Sunday, February 26, 2012

Orange you glad I didn't say Avocado?

Clearly I have been unable to keep up with the demands of life and my blossoming writing career this week. In an attempt to make up for it, I am hoping to post twice today. Once during morning coffee, and once before bed. The second post will be dependent upon my ability to remain awake past 9:00pm. I don't want to combine the happenings of the last two weeks with the weekend outings and fun because, well... how much longer can these posts get before people lose interest completely?

Illness visited the farm over the last two weeks. Annabelle got her first cold, which I think we all handled very well. There was some confusion in the wee hours of the morning two Saturdays ago as to whether or not she had a fever.  I have decided that my thoughts on taking a baby's temperature are very similar to my thoughts on laundering, folding, storing, and putting on of baby socks.  The whole process needs improvement and accuracy is often sacrificed for my own sanity.

While I was certain Annabelle had a fever, I later realized the 101.3 temperature I believed she had was most likely due to operator error and was probably the reading from MY temperature from my last week of pregnancy.  Either way, a little Children's Tylenol wasn't going to kill her.  All I know is that there are many ways to take a baby's temperature but there is then a series of complicated to mathematical equations to arrive at her "true temperature."  So we put all the thermometers away and decided she had a cold and would most likely live.

Unfortunately Annabelle shared her cold with Bryan and I. Poor Bryan.  Since I have known Bryan, he has almost never gotten sick.  And after Annabelle and I joined him out here on the farm, he's been sick frequently.  I told him that Annabelle and I are like the Europeans discovering the New World and introducing disease to the American Indians.

Annabelle's cold lingered for about a week and a half. She does seem to be more aware of the world around her now. Annabelle HATES having her nose and face wiped.  The most traumatic part of her cold for her was having me constantly running after her with a Kleenex or washcloth to wipe her nose and face. She would scream and behave as though I was wiping her face with a gasoline-soaked rag.  So when I would blow my nose she would stare at me in utter amazement of the fact that I was not only tolerating the Kleenex on my face, but that I seemed relieved it was there.  Let the life lessons begin for Annabelle.

Along the lines of sickness, Bryan and I took ill as well. On top of our horrible colds, last Sunday we were the victims of food-poisoning.  Now I am told there is also a stomach flu circulating, and I suppose it is possible that was our affliction.  All I know is that last Sunday night Bryan made a wonderful dinner of grilled salmon, grilled asparagus, and wild rice. One hour and forty three minutes after finishing our dinner Bryan looked over at me and said "You look purple. Are you okay?" and I said "Well...I think so." knowing that I did NOT feel okay but did not want to hurt his feelings.  And then he asked again and I admitted that I did not feel so great and Bryan said "Neither do I." Two hours after that conversation that we were both scrambling for the one bathroom in our home...which is where both of us spend the next 12-16 hours. And after all of the violence of our illness ended we were left weak and dehydrated, unable to move...taking turns moaning and caring for our sweet Annabelle who remained unaffected by whatever was slowly killing her parents.

What no one tells you when you have a baby is that when you are sick you still have to take care of your baby. She will not go lay quietly in her room and read a novel while you lie on the bathroom floor begging your loved one to go get the .45 and put you out of your misery.

Another thing no one tells you is that when you are sick and the very idea of food makes you scramble for the bathroom (insert dog toenails on hardwood floor sound here) to heave into the toilet until your eyes are black and blue, you still have to feed your baby pureed Rutabagas.  I am lucky to have Bryan, he is much better in combat than I am, and he fed Annabelle her breakfast in the morning when we were still the the throws of the illness.  Later though, when it was my turn, and I grabbed that little frozen cube of took 3 seconds for me to say "No Rutabagas tonight, Annabelle. You're getting Pears."

I was  not so lucky either when I drew the short straw and had to go the nearest grocery store when we ran out of baby formula that night. I got in my car after spending hours throwing up, not bathing, no food or water for over 15 hours and drove my vehicle, delirious, to the nearest grocery store to get baby formula.  I pointed out to Bryan that if we lived in the city  the CVS pharmacy was 4 blocks away and I had friends that lived within minutes who would have helped us.  He wasn't interested in this information...and I still had to go to the store. Once I got to the store I had to go to the service counter where they keep the formula locked up. By the time I figured this out (actually I didn't figure out until after I grabbed a young stock boy by the elbow and sputtered "Baby Formula?" and he shakily pointed to the counter) I had passed the deli twice and was now dripping with sweat trying to keep myself from gagging and heaving while I asked for one can of formula.

