Time for a Change!

Oh, it’s been on the horizon for months now, I’ve hinted at it, and now, FINALLY, it’s happening. Please don’t panic, I’m not going anywhere – well, not entirely true, I’m going somewhere, but I do hope you will come with me to… dum da da dum…

My new blog!

Writing at the Table, writer + mother feeding my dream and my family

writing at the table screenshot

For three and a half years now I’ve been blogging here at celiac kiddo. Recipes and rants, I used to say, but it’s been more than that (I hope so anyway!). I wrote from my heart about having a child with celiac, about living a gluten free life in a gluten loving world. Over the years I grew a small but solid band of readers, and I am so grateful to every single one of you.

flickr photo credit, shimelle laine

photo credit: shimelle laine via flickr

I hesitated to make a change for a while because I didn’t want to lose anyone, and let’s face it, change is scary. Well, it is for me.

But I’ve been shifting and drifting on the blog for a while now, as you may have noticed, writing more about my life and less about celiac. I’ll still be posting gluten free recipes because feeding my family (body and soul) is as much a part of my life as writing is.

I am a mother and a writer.

ivyland railroad kids and mom

Part of the reason I’m starting this new blog is to show how the two can be integrated, how for some of us, they have to be.

I hope you will join me in as I turn this corner of my blogging life. But if not, please know that I appreciate the time you spent here! I realize that you can’t please everyone, or write for everyone, so I’m letting go of my fear and leaping into the future.

photo credit: Brian Smithson via flickr

photo credit: Brian Smithson via flickr

I’ll be posting weekly here and on Writing at the Table for the next month or so, to ease the transition, but I would be SUPER psyched if you subscribe to my email list and/or follow me there. 

CONTEST! WIN A FREE BOOK!

As a fun little incentive, I’m having a month-long contest running the first four weeks of December. Each week I’ll randomly select one person who subscribes to my email list to win one of my favorite writing books!

Enter to win, the first drawing will take place and be announced on Tuesday, December 9th!

 

The first is “Still Writing” by Dani Shapiro, an incredibly inspiring and practical book that helped reinvigorate my writing life.

still-writing

If you’ve already read it, you can gift it to a friend! It is the holiday season, after all.

*This contest includes my entire email subscriber list, so if you’ve already signed up you’re eligible!

Thank you dear readers for all your support over the years, and please let me know what you think of my new blog!

(Also, I’d love any advice or tips on transitioning from one blog to another from those who’ve done it before, since this is quite new to me.)

Creamy Pumpkin Smoothie

IMG_4319

Another day, another smoothie. I can’t help myself. I’ve made this pumpkin smoothie several times and it’s delicious. Creamy, healthy, filling, and well, pumpkin-y.

The other day my husband politely inquired if all baked goods from here until spring would be pumpkin flavored. Not entirely fair since I made this AMAZING apple cinnamon oatmeal bread the other day (I subbed Cup 4 Cup flour for the gluten kind), but understandable since pumpkin is my favorite, not his. Luckily the kids are on my side.

You can make this smoothie in a high powered blender or a Cuisinart. I adapted this from a Whole Foods recipe, but mostly this came straight out of my pumpkin flavored brain.

Creamy Pumpkin Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cold water or milk
  • 1/2 heaping cup yogurt (full fat will make a thicker shake, fyi)
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree (more puree = thicker + more pumpkin flavor)
  • 1 ripe banana (frozen or not)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, or a dash of nutmeg
  • a glug of maple syrup or honey, if you like things sweeter (I’ve enjoyed it both ways)
  • a handful of ice IF you have a high powered blender (please don’t put ice in your Cuisinart, at least it never worked for me)
Some of the players.

Some of the players.

Directions:

Dump everything in, and whirl away! Taste test and adjust seasonings/sweetenings until you’re satisfied, and then enjoy. Whipped topping optional. Can you imagine it, though? YUM.

IMG_4318 (1)* Update on the popularity of Smoothies in my home, the green kind in particular…

Green Smoothie POPS!

green smoothie pop

I froze some extra smoothie I made from a delightful blending of kale (yes, I said kale! for a children’s ice pop!), yogurt, pineapple, banana, and honey. Recipe coming soon.

