The Way Only a Daddy Can

I’m sitting at my desk working while my oldest, Julian, and my husband decorate our tree with lights in the other room, just within earshot.  The sounds of Julian’s joy and Chris’ pride have forced me to take  a quick break and share the many ways my husband is a great father. This is the third time today I’ve admired his role from afar.

My dad and his wife, Carol, came over for coffee and fruit this morning. Carol took pictures, my dad and I talked, the kids ran in and out of the kitchen, and around our table, gobbling berries on their way to the next stop in their ultra busy and important play lives.  The entire time, Chris kept mind of their exploits, ensuring they were safe, happy, and clean in the diaper region. My dad and Carol both remarked on his Chris’ role in the scene. That he naturally kept watch over the monkeys so the adults could visit. He’s a good one, that Chris.

Later in the day, as I busied myself with laundry, eyebrow plucking, and sorting out my recent purchases from a post-coffee shopping spree with Julian, Chris entertained the kids in the living room. I could hear laughter, funny voices, and “threats” of tickle attacks and loving tackles. He probably didn’t know I was listening. His way with them is so natural, so effortless. I know, he’s their father, but he’s such a good dad, friend, playmate.  While I love the kids dearly – their laughter, their smiles, their imaginations – I often feel stress when tasked with keeping a watchful eye on them without a distinct purpose (you know, like being at the zoo, the park, or Target). But to Chris, it’s second nature to make a play situation out of nothing. I so admire him for that.

Just now, as he and Julian went to “work” putting up the lights, he feigned being a boss, telling Julian what to do and expecting a good “job”, all the while infusing the chore with joy and fun.  He praised Julian’s accomplishments, bantered with the silly three-year old semi-nonsensical conversation coming his way, and made Julian feel Important and Special. I’m sitting here in the other room wondering how it is that I dread doing the mundane stuff. Putting up lights, folding laundry, all the little things that make a house go ’round. Why can’t I find it joyful and enlist little workers like Chris does during times like this?  Life isn’t segmented into parts: working parts, fun parts, necessary parts, hard parts. When you are a family, all the parts blend together. Chores can be fun as a family. Stringing lights with a three-year old might not be that easy, but it too can be enjoyable if approached like this.

Chris and Julian just took a break. Chris, still maintaining the “work” theme, indicated that he’s in a union, so he gets ten breaks a day.  Julian says, “ok, me too.”  And just like that Julian hopped up to his stool at the kitchen counter and fed himself crackers. When I need time away for a minute, it’s usually accompanied by whining and protest. But with Chris it’s just another step on the journey, just another part in the role they are playing.

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On Babies Growing Up

People with older kids say things to parents of small children like, “enjoy it while you can, they grow up quickly,” and you think, as the young ‘uns run around like two little tornadoes, “it can’t come fast enough!”

Then there are those moments, mostly when they are sleeping, or proclaiming their love with kisses and cuddles, when you think, “I hope they never grow up,” with tears in your eyes.

Somewhere in between, there is a balance. It’s called real life. The spectrum of parental emotion ranges from exasperation to complete, unconditional love. During the toddler years, particularly for those of us crazies who popped out two kids within as many years, the distance between those emotional poles is short. But as the little ones transform, albeit slowly, from helpless creatures to thoughtful, aware beings, the space between the extremes grows wider until one day we get a sense of what it means like to live in the middle. Balance.

Balance has recently, if only fleetingly, appeared in our home. Little shifts have occurred, like Julian (3 1/2 years) sharing a toy with Ben (20 months) unprompted. Julian becoming aware of others’ feelings. Last night I shut my finger in the door. It hurt like hell, but I held in the instinctual curse words with Julian just in the next room. He saw it happen though, saw me shaking the pain out of my hand as I did my clumsy holy-crap-that-hurt jig. As I walked into the kitchen, he called out from the other room, “mommy, are you ok?” The tone of his voice echoed genuine concern and compassion.

As these more mature scenes emerge in our lives, I begin to grasp the true sense of parenthood. Chris and I are no longer simply providing basic needs. We are shepherding two independent people into the world. We are crafting and molding actual humans. Two completely separate personalities, Ben with his abundant joy and Julian with his pensive caution. And while both remain capable of tearing through a room like a category five hurricane, they simultaneously grow, day by day, into little people with near-adult like sensibilities.

