Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How I Lost 11 Inches in a Day

I did something drastic recently. Yes, drastic.

I lost 11 inches.

And I'm not talking waist line (not that I couldn't use it).

I'm for sure not talking height or I'd be writing to you propped up on a couple of phone books like I did in driver's ed (cuz I'd be 4'1).

Read on, friends...

You gotta love a place that gives out Blo Pops to every client. This, plus the massage shampoo chairs, wine, and water with a slice of lemon, fantastic music, and oh, the awesome staff and haircuts too. This place is totally worth the drive. And you know that means a lot from me because I rarely leave my five mile radius of convenience.

This is the scene of the incident. Where I took drastic measures. But thankfully not into my own hands.

This is me. I'm wearing a cape, which is as close to a super hero as I'll ever get. Please ignore my dark circles. I blame my mother for them. As in genetics, not that she's personally responsible for my stress and lack of sleep.

Meet Rachael. She freaking rocks. She's a hot mama of two. And did I mention she rocks? If I had a million dollars to blo (get it? ha ha!) I'd build a house for Rachael right next to mine so she could do my hair everyday and be my Ken Paves.

Here's my 11 inches. My ponytail died a peaceful death surrounded by supportive friends and the bass of an awesome farewell soundtrack.

This is me feeling freedom for the first time in years. This style might have worked in the 80s with the whole bi-level shag thing going on. But Rachael wouldn't leave me hanging like that. And wow does my hair look shiny. Must be the flash.

See how happy I am. I don't usually go around hugging my stylist, but this outcome deserved it.

Check us out. A picture of perfection. My smile is not fake. Rachael's might be because I think I am encroaching on her personal space and I'm not wearing that protective cape. Also, do you see how we are both short? I love friends who don't tower over me. I don't experience that often. I do, however, think this hair style makes me look tall. OK, tallish.

And voila! Me. Rocking a short do and loving it. LOVING it! I need new earrings and necklaces now. Another reason to shop. Just what Mac Daddy wants to hear.

And those 11 inches didn't end up in a Hefty garbage bag or clogging some drain. They're on their way to Locks of Love. My shorn locks will be made into a wig for a lucky kid somewhere. Hopefully not for someone with naturally blonde eyebrows.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Paying it Forward

So the movie Pay it Forward actually kinda sucked. Am I wrong here? I mean Helen Hunt rocked it in her Mad About You days, and Haley Joel Osment was still cute then, but overall this movie blew chunks.

But the concept of paying it forward has really stuck with me. Call it karma. Call it divine justice. Call it what you will.

Case in point:

A tow headed young boy of four asks Santa for a train set for Christmas. The real deal. With lights, pretend steam blowing from the engine, tiny faux trees and conductors, a track that doesn't break if someone creaks on the floor next to it. A Lionel. Unparalled in the world of trainmanship. Yes, I realize that's not a word. Work with me and don't act as if you don't know what I mean. This little boy just wants a train set. A perfect train set. And so his grandmother goes on a hunt. A hunt for a steal. More than a bargain. She's become a highway robber.

Goodwill is about to answer this tow headed boy's dreams. Grandma finds a complete train set in fine working condition. For 90 bucks. Oh, excessive for a four-year old, but answering his dreams on Christmas morning is priceless. Thanks for ruining that term, by the way, MasterCard. Grandma collects the various cars, tracks, and accoutrements. She lugs it all to the counter and starts counting out her cash in fives and tens. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty...Eighty. Sounds of rifling through change, receipts, business cards, expired McDonald's coupons, to-do lists fill the air that seems to stand still. A lousy ten dollars short. No train for her fair haired grandson. Shoulders slumped, face forlorn, she gathers the pieces to return them to their spot on the shelf in back.

In sashays an old friend. "Why the long face?" she asks.

Grandma can barely summon an answer. She manages to faintly gesture to the train and mutters something about her four-year old grandson asking Santa for a train set. She's defeated and lacks the energy to catch up on niceties with this old chum.

"Ten bucks?! Why here's ten dollars! Merry Christmas to you and your grandson!"

And so the universe winked in its wily way, reminding her who's in charge.

You see, a few weeks ago this grandmother met a man at Goodwill. This very same shop. A man clean from months of treatment and job training. A man about to graduate to a new, sober life. He wanted to dress the part of success. He had borrowed a tie and had gently used pants in hand. Now if only he could find a collared shirt in which the collar buttoned snugly without choking his Adam's apple when he gulped. He relayed his story in casual yet ripely emotional conversation as they both pecked through the racks of discarded Joseph A. Banks oxford shirts. He hadn't enough money for a proper shirt and he dragged his feet as he somberly walked away, feeling spent, tired, sad,defeated once again.

Grandma slipped him a ten spot.

And the universe paid her back. Sobering indeed.
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fondue is Fun to Do!

Who doesn't like to play with their food and dip their morsels into sauces of all kinds? Fondue is the perfect fun family meal. We map it all out so it's safe, mind you. And while I have germ issues of all kinds, I can roll up sleeves and get into some fondue. I'm eating family after all, not a bunch of strangers in a Swiss cafe.

We, with our Wisconsin roots, use cheese, not oil or broth. It's admittedly not as heart healthy, but what kid (or ahem, grown up) doesn't like cheese?! I melt the cheese on the stove top first (some crushed garlic, grated gruyere or swiss, a bit of flour, milk, white wine) and transfer it to the fondue pot with a lit tea light instead of the sterno stuff. Then I give each person a plate of bite size goodies to dip and devour.

Par steamed broccoli florets, sliced apples and pears, cubes of ham, chunks of sourdough bread, quarters of vidalia onions, snap peas, zucchini rounds. I also give the boys a ramekin of lemon garlic butter and a dijon vinaigrette (ranch dressing would be fine too) for dipping. They scarf down their veggies and have a blast playing with their food. Be warned, it is an ordeal simply choosing a fondue fork that is just the right color.

Melted chocolate in individual ramekins is a delightful end to a fondue dinner. We use strawberries, bananas, angel food or pound cake, madelines (those cakey French cookies that are amazing from Costco!), kiwi, pineapple chunks, and marshmallows.

The best part about fondue is that it's a lingering dinner, which means more family time.

Cross posted at Foodie Mama.
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

5:00 Fridays

Hot damn! I was too wrapped up, so to speak, to stay on top of my blogging this past week. Hence I totally missed my 5:00 Fridays post. Head bashing on wall right now.

Both Bird and Deal got bottles of hot sauce in their Christmas stockings. And yes, they both use it. On eggs. Pizza. Tacos. Quiche. Chili. Grilled chicken. Ribs. Sometimes popcorn. This spicy mama is proud to have equally spicy boys.

So today's cocktail, albeit a tardy one, is a:

Spicy Martini

1 shot of gin (I'd go with Tanqueray for this one.)
1 oz vermouth
10-15 drops Tabasco

Shake the gin and vermouth with ice in a shaker. Pour into a martini glass. Add drops of Tabasco into the shaken drink. Stir ever so slightly. Garnish with a whole pickled jalepeno pepper.

Sizzle. Sizzle. Sizzle.
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Monday, December 22, 2008

When Wrapping Becomes Obscene

Bird goes to a Go Green school. It is one of many reasons we adore his elementary school. And oh, do we adore it! His teacher (who rocks!) and principle share ideas with us every week to help us treat the earth in a gentler and kinder way. It's wonderful to see my children engaged in protecting the environment. What astounds me is the vernacular in their young conversations. Recycle. Reuse. Land fill. Soil content. Run off. Pollution. I assure you that I did not know these terms until about college when we started recycling all those Beast cans and bottle of white zin for the times we were feeling fancy. The other thing that makes me take note is that all of us, including the smallest of children, can have a hand, and indeed a responsibility, to help clean up our planet. The smallest, most inconsequential of acts can be enormous in aggregate. And by teaching our children a green lifestyle, we are giving them a gift. A gift of responsibility, civic engagement, sense of community, and a cleaner, healthier earth.

