banh mi

That food truck festival left me craving banh mi sandwiches. Seriously, it is crazy how yummy that sandwich was. I can still taste it if I close my eyes, mmmmm. Anyway, instead of pining for it, I decided to try to recreate it. And of course with this goal in mind, Blue Apron has the same recipe as one of their meal selections. While I don’t subscribe to the service right now, I headed out to the grocer to buy the ingredients and whip it up.  What ensued was hilarious.

Overall the recipe was super simple. Since it is a sandwich you sort of create an assembly line for the eaters-to-be. First, I prepared the cucumber and carrot salad then the mayo then the slaw then the toasted breads. Once each of these was lined up in their serving bowl on the kitchen counter, I turned my attention to the chicken. Now the issue with Blue Apron is that they send you spices in the perfect amount. While I can copy their recipes, when it comes to the proportion of spices I have to wing it. We love a good spicy meal so I was quite heavy handed with my “copied” spice blend. I covered each piece of chicken with the blend and started to cook it up in the pan. Suddenly, Henry was sneezing and sneezing in the living room, David started coughing, my mom started to sneeze and cough. Then it hit me and finally all four of the dogs started to sneeze!  WAY TOO MUCH PEPPER got into the air. We were all suffering from this effect, eyes watering,  and sneezing uncontrollably. I turned on the vent and opened a window but the sneezing continued. We were very skeptical at this point about eating the sandwiches but found that they were actually quite delicious, if a bit too spicy. Thirty minutes after the meal we were still sneezing and Henry continued to sneeze even through his bath!  Clearly, the next time I make this we will use about 10% of the spice I originally thought was necessary.  And yes, I do plan to make these again sneezing or no! Hopefully I can convince the rest of the family to trust me again.

Ingredients:

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

2 Carrots

1 P Cucumber

¼ Head Red Cabbage

4 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar

3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce

2 Banh Mi Rolls (we used sub rolls)

2 Teaspoons Sesame Oil

1 Tablespoon Bánh Mí Spice Blend (Chinese 5-Spice, Galangal, Lemongrass Powder, Smoked Paprika & Cayenne Powder)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Peel and cut the carrot into thin matchsticks and cut the cucumber into thin circles. Thinly slice the cabbage leaves . In a small bowl, combine the hoisin sauce and mayonnaise. Completely coat the chicken in the bánh mì spice blend (this is where I went a little too crazy!). In a small pot, combine half the rice vinegar, ½ cup of water and a big pinch of salt. Heat to boiling on high. In a large, heat-proof bowl, combine a dash of the sesame oil, the carrots and cucumber. Once the pickling mixture is boiling, remove from heat and pour over the carrots and cucumber. Cover and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sliced cabbage, remaining sesame oil, half the hoisin-mayonnaise sauce and the remaining rice vinegar. Toss gently to mix and set aside. In a medium pan, add chicken and cook.   Slice the bánh mì rolls in half lengthwise. Place the sliced rolls on a small sheet pan (or directly on the oven racks). Toast 3 to 5 minutes, or until crispy on the outside and warmed through. Assemble sandwich to your particular liking and enjoy!!

food truck festival

Things have been a bit hectic here. My parents moved in while they await the completion of their home 6 miles away. And, we are helping them sort out a bit of paperwork and some home-selling bumps! In order to give everyone a break from the whirlwind this has presented, we decided to take a little short break on Saturday morning before having to dive back in.I don’t know why but everyone seems to love food trucks! The meals are cheap, trendy, and delicious.  Not to mention the trucks always seem to have the cutest names like Chubby Chickpea, Insane-wiches, or Tipsy Taco. On Saturday our suburban community gathered on the common for the Metrowest Fest: a food truck festival combined with live music, bounce houses for kids, and a craft fair. The weather could not have been more perfect. When the sun came out it felt like a warm Summer day and when it hid behind the clouds a cool, crisp Fall breeze came through. The event started at 11AM and was bound to be a zoo, so we decided that since we have our little man it would be best to drive over and find parking early. We arrived around 10:45 and the whole space was ours for the perusing.

 

Instantly my parents knew that they wanted to check out the Lobstah Roll Truck. We were their first order at exactly 11AM. It looked delicious and my parents confirmed that indeed it was just as tasty as it appeared.

David is super lucky. At work each day of the week, one of these scrumptious food trucks parks at the end of the road by his office. So while all these places were new to me, they were old hat for him. Bahn Mi is a truck that David always raves about so I rushed there.

The sandwich was FANTASTIC!  I seriously could eat it everyday. The meat was tender and the sauces nuanced. The bread was toasted perfectly and I only wish I had another one!