The best parts of the early years…the innocent laughter, the unconditional adoration, the blind trust…don’t disappear forever. Rather those qualities transform into a healthy balance of appreciation for life and caution. If we do right by these boys, we will cultivate that balance as they grow aware of their selves and their place in the world. If we do it right, we will neither lament the loss of the baby years nor will we impatiently await the day they are all grown up and on their own. With this awareness of that space between the extremes, we are free to truly appreciate each and every phase of our children’s lives.

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Toddler Artwork Collage Canvas Project

If you are anything like me – a working mom with two kids in daycare – you probably have mountains of artwork. I think we’ve brought home 1 or 2 pieces per day since 2009.  I’ll guiltily admit, I’ve thrown some away. Yes, I have. What was I going to do, put them all on the fridge? Keep them all in a box? I made a rule to keep anything that 1) had a hand print or footprint on it, 2) displayed good use of color (yes, Julian is quite a talented little impressionist), and/or 3) used stickers, paper collage, or three-dimensional objects. I typically discarded the stuff that appeared to be last minute piece scribbling designed to keep him busy for the last ten minutes of his day.

Even with all the “recycling” I had done over the years, we easily had a collection of well over 100 pieces. Despite my best efforts, I still had boxes of artwork I didn’t know what to do with. I also happened to have a TON of 8 1/2 x 11 canvases from a disastrous christmas project in which I tried to transfer photos using gel medium and color copies. For some reason, it worked fine for the lady on Pinterest, but not for me.  Of course they were supposed to be gifts and of course I waited until the 23rd to start the project. Of course my family forgave the lack of presents that year. It is the thought that counts, right?

To the piles of art and the canvases in need of repurposing, I added Mod Podge and voila: hangable art work for our (relatively) new home!

Julian’s First Three Years: The Art

How did I accomplish this masterpiece? Well, it helped to have so many great colors to choose from. I wanted to capture dates and handprints as well.  And I had to have a steely heart, because this project involved ripping, yes, ripping, his art into bits.  In the end, I hope you agree, it was well worth the “sacrifice”.  Below is a step by step guide to preserving an unassuming toddler’s art into a functional piece for the home.  Originally, I intended to hang these in Juilan’s room, but we liked it so much it garnered center stage in our foyer.

Canvas Art Collage:

What you need:

  • Mod Podge
  • 4, 6, 9, or more 8 1/2 x 11 canvasses, depending on how large you want the final work to be.
  • A crap load of toddler art
  • 1 Bottle red wine (optional)

Step 1: Comb through all the art and separate into color piles. I wanted to create a blended effect going from purple, to blue, into green, then yellows, oranges and reds.

Step 2: From the piles, I picked the pieces I liked best in terms of technique and content (remember, I favored a few handprints and a variety of dates to show progression). This is obviously very subjective and rejection of pieces is very difficult for a mom. But it can be done. A little red wine helps!

Step 3: Rip the chosen few up into pieces of various size and shape. I ripped organically, but you could cut as well for a different effect in the finished product. Be sure to keep the ripped bits in color piles if you want to create a blend like I did.

Step 4: Arrange the blank (or in my case the previously imprinted) canvasses on the floor or a table in the configuration you choose. For the placement of pieces, you want to push all the canvasses together to make your rectangle.

Step 5: Start setting the ripped bits where you want them, in collage fashion. They will overlap and hang off the sides, but that is fine. Ideally, they will overlap multiple canvasses as well. This is the step that, for me, took the most time and effort (and wine).  I had a specific vision in mind and it took a while to materialize.  And I think I scrapped what I had more than a few times to start from scratch. For this reason, you simply place the pieces. Do NOT yet apply any Mod Podge. Take a picture for reference:

Before Cutting, Take a Picture

Step 6: Once you are content with your layout, take some very sharp paper scissors and cut the paper you’ve laid out between each canvas, so that you have an individual canvas collage for each canvas you laid out. The idea is that when you are all done, the canvasses hang together as one unified piece. Cut very carefully and think ahead. You may need to move around some pieces if, for example, your cutting efforts will yield pieces too tiny to keep track of.

Step 7: After you are done cutting between each canvas, cut around what would be the outside edge of the entire layout.  I wrapped a portion of the outer pieces around the edges of the canvas to create color on the sides, but the inside pieces obviously won’t get that treatment. If you want to wrap the outer edge pieces around, leave an inch or a bit more hanging over each (finished size) outer edge. See picture below for detail of before and after finished, wrapped outer edges.

