Thursday, November 19, 2015

Levi The Brave

On the IPod "When We Were Young" by: Adele

I want to start this post out by saying that with all things considered I feel very blessed. Things could always be so much worse and I feel so lucky with the challenging cards we have been dealt!  I have gone back and forth on when and if I should write about for now I'm going to write this for me so that I can process what today is and whether I decide to publish it or not hopefully I can make peace with it. 

I wrote a post last year explaining that Levi, my 4 1/2 year old, has an low immune system. It's actually called an IgA deficiency. Levi actually does have some antibodies just not nearly the hope is that as he gets older his body will at some point catch up. 

 "Selective immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency (SIgAD) is a genetic immunodeficiency. People with this deficiency lack immunoglobulin A (IgA), a type of antibody that protects against infections of the mucous membranes lining the mouth, airways, and digestive tract."

  It has plagued him most of his life starting with a terrible case of RSV when he was one, a multitude of upper respiratory infections, sinus infections, asthma, sinus surgery, whooping cough/pertussis, adenoidectomy, around 36 vials of blood, 5 ct scans, chest X-rays, 2 rounds of allergy testing and more...Levi takes a box full of medicines and "potions" everyday not really to treat the existing issues but to try to protect his little body from catching something worse. The kid has been through the wringer and he hardly ever complains. You would actually probably never really notice it unless you heard the slight cough that he tries to hide or the ever present stuffy/runny nose or you happen to be next to him when he says, "throw up" as he runs to the bathroom like its no big deal. 
I want to reiterate. We are lucky! It could be worse... 

Last week I took Levi into the specialist because he was super uncomfortable. On a whim, they decided to do a ct scan of his sinuses even though he had major sinus surgery last year where they drilled holes so that his sinuses would drain and we had hoped that with all of the preventive medicines his sinuses would stay clear.  Unfortunately, we were wrong. Levi is fully impacted. Infection in every crevice of his sinuses. What's scary is that you don't really want to mess around with sinus infections... They can attack the bone, eyes and the brain if left alone and If you've ever had one you know how uncomfortable it is... 
The doctor wanted to make some calls to discuss levi and when she returned to the room she looked up at me and said that while she knows I was gene tested (90% accurate) while pregnant and that Levi did have the newborn screen (which was normal) it would be silly for us not to rule out Cystic Fibrosis. I have to admit I started to feel sick to my stomach. I had a childhood friend who lived with CF. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. I feel confident that levi will not have CF, but what makes me nervous is that we are having a harder time protecting him...I hate being the parent who looks around the room wondering if all of the kids have immunizations. We have seen whooping cough and it's not pretty. Levi has been on so many antibiotics that I worry sometimes that we will get stuck in a position where nothing works...

What you have to know about Levi is that he is a star patient... He is brave, braver than me, and usually has the nurses wrapped around his fingers in minutes.  For example our last visit we walked out with 7 stickers and a gold medal! 

So today we go to children's for a sweat test. We will keep our fingers crossed that it will come out negative. And we will be happy to cross it off of our list. We will hope that the antibiotics that Levi is on now will give him some relief so that he doesn't tell me again tonight that "his dreams are making his head hurt" (levi doesn't really understand that the infection is what is making his head hurt)... We will stay focused on being so thankful for what we have while still fighting for Levi to feel better. And tonight I will just be happy he has shoes to wear and try to relax when it takes him 20 minutes to find them and get them on,  I will let him make as many potions as he wants and be as messy as he can be in his science lab (aka play kitchen)... I will try to not get aggravated about the little things because honestly IT JUST DOESNT MATTER. But when I do get annoyed because let's be honest I will get aggravated at some point, I will just relish the fact that in that moment my biggest worry was the lost shoes or the spilled potion. We should all be that lucky!!!! He told me today that when he grows up he wants to be a scientist that makes good potions to help people feel good...and that my friends is ALL THAT MATTERS! 

xoxo chef a

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Haircut

On the IPOD "Samson (The Voice Performance)" by: Chase Kerby and Corin Bukowski

It is scary how fast time passes... I feel like it is most apparent when you see someone from your past and in a matter of minutes you realize how much life has changed in what feels like just days.

Luca got his first hair cut today at 22 months and 1 day old. As I looked at him sitting in the red airplane stylist chair, all I could think was "slow down, sweet boy!" It all seems to be going so fast... The days might be long but the weeks and years are just flying. 

I remember how impatient I was when Levi was a baby... I couldn't wait until he crawled and walked and knew 100 words. I reveled in the day he changed diaper sizes or grew an inch. I remember that my friends with older children kept saying, "Don't wish the time away! Enjoy every step without worrying about when the next one will come..." I thought they were crazy! But tonight as I just carried Levi, who feels more like a pile of arms and legs than a baby, to his bed. I sit here a little bit jealous of all you mommies out there still rocking your babies right now. I get it! I was once you, it was just a minute ago that I was wishing them to just go back to sleep. But in this second, I'm missing those late nights and 2am feedings with them.  

