Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Look Out Below

A friend of mine saw my college ID the other day. She commented that I must have lost a lot of weight since I was 19.

I agree my face looks remarkably heavy in the ID photo, complete with puffy cheeks, double chin(s) and rather squinty eyes.

I have a feeling the eyes might have had a different explanation though. I'm pretty sure the green stuff in those brownies wasn't spinach. But I swear - I never inhaled. Can I be president now?

But honestly, I weigh about the same now as I did at 19. I've certainly fluctuated up and down since then, but at this point in time, to the best of my recollection, the weight is around the same.

I have a theory that as you age, gravity, in much the same way that it cause wrinkles and sagging boobs, causes all the fat in your body to fall downwards also.

This would explain why my face is no longer so full, but my ass now takes up two zip codes.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Humble Pie

I must admit when I am wrong. I don't often do this. In fact I have been known to hang on to the concept that I am ALWAYS right regardless of the amount of evidence to the contrary, to the point 0f adamant insistence that Dammit! The sky IS green!

But with as much dignity as I can muster, I will say that the principles and recipes in The Sneaky Chef and to a slightly lesser degree Deceptively Delicious are nothing short of genius.

We have prepared Guerrilla Grilled Cheese, Pita Pizzas, Breakfast Ice Cream, Bonus Burgers, Hot Cocoa with Sweet Potatoes (weird? yes but the kids liked it.), Pumpkin Oatmeal, and the pièce de résistance, Brainy Brownies.

With the exception of Breakfast Ice Cream, everything has been gobbled up in its entirety by my picky children and my much less picky husband. But in the interest of self-preservation he'll eat anything without comment if he wants to see me cook another meal for him ever again. He's been trained well.

The rejection of the Breakfast Ice Cream however, was almost more than I could bear. I had mentioned to Sabrina one evening that I might make it the next morning. But we both forgot. As soon as she remembered she proceeded to pester and pester, and just in case I wasn't annoyed enough, pester some more. So even though I didn't want to, I agreed to concoct the "Especially Sneaky Chocolate Breakfast Ice Cream" consisting of yogurt, frozen bananas, avocado, unsweetened cocoa, and a dash of sugar.

When she asked me what was in it, I broke the cardinal rule of sneaky chefs and told her. I'm only slightly stupid though and made sure to tell her the secret ingredient was bananas as opposed to avocado which would have meant immediate barfing noises. But for whatever reason in her 6 year old universe, bananas were the most violently hated fruit on the planet that day. So after making something I didn't want to make in the first place, only to have it vehemently shunned, I was just a touch bitter, and considered giving up this whole responsible motherhood thing and indulge in a temper tantrum of my own.

But I restrained myself. Mostly.

The Brainy Brownies, on the other hand were loved and adored by all (and maybe I adored them just a touch more often than I should have). And I've learned my lesson. When they ask what's in them? Chocolate. What else? Chocolate. There must be something else in them! Nope just chocolate.

Dave has likened me to a cackling witch mixing up my cauldron of brew. He says I'm enjoying this trickery maybe just a little too much.

Anyone want to share a slice of Humble Pie with me? Just don't be surprised if it has spinach or cauliflower in it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

And I Don't Even Like Doughnuts

I had a headache earlier that had me wishing for a dark room and absolute silence But since we're a little short on both of those things around here, I settled for Ibuprofen.

Tylenol has always done exactly JACK SHIT for me, pretty much all my life. For whatever reason my body just doesn't utilize it properly. My Mom said even when I was a kid, she often gave me aspirin (you were allowed to do that back in the Dark Ages before the wheel was invented) as opposed to Tylenol because it relieved any pain I had much better.

It may have also had something to do with the fact that I hated the flavor of that red Tylenol liquid and often spat it back in her face. Seems Meredith comes by that behavior quite honestly.

I discovered Ibuprofen when it was still a prescription drug and have cheerfully abused it ever since. Just kidding. Sort of.

In 1992 my co-workers insisted on having a bachelorette party for me at a place called Gloria's on Route 30. I don't know if it's still there and as far as I know its sole purpose was to provide a place for rowdy girls to BYOB and see male strippers. I couldn't tell you if it was in Irwin or North Huntington or the Planet Jupiter as I didn't drive myself there and as conscious as I was of the return trip, I may have gotten home via transporter. Beam me up Scotty.

So we had the "Italian Stallion", as well as a cowboy whose hat was less Marlboro Man and more Boy George, and of course the requisite policeman that came in and handcuffed all the brides-to-be.

And I think there may have been vodka involved.

My cousin had the dubious honor of taking me home, and we stayed at her home where she still lived with my Aunt and Uncle at the time. The next morning she popped out of bed like a cheerful chickadee insisting we go get doughnuts as she was often wont to do. And I, who was never a morning person under the best of circumstances, tried very hard to keep my head from exploding all over the wallpaper. Which my Aunt would not have appreciated one little bit.

