Speaking Of…Food

food collage

Usually I would kick off the weekend with a food post, but my camera needed a part, so it is out of commission for the next week. I used my phone to take a couple pictures, but nothing looks edible on that thing. So instead of posting a recipe of my own, here’s a round-up of the best recipes I’ve found on the interwebs this week. Happy cooking!

1. A Bee Sting Cake would make the perfect Easter desert. (Joe Pastry)

2. I never say no to chocolate, and these chocolate ricotta mousse cups are no exception. (The Forest Feast)

3. My girls love pasta and meatballs. Maybe I can trick them into trying this elegant version. (The Roaming Kitchen)

4. This Seared Ahi Tuna with Chimichurri, Arugula, and Avocado would make the perfect Spring lunch. (Kitchen Confidante)

5. Lots of parents assure me that smoothies are a great way to sneak veggies into your kids. I’m willing to try it. (Super Healthy Kids)

6. This Lemon Cream and Blueberry Tart is an oldie but goodie from one of my favorite Washington, D.C. blogs. (Sweetsonian)

7. If you’re bored with quiche, try this baked eggs with spinach and mushroom dish for Mother’s Day brunch. (Smitten Kitchen)

8. Oh, hello there, Grapefruit Pound Cake. Get in mah belly. (For the Love of the South)

 

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My Running Playlist Says It All

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The last week has been…well, it’s been shit. Pink eye, double ear infections, both kids. And then I caught a stomach virus, lost my voice, and now possibly have strep. Good times.

The timing of it all was pretty terrible, due to work obligations and the 5k this weekend. I haven’t run since last Thursday, and I probably won’t until the race on Saturday. Hey, it’s only three miles! I can do that, even with a week off. I will go so slowly that the walkers will pass me, but I will cross the finish line.

Yesterday I was putting together a new playlist for the race, and I ended up listening to my first playlist, from a year ago. It was all Alanis Morrissette, angry Pink, a few from Kelly Clarkson. Clearly I was not in a good place.

Then there was another playlist, from about three months ago. Some more Pink, although not quite as angry, Kelly Clarkson’s Since You Been Gone, Katy Perry’s Roar, Alicia Keys Girl on Fire. I was moving forward.

And now? Here it is:

Alicia Keys/Jay Z–New York
Pitbull/Christina Aguilera–Feel This Moment
Beyoncé–Lights Out
Fun.–Carry On
Joan Jett–Crimson and Clover (by far the best version)
Lustra–Scotty Doesn’t Know
The Script–Hall of Fame
OneRepublic–Counting Stars
I look at that list and I just see songs that I like. Not songs that are necessarily about lost love or hard times. Just music that makes me happy. I don’t want you to think I go skipping down the street spreading flower petals everywhere, because that’s not the case. Sometimes I’m still mad as hell and sad, too. But I’ve come a long way from Alanis territory.

Running is good for the soul. The evolution of my playlist proves it.

 

 

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My Parenting Philosophy

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“Mom, can I run?” Lily asks.

I look across the plaza. It’s not far from here, where we stand, to where we are going. I would catch up with her in no time, even with the stroller slowing me down, and she would never be out of sight. But the plaza is made completely of cobblestone, and I shudder slightly as I think of her racing across it.

She’s had a lot of bumps and bruises, this child of mine.

There was the time she scraped her knee on the gravel path as we hiked along the Potomac River.

There was the time she split her lip at the nursery where we were choosing rose bushes.

There was the time her heel got caught on a cobblestone and she spilled coffee all over her pants. (Oh, wait. That was me.)

There was the time she tripped on a curb, not once but twice, during the one-block walk from the Metro to our house, bruising both elbows.

The cobblestones might as well be shark-infested waters.

I know she’s going to fall. Maybe today, maybe not. I know there will be blood and tears. I feel slightly sick as I think about it, but I smile down at her sweet, hopeful face.

“Go run,” I say.

She takes off, her purple coat held tightly to her body.

“Lily!” I shriek behind her. “Hands out of your pockets!”

I mean, cheese and rice, kid. At least protect your face.

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Living in Small Spaces: Thrive Tip #6

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Thrive Tip #6: Let there be light.

When people think of small spaces, they often automatically think of dark, as if “small” and “dark” inevitably go together. And too often, they do go together, but I don’t think it has to be inevitable.

