Thursday, March 31, 2011

Obsession - Winning Combinations!


Lately I’ve had synergy on the mind. You know, that electric moment when two awesome things meet and create something awesomer than its awesome parts. Like a Catholic schoolgirl and booze. Put the two together and, poof, magic! (I was one. I should know.)

But as a mommy, these subtle combinations really support and enhance my everyday life. You may not realize it, but eventually you need these things to survive.

Here are some top winning combos that currently rock my world:

  1. The iPad and Baby Crack (aka television): My escape. My Valhalla. My peaceful 15 minutes on the couch before I’ve got to get started on dinner. Until it turns into 20 minutes. Then 30 minutes…
  2. Rotisserie chicken and French bread: It’s what’s for dinner, bitches! (Many nights of the week lately. See number 1.)
  3. The Wiggles CD and a Ford Explorer SUV: My escape. My Valhalla. My peaceful journey in search of rotisserie chicken and French bread.
  4. Baby wipes and Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser: If the first one doesn’t do the trick (and it usually does), then the second one will rid my life of any messy stains. They both will clean anything! Counters, leather shoes, smudgy faces. Though I wouldn’t recommend using the Magic Eraser on the smudgy face. But you probably didn’t need me telling you that.
  5. Hydroxycut and ice cream: Sure I can’t sleep anymore but I ate a ton of crap yesterday and didn’t pay for it on the scale this morning. Score!
  6. A good bra and Calvin Klein jeans: Some days they are the only things that make me feel attractive, without which I might just down the whole bottle of Hydroxycut and end it all for good.
  7. My good looks and Larry’s smarts: Or maybe it’s the other way around? Wait…hmmm….oh, nevermind.
  8. Fat and sugar: The bedrock of any happy marriage. No? Give your husband some donuts and see what happens.
  9. Bedtime and Children’s Tylenol: I’m just sayin’. You know what I’m just sayin’.
  10. Glass of sangria and my memories: The Producers on Broadway. The first Coachella Music Festival in 1999. Paris with Larry in the spring. I love my babies dearly but sometimes I need to replay some grownup moments in my mind. Proof that I once had a life outside runny noses and Cheerios and sippy cups of rotten milk left for a week in the hot car.
  11. A camera and gorgeous little kid smiles: More about that next time…

Ps. In case my last post left you with a bad taste in your mouth, here’s a pretty picture of me so you know that I do have some good days. 


Monday, March 28, 2011

Confession - I've Been Humbled

Some days I feel pretty good about myself. 


I think I look good. I think I have great style and taste. I think I'm the best mom. I think I'm the smartest thing since sliced bread. Or something. 


But that rarely lasts longer than two minutes. Five, tops. Because, in the next moment, I'm wiping someone's butt or picking up 5000 grains of rice off the kitchen floor. And I've been humbled. 


"I've been humbled."


I have been hearing this phrase used by celebrities a lot lately and they are usually using it incorrectly.


"500 people waited in the pouring rain for me to sign a book for them. I've been humbled."


No, you haven't, you tool. Those equally crazy people have just boost your insane ego over the top into la la land. You have not been "humbled."


You want humbling?




Try finding this photo of yourself in your iPhoto archive. You will never again feel good about your life's choices. 


Taken seven years ago, right before my wedding, it conjures up so many questions. So many mysteries surround this snapshot. So many puzzling inquiries without a single answer. 


First, and most obvious...


Why am I posing with a tire? 


In my final moments as a single gal, was I having cold feet and needed the security of steel and rubber to anchor me to the ground?


Did I think that tires were funny? Was it my idea or Elise's? You can see her reflection taking the picture. I demand to know who takes blame credit for this moment!


Is that supposed to be a provocative pose? How did I ever get Larry to agree to a wedding?


What am I wearing? Was I coming from work? Am I a closet lesbian? Have I burned those hideous, ill-fitting grey slacks yet?


Do I still look like that? If so, someone please put me out of my misery. 


And, the most important question...


What's with the pink plastic purse?


Once upon a time, I went to UCLA and received a bachelor's degree. Then, I went to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and got my Masters. I had a good job in an education nonprofit as the Director of Literacy. 


