What I’ve Been Cooking: Eating Down the Freezer

This isn’t the sexiest post I’ve ever written, but sometimes when you’re going to be moving* and you like to keep a well-stocked pantry and chest freezer you think, “Yowza. I don’t want to move all of this, too!”

My freezer is worse (better?) than my pantry. It is stocked. Veggies from our summer CSA, organic beef and chicken (usually, but we’ve used it all up), berries, banana chunks for smoothies (and six whole bananas C threw in there once), frozen veggies from the store, chunks of a whole coconut we’d broken up, cranberries from the Cape, peaches from last summer, homemade stock and pesto, tasty things from Trader Joe’s, a frozen pizza.

That’s rather a lot. Plus I sometimes tend to put leftovers in there, too. Maybe I’m a little bit of a food hoarder, but I like to have stuff on hand.

Our pantry is less full, but it has a fair amount of food in it, mostly pasta, grains, and beans. And canned tomatoes. It’s really quite reasonable, not excessive, but we’re not going to starve, that’s for sure.

On my own, and with the kids gone half the week, and thus my not having to cook a major meat-containing meal every night, I’ve started to making recipes that catch my eye or that I’ve been wanting to try for a while and also generally simplifying what I cook. In addition, I’ve again begun cooking out of interest and pleasure instead of as a dull repetitive chore.

I once again love to cook!

I went through the freezer the other day, partly to see if I had anything affected by that recent listeria recall (I did not) and partly to see what was in there. Year-old birthday cake? Goodbye. Year-old unfrosted cupcakes? Six-month-old pastry dough? Two-year-old pesto cubes (ugh)? Gone, gone, gone.

Here’s what I’ve been cooking lately, using up what I have on hand:

Cacio e Pepe: It’s like adult mac-and-cheese. So simple, so delicious. I don’t make it quite like Mark Bittman does, but it’s lovely. I also made another version with fried sage leaves (oh…..so good) and threw in some fresh spinach leaves just before the pasta was done cooking. Helpful tip: Frying sage leaves in brown butter can make your house smell like pot (come on, I went to a small liberal arts college in the ’90s). If you don’t like the smell of pot (I do not), ventilate well.

Fruit Cobbler: On Tuesday I took all the frozen berries and that one remaining sheet of puff pastry and made a cobbler, also adding chunks of fresh mango and some of last summer’s peaches, which I’d managed to peel and slice last summer (and froze in anticipation of making jam at a later time, which I haven’t yet done…). The puff pastry wasn’t great. Maybe I didn’t vent it enough, but it was soggy and thick. And the fruit was really runny. Tasty, but I should have done something different.

Banana Bread: The same day, I defrosted the six whole frozen bananas and made a 9×13 pan of chocolate chip banana bread…just in time for yesterday’s epic seven-boys/two-moms playdate.

Chocolate Chia Pudding: Yesterday morning, I made chocolate chia pudding. I had no nut milks/rice milk on hand, and while I do have very nice cows’ milk in the fridge, I decided to use a can of coconut milk (with the fat skimmed off to save for another use). It seems a bit too chocolately for the texture, frankly. I think this would be good mixed with a good whole-milk yogurt (Greek or not, whatever’s on hand) to balance the flavor and texture.

Vegetarian Chili: Max wanted chili for dinner last night. After our epic seven-child playdate I needed to make something quick. Thus this delicious skillet chili. This nicely used up most of an onion, some carrots and green peppers from the produce drawer, two cans of beans, and a can of tomatoes. Alas, my chili powder and cumin seem to have moved out with my husband, so I found a half-packet of Trader Joe’s taco seasoning and put a little of that in. Ben complained the chili was too spicy but otherwise liked it. I would have used more of that seasoning but it has a really strong note of cayenne and not much else (that is, to get the other flavors you’d have way too much cayenne going on). I had to add water to the chili to make it soupier for my traditionalist children, who like a soupy chili instead of a bowl of beans. With some shredded cheese on top, it was delicious and everyone ate two bowls (yay!!).

