Entries from blogs tagged with “lawrence”
If you look in the right spots, sherry suddenly seems a lot less stodgy than stereotypes would have you believe.
As such places have for eons, a handful of Lawrence’s nicer restaurants have a sherry or two on their drink menus, usually grouped with dessert cordials. A small few are following a trend from the coasts by increasing sherry offerings, even incorporating the Spanish fortified wine into craft cocktails.
One is Pachamama’s, 800 New Hampshire St., which is planning it’s first-ever sherry dinner Wednesday night — though chef/owner Ken Baker says he’s not sure what’s taken him so long to do one. (See menu below, and call the restaurant at 841-0990 to reserve a seat. There were a few left late this week.) Another is 715, 715 Massachusetts St., where bar manager Margie Hogue said guests can choose from about five or six sherries by the glass or order one of several craft cocktails featuring the wine.
On 715’s cocktail menu now is the Jerez, made with Campari, cream sherry, sweet vermouth and orange. A featured drink Hogue hinted may land a spot on 715’s next cocktail menu is the Imperial Suitor, with Guatemalan aged rum, aged sherry (about 25 years on both) and blood orange liqueur, stirred with ice and served with a cherry.
“We really liked how rich and raisiny it (the sherry) was, so we used that instead of a sweetening agent as a variation on the old fashioned,” Hogue said. “It’s rich, and sherry gives it a nice nutty nuance.”
Admittedly, I’m a sherry newbie (it turns out there are styles and levels of sweetness, just like champagne or German rieslings — who knew?). Baker kindly answered some questions this week to help bring me up to speed. Now, about those stereotypes...
Sara Shepherd: Convince me sherry is not just for people of the 1800s (or for soaking the spongecake in my grandmother’s trifle recipe)?
Ken Baker: Sherry has a long and storied history. It’s a drink that travels well, and it has resilience. But the most important thing about it is that it’s super versatile — it has so many different flavors. Everybody identifies sherry with the sickly sweet after-dinner drink, but most of your best sherries are bone dry, umami-rich, very savory. Those are the kinds of wines that blow court out of the water, and they go with so many different foods.
SS: My cabinet’s always stocked with a bottle of bottom-shelf sherry I use for cooking. I’ve tried drinking it (even in a cobbler with muddled fresh fruit), and it’s not good, not good at all. What kind of sherry is actually worth sipping?
KB: I don’t want to say cooking with sherry is a terrible idea, but it’s a terrible idea. I come from the standpoint that beer and wines are for drinking! You’re going to spend a little bit more money, but with sherry — aside from being versatile and having a huge range of flavors — the prices are all over as well.
SS: So if you’re really trying to appreciate this wine, it’s worth paying for something from higher than the bottom shelf?
KB: Yeah, absolutely.
SS: Any tips for pairing sherry with food?
KB: For the fino or manzanilla sherries, the first thing that comes to mind is olive spreads or nuts. The manzanilla is going to have more of a briny, salty component to it so it’s just awesome with seafood. The more full-bodied sherries take on super nutty caramelized notes. They have such a strong backbone, these wines are really good with game meats and sausages, a wide variety of foods. Amontillado up to oloroso, then the super-sticky ones like moscatel or Pedro Ximinez, that’s the kind of stuff you can pour on a bowl of ice cream and it’s unbelievable.
SS: Have you noticed more people ordering sherry at your restaurant?
KB: It’s not a top seller, but there’s definitely an upswing. I think part of that is because my bartenders are getting into it more, taking it away from the old-ladies-playing bridge image. The Midwest is always a little slow on the uptake, but it’s definitely huge in New York, Charleston and out on the West Coast — they have bars where that’s what they do.
Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at email@example.com or contact me on Twitter @saramarieshep. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.
My colleague Chad, our city reporter whose Town Talk blog brings us the scoop on all kinds of businesses before they even open, today reports that an "all-natural" hamburger chain is coming to the space formerly occupied by Chutney's Indian Diner and Bar, 918 Massachusetts St.
According to Chad's latest post:
Franchise owners Josh and Michelle Kurzban plan to open their restaurant, called BurgerFi, by mid-spring. The Florida-based chain has 36 restaurants nationwide but expects to have 75 by the end of 2014.
The restaurant says all its hamburgers are made of free-range, hormone-free, never-frozen Angus beef. Also on the menu: a brisket burger made from dry-aged ground brisket; five different styles of hot dogs; hand-cut fries that can be ordered regular, well-done or limp; beer and wine; and frozen custard desserts made with sugar cane. One especially unique item to watch for, Chad notes, is the Breakfast All Day Burger, with hickory bacon drizzled with maple syrup, a fried egg and hashbrowns.
The BurgerFi website is splashed with phrases like "locally grown" and "farm to tray." Since it's a national brand, I'm interested to see whether they'll serve food that's actually local to us (Remember Local Burger? All their various meats came from named farms within a few hours drive.) or "local" to some other place. One last notable I spotted on their menu: bottles of Mexican Coke.
Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on Twitter @saramarieshep. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.
It’s preschool enrollment time. If you’re like me, you probably found this out because some other mom casually mentioned it in conversation and you played it off like you totally knew all along.
Sike. I did NOT know this until almost too late and also, since when do kids start preschool at age three? They need two years of kindergarten prep? Just how intense IS kindergarten these days? That’s okay. It doesn't matter because we're doing it anyway. HJ is need of some regular socialization and needs someone other than me and her dad telling her what to do. Plus, I can’t be the mom with the crazy, bouncing-off-the-walls kid who didn’t go to preschool. We've already established that she'll still be in diapers by then (Just kidding. Potty training is a requirement of attending preschool. God help us).
Back to my first observation: Why is it important to enroll your kid in preschool in February/March when they don't start till the fall? Because waiting lists, people. Yeah. This is crazy. Classes can fill up before enrollment is even open to the general public. How’s that for nerve-racking and panic-inducing? Thankfully, this is Lawrence. I've heard that big city preschools get waiting lists for YEARS before a child can attend. As in, moms find out they're pregnant and put the fetus on the waiting list. I cannot even pretend to be that on the ball.
