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what i did on my summer vacation: part 1
Jul 7th, 2011 by wrekehavoc

i know, i know. i’ve been scarce.

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it’s been a crazy year. but no matter what the gods threw at us, we were buoyed by the idea that at the end of june, we were going to spend 8 whole days at club med sandpiper in florida, followed by some time in south florida capped off by a visit with my old friends plus a phillies game versus the hopeless hapless helpless florida marlins. sun, beach, fun — what could be better?

to be sure, we have been to club med sandpiper before. 3 or 4 times, to be exact. (sort of.) we loved the fact that the kids loved having fun in the kids clubs while mom and dad did anything from flying trapeze time (no lie) to water skiing, to rollerblading to golf (okay, well, BS is the golfer; i find golf snoozeworthy.) there was a man as old as methuselah who taught the yoga classes, there was an adult pool and a restaurant for adults only as well as endless, delicious food.

and the bread…

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club med sandpiper has undergone a pretty big renovation. where there once was a patio where the kids ran and ran, there’s now another pool, a lovely one with chaises all around. but if you want to sit in one of those chairs, you’d better put your stuff down on one to reserve it by about 8am or you’ll be sorely disappointed, as we often were.  at times, we escaped to the adult pool, only to find other adults bringing their children to it. (!) one day, one lady removed her bikini top (a no-no on the beach, despite the number of people who were not from the US of A) while two clearly-under 18 boys ogled. (only adults have the clear wristband.) one actually stood up and stared at her freed boobage. i walked over to beavis while his butthead friend looked on. you do know this beach is for adults, right?

hey, he replied earnestly, i’m almost 17.

there was a lot of this sort of entitled attitude i experienced here on my visit, a surprise, maybe because this time, there was a predominance of americans?

there were some pretty major changes in the dining, and not just that my beloved chocolate bread was only served at lunch and dinner. firstly, the adult-only restaurant was gone, replaced by a lunch/dinner/post dinner snack type restaurant with an unchanging menu. one time, the girl and i went to have a snack. she ordered a cheese quesadilla with guac. i ordered the crudities, which were tiny, itsy-bitsy pieces of vegetables. (the carrot portion of the dish probably consisted in total of 1/2 of a baby carrot.) good thing i wasn’t hungry.

the main restaurant is buffet-style. in the past, there were simply massive tables where waiters would seat you and others together, travelers as well as the employees (or G.O.’s, as they are called). this was actually wonderful, as you ended up meeting other people easily and felt part of a community of sorts. not so anymore. now, people sit wherever they want, and there is a serious predominance of reserved tables. sure, if you have taken your family of 18 on vacation together, you probably want to sit together. but there were tables of 4 which bore the little Reserved For signs and which we found rather obnoxious. (of course, one day, one of the tables had a sign that said Reserved for Korn. sweet! my BS exclaimed. there are rock stars eating here!) we only sat with another couple once, by our invitation. we never sat with a G.O. (of course, we sat with plenty of flies, which aboundeth.)

anyway, you care about the food, and i do, too. gone is the freshly squeezed orange juice; i’m sure some stupid americans complained that it was too difficult for them to squeeze their own o.j. and why should i have to squeeze my own juice — i’m on vacation! (spoilsport.)  the omelette guy is the best thing about breakfast; every day, i had my egg white omelette and my oatmeal and was happy as a clam. (note to self: are clams really happy? how would anyone know?) especially important, considering there was no chocolate or white chocolate bread at breakfast. (have i mentioned how much i love this stuff?) curiously, the skim milk went M.I.A. most mornings. i’m not sure who you have to sleep with to get skim milk instead of whole or 2%, but it was annoying.

i’ll combine lunch and dinner. it’s easy to combine them now, as they are pretty much interchangeable. in the past, there were theme nights, and it was fun, albeit scary, for an american palate to encounter some euro foods. not any more. usually, there was some asian (read: fried rice or something indian-like/curryish) sort of food which was heavy on the salt and limited on the actual spice or flavor. in fact, BC thought that they must have a basic asian flavor that they use for all their asian food, and it isn’t even good. there are often pieces of fish or fowl and sometimes beef. crab legs one night. but nothing stood out.  and the desserts were completely lackluster and repeated. in the past, there were different desserts cranked out by the bakers. now? it’s the same few sorts, rotated, plus cookies at lunch. so dull, the kids and i decided to eat our beloved chocolate bread for dessert.

