Saturday, December 30, 2006

Goodness Gracious...

Great Pizza of Fire!

So I wasn't kidding about the fire alarm going off. And this happened with frozen pizza and the kids asleep.

I'm thinking it's time to clean the oven, too. My brilliant deduction stems from the fact that even when I don't char my meals, the alarm still goes off due to Christmas Eve pie stuck under the irons (from three years ago...)

Some serious scrubbing better start if I'm to begin my regime next week.

Any takers?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Our Lady of Sonoma

My mother-in-law works at William Sonoma. She looks like Linda Evans - Think Barbie crossed with AARP. At 55 she has fewer wrinkles than a porcelain gravy boat (which you can buy at William Sonoma for the price of a down payment on a condo… the gravy boat, not the wrinkle cure.)

She’s scary organized and I’ve not once seen her lose her cool. While I like reds, browns and anything orange or, as my mom likes to say “brothel decor", Rex's mother is a big fan of tans, creams, sage greens and “mellow yellows”.

I recently discovered one major flaw, though: Christmas morning, as I sat surrounded in more holiday paper than J-Lo’s had husbands, I shrieked in horror to find that, in a fit of insanity, my kids' traditionally cool headed grandmother bought me a $400.00 pot and pan set.

They are Caphalon - so nice that apparently you can’t even put them in the dishwasher. (Mama P translation: Not only do I get to poison my family with my cooking, but I get to verifiably kill them when I leave raw meat stuck to the pan for days on end from my fabulous “hand wash” job. Ask my husband… I don’t do very good hand jobs. What? I’m talking about cleaning, you pervs.) I'm thinking I better refrain from their artistic doubles as paint buckets, mud spinners, mop rinsers or turtle washes. (Yes, I do have a 3 legged turtle, but that's a blog for another day.)

In homage to this trust my impeccable in-law has placed in me (and more than one nod to Rex that I had better not destroy the new dishware) I am, beginning next week...

Cue music…

Turning into a housewife.

I fully expect to end up prostrate on the floor, praying to Our Lady of William Sonoma and asking why Bisquick is not an adequate flour substitute. But now, in the comfort of my office, with caffeine bubbling in my system and Rex's spicy sausage pepper sandwiches churning in my tummy, I have high hopes of meal planning each week for health and budget.

Am I an overachiever? Ah, duh.

If ya’ll want to try it with me, here’s the theme for the week. To make cooking fun! Lots of exclamations! Oooh, the fire alarm is going off! Yeah!

* Meat Monday
* Taco Tuesday
* Whatever Wednesday (this means some wacky new recipe!)
* Tomato Thursday (Translation: Italian or stuffed peppers of some sort… anything using a sauce)
* Frozen Friday (Translation: Give myself a break day with a frozen pizza, burritos, something preferably healthy)
* Sandwich Saturday (If you can’t figure this out on your own, then I suggest you start your week off with Saturday so you can decompress, eat and restore brain cells.)
* Stew or Soup Sunday (Using a crock pot if you have one)

Some of the menus I will keep from week to week for easy family pleasers (“easy family pleasers?” Good, God, I am turning into that puffy southern tv cook whose perfume you can smell through your Tivo… please shoot me. NOW.)

Unlike the puffy southern peroxide chef, however, my goal is to weave like ingredients throughout all the dishes each week to make preparation easy. Pick a day to do your slicing and dicing a la Rachael Ray, because then it makes it easier for the rest of the week. But if you use the words “Eevo” or “garbage bowl” I am going to duck your head into my Cusinart, hit “Go”, put on Dora and laugh laugh laugh a la Swiper the Fox who has just farted into Abuela's tamale pie.

For the bonus point, I’m attempting to add some sort of veggie into each dish. Tomato sauce counts as a veggie, so just get over that one. So do frozen peas, canned corn and McDonald Apple Dippers.

Tune in tomorrow for the January menu - Weak One.

I mean, Week 1.

The "weak one" will be me who will be exhausted before she's even started the grocery list.

Oh, and did I mention this is going to be done for 100 bucks/week?

Who's with me? It'll be more fun than Mama P with an Epidural in her back, Diet coke in her hand.

Did you hear that sound? It's Rex, cleaning the bottom of the pans with "Bar Keepers Friend". After my cooking, he better become friends with a bar keeper.

In closing, let me remind Texas Lizzy that you're doing this with me. You promised.

Texas Dottie, you're as as tall as me, and if your daughter in law fails in her obligations, I give you full permission to ride on over there on your horse, tractor, or whatever you wacky Texans ride and beat her silly with the spatulas I sent to her kids for Christmas.

And Mrs. V, don't think that because you teach Sunday School you're getting out of this. If you can make a Gxx Dxxed pumpkin cheese spinach quesadilla thing a ma bobby, you can do this, too.

And Cecelia, your "I'm a vegetarian and I'll be traveling" doesn't cut the mustard either. (Okay, maybe it does. But screw off in advance for not playing.)

