Monthly Archives: March 2012

Bunnies are Scary

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After our visit with Santa last December, I thought I should really talk up the Easter Bunny before dragging the twins to sit on his furry lap.  Because, let’s face it, Easter Bunnies can be scary.  Some of those costumes are much scarier than the fat man in the red suit – sure, sometimes he looks a little inebriated, but at least he has a face that moves and he isn’t 8 or 9 feet tall.  For some reason, Easter Bunny costume designers make him look like something out of a horror movie.  And he’s huge and kids are small.  So I started talking about him with the kids about a month ago.

We discussed what happens on Easter* – the bunny, the colored eggs, jellybeans, lollypops (because they love them), chocolate, special surprises, etc. until Eliza happily rattled off all those things any time the bunny was brought up.  She said she loooves the Easter Bunny!  And so did Jack, because Jack is going through a phase where he thinks exactly what Eliza thinks about everything.  So the bunny was getting a huge thumbs up from both kids.

I had a little time this afternoon, so I drove them over to the mall.  We got on the line and Eliza was like, “Bunny, yes Mommy.  Bunny, Okay!”  Jack covered his face and cried, refusing to even peek at the bunny.  It was in the exact same spot as Santa had been, so I thought maybe he was having a flashback.  I tried telling him Santa was not there and it was our friend the bunny.  He calmed down as we approached the front of the line so I thought maybe everything would be okay and it it wasn’t, I’d just get Eliza’s picture by herself.

Then it was our turn.  As she got in front of the bunny, Eliza went from, ‘Bunny, Okay!’ to ‘No, Mommy.  No bunny, NO BUNNY!!!’  Jack burst into fresh tears.  I tossed the kids on the bunny’s lap and told the photo ladies to get some pictures, quick, quick, quick!

So here it is…Happy Easter!

*No, I didn’t get into a discussion about Jesus and dying and rising from the dead.  We just talked about chocolate and eggs and bunnies.

Grocery Store Cougar

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My husband works in a grocery store.  It’s not one of those regular grocery stores, like Acme or Shoprite.  It’s one of those places that only seems to pop up in wealthier areas because rich bitches ladies will spend $6/lb. on pre-cut veggies and things like that.  Not that I have any problem with people who pay for convenience.  My mom shops there regularly.  So do I, though I really can’t afford to do so.

So anyway, this particular store is consistently on the Forbes list of top 100 companies to work for.  It’s actually pretty high up there on the list, which is of the reasons I filled out an online application for my husband while he was busy working 12-hour shifts at a dead end job.  And when he got the job, I was happy – I mean, really happy, like givethemanaBJ happy (which I really should have done, but didn’t).  It’s been pretty great, because we get so much more family time.  He’s home for dinner every night.  He has taken over the kids’ bath time, which I’ve always hated, and he helps put them to bed.  Plus we have things like dental insurance, which we need.

Another nice thing is that the kids and I can pop in and visit him whenever we’re in the area.  The kids looove visiting Daddy at work!  We usually go see him once a week.  We went in today.

As I walked toward him, trying to maneuver my double stroller around the other shoppers, I see that he and another guy he’s working with are talking to a woman – a woman who was probably in her mid-40s, wearing an outfit made entirely of spandex.  I’d call it workout gear, but she also had a blow out and a face full of makeup so it didn’t look like she was on her way to or from the gym.  But then again, this is Jersey, so full makeup and hair at the gym isn’t all that unusual…

I’ll try to describe the way she was standing.  She had one leg propped up on the shopping cart with that knee bent.  It’s kind of like the position described on the directions for inserting a tampon – one foot on the floor and one leg propped up on the tub.  Except her leg was on the shopping cart and her spandex-clad crotch was facing my husband.

Then it got awkward.

If I hadn’t had the kids with me, I would have turned and walked in another direction.  But they had already seen him and were yelling, “Daddy, DADDY!!”  He turned the shade of a beet and sort of froze.  I stammered, “Uh, you’re busy, I’ll just come back when we’re leaving.”  Co-worker and the woman went on talking like I wasn’t standing there.  Then my husband finally came out and said hello to his children.

