It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good

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Yesterday started out as a really great day. I got up at 5:30, I did a shoot, I came home, worked out, ate a little breakfast, got my writing done, made a film of the shoot I’d just done, fed Henry, picked Sofie up from school, dropped off my film, and came home. I thought I’d be able to get more writing done, have some quiet time with the kids, take them for a walk, and cook a simple dinner that didn’t take me too long. I was going to have the kids in bed by 7, and I was going to enjoy a quiet walk by myself listening to an audiobook.

But then the internet went out. And Ben had several meetings he was supposed to be attending, and Henry was woken up from his very short nap by Sofie yelling as she fell off the couch during, what was supposed to be quiet time. And everything started to get too loud, and too unproductive. So I called it a day and decided to take the kids grocery shopping for several hours. It’s not a difficult task. The basic principle is having both kids with me so it just takes that long to shop. I figured Sofie would get in some walking, we’d be out of Ben’s way. He could get onto the building Wifi, and I’d still have time to make dinner during Sofie’s screen time.

Grocery shopping was fine with a few minor hiccups like completely forgetting eggs, almond butter, some key ingredients for dinner. But still, things seemed to be good. The sun was shining. Sofie was helpful in getting Henry back into the car. I got home in one piece. The internet was still out, but Ben was able to take his last few meetings on the phone.

I set Sofie up with Daniel Tiger, got both kids a snack, and then started cooking. I figured I’d make some Miso Turnips from Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s all Easy” and we could start eating that while I cooked a Teriyaki Bowl from her other book, “The Clean Plate.” And that’s when the day got crazy.

Imagine, if you will, I’m in the kitchen. Henry is in his highchair, a respectable distance from anything hot or sharp. He’s happily snacking on some delightful cinnamon-coated sweet potato puffs. Sofie is on the couch having a similar snack but add in some peanuts.  I start the process of the turnips. They’re in the oven. Everything is still good. I start to melt together the coating for the turnips, but then Henry wants more snacks, and while that’s happening, and I’m getting an apple out, the coating is starting to boil too fast. And then I take that off the stove. Phew. Saved. Coat the turnips that have just come out of the oven in the miso coating and put them back in the oven on broil high. I turn to the fridge to get out ingredients for the teriyaki bowl and remember that the dishwasher needs to be unloaded and there’s still groceries sitting on the counter that are making it difficult to find counter space.

And while I’m pulling things out of the fridge, putting other things away, and unloading the dishwasher, the turnips have been on broil for longer than the recommended 3-5 minutes, and the miso on the cookie tray has burned. I take the tray out intending to get it to the patio so the smoke doesn’t set off the fire alarm, but Henry’s high chair is in the way, and I don’t want to burn him on accident, so I have to pass the fire alarm. And, of course, it sets it off. And this goes on long enough for Henry to start crying, and Sofie is beginning to get scared. She’s actually pretty freaked by the fire alarm now that she’s old enough to know what it means. And honest, I am too after we had a fire in the stairwell a few years ago.

So at this point, the fire alarm stops chirping, and I’m praying it didn’t call the fire department, and the turnips are sitting on the patio, cooling off. The apartment I getting warm because it’s 84 degrees outside and all the windows are now open.

I still have to cook the rice (I didn’t do cauliflower rice, so it wasn’t really that clean of a teriyaki bowl), and I have to prepare the sauce, cut cucumbers, make the pickling brine for them, cut lettuce, and now my counter is also soaking wet from all the washing of the vegetables I’m done. The carrots need to be shredded, and I’m now about to set the fire alarm off again because the oil I’m heating for the chicken has begun to smoke.

I’ll save you the rest of the details, but you can probably see me standing in the middle of our small kitchen, having a meltdown while Henry has a meltdown. Sofie’s now watched three episodes of a show she was only supposed to watch one episode of, and it’s taken so long to make dinner that Ben is done with his meetings for the day. The kitchen is so messy that Ben has to step in and clean a bunch of dishes so that we can finish making dinner.

In the end, the food was good, but the kids were too tired to really eat anything, and they had to go to bed while I was still trying to get grease off the countertops, mop the floor, vacuum excess shredded carrot from under the counter. I actually still found splotches of grease on the stove today.

And still, when I laid down in bed, after all that, with the internet still out, not feeling like reading, and deciding to watch old episodes of How I Met Your Mother on DVD (does anyone else still own DVDs?), I would say it had been a pretty good day, and Ben and I remembered that we promised each other we would not try to make new recipes on busy days.

Yesterday was a good reminder to keep weekdays simple. But it was also a good reminder that not everything has to go perfectly to have a good day.

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