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Best One Bowl Cocoa Brownies & Why You Shouldn’t Feel Sorry For My Daughter

Best One Bowl Cocoa Brownies & Why You Shouldn’t Feel Sorry For My Daughter 

Best One Bowl Cocoa Brownies -P

Tater likes to stand on her red stool to help me cook. She’s sloppily mixing the cocoa into the batter when she looks up at me, “Mom, Did you know some people don’t even have houses?”

“Yes, honey. I know.”

“Well, that makes me SUPER lucky. Because I have two houses.”

I smile all the way through to my guts. When you’re a divorced parent, the impact it could have on your kids keeps you up at night, follows you around all day, and seeps into every conversation you have with them.

“And some people don’t have moms. And some people don’t have dads. And I have a mom AND a dad!” She starts to count this on her fingers, one for mom, one for dad, “And I have two houses” two more fingers go up. He tiny little almost-five-year-old hand is holding up four fingers. She’s showing me how lucky she is, but all I can see is how lucky I am.

tater brownies

I worked with kids in Los Angeles for nearly a decade. Probation and foster kids who didn’t have enough pieces of parents to make a whole one. Birthdays went forgotten, homework didn’t matter, graduations lost, Christmas morning might only include a hastily wrapped donated present, clothes rarely fit well, most kids never knew what love really felt like. I think of these kids when people tell me they feel sorry for my daughter.

I image a middle aged, upper income, white man bending down to a talk to a foster kids about this. A kid that has never had a birthday party, never woken up on Christmas morning to a stack of presents, a kid who has never heard, “how was your day?” as they walk in from school, a kid that doesn’t know what a relationship with a parent is supposed to look like. I image this man trying to tell that kid how sad it is that my daughter is loved by two parents, has two rooms filed with toys. My daughter who has both parents planning a big birthday party for her. My daughter who hears “I love you” every single day from one or both of her parents. I imagine the confusion on the kids face when they try to understand why this is sad, just because those two loving parents live in different houses.

too many houses

You could tell those kids how sorry you feel for my daughter. Or maybe you can tell the kids who go to bed hungry. Or maybe you can say it to the kids who fall asleep every night listening to their parents scream at each other. But please, don’t tell my daughter that you feel sorry for her, she’ll have no idea why.



Best One Bowl Cocoa Brownies

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 large brownies


  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour


  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Add melted butter, sugar, cocoa power, vanilla and salt to bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Add the eggs, stir until well combined.
  4. Sprinkle with flour, stir until just combined.
  5. Pour into an 8X8 baking dish that has been greased.
  6. Bake at 325 for 28 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Best One Bowl Brownies -3


The Power of Honesty In Divorce

Tulip pint dark

I see the man I married when I was 22 sitting at a pub table. He’s now my ex-husband. It’s just the two of us in a shitty pub in an industrial part of Seattle. He has this look on his face that I know he’s trying to hide, he’s trying to play it cool but he looks like the rabbit I found when I was a kid. A water soaked rabbit that was trying to hide, trapped in the corner of the pig pen after it had fallen into the water trough. The mud and water saturated bunny looked at me as if to say, “Don’t hurt me, I don’t know how I got here.” Chris has that look now, he’s trying to hide it. I know that look because I have it too when I see him, “Don’t hurt me. I don’t know how we got here.”

It’s always a little awkward when we start, because we know each other to core of who we are, but the past months have made us strangers. Like an old toy in new clothes. I know how he smells when he wakes up still drunk from the night before, I know why he hates Paul Bunyan, I know the sound his feet make in the shower, but I have no idea what he’s done for most of the past 11 months outside of a vague schedule and frequent text photos when he has our daughter.

I sit down across from him, smile, we start the awkward small talk until the beers we have ordered have soften the edges. We do this about once a month. Have drinks before I have to go grab Tater from Preschool. It’s our way of checking in, staying connected, reminding ourselves that there is still love, care and concern here, even in the midst of the storm of chaos that is divorce. No matter how much the riptide of emotions try to toss me around, I always push myself back to the core truths: I love him. I can’t be married to him anymore. He’s my daughters father. He’s a great father. Only good can come from us remaining real friends.

We talk about mutual friends, our families, our jobs, and then the talk wanders into dating. It’s the most raw of all the subjects, the wound still open, we approach gingerly, like it’s a live bomb that only just a nudge will explode.

We talk for a while, small steps toward the bomb, both trying to be careful, respectful. The situation with his girlfriend is complicated, it’s ten months of a rollercoaster neither of us were ready for. I’m finally ready to be honest. “I want you be happy. I do. I wasn’t ever able to be assertive, to push you to be the man you can be. If you can have that with some else, I want that. I really do. But it drives me fucking crazy. Seriously, it drives me nuts. I hate it even though I want it for you.” He laughs.

“That!” he says, “Yes. That’s how I feel. I want you to have someone who can give you what I didn’t. But I fucking hate it.” The words lift a weight off me. A crushing pillar of pain is lifted off my guts. For the first time I actually am ready to meet a new girl in his life. It feels like a rusted lock has finally broken free and the door can be opened.

We laugh, talk about meeting each others new people. “I’m not ready to meet him,” he says about the new guy in my life. I soften. I can see it in his face, this is fucking hard. It’s hard for me, but it’s much harder for him. He can have some time. He can have some space. Tater doesn’t need to meet anyone new just yet. I’ll wait until the look of a scared wet bunny fades a bit, for both of us.

What My Life is Like After Divorce



Life After Divorce

I started this blog before my daughter turned one. I wasn’t sure what it was, a craft blog, a food blog, a lifeline? The dark secret is that I’d started it after a particularly terrible conversation with my husband at the time about my job. Including my commute to my Beverly Hills office I was away from my baby ten hours a day, 5 days a week. I hated that. I’d never wanted to be a stay at home mom, but I needed more time with my baby. Could I work part-time? Just for a while? Could we make that work? The conversation didn’t go well. I’d ended the night crying myself to sleep, not an uncommon occurrence in the 12 years I was married. I started the blog as a way to give myself options, as a way to have more control over my life. And, in reality, as a way to ignore that emotional cancer that had been killing my marriage for years.

Jackie Dodd4

I’ve talked about the man I married on this blog. About how wonderful he is, what a great dad he is, how talented he is. All those things are true, I believe them more today, 3 months after the divorce is final, than I ever have. I needed to, I needed to remember that he was a human, a man I love, a man who is the father of my baby girl, a man who is also hurting. I needed to remember those things, see him for all of who he is, it helped me stay sane during the worst year of my life.

After all, I was never going to be this girl. I was never going to be divorced, an unmarried mom, I wasn’t. We were the perfect couple. We met when I was 16, became fast friends, started dating when I was in college, married before the University diploma arrived in the mail. It all looked so charmed from the outside. Living in LA, we traveled a lot, we hung out with celebrities and went to the fun parties. We never once fought in public, never. We laughed a lot, our deep friendship was instantly apparent. But then there were the moments we wouldn’t talk about, those dark nights that once the light of morning shone in the bedroom we’d pretend didn’t happen. We were both in denial about the poison that was taking over. And no one saw it. Not one. Least of all us.

Then came Tater, our perfect little girl with her beautiful smile and her tomboy ways. She made the picture even more perfect. It also made the problems bigger, harder to ignore. It gave the poison a foothold. Still, no one knew. Both of us still trying desperately to turn away from the truth, ignore it and hide in the few shadows there were left to hide in.

Family Photo 2012 2

The thing no one tells you about divorce is how traumatic it is. How, in some ways, it’s worse than a death. It’s a grief wound that seems to constantly reopen. And no one shows up to your door with a casserole or sends flowers when you get divorced. Of all the friends I had in Los Angeles, not one person called to see if I was ok. Not one. No one knows what to do, what to say, how to act, so they leave. You’re alone. I have a sister who is so amazingly supportive, loving, and non-judgmental I wonder how people survive this without someone like her. I have a mom who is pure love, who calls to check in on me at just the right moments. And I have Chris. I still have him as a support.

chris tater

I married Chris when I was 22, spent my 20’s with him, bought a house, had a baby, moved six times with him. He is, and always will be, one of my closest friends. How did we do it? I wonder sometimes, looking back at the past year, how we managed this. When every part of who you are is screaming at you to wage war on the person you are divorcing, when you know it would be easier to slide down into a pit of hate and anger, we didn’t. We’ve gone through this together. He’s been loving, patient, kind. We’ve tried to be good to each other, respect each other, support each other. It’s sucked. It’s been the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, and it’s one of the things that I’m most proud of. I’m proud that we managed to divorce well. Anyone can be good to a spouse, but can you be good to the person who has left you? Nothing will show your true colors like divorce. Chris has proven to be a man of character. I’m grateful for him. The hurt is still raw, the grief is still present daily, and we are still going through this, but we are doing it together. He’s a good man, he’s a wonderful dad. Let’s be honest here, he was particularity horrible at the husband stuff, but the other stuff he’s incredible at. I’ve clung to that. That my daughter has a great dad, that I still have a family, one that in some ways is more whole than it ever has been, more honest than I ever though it could be, we are just a family that lives in two different houses.

chris jackie claire

So how am I now? I’m a lot of things. I’m happy in ways I never have been. I’m also more devastated than I ever thought I could be. I’m fulfilled in ways that I haven’t ever been in my life before now, and I’m ashamed in other ways. I’m broken and I’m healed. It’s a process.

How is Tater? She, thankfully, is doing the best of the three of us. She is loved well. We have both become better parents through this. She gets a better version of mom, and of dad. We still see each other at least once a week, we try to have dinner or breakfast and check in with each other. We’ve done this ever since I moved out. Sometimes it seems unbearably hard, sometimes it’s wonderful, but it’s always worth it. We even spent the holidays together, Thanksgiving at my sisters, Christmas eve at Chris’ house, and Christmas at my place.

How is Chris? He’s a lot of things too. Mostly, he’s growing. As a man, a partner, a parent. He’s honest with himself. I’m proud of him. I’m glad he’s the father of my daughter. And I’ll spend my life telling Tater how great her daddy is.

tater chris