Before I started paying attention to how this all worked, I simply thought preschool is preschool. They learn shapes, colors, the alphabet, numbers and how to make friends who don’t eat glue. We’d simply pick the one closest to our house and be done with it.
WRONG. Guys, there’s about a billion factors in this process: Do we want full-time or part-time? Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays or Tuesday/Thursdays? Mornings or afternoons? Do we want it to cost around $150 a month or almost a full mortgage payment? And then there’s the style. Oh. Dear. God. The. Styles. Is our kid better suited for an arts-based preschool? A Montessori program? A high level of parent involvement co-op? Then there’s faith-based, highly-structured, daycare-housed, or in-home preschool. And once you figure all that out, you have to figure out the pick-up/drop-off routine and determine whether or not it will work while toting around your chubby one-year-old.
I was overwhelmed. Every time I tried to talk to my husband about it, he shrugged it off like, “It’s just preschool.” Whatever. Husbands are no help in my house.
So I narrowed down our “wants” and scheduled tours of three highly recommended (by friends on Facebook, of course) places in town. I was sure that after touring them I would be able to easily make a decision.
Nope. Not even close. The decision was now even more difficult. I loved all three. Like, wanted to hug the directors and be BFFs loved all three. What made it worse was that I had only a matter of days to make a decision. One of the schools was filling up quickly and already had a huge wait list for one of the classes.
What does one do in that situation? You throw your arms up, say “It’s just preschool,” and pick the one closest to your house.
How did you decide where your kid went to preschool (and am I the only one who thought it was incredibly overwhelming)?
When HJ was brand new, we got offer after offer from our family to take her off our hands for the night so we could have a date night. I was new to leaky boobs, new to SIDS anxiety and so new to all things in the realm of mom that I was positively sure that these people were high to think I’d let my new baby out of my sight for that long.
What if she got sick? What if she missed me? What if she wouldn’t take a bottle? There were too many what ifs and too many chances for her to think I abandoned her for me to even consider the idea for almost her entire first year.
Ha! Now that I’m a mom of two and am almost three years into this gig, I was counting down the days until I handed them off to Grandma and Grandpa for the ENTIRE weekend this past Friday. No, it’s not because I love them less. It’s not because I regret becoming a mother. And no, it’s not because I want to give them away.
It’s because I need to sometimes.
As a parent, so much of my day is dedicated to teaching, redirecting, caring for, and tending to these tiny people that I often neglect everything and everyone else...myself and husband included. Sometimes Mommy (and Daddy) just need a timeout. I need to recharge, regroup and remember who Megan is...and let’s be honest: I need to shave my legs before it looks like I have new ginger-colored fur boots.
Sorry for that visual.
In all honesty though, I’m a better mom when I can send my kids somewhere else every once in a while. Sometimes I need the chance to miss them and wish I could kiss the chubby folds of B’s neck. I need to turn off Disney’s Frozen soundtrack long enough to want to again sing “Let it Go” complete with an interpretive dance. I need time to be just me. Not me as the resident butt-wiper. Not me as the hair-brusher. Not me as the drink-fetcher. Just me.
And then, when they come back, I have recharged patience, a full night’s rest and I can again see them through the eyes of a parent who remembers just how blessed she is. It makes me again appreciate the chaos of our lives.
So thank you to our parents and babysitters for letting us escape from our children from time to time...even on days I just need to shave my legs.
Aaron, especially thanks you for those days.
Merchants Pub & Plate will highlight its less-glutenous side (recall, this is a gastropub that hangs its hat on having 30 craft beers on tap) next week by offering a special gluten-free wine dinner.
“Inherently we’re a beer place, but we do offer within our menu several conveniences for people with dietary restrictions,” chef/owner TK Peterson said. “We’re taking it one step further by kind of dedicating a night to those people.”
The dinner is at 7 p.m. March 6. Cost is $70 per person. Reserve a seat by calling the restaurant at 843-4111. The planned menu includes appetizers, three dinner courses and dessert (sticky toffee pudding cake, FYI) paired with Chilean wines from Emiliana Organic Vineyards.
Merchants’ regular menu notes items that are gluten-free or modifiable to be, which Peterson said helps diners feel more comfortable ordering them without having to ask for special favors or feeling like they’re disrupting the whole table.
“They don’t want to be the people that show up and say, ‘I can't do this and I can’t do that,’” Peterson said.
Other upcoming drinking/dining events:
Thursday: Tuscan wine tasting, 6 p.m. at Genovese, featuring a five-course menu paired with selections from Brancaia Winery. Cost is $59 per person. Call 842-0300 to reserve a seat.
March 8: Kansas Craft Brewers Exposition at Abe & Jake’s Landing. Tickets are long sold out, but if you nabbed some, don’t forget to go!
March 11: Rogue beer dinner, 7 p.m. at Mariscos. Oregon-based Rogue Ales is known for some off-the-wall brews, even for craft beer. The planned menu for this dinner includes duck-fat-seared scallops paired with Morimoto Soba Ale, roasted carrot and almond soup with Hazelnut Brown Nectar, steak and ale samosas with Brutal IPA and cherry and stout upside-down cake with Double Chocolate Stout. Cost is $65 per person; to reserve a seat call 312-9057.
Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at email@example.com or contact me on Twitter @saramarieshep. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.
It’s no joke that your life gets flipped-turned upside down once kids enter the picture. Not only do you shift your level of what is considered gross, but several other aspects of your everyday adjust as well. Don’t have kids yet? Take this list and tuck it somewhere for later. Have a kid or two or five (you crazy Duggar, you), let's scare the bejesus out of the kid-free people.
