Wednesday, August 14, 2013

SML and MIA

So, I tweeted that I might start blogging again. Yeah, there's been a bit of upheaval in my life and I should probably fill you all, my loyal readers, in...those readers I've ignored for say, the last year and a half or so. There's news, and it should be shared. But, how to do so?!

I know I'm not in a place to devote myself to posting regularly. One, I don't sit at a desk for any extended period of time, and two, I have about an hour and a half of time between getting the boys to bed (yes, it's boys now) and going to sleep myself. In that time, I usually have laundry, dishes, my own shower, and a good glass of wine (okay, it's plural - stop throwing stones) to cover. I know nothing about television anymore, though I make an effort to watch The Newsroom On Demand. Why, you ask, do I not have the means of blogging anymore? Well, in addition to the subtle website tweeks that may fill you in, here's the convenient bullet-pointed list of how my life has changed since you last heard from me. 
  • On April 12, 2012, Deuce was born! He is the happiest, most carefree, crazy child you could ever imagine and I am completely and utterly in love with him.  He joins big brother H in embroiling themselves in all sorts of scandals. Oh, and for reference, you'll see him referred to around these parts as "C."
  • I survived a deep depression (I don't know if I would call it postpartum, but it did occur after C was born) during which I nursed C, read, hid in bed with the shades drawn, and not much else. I came out irrepressibly scrappy on the other side. I'm more myself than I was during most of the last ten years (for those in the know, the term "London Kelly" comes to mind). Watch the eff out!
  • This led to the other C and I separating. Our divorce will likely be finalized early next year. We are now single for non-dramatic reasons. There is no bad guy, and if there is, it's me for needing something more out of life. You live, you learn, and sometimes you get divorced in your early thirties. 
  • I quit my job too! Around the time that the other C (and yes, I'll come up with a better name than "the other C") became a partner in his law firm, I realized I could not juggle my career with the demands of being a mom to two young sons. My legal career is not over, but it's on hiatus for the time being.
  • In January, I started CrossFitting regularly. No other explanation for it, I am completely addicted. My body is ripped, more so than it has ever been in my life. Part of that scrappy part referenced above, yup, I can now kick your arse!
  • Realizing I would soon be a single mom, I thought to myself, "Crap, you better find a job!" I began substitute teaching last Spring, and I am currently in the process of getting certified to teach secondary English, history, or math.
  • We sold the big, fancy house and the boys and I moved to a quaint, rented house in North Arlington. Penny is staying with dad in the meantime, but I try to see her daily.
  • I'm faced with the reality of dating as a single mother. Ahhh!!! Run for the hills! Are you kidding me? It's scary enough to think about it; I'm not ready to write about it yet!
  • I do, however, find myself writing the most honest, personal post of my entire social media existence.
So, there's that. How do you like me now? This post is here to slowly introduce myself back into the social media stream without getting swept up in it.

Before I start writing regularly, I'm getting back into Twitter, and I should probably fire up the old Instagram account as well. I hear all the cool kids are using snapchat too, but I've never been a cool kid. There will be no use of Pinterest without a dedicated purpose either. Y'all maybe over-the-moon about it, but I'm pretty "eh" on the whole Pinterest thing. For now, look for me on Twitter, facebook, or Instagram. I'm making an effort to be around and share my new adventures. Peace out, kids.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Help! Days and Counting...

On a personal note, may I just say that the nursery post is written with so much joy, as I celebrate another friend who has struggled with miscarriage reaching 14 weeks in pregnancy....Mamas carry the burden of realizing just how precious our little miracles are, and how heartbreak is often, and inexplicably, a prerequisite for those miracles.

For me, this week marked 32 weeks, and for a second I did bad math and thought that meant only 40 days. I never screw up math, so I know that I officially now have pregnancy brain. In any regard - yikes; we are getting close! And we still have so much to do. We're (who is this control freak kidding - I'm) still designing the nursery changes for Deuce, who will inherit H's furniture, wall color, and myriad clothing options. But, I'm trying to give him a little something special all his own with a few relatively inexpensive decor upgrades. We have an elephant theme in mind, and I've picked up a few wall decals already (which are, by the way, a much less expensive wall option that "art"). 

While I am otherwise at a loss to explain the appeal of Pinterest, it is quite useful, along with beeclip, for design projects.

But, that still leaves me finalizing the bedding options, and the final lighting shade as well. So, I'm looking for your help here. Which to choose? Help us out reading public - we're running out of time to make these decisions!


The SkipHop bedding set? It's economical, and (bonus points) bumper-free design. But, the color scheme is not my favorite.

Source: skiphop.com via Kelly on Pinterest


The Pottery Barn set? Navy or gray? The elephant applique is adorable; I'm not a huge fan of the quilt fabric, which would go over our rocking chair.



The Land of Nod set? Lots of vibrant color, but more of a zoo theme, rather than just elephants. It's pricey as well.




