Monday, March 29

It Was 70 Years Ago Today...

Imagining a parent as a child is hard to do. My parents were pretty young when I was born--22 for my mom; 27 for my dad. But they always seemed old to me. I was recently watching with my kids a video from 1974 and it's shocking that my parents were actually, truly young. In 1974, my father was seven years younger than I am now. When I was the age he was in 1974, I was a newlywed, no kids. He had two kids, a mortgage, college savings accounts, and an ugly car (really--I don't know what that car was in the video, but it was ugly! For some reason "Cougar" comes to mind. Was that the car?). I knew him when he was 34. I remember when I was a teen, he once said to me, "You know, I may be in my forties, but I still feel like I'm sixteen." I didn't get it then, but I get it now.

Lately, though, I feel like I've had a sense of my father as a kid. Because I look at Doodles and I can suddenly picture my father. In his insolence, in his single-mindedness, in his stubbornness, in his antsy energy, I can see my father, and it's eerie.

My dad turns seventy today. We all know that I don't get mushy on this blog--it's just not my thing--but if I were ever going to get mushy, it would be here. 'Cause, you know. He's my dad. And I love him.

Happy birthday, Peter!


Sunday, March 28

Fish Heads, Fish Heads, Rolly Polly Fish Heads

It's the saga of the fish. Who knew fish would give me such headaches. Tomorrow night is the first night of Passover, and I'm hosting, as I like to do. Out of all the Jewish holidays, Passover is my favorite. I love the story, I love the Seder, I love the food. Doodles, even, is incredibly into it. He came home from Hebrew school today, saying it he loved class today because he learned the fourth question and he got to take home his own Haggadah. He's been practicing the four questions and can't get enough of listening to our Passover c.d.

I've been cooking up a storm. So far I've made: horseradish, Moroccan carrots, Sephardic salad, orange cake, Passover brownies, meringues, candied walnuts (for the haroset), chicken soup, and salmon pate. Tomorrow I make the potato latke "muffins," scarlet chicken, balsamic roasted veggies, and matzah crunch.

But the fish. The fish has plagued me (the famous eleventh plague). I need whitefish, carp, and pike. Basic gefilte fish ingredients. I heard on one of my e-mail lists that the Newton Whole Foods would grind fish for you. So I called it last week. "I hear you grind fish!"

"Yeah," the guys said. "We can grind fish. But we're out of fish."


"Out of fish. Completely out of fish."

"How are you out of fish?"

"Out of fish. Try next year."

I called all around. Tried everywhere. A different Whole Foods assured me that they could order me whitefish. Yea, whitefish! Except he called back the next day. "I called everywhere! No gefilte fish fish!"

Frantic web searches came up with a single recipe that called for tilapia. So I decided to make my fish (a fish loaf from the New York Times Passover cookbook) with tilapia. And I bought the jarred stuff. As a back up.

For some, it's next year in Jerusalem. For me, it's next year in whitefish. Chag Pesach Sameach.

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Wednesday, March 24

Fast Food Fun

The boy and I start watching Food, Inc.. It begins by talking about how fast food has changed the way food is produced in this country. We're not three minutes into it before the boy says, "Mom?"

"Yes?" I reply.

"For my next birthday, can we go to McDonald's?"

"Just keep watching..." I tell him.

We get to the part where they discuss how much corn is in the food we eat.

Me: Do you like corn?

Doodles: No!

Me: Do you know how much corn is in the food you eat?

Doodles: Oh, about 50 gallons!

We got about twenty minutes in when I forced him to bed. We can only watch after Pie has gone to bed, but I refuse to let him stay up that late. I'm sure I'll regret letting him watch it, but I want him to know where his hot dogs are coming from.

This could be interesting....


Monday, March 22

Dear Diary

Report cards came out last Friday and my son is brilliant. Brilliant, of course being a subjective mom's interpretation of grades that run all over the place. Our town has this incomprehensible grading system of B, P, M, and E. B=beginning a skill, P=progressing on a skill, M=meeting expectations, E=exceeding expectations. Doodles had a healthy mix of Ps, Ms, and Es. Brilliant, right?

