Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another log into the fire

One of the perks of living in a very moderate climate is that my appreciation of winter is far more developed than it would be if I had to de-ice my car every morning for four months. So much so that I actually enjoyed shoveling the sidewalk this morning. The arm workout entirely justified the frozen pizza I later ate. We are housebound in Tahoe. Or, I should say the canine one, the toddling one and I are housebound while the manly one gets his skiing on. Cozying up to the fire, reading, and drinking endless cups of hot chocolate is not a bad way to spend a few days escaping our dusty home. I rather enjoy being forced to stay still and be idle because I'm usually pretty bad at it. Unfortunately, my son seems to have inherited this trait and was practically bouncing off the walls by the time I bundled him up to eat some snowflakes.

People, I may have changed my life for the much better today. I made the most nutritious and delicious snack ever-kale chips! We eat a lot of kale. More specifically, we drink a lot in our juices. Yes, we're still doing that. I can't believe it either. I definitely would have expected the juicer to be buried in the cabinet above the fridge by now. Miraculously, the juice makes an appearance in most of Mr. Monk's breakfasts. How confused he's going to be when he gets a bit older and realizes that "juice" doesn't just refer to vegetable juice. At least we throw an apple or two in there.

While we did bring no less than three different types of crackers for a three day trip, we somehow managed to control ourselves and not bring the juicer. And yet I packed all our veggies anyway. So...kale chips! I make brussel sprout chips all the time and I made these the same way. Basically, rip the leaves off the thick stems, tear into smaller pieces, sprinkle them with olive oil and salt, and bake them at 350 for 10-15 minutes until crispy. For the brussels, just chop off the bottom part of the teeny cabbage and peel off the layers of leaves. I like most things nearly burnt and, thankfully, so do my men. Mr. Monk ate the most chips. Ignoring the salt factor, I'd say not bad. Not bad at all. Buying the same thing at Whole Foods costs nearly ten dollars, so go green.

Also, how funny/strange is this website? It kind of makes me want to try on a pair of the mister's pants just to make sure they'd fit. It's amazing how some of the couples look almost interchangeable. And some look insane.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The haps

Drinking wine and watching the Oscars, which will be over by 9 pm...awesome.

Picking up my iphone from the floor and realizing that my son must have dropped it one too many times as the screen is now smashed to bits...less than awesome.

Making an appointment with a teenager to fix my phone on the cheap in his living room while his mom supervises (What? He gets great Yelp reviews)...awesome.

Finding out last night that my oldest friend in the world is engaged...awesome.

Finding out last week that an old friend broke up with her long-term boyfriend because he couldn't commit to marriage...less than awesome.

Spending a relaxing week in LA with family, friends and the sun...awesome.

Coming home to a construction zone that used to be my house...less than awesome.

Realizing that the washer/dryer is now fully functioning...awesome.

Having to fold 8 loads of laundry...less than awesome.

Watching my sweet boy hug any dog, stuffed animal, and woman wearing a fur vest that he sees...awesome.

Buying not one, not two, but three different items of clothing (for myself and the shorty) in the wrong size from stores in LA that don't exist here. Not sure why I went shopping without my brain...less than awesome.

Celebrating impending babies, birthdays and brunch this weekend and feeling more and more grateful for the life I've lead, am leading and have yet to lead...awesome.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I actually ordered a non-fat, half-caf today

A man who is not my husband gave me flowers this week. Granted, he was my manicurist at a nail salon and they were wilting red roses post Valentine's Day...details. I'd like to think it was because I wasn't wearing my wedding ring and not to increase his tip, which was pretty generous because I felt so awkward. My husband, to his credit, did give me beautiful flowers on the day of Valentine. I couldn't care less about the "holiday," but they were a pretty surprise. He quite enjoyed his chocolate. And so did I.