Far Right Corner Canvas

Outer side detail of wrapped pieces on finished product

Step 8: Carefully separate the canvasses and take a close-up picture of each one for reference:

Upper Left Corner Canvas

Step 9: Now that you have cut  and separated the entire thing back into workable, individual canvasses, it’s time to (finally) start Mod Podge-ing. Take an individual canvas, hold a paper towel over the pieces to keep them in place, put your hand carefully over the paper towel, and flip the whole thing over so that the pieces are face down on your work surface, then gently remove your hand and  then lift the canvas away slowly.  You then start with the bottom most piece (will be the top piece of your now upside down set), and spread Mod Podge over the back of the piece, then smooth it down on the canvas in the correct spot, according to the individual picture you took of that canvas. Repeat until all pieces are in place on that canvas. Repeat for each canvas. I worked with the adjacent one(s) next to the canvas I was Mod Podge-ing so I could align any pieces that straddled more than one canvas. Note: this step takes a long time. Took me WEEKS and much more WINE to finish each of my 9 canvasses. Hey, I am lazy when it comes to crafts, I work two jobs, I have two kids, I kept running out of wine. It happens.

Step 10: Once you are done applying the collage pieces to each canvass, spread Mod Podge over top of each canvas to seal. Read here to learn more about different finishing techniques with Mod Podge. I chose a ‘brushed’ look. I am quite happy with the result. In my limited experience working with Mod Podge, it’s impossible to wreck the finish.

Step 11: When they are all dry, hang the canvasses. I chose to break them apart, leaving about 1″ between each. If I had to do it over again, I’d spread them out farther, so play around with it a little bit before committing to nails in the wall.

Finished Masterpiece!

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Trying to Love My Bel-Bel

You’ve got to love toddlers, right? They can turn perspective on its ear without so much as a pause to consider anyone’s feelings. Take my son Julian’s latest obsession, for example.

Julian doesn’t know that mommy hates and hides her belly. When even so much as a hint of it peeks out from below a shirt, even at home, I scramble to cover it back up. I dream of the tummy tuck I’m too chicken and cheap to go through with. I wonder if a miracle cream exists to erase the road map left behind as evidence of my pregnancies.

But Julian doesn’t care about my lines and flab and my lack of all elasticity.  He sees my belly as just another play toy. It’s different from what he has, and therefore it’s just another plane of exploration on his quest for something interesting to pass the time.

We have a game that we’ve engaged in since he could first hold his own head up. I lay on my back and hold him parallel, facing me, suspended in air like a hovercraft. When still learning to speak he called it “hovercrap.” “Do hovercrap, mommy,” he pleads on a daily basis.

We still do hovercrap and now that he’s thirty-something lbs, I consider it a decent workout. The other day when my arms tired of the event, I put him down, straddled over my belly, for a rest. Instead of whining for more or running off to the next encounter, he lifted my shirt about four inches and looked for my belly button.

“Do you have a belly button, mommy?” he inquired.  Yeah, sort of…well, whatever is left of one after two 50-plus pound weight gains in as many years. I have an indent and wrinkles where one would normally be found, but it doesn’t look like yours does, buddy.

“I love this belly,” he exclaims as he lowers his body into a full bear hug around my mid section.

Really? Because I guess I don’t see what you see. Not so much love, but plenty of loathing.

Instead of covering up, I let him explore. He giggles and rights himself and says, “mommy has a bel-bel.” His new name for my flabby belly.

Now, rather than thinking of that wrinkly expanse of flesh with disgust, I see it through the fresh eyes of a youngster untainted by society’s expectations. I see just another part of a body he loves with all his little heart, because it’s part of the mommy he loves and trusts.

We continue laughing, playing, and tickling one another as my husband looks on. I don’t feel shame over my pudgy pooch, but feel proud that I gave life to this inquisitive, wonderful human. So my body isn’t perfect. Who cares? My kid loves it, and my husband is smiling.

Later Julian asks if I’m still wearing my belly. Yes, Julian, I am. With pride. Thanks for the perspective, kiddo. I love you, sweetheart.

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On Aging

Last week, I had lunch with a friend from high school. She requested i update my blog.

It has been 15 years since I have seen anyone from high school, and 19 years since I last saw my friend. As we ate, although we were different than before, I still saw her teenage self in her face. We both remarked how we couldn’t believe we were this old, and how neither felt this old.

