Monday, July 29, 2013

Eat: 3 Ingredient, One pan, Summer Dinner

In the Summer, I literally dread the idea of cooking on the stove.
I'm fine with turning the oven on and throwing something in {forcefully and with rage}, but to stand over a hot stove and stir hot things around in a hot pan, just sounds And sweaty.
No thank you, sir.
So, the other night, as I stood in the grocery store holding a package of Keilbasa sausage and feeling quite at a loss for what the hell I was going to do with it that wouldn't involve my stove, I called my dear friend Camdon, because he is both the master of casseroles, and of lazy cooking.
He's a bachelor, which means that's not an insult.
Anyhow, he suggested I grab some red potatoes, cut everything up into manly chunks, and toss it into a casserole dish, and bake it at 350 for an hour.
Being the rebel that I am, I decided instead to use Yukon Gold potatoes, and to add chopped, fresh broccoli, and then to drizzle it all with olive oil and spice it up with Garlic and Creole seasoning, and bake it at 375 for 40 minutes, instead.
I think it's safe to say that you've gotten old, when your greatest form of rebellion is making someone else's recipe slightly differently from the way they told you to make it.
In any case, it was delicious.
And so easy!
I just grabbed the potatoes and the broccoli and a bottle of wine, headed home and got to washing and cutting.
I chopped the broccoli heads, tossed them in the pan.
Washed and quartered the potatoes, into the pan.
Cut the sausage into 2 inch chunks, and again, into the pan.
Busted out the olive oil, the garlic powder, the onion powder and the creole seasoning.
Smothered everything with seasony goodness.
Tossed it in the oven.
Then I had some wine and ate some chips and salsa, and 40 minutes later, I had a pan nearly over flowing with delicious, filling, goodness, that didn't have any cheese or cream-of-whatever soup in it at all.
So there you have it.
Summer dinner that requires 3 ingredients, one pan, and no stove.
You're welcome.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mothering Girls

Raising girls, and raising boys, are two very different things.
I've written before about what it's like to mother a boy.
About the amount of damage they cause which you can measure in dollars and trips to urgent care, because boys are wild and dangerous. I've written about how they can be tearing the backyard apart one minute, and cuddling sweetly with the kittens on the couch the next. Sword fighting, and asking for hugs for no reason.
Girls come with their own unique set of contradictions.
Girls are emotional, from the time that they're born.
Girls are complicated, and their relationships with their mother tends to be even more complicated.
They are all at once telling you you're crushing their soul and all of their beliefs because when they asked if the house was haunted, you said no, and then in the same breath calling you their best friend and can they please paint your nails?
Girls most natural instinct, is to be just like their mother, without being anything like her at all. We have to rebel against the woman who made us, to prove that we are our own person. But we also have to make her mistakes and steal her shoes, because she is the highest idea of womanhood that we know.
Girls don't break things, and their rooms are usually a little cleaner.
They would never think of taking a black Sharpie to your leather couch, and they make you birthday cards with glitter on them and are the first person to tell you that you look pretty before a job interview.
But they also are overflowing with emotions much bigger than they are, and their second strongest instinct, which is to find and keep a feeling of safety and security, dictates that when all that emotion comes spilling out in waves that overpower them, they will always direct the storm at the person they know loves them the most, and therefore is the most likely to forgive them, and still let them paint their nails.
Mothering girls is very different from mothering boys.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Doula Story: Baby Luca