waterskiing and rollerskating are no longer part of the program. (well, you can waterski, but it costs extra now.) i tried taking a golf lesson to attempt to catch up to my BS and try to play on the pitch and putt. the lesson: how to grip a club. the instructor spent 10 minutes berating me because i have a lefty grip. then, he told me to stand behind him and watch. oh, and whenever he said left, i should substitute right. thanks. after not being able to see him, i waited until the question and answer time. only, too bad for me — he had a cellphone call to take. i waited patiently for him to finish, then i approached him. only once again, too bad for me — i encountered a french-canadian golf gang hell-bent on monopolizing the teacher’s time. literally every time there was a break, i tried to get his attention. sadly, i am not cute and don’t speak with a french accent, so he continued to pay attention to these amazons from montreal. finally, fed up, i left the course.  i had stood in 90+ degree heat and wasted my time for an hour. thanks, dude.

(the husband had a similar experience in the teacher’s intermediate class. so it wasn’t just a beginner neeb like myself.)

i spent some time in the weight room, which is nice but small. people hog the ellipticals and the one treadmill. and people also don’t wipe down the equipment. (the husband was stunned as i brazenly told a man next to me not to forget to wipe down his machine that he had drenched. yes, i am that lady.) once again, another situation where you have to fight to get to do something you should be able to do on vacation. another hassle. and as in most cases, the G.O.s are not paying attention and don’t want to get into any sort of situation with patrons.

the girl is old enough for the teen club; she was allowed to basically wander the place at will, which she loved. but the boy was not so entranced by his group, the manatees. and frankly, i had the feeling that the G.O.s who ended up with his group probably had somehow felt like they had gotten the short end of the stick. i didn’t sense that any of them particularly liked kids, which is such a vastly different experience than what i had had when my kids were younger.  back in the old days, G.O.’s tried to create a fun pride in the group with cheers and songs. i didn’t see any of that happening here.

and then, there was the slapping incident.

jools tells me that he wasn’t allowed to eat dessert. i asked him why. he tells me that he said: ew, gross! when this one boy stepped on a grape. and then, the boy slapped him. now, two things should be evident here to any of you who are parents: 1) the story makes no sense, and 2) WTF? a kid slapped my kid? so, like any concerned parent, i went to talk to the G.O. well, yes, she said, jools lost dessert because he didn’t listen and went to get dessert before she said he could get dessert. (which, for reasons i don’t understand, they were only allowed to get the ice cream and not the cookies, which is absurd. oh, and they wouldn’t let them have soda. hello? this is VACATION. i paid for all this food. let my kid eat whatever he wants, thanks very much.) this had happened the day before, so she wanted to teach him a lesson.

okay, i replied. so tell me about the slapping part.

well, she continued, a boy did slap julian. i asked her what happened to that boy.

he lost dessert as well.

hold the phone. are you telling me that not listening and getting dessert is on the same level as slapping another person?

of course not, she said. i talked to his dad. (i don’t think there was any time for her to actually have spoken to the father, and there was never any apology. i doubt this ever happened.) so the next day, i had a kid who didn’t want to go back to group, and i frankly didn’t want to send him there because i wasn’t certain he was being treated fairly and kindly. considering the kids camp is the number one selling point of this entire operation, this is a serious dealbreaker.  while i adore spending time with my kids, we have always adored club med sandpiper because the kids have fun and the parents get a break. and now? no breaks for mom and dad.

so basically, we have here uninspiring food, G.O.s who don’t seem to care a lot about the kids in their care, pushy people, an inability to participate in most activities because they are crowded, adult-only places where the adult-only place is never enforced by anyone, and just not a lot of fun to be had at a not-so-cheap cost. we used to hold all other vacations up to club med sandpiper — we didn’t care that it wasn’t the fanciest place. we l0ved the feel of the place. we loved the community. we loved the energy. and now? there’s none of that. sure, the physical plant is probably somewhat improved, but in general? a serious, serious disappointment.

and this was our big vacation for a few years. thanks for nothing, club med.

guilty pleasure monday: you make your own heaven and hell right here on earth (the temptations)
May 23rd, 2011 by wrekehavoc

be forewarned: i am probably going to accidentally trounce on beliefs without meaning to and without any malice. apologies in advance. i’m thinking aloud here.

