and that means 40 hours a week, and sometimes it's 45, but you know what? Sometimes it's 35. And that's okay. Just get your shit done. Anyway, I don't like that it's in any way considered "quitting" to leave work on time and have a healthy home life with your family and friends because working until you're 65 in order to finally be able to "rest" and do all the things you've always wanted to do but never had time to do...but now can't do anyway because your knees are shot to shit and you have chronic back pain is bullllllshit. Quick sidebar and then I'll wrap up. I worked at another company (not 45 hours a week company, much more forgiving) where I had an engineer reporting to me. We worked together for 7 years. Great guy. He'd been with the company for 50 years. He was the proverbial "started in the mail room at 18 guy", went to Vietnam for 3 years and the company held his spot, then he worked 50 plus years for them. He liked to golf and hang out with his kids and grandkids and I quit that job and went to work for the place I am now and he retired maybe a year later. And died a month after that. Fuuuuuuuck that noise. I do not want to work all my life in order to build a savings that I need to finally be able to relax and then...die. So balance your work life and home life. Realize what's important. And quiet quit all you want as long as you get your work done. Okay, end sidebar. So I'm busy. And this week was really busy, but I thought about writing two or three times during that time and just couldn't quite carve out enough time to do it. But even thinking about it as an option makes me feel good. I think it's a good sign. Making it more of a habit is something I want again. And because I need to start telling you about Eli. And of course catch you up on the rest of the gang: Angie, Emma, and Lily.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Still here

 We had our family fantasy football draft yes- hey!  come back!  this isn't about the draft!  So we had our family fantasy football draft yesterday so I didn't really get to write anything, but I thought about it, and that has to be good.  

Still plugging away at "where to begin" which is weird.  I find that when I have way too much material to cover I end up covering it like an 8th grade history text...very basic, topic sentences, quick description, summary, move on to the next thing.  But sometimes when I really have "nothing" to write about, or maybe it's not nothing, but just "something that I was thinking about", I'll take all the time in the world developing that shit.  Like the creation is the fun part and the mechanics of "what happened and when" is a slog.  

And I don't want it to be a slog, because it's when Eli was born, and the first weeks of the pandemic, and Emma's 18th, but there's SO much that happened, and my memory just isn't what it used to be...so history book.

I think just knowing that it's reading that way should help me 'fix it' by taking more time with it, but it's just depressing to an extent because I think if I ever wanted to write a book, and I had the material and it was all outlined and ready, I would be bored writing it because all the fun stuff would already be done.  Maybe not.  

Angie is getting a haircut and I just put Eli to bed.  Lily is watching her iPad, so it's a decent time to just type out some thoughts.

Oh, and my fantasy football team is not so excellent.  

Friday, September 2, 2022

Where to Begin

I started writing this on 4/1/2020.  I never finished.  My opening line seems evergreen.  So let's hop in the wayback machine and set the dial to April Fool's Day, 2020.  

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Lots of crazy shit going on and knowing where to start is not intuitively obvious to me.  So first off, let me say this post is NOT going to talk about the Covid-19.  I mean, it kinda HAS to a little, but it's not a post about coping with it, or what we're doing with it.  It's just background noise.  Really loud background noise.  But if you're thinking...I'm not reading ANYTHING about this fucking virus...then you're in a good spot.  Sorta.

I say sorta because it gets in the way of some of the stuff I want to talk about, and blocks some other stuff, and changes the way we approached some other stuff and in the end even though it's not about Covid...isn't everything in some way about covid right now?

Anyway...

Emma turned 18 on the 16th of March.  Without fanfare.  Because that was the week that shit went literally viral.  I canceled the reservation I'd made to the fancy restaurant we were going to celebrate the day before.  And I canceled the family party the week after. And that sucks.  She got shafted, folks.  Here's the current catalog of bullshit she's had thrown her way this past month:

Birthday party postponed
Can't see her boyfriend
Trip to Virginia Beach canceled
Weekend performances of Musical canceled
Trip to Australia postponed
Can't go to work (hostess at Chili's)
Prom?
Graduation?
College Orientation?

This is supposed to be a magical year for her (and all the other seniors this impacts) and it's ...it's just not.  Emma, somehow has managed to pull straight A's her senior year.  She's kicking this year's ass, and the payoff is...well...uncertain at best.

