I may have given the impression in my last blog post that I am permanently tearing my hair out over the Littleboys, but that is not always the case. (Although The Doctor, who tends to arrive home at the witching hour of half past suppertime, may disagree...).
The boys can be incredibly sweet, affectionate, playful, funny, cuddly and even, on occasion, well-behaved. I often feel a tremendous swell of pride just looking at them as we walk down the street together. Only the other day, we passed a woman who pointed at them and said: "That's SOOO cute." (I wasn't sure if by "that" she meant the pair of them, the fact they were scooting, or something else, possibly Littleboy 2's snowboots with moose faces, but hey, it was a compliment).
Yesterday they managed to earn themselves several brownie points (or should that be cub-scout points?) at supper time. Over the past few months, we have been endeavouring to eat supper together at the weekends as a family. During the week, it's not really possible, as they are usually clamouring for food well before The Doctor gets home - but at the weekend, we have the time and inclination to prepare a big family meal and eat it with them. In the summer, it was usually a barbecue, but during the winter a traditional English roast has been attempted on several Sundays.
This has not been without its difficulties. Meat is rather different here from in the UK, and the concept of the roast, while not unknown, is not particularly common. So on the one hand, good steak is cheap and widely available and our Christmas turkey, despite coming from the upmarket Whole Foods, cost a third of what it would have done in the UK. But on the other, selecting a joint of meat for roasting can be tricky. For example, finding a leg of lamb is a rare thing in our local supermarket; and if you do, more than likely it will be expensive and imported from New Zealand. The US is a land of cowboys, not shepherds, so mint sauce is off the menu for the moment.
Pork is plentiful and good, but the roasting joints are somewhat different from the UK - it seems Americans don't go in for crackling, and despite the fact that this is probably a lot better for our waistlines, I miss my dose of bubbling, crispy salted fat. One weekend The Doctor (the head chef of the Sunday Roast) decided to go rogue and bought something describing itself as a 'veal roast'. Now I had misgivings about this from the start, never having heard of roast veal, but he insisted that "the French eat it all the time". Let's just say that after two mouthfuls all of us gave up and politely pushed it to one side; it was the stringiest, toughest roast I have tasted since Sunday lunch at boarding school. We made a stock out of it instead, which turned out excellent.
Then there was my Boxing Day ham experience. Having bought it in rather a hurry in a crowded supermarket on Christmas Eve, I glanced at the packaging at home and was highly unamused to see that I had bought something called 'Butt Portion Ham'. Now I am sure there were plenty of delicious hams available, but I had chosen, basically, the arse end. And although it tasted OK once doused in cloves and honey, I am sorry to say that while eating it I could not get out of my head the child's chant 'Yum, yum, pig's bum'....
Yesterday I bought a 'round eye roast' of beef. Jackpot! This turned out to be delicious, succulent and tender.
And best of all, the Littleboys munched their way through the whole meal. Four slices of roast beef, green beans, potatoes. This may not sound like a big deal but Littleboy 1 is a notoriously fussy eater - only six months ago, I worried that he would never eat anything other than salami and hummus (as you can see, his foods of choice were rather unusual, but he refused to try anything else). He has never before deigned to eat a green vegetable, let alone announce that he 'loved' it (albeit he ate them with ketchup, but at least it's a start). Breakthrough! I beamed with pride at my angelic duo. Not only that, but they helped to set the table and cleared the plates at the end of the meal.
So today, they can fight over their train set all they like; Littleboy 2 can go to nursery with Weetabix in his hair (and believe me, he did); and no doubt they'll be driving me crazy by 6pm. But they have set themselves up for the week. Sometimes, it's the little things that make it all worthwhile.....