On ruining a meal…

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When it comes to cooking, I don’t fail often. Part of that stems from the fact that I’m not terribly adventurous in the kitchen. I’m a far braver baker than cook. So when I fail at cooking, I fail hard. There are a few instances I can choose from…the time I set my oven on fire (with oil) and attempted to put it out (with water) or the time I so thoroughly burnt falafel that I still can’t bring myself to make it again (that was over two years ago) or the time I had a beautiful meal planned and realized (as I was beginning to make said meal) I was missing three of five ingredients.

When it comes to screwing up in the kitchen, I tend to do it with the most basic things.

This is the story of my most epic fail. And it just so happens to be a Thanksgiving fail.

Almost ten years ago, I was invited to spend Thanksgiving with a couple of friends up at their mountain home. They’re both pretty phenomenal cooks and always use the most primo ingredients so this was an easy invitation to say yes to. Best of all, they knew how important gravy was (is) to me when putting together a holiday meal. Gravy will make or break Thanksgiving. It goes on literally everything. If the gravy is garbage, the meal is basically ruined. My family tends to makes the objectively best gravy that has ever existed. And you’re not allowed to be in charge of gravy until after some pretty serious training. You have to be the taste-tester first (for many years) and then you graduate to giver-of-opinions (but you still don’t get to actually add the ingredients). I’m 36 years old and have been my immediate family’s GoO for over 15 years. We don’t take gravy lightly.

So being asked to be in charge of gravy for my friends Thanksgiving meal was a big deal to me.

I arrived at their house and after a glass of wine or two, I set to work. I asked for all the ingredients I’d need: drippings, flour, water, seasoned salt, poultry seasoning, and a few other things. They pulled everything out of their extensive pantry of high end items and I began my work.

But after a pretty significant amount of time (and more flour than I’m used to using), the gravy wasn’t thickening. I hadn’t yet tasted the gravy, because this isn’t something that happens until the thickening begins. There’s a process, dammit! So I looked over at my friend and said, “Um, what kind of flour do you weirdos use?!  Something just isn’t working.”

And that’s when my world fell apart and I literally started crying. Because he looked over and said, “Oh shit! I grabbed the powdered sugar!”

There’s not much left to say after that. Thanksgiving (for me) was all but ruined.

Thank God there was pie…and more wine.

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Sunday Brain Dump

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This month, I’m going to use Sundays as brain dumb days. I don’t even have the energy to come up with a marginally clever title.  If I find something of importance or value to say, I will. If I don’t, that’s fine, too. Sometimes it’s nice to just ramble.

I’m 22 weeks pregnant right now and all the pains I remember from my first pregnancy are making a violent return. Round ligament pain and early pelvic separation are no joke. I can’t even put on yoga pants without significant struggle.

I was reminded by a very good friend today to dream big. I’m going to record a Christmas album…and as it turns out, I have a lot of friends who I can turn to for advice and help in that arena.

One of my friends touched on it earlier this week, but I think part of the reason I’m okay with starting the Christmas season early is that the world (and particularly the States, recently) could use a little more joy and a lot less tragedy, lies, and disappointment.

I’m going to try to talk my husband into setting up one of our pianos (yes, we have more than one. It’s kind of insane). I want to start playing again. And what better time than now? Especially with Christmas looming and all my favorite music about to be on blast for the next several weeks.

Despite all that, Fall is officially here which means my baking season has begun. I loves me some dark liquors and I really enjoy baking with them. Fall flavors lend themselves well to dark liquors (especially bourbon, which I’m more than partial to). I have some staples that I make every year, but I try to come up with something next every year. I did a dark caramel drizzle on some gingerbread and bourbon cupcakes yesterday. That was a solid win. I get to make one of my favorite pies this weekend to share with some girl friends (except that my crusts are still the bane of my existence so I’m going to turn it into a crisp instead).

So it seems I have nothing significant to say this evening. And that’s okay. But it means it’s time to end the rambling and turn my attention toward the Broncos v. Raiders game. #timetoride y’all!

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On needing to feel desirable….

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Today is November 1 which means it’s the first day of #NaBloPoMo, a writing challenge I’ve attempted several times in the past and am hoping to be more successful at this year. It helps that I’m joined by two women who are both good friends and excellent writers. I encourage you to read their work as well!

I’ll be (mostly) following the prompts from BlogHer. Today’s prompt wasn’t all that exciting to me: When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?”  I’ve written about self-care before. It’s not new territory for me. I sometimes feel like I’m whining when I write about it. 

But maybe there are parts of it that are new territory.