When the manager handed it to me slowly, mostly likely trying to ascertain if I was a heroin addict attempting to steal formula to sell on the streets for drug money, I realized that Bryan bought the fish at this store.  So there I stood, dripping with sweat, braless, stinking of sick and God knows what else, in an orange sweatshirt that said CLINTONVILLE with the neck cut out of it (ala Flashdance), black yoga pants, Ugg slippers, and for good measure...fingerless gloves.  "Excuse me, I think you should know I look like this because my husband and I got food poisoning from salmon we bought from your store 2 nights ago."  The narration was met with a blank stare and silence.  This shrewd businesswoman was employing a sales tactic I learned early in my career.  Silence. People will always want to fill silence, so what did I do ? I kept talking.  "I mean, I think you should probably go check what is left and make sure no on else gets sick."  The woman smiled and said "Well I've never heard of such a  thing, what did you put it in?"  I couldn't begin to understand what she was talking about. "The Grill," I was incredulous, "We put it on the grill."  and she was still confused "But what did you cook it in?"  I lost my patience at this point. I was sick, sweating, and fed up with this country bumpkin not knowing what grilled salmon was. "Salmon. Grilled Salmon. Haven't you ever heard of grilled salmon?" I snapped.  She smiled and started giggling, "Oh, I thought you said CINNAMON."  it was at that point I sighed, took my receipt and my can of formula and left the Piggly Wiggly so I could return home to the couch.

The next day I was still unable to function normally and still hadn't eaten. But on the counter I had 3 ripened Avocados that was intended for Annabelle's dinner that day.  I personally do not care for avocados, or guacamole.  But I have made it my mission to make sure Annabelle tries a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, especially ones I don't like.  And avacados have a number of health benefits. 

Since I don't like them, I have no idea how to prepare them or what they are supposed to look like.  We tried to make her avacados a few days earlier and could barely cut it open, nor could we we mash it with a fork which everyone said you could do.  I did some googling and still couldn't figure out what the hell this thing was supposed to look like.  So, thankfully, I have a good friend and coworker who I knew would not make fun of me for being avocado-stupid.  And I still give myself credit for not just chucking it in the garbage and saying she didn't need avacados.  I packed it up along wit a knife and a container and brought my avocado to work.  I left it on the desk of a coworker and sent her an email that simply said "When you have time..."

She immediately informed me that my avocado was nowhere near ripe and that I needed to put it in a paper bag on the counter for a few days. I told her I had been keeping them in the fridge and she said they are like bananas and they won't ripen in the fridge.  I explained that I had these avocados in my possession for two weeks already and couldn't believe it wasn't ripe yet. I also couldn't believe that as a grown woman with a college education and a baby and had no idea what a ripe Avocado was supposed to look like.

As an interesting side note, the next day Bryan and I happened to watch an episode of "Good Eats" called  Apple Family Values which was all about apples.  We learned that apples give off more gas (pectin) than other fruits, so if you ever want to quickly ripen your other fruits or vegetables, you just place them in a bag with an apple, or place them near and apple and they will speed ripen.  And as it turns works and the avocados were ripe...just in time for me to prepare them while recovering from food poisoning.

Basically, I attempted to fork mash the avocados in advance, early in the morning so they would be ready for Annabelle's dinner that night.  Had I been able to add a little formula (or breastmilk) to them I think things would have been ok.  But I couldn't do that in advance, so I decided to puree the avocados in the blender like I do with her other foods and then just store them in the fridge. 

I happen to have a high-end commercial grade blender.  It cost more than one of my car payments and I purchased it from QVC while I was 8 months pregnant and hormonal deciding it would be the perfect appliance to make her babyfood with. As it turns out, I was right, but this blender is very loud and scary and sounds like a fighter plane landing in the kitchen.  I scraped the avocados in and switched it on...only to watch it fling the 3 avocados to the sides of the blender.  To remedy this problem I added liquid. I used some of the steamer water from the peaches I just made for her.  It seemed to help, so I continued to add more liquid.  By the time I was done and satisfied with the consistency of these avocados, I had successfully made avocado whipped topping for Annabelle.  I have no idea what happened, but these 3 avocados were the consistency of cool whip when I was done.

Again, I do not care for avacado.  And while they do not have a particularly strong fragrance, there is something very wrong about seeing them in cool whip form.  I grabbed a spatula and started to scrape them into her little containers and felt the bile start to rise in my throat.  "You can do this." I told myself.  I was determined that Annabelle will like all the foods I do not like.   But I was not convinced a whipped avocados were a good first food for Annabelle.  I decided I would let her daddy decide when he got home.  if he couldn't stomach them, well then they would go in the garbage chalked up to another lesson I learned that week.

When Bryan surveyed the avocado whip he determined the constinacey was probably not ideal for her new little mouth just yet. But of course, me being me, I left them in the fridge just in case. I learned that avocados are similar to bananas in two ways, they need to be left out to ripen...and they will turn brown if you leave them out too long.  Needless to say Annabelle did not get to try her avacados last week, and it will be a while before I try them again.

Before I leave you with you I will share one more positive outcome of the avacado and two weeks of sickness.  My friend and coworker who helped me understand how avocados work told me that when she was in college she and her roommate would use the avocado pit to grow a plant.  I was disappointed to learn that they will not in fact yield and avacado, but it will grow a nice plant.  So that is exactly what I decided to do.  I'm not a plant person and I'm not an avacado person, but here is day one of Annabelle's avocado plant.
Day 1

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