Sunday, December 29, 2013

That Day -- The Hug.

A friend recently approached me with this moving and very personal piece. She would like to remain anonymous but felt publishing and sharing it might help others suffering through the loss of a child. 

I am a big believer in the cathartic power of writing and also find solace in the written words of others.  

My prayer today is for healing for my friend as well as however many others this may reach.

______________________________________________________________________

Here I am approaching That Day again, the day when my life changed forever. It was a sunny day in December, 4 days after Christmas, 4 days after I hugged my firstborn son for the last time. Now, years later, I can still recall That Hug as though it happened only a few hours ago. 

That Hug. There was something incredibly special in That Hug. Think of how many times you hug your kids. From the huggly-snuggly-kissy way you love on your babies to the pure and innocent, heartfelt hug of a preschooler to the unexpected and absolute pleasure of the unsolicited hug of a pre-teen and yes, to the squirming away, don’t touch me hug of a young teen. I had been through them all with my firstborn and I knew that they were behind me and that this hug – this from the heart adult-to-adult hug meant that he loved me as much as I loved him. It meant that he saw me as an adult, that he forgave me for my shortcomings and that he loved me still. 

A few days later I learned that my beautiful firstborn son was dead. Years have passed and my life has changed dramatically. My younger kids have grown up to be accomplished young people. They are on their way to finding their roles and purposes in the world. I am getting plenty of hugs from them as they pass through the stages of life. My pleasure in my young children is immeasurable. 

Still I sob every time I approach That Day. It is a day of remembering the wonder of my firstborn son; the way he was so little when he was born, the fact that he could swim like a fish but always got a sunburn on his nose, the way he would come downstairs with a towel wrapped around his wet hair and wait for me to iron his shirt before school. It is also a day of reckoning. Why wasn’t I a better parent to him? How could I have been so caught up in my own life? What could I have done? Why didn’t I do this or that?

But there are things that can’t be changed - things that are forever drawn on the fabric of our lives. What helps me the most as I approach That Day, when all the memories and questions wash over me, is to remember That Hug; that one perfect moment when mother and son connect with each other in a way that is truly immortal. 


Sunday, November 24, 2013

War on the Poor.

Recently I have been completely overwhelmed by what I view as a war on the poor. An entire wing of established politicians proliferate the view that if you are poor somehow you are automatically shiftless and lazy. Propaganda spews forth with images of gangstas collecting welfare and bragging about not having to work. 
Strangely, those I've known who unfortunately fall into the "poor" category look nothing like the images portrayed by the establishment. If people would actually take the time to learn about one of the many individuals they portray as lazy and undeserving, I fear their attitudes might change.  
This piece by Linda Tirado has gone viral which makes my heart swell. I am so glad people are taking a moment to understand another's perspective, and perchance, to understand why the poor are not actually so coddled by unemployment and food stamps that they refuse to get a job.

The war on the poor needs to end. I hope this piece sheds some light on why such hostility is quite clearly misplaced.

This is Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense

by Linda Tirado (reposting as per permission granted)

