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  • A Smashing Dinner Party

    April 25, 2011

    I love to have people over for dinner.  I think hosting small dinner parties of four to six, is about the funnest thing you can do.  But, in all honestly, since Sean was born, I have not done as much of that sort of thing as I like to do.  I am out of dinner party shape.  But now that Sean is getting older, it’s a lot easier and so I have been trying to get back in the swing of entertaining.

    If you did not know, I am a bit of a foodie.  I like to feed people.  I love to buy food, I love to talk about food, I love to learn about food.  I read cookbooks for entertainment and about the only television I watch is the Food Network.  So it was weird that as I was planning my little dinner party menu, I was stumped.  I could not think of one thing to fix.  Even foodies get in a food rut from to time.

    Someone suggested that I make Lazy Chicken. Frankly that didn’t sound all that great for some reason, and I think it was just that the name evoked unpleasant imagery.  As does yogurt.  I don’t really care for yogurt and I think it is because the word yogurt is an ugly and unappetizing word.  Yogurt just doesn’t sound like something you oughta eat.  They should call it buttery creamy caramel toasted stuff. Then I would like it.

    Anyway, I looked around on the internet and this Lazy Chicken had a pretty good reputation, except for you know, being lazy.  So I went with it and followed the recipe without deviation.  But I had a not-so-good feeling about this dish all along.

    If you are interested, here’s the recipe:  Take a bunch of spices and coat the chicken, either frozen or fresh, and then bake it at 350.  So that’s what I did.  But when I pulled it out of the oven and tested a piece, my not-so-good feeling was confirmed: this chicken was not-so-good.  I just couldn’t serve it.  So I rinsed off all the spices, smothered it in salsa and covered the pan with heavy foil and set it aside to rest, to take a little power nap.

    I then said a little prayer that through a baptism of salsa, the not-so-good chicken might experience a trans-substantiation of sorts and turn into something not-so-bad. Salsa can cover a myriad of culinary sins.  And with the guests set to arrive in 10 minutes, there was nothing more that could be done.  I had to move on.

    And if the chicken wasn’t so great, then at least I had prepared other things.  Lining the counter and ready to go was some hummus I had made for an appetizer, a spring salad, creamy au gratin potatoes, clover leaf rolls and pretty little homemade cobbler topped with a dusting of sugar which sparkled in the glow of the under-cabinet fluorescent lights.  Pretty much, my entire meal was setting out on the counter waiting to be served.  All that was left to do was make the tea so I boiled some water in the microwave.

    When the microwave beeped, I popped open the door and retrieved a small pitcher of bubbling hot water.  But as I did, the pitcher caught on the heavy12-inch glass platter that rotates inside the microwave. And out it fell.  It first crashed onto the granite counter top and busted into a zillion pieces and then the rest of it crashed to the porcelain tile floor and busted into ten zillion pieces.  Granite and porcelain tile are not forgiving surfaces.  Keep this in mind should you be thinking of remodeling your kitchen.  One unfortunate incident and your grandmother’s china is history. As well as any food you may have prepared.

    When I opened my eyes there was glass everywhere. Every. Where.  For weeks after, I found bits of glass all the way into the breakfast room and even the den.  There was shards of glass in every dish I had prepared — everything that is except the stupid lazy good for nuthin’ chicken which was covered tightly with foil.  And my guests were set to arrive any minute.

    I wanted to cry big fat sloppy unappetizing snotty tears.  And I also wanted to bust something else and stomp my feet and maybe even shake my fist.

    But I didn’t do any of those things. I screamed for Sean to go get his father to help me clean up the mess.  My plan was to first clean up the glass and then figure out how to prepare another meal in six minutes.

    While AD swept up and wiped up and vacuumed up glass, I dumped all the food into the trash, dish by dish, making up new curse words in my head with every scrape.

    Then on to Plan B.  I always have a couple of blocks of cream cheese and crackers on hand, so I think I poured Somethingoranother over the cream cheese and put out some crackers and called it an appetizer.  Then I made a pot of minute rice and seasoned it with a leftover packet of Somethingoranother that I found in the freezer.  Then I opened a couple of cans of green beans, also seasoned with Somethingoranother and for dessert I pulled a Sara Lee Somethingoranother cake out of the freezer.  If you don’t stock Somethingoranother and salsa in your pantry, you really should.

    As luck would have it, our guests got caught in traffic and were a few minutes late and I magically pulled a meal together in time.

