Cheap recipe to turn that frown upside down

You know how sometimes you start to feel a teeny tiny bit like you have some inkling of what you are doing some of the time?  And then the parenting gods laugh in your face and smite your smile away and you are left to pick up the pieces of your broken schedule that is being stomped on by cranky tots?

No?  Just me?

Anyways, that’s where I am now.  After we recovered from jet lag from our recent trip Stateside, I thought things were back to business as usual.  Then two things happened that rocked my little world.

First, Henry discovered that he can climb out of his crib.  I know.  Like you, I am also pretty shocked that it took him this long.  He probably could have been doing this a year ago.

And I’m all, now what??  Do we accept that this is happening and put the toddler side on his crib?  Move him to the bed?  His climbing actually looks pretty safe so I’m not as worried about him hurting himself.  I just need to figure out how to convince him to stay put during the night.  And probably do a little more childproofing for when he doesn’t.  I am definitely not used to having Henry pop up in unexpected places, and the sound of his bedroom door busting open is starting to haunt my dreams.

Second, Henry is trying to drop his nap.  And my efforts at getting him to have “quiet time” on his own have been mixed.  Not cool.  I mean, I always knew this day would come, but I’m not ready.  Some of it is for me.  Without nap time, I may never get anything done ever again.  But part of it is for him.  He still seems pretty tired.  So now I didn’t get a break, and I’m dealing with a crankypants kiddo.  #winning

Needless to say, I’m feeling a little knocked off my game.  It doesn’t help that I am still in vacation mode.  Staying up too late.  Extra glass of wine at night.  Skimping on exercise.  I know exactly what I need to do to feel better.  I just haven’t gotten there yet.  I’ll work on returning to reality after the holiday weekend.  Probably.  Definitely.  Maybe.

Since I was a little out of it this morning, I decided a pick-me-up was in order.

For a shot of happy, I’d normally hit up a friend for cappuccino after dropping Henry at school, but people either have guests or are out of town or working or some such today.  And I didn’t feel like chasing Mac around the cafe all by myself.

Mac and I stopped at the store.  Instead of just the usual groceries, I added some heavy cream.   And at the checkout, I picked up a four-pack of my favorite Kinder chocolate.

When we got home, I made some seriously weak coffee because we were all of out of decaf.  Then I poured in a tad bit of heavy cream.  And then Mac and I split the chocolate.  (Mac had no complaints on this plan.)

Then Mac and I went to go play.  Although I was late to the podcast party, I’ve been turning on podcasts in the background lately when Mac and I party down.  I find that I can still read books and have dance parties and toss balls just fine, but it adds a little interest for me.

But today instead of a podcast, I decided to break out some bigger guns.  I fired up Netflix and put on a comedy special in the background.  (John Mulaney’s New in Town was the winner.)

Aside:  for the moment, I listen to saltier materials when it is just me and Mac.  I guess that will change soon when Mac masters “ball” and “mama” and then goes straight to F-bombs.  Isn’t it funny how kids make you notice profanity?  After watching Macklemore’s new video for Downtown, I showed it to Henry because I thought he would like the mopeds.  I remember it being OK.  It was NOT OK.  I should have expected the language, but I somehow missed it.  Parenting FAIL.

Aside Aside:  How fabulous is Eric Nally in the Downtown video?  He is my new fashion icon, and I am not kidding in the slightest. 

And so it was that after a treat and some laughs, I left to pick up Henry with a smile on my face and enough energy to want to write a blog post.

As for Henry, we reached a tenuous compromise today.  I told him that if he stayed in his crib–reading books or whatever–for an hour that he could get out and watch TV.  There was some fighting when he wanted to go straight to TV, but eventually he caved.  The hour alarm just went off, but guess who is fast asleep . . .

What is your go to cheap pick-me-up?  Do you also love the video for Downtown?  And any advice on this sleeping thing?  How do you get your children to stay where you put them?  Or is that just the most naive thing I’ve ever typed?

Happy chocolate day!

I’m not big into Valentine’s as an adult.  Remember how fun it was in elementary school?  First, I got to pore over the wall of Valentine’s at the store.  (No handmade craftiness for us.)  Would I get Strawberry Shortcake or the Smurfs?  What would my choice say about me??

Then, I would divide up the eight cheesy cards in the pack and completely over-analyze which message should go to each person.  Would the “you’re the sweetest” or the “be my valentine home run” card better convey my affection to my crush?  And then what did his card to me mean?  Please tell me I’m not the only person that did this.  Looking back, I’m sure guys just ripped through the bag and did some nuanced calculation like “chocolate? No?  Next card.”  Sometimes it is hard to be a girl.

Now I fall into the “Valentine’s Day is a forced display of affection that should be shown all year round and not because Hallmark tells you to” camp.  But I do like chocolate.  I’ve told James I thought it would be super romantical if he would get me an enormous box of chocolate–even better if marked down the day after–that is so big that I could take a bite and then throw away any pieces I didn’t like.  “Why wouldn’t you just look at the chocolate guide?” says you.  Me:  What sort of monster are you?  I bet you read the last page of novels first.  Did you listen to nothing Forrest said?  You don’t get to know what you’re going to get!!!  (James has delivered on the giant chocolate box on multiple occasions.)

