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rosh hash, or how i need to watch my honey
Sep 17th, 2012 by wrekehavoc

so here we are, day one.

i’ve been writing down my food like a champ. we of course ran out of milk, so i broke out the almond milk and mixed it up with my protein powder,  the new stuff (designer whey) which i don’t like so much. (i like this, but it ain’t cheap.) i ended up walking some paperwork into school’s front office, and from there, i hit the store to get some groceries.  so much for dropping him off and working out, right?

ah well. after getting the brisket into the crockpot and getting carrots chopped for tzimmes (both inherently diet-friendly foods — not!), i finally went for a walk/run in the hood which was 30 minutes long or so, 30 minutes that was sheer ow on my knees. (this is what i get for not going go shul on yom tov. G-d is not amused.) it’s not a marathon, but it’s a start. and i did get out there.

and good thing i did, too; for at the stroke of 12:30ish, i saw those familiar digits show up on caller ID: the school nurses’ office. the boy is sick. nothing earth-shattering, of course — basically, his allergies were so bad that he had already been through an entire box of tissues and was threatening to use a forest-full by day’s end. after actually arguing with him in the clinic, i could tell that he felt pretty lousy. so now, he is home, on antihistimines, and knows the drill: no TV, no video games, no nothing fun until the school day is over. (i’m mean like that.)

so he’s having a giggle with his 30-minute reading assignment. and hell, since he has time to kill, he is working on another 30 minute reading assignment for later this week. little does he know that i would kill to get 60 whole minutes just to read for pleasure. (well, i do get that once every four weeks: it’s called getting hooked up to an IV.) i told him if he did that reading PLUS the reading log work, then i would give him 30 minutes off for good behavior. and lo and behold, it is done.

of course, in the midst of this, i am trying to work and cook. mom, jools yells, you know, i could teach you how to play pokemon right now. it’s really fun.

little boy, do you think i sit around and eat bonbons when you aren’t here?

so now, i’m stressed. and i’m trying not to eat for fun and profit.

and also when i get stressed out, i bake. it being rosh hash, i am baking honey cake — well, a honey cake that is supposed to be honey cupcakes.  see, the recipe looks a bit lighter than the usual, heavy as a brick honey cake. i just don’t feel like something heavy — not that i should be eating it, anyway. but between the honey in the tzimmes, the honey in the cake, and, well, pretty much everything has honey in it (note to the non-jews in the crowd: it’s SYMBOLISM. you know, starting a year sweetly!), it isn’t going to be easy making my calories conform.

i guess i will stick with apples dipped in honey and call it a day.

it’s not a perfect food/fitness day, but i guess i am at least conscious of things.

happy new year to all who celebrate.

junk
Nov 27th, 2011 by wrekehavoc

planning ahead can be cute.

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i’ve written before about jools and his BFF M, who decided to marry when they were in kindergarten and then decided to be BFFs instead last year.  she is so very sweet to him and seems to understand him in a way that no one else seems to do.

today, M and jools had a playdate. jools thought about changing his shirt before he went; he wanted to look (his) best, he said, though he wouldn’t elaborate. when we were getting into the car, he ran suddenly back into the car. he ran back out about a minute later. when i asked him what he did, he told me that he had taken a piece of candy from his halloween bag for M and one for him.  if he had done that for anyone else, i think i would have wondered about ulterior motives; but when it comes to M, i know he just simply adores her.

anyway, after i picked him up from the playdate, i asked him what they did. we just spun around and around, he said, and we had a snack.

oh, he added, we decided that when we have kids, we are gonna let them eat all the junk food they want as long as they don’t get sick.

ah, yes.  nothing telling in that statement.

into the mystic
Nov 15th, 2011 by wrekehavoc

And when that fog horn blows I will be coming home

And when the fog horn blows I want to hear it

I don’t have to fear it

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yesterday morning, i had two aunts. today, i have only one. my father’s sister, my aunt sandy, passed away yesterday. she had not been well, but i guess none of us had expected she would pass so suddenly. my dad had just spoken to her around lunch time, and while she didn’t sound like she felt so well, it was still a shock. my uncle billy, they said, had gone out on his boat fishing, a probably much-needed break from looking after a sick spouse.  if he had gone fishing, then of course he must have thought she was in a safe place.

but aunt sandy was always full of surprises, all the way to the end.

my aunt sandy was a tough, tough lady. standing maybe 5 feet tall and weighing probably 90 pounds soaking wet, she was a real straight-shooter of a lady. you asked her a question; she’d tell you what she thought in her gravelly, smoke-laced voice.  i suspect she may have had some issues with food, but i never dared ask her.  my memory of her usually brings me to her long island home, where we would spend time with my uncle and their two kids, who happen to be the only first cousins i actually have.