Below is one satisfied customer. Bunky ate TWO for breakfast the other day and then asked for more after school.

I call this, "smoothie face."

I call this, “smoothie face.”

What are your favorite kinds of smoothies? I’m always on the look out for MORE.

 

Tropical Blueberry Smoothie

Ah, Vitamix, you Christian Louboutin of blenders…

I heard the rumors. I read the blog posts. But I ignored them. I avoided recipes that required liquifying kale. Instead I worked my decade old Cuisinart into the ground and dreamt about making smoothies that didn’t have green bits floating inside of them. Then one day something arrived at my doorstep…

No, not Little Guy.

vitamixIt all started when I left my kids with their dad and mine to attend a day long writer’s conference at Rosemont College. While I spent the day luxuriating in writerly stuff, my family spent the afternoon in Target where they were wooed by a Vitamix demonstration. Frozen desserts, green smoothies, ice cream, hot soup. Apparently it was quite the exhibition because they couldn’t stop talking about it.

Then my dad came to visit a few days later with one in the back of his car. WOW. I was totally shocked, in no way expecting such a generous gift.

So, of course I made him a smoothie right away. A green one.

first smoothie

The best part was that Little Guy loved it. In fact, he insisted on drinking the rest of ours.

lg drinking

Life with the Vitamix has been pretty fab. Especially the clean up. Not even kidding. It’s so easy! You may remember me complaining about the torture of having to scrub out the Cuisinart crevices, which made me less likely to use it. The awesome thing about the Vitamix is that it cleans itself (sort of). You add warm water and a dash of soap, give it a crazy whirl, and bam, done. (Unless you make something very sticky or oily, but still, you get a head start with the self cleaning.)

Not a big deal to clean. Srsly.

Not a big deal to clean. Srsly.

What we’ve learned so far: As a Vitamix novice, it’s best to follow a recipe. At least until you get the hang of it. Now I’m able to play more, but in the beginning, every time we (as in my husband, a notorious rule breaker) tried to wing it, disaster ensued. It was too watery, too thick, weird texture (pear issues), or just plain gross (carrot + pear + cinnamon + ice = yuck).

Luckily, Vitamix gives you a huge binder filled with recipes, plus there’s a recipe finder on the website.

Two weeks in, we’re practically experts. Here is my debut recipe, which you absolutely do NOT need a Vitamix to make. Use your blender or Cuisinart. You may need to slightly thaw your fruit first since less powerful machines can’t pulverize frozen stuff without busting up. I know this from experience, unfortunately.

Final thought/warning: the Vitamix is crazy loud. Like, terrifyingly loud. The first time I put mine on the Smoothie cycle I literally thought it was going to launch itself into space. Luckily, it didn’t.

Tropical Blueberry Smoothie

Tropical blueberry smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 heaping cup yogurt (full fat will make a thicker shake, fyi)
  • 1 ripe banana (frozen or not)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh pineapple

This recipe is kid approved. And super healthy. Bunky drank hers down in seconds. She was unfazed by the fact that there is NO added sugar. Not even a drop of honey. And that’s a pretty big deal considering she has a serious sweet tooth.

*If you have a high powered blender, you may need to add ice if most of your fruit is room temperature. Nothing less exciting than a lukewarm smoothie. But that could just be me.

If using a Vitamix, add liquids first, then soft fruit, and frozen stuff last. I put mine on Smoothie cycle. If you need to tweak it, feel free to add more fruit/yogurt/water/ice as needed and hit the cycle again.

Bird's eye view.

Then drink it up quick before your kid tries to steal the rest of yours.

bunky pink smoothie

Do you have any favorite Vitamix/blender smoothie recipes? If so, please share! I’m seriously addicted. Next up: homemade chocolate almond butter, YUM.

Gluten Free Product Review, Autumn Edition

fall in PA

Fall has become one of my favorite seasons. I used to be a real sucker for spring, and in a way I still am. But as much as I love flowering trees and the promise of summer, I feel a special kinship to the spicy warmth of autumn. I like the idea of hunkering down, cozying up, slowing down. Winter bums me out, but fall, with all its crackling fire smells, flame red leaves, and pumpkin recipes, is my kind of season.

