Friday, March 25, 2011

Torn and Tattered

Next month my Cookie is 4 years old. Sometimes while driving, I'll glance in the rear view mirror and be thrown at how much she has grown, at what a big girl she is. Last night while cuddling before bed, I became just a little verklempt. Cookie hung on to my neck and pushed her little head into my neck and told me she loved me and wanted to hug me forever. In that moment I knew that this closeness to my baby girl was fleeting, that one day she will push me away. That one day she will tell me to get out of her room, that she will roll her eyes at me and tell me I am annoying.

But, for now I still have my bossy, talkative, boisterous, fearless little girl who loves to sing and dance without a care in the world. A little girl who jumps headfirst into the deep end of the pool even though she can't swim, and expects and knows that it will be okay, that someone will be there to catch her from drowning. My tomboy who asks for dinosaurs and princesses for Christmas. The first one in her preschool class to brave the zip line, even though technically she is the youngest. She wears princess dresses and cowgirl boots. Prefers her clothes only be purple, and hates to have her hair brushed. Is in one breath super jealous of her sister, yet very giving at the same time. She will sing at the top of her lungs even though in reality, she can not carry a tune (something she gets from me). And of course the one thing in those four years that goes everywhere with her. That has been dragged through the mud, sleet, snow, dirt, water, and goodness knows what else. The item that we can't get out of her face, even for pictures, her blankie, or "Neh Neh" as she calls it.

I am afraid, okay maybe relieved, that Neh Neh will not last until her 4th birthday. It has been through some transformations since she attached to it at 4 months old. The yellow thermal receiving blanket started out quite large. She would drag it behind her, tripping herself as she went. Finally, fed up with it being so long, I cut it down (or I should say them...I bought three of the same blanket for her). Last year, I put most of them away to be used in a quilt I am making for her out of all her baby blankets...and left her with just three Neh Nehs, one to be used at a time while the other two were in the wash. Two have been lost in at Disneyland, the other who knows where.....and we are left with one. One tattered and torn lovey. Last month I noticed that it was so worn, that it looked as if it was disintegrating. Cookie of course has not helped poor Neh Neh's plight, she has pulled and twisted it until the edging I had sewn around it detached from the middle part. Then what was left was about a 6X6 in square, has been torn into two very thin strips. The two vestiges of her baby and toddler hood are going going going and will be gone as she reaches 4 and becomes a little girl.

Neh Neh is so small, so minuscule that she loses it about a dozen times a day. Hysteria ensues...because she knows that it might be gone forever, that she might have misplaced it for the last time. Am I ready for my baby, my toddler to become a little girl? Am I ready for the attitude, the emotional roller coaster that comes with girls, I think it is already too late.... her Neh Neh, is torn and tattered, she has outgrown it, although she is still holding on, like I am. But someday, too soon, it will be gone and so will my little baby girl.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meatballs-Beach House Style

Our last days at the beach house and I am working on clearing out the pantry. Tonight's menu was spaghetti and meatballs. Cookie asks for meatballs all the time. She loves ground beef in many different ways, and meatballs happens to be her favorite. I have been looking for the perfect meatball recipe, but so far it has alluded me...that is until today. Something about having to make due with what I have, to substitute for what I would normally use, has worked out in my favor. Five years of being married and trying my hand at cooking has helped. Below is my successful Meatball-Beach House Style recipe.

Meatballs-Beach House Style

1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup red onions chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Good Seasons Italian Dressing Seasoning prepared
1 egg
1/2 cup Ritz crackers crushed
salt to taste
pepper to taste

1 jar of Marinara Sauce (your choice, I used Barilla)
1 small can of tomato sauce
2 tbsps Olive Oil

1. Mix all ingredients together and then shape into balls. You can make as big or small as you desire
2. Heat Olive Oil in a frying pan. Brown Meatballs on all sides. Place onto bake safe pan. Pour sauces over the meatballs and bake until internal temp reaches 165 degrees. I baked at a low temp of 250 for about 2 hours...but I made them early in the afternoon, you could most likely turn up the heat and bake a shorter time. I also used a gas oven at sea level, so everything bakes faster and more evenly than my electric at home.