So he tried to act all normal with me and the kids while this woman, who was still showing her crotch, was about 15 feet away.  I asked him who she was, and he said she was a friend (or regular customer) of his co-worker.  Oh and she’s a fitness trainer.  But he doesn’t know her and wasn’t talking to her.  So why was he so red in the face?  Because, according to him, he was laughing at the other guy who was flirting with her.

She finally goes to walk away, and makes sure she walks directly next to my husband, while first looking at my children and then giving me a look.

Now I used to be a very jealous person.  I was always suspicious and never hesitated to say so.  But in the last few years, I’ve matured.  I’m not like that anymore.  Or I wasn’t until today.

Here’s the thing.  A woman feels it in her gut when there’s something to worry about.  Many years ago, I was a kid working a summer job in a restaurant.  There was a cook that I had the biggest crush on.  Only thing was, he was almost twenty years older than me and married.  But being the stupid kid I was, I didn’t see that as much of an issue, so I flirted my little butt off.  One day, I had stopped in on my way to the beach to pick up my pay check.  By coincidence, he had stopped in with his family to show them around the place.  I didn’t speak to him, I didn’t even say hi, I just gave a quick wave and walked away.  Next time I worked with him, he said his wife wouldn’t stop questioning him about who I was.  I was confused because not only had we never done a single thing more than flirt, I also had barely even acknowledged him in front of her that morning.  But she knew there was something to be worried about because she felt it when she saw me.  And she was right, because a few weeks later, it went beyond flirting.

So now I’m her.  Now I’m wondering just what I interrupted today.  Was it really nothing?  Or is it something I should be worried about.  Even if it was something, it’s not like he would have confessed right then and there.  He’d lie.  Right?  Ugh.

Cupcake Hell

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That’s where I’ve been for the past few days.

I got it into my head that I was going to start a cupcake business. I was thinking it would be something where people would place orders for parties or whatever and I’d make like 300 beautifully iced cupcakes and deliver them in cutesy boxes. Then people would oooh and ahhh over how adorable and intricately decorated and, of course, delicious my fabulous cupcakes are, leading to more and more cupcake orders. And after a few orders, I would have so much business, I’d be a wealthy (and very busy) woman. Genius!  Only issues is, I don’t really have any baking or cake decorating experience.  But what the hell, how hard can it be?

So my friend’s sister’s birthday party?  The one where she asked for my help with some cupcakes?  That was going to be the perfect debut for my budding cupcake empire.

I scoffed at the idea of baking from a (*gasp*) box.  I insisted on finding recipes and baking everything from scratch.  Then, I felt that a plain, iced cupcake was way too boring.  My cupcakes needed a filling.  I thought maybe a chocolate ganache or some caramel would be lovely.  I should mention that, quite often, my imagination completely takes over and execution and logistics can be damned.  I told my poor husband my plans, and he just looked at me sadly.  He’s a cook by profession and knew exactly what I was getting myself into.  He knows that I typically lose steam about halfway through the project (and certainly well before the big clean-up has to happen).  He also knew if he were to discourage me, my reaction would have been, shall we say, unpleasant.  The final thing he knew was, his day off?  It would be spent on his own with our two-year old twins because mommy would be busy destroying our already clusterfuck of a kitchen.  And then there would be the mess I’d inevitably leave behind…Oh, did I mention we don’t even have a dishwasher?

I woke up yesterday morning at 7 am, brimming with excitement to start my project.  The plan was for me to bake the cupcakes during the day while my friend was at work.  Then, I’d bring the cupcakes to her and we’d ice and decorate them together.   But I totally thought I’d be doing the decorating while she sat off to the side, awed by my creative genius.  I am so dumb.

So, I got back from the grocery store around 11 am (I’d forgotten some ingredients and gotten the wrong kind of butter) and got started.  Actually, I taped the recipes to the cabinets, then paced around my kitchen, wondering where to start.  I decided to do the chocolate cupcakes, because I had to pick something.

Five hours later, I had 95 cupcakes (I ate one) and about 24 minis.  Most of them had been filled with ganache, because the caramel had been a little messy.  I had washed the dishes, bowls, pans, spoons, spatulas, etc. at least forty separate times.  And there was still a sink full of dishes.   By the time I was supposed to be getting everything ready to decorate, I was completely disenchanted with the whole thing.  My cupcake empire was seeming more like, welljust look at the title of this post.