So, in honor of fall (at least on this side of the hemisphere!) here is a round-up of my family’s favorite gluten free foods, which of course can be enjoyed any time of year.

First up, is this: (please pay special attention to the box on the bottom)

O M G - Pumpkin Spice Waffles are you kidding?!?

GF Pumpkin Spice Waffles OMG!

The other week my husband asked me to please buy some gluten free waffles that were NOT Van’s brand. No offense to Van’s, but we are a wee bit tired of their waffles. I blame it on my husband who introduced our kids to HOMEMADE waffle-maker waffles and frankly, Little Guy has never been the same since. Unfortunately, our waffle maker broke, and so we have been in a bit of of a waffle funk. Until now.

Nature’s Path Homestyle and Pumpkin Spice Waffles

Hello, beautiful

Hello, beautiful stack of pumpkin spice waffles. You smell like a pumpkin pie and taste as good.

Bring it on Nature’s Path! You rock! Pumpkin Spice Waffles, be still my heart, because you are THAT good. Try a couple with some almond butter smeared in between, and if you live in Pennsylvania, as I now do, use the local syrup. It’s mighty good.

This was my lunch yesterday. Yum.

This was my lunch yesterday. Yum.

The Homestyle ones are good, too. Not that I would know since I am a pumpkin addict.

Next up, Little Guy’s breakfast of champions, Enjoy LIfe Cocoa Loco Bars

enjoy life chocolate barsIs it bad to admit that he eats one EVERY MORNING, and sometimes again after nap?! Because they are fortified and stuff. It’s not actually dessert even though it looks and smells and tastes like dessert. I swear. Little Guy calls them Chocky Bars. Those are the first words he says every morning. No joke.

As grateful as I am to these bars, my true heart belongs to Van’s (see? my loyalty hadn’t been marred by waffle fatigue). Because after three long years, I have FINALLY found a soft and (vaguely) healthy gluten free granola bar for BOTH of my kids. WHA?! No, srsly.

Introducing, Little Guy’s fave, Van’s Peanut Butter Chocolate bars:

vans pb barsI was buying another brand for a while, but they had big chunks of almonds in them and LG kept eating around them (i.e. spitting them out). Since we drive a lot here in PA, it’s not exactly easy for me to catch spit up almonds while zooming by corn fields.

But even more shocking is that I found a bar for Bunky! Even though the kid will not touch peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a ten foot pole (sigh), she loves these bars. Says the jelly tastes like chocolate. Go figure.

vans pbj bars

FYI one of the other flavors, Cranberry Almond, is also delicious. I only know this because I bought them by accident (and I may do so again).

Now, you know as much as I prefer (in a perfect universe where children amuse themselves for hours at a time and gluten free flours abound in my pantry) to bake from SCRATCH, I have a soft spot for box mixes, such as Betty Crocker and Cherrybrook Farm, I recently tried a new mix: Stonewall Kitchen Chocolate Brownie Mix

stonewall kitchen choco brownie mix gfAnd WOW, so good! It was a gift from our lovely real estate agent who gave us an ENTIRE gift basket filled with gluten free goodies when we closed on our new place. (I seriously almost cried it was so nice.)

Well, we didn’t waste much time trying it out.

My beautiful baking assistant.

My beautiful baking assistant.

stonewall kitchens brownie mixThe consensus is THUMB’S UP. All of them.

bunky eating brownies

LG eating brownies

Also in the gift basket were several other goodies new to us, such as these RAD and healthy Orchard Bars.

orchard bars

They are similar in style and texture to Lara Bars, but I have to say, I liked these more. I tried Cherry Almond Crunch – delish and hearty – as well as the very sweet and delightful Pineapple Coconut Macadamia, which was kind of like eating a Pina Colada. Awesome.

According to their website, they are GMO free, all natural, protein packed as well as gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and kosher. My kids didn’t have any (um, because I ate them all) but I suspect once Little Guy gets over his nut chunk issue, he will enjoy these, too.

