Nina woke up this morning and made a request that was music to my ears and Eileen's. She requested to go shopping!! Yip yip yahoo!!! Of course I thought she meant going to Macy's but she actually wanted to go to Vons....and buy "new" food because all the food we have at home is "old"! Eileen and I busted up!! It is impossible to do anything but love this girl and delight in what she says and does :)
On my way back from dropping Teddy off at school, Todd called me and said that he was feeling sick. He had been nauseous all morning and felt like he was coming down with the stomach flu. He said he was on his way home but I reminded him that it wasn't safe to expose Nina. Fortunately, he was able to go stay with our friends the Rutherfords. The reality is that Nina's immune system is extremely compromised. The smallest thing could shut her down. I am hyper aware of this especially as we have now entered the flu season. We cannot afford for her to get sick!!! I returned home to find Nina chomping on peanut butter toast that Auntie Eileen had prepared her. The best part about Nina eating peanut butter toast is that she ends up wearing most of the PB on her cheeks :) It is a delicious sight!!
The rest of our morning was spent leisurely shopping. The weather was gorgeous, which made Mrs. Massachusetts very happy :) After lunch, we came home and I ran a number of things to our storage unit. Nina was happy to have Eileen back. They played games together, read books, watched Suite Life on Deck, and laughed together (especially when Nina gave Eileen the stink eye!).
On my way to pick up Teddy, I checked up on Todd. He was feeling a bit better. He asked that I drop off some clothes and his ipad later in the evening. Teddy briefly spoke with him before he was off running down the road to check if Katie wanted to go on a ride with him on the motor-cross bike! Too cute!!
One of the challenges of child-rearing is that they never have enough "play-time"! I firmly believe that I could give Teddy 99 consecutive hours of play and then ask him to come in and do homework and he'd still complain. This is just how it works! After playing Evil Kenevil outside for almost an entire hour, T was still pissed that he had to come in!! It is sooooo much easier to supervise other people teaching kids than to train your own kid!!! Anyone who says the opposite is full of shit!!!
We did homework. I prayed heavily for patience. My mind kept running to the limoncello in the freezer Eileen promised we could have after bedtime! Thankfully, Teddy and I both survived homework. He joined Eileen and Nina while I ran out to Montecito to drop off Todd's requests. When I returned, dinner had arrived. We dished up amazing food (everyone is so generous and wonderfully loving in preparing us meals!!! What a gift!!!) and all piled up onto the living room mattress :) Then my cell phone rang!
So.....as I have previously mentioned....I've had an on-going banter with my friend Mario about Mexican rice. This banter originated with when he heard of Nina's love for arroz con pollo from Las Fuentes. After hearing about her love for this dish, he had offered to make her his famous rice. I laughed and explained that she loved my rice and my rice alone! Since this original conversation, he has insisted that he can beat any rice I make and challenged me to an arroz duel months ago! Eileen has sickly enjoyed this back and forth battle of the words, especially when I told Mario that just because he's Mexican doesn't mean he can make Mexican rice better than a seasoned cook like myself can! Mario is young and overly confident!! I was convinced that I could beat him with one arm tied behind my back and blind-folded! I've known for a while that Eileen is just a sicko that loves to see me riled up! She knows I am fiercely, almost psychotically, competitive and she loves to see people challenge my own over-confidence. What I hadn't realized up until tonight is that is she is also a Benedict Arnold! Puh!!!
Anyhoo....Eileen had request for us to hold the arroz battle when she returned. Because Eileen is my sister and I love her dearly, I complied! Again, I didn't realize she'd turn on me....but then again did Julius Cesar see Brutus' betrayal coming? NOPE!!! But we all refuse to learn the lessons history has to teach us, don't we?!?!
When my cell phone rang, I got my game face going. It was Mario confirming our 7pm date with rice destiny! I could hear he was nervous...especially when he got his roommate Andy on the phone to "prime" me about how great Mario's rice was. I laughed at the cheap trick and asked Andy how much Mario had paid him. Boys!!! So....promptly at 7pm Mario arrived and we began our rice cook-off. The kids and Eileen enjoyed hearing Mario and I quibble. I noticed how Mario got a bit nervous when I started chopping up onion and mincing fresh garlic. He commented under his breath that his mom made rice that way! A-ha! I knew I had it down! I proceeded with confidence, the kind of confidence that only a mature cook can have. Mario hoovered over his ingredients, afraid that I'd see what he was doing. HA! We both finished our prep work and before long our rices were cooking on the stove top!
We all went to the living room while the rices cooked and hung out for a while. While Teddy wrestled with Mario and Eileen and Nina laughed, I snuck into the kitchen to "clean up". I quietly took a spoon out of the drawer and took a small scoop of rice from Mario's pan. Then I tasted it. To my complete and utter SHOCK it was AMAZING!! The only thing that came to mind was....SHIT!!! He's gonna win and I will never hear the end of this!!! Just then, Mario shouted, "You better not be messing with my rice!" Dang it!
After each arroz was done, we scooped up small samples into bowls and proceeded with the blind taste test. I have to admit, I was nervous! I really needed to win, otherwise the punk would never let me live it down. By this point, Nina had decided she wasn't going to participate in the taste testing. She just wanted to watch. So it was up to Teddy and Eileen. They had both eaten my rice before and loved it. There was no way they would pick his! I was convinced of it. Even if they liked his better I knew they'd pick mine. So...we proceeded with the taste testing and.....
|Teddy ready for his blind taste-test|
Teddy went first and....picked Mario's freaking arroz!! Mario jumped up and down like a school boy!!!! Nice sportsmanship! Then it was Eileen's turn. I knew I could count on my dearest friend....and so.....Benedict Arnold picked Mario's arroz!!!!!!! I begrudgingly conceded my defeat and gave Mario the green victory crown. He did compliment me and said that my rice was very good, in fact it was restaurant quality, but just not quite as good as his! He was right. Dang it!! I do not do well with defeat!!! Eileen just laughed! She laughed for hours!!! Nice!!