Leisure Time

Once a year my husband heads to Maine on a Friday morning with all three kids. This means that when I get home from work on Friday night, I get the house all to myself for a glorious 12-14 hours.  Sure, I’ll be sleeping for 7-8 of those hours but the other 5 or 6 hours?  I can do whatever I want!  And those sleeping hours?  They will be uninterrupted! (Except maybe by the confused cat, wondering where the rest of her noisy family is.) And the waking hours?  No one asking for anything (except maybe the hungry cat)! No one needing dressing, changing, wiping, feeding or any of my attention!  OH HAPPY DAY!

 

My mind spins with all of the possibilities!  I will make a plan!

THE PLAN:

I will…

… go to Target on the way home, or maybe Whole Foods, or maybe Trader Joe’s!  I never go to Trader Joe’s! I will get their margarita mix!  And some onion bhajis!  And croissants! And flowers!  And mango babka!

Image from Trader Joe's. Click on photo to go there!

Image from Trader Joe’s. Click on photo to go there!

… swing by Starbucks for an iced tea! That I won’t have to share!

… stop by my regular grocery store to pick up some items on my list! And wander slowly through the aisles, contentedly humming along to the piped-in grocery store music! And I won’t buy goldfish! Or yogurt in a tube!

… go home, preheat the oven and make this chocolate cake! While listening to 80’s hits and dancing around the kitchen!

Smitten Kitchen's Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is her photo - isn't it gorgeous?! Click on the link to visit her site - it is one of the very best!

Smitten Kitchen’s Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is her photo – isn’t it gorgeous?! Click on the link to visit her site – it is one of the very best!

… clear some toys from the toy room while the cake is baking!  Finally get around to moving the toys we are keeping into the newly-finished basement!  Prep some toys for donation! Good deeds! Tax write-offs! Less legos to step on!

… clear some of the 5,000 photos (I’m not joking) off of my phone!  Back everything up to the Cloud, my laptop, and my external drive!  Add photos to my family photo share site!

… figure out my Amazon Fire TV stick!

… unpack my suitcase from my Midwest trip! Do a load of cold delicates that is just mine!

… go out and get a steak or something decadent, and sit alone, sipping a cocktail (or two!) and reading!  No picking up pieces of cold, slimy mac & cheese off of the floor when I’m done! No rushing through dinner! No asking for the check when I order the entree!

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

… put on my PJs and watch a movie of my choosing, with an R rating, from the seat of my choosing, on my own couch! While eating cake!

… sleep a glorious 8 hours! Wake slowly! Drink an entire cup of coffee while it it still hot! Take a walk then a long shower using all the hot water I want! Eat a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast! No need to set a good example!

… swing by the farmer’s market for raspberries! And tomatoes! And veggies! And anything else that strikes my fancy!

… pack my bag for the journey up to Maine! Listen to podcasts on the way! Stop at my favorite outlet in Kittery! Make it up to see the kids at lunch, feeling fulfilled and refreshed!

THE REALITY:

I will go home, put on my PJs, and order Thai take out.

I will then realize I have to get dressed to get the Thai food, throw on a sweatshirt (in July), and hope I don’t run into anyone I know who is out and being social and fun on a Friday night.

On the way out, I will realize we are out of cat food but skip the grocery store, lest I run into one of those social, fun, productive acquaintances. This means I will have to listen to the cat loudly lament the terribleness that is dry food (disgusting death nuggets, stupid human!) for the rest of the evening.

I will half watch The Great British Bake Off (go Ian!) while playing Plants v. Zombies until my eyelids droop at 9pm.

I will wake up to pee twice, and to a meowing cat three times.  And I will wake up three more times for no good reason, other than that I’m really used to sleeping next to my husband.

I will leave early to go to Maine, because I’m inexplicably up at 5:30am and have no coffee or half and half in the house, because I anti-socially skipped the grocery store.

And I’ll drive straight through, because I should.  And because Maine is awesome.  And so are my kids and my husband.