Christmas is perhaps the most un-Green of holidays, despite its evergreens and color scheme. The tinsel, garland, bows, plastic lawn ornaments, energy sucking light displays, blow up lawn art, boxes, styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap (fun as it is to pop), greeting cards, fake snow. And that's not even including the damn toy packaging. Seriously, is it really necessary to require scissors, a regular screwdriver, phillips screw driver, pliers, wire cutters, and gorilla teeth to open a box of Little People and a Hot Wheels race track?

Wrapping paper is lovely, but let's be honest, it is a waste. A. Waste. Kids don't give a damn if you use the comics or fancy three-ply metallic embossed paper. And if the adults in your life care, they deserve coal. Pththtpthth (That's my attempt at a raspberry in onomatopoeia). So I struggle with the gift wrap thing at every birthday and tend to reuse gift bags. So I apologize if I have returned your gift bag. I assure you I am not regifting the gift. Unless it is the Lorax. We have three copies.

Tips for wrapping presents from our Go Green school: Instead of gift bags, buy reusable totes which come in all shapes and sizes! Instead of wrapping paper, reuse newspaper, brown paper bags, old posters or maps, pictures from calendar pages or heck, even old wrapping paper! It's fun to have the kids help decorate the brown paper bags with ink and stampers, stickers, markers, and my personal favorite (cough, cough) glitter glue. No one cares about the crinkles. They only care about the present inside. And I can't help you out there.

If every American family wrapped just three presents in recyclable materials, we would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. Reuse that ribbon! If every household reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet!

Now that's a present I'd love to give my children.
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Children Deserve Better Than Chuck

A few weeks ago the Parade magazine insert in our Sunday paper showcased TV news anchor Brian Williams, who talked of his mother's famous goulash. A can of Spaghetti-Os and half a pound of ground chuck. Blech. Gag. Yuck. More ghoulish than goulash in my humble opinion. No disrespect, Mrs. Williams.

Why do so many people presume kids don't have taste buds? They are not predisposed to mushy, salty, saucy, rubbery, processed foods. It is our job as parents to hone those taste buds and help develop our children's palates.

Our culinary responsibility as parents does not consist of sustenance alone. General rule of thumb: if I won't eat it, neither will my kids. This is precisely why we skip most of the grocery store aisles (unlike the parents of two with a third on the way shopping alongside me yesterday - their cart had enough sodium content and high fructose corn syrup to drive a race horse to heart failure).

Needless to say, no ground chuck in my house. Last night for dinner we grilled some rib eye steaks. Natural beef with no additives. I find it interesting that we spend so much time and money protecting our kids from touching hot stove tops, tumbling down stairs, and staying warm on a winter day, but we pay little to no mind to what we put into their vulnerable little bodies.

So back to the rib eye and our very simple yet delectable dinner...

Grilled steak, cut into quite manageable pieces, was a lovely treat. I assure you that I didn't get such good cuts of meat on my plate until well into adulthood. I made a "kitchen sink" steak sauce that made the unadorned steak even better, and besides, condiments make everything better. My semi-homemade sauce was equal parts of black pepper sauce from the Asian market, sour cream, and molasses. I added a tablespoon of fresh horseradish, a couple splashes of worcestershire sauce, and a few drops of cream. Stir it all up and dip away. And in terms of budget, flank steak is a great affordable alternative. Just slice it pretty thinly against the grain, marinate, and grill. Takes just a few minutes on each side.

Our dinner was rounded out by a salad of quartered tiny tomatoes, seeded cucumber slices, sweet onions, and chopped Italian parsley. A few drops of olive oil and red wine vinegar, along with the requisite sea salt and pepper finished it off. We also had roasted fingerling potatoes that are quite buttery on their own and green beans quick roasted with slivers of fresh garlic. Some warm french bread helped up sop up all the juicy goodness on our plates. Giving kids the opportunity to "play" with their food makes meal time more fun.

And for dessert, fresh madelines (those cakey French cookies) from the Costco bakery, raspberries, blackberries, and home whipped cream with a touch of vanilla.

Clean plate club all around.

And just for kicks, we ate in the dining room. But no fine china. I'm no risk taker.

Cross posted at Foodie Mama.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Word to Your Mother

Bird and Deal say so many things that astound me, for better or for worse. I am floored by their train of thought and rationale. Their little personalities are amplified by the things they say. Take for instance the other day:

Me, kissing Deal good night: "You are so sweet. You are going to be an amazing man one day."

Deal: "You mean when I am a daddy?"

Me: "Yes, you will be an awesome daddy."

Deal: "Will I still live with you when I am a daddy?"

Me, chuckling: "No, you will live in your own house."

Deal: "Then I'll be your neighbor, Mommy."

And the next day, when Bird, Deal, and I were making and decorating cookies (also known as trashing my kitchen with flour and sprinkles and frosting):

It goes without saying that baking with a 5 and 3 year old is messy business (gross understatement of the year, emphasis on gross). And if you know me, you know that I abhor a mess. I braced myself for an evening of slinging flour and sprinkling colored sugar. I practically bought out the cookie decorating aisle at Target: green and red sugar, red, green, and white frosting, red and green sprinkles, silver dragees, and coated candy confetti in all the shapes of Christmas. I went to town rolling the dough, and the boys cut various holiday shapes. The counters, walls, and floor, not the mention all of us, were a veritable mess. It looked like Willy Wonka's store room exploded in my kitchen. And you know what? I didn't even freak out. For the first time in my life I went with the flow.

When we were done, Bird was gobbling up all the spilled sugars and sprinkles and such. He'd poke his sticky little finger into a pile of sugared confetti on the counter, pop it in his mouth, and replay. I must have been watching his precision scavenging for a good five minutes.

Bird, looking up at me with pure earnestness in his eyes (not the Eddie Haskell type of earnestness): "Technically Mommy, I am helping you clean up."

Proof once again, that is is indeed possible to render me speechless.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

5:00 Fridays

Santa's famed list might delineate people by naughty or nice, but I'm willing to bet we're all a bit of both. Clearly, some sway more one way than the other. I'll leave it up to you to decide where the family at Chez Dirt & Noise fall.

Naughty But Nice
1/2 shot amaretto
1/2 shot peach schnapps
1 shot amarula cream
1 ounce cream

I believe Morningside Mom has tasted amarula cream straight from the plains of Africa. I'm taking her word that the stuff makes for a good cocktail. You see, we were separated at birth so I'm confident our taste buds play by the same rules. Never mind that she's blond and younger than I am. The time/space continuum has yet to be fully explored.

Now shake up all that goodness into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with chocolate shavings. Mmmm...

So you see, too many of these things will make you so nice that you do something naughty.
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Clutter

I love Christmas. I love getting out the boxes of decorations from the attic. I love the story behind all our ornaments. I love the food. I love the excitement and anticipation in my boys' every move. I love the spirit, the fellowship, the merriment. But I hate the clutter.

Bows. Bags. Wrapping paper rolls unwinding all over the place. Tape, but never where and when I need it. Shipping boxes. Damn styrofoam peanuts (shame on companies that still use that stuff!). Greeting cards and those excruciating update letters. Pine needles. Baskets of fruit. Gingerbread houses. Elves on shelves. Bounty of cookies. Homemade paper plate crafts and pine cone ornaments. Candles. Bells. Invitations. Sticky egg nog cups. Advent calendar and the accompanying tiny ornaments. Vases of candy canes. Nutcrackers.

