Monday, April 30, 2012


I remember standing there the day we found out.  I remember the doctor saying it.  The way she hesitated and I knew it wasn’t because it was hard to pronounce.  She hesitated because it was bad.  And I remember looking at her and she tried so hard to maintain eye contact, so hard to look me in the eye when she answered my questions.  No there is no cure.  Hopefully we should have 3-5 years left.  And I remember trying so hard to not fall over for the second time in J’s life when a doctor has all but knocked me off my feet.  Three years?  That is what we hope for?  I couldn’t wrap my brain around it, this “good news” of 3-5 years.  I remember Hubs wrapping his arms around me as I looked over Jameson and saying how gladly he’d take three more years.  He knew so much more, understood so much more.  It wasn’t a good thing to be the doc-in-training at that moment.  And I just couldn’t see how that could be a gift, to have three more years.  I could only see the death sentence.
It was all a blur, the days and weeks and months of fighting and praying and hoping and dying.  We all died that day, not just him.  And I obsessed over these three years we were going to have left.  I thought about the trips to Disney and the mountains.  The beach and Italy.  I started making the list of everything we would want and need to share with him before it was over.  The billions of pictures we would take.  The video camera we would need to buy.  I thought about how impossible it would be to say “no” ever again.  How I would end up letting him have ice cream for dinner and never have a bedtime.  Because isn’t that what you do when your child is dying?  Can there ever be discipline or normalcy ever again? 
I thought about how we explain the new rules of life to Little man.  You have to follow rules because you will live to 90, but your brother, he will only make it to six, you see, so he gets a free pass.  And then I thought how much Little Man would need that free pass, too.  How do you tell your 4 yr old that when he is 7, his best friend and brother is going to die?  So make sure you are nice to him.  Make sure you play with him.  Make sure you cherish him.  You think it, but you’d never really say it.  Because there really isn’t any way to say that.  I had these thoughts for days.  Oh how awful it was that we might only have three years left. 
How do you live like that?  How do you live every day knowing that your child’s time is running out?  
I can’t even answer that question because I never got to find out.  Jameson’s fight for his life never lessened; he never got to wake up from the heavy sedation and drug-induced comas.  He never got to live out any of those 3-5 years we were supposed to have left.  We held our breath for four months, hoping at first for a cure, then for treatment that would at least give us some time, then for a miracle that would at least let us bring him home, even if only for a day or two.  It is amazing how fast a person can be broken.  How, in less than four months, can you go from thinking 3-5 years sucks to hoping you can just get your child home so he doesn’t have to die in a hospital?  
If only I could just go back and take that gift.  We would still have two years.  Two more years; what a gift that would be.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Recipe

