Toddlers, Babies & Parents say funny things

Much of the day of mommyhood is processing and responding to funny, sweet, and weird phrases, conversations and requests from Henry and Owen. So many of these parenting gems have been lost to the abyss of noise that is forever constant from sunrise to sunset, but every now and then, I have enough mental clarity to recall from my working memories those little sillies and jot them down for posterity. And then add to this an assortment of the many socially acceptable behaviors we try to encourage and discourage the boys from doing in an attempt to socialize them to the cultural norms they are a part of.

From the parents:

No, you can’t lick your brother

Don’t touch your butthole or you will get pink eye

Eating a cake pop off the floor of Starbucks is yucky

Did you pee pee on the couch? Where should we go to the bathroom?

Buster doesn’t want you to ride on him

From the babies & toddlers:

Let’s play pretend tiger. What is that? It is when I roar at you and then you scream and then say wait you are just pretend.

Baby in thereas Owen points to my boob

I have an idea, how about I eat my dinner and then we go to CVS for a new toy?

Can we play hide the ball? I will hide it first….okay ready Owen runs over to the hidden spot and points to where the ball is. No, Owen stop it, be more fun.

Ce Ce Ja Ja? Puppy Ja Ja? Santa Pajamas or Puppy Pajamas what Owen wants to wear all day everyday.

Can we just do dinner and a show? Trying to have dinner small talk and Henry would prefer to do otherwise. Ha Ha nice try kid!

Hands mommy Hands! Any time we ride in the car, Owen gets his shoes off and slides his socks onto his hands. His proudest moment.

Great feat of strength

Tonight the GOAT, Tom Brady, takes to the field for yet another run for a Super Bowl win. While the game may be exciting, the commercials are known to create a Twitter trend too. A few years ago, I think it was Budweiser, had a series called “unsung heroes.” This thirty seconds praised random people for silly and what might at first seem like insignificant talents. However they were true feats of strength like the bathroom user who replaces the toilet paper roll or the individual brave enough to take that last bite of the appetizer before the waiter removes the plate.

On Thursday, I had my greatest moment! While I might have been in labor for 17 hours with Henry only to push out his chunky 9lb 12oz body and then headed back for another baby born naturally almost on route 9 because he was so fast and intense, Thursday trumps both of these moments in stick-to-it-ness and mind control! My co-worker is baking beautiful artisan breads and on Thursday morning while I sat in the faculty room for my prep, this kind coworker gifted me half a loaf. The feat of strength then commenced!

I sat beside that loaf of bread a mere twelve inches from my nose for two hours!!! I made multiple attempts to unwrap it from its cellophane but just before I peeled a layer, I stopped myself. Let’s all just agree that there might not be a better smell than bread. No matter what the grocery store smells like as soon as you hit the bakery aisle don’t you smile? Is that just me? Clearly a fresh loaf is my trigger. But at 3:25 on the fateful day, I walked to the car with the loaf intact proud that I resisted its temptations and prepared to share my sacrificed loaf with the family!

Shepard’s Pie

On December 18, we eat sausage and rice casserole. David’s birthday request is a standard meal from childhood. A dish full of family folklore and a recurring request across all birthdays on David’s side. It is a simple and direct meal with few ingredients and even less prep. It is delicious and not a grain of rice is left after mealtime. Clearly, it is a birthday request meal I can easily stand behind. Then David said, “I think this might be my new favorite meal for my birthday!” What could this meal be? What dish could possibly unseat the casserole that has stolen hearts and minds for the past 36 years?  Hold your breath…..it’s shepard’s pie!

I know what you are thinking: Really?  Yes, really!

  • 2 lb ground beef or lamb
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 8 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/3 cups beef broth
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 3 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  •  1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Preheat an oven to 325°F. Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Browned the beed. Transfer to a plate.
In the same pot over medium heat, melt 4 Tbs of the butter. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic, cover and cook, stirring, until the carrots are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Stir in the broth and wine. Add the rosemary. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pot bottom. Return the beef to the pot, cover, place in the oven and cook until about 1 1/2 hours. About 30 minutes before the dish is ready, oil a baking dish. In a saucepan, combine the potatoes with salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain well. Cut 3 Tbs. of the butter into pieces and add to the potatoes. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes while adding enough cream to create a smooth texture. Season the meat mixture with salt and pepper, stir in the peas and pour into the prepared baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top. Cut the remaining 1 Tbs. butter into bits and use to dot the top. Bake until the top is lightly tinged with brown, about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Update: My Mysterious Illness