As many of you know, one of my former Doula clients had contacted me several months ago to let me know that her and her husband were expecting their second baby, and would like for me to attend their birth again.
I originally attended the birth of their daughter back in Spring of 2011, and they were hands down my favorite clients I'd ever worked with.
I agreed instantly, on the grounds that they would be OK with it if I had to miss the birth for my "real" job, or due to a lack of childcare - the two things that have changed in the last two years which were most likely to impact them.
They also agreed instantly, and I was over the moon excited to get to attend a birth again. Especially since I knew this would probably be my last birth for a very long time, if not forever.
On tuesday, I got a text from the mom, saying she was at the hospital, 3 cm dialated, and her water had broken. Given that this was her second baby, I wanted to get there as fast as I could, especially since her water had broken.
Second babies can come very fast, and once the bag is broken and their sweet little heads are applying direct pressure to the cervix, they come even faster.
I got the kids fed and situated, and out the door within a a half hour, and was at the hospital exactly an hour after she called me.
When I got to her room, she was happy and smiling, but mentioned her contractions were getting more intense.
We sat on the birth ball and I rubbed her back, and for three or four contractions we were just happily breathing through them and chatting away after them.
But then things changed.
Only 15 minutes after I walked in, active labor really kicked in.
The nurse checked her, and she'd gone from 3 to 5 cm dialated in an hour.
Things picked up even more, and before I knew it she was grunting and panting, and would no longer open her eyes.
When she started throwing up, I knew we were almost done here.
The nurse checked her again, and she'd gone from 5 to 7 cm in no time at all.
We sat on the birth ball and moaned and puffed and sweated through contraction after contraction, as they were coming non-stop now.
The nurse hurried to call the doctor and set up the room.
Only an hour and a half after I arrived, she announced she needed to push.
At 10:38 p.m., Luca Bruno made his way - as fast as possible - into the world, weighing in at 9 lbs and 11 oz, and coming out in only three good, hard pushes.
Mom and baby and Papa are doing well.
It was a fun, and lovely journey back into what I used to do so often, some months going to as many as 10 births, between my apprenticeship and my doula practice.
But when I got home at nearly midnight, kissed my kids, and fell into bed, I remembered why I stepped away from this right now.
Instead of being gone 4 hours, I could've been gone for 2 days.
And there just aren't enough days of my kids being little left for me to do that.
Happy birthday, beautiful boy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Until school starts again I won't be able to put together coherent sentences

I was accused recently of not posting enough these days.
I don't deny the charges.
Things just haven't been all that post worthy lately.
We're trudging through the last two weeks of Summer, and y'all we are limping across that finish line.
This season's play clothes will need to be burned and the ashes burried on the even of the first day of school.
I am literally so tired of black little feet from sandals - and kid's that like to run around without shoes at all - trecking all over my white tile, I could scream.
I never thought I would miss putting socks on little feet and tying tennis shoes a hundred million times a day.
It is tradition in our house to go school shopping on the last weekend of Summer {a tradition that honestly was born out of pure laziness and procrastination} but now every time I go to The Target and pass the big barrels and bins of pencils and back packs that are still clean and notebooks that are still crisp and full of promise, I think about the long days of my kids being occupied and entertained and schlepped around by someone other than me, and I can't help but salivate.
{In unrelated news, I am no longer welcome at two different Chandler Targets}
I know I sound like a rigid, nerdy, and completely un-fun mom when I say that I am so excited for the school year to start, but I don't care.
I can't wait.
A regular 8 p.m. bedtime again, especially when I don't have to hear "But Mooooooom, it's SUMMER TIME! Why can't I just stay up FOREVER?!"
A routine that Lainie thrives on, with her little type A self, which seems to fall completely and spectacularly to shit in the Summer.
And of course, the promise that Fall is right around the corner.
I might be a nerd, but when school starts, Happy Sarah seems to return.
To all you other parents out there who feel the same, group hug.
This season is like the worst.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Friday Diary: Let's sleep late and go to macayo's in our pajamas


Hey guys!
Its Friday!
And on this particular Friday, I  happen to be off work, and that means I am writing this, in bed, crazy hair and over sized t-shirt and all.
I literally just woke up like a half an hour ago.
Sleep is clearly my favorite thing ever, and I would sleep roughly 15 hours a night if it were up to me.
The rest of my time would clearly be spent eating....
I digress.
My point here is that it's Friday, and that means I can do whatever I want, because it's a bonus weekend day, so I'm not obligated to do things like clean or run errands.
I can sleep and eat and swim and not feel the least bit bad about it.
So, that is what today will consist of.
In a little while I will fling myself out of bed, take a shower, and head to Meghan's house.
We'll most likely end up at Macayo's, eating our weight in chips and salsa, and then laying around for a good portion of the afternoon feeling overly full and ashamed of our lack of self control.

I hope your day is just as satisfying.

Happy Friday.

