Things I do when I should be working

The thing about working from home is that—while those of you working in offices may recognize when you’re wasting work time via, say, watching cat videos online—my time slippage is a lot more insidious than it used to be. That goes double now that we’re back to school, because hey, sometimes Monkey really needs me to help him with his work, y’know?

There’s too many possible rabbit holes in my day, here. Because Monkey really needs me to help him with his work and THEN he has to show me this new thing in Minecraft OR he can’t find a syllabus and so I HAVE to orchestrate a clean-up mission. OR it occurs to me that I should probably get dinner started and then it seems like a GREAT time to try a new recipe even though I have a million things I really ought to be doing, instead.

[Sidebar: Remember the whole “Oh, hey, SURPRISE! Chickie has ADHD!” thing? I’m now reading Smart But Scattered Teens and… holy Chickadee. Holy Monkey. HOLY ME. I can’t decide whether to be pleased with myself for not being a hot mess 100% of the time or aggravated that I still wander off when I see something shiny to this day. Executive dysfunction: A family affair!]

Anyway, I… have no idea where I was going with that. (Brain: EXACTLY! Me, to brain: SHUT UP.)

Oh wait. Yes I do! I was going to last night’s dinner, that’s where I was going. So! We have a friend who’s laid up after some surgery, and I thought it would be nice to bring them some dinner because “Thou shalt deliver a casserole unto those who have endured unfortunate ouchies” is the 11th commandment. Had I been thinking ahead (HAHAHA), I would’ve somehow planned this out before I went grocery shopping last weekend, but… yeah. That didn’t happen. But yesterday morning I became convinced that I needed to make something RIGHT THEN, so rummaged around in our deep freeze, found some chicken breasts, poked through some recipes, and then called our friends to make sure that a dinner delivery would work.

This was all accomplished well ahead of lunch, so I don’t mind telling you that I was feeling particularly smug. LOOK AT ME, PLANNING STUFF! I was defrosting chicken and vegetables like a boss, mid-morning, with ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD before the agreed-upon 6:00 p.m. dinner delivery. (Hint: Foreshadowing!)

I did some work and Monkey did some school and I baked the chicken while we ate lunch. After lunch I pulled the chicken and grabbed a couple of forks to shred it up (I was making pot pies.) The chicken wouldn’t shred. That was weird. I tried again, from a different angle, and… it was like the chicken was made of industrial rubber. I grabbed a knife, thinking maybe I could just cube it, maybe I was just being fork-impaired somehow and really it was all fine (PLEASE BE FINE PLEASE BE FINE), but after sawing through a few times I tasted it.

What was wrong with the chicken? A better question is what WASN’T wrong with the chicken, really, but my guess is that this particular package of chicken somehow got lost in the depths and was older than I thought, and/or I overcooked it, and/or it had somehow been defrosted/refrozen at some point. It was gross. I threw it out.

“I’m running to the store! Be back soon!” I called to my son, grumbling as I went, because if you want the truth (can you handle the truth?), I have been to the grocery store every day this week. I DON’T KNOW WHY. Except I do know why: Monday I had to get something for a recipe that I forgot on Sunday because I hadn’t planned ahead (shocking), Tuesday I had to pick up prescriptions, and then yesterday (Wednesday) there I was buying chicken when I had planned this particular dish because it would be so easy because I ALREADY HAD CHICKEN. [The newest book in the series, Smart But Scattered Moms: Hey Asshole, Gas Is Expensive, Get It Together should be coming out soon.]

Casseroles, as a general rule, are lovely things to put together because everything goes in one dish and it’s easy and doesn’t make a big mess. Unless you’re me, I suppose. This particular pot pie isn’t a pie at all, of course, because GLUUUUUUUUTEN. Instead, this is basically the innards of a pot pie (chicken and veggies in a creamy sauce) topped with (gluten-free) cornbread. The final product is in a single dish, and the kitchen is a disaster area, behind it. Because here’s how you make it:

