Running on empty

God it was nice to have a rainless day today. We in DC are so soggy; mushrooms, those fungal lovers of humid wetness, are sprouting everywhere like Jon Hamm's beard ten minutes after he shaves. Every morning this past week, I've had to drain various pots on my deck as the flowers within weren't meant to grow hydroponically. It's all very swampy to say the least.

Our beautiful Jack turned nine yesterday morning, and we celebrated all day. Berries and whipped cream for breakfast, a fair amount of Indiana Jones Wii during the morning storm, a race to play mini-golf as the skies cleared around lunchtime. A good mini-golf course is such fun, and I got two holes in one, but who counted. 

Back home to prep for an early-evening dinner and party with Tom's parents. The kids are really lucky to be growing up near grandparents; I am still grateful for having lived so close to Nanny and Papa.  

We had flank steak and corn, cucumber and dill salad, and the ice cream cake that took two days to craft: vanilla ice cream, some sort of chocolate cookie with two chocolate sauces thing, mint chocolate chip ice cream, cream frosting. 

Jack was thrilled with everything and ate like a horse and then, bless his heart, he said he was too tired to stay up for fireworks and could we go another year. Uh, yes!

Today was long, y'all. Not bad but a real marathon. As it comes to a close, I find myself hoping desperately that family life starts to feel easier at some point. That the intensity lessens so that we can all breathe as much as we need to and when. 

I recognize that the boys' curious, spirited, joyful natures are gifts. Those qualities are the fires that will propel them to live large and expansively, to care deeply about and stand for things, to love and learn and make the world a brighter place. And I am grateful for all of that. But I also shrug, pretty much daily, under the weight of parenting it all; of reining them in and pushing them out. Of steering and guiding and molding and tending. Of deciding and supporting and being there always. 

On Tuesday, I fly them down to Louisiana for the annual Big Boys Week. I'll stay through Saturday and then return home alone. That departure is always difficult. What if something happened? Won't the house be quiet! What if they need me

But I also know how very much I need and am lucky to get this break. That life is hard enough without coasting into bed each night on nothing more than fumes. That one day when they move away, I will be happy that I tended to my marriage and own identity during these years, even though I sometimes feel I'm only doing those things minimally and on little more than vapor.

Go USA Women's Soccer!!!

Go USA Women's Soccer!!!

Okra and the 4th

So I realized last night that in my crisper drawer were the okra that T bought last Sunday. So fresh were they when purchased that they'd maintained their proud shape and verdant green hue. No need to risk missing the window: part of dinner they would be!

Do y'all know what okra love? Not gumbo, but bacon! Okra smothered in bacon drippings? 

There is NO slime in well-prepared okra: fried, smothered, grilled... Don't wash before cooking, and you're in great shape. 

So last night: bacon, okra, corn and more bacon. Delicious!

And watermelon and feta and watercress. And tomatoes and pea tendrils and blue cheese. And bourbon shrubs. And there you have it. 

I freaking love okra. Love it.

Today I spent large swaths of time either running (6.25 miles; legs now crying) or putting together the three-layer ice cream cake Jack requested for his birthday. My oldest baby turns 9 in the morning, and I just can't believe it. I mean, I can, but at the same time, wow. 

He does not like regular cake, and I enjoy learning something new each year as I make a new, celebratory, non-cake dessert.

Let me tell you the main thing I've learned so far: do NOT make your own Oreos. Accept the fake-o, chemical shit in the Nabisco ones and love them. They are the best. By far.

Tom bought Jack an inexpensive drone for his birthday and is playing with it right now like he's a seven-year-old who just received the most awesome thing IN THE WHOLE WORLD. It is crashing repeatedly into the windows, and the pets are vexed out of their minds. Men = boys = always kids.

Happy almost-4th, y'all!