It's not like I'm sentimental all of the time or anything. I still have many tense moments during the day... Wishing Luca could communicate better or could just sit still for a second. And I would be lying if I didn't admit that I'm a little excited for Levi to get past the "F! Off" fours. But with all of it, there is this bittersweet feeling in my heart that there will never be this moment again... Makes me realize just how lucky I am to have the most amazing friends who allow me to bitch about my daily mommy struggles but also think to check in on me after the first haircut! 

xoxo chef a

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Beginning of an Explosion

On the iPod "Fight Song" By: Rachel Platten

So it's actually taken me a full week to write this blog... Just trying to get everyone into a new routine smoothly!

Let's go back to last Sunday night...

So here we are... It's the night before Levi heads off to Pre-K. For those of you who don't know, Pre-K is sort of a big deal now...  I know, I know... "It's just preschool give me a break!" But it's not just preschool... I remember when Levi was just a baby and while discussing how school has changed over the years the person I was with said, "Don't worry, you'll know if he is ready for kindergarten in one easy step... Boys who are ready for kindergarten don't pull their underwear all the way down to their ankles to pee... They just pull it down enough to aim and fire!" I laughed at the time, but oddly enough now I kind of get it.

Pre-k is the year they become who they are or discover who they want to be. Don't get me wrong... I absolutely know Levi will change and grow about a million times before all is said and done, but they say by about age 5 your personality is your personality. This is the year they really start to grasp conflict resolution and where they start to really see their own strengths and weaknesses. The hugs and kisses from teachers slowly change into "Good Job's" and "Way to go's" and a few "you need to work on that's" too.  

Anyways, I tried to prepare him the best that I could. He is very much like me... Uncomfortable with change, but I assured him it would be great and still fun! 

Monday morning was hard, Levi is far from a morning person. He was not thrilled about being expected to pose for first day pictures and he was pissed that Luca got to stay at home! But once we got there things became easier, he has an amazing class with some good friends that he knows well and he quickly joined his buddies playing.

Tuesday was a bit easier... But it was also Luca's first day in the toddlers so I think Levi felt the first pull of having to share me in a school situation. Luckily, they had a great day...unfortunately Luca didn't nap. Ugh! But that's another whole post!!

Wednesday was a lesson in our new truth, and by "our" I mean Levi and I (and Mike's also but that's more of an at home thing since I do the dropping and picking up!)
So there I was unloading Levi's backpack and lunch like I've been doing for the last few years when I hear, "Did you unload Levi's backpack?" I answered quickly and with confidence, "Yep, it's all done! Have a great day!"  And then it came... "Next time don't do it!" And as I stared blankly at his teacher she gave me a little nod and said, "Pre-K is about him doing things by himself... He needs to be taking care of his own stuff!" And with that I nodded my head a bit and exited the class with a few tears in my eyes... The tears weren't about being scolded by the teacher although those who know me well know that I am a pleaser and I'm much happier when I do things right!  Ha! The tears were because it's coming... The change... And there is no way to stop it or slow it down and I wouldn't want to hold him back even if I could! Levi is going to pulling down his underwear only enough to aim and fire before the end of the year and I better learn to cheer from the side lines as I watch him do it! 

So on Thursday morning, I watched him empty out his own backpack without any help and then stared in awe as he rushed to the sign in sheet to sign himself in. 

Friday I held strong and even made the teacher proud when I watched him unload again and held myself back when his backpack fell to the floor as he walked away and he rushed back to put it up again. 

I'm by no means saying this last week has been perfect... Levi is still adjusting... Still finding his place in the class. He is a bit stressed, I'm hoping in the best way... I hope that his world, meaning all of us, can help show him how to use the normal anxieties he has to gently push him to do great things. The last thing I want is for him to feel overwhelmed so we are keeping our eyes on him. Making sure he knows we are all supporting him. Levi is a very sensitive kid and this "growing up" business is hard work! But I know he can do it and by us letting him do it we are giving him the best gift... The gift of becoming the best Levi he can be! 

"Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion"

Here's to you my sweet Pre-kindergartener... Go out there and make your explosion! 

xoxo chef a

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Look Back

On the iPod, "See you again (feat. Charlie Puth)" By: Wiz Khalifa

When my dad died a wise old sage told me that when you lose someone close you gain a lump. At first the lump is in your throat making it hard to swallow or even breathe. You will question it and hate it and just want it to go away. But over time the lump moves sometimes it's in your heart sometimes in your hands but eventually it finds a home at the bottom of your foot. You will always feel it there but although impossible to believe right now as time goes by you will start to feel nervous that you don't feel it enough but then it will quickly resurface somewhere you least expected it to be.  But on special days... Birthdays, holidays, weddings, anniversaries the lump moves... sometimes it moves all the way up to your throat again but then it eventually settles back in your foot... In a way you will come to love the lump... It will remind you so deeply of the one that you love and it will just become a part of you. 

I'm not sure why but for the last couple of days. The lump has been in my throat...making it hard to breathe...

Maybe it was seeing pictures of my brother introducing his three year old to my dad's old records... Maybe someone who reads this blog needs to hear this story today... Or maybe the lump just needed to move...

But Something is bringing me back to that day 7 and 1/2 years ago... So much so that I spent some time last night looking at blogs I had written years ago... This post was written on the 2nd anniversary of my dad's passing...

"On the iPod, "Crazy Faith" by: Alison Krauss

About three weeks ago a friend on facebook listed this as their status:

"can't believe I havent seen my father in 19 years."

