good Friday

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This is the story of a good Friday. Not Good Friday, just a good Friday.

Noon: Took the guys out for lunch to celebrate the first week of school and to butter them up to go to the grocery store with me. They eat sushi like other kids eat Cheerios- two-fisted, then pointing and grunting for more. What sophisticated little cavemen!

5:00 pm: While making this dinner, I was reminded (don’t really need reminding) of how much I love vegetables. Just love ’em! Look at this picture. It’s so beautiful I should make it my profile picture for every website I use. I would make it my driver’s license picture if I could. It’s called a Vegetable Tian and it’s spectacular.

5:45 pm: Dinner is in the oven so we work on an art project to make an air freshener for my car. When a 4-year-old says your car smells like a skunk, you should take him seriously. ‘Cause he has a lot of experience with things that are skunk-like. It was fun and effective. Just ask the Skunk Detector!

6:15 pm: Still cooking, so time for a little Fun with Wigs. I made this picture of him…

…and then he made this picture of me. Separated at birth? Yes, actually, his.

6:30 pm: Dinner is ready! Look at those gorgeous vegetables. Why aren’t I skinny? Oh yeah, see previous entry about ice cream.

6:35 pm: Husband arrives with flowers for no particular reason other than “just because.” The best thing about receiving these is the thought of his sweet self taking his usual public transportation route home from the city with his backpack and headphones, carrying a dozen roses. I keep replaying that image in my mind. Seems like something I might have snapped a black & white picture of if I saw him from my car. So stinkin’ cute!

Hope you’re having a good Whatever!

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“Excuse me, sir…”

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On Sunday I had the distinct pleasure of being able to walk up to a man I didn’t know in Wegman’s with this very serious inquiry: “Excuse me, Sir, do you have Schweddy Balls?”  His quick reply was “Yes, I do!”, and much to my delight, he led me there. Thank goodness, because I had looked high and low for them!

I am a connoisseur of the double entendre. I live for it, seriously. Luckily, I also live with a man who rivals my passion for teenage boy-type humor and we live a pretty tickled existence. Ben & Jerry’s just came out with a “Schweddy Balls” ice cream flavor which unfortunately isn’t actually as good as it sounds. Based on a classic, fantastic skit with Alec Baldwin on Saturday Night Live, Schweddy Balls is a reference to his character’s family recipe. Love it, love it, love it! Unfortunately the ice cream didn’t do it for me, but I think I may be alone on this one. Maybe because it’s ice cream and was actually a bit too…creamy. The first ingredient is cream. Cream! Kind of grosses me out to think about it, but not so much that I didn’t eat it. It also had malt balls in it which make me feel like I’m eating chalk nuggets, so all in all this was not the place I wanted to waste calories.

Right after making this picture, I left it on the counter and walked away… for 3 hours. Came back to warm, melted schweddy balls and had no choice but to finish them off.

It was okay, but I wouldn’t buy it again because I’m waiting on the Dusty Muffin.

Good Times…

Desperately Seeking Supermom

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I’m trying here. I’m really trying. But there are a lot of things in the way of my success and efficiency. Like….well….I guess actually I am the only thing in my way. I get in my own way a lot. Like right now, for instance. Pile of mail to my left, dishes to my right, toys behind me, disappointed dog at my feet, laundry downstairs and yet I sit, typing. Does typing accomplish anything when its not done to, say, appeal for help with your charity or write a speech for the President? It’s helping me, and that’s all that matters at this very moment. (So deliciously selfish! I can hardly stand it! I’ll take seconds, please!)

School started this week, and all moms gave a collective sigh of relief. (Can I get a “Word!”?) It’s been a month since camp ended and I have been at my Fake-Supermom best. We’ve traveled, we’ve talked, we’ve cooked and we’ve baked, we’ve done science experiments, we’ve read, read, read. We’ve crafted and created and, throwing germ-phobia to the wind, we’ve even been to Chuck E. Cheese. But I have to admit, by the first week of September, even I was out of ideas. E needed structure and I needed to go to the grocery store without an entourage.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a mom “super”. Back when I had The Business, other moms used to say really nice, flattering things about me being Supermom. What an embarrassing compliment to take when you feel like a ginormous mess on the inside, just trying to get your kid to school on time and not fumble your infant on the way. Now being on the other side of the Major Fail that was The Business, I guess I see what they were talking about. All moms have something that other moms admire. Case in point: After feeling pretty good about myself for spending an afternoon making homemade crayons with E, I had dinner with a girlfriend who has a PhD in Child Psychology or some other major that had to do with knowing how to speak to children without acting like a child yourself. Well crap. She might not have made any crayons that day, but you can sure bet she wasn’t screaming at her 4 year old to “have more patience!” that morning. Oh, the irony!