And lobster.

 

How quickly we forget…

A woman I know – a brand new mom – reached out on Facebook the other day to mention how much her world had been rocked by the arrival of her son.  She mentioned this without a positive or negative spin.  There was no whining or wonder, just a mom noting how much her life had changed and how much hard work parenting a newborn is.

Then came the responses. There were so many women telling her to enjoy her baby! Cherish these moments! Change is good! He is adorable! Welcome to your new normal!  Your life has been changed for the better! It is a love you’ve never known! Welcome to MY world – now you get it! You’ll miss these days when they’re gone!

Blarghggghhlll, these posts gave me reflux.

How do we forget so quickly?

Why does “We’ve done it, so can you.” sound so dismissive rather than supportive?

The subtext of so many of these types of comments seems unkind and unsupportive:

Enjoy your baby! (Stop whining. We’ve all been there.)

Cherish these moments! (Stop whining. Why dwell on the bad stuff?)

Change is good! (Stop whining. What did you expect?)

How do we forget that the newborn “new normal” is occasionally terrifying, always exhausting, and can throw a person completely off kilter, no matter how much they love the little milky, loose-skinned, froggy-legged baby asleep on their chest?

Smiling. And exhausted. June, 2010.

Smiling. And exhausted. June, 2010.

I think my poet friend’s response was best “You are doing it! And you can do it! ❤ ❤ ❤ No subtext.  Just support and love from another new mom who isn’t so far past that newborn world-rocking that she forgets what it is like.

Because it is so hard – it is bigger, more all-encompassing than that even.  And you just do it.  You get through the days, you get through the nights. You have good moments, bad ones, lots of tired ones.  You call in your village if you have one.  Or you call your village if they are far away.  Or you call your doctor.  You accept help, pay for it, ask for it, or struggle through without it.  You do it.  You just do.

June 2010. Pickle, Baby Bear and Me.

June 2010. Pickle, Baby Bear and Me.

I’m making a promise to myself that I’ll try my darnedest not to forget the feelings, the exhaustion, the crazy way the universe shifted completely when Pickle was born.  And I promise my friends that I’ll never demand that they cherish their baby and enjoy every damn moment.  I’ll just love them, remind them of their own strength, hold them up when they need me to and bring dinner when possible.

Gr8ful.

50 Days of Gratitude

Days 21-30

97. Chapstick

98. GPS

99. Incident on 57th StreetThis is a Springsteen song – the favorite of many long-time fans.  He doesn’t play it in concert too often.  But my sister and I got to see it in Hartford.  She has been to about 20 shows, and has never seen it live.  The energetic fan next to us was so excited to hear it, he cried.  No really, he did.

100. Hotel points – I used to take surveys online for hotel points which I then traded in for airline miles.  It was time consuming and annoying, so I stopped.  Besides, I don’t fly with small children if I can help it. But I just happened to have enough points for an overnight stay with my sister after the Springsteen concert.  Win!

101. Water

102. Linemen (and women)

103. Lox – It must be the Swede in me.  I love me some smoked fish.  Speaking of… have you ever been to Barney Greengrass?  Go.  It’s yummy. And hysterical.

104. Dogs

105. Reconnecting

106. Leaf piles

107. Scalloped potatoes

108. Cousins playing together

109. Quiet drives

110. Blessings – Miss Plum was baptized a few weekends ago.  It was lovely to be surrounded by family, and Plum sure did look cute in her puffy white dress.  She screamed every time the priest came near her.  I couldn’t help but think, “That’s my girl!” (Says Sarky, ducking from the lightning…)

111. Onion dip – I made this for a party recently and it received rave reviews.  Was it fancy and gourmet? Nope.  It was the recipe on the back of an envelope of Lipton Onion Soup Mix.  Mayo + sour cream. How can you not love it?

112. Zito and my BTX friends – BTX is a Springsteen ticket exchange, where fans sell their extra tickets to other fans at face value. Scalpers be damned!  Back in 2003 a magical little community of friends was created through this ticket exchange.  It was a very interesting way to meet lots of great folks from all over the world.  And while it is strange to count my interwebs friends as true and close, that is what many of them are.

