Thursday, January 31, 2008
Oh, So THAT'S the Stage We're in Now?
I knew it was coming, this stage. I'd read about it, heard about it, witnessed it even. It's just no one ever told me it starts so suddenly and without warning. So thanks for nothing if you've known all along that three is magical age in which boys become obsessed with bathroom humor. I already figured out that it lasts well into retirement for most males.

Last night as we were finishing up post-bath story time, Harry decided to tell knock-knock jokes:

Who's there?
Banana who?
Banana poopy!

Who's there?
Pee pee.
Pee pee who?
Pee pee poopy!

Who's there?
Poopy who?
Poopy HEAD!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Dear Mark Bittman
Have I told you lately that I love you? Thank you for this.

This love I have for you? It makes me do crazy things. Like eating my weight in granola or trying to convince my kids to use the gift cards they received for their birthdays to buy me some of your books. I'm sick of Junie B. Jones. But you? I'll never tire of you or your recipes.

Monday, January 28, 2008
I will upload a some pictures soon but the party was a smashing success, which is good because it nearly killed me. The cake, complete with one miniature marshmallow igloo, three polar bears, one reindeer, two penguins and a walrus was gobbled up (luckily I baked an extra 13 x 9 cake of which there were only three small pieces left). Pizza was delicious thanks to our sitter, who recommended a place about 150 yards from the party location. The goody bags were a hit and I was so grateful for the parents that had stuck around because they helped us serve and clean up. They also acted as extra security detail for the various incidents involving popped balloons and minor disagreements which are inevitable when you put 25 kids in a vast space where they can run with reckless abandon.

For the record, I didn't fully grasp the term "reckless abandon" until I saw those 25 kids running at full speed, oblivious to the adults around them. And that "reckless abandon the kids ran with? That was before they'd even had any cake.

Saturday, January 26, 2008
Houston, We Have a Party
In five hours, nineteen minutes we will host about 20 kids at the polar party.

Cake is baked, frosted and sparkled to resemble ice, miniature marshmallow igloo was constructed yesterday using a pizzelle as a foundation (and for the record, I think I'm in love with the pizzelle. So humble, so not-to0-sweet, so many left over from this mini baking project to go with tea. And low in calories and fat, too! If you were on Weight Watchers, each cookie is like 1 point....seriously!) I promise to post a pictures. I just feel that I should give it another go since the igloo isn't quite what I envisioned. I'm a perfectionist that way.

We have 36 juice boxes and 48 aqua pods ready, along with a barrel of pretzels, a two-pound container of hummus and two bags of baby carrots for snacking. Ten pizzas are on order.

There is one pin-the-antlers-on-the-caribou game and one walk-with-an-egg-on-your-feet like a penguin game. I have decided that 20 kids with scissors for a make-your-own-snowflake activity was a disaster waiting to happen not so that's been scrapped in favor of thirty balloons for the kids to kick, throw, pop, and rub against their heads to stick to the wall in an exercise on static electricity.

There are goody bags for the kids to take home as parting gifts.

There are two bottles of wine for the adults to have after the party.

Wish us luck.

Thursday, January 24, 2008
I'll Bet My Grandparents Never Fought Like This
Me: Can you please eat chocolate chip muffins over a plate while you're working on the computer?

John: {makes face}

Me: Plate! Use a plate! Look at you. You're like a woman eating muffins and reading TMZ.

John: {gets up to get a plate}

Me: I'm so totally blogging this.

John: Oh, is that how you're going to threaten me from now on? With blogging?

Me: If it gets you to use a plate, then YES!

John: I'll blog you right back.

Me: Oh yeah? And what's the name of your blog?

John: The He-Man Woman Haters Blog.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Cold, But I'm OK with It
If you happen to live in the northeast, you might have noticed there's a little chill in the air. Some would describe it as being cold, frigid. F*cking freezing is the most accurate phrase I could come up with.

Now, I didn't start a blog to talk about the weather. Hopefully people all over the world are reading it for a chuckle and not to hear about my personal experience with the weather. I mention it because while it is really cold, I noticed something just now while gazing out my office window at 4:30 this afternoon: the sun! It isn't dark yet! So while the calendar and the thermometer register 'dead of winter', we're on our way to spring. The days are getting a little longer everyday.

Keep that in mind before you complain about how cold out it is.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008
For Sophie
Six weeks before you were born, I had a dream that you were a boy. And so, with no other scientific data to prove otherwise, I went about my business growing a healthy baby which I was convinced was a boy.

When the time came and you were born, t
he doctor yelled "It's a girl!" and if I remember correctly my response was "IT IS?" I was rather surprised but in the hustle and bustle of the immediate hours post partum I didn't have much time to think about it. But when I finally got to my room in the maternity ward, I laid there waiting for them to bring you to me, all the while thinking "what am I going to do with a girl?" Will everything have to be pink? Will everything need to have bows and ribbons? Will there be dresses and patent leather shoes? What? What am I going to do with a GIRL?"

