hot toddy

When I was in college, one of my pledge sisters had a boyfriend, “Toddy too hottie” — this made the rest of my pledge class gag. Eventually she dropped from pledging, but the reference lives on in my mind and queasy stomach when I think of my favorite fall drink.

If I’m being honest, my favorite drink on its own is actually just hot cider. I typically have one non-water drink per day and nearly every single day in fall, that drink is hot cider. I’ve also somehow managed to get 3 hooked on it. He has a little two ounce mug that he sips his cinnamon cider (microwaved for :30).

Tonight, though, my husband and I are planning to enjoy a nightcap while watching the Rays take on the Astros. We greatly bond over our mutual love of playoff baseball and my vast enjoyment of brown liquor.

Now, I haven’t always enjoyed brown liquor and even the reference takes me back to a dear friend’s wedding where we had ‘the clear and the brown’ and … I almost fell out of my seat, so I’d taken a long-time hiatus from the brown unless out at a southern restaurant.

Tonight’s recipe is simple: In a pot, we like to mix cider, lemon, and cinnamon; when it’s warm, we add 1T of bourbon (correct, it’s not even a shot but my face goes numb after half a glass of wine, so I’d like to be coherent during our baseball and toddy evening). Of course, I take no pictures because I’ve not had my phone on me for much of the day.

I’m going to search Pinterest for other fall and winter night-cap ideas but am always open to other suggestions as well.

 

infertility, pt3

I started this post back in May and was reminded of this particular experience I shared the story with a friend over dinner and drinks last week.

With it being Mother’s Day weekend, I was thinking back to our IVF days. Those days were particularly difficult for my husband and me (and our marriage). As I was reflecting, I couldn’t help but think of our trigger shot day from our first round of IVF.

I was having all kinds of hot flashes from the hormones, so we’d been sleeping with one of our bedroom windows open (and two fans on). In February. In Boston. It was great to have the windows open for this particular experience.

My husband watched a few videos from the pharmacy’s online portal and then told me what to expect: “The video said to use a dart-like throwing motion.” I was standing in position, staring down at my phone that blared Busta Rhymes and my husband prepped the area.

Then, bam.

I screamed. The dog went ballistic, barking and growling at my husband. My husband was frantically yelling, “Don’t move! The needle came out! It’s stuck!” I stood screaming while the dog tried to protect my honor, all with a giant needle sticking out of me. Because the trigger shot needs to be timed just so, we all had to quickly calm down and try again.

Fortunately, our neighbors are the gracious types. Nobody has ever asked what all of the screaming was about, nor did anyone call the police. My husband kept repeating, “I told you it was going to be like a dart?!” and I kept responding, “I’ve never been hit by a dart before?!” This was an intramuscular shot and one of the hundreds of shots administered by my husband (fortunately, the only one with such a mishap)…

Surprisingly, after this particular IVF cycle, we continued on with more treatments before deciding to call it quits with fertility specialists, shots, and mood swings and shifted our attention and energies to growing our family through other means. ENTER, a visit to our local Jordan’s Furniture store to talk to a representative about DCF fostering/adoption and signing up for MAPP training.

While we had not planned on this particular timing; fostering youth was something we’d discussed because it was always something that I’d wanted to do. My grandparents had five bio children and, because that wasn’t enough, fostered constantly to share their home and chaos with those in need. This was important to me and soon, us.

It wasn’t long before we started our first training class, but that’s a whole other story…

#blessed

Sometimes it can difficult to navigate the social constructs of media platforms online. I oftentimes see articles/posts berating the “humble brag” and this had me thinking…

Today, I dropped 13 off at camp and then took my son for a special treat before his camp started. (Full Disclosure: I also got myself a treat and forgot to order decaf, so I consumed caffeine for the first time in over two years today. WOW! I see how why people drink coffee; I feel like I can scale buildings and cure infectious diseases all in the next 40 minutes!) After his cake-pop, I dropped him off at camp and took my skinny caramel iced latte to the beach for the next three hours. I read much of that time and also squeezed in two walks for a total of ~3 miles. Lovely!

During my walks, I was thinking about my husband. I had texted him after 13’s drop-off and told I might stop by Starbucks. His response: “You should!” This is basically his response for any idea I have that involves basically anything. It’s great and I know he sincerely means it because he is constantly telling me to do more for myself (and I, him, because this is marriage and not a one-way street). This is one way we keep ourselves and each other accountable for things like prioritizing our own health and fitness, mental health, breaks, etc. It works for us.

As I walked down the beach, I thought that these are things that I’m typically unable to share with the Twitter/Facebook crowds. I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging about my day because my glass is overflowing. Trust, there are many days when my glass is empty and is teetering on the edge of the table waiting to be broken. The thing about parenting and maybe just being an adult is that everyone complains that nobody ‘keeps it real’ and only features ‘highlight reels’ — but what happens when this is the real much of the time?