1. The hours between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. are sacred. This is known as “After Bedtime.” It’s also the time of day when my husband and I will cram as much of our adult lives into this incredibly small window before we must go to sleep. We watch what we want, we eat what we want, and we recuperate from the day.
2. Unless it stinks or is visibly stained, it’s clean. Having a kid automatically increases the amount of laundry at your home by 100 percent. Thus, we learn to wear things a little longer. I will visibly cringe (and sometimes curse) when I spill something on myself because dammit, I'm gonna have to wash that.
3. The good candy must be eaten silently and while hidden. That is, unless you're prepared to share bites until it is gone, put away or cleaned up. In fact, this goes for all food that you’re eating. It doesn’t matter if it’s something your kid doesn't even like. They like it the minute you have it and they don’t.
4. Dinner shall be eaten before 6 p.m. Kids go to bed early. If you want to have time to eat, clean up, bathe them, put them in pajamas and avoid meltdowns, you HAVE to start early. And now we're ruined by this. When our friends without kids plan a social dinner after 7 p.m., we panic a little bit. BUT WE WILL BE STARVING BY THEN! Who eats that late? (See, we're ridiculous.)
5. Finding the mate to shoes and socks is a daily athletic event. I don't know what happens or why, but children seem to be experts at losing one of their shoes or one of their socks. Without fail, we are looking under the couch, digging through the toy box or searching the car for someone’s footwear before we leave the house. Every. Single. Day.
6. Poop is a regular topic of conversation. And you won't even be talking about your own. You will talk about your kid's poop without even flinching or realizing that it’s not acceptable dinner conversation when out with friends. You'll tell your husband about it, your mother, and whoever brings up anything remotely related. (Wait. Maybe this is just me?)
7. Businesses with drive-thrus are your new favorite. Pharmacy drive-thrus, liquor store drive-thrus, coffee shop drive-thrus and every other kind will make you so gleefully happy. You will wish that other establishments put one in. Sometimes just the mere thought of loading up your kids, taking them out, putting their coats on, carting them to the back of the store, grabbing one gallon of milk and then repeating the whole process to get home is utterly exhausting.
8. Most meals will be eaten one-handed and/or as quickly as possible. The minute you sit your toddler down for a meal, it’s like setting a timer. They eat quickly, if at all, and will need something or be ready to get down and destroy something in a matter of minutes. It’s especially bad at potluck type dinner events. You usually can’t balance two plates and keep them in line so therefore, you make them a plate and just give up on the thought of eating yourself. The leftover “yucky” stuff from your kid’s plate will hold you over until bedtime.
9. Your phone will be loaded with adorable photos you forgot you took. You will take a photo of every adorable thing they do and then you’ll so quickly move on to the next thing or place or part of your day that you’ll usually completely forget about that photo until you use up the memory on your phone or go to get a new one.
10. You will never complete a task without being interrupted every five minutes. Have a Pinterest project you want to try? Don’t even start it until the kids are in bed AND ASLEEP. You will not get through five minutes without someone needing a diaper change, a drink, help with a toy, or someone is screaming because they were pushed/hit/slapped. The same goes for cleaning your house. You might as well just accept that you'll live in filth until they go to school (Moms, please tell me it gets better then?).
For you veterans out there, did I miss any “rules”?
You can’t get the Roost's full breakfast for dinner, but now you can get the restaurant’s signature breakfast-y cocktails, beers, baked treats, coffee drinks and a handful of bar snacks into the evening hours one night a week.
The Roost, the breakfast/lunch spot that opened last summer at 920 Massachusetts St., is now open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays. The restaurant stops serving its regular food menu at 3 p.m. (when it normally closes for the day), gets all kinds of laid-back (no lines for tables, no loud crazy bar scene) and starts serving a limited menu with featured drinks and small plates that change from week to week.
Tonight’s drinks, for example: The Amore Latte (latte with vanilla-infused vodka, chocolate sauce, strawberry syrup and a heart-shaped shortbread cookie), Boulevard Chocolate Ale, Free State Burroughser Weisse, Boulevard Rye on Rye. And snacks: Meatballs, kale chips, roasted nuts, soft pretzel sticks with beer-cheese dip. The Roost’s usual cocktail concoctions, bloody marys, coffees, juices and sweet treats are always available, too. (Pictured: Today's pretzels with a glass of cucumber-apple-pineapple-kale juice — yours truly was still on the clock.)
Staying open late on Thursdays is a way to participate in a downtown tradition and highlight, in particular, some of the restaurant’s creative adult beverages, co-owner Kenny Pingleton said. “Thursday nights are kind of traditionally a downtown night. It gives us a chance to do our bartender thing.”
I’m just going to get straight to it: HJ broke our 50 inch television this week. *Cue ugly cry face (me, not her). It came out of nowhere. While her favorite show was playing, she just walked up to it and launched a wooden ball directly at the screen.
That’s it. No words. No screaming fit. She just threw it and the screen went black. I honestly think she just wanted to see what would happen.
So it would be an understatement to say that it was a frustrating day. Aside from the fact that you cannot repair plasma TV screens, that our homeowner’s insurance does not cover toddler exploration mishaps, or that the last major entertainment purchase that my husband and I made before kids was now dead, the toddler wars are wearing us out, mentally, physically, and now financially.
Whenever I talk about the stress of being a parent online or even in person, I get a lot of “These are the BEST years!”, “They grow up so fast, appreciate this time!”, and “Raising kids is amazing!” While I agree with these sentiments, I’m sorry, but I do not feel this way every day.
Am I allowed to say that?
While I love my children with every inch of my being, I do not love being a mom every day. There, I said it.
I am incredibly blessed to have these little people and most days I DO love being a mom, but sometimes I wish I got to have a time out. In fact, there are days when I wish there was a farm I could drop them off at just for a few hours while I go home and take a nap or even bathe alone. Is that awful?
As magical and adorable as these years are, they are HARD. Teaching tiny people how to be big people is a constant and demanding job with no pay and little praise. We, as parents, are responsible for creating new people who need to grow up to be functioning members of society and hopefully not psychopaths some day. It’s kind of one of the most important jobs, right? Future adults who don't suck? Yes, please.
