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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

What a difference a year makes!  A few days ago, I turned 34.  The past year flew by even though some days I felt like I watched the clock tick away each excruciating second until bedtime.  I suppose that is life with young children, especially two of them.  The year was a whirlwind of firsts: first foods, first steps, first birthdays, first words.  It has been exhausting and exhilarating, sometimes switching between the two in a span of minutes.  And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

As a birthday gift, my mother offered to babysit and my husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate.  We hadn’t been out in a long time because I have an extreme case of  new-mom babysitter phobia.  (I attribute this in part to a wild imagination and in part to my prior life as a prosecutor in the child abuse/sex crimes division. NOT a good combination, I assure you.)  On a friend’s recommendation, I made reservations at a new restaurant in Austin, Lenoir.  It turned out to be a fantastic evening.

Date Night

Lenior is a small restaurant opened by husband and wife team Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher.  It touts itself as a neighborhood restaurant, encouraging  a base of loyal local patrons and sourcing fresh ingredients locally.  The menu is a prix fixe three or four course dinner which changes weekly and is extremely reasonably priced ($38 for a three-course meal, $10 more for the four-course meal).  The wine list is on the expensive side (this coming from someone who balks at paying more than $10 for a bottle of wine at the store) but the bottle of Malbec we ordered was well worth it.

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A few of the highlights were my first course—a roasted tomato filled with Indian spiced beans and thinly sliced pieces of okra, sitting in an herb-yogurt broth—and my husband’s second course—soft-shelled crawfish sitting on a bed of thai herb salad with a vinaigrette.  Yum, just yum.

 

My first course

My first course

 

 

Brian's second course

My husband’s second course

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the most amazing course was my husband’s dessert.  He ordered the pistachio cake served with poached pears and a scoop of ginger ice cream.  Oh my God. It was delicious.  The cake had an almost crunchy outer crust but was perfectly moist inside and the ginger ice cream actually sent a spicy heat down your throat.  I regret to say I did not get a picture of it, most likely because by that point a) the bottle of wine was finished and b) who can wait to take a picture before digging into dessert?

 

If you live in or ever find yourself in Austin, Lenoir is a must.

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IMG_0319I’m 33, a mother of two, and officially back on the market.  No, I’m not looking for a man (I have a husband who cleans the kitchen nightly- who in their right mind would get rid of that?).  I’m talking about the play dating scene.  The meat market that is music class, Gymboree, a park, or wherever you take your kids as a stay-at-home parent to keep from losing your sanity.  These places are chock full of moms (I say moms here because that is mostly what I run into- although I do have a stay-at-home dad friend in the boys “gym class”) who, in between hovering over their kiddos, are also surveying the room, looking for a possible play date partner.   Play date partners are essential to help you through the monotonous days that sometimes comprise raising children under five.

You see someone who looks relatively normal across the way.  By normal I mean to say that she isn’t sporting prison tattoos or breastfeeding her five-year-old.  The two of you strike up a conversation.  Here is where kids really come in handy.  You ALWAYS have an ice-breaker, something to make small-talk about.  “Oh wow, he’s really mobile – how old is he?” or usually in my case “Wow, are both of them yours? I don’t know how you do it!” (uh, I have no choice, and that is also the reason that you have jeans and make-up on and appear to have washed your hair in the last two days while I am barely managing to sport this t-shirt which I may or may not have slept in last night- I honestly can’t remember).

My point is, there is always something to talk about, and contrary to the actual dating scene, its refreshingly never about yourself.  This somehow makes it easier for an introvert such as myself to talk to complete strangers with relative ease.   Although at least with the regular dating scene, you did have adult beverages which really made everyone so much more interesting and deep.  Maybe they should have a cocktail hour at the Little Gym.  I’ll drop it into the suggestion box.  Anonymously,  of course.

This small-talk sometimes leads to an exchanged number or email address and a promise to “get the kids together.”  Of course, all of your kids are under two and could care less about “getting together.”  Their main concern is whether there is an appropriate amount of Bunny Grahams in your purse for the ride home.  Everyone knows that the play dates are for the parents at this age.  So it doesn’t matter how cute or smart that little kid is, if his mom is a total psycho, the play date ain’t happening.

So you leave with the hope and promise of a new number or email stored away in your iPhone.  But how long should you wait before you text or email?  You don’t want the other mom to think you are desperate, that you can’t handle a day or two alone with your kids with nothing but you and a website of “Montessori- inspired” activities to keep them from a total breakdown.  Because of course you would never just put on the television at 3 in the afternoon and beg your children to watch Baby Einstein videos while you lay on the couch with a pillow over your head….

After the first play date comes the inevitable post-date analysis.  Was she totally offended that my boys smeared peanut butter and banana on her rather expensive looking carpet and drank her baby’s breast-milk?  Can I stomach the fact that she actually makes her kids gluten-free, whole-wheat, vanilla wafers from scratch and barely managed to contain her disgust when I whipped out very non-organic fig newtons to prevent a break-down on the ride home?  What about that I know waaay too much about her breastfeeding habits after one date?  Or maybe she’s just not that into me.

I have met some great moms through this process.  A couple of us have been dating for over three months! I also have one that I am reserving judgment on.  She may have swept her crazy under the rug just enough at the first introduction, but some of those dust bunnies were peeking out from under the rug on our first date.  Just peeking, though, so I think she deserves another chance.  That, and I’m pretty sure that by next Thursday at 3 p.m. I’ll meet Ted Kaczynski for a play date just to get out of my house.