Veggie Tempura Nests: I didn’t really make these. I had some from Trader Joe’s (man, I have a lot of TJ’s stuff in my freezer!) and wanted to use them up and thought they’d be a nice counterpoint to the chili. Ben didn’t like them, and Max thought they were just OK, so I ended up eating them all (don’t judge).

So that’s what we’ve been eating. I also, when I can, maybe every other week, make a trip to a local produce market and stock up. Then I roast big pans of eggplant and peppers and summer squash and zucchini and make big salads, and another night I might grill a pile of veggies as I continue to learn to master the charcoal grill (windy days are tricky).

What I’d like, frankly, is a big juicy steak, cooked rare. Alas, I haven’t yet found one in my freezer, fridge, or pantry. Maybe when I get the chest freezer nearly empty and schedule a pickup for a big pile of stuff to donate, I will celebrate with a steak. Let us hope I’ve fully gotten the hang of the charcoal grill by then.

*I don’t know where yet. But it will be sometime this summer, away from the city. And yes, I’d probably be better off focusing on cleaning the basement and getting stuff ready to donate, but hey, we need to eat, right?

Fitness at Home: Work Out in Your Living Room

I care about fitness. I care about having a functional, strong, healthy body. Also, I need to move and be active and challenge myself. And running for hours or doing a hard workout or spending 60 or 75 minutes doing yoga is fun for me. I’m really connected to my body, and often I stay centered through fitness. And, yes, the endorphins sure help a lot!

When the Kids Are at Their Dad’s

On my days without the kids, I go to the gym before work or go for a run or do a boot camp-style workout with a friend. Or, okay, sometimes I wake up early and then just lie in bed reading The New York Times on my phone. That’s nice, too. If it’s a weekend, I’ll meet my trail group for a run in the woods or go to yoga. Or, you know, lie in bed reading on my phone.

Single-Parenting Workouts

When the kids are here, however, I obviously can’t go for a run, and by the time I drop them off at school and get downtown there’s no time to get to the gym. My boot camp friend could come over and work out with me in my yard at dawn, but sometimes one (or both) of the kids gets up  and climbs into bed with me at quarter past it’s-anyone’s-guess. And I fear that if I’m not in the apartment but instead out in the yard, the child would search everywhere for me but not think to look in the yard (because when you’re half-asleep and needing Mommy, why would you check the backyard, especially if it’s barely light out??).

I’m just now getting to the point where 1) my hip is recovered enough that I’m ready to return to regular workouts and 2) I’m finally ready to get up early and work out on the days the kids are here. I’m tired lately, people. And that’s OK. Lying in bed reading before the day starts is a luxury.

Wednesday

This week, there was one day I got up early, ready to rock, except there was nothing to rock. I couldn’t leave the apartment. And I’m terrible about working out on my own. I know what to do. I could easily do an hour or more of yoga or circuit training or a boot camp-style workout or whatever. But alone — unless it’s running (and even then I like company!) — I’m not terribly motivated.

There. I’ve said it. I’m a very unmotivated fitness freak. I’m an introverted extrovert athlete. I’m a hermit until it comes to working out, which I can do for hours on end as long as I’m with other people.

Whatever.

I realized it was early and I should make good use of the time before the kids got up. Full disclosure: Ben had climbed into bed with me at 4:30 a.m., waking me at exactly the point in my sleep cycle at which I cannot go back to sleep, and then his small body somehow took up most of my bed. I had somehow nearly dozed off again when he started laughing in his dreams. I love that sound. Max used to laugh in his sleep all the time (maybe he still does). To hear Ben laugh in his sleep was delightful, if not terribly restful. It was, by then, nearly 5 a.m., and I gave up.

Scones

Anyway, there was a scones recipe I’d been wanting to try (more on that later).

Scones in the oven, I still had an hour before the kids would get up I had to get the kids up for school. I was so antsy to move.

chocolate chip scones with whole wheat flour; sort of a fitness treat?