She did trot out the fact that I can no longer use 'because I'm an adult and you're a child' with her, so Angie thinks I'm going to need to pivot to 'as long as you live under my roof you need to follow my rules'.

Anyway...Happy Birthday, Emma!  I'm so proud of you, and I'm so sorry this suctacular viral apocalypse is fucking up your finest hours.

Here's Emma as part of the dragon (trio) in Shrek the musical before it was shut down...(thanks to Lota for the pictures, I stole them from Facebook)
She's wearing red...and purple

She's the one on the right.

still on the right.

So we're trying to figure out how to make it up to her, but there's some stuff we just can't fix.  Prom?  Graduation?  Prom seems doomed at this point; she's not even looking at dresses.  Even graduation...it's hard to imagine how that looks for her if it gets done remotely or online or whatever.  Man, these kids are getting screwed.

And we all get it.  It's to flatten the curve and hopefully not kill a million people.  I'm not arguing that what we're doing is unnecessary.  But doing the right thing never sucked so much.

MEANWHILE...

Can you say meanwhile if you mean to go back in time?

ONE WEEK EARLIER (than Emma's birthday)

Angie and I were talking about her obgyn's question to her about whether anyone had discussed 39-week induction with her.  They hadn't.  So she did.  I guess the idea is that you induce labor the previous week and it reduces the odds that you'll need a c-section.  We talked about it with the lady who taught us our pregnancy classes through the hospital and she sorta said that the study wasn't recognized by ACOG or WHO because of reasons (there was one, but I can't remember it). So we sort of opted out and said we'd just prefer it if the baby came when the baby came.

And then the world started to fall apart a week later and the news sorta sunk its hooks into our brains and started tearing at our reason and it was week 39 and we thought...if the hospitals are going to get more and more crowded with sick people and beds are scarce...do we really want to wait LONGER?

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That's all the further I got.  I don't know why I stopped.  I'm honestly not someone who starts writing then stops before finishing what I have to say.  Blogs are great for that kind of thing...I mean, I sometimes don't post right away, because I have to spell check/edit...although who am I kidding, I usually edit after it's already published so that no two people read the exact same words because I'm reading at the same time they are, changing it's to its and inserting words that I missed with hasty keystrokes.

So to continue, as best I can with the post I started writing two years ago...

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It was almost decided for us when Angie had some minor complications that we had to check out.  We spent about 8 hours in the hospital in order to be told "all is well" and were sent home.  We went back the next week for the due date induction.  By that point the hospital was just starting the process of closing to visitors.  Rather than wait, and run the risk that I wouldn't be permitted in the hospital during the birth, the doc allowed us to be induced at 40 weeks.  

They talk about a birth plan, and I think we were pretty flexible with ours (I legit just spelled that 'ares', so that should tell you how long it's been since I've written anything), which was essentially, "natural if possible, no meds unless needed, but if circumstances dictate a change, we'll change."  

I was allowed into the birthing suite, which was a relief.  Back then we were still washing our mail, literally spraying fucking Lysol (couldn't get 409 anymore because the shelves were empty) on our bills and opening them a day later after bathing them in the sweet sweet virucidal UV light of the sun on our dining room table, so my first order of business was taking chlorox wipes and wiping down all the surfaces in that entire room.  Anything a hand or ass might touch...it was wiped with chlorine solution.  My hands were red and rough and stung a bit after three days of it.  

We were hyper focused on nurse/doctor hand sanitizing.  Before every exam we'd scold the staff if they hadn't sanitized since entering the room.  

We knew he was a boy.  We had names (Elliott James was the winner, but we had considered Finn, Kieran, Henry, and Bastian (as god is my witness did I really sign off on Bastion??)).  Angie took her meds or...was GIVEN her meds...that morning and went into labor that afternoon.  

Angie is great with pain.  Very stoic.  She had told me this.  She did, however, begin dropping many many f-bombs as her contractions started getting worse.  Meds were administered for pain...I think around 8 hours in, but I might have the timing wrong on that.  There was another F-bomb or two during this process.  I think the staff was getting scared of her.  She was pushing just after midnight, but Elliott, content, would not consent to be born.  He was labeled an "arrested descent" and a c-section was scheduled.  

