Sunday, August 29

That time of year- again.

I've been different things throughout my life some changing, some remaining constant; but one thing I've been for most of my years is a writer, a journalist, a person habitually scribing life as it happens before me. Since my kids have graced me, it's become nearly relentless.
But here my blog sits untouched for months. My personal journal has been unscathed collecting dust upon a pile of other journals I use to write to my boys. All of them without writing. And it's not even like I'm without material in the least.
Time is my nemesis right now, and writing forces me to just deal with the fact that life is moving so much quicker than I realize, and certainly much too much for my liking. So I just avoid, because somehow stifling the emotions is easier that way.
However, now school is upon me. Jason and Justine start tomorrow, probably a mundane act for one and partial social excitement for the other. I am agonizing over all of this while trying to smile through what I know will arrive in a blink of one eye.
Two weeks from now, I'll drop off Mason for his first day of preschool. I keep faking my excitement, because he's timid and shy at best so I am doing my best to give it the college try at being happy for him leaving home officially for the first time. I'm even doing a crappier job facing myself in the mirror.
I knew this time would come. Four years ago it seemed so far off for me to even fathom. It was light years away, and I told myself I would do everything I could to make certain I did the most with the time I had with my kids. It's been hard. It's been challenging. Mothering has brought me to my knees on more occasions than I can recollect. I've been at the mercy of my kids temperament but also to their candid hearts.
I've selfishly had them all to myself for four years. Now I have to accept that opening their world a little more means letting go ever so gently, and it is inexplicably difficult. Opportunities abound for Mason, and I can't wait to see how his mind will fill with questions and curiosity; growth will be a strong factor for him this year for certain. I also know school will obviously continue from here on out until he's ready to leave home.
Letting go is a principle of motherhood I constantly struggle with.... and for an avid reader and google searcher, for the life of me I cannot find a book to support me through this transition. I want a quick fix. If I can find that book entitled something to the effect of "Mending your heart when your little one goes to school: a How-To Manual for restructuring your own identity apart from your child who is growing up", I would be good. It would give me solace in knowing there are so many other women and men out there channeling the same emotions of letting go, so many in fact, it was necessary to publish a book about coping with the aftermath.
I guess I'm just looking for a way to get past this... this idea that I still hear the words of Louis Armstrong crooning "Wonderful World" over the stereo of our living room while I rocked Mason in his newborn swaddled blanket a few days after we brought him home from the hospital, a day that was nearly four years ago, but is crystal in my mind. I remember that exhilarating, unparalleled feeling of being a mom for the first time as clearly as I recall Mason chasing me with the football this evening attempting to tackle me.
I am loving this age, and all that approaches in the bright future for these crazy, unruly boys, but I would be oozing with lies if I told you I didn't miss their baby days, or that I didn't want to transport back to their time of crawling and babbling for just a moment. I know I have quite a while until I have to let go... like, really, cut the cord.
But for now, Mason tells me his college is going to be right next to Daddy's school, so maybe it won't be so bad after all.

Wednesday, May 5

...And found.

It's weird how much I avoid blogging anymore. What used to be a period of time devoted to my kids has become a thorn in my side.

I'm not without material by any measure. My kids are amusing at the very least, and would provide daily jargon for me to share. I'm just... not.

And so the guilt comes. I used this small corner of the internet to validate my life as a mom; to share the maddening yet adoring moments of my children; and to combine those two things so upon their departure from my nest in fifteen years that I will have documents, journal writings and sentiments of my crazy yet treasured times with Mason and Peyton. But oddly enough I'm finding it difficult to sit down and write more about them when I'm not with them.

See, as I've written before, motherhood has a way of rearranging your thoughts about what you thought parenting was about, and even in the course of real-time parenting kids have a way of misconstruing those ideas forever changing you. I've read recently that we often think of ourselves as the most important teacher to our children, which I still support, but on the flip side our kids, in turn, happen to be the greatest teachers to us. Patience and humility are tested when, oh I don't know, Peyton turns his milk-filled sippy cup upside down and creates his own masterpiece upon the table and floor [just-cleaned now milky floor] with a look of pride and mischief upon his six inch wide grin. Do I want to fasten him somehow to the ceiling in our basement? Yes! Do I wish to yell at him profusely for making yet again, another mess? Undoubtedly!

