Food + Wine

Sometimes a Balloon Just Needs to Pop

(Sorry to those of you who subscribe by email…this was accidentally published too soon and it still needed a lot of editing.  So let’s just call this a lot of paragraphs that sort of go together, shall we?)

I have become a workout-aholic.  An unintentional one, mind you, but
yes, I am now ready to admit that I’ve been exercising three times a
day.  Let me explain.

I take the kids for a walk every morning, when it
still feels kinda cool outside so we can all get some peaceful, fresh
air.  Although, there is nothing peaceful or fresh about walking in a
neighborhood filled with giant hills, pushing 70 extra pounds of flesh
and bones in a stroller held together by duck tape. So it’s basically an
hour long cardio session with weight resistance for me.  Peaceful,
fresh air walk for the kiddos.  And because my daughter throws at least
one item overboard every 30 minutes, we can be out for quite
awhile…retracing footsteps, eyes peeled for lost items.  And it’s
never the days when her stroller snack is, like, a cracker.  It’s only
when she has a cup full of organic, apple juice-sweetened, dried
cranberries or freeze dried banana slices that she feels the need to
chuck them overboard.  Nonetheless, we have fed a of of birds on our
walks.  R.I.P. Spiderman, R.I.P. left croc, you shall be missed.  Then I
always do my daily routine of calisthenics once the baby goes down and I
get a free moment, which has helped keep me sane in an otherwise
insane world.  So that’s two.  And up until this week, two workouts a day have
been my norm.  I’ll get to the third exercise installment in a moment.
But first, a bit on my week…

I have spent all day,
every single day of this week, cooking for three separate events, not to
mention all the things to take when we go on a family vacation in a
couple of days.  (Did I forget that part?  Oh yeah, we are leaving town
for a week and I’m so far behind in my packing and planning, which is
driving me nuts and keeping me up at night.)  I worked so hard the other
day that it wasn’t until late in the afternoon that I realized I hadn’t
even thought about dinner.  Remember dinner, you Mother?  Crap.  So
I literally threw some stuff in the crockpot (first wiping off the
cobwebs) and cranked it up to high.  I was cooking all day and I guess
my brain just assumed feeding my family could be checked off the daily

So I’ve been taking the kids, once they’ve had
their breakfast, out on the shopping needed to be done for all the food
I’ve been cooking, and deliveries that need to be made, then we come
back to lunch and a little playtime before naps.  It’s a good thing my
son thinks the grocery store is a playground.  He loves it so much, as
he’s been going there with mommy since he was a baby and we play the
‘what vegetable is this? game’ or he gets to pick something new he
hasn’t had before from the produce aisle for dinner.  And I’m proud of
that.  He also loves the cookies and balloons… Yesterday he picked out
two balloons, one for him, the other for his baby sister, and I got a
little nervous because these were the biggest balloons I’ve ever seen.
Not because the balloons were, in fact, a larger size, but that some
idiot had put too much helium in them.  And we all know the end to this
story.  Hot day, cold grocery store, POP!  All throughout our shopping,
we kept hearing gunshot-like outbursts, followed by screaming little
children.  And I warned my son what was going to happen when we stepped
outside.  So he just stared at that balloon, waiting for it to happen.
That poor pink balloon popped so loud he didn’t know what to think.

Do you ever play the game, I wonder who’s watching me right now?  How ridiculous do I look doing this?  What would people think if they saw me doing this?  No?  Oh, weird.  OK well, I do.  And it’s
a funny thing seeing me drop off my food to the house owned by the
family I cook for every week.  I park my big ole car in their gravel
driveway, wave to the two large dogs, unbuckle my kids, unlatch the
tailgate and pull out the backpack to load my daughter into, strap her on,
pick up the heaviest, biggest bucket of food (hearing my mother’s voice
telling me to bend from the knees), and walk, side by side with my son into a
usually empty house, where he goes to explore the ongoing house renovations
as I load the food into their refrigerator.  This is something I did when
it was just me and my son, then into the ninth month of my second pregnancy, and now
I’m doing it again, with both my kids.  It’s hard, but I love it.  It
reminds me how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown.

back to my crazy week.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being hired to cook
for people.  It’s money we need, and it’s doing something that I really
love doing and can honestly do well with one eye closed.  And stress
from being busy in the workplace is always a good thing, right?  But when
everything happens at once, there’s only so much I can take before I
crack.  I mean, does it really have to always pour when it’s
raining?  Can’t it just drizzle once in awhile?  I’ve been up at 5:30
every morning and by the time the rest of the family wakes up, crazy
mommy already has a casserole, two desserts and some bread cooling on the counter.
Yesterday, during a particular busy time, I had to take a moment and look
around me.  I wish I took a picture of my kitchen.  Every burner was
being used, pots were boiling, things were baking on both racks in the
oven, every surface of every counter had something on a cooling rack.
Then this morning, after I had been up cooking and baking again for
hours, my husband walked in to ask for some help and I just lost it.
You know how you can be working so hard by yourself, immersed in stress,
and all it takes is for someone to ask how you are, whether it be a
stranger or a husband, and you just break down?  Yeah…that’s what
happened.  But I had my moment, the tears fell, and then I was fine.
That’s how I roll.  I pack in as much stress and crazy until I can’t
take it anymore and just like that giant, pink grocery store balloon, I just
explode.  Oh, and my son’s preschool is out for the summer, so I’m on
double mama duty every single moment of every single day.  The good
thing about that is, come lunchtime, I can throw a peanut butter
sandwich at my son and no child will go into anaphylactic shock in the