There's no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it's rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.
Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6AM, go to school (I have a full course load, but I only have to go to two in-person classes) then work, then I get the kids, then I pick up my husband, then I have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 12:30AM, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I'm in bed by 3. This isn't every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr. Martini and see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork. Those nights I'm in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won't be able to stay up the other nights because I'll fuck my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can't afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn't leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn't in the mix.
When I got pregnant the first time, I was living in a weekly motel. I had a minifridge with no freezer and a microwave. I was on WIC. I ate peanut butter from the jar and frozen burritos because they were 12/$2. Had I had a stove, I couldn't have made beef burritos that cheaply. And I needed the meat, I was pregnant. I might not have had any prenatal care, but I am intelligent enough to eat protein and iron whilst knocked up.
I know how to cook. I had to take Home Ec to graduate high school. Most people on my level didn't. Broccoli is intimidating. You have to have a working stove, and pots, and spices, and you'll have to do the dishes no matter how tired you are or they'll attract bugs. It is a huge new skill for a lot of people. That's not great, but it's true. And if you fuck it up, you could make your family sick. We have learned not to try too hard to be middle-class. It never works out well and always makes you feel worse for having tried and failed yet again. Better not to try. It makes more sense to get food that you know will be palatable and cheap and that keeps well. Junk food is a pleasure that we are allowed to have; why would we give that up? We have very few of them.
The closest Planned Parenthood to me is three hours. That's a lot of money in gas. Lots of women can't afford that, and even if you live near one you probably don't want to be seen coming in and out in a lot of areas. We're aware that we are not "having kids," we're "breeding." We have kids for much the same reasons that I imagine rich people do. Urge to propagate and all. Nobody likes poor people procreating, but they judge abortion even harder.
Convenience food is just that. And we are not allowed many conveniences. Especially since the Patriot Act passed, it's hard to get a bank account. But without one, you spend a lot of time figuring out where to cash a check and get money orders to pay bills. Most motels now have a no-credit-card-no-room policy. I wandered around SF for five hours in the rain once with nearly a thousand dollars on me and could not rent a room even if I gave them a $500 cash deposit and surrendered my cell phone to the desk to hold as surety.
Nobody gives enough thought to depression. You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever. We know that the very act of being poor guarantees that we will never not be poor. It doesn't give us much reason to improve ourselves. We don't apply for jobs because we know we can't afford to look nice enough to hold them. I would make a super legal secretary, but I've been turned down more than once because I "don't fit the image of the firm," which is a nice way of saying "gtfo, pov." I am good enough to cook the food, hidden away in the kitchen, but my boss won't make me a server because I don't "fit the corporate image." I am not beautiful. I have missing teeth and skin that looks like it will when you live on B12 and coffee and nicotine and no sleep. Beauty is a thing you get when you can afford it, and that's how you get the job that you need in order to be beautiful. There isn't much point trying.
Cooking attracts roaches. Nobody realizes that. I've spent a lot of hours impaling roach bodies and leaving them out on toothpick pikes to discourage others from entering. It doesn't work, but is amusing.
"Free" only exists for rich people. It's great that there's a bowl of condoms at my school, but most poor people will never set foot on a college campus. We don't belong there. There's a clinic? Great! There's still a copay. We're not going. Besides, all they'll tell you at the clinic is that you need to see a specialist, which seriously? Might as well be located on Mars for how accessible it is. "Low-cost" and "sliding scale" sounds like "money you have to spend" to me, and they can't actually help you anyway.
I smoke. It's expensive. It's also the best option. You see, I am always, always exhausted. It's a stimulant. When I am too tired to walk one more step, I can smoke and go for another hour. When I am enraged and beaten down and incapable of accomplishing one more thing, I can smoke and I feel a little better, just for a minute. It is the only relaxation I am allowed. It is not a good decision, but it is the only one that I have access to. It is the only thing I have found that keeps me from collapsing or exploding.
I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don't pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It's not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn't that I blow five bucks at Wendy's. It's that now that I have proven that I am a Poor Person that is all that I am or ever will be. It is not worth it to me to live a bleak life devoid of small pleasures so that one day I can make a single large purchase. I will never have large pleasures to hold on to. There's a certain pull to live what bits of life you can while there's money in your pocket, because no matter how responsible you are you will be broke in three days anyway. When you never have enough money it ceases to have meaning. I imagine having a lot of it is the same thing.
Poverty is bleak and cuts off your long-term brain. It's why you see people with four different babydaddies instead of one. You grab a bit of connection wherever you can to survive. You have no idea how strong the pull to feel worthwhile is. It's more basic than food. You go to these people who make you feel lovely for an hour that one time, and that's all you get. You're probably not compatible with them for anything long-term, but right this minute they can make you feel powerful and valuable. It does not matter what will happen in a month. Whatever happens in a month is probably going to be just about as indifferent as whatever happened today or last week. None of it matters. We don't plan long-term because if we do we'll just get our hearts broken. It's best not to hope. You just take what you can get as you spot it.
I am not asking for sympathy. I am just trying to explain, on a human level, how it is that people make what look from the outside like awful decisions. This is what our lives are like, and here are our defense mechanisms, and here is why we think differently. It's certainly self-defeating, but it's safer. That's all. I hope it helps make sense of it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dinner this week.

Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. It's going to be that sort of week. So what business do I have planning homemade, comfort-food type meals? 

Absolutely none.   

But I never let silly realities like my schedule dictate my appetite. This is what I need this week. Amidst the craziness, I need good, warm meals. I need to slow down and allow time for the beef to braise.

Some people meditate. 

I cook. 

And so despite my time constraints, I am determined to make this work.  I have the grocery list to prove it and need to finalize this post so I can dash to the store and get started. 

Literally. Right. Now.

1.  Chicken Pot Pie - Talk about comfort food!  I plan to make these as individual pies with the biscuit topping. I'll likely modify the recipe a bit but this recipe is my inspiration. 

2.  Beef Stew - I have my own beef stew recipe I adore. Mine, however, is filled with vegetables, and if there is anything my duo dislikes, it's anything filled with vegetables. And so I'm going to try this version with only beef, carrots, and potatoes. What's not to like?!

3. Spaghetti and Meatballs - This is a staple at our house {I make batches of meatballs, freeze them, and pull them out as needed}, but I'm trying a new recipe. I've tried many, many meatball recipes over the years. I am never displeased, but am still searching for . . . the one.

4. Chicken Noodle Soup - This may well be my family's favorite meal. Mine too. This will be it's highly-anticipated debut this season.

If it's chilly here this week I assume the rest of the country is absolutely freezing. Let me know your family's favorite cold-weather comfort food? 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New Parents Have it Easy.

Yes, you read the title correctly:  I think new parents have it easy.

Really, when you think back, babies are not all that hard.

I realize this could incite new mothers the world over. But truly, if they have time to read blogs, they are only proving my point!

1. Babies cannot talk.

They also cannot roll their eyes or slam doors or throw tantrums. While their incessant crying tends to annoy, silence is found by simply placing a boob {or bottle} in the crying baby's mouth. Really, is that so hard!?   

2. Babies do not have back-to-back activities every day from 3 pm -7 pm.

Babies do not require intricate carpooling routines. New parents do not have to remember how the M-W schedule differs from the T-TH schedule, and oh! don't forget the birthday party on Saturday! No, a baby's schedule is the same every afternoon -- sleep. For hours! Heaven. I spend most afternoons in the car helping with homework and whipping up a nutritious dinner simultaneously. 

3.  Baby laundry is little and cute. 

Truly, one load of laundry and their entire little wardrobe is fresh and clean. The laundry of active tweens requires a full-time laundress {oh yeah, that's me}. And you'll never find me cooing "so cute" as I turn every single stinky sock right side in while sorting.  Never. 

