Wednesday, January 30, 2008

To Market, To Market...

Today was Annie's first field trip. I chaperoned a bunch of kids to a local Kroger- where we watched a pastry chef make a dinosaur out of a cupcake, watched pineapples being unloaded, touched a lobster,(I got all the kids to start calling him "Bisque") stood in a huge fridge of milk and trekked upstairs for some orange juice and chocolate chip cookies. The kids collected money all year long- and we splurged on canned goods for the local food bank. Annie's favorite part? Paying at the self- checkout. She loved pressing the buttons, scanning her cans and bagging her goods. The kid is a natural born shopper. I did have to laugh at another mommy chaperone. In addition to her canned goods, she had kids ringing her up some laundry detergent, toilet paper and other various sundries. I guess she figured she might as well multi-task while going on a field trip.

The weather was decent today (although windy) so I took the kids to the park and ran them down. Lots of red light/green light and freeze tag- and they went to bed happy, tired campers. Tomorrow, a new phase of my life begins. I officially become a soccer mom. God help me.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Food For Thought

Matt told me tonight that I may have to accompany him on a few second interviews. This puts me in a bit of a tailspin, because I've been out of practice for so long, that I may reach over and cut someone else's meat for them at dinner. I'm now trying to figure out what to wear--- and think I may do an Eileen Fisher ballet dress with a pair of black boots. Understated, but a cool hemline, and I can get kind of funky with a necklace.

I have to brush up on my social graces. My last gig was at a software company- where sexual harassment was so de rigeur that you just joined ranks and laughed it off. One of my bosses jokingly suggested during one of my reviews that I should remember what Monica Lewinsky did to secure a good raise. I joked back that Bill had more hair than this individual, and didn't give it another thought.

However, I did become somewhat infamous for my social gaffes. One dinner with prospective clients was particularly painful. We were all studying the menu, and I mentioned that I might try the pork tenderloin. This led into a discussion on various dishes, and I innocently mentioned, "The best pork I ever had was on my honeymoon." After the client cleaned up the wine that came spitting through his nose, I sputtered out an explanation that it was at Roy's in Hawaii. Classy.

Maybe I better stick with a vegetarian dish for this outing.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happily Ever After

I just finished watching the movie "27 dresses" with a couple of my girlfriends. I think the last time I was in a movie theatre to see something that didn't have singing Chipmunks, a green ogre or a talking spider in it was over 2 years ago. At the "end" of my career as a product manager and pregnancy with Lucy- a friend and I played hooky one afternoon and ditched work to watch Johnny Depp star as Willy Wonka.

27 Dresses was really, really cute. And it was something my husband would have hated. H-A-T-E-D. I loved her apartment in this movie--- and her clothes, and her hairstyles, and her cool job with the hottie boss. Why is it movies don't ever start AFTER the couple falls in love and gets married? Why don't they show the wife wearing mens flannel pajamas to bed? Why doesn't the husband ever fart along to songs on American Idol? Why don't they ever show a couple in bed, with 2 little kids sandwiched in between them, pulling hair and kicking?

Because that's too much reality for a popcorn snacking moviegoer to handle? Me thinks so.

Mean Girls

Well, it's started. Last summer, a friend with older girls told me that the "Mean Girls Syndrome" starts around age 4. This is where girls suddenly realize the power of "not including" others and things can turn nasty. Birthday parties become displays of manipulative powers, and playdates can be tricky. Our little Friday playgroup has been chugging along, but we've all noticed a change of events to the kids' dynamic.

Yesterday, it was our turn to host. Annie was coming off a rough day at school- she got into it with another kid because both of them wanted to "sit on the Letter O" during a rainy day recess. So, after coming home- I firmly told her that she needed to be a good host, share her toys and avoid pushing her friends. I didn't even think to mention sisters. So, about 10 minutes into playgroup, with everyone dressed in their best princess finery, Annie turns around to her little sister, pushes her down and says "You can't play- this is only for big girls."

Annie then got a taste of the action after 2 of her friends barred her from entering her clubhouse, and told her "she couldn't play with them." Then Lucy finally found someone of a smaller stature (18 month old Charlotte) to go push and boss around.