We were at the grocery store yesterday and I saw a dad corralling his two little girls. He was using the same voice I had just used with HJ to get his toddler back into the little car at the front of the cart.
I said to him, “It looks like we're having the same kind of night.” To which he said, “Yeah. I’m a single dad and raising them alone. It’s tough. Especially when it comes to doing their hair.” I couldn't help but laugh and be thankful for his honesty. This guy was a rockstar.
But the best part of that conversation? That we could talk about and freely admit that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. I think parents need to be able to do that. They need to be able to reach out to each other and say, “Hey, this sucks today.” And they need to be able to do so without judgement or having someone say something to the effect of “Enjoy this sucktacular day! They're going to grow up and be even worse!”
Just no. Stop saying that, people. I promise we're not about to put up our children on Craigslist. We're just having an off day (like I’m sure you had a time or two whether or not you’ll admit it) and we just need a hug... or wine. Actually, wine is better.
Really though, we just need to be able to reach out when this incredibly important and demanding job just sucks. It doesn't make us bad parents. It makes us human.
And to that dad at the grocery store yesterday, your girls’ hair looked fantastic.
I knew what I was getting into when we decided to have kids. I knew that babies spit up, drool, go through an enormous amount of putrid smelling diapers, and that they tend to be pretty messy in general. Those are the things in which I was prepared to handle.
What I wasn't prepared for though was how much I’d let my own personal views on what’s disgusting evolve. I don't know if it’s the lack of sleep, the enormous amount of love I have for my kids, or if I left part of my brain back at the hospital when I gave birth, but now that I’m a mom, I can be pretty gross. I now don't even flinch when it comes to bodily fluids and the like. It can take two to three spit-up episodes on my shirt before I'll actually go and change. If we're out in public and my kid has something hanging out of her nose, I'll probably just pull it off with my bare hands and wipe it on my own pants. Those of you without kids are probably dry heaving right now. My apologies, but it gets worse. So much worse.
These acts of disgustingness are just the tip of the iceberg. With baby number two, I moved on to a whole new level of ew. I think it just proves that parents will put aside ANY of their own discomfort for the sake of their kids’ well being. At least, that’s what I’m going with.
Seriously though, this is what I mean:
- The NoseFrida: Both of my girls hated the blue bulb snot sucker that they sent us home with from the hospital. In fact, we named it “The Blue Ball of Death” because they’d scream as if they were dying in excruciating pain every time we used it. So when my girlfriend showed me her NoseFrida, it was as if the heavens opened up. Sure, it’s kind of gross to suck snot out of your baby’s nose with your mouth, but look! She’s not screaming! Watch B and her NoseFrida here: http://youtu.be/u6kxl_71d0s
- Eating your placenta: OK, so I didn't actually do this. I was afraid my husband would have me committed, but I find it so intriguing that if I had his blessing, I may have done it. Of course, I'd have gone the whole putting it into pill form route. Actually chew-- ugh. I can't even type that. Gross. BUT, some say ingesting your own placenta has many benefits such as lessening the chances of postpartum depression, increasing breast milk supply and is full of vitamins and nutrients. Dr. Google has tons of info. Just ask him.
- Sharing breast milk: Milksharing is becoming increasingly common between moms with low supply issues, adoptive parents, and for babies who are ill. From what I've heard, there’s some stipulations to follow, some paperwork, but the gist is that moms with an oversupply of breast milk give it to other parents to feed their babies. I was lucky and never had any major supply issues, but if I had, I'd totally have looked into this. Several people I've told about it look at me like I have two heads. To be honest, I think it’s funny that some people don't think it’s gross to drink milk from an animal, but yet would scoff at the idea of drinking milk from another human. Think about it: We'll drink milk from an animal that we've never even seen but think it's gross to drink milk from a person whom we know and know that she's hygienic and such. It's not rational... to me, anyways. That being said, I still drink cow's milk.
What kinds of gross things have you found yourself doing or changing your mind about after having kids?
Imagine William S. Burroughs as a beer. Free State Brewing Co. did, and the result is “Burroughser Weisse.”
Tributes to Burroughs — the beat generation icon who lived his final years in Lawrence — are planned nationwide this year, the 100th anniversary of his birth. Here in Lawrence, Free State is even commemorating him with a special beer. Head of downtown brewing Geoff Deman shared these tasting notes with us today:
Burroughser Weisse takes an already esoteric beer style and turns it on its head. Based on the Berliner Weisse style known for a sour, tart finish that drinkers have historically tempered with the addition of Raspberry or Woodruff syrup, Burroughser Weisse amps up the tartness a bit with a bold addition of Hibiscus Flowers to the kettle, resulting in a bright fuchsia color in this crisp and refreshing ale.
Burroughser Weisse will be released Feb. 5, Burroughs’ birthday. It will be on draft at Free State Brewery and “select Lawrence locations” while supplies last.
According to Free State, James Grauerholz, longtime friend and Burroughs Estate executor, suggested the Berliner Weisse style after having enjoyed it with Burroughs in the city of its namesake. Deman said the beer involved production methods and practices brewers donʼt normally apply. “Burroughs employed the cut-up technique in many of his writings,” Deman said. “Burroughser Weisse can be seen as the brewing equivalent, with processes out of their typical order, coming together to make something unique and special.”
ICYMI: Burroughs fans, check out Journal-World features reporter Nadia Imafidon’s recent A&E cover story, “Writer, iconoclast, 'creative observer': Celebrating 100 years of William S. Burroughs.”
Remember that post I wrote a few weeks back in which I polled people on the most annoying things parents post on Facebook? One of responses was potty-training posts.
Well guess what?
I am one of those people. You know why? Because potty learning (that is the now the preferred term, I've been told) is equal parts hilarious and frustrating as all hell. Reaching out to a support system (a.k.a. Facebook) is sometimes the only way to retain your sanity.