Stopping now.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Our Children

"See them running down the beach

Children run so fast

Toward the future, from the past.

There they stand

Making footprints in the sand,

And forever hand in hand,Our children

Two small lives

Silhouetted by the blue

One like me

And one like you" Ragtime

Happy 2007 - may you enjoy every moment, hand in hand, heart to heart, laughing like children.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Office Space

It's two days before Christmas and I've done what any good mother would do: cleaned out my office in preparation for paint and shelving in 2007.

I'm thinking a prepped mama makes a happy mama which makes a productive mama which makes a query writing fiend mama which means landing many magazine gigs mama which makes happy kids.

Happy happy happy...

Now excuse me while I put my obsessive compulsive gene to some positive use by running a tooth brush over my 1987 leather rolling chair wheels.

Somebody has to.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pipsqueak O

Thanks to KD in San Fran for the Shift/enter tip on spaces in paragraphs. Didn't work. Probably something simple that I can get Rex on when he comes home from the coal mines.

Speaking of KD, while I love that she sends my kids vintage Scoobies and wacky spectacles, they are causing havoc in my dressing routine. God forbid we leave the house without the "Pink Glasses!" It's also below freezing in L.A. (Translation: 68 degrees). Pip insists on taking off her pajamas and running around in a loin cloth Pamper. When I tell her she's going to be cold, she replies "No, I have my glasses to keep me warm."

And now a runny nose.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Laughing Club

Stink has initiated an institution in this house called The Laughing Club. Membership is free, but giggling is required.
Tummy busters include, but aren't limited to: The "Double Dryoff", knock-knock jokes, questions like "Do you like to eat houses?" "Do you like to eat the sidewalk?" "Do you like to eat... (You get the idea. If you answer in the affirmative? Ooooh, lawdy, watch out for the guffaws.)
Second runner up is the belch following behind the numero uno top biller: the fart.
I'd mention their love of toilet humor, but my mother informed me that the last five posts spoke of poo poo in some form or another - bordering on obscene. In deference to her 76 years of life, I will list in the paragraph below actions that take precedence over crap in this house.
Sorry, Mom.
(PS: I hate this new blogger.. anyone know why it doesn't publish spaces or paragraphs?)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Playing with Paint

I'm thinking I'll delete this holiday card option.

Green Colored Glasses

You down with PTP? Yeah you know me!

Mama P is IN. THE. HOUSE. And she brings with her a new band: PTP - the Positive Thinking Police. Here's the new law in this joint: If I'm sad about something legitimate, I can cry more than Pipsqueak losing a shoe. But if my brain is just being dramatic, it's going in isolation, the death chamber... whatever will shut the insane ramblings up.

To be clear, I do not hear voices. I'm far from psychotic and more skit-so-frenic... meaning I can write a million scenes and endings (always frantically) for some very mundane thoughts. It's the writer in me: great for storytelling, but not so great for emotions which tend to take on lives of their own, the leading characters being Depression, Anxiety, and never to be underestimated, La Drama!

The new starring players are Positive, Hope and Faith. It's, in a nutshell, glorious.

I of course will falter again and again as I retrain my head muscle to focus on the "what is's", not "what if's." But after only three days, I feel 100% better. The brain really is a powerful device and, as always, there's the fine balance between squashing true emotions ("I'm mourning my dad's death") and bizarre projections ("I love the Christmas decoration tradition I started... but what if Pip swallows one and we end up in ER? And even if she is okay, will I remember Xmas each year as the day she had to poop out a green nutcracker? And will she be so traumatized that she hates the holidays and becomes sullen and angry each year? In which case, would my money have been better served saving for therapy instead of the 'Three for a Buck Holiday Bulbs' sale at the 99Cent Store?")

A woman in my online forum has a weekly online column dedicated to healthy living. She talks about this in one of her November posts and I encourage you to check her out. Even if you're like me who doesn't know yoga from ca-ca and thinks organtic eating is Frosted Flakes with some granola. She makes a ton of sense.

I leave you with the invitation to view the world through some new glasses today. If Pip can take off her pink shades for some green ones (a miracle in itself rivaling Helen Keller's sign language for coffee... wait, that was my sign language) you can try it to.

And get back to me.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

No Small Poop

Today Pip, never one to conform to convention, decided that, in the middle of a crowded holiday toddler party, she "needed to go pooo nooooow." What's a mama to do but drop her pumpkin bread and haul booty to the "baby toilet" where Pip proceeds to hold the wall for support and squeeze out a number rivaling a Trader's Jo cheese log?

Moral of the story: sometimes, even when it is inconvenient, you must relieve your shit in a productive manner. Your life will be less smelly, your clothes will look fresher, and you won't be labeled as someone full of crap.

The Zen of Toilet Training. Look for it on the Best Smellers List next holiday season.