4. Babies are not picky eaters. 

Babies, whether they take a bottle or breast, eat regularly and what they are served. Tweens are picky eaters. Or not hungry. Or only hungry for cereal. Babies lay sweetly in your arms and smile while you feed them. So peaceful and serene. Our dinner times are neither peaceful nor serene, but instead, have become a war zone with nightly battles over veggie intake, not talking while chewing, and keeping elbows off the table {and no, I am not the manners Nazi in the family}. 

5. Babies wear anything. 

There are no arguments over what to wear to church or for the family photo. There are no "dramatic sighs" when an outfit is suggested. Yes, babies may soil their clothing from time to time, but that simply provides further opportunities to display yet another darling ensemble! I still purchase the darling ensembles but consider it a win if my duo dons anything other than sport shorts and t-shirts. 

6. Babies can watch R rated movies. 

I do not suggest you bring an infant into an actual movie theatre. That is annoying and plainly inconsiderate to the other viewers. But, in the privacy of your own home, babies can simply sleep in your arms or play on the floor while you watch any number of inappropriate films. You need not be concerned with the gratuitous violence or sex. Babies will simply kick about in their bouncers while you stay up to date with the latest cinema and television series. If my duo walked into the room during Game of Thrones there would undoubtedly be questions and quite possibly counseling required.

7. Babies do not ask why the door is closed. 

So maybe you do not feel like spending private time with your husband for the first couple, few, six months, but in theory you could. There is generally some portion of each day when the baby is asleep and you are awake. I realize we all have priorities and yours may well be a shower. No judgment here. But suffice to say, if you are so inclined, the baby will not walk down the hall, open the door, and ask an uncomfortable series of questions. Not to mention, you have years before junior comes tumbling into your bed each morning. 

8. Babies sleep. 

Yes, it takes some adjusting to adapt to a two-hour sleep cycle. I remember those days. But no one expects you to do anything during that time other than produce milk {or not, your choice}. If you showered and made the bed in one day your husband cheers, "You are doing great!" This is truly an amazing time. Relish in your ability to lay about all day long, neglect the house, any timely grooming rituals, and allow others to feed you for weeks on end.

Seriously, what's not to love!?  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dinner this Week.

It is a short dinner-at-home week for us with Grandma Julie's birthday celebration dinner and Halloween. No, I do not plan to allow my kids to eat only candy for Halloween dinner, but I have yet to plan our annual fĂȘte. I realize that is this week, and thus, given my very organized method of planning all week should be included herein. Sadly, though, I cannot yet wrap my head around the utter madness that is Halloween at our house. I have at least three full days of procrastination left and plan to utilize them fully.

But here's what's on tap for the rest of the week: 
photos via Pinterest

Parmesan Crusted Chicken - This is a new chicken preparation method for me, but I do something similar with Tilapia from time to time so I think the kids will enjoy it. And besides, it looks super easy.

Lasagna Baked Ziti - I have made this numerous times and everyone {save Little Miss Thang who hates all red sauce} loves it. Pleasing everyone in my family is a feat I rarely accomplish. Little Miss Thang will eat all the components of this recipe sans red sauce. And I adore that little girl just enough to deconstruct as needed. 

Cider-Braised Pork Chops - This will also be a new recipe for me but it looks both delectably fall-ish and weeknight dinner simple-ish. Win-win. 

So what do you have in store for your family this week? 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dinner this week.

Last week was quite a successful dinner week for me. I shopped once and cooked every meal I planned. This is noteworthy, folks, as I generally shop a few times a week and still do not manage to properly plan meals. My organized friends are chuckling because they have always utilized this fancy little trick. The rest of you, who like me do not fall neatly into the "organized" column, revel in these little successes.  

Fingers-crossed that I'm turning over a new leaf for good! 

This is a short week for our family as we prepare to travel for a gymnastics meet/meet the in-laws this weekend. I will nourish us as well as possible before we spend the weekend eating {and drinking} poolside.  Yes, for those of you not in Texas, it is still possible to eat poolside. We do not consider this a plus, but take advantage nonetheless.

Until then, we will enjoy this mild cold front and a few warm meals. 

Last night I made the Classic Ragu Bolognese {bottom} and let me tell you:  It was absolutely amazing. Maybe not everyone gets quite as excited about a bolognese, but I love nothing more than a dish that requires hours of simmering {I swear my house still smells amazing} so the flavor meld and intensify. I also recognize that not everyone is home from 4pm-7pm to allow this magic to occur. If that is the case, make a double batch on a Sunday afternoon and freeze half. You will be so happy you did. 
Tonight I am trying Nigel Slater's Coq au Riesling {right}. It too looks amazing {cream + wine + pancetta + my shoe = yum!} but can be whipped together easily between homework, gymnastics, and tennis, making it a great weeknight meal contender. 

My final meal of the week is one of my kids' favorites: Pasta with Sausage. This is a weeknight standby in our house because (1) the kids love it, and (2) I can easily stock the ingredients. Yes, you will see it again soon. I have to balance all the new dishes with our tried and true. 

So, what's on the menu for your family this week?  Do you cook new meals regularly or stick to the tried and true? Share a link to your favorite recipe so I can try it next week! 