But here I was, caressing a tire, clutching a pink plastic purse and SMILING. With bedroom eyes. 


I really don't know what I was doing or why I was doing it. I appear to be happy. 


But now...now I am sad. And definitely humbled. 


If I ever write a book, please do not wait in line for hours for me to sign it. Remember this picture and just stay home. 


It's better for both of us that you do.


Good night. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Confession - The Bad Day

Newsflash: I'm a whiny bitch.

Maybe not so much news to anyone.

And I had a rotten day. But instead of silently suffering and letting it go at the end of the day, I relive it. And write about it. And vent. And cry. And take you all down with me.

Lincoln has had a fever all week long. And, like mama, he doesn't soldier through sickness calmly. He screams and cries and throws tantrums. Like mama.

I guess that is his prerogative as a toddler but I don't have to like it. Especially when Maya doesn't become any less needy for attention and Larry is working late two nights in a row. It has been helllllllll.

So around 2 o'clock, I threw both the children in the bath to play while I sat in a catatonic state on the toilet being drenched by their splashing shenanigans. And this is what went on in my brain...

God, I need a pedicure. And a massage. And a facial. And chili cheese fries. Where can I get all those things at once? Only in my dreams. Well, since I'm dreaming, Colin Firth will be there. And Larry. I guess my husband should be in my dream scenario. 


I really just need a pedicure. Can I get one right now? How can I get the kids to sit still and shut up for one hour? Do you think they will play Yo Gabba Gabba at the nail salon if I asked them to? They probably have a policy against torturing other paying customers. 


So I will go this weekend instead. What else do I need to do this weekend? A million chores that can only be accomplished when I have Larry babysit his own children. I will go to Target. God, I love Target. And Colin Firth. And chili cheese fries.


If I get the chili cheese fries, how many miles will I have to walk on the treadmill to burn them off? Is it worth it? Is Maya drowning Lincoln? No, he's laughing. We're all good. 


What will I do with them when bath time is over? How long can I let them stay in there? They're not bothering me. But I kinda bored. I'm really bored. So bored. Booooooorrrrrrred. Boredy bored bored. I wish I had the Ipad. Why did Larry take it today? How fast can I run to my room, check my email and be back? They say it only takes a minute for a child to drown. I don't know who "they" are but they're fucking up my life right now.


I won't leave. That would really be awful if one of them drowned. They are kinda cute kids. One of them could buy me a beach house one day. Or not. My parents thought I would buy them one. And we see how that turned out. 


Damn, my toes look bad. And I still want the fries. I'm gonna get the fries. It's happening. It's a plan. I'm so excited! Something to look forward to in life!!! 


At that moment, I got them out of the bath and drove around town until I happened upon a McDonalds.

I got two small fries. Maya and Linc shared one and I had the other all to myself. It was a blissful 15 minutes of peace and quiet and salty, fatty goodness.

And then we got home. And the crying started again.

The end.

UPDATE: I have a confession to make about my confession. I ate them fries in 15 seconds, not minutes. And It wasn't a small fries. It was a medium fries. Whew...I feel better now.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cooking - Ode to Beef (Recipe Round-up)




The other day Maya had something important to tell me. 

She called me to her room, sat me on her bed and whispered conspiratorially, “We need to get Daddy to eat steak.”

I almost cried. That’s how proud I was.

She had a three-part plan.

“First, we must make it taste like chicken.” Hmmm…tricky. But maybe doable if I extract most of the flavor, fat and goodness.

“Second, we must make it smell like chicken.” I’m not sure what that means. I prefer my chicken not to have an odor.

“Third, we must make it look like a chicken.” I’m imagining a giant chicken mold and some shellacking. I wonder if Michaels would help.

I didn’t have the heart to break it to her that this plan would never work. Larry has a sixth sense that tells him if his food has even shared the same the same atmosphere as beef or pork. He won’t eat food (knowingly) if it has been prepared with the same utensils as the red meat or “the other white meat.”

I don’t understand this life choice but I enable support it.

He married an OCD lunatic. I married a chick-aterian. Crosses to bear.