At the beginning of December, I was feeling pretty discouraged by an on-going, persistent roadblock in my health. Waves of dizziness and vertigo hit with unrelenting regularity. It was a little scary to feel so out of control and out of sorts and to not know what the trigger was or when it would hit next. Sometimes in class, I would stagger out of the room and get to the bathroom as quickly as possible to avoid being sick in front of my students or fainting. Deep breathing became my best strategy for calming down in the midst of an episode. And I went to my doctor for a variety of tests that all left me with no conclusions as to the cause. What makes it so unnerving is that it was both predictable and unpredictable, and definitely connected in some way to my emotional state or hormonal state. It would increase intensity at certain points in the month and disappear at others following somewhat of a pattern. So in order to combat this mysterious situation, I turned to some some dietary changes and creating new healthy, mindful habits. Now you know the origin of my resolutions to be healthy and happy from earlier.

Since the autumnal holiday of Thanksgiving, I have really felt and noticed that if I eat crap, I feel like crap. With reducing my dairy intake and switching my morning milk in my coffee to almond milk, plus taking a probiotic, my belly gut feels so much better! I thought the dairy switch would be hard but actually because I feel so much better skipping out on the cow’s milk, it has been easy to side step and embrace the overall better vibes and energy I have gotten in exchange. With this extra energy, I have had the courage and stamina to cook more often and authentically from scratch which has in general made me feel happier in the kitchen and excited because as the kiddos are getting older they are getting SO into helping in the kitchen. More vegetables, fruits, and goodness is making all of us slim down on those extra pounds we were carrying about. So with the extra energy and the slimmed down 5lbs, it has also been easier to get into a consistent workout plan with lots of slow flowing yoga and some strength training. I am feeling stronger and this positive momentum always has me feeling like I can keep it up and going. So things are feeling good right now. I still got a dizzy spell about a week ago but just one and that is SUCH AN IMPROVEMENT that I could cry in gladness over the dramatic change I am feeling from some positive dietary changes and activity choices.

The other piece that is probably helping me feel overall healthy and lighter is letting go. A part of me has wondered if some of my nauseous feelings and lightheadedness were related to my deep-seated desire to have more children which is in direct confrontation with David’s reproductive choices. While I was telling myself I was making progress because I was stifling it down better, I had a sneaking suspicious that perhaps some of these symptoms were psychosomatic. Was I acting pregnant because I wanted to be pregnant? During break, I tried to reflect on this a bit and figure out ways to shift my perspective from “woe is me” to a viewpoint of choice and empowerment. A friend from high school reached out to share a bit about gender sadness she was experiencing and how she connected to some of my previous sharings on the topic. It felt very humbling in the moment to realize that I am not alone and it gave me a feeling of stability within the whirlwind of emotions I have carried about me since David’s procedure. After that conversation, I thought to myself, “hmmmm if some of my longings for another child stem from gender sadness, and if I am not alone in these feelings, perhaps there are other moms out there who have written about gender sadness in missing out on having a boy?” There must be a mom out there with a gaggle of girls who has expressed a tinge of sadness of what it would have been like to have had access to the part of her heart that wants to love a son. I googled and googled and googled and asked David to google for this and we found…..nothing. At first I was like, wow no one is sad about only having daughters and then I thought, what the heck! Why aren’t women sad about missing out on the love of a son? My sons’ love is AMAZING! It is playful, messy, and intense, it is sweet and and gentle. It is boyish and not gendered, it is one of the most beautiful bonds I have ever experienced. My perspective has dramatically shifted. I don’t need a daughter in my life to live fantasies of dress shopping and superficial nonsense that I have been holding desperately too like some deranged Disney villain longing to live our her princess fantasy. And instead I was reminded that sometimes when I need a miracle I look into my sons’ eyes and realize I have already created two.

Maybe its causation or correlations but healing my tummy and healing my heart was a lot of healing this past month, and I definitely am feeling the changes.

A New Year: Healthful & Happy

Bye Felicia! Closing the chapter on 2017 felt great. The world events of the past year were so intense, insane, and scary. Now when I say that 2017 was a bit like a burning dumpster pile, I am referring to primarily the political landscape and the innumerable tragedies, heartbreaks, and bloody conflicts that gripped our national and global communities. On a less serious note, odd number years always feel “off” to me. Much preferring even numbers (for who knows what reason), I am excited to start 2018. While there were numerous ways in which 2017 left us raw, pained, and concerned for the future state of affairs, there were also beautiful parts to this year for us on the microcosm level. Owen turned 1, we bought a new car and then another, Henry turned 3, we had some special family vacations to California, Florida, and Disney, we summered, Henry had his first year of camp, we spent time together, with family, and with friends.

