Yesterday Andrew announced (on Twitter, because apparently he wasn't excited enough about it in order to tell me personally) that he had a publication accepted, which is a Big Deal in this publish-or-perish profession and Andrew's been in a bit of a(n inexplicable because his stuff is really quite good) publication drought. It's "only" a book chapter, though, so it doesn't really "count" toward tenure requirements although it is something (which is better than nothing). Further, it had already been through numerous submissions and ended up being accepted at a lower ranking press than the editor of the book had hoped but, again, it's something.
So I when I saw this announcement on Twitter I went to congratulate Andrew on purpose and while I was standing there congratulating him on having his book chapter accepted Andrew got another notification that one of his papers had been accepted—this time at the top journal for non-profit research! This one he was rather ecstatic about because...it's kind of a big deal! So we high-fived and squealed and whatever and then both admitted that we had no idea what to make for dinner because...making dinner is kind of a drag. But has to be done every day. And everything is just so monotonous but also terribly anxiety inducing and the world doesn't even make sense anymore so who cares about dinner, anyway?
I said we could do something with rice.
Andrew said, "Rice and pot stickers."
"You hate pot stickers," I said.
"We have to get rid of them," he pointed out.
This is true. We have been avoiding pot stickers because usually Andrew teaches a couple of evenings a week and isn't home for dinner. And that's when the kids and I go hog wild on all the kinds of things Andrew doesn't like to eat—like pot stickers and stir fry vegetables. But he's been home for the past seven months, which I'm not really going to complain about...except that it means we haven't had as many American-Chinese cuisine nights at our house.
So I made rice and pot stickers and stir fry vegetables for dinner last night (which meant that to celebrate Andrew's achievement of landing two publications in a single day he got to eat rice with soy sauce for dinner). I use the word "made" lightly.
Guys, Andrew has done so much of the cooking the past little while that I have lost whatever meager hold I had on cooking. Part of me wonders if it wasn't my Very Hands-On Helper, who was constantly underfoot and trying to touch all the things (for some reason when Andrew cooks he tells Alexander, "Go play downstairs," and Alexander does or Alexander just hangs out with me while Andrew cooks, but while I'm cooking Alexander is always orbiting around me) but everything was just chaos in the kitchen.
Rice. I thought I'd get that on first. But the rice bin was nearly empty, so we scooped some rice into the instant pot, added the water, plopped on the lid, set the timer and went downstairs find the big bin of rice. We lugged that upstairs and then I gave Alexander the task of filling the small bin of rice. This was good because it kept him occupied, but it was kind of stressful because he also kept spilling all over the floor. He spent quite a bit of time picking up after himself, though. He's very sweet like that.*
While he was doing that I got out the (frozen) pot stickers and prepared them just like I had a million times before. And then I got started on the stir fry.
That's when I noticed that the instant pot had not yet come to pressure. But surely it should have finished cooking by now! I thought. So I unplugged it and took off the lid only to find that I hadn't put the silicon seal on.
"Well, that explains why it wasn't coming to pressure," I sighed, examining the rice.
"You weren't being careful," Alexander observed.
"You're right. I should have checked before I started cooking. Oh, well. Let's see if we can salvage this mess..."
"Not we, Mom. You," Alexander chided, "You’re the one who didded this because you weren’t being careful. Sometimes you are careful and sometimes..."
At this point Alexander, distracted by his own lecture, dumped an entire cup of rice on the floor instead of into the bin.
"Oops. Sometimes you aren’t. So I will fix this rice and you will fix that rice."
So I gave it a little stir, added a little more water, and then pressure cooked it for 2 minutes. It ended up just fine. My pot stickers, on the other hand, really stuck! I could not scrape them out of the pan to save my soul. Andrew finally came and rescued me when I was almost in tears because I had managed to ruin dinner and there was rice all over the floor.
"Can you help me clean up the floor rice?" Alexander begged. "It’s too hard for me."
He had the little broom and dust pan but had begun crawling around on his hands and knees picking up individual grains of rice, which is about as ineffective as anything.
"Wow!" he said when I broke out the big broom. "You are doing a great job sweeping that up!"
Andrew is making dinner tonight. Rachel is making homemade Oreos. I am obviously here at my computer. The little kids are in the basement playing (they think I am sleeping; which is the only time they will leave me alone). Rachel came upstairs to ask me a question (I can't even remember what now) but on her way up the stairs to me a timer went off in the kitchen and Andrew asked if that was his or hers and she hollered down the stairs, "That's your timer!"
