Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mother-naked goes to #lovelydinners

Two food, one fashion, one photography, one mixology and one lifestyle. All bloggers. And me, the mom blogger. One of these things is not like the other (or are we?).  Ragan Brooks ( and Molly Schoneveld ( invited me to their Lovely Dinner, a gathering of bloggers, to enjoy food, great company and talk blogs. I’m pretty sure my shirt had a hole in it, because I haven’t bought nice clothes for myself in a while. My photos on my blog are fuzzy and blurred because my kids won’t sit still. And these ladies’ blogs are absolutely full of beauty! How do I fit in?? But I’m getting ahead of myself.

And as much as I just painted myself as the odd one out, I wasn’t at all. Over amazing cocktails by Jordan and Jocelyn (, we talked about the most rewarding things about having a blog and the biggest challenges. It was interesting to see how similar our insecurities were.

I left my belly full of amazing food and drink and inspiration brimming over. I vow to dress better now that I obsessively read Veronica's blog ( I love photography, I want more of it in my blog. And the food…. Can I eat like that every day? Thank you Ragan! What an awesome group of women. Their blogs are full of beauty, but so is mine. I know I can string words together pretty damn well. 

Photography by Christine Chang

                                                              decor by Molly Schoneveld

                                                              Me (and my hole in my shirt) 
We all left with some yummy granola made by Pamela Salzman! Perfect for breakfast.

I made dessert!
                             Balsamic Black Pepper Strawberry Shortcakes

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
5 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking power
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup chilled heavy whipping crew
1 large egg, beaten 
Balsamic strawberries (recipe below)
whipped cream: 1 cup of heavy whipping creamed beaten until stiff peaks with 2 tbsp of sugar

Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 425
line baking sheet with parchment paper

place flour, 4 tbsp of sugar, baking powder and salt in food processor. Using turns, pulse to blend

Add butter and pulse until butter resembles large peas, about 5 1-second intervals. Add cream and pulse another five 1-second intervals until moist clumps form. The dough will not completely stick together.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. Gather dough into a ball. Do not overwork it. Using as few strokes at possible ,roll ito a  8 X 4 inch rectangle about 1 1/4 inch thick. Cut length wise in half the crosswise into four equal strips. forming 8 square/rectangle biscuits. Transfer biscuits to prepared baking sheet and chill for 20 minutes.

Brush top of biscuits with egg glaze and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and tester comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.

Serve with strawberries and whipped cream!

Balsamic strawberries
2 pounds of fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered.
5 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 large pinch of fresh ground black pepper

Mix strawberries, sugar, balsamic vinegar and black pepper in a medium blow. Let macerate for 30 minutes and stir occasionally.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sometimes the answer is easy

Sometimes the answer is easy.

Why did it ever seem hard?

Love Monster called me into her room tonight. Smirker was asleep. This scenario rarely happens. Smirker is usually the one up long after Love Monster is snoring. Fighting sleep. Using every last excuse to avoid dreamland, but not tonight.


I barely heard it over the TV. I wasn’t a scream like the usual tattle-tale tone or demand for water. It was listless and half asleep. I walk into the room, not even sure I really heard anything.

“Mama, you’re here,” Love Monster says.

My hyper, fast talking Love Monster was hibernating. A calm half-asleep girl is here. I walk in and I see it as plain as her my little pony PJ’s. She wore her vulnerability like a ball gown.

“Mama, I miss you so much. I hate that I always miss you.”

This was the end of a very tough week for all of us. Work was crazy. Things were tense and off all over the place in my life it seemed. And every morning at school Love Monster cried her eyes out when I left. It’s over a month into second grade and it suddenly felt like the first week of kindergarten all over again. She would crumble into a sad mess and I had to walk away. It sucked. Bad. But I would pick her up after school and she was back to her hyper, happy self. The other day I dropped her off at her dad’s and she wouldn’t let me leave. She paced the driveway like a caged animal screaming not to leave, that she missed me. I sat and held her on the front steps for a while. Rocked her. While she said over and over that she hated she wasn’t with me all the time. I sighed. Divorce. This is one of the damages that comes with it.

