Captain Haddock is my co-pilot.
(this post was written Thursday night.)
Today is the first day of Toyfair. It actually starts tomorrow, but Evan needed to catch a cab at 5:30 am this morning to make it to New York with plenty of time for set-up. Last night, he cuddled with each of our kids. This morning, he woke up early, packed his bags, and took off at 5:30am, after kissing all of the tribe. (Oscar: "Go away and don't wake me up!") I missed him immediately.
Oscar roused an hour later and we cuddled on the couch reading. Heaven. The Goose emerged next and was happy to snuggle in on my other side. Arlo eventually woke up and we had a big family snuggle. I scrambled some eggs, made some oatmeal, and heated up some steak. Somewhere in there I took a shower, and the kids ate their breakfast, cleared their plates and got dressed. We grabbed the bags of Valentines and walked down two blocks and dropped the boys. The Goose and I watched the boys through the fence and were only torn away by the fact that we needed to get The Goose to school as well.
I got the Goose to school and made my way to home. I had grand plans for finishing my new business cards, designing some business ads, cleaning the house. But I made myself an egg sandwich and watched Project Runway instead. (Is it me or was Cynthia Rowley the rudest judge ever? Also: Go Mondo!)
I managed to break out of my housewife malaise to pack a lunch for the little guys,
Picked up Arlo, bubbling over with stories of Valentine's Day and parties, with a big bag of heavily processed sugar. Drove over to Glendale to get the Goose and then hang out for a bit at her pal Tyler's house.
Tyler's mom and dad have created the best backyard ever. They have three gigantic tortoises, an awesome big slobbery dog, and a fenced in yard with lots of toys and a swingset, and you know that this backyard only exists for one reason: to give Tyler (and some lucky friends) the best play area ever. There's a big tub of plastic dinosaurs. There's tubs of water and dirt and utensils to make a mess in. There's stumps arranged around a stage for impromptu shows.
We had to tear ourselves away to pick up Oscar. We had a little kamikaze cleaning session, and then our friends came over for a dinner playdate. It was the first we've had since we moved.
In New Jersey, the dinner playdate was a staple of my sanity. The Brody-Kaplans and/or the Redwines would come over around four, the kids would destroy the house, the moms would make a mess of pasta and then the kids would all sit and eat together while the moms slugged back wine. Or maybe that was just me. But at the end of the day, the kids were happy and tired, the moms had bucked each other up to go on and fight the good fight, and if you didn't host, there was no clean-up.
My friend Michelle and her kids (one is Oscar's class; one in Arlo's) came over and eventually her husband arrived from work. Her husband's a comics fan and I was thrilled to chat comics with him and enable his habit with our lending library.
The kiddos made homemade ravioli. It went over okay -- the grownups liked it more than the little guys. Luckily I made a batch of plain rigatoni as well.
The kids went to bed about as easily as could be expected. I tidied up and watched Waiting for Guffman. Oh, Corky!
In case you're interested, here's my makeshift recipes.
Ravioli: scramble an egg in a large bowl. Plop in a cup of ricotta cheese. Add in a scant 2/3 c of shopped frozen spinach (defrost it for a few minutes in a strainer beforehand). Add in salt, pepper, some chopped Italian parsley if you have it, and about 1/3 c shredded Parmigiana cheese. Even the stuff in the can is fine for this. Save the good stuff to top it with. Scramble another egg with a bit of water. Take dumpling skins (we have them here in the grocery store, but you can get them cheaper and fresher at an Asian market -- for this recipe, you want flour-based, not rice-based) and lay one on a cutting board. Add in a heaping teaspoonful of the cheese mixture in the middle. With a brush or your finger, paint the perimeter with the egg mixture. Lay another dumpling skin on top and crimp the edges. Boil a big pot of salted water. Cook just 2-3 at a time - they will be done in about 90 seconds. A good mesh skimmer, 3-4 inches in diameter, is really helpful for chasing them down but still being gentle. Again, your local Asain market is the best place to find one. Dish them out and top with tomato sauce.
7-minute tomato sauce (adapted from Gourmet -- this is also our sauce for pizza night): Bloop in some olive oil in a frying pan. Toss in a couple cloves of chopped garlic. I am a picky foodie but man, jarred chopped garlic was made for stuff like this. Sizzle it a bit and add a big 28oz can of tomatoes. Add salt and pepper and simmer for at least 7 minutes. Since I usually use the TJ's cans of unchopped tomatoes, after a few minutes I'll use my handy kitchen scissors to chop them up a bit. After at least 7 minutes (sometimes more) add in 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil. To appease the kids I will sometimes break out the immersion blender and puree the whole shebang. As long as you use good tomatoes, this is a really simple and yummy sauce that can showcase whatever you pair it with.