Monday, March 8, 2010


My in-law share the same birth date, but they are a few years apart. Last Thursday was their birthday and my father in-law turned 90. When they came to dinner yesterday, I asked him if we could officially call him "old." His response, "Call me anything, but don't call me late for dinner." When you're 90, you apparently dig to the bottom of the joke barrel for the ancient ones.

We decided to make something simple for dinner we knew his parents would really enjoy, so Tom made a meatloaf and dill mashed potatoes. I made haricot verts (French green beans) with bacon, roasted stuffed zucchini and the country gravy for the meatloaf. We fed them some steamed cold shrimp and Asian Turkey Meatballs while we prepped the rest of the meal.

The day, of course, did not go on without a hitch. It was more like a fiasco.

I was not feeling well Saturday, so I didn't make the chocolate flan cake I had planned, but I thought I could probably get it done Sunday after church. I got busy in the morning, making the meatballs and Tom cooked the shrimp. We went to church, came home and started back in on the prep.

By one o'clock I was a little behind and knew I wasn't going to get to the cake so I asked Tom if he would mind going over to Kroger and getting a cake. After he had just pulled out of the driveway, I realized I left my phone in my purse and as I walked through our bedroom doorway... SQUISH ... SQUISH ...after two steps into the room I realized the rug was wet and looked down and saw that it was not just wet, but saturated with water. I could hear the toilet running and stepped into the bathroom, which was flooded, and jiggled the toilet handle. I heard the plug in the tank set and when the water finally stopped running, I ran to the garage to get a mop and bucket, grabbing the phone on the way. When Tom answered, I said, "Come back home right now! The toilet is leaking and there is water everywhere!"

In less than a minute, Tom was back home. He took over the clean up, removing rugs and piling them in a basket in the garage, soaking up the water with a large sponge and the mop, while I ran to the linen closet and pulled out all of our old towels and began laying them down on the floor in the hallway and inside the doorway of the bedroom. The water had flowed all the way down to the opposite end of the hallway in front of the guest bathroom. Luckily, we have not finished tiling or installing wood floors because the tile installed in the entry way, the guest bath and the kitchen is a tile's width higher than the rest of the cement floors and that helped capture the water and kept it from flowing into the living room and dining area.

Later, after the cleanup, Tom headed back to Kroger for the cake and I went back to making the stuffing for the zucchini. But my adrenalin was still high and I was stressed. No, I was STRESSED! It took a while for my heart to stop pounding.

The prep continued. I had to prepare a menu. My mother-in-law loves to have a menu to take home and show all of her friends at the retirement home. I started preparing our dinner menus a few years ago and emailing it to them a few days before because all of their friends would ask them what we were cooking for dinner (if you had tasted the food, any of it, at their retirement center, you'd understand why eating out or at someone else's house is such a HUGE deal). Then I'd print a nice menu on photo paper to place on the table, which my mother-in-law would take home with her. I didn't create the menu and print it until yesterday so they didn't get the menu ahead of time. Well, I broke protocol. My mother-in-law's first comment after entering the dining room and reaching to pick up the menu from the table, "Terri, is this the menu? We didn't get the menu in an email this time so I couldn't tell everyone what we were having and they were all asking. We really like getting the menu a few days ahead of time because everyone is so excited to see what we are having for dinner." Oops. My bad. But she had the menu to take home...

I even used a photo of their cake on the menu and brought that to her attention, but she wasn't impressed. She was disappointed that she didn't have the menu ahead of time. Just a little verbal slap on the wrist. I've learned my lesson. It won't happen again.

We had a fun time, short though it was. Tom's mom wanted to get home to watch the Academy Awards AND the pre-show. I asked her, knowing that she doesn't EVER go to movies and won't see more than one or two of the movies on DVD, "Mom, do you even know who any of those people are?"

Her reply? "Before television, I listened to the Academy Awards on the radio while laying on the floor. I've watched the Academy Awards since I had a television and I will watch them every year. I like them."

All of them (in-laws, Tom's sister and her husband and her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend) arrived at about 4:00 pm, they were gone by 6:15 pm. In between, they opened their birthday gifts which all of their 5 kids contributed: $90 worth of lottery tickets for my father-in-law (he was thrilled!) and flame-less, battery operated "candles" for my mother-in-law (because real candles are prohibited in the retirement apartment where they live). My niece's boyfriend called my father-in-law's gift "cosmic," so my father-in-law learned and used a new word throughout dinner to describe everything, although he had to ask every single time "what was that word he used??"

Yes, we have tons of leftovers, even though we distributed some of the leftovers among our guests. Tonight's dinner will be leftovers. Whatever is leftover from tonight will be trash and we will start fresh tomorrow night.

I am going to spend the rest of the week making Zoey's birthday gift. I thought about driving out to deliver it personally, but I don't know. I hate, hate, hate the drive, but the gift is special and I'd like to be there to give it to her. I'll just have to see how things go.

Now I am going back into the kitchen to finish cleaning up after last night. My first load of dishes is done and I need to put in the second batch. Yesterday's wet towels are washed and have finished drying, so I need to put the freshly washed rugs in the dryer. After that, I'm heading to the fabric store for a couple of items and when I get back I'm heading for the sewing machine.

It looks to be another busy week.

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