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all this talk about raptures is puzzling to me at best. and that’s at best.

i had to do a little reading about the concept of rapture, as it is a christian concept and thus obviously nothing i was taught as part of my time with mrs. hannah felder, the torah-ettes, and our stunning hebrew school curriculum. there’s a piece of the christian bible called thessalonians (which i had to practice saying, i would add — that word is a tongue twister and made me feel like i had a lisping challenge) where paul writes one of his epistles.  (i remember reading a bit about him in college through the confessions of st. augustine. that paul was pretty prolific.)

(speaking of prolific paul, i always love being at weddings with BS when they get to the part of paul writing to the corinthians. my husband always makes me laugh:  dear corinthians, he’ll whisper, STOP. how’s the leather business? STOP. etc.)

so that thinker named paul, he took on the thessalonians as well, only this time, he was talking about christians being taken up to G-d. and i’m no theologian (so i will defer to my friends who are), but it sounds like depending on which sort of christian you are delineates how the whole rapture scenario plays out. but ultimately, my understanding is that as long as you are christian and have declared Jesus as your savior, you are good to go toward that heavenly reward.

see, here’s where i get a bit perplexed and i’m hoping someone out there can help me out. in judaism, i think we earn our place in heaven by good works.  i don’t think the concept is limited to jews, either — i think anyone who does good on earth can enter heaven (if it’s a concept he or she believes in, obviously. not everyone does.)  you don’t have to belong to any particular religion; you just have to be a decent human being. now obviously, behaving as Jesus would want you to would put you in this category, methinks, as Jesus had some pretty critical ideas that i can appreciate. but in our non-christian worldview, i don’t think you have to be christian to earn your place with The Big Entity Upstairs.

so is it enough to surrender yourself to Jesus or G-d? i’m thinking about all those poor people who stopped their lives in their tracks last week because they believed that rapture was imminent. they handed out pamphlets; they paid for billboards; and they did everything they could to spread the word. i respect their right to share their ideas. however, is that all there is to it? just believe and you’re done?

you need to understand that i am somewhat skeptical about organized religion, including my own. but a worldview i do embrace is all about your behavior here on earth. how you treat people in the here and now is everything to me. and frankly, i am not doing this because i am hoping that i end up in G-d’s good books (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s, for that matter.) i do that simply because i want to be part of a world where people treat each other kindly and fairly. i’m far from perfect on this front, of course; but it’s something i strive for every day. it’s something i try to share with my kids every day. and all these people who are eager to die and be lifted up to heaven — have they completely given up on improving life on here in our world? i find people like that to be the scariest people of all.

i know that life for some people is very, very hard. i know that i count my blessings all the time — i have a healthy family, i have access to lifesaving medicine, i have people i love and who seem to like me, etc. — so it may seem pretty easy for me to talk about good works and good deeds. but when you look at history and see persecuted peoples, people under the greatest of stresses, there are countless stories of grace and courage and, as my tribe would put it, mitzvot. i think, for example, about the righteous among the nations, non-jews who risked their very lives saving jews during the holocaust.

isn’t that sort of deed enough to earn your place in heaven?

but is that really a good reason to do the right thing? no one really knows what happens to you after you die. maybe heaven. maybe worm food central. who really knows? and i don’t begrudge anyone their beliefs, but you can’t really control what happens to you after you die. you can, however,  control how you behave in the here and now. you can create heaven… or hell… right here on earth, as the temps sing.

and shouldn’t that be the focus?

guilty pleasure monday: incense and peppermints (strawberry alarm clock)
Mar 21st, 2011 by wrekehavoc

because you just never know where your inspiration will come from…

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so yesterday was purim. purim, to me, is the very best jewish holiday going. chanukah gets more press because here in america, it has ended up in a tit-for-tat with christmas. american jews run to the shops to buy altogether too many things for their offspring, because G-d forbid jeremy or sarah feels left out of the gift-giving frenzy. oy veis mer.