It's all driving me nuts.

I didn't inherit the decorating gene so my futile attempts at wrangling the wired ribbon, bows, greenery, and floral picks look like my son's kindergarten class threw a Whoville all nighter in my living room. I can't get anything to swag. The unsightly cords are plainly in sight. The bows are askew. The greenery droops. The garland sags. The lights flicker. The wreath slips every time I open the door. And falls when I close it. The shatter proof ornaments break. The berries are poisonous. The poinsettias turn brown. The tree teeters (and actually fell over last year). The embroidered stockings keep turning backwards. The train under the tree broke. Even the music skips.

Every year I practically study the pages of Southern Living and try to reinvent my dining table and mantle into a holiday bounty of decorations. I try so very hard. Every year I fail. I'm a pretty smart cookie. I can follow directions. I buy the stuff, trapsing through the aisles at my local garden shop and AC Moore. But I can't set a holiday table scape for the life of me. I sure wish Sandra Dee were my best friend.

So all the clutter is giving me a headache. What's more, it's making me feel incompetent. I love Christmas decorations. In other people's homes.

Cross posted at Deep South Moms.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

5:00 Fridays

I have a new favorite drink. One that I cannot live without. One that puts me over the edge of reason and sobriety if I have more than one. One that I reserve for weekends only. I count down the days to Friday just so I can snap my fingers for Mac Daddy to whip one up for me. Kidding! I usually give in to impulse and desire and have one on Thursday. That was the big party day in college so why not reinstate that? Oh and the finger snapping, totally a figure of speech. I can't snap. And if I could, Mac Daddy would give me a wayward glance that said, "Yeah, right, Princess."

So my new favorite drink is one I have featured before. Now go with me on this before you get your bloomers in a bundle. I have discovered something that makes this drink fantastically fabulous. Exponentially excellent. Wildly wondrous.

Dirty Sue has driven me mad. Mad for dirty martinis. Bwaaahhhhaaahhhaa!!!!

So today I present to you, the new, improved, 50% fewer calories Dirty & Noisy Martini

3 ounces of your favorite gin or vodka (I am partial to Hendriks and Ketel One respectively.)
1/2 ounce of Dirty Sue (my new BFF)

Chill a martini glass ahead of time. If you are a frequent flyer here, go ahead and keep some glasses chilled at all times.

Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Trust me, you want this drink to be shivery cold. Pour this olivey nectar into a chilled glass and garnish with a few olives. And if you dare to be naughty instead of nice, add a couple dashes of Tabasco to the mix. Ooh, Aah, Mmmm... Now you're talkin'.

Oh, and just joshin' about the 50% fewer calories. Totally made that up.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Spelling Lessons

Bird is learning to read. We are very proud. I love to read too. Bird is also learning to spell.


"Fart! I spelled fart! Fart! Fart! Fart!"

Laughter, guffawing, chuckling ensues.

Boys will be boys, as they say. And by boys, I mean anyone with a Y chromosome. Apparently fart jokes don't get stale at any age. Mac Daddy, at the ripe age of 40, was busting a gut. He was trying to hide his over zealous amusement, but I totally nabbed him.

What's next on the list of life lessons a father teaches his son? Pull my finger? I guess that's all I can expect from the Old Fart.
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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Free Stuff for Everyone

I have discovered a few things I'd like to share with you. I love a bargain and don't part easily with a buck under the best of circumstances, though Mac Daddy might beg to differ. These days a buck doesn't stretch too far unless you want a Golden Arches double cheeseburger or some Made in China lead laden toy trucks from the One Spot. I have some nifty little things that are worth that hard earned buck. And...

Drum roll, please...

This time my little ol' opinions come with free giveaways! I have a Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear and $10 gift certificate and a Spanish music CD for kids for one ever-so-lucky reader. That reader could be YOU. All you have to do is go to the Build-A-Bear Workshop website and tell me what outfit the child in your life would adore. Make sure you leave your email address so I can notify you if you win. I'll choose the winner at random and mail in time for the goodies to perch under your tree. And if you are so inclined, I can donate the bear in your name instead. So go ahead, what are you waiting for, folks?

Every Kid Deserves a Bear Hug
Build-A-Bear Workshop is Deal's Happy Place. We celebrated his third birthday there. He is a boy who digs his teddy bear after all. Wow. The staff was amazing. I wonder what they pump into the air there to be so perky and, well, happy. I mean, their job does entail working with little kids (and their parents) all day. The experience was postively fabulous for kids and adults alike. Granted, my boys did choose the ugliest outfits in the joint, despite my futile attempts to sway them towards something cute. They love playing with those little bears, regardless how fugly the outfits are. Deal loves that he even chose a heart for his bear and got to stuff it. Build-A-Bear Workshop is a fun outing, whether it's on your own or for a birthday. Sure beats getting a bunch of Oriental Trading plastic choking hazard crap in a goody bag.

Singin' En Espanol
I don't even speak Spanish but the little Lango Adventure Con Cosmo CD will have you tapping your toes and singing along in words you don't understand (unless of course you do understand Spanish). The songs are lively and fun and don't sound like anything a certain purple dinosaur might belt out. Bird learns German and Japanese in kindergarten, yet he has no problem picking up the lyrics when he hears this CD. Nevermind that neither of us has any idea what we're saying.

Digital Storytime
Bird and Deal can eat up books. When we travel we heft around a mini library of books for the airport, the plane, the hotel, the restaurants. The books, along with the laptop and various other necessities one brings along when traveling with kids, are enough to made a chiropracter very rich. Digital stories enter stage left. MobiStories are virtual books that we can download right to our laptop. There are a variety of stories all organized by age group. I was pleasantly surprised by the range of international stories and folk tales. This is no run-of-the-mill video. This is a virtual book with flipping pages and all. Still motion with words, read along text, and music. This is not a video. It's convenient for travel, and there are no ripped pages to tape up when your kids fight over who gets to turn the page. I can't see MobiStories replacing real books in my house, but they certainly have a purpose considering all the traveling we do. But at bed time, nothing beats the sound of turning pages and the feel of a book to lull the little ones to sleep. Anywa, try it out yourself. You can download up to $10.00 for free. I said FREE. Just go to mobistories.com, select a book, and enter code BSM187A at check out. Leave me a comment telling me what you think.

So that does it for my little review and giveaway. Pass this on, unless you want to be greedy and keep your chance of winning pretty good. I'll use random.org to choose a winner on Friday, December 12. You have until midnight December 11 to respond.

Have a beary great day!
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Friday, December 5, 2008

5:00 Fridays

I might lose some readers this week with my cocktail choice but I'm willing to shake things up a bit and reach wwaaaayyyy out on the proverbial limb.

It's December, when oysters are big, juicy, and plentiful. I'm an oyster snob. They must be fresh and they must be raw. You heard me. Raw. Mac Daddy and I can put away some oysters and bottled beers.

What the hell does this have to do with a 5:00 Friday cocktail for cripe's sake, you ask?

Oyster Shooter

1 small freshly shucked raw oyster with its juice (Whatever you do, do not used an oyster that was shacked up in a tin can.)
1 ounce ice cold Ketel One vodka
Generous dash of Tabasco Sauce
Squeeze of fresh (only fresh!) lemon juice

Pop that oyster into a chilled martini glass or a shot glass. Add the vodka, a generous dose of Tabasco, and squeeze of lemon juice. Drink and gulp, don't sip. A true oyster shooter aficionado lets that little pearly gem slide down his throat without chewing. Me? I'm a chewer.

Let me know what you think of this week's cocktail. Will you try it? Are you gagging right now? Do you think I've lost my mind? Are you scrolling down looking for the real cocktail, thinking this is a joke? Whadya think?