Another grown up winner? 180 Snacks Pistachio Trail Mix

180 snacks pistachio trail mixThis is basically like candy for adults (or kids with superior taste) but healthy(ish). It tastes like fancy nut brittle. I love that it only has 4 ingredients: nuts, cane sugar, rice syrup, salt. 180 Snacks also carries other kinds of wholesome snacks like nutty fruity clusters and bars. I’d definitely give those a try based on my love of this sticky yum trail mix.

One of the other things in the gift basket was a (not so) secret obsession of mine:

Late July Mild Green Mojo Multigrain Snack Chips (OMG)

late july mild green mojo chipsHave you tried these yet? If not, I highly recommend doing so NOW. They have a wonderful slow burn spice factor that grows with each bite which adds to their addictive quality. I highly recommend. Just beware, you WILL eat the whole bag in one sitting if not careful. I did.

I have to say, after many years of buying groceries from bodegas and the occasional narrow cavernous grocery store, I’m reallly enjoying the Giant suburban grocery store. Not even kidding, it’s called Giant. They have a huge gluten free aisle, so I’m sure we’ll have more favorites soon.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what your current favorites are. Bring it on in comments. My pantry always has room for more (wow, that sounds all WRONG but you know what I mean).

 

 

Starting Over

We are settling into our new lives here in the suburbs, or as my father refers to it, the country.

Yes, those are sheep. No, that's not our backyard.

Yes, those are sheep. No, that’s not our backyard.

I’m getting used to driving everywhere, which is putting my former exercise routine in serious jeopardy. I don’t exactly miss pushing Little Guy’s stroller all over Brooklyn with bulging grocery bags dangling on both handles, but it was keeping my butt in check. I have yet to find an adequate replacement workout. I guess I could do something banal like join a gym (yawn), but I’d prefer slipping on my very old sneakers and going for a run.

Ah, the bliss of being alone, running free with music blasting in my ears. If you told my adolescent self that I would voluntarily go running, that I would fantasize about going running, that self would have burst into hysterical laughter and then shuffled away nervously.

Until I figure out where I can jog without getting hit by a car (or a deer), I’ll have to settle for this obstacle course:

Doylestown Castle

Castle Playground, Doylestown PA

Climbing through the maze of this amazing castle playground might be good for dexterity, but not so much for, well, anything else. See those dark green swirly slides? They are ENORMOUS and Little Guy goes down himself. This is a kid who until recently held my hand on the puniest of Brooklyn slides. Then again, he is rapidly approaching three. Eeks!

swinging

So, here we are, in our new home, in a new town, starting over. Bunky began first grade a few weeks ago and she is THRIVING. The school has two recesses (freaking awesome) and a lovely staff. We adore her teacher who is going on maternity leave next month (sniff and OY) and I can only hope the sub is great, too. There will be bumps, most likely, because Bunky really loves her. “Mommy, she never yells!” Which is pretty awesome considering I do. Ha. Fingers crossed the new teacher doesn’t.

Also, we found THE awesomest gluten free bakery just a few towns over. The Happy Mixer in Chalfont, PA is exclusively GF and the treats are super high quality, rivaling even our old NYC favorite, Tu-Lu’s. Wow, right?

cupcake selfie

They even have Cookie Monster and Elmo cupcakes because they are super close to Sesame Place, which is just RAD.

Let the sugar high begin!

Let the sugar high begin!

But despite this positive start, I’ve been having pangs of nostalgia for what I left behind in Brooklyn. The ease of my old routine, the well worn streets I walked along with my kids, the stores we frequented, the dances Bunky would do at intersections, how she would sometimes scoot home from school, flying ahead of me for an entire block while I held my breath (or chased her with the stroller). All the walking we had to do, which I used to sometimes moan and groan about. Yet I’m missing that physical travel out here in car country.

I realize some of these pangs aren’t about missing Brooklyn specifically (though some are), but more about the fear and anxiety that comes with starting over. I try to remind myself of what my mom used to say about me, fondly, proudly. You can make friends anywhere. And I could. I did. Every summer I went to a new camp and made new friends each time. Looking back, I wonder why I changed camp every year, why I seemed to crave starting over.