A lot of times when I think about self-care (especially as regards my mental health), I consider it a solo activity. I like to spend time by myself. I enjoy being alone. But as a wife and mother (mostly as a mother), taking care of myself means requiring the help of other people. I need babysitters or I need my husband to be home so I can leave the house. Oddly enough, it’s frowned upon to leave a two-year-old on her own for four hours. But it’s not just my husband’s help I need. He provides so much for me and for our family. He “gets” that I need to be not-Mommy for a few hours a week in order to even adequately care for our marriage and family. It’s something I deeply appreciate and all-too-often take for granted (that’s a whoooooole other blog post).

I think I’m getting to a point where I need the rest of the world to cut me some damn slack when it comes to self-care. Okay, not the rest of *the* world, but certainly the rest of *my* world. Motherhood is a deeply sacrificial experience. Every time I turn around, I feel like I’ve given up something else, some other piece of myself, in order to be a mother. And just when I think I have nothing left to give, someone or something finds a piece of me I forgot about or didn’t know I had and that gets taken away too.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for me to be angry about that. And I swear on everything I (still) own, I will lose it if even one person tells me, “Yeah, well, you chose to become a mother!” Screw that noise. I’m well aware of the choice that I made. We should all be very aware of our choices. I think I’m angry because I’m sitting her, waiting for the moment when someone or something decides am worth sacrificing something for. I had absolutely no idea the concept of sacrifice until I became a mother. I thought I knew. I’ve given up a lot in my life. I’ve had to choose between two very difficult paths a number of times. It’s not a new concept. It’s a far deeper concept now.

So when I get asked to chip away just a little more of my time or my energy or my talent for this thing or that event or whatever it is that needs my attention, I start to ask myself, “When will I get a little in return?” Not in smiles and hugs from my daughter. Not in kisses and kind words from my husband. I get those in spades. Those are the things that keep me from lighting my own fuse and completely blowing up.

I’m waiting for the world to offer up some small gesture to show me that I matter, that my time is valuable, that my presence is desired, that my opinions count.

On losing steam…

It’s been easily a month since I’ve written. I used to have a goal of writing something once a week. And not just nonsense…I was supposed to be writing something worthwhile.

I just don’t feel like I have much to say lately. It’s incredibly frustrating. I feel stuck. I’m not sure how or why, but I don’t like it. I spend my time fiddling on my phone or binging on Netflix and Hulu. I don’t even read all that often anymore. It’s depressing.

I’ve heard that many things in life are like breastfeeding. The more you do it, the better you get. Demand is based on supply. So maybe if I read more or wrote intentionally more often, I’d have both the desire and ability to do so.

I’m also kind of tired of not working. I wish it were easier to find a part-time or temporary telecommuting job. I’m very selfish with the time I have with my daughter. I don’t want to ignore her, but I also wish that I could contribute to our home without actually leaving it. I want to be able to sit with my laptop for a few hours a day and just use my adult brain while Godzilla plays with her blocks and her kitchen toys.

I’m just lacking motivation right now. In a perfect world, someone would just drop work into my lap and give me money to complete it. Of course, that’s not a reasonable way to approach life. I know that. I’m not an idiot (most days). But I think we all wish from time to time that we could have what we want without having to do all the legwork ourselves.

I need to be more proactive. Hell, I need to be more active.

On facing down the future…

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future lately. Maybe more than I should. I tend to do it a lot. I’m the person that plans so far in advance that I often forget to stop and enjoy what I’m doing right now. It’s been a point of contention in various relationships and friendships throughout my life.

I digress.

I’ve been out of the corporate game for three years now (Facebook has been reminding me all week) and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what would happen if I ever wanted or needed to rejoin the work-force. I loved working. I was good at working. It helped that I loved my job and was as appreciated as I was good at it. But now that I have a huge gap in my resume, I have to think about how, exactly, I’ll make myself a desireable candidate once again. The one thing I keep coming back to is…grad school. I’m going to have to get my Master’s.

It’s actually exciting to think about. My husband has recently started his undergraduate work as he starts to think about his future, post-Navy. As much as my undergraduate experience was whacky and stressful, I sometimes really miss being in school. (As an aside: I wonder if that’s a family tic, loving being a post-graduate student? We all seem to really enjoy it, especially my brother, whom I’m convinced is just going to be professional student for the rest of his life.)

But then I think: what will happen to the stay-at-home-mom that I’ll have become? As much as I try to make sure that facet of me doesn’t consume every other part of me right now, I worry that if I go back to work, the working girl facet will consume everything. I worry about missing field days and field trips. I worry about not being home when my kids get home. I worry about having to work overtime and missing games or concerts or meets. I worry about babies getting sick and not having the time to take off to care for them. I worry about not being able to take quality vacations as a family.