I have many memories of slurping down these suckers at St. Maarten Cafe in my hometown. Well, the memories admittedly got a bit fuzzy after a few of these. Nonetheless, the beauty of the oyster shooter? A cocktail and a snack all in one!

Down the hatch!
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Story of Shame

Did I ever tell you about the time I got sucked into the cool kids' club in high school? Did I ever mention the act that still shames me today, 25 years later?

It was 1984. I was a newbie in a posh boarding school. Read: SNOBBY. I was in school with girls whose last names were on the back pocket of the jeans I wore and the stock certificates my parents squirreled away in the safe deposit box. I was on scholarship.

I was a runt, shy, and lacked self confidence. I wore madras plaid Bermuda shorts and a cable knit sweater with Tretorns and pulled my hair back in a french braid that I painstakingly did myself, craning my head to look in the bathroom mirror behind me. I wore no make up. At the time I regarded Dr. Pepper Bonnie Belle Lip Smackers as makeup. I thought I had a chance of fitting in. I thought those shorts I bought with my allowance in Hilton Head would be my ticket to looking the part.

No chance.

I was still a runt, shy, lacked self confidence. Plus, and even worse, I wasn't rich or fashionable. I was not a somebody. My dad was not a somebody. I did not have hired help. I was mocked. Teased incessantly. To my face. I buried my face in my pillow every afternoon when my roommates were in their riding lesson. I soaked that pillow to its deepest fibers. I blamed my puffy eyes on allergies I did not have.

But I was smart. I got excellent grades, barely opening a book. I got on well with my teachers and knew quickly which ones to avoid. I dabbled in the popular hobby of rule breaking. I got caught drinking wine with some other geeky girls. Together we made the Island of Misfit Toys inhabitants look like red carpet stars. I smoked in the corn field. I left my room after lights out to visit a friend in another dorm. I passed notes in study hall and refused to clean my room. I found myself making friends and silently eeking into the in-crowd.

By no means popular, I at least escaped the blatant teasing and pestering. For this small gift I was thankful. My allergies suddenly cleared up.

Then It happened.

I was in the swing, enjoying my new groove, being invited out over holiday breaks with girls who lived lives I read about in the Style section. I laughed easily with the girls and even ventured out to mixers with neighboring boys' schools. On a field trip one day I got the nod to come sit in the back. A universal rule, no? All the cool kids sit in the back of the bus. I was giddy with delight.

Chanting ensued when Carol, the last girl in line, was taking her first tenuous step onto the rented school bus. Stomping feet chimed in with the chanting. Laughter and jeering broke out in a chaotic din. And I jumped in.

"I feel the earth move under my feet."

50 well bred high school girls were chanting Carole King's words to a fellow student who was less popular than even me. Carol was an exchange student from Kenya. Large by every stretch of the imagination. Amazonesque in her stature, rotund in her girth. Deliberate in her movements.

And we kept on chanting, "I feel the earth move under my feet."

Carole heaved herself up that last step that was a few inches higher than the previous one. She sighed heavily. Maybe even panted.

"I feel the earth move under my feet."

I recall being struck at the horror of such sheer cruelty. Yet I was one of them. My lips were moving, my eyes darting from face to face. While not chanting whole heartedly, I was still among the same filth that made me bury my head in shame and pain all those months. Coming full circle never felt so bad. I ache today at the thought of that scene. Even Hollywood wouldn't do it justice. It. Was. Ugly.

And Carole? She got up on that bus. She looked around, and I swear, she looked every single one of us in the eye before she took her seat. Time slipped to a slow motion cadence. Her look was not cold or distant or sad. She looked at us with pity. She was wise. And confident. And a better girl than I.
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Getting Trashed

I hate litterbugs. Hate them. Hate them. Hate them. I think they should be jailed in a dumpster behind a Slim Jim factory. There is no earthly reason to open up your car window and toss out trash. No matter how small. Cigarette butts included. Do you hear me, smokers? You're polluting our earth enough as it is with your carcinogens that I don't choose to inhale. Oh, don't get me started on how much I abhor smoking. Did you catch that, Mom? But I digress, as I so often do... I cuss like a mother fucker when I see people litter from their car (in my head, of course, my boys will out-cuss me in due time, but I don't need to be the one to teach them this particular habit).

Here are some things that I've spotted on the roadside and in the brush in the last couple weeks. I've been jotting them down in my blog fodder notebook (not while driving, only at red lights and in the car pool line). Note that I usually drive within a five mile radius of my house, and most of it does not involve a freeway. That's means that this crap is littering my neighborhood streets. And my water. And my soil. It is not only unsightly; it is unsafe (and not just because I am gawking at it while trying to write in my little notebook).

Getting Trashed gets a whole new meaning:
  • a pair of boxing gloves
  • one shoe, looked like a sneaker
  • bag of apples
  • ballet slippers
  • pair of twisted up jeans
  • stuffed plastic Hefty bag that I feared contained body parts so I did not stop for closer inspection
  • small wooden crate...perhaps some woodland creature ate the clementines it once housed
  • speakers, really big ones from back in the day that pass for end tables
  • dog leash...in my head the dog once attached to said leash is perfectly happy and safe
  • lawn furniture cushion
  • various mega size soda cups and burger wrappers
  • pillowcase
  • baseball cap
  • backpack (feared explosives were inside so I hightailed it outta there)
  • strap of some sort that looked like a yellow karate belt
  • malt liquor cans, really big ones
  • velveteen Crown Royal bag
  • tube socks
  • sand pail
  • something tangles that looked like pieces of a blow up holiday lawn Santa
  • plastic milk jugs, liter bottles, cans
So I wonder what the story is behind all this lost/littered stuff. Did some fed up minivan mom toss out her daughter's ballet slippers when the whining reached fever pitch? Did the baseball cap blow off some dude's head when a double rig sped by? Did some party animals toss the malt liquor cans in haste when they spotted an under cover cop trailing them?

What do you think? Tell me a story about how one item ended up littering my path.
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Friday, November 28, 2008

5:00 Fridays

Black Friday Martini

3 1/2 ounces Ketel One vodka
1/2 blackberry brandy (raspberry liqueur will work too)

Shake it all up in a cocktail shaker over ice.
Strain into an old fashioned glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist.

Ah, now that should take the edge off of holiday shopping stress.
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

There is so much for which to be thankful. It is a cliche. Yet it is true. While I am normally verbose, long-winded, call it what you will, ironically today I have few words.

My heart is heavy with the news coming from Mumbai. It is a city I visited as a child. My uncle lived on the water there, and my few memories of India are from my time at his home. We played ball and often overshot our throw only to watch the ball plop into the ocean. We curiously stood on tiptoes and peered over the retaining wall at the crashing waves, my cousin, my brother, and I mesmerized. I also recall some soft threats to toss me over the wall if I tattled on their constant teasing of me.

My family is spread all over India. Thankfully my one cousin in Mumbai is safe. India is a war zone, says my uncle whose home I visited. My parents are deeply affected by this violence, this rape of their home country. We are helpless from our new homes stateside. A donation and pleas for blood donation are about all we can do.

Today I am thankful for so much. My family and our health and safety. I am thankful for simple things that are priceless.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sunnyside Up

My son Deal was literally born sunnyside up. That's what the doctors called it when he popped up head first and face up (as opposed to facing backwards, as most babies come out). His sweet cherubic face was not smushed since it was all so fast but it was splotchy from the whole sunnyside up ordeal. When the nurse plopped him on my chest he did not scream or cry or look dazed and confused. He simply looked at me and grasped my finger. Then he looked intently at his daddy, the man whose constitution he shares.

