Tuesday, June 22, 2010

At this stage in our lives, we consider going *anywhere* without the kids a "hot date"

Sometimes just going to the store can seem like a date.  Reminding you that there once was a time when you didn't have to tag team parent a somewhat demanding sometimes contrary, sweet and wonderful toddler AND a very active 16 month old.

Tonight was one of those times.... but we didn't go to the store.  Oh no!  It was better. 

We went to a place called Feed My Starving Children.  We sat next to each other (with no kids between us... or climbing on us) and held hands during the introduction where we learned that one bag of food containing chicken flavored powder (not actual chicken because the people receiving the food are often vegertarian), dried veggies, soy, and rice cost 19 cents to make.  We learned that one bag of food would feed 6 people.  We learned that the not-chicken powder also contains 20 vitamins to strengthen and replace nutrients needed for starving bodies.


So, that was our date night.  Mom watched the kiddos and we went off to pack food.

It was a little weird not knowing what to expect but it was really well organized and there was music and no children (at least not ours).  We still couldn't talk much because it was pretty noisy, but we did share a few meaningful glances as our eyes met over a scoop of not-chicken powder.  So romantic.

I was in charge of bags.  Not too tough, right?  Except that it was the only job I was hoping not to get while they were explaining the process... I hate trying to open plastic bags... it seems like there's a conspiracy to make them so difficult to open that I get huffy (and I'm not a huffy person but ohhh, bags get me every time) AND I had to open the bag without touching the inside because that would contaminate the bag, and anything already in the bag.  Arg.  It was a recipe for disaster.  And I had to somehow manuver it onto a funnel.  Double arg.

John's super easy job was to scoop the not-chicken powder and the dried veggies into the funnel.  So not hard.

Someone else scooped the soy and rice and then I had to weigh the bag and put it on the rack (it was actually a dish drying rack... smart huh?) for the sealer and then it went on the table till we had a full box to pack.

So really, I had two jobs... Whew!

We were there for about an hour and a half total but packed for about an hour and it really flew by!

After the packing it was clean up time (which I'm totally familiar with as a mommy of kids with lots of toys).  They asked for volunteers for dish-washing duty and as I was mentally tallying all of the dishes used at each of the 8 stations... conclusion: A lot of dishes... *someone* grabbed my hand and raised it high up in the air and sort of volunteered me.  (Thanks *someone* sitting in the easy chair across from me... JOHN.)  I had already decided to volunteer... really.  I mean, dishwater softens hands and sweating while rushing to clean a hundred assorted pieces of kitchenware releases toxins from the skin... right?

So, yes.  I washed dishes.  But it was the funnest time I've ever had washing dishes!  This was like dish-washing all caffeinated up.  Each team brought their dishes to the washroom in the dish-drying rack from our stations (the same one we set bags of food in that were waiting to be sealed) and the worker dumped all of the dishes into the first tub of hot water.  Gave them a few swishes and dumped them into the middle tub of cooler water, then into the third tub of water for a final rinse, then back into the dish-drying rack at the other end of the row.  I was in charge of the middle tub.  It was so quick that if you blinked it was over!  

If you're JOHN, just ignore the previous paragraph and start reading here:

It was so tough... there was lots of scrubbing and my hands were getting sore from all of the wash, wash, washing... someone was standing over us yelling at us to hurry faster... there may have been a whip cracking too... it's just all a blur.  I might need to go lie down.  *sigh*

(Whew.  That was close.)

So, to make a long story short (which, if you know me at all you would know that this does not happen), we both had a great time and plan to go again.  It felt good to get out and do something we had been wanting to do for some time now.

It was an added bonus that we went to dinner at Culvers with the group afterwards.  Yay for frozen custard!

(I can never say custard again without being reminded of the Tele-Tubbies.  Thanks for that, Katie.  You loved that show.  The phrase "tubby custard, tubby custard, tubby custard" will probably pop into my head 20 years from now as a lingering side effect of that show we were forced to watch when you were 3.)

I can bake that cake in... 12 minutes. (Please don't think I'm bragging... but maybe I am, just a little)

This weekend I was stumped.  I had company over, a friend from work and her family, and we were visiting while I got dinner ready when I realized that I did not have any dessert planned.  Ice cream would do in a pinch but we didn't have any.  (We also didn't have any bread or buns which, for hot dogs and burgers just wasn't going to cut it.)  This needed to be rectified.  Immediately.

My grandma would have just pulled out one of her fabulous pies from the freezer.  (She probably would have whipped up a roast and some homemade mashed potatoes and gravy for dinner too.  She's so talented... and now I'm getting hungry. *sigh*)

(Okay, so we did have ice cream but I couldn't serve it because someone likes to eat it out of the carton while standing next to the kitchen sink in the evenings after the kids are in bed and she's finished her workout [Jillian Michaels, you are *not* my friend] and is craving a few spoonfuls of something sweet before hitting the hay. Um, yes.  That would be me.  But we totally don't serve it to guests!  Which meant that John had to go to the store to buy a new carton, which meant that he bought the kind he likes and not the kind I like.  But that's totally okay by me, because I like to scoop out all of the almonds in his Chocolate Almond Fudge... hee hee... and leave him the ice cream. *snicker*) 

Oh, but ice cream all by itself seems so lonely without it's bosom buddy... cake.

So I reached into the pantry for a box of cake mix.  I only had a yellow cake mix, not my favorite and not one I usually buy but I guess I was distracted and did the ol' grab and go to keep the cart moving and the kids entertained.  (It's kind of like a roller coaster ride.  Keep them moving fast enough and they won't complain, cry, attempt to escape, or, most importantly, see any of the stuff we're passing at mach speed.  I also employ the "look over there" trick with Katie because she *does* know what candy is [even though she doesn't get it often] and she likes those toys that the stores put just at toddler-in-a-cart eye level.  This method usually works but makes for an exhausting store run.  Literally.)

Here's a my secret* to a 12 minute cake (15 minutes with prep time) (oh, and you can skip ahead to the next paragraph if you want to avoid the *ahem* somewhat lengthy *ahem* explanation of the same instructions you'll find on the back of the cake box.  I just can't seem to shorten up my internal thought process when explaining stuff... just ask John.  He's had to listen to many a story I've needed to start with an introductory paragraph.  I've told him that he doesn't have to listen, but I *do* have to get it out before getting to my point.  This can sometimes take 5 minutes pre-point.  But you can skip ahead to the next... well, now I guess it's the next next... paragraph because I really need to do some kind of hard return to break this all up.)

So, back to my secret; I mixed up a cake mix just like it says on the box and I dumped it into a bunt pan I sprayed with non-stick spray, then I cut up some cherries and sprinkled them on top (because with a cake this easy, I always feel like I need to add some extra "oomph" like chili powder or chocolate chips in a chocolate cake or just whatever sounds good at the time.  I usually dump a can of frosting on top of the batter once it's in the bunt pan too.  Um, just be careful when you turn it out onto your plate... that frosting will imitate molten lava and spill the warm gooeyness onto the plate, the counters, the floor... pretty much everywhere.  Not that I would know firsthand or anything.),

                            then... I microwaved it on high for 12 minutes.  Yep, you heard right... microwave.

This way, by the time I'm done licking the bowl, cleaning up dishes, and putting away the pots and pans Jake played with during the 3 seconds it took me to mix up the cake, the cake is done.

And it's delicious.

(*Secret unless you know my mom or my grandma, or have been over for dinner when I've made this OR you've got some other genius in your circle of family and friends who's come up with this time-saving trick.  In which case... forget I even mentioned it... since it's obviously not a secret anymore.)