Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Facebook Official

So, if you're reading this from Facebook, you may have learned that I'm in a new relationship. This is a remarkable age we live in where announcing that you are dating someone on social media is akin to the old engagement announcements of yore. I changed my relationship status and, man, did my cell phone chirp and vibrate all damn day with people wanting to know more about the good news. This new relationship is no secret, I've pretty much been shouting about it to everyone and anyone within earshot, but somehow making it "Facebook official" is bringing things to a whole other level. Funny how things change when the whole universe knows your business.

The excellent news is that this new relationship is hands down one of the best three things that has ever happened to me (the other two being the births of my beautiful children). I have been unable to focus on much else for the past few months, a welcome and wonderful distraction from the rest of regular life. I am not going to go into great detail here on this blog (although if I see you in person I am likely to talk your ear off about it, as most of my friends can attest), but I will say that I had no idea that this kind of mutual love, happiness, and connection with another person was possible for me in this lifetime. The feelings are big, and scary, and wonderful, and I hope to hell they never end, but even if it all blew up tomorrow I would be so much better off for knowing what this feels like.

So, yeah, Facebook official. I'll take that, along with all of the other wonderful components of this relationship that don't have to do with social media. I'll take every single little joy and speed bump that comes with getting to know everything about someone you've chosen to be with. Everyday is an adventure, even the mundane, and I can't get enough.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Food Tour of South Florida

I spent the weekend in Miami, or should I say in South Florida, as I didn't actually spend too much time within the Miami city limits, but definitely enough to get a serious Florida fix. I have lived in Miami twice in my life now, and I have no desire to live there again. The traffic, the congestion, the intense materialism that the transient residents have, the obsession with fake breasts and fancy cars and glittery jewelry really doesn't do it for me. But there are some things that set Miami apart from any other city: and this weekend it was most certainly the food.

Being a city that is stuffed full of people from all sorts of exotic countries, it is very easy to find a delicious meal in a matter of seconds in this sprawled out concrete jungle. The fact that you can often times eat this meal while looking at the ocean is another slice of heaven. But to find the food that will really make you moan with delight, you have to travel a little bit further to parts unknown.

My original intention of the trip was to bring my children down to visit their father, who they hadn't seen in several months. I imagined that somehow this would be a rather laborious effort for me, and was pleasantly surprised when they went off with their dad and stayed for three days, giving me and my best friend an actual vacation, something I haven't had without my kids in years. Having spent the last eight months as a full time single working mom, this was a surprise that went way beyond the glorious, and into the realm of an unexpected lottery win. To have Jane, my all time favorite travel companion, with me really set it over the edge in awesomeville.

Our first night, tired after not enough sleep and a very early flight, we set out for dinner in Hollywood, just a couple of miles from our hotel, and stumbled upon a dimly lit, attractive Brazilian restaurant. Viva Brazil serves up a beautiful buffet of beans and rice, fritters, salads, and meats freshly carved off the rotisserie. Brazilian food is some of my favorite, and the flavors did not disappoint, especially when washed down with the Caipirinha, the signature cocktail of Brasil. We rolled out of the restaurant and I barely made it to a horizontal position in our hotel Murphy bed before I was snoring. Delicious food coma indeed.

Our second day in So Flo involved getting hideously sunburned on the beach, followed by mahi sandwiches, ahi tuna, and pina coladas in giant creepy coconut heads on Hollywood beach. We were surprised by how many restaurants in Florida hang up way too many Halloween decorations. Fake cobwebs abound in the south apparently.

That night we went out for an amazing Cuban meal (Rice and beans! Churrasco steak!) and then dancing at several Latin dance spots in Hollywood. This has always been my favorite part of this part of the world. Salsa dancing, and dancing in general, abounds. People are always enthusiastic, the place is often crowded, and just when I think I am too old for anyone to dance with me, they do.