After the nurse brought you to me, all swaddled and sleeping a deep sleep, all clean and soft, I kissed you and held you for awhile thinking to myself that you were the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen and thinking "eh, we'll figure out the pink and the bows and the ribbons later."

Sophie, it is now SEVEN years since you took your first breath and those seven years have been full of pink and ribbons and bows. But those seven years have been filled with more, so much more than just frilly little things. Things that are wonderful, things that are beautiful, things that make me believe in goodness and love.

I can hardly believe there was a time I thought maybe I wouldn't understand having a daughter, that I wouldn't know what to do with bows and pink and ribbons and sparkles. I may not appreciate the color pink very much but between the two of us there is a common thread, a bond, that ties us together in a way I don't know how to really explain. But it's there and it's strong.

On your seventh birthday I would just like to wish you every pink, sparkley happiness and tell you that I love you very much.
Happy Birthday, sweetheart.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008
9 Years
Today the husband and I are married for 9 years. I'm off to look for a willow gift for him. Or one made out of pottery. Those are the traditional gift materials for this anniversary year. Leather if you want to go modern.

So what can I say about marriage after being in one for nine years? Well, some days it's ridiculously easy. Everyone's in sync, we're having a good time, the world in wallpapered in rainbows and doves circle over head, chirping our song to us as we skip through tulips and feed each other peeled grapes.

Other days it's hard because everyone's giving 110% and you're tired and for once in your flipping life it'd be nice to have some time to yourself but that person? The one you married? They're always THERE. And you live in an apartment so not only are they THERE, they can see you from almost any room in the house and there's no privacy, even in the bathroom because your cat insists on clawing the door open while you're in there doing your business and for the love of pete WHY DO YOU INSIST ON TALKING TO ME THE MINUTE I PICK UP A BOOK?

But then you go to bed at the end of long day and just as you're about fall asleep that person? The one you married? The one that's always THERE? They come to bed and give you a very sweet kiss on the cheek and say "Goodnight. I love you." And suddenly you are very happy because that person? The one you married? The one who's always THERE? You are very happy you married him and that he's always there, by your side, night after night, resting up for the next day together.

Monday, January 14, 2008
Child of the 80's (As If You Couldn't Tell)
This is St. Michael's Church, which is located in my hometown of Brooklyn, NY.

Besides being a house of worship, it was also the setting for the 80's movie Heaven Help Us. Except in the movie it was called St. Basil's.

The movie starred this guy and Seventeen magazine said he was the "good" kid from the Brat Pack to follow. So sweet, so gentlemanly.

HHU also featured this guy, except that screen grab is from his other movie, also made in the 80's.

Now those dudes look like this:


Mr. McCarthy has recently worked on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Last Friday I saw him on 9th Avenue in NYC the other day. I can personally confirm that he's still a cutie. You've probably already heard Mr. Dempsey is working on this other show. They call him McDreamy. I call him Hot. But I stopped watching the show. Couldn't take the whining.

But back to Andrew. Let's take a look at his other work. The work that he did before the internet was born.

There was Less Than Zero, which showed how effed up drugs could be:

There was this GEM of a movie. God, I couldn't wait to graduate college and have a crisis adjusting to life.

Pay no attention to this one:

But who could forget this:

Class also happened to be the first screen role for Hottie McHottie-Pants.

Six years later, he made boombox serenading cool:

I know, I know. The 80's called. They want their teen movie geek back. Can I keep my Love's Baby Soft?

Sunday, January 13, 2008
Sunday Miscellany
All week I've been looking forward to this Sunday night and not because Desperate Housewives is airing a new episode. Beginning tonight and running through March, PBS is showing film adaptations of all six of Jane Austen's novels, plus a biopic of Miss Austen herself. You have no idea how this appeals to my inner English-lit nerd.


Yesterday was the festival of taking down the Christmas decorations. John had taken the kids to the park so I could finish without tearing the spotted elephant out of anyone's hands and cruelly packing it away in a plastic box for eleven months.

I decided to listen to some Christmas music as a last hurrah of the season. I was at the point when the tree was bare, I was hungry because I'd skipped lunch, perhaps a little dehydrated because I hadn't had any water in awhile, fa-la-la-la-la-ing around the house when suddenly, I didn't know if I was coming or going. Was I decorating? Or un-decorating? Was it Christmas or 2008 already? Were those lights ready to be packed up or put up?

A quick look to the curb to see lots of other discarded trees confirmed I was indeed packing up. Whew. I wasn't ready for a second round of Christmas.

