- Remember the Big Game is on five minutes after the official start time.
- Turn the tv to the wrong channel.
- Admire a bevy of Portuguese men while vaguely wondering what happened to the United States team.
- Realize there are approximately 90 ESPN channels. Go find the correct one.
- Check the score every three minutes while making lunch and cleaning the kitchen.
- Feel relief every time you see the score is still 0-0. Your team isn’t losing. Yet.
- Make yourself nachos for lunch in honor of the festivities.
- Realize that nachos are probably not World Cup worthy.
- Try not to be overcome with shame at your pedestrian food choices.
- Eat the nachos because they are delicious.
- Think lustful thoughts about cold beer.
- Giggle at the player who just ran into a referee and fell flat on his back as if he’d just been run over by an elephant. Notice that the referee just kept on going.
- Remember the Robin Williams bit about dramatic soccer players. Giggle about that too.
- Ponder the whole soccer vs football dilemma. You’ve always called it soccer, should you change now? The rest of the world calls it football which makes way more sense than calling American football football. But if you switch are you just a poser? Does it matter? Are you seriously still thinking about this?
- Feel disappointment but not surprise when you see that the other team has scored a goal while you were sweeping up an unimaginable amount of food debris from under the table.
- Realize that because there are no adults in the house to speak to you’ve basically been talking to yourself inside your head for an hour.
- Decide that talking to yourself for an hour is totally not weird if you were in fact composing a blog post. Now it’s just creative and not at all depressing.
- Make banana bread.
- Change the sheets on the bed.
- Start the dishwasher.
- Put the baby down for her nap.
- Play hide and seek.
- Read a book about bees while pretending you don’t fucking hate bees.
- Notice halfway through the bee book that the game is over and your team lost.
- Put the big kids down for a rest.
- BLOG THAT SHIT.
My oldest child, my son Max, is turning five. Five, you guys. FIVE. On one hand it makes perfect sense. He’s getting bigger. He’s been around a few years. He has big kid interests…but! But…he’s my baby! He can’t be five because he’s just a soft, chubby little pumpkin that I gave birth to a few weeks ago, right? No. Not right. He’s FIVE.
I know I sound a little dismayed, because I am, but I am also really proud. I’m proud of him for being so big and beautiful. (you should see his eyelashes!) I’m proud of him for being almost scarily smart. I’m proud of him for being so strong and brave and hungry to learn new things.
I’m proud of myself too. Somehow, someway I’ve raised him for five years and he seems to be mostly doing ok. He’s healthy, he knows how to think for himself (inconvenient though that may be at times…) and he seems to be a happy little fellow. We have our rough patches but at the end of the day he will still cuddle up next to me to tell me how he’s feeling and what he’s thinking. We talk and hug and I think, “Well, if I’ve done nothing else right today, at least he knows he is loved.”
And he is. So very very loved. More than he will ever be able to imagine.
My pregnancy with Max was textbook normal in the best possible way. I had intense nausea but it only lasted through the first trimester. The second trimester was glorious. I ate many carefully scrutinized foods (you never know where mercury or Listeria or caffeine might be hiding!) and grew all the right amounts and experienced the joy of feeling my tiny baby bumping around inside my belly. We had an ultrasound to find out his sex but had our doctor put the results in an envelope that we saved until Christmas morning. That was the most exciting Christmas EVER. We found out he was a boy and nearly lost our minds with happiness because we’d always dreamed of having a boy first. We battled over his name until I issued a decree a month before he was born saying that if the Hubs couldn’t compromise on something with me before I gave birth he would forfeit his right to have any input at all. Because I’ll be damned if I’m going to get bossed around after I push a baby out of my vagina. The Hubs is a pretty clever fellow so we sorted out the baby’s name shortly thereafter; Jon Maxwell but we would call him Max.
The third trimester was largely uneventful. I had a couple extra ultrasounds because my measurements were a little off and it turned out that the fluid surrounding the baby was a little low. Luckily it wasn’t serious and did seem to remedy itself. I was fairly stressed out at work and was lucky enough to be in a position to quit before the baby came. So I had six weeks all to myself before his arrival. It was magnificent. There are no words to describe the absolute decadence of being an adult with no kids and no job but also no worries about paying the bills because of The Hubs. I have never taken even one moment of that time for granted. I went to the gym every day and power-waddled on the treadmill. I took naps if I was tired. I cooked foods that I wanted to eat. I read books for hours with no interruptions. It was pure bliss.
Meanwhile, the pregnancy was still progressing nicely. Towards the end I was starting to dilate, the baby was dropping and all things seemed to be gearing up for birth. At my 40 week check up, my OB suggested that we do one last ultrasound to check the baby’s fluid. Assuming that was still looking good we were all set to just wait until he decided to show up on his own. I had zero interest in an induction. My goal was a natural a birth as possible. As it turned out, my fluid was pretty low. Not super-dangerous-freak-out-low but low enough that sitting around for the next week or two and waiting to see what happened wasn’t really a good idea. She recommended we go to the hospital and begin an induction. I cried. She sat by the table patting my leg and reassuring me that everything would be ok. I was already dilated to 4 cm and would likely not need much help at all to get going. I knew it would all work out fine in the end but I still felt scared and sad. The OB gave us a couple of hours to go home and get our stuff before checking in to the hospital. I took my sweet time because I’m passive aggressive like that but yes, I did gather up my things and go to the hospital in a timely manner. It was about 3:30 pm by the time I got there. My mom actually beat us there and met my nurse before I did! As it turned out, the nurse was the mother of a student at my mom’s school so they were somewhat familiar with each other, which was fun and kind of nice. It definitely helped to ease my nerves a bit.
