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Posts from the Mornings Category

Pssst . . . want some candy? Seriously. No pressure. Just a little . . . it’s good shit. I would know. Chances are . . . you’re right there with me, every morning, with a drug of choice. And for my addiction, I blame a very, very slick marketing campaign.

In college, I bought a little four-cup coffee maker and dutifully made a cup when I really needed it: exams, the morning after a party, maybe if I got up really early. But a regular cup of coffee every fucking morning? No way. I knew better. Caffeine was a drug. Enter Folger’s “Jump Start Your Brain” campaign. In the late ’80s, coffee was losing ground to soda in a big way. Soda was cheaper than ever (thank you high fructose corn syrup – rant for another time), and coffee was fighting for its life. And Miami University presented the perfect testing ground for what Folger’s hoped would be its secret weapon: flavored creamers. That’s right – I went to college before flavored creamers were available. I can almost here the whispers now, “Wait . . . French vanilla double whip cream hasn’t always been in the frig? WTF!” but it’s true. And so, Folger’s would bring 50-gallon pillars of coffee to dorms every night, replete with baskets and baskets of flavored creamers. “We’re just helping the kids study,” was the default message that Folger’s would use. Meanwhile, they knew they had a captive audience (no car campus, isolated in the middle of no where), and they made a generous donation to the University. Win-win?

Try addiction-addiction. The first thing to change? Get a better coffee maker because that crappy assed coffee maker wasn’t cutting it. Four cups? Bitch, I have flavored creamers. Flavored creamers! But, hey, Folgers had partnered with Mr. Coffee to sell a nice “sneak-a-cup” coffee maker for only $8. The next thing to change was the reservation about coffee. No longer was it saved for special occasions. Every morning like clockwork. And without it? Holy crap . . . I was a raving lunatic. And after a few years, and two kids, the morning cup became two or three or just give me the damn pot!

Try cutting out your coffee intake cold-turkey, and you’re virtually asking for someone to murder you because no caffeine equals irritability, crankiness, headaches to rival migraines from hell, upset stomach. Sounds like the side effects from a new drug for an unknown disease. And here’s the pisser. You willingly started using caffeine in the first place. And for some reason, you think you’ll be better off without it, but god forbid you do it the right way – cutting out a little bit each week – because the side effects can’t be that bad. You’re basically giving up you’re rights to be treated like a sane person for a week of so.

But you persevere and get up morning after morning and move smugly past the coffee maker. You don’t even look at your mugs anymore. You even get a little cocky and think that you might sell some of those bad boys at a yard sale. But then one night, you have a small piece of tiramisu and realize that you’ve been missing the taste of coffee. And the next morning, you make a small cup . . . just one. You savor the last drop. Think of licking the side to get that drip. And the next morning, you make another but a little stronger this time. Before you know it, you’re hooked. Because like an addict, you’re either in recovery or knee deep in addiction.

Oh, coffee, I wish I knew how to quit you.

Start your day with a morning cuppa? Or are you a more refined tea drinker? Perhaps you like to wash down your vitamins with an ice, cold diet Coke. Maybe you scoff at my weakness . . . so what gets your mornings going? Because without my travel mug of coffee, I’m a straight up bitch. And I can admit that.

One of my biggest pet peeves in the morning is having to smell people’s morning breath.  We’re a lovey dovey bunch so we’re up close and personal – in each other’s laps, slobbery kisses being exchanged – you get the picture.  But it seems that the older they get, the worse the morning breath is.  It’s really a shame.  I remember well the sweet, milky scent of their babyhood and how I wished they would always smell that pure first thing in the morning.  Reality check:  even the 2.5 year old has joined the realm of making mama’s eyes tear up (and not in a good way).

This morning I asked them all to brush their teeth before leaving the house.  A while later I asked if everyone had done as I’d asked.  They all responded with an enthusiastic yes.  My next request was for them to let me smell their breath.  I knew what the results would be.  It was a total set up.  I had my camera ready and this is what I captured.  2 out of 3 knew the gig was up.  The youngest is still too innocent to get it.  He hadn’t brushed either, but couldn’t wait to give me a whiff.