Not necessarily your typical fitness treat, but they’re really good whole wheat chocolate chip scones.

Fitness Online

I’d retained enough of what I’d seen C and the kids do with the TV that I knew there was some kind of yoga or fitness channel somewhere. Long story short (wow, I’m getting more and more like my father every year — love you, Dad!), I found it is possible — very possible — to get in a good workout in your living room even if you’re an unmotivated/socially-motivated fitness slug like me.

I found my workouts on the Gaia channel (don’t ask me, maybe it’s a ROKU thing? I don’t really know how to work our TV except to use that device).

First workout: Kate Kendall, Flow Barre: Spicy Buns, 19:27. Kate Kendall is a lovely person who does these yoga/barre workout videos. You usually need a mat and a chair, and she’s filmed in some lovely location (a garden in Thailand? I have no idea). She’s approachable, friendly, knows when it burns, and will get you to the burn point in this nearly 20-minute workout before you’ve quite realized you’re going there. Go, Kate. She has a few other videos on the Gaia channel; I’ve done one other before “Spicy Buns” which is, as its name implies, a hip/glute workout.

Second workout: Rebekah Sturkie, The FIRM: Get Chisel’d: Kick It Into Gear, 14:29. Rebekah Sturkie is all business as she took me through a cardio/kickboxing routine. Mostly I could keep up (I’m terrible with learning new steps). She kept it simple, named the steps, and warned in ample time if a new step was coming up. She was relatively easy to follow, and the sequence got progressively more active (side kicks, knee-up, punches, front kicks). It definitely got my heart rate up and a sweat going. I would love an hour of that workout, but the almost 15 minutes was all the time I had left before I had to jump into the shower and then wake the kids. It was a really good and efficient workout, considering it was only 15 minutes.

So there you go. There are plenty of online/TV resources if you’re stuck at home and want to work out. I know Rebekah Sturkie is on YouTube if you don’t have Gaia.

And dangit, now I have no excuses, right? These people are just so personable that working out alone doesn’t feel so…alone.

Three cheers for learning how to use the remotes!

[This is not any kind of promotional post. I’m just trying to share what I found one morning when I wanted to work out at home. I’m sure there’s lots more out there, and I’ll share it as I come across it. Enjoy!]

On “Annie” and Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

I took the boys to see “Annie” tonight. I’d been tossing around the idea of taking them to the Big Apple Circus, which is an excellent circus (creative, funny, with all kinds of exciting acrobats, and they’re kind to animals and have sensory-friendly shows for people who can’t take a lot of noise and flashing lights and such).

But we’d missed all the “buy one get one free” ticket dates. And the last time we went, I was there to review it, which meant spectacular seats, which are not quite in the budget right now. Plus, I wasn’t up for schlepping the kids by T all the way into Boston, getting home late (or getting home right in time for an afternoon of soccer and T-ball with no time for lunch).

I was sorry to have to miss the circus, but then I found out the local middle school was putting on a performance of “Annie Jr.” tonight. I have no idea why it is called “Annie Jr.” It was basically “Annie,” the musical. I haven’t seen it since I was five or so (and no, I’m not going to do the math for you on how long ago that was), so maybe there’s more to the story, but let’s just call it “Annie.”

Of course I made the boys hit the bathroom before the show. And there was the “Boys’ Restroom” and “Girls’ Restroom” and then this:

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Yay, Ottoson Middle School!

 

We headed right for it.

The boys had some questions about this. Why did they have this bathroom, which was a good-sized single-room bathroom? Who would use it? Why would anyone need it if there’s a girls’ room and a boys’ room?

“Well,” I began, “some people might not feel comfortable in the boys’ bathroom or the girls’ bathroom.” Never mind the wheelchair accessibility issue, which I completely overlooked in this conversation; bathroom rights are on my mind.

“Why?” Max asked.

“Well, they just might not feel comfortable in there, or going to the bathroom in there.” Wow, I am lame.

“But why not?” Max persisted.