Our nurse got us settled in our room and hooked me up with an iv of pitocin to get contractions started. The waiting began. I was on a pretty low dose of pitocin so the contractions weren’t too bad at first. I could definitely feel them, and they didn’t feel great, but they were ok. I was standing next to my bed, chatting with my parents and waiting for my poor doula to arrive through awful rush hour traffic. While all this was going on, the anesthesiologist came in to chat with me about an epidural. I told him that I planned to just wait and see how things went and that I preferred to go without the meds if possible. He smiled and told me that I’d probably be calling him back in once I was dilated closer to 4 cm. I told him I walked into the hospital at 4 cm and I was fine, thanks. This fellow proved to be not nearly so clever as the Hubs because he continued to talk. A lot. I was still standing next to my bed at this point and Dr Drugs had the moxie (or an utter lack of social cue reading skills) to smile again and tell me that he was “quite sure” he’d be seeing me later because he had seen many laboring women and knew that I would undoubtedly want the epidural at some point. My clever husband and my wise mother were sitting on the sofa with their eyebrows raised nearly off their foreheads. I smiled and told him that I was pretty sure I’d know what I wanted when I wanted it and if it had anything to do with him I’d let him know and now in the meantime I’d like to be done talking, thank you. He finally seemed to realize that I was not anxious to partake in his catheter of delights and left my room. The Hubs said he’d never seen someone fuck up a sale so thoroughly in his life. My mom said that was when she knew that unless something went horribly awry I would definitely not be getting an epidural. They were both right. Because seriously, fuck that guy. Who is he to tell me what I want?! I don’t care how many laboring women he’s seen, he is still a man and has no fucking clue about the complexity of what goes on inside a laboring woman’s mind and body. Also, if he hadn’t been such a pompous dickhead maybe I would have changed my mind but as it was, NOPE. Go make your money elsewhere, d-bag.
(Ok, I might still be a little irritated about that. But seriously guys, if you could have seen the smug, condescending look on his face! UGH!)
Moving on! My lovely doula arrived shortly after that. We recounted the story to her and she basically just rolled her eyes, sighed and said, “Drug dealers. They’re all the same no matter where they’re selling.” Which made us laugh. Which was good.
(Side note: Just to be clear, my issue here isn’t with the use of pain medication during labor. My issue is with the douchery of the doctor I was dealing with. His job was to inform me of my options and let me make a decision. What he did was talk in circles and attempt to inform me of what my decision should/would be. And that is decidedly NOT his job.)
Seriously moving on now. I promise.
At this point I had been hooked up to the pitocin for a while and the contractions were starting to take a little more work now. So my parents cleared out and it was just the Hubs and my doula with the nurse popping in every so often to check on things. I did as much walking around as possible, which was basically back and forth to the bathroom because I couldn’t unhook my monitors for too long at any one time. I was getting tired and frustrated with all the machines: the iv, the baby monitor wrapped around my belly, the blood pressure cuff on my arm…it was overwhelming. At about 8pm my OB came in to check on me and suggested that we break my water to help move things along a little more. She felt that if we did that we might not need to up the dosage of the pitocin. I was on the fence about it but did decide to go that route in the end. So we broke my water and things went from mildly miserable to definitely miserable. Now not only was I tethered to machines but I was gross and leaky and in more pain. This continued with slow but steady progress from about 8:30pm until midnight. At midnight I asked for my nurse and told her that I was still 100% sure that I didn’t want an epidural but that I DID want a break. I told her that I just wanted a little break to rest and not feel quite so awful. She said she could absolutely help with that and offered a small dose of nubain. She explained that I would still be able to feel the contractions when they came but they wouldn’t seem quite so bad and that I’d be able to rest much better between them. I thought that sounded just right for me so I went for it. I got the medication sometime shortly after midnight. My nurse and my doula helped to arrange me on my side in bed with my top leg in a stirrup; which sounds awful and sort of was at first but actually ended up being really good. For the next hour, I dozed a bit between contractions while my husband held my hand and helped me breathe through the contractions when they came. It was exactly what I needed. As 1am approached I was feeling more and more pressure from the baby and my contractions were right on top of each other. My nurse checked my cervix and it was time to start pushing. I was relieved and excited and ready to do whatever it took to have this baby and be DONE with labor already!
My nurse and doula helped me get into position on the bed and then my nurse told me we should try a couple of practice pushes. But see, once I started pushing it was so very obviously the right thing to do and my body didn’t really get the whole concept of “practice pushing”. I pushed a couple of times and my nurse was all, “Oh great!! Let’s try to hold off a little longer so your doctor can get here, ok?” And being the classy lady that I am, I replied, “Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?!” And she, being far classier and smarter than most people, replied to that with a quick nod and “Ok then, just do your thing. We’ll figure it out.”
So we did.
My doctor made it in plenty of time. The poor thing had literally just made it back to her sofa for a quick nap after an emergency c-section that night when they called her back for me. She rushed back up to the hospital and helped me learn how to push through the pain. I can still hear her in my mind telling me to use the pain, to take the power of it and use it to push through. My nurse was on one side, my doula on the other and my sweet husband was literally walking circles around us all, probably getting in everyone’s way, though they were all too nice to tell him to settle down. Finally, after about 45 minutes of pushing, our gorgeous boy arrived. The elation of that moment is indescribable. I’ve said it before and it might be the truest thing I’ve ever said, having a baby is the best high you can possibly imagine. The Hubs called our mom’s who were out in the waiting room. I was told later they hugged while crowded around the cell phone to hear Max’s cry. My doula cried. My nurse (who had volunteered to stay past the end of her shift so she could help me through the birth) had someone bring me food, proving again that she really was the classiest and smartest of us all. Meanwhile I sat in bed holding my baby, falling in love and feeling like the biggest badass on the planet; never mind the exhaustion.
