Category Archives: books

Mad About The Blender

I’ve begun reading for pleasure again, which is a good sign that the dark cloud of the last few months is beginning to lift.  Actually, the dark cloud has been more like a clinical case of anxiety and depression.  (Keeping it real here, folks.)  I’m slowing digging my way out, and Helen Fielding’s newest book, “Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy” is helping.  To say I love the Bridget Jones books would be an understatement, and the movies are as comforting to me as my mom’s matzo ball soup and falling asleep on the couch.  In fact, if it weren’t for this parenting gig that generally prevents me from being anywhere near the couch except to vacuum crumbs, I probably would’ve been watching “Bridget Jones’s Diary” on an endless loop on the couch since mid-September.

Christmas was a mixture of magic and truth.  The magical part was obviously the kids’ delight.  Riley pitter-pattered into my bedroom around 3:00 a.m. on Christmas morning (after peaking in the living room first) and whispered in my ear, “Mommy, guess what?  Santa was here.”  Experiencing Christmas through my children’s eyes was a gift, but it also revealed a hard truth: Christmas is for kids and the rest of us are just sitting around thinking about who isn’t there, who is there but might not be for much longer, how excessive it all feels, and how after an endless build-up, it will be over as quickly as it started and the rest of the day will be messy and long and sad.

(I’m such a buzzkill.)

(I’m sorry.)

Here’s another truth.  I think too goddamned much.  In an effort to stave off a frothy wave of new thinky sadness and ruin the rest of the season for everyone, I’m going to harness my inner Bridget Jones and tell you a happier story about a blender.

***

12/25, 10:15 a.m.

Operation Santa Claus is great success!  Kids are happy and we don’t require a bigger house due to (a) retractable toys (a Hot Wheels track that rolls up like a pillbug), (2) outside toys (sidewalk chalk that attaches to scooters), (3) non-toys (Iron Man and Lightning McQueen blankets), and (4) toothbrushes.  Colorful, light-up toothbrushes make kids swoon as much as extra-large plastic batcave and pirate ship!

Note to self:

How to Improve Christmas Next Year

1. Buy and hide Santa-only gift wrap, as first words uttered in living room at 6:30 a.m. were: “Santa has the same wrapping paper as us!”  Oops.

2. Buy only retractable toys and toys that live outside, so house will not be swallowed by plastic crap made in China.

3. Buy floss, socks, frozen peas, and math workbooks.  If wrapped in Christmas paper, children will swoon!

4. Drink less wine on Christmas Eve so as to prevent 6:30 a.m. headache.

12/25, 10:45 a.m.

Husband has outdone himself.  Of all the romantic appliances he’s gifted to me over the years, this one is effing brilliant.  He did the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the beyond my wildest dreams impossible.  He bought me a Vitamix Professional Series 750.

[Insert double rainbow, bursts of sparkly confetti, and happy dance music.]

Clearly, I don’t deserve this remarkable, uber-powerful, uber-expensive blender of good health and well-being that makes frozen mixed berry sherbet and hot cream of asparagus soup with the flip of a switch.  Wait!  My dog died and I got cancer on my face.  I do deserve it.  I do!

This brand new, totally gorgeous, brushed stainless steel Vitamix will completely transform my life, and because we’re all connected, it will reverberate around the globe.  In fact, the entire universe will be transformed by my new blender mega-magic-mixing-machine.

blender

Note to self: Gut and renovate entire kitchen to match stunning mixing contraption.  

12/26, 8:45 a.m.

Must purchase buckets of organic fruits and vegetables and immediately mix up amazing smoothies that will change world (and remove Hanukkah Thanksgiving Christmas bloat).

12/26, 9:40 a.m.

Smoothie made with pineapple, apple, grapes, orange, cucumber (a vegetable!), and carrots (another vegetable!) is divine.  New house rule: Everyone must try every smoothie!

I taste it.  It’s delicious!  Husband tastes it.  It’s heavenly!  We immediately look years younger and ooze vibrance.

Seven-year-old picky eater tastes it.  He actually tastes it!  Then he heaves and spits it all out in his hand.  Upon witnessing this gross act, four-year-old little brother bolts to patio and hides under table.

Note to self: Never let a picky eater taste new food first.

12/27, 8:15 a.m.

Will make homemade peanut butter and it will be brilliant!  There will be no preservatives, oils, or sugars.  Everyone will go nuts (pun intended!), and we’ll never have to buy store bought peanut butter again.  Will save tons of money, which is good thing, because mega-magic-mixing-machine cost more than small car.   Gaa!

12/28, 11:37 a.m.

Picky eater consumes a spoonful of luscious, homemade peanut butter and gives thumbs up.  Vitamix will transform our lives.  Investment will pay off in mere weeks months years!

12/28, 12:02 p.m.