The amount of light can greatly affect both the mood of a room and the mood of the person in the room. I prefer natural sunlight (doesn’t everybody?) and am so, so grateful that my tiny condo has lots of large windows. Every room (yes, all three of them, four if you count the bathroom) has a window, in fact.

But basement apartments are common in D.C., and they don’t have large windows, and sometimes don’t have windows at all. One thing I have noticed is that most small apartments don’t have adequate light fixtures to compensate for the lack of sunlight. This is even true of my space. The ceiling lights are ridiculously small and don’t provide sufficient light on cloudy days or evenings after the sun goes down. I absolutely notice the difference in the atmosphere of the room and I get tired and grouchy. So now I am searching for options that work–a new ceiling fixture, perhaps, or a lamp.

Just because the space is small does not mean one light bulb will get the job done! Make sure the space has plenty of light, no matter what size.

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Q&A Monday Vol. XVII: On Doing It All

QandAHi Lynn, My husband and I separated six months ago. We have joint custody, and the girls are with their dad every other week end. This means every other weekend, I’m free. I can do the grocery shopping, I can exercise, I can go out with friends. I can, but I don’t. I can’t seem to find the motivation to do anything except mope around and eat cookies. And then I read your blog, and you run! You work full time, and you don’t have any weekends without the kids! And you somehow find time to blog, too! So my question is HOW DO YOU DO IT ALL?

Whoa. I do NOT do it all.

Since that is not at all a helpful answer, I’ll do my best to put together a better response.

First, remember that I have been separated for 18 months, and those 18 months followed four or five months of absolute hell while I waited for my husband to make a goddamn decision, already. Six months after shit hit the fan, I was not running, blogging, or really doing anything except trying to function on a very basic level. So hey! You are WAY AHEAD of where I was, if you are even contemplating the remote possibility of one day getting off the couch.

Second, since I have received numerous emails regarding time management, I will let you in on two secrets. One, my job allows me three hours a week of exercise, on the clock. This means I have a built-in babysitter (daycare) and a set time for getting exercise into my day, three days a week. So that’s how I find time to run. I am lucky; there are plenty of people who don’t have this option, and for them, finding time to exercise is almost impossible.

The second secret? You probably aren’t going to like it. I don’t have a TV. Don’t get me wrong, I like TV. But I can’t afford cable right now, so nope. But a surprising thing happened when I decided not to take the TV with us. I realized I had about two hours of free time after the kids go to bed, every single night. Once I clean the kitchen and straighten up a little bit, that still leaves 90 minutes. Usually. Sometimes the kids don’t go to bed as easily as I would like, or sometimes the baby refuses to sleep at all unless I am in bed with her. Then I have no time at all. But, yes, usually…I have 90 minutes that once was sucked into a vortex of television.

You can do a lot with 90 minutes.

But back to you. Please don’t pressure yourself to get in amazing shape and clean the house top to bottom on these free weekends. You are still grieving. I do think you should try to get out of the house, maybe meet some girlfriends for lunch or a nice walk. Read a good book, outside at a park or over a glass of white wine. It will help clear the fog from your head.

Take the time you need to just be. See how you feel in another month or two.

 

Got a question? Email me at  lynn@dontblamethekids.com!

 

 

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What I Learned from Volunteering at the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

This past weekend I volunteered at the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run. It was the first time I volunteered for a race, and it was so much fun! Totally worth getting up at 5 am. Bonus: I get a guaranteed spot in next year’s race. (To be honest, this was why I signed up as a volunteer. I didn’t make it through the lottery this year.)

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Setting up the water table.

 

Here’s what I learned about volunteering at races and running in general:

1. Always bring a couple hair bands. I had one in my hair and two backups on my wrist, because of the windy weather. By the time the race was over, my hair was blowing free. Why? During the race, a runner asked for my hair band because her’s broke. This happened two more times. Actually, it happened three more times, but the third runner was out of luck because I was out of hair bands.

2. Runners really like encouragement. I was stationed at mile 2 to call out the time–so pretty early in the race–but the runners were so excited to see me and smiled as I cheered for them. A few even said thank you! That surprised me; I thought they would be too focused to really notice me, especially when they still had 8 miles to go. After the race, I overheard two runners discussing the course, and one mentioned that it would have been better to have more cheering sections. Good to know, if you’re setting up a race.