1) Bake chicken in oven in a dish. Discover chicken is inedible. Chuck chicken. Clean dish, bake new chicken in it.
2) While chicken bakes, peel sweet potatoes. Make sure to get peelings all over the kitchen.
3) Chop sweet potatoes and toss in a second dish with oil and spices. Roast in oven.
4) Remove chicken from oven; take out of baking dish and shred on a plate. Set aside.
5) Chop onions. Get them all over the kitchen.
6) Caramelize onions in large saute pan. Do it low and slow so that it takes the maximum amount of time.
7) Tell dog to stop eating potato peels she found tucked under the cabinets.
8) Deglaze pan with wine. Because WINE and also your “easy” dish has taken half the day and crap, let’s get this show on the road.
9) Defrost frozen chicken stock in microwave. Feel smug about having homemade stock. Add it to the pan and put the now-empty stock container in the sink.
10) Add chicken and mixed veggies to saute pan. Season. Stir. Maybe put that nasty chicken plate in the sink.
11) Mix cornstarch and milk in a bowl. Add to saute pan. Put that bowl in the sink.
12) Bring mixture to a boil, add sweet potatoes, put sweet potato pan in the sink.
13) Realize you haven’t made the cornbread. Swear a little.
14) Mix cornbread up. Use at least three bowls. Because dry! Wet! Eggs! Buttermilk! STUFF!
15) Pour chicken mixture into two casserole dishes. Get a bunch of it all over the counter. Put pan in sink.
16) “Dot” top of filled dishes with cornbread mixture. Just kidding; slop it all on there.
17) Put casseroles in oven. Put cornbread bowls and everything else in the sink.
18) Wipe down the counters. Consider doing dishes, but leave them for later.
19) Do about twenty minutes of work while dinner cooks.
20) Remove beautiful food from oven. Leave one dish for menfolk to eat that evening, pack up second dish for convalescent delivery.
21) Deliver dinner. Respond to thanks with, “Oh, it was no trouble at all.”

Work completed yesterday: Not much.
Food completed yesterday: Delicious!
Urge to burn kitchen down rather than do all those dishes: Yes. (I didn’t, though. Turns out the kitchen is attached to the rest of the house, which is where I keep my useful self-help books on things like how to focus and meet goals.)

Today I am DEFINITELY going to get more work done. I just… uhhh… see, I’m not sure what we’re having for dinner, and I have this recipe that looks good….


  1. Amanda

    Ha! Sounds like our house. Thankfully, I can blame my twice a week grocery trips these days on the kids and the need for fresh produce because, “Ewwwwww! That’s 3 days old and I can’t eat it NOW!” The HORROR! So I’ve been buying in small quantities and shopping more often. Plus, we’ve been out some weeks for therapy 4 days a week because the therapists haven’t gotten the memo on the gas thing. This on isn’t in on Fridays. This one is only in on MWF. This other one is only in on Tuesday mornings. GAH!

    • 12tequilas

      Um, you just said that your kids eat produce. This puts you ahead of most people. Rejoice!

  2. Megan

    Oh dear. I mean, I SHOULD be finishing my dissertation but somehow this popped up on Facebook that was – god knows why – open, and so I had to read it, but then in the middle of reading it I had to pee, and of course then I realised that I needed to wipe down the sink RIGHT THAT MINUTE because shiny sinks make me happy. And I did go get another glass of water so as to keep that have-to-pee cycle going, but THEN I came back to get to work on the dissertation again, but what do you know? This post was still open and naturally I needed to finish reading it.

    I’ll get back to the dissertation. Just as soon as I finish this comment… and go see what bleeped on Facebook just now.

    • Mir

      You are my people, Megan.

      • deva

        And this is so me. “What were you doing in the kitchen, dear?” is commonly responded to, by me with “well, I wanted ice cream, but there was some crud on the counter, so I wiped it off. Then I had to sweep the floor,b ut there was a sticky spot, so I just mopped.”

        • Melissa

          Deva, can you please come to MY house? Nothing gets between me and my ice cream.

  3. MomQueenBee

    Ooh, I want that exact recipe. With the sweet potatoes and the cornbread and everything. Please? Also, did you know you can cook frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot (four hours on low) then throw them in the mixer with the paddle attachment and they will self-shred in mere seconds? (Well, you have to turn the mixer on, but you know….) Yes. I’m all about the saving of time for the wasting of elsewhere.

    • Mir

      I am SO going to try the chicken breasts in the mixer thing. I’m intrigued!

      The recipe was Frankensteined together and I’ll need to make it again and write stuff down as I go to get it into something that makes sense. But if you can wait a bit I’m actually going to start doing regular recipe posts at Alpha Mom and given how well this turned out, I’d already planned to post this one. (We’ll just pretend it doesn’t use every dish and pan in the house….)