people sometimes look askance at me when i talk about cousins i have who are really 2nd or third cousins.  but when you have only two first cousins, you tend to look at any blood relatives all in the same breath — they are blood, so they are mine and i am theirs.  and in my opinion, you can never have enough people to love and who might love you back in this life. but my memories of these two cousins include how hilariously funny my elder cousin was (and is) and how blonde my younger cousin was (and i suspect, still is.) i remember wondering why my younger cousin got the blonde genes until my mother explained that my cousins were adopted. then, i thought my aunt and uncle were pretty damn cool for picking us some really wonderful people to be cousins with. i haven’t seen my cousins in a long, long while, which is a shame.

but i carry some memories of them, and my uncle, and my aunt. if i was unlucky, i spent time with my younger cousin kicking my legs (or my mom’s legs until the day my mom kicked back) under the table. if i was lucky, my uncle billy would take us out on his boat and we’d explore the places where he went fishing. sometimes, the only cousins from my father’s side that i ever really knew — temmi, rozzie, and rozzie’s husband dave — would visit and bring their warmth and humor with them.  those three are gone now, too.

this whole business of becoming the adult generation in my family is not fun.

anyway, i’m blessed that my parents are still here; and i’m further blessed because i prefer to think mostly of the happy, goofy side of our visits to my aunt. and so, to keep from being maudlin, i’ll share my favorite — and probably Middlebro’s favorite — aunt sandy story.

i preface this by saying that Middlebro, while good humored, doesn’t like being told what to do and what to eat. this was especially pronounced in his days as a young man. this, you need to know, is important information.

anyway, we journeyed out one summer afternoon to my aunt’s house. my aunt, bless her heart, had some of those aforementioned issues with food, so you never could tell what was in her pantry and whether it was still at a point of deliciousness. in visits past, we always tried to eat before we came in order to sidestep this particular challenge; but for reasons i don’t remember, we went to her house bringing some food. my elder cousin, knowing her mother all too well, took great pains to give us the lowdown: rozzie brought dish A, temmi brought dish B, and so on. this way, we knew how to politely avoid the foods which my aunt had prepared, despite our pleas that we would gladly bring food in so that she would not need to trouble herself.

but trouble herself she did; she baked a chocolate cake. now, my cousin, who is almost the exact same age as Middlebro, clued us in on the cake. so we surreptitiously passed around the information, like a game of telephone, that my dear aunt had prepared the chocolate cake. ::wink wink::  no one wanted to hurt her feelings, so we all just ate our fill of other things and then were too full for dessert.

except for Middlebro. Middlebro, seeing the delicious-looking cake, sliced himself a hunk. my mother, trying to spare him from impending, yucky doom, walked up to him quietly and said: don’t eat the cake.

my brother, feeling full of early-20-something male brass and bravado, thought my mother trying to tell him what to do, and in short, he was not amused. don’t tell me what i can and what i can’t eat, he hissed back at her.  my brother, a single, successful guy, was not going to have his mother dictate his food choices.

so Middlebro took his fork, sliced off a piece from his hard-fought baked good,  and put it indignantly in his mouth. the taste, he later said, was something cardboard-like and definitely not fresh. he chewed the bit slowly and forced himself to swallow it as my mother watched. then, he leaned in close to my mother so that she would definitely hear his sage words of victory.

and Middlebro said: don’t eat the chocolate cake.

i tell this story not to be rude and disrespectful of my aunt but, in fact, to somehow let her know that she was definitely loved by all of us. i didn’t know her as well as i would have liked; but i did know her. she was definitely one of a kind — a person who stands out in our family lore — and i know i will miss her.

Hark, now hear the sailors cry

Smell the sea and feel the sky

Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic

ripples
Nov 13th, 2011 by wrekehavoc

ripples never come back.

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last night, we tried a new chi chi pizza place.  BC, approaching 13, is pretty open to trying any new place, although this being a pizza place, there’s not any problem with her discovering and trying something new, in this case, a pannini sandwich. jools, firmly planted as an 8 year old dude who doesn’t eat fruit so don’t even try, okay?, was content to share a white pizza with me so long as they took off anything remotely green (basil, which he usually likes, spinach, which he also likes, so why are we removing green things again?) my half was supposed to included additional broccoli and mushrooms, but his side was to remain pristine.  and of course, BS ordered a calzone with something porcine that the rest of us, red sea pedestrians, could not and would not eat.

this restaurant cleverly had some board and card games for families to play while they await their food (which, i would add, is sufficient time to finish two games of uno. at least.) as we sat around, playing cards and arguing over the rules, i managed to glance over at a family a table over from us. their oldest, a girl, looked no more than about four. their younger child, in a high chair, could not have been much over two. their kids stil in pre-game-playing mode, they looked over at us, slightly wistfully, as if they wished they were playing a card game as we were.