Monday, July 15, 2013

How to Ruin Your Friday Night

Haha I love giraffes

The other night I decided it would be a good idea to get as drunk as one possibly can without having to have their stomach pumped by someone with judgmental eyebrows.
So, I procured some Vodka and some leftover Patron, a good drinking partner, and excellent music.
We set out on our journey before dinner time.
{This was likely the first sign that this night wasn't to end well. Writers like to foreshadow, even in their own real lives.}
I decided it would be a good idea to take a couple shots of Patron early on.
Getting the party started.
Warming up.
Priming the pump, if you will.
Apparently, taking shots of Patron before drinking your share of a bottle and a quarter of Smirnoff, is in fact NOT "getting the party started".
It's bringing two of your heaviest drinking phases of your life, colliding together in a haze of rap music and poor decision making.
By not even 9 p.m., we were sitting outside in the 100+ degree heat, rapping along to Montel Jordan, Eminem and Jay Z.
I made sure everyone knew I would've made a phenominal rapper.
By 10 o'clock we had turned my bedroom into a dance club from 1999, sweating and white-girl girating to TLC, Destiny's Child, and {for the love of God} Garth Brooks.
When Miranda Lambert came on, we should've put the Vodka away and gone to bed.
When I changed my pants TWICE in front of everyone, we should've packed it in.
When I stopped dancing and just started singing along to the music with my eyes closed - in a serious way - we should've probably given in and gone to the ER for the stomach pumping and judgmental eyebrows.
But we soldiered on.
The next morning, I woke up to something incessantly beeping in my house, and as soon as I opened my eyes I felt the goose egg size lightning rod ripping apart my skull from the space between my eyes, and I knew the only thing I had in my immediate future, was a greasy breakfast, a gallon of water, and some Starbucks.
Maybe a Netflix marathon if the pain subsided enough to tolerate a sound louder than a whisper.
 What does all this mean?
It means that not only am I not learning a damn thing from my mistakes, I'm apparently starting to forget stuff I already knew, as well.

We soldier on.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Friday Diary: Another Week

so true.

Glorious Friday is here again. 
This week was more or less mundane.
Just an average week of working and child rearing and making it from one day to the next.
I suppose that's what the vast majority of life is, right?
And I also suppose that I would take a mundane week over an extraordinarily horrible week.
But still, hopefully something exciting will happen soon.
Summer is winding down, and the school year is fast approaching.
Teachers are emailing supply lists and the Jackson is talking non-stop about starting Kindergarten. 
I will officially have two school age children, and I will never have a preschooler again.
It's amazing how quickly that comes up.
One of my old and admittedly favorite, doula clients is expecting her second baby.
I'll be attending her birth in the next couple weeks, and that may very well be the last birth I attend for a long time.
My 26th birthday is on the horizon.
I will be closer to 30 than 20 in less than a month.
Things change, life goes on.
The steady beat and rhythm.
It's all good right now.

Happy Friday. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013



Gone Away From Me by Ray LaMontagne on Grooveshark

Lately, we've been eating a lot of sweet peppers and organic hummus. Spending our free time in cotton night shirts under spinning ceiling fans, even when it's 3 p.m. on a Saturday. Summer = no pants. Lately, the kids have been devouring salads and wraps and fruit like it's candy. We haven't turned the oven on in days. Jackson is calling salad croutons "Todds" and I've lost 6 pounds. Lately, we've been swimming and visiting friends and grilling every chance we get. Jackson learned how to swim, and Lainie damn near has fins.
July might be hot, but it's also the last month of Summer for the kids.
It's winding down, and we're trying to make the most of it lately.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Talk

As most of you know, Jackson's father is not in the picture. 
He hasn't been since he moved to Minnesota when Jackson was just a tiny baby.
For the most part, Jack hasn't ever really asked about his dad. 
He's said things here and there, when other kids talk about their dad, or when I talk about my dad, he'd casually say "Do I have a dad?" and I'd answer "Yes. Everyone comes from a mommy and a daddy."
He would seem satisfied, and the conversation would end there.
He's little, and I didn't want to force a whole 'talk' on him before he was ready, let alone before he was even so much as very curious.
Last Sunday though, it finally came up.
I was making dinner, and he was sitting at the table watching me, when all of a sudden he said
Can I see my dad?
My heart caught in my throat, and for a second in was like time stopped.
It was a moment I've been waiting for, expecting, knowing would some day come, but completely unable to really, really, prepare for.
It was just a talk I knew we'd someday have, and I knew deep down inside that when that moment arrived, I'd figure it out.
I caught my breath and turned to Jackson and very simply said
I wish you could, buddy. But I don't think that will happen any time soon. I'm sorry.
I knew he wouldn't drop it at that, and he didn't.
Why? Why can't I see him? I just want to see him and talk to him. Who is he? Didn't I ever meet him before?
At this point he was still calm, and not upset, so I didn't let myself be upset either.
You met him when you were just a baby, I said. But then he moved away, and he didn't come back, and I'm sorry that he didn't come back. I'm sorry you don't get the chance to know him. 
Tears welled up in his perfect blue eyes, and I wanted to burn down the entire world for the unfairness of this moment.
So I went on.
I said I loved him. I said I was here, and I was never going to go anywhere. I said that there were a lot of people in the world who loved him and would always be there for him. I said it might be hard to not know your dad, but that doesn't mean you don't have a family. You don't need a dad to have a family.
He looked at me, a little confused, but his face had changed. He looked hopeful.
You don't? He asked.
No, I said. You just need people who love you.
At that, Lainie nearly killed me by reaching over and touching his shoulder, and saying "Yeah, like me. And mommy. And the kitties. We're a family."
I could've died. It was the sweetest thing I'd ever seen her do. And that's saying a lot - she's a very sweet kid. But she's also very much a big sister to her baby brother, and she would sooner lick a toad than kiss him or hug him or let him know she would be lost without him.