And that was when my cousin introduced me to Ibuprofen. Motrin it was still called at the time. She was dating the brother of a pharmaceutical rep and she had one of those tall bottles of Motrin that pharmacies use to dispense prescriptions. They were the high-test full strength 800 milligram tablets. I may have taken two. Possibly even three. And while I'm sure I still looked like death warmed over that was still a bit on the cold side, and smelled like something that normally sleeps under the Highland Park Bridge, I felt my head return to some semblance of normalcy and was able to actually move around without fear of my brains leaking onto my Aunt's carpeting.

And I was hooked. My cousin was officially my introduction to my addiction. She knew it was her only hope of her getting her doughnuts that morning.

And you know to this day, I'm pretty sure she'd do it again if it meant she got to have her doughnut on Sunday morning.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bribery Pure & Simple - And I'm OK With That

I previously discussed my skepticism and problems with Deceptively Delicious in this post.

While I still have not tried an actual recipe from the book, I had an "A-HA!" moment today while preparing lunch. Much the same as the epiphany Mrs. Seinfeld describes which prompted the writing of her book. If only I had had my moment sooner. She's married to Jerry Seinfeld. What the hell does she need more money for?

I decided to be gastronomically adventurous today (never a good thing according to Meredith) and make oatmeal for her lunch. She's never actually tried real oatmeal yet and I may have been overly ambitious trying a new base food and utilizing sneaky health food subterfuge. I tossed some of the sweet potato baby food I had on hand in with her oatmeal, added a touch of cinnamon and - GASP! SUGAR! (c'mon didn't you pay attention to Mary Poppins? Don't make me sing the song - it'll stick like a burr in your grey matter until you surgically remove it) and Voila'!

But while I was inventing haute baby cuisine I was also preparing the ubiquitous instant macaroni & cheese that resembles nuclear orange rubber eraser tubes for Jamie. Hmmmmmm, sweet potatoes are orange.

Meredith took to the oatmeal about the same as she takes to any new food. She sniffed it in a way that would impress any professional wine taster. Then she allowed me to touch her lips with it, where she daintily sampled the bouquet and flavor. Then and only then did she allow a spoon in her mouth. Because really. You can't be too careful. But so as not to get carried away, she refused anything further after the 3rd spoonful. We don't want to encourage Mom to get crazy or anything.

As I'm doing this I'm casually pretending to ignore Jamie and his macaroni & cheese. The first two bites seem to be fine.

Then the spoon goes down in quiet defiance.

"Mama this macaroni doesn't taste good. It doesn't taste like macaroni."

So we go through a big show of tasting it for him, declaring it perfectly normal, even pointing out "Look! It's the same package we always use!"

But he sits, bottom lip pooched out, arms crossed, in a magnificent three-year-old sulk.

Jamie, if you want to play with your Power Rangers sword you have to eat your macaroni.

Victory is mine.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Moments

When she crawls rapidly to me while I sit at the computer and pulls herself up and lays her head gently on my knee. She was doing it to let me know she had pooped and needed cleaned up, but still a touching gesture.

When she fell down and thunked her head and let my Dad pick her up and comfort her and she laid her head down and nestled into that spot right between chest and shoulder. Especially poignant since I can recall being very small and snuggling up in exactly the same manner.

When she nurses herself so serenely to sleep with her eyes closed and her whole head bobs gently with contentment.

When she looks directly at me and says "Mama". Sometimes she's not even crying when she says it.

When she's so very tired that in the middle of crawling across the floor she stops and lays her head down as if she just cannot proceed one more step. Equally enjoyable to watch her pop her head back up and continue on her way as if that was indeed exactly the refreshment she required.

When I notice that her eyelashes are now almost a full half inch long. They weren't there at all when she was born.

When I follow behind her and pretend to chase her and it induces belly laughs so intense she has to squeal.

When I hold one of the other children on my lap and she attempts to push them off with all her wee might to assert what she feels is her rightful position.

When she's about to fall asleep and her arm floats out so slowly and gently it's as if she's moving it underwater, and she rests her hand on me, fingers splayed like a tiny starfish, as if to assure herself I'm still there in the seconds before she slips into unconsciousness.

When she smiles and I can see her Parents and Grandparents and Great-Grandparents smiling at me through her face as well as the ghosts of past faces her brother and sister wore.

Past, Present, and Future in one precious face.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Deceptively Delicious Spawns Suspicious Sibling

I recently purchased the books Deceptively Delicious and The Sneaky Chef. I had resisted buying these books mostly because there was a lot of hoopla about them and I'm perverse that way. If it's popular I don't want it.

But after watching my children exist on the snacks that occurred between meals and consistently refusing any meal that didn't involve pizza, mac & cheese or hot dogs, I was desperate.

