Tuesday, July 29, 2014

All's Well that Ends Well

We had an adventure over the weekend. It didn't go as planned (one of us had a mental ideal - the other was cautiously optimistic) but it was lovely nonetheless.

On Friday afternoon, we packed our bags and drove the hour to Hot Springs for a military marriage retreat. Brooklyn promptly won the heart of one of the childcare girls, who made it her especial task to carry her around and look after her, the first session was enlightening, and they let out early so we were able to go for a walk through the old, pretty part of the town and get gelato (to be eaten by the flickering light of fireflies on a park bench) before we picked up Brooklyn. We tucked her into her pack 'n' play with her fuzziest pink blanket for comfort and snuggled up under a down comforter...

...for two hours, until Brooklyn woke us (and everyone else in our wing, and probably the floors above and below us) with bloodcurdling, hysterical screams. She wasn't hungry, she wasn't wet, she didn't seem to be in physical pain --- but she refused to go back to sleep, even while being held. Out of ideas, we walked downstairs, got Adam's truck (the valet was very kind and understanding, and hoped she would fall asleep for us), and went for a drive. When we got back, she woke up and was fine until we got back to our room. Adam insisted that I go to bed, and he took her down to the lobby to walk around.

He turned back up a few hours later with coffee and an apology. "I am so sorry. I have so much respect for you and what you go through staying home with her, and I am amazed by how much you get accomplished during the day, and by your ability to remain cheerful. I hope you were able to get a little rest - I told the lady at Starbucks what happened, and she put extra chocolate in your mocha."

Half-delirious though we all were, we enjoyed our morning, and a walk over our lunchbreak to a knitting shop we'd spotted the evening before. (Further confirmation of my belief that Knitters are Nice People: the owner put down her knitting and dug through a small basket of knitted ornaments, in order to find a ball that Brooklyn could delightedly carry around while I briefly browsed.)

After a failed afternoon nap, we decided that in the interest of our sanity and safe-driving-ability, we should probably just come home. So we did. I gave Brooklyn a bath and put her to bed, she slept for 10 hours straight, and we were able to go to church together the next morning.

After church we went by the grocery store for a few essentials --- and makings for Adam's amazing baked wings - they're gluten free, dairy free, fairly non-messy to eat, and a perfect food for parties and potlucks. Recipe, as promised!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a rimmed baking sheet by drizzling it with a little olive oil. Crush up 4 ounces of chips (this time we used Plentils. We grab whatever's in the cabinet, being neglected and/or about to go stale, so we've also used all flavors of Lay's Stacks and tortilla chips, I think Doritos at one point... sometime I'd like to try Funyuns) and combine with 3/4 cup of rice flour. Season (we used Simply Organic seasonings, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper, 1 teaspoon each of all seasons salt, garlic salt, and garlic powder, and 2 teaspoons each of minced onion and lemon pepper. Adjust seasonings to personal taste and to compliment whatever chips you used. If you use red pepper, stir it into the chip/flour mixture first, then add the other spices, to ensure that it's evenly distributed). Combine 4 eggs and 1 cup of milk (we used plain almond milk, for a dairy-free version) in a small bowl and coat 3lbs of bone-in chicken (we used wings - you could do whatever you wanted, but might need to adjust the cooking time) as follows: dunk each piece in the egg mixture, then roll in the chip coating, place on baking sheet, and put a thin pat of butter on each one (again, we used vegan butter - whichever you use, this helps create a seal so that your meat is juicy inside and crisp outside). Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

We make these in massive batches because they reheat really well, but you could easily half the recipe for less leftovers or a smaller crowd.

They've been repaving the highway that runs in front of our complex - for the most part working on it (very efficiently!) at night when they won't cause traffic problems, but lately they've been having to work by day which has everything backed up. Being me, I seized the opportunity of being in park for an indefinite period of time to redeem that time by knitting - which is really a reflection of our entire weekend. A shortened trip, a baby who refused to sleep, sitting stuck in traffic... those things don't necessarily sound good when you just tell them as they happened. But there's always the option of looking at it from the perspective of a better outcome --- coming home early meant getting to attend church and spend some time at home together, being up for most of the night with Brooklyn gave Adam and I hours of talking that we wouldn't otherwise have had and provided him with what he calls "a chance to serve you," and that time in traffic was perfect for praying and knitting, talking to Brooklyn in the back seat and listening to a composition of Tchaikovsky's in its entirety. 

If we were in control of our lives, how much worse they would be, with our efforts directed at making every moment reasonably-not-unpleasant --- by sacrificing the growth that comes from conflict (be that with another person or a battle within yourself) and the ultimate joy of full restoration and redemption that follows.

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