Thursday, January 29, 2009
It's 1:30 am. I've been up since six am. Got the kids off for half days with sitters and school. Made sure I stopped by the grocery store so we'd have some milk in the house when we return because today we left for Disney World. It was pouring down rain on top of the snow. I got the kids into a "taxi" which was a Lincoln Towncar whose bumper was tied to the body of the rest of the car with string. Exactly one block from home I made the driver go back when I realized I'd forgotten my dental alignment trays, which was the same moment I realized I'd also locked myself out of the house. Luckily, I have people, and those people have a set of keys for these types of situations. Then! Ha! My dental alignment trays were in my purse all along. Our flight-no surprise-was delayed.

But all that was OK because we were leaving for Disney World, Palace of Magic, World Headquarters of Happiness, Bliss Central.

I'd be more blissful if my luggage was here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009
The Many Wake Up Calls of Harry
I'm going to write a book about the many varied ways our four year old wakes us up:

Chapter 1
January 10, 2009
5:56 a.m.
"Mom! I pooped! Come wipe me!"

Chapter 2
January 18, 2009
6:43 a.m.

Chapter 3
January 23, 2009
6:46 a.m.
"It's berry tree day. WAKE UP."
(We don't know what berry tree day is but why should anything make sense at 6:46 a.m. anyway?)

Chapter 4
January 24, 2009
5:57 a.m.
"Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! I said, WAKE UP! Also, I have to go to the bathroom."

Friday, January 23, 2009
She Of The Adorable Bob
Over the weekend, and especially on Monday as snow quietly fell, I was all into winter and loving the coziness of a long weekend with the kids. Oh, it was lovely.

Today? Not so much.

The feeling of being encumbered by multiple layers of clothing is wearing on me. Yesterday was the worst and I ended up wearing three layers at the office: a long sleeved t-shirt, a turtleneck sweater and then a mock turtle neck zipper cardigan. Then the boots, and the gloves and the hats. My pants are too tight because apparently I've never met a Christmas cookie I didn't like and they've all caught up to me. Along with the wine and the pasta and the homemade bread which has become a staple in our house.

When I get this way--which is to say feeling frumpy and uncomfortable and winter weary, I look to make a change. Starting at the top. Which would be my hair. My hair, which is showing more and more gray these days and needs a cut. Here is the planned cut, the new 'do, as shown on Samantha Brown, She Of The Adorable Bob:

Hopefully a high paying job, international travel and thin thighs are included!

Thursday, January 22, 2009
I Can't Believe She's 8
This is one my all time favorite pictures of Sophie, who turns 8 today! Happy birthday, sweetheart!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009
No, Thank YOU

In case you hadn't heard, today we will swear in the 44th president of the United States. If you don't have a radio, television or an internet connection, you can gather in at least three locations in Manhattan to watch the ceremony, as well as movie theaters and various restaurants and bars. Now that's something you don't hear everyday: "Watch the inauguration at O'Reilly's Pub."

I was getting antsy about the inauguration because there was no talk of the kids watching it in school. I couldn't believe they'd let a moment like this just pass the kids by.

In my day there would have been a formal assembly and we'd all have to wear navy blue slacks with a white blouse. One class would do some sort of singing with an old battleaxe accompanying us on an out-of-tune piano. I was always in *that* class, stuck in the chorus and hating every minute of it. I always regretted my good health on assembly day.

I considered keeping Sophie home from school so she could watch the inauguration but on Friday the school sent home a note outlining the elaborate juggling to Tuesday's schedule so each and every student could watch Barack Obama be sworn into office. No mention of navy slacks and white blouses, although a rousing chorus of God Bless America does seem appropriate.

Sunday, January 18, 2009
Recipe for Disastrous Looking But Delicous Ice Cream Cake
Harry requested a chocolate and ice cream cake for his birthday last weekend. I decided to make it myself, which was so much harder than walking over to Baskin Robbins, selecting a cake and putting a #4 candle in it. But so worth the effort.

I only wanted a single cake layer in the ice cream cake so I made a 1/2 recipe of
Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake. After I buttered the pan, I dusted it with cocoa powder so there wouldn't be any white on the sides of the chocolate cake:

Then you mix up the ingredients and bake according to recipe directions. Someone forgot to take a picture of the mixing. Pour it into the prepared pan and after baking for 35 minutes you have this:

Meanwhile, soften the ice cream for 20 minutes or so. It is 26 degrees here so it took a little longer in our drafty kitchen. About the time it takes to check Facebook. Line a cake pan with plastic wrap (make sure you have a couple of inches of plastic hanging over the rim). Spread the softened ice cream in the pan. Return to the freezer to harden.