Max was a chubby 8 pounds 3 ounces of pure, cuddly perfection. He had the most perfect head of tiny brown hair. It looked painted on, like a little doll. His cheeks were munchable. I almost expired of joy once I got a whiff of his delectable new baby smell. I think I sat around smelling his soft, round head for the next twelve hours straight.
I don’t know how to describe what a life-changing experience this was. It was unbelievably challenging. It was infinitely rewarding. I think my heart shattered and re-knit itself into a completely different form that day.
The past five years with this little man have been some of the most intense and wonderful years of my life. Five years really isn’t all that long but at the same time I feel like I barely even remember a life without him in it; my beautiful boy.
Happy Birthday, Jon Maxwell.
This is basically going to be a fangirl post followed by a recipe. You’ve been warned. If you don’t like carbs or cookbooks…well, then I’m not sure why you’re here but maybe I can convert you because these cookies are FUN!
But first, the cookbook! I’ve been a fan of smitten kitchen for a long time. It’s easily my favorite food blog and Deb’s recipes never fail. Her Buttermilk Roast Chicken and Mom’s Apple Cake are comfort food staples at my house. When I heard she had a cookbook coming out I was thrilled and I have no idea what took me so long to get my hands on it. As it turns out I ended up receiving two copies of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas and it has been everything I hoped it would be. Great photography, delicious recipes, adorable anecdotes…absolutely classic. I foresee myself cooking from this book for years to come.
This popcorn cookie recipe was very intriguing to me. I had never even considered putting popcorn in cookies before and honestly only made this recipe because I thought my kids would like and it seemed über simple. As it turns out, not only was it über simple but it was addictive; a fabulous combination of salty and sweet. The flavor is similar to caramel corn but without the cloying sweetness that can sometimes have. Add to that the chewiness of cookie mixed with the crunch of popcorn and it’s just perfection.
Make this happen for yourself. You will not regret it.
Smitten Kitchen Buttered Popcorn Cookies
2 Tbs oil
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 tsp table salt
1 Tbs butter – melted
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter – softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
Make the popcorn: Pour the oil in the bottom of a large saucepan (with lid) and add the popcorn kernels. Shake the pan around so the kernels land in a single layer over the bottom of the pan. Cover the pot, heat over medium-high heat and once the kernels start popping keep the pan moving until all the kernels have popped. Toss the table salt and melted butter over the popcorn. You may want to transfer the popcorn to another bowl so you can fish out any unpopped kernels. You should have about 4 to 4 1/2 cups of popcorn.
Mix the dough: Preheat your oven to 350. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Stir the combined dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture. Fold in the popcorn so it’s evenly distributed throughout the batter. This will seem impossible at first because the batter to popcorn ratio is crazy but I promise, it works. Just keep at it for a minute or two and don’t worry about some of the popcorn breaking up. It all turns out great in the end.
Bake the cookies: Scoop heaping tablespoon sized mounds 2 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are light brown. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for a few minutes to firm up before transferring them to a cooling rack.
…is not where you think it is. There are no friendly mice or glamorous princesses. Well, there might be ONE princess but she prefers neons and animal prints over pink and poufy any day. If you’re wondering about the prince, he’s there too. He loves legos and hex bugs and mine craft. The queen is a stunning zumba/barbell/step-aeorbics instructor who rules firmly but fairly in the magical kingdom of Newsouri.
(It should be noted that Newsouri is, in fact, Missouri in kid-speak.)
My son, Max, is nearly five years old and he makes sure to tell me daily that he plans to run away to Newsouri in order to escape my tyranny. I didn’t know it at first but it seems that I’m actually the evil queen in this situation. Ruling with an iron fist and unreasonable demands like:
“Please tidy up your bed.”
“Go put your shoes in your shoe basket”
“You need to flush the toilet EVERY time you use it.”
and the worst of them all… “No, you may not have cookies before breakfast.”
I know. You’re wondering what kind of monster I am or how I manage to live with myself issuing orders such as these. Quite frankly, I’m beginning to wonder too. Especially in light of his constant threats to move to his Auntie’s house…in Newsouri.
Moving to Newsouri is his solution to everything. Don’t want to eat what I cooked for dinner? Move to Newsouri! Get in trouble for hitting your brother? Run away! To Newsouri! Hate cleaning up after yourself? Max says that in Newsouri, you NEVER have to clean up your toys. So you should definitely go there. (Though I have a sneaking suspicion that these rules would be news to all the children who currently reside in the grand state of Newsouri.)
At first, I was sympathetic to these outbursts and threats. I know it’s a sort of phase. He’s testing, pushing our buttons, experimenting with threats and ultimatums. I remember doing this as a kid too. There was always somewhere that I was just certain wouldn’t have such awful rules about behaving and cleaning up after yourself. So I get it. I really do. But I’m also OVER IT. My kid has threatened to relocate to Newsouri so many times that I’ve barely stopped short of telling him to just fucking do it already. As it stands, I’ve started to talk him through the logistics of moving out-of-state. I tell him that Daddy and I would be heartbroken to see him go but if he really thinks it’s the best thing to do then he’d better prepare properly. I remind him that Newsouri is really far away and well, he can’t drive yet so he’s going to have to walk and it’s literally going to take him several days to get from our house to his Auntie’s. Also, those legos that he doesn’t want to clean up? Yeah, he can’t really take those with him because they won’t all fit in his backpack and I’m not entirely sure that he could carry them while walking that far. And I’m not really sure how he would eat while he was traveling because he doesn’t have much money to buy food with and I’m not sure that he knows where all the restaurants are. So many details! Who knew?! His solution, of course, is to have his Auntie and cousins come pick him up in their car. It’s a good solution. It would get him safely from point A to point B. Except I’m pretty sure his Auntie isn’t in the market for a cute but bitchy five-year old right now.