Here’s three things about me.  One, I love a hearty breakfast.  I survived college by working as a waitress in a breakfast-heavy restaurant.  Incidentally, I almost lost my mind in college because of said restaurant.  Two, if a recipe has wacky ingredient combos, I’ll force my family to eat it at least once.  My BIL still asks, “Did you hide veggies in this banana bread?”  Three, I love the kitsch of Elvis.  Graceland is a beautiful example of Americana.  One morning in March, all three got smooshed up together.  Rachael Ray’s Elvis Short Stack.  Pancakes filled with bacon and bananas smeared with a peanut and maple syrup laced butter.  I’m guessing that a lot of people would be disgusted by this recipe, but would also be curious.  So I took one for the team.

My kids aren’t patient when it comes to breakfast.  The amount of time it takes to pour cereal into a bowl is the length I get to put breakfast in front of them.  Anything longer and I start to hear groggy whines.  I hate groggy whines.  But I figured the recipe was interesting enough to put up with it.  In the end, the boys were less than satisfied and bacon infused pancakes weren’t Mark’s thing.  I couldn’t force him to take a bite.  I think the bacon fat mixed in with the batter was a little too much.  Yes, dear readers, bacon fat doesn’t make the world better.  I wish the salty bacon married with the sweet syrup a little more.  The butter was delicious and I saved the extra for regular pancakes.  If you know a huge Elvis fan, it might be a fun dish to serve them.    Next weekend, I’m sticking to cereal.  Or normal pancakes with a side of bacon.

Elvis Short Stacks

Rachel Ray March 2012

6 slices of bacon

1/4 C. plus 2 T. of salted roasted peanuts

4 T. unsalted butter

2 1/2 T. maple syrup, plus more for serving

1 1/2 C. of flour

1/2 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

1 C. Plain yogurt

2 eggs

2 small bananas, cut into tiny pieces

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp.  Drain and reserve 2 T. of the fat.  When cool, crumble the bacon.

Use a food processor to coarsely chop the peanuts.  Reserve 2 T., then finely chop the remaining nuts.  Add the butter and 1 1/2t. of maple syrup.  Puree.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Make a well in the center; whisk the yogurt, eggs, 1/2 C. water, 2 T. syrup, and reserved bacon fact until smooth.  Fold in the bananas and bacon.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and lightly grease it.  Drop 1/3 C. of batter onto the skillet.  Cook until the surface bubbles about 3 minutes.  Flip and cook until golden, 1 minute.  Transfer to plate and keep warm.

Spread some of the peanut butter, drizzle with more syrup, and sprinkle peanuts.

Channel the King.

Skritch. Scratch. Skritch.

These are the sounds that I hear as I lay, not quite awake, hoping they’ll stop. They don’t. I know what they are. My 8 month old is on his belly grabbing handfuls of sheets, probably marveling at his hands and his own ability to use them. It’s only a matter of time until he grabs a handful of my hair and yanks. I’m just conscious enough to sweep my hair away from him. I lay squeezed in next to him telling myself ‘it’s the middle of the night. He’ll go back to sleep.’ I pause. Silence. I exhale. DADADA. My eyes involuntarily pop open and I see two big blue eyes and a big smile looking back at me.

Damn. Cute, but damn. I grab him, shift my weight over, and pull him to the other side. Then I try nursing. If it is the middle of the night that’ll eventually work and he’ll drift off to sleep. I feel him latch and again I feel relief flood over me.

It only lasts a second. He pops off to continue his narrative DADADA. I have a sneaking suspicion that despite my hopes otherwise, that my day is about to begin. In about 2.5 seconds his older brother is there, beside him. This boy takes some serious work to wake up on school days. Otherwise? All it takes is a peep.

About 2.5 minute after that- the cat joins us (she’s obese, it takes her awhile). I’m still struggling to get my eyes open. This is my morning, most days.

We make approximately 453,672 parenting decisions and for the most part I stand behind mine with unwavering conviction- probably to a fault. This one, however, the decision to cosleep, this one was the hardest one I’ve had to come to terms with. On paper I should be all about cosleeping- I’m the natural birthin’, baby-wearing, cloth diapering, extended breastfeeding type- cosleeping is just one more to add to the pile. Yet somehow this one seemed to come with the most pushback, the most judgment, and the most unsolicited feedback about how I was doing irrevocable harm to my child, and I was wholly unprepared for that. The first time around I spent years agonizing over it; I was told he would never self soothe, that he’d be in our bed until he was a teenager. It was all we could do though. it was the only way he (and we) could sleep. I lost pediatricians and friends over it. It made me constantly question my ability to parent “correctly.” It helped make that first year- a year that would have been difficult regardless- perhaps the hardest one in my life.

