Crock Pot Days

The only (and I do mean ONLY) good thing about the frigid Boston temps we’re currently experiencing (yep, it’s 1 degree outside right now- 1 little itty bitty degree) is that it gives me a good excuse to make nothing but soup and crock pot dinners.  The other night I made this Moroccan Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup  that even my son liked.  He normally will only eat soup if you “take out all the water.”  My daughter likes to point out that the “water” is what makes it soup, but he doesn’t care. He likes his soup dry.  But anyway… this one was a hit because the cous cous soaks up most of the broth and makes it more like a stew.  Easy and tasty to all… my kind of meal.
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Today I’m making pulled pork because we’re having some friends over for dinner and I didn’t feel like making a real meal for them.  The thought of throwing a hunk of meat into the crock pot at 7:00 am and forgetting it until they arrive tonight is very appealing. I am a lazy hostess.   Plus, my husband and kids LOVE pulled pork, so I’ll get some brownie points for making a favorite.

The only drawback to this plan was that I had to go to the butcher and order my meat. I’ve learned from experience that using butt meat is really the best cut for pulled pork.   It’s all marbled with fat, which normally would preclude me from buying it- I do TRY to be healthy…but it’s soooo freaking gooooood.  But I do have a problem ordering it.  I can’t say “can I please have two pounds of pork butt” with a straight face.  It sounds gross and it makes me laugh.  I think the butcher gets it because he smirked at me before he went to cut it and I swear he said “enjoy” with a just a hint of irony when he handed it to me.

I made the mistake of telling my kids about this encounter.  Will I never learn that you cannot say the words butt, poop, pee or anything remotely related to the toilet without having to hear about it for the next few hours? All through dinner last night my youngest kept chanting “pork butt, pork butt, pork butt.”  I’m sure the patons at the restaurant we were at thought it was a charming backdrop to their own dinner conversations.  And my daughter was horrified that we will be serving butt for dinner. She’s embarrassed by everything these days. Oh well…hopefully they’ll forget about it before everyone comes over tonight.  It’s bad enough I invited them over and then decided to put as little effort as possible into feeding them. No need to tell our friends that they’re eating butt.

The Best Mom I Ever Had…

My boy is a ball of energy, a ray of light; he’s loud laughter and sudden tears. He runs full force into everything and embraces life with complete abandon. He loves Legos, and Star Wars and superheros. He loves to pound on things, and crush stuff but he’s also happy playing “puppy” or dolls with my daughter. Sometimes he’ll take a big fall and say “I’m ok!!” and sometimes he’ll barely scrape his knee and cry for hours (or at least until a Band-Aid is secured and makes it all better). He is curious, and smart and silly. He is still trying to figure out this world and is forever asking questions (Mommy, when they tear down the old library building where will the spiders go??) He is brave and independent and a little reckless. As he grows my husband and I are trying to figure out the best way to guide him, to help him channel all that engery in a positive way and to help him navigate through life. I’m not sure we’re getting it right- especially when he sighs in exasperation when I can’t answer his most pressing questions or when his mischievous behavior turns into something a bit too rotten. I feel like I am totally winging this parenting thing. I’m not always sure I should trust my gut and I’m sure I’ve made a ton of mistakes so far and I know I’ll make many, many more. But I think I’m doing fairly ok, because at the heart of it all he’s very, very loving. He’s forever telling all of us how much he loves us, and he’s generous with his hugs and kisses. And, most days at some point during all the chaos he’ll turn to me and say “Mom, you’re the best Mom I ever had”…

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This is NINE

She’s all elbows and knees and teeth, but you can see she’s a beauty. She’s fiercely independent and believes she’s got the world figured out but she also loves to be tucked in at night, and she can’t fall asleep without one last hug. Her bed is covered with stuffed animals, but she loves to sing along to Bruno Mars and the back of her closet door is plastered with Taylor Swift posters (no Justin Bieber though, thank God). She wants to walk home from school without me, but her face lights up at the end of the day when she sees me waiting for her in the school yard.