113. Floss

114. Power

115. Helpers

116. Luck

117. Morning

118. Gatherings

119. Creating new traditions and memories – This Halloween, the grandparents came to us.  We had dinner, handed out candy, and did some trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.  It was great. I hope the tradition continues.

120. Fresh eggs – In New Zealand, “eggs” is pronounced “igs”.  An American friend asked a supermarket employee where she could find the “eggs” (they are in the baking aisle and not refrigerated) and was told that the store carried no such thing. Ha!

 

121. Letterpress – Old-fashioned, luxurious and lovely.  Do I have 35 letterpress studios bookmarked? Maybe.  My wedding invites were from Bella Figura.  They were perfect.  Did I spend too much money? Yes.  Did my guests likely not notice the detail and end up throwing them away? Probably.  But do I regret my choice?  Absolutely not.

122. Pepper jelly

123. Cannoli – In the Mike’s v. Modern race, I’m voting for Modern. Every time.

124. My neighborhood

125. Manners

126. Bag Balm – Diaper rash? Chapped lips? Hangnail? Have a cold and a sore, raw nose from too much blowing? Dry feet? The name is unfortunate, but the stuff is a miracle.  You know the father in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”?  The one who thinks Windex is the cure for all that ails you? Yeah, I’m kind of like that with the Bag Balm.  Opa!

127. Health insurance

128. Leftover Halloween candy

129. Food delivery (have I ever used it? No. But I like knowing that I could!)

130. Feather pillows

131. Clean babies

132.Good books – Who has some suggestions? The stack on my nightstand isn’t speaking to me.  

133. Travel mugs

134. Challenges

135. Cardigans

136. Girlfriends

137. Those rare occasions when my son still wants to be rocked and sung to sleep – I made it all the way through “Puff the Magic Dragon” the other night and only choked up once. “Dragons live forever, but not so little boys…”

138. The approaching end of political ads

139. Fresh mozzarella

Stay tuned for days 31-40…

Gratitude Attitude

50 Days of Gratitude – My Thanksgiving Countdown continued…

The countdown to Thanksgiving continues.  I’ll admit, sometimes at the end of the day it is hard for me to come up with more than 2 things.  And usually one of those two is “sleep” or “bedtime” or some permutation thereof.  But I’m still going, and I’m more than halfway there.

You can find my first 10 days of gratitude here.

Things I am grateful for…

Days 11 through 20

49. Dragonflies

50. Sweet and surprising things Mr. Pickle says in the midst of the daily madness that catch me off guard – tonight it was an unprompted, “Thank you for dinner, Mama” while we all sat eating together

51. Hearing a great/fun/memory-full song on the radio that I haven’t heard in ages (The other day it was Phish’s “Bouncing Round the Room” and I was right back in high school again.)

52. English Breakfast tea

53. Junk food TV (My husband makes fun of me, but I am not ashamed to admit that I like Long Island Medium. I do. And I’m tempted to tune into Duck Dynasty, too. I have not yet reached the level of Honey Boo Boo, though.)

54. Drinking straws (The number of bendy straws I go through is irresponsible. Surely, I am contributing more than my fair share to local landfills. I feel guilty, but not enough to stop using them.)

55. Internet shopping (I have started my Christmas shopping, but only because it is so much darn fun to hunt for bargains and great gifts online. In case you’re wondering, I have not purchased the unicorn mask for anyone… yet.)

56. The overwhelming kindness and support of my friends

57. Night swimming (The activity AND the song by REM.)

58. The quiet of snow (I once heard something about sound waves travelling differently- or not at all? – through falling snow. I should probably look that up. But in the meantime, I think it is true and the stillness, and quiet it just amazing.)

