Good Food Hunting 2.0

TL;DR: I haven’t posted here in 10 years. A lot has changed. Since COVID-19 busted up our lives, I’ve been spinning mindless along like the hamster in his cage. I recently realized that I had to get back to writing about things that interest me to find my way and save me from myself. So, I’m back on the hunt.


On Nov. 4th, 2012 I started a post intending to reboot this blog. It’s still in draft with nothing more than a title almost a year later. a long ass time later. My husband recently pointed out that my last actual post was 10 years ago.

I keep renewing my domain, I start up drafts and add notes to myself about recipe posts but life keeps getting in the way. You see, a few things happened on the way to October 2021.

In October 2011, I surprised Chris with a trip to the Smoky Mountains for his birthday. On the drive home, we had a big fight because he was back seat driving -literally sitting in the back seat with the gps, telling me where to go and I missed the exit so we had to drive all the way around Columbus in rush hour traffic. I kind of wanted to pull ‘a dad’ and stop the car and kick his ass out on to the shoulder. I was definitely having a hormonal moment.

The day after we returned, I took a pregnancy test. On June 17th, 2012, Father’s Day as it happens, Sam arrived:

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I’ll spare you the birth story but as you might expect, a period of sleep deprivation ensued then after 3 months I went back to work. What comes after sleep deprived? Words fail after months of up 3 times a night, the chronic daycare cold afflicting both parents and kid, teeth and the drool. So much drool. With my two hours spent commuting (oh yeah, between the last post and the one previous to that, we’d moved to Flint from Lansing, buying our first house), I had lots of dreams of cooking and blogging and knitting and being social but no real opportunity or energy to actually do those things.

And now this draft of 2.0 has sat here untouched since Fall 2013. Because about 2 months after I started this post, I had a funny episode while Chris was on a work trip. And when I told him about it on the phone, he made a joke. And I remembered the last time I had a funny episode. So the next day I went to the drugstore near work and bought another pregnancy test. Okay, I bought a 3 pack.

It was early December, I had just celebrated my 39th birthday and we were still very much in the “let’s try for another baby” phase. Just testing the waters – it took a long time the first go round so we had low expectations.  HA HA HA HA HA

As soon as I took the test (just one of the three), I called my doctor and got a blood test drawn. I think I knew even from that first test. Chris was due back the end of the week and I wanted confirmation before he arrived home as I hadn’t told him about my lunch run the day after the episode. When you have a blood test, they give you a hCG level, a measure of the hormones in your blood that can sometimes indicate how pregnant you are. My number was normal for a 7-weeks pregnant person with a normal cycle but I knew my cycle wasn’t normal – I was tracking things and had only stopped nursing Sam in early October. My math said 4 weeks along. All signs pointed to Baby #2. Saw the doctor in person and they scheduled me for an ultrasound at 12 weeks in mid-February.  I called the ultrasound facility myself, afterwards, because I just felt like the dates were off.

OH!

January 17, 2014.  I settle on the table at the ultrasound facility, get a dollop of nicely warmed gel on my belly and the technician places the wand.  She doesn’t have the big screen up yet so we can’t see what she sees.

OH!

I knew, the minute she said that with a bright and cheery tone – there was more than one baby.  As I suspected the moment I peed on a stick in the bathroom at work “too early for an accurate result”, really felt strongly about when I heard my beta level at what I knew as 4 weeks, not 7 and thought was probably my fate, based on my family history and my age, we were having twins.

“Are you kidding me? Are you pulling my leg?” Chris was in a state of disbelief, as if she would joke about something like that. He didn’t feel much better when I wisecracked about “just two, right?” – this was shortly after a woman in Chicago expecting triplets ended up with quadruplets when they “found” a 4th baby during delivery. Every appointment after, he asked if there were still just two.

July 16, 2014

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Aveline Anne Libelle and Genevieve Louise Cirrus – named after great-grandmothers, grandmothers and airplanes arrived with the dawn on July 16, about 5 1/2 weeks early, and a week before I was “ready” to take leave at work. After a short stay for growing and jaundice treatment, they let these two bitty babies (both under 5 lbs) come home with us. Even with two babies and a just-turned 2 year old, this felt a little bit easier than with Sam. Or I’ve just blocked it all out. I even made this amazing dish one night shortly after going back to work: ravioli with a light creamy maple sauce and crisp pancetta on top. I said it was from Casa della Cucina on Facebook and people were asking for the address of this new restaurant. I’d embraced the ever changing life.