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Yes, that’s Santa Claus.

3. Preparing for a race is important! I got the impression that even with the lottery, some people rolled out of bed and thought, “Oh, I think I’ll run 10 miles today. That’s easy, right?” It’s not easy. And if this is how you approach a 10 mile race, you will be walking by mile 2.

4. Finishing a 5k is a huge deal to some people. After the 10 mile race, I stayed at the 2 mile marker to call the time to the 5k runners. And, man, some of those runners are FAST. But there were a lot of people who really weren’t fast at all, and who were struggling just to keep going. (And if I thought the 10 mile runners were excited to see me, that was nothing compared to the 5k runners.) A lot of people paused to take their picture with me and my “2 Miles” sign. I have a lot of respect for these people. They are taking a step towards a healthy life, and it isn’t easy.

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Here come the runners!

5. Some people really don’t care at all. The 5k was a run-walk race, and plenty of people ended up walking by the time they reached me two-thirds of the way through the race. I also saw lots of people running with strollers and children. Good for them! I think it’s great that they are doing this as a family. But the very last people in the race? A family just strolling along, occasionally taking in the view from Memorial Bridge. They laughed and joked around a lot, oblivious to the fact that we had to stand there for an extra 20 minutes as they dallied along. Honestly, it made me furious. Not because they were walking, not because they had kids, but because they obviously didn’t give a damn. I DID give a damn. So why couldn’t they take their nice, leisurely stroll next weekend, not during a race that has so many entrants that it requires a lottery system?

6. Coffee would be nice. The runners definitely appreciated the water, Gatoraid, and healthy snacks. And then? Pretty much all several thousand of them went looking for a Starbucks. I was in line for an hour. (Because they also didn’t have coffee for the volunteers, and after a 5 am wake up call, I really could have used it.) Every Starbucks and coffee shop in a three mile radius was packed with runners. It was madness. Maybe races should provide an after-run coffee?

1 Comment + Posted in: Running

Toddler Survival 101: How to Make it to Three

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Not to be trusted. Ever.

It’s not easy being a toddler. You can’t say you’re sad (so you scream), you can’t say you’re mad (so you scream), you can’t say you’re absolutely delighted with the whole wide world (so you scream). And while you’re exploring that whole wide world, accidents are bound to happen. Luckily for you, Evie is full of helpful hints to get you safely from your first birthday to your third. Want to stay alive? Take her advice.

  1. Mom gives you water when you wanted milk. You (appropriately) hurl your sippy cup at her head. Survival Tip: When she hollers in pain and comes towards you like she means business, run and give her a hug. Say something endearing, like “Hi, Mommy.” That usually works.
  2. Mom lets you go diaper-less for an hour to help ease the diaper rash. When she turns her back, you immediately poop on the floor. Survival Tip: Step in it. Maybe even slip and fall so it gets on your shirt and hair. Be very dramatic about the whole thing. You’re the victim here, not Mom!
  3. You snatch a toy from your older sibling and thump her on the head with it. She bursts into tears. Survival Tip: Don’t let your big sister cry alone! Make sure your wails are every bit as loud—give it everything you’ve got. Bonus points for holding your head just like big sis. Now Mom will never know who hit whom!
  4. Your grandparents have come for a visit. You shriek “No!” and run away any time they come within 10 feet of you. Survival Tip: On the very last day of the visit, allow them to win you over. This pretty much guarantees an extra-special gift will arrive in the mail within two weeks. They finally earned your love; now let them thank you for it!
  5. You just smeared yogurt all over Mom’s iPhone. Survival Tip: Put the phone to your ear and say “Hi, Mommy.” Adorable! Works every time.
  6. You pull Mom’s hair so hard her neck cracks. Survival Tip: Run your hands over your own messy angel curls and smile sheepishly. If you have dimples, now’s the time to use them.
  7. You have been slowly but purposefully throwing all the forks in the trashcan, one day at a time. Survival Tip: NEVER TELL. When Mom asks you if you know anything about the missing forks, look confused and wander in circles. Stay far way from the trashcan.
  8. You can’t stand being in Whole Foods for one more second, and it’s time the whole world knew it. This is one legendary tantrum, and Mom looks ready to strangle you. Survival Tip: Fall asleep in the car. That’s what Mom wanted, right? For you to fall asleep five minutes from home? No? Oh, well, too late now.

