Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bad Mom!

I am not Mother of the Year. And although I like to sometimes dress like a 50s housewife, I am no June Cleaver. I once drew a total blank when asked what year Harlowe was born. I've fed my kids cereal for dinner and pizza for breakfast. When potty training Max, he ran out of clean underwear so I threw on a pair of Harlowe's (sorry about that, buddy). I raised Sage to think she is descended from a troll bloodline. Last week I forgot about early dismissal and in doing so, forgot about Max. I tell my kids all about Red Bow-Tie Day; a day when parents can place a red bow-tie on misbehaving children, put'em on a corner and the Orphan Wagon will cart them off. Note to Parents: Your welcome for that one.

But after checking out some of the stellar parenting over at Why The F**ck Do You Have a Kid, I'm feeling alright about myself. Actually, I'm feeling pretty damn spectacular.

WARNING:  What you are about to see may cause you to throw up in your mouth

I don't know if this is a bachelor party or a kid's birthday party. I don't know if the semi-nude woman pouring alcohol down her breasts is the stripper or the mother.  Either way, it's not me.
Nothing says I Love You like a salmonella slide. I'm sure this little girl just wanted a brother or sister to play with.

And from the looks of this picture, her dreams of sharing her tortured and tragic childhood will be coming true in about nine months. What I want to know is what idiot stood there and took this picture?
One word: GoodGodPeople!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Baseball Fever

At just five years old, my son Maximus has a mistress. Her name is Baseball.

It all started when his school sent home a flyer about the local Cal Ripken T-Ball Division. Immediately, his Uncle Johnny and I thought it would be a great idea for Max who loves anything that might send him to the emergency room. And since his Dad passed away, leaving Max in a house full of estrogen, I've been sort of obsessed with giving him a healthy dose of all things male. It's like there's a checklist in my head for Things All Boys Must Do. Or more accurately, Things His Dad Would Have Done.

Max became an official team member of the Cal Ripken Orioles and so began a love affair. His passion is all-consuming.

Saturday night Max got to go to his first real game and saw the Reno Aces, a triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The new outdoor stadium was a perfect setting for this rite of passage; all major league style with an intimacy that had us sitting right above the dug-out on the third baseline. Max proved to be a quick study. He wore his mitt when left-handed batters were at the plate, clapped along to the beat of the stadium music, assigned himself a favorite player (Josh Whitesell) and screamed that the umps needed glasses. The only time his jittery, sugar-crazed eyes left the field was to see a re-play on the big screen.

The Aces won and Max left with a new hat, a dirt-smudged game ball and a high-five from the creepy mascot, Archie. And thanks to Grandpa and Uncle Johnny, I can now mark that off my list. Baseball Game:  check!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday Dinner: Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Having lived most of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was not at all equipped for the extreme heat that comes with living in Nevada.  Okay, maybe yesterday's temperatures never broke into the nineties but even upper eighties can be a struggle for this girl.  And when it gets warm like that, the last thing on my mind is turning on my oven.  Instead, I'd rather turn on some Abba, crank up the slow cooker and pretend it's 1975.  And that's exactly what I did yesterday.

On the menu:   Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Cole Slaw, Kettle Chips, Watermelon Wedges and a little Mad Housewife Chardonnay

Slow Cooked Pulled Pork
5-7 lbs  Pork Shoulder, cut into 4 pieces
1  Onion, sliced thin
1/2 c  Ketchup
1/3 c Cider Vinegar
1/4 c  Tomato Paste
1/4 c  Brown Sugar, packed
2 T  Paprika
2T  Brown Mustard
2T  Worcestershire Sauce

Season pork shoulder with salt and pepper.  I also rubbed in a little garlic powder.  Place sliced onions at the bottom of the slow cooker.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Place pork in cooker and coat each piece with sauce.  Cook on high for 4 - 5 hours.

When meat is tender, remove from cooker and place on a large platter.  Shred pork using two forks.  Meanwhile, reduce remaining sauce by about half (either by boiling in the slow cooker or as I prefer, in a large saucepan on the stove.  When pork is all shredded, mix with remaining sauce reduction.

Serve on Ciabatta rolls with cole slaw, kettle chips and dill pickle spear.