Time keeps on slipping

2014-Present: A few more things changed: we moved to Brighton, selling our house in Flint just days before the government admitted the water had been lead contaminated (but not before the corrosive river water destroyed our boiler 6 days before closing!); I traded one 45 minute commute for another and my job changed though I still work with the Super Friends at the Hall of Justice; kids got bigger: Sam started kindergarten and the girls followed two years later. We were fortunate to move next door to a family with kids the same age as ours and even more fortunate that they all generally get along. I’m even a Girl Scout leader with the mom! In October 2019, I leverage a long summer of solo parenting to live a dream: traveling to Greece for 2 weeks, visiting Athens, Crete, Santorini and Mykonos. Without my kids. Without my husband. With a good friend whom I traveled quite nicely with and who loves trying new foods as much as me. So much tzatziki. And wine and spirits, amazing views and relaxation. And walking and stairs (!). I thought about food a lot and writing but so many other things bubbled over that I never put words on paper.

Then on March 13, 2020, the world hit pause starting with a 5 AM phone call canceling school for “a few weeks.”


Today is March 597th, 2020

Or maybe that’s October 18, 2021. In a truly full circle moment, 10 years to the day since I first learned I was pregnant with the future baby known as Sam.

As with those early newborn days, aka the 4th trimester, our lives became about survival following that first planned shut down: I went to work for another few days knowing that the order to stay home for state employees was happening “soon.”

Once we realized that school was not going back after spring break – that summer vacation effectively started now, in early April, we tried to make schedules to keep the kids’ brains from rotting and our sanity in check. I made masks, we didn’t see anyone but the neighbors for months and my parents on rare occasions. I tried to be creative and pick up a new hobby or two. I made big plans to get out and exercise more. I was going to start cooking more fun stuff, take more pictures, turn the dumpster fire of late-winter 2020 into a great start to a great decade. It was going to be great, a real pinterest dream.

But I didn’t do any of that. I just kept surviving. So many meals of spaghetti and mac and cheese and chicken nuggets. I’d get inspired every once in a while but the cooking mojo was generally dormant, no sign of lava or even much steam venting. No summer camp in 2020 meant my kids were home pretty much every day from March 13 until school went back after Labor Day. And thank all the heavens and gods – we went back for real! Many districts started out or stayed virtual for the year. Some friends opted for homeschool or the 100% virtual program but Chris and I both knew that was not going to work for us. Two full time jobs and 2 first graders plus a 3rd grader on a laptop is no way for a kid to learn. I admire deeply the families that did it. We had one virtual day a week and it was a good bet that neither of the girls would get their work done before the 4pm “deadline”.

There were some signs of normal-ish life thankfully. Girl Scouts had a few outdoor events, we even managed to meet as a troop (in a garage) for most of the winter. Christmas and Spring Break were spent at Grandma’s in Florida. Then came vaccination and miraculously, I noticed my phone had 5g for the first time ever after my first shot. Okay, this had more to do with moving up to a new Pixel after my phone went for a deep dive in the lake at Camp Linden the week prior. Free life lesson: do not go in a canoe with your phone in your back pocket, especially if it vibrates when people call or message. Chris went to Florida for work a lot. Necessary but I spent an increasing amount of time solo pandemic parenting.

Finally, it was June 2021 and we’d made it through the school year. I hoped life would start to feel less like a hamster wheel, running and running but the scene never changes. Our summer camp stayed closed for a 2nd year so we decided to send Chris and the kids to his mom’s in Tampa for weeks at a time. Mask mandates were lifting, I finally got to see my best friend and we ate in a real restaurant: sit down and waitstaff and fancy drinks. Small steps towards the new normal.

Now it’s October. Nineteen months since we heard about this virus. I feel like I’m in a strange vortex where everything is blurry and I can’t tell if it’s because it’s all moving really slowly or super fast. A few weeks ago, I met some co-workers for lunch. We are all still working remote and will be for the foreseeable future; forever if some of the developers have their way. I’m an introvert but I do need some type of social interaction beyond my family. I need my nerd/geek/ children’s of the 80s peeps to talk pop culture with. The ones who get the joke when my weather app says “that’s no moon!”

Then, a couple weeks ago, before going on another business trip, Chris was looking at this blog. And commented on the 10 years since I’d written a thing. And then he left me to solo parent for 10 days, again. I started thinking. I logged in to WordPress. I changed the theme because why not. I wrote down a bunch of thoughts. Deleted a lot of them. Remembered that I like writing – and not just about food and the work writing I do. Realized that I need it – the non-work writing. Decided to keep writing, probably about food a lot but not always. Don’t worry, if I include a recipe, I’ll always give you the jump link. 


 

I finished this post. Here’s to new beginnings or begin agains.

Summer Vacation 2021 – Upper Peninsula with the shoes-optional kids.

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