Times they are a changin’

Last week we decided to make what seemed like a few small changes. We have a playset in the back yard that hadn’t been used in years. With a 17 year old about to graduate and a 12 year old boy obsessed with his trampoline, we thought it was a safe bet to get rid of it.

But as it was being taken down, piece by piece, I had a sinking feeling. I don’t remember being that emotional when we moved them from the crib to the bed – maybe because the rest of their room was still covered with toys and they were still a version of land locked with us at home.

The other change was a much needed refresh of my daughter’s room. New paint, new dresser, new bed. It was time to say goodbye to Ikea furniture that lasted her for more than a decade (held together by glue and prayer). But even when we were cleaning out the room it still felt like she would be in it. She picked the colors, the furniture, etc. It didn’t feel like an end, just the next step.

When the kids went from carseat to booster to nothing, we celebrated. When the training wheels came off, we celebrated. Even when my son left his elementary school last year, we celebrated. Our babies were amazing but we have a lot of fun with our kids. We live in a neighborhood that let our kids bike around, walk around and now drive around. We always felt so happy when they made another, brave step. Maybe because at the end of those steps they came back home. It didn’t feel like an end.

The playset being taken away felt like an end.

I know it’s normal and parents all through time have done this. I know there are bigger moments to come, graduation, weddings, etc. But this feels like a big movement. A home that doesn’t have little feet that’ll climb the slide. A home where I don’t stand at the kitchen sink and watch them play. Truth be told they haven’t touched it in years, and it’s a great big eyesore, which is why it was so easy to decide to get rid of it. Still it stung.

Here’s a look down memory lane and then the memory being demolished and taken away. Just kidding. Not really.
 

   
    
    
  

 

Good morning roast

Sometimes…on a Friday morning, for no good reason, I wake up and make a roast. 

Normal right?

A few years ago my husband got me a Dutch oven. It’s high romance around here. Since then, I’ve slow braised the hell out of chicken, beef and lamb. And oh the chili I’ve made! 

I don’t make any veggie things in it because I feel like there’s braised meat in the bones of this Dutch oven. The soul of it is now meat. That’s right. It’s got a meat soul.

It’s an easy recipe. Cover the roast in salt, pepper and garlic. Sear the meat on high to get crust. Let the meat rest while you cook down onions, carrots and celery. Then add beef stock and a few bay leafs. Put the beef back in. Cover and into a 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours depending on size of roast. Done! 

Now go about your day, smelling like meat and bay leafs. You’re welcome.

   
    
    
   

Garbage in garbage out 

  
When I left the house this morning for a fun lunch with some friends, this garbage can did not look like this. 

How long do you think my crew would have kept the tower of trash going? The box of OJ is barely hanging on. You can’t see it, but someone lodged a banana peel on one of the sides. 

Do you think they would have just let it overflow and gone about their day? Which, by the way, consisted of napping and eating. 

I know they were waiting for me to get home to change the bag. I know because very much like a full dishwasher that needs emptying, full garbage cans can only be seen by my eyes. I’m magical like that. 

Here’s the funniest part of this whole thing. After our lovely lunch – we went to The Container Store. The mecca of organization and cleanliness! Ha! I was walking around in a daze thinking about spice racks in alphabetical order while my house was basically a dump!  I’m obviously delusional. 

I’ll aim a little lower. Is there such a thing as The Bigger Garbage Can store? Sigh. 

The Edith Chair

My husband Joe and I have been talking about getting a new couch for ages. Actually he’s been talking about it. I’ve been avoiding the talk. Not because I don’t want a new couch, I’ve been avoiding it because I know what one piece of new furniture means. It’s a slippery slope. It’s also not that I’m frugal and I don’t want to spend the money, it’s just that I’m fine with it all. Yeah the sofa wasn’t perfect, but wasn’t horrible. It didn’t smell. It didn’t have visable stains. Was it comfortable? No. But I got over that like 5 years ago.

In the end, we went down the slope and got a new coach and a new rug, lamps, a new recliner for him and a chair for me. And an ottoman. A small one.