Monday, October 7, 2013

940 Saturdays.



True.  Of course it depends on your child's birth month and a variety of other variables. Only nerdy minds such as mine factor in such variables. Others just take this at face value and want to run off and plan a special weekend with her child. Sometimes I wish my mind operated on that level.

But it doesn't. 

And while I certainly understand, and at times, tout the "carpe diem" philosophy of parenting, I also have parented long enough to understand that some days are just too long to recognize how painfully short the years can be. 

The concept that young parents should simply "enjoy every moment because it goes so fast" infuriates me. Yes, enjoy the ride. Enjoy the big picture of parenting. But truly, I will never tell any parent to enjoy the moment when one toddler is standing in the grocery cart screaming and the other is running down the cereal aisle knocking down every box. Yes, you may eventually look back and laugh at that moment. But no sane or sober mother is laughing or enjoying that very moment.  

Nor will I attempt to make any working parent feel guilty because he or she cannot make the 300th soccer game of the season because of work. Work pays the bill for the cleats, the pizza party, and the trophy for every kid on the team. Work is a necessity. 

When and why did every moment become so special?  

Growing up my parents did not entertain me every weekend. Actually, think it's fair to say they entertained me very few weekends. Truly, those few were special occasions. Most weekends they were busy with yard work, chores, friends, and activities of their own. They taught bridge in our basement for college credit {this still baffles me}. They mowed the yard. They cleaned the house. They cooked meals. They socialized with their own friends. 

This is not to say that I was in any way neglected as a child. Quite the contrary. My parents were fabulous parents. They encouraged me and loved me unconditionally. They just didn't entertain me. If I said I was bored my mother handed me Comet and told me to clean all the sinks. And I did. 

I remember when my duo were just babes, my father said one day while I was playing with my kids on the floor of his living room, "You are always on the floor entertaining them. We never spent time on the floor with you." True. I have many pictures of myself in a playpen surrounded by toys. Mom was probably busy sewing a dress for herself. I was incapable of sewing on a button when my duo was little -- I was too busy sitting on the floor entertaining them. 

What caused this cultural shift and is it good for us or our children? 

Quite frankly, though I've already spent over 520 Saturdays "enjoying" my children, I would argue that every weekend should not be a special occasion. Children need to learn to entertain themselves, or perchance, to clean the sinks.  

Yes, we should enjoy quality time with our children. Often. But we should also enjoy ourselves - with and without them. 

We should enjoy family game nights filled with laughter and silliness, but we should not feel guilty about couple date nights filled with champagne and sushi. We need both. And they need to see a healthy relationship in action. 

We too should celebrate the change of the seasons and jump on the trampoline until our legs sag. We should also enjoy the crisp breeze from our perch in a hammock reading a book. Alone. Children can entertain themselves. More so as they get older, but even in small spurts when they are young. Work from wherever you are.  

Finally, we should not feel guilty about working. {Unless, that is, you are a workaholic who prefers working to living. That is another issue and one which I shall not address.} But if you, like the hubs, have a job that demands working weekends from time to time, then work on the weekends. Weekend days are not sacred. Find quality time when you can. Don't beat yourself up for providing for your family.

I have no doubt I will miss my children when they head off to college. I will most certainly miss the messes and the loudness and the busyness they bring. Without question. That tremendous feeling of loss, however, will not wane simply because we had 940 meticulously-planned, over-the-top Saturdays together. 

Carpe diem.  

When you can. 

Or lay around next Saturday and read a really good book.

Kids should have parents who do both. 

Because truly, while creating an-every-weekend-is-a-party mentality may prepare children for college, perhaps it is not in the manner you intend. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Dinner this week.

I do indeed recognize that it is strange, or startling, or perhaps, even jolting for me to casually show up here in this little space of mine and suggest a menu for the week. I had no intentions of reincarnating this blog or this blog series. 

Truth be told, I'm feeling a touch of guilt for feeding my kids pasta three nights this week {hubs is in trial and not dining with us}. As if that weren't enough, one of my besties, J, said she missed this feature. Well, you see, J's babes are my God children, and thus, I take it as a moral imperative to ensure she does not fall into my pasta-is-so-easy-and-quick rut. Our children deserve better.

So, yes, I'm back on my meal-planning bonanza and I'm taking you all {or perhaps, just J} along with me.  Like it or not!   
So here's my week at a glance: 

Friday night - Out-to-dinner night {despite the fact that so was Thursday - this single mom gig is rough duty}.

Saturday night - Grilled Balsamic Flank Steak
The hubs can grill. He must take a night off eventually. And I'm pretty sure grilling is cathartic. Right?! I'll serve this with roasted or grilled veggies.  

Sunday night - Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs
We have a cold front coming through and this will be a glorious day to have something warm simmering on the stove making the house smell incredible. Yes, it does take all day to make, but that's what Sunday's are for.  Make extra.  The leftovers are divine. Serve with a side salad and crusty bread. 

Monday night - Easy White Chicken Chili
I'm hoping the air is still brisk.  This is an easy weeknight dinner. Hopefully you have leftover crusty bread.

Tuesday night - Salmon with Avocado Salsa.
Another quick weeknight meal. Quinoa as the side with similar salsa ingredients incorporated and dressed with lemon and olive oil.  Of course, it will be hot again so this will be refreshing.

Wednesday night - Vanilla Bean-Whipped Sweet Potatoes.
I realize this is a side, but I could eat the entire bowl pictured.  I love this with a pork tenderloin {roasted at 425 for 20-25 minutes}.