Would Supermom have to put herself in time-out to keep from smashing her own head into a wall a la The Situation? Would Supermom’s kid have to miss karate practice because she couldn’t get it together in time? Would Supermom have let her baby accidentally take a big swig of her Iced Chai Latte because she was holding him and the cup in the same arm? Would Supermom write a blog when she should be writing a grocery list? Negative to all of the above. None of these things warrant a call to DFACS, but they also won’t win a Mom of the Year award, either. I definitely don’t deserve the title, but I will always strive for it. If this were my old “paid” job, mediocrity wouldn’t fly. Neither would being late, wearing junky clothes or not straightening my hair (my rule, not theirs). I wouldn’t yell at the clients, I wouldn’t spend an hour on the phone with a friend, and I wouldn’t play loud and offensive rap music just because I thought no one was listening. (Well, actually I used to do that one a lot.) I am not SUPER but I think I am really good. In E’s karate class they are asked every day how they are doing and they like them to say “Good and getting better, Sir!”,  so I’m making that a personal motto. I’m good, and I’m only going to get better… Sir!

So I guess it’s time to get back to my version of responsibility and start working on Halloween crafts and goodies. We already started the other day by crafting mummy candle holders out of spaghetti sauce jars, cheesecloth and googly eyes. So cute! So fun! So early! Now on to those magnificent fall goodies… everything will have pumpkin in it. I eat pumpkin the way other people eat chicken. It goes with everything and my world starts turning orange right about… now.

Congrats on whatever makes you SUPER.

Sincerely, a super mom

Just a boy…in a cape

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E loves a superhero as much as any kid, so this past Spring I used my sick glue gun skillz to put together a Batman cape any 4-year-old would be delighted to wear. Or at least they better. I did invest $10 and an entire hour in this. Seeing how it turned out so well (IMHO), I quickly banged out another one in pink with some razzle-dazzle on it this time for a little girlfriend of his turning 4. We don’t know much about princesses around here, but a princess can be a SuperPrincess, right?

This photo says “Fabulous!” Peep the shoes. Do you think the actual Batman knows that he could have been fighting crime in this stylish ensemble the entire time? Instead of squeezing himself into that unitard every night, he could have just cruised the streets around Gotham in a plaid RL shirt, navy cargo shorts and signature Batman Crocs? It would have given him the suburban street cred he’s been missing all along.

This is a serious man. Do not get in his way. He’s got a pocket full of trail mix and he’s not afraid to use it. If you see him, do not look straight into his eyes, lest you be pierced by his gaze.

So, a few months later a costume is needed for “Superhero Day” at camp. I thought we were good to go with the cape until he is eating breakfast on the day of and asks assumptively where to find his mask. “What mask?” I ask. “My Batman mask,” he replies confidently. “There is no mask” I mumble without looking directly at him because I know exactly where this is heading. What is he talking about, and how serious is he being right now? The tears begin to well, and the lip begins to quiver. “But, without a mask, I’ll just be…a boy…a boy in a cape.” Now had this been delivered any differently, I might have told him to put his hand on his face and peer through his fingers all day, but I was, in fact, manipulated by sincerity, if that is even possible. Off I go to the workshop to MacGyver a mask out of (obviously) hot glue, pipe cleaners, felt and elastic in the time it took him to eat a bagel. Not saying it looked good, but he was convinced, and now I’m on the hook for an entire Bat Family for Halloween. Sort of psyched about it, though! We’ve got Batman, Batgirl, Batdog, The Penguin and one more that we’re not too sure about yet. SB was supposed to be The Joker until E keenly observed that we would have a hard time with his hair.

Tutorial to follow, if anyone is ever following.

And…he’s outta here.

My (Southern) roots are showing

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Happy Birthday to my step-father B! I hope your 60th birthday brings you continued health, happiness and great gifts.

His birthday today reminded me of something interesting that I recently, although quite accidentally read. First, some background. I live in the Mid-Atlantic region, but I am from the south and spent over 30 years there and most definitely consider myself a Southern Girl with some newly acquired Northern sensibilities. My step-father is from South Carolina and remains in the south, so he is just plain extra southern with an order of slow-cooked grits on the side. But, in that super charming, “Yes, Ma’am, No Ma’am, let me get the door for you” kind of way. That being said…. my parents were just here and after they left I discovered a magazine left behind. The name, “Garden & Gun” made me throw up in my mouth a little and I picked up the offending periodical with two fingers and directed it toward the recycle bin. More background here: We are gun-adverse in this house. No guns of any type. The kids will encounter them eventually, but it won’t be because I gave them access or my blessing. Instead we use terms like “caulk machine” or “glue machine” as in “Yes, honey, mommy lost her fingerprint in a terrible glue machine accident making your Batman cape.” So, I see “Garden & Gun” and I think “Hell & No”. But I pause at a story teaser called “Southern Women: The Writers, Artist, Musicians, and Designers Who Are Redefining the Southern Belle.” I’ll give it a look-see. I’m open-minded like that.

