Monday, April 26, 2010

A job well done is on the menu

Seven years of wedded bliss.

And so we celebrated -- in an appropriate manner, I thought. Z-man made a reservation for us for dinner at the restaurant where he works.

I was excited about it because I had never eaten there before, even though it is very close to our house and he has worked in their kitchen for almost a year.

He offered up a description of all the specials in advance, giving us a clue to what we would find (Northern Italian cuisine), and told us what he recommended. Then he asked what we wanted for dessert.

Creme brulee was the winning choice, and he toddled off to work. We followed an hour later, arriving on time for our 7 p.m. reservation.

"Oh, you're Z-man's parents!" the owner greeted us when we arrived. "He told me you were coming in!"

We smiled and followed him to our table. "We love our Z-man," the owner told us.

I smiled.

As we began to look at the menu hungrily, a woman appeared at our table.

"Hi, I'm Sarah. I'll be taking care of you tonight," she said.

"Wonderful," I said, and Z-man popped into view at her side.

"Sarah is my favorite," he said.

"He is my favorite too," she answered. "I just love him. And how do you know Z-man?"

Z-man and I spoke simultaneously.

"I birthed him," I said.

"She birthed me," he said.

And we both laughed

Yes, we are sick like that. In tune with each other. Don't forget, this is the boy whose two-year culinary school absence cut me like a knife.

Z slipped back into the kitchen, leaving us with his favorite waitress.

And so we ordered. Sarah nodded approvingly and, when she brought Wonderhubby another iced tea, informed us that Z-man approved of our choices as well.

We approved of our selections as well. It was delicious, topped off by two creme brulees that were to die for -- made by my boy.

But what was most delicious of all was the number of people who came by our table or stopped us on our way out to tell us how much they absolutely adore my son and what a lovely young man he is.

My work here is done.

Crossposted at Mid-Century Modern Moms

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekly Winners: April 18-24

My photographic world was all over the place this week. From nature to nurture and from the lovely to the grosstastic. But I am going to spare you the nasty photos of the Roo-girl's post-surgical foot (plantar warts are disgusting) and focus instead on the lovelies of nature and my nurturous children.

First, the beauty of the world around me ...

The camouflage tree:

The return to my fascination with fountains:

Next, we turn our view inward -- to the number of remotes it takes to watch a movie on TV in our house:

No, I'm not kidding. One for the TV, one for the Blu-Ray player,
one for the -- ahem -- sound system, and one for the booster.
I cannot for the life of me watch without assistance from some technoid in my house.

And then, we look at children in their natural habitat ... or at play.

Making french toast at the assemble-it-yourself meal place:

This is a mother-daughter treat of an outing. She loves doing it -- and so do I.

Would you like some grated cheese on your salad?

Why, yes, Drama King! Please serve me!

Who is that masked woman?

And lastly, my fave-rave group of kids:

And that, my friends, is everything for today. For more Weekly Winners, visit the WW mother ship, headed by Lotus.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The power of love

Tomorrow is the seventh anniversary of the day Wonderhubby and I said those magic words that started our journey of wedded bliss.

Yep, that's right. It's our magical seventh. The year of the itch.

But fear not. Our marriage is strong, our love is eternal, and we each know how to scratch that itch for the other.

And this year, we decided that, rather than gifts from me to him and him to me, we would buy something from us for us.

Ever the romantics, we are looking at ellipticals.

This gift of health reminded me of our fifth anniversary and the story of the blender of love, originally posted on Holly's former blog and now reprinted here as a stroll down memory lane in honor of our happily-ever-after.

I love you, baby.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For our fifth anniversary, romantic soul that I am, I had the PERFECT present all picked out for my Wonderhubby.

You see, he is a service tech. He works with his hands and scary-looking equipment, and jewelry -- especially rings -- has always been a no-no.

When we got married, I bought him a wedding band, KNOWING that he would wear it only for the ceremony and the honeymoon (because I asked him to) and then it would live in a drawer, never to see the light of day again.

So I didn't put a lot of thought into the band. It was plain and simple.

And came in under budget.

Accordingly, I developed a fair amount of guilt when he did NOT take the band off after the honeymoon.

In fact, he has NEVER taken the ring off.

So you can imagine the trauma this has caused for a neurotic creature like me.