But he can’t take away my dreams and fantasies of red, juicy meat.

I live vicariously through my bovine-consuming peers. So here are some recipes that help me through the beef drought and see me through important life moments.

1. Special Occasion BeefRoasted Beef Tenderloin



Every Christmas Eve, when I break out the good dishes, crack my knuckles and prepare a culinary feast, I have to remind Larry that he is a Jew. Therefore, Christmas isn’t about him. And Imma gonna gets my cow on.

So I prepare the Roasted Beef Tenderloin and allow him to have extra helpings of the crispy shrimp starter I made. It is Christmas, after all.





If I was either single or married to Colin Firth (who I assume is a beefeater because he’s as close to perfection as I can imagine), this is what I’d probably eat three or four nights a week.

Nothing says bliss to me like the combination of beef and blue cheese.

3. Indulgent BeefRib-eye steak with Bearnaise 



No words. Just bug-eyed, drooling day-dreaming.

4. Comforting BeefGerman Short Ribs



This is what I make for company when I want them to feel like they are home. They are tender bites of mellow, juicy comfort.

5. Good-time BeefItalian Drip Beef



If French Dip is on the menu at any restaurant, 9 times out of 10, I am ordering it. Its simple, salty, umami-ness just brings a smile to my face. And they always come with French fries. In reality, I guess they are just a vehicle to get the fries.

I make this in the slow-cooker when Larry’s working late and won’t be home for dinner.

I made it for my dad once and, when he didn’t die of pleasure, I began to wonder if was true that gypsies left me on the doorstep. But then my brother made it and loved it and I knew that we were siblings. Or at least came from the same gypsy family.


So there you have it, five reasons to live and live well. Please email me, text me or leave a comment when you try them or any other beef recipe that makes you do the happy-cow dance....

...on Meatless Monday. My bad. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Obsession - Rocking the 'stache!





I'm not sure when or where the mustache fad began but I was diggin' it the minute I laid eyes on those furry sticks of fun. I admired it around the halls of Etsy and added it to my Favorites right alongside the stuffed owls. God, I love those owls.  


How, I wondered, could I indulge in this new bizarre ritual of holding up some hair to your face and having someone else photograph it for prosperity?


Then I remembered Cinco de Maya. 


Maya and her tiny little preschool pals could don the Don Juan Mariachi bigotes! It would be perfect. Add some maracas, a guitar and an accordion... It's just the right touch of whimsy and ethnic mocking. Winning! 


I'm telling you, this event was the perfect storm of gluttony and cheese. And I loved every moment. 


Here's a crafty guide to making your own mustaches for the small fries. It's simple and  a fun way to brighten up a rainy day. 


First, gather your supplies. Scissors, check. Mustache template, check. (I used some from this blogger.) Wooden sticks, check. And sticky-backed felt, check-a-roo. 



You cut out your mustaches and trace them onto the backs of the felt. 




You cut them out, peel off the backing, stick on the stick. 




You sandwich the stick with another mustache. You are done.




This post borders on condescending. But, really, I am the only one stupid enough to need this explained to me... multiple times. You just sit back and enjoy the silly photos.






 (I don't think I need parental permission to post these because all the children are clearly in disguise.) 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Confession - Maya Bean's Greatest Hits




I am freaking out. My first baby is turning 5 years old. Why is this birthday such a hard one?

My little Bean is an amazing girl with a big heart, a big brain…and a big mouth. Just like momma! She loves dinosaurs as much as mermaids. She hates cooked carrots but loves shrimp more than cupcakes. She ought to be on stage someday because she walks, talks, sings and dances as if the cameras are always on her.

She is confident, happy and really funny. There isn’t a person we know who hasn’t laughed at her crazy words. 

So, in honor of her fifth birthday, I am sharing some of Maya Bean’s verbal Hall of Fame.

It begins with Maya, me and this little convo…

Me: You know what? Let’s just skip this birthday! OK? How about you just stay four years old forever?
Bean: No Momma! Don’t you want me to be five?
Me: No.
Bean: Don’t you want me to go to kindergarten?
Me: Not really.
Bean: Don’t you want me to go to Vegas someday?
Me: (Silence…Crickets…Mouth agape.)