But now- now the oldest is in his own bed, in his own room, and I’m feeling confident in my ability, and my right, to tell people to shove it.  It works for us, and if I’ve learned anything it’s that that’s all the reason I need. So a family bed we have. A happy, cramped, hilarious, frustrating, family bed. What about you? If you have (or had) little ones around, do your mornings start out with an elbow or two in the eye? Are you a “nightmares only” kind of house? Or is it no way, no how, not in my bed? I promise I won’t judge either way- I’ve had enough of my share to go around.*

*unless your kids are sleeping in dog crates, then I’ll probably judge

My ideal morning would include:

  • a head of hair that does not make me look like a rabid werewolf
  • a toddler that does not forcibly shove both hands into my bra for a fondle (I swear, boobs are their crack)
  • kids who keep their voices down until I’m fully awake (like, completely off…preferably)
  • breakfast that makes itself

But for now I have this:

  • a hubster who pours my coffee and hugs me nice-nice before leaving for work
  • Netflix to entertain the kids for a bit while I check e-mail and caffeinate
  • bobby pins to hold my hair back so that I look semi-human
  • a big kid who, on occasion, takes the lead and makes eggs for the whole crew

What’s on your simple wish list this morning?

If you know me at all, you know I love the city streets.  The noise is soothing to me.  I find myself there again and again and again.  I see myself reflected on the faces of the people I meet.  I wander the back alleys and the garage rooftops.  I watch and listen.

I particularly love being downtown in the morning as it comes alive.  A harmony of sights and sounds unfolds.  I watch the street sweepers.  I hear snippets of conversation as people pass by.  I smell coffee brewing at my favorite local cafe.  Camera in hand, I walk on, capturing the rhythm of my city.

Would you share with me the rhythm of your city in the morning?

During the week, my alarm goes off about 4:45 AM. Sure, I hit snooze one, maybe two times. In the past, I’ve been known set the alarm on Dave’s dresser, the alarm on my phone, and possibly a back-up to the one on my phone. Hell, for a while, I used a math alarm clock, which forced me to solve various math problems in order to shut off the alarm. You try figuring out what (7×9)+23 with an alarm blaring only to solve it wrong and start all over from scratch. It’s truly a wonder that I didn’t chuck the fucking phone against the wall the first time I tried to solve one with exponents.And after I’m awake, it’s the same cycle weekday in, weekday out.

But weekends? Weekends mean no alarms unless I’m desperate. They allow me to wake up the way that I want, which is with my head firmly resting on Dave’s shoulder. Usually I leave an ear print . . . or drool . . . or both. The beauty is Dave just lets me sleep instead of pushing me off or rolling over. And he never goes back to sleep himself. At this point, my sleep is only broken by one thing: the cat.

See, the thing is a cat is even more of a creature of habit than I am. Like it or not, I’m up and downstairs Monday through Friday by 6 AM. And because of that, the cat is fed about 6:15 AM. But on the weekends, she’s getting pissed about 6:30 AM, and if she’s not fed by 7 AM, all shit will hit the fan. Imagine peacefully slumbering, snuggled next to the man you love, in the middle of a good dream usually involving Matt Damon, knitting, and winning the lottery . . . perfect, right? Then, the cat jumps onto the dresser and pawing the piss out of the mirror. Sounds kinda like a loose shutter in the middle of a G-4 tornado. Shush the cat off the dresser, and she’s back in five minutes, repeating the whole thing. Guess that means I have an alarm clock with fur . . . crap.

I pretty much live for weekends, for that one extra block of time that can recharge my whole damn week. How do your weekend mornings go? Anything spectacular or are yours more low-key? Do you use an alarm clock or just rely on the sun? And even though it’s just Tuesday, I can’t wait for a few extra hours next Saturday.