We also sampled truffle fries, limeades, bacon grilled cheese, and calamari before we decided that we needed to take a little breather and walk around the craft fair. By then, it was starting to fill in and we were so happy we were able to see our friends: Joe, Nikki, Christine, Carl, Maryellen, Dan, Jill, Jordan, Karyn, Ernie & Annabelle there too!

David climbed the steps of the football stadium to take this above shot, do you see us?

But before we headed home completely full, we stopped at Frozen Hoagie for a sweet finish to a delicious morning. Now some of us are napping as a result of this food fest.

 

sleep deprivation: it’s real

Remember when I posted about how Henry was a sleep champion? Yea….that’s over. Our little man has decided that he is no longer sleepy and much more interested in the world around him. Of course, this was inevitable but it is still a little sad to say good bye to those beautiful long 4 and 5 hour sleep stretches. Now, I am thrilled if we get 2 hours of consecutive sleep! The decline of sleep coincided with my return to work. Isn’t that how it always goes?  I am left wondering why this is and how exactly this can be “corrected” (if it can).

Really, I just wish I had enough energy to observe our situation more. With Henry, we have discovered that if we observe him and really watch his cues, we are usually able to “crack” the code. Unfortunately, I am just SO tired. It wasn’t so bad after the first week of sleep deprivation but now heading into our third week of inconsistent sleep, I feel it in my bones. My mind is in a perpetual cloud. Things hurt that I never knew could hurt so badly, like my lumbar, my neck, and eyelids. Yes, my eyelids actually hurt, probably because those eyelid muscles are working so hard to keep my eyes open, right? In the middle of the night when Henry cries, my initial thought is, “Whose baby is crying?” Then once the sleep fogs lifts a bit I realize where I am.  But, it is always so funny to me that I forget in my delirious sleep state.

It is amazing how many “second winds” you get in a single day. Just when I think I cannot stop myself from falling head over heels to the ground for a snooze wherever it is I am standing in that moment, then a surge of wild energy hits. Clearly, it is this wild energy that has sustained parents throughout generations of sleepless babies. But you have to be careful about this energy. It fades as quickly as it arrives and while it fades you may find that your mind, thoughts, and speech, which seem sharp one minute, turn to mush the next. Sitting with my advisees, I ask, “Who attended the leadershit conference this year?” Laughing their heads off, they ask, “What!??” and I reply, “What?” Yup, I had no idea that my mouth had forsaken me and in trying to retrieve the correct vocabulary misfired swapping a “t” for a “p”.  There I was thinking I was asking a clear question and starting up a nice dialogue when in fact my body was shutting down and there was nothing I could do to stop it!

Even David is walking around in a zombie-like trance. One minute he is awake on the couch cuddling Henry and the next he too is resting his eyes. So what do we do? Seriously, what do we do? Yes, this phase will pass and as my friend noted: David and I will get accustomed to living and operating “light and lean.” But, I wonder if the issue stems from Henry’s swaddle a.k.a. his sleep crutch. He might be in limbo right now.  He seems to still want to be swaddled in order to fall asleep but he also is fighting against the swaddle.  His startle reflex is still very apparent though and leaving his arms out free wakes him. I think we need to wean Henry from his swaddle and get him to a place where he can fall asleep without his baby straight jacket. And…..we need to practice this whole, “lay baby down while sleepy and not asleep” so that he learns how to put himself to sleep and isn’t also dependent on swinging and swaying. So fellow parents, can you have mercy on the weary and share your sleep tips or advice?

ménage à trois: me, caffiene, & sleep deprivation

Monday night I felt very prepared for school. Henry had been sleeping for 4-5 hour stretches, I had packed up my bags to make the morning departure go smoothly, and David and I even spent a few minutes just the two of us to connect and reflect before the hustle and bustle of the school year commenced. Then the week went like this:

Tuesday 1AM, 2AM, 3AM, 4AM, 5AM: Henry decides to boycott sleep and/or he was worried I would not wake up for my alarm and wanted to make sure I was up and ready to go.  Nothing says, “Let’s get this party started” like of sleepless night, right?

Tuesday 6:30AM-7:40AM: The usual 25 minute commute is endless as everyone in the 20 mile stretch to school decides to hit the road early for the first day of school.

Tuesday 8AM-12PM: A blur of classes, students, faculty, lessons, meetings, emails, and trying to speak coherently after spending the summer mostly in the company of 4 people or less. Oh, yea….and I have to pump for baby Henry A LOT.  So also I spent time running in and out of the Nurse’s Office and then trying to relax enough when in there in order to accomplish this task. And, of course I wore a dress on the first day in order to look “fabulous” which meant pumping was an interesting procedure. Note to self: No more dresses.

Tuesday 12-2PM: Try to call my mother for an update, as this is the first day I am totally away from home, but her phone keeps going to voice mail. Usher in PANIC, SWEAT, and  calling her number over and over again. Is everyone alive?