I don't know at what point Jackson will start making long-term memories. 
I don't know if he's already made his first memory or not. The first one he'll still recall when he's 30 for no good reason.
But I hope if he does save any of this in his heart for later, that Lainie touching his shoulder and telling him he has a family, no matter what, makes it into his heart and mind forever.

It takes a village.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Things Change

So I promised I would tell all of you what the possibly huge, life changing things I maybe had on the horizon actually were once it was resolved, and here I am.
The potentially huge thing I was maybe going to do, was buy my house.
We've lived here for a year and a half now, and I love this house. 
It's the first home I've ever had that I really loved.
The neighborhood, the area, the friends the kids have made across the street...all of those thing ice the cake.
I would stay here for many years if I had my way.
But, I also want to be able to make the house mine. To paint the walls and update the kitchen and change the little cosmetic things that I really don't like.
I want to put money and time and love into making this my absolute haven.
Problem is, I am not doing that to someone else's house, and that's exactly what this is for as long as we're renting. 
As luck would have it, my landlord contacted me and asked if I was still interested in buying it, like I had mentioned I was a few months ago.
My response was a more polished version of ...Ummmm of fucking course!
So with the help of some people way smarter than me, I presented him with a very reasonable and fair offer.
He called me yesterday to let me know that while he appreciated the time and effort I put into the offer, he decided he didn't want to sell for another couple years.
I bawled.
Not on the phone with him, but immediately after hanging up. It wasn't my finest moment, but in my defense I had already had a very long day, and what he did was kind of a dick move.
He knows how much I love this house, and how emotionally invested I was into buying a home for the first time.
I would actually be the first person in my immediate family to own a home.
It was a big deal.
Anyway, now that I'm not doing that, I am a little sad, but I also feel like it gave me some clarity and perspective.
I know now that I am at a point in my life where I want to buy a house.
I want a home of my own.
I want to put work into something and watch it grow.
For those of you who know me personally, these are pretty big revelations.
I'm known for being spontaneous and rash. Not for buying houses and working in finance.

I guess things change.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Friday Diary: It's July and I'm Somehow Surprised by That.

Friday is officially here, and also so is July.
We're seven freaking months into the year, and you'll have to excuse me whilst I be incredibly cliche: it's going by fast.
The goal for July is to take my kids to the beach. This is kind of something that will either happen or it won't, so I'll let you know if it does, and at least you don't have to read a million posts about how I'm failing at yet another monthly goal.
This was a particularly good week, seeing as how I only worked for three days of it, and yesterday I got to eat all the grilled meats I wanted.
I'm a sucker for a good Bratwurst.
This weekend the kids and I will be laying low.
Resting and relaxing and staying out of the heat.
I see quite a few trips to the self serve frozen yogurt place on the corner in our future.
I see pajamas and messy hair and ceiling fans always going.
Trips to the pool, mid-day naps, and soft, sunscreen and chlorine soaked little kids.

I hope your weekend is as lovely as possible.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Hottest Day Ever Where We Feel Obligated to do Everything Outside

The 4th of July

Today is the 4th of July.
Quite honestly, my least favorite holiday aside from Easter. 
Sometimes I have these sick fantasies where the kids' dads are still in the picture, and we share custody of them solely so that I don't have to deal with holidays I hate.
Easter? They're all yours.
4th of July? No thank you. 
Halloween and Thanksgiving we can rotate, but Christmas is mine.
Sorry. Overies before Brovaries. Or something like that.
I don't like this holiday. It's hot, it's crowded. Every jackass this side of the Florida/Georgia line seems to come to wherever I am planning to watch fireworks, and step on my picnic blanket and kick grass in my potato salad and cut me off when we're trying to leave like THEY DIDN'T SEE ME AT ALL.
But I recognize that the kids like it.
They like hot dogs and things that explode into a million sparkly lights.
And for whatever reason crowds and the possibility of cotton candy make them euphoric.
So, despite my dark fantasies of being childless on these pointless holidays, I am going to take them swimming and make them hamburgers, and brave the assholes with their sweaty, rude, way-too-old-to-be-acting-like-that-in-public kids, and go see fireworks.
I know, I'm a true hero.