HJ will be three years old in May and she is determined to wear diapers for the rest of her life. However, since it’s frowned upon to send a kindergartener to school in Huggies, we decided to start taking this whole process a lot more seriously lately. We've been gently encouraging toilet use for the past year. It went well the first two weeks and then crashed and burned since. We've desperately been searching for ideas that would work. So far, here’s what we've tried:
Buy her really pretty or really special underwear and she won't mess in them: I bought her Bubble Guppies and Minnie Mouse undies. I talked them up, got super excited with her about wearing them, and made a grand production about the fact that she was wearing “Super Special Big Girl Panties.” Aaaaand she peed in them five minutes later. She was completely unfazed by the wet undies and I didn't realize it until I stepped in the puddle in her bedroom.
Start a sticker chart: I got a piece of cardstock out, drew her name in some block letters that I mastered in my dance squad days, and excitedly explained that she'd get to put a new sticker on her name every time she used the potty. Well, that was cool for a day. The stickers lost their luster when she realized that they couldn't be removed from the cardstock.
Stage a lockdown: I got this idea from Pinterest. It claimed “Potty Train your Child in just ONE day!” I should know better. Pinterest is full of lies. This one said to lock yourself in your house for a day or two, put the kid in underwear, wear an apron full of candy, and set a timer for every 30 minutes. You're supposed to have the kid try to go when the timer goes off and reward them with candy. These constant visits to the potty gave HJ a complex and she refused to use the potty for weeks afterward. She was beyond over it. Thanks a lot, lying Pinterest mom.
Tell her the potty is hungry and thirsty. She didn't care.
So that brings us to our current strategy:
- Bribery: Yes. I know this is the frowned upon solution, but a combination of taking away all electronics and giving them back after potty trips with a piece of candy has shown a 50 percent success rate. The times it does not work are when HJ decides she just wants a piece of candy and yet does not need to use the potty. Instead, she has a meltdown.
Now, I'll need to finish this blog because HJ just peed on the fireplace brick ledge and the girls are playing in the puddle.
Please send wine.
Technically, these are the Terrible Two-and-a-halfs. We got a six-month grace period before the hurricane hit our house. And thank the sweet Baby Jesus for that.
The twos are no joke. My once always sweet little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl has the ability to mimic Linda Blair in The Exorcist at the drop of a sippy cup. The meltdowns come from every angle.
She will melt down if I ask her to put on her shoes before we leave the house. She will launch into a fit if there is juice and not milk in her cup. She will freak if her sister touches a certain toy. She will howl if I can’t find the song she wants to hear at that exact moment in time on the radio. And other times, these exact things won’t bother her in the least.
The mature, level-headed me knows that this is all a product of the fact that HJ’s frontal lobe isn’t fully developed and she doesn't yet know how to react rationally... yadda yadda, blah blah blah. The other part of me watches as she hurls her body to the floor in a fit of rage and wonders why God sent a tiny terrorist to my house two and a half years ago.
Seriously, who IS this child? And why is she kind of a jerk?
As quickly as it comes on, the storm will pass and she'll climb up into my lap and snuggle. My head is spinning and I'm learning patience from places in my soul I did not know existed. Holy crap.
This must be what my husband felt like when I was pregnant. The mood swings, the fits of rage, and the passion behind simply telling her it’s time to put on some pants can bring you to drinking at 10 a.m. It’s rough.
For instance, last night we made our bi-weekly trek to the local home improvement store (we're renovating our kitchen/dining room). HJ was attempting to scale boxes of tile, piles of carpet and (the straw that broke the camel’s back) shelves of GLASS light fixtures. She was banished to the cart with B. You can imagine the howls that lasted for three aisles. The horrific sounds that my husband and I were desperately trying to shush summoned an employee over to make sure no one was dying. Obviously a dad or grandpa himself, he pulled a piece of candy from his pocket and it was as if the skies opened up and rained hearts and flowers in the neon lighting section. HJ went back to her adorably precious, smiley self. Bless that man.
It’s mind numbingly frustrating. Sometimes the tantrums come on so quickly and seemingly unprovoked that I will just sit back and watch in awe. The girl is nothing short of dedicated to her current emotional state. It’s kind of impressive at times. I wish I had the ability to feel that passionately about anything, let alone the amount of chocolate syrup in my milk.
I was lamenting over this recently with a friend who had gone through the same types of things with her now preschooler. She laughed with me and gave me encouragement that I wasn't scarring her for life in any way. Then she said, “I have to tell you though, this is nothin’. Just wait till she turns three.”
Friends are mean.
I have often been asked the same few questions since I gave birth to HJ: Are you experiencing prolonged sadness? Are you having unsafe thoughts? Do you feel sad more than you are happy?
As an educated person and as someone who read my copy of “What to Expect when You’re Expecting”, I knew these health professionals were making sure I wasn’t experiencing Postpartum Depression. I wasn’t depressed. So, I answered the questions by mostly shrugging them off and said “Nope. I’m good.” Every time.
I didn’t even give any thought to it. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t having thoughts of doing unspeakable things to my precious babies. I figured that whole thing must have just passed me over. I wasn’t depressed.
Fast forward to just three months ago. I was sitting with two of my girlfriends chatting away while our kids played around us. Fueled by the sleep deprivation brought on by B, the baby dictator, and the constant stress of parenting two small children who always seem to find every sharp object and expensive item in the house, I was being honest. Like the super kind of honest that can only come about when you just can’t possibly give another eff.
I said, “I wished I could always feel the way I feel after two drinks. Not drunk, not even buzzed, but just able to relax.”
The truth was, I couldn’t relax. Ever.