I have been thinking about it ever since...As of today I have not seen my father in 2 years...I can't even imagine 19...

I have written so many blogs about today in my head over the last 24 hours. What should I say...Should I tell you about the day 2 years ago or should I tell you how incredible he was. Maybe I should tell what he means to me. Or maybe I should write an entire blog about how pissed off I still am (not at him but at the disease). I thought about how my family would feel, would they want me to write about such a private day?? So as of this minute I decided that I'll write a little about everything...

On my birthday of 2007, I got a phone call that would change everything. I was having a party at my apartment and my parents were supposed to stop by. My Dad was in treatment for prostate cancer and had been since about 1998, he had been in drug trials at MD Anderson for probably about 1 year. (on a side note they don't explain to you that most of the drug trials are meds that might extend your life by weeks, maybe months and come with awful side effects, they are not cures like one would hope for...) The phone call was simple "Amanda, Daddy is not feeling well, I am taking him to the ER...You don't need to is not the day...we will call you if something changes." For the next 4 months it was more of the same...sick one day, better the next. Our family house changed too... there were walkers, shower seats, lots and lots of pill bottles, and even a checklist that I made up on the computer titled "How do we feel today?" I remember the day in particular that I finally accepted that things had changed. My dad was bad...and I wanted so badly to speed drive him to the hospital so that they could "fix" him. My mom knew... She somehow knew that the time had come to stop going to the hospital. I've never asked her how she knew... Did someone tell her? Anyways, after listening to me freak out about taking him I watched her pick up the phone and call his doctor, who was always a close friend, she simply said, "Gabriel, I'm with Amanda, Joe Bill is not doing well... She wants to take him to the ER... I thought maybe she should ask you some questions..." As I picked up the phone... Tears started rolling down my cheeks... Without asking any questions... He said in words I can't remember verbatim... "Amanda, I'm so sorry but we are running out of time, we can't fix him... We could make it a bit better but then in a couple of days, maybe hours you will have to bring him back...and the visits will get closer and closer together and it will be very painful for him. I think we should make him comfortable so that he can listen to his music and be with yall."

We signed up for hospice and he fired hospice (pretty sure he wasn't a fan of the nurse!) I do have to admit though this particular hospice sucked! Anyways he refused for any hospice to come back at that time.

Things continued to get worse and it was extremely difficult for us to completely care for him. On Christmas Eve day, I walked into the room where he was sitting and said, "I've researched some hospice companies I found one that sounds great, they will be here this afternoon. His response was a simple "Ok." On Christmas eve day, the hospice nurse came out and visited with my dad and by 10pm they had delivered meds to keep him comfortable.

Things progressed quickly...My dad had been walking with a cane or walker for a solid three weeks the cancer had long ago moved to his bones and the pain was intense but for whatever reason on Friday Jan. 4 he decided to go out to dinner for mexican food with my mom, my aunt and my uncle and he went without any kind of walking device. By Saturday, he changed. He was sitting in his chair all day and acting a little strange. A hospice nurse came over and said he sounded great and that we still had time, probably weeks! I left to go to dinner with friends and got home at about 10 pm. I figured everything was fine and that they might be sleeping so I didn't call. I should have called my dad couldn't get up and even my brother couldn't help him up...the fire dept. had to come. He didn't get out of bed Sunday. Friends came and went all day. Telling stories, listening to his favorite music, looking at the pictures that still today envelope my parent's house. At this time we also had round the clock help just in case my dad needed anything.

I slept over at my mom's on Saturday night. I woke up for whatever reason at about 3 am and decided to go and check on him. He sounded terrible, we had heard about a condition called the "death rattle" it is just part of the process, but when I went to tell my mom what I thought was happening she reassured me that the nurse had said weeks...we were fine. So I went back in, made my dad sit up and take just one more sip of water from a straw and went back to bed.

I woke up to the sound of my brother screaming, "Wake up Daddy, get up Dad!!!" I ran back there and he was still there but not there all at the same time. Of course, I was shocked but not really surprised, my father refused to be held back he had obviously made a choice. By 5pm with all of us there by his side and music playing in the background he took his last breath. It was peaceful, I don't even think I was angry at this point, the anger came later... I knew he was in pain and I knew the last thing he would want would be to be stuck in bed.

The most interesting thing about the journey was that days later as the news spread we got phone calls and visits from all of his friends from high school and life and everybody had one thing in common, my Dad had called them all within the last week of his life, coincidence, I think not! He sent hundreds of CDs those last weeks, adorned with pictures of times long ago. 

My Dad lived his life his way to the very end. When I think about everything he has missed in the last two years I get very sad, weddings, funerals oddly enough, birthdays... I worry some days about how I'm going to explain him to my kids, how will I show them how his smile lit up a room and how it felt to hold his hands. Sometimes right before I walk into a room at my Mom's house I wish that when I open the door he is just sitting there....

I'm sorry this became all about the disease and the end, but i just wrote and it came out. For what ever reason this was the story I needed to tell today so thank you all for listening.

I miss you Daddy, I love you and I wish you were here!"

xoxo chef a

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Naps and Secrets

On the iPod "Incomplete" By: James Bay

I know I've said it before, but I honestly can't get over how different my boys are... I mean just today at the splash park, Levi spent a half an hour worried about the water getting in his eyes and the other hour worried about ant piles in the grass and Luca divided his time between running as fast as he could away from me through every surface barefoot and standing directly under the water dump buckets. The differences really go completely across the board....