Years ago, shopping with him for anything new in the house would be an experience full of all the emotions. Laughter, sadness, tears, yelling, forgiveness, and finally reconciliation. Joe’s got opinions. Lots of them. My girlfriend April and I talk about this all the time. Her husband Pat has opinions too. We dream of husbands who don’t give a shit about furniture, wall colors, curtains, etc. I know men like that exist. The kind that just show up one day and see a whole new living room and say,” nice” and then go back to their football game.

In our house, we have discussions before I pick up a new spatula. No joke.

But! (this is where I back track) He’s gotten better. Mellow(ish).

This time around it was pleasant, easy, dare I say…fun.

Or maybe we’ve just both gotten older and decided to bend. A little.

We knocked it all out in about a week. In addition to what we knew we’d have to buy – Joe found a chair for me. He calls it the Edith chair. Are you old enough to know what I’m talking about? As in Archie and Edith? As in All in the Family? Google it.

Anyway I finally have a chair of my own. But that’s not the best part. The best part is that we situated it, by chance I swear, right across from a window. Do you know what that means?

It means that on the weekends I can sit there with my coffee and watch the neighborhood go by. I can see all the dog walkers and joggers.  I can also see the teens getting off the bus with their huge backpacks slugging their way home. Seems boring to you? Not me. I love it.

Here’s a shot of my view in my chair (working from home and daydreaming out the window) and my chair. Sorry I said “my chair” like a hundred times. I’m excited. About my chair.

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Chair

Mise En Place Life

We spent the majority of our Saturday with some of my favorite people. Other than you, ofcourse. We rode up to an unexpected part of the Bronx, right on the Hudson River. I’ve known her for almost two decades so what I found at her house shouldn’t have surprised me. I’ve been to her apartment and I’ve seen what she can do with a space. I’ve been to her office and marvelled at the thoughtfulness and creativity. And I know her. She’s meticulous. She has good taste. She used to be my boss and drive me crazy with her good taste. Many a night were spent in the office catering to that meticulous, some would say obsessive, nature. It’s no wonder she found the perfect house for her and her family. I’d even seen some photos.

But it was bananas.

The view. The layout. The pool. The elevator. Bananas.

As I said to her when we toured her master bathroom (with a view of two bridges and jet propelled hot tub), “I’m filled with equal amounts of happiness and bitterness for you.”

Jokes aside, I was all happy for her. Because as careful and nutty as she is – she’s the most generous person I have ever met. Generous not just with materials, but with time. You have an idea for a business/wedding/event/dinner/party/dog/job whatever – she’s all in with you. She’ll spend hours talking with you about every detail. But she’s crazy. No doubt.

Back to the house. I didn’t take a ton of photos of the rooms because: a) I was too busy gawking with my mouth open to remember to take pics and b) I wasn’t alone. Sometimes other people (menfolk in particular) tend to get annoyed while I take 30 shots of each thing I like. Here’s the view from almost every room.

  
Let me preface this by saying that I am very blessed. I have a wonderful home that I love. A family that I adore. And a cat that I live with. I can’t remember the last time I got jealous. Like…jealous. In the true sense of the word. Biblical coveting of thy neighbor’s stuff kinda thing. I have wanderlust sometimes. I get dreamy about certain things I that I want to do, or places that I want to see,  but I’m not a shopper. I don’t get off on the newest, shiniest shoe or purse. When you say the word Cayenne to me I think of a pepper, not a car. You get the idea.

So imagine my surprise when we do the tour and see…her catering closet. Which would be normal if she was a caterer! And can I just point out that it’s not exactly a closet. It’s more like a mini room. Do you see my green monster coming out? Again, if I was alone I would have spent twice as much time looking at it. But because I was in public and not invisible, I nodded politely and moved along.

“A catering closet…um hmm..totally normal. You and Ina. Great.”

  
And then there was this cabinet….I think she called it the mise en place cabinet. I wanted to cry. I wanted it more than I’ve wanted anything. A cabinet full of little things to literally “put in place”.

  
You can keep your Blahniks and your Fendis. I want a mise en place cabinet. Actually, I want a mise en place life.