But I digress. I talk calmly. Firmly. Almost too faint to hear in a whisper. And when he begins to apologize to me I notice he is responding in the same calm faint whisper. My mind starts to wander and I pause to think what his reaction could have been had I yelled instead?

Before Mason was but a little gummy bear in my uterus, I had all of the intentions of being a working mom. I was not down for diapers every moment of the day, I thought. Baby talk before water cooler talk? I thought not. And yet here I am, a proud translater of toddler speak; though I don't do diapers 24/7 anymore, it's still something I repeat at least three times over in a day. Motherhood tweaked my brain.

And that is all well and good. Really! But my working mom mentality was influenced in part by the idea that I was not ready to forfeit Steph. I was not ready for Steph to take one for the team and lose out on her career, and quite frankly her identity. But I did... And since the beginning of 2010 I have realized the notion that being at home with my kids does not mean that all things that made me Steph pre-kids does not have to cease existence until they are grown up warped teenagers moving onto college. I can still exist simultaneously-- mom, and Steph.

So, oddly enough, I guess that's why I haven't been frequenting here... not that the world is missing desperately my posts, but I've been taking time out for me. And for me that means, kicking up my feet to study my books for personal training, or reading RealSimple outside in the patio, or any reading material not revolving around my kids. Refocusing on myself has been a daunting task, because somewhere when that umbilical cord separated my boys from me I have instilled the idea that I must forever keep one eye open focused on them so as not to miss a thing. In the process, I've lost myself.

However, an amazing thing I have found is that it's truly possible to be found again no matter how long you've been amiss.

Wednesday, March 31

Fad Pie. Er something.

Yes. It was decided last night that their dinner was going to be called Fad Thai after repeated attempts to tell the boys it was "Paaaaaad Thai, not Fad Pie." Another battle lost.

This is the second time I've cooked this recipe from scratch and it continues to improve. Pad Thai is one of the most recognized Thai dishes in the US, and I happen to love it. If you ever find yourself ordering it when dining in an Asian bistro, it's just as worth it to make it at home.

My recipe is based on a few different variations I've found. Two months ago our family jumped on the vegetarian band wagon and admittedly LOVE it. This spin off is obviously as such, but any meat could easily be substituted for the tofu.

Pad Thai
Serves: 2-4
8 oz. Pad Thai noodles [rice stick]
1/4 c. vegetable oil [or peanut]
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
3-4 scallions, sliced [divided]
12-16 oz. extra firm tofu [drained & pressed]
2 T. fish sauce [vegetarian or splurge for regular]
1/4 c. hot water
1 T. tamarind paste
1 t. brown sugar [packed]
1 t. crushed chili pepper sauce
1/8 c. tamari
1/8 c. lime juice
1 t. peanut butter
1 c. fresh bean sprouts
1 c. steamed vegetable [snow peas, broccoli, etc.]
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped

To begin with, place uncooked noodles in large pot and cover them with cold water. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes. As they sit, I occasionally swish [very technical I know] them through the water to separate the noodles. Drain pasta when complete and return to the pot.

While noodles soak, take your drained & pressed tofu and cube into desired size. I usually opt for a 1/2" cube myself but whatever floats your boat. Season the tofu with salt & pepper. Heat a large skillet with 1-2 teaspoons of oil and when hot add the tofu and cook until golden on all sides.

As the tofu cooks, in a small bowl combine the hot water with the tamarind paste. Once it dissolves, push it through a sieve and add the brown sugar, peanut butter, lime juice, tamari, fish sauce and remaining oil. Stir to combine and set aside.

When the tofu is just about finished, add 1/3 of the scallions to the pan and all of the garlic. Saute for another minute or two and remove from the heat. Place the pot containing the drained noodles back onto the stove top at medium high heat. Add the sauce to the noodles and the tofu mixture, and cook for another two minutes. Add bean sprouts and steamed vegetables, the crushed chili peppers and remaining scallions to the pot, and toss to combine. Remove noodles from the heat and place into a serving dish. Garnish with chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts if desired.

