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Friday, March 6, 2015

F#ck You Winter

Disclaimer: I am an eternal optimist. I see through rose colored glasses at a glass half full. I believe that everything will work out. Always.

But there comes a time every year when I stomp on those rose colored glasses and drop f-bombs out of my children's range of hearing. It happens around one of the last (sweet Jesus it better be) snow storms of the season in March. MARCH.

Fuck. You. Winter.

I curse Mother Nature and her angry bitchy ways. My kids had a two day school week this week. The last time they went 5 straight days was in mid-October. The weight of winter carries a burden that the heat of summer could never contend with. Winter feels limited and heavy. Summer is all things light and free.

I don't live in New England or Chicago or Alaska or a land that is known for a crazy long ass snow filled winter; I don't know how those people do it (seriously how do you do it?). I live in Maryland, a state of mild lovely seasons that embraces warm; a drinking state with a boating problem. I want to hear a bird chirp and a flower emerge and feel that moment of unzipping your coat and breathing in the light of the sun without the bitchslap of a chill to your bones.

I would have an orgasm today if that happened.

Today it is too cold to feel your face. Today your eyelids may freeze to your eyeballs. Today it is too cold for my husband's ATV to start so he can plow the driveway. He and my sons are old school shoveling it. It is actually orgasmic that he is outside and I am not. Thank you husband. I'm so glad I didn't stab you the other day when you asked what I did all day when all of the children were home on snow day #217.

So I've declared this day a day of gluttony and I will eat chocolate with a vengeance and drink wine like bikini season will never come. Who knows maybe it won't this year... fuck you endless dark stupid winter.

I've heard that you should wish for the people that you love enough cold days that you appreciate the warm ones. Done and done. Do you hear that Mother Fucking Nature? We surrender. You've granted us the winter wishes now we are ready for the spring ones. And we promise to be eternally grateful.

Until next winter.

Love and hope and red wine in the meantime...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Gluten Free Granola Bars

Yesterday was snow day 117 here. I wanted to make something with my kids that would show them I love them and in the look at us we are cooking together way but not so far as I want to clean up the kitchen all day way. Enter these granola bars. No oven or sweat required. Really easy and even cost saving (those store bought gluten free bars can really add up). And there is enough for leftovers. So they can be reminded of the kitchen bonding again and again. Score one for team we can't even wait for spring...
cheers to almost March my friends.

Gluten Free Granola Bars

adapted from Minimalist Baker

1 cup packed raisins or dates, pitted (deglet nour or medjool)
1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey or agave)
1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter or sun butter 
1 cup roasted salted sunflower seeds (or chopped almonds)
1 1/2 cups gluten free rolled oats 
3/4 cup chocolate chips
           optional add-ins: dried fruit, vanilla, nuts, banana chips, flax seed, etc.

1 Process raisins or dates in a food processor or Vitamix until small bits remain (about 30-40 seconds). It should form a "dough" like consistency. (mine rolled into a ball); can also add oats to help them process easier
2 Place oats, seeds and raisins in a bowl - set aside.
3 Warm maple syrup and sun or peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the raisins to disperse throughout.
5 Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8x8 dish or other small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily. (A loaf pan might work, but will yield thicker bars.)
6 Press down until uniformly flattened. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let set in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.
7 Remove bars from pan and chop into even bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. I kept mine in the freezer to keep them extra fresh and they taste even more delicious the next day and can be eaten straight from the freezer. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

An Imperfect Love Letter to my Kids

I know that I tell you I love you an endless number of times a day. I know I also raise my voice too much and I'm grumpy before I have had caffeine and I have high expectations of you and all of that is probably never ever going to change. So please remember this: I am beyond proud of you. I am overwhelmed with the luck that you were born to me. And I know that I don't tell you that enough.

Here are just some of the reasons of why my soul could burst with pride:

Because sometimes you say please and thank you without me having to ask you to.

Because you have a laugh that is stunning and contagious.

Because you sometimes remember to not pick your nose in the living room.

Because you are so kind.

Because if I wasn't your parent, I'd want to be the type of friend you'd want to have a sleepover with.

Because you sometimes choose to go to the bathroom indoors. In a toilet.

Because I don't really mind when you go outside. I'd still want to have a sleepover.

Because you show up.

Because you sometimes sleep until after 6:30 in the morning.

Because you don't mind when dirt is under your fingernails.

Because you keep on trying.

Because you are okay with wearing mismatched socks when I'm behind on laundry.