“Well,” I began again, “some people who are born as boys feel more like they are girls, and some people who are born as girls feel more like they are boys. And so they might not feel comfortable in a boys’ or girls’ bathroom.”

“Oh, you mean ‘transgender,'” said my wise second grader. “So a boy feels more like a girl.”

Right, thanks, yeah, that’s the word I was looking for, child.

“Yes,” I said. “Well, not exactly. It could be a girl who feels more like she’s a boy. Or someone who feels like they are either or neither, they’re a person without having to be a boy or a girl.”

And then, in a rush, I remembered the middle school years and all that might happen there — periods, having to take a dump at school, weird body stuff, whatever.

“Oh,” I added, “and sometimes people just want to be in the bathroom by themselves. Do you ever want to use the bathroom by yourself at school?”

My children looked confused. “No. Why would anyone want that?”

Nope. I am not going to get into early menstruation here.

“So where did you learn about transgender people? And do you have any questions about it?” They did not, and they ran off down the hall toward the theater. We’ll talk about it more another time.

And then we miraculously got pretty good seats in the middle school gym, and when we found out we still had another half-hour before showtime, we played tic-tac-toe and I bought the boys some candy and we had a grand old time. It’s nice to see them so happy.

When the show began — this middle school production easily on par with the community theater I once performed with up in Maine — the boys were mesmerized. I wasn’t sure they’d be into “Annie,” since they’re so into “Star Wars” and wars and battles and Nerf guns and are definitely not into singing and not entirely comfortable with dancing and here they were at an entire musical about little girls and everyone’s singing and dancing.

They loved it. They loved it all. They were as rapt as they’d been at the circus, in fact.

After intermission, as we waited for the second act to begin, Ben said, “This is boring!” and I tensed but then realized he meant the intermission.

Best part, maybe? He clapped. This is a kid who hates when I applaud at any event. It bugs him, and he tries to block my hands. Tonight? He clapped. After every song. And so did Max. They’d close up their push-pops (don’t judge) and applaud.

So. Congratulations, local middle school, for an excellent and full-hearted production. And extra congratulations, local middle school, for your gender neutral bathroom and the conversations it brings up.

Applause.

 

 

Without the Kids

We’re all still adjusting to the new schedule, but we’re coming along. Some things haven’t changed much: I still pick the kids up from school every day, for example. And we’re all together each weekend for T-ball and soccer, plus we all see each other on soccer practice nights during the week.

My first weekend without the kids, I kept busy. Very busy. I transformed my living room from an unlit space with merely a chair, a rug, and a TV to a warm, inviting, somewhat stylish place with a couch, a side table, lamps, and a plant (thanks, IKEA and the woman whose moving sale I happened across on my way home from a trail run!).

The weekdays are just busy, anyway, what with work and school pickup and trying to get done what I can and figuring out who has the cleats and which house has the favorite pajamas and do the kids have pants for tomorrow. Tonight felt like the first real night of being without the children.

I brought the boys to meet up with C at a sporting goods store to get baseball gloves for the boys (alas, C and I couldn’t find any for ourselves at a reasonable price). Then in the parking lot I handed over their backpacks, kissed them goodbye, and headed off. Without them. It was jolting and freeing but mostly, at the moment, jolting.

Stay busy. I went to the grocery store and then home. The night’s plan for a coconut curry veggie soup had to be postponed because I wanted to get to a meeting. My road running club is trying to find a new location for their annual ultra, and I want to participate.

But home alone, making dinner (well, reheating leftovers from when I grilled on Saturday night — and ask me if I have finally mastered the charcoal grill. Yes, yes, I have. I’m very proud of this after an adulthood of gas grilling), I felt a great aloneness. It wasn’t terrible. But I realized that so many people live alone all the time, not just part of the time. They eat all their meals alone. I know it can be satisfying sometimes, but that seemed a little lonely to me, to have to eat alone most of the time.