Friday, January 11, 2008
When All Else Fails,Design an Invitation Yourself

Thursday, January 10, 2008
Happy Birthday, Son

Dear Harry,

You have been in our baby boy for three years now but I can barely remember a time when you weren't a part of this family. Now you are three. THREE! I can hardly believe it.

This past year has been a tough one as you prove to us that it is called the terrible two's for a reason. There have been meltdowns, tantrums and weeks spent crying and whining over things that we deem inconsequential but which tears your world apart. There have been the dreaded "night terrors," which have ripped me from bed and startled me so much I honestly wondered if I would have a heart attack while comforting you.

But it hasn't been all bad. We've actually had a lot of fun this year. There were visits to zoos, aquariums, movies, parties and Coney Island. This past summer you experienced toasted marshmallows for the first time and I think you ate your weight in chocolate. We took you and your sister hiking and you seemed to really enjoy it. Probably because it keeps you in constant motion. You always manage to do something pretty darned cute when we go to church and the kids are called to the altar for the children's sermon. I am secretly terrified you will knock over the candles and burn the place down but for the most part you walk up there and listen. There have been lots of outings, including a visit to a county fair where you weren't interested in learning about the animals in the barns but you sure did want to show them your matchbox cars. You forged a special place in your grandpa's heart by loving trains with every fiber of your being and so Grandpa and I hauled you to Scranton, PA to ride a working steam locomotive. It is something you still talk about and I wouldn't be surprised if you came home from Dartmouth one day to announce your plan to ditch your business degree and become a railroad engineer.

As you assert your independence and explore this crazy world, there have been times I've wished that you could just sit still for five, no, three minutes. Or stop talking to me about trains. Or cars. Or trains. Napping without a fever or a long car ride would be good, too. I'd like to make dressing you less of a contact sport. But you are a boy, and these are the things boys do, even if it is exhausting, and I wouldn't have you any other way.

Lately, you have preferred your father to anyone else in this world, and if I can be honest, that sometimes that makes me jealous. I understand, though. At least I think I do. I'm the one that's always there, night after night, making sure you've eaten and have been bathed and read to and kissed goodnight. I'm more constant. I'm not coming down on your dad; he just has to work later than I do and that's OK. But when dad comes home....well, it's DAD! the guy who wrestles with you and builds train tracks and helps you build lego bridges for the train tracks. We are lucky we are so complete as a family.

Earlier this week, when I'd had a particularly bad day at work, you looked at me and insisted on giving me an extra kiss and hug when I picked you up at the end of the day. It was sorely needed and instantly made me feel better. I think you might have been telling me "Hey, mom! I love you, no matter what."

Well, son. I love you, too. No matter what. Happy, happy birthday.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008
At Least He's Keeping a Sense of Humor About It
Last night I put Harry on the potty, the throne he cares not to rule from.

He complained a little and said "I only farted!" (Boys!)

"You have gas," I gently reminded him.

The next 10 minutes were spent telling him to go back to the potty, to try! try! try! I offered to read to him, I offered to play music, but this little boy of mine could really care less about this ritual of relieving oneself into a vessel which is not a diaper. So he said again "But I only farted!" And then I reminded him that he has gas.

I went into the kitchen to put something away and heard him yell out "Mom! My hiney ran out of gas!"

After I picked myself up off the floor and stopped laughing long enough to keep a straight face I told him that yes, indeed, he was finished with the potty for the evening.

Monday, January 7, 2008
Identity Theft Update
I've spent the better part of the day at the DA's office tending to matters on my identity theft case. And that's pretty much all I can say about it so I'll just tell you about the experience...'cause that's all I got right now.

I forgot what it's like to enter a government building in NYC. First you empty your pockets of everything into shoe-box sized containers. Then you put your coat, purse and tote bag/briefcase (or whatever other bag you're carrying) into larger bins, which all go through an x-ray machine. Then I walked through a metal detector and when the metal button on my jeans caused it to go off I got The Wand.

Then the guard said "It appears you have some electronic equipment with you. Please remove it from your bag." So out came my cell phone, Blackberry and Palm Pilot. Then the guard said "Keep going." So I fished out my jump drive. Then he gave me an encouraging glance and I fished out the cdma card and my digital camera, which I'd forgotten was even in there. Even I can't believe I carry that much electronic crap around with me.

When I went to retrieve my coat pocket contents from the little boxes I realized that between my purse, briefcase and jacket I was carrying SIX lip balms but the guard was kind enough to not mention it even though it is OBVIOUS I have a serious dependancy.

Going through all that security in a government building is a lot like flying except when you make it past security THERE IS NO BAR. Also, no food. Not even vending machines because this office is an annex and not "downtown," so to speak.

While I was waiting (for three and half hours!) I read all sorts of literature on crime plaguing this city: domestic violence, child abandonment, truancy, child abuse, gangs and internet predation. Fun stuff!