I hope if you like this holiday, that it's full of barbecuing and family and whatever else it is that makes you so happy that you're willing to pretend its not 150 degrees out.
If you don't like it, I hope your margarita glass stays full and fireworks become visible from your own rooftop.

Happy 4th.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Soundtrack for Your Summer Romance

It has reached 120 degrees in the fucking shade in Arizona. 
I am too sweaty to write.
I made you a soundtrack for your Summer romance though. 
Just on the off chance you live somewhere cool enough to have a Summer romance.
In Arizona you don't leave your house often enough between May and September to meet anyone, let alone consider letting them get all pressed up against you.

Happy Wednesday. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Letter to My Father, on His 56th Birthday

Today is my dad's birthday.
He turns 56.
I don't know the whole, smooth story of his life from start to finish; I guess because it was a jumbled and sideways journey from the beginning. But I know some things.
I know he was born on an Air Force base in Japan, and he was the third child, out of what would eventually become five children.
The first boy.
I know he had thick, curly, black hair as a baby, and that my Nana used to dress him up in little girl's dresses because she said his thick eyelashes and dimples made him pretty.
I know that he had dog tags from the time he was born that said who he belonged to, that he was Catholic, and his father's rank and his blood type.
I know his family moved back to New York not long after he turned two, and his brother Mark was born there. Mark couldn't say Michael, so he called him Pants. 
A nickname that stuck all the way up until Mark died when I was 14. 
I know that my dad had it hard growing up. They were wealthy, and then they were poor, and then they were wealthy again. His mom was always sick. He was abused. His dad was indifferent.
I know my dad left home when he was eleven years old, and never went back. He ran out the back door, hid in someone's carport behind their '65 Buick Skylark until he saw his mom drive by, on her way to my grandpa's service station to tell him their son had run away, and then he went to the elementary school and told the principal he wasn't going back home.
He lived in foster homes and on the streets and hitch-hiked around after that.
I know he met my brother's mom when he was only 20, and that he met my mother when he was 25, and that he always wanted a lot of kids.
I know he was always sick.
He was moody, sometimes indifferent and often hyper-critical and forever irresponsible.
When I was young he seemed like a rambler. A wheeler and a dealer and someone that would always be able to get by, even if only by the skin of his teeth.
He raised his kids in the backs of cars, in junk yards and occasionally in nice houses.
Nothing with him is permanent.
Nothing with him is stable.
Nothing with him is clear.
I know he probably did the best he could.
I know he's wounded.
After it's all said and done, I know he'll always be the first person I loved, the first person who broke my heart, the first person who taught me to survive. 
He taught me that you can love someone, but not trust them.
Love someone but not be able to get close to them.
Love someone, but never be able to have them in your life.

In his own damaged and imperfect way, I know my father loves me.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Home is for Families

backyard lights

Lately I've been feeling this overwhelming urge - no, Need, to create. 
Sadly, I've been needing to create a lot of things other than writing, but still. The lust is there.
My creative beasty is alive and well, and roaring inside me to the extent that I am up at night thinking of all of the things I want to do and make and create RIGHTNOW, that I spend more time in bed writing notes down than I do sleeping.
I have the puffy eyes and shitty disposition to prove it.
A lot of what I've been dying to create has to do with my living spaces.
I'm becoming more and more focused on my home life lately.
If I were pregnant I would call it Nesting, but I'm not, but I'll still call it Nesting because I think it's cute.
I want to do so many things with my house to make it reflect more and more of our lives and personalities.
For instance, I want all the chalkboard walls. 
Like this one from Nest of Posies, and this one from 6th Street Design School, and this one from Tales of Me and the Husband. I think chalkboard walls are so whimsical and sweet, and they are also really pretty and striking. They draw your attention, and they say "Hey! Get comfortable! Kids live here."
I want a functional, but pretty work space, where I can feel inspired and creative without taking up the whole dining room table, or getting glitter in my bed.
Like this, from Anne The Adventurer.
I want to make a cozy place for Lainie to read, and a living room that makes people want to take off their shoes, plop on the couch, and stay a while.
I want to cultivate something that's cozy and charming, whimsical and sweet, but all around comfortable and relaxing.
A place where you don't feel uptight or like you might break something or like spilling things is against the law.
A place where everyone can just hang out.
Lay around, sit around, draw on the walls.
Just be here, and be family.