Enjoy!


Friday, June 28, 2013

#StandwithWendy

I assume the vast majority of you, not just Texans but Americans, have now heard about the epic stand Wendy Davis took in the Texas Senate on Tuesday. The national networks all covered the story on Wednesday and Davis took a well-deserved victory lap on the morning show circuit.

Abortion is among the most divisive issues in American politics. It has the power to rally the grassroots, inspire explosive rhetoric, boost candidacies and raise money for both parties. I do not intend to debate its merits. My thoughts on the matter are of no consequence to most of you, and I am not likely to change your mind if our views do not align.

But suffice to say, yes, I stand with Wendy. I wholeheartedly believe that limiting a state the size of Texas {268,820 sq. miles} to approximately five licensed abortion clinics is not in the best interest of the women in Texas.

That is where I'll leave it on the substance of this issue, because what concerns me {not more than the merits, but concerns me} is what happened after the successful filibuster and what seems to be happening in politics in general.  

While #StandwithWendy went viral across America, and Davis rocketed to sudden, national political stardom, Governor Perry, clamoring for the national spotlight himself, immediately admonished the star of the Democratic filibuster, saying state Senator Wendy Davis's rise from tough upbringing to Harvard Law graduate should have taught her the value of each human life.  

Wait.  Stop right there.  

He did not. 

Certainly the Governor of Texas, and Presidential hopeful, would not be so openly crass and unfeeling as to suggest that a Texas Senator should support ending abortion rights in Texas simply because she was born to anything less than a wealthy two-parent family?!?  

Surely you jest.

Sadly, no. 

"Who are we to say that children born in the worst of circumstances can't lead successful lives?" Perry said in a speech to nearly 1,000 delegates at the National Right to Life Conference in suburban Dallas. "Even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances."

And he doesn't stop there. 

He added, “She was the daughter of a single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters."

And further.

"I'm proud that she's been able to take advantage of her intellect and her hard work, but she didn't come from particularly good circumstances," our governor commented to reporters. "What if her mom has said, 'I just can't do this.' At that particular point in time I think it becomes very personal."

Personal, indeed.  

Did he truly insinuate that her pedigree alone suggests her mother may have considered an abortion?

Rick Perry's remarks are not only incredibly condescending to Davis personally, but are also incredibly insulting to all women. These remarks which show so little regard for women are exactly why the vast majority of women believe politicians shouldn't be involved in a woman's personal health care decision in the first place.

Last I checked, abortions are not only offered to poor single mothers. Sadly, in Texas, though, Perry has slashed funding to Planned Parenthood ensuring many poor single mothers do not have access to birth control, and thus, are more likely to get accidentally pregnant.

Brilliant.

Thankfully, Davis didn't take it too personally and was able to take the high road, stating, “Rick Perry’s statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds."

Indeed.

I expect more of my elected officials.

I expect dignity.

I expect a leader who doesn't take cheap shots at other elected officials. Or anyone.

Dignity.

It seems to be in very short supply these days.

Shame on you, Governor Perry.

Shame on you for hitting below the belt.

For making it personal.

And shame on Texas for continuing to allow Perry to hold the highest office in our great State.

Americans, please do not make the same mistake!

To that end, I'd love to get another hashtag trending: #DonewithPerry.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Gift of an Ordinary Day.

My BFF shared this YouTube video with me last week while I was away on a family vacation. 


Yes, I look, and most certainly was, delirious. Traveling as a family, especially for a ski vacation, has that effect on me.  Either that or I had one too many beers at lunch.  
It's really anyone's guess. 

But back to the video. 

It struck accord with me today. 

It probably would have any day, but it did so especially today.

Spending time away as a family is such a magical time. 
Returning to the daily grind, however, is not. 

It's so very easy to loose a sense of perspective on life.

Because what really is important is the every day. 

Not the milestones, or the fancy vacations, but the little every day moments. 

Grab the Kleenex and enjoy! 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Butterflies and Rainbows. Or not.

While watching the Oscars {or was it the Grammys?!} a few weeks ago, I saw a tweet that stated Adele and Taylor Swift are basically the same age. 

Yes, go ahead and let that sink in a bit. 

Taylor Swift and Adele.  

The same age. 

How can that be when one seems perpetually stuck in boy-crazy middle school and the other has the composure and grace of a much older and more mature woman. No offense to Taylor. She is absolutely darling -- just in a young-girl-head-in-the-clouds sort of way. Adele, on the other hand, is gorgeous and a mother and seemingly much more mature {in my humble opinion}. 

When I shared this fact with Little Miss Thang {who adores both artists} she was equally aghast. She quickly recovered, though, and offered this explanation: I suppose Taylor Swift has had a much easier life and Adele's has been harder, because Taylor is more a rainbows and butterfly girl and Adele is  tougher or edgier. 

An astute observation. I have no idea how accurate this may or may not be, but she makes a valid point that your experiences and upbringing ultimately form, or at least have bearing upon, the person you become. 

As Little Miss Thang reaches her 1st decade birthday this week -- double digits and her golden birthday as she says -- I began to reflect on the past decade as a mother of this mighty might.

Nine years of birthday celebrations!

While we are now firmly betwixt child and teen,  I can already see she is quite clearly becoming a young lady I admire -- equal parts sweet and sass. Or in other words, a little bit butterflies and rainbows, but undoubtedly, with an edge all her own.