Sure, I am not posting recordings of 3 screaming at the top of his lungs; I reserve those special moments for the patrons of the pizza place next door. Still, I would love to share with people my thoughts sometimes — about how my husband is a good man and a great father but I mostly just share that with him. He works hard to provide for our family and is supportive of my many ideas (most of which involve an airplane ride and money that I don’t make being on a sabbatical); he plays with the kids but also sets boundaries; he models to three children what a father and husband should do and while he doesn’t get it right all of the time, I think he’s definitely got it right the majority.

I clearly was having some philosophical banter in my mind during this walk; maybe it was the coffee or maybe just the peaceful vitamin sea I was soaking up. I continue to wonder why it is so difficult to share what is going on in our worlds. I know that I share more on Instagram than any other platform of social media and that is because most of the people on my IG are people I communicate with regularly and they know that 3 is often on the verge of breaking me and also that I live a privileged life full of love and stability.

For now, I will keep things this way as to not rock the boat of the #parentsquad on Twitter that air on the side of parental frustrations or the #soblessed crowd on Facebook that share their many #humblebrags. I guess, largely, I wanted to share that some of us are grateful for what we have and the lives we’ve built and it’s okay to be positive about those things because our optimism/lightness doesn’t negate your dark times or struggles.

We are all in it together to rejoice and support, day in and day out.

Note: This potentially is a bit of a ramble. Caffeine really does a number on me and I needed an outlet to get my morning walk thoughts out there.

staycation: a review

My husband and I had a great staycation in the city of Boston for Memorial Day weekend. My in-laws came down to visit with the kids & dog and we took the train in on Friday afternoon. We didn’t plan much (a couple meals, a race & yoga, and a Red Sox game), which really made it relaxing — hello, daily afternoon naps.

My phone was on DONOTDISTURB the duration of our trip. I texted only a few times with friends while my husband was running his race or getting ready for bed (and when my cousin got engaged!). Taking the train instead of driving relieved some stress and let us start our trip off with ease; though, admittedly, it was not easy carting around our suitcases, so we took a taxi home.

I kept a partial log of the restaurants and the foods we tried. In my mind, I’d write restaurant reviews but in reality, I’ll just give a quick one-liner with recommendations.

We stayed at StayPineapple. It was a cute boutique hotel between the South End and Back Bay areas. We could walk everywhere, which was the best for us. The room was small and definitely wouldn’t be for everyone but we liked it.

Friday, we tried Myers & Chang for dinner. The sweet & sour brussels sprouts were my favorite. We also ordered the wild boar dan dan noodles — I’d not had dan dan noodles since my time in Wuhan and was excited to try them; the verdict: Very spicy but delicious; I’d have preferred less meat in mine. We walked to Flour near our hotel after dinner and I got a brown butter rice krispy treat — my life has been forever changed.

Saturday, I introduced my husband to hot yoga. He was a real trooper — I could tell he was struggling but he made it through! Afterwards, we tried Tatte — their haloumi & sunny-side egg sandwich with tomato is basically all I ever need for breakfast for the rest of of my life. We had breakfast in the Public Garden and then walked to the Seaport to get his bib for the Run to Remember. Afterwards, we stopped at Taiyaki NYC to try the ice cream; their cones are more like soft waffles with red bean. We split the beach, please and it was a nice, light treat.

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We then ventured to Bartaco for lunch. Admittedly, I LOVE Bartaco — I tweeted them until they put a restaurant in Boston, so we try to visit when we are on that side of town. I had the grapefruit-mint agua fresca (non alcoholic) and it was so light; I want to make this at home. My husband and I spit a few duck, shrimp, chorizo, and falafel tacos, their chopped salad (my favorite), and their salsa & guac trio. It was all delicious. We’d walked nearly eight miles by the time we reached our hotel; took naps; and then got ready and headed out to dinner. We chose MoonBar for wine and some snacks (raw oysters, smoked swordfish dip with crackers, halibut crudo, and the most amazing grilled squid salad I’ve ever had). We knew we’d need something a little more substantial later, so we returned to Tatte and got sandwiches: My husband got the Turkey BLAT  and a sandwich cookies while I opted for the mozzarella sandwich and a slice of their orange cake. Delicious.

There’s a recipe book of mine that has a smoked fish dip and I’ve been curious about it. I can’t wait to make this at home now. The dip we had was really good, so I am tabling the recipe I have for a beach-date night.

On Sunday, my husband ran a half marathon and I went to yoga. We got back to the room and got ready for brunch: Brownstone was up. It was okay; I’d probably choose a different place next time, as there weren’t many vegetarian options and I was feeling very meated-out at that point. Their pancakes were good. After brunch, we took naps and then got ready for dinner in the North End. My husband snagged a reservation at Nico.  We went to Nico on our second date and it’s one of our favorite restaurants in the city. We went all out — drinks; the beet salad with whipped ricotta, honey & roasted pine nuts; their burrata salad with prosciutto, tomatoes & artichokes (a recipe I recreate at home OFTEN), and then my favorite dinner — their rigatoni with artichokes & sausage. I didn’t really eat the sausage and in retrospect should have asked for it without. My husband had their chicken parm and liked it too.

