Thursday, July 30

Lost in translation. And then found, again.

Prior to motherhood I used to think it was borderline ridiculous when I overheard families in public deciphering toddler speak as if it were as eloquent as my literature professor second semester Junior year in college.

Does it ever strike anyone else how indeterminable kids can sometimes sound when they are learning to speak? But to the child's parent[s] it's no sweat off the back to understand that Maddie just wanted to have her Elmo cup and some grapes please. Wow, that mom needs to get out more I would think with pity.

Now I am the resident toddler interpreter.

Prior to summer when Jason arrived home after a day of teaching and coaching, the kids eagerly wanted to talk to him; and it was fairly normal if not expected for him to look at them cross-eyed, shrug, and then look to me for a translation.

As the school year began to wind down I excitedly told him, "Just think: before the end of the second week you're home, you will be able to decode the babblings of the toddler ramblings."

How exciting!

I was looking forward to have some peace in knowing that someone else could spring to his feet when Peyton said "Buh buh" at the kitchen table while pointing to his cup, and could then get Peyton his milk. Buh and cup sound nothing alike, I realize. But tiny utterances that somehow I managed to decode these past three years, I was looking forward to Jason understanding too.

Then about a month ago we were getting the boys ready for bed. Each of us takes one of the boys and preps him for bathtime, then assists with the last chug of milk for the day, scrubbing the teeth, and a nighttime story. That night, Jason had Peyton, my mommy's-boy-until-daddy-came-home-this-summer boy.

"Listen to this, honey," Jason urged me while holding Peyton in his arms before tucking him in for the night. Jason leaned in and whispered something in his ear.

"Yah yew," Peyton said beaming at me.

"What's yellow, buddy?" I asked curious. Yellow is the new blue, his former favorite color. Every single object is yellow even if you tell him 57 times it was red with absolute certainty.

Another whisper in Peyton's ear.

"Mommy, yah yew," he said again smiling.

"Thank you?" I asked shrugging my shoulders in question. "For what, sweetie?" Yellow and thank you sound so much the same. Okay not really, but when he says it there is a subtle distinction between the two. I must have missed it the first time.

Jason smiled at Peyton and looked at him in the eyes and then over at me, still confused. I was beginning to feel out of place in my own job as a mom.

"I love you, Peyton," Jason said softly.

"Yah yew, Da-doo," he returned with a smile stretched across his face and gleaming at me looking for approval.

My first "I love you," and I was lost in freakin' translation. I conceded to squealing and showered him with kisses for a solid 45 seconds.

Jason earned his linguistics badge this summer, and though I missed the boat on a few occassions like the above, every now and then I have a moment when I'm reminded I still understand the kids. Pretty well.

Because this morning as Jason got the boys up to start the day, I heard Peyton following Jason from their room to the kitchen.

"Dodo! Dodo!"

"Yes, Peyton, daddy is here."

A minute later, "Mew, mew! Meeeew!"

"A cow? What cow, Peyton?"

I smiled to myself knowing that Peyton's first request was for his favorite stuffed animal dog that sleeps at his crib side "guarding" him nightly.

And the second remark was asking for his favorite book, Goodnight Moon. One that I happen to love reading to him. Maybe a little rusty, but I still haven't lost my touch. For now.

Tuesday, July 14

Oh, to be 14. Or pregnant. Just not both. Or either really.

I don't know why it is that when you become pregnant for the first time that suddenly any tiny tid bit of personal information regarding the little peanut growing in your uterus becomes public domain.

Cart blanche on Twenty Questions? Can you really see yourself asking a woman in the grocery store, who is by no means pregnant, how much weight she's gained in the past forty weeks? Put a prosthetic belly under her shirt and suddenly the gloves come off.

No, I am totally not with-child. Not in the least. I'm loving the idea of sporting a bikini for the summer even if it does invite questions like, "Aren't you, like, Justine's stepmom?" Teenager for "Are you stoned out of your mind? Where do you get off thinking you can wear anything besides a moo moo to the pool? Enter motherhood, exit mid-drift revealing clothing."

Over the past few days I've exchanged conversations with people who were thinking of becoming pregnant, and so were curious about my two-fold journey down that lane. How much weight did I pack on? How did I manage to get my little darlings to sleep through the night without having to stuff a pillow over their face? Did I swell up like a balloon at the end of my pregnancy? What kind of birth did I have? Did I tear? Drugs, did I use them? [Yes, quite heavily as a matter of fact.]