After eating one bite of homemade peanut butter sandwich, picky eater proclaims, “It tastes weird.” Begs for store-bought peanut butter instead.  Bugger.

12/28, 3:30 p.m.

Will eventually convince children to love homemade mega-magic-mixing-machine peanut butter, but in meantime, have just whipped up the most delicious kale and basil pesto.  Literally just whipped it up!  Cannot believe how frangrant and green and delightful it is.  Dinner is perfection.  Should be photographed for glossy foodie magazine.

12/29, 7:45 a.m.

Orange, pineapple, and apple smoothie to start day.  It’s marvelous.  Picky eater tastes and likes it, but won’t drink it.  Confusing little bugger.  Little brother hides again, but takes pride (under table) in that he pressed the “start” button on mega-magic-mixing-machine.

12/29, 10:30 a.m.

Have marvelous idea!  Will bake peanut butter cookies using freshly made peanut butter that no one will eat.

12/29, 11:45 a.m.

Cookies turn out amazing.  Husband says, “You made my day.”  While licking cookie dough from bowl, little one proclaims, “I like peanut butter now!”  Picky eater licks one freshly baked, warm cookie and says, “It tastes weird.”

12/29, 11:46 a.m.

Will not be discouraged!

12/30, 7:48 a.m.

As New Year approaches, must make list of to-die-for mega-magic-mixing-machine recipes to mark a glorious future of health, well-being, skinny jeans, and smooth skin.

1. Garden green smoothie

2. Triple berry smoothie

3. Apple pie smoothie

4. Spinach and feta hummus

5. Cucumber and mint dip

6. Zucchini burgers

7. Black bean burgers

8.Gazpacho

9. Strawberry white chocolate milkshakes  (kids will love…I think!)

10. Whole fruit margarita (I will love…I know!)

12/30, 8:03 a.m.

Musn’t forget to make resolutions for 2014.  Gaa!

1. Read more.

2. Blend more.

3. Think about sad, thinky stuff less.

12/30, 8:14 a.m.

Read (more), blend (more), think (less) transformation in full force.  Year ahead will be stellar all due to being totally and completely mad about the blender.

***

p.s. Thank you, Bridget Jones, for your friendship, distraction, and inspiration.

p.p.s. Thank you, Mike, for giving me the best Christmas gift ever.

p.p.p.s. Thank you, Vitamix, for giving me something to do besides wallow and think…and think and think and think (and for having the ability to self-clean with the flip of a switch).

p.p.p.p.s Thank you, dear friends and readers, for indulging my desire to tell you a story about a blender.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Filed under anxiety, books, Christmas, cooking, depression, food, toys

Mama of the Year

I did something remarkable yesterday afternoon.  I’m talking Mama of the Year worthy.  (One could argue that I should’ve done it a long time ago, but this is neither the time nor the place.  Especially not when I’m in the middle of bragging about it.)

You’re not going to believe what I did.  Seriously.  I can hardly believe it myself.  Ready?  I took the boys to our local public library to get their very own library cards.

Oh yes I did!

My mother, a reference librarian, should be particularly proud. I stress the word “should” since I waited so damn long to do it.  Is there a word to describe the act of feeling simultaneously pleased and disappointed?  In my defense, Dylan chewed books when he was a toddler, so going to the library seemed irresponsible.  Since he’s almost seven now, this is probably a good time to shut up.

Any-who…

I marked the momentous occasion with proof pictures.

library1

library4

Writing their names on their library cards!

Hang on a minute.  They got library cards and practiced their fine motor skills?  I need to pat myself on the back.  (Again.)

After checking out a few books, having a teachable moment about how we buy at the store and borrow at the library (a foreign concept for my mini shopaholics), and pooping in the library bathroom (we poop everywhere), we set our sights on the playground across the street.  It, too, was an opportunity to flex my Mama muscles.  I don’t mean to brag again, but I pushed the kids on the swings.  Both of them.  (True story.  I swear.)

And I’m not nearly done.  After our jaunt at the park, I had big – huge – dinner plans.  No leftover macaroni & cheese or frozen chicken nuggets nuked in the microwave for my brood.  (Not last night, anyway.)  No, I had my sights set on a Cooking Light recipe for hummus and brown rice fritters.  You heard me right.  Fritters.  Made with hummus and brown rice.  For realz.

The recipe, by the way, required me to dust off the Cuisinart.

cuisinart

No problem.  Not for this Mama of the Year nominee.  It took a few batches to get them perfectly golden, but I did it.

fritter2

Almost.

fritter1

Ah, just right.  Of course.

Don’t hate me.  No really, don’t.

Dylan tried the fritter* and then immediately gagged in his hands.  Riley liked them until he saw his brother regurgitating, after which he tossed his fritter across the table.  Perhaps I did a little bit too much tooting of my horn, if you know what I mean.  As Dylan often says, no one likes a bragger, which is probably why the evening spiraled into a whining, crying, gagging, fritter hurling, and wine-drinking (me not them) event.

