Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Life goes on

I'm here.  I haven't been on vacation for two months.  My computer has been functioning perfectly fine.  I have not been too busy to blog.  I just haven't quite been able to find it in me.

February was a really tough month for me, and the mood is lingering.  I think I put on a pretty good front most of the time.  But there are days when I hardly make it out of bed, much less out of the house.  Sure, I fulfill most of my obligations, and some activities are a more welcome distraction than others.  But while I have always enjoyed blogging, this past year I've been doing it just because I wanted to document our family's events, not because I was necessarily enjoying the process.  If I had given in to my inclinations, there would have been an entire year of nothing, rather than just a couple months. But I took pictures when the occasion called for it, because my children grow so fast, and I knew I'd hate myself later if I didn't record that.

Blogging is just more evidence that life goes on without Riley.  There are enough times when I feel like I'm faking being happy, and though I do take incredible pleasure in my family, probably even more now than ever, when I try to blog about it, it feels strangely fake and empty because I miss my baby boy.  So when February came around, bringing with it possibly the worst anniversary someone can have on their calendar, I didn't have it in me to blog happy words, even though there have been happy times worth blogging about.  We have had celebrations and field trips.  I've also been emotional, and often difficult to be around.  I have less than seven weeks until this next baby comes, and although I am excited, I am nervous and scared.  The pregnancy has gone by quickly, and I have not spent much time planning for or thinking about life after childbirth.  And we don't have a name picked out.  And I'm afraid that I will spend my postpartum days crying and not being able to let the baby out of my sight.  And my life won't allow me to fall apart, as tempting as falling apart may be.

So I'm going to keep blogging.  I'm going to fill in the blank in my blog, because there hasn't been a blank in my life.  I have some entries from February that have pictures, and are just waiting for words.  They've been waiting a while.  Every time I've tried to complete them, the words haven't come.  Or they haven't felt right.  Or they feel trite and seem to only tell the partial truth.  So if, despite my best efforts, my words are lackluster, or are perhaps not present at all, hopefully now it's clear why.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

From pond to plate

We had a nice visit at my parents' house after our trip to the Desert Museum, and Chad and my dad spent a lot of time fishing at my grandpa's pond.  It may not be a huge pond, but it is teeming with fish, thanks to Grandpa's diligent stocking efforts.  The guys came home with some really big bass and catfish.  And since we can only eat so much grilled fish in one sitting, Chad and I took home a big gallon-size Ziploc back full of fish fillets.  My kids are not big fans of grilled fish, but they do love fish sticks.  So I used my favorite Crispy Chicken Nuggets breading recipe from Cook's Country magazine to fry up some crispy fish fillets.  It was so cool to eat those yummy fillets and know that they were wriggling fish in Grandpa's pond just a couple days before.  And the even kids gobbled them up.  Here's the original AMAZING chicken nugget recipe:

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch thick nugget pieces (I've done strips too, to save time)
2 cups water
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs, crushed smaller
2 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 large egg whites
4 cups oil

  1. Brine: Mix water, salt, and Worcestershire in large bowl or plastic bag.  Add chicken and refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes (45 minutes for strips).
  2. Coat: Remove chicken and discard brine. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Combine dry ingredients in shallow dish.  Whisk egg white in second shallow dish until foamy.  Coat chicken in egg then dry mixture, pressing to adhere.  Transfer to plate and let sit 10 minutes.  
  3. Fry: Heat oil in large pot to 350 degrees.  Coat chicken in dry mixture a second time.  Fry chicken in batches until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes (slightly longer for strips), turning over halfway through cooking time.  Drain on wire rack set on cookie sheet.  Allow oil to return to 350 degrees before frying next batch.
Make ahead and freeze: put cooled nuggets in a freezer bag for up to 1 month.  To serve, bake nuggets at 350 for 15 minutes, or until heated through, flipping halfway through.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Desert Museum

Chad and I have been waiting for the perfect time to use last year's Birthday gift from my parents: a visit to the Arizona Desert Museum.  The weather was beautiful, the animals were active, and I figured if we waited much longer, my belly would be too large to schlep around the grounds.  We saw tons of native reptiles, plants, birds (including minuscule hummingbirds nests), and other animals native to Arizona.  We saw out-of-staters wilting in the March heat, and I thought to myself, "You have no idea what hot is."  I saw bobcats (I can't believe I never realized that they're called that because their tails are so short--bobbed in fact), and a real-life mountain lion for the first time.  We had a really close view too!  And we weren't sure if the iguana crossing our path had escaped from an exhibit, but I've never seen one wandering in the wild.  Mason and Bree especially loved the indoor presentation where we saw several native animals walk across the table: a skunk, porcupine, ringtail, macaw, and a pelican (Arizona is very close to the north end of the Gulf of California).
It was an amazing day spent with my favorite people.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Day out with Thomas

I couldn't believe it when I heard that Thomas the Train was coming to Globe.  Our tiny little town of Globe!  Well, we do have a classic old train station with trains that only run sporadically for leisure tours, so I suppose that may have had something to do with Thomas choosing to stop here over all the other cities in the country.  It was very cool to be able to walk a few blocks to the train station surrounded by throngs of people who had driven from Phoenix and Tucson.  It was definitely money well spent.  We took a short ride on Thomas, in the comfortable dining car he was pulling, met the train conductor as he walked through, saw Sir Toppem Hat, then Mason played with ALL the toy exhibits.  He was in heaven.
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