On Monday, we had plans for the 4PM Red Sox game. We ordered delivery for breakfast from Trident. My husband had the breakfast burrito and I made my own eggs benedict with tomatoes and spinach. We hadn’t been to Trident in a while and their food was just as good as we’d remembered. We had some snacks at the game (nachos) and then stopped at CAVA on the way back for some grain and greens bowls.

We ended our trip on Tuesday with more rice krispy treats from Flour, breakfast at the Friendly Toast (we both built our own omelettes — mine had asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, and goat cheese — YUM!) and sushi at Red Lantern for dinner.

It was a great trip and a time to just walk around and enjoy the city and each other. We walked A LOT. At the most, I logged 8.2 miles (Saturday) and at the least, 2.9 miles (Friday). We didn’t take the train or a taxi anywhere after we got there and before we came home. It was nice to be unplugged, too. I need to put my phone on DO NOT DISTURB and forget about it more often. Overall, a great time. I look forward to our next one!

 

 

staycation

My husband and I booked a hotel in the city and are heading in after work today. We have dinner reservations tonight, a half-marathon (for him) and lots of yoga (for me, though he’s going to come to a class or two as well), brunch, and a baseball game planned.

I. Cannot. Wait.

Our last overnight trip together was a weekend away in December 2017; we stayed at a hotel in Pittsburgh last summer over vacation but went down with the kids and then met them the next day for a baseball game, so it’s not the same level of kid-freeness.

Anyway, I won’t be planning any meals this week but am looking forward to recapping the restaurants and getting back to swing of things next week!

 

mother’s day

For years, Mother’s Day left me in a strange place. I was a step-mother being celebrated for my contributions to my family but yearned for a child of my own at the same time. It was difficult to be appreciative and not show outward aching at the same time. When 3 came home, that all changed of course…

This weekend, we celebrated Mother’s Day and it was all lovely. Yesterday, I was showered with love and hand-made gifts from 11 & 13. They each made me mugs that were thoughtfully painted and they were both proud to tell me that I could use these mugs for my tea. I can’t wait!

Their mom took them to Michael’s to get a craft for me, which is appreciated. She has not always been so accepting and approving. Last night, when she came to pick 11 & 13 up, she texted my husband to let him know she got to the house and to have him wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. 11 & 13 left with handmade cards from an in-town printing press, flowers, and chocolate-covered strawberries in hand.

Before that, though, we went to Davio’s and had an Italian dinner (and a glass of Moscato for me). It was a delicious meal and our server complimented all three kiddos on their behavior (and their appetites).

I also was taught a new dance this weekend. I honestly wonder what the neighbors think, as there are frequent dance parties that take place in our sitting room and kitchen space. The newest dance I learned is where I catch an imaginary ball and then look like I’m tying a bow with my fists. It appears there are dramatized facial expressions as well.

All-in-all, a great weekend that led up to today. For Mother’s Day, my husband and 3 took me to brunch at one of my favorite places, Eastern Standard and surprised me with tickets to the Red Sox game! The weather in Boston was less than fantastic today, but after a Mother’s Day winter hat purchase, I was comfortable enough to make it through the game. Fortunately, my husband got us seats under the grand stand, so we stayed dry the duration of the game.

After a stunning Sox victory, we drove home, admiring the city and recapping our day. Then, we ordered pizza and cheesecake, because is there really any other way to celebrate Mother’s Day?

 

infertility, pt2

The funny thing about unexplained infertility is that everyone is so optimistic something positive will happen and then when it doesn’t, there’s not a single answer to any of the million questions you have. I deal well with logic and statistics, so basically getting a shoulder shrug as an explanation doesn’t really much work for me. More tests were ordered and a uterine scratch, which was an non-sedated procedure that was one of the more physically painful experiences of my life.

The best part of the scratch was when the RE performing the outpatient procedure said, “Well, you want to have a baby and childbirth is more painful than this.” It was true, I did want to have a baby; I never wanted this procedure. Comparing these two things and using such casual, condescending language, I assure you, is not something anyone dealing with years of fertility struggles wants to hear. My husband was there for the procedure; he took over responding to all questions at that point and told her I just needed to focus on my breathing.

I don’t remember much after that — just a lot of discomfort. We had to wait a month for results of the biopsy from the scratch and for proper healing before we could do our next round. As you likely gleaned from from the previous post, the scratch didn’t make much of a difference aside from the mental, emotional, and physical tolls.

Alas, the struggle with unexplained infertility continues, despite the perfect little addition to our family.