but purim? hands down, it rocks.

i sometimes call purim the jewish mardi gras. (well, only in my little bear brain, of course: obviously, it has nothing at all to do with the tale behind mardi gras, but it’s almost as much fun.)  sure, you have to sit through the reading of the book of esther (the megillah, as in the whole megillah fame. not to be confused with the gorilla of a similar sounding name.) but every time the evil haman is named in the story, you are encouraged to make boatloads of noise (vuvuzelas, anybody?) to blot out the sound of he who should not be named, one of the bigger villains who wanted to kill all the jews. (sadly, this appears to be a recurrent theme in our cultural history.) it’s literally the only time i let my kids yell boo in public (though in all fairness, i haven’t yet taken them to a yankees game.)

you’re also supposed to get seriously wasted on this holiday:

A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordechai”

honestly, as a mom and as a person of a certain age, i don’t really ever get to do this. and i still didn’t get to do this. but it’s nice to know in the back of my mind that i’m supposed to do this on this one-time-only basis each year.

i did, however, eat my weight in hamentashen this year, the three-sided cookie that we red sea pedestrians eat as a traditional holiday treat.  old skool ashkenazi jews like to eat them with poppy, prune, or apricot filling. bleh. over the years, though, i have enjoyed more and more delightful fillings, like cherry, chocolate, and basically anything not poppy or prune oriented. i mean, imagine if you did get drunk AND you had eaten a lot of prune-filled delights? i shudder to think.

so what the hell does this have to do with a psychedelic hit, you might ask? (well, besides the being wasted part of things.)

many synagogues put together a purim carnival for the children. ours was no exception — lots of games and a moonbounce for the kiddies to enjoy. BC missed the entire thing because of a prior girl scout commitment (and BOY, was she mad.) but jools? he had the time of his life. he played all sorts of carnival games, winning tickets to earn small prizes. that being said, his eye was on a particular prize — candy. he loaded up on a lot of hershey kisses and miniatures.

but then, he went up to a friend of mine, who was running the prize area, and he was counting his tickets. how many do you have? she asked him. he continued to count.

i’m trying to see whether i have enough tickets. i want to get a peppermint patty for my sister. she loves them. i want to get one for my dad, too.

bless my friend’s heart. thinking of your sister and your dad is a mitzvah. you can have one for each of them, no tickets required.

i am always incredibly grateful when a child does the right thing and an adult reinforces the message.  it really does take a village to raise a a child, and moments like these, i’m so glad to find like-minded people in my little village of sorts.  it’s magical, it’s meaningful.

and, like incense and peppermints, it’s so sweet.

mellow yellow
Jan 31st, 2011 by wrekehavoc

sometimes, we all need to be mellow (and respect the stuff that’s yellow.)

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the story goes that here, in the people’s republic of arlington, one of the full-day public elementary preschool programs has booted a three year old girl for having more than eight accidents in a month. i am actually quite familiar with this sort of situation; jools was three when he started at claremont’s sister school’s montessori program. and while he was potty trained by that point, something about the program discombobulated him. they didn’t nap. they were very structured. and, in short, he had accidents.  the teacher and the teacher’s aide were not happy about the situation, and neither were we. ultimately, we pulled him out of that program into a more day care-like situation, where he proceeded to have many dry days and never looked back.

while i feel badly for the little girl and her mom, i think a lot of their anger is rather misplaced.  here in arlington, elementary school-sponsored preschool is not universal. you get in via lottery (or sometimes via an older sibling preference) unless you are entering one of the income-based programs.  these programs are not daycare programs — these are classroom-based programs where the children essentially have a similar experience to their older compatriots. this is far more structured than what you might get at some fluffy preschool program. it’s a bargain, financially- speaking, if you can get in. and for some kids, it’s a great fit. they are both intellectually and physically ready for the experience.