She is annoyed by her boy-crazy friends and still insists she is not getting married

She has impeccable manners and uses them quite sparingly. 

She absolutely loves all animals and hates anything pink. 

She enjoys the company of many friends but will not declare a bestie. 

She still loves spending time with her mommy but dashes out the door as soon as a friend calls texts. 

She plays with dolls but has given away her Barbies. 

She inhales 200+ page books in a single day, but she refuses to give away her Rainbow Magic fairy series. 

She only cries during movies and books when an animal dies {never when a human, usually the mom, dies!}. 

She would skydive tomorrow if we let her but is deathly afraid of bugs. 

Just enough butterflies and rainbows to want a dress-up party for her 10th birthday. But a dress-up party with an edge -- red carpet themed complete with an actual red carpet and paparazzi. 

10th Birthday Red Carpet Celebration
And so it seems Little Miss Thang mastered this balance with no concerted effort on my part. 

In fact, I posit she was born this way. 

Amazing how we plan to actively raise our children only to later realize we are really just along for the ride, or perchance, to learn a few things ourselves.

Please remind me of this again in another few years when I am fully enmeshed in the teen years! 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Blog-dying-slowly.

In the beginning {of my blog, not the world} I posted six to seven times a week.  Eventually the adrenaline wore off and I slowed to five.

I held steady at that level for some time.

But then eventually fell to 2-3.

Now, however, I feel challenged to post even once a week. 

Why is that? 

Life has changed, for certain, but I think there is more underlining this blog-dying-slowly movement I'm witnessing. 

I offer a few explanations: 

1.  I had years of stories built up when I started. I had emotions that I needed to work through. Writing was integral in that process for me. Now I have to wait weeks, or sometimes a month, for anything blog-worthy to share. We are a fairly run-of-the-mill family. We do all the same things you do in any given week -- which never seems boring at the time -- but I realize no one wants to read about the mundane if I can't add an interesting twist to it. I don't even want to write about it. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite enjoying this calm period in life. Truly. It is just not good blog fodder.   

2. I'm learning to be still. Surprising, I know. But I've realized over the years that filling my world with more and more and more and more does not make be happier; just busier. I've said "no!" more the past few years. I've kept commitments I enjoy and shed a few others that do not add to my joy. I have most certainly made strides in not adding to my plate simply so I can insist to others that my plate is full. Feeling the need to "blog" is not something I do just so I have something to "do." I do not glorify busyness. Some days my plate is not full. I'm proud of such days and think I will have truly arrived when I maintain a standing bi-monthly facial and manicure. 

3. I want to move more and sit less. I started this blog in my 30s {late 30s for those who are counting}. Now I'm well into my 40s. I love my 40s, but my "you must have a tapeworm" metabolism seems to have failed me. I need to exercise more and sit on my butt less. I'd like to think I'm motivated by a quest to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but if we are being honest here {we are, right?}, it's mainly because I have amassed a pretty nice wardrobe in one size. Changing sizes is absolutely unthinkable. 

Yes, I realize 2 and 3 appear contradictory, but hopefully you can see why both are important. 

4. I've said this before and you've undoubtedly read it elsewhere, but my children's stories are no longer something that can be told over the loudspeaker of the internet. They deserve some privacy. As does my husband. And my friends. What does that leave? I could blog about my travails in again chairing the silent auction at my kids' school. I know you love when I get on a good rant. Look for that sometime mid-April.

5. I refuse to rant about politics. I want to. I have lots of opinions you don't want to hear. I could almost certainly ostracize the majority of my readers, but it just doesn't seem to fit my brand of whimsy. So, all that political mumbo-jumbo swirling around in my head will just have to stay there. But if you want to chat / debate just let me know. I'll gladly unleash on anyone willing. But only those willing. The rest of you are safe.

6. Pinterest ruined me. True. I've thought this many times. I used to share a cute item, cool saying, a fantasy vacation photo, or just a great recipe I found on the internet. It just felt right to share the folly and helped provide fodder when life did not. I can still do that, I realize, but pinning it is so much easier and you don't really need my commentary. It feels a little cheap to just post a quote now. They are a dime a dozen on Pinterest. I've always enjoyed providing fresh content.

7. I've not pursued freelance writing. That is the next step for a blogger. I've watched as many, many bloggy friends tred and then dive into the freelance writing market. I've not even dipped my toe in the waters. Truly, I like writing for me. When I feel like writing. Anything else is work. Refer back to #2.

8. Dinners this Week as a feature was a hit, but honestly, I repeat the same recipes so often now I cannot bear to post if for you all to see. Pork tenderloin and lemon chicken again?! Yes. Nearly ever week. I'm in a dinner rut too. Do you think the dinner rut and bloggy rut are connected? Free counseling is welcome. Comments are open.

I apologize to those of you who find my lack of  motivation to entertain you with more frequency sad. Inspire me. Kidnap me and take me on a high seas adventure. That would be blog-worthy. But having a sick kid at home again today {which I how I found the time to type this tirade} is not.

To those of you who faithfully read whatever I post whenever I post:  Thank you.

I hope I surprise you from time to time with something worthy of the time you've invested in me!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pinteresting Valentines.

I have undoubtedly learned quite a bit from Pinterest. Quite frankly, Pinterest is my favorite form of social media {but please don't tell Instagram, a close second}. 

