Tag Archives: single parenting

Five Nights/Six Days

My babies left tonight. I dropped them off on a chilly soccer field as it was growing dark. I hugged and kissed them goodbye on the way there, because I’m aware of what’s socially acceptable for these boys. And after I waved goodbye, the older one ran after me for a final hug.

We’ve had six days and five nights of bliss together. Normally our schedule is 2-2-3, meaning two nights with me, two with their father, three with me (including a weekend), then it switches: two nights with him, two with me, three with him (including a weekend).

It’s a lot of going back and forth. And it’s hard. And it’s hard to keep track, sometimes — “Whose night is it tonight, Mama?”

But this long stretch? It was gorgeous. Relaxed. The three of us were calm and happy. There were none of the usual transition challenges, no anger, no tough behavior, no fighting between the boys that didn’t also involve a lot of laughter. We all just settled in happily for our extra days together, and it’s been beautiful.

There were two days of school, of course (today was a holiday — Happy New Year!). And they got to choose what we had for dinner (“Sloppy joes!”, declared one, but the other wanted a burger, but since both involve ground beef and buns, everyone got what they asked for). They did their homework. We had hilarious drawing sessions. They made a new neighborhood friend and spent hours outside with him (and other kids). We ordered pizza in the next town and wandered around in the rain waiting for our dinner to be ready. We finally had our first movie night in this new apartment.

We bought pumpkins and made lunches together and went to the trampoline park with friends. We spent a few hours in the woods, hiking and climbing around and listening to a red-tailed hawk screaming in the distance. We lounged around together on the couch, all in a pile, laughing and sometimes reading. Some mornings I woke up to find both or just one in my bed, snuggled against me. Other mornings, I woke alone, finding they’d stayed in their own beds all night, warm and snug.

They’re gone now, at their father’s for the next two nights. Their room is dark and empty, and the apartment is quiet. I kept up on the dishes like a pro for the past many days, but now that the boys are gone I’ve already fallen into a kind of ennui and the sink is already piled up. I don’t care. I’ll have the place clean and tidy before they return.

For now, I just listen to the crickets outside, all of my apartment dark except for the kitchen, and feel so, so glad my boys and I had a long stretch of time together. We all needed it.

 

Back on the (Running) Horse

I’ve become a total slacker, not running, barely going to yoga or weekly (just weekly!!) boot camp. Except for the magical Loon race, I really haven’t been running.

It’s a mix of being unmotivated, lazy, and rather taken over by the apartment hunt (nothing yet). Plus, the heat! I am personally responsible, however, for ending our heat wave in the Northeast, and you’re welcome. How did I do it? I singlehandedly lugged home a borrowed air conditioner, hauled it in, and installed it in the kids’ room, all on my own, without crushing my feet, cutting a finger, or dropping it out the window. I am a total rockstar. And that feat literally broke the heat wave, overnight.

I clearly have superpowers.

But anyway. I can’t run in the heat. Not like I’m a wimp, but I had a heatstrokey experience a few years ago (heat exhaustion, heat-related illness, what have you, I don’t know the proper term — let me just say it was Rather Bad), and since then I tolerate heat/humidity even less well than I did before, and so a recent afternoon running-in-the-heat attempt turned into a mere two-miler that left me beet red, dry-skinned, superhot, and feeling chilled. Yeah. I don’t sweat well. So. I officially give up trying to work out when it’s hot and humid.

While I’d made my peace with becoming one with my chair/sofa, I also know that I need goals. And my planned September 50-miler can’t happen, because I haven’t been running. Time to get off my ass and do something about this before I melt into a sad puddle of endorphin-less squish.

Oh, I love the endorphins.

Plus, with so many things in my life up in the air right now, I need something regular to count on and to do for myself that’s positive. Also, I “met” this woman while training for my ultra last December (we only met online, ran the race near each other [me somewhere behind her], and still haven’t met in person), and she’s very inspiring. She’s been training hard, recently won a 50K, and posts all her training online. I love following it (she’s also a vegan and posts pics of her meals — also inspiring). And it has inspired me to get off my ass and get back out there.

So I finally downloaded a marathon training plan, pinned it to my wall, and am sticking to it. I downloaded some new tunes to my iPod (a healthy mix of Sia and Highly Suspect, if you must know) and knocked out five miles today. Alone. Happily, even. With some box jumps on a big rock near the end of the run.

Race plan:

  • July: Mudderella (5-mile mud/obstacle race, pure fun)
  • September: Trail half marathon, followed two weeks later by a road half marathon
  • December: Trail ultra (yes, will use the marathon plan to get my mileage up and then build up from there)

 

It's just an intermediate training plan, but i's a good way to get my mileage back up.

It’s just an intermediate training plan, but i’s a good way to get my mileage back up.

Seriously, the new songs helped a lot. I haven’t updated my playlist in four years. Ugh. No wonder I don’t want to run!

And the half marathons on the training plan sync perfectly with a local half on a weekend I don’t have the kids (win-win!). However, I’m not sure how I will manage my weekend runs when they’re here. Make them bike alongside? For 14 or 20 miles?? Remains to be seen. I might have some 4 a.m. weekday runs in my future. We’ll see. I will definitely have to tweak the training based on when I have the kids, but I’ll get it all done and mark it all off as I go.

Plus, right above this training plan on the corkboard is this delightful drawing by Ben, which I love so much:

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I think he was four when he drew it, and while it looks as though Max might be about to take a swig, if I recall correctly he’s poised to throw something at Ben, according to the artist — who might be holding a self-defense rock in the drawing, come to think of it. Sweet, sweet children (no, seriously, they are — JUST THIS WEEK they started playing board games together, checkers mostly, and this morning Max was teaching Ben to play chess! You have no idea how much pure joy this brings me).

What are you training for? Who or what inspires you? How do you get off your butt when you’re becoming one with your chair?

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?