Sometimes I also like to remind him of the reality of how his Auntie rules her roost. She’s the one who taught him the phrase, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” So I’m not entirely sure where his idea of her as a permissive, lovey-dovey, everyday-is-a-party kind of Aunt came from. The most recent example would be this conversation:
(I walked into the kitchen at 7am one day to find that Max had eaten all but one of the sugar cookies we had planned to have for their afternoon snack that day. He was well aware that this was not ok. I called him into the kitchen to talk about it…)
Me: Well honey, sneaking cookies before breakfast is not ok. I hope you understand that this means you will not be having a cookie for snack this afternoon.
Max: What?! But I WANT a cookie for snack!!
Me: I know but you chose to sneak in here and eat cookies before breakfast. Now the only cookie left is the one I had saved for Mason. So he will still be able to eat his cookie later but you will just have to eat something different.
Max: NO!!!!! I want to eat a cookie!! Mason can just share his! It’s a big cookie!
Me: I will not make Mason share his cookie. You’ve already eaten more than your share of the cookies. You made a choice to be sneaky and eat them this morning. That choice has a consequence, which is that now there is no cookie for you to eat this afternoon.
Max: That’s IT! I’m leaving! I’m moving to Newsourri!! I can eat whatever cookies I want in Newsouri!
Me: (who is sick to death of hearing about Newsourri) Oh really?! You wanna know something about Newsouri? Your Auntie, who lives in Newsouri, DOESN’T BAKE COOKIES. THERE ARE NO COOKIES IN NEWSOURI. Your Auntie bakes cookies once year, at Christmas, and that’s it. Your Auntie doesn’t even eat potatoes so I can promise you she’s not baking cookies just for fun.
Max: (looks completely shell-shocked. I think his eyes might fall out of his head. He has never known an existence without baked goods.) Well…I still might go!
Le sigh. I’m at a loss. If he were older I might seriously consider seeing if my sister would take him for a couple weeks. A couple weeks where she just happened to need a lot of help doing projects in her house or yard. I feel like we would both win in that situation. Free labor for her, a little tarnishing of the Newsouri gleam for me. But he’s four, going on five. He’s young, if sassy, and I’m trying to get through this phase without losing my sanity. I know his version of life in Newsouri is complete fiction, made up in his clever little head but somehow it still stings to have it thrown in my face every damn day.
I’ve started fantasizing about a preschooler version of Scared Straight; no cookies, no iPads, lots of chores, early bedtimes and someone is always using your favorite action figure.
Until then, I’ll continue my mean mommy ways and finish each day with a visit to the bar cart. I have a feeling there are mom’s in The Kingdom of Newsouri who do the same.
February 14th is Valentine’s Day and from what I can tell people are divided into three basic groups about it.
Those Who LOVE It: Flowers! Candy! Fancy Dinners! Gifts! Kisses and cuddles! What’s NOT to love?!
Those Who Are Cool With It: Yeah, I will totally eat a pink frosted cupcake but no, I will not make out with you.
Those Who HATE It: Ridiculous! Waste of Money! Romance make me want to punch people!
Haters, your rage is showing. Which is ok, I guess. You are entitled to your ragey feelings. You don’t have to like Valentine’s Day. I just feel like maybe I can help explain why other people like it so that you can, you know, calm the fuck down. Let’s talk through some of your complaints and see if we can’t find you a little peace, alright?
- But it’s so commercialized! Hallmark holiday! Greedy greeting card companies…blah blah blah…
I get this. I really do. I get irritated about the commercialization of holidays too. I hate when I start seeing Christmas decorations in the store when it’s not even Halloween yet. Hell, I went to Target recently and they’re already putting up the Easter stuff and we haven’t even gotten through Valentine’s Day yet. Absurd. But here’s the deal; companies are in the business of making money. They want to sell you shit. Any shit you will buy they want to sell to you. Case in point: cookie dough Oreos. If that’s not some gross abuse of retail power I don’t know what is. So when there’s a holiday that’s existed for hundreds of years coming up, you can bet your booty every shit-selling entity on the planet is going to try to get you to buy something for it. Bottom line, you are not a rebel for refusing to buy Valentine’s Day cards. You’re just someone who saved themselves three bucks…that you’re probably going to spend at Starbucks anyway. Way to stick it to The Man.
2. Why do people send flowers? It’s so depressing when they die!
Come here. Sit down. Take my hand. No, it’s not weird that I’m caressing your arm. Shhh… I need to tell you something really important. Are you ready?
All the things. Literally EVERY SINGLE THING dies. Stars, animals, insects, every houseplant I’ve ever had…they all die. And thank god because spiders! Ack! That wine you’re drinking? Dead grapes. That book you read yesterday? Dead trees. The universe you live in? Dying as we speak. Here’s a cheery prediction from scientists for you, “…all the stars (will) have long burned out and the cosmos is a cold and dark place. Dead stars and black holes are all that (will) remain.” Bottom line, if you are worried about some tulips dying on your desk at work you are definitely misdirecting your angsty energy.