That instant I knew that he would live on the sunny side forever. To this day, Deal grabs my finger when he is feeling a bit weary, overwhelmed, shy, or just needs some wonder twin power from Mom. He is an utter joy and really lights up all who encounted him. I am not just saying this because I am his mother. This child has the brightest disposition I have ever encountered.

Case in point:

While playing with his teddy bear and doctor kit yesterday, Deal pulled out the toy syringe to give Beary a shot.

"Don't worry, Beary. This will not hurt. This a sunny shot."

"Hmm...a sunny shot? What does that do?"

"A sunny shot makes people happy so they have a good day."

Yup, born sunnyside up alright.
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Page out of My Playbook

Ah, I can breathe again, let my gut hang out, my hair down. Mac Daddy is home. HOME! Running the household, taking care of Bird and Deal, working, and of course, blogging and tweeting, are pretty damn hard as an army of one. Mac Daddy's job beckoned so off he flew to Chicago for six days. Six. Days.

And you know what, it wasn't so bad.

Even I, the glass half empty, angry, whiny, pissy pessimist of a girl, saw the silver lining so bright that it was more than just a bright side. I got to spend time with my boys. We played games galore, we colored, we made Thanksgiving turkey art projects, we kicked the soccer ball, we told jokes, we read books, we snuggled, we tickled, we danced, we ate cookies and popsicles, we played with our food. You see, I'm not usually the "fun one."

Mac Daddy is the jovial ready-to-roll-around-arms-wide-open-kneeling-to-the-ground-in-an-enveloping-hug guy. He's the one who plays the role of banshee, super hero, spy, wrestler, dragon, wide receiver, and point guard. I'm just no good at that stuff. For starters, I don't know what a wide receiver and point guard are; I just heard the terms somewhere. Where was I? Oh, I play differently than Mac Daddy does. Pretty true for most moms and dads, right? Given the choice, the boys would way rather play all rough and tumble than the more cerebral, creative, and gentle ways that I play. Well, with Mac Daddy being gone, it was just the boys and me. Guess what? We had a great time.

Oh, the week was also hard. Tiring. Stressful. Hurried. But we had fun. I'm in no rush for Mac Daddy to take off for a week again any time soon, mind you. But when he does, we'll have a good time.

And just so you know, all THREE boys trashed the house wrestling and romping all weekend. They clearly made up for lost time.
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Friday, November 21, 2008

5:00 Fridays

Mac Daddy has been gone since Sunday morning, not to be home until Saturday morning. That means I played the role of a single mom all week. Luckily my supporting cast, Bird and Deal, have had extraordinarily good behavior (except for a spell Thursday night). Nonetheless, I suck at being a single mom. Wow do I bow down to the folks who do this day in day out with no respite in sight. All I had to do was chant the Little Engine That Could mantra to keep my sights set to Saturday. Single parents, like my dad was, deserve a standing ovation, any support we can provide, and a helluva a lot of respect.

So to wrap up my week, I found the most perfect drink (and lucky me just happened to have all the ingredients on hand!).

Absolut Stress
1 shot Absolut vodka
1 shot Malibu rum
Generous splash of cranberry juice
1/2 shot peach schnapps
Splash of pineapple juice

Add the goodies to your cocktail shaker that you've already filled with ice. Shake. Let the stress out. Pour into a highball glass with some of the ice. Garnish with a skewer of cranberries and half moon slice of orange. What a way to use the BOGO bags of cranberries out this time of year!

Put your feet up, undo the top button of your jeans if you must, exhale, sip, sigh, ahhh...

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

On My Mind in Downward Dog

I got my body flowing at the gym this morning. I took some new class called Body Flow that supposedly adds a dash of pilates, a dollop of tai chi, and a whole stinkin' handful of yoga, mixes it all up, and gets your chi centered and your abs shakin'. Only not so much. Like with anything, when you take the best pieces of stuff thinking it's going to make a magnificent new widget, it fails miserably. This was the crazy quilt of gym classes. The indiviual elements are way better than the sum of their parts. I just wasted an hour getting gyped. One hour of time that I'll never get back. You know how much I hate to work out anyway so this was particularly irritating.

So instead of feeling all centered and relaxed and other such stuff that I'm pretty much incapable of achieving anyway, here's a taste of what galloped around my mind while doing sun salutations, warriors 1 - 3, and downward dog:

John, Paul, Ringo,.... Who the heck is the other Beatle? Hmmm, can't even picture him. John, Paul, Ringo, drawing a blank. Must remember to ask Kate.

I have organic beets in the fridge. What shall I do with them? Maybe I'll try making soup. It is soup season. Damn, it's cold.

I need to pay some bills. Must remember to pay bills. Must remember to pay bills.

Whatever happened to my old friend Portia Barnhart? She's not on Facebook. Why the heck aren't people on Facebook?!

It's only been 15 minutes?! Egads.

Where can I find those mitten and boot warmer thingees that you pop and use to stay warm? I need to find some before we march in the Christmas parade on Saturday morning. Too bad it will be too inappropriate and too early to add some bourbon to my coffee to stay warm. Or will it?

I really need a haircut. What am I going to do about this gray hair?

Gary is a funny name. Funny name for a sweet swaddled newborn. Baby Gary. Not working for me. Roxanne too.

Is it going to take us seven hours to drive to DC again this Thanksgiving?

When is this class over?

That's girl's pose looks totally worse than mine. Look at me, rockin' the yoga pose. Ooops, not so much.

I think I don't like yoga because the clothes show every bulge. I would look great in fencing gear.

My friend Nancy fenced in college. She's not on Facebook either.

Grilled cheese for lunch?

I haven't bought new shoes all season.

I went to Target three times this week. I have a feeling we'll go again before the week's over.

Deal's room needs a rug.

How can I be Indian and suck so much at yoga? My people must be ashamed of me, first math and science, now yoga. We invented this stuff, didn't we?

That instructor is so thin she's concave.

I hate that she is saying tushie. What, are we three year olds in here?

Um, what time is it?

Don't let me fall asleep during this vibration meditation thing. This is not my idea of a good time.

So you see, the class was a bust. And I have recipes to find and people to track down on Facebook.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Boys Like Pink Too

Do you see what I'm doing in the photo up there? I'm playing the role of Al Bundy, helping my son Deal put on some red glitter Dorothyesque dress up shoes. He was 2. It was his birthday party at a children's museum. Stop the judging. Pull up your jaw. Roll your eyes back into your head. Take a breath. He was 2, people. 2.

And you know what? Deal is 3 now, and his favorite color is pink.

Mac Daddy and I don't care. His favorite color will change 10 times before he hits grade school. Bird's favorite color changes almost daily or every time he grabs a new crayon from the Crayola box of 64. And if Deal is 54 and still loves pink, I don't care. In fact, Mac Daddy can rock a pink shirt. Hubba. Hubba.

My point is this: Shut up about my son's sexuality. He's a preschooler for cripe's sake. Really, should we be talking about sexuality at this tender age? I bet you wouldn't want me waxing about your 3-year old daughter's sexuality. Sounds dirty, right? Because it is! You are twisted people. Deal is not to be taunted, judged, or otherwise mocked. Deal is quite simply the sweetest child you will ever come to know. There isn't enough room in cyberspace to list the many ways he shows his utter sweet demeanor. And yes, I write this from the frustration stemming from multiple comments at school.

The fathers in preschool who guffaw at Deal's little "all about me" sheet that lists pink as his favorite color should take a good look in the mirror. You're deriding a child, assholes. Ditto to the moms who look in horror when Deal trapses around in those red glittery shoes at the children's museum. Some have even been brazen enough to flat out ask me if I'm okay with that. Gee, are you okay with your son's snot ridden hair and satanic laugh as he sticks his hand down his pants and then sucks his fingers, lady? Shut the hell up! Then those queen bee moms retreat to their little friends and whisper and point. Yeah, high school clearly is alive and well. The difference now is that I'm not the one being taunted. Don't fuck with me when it comes to my sons.