But I’d made a commitment, so instead of climbing into the shower and then flopping my ass on the couch for the rest of the evening, I changed into some comfy gym clothes and headed over to get started.  After some procrastination, a salad and some wine, I started making the icing.

Butter cream icing is the messiest, stickiest, most disgusting thing to be dealing with.  It’s somehow greasy and sticky at the same time.  Add food coloring to it and it’s even more difficult to clean up.  And it was everywhere.  We fell into a system where I iced and she decorated with the toppings (gold sugar and feathers – eww).  We were having a good time, but that kitchen had seen better days.  Sometime around midnight, the cupcakes were finally done and we wiped the last bit of powdered sugar off the black granite counter tops.

I was pleased with the finished product.  The cupcakes tasted good and she did a really nice job decorating them, though I personally wouldn’t have done feathers.  They looked cool, but I’m a firm believer in not using anything to decorate food that can’t actually be eaten.  Feathers are like bird hair, right?  That’s not appetizing to me.  But hey, it’s her party, so I do what I’m told.  As far as my future in the cupcake industry, let’s just say I have a ways to go before I’m offered a show on the Food Network.  Unless it’s a show about a completely disorganized ameteur who, after reading baking/cooking blogs, attempts to bake things way beyond her experience level and winds up making just okay cupcakes and a giant mess.  Is there a show like that?  Maybe there should be…hmm.  But as for my little business idea?  Um, no.  I could never do that every day.  I don’t think I even want to look at another cupcake for a very long time.

A short conversation with my children

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This morning, a friend asked me to help her bake cupcakes for her sister’s sweet 16 party.  I tried to keep the ‘squeeeeee!!!‘ out of my voice as I text back, ‘Yes, yes, YES!’  I love cupcakes.  I love baking them and decorating them and, above all, eating them.  The first two, I’m not so good at.  Yet.  But I’m practicing.  And that last part?  I’m pretty much a pro.  My children are also big fans of the cupcake.

So I went directly to the computer and searched for pictures of cupcakes that went along with her theme colors.  I was paging through blogs and of course, the almighty Pinterest for ideas when my little boy padded up behind me.

“Cupcake?” he asked, tentatively.

“That’s right, Jack, cupcake.”

“Cupcake!” he yelled, with excitement.  Eliza heard and came up on my other side.

“Cupcake! Cupcake! Cupcake!”

Both kids were bouncing up and down, obviously thinking I was going to pluck one of those delicious treats right out of the computer screen and hand it to them.  Shit.

“No, no, they’re not real cupcakes, just pictures of cupcakes.  We don’t have any cupcakes.”

“Cupcakes! Yay!”

“No, look.  Just a picture.  Here, touch the screen.  See?  No cupcakes.”

“Cupcakes, okay, Mommy.  Cupcakes, Okay!”  That’s what Eliza says when she wants something.   She suggests it, I’ll say it back to her and she’ll say, “Cupcakes (or whatever), Okay!” like, “Hey, what a great suggestion, Mom.  I’m so glad you thought of it.  Cupcakes, Okay!”

“No cupcakes.  We don’t have any cupcakes.”

“Okay, no cupcakes.  Cupcakes, okay!”

We were going in circles.  Thankfully, an episode of Bubble Guppies distracted them from the cupcake pictures and I quickly changed the screen before they came back.

(Reluctantly) Flying with Children

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My brother graduated from college this past December and I really wanted to be there to see him walk.  He went to school in Florida so it ended up being our first real family vacation.  Initially, we planned to drive.  For months, our plan was to rent a car, pack the kids and gear in somehow, and drive to Ocala, where my parents had rented a house. As the trip approached, I started thinking about it and there was nothing that was going to be easy, fun or relaxing about this trip.  It was less ‘vacation’ and more really, really long drive with two-year old twins.  Oh God.  By November, I was seriously panicking.