Did you know they make a wine called "Mommy's Time Out?" It's not bad.... not bad at all.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Baby Love

I got to talk to my sister-in-law for a long time today. She lives in Los Angeles, and four months ago, she gave birth to my niece Aden, who was so excited to join our family, she wanted to come 12 weeks early. Aden stayed at the NICU in Cedars Sinai, so my family was there when Dennis Quaid's kids were overdosed, and my sister-in-law frequently saw celebs going in and out (she bumped into Matt Damon!).

Aden is home now- with her mommy and daddy, and it was the coolest thing to chat with them today. There's something so special about bringing home your first child.... not only is everything new to them- but to you as well. It's so innocent- those first few months you are a mom. And it was refreshing to hear my sister-in-law ask me the same questions I wondered about, and have the same fears that used to keep me up at night. In the background, I could hear my niece cooing- and I finally said to her "isn't is so cool--- now that you guys are a family?"

Then we joked about what it's like to bring home baby number two. Gone are the days of the pristine nursery, the brand new toys and clothes- and the 2 anxious, adoring parents hovering over every move. One of my girlfriends does a wicked impersonation of me- post-partum with Lucy. She pretends she has a baby hanging off of one breast, and then slaps her knees and sings an off kilter tune of "She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain."

Because, folks- that was me. Lucy liked to chomp on the boobs 24-7, and Annie was not yet 2 and freaking out- and the only thing that calmed her down were Dolly Parton lullabies. Add in a visual image of boobs that looked like deflated tube socks, and another inner tube around my middle, and bags so big under my eyes that they wouldn't fit in the overhead compartment and it would serve as serious birth control for anyone thinking of having another kid. Ah yes, those were the days.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

For Sale

So, we're selling our house. We signed the contracts yesterday, and then Matt and I had seller's remorse when we watched San Diego on American Idol last night. We bought this house in November of 1999. It's our first and only house we have ever owned. It's in a great neighborhood, but looked like a veritable crack den when we signed the papers. It didn't have a working heater our first winter, and I remember trolling the aisles of the open-24 hour Home Depot at 11pm just to get warm.

Through our seven years of living there, we touched every room of that house. We installed skylights, painted everything we could get our hands on, put on a new roof- and right before Annie was born, and even after she was- we gutted the kitchen and family room and installed a mac-Daddy set-up that still brings tears to my eyes.

I brought both of my babies home to that house. My Grandfather was still alive right after I bought it, and I remember him giving me advice on the phone. Our families moved us in, and we christened the house (with no furniture) with a Thanksgiving dinner lit by candles- and one lonnng table with our whole family around it.

Matt threw me a 30th birthday party there- complete with lemon drops and karaoke until 2am. We had Annie's first and second birthday parties there- lots of Thanksgivings with our families and dinner parties galore. It's a great little house- and it did a great job of teaching Matt and I how to be more responsible, and transition us from our frivolous twenties into somewhat responsible adults (that are now capable of caring for 2 little ones). I will miss you, sweet home- but something tells me I will miss your fixed mortgage at 5.25% even more.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I Do Not Make This Stuff Up

Matt gets paged in the middle of dinner, and starts complaining about nurses.

"Lucy- don't become a nurse when you grow up," he says. "You should become a doctor."

My two year old emphatically shakes her head from side to side and says:

"No Daddy. Doctors are Gross! And Broke."

I think I spit Chardonnay out of my nose. (I think she meant to talk about the ick factor of fixing broken things, but this was much funnier... and much more honest).


Grumpiness lingers on- now attributed to the beginnings of a cold that is slowly making its way through our household. Usually my days fly by- but today--- today was one of those rare gems that creeped along. Today, I was shocked when the clock only read 1:30pm- I thought for sure it was more like 5ish. It FELT more like 5ish- especially with 2 little ones that can't go outside because it is too rainy and wet, and have been fighting since 6:30 in the morning.