Because your heart is so big it can barely be contained in your body.

Because you appreciate the greatness that is an ice cream sundae.

Because you live out loud.

Because you help clean the bathrooms.

Because you love books.

Because you aren't perfect.

Because you know that I'm not either.

Because you've taught me more than I thought I was capable of learning.

Because you know that success isn't measured in dollars.

Because you know that joy isn't either.

Because you give the type of hugs that make me forget to exhale.

Because you are stubborn. Like your father.

Because you are smart. Like me.

Because you love a good party.

Because you run so fast when you get off the bus, like the front door can't come quickly enough.

Because you remind me to stop taking it all so seriously.

Because you draw and build and dance.

Because you see opportunity in a rainy Saturday.

Because you can dream things that the world needs.

Because you are light.

Because you are the future.

Because you have set fire to the past.

Because you have made my present.

Because of you, I know what pride is. I know what happy feels like.
And I get to be awakened and blanketed by all that is good. Every. Single. Day.

I love you. I am proud of you. For all that you do... thank you.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Life with Twins

Here are snapshots of a life with twins. Here are just some of the priceless moments of our last 5 years with these babes in our world. And of course what we have learned...

To everyone with babes, one, two or oh so many more, stock up on the wine, laughter and caffeine friends. And don't forget to take pictures. 


There's a lot of cuteness. 

There's a lot of trying to be like pinterest. Until you realize every project will result in tears.

There's a lot of this.
And this. Sharing germs is our favorite. 

So is stealing electronics.

Life is a little bit messy. 

Or a lot. 

Don't worry Mom. We can find the jar of Aquaphor on our own. 

They're willing to try anything. Thanks Uncles. 

They will consume things that are not even close to being food.

Seriously...who keeps putting these diapers on? 

Duct tape = survival.

When you blink they will do this... 
The only time they prefer to wear clothing is actually the places where they're not supposed to.

    Potty training may have taken 3 years.

Dirt and nudity will find them wherever they go.

Is there really a better way to read?

Life is really all about the shoes.

And sometimes we are upset because we tried to put on too many pairs of underwear. 
Everything becomes a toy. Or a way to get onto a counter.

Or sometimes things are just in their way. Like all of these clothes that were in drawers.

Make-up is the most fun. Especially on Christmas. When we are hosting it. And momma hasn't put any on yet.

They will find a way to do anything.
Anything can become a swing.

 Or a new chair. Like this sink. 

Chairs are so much more fun if you don't wear pants. 
Pants are so overrated. 

They can do anything at all.

And everything at once.

They will find a way to get bruises and you have no idea what they did.

They literally exhaust themselves to the point of this.

They will find a way to escape. Always. 

    They will find a way.

And find the keys to the ATV.

And just when you think they will color on paper...

I swear we own clothes. 

Seriously it is that exhausting to keep up with your twin.

And then the next time you blink, here they are. Clothed and holding hands.
And you don't know how you all made it.
But you did.
And you try not to do anymore blinking because this journey is just the most fun.
And exhausting.
And you wouldn't want it any other way. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

10 Thoughts that I Had During my First Bikram Yoga Class

I may be a yoga instructor but Bikram still intimidates me. I have avoided it for far too long because something about that 104 degree room and the idea of the same 26 poses just didn't strike my zen fancy.  But then a Groupon came my way and I figured it was time to give heat a chance. When I walked into that stifling room for the first time I was intrigued, excited and scared shitless.

Here are ten thoughts that crossed and lingered too long on my mind during my first Bikram class:

1. Is it too late to run out of this room? Did I just walk into a sauna? Surely they just keep it this hot to welcome us. I've broken a sweat just in unrolling my mat. I'll just be sure to be in the back row in case I decide to go for a Starbucks run instead. Oh no. The instructor closed the door. Arrivederci Caramel Macchiato. It is okay. I've got this.

2. Am I doing this right? I don't got this. Excuse me... what is this breathwork and why are we standing? I'm not following. I guess I'll just pretend that this is all normal and we all look completely normal. Note to self: do not try this breath in public. Ever.

3. Sweet fancy Moses, her body is ridiculous. Dear front and center girl, I see your better than Channing Tatum abs and your barely covering your cheeks spandex shorts. WE ALL SEE YOU. You are front and center posing like a gazelle in front of a wall full of mirrors. Bitch. I mean I know yoga isn't a competition but I can not bring myself to stop staring at her. Wait is that J. Lo? I'm pretty sure it is. Or her more built body double. I'm going to need to watch Monster-in-Law later to confirm.