Anyway, I didn't need a report card to tell me that the area Doodles needs to work the most in is his writing. But of course writing is the subject he likes least and the one he is most reluctant to practice.

Except on Friday, I had a brainstorm. A genius idea! I dug into the attic and found, from 1976 to 1978, my diary. With Strawberry Shortcake on the cover and a lock on the outside. And I read Doodles a few pages. The one that made him the happiest was this one:

(And I cringe reading this. How, at the ripe old age of 9 1/2, did I not know the difference between "loose" and "lose"? I blame my parents.)

Doodles needed a diary. Can I tell you how hard it is to find a locking diary that isn't adorned in Hello Kitty or flowers or fairies? I thought I found a really cool one, but the price was, um, off putting. But I did find one that wasn't great, but wasn't "girly."

The boy is addicted. Every few hours he jumps up and yells, "I need to go write something in my diary!" I'm dying to peer into his journal, but I respect his privacy. And, the fact is, I really don't care what he writes. I just care how he writes. I want to know he's spelling because and not becos, that he's using capitals at the beginning of the sentence and punctuation at the end. I do, at least, know he's writing neatly. As he sat down, I reminded him, "Now, you need to write well enough that your grown-up self will be able to read your handwriting," and as I saw him go, he was making beautiful well-formed letters. So that's half the battle. I plan on going at some point today to buy him a copy of Harriet the Spy. I think that will help to fan the flames.

And who knows? In thirty-five years, perhaps in his blog, he'll scan in a page from his diary to show what he was up to as a kid. I just hope he spells "lose," right.

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Sunday, March 21

Furniture Shopping

I always walk into the Container Store thinking, "This is going to change my life!" and then I walk out the same old me but with one under-the-bed container for wrapping paper, and it's just so sad.

I hate shopping. Have I mentioned that before? I just hate shopping.

We've been in the "new" house for just over a year now. The front room needs a chair and a reading lamp. Right now it has a computer and some Flor tiles. I even hired a decorator last year. She told me I needed a chair and a reading lamp. So we're all in agreement.

Last March, Adam and I spent a day going to Crate and Barrel and Arhaus looking for a chair and a reading lamp. We didn't find what we wanted. We said we'd look again. We didn't.

Now it's March again. Adam got his yearly bonus last week. So we decided it was time to buy that chair and lamp. Adam's parents came over and Adam and I headed for our yearly date to the store. We went to Jordan's. We went back to Crate and Barrel. We did not buy a chair. Adam was game to try more stores, but those two had already tested my shopping limits. I get in the stores. The chairs all look basically the same. I don't like the way they look. Or I do like the way they look but they're uncomfortable. The music is thumping. People have glazed eyes. Kids (and the worst kind of kids--other people's kids!) are screaming. I. Must. Get. Out.

Shopping sucks. Which means the front room is going to stay empty. At least until next March. Next March? I'm sure we'll actually get something then. Yeah. Definitely.


Monday, March 15

Forty Daisies Daisies

That's it. After almost eight years of marriage, for the first time ever, Adam is sleeping on the couch (for the night; everyone knows he naps there regularly). Booted out of the bed. Sleeping solo.

Don't fear. Our marriage isn't in trouble. Just our basement. Adam's camping out on the couch so he can get up every few hours to make sure the waters haven't reached epic Gilgamesh levels (because, let's face it, all the Noah references are getting a bit... draining).

(And I can't get "Rise and Shine" out of my head. Aaaaaggg!)

It's not so dire, as long as someone stays on top of it. Adam stayed home from work today to keep the levels down, and our playroom is still water free (well, except for the water we've tracked through it). It's just the back room and his office. And the waters are at low levels; they just need to be monitored and vacuumed. We've got three sump pumps going--my father-in-law brought the only one he could find in all the New Hampshire hardware stores he checked; Adam waited in line at our local hardware store for their 12:30 shipment; and a neighbor saw my Facebook posting and called to offer me one of hers--so we're better off than most of this town (the local e-mail list is filled with folks trying to find sump pumps and wet vacs. A number of folks are waiting for the fire department to bail them out.)