So I started day dreaming. Day dreaming about how I will celebrate my 40th birthday in 5 years. I've told Matt for years that I will go to Patricia Wells' cooking school in Provence- and spend a week smelling lavender, eating some stinky cheese and drinking obscene amounts of wine. Today, I read in her latest book that her students get to cook on JULIA CHILDS' old stove in her newly renovated outdoor kitchen. How F*cking cool is that? Apparently, she was old pals with Julia, and when Julia was closing up her France house- she offered her stove to Patricia. I would so love to make some Jiffy Pop on that thing.

I overheard Annie watching "The Barefoot Contessa" on the food network today. Ina Garten was making a lemon curd tart-and I overheard Annie mumble to herself, "Jeezermereeze! That's a lot of butter." I think she's been doing too many pilates Dvds with me lately....

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I'm in a bad mood today. It may have something to do with my little four year old suddenly developing a middle-of-the-night fear of being in her own bed. She's been camping out with us, every night-for the last month or so. I've tried putting her back in her bed, only to have her tap me on the shoulder an hour later. We figured out the problem. Our house has no insulation, and the girls' room is C-O-L-D. She's honestly freezing, which warmed my hardened heart at 2am. So as of late, you can find me, perched on the edge of our teeny tiny queen sized bed, wrestling covers and fighting over a pillow with my daughter.

Matt got so fed up one night, he headed off to Annie's bed. Lucy woke up in the middle of the night, saw the slumbering Matt and proceeded to royally freak out. I heard shrieks and then screams of "MOMMMY! THERE'S A MONSTER IN ANNIE'S BED! A MONSTER! A MONSTER!" It didn't help matters when the "monster" kept trying to tell her "It's just me, Lucy. It's just me." She had no idea who "me" was, but didn't like his hairy chest and buffalo checked pajama bottoms. (Did I already tell you this story? I'm growing old in my senile years- and am also too lazy to check. Let's just pretend we're at a cocktail party and you can nod your head sympathetically and then casually make your way to the bar for another drink... shall we?)

Even if we move to the snow, any house has to be warmer than this one. I'm convinced this rental house knows we are leaving, and is turning on us. Brand new recessed light bulbs are burning out all over the place, ceiling fans are stopping for no reason, drafts are appearing in window cracks- it's like the house is being passive aggressive.

I think I will go pop some chocolate chip walnut cookies in the oven and try and turn this around....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

Whew! Matt just finished a world-wind tour of interviews- and we haven't seen him in over a week. He popped home once- at 1:30am, and took off for his next flight at 5am the next morning. The girls thought they were dreaming when he came in to kiss them goodnight.

We really miss him when he's away---- and it's not just that he's the only one that brushes Lucy's teeth the "right" way, or that he does the dishes after I cook, or that he reads a mean storytime- but we MISS him. When he comes through the door at night- he's a breath of fresh air- a purveyor of new jokes, a guy who is usually up for a game of "smell my feet and tickle me until I need a new diaper" right at the moment when I'm drooping, and waning and struggling to make it through the day. He's the yin to my yang, y'all.

This week was hard on the girls. My Lucy- who is usually so mild mannered and even tempered, took a Crayola twistable and drew all over the mirror of my 1890 burled walnut armoire. After ensuring that "no, I was not having a heart attack" I popped this little stinker in a time out. When we both recovered, I calmly asked her if there was something she wanted to say. She emphatically nodded her head and (expecting to hear a little "I'm sorry,") I leaned forward in anticipation to hear her whisper:

"I want my Daddy."

Well spoken little one. I do too.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Should Know Better..

than to try and run errands with the kids right after school. They love to go to the bank- seriously!- mainly because my bank has dedicated 30% of their floorspace to a toy filled area of fun. And they give the kids gummy bears. Who wouldn't want to go?

I'm waiting in line, ready to do my thing, and my little ones run over to the toy area. Some poor loan officer has her desk directly next to the Nintendo game station- and she starts talking to Annie. After saying hello, Annie says, "Nice to meet you! Now go get your work done!" The crowd erupts in laughter and I shrink down and pretend I don't know her.