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Well, maybe not Neverland.  The boys and I did, however, make a trip to the Zilker Botanical Garden to look at all of the spring flowers and to see an exhibit of “Faerie Houses” designed by local Austinites.  They absolutely love being outside and so I struggle to come up with places that we can go where I can keep a handle on them by myself!  The garden was perfect.  It was a muggy and overcast day, so the scent of all of the blooming trees and flowers was thick in the air and I wondered if Aidan and Cameron noticed it.  They were quiet, eyes wide open and watching EVERYTHING.  I finally maneuvered my giant stroller to the “Faerie Trial” and was not disappointed.

Faeries, come take me out of this dull world, For I would ride with you upon the wind,     
 Run on the top of the disheveled tide,
 And dance upon the mountains like a flame.”
– William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire

These were some of my favorites.

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Later on the trail, a very pleasant woman offered to take my picture with the boys in front of a waterfall which had completely mesmerized them.  I realized lately that I have very few pictures of myself with the boys, being as I am usually the one taking the photos.  So I was happy with the picture, even if I was wearing my husband’s t-shirt and yoga crop pants in public (Hey, at least I managed a shower).

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We also walked through the Japanese Garden, which I loved.  I remember going to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park as a child when my family lived in California. It was always my favorite place.  And not only because my brother and I got to have tea and as many sesame cookies as we could eat when we got to the end!  These gardens are so peaceful and beautiful in their simplicity.  Zilker’s  was no exception.

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Overall, the boys and I had a beautiful morning.  Of course, the park hike ended when I thought it would be a good idea to sit on a bench in a grassy area and let the boys out of their stroller.  Cameron immediately started sampling the foliage, Aidan found the patch of mud, and then they both began playing with a plant that I am 85% sure was poison ivy.  After scrubbing their poor hands raw with wipes, we ended the excursion and went home for veggie burgers, peaches and peas.

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It’s nap time here. A truly blessed time of day in the life of any mother- and I don’t care how much you adore your child(ren).  My boys have recently started napping TOGETHER and CONSISTENTLY in the afternoon for between one and a half to two hours.  And it only took 11 months.  Sometimes, after I have finally wrangled them into bed, there are so many things racing through my head that I need to do, should do, and CAN do that I end up sitting on the couch with my dog and staring outside because I have no idea where to begin!

I’ve decided that on some days I should leave all of the bottle cleaning, laundry, cooking and bill paying until after my husband gets home and after the boys are in bed and use this time for me.  Which means I am working on blog posts again.  But until I finish the post I am currently working on, I ran across this quote which I loved and wanted to share.  I actually ran across it twice, the first time when I was watching a special on the History Channel over President’s Day weekend, and the second just today as I was reading another woman’s blog.  Enjoy.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

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A post for the new year, five days late, but better than never!  I had such great intentions for drafting a Thanksgiving post, which then turned into a Christmas post, and has now inevitably turned into a late New Year’s post.  2012 was a momentous year, with several huge milestones.  We settled into a new life in the suburbs, transitioning from our urban rental right outside of downtown Austin to a single-family home south of the city.  I left my job and transitioned into the role of stay-at-home- mom.  But most notably, of course, was that March of 2012 gave me my two precious miracle babies. (I’d like to point out here that I still refer to them as “precious” even as I sit here watching Cameron on the baby monitor sitting in his crib and screaming at the camera with indignant fury at being told it is nap-time).  We spent the rest of 2012 transitioning from the DINK (double-income-no-kids) lifestyle to the new-parents-single-income lifestyle.  A shock to the system to say the least!  I am convinced this transition will last until our boys are grown and gone and the next transition begins.

Last night we had dinner with a couple we just met who moved to Austin a month or so ago and is expecting twin boys in February.  Talking with them and hearing their questions made me reflect on this past year.  All of a sudden, I realized that WE are now the experienced ones, as crazy as that sounds.  Because on a daily basis, my husband and I are pretty darn sure we have no clue what we are doing.  But after a little more than nine months, I have given up the obsessive book and internet research that was making me crazy and we have adopted a system of child-raising (at least in this early stage) that can be summed up by asking, “Is anyone choking? sick? covered in poop? pee? vomit? no? OK, we’re good.”

Our conversation with this couple allowed me to reflect back on the last nine months of our lives.  I remember the day Aidan and Cameron were born, how nervous, excited and overwhelmed I was.  After over a year of tests, surgeries, fertility treatments and repeated disappointments, the moment hadn’t seemed possible.  I remember seeing them for the first time, so very little, and not believing that they were both actually inside me just moments before!  That week in the hospital, I felt so protective of these tiny beings that were entirely dependent on me for survival and I didn’t see how I could possibly love anything any more than I loved them.  But nine months later, I think that, if possible, I love them even more than I did during that first week.  And it feels like that love grows every day.  If it keeps up on this exponential scale, I worry that my heart might possibly burst at the seams.

Me and the boys

Then

Me and the boys xmas

Now

I am so excited about 2013.  I look forward to spending time with my new little family and my wonderful friends, the boy’s first birthday, beginning several projects and working on several in progress.  I know that 2013 will have rocky parts, just like 2012 did, but we made it through, survived and thrived.  So bring it on 2013!

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