Me, I ended up pretty happy to eat dinner and read the paper and then brush my teeth and head out. Would I have been so sanguine if I didn’t have somewhere to go? I don’t know. I would have found something to do, I’m sure. But I’ve had constant chaos and noise and movement for the past almost eight years. For me, the quiet and the not-being-in-charge-of-everything is not terrible. It’s hard to talk about what all of this is really like without sounding disloyal or unmotherly or… let’s just say that as a Capricorn introvert, this new quiet in my home is interesting.

Yes, keeping busy is my M.O. for now, and that’s OK. There’s plenty of time for meditation later. It’s OK to stay busy as we get used to this.

I met the group to brainstorm possible race locations, discuss pros and cons, and figure out next steps. I met new people. I laughed. I was asked for my opinion. I came up with ideas. I felt useful and independent.

And then home again, home again. On my kid-free days I can leave home super-early to get to the gym before work, but tomorrow I might try to get to a 6 a.m. yoga class instead. I’m not sure that will quite be possible, as it’s more than a mile in the wrong direction.

I’m always lugging lots of stuff to work: gym stuff, my laptop, shower stuff and work clothes (for after the gym), breakfast and lunch (in reusable containers, of course, so I lug it all home again). That’s a lot of stuff to lug. I don’t mind, but I’m not sure I can add a yoga mat and bike helmet to it all.

So it’s off to the gym tomorrow, and I’ll probably meet my running club for the track workout tomorrow night, mostly because I can.

Being alone sometimes is OK.

 

I kind of hate big announcements.

Hey, blog readers, I’m going to tell you something personal.

I’m telling you because you read my blog. Maybe you’ve been a longtime reader, someone connected since my exceptionally open postpartum depression days, or someone who just stops by now and then. In any case, I know my blog has really sagged lately for many reasons: my kids want privacy, I share a lot on Facebook that I previously would have talked about here, I no longer want to share as much personal stuff as I once did. And I’m busy with work and kids and no longer prioritizing my blog as much as I used to.

Anyway, we’ve told family, we’ve told close friends (and oh, dear friends, if I haven’t yet told you, it’s not that you’re not “the closest,” but I have a LOT going on right now–you have no idea–and I love you, and let’s talk), and as last weekend we have told the children: C and I are separating, heading for divorce. In short, it’s been a long time coming. We are fine, the children are fine. we have support, and his new place is very close to our current place. He moved out today.*

We’re OK. Feel free to ask me what you want to (I reserve the right not to answer), and please feel free to reach out if you want to hang out sometimes on weeknights or the weekends on which I will not be with my children. Which will be both freeing and painful. I’m here. You know how to reach me. Thanks for reading.

*Mostly. It will be a little while before the new place is fully set up. You know.  Lots of beds and stuff to obtain. It’s OK. There’s no rush. We’re getting there.

 

Stonyfield Whole Milk Greek Yogurt (Review)

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I love yogurt (whole milk plain, always), but something about Greek yogurt always put me off. Maybe it’s because it’s usually fat-free. I believe we need some fat in our food. It’s good for our brains, for one thing. Plus, whole milk yogurt tastes better!

Fortunately, Stonyfield just came out with organic Whole Milk Greek Yogurt. It’s creamy. It doesn’t have that tangy smell. It has a smooth mouthfeel, mild taste, and is just delicious.

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The milk used in Stonyfield’s Whole Milk Greek Yogurt comes from cows that are pasture-raised. This doesn’t mean entirely grass-fed (Stonyfield also has a new Grass-Fed Yogurt), but the cows get some time in pasture, grazing on grass the way cows should.

Stonyfield sent me several flavors to try: plain, strawberry, cherry, and honey. Their whole milk Greek yogurt also comes in blueberry, but I didn’t try that one (which I don’t mind — I don’t really like blueberry). The fruit (or honey) comes in a little side cup so you can add as much or as little as you want. The ingredients list is simple, and the sugar content is low compared to other yogurt brands.

Very simple ingredients list. Milk, honey. Cultures.