Do these same mothers and fathers denigrate little girls when they dress up in scrubs or a firefigher helmet? Do they sneer when girls like blue or green or other such colors we tag as masculine? And why do gender roles need to be so clearly defined? Does society tell us that girls cannot be assertive and boys cannot be sensitive? Au contraire, mes amis! Bird asked Santa for two dolls for Christmas when he was 2. He also had a pink toy stroller. He stuffed it full of super hero figurines and raced it around the house. Deal is rough and tumble and can wallop the heck out of a pitched baseball. Both of my sons cause a ruckus with their wrestling, sword fighting, and car racing. Well, that's the stuff they do with Mac Daddy. They are plenty happy coloring with me or doing a craft project or rocking out to Aerosmith for Dance Party USA.

I don't really give a damn what my boys become, as long as they are kind, genuine, productive, and smart contributors to society. I hope they have a good sense of humor and their dad's easy going nature too. I would be so ashamed if my sons grow up to be like those dads in preschool.

Deal loved those glittery shoes so much that he picked them out to give to his buddy Sarah for her birthday.
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Children = Entropy

This is why I don't have more than 2 kids. This is how my living room looked after 2 five year olds and 2 three year olds took over and held me hostage in the bathroom. They could have at least banished me to the kitchen where there was wine.

My friend Caroline posted on Facebook about how her kids schemed every night about ways to wreck her clean house. A commenter left a remark that children equal entropy. I failed physics and pretty much every science class I ever took (I am really the only Indian in the whole world who is bad at math and science.) so I looked up the definition. Entropy: a measure of the disorder of a system. Systems tend to go from a state of order (low entropy) to a state of maximum disorder (high entropy). Mac Daddy and I = low entropy. Add children to the equation, FOUR of them, and you clearly have high entropy. They can't help it; it's a physical law just like gravity.

Oh hell, let's be honest, it doesn't take four kids to wreak such havoc. One can do that in a matter of seconds with the right super hero powers at play.
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Friday, November 14, 2008

5:00 Fridays

Mac Daddy and I just enjoyed a much need and llloooonnngggg overdue date night. Yeah, we're so hip we go out in the middle of the week. Just like the clubbers in New York City who store shoes in their ovens instead of actually eating in. Or you might say our sitter was booked all weekend so we begged and pleaded to steal some of her time on a Thursday.

In any case, we enjoyed each other's company despite a seriously underwhelming dinner with mediocre service, strip mall atmosphere (granted, like everything else in Raleigh, it was in a dang strip mall), and blue hair patrons galore. I'm sure this establishment will be perfectamundo one day when we take out our dentures to slurp up the undercooked sweet potato cakes. On the bright side, I did have a near perfect dirty martini with Ketel One vodka and bleu cheese stuffed olives.

Had we been actually enjoying the restaurant we would have stayed for dessert. Something did, however, catch my eye that I just had to share with you (Apparently this joint would be a better bar that restaurant since its cocktails are superior to its food.).

Pineapple Upside Down Martini

1 shot rum (not the spiced stuff; go for light rum here)
2 ounces pineapple juice
1 shot Bailey's
1 shot butterscotch schnapps (also divine on vanilla ice cream as a grown up sundae treat)

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake it up a la Ric Ocasek. Pour into a chilled martini glass (I swear, we need an extra fridge just to have enough room to chill glasses to test all these cocktails.). Garnish with a wedge of pineapple (fresh, not the canned Dole variety). Dole has been voted off the island, remember?

Turn on some Jack Johnson and enjoy your upside down ride!

Feel free to replace Jack with Diana.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Grease is the Word

The highlight of our summer trip to LA? Seeing the real deal Grease Lightning live, in person at the Peterson Automotive Museum. That's me and Bird in the photo (nevermind that my arm looks fat and mushy). He was pretty pumped to see it too but he melted down when I told he couldn't sit in it. Seriously, I practically hyperventilated and broke into song and dance when I spotted this vehicular treasure, much to my cool LA brother's dismay. I know all the moves. I committed them to memory years ago. Now I'm teaching them to Bird and Deal. Mac Daddy thinks I'm prediposing them to get the snot kicked out of them on the playground with such shenanigans. I say, Dude, Grease is the word.

I have written before about my embarrassingly bad taste in music.Where there is crappy music there are crappy movies. No brainer, right?

I am a sucker for girly movies. I secretly love when Mac Daddy has poker night so I can watch chick flicks without enduring his sneering and snickering (as he is known to do during my Gossip Girl guilty pleasure). Some of my best girlfriend time is with my pal Christy when we hang out in our pajamas and watch girly movies, wine in hand, chocolate within reach.

Here are some of my favorites. And note that the heady stuff like Schindler's List ain't making this list. This is pure cheese.

Grease - What girl who grew up in the 70s doesn't love this movie? Heck, what girl doesn't love this movie, period?! I had the trading cards, album, and even have my own Pink Lady jacket. really. I just wore it for Halloween last year. Grease kicks High School Musical's scrawny overly computer produced ass.

13 Going on 30 - Come on, so cute! I never watched Alias and thought Jennider Garner was a bit manly, but this movie made me love her.

Princess Diaries - We watched this and its sequel on a girls weekend. We were in our pajamas all day with a stack of Us Weekly magazines spread among us, chips and salsa within reach, Diet Coke by our side, and giddy, giddy girliness all around.

The Sweetest Thing - Oh, this movie almost made me long to be single again. Then I remembered I never had abs like Cameron Diaz or lived in a sweet apartment in San Franciso or looked as hot as Christina Applegate in a white shirt and pencil skirt so I quickly shed that envy. The penis song alone is worth watching this movie. Really. Funny. Stuff. Dang, now it's stuck in my head. The song, folks. The song.

27 Dresses - Worth watching just for the hot reporter guy.

Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful - Oh, the 80s. I was about 16 when these movies were out. I still love 'em 25 years later. Great soundtracks. Even people with good taste in music would say so.

Sex and the City - Clearly the year's best girlfriend flick. Seizure enducing handbag and shoe envy.

Mean Girls, Heathers - Wow could I relate to those movies. I was a four foot tall, 80 pound, smart girl runt. One guess where I fell in the popularity spectrum.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - I love Gossip Girl and Ugly Betty. Of course I dig this movie! And hell yes I'll be watching the sequel.

So tell me, what bad movies are lurking in your DVD collection? It's OK to fess up. You're in the cone of safety here, folks.
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Streppers in the House

The boys are sick today. Double case of strep throat. It was mighty pleasant dealing with two throat swabs this morning. Yup, nothing better than pinning down your kid and prying his mouth open long enough to allow the nurse to get a reasonable swab without getting bitten. Took three tries, lots of tears, some screaming, gasping, kicking, pinching, and promises of ice cream. Mind you that I was the object of said kicking and pinching, not the inflictor.

Both kids are pumped up with drugs, tomato soup, and watered down mango juice now. Popsicles will be awaiting when they wake from their much needed slumber.

They are unusually somber today. I must admit, it's kind of a nice break. They are mellow and cuddly, not whiny and mopey. We have enjoyed the day snuggling with books and listening to tunes from my childhood, Free to Be You and Me. Bird is especially snuggly, which is something I see him outgrowing bit by bit each day, and it breaks my heart. Deal is a lap dog by nature while Bird has the constitution of a cat. We'll watch some TV cozied up under a down throw this afternoon. Maybe I'll go all June Cleaver on you and bake chocolate chip cookies.