Someone I love accused me of making her look bad by my cooking gourmet foods.  So I thought I’d share one of my gourmet recipes with you all.  That way you can all be impressed with my kitchen prowess.  Today we will be making Pan Roasted Chicken with Figs, Honey and Balsamic, served over Goat Cheese Polenta.  Sounds really fancy and intimidating, right?  
The inspiration for this dish came early one morning while feeding Little Lady.  I looked at the menu for the week and noticed today’s dinner was chicken.  As if that narrows it down.  I thought about how to prepare said chicken for all of five seconds before getting distracted with Little Lady and facebook.  After she fell asleep, I started looking at vacation pictures and wishing we were in Portland again.  I thought about the beach.  I thought about the beer.  I thought about the food carts and that crepe.  The crepe with goat cheese, figs, and prosciutto. Lord that crepe was good.  Then I remembered that I have figs and goat cheese.  And the google searched commenced.  
Whenever I look for recipes online, my goal is to find the most impressive and intimidating gourmet foods to pin so all my friends feel lousy about their sub par meatloaves and BBQ chickens.   Not! (how lame 90’s am I right now??)  I am just an adventurous cook.  I like throwing caution to the wind, trying new things and making them my own.  Recipes are just guidelines meant to be changed to fit the needs of the cook.  And I do love meatloaf.  We just had that on Sunday.  
So I stumbled upon this chicken with figs and goat cheese and it sounded so yummy.  There wasn't anything too crazy in the ingredients list, making it perfect for dinner that night.  I opted to use dried figs because 1. I had an unopened package left over from the infamous Thanksgiving bird, 2. I don’t think the Super Walmart sells fresh figs, and 3. even if they did, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what they look like or how to buy good ones.  
About 4pm, I realized I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer.  I only grabbed two breasts because if there is one thing Walmart does sell, it is super-sized chicken.  Chicken went into a hot water bath in the kitchen sink for a quick thaw.  
I checked over the recipe and put the rest of the ingredients on the counter.  I try to have everything out to start and then put things away after I’ve used them.  That way I’m less likely to, say, forget the cinnamon in a carrot cake.  As if I’d ever do that.  Ahem.  
As I read through the recipe I decided to make this a one dish wonder to save on the washing later.  Doing dishes is my least favorite task.  It’s even worse than folding laundry.  And that is saying something, my friends.  But back to dinner.  Technically, it would be a two dish meal since the polenta needs its own pan, but two ain’t bad.  
Hot oil in the pan.  I opt to thinly slice the chicken before cooking it because 1. It it still kinda frozen, 2. It will cook faster and Little Man is moaning about how he is starving to death already, 3. It coats each bite in sauce and I’m all about big flavor.  Frozen slices go in the pan.  I think about slicing the figs but don’t want to dirty another cutting board and knife.  Figs go in the pan.  I take out the aged (meaning it has been on my shelf for a few years) bottle of balsamic vinegar and see there isn’t much left.  Why bother measuring?  I deglaze the pan with the rest of the vinegar.  The honey is crystallized and won’t pour out of the bottle.  I read the words “Do Not Microwave in Container” as it is whirling around in the microwave and say a quick prayer that harmful chemicals that will kill us aren’t leeching into the honey, or at the very least, please don’t let it taste like plastic.  The honey tastes fine, into the pan it goes.   I didn’t measure that either.  I struggle to not add garlic.  How can any good recipe not have garlic?  I think about eating a little fresh garlic just because, but then Little Man will want some too and that is two more spoons to wash.  Wow, I’m really lazy.
I start to make the polenta.  Oh crap, I don’t have any stock.  Water will work.  I contemplate adding bacon fat for flavor.  Cause, you know, bacon fat is always a good substitute for chicken broth…  I don’t add bacon fat.   I half the butter because I have a conscience.  And I like my heart.  I forget to add a cup of milk.  Crap, this polenta will be bland and not creamy.  I add some half and half to make up for it.  Now only Mike’s morning coffee will not be creamy since the half and half is now gone.  I put the empty container back in the fridge and hope he doesn’t realize it was me who finished it.  So much for cutting the fat.  I try to get away with skimping on the goat cheese, too.  Not because I’m worried about the fat, but because even with Walmart’s ridiculously low prices, goat cheese is still a major splurge and usually reserved for vegetarian meals.  I think about how great it would be to win the lottery and get paid in goat cheese.  I taste it.  It’s pretty good, but I really want more goat cheese.  
Little Man helped make asparagus while I stirred the polenta and held Little Lady as far away from the stove as possible.  He is a good asparagus snapper and pepper grinder.  I drizzle some olive oil on it and broil it for 6 minutes.   
So there you have it. .  A gourmet meal that sounds and tastes impressive, but in reality, is super quick and easy to make.   The hardest part was doing the dishes.  It tasted amazing and we will definitely make it again.
Here is the recipe and the link to the restaurant where it came from.

Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with Figs, Honey & Balsamic served over Goat Cheese Polenta 
Recipe serves 6 people.
Chicken Breast (skin on) 6 each
Fresh Figs(diced) 6 each
Honey 3/4 cup
Balsamic Vinegar 1/3 cup
Instant Polenta 8 ounces
Chicken Stock 3 cups
Milk 1 cup
Goat Cheese 6 ounces
Butter 1 stick
1. For the polenta, bring the chicken stock, milk and butter to a boil.
2. Add the polenta, whisk and turn the heat down the simmer.
3. Simmer for about 5 minutes, whisking every 30 seconds or so.
4. Add the goat cheese and season with salt and pepper.
5. Heat a large sauté pan with olive oil on high.
6. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper on both sides.
7. Add the chicken to the pan, skin side down, in the pan.
8. Turn the heat down to medium.
9. Cook for about 4 minutes until crispy.
10. Flip the chicken and cook for about 4 more minute depending on the thickness.
11. The internal temperature should be around 160 degrees. You can use a meat thermometer to check the cooking temperature.
12. Take the chicken out of the pan and pour off any excess fat or oil.
13. Add the figs to the hot pan and sauté for about 30 seconds.
14. Add the vinegar and honey and bring to a boil.
15. Season with salt and black pepper.
To serve, place the polenta on the plate, top with the chicken and drizzle the sauce over the top.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Snow Day

I woke up yesterday morning to Hubs telling me it was a snow day and school was cancelled. And we have 6 inches on the ground. And we lost a big tree by the water; it just missed the house. Hubs has a history for telling outrageously tall tales and I have a history for being gullible enough to fall for most of them. But I wasn’t biting on this one. No way did we have a blizzard mid-April with enough snow to take down a tree and cancel school. We hadn’t had one snow day all year!