Very simple ingredients list. Milk, honey. Cultures.

The kids and I agreed that the amount of honey given was more than necessary for us (but it is such good honey that my older boy asked if we could get this kind of honey from now on instead of the clover honey we bought last time). The strawberry is really good, and the cherry is divine. If I could get the cherry preserves separately, I’d be in heaven. I’d eat one spoonful of yogurt, one of cherry, one of yogurt, one of cherry. Or I’d mix them. Either way, I had to take the gracious maternal step of letting my child have the last cherry whole milk Greek yogurt instead of eating it myself.

There's one cherry yogurt left in the fridge. Somehow.

There’s one cherry yogurt left in the fridge. Somehow.

While these yogurts would be excellent in smoothies and for frozen yogurt and for baking with, I enjoyed just eating them. And I’d like to eat more of them. I’m really glad Stonyfield has a whole milk Greek yogurt now. And, of course, it’s organic and made with non-GMO products.

For more on their products, visit Stonyfield and connect with them on Facebook andTwitter.

Kaleidoscope at Boston Ballet: Review

Do you remember looking through a kaleidoscope, and the pattern starts out one way and then changes slightly as you turn it, and then with another small turn you are zeroing in on something tiny and perfect and magical, and then you give another turn and the colors are changing and then whoompf, it’s a veritable explosion of color and patterns and brightness and movement?

Whoever named Boston Ballet’s current show, Kaleidoscope, absolutely nailed it.

The show consists of four works of “the most influential choreographic voices of the 20th century.” The first piece is George Balanchine’s Kammermusik No. 2, a fairly technical ensemble piece with two couples as soloists. I admit I didn’t quite “get” this piece, though it was interesting in its own way.

1.Boston Ballet in George Balanchine's Kammermusik No. 2 ©The George Balanchine Trust; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in George Balanchine’s Kammermusik No. 2 ©The George Balanchine Trust; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in George Balanchine’s Kammermusik No. 2 ©The George Balanchine Trust; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

This was followed by the lovely Pas de Quatre by choreographer Leonid Yakobson, a lovely, romantic work featuring four ballerinas. With their hands clasped so they form a circle, they constantly move in and among and through each other, forming intricate, interlinked patterns with their arms. It’s graceful and extremely well-coordinated. There’s constraint to this piece, but it’s not uncomfortable, and it reminded me of a white rose garden with lovely bowers. (I keep using the word “lovely” here but it’s fitting, trust me.)

Boston Ballet in Leonid Yakobson's Pas de Quatre; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Leonid Yakobson’s Pas de Quatre; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Leonid Yakobson's Pas de Quatre; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Leonid Yakobson’s Pas de Quatre; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Next up — and ‘scuse me if I sat up straighter in my seat and downright grinned — was The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, William Forsythe’s critically acclaimed piece that premiered with the Boston Ballet last May (and I loved it then). With five dancers in purple and green costumes, this piece is fast, athletic, joyous, and free. It’s powerful, and between the choreography, the setting, and the costumes (the lily pad tutus!), what comes to mind are joy-crazed flowers. Very athletic, skilled, precise, and liberated joy-crazed flowers.

Ji Young Chae, Seo Hye Han, and Misa Kuranaga in William Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, costumes by Stephen Galloway; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Ji Young Chae, Seo Hye Han, and Misa Kuranaga in William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, costumes by Stephen Galloway; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Seo Hye Han, Paulo Arrais, and Ji Young Chae in William Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, costumes by Stephen Galloway; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Seo Hye Han, Paulo Arrais, and Ji Young Chae in William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, costumes by Stephen Galloway; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

What came next, to end the show, was the downright wild spectacle of Léonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne, “an effervescent ballet that evokes Moulin Rouge and Paris in the early 1900s.” Premiered in Berlin in 1938 (and made into a film in 1942, this piece takes place in an early-1900s Paris cafe (with a fabulous set, complete with lit-up Eiffel tower and a changing night sky). There are waiters, maids, “cocodettes” (“ladies of easy virtue,” according to the program), a baron, soldiers, a flower girl, a glove seller, a duke, and a lady. I might have left out a character or two; there was a lot going on. Besides the main plot (essentially, lots of flirtation and competition between the Austrian baron and the soldiers and such), there were several amusing vignettes taking place all over the stage — the billiards game, some tiff at a cafe table, a miffed waiter,and so on). And the costuming was an absolute explosion of color. Vivid shades of orange, red, green, yellow; polka-dots; stripes; hats, you name it. But I haven’t yet told you about the can-can. Yes, there are can-can dancers, too.