3. But I hate chocolate! I don’t even like candy…
Then don’t eat it? I don’t really know what to say here. I understand that you would not like to receive a huge box of Godiva truffles if you don’t enjoy chocolate but to reject an entire holiday out of hand because some people DO like to receive chocolates is a bit silly. You can’t just go around dismissing holidays because you don’t like some of the foods associated with them. I mean, take St Patrick’s Day for instance, many people don’t enjoy corned beef but everyone loves leprechauns and beer right? Ok, maybe not the best example but I think you see where I’m going. Bottom line, skip the chocolate, drink the booze. Problem solved.
4. Romance grosses me out!
What are you?! A 12 year-old boy?! Get over it. Sometimes, when two grown-ups love each other very much, they give each other a special hug and that’s how babies…oh, sorry. Wrong explanation. But seriously, if I need to explain to you why it’s ok for couples to be a little mushy and lovey-dovey once a year then maybe you need to sit in on the other talk too. Do you need to write a love sonnet to your partner in order to take part in Valentine’s Day? Nope. Do you need to gaze into your partner’s eyes and whisper sweet nothings into their ears? No again. Do you need to stop caring whether or not other people want to do those things? Yeah, you probably do. Bottom line, just tell your partner you want to get laid and be done with it. It only has to be as “mushy” as you want it to be…or as mushy as it takes to get them naked. *wink*
5. But I don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse and this kinda sucks.
Ok, I’ll give you this one. This is legit. Because if you are single and you don’t exactly want to be or you just simply feel like maybe you’re missing out on all the flower-sprinkled chocolate feasting and smooches, Valentine’s Day can kind of suck. I’ve been there and even though I was truly happy being single at the time I did still feel a little bummed about missing out on the festivities. The way I look at it you’ve got three fairly constructive options. Option 1: If there are children in your life (nieces, nephews, friend’s kids etc) join in on their fun. Make them a card. Buy them a little treat or gift. Better yet, go hang out with them and make heart-shaped pizzas or play Candyland. I’m being completely serious. It’s hard to be truly down when you’re debating whether or not Lord Licorice is a bad guy or just misunderstood with a four-year old. Option 2: Party with your other single friends. This can be as wholesome or ridiculous as you want it to be. Spa night at your house with the girls. Playing beer pong with your buddies. A movie marathon featuring the Twilight movies. (I’m kidding.) Option 3: Make someone else’s Valentine’s Day a happy one. Take cookies to an elderly neighbor. Secretly send a card or gift or (gasp!) flowers to someone you know who’s having a hard time right now. Buy people’s drinks at Starbucks pay-it-forward style. Do something that you know will make people smile. I promise, it will feel good. Bottom line, don’t let your relationship status stop you from giving and receiving love. Yes, Valentine’s Day is typically associated with romantic love but I think we all know that’s not the only kind of love worth having.
6. What the hell is up with Cupid?!
I’m with you on this one. Not compelling as far as mythological characters go and his more recent portrayal as an armed, winged baby is just weird. Please feel free to continue directing your rage at him. I won’t because I don’t want to get on his bad side (he is armed, after all) but you totally can.
Happy Valentine’s Day! XOXO
Did you know that all my friends are doing it wrong?
Doing what wrong? Everything. They are all doing everything wrong. All the things that people do are being done completely wrong by everyone I know.
How do I know this? Because Facebook tells me so.
I find this incredibly shocking because I was under the impression that I knew a lot of really nice, smart, kind, fun and just generally awesome people. I mean, I feel like we’re all friends with each other because we see the good in each other. Or maybe because we have shared experiences that brought us closer together; life as roommates, meeting on the internet and finding common ground, traveling across the world, working together, laughing together, crying together. Maybe just drinking together? (That is a definite possibility.) Sharing our uniquely human experiences with each other and finding ourselves richer for it.
However it turns out I was seeing this all wrong. I should have been looking at it differently. I should have been noticing all the ways you do things differently from me and are hence doing them totally wrong. Luckily, you have all been pointing this stuff out for me. Saving me the trouble of criticizing you myself. See, all I have to do is scroll through my Facebook newsfeed in the morning while I drink my coffee to see all your faults. “What faults?!” you might ask. Fair question. Let me list them for you:
Crossfit Friends: You’re working out wrong and you’re going to die. Or at least end up paralyzed. You should be doing something else. At least that’s what all my anti-crossfit friends tell me.
Gym Going Friends: You are boring and your workouts suck. You are nowhere near as cool as the Crossfit Friends and you should just stop trying…your workout of choice will never yield the results you want… or so say all my Crossfit Friends.
Vegan Friends: Your diet is ruining your body and all your hair is going to fall out. Oh, and don’t even think about getting pregnant because you can’t possibly do that properly on your current diet. I know because all my non-vegan friends said so.
Paleo Friends: You are a bunch of heartless murderers and you will die of heart disease from the obscene amount of fat and cholesterol you consume. I don’t know why you can’t see that. All the vegans see it perfectly.
Pro Vaccination Friends: You clearly care nothing for your children and love nothing more than to pump them full of chemicals and support the insidious evil that is Big Pharma. Too bad you’re too dumb to question the status quo and do some research for yourself. All the anti-vaxers are appalled at your behavior. What is wrong with you?
Anti Vaccination Friends: You clearly care nothing for your children and love nothing more than to spread the plague around to everyone you meet. Too bad you’re too dumb to understand that you should just shut up and do what the doctors tell you without ever asking any questions. All the pro-vaxers are appalled at your behavior. What is wrong with you?