I cannot remember a time when Maya wasn’t saying something. Anything. Do you want to know Maya’s first sentence?

“I don’t like Uncle Paul!” 

We just got back from a cruise to Mexico with Larry’s family, including his stoic (but very caring) Uncle Paul. Maya was a little intimidated by him. So sitting in our living room, talking to my parents about the trip, Maya opens her tiny little lips and expresses herself coherently, for the first time. And she blasts a relative. (Fortunately, she is now very fond of him.)



Preschool has also inspired some interesting tidbits such as…

“I like boys who have cars and are a little bit naughty.”

And there was the time her teacher pulled me aside to make sure all was well at home. Yes. Why? During share time, one child told the class that her father had broken his arm. Maya, who will not be outshined, does him one better. “Well, my Daddy is dead.”

(The details of Larry’s passing are still not clear. Apparently there was a lot smoke and commotion, according to the concerned Scottish teacher, Mrs. Kendrick.)

When Maya isn’t talking to an actual human being, she’s talking to her imaginary friends. There are at least five of them and she is very offended when I forget one of their names.

But I just had to banish Sally, the OG imaginary friend, after Maya informs me…

“Sally doesn’t live here anymore. She says your house is too dirty.”

I said it before and I’ll say it again. That bitch ain’t welcome here no more!

Maya’s zingers just love taking aim at my self-esteem.

Maya: You always beat me in Just Dance.
Me: Momma is just a really good dancer. But I’m sure that, with practice, you will beat me when you are my age.
Maya: When I am your age, you will be up in heaven.

But she is a very sweet girl. Even when she asked, on the day we brought Lincoln home, “Can we could have a dog instead of a baby?”

We knew she didn’t really mean it….Hopefully.

And then there’s this…

Maya: Do you have a friend named Michael?

Me: I used to when I was younger.

Maya: Why not anymore?
Me: Sometimes when you get older, you don't speak to the same people as when you were little.

Maya: When I get older, I probably won't speak to you anymore.

I watch her learn and grow each day in amazement and wonder…and a little bit of fear. She is A LOT like me. It’s a little scary. Let’s hope she uses her powers for good. Fingers crossed!

Luckily, there’s a little bit of Larry in her too. Unfortunately that includes the sarcasm, like when she answers me, “Yes, Your Majesty.”

Despite the randomness that comes out of her mouth, I think she’s an incredible little booger. Even if she refuses to wear pants at home and calls the Marriott a “Ho and Tell.” These things will pass! Right?

Right?

Anyone?

(Happy Birthday, my little love! Momma loves you more than any words could express.)



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Obsession - Amazon Woman




I’ll keep this obsession post brief because I don’t want it to sound like an advertisement but I am OBSESSED with Amazon.com. I assure you that I get no money for saying this because Amazon has no idea who I am. I can’t even get my mom to read this blog on a regular basis. But I heart them in a big way.

Because of them, I rarely have to leave the house. I get to sit on my booty and shop whilst my booty gets bigger and my bank account dwindles down to nada. And whatever I order these days comes shipped for free and in two days! Two days, people!! I can’t get Larry to take out the trash or Maya to pick up her toys in that time span.

And it’s only $3.99 for overnight shipping. You can’t even drive across the street for that much!

This life-changing deal with the devil began about a month ago when I signed up for Amazon Prime. I didn’t read the fine print very closely so I’m sure they are expecting my kidney in the mail any day now but, in the meantime, I get to enjoy 30% off diapers and the free shipping dealio. If you’ve got an active shitter, as I most definitely do, then you would be wise to get onboard.

But today I nearly broke down in tears when I realized that Amazon can help me, help you. I ordered a nose hair trimmer.

I have been living in denial but I’ve probably needed this gadget since I was 10 years old. And this week, with my cold and all, the urgency of the “situation” has become apparent. And now that I’ve over-shared, you can gag a little and we will both move on.

But shopping online is a beautiful thing that makes life with two children infinitely easier. Thank you baby Jesus for Internet shopping.