Levi gave up bottles by himself and switched to one nap with no effort on my part at all. So I guess I had always expected that it would just happen for Luca the same way, but boy have I been wrong! Let me preface this by saying I am by NO MEANS asking for advise (I have plenty of personal mommy council and I am aware it's up to me to set the ground rules for my child,) but I'm just having a harder time with it than I ever expected. Here is my current secret... I keep a bottle in the car with water in it... I'll bring a sippy cup into a play date or to mommy and me, but as soon as we hit the car our dirty little secret is out and the bottle is in his hands... I have no willpower, Luca might possibly go to first grade with a baby bottle stashed in his lunch box. It is his comfort. He doesn't have a paci or suck his thumb, no blanket or lovey, just a bottle... Any bottle... He doesn't even care what kind... It doesn't even have to have milk in it... I could tell you that I have a date that I will absolutely take it away but I would be lying... I have NO DATE! The second he looked at me with his puppy dog eyes and threw the sippy cup in my face 3 months ago I decided not to care. The only change that will be happening for now is that I will be hiding the bottle in his diaper bag while its 95 degrees outside... Judge me if you want to, but people nurse their kids till they are like 8 now... Why should my kid suffer because I couldn't produce enough milk. I mean if he has bonded with the bottle why should I come between them??? Only kidding... Kind of. I promise he will give up the bottle... I hope at least by the time he wants to try a bottle of another source. 

Onto the dreaded nap change... Luca has been an unbelievable sleeper ever since at 8months when I put on his Amber teething necklace and he slept through the night. I can count on one hand the number of times he has woken up in the middle of the night. And since about the same time he has taken two GLORIOUS naps a day. He would wake up at 6:15, go down for his first nap at 9:00-9:15 sleep till sometimes 11, play and eat lunch. Go back down at 2pm sleep till 3:30-4. Play more, eat dinner and by 7:15 would be knocking on the hall door ready to go to his bed. We could not have asked for a better sleeper... We even changed our schedule... No more dinners out past 6 pm and if we do go out it is timed with military precision. Until about 8 weeks ago, when he started having a hard time with his daytime naps. He was going between dropping one a day, being super cranky others, fighting us terribly during the daytime hours while luckily his nighttime sleeping has stayed pretty consistent. I just knew he was trying to switch to one nap a day, but it wasn't easy at all! I have read all of the books, tried all of the different methods. Been on the verge of tears with my closest friends. But nothing was really sticking. What makes my schedule hard is that I wake up super early... I really like to leave my house no later than 6:30 even if that means a quick diaper change and both boys are in the car in pjs on the way to BeBe's house (yes I know I'm extremely lucky to have a mom that will lovingly take my children that early so I don't have to drag them to the markets with me), but this is where the boys differ again... Levi will walk in and curl up in her bed and sleep for another hour... while luca gets up and it's full steam ahead.  So over the last week I have FINALLY figured out how to survive this and get Luca on some sort of crazy schedule. I have found that instead of sleep training, Luca needs lounge training. Luca needed to be taught how to just chill. Every morning I have been lounging with him. If I get him before he wakes up himself he will cuddle with me just long enough that he is learning how to just chill with me. And then once he has lounged a bit he needs lots of protein food sources and LOTS of activity so that he can push through lunch and then go down for his nap. My hope is that I can eventually get him to lounge right over to BeBe's house and do what Levi does but who am I kidding that will never happen lol. The lounging technique is working for his naps as well. It has been hard for him to nap longer than about an hour and a half (which was his regular napping time when he was taking two) which just isn't enough for him... So I've been lounging him back to sleep if he wakes up. For example, today he woke up from his nap and I could tell it wasn't enough so I went in and cuddled with him on the bed for just a couple of minutes and then put him back into his crib and he slept another HOUR! I'm hoping that he will eventually just sleep through. 

But I'm just happy that I feel like I'm figuring him out. That is what I find is the hardest part of them growing up and changing, it's the feeling that you don't know them. It takes you right back to their first big change as a baby, whether it was feeding problems, sleeping problems, or crying problems. We are their mothers...we all feel like we should just know how to make their lives perfect and when we are tested and we don't know its hard!!

For someone who prided myself on not scheduling Levi, I sure have made a complete 180 when it comes to Luca. I'm trying to embrace it. Embrace the schedule, Embrace the change and Embrace the differences. So for all of you mommies out there who are parenting in a way that you never thought you would or are dealing with your own frustrations... Never fear YOU ARE NOT ALONE! 

xoxo chef a

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Last Day

On the iPod "The Sun is Rising" by: Britt Nicole

As I sit here at 10:15pm the night before the last day of school... I am a bit of a mess. I really didn't expect to be, but alas here I am a super anxious, worried, over-analyzing ball of energy. And to think last week I thought it was so crazy that my 4 year old was/is having concerns over the school year being over and the fact that someone is about to "move his cheese." I have no idea where he gets that from... But I digress...

Maybe it's the fact that time is flying by so fast or the uncertainty of what the next year will bring but to be honest it feels a little bit like the last day of summer camp. We are about to have the last friendship circle and as we burst into tears about leaving this place that we called home for the last month it strikes us that the reason we are crying is because we realize that we will never get this moment back... It will never be the same...