4. I'm sweating more than anyone else in the history of ever. ARE WE ON THE SUN RIGHT NOW? Is anyone else finding it damn near impossible to breathe? Has anyone else's mat turned into a slip n' slide? I'm so overdressed and I'm only wearing a tank top.

5. Correction: the guy next to me is sweating more than anyone else in the history of ever. I'm not trying to judge you yet I can not look away. If I'm attempting to balance on a slip n' slide than that guy is doing tree pose on top of Niagra Falls. Could we get Mr. Itty Bitty Spandex an extra towel? Or all of the towels? Maybe a mop? Rain barrel? If he's coming here to get laid than I am so sorry friend but it's not going to happen. Maybe you'll have better luck at Zumba.

6. I should have done some training for this. My body has never before been so pissed off at me. It's like deciding while eating a banana split to drop it to go complete a triathlon. Stupid fucking Groupon.

7. I want to get a tattoo. I am channeling all of my energies into fantasizing about being one of the almost-naked-I-have-Chinese-food-in-my-fridge-older-than-them-built-like-gladiators girls in the front row. They are barely even sweating. J.Lo and I shall become besties and drink wheatgrass after front and center Bikram together. And we will travel to Thailand and get small om tattoos somewhere on our ab area so the wannabes in the back row will have to squint to read them. This class is the best thing ever.

8. Is this class ever going to actually end? Did I misread the description and sign up for a 900 minute class instead of a 90 minute one? Now all of my fantasies are about snow and Antartica. Fuck Thailand. I'm sorry Thailand, nothing against you it's just I need to be among Eskimos right now. At least we've made our way on to the floor which is good because I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to stand again. I could have gone to Starbucks AND watched Monster-in-Law AND drank a margarita in this amount of time. I. AM. SO. THIRSTY.

9. Thank you Mother of all things holy, the instructor dimmed the lights. The end is near! The end is near! I've never been more excited for darkness. Savasana you are the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

10. I survived. I actually made it. Exhausted like how you would feel if you had your intestines ripped out of you, to be cleaned, ironed, neatly folded and then put back in again while using no drugs, of course. And wow. I actually feel like a bad ass warrior. Sweaty, spent and glorious. That Savasana put it all into delicious perspective for me. God bless laying down. This. This is the feeling I guess we all strive for- overcoming our minds so that our bodies will thank us. This is detox at its natural crazy best. A celebration of what the body can do and a release of the things that need to be let go of. Bikram you have sold me though I may need to work on the abs a wee bit more before heading back.

I can't wait to shower (maybe one where I'm sitting down; I suppose that's called a bath but I don't want to swim in my current sweat situation). A sit shower it will be. And I'm actually even looking forward to the next class. Groupon's got me for 14 more.

Cheers to you warriors...
May your hot yoga experience be paved with extra towels.

Love & namaste,

Doing snow angels naked in this is what Bikram fantasies are made of.

My new book is available on Amazon now. A happy gift for all the warriors in your life. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Best Hot Chocolate Ever. (Bonus: Dairy Free Too)

It is about 3 degrees here and I found a can of Trader Joe's Coconut Cream in the pantry. BOOM. Winter joy just got real.

I wanted to create something free of dairy (it unfortunately doesn't agree with my stomach though I have fought for years to try to convince it otherwise) but if you don't have or want to use a milk substitute by all means go for the real deal, just please don't rub it in you lucky one. And dare I say I wanted to create something grown up... why should the kids get all the fun? The kids can keep their Swiss Miss; Momma's going to take a time out with this happy blend. It isn't all that sweet but you can of course add more sugar or your favorite sweetener if you fancy. 
I love the richness of it. And the fact that it also pairs perfectly with espresso. Or my personal favorite, whipped cream vodka. 

Hope you enjoy and here's to a delicious winter...

The Players

1 can of coconut cream (I believe it's 15 or 16 oz. Sorry my can is in recycling heaven; I got mine at Trader Joe's)
2 1/2 cups of almond milk
2 Tbsp. sugar (increase if you prefer a sweeter cocoa)
2 Heaping Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

The Game

  1. Pour coconut cream, almond milk, vanilla extract, cocoa powder and sugar in a medium sized pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Mix well to incorporate.
  3. Once the mixture is hot pour in the chocolate and mix until fully melted and combined.
  4. Keep on medium low and stir often until it begins to simmer.
  5. Once simmering turn heat down because you don't want you chocolate scorching.