In my 37th year, I’m reminded more frequently how fast 40 is approaching. It’s fine, except for when it’s not. On one hand, I feel young. I think young. I hang out with people who are young. Like my friend Alicia, and my kids.

I still don’t feel my age. But the little things keep reminding me. Like how it has been almost two decades since I graduated high school. And these things…

Other peoples’ kids think of me as an adult. My kids think of me as an adult. My parents might even think I’m an adult.

I pull muscles when I go to the gym now.

I put on no less than three different face creams at night.

I remember when Pearl Jam 10 was a new album, and now there is a movie called Pearl Jam 20. And 20 means years.

The contestants on American Idol were born when I was in college.

People who applied for a job I posted were born when I was in college.

Sometimes I’m shocked when the classic rock station plays music that debuted when I was a teenager. For that matter, sometimes the “oldies” station plays a string of songs from my youth. But I still think oldies stations are for old people and music from the 50’s. Nope. I’m now their demographic.

Jerry Maguire and Titanic  came out 15 years ago. It’s still hard to believe.

If I stay up past 10, I’m useless.

On that note, I should probably go to bed. Maybe I will dream I’m 30 again. And I remember when I thought 30 was old…

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Family Reunion

The St. Louis Arch

On my last day in St. Louis, I got to have fun and be a tourist, courtesy of my long-lost cousin Jamie!  Actually, we are second cousins on my mom’s side. I haven’t seen Jamie since 1985 when I was 10 and she came to visit our family in Arizona.  All I really remembered about Jamie from my childhood was her bright smile and cheerful personality, and that she had a fancy doll collection at her house.  In ’85, we road tripped all over Arizona, swam in the pool, and probably acted plenty silly.  Yesterday, we walked all over the riverfront area, ate some good Italian food, and acted plenty silly.

Jamie and I have so much in common – both majored in English, both have two boys….we even got married and had our boys at about the same age.  It was great connecting with family.  In Arizona, it’s just me and my dad, and of course my husband and boys.  But I haven’t seen any extended family in a very long time. We’re spread out all over this great country.  It was fun to laugh and reconnect with someone I’ve known my whole life.

Thanks for the warm welcome to your hometown, Jamie! Next time you are in Arizona, please allow me to return the favor!

Jamie and I at the Spaghetti Factory

 

The Arch

 

Tourist Amelia

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What 4Cs Taught Me About Twitter, and Other Random Musings

As mentioned in my previous post, I am attending the Conference for College Composition and Communication in St. Louis this week. I’m actually blogging this from a boring session – sorry!  

Because of this conference, and the hashtag 4c12, I now “get” Twitter! Yay!

I’ve had a Twitter account for my blog for over a year. I previously thought Twitter was good for following people whose blogs I liked, so I could see when they made a new post.  As far as hashtags go, I was perplexed. Most tweets look like gibberish at best, and at worst perhaps the fall of the English language. 

When I arrived at the conference, I somehow worked out that tweets about it fell under the hashtag 4c12.  I stumbled on a way to see that feed, and that’s when the light bulb went off!  I see, in real time, what is going on here at this huge conference. People live tweet sessions, talk about the best speakers, tell you where to go to get good food, what’s happening at which party, and how badly the wi-fi in the hotel stinks (ha! As if I needed Twitter to tell me that!).

I found myself addicted to the feed. On one hand, I learned quite a bit about different goings-on, and for a first timer, that was invaluable. On the other hand, I was constantly informed of what I was missing – such as the Bedford party – and that just made me feel like crap.  Ha! 

I realize most of my tweeps probably chuckle at my naivete and that’s ok. I’m writing this post not to out myself as a painfully behind the times neophyte, but to show the people I know in real life (most of whom do not use Twitter), that there is a purpose to the mysterious language known as hashtag! 

In other news, I didn’t get to visit as many restaurants as I would have liked during my stay.  Exhaustion, lack of inspiration, and my solo status drove me to the Renaissance Grand Bar for lunch and dinner on more than one occasion.  I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed every meal there! Most hotel bars lack creativity and nuance in their dishes, but this one hit the spot every time.  Among my better finds were wings, chicken and black bean quesadilla (with fresh guac!), BBQ brisket sandwich (haven’t had meat that tender EVER in Phoenix), and the hummus plate. 

