California Schemin’

Just one of the many lovely California beaches wee baby Wesley never played on.

Just one of the many lovely California beaches wee baby Wesley never played on.

Wes and I have a longstanding disagreement between the two of us and it goes a little something like this: When asked, Wes will say he is from California but grew up in Washington. I disagree, and so like two mature adults we’re going to let the interwebs weigh in on this important, meaningful issue. Here’s the origin story of the wee Wesley Mitchell.

Wes was, in fact, born in California, but his family moved up to the Seattle area when he was three weeks old. At the time he was born, his father had already accepted a job up here and they were packing things up and figuring out moving logistics. California was just a way station for the wee baby Wesley.

My contention is that he lived in California for three weeks, as a newborn. Obviously, he remembers nothing of his time there and it was very brief. Therefore, it is misleading to say he’s, “From California” because being “From somewhere” means that is where you grew up and learned the ways of the world. Where you’re from influences your cultural identity, and Wes is definitely not from California.

(I know this because, unlike him, I actually am from California.)

Wes’s argument is that he was born in California, therefore he is from California. He is a California-issued product and, as such, is from there.

So I guess what we’re arguing over is the idiom of being “From somewhere.” Please weigh in on this won’t you? Tell us what you think.

[poll id=”25″]

The Day All of Seattle Suffered a Simultaneous Heart Attack

I gotta tell you, living in Seattle yesterday when the Seahawks surprised the crap out of everyone by winning an improbable victory against the Green Bay Packers during what looked to be a no-scoring shut-out loss was…singular. The kind of thing I doubt many of us will live to see again.

While not every single person in Washington state was tuned in to the game, when I looked at my Facebook feed it seemed like that was the case. And for the first half, everyone I knew was livid. Where were the Seahawks? they asked. How could this be happening?

I'm sure this guy, who Google has told me is named Clay Mathews, is a super nice guy.

I’m sure this guy, who Google has told me is named Clay Mathews, is a super nice guy.

I was fairly busy chasing my children around Wes’s parents house, and even I (normally not prone to getting swept up emotionally by sporting events) was getting pretty irked by how good of a time those Packers seemed to be having while they stomped all over CenturyLink Field. There was one guy in particular who kept grinning and tossing his long blond hair behind his shoulders and I just couldn’t help but wish he’d stop smiling so dang much and also that he’d cut his hair already, my GOSH.

Half time began on a dejected note. Wes came upstairs to where I was playing with the kids and started tossing our daughter into the air because he needed her giggles to allay the stress he was feeling. When I asked how he was doing, he replied, “We’ve come back from worse.”

I will say this for my husband and his father: They never once considered turning the game off, even when the third quarter passed and a victory was looking more and more impossible.

I put the kids down for naps and joined them, resolved to experience whatever came with my husband so at the very least he wouldn’t have to re-live it later when I asked him what happened. We watched, rapt, as the impossible began to happen.

The Seahawks scored! And then they scored again! And all kinds of other football-y stuff happened and we all cringed and growled simultaneously in frustration when the Packers used the last few seconds to even the score. Over time?! How could we have to go into over time? We just scored oodles of points in, like, five minutes!

And so we all gripped blankets, arm rests, or, in Wes’s case, his own head, and held our breath until the Seahawks scored that last touch down and we knew, but couldn’t believe, the game was over. And WE HAD WON.

The game that seemed doomed to end poorly was turned on its head and all of Seattle (or, at least, the grand majority of us who were watching) had a collective heart attack. All of us who were watching at my in law’s house just looked around, dazed, as we struggled to comprehend the incredible truth that, despite a terribly disappointing first half, we were going to the Super Bowl.

Amazing. And now I have to bring a blood pressure cuff to watch the Super Bowl with Wes because I’m fairly certain if I don’t he might end up suffering a stroke or something. I’ve never seen him get so red in the face about something before.