In the mean time, it's a shame the boys are sick. But it is indeed nice to have some quiet time together. I have a sinking feeling that the rambunctious kids I know will be back in rare form all too soon. Quick, put away the lamps! (We've had a rash of broken lamps at our house. Add those to the Christmas list.)

Be glad I posted the artful photo of the streptococcus bacteria. You might mistake it for abstract art even. If I had posted photos of the boys' throats you would have been left gagging. I spared you, dear readers. Then again, it could have been a great diet/appetite suppressant.
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Friday, November 7, 2008

5:00 Fridays

Did you hear the news? This great nation of ours has turned B-L-U-E!!! Best of all, this red state of mine has voted BLUE for the first time in a generation; the last Democratic president elected in North Carolina was Jimmy Carter. Barack Obama has redefined what it means to have a case of the blues.

You might say that we live in a Blue Heaven right now.

And so today's cocktail is a toast, a cheer, a tip of my hat to the man, the President-Elect, Barack Hussein Obama.

Blue Heaven

1 shot of good quality vodka (I'm still using the organic Rain brand left over from a party.)
1/2 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice (No phony stuff tolerated here!)
1/2 ounce of blue curacao

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake, strain, pour into a tall, skinny glass with a few ice cubes. I recommend some star shaped ice just for kicks. Garnish with a couple blueberries and a lemon twist.

Cheers, to my fellow Americans and world citizens who are jubilant at this change of tide!
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Get Clean Before You Get Dirty

The book Freakonomics is on my nightstand. This is irrelevant at the moment, but you'll get my point shortly.

I suppose this is technically a so-called "Mommy Blog." Well, in order to become a mommy, there is but one requirement (adoption aside for the moment). Nookie. Action. Play. Getting frisky, as the Cunninghams used to say. Call it whatever euphemism you like, but let's keep it clean. I like things to be clean, remember?

Mom, Dad, Big Brother, I recommend you stop reading now. Go on, go book a flight or something. The Internet is good for stuff other than blogs ya know. Go on now. Scat. Get outta here.

Since this is a smut-free zone, I'll be brief and as June Cleaver as possible (then again, how smut-free was she with a kid called Beaver?). The fine folks at Eden Fantasys indulged me in a bit of swag. As a neat freak, I was drawn to the aromatherapy bath and shower stuff. Hubba Hubba, nothing like a spanking clean man. Whoops, probably could have used a better word than "spanking." Delete those visuals from your minds, folks. The massage lotion was a buttery dream, and the foot stuff was porn for my feet. Hmmm, another poor choice of words. You get my drift.

I'm a Virgo. We like stuff clean. We prefer stuff to smell good. Enough said.

Let's just say that I put down Freakonomics in favor of getting my freak on instead.
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change is Here, Boys

Dear Bird and Deal,

See that little boy in the photo up there? He grew up to be president of the United States of America.

A whole new world has opened up and presented itself to us today. Your world will be much different than mine. Barack Obama will become our new president. He will be the first black president in our country's history. I voted for him for you. You, my mixed race boys who are first generation American. You, my boys who can truly grow up to be president or anything else your hearts desire. You, my boys who already have a keen interest in your world.

Bird, when I showed you pictures of the past 43 presidents you asked why there were no women. Ah, you make me proud! Then I showed you Obama's photo next to all those white faces, and you remarked that he looks different, that he looks like me, like our beloved nanny, like you, like your little brother. Then you said that we really should not say "white" and "black" because we are really "pink" and "brown." To you color carries no baggage, no hate, no judgement, no preconception; it is simply a Crayola descriptor. You didn't understand why Obama is the first black president out of all these men. I talked to you about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. We read books that captured your undivided attention, yet you could not identify with the reality that once was. I pray that you never will.

During this arduous campaign for many nights I missed tucking you into bed, I hurriedly kissed you and Daddy as our paths crossed, I was absent from the dinner table, I was high strung and on edge, I was preoccupied. I was also sleepless, filled with anxiety and hope bundled together into one tight little knot. I was concerned about your future and what my generation's legacy would be to yours. I struggled with hefty issues of race and division that I pray will not litter your world. I knocked on doors, made phone calls, planned rallies, wrote articles, researched policies, and tried to make a difference. For you. I did this all for you, my boys.

And so today, after months, weeks, days, hours of worry and time well spent, I too am spent. I am an emotional wreck. Barack Obama will be our next president. It is true. It cannot be undone. You have no idea the elation strumming through my veins as I write those simple words. He is a great man who will fix much of what is so horrifically broken in this country. He is inheriting a disaster of epic proportions. He faces no small feat, but I know he, with the help of ordinary Americans like us, can heal our wounds. I am so proud to have been but a small player in his vast army of volunteers. I hope my actions over these weeks will influence you one day when you spike the political fever and pour your own blood, sweat, and tears into a candidate you believe in.

To say this day is momentous would be one of life's greatest under statements. Today is magical, hopeful, jubilant, and I would be remiss to say, a long time in the making. We not only watched history unfold before us from a front row seat, we rolled up our sleeves and put our our hands in the pot that cooked up this great day. We, along with millions of others, made history. When you read about this in high school one day, you can say that you were there, that your mom and dad got calloused feet, hoarse voices, and paper cuts galore to have the priviledge of supporting Barack Obama. You will have mountains of campaign memorbilia that I have tucked away for you. You will have photos and videos and newspaper clippings. You will say that your Nani shook Obama's hand in Berlin. You will realize that history is more than a textbook; it is a story.

America, the country in which you were lucky enough to be born and the country that Nani and Dadu adopted as mine, has made me proud. I have learned that legions of organized people fighting a battle based on justice, advocacy, and liberty will prevail. I have learned that a little idealism goes a long way. I have learned that great men and women walk among us. I have learned to turn the other cheek. I have learned that the power of one makes a big difference. I have learned that being driven by values and emotions is a fine way to go through life. I have learned that good guys win. I have learned to savor the moment. I have learned the taste of victory, victory for us as a nation.

Barack Obama, the man we have revered and watched and supported will be the first president you remember. Oh, what a magnificent start to your civic memory!

Bird and Deal, I am humbled this day. I am proud, exuberant, hopeful. Do you remember when we sang Woody Guthrie's song in church the other day and read the storybook of those famed lyrics? "This land is your land..." Well, my boys, it's true. Woody Guthrie got it right.

I love you to the moon and back again. Or as Deal likes to say, I love you to Obama and back again.


Check out these other posts. If you've written a post about your emotions and reactions to Tuesday's historic election, please leave a link in the comments.

Leslie Morgan Steiner
Morningside Mom
Queen of Spain
Pundit Mom
'Nother Yankee in Raleigh
DC Urban Dad
Mom 101
A Mom Two Boys
Mommy Pie
Change is Here, BoysSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Letter to America

Dear America,

Don't let me down. It is a cold, dreary, rainy day in North Carolina. It's the kind of day that calls for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. It's the kind of day that calls for hot chamomile tea, fluffy slippers, a chenille blanket, and a good long read. It's the kind of day you'd rather make a kitchen sink dinner than go out to the grocery store. It's the kind of day you even feel bad making the take out guy leave his van. It's the kind of day that you just know will leave you will the sniffles tomorrow.

It's the kind of day that will make a difference in our world. We will palpably feel that difference as soon as tomorrow. I promise you this.

Please, America, don't let me down.

It's easy to stay home, put up your feet, click on the TV, and bitch about how arduous and awful this election has been. It's easy to think your measly vote doesn't count and no one will even notice. People don't make strides by doing what's easy. One vote does count. In aggregate it all counts. Exercise your most magnificent right to vote. Women especially, exercise that vote armed with the knowledge of the fight it took to get us here a mere 80-some years ago, armed with the knowledge of the fate that awaits our daughters if a certain ornery old man and his renegade neocon take the White House.