In an OR suite where tubes and hoses snaked across the floor, and wires and cords were tangling into and out of machines that went "ping", he was born healthy and happy and wrinkled, with eyes so dark they defied all attempts at color categorization.  We settled on brown, but honestly, to this day, they still look black they're so dark.  His hair was curly and slightly reddish.  The nurse took my phone over the curtain Angie's face and I were occupying and took pictures on the business end where all was clean, save for the new baby.  A few minutes later they brought him to us to gaze at, but not touch, until we were wheeled back into the birthing suite.

He looked a little bit like this:


Feet!
His stats:  19 3/4" Long, 7 lbs 3 oz, Eye color...black, hair color dark brown.  I think Angie's brother Michael won the "baby pool".  

At that point Angie hadn't eaten for...a long time.  And apparently there are good reasons for this, but she nibbled on ice chips for a while before, for WHATEVER reason, she was able to drink what she wanted more than anything else in the world:  Grape juice.  I've never seen her drink grape juice before or since, and frankly, I'm not sure I ever want to, because after burning through all the grape juice in the hospital (We sent nurses to find more, begging borrowing and stealing until we could slake her grape juice thirst) she vomited it allllll back into a little plastic tub that she held on her stomach until the feeling passed.  Then returned.  Then passed again.  Despit this she still says it was "the most delicious grape juice she'd ever had in her life".  

I think that's gotta be it for now.  I don't want to blow through my muse all in one sitting.  We still had a couple days left in the hospital before heading home.  And we have months of Covid isolation and loss and grief and injustice to catch us up to the present.  

But it's a start.  


New beginnings

 I just looked at the last post I wrote.  It was 4/20/2020.  A couple weeks after the pandemic officially closed us all down.  A couple weeks after Elliott was born.  A couple weeks after Emma's 18th birthday.  I don't know what stopped me from writing it all down.  Maybe the sheer amount of stuff?  Where to start?  

Fittingly the post was titled, "Where to Begin", and I wish I'd have finished it.  It talked about all the stuff that Emma had to say goodbye to her senior year, and it talked about Eli being born, or at least it would have, if I'd have finished it.  Maybe I will.  Maybe I'll go back and try to remember what I can of it all and hope I can do it at least a little justice.  

I've felt a lot of guilt about not blogging anymore.  Some relief, but mostly guilt.  It shouldn't be a job.  Unless you love your job, I guess.  And I really enjoy writing, though maybe my silence over the past two plus years hasn't been a good demonstration of that.  

I was talking to Angie about it the other day.  I think I've even blogged about it.  When I was in college I decided I wanted to take up running.  I figured the best way to do it would be to buy super expensive running shoes (at that time they were Nike Air Pegasus) from the athletic store where I worked.  They weren't the MOST expensive, but to a college kid making just over minimum wage they were pretty spendy.  And the thinking was...if I blow all this money on running shoes, I will DEFINITELY run, because not running will make me feel guilty about blowing the money on shoes.  You know, instead of beer.

This is not a picture of the actual shoes.

And it worked.  That one day.  I ran on a trail through the  mountains outside of Kalispell, Montana where I was visiting a friend who had invited me to a lakehouse.  It rained, but that was pretty cool, and I wasn't really sure what I was doing, but I was running, and taking in nature and fulfilling the promise that I'd made with my $120 shoe purchase.  And then I never did it again.

In the past I've posted and said, "I know I haven't been around much, but from here on out, you're going to see lots more from me."  And I do post more frequently.  And then I stop.  So no promises.  But I WANT to write more, and I want to tell you about how great Emma is doing in school, and how Lily is growing up and navigating her school, and how Elliott is doing, and I know that getting started is as simple as opening up the app and typing, "I just looked at the last post I wrote."  

So much has happened that it seems overwhelming to start, but isn't material that is seemingly endless every writer's dream?  I'm not post this on facebook or sharing it anywhere.  I think people used to subscribe to reading lists or whatever, and I don't know how to turn that stuff off, so I'm not going to bother trying.  I'm just going to write and post and try to get back in the habit of posting, and if I finally decide that I've written something that's truly worth sharing (or that I feel like sharing) then I'll give it a share.

In the meantime, I'll revisit, "Where to Begin" and just post a couple stream of consciousness type things until I get back into the habit.