I asked her about all this stuff later after she calmed, after I had to walk away.

“I hope you didn’t stay sad long. Why were you sad babe?”

 She brushed it off. “Nope didn’t stay sad long! Oh mom! Did you know we’re going to see Wizard of Oz….”

And she was off. That subject was closed.

But now, in the dark of night, she is talking to me. And boy, am I listening.

“What is it babe? Why are you sad? I’m here.”

“I just miss you.”

“I know honey.” This isn’t just about right now.

“I miss you. I need you,” she says.

“I’m here, babe. I love you. I miss you too when I’m at work. When you’re at papas.”

“I just feel like I don’t spend enough TIME with you. I need you.”

And there it is. The tears are flowing for both of us now.

It wasn’t until my friend pointed it out to me that I realized what this was. I remember feeling this way when I was young. Feeling like I lost myself. Feeling my autonomy really for the first time. That I am not just a part of my parents. That you are your own person. It’s scary.

She pulled me down to her chest, holding me so close as if she was trying to make us one. “Just stay with me a couple minutes. I miss you so much when I’m at papa’s. I miss you so much when you are working. I miss you so much….”

She trailed off. I didn’t know if I wanted her to finish that sentence. She didn’t. But…

 She misses me even when I’m here.

 “I’m here. I’m always here.” And I stayed and snuggled. “I love spending with you. You’re fun and smart. Funny. You’re wonderful honey. Everything about you.”

Her love language was clear. It always had been. Spending time with her was EVERYTHING. It didn’t matter how much I said, “I love you.” I had to be there. She is constantly saying, Play with me, come here mom, look at this, watch this with me.

There is this obvious fragility, vulnerability I see in Love Monster. I don’t think it’s obvious to most. I don’t think. She’s tall, athletic, boisterous, loud, outgoing in everyway. A little tornado of awesome. But there’s a facet that shines like a beacon. Something that came straight from me. “Take care with me.” It says. “Don’t be fooled by my confidence.”

At school I see that confident girl run up to a classmate, “Hi!!!!!” And I’ve seen them brush her off. It sucks. Hard. I want to grab that kid and say, “Hey! Love Monster is so much damn fun! She will enrich your life kid!!!” But I don’t. And I see her move past it like it’s nothing. And then I realize I am that damn kid.

“Mom! I have to show you this!”

“In a second, I have to do this one thing….”

Busy is bullshit. I mean it’s not. There is real stuff we have to get done. We have to go to work. We have commitments. And it is important we parents do things for ourselves. Follow dreams. Follow through. Attack life. That is a good example.

But sometimes…. Sometimes it’s important to take time to sit with them while, a long while, they will show you how they made a funland in Minecraft and they have a Minecraft chicken named Jeffery who just had babies names Lucien and Constan, make cupcakes, be silly, tell stories, blow bubbles…. Sometimes I feel like I fail them.

I am here. I am. I think about you constantly.

                                      (Photo courtesy of Smirker who loves to take my phone.)

This missing you streak isn’t just with Love Monster, lately when they are at their dad’s I miss them achingly. Sometimes I pretend we are telepath’s and I have conversation with them in my head around bedtime. Did you have a good day, sweets? Yes, mama! Goodnight my love…. And tonight? Tonight the girls called me to say good night from his house. Well that…. That make my freakin’ year.

This is the time. They are little sponges who actually want to spend time with their folks. That window is pretty damn small I think.

I was driving home from work the other day, editing this blog post in my head, when The Who’s The Kids are Alright came on the radio. I love this song. And I started crying. It’s not really a cry worthy song, but the lyrics took on a new meaning at that moment.

“The kids are alriiiiiiiiiight, the kids are alriiiiiiiiight….”

And they are. They are smart little things. They tell you what they need. Pay attention. Daughters need their mothers in a way that’s hard to describe. Be there.

Sometimes the answer is easy. Pick her. Pick them. They are the most important things. Always.