The premise behind these two books is similar. You surreptitiously include healthy fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes and beets that would normally induce gagging and retching at the table by pureeing them (which induces me to gag and retch) and mixing them into the recipe.

To be fair, I haven't actually tried any of the recipes yet. But after reading them I remain skeptical. Besides after enduring a childhood where I was forced to eat lima beans it just feels like it should be my God-given right as a parent to inflict the same upon my children.

What I forgot though was to hide the cookbooks.

Yes, hide the cookbooks. One normally expects to hide the Playboy magazines or the racy novels, but the cookbooks?

I forgot the 6 year old can read now. And just today she informed me, "Mama I saw those recipes and they tell you to put SPINACH in them!"

Oh the horror.

But even worse, before I've even actually attempted to pull the wool over their eyes and slip cauliflower, spinach, or butternut squash into their pancakes, she has begun to question every single thing I have cooked.

"Is there spinach in that? What about that? Is there any in there? I don't like spinach you know."

No honey, I assure you there is no spinach in the frozen pizza or the macaroni & cheese from a box. Didn't even put any in the hot dogs.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Carnivore

Jamie what would you like for lunch today?

"I'd like a ham sandwich. With just ham and ham and meat on it."

How about bread? Can we put bread on it?

"No thanks."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Livin' La Vida Viagra

Have you seen this commercial?



Just a bunch of guys hanging out together in a slightly rough and tumble looking empty bar jamming on guitar, bass, harmonica, etc. Just a normal bunch of guys right? In fact they look like they could be your neighbor, or your kid's math teacher, or even that guy that sits in the cubicle across from you at work. Well except for the one with the bandanna and the Harley. I'm pretty sure he doesn't teach math.

And they're all sitting around discussing their erectile dysfunction, and they get so inspired, they burst into song about it. Because we all know two things that men excel at is intimate discussion and a love of musicals.

Now let's face it, Viagra commercials are just funny to begin with. Especially that warning they throw in there about "if you experience an erection that lasts longer than four hours you must seek medical attention."

Medical attention? Hell with that! Most men I know will alert the media.

My first thought upon hearing this commercial though was "Viva Viagra"?? Viva Las Vegas was never in my opinion one of Elvis' better tunes, but still. It deserves a little respect doesn't it? Elvis will be rolling over in his grave.

Then I called to mind the sequined jumpsuits, the lacquered pompadour, the stylized aviator glasses, the extravagance of Graceland. Not to mention the fact that if Elvis were alive today he'd be 73 and in some pretty serious need of Viagra himself.

On second thought, I'm pretty sure the King would be honored.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

And They Say Kids Keep You Young - The Lying Bastards

I survived Chuck E. Cheese with copious amounts of caffeine (which backfired that night when I had to pee, oh, roughly 300 times) and my sanity intact, and just minor bruises to my ego.

What's that? You want to know more? Well of course I'll indulge you and tell you the whole story. Who else can I bore with my trials and tribulations? Dave just pretends to listen and while Taffy's a nice dog she's just not a good conversationalist.

I arrived at the party and sent my delirious offspring to run screaming through the restaurant with the other 6-7 year olds. Thanks to my Mom I was able to go without the younger weeping sleepy children. Of course I neglected to tell my Mom about the weepy/sleepy thing before I dropped them off. But I'm not stupid. Not about to shoot myself in the foot.

So I am trying hard to mingle with the few other Moms that were also there. I saw one Mom that looked to be around my age holding a tiny baby girl. I saw this as an opportunity to chat about our common baby girls. As I talked she began to realize what I was thinking and she corrected me, "Oh this isn't my daughter. I'm the Grandma."

I know at 38 I'm what they euphemistically term an "older mom". But it was a bit disconcerting to realize I was now gravitating toward the Granny age group. I'd like to tell you it was only because she looked fantastic for her age, but no, she looked to be what she was, in her mid 40's.

And today a good, but much younger, friend of mine who also had a daughter this past February came to visit. As we were talking I made a comment about her daughter's adorable shoes and stated that when Sabrina was still an only child "she had a shoe wardrobe to rival Imelda Marcos." My friend smiled politely and nodded. I said, "You don't know who Imelda Marcos is, do you?"

I have officially become my Mother.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

This Will Require Caffeine and Possibly Alcohol

Sabrina is going to a birthday party today. Not just any birthday party. A birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.

Is it just me? Am I the only adult that thinks Chuck E. Cheese is the most awful place EVER? Add in the fact that it's got a giant RAT (not that I have anything against rats as a species - just don't care for them being 6 feet tall and walking around on two legs) and I just don't see the appeal.

I have spent the last 4 years telling Sabrina there were no Chuck E. Cheese's near enough to go to. When she started school and found out her classmates have ACTUALLY GONE TO CHUCK E. CHEESE! Well, I'm not one to fall to peer pressure. Nope not me. I simply explained that her wealthier classmates were probably able to afford the airfare.