  4. KateB

    “Hey Asshole, Gas Is Expensive, Get It Together” shall be my new motto. Thanks for the laugh!

  5. Brenda

    This is why I don’t cook. The mess, the ingredients, the dishes, the work. It’s not worth it just for me in my tiny, tiny kitchen. It does sound super delicious, though.

  6. jenni

    This is why I will never work from home. I just don’t think the work part would ever get done.

  7. Susan

    I want that recipe, please!! Sounds delish.

  8. Damsel

    This is why I don’t watch movies. Ever. Because If You Give a Mom a Movie….
    A) Theaters are expensive. I’ll just rent it later when I can watch in my PJs and pause when I have to go pee.
    B) Yes, honey! The kids are in bed and I’d love to watch that movie with you and cuddle on the couch. Oh, wait, can you pause it? I have to pee.
    C) Since the toilet is in this weird half-bath-laundry-room-thing, I’ll just start that load of laundry.
    D) And since that weird room is just off the kitchen, I’ll load up the dishwasher and start that on my way back to the movie.
    E) Oh, crap, would you LOOK at that floor?!? What MOM lets her kids walk around on a floor like THAT?! I should mop it real quick now while the kids are in bed so I don’t have to try to keep them off it tomorrow.
    F) First I need to vacuum up all the dog hair….

    “Honey, did you want to watch this movie or not!?”
    “Oh, no… you just go ahead and watch it. I need to take care of this stuff….”

    • ALE

      YES! YES! YES!

  9. Gayle

    Do you recommend the book?

    • Mir

      Obviously we have a lot of work to do (understatement…), but yes, I do. Lots of very practical advice and tools for fostering desired behaviors and decreasing the rest.

      • Brigid

        We are fans of Smart but Scattered (not to be confused with scattered, covered, and smothered…mmm, now I’m hungry.) I have checked it out countless times from the library and then renew it and misplace it, and read a chapter, rinse, repeat. Finally bought a copy so I wouldn’t have to explain that I needed to check it out again.

        • Gayle

          Good idea. I’ll check the library first.

      • Gayle

        Thanks! I’m off to order it.

    • Billie


  10. TracyB

    Story of my life…and I work in an actual office and still can’t get NOTHING done. Wonder what might happen if I go into the kitchen area???

  11. Kelly

    Yes I am reading this and ignoring all the non-refrigerated groceries are still sitting on the counter waiting to be put away…. but I am going to use a couple of them for dinner so why clean up now right!

  12. Chrystal Rose

    Working from home (especially with 2 puppies and a boyfriend who comes in and out throughout the day) can be SO distracting. I’ve certainly been known to stop in the middle of sending an email and go make some homemade ice cream, start dinner far too early or get caught up in puppy playtime.

    I’ve also strongly considered burning down my kitchen rather than doing the dishes…probably every time I bake…

    Thanks for the distraction! :)

  13. Sharon

    “Mama told me there’d be days like this…” is going through my head:) I for one am delighted to read that you’ll be posting recipes at Alpha Mom.

  14. Becky

    Dishes suck ass. Pot pie? Yummy. Oooohhhh! Shiny things!

  15. Billie

    Smart but Scattered was one of the first books my son’s ADHD counselor recommended to me when I asked him for assistance with helping my son become more organized, etc.

    The thing about having a child with ADHD is that the things that work now might not necessarily work tomorrow or next week. One HUGE benefit I have found is that I have become a micro manager at work as well as home (NEVER used to be, promise). They have put me in charge of all of the Adults that I swear have ADHD because I can spend all day keeping them on track.

  16. Lucinda

    Laughing as I read this. My dad was diagnosed with ADD after I finished college. My sister I was certain had ADD based on her performance in school and what I read about ADD while in college. My daughter is a poster child for “something shiny” syndrome but I of course don’t have it. Right? I’ve operated for years just fine. But I was always in very structured situations until I had kids and ran my own business from home. Holy hell! Ironically, I’m very organized and lists are my gospel because it’s the only way I can survive.

    I do think though, that I (and perhaps you) developed coping skills unwittingly as kids. It also helped that there were not as many in-your-face distractions as there are in this day with technology so it becomes more pronounced with our children.

  17. Katie in MA

    How ’bout you come cook that new recipe for us over *here*, and I will do your work. Ish. :)

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