Our little construction project has gotten a bit out of hand and we can't really be in our house right now. Road trip! We packed up the car, the kid and headed down to la la land today. We get to see family (in-laws in town) and old friends. Built-in babysitters and people to see-score! Plus, the weather here features real deal California sunshine. Not like San Francisco with it's sneaky, now you feel me, now you don't sun.

This afternoon I saw Patricia Arquette. Without even trying to stargaze. My husband is one of those ridiculous gawking types (so is my sister) who can't read lips or serious eye communiques. He always says (screams) "Who? Where?" as though there is no shame in calling attention to the fact that we are treating people like they are zoo animals. I am much more respectful and silent about it all. I emote internally. Living in LA for three years will train you to not freak out because you realize that celebrities drive carelessly, stand in the aisles for an inordinate amount of time at Whole Foods and usually look a lot shorter and less impressive in person. Stars, they're just like us. I still like seeing them and all the other insanely glamorous people that populate this town. Everyone is so beautiful. And so skinny! I would hate to be a teenage girl growing up here.

This week has been far too scary and stressful for people I love. Here's hoping this weekend provides some much needed relaxation and straight up fun for all.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I believe the children are our future

Poor Whitney. What a tragedy to die at 48 at the hands of her own addictions. Her music changed my childhood. My sister and I used to have Whitney Houston dance parties. The cassettes would be blasting through my pink boom box. I can almost smell the crimped hair now. After I heard the news, I (horribly) serenaded my husband with a few of my Whitney faves. There are so many to choose from, but the greatest for me will always be "The Greatest Love of All."

We're still pretty much under germ house arrest over here so we stayed in and rented "Beginners." It was, quite possibly, the perfect film for me tonight. Equal parts funny, touching and sad-my personal favorite recipe. So much of the movie seemed grounded in reality, so it wasn't surprising to learn that it's based on the screenwriter/director's own experience with his father coming out of the closet in his 70's, shortly after his mother's death. Seeing his father begin to embrace his life for the first time, just as he's nearing the end of it, has a contagious effect on the protagonist. Much of the action, or lack thereof, is revealed in flashbacks. The dialogue and incredible cinematography primarily reveals the charms and flaws of the main characters and draws you into their world. Each was a beginner in his/her own way and trying to make sense of life's great complexities, those that we can control and those we cannot. If you're into character studies and solemn yet winsome tales, check it out.

Feeling very bittersweet as I sip my tea and nibble my dark chocolate (with almonds and sea salt, thank you very much).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Different strokes

Colds really suck. Consider yourself enlightened. I have been fortunate enough to not experience this whole mouth breathing phenomenon for the past year. Between breastfeeding and not living in winter, both my babe and I seemed to have titanium immune systems. Until now. I cannot stop coughing. My throat is raw and scratchy, which makes me want to cough more. Kind of a chicken vs. egg situation I've got going on.

My poor husband has to listen to me hacking away. I feel worse for him than I do for me. Hearing someone cough is probably my biggest pet peeve. When I commuted by train, I would always jump up and run into the nearest car if someone next to me was coughing. Not because of the germs (though I don't much care for them), but because of the sound. It irks the hell out of me. I am always afraid the person is going to launch into a fit and start choking.

But, hearing my son cry is by far the worst sound ever. Thankfully, his coughing has so far been minimal and my world has not exploded. Strangely, this plague seems to be affecting us differently:

My version: Want to sleep in all day and watch soap operas.
His version: Want to get up at least thirty minutes earlier than normal, nap thirty minutes less and go to sleep thirty minutes later.

My version: Employing every tissue and roll of toilet paper in the house to blow my nose.
His version: Employing all the tissues and toilet paper in the house as toilet bowl party guests.

My version: Generally disinterested in all things that are not really hot or really cold foods for the past two days.
His version: Generally disinterested in all things food for past two days.

My version: Whining constantly to anyone who will listen about how much I hate being sick.
His version: Whining much less constantly than normal.

My version: Would almost be willing for someone to suck out my snot using a nose frida.
His version: Would not, under any circumstances, be willing for someone to suck out his snot using a nose frida.