Mostly, I conclude, because it adds tangible value to my life. Other forms of social media add value in terms of interaction with friends, but Pinterest actually inspires me to do more {which you will then undoubtedly see if you follow my Instagram feed}. 

I meal plan. I make homemade ricotta. I am inspired to set a beautiful holiday table. I redecorate my kids' bedrooms {happening now}. I consider new pillows for the living room and new plants for my urns. I bake more. I bake more. And I bake more. 

Quite simply, Pinterest is a crucial tool for a challenged homemaker such as myself. 

You see, I am not creative in the least. Original, creative ideas do not bloom in my feeble mind. I simply copy others' ideas and impress my few friends who are not on Pinterest.

But I also fear I've morphed into one of those moms. You know who I mean. You were already thinking it -- the mom whose kids show up with the perfect Valentine's treat. The mom whose Valentine's box looks as if Martha Stewart made a house call.

No, I don't fancy myself a Martha Stewart-like maven. Again, I'm just copying others, but I nonetheless feel the glares on the back of my head from the other moms at school. The ones whose daughters show up with a common Valentine's box covered in stickers.

I'm sorry, moms. I swear I do have better things to do. Many, many other things in fact, all of which were put on the back burner this weekend while we created the perfect Valentine's boxes and treats. Oh, and I baked. 

The Valentines inspiration:


all photos via Pinterest {except my duo below}

The cookies I made to kick-start our Valentine's week!
I kid you not.





Boy Genius's box inspiration and inspired candy of choice. 



Little Miss Thang's box inspiration and treats of choice. 
Pop Rocks for boys and homemade friendship bracelets for girls.

I've also pinned meal inspiration for the our family celebration. But I won't show that now so as not to ruin the surprise for the Hubs {hey babe!}. 

So, yes, I am that mom. 

I am the mom who will stay up late at night meticulously formatting the stickers for the bubble tape. I am the mom that spends a good portion of a Saturday afternoon helping her kids make their chosen Valentine's box. 

And yes, I am that mom that makes heart pancakes for the entire class on Valentine's morning. And then serves spaghetti and meatballs at lunch. 

Because, I can.  

I am not that mom to make other moms feel better or worse about themselves as a mom. 

In fact, it has nothing at all to do with other moms, but everything to do with this: 



Are you that mom too?




Tuesday, February 5, 2013

THE shoe of the season.


A bit. 

But I'm more or less at terms with who I am and where I am in life. I do, as you know, occasionally wonder whether or not I can pull off a romper or shiny jeans. I fear, however, this is more demonstrative of my well-instilled {possibly misplaced} confidence than of my internal aging struggle. 

I strive to strike the balance between aging gracefully and staying current / relevant. I often say I blog because it keeps me in tune with so much of the world to which I would not otherwise be exposed. 

Until today I thought that a good thing. 

Today, however, my {barely a whisper} internal aging dialog become a booming, cackling laugh in the back of my head. All this was brought to bear by a darling young blogger {who shall remain nameless} who was super jazzed {that's my old word, not her young word which I cannot remember - because I'm old} about her new wedge high tops. 

Say what? 
Isabel Marant via Net-a-Porter
And get this:  They cost $640. 

US Dollars, not Pesos. 

I wrongly assumed this was a designer-gone-wild incident and this blogger a rogue fashionista. 

But oh no, this is the shoe of the season

THE SHOE OF THE SEASON!?!?!?

Plenty of options at Piperlime

I'm speechless. 

Well, nearly. 

It is not as if this is the first trend I refuse to embrace. I'm not a trendy girl. I naturally gravitate towards the classics {only occasionally with a twist}.  

This is simply the first trend that made me think someone is playing a cruel, cruel joke on young girls by reinventing the hightop as a wedge and charging outrageous amounts of money for the privilege of looking hip {or ridiculous depending on your point of view}. 

And so today it is resolved: I am old and proud of it. I do not need to ask whether or not I can pull off the wedge high top. No input from my gracious readers is required. I am now quite ready to sit back and giggle at the trends as they pass me by. 

So from my comfy chair far, far away from Fashion Week I say, "Sport your sneakers and rock your heels. Just don't try to do it at the same time." 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New York City Girls' Trip

After Christmas Little Miss Thang and I took a girls' trip to New York City. Our family travels fairly frequently and our kids have always been relatively good travelers, but my Little Miss Thang hit her stride on this trip. 

As I've noted before, traveling with just one child is a walk in the park. And while Little Miss Thang is {almost} always a joy, she is absolutely delightful with her twin brother 2,000 miles away! 

Even at midnight and after walking all day long! 

Me and Little Miss Thang in front of the Rockefeller Center tree
She honestly surprised me at every turn.

Adding up her American Girl purchases to ensure she was within her gift card amount. 
Insisting we must shop for clothes for me too. {Well, if you insist!}

Putting her napkin on her lap at every meal and using manners that would make the manner Nazi {the Hubs} proud. 
Waiting for tea at the Plaza {only picture without our coats}
Waiting in an excruciating long line in freezing temps to see the 9/11 Memorial without complaint.


Getting started every day by 8:30 am though we'd only turned the lights out at 12:30 am. {We'll sleep when we get home}. 
  
Times Square ~ way too late ~ and with a nice photo bomb.
Waiting patiently at dinner to join the conversation as six women inevitably jockey for the next word.