Anywho, not necessarily for Valentine’s but happy coincidence, I found myself on a voyage to chocolate.  A friend mentioned a “chocolate factory” down the tram line from us.  I thought this would be an excellent outing with my mom.

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The chocolate factory in question is Said dal 1923.  Go on and click over there for some serious chocolate porn.  Said is not too far from Termini.  We hopped on the #3 tram and took off.  (And by hopped, I mean lugged two children and manhandled a stroller onto the tram.)  We probably got off a stop too soon, but we oriented ourselves and made it OK.

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We had been warned that Said is down an alley.  There is a sign on the street, but I doubt I would have found this if I hadn’t been looking for it.  Willy Wonka, I am not.

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We rolled in.  (Literally, because of the stroller.  Get it?)  Chocolate abounded.  Cases of chocolate.  Chocolate bars.  Chocolate spoons.  Chocolate covered coffee beans.  I had to tell Henry not to touch the glass about 75 times.  That kid is more into chocolate these days than Cathy from the comic strip.

Up front, Said has the chocolate cases and some cafe seating.  The restaurant doesn’t open until 4:00 pm and you need reservations, but they were nice enough to let us poke around in back.  It has a reclaimed wood Pottery Barn kind of feel.  Very open and airy, but also cozy.  It would be a great spot for a super romantic styles date.  Apparently, for the food, they put that chocolate on everything.

Mac napped, until he woke up and still didn't get to enjoy any chocolate

Mac napped, until he woke up and still didn’t get to enjoy any chocolate

Our mission was the hot chocolate.  (The cafe also featured coffee with chocolate in various forms.)

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Deciding to hedge against toddler rage, we ordered three cups.  Hot chocolate with chili, with cinnamon, and just milk chocolate.  All with homemade whipped cream, natch.

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Decadent does not even begin to describe this stuff.  It is sort of like trying to drink pudding.  Or chocolate mousse.  Henry ate it with a spoon.  Adding the whipped cream made it a little more beverage like.  It was truly ridiculous.  My mom even uttered the unthinkable phrase, “I don’t think I can do any more chocolate” at one point.  It was that much chocolate.

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All in all, it was an excellent outing.  Trams showed up right as we rolled up.  We did not suffer any meltdowns whatsoever even after my mom DARED to utter “well, things are going good so far” midway through the outing.  Henry may have touched a cigarette butt, but this is why we have soap.  I want more outings like this.  Rasslin’ two kids onto public transit by myself can be crazy tough.  But I’m vowing to do more.  Particularly if there is a sweet reward at the end.  And you better believe, I’ll be back here for a date night soon.  Just not for Valentine’s Day.

Said dal 1923
Via Tiburtina 135, 00185
Tuesday – Thursday 10:00 – 00:30
Friday – Sunday 10:00 – 01:30
(+39) 06/4469204

Big V-Day plans?  Are you pro or con?  At least, pro chocolate though, right?

My kind of errands


On Saturday, around 5:00 pm, in the finally crisp fall weather, we set off on our evening passagiata.  Passagiata is that special time in the late afternoon when you just walk, browse store windows, see and be seen.  Another expat describes it well here.  The people watching really is fantastic.  I particularly like this walk because, if Henry will consent to being stroller-ed, it is almost like a mini-date for James and me.

Although restaurants won’t open until around 7:00 pm, most of the stores are open, after possibly being closed during mid-afternoon.  We took advantage of this to check a few tasks off the list.

Up first, the tabacchi.  That’s right, the tobacco store.  We don’t smoke, but I almost think of these things like gas stations for pedestrians.  You can get snacks, magazines, and–our aim–metro/bus tickets.  I’ve got 10 tickets burning a hole in my pocket now.  I’m hoping to share some adventures in public transportation soon!

Next, we strolled over to the wine store.  I’m still scared to take in the stroller because of space issues and fear of Henry grabbing bottles, but James picked up more recommendations from his fave employee (a French woman who speaks excellent English).  The last batch had a good mouth feel, but, now that the weather is cooling, I’m looking for something more robust.  Look for more wine tweets on these soon.

And then, the pasticceria.  Oh, the pasticceria!  This is a pastry and chocolate shop that we have passed many times but never entered.  (I again blame the stroller and Henry grabbing things.)  James came out with 18 euros worth of amazing looking chocolate.  He picked up some dark chocolate bark with hazelnut pieces and some little bonbon squares.  We’ll see how long these stick around.  They are incredibly rich so it would be hard to eat a lot of them at once.  I think.

After the kids went to bed, we had some incredible takeout from Himalaya’s Kashmir.  Followed by a pretty stellar wine and dessert course.  This was a nice Saturday night before dealing with Daylight Savings Time, which I now know to have been invented only to torture parents.  We start earlier than the U.S. so for the next few days, I’m only five hours ahead of you folks on the East Coast.