The House Built On L♡VE & Shenanigans

The In's and Out's of Family Life in Charlottesville, VA


14 Comments

The End Of An Era

 

IMG_3532

Ahh, peace and quiet.

Just me, my thoughts, and my computer.

It’s one of the main things I’ve always wanted.  Something I’ve always talked about.  You’ve all heard me mention how I couldn’t wait to be alone in a tranquil house, free to write, feeling unencumbered with no distractions.

And now I’ve got it – that mystical, magical, majestical day has finally arrived.  Oh yeah, IT IS ON!

Wow, right now in this moment, I can attest to the fact that silence truly is GOLDEN!

So I’m supposed to be having the time of my life right? This is supposed to be my time to shine!

Then why am I sitting here alone awash in an overwhelming sense of loss?

Why are there more tears in my coffee than cream?

DSC_0719Then it hit me…I think I’m actually experiencing, of all things,  Separation Anxiety from my kids. Especially from Journey, who has been with me the longest and is the last little birdie to leave the nest.  PBS.org and AhaParenting.com both have interesting articles on the subject.

 

DSC_0568_2I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I feel this way.  For the past eight years, I’ve been a stay-at-home dad – even though it took several years for me to accept and become adjusted to the role of being a full time parent.  There is so much joy associated with being a full time caregiver to ones children, but it is also a lot of work, particularly if you choose to parent consciously.  There are long stretches of monotony associated with the routine of being at home all day with children.

I never thought that I’d ever get used to staying at home with three little girls.

But I did.

IMG_3534I found myself in a unique situation as a dad who stays home with kids. Its true that the numbers of fathers staying home have been steadily growing lately, (2 million dads vs 10 million moms) however when I started out in the gig, I was the only one I knew locally. We hardly ever got invited to play dates by moms in those early years, because I guess being the only guy on the block at home during the day seemed quite unusual to most.

I never thought that I’d ever get used to being the only guy at the park surrounded by a sea of moms, making our own fun.

But I did.

DSC_0076_3When you meet people at social gatherings for instance, they love to ask, “So, what do you do?”  You should have seen some peoples faces when I told them what I did all day.  They couldn’t understand the concept of a man staying home with kids.  It was as if I was just a weirdo babysitter or something. They’d quickly develop a disinterested look, and politely excuse themselves so they could chat with someone who they felt had greater career aspirations.

Later, in an effort to appear like a “normal guy,” I began to preface my answer with, “Well I worked for Sprint for eleven years, and now I’m staying home with my girls for awhile…until they go off to school.” I made sure to insinuate how temporary I felt my current situation  was, and I’d soon be back in the corporate world making money like a man is supposed to.

As time went on, my perspective changed, and I learned to eliminate all pretense. I have come to realize how important my position as a father who stays home with his little girls truly is.

I never thought that I would get comfortable proudly affirming to people that I’m a stay-at-home dad.

But I did.

Because I realized after all these years, that I’ve been more than just a stay-at-home dad.

I am:

  • a nurturer
  • a role model
  • a teacher
  • a chef
  • a nutritionist
  • a first-aid provider
  • a household manager
  • a maid
  • a butler
  • a spiritual advisor
  • a protector
  • an event coordinator
  • the head cheerleader.

These are some of the many hats that stay-at-home parents must wear.  And I finally got the hang of it…accepted it…and for the most part, have relished in it.

IMG_3531

 

One went off to school, and then there were two.  

Then two went off, and then there was one.  

Now all three are off, and at home there are none.

That chapter of my life is all but done.

So just like that, POOF…its just little ol me holding it down during the day – and a new chapter begins.  Can I get used to whatever the Universe has for me next?

I’m sure I will.

MB

DSC01675 DSC02949 DSCN0560 DSC_0383_2 DSC_0272 DSCN0552 DSCN0056 DSC04716_2DSC_0168_2 DSC_0333_3


1 Comment

What’s On The Menu? – Cuban Sandwich

The flight attendant informed us that it was time to fasten our seat belts.  We were beginning our descent into Miami, on our way back from Jamaica.  I looked out of the window to catch an arial pic of South Beach with my phone, but to my chagrin, I only saw that thick and ominous rain clouds had blanketed the city.  I was fortunate to have captured rather decent snap shots of the other cities we had briefly visited  en route to the Caribbean, so I was disappointed to miss out on this one.

IMG_3481

Flying over Baltimore.

IMG_3483

Landing in Philly.

I looked across the aisle toward the girls and gave Delaney a little wink.  “Are we landing Dada?” I nodded affirmatively and smiled reassuringly.

IMG_3484

Journey on board.