The End.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Culture - Parenting 101


Warning: While reading this post, you may want to immediately take my children away from me. But all examples are purely illustrative. I have not actually used any of them…yet.

A couple weeks ago, I attended a parenting talk with some close friends. After a tough week with the mini-mega-beast, I decided this would kill two birds with one stone – I would get out of the house and maybe get some tips on demon-wrangling.  Today I want to share some of the tips and advice I gathered from “Brain Driven Behavior: Make Sense Out of Your Child’s Behavior,” a great lecture by Dr. Ann Corwin.

A little disclaimer: I did my best to take notes and record accurate information. Unfortunately, they served food at this event. So, for most of the time, I was having an internal struggle with my chubby devil-on-the-shoulder. I really wanted those taquitos. But I had already eaten dinner. I wanted them bad. But they were not diet-friendly. I had to have them. But I will look like a fatty in front of my friends and all the beautiful OC women here who can afford to stuff their faces because they are already skinny! It was very hard to concentrate. So if I botch up this lesson, I apologize to your family (who will be screwed up as a result) and to Dr. Ann Corwin.

Let’s begin.

What drives kids? My first instinct was to blurt out “high fructose corn syrup!” Turns out, it is their emotions and feelings. Those feelings control every action they take. The part of his or her brain that controls impulses and actions does not develop, even partially, until around four years old. And it doesn’t fully develop until they are about 25 years old. (Or ever, if you are Charlie Sheen.)

So, according to Dr. Ann, asking Lincoln NOT to turn the television off and on for the one millionth time is like asking a person to write with their right hand – when they don’t have a right hand. He FEELS like it is great fun to turn the TV off and on, therefore he cannot really help himself. Therefore, I should probably get a giant roll of duct tape and bind his chubby little digits together, thus inhibiting his use of those wily phalanges, thus allowing me to watch Top Chef in peace.

The second thing that drives the little tots is their desire for connections and relationships. It has been proven that, without these relationships, a baby will not thrive. They need human interation to live. That is often why children repeat bad behaviors over and over again. They are simply looking for attention. And we give it to them. We yell, we get in their face, we throw their little asses on time out.

But all those things only serve to reinforce the behavior. They live for that shit. They want the communication, the eye contact and the touch – even if it is all negative.

New plan. When Lincoln throws his food and his cup and his placemat on the floor, I am going to try turning off the light, exiting to room and leaving that little tyrant strapped to his booster seat for a good 20 minutes while I check my email…in peace. Parent of the year, bitches!

Dr. Ann recommends teaching your children how to “smooth out” which describes the moment when a child reaches calmness after a large ruckus. A good way to do this is to play “Red Light, Green Light” or “Freeze Dance” with them every day. But I have never,  in his little life, ever seen Lincoln “smooth out.” Ever. Maybe when he was sick one time and had a fever of 102. So I tried the games this morning. I swear he gave me the finger. Where’s that damn duct tape?

Ok, so maybe I’m not doing so well in conveying the practical application of her teachings. Again, I blame the taquitos.

But here are some other points that may be of actual help to you, the more responsible of us two:
  • Create a plan for discipline. Sit down with your significant other and spell out your rules and how you intend to enforce them. You plan for everything else. Make this a priority.
  • Surprise your children at every opportunity for following the rules. Reward with them with occasions that affirm relationships, such as going to the park after school.
  • Always have this important rule on your list: “If you harm anyone with your words or with your body, you do not get to be around anybody.”
  • Music and movement are great mood changers. If your little one is losing control, help them regain it by singing or playing music in the car.

If you have any questions or problems or, like me, just want to affirm what an awesome job you were already doing in the first place, I would highly recommend hearing Dr. Corwin speak. I’m just kidding. About the awesome job. No, I mean I am awesome but I’m not perfect. And I have yet to meet a perfect parent or a perfect child. I think we always have room for improvement ...and taquitos. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cooking - Turkey Zuppa Toscana

Turkey Zuppa Toscana

Of course this post, following my “I’m-a-fatty-and-need-help” post, is all about a  creamy, delicious soup. It is not low-calorie or low-fat or low-carb.

I’m aware of my mental disconnects. And I’m aware I need major help.

