Category Archives: toys

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!

2 Comments

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

Rainbow Loony

We arrived fashionably late to the Rainbow Loom party. I don’t why. Or maybe I do.

TB001

When I saw that all of a sudden everyone wanted one, when I began to notice Mamas buying it in bulk, when the looms were banned from school, and when I began receiving emails from toy stores proclaiming “RAINBOW LOOM BACK IN STOCK! HURRY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!” I wanted more than anything not to have a Rainbow Loom. It should also be noted that it awakened some long-forgotten PTSD symptoms related to the Cabbage Patch Kid invasion of the early to mid 1980s. The lines. The anxiety. The rush. The grabbing. The pushing.

The frenzy.

And then about a month ago, our OT told me how great the loom would be for both boys’ fine motor skills. Yeah, yeah, whatever. And then a few weeks ago, my six-year-old began coming home wearing bracelets that his friends made for him. Aww, how cute. And then a week ago, he said, “Mommy, can I have a Rainbow Loom?” Bugger.

After several days of begging and good behavior (no potty talk for 24 hours!) and after confirming that our local Learning Express had 4,000 looms in stock (WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!), I bought the infamous Rainbow Loom. Actually, I bought two – one for each kid because the thought of them sharing it (i.e. clawing each other’s eyes out over it) was too much to bear.

When we arrived at the toy store, there was a mob of people hovering around an enormous stack of Rainbow Looms. What was the fuss when there were freakin’ 4,000 of them?  Then I looked closer and realized the fuss had nothing to do with the looms. The fuss – the frenzy – was over the rubber bands, the teeny-tiny slingshots that reminded me of the four long years I wore braces…

elastics

Not my mouth…

…and had to be purchased a la carte when the 600 that came with the starter kit ran out, which I naively assumed would take a really long time.

Twistz_Bandz_Package_Turquoise_Large

The whole scene reeked of Cabbage Patch Kids, but the good news was that the starter kit only cost $16.99. Compared to what most piece-of-crap toys cost these days, 17 bucks seemed like a pretty good deal. Oh wait. The rubber band and c-clip refills cost $3.99 per pack, the glow-in-the dark rubber bands cost $4.99 per pack, and I have no idea how much the plastic storage/carrying case cost (PERSONALIZATION AVAILABLE!) because they were OUT OF STOCK! (Thank God.)

After spending a (very) long Memorial Day weekend with the boys’ my new Rainbow Looms, I know a few things for sure:

I’m all in favor of toys that offer a physical, intellectual, and creative challenge, but when a toy requires my constant participation, it earns a spot on my Toys That I Loathe list. The Rainbow Loom, which is geared toward children ages 8+, is difficult for my six-year-old to operate and nearly impossible for my four-year-old to even attempt. Yes, this makes the Rainbow Loom wonderful for their fine motor skills, but it also makes me crucial to the looming process while they develop the strength and coordination to do it on their own. Or not. Why bother if Mommy will do it for us?

On the contrary, being the only human being in the house who can loom a bracelet hasn’t given me any power or leverage. Instead, it’s rendered me a helpless servant. I’ve been propositioned to loom at least a dozen times while sitting on the toilet or handling raw meat, and I’ve been woken up twice before dawn (on the weekend!) by a little person holding a loom and whispering in my ear, “Can you make this bracelet? I’ve been waiting all night.” Really? All night?

While we’re on the subject of ill-timed looming, bracelet making before coffee (a.m.) and before wine (p.m.) should be illegal. Oh, and I should’ve been a surgeon. My hook work is impeccable.

In all honestly, the boys – my older son especially – can do some of the work with a little bit of help. Regrettably, though, “help” is a four-letter word in my house. Me “helping” them loom or them “helping” me loom is about as fun (i.e. infuriating) as letting them “help” me crack eggs.

In addition to my new grueling looming regime, I’ve been ordered to learn how to loom beyond the single pattern bracelet. Yes, my friends, if you want to loom the really cool stuff, you have to watch video tutorials on YouTube or attend in-store workshops (SIGN UP TODAY! CLASS SIZE IS LIMITED! FIRST COME FIRST SERVE!).

Now, as if I don’t have enough crap to hold on to and/or know the whereabouts of, I’m also in charge of keeping track of everyone’s fakakta bracelets. “Where are my bracelets, Mommy?” How the hell do I know!

Speaking of the bracelets, my six-year-old wore at least ten of his my creations to school after the long weekend. When I picked him up at the end of the day, his arm was bare. “What happened to your bracelets?” I asked. “I gave them away,” he said.

He gave them away.