Adam is only worried about his office, as there's a subfloor than can get moldy. But as I pointed out, he's allergic to mold, so we can just wait till he gets sick and then we'll know there's mold. For some reason, he didn't love that idea.

Tomorrow, Adam seems to think he's returning to work. So I go from a day with Pie to a day with the sump pump. Sump pump. At least it's fun to say. Well, not as fun as "Bombay Sapphire martini with extra olive," but we all must find our fun where we can. Sump pump. Tee hee.


Indoor Swimming Pools

Some days just don't go as planned. Today is one of them.

The weekend was good but hectic with lots of running running running to get to places on time. Doodles and Pie had their last morning of hockey. Hockey ended at 10:30. Pie had a birthday party to attend at 10:30. Run run run. On Sunday, Doodles had Hebrew School at 9. Pie had an introduction to Hebrew school at 9. So Adam took them because I had a 5k race at 11, a baby shower at 11:30, and, as it turned out, Cub Scouts at 3. Run run run.

I promised a friend to run this 5k with her, to make sure she got over the finish line, which she did in fabulous style. She ran faster than I think she had anticipated and it was great. And wet. Very wet. We've got a Nor'easter going on here with, if I may, wicked winds and rain. Oy, the rain. We were soaked before we even got into the car, never mind the race. But let me tell you, the St. Paddy's Day crowd in Somerville is a dedicated one and the race was packed. And the lines for the pubs after were insane. Not that I went. Because I ran to the baby shower.

Show up at the shower, run upstairs to change my clothes. Only... I forgot a dry pair of shoes and a dry bra. So I put my lovely shirt on over my jog bra (which had been under both my shirt and my jacket), but as it was soaking wet, I soon sported what looked like two lovely milk leaks. Fun times! I spent the whole party with my hands crossed over my chest, a la a junior high girl with new breasts, until I got teased one too many times so I flipped my shirt backwards.

I got home with a whole half hour to dry off, greet my family, change my clothes and then get the boy to Scouts.

All the while, I was keeping my fingers crossed. Every Facebook status, it seems, of local folk, every message on the town's Parents e-mail list, even some e-mails on the school's PTO list, was pleading for help on how to get water out of basements. My fingers are crossed. My fingers are crossed. My fingers are crossed.

Guess what? It doesn't work. Adam is home right now trying to concoct some Rube Goldberg-style contraption to get the water out of our basement. Of course, there's not a sump pump to be found, so Adam asked his father who lives the next state over to scour the hardware stores there and to bring one to us. His father is currently searching. I won't bother keeping my fingers crossed that he'll find one. The next step is to build an ark. I swear I saw two squirrels and two raccoons waiting patiently by our back door.

But at least it's a blessed Monday, so while Adam vacuums out the basement, I can give my novel that final read over and try to get it out the door. Oh, wait! That's right. Pie has no school today. For some random conference. But she does have a room full of Polly Pockets and Groovy Girl dolls that she wants me to play with.

Good times, people. Good times.

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Friday, March 12

Workin' for the Man

Doodles and Tab have started their own business. I've insisted they wait till April vacation to really get going, but in the meantime, if you need anything done, they're in service.


Wednesday, March 3

A Bug's Life

Every week we get a delivery from Boston Organics, which delivers a big box of organic fruits and veggies to our door. Now, I've never doubted the organic creds of the company, but a big fat green preying mantis/grasshopper/green thingy that appeared with our veggies definitely speak to the pesticide-free nature of our produce (and made me reconsider my avoidance of all things Monsanto).

Now, I understand it's important not to telegraph our fears and dislikes to our children. I can look any spider in the eye. I can check under dark beds and peer into dark closets without nary a shudder. I can show my kids the baby mice at our local Audubon without throwing up.

But this was a bug I could not face. It's not that the bug was so bad; it's that it was sitting in the kitchen. Pie is screaming. Doodles refuses to go near it. I'm frozen.

"I'll just throw a bowl over it and then we can figure it out," I say.

"Okay," says Doodles.

"Ahhh! Ahhh! Ahhh!" says Pie.