Makes about 10 sandwiches.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

10 Things About Me That May or May Not Interest You

  1. I'm terrified of squirrels and you should be too. They're unpredictable, skittish, jittery little minions from Hell. They appear out of nowhere and move almost quicker than the human eye can follow. They are not to be trusted. Consider yourself warned.
  2. I read magazines back to front. That's just how I roll, ya'll.
  3. I say "ya'll."  I say it without thinking and I say it all the time. Did I mention that I'm from San Francisco and have never actually lived anywhere but the West Coast?
  4. I'm not a porn star, but I often think of porn star names should life take me in that direction. My favorite is Kitty Litter.  Sounds dirty, huh?
  5. I think Windex is the multi-purpose cleaner of the Gods.  It can clean anything -- windows, walls, carpets, children.......
  6. I cannot whistle and despise those who can. I'm also not big on the yodel, yodeling or yodelers. 
  7. I cannot be trusted with a bottle of Nyquil and I'm sure I'm not alone. You know who you are. Let's raise our plastic medicine dispensers and give a shudder and a toast to the nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching fever so you can rest medicine! Cheers!!
  8. I'm haunted by the Wonder Twins.  You remember them, right?  They were teenaged superheroes, accompanied by their alien space monkey sidekick, that ran around with the Super Friends. I just can't get them out of my head! Why the purple jumpsuits; why pretend to be from some strange planet when clearly they're from some island in the Pacific; why turn into something so ridiculous as a bucket of water; why the god-damned monkey??
  9. I'm addicted to compiling a list of words that I just don't like the sound of.  Here is a small sampling: nougat, gum, vein, creamy, faux, kudos, bevy, vagina, sneakers and moist towlette.  That's right.... moist towlette.  Say it slow enough and you'll understand what I'm talking about.
  10. I believe there is one absolute truth in life and that is that toilet paper should roll from the top. From the top, people!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday Dinner: Bleu Cheese Burgers

When we moved closer to family, my husband and I started the tradition of having Sunday night dinners at our house. Our intention being that no matter what was going on in our individual lives, we could all count on Sundays as a day to recharge and reconnect. Our Sundays became even more comforting after he passed away almost nine months ago.

I've also started to use Sundays as my testing ground for new recipes. It isn't always easy to please this crowd. You know how it goes ......  Grandma doesn't like onions, Grandpa won't come near asparagus and I have to put my beloved mushrooms through the food processor to hide them from Uncle Johnny. Don't even get me started on the kids.  Sage likes a side of ranch dressing with almost everything (yuck), Harlowe is on a mustard kick and unless it's carbs, Max isn't touching it. I've learned a couple of things during my time in the kitchen on Sundays. One is that it works best when ingredients can be individually added or subtracted without compromising the integrity of the meal and two,  if you don't like what I'm cooking you know where the frozen burritos are.

On the menu last night:

Bleu Cheese Burgers with Caramelized Onions
For the burgers:
3 lbs Ground Sirloin
4 cloves Garlic, crushed
6T Worcheshire Sauce
     Fresh Parsley, chopped
Bleu Cheese Crumbles (topping)
Baby Spinach Leaves (topping)
For the onions:
2 Large Onions, sliced
2T Butter
2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2T Brown Sugar
1/2 c Brown Mustard (don't go too cheap here)

Melt the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, salt and pepper.  Cook until soft (about 20 - 25 minutes).  Add brown sugar and mustard. Remove from heat.

Pulling it all together:
We cooked the burgers on the grill but utilize whatever cooking method you like. Top with bleu cheese crumbles, caramelized onions and baby spinach.  Serve on a slightly toasted Kaiser roll.

I served the burgers with a small spinach salad and side of Bush's Grillin' Beans

Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Letter from the Edge

Dear Reader,

I think my kids are trying to drive me crazy and I don't mean a little bit batty.  I mean it in the clinical sense -- insane, mental, 51/50. I haven't found any "real" evidence just yet. No blueprints of their grand scheme shoved under their mattress. No diary entries detailing their diabolical mission. They are way to smart to leave a paper trail. Sure they might look innocent enough, but I'm on to them. Don't call me paranoid, just hear me out.

There are common psychological torture methods that even a 17, 5 and 4 year old must be aware of, right?  How about sleep deprivation? I don't remember the last time I fell asleep and stayed asleep. I am beyond exhausted. Yesterday, I took a stab at a cat nap.  My 17 year old decided to rummage loudly through my makeup drawer and my 4 year old thought it was a good time to "check her email" by incessantly banging on my keyboard. Of course my mom calls at that very moment (I think she's in on it too) and my daughter tells her I'm asleep. Liar!

And how about the use of sound? Extremely high volumes of noise capable of dynamic range intended to interfere with rest? It worked in Waco and it's working here in my house, too. My kids like to play roller coaster in their room .... at 6:00 AM! I beg them to Please Be Quiet and Shut Your Door, but they're like some third world country prison guard and show me no mercy whatsoever. Ever heard of Constant Chatter?  I'm sure Wikipedia doesn't list it as a form of torture but they should because it is unhinging me. I've never been subjected to Chinese Water Torture but come on, it cannot be more painful than Constant Chatter.

Masterminds, I tell you!  They even have me questioning myself. I'll pick up their room before I go to bed, only to find toys and clothes thrown about in the all-too-early hours of the morning. I'm sure I remember putting everything away .... don't I? And yesterday, Max was so sick with an ear infection and fever that he was crying to go to the doctor's office. When we arrived at Urgent Care his tears were gone, his temperature only slightly elevated and he was playing in the waiting room.  But he was sick just 30 minutes ago .... wasn't he?  I must be losing my mind.