My girlfriends, recognizing that something was off, pressed me further and asked me to elaborate. So I went on. I told them about how I was constantly worried about the judgement of others over my parenting choices. I told them how I seem to always have to jump out of bed every night to check the locks for a second or third time. I told them about how my mind never stopped going over all of the things I was doing wrong as a parent. I told them about how I white knuckle the steering wheel every time I drive the kids to see their grandparents in Kansas City or Topeka because I am sure that we’ll blow a tire, hit a deer, or crash in some fiery head-on collision. I even told them about how I was still having vivid images of what could have happened to HJ had she fallen from our top story balcony on our vacation that was over a year ago. A YEAR AGO.
As good friends do, they gently told me that it sounded like I was experiencing some high anxiety which was also a common postpartum symptom. My friend even confided in me that she’d experienced the same type of symptoms and her doctor prescribed her an antidepressant to help her cope.
Wait. What? I had no idea. I thought depression was the only symptom women got with hormone fluctuations after having babies. I mean, it’s called “Postpartum Depression”.
Apparently, there are technically a variety of symptoms that women can experience after birth. I've been told they're referred to as Perinatal Mood Disorders.
At my doctor’s appointment, I was so ridiculously excited to realize that I wasn't just the resident party pooper at my house. My hormones were just outta wack. He helped me find a combination of medication, exercise and support to calm my high-strung self down.
In other words, I took a chill pill (literally.)
No longer do I jump out of my skin when someone drops a bucket of blocks on the tile floor. I can finally go to sleep at night without stressing over the millions of things I should have done that day. I'm a nicer effing person. And I like other people so much better.
But the best part? I feel like I can finally enjoy this crazy, hectic, non-stop on-the-go time as a mom.
*If you want to find out more, please check out Giles Bruce’s article from a couple weeks ago. It has some great resources and stories from awesome local people.
I have anxiety about taking my kids to the doctor. I’m not talking well child visits. I’m talking about the visits for when they are actually sick. It sounds crazy, right? I mean, what is the doctor for other than making your children better when they’re sick?
Yeah. I get that. But you see, there is a fine line between being a responsible parent and being off-your-rocker crazy. For example, when HJ got her first cold, I, like most first-time parents, marched her right in to the doctor hoping they would prescribe us a magic elixir that would immediately make her well.
Ha. I got smile and a “Yep. She’s got a cold. Give her some Tylenol and she’ll be fine.”
I didn’t need to pay $100 to have someone tell me the obvious. And I really didn’t want to be THAT parent. Everyone knows the one. He or she takes the kid in for every hiccup. They self-diagnose their child and are just SURE Suzie is allergic to everything in the history of ever.
NO. I was not going to be that one. So the next time she got a cold, I waited. And waited. When I finally took her in, it turned out that she’d had a double ear infection for almost a week. Mom of the year, right here. I was sure they’d call Family Protective Services on me for being so neglectful. Obviously, I can be quite dramatic in my head.
In the course of the next two years, I got a little better about knowing when things required a doc’s eye and when to wait it out. Still though, every trip to the office would fill me with anxious energy at the possibility that it was either something catastrophic or non-existent.
However, last week B-maggedon struck our house (i.e. B’s first major illness.) If you remember correctly, B does NOT handle discomfort well. Therefore, my internal struggle began:
She just has a cold. Everyone gets colds. She’s just crabby because she feels bad. It’ll get better. Okay, it’s not getting better. It’s been a week. What if she has a sinus infection? What if she has an ear infection? What if she got that super bug thing? What if they tell me she’s fine and she’s crabby because she’s just kind of a jerk?
I bit the bullet and took her in. After pulling in to the doctor’s office parking lot, leaving to return home because HJ forgot to wear shoes there, and coming back to finally go in to our visit, we confirmed that yes, B had a yucky cold, but also a double ear infection.
Whew. So she’s not just in a jerkish phase. She’s legitimately sick AND I have validation that I’m not crazy. I feel like I should not consider that these things make a successful doctor’s visit, but oddly I kind of do.
I hope you all are having a much healthier start to the new year at your house.
I love the holiday season. I love everything about it. Twinkling lights, Christmas music, cookies, tinsel, egg nog — I literally and figuratively eat it all up.
So OF COURSE I take my children for an annual photo with Santa. Duh. We get dressed up, I talk it up like we’re going to see the Pope, and I have anxiety the entire day hoping and praying that it goes well.
But guys, I gotta be honest here. My dream since having kids isn’t the picturesque, happy baby smiling with Santa photo. No. Everyone and their cousin has one of those. I want this:
Yes, I know. I’m a horrible person. This is my dear friend’s daughter. Every Christmas she delivers an epicly awesome Santa photo. And I ooze jealousy. I look forward to seeing it every year. It always has a good story and brings on a good chuckle. I love this little girl. She’s incredibly smart, sassy, and adorable. What did she do this year? This:
Apparently she hollered at him that she wanted a Barbie from over there. HILARIOUS.
Our Santa visits have been pretty uneventful, meaning picturesque. Hmphf. This was our first year:
The next year, the Santa wouldn’t let us take the photo until HJ was smiling because he was sure that’s what we wanted. Turns out there’s no non-awkward way to tell Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick that a crying photo would actually be pretty darn hysterical.
We went to create some special Santa photo magic this week. While they didn't cry their eyes out, I'm still pretty pleased with our results.
They went with awkward bewilderment. I like it.
Which Santa photo camp are you in? Smiley, screaming bloody murder, or all-around awkward?
Despite what I said about carting around small people during the holidays in my previous post, I do recognize just how good we have it in many ways. These first few Christmases with our still new-ish family are ones that I’m sure I’ll miss and fondly look back on when I’m wearing another set of Spanx and my kids won’t get their noses out of electronic devices.
So I decided to compile a list to remind myself why these years are so awesome:
1. Toys are still cheap. One year all of HJ’s gifts were bought at consignment sales and Craigslist. I wrapped them in diaper boxes. She thought it was awesome. I also thought it was awesome.
2. The elf dazzles as an underachiever. Eloise the elf simply moves location. No hijinks. No messes. No elaborate schemes. Yet, every morning my two-year-old is so excited to find her new location. WIN.