And truthfully, the closest Chuck E. Cheese franchise is about 40 minutes away. I might drive 40 minutes for, oh, say a visit to a really good friend. Maybe to a new shopping center. Maybe even to a party despite my antisocial tendencies.

But a restaurant teeming with 500 screaming children hopped up on sugar and caffeine and eyes glazed over from video games?

Not my idea of a good time.

And to add to my agony, I will have to take my 3 year old son and my 10 month old daughter with us. Neither of which have taken a nap today. The latter of which has been weeping with tiredness for the past 2 hours but refuses to sleep.

Do you think I could tell Sabrina that we missed our flight?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Spins a Web Any Size

We've officially made the transition.

To the big boy bed that is. And as usual my anticipation was much worse than the actual event.

Dave declared New Year's Eve the big night. New year, new bed was his proclamation. I thought this was a bad idea, chiefly because I was planning on staying up later than usual and wanted no interruptions to the small amount of time I would get to sleep. But we all know how selfish I am about my sleep.

Secondly I thought New Year's Eve was a bad night because Jamie had pneumonia. We didn't know he had pneumonia at the time, but we sure as hell knew he was sick. Any time Jamie willingly naps on the couch he's got to be sick. That or aliens have taken my son and replaced him with one of their own cleverly disguised offspring.

Not to mention my mother thinks it's time to take him to the E.R. Preferably by ambulance. But my mother's projected hypochondriaism (is that a word?), well that's another story for another day.

My final effort to put off the transition was my attempt to not have the sheets washed. The all important Spider Man sheets. Those sheets arrived from Santa Claus to usher in the new big boy bed status. I had high hopes for those sheets. But more importantly until I washed said sheets I could continue putting off the big boy bed. Which was of course what I was really trying to do.

But I could put it off no longer. Jamie was excited. As excited as one can get with a 104 degree temperature. He was tucked up in his new bed. And other than a few brief excursions to the bathroom for an illicit cup of water, he stayed in his bed.

If he can keep my little boy in his bed, he really is the Amazing Spider-Man.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Young Democrat

"Mama since we don't really have a real President around here, I'm going to grow up to be President OK?"

Yes honey that's fine. As long as you promise not to be a Republican. Because then I'd have to vote for the other guy.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Saturday, January 5, 2008

She's Her Mother's Daughter

"Mama, can I have just one of your credit cards? Just to get me started?"

Friday, January 4, 2008

Things That Go RALPH In The Night

To say we've been sick around here would be a MASSIVE understatement. At the moment we are dealing with no less than pneumonia, double ear infection, croup, and diarrhea. And of course the basic runny stuffy sneezy noses that accompany most of those things.

At bedtime it sounds like a chorus of barking seals. Barking seals that surreptitiously rub snot all over your shoulder when you're tucking them in. Then Dave and I sit down and wait.

Because within 15 minutes someone's gonna throw up.

We've gotten the whole thing down to a military, tag-team, precision drill. Get 'em up, clean 'em up, change the bed, put 'em back to bed. And then wait for the next one to go.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Last night Jamie started the game early and I was still putting Meredith to bed, so Dave had to deal with it on his own. I use the term "deal with it" verrrrrrrry loosely.

I had just gotten Meredith to sleep and Dave walks in the bedroom as quiet as a moose (nope not a typo) to tell me Jamie threw up. I glare at him and say OK. Five seconds later he bursts in again because he doesn't know where the sheets are.

As if he doesn't actually LIVE here too.

The sheets have been in the same closet in the kids' bedroom for the past 6 years, but that's OK. Because really. Why would anyone look in the CLOSET for sheets???

And then, just in case Meredith wasn't completely awake he came in to ask me if we had any clean pillows.

I'll let you know when Dave gets the pillow removed from his behind.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Turning the Page

Someone I used to know often said, "What's so special about New Year's Day?" He would rail on about how it's just another page on the calendar and why don't we celebrate the beginning of EVERY month when we start the new month?

Some days, like today, I almost agree with him. I get up in the morning and there's really nothing special about it. I'm sick, the kids are all sick. Dave has chosen to disappear and pursue his new hobby because he needs more "me time".

But I think the special thing about today is that besides literally "turning the page" on the calendar, New Year's Day gives us an opportunity to turn the page in all aspects of our life. It's purely symbolic of course. But humans are creatures that have a powerful need for symbolism.

I won't bore you with a list of New Year's resolutions. I don't like them. They're almost destined to fail. Instead I want to decide today to live my life. MY life. Not my husband's, not my kids'. If only a little bit. Part of which is keeping this blog.

So today I am turning the page. Welcome to the new year.

(Thanks to Boo for the phrase "Turning the Page" xoxo)