Suddenly, the pilot turns the nose of the plane upward steeply, and begins to accelerate rapidly! As we quickly climb to a higher altitude, we begin to bank left sharply.  Stunned by what is now taking place, I gripped my arm rest a little tighter, and slowly begin to look around at the other passengers to gauge their reaction to our sudden change in direction…up instead of down.  The faces I saw expressed exactly what I was feeling – utter bewilderment.  Their wide eyed looks told the whole story – many of them I’m sure were hoping that their worst terrorist fears where not actually coming true!

The once talkative folks who had just moments before filled the cabin with pleasant incoherent chatter, where now deafeningly silent.  You could cut the tension with a knife.  By now most of them had focused their attentions toward which ever tiny egg shaped window would give them the clearest view from which to assess this anxious situation.

Updrafts…downdrafts…we rocked from left to right and back again!

Thirty nerve-racking and turbulent filled minutes later, after circling the city, we once again began landing procedures and touchdowned safely into cloudy Miami.  Most of the passengers, including myself, erupted into spontaneous joyful cheers – each of whom would have probably kissed the ground like the Pope once they disembarked, if they would’ve had enough nerve.

We never found out what the deal was!

This is not how we wished to “take our talents to South Beach.”

Still rattled from the whole airplane ordeal, we made our way to the hotel that we planned to stay in for the evening.  We dropped the bags off in the room and headed (legs shaking) down to the hotel restaurant.  I found an old Miami classic waiting on the menu…The Cubano.

It was pretty good.  Good enough to inspire me to attempt to make my own back home.

IMG_3525IMG_3526

There are several sites that offer recipes for Cuban Sandwiches, but I used this one at Food Network.com.  As always, follow the directions from the site, but the recipe calls for:

Ingredients
Cuban Pork:
1 pound boneless pork shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed with the side of your knife
1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 lime, juiced
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 long Cuban bread roll      *NOTE – I used Italian Bread because I couldn’t find Cuban.
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 thin slices Swiss cheese
1 cup bread and butter pickles
8 thin slices deli ham
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

IMG_3527IMG_3528

I thought our Cubanos turned out beautifully and were muy bien. I added a side of rice and black beans which was a nice touch.  We had left over roasted pork for a week, but that was just fine with me.

I encourage y’all to try it out…Buen provencho!

The results are in, and here is what the folks had to say about their meal:

Rachael – “This is good, but the meat needs to be sliced a little thinner.”

Marley – “I didn’t like it so much.  I didn’t like all the different stuff inside.”

Delaney – “A little bit yummy.”

Journey – “I want bacon.” 

MB


2 Comments

What’s On The Menu? – Jerk Chicken

Wah gwaan” everyone, we are back and settling in from a fantastic week on the island of Jamaica.

It was our first time visiting JA, and needless to say, we had a fabulous time.  We sat on the beach, waded into the Carribean, ventured into the hills to pay our respects to a musical legend, and swam with dolphins.

But most of all we ate!

We stayed at an all inclusive resort called The Grand Palladium.  A beautiful establishment which boasts 10 different resturants varying from Indian, Asian, Mexican, and Seafood cuisine…just to name a few.

DSC_0612But to my surprise, one of the most delicious meals we had on this lush island (filled with so many sights and sounds and exotic flavors) was actually – on the side of the road.

In Negril, outside of the very popular eatery Rick’s Cafe, we ran across a very unassuming set up in a most unlikely place.  A couple of guys had a smoker and were busy fixing up authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken.

DSC_0613DSC_0614DSC_0615

Hot thick smoke filled the air from the grill, while cars whizzed by on the narrow road we were standing mere inches away from.  But there we stayed, braving it all to enjoy some of the most flavorful chicken we’d ever tasted.

It was so good that I was inspired to try and make it myself once we returned stateside.

DSC_0616I don’t have a smoker, so I chose to bake the chicken.  Since the guys from Seasoned To The Bone, weren’t about to give up any of their jerk secrets (and I did ask), I used this recipe for Baked Jerk Chicken at AllRecipes.com.

The recipe calls for the the following ingredients, but you’ll find the actual cooking instructions by clicking the link above.

  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

  • 1 (2 to 3 pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

 

DSC_0624

Real coconut water to wash it all down with.

DSC_0618DSC_0628DSC_0633DSC_0635

This is a very easy dish to make – No Problem.  I’ve got to admit though, it was not the same as in Jamaica…but everything was irie none-the-less.

Ya mon!

IMG_3490IMG_3491

The results are in, and here is what the folks had to say about their meal:

Rachael – “It’s okay…for your first attempt.”

Marley – “It’s in the middle.”

Delaney – “Yeah, it’s in the middle.  Kinda good, kinda not.”

Journey – “I don’t like Jerk Chicken.” (As she pushes her plate away)

MB