We stayed up way too late dancing, and then the next morning had to make the pilgrimage to the only place that can save you after a night like that: El Palacio de los Jugos (the Juice Palace). This place is an institution in Miami, and has been for years. They seemingly speak only Spanish, the lines are long for the fresh squeezed juices and Cuban sandwiches, but the payoff is absolutely worth it. Anyone visiting Miami should head down to Flagler and 57th Avenue and eat here, you will not be sorry.

More deliciousness continued throughout the weekend, the coffee is so strong it's like sweet liquid crack, and the guava pastries are good enough to make you miss your plane, but the rest of the weekend is a bit of a haze as we sailed back home to regular life. I will be back to Miami soon though, I can't be away from that kind of indulgence for too long. Adios!

The Limonsillo, a funny yet appealing tropical fruit that I have yet to see in this region

The Cuban sandwich (ham and pickles, hot and cheesy) and the Juice of Life (fresh squeezed orange and passion fruit juice, aptly named by me when it is the cure-all for any bad hangover).
Cuban coffee, my reason for getting up in South Florida. So sweet, so strong, so addicting.

Ahi tuna steak on the beach

Dancing Merengue in Hollywood and Cuban dinner at Sazon in North Miami Beach

Fresh coconut water for $2.50 from El Palacio de los Jugos

Sunrise above the Atlantic

Monday, September 14, 2015

Day Off

It's Monday and this morning was the first time this season that I have woken up chilly. Summer never lasts long enough for me, I could have it all year round if it weren't for my tremendous love of the changing seasons. Fall is pretty good too, especially here in Western Mass. No one knows their way around a fall festival like the good people of the Pioneer Valley. So this year I am kind of excited to dig out my socks, carve pumpkins, and smell the falling leaves. Plus it's baking season, a dangerously delicious time for me, and I feel a good stretch of pumpkin flavored treats and fresh bread coming on. My kids will not be disappointed.

Today is one of those blissful days where I have no concrete plans or obligations. I went for a run (the fastest I've run in a long time, I'm thinking the happiness from the previous post is giving me more energy, nothing wrong with that), and made the lasagna that Sofie has been bugging me to make for the past week. It's funny how easy it is to get so busy with life that you forget to take a morning off to just putter around the house and chill out. It almost feels like I'm doing something wrong, but I know it's just what I need, and in fact my kids will actually get a decent dinner tonight as a result of me not being busy today. Days off are the best.

Monday, September 7, 2015



That's where I'm at today. Pure, unadulterated happiness has found me after six months of digging out from the underground cave that was my life. 

I spent the weekend camping with two of my best friends and two of my children's best friends. Long days on the beach, giggling around the campfire, waking up outside, grappling with the neighborhood skunk, all of it was glorious. A perfect way to salute the quickly waning summer.

Ending my marriage and breaking up our family unit was the most emotionally challenging, and overwhelmingly liberating thing I've ever done. Now it's done and the dust has settled, and I am delighted to announce that the emotion that has been left behind is joy. Joy at life and all of its various beautiful possibilities. Joy at the calmness of our house and the calmness that I feel blossoming inside my children. Joy at my own ability to live my life as I want to live it, and total freedom to be who I really am with everyone that surrounds me. What a fantastic place to be, I wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Disconnecting and Staring Your Loved Ones in the Face

Today I am doing the unthinkable for this vacation. I am using a computer and writing a blog. This week with my extended family is all about not connecting digitally and reconnecting with the age-old forgotten tradition of conversing with one another, without constantly checking down to see if somebody else has sent us a text. It's fantastic to see my 19 and 20 year old cousins intentionally leaving their phones in their rooms, even though this old house now has Wifi. Everybody here wants the excuse to disconnect, and I find that so awesome I had to reconnect just to tell you about it.

As I sit in this spot on the big covered porch staring out at the rippling lake my kids have Uno cards spread out in front of them, uncles are reading the newspaper, others are doing a jigsaw puzzle inside. Later today we will convene on the lawn for the Hartshorne Family Olympics, a yearly tradition that involves old and young chasing each other down in capture-the-flag, water balloon tossing, and egg-on-spoon races.