Today as I picked Levi up from what was his last full day in the 3s it was two fold... I looked at him and I saw the anxiety in his eyes. "Only one more day..." he told me as he hugged me hello... "I know, sweet boy" were the only words I could muster to say. In my heart, I know that he is ready to move forward, but as I watched him on the playground today it struck me... Which, if any, of these friends have become an "it" person for him? Am I doing my job to support the friendships he has made this year? Will he come back in the fall and be able to pick up where they left off? Will I? What about my mommy "it" friends? Is this the beginning of a lifetime friendship or will we gently go back to our "new regular" life this summer and this will be that year we were really close? So many unanswered questions... 

I've been actually feeling this anxious pull about the school year ending for awhile now. It's funny how life works, just when you feel like you are getting in your groove, life changes... Don't get me wrong, we are going to have a blast this summer. I will not miss Levi's ever present runny nose or the argument over school year bedtimes. But I will miss this moment in time... This is the last of the baby years. Whether any of us agree with it or not in PreK shit gets real...

When I discussed my concerns and fears with my resident advisor ie: my therapist :)
She reminded me that my feelings are all valid and pretty normal especially for a girl who has never been big on change. She told me to do something that at the time seemed crazy to me... She said to say my piece...If you don't want to see a friendship end... Be honest, tell the friend. If it's hard for you to say it... Find a song, Write it...

And she is right, well she is always right... 

I am a believer of true friendship. I pride myself on having real friendships that lack bullshit. I am straightforward, honest to a fault, an absolute overgiver, and despite my seemingly confident personality, inside there is a girl who is nervous about everything lol. But tomorrow as we leave Levi's school as a Prek student and as a veteran preschool mommy we will have said our piece... I will use this day to teach my 4 year old how to make sure that the people who have touched our lives over the last 9 months, know that they mean something to us. That their friendship has actually changed our life... And we are thankful for that... I will not worry if he sees me shed a tear over this year being over because I want him to know how very lucky we are to feel like our experience has been so great that there is actually something to miss... Many people aren't lucky enough to care...

Something tells me that the book "Who moved my cheese?" will become a staple in this house, but I'm really ok with that... I'm so lucky to have this sweet sensitive little boy who lights up my life and reminds me everyday what's really important.

Xoxo chef a

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Inner Loop

On the iPod "Georgia" by: Vance Joy

I'm well aware that only half of you will do this but go now and pull up this song on whatever you use... "YouTube" "Spotify" "iTunes" whatever. Hold the bottom speaker of your phone to your ear... (Careful that's it's not turned all the way up, but just loud enough that you feel like you are the only one in the room) now close your eyes and hit play... Haunting right? I love a song set in a minor key...

It's funny... Levi told me tonight that he loves to watch me listen to music... Man I love this kid. I mean if he only knew that this is mommy's escape but whatever... he gives himself time outs so to each their own! 

Today has been a rough day for me and although I'm not going to bore you all with the details I will say that my mom not being in town today and luca's decision to drop a nap last week and my own personal difficulty with schedule changes probably didn't help the day to begin with... Anyhow, it is what it is, all that really matters is that I have 364 days in the year to celebrate being a mommy even if today didn't go as planned! But just for fun I will tell you a little story that will make you laugh...

So some background might not guess this considering I write a very personal, very public blog... But I'm actually quite a private person. I have a handful of friends that are in the inside loop and in my "old age" I have become very picky with who I open up to.  I would admit that I'm a giver, a listener, and a helper to the many and outside of the inside loop, I come across as very confident, strong willed, and even some might say intimidating (it's a chef thing), but to those few who are inside the loop they know that every once in awhile...I lose it... Like really lose it... I'm a silent, can't catch my breath or speak crier and I'm TERRIBLE at asking for help. 

So today when one of my inside loop girls called me it was just the perfect storm... The exact right time when everything was falling apart and her response was simply perfect... In her sarcastic tone she said, "Man I thought you were going to make me feel all jealous with how perfect your Mother's Day was going..." And to that we both laughed... She then insisted that after we put our kids to bed we escape to the foot massage place... I mean who could say no to that! 

Anyways we get to the "parlor" at 8:30 for our $50- 90 minute "religious experience" and yes I'm referring to it as an experience because well we've been around the block with foot massage places and this one happens to be the best. Don't get me wrong this isn't like a "happy ending" kind of place... Well at least we didn't think so! So anyways here we are in a room full of others trying to escape as well and everything seems just perfect... My phone dies 5 minutes in which was kind of incredible because I tend to sometimes work on my phone during the massage... I know, I know. Anyways so the two of us at this point are laying on our backs with a towel over our eyes. And then it happens... I start hearing moans... Not just normal moans but like Manly moans... The kind that make you blush... So of course I rip that towel off my eyes and turn to my friend who is just lying there not even flenching! I continue just trying to ignore it but the scene from "When Harry Met Sally" is playing in my head and I'm starting to get the giggles and have an incredible desire to scream out, "I'll have what he's having!" Even my massage therapist is starting to giggle at this point!  And I'm starting to think, "I can't believe she is sleeping through this!!!" So as soon as our therapists leave then room to get the hot steamy towels to wipe the lotion off our legs. Tasha's eye mask rips off and she jumps up to an, "OMG, Gross!!" And I just bust out laughing!! We manage to compose ourselves before we out ourselves as the immature adolescents that we obviously are! They proceed to turn us over on our stomachs to work on our necks and backs... Before I know it my tank top is around my waist and anyone walking through the room is getting an eye full of side boob and all I can think is that the next person that walks through is going to say..."Amanda? Is that you?" And then I'm going to have to explain why I'm in a party room with half naked people while the gentleman to my rear is having a full on orgasm... Whatever, they are there for the same reason so what do I care right? Lol!   Actually by the end of the massage while I had a lovely Asian girl sitting on my naked ass crack gently moving my rib bones around I didn't even notice the moaning anymore... Ya right! Lol. So as the two of us laughed our way out the the "foot massage" place, I realized that this was really what it all is about... Having friends that know that sometimes all you need is a good giggle...