About three years ago, I thought I should do something about it.

About two years ago, I figured out that our fifth anniversary could possibly be biggish-dealish enough to warrant a new wedding band.

About a year ago, I started hatching my plan and looked at rings whenever I was out.

But, truth be told, my man has very large hands. The simple band he has been wearing needed to be resized three times before it was right. So I was a little nervous about getting something that had "decorations" that would be "interfered with" in the resizing process.

So I hesitated.

And debated.

Meanwhile, we began to kid each other about what we should get each other for this auspicious anniversary.

He thought we should get a juicer.

But not just ANY juicer. More like a juicer-blender-pulverizer that did everything but laundry.

It makes juice. It makes hot soups. It makes frozen desserts.

He was in looooooooooooooooooove.

I told him that he lacked any romance or sentimentality in his soul whatsoever.

He told me he was PRACTICAL!


So I continued to stew over buying him a ring. And to worry that he wouldn't like it.

And then several days before our anniversary, I threw caution to the wind and just told him my plan.

And here was his answer:

"While I appreciate the sentiment, if it were bigger or nicer, I probably wouldn't wear it."

That whooshing sound you may have heard was all the air leaving my romantic balloon.

So what does he want?

The juicer.

I'm 100 percent serious.

After all, he said, "what could be more romantic than the gift of antioxidants?"

So. I. bought. him. the. juicer.

He is the happiest married man on the planet today. Which, by association, would make me the happiest married woman on the planet.

All this happiness begets happiness, if you get my drift.

I guess romance isn't really dead after all.

But I do think it's very, very sick.

Maybe a nice healthy glass of juice would help ...

Monday, April 19, 2010

And then I fell over from the shock

Sometimes I wonder where I went wrong.

And then sometimes -- in the most unusual ways -- I find out where I went right.

As I have talked about before, I am currently embroiled in a clash of the titans with Roo. She is champing at the bit to be a woman of independent means. I am holding on to my baby girl with all my might and trying to keep her from growing up TOO fast for her own good.

It's a difficult push-me-pull-you world we live in, the Roo and me, and it tends to make me a little focused on the struggle, rather than the successes.

So imagine my surprise -- my PLEASANT surprise -- when my son Z-man sent me a text message Friday morning.

It was a simple text, signifying nothing, and yet signifying EVERYTHING.

Thursday night -- LATE Thursday night -- Z and several of his friends took off for Coachella, a huge music festival that took over the polo fields in the Inland Empire of California this past weekend.

He's a big boy now. The world considers him a legal adult, and he'll be 21 in a couple of months. So for him to take off for three days of music -- Woodstock style -- is something that I cannot forbid. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't worry.

So I was the cool mom and waved goodbye, telling him only to be careful as they took off for parts unknown.

The next morning -- early the next morning, in fact -- that text came:

"We're all settled in out here. Wish me luck."

Excuse me, but did you get that? My almost-21-year-old son texted me to let me know that he had arrived and was settled in at the festival.

I blinked a few times, and texted him back: "Have fun ... and be careful."

And he answered: "I will."

The story gets even better because on Saturday, while Wonderhubby and I were out running errands, my phone rang in my pocket.

Z-man's ringtone.

"Hello?" I answered, a little hesitantly.

"Hi, just checking in. Letting you know that I'm ok and we're having an amazing time ..."

The rest of what he said is a blur. He was calling to let me know he was ok!

I didn't think this could be topped until Sunday, when he texted me again, not only to tell me how great the music had been but also to tell me approximately when he would be home (sometime today).

I still have the texts on my phone. I'm sure I will leave them there for a long time, as testament to the moment when my son figured out that no matter how grown up you think you are, your mommy will still -- and always -- worry about you.

Crossposted at Mid-Century Modern Moms

Friday, April 16, 2010

Getting your bear-ings

The Drama King was always a smart cookie.

He'd like you to think that he was a tough cookie as well, but truthfully, his smarts are mostly book and not-so-much street.

As a baby, he walked late but talked early. When he was barely 22 months old, he picked up a plastic car and two Care Bear figurines, looked up and grinned at me.

"I go for a ride with Grumpy Bear and Cheer Bear," he chirped, clear as a bell.