Each new year, I always make resolutions. They are always the same: exercise, save money, commit to a hobby. This year I am going to change up the tone of my resolutions and dedicate the year to the double H: Healthful and Happy. Too often I spend my days stuck in the routine of daily chores and tasks and feeling entrenched in the to-do list. This year, I want to take time to be happy. It’s okay if the kitchen counters are cluttered, it’s okay if my grading isn’t done the day students turn in their work, it’s okay to let laundry wait, it’s okay to sit down and read. This year is about giving myself permission to slow down and be happy and to soak up more time with my family and with myself. Now that Henry and Owen are older it is easier to feel like this goal for slow and happy is achievable. The boys sleep through the night, they help tidy the playroom at the end of the day, Henry dresses himself and uses the potty, both boys feed themselves well and are not picky eaters, and they play together and independently more. They are in a new stage in life that already feels less physically demanding. They are becoming these sweet, sensitive, cuddly boys who are interested in learning new things and exploring the world around them through hands-on activities. And this stage is exciting. It means we can get out of the house faster and leaner and do more things that the whole family can do together. We don’t have to ask: What do we do about nap time? What should I pack in the diaper bag? Can both boys participate? If not, what will the baby do? We can explore new hobbies together like ice skating, skiing, swimming, and tinkering with gears and engineering. And, we can explore new hobbies independently without feeling guilty. David gifted a pottery class to me for my birthday that starts on Tuesday and I am so excited to be creative and hands-on. Without a nursing baby, I am able to miss a bed time routine without the guilt of feeling like I am wronging or depriving my child. Instead the boys get to have some quality solo time with dad who is truly the best playmate! David and I get to model to our boys having interests and incorporate them into our interests and then help them cultivate their own.

Since I stopped nursing Owen in April, my weight has slowly creeped up. It was a little depressing to step on the scale before Thanksgiving and see that I weighed more than after I gave birth to Owen. But instead of focusing on the number I saw and starting in on the negative self talk, I am choosing to focus on healthful living. Making clean, simple, home-cooked meals that focus on vegetables, lean protein, and fruits and asking myself if I am stress eating, eating out of boredom, or eating for nourishment is just one habit and mindset shift I have been focusing on these past two weeks while home for winter break. It might seem silly, but I can already feel a difference in my perspective about food and cooking but more importantly about how I feel about being in the skin I am in. My mantra this year to help me target my healthful goal is: You know what it better for you than kale? A healthy relationship with food. Prepare yourself for a lot of mushy love posts this year. I have a feeling that 2018 is going to be about loving myself, loving my hubs, loving my boys, and loving life.

Coconut Curry Squash Soup

Are you ready for the snow-apocalypse? the bombogenesis? the bomb cyclone? They are predicting quite a monster storm to hit Boston tomorrow. Some stations are saying 12 inches others 15, but the consensus is that there will be super high winds accompanying the storm ranging from 50 to 60 mph. Sheesh! That sounds nasty. My biggest concern is having power during this storm. Living in the woods is delightful during delightful weather but a little nerve-wracking during storms when trees come down. Please keep everything crossed that the timber falls away from any homes and that the power stays on. In preparation for staying home for at least the next 24 hours, we prepped some healthy cozy soup. Nothing feels better in winter than a warm belly. Especially after a week of record low temps! Tonight’s dinner was a crowd pleasure and super simple to throw together because you just throw everything into a single pot. My favorite kind of recipe because clean-up is easy peasy so this will definitely be a dinner we make during the busy work week.

1 butternut squash cut into 1 inch cubes

1 diced onion

14oz can of coconut milk

2 tablespoons lemongrass (I bought the Roland brand)

2 tablespoons fresh diced ginger

1 tablespoon diced garlic

2 tablespoons of butter

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of red curry paste

zest of two limes

juice of one lime

2 cups of water

In a large pot over medium heat, add the butter, garlic, onion and ginger and sauté until fragrant. Add the curry paste and mix into the aromatics. Add the butternut squash and water, bring to a simmer. Let simmer in pot half covered for 15 minutes. Add coconut milk, lemongrass, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 more minutes. Stir in zest of two limes and the juice of 1 lime. Use a blender or immersion blender to make smooth and creamy in texture. We toasted up a slice of bread and used it as a spoon to shovel in this delicious soup! Enjoy.