I take a bowl. I approach the bug. I back up from the bug. I approach the bug again. I back up from the bug. I approach the bug again. No can do. What if it jumps away when I put the bowl down?

"You do it!" I say to Doodles.

"No way!" he says and he escapes to the family room to play his Didj.

I call Adam. He's not in. I text him: BUG! Bug emergency! We're trapped in the kitchen!

I call my neighbor Beetle on her cell phone, because I know she's due home from the library any minute. But it turns out her daughter's class there goes longer than she thought, but she'll be by when they're done.

In desperation, I even call my sister. In New York. She was always so good about letting herself into my NYC apartment, while I hid out in the loft bed, to retrieve the dead mice on my floor that my cat would try to turn into lunch. Tweedle Twirp, unfortunately, is unavailable. Or at least screening my calls. One can never be sure.

I put Pie on the counter, because she's too scared to be on the floor, and we watch the bug to make sure it doesn't hop away anywhere.

Finally Adam calls. "Are you kidding me?" he asks.

"It's a big bug. Don't you have a meeting?" I ask.

"It's at five." It was 4:10 at the time.

"Great. You have time to come home, get rid of the bug, and then get back to your meeting."

You'll be shocked by this, but he declines.

"Just smash it with a broom!" he says.

"That will kill it!"

"You want to rescue it??" he asks.

"I don't want to kill it!"

"Here's what you do," he offers as his last suggestion. "Grab a sheet of newspaper. Throw it over the bug. And then have the kids jump on it. Make it a game and see who can stomp on it first."

Yeah, that was helpful.

Luckily, it was only minutes later that Beetle and Tab show up. Of course they ring the front door bell. And we can't get to the front door. Because, you know, there's a bug there.

We open the kitchen door and yell to them to come around.

All I can say is thank goodness for Beetle. She took that bug and scooped it up and took it outside. The bug was rescued. And then it promptly died. Seriously. Right outside. It keeled over. Dead.

You just can't win. And now, I'm going to eat some pesticide-free apples. And try to ignore the fact that my daughter will forever be freaked out by preying mantises/grasshoppers/green thingies. Because of me. Because, you know, you just can't win.

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Tuesday, March 2

On My Plate

If there's a greater torture to mankind than Wow Wow Wubzy, I have no idea what it is. This has got to be the most vacuous, vapid, piece of TV crap ever created. But Pie loves it. And Doodles is off at the Cub Scouts, weighing in his car for the Pinewood Derby, and little Pie wanted to go along too, but can't because it goes past her bedtime, so here I am watching Wow Wow Shoot Me.

I've been pretty focused lately (which is why you haven't seen as much of me here). I'm not really happy with where my novel is at the moment, but I'm probably within days of a complete first draft, at which point my poor beleaguered readers will have to help me parse what I can do to revive it. But it's a good feeling, knowing that I'll at least have the beginning-middle-end all in one piece,albeit one that will need to be dissected and rebuilt. But the body is there.

The crafty world has also sucked me in. For Purim I baked mounds of hamentashen (the ones with Fluff came out fabulously! I highly recommend. They come out tasting like toasted marshmallow and were a huge hit with the under-10 crowd). I've been baking my own bread. I've made turtles and homemade gummies. I've been knitting (see those hand warmers on Pie?) and crocheting (I made that penguin for Doodles when his class was studying penguins). My photo albums are slowly becoming organized. Waiting through dance classes and gymnastics classes and Hebrew school is much easier when I have something to do with my hands.

The final thing I have right now is running. I've signed up to do the Chicago Marathon in the fall with my friend Fish. I'm a little worried about him backing out, and I'm not going to go to Chicago on my own for a race, but I'll have a back up marathon, just in case. But I'd like to get my marathon closer to 4 hours (from 4:13:46). It's already giving me the motivation to run and I'm antsy to get out there. The hint of spring we've had is helping a lot.

So for now, it's Groovy Girls (Pie received a mother load of them as hand-me-downs from Tab, and she wants to spend all afternoon with my playing Groovy Girls with her) and Wow Wow Wubzy. If you were doing this, you'd be anxious to run, too. Far far away.

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