Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Beginner for the Third Time

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The good news is this winter is going by crazy fast! The bad? It’s been almost a month since I’ve wrote anything here.

Normally winter drags here in the frozen north. I can handle November and December because of the holidays, but mid-January through mid-March are the longest months. The days are short, cold and snowy and my motivation to do anything is at a low—all of which doesn’t help pass the time. But this year I decided to change things up a bit and became a skier.

Again.

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The first time I skied was middle school when all the kids joined ski club. We’d hop on a bus after school, drive for 35 minutes and then have 3 hours to ski before heading home. It was the most freedom we had had pretty much had ever and I was so excited. But then I realized I hated the snow, was lazy and that enjoying hot chocolate and french fries was much more fun than falling down a mountain, so the total time actually spent skiing that year was probably under an hour.

8 years ago, my brother was running his own ski club at the school he taught at. He needed an other adult to chaperone the kids, so I volunteered. The Bean was 6 months old at the time and I was dying to get out of the house.  I was so desperate that spending hours out in the cold, hurling my body down a mountain seemed like a better alternative than putting a 2 year old and a 6 month old to bed. Shocking no one, I didn’t like skiing any better this time around- especially after I had an epic wipe out that resulted in one of my skis going down the hill without me while people chanted “Go Lady!” at me from the ski lift as I walked down after it.

So, why, you’re wondering, would things be any different this time around? This time, I was actually doing it with my kids. And there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for them. So, for the past 6 Thursdays I’ve been starting all over again and learning how to ski properly. Scorch has been snow boarding for 3 years now, so he’d go off with his ski club buddies while the Bean, having never skied before, took lessons. Since she was not going anywhere without me, I took lessons as well. And- AMAZINGLY- skiing isn’t so scary when you learn how to do it right! (Shocking, I know).

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By the start of week 2, Bean and I graduated off the Bunny Hill. That meant for 4 weeks in a row, I got to bomb down the slopes with two of my favorite people. And by bomb,  I mean, they bombed with zero fear. Me? Well, I made really, really, really big s-turns while repeating calming phrases to myself out loud- things like “you’re not going to fall” and “you won’t die” and “if Beyonce can carry twins, you can ski!”.

Thursdays very quickly became all of our favorite night of the week. The Hubs is normally the one who does all the  physical activities with the kids, so it’s been great to have something that is just ours, where I get to be a participant instead of the cheerleader from the sidelines. The Hubs has had 5 major knee surgeries in in the past 25 years, so you couldn’t pay him enough to try to ski.

So here we are in March. Ski season is over and I learned that you’re never too old to try something new. Again. (And when you wipe out—because you will, even invoking Beyonce can’t help that—helmets are a wonderful, wonderful thing.)

 

Practically Perfect in Every Way

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A year ago at this time, we took the kids to see Peter Pan. It was the first professional play they had seen and it hit all the marks. It was mesmerizing and engaging, with sets that surpassed all expectations and acting that blew us all away! A few months later we took the kids to see the traveling broadway show of Annie annnnnndddd that didn’t wow my kids nearly as much which was a huge disappointment. I want my kids to love live theater. I want them to seek it out and make it a priority, so today we went back to the theater where we saw Peter Pan and saw Mary Poppins.

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I admit to knowing nothing about the play- I just knew we liked the movie very much so it was a no-brainer to get tickets. I did not know this was a full on musical (although, in hindsight, the tag line on the poster should have given that away), all sung in a British accent. About 5 minutes in, the Bean looks at me in disbelief- “Are they going to sing, everything?!”

Well, welcome to musical theater, my loves!

Thankfully the kids adjusted and very quickly got sucked into the show. Like Peter Pan, it helped that the story line was familiar, so the kiddos weren’t asking us what was going on every 2.3 minutes. This show was just as good at the one we saw last year and we all left completely in awe of the talent found around our community. And now, on to find our next show…

 

The Not-So-Picture Perfect Holidays

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Sometimes Christmas is picture perfect. From start to finish, the whole holiday and the time off around it is magical. The kids act and look like angels, the time with family is meaningful and special and everyone glows with happiness.

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Annnnddd sometimes your kid wakes up with the stomach bug on Christmas morning and is so pitiful she doesn’t even unwrap half her gifts. That’s just the way life goes, unfortunately.

The good news is some of our family still braved coming over for dinner yesterday, no one else in our immediate family got sick (sorry extended family, you got screwed) and all this time stuck at home has given me plenty of time to put things away. Now, I need my kid to get better, the rest of us to stay healthy and the rest of this week to go according to plan. #fingerscrossed

Wrapping Things Up (or not)

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So here we sit, on Christmas Eve, Eve, Eve, Eve (I think) and I’m surprisingly zen over the small number of presents that have actually been wrapped. Who ever said life slows down around the holidays lied, y’all. Not when your job needs to hit year end quotas and your kids play sports, and in orchestra and sing in concerts. And I’m not complaining because most of the things that make it super hard to find time to wrap are what makes our life full in some of the best ways. I am, however, wondering when my panic will set in. Check in in 24 hours.