Then when she made it into my bedroom, two steps later, she forgot to adjust her volume and hollered, "Hey, Mom, where are the...?"
"Hey, Rachel!" I hollered back. "They're in the storage room!"
I'm assuming she came into my room to ask me the location of something, since I am the Supreme Knower of Where Everything Is. I think it was cookie stamps she was after.
Anyway, it doesn't matter what we were saying. You just need to know that we were standing very close to each other talking very loudly. Because it was funny.
Andrew bustled up the stairs to see what we were arguing about, which made us laugh. We weren't arguing at all; just making fun of Rachel's lack of volume control.
To be fair, we had had a little argument earlier in the day when she asked if she could make Oreos (to consume while watching the presidential debate—oh, boy!) but had not yet done her science or math work so I said that she could make Oreos...after science and math and she got Very Angry (homeschooling is going great, but in her defense, after storming down the stairs, she got right down to business and finished her schoolwork and let her temper dissipate). That wasn't a yelling fight though. That kind of fight is rather rare in our house.
Anyway, after we told him we were just goofing around he said, "Okay. I just couldn't tell if you were talking or singing or whatever..."
The other night—after the kids were in bed—I decided I wanted to learn The Log Driver's Waltz on the ukulele. I found a few versions of the song with chords and a couple with plucking the melody, but none in the same key, and I wanted kind of a mix of both, so I thought I would figure it out myself...which, to be fair, was probably going about as well as my cooking.
I had the melody down as tablature in MuseScore and was adding in the chords, but transposing them to fit the melody (which, again, didn't match the key for the chords I'd found online) and...it's fine.
I was just occasionally singing and strumming to make sure everything was coming together nicely and that the fingerings were, you know, at least possible, if not comfortable.
And then a text message from Andrew (who was in his (home) office) pops up at my screen.
"What is that noise?!" he wanted to know. "Like whining and crying?"
"LOL," I texted back. "Thanks. I'm trying to figure out a song. 😂"
"😱😱😱" he texted back. "OH NO! YOU SOUND BEAUTIFUL!"
"I am deceased now," he wrote. "Enjoy widowhood."
Then he ran upstairs to sincerely apologize to me on his knees, while we both laughed until we cried.
The next day Benjamin was in the bathroom doing his business and singing his little heart out and Andrew hollered from his office, "What are you crying about now, Benjamin?!" (because Benjamin had been having A Day) and Benjamin squeaks from the bathroom, "I'm just singing!"
The best part was that I had just been telling the girls about Andrew thinking I was whining/crying when I was singing and now here he was, accusing someone else of crying when they were really singing.
Either we need to get better at singing in this house, or Andrew needs to get better at listening!
(For the record, no one else thought Benjamin was crying...so we're all thinking it's Andrew's hearing that needs to be adjusted because we sing like angels).
*Last story, I promise!
Zoë and Alexander have been having trouble staying in their beds and even though we have a king-size bed now, it still gets a little crowded with both of them ending up in there every night. So we set up the little pop-up tents in their rooms, because sometimes that "fixes" their sleep regressions. Until sleeping in a tent starts to be a distraction, that is. We're probably about ready to put them away for a bit, truthfully.
Anyway, a few nights ago those two were just so rowdy at bedtime and refused to stay in their tents. One would come out to give me a hug and a kiss. And then the other one would come out. And then the other one would come out. And then the other one would come out. And then they'd both come out. And then they needed water bottles. And then another stuffed animal. And then...
Meanwhile, I'm trying to read them a story.
Alexander usually falls asleep while I'm reading but tonight he was just not even staying put for more than two minutes! So I growled, "The next person to get out of their tent has to sleep in their bed!" which, apparently, is an awe-inspiring threat. And they both stayed in their beds.
Alexander fell asleep in just a few minutes. Zoë stayed awake until I stopped reading and switched on lullabies (as she normally does) and no one exited their tent again. It was lovely.
Around midnight, Alexander wandered out to find me so I could help him go potty and give him his middle-of-the-night cuddle (which I think he might spontaneously combust without) and so I cuddled him and took him potty and then went to tuck him back into his tent.
"No, Mommy," he said. "I have to sleep in my bed now."
"It's fine," I said. "I can just tuck you in here. You've got all your stuff in here and..."
"No, Mommy," he said. "You said 'nek per'on to det out of beir tent ha to 'eep in beir bed' and I dot out of my tent fo I have to 'eep in my bed now."
He wasn't about to let me be inconsistent!
So we moved his pillow and blankets and owlies and tucked him into his bed, where he stayed the rest of the night. Such a good boy!