At least now I know how to leave a gang and live to tell about it.

Thursday, January 3, 2008
Leslie from Tacoma, WA emailed me this morning to remind me that if the kid's party is going to include penguins AND polar bears, then it can't be an arctic themed party as neither species lives together in the arctic. Only the polar bears live in the arctic circle while the penguins reside in the south pole. I think you're right, Leslie. So from here on out, The Party will now be referred to as the Polar Party.

Yesterday we received in the mail a catalog for Birthday Express. If you have kids and they have birthdays, then you probably receive this catalog of themed paper goods for juvenile parties. I promptly hid the catalog because if the kids find it I am TOAST. Gone will be the easy all-white theme and I will have to buy two separate sets of party goods for each child. As long as it isn't this theme, I guess it might not be so bad:

It's Bindi the Jungle Girl!
She freaks me out a little bit.

So does this, although Joel's comment made me laugh:

Today I searched for a polar bear themed party invitation and found one. I thought it was great and I could customize it the way I wanted. And it was inexpensive, too. Before I hit the 'finalize order' button, I decided to take one last look at the photo. The polar bear featured on the front of the card is walking away from something on the ice floe. But what could it be? I zoom in, then zoom in again. Then I saw what the bear was walking away from. His seal dinner.

I quickly canceled that order. And now the search continues...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Birthday Party Planning
My husband and I decided to marry in January because it was the one month nothing ever happened in our family. No birthdays, no other anniversaries, nothing. So we got married, giving us plenty of reason to celebrate on the 16th of January every year. Then we had kids, both of whom were born in January. Now we have a lot going on the first month of the year, which is a killer because after Christmas I want to crawl into a hole and hibernate till the daffodils bloom. But I can't because there are children's birthday parties to plan, cupcakes to bake and goody bags to assemble.

This year the kids are having a joint party. I just can't do two parties. The kids are destined to hate me for something later on in life and a joint party for two January babies seems like something I could handle being hated for twenty years down the line.

The kids decided very much on their own to have an arctic-themed birthday party. They want an all-white cake with penguins, seals and polar bears, white tablecloths, white napkins and white plates and utensils.
Can you say "easiest birthday party ever?"

I'm thinking (and I say thinking as in "it all sounds lovely now, but who knows what it'll be like three weeks from now") of making a sheet cake, frosting it white and making a miniature marshmallow igloo. A friend at work suggested giving the guests safety scissors and letting them make their own snowflakes as a party activity. Then we could play games like "leave the ice for four months while your mate incubates an egg on his feet in extreme darkness" (you had to have seen March of the Penguins). Seriously, the kids could put a plastic egg on his/her feet and try to march across the room with it. Or do an ice cube pass where the kids try to pass an ice cube from spoon to spoon down the line. Or pin the harpoon on the baby seal tail on the caribou.

This party is practically planning itself.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008
My Christmas Break - A Photo Essay
First, we finished The Desk. We are still in need of a chair. Ikea's having a sale. Maybe we'll find one there.



Then Groucho Marx came to visit:

The kids let me get a shot of them in their Christmas pj's. Sophie's holding the Hannah Montana doll. It sings.

Once again, Santa got a plate of Nana Laurie's cookies and a nice glass of milk.

After opening presents and eating breakfast, we went to church where we celebrated the birth of baby Jesus with Barbie The Island Princess, one of the other dolls that sing. Sophie is standing front of the church's 25 foot tall tree.

Flash forward to New Year's Eve....this is Dr. Harry, happy that he successfully performed a funny-bone-ectomy:

Then I made the Zebra Cake. First I dissolved one teaspoon unflavored gelatin in 2 tablespoons of hot water. I let it cool a little bit while I whipped 2 cups heavy cream with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Once the gelatin was cool enough I added it to the cream/sugar/vanilla. This allows the whipped cream to hold it's shape.

Once the cream was ready, I started spreading it between Nabisco's Famous Chocolate Wafers and lining them up like so:

I kept going until I didn't feel like it anymore:

Then I covered the whole thing in the remaining whipped cream:

I refrigerated it for a couple of hours and then sliced it on the diagonal and served. Sophie was disappointed we didn't use our fine china.

I don't have pictures of us eating the cake but it was delicious. The cream softens the wafers a little bit and makes it easier to cut. Next time I will make it earlier in the day and give the cookies more time to soften. I can also think of lots of variations for this recipe, including, but not limited to, adding chocolate to the whipped cream.

Today the family is going to just relax. Harry is currently watching WPIX's broadcast of the Yule log and listening to Bing Crosby. I plan on watching Holiday Affair on the free on-demand channel and maybe Miracle on 34th Street or It's a Wonderful Life.

'08 is already off to a great start.