The wings were perfect – large, moist, and meaty, with that perfect crunch on the outside.  I opted for the chipotle honey sauce, which was a bit too much on the honey side for my taste, but I enjoyed the wings just the same.  The hummus plate did what it needed to do – it was hummus topped with a generous portion of feta, surrounded not only with pita triangles, but fresh (and tasty) carrot, celery, and slightly steamed broccoli. 

I was very surprised by the quesedilla. This was my dinner choice last night, and I only picked it because it would be easy to eat without getting messy (unlike the wings and BBQ!).  To my satisfaction, it was delicious!  The chicken meat was fresh and spicy, the cheese was melty in just the right amount, and the tortilla grilled to perfection. The best part – it didn’t tall apart when you tried to eat it! 

All in all, I wish I could have tried more local dives and cafes, but most of the places were so packed with conference cliques and NCAA basketball fans, and I didn’t have the energy to drag myself out after long, long days attending panels and sessions. 

I did, fortunately, get introduced to Park Avenue Coffee and Gooey Butter Cakes (Yum!) by a local whom I met for coffee yesterday morning. Thanks, Kella!  The cake, a local treat, was to-die-for, and the cafe au lait was the best coffee I’ve had since I’ve been here. No, it was really excellent coffee. To say it was the best I’ve had while here is not saying enough, because that only compares it to my sub-par room coffee and Starbucks.  It was better coffee than I’ve had from a cafe in perhaps the last year or so.

Later today, I’m off to meet with my second cousin Jamie for another culinary adventure and some sightseeing.  More (with pictures next time) to come!

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Meet Me in St. Louis!

I am at a conference in St. Louis this week. For those in the business of teaching writing and comp, that would be the 4Cs. For my readers, the 4Cs is a rather large college writing teacher’s conference. I am fortunate that my university allows me to attend for professional development. I am also fortunate that I have eatery potential around my hotel! Today I discovered The Dubliner. I am normally leery of so-called “Irish” pubs in America. Some are very authentic. Think Seamus or Rosie McCaffrey’s in Phoenix. Others are offensively non-authentic. Think Rula Bula on Mill in Tempe. I have no actual beef with Rula, as a bar. However, when I walk in, I simply don’t feel like I’m in Ireland.

The Dubliner in St. Louis, fortunately, falls into the former category. With a dark wood bar, high ceilings, and authentic football flag and jersey décor, The Dubliner could easily be, well, in Dublin. It was the noon hour and I had a workshop to attend after, so I opted for water instead of Guinness. I’ll go back later for that, at some point. While deciding what to order by way of food, I found the staff beyond friendly and informative. Bob, the bartender, was forthcoming with information about the specials and regular selections. I was a bit ahead of the lunch rush, and it was nice to have the personal attention. As I discovered near the end of my meal, when it was busier, Bob gave the same focused attention to all patrons.

I was in need of lunch on the lighter side because I wasn’t exactly famished. However, I needed to have something to tide me over until after 6pm when my session concluded. I passed on the lunch special – shepherd’s pie – because of its heft. I craved fish and chips, but knew that portion would be more than I could handle. I settled on the cod roll (sandwich) with the green side salad option.

Whilst waiting for my meal (like how I said “whilst,” instead of while, because I’m talking about food from across the pond?), I had the opportunity to chat with one of the owners, Eddie. Eddie noticed me taking a photograph of the bar and remarked that I must be extremely bored to be taking pictures of an empty bar! I let him know it was to document my culinary adventures. Eddie opened up about some of the unexpected sustainable aspects of the restaurant. The Dubliner buys local, hormone-free, sustainably raised pork, which is butchered on site! The pub makes its own sausage (why didn’t he tell me this before I ordered the fish?) and also tries to source local, humanely raised beef. Ah, the cod. Eddie assured me that it was fresh, which I will notice from the way it flakes on a bias.