You know life is feeling better for me when I'm making poop analogies. Hope your day was flush with excitement, too. Oooh, I'm on a toilet roll.

Someone, make me stop. Get the plunger!

Anyone Got Some Weed?

With Rex at a business dinner and Pip sleeping at the rare hour of 5PM, Stink and I took it upon ourselves to clean up the front garden last night.
Lest you think Martha Stewart has invaded my little cul de sac of anxiety, let me inform you that by "garden" I mean "geraniums." And by "clean up" I mean "hack the crap" out of weeds the size of Clifford the Big Red Dog's sidewalk turds.

The wind was howling, and what began as a minor exercize to keep Stink from falling into a tv coma transformed into an all out war against petal sucking crab grass.

Pausing at a particularly stubborn root, Stink lay down his plastic hoe. "These weeds are bad to the flowers, huh Mommy?" Sensing the perfect parenting opportunity, I explained that weeds are like bad deeds and how we must destroy them to enjoy the flowers. Me: "Like today, when Albert took your sunglasses away." Stink, forlorn: "And I cried!!!" Me: "Yes, you were sad. Albert's act was that of a weed. And you're a flower!" At which he laughed, then quite indignantly said, "I'm not a flower! I'm a kid!"

Now tired of my analogy, he abandoned the flower bed for the more helpful task of throwing dried leaves into the SUV console. But as I labored on, I took to heart the very lesson I was telling Stink. If I allow the the weeds of negative thought - the roots of "what if" - to crowd my brain, I will never enjoy the garden of the present: my children, the holidays, and the new memories that can bloom.

So simple, but true. And of course, being the neurotic freak that I am, I will falter again and again as I retrain my brain to accept the present and future, not the past. But as I told Stink, gardens don't grow over night. Unless you live in Hollywood and can build a plastic oasis instantly on your soundstage. Which is how I used to see gardens. Which is why my fantasy thinking is so screwed up in the first place.

Away with you, rambling brain! Do you people see how I can get myself crazy!? Time to take out the mental plow and till till till.
Un-till tomorrow, peeps. Happy gardening.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ho Ho Hum

I don't know what it is about Christmas this year. Normally I'm as cheery as Santa on lithium, but this year, the Grinch has taken hold of my heart with both paws and is spitting onto my anatomically correct gingerbread men. Don't get me wrong, I'm fighting it. Pop on by and you'll see a house with halls decked and canes candied. I even got the tree at the very beginning of the month so that wafts of pine could find its way into my nostrils, reminding me of Xmases past.

And therein lies the rub.

The Xmases past had my dad there. And all my parents' friends, all gathered gaily around the table in my childhood home. And, quite babyish I admit, all I had to do was show up and enjoy it.

Now with two young ones running around, it's my job to create the memories. Always one to embrace work, no one is more suprised than me that I'm suddenly being hit with a yule tide of emotions. Although my dad died three years ago on Thanksgiving, it was hard to really embrace his passing. Stink was nine months old and Pip was on her way. But, as fate would have it, lucky me gets to be slammed with grief at the height of baking and shopping. Joy to the world!

My mom has been great. Rex took the day off today to just hang out and let me sleep. That helped. (No sleep in three years will do a number on ya, too.)

I'm trying to remember to pray. And count my blessings. And of course to see the gift within the yuk... that if I feel sort of despondent these days - questioning life and what it's all for - with all my blessings - imagine what others who have so much less than me are going through? As soon as I get my verve back, I'm volunteering my time doing something. Anything. Life is too short for such dramatics.

I'm putting my cards on the table that God has a plan for me. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Morning Person

It's 5am. I'm attempting to switch my schedule around. I figure if the kids sleep until 7, why not use the first two hours of the day to write? I can sit in front of the Xmas tree, peruse magazines, and sip my coffee without having to explain, "No, we can't lick the face off the 1960's nutcracker... Why? Because we can't. And I need the ten bucks to help out Santa, not Kaiser, when you need the glass pinecone dislodged from your lower intestine."

Then again, by tomorrow, I'll probably be woken in a stupor by Stink leaning over me, asking "Mommy, why are you drooling over the snowman pillow? And can you turn on Scooby? But first... wipe my butt."

As usual, I'm a woman conflicted. One side of brain: "I love these kids so much I could eat them." Other side of brain: "If I can't poop without requests for goldfish I will lose my mind."

I know the kids are young only once, and I don't want to look back over this time and think, I should have enjoyed them more. I don't think I will, because the truth is, I do so love these kids. Not one regret. Every day they are growing into emotional and responsible people who surprise me, enlighten me, and truly entertain me. But of course, I miss the small part of Mama P who enjoys being enlightened, suprised and entertained by, well, Mama P. (By things other than Elmo and grilled cheese sandwiches.)

So, once again, I'm putting on my war gear to go after that elusive enemy and friend: balance.

Which me luck - I'll be brave.

Or sleeping.

Monday, December 04, 2006