for other kids, it’s a nightmare. their little bodies aren’t ready for the full-time pressure of monitoring when they have to go. sometimes, they get so engaged in an activity that it’s too late before they realize they needed a pit stop. there’s nothing wrong with that, of course — it’s developmentally quite appropriate for a lot of kids.

but one thing i have learned in my short but eventful career as a parent — sometimes, a class or a program may be fabulous, but it’s not a fabulous fit for MY child. for whatever reason, there have been situations which just didn’t work out for my kids. so BS and i dropped back, figured out plan B (or sometimes C), and punted. it wasn’t easy — sometimes, it caused challenges that upset our daily lives at work and at home. but we did what we had to do and we moved on.

arlington county public schools is pretty specific and up front about what they expect of children in the program: children must be potty trained. this is not daycare, people. this is a public school.  they tell you up front that they won’t be changing nappies, and they mean it. and while even older children occasionally have an oops! moment, these occurrences are not and should not be something that disrupts class with frequency or else it isn’t fair to the other kids who are completely ready for the experience.  no child should be shamed about his ability to control his body. but no child should be forced into a position where she’s facing embarrassment on a daily basis. if this sort of thing happens frequently, as a parent i would recognize that something is not right for my kid. and, recognizing that the school is not going to bend a whole lot on this matter, i would have moved my kid. period.

but blaming the school is not fair. i think in our society, we always look to point the finger at anyone but ourselves.  i would think it would be more useful to instead focus energies on finding a place that works best for the child and which welcomes her — all of her.

electricity
Jan 28th, 2011 by wrekehavoc

oh, electricity. i am your bitch.

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our part of the world is not known for dealing well with any sort of precipitation. people line the supermarkets, clamoring for bread, milk, and toilet paper whenever the weather reports hint of any impending white stuff. couple that with a hard, wet snow, very old trees in serious need of help, inadequate snow plowing on side-streets, and lots of above-ground lines, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

there we were, sitting around, basking in the joy of a potential snow day on wednesday night. the kids had all gotten out of school early due to the impending storm. the boy was extra-happy because he got out of a gymnastics class. the girl was in ecstasy because her religious school was cancelled.  i was thrilled because i had cooked not one, but TWO different dinners, which would allow me to spend less time cooking and more time lazing around or playing. we had just finished a game of monopoly cards (during which i had one two out of three games), when suddenly, the fireworks.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!

we looked out the window to see a transformer blowing up on the main road and spewing all sorts of little fireworks in the sky. then, a minute later, another one blew similarly. then, another.  whoomp, there it went: our power was done for.

fortunately. BS is the sort of guy who likes to be prepared. we had all sorts of flashlights, a crank radio, and a good attitude… for a time, anyway. we brought the kids’ sleeping bags into our room, and we all prepared to camp down together in the chilly evening. unfortunately, the ancient trees on my street were sagging scarily underneath the weight of the snow. huge branches were snapping. the kids were terrified that a tree would fall and take us down with it. the boy calmed down relatively easily, as i started to sing songs in the dark much like the songs i sang to the kids when they were infants.  he fell asleep, his head in my lap. the girl, however, was not as easily swayed; she, like me, was up for a large part of the night.

oh nervous night.

the next day, we hoped for the best. BS put food into iced coolers and dug out the sidewalk.  i dug out the mom-mobile with some help from my neighbor across the street, who simply stopped work on his driveway and just started in. (i am blessed to have some truly wonderful neighbors. i am baking something as a little thank you.) BS dug out the prius. the kids sleighed for a time before my other neighbor found a dangerous spot and stopped all the cul-de-sac kids from sledding. the entire street lost power, and the entire street lost phone service. my cell was dying away, and no recharging in my car was really cutting it for some reason. and dominion power was continually telling us that nearly 200,000 people were without power and that they could not yet give us a time estimate for repair.

and the house got colder and colder.

so BS realized he needed to think about plan B. unfortunately, foraging for potential hotel rooms required his computer. i suggested he hit up our beloved local library branch, where i suspected he could plug in for awhile and use some of their free wifi. so off he went to the library. upon his return, he shared two things: 1) most of the hotels were looking for upwards of $200 for one night, and 2) people around here are seriously obnoxious. apparently, some of our fair residents decided that the library was their home away from home to charge all their items. one enterprising person and her friend/family member brought a surge protector and proceeded to plug everything from phones to ipods into it, while taking over the other plug for one additional item. ultimately, BS found a spot in a hallway to plug in his little pc.