If, on the very slim chance that one of you readers happens to be a Seahawk, will you please think of my poor husband and crush the Patriots outright in a couple weeks? The game yesterday was a hoot in retrospect, but I’m worried about what will happen to my husband if that kid of thing happens again. Also? Good luck!

My goodness, you guys. My goodness.

Little, Itty Bitty, Teeny Tiny Victories

For those of you who don’t know my husband, here’s what you need to know about him to understand this post:

  • He’s very tall. I’m tall for a woman, and he’s about five inches taller than I am.
  • He’s smart as a whip, but he’s quiet about it. He’s not the flashy smart person in the room, he’s the quietly brilliant smart person who’s having an entirely different conversation in his head that’s somehow tangential to the one that’s happening in the real world. Regardless, he’s still able to keep one ear on the conversation at hand so he can interject a funny movie quote at precisely the right moment.
  • He’s talented. At just about everything. Guitar, software, people, cooking, driving, fatherhood, growing facial hair, he’s adept at it all. He was also great at helping me through having two babies, though I doubt that skill would be helpful to any of you unless you’re nine months pregnant and get trapped on an elevator with him and then go into labor. That’s super unlikely, though.

I could talk about Wes for hours, but the last bullet point is the most germane to the subject of this post, which is that I beat Wes at something. This is pretty big deal for me, and I’ll tell you why.

Yep, you guessed it. He's even a better shot than me.

Yep, you guessed it. He’s even a better shot than me.

Wes can be counted on to learn quickly. Even if he isn’t initially good at something, he figures it out pretty quick. Take cribbage, for example. I’ve been playing cribbage since I was in elementary school. I love it. I taught Wes to play it back in 2012 and at first I was able to beat him with no problem at all.

Ten games or so spaced out over the course of two years later and I’ve got myself a serious competitor who makes it a lot harder to win. He even beat me in a nailbiter game last week. Dang it.

Bowling is another good example. I may beat him the first game, but by the time we’re three games in he’s winning handsomely and my thumb hurts too much to keep going. Double dang it.

Okay, now that you’re familiar with the territory, here’s what happened Friday night. We were playing with our kids when I decided to do a time trial assembling a toy plane. This plane is one of our son’s toys and it breaks down into various nuts, bolts, and pieces and it’s a lot of fun to break it down and reassemble it.

I challenged Wes and then we did timed trials to see who was fastest. The first round, Wes beat me by thirty seconds. Abysmal, right?

Second round, though? The second round was after the kids went to bed and I’d had a generous glass of wine. We put on “Eye of the Tiger” and threw down. Wes went first and beat his first round time. I went next and beat his best time by fifteen whole seconds.

It was amazing. I was in this zone where I felt this kind of superhuman focus take over and before I knew it, BAM! VICTORY!

It just goes to show you, give a stay at home mother some wine and a kick ass song and she can do just about anything.

Highlights and Hijinks

IMG_3581We survived! Even better than survived, actually. We had fun. Lots and lots and lots of it. Turns out, the beach is a really fun place to hang out as a family. I wasn’t sure whether building sandcastles and exploring tide pools would be quite as much fun as a parent as I remembered it being as a child, but man, it so is.

To my immense delight, we also managed to survive the drive, though I will admit things got a bit dicey on the way home. Right around Olympia (halfway-ish) the kids started getting a tad feral, engaging in the same hijinks and generalized naughtiness kids the world over have always pulled out when bored on long road trips.

I saw a sign for a Safeway off the freeway and implored Wes to pull over, which he did, though a tad grudgingly. You see, we were having a bit of trouble with Google Maps, who had just informed us that the freeway ahead was a trafficked-up nightmare. I was trying to manage the kids, who were a few miles short of turning our backseat into the Thunderdome, trying to figure out an alternate route to avoid the traffic, doing my best to avoid getting carsick, and also? I had to pee. Irritated husband aside (I’ve never met a man who didn’t mind pulling over for a pit stop on long road trips. Every guy I’ve ever spent long periods of time in the car with has always had a ‘let’s push through and make it in one straight shot’ mentality. Why is that?), Wes pulled over and let his hot mess of a family out of the car.

