Monday, April 25, 2011

Confession - Ten Things I Don't Regret in My Life But Probably Should

  1. My Lovely Blue Hair – In college I streaked my hair blue. I had a short black bob with blue streaks. I loved it. Unfortunately, there is no photo evidence of this hair but I can assure you that I rocked that shit.
  2. The Tongue Ring – Immediately followed the dying of the hair. I saw it as my equivalent of bungee jumping. It was daring, stupid and something I thought I would never do in my lifetime. Again, no photo evidence – just the lasting emotional scars inflicted upon my parents. They are still wondering where they went wrong.
  3. The Guitar-Playing Older Boy with the El Camino – I think he came as a package deal with the midnight blue Manic Panic and the silver stud in my mouth. I firmly believe that all girls should date a musician once in their life. Maybe even marry them if they eventually abandon all their dreams and get a practical desk job. Mine did not. He did not even move out of his mother’s apartment. Or quit his night shift position at the Baskin Robbins. Oh well.
  4. The Cat Fight with Roommate in the College Dorm Room – In my defense, I did not actually hurt her. She scratched me up good and I simply threw her against the wall a couple times so she would get away from me. I honestly don’t remember what the problem in our relationship was. I think it was a sour combo of her slutty-slut habits and my big mouth.
  5. Getting High the Night Before taking my SATs – (Please don’t let my parents read this. Please don’t let my parents read this. And, if they do, let me remind them that I was still able to get into UCLA with those scores. Not that it was at all responsible or safe or probably even sanitary because I think I shared an apple bong with at least 10 other people…What is really important is that I did not make this a habit. I enjoyed tequila much more than pot. Proud?)
  6. Starting this Blog Post – Though I may actually regret it in a day or so.
  7. Going to NYU – I gained culture, education, wisdom, street-smarts, independence, courage and student loan debt that will probably forever keep me from owning the house or cars that I want. But it was an amazing ride.
  8. Joining Facebook – Hours upon hours of my life sucked away stalking old boyfriends, judging acquaintances and “liking” random things that will make me appear cooler to those who once knew me. That will show them for no longer being my actual “friend.”
  9. The Recent Children’s Clothing Purchase – Curse you Tea Collection and your adorable nautical-themed clothing! It’s as if you know that I’m putty in your hands when you send me a catalogue full of navy and white stripes! Oh, but the Bean will look damn adorable this summer when we go absolutely nowhere because I spent all our money on her dresses. The answer is Yes. It’s totally worth it.
  10. Today’s Three Jack-in-the-Box Tacos and Gallon of Iced Tea – I have heartburn, constipation, the jitters and a smile on my face. Good times. *Burp*


Let it be known that I have the worst memory ever. So, fortunately or unfortunately, it was a bit of a struggle just to come up with ten things in my life that I should regret but absolutely don’t. I just don’t remember enough about details in my past. How does one lose their memory at such a young age? (The answer has nothing to do with number 5.) And how does one get it back? Maybe after reviewing my list, some memories are best left repressed….

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Confession - A Little Love Story


Girl meets Boy. Girl automatically forgets Boy’s name. She ignores him, flirts with every other boy in the newsroom of the UCLA Daily Bruin and confuses him with the only other Jewish editor.

Girl and Boy’s Editor-in-Chief asks that any office romance be disclosed to her immediately. Girl looks around and thinks, “No chance of that happening.”

Girl goes to Boy’s 21st birthday party. Girl finally learns Boy’s name. They bond over many shots of tequila. Then Boy makes a sarcastic jab at Girl. Her pride is wounded but she’s intrigued by his sense of humor. What good is pride anyway? He makes her laugh.

Girl begins to hang out with Boy. She continues to flirt with every other guy in the office but, at the end of the day, find herself sitting at – actually on top of – Boy’s desk. She learns that Boy is actually shy and she becomes determined to bring him out of his shell.

Girl stalks Boy on a daily basis.

Eventually, Boy becomes used to Girl’s ever-present perch on his desk. And their friendship grows. He rolls his eyes at her girly silliness. She rolls her eyes at his snide remarks. And they smile a lot.

Boy is about to graduate. Girl is not. Boy gets into Columbia Journalism School for grad school. And, for the first time, Girl realizes that their relationship means a great deal to her.

Emboldened by these strange new feelings, she opens up her heart to him. Via email.

He does not reply for two whole days. She starts to think he’s actually a bastardo.