So to you ladies who are in my inner loop and who all actually oddly enough checked in with me yesterday of all days... Must have been told in the cosmos to you that it was a rough day but anyways thanks... Thanks for checking on your strong willed friend who always seems to have it together even though you and I both know better! Lol

xoxo chef a

Friday, May 8, 2015


On the iPod "Over You (feat. A Great Big World) by: Ingrid Michaelson

It's funny, I think I've always wanted to be a mom. It has always been on my road map, if you will, but I don't really think I even knew what being a mother meant... My own mom is pretty incredible and growing up she really made it all seem effortless. We always had what we needed and most of what we wanted. And even when she didn't understand the path we were taking she tried to be as supportive of us as possible. 

When I say this I don't want you to think my dad was anything but spectacular in most ways but let's just say our relationship with him grew as we did. I'm not sure how fatherly he was to us as young children unless we were perfectly dressed and not speaking, lol. No seriously, children were supposed to be seen and not heard. But regardless my mom really filled in for both of them in most ways and for all intents and purposes she did most of the hard stuff sort of alone...but she never made us feel like we were a burden (well except for the times that we knew we were being!)  

So I have to admit that I was a little shocked when I realized how hard it is to be a mom. Don't get me wrong, so far this is the most rewarding adventure I have ever taken. But it is brutally hard. I mean there isn't a manual... instead there are a million manuals all saying different things and that doesn't even include the verbal "suggestions" being screamed at you from ever direction and the constant worry that you are f$&@ing up. I mean I was told that until the baby sleeps through the night you will be exhausted and that's just a blatant lie... Levi is 4 and I'm still exhausted. If I'm not worrying about how much he knows today, I'm worrying about how prepared he will be for tomorrow. Or if he has enough friends or if those friends are true friends...  And if I'm giving him the opportunities he needs or deserves... If he is on the iPad too much... And If I'm missing something he is telling me, something I should know because I'm his mom and I should know EVERYTHING about him. Oh wait and that's just for one kid... Don't get me started on how Luca seems to go against the grain of every philosophy that having Levi taught me. 

Being a mom is also kinda lonely at times. I never thought my mom could have ever been lonely while taking care of us day and night, but being where I am now I can't imagine that she wasn't somewhat lonely at times. And I don't mean the kind of lonely where you are by yourself because with kids, let's face it, you are NEVER alone. It's more of a pit in your stomach feeling that every decision is just another chance to screw it up and that that one decision will define you as a mother.

And then I think... here my mom is 36 years later still mothering me... Still guiding me and my boys and fiercely protecting and supporting us at the same time as I struggle to find my way on this adventure. And still making it seem pretty effortless...

I honestly can't thank her enough for everything. She is my ultimate role model... The ultimate friend... The ultimate mother and Bebe. And for all of the rest of you mommies reading this struggling with this whole "mom" job. Never let anyone say to you... "Well what did you expect having kids would be like?" There is NOTHING that can get you ready or prepared for this job. It is incredibly hard with the most difficult hours and when they laid that baby in your arms for the first time you knew you would never stop trying no matter how hard it gets. You will continue to cherish the good days and fight through the hard ones and to your child it will always seem effortless...just know that you are not alone... There is an army of us out there, sometimes silently fighting an internal battle of our own expectations of what this journey should be like. Wishing we knew all of the right answers and praying we are at least getting some of them right... Wishing my mom and all of the mommies out there a truly effortless and magnificent day.

xoxo chef a

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Gift

On the iPod "Rockstar" by: A Great Big World

First off I have to say that I am so lucky to be doing some marketing/social media work for MoveStudio. First of all MoveStudio feels like home to me and actually none of the "work" I'm doing for them even feels like work! I honestly couldn't ask for more amazing owners to work with and I just love it! Can't wait to work more! Lol! A couple of months ago Jackie (the owner) and I had a long talk about preschool and teaching methods... When you are spending time with another mom who has preschool age kids the conversation almost always turns to preschool!! It also helped that we discovered that my nephew and her daughter are in Mother's Day out together making the school convo come full circle... Anyways I told her why a picked the preschool Levi attends, why I think preschool is so important, and how incredible Levi's teachers are for not only teaching him letters and numbers but also teaching him to have a heart, to respect his friends and how to change the world... Then we moved on to talk about other normal mom subjects like nursing babies and potty training. Lol. 