Prepare whipped cream: 1 teaspoon gelatin dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water. Cool slightly then whip into 2 cups heavy cream, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla.

When you are ready to assemble the cake, remove the cake pan from the freezer and lift the ice cream layer out of the pan. Place ice cream layer on a freezer safe plate. At this point you could add finely crushed Oreos or Nabisco's Famous Chocolate Wafers. I didn't because I always think of these things too late. Discard the plastic wrap. It was only there to give you something to hold onto anyway.

Spread some whipped cream on top of the ice cream, then place the cake layer on top.

Frost with remaining whipped cream. Get teary eyed because it looks terrible.

Decorate with miniature marshmallows. Invite the neighborhood lunatic over to write Happy Birthday Harry on the cake.

He doesn't look too unhappy.

Place candles in cake, sing a little birthday ditty and dig in.

Saturday, January 17, 2009
Ten Plus
Yesterday John and I reached the 10 year mark of our marriage. The weather screamed "stay home! wear pajamas! order in!" but John had arranged for my fantastic step-mom to baby sit and made reservations for dinner here:

As we looked over the wine list, the chef sent out parsnip soup with stuff floating on top that was infused with something or other and had toasted almonds on top. It arrived in a little demitasse cup and as soon as the waiter had left we realized that there were no spoons with which to eat the soup. We requested some but our captain quietly swooped in and politely explained that the soup was intended to be sipped straight from the cup. I was too embarrassed to explain that we'd assumed that since the restaurant had tablecloths and there were no chicken fingers on the menu we'd be required to eat all courses with utensils and without ketchup.

Obviously, we don't get out much.

The rest of our meal was delicious and passed without much embarrassment. There was an errant lamb chop bone that slid off my plate but I quickly recovered it.

The view from the restaurant was amazing. It's nestled right next to the Brooklyn Bridge. From our table, John had a view of the bridge and I looked out at Manhattan. It was gorgeous and the food was amazing and
and our dessert had a little chocolate plaque that said "Happy Anniversary" and I loved that after dinner they have an employee whose job is to go out and hail you a taxi. It was a wonderful place to celebrate.

After dinner we forced ourselves to go for one more drink after dinner, just so we wouldn't be home before 10 pm. God, we're pathetic.

Today marks the beginning of the next 10 years of our marriage.
It is a long weekend, we have one kid with the sniffles, my arch nemesis, Laundry, needs to be dealt with. We have Christmas decorations that need to be stored. We have movies from Netflix to watch and popcorn to pop. All the mundane stuff that makes up a happy, happy life.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009
Ten, Part Two
Dear St. Paul,

Hi, You don't know me but you were a fixture at our wedding ten years ago when a family member read part of your first letter to the Corinthians at the ceremony.
Remember when you said "love is patient?" You weren't kidding! You might have reminded us that patience is most often tested when one half of a couple is turning the house upside down looking for their checkbook.

You might have also added that snarky "I'm sure it's where you had it last" comments don't help. Or is that covered under "love is not arrogant or rude?"

The other thing I have a question about is this: sometimes our four year old pitches a fit when his father is in charge. Is it wrong of me to think "welcome to my world," and smile to myself, glad I am not on the receiving end for once? Or should I then recall the line about patience? Just wondering.


P.S. I think you are totally right when you say that these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." You totally nailed it, dude.

Sunday, January 11, 2009
This week John and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. Tenth. That's 3,650 days, not including the 1,460 days (four years) we dated.

So do we still have it, the spark that keeps a marriage alive? Do the flames of passion still light up our nights? If by light up our nights you mean bicker over the most ridiculous things and fall asleep dead tired, then yes! Why just this afternoon we bickered over the right and wrong way to store strings of Christmas lights.

Yes, the embers, they burn brightly, as you can see from the following chat exchange from this morning. We were an entire room apart:

Staff of servants to do laundry? Oh yeah, that's hot.

Thursday, January 8, 2009
It's been back to work and school and the post-holiday crash is hard so posting has been light.

This Saturday we will celebrate Harry's fourth birthday and I think I might actually live to see the day. He didn't kill me! (Though there were times I thought he was close.) And he lived, despite running into the street twice, falling off the jungle gym once and being pretty reckless around water that is higher than he is. There is no such thing as "lounging by the pool" with this one.