I know there are a ridiculous amount of ingredients, but I'm finding the more often I make it the easier it becomes. And the big payoff is the amazing flavor of this dish. I honestly could eat it three days a week indefinitely and not get sick of it. There are many "instant" Pad Thai boxed up meals in the grocery stores, but there are so many added preservatives that I find the stuff made from scratch cannot be beat.

Friday, March 12

A Tale of Twigs

Although the content of the whispers and giggles was uncertain from down the hall, CurlyLocks could hear the quiet hum drum of a conversation flowing out of TweedleDee and TweedleDo's room. The two boys settled into bed about a half an hour earlier and yet still they continued with their banter late into the evening.

CurlyLocks entered her bedroom which was adjacent to the TweedleBoys' room. She set her alarm for the early gym wake up call at 4:55am, and paused when she heard something perplexing coming from the conversation in the room next to hers. The wee little boys are toddlers and so the content was a bit surprising to say the least, but at the same time she shook her head remembering who their father was, and acknowledged also they are a species to which she cannot fully understand: they are boys.

"TweedleDee, you know your twig and berries?" shouted TweedleDo from his crib.

"My twig and berries, TweedleDo? Yes I know."

"Oh. Ok-aaaaaay." Long pause. "Can I see?"

"You want to see my twig and berries, TweedleDo?"

"Ummm... yes please!"

"See that TweedleDo. See my twig and berries?"

"Ummm... no. Where TweedleDee?"

"It's right there, TweedleDo! See it?"

"Oh, ok-aaaaaay! Thank you, TweedleDee! I not show you my twig and berries. I keep my jammies on." Long pause, again. This must have been a moment of intrigue for them both, but a moment of utter shock for CurlyLocks. "TweedleDee, you see Daddy's twig and berries?"


"Mommy's twig and berries?" CurlyLocks held her breath ever so gently and quietly gasped. In fact, it was most certain that the entire session of eavesdropping was accompanied by a long, progressive gasp.

"TweedleDo, Mommies don't have twig and berries. They have... they have... sumpin'."

"Yea. Sumpeeen awright... um, TweedleDee?"

"Yes, TweedleDo?"

"You like red trucks?" And so the conversation drifted away from the gutter banter and continued toward discussion of innocent topics like firetrucks, rain puddles, and marshmallows. And within a few moments CurlyLocks lifted her jaw that dropped to the floor, planted a smile upon her face, a giggle under her breath ready to share the story with her hubby, Mr. Clean, who would undoubtedly feel a sense of pride for his young brutes.

Mr. Clean did not disappoint, and they all fell to sleep peacefully ever after.

Friday, January 29


Something about Miss Swift's latest single, "Fifteen" has me humming a tune of nostalgia. It's not so much the entirety of the song about the issue of high school drama, but more about the underlying notes of hammering out one's identity.

"I've found time can heal just about anything, and you just might figure out who you're supposed to be. I didn't know it at fifteen." Well, hell, I didn't even know it at twenty-five!

I didn't really know who I was supposed to be until a few weeks ago really. I'll be twenty-eight in a few months. Sigh, but I'll get to that later.

But as I've droned on before, motherhood has had its way of interceding the thoughts I thought I had about me, and what the heck I'm "supposed to do in life", or what I want to be in life in addition to the domestic guru I've come to be over the past few years. It's not as if I was in "the know" of my direction in life before kids. They just seemed to slow the progress of figuring that out if it were to ever happen.

Taylor Swift crossed my mind while I watched early home videos of Mason and Peyton this morning with the two of them nestled in my lap. They're both sick right now, as am I, but that's not really important. We watched and they both thoroughly enjoyed viewing their former selves on the TV; the stories I tell them from my recollection are not as entertaining as it is to literally watch Mason shake his butt on camera. I think in the three years of film I appear on camera all but a four times. I am behind the lens, but my voice is still audible.

Besides my pudgy lil' babes, my husband and stepdaughter grace the camera often. They were so natural with the boys. Happy. Overjoyed. Ecstatic. My kids adored them, and it was evident in the footage how much my boys loved them too. They were enamoured with each other.