But I think it's the most absurd yet equally amazing thing that pregnancy and kids can truly tear down the walls of ambiguity, and break out the sentiments of brutal honesty. When you enter into pregnancy, you become a part of this secret society of motherhood where you realize you all go through similar journeys to bear children, your hearts bleed the same as you experience heartache together, and likewise can totally relate to the necessity of scrutinizing your child's poop for about the first four years from infancy to toddler. Unbelievable.

Then I sit next to one of these grown up babies at the pool yesterday. A clan of teenagers, in fact. Something I fear and loathe my boys to become. Worse yet: something my boys will like.

As the valley girl clique readied to sunbathe beside me, I stumbled through Sense & Sensibility, while one of the five vixens bared her bikini body for all the rest to see. I didn't look up. Their squeals pierced my ears and made me burn my eyes deeper into Austen's novel even though I cannot get past the nineteenth century lingo.

"OOOOOOOooohmigod. Seeeery-us-leeeee, your boobs look huge!"
Eh, what?

"I know, right? Aren't they uuuuh-may-zing?!"

Then I revert in my mind back to the cart blanche mode, that I also inherited since having children. And I realize that she's not pregnant and so I can't ask her a brutally honest question like, "Sweetheart, if you only knew where your leopard print bikini, 32DD boobs, navel ring, and naivete are going to take you in life you would be so inclined to keep your nose in the books instead of the help wanted ads for the adult film industry, right?"

No, no. She's something far different than a pregnant woman. She's a teenager, and unfortunately she's quite the opposite. Her demeanor invites all the questions like the former, but she however is more cunning and will deliver no answer.

Saturday, July 11

Hello, [salad] lover

Ok. So even though all I really want to do is continue my rambling of why Edward Cullen is an amazing, chivalrous, quintessential romantic who I wish could just hook up a few pointers to my husband now and then [and possibly recite some lines from any four of the Twilight books to yours truly] I will digress. Cool off a bit... and just munch on some salad.

Not as much fun, BUT this salad is bangin' if there ever were such a description of rabbit food. It has a little kick, a whole lotta gah-lic, and it's healthy so you don't have to feel guilty licking out the bowl. Not that I do that.

I cannot take credit for this Rachael Ray creation, but it's still my go-to salad and being that it's summer and I miss Austin Texas yet again, cheers to this fine Caesar.

Tex-Mex Grilled Chicken Caesar [serves 4]
2 T chili powder
1 teas. Ground cumin
½ cup EVOO
1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
5 garlic cloves, 1 clove cracked from skin, 4 cloves finely chopped
3 cups cubed sourdough bread (half around loaf)
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 anchovy fillets, drained, finely chopped
½ teas. Crushed red pepper flakes
1 ripe avocado
Zest and juice of 2 limes
1 T Dijon mustard
2 teas. Worcestershire sauce
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
Coarse black pepper
2 large romaine lettuce hearts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill on high.

In a shallow dish, combine 1 T chili powder, the cumin, 2 t of the EVOO and some salt. Add the chicken cutlets and coat in the seasoning. Transfer the cutlets to the grill and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and slice into very thin strips.

While the chicken is grilling, rub the inside of a salad bowl with the cracked clove of garlic. Set aside. Then place the cubed bread in a clean bowl with the garlic clove and drizzle about 3 T of EVOO and the remaining T of chili powder over the cubed bread. Toss with about ½ cup of the grated cheese and toss to coat thoroughly. Spread the croutons evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crisp and golden, 10 to 15 minutes.

To make the dressing, place the remaining ¼ cup of EVOO in a small pan with the anchovies, red pepper flakes, and the finely chopped garlic. Stir together over very low heat until the anchovies melt. Remove from the heat and cool.

To prepare the avocado, cut all around the circumference of the ripe avocado, lengthwise and down to the pit. Twist and separate the halved fruit. Remove the pit, scoop the flesh out in one piece from both halves, and cut into bite-size pieces.

In the bottom of the reserved salad bowl, combine the lime zest and juice, mustard, Worcestershire, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the cooled EVOO with the anchovies and garlic. Add the romaine to the bowl, followed by the croutons, avocado, and the remaining ½ cup grated cheese. Toss the salad to coat, adjust the salt and pepper, and top with sliced chicken.

Like I said... bangin'.