Perhaps it was because I was always on the hunt for that elusive best friend, the one I read about in Judy Blume books and my other adolescent favorites. I found many dear and wonderful friends over the years, one or two who I dared to call ‘my best friend,’ and one or two who reciprocated, but the dream was never truly fulfilled. Maybe because it couldn’t be, because what I was looking for wasn’t real.

The other day I caught myself day dreaming about finding new friends here, more specifically, the friend. You know, the one whose children are similar age to mine, who can come over and drink coffee and/or wine with me while we watch the kids run around in the backyard. The one who might even have a husband or partner that my husband likes. (That is a bonus, not a prerequisite.) The kind I’ve glimpsed in grown up books and in movies. Then I skidded my brain to a halt. I know where that path can lead.

Instead of rushing into the fray and going on a rampage for new friends, I will take it slow. I will find my own rhythm here, a new rhythm, in time.

bunky walkiingWhen I’m feeling bouts of homesickness and loneliness, I look to my kids and notice how well they are adjusting. How they love love their new house even though it is still filled to the brim with unpacked boxes and a kitchen that is being renovated by my handyman husband. Even though we ate on the floor for the first week and slept on it, too. Even though I have yet to schedule a play date for Bunky or find a music class for Little Guy. Even though their future playroom is currently uninhabitable and most of their toys are encased in cellophane wrapped bins. They wake up in the morning and want to play outside, and we are lucky enough to be able to open the door and let them.

Gift from my dad. Thanks dad!

Donated by my super generous dad. Thanks, dad!

I’m living in a state of disarray, inside my new home and in my heart, which is not my strong suit, but what a learning and growing experience it is.

Postscript: In between unpacking and exploring our new community, I’m working on my novel as well as trying out new gluten free recipes (because of course), so keep an eye out for more on the blog soon! Plus, the possibility of change is on the horizon…

.

Leaping off the Ledge

On a scorching July afternoon, a little over one month ago, we said goodbye to our Brooklyn home. It was emotional. Bunky cried in her room and I cried, privately, in mine.

Me and my girl in front of our Brooklyn apartment.

Me and my girl in front of our Brooklyn apartment.

Though imperfect in many ways, our small apartment was home. It’s the place where Bunky was diagnosed, where Little Guy grew silently in my belly. I labored in our room, smothering my moans so as not to wake our restless girl. It’s where we brought Little Guy home, and where we grew, as a family, for three years. Goodbyes are tough for me. But you probably know that already.

family in bklyn simone

Leading up to our departure I was a ball of anxiety. There were complications with the closing of our apartment and new home, worries about transitioning from the familiar to the unknown, and frankly, I was freaking out about having both kids all day with no breaks to speak of (re camp). I reminded myself about the golden days at the lake last summer, digging tunnels and castles with moats that didn’t get washed away by ocean waves.

lake artBut this year the weather didn’t cooperate. Instead of having a mild but warm season, it was strangely cold and rained a ton. (The above picture was a lovely exception.) Some days didn’t rise much over sixty degrees. The bugs were thick as always, but Little Guy developed a fear of them and screamed every time a gnat or fly whizzed by. Which is pretty much about every two seconds. Sigh. All I have to say is thank goodness for the local library and cable TV. (Except for when the rain washed away our satellite signal.)

I’m aware that this may sound rather complainy. Oh, poor us, miserable in our country home because of some rain and bugs. But anyone with kids (or at least a vivid imagination) can imagine that being isolated in the woods with a couple of bored and bickering children (not to mention bickering parents, ha) after leaving a much loved home and not yet having settled into a new one could be a bit…trying.

There were highlights of course. Some days we made it to the lake and dug like gophers.

kids at lake 2014

My outdoorsy girl, hanging in the stream.

My outdoorsy girl, in the stream.