Boston Ballet in Léonide Massine's Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Léonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Léonide Massine's Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Léonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Léonide Massine's Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Léonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Anaïs Chalendard and Paul Craig in Léonide Massine's Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Anaïs Chalendard and Paul Craig in Léonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Patrick Yocum in Léonide Massine's Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Patrick Yocum in Léonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne; photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

I’m sorry I can’t give you a photo of the explosion of color on the stage, but there’s no press photo of that. You’ll just have to go see for yourself! And here’s a video, too.

There are only a few days left to see Kaleidoscope, which runs March 17–26, 2016 at the Boston Opera House. Go this weekend.

Details: 

Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Friday, March 25, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Saturday, March 26, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Saturday, March 26, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Tickets start at $35. For more information, visit www.bostonballet.org or call 617-695-6955.

Disclosure: I was given press tickets to facilitate this review. All quotes are provided by Boston Ballet unless otherwise specified. 

Yoga: Staying Grounded Despite the Music

I switched to a new yoga studio. It took me a while, but it’s a really comfortable place, and challenging, and joyful. One big difference from my old studio, though, is that the instructors play music during the practice. Not just background yoga-type music. The music has words. Mostly this is fine and background and unnoticeable, but there was a moment in a recent class when the instructor played Send in the Clowns during savasana — corpse pose, a restful pose you do at the end of class in which you basically completely relax onto your mat and just let your mind drift.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to let your mind float when the song playing makes you think of sad circus accidents, like trapeze artists falling to their death into the sawdust below and someone saying to call in the clowns to distract the crowd. That’s what I’ve always thought that song was about (right? I mean, isn’t that where the expression comes from?). It turns out the song not about that at all (sorry, Sondheim), but I didn’t find that out until after class, when I went home and looked it up.

Last week I zipped out to a morning yoga class. And I literally zipped: thanks to the lack of traffic (and lucky timing on the traffic lights), I made it door-to-door in four minutes flat on my bike.

It was a crowded, sweaty class. This class happened to be unheated, but it was so packed and vigorous that I was quickly dripping sweat. I was flowing, I was working, I was centered, I modified half pigeon so as not to irritate my grumpy outer hip muscles, and then Landslide came on and I came undone

The melancholy tone of that song has always made me feel a little sad, but that day in yoga it caught me by hard surprise, tears suddenly streaming down my face as I tried to control my breathing and be present in the practice.

Some of you know some parts of my life, and some of you know other parts, and different groups I’m in know bits and pieces, but in short, I am going through some hard stuff right now. My family is. We’re working hard – – and it will take a lot of work, is taking a lot of work. By this time next year — or probably a lot sooner — we will all be feeling much better and be much happier. We’re OK, and we’re going to be OK.

I don’t know about this music-during-yoga-class, though. It’s distracting sometimes. But the yoga and the community? It’s exactly what I need right now, odd song choices or not.

Why I Look Haggard

Here’s how a typical night goes for me, though there are many variations:

Lights out by 11 p.m.

Husband wakes up around 3 a.m., goes to the kitchen for a snack. The sound wakes me up.

He comes back to bed. Cat comes in meowing. I pretend I’m asleep. So does my husband. He ignores the cat, who’s keeping me awake. I ignore her too. She swats at my toes a few times and stalks out.

I hear her push open the door to the kids’ room and meow fruitlessly at them. She clicks across the hardwood to the living room.