I remember going to work one day and a coworker asked why we didn’t just fly.  I had never even considered it for a lot of reasons(price, hassle, umm, etc?), the biggest of which is, I’m a big fat chicken.  I hate flying.  I’m scared to death of airplanes.  The few times I’ve been forced to fly (honeymoon, brother’s wedding, etc), it’s really come down to the very last moment whether I would actually get on the plane.  We almost didn’t even go on our honeymoon.  As we stepped from that accordion platform thingy onto the airplane, I started hyperventilating and had to get off.  I cried and begged S not to get back on the plane.  He said we could do whatever I wanted, but also that we’d paid a lot of money for this and it was our only honeymoon. But if I wanted to go home, he wouldn’t be mad.  He must have known I wouldn’t ditch out on our honeymoon.  If roles had been reversed, I would have said, “You don’t want to come?  Okay, see ya in a week.”  But I went, of course I went.  I marched to my seat like I was marching to my own death.  It’s seriously like that every time.  You know the original Final Destination movie?  Exactly like that.

Anyway, I hadn’t even considered flying for this vacation.  My parents were driving (because my mom is afraid of flying too) and I had assumed it would be ridiculously expensive for S and me and the two kids to fly.  But when I got home and looked online, it turned out that flying would actually be a lot cheaper than renting a car and driving.  Turns out, kids under two can be lapped.  Also, the airline checks strollers and car seats for free.  And, they will bring your stroller right to the gate so you don’t have to drag the kids to baggage claim to find it.  Um, score!

I realized that it was unlikely that my 23-month olds would want to be lapped for two hours, so I compromised and got one seat for the two of them.  I figured I’d just buy out a row and have the adults block them in by the window.  It seemed like the perfect solution.  AND, we would get two extra days of vacation because our trip would take two hours each way instead of two days.  And let’s be honest.  Two-year old twins?  In the car?  For TWO DAYS?????  No, thank you, to put it politely.

Finally I found something that trumped my fear of flying.  I sucked down a glass of wine and I ordered tickets online, right then, before I had a chance to change my mind.  I did go through some pre-trip flight panic.  But again, when I thought about the alternative, there was no way in hell I’d rather do the drive.  So I got my kids and my husband to the airport and flew our asses to Florida.

The kids were pretty great on the way down.  I won’t lie – I was a panicky mess.  I ordered two airplane bottles of vodka and a can of club soda as soon as the flight attendants came around with the snack cart.  It was just after 6 am.  Yes, I really do hate it that much.  I did apologize for drinking so early (and with two kids) but she didn’t seem to care. We were told to bring tons of toys and snacks and dvds to keep the kids occupied.  It was so cramped in our seats, the only thing I could reach was the snacks.  But it worked out fine because they were perfectly happy just playing with the magazines and menus and eating goldfish.  Really, it was a pretty awesome and quick flight down.  We all enjoyed looking out the window and watching sunny Florida come into view.  As the plane touched down, just a little over two hours after we’d boarded, I was giddy with vacation anticipation.  I couldn’t believe anyone would choose to drive over flying!  Because flying was awesome!!  I mean, how easy-peasy was that?  Also, I was a little buzzed.

The vacation was so much fun.  We went to some cool places, like Harry Potter World at Universal.

Pretending I got my letter of acceptance to Hogwarts

The whole gang in front of the castle

We saw my brother graduate and went to a party where we tried grilled dove wrapped in bacon (don’t ask).

This was Eliza's favorite part

We went to the Kennedy Space Center and a bird attacked me while I was holding Jack and I dropped him on the pavement (Jack, not the bird.  I wish I was quick/badass enough to drop the bird because that bird was an asshole).

Asshole bird

My dad chauffeured us around Florida for five days in a row.  We did all sorts of things and went to parks and ate out and drank wine from a box that we bought at Target.  It was seriously fun.  And seriously tiring.  And the kids didn’t take one nap the entire trip but they slept great at night.

And then it was time to go home.

The flight home wasn’t nearly as smooth as our first one.  Eliza stretched herself out like a board, refusing to sit either on our lap or on a seat.  Basically, Jack took the window, S got the middle and I sat on the aisle.  Eliza the Board sprawled out across the three of us, doing a screech/whine combo that started before we even began taxiing.

