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Everybody's an Expert

If there is one thing that must be done when the Big Kid is busy at a friend's house, it's shop.

Listen, I love shopping with the kid. She is a fantastic little person to spend time with always, but definitely when it comes to walking through the mall. It warms my bargain hunter heart to watch her learn how to navigate the racks to find the best deals. In fact, she recently reached the stage where she has learned to check the price before deciding if she likes something. "This dress is cute, but it's not $50 cute," she'll say before moving to another rack.


I get really tired of saying the word "no." Alexis is in a phase where she throws all of the darts at the board and hopes one will stick. I know she doesn't want that shirt and is only asking so that when she asks for the next thing, I might be more likely to go with it. It's ... exhausting.

With Alexis happily occupied, I grabbed Mila and ran to the Outlets. Mila doesn't ask for much in life. Thus, she's currently a really outstanding shopping partner.


On this particular outing, I had a mission. I am at that awkward post-baby phase where stuff doesn't fit but I don't want to spend money on clothes that won't fit for long. Sadly, I can't go out in public naked. I need to find a few super bargains to get by. I figured I might get lucky at the Gap Outlet since clearance was an additional 40% off this past weekend.

I dashed into the store and began hunting. A pair of capris for $8? Workable. A dress for $12? Sure. How about a pair of $12 shorts and maybe some $18 jeans? OK!

But I needed to try the things on. I truly have no idea what size anything is right now. As luck would have it, Mila was due to eat at about that time, so I set up the fitting room cafe and then prepared to try on some clothes.

But Mila was mad.

Her belly was full. Her diaper was clean. The only other reason she fusses is when she's mad that she's awake. There's not much I can do about that. She has to stop being mad, close her eyes, and everybody is happy. The key there is that SHE has to stop being mad. SHE. She holds the power. Nothing anyone does can make her snap out of her angry spell, so I've learned to just roll with it on the rare days that it happens. She's safe. Nothing is bleeding. After 5-10 minutes, she'll go to take a deep breath and forget why she was screaming. While she tries to remember, she'll fall asleep. The problems solve themselves.

With all of this in mind, I went ahead and started trying clothes on with a screaming Mila safely tucked in her stroller. I paused every minute or so to offer her a pacifier and all of that, but each attempt at assisting with the problem solving was met with more anger.


I could have given up and just left, but ... no. I drove an hour to get to that store and I was determined to at least try to find something wearable.

Mila was fine. Just screamy.

A few minutes later, I had a couple of successes and a couple of failures. I put the failures back on a rack. All the while, Mila sat in my arms expressing her anger at the world for making her have her eyes open. In my arms, in the stroller, it didn't matter. SHE WAS AWAKE WHYYYYYYY OH WHYYYYYYYY.

Whatever. Babies cry.



Apparently not everyone has been a part of this rodeo before and realizes that sometimes babies need to figure things out for themselves. I noticed the employee staring at the spectacle that was Awake Mila and Her Crazy Caravan as soon as we walked out of the fitting room. She hadn't stopped staring. In fact, she was following us around the store to stare.


But, whatever.

I said "hi" and smiled as I walked toward the register.

Mila continued to grump.

There was no line, so I quickly paid and walked towards the door.

Mila continued to grump.

The Staring Staffer walked over. "You should really do something about that," she said.

"Have a nice day," I said as I walked out the door.

I took five steps, Mila inhaled, and then fell asleep before she could exhale.

Of course.


Don't Want to Miss a Thing

Part of Mission Keep Alexis from Realizing this is the Most Boring Summer Ever has been setting her up for fun with friends. It's hard to be bored when surrounded by your besties. That has led to multiple sleepovers.

Multiple in one weekend, even.

Anybody want to tell her how crazy fortunate she is? She doesn't believe me. Instead, I hear "Can I sleep over again?" It's as if the kid prefers to sleep anywhere but at home. If she must sleep at home, she wants company. (Least shocking fact ever? Least shocking fact ever.)