3. Our traditions can evolve without protest. We’re still figuring out what holiday traditions our family would like to do. The beauty is that if we try something that we don’t like, the girls won’t remember it next year. Heck, they won’t even remember it next week.
4. Christmas wish lists are ridiculously easy. People keep asking me for the girls’ lists and I try to come up with something to make it easier on the shopper. But really, B’s list would be: something shiny, a power cord, a box, a stick, a remote controller, and yogurt melts. All of these things make her immensely gleeful.
5. EVERYTHING is magical. Lights, Christmas carols, decorated trees, snowmen, candy canes, Santa and the rest of the seasonal happenings are just amazing to these two. We can drive around for hours looking at Christmas light displays. HJ jumped up and down with joy when she saw the Christmas tree at Dillons yesterday. It’s all so very exciting to them. I am totally drinking in every minute.
The downside to all of this? It’s going to be a very long and uneventful January and February.
What are your favorite things about the holidays with your family this year?
Call me a giant hypocrite. I went out and paid money for the very thing I talked smack on just a few months earlier. I know. I'm shaking my head at myself. I promise that I had two very good reasons for this though.
- I get caught up in all things Christmas and get out of hand.
- HJ has hit the "terrible twos" and I thought the snitch would help.
Here she is:
Obviously, I chose her name. I know technically the kids are supposed to do it, but HJ just isn't quite there yet. I let her practice naming things before the elf arrived and it did not go well. I lined up four Barbies and had her pick a name for each. She chose: Pam (her Mimi's name), Ben, Ben, and Barbie. Yes, two Bens. She names almost everything Ben. We don't even know any Bens. I have no idea where this came from.
Anyways, I can't listen to anymore "Ben" and naming it after her Mimi is just confusing. So Eloise it is. The girls can pick a new name for a "new" elf next year. Pfft.
Right before Eloise made her big debut, thankfully, a seasoned parent on my Facebook feed delivered a word of advice to we Elf on the Shelf newbies: Set the bar low, especially if your children are young.
She said that it gets pretty hard to come up with new hi-jinks for the elf to get into and if you break out all the big guns too early, there'll be a lot of late nights trying to come up with new tricks. (Yes, that's just another way of saying "searching Pinterest for hours").
I'm not gonna lie, whenever anyone's advice consists of aiming low, I'm all OVER it. I've got enough crazy on my plate. Just adding a small dab of the next course is just fine by me.
So that rules out the following Elf on the Shelf ideas:
• Yeahhhhhh, NO. I have enough trouble keeping HJ's artwork on the correct surfaces. Eloise will NOT be showing her how to color on our photos. Granted, maybe we can bust this back out when Sharpies are not considered contraband.
• Seriously? Seriously. Why don't we just go ahead and serve a tray of crackers in the bathroom to go with the new toilet water dip? Because that's what my two-year-old and eight-month-old will do. They'll see those goldfish crackers floating around and think SNACKS!!!! I bet they wouldn't even see the elf.
Sooooo yeah. We are keeping Eloise pretty tame this year. Anyone got any good ideas for our toddler-friendly magic elf/snitch?
Ah. It’s here. The beginning of the craziest time of the year. Without taking a formal poll, I’m just going to assume that the holidays are pretty nuts for almost everyone. Between cooking, driving, flying, cleaning, wrapping, setting up, putting away, decorating, shopping and everything else you’re required to do to be a functioning person, it’s pure madness.
This is especially true if you also are in charge of keeping alive two tiny humans. Kids seem to up the ante. I used to stress about making delicious dishes that would make Martha proud, but now it’s all about survival. Like, what can I not screw up in the event that the children revolt and the world goes to hell that day?
I got to thinking today just how different my holiday planning is from what it was just three years ago. My, my, my.
Planning the food. What used to be decided just a few days before the holiday is now planned out about a month in advance. And I now only volunteer to make items that can be made ahead of time and can be served cold-ish: desserts and breads. I did the shopping for these items a week and a half ago. I’ve experienced too many panicked trips to the grocery store the day before a holiday to just wing it anymore. Plus, having two small children hasn’t made my brain any sharper. (Even after all of this careful planning, how many ingredients have I discovered to have forgotten for Thursday’s festivities? Two.)
Clothing. Remember the days of just dressing yourself in something cute that was clean? Unless I make a preconceived, conscious effort to plan what my kids are going to wear to an event, without fail, they will ALWAYS have nothing but pajamas clean. I started planning and hiding potential outfits in the back of their closets two weeks ago to ensure they’d be clean and ready to wear. They will not put them on until precisely two minutes before we walk out the door.
Altering the nap schedule. We have two places to visit for every major holiday: my family in Kansas City and my husband’s family in Topeka. The distance isn’t bad when we’re just visiting one side for occasional trips, but when you combine the two, it makes for a long day of visiting. Our kiddos still very much need a nap so we have to plan our day so that they can nap in the car. Sometimes this means leaving a little early and driving around like creepy people in random housing developments or parking in a random parking lot and playing on our phones while they sleep.
Synchronizing the meal dance. Once we’re at our destination and the food is served, it’s game on. My husband and I have to strategically plan this out so that we’re able to not only make sure HJ and B eat, but also get something to eat ourselves while simultaneously keeping up conversation with family. This doesn’t sound like a major feat, but imagine that HJ and B are tiny monkeys that are overstimulated by sugar that their aunt snuck them when we weren’t looking. They pull everything off the table, grab at drinks, sharp objects, and drop food all over the just cleaned floor. Head on a swivel...always.
Packing up. Good Lord. Does it not always feel as if you’ve moved into to someone’s house when you bring small children with you? I swear it takes us 30 minutes to pack up our belongings into the car and get out of there. And that’s only if we don’t have to deal with a meltdown when we pry them from the candy dish or toy stash to get out the door. That being said, we ALWAYS leave something behind.