Eddie told me how he worked a stint as a university administrator in a nutrition program, and his involvement with local farmers markets. We had a nice little chat. I enjoyed learning more about the local farmer’s market scene and was unexpectedly surprised by the pub’s efforts toward sustainability. My cod sandwich arrived piping hot and fresh, as promised. Ultra-light beer batter and a soft, feather-light crusty bread surrounded the fish. I mean this bread (baked locally) was perfect – not heavy in the least. The tartar, which came on the side, was made on site and had a delicious zip to it. The sandwich, of which I ate all, was just what I was looking for- so surprisingly light! The side salad was basic – just chopped romaine – but crispy, fresh, and decked with a tasty vinaigrette. All in all, it made for a delicious lunch and a great experience. Toward the end of my meal, the pub filled with conference goers and I chatted with a few.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the truly unexpected – The Dubliner offers a different game burger each day. I don’t mean a burger special that you eat while watching March Madness. I mean a burger from a different exotic animal each day! Today’s game burger was antelope. That’s right, antelope. A gentleman across the bar tried it and had good remarks. Bob, the bartender, let me know that the offerings are as far flung as kangaroo and ostrich! The meat is sourced from a game reserve out of Texas. Who knew? He said in general, the game burgers are well received. I’m not really that adventurous, but perhaps next time I’ll try an exotic burger. Why not? When in Rome…or St. Louis…. If anyone at the Cs is reading this – what great restaurants have you found near the conference?

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San Francisco Post

Lucky me, I was able to spend a night and two days in sunny San Francisco this week.  That’s right, I said sunny.  I packed my winter coat, umbrella, and multiple fuzzy scarves in anticipation of cold, foggy weather…and, it was sunny. And with a wool coat on, hot.  I suppose I brought the sun with me, what can I say?  Highlights included: meetings with interesting people, catching up with friends, and exploring a very cool area of the city.  I stayed in the wonderful Hotel Vitale, right on the waterfront.  It is located across from the Ferry Building, which happens to be the best little foodie mall ever.  I brought home a neat little pepper grinder, a small fortune worth of chocolate, and pictures.  And without further adieu…

View from my hotel room

Who doesn’t love salted pig?

Happened on a Thursday Farmer’s Market with beautiful produce, perky flowers, and MEAT

Please note, multiple rotisseries of meat dripping onto a bed of potatoes....

And, the piece de resistance….everywhere we went, there were three garbage options: trash, recycling, and compost.  I’m serious! Compost – everywhere!! Oh, yeah, and I also worked.  I couldn’t get over the myriad differences in the work culture between our San Francisco office and the Phoenix office in which I work.  Fully stocked kitchen (six different coffee –  by the cup – Coke Zero till you pass out, Cheerios, bananas, water – sparkling and still – juices, teas, anything you could want.  Vast, open work spaces, couches, half-completed puzzles everywhere, whiteboards for walls, you name it.  It was a trip.  I couldn’t get over how down to earth and nice everyone was.  So accommodating.  It was a great little mid-week jaunt.  I hated to see it end, but of course I wanted to get back to my little cuties as soon as I  could.  Such a nice little mommy break!  And, I part with a sunset….

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Dear Starbucks

We’ve had a good run; a nearly 20-year love affair that started with an Italian soda and ended with a burnt Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I loved your mocha, your caramel macchiato, your petite vanilla scones. I loved your frappaccino, your venti anything, your atmosphere.  Your red paper cup bedecked with snowflakes, lovingly cradled in a cardboard sleeve, ushered in many a holiday season.

When I went astray last year with my new Keurig, I had hoped you would form a partnership that would bring your coffee, in single k-cup portions, to my home.  When you debuted your holiday flavors this fall, I dutifully returned to you for my Pumpkin Spice Latte.  A small splurge on a crisp Friday morning. I nice way to let you know you were gone, but not forgotten.  And how did you greet me? With a burnt-tasting, luke-warm, five-dollar disappointment.

Weeks later, you announced your relationship with k-cups.  But I was over you already. The lustre was gone. After a year of expirimenting with single-portions of new and exotic coffee blends in an effort to develop my tastes, I knew I no longer wanted you.  I suspect I never liked your coffee in the first place. No, I only loved how you made me feel.  I could spend a few bucks and be special, holding that strategically branded cup that you designed to make me feel Important. I fell for your cozy, comfy oversized chairs and your carefully selected urban-cool jazzy music.  You lured me by promising consistency and predictability, whether I was in Olympia, Phoenix, or London.

But I won’t be spending my money in your store. I can create cozy at home.  I won’t be buying your k-cups. They only offer coffee, and it seems that is not what I expected from you in the first place.  I know that you will be fine without me. You haven’t even noticed my absence.  You can keep on fooling people into spending a small fortune each month to sip from a paper cup of dreams.

I’ve got a virtual coffee store on my kitchen counter and I’ve got limitless jazz on Spotify.  I’ll decide what to drink, how to drink it, and in what language to say “large” or “small.” I’ll determine what flavor signals the start of the holiday season.  And I won’t even miss you, Starbucks.

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