So about 2 weeks ago... Jackie messaged me about an idea she had to give some teachers a free class out of appreciation for everything they do. What an amazing gift! Because I know the teachers in my life spend so much time worrying about other people's kids that they don't spend hardly any time on themselves and that is just a travesty! 

I am so grateful for the teachers in this world because well it's not my forte. Don't get me wrong, there are things I can teach like how to make a bechamel sauce or how to cut the most perfect brunoise dice or chiffonade and I could even teach you scales on the piano or how to go about writing a song or even an English paper. But as far as teaching my child to count to 20 or to write his name, I'm the first to admit that I suck! It's not that I don't try because I do, but unfortunately someone always ends up in tears and honestly it's usually me. I mean Greenhill Prep School taught me how to write a paper in an hour and how to flash card my way into passing a history test with flying colors, but those hardcore techniques don't work so well with a 4 year old and I tend to get super frustrated very quickly! So levi and I are both lucky that he has amazing teachers who not only truly know him and love him, but who take the time to try to figure out ways to teach him what he needs to know and are nice enough to let me in on their secret ways to keep him focused so that I continue to try to "teach" him at home without hiding in the fetal position. 

Anyways, so I told Jackie that I absolutely wanted to give Levi's teachers a certificate. But then Jackie did something even better... She said, "Actually I want you to give all of the teachers at Levi's preschool a free class and a sauna pass!" I honestly was pretty taken back... What a treat for me to be able to gift them time for themselves.

So last week, in front of all of their students, I was able to give the teachers the MoveStudio gift certificates while also explaining to their students why teachers deserve to be thanked so much! MoveStudio has gone on to give the gift of time to many other teachers in our community this last week! So today as we start the official Teacher Appreciation week, I'd like you to take a minute and tell all of the teachers in your life what they mean to you because honestly there aren't enough gifts in the world to truly thank them for what they do! 

xoxo chef a

Friday, April 17, 2015

Love and Marriage

On the iPod, "Good Lovin (feat. Miguel) By: Ludacris

One of my good friends is right in the middle of a crossroads with her boyfriend... trying to see if there is something there to build a future with or if there are too many issues to go forward. Her latest text to me said something like, "I'm aware I'm ridiculous..." With an attached picture of her text with said boyfriend explaining that they are going to give it another go... 

It made me sit back and think of the many crossroads Mike and I have come to in our relationship and marriage. Saturday will mark our 6th wedding anniversary. But the journey started long ago, actually 16 years and 4 months ago yesterday... I have grown up with him... We are actually coming close to a time when we have been together more years than we haven't.  I would be lying to you if I said that it has been even close to perfect. Honestly, Mike and I have been through the ringer. 

I grew up believing that love should look like Lloyd Dobler in "Say Anything" holding a jam box over his head blasting "In Your Eyes" outside of Diane Court's bedroom window... It took me many years to realize that they also had to deal with big issues like the fact that Diane's father was going to prison for tax fraud among other things. And that his friend was a stalker who was also suicidal.  It wasn't all hot steamy sex in the back seat of a car and love songs...

Being in love and getting married means dealing with each other's families. It means learning to accept that you were raised differently and figuring out together how to raise your own kids knowing that even though you try to take the best parts of how you were both raised you will still undoubtably screw your kids up some. It means forgiving each other even when you think it might be impossible and honestly never giving up. It is going to sleep in your sons twin size bed together because you can't get your kid to sleep in there to save his life and even if you have to shove shoes under the door to lock it shut its still worth it to have the alone time together. Marriage is hard. Loving each other, qwerks and all, is so much harder than I ever thought it would be. But luckily we love each other enough to keep working at it. Our love is a living, breathing organism that really needs constant care, it is not just a piece of paper and words that we said to each other years ago. It is the words and actions that we say and do everyday. It is the way we fight and forgive. It's not easy and quite honestly if it was it would be boring. 

So I don't think my friend is being ridiculous...  I think she is being pretty damn brave. Trying to work on yourself or your relationship is the hardest, most giving thing you can do for each other and for yourself.  I have no idea if this guy is really "the one" for her, but my hope whether it is or isn't is that she comes out of it being stronger, knowing herself better, and wanting to try harder. 

Happy 6th Anniversary to my very own Lloyd Dobler... I love you so much Mike... Here's to many more years of trying... 

xoxo chef a

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Empty Seats

On the iPod "This Woman's Work" by: Maxwell

It's interesting how much our Passover table has changed... It's the one Jewish holiday that I seem to notice the empty chairs the most. I remember setting the table each year after we have lost someone... How final it seems when someone's seat at the seder table is in what feels like seconds... Gone. 

I grew up always being the youngest at the table... Sitting on what was a kitchen step stool instead of a chair because that was the last seat left and somehow everyone had convinced me that it was in fact the best seat.... Hmmmm. Anyways I remember how special the table looked, all of the symbolic things on individual Seder plates at each place setting. The sterling silver and fine china were all laid out on the beautiful embroidered tablecloths that my grandmother had made. It always felt like a royal party and I, of course, was the misunderstood princess always chasing after the big kids! 

