Macaroons and Mayhem

Happy Friday!!

Just kidding.

Today is the start of our kids’ spring break, which goes for one week and one day.

Because they can.

This means that while the rest of you are gearing up for sleeping in on the couch, the TV remote in one hand and a fridge in the other, us moms are hunkering down for a marathon.

Also, we’ll have a house full of wanderers and vagabonds coming through, both of which are as fun as pirates but with less weapons, so I’m taking a good hard look at the kitchen this morning.

The kitchen is ground zero. It’s the place where all life decisions are made, where everyone ends up at a party, where plots are hatched.

I’m pretty sure President Obama argues with his daughters over a blueberry muffin in the White House kitchen.

“No,” he says as an aide brushes crumbs from his red tie, “until your grades are up, there won’t be any school dances in your future,” he scoops some Ovaltine into a glass, “And why do you girls wait until the last minute to bring me all these field trip papers to sign?” another aide shows him the calendar, “Which one of you volunteered me to send in three dozen cookies for the bake sale? The ambassador from Thailand is coming today. When am I supposed to do all this?”

Well, I’m sure Michelle stepped in, but it’s not like she doesn’t have stuff to do, too.

My list is straightforward: a gallon of milk per day in the fridge, leaving enough space for orange juice, string cheese, four dozen eggs, a 2# bag of baby carrots that no one will touch, and more tortillas than you can understand because we do burritos instead of PB&J around here.

Pantry stocked with cans of refried beans, spaghetti parts, sprouted potatoes, and cans of soup.

Cupboards topped off with Costco sized boxes of Ritz crackers, Honey Bunches of Oats, pancake mix and syrup. Microwave popcorn and liters of soda: check.

Freezers (yes, two): pepperonchi pizzas, ice cream, veggie packs, a turkey that was “a good deal” last November and we won’t eat until this October, and pie crusts.

Because life’s too short.

Some day I will be a gourmet chef. I will be able to make stuff that grown-ups eat.

But this (once more) is not that day.

My boys do all of the eating around here and they don’t bother tasting it, heck, they don’t even care if it’s got glass shards in the sauce, so long as it’s edible and goes down quick.

I watched a seagull once, on a pier in Santa Barbara, pull a fried chicken leg bone out of a trashcan and proceed to swallow it.

Slowly but surely, that thing went down its throat and…into what? Into where?

I had absolutely no plans to stick around and see what came out the other side.

But it sums up my kitchen action pretty well.

I have just enough energy to buy some bananas and make a batch of cookies.

Cookies are my kryptonite, depending on the flavor, so I rarely make them.

But this is go time. A girl needs her strength, right?

Fast, easy, and coconut heaven.

Thank you to my girlfriend Carol for the recipe, and you’re welcome.

Coconut Macaroons

Place rack in upper 1/3 of your oven and preheat to 325*
Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet

Stir together with a fork:

2/3 C sweetened condensed milk (most of a 14 oz can)
1 large egg white
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Then add in and mix:
3 1/2 C flaked/shredded sweetened coconut

Plop about a tablespoon at a time onto the parchment paper, with your fork. This isn’t rocket science.

Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly toasted, depending on your oven.
Start peeking at them around 18 minutes if you’re like me and have oven conspiracy theories.
Cookies need to cool before you peel them from the paper.
If these last a whole day in your house, you win. Store them airtight.
So not happening here….

Spring Break is Breaking Me

Dear Superintendent of Schools,

You’re mad. Decidedly. Crazier than a hoot owl and older than the Sphinx.

I would like to know why you thought it was a good idea to give my high schoolers a week-long Spring Break while my middle schoolers have a two-week break.

I take that back. My high schooler had a week plus one day.

Monday.

Really?

I seriously think you only did it to prove you can. Sort of a “Ha ha! In case you were just trying to live through the weekend and send anyone (ANYone) back out of the house, we’re closed.”

At least one of those weeks had both kids home at the same time, for which I’m grateful. School breaks are like having the flu. If our family has to have it, then by all means, let’s have it all at once and get it over with.

Did you forget that the sports and part time jobs and church activities don’t take ‘breaks’?

Even the colleges are doing it. There was a year or two when I had a child at every school level. We were all ships passing in the night and I myself was a train wreck.

Between ‘late start days’ and ‘early out days’ and long weekends involving holidays about dead people who have no children in our school district, I have to ask: “Why do you hate me?”

Please ignore the sweet Thank You cards that some of my “friends” have sent you. These ladies are delighted to have their little buggers home and cry every autumn as the school busses return to their routes. Also, they have been inhaling way too much fat Sharpie marker fumes as they make “Welcome Summer Vacation” posters for their wall.

But I digress…

Remember when you experimented….way back when…with a year-round school calendar?

LOVEd it.

We had just enough school to get tired of it, then just enough vacation to recover but not get bored, and then off to school we went again. We could plan family vacations during months that no one else would be there. No traffic, cheaper rates, hotel pools all to ourselves.

Apparently some questionably lucid parents sent it right back out the door.

Now we have to make plans around the whole rest of the world, which means, “No, we’re not going anywhere; we pay good money for a perfectly fine house which you are taking for granted. Go find an activity to do.”

And then I lock the door.

Because if they are allowed inside, the place is trashed within an hour, followed by, “Mom, there’s nothing to do!” followed by, “Mom, there’s nothing to eat!”

I hand the little guy a big pair of scissors and tell him to run around until something “fun” happens.

Frankly, I cannot make brick without straw. Spring Break has thrown my routines, my grocery budget, and my sanity right out the dirty window.

My children will be on the school doorsteps, bright and early, this Monday morning.

You can ignore the sleeping bags behind them.

That was just one of our “fun activities” over the weekend.

Sincerely,

A Zoo Keeping Mom