Finally he suggests they talk about it at $1 Monday Margarita night at Acapulco’s. Again, tequila brings them closer together.

They decide to start dating and, when she drops him off at his apartment, they share their first kiss.

Exactly four years later to the day, Boy and Girl are married aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

Seven years after that – this coming Sunday in fact –  they will celebrate their life, their two gorgeous kids and the miracle that is Cuervo Gold. 


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Confession - Window To My World


Young or soon-to-be mothers are always coming up to me and asking, “Michelle, how do you it all?” (No, not really. But play along.)

And I say to them, “Well, young grasshopper. I don’t. At least not on the weekdays.”

The weekdays are all about the survival. Strings of tasks and nothing really accomplished. Breakfast, snack, groceries, laundry (sometimes), lunch, snack,  dinner, dishes, snack, bath time, bed time. And, the next day, repeat.

But the weekends – that’s when all the action happens. Real chores accomplished, adventures abound, calories consumed. Those two or three days are usually filled to the brim with magic. And French fries.

I wanted to share a day with you, my friends, so that you can get to know me a little better. And so it begins this past Saturday morning…


8:00 am: Wake up already behind in my womanly tasks and feeling a little bloated from my binge at The Red Lobster the night before. I am no longer a Red Lobster virgin. And, for this, I am grateful.

8:15 am: Undeterred by the bloat, I chow down on the massive breakfast Larry made. I love that man because, if for nothing else, he gets up and makes breakfast on Saturdays.

9:00 am: I lie on the couch in deep regret.

10:00 am: I pry myself off the couch and decide that I better get my act together. A new day awaits. Target beckons.

10:15 am: The siren song of Toys R Us steers me away from Target. I spend the next 45 minutes picking out Easter gifts and daydreaming. These are the toys that will blow all other toys out of the water. My children will love them so much, they will spend hours happy and entertained and not ask me for a single thing for weeks. They will kiss my ring and say yes to every request. These toys are my magic beans.

11:00 am: Satisfied with my purchases and happy that I didn’t spend so much as to send an email alert to Larry on his iPhone, I head over to Target. This trip must be quick. So I speedwalk through the aisles, throwing cleaning supplies, shampoo, tights and hair product into the cart as if I’m on that TV show “Supermarket Sweep.” That show was awesome.

11: 30 am: I arrive at the gym. I spend 30 minutes on the elliptical and tell myself that all transgressions at the The Red Lobster are now forgiven. A man stares at me. He’s definitely not checking me out. I think he’s a little frightened at how red and sweaty I am.

12:00 pm: I arrive at the Carls Jr. drive-thru.

12:15 pm: I get home and silently curse the drive-thru chick for putting cheese on my Famous Star burger. As if the cheese (and not the burger, bun, mayo and hundred fries) is what is keeping me from looking like Angelina Jolie.

1:00 pm: I begin baking. I know! What the hell is the matter with me?

3:00 pm: I’ve made the Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers) and the Pavlovas are in the oven. I get started on laundry. I have only now realized that I’m going out on date night tonight and my son has no pajamas and I have no clean jeans.

5:00 pm: After showering, blow drying my hair and putting on makeup, I go downstairs to start the kids’ dinner. I begin sweating when I can’t find the box of macaroni and cheese in the cupboard.

5:01 pm: I find the box. Crisis averted. But I’m not sure what damage it has done to my makeup.

5:15 pm: I feed the kids and stand over the stove shamelessly shoveling Kraft macaroni and cheese into my mouth straight from the pot. It is undignified, gluttonous and deliciously satisfying. I tell myself it’s important to carb-load before a marathon.

5:30 pm: I fold thousands of articles of tiny clothes.

6:00 pm: Jeannie arrives to babysit the kids. My excitement is not at all subtlety concealed. I exercise restraint and keep the bear hug to under 30 seconds.

6:30 pm: I run around the house getting things set up for departure. I throw on clothes that are acceptable for a night out. I don’t have many so it doesn’t take very long at all.

7:15 pm: Larry puts Linc to bed and we both apologize to Jeannie for the Barbie movie that Maya has elected to watch. I tried to convince her to choose a nice Disney film. Those Barbie movies are the absolute worse drivel on Earth.

7:30 pm: We arrive at the restaurant and meet the three other couples that make up our core group of “parent friends.” I order a gin and tonic. I would rather have a fruity drink but I need something that will do the trick a little quicker tonight.