Sunday, February 5, 2012

POPcorn!

Being a child of the 1980s and a teenager of the 1990s, I am of the generation that was raised on many a processed food item. Kraft macaroni and cheese, Chicken-of-the-Sea canned tuna, and, of course, microwave popcorn, were staples of my young diet. While I prefer the flavors and wholesomeness of fresh ingredients, I would hardly disparage processed foods. They allowed our family to be nourished with two working parents and the accompanying busy lifestyle. And to harp on one of my frequent themes, all things are acceptable in moderation. Neither my brother nor I turned out to be obese on such a diet, given that we spent time outside, burning off the calories we took in.

With the convenience of microwave popcorn, however, I never learned how to make stove-top popcorn. Nor did I ever realize just how delicious a treat it could be. Recently, my eyes have been opened anew and homemade popcorn has become one of our staple snacks. While it requires some precision in temperature, and proper timing for preparation, a perfectly popped bowl of popcorn with a dash of sea salt is a simple pleasure. As are the countless other flavors and ingredient combinations that you might encounter (though kettle corn remains a trick I have not mastered, it is one of my favorite snacks). Like I said, though it requires constant attention, oil-popped popcorn takes less than 5 minutes and is a simple process.

I recommend that if you are going to make popcorn at home, you designate an old pan to use solely for this purpose. You can see that ours has had its fair share of use, and well, the popping process takes its toll.

Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons soybean oil and 3 or 4 kernels to medium-high. Cover and wait for kernels to pop (one or two minutes).
Oh yeah, the ingredients. You can use popcorn oil, which is basically soybean oil with a little butter flavor, or basic soybean oil. Coconut oil is the ideal high heat cooking oil (and they sell a raw version at Trader Joe's), but the saturated fat content is very high. As for the corn, we've tried black corn, organic corn, all sorts of varieties. But, the most important thing is to find the largest kernels that you can - it will help prevent burning the popcorn, i.e., the worst odor on earth.

The drool sets in...

Once the oil reaches the right temperature, immediately add enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan, and throw in a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Shake pan to evenly coat kernels with oil. Cover quickly, and shake the pan regularly as the popcorn cooks. Once the pops are 2 to 3 seconds apart, remove pan from heat.

Quickly poor popped corn into bowl and sprinkle with another 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Shake and serve.

Make sure to drop a couple pieces before serving. Doggies get to enjoy the popcorn love too.




Want a toddler's undivided attention for 15 minutes? Homemade popcorn never fails to do the trick. I can't think of another attention-grabber quite as effective.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Maternity Leave

I'm sorry to take an unannounced leave of absence and then come back with a ranting loony mommy post. I meant to take a small holiday blogging vacation, and it blossomed into a full-on social media exodus - it was a remarkably freeing experience, but if you have made any major life announcements via twitter, facebook, or a blog recently, please go ahead and assume that I missed it. I've been off the grid, as well as a crazy pregnant* kind of under-the-weather, with house guests, holidays, and preschool registration**, not to mention some still-pending home repairs, to boot. So, I'm finally back, and I'm sure that if you had a hectic holiday schedule yourself, that you understand. But, thanks for your loyalty in sticking around and your patience in waiting me out.

But, I don't want to get ahead of myself. While I have posts in the queue, including an anniversary dinner at Palena, I also am in the third trimester with baby deuce (hereinafter, simply "Deuce"). So, while I anticipate blogging for as long as I can, it would be naive of me to pretend that there won't be a day where I just admit my weaknesses and that I need some time off. Now, I promise to let you know when Deuce arrives, complete with photos, but fair warning that I may disappear in the not-too-distant future. I will be back, but consider this my advanced announcement of maternity leave.

* These five (alright - I admit it - four) things I know to be true about second pregnancies - You do indeed get bigger faster; my belly walks in front of me and I still have almost three months left (though I would be willing to bet that we don't see anywhere near 40 weeks with Deuce). Pregnant at 32 is not pregnant at 29/30; my veins, my joints, my bladder (sorry, TMI), and most definitely my immune system are wondering what on earth is going on. You cannot fight the inevitable; up until 25 weeks, I was doing so well, running regularly and staying fit, but it's all over now. Pregnant with a toddler is as much a shock to your reality as bringing a new baby home; there is no special treatment this time (and I seriously mean none), only another child who already needs to be fed.

** Our little H will be a full-on preschooler in just over 2 weeks! Okay, maybe not full-on; he will be starting part-time and then go full-time next Fall. It's hard to believe that he is so grown up already, but I am excited for potty-training, classmates, H speaking Spanish (I'll believe in the immersion after I see how it works on a 2-year-old), and art projects to put up in mommy's office soon. So, look forward to lots of posts of H's Little Bastards days (so as to not divulge the name of H's preschool, we will go with the interpretation of C's boss, who thought C told him that H will be starting the "Little Bastards Academy" soon).