What I found was nothing short of profound, to me, anyway. Here’s just a sample:

Southern women are different. That is a fact….

To be born a Southern woman is to be made aware of your distinctiveness. And with it, the rules. The expectations. These vary some, but all follow the same basic template, which is, fundamentally, no matter what the circumstance, Southern women make the effort. Which is why even the girls in the trailer parks paint their nails. And why overstressed working moms still bake three dozen homemade cookies for the school fund-raiser. And why you will never see Reese Witherspoon wearing sweatpants. Or Oprah take a nap.

For my mother, being Southern means handwritten thank-you notes, using a rhino horn’s worth of salt in every recipe, and spending a minimum of twenty minutes a day in front of her makeup mirror so she can examine her beauty in “office,” “outdoor,” and “evening” illumination. It also means never leaving the house with wet hair. Because wet hair is low-rent. It shows you don’t care, and not caring is not something Southern women do, at least when it comes to our hair.

Wow. I could go on, but I’ll let you read the rest here on your own if you are so inclined. Thank you Allison Glock for breaking it down. I have been known to throw a silk magnolia behind one ear for a school meeting, or wear a little make-up to the gym. As she put it, “This is less about vanity than self-respect.” Not that you don’t respect yourself if you don’t own a wide-brimmed hat and always have a spare lipstick…this is just me I’m talking about.

So, I actually tucked Garden & Gun into my magazine bin as a reminder to do something every day that I didn’t plan to do. And I don’t mean go back to the store 3 times because I keep forgetting stuff, but something like read a book that’s not my style, or eat a food I’ve never heard of (nothing with eyeballs, of course), or maybe even contact someone I had written off. I have a few of those, and Yom Kippur is right around the corner. Looks like I better get started.

Happy Birthday again, big guy. We love you, even if you do subscribe to “Garden & …machine.”

Perspective

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Every time I go away, I come home with a little something. Usually caramel corn, or hotel soap, but my favorite thing to bring back is a new perspective on myself and my life. It’s like a gift-with-purchase that lasts far longer than the trip itself. I tell myself that if I only exist in my bubble, how do I know if I’m getting it right? “It” could be anything from how I make the bed to how I wrap leftovers, to eyeshadow colors I hadn’t considered before. (Hey, I never said it would be deep.)

When I visit T, I come home aware that I could be much nicer in general. Even when we’re chatting and she says something that could be catty-ish or gossip-like, it’s still cute and sort of sweet. How do you do that? See, I can’t even accuse her of being catty or gossipy. She’s too nice for that!

When I visit J, I feel that the creative gauntlet has been thrown down. I create in my head 24/7. She ACTUALLY creates 24/7. She and her husband are do-ers. Love the intensity, humor and fearlessness with which they attack projects.

When I visit H, I want everything in my life to be more luxe. Although my Gemini mind allows me the superpower to love both thrift stores AND Neiman Marcus, when I am with H, I need every towel, every carafe, every ramekin to be the best. Luckily that wears off when I leave or I would not be able to exist in my world. She also makes me crave order. Although none of my friends are even close to being pack rats or hoarders, H beats all in the neat & clean department. Even her garage is a showpiece. Among the bins, hooks and racks, it has a carefully curated collection of garage-appropriate decor.

When I visit my mom, I am reminded of how to be a better hostess. Truly, she is unparalleled in this department. Thoughtful, thorough, elegant, comfortable. Coming home to her house is truly coming home. She also shares some traits with H. She has a chandelier in her garage! Obviously I have Garage Envy.

When I visit R, I know that if she can do it with 3 kids, a giant house and a job, I can do it with 2 kids, a dog and a hobbit house. She’s even recently discovered an inner creative monster screaming to get out which will make her even more invincible!

These people all remind me of what they are good at that I can improve upon for myself. Sometimes it’s not always like that. When I visit the party that is my dad, I am grateful for the relative normalcy in my life. He is a post, no…a blog all to himself.

What I’m really wondering is what people take home from a visit with me. (Other than candles. Everyone leaves with candles.) Or do other people even engage in this little activity? Do they ever go home and decide to try to make at least one meatless dinner? So many people don’t, so if I could inspire that, I would be pretty happy. Maybe they will want to adopt a dog instead of buying from a breeder, or maybe start a business. Who knows. I won’t flatter myself by filling in the blanks, but I can only hope it’s something as positive as what I’ve been siphoning off my friends all this time. Thanks, girls. 🙂