The man wasn’t telling any tall tales.

He called me about three minutes after leaving the house and said I had to grab the camera and the kids and walk down our road. I told him there was no way I was waking up Little Lady to take picture of some snow. He told me it would be worth it.
He also said he wasn’t sure he would be able to get to work. The roads were questionable and there were a number of trees down.

This guy sure didn’t get to work on time. I looked at this and thought how lucky we were to have power.

The serenity of the snow was overcome by Little Lady’s wailing for breakfast. The girl has found her feisty spirit; it seems to be attached to her stomach. We went in. I fed the kids, made the coffee, ran the dishwasher, threw the laundry into the dryer, looked out the window at the waves knocking the dock apart and again thought how lucky we were to have power.

Little Man watched Bambi and almost decided to become a vegetarian, I folded laundry for the first time in two weeks. We went in the kitchen for a snack and the power went out. Sigh. We talked about how we don’t open the refrigerator or freezer. We closed all the bedroom doors to preserve the heat. Little Man rejoiced that the Kindle was fully charged and settled in for some Angry Birds action. I found matches and made tea on the gas stove. It was kinda fun.

And then the temperature started dropping in the house. About a degree every thirty minutes. And then the water in the faucet was just a trickle. If you’ve never had a well, you probably don’t know that the pump that pumps the water into your house is electric. I’ve never had a well before and started doing some quick thinking about how much water was left in that tea kettle and how many bottles I may have to make for Little Lady.

By noon Little Lady was in her snowsuit inside and Little Man was happily sucking down full strength juice by the gallon. I started thinking about the food in the fridge and freezer. I scowled remembering how just the day before I had stocked the freezer with beef, chicken and fish for the month. I reminded Little Man not to open the fridge for any reason and told him we can’t flush the toilets until the power comes back on. His eyes got really wide and he said, “You mean we can’t go to the bathroom until the power comes back on?”

By two the house was too cold to hang out anywhere but the bedrooms. Hubs called on his way home at three and I asked him to bring home water. Just in case. But we won’t need it because the power will probably come on right after I hang up the phone.

Or not.

At six we reheated pizza and curry stir fry in a pan, thanking God for a gas stove. At seven, we threw long johns and super warm jammies on Little Man and tucked him in. At eight, it was no longer light enough outside to read in bed, so we bundled up in our long johns and sweatshirts and went to sleep.

At ten, I stood in our 53 degree kitchen heating bottled water in a saucepan by flashlight to make Little Lady’s bottle and thought about how blessed we are. Because this is roughing it. Not having running water, flushing toilets, a working dishwasher is roughing it. We still have clean water. And loads of good food. And a relatively warm house with a working cooktop. We are so blessed.

The power came back on around midnight. Little Lady was way too excited about getting out of the snowsuit, so the two of us had a little slow-dancing pajama party from 1-3:30. I am so glad the coffeemaker is working this morning and I can look at this from inside my warm house.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Two Kids

Yesterday I met a really nice woman and she told me I looked really great for having two kids. And I looked at her and I wanted to cry. Scream. Kick her in the shins. Tell her all about all THREE of my kids. But I just smiled and said thanks. It happens all of the time. People who don’t know us don’t know. And I just don’t always want to get into it.

The problem is that afterwards it always grates on me. It is like a slap in the face to hear I only have two kids. Because it isn’t true, but it is. I only have two kids here. I don’t get to raise my Jameson. I will never get to change another diaper, read another bed time story, or tuck my little boy in again. I will never get to put him on the bus for the first time, go to a parent-teacher conference and hear about his antics and achievements. I won’t get to teach him how to tie his shoes or ride a bike. And the list goes on and on and on.

I still miss him just as much. I miss all the firsts we will never have with him. I was going to say that the holidays always make me miss him more. But it is the holidays and the changing of seasons and the birthdays and the quiet days…they ALL make me miss him so much. I never stop missing him. Missing him is a part of who I am now. It is always there.

And I’m so tired of missing him. I’m so tired of not being a whole person anymore. I’m tired of thinking about his vivaciousness and wondering how the hell this happened. I’m tired of the grief and the sadness. I’m tired of only having fading memories and a digital slide show. It has only been one year and four months and I’m already just so tired of it all.

It doesn’t get easier to miss him. It doesn’t get easier to have him gone. Instead, it feels like he keeps getting pulled farther and farther out of my reach while I desperately cling to anything and everything that hasn’t slipped away. He will always be my son and I will always be a mom of three.

But I only have two kids.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Joy

He is Risen! Jesus lives, we are saved, I get to live with my baby in Heaven someday, and we have chocolate for breakfast.