That's Just Arlington

“You know, that’s just Arlington.” It’s something I hear all of the time from other parents or service providers with respect to there not being adequate facilities or services for young children in Arlington, specifically the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor and North Arlington. I know that part of this relates to supply-and-demand relationships and overcrowding. There are simply not enough parks, homes, classes, grocery stores, schools, doctors, etc. for our burgeoning population (trailer classrooms, anyone?!). Yet, I think there is another commonality…another factor, a parental trait lurking beneath the surface that causes our woes. 

Arlington is, by all accounts, the most educated county and one of the wealthiest in the nation…but a community full of achievers breeds a certain type of need-to-achieve parent, what I will describe as the uber parent - a Type A who is convinced that he or she has the power to control each element of his or her child’s destiny. And women, I’m calling us out here. I think there are a few dads of this persuasion, but it is mostly us.

It’s not getting a seat at reading time at the library; your child not learning to swim unless you register within 20 seconds of the opening bell (and don’t get me started on the message boards lighting up because Arlington County made a mistake in publishing the registration date – as well as parents incensed that the registration takes place at 8 AM, while “they have to take their kids to school” – giving a public forum to the need to beat out other parents in line). Not finding a preschool spot for your child – any full-time preschool - past the fetus stage. Or trying to get a parking spot at Harris Teeter at rush hour on a weeknight.  Everything becomes a competition. Everything becomes one Type A parent trying to best the others. Except there are hoards of these Type As, each trying to best all of the others.

So, this is me, one semi-reformed Type A, admitting I’m out. I cannot play this game as well as the most severe who suffer from my affliction. Trust me, I have tried. I really thought I was at the far end of the anal-retentive, attention-to-detail spectrum, and I embraced who I was. But, enough is enough. I now realize that, at best, I’m a Type A Minus, and guess what?! My kid will still go to college. Or culinary school, or art school, or whatever he wants to do. Because he’s not a race to be won, a project to complete, a goal to be attained; he’s a child. His accomplishments will be his, not mine.

Living in Arlington, and given my proclivities towards competitiveness, I will probably have to remind myself of this from time to time. I will have to fight my own demons, and teach myself that God has a plan for us, and that plan is not for H’s mom to beat out everyone to get what H needs.  I will have to resist these urges and the pressures surrounding me. Which brings me to my question (and hints at a future post baby deuce blog post) – is it this way everywhere? Is this specific to DC and environs? Does anyone else feel this way? Do I gravitate towards Type A communities? Please, help out a mommy who just doesn’t want to fight anymore.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lunch Liaisons: Elisir

(Lunch liaisons is a regular segment wherein C and I meet for weekday lunch dates. The associated posts are not nearly as cloak-and-dagger as they may sound, but instead are reviews consistent with the quick and painless lunch hour theme).  

C's Carbonara didn't taste any better than it looked.
 
Elisir just opened in Penn Quarter, and is in about the most convenient location possible between C's office and mine, so we were looking forward to a new option for lunch dates. Unfortunately, I don't think that Elisir is going to be a go-to. There were some highlights to our meal, but probably not enough to think about returning. C's Veal Cheeks and my Grilled Baby Octopus were tasty enough appetizers. I also enjoyed the flavor of my Duck Rigatoni, even if the ground duck stuffing was more reminiscent of ground chuck. But, C's Carbonara was just horrible, no better than Lipton brand noodles, both in consistency and flavor, the latter of which consisted mostly of way too much salt. To further condemn the dish to failure, the egg was poached to a point of done, and had no runny yolk to spread on the soggy noodles. While the service was otherwise not worthy of complaints, there was a fatal flaw. I would hope that our questions about food not being served as described would elicit more than an apology, but also an offer to serve it correctly. They did not. With all the talk about a twenty-nine cent water surcharge, if a restaurant cannot execute its cuisine correctly, or fix it for that matter, I find this to be a much more serious problem - even more serious when Elisir's steep - even by PQ standards - prices are considered.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hoda and Kathie Lee Come Through

On my work from home days, Hoda and Kathie Lee and the fifth hour of the Today Show tend to play a role in my day. They are kind of like a train wreck - I don't really pay attention, but I cannot seem to turn them off. Well, today, my semi-addiction paid off in the form of holiday gift ideas for foodies. All of these ideas are great mail order companies that are small businesses, and most offer free shipping. If you ask me, it doesn't get much better than that! Also, I agree with Kathie Lee (this doesn't happen often, so I am recording it for posterity) - Michigan pies really are the best. Not that I would mind any of the gifts highlighted in the clip.



If you are looking for a little more DC flavor in your local small businesses, check out the Metrocurean food gift guide. Amongst the picks is Artisan Confections - I gifted their gorgeous chocolates last year, and they were a hit.