Now we’re back to square one, and we’re dangerously close to running out of the 600 rubber bands that came with the starter kit, which means we’ll need to go back to the toy store and fight the crowds for refills (WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!).

This too shall pass, but, in the meantime, all this looming is making me feel positively loony.

2 Comments

Filed under toys

Toys, Games, and Activities I Loathe (A List!)

I recently accidentally deliberately let half a dozen containers of Play-Doh dry out on the kitchen table so I could throw them out. I know what you’re thinking. The Internet is chock full of instructions on how to revive dried Play-Doh. What you need to understand is that I don’t want to save it. I want it to die dry so I can get rid of it and never have to play with or clean it up again. I don’t appreciate the mess it leaves on every surface and floor in my house or the anxiety it causes when the colors get mixed together and, despite my children’s pleas, can’t be unmixed, which got me thinking about all of the toys, games, and activities my kids force upon me that make me wish I were prepping for a colonoscopy instead.

1. Play-Doh. (See above.)

2. Bubbles. Bubbles are perfectly fine…at someone else’s house. At my house, bubbles make fingers sticky, which make doorknobs, floors, windows, chairs, tables, and refrigerator handles sticky. Bubble machines, wands, and other poorly manufactured bubble instruments always break, and bubble fluid always spills because someone with clumsy little hands wants to do it “all by myself.”

3. Monopoly, including but not limited to, Cars 2 Monopoly, Monopoly Junior, and Star Wars Monopoly. These board games (as well as most others) almost always result in a child quitting and/or walking away with important game pieces and/or crying because he doesn’t win.

4. Any toy smaller than my thumb, including, but not limited to, Squinkies, Zinkies, Drifters, Trashies, Fighter Pods, and Bonkazonks. These teeny tiny toy terrors, which are meant to be collected, end up lost instead only to be found later inside a shoe, the washing machine, the DVD player, a backpack, the tooth brush holder, the trunk of the car, or all of the above. They are manufactured for one reason and one reason only: to drive Mamas crazy.

5. Elefun. This delightful preschool game challenges toddlers to use nets to catch as many colorful butterflies as they can that blow out of a friendly elephant trunk. It’s tons of fun for the whole family…[insert record scratch]…until it’s time for Mama – on her hands and knees – to collect the uncaught butterflies that are scattered all over the floor and put them back inside the elephant and start the merriment all over again. And again. And again. And again. Case closed.

6. Swings. Before I continue, I want to point out that I’m a good Mama. I am. I often say this (or write this) when I’m about to do or say (or write) something that might seem, well, un-motherly. Here goes. I don’t like pushing my kids on the swings. It was okay when they were babies, but by the time they were toddlers, putting them in the swing was less about enjoyment and more about confinement. (FYI: Saving a toddler’s life every 30-45 seconds in an obstacle course of dangerous playground equipment is exhausting.) Now, after six years of Mamahood, I’ve earned the right to sit on a bench while my children push each other on the swings (reason #249 that I birthed more than one child). Would you like me any less if I told you I had a “Don’t ask Mommy to push you on the swings or we go home” rule? Nevermind.

(I’m a good Mama…I’m a good Mama…I’m a good Mama…)

7. Lincoln Logs. Every time the Lincoln Logs come out, I’m instructed to build the log mcmansion featured in the building instructions. Adding more misery to an already dismal predicament, they want to help. By “help” I mean, hinder, thwart, and sabotage. When the Lincoln Logs come out, I answer phone calls from 800 numbers.

8. Video Games. I can’t help it. The mere thought of playing Lego Star Wars for the Xbox makes me want to fold laundry.

9. Paint. My dislike for paint is more about timing than anything else. My children almost always want need to do an art project at or before dawn, when I’m handling raw meat, while I’m chopping onions (and coincidentally already in tears), or I’m in the shower.

10. Puzzles. This one is complicated. I actually like puzzles and am happy to do them with my kids for several hours minutes. That is, until I discover a puzzle piece is missing. Then Obsessive Compulsive Mama takes over and I want to hurl the puzzle out the window because a missing puzzle piece is totally and completely unacceptable.

11. Powered riding toys. Every time one of my kids takes our battery-powered Lightning McQueen for a spin, we lose a sprinkler head.

Ironically, despite my annoyance with extreme dislike loathing of several categories of toys and games, my house is filled to the gills with them. Hmm.

For the record, I love being with my kids. Most of the time. This is starting to sound bad, isn’t it? Please tell me you hate some toys, too. (Please.)

3 Comments

Filed under colonoscopy, games and toys, Guilty Mama, list, Obsessive Compulsive Mama, toys