i smiled back at them. it will happen soon enough.

we were that family once.

feed me (git it?)
Nov 5th, 2011 by wrekehavoc

…because breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

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jools never used to be the pickiest eater on the planet. in fact, he will eat (and enjoy) random things, like salmon tikka. but the boy will not eat fruit, nope. and the boy refuses to down yogurt. while he will sometimes eat a scrambled egg, options start to get limited here. and i was tired of feeding him cocoa krispies, which is what the boy really wants.

so i let my fingers do the walking, and i found a recipe for double chocolate pancakes from the site feeding my kids better.  yeah yeah yeah, i know. feeding them chocolate chips for breakfast is not exactly health food. but there are good things, like eggs and milk in there. and any time the boy goes to school with a full belly, well, fist pumps all around.

anyway, i made some yesterday afternoon and set them out to cool. (and yes, i used my beloved guittard cocoa rouge powder in them.) the boy came home from school and was famished, probably because i put the kibosh on his buying cookies (to go with his lunch, which consists of a few snacks that all are acceptable — this week — on this list.) so i warmed up a pancake.

he loved it.

he asked for more.

BC came home from school on the late bus. girlfriend tried one and ended up eating THREE.

okay, okay, so i’m not feeding them sugar-free, natural perfection. but i think we have a keeper.

sadly, i don’t have a picture. (people kept on eating them.) so close your eyes, and imagine a brownish pancake with chocolate chips…

hungry like the wolf
Nov 4th, 2011 by wrekehavoc

…and apparently raised by one, too.

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there was an absurd story in the Post the other day about a woman who was arrested at a Safeway for shoplifting. to be more precise, she is a pregnant woman with a toddler who bought two sandwiches and started eating one while she shopped. she allegedly saved the wrapper, but she ended up walking out without paying for the sandwich. not only did she end up arrested, but they took her toddler overnight.  Safeway ultimately apologized to the woman and decided not to prosecute.

i’m sure the whole taking the toddler overnight part of this story is beyond overkill. and of course, arresting a pregnant woman gets a lot of people feeling sympathetic — oh, you get so hungry sometimes when you’re pregnant. oh, sometimes, you just get a little fuzzy when you’re pregnant.

really? i’ve had two kids, and while there were plenty of times i was starving or even slightly hormonal (okay, i was more than slightly hormonally delusional when i suggested to BS that we name BC this), i always had the presence of mind to behave like a mannered, decent human being. (at least, as decent and as mannerly as i am capable of being.) i didn’t start eating in stores prior to paying for my food because i was so ravenous, which is what the Post parenting blogger gave as an excuse. i didn’t blame things on my condition other than the physicalities that were obviously due to being huge — and even then, that’s part of the bargain you make when you decide to have a baby.  i walked around with feet that ultimately stretched a half size larger; a belly that probably has never been the same, and some little person kicking the crap out of my innards. it isn’t comfortable, and at times, i was a surly madame because of it; but it doesn’t give me license to do stuff i know i ought not to. should we lock up the preggers ladies until they are 6 weeks post-partum and come back to their senses?

which brings me to my next point/pet peeve: people who eat and/or give their kids food prior to paying for it in stores.

so boohoo: poor hungry pregnant woman ate her sandwich in the store. if she was that bloody hungry, she should have bought the food, taken it outside (it’s freaking Honolulu, not Maine) where there’s always a bench, and eaten it. then, tackle shopping with your blood sugar feeling much happier, lady. i’m tired of people teaching their kids that it’s okay to take something off a store’s shelf and eat it while you haven’t yet paid for it. here’s the thing you need to remind yourself: it doesn’t belong to you until you’ve paid for it. i’m sure there are plenty of times where the people forget to pay for their food. and whether it is done intentionally or not, it costs the store money, a cost which is passed on to the rest of us.

and i’m not paying so that your toddler can chomp on a granola bar because you don’t know how to deal with a toddler (or however many you have) in a supermarket.  there are some parenting challenges you really need to work on. if it’s too difficult to take them, then use grocery delivery. otherwise, you need to put on your big girl and big boy panties and take some responsibility for teaching your kids the proper way to behave in public.

here’s an idea: if you’re taking young kids to the supermarket, make sure they’ve had a snack before you go. or, if you really think they need to eat in the shopping cart seat, bring a snack in a container that makes it obvious that it came from home. and for the love of Dog, please make it something that won’t slime up the grocery cart. i’m tired of grabbing a cart only to get a handful of mashed bananas and kid snot and who knows what else.

and if you, the adult, can’t delay your gratification and feel the strong urge to eat while you shop, then you need to grow the fuck up. now.

oh, and one more thing: if that’s the latter happens to be the case, please don’t breed anymore. you’re making the wolves lo0k like really excellent parents.

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: 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.

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 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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