The Hub’s solution to my lack of wrapping is to tell me to take everything to the mall and leave it at one of those places that wrap for charity. Honestly, I think that’s a great idea if I could get past my worry over mislabeled gifts or non-matching wrapping paper. I have a systems- half-assed and last minute as it is- and I shudder when I think of some one breaking it.

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My kids got their video from Santa last night, letting them know if they are on the naughty or nice list for the year. A few years back, the Bean was on the “Could Go Either Way” list, so these videos are met with equal part delight and terror. I don’t know how much longer they’ll love these videos, but for right now they are one of our favorite traditions. I never knew kids could literally vibrate with nerves and excitement until we started getting these.

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That damn wrapping fairy hasn’t showed yet, so it’s time to start binge watching something (suggestions?!) and wrapping. Say a prayer for me.

 

 

Thankfulness: Finding the Good

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So, today was a day, huh? I had a coworker leave the office in tears because she was so upset over the results of the election, as she wondered how Trump and his ideologies will impact her family. I have friends who are thrilled that the old establishment is out and someone new is in power. I had to reassure my kids that Trump won’t kick their Indian friends out of the country.

Tonight I found out that two young people from my hometown died tragically this past weekend.  I did some digging around on Facebook and news sites to find out more about these children and their families. I found GoFundMe sites. I found meal trains. I found people – strangers- reaching out to give comfort and help. None of that can replace these gorgeous children who were lost, but it helped prove to me that most people are good. Most people are kind and generous and loving.

That is what I’m thankful for today. I know a lot of people won’t agree with me on that point, but believing that most people are good is what I’m clinging to right now. For my sanity. For my children’s future.

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It’s easy to get caught up in the rhetoric and to lose all hope, but don’t. Please, don’t. Regardless of who won and who you voted for, we can all agree there is a lot of work to be done so that both sides feel heard and represented. So remember that core of goodness, and work towards that.

 

 

Thankfulness: The 19th Amendment

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You guys, this election season has SUCKED. I mean, it’s been bad. The hate, vitriol, name-calling and fear-mongering on both sides has been mind blowing. If aliens came down today and decided to judge humans based on what’s in my Facebook feed, they’d just turn around and leave because no one needs the amount of hate and negativity in their lives.

I get that this election is a Big Deal and there is a lot of stake here. I’m intelligent, well-read and as informed as I can be. I try to talk to my kiddos fairly and to present to them an accurate picture of each candidate because what they hear is the worst of the worst- Hillary killed men, Trump hates anyone who isn’t white. And just like every thing out there, the truth about both candidates is found somewhere between the absolute worst and the rosy optimism.

So, here we are on Election Day. And I’m so thankful for that. This election has shown the ugly underbelly of a lot of America on both sides and I’m hoping (praying/wishing) that regardless of who wins, we all walk away from this election season knowing that we have a lot of work to do on so many fronts to knit our country back together.

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I’m also damn thankful I have this *right* to vote. Women have only been allowed to vote for the past 94 years- before that, I wouldn’t have had a voice. That is mind boggling to me. The number of smart, passionate, well-informed women I know is staggering and the thought that there was a time when we were kept silent is sobering. There is still so much to be done for woman’s rights even in an amazing country like the US, but this -this right to have our voice heard – is so very fundamental and will help propel the rest of these changes forward. So here’s to the bad-ass women who fought hard to for the right to vote, to the bad-ass women that are working for a change today and the bad-ass women to come who will keep propelling positive changes forward so we can all benefit.

 

Thankfulness: Princesses & Proximity

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Up until a month ago, I was the proud, lucky aunt to 6 nephews and 1 niece. 5 of my  nephews live in the mid-west, 14 hours away and my niece and other nephew live 7 hours south of here.  We try to see our mid-western family at least once a year and the southern family every 2-3 months, but I’ve never had a niece or nephew that lived by.

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Now I’m the proud, lucky aunt to 6 nephews and 2 nieces since my sister-in-law gave birth to the most perfect baby girl in October. She, my brother and the new baby live 45 minutes away which is like heaven and makes last minute get together’s a breeze.

I’m extraordinarily thankful for all my nieces and nephews and the technology that allows us to be a part of each other’s lives even when we’re hours and hours away. But after a fantastic dinner with my favorite 3 week old, I’m extra thankful for the blessing of having one of those nieces live near by so I can watch her grow up in person. Is it too soon to ask my brother and his wife when they are going to have baby #2?!