Something must have given me away though--- maybe it was Annie's shrieks of denial as I grabbed their hands and made a quick exit. They are both sleeping now..... I better go get my work done.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Whole Grain Fun

Remember when I told you about Matt's group of college buddies that are now obsessed with oatmeal? They were all supposed to order free samples, but one silly List member ordered THREE HUGE bags of Coach's oats. He sent Matt an email diary of his oatmeal experience, and it was so funny, that I'm posting it here.

The Coach's Oat Diet Journal
by our dearly beloved friend, Doogles.

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 1:

They arrived today. Four three pound bags.

And so it begins.

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 1: Addendum.

Made my first bowl. Stovetop method. One cup water. 1/3 cup Coach's Oats. One tablespoon organic brown sugar. One pat cholesterol reducing butter substitute. Ready in ten minutes (start to finish). Verdict: Delicious!

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 2:

My second Coach's Oats breakfast. I am pleased with my purchase.


Coach's Oats Diet – Day 6: Decision day.

My wife is annoyed. The cupboard needs space. I have no choice: Coach's Oats from here on out.

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 6: Addendum.

I think over my plan that night. Three meals a day, plus snacks, for four weeks. According to my calculations, this should enable me to consolidate down to three bags.

Yes. If horses can do it, so can I.

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 7: The First Full Day

Breakfast and lunch: good. Made an extra large helping for dinner. Mistake. Got cold on me. Stuck in my throat. Stay with standard serving. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Don't be a hero.

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 8:

Back to basics. Breakfast okay, a little bland. Moderate after-effects from last night. Decided not to add extra sugar or butter. Mixed it up and put some salt in at lunch time. Makes all the difference in the world. Add to standard recipe (and reduce butter substitute). Dinner: cravings for something else strong, but not insurmountable with new salty recipe.

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 11:

The character of my bowel movements has changed dramatically.

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 12: The Argument.

"Why don't you give one of the bags to [your friend] Josh?" she said.

"Because they're special order and anyway I don't want to. And we'll be down to three bags in no time."

"Yes but it's kind of annoying seeing you eat nothing but oatmeal."

"Coach's Oats."

"Yeah, jeez, whatever, okay, I'm done."

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 12:

Nothing but oatmeal. Nothing but oatmeal. I couldn't get her words out of my head.

Eating my three bowls today was difficult. Resorted to microwave reheating on a couple of occasions.

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 13:

Got to try to distract myself now. Get my mind onto other things. Stop thinking about the next bowl.

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 15:

Eating it. Pooping it. Eating it. Pooping it.

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 16:

My wife has me sleeping on the couch. Farts.

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 17:

A difficult day. Fought a rising gorge at every turn. The last bites are the hardest.

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 18:

A moment of Zen today. Almost vomited on waking, just thinking about breakfast. Then it hit me. Raisins! Raisins!! Granola! Granola!! Additives!!!

Coach's Oats Diet – Day 19: The End.

Oh God, I had Round Table Pizza today for breakfast. So goddamn good. So goddamn good! I am defeated. Defeated by Coach's Oats!

"Uncle," Coach! UNCLE!!

Returned To Sender

Hey Folks-
Something is amiss with Billy's address. It is the same one that has been used successfully, and repeatedly, but for some reason- a few pieces of mail are being returned. We are trying to get to the bottom of it- but rest assured, Billy is doing great- (today is his birthday!) and it is so awesome of so many of you to take the time out to brighten his day. We are asking for an alternate hold tight.

You guys are so awesome.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Old School

The other day, Matt and I were rehashing our trip to Arizona when he remarked, "You know, your parents are getting kind of old." I've always thought of my parents as young--- yes, they have 3 kids and the oldest is (hah hah older brother) 38- but I've always known them to be spunky and good for some fun. After Matt said this, I got to thinking...

They did seem to spend an awful lot of time sitting at the kitchen table, in hard backed chairs, reading books. This is definitely an old thing to do. My Dad also napped- A LOT. When he wasn't lolling about in hard backed hairs he was deep asleep on the living room couch. We would check him to make sure he was still breathing.