And the Forestburgh Playhouse’s version of Beauty and the Beast was fantastic, the kind of show that is entertaining for kids but also amusing for adults. Bunky LOVED it and Little Guy managed to sit through a good two-thirds, which is a huge improvement from last year’s five minutes. We also had a very successful trip to Sneaker World and picked up these suckers plus some dollar store school supplies.

new hope new house 2014

Oh, and that’s our new house! We finally closed in late August and moved in, um, last night. Bunky started school…today. Check out my demure first grader:

first day first grade 2014

And my superstar:

first day first grade superstar 2014

Beginnings are bittersweet. Saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new. And now, on the cusp of all this change, another goodbye looms near.

My father’s beach house, which saved us this summer from several cold weekends upstate, is to be sold as well. This has been a long time coming, which has given me the time and space to process all the mixed emotions. I’m relieved for my father, but sad to let go of the memories that live within the walls. And on the walls.

My mother's masks.

Some of my mother’s masks, made before she lost the use of her hands to Multiple Sclerosis.

My mother's art.

This is the house where my mother died.

This is the house we came to a week after Bunky was born. It was Mother’s Day and my heart was leaden with grief at my own mother loss.

baby bunky beach house

Last week, before the rush of Labor Day began, we said goodbye to the spacious rooms that held my family with reverence and love during the eight-day vigil of my mother’s death. We said goodbye to the rooms where my babies nursed and cooed, and then later, ran and played, danced and sang amid pictures of my smiling mother as a young healthy woman, with walls and shelves decorated with her beautiful pottery. And of course the beach, where the sound of waves soothed the pain of my seven years without her.

Pregnant with Bunky, my mom's portrait snuck in the frame. Her pottery, too.

Me pregnant with Bunky. My mom’s portrait snuck in the frame. Her pottery, too.

My husband says the best time on the beach is dusk. I agree though I’m also partial to early morning, but there is something magical about the hour before twilight. Everything is softer.

ledge at dusk

Recently the sand near the ocean shifted, creating a ledge that dropped several feet. The kids loved digging into it, making stairs, walking up, sliding down, and jumping. One evening, my husband and I both stared at each other in surprise after our normally cautious daughter took a running leap and flew off the edge. She popped up at the bottom beaming with pride. I felt the usual words bubbling up my throat, the awful and meaningless be careful. I clamped my mouth shut and let her jump and jump and jump.

ledge girl

So much of my time is spent trying to prevent harm. Makes sense. I’m a mother, after all – a totally neurotic one. But sometimes you have to let go. You have to let your kid leap off the ledge. Maybe they don’t always fall perfectly. They may sprain an ankle, twist a knee, or land on a sharp shell. Or maybe not. Maybe they jump and fall and get up and jump again, coming up smiling.

Sometimes, you have to leap off the ledge. You have to trust that you will land. And maybe when you do, you’ll find some unexpected treasures.

beach treasures

My father came along one early evening and I saw the fear and worry cross his face. We are, after all, related. I put a hand on his arm and told him it was okay.

beach sillouette

And together we watched her jump and jump, and fall and land, radiating with joy and pride as the sun set, turning the sky and sand the most gentle of blues.

beach sunset

Here’s to endings and beginnings, and everything in between.

When Life Happens

I haven’t written in days and I’m starting to twitch. We’re moving in T minus two days. And when I say “moving” I mean we’re packing up our Brooklyn apartment, putting most of it in storage and going to stay with my dad in New Jersey, and then, after we trash his house, on to our upstate place. We were supposed to close on our new home at the end of August and move in just in time for school to start… but that’s not happening.

Why? Because life is not some stylized photo shoot. You can’t plan or stage it. You can’t decorate it with pretty props. Life is not a pristine layer cake, like the kind that populate Pinterest and fancy foodie blogs, with frosting smooth as shellac, fondant decorations, the whole thing resting on a porcelain platter atop of a rustic wooden table all beautifully backlit with a vase of flowers and a glass pitcher of milk.

photo credit, Southern Living.com

photo credit, Southern Living.com

Nope. Life is messy, chaotic, ruthless. Life is one of those sloppy homemade cakes. The kind where the layers are uneven, the whole thing leaning precariously to one side, crumbs litter the frosting, a mess of sprinkles dumped on top, a lumpy slice slapped on a plate with a plastic fork. More like this:

Real life looks more like this. Tastes better, too. photo credit, glutenismybitch.com

Real life looks more like this. Tastes better, too.
photo credit, glutenismybitch.com

Life happens and you’re supposed roll with it. Or you don’t. But there is always choice involved in how you deal with your sloppy cake. You decide if you’re going to freak out, blame everyone else, scream your brains out, yell at your kids/spouse, tear out your hair, cry, rage, throw yourself out the window (or just threaten to do so). You decide how to look at the mess. Is it garbage or a hidden Picasso? This has always been my problem. I tend to choose the dark side. I blame, rage, cry, yell, lash out. I let it take over. I let it control me.

