So-Called Cooking Vlog

My god I am the worst at cooking. And if there are any moms out there that think they can challenge me for this title, I will battle you to the death. Because I truly am the worst at it and I am both willing to accept the title and also laugh at myself over it—while striving to improve. Because I am the queen of taking perfectly fresh and tasty salmon fillets, and turning them into paper weights.
This puts me in a tricky spot because I have 7 young mouths to feed. Four of which are teenagers and are ALWAYS hungry and never stop chirping for food from the time they get up until nightfall, when I’ve resorted to stacks of toast and butter to fill their bellies. Poor Pippin gets tired of cooking the same old thing and we all get tired of eating it. He cooks not because he enjoys it, but because if he didn’t, we’d all starve to death or go broke from takeout. We are busy parents, so being creative is complicated in the kitchen.
But that doesn’t mean moving to suburbia doesn’t have me wanting to scratch that domestic itch. This new neighborhood has me living a braver So-Called Mom life. As a result, I’m not about to let the oven get the better of me. So I have decided to turn this ship around, and with the help of your new captain (me), and a handful of library-based cook books, we’ll be sailing into unchartered territory in the hopes of a happy landing, nestled onto a bed of greens and vinaigrette dressing.
See for yourself 🙂



Julia Child would swoon,
So-Called Mom
PS, Don’t forget to subscribe and comment below, I’d love to hear from you and also discover new recipes and recommendations. Thank you!

When your Teenage Son Needs a Makeover

It’s been awhile since I first posted that the kids were going for so called make-overs.  As could have been anticipated, the girls new hair styles were a great success all around.  Em and Milla enthusiastically embraced the new looks, and everything that went with a grown up hair salon.

 

Win #1

Win #2

Win #3

Jake, on the other hand, was a pain in the ass.  In retrospect, I don’t know why I’m surprised.  What, 17 year old boy wants to go to a ladies salon to get their hair cut?  I know  it’s his “job” to resist, but jesus, I put a lot of planning and money into getting everyone to clean up their acts. The girls jumped at the chance, but not Jake.

The stylist didn’t help matters when she responded to my carefully curated photos of hairstyles: Oh, that’s too feminine. Let’s not have another Justin Bieber on our hands. 
I thought Jake was going to bust out of there then and there. His face turned beet red, and he was so uncomfortable he wouldn’t even look at me. When she was done cutting ONLY AN INCH AND A HALF OFF, Jake put his hat on and sullenly sat in the lobby until his newly styled sisters asked, did you do anything at all? Now granted, it might have had something to do with being a teenage boy in a mostly women’s hair salon, but regardless, it seemed slightly over the top.  He even refused to take a group photo with us.
Mom side note:  His pediatrician didn’t help matters when just days ago he told me (again helpfully shared in front of him):  Mom, hands off. If he wants to stink, let him stink. Let him wear what he wants, let him have his hair how he wants. His friends will tell him if it’s not cool enough. 
REALLY?  This is the wisdom of the experts?  Is this the modern version of Let Them Fail?  I think we’ve lost our minds.  Would his friends really tell him? More importantly,  if this is the look, is he hanging with the right crowd?
For this mom, the frustrating thing is he’s a good looking kid. But Jake’s years of self neglect has turned his hair into a long, stringy mop that he covers up with a trucker hat. It’s no wonder that some kid from school has called him a school shooter the other day.
So taking matters into my own hands, I forced him to return to the women’s salon, fully aware that one of two things could happen:  I take charge, insist on the cut and have him hate me and complain to his pediatrician next time—Or, all of the above, AND he hates me now, but thanks me later.

I’m not like this usually, but I’m glad I called the salon and scheduled the redo right on the heels of yesterdays mess-up. If any more time had passed, I’m sure I would’ve let it slide. The bonus? We got to spend a few extra hours hanging out and having a sort of inadvertent mom/son time together. And we realized on the spot that neither of us could remember the last time we just hung out, just the two of us.

Now that I’ve taken a stand, I wonder if it would be overkill to call the pediatrician and let her know how uncool it was to undermine me in front of the kid. I think the connection between the oldest kid and mom is an essential one. If that gets unraveled, the rest of the kids would follow suit, and I can’t have that happening. Jake is a year away from being an adult and on his own. I need us to cross the finish line together.

Power Trippin,

So Called Mom

When Life is TOO Much

I have raised my kids to rush from place to place and I only come to terms with it after I’ve found my sanity in the bottom of a bag of potato chips with my makeup running down my face. Call it a ritual at this point. I don’t stay this way of course, as I usually find myself taking advice from a five year old taking pity on me, covering me up with a too-small blanket and asking me to just take a break.

But I can’t just take a break. The world would stop spinning.

I live on a hamster wheel and there are times when I do stop but only if I spin out first.

Look, it’s no surprise that being a mom of 7 kids is chaotic and downright exhausting. And you can go ahead and say it: What did you expect? You brought this on yourself. 

But the alternative is what? A dull life? Sheer boredom? Living the same, day after day piloting two, maybe three kids? If the short end of the stick means that I occasionally experience the blunt force trauma of having a life of 7 kids catch up with me, then so be it. I wouldn’t want a normal life. I’m happy to not even know my freaking name by the end of the night; to be so tired that I sleep well—that means I’m happy right? And when I wake up and it’s a new day, I can get dressed knowing that I’m not fooling anyone—I’m not living a life that I really didn’t want. And I’m definitely not going through the motions. Going through the emotions, maybe, haha…but definitely not caring whether or not I’m coloring inside the lines with raising a family.