    When the guests I arrived I tried to forget about the fact that I had glass dust floating in the air, and just relax and enjoy their company, which wasn’t hard to do as they were a fun couple, good conversationalists with entertaining stories.  When they complimented me on the chicken I didn’t quite believe them because, in my opinion, it was really not very good. But they did clean their plates, so maybe they were sincere.

    I guess as is often said, all’s well that ends well and no sense crying over shattered glass in your entire meal and if it ain’t broke, then Antique Mommy hasn’t touched it. Whatever.

    So then, for a truly smashing dinner party, stock up on Somethingoranother and have Plan B. And maybe a dustpan handy.

    Public School. So Far, So Good.

    April 20, 2011

    Sean’s first grade school year is about over and, for the most part, it has been a good year.

    Nothing has happened over the course of this year which has made me regret my decision to put Sean in public school.  Which is kind of surprising to me.  I thought there would be something.

    So, it looks like we’ll give public school a go again next year.  I say “looks like” because if there is one thing I’ve leaned as a parent, it’s that anything can change at any minute.  The minute I make a decision and plant my feet, it’s highly likely that something is going to change to make me look foolish.

    At the beginning of the school year, I wrote about how our plan all along, from the day he was born, was to put Sean in private school. But a few weeks before school started we we had not fallen in love with any of the private schools we researched, so we enrolled him in the local elementary school by default.  But not without some trepidation.

    One thing that is important to me is that Sean learns how to behave appropriately in public and I wanted a school that would reinforce what we do at home, which is not tolerate uncivilized behavior.  And it seemed to me, at the time, that a private school would do — could do, would have the freedom to do — a better job in this regard.  While Sean is a pretty good boy, I figured that in public school I’d be dealing with the influence of a population of people whose values and parenting philosophy may not necessarily align with my own. Whereas at a private Christian school, that’s really what you are paying for – people and an administration whose philosophy aligns with yours.

    Last April, when we were looking at private schools, we attended an end-of-the-year show the kindergarten class at a particular private school put on for the parents.  The admissions counselor invited us suggesting that it might give us a feel for the school.  And boy, did it.  The children stood on risers in their cute little uniforms and sang a variety of songs. Each child had a line to say or sing and it was apparent that they had worked very hard all year on the show.

    Unfortunately one little boy in the front mugged and waved and danced around, and shoved and stage whispered to the the kids around him, and was just generally disruptive and acted liked an ass a spoiled brat.  This went on for the entirety of the 45-minute show.  He ruined the program for the other kids and their parents.  Perhaps his tuition-paying parents thought it was cute, I don’t know, but I thought it was terribly unfair to the other kids that no adult stepped in and put the skids to his antics.

    Is it unthinkable that a 6-year-old boy would act up and be silly?  No.

    Is it unthinkable that at an adult would not correct this child?  Yes.

    Had that been Sean being so disruptive, I would have yanked him off the stage by the ear with the intention of inflicting upon him the maximum embarrassment one could possibly experience.   And because I’m just that crazy, I’d probably make him stand up and apologize to the entire room after the show thereby decreasing the odds that it should happen again.  I am a mom who means business when it comes to courtesy.

    When the evening was over, and not a minute too soon, I asked Sean what he thought about the show. He shrugged and said it was nice but he noticed that the boy in front was being bad.  I told him I was glad he noticed that because if he ever did anything like that, I’d yank him off the stage so fast his socks would be left behind wondering where he went.  He found the imagery amusing, but he got my point.

    After that event, I was soured on the school.  That not one adult corrected this child — not a teacher, not the kid’s parents, not an administrator – indicated to me a top down philosophy that I can’t abide.  That sort of thing ought not slide and I wasn’t going to pay money to a school which allows it.  I don’t buy the whole “boys will be boys” thing.

    And then soon after it was August, and we put Sean in public school, and now it’s April again. (sigh)

    I thought back on that end-of-the year show when Sean’s 1st grade class presented their musical program for the parents this year.  And to be honest, I was expecting a fair amount of bad behaving kids. For one thing, there are 100 first graders, so the odds of bad behavior rises exponentially just by the numbers and – I just have to say it – its public school.  You might just sort of expect less in the behavior department for a variety of reasons.

    But you know what?  Not one kid misbehaved.  Not even a little.

    Not one.

    Paint me surprised.  Pleasantly surprised.