59. Coordinated naps (Can I get an “Amen”?!)

60. The big freezer in my basement

61. Iced coffee

62. Gummy vitamins

63. Laughter

64. Flying, leaping hugs

65. My wise, old soul little girl, who loves “Goodnight Irene” better than any other song

My pensive 7-month-old.

66. Patience

67. The ability to participate in our political system

68. Pacifiers

69. Dental care

70. Flannel sheets

71. Legal pads (I inherited my love of legal pads from my father.)

72. Weekends

73. Love

74. Malbec

75. April, Jena and Christine (Different backgrounds, different ages, different life paths, but the same loving supportive friendship.  I am so grateful for them.)

76. Gold sunshine on an October afternoon

77. Tylenol

78. ATM machines

79. Leftovers

80. Roasted garlic (Or any garlic, really.)

81. Giggles (Is there anything better than hearing wild giggles emanating from your son and daughter while they play with their dad? Nope, there isn’t.) 

82. Adventures

83. Pajamas

84. Perspective

85. Cole slaw

86. Rock ‘n’ roll

87. New Zealand (I lived there in 2002 and I left a part of my heart there.)

88. Greek yogurt

89. Good hair days

90. Silliness

91. Monogramming (I can’t help it. Please don’t ever get me a labeller – it wouldn’t be pretty.  My daughter just received this blanket from Pottery Barn Kids and I love it. So does she.  If I had to guess, this blanket will quickly become her lovey.  Added bonus?  The gift giver had it monogrammed with her name!)

92. Nieces!

93. Oatmeal raspberry squares

94. Coffee, but not just any coffee, coffee that is the absolutely perfect temperature with just the right amount of 1/2 and 1/2.

95. My husband, who is unreasonably patient and kind, with me and with the kiddos

96. Baby bunnies (A co-worker raises amazing fluffy bunnies so she can shear them and spin their fur/hair into yarn.  One of her mama bunnies had 6 little ones, and I can now state, without hesitation, that baby bunnies are indeed the cutest things on the planet. Or probably the universe. Puppies are in the Top 10, as are kittens.  But bunnies top the list. No question.)

Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The Dinner Dilemma Part 1

I’m not into dinner.  I’m trying to be, for the sake of family dinners, blah blah blah.  But I’d be pretty happy with crackers, cheese, fruit and the only dirty dish being one solitary knife (and maybe a plate.  Maybe.)  I plan meals ahead for a week and then I slack off.  Argh.  My husband is very tolerant of my dinner dilemma, that sweet Mr. T. But today, when I actually made dinner he was so very excited.  He thanked me about 37 times.  He cleaned his plate.  He asked for leftovers for lunch.  The dearie. I should make him dinner more often.

I cooked tonight because the pork was thawed, and I had the other 4 ingredients on hand.  I also cooked tonight because I was home early, and Mr. Pickle Pumpkin decided to entertain himself with the drawer of plastic containers for 7 minutes.  I tried to find this recipe online, but amazingly, I couldn’t.  I learned this one from my friend, Suzie.  Next, time I’ll try to snap some photos while I cook.  But this time, I’m going to pat myself on the back for simply getting a hot meal on the table.

     

Peachy Pork Piquante

  1. Heat about 1T vegetable oil in a pan (deep enough to hold saucy, gooey liquid) over medium heat.
  2. Cut about 2 lbs. of pork (tenderloin, loin, chops, whatever) into cubes and place into a big plastic bag.
  3. Put one packet of taco seasoning into the bag, seal and shake to coat the pork.  Pour the contents into the hot pan.
  4. Saute the pork until it is pretty much cooked through.
  5. Add 1C. salsa (jarred is fine, I used medium)
  6. Add 3/4 C. apricot or peach preserves.
  7. Cook it for a little while until it is bubbly and saucy.  If you want less sauce, decrease the amounts of salsa and preserves.
  8. Serve over rice.  I served it with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped up cilantro.
This recipe served 2 hungry adults, and I packed up 2 portions for lunch.
Upcoming dinner dilemmas?  Calzones.  Indian simmer sauces.