After my grandfather died things changed a bit... My aunt started hosting, there were a lot more guests, and I no longer held the place of the youngest... And just like life our table has evolved... The little kids have all grown up and now we have little kids of our own. In what seems like minutes our Seder table is now filled with little voices again... Actually a cool dozen kids under 13, 9 of them 4 and under and 5 in highchairs. It's bittersweet to realize that the chairs are being filled again...

This is a pretty exciting Passover for me. Levi truly understands what we are celebrating and he is thrilled to share his new knowledge with all of the younger kids. It's amazing to see him so confident in knowing the story. I have been very busy cooking for all of my clients and although it is a crazy amount of work that includes a couple of sleepless nights it is a honor for me to make their Seder. To know that the food I am making is part of an experience for families all over this city makes my heart full. I've also been busy this year working on some new recipes from wonderful friends that have now forever changed the landscape of our celebration. 

So although some of the seats at our Seder table will always feel a bit empty... The new seats we have added are pretty incredible. So as another year rolls in I just want to take a minute to be grateful...

I am so grateful for work... For the opportunity to do what I love to do which is really so much more than just cooking food, it is truly creating a memorable culinary experience for generations of families near and dear to my heart. I am so lucky to have these amazing friends and family who fill up the seats in my life. I am very grateful for all of you, especially the ones who have listened to all of my rants this last week!

I wish those who celebrate Passover and Easter this weekend a joyous and memorable holiday. And I hope that by reading this little blog that has somehow managed to reach almost 30,000 hits in the last week. I have made myself a little seat in your life. 

xoxo chef a

Monday, March 23, 2015

Finding a place

On the iPod, "When the Right One Comes Along" By Sam Palladio

There's something about the sound of the chord progression on a guitar. I can't even really put it into words...the notes go higher and lower and then back again and the sound is so vibrant that you can actually feel the musician's finger tips slide across the frets. For me it's euphoric...

I have been trying to find my place at Levi's school... I haven't really figured it out yet. There are a handful of people I have a connection with... One of which I would even say is sort of magical and will hopefully be a friend for life. But the whole experience makes me think back to high school and I try to imagine how people might remember me and if that is so different from who I am now.

Now I'm a mom and a wife and a chef.  But in the back of the closet in the playroom there sits a guitar that used to define me. I mean my senior pictures were with that guitar. I spent a lot of time with that guitar... writing songs about really important things like love and loss and even possibly a song about smoking pot and saving the world that I sang at the talent show of a highly respected college prep school that will remain unnamed for the time being out of respect for that fine institution... A 12-string Taylor was the epitome of who I was... well really of who I am. In a lot of ways at that time it was a security for me. It set me apart from the pack... And I was oddly comfortable with that. So since I can't walk around with a guitar strapped to me I have to get to a place of being comfortable without a safety net.

One of my friends said that making friends as an adult is like dating... You have specific traits that you look for and you really just aren't interested in the bullshit. You want someone who has your back and is willing to put the time and effort into creating a real, lasting friendship and not just another acquaintance. Because acquaintances are just overrated...  So I will continue to be exactly who I am and I will let in the special ones who get me.  I might never really find my place at any school my kids go to... But instead will continue to have special "go to" people in my life who I respect and who respect me as well. Because it's not really about how many friends you have at this age but more importantly the quality of the friend...

xoxo chef a

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Lyrics

On the iPod "Already Home" by A Great Big World

About a month ago I made a decision to get back to MoveStudio and to Nia.

Nia is a fitness class that is a combination of martial arts, modern dance and yoga. MoveStudio is this unbelievable studio that has tons of different class but more importantly has been this amazing community for me.  But with two kids and work I was having a difficult time fitting it in. Allowing myself the time felt like a luxury that I really couldn't afford in so many different ways. I really have been missing it terribly and while I know that it is impossible to be there all of the time, I'm doing my best now to get there when I can! 

I've been going on Sundays. It's not my regular class but the time works for me and Mike  is able to watch the boys! It has been incredible to be back and surrounded by amazing women who give endless support. Last Sunday, Shannon (the instructor) said to us that, "the silence is the plate and the music is the food". Man, does she know the way to my heart or what!   Her words have stuck with me all week. If you don't already know is everything to me. I grew up in a house where music was quite literally blasting through the hallways. All genres, all of the time. My dad lived music... It was such a part of him that his funeral service had its own soundtrack. 

I'm a word girl I'm not going to lie. I can vividly remember opening my newest cassette purchase as a preteen only to lay the lyrics out on the floor of my bedroom and study every word...I still to this day look up every song. And if you are "lucky" enough to be driving next to me on any given day you will know that I can throw down a wicked performance in my car with choreography... I think that's what connected me to nia. It isn't actually the standard nia routines... It is the way instructors can take a song and slip it into the practice and how that one song will change my whole experience. The words just touch me... It's like I have this ability to twist them into what I need to hear that moment... 

I remember awhile ago a close friend told me that she missed my blog posts so much,  especially the iPod suggestions. The funny thing is that the songs I post are so much more than what happens to be playing on my phone as I write... If you think I haven't analyzed the words on repeat at least 20 times before I post it your wrong. It's not like the post always fits the song...The song actually becomes the my head at least. I would tell you what the song is saying to me but that just seems unfair... You should let it talk to you! 

Nia for me is so much than a workout. It's an experience... made richer by the lyrics. The music is what makes it better than just a boring silent plate... See you on the dance floor! 

Chef a