How have you had to change your holiday habits after kids?
“Facebook is the worst thing that has ever happened.”
Those were the words out of my husband’s mouth this week. As much as it pains me to say it, he’s got a point. Facebook is the devil. It has given a megaphone to people who seem to have been born without a filter. I’m not necessarily talking about a cursing and dirty topics filter (although there are some that do need that), I’m talking about the normal social interaction filter that would usually keep people from talking about topics that other people don’t care about.
Think about it. Would you walk up to 90 of your friends in a room, hold up a photo of last night’s dinner, and then proceed to tell them all about it?
Exactly. But every evening, there it is on my friggin’ news feed.
You know who’s the worst on it? We are. Parents are some of the most complained about posters on Facebook. There’s even a website devoted to calling them out.
It’s hard though, right? Our children are the most adorable humans ever created. They are our favorite people in the world and therefore everything they do is amazing. Therefore, we SHARE IT ALL. Too much, in fact.
I surveyed some of my child-free friends as well as fellow parents to find out just which Facebook posts from parents are the most annoying to others. These are the winners:
• Potty training updates: No. Just no. The only people who care about whether or not little Suzy went poo poo or pee pee in the potty are you, her father, and maybe Grandma. Everyone else is pretty content missing out on those nuggets of info. Also, it is NEVER okay to post a picture of these events to Facebook. You would think this is something that wouldn’t need to be said. Again, Facebook removes filters.
• Naked photos after age 1: I’m with ya. I think there is nothing cuter in this world than a naked baby/toddler tush. In fact, almost every night I depants HJ and let her run a lap around the house just so I can giggle at her tiny baby butt. However, that’s where the buck stops. There are too many pervs online and future teenagers will have enough issues on their own without having to hate their parents for also posting naked photos of them online. Naked photos before age 1 though, all bets are off. Those little butter balls are still “baby cute” and rolls need to be seen.
Am I right?
• Monthly belly/baby updates: Recording monthly changes in your pregnancy and milestones in baby’s first year are important. They are wonderful memories and totally awesome… to you. Your basketball-sized belly is adorably huge. And little Joe looks precious in that onesie with a sticker declaring his age in months, but we ALL don’t need a new photo every month. You know what we would probably enjoy? A montage of all of these photos as one image at the end of the year/pregnancy so we can see the progression in one image. That would be fun for all.
• Pushy agendas: Cloth diapers are best! Vaccines are poison! This is why you shouldn’t feed your kids corn syrup! Seen any of these kinds of posts lately? Yeeeeeah. This kind of goes back to last week’s post about fueling the Mommy Wars. Facebook is a breeding ground for mommy battles and so many parents use the social network to continuously broadcast their reasons for their latest parenting choice. I’m totally guilty of this one. I get a little click-happy when I read an article or blog post that makes me say “Hell YES,” and then I share the bejesus out of it. I’m a pusher. Nobody likes a pusher, right Cady Heron?
• An update about everything, every minute: This was the number one answer across the board. Facebook baby/kid saturation was the biggest gripe from parents and non-parents alike. Yes, your kid is cute. Yes, your kid is hilarious. But we don’t need a play-by-play of Sammy’s life. Posting several photos a day, constantly updating the world on every cough, and announcing tonight’s bedtime story is just... stop. Stop right now. You’re done.
What Facebook parent updates drive you crazy?
I’m tapping out. I’m crying “Uncle”. I’m forfeiting. I am done and over the Mommy Wars. It seems a new battle breaks out over a new topic each day. And I’m throwing in the towel.
I got sucked in early as I read my pro-breastfeeding books and made my own pre-baby parenting decisions in the weeks leading up to HJ’s birth. Before I was pregnant, I was ignorant to the battles and nastiness between moms online, in person, and even the silent judgments passed back and forth. I just thought everyone was a part of this “Mom Club” and everyone was helpful and taught each other all the Mom tricks and Mom songs. I was sure it was rainbows and sunshine as they all adored each others’ offspring and shared cookies at playgroups.
And then I joined my birth month club on the expectant moms website. Wowza. The first battles I saw duked out were over inductions, VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean), and elective cesareans. It got vicious. The women were downright nasty to each other. I had my own opinions, of course, but I had no idea that people felt so strongly about certain topics that they’d be that mean to perfect strangers.
I saw the battles continue over blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, at playdates and so on. The eight most common “fights” I see are:
breastfeeding vs. formula
feeding kids organic vs. processed food
nursing in public vs. private
vaccinating vs. not vaccinating your children
working moms vs. stay-at-home moms
attachment parenting techniques vs. self-soothing techniques
cloth vs. disposable diapers
hospital vs. home births
There seems to be a battle over nearly every aspect of childrearing, which is crazy. People get incredibly riled up about each one of these topics too. Bringing them up is almost up there with discussing religion and politics in some circles: It just shouldn't happen.
I remember falling into this cycle just three months following HJ’s birth. I felt the judgments rising up in my head over another mom’s choice to not breastfeed. I spewed my negative comments to my husband behind closed doors, but I was still no better than the people who said them online or to another parent’s face. It was unnecessary and was none of my business. I needed a slap upside the head.
But there’s something that gets rooted in us when we become a parent. We want so badly to be the best parent we can possibly be to our children that when we make a finite decision on their upbringing, we feel the need to justify it...even if it’s only to ourselves. When someone puts down our way of parenting or a decision that we made, it’s personal. We feel personally attacked. And that need to strike back or explain why our way is the better way to go can be so overwhelming that we get pulled into the battle too.
It’s what fuels the Mommy Wars.
But isn’t it funny that the underlying cause of it all is the same? We all want to be the BEST parent that our kids can possibly have, a parent who makes all the best decisions and fights for their ability to do so.
So that’s what I’m going to do my best to remember the next time I find myself in the battle.
Everyone is doing what they know (or think) to be the best. And that makes them a pretty damn awesome parent.