But of all the things I saw that day – there was one thing that rocked my world. No, not the pool on the Hudson River. Not the view at night when the bridge(s) lit up. Not even the Molten Brown products in the first floor bathroom. When she handed us our drinks, I looked down to see the most perfectly sized square ice cubes. (Yes Howard, I’m writing about ice cubes) Have you ever envied ice cubes? Sadly this isn’t my first time. There’s been a focus on ice cubes lately for cocktail drinks, you haven’t noticed? I have.  And these were the best. The were sized perfectly for the glass. They lasted for hours…ok…an hour. They were awesome. I know I need help. I sense you judging my sanity. And I don’t care.   

 I’m going to go now and make peace with my very un mise en place life. And with my stupid stupid ice cubes. Because that’s my lot in life. Some people have catering closets. I have a messy pantry full of open cereal boxes. But as Scarlett O’Hara said, “as God is my witness, one day I will have those ice cubes!”. Or something like that.

Here’s what my world looks like… This is an actual cabinet. Now you know you me.  


I rest my jealous case.

 

TTYL

For almost every single weekend this summer, we’ve been on the go. It’s been so much fun. Visiting friends and family, celebrating milestones and plain old hanging out with them has been a blast. Loads of fun in the sun. In between all this, work has sucked up the rest of my time. Which is normal I guess. Work hard, play hard is a family motto. But when you spend a few months in a whirlwind, somethings get dropped. Spontaneous meet-ups. Sleeping in. Spending a day “putzing” around, as my father-in-law would call it, that stuff falls by the wayside. This past weekend, the official end to the summer, was no exception. We had planned on fitting in everthing we committed to. A housewarming, a surprise party, dinner with old friends, furniture shopping, etc. What we didn’t account any time for was the following:

  • taking my daughter out for test drives so she feels ready for her driving test. But between the obligations of a 16 year old and the stuff we always need to do – we never seem to find the time
  • my son had asked for weeks to go to a trampoline park, but it was 30 minutes away – in the oposite direction of everywhere we needed to be.
  • spending time with the kids when they were done for the day. You know that time? When they’ve had their fun with friends and they come home, tired, hungry – ready to zone out. It’s the time when they are most likely to tell you stuff. But I’m always the first one asleep because I run around like a looney all day.

It’s so hard. Because we want to do all of these things. We so wanted to be there for Corinne’s housewarming. She’s starting a new life and I’m so proud and excited for her. We wanted to be there for Marcello’s surprise 60th. I don’t know anyone who is more full of love and life than he is. Maybe his beautiful gal, Lorraine, the one who surprised him! We wanted to meet Rachael and her new beau for dinner in Philly. We met Rachael when we first moved to Yardley, she watched our kids for us for a couple of summers. She was/is the best! We really wanted to do all of these things. But instead, we said no. Even though we’ve said yes for weeks, we said no. We said no and hoped that these folks would understand and invite us again. We said no so we could do random, unplanned, unaccounted for things.

And here’s what we got out of it:

  • My son’s face when I told him that our plans had changed and I could spend the entire day driving him around.
  • My daughter’s excitement at being able to spend the afternoon driving (and then fighting about her driving)
  • Having two days where my husband and I were home base and the kids were able to bounce around from friend to friend and know we were home if/when they needed us – or that they could invite friends over to our house.

Seems small. Seems like no big deal. But it was exactly what our little family needed. We plan on making it up to everyone! But not next weekend. We’re busy.

Wasn’t this just us?

Dear Julie, 

I was driving somewhere yesterday, and saw these two ladies walking in the neighborhood.

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You know what I thought about right? Us, circa 2004, walking our neighborhood in upstate NY with our babies in tow. Thank goodness for those walks and for you. I would have gone crazy. Actually I did go crazy but you were just my kind of crazy, so it all worked out. Our boys rode along as we hiked the ‘hood. They heard us talking and laughing and being totally relieved to be with each other. I hope these gals are doing the same. I hope they are talking about politics and religion and racial/gender equality, because we did. After days and nights spent with kids and husbands, whom we loved, it was so nice not to talk about homework, dinner or family. I imagine these ladies feeling like we did, like we were in college again with our best pal – except with a baby or two in tow. Those were such happy days! 

Now we live in different states and see each other less often – but often enough to stay on the same path. I was a bit jealous when I saw these gals, wishing to have some of this back, but then I realized it’s only gotten better. The boys we pushed around together act like brothers and we can still talk the talk, even though we don’t walk the walk. 

xoxo

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