upon his return, the lights went on in the homes behind us. we felt hopeful and decided that we’d go out to dinner and then, upon our return, decide whether to hit up a hotel or stay home.  after a yummy, caloric dinner, we returned home to discover that the power remained out.  BC had been invited to a friend’s for a sleepover, so we brought her there and then the three of us set off to find a hotel. our path was blocked by a police blockade, so we meandered our way over to said hotel. only, too bad for us — no room at the inn. by this time, the boy was falling asleep in the car, so we figured we would hunker down again at home. we put the boy into his sleeping bag, covered him up, and then we, too, tried to fall asleep in a r e a l l y cold house under about a million blankets.

i was afraid to fall asleep because i knew that the minute i finally fell asleep, the power would go on, the lights would pop on, and all sorts of things would scare the bejeebers out of me. i fought sleep for awhile, but eventually, i succumbed to a fitful rest (which included a bizarre dream about my marrying owen wilson, who seems like a nice, sensitive guy but who isn’t really my type) until at 5am, the giant light over our bed went on, along with every other electrical thingy in the house. yeah, it scared me. but it also delighted me.

and now today, we take all the items the husband saved out of the cooler. ( he really loves me; he, who loathes coffee,  saved my vanilla creamer along with the milk.) we buy some more stuff. and we start over.

and i start to think about how, in some small way, it was awfully nice to have the family unplugged. if only for 34 hours, anyway.

all mixed up
Dec 20th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

dear black and decker,

i don’t usually find myself writing to large corporations, much less large corporations that generally don’t produce things which i use.  while i have been known to pick up power tools for my BS for holidays when he places them on his wishlist; and while there are times when i am tempted to locate a power tool and run screaming down the street, i am probably not part of your target demographic, being a stay-at-home-mom who tends to leave most home improvement projects to the experts (or to my husband if i am quite certain that he will not be ripping an entire wall out in the process. which did occur once, i would add. but i digress.)

recently, my husband generously purchased a black and decker hand mixer for me for the holidays. the wonderful machine is a powerpro 250 watt mixer, a cute little number with additional wisks for beating eggs and even a little scraper attachment that supposedly scrapes the bowl as you go along.  now, i know what you’re thinking: why on EARTH would you ask for a small appliance for the holidays when you could be angling for some serious bling?

in short, i love to bake. and while my kitchenaid mixer is my go-to appliance for probably 80 percent of my baking needs, there are times when you just don’t feel like lugging out the giant behemoth just to mix up the instant chocolate pudding.  and once upon a time, i had a hand mixer. yep. got it when i got married over two decades ago. it was my friend and happy little mixing companion. it survived a lot of things — and if you only understood my inability to cook well, you’d understand how that mixer could be termed a survivor.  however, there was one thing it could not survive.

that would be my son, jools.

once day, jools was helping me mix up some brownies, my most favorite food on the planet. and, if i do say so myself, i make some pretty awesome brownies. if i could only figure out a way to make them actually good-for-you, i would make a mint. sadly, no rationalization of how butter, eggs, sugar, chocolate, flour, salt and vanilla can be made to be thought of as anything but yummy. but that’s ok. anyway, the boy and i were mixing up some brownies when the boy did the unthinkable — and with lightning speed, i would add. my three-year-old chef-in-training stuck a spoon into the whirring blades.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTTTTTTT! there it was.

fortunately, no people were hurt in the process (though the moment is seared unto the boy’s memory. to this very day, he recalls the incident. the day the mixer died.)

so i have been waiting for over four years to one day have a mixer. i ended up with an immersion blender one year, hoping that would do the trick. sure, it was useful for a lot of things (such as mixing up instant pudding), but it just didn’t do what a little hand mixer could do, gently combining ingredients, then raising the speed level to add some air. it had one speed, and that was that.

then, my BS went and bought me the aforementioned black and decker hand mixer for chanukah.

it is truly a lovely machine, with additional wisks for beating eggs and even an attachment which allegedly will help scrape the bowl as i’m mixing — how cool is that? (did i mention that already? sorry. i just am too excited.)  i couldn’t wait to try it out, but it took me a week or two to get a moment to bake something.

so i just had the chance to wash up the beaters, plug it in, and give it a whirl: it was time to break out some pumpkin and make some yummy pumpkin chocolate chip bread. i started out with sugar and butter in the bowl. it was creaming time. i turned on the beaters onto the slowest speed.

WHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sugar and butter pieces flew all over my kitchen. (i may still find pieces of butter in 2011.) wow. if that’s the slowest speed, what speeds come next, i wondered. i checked them out, each level even speedier than the next. add the power boost, and you’ve got a tool that probably has more power in it than my entire kitchen appliance collection combined.

black and decker, power is fantastic i suspect when you’re building something manly-man-like. like, say, a building. but you need to remember that baking sometimes is the art of the gentle. flour simply doesn’t fight too hard; and eggs just aren’t that tough.  i fear this mixer was built for the likes of tim “the toolman” taylor.

please consult an actual baker when you develop these sort of tools. i barely clean my kitchen as it is.

yours,

wreke

pet peeve: people who aren’t thankful on thanksgiving
Nov 25th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

no, really. thank you.

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sure, i picked the leitmotif of pet peeves this month. but that doesn’t conceal the fact that i am very, very grateful for a lot of things. i could list them for days and years. i’ll just list a few off the top of my pointed head.

1) thank you, BC: for being an awesome daughter who somehow gets me in a way that no one else does. you forgive me when i probably deserve a tween shriek thrown at me. you are one of the two greatest gifts i have ever been given, and i never forget that.

2) thank you, jools: for being an incredible son who picks and chooses the strangest moments to change from a delightful little boy into a wizened old man and provide me with a perspective that i sorely need to hear and grasp. you are one of the two greatest gifts i have ever been given, and i don’t ever forget that.

3) thank you, BS: my eternal partner in crime, the statler to my waldorf. you put up with me no matter what. you like me in spite of me being me. you make me laugh. you are always my personal bulldog. and you’ve got the most beautiful eyes i have ever seen. i am so lucky that mark wintle dumped a beer on you and therefore brought you into my life for keeps.

4) thank you mom and dad and aunt barbara: you have always been in my corner, and you have taught me the power of unconditional love. i’ll never be able to tell you fully how much you mean to me, but somehow you always know what i mean when words fail me.

5) thank you to my brothers, who never treated me like a girl but who always treated me as someone who needed to learn to be as tough as nails. i learned so much from both of you; and while i know i continue to get on your nerves in a huge way, i do it because i love you. (you’re welcome.)

6) thanks to my mother-in-law, my dearly-missed father-in-law, and all my husband’s family for treating me like one of your own. i know i’m a little bit odd in comparison to you all, but you’ve always welcomed me with open arms from the word go.

7) thank you to my friends, who seem to like me still. i treasure you.

8 )  thank you to america for taking my great grandparents in. my family has always been fiercely proud of our nation.

9) thank you to the Beatles for making the best music ever.

and last for today, but not least:

10) thank you, gutenberg, for inventing the printing press. for i do so love to read.

happy thanksgiving, everyone!

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pet peeve: people with no follow-through
Nov 24th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

why don’t they do what they say? say what they mean?

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years and years ago, my sister in law inadvertently came up with a nickname for the kind of people my parents, my brothers, and i are. she called us boomerang people. what she meant: when we say we are going to do something, we come right back at you with whatever we said we were going to get or do.  it’s ingrained into our psyches. and it’s just how i thought all people operated. i’m fortunate i’m married to BS, who also always keeps his promises.

unfortunately, as i got older,  i learned that not everyone in the world was trained by my mom and dad.

i’m sure you have experienced that disappointment at work, at school, or with friends: people who just don’t do what they say they will. you were depending on john or jane to deliver, and he or she doesn’t. and you’re screwed. or disappointed. or both. sure, everyone has an off-day of course– sometimes, competing priorities win out.

but particularly if you are a parent, you simply must follow through. if you promise your child you’re going to the park, you go to the park. if you promise your child you’ll help with homework, you help with homework. and if you know you can’t or don’t want to do those things, very simply put:  don’t make those promises.

otherwise, you end up with one messed-up kid. and the consequences will boomerang back onto you and society, and probably not in a pleasant sort of way.

pet peeve: abuse of the word “unique”
Nov 18th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

you are one-of-a-kind. unless, of course, you are schizophrenic.

