We’re still standing

Wow, it’s been a heck of a few months.  I have hated not having enough time to write, but as life will do, you blink and it’s been five months since you’ve written a word.   As my fellow chef spouses will understand, the holidays can be particularly difficult on schedules as you can pretty much count the Chef out of any and all holiday gift buying/planning/shipping/wrapping.  Thank god for Amazon Prime.  If not for this service, I truly don’t know what I would have done.

My 4-year-old ninja

My 4-year-old ninja

Fallen 2-year-old princess

Fallen 2-year-old princess

The Chef and I also celebrated our 4th Anniversary on December 22nd, Christmas, New Year’s, my son’s 4th birthday (Ninja Turtles for him) and then my daughter’s 2nd birthday(Frozen for her).  The good news, is we’re officially through all of it and heading into a week long vacation at the beach in a few days.

The Chef has had quite a bit going on at the restaurant … change of ownership, change of leadership in his restaurant group, lots of high level departures (i guess as a result of the first two things) and he’s literally worked for an entire month straight, no break, no days off … just more work.  It’s funny, when he goes through these kinds of stretches of being away from the house, I almost always begin the process feeling totally stressed about how crazy life will be, but then poof .. it’s over and it doesn’t seem like it was that bad.   Of course, my nails are a mess, I’m pretty sure I’ve got a unibrow, laundry is everywhere, and my car is overdue for an oil change, but we’re alive, healthy, happy and mostly in tact.

How do you guys handle this, as chef wives/girlfriends?  What’s the longest stretch your chef has ever gone without a day off?  If you’ve got little people, what do you do to occupy them and yourself?

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Nope, not Christmas.  It’s Halloween!  My absolute, hands-down, all-time, favorite holiday.  Being a mom has pushed that love/borderline obsession to a new level.  I love everything about Halloween.  It starts with the fact that October is the most beautiful, weather-wise, month of the year, my birthday is around the beginning of the month, there’s the crisp blue skies that start to appear in October (good-bye and good riddance summer haze) and finally, sweet, candy-filled, yard-decorated, costume-filled Halloween!

It may be the theater geek in me that loves the theatrics of it all, or the chance to become someone else for a day.  Maybe back in my 20s I suffered a little bit from the “chance to dress like a “prostitute” in public for a day” thing, but whatever my age, the decade or the company, I’ve always FREAKIN’ loved Halloween.

I can remember coming up with costumes when I was a kid, before places like Party City, Halloween Emporium, and the million other costumers were easily accessible.  I made myself a hobo (not sure that would fly today), a clown, a lumberjack, one year my mom let me dress myself as Sandy from Grease, but the sexed up one from the end of the movie, her wooden heeled shoes, off the shoulder top, red lips and all.  I believe I was 12.  Ahhh the 80s.   I’ve been a witch, a french maid, a kitten (the sexy kind — again 20s) and an actual cat (like with my costume from the Cats review we did in high school), lycra body suit and all.  I love playing dress up.  And I do believe I am on my way to passing this love (illness) onto my kids.

Since J was 9 months old, he’s had 2-3 costumes for each of his 3 years. I know.  It’s kind of ridiculous.  B is on her way to the same costume closet, well if you count all the princess dresses, she may have surpassed his inventory.  They simply must have a costume to just wear around the house whenever they feel like it, one for the daycare’s Fall Festival and Costume Parade and of course, one for the big night!  We may add another dress-up opportunity or two in there, Grant Park Parade, Ogre-tober at the Botanical Gardens, shopping at Target on Saturday night.  The add-on dress-up possibilities are endless.  So, this, my last shopping weekend before Halloween, I will be shopping for a few last minute items for the house, and if that fog machine is still in stock at Target, I will take it as a sign that I really am supposed to have it.

Happy Halloween to all!

Sometimes, you just have to dress as Iron Man to get through your Target shopping experience

Sometimes, you just have to dress as Iron Man to get through your Target shopping experience

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Queen Elsa aka the Doodle performing her ice magic on unsuspecting Target shoppers

Oh no! Another birthday!

On the eve of 42, I want to take a moment to take stock of where I am as an individual. Outside of being a wife and mother, I’m taking a moment to take pride in my own accomplishments, how far I’ve come and how much further I need to go towards being the true ME I’ve always wanted to be. Youth is lost on the young? No shit! I’ve spent so much of my life being a people-pleaser that I don’t truly believe that I even remotely had an idea about what made me happy. Some days, I still don’t.

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a star. A broadway star, that is. I was certain (at the age of 19) that it was going to happen. That I would show up in NYC with my “three bucks, two bags, one me” and immediately they would just know they had to have me in every show. I would be in demand. I would be a character actress, with an alto voice and a lot of spunk. I wouldn’t be the ingenue soprano … I would be the Elphaba (Wicked Witch, Wicked, come on people) of Broadway, before there was an Elphaba and everyone still knew her as Maureen. I would be the Daphne Rubin-Vega with my sailor-like vocabulary and flamboyant personality, it was going to happen. I moved to New York with my dear childhood friend, A. She was determined too, but as I would learn later, her determination far exceeded any idea of what I thought determination was in 1995. Now SHE followed her dreams and truly never gave up. In fact, for my 42nd birthday I will spend my evening at a screening for her first feature-length film, in which she stars and co-wrote. Yup. She was determined. Still is. Love that woman.  (Here’s a shameless plug for my girl.)

But for me, I’ve always gone with the flow of things, in life, love, friendship, work. Anytime I made a change, it always kind of landed in my lap. Moving to Georgia, joining the staff of AIDS Walk Atlanta and then deciding to travel the country as a fundraising diva, settling down, marrying the guy I dated for 7 years, so isn’t that what you’re supposed to do, coming to work in my current job in communications, with frankly, no education in this field, and even while getting a divorce.  I was coasting. Through every aspect of my life!

But when I met the Chef, I fought. I fought for his attention (yes, I was like a kid with a crush). I was IN LOVE (well maybe just a little bit of lust) at first sight. He was playing the guitar at a friend’s house (the Eagles, I believe), had dirty blonde hair, and was just off work, so still in Chef clothes. He was tall, blonde, skinny and handsome as hell.  I was done for.  I mean, look at him.  He was/is HOT.

The Chef and me before we were "married with children"

The Chef and me before we were “married with children”

That was 7 years ago. And probably the last time I truly FOUGHT for something I believed in.  After two kids, a bunch of career highs for him and even a few for me, we’re kind of in that time of monotony.  Day in, day out.  Same thing.  Eat. Sleep. Work. Frozen. Shuffle Kids. Frozen. Bath Time.  Potty Time. Frozen.  Eat. Sleep. Work.   With a schedule like my Chef’s, it’s hard to do much more than that.  Once in a while there is a quick escape … quick visit to family up North, quick drive to family home at the beach, but overall … we’re in the cycle, which I hear ends in about 15 years, when the last one goes off to college, or Broadway, or to boot camp or (Yikes) culinary school.

I don’t know where their dreams will take them, or even what they will be, but I hope they’ll fight.  Or that I’ve raised them to fight.  I’ll fight alongside them.  Hell, I may even throw the first punch once in a while.   I hope that between now and that time, I will fight for myself too.  I will challenge myself.   I will find one new thing that will challenge me (physically/emotionally/intellectually? I’m not sure yet).  I will take on a new challenge, even if it’s really really really hard.  Until then, it’s back to pick up/drop off/bath time/potty training and Elsa.  Oh Elsa.  Let it go!