And then there was me. Frantic, exhausted behind the camera. Happy, but I could just hear the discomfort I had in my own skin. As mom. I didn't know who I was supposed to be at twenty-five.

I trace through my journals and I know how abundantly my heart flowed with love for my kids and obviously I do more now twenty-fold than when the boys were infants. But most of the time when I was with them, I wanted to be someone else. Because I wasn't so sure how to do the mom thing. And I didn't want to admit it-- who acknowledges those things when you're a mom!? You're supposed to be a strong, all-knowing, life-giving being who instantly tames the crazy emotions and physical demands of being a mom the moment your child takes its first breath of air... but I wasn't.

I was totally disconnected, present physically but emotionally I was all over the place, and unfortunately my kids were left with a mom who was quite confused a lot of the time. Three years and a steady dose of counseling has given me time to settle and wrap my head around parenthood. With a clear mind now, I wonder in the cliche term that Swift sings about, if I knew three years ago what I know now, would I have enjoyed my kids a bit more?

Preschool registrations are rearing their head. Reviewing kindergarten regulations are not out of the question now. Both things are nearing quicker than I anticipated and I realize how fast the days have passed me at light speed. And so I wonder to myself could I do a better job tomorrow than I did today? The answer is always yes.

So thank you Taylor Swift, you savvy eight-Grammy nominee, entertainer of the year. All nineteen freakin' years of you gave insight to a stay at home mom. Imagine that.

As for figuring myself out, as I mentioned earlier-- that may be just as important as evaluating the time spent with my kids developing their roots, so to speak. I'm studying to be a personal trainer. While a part of me wants to drift into thought wondering how much happier of a person I would have been for my kids three years ago if I knew both how to be a mom and enjoy it, AND how to be happy with my purpose in my life trying to help people train and fulfill healthier lives... I won't.

I'm just thankful I figured it out now.

Monday, January 11

Smoky Chicken Pizza with Lemon Artichoke Pesto

Hello delicious.

Yes I've bailed out on blogger for a month and I'm sneaking back in with a mere recipe and no stories about the kids.... I'm not even going to talk about the Lake Tahoe a la Urine that Mason made two days ago. That can wait.

Instead I have an awesome pizza recipe for you to splurge. The pesto makes a ton and freezes well, and add it to a pizza dough with smoky chicken and caramelized onion and you have yourself a free pass to wear those stretchy sweatpants and chow down until stuffed.

I grant you the picture I took is not terribly appetizing, but I promise the resulting taste is awesome.

Smoky Chicken Pizza
Serves: 4-6 [depending on appetite for sure]
2 chicken breast
2 tubes of pizza dough [recommended: Pillsbury]
lemon artichoke pesto [recipe to follow]
1 small red onion [or half of a large], thinly sliced
handful of chopped cilantro
1/2 t of liquid smoke
1 t smoked paprika
Salt & pepper
1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and then begin to prepare the chicken. Season with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, and a drizzle of EVOO. Rub seasonings over both sides of the chicken. Add the chicken to a heated skillet and cook chicken over medium high heat about 4-5 minutes per side or until cooked through completely. Once the chicken is cooking, place the sliced onions off to the side of the skillet with a drizzle of EVOO and saute until caramelized. Season onions with salt and pepper. When chicken is finished cooking, remove from heat and cover with foil.

While the chicken and onions are cooking, spray two baking pans with non-stick spray and roll out each pizza dough tube to fit the pan stretching to edges as needed. Use a few heaping tablespoons of pesto per dough and spread within 1/2 inch or so of the edge to leave room for a crust. Thinly slice the cooked chicken on an angle into bite-sized pieces and spread over each pizza. Scatter the caramelized onions over each and top with cheese. Bake pizza for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden. For an extra garnish, top pizza with chopped cilantro.

Lemon Artichoke Pesto
Serves: 8
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 large/4 small garlic cloves
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup walnuts/pecans/sunflower seeds
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste
1 (8 ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed and chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place the cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, walnuts, canola oil, olive oil, and salt into a food processor. Pulse until smooth, then pour into a large bowl. Gently stir in chopped artichokes and Parmesan cheese.