Sigh.

But we did get library cards.

library3

library2

And even though no one ate a fritter (except me**), no one ate a book either.  I guess we can call it a draw.

*Humor and heaving aside, Dylan took a big bite of a new food without hesitation.  Anyone who’s followed our food journey can understand that this was a big deal and a positive step.  I may not be worthy of accolades (as if), but I’m one Proud Mama.  

**The fritters were delicious.  A yummy, easy to prepare, protein-rich, and kid friendly meal idea.  (For someone else’s kids.)

Submit your Mama of the Year nominations in the comments.

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Filed under books, cooking, food issues, Gloating Mama, motherhood, parenting, Proud Mama, public bathrooms, recipe, shopping

Bingo

I’m back!  Mike and I successfully escaped (ran away?) for five days and five nights.  We treated ourselves to a Caribbean cruise to mark a successful decade of marriage.  It felt incredibly indulgent, but I reminded myself over and over again that we deserved it.  We earned it.  We needed it.  Last Monday morning, I abandoned my to do list at home for a to do list at sea.  Here’s what I accomplished while we were away:

I read 2 books in 4 days. If this were a Runaway Mama word problem, the answer would be: Hallelujah!

I spent time with my husband.  What a concept!  We even talked about stuff other than our kids.  Crazy!

I took the stairs.  As much as possible.  Elevators are for chumps…and for parents with strollers, which thankfully wasn’t me!  Speaking of which…

I missed my boys because I love them enough to eat them whole, but not enough to wish they were there. No way. I watched the Mamas and Daddies on the pool deck with their little ducklings and they looked exhausted. I got tired watching them (when I wasn’t busy reading one of my books).

I didn’t use the hand sanitizer.  No matter how much pressure there was at every entrance to every dining room, every theater, and every lounge.  Allergic Mama!  Seriously, I’m allergic to propylene glycol and a laundry list of other chemicals that are difficult to spell (and thus aren’t listed here) and are in many skin products, including hand sanitizer.  Sigh.  My protest wasn’t because I aspired to take down the entire cruise ship with my germy hands; rather, it was because I didn’t want to have to search for a cortisone shot at sea…or in Jamaica (dear God).

I didn’t watch the news (mostly).  I’m a news junkie, so this was a good thing.  If I’d been home all week reading about and watching coverage of Sandy Hook funerals, I would’ve been a hot mess.  Funny, though, even in the middle of the ocean with limited access to the Internet and TV, it came up in conversation.  A lot.

I said goodbye to IBS…temporarily.  (Editor’s note: I once vowed to speak of digestion – especially mine – if, and only if, it was relevant to the story.)  As soon as the carpool lines, lunch boxes to pack, gifts to wrap, teeth to brush, homework to decipher, dishes to clean, bills to pay, whining to endure, groceries to buy, and cars to clean (I could go on and on here) faded into the distance, my perpetual digestive discomfort totally and completely disappeared.  Until the day before we came home.  Interesting.

I cruised, therefore I “bingo-d” (therefore I wasted a lot of money).  I played bingo with a glass of Chardonnay every afternoon on the ship.

cruise2

Those are my very unlucky bingo cards.  I remember playing and winning Bingo on previous cruises, so my misfortune this time was difficult to handle.  This one kid, Aidan (I’ve changed Adam’s – oops – Aidan’s name for security), won Bingo, like, every day. On Thursday, he won twice in one session. After his second win, no one cheered or clapped.  We all kind of wished he’d graciously pass on his second win (over $180!) so someone else could have a bleeping chance, but we all really just wished we were Adam Aidan.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures. Surprise, surprise.  But the few we took are evidence that we really, truly got away.

Free at last!

Free at last!  Glass of wine in right hand!

That's me impersonating Dylan's swagger.

That’s me impersonating Dylan’s swagger.

JT & MT

We took a picture just like this about a dozen years ago.  It felt good to recreate it.

We’re home now. The boys were fine without us for 120 hours, my parents are (exhausted) angels, and Christmas Eve is upon us.  There are presents to wrap, food to cook, and cookies to bake. On top of that, the house is a mess, laundry is backed up, and my tummy hurts again.  But, I’m a Grateful, Fortunate, Happy (Tired) Mama for the great gifts in my life – my kids, my husband, my family, my friends, and my tan.  The best way to describe the feeling is that it’s a lot like…winning bingo.

Despite these blessings, I have a new and unfortunate health crisis to tend with. I have a really bad case of PVSD. You can read all about it here.

Merry Christmas Eve!

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Filed under books, Christmas, fortunate mama, Grateful Mama, Happy Mama, math, Tired Mama, vacation