I remember being the same way. The difference is that I never wanted to sleep at my house, not even if there were friends joining me.

The other difference is that I never worried about what I might have missed. I knew the answer was "nothing" so I didn't bother to ask. Alexis, on the other hand, thinks about these things.

This past weekend was the beginning of cheer season, which meant that Alexis had to report for yelling and clapping at ARE YOU KIDDING ME o'clock. I'm not the only one who isn't a fan of delivering a kid somewhere early on a weekend, so a friend's mom and I made a deal. She took one night/morning, we took the other. Two sleepovers in two nights.

Through it all, Alexis ended up at her friend's house for a whole 24 hours. Not that long ago, that would have left her needy and whiney and all up in my business, but she's older and more mature these days. She didn't even call me.

Which, the hell? Who told the kid she was allowed to grow up enough to not need me for an entire day? BLURGH.

At the conclusion of the 24 hours, I expected a chatty, excited Alexis to be all sorts of interested in everything I was doing. I figured she would be attached to my hip and ready for all kinds of attention.

I was wrong.

Instead, she was all up in Mila's business. She kissed the Tiny Human on the top of the head, chatted to her for several minutes, and generally smothered her with love. Then, Alexis turned to me with a worried look on her face.

"Mom, did she laugh yet?" she asked.

"Nope," I replied. "Not yet." I had explained to Alexis that Mila's first laugh might be weeks away, but it could happen any time now. There's no predicting it.

Alexis' face lit up as she retorted, "Good. I don't want to miss anything she does."

I totally and completely agree.


Grilled Tofu, Avocado, and Corn Tacos

For the most part, everybody in our house eats what I make for dinner and is happy about it. There are occasionally complaints, and sometimes people have to work around an ingredient they find less than wondrous (For example, mushrooms. OMG do mushrooms bring out the drama around here.), but they get what they get and they don't throw a fit.

It's a good thing. I tried being a short order cook in high school. I was really bad at it.

As a sort of "thank you" for generally being awesome about trying things and eating most anything, I like to make random "assemble it yourself" meals. Each person gets to choose their own adventure when given a variety of ingredients.

Tacos are good for that sort of thing.

Especially grilled tacos.

That's my adventure. It's grilled tofu, avocado, corn, and red peppers topped with queso fresco (a type of Mexican cheese that crumbles like feta -- most grocery stores seem to have it).

Give Alexis control and she's adding zucchini and cherry tomatos, but kicking the cheese to the curb. The husband, on the other hand, is throwing everything plus the kitchen sink on his taco.

It's cool. Throw a bunch of stuff on the grill and everyone can have their way.

The tofu, grape tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini do well on skewers. Everything else gets wrapped in foil. There's an ear of corn, a white onion, jalapeño peppers, and an avocado wrapped on the grill.

10 minutes of prep work and then everyone makes their own dinner. Easy.

Grilled tofu
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
Cilantro (Need some? I have TONS. It seeded itself all over my garden. I'm considering it a weed at this point.)

1. Place the cubed tofu, olive oil, lime juice, and cilantro in a large ziplock bag and shake it all up. Allow it to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

2. Place the tofu on skewers.

3. Grill for approximately 10-15 minutes, turning the skewers as the tofu browns. Cooking time will vary wildly since no two grills were created equal. In other words, stand there and watch it so you don't burn anything.

Grilled corn
Corn on the cob
Olive oil

1. Brush olive oil on the corn, sprinkle paprika on top, and wrap in aluminum foil.

2. Grill for approximately 10-15 minutes. It's done when you start to see light brown spots and the corn kernels soften.

3. To use the corn on the cob in tacos, just run a knife along the cob while holding it over a large bowl.

Everything else
If your grill is dirty/sticky/not very good at the nonstick thing, brush olive oil on your other vegetables. We get away with placing the veggies on the grill without oil because some people around here are awesomely OCD about keeping the grill clean.