Keep an eye on it and serve once it is thoroughly mixed. Feel free to add marshmallows, espresso or whipped cream vodka. Or all of the above. 
Mondays are for moderation, not Fridays. Or snow days. 
Enjoy loves.

Oh winter you and I can get along after all.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Keep on Treading Tribe

I used to see the piles of clothes strewn in every corner of every room and feel helpless. Tears welled. My shaken voice would raise. Those clothes were an exact representation of the failure that I felt as a mother. Growing mountains of messy, all consuming guilt. Wash, dry, fold, put away, get muddy, outgrow, buy more, pass on, change seasons, repeat. Never ending piles. Never put away. Never ahead of anything at all. The treading everyday life of parenthood. Each day repeating itself. Never getting any closer to shore. Just (barely) keeping my head above water. Maybe one minute gaining inches forward only to have the flu or teething or a tantrum in aisle two to push me back farther back than I felt I even began.

I have a dear friend who is pregnant with twins. She texted me a picture of her bare beautiful belly. Her skin glowed with the badges of motherhood; the marks of growth that feels too big to contain. Her belly button protruding just enough as if to say two stunning lives are growing here and we just need to make more room for them; they need every centimeter of valuable real estate possible. I used to have that same belly button; those same badges of a mother's work and honor. You get amnesia of all the "wise" words strangers say to you in public when you are pregnant but one comment I will never forget is a five year old whispering to her sibling, "I can see the baby's nose." Some of my most favorite words ever.

Now that all four of my babes are in school I have that glorious pleasure of going to the grocery store alone. Some may view these trips as a chore but I find them to be a blissful vacation- all that gorgeous food, oh so many options! How lucky are we to live in this land of being able to create any recipe you dream and to do it within driving distance? LOVE. And to go to this place without having to strap anyone in and no constant request for snacks and more snacks and high fructose corn syrup and to be alone with my own thoughts and time and recipes is borderline orgasmic for me. Which is why on a recent Trader Joe's solo trip, I couldn't help but to be surprised when I stopped and stared at a mother in the trenches. She had a baby in a bjorn that had just traded in its newborn wails to succumb to sleep on her chest. A two year old hung off the cart in cowboy boots opening another mozzarella stick while a four year old in an Elsa gown followed behind driving an overflowing little red cart recklessly colliding with the sample station. That momma was forgetting what it feels like to breathe. I showed her that her haven was near; there is a free coffee sample station as well. She smiled, poured a cup and breathed it in like it was a cappuccino poured on an Italian countryside.

I am you I thought. No that's not true. I was you. But I am still part of your tribe. The surviving motherhood tribe. The tribe that in the thick of it all is barely treading to stay afloat and never goes to the bathroom alone and too often forgets how to breathe. The this-is-so-insanely-hard-why-don't-people-talk-about-how-insanely-hard-it-is place in life.

And in a blink it evolves. It is still insanely hard but at least you can shower alone. And sometimes you have a moment to think and eat warm food and breathe. And you remember in awe what it felt like to have life flutter inside of you. And to have  a newborn fall asleep on you. And to have cowboys and princesses accompany you to the store. And that is why strangers give you that sympathetic "I've been there" stare and the "please please enjoy it" hand gestures. It is not out of jealousy or meaning to be rude or longing to restart that journey. Oh hell no. It is because we are all part of that same tribe and sweet love it will get easier. You will wear your badges with pride. And you will realize, perhaps not in the moment that you most need to, but in a moment of being alone in a store looking at a mirror of the past and see, truly see, that motherhood is consuming and exhausting and just may be the most important work of your life.

The pure irony of it all is that there are endless days that you are going to want to fast forward only to look back and wished that you had hit the pause button.

So now I'm hitting pause and looking at the piles upon piles of clothes drying by the basement fire and thinking how lucky am I? We were blessed to have a two hour delay this morning and there was nowhere we had to be like all of the other mornings and so my kids went out in the snow. They are grown enough to zip up their own coats and young enough to feel like they are flying when they sled down our hill. Bliss.

If you are treading, please keep on keeping on. And please remember that there are lifeboats in the form of girlfriends and wine and babysitters and even the woman (creepily) staring at you at the store. Ask for help if you need it. There is no shame in it. You are not alone. This tribe is for life.

Love, health and caffeine to you...