My Mom told me a story about how one of the waitresses at her country club got in trouble for approaching a table full of ladies and saying "So, guys, what's it gonna be today?" I kept waiting for the punchline, where my Mom would make fun of somebody that would ACTUALLY complain about this- only to realize, she had joined the dark side of grumpy old ladies that like to be called Mrs. XYZ when someone takes their order. Holy cow- she's not that far off from wearing pantyhose with her sandals.

My Dad told me he likes to "get up early- around 4:30am, so I have an hour or so to relax." I don't really understand this- what's MORE relaxing than sleeping? He's setting his alarm to get up and relax? Soon he'll be yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Stomach Trouble

Today is a glorious day--- my kids finally returned to school after the universe's longest winter break. It was comforting to see the other haggard, drooling mothers clutching their little one's hands as they shepherded them into school. I was not the only mother to do a jig in the parking lot after drop off.

With my new freedom, I joined 2 friends at a local pilates class. I've been "doing" pilates at home- with a DVD for a couple of weeks. Nothing, absolutely nothing could have prepared me for what my body experienced today. My DVD is the senior citizen equivalent of justifying putting on your shoes as exercise. Today was the real thing.

Today, my stomach did things I didn't even know it could do. At one point, I just started belly laughing with the ridiculousness of the situation. Then, after I started to laugh, I thought I might puke. I forgot to bring a towel, and I don't have my own mat- so I was a little skeeved out in the beginning of the class about infecting myself with someone else's germs. By the end of the session, my face was mushed into the rubber padding and I was a limp puddle of goo.

This better work.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Lunaesta Anyone?

It's 1:30am, and yours truly, can once again, not sleep. I've given up caffeine, I'm trying to be a more mellow person (trying being the operative word) but this *&^& insomnia is still plaguing me. Want to know what I'm doing?

I'm addicted to Dido's song "Christmas Day." Forget that we're well into January. I love me some Dido holiday angst.

I'm totally blown away that Obama has surged past Clinton in the New Hampshire polls. If you haven't read his "Audacity of Hope" you totally should. Right after you read "Eat Pray Love."

I spent 2 hours outside, in 80 degree weather, washing my car with my kid today. There were suds, grease, giggles and horribly unidentifiable crumbs.

Then, we cleaned out the garage, in homage of "big trash day" tomorrow- and found (count em!) SIX dead Texas tree roaches, laying flat on their backs, awaiting my dustpan. Woohoo exterminator!

I just can't figure out how 3 pilates sessions have not reduced my pot belly into a six pack. How many "hundreds" does a girl gotta do to see me some results?

Despite what everyone else said, I enjoyed the movie "Catch and Release." I'm worried I'm turning into a stereotype of myself. This should continue when Annie starts playing soccer in 2 weeks. I will proudly drive up in my Honda minivan, wearing gap jeans, clutching my Starbucks-nonfat-decaf-nofoam-sugarfree-vanilla-latte and dying a little on the inside. I will miss the Saturday mornings spent in our jammies.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Cuts Like a Knife

A few years ago, pre-kids, I started taking cooking classes. With a few girlfriends at my work, we would meet in the home ec room of our local high school, drink some wine and cook up something tasty. It was loads of fun- and introduced me to the fun of cooking. Prior to these classes, I had never used a kitchenaid mixer, wrapped fish in parchment paper, knew what tapenade was, made an apple tatin or tasted quinoa. Matt loved my new interest- not only did he get to benefit by tasting my new hobby, it provided him an easy outlet for gift giving.

Matt is an awesome gift giver. He agonizes over it- usually waits until the last minute, and is always afraid I'm going to hate it. I never do. What I love most about his gift giving strategy- is that he usually listens to some offhand remark I'll make in July, and then remember it for a present in December. All a girl wants is to know she's being listened to. One year, he blew our entire Christmas budget on a painting- it was a painting I used to "visit" in the window of a Laguna Beach gallery, and it brought a little California sunshine to a New York city winter. 12 years ago, he gave me my engagement ring- on Christmas morning, at my folks' house. I still drink my morning coffee out of a purple coffee mug he bought me in college 15 years ago. So, he's set the bar pretty high, and this year was no exception.