In a game of Rock Paper Scissors, Hope will always kick Fear's snarky little ass.

I will not let my mind wander there for even a minute, for it is truly frightening. It would be disastrous, and that is no hyperbole.

Please, America, don't let me down.

Get off your ass, buck up and prepare for the lines, pack snacks and diversions for your kids, wait with your fellow citizens as you have the opportunity to write history. This is more than a front row seat, America, we are all given the plume to write a new story today.

Heck, in Raleigh you can even drop off your kids at Camp Obama at the St. Mary's Street HQ while you vote. Ask a neighbor to watch the kids and then reciprocate. There are no valid excuses today. We need you. Each and every one. Perhaps this post reeks of desperation and weariness. I suppose it is somewhat true. I am tired, on the verge of spent, yet I'll be pounding the pavement again today with my fellow army of volunteers who are making a real difference. I like to think that this post is also filled with the kinetic energy of hope, optimism, delight, and pride.

While rain might be cold and unpleasant and inconvenient, it brings with it the growth of new life, replenishment, rejuventaion, a reminder of the earth's cycle. The dawn of a new day is at our fingertips, America. Grasp it.

Please America, don't let me down.

A Mom of 2 Boys Who Deserve to Grow Up in the Presence of Grace and Goodness
A Letter to AmericaSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, October 31, 2008

5:00 Fridays

Happy Halloween!

Today's drink is a toast to the ubiquitous October pumpkin, whether carved or painted or unadorned. This drink is a keeper that will keep you warmed up through Thanksgiving. This little sip of decadence is basically pumpkin pie in glass. A mouth shot of ReddiWip (while no one is looking) would finish this off nicely, albeit uncouthly.

Pumpkin Pie Martini

1 shot Rain organic vodka
1 ounce pumpkin butter (Get the real deal at the farmer's market if you can.)
1/2 shot part triple sec
1/2 shot simple syrup
A pinch each of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger (Or a pinch of Pumpkin Pie Spice that's already mixed for you would do nicely.)
Garnish with grated nutmeg (Oh, if you have not tried fresh nutmeg, you have not lived. A nutmeg grater is a wonderful stocking stuffer.)

You know the deal, Regular Readers. Fill a sterling silver or stainless steel cocktail shaker with ice, add all ingredients. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosted. You'll know it's done when your fingers feel like Flick's tongue in A Christmas Story. Strain into martini glass and garnish with that freshly grated nutmeg. Toss in a whole cinnamon stick for kicks if you like. The scent alone is heaven. If Demeter made a fragrance that smelled like this cocktail I'd bathe in it.

Happy Haunting!
5:00 FridaysSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Barefoot Books: Reading With Your Kids Has Never Been More Delightful

I love books. I devour them. There are not enough hours in the day for me to get through my book list. Nothing makes me prouder than to see Bird take such interest in reading and really putting his heart into learning the beauty and magic of how letters form words and words form sentences that glide us into wonderful escapes, adventures, and daydreams. I can tell that he is already learning an appreciation for words. He might be the only kindergartener who excitedly remarks when he comes upon a homonym. He is now learning about palindromes too and is so tickled that a word can be spelled the same forward and backward. Through his eyes I recall feeling that same sense of wonder when I was five. I do hope his math skills don't suffer as mine did.

Bird now reads to Deal time to time. Let me be clear; reading involves sounding out words and sounds and making up the story as he goes along. Deal loves nothing more than sitting with his side pressed into his brother's hips as close as he can physically get as he listens to a story. From afar they look like Siamese twins. That Deal must have been a furry cuddly lap dog in another life. Through Bird's lessons Deal is also learning his letters and developing a curiosity for words and books. As you can imagine, this makes me beam.

I was thrilled when the kind folks at Barefoot Books gave me the opportunity to review a couple books. Barefoot Books is an independent book publisher that was started 15 years ago by two working moms with seven children between them. The many books in their collection focus on celebrating diversity, appreciating myriad cultural traditions, nurturing a sense of curiosity, and fostering a global perspective. The company is still a grassroots organization and lives by its mission and values cemented in the early days of its inception.

I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to read something with no corresponding licensed character merchandise, computer generated animation, formulaic plot, or television counterpart.

I read My Granny Went to Market and Shopping With Dad. Both books had lovely, colorful illustrations that were vibrant, engaging, and works of art.

My Granny Went to Market was the hands down favorite of my little bunch. The illustrations are charming enough to warrant a frame and some picture hooks. If I had another copy of the book I would tear out the pages and do just that. The story is a counting story but not one of those stupid ones about ducks swimming away or putting eggs back into a nest. The premise is about a grandmother who travels the world collecting various goodies from faraway lands. It all starts with a magical flying carpet found in Istanbul (which as we know from They Might Be Giants, was once Constantinople). Nesting dolls from Russia. Paper lanterns from China. Kites from Tokyo. Drums from Kenya. It is a delightful little book that is a great introduction to global understanding for small children. It's a pretty good reminder for us grownups too.

Shopping With Dad has fun illustrations (gee, I am a sucker for illustrations) and perfectly captures the chaos of grocery shopping with a toddler in tow, especially when the grocery list calls for things like Octopus Underpants, Extra-Clean Germs, and Strong Anti-Grump Pills! Deal even referred to this story when we were at Harris Teeter this afternoon. He assured me he would not sneeze (You'll get it once you read the book.).

What I love about both books is how the authors inject a global perspective without being preachy or obvious. It is simply a snapshot of the world that I was raised in; people of many cultures living, playing, working together. The town I live in does not share the same diverse culture I enjoyed as a child so these books are a wonderful tool to give my kids a broader perspective of the world. The pictures in these books are not merely black and white; the characters represents cultures, not colors. Such is Barefoots Books' distinction.

Bird attends an International Studies school so he eats up learning about other cultures and loves gazing at the globe to see where our various family members live. Barefoot Books will be a perfect accompaniment to the curriculum he follows at school. We are going to put up a map in the play room so we can mark the cities we have visited. And if we can't make it to the many corners of the planet, we will bring those corners to our little corner.

I am adding A Calendar of Festivals, The Barefoot Book of Blessings, The Faerie's Gift, The Story of Divaali, and The Tear Thief to the boys' Christmas lists. I think we're all going to enjoy the ride.

And as a way to deal with this sour economy, you can get 30% off through November 3 if you click here www.ReadingBarefootBooks.com !
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama Visits Raleigh to Barack the Early Vote

One of many long lines. Throngs of hopeful, patient souls waiting to see the next President of the United States of America, live in Memorex. The Melting Pot personified here today. Wow am I glad I did not drag Bird and Deal to this. Five and three year-olds are not known for their ability to stand in a line for long periods of time unless a Star Wars simulator ride or Toy Story 3D shoot 'em up game is at the end.

Me and my Twitter friend @catnc. See Mac Daddy, I am not talking to imaginary friends on Twitter. @catnc is real. This is not a Bartles & James cardboard cut out. We had just come from coffee with Edie Falco, whose vacation home is in the teeny tiny speck of a town @catnc grew up in. They totally bonded.

Barack is totally pointing to me here.

Here Barack is saying something really smart about how we will be worse off four years from now if John McCain is president. I have a visceral reaction to the mere thought of it.

Another emphatic point here. The man rocks. He simply rocks. Damn if he isn't presidential.

Farewell, Raleigh. Please vote early! Polls are open through Saturday, November 1. You can even register and vote on the same day if you vote early. In North Carolina you cannot register to vote on Election Day, November 4!

See you on November 5, Raleigh. Next time, it's Mr. President.
Obama Visits Raleigh to Barack the Early VoteSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend