On August 20th, 1955, an asshole was born. That asshole was the most comical, caring, and chameleon-like human being on the planet. That asshole was my Father. Jae Jeffrey Cook. And as much as he pissed me off, I loved him more than I ever realized…until he was gone. Funny how things tend to work out that way.
Every year on this day, my family and I get together to celebrate my Father’s life, and to share stories of how he influenced each of us and our hearts while he was still physically present. But this year was extraordinarily special.
Instead of doing our run-of-the-mill, meet-at-a-bar gathering that we for whatever reason have always obligated ourselves to in the past, we did something completely different, and way more intimate. We visited his memorial brick at a local cemetery, the only piece of physical evidence outside of dusty memory boxes in our garages that actually commemorates my Father’s existence…a brick that I’d never seen before, a brick that I’d ignored, until today…
And on this brick, we poured some foamy Budweiser - a yearly, beverage-based tradition. For if you knew my Father, you knew one thing - he loved himself a lot o’ the canned crap. Not because he preferred it, but because it was cheap, and for the amount of alcohol he consumed in his life, it seemed to make the most sense.
Then, we returned to my house, and had ourselves one hell of a memorial BBQ. Everyone pitched in with the food, booze, smiles, and memories. We all ate our guts out in the backyard as we spoke of everything from my Father, to bugs crawling through your face as you sleep, to homesteads, to the proper freezing methods for peppers, and Verizon Wireless. Oh and by the way, F-you, Verizon Wireless.
The evening ended on a proper note, with a good ol’ clinking of glasses, in memory of the dude who knocked my Mother up, the dude who gave me life, the dude who I’d love to hate, but actually love much more than I’ll ever admit. Dad, you double jerk of a jerk-face , I love you. Wherever the hell you are now, I truly hope you know that.
The secret to sun-bathing is not tanning lotion, misters, or your run-of-the-mill tap water, oh no! It’s Perrier! To drink, of course, but even more so, to dump on your head when you get hot. Today, I discovered that nothing feels better than fizzy coldness on my skull. It’s like pop rocks, but for your hair! And unlike soda, which is gross, it won’t leave you feeling sticky or smelling like high fructose corn syrup when all is said and done. Perrier - the perfect beverage to pour on yourself.
Lorelai bein’ Lorelai.
Last night’s dinner, I gorged like a fiend. In fact, I’m pretty sure I consumed my weight in food. And wine. And it was soo worth it. Here’s what was on the menu:
A yummy tri-tip that my mom got for us from Costco, which I marinated overnight in Margaret’s dressing, spicy Jack Daniels BBQ sauce, and fresh garlic. I cooked it for six hours in the crock pot, and Wah-Lah! Magic.
Served with steamed green beans seasoned with lemon pepper and olive oil, and homemade mashed potatoes with cheddar cheese, green onions, and garlic. Salt and pepper to season.
Chef Sarah Amazingness for the win! Again. I’m starting to get a big head with all this fine dining I’ve created. ;)
Today, my beautiful daughter turns five months old. I can’t believe it’s been that long since I spent 31.5 grueling hours trying to convince you to exit my body. Not a moment goes by where I don’t thank the Universe for every second I get to spend with you, dear Lorelai. You make me happier than I ever knew possible.
So this morning, I’m sitting in the recliner, windows open, enjoying my morning cup of Starbucks coffee while I feed Lorelai, when I hear my across-the-street neighbor (who is anything but quiet) talking to his four children and their four friends.
"Need I point out that I coach all of you in sports? I coach you guys in basketball, you in football, you in soccer, and…well, I don’t coach you yet, but I will, when you’re old enough. So listen up, because here’s how it’s going to go…
"I’m going to mow the front lawn. And while I do that, the youngest of you can play the Wii. Then, I’m going to mow the back lawn. And while I do that, the older ones get to play the Wii. Then, when I’m done, you’re all going to huddle up and decide which lawn you want to play on, and then you’re going to go outside and play on it, and leave me alone while I take a nap. YOU GOT THAT!?"
Needless to say, I’m pretty sure I laughed loud enough to be heard. HILARIOUS! I can’t say this dude has the best parenting skills, but hey, when you’ve got more children to look after than you can count on one hand, anything goes.
So, congratulations, Mr. Lawn Mower Neighbor Man, I hear your lawn mower going, and I see you out there with your headphones on, doing your chores and being left in solitude. Nothin’ but you, your lawn mower, and your dinky heart monitor thingy that attaches to your over-sized bicep. I hope you’ll be writing a thank you letter to the creators of Wii in the near future.
This past weekend, my newly practiced health food kick made an evil friend named Vodka, who turned everything upside down, all around, and backwards. So, come Monday, I had to get back on track.
For dinner, I made grilled chicken (marinated in Margaret’s Dressing), quinoa with cilantro, and steamed asparagus, tossed in a tablespoon of olive oil, with some lemon pepper and Parmesan cheese. YUM!!
Needless to say, I feel like a wee bit less of a jerk this week…so far. So remember kids - it’s all fun and games ‘til you overdo it on the sauce!
Tonight, I plan to make the same shrimp tacos from last week…they were way too good not to repeat, and I’m terrible at playing the waiting game.