Friends Who Still Eat Bread: You are all going to die because GLUTEN. I’m so glad all my grain-free/gluten-free friends were around to tell me! Put down that bagel! And don’t even THINK about eating pizza that was baked on anything other than a cauliflower crust!
And those are just the “easy” topics. I’m not going anywhere near politics or religion. However, you can rest assured, you’re all fucking those things up too.
I think you see the problem here.
We are ALL doing it wrong…for each other. But I’m willing to bet that we’re all doing it right for ourselves.
I don’t know why we feel the need to “educate” each other on Facebook and online in general. I’m guilty of it too. I feel passionate about things like eating good quality food (as I define it) and trying to go easy on the crazy amount of chemicals we expose ourselves and the earth to every day. I’m certain I’ve shared an article that rubbed you the wrong way or made you roll your eyes. But I do hope that I’ve never made you feel that your opinion was less valid than mine just because it was different. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of snarky sharing and commenting online lately and it has made me sad. Maybe that just means that I need to take a step back from “online” and get over it. Maybe I need to toughen up.
Or there’s another option. Maybe, we could all somehow be respectful of each others right to live our lives the way we see fit. Maybe we could stop insinuating that others’ choices are dumb simply because we don’t agree with them. Maybe we could decide to trust each others judgement. I think its safe to say that none of us want someone else making our decisions for us. (You’d be PISSED if I came into your house and took away your Oreos just because I think they are the worst cookie ever.) So why do we think that we can make someone else’s decisions better than them?
Here’s the bottom line, I know a lot of really nice, smart, kind, fun and just generally awesome people and I don’t want to change a single thing about any of you. Even those fucking Oreos.
It’s been a while. And I feel like this happened last year. Months flew by and I thought often about my blog. I wanted to blog. I half-composed posts in my mind and in the end I did not actually manage to blog. I think last year I used being pregnant with Marleigh as an excuse. This year, I’d like to follow tradition by blaming her again. She’s so busy and she has all these demands. She wants to be fed at regular intervals, talked to, played with, kept in clean diapers…it’s like parenting fucking Beyonce over here. Except there’s a lot more cuddling. And not *quite* as many sequins.
Then the holidays happened. So I completely lost a month in a wild haze of cookies, booze and online shopping. Oh, and love and togetherness and whatnot.
All that said, I think we need to catch up. Here’s what’s been going on since I last posted:
- I’ve spent approximately two billion hours nursing my baby.
- The baby has grown. A lot. Like really big and really fast. 99th percentile for height – holla!
- I’ve told the baby to stop growing. It’s not a race, Marleigh.
- My boys have become obsessed with swords. They prefer to fight with each other but when I shut that down, they’re happy to go beat the shit out of our trees. I assume Mother Nature is unimpressed.
- We attempted to grow a garden. It was not a complete failure. I mean, it was mostly a failure but we were able to eat a handful of veggies from it. Also, if you need thyme, I can totally hook you up. That shit is indestructible.
- Considered starting a support group for infant headband addiction but decided against it because I love decorating my baby’s head!!!!!
- Gave all my money to Etsy. And Baby Gap.
- Was introduced to Bourbon Balls. They’re the polite, Southern way to get lit during the holidays.
- Found out that storing leftover bourbon balls in the freezer is genius. Now
I you*ahem* someone can sneak bites of chocolate covered bourbon when they’re putting away the leftovers.
- We saw two movies in a movie theater. This is practically unheard of since we started having all these babies. It was fun.
- I may or may not have snuck mini bottles of Grey Goose into the theater. It was daring and intense but I totally played it cool. Nerves of steel over here.
- Made homemade marshmallows for the first time. It was borderline life-changing. I will never go back to store-bought. Never.
- Wondered if there is an ICU for plants. (Presumably in California? Everything grows in California.) My lemon tree needs to go there. Stat.
- Watched my sons use real tools, sharp ones, for the first time. I didn’t die of a heart attack. Probably because I’m a total badass….OR I just didn’t have time to die. Either way, success!
- Received at least four new bottles of scotch and/or bourbon because my family truly loves me.
- Bought a bar cart to hold said booze. It’s cute. Very Mad Men.
- Decided to slow things down for the next several weeks. It’s time to invest in us. Time is flying by and I don’t want to feel like I missed the good stuff because I was “busy”.
- Started thinking about planting the garden again. Let’s see what we can kill this year!!
- May have started thinking about the theme for Marleigh’s first birthday party but will totally deny it if you ask…unless we’ve been hanging out by the bar cart…or the freezer…
- Have been endlessly thankful for my husband. I still can’t figure out how I got so lucky. He is nothing short of amazing. (It’s ok, I’m done. You can stop gagging now.) But seriously, he is the BEST of ALL the people!!
- Discovered a new-found love for smoked mackerel. No, I’m not kidding.
- Got a major haircut and managed to keep my husband from divorcing me over it. I think we all know what this means; I’m really good in the…kitchen.
- Realized that the laundry will not truly be finished for approximately the next 17 years. I have made my peace.
I’m crawling out of my mom-cave to bitch about something. Because I want to complain and mom blogs are nothing if not self-indulgent.
The issue is this: I fucking hate picture books.
Few things frustrate me more than getting a new book for my kids, sitting down to read and finding that there are NO WORDS in the book. Books are for words. Words are for books. What the fuck kind of lazy ass authors are running around “writing” books without a single damn in word in them? Or maybe it’s not so much the author’s fault. Maybe its illustrators with an unwillingness to share the spotlight. I don’t know what the situation is. I just know it’s a problem.
How do these books even get published?!