Once we’d stretched, walked, used the grocery store’s bathroom, and obtained some inappropriate starches (hat tip to Joss Whedon), everyone was back in the car and more or less quiet.

“Thanks for pulling over for a rest stop,” I said to Wes while the kids contentedly crunched on Pringles in the backseat. “I was about to need a new pair of pants and I thought the kids were going to go Mad Max back there.”

“That kind of stuff doesn’t bother me,” he replied, eyes on the road.

I blinked at him. “Wait. What part doesn’t bother you? The peeing all over the car part, or the savage children tearing each other apart?”

He shook his head. “What? No, I just meant I would have just kept driving.”

I’m pretty sure he’s going to stock up on Depends for me and tranquilizers for the kids the next time we have a four hour car trip ahead of us.

Hijinks and upholstery destruction aside, we had a great time. I’ve definitely got the post-vacation blues now. Our home is lovely and all, but it isn’t walking distance to a beach and that, my friends, is just super sad all the way around. Everything should be within walking distance to a beach.

Oh! Hey! There’s the bright side to global warming! Within a few decades, I bet just about everything will be walking distance to a beach! Thanks, fluorocarbons!

Inchoate Vegetable Sludge

Basically what I served my family for dinner, minus the sodium.

Basically what I served my family for dinner, minus the sodium.

I’ve blogged about my fantastical failures in the cooking arena before. I’m not shy about the fact that, if anyone’s going to find a way to detonate a head of broccoli, it’ll be me. And probably when I’ve got a whole bunch of people coming over, because that’s HANDS DOWN the absolute best time for everything in the kitchen to go spectacularly awry.

Those of you who have come over for a meal and had to help me turn off my smoke detector know what I’m talking about, here.

In the latest episode of the Epic Cooking Fails reality TV show that is my life, I give you…Pot roast. Or, rather, Trader’s Joe’s pot roast. Here’s the story:

I was at Trader Joe’s, shopping for dinner supplies for the week when I noticed some Cabernet Pot Roast. I thought that sounded yummy, so I tossed it into my cart and began wondering what I’d serve with it.

A container of fresh Asian stir fry vegetables caught my eye. I took a look and saw mushrooms, broccoli, and carrots, all cut up, and thought I might be able to add those to the pot roast and baby, I’d have a stew going.

So I get all these things home and, come Tuesday, decide it’s now or never for the pot roast because I’m having dinner with a friend and if I don’t make the food now, it’ll spoil. I remove the pot roast from its package, add the vegetables, and discover there’s, you know, Asian-y stuff in the vegetable mix. Like baby corn, bok choy, bell peppers, and a couple other things I can’t identify.

This comes as a total shock to me despite the fact that the container clearly says ASIAN Stir Fry Vegetables.

Because I am an awesome chef (and because I don’t really care, let’s be honest) I pick out the weirdest stuff and dump the rest into the Crock Pot along with the pot roast. I turn on the Crock Pot, plunk down the lid, and congratulate myself on making dinner for Wes and the kids even though I’ll be gone.

Come dinner time, I give the pot roast a stir and discover that the Asian vegetables have radiation sickness or something because they’ve dissolved into inchoate vegetable sludge, the proverbial ooze from which my overcooked pot roast had to climb.

Wes, peering over my shoulder at this tiny slice of primordial culinary swampland, cocks an eyebrow at me to which I can only reply, “You’re not supposed to eat those. I added them for flavor.”

Now, we both know this is BS. Pure and simple. But the key to a happy marriage is letting your spouse keep what dignity she has left by pretending she didn’t just mercilessly simmer hapless vegetables to death.

And with that, I skipped out the door to go eat pizza with a friend.

I hear from reliable sources that Wes served the pot roast with pancakes (?) to critical acclaim from the tiny humans, and that the carrots were at least somewhat salvageable.