Moving on, Lorelai’s Baltic Amber teething necklace arrived yesterday, and although she’s only worn it all of ten minutes so far, I think I’m noticing a slight change in her rash. Or maybe I’m imagining things - it’s too soon to tell.
But what I’m not imagining is the well-intentioned pestering from dear loved ones on mine and my husband’s parenting choices. Don’t let her wear that necklace, she’ll choke and die, make the necklace shorter or she’ll choke and die, throw the necklace away unless you want her to choke and die, etc. Yes, the necklace is too long, but that’s why she only wears it when she’s wide awake and under constant supervision. I love my family dearly, but sometimes I wonder if they truly trust in my ability to take care of my own child. She’s not dead yet, folks - so throw a girl a bone!
Today, I woke up on the waaay wrong side of the bed. I didn’t get much sleep last night, and when I took my ritualistic morning nap with Lorelai after she ate her breakfast, she spent the entire time fussing and whipping her head back and forth like The Exorcist.
So, needless to say, our morning nap wasn’t so much a nap as it was a nuisance. Finally, I gave up, and got out of bed for the day to see what else this so-far unpromising Thursday had in store for me. About fifteen minutes after getting up, I stubbed my stupid toe. This is what I get for being born with long toes, and passing them on to Lorelai. I stub my toes on EVERYTHING. So whatever - this was no shock to me, it just sucked.
But then, my dog tripped me, and I almost ate shit with the baby. And by ate shit, I mean, fell smack dab on both our pretty faces. Fortunately I saved us from the potential fall and continued down the hallway to put Lorelai in her playpen…where she fussed the entire time. So I put her in her Bumbo chair…where she fussed the entire time…and then I put her in her crib…where she, well, you know.
Finally, the grumpy girl I call my kid, who’s very rarely grumpy, began to fall asleep for her morning nap, sans Mom. Unnnntil moments later, when my other dog began to howl at the top of her lungs, startling the almost-sleeping baby as she began to cry. Do you see my pattern here??
So, I did what any overly hormonal woman with a chip on her shoulder would do and shouted at the top of my lungs to my surrounding world - "SHUTUP! JUST, SHUTUP!!" The words rang through my ears for as long as it took me to spout them out, and immediately I ran around the house, apologizing to everyone. As if a dog and baby can understand the meaning of a freakin’ apology! Oh well, at least it made me feel better.
And with that, I’ve decided to hurry up and turn this day around. I’m going to do a little in-house yoga, get some sun on my skin, and settle down for the evening with some wine, Desperate Housewives, and take-out Pad Thai. But most importantly, I’m going to try and remember to breeeeathe…and focus on the fact that the world’s cutest baby came out of my vagina. ‘Nuff said.
Last night’s dinner was so incredible, it made up for the world’s most disgusting appetizer that I shamefully spent over an hour concocting. I got the idea from a vegetarian website that had a recipe for a BBQ tofu sandwich. Instead of making the actual sandwich, as that would have been too filling for an appetizer, I barbecued the tofu as indicated and laid it atop romaine lettuce. CAN WE SAY PUKE?!
Looks pretty, tastes like cheap dog food. I washed the lettuce, tore it up into little pieces, tossed it in a splash of Margaret’s dressing, and used it as a bed for the BBQ tofu. Then, I sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top. Gross, gross, gross. Not only was the flavor of the BBQ tofu absolutely nauseating, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t cooked all the way. In fact, I’m positive it wasn’t. Which sucks, because the recipe said to cook it at 325 degrees for an hour, and I gave it an hour and fifteen minutes. Dear Whoever wrote that heinous recipe - SUCK IT!
Anyhow, Brant and I choked down a few bites of this monstrosity, and then I returned to the kitchen to experiment with a new dinner recipe, which I was most weary about after the abominable appetizer experience. Fortunately for us, the dinner was sensational! Here’s what I made:
A simple side dish - smoked oysters with some Rosemary crackers. I added some balsamic vinegar to the oysters like my mom always did when I was a wee tyke. And,
Yes, that’s right - I made this! Three cheers for Chef Sarah Amazingness! I got this recipe off a quinoa website, full of amazing vegetarian recipes that all use polenta, which I bought for the first time during my healthy Raleys excursion the other day.
I have to say - I’m a huge fan of polenta! It’s a great substitute for meat, or for pasta, or even for a bag of chips in the middle of the day as a snack. It’s super easy to prepare, and surprisingly filling! Methinks I’ll be buying this hunk o’ goodness in bulk in the near future.
So, fortunately for me, the mushroom polenta made up for the traumatizing tofu, and I went to bed with a happy belly.
Now, I know it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to prepare a smoothie, but today I felt much like Phil Sumrall when I made myself a mango-banana smoothie that most likely could move mountains.
It was pretty simple. First, I filled the blender with ice. Clearly. I threw in 2 sliced up bananas…well, almost two sliced up bananas, as I experimented with giving my daughter a mushy part of one, and a mango that I desecrated with a spoon. Then I added 1/2 a cup of orange juice and a splash of 2% milk. Next, I hit blend. And that’s when the magic happened.
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