I laughed out loud. His older brother, Drummer Preschooler, didn't put a complex sentence together until well after he was 3 and wasn't completely understandable until almost 4, so my second child -- a mini-talkathon -- was both unusual and refreshing to this then-young mother.

This was a loooong time ago. DK is well into his mid-20s now. My stroll down memory lane was triggered by a recent trip to our local Costco, where I found something on the shelf that took me back to those days.

Back past today's happier times, back beyond the dark years, back to a toddler with a head full of dark curls, pinchable cheeks and chocolate brown eyes.

DK was about 2 1/2. At that time, my ex used to take nearly 5-year-old Drummer Boy and do ... whatever ... on Saturdays, leaving DK and me to find our own fun stuff to do. Sometimes we ended up in a local area where there was an old-fashioned toy store.

It was named after the founder and run by his widow, who LOVED for the Drama King and me to drop by because he was such a source of amusement with his dancing eyes and ever-expanding vocabulary.

She would reminisce about her late husband and how he ran the business. I would talk about raising children in the '80s. She and I would watch my toddler son play with trains and the block displays and listen to him chatter.

Then one day he saw it. Up above him, on a relatively high shelf, was a bear.

The bear -- surreptitiously activated by the toy store widow -- moved his mouth and spoke.

And the Drama King stopped dead in his tracks and crouched down, clasping his hands together.

"Da bear," he said breathlessly. "Da bear is TALKING!!!

"Da bear!" he continued. "Da bear is SINGING!!!!"

He looked at me, his eyes wider than I ever remembered.

"I LIKE it!!"

The toy store widow and I laughed until we cried.

That bear -- Teddy Ruxpin -- was among his birthday presents when he turned 3. How could we not, when he had spent hours that summer and fall transfixed in a local toy store, watching this magical creature spin stories and sing songs.

That bear -- the talking, singing bear -- told many tales at our house and was well-loved until his inner workings failed.

That bear -- more than 20 years later -- is making a comeback, sitting on the shelves at Costco to transfix other 2-year-olds.  He looks just the same, but the inner workings are totally 21st century,  leaving the poor 1980s Teddy in the dust.

That bear -- and the memory of the first day he met my boy -- makes me smile.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pearls before whine

The Roo-girl had a dream recently.

In her words, a weird one.

In her dream, she went into a house. Was it our house? She wasn't sure.

In the house was a mom. Roo was clearly aware that it wasn't HER mom. This mom, she explained, was like a 1950s mom.

Donna Reed. June Cleaver. You know the type: perfectly coiffed hair, a lovely belted dress, pearls, the quintessential stay-at-home-bake-me-some-cookies-domestic-goddess mom.

Pretty much everything that I am not.

I don't vacuum in pearls. I pretty much don't vacuum.

I don't bake much anymore either. I used to. But somehow there isn't time these days.

And I am NOT a lovely belted dress person. The first thing I do when I get home from work is strip out of my business-casual clothes in favor of jeans and a sweatshirt.

Do I have guilt over this? Yes, over some of it. The domestic goddess part, for sure.

I wish I could be the kind of mom who had freshly baked brownies to greet my child after school.

I wish I could be the kind of mom who was THERE to greet my child after school.

But that has not been my lot in life. These days, with my non-newspaper new(ish) job, I get off work significantly earlier, but when Roo doesn't have cheer practice after school, she comes home to an empty house.

And that's been her world since the fifth grade, when she convinced me to stop making her go to the afterschool daycare until the stroke of 6 p.m.

So she tells me her dream of the 1950s mom, and I die a little inside.

And then she finishes the story.

"I told her I had to go," she recalls, "and she said, 'I'll be here when you get back.'

"I wasn't sure what she wanted from me. I thought it was really creepy."

Ok, then. The 1950s mom was creepy.

Perhaps that's because the 2010 daughter can't relate.

And I think that still makes me a little sad.

Crossposted at Mid-Century Modern Moms

Friday, April 9, 2010

We're having deja vu all over again

We were watching "Medium" last night, Wonderhubby and I were.

And enjoying a trip through the bizarre dreams of Allison DuBois.

Don't judge, my friends. We have a few guilty pleasures on the boob tube, and that happens to be one of them.

Anyway, a commercial for Walmart came on, touting the Easter specials.

I rolled my eyes. "Easter's over," I scoffed. "They should get their act together."

