Monday, August 22, 2011

Too fast

So I took a break from blogging, but, honestly, you haven't missed much. I kept a diary in elementary school and felt the need to write in it daily, even if there was nothing noteworthy to write. Many an entry was "I got up. I went to school. I came home. I went to bed." That's kind of been my life these past few weeks. Not to say it's been boring...just very routine.

Work is heating up as we prepare for a bevy of special events this fall. If you really know special events, they aren't that glamorous - they boil down to a bunch of spreadsheets and to do lists. And at home, we continue to carry on. Morning and night routines contain at least 42 steps apiece, and by the end of the day, I'm beat in my t-shirt stained with spit-up.

Amid this routine day-in and day-out, my babies are the measures of time. My almost-4-year-old treads between being my baby and turning into a little kid.  He's the one who will ask me in all seriousness if the meter is hungry, after I chirp, "Time to feed the parking meter!" And he's also my guy who looks so grown up after getting his back-to-school haircut as he asks me questions about preschool and making friends.

Even my preemie is growing up - at last weigh-in, Jossie is 15 lb 4 oz at 7 months old. Yes, I have an app on my iPad to track her growth, and it tells me she's in the 17th percentile for her actual age! I try to hold her on my lap, and she wiggles and wriggles, looking around for something to chew on (we're teething). Tonight, she feel asleep in my arms as we rocked, and I couldn't help but hold her close. I know this time around that this won't last for forever.

So this is another thing I've learned about parenthood: Life is a constant treadmill of the same activity...feeding, cleaning, disciplining and repeat. And then, suddenly, you stand back one day, and the biggest project of your life - your child - is becoming more and more independent.

I don't know about you, but the very thought of Jack and Jossie not needing me sends me directly to comfort food. Here's a mac and cheese recipe I tried this weekend:

Mac and cheese

  •  Kosher salt
  •  Vegetable oil
  •  1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 quart milk
  •  8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  •  3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

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