We do, however, both really enjoy examining our snot. He's mine afterall.

I think we're almost out of the woods, people. Catch you on the flip side.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Now, where can I buy some authority?

Why French Parents Are Superior
While Americans fret over modern parenthood, the French are raising happy, well-behaved children without all the anxiety. Pamela Druckerman on the Gallic secrets for avoiding tantrums, teaching patience and saying 'non' with authority.

Pamela Druckerman's new book "Bringing Up Bebe," catalogs her observations about why French children seem so much better behaved than their American counterparts...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

She's the moon

So, right after I posted about Mr. Monk's enthusiastic vocal stylings, I just might have found a way to keep the shrieks at bay...Bon Iver. I played some of his music for my mister this morning and it was like he entered a hipster trance. Good thing he already looks good in skinny jeans.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Don't hate the player, hate the game

When I used to see kids misbehaving, I assumed that at least some portion of the blame fell on the caregiver. Obviously, the mom/dad/nanny wasn't setting limits and guiding the child into a life of productivity, kindness and healthy attitudes about body image and reality television. And maybe this is still true about older children. What the hell do I know about older kids? I have a toddler. A toddler who likes to throw fits in public places and has consequently thrown all my annoying pre-child judgments right the hell out the window with my sanity. I've needed to remind myself many times over the past couple of weeks how much I love my little monkey. He's a hilarious, quirky kid who really enjoys hugging tummies, frozen blueberries and making people laugh. I love his wide leg cowboy swagger. I love his hysterical laughter when I even pretend I'm going to tickle him. I love his excitement about the world, and particularly the sandboxes, around him. I HATE his shrieking.

We are in a Level 1, red-hot, teaming screaming zone these days. He seems to do it most when he has the maximum audience capacity and is surrounded by calm, quiet toddlers who make him look even more maniacal in comparison. The more folks around to gawk at him and mommy, the better. Library storytime offers the biggest return per scream. He makes the most of that forum and goes full-throttle. I believe he's inherited my lung capacity. Yeah, yeah, he's got a lot of personality and he usually screams because he's excited. He's active. He's energetic and spirited. Even though he's not doing it on purpose (or is he?), he's becoming kind of a PITA. But, he's still my PITA. And, I have to take him to these storytimes or else he'll never learn to read or write and will definitely kill squirrels in our backyard.

Not ready to live the life of an agoraphobe, I've been trying pretty much everything I can over the past month to "discourage this behavior." From what I've gleaned while talking (whining) to mommy friends, reading the very much on point and spookily clairvoyant babycenter emails, and grilling his pediatrician, these are the ONLY truths about the situation and my role in it:

1. Stop Caring--what does it matter what other people think about my mini? Apparently, I take this shit way too seriously. After the third person in the playground muses that my son must be a lot of work, you'd think I'd learn to just shrug it off. Chances are I'll never see that person again (and why would I want to since he/she clearly hates happy, sometimes loud toddlers) so I'm determined to stop letting it drive me crazy and feeling like the world's worst mama.

2. Ignore--obviously this is easier said then done, but I am trying as hard as I can to ask Mr. Monk to stop screaming/throwing things/thrusting his pelvis, explain why he should not scream/throw/thrust and then ignore him until the undesirable behavior stops. I really should have gone into acting because I say these things in the sweetest, happiest, most kind I love you voice ever even though I am seething inside.

3. Easy come, easy go--you know those old rainbow striped Emergency Broadcast System TV spots that beeped for a minute and then reminded you that it was just a test? Well, this too is only a test. It might be a hard, annoying one, but it'll be over soon. Most likely, the screaming is a result of him not having the language to properly express himself. So when he does begin to learn more words (everything is "baby" or "this/that" these days), I can look forward to him never shutting up. Right? Right? Please tell me this is just a test of the Emergency Broadcast System and my (mostly) sweet child is not a terrorist.

Blurry, but I love the hair wings