He has no future at a hotel as a desk clerk responsible for wake up calls because his favorite way to wake me up is by getting rightnexttomyface in the morning and asking "WELL, ARE YOU GOING TO WAKE UP NOW?" People paying to sleep in strange beds aren't going to put up with that.

His ability to ignore people who insist on talking to him is matched only by his ability to hound you if you are not paying attention to him. He claims he will be three forever and is adament he will not be attending school in the fall. And since I'm in charge (at least in theory), I can tell you he has no choice in either matter. But he is pretty, cute, isn't he?

He has requested Chinese food for his birthday lunch, and chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and marshmallows. I'm off to figure out how to make this dessert concoction work as a cake. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 4, 2009
Mr. Fixit
Our heating system seems to be in working order thanks to a man named Lee and his amazing ability to change the boiler's low water cut off valve, a thingamabob with the handle on it which regulates how much water the boiler holds. It is like the mechanism in your toilet that allows your tank to hold water without spilling over, which I think it is called a ballcock. Obviously I know far too much about plumbing now.

Anyway, the thingamabob? It is vital to the operation of the boiler, which is vital to the operation of this household. Not to keep the occupants warm, but to let the mama sleep without being jarred from slumber when the pipes all of a sudden CLANG! at 4am. And also to prevent mama and papa from killing each other over whose turn it is to dump the water out of pots shoved under leaky steam valves. It is no long either arctic cold or tropical hot, it is comfortable so we can actually walk to the kitchen without breaking a sweat or needing a scarf.

Friday, January 2, 2009
No Shimming Over Here
So the local plumbers never showed up yesterday because they were busy trying to figure out why another house in the neighborhood had three feet of water in their basement. When I called to the office they told me the whole story in detail, including the part about the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) being there three times and how they flushed dye through the system and now the poor people with three feet of water in their basement now have three feet of green water in their basement and why, yes, we can live with banging pipes that wake the dead, thank you very much, just keep the DEP and green dye and floods on the other side of town.

Have I ever mentioned that living in this place is great practice for when we own our own home? We are practically experts on ancient heating systems and plumbing so old some of the pipes are made of terra cotta and drafty windows and toilets that spontaneously explode and leaky faucets. And don't forget the stray feral cats that inhabit the backyard and and the skunk that moved into our shed at our weekend place (where we are supposed to "get away from it all" but it is hard when "it all" follows you) and is it too early to sign up for assisted living because having someone come in to help bathe and dress me and periodically administer medication sounds pretty good right about now.

Two Days into 2009...
And we are back to leaky boilers! The thermostat thinks 68 degrees means 96 degrees so when the heat comes up you can actually sweat away the Christmas pounds just by sitting in our bedroom. You can't rest, though, because the clanging and banging happening within the pipes could wake the dead. There is much talk of shimming radiators up, and plumbers, and intake valves and steam vents, balancing of systems and draining of the aforementioned boiler. Good times.

The boys are driving to Pennsylvania to
lock the door and I'm home with Sophie who has a cold with a bad cough. It gets worse when she's out in the cold air so we've kept her in for the past two days and let her watch too much TV. (Like this is such a burden for her.) We administered hot tea, Vicks Vap-O-Rub and water along with the occasional dose of cough syrup. Her cough sounded like rocks rattling around a box. Today we switched to Mucinex and she hasn't coughed all morning.

I'll still let her watch TV all day, as long as there's a spot for me next to her on the sofa.

Thursday, January 1, 2009
Our New Years Eve? Perfect.
Yesterday we took the kids to see the Big Apple Circus, a very good one-ring circus that installs itself at Lincoln Center every year. The good thing about the circus is that the acts are short, making it easier to hold the attention of the littler kids. If you go on New Year's Eve, they offer discounted seats, so it is much more affordable to take a family of four to see a professional circus, as opposed to the three-ring version we have in our house everyday.

I had a hard time taking the outfits on these men seriously.

After the circus, we stopped off at Grand Central Station to see the train show.
We ate Chinese takeout for dinner, then played board games with the kids. A little wine, some pigs-in-a-blanket and before I knew it I started taking pictures of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. This is a Jonas Brother:
I know, Dick. I find Kelly Pickler a tad annoying, too.

Some of us didn't make it past 10:30.

It's 7pm now. We're all still in our PJ's, eating cookies and leftovers. I've watched Planes Trains and Automobiles, The Honeymooners, My Favorite Wife, The Awful Truth and now It Happened One Night. Later on, Them! If the rest of 2009 goes like this, it's going to be great.