The whole gang - MIL and her daughter, Hub's Aunt and her daughter,
with  Little Miss Thang and me. 
Recognizing on her own that Rockefeller Center skating rink is overcrowded and overrated. 

Skating in Central Park {yes, I'm wearing two jackets it's so cold}

Managing long days and load and loads of walking, without complaint, as if we do it every day!

Lady Liberty
Marveling at the "snow fall" {read: sleet} that fell our first day.  I was miserably cold, but Little Miss Thang was in heaven!


Five years ago I was having a small dinner party when, sua sponte, Little Miss Thang announced to our friends: I want to live in NYC one day. We had no idea what prompted such an exclamation from a four year old, but smiled at her big city dreams. 

After visiting, marveling at the vastness {this is all Saks, all nine stories?}, experiencing the diversity {that's not Spanish!}, eating really good food at really nice restaurants, Little Miss Thang's four-year-old impulse was reignited. "Yes," she exclaimed, while busting ahead of the tourists not crossing at the crosswalk the millisecond before the light turns, "I am going to live in NYC!"  

I have no doubt. 

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Favorites this trip:
Musical:  Wicked
Dinner:  Benoit
Shopping: The Muppet Workshop at FAO Schwarz


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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Green Smoothie 101

My darling husband surprised me with a Vitamix for Christmas. I've eyed them for a couple years but could never justify the expenditure. Now that I've owned one nearly a month, however, I wonder why I waited so long. 

I do realize that many gadgets exist and that even the most basic blender is capable of making a smoothie, but this new addition to my kitchen is what got me into making smoothies.   

Maybe it's just a new gadget, but I can say quite honestly I have made around 20 green smoothies in the past 22 days. And that, my friends, is why it was worth the expense for me.

You can read as long as you'd like about the importance of eating more leafy greens and whole foods. I'd cite you to sources, but please tell this is not news!? 

And I'm not here to convince you or force my delicious green concoctions down your throat. I simply thought I'd share what I've learned and what I like. And perhaps, demystify the green smoothie for a few of you wondering how in the world I choke down so many vegetables in one sitting. 

I promise it is painless, quite satisfying as a meal replacement, and delicious! 

Basic green smoothie formula:

FIRST, choose your base / liquid
8-10 ounces of coconut water, purified water, or almond milk

SECOND, add your greens
2-3 cups of leafy greens such as kale, spinach, or chard

NEXT, add healthy fats + fruit
1 tblsp of coconut oil or nut butter or chia seeds + 1 cup organic fruit 

FINALLY, add a boost
bee pollen, raw cacao, or raw maca all have amazing health benefits. Add as directed.

I've found the key to making smooth delicious smoothies is keeping a bag of peeled, frozen bananas in your freezer. You need a stash from which to pull and the addition of a frozen banana creates a lovely texture and provides a touch of sweetness. 

I generally do not follow a specific recipe but simply utilize the basic green smoothie formula, experimenting with various combinations of fruits and vegetables. I've used cucumbers, celery, apples, pears, raspberries and more. You can use fresh or frozen fruit. If you use all fresh fruit simply add a few ice cubes before blending. 

Here are a few combinations I return to again and again: 

Kale * Pear
almond milk + kale + tahini + pear + frozen banana

Kale * Peach
almond milk + kale + tahini + peach + frozen banana

Spinach * Blueberry
almond milk + spinach + chia seeds + blueberries + frozen banana

Kale * Strawberry
almond milk + kale + almond butter + strawberries + frozen banana

Kale * Raspberry 
coconut milk + kale + chia seeds + goji berries + frozen raspberries + frozen banana

Kiwi * Strawberry
orange juice + water + spinach + frozen strawberries + kiwi + frozen banana

Pineapple * Mango
almond milk + spinach + chia seeds + frozen mango + frozen pineapple

Let me know if you have a favorite combination or any green smoothie tips! 


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Twin differences.

I am a mother of twins and, as such, feel like a bit of a control group for nurture versus nature. I have treated them equally since birth. 

They were exposed to the same foods on the same days. They each slept the same amounts. I read to them both. Equally. I snuggled with them both. A lot. I sat on our playroom floor for hours upon hours and days upon days for years upon years. I was not a hurried mother with an older child pulling me in another direction. I was very, very present. 

One sat up earlier than the other. Of course, then the other walked first. 

One slept through the night effortlessly and the other gave me a run for my Baby Wise money. One lost four teeth before the other lost any.  

One began reading long before the other. And multiplied. And now reduces fractions quite well. 

But they started / tried sports at the same age. 

They were exposed to the same amount of television. The same vacations and enrichment. 

At a certain age their experiences began to differ based upon what they chose. Soccer for one, dance for the other. But they attend the same gifted and talented charter school. And otherwise live quite similar lives.

And yet, they are so very different now. Different not just in the activities they chose (though yes, those differ), but in their inner little beings. Different in sentimentalities. Different in sensitivities and resilience. Just so very different. 

And sometimes the differences break my heart. 

Because, I wonder, could I have done something different? Should I have recognized the differences earlier and adapted my behavior? Nurtured one more? Encouraged more social activities for one and more sports for the other? Was the convenience of equality a mistake?  

For this control group we shall never know. 

My duo at the Alamo ~ December 2013
But I do know this with all my heart, and all my soul: There is no greater calling in my life than having the privilege of raising these amazing little people. 



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