I’ve been having some unfortunate bouts of insomnia lately, as our departure approaches. And in those late night eyeball wide moments, I see everything so clearly. I see the right way, the light way. I think, okay, I can do this! I can choose not to dwell and complain, I can choose love over anger, I can choose to see this new twist/roadblock as an adventure as opposed to a disaster.

But then I wake up. And I’m bone tired and my kids are hungry but won’t eat anything, and I’m wiping butts and making smoothies, and before I know it, all those good intentions fly out the window and my impatience and anger rolls in. I lose it and then feel sunk by my failure. By my inability to change.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I am changing, or at least trying. I’m having enlightened moments in the darkest hours of the night, even if they often disintegrate by morning. I see glimpses of difference, other ways of being.

Yesterday in between the usual child tantrums and parental misery, we had a magical moment in the park. I took Little Guy to pee behind a tree (the kid is like a dog, loves peeing outside) and it happened to be a pine tree and it happened to be populated with dozens of fireflies. It was dusk, later than we’re usually out, and we had just been talking about how we hadn’t seen any fireflies this season, and there they were alight all around us, pausing to rest on blades of grass, on the needles of the tree, inches from our faces.

I pointed at them and said, do it again, and they did. Little Guy was entranced. We brought over Bunky and her dad and we all watched with wonder and awe as dozens of people streamed into the park for a concert, oblivious to our little piece of magic. Then my husband looked up and there were two baby raccoons in the tree, lounging on the upper branches, rolling around, but mostly resting and watching us watch them.

Moments earlier we had been sitting on a cement ledge at the entrance of the park across from the apartment I lived in with my husband before we were married.

Living on the edge. Or ledge. Edge of the ledge?

Living on the edge. Or ledge. Edge of the ledge?

We looked at it, trying to remember where our apartment was, in the back or on the side, what we saw when we looked out the window. We told Bunky about how we used to hear the concerts in the park from our living room. We talked about how she would always remember Brooklyn, but Little Guy would not. Just like my husband, who had been three years old when he left Brooklyn.

I looked at my husband over the kids’ heads and we shared a silent bittersweet moment at this realization.

He may not remember this swing, but we will for him.

He won’t remember this swing, but we will for him.

We told Bunky she could tell him stories about Brooklyn. We talked about how wonderful our time had been here, that we had a good run, but we would begin fresh adventures in New Hope. I smiled as I said these things, which are all true, but it’s not my natural tendency to look at change as adventure. I usually look at it with doom, or at the least, trepidation.

But having kids changes things, people. I don’t want my kids to soak up my lifelong tendency for negativity. I’m trying hard to do what my mom used to tell me to do: see the glass half full, make lemonade out of lemons, choose sweet over sour. But it is not easy. My poor mom, I can see how I must have broke her heart with my bouts of gloomy sadness. How I refused to choose joy even when it was laid out in front of me.

I see so much of myself in my daughter and it kills me. I want to save her from myself, from herself, but I can’t. I want her to love herself and love her life and choose love, but I can’t make her do any of those things just as my mother couldn’t make me. Being a mom is brutal that way. You relive the hardest moments of your life through your kids. And the best ones, too. Like these.

Coney Island July 2014

Coney Island July 2014

coney swings

coney kids

On a city bus, Little Guy's favorite.

On a city bus, Little Guy’s favorite.

The frog, July 2014

The frog, Cutie Playground, July 2014

So, life happens. But I’m learning to roll with it. The fireflies will be there no matter where we go. We just have to look.

family portraitGoodbye Brooklyn. We will miss you.