Author: I’d like to publish a book.
Publisher: Great! Send a draft over so I can read it.
Author: Oh, well you won’t really have to read it. See, there aren’t any words.
Publisher: No words at all?
Author: No. Just pictures. They’re really charming pictures though.
Publisher: I see. Is this a coffee table book filled with vibrant photos of the Mediterranean?
Author: No, its…
Publisher: Fuck off. Come back when you’ve actually written something.
I mean, surely you can see where all my confusion and frustration comes from. These books shouldn’t exist.
Now I know someone out there is going to chime in with, “Imagination…blah blah…developmental milestones…blah blah…” No. NO. If your kid wants to make up a story, the words in a real book are not going to stop him. But you know what’s going to keep your kid from reading? Pages with no words on them. Which, coincidentally, also keeps me from reading.
You know what else keeps me from reading? (Bonus Rant!) My kids asking thirty questions per page every time we read a book. I know, they’re young. They’re curious. They’re learning. They’re also annoying the crap out of me. You know how irritating it is when someone is talking all through a movie you’re trying to watch? I feel that irritation x 10 when I have to read the same sentence nine times because I keep getting interrupted by questions about the Cat in the Hat’s motivation. “No, I don’t know why he is standing up there on a ball but that is not all! Oh no, that is not all!”
I know this says incredibly unflattering things about my maturity level but seriously, I just want to finish a page! Or even a sentence! By the time we reach the fifth page of pretty much any book I’m ready to throw myself out the window. My lovely, long-suffering husband will typically reach out at some point during all this and rub my back in an effort to calm me down. This is because I’m breastfeeding and still can’t drink bourbon.
I think the takeaway here is this –
DON’T: Read stupid, wordless books.
DO: Pour yourself a drink.
This post could go many ways. I could write a few paragraphs telling you how earthy and beautiful and wonderful you are now that you’ve just given birth to a brand new human being. (And seriously, good on you for that! Well done, indeed!) Remind you that the glow of happiness and breastmilk is really all you need to feel amazing about yourself each and every day. Or I could tell you a few sure-fire ways to drop a couple of pounds. Perhaps give you a handful of recipes for green smoothies; which you might be interested to find out are green due to large amounts of vegetables and not green m&m’s. Somewhat disappointing but true. However, what I’m going to do instead is something far more practical. I’m going to tell you how not to look like you got hit by a truck.
Of course I would never tell you that you DID look like you’d been hit by a truck. You know, inner beauty and all that sort of thing. But here’s the deal, I think most of us who’ve just had babies tend to look a little, ummm…rough during those first sleepless months. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you look all dewy and perfect after five broken hours of sleep. In which case you and Kate Middleton should take your happy asses out for margaritas or something. The rest of us mere mortals will be at home, freebasing coffee and placing orders with Sephora.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I’m not at all an expert on makeup. Not even a little. I’m not terribly adventurous or creative but what I lack in skill I make up for in strong opinions and a decent collection of neutrals. Also, I understand the lack of time most of us are dealing with. Sure, I’d love to actually use all those nice makeup brushes I got for my birthday but when it’s 6:30am and you’ve got three children already hounding you about breakfast you don’t really have time to sort between your “contour brush” and your “concealer brush”. Hell, you don’t really have time to do much contouring at all. And if you want to go to Target looking mostly human then what you need are a few good quality products that can be applied fast, with your fingers if necessary. These are those products:
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer: This stuff is awesome. It is so light I can easily wear it even during our god-awful hot Texas summers but it still manages to make my skin look really even and smooth. You can absolutely apply it with a beauty blender or a brush but I can tell you from experience, it blends on beautifully, and quickly, with just your fingers.
Laura Mercier Undercover Pot: No, not that kind of pot. This kind of pot will actually help you look awake and not like you’ve just been punched in the face. By and large I just use the regular concealer in the section on the right. However, the section on the left contains a concealer that’s great for the occasional blemish and the tiny section underneath contains a highlighting powder that’s wonderful when you actually have time to get out one of your tiny little brushes and apply it. Now, fair warning, you are going to look at this little container, then look at the price and say something along the lines of, “Oh fuck no!” BUT, as someone who has looked at her own dark undereye circles and said the same thing, I can tell you I much prefer to say it once and get the makeup than to say it basically every morning and have no way to cover them up. And honestly, if you think of all the booze you haven’t bought since you got pregnant and gave birth….you should have enough money from your booze fund to buy at least a dozen of these little guys.
Josie Maran Argan Color Stick: In the past I was not much of a blush wearer. I didn’t feel like I needed it. Some days I still skip it but I do notice that a little color goes a long way towards “waking up” my face and making me look a little less sleepy. This handy little stick is easy to apply and blends really well; it looks so natural. Also, it lasts ages. A really good buy.
Tarte Smolder Eyes Amazonian Clay Liner: Yes, that name is a serious mouthful. The product itself is seriously great and super simple to use. Eyeliner is probably my biggest weakness, meaning that I’m terrible at applying it and used to avoid it completely. However I bought this chubby little pencil on a whim because it was on sale and I have been nothing short of delighted. It goes on so smoothly and with a little blending doubles as an eyeshadow too. Also, it has impressive staying power. I’ve personally used the gunmetal and brown colors and loved them both. If I’m in a crazy hurry I’ll skip this but honestly, it’s so easy to apply, and so forgiving, that I use it regularly. Bonus: Tarte products are really quite clean, formulated without a lot of the icky parabens and chemicals that most makeup contains. You’ll notice from my list that I’m not a total purist when it comes to this stuff but I DO like to choose cleaner products when and where I can. This brand is quickly becoming a favorite because of both their cleaner formulations and amazing quality.
Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! Mascara: This is the BEST. It’s made of 10% black stuff and 90% FM. What’s FM? Fucking MAGIC. I am a mascara junkie. I am always looking for the perfect mascara and in my opinion, this is it. For me, mascara is the one product that I will not leave home without. I may look like the most shot-out 29 year old (no I will NOT show you my ID…) on the planet but damn it, my lashes will be luscious. You may wonder if I’ve even bathed recently but your next thought should be something like, “Dear god! What marvelous lashes!” I love this stuff. Seriously. Fucking. Magic.
Bonus Product! Tarte Neutral Eyes Palette – Volume II: I don’t put on full eye makeup all the time but I couldn’t write a post about makeup and not include this classy, little number. If you happen to be in the market for some new eyeshadow, I cannot recommend this palette enough. The colors are so pretty. Neutral enough that you can wear them any day, any time and interesting enough to make you feel like you’re being fancy. This palette also comes with instructions for creating three different looks which is super handy if you’re not so great at application or maybe just looking for a little inspiration.
You may have noticed that I didn’t include any lip color in this list. That’s because 98% of the time I don’t wear any lip color. Which you would find totally unbelievable if you saw the obscene amount of lip gloss I own. All the same, it’s true. I rarely wear lip color because I like kissing my kids and their poor little faces would be covered in the most bizarre yet trendy little spots if I wore lipstick. So I just stick to lip balm. I’m not really loyal to any one brand though I do tend to end up with a lot of cocoa butter based items. They just smell so good!
In closing, I would like to say that I don’t, by any means, think makeup = beauty. I just happen to enjoy wearing makeup. I like how it makes me feel a little bit girly and a little more put-together when I wear it. I find that I feel more like “ME” and just a smidgen less like “MOM” when I take a few minutes to do something that makes me feel good. Also, I like to think that people don’t notice that huge drool stain on my shirt because they’re too busy noticing my killer eyelashes. I’m telling you people…Fucking. Magic.
I think we need a bit of an upper after my most recent post. It was cathartic to get all that off my chest but now it’s time to take a deep breath and talk about something fun and delicious. Something lemony and fabulous and oh so simple.
Raspberry Lemon Bars. A treat born of necessity that turned out to be kind of awesome.
I know you might be thinking treats aren’t really a necessity but I beg to differ. They are. They are good for your soul. They will make people eager and happy to come visit you because people love treats. And some people with three children who can’t stand the thought of dealing with all those carseats ONE MORE DAMN TIME love visitors. Hence, treats.
Also, if you are a treat-maker who happened upon a sale on raspberries and maybe over-bought because you forgot that raspberries only stay fresh for about six minutes after your bring them home then you get raspberry treats. And that’s where these addictive bars come in. I had raspberries that needed to be used and a hankering for lemon bars. So I used my very favorite Lemon Bar recipe from Eat, Live, Run with a few fun modifications. (Slightly off topic…her crock pot beef carnitas are really good. One of my go-to recipes for when I want something seriously tasty and seriously easy.)
Raspberry Lemon Bars
for the crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut*
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 stick cold butter
for the raspberry layer
1 pint fresh raspberries
2 Tbs granulated sugar
1 Tbs water
2 Tbs cornstarch
for the lemon filling
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp lemon zest
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan. Both work fine, the 8 inch pan results in a thicker bar. You can also line the pan with parchment paper if you’d like. That makes it easy to lift the bars out whole and slice them on a cutting board or something instead of slicing then scooping them out of the pan. I’m pretty terrible at doing that without destroying them so I always opt for the parchment paper. But you do want you want. It’s your rodeo.
To make the crust: Combine the flour, sugar, coconut and salt in a bowl. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture, using your fingers or a pastry cutter, until the bits of butter are about the size of small peas. This may still look pretty flour-y. That is ok. Don’t be afraid. Press the mixture into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until just lightly golden. (Lazy person tip: Wipe out this bowl after you put the crust into the pan, that way you can use it to mix up the lemon filling. One less bowl to wash later. You win.)
To make the raspberry layer: Once your crust is in the oven, it’s time to make the raspberry layer. This is super easy. Put the raspberries, sugar, water and cornstarch into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and smashing up the raspberries, until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Then turn the heat down to low just to keep it warm until it’s time to spread it on the crust. Give is stir here and there just to keep it loose.
To make the lemon filling: Whisk together the granulated sugar and flour in a bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix until everything is smooth and combined.
To assemble: Spread the raspberry mixture over the hot crust, smoothing it out evenly. Then pour lemon filling over the raspberry layer and return to oven to bake for another 20-25 minutes or so. When done, the filling will no longer jiggle. Let cool completely in the pan before slicing and dusting with powdered sugar. Make sure to invite people over to share these with you. Or just plan to eat kale and do jumping jacks for the next week after you eat the entire pan. Whatever you prefer.
* I have used both sweetened and unsweetened shredded coconut for this recipe. Both are delicious. Generally I keep the unsweetened kind around so that’s what I prefer to use. Also, this recipe already has a ton of sugar in it so you don’t really need the extra sweetness of sweetened coconut. That said, the sweetened coconut sort of caramelizes in the crust while baking and adds a really lovely flavor so you can truly go either way. Just use what you have.
Finally, if you happen to end up with a little extra raspberry “jam”, do not throw it out! I had a couple of tablespoons left over after I spread it on the crust so I kept it in the fridge overnight and stirred it into my oatmeal the next morning. It was SO GOOD. You should do it too.