These kids of mine .... they are super-human in their abilities to cause distress. Their bedroom must be some kind of Think Tank where they plot, not play. Maybe there's a secret door that leads to the Legion of Doom that I have yet to discover. Either way, they're out to get me, I just know it!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Sexting Hailstorm

Sexting. A media-created word that basically refers to sex texting. It's the sassy little verb that describes minors exchanging sexually explicit text messages, photos or videos via cellphone. The fact that it's now in the spotlight could be attributed to a perfect storm of events:  Oprah's show dedicated to the subject, teen suicide attributed to the aftermath of sexting gone horribly wrong and recent cases were sexters (not sure if that's a word yet) are charged with possession and/or dissemination of child pornography. However, my instincts tell me that it's been lurking around the schoolyard ever since little Billy and little Sally got their first text-enabled cellphones for Christmas. They're watching us and shaking their heads as we become alerted to this "new" phenomenon, as we move from concerned parent to phone-confiscating lunatic. The conversation bubble over their head reads, "You are so lame."  They could be right on this one.

Nobody wants their children to be hurt or abused.  We want them to make sound decisions, to be respectful of themselves and to others.  To do the right thing.  To not take photos of themselves in nothing but their underwear and send them to their One True Love who has a shelf life of about two to four weeks. But they might. And if they do, is that not freedom of expression? Ugh, I can hear the angry mob gathering outside my house on that one. But legally speaking, if my daughter takes a sexually explicit photo of herself, then her actions are consensual and she is free to send them to whomever she wants. To be as dumb as she wants. She would be guilty of lots of things, but child pornography shouldn't be one of them. Of course, the law would be interpreted differently for the person who then passes that photo on to somebody who was never intended to receive it.  

I guess my point is that we should all catch our breath before we register our teens as sex offenders. I'd like to save that classification for the pedophiles, predators and sadists who deserve the stigma. 


Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Kind of Mothers Day

Are you one of those mothers who had breakfast delivered to them in bed this morning, surrounded by feather pillows and rosy cheeked loved ones all flushed with the adoration they feel for you? Maybe you found a tennis bracelet sandwiched between your banana fosters french toast.  Or maybe your family has decided to gift you the famous (yet rarely seen) It's Your Day, Do Whatever You Want Day. If that's you, then I'm happy for you. No, really ... I am.

My special day actually started yesterday when my mother and I, on a whim, decided to lay new sod in my yard. Somehow I managed to end up with enough dirt in my bra to plant a small herb garden and my mother earned herself a pretty nice sunburn. She hasn't gotten around to thanking me for that yet but I'm sure she will.  By 5:00, it was time to quit "relaxing" and get down to the real business at hand -- prepping the brunch that we were throwing tomorrow for ourselves. That's not to say that others aren't pitching in. My brother-in-law is bringing the soda and Sage is pre-setting the coffee. Super.

Asleep by 11:00 and awake at 2:00 AM.  Why?  Because 30, yes 30, people decided to take their Mothers Day celebration to the intersection in front of my house. When the party turned into a street brawl, I celebrated by calling the police. Asleep again by 3:30 and awake at 7:30. Yes! I got to sleep in!

I'm not complaining though. Sage really did pre-set the coffee, Max and Harlowe wished me a Happy Mothers Day and my mom has already vacuumed. I also got to see one of the drunkards from last night, creep out of a house and puke in the street. Ha! And by noon, I'll have hooked up my Mimosa I.V. and the entire family will be here for T-ball and water balloon fights. And that really is my kind of Mothers Day.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Destination: Disneyland!

We're back!  

Together, we survived almost 20 hours in a car and another 24 on foot all for the experience of our first family vacation to Disneyland.

The trip was ridiculously perfect.  Nobody peed their pants (or worse), the number of tears spilled could fill a tablespoon and we came home with the same number of people that we left with.  Not too bad for this clan o'mine.  We were able to hit up both parks from opening to closing and my kids went on every ride that they were tall enough to get on, even the Tower of Terror!  Their Dad would have been so proud of them -- real soldiers.  Oddly enough, the only thing they didn't want to do was meet the Disney characters themselves.  But if I thought they were real, I probably wouldn't be too thrilled with a pair of six foot tall chipmunks making their way towards me either.

As my son would say, it was "Awesome, Awesome, Awe-Some!"  And I was able to learn some things about my family, too.  I learned that my little ones are just as crazy as their Dad was, that Sage can be trusted to use the gas station bathroom by herself without skipping out and hitching a ride to San Francisco, that Auntie Stacey is Harlowe's new best friend ever and that my brother-in-law deserves a Get Into Heaven Free card for being the man behind the wheel for the entire trip.  Thanks Johnny Boy!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Leave a Message at the Beep!

I'm out of here until May 6th getting makeup and anger management tips from my idol, Maleficent.  See ya!!