8:15 pm: I order the sea bass instead of the steak and immediately regret it.  Fortunately, when it comes, we all decide it doesn’t taste up to par (I’m not the only one with buyer’s remorse) and send it back. I order my steak instead. I am fully aware that they will probably spit on it but I decide the risk is worth the reward. Mmm….beef.

11:00 pm: After waiting a million hours for dessert, it finally arrives. And it is also worth it. Freshly baked red velvet cake with frosting, nuts and fresh berries. I’m not a huge dessert person, but this is some good shit. I must enjoy it because, after the sea bass debacle, I can never step foot in this restaurant again.

11:30 pm: We say our goodbyes and head home – full and happy and fuzzy and warm. I know I’m going to regret this day again in the morning but I’m not focused on that right now. I’m happily hugging my leftover steak and potatoes on my lap.

11:45 pm: After another bear hug, I let Jeannie go home.

12: 00 am: When Lincoln hears us coming up the stairs to go to bed, he wakes up screaming “Mama! Where are you? Daddy! Where are you?” I get him, he starts coughing and I feel that he has a fever. Fuck. Tomorrow is gonna suck.

Good night. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cooking - Passover Roundup

Religion is a precarious thing around our house.


I was born and raised Catholic. Went to Catholic school from kindergarten through high school. I never was confirmed, however. First off, my very liberal views clashed with the patriarchal stance of the Catholic church. Second, I was too lazy to take the classes. 


But I have always held the spiritual and cultural values of Catholicism close to my heart. Therefore, I had the kids baptized when they were babies. That, and I wanted them to wear the cute white outfits and eat cake. 


Larry is obviously Jewish. (For some reason, this fact makes me giggle every time I say it.) He went to Hebrew school and Jewish camp in the summers of his youth. I love hearing stories about the kibbutz and the Jewish folk songs sung 'round the Jewish campfire. (Still giggling. I'm terrible.) 


And Maya goes to Lutheran preschool. We just had to throw that one in there for good measure. 


So far it all works for us. We celebrate all the major Catholic and Jewish holidays. And we don't attend services for either religion. I think we're the perfect postmodern family.  


Larry supports my religion by letting me teach Maya and Linc about my faith in whatever fashion I'd like. I support his by making tasty food when the occasion calls for it. 


I draw the line at gefilte fish however. As should everyone, I believe.


This Passover, I've volunteered my culinary efforts for the Pesach seder at my mother-in-law's house. And today I have the pleasure of sharing with you "Michelle's Famous Potato Latkes." They are famous only in my house so far but, hopefully, they will win over the Jews next week.


Michelle's Famous Potato Latkes


Ingredients


2 cups peeled and shredded potato, rinsed well to remove some starch and prevent browning
1 tablespoon of grated onion 
2 chopped green onions. 
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup matzo meal 
1/2 cup canola or peanut oil


Directions


1.  Mix the first six ingredients together. 
2. Spoon small mounds of potato mixture into frying pan with hot oil. Press down with spatula to get a flat, even latke.
3. Fry on one side until golden brown. Flip and fry the other side.
4. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately. 


Here are some tasty desserts I plan on making as well...






Flourless Chocolate Cake with Espresso Whip Cream  from Bon Appetit and blog Erin Cooks




Mixed Berry Pavlovas from Smitten Kitchen




And Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers) from Smitten Kitchen




















I'm so excited to get my Pesach on! Let good food unite this religiously-confused household!


Amen. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Obsession - Easter Garland/Control Issues


When it comes to home d├ęcor, I consider myself somewhat of a minimalist. I hate clutter and have very few tchotchkes around my house.

But since I’ve had kids, I feel like I’ve been shamed into having more shit. For every single holiday there must be loads of crap around the house representative of the season. The quantity of decorations has grown each year and I fear that some day my house could look like a scene out of Hoarders. Except instead of trash, there would be Halloween vomit in every spare corner and crevice.

It goes against my very nature. I actually find joy in throwing stuff away. A good purge seems like the ideal solution to everything, no?

But I comply with the (Orange County) conventions of motherhood that dictate that we must be festive – at least in appearance – every GD moment of GD every day. Sigh.

So this year I realized I’m sorely lacking in Easter shit. (How very Catholic that last sentence sounds. So going to hell.) So I endeavored to look up a craft that could be thrown together in 30 minutes with stuff I already had around the house. I have not the fortitude nor the stomach to brave Michaels.

So I found this cute idea and whipped that shit out. Cut out some egg shapes from pretty cardstock and string ‘em on some ribbon. Voila!

One problem. Maya. She wanted to do it with me.

Oooooookay.

Is it not bad enough that I’m doing it but now I have to be patient times two? Patient with the craft and patient with the child. Ok, I can do this. I can be one of those nice, rosy mothers who sit with their child and enjoy crafting together. I think I threw up in my mouth a little. Shoot me if you ever find me painting at Color Me Mine. It means I’ve finally lost my mind.

Not that there’s anything wrong with painting or crafting. Just the opposite. I envy these people and want to be them actually. But I am a control freak. And like I’ve mentioned a million times, I don’t like doing anything I can’t do well. I cannot cut, paint, glue, sew…nada.

So, if you see me at Color Me Mine, I mean it. Put me out of my misery.

Anyways, back to the special Hallmark moment with Maya. She’s got her eggs and I’ve got mine. She’s cutting and pasting and drawing and it’s all very darling and precious. And I’m ok with everything so far. Until she wants to merge our projects.

“Mommy?” she asks as I’m stringing my carefully selected and cut eggs onto my string. “When are you going to put my eggs onto your string?”

Say what now?

“Um…This is my project, my little darling,” I tell her delicately. “Your eggs are for your garland. We’ll make you a special one and hang it in a place of honor. Right here in the kitchen.”

My daughter has never fallen for bullshit. But it was worth a shot.

“And where is yours going?” she asks with suspicion.

“Oh, where? I don’t know. Probably on the wall above the mantel.” I’m in trouble.

“But I made these eggs special to go on yours! We were doing this together!” The whining. No, not the whining.

“Oh, but yours belong on your own special, unique garland in the kitchen where we can see it all the time because we spend the most time here. Wouldn’t that be better?” I’m laying it on so thick and, for a split second, I think she may see the light.

She ponders this quietly and I go back to work. Then, I look back over at her and see her mouth is turned down in a little pout. Oh no.

“Maya? Is everything ok?”

She looks up at me, her beautiful brown eyes filled with tears.

Here is the finished project.



Can you spot the piece de resistance?



Martha Stewart-worthy, it is not. But every time I pass it, I cringe a little less. That’s progress, is it not?

And my girl child is happy. Very very happy. Happy Easter one and all!

(Do you think this was enough for Jesus to forgive the above GD references? I do too.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Culture - My Play List


Once upon a time, I fancied myself a music critic. For my first three years of UCLA, I was a music writer and editor. I attended concerts twice a week and interviewed bands and artists on a regular basis. I had first pick of newly released CDs and knew everything about each new KROQ band to hit the scene. My passion for the arts grew as quickly as my hearing deteriorated.

In short, it was heaven. (I imagine heaven is filled with free shit and loud music. And hot lead male singers.)

I developed my own tastes in music that included mostly alternative rock. Yes, we’re talking about Third Eye Blind, Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Marilyn Manson, Hole, Live, Garbage… I loved that job and I don’t think I’ll ever do anything as rewarding and fun again in my life. Besides being a mom, of course. *cough*

In graduate school, my taste for Broadway showtunes flourished alongside more worldly discoveries such as Fela Kuti. Living in New York, eating great food and studying the arts… I thought I was pretty f-ing awesome. And I was, if only in my head.

And I’ve always had a liking for the pop music. I’m a sucker for a catchy melody. As you can see from my other posts, I’m not a cultural snob. (I regard Bravo TV as highly as I do Masterpiece Theater.)

But somewhere around 2004, my music education was stalled and stuck in the muddy trenches of motherhood.

Whilst driving the little chupacabras around town, I’m usually entertaining them with the sweet sounds of Mickey Mouse or the Wiggles while bypassing “American Idiot” on the iPod. I’d shed a small tear and say a little prayer for God to keep Billie Joe on Broadway long enough for me to come see the show. Recently I heard my prayers were brutally rebuffed.  

So I decided enough was enough.

I could no longer let motherhood suck away my entire identity. I could not let Glee be my only window to the current Top 40. I was going to listen to my music and so were the punks.

I call it an education in media literacy. I’m not going to raise my kids in a bubble. I will expose them to popular culture while simultaneously teaching them how to properly interpret the words, symbols and messages being delivered to them.

