Thursday, September 25, 2008

It takes a village

Recently, I've had to adjust to the girls' new schedules - Emily is down to one nap per day (noon to 3 or 4) and Ava is a no nap girl (and thankfully in bed by 6). The hours between 3 and 6 are now what I call the witching hours. These are the hours where Ava whines and oscillates between hyperactiveness and sloth-like behavior (literally, within 5 minutes, she goes back and forth and back and forth. It's crazy!), and Emily, who is in her super clingy separation anxiety phase clings to my leg, arm, lap, or whatever she can grab on to, thus making it completely impossible to get dinner together or to play with Ava. Now I understand how so many women become dependent on pain killers (or wine...). Add to the fact that Ava won't even do some sort of quiet activity in her room or on the couch for 10 minutes...yeah, it's a long day around here!

Enter my mommy friends. What I love about mommy friends is that we are all dealing with the same whiny, crazed, clingy short people while we're trying to get dinner together (or gasp! Take a potty break!). Recently, some friends from my MOMS Club have started getting together for late afternoon playgroups - the kids get to wear each other out, the moms get to take turns in the bathroom alone and chat over coffee (or wine...). Someone suggested a potluck dinner and badda boom - supper club began! We've done them as a straight potluck, we've done them where we all bring ingredients and help cook the meal, we've done the thing where we feed only the kids in hopes to get them to bed early so that we can all enjoy some relaxation with our husbands (after all, isn't that what husbands are for?!). I've known these ladies for years...their kids all call me Mommy Allie, their babies hold their arms out to all of us when they are crying, and likewise, my kids go to them for comfort (especially while I'm getting two minutes of peace in the bathroom ALONE). It's nice to know that my normally well behaved 3 year old isn't the only one who has a complete meltdown at 4 pm because her sister ate the last red grape (especially when under normal circumstances, said 3 year old doesn't even like red grapes). Safety in numbers!

Recently, we made the following for one of our supper clubs and it received really good reviews:

Maple-Orange Chicken with Acorn Squash and Sweet Potatoes
Recipe by Robin Miller from Quick Fix Meals

1 small to medium acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 leeks, rinsed and chopped
5 (5-ounce) skinless chicken breast halves (with or without bone)
Salt and ground black pepper
1 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
For the garnish: 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Place squash and sweet potatoes and leeks in the slow cooker. Season chicken all over with salt and black pepper and place on top of vegetables in slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine orange marmalade and remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over chicken and vegetables. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.

Serve the chicken breast halves with squash and potatoes on the side and extra sauce spooned over top Top with parsley and rosemary just before serving.

And, on a wine note, I've finally found a cheap Trader Joe's wine that I can stomach: Tres Rojas Table Red - it's a blend of several reds and is only $4.99 a bottle. Not too shabby! Perfect for book club (or as Joel calls it, wine club), supper groups, nap time, get the picture...

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