Wonderhubby agreed. "Pretty dumb."

We went back to the drama.

Next commercial break included one for $10 Easter dresses at Kmart.

Oh, brother. We were both pretty disgusted at that point. Like, what? No one pays attention to the calendar when they book commercials?

And then it dawned on me.

We were watching last week's episode ... on our DVR.


Yeah, we're that dorky.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In other news, the April edition of Room 704's monthly magazine-style blog is out, and (once again) I'm there, baby.

Check it out. (And pay no attention to the fact that as of last night, the blog header still said it was March. Let's do the time warp again ...)

Monday, April 5, 2010

What's good for the gander is good for the goose

The Roo-girl once told me that I am tougher on her than I ever was on her older brothers.

That I yell more. That I am stricter. That I never got all over the boys for stuff I get all over her about.

(Continued at Mid-Century Modern Moms)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Weekly Winners: March 28-April 3



Yeah, I know. I've been a little absent. I have written some, but mostly I've been not here. My reader is about to explode -- I don't think I have read anyone else's blog in a couple of weeks. It's a problem of malaise related to Miss Roo's discovery of my blog, but I'm in recovery mode and promise to get back to the business of living soon.

Meantime, with the end of cheer season, my camera is back in action -- taking pictures of things OTHER than pony-tailed girls flying through the air in black, gold, blue and white uniforms.

Accordingly, I am rejoining the land of the Weekly Winners, the brainchild of the lovely Lotus.

Recently (um, about four months ago), I became the vocalist for a Dixieland jazz band. That, in addition to the a cappella chorus I have sung with for a zillion years. It's fun, it's wacky, we play (and sing) good music.

And we frequently make old people very happy.

This weekend, we had a gig at a local strawberry festival, where we played -- and the audience of seniors danced and clapped and had a blast with us. Here is a taste of our day:

Strawberries and champagne:

 The band (yes, we're a bunch of old folks!):

Look carefully in the back -- that's ME!

Trumpet guy:

Tuba dude:

Amazingly talented clarinet man:

Not everyone liked our music, I guess:

Meanwhile, check out Lotus' -- and other talent photographers' -- Weekly Winners. And I'll try to be a better blog friend.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Panic in the eats

I am not a sandwich girl. I stopped being capable of packing a lunch for myself after years of packing meals for preschoolers and grade-schoolers.

I admit that this is not logical or reasonable. Nor is it economical since I prefer to buy my lunch on a daily basis.

Fortunately, our work cafeteria is a wonderland of choices (the pasta guy and I are likethis) and the prices are reasonable because I. just. can't. pack. a. lunch.

Except during Passover.

If you've been around these parts for very long, you know what Passover means.

It means that my food options more restricted. Nothing leavened. Nothing that could contribute to possible leavening.

It also means that my colon is slowly turning to concrete as I partake of the annual binding food of my people.

And ... it means that my workday eating habits go slightly wacky because I don't eat out during the eight-day holiday.


On a normal work day, I start with Starbucks -- either a chai or (if I'm feeling very fancy) a dark cherry mocha latte -- but no food.

My hunger alarm goes off between 11 and 11:30, and I toddle down to the caff for a bite. Pasta. Or sushi. Or custom pizza. Or sometimes a salad.

A drink.

And possibly something for an afternoon snack: chips, a granola bar, a cookie ... something to make the long afternoon seem a little shorter.

Not really a dramatic amount of food for a day.

Except during Passover.

God help me, because I know that I am restricted from eating most everything in a cafeteria, I make the ultimate sacrifice by making my lunch.

Here's where it gets a little sticky.

Because what if I get hungry during the day and I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH FOOD IN MY BAG????

There is nothing rational about this. I'm perfectly capable of getting through the day without a constant flow of food to my mouth.

But I panic -- and thus, this daily bag o' food could possibly feed a third-world country for a week.

My standard matzah and melted cheese, a bag of pecans, a yogurt, a bag of dried apricots (see issues of concrete colons), leftover matzah brei from the kids' breakfast ... and maybe a kosher-for-Passover chocolate-covered marshmallow (or four).


That's ridiculous.

And yet, I pack a variation on that theme -- and eat it! -- every. single. day.

For the eight days of Passover.

I'm crazy.

But I don't go hungry!
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