So here’s my current iPod playlist and the syllabus of Maya and Lincoln’s cultural enlightenment:

Cee Lo Green “Forget You” – I decided to begin each car ride with something upbeat. And it doesn’t hurt that the original lyrics include the f-word. I tell the little children that this song is a lesson on the evils of materialism trumping true love. They don’t fully understand now but that’s ok. It’s probably best that they meet that rich someone, marry him or her and save the true love for their mama. We just won’t dance to this song at their wedding.

Florence and the Machine “Dog Days Are Over”  -- This song was like crack for me from the first moment I heard it on the MTV Music Awards. It’s dramatic, soulful and catchy. I think it’s about someone running away from happiness and love. It’s a very practical message.

Adele “Rolling in the Deep” – Her voice is addicting. I tell Maya that she’s living proof that you can have it all – talent, good looks, British citizenship and cheeseburgers. I want to be her. She’s 21 years old. She’s perfect.

Katy Perry “Teenage Dream” – Completely inappropriate for my preschoolers. But it’s a guilty pleasure. And the only Katy Perry song in my library, thank you very much. I just tell Maya that “let’s go all the way tonight” means “let’s go all the way to the park.” Maya: At night? 
Me: Yes, and that’s very dangerous so never go all the way….anywhere….ever.

Amy Winehouse “Rehab” – As you can see, I’m a little behind the times in my music downloads but better late than never, right? For this one, I instruct the wee ones that drinking grown-up beverages is bad news.
Maya: Like beard?
Me: Yes, exactly. Like beer.
Maya: But I’ve already had beard.
Me: You were only three and it was because you thought it was Tata’s apple juice. Did you enjoy it?
Maya:  No! It was gross!
Me: That’s because it’s the devil’s nectar and because beer tastes like liquid Fritos. Don’t touch it, or soda, ever again.

White Town “Your Woman” – It’s just fun. Fun beat, fun tune and fun to fuck with Maya’s mind. Yes, a man is singing, “I could never be your woman.” Why, Mama? Irony, my dear.

Lady Gaga “Bad Romance” – I’m not sure what the educational value is here. But it sure is hilarious to hear Lincoln say “Lady Gaga! Lady Gaga!” Probably not so hilarious to Larry or my dad.

These seven songs will usually get me to any destination in Orange County. For longer trips, we’ll listen to the Glee soundtrack or Wicked or Hairspray.

Some experts, or know-it-all mommies, would probably suggest I listen to classical music or foreign language CDs in the car. All I have to say is that when your tweens are into Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers, mine will be into Broadway music and alt rock from the late 1990s. Which path do you find more tolerable? Or, let me put it this way, would you rather your child be slutty, sequined-shrug-wearing drama queen or a gay drug addict?

Don’t answer that. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Obsession - Photography

It's Monday night and I'm watching Bethenny Ever After after actually going to the gym. 


I spend a lot of my free time on the computer. Not that any of my time is actually "free." I should be doing laundry because I'm pretty sure I have no clean jeans to wear tomorrow. That's ok. I'll just wear gym clothes and pretend that I'm dedicated to fitness. 


But anyways, I'm on the computer and going through my recent photographs. I'm obsessed with photography. But there are two problems. I don't have enough money to hire a photographer to just follow my kids around 24 hours a day. The second problem is that I have no real talent of my own. But I'm working on that. 


So I forced my family to buy me a nice DSLR and I'm learning how to use it. It's a work in progress. Here are some recent shots from the park last week...


Hello! I'm obsessed with trains and I won't stay still for a second. So 90% of your photos of me will be a complete blur, Mama. Love you!

Mom is trying to be artistic but I am blinded by the sun. And I have to pee.





The sun was too bright and I still have no idea how to work with that. Sigh. I'm trying. Here are some more from a disastrous photo session on a beach in Laguna that included quite a few tears. Mostly mine. 


But some cute moments came across. Not perfect but cute. That should be my slogan. Actually written on my gravestone. 


The albino shot. But I'm adorable. Oh, that's not a mole. It's an injury because I cannot go a day without falling or running into a sharp corner.

I'm about to say something sarcastic. It's on the tip of my tongue.






And finally, here are some of those in-between shots that show the monsters' true colors. 










They are all straight out of the camera but I find myself looking at these photos the most. The goofy faces, the silly interactions... These are the perfect shots in my mind. Not properly focused or exposed but real. 


Thanks for taking a look! Happy Monday!