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to me, unique is an absolute term, meaning unparalleled or without an equivalent. it is nonpareil (and not to be confused with the yummy chocolate candy that features such little white beads.) and when people state that something is VERY unique, it makes me CRA-ZY! and no, i am not some pedantic asshole who looks down from on high; i’m just a person who appreciates proper word usage.

advertisers have trumpeted the word unique, making it mean extraordinary. and yes, something can be extraordinary if it is unique. but being extraordinary doesn’t necessarily mean something is unique — two different concepts. i mean, i think plenty of things are out-of-this-world, but they are also reproducible.

but unique? ah. there’s the difference. the only one.

like this guy:
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and, since it’s november 18, there’s another special guy who completely fits the bill:

happy birthday, BS!

pet peeve: people who take their kids to nice restaurants late in the evening
Nov 12th, 2010 by wrekehavoc

nope. mcdonalds does not count.

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i have this somewhat controversial idea about childrearing. in short: i believe that when you have small children, you often have to make some small sacrifices, albeit temporary, in order to put others’ needs ahead of your own. one of those ideas involves taking babies or young children out to non-family-oriented restaurants after the hour of 8pm. (i’m talking about restaurants you might consider for a date — if it doesn’t offer kiddy menus, it’s fair game.)

my thinking about this is not terribly complex. for starters, this is a baby or young child, a little person who craves a regular schedule. that regular schedule includes a fairly regular bedtime. (yes, i am aware that some children wake all night long; i have two of them. but starting them out with a consistent bedtime starts you down the path toward nighttime sanity.) i know some parents work late hours, and the evening may be one of the few times they get to see their child all day. but for whose benefit is that — yours or the child’s? in my guilt-ridden, hormonal days as a young working mother, i needed reminding by my own mother that it was the quality, not the quantity of time that i spent with my child that mattered. maybe this means, for you later-to-return-home people, waking up a little earlier in the morning when the child wakes and reading to them or snuggling with them. maybe it means carving out sacred time in the week or weekend upon which no one else may intrude. or maybe, if it is really a problem, it’s time to rethink how you earn your money.

but i get really annoyed by the people who tell me that this is their only time to eat as a family — and so they go out to eat with a baby at 9pm at some adult-friendly restaurant. hello? should the baby really be out that late? if you don’t want to cook, perhaps you ought to pick up takeout earlier and enjoy it at home and let baby get well-deserved rest.

the other parties i am thinking of here are the diners without children (or who did not bring their children with them) at said aforementioned nice restaurant. guess what: if i am out on a date with my husband, the last thing i want to hear is your child shrieking while i am attempting to have a much-needed chat with my Beloved Spouse. nor, would i add, do i want to smell your progeny’s diaper contents or feel your toddler smacking me as he runs uncontrollably around the place.  i have come here specifically for time alone with my husband; if i am here, then i have spent actual money on a babysitter — and the days of sitters charging $1/hour were gone 30 years ago. i have specifically come here because there is no child menu. so the last thing i want to experience is your overtired and stressed child, who probably would be much happier drooling her way through soft foods on her own turf.

when my kids were very small, we tried very hard to enforce an 8pm bedtime. when we went out to dinner, we went to places where children were welcomed and accommodated. it’s not hard to do. yes, we had to endure some meals that were not fabulous; but overall, it worked well for our little family. the kids were happy; we were happy; and somewhere, at various local watering holes, we’d like to think that others dining out were happy, too. it was a small sacrifice for only a few years.

of course, there are those who think their babies can travel anywhere at any time. their world won’t change just because they became parents. the baby just comes along, like a little accessory.

i feel so sorry for their kids.


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