We've made new friends in Texas, and their family is a bunch of professional chefs. Matt and I are obsessed with Top Chef, and all things chef-related, so we're constantly quizzing them about what it's like to grow up running a restaurant. I've been begging them to teach me the proper way to cut an onion.

Fast forward to this Christmas, and my hubby proudly bestowed me with a knife skills class at a local cooking school and 2 awesome Japanese Shun knives. Today, the family dropped me off at "school" and I finally learned the proper way to cut an onion, dice a tomato, use a mandoline, make oblique cuts on a carrot and fan strawberries. I was in heaven, and better yet- I only needed one bandaid. Matt's not touching these babies until our student loans are paid off.

Seasonal Allergies

Americans do things to the umpteenth degree. If it's the holidays, then by golly, we're going to celebrate- until it almost kills us. The excess- oh the excess- of music, decorations (up before Halloween!) and the food.... the food. Cookie exchanges, work parties, secret Santas, not to mention surviving your own family get together by stuffing your face full. (Did anyone else make the chocolate cream pie on the December cover of Bon Appetit? Oh mes amis, this thing truly rocked).

And then, the calendar turns. January. We swing the other way. Serious dieting. Serious budgeting. Radio stations that used to play holiday music are now touting weight loss pills and credit management. Organizing your closet, cleaning out your car and toning your tummy are the segments I saw on this morning's local news. I actually tried to convince myself that I could see progress in my newly burgeoning pot belly from 2 measly pilates classes. Delusions, I tell you. They can be a dangerous thing.

Only 3.5 more weeks of January, and then we can all focus on being in love- not being in love- am I in love? Hopefully by that point, I can love my pot belly a little less.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Chewing the Fat

Wow. Did you guys see the news about Britney Spears being under a 72 hour lockdown at a hospital? Every morning, when I see the news about her recent developments- I can't help but wonder- what the hell happened to her? She's like something out of a Jackie Collins novel.... and shows the nasty side of fame and fortune. Yesterday at Target, Annie found some Hannah Montana piece-of-crap and was begging me for it, and I had to stop and think "is Hannah preggers? Does she take drugs? Does she dress like a stripper?" Luckily, I was able to distract her with some 75% off Winnie the Pooh stuff.

It just goes to show how crazy Hollywood is. Britney is under a 72-hour evaluation for refusing to give her kid to her husband. She willingly locked herself in a bathroom with her kid, and wouldn't give him up. On the other hand, I have not been alone in a bathroom for 4 years, and would welcome a 72 hour stay at Cedars Sinai as a welcome respite. Hollywood, you silly fools.

In other news, I'm down 1.6 lbs from my holiday fat fest, and I've become completely obsessed with sparkpeople. I love, love entering in what I eat- and having it calculate out for me the rest of my daily intake. Who the hell knew that an innocent salami sandwich for lunch could give you the daily fat intake of a small village?

We're not too good at calculating that stuff, folks. The other night, Matt and I were talking about what to have for dinner- and he suggests:
"How about that nice light salad- the one with the tomato and basil?"
I reply with a guffaw of laughter:
"You mean a caprese salad? THAT'S 1LB OF CHEESE!"
Sigh. We've got some work to do.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cleaning Up

It's January. I love January. As a kid, it's really the worst month of all- but as an adult- after all of the wrapping paper, decorations, holiday food, disrupted sleep schedules, party after party and gobs of cloying music- it's nice to take a deep breath and enjoy the simplicity of the new year.

We had a quick playdate this morning, then headed home to restore peace and order to our trashed house. This will take some time- and I've only got a few months before my garbage starts going in boxes, so I have to get a move on (pardon the pun).

I'm getting myself back in order too--- I've got a friend joining me for pilates next Wednesday, and I'm heading off to the gym this afternoon. I'm even toying with the idea of joining Weight Watchers (which Matt, if you're reading this- I know you think is a waste of money) but 2 of my friends this morning absolutely swear by it, and want me to join them. We'll see.

In any event- I wish you the happiest, and healthiest of new years- can you frickin' believe it's 2008 already? Mind blowing.