My husband is snoring by now. I tell him he’s snoring. Sometimes I hiss at him or shove his shoulder to wake him but on this particular night I simply tell him. He stops snoring.

Now I can sleep again, but there’s the creak of a door and little footsteps and here comes a child to snuggle in with me. “Why are you in here?” I ask, even as he curls up against me and I pull the covers over him.

“I was too cold to get under the covers,” he murmurs. I tell him I can bring him back to his bed and will put the covers over him. He’s already asleep again in my arms.

It’s nice, this snuggling, but there is so much breathing in this room. Child’s breathing. Husband’s breathing. Here comes the damn cat again.

I don’t have the energy to carry the child back to his own bed, so I leave him in mine and get up and go crawl into his bed. But first I must move my cell phone and charger, so the alarm will wake me (hah!) and unplug the filter of the fish tank in the kids’ room, because the noise keeps me awake, and turn off their nightlight.

Ah, bed. I forgot his pillow is hard and hurts my jaw because I like to sleep on my stomach. I don’t have the energy to get up and get my own pillow.

Tick, tick, tick, tick. The wall clock. It is loud. I try to incorporate the sound into relaxing back to sleep.

I give up and check my phone. 4:26 a.m. I might still fall back to sleep. I won’t give up yet.

4:55 a.m. Furnace kicks on directly below me. I might still go back to sleep!

5:23 a.m. I give up. I just give up. I might as well get up now.

I get up. And let the cat out.

Hello, Monday.

 

Grandmother Camp: Feeling Like Myself

This morning I stayed in bed until 8:30 a.m., got up and read and ate Indian food for breakfast (while reading at the table), then cleaned in peace. Once my husband got up, I blasted Tom Waits and kept on cleaning.

I feel more like myself than I have in years. I think the music helps. I haven’t listed to this album (Mule Variations) in years, and it’s one of my favorites. I hadn’t realized how much room the kids take up in so many ways, including expressing opinions on music, and they and my husband tend to control what we listen to .

Of course, I play the radio in the car, which is why my kids sing the line “Hey, sexy lady!” from “Gangnam Style” and know most of the words to “Hotline Bling” and “Exes and Ohs.” 

This week was school vacation week, and my kids were home. Home, home, home. I might remind you that I work from home. Home, home, home.

I had some childcare set up, mostly so I wouldn’t have to drag the kids to my first dry needling appointment, but she had to cancel due to a death in her boyfriend’s family (there have been a lot of deaths this past week, sadly). So I ended up bringing them to the appointment, with an iPad for one boy and my phone for the other, with instructions for them to set timers and trade devices after 20 minutes.

Yes, I would have loved it if they’d sat quietly reading books, or coloring or something, but I was going to be face-down with 25 needles in my butt and hip and really needed to know for sure that they’d stay occupied. And they were occupied. I could barely get them to look up when I said, “Hey kids, Mommy is a porcupine-butt! Look!” Wouldn’t you have looked up immediately?

They eventually did look, with expressions of awe, and I will pay for their therapy bills later, I promise.

I somehow met my deadlines, though Wednesday was a tense day, and Thursday morning, by prior arrangement, I delivered them to my mother (for what one of my brothers refers to as “Grandmother Camp”).

Until this week, I haven’t been without the children since…..since sometime last summer? For one night, maybe? And as I’ve been working from home since October, I have had so much time with them. We have no after school childcare for now, so it’s all me.

These past couple of days, though the house was oddly quiet, I have been very relaxed. Incredibly relaxed. I think I’m in a constant state of tension the rest of the time. And I was able to work until the unheard-of hour of 6 p.m., two days in a row, instead of having to wrap up at 2 p.m. as usual (I may have shocked my editor with how much I got done). I went out to dinner with a friend, spent an evening reading, watched a movie with my husband when we wanted to instead of having to wait for the kids to be asleep, and then enjoyed this morning’s peace.

We’re going to pick them up very soon, but this was a good reminder of what it feels like to be me.