Thankfulness: Handy People

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The Hub’s Grandfather was an incredibly handy man. He could fix just about anything – if we had issue with anything around the house, he was our go-to man. Despite him diligently trying to teach the Hubs his skills, it never took. I have great memories of Grandpa driving up to our house to tune up our mower or install the molding in Scorch’s nursery.  My Father-in-Law is also a really handy man to have around- he’s installed flooring and doors in my house. He knew enough to try to teach the Hubs or myself- it just wasn’t going to take.

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So, neither of us are handy people. And that’s fine- we have other skill sets. But what we have been lucky enough to do is to create great relationships with people who know what the hell they are doing. And these are the people who I’m so very thankful for today.

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Yesterday while I was working from home, I kept hearing banging outside. It’s windy, so I assumed our garbage cans tipped over or one of the kid’s throwbacks was being tossed around. What I did not expect when I went outside to investigate was to see part of my roof flapping in the wind.

My. Roof. Flapping. (sometimes I loathe being an adult).

I called the first handy person I could think of – a licensed contractor who has saved our butts more times than I could think of. The best time was a few years back when we were leaving for Fl. We had to leave at a certain time to make our train in VA and as we were literally walking through our house one more time before leaving, the light fixture in our hallway caught on fire. We put it out super quick, took off the fixture, looked around and saw that nothing was smoldering. Then we called our contractor because I was convinced our house was going to burn down while we were gone. He came over immediately, shoo’d us out the door so we didn’t miss our train, and allowed us to enjoy vacation not fearing the worst.

Yesterday, this saint of a man and his coworker were at my house within the hour and determined it was a very quick, easy fix as it was just a rain vent (guard? something?) that was loose. Which was the BIGGEST relief of the day because I was trying to figure out how in the hell a new roof was going to fit in our budget.

So, Jon & Bob- this is dedicated to you. Thank you for always coming when I call since the Hubs and I have no idea what we’re doing 99.9% of the time.

 

Thankfulness: Halloween Soup

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November is the time I take every year to write about what I’m thankful for. Somethings are serious, some funny and some completely irrelevant, but they all are things that make my life better.

Do you guys have a food that’s special because it’s something you only get once in a while? For example, when I’m in the office, one of my coworkers hands out one chocolate covered coffee bean to each person around 3 pm. I *love* that bean- I live for that bean some afternoons. Sure, I could easily get my own beans, but then they aren’t as special, they don’t mean as much.

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Not to brag or anything, but we have the best Halloween traditions. One of our favorite friends live in the city and they let all us country folks to come their house, have dinner, ransack their neighborhood for candy and then come back for more fun at their house. It’s truly one of my favorite nights of the year thanks to this incredible group of people, our parents and our kids, all 13 of them.

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The pumpkin soup we have on Halloween is like that for me. Sure, I could make it- but if I did, then I wouldn’t look forward to it as much as I do every year.  I don’t even like pumpkin, but this soup? This soup is to die for. And on a cold, windy Halloween there is nothing else I’m as thankful for. Without further ado…

Pumpkin Rosemary Soup

For the Soup                                                                         For the Croutons

  • olive oil (2 tablespoons)                                                ·    sourdough bread (4 cups cubed)
  • bacon (12 slices)                                                            ·    olive oil (1/4 cup)
  • fresh rosemary (4 sprigs)                                               ·    parmesan (1/2 cup grated)
  • butter (2 tablespoons)                                                    ·    ground black pepper
  • minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • white onion (1 medium)
  • salt & pepper
  • pumpkin puree (29 oz can)
  • chicken broth (5 cups)
  • heavy cream (1 cup)

Directions for Bacon/Rosemary

  1. Add olive oil to large skillet or griddle
  2. Add bacon and cook for 5-6 minutes on first side
  3. Turn bacon and add rosemary sprigs; cook for 4-5 minutes more until crispy
  4. Set bacon and rosemary aside on paper towel until cooled
  5. Remove rosemary leaves from stem; chop leaves and bacon

 

 

Directions for Soup

  1. Add two tablespoons of the bacon grease to a large pot
  2. Add butter, garlic, and onion; sweat until translucent
  3. Season lightly with salt and pepper
  4. Add pumpkin puree and chicken broth
  5. Stir well and bring to a simmer; cook for 15 minutes over low heat
  6. Puree in a blender until smooth
  7. Add heavy cream and stir to combine

Directions for Croutons

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Spread cubes of sourdough bread out on a cookie sheet
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese
  4. Season with ground black pepper
  5. Bake for 5-6 minutes until golden brown

 

* Serve soup topped with parmesan croutons, crumbled bacon and rosemary

 

Locker Room Talk, Boys Will be Boys & Other Crappy Excuses

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I started this blog 6 years and 2 months ago. When I started it, my kids were little, my topics were light and the posts basically wrote themselves thanks to the chaos of having a 4 and 2 year old. I started the blog to give my kids something to look back on when they got older- a written scrapbook that captured their antics and activities.

