Wednesday, June 7, 2017

And so the summer begins . . .

My guy with his two bags.
The dog is photo bombing him.
This morning, my husband set off for his trip to Russia.  He had a giant box with his bike (disassembled); he also had two other small bags.  It's so, so odd to see him pack so light; he usually has so much stuff he looks like he'd fall over carrying it.  But since he's got to pedal all his belongings from the port of Odessa up to the bridge in Finland, he's packing minimalist. (Or, as N-son remarked:  "he's packing like Mom!").

I'm super happy that he gets to have this trip, which has been a lifelong dream of his.  It's been fun watching him plan for it.  My friends ask me, "aren't you worried about his safety?".  It's hard to know how to answer the question, because my guy is an ADHD adrenalin junky who values courage over safety.  I mean, he *might* wreck or get mugged or something . . . but he'd prefer trying this adventure and having spectacular disasters to not trying at all, so "safety" isn't the thing that either of us are particularly obsessed about.

To people who know me well enough (meaning, who know me at all), when they ask "aren't you worried about his safety?", I answer "No, I worry that he'll spend too much money!".    But even that isn't true; I just say it to make people laugh.  I figure he *will* spend way more money than I would have, and even way more money than he planned to.  But he does that even when he's not riding across far-flung continents with unfamiliar alphabets, so I'm pretty much inured to that.

It's hard to take a good photo with a baby, a dog,
and three other people.
Mostly, I'm just missing him already, and girding myself for a summer of solo parenting.  This solo parenting, I've done before as well.  With our sons, I know the manifold challenges that go with extra time and fewer chaperones.  Boredom leads to trouble -- sometimes very serious trouble -- with these kids, so we began our time together this evening with a calendar meeting, carefully filling up our time for the next few weeks with worthwhile distractions.

Before our meeting, I whipped up a healthy dinner of Asian tofu salad.  We've been eating a lot of meat lately, but only because my kids really like eating meat.  Well, because of that and because my husband has been doing the cooking.  But my husband is now hundreds of miles from the stove and getting further away by the minute, and I believe in my heart of hearts that children ought to eat what's good for them instead of what they like.

Nope, still didn't capture the crowd.

Plus, I don't want to do all of the cooking.  So as they made faces over the tofu salad, I promised my children more of the same unless others were willing to take over the cooking.  As a result, we've agreed that Thursday K-daughter will make a pasta-sausage salad, Friday N-son will serve up hamburgers and potatoes, and Saturday J-son's omelettes will feed the family.

In 2009, when my husband spent the year in Iraq, I learned to appreciate the value of having a "sabbatical" from my marriage.  I had a dozen months of valuable Alone Time.  I could go kick-butt frugal, unplugging the dryer and cable and eating only Miser-Mom approved foods, ditching all disposable paper products, heading to bed early each winter's night under loads of blankets in a cool dark house.  (Back in 2009, I only had one son, and he was much younger, so I had even more power over the household than than I will these next few weeks). But even while I got to appreciate living a truly Me kind of life, I discovered that I really did miss having my husband around.  This was a good discovery, and remembering how much I missed him made even the years after, when he was back, all that much sweeter.

For now, I just miss my guy.  And I've got an eye on my kids.  And I'm looking for a few more good tofu recipes.


  1. How do they feel about sea vegetables? I really like this seaweed-celery-tofu (skin) stir-fry:
    I used tofu skin in there, but I've also made it with regular diced tofu, and it's good that way too.

    1. I'll have to try this. They actually all really liked the sauce and the vegetables, they just *really* didn't like the texture of the tofu. I think that's part unfamiliarity, part peer pressure.

      But at dinner tonight, when I announced that I had a new seaweed tofu recipe I might try, K-daughter said, "I can't tell if you're joking or not . . . ", which to me means that I need to break out the tofu again, although maybe not next week, because I don't want to overwhelm them.

    2. My husband didn't like the texture of tofu at first. We find it helps to drain well and even press to really get the liquid out. I let my tofu drain overnight, wrapped up in clean washcloths or cheesecloth. Then, we cut into small pieces and crisp up by pan-fying, almost, in olive oil or coconut oil, depending on the flavor profile of the dish.

    3. This is good to know, in case I ever want to help my family like tofu. But actually, what I really want is to give my kids a reason to cook meals themselves! And maybe crunchy tofu would subvert that goal . . . I have to tread carefully here . . .

  2. You could add tofu to one of my favorite summertime recipes. It's a bean salad. Marinate any veggies you like raw (broccoli, onions, garlic, bell pepper, etc etc) in some vinegar (whichever type you like the taste of -- red wine is my favorite) and olive oil. Drain and rinse some cans of beans (again, whichever you like -- kidney and red for me). Throw in, mix to coat, and season to taste. Super flexible. I'll put in some pieces of grilled chicken if I want meat. Tofu that's been crisped up would likely be good too. Or without tofu is obviously fine -- plenty of protein in the beans. It's super yummy and forgiving to variation.

    1. Sounds delicious! I'm planning to break out the beans soon, and a cool bean salad sounds like it'll be great (since next week, temps ought to be in the 90s for several days in a row).