The thing that gets me through it all is being different—unconventional. Taking a traditional upbringing and turning it inside out. What does this build? Character? Self-awareness? Resiliency? I think yes to all the above. Our big family does not have a solid foundation—it is always moving; changing so much the concrete can’t set. As a result, someone is always unhappy, someone is always thrilled, or lucky, fulfilled, crying, feeling left out, or feeling too crowded. The list goes on, the emotions are always changing and sometimes just as fast as their ages.

 

To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t clone myself if I could, because even she wouldn’t get it right. I’d wind up firing her for fucking up, for not being me. There is no one else that could do this job. No one else probably would. But it’s all the same because it’s exactly who I am and I wouldn’t do any of it differently. These kids are a very different extension of who I am, of who I wanted to be and I’m so happy to see so many versions.

Crunch crunch crunch,

So Called Mom

Me Time Part 2: Stay in Shape

The toughest thing about being a mom – or at least the thing that my friends and I complain most about – is staying in shape. There’s no time; it’s too hard to get to the gym or yoga studio – or I waste money because I never go; there’s no privacy. I’m here to argue that it’s so important for your sanity, that you need to make time. It’s not an option to do nothing. What follows is my simple fix.

I have four things I try to rotate on a regular basis (and I’m not suggesting you try all four, but just for options):  yoga, dance, strength training, and things for flexibility or stretching.

My rule of thumb is simplify!  I do most of my exercises in my bedroom. I wear as little as possible (so I can see my muscles at work), add some music and let it rip. It is me time with the aim of being disrupted as little as possible.  Of course, this rarely happens, but as we say in yoga, it helps me to stay “On the mat” – which means stay focused.  I used to stop what I was doing when they burst through the door, but I have learned to keep going and they either camp out on my bed and watch or even join in.

 

I use a blank wall for balance exercises and my dresser like a ballet barre, and the small space around my bed for everything else. Sometimes I focus on resistance training basics – you know, those exercises we all used to hate (and still do!)—I do as many sit-ups as my abs can handle, 10 pushups and about 120 leg lifts and lunges on each side. We have a pull up bar installed in our bedroom doorway, and I do 6 pull ups.  Of course, butt exercises are a must.

Always push yourself – easy to say; hard to do. But try to always increase the reps.  When you do pushups, start with ten and add one more every other day.   The same for plies and planks and any other exercise in your routine. Mix it up.  And most importantly, breathe. If you are holding a difficult pose, picture it as one of life’s challenges.  Picture the air intake enveloping the muscle group you’re working on and use it to breathe out as a stronger woman.

Remember to use your workout time as your time. Let your kids see you taking care of yourself, there is no need to hide behind a locked door or stow them in childcare at the gym all the time. My kids see me dance in the kitchen when I’m putting dishes away. I read vogue while sitting in pigeon pose. When you integrate simple activity like this into your daily routine, and stagger it throughout the day, you give your metabolism and mood a boost. And, you don’t let a lack of time (or money) be your only excuse to getting the strength and endurance you want to feel great.

At the very end of the day, unwind in a tub of epsom salts, stretch out and massage your sore muscles in the warm water. You’re worth it after all!

Your Simple Fitness Guru,

So Called Mom

Date Nights Work

As Pippin and I blurted out during yesterday’s mini-blog,

we haven’t had a proper date since the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

But yesterday we received some earnest money from the sale of our house, and while “date night” may not be at the top of most people’s priority list, it was on mine.

One thing Pippin rocks at is Dates, and how to make this tired mom of 7 feel like she’s the 25 year old with only three kids that he fell in love with.  He took me to my favorite restaurant, Departure, which is at the top of the Nines Hotel.  For those of you paying attention, Leopold was born in the corner suite on the 11th floor.
We got there early enough to savor a few cocktails at the bar and look into each other’s eyes the way we used to. All I cared about was cherishing the guy who knew intuitively how to keep our freak flag flying.  Usually there’s so much going on in our lives, I don’t have a moment to think about tomorrow…I’m so busy reacting to today. Managing nine people who are growing in new ways every day, selling a house without having another in sight, an unplanned vacation in a couple of weeks – everywhere I look are potential mine fields of stress.

But the best part about last night was none of that existed.

Don’t get me wrong – being in the moment, where it’s just the two of us, takes real effort.  It means shifting gears and forgetting I’m an entrepreneur, a wife and a mom. I’m talking about being good company, being present as a woman who is flirting with her man and even getting a little drunk. This way, when the bill comes, drinks and dinner don’t qualify as a tax write off—but as an aphrodisiac that holds us together until next time.
Look, I don’t pretend to be an expert at this. But if there’s anything I learned from finally finding Mr. Right (who also happened to be Mr. Third Times a Charm) and being able to stay with him for more than 10 years—it’s to pay close attention to each others needs. And that may include ordering a pizza or two and getting the hell out of Dodge on occasion.

Seeking that all important re-connection to your partner means reconnecting with who you are too. I tell myself often: At one point this was everything you wanted. And revisiting those feelings on a date that feels like the first one is very much reminding you that this was what you wanted. And it still is.
Head Over Manolos,
So Called Mom