By now you’re probably wondering about the
third workout.  And no, it wasn’t the giant bucket of food, with the
baby attached to my back, although now I’m realizing that is, in fact,
quite a weekly workout.  No, it isn’t that.  This week, of all the
weeks, I decided it was time to start my 15 month old daughter in
childcare at the YMCA so I could work out in public like the rest of
civilization.  Honestly, my decision to do it wasn’t really to benefit
her social growth, it was just to find something to do with them both
during the summer, when I am desperate for activities.   I was nervous
about it, very nervous, because my son had such a hard time when I
started him.  He cried and cried for months when I would attempt to drop
him off.  But I knew it would be good for everyone once she got used to
it.  I asked the adults if I could go back there with her, if her
brother could be in there with her, thinking of every possible way to
make this easiest on her.  But as we walked in, she went right to the
toys and after I told her I was leaving, she just went back to playing
with the firetruck.  Piece of cake.

So, there I was,
at a gym, in gym clothes, needing something to do.  And that’s how the
third workout was created.  I gotta tell ya, it’s pretty great working
out around other adults.  The sweaty man to my left doesn’t need me to
make him a snack, the lady in front of me doesn’t need me to change her
diaper, I’m just there, like everyone else, doing something only adults
can do.  Kids aren’t even allowed up there.  After the second day
of my three workouts, I began running out of things to exercise.  I was
just kinda wondering around, not knowing what to do with all this free
time, and all these free arms.  But, then I discovered there are
satellite tv’s attached to every cardio machine…  And Ellen comes on
at 5 pm every day… All I need is a cocktail and I’m living at the Y!!

I want out of a busy day, all I ask for, is to get all my stuff done
and then have time to watch one of my many shows I have saved on the DVR (Ellen
included).  I record all these things, thinking, hoping, that I will
watch them and what actually happens is I end up deleting them in order
to make room for Bob the Builder.  I wish for this every day and it
never happens, especially not this week.  But maybe I need to change my
dream.  Perhaps my expectations need to be lowered (I am now hearing my
husband let out a big, Yes!! Finally!!)  I do have high
expectations, about everything, but mostly about what I can accomplish.
I have this Superman complex (notice how I didn’t say Superwoman
complex), where I feel like I can get everything done, don’t need any
help, and can juggle ninety things at once.  But the reality is, we all
need help.  None of us are able to handle all the stuff we think we can
alone.  And I need to work on knowing that I can still have ‘control’
over a project, even with a little help here and there.  Even Superman
had Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane.

A good thing about
being so busy is that I kinda rock in the ‘turning leftovers into
something else fantastic’ category.  And the meal we had on one of these
crazy nights, when I was coming back from the Y at the same time my
husband usually does, was one that I could do completely ahead of time.
I turned our leftover slow cooked pork shoulder from a previous night into Pork Tacos with Avocado and Rhubarb-Mango Salsa.
It was awesome.  The salsa is a cross between a chutney and a fruit
salsa, and it was delicious.  I made the it earlier in the day (found
some tiny space to squeeze it in my packed fridge), and had the pork in
a low oven while we were out.  So when we all got home, all we had to
do was assemble.  I even relied on some frozen, steam-in-the-bag sugar
snap peas as our side item and loved every cheating minute of it.  So,
here it is- the delicious silver lining on this crazy, about-to-explode,
pink balloon of a cloud.


*Pulled Pork Tacos with Avocado and Rhubarb-Mango Salsa

warm some small, flour tortillas (I always like to use the whole wheat)
in the microwave by wetting them on either side, stacking them, and
heating on high heat for a few seconds, until pliable and warmed
-Place some of your leftover pork shoulder** down the center of the warm tortilla, top with slices of fresh avocado and then spoon a good amount of salsa (recipe below) over top.
-Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves

*Rhubarb-Mango Salsa (which can be made hours ahead of time, even the day before if you needed)

In a small bowl combine the following..
-1 stalk of rhubarb, peeled and diced
-1 mango, flesh diced
-1/2 medium onion, diced
-the juice of 3 limes
-2 TB brown sugar
-1/2 tsp kosher salt
-1/4 tsp allspice

Mix well and refrigerate, covered, for at least a couple hours.

(**obviously, you can use whatever meat you’d like in these, but the pork really pairs well with the flavors of the salsa.)


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  • Reply Velva May 31, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Girlfriend it's a busy life!!! You rock and you roll!

    Cheers to you.


  • Reply Everyday Champagne June 1, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Thanks Velva!

  • Reply Tangos Treasures June 8, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Just found your blog via the Drinking girls!! I see in some of your posts you know Wrightsville Beach, funny I live 10 minutes from there!!

  • Reply Everyday Champagne June 8, 2012 at 1:36 am

    Oh that's so cool! I grew up in wrightsville beach…it was my second home! Small world 🙂 thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply Gail June 10, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Abbey, you really, really need a vacation!

  • Reply Everyday Champagne June 10, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Oh Gail, I do! What's funny is that I just got back from one…only it was with the kids so that doesn't count, does it?!

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