6 Comments + Posted in: About the Kids

Living in Small Spaces: Thrive Tip #5

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Thrive Tip #5: Don’t buy placeholders.

My living room has exactly one place to sit, if you don’t count the floor. (I do count the floor, but my guests might not.) It is an Ikea love seat. It’s comfortable enough, and exactly what I want right now–or it will be, after I replace the hideous wood blocks that masquerade as legs. It’s exactly what I want for two reasons: 1) Lily and 2) Evie. They are not kind to nice things.

That being said, I would like two nice chairs to round out the seating area. Specifically, I would like the Pottery Barn Carlisle chair in indigo sateen ticking stripe. But I refuse to spend $1000 for a chair that I hear is not that well made. (Side note: Does anyone have anything good to say about Pottery Barn furniture? I hear it does not stand the test of time.)

I have two options. I can buy chairs that I don’t really want. (Probably from Ikea.) I could live with them for a few years, angrily and resentfully, until I believe they have been sufficiently used to justify their price, and replace them when I find something I truly love. Or I could wait, until I have just a little bit more money and find the perfect chairs for my space and my life. Since I don’t want to live day in and day out with something I don’t really like, and since I hate waste, I don’t see the former as a very good option.

So I wait.

In the meantime, I am open to suggestions!

 

 

2 Comments + Posted in: Living in Small Spaces

Q&A Monday Vol. XVI: Becoming a Single Mom by Choice

QandAQ: You recently suggested that a woman should consider having children by herself, without a husband (or boyfriend, or significant other, or whatever) if she really wanted children. Really? You’re a single mom; would you really recommend purposefully taking on that challenge? I have a few friends who are single moms, and from what they say it is very, very hard. Why do I ask? Because I am pushing 40, recently divorced, and with no children. I would very much like to have children, and considered getting a sperm donor. But wouldn’t that be giving up on my dream of marriage and children together, a real family? And wouldn’t I be less likely to remarry if I had a child?

Ahem. If you have a child, with or without a spouse, that is a real family. If you have a spouse, with or without a child, that is a real family.

Now. From where I sit, it’s just a matter of priorities. Is it more important to you to have a child with your husband, at the risk of never having a child at all, or is it more important to you to have a child?

Are you less likely to remarry? I doubt it. If you are divorced and pushing 4o, then your dating pool is most likely also divorced and pushing 40, and they probably have children. Why? Because most people do. Sure, some people never have children, and you yourself don’t have children. But most people do, eventually. And I doubt that all those 40-something divorced dads are going to say no to dating a divorcee with a child, because quite frankly, that’s most of their dating pool too.

Is being a single mom hard? Absofuckinglutely. So if this is the choice you make, make sure you plan accordingly. Get the finances straight, figure out who will babysit for an occasional date or brunch with friends. Determine who will be the guardian if you suddenly die. That sort of thing.

This question is interesting, because what you’re really asking me is if I would still have children, if I had known then what I know now. If I knew my husband would leave, if I knew I would share a small one-bedroom condo with my two girls, if I knew money would be tight and time would be scarce, would I still choose to have children?

The answer is yes.

Got a question? Email me at  lynn@dontblamethekids.com!

 

1 Comment + Posted in: Q&A Monday

Speaking Of…Marines, Cherry Blossoms, Artists at Work, and More

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1. These Marines make me cry…in a good way.

2. Belle at Capitol Hill Style shows you how to put together a professional, stylish outfit every. single. time.

3. Cherry blossom season is here at last! Don’t worry if you’re not in Washington, D.C.–here’s where you can find cherry blossom festivals across the U.S.

4. England doesn’t have a monopoly on amazing formal gardens. Check out Gardenista’s roundup of amazing gardens of India.

5. Ever wonder how a creative genius spends his/her day? Now you know.

6. I can’t believe this is the same room!

7. I don’t see international travel in my future any time soon, unfortunately, so I have been living vicariously through Janae’s Thailand adventure at Hungry Runner Girl.

Have a great weekend! What do you have planned?

 

 

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