Now I have a 10 year old and an 8 year old who are learning more of the world and paying close attention. To me. To the Hubs. To the news. To their teachers. To their friends. They are always absorbing what they hear and, as they get older, more and more of what they hear is outside of my control. So it’s more important than ever that I tell my kids explicitly, clearly and with great thoughtfulness my opinions on world and national events. They are encouraged to think critically, but it’s the Hubs and my job to talk about the tough stuff as we try to raise them into caring, compassionate, intelligent adults.

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This post isn’t about politics, really. The players are political figures, but I frankly couldn’t care less what your political leanings are or what their political leanings are. To be clear, I’m not happy with either political candidate this year.

What this post is about is Donald Trump being caught in a video bragging about being able to assault women and get away with it due to his power and wealth and people making excuses for him. To quote Trump:

And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says….“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

Let me break that down for you. The man running for President of the United States explicitly says that because he’s a big wig, he can just grab a woman by her genitalia without her consent and get away with it.

That, my friends, is assault. Don’t believe me? Here’s the legal definition of the word:

the essential elements of assault consist of an act intended to cause an apprehension of harmful or offensive contact that causes apprehension of such contact in the victim.

If a man saw your wife/daughter/mother walking down the street, found her attractive and felt it was within his right to approach her and grope her, you would be furious, wouldn’t you? You’d be screaming for the police, wouldn’t you? You’d be doubly furious that that man’s connections and money allowed him to get away with doing that, wouldn’t you?

Please tell me you would be.

And yet, I see people excusing this behavior. Because it’s Donald Trump, because he’s running for President, because he IS as rich and powerful as he thinks he is, people are defending this bragging. Because people hate Hilary Clinton and anyone is better than her. Never mind that the man has 3 rape or attempted rape accusations leveled against him- one from his ex-wife and one from a 13 year old.

Now, this is where people bring up Bill Clinton’s history (or really any number of other shady, criminal politicians- they sadly all run together after awhile). I’m not dismissing them or making any excuses for them either. But let me bring up a really simple concept my kids learned in Kindergarten: two wrongs do not make a right.

I’ve seen people write that this is simple “locker room talk” and that “boys will be boys.”

If you or the men you know in your life are advocating sexual assault, hurting or objectifying woman in the same way Donald Trump was, they weren’t raised right. Period. If it truly is wide-spread locker room talk, than we have failed the men of this world. Excusing talk like that and not speaking up when we hear it helps feed monsters like Brock Turner and the judge who let creeps like him off with crazy light sentences.

And to the people who are getting all worked up about people being mad about the use of the word “pussy,” let me make this perfectly clear to you: While I (and most women I know) don’t like our vaginas referred to in such vulgar ways, what we’re really angry about isn’t the word. It is the act Donald Trump is bragging about.

Let me state that again: dirty words are upsetting, but what is infuriating and ILLEGAL is the talk of committing sexual assault and getting away with it. DO NOT try to deflect, undermine or gaslight those upset about the content of the video in question by focusing on the word “pussy.”

Which brings me to the next way I’ve seen people excuse Donald Trump: by sharing pictures of scantily clad celebrities or pictures of female comedians who use vulgar language in their movies or routines and screaming HYPOCRITES at the women getting upset about one and not the other.

Again, I ask. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Donald Trump = advocating assault, taking away a woman’s right to consent to being touched. Celebrities = adults fully consenting to their dress or speech. Do I like everything they wear or say? Do I want my kids seeing it? Nope. But these women have the right to wear it/say it because it’s their body and they aren’t advocating violence against others. And let’s not even get into the whole subtext that women who dress/speak provocatively are asking for it. Because if you feel that way, leave. Leave this blog now.

And lastly, the good old “women read Fifty Shade of Grey so how dare we be offended by what Donald Trump said” shtick. Do I need to pick this argument apart? Please don’t make me. Fifty Shades is FICTION read by women by their own choice who seemingly like bad erotica and even worse writing. Donald Trump is advocating assault.

Like I said, this post isn’t about politics- it’s about excusing a man who advocates for assault because of his position and power.

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As I wrote above, I started this blog as a way to share my thoughts with my kids. So, to Scorch and Bean- I have a few promises for you.

Scorch- I promise your father and I will do our damnedest to raise you to be respectful to others, including the women in your life. To ensure you know about consent and to call you on your attitude if you don’t show the proper consideration to the people around you. To love you enough to not excuse any bad behavior by saying “boys will be boys” and letting things slide.

Bean- I promise to do our hardest to raise you know your own worth. To ensure you know that you’re so much more than your body parts and how they can be used to please a man. To know that you should demand respect from the people in your life and to walk away if you don’t get it. To know what assault is and what to do if, God forbid, you’re a victim. To know that no person, regardless of their wealth or position, is better than you.

I love you both.