I can't believe that I don't make it a priority to disconnect this way in my regular life. Perhaps, like everyone else, I just get too caught up in the daily digital age, and staring at the screen most of my day becomes scarily normal. I love a week up here in the mountains to remind me to log off, shut it down, and get a good look at the faces of the people around me. I am hoping this year that it lasts more than week.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer Time Frenzy

Last night I had my first good night's sleep in what has felt like forever. Working nights screws you up so badly that it's hard for your body to figure out what to do when it's dark, and I spend many nights staring at the ceiling, the anxiety of knowing that I will be tired the next day chasing around my circulating thoughts. So I had a couple of nights at work this week, then a couple of those nights, and then last night exhaustion got the better of me and I slept like a baby, sausaged in the bed with both kids. Whatever it takes, as all mothers know, whatever it takes.

The kids had camp this week. Sofie loved hers but Nathan hated soccer camp. Mean guy in charge spent the whole day yelling at them and made several kids (my son included) cry. Kind of a downer when you spend a bijillion dollars finding the perfect situation for your kids. I guess better luck next time for us. Hopefully sleepover camp later in the summer will prove to be more of a joy. One can only hope.

Camp is simultaneously glorious and hideous for me. Do other parents feel this summer time frenzy? I am delighted that they have somewhere to expend all that energy, run and play with friends, and counselors to manage their needs all day. On the other hand, it's another thing to set my alarm for, make the lunches, don't forget to pack the towel, fill the water bottles, rush out the door and have them deposited in two completely different locations at almost the exact same time, only to turn around and retrieve them in their utterly exhausted state six hours later, bring them home and keep them from killing each other while I stare at the fridge, bleary-eyed from working all night, and try to figure out which of these left overs could become tonight's dinner. Is this easier than lying around all day and trying to nap in between Garfield episodes? The jury is still out.

I am trying to be the good single mother who can make it all happen, keep my kids lives fulfilled without losing her mind, but as any mother who tries to pull this off will probably tell you (unless she is either totally lying or smoking crack) sometimes it's not worth the heartache. I think camp is necessary for some of my sanity this summer, if I am able to catch even a couple of hours to myself to keep ahead of the terrible mess building up in the house, or pay my bills, or even (gulp!) go for a quick run, I feel like a hero. But apparently (and this is a shocker) sending them to camp is not going to be the answer to finding my inner calm.

Tomorrow we head to our undisclosed Pennsylvania mountain location for a week with my wonderful extended family. Lounging by the lake, long walks, and cocktails and novels on the porch await. Now there is some inner calm channeling calling my name. So ready.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Young Poets

Today I attended a poetry slam in my son's fourth grade class. All the kids stood up and read poems that they had carefully crafted, each one more beautiful than the last. The best were the kids' "I am from" poems, where they told about all of the things that make them who they are. It's amazing what kids will pick out of their own lives that they feel shape them. My son had some beautiful lines, mixed in with some totally invented ones about fracturing a rib while doing some athletic event and waking up in the hospital (no, this never happened). He makes shit up, wonder where he gets that?

His teacher also asked the parents to write a poem for their children that she would keep a surprise. She then read them out loud to the class and each kid had to guess which poem was for them. Nate was pretty adorable when she read mine, total embarrassment mixed with delight. So super cute. I totally cried. I am not a poet by any stretch of the imagination but here's my poem for my boy:

Mother’s Day Gift

He came to us on Mother’s Day,
His big brown eyes took my breath away,
A beautiful baby I could only dream of,
One quick glance and I knew it was love.

At first his breathing wasn’t right,
In the ICU he spent his first night,
But soon I held him in my arms,
And first was weakened by his charms.

He holds my heart tight in his hands,
Even now with all his demands,
X-box, iPad, and TV,
Sleepovers, junk food, play dates please?

Now as my boy turns to a man,
And grows up as fast as he possibly can,
I love him and I tell him so,
He takes my heart with him wherever he goes.

My boy that came on Mother’s Day,
Is the greatest gift that I could say,
I’ll take his anger, spunk, and joy,
For me there is no other boy.