*Thank you iPhone . . . because I’m still not ready to sleep with my camera

this past weekend was  a long one (in a good way). matt isn’t teaching at the art center right now, which means our weekend seemingly starts on thursday. it felt like the first full weekend of spring, too. it was a weekend that perfectly balanced laziness with productiveness.  slightly sleeping in, chalk painting, too many trips to the home improvement store, aka hell (but, 5 years later and our new kitchen windows finally have screens!!), i started and  finished reading bossypants, unpacking the summer clothes and stashing the winter clothes that have a chance of still fitting on the next go round.  considering i’ve gained 10 pounds (i’m lying. it’s closer to 15) since last summer and feel like a sausage when i try to stuff myself into the shorts from last summer, the odds are looking bad for me, but lets not go there now.

instead, we’ll go here.
friday we had a lazy day because there was no school and matt was at the studio working on a sculpture. i did my thing (laundry) and the kids did their thing. eating. coloring. and playing who ate the fart. bea usually wins because she’s the one that started this game and she’s the one that farts the most, so she gets her thumb to her forehead first and tips off everyone else. it’s really a lot of fun when you are out to eat at a restaurant  and she yells out, “YOU ATE THE FART!” and points at you. for the record, i rarely lose at this game, so i’m usually not the one getting singled out. (hint: it’s usually matt).

saturday was a trip to the home improvement store for window screens, plants and finding out you can’t buy a screen door for sliding glass doors that costs less than $800 and isn’t a piece of shit. they all fall apart by the end of the season. the one that costs $800 might too, but i am for sure not going to find out. and if you thought i was the one that had the inevitable meltdown at the home improvement store, you would be wrong. it was this guy.  (and i don’t blame him. that place sucks when you’re dragging your unwilling children around with you).

bea has napped maybe once in the past week so she’s sleeping in a bit later than usual. i think this is a good thing, but some days i need her to take a nap. this gets more difficult as the weather gets nicer because i feel bad having her nap when it’s so beautiful out. i think i’ll be opting for lazy mornings watching cartoons on the kindle rather than resting for an hour or so in the afternoon.

of course, there will be days in the near future when we’re exhausted by 11:00, the heat will be unbearable and we’ll retreat into my room (the coolest on those cruel days) and the lazy cartoon watching will occur in the afternoons. it’s crazy to me how close those days are.

this morning i spent an embarrassing amount of time  removing those weird gray hairs that are thick and crazy looking and stick up  right where my hair naturally parts. i’m not that vain when it comes to gray hair (yet), but those crazy stray ones that stick up really bother me. i love women  who have that gorgeous silver gray hair. but, i’m not ready to love me with that color hair (yet).  (you either got this teeny tiny rant or the long one about having to shave my legs and armpits every other damn day now that it’s 80+ degrees outside).  ***also, please disregard the puffy bed face. i had only been awake for about 8 minutes. it’s amazing i don’t have pillow creases and dry, crusted drool on my face.***

we wrapped up our long weekend by having our friend joe over for breakfast and eating a delicious meal of eggs, spinach, goat cheese, potatoes and red peppers (courtesy of matt), drinking pots of coffee, gardening and  our one thousandth game of  “YOU ATE THE FART!”. (it wasn’t me. i swear.)

how did you spend your weekend?

Having a kitty in the house has increased the amount of times I wake up yelling, “you fucker!” by 340598340598340985%.

My mornings used to be relatively peaceful and slow moving. All my kids are out of the intense “get up and gogogogogogogo!!!!” ages of 0-6. They are independent in the kitchen, meaning, they can scrounge together basic meals for themselves without images of a severed finger or burned limb popping up in my mind. They love sleeping in and I love sleeping in, so we all sleep in whenever possible. Finally, I thought to myself, finally I’ve reached the golden age of mornings with my kids!

And then we got a kitty.

I’m not a cat person, so ever having one was never on my “To Do” list of possibilities. But then we were traveling through Utah when our beloved shih tzu was hit by a car and died. Not knowing what to do in that situation, I made a bunch of frantic calls to pet businesses in the area to see how they would handle a sudden tragic death and the resulting dog body that I needed to take care of. A wonderful woman who runs a dog kennel in the mountains came to my rescue and put Frito Bandito in her pet cemetery. While there, my youngest daughter found a little kitten. The wonderful woman told us that the kitten’s entire family had been attacked and killed by raccoons or something. As if we weren’t crying enough.

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So I didn’t make my daughter put her down, we didn’t leave her in Utah, and that wasn’t the end of the story. We brought her home with us, which in this case meant smuggling her into Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for a previously planned weekend there first.

