This blog was originally posted September 25, 2014
Jen came down to Denver last Saturday so that we could belatedly celebrate her birthday. Saturday was an unusually busy day for me. At the end of the day, she told me, “You need to write a blog about a day in the life of Nana’s Whimsies.
For the most part, my life is the predictable life of a retired woman with a husband and children and grandchildren. If my life was hooked to a heart rate monitor, there would be a series of blips – all the same size.
It’s true, however, that Saturday would have caused the nurses and doctors to come running with the paddles.
Saturday was bound to be a busy day. Kaiya and Mylee were spending the day with me and Jen was coming mid-morning to spend the day and night so we could celebrate her birthday. I planned to prepare a yummy dinner and bake a special birthday cake. You know how you have these dreams of having a life like you see on Barefoot Contessa? Minus the big Hamptons house and the multitude of gay friends to bring spectacular bouquets of flowers and expensive wines.
Sometime in the middle of Friday night, I had a sit-up-suddenly-in-bed moment when I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to make the fancy, delicious, but complicated Braised Beef Shortribs in a Marsala Cream Sauce. Ina Garten would have been able to because she has staff. I had no staff coming that day, only a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old who I knew would want to help me cook – a practice I love, but I simply couldn’t imagine them working on a Marsala cream sauce.
So in the middle of the night, I came up with Plan B, a simple meal that could be prepared in its entirety after the girls went home.
To this end, I was at Whole Foods bright and early to purchase mussels and rib-eye steaks. A simple but delicious substitute for my elaborate Plan A.
It was at Whole Foods that my phone rang. Eleven-year-old Addie was looking for a way to get out of going to her brother’s flag football game. “Can I come over and hang out with you, Nana?”
Sure. Why not? The more, the merrier.
But my day was about to get a bit more complicated. When I went to pick up the two little girls, they opened the door, and the first words out of Kaiya’s mouth, quite literally, were, “Mom says you will help us make ice cream today. I want to make strawberry and Mylee wants to make chocolate.”
Now, I could, of course, say ice cream was a no-go due to scheduling conflicts, but honestly? After all, I’m the nana.
So we went to the grocery store to get strawberries, a chocolate bar, whole milk, and cream. They insisted on pushing the cart, and I, sadly, allowed it to happen. Sorry to the person with the little tiny dink in their side door. It was really, really little. Barely noticeable.
Addie was there when we got home and Jen arrived shortly after. Lunch was looming, and I hadn’t a thing to eat. Again, see above. No staff.
What do you want for lunch, I asked the girls. The predictable answer: Panda Express. I don’t know why I ask because they will always choose “Panda.”
So Mylee and I picked up five orders of Orange Chicken and we five girls sat at my kitchen table and ate our food as Addie told us the ins and outs of being a new middle schooler.
“You should all come to the carnival we’re having at school this afternoon,” Addie said. “I’m the face painter and I could paint Kaiya and Mylee’s faces.”
Kaiya and Mylee looked at me, and we were sooooo going to the Carnival. Jen – bless her heart — just went with the flow.
But before we went to any carnival, we were going to make the ice cream. I wasn’t going to have dinked that person’s car for nothing.
By time we got to the carnival, it was almost 3:30. The face painting line was long. And slow. And disorganized because, you see, it wasn’t run by the Disney Corporation. It was run by 11-year-old girls who didn’t know how to do crowd control. But Kaiya could not be dissuaded from getting her face painted. Addie was the painter, you see.
Finally, after standing in line for 45 minutes or more, Addie spotted us and came out and pulled us ahead of everyone else in line. In front of mothers who had been waiting with their darlings for longer than we. I made a half-hearted attempt to defer to others, but by this time our son was sending me texts saying “have you kidnapped our daughters and taken them to another country?”
In the meantime, Jen was walking around with Mylee, who had no interest whatsoever in getting her face painted. She chose the Cake Walk, but unfortunately never quite grasped the concept and emerged cakeless, but happily unpainted. Kaiya chose the Indian princess design….
We finally got home around 5 (after finally handing the girls off to their parents), and I had yet to make Jen’s birthday cake. She had chosen – randomly, I thought – a peach upside down cake. It involved making a caramel sauce, slicing fresh peaches, and grinding up pecans, but I did it quite happily because I love my sister and the cake looked delicious.
I had time for a glass of wine on our patio before beginning preparations for my easily-prepared dinner. Mussels, I have learned, are simple, simple, simple to make – especially once they are cleaned. So dinner took less than a half-hour to prepare. Plus, we are grown-ups, and we could eat sometime past 6 o’clock. We in fact didn’t sit down to eat until 7:30 or so. Grown-ups, remember?
We enjoyed our dinner, and the dessert was divine. Being grown-ups (see above), I put a little Grand Marnier into the whipped cream.
When I finally crawled into bed somewhere around 10, I told my husband it was the most tired I’ve ever been. Hyperbole, but good for dramatic effect.
This is the longest post I’ve ever written, and I probably lost you all somewhere between Panda Express and the Cake Walk. Still, it gives you a sense of what my life can be like on the days when I’m not sitting on my behind reading or watching Masterpiece Mysteries. I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, except for the dink in the door.