But I did try to lighten this soup up a bit from its original recipe on Allrecipes.com. And I only had one serving and not the usual three that I eat before I eat a “real” meal because soup is really just a starter.

Major lobotomy needed. Or at least a good brain-washing. Someone send the hypnotist over pronto.

So here’s the recipe. It tastes exactly like the soup from Olive Garden and it’s the easiest thing in the world to make. Easy for you to make. Not me. I still live with Lincoln, after all.

Add a salad and bread and you will be in heaven on a chilly Friday night before you watch The Wire.




Turkey Zuppa Toscana
Ingredients
            1.25 pound hot turkey Italian sausage links, casings removed
            1 large onion, diced
            1 tablespoon minced garlic
            5 (13.75 ounce) cans chicken broth
            6 small potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
            1 cup half and half
            1/2 bunch fresh kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
                                    Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1.    Cook the Italian sausage, onion and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crumbly, browned, and no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes.
  1. Pour the chicken broth into the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add the potatoes, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until fork tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in kale until it begins to wilt and then add half-and-half.
  4. Heat through, adjust seasonings and serve with bread and salad.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Confession - Not So Skinny Bitch

I didn’t want my blog to be about the f-word.

It just naturally gravitated in that direction.

I didn’t think much of it until I realized a couple of moms from Maya’s Lutheran preschool had stumbled upon this blog. And since I don’t want her to be run out of the joint by angry cross-bearing mobs wielding pitchforks, I vow to behave better from now on. Maybe.

And I apologize for my passionate language but bigger forces have taken hold of my normally cheerful, positive temperament. You see…I’ve been dieting.

I heard that collective “ooohhhh” coming from all three of you reading out there. And I’m sure, if you know me, you understand that my attitude without delicious, fatty, salty morsels of carb-y goodness only goes from bad to worse. Add a cold, no alcohol and achy muscles from working out for the first time in years…

It’s no bueno.

And to add insult to injury, I’m not even losing much weight. What the heck am I doing wrong people? I need help! You must guide me down the path of least resistance toward a slimmer me. Here’s what I’ve already tried or have considered…

Lap Band , Gastric Bypass, Etc. – The thought of cutting my stomach reminds me of my two c-sections which reminds me to having babies which reminds me of never sleeping which reminds me of the delirious haze of one poopy diaper after another while constantly leaking from the boobage which then leads me into Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. 

Weight Watchers – On it now. And those points are worse than the AP Calculus test I attempted in high school. I only scored a 1. You get a 1 for writing your name. Hence, I’m not losing weight.

Jenny Craig – I’ve never done it. But it’s entirely possible that if I have all my meals already made for me, I may skip feeding the rest of my family. I basically make dinner so that I can eat. The fact that they are also nourished as a result is just an added bonus.

Healthy Eating and Exercise – Blah blah blah...Boooorrrrring! I tried exercising by doing the Just Dance Wii game. While you try to get that image out of your mind let me also tell you it was hazardous – not only to my super-cool image but also to my son’s head. No one told him to walk under my controller while I attempted a spastic move in “Pump Up the Jam.”

Fen-Phen – Where did it go? It sounded amazing. Effective with just the right amount of danger.

Michael Thurmond – I lost a lot of weight with this one. But who wouldn’t lose weight on 600 calories a day? Oh, and I was a mega-bitch. But I looked gooood. I just can’t do it to my family again. I’ll keep it in my back pocket though if all else fails.

Alli – I heard you leak oil from your anus. I’ve got enough problems.

Hoodia – A friend of mine gave this to me to try. I just started it today and have had some massive heartburn. I’ll keep you posted.

Hershey bars and Coke – Not an actual diet but another friend said her sister is really skinny and this is all she eats. It’s worth considering.

An English Man For Every 10 Pounds – Again, not an actual diet but a great motivator. This lady is going to go on one date with an English bloke for every 10 pounds she loses. I guess I don’t really have that option. Larry’s not that cool.

So those were all my brilliant ideas and, with their failures, so went my hopes and dreams. My next step is to become one of those sassy, fat ladies who wear fancy hats. I just need a hat and some sass.

Dora.