I know that parents do it all the time. In fact, I’d wager to say the majority of parents do it. It’s a select few that are able to stay at home and be 100% invested in their child’s life from sun up to sun down. I consider myself extrememly lucky to be among the even fewer that are able to stay at home by choice. But it doesn’t stop me from worrying about how I will do it. I’ve long said: “You can have it all; you just can’t have it all at once.” And I believe that. It’s just that, now that the statement applies to me, it makes me angry. It sort of makes me regret ever saying it to any other mother struggling with this very issue. It’s another crappy platitude in the motherhood universe that doesn’t really help the situation at hand. So, apologies to the many women I’ve said this to in an attempt to help you come to terms with your family situations.

However, I also don’t think any of that should stop me from pursuing my educational goals. I still think I should get my Master’s. I still think I’m going to re-enter the workforce at some point in the next 5-8 years. I still think I need to make myself as valuable and as marketable as possible.

And I kind of think everything else is a bridge my family and I will cross when we get to it.

On not feeling the love…

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One of the most frustrating feelings for a writer is wanting to write, but not knowing what to write about. Even more frustrating is what I’ve been experiencing lately: not caring about what I write about.

All the things on which I’d normally have plenty to say – motherhood, politics, religion – it’s all just gotten too…much for me recently. There are too many opinions and FAR too much judgment. Maybe I’m hyper-sensitive to it these days. I’m just exhausted. I try to invest myself in the things I enjoy or the things I tend to be well-versed in, but I keep finding myself annoyed or iritated every time I do.

I want to engage. I really do. When I see things that are interesting or thought-provoking, I want to share the information. When I see things that are odd or ill-informed, I want to add my two cents. When I see things that are rage-inducing or just plain stupid, I want to call it out.

But I’m tired.

I’m tired of being shamed for the things I do, say, think, enjoy, or believe. I’m tired of the sideways glances when I’m asked my opinion or position. I’m tired of everyone finding something to be pissed off at or offended by.

Sometimes I want to be the person that just says whatever the hell she’s thinking with no regard for anyone else’s feelings. But when it comes to certain topics, that’s just not useful and only leads to more contention and people believing certain stereotypes about “people like me.” I get angry enough that I have to walk away from conversations because I know it’s the most healthy thing to do…for all parties involved.

I’m ready to all but call in quits on the social media front. I get too upset and annoyed far too often. I want to write a huge blog, laying out where I stand on this topic or that and just be done with it.

But, of course, that’s not realistic. Not for me. I could walk away for a while (I do it a couple times a year), but I always come back. It’s where I find new topics or interesting perspectives.

So here’s what I do know: I’m tired of being mom-shamed, politi-shamed, religi-shamed, whatever-shamed. I’m sick to death of having my thunder stolen or having my thoughts and talents ripped out from under me, only to be either lambasted or paraded around like their someone else’s. I’m really tired of feeling like I’m not allowed to be angry about any of that.

On my heart songs…

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Truth. 

As someone whose emotions are heavily connected to music, I kind of hate being asked what my favorite song is. I always have several follow up questions: which genre? Male or female? Solo, duo, or group? What season? Which decade? Which genre from which decade? Seriously…there are way too many options. But alas…today’s topic is my five favorite songs. I reserve the right to change these at any time. In fact, they’ll probably change before I’m done writing this.

  1. Company by Amy Courts. Okay, this one probably won’t ever leave the Top Five for many reasons. The song is beautifully crafted. She has the dreamiest voice. I know when and why this was written. She’s my super BFF. I can provide more reasons if you need, but I think those should be enough to warrant a listen. And then you should buy any/all of her albums. Because they’re all that good.
  2. Hold Me Now by Jennifer Knapp. There simply has not been an artist whose music has reached me the way hers has. Jennifer will always be a master musician in my mind. Her lyrics consistenly speak truth into my life. I always find myself busting out her early stuff at just the right time. But this song? Oh, this song could be on repeat forever and ever and I’d never tire of it. The woman is a godsend.
  3. In The Mood by Glenn Miller. I can’t remember a time I didn’t love this song! If I’m feeling crummy, I listen to this to feel better. If I’m feeling especially giddy, this is what I play to keep the good times rolling. But beyond that, it’s THE song that my dad and I will always dance to no matter where we are or what we’re doing. We will drop everything and dance. Seriously, if this song came on in the middle of Home Depot, we’d start dancing (actually, that would be pretty awesome. Those floors would make for some killer spins). It’s “our song” for sure.

To be honest, I’ve been sitting here for some time now trying to think of two other songs to put on this list. I can’t come up with any more. So those are my three favorite songs. Well, except that I could write an entirely different post on Christmas songs alone. I’m going to leave that alone for now though. It would get complicated (again, with the genres and decades and what not).