You’d think that such a cute little thing would be so grateful that we saved her poor little life by rescuing her, that she would cuddle and love and purr and snuggle with us forever.

Instead, she’s turned out to be quite a fucker.

At first we named her “Kit Kat”. That was before we knew her personality. We changed it to “Honey Badger” when we realized she doesn’t give a shit. She just wants what she wants. I guess cats are known for this kind of attitude…but never having a cat and until very recently owning a dog, this has been quite a shock.

She has completely changed my mornings.

First, she stalks me all night. While I’m sleeping in bed. You can imagine, there’s not much to “stalk” until my hand drops to the side of the bed, or my arm drapes itself outside of under the covers. Honey Badger is quiet and still until those things happen, and then springs into action the second she sees bare skin. Claws, teeth, tongue…I feel it all. But her very very favorite thing to do is sit on the bed from 4-7 am and wait to pounce on one of the most sensitive areas of the human body…the foot/toes. I give you exhibit A…the 4 stages of toe stalking:

observe, get into position, focus, pounce like a motherfucker. Do this over and over and over again until about 7:30 am, at which point stop, realize how tiring it is being such a bitch kitty, and go to sleep on top of the person you’ve been stalking all night. Position yourself in ways that makes it impossible for her to get up to pee.

Make loud purring noises that perfectly balance the teeth grinding of the littlest human sleeping next you you.

Smile at how clever you are.

It would seem that my good morning decreases in direct proportion to Honey Badger’s enjoyment of them.

It would seem that my golden age of easy breazy mornings is now over.

i am  not a morning person. therefore, i will not, nor will i ever be the mom that whips up a kick ass breakfast every morning (at least not consistently). i like to wake up slowly, to linger in bed. because of that, the kids often beat me down the stairs in the morning. sometimes it’s by seconds, sometimes by minutes and on occasion it’s more minutes than i care to admit. our house is  small, so i can lie in bed and listen to them. sometimes there are giggles, sometimes there is arguing over who is touching who too much and this early in the day, etc.. other times i hear them foraging for food. luckily, their most oft requested sustenance in the a.m. is dry cereal (they rarely take it with milk) and they can easily get that for themselves. (and really, it’s more of an appetizer, since they’re grazers).

don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean i don’t offer to cook, i do. but, they have their favorites. dry cereal, frozen waffles still frozen (i chalk this up to their quirkiness, because i don’t get this at all) – sometimes with a side of fruit, eaten while sitting on the couch absorbing an episode of mr. bean. most days making breakfast is toasting a waffle and then slathering it with some peanut butter and honey. on those days, we’re usually heading to school, but enjoy lounging around for as long as possible.

 

in the midst of all this i’m usually just trying to guzzle coffee while it’s still warm (remember i am not a morning person , i tend to set my coffee down and forget about it), making lunches, brushing teeth, getting little people to put on underwear, pants at the very least. but, i love the morning when i have time to make myself a decent breakfast in the hopes that they want to eat what i’m having. (i don’t do frozen waffles still frozen). sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. my favorite, eggs, seem to be off their menu lately.

then there are days where no one wants to eat, but they are ready to go go go and i might find myself mixing paint instead of pancake batter. these are the days when they roam around while eating, grabbing whatever suits them. i find myself stepping over the abandoned remnants. apparently, cracking open pistachios while wielding a sword to battle medusa at 9:00 in the morning is tricky business and takes a certain kind of finesse. one that none of us in this household possess.

 and we have our days when we cook a big, hot breakfast, but i’ll admit when we do have those days, we eat late. technically, it would be brunch, but i’m not a fan of that word. sometimes it’s just the four of us, other times friends come by. they bring the biscuits, i cook a mean sausage gravy (or so i have been told), matt makes a killer pot of coffee or two. brunch schmunch. if it’s before noon it’s breakfast.

our breakfast times may be rather sporadic, unplanned and sometimes a free for all. but, there is something about this (dis)organized chaos that  makes me want to wake up and get the day started.  and it may or may not have some thing to do with witnessing amazing bedhead and living in a house full of goofballs. (of course, the coffee helps, too).

(they asked me to take this picture. i’m not sure if they’re supposed to be monsters on the prowl or if they are just really excited about that pineapple and watermelon. i’m guessing both).

are you a morning person? is there a breakfast routine in  your house? do you have a quickie go-to breakfast ?

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