I really couldn’t blame her though.  We’d spent much of the vacation in the car, driving from destination to destination.  They got car sick once, and both projectile vomited within minutes of one another.  Jack actually woke up from a sound sleep to vomit.  The rental smelled like ass from that point on, despite taking his car seat apart and washing the whole thing.  All of their normal habits were disturbed for a week straight.  So what I’m saying is, by the time we got on the plane home?  The kids were just plain DONE.  Imagine if we were getting in the car to drive home for 17 hours instead of flying for two?  Yeah, that’s enough to get my ass on a plane.  Hell, I’ll get on a thousand planes before I do an end-of-vacation drive home with two toddlers.  So again, we got on the plane and dealt with Eliza’s tantrum, thankful that it was only a two hour trip.

She was a monster for almost the full two hours.  Jack was slightly better, but not much.  So when the plane touched down in cold, rainy Atlantic City, NJ, I said a silent prayer of thanks.  Not that we got home in one piece (though I was certainly thankful for that too), but that my children made it without causing a major disturbance on the airplane.

As we got up to get off the plane, a very sweet old lady in the row in front of us turned around and told me my children were so well-behaved on the flight.  Now maybe she’d been in a cramped, public space with her own screechy children many years ago.  Maybe she remembered the sweating and prayers and the begging them to just please be quiet for fifteen more minutes.  Maybe she remembered the looks from the single guy in the row next to us who was just trying to read a book (eff that guy, btw).  Or maybe she needed to get her hearing aid adjusted.  Whichever the case, I thanked her very much for being sweet and dragged my little monsters off the plane.

Pop Pop

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S’s dad, aka Pop Pop, stopped over today after work and took the kids for a walk in the wagon. They were gone about ten minutes and when they got back, Pop Pop said, ‘You really need to teach them to listen.’ Yeah, I know.

They really don’t listen at all and I have no idea how to teach them, say, not to dart into the street the moment I let go of their hands. So I always hold their hands. But I see other parents who can let go of their toddlers and those toddlers stay pretty much where the parents leave them. Or the parent goes on walking and the toddler trails along after her like one of those little ducklings. How? Why? What did they do that I haven’t done?

We live on a busy street. There are train tracks in front of our house and a commuter train flies by every 10-15 minutes. And my kids happen to LOOOOVE that train. It’s not really a good street to learn on. But I do recognize that Pop Pop is right. These kids need to learn.

I’m sort of at a loss here. Maybe it’s because there are two of them and if I let go of both of them, chances are, they’ll dart in opposite directions. Then what?

How am I going to do this when I’ve never even been able to train a dog? You know those people who can walk their dogs off leash and the dogs just follow along? My dogs dart when they’re off leash. Same as my kids. It must be something I’m doing wrong.  Or not doing.  Aren’t humans born with the instinct to, like, stay ALIVE?  Ugh.  It’s like I need one of those professionals…

Oh God, this sounds awful…but…can someone come help me train my kids?!?! 😛

“I Luh-boo”

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Eliza says, ‘I luh-boo, Mommy’ instead of ‘I love you, Mommy.’ It is, by far, my favorite thing she has ever said and hearing it reduces me to a pile of goo every single time. Jack says it the same way, because he learns all his (mis)pronunciations from her. And hearing him say it has the exact same result.  It’s heart-melting, honestly.  I will be so sad when they start saying it the right way because I know from experience, they’ll never mispronounce it again. Eliza has been saying it like this for a few months now, so I know that time is coming, probably soon.

She used to mispronounce a lot of words, then justlikethat, she started saying them the right way. There was no warning, no transition. She just stopped saying it one way and started saying it another. These were some of my favorites.

Butterfly/flower were both ‘Bra-bra’
Pumpkin was ‘Pum-O-Kin’
Grandpa was ‘Paw’ or ‘Pa’
Mommy was ‘Mom’ (said just like a snotty little teenager – ha!)
Pancake was ‘Cake cake’

There are so many others that I’m not remembering right now. I’m afraid if I don’t write them all down, I’ll just forget about them and they are way too cute and special to forget.  Part of me wants to say I want them to stay small forever.  But watching them grow and learn has been the greatest joy of my life.   I’ve heard the word ‘amazing’ is overused.  But that’s exactly how they make me feel – amazed.  Every single day, I wonder at some new word or mannerism that wasn’t there the day before.  They truly are amazing.

Eliza and Jackie, I luh-boo, too. ❤