She’s a contradiction in the most charming way. She’s on the verge of shedding the little girl inside her in favor of the grown up woman she’s someday going to become. She has her own opinions (that she most definitely thinks you should hear) but still needs help figuring out the how and why of things. She’s moody. She’s goofy. She’s serious.She’s fun. She’s messy. She’s kind. She thinks a lot about what SHE wants, but she will often make time to help me or play with her little brother. She could burst into tears at any minute, but her beautiful smile is almost always quick to follow.

When she was a baby I couldn’t imagine her as a little girl. When she was a little girl I couldn’t imagine her as a big kid. And now as we move toward the scary teenage years I can’t imagine how she’ll be then. Ugh- boys, and mean girls, and makeup. Driving in cars. Boys. But you know.. these days I’m actually trying really hard NOT to imagine it at all. Because I don’t want her to grow up too fast. These past 9 years have already sped by at a lightening pace. I don’t know how we got from me carrying her on my hip to her being almost as tall as me (and wearing my shoes!!). I want to live in the moment now, and enjoy the girl that she is today. Maybe by focusing on her now, completely in the present, we can help her be strong enough to navigate the future without losing her sense of herself in all the ups and downs that life will bring. She’ll have the confidence to be who SHE is and not completely lose that little girl… because as a little girl she was uncomplicated and completely free to enjoy life to the fullest.

Helllooo 2013

The start of the new year always feels like anything is possible.  Resolutions are made, ideas are formed, dreams take shape.   The hope and feeling of anticipation lasts for a little while at least.. until the dreary days of winter start to wear heavy and the monotony of our daily routine starts to feel a little suffocating.  Then spring comes and hope is renewed.  Later, after the rain and the muck and the soggy days start to wear on us, it’s suddenly summer- a promise of long warm, lazy days.  It’s all so predictable.  And this year, I’m happy with the predictable.  I’m craving routine and normalcy. There’s comfort in that. I want to know what is coming next.

The devastating loss suffered at Sandy Hook Elementary School shattered the end of 2012.  An overwhelming feeling of sadness clouded everything I did- though I tried not to let it, for the sake of my own kids.  I couldn’t shake the deep feeling of loss.  Those beautiful children, those brave caregivers should all be here.  And the families that have to go on without them.. well.. I just don’t have any words for the amount of compassion I feel for them.  Unimaginable pain. 

But with that comes a better appreciation for what I have. I’ve found that I’m a lot more patient with my kids, and in general. The little things haven’t bothered me too much, and I am better able to focus. I hug tighter and longer, and I say I love you a million times a day. I have found time I didn’t know I had to just play- no distractions, no thinking of all the other million things I “have” to do. I am trying to cherish every day for the beautiful gift that it is.

And there is a lot to look forward to in 2013. We’re going to France in February to visit with our family again- and since it’s school vacation week there we will get to see almost everyone- a rare treat, given how busy life gets! Winter in France is wonderful- brisk days, and cozy nights filled with long converations. And always there is the back drop of the beautiful landscape…even magical in stark winter light.

Then in April my husband and I are running the Boston marathon. This year we’re going to do it no matter what. In fact, training has already begun and I’m super pumped this year. I am more disciplined and feel better than I did at the start of last year’s training even though it’s already colder and much snowier than it was then. I’m sure a lot of my blogging this winter will be more like bitching about the training, but for now I’m content and having fun.

And, I’ve won a few awards for my floral design work this year which has revived my passion (which admittedly was waning a teeny bit) for my job. I’m excited about the events I’ve booked because they are all unique and fun and creative in different ways and should be really fun to work on.

Also I feel like the kids are at a great age now. Both are old enough to have real conversations with, and both are enthusiastic and inquisitive, which makes life fun. And they really are great kids. They are kind and funny and creative. Of course they can be challenging and that’s not so fun, but overall I think as a family we are really lucky with what we have. We have a good, strong relationship which helps when times get tough. I can’t wait to find out what adventures await us in 2013 and beyond!

So New Year blessings to all… here’s hoping it’s a peaceful, happy, healthy year.