Tuesday 3PM: See that our friend and neighbor has been able to knock on the door and confirm that everyone is indeed alive and fine and my mom plugs her phone in. Whew!

Tuesday 3:30PM-4:30PM: slow go through traffic all the way home.

Tuesday 4:30-9:00PM: Soak up as much of my family time as possible. Seeing Henry at the end of the day is the BEST! I cannot get enough of that little man’s smell, smile, cuddles. Also, I shed a few tears because I am so happy to see him and so happy the day went so well at home for him. And really I am just an emotional person these days anyway.

Wednesday 12AM, 2AM, 4AM: Henry is no longer worried about me missing my alarm and extends his sleep from every hour to every two hours. It is amazing how “highly functioning” one can be with so few hours of sleep. I guess it is all about lowering one’s standards for “functioning.”

Wednesday 6:30AM-7:20AM: Tons of traffic yet again. I am looking forward to when everyone collectively starts to sleep in or snoozes their alarms and I can perhaps squeak by ahead of the traffic cluster.

Wednesday 8AM-2:15PM: Another whirlwind of classes, students, emails, pumping, and trying to do all of this without breaking a sweat in the crushing heat that has enveloped Boston. Somehow all of this is done today with less of the “teacher crust” of yesterday. While I am definitely not in my groove, teaching is starting to feel comfortable again. It is like breaking in a pair of jeans after they have stiffened up from the dryer.

Wednesday 2:30PM-3:30PM: Take a walk down memory lane with the senior class.  As they prepare to apply for college, we teachers share stories from our college years. It was pretty great hearing my co-workers’ stories and having the opportunity to share my own. Go BC!

Wednesday 3:30PM-3:50PM: Drive fairly smoothly to Natick and decide to pull into the Starbucks drive-thru for a treat. This was my guiltiest cup of coffee ever! I wanted to head home to Henry but I also wanted an afternoon pick me up so I could feel alive and present during my time with Henry. I justified the pit stop by noting this Starbucks was a drive thru.

Wednesday 4:10PM: Arrive home and snuggle Henry.  Immediately realize I left all of my pumping gear and all of Henry’s milk back at school! Panic sets in and I realize that despite my cool exterior, my mind is complete mush. And the consequence is: Henry will starve tomorrow.

Wednesday 5:00PM-7:30PM: Pack everyone up in the car and drive all the way back to school to retrieve the much needed items. As an “I am so sorry for ruining everyone’s night,” I treat David and my mom to dinner in the area to break up the long commute in the car. Finally arrive back home and feel like crashing but it is time to get in that quality time with Henry so I postpone fatigue until later.

Thursday 1AM, 4AM: Ah Henry is heading back towards his more reasonable sleep schedule just in time for the end of the school week. Fingers crossed

Thursday 6:30AM-7:10AM: Even the commute this morning is being more cooperative!

Thursday 8AM-12:30PM: Being in school feels more “normal.”  Starting to feel more confident in the classroom and more capable around pumping. Work-Life balance is coming more into focus…for now, I think.

Thursday 12:30PM: Head over the Keurig machine in the faculty room because yesterday’s drama revealed I need a shot of caffeine before I head home and see that someone has left a “pumpkin spice” capsule in the machine. Deliriously excited, I open the cabinet to retrieve one  of these special k-cups only to see that this flavor is non-existent.  Some sneaky, smarty pants brought it in for themselves and now I am incredibly jealous. Left to drink the usual k-cup, I return to my classroom to await the last class of the day.

Thursday 3:00PM: A moment of peace and calm after checking for the 100th time that I have everything I will need when I leave campus. I do not think my nerves could handle another mishap like yesterday. Finally settle into some lesson planning in an attempt to “get ahead” of the weekend pile up.

Thursday 3:30-4:10PM: An uneventful drive home and the first night where alongside snuggling up with our little man and giving him our undivided attention we are also trying to prep dinner (remarkable that this is the first time this week we have to do that!). Thankfully it is taco night.  Not that this isn’t work, but taco night is usually an easy kitchen night!  Definitely thanking “past Melissa” for her smart meal planning for this first week back to teaching.

Thursday 5PM-9PM: Family time to the max!

Friday 1:30AM: Oh my goodness, the little man sleeps for 5 hours without interruptions and now I am sleep drunk from all the extra Zs.

Friday 5:00AM: My alarm and not the little man wakes me up.  Have we finally fallen into some semblance of “normal”?  I don’t want to jinx us but this would be a very very VERY nice routine.  Let’s replicate this again okay, Henry?

Friday 8:00AM-2:15PM: Despite some scheduling mishaps on my part (Need to remember to double check the uploaded homework assignments) the day goes fairly smoothly. It is topped off by a visit from David and Henry to the ice cream social before Henry’s 2 month check-up.

Friday 4:00PM: Henry had his 2  month check-up and vaccines. We all took guesses for his weight and height but we missed the mark. That’s right we all underestimated our little man’s monthly growth. Henry is not 13.11lbs and 24.75in!  He also did not like his vaccines.  His cries were heart-breaking

Friday 5:00PM: Lots and Lots of snuggles all around.

And so it goes, the successful conclusion of our first week. It is amazing how a 4 day work week could feel like it was actually 8 full days of work and running around. Yet,  we all survived and it can only get better from here, right?

rose kennedy greenway

Kaelin came to visit us in Boston for a week and on Saturday the three besties took “Bestie Fest 2014, the summer edition” to the Rose Kennedy Greenway.  Of course, Mr. Henry joined us for our outing as well.  When we started school in Boston (shhh about 10 years ago), the greenway didn’t exist. Instead it was a massive construction site full of concrete madness. The promise of the greenway loomed over future Boston but it never seemed like the plan would be actualized. Nevertheless, it opened in bits and pieces and now is a beautiful series of parks that line Atlantic Avenue. We made our way there in order to snack on some food truck delights and walk about the little market of local artisans. It was a beautiful cool, crisp, and sunny afternoon. Henry was in stellar form and our reunion was thoroughly enjoyed! It was the perfect outing for a new baby and a bunch of best friends looking to reconnect over a easy stroll and ice cream sandwiches!

sleep champion & scared parents

Henry is a sleep champion! It didn’t seem this way when he was first born though. That first night in the hospital after giving birth to him at 9PM, the nurse left us in our room two hours later and we were alone. Completely alone with this little person whom we knew “nothing” about and who was belligerent about having left the warm, dark world he had come to know. David and I sat in that room clueless. I remember feeling totally helpless as this little screaming baby turned red in my arms and I frantically tried to comfort him. Babies I had babysat for always seemed to like x, y, and z but then they were always older than two hours and none of my “tricks” worked. We had to start from scratch with this little guy and our first impression was not one of capable parents! That was the longest night ever. Yet, very quickly our sleepless, upset baby changed into a sleep champion.

By the time we took Henry home from the hospital he was sleeping like clockwork. Every two hours he was up to eat and was quick to soothe and put back to sleep. This two hour pattern though tiring was predictable and it is amazing how quickly you get use to sleeping in two hour shifts. In some ways it even felt luxurious. This pattern lasted until Henry was 4 weeks old and was coupled with long, long stretches of daytime naps. It use to always boggle my mind when people used the phrase “slept like a baby.”  Babies don’t sleep well! That is why there are all those TV shows and movies showing exhausted new parents comically stumbling about. And, all those baby sleep books that line the shelves of Barnes & Noble capitalize on providing hope and advice to new parents whose bags under their eyes drag to the floor. Henry, though, seemed to be in some sleep stupor. Perhaps this was the fourth trimester some have indicated exists for the select few?  Whatever it was, we were happy to get a little “regular” sleep even if it was in short segments.

At five weeks old, we held our breath.  This would be the moment when everything changed, no? Henry would suddenly wake up and become fussy and restless and inconsolable. We had pressed our luck long enough and now it was time to pay up with our precious sleep. Somehow Henry didn’t get the cranky message!! Instead, five weeks marked elongated sleep patterns and changes to his naps. Henry started to sleep the fabled long stretch. From around 8:30PM to 1:30AM, he slept solidly. Then again from 2AM-4:30AM and again from 5AM-6:30AM. WHAT!?!?  How is this possible. His naps are little shorter in the day now too: 9AM-11AM, 2PM-3PM, 6PM-7PM and then bed time. All week long, he followed this pattern (give or take 30 minutes). While this is the most amazing pattern we could ask for, it feels like we are walking on eggshells. It will stop, we keep telling ourselves. It will end, it will change, it will disappear, it will turn into the sleepless madness that is more universally experienced by babies all around the world, no? Sunday night we had a glimpse of this horror. Henry did not sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. All night long, I fed him, cuddled him, changed his diapers, and swayed him back and forth. He would only sleep if he lay beside me in bed and I thought in a tearful moment that this was our forever future. And, I was “okay” with it, as it was inevitable and we held it off as long as we could.

Then last night, his predictable pattern seemed to return! Maybe the previous night was a fluke, or maybe it was a growth spurt, or maybe we will never know what it was. David and I are a little scared to see nights like that again and we are hoping that this sleep